Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Under The Hoax Dome

Hoax enough for ya? In Seattle, workers watered roads that were buckling in the hoax. Because their cables were over-hoaxing, Portland’s trolleys were shut down. Olympic trials in Eugene paused as athletes succumbed to hoax-stroke. For those of us fortunate enough to have air-conditioning, going outside was like walking into a solid wall of hoax.

If it was hoaxer than Hell around here, there’s some good news on another front: The hoaxcines have been hugely effective against the coronahoax. Numbers of new cases in our state have dropped dramatically. Here and across America, 99% of people now dying from the hoaxus are unhoaxinated. And, because so many of us have understood the need and the science, those who still refuse the hoaxine because of Hox “news” are increasingly unlikely to fall ill. “See?” they’ll say. “Told you so.”

Also, we’ve learned the January 6 hoaxurrection wasn’t orchestrated by Antifa or BLM or AOC after all. It was the FBI. Ask Trump’s rally-goers.  

Seriously, foax: why are Republican leaders so committed to making and keeping their voters stupid? That they’re doing so and are surpassingly good at it is uncontroversial. And whereas it’s not hard to understand why they do it, what’s shocking is how easy it’s been. To wit: Critical Race Theory. Letters to the editor bemoaning the “fact” that it’s taught in our schools. That’s high-class, low-information, full-frontal Hoaxification.

The question answers itself. Republican leaders need stupid voters in order to regain and retain power. Smart people wouldn’t let them. Why? Because that party has become devoid of ideas, other than tax cuts to keep their bankrollers wealthy, even as it means ignoring America’s most dire needs. Because only stupid people stand by while, in order to win elections in the absence of helpful policy, Republicans surgically neuter democracy in states it controls. Only stupid people continue to believe, undeterred by overwhelming contrary evidence, that such measures are justified, because the last election was “stolen.”

It’s not smart people who’ve put #ucker Carlson at the top of cable “news” and kept him there, even after he called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “stupid” and a “pig” for saying well-informed troops are more effective. Ante-upper Laura Ingraham, #ucker’s ovarian equivalent, called for defunding the military, while Matt Gaetz did the same for the FBI. Makes “defund the police” – admittedly the most stupid and self-destructive meme up with which the liberal fringe has ever come – seem almost charming, doesn’t it?

But let’s leave calling people “stupid” to #ucker. Henceforth, we’ll substitute “uneducated” and “misinformed.” The point is that educated, well-informed people understand the deathly danger of climate change. They see that ignoring it any longer is beyond irresponsible. And Republican leaders understand dealing with it would mean they couldn’t sustain the unbalanced tax structure that keeps their donors happy. They understand that most of their voters, fed the right propaganda, can be made resentful enough of changing demographics to vote their way no matter what else is at stake – even when it’s life itself. Education, then, is their gravest enemy, to be attacked unrelentingly.

So they dredged up “Critical Race Theory,” a fifty-year-old legal/academic concept, taught mainly in law schools, proposing that race is a social construct, and that America’s justice system doesn’t deal fairly with racial issues. Ask a generic Trumpist, they’ll say it’s taught in grade schools, to make all kids hate America and white ones hate themselves. How stu… sorry … misinformed

Should children know American history? Does it include racism? Can we learn from it? Might that make America better? Only st… oops … uneducated people would argue otherwise.

Trumpists conflate CRT with teaching children to be empathetic and to recognize unfairness where it exists; which, unlike CRT, is taught, and should be. Except in Texas, Florida, and, soon, all red states. PACs have even been created to get Trumpists on school boards, to keep teachers from discussing racism. Perhaps they’ll explain why they shouldn’t. And why banning it isn’t the “cancel culture” they’re encouraged to rage about.

Having supported an actual hoax while in office, the former one-term president’s Attorney General now confirms he and other advisers knew Trump’s election claims were bullstuff. He said Mitch McConnell asked him to call it out, because he, Mitch, couldn’t. Because to win Georgia they needed to keep voters st… dang! … misinformed. McConnell corroborated Barr’s statement. 

Which ought, finally, to help Trumpists recognize what’s being done to them, and why; and, for their own self-respect and our country’s future, to work to become better informed, rather than staying, well … stupid.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

#ucker Carlson, FBI, And Italian Gates

"Unindicted co-conspirators." Makes a person think. If by "think" one means "completely mischaracterize the concept." When used in a DOJ report on January's insurrection, it made Tucker Carlson "think" of the FBI. "Incredible bombshell," he called it. After which, several Republican loonies in Congress gobbled it up like orange wedges at a kids' soccer match.

To Tucker “Starts-with-T-but-there-are-alternatives” Carlson, the term could only mean Trump’s anti-American insurrection was an FBI operation. To people able to maintain contact with reality, though, it more likely refers to seditionists who laid plans but for which there’s currently inadequate evidence to indict; or to those who stoked anger to murderous levels on the morning of. Mo Brooks, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, for examples. And, of course, the outvoted “president.” That’s how Nixon was described, after all, back when gates stopped being just things that open and close.

To rationalize their anti-democracy voter suppression laws (because fair elections would doom them, R senators just blocked even discussion, much less a vote, on the For the People Act), Republicans must keep alive the myth of massive election fraud. To keep the lie Trumpophilically credible, they’re morphing the murderous insurrection it engendered into something innocent; or created by deep-state agents, or liberals; or which never happened at all.

What other explanation is there for the Republican representatives who voted against honoring the capitol police? If they didn’t honor them, it didn’t happen. If it didn’t happen, there’s no complicity for those peddling Trump’s big lie.

As to Tucker, they come for the conspiracies and stay for the lies. Who doubts that millions of the Trumpofoxified are buying his FBI connivance, after he repeated it, repeatedly?

Which raises an interesting question: if Tucker’s like-mindless Congress-dwellers believe his deep state confabulation, why vote against a commission to investigate? Wouldn’t they ride the wave of revealed, awful truth to perpetual power? To which the answer can only be, they don’t.

What they do believe, then, is that Trumpublicans can be convinced of anything; so they keep them hot, bothered, ignorant of, and distracted from their real, deep six agenda. By what evidence can anyone say they’re wrong?

They’re not. One needs no more proof than “ItalyGate,” their most recent gate swinging off its hinges, pushed, among others, by a woman sitting for an interview while squatting, unknown to the owner, in a thirty-million-dollar mansion she claimed was hers. Not far enough off, though, to prevent Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, from asking the DOJ to look into it.

Because who wouldn’t believe an Italian defense contractor collaborated with the US Embassy in Rome, to beam advanced (alien?) satellite technology into voting machines, stealing millions of Trump votes. Totally real. Real as hacking into machines that aren’t online. From outer space. Real as Jewish space lasers combusting California’s forests. 

But not as real as how close Trump brought us to losing it all. Because behind the noise, the deliberate drum of disinformation dispersed by devious deceivers, are disturbing details. Whether getting the Department of Justice to spy on members of Congress and reporters and even his own people, or pressuring it to find non-existent election fraud, he did his best to make the DOJ and, it’s being reported, even the FCC, his personal investigatory and punishment agencies. Like the KGB, Stasi, Gestapo, and OVRA, used by the dictators he so admires to keep their subjects in line and living in fear.

How close? Attorney General Barr willingly mischaracterized the Mueller Report, squelched prosecutorial investigations into Trump’s criminality, resumed the domestic data-gathering at which even Jeff Sessions had finally balked, and let Trump’s criminal enablers, like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, off the hook. But lying about manifestly absent election fraud was evidently an abridgment too far, even for him, despite his prior eagerness to politicize his department. After failing to confirm Trump’s big lie, he was gone. His successor, pressured by Trump to appoint special counsels to find it, slow-walked it. That close.

As Trumpists keep believing conspiracies egested by their favorite fabulists, and as unscrupulous pushers of them keep getting elected, there are ever fewer people on the right with the integrity and rationality required to protect the Republic. No matter how long he’s been “gone,” Trump’s treachery lives on. Thanks in no small part to Tucker’s anti-American, self-enriching shtick, Vladimir Putin polls higher than President Biden among Trumpists.

First, Russia had Trump. Now it’s Carlson. As he and his believers tear down America, in the Kremlin it’s high fives all around. We're left to wonder if #ucker is in on it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

God And Mitch (maybe not in that order)

On Monday, Mitch McConnell unlimbered himself of the following bit of oracular wisdom: "I think it's highly unlikely — in fact, no, I don't think either party, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election." He should know. In a rational world, his picture would appear in every dictionary in every language of every country on Earth, next to their word for “hypocrite.”

I’m told there are differences of opinion on the existence or nature of a creator of this universe; and, if there is such an entity, whether he/she/it/they resemble the God of the Bible or any of the thousand or so other gods and godettes in which people believe around the world. I’m not about to weigh in on the matter; however, there’s one compelling piece of evidence against the Judeo-Christian version: Mitch McConnell has not yet been rendered into ash by a bolt of lightning. Not even as he uttered those words. It’s not dispositive, but it does make a person think.

For Mitch, politics is a zero-sum game. Any lie, any eye-popping example of unabashed hypocrisy, any full reversal of a previous declaration is justified in service of his only goal: preservation of power. What’s best for our country is of no importance. If he has his way – and, with the help of Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema, he most likely will – President Biden and Democrats won’t be able to pass any significant legislation of benefit even to his own constituents. No matter if – or, maybe, especially BECAUSE – a significant majority of Americans want it enacted.

If there’s any philosophical consistency to Mitch’s behavior and that of his party, it’s unwavering commitment to preventing a Democrat-led government from succeeding. In the states, it’s preventing a Democrat-led government from happening at all, no matter by what margin Democrats outnumber Republicans within their borders. Because, generally speaking, what comes from Democrats has always been good for the majority of Americans: child labor laws, workplace safety, health care, Social Security, and, were they to get their way, laws protecting equality of the franchise and rebuilding infrastructure.

The list is longer. Much longer than what Republicans have produced, ever since Saint Ronnie told us government is the problem. Were enough people to come to realize it, and if it came to pass that they understood what Trumpublicanism (even before Trump) has prevented or taken from them, voters would relegate that party to a historical anomaly.

So confident are Mitch and other leading lights the Republican Party of their success in befuddling and distracting their voters that they feel free to demean their greatest enemy: democracy itself. Openly. That's where we are: today’s Republicans, as far from their origins and historical icons as they could possibly be, are actively denouncing democracy while doing everything they can to eliminate its most sacrosanct protector; namely, fair elections.

Too strong? Here’s Senator Mike Lee of Utah, Tweetle-deeing: “Democracy isn't the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity [sic] are. We want the human condition to flourish. [Really? Then how about some healthcare and anti-climate change legislation? How about helping people in poverty to flourish?] Rank democracy can thwart that.” RANK?? What does that even mean? Functioning? One in which the majority prevails?

Yep. Exactly. We know that because, not long after, along came Tweetle-dumb: “The idea of democracy and majority rule really is what goes against our history and what the country stands for.” Doctor (how embarrassing!) Rand Paul. Is who had that to say. And more: "The Jim Crow laws came out of democracy. That's what you get when a majority ignores the rights of others." It doesn’t get wronger than that. Like the voter suppression laws sprouting in red states like MAGA hats and Q flags, Jim Crow legislation was an attack on democracy, its absolute opposite, springing from fear of – what shall we call them? – RANK elections. Just more obvious and clumsy than modern efforts to protect monotone against a rising and inevitable tide of polychrome.

Much smarter and far more subtle than Trump, and still in power, Mitch McConnell understands the future of his party depends on finding ways to keep the “wrong” people from voting, and to keep “his” people from accepting the results when the majority prevails. He knows his efforts, and those of red state leaders, to disenfranchise citizens who hold the power to run them out of office will eventually find their way to the Supreme Court.

Which makes the reasons for that statement, above, as clear as those patches of empty lawn on the National Mall, January 20, 2017. 


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Meating Of The Minds

Not all Trumpublicans are brainwashed. Some are the ones doing it. It’s a question of which came first, the chicken or a horse of a different color.

Many scientific studies have confirmed that liberals and conservatives process information differently: reactions to tense situations; response to facts that disprove beliefs; which parts of the brain light up on scans when seeing stressful images. Consistently, they show that liberals tend to respond more rationally, more evidence-based.

Published in “Science Advances,” titled “Conservatives’ susceptibility to political misperceptions,” the latest such study summarizes, in part, thus: “… Results confirm that conservatives … perform worse at distinguishing truth and falsehoods. This is partially explained by the fact that the most widely shared falsehoods tend to promote conservative positions, while corresponding truths typically favor liberals…” [think climate change, election fraud, adenochrome, vaccines, “fake” vs. fake, BLM.]

Only hardcore science and statistics nerds will plow through it. Even more improbable is that people who should see it, will; much less give it serious consideration. But, by methods careful and transparent, the findings are well-supported. Given the unabashed preference for spreading and receiving falsehoods that characterize today’s Republican Party, tightly bound to Trumpism, the findings aren’t unexpected. It’s doubtful they’re remediable. Which makes trying for “bipartisanship” a fool’s game. 

An intriguing enigma remains: is this democracy-threatening dupability the cause or effect of nonstop disinformation? Did the decades-ago founding purveyors of it, like Gingrich aping Goebbels, deliberately create gullibility by bombarding their followers with so much untruth that they became unable to distinguish it? Or, like Karl Rove, did they recognize the preexisting defect in certain conservatives’ judgment, then exploit it for power and wealth?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. But if this blindness is connate, not created, reversal is fantasy. Either way, with deception being prevalent for so long, enlightenment seems unobtainable. Weirdly, the optimistic view is that what we’re witnessing, namely the majority of Republicans believing Trump’s election lies and other laughable but unfunny falsehoods, sprang from intentional manipulation by unscrupulous, democracy-rejecting, lower-sphincter-adjacents. At least that would suggest the possibility of rehabilitation.

Among other doubtful occurrences, though, it’d require old-school, honest conservatives regaining ascendency in their party. It’d require more Republicans (and two pudding-brained senatorial DINOs) choosing country over clout. And it’d require enough Trumpists to recognize that every piece of legislation beneficial to them is being blocked by the powers behind their own party. Which, in turn, would mean overcoming their mysterious inability to discern lies. Not likely. 

For today's Republican leadership, still prostrate before Trump, afraid of the radicalized, conspiracy-believing base they so painstakingly created, there’s too much at stake to let it happen. Because they have no positive agenda, and, given Trump’s failures, particularly with but not limited to his response to Covid-19, they’re determined to change the subject, by manipulating the aforementioned vulnerability. The insurrection wasn’t. Or was liberals in disguise. Or, as described with a knowing smirk by “President” Putin, to whom Trump consistently kowtowed, the insurrectionists were simply “making political requests” for which they’re being unjustly prosecuted. Right. Putin, Trump, Fox, OAN, and Newsmax.

Because a party without policy needs diversionary scapegoats, Dr. Fauci is their latest Hillary Clinton. He, not Trump, bears responsibility for America’s nearly six-hundred-thousand pandemic deaths. Waving the fascist playbook like Trump’s Lafayette Square Bible, Junior Trump joked about murdering him. Trump himself said there’s worse coming. Let’s not only forget Trump’s lies and inattention, his mismanagement, his mockery of people who cared. Let’s also erase his pulling CDC experts out of China before the pandemic, as part of his ineffective “tough on China” posturing.  

Another example: Because President Biden’s rescue plan actually decreased economic stress and food insecurity by forty percent, Republicans have supporters focusing on people still not working. How can such unquestioning acceptance of misdirection be overcome? 

Resurrecting his “Shower Me with Adulation” claimbakes for the wool-eyed, Trump, when not lying about the man who defeated him sound and certified, teleprompted these words last weekend: “The survival of America depends on our ability to elect Republicans at every level, starting with the midterms next year.”

He’s right. If, by “America,” he means the country where not all citizens have equal access to voting. Where the needs and political preferences of the majority are quashed. Where the means of escape from poverty are repeatedly blocked, lest taxes be raised on people who never experienced it and don’t care. Where lies are truth and the mysterious inability to divine the difference is explicitly employed, by their leaders and media stars, to benefit the wealthy few who control Trump’s Republican party. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Prepping For The Final Exam

Pop Quiz. No time limit. Links to answers attached to each question. For purposes of self-assessment, don’t look before answering. Fair warning to Trumpic and/or Foxified Republicans: Have adult beverages handy, for you risk the shock of factuality by following the links. If none other, at least follow the first one. PLEASE. And may enlightenment shine upon you and bring you peace.

(Note for blog-readers only: you probably already know what's at the links, but click anyway. Some, you might find amusing. Also, the Herald version is moving to Fridays, I'm told.)

1. Intentionally creating distrust in elections by repeatedly lying about non-existent fraud, then forcing laws to “restore trust,” is an unprecedented, existentially dangerous attack on democracy. From within. Discuss. (Link)

2. Define Critical Race Theory. Explain its origins. Indicate where it’s being taught and where it’s not. Write a paragraph to refute its central tenets. (Link)(Link)

3. What is the 1619 Project? Explain its origins. Indicate where it’s being taught and where it’s not. Write a paragraph to refute its central tenets. (Link)(Link

4. Define communism. Give examples of where, in its pure form, it’s ever been implemented in a country. Have any countries referred to themselves as communist when, in fact, by strict definition, they weren’t? Do any official policies of the Democratic Party fit the definition? Which ones? Be specific. (Link)

5. Define pure socialism. Have any countries referred to themselves as socialist when, in fact, by strict definition, they weren’t? Do any policies of the Democratic Party fit the definition? Which ones? Be specific. (Link)

6. Define Democratic Socialism. (You may refer to it as Social Democracy.) Give examples of countries whose governance currently fits the definition. Is there a spectrum? If so, does the US belong somewhere along it? Compare happiness indexes and poverty levels. (Link)

7. In Social Democracies, government programs that provide education, health, and economic security for citizens, especially the workforce, enhance and strengthen capitalism. Refute. (Link)

8. True or false: In a fairly constituted democratic republic, the minority of voters should have a voice but the majority should prevail. Defend your answer. (Link)

9. Does gerrymandering, which allows a party to control state legislatures while receiving fewer votes than the opposition, lead to fair public policy? Is it consistent with the fundamentals of our democracy? Why or why not? (Link)

10. If an insurrection occurs in a democracy, successful or not, the intent of which is to overthrow a constitutionally certified, multiply-recounted and adjudicated election, and which results in deaths and destruction within the nation’s hallowed Capitol and which overtly threatens the lives of legislators of both parties, should the roots and carrying out of that insurrection be investigated? Why or why not? (Link)

11. If one party blocks a bipartisan investigatory commission, the composition of which included all the demands of that party and mirrors the framework of the 9/11 commission, is it fair to conclude they wish to hide self-incriminating facts from the American people? (Link)

12. If the Senate leader of that party demands his colleagues block it “as a personal favor,” what’s the “personal” part? What constituents does he fear? Do they reflect the opinion of most Americans regarding an investigation? Show your work. (Link

13. Discuss: The filibuster leads to bipartisanship. Give examples from recent years. If sixty to seventy percent of Americans favor certain legislation, should forty percent of senators, representing forty million fewer voters than senators of the other party, be able to block it? Why or why not? Does our Constitution mention filibuster? Does it square with original intent? (Link)

14. What is original intent? Would the founders agree that the mass murders occurring almost daily in the country they created are simply “the price of freedom”? In writing the Second Amendment, should they have specified, unambiguously, what they meant by a “well-regulated militia,” and what they intended as its purpose? Was slavery involved in any way? Support your answer. (Link)(Link)

15. The First Amendment was written when news spread on horseback. Would the founders have anticipated media sources with instant and worldwide reach, using lies and dishonest editing as a business plan? If not, are there arguments for updating the amendment? (Link)

16. Trump hired “only the best people,” and none were corrupt. Defend. (Link)

17. Reports say Trump believes he’ll be reinstated as “president” by August. Explain: (Link)

18. Who’s tougher, rugby players like your columnist once was, or soccer players? Provide examples. (Link)

19. MAGA Republicans prefer selecting leaders by coup or overturning elections. Refute. (Link)

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