democracy (9)

The Business Model...

10792466095?profile=RESIZE_710x

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

"Maxwell Smart, a highly intellectual but bumbling spy working for the CONTROL agency, battles the evil forces of rival spy agency KAOS with the help of his competent partner Agent 99." Source: Internet Movie Database (1965 - 1970)

There were several spy genres on television as well as on the big screen. "I Spy" with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby were undercover agents posing as a tennis pro and coach. There was "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."; "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E."; "The Wild, Wild West"; "The Saint"; "Mission: Impossible"; and "The Avengers" to name a few. Sean Connery inhabited James Bond, S.P.E.C.T.R.E., like KAOS, a metaphor for the Soviet Union.

Speaking of Russia:

COINTELPRO The FBI began COINTELPRO—short for Counterintelligence Program—in 1956 to disrupt the activities of the Communist Party of the United States. In the 1960s, it was expanded to include a number of other domestic groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panther Party. All COINTELPRO operations ended in 1971. Although limited in scope (about two-tenths of one percent of the FBI’s workload over a 15-year period), COINTELPRO was later rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging first amendment rights and for other reasons. Source: vault.FBI.gov/COINTELPRO

We were balancing a world post-WWII and launched into a Cold War. We nearly annihilated the human species a year before the March on Washington, a year after I was born. We also had assassinations of significant leaders: Medgar Evers (June 12, 1963), President John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963), Malcolm X (February 21, 1965), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968), and Robert F. Kennedy (June 6, 1968). So spy shows tried to give us escapist fantasies from an era with great music, but it was a decade soaked in blood and angst.

It seems I recall - my parents received two newspapers: the Winston-Salem Journal in the mornings (now the only paper) and the Winston-Salem Sentinal in the evening. If you were a business advertising, you had a higher price for the morning than the evening paper. The evening news consisted of local from 6:00 - 6:30 pm, and national from 6:30 - 7:00 pm. After that, you got the spy series, game shows, or comedy series. They seemed to receive a decent amount of information they felt they needed to be informed, citizens. They and society as a whole also seemed: calmer. Instead of 24 hours of programming on a plethora of channels, which we'll probably never view in a single human lifetime, the television went to a test pattern at midnight. There were a lot fewer insomniacs back then, and we had relief from the blood and angst - at least for brief respites.

The more we learn about the insidiousness that underlies social media in the new documentary "The Social Dilemma," the more it seems like the film is bringing a slingshot to a nuclear war. What we learn in this movie is that our brains are being manipulated and even rewired by algorithms that are designed to get our attention and make us buy things, including buying into distorted ideas about the world, ourselves, and each other.

"The Social Dilemma" is from Jeff Orlowski, who gave us the similarly terrifying "what are we doing to ourselves" documentaries "Chasing Coral" and "Chasing Ice." This one might as well be called "Chasing Us" as it asks fundamental and existential questions about whether we are literally writing (with code) ourselves out of the ability to make vital decisions about our own survival. Source: The Social Dilemma, Roger Ebert dot com

Part of what I remember from the documentary is emotion: anger engages us to click on a display, an ad, or fire off (what we think is) a witty missive in a comments section.

Monomers as metaphors

Monomers can bind with like molecules to form polymers in nature. The Internet has allowed us to combine with like-minded individuals at lightspeed over vast distances. Just because an extremist in North Carolina converses with an extremist in Norway, that they have found a "crew" in a chatroom, that they are vibing off each other, it doesn't mean that each of the other is "right." E.g.: Everyone in the fictional Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane thinks the citizens of Gotham are dumb schmucks and that Batman is a violent, vigilante psychopath (that last part might have a tinge of truth to it). That they would make the Penguin Mayor of Gotham and the Joker President also makes my point: a polymer of individual mental patients grouped together might give itself the name Qanon, and believe Secret Jewish Space Lasers cause fires in California.

Unlike Europe and the United States, Russia has a clear stance on Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s hope for the future is his Eurasian Union, to be established next January as a rival to the European Union. Belarusian and Kazakh strongmen are game to join his dictators’ club. But since the idea has little popular support anywhere, Eurasian integration can take place only in conditions of Russian domination and local dictatorship. For Mr. Putin, the Eurasian Union would be meaningless without Ukraine. Eurasian ideology is the brainchild of Alexander Dugin, who has never disguised his admiration of fascism. His website publishes Russian strategists who claim that Ukraine is not a sovereign state.

Don’t Let Putin Grab Ukraine, Timothy Snyder, NYT, February 3, 2014

I've read Alexander Dubin's name in Snyder's book, "The Road to Unfreedom." Referred to as "Putin's brain," he may have influenced the war in Ukraine. Two Medium writers, Nadin Brzezinski and B Kean have both suggested that Dugin planned and approved of the assassination of his daughter by the FSB. I'm almost expecting Dr. Evil.

This ain't really a life, ain't really a life, ain't really nothing but a movie. "B-Movie," Gil Scott-Heron, Genius Lyrics

So-called "strongmen" use KAOS/chaos as their toolbox. They're really not strong: Putin, Orban, Xi Jinping, Trump: the tendency towards authoritarianism shows individuals internally insecure with not having the final word or the solution to any problem. It's why Orban seized control of the media in Hungary: can't let those reporters say mean things about his ineptitude. Xi's response to Covid is probably worse than ours if he let his scientists speak to those in the west and share information (this secrecy births conspiracy theories whether they're true or not). Putin was best at turning individuals against their nations but by rank a Lieutenant Colonel and low-level bureaucrat. He seized power by a staged terrorist attack before the year 2000: he exploited Russians' fear and need for security: KAOS/chaos.

A world run by the weakest of men (it's always men) is a world on fire, a societal, psychotic episode, a saturation of 24/7/365 angst: KAOS/chaos.

I can only conclude now the model is KAOS/chaos without a balance of order/CONTROL.

Read more…

Leverage and Looting...

10285051082?profile=RESIZE_400x

Image Source: Storytelling for Everyone

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Fascism, Politics

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of doors, gates, and transitions. Janus represented the middle ground between both concrete and abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end, youth/adulthood, rural/urban, war/peace, and barbarism/civilization.

Source: Anderson Lock Blog (they're apparently locksmiths and historians on the side)

Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression runs on the money Russia gets by selling fossil fuels to Europe. And while Ukraine has, incredibly, repelled Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv, Putin won’t be definitively stopped until Europe ends its energy dependence.

This means that Germany — whose political and business leaders insist that they can’t do without Russian natural gas, even though many of its own economists disagree — has in effect become Putin’s prime enabler. This is shameful; it is also incredibly hypocritical given recent German history.

The background: Germany has been warned for decades about the risks of becoming dependent on Russian gas. But its leaders focused on the short-run benefits of cheap energy and ignored those warnings. On the eve of the Ukraine war, 55 percent of German gas came from Russia.

There’s no question that quickly cutting off, or even greatly reducing, this gas flow would be painful. But multiple economic analyses — from the Brussels-based Bruegel Institute, the International Energy Agency, and ECONtribute, a think tank sponsored by the Universities of Bonn and Cologne — have found that the effects of drastically reducing gas imports from Russia would be far from catastrophic to Germany.

How Germany Became Putin’s Enabler, Paul Krugman, New York Times Opinion

Humans are the only obstacle to enacting renewable energy, and it is because of the secular gods we worship.

The European term "oligarch" has come into vogue because of Russia's war crimes in Ukraine. "Oligarchy: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes," Merriam-Webster. The Austin Chronicle wrote a prescient piece in 2010: "Letters at 3 AM: 'O' is for Oligarchy," and the 2014 essay by professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page: "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (Cambridge University Press). The end of the abstract:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

In what follows, we briefly review the four theoretical traditions that form the framework for our analyses and highlight some of the most prominent empirical research associated with each. We then describe our data and measures and present our results. We conclude by discussing the implications of our work for understanding American democracy and by identifying some of the directions for future research that our findings suggest.

Neither 2010 nor 2014 targeted Russian oligarchs. Our versions are called billionaires.

Investopedia definition of "billionaire":

The term billionaire refers to an individual with assets or a net worth of at least one billion currency units in their native currency such as dollars, euros, or pounds. Billionaires are extremely rich, with assets ranging from cash and cash equivalents to real estate, as well as business and personal property.

Subtracting liabilities from assets results in an individual's net worth. A billionaire's assets generally include things like cash and liquid investments, personal property such as real estate, jewelry, cars and other vehicles, and furniture. Business interests such as equipment and commercial properties are also included if the individual has a personal stake in a corporation.

Billionaires make up a small and very elite club of powerful individuals—both men and women—in the world. These people control enormous sums of money and the power and influence that comes with it.

Russian oligarchs steal their monies from Russian citizens and hide their gain in America, England, France: anywhere other than the places and eleven time zones that they live.

The Pandora Papers revealed the offshore shell game our plucky, Ayn Rand billionaire class (as well as some millionnaire celebrities we may LIKE) use to shield their money from taxes: the British Virgin Island, Belize, Samoa. American oligarchs own politicians, mostly in the Republican Party, but then there's Joe Manchin and Kristen Senema. The Democratic Leadership Council once embraced a "third way," ostensibly to siphon a lot of that American oligarch blood money to their election coffers, just like their Republican colleagues. It just meant they couldn't pay that much attention to African Americans, Hispanics, the LGBT, Women, and their concerns. Blue-collar workers, feeling rightly abandoned, fled to the former Grand Old Party, fed a steady forty-year diet of white grievance minstrelsy through AM talk radio, Fox Propaganda, and its myriad clones on sponsored networks and Internet cult personalities. After forty years of gaslighting, the minstrelsy has produced performance artists masquerading as politicians.

Gregg Abbott wants to bus immigrants at the border to Washington. He hasn't done anything since the deep freeze in Texas revealed their independent, libertarian ERCOT grid wasn't ready for the impact of climate change. Speaking of that, Texas climatologists are warning conditions are favoring a long drought this summer, summers that routinely hover around triple digits on the regular. Droughts mean fires, and evacuations like the ones we've seen in California are more likely. But no matter. Book banning. Bounties on women that exercise their rights to abortion (for now). Busing immigrants that I assume he'll have to "round up" (I doubt that, nor fighting drought fires is cheap, and he can't just stick the blue Texans with the bill). Book banning. Bounties. Critical Race Theory. Priorities.

A single individual making $100,000 per year will make a million in a decade. That same person would need 10,000 years to make their first billion dollars, or storage places for the monies in countries that they don't live in, and pliable politicians and banks to hide the theft.

Fossil fuels give American and Russian oligarchs leverage over the rest of the planet. Whether your grocers are Cosco, Harris Teeter, HEB, Kroger, Sam's Club, or Stop and Shop, the cost of food is directly proportional to the price of gas the truck driver has to pay at the pump to deliver it. The cost of gas is directly in your face at the pump. Students are paying legal loan sharks for the cost of education in America, more than in any other similar industrialized nation. Thus homeownership is falling among young Americans. Five-thirty-eight says they're leaving organized religion, and that might have a direct correlation to student loan payments that prevent them from moving out of their parent's house, settling down, and paying tithes and offerings as well as the aforementioned grievance minstrelsy. Churches without young people become museums. But the cost of living is leverage oligarchs execute over the populations of their countries. As many misgivings as I have for Elon Musk, we need SpaceX and other launch systems to get to the International Space Station or any other endeavor we pursue. Soyez isn't a space program: it's leverage.

Janus represented the middle ground between both concrete and abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end, youth/adulthood, rural/urban, war/peace, and barbarism/civilization.

Or, clean energy and extortion, existence and extinction, authoritarianism and democracy.

Read more…

Breadbaskets and War...

10230562281?profile=RESIZE_400x

Image Source: Hub Pages

Topics: Biology, Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Politics

The cornucopia’s history lies in Greek mythology. There are a lot of different stories it might have originated from, but the most common one tells the story of the lightning god, Zeus. As an infant, Zeus was in great danger from his father, Cronus. Zeus was taken to the island of Crete and cared for and nursed by a goat named Amalthea. One day, he accidentally broke off one of her horns, and in order to repay her, he used his powers to ensure that the horn would be a symbol of eternal nourishment, which is where we get the idea that the cornucopia represents abundance.

The History Behind the “Horn of Plenty”, Winnie Lam, Daily Nexus

*****

Russia’s war highlights the fragility of the global food supply — sustained investment is needed to feed the world in a changing climate.

Six boxes of wheat seed sit in our cold store. This is the first time in a decade that my team has not been able to send to Ukraine the improved germplasm we’ve developed as part of the Global Wheat Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Texcoco, Mexico. International postal and courier services are suspended. The seed had boosted productivity year on year in the country, which is now being devastated by war.

Our work builds on the legacy of Norman Borlaug, who catalyzed the Green Revolution and staved off famine in South Asia in the 1970s. Thanks to him, I see how a grain of wheat can affect the world.

Among the horrifying humanitarian consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are deeply troubling short-, medium- and long-term disruptions to the global food supply. Ukraine and Russia contribute nearly one-third of all wheat exports (as well as almost one-third of the world’s barley and one-fifth of its corn, providing an estimated 11% of the world’s calories). Lebanon, for instance, gets 80% of its wheat from Ukraine alone.

Broken bread — avert global wheat crisis caused by invasion of Ukraine, Alison Bentley, Nature

Read more…

Kristallnacht...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Amid the GOP's nationwide push against teaching about race and sexuality in schools, two members of the Spotsylvania County School Board in Virginia advocated for burning certain books, according to the Fredericksburg-based Free Lance-Star newspaper.

This came as the school board directed staff to begin removing "sexually explicit" books from library shelves, after voting 6-0 in favor of the removal, the Lance-Star reported. The board has plans to review how certain books or materials are defined as "objectionable," the paper said, which opens the door for other content to be removed.

Courtland representative Rabih Abuismail and Livingston representative Kirk Twigg both championed burning the books that have been removed.

"I think we should throw those books in a fire," Abuismail said. Meanwhile, Twigg said he wanted to "see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff."

November starts with the intensity of electoral politics. For other nations, the election cycle isn't "big business." The only similarity between The New York Times, and Newsmax is each follows a business model that relies on orchestrated anxiety and eyeballs. The "fourth estate" is yellow journalism now if it ever was something else noble.

Elections in other countries have weekends for early voting, and the event is a holiday in many places. The forces that don't want a "crisis of democracy" in the United States prefer to keep our current malaise at the slow speed of the status quo, and if possible, reverse time politically in defiance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and time's arrow.

November should be the time to remove the October festival/Halloween decorations and begin to think of family gatherings (that we can do now that vaccination rates are going up), and the gentle pressure to advertise the Christmas/Hannukah/Solstice season on radio, television, and department store muzak.

A synagogue in Austin was set ablaze. "Antisemitic and racist stickers and flyers were found at Ramsey Park in central Austin Tuesday morning," according to KXAN.com. The antisemites were arrested for their crimes.

Ryan Faircloth was arrested for firebombing the DNC headquarters in Austin, Texas. He was later released on a mere $2,500 bond. Elected officials are getting death threats. Election workers are getting death threats. This didn't have to happen. The model existed before 2016. Fascism is born of fear. The fear is they are going to be the numerical minority, that the default "norm" will no longer be white culture and Norman Rockwell greeting cards.

Bill O'Reilly harangued Dr. George Tiller ("Tiller, the baby killer") until he was murdered by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder.

Sarah Palin posted "don't retreat: RELOAD!" along with gunsights over the headquarters of democrats, including Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords. The conservative democrat survived an assassination attempt by Jared Lee Loughner, answering the call of the former Wasilla Mayor as if it came from Mount Sinai or Mount Olympus.

There is shouting at medical professionals, teachers in classrooms, and people wearing masks on planes, or in public places. For peace of mind, good people will not serve as election officials, seek public office, work in medicine, or education. Since "nature abhors a vacuum," we will see the rise of what used to be the mad quackery that John Boehner and Paul Ryan tolerated from Paul Gosar to "win." The quackery will become the center and the "Grand Old Party" is no longer the "Party of Lincoln," but a banana republic.

Terrorism (noun): the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

Reuters identified more than 100 threats of death or violence made to U.S. election workers and officials, part of an unprecedented campaign of intimidation inspired by Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. The response so far: only four known arrests and no convictions.

U.S. election workers get little help from law enforcement as terror threats mount, Campaign of Fear, Linda So and Jason Szep

"Kristallnacht, (German: “Crystal Night”), also called Night of Broken Glass or November Pogroms, was the night of November 9–10, 1938, when German Nazis attacked Jewish persons and property. The name Kristallnacht refers ironically to the litter of broken glass left in the streets after these pogroms. The violence continued during the day of November 10, and in some places, acts of violence continued for several more days."

Kristallnacht, Brittanica.com

It took eighty-three years to go from the pogroms of Europe to the Kristallnacht of America.

We are on the precipice of a dystopian apocalypse.

Read more…

De Facto Secession...

9552631489?profile=RESIZE_710x

How We Got Here: A timeline of the removal of the Lee monument, NBC12 on your side.

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Democracy, Fascism, History, Human Rights

 

Fourteenth Amendment
Section 3
No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

 

Constitution.Congress.gov/Amendment 14/Section 3

If Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment had been followed, no statue of a traitorous general would exist on Virginia's Monument Avenue to take down.

The first "Big Lie" was the lost cause narrative that made saints of sinners, heroes of traitors. The unfortunate assassination of President Lincoln left us with his Democrat (the conservative party at the time) successor, Raleigh, North Carolina native Andrew Johnson that pulled the troops protecting newly freed African Americans, gave cover to domestic terrorists like the Ku Klux Klan, and de facto inaugurated Jim Crow.

The first "Big Lie" erected totems in a fever-pitch construction project to NOT face the consequences of losing the Civil War. The "lost cause" was proffered by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The north was "aggressors" that invaded the south because of "their way of life": owning [human] chattel.

Georgia

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years, we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.

Mississippi

A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.

Battlefields.org: The Declaration of Causes of Seceding States (Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia)

"Big Lies" metastasize, mutate: grow. Like the Coronavirus, if a vaccine is not discovered, if the truth does not curse the darkness of willful ignorance, it will find paths of lethality.

According to Battlefields.org, the Civil War cost an estimated 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

The 1918 Flu Pandemic cost 675,000 in the US, and 50 million worldwide.

The current once-in-a-century apocalypse is 4,619,721 worldwide, 674,515 in the US. We have blown past the Civil War. We will exceed the 1918 pandemic before Thanksgiving.

A "march" next Saturday will celebrate a mob hellbent on overturning an election as "patriots." The Capitol Police has monitored, and seen credible online traffic suggesting violence. One point: the Million Man March in 1995, led by Louis Farrakhan did not result in violence, bear spray, deaths, or police officer suicide.

The unvaccinated are the offspring of the first "Big Lie," making possible the second lie, and its afterbirth, insurrection, and likely insurgency. Lies unchallenged lead to death: Fox Propaganda pushed ivermectin - a de-wormer for horses, cattle, dogs, and ironically: sheep - over a safe vaccine that has proven itself to save lives.

The Forty-Sixth President of the United States will commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 by visiting the sites of the attack in Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, and New York in a solemn ceremony. The loser of the 2020 election, lamenting the removal of a traitor's statue on Monument Avenue, so needy of attention that he cannot "fade away" will with his equally nauseous, narcissistic hellspawn, who couldn't stay married to the mother of his five children "comment" on an Evander Holyfield demonstration match. No one can enjoy the performance of a preening popinjay except psychopaths. "Hail to the thief."

I’ve lived 55 years in the South, and I grew up liking the Confederate flag. I haven’t flown one for many decades, but for a reason that might surprise you.

I know the South well. We lived wherever the Marine Corps stationed my father: Georgia, Virginia, the Carolinas. As a child, my favorite uncle wasn’t in the military, but he did pack a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun in his trunk. He was a leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Despite my role models, as a kid, I was an inept racist. I got in trouble once in the first grade for calling a classmate the N-word. But he was Hispanic.

As I grew up and acquired the strange sensation called empathy (strange for boys anyway), I learned that for black folks the flutter of that flag felt like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. And for the most prideful flag waivers, clearly, that response was the point. I mean, come on. It’s a battle flag.

What the flag symbolizes for blacks is enough reason to take it down. But there’s another reason that white southerners shouldn’t fly it. Or sport it on our state-issued license plates as some do here in North Carolina. The Confederacy – and the slavery that spawned it – was also one big con job on the Southern, white, working class. A con job funded by some of the antebellum one-per-centers continues today in a similar form.

You don’t have to be an economist to see that forcing blacks – a third of the South’s laborers – to work without pay drove down wages for everyone else. And not just in agriculture. A quarter of enslaved blacks worked in the construction, manufacturing, and lumbering trades; cutting wages even for skilled white workers.

The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is. By Frank Hyman

"If you're black, you were born in jail, in the North as well as the South. Stop talking about the South. [As] long as you are south of the Canadian border, you're [in the] south." Malcolm X, "The Ballot or The Bullet (Detroit Version)". Malcolm X's speech at a meeting sponsored by the Congress for Racial Equality in Detroit, Michigan, April 12, 1964.

"Big Lies" metastasize, mutate: grow. "Big Lies" cause secessions, historical, or de facto through denial of history, science, climate change, vaccines, the age of the earth, or the universe. "Big Lies" cause insurrections: 1861, and 2021. "Big Lies" is the result of cowardice in not facing who we have been in our history, and thus be surprised at where we as a nation are going. "Big Lies" drive fearful citizens in Appalachia to alcoholism, obesity, opioid addiction. Fear of an uncertain future leads to fascism in rural America, longing for the "good old days" that for people of color, never existed. "Big Lies" halt the 2020 Census to the chagrin that the demographic time bomb set when this nation needed free, and low-wage workers to practice their especially sadistic, and brutal kind of capitalism are Chaucer and Malcolm's "chickens that have come home to roost."

"Big Lies" drive out-of-work coal miners in West Virginia or Kentucky, and the ever-changing, and diversifying South to put their hopes in a reality show carnival barker, six bankruptcy, five deferments, fake bone spurs, failed fake universities, crumbling real estate empire magnate from New York City. "Big Lies" is suicidal for a republic.

If there is a lesson in all of this it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic if you can keep it." The brevity of that response should not cause us to undervalue its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

Perspectives on The Constitution: "A republic, if you can keep it," By Richard R. Beeman, Ph.D.

 

 

 

 

Read more…

Stupidity Exhaustion...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism

 

"Against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain." Friedrich Schiller

 

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity, we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments, the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable, they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this, the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

 

One of the Republican candidates in the obtuse recall election of Gavin Newsome, Larry Elder, admitted he didn't have the temperament to be Governor: he is the frontrunner due to name recognition as a conservative talk show host. “If someone tells you who they are the first time, believe them.” Dr. Maya Angelou. This is 2016 redux: even if he loses (which, for California's sake, I hope he does), he's getting absolutely FREE publicity. Flattery and narcissism gave us four years of incompetence, greater than 600,000 dead Americans, and dysfunctional, dystopian governance. Elder isn't stupid: he has a Juris doctorate. He's apparently violent, brandishing a weapon to threaten his ex-fiancé (smart woman). He is a callous opportunist who, like his orange muse, doesn't care about the damage his decisions would have on his state if he were to win the governorship. He would copy the stupidity of Greg Abbott, trying to block voters that look like him, prohibit mask, and vaccine mandates, open beaches to offshore drilling, and revoke any environmental protections. The current exodus from California would be put on steroids.

 

We've had four years of "sweeping the forest" to manage climate change, drinking bleach, or shining flashlights up our rectums to find the COVID, and now, ivermectin instead of vaccines, deworming, instead of leeches and swamp roots, perhaps? There are fires burning acres in California, flooding in New York subways, Philly streets, and tornadoes in New Jersey. After Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida came sixteen years to the DAY, and the most consequential nation that could do something about climate change did NOTHING.

 

In other words, we have serious problems to consider that will ensure the survival of the human species and life on THIS planet. Ignoring climate change has only exacerbated its effects. We've ignored it since 1979 when the fossil fuels industry knew about the effects of their product. Their action was to hire the same law firms that obfuscated the effects of cigarette smoking. Instead of terraforming Mars, we should try terraforming Earth.

 

Neither did Texas remotely think about deputizing citizens to narc on women who might want to get a Constitutionally protected right to abortion due to incest, sexual assault, or the mother's health and zygote being compromised. "Deputizing citizens" means anyone on planet Earth getting $10,000 for suing doctors, nurses, clinics, partners, relatives, Uber drivers. "Deputizing citizens" is what this nation did to catch fugitive slaves. What if a blue state made it a crime to own a firearm? The 5-4 precedent made "the rule of law" in a nation that used to pride itself on that oxymoronic. How is this the common good? How is this E Pluribus Unum? The Republic of Texas, after midnight Tuesday, started looking like the Republic of Gilead. Flights out to relocate women should be arranged with the same urgency we evacuated Afghanistan. Athletic events, sports, tourism will take a hit. No one visited Chile during the rule of Augusto Pinochet, nor are few interested in traveling to North Korea to visit Kim Jong Un. Assholes aren't good for economies.

 

The state of Texas Republicans did not think twice about restricting voting rights for BIPOC: black, indigenous, people of color, the young, the aged, the invalid. A sign at the border on IH-10: "drive friendly, the Texas way" should likely receive an edit. They follow Florida in COVID-19 caseloads, and their hospitals are overflowing. The priority of the "family values" party is power, not babies or democracy.

 

There is exhaustion dealing with stupid people. By stupid, I do mean they fall into two camps: one is callously ambitious, saying what "plays to the crowd" for the advantage of seizing power. But like the dog that catches the car or Wil E. Coyote catches the Road Runner, they don't quite know what to do with the goal once it's attained. In other words, the chase was all that mattered. The other camp is the most terrifying: the Dunning-Kruger cultists, or people so convinced of their "greatness," so enamored with their superiority; you'd have a better chance of lecturing to a canyon; stone walls absorb more information. D-Ks cannot be rationalized with; D-Ks cannot be convinced. They will wear you down by a consistent drumbeat of drivel. It doesn't have to make sense, and that's the point!

 

Editorial boards used to exist in newspapers once read widely. They still do, but the advent of social media diminished their powers. Editors would peruse your words for grammar, diction, paragraph length, and LOGIC. It was an honor to be published in "letters to the editor" and a means to build up your writer's clips in the old school.

 

Social media has no editorial board, except for AI that applies moribund rules that make absolutely no sense (case-in-point: the septuagenarian Twitter adolescent that got his privileges revoked after so much damage and misinformation DROPPED 73% when his accounts were revoked). The more outrageous, the more misspelled it was; it didn't matter as long as it goes "viral," which wasn't a thing before the medium.

 

An entire party has emerged from the comment section of Facebook posts. "Owning the libs" is the only organizing ethos. Conservative intellectuals like Bill Krystal, Mike Lofgren, and George Will left the party that did not get better with the advent of Sarah Palin. A race-to-the-bottom led to the Chief Executive of incompetence and the governors of Texas and Florida cloning his ghoulish body count. They are speaking to the Dunning-Kruger, mask fighting, vaccine, and science-denying crowd. They are racing for the brass ring of dumbed down. Their orange, sandaled Golden Calf spoke to the Dunning-Kruger crowd because he IS them.

 

Trolls, like gremlins, should not be fed after midnight. That, unfortunately, happened in Texas. They have awakened a sleeping giant of women voters.

 

The 2018 tsunami continues in 2022, 2024, and perhaps, saves a republic.

 

Read more…

MisInfo Wars...

9275939687?profile=RESIZE_710x

Image Source: Link Below

Topics: COVID-19, Democracy, Economics, Existentialism

Eric Boehlert nailed it on Press Run: the Murdock variant. I alluded to this Friday. True-to-form, the gaslighting led to a selloff on Wall Street of almost 800 points, from fears of the Delta variant conservative news outlets have been sacrificing their own viewers to impact. Question: Didn't Rupert Murdock, owner of Fox and the Wall Street Journal just lose money? Aren't all conservative oligarchs with propaganda outlets losing money?

The only thing that makes "sense" is that instead of news organizations, conservative "news" outlets are essentially a congress of sociopaths.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy today issued a public advisory on health misinformation, calling it a “serious threat to public health” and encouraging all Americans to help slow its spread during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. To that end, the National Academies have been addressing misinformation in health and science on multiple fronts and are taking steps to help cultivate a fact- and evidence-based information environment.

“This pandemic has demonstrated as never before how critical it is not only to combat false and misleading claims but also to get clear, understandable, and potentially lifesaving health guidance to the public,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “The National Academies are eager to support the surgeon general in this effort and are committed to working with the research community, health care providers, government agencies, and others to help amplify credible, authoritative health information.”

“Misinformation is worse than an epidemic: It spreads at the speed of light throughout the globe, and can prove deadly when it reinforces misplaced personal bias against all trustworthy evidence,” added National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. “Research is helping us combat this ‘misinfodemic’ through understanding its origins and the aspects of human nature that make it so transmittable."

The surgeon general’s advisory defines misinformation as “information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time,” and notes that, although some knowingly and deliberately share misinformation, many others do so inadvertently because they are unaware of any inaccuracy or they are raising concerns or seeking answers. The rise of social media has also enabled misinformation to be spread more quickly and frequently.

As Surgeon General Urges ‘Whole-of-Society’ Effort to Fight Health Misinformation, the Work of the National Academies Helps Foster an Evidence-Based Information Environment

Molly Galvin, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Read more…

It's Funny, Until It Isn't...

8949475061?profile=RESIZE_710x

What Charlie Chaplin Got Right About Satirizing Hitler. Austin Collins, Vanity Fair

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

 

The Great Dictator—Charlie Chaplin’s masterful satire of Adolf Hitler—began filming in September 1939, right at the start of World War II. By the time it was released in 1940, the Axis had been formed, and Nazis were already occupying much of France. The threat was not at all abstract: critic Michael Wood notes that the movie premiered that December, in London, amid German air raids. The following December, of 1941, would yield its own devastating threats from the air—this time on American soil, which would clarify for Americans the realness of this war by bringing it home.

 

It was, in other words, a strange moment to be making a comedy about Adolf Hitler—even a satire holding him to account, and even one in which Chaplin himself, who was at that point one of the most famous movie stars in the world, famous for playing the ambling, lovable Little Tramp, took on the role of Hitler. In 1940, Germany and the US had yet to become enemies; feathers, it was worried, would be ruffled by a movie like this. But Chaplin was already unwittingly bound up in the era’s iconographies of evil. His likeness, the Little Tramp, with that curt mustache and oddly compact face of his, had already become a visual reference for cartoonists lampooning Hitler in the press. And he was already on the Nazis’ radar: the 1934 Nazi volume The Jews Are Looking At You referred to him as "a disgusting Jewish acrobat." Chaplin wasn’t Jewish. But he was frequently rumored to be. And when he visited Berlin in 1931, he was mobbed by German fans, proving that his popularity could surpass even the growing ideological boundaries of a nascent Nazi Germany—hence their hatred. Vanity Fair

 

It's funny until it isn't.

 

TV producers described how they smoothed out President Donald Trump's rough edges in The Apprentice, helping mold the image that lifted the serially bankrupt businessman to the presidency.

 

"I don't think any of us could have known what this would become," Katherine Walker, a producer on five seasons of the NBC reality show told The New Yorker for its January 7 edition. "But Donald would not be President had it not been for that show."

 

The Apprentice was first aired in 2004 and presented Trump as the ultra-successful real estate deal-maker who would choose from a cast of candidates competing for a job in the Trump Organization. Trump's catchphrase on the show was, "You're fired," which he would deliver pointing at that week's unsuccessful candidate.

 

Editor Jonathan Braun told the publication that Trump would fire contestants on the show on a whim, forcing editors to "reverse engineer" programs to make Trump's decisions seem coherent.

 

Working With Trump 'Was Like Making the Court Jester the King' Says 'Apprentice' Producer, Tom Porter, Newsweek</p>

 

It's funny until it isn't.

 

Tom Phillip's opinion piece in Newsweek is probably cathartic, except to the six million Jews who died in concentration camps, along with Gypsies, the LGBT, scientists his incompetent clown show managed to efficiently slaughter.

 

Kevin McCarthy, Moscow Mitch, nor the PFKAR (pronounced "PFF-car": the Party Formally Known As Republicans) are interested AT ALL in democracy, nor are their constituents. Squish and Turtle are trying to scuttle the 1/6/21 investigation, styled on 9/11 (that wasn't great either), styled on the boondoggle Benghazi Commission, styled on the Watergate Commission, styled on the Kerner Commission, styled on the Pearl Harbor Commission: a commission is for fact-finding, and in the fact-free environment of PFKAR, that's Kryptonite. Neither of them wants to answer questions that might lead to some of their members being criminally indicted for treason, as insurrection is covered in the US Constitution.

 

Mary Caitlyn wrote on her blog, "The Swamp" the fourteen points of fascism as a warning in 2018. Peter Wehner states it quite plainly in The Atlantic: The GOP Is a Grave Threat to American Democracy. Jeet Heer stated this observation in The New Republic in 2016: they are NOT interested in democracy! How many times must the obvious be stated? WTF are cyber ninjas? The only other option in the modern is authoritarian fascism, and a return to a Medieval caste system of lords and serfs, which negates the reason for the American Revolution, or the "democratic experiment." They're enthralled, bedeviled, bewitched by a disgraced, banned-on-social-media-septuagenarian blogger who is days from criminal indictments in several cases, in several states! I breathlessly await the alternative facts spin on fascist QAnon propaganda outlets! Indictments lead to arrest warrants, his "mini-me" Death DeSantis can't block his extradition, and a few toothless wonders armed-to-the-teeth (ironic: they could have invested their money in better dental care) will volunteer to protect Dumbo Gambino in Mar-a-Sicko while he fires up his private jet for the getaway, forgetting the poor rubes putting their lives on the line for his sorry ass. "Winning."

 

It's funny until it isn't.

 

Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,” says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors’ gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret “Goof Gas” gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the last episode of “Bullwinkle.”

 

Another senator wants to raise taxes on everyone under the age of 67. He, of course, is 68. Yet a third stands up to demand, “We’ve got to get the government out of government!” The Pottsylvanian spies decide their weapon is unnecessary: Congress is already ignorant, corrupt, and feckless. (I wonder if this is where Reagan got his zinger and the GQP's raison d'etre?)

 

How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire, Beth Daniels, Smithsonian Magazine

 

It's funny until it isn't.

 

Adenoid Hynkel was a spoof of Adolf Hitler by Chaplin. Ronald Reagan went from Bedtime for Bonzo to the Oval Office. Dumbo Gambino went from a spoof of himself as a successful real estate mogul to the cause of mass deaths by negligence, the cheerleader for a modern insurrection against the government he was elected to lead, and the current instigator of a brewing domestic terrorism insurgency that will tear the republic to shreds.

 

It's funny until it isn't.

 

Daniel Ziblatt, a political science professor at Harvard and the co-author of How Democracies Die, told Intelligencer, “I think it’s pretty clear that there was a somewhat serious effort to steal this election. It’s not going to succeed. In that sense, the acute normative crisis has passed. It doesn’t mean our checks and balances have worked.” He pointed to what he described as “a chronic slow-burning problem” within the American electorate, the “radicalization” within the Republican Party. “One can’t have a democracy [in a two-party system] where one of the two parties is not fully committed to democratic norms.” Ziblatt described the current situation as an escalation of constitutional hardball, where political actors “sniff out weakness in constitutional structure,” violating long-standing norms if not technically the law. He pointed to the Trump-led effort in 2020 to have Republican-controlled state legislatures pick their own electors to throw victory to the president, regardless of how their states voted.

 

Is Trump’s Coup a ‘Dress Rehearsal?’ Ben Jacobs, The New Yorker, December 27, 2020

 

Trumpery (noun): 1. something without use or value; rubbish; trash; worthless stuff. 2. nonsense; twaddle: His usual conversation is pure trumpery. 3. Archaic: worthless finery. Dictionary.com, see also: Merriam-Webster

 

It's funny...until it isn't!

 

Read more…

Mask Mandates and Starships...

8657935084?profile=RESIZE_710x

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Democracy, Existentialism, Human Rights

Thank you, Reginald!

You're all signed up for "(1st Dose) COVID - 19 Vaccine Clinic."

Vaccine Appointment

03/11/2021 (Thu.) 1:45pm - 2:00pm EST

Location: NC A&T Alumni Foundation Building (200 N. Benbow Rd.)

My Comment: Older graduate student, 58 years.

Thank you for registering to receive dose 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note the following:

The instructions noted the address (I knew), where to park in proximity to the NC A&T Alumni Foundation building, instructions to enter the building from N. Benbow Road, and to bring a valid student ID. The same building I've celebrated the Greensboro Four every first of February, kicking off African American/Black History Month at the nation's largest HBCU.

My wife received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum. It's the ten-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daichi accident. I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on also ironically, the first anniversary the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2, the Novel Coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic.

Every STEM major student at a primary or historically black college suddenly was thrust into a world of "I Am Legend" protocols against an invisible zombie apocalypse. Navigating research to attain a Master's, or Ph.D. is challenging enough: add to it KN95 masks, 3.66 meters of social distance (12 feet, for the British unit crowd), washing hands, hand sanitizers every 10 meters, and protocol-driven digital, and analog sign-in/sign-out for contact tracing. There's also been isolation, the lack of banter with classmates, no lunches between experiments, or card games. Science is from our hunter-gatherer ancestors: it's a social exercise. Our worlds have been reduced to the dimensions of our laptop monitors, the visual cues common to hominids in conversation reduced to two-dimensional "Zoom fatigue."

To cope with the angst of "sameness," I retreated, or returned more apt and accurately, to spoken word poetry: STEM extended by one vowel is STEAM, the "A" for art, and Einstein played the violin. On Sundays, I perform for a venue in Austin, Texas that's called "Spoken and Heard," started by a friend going by the stage name "Element 615" (don't bother looking it up: it doesn't exist), managed by some poetry friends, and streamed on Facebook and YouTube via Skype. Our poetry tends to center on the topics of the recent week's news.

"Mask Mandates and Starships" was my reaction to the day before, the state of Texas lifted their statewide mask mandate. The news for Greg Abbott's re-election looked grim after botched handling of a once-in-a-hundred-years climate change event (that seems to be occurring annually). If Abbott didn't learn anything from the last administration when you can't solve a problem: bluff, blame, and deflect to something else. Gaslighting 101. It solves nothing but shows his disdain for the citizens of Texas: he really thinks they're stupid. No one rows a boat, or pilots a light sail in multiple directions. It gets you nowhere fast.

The thesis of the piece is, it will take extreme and global cooperation to build ONE vehicle capable of interstellar travel, let alone a fleet of them. The same cooperation we're going to need to get out of this pandemic. Though there is much writing of papers on the Alcubierre Drive, a breakthrough to superluminal speeds taking us to other worlds is highly unlikely. We're born, will live, and die on this one. Hopefully, so will our progeny. We still have radiation poisoning, the current, and future pandemics, climate disasters that are occurring with the frequency of subway lines in New York, or Philly. Continuation of any civilization isn't guaranteed, and discontinuations have many precedents in history.

Zoonotic diseases aren't new, and they tend to strike every one hundred years. The Great Dying was due to the introduction of things like measles, smallpox, influenza, typhus, and tuberculosis to Native American populations by the invasion of Spain and Portugal to the Americas. It is naïve, and ignorant to name any pathogen after its point of origin; racist and xenophobic to center it on one culture. It is also placing whole populations not responsible for the spread in danger of physical violence, which solves nothing. The first piece of legislation on immigration was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, meant to curb the rise in their population for ten years, signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. This is in America's DNA. Tribalism and any other narcissistic "ism" will not save us.

Asian Americans scapegoated. Black Lives (obviously don't) Matter. The LGBT are human beings, not scarecrows hung like Matthew Shepard. Women's Rights ARE Human rights. Unless the pathogen was dropped on us from Alpha Centauri, it, and we all live here.

We either live together or die miserably, and sadly into extinction.

What if this pandemic, / Is Gia’s test / Before we leave the nest? / “In space, no one can hear [you]r screams,” / No matter replicators or Uber Eats, / No 911 to call for assistance, / No tribes to define oneself with, / No conservatives, liberals, republicans, or democrats, / The only question is, “no rescue is coming; can WE fix it?” / No poetic Latin words E Pluribus Unum, / The only governing philosophy boiled down to three letters: GSD, equaling “get shit done!” / More “final frontier” than we’ve ever been,.. from "Mask Mandates and Starships."

We conclusively know now we cannot gaslight a pandemic. 543,690 deaths, and counting. If we can't do the simple things, are we mature enough to become a space-faring species?

What if? Are we?

 We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe. Chadwick Boseman, as King T'Challa in the movie, "Black Panther" (Rest In Power), from Internet Movie Database.

Read more…