mob

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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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.

How It Works


In the first Star Wars movie there is a scene with Darth Vader and the officers of the Imperial star ship. The commander says,

 

“The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the old republic have been swept away  .  .  .  Fear will keep the local systems in line.”

That’s pretty much how Hitler did it. He didn’t actually make the Reichstag go away. He just neutered it into becoming a lap dog by means of The Enabling Act of 1933, which the council members passed due to fear for their lives.

It’s pretty much the same in Putin’s Russia, Erdoğan’s Turkey, Xi’s China and Duterte’s Phillippines. Eliminating legislative oversight is what authoritarians do to hoard all power for themselves. Most often it’s done with thug tactics. Just ask Putin opponent Alexei Navalny about his experience with Putin’s nerve poison. The message is always to do what the leader wants or be killed.

Shift to January 6, 2021, Washington, DC. It was a violent mob dispatched by Trump, a riot of Jesus-bannered, cross carrying thugs, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other militia hoodlums. They were there to overthrow the government – to eliminate Congress – so that Trump could take over the country.

Does that sound so extreme as to be preposterous? If so, you need to pay closer attention, because that’s exactly what those thugs said they were there to do, all at Trump’s bidding. They were there to murder any House or Senate members they found. They brought a noose to lynch Mike Pence. Those aren’t things people do in order to preserve their government.

Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick

And killing Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick isn’t what people do to protect and defend the Constitution.

Sicknick died defending 535 members of Congress and the symbol of America that is the Capitol Building. He was killed by Bible-thumping American terrorists, who most certainly weren’t promoting law and order or doing what Jesus would do.

Honoring Officer Brian Sicknick

Both before and since the insurrection, members of Congress have received death threats* to themselves and to their family members. As that is happening, Trump and 140 Representatives, 45 Senators, right-wing blatherers and all of those extreme hate groups are continuing to promote the Big Lie to overthrow the will of the people; i.e. to put a stake through the heart of democracy.

For any remaining skeptics: If not to overthrow the will of the people and democracy, what do you think that election fraud Big Lie is about? Surely, you don’t think those rioters are play acting when they attempt kill those in Congress. Surely, you don’t think they believe in democracy when they attempt to trash the votes of millions of Americans.

Click me

This is how democracies die. A cult leader exhorts fanatics, the thugs terrorize all opposition and incrementally people surrender to death threats and violence. And that’s advanced when 199 of our legislators give a standing ovation to the Qanon conspiracy nut case spewing fascist hatred. Yes, fascism can happen here in America.

I’ve exhorted readers to see what Vice President Wallace had to say about fascism in America. If you believe in democracy and have not yet read his essay, please read it now.

These violent, angry thugs won’t simply melt away if Trump disappears or if this current insurrection fails – and no, it isn’t over yet. You can expect acts of terrorism, including mass shootings and bombings and perhaps political assassinations over the coming years, as highly armed, angry, hateful, bigoted, self-righteous thugs continue their war against America.

Note that violence is only being conducted by right wing fanatics. Any attempt at “whataboutism,” any attack on the center or left to somehow justify this terrorism isn’t only a false equivalency; it’s a religiously bigoted threat to the life and safety of every American and it is an assault on our democracy.

There have been ongoing efforts to bridge our massive national divide. The truth is that I haven’t a clue how to make piece with the guys wearing Auschwitz t-shirts or the Naples, FL supermarket owner who claims 400,000 deaths are a lie and that the pandemic is “total hogwash.”** Perhaps worse, I don’t feel compelled to make peace with them.

Their baseless certainties represent the kind of reality denial that drives American terrorists to violence. Besides, the supermarket guy is allowing his mask-free store to be a super spreader center for Covid-19 infection. That’s another act of American violence.

I’m all for our learning to talk with one another constructively, to make peace, perhaps to have a truth and reconciliation commission. But that can only happen after violence is no longer a threat and democracy is secure. Reference: South Africa.

Now it’s time for all of us to stand and be counted in support of the FBI and whatever resources they need to stop the barbarians, including identifying the January 6 criminals. It’s imperative that we eliminate the clear and present danger that these home grown killers and desecrators are.

The terrorists have already breached the gates of democracy and are buoyed by their treasonous actions because they see January 6 as a victory for themselves. If we are to continue our bold experiment in self-rule, we better get some victories notched against the barbarians damned fast.

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Finally,

From Morgan Freeman as Judge Leonard White in the closing scene of the 1990 film, The Bonfire of the Vanities:

 

“I’ll tell you what justice is. Justice is the law. And the law is man’s feeble attempt to set down the principles of decency. Decency!

“And decency is not a deal. It isn’t an angle or a contract or a hustle. Decency – decency is what your grandmother taught you. It’s in your bones.

“Now, you go home. Go home and be decent people. Be decent.”

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* For spewers of death threats, we all know that your anonymous threatening brands you a coward. It’s the act of people with such low self-esteem and sense of impotence that it’s the only thing they can find to help them feel powerful. With that in mind, I offer you a wish:

I wish you a pony in your back yard and a new bike to replace the one you ruined. I wish you unicorns crossing your path and pink, heart-shaped candies on Valentine’s Day.

Then, when you’re feeling all sweet from the candy, my real wish is for you to call or write those you threatened. Apologize to them and beg for forgiveness as an act of contrition. It will be your first step back into the embrace of democracy.

** That isn’t a hypothetical example; it’s what the guy said.

In fact, many people are claiming that Covid-19 is a hoax, even as they see death all around and see our over-maxed hospitals with exhausted, weeping staff and even as these deniers themselves gasp their last breath. I don’t understand that and have asked for an explanation, but none has been offered, so I’m asking again. If you can explain that, please do so in the Comments section below to help us all to understand.

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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.

The Ledge


She tried to talk me off the ledge, but I only moved back a bit.

It was late in the afternoon and I was suiting up for walking the dog on a cold January day, muttering under my breath and slamming drawers that had done me no wrong.

“What’s the matter?” she asked in her gentle way.

“I’m mad as hell and not fit to be with. Please respect yourself by staying away from me. I’m so damned mad I’m trying to stay away from myself.”

She insisted on walking with me, so instead of grunting to myself as I walked the dog, I spoke mostly complete sentences.

I’m so goddamn mad that 4,000 of my countrymen are dying every day. President Doesn’t Give a Shit told us of his level of care directly, saying, “I’m not responsible for anything.” That comment was aimed specifically at anything having to do with our mass death pandemic, so of course I don’t expect any action from him to protect and defend the American people – you know, the ones dying at the rate of 4,000 per day?

But there’s a commission specifically tasked with distributing vaccines and getting them into the arms of Americans and now weeks after vaccines were available we’ve managed to vaccinate just 9 million people, while tens of millions more vaccine doses are sitting uselessly in freezers.

And 4,000 of us are dying every day. That’s one every 22 seconds. Go ahead – look at your watch or iPhone timer and count off the deaths. One every 22 seconds.

And every single one of those deaths is somebody’s mom or dad or grandma or grandpa or brother or sister or son or daughter or friend or co-worker or neighbor or the guy at the convenience store. Those who have died lost their lives. The survivors have lost their hearts.

And that goddamn incompetent distribution commission continues to bumble.

That’s why I’m furious.

Now President Burn It All Down has incited insurrection – sedition. He’s attempted to neuter the Congress, to violate every voter and take over the country in order to become a fascist dictator. His mobs have the same certainty that they are on the side of justice and what’s right, that they’re the true patriots and that God is on their side as does al Qaeda and ISIS and the World War II Nazis and the Hutu’s and Slobodan Milosevic’s army of ethnic cleansing thugs and all the rest of the genocidal maniacs.

This time the terrorists, the killers and the rampagers are our countrymen.

Our domestic terrorists believe they’re the true good guys because President Burn It All Down has told them so. He’s told them he loves them. Here’s what I’ll tell you.

We’ve always had our significant minority of citizens who hate, who dearly love to hate. I want to be bigger than this, but the truth is that right now I hate them. I fantasize about violently dragging those slimes off the walls of our Capitol Building and of beating the hell out of the vandals who beat the hell out our beautiful windows and doors of that building. I want to smash those who are trying to smash our Constitution.

My dad and 16.5 million of his generation served in the military in World War II. 405,399 of them died in Europe to end Nazism. On behalf of my dad and his compatriots in that awful war, our Greatest Generation says loud and clear that you goddamn neo-Nazis are an American disgrace. You are everything we know to be wrong.

That’s why I’m so damned angry.

In some ways what is even worse is the cabal of hypocritical, cowardly, manipulating cretins in Congress who have enabled and even encouraged the hate and violence, not out of some warped sense of patriotism, but for individual, stupidly selfish personal gain. We’ve known of their treachery for years and they have gotten away with it.

That’s why I’m livid.

The thing is, there are a lot of truly patriotic Americans on that ledge with me. That doesn’t ease my anger, but they and I know right from wrong and will not stand for anything less than full punishment for those who did these awful things. I expect that a lot of us will continue to be on that ledge until the balance of justice is restored.

Meanwhile, the domestic terrorists have promised more violence and hate in DC and in our state capitols this weekend and on Inauguration Day. So,

Memo to DHS, the National Guard and all the agencies that somehow managed to come out and beat the hell out of Black Lives Matter protesters last summer:

Show up and do your job this time. I don’t give a damn what President Doesn’t Give a Shit or Burn It All Down says to you. Do your goddam job.

On January 6 they failed us. They failed to do their job. Now the Capitol Building is desecrated and four more people are dead.

That’s why I’m on the ledge.


Late Additions

Three congressmen/women have tested positive for COVID-19 following their sheltering in place with Republican congressmen/women who arrogantly, selfishly, stupidly refused to wear masks. They should be chained to the wall of the darkest, moldiest part of the basement of the Capitol Building and left there until they fervently apologize for their cruelty to others and swear to comply with the simple public health directions of the CDC for the duration. It will be okay to feed them gruel once per week until they repent.

Watch/listen to what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has to say about the attempted overthrow of our government.

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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.

Insurrection


Reading time – 2:49; Viewing time – 3:49  .  .  .

Updated 1/9/21 – see Last Question above the end photo.

Hatred and distrust of government didn’t start with Ronald Reagan saying, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” There was plenty of ill feeling about government long before then, but he did a great job of fanning the flames to ensure there were a lot of pissed off people who would vote for the Republicans who fed their biases.

That pattern has continued all the way to today, but there are stark differences. Now there is no facet of reality that is safe from attack and denial if it feeds a politician’s self-interest. Now there is no lie too obscene to tell if it feeds a politician’s self-interest. Now there are politicians lying their asses off in supplication to the Insurrectionist-In-Chief. They do that because that’s how they think they’ll keep their jobs, retain a sense of power and inflate their egos.

And their refusal to stand up to what they know with certainty is wrong encourages more and worse destruction of our democracy and our national safety.

Hate-filled, angry mobs stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. The felons trespassed, rioted, vandalized, threatened, disrupted democracy, planted at least one bomb in the Capitol Building and four people died in their insurrection. I just have a few questions about all that.

  1. Trump invited angry mobs to show up that day, including the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis. Their arrival was no surprise to anyone. The authorities had days – perhaps weeks- to prepare. Why were they totally unprepared and grossly short of manpower to deal with the lawbreakers? Note that this happened on federal property, so it wasn’t a DC Police issue. Somebody in the federal government failed us all.
  2. Why wasn’t the DC National Guard stationed around the Capitol Building by 6:00AM? Everyone knew an angry mob was going to show up.
  3. Where were the Homeland Security thugs who terrorized Portland, Milwaukee and other cities last summer? The excuse given for sending them to those cities was to protect federal property. By that logic, there was no better place for them to be on January 6 than at the Capitol Building, but they were nowhere to be seen.
  4. Why were there so few arrests made? Most were for curfew violations, not insurrection. Why aren’t the DC jails jammed full of perps?
  5. What do you think would have happened if that same number of protesters showed up, but instead of being right wingnuts they were Black Lives Matter protesters, like the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square Park last summer that Trump brutalized and excoriated?
  6. Where are the cops in riot gear with the scary black SWAT vehicles to intimidate the bad guys?

There is a lot to learn and there are new procedures to establish, but the most urgent, critical action is:

Impeach Donald Trump immediately so that
he can never again hold federal office.

Oh, wait: that would require Senate Republicans to find a spine.

Never mind.

In a different moment of far right hate and bile spewing, John Lewis implored, “We’re better than this.”

In his address yesterday Joe Biden said, “This is not who we are.” I have news for both of them.

We are not better than this. But we could be.

And this is exactly who we are. But we don’t have to be this way.

Last question (for now)

Just suppose that Russia participated in this insurrection and had agents in the crowd. Given their years of cyber invasion, that seems likely. On a lower level of the Capitol Building are vaults containing some of America’s most critical and vital secrets. So,

Did the Russian bad guys access our national security information? And if so, what would you like to say to the flag waving insurrectionists who assaulted democracy, made way for the foreign spies, yet who stunningly believe themselves to be true patriots?

“When fascism comes to America it will be wearing a flag and carrying a cross.” – Henry Wallace, FDR’s second Vice President

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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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