January 6

The American ISIS – Part Two


This is Part Two of The American ISIS. Part One was published on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. You can find it here.

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Kurt Andersen’s 2017 book Fantasyland is a remarkable journey through our 5 century endeavor to perfect our ability to believe almost anything. It’s about how we blind ourselves to obvious reality and embrace outrageous explanations and fantasies to fill our gaping ignorance and feed our passions. We may be reaching perfection in that right now and could achieve escape velocity.

I recommend Andersen’s book to you but caution that you may find some of his views objectionable. Should that happen, simply focus on the basic American manias of belief in whatever puffs our bubble and our need to be wowed by ever more spectacular wow. There are hard consequences to those vulnerabilities. Our enthusiasm to believe the otherwise unbelievable is especially true when we live in fear of the ground shifting farther away from what feels solidly familiar. We clutch after vaporous memories of an imagined better time that never happened and we demand that it return.

He concludes his book quoting Hannah Arendt, who escaped Germany in 1933, came to America and became a leading political philosopher. In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism she wrote, “The essential conviction shared by all ranks [in a totalitarian movement], from fellow-traveler to leader, is that politics is a game of cheating.” Consider that in the context of our fellow-traveler mobs chanting “Stop the steal!” and their dear leader having whined, accused and lied incessantly since 2015 about rigged elections and who now donkey brays about how the 2020 election was “stolen” from him and his mobs.

Back to Arendt:

“A mix of gullibility and cynicism have been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true  .  .  .  Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable truth of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

Her references were to Stalin and Hitler but she could as well have been writing about 21st century America and Donald Trump. We’re not a different species from any other people at any other time and this story is a recurring one. The difference is that it is being played out on us today and it is our democracy that is in danger.

The Nazi Brown Shirts and Stalin’s Death Squads and Pol Pot’s Kymer Rouge were each absolute followers of an absolute, tyrannical leader. They were constantly infused with propaganda. So, too, were and are the al Qaeda and ISIS vengeful mobs.

Right here at home our American ISIS is propagandized by Trump. He is yet another megalomaniac who will get his way or he will burn it all down. His followers have promised death to whomever he points a stubby finger at, including the Vice President of the United States. There are over 300 million guns in private hands in America and most are owned by a relative few, meaning that we have propagandized militias with over-stocked arsenals and barely contained rage. Even some of our military and police are fully propagandized.

These American ISIS members have promised ongoing violence fueled by their self-righteous certainties of patriotism and their imagined unity with 18th century revolutionaries. They have demonstrated their eagerness to inflict their violence on others. In fact far right extremists are the biggest perpetrators of domestic terrorism in America – by far. Now consider what will happen when their tyrannical leader, their Caligula, is indicted and convicted of his crimes.

Consider, too, how critical it will be to pass S.4263, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and H.R.1, the For The People Act to stop a Republican steal of our upcoming elections and of our democracy.

The facts are before us, so expecting the American ISIS to make good on their threats is an exercise in reality. Believe your eyes.

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Good News!

On Friday President Biden fired the Trump appointed head of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul, and solicited and received the resignation of his chief deputy, David Black. Saul spent the past years doing everything he could to deny benefits to seniors, our disabled and others for whom the system is supposed to work. He tried to bust the employee union and more.

Saul’s firing is a fine start to removing all the Trump toadies who have their jobs due to campaign donations and blatant conflicts of interest with the agencies they lead, like Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who spends his days hobbling the post office system and slowing your mail.

Well done, President Biden. Keep purging!

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Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Crap! A Friday Extra


One of the features of watching a YouTube video is the line up of additional videos presented to tantalize us. YouTube captures what we’ve watched before and provides links to videos with some similarity to them in order to keep us watching. As you know, what commonly results is an enormous time suck.

I haven’t a clue how it happened, but somehow I got tagged for pseudo-science conspiracy crap videos. I know this because I clicked on a video and watched a very well produced documentary of idiotic, serious face “experts” claiming idiotic, seriously meant possibilities, like, “Only a handful of astronauts have seen the far side of the moon, so there could be massive construction there.” And there are crackpots spouting provocative, idiotic questions, like, “Can it be that the Moon is actually hollow?” *

To support their hollow Moon theory they quote a United States Geologic Survey study of radar pings to the Moon that supposedly have penetrated the surface. They report that the USGS determined that the moon’s crust is only 20 miles thick; past that it’s hollow. To fact-check their claim I went to the USGS site and did a search. The closest I could get to validating the claims of this YouTube video was a piece published in 1991 entitled Demography and Natural History of the Common Fruit Bat. I, for one, believe the fruit bat information confirms their claims of a hollow Moon, but that’s just me.

That information is especially powerful when paired with multiple claims by multiple no-name talking heads in this video. They say that NASA has banged on the Moon, which has resulted in echos lasting for hours. Perhaps that means that the Moon is actually a celestial bell awaiting a galactic clapper.

YouTube has lined up other crackpot videos. There’s one asking if the Soviet Union discovered aliens in the deepest lake in the world. Another tells the story of a pilot who survived the Bermuda Triangle and who will tell you what he saw. There’s some guy who was pronounced dead for 20 minutes and he’ll tell you what he saw, too. And there’s a video telling what would happen if Yellowstone National Park were to blow up. It sure is a good thing that someone is thinking about that.

There’s a video about a massive LA disaster you’ve never heard of and another where Apollo 11’s “third astronaut” Michael Collins reveals secrets from the far side of the moon. But if you were to watch that video you’d learn that there are no secrets and Collins doesn’t reveal anything. Fact checking ruins all the fun. Nevertheless, there is no end of provocative, pseudo-science crap just waiting for our clicks. Enjoy. Better yet: don’t.

The point of this is captured by a single statistic: The hollow Moon video has been viewed 2.1 million times. Clearly, people believe this crap and they share it with their airhead friends, who believe it, too.

Literally millions of Americans believe that the January 6 insurrection was just an ordinary group of tourists visiting the Capitol Building. Never mind that the building was closed to visitors due to Covid-19. And when you watch the videos again just ignore the chants to hang the Vice President and pay no attention to the bear spray, the Auschwitz tee-shirts, the beatings of Capitol police, the vandalism and the rest. Bear in mind that, “15 percent of Americans agree with the QAnon statement that the U.S. government, media and financial worlds ‘are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation’”.

Idiotic, false-on-the-face-of-it crap is gobbled up by otherwise capable humans who are commonly able to feed themselves, fill their own gas tanks and utter intelligible sentences in a single language. But now due to cowards in our government, these conspiracy gobbling, gullible people have outsized influence on our democracy. Fantasy rules. Rationality, logic and good sense be damned.

To use the suggestive question format of the conspiracy world, “Could this be evidence of alien life forms eating the brains of Americans?” Perhaps if NASA were to bang on their heads we would hear the echos.

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  • * Full disclosure: these are not verbatim quotes. They are the substance of such statements repeated throughout the idiotic video. My life has great value to me and I won’t waste it on crap, so I am unwilling to watch the video again in order to perfect the quotes.

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Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.

Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  3. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Liberal and Most Illiberal


Liberal

New York Times conservative columnist Bret Stephens has an interesting post on our politics. He says we’re not divided by liberal versus conservative; we’re divided by liberal versus illiberal. Here’s what he says liberal democracy is supposed to be:

By “liberal,” I don’t mean big-state welfarism. I mean the tenets and spirit of liberal democracy. Respect for the outcome of elections, the rule of law, freedom of speech, and the principle (in courts of law and public opinion alike) of innocent until proven guilty. Respect for the free market, bracketed by sensible regulation and cushioned by social support. Deference to personal autonomy but skepticism of identity politics. A commitment to equality of opportunity, not “equity” in outcomes. A well-grounded faith in the benefits of immigration, free trade, new technology, new ideas, experiments in living. Fidelity to the ideals and shared interests of the free world in the face of dictators and demagogues.

If he’s right in his definition (and I think he is), then we’re not even hitting the liberal barn door today, much less the center of the bulls eye painted on it. And “illiberal” is probably too cozy a term. It’s more like outright hostility to democracy.

Perhaps ’twas ever thus, but we’re living in an age when outrageousness and high volume dominate. Given our wealth of venues for instant dissemination of whatever drivel dribbles from lips and finger tips, that makes every blowhard a blow torch that easily burns down decorum, critical thinking and even our sense of reality.

Stephens’ column was nicely book-ended by that of Ross Douthat, who wrote that voting restrictions aren’t really as impactful as lefties think they are. I wonder what response he’d get if he were to run that by the people in North Carolina where most polling places in Black areas were closed and people were forced to travel long distances and wait for hours to vote. Did he check in with the voters in Georgia and Florida whose names were removed from the voting roles solely because they missed voting in the last election? So many questions, so little liberal democracy.

Most Illiberal

In an interview on the Joe Pags show Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Racism) spoke of the insurrection against the Constitution on January 6, declaring,

“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned.”

“Now, had the tables been turned — now, Joe, this will get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Never mind that the rioters clearly didn’t love this country – they were attacking it – and rather than “never do anything to break the law,” they were in constant violation of the law. And no, they didn’t honor Blue Lives Matter, either – they attacked over 140 police officers. And let’s ignore his blatant racism implicit in “I might have been a little concerned” if the rioters were BLM or Antifa. Instead, let’s look at how Johnson defended himself against the justified excoriation of his racist comments.

“This isn’t about race, this is about riots. I have been attacked and criticized because I pushed back on the narrative that there were thousands of armed insurrectionists, and that’s just a small part of the 74 million Americans that voted for President Trump that also need to be suspect of being potential domestic terrorists or also potentially armed insurrectionists. This is a false narrative, and so the few of us that push back on that we get mercilessly attacked.”

Since making his disingenuous comments, Johnson has been roundly accused of slimy, miserable scum bucket racism. Full disclosure: those are my adjectives and not necessarily those of all the senators, congressmen/women, pundits and ordinary folk who have called him out.

As you can see by his last sentence, he has advanced to the next step of despotic manipulation as instructed by Trump. After doing his own version of “fine people on both sides,” Johnson has taken refuge in sulking, declaring himself a poor victim. Just look what those unfair critics have done to him!

Ron Johnson is so morally bankrupt that he isn’t worth this much space in a blog post, except for one thing: he speaks for all the Americans who manage to rationalize their fear and hatred and notions of supremacy, somehow justifying their joy in discrimination. Holding him up as a fine example of this cowardliness is useful.

Michael Gerson says Johnson is no outlier. Writing in The Washington Post he says,

“There have always been bigots with access to a microphone. But in this case, Johnson did not face the hygienic repudiation of his party. Republican leaders preferred a different strategy: putting their fingers in their ears and humming loudly. Republicans have abolished their ideological police.”

“It matters whether leaders delegitimize hatred or fertilize it; if they isolate prejudice or mainstream it. If political figures base their appeal on the cultivation of resentment for some group or groups, they are releasing deadly toxins into our society without any idea who might be harmed or killed. Such elected leaders might not have blood on their hands directly, but they are creating a society with more bloody hands.”

To be clear, I do not know if Ron Johnson (or any other illiberal posing as a Republican) is feeble minded, galactically ignorant or if he is a vicious, pandering liar. I do know that he is dangerous because he perpetuates hatred that does more than upset people; it gets people killed and it can upend our democracy. That pleases Vladimir Putin, whose propaganda Johnson and other Republicans trumpeted loudly in the last election and beyond. Johnson, like so many other chaos generators, is actively working against America, and that is very illiberal. Read this from Anne Applebaum.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Stampeding Dishonesty Is Trampling Everything In Its Path


This is about people who are knowingly saying things that are false. It’s called lying.


It’s not just that the dishonesty is present. It’s about its tentacles spreading malevolently and the speed of its corrosive march.

Trump’s blatant dishonesty was on full display when he called for the execution of the Central Park Five after they had been fully exonerated by DNA evidence. He moved on to the birther lie, then “Lock her up!” Then he proceeded to tell over 30,500 lies while in office, nearly one per hour for four years.

But the biggest pile of dishonesty is that of the senators, congressmen/women, pundits, talk show blatherers, TV fake news outlets*, governors, sycophants and cowards. They both have and are supporting Trump’s  Big Lie of a fraudulent election.

I have labeled other Trump lies as the Big Lie but I was premature in awarding the label. There is no bigger lie than to lie in order to overthrow our democracy and replace it with fascism. Trump proclaiming his fraudulent election Big Lie is a traitorous affront to our nation, but 140 Republican congressmen/women and 8 Republican senators have not only promoted his lie, but they have voted in favor of it, endorsing the Big Lie.

Look at that list of Big Lie promoters two paragraphs up. Every one of the people represented by those titles is getting something for themselves by promoting the Big Lie. Politicians are getting donations and votes. Pundits and talk show blatherers are getting ratings and advertising dollars. Sycophants are getting jobs and promotions. It is a whirlwind of self-serving, sell out greed as they shred the pages of the Constitution with their dirty shoes and spit on the flag.

This is going to get uglier, as we incrementally learn why warnings issued days before the January 6 insurrection were ignored and why the National Guard was prevented from being properly armed and called in to quell the rebellion – indeed, why they weren’t in place before the traitors arrived at the Capitol Building.

We’re going to learn about various conspiracies to promote the insurrection and its violence, their intent to murder members of Congress. It won’t be surprising if it’s found that government officials themselves were involved in facilitating the whole thing. Think: reconnaissance tours of the Capitol Building given to traitors led by elected officials the day before the attack.

There is nothing conservative in promoting, supporting and excusing sedition. These people are not conservatives.

Now we find this headline:

Republican Attorneys General Dark Money Group Organized Protest Preceding Capitol Mob Attack

Even as the majority of the nation was horrified the night of November 8, 2016, we didn’t hear Democrats claiming Trump didn’t win. We don’t have Democrats spouting QAnon conspiracy lies, like Jewish lasers in space starting California wild fires or that Hillary has a child sex trafficking ring (or was it child killing in order to drink their blood?) operating out of the basement of a pizza shop in DC.

All of these liars and traitors are Republicans.

There are no equivalencies. Any “they all do it” rationalizations, “they’re all liars” justifications or ways to blame George Soros are all just the refuge of liars and the willfully self-deluded.

Did you see the messages of the traitors on January 6? They were carrying Bibles and crosses and chanting “USA! USA!” and waving American flags, even as they nearly killed a Capitol cop with their flag poles. It was exactly as predicted by Henry Wallace, FDR’s second vice-president. Please download and read his clear explanation. He knew a lot about fascism, as we were in the last year of the war to defeat fascism when he wrote his essay.

It is exactly in line with a quote often attributed to Sinclair Lewis:

“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”

We have galloping, stampeding, cowardly dishonesty, now supporting the Big Lie to end our democracy. That’s why we need our senators to put on their big boy and big girl pants and convict Trump for his sedition.**

Trump was defeated, but those fighting his battle to end our democracy are full of self-righteous anger and hate and they aren’t going away.

Wake up, America.

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And yet more dishonesty

Rudy Giuliani has come down a long way since he was marketed as “America’s Mayor” and has debased himself repeatedly by promoting every Trump lie, fraud and fantasy, including the Big Lie. To make the point starkly, he is a lawyer who has promoted sedition in pursuit of his client’s megalomania.

Giuliani has made defamatory statements about The Lincoln Project, so he has now received Nasty Letter Number One from their lawyer. You want to read this, not just because of the Giuliani smack down, but because it describes at least metaphorically, the last four years.

We’ve been wondering what Putin has on Trump such that Trump lapdogs at every opportunity. The same question can be shifted to wondering what Trump has on Giuliani to make him do and say the most idiotic things.

Many thanks to JHA for the link.

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Quote of the Week

“Sometimes I think that the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.”

Calvin and Hobbes

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*On February 1 as our Covid-19 Response team gave its thorough update to the nation, both CNN and MSNBC televised it from start to finish. Fox News instead reported on snow in New York, including one scene of a fellow picking up snow and throwing it into the air. Gotta wonder if Fox News refused to present the Covid update live in order to avoid angering its base of pandemic deniers.

**Q: Why are Republican Senators calling on us to look forward, not backward, exhorting the nation to put Trump’s sedition behind us and not hold him accountable?

A. They don’t want to stand up and be counted doing the right thing because they will lose the votes of the radicals, which might cause them to lose their next primary. That’s more important to them than our democracy.

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Ed. note: We need to spread the word so that we make a critical difference, so,

  1. Did someone forward this to you? Welcome! Please subscribe and pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) Use the simple form above on the right.
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all to be better informed.

Thanks!

The Fine Print:

  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
  2. Said John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” So, educate me and all of us. That’s what the Comments section is for.
  3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
  4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.

JA


Copyright 2021 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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