fascism (65)

Fifth-Column Fascists...

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

Note: I will be attending the funeral of my brother-in-law. I will take a blog break to mourn.

[A] fifth column, clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation’s solidarity by any means at their disposal. The term is conventionally credited to Emilio Mola Vidal, a Nationalist general during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). As four of his army columns moved on Madrid, the general referred to his militant supporters within the capital as his “fifth column,” intent on undermining the loyalist government from within.

A cardinal technique of the fifth column is the infiltration of sympathizers into the entire fabric of the nation under attack and, particularly, into positions of policy decision and national defense. From such key posts, fifth-column activists exploit the fears of a people by spreading rumors and misinformation, as well as by employing the more standard techniques of espionage and sabotage. Source: Britannica.com

When I saw this, it was usually on a UHF channel after school. The subtle racist trope against Japan happens at the 2:42 mark, tarnishing its brilliance. (In light of our current appeal to diversity, equity, and inclusion, I'm preparing you for the shock.) The cartoon was produced in 1943, and the stated Axis powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan. Inclusivity wasn't the point: rage to continue the fight, then, and now, delivers a potent message. The cartoon served as a simple illustration of what a fifth column infiltrator, or in this case, internal grey-colored collaborator mouse, A.K.A. Tucker Carlson, looks like.

Tucker Carlson again questions why the US would side with Ukraine over Russia, Sinéad Baker, Insider.com

"My office is now getting calls from folks who say they watch Tucker Carlson and are upset that we're not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine, and who want me to support Russia's 'reasonable' positions," Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said in a tweet on Monday afternoon.

Democrat says Tucker Carlson viewers telling his office the US should side with Russia, Dominick Mastrangelo, TheHill.com

Do you know whose parents immigrated from Ukraine? Leonard Nimoy, who gave us the "live long and prosper" Mr. Spock salute from his Jewish synagogue traditions.

Public-opinion polling shows that Trump’s low opinion of American elections has practically become Republican Party orthodoxy. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Republicans have an “unprecedented” level of “concern and mistrust in the system.” Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it’ll be due to fraud. In both this poll and an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, only half of Republicans say they’d accept a Clinton victory. (In the latter poll, by contrast, 82 percent of Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory.)

This suspicious Republican electorate is joined by growing ranks of conservative politicians, pundits, and intellectuals. They’re all increasingly willing to say that the existing American political system is hopelessly flawed and needs to be rolled back to the days before blacks and women could vote. On the most obvious level, this can be seen in moves by Republican governors all over America to make voting more difficult, through stringent voting ID laws, new hurdles to registration, and the curtailment of early-voting options. Equally significant has been the gutting of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act by conservative Supreme Court justices in the 2013 Shelby Country v. Holder ruling.

The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy, Jeet Heer, The New Republic, October 24, 2016

Speaking of mice: Tennessee is blocking the graphic novel, Maus (I ordered it). 1/27/2022 yesterday was the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The 1619 Project by Nicole Hannah-Jones is being referred to BY name and blocked. Reich Wing governments in red states are blocking Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved." "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee can hurt fragile feelings, this sentiment from people who mocked the left, and wore t-shirts to tell us: "F Your Feelings." Yeah.

On Wednesday, the Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. appeared on Oprah Winfrey's celebratory post-election special. After learning the news, Gates says, "we jumped up, we wept, we hooped and hollered." It is hard to overestimate the historical significance of the election of the first black U.S. President. For many blacks, and certainly, for much of the country and world, Obama's victory is an extraordinary step toward the redemption of America's original 400-year-old sin. It is astonishing not least for its quickness, coming just 145 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation effectively ending slavery and four decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. And it is even more astonishing for its decisiveness — Obama carried Virginia, once the home of the Confederacy, a place whose laws just five decades ago would have made the interracial union of his parents illegal. (See pictures of Barack Obama's family tree.)

What Obama's Election Really Means to Black America, Steven Gray, TIME, November 6, 2008

What Obama's election meant to White America was the eruption of racist tropes in the form of Obama-as-Hitler, Obama-as-Medicine-Man-Voodoo-Mystic, Obama-hung-in-effigy. The right-Reich-wing echo chamber kicked into high gear on television, podcasts, the Internet, and AM talk radio. White America was telling Black America precisely what they thought of having a black president. We weren't in "post-racial America," and the years of detente between the cultures was a smokescreen, a strong delusion.

Despite the fact that the 46th president has appointed more judges than any other president, despite the fact that the economy has grown faster than my senior year in college as an undergrad (1984), the Orwellian programming has his numbers in the statistical toilet. My theory is because 1. he's competent, 2. he's boring, which is largely what he promised after four years of 140-character COVFEFE-misspelled rage tweeting and genuflecting to Vladimir Putin from his megalomaniacal predecessor. What matters in our entertainment-first-news-later fourth estate of "journalism" is rage viewing, ratings, and clicks. We have forgotten what "normal" looks like if we ever knew.

We are ignoring the fifth column among us. They are armed. They want to "take their country back," as Glenn Beck (unvaccinated, caught covid TWO times) led chants at the Lincoln Memorial on August 27, 2010. "In 2012, a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey reported that Fox News viewers were less informed about current events than people who didn't follow the news at all." (This is FORBES! Read that again at the link.) The fifth column is pissed that they have to now share with "others": African Americans, Asian Americans, First Nation Peoples, Hispanics, Immigrants, LGBT, women, and haven't shared well since kindergarten. Sharing power is what happens when a democracy diversifies, and they have shown - from their electorate, their elected officials, their contrived laws to block votes, their propaganda outlets, and their brown shirts, to have little interest in doing that.

Watch what you're watching

Fox keeps feeding us toxins

Stop sleepingStart thinking outside of the box

And unplug from the Matrix doctrine

But watch what you say,

Big Brother is watching

Watch what you're watching

Fox keeps feeding us toxins
Stop sleeping
Start thinking outside of the box
And unplug from the Matrix doctrine
But watch what you say,

Fox Five is watching

"Sly Fox," by Nas, Genius Lyrics, and YouTube

We are whistling in the dark on the road to fascism.

2 Thessalonians 2:11 "And for this, cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had to pleasure in unrighteousness."

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire

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Endgame...

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Source: Marvel Disney Plus

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

Happy New Year, of a sort.

This kind of post would appear on a Friday, but it appears today on the one-year anniversary of an insurrection that one party that attempted it, is denying that they did try to overthrow the government.

"Problem 1. Suppose that we use a revolver with six chambers and one bullet. Calculate the probability of death of the first man mathematically.

"Suppose that players A and B play the game, and A is the first player. A takes up the gun in the first round and pulls the trigger. This time the probability of his death is 1/6.

"If A survives, then in the second round, B takes up the gun and does the same, and if B survives, then in the third round, A takes up the gun and does the same thing.

"Let’s calculate the probability of A’s death in the third round. If A is to die in the third round, A must survive the first round. The probability of survival for A in the first round is 5/6. After that, B has to survive in the second round. There are only five chambers and one bullet, so the probability of survival is 4/5. Then there are four chambers and one bullet, and the resulting probability of death is ¼.

"Therefore, the probability of death for A in the third round is 5/6 x 4/5 x ¼.

"As to the probability of A’s death in the fifth round, we can do almost the same calculation, and we get 5/6 x 4/5 x ¾ x 2/3 x ½.

"Finally, the probability of death of the first player A is 1/6 + (5/6 x 4/5 x ¼) + (5/6 x 4/5 x ¾ x 2/3 x ½) = 3/6 = ½."

From: "Elementary Theory of Russian Roulette: interesting patterns of fractions," Satoshi Hashiba, Daisuke Minematsu, Ryohei Miyadera

It's serendipity that the date of the modern attempted overthrow of our Democratic Republic, 1/6/2021, corresponds with "Russian" Roulette.

I've been asking myself this same question over again: "what is the endgame?" The Republican Party in 2016 at the influence of the convicted (and indebted) campaign manager, Paul Manifort, dropped any mention of opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine. In 2020, they opted for the "Seinfeld Platform" of nothing and garnered 7 million MORE votes than the previous attempt to usurp democracy.

In the summer of 2016, McCarthy endorsed Trump for President, but only after the In the summer of 2016, McCarthy endorsed Trump for President, but only after the interloper from New York had sewn up the nomination. A year later, it emerged that, in June of 2016, McCarthy had told some of his fellow members of the House Republican leadership that he believed—“swear to God”—that Trump was in the pay of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. When the Washington Post eventually reported about these comments, McCarthy tried to laugh them off as a joke.

The G.O.P. Can No Longer Be Relied On to Protect Democracy, John Cassidy, December 12, 2020, The New Yorker

The United States is marginally both a democratic republic and so-called "Christian" nation because of its slow expansion of citizenship to the marginalized: African American men, white women with the 19th Amendment, August 18, 1920, and black women finally with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Immigrants, LGBT, refugees are slowly gaining rights only afforded by our "Founding Fathers" (or narcissistic sociopaths) to "propertied white men." The current majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, has scheduled a vote to debate the Voting Rights Bills in the chamber, and if Moscow Mitch et al elected fascists follow past precedent, they will block the bill with a cowardly email. A workaround could be making the Republican Senators debate it on C-SPAN and explain WHY they DO NOT want the franchise to expand any further. They won't do that of course, essentially making opposition attack ads of themselves acting like buffoons, or mean tweeting Big Bird. It will likely be blocked by the tweedle dee, tweedle dumb dynamic duo of Mazarati Man-Chin, Firebrand liberal-turned-Blue Dog Kirsten Sinema, who seems to miss that "Don't Look UP" is a parody of politicians like herself.

The real answer is, even in the numerical majority in the Senate, republicans represent fewer actual voters than democrats. As of 2019, California registers 39.51 million citizens; Wyoming (Liz Cheney and her father's state) has 578,759. Each state gets two senators. So theoretically would Washington, DC at 692,683, more than Wyoming, but most likely, those senators would not be republicans, but democrats. And Republicans have only won the popular vote under the two Bush's, meaning their policies only appeal to oligarchs.

Tucker Carlson has almost given up the game by softball interviewing the authoritarian dictator Viktor Orbán on his propaganda network, then CPAC is going "full Borat" by hosting an American conservative conference in a foreign country that's NOT a democracy. Projection, much?

So, what's the endgame? Are we "fascism fluid"; "authoritarian curious"? I don't think we have to wait for more than one more round of this existential Russian republic roulette.

What happens to the other world democracies if the largest, most powerful in human history disintegrates into a pile of feces? I don't expect a band of family dysfunctional superheroes is going to save us. Nor do I think Bezos, Branson, or Musk are going to save humanity by cracking the mystery of "warp drive" (don't hold your breath). If they could, do you think they wouldn't CHARGE an exorbitant fee to ride The Enterprise? In this case, Bill Maher has a valid point. It's made us infantile and "Waiting for Godot."

Lastly, cute curtseys won't save us from being a proverb, a byword, and a laughable mistake. Franklin's statement: "A republic, if you can keep it" is currently in doubt.

 

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Image Source: Facebook

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Star Trek

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

― Buckminster Fuller, Good Reads, Bio: Wikipedia

What do borders do, mean, and look like in different parts of the world? How are they decided? Who or what might they protect? How might they do harm? How and why might they change?

Countries protect their borders for several reasons. This is especially true in areas where two or more countries have fought over the same land. Cambodia and Thailand are countries in Southeast Asia. They have disputed the territory of the Preah Vihear Temple for more than a century.

Sometimes, borders keep citizens from leaving a country. Nations like North Korea, Myanmar, and Cuba rarely allow their residents to cross their borders.

Many border disputes happen when people fight over natural resources. Natural resources are anything a person can use that comes from the natural environment. The countries of Sudan and Egypt have argued for years over a region called Hala'ib. Hala'ib is rich in the mineral manganese, a natural resource. Manganese is important for making iron and steel.

Border problems often come up when people from other regions take over an area and create borders. During the 1800s and 1900s, European countries colonized much of Africa. In other words, outsiders from Europe moved into Africa. They took control of the people there. They took the land as their own. European colonists created the borders of most African countries. However, the borders they made often did not always consider the different groups living in an area.

Excerpts from "Overview: What Are Borders?" Facing History

The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary examines the modern-day corporation. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary.

A sequel film, The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, was released in 2020.

The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon corporations in North America, especially in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the Supreme Court of the United States in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison Waite led to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Source: The Corporation (2003 film), Wikipedia, related: The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel

In a Google Internet search on "the mythology of race," a book that's in my library is in the upper right-hand corner of my search page: "'The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea' is a book by anthropologist Robert Wald Sussman arguing that race is not, and never has been, a valid biological category in humans." As humans migrated out of Africa, they landed in places that didn't have the direct UV light of the equatorial sun. Lack of sunlight, eating or discovering foods native to their new lands, humans like any other animal adapted, and changed appearances with respect to their environments. In Europe, they didn't require Melanin, their hair straightened in the harsh arctic winters. Over time, all they saw was "them," and as long as everyone looked the same, the only thing that spurred conflict was covetousness: property, livestock, attractive lovers, and wives. Once trinkets, bobbles, and currency replaced barter, that encouraged hoarding, and comparisons between neighbors: who has the most "stuff?" As men explored other parts of the globe and found "them" and their stuff, there had to be a justification for taking their stuff as their own, for "some" having most, and "others" having the least. We are at the tipping point in the struggle to maintain three legal fictions: borders, corporations, and racial categories.

  • You are NOT in our borders: Mecca, 'Murica, "the promised land," the European Union, Wakanda forever. We are "us," and you are "them": you do not count, you are un-people.
  • No Mitt Romney, "corporations are not people." The robber barons used a boondoggle of the 14th Amendment to confer to themselves and their progeny unlimited power. People have lifespans: corporations are practically immortal psychopaths.
  • Until we find evidence of intelligent Martians, there is only ONE race, the human race.

Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]) is a Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity". It is sometimes translated as "I am because we are" (also "I am because you are"), or "humanity towards others" (in Zulu, umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu). Wikipedia

The aforementioned legal fictions are stifling our development as a species, but enriching the fat pockets of toxic, pathological families that consider themselves royalty, and worthy of worship (and have personality cults to do just that). At our current juncture, world government - genuine cooperation - is laughable. The conned danger of "others" makes us reinforce our borders, erect our walls, intern refugees in Libya, violating human rights with impunity. If there are any vaccines, the so-called First World Nations will receive the jabs first. Our performance during a pandemic has been pitiful. COP26 was whiter than the Oscars due to southern hemisphere nations (i.e., brown people) didn't receive the mRNA vaccines to ARGUE [about] that northern hemisphere nations (i.e., white folks) received first. So for safety reasons, browner nations were placed in political Zoom purgatory as the climate change can is kicked down the road.

The feckless mismanagement of Chief Justice John Roberts over his five radical brethren practically sealed the fate of the former Supreme Court: irrelevance. "Stare decisis is Latin for 'to stand by things decided.' In short, it is the doctrine of precedent. Courts cite stare decisis when an issue has been previously brought to the court and a ruling has already been issued. … Horizontal stare decisis refers to a court adhering to its own precedent" Cornel Law. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, there is no such thing as precedent. Expect same-sex marriage to fall next. After that, voting rights for African Americans, then all women's rights RBG fought for. Avalanches begin with a single snowflake. On the calendar, we barrel to the future; legally we'd be pre-Brown.

Oh, and the "gang of Putin" is chomping at the bit for another government shutdown, because Saint Ronnie saying "government is the problem" started a party grift that hasn't abated in 41 years, managing to "trickle-down" zero dividends, but trickle-up tax cuts without fail. They'd rather do important things like reading Dr. Suess in the well of the Senate or having Twitter battles with Big Bird.

Fear of the Antichrist - a malevolent narcissistic psychopath in a man suit - and the bloodlust for Armageddon fuels our current lunacy. It will not be benevolent aliens, a United Federation of Planets, superluminal space drives, or Heisenberg-defying matter re-sequencers that will spur the elimination of class struggle (and money, apparently). It will be global cooperation heretofore unseen.

"I am because we are." "I am because you are."

Such a world revolves around Ubuntu. We sadly seem bereft of its precepts.

Since it begins with "u" it must be associated with utopia: "nowhere place."

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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.

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The Incredible Callousness of Being…

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

Title source: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera.

The White House correspondent slot is a coveted perch in Washington, DC, media real estate. After landing an excellent job and a press pass, a select few of journalism’s crème de la crème get to march through the White House gates and mix it up with the president’s inner circle; they get the chance, to tell the truth to power at the highest level, or at least to sit in on White House briefings and go to the White House correspondents’ dinner.

Some news organizations have sent reporters to the White House gaggle who have endured fame for their journalistic rigor and iconic visual profiles. Others—like the right-wing television channel Newsmax—seem to have missed the reasonableness memo.

Emerald Robinson, Newsmax’s White House correspondent, was taken to task this week for spewing some of the wildest COVID-19 vaccine disinformation seen on planet Earth to her 437,000 followers on Twitter. Robinson could simply have claimed that highly tested, safe, and effective coronavirus vaccines contain microchips that the government uses to track people. That would have been nonsense, but not far removed from a standard anti-vaxxer line. But Robinson made a more bizarre claim: She implied that the vaccines contain something even more devilish than microchips. The devil himself.

“Dear Christians, the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

What the hell? Newsmax correspondent thinks Satan is in COVID-19 vaccines, Matt Field, Bureau of Atomic Scientists

News flash: Beelzebub is not in your Covid vaccine. I’ve had both shots of Moderna and the booster. I have not spontaneously combusted, levitated furniture, cursed people out in Latin, or regurgitated pea soup (see: Linda Blair, in "The Exorcist").

The propaganda outlet’s title is Orwellian: nothing about it is “news,” nor is it superlative compared to all others.

If you’re a certain age, you recall the news by anchors like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Mike Wallace (Chris Wallace’s father). We had three stations, and a UHF channel on good days. The local news preceded the national news on ABC, CBS, and NBC. You had no idea who these gentlemen voted for. There was no “theme” to the channels: it was the news. Local and national news took ONE HOUR, it wasn't on repeat or loop, there were no smartphones with alerts. There was a morning, an evening newspaper that filled out the rest of what you needed to make sense of the world (we were in a Cold War with Russia). After that hour, the sitcoms and dramas filled the evening and did what they were supposed to do: entertain. There was no merger, no invention of "infotainment." It was what you needed as a citizen to make decisions about managing the republic. Every citizen had the responsibility of governance. Democrats could win one election, Republicans the next. The sacred text of the republic was The Constitution, it was sacrosanct.

Notice, I’m referring to our founding documents in the past tense.

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media so that they can serve our highest goals.

“A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness, Neil Postman

Another book by Neil Postman and Steve Powers: “How To Watch TV News.” A summary:

An important guide to understanding what you’re getting--and not getting--from TV news. Postman and Powers warn that anyone who relies exclusively on TV for knowledge of the world is making a serious mistake and suggest ways to intelligently evaluate TV news shows.

Add to that: Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter, et al. The sage advice is to read actual books, reputable sources of news, and maybe a course on critical thinking, and civics.

Emerald Robinson knew exactly what she was doing and probably knew enough to delete the tweet after it was sent. It’s the same excuse Rush Limbaugh used for his bombastic rants that were mantra from Budda for ditto heads: “I'm just an entertainer.” By stoking the rage-against-the-brown-boogiemen machine, Fox Propaganda, News Min, and Dumb Bart have made huge profits on what is arguably “white grievance minstrelsy,” previously known as “angry white men.” Neilsen ratings are another harangue, and television has one mission: product sales. It can be meal prep, travel businesses, or erectile dysfunction. "Soap Operas" was the self-pejorative of what are now the few daytime dramas that are left.

The Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial and the trial of the three murderers of Ahmaud Aubrey, miles distant from each other have the distinction of having ONE African American on the jury for EACH trial: 11:1. I was surprised by the Walter Scott murder trial verdict. I was surprised by the George Floyd murder trial verdict. For Briona Taylor and Trayvon Martin, the outcomes weren’t surprises, just infuriating.

There is a callousness to our discourse, as Carl Sagan once said "a celebration of ignorance." There is a difference between true ignorance, willful ignorance, and gaslighting. Ignorance is from a lack of information, that can be remedied. Willful ignorance is when you're speaking to an expert, reading a sourced document, and you willingly choose to combat the information, verbally, or physically, because it causes cognitive dissonance. Gaslighting is the tactic of an abuser, to make you question your reality. Emerald Robinson was gaslighting her Twitter followers, knowing it would get out into the Zeitgeist and fuel vaccine hesitancy, the main factor extending the pandemic her president bungled horribly. Gaslighting is abusive, but when you no longer question or resist the torture, you're a participant. O'Brien broke the will of Winston Smith in Orwell's "1984," there are as many fingers as O'Brien says there are.

For example, the elections Tuesday were predictable: every off-year election in Virginia and New Jersey has elected governors from the opposing party in the White House. The news media pounces on it: "it's a referendum on the current administration" they say, "it's a wakeup call to Democrats" says Kevin McCarthy, who manages to look like a howler monkey in a suit. With the exception of New Jersey, where Phil Murphy held on by a thread, that paradigm has repeated historically. Yet for eyeballs and detergent sales, cue the handwringing and pontification. Nielsen ratings.

Emerald Robinson preys on the existential fears of "the end times" by evangelicals steeped in the folklore and having watched a recent clip from the "Left Behind" series. From Hal Lindsey to Tim LaHay, eschatology is a lucrative business, unless the Chicxulub meteor hits before your booking on Morning Joe. "Christ Returns by 1988: 101 Reasons Why" has obviously fallen out of favor. It was quite a sensation in 1982.

Emerald would have been the head of the spear if the Virginia Governor's Race went Terry 'McAuliffe's way. There was obviously no "voter fraud," just bungling by McAuliffe, and defaulting to the comfortable by the DNC. McAuliffe is "known," but the Democratic Party needs to acknowledge its future isn't appealing to a dwindling white majority, but to constituents that look like "The Squad." Pretending otherwise, or deferring to 80s-style Democratic Leadership Council orthodoxy is political suicide.

Ms. Robinson would have contributed to whipping their audience into a dangerous, armed frenzy. Death Santis has a voter integrity bureau patterned after the Ministry of Truth, to intimidate legitimate voters, more or less brown voters, from participating in the franchise. Any election Republicans win is by definition legitimate. Any elections Democrats lose, they concede gracefully. Any elections Democrats win in the future will be fraudulent, and "stolen." The "Big Lie" is the only thing wanted from the previous occupant of the Oval Office. What they want is the obfuscation as a cudgel. That kind of propaganda leads to armed violence, and a failed state, not Florida: America.

This is not democracy. It is the fractured foundation of a crumbling republic.

I'm not sure if American companies, "woke" or otherwise, will come to our rescue. As long as the Stock Market functions, as long as product ships to customers, the one percent has always been socially distant with mansions in exclusive zip codes, in other countries, penis spaceships to visit Elysium, the investors, and boards will largely ignore societal collapse. The only devils are the architects of the "Big Lie." The hell is our slide into authoritarian rule, "not with a bang, but a whimper" (TS Eliot, "The Hollow Men").

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” William Shakespeare, "The Tempest."

 

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This Dragon...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

The Brainwashing of My Dad is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Jen Senko about her father's transformation from a nonpolitical Democrat into a political Republican. The film was mostly funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Synopsis

As Jen Senko tries to understand the transformation of her father from a nonpolitical Democrat to an angry Republican fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under President Richard Nixon for a media takeover by the Republicans, the 1971 Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion (especially the media, universities, and courts), the 1987 dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine under President Ronald Reagan, and the signing of the 1996 Telecommunications Act under President Bill Clinton. The documentary aims to show how the media and the nation changed, which leads to questions about who owns the airwaves, what rights listeners and watchers have, and what responsibility the government has to keep the airwaves fair, accurate, and accountable. Wikipedia

In his book An Instinct for Dragons (2000), anthropologist David E. Jones suggests a hypothesis that humans, like monkeys, have inherited instinctive reactions to snakes, large cats, and birds of prey. A dragon is a large, serpentinelegendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. Commonalities between dragons' traits are often a hybridization of feline, avian, and reptilian features, and may include: snakelike features, reptilian scaly skin, four legs with three or four toes on each, spinal nodes running down the back, a tail, and a serrated jaw with rows of teeth. Several modern scholars believe huge extinct or migrating crocodiles bear the closest resemblance, especially when encountered in forested or swampy areas, and are most likely the template of modern dragon imagery. Wikipedia/Dragon again, though somewhat rearranged.

Jen Senko uses the strongly suggestive term "brainwashing," and in a few interviews I've heard her give (last one on Thom Hartmann), she alluded to the part of the brain referenced as the amygdala: "region of the brain primarily associated with emotional processes. The name amygdala is derived from the Greek word amygdale, meaning “almond,” owing to the structure’s almond-like shape. The amygdala is located in the medial temporal lobe, just anterior to (in front of) the hippocampus. Similar to the hippocampus, the amygdala is a paired structure, with one located in each hemisphere of the brain. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, a neural network that mediates many aspects of emotion and memory. Although historically the amygdala was considered to be involved primarily in fear and other emotions related to aversive (unpleasant) stimuli, it is now known to be involved in positive emotions elicited by appetitive (rewarding) stimuli." (Britannica) Because it is primitive, it's famously referred to as the reptilian brain (in Brain World Magazine, no less). Ms. Senko's thesis was simply that her once calm, middle-of-the-road liberal dad became a fire-breathing (pun intended) conservative through endless repetition in the right-wing echo chamber of the idea he had something to fear, or someone in the form of foreigners and people of color. Her dad ironically came to this country as an immigrant. But through a relentless repetition campaign worthy of, and plagiarizing propaganda techniques from the Creel Committee, he transformed. Ms. Senko's dad is "patient zero," of our present darkness.

This is [our] life

Lisa Ling did an excellent job on her "This Is Life" series on conspiracy theories in America, and that they aren't anything "new" to the national landscape. The problem is, it's been digitized, and monetized over social media such that the more outrageous, the more violent the content, the more money those same companies make. Despite the proven harm to young teen girls and a lot of adults, the solution is practiced inaction. The pattern is public Mea Culpa, then do nothing, claim to be a social media platform, but not a journalistic platform, because lies monetized are more lucrative than publishing the truth.

Part of the problem is the many times we as citizens have been lied to: the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, and the installation of the Shah over a democratically-elected leader of Iran in 1953. Nationalizing oil reserves gained the ire of the CIA, MI6, and British Petroleum. The sixties was an assassination decade, and theories of President Kennedy's assassination (and the immediate killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby), Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy were splayed on newsletters, and pamphlets; beauty/barber shops, and water coolers. There's still a group that doesn't believe we went to the moon, aliens are somehow interested in "little-old-us"; Bigfoot and Nessie are real creatures, and the world post-Apollo is either flat or donut-shaped (I'm not kidding). Follow that with "I'm not a crook" Richard Nixon, "we're not selling arms for hostages" Ronald Reagan, it's no wonder trust in institutions other than the military is at an all-time low. Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh appealed to fellow jowl-faced constituents that consider Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion an existential crisis, as their impish clone, Tucker Carlson parrots "replacement theory." "Nature abhors a vacuum," and provocateurs like Alex Jones are more than happy to fill the trust void. Add to that the 30,000+ COVFEFE whoppers of the last Oval Office occupant, and the death toll his lies bore. At least Brazil is considering holding Jair Bolsonaro responsible for crimes against humanity for 100,000+ dead. Our body count is higher. "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!"

Senator Angus King has evolved on the filibuster. He's willing to change the rules so voting rights can get passed. However, the dragon reared its head to "conserve" the status quo of white supremacy (Senator Tim Scott needs a new mirror and an active human soul).

It is interesting that Steve Scalise, the minority whip counter on the Republican side of the House, is urging his colleagues to vote NO on holding his br'er fascist, Steve Bannon, in criminal contempt of Congress in fealty to a demagogue that lost the 2020 election, the Senate, and the House. If the rule of law is subject to "situational nihilism" (Brian Williams, The 11th Hour, MSNBC), then the law as we thought we knew it is essentially moot. Only nine Republicans in the House followed The Constitution to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress with all the Democrats, meaning all the Republicans who voted against it are in contempt of Congress. Now, "Robert Lewis, Rufus, and Frog" along with "Billy Bob, Cooter, and Skeeter" will all declare themselves Republicans, and ignore any subpoenas sent to them, reduced to a notion by the man whose publicly stated aim was to "deconstruct the administrative state." Good luck running courts large and small across the nation. 'Murica.

Scalise once described himself as "David Duke without the baggage." David Duke was a grand dragon, and avowed white supremacist. Any kind of supremacy is anathema to democracy. To quote a 2020 tweet from someone named Beau Willimon, succinctly comparing Capitalism, Socialism, Authoritarianism, and Democracy:

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Our democracy can no longer afford to ride this leviathan and continue to exist.

"And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads." Revelations 12:3

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Gambit...

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Image source: Merriam-Webster

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

Noun: a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position

Ninety percent of Fox Propaganda employees are fully vaccinated. The employees are required to disclose their vaccine status. The network tests the 10% that refuse daily, presumably barring them from the property, and mandating they quarantine if they test positive. For the record: that's more stringent than the Biden administration, which only has a weekly requirement. Even as talking heads push hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, bear bile, and other quackery to their viewership.

The pawn is the least powerful chess piece, but it can be promoted into any other chess piece (except for a king). As Philidor once said, "Pawns are the soul of chess!" Chess.com

The disdain Rupert Murdock's network has for its viewership is only matched by the congruent ghoulishness of Kevin Q-Carthy, Moscow Mitch, and the death cult crew. The debt ceiling has been with us since 1917, the year before the last pandemic. It has been since the Obama administration, a game of chicken; a hostage tactic. It's not one side of the chessboard or the other: it's the entire field or the republic.

Congress has always restricted federal debt. The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 included an aggregate limit on federal debt as well as limits on specific debt issues. Through the 1920s and 1930s, Congress altered the form of those restrictions to give the U.S. Treasury more flexibility in debt management and to allow modernization of federal financing. In 1939, a general limit was placed on federal debt.

Federal debt accumulates when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and to meet federal obligations or when it issues debt to government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds. Total federal debt is the sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts. Debt also increases when the portfolio of federal loans expands.

Congress has modified the debt limit 14 times since 2001. Congressional Research Service Report

We have now exceeded the death toll of the 1918 flu pandemic. Gaslighting has replaced ideas, emotion has been substituted for substance. The "American Pravda" rage machine found out last year Rage Against the Machine is a political band that probably doesn't favor their worldview. Fox Propaganda and the "gang of Putin" are solely dedicated to killing any bills that help the citizens of the United States, and the world at large, and anything that would make oligarchs and corporations pay the taxes they've dodged in particular. Neither has had any ideas since the "trickledown" 1980s. Income inequality is worse now than in the Gilded Age, with the one percent profiteering off the pandemic. Their wealth is literally built on the bones of 716,849 Americans. By Christmas, we'll be over a million. In a gambit, the Fox viewership/republican constituents' deaths are acceptable losses.

Yet, the criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party in Congress, in statehouses, has an opportunity to regain majority status. Why? Because of the raw exercise of POWER. Appealing to emotion, "owning the libs" haven't improved the lives of their constituents. It has convinced them their "representatives" hate the "others" they hate. It is an addiction to sadistic dopamine. The other acceptable casualty is the federal republic.

It's sad when the problem of 3.5 to 1.5 trillion is solvable with simple math. $3.5T over 10 years is $350B/year. $1.5T over 4 years is $375B/year. Then, Democrats can dare Republicans to run against it in 2022, and 2024. Once Americans experience expanded Medicare, free hearing aids, and glasses for seniors, free childcare, free community college (that will reduce the cost of four-year college), some movement on climate change that they can SEE, and FEEL, the political ads write themselves. This is an example of government functioning to HELP a stated need. Socialism is tax cuts for wealthy individuals, and corporations after failure in the "free market." Socialism is government subsidies to the fossil fuels industry since the Bolshevik Revolution. There would be no logical argument to take away something every American would have experienced in the positive, even though logic for Putin's party has been bereft for some time. Manchin gets what he wants, progressives get what they want. That, in my humble opinion, would be the strategic exercise of power.

If Republicans are a criminal enterprise, they behave like a functional Mafia family, capable of loyalty to the heinous, and in witness to obvious crimes by a chief executive, Omerta. Democrats, for all my support, behave like a herd of "woke" cats with Twitter fingers as itchy as the useless troll, Marjorie Taylor Green. I have called my congressional representative. Politics is the "art of compromise" and the "art of the possible." If you cannot compromise with a recalcitrant cult, do what's possible on your own. You will be RICHLY rewarded for it.

"Pawns are the soul of chess!" An informed citizenry is the soul of democracy.

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It Can Happen Here...

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“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Image, and quote from the Jewish Virtual Library.

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

The novel was published during the heyday of fascism in Europe, which was reported on by Dorothy Thompson, [Sinclair] Lewis's wife.[3] The novel describes the rise of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and "traditional" values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of European fascists such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The novel's plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup's opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion. Source: Wikipedia, "It Can't Happen Here," Sinclair Lewis

The former Republican Party published an autopsy of their failed efforts to make President Barack Obama a one-term executive after 2012. They lost backing the bastion of latte Republicanism, Mitt Romney, who lied his ass off in the first presidential debate, yet his warnings about Russia in the second have stood the test of time. The Growth and Opportunity Project is a double entendre: the capitalized lettering obviously referring to the former party by its acronym, a suggestion that with a few tweaks, they could meet the changing demographics clear-eyed, with a strategy for growth, and success. Commissioned by the first of three serial Chiefs of Staff, Reince Priebus, it was soon as published turned to political toilet paper.

There is a potent currency to whiteness, ever since it was created in 1681 after the Bacon Rebellion by the one percent of the day. Efficiently separating citizens into "us," and "others" is effective in not having accountability for sadistic policies. It's not that executive boards of predominately cisgender white men sought to take their jobs overseas to pay pennies on the dollar for what amounts to sweatshop slave labor. It's "those blacks," "those Mexicans," "those Haitians," "those Afghanis," "those climate refugees," those "others" that took your job. You can blame others for every missed opportunity, every failure to obtain a promotion, and financial security. It's an effective gaslighting tool when your marks participate in the con.

If you're seeing a commercial by an outfit called American Edge Project, they are a part of an impressive list of Dark Money groups Open Secrets documents that are completely fine with the continuation of the con job that allows them to pay little, or no taxes, yet have outsized influence in our legislation, and laws through what is ostensibly "legal" bribes. Many of those legal bribes come from social media behemoths.

The Wall Street Journal did an expose on Facebook (NPR article), and its ancillary product Instagram on its negative effects on preteen, and teenage girls that they apparently knew about, and for the sake of Mammon, and sacrifices on the altar of Moloch, did little, or nothing to mitigate its deleterious effects. The attempted coup was in part, organized on its platform, vaccine hesitancy, and abject quackery, as well as other iterations of social media. Social media is the main propagator of propaganda, yet hold onto the notion they're not "journalism," therefore cannot be held accountable by those standards. Seventy-three percent of election misinformation dropped worldwide when the modern propagator of the "Big Lie" got his Twitter account permanently closed.

The so-called Cyber Ninjas not only proved once again that Joe Biden won, but they also found him more votes. They owe Arizona an apology and reimbursement of money to taxpayers for despoiled voting machines. But the "Big Lie" persists in Texas, ordering an audit where the former Oval Office occupant won the red state handily, a cynical, craven move by Greg Abbott to protect his right flank from the true crazies that want his job in a GOP primary. That is the point behind voter restrictions, and draconian abortion "posses." He is the American analog of Saddam Hussein holding back ISIS. Texans teeter towards Gilead.

Modern fascists don't wear swastikas, but aren't morally opposed to the useful rubes that insist on them, and goosestep like peacocks in parades to "scare the blacks," "scare the Mexicans," and "own the libs." True fascists work from boardrooms, have lobbyists funneling dark money on Capitol Hill to Democratic "moderates," and Republican empty suits. Modern fascists wear expensive Italian suits, jut their tanned, California-surfer-dude chins out, contradict their last statements made after the Capitol insurrection, and manage six-figure salaries essentially treading water. Other democratic republics like England, Germany, France, and Israel, form coalition governments of parties that resemble our duopoly in the US, and the fringes that so far in a communications analogy, are kept as low noise to the broader signal of democratic governance. It's messy, but coalescing the "will of the governed" is always messy. We, by the way, have and insist on a duopoly because the lobbyists can easily "split the baby" in the management of their legal bribes.

Which is why I wonder: if the Keystone Cops Coup, on January 6, 2021, was successful, or any other subsequent coup by a more competent fascist ended the "democratic experiment," would Corporate America follow a moral obligation to save our federal republic?

The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon corporations in North America, especially in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the Supreme Court of the United States in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison Waite[nb 1] led to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Topics addressed include the Business Plot, where, in 1933, General Smedley Butler exposed an alleged corporate plot against then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt; the tragedy of the commonsDwight D. Eisenhower's warning people to beware of the rising military-industrial complex; economic externalities; suppression of an investigative news story about Bovine Growth Hormone on Fox affiliate television station WTVT in Tampa, Florida, at the behest of Monsanto; the invention of the soft drink Fanta by The Coca-Cola Company due to the trade embargo on Nazi Germany; the alleged role of IBM in the Nazi holocaust (see IBM and the Holocaust); the Cochabamba protests of 2000 brought on by the privatization of a municipal water supply in Bolivia; and in general themes of corporate social responsibility, the notion of limited liability, the corporation as a psychopath, and the debate about corporate personhood. Source: Wikipedia - The Corporation (2003 film)

Answer: I think not.

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Dunning-Kruger Death Cult...

 

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

In a speech 40 years ago to a group of conservative preachers, Heritage Foundation founder Paul Weyrich said, “Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now.

“As a matter of fact,” he continued, “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Weyrich’s idea continues to animate the GOP today. In dismissing a Democratic push for reforms, including vote-by-mail, same-day registration, and early voting to assist state-run elections in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump opined, “They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Starting with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” in 1968, through Weyrich’s candid acknowledgment in 1980, to Donald Trump’s numerous rants, the GOP has consistently stood against reasonable voter registration laws and fair and equitable access to the polls — because they know they lose in a battle of ideas.

Wake up, folks: the campaign against democracy continues

Bill Dwyer, Oak Park, and River Forest Letters to the Editor, Opinion: Wednesday Journal
November 18, 2020, Updated February 11, 2021

The modern "gang of Putin" is Paul Weyrich's wet dream. There is a through-line from Barry Goldwater to Weyrich, Weyrich to Nixon, Nixon to Reagan, Reagan to Orange Satan. Goldwater got some disingenuous ads against him, painting him as crazy enough to start a thermonuclear war. Lyndon Baines Johnson won 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52. It was then Goldwater, years before Watergate, coined "you've got to hunt where the ducks are." The ducks were the disaffected southern Dixiecrats in deep depression because Civil Rights and Voting Rights from the US Constitution were being extended to African Americans. When you have privilege, equal justice seems like persecution. Privilege is a kind of willful blindness. For white supremacist power, party insiders weren't, and aren't, willing to remove the scales.

Former President George W. Bush indict(ed) the January 6, 2021, attempted coup in his remarks at the 20-year anniversary observance of 9/11. Bush, however, appointed federal judges during his tenure in a nod to Goldwater, Weyrich, and Nixon's "Southern Strategy." George W. Bush signed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act when it was a bipartisan affair: it is now seen as existential for Democrats, and disposable for Republicans. The 2000 election was controversial: Bush won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, the second Republican presidential candidate to do so in this century. His party's nominees have lost the popular vote in seven out of eight presidential elections, and, by their admission, they are demographically shrinking. Bush's defense attorneys in Florida were Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, three of five judges appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote. The Patriot Act was seen as government overreach into civil liberties and birthed a lot of blogs on the left as mainstream media ignored it for access journalism. We're reeling from the expense of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, one too long in duration, and the other added via obfuscation. He may not have been as extreme as we currently see his party exhibiting, but he did inadvertently till the soil of institutional doubt.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have A Dream," August 28, 1963

"The Wages of Whiteness" a book by David R. Roediger I use to juxtapose the check America is still trying to cash with African Americans without sufficient funds. The wage of this whiteness was supposed to have sufficiency in perpetuity. All it needed were pariahs that they could blame for any societal faux pas: the economy and welfare were the faults of "young bucks," and "welfare queens," not oligarchs and tax cheats. We were patriotic and resolute until Iran-Contra occurred, flooding weapons to the Contras, and drugs to Compton. Culture wars were always the right's "whitewashed sepulchers," dead tombs with the façade of rose-covered balconies, and rainbow farts out of unicorns. The pariah label was extended to all BIPOC, and karma is making them the majority by 2042. The check for the balance of supremacy is draining inexorably from the church bank account of the whitewashed sepulcher.

Texas is a laboratory for instigating "The Handmaid's Tale." Second Amendment rights trumps (pun intended) bodily autonomy. South Dakota's governor always looks high, giving the middle finger to masks and Lakota sacred grounds on the 4th of July during the alpha phase of the pandemic, and Florida's governor has the well-earned nickname "Death Santis" that will stick in his bid for re-election, and higher office. A heat map of COVID hotspots in California is almost an exact replica of the electoral areas that started the California recall. You can replicate that map in red states versus blue states. The entire party has devolved into a Dunning-Kruger death cult.

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments, Justin Kruger and David Dunning, Cornell University

Abstract

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

After Watergate, the right deliberately designed an echo chamber to tell itself everything they wanted to hear: good, not bad, propaganda not history, fiction, not reality. Karl Rove told reporter Ron Suskind: "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' [...] 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'" There is a district in Texas that every two years, consciously reelects Louie Gohmert to the US House of Representatives, the "disparage my asparagus" former judge, and lawyer. Nonplussed initially, Former Attorney General Eric Holder responded with the sickest burn a year later in 2014: "good luck with your asparagus."

North Carolina US Republican Representative Madison Cawthorne crashed a school board meeting in Henderson, NC to troll Governor Roy Cooper about masks. Key point: he wasn't there. Couple that with his abysmal grades the one year he attended college, at this point, I cannot take him, or the rest of his party seriously. I may not have been a fan of Ronald Reagan, but Reaganism stood for something; Trumpism is sadistic Seinfeld. They're all white grievance minstrels, performance artists, professional trolls, and nihilists. "Owning the libs" is all they live for. The asylum inmates running for office currently are mean-girl teenagers running on the population, and likes of their Instagram and Twitter accounts. Their platform is an empty wagon: making a lot of noise, and doing nothing.

"Idiocracy" did not take 500 years of political Entropy: it just took the desperation of a party that sees its power waning, and is clinging to power at all cost, even if that wage paid is the republic.

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”
― Bertrand Russell

 

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De Facto Secession...

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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Timeline source: Key Media Solutions: "The Reverse Evolution of Social Media Platforms"

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Politics, Star Trek

 

What happens when media and politics become forms of entertainment? As our world begins to look more and more like Orwell’s 1984, Neil’s Postman’s essential guide to the modern media is more relevant than ever.

“It’s unlikely that Trump has ever read Amusing Ourselves to Death, but his ascent would not have surprised Postman.” –CNN

 

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media so that they can serve our highest goals.

 

“A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

 

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness, Neil Postman, Penguin Random House

The "corrosive effects of television" Dr. Postman's polemic critiqued was [ironically], CNN, launched June 1, 1980, on a television executive's "big idea."

 

Movies like the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Star Wars became cult classics because as long as customers were buying tickets and popcorn, theater owners would play the show for months, and in the case of the two mentioned, each over a year. Ted Turner's "big idea" was inspired by the creation of HBO: Home Box Office. It was the single, and only cable entertainment that expanded Hollywood's earning power, as measured by Nielsen ratings. It was unique as most television stations ended their day's programming at midnight, and so did HBO, initially. Mission creep extended their air time to twenty-four hours. "Saturday Night Live" -- essentially, an improv show was crafted for night owls, as it tiptoed past that demarcation point, by design. Ted would develop a 24-hour news service of "infotainment." The Nielsen altar gods needed satisfaction and a gimmick.

 

I always thought infotainment was coined by actor, and filmmaker Mario Van Peeples, but its origin was as a pejorative: "soft" news, versus hard, serious news. At a joint conference in the UK for media academicians, the infotainers put on comedy skits from 1980 - 1990 in their gatherings. The madness became a method as it's obviously been copied on either of the cable news outlets that cloned themselves on Ted Turner's model. We evolved from a nation that went from President Richard Nixon winning forty-nine out of fifty states, thereby becoming the first Republican to sweep the south with his "Law and Order" shtick post-Kent State and the violence at the Democratic National Convention, to the reality that he would be impeached in the House, and likely convicted in the Senate by members of his party due to the Watergate break-ins. It was the sober digestion of information from ABC, CBS, NBC -- noncable, pre-infotainment outlets, by an "informed citizenry" regarding the culpability of a criminal president, a president that many had voted for.

Star Trek: Enterprise premiered on September 26, 2001. Due to its unfortunate timing fifteen days after 9/11, and theme of a hopeful future, as well as the former CBS president Les Moonves' stated aversion to science fiction, ended after four seasons. His helm at CBS imploded with a sex scandal thanks to #MeToo movement accountability.

"24": I've only seen two episodes, and my casual observation is Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer reasonably kept audiences on edge. The show entered the national zeitgeist in 2001: In a post-Vietnam, post-9/11 world, we needed some heroes, Tom Clancy novels were the water cooler conversation rage, Sly Stallone in Rocky version 17, or Rambo; Arnold Schwarzenegger in just about anything: we were itching for some ass to kick. Dennis Haysbert introduced the idea of an African American president before Barack Obama appeared on the scene, then all of a sudden, it wasn't a good idea beyond fantasy and Nielsen ratings. The show ran from 2001 - 2010. Liz Cheney is lionized for upholding The Constitution since the January 6, 2021 insurrection, but her dad fantasized he was a character on 24, Jack Bauer maybe, or Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy novels. In our discernment between reality and fantasy, we were collectively "jacked." The intersection between information and entertainment might have impacted her dad's decisions that led to launching a 20-year war in Afghanistan, prior to which the Taliban offered Osama Bin Laden (but war makes more money than justice); lying about, or "sexing up" intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, destabilizing that nation birthing ISIS, and the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo. Lawmakers on both sides profit mightily from world instability, not world peace. But we live in reality, not a cartoon.

What South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is doing, what Texas Governor Greg Abbot is doing, what Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing, what Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was doing, the lamentations of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey-post her lifting mask orders and encouraging "common sense," is the multigenerational poisoning of "whiteness," where, in a self-fictitious story, every move you make works out; every conclusion is Pollyannaish with white picket fences: the "good guys" (you) always "win" at the end of a bloodless cartoon, roll credits. This alternative, fact-free non-reality isn't five-dimensional chess: it's a societal dissociative disorder. It's the aftermath of centuries of lying to one's selves and preferring the lie over the truth. Pollyannaish vision is why after 20 years and trillions of dollars, we're shocked that our efforts in Afghanistan, or Iraq didn't work, that "when they stand up, we'll stand down" was always an empty slogan. Not facing the realities of a deadly pandemic, and its to-be-announced future Greek letter variants because of "free dumb" is figuratively, and literally a "no-brainer."

Apocalypse: It's a great title to a movie, story, supervillain, or blog post. It literally means "to uncover," or "to reveal." Biblical tradition translates and assigns it to the entire last book of the sacred text. Barbara Rossing tried to reclaim the negative interpretation of doom-and-gloom from evangelicals in her 2005 book "The Rapture Exposed." She saw this interpretation as dangerous, and lending to the United States engaging in risky international actions that could lead to Mutually Assured Destruction, or totally ignore climate change as a problem that will be solved only by the Second Coming. Fatalism like this led to our actions in Afghanistan, and Iraq. Pollyannaish viewpoints like this "kick the can down the road" to the next presidential administration, trillions of dollars wasted on corruption in Kabul that could have been invested in roads, education; universal healthcare in the US. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is an example of the peril of someone in power taking our continued existence for granted, and that "their side" will be the ones to survive. Not many former Secretaries of State have ever been called "doomsday clowns."

All Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, LGBTQ Americans, Women, immigrants are being affected by the anti-democratic efforts of Republican legislatures to either pick the voters they want to be counted or if elections don't quite go their way, THROW out the results! Dr. King referred to that as "interposition, and nullification." The reason Democrats pass symbolic bills in the House named for John Lewis, or the "For the People Act" is because they KNOW they will die in the Senate. The filibuster has been adjusted, carved out, flipped, manipulated for less than our ability to call ourselves a federal republic than for billionaire Oligarchs' tax cuts. Both parties are invested in the "status quo." It is ghoulish. It needs to change, our leadership needs to change, or our continuance as a country, as a human species, is in serious question.

I hope this post is a revelation, and with its act of uncovering and facing reality, we take different actions. I'm sure that was the whole intent of Dr. Neil Postman's warnings of simply cable; before social media proliferated; before phone apps were invented, before our news outlets consolidated, and morphed into self-deluding echo chambers kowtowing to Nielsen ratings, before politicians became craven liars in stark evidence of insurrection, and would rather rule over a smoldering ruin of feces than serve in an actual democracy. Our nation and the world deserve better.

Our nation and the world get better when "we the people" demand better.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale": Don't let the bastards grind you down. Demonstrate. Protest. Vote.

 

 

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Critical Thinking...

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Damien G Jackaman, Facebook

 

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

 

A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987.

 

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

 

The Foundation For Critical Thinking: Defining Critical Thinking

 

Matthew Taylor Coleman, 40, is charged with two counts of foreign murder of a United States national in the slaying of his 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter. He is accused of shooting them with a spearfishing gun on Monday in Rosarito — a beach community 30 minutes south of Tijuana, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

 

Coleman runs the Lovewater Surf Co., a surfing school based in Santa Barbara, and is an alumnus of Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, according to the company’s website.

 

Coleman told FBI agents he killed his children by shooting a spear into their chests, explaining that he had been “enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories” and “believed he was saving the world from monsters,” according to an affidavit in support of the complaint.

 

Santa Barbara surfer dad ‘enlightened by QAnon’ to kill his kids, feds say, Wendy Fry, San Diego Union-Tribune

 

Then, there was this: A fraternity brother sent me a Messenger video: "The Vaccine Itself is Dangerous! Please listen." The word vaccine was spelled with "V (o_9) cc," or an emoji. That makes it legit, right?

 

My response: "I’ve had the vaccine, and so has my family. I’m not magnetic, I don’t have a chip inside of me (except Sun Chip Garden Salsa). As a doctoral student, I have to take and pass EIGHT safely classes annually, specifically now centered on COVID-19 to work in my research facility. I’m not going to listen to this brother, respectfully."

 

His qualifier for the videographer? She was a young lady he met in passing, whom he found to be very attractive. "No sir I'm not taking anyone's word and I'm not taking anyone's vaccine, my brother from another mother. And, if your job requires it, I think they're infringing on your civil liberties. But I say this again my brother, know exactly what you have put in your body."

 

I pointed out he didn't know the ingredients of what he eats in a restaurant. He retorted he did, and it was a fellow frat that revealed his recipe secrets. He, of course, left out the fact that there are other restaurants ON THE PLANET he's probably patronized, and every chef in every restaurant is not going to be that forthcoming.

 

Me: "Do you have a stop sign or a speed limit on your street? Ever heard of 'no shirt, no shoes, no service?' How did those things NOT violate your 'civil liberties?' The only people I encounter that know nothing about civil liberties, or civics are libertarians. Fun fact: there aren’t any countries that follow libertarian philosophy. There might be a good reason why."

 

That was the end of it. I blocked him. I guess I'll see him at the convention (maybe).

 

From medical professionals being threatened by parents that somehow think "freedom" (rhymes with "free dumb") is more important than keeping their kids from being intubated or dying, to my fraternity brother accepting info from a pretty passing face, as a nation, we're bereft not only in civics but critical thinking. We're at the end of a fifty-year campaign of gaslighting that started with the 1971 Powell memo. Summarized excellently by Thom Hartmann, it's a corporate reaction to Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," DDT, and avoiding environmental catastrophe, leading to cigarettes-not-causing-lung-cancer disinformation, continued with fossil fuel industry obfuscations on climate change since the 1970s; launched 10 years later by Ronald Reagan with his famous "government is the problem" inauguration speech, culminating in the current "American Carnage" we're all living through. We've gotten used to lying to ourselves: our nation's full history with all its brutality, mistakes, scars, and being lied to. We're all primed to likely take advice from a pretty stranger passing in a stairwell that you might want to date or a social media post that conforms and confirms your internal biases.

 

The abject stupidity of this moment is by design; it does not lead to a stable republic.

 

"One of the things taken out of the curriculum was civics," Zappa went on to explain. "Civics was a class that used to be required before you could graduate from high school. You were taught what was in the U.S. Constitution. And after all the student rebellions in the Sixties, civics was banished from the student curriculum and was replaced by something called social studies. Here we live in a country that has a fabulous constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the government – nobody knows what's in it. And so, if you don't know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them? And furthermore, if you don't know what's in the document, how can you care if someone is shredding it?"

 

"Notes From the Dangerous Kitchen," a review and a quote from Frank Zappa, Critics at Large

 

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Reckoning, or Ragnarok...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

 

I read Mary Trump's book "Too Much, and Never Enough," feeling a chill when in the epilogue she predicted: "my uncle is going to get a lot of people killed." Realize, when those words were typed on presumably her laptop, she, and all of us were not wearing masks, washing hands, or standing six feet from each other in public places. Our garden-variety doomsday centered on mushroom clouds, and nuclear codes. I have preordered "Reckoning."

 

The fetishization of guns in America, the violence in popular entertainment, online and streaming, the rationalization of every gory and gruesome mass killing has left the public numb, and conditioned to death on a massive scale. It is no wonder we're so nonchalant about the Coronavirus: "they probably had to die of something" -- this is systemic sadism.

 

Governor Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas looked so nonplussed at the lectern as he tried to explain to his constituents that he had been wrong to sign an anti-mask executive order, that he was beyond just "owning the libs." With the Delta variant, and Delta plus up to bat in South Korea, conditions on the ground had decisively changed. The fact that they were shouting the latest conspiracy theories gleaned from the Internet shouldn't have surprised him: he was the source of their original gaslighting. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey admitted the unvaccinated are making the pandemic more prolonged, and worse, without a shred of guilt at her previous anti-mask stance, or irony. Leave it to Death Santis to double-down, despite falling poll numbers. His go-to stance: attack Biden, pivot to brown migrants on the border; hope for racism. He's really using that Harvard law degree.

 

You can't have reparations without a reckoning.

 

According to Jacqueline Battalora, MD, JD, in "Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today," white people became an official thing in America in 1681. Dr. Gerald Horne makes similar points in his book "Race to Revolution: The U.S. and Cuba during Slavery and Jim Crow." Prior to this legislative fiat, Europeans knew each other by their home nations, in essence, their tribes. The European continent was soaked in the blood, not of Moors, but other Europeans. America organized American society as "us," and "them," the civilized, and the savages, the "correct" ethos to enslave the kidnapped, and genocide the native. It's the perfect crime that has turned a profit for a small family of the wealthy for four centuries, the "vast sucking sound," to coin a phrase from Ross Perot. All they have to do is keep us at each other's throats. We now have the pejorative “RINOs,” and “DINOs,” when an earlier descriptor labeled such politicians “moderates.” There were litmus tests of loyalty to tribes driven by cults of personality, but tribesmen didn't make laws, moderates did. It’s how things got done, or euphemistically “how the sausage got made.”

 

We need to teach beyond the poetry of "Manifest Destiny," that the expansion and founding of the United States were for a created class: American oligarchs. They initially just didn't want to pay taxes to their benefactor, England. Thomas Paine clarified and made the reasons to break away from Europe profound, and noble, but his progressive ideas like equal education for men, and women, a progressive income tax, welfare for the poor, and the canard that could unravel the budding dominant world economy: he opposed slavery. It's probably why you haven't heard a thing about him.

 

Without a reckoning, there can be no healing, no atonement, or reconciliation. Without a reckoning of January 6, there can be no justice, and the "rule of law" is meaningless. Without a reckoning, the attempted coup was practice for the next. There can be no reckoning without accurate history. Eighteen states have passed interposition, and nullification laws to keep black, indigenous people of color (BIPOC) from exercising the voting franchise, in addition to overturning elections whose outcomes they don't like. If Republicans don't want to be called fascists, they should stop acting like them.

 

A reckoning will enable the next reconstruction since the first one after the Civil War was interrupted by white supremacy; the second - 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, 1968 Fair Housing Act - by a relentless, fifty-year right-wing backlash. History told right tends to make readers uncomfortable, but information can and should change the reader or student for the better. Showing our flaws, and blemishes should make us strive to do better, not hide our past that can easily be sourced within a few clicks, our hypocrisy laid bare.

 

The future is mist and mystery. It doesn't exist, except for the decisions we make today. One of those is what the fictional Vulcans of Star Trek called O'thia: reality-truth. For us to build the future, we have to reckon with our past, our real past, where we’re not always the heroes of a mythologized story we’ve gaslighted over four centuries.

 

Reckoning: the action or process of calculating or estimating something; the moment of truth.

Ragnarok: the final destruction of the world in the conflict between the Aesir and the powers of Hel led by Loki, the god of lies and chaos — also called Twilight of the Gods.

 

Without true reckoning, there is only Ragnarok.

 

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Smokestacks, and Psychopaths...

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Image credit: Daily Kos

 

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

 

In the south, you'll see some lummox proudly spewing black smoke from the back of his pickup truck (it invariably is always "his/he/him"), tricked out with dual black smokestack pipes to "own the libs," spew smoke in the air and cause environmental bleeding heart tears over caring about climate change. Indeed, "the cruelty is the point." Smoky seems to miss the point he's still on the same planet he's ruining. I'm down for him shooting his own foot: that would generate first a gasp as his talus explodes through his boot, then a guffaw. I will call 911 and tie you a tourniquet.

 

For a political party whose membership skews older, it might be surprising that the spirit that most animates Republican politics today is best described with a phrase from the world of video games: “Owning the libs."

 

Gamers borrowed the term from the nascent world of 1990s computer hacking, using it to describe their conquered opponents: “owned.” To “own the libs” does not require victory so much as a commitment to infuriating, flummoxing, or otherwise distressing liberals with one’s awesomely uncompromising conservatism. And its pop-cultural roots and clipped snarkiness are perfectly aligned with a party that sees pouring fuel on the culture wars’ fire as its best shot at surviving an era of Democratic control.

 

How ‘Owning the Libs’ Became the GOP’s Core Belief, Derek Robertson, Politico

 

Tennessee wants to halt vaccines - not just COVID, but everything! They fired the health commissioner because she was doing her job during a pandemic that's killed almost as many Americans as the 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic. Florida governor Death Santis is selling merch "Don't Fauci My Florida" after a beachside condo imploded from decaying (say it with me now: "infrastructure"), and he's second in US COVID numbers for the Delta variant. Luckily, Disney is streaming Loki because I think the Mouse may have to shut down again. "Kids get long haul COVID too." Someone needs to Fauci Death Santis' brain.

 

Fox Propaganda is pushing vaccine hesitancy as likely every anchor and crew member is fully vaccinated and following COVID protocols. Meanwhile, they are purposely sowing doubts about the efficacy of a vaccine people are fighting in the streets for overseas. This, of course, follows a Russian disinformation campaign that every opinion pundit at the Ministry of Pravda on New York's Avenue of the Americas seems to be parroting. "America's newsroom" has a Russian accent.

 

The conclusion of the Kerner Commission was we were "two Americas": one black, one white; separate, and unequal.

 

We are two Americas still: one vaccinated, one unvaccinated as a Delta variant spreads in mostly red states. For the most part, African Americans are showing social conservative values: they tend to get vaccines (most, not all), and when I'm in the store, I still see us all wearing masks. The cynical, dark calculus is, as more get sick and die (apparently, red-state republicans are cannon fodder on the altar of Moloch), the economy will falter. The party in power always gets the blame, for good or ill. This is 2022 and 2024, not because the criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party has any "ideas": it is the political equivalent of a binky for colicky, psychotic children; it is power for power's sake.

 

The presidency of George W. Bush may have been the high point of the modern Christian right’s influence in America. White evangelicals were the largest religious faction in the country. “They had a president who claimed to be one of their own, he had a testimony, talked in evangelical terms,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute and author of the 2016 book “The End of White Christian America.”

 

Back then, much of the public sided with the religious right on the key culture war issue of gay marriage. “In 2004, if you had said, ‘We’re the majority, we oppose gay rights, we oppose marriage equality, and the majority of Americans is with us,’ that would have been true,” Jones told me. Youthful megachurches were thriving. It was common for conservatives to gloat that they were going to outbreed the left.

 

But the evangelicals who thought they were about to take over America were destined for disappointment. On Thursday, P.R.R.I. released startling new polling data showing just how much ground the religious right has lost. P.R.R.I.’s 2020 Census of American Religion, based on a survey of nearly half a million people, shows a precipitous decline in the share of the population identifying as white evangelical, from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year. (As a category, “white evangelicals” isn’t a perfect proxy for the religious right, but the overlap is substantial.) In 2020, as in every year since 2013, the largest religious group in the United States was the religiously unaffiliated.

 

In addition to shrinking as a share of the population, white evangelicals were also the oldest religious group in the United States, with a median age of 56. “It’s not just that they are dying off, but it is that they’re losing younger members,” Jones told me. As the group has become older and smaller, Jones said, “a real visceral sense of loss of cultural dominance” has set in.

 

I was frightened by the religious right in its triumphant phase. But it turns out that the movement is just as dangerous in decline. Maybe more so. It didn’t take long for the cocky optimism of Generation Joshua to give way to the nihilism of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. If they can’t own the country, they’re ready to defile it.

 

The Christian Right Is in Decline, and It’s Taking America With It, Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

 

The orangutan increased his margins with African Americans and Hispanic voters, surprisingly. Members of my family voted - insanely - in 2016 and 2020 for him. I don't tend to support racists who deny rental property to blacks in New York, say the Exonerated Five should still be in jail after DNA evidence, and a confession acquitted them, and over two dozen women accusing him of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault are all lying.

 

I'll give you a Mulligan for 2016. You believed the public fiction by reality TV he was a business genius (he isn't even as evidence shows, a "stable genius"). It was for "family values," so that might mean you're bizarrely against abortion and same-sex marriage. It's like television: if you don't like the channel, you have other options, and if you're against abortion (and not a woman) or gay marriage (and not LGBT), don't practice either. Problem solved. You probably believed in cooties as a kid.

 

After four years of lies, covfefe, mangled/slurred sentences, guttural cursing, saying President Obama SPIED on him, Olympic-level obfuscation, children in cages, white supremacists in Charlottesville, fawning obsequiousness to every dictator from Putin to Kim Jong Un he could find under a rock, the unanswered murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi; rubber bullets and teargas against mostly peaceful protestors (1st Amendment - look it up), haphazardly constructed border wall boondoggles like his six bankrupt businesses, tax cuts for no-one-that-looked-like-YOU, and you STILL voted for him after what is now after "I Alone Can Fix" January 6, 2021, is shaping up to have been an attempted coup, that says a lot more about you than it does about me.

 

I'm going to have to put some real estate between us for my own mental health.

 

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Coups, Crackpots, and Psychopaths...

He nailed it.

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

 

Coups

 

There is a strong Trump following in the military, and retired generals on the crazy train, making moot all the protestations about Bill Clinton being a "draft dodger." Mango Mussolini has five deferments from fake bone spurs. Most of the retired generals are part of the Vietnam era, when they, returning from the theater were spat on and called "baby killers," they resented rich kids dodging service, yet they support one because of the coming preponderance of Melanin in America's future: a future the old farts will never live to see. Most of those retired generals aren't BIPOC (black, indigenous people of color). Many of the terrorists from January 6, 2021, are being arrested, but the jewel will be getting the seditionists that helped the insurrection getting taxpayer dollars. The seditionists in Congress don't want a bipartisan commission because criminals don't want a crime investigated in which they participated. They will also - on cue - complain a special committee comprised completely of Democrats is grossly partisan.

 

Any coup unpunished, whitewashed, or ignored becomes a rehearsal. The global economy would pivot on a dime if we suddenly became a failed state.

 

Crackpots

 

The highest-rated show on Fox Propaganda (AI inserts this automatically on my phone) used the legal excuse that "no one should take Tucker Carlson seriously." Greg Abbott, after dozens of his constituents died this past winter, passed laws to let psychopaths open carry, and is continuing the grift of building the wall. Meanwhile, temperatures in the west are soaring to dangerous levels, and brownout is inevitable. Greater than one hundred degrees Fahrenheit without air conditioning is as deadly as freezing without central heating. He'd rather ban Critical Race Theory in K - 12 schools (where it's not taught unless kindergarteners are lawyers), and solve voter fraud (which doesn't exist). But hey, we passed Juneteenth: we just can't teach where it comes from, or what it meant to ex-slaves, their descendants, and America. We managed to protect the Affordable Care Act, but Moscow Mitch has promised to "Merrick Garland" any Biden nominee if he gains the majority in 2022. It's why they're blocking votes and making it harder. It's an admission of political impotence in [a[ Democratic Republic: in a fair fight, they know they would lose.

 

The modern Republican Party died at the 2016 National Convention when they accepted a nonprofessional politician, a gameshow reality host playing the role of "billionaire" (only Cy Vance truly knows) as their bizarre nominee.  They are now the party of conspiracists, domestic terrorists, insurrectionists, and QAnon. He plugged into an anti-democratic strain in the party that was tired of listening to talking points from conservative think tanks, and preferred ranting word salad from Archie Bunker, the racist dad brainwashed right along with them, and their shared hatred of the one-and-only African American president in 232 years of the federal republic. The former GOP have wined and dined racists winked and nodded at "states rights" Dixiecrats since Reagan's initial campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Entropy works in physics and politics: eventually, genteel racism was going to metastasize into a full-on fascist. It's only natural the "grand old party" seeing no fortune in attracting, or being beholden to people of color became the "gang of Putin." They thus needed no stinking platform in 2020. After decades of running on Reagan's "aw shucks" populism, white ethnic nationalism is far more appealing. "Deconstructing the administrative state" means installing a dictator after destroying democracy.

 

Psychopaths

 

"Chief Executive" references one of the many roles in the US Constitution for an American president. It became convoluted with "Chief Executive Officer" during the Reagan years.

 

Three years into the new century, and two past 9/11, a documentary called "The Corporation" aired on screens and quickly went to video, which you can watch at the link.

 

Synopsis

 

One hundred and fifty years ago, the corporation was a relatively insignificant entity. Today, it is a vivid, dramatic, and pervasive presence in all our lives. Like the Church, the Monarchy, and the Communist Party in other times and places, the corporation is today’s dominant institution. But history humbles dominant institutions. All have been crushed, belittled, or absorbed into some new order. In this complex, exhaustive, and highly entertaining documentary, Mark Achbar, co-director of the influential and inventive Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, teams up with co-director Jennifer Abbott and writer Joel Bakan to examine the far-reaching repercussions of the corporation’s increasing preeminence.

 

Based on Bakan’s book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, the film is a timely, critical inquiry that invites CEOs, whistle-blowers, brokers, gurus, spies, players, pawns, and pundits on a graphic and engaging quest to reveal the corporation’s inner workings, curious history, controversial impacts, and possible futures. The Corporation charts the spectacular rise of an institution aimed at achieving specific economic goals as it also recounts victories against this apparently invincible force.

 

Case studies, anecdotes, and true confessions reveal behind-the-scenes tensions and influences in several corporate and anti-corporate dramas.  Among the 40 interview subjects are CEOs and top-level executives from a range of industries: oil, pharmaceutical, computer, tire, manufacturing, public relations, branding, advertising, and undercover marketing. In addition, a Nobel-prize-winning economist, the first management guru, a corporate spy, and a range of academics, critics, historians, and thinkers are also interviewed.

 

*****

 

In the book "The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success," Kevin Dutton explains that there are jobs that can attract literal psychopaths - and also jobs that are least likely to do so.

 

So what jobs are most attractive to psychopaths? Here's the list, originally published online by Eric Barker: 1. CEO, 2. Lawyer, 3. Media (Television/Radio), 4. Salesperson, 5. Surgeon, 6. Journalist, 7. Police officer, 8. Clergy person, 9. Chef, 10. Civil servant.

 

And for those looking to potentially avoid working with the least number of psychopaths, here's the list of occupations with the lowest rates of psychopathy: 1. Care aide, 2. Nurse, 3. Therapist, 4. Craftsperson, 5. Beautician/Stylist, 6. Charity worker, 7. Teacher, 8. Creative artist, 9. Doctor, 10. Accountant.

 

The premise of The Corporation is if the corporation is a person, what kind of person is it? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders, the only "type" of person this can be is a psychopath.

 

So, why do we want a psychopath to have the nuclear codes? A care aide sounds more species-extending, and a lot more stable than fake billionaire gameshow hosts.

Juneteenth is my sister and my late father's 96 birthday. I will take a break next week in celebration and remembrance.

 

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Un-Democracy...

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PBS: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/mccarthy/

 

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

 

Even presidents who don’t believe in history need a historian to rely on. When asked, in 2014, by a delegation of students and history teachers for his chosen chronicler of Russia’s past, Vladimir Putin came up with a single name: Ivan Ilyin.

 

Ilyin is a figure who might have been easily lost to history were it not for the posthumous patronage of Russia’s leader. Putin first drew attention to him – Ilyin was a philosopher, not a historian, a Russian who died in exile in Switzerland in 1954 – when he organized the repatriation of Ilyin’s remains for reburial in Moscow in 2005. Ilyin’s personal papers, held in a library in Michigan, were also brought “home” at the president’s request. New editions of Ilyin’s dense books of political philosophy became popular in Kremlin circles – and all of Russia’s civil servants reportedly received a collection of his essays in 2014. And when Putin explained Russia’s need to combat the expansion of the European Union and laid out the argument to invade Ukraine, it was Ilyin’s arguments on which the president [relied].

 

Timothy Snyder begins his pattern-making deconstruction of recent Russian history – which by design, he argues, is indistinguishable from recent British and American history – with a comprehensive account of Putin’s reverence for the work of Ilyin. Like much of Snyder’s analysis in this un-ignorable book, the framing offers both a disturbing and persuasive insight.

 

Ilyin, an early critic of Bolshevism, had been expelled by the Soviets in 1922. In Germany, where he wrote favorably of the rise of Hitler and the example of Mussolini, he developed ideas for Russian fascism, which could counter the effects of the 1917 revolution. As a thread through his nationalist rhetoric, he proposed a lost “Russian spirit”, which in its essence reflected a Christian God’s original creation before the fall and drew on a strongly masculine “pure” sexual energy (he had been psychoanalyzed by Freud). A new Russian nation should be established, Ilyin argued, to defend and promote that ineffable spirit against all external threats – not only communism but also individualism. To achieve that end, Ilyin outlined a “simulacrum” of democracy in which the Russian people would speak “naturally” with one voice, dependent on a leader who was cast as a “redeemer” for returning true Russian culture to its people. (My insert: Make Russia Great Again?) Elections would be “rituals” designed to endorse that power, periodically “uniting the nation in a gesture of subjugation.”

 

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder review – chilling and un-ignorable, Tim Adams. The Guardian

 

Black Wall Street was razed in 1921, the bombing by air dramatized in the sequel to Watchmen on HBO. Rosewood was massacred in 1923. The steamroller of violence began in 1919 after "The Great War," we know as World War I as African American soldiers returned from the war and filled factory jobs that whites found themselves competing for. The struggle for resources fosters violence. Standardized testing, De Jure redlining, and structural racism are all bloodless coups of violence. It is Pontius Pilate washing his hands before the crucifixion, but the aims and the ends are absolutely congruent.

 

In our country, one of the two major parties is actively practicing un-democracy: they are obviously not interested in "bipartisanship," except as a political cudgel on the democrats; there are 47 states logging hundreds of legislative maneuvers to make it harder for black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) to VOTE. Armed "poll watchers" can intimidate, film, potential voters. This precedent is ominous now that you don't need a permit, or training to "open carry" in Texas: just a brain, no matter the state (or, damage) of an individual mind, and a functioning trigger finger. The ongoing, dystopian Arizona "fraud-it" is as much a template as January 6, 2021. If not challenged, we will see both again. In a two-party system, both have to accept that if your party lost the election, it's your job to come with better arguments the next time. Now, the equivalent of a tantrum is being constructed, modeled after the commander of covfefe Pablum, just one where votes are suppressed, gallows might be built, bullets likely fly, and blood from BIPOC bodies runs red.

 

“Not having a January 6 Commission to look into exactly what occurred is a slap in the faces of all the officers who did their jobs that day,” Gladys Sicknick said in a statement provided to POLITICO. “I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this Bill visit my son’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward.”

 

“Putting politics aside, wouldn’t they want to know the truth of what happened on January 6? If not, they do not deserve to have the jobs they were elected to do,” she added.

 

Among the Republican senators who agreed to meet with the group, according to a source with knowledge of the schedule: Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Susan Collins (Maine), Roger Marshall (Kansas), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.).

 

Mother of deceased Capitol Police officer presses GOP senators to back Jan. 6 commission, Melanie Zanona, Nicholas Wu, Politico

 

The army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch to make its case. At a session on June 9, 1954, McCarthy charged that one of Welch's attorneys had ties to a Communist organization. As an amazed television audience looked on, Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy's career: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"

 

Overnight, McCarthy's immense national popularity evaporated. Censured by his Senate colleagues, ostracized by his party, and ignored by the press, McCarthy died three years later, 48 years old and a broken man.

 

"Have You No Sense of Decency?" The United States Senate, June 9, 1954

 

These Senate Republicans blocked the January 6 commission bill using the antebellum filibuster.

 

Decency? I would say, that is a no.

 

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

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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!

 

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The Monster They Made...

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

It's the kind of floor speech that sets up a presidential run in 2024 when no one in her party has any illusions: the blogger in Florida will be in too much legal and financial trouble to actually run for his old "executive time" job, plus, he'll be two years shy of eighty. It's what Rafael Edward Cruz trolled the insurrectionists about. It's what inspired Toy-Story-Woody Josh Howley's raised fist broadcast around the world. Both salivate to ride this dragon. A Cheney has put herself in the way of their ambitions.

She sounds principled. Noble. Statesmanlike. It's also superfluous bullshit. Don't get me wrong: she's right. Anyone sane seeing the January 6, 2021 insurrection can't call it anything but that, unless that's ultimately their goal. But the environment she finds herself in stems from her and her father's previous actions. They sowed the seeds that germinated the Tea Party, that metastasized into the Orwellian "Freedom Caucus," Alt-Right, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, QAnon, that through Fox Propaganda and its many clones in right-wing talk shtick culminating in a modern attempt to overthrow our federal republic.

On September 16, 2001, Vice President Cheney appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and talked about what it will take to deal with the terrorism threat: "…We have to work the dark side if you will. Spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world," Cheney said. "A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion …."

 

PBS Frontline: The Dark Side

 

David Corn rightly points out that Liz Cheney, and her dad, Dark Lord of the Sith, paved the way to the big lie. It's why congressmen compare the January 6, 2021 insurrection to rowdy tourists (typically, tourists who smear feces and urinate in halls are jettisoned from the park). She, her dad, and many obfuscating republicans that lied us into the "weapons of mass destruction" that weren't in Iraq brought us to this point.

 

The right had a hissy fit when Janet Napolitano warned about right-wing violence in 2009. So did Daryl Johnson, an intelligence analyst at DHS. The "chickens came home to roost" on January 6, 2021, and the current Attorney General Merrick Garland and DHS Secretary Mayorkas are warning the same thing in 2021, specifically by name: white supremacy.

 

Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debates are being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. So you can be sure that each candidate will deliver an effusive homage to Reagan and then explain why he or she is Reagan’s one true heir.

 

(The first GOP presidential debates were in Cleveland, and even there, Reagan was invoked by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Lindsey Graham.)

 

But no matter how much the candidates talk about Reagan, you can be sure that none of these extremely important things about him will come up. And maybe that’s appropriate — since if Reagan stood for anything as president, it was creating a completely fictionalized version of the past.

 

1. Reagan launched his 1980 general election campaign with a speech lauding “states’ rights” outside Philadelphia, Mississippi — the site of the notorious “Mississippi Burning” murder of three civil rights workers in 1964.

 

James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were abducted and killed in Mississippi by the local Ku Klux Klan in June 1964 — a case that garnered enormous national attention because, as Schwerner’s widow said, he and Goodman were white.

 

On August 3, 1980, Reagan traveled to the Neshoba County Fair, which a prominent state Republican had recommended as the place to find “George Wallace-inclined voters.” There — within walking distance of the earthen dam where the murderers of the three civil rights workers had surreptitiously buried them just 16 years before — Reagan delivered a speech including these lines:

 

I know that in speaking to this crowd, that I’m speaking to what has to be about 90 percent Democrat. I just meant by party affiliation. I didn’t mean how you feel now. I was a Democrat most of my life myself. …

I believe in states’ rights. … And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment. …

SEVEN THINGS ABOUT RONALD REAGAN YOU WON’T HEAR AT THE REAGAN LIBRARY GOP DEBATE, Jon Schwartz, The Intercept

 

As columnist William Raspberry wrote upon Reagan’s death, his endorsement of “states’ rights” — the same phrase white Southerners had used for decades to justify Jim Crow segregation — was “bitter symbolism for black Americans” and “an important bouquet in [GOP] courtship” of Dixiecrats.

 

*****

 

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is an 1818 novel written by English author Mary Shelley. Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818, when she was 20. Her name first appeared in the second edition, which was published in Paris in 1821. Wikipedia

 

Shelley's most pressing and obvious message is that science and technology can go too far. The ending is plain and simple; every person that Victor Frankenstein had cared about met a tragic end, including himself. This shows that we as beings in society should believe in the sanctity of human life. Minori Cohan, Shelley’s warnings in Frankenstein

 

[Ironic] that a Russian criminal hacker group calls itself Dark Side Leaks that pretty much shut down the eastern seaboard from New York to Alabama. Sadly, the people who hoarded toilet paper during the pandemic emerged to meme ridicule, making the Ransomware attack worse than it needed to be.

 

The Republican Party that Liz Cheney wants to lead doesn't exist if it ever did. She voted more for the previous resident's agenda than against it, according to 538. She voted no on HR1: The For the People Act with the typical republican-speak against expanding the franchise to voters that probably wouldn't think twice about not voting for her or her party. Elise Stefanik was far less a sycophant, but fealty to a demagogue gets you a promotion from a dear leader out of power, for whatever that's worth.

 

For the moment, she and a lot of sane-sounding republicans that oppose open fascism are still on the "dark side." They don't want to expand the voting franchise; they are appalled at the thought of turning off the spigot of dark money, aren't the least bit interested in raising the minimum wage to a living wage, could care less to have universal healthcare like most European nations. There is no interest in Liz's party for the LGBTQ, which includes her sister and her partner because they, without intervention, can't have more white babies that might grow up to vote republican (if they don't, they'll just block them like black and brown communities). There is no racism in their suburban cul de sacs. For god's sake, a woman can't have agency on when she gets pregnant, or if she wants to become a mother, because the only function of Liz Cheney's gender in her party, according to the late, great George Carlin is broodmare of the state.

 

Prometheus in Greek mythology is a Titan. His name means "fore thinker." In lore, he's credited with creating mortals and against the will of the gods, giving us fire. The punishment for this affront by Zeus was the creation of Pandora. Meeting Epimetheus (hindsight), he fell in love with her, despite Prometheus' warnings. She is famous for the box unleashing evils, hard work, and disease on the face of the earth. Source: Britannica

 

For these fifteen minutes of fame, Liz Cheney sounds rational, majestic: presidential. Her vast connections to traditional republican powerbrokers will make the lives of Dumbo Gambino and the jellyfish-chin-in-a-suit-who-wants-to-be-Speaker a living hell. Her father, Lord Vader, is deathly silent, and that's scary (for them, and likely us).

 

To ascend and become our first female Chief Executive, she would have to admit her role in the monster she and her father helped create. That would take something heretofore unseen in republican politicians, traditional, or QAnon: hindsight.

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