propaganda

Winning, Part One: The Numbers, Rage and Yoda


This is just simple math.
.

                                STATE                           POPULATION (millions)

Wyoming                                    0.58

Vermont                                      0.62

Alaska                                         0.73

North Dakota                              0.76

South Dakota                              0.88

Delaware                                     0.97

Rhode Island                               1.1

Montana                                       1.1

                TOTAL                         6.73

Those eight states have 16 senators representing them.

Indiana has as many people as all those states combined, but has only 2 senators to represent them. It’s about the same for Massachusetts, Tennessee, Missouri and Maryland.

New York has over 3 times as many citizens as the total of those eight states, but has only 2 senators to represent them.

California has 6.5 times as many citizens as the total above, yet Californians have only 2 senators.

All power to the low population states! Minority rule today! Minority rule tomorrow! Minority rule forever!*
.

And it’s nuttier than that.

There are roughly 40 million more people in blue states than red states, yet senatorial representation is roughly equal, which means that 40 million blue state people are under-represented and discounted in the Senate. To be fair, that is due not just to our two-senators-per-state rule, but also because of voter suppression and gerrymandering that favors and keeps red states red. No way to paint a happy picture about that. It’s just what Republicans do.

In case you wonder why this mangled representation exists, read the explanation from Senate.gov.

What that explanation won’t tell you is that the Framers didn’t trust our mostly illiterate population to select well, so they created both the Electoral College and this presumably deliberative body, the Senate. Both were supposed to be safer when chosen by land-owning, literate white men.

Kyrsten Sinema

That assumption of the Framers has brought us presidents elected by a minority of voters (2 of the last 6 elections, plus some others and Republicans have lost the popular vote in every presidential election but one since 1988). It has also brought us a non-representative Senate. The primary present-day duty of the Republicans in the Senate is to obstruct progress for our country and to manipulate for their individual power – minority rule – which means they’re all about protecting and promoting the interests of big money donors. (See: Kyrsten Sinema receiving huge money from Big Pharma, then refusing prescription drug pricing reform. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.)

Red-Blue politics ebbs and flows (at least it used to), but common sense says that head count representation ought to be proportional in the Senate. It isn’t. That has substantive impact on the lunacy of our current politics and it’s related to our vaccine refusers in a very loud way.

The refusers are exhorted every day to refuse vaccines by breathtakingly false and destructive information coming from state and national leadership. They’re told to refuse the very thing that can save their lives and the lives of those they love. They surrender their facility for critical thinking and embrace only what stokes their rage.

They scream about the infringement of their freedoms. They proclaim entirely untrue propaganda, like that the vaccine will make them sterile, or that there are nanobots in the vaccine and Bill Gates will be able to track and control them, or that vaccines have killed more people than the disease or any of a hundred false claims from sick imaginations. And Americans continue to die at the rate of 1,400 per day.

The constant is the presence of  rage. It’s stoked every night by Tucker Carlson and during the day by Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and the know-nothing TV and radio blabbers who rake in money from advertisers because our rage-ists tune in. And the refusers vote for red state politicians who tell them what they want to hear and who then go to Congress and state legislatures to fulfill the role of rage in minority rule. That’s the Senate-rage connection and the Republicans work it to perfection to win elections.

I think there’s something else going on and it fits hand-in-glove with rage. It’s fear. Fear of being controlled. Fear of being wrong. Fear of smart people. Fear of science. Fear of change. Fear of government. Fear of globalization. Fear of “others.” Fear of the future. Fear of needles. Fear of their own ignorance. Fear of complexity. Fear of everything they don’t understand. Fear of a world they can’t make sense of.

Keith Olbermann says it more flamboyantly than I do and I’m not crazy about the name calling parts of his post, but fundamentally, I think he has it right: our refusers are afraid. They won’t acknowledge that, because doing so wouldn’t be manly. It would pop their rage-puffery and they wouldn’t get to feel as powerful. Their refusal, though, doesn’t erase their fear or the tribalism it spawns. And their fear, stoked every day by Republicans, is causing more of us to die from the pandemic and is igniting violence around the country.

Perhaps you thought the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the Rs was the entire problem, but I tell you with certainty that it is not. Its matching bookend is wimpy Democrats enabling their anti-democracy, letting Republicans get away with that.

In 2002 Republican Senate candidate Saxby Chamliss cruelly attacked Viet Nam vet and triple-amputee Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), who was slow and not aggressive in response. He lost his reelection bid.

In the 2004 presidential race John Kerry was attacked and called a coward by a Republican group that came to be known as the Swift Boaters. He kept silent about them, not wanting to give them credibility by responding to their their lies. When he at last did speak up it was too late and he lost the election.

Both of those Democrats were defensive and failed to attack. They failed to aggressively call out the lies. That’s how to lose an election, as both of them did. And I’m disgusted by Democrats who won’t do what’s necessary to win an election now.

Required homework assignment

Read Sheila Markin’s exceptionally clear, shocking and sadly accurate post. This will count for 50% of your Civics grade. The final will be on November 8, 2022.

Wisdom Wake-Up Call

From my Yoda-like friend, Ozzie (all italics mine):

“Reality always (and probably all ways) wins. Our only job is to get in touch with it.”

Enough with the illusions and wishful thinking.

“Or as the Little Prince shared: It is with the heart that one sees rightly. For what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Enduringly true. And there is plenty that is essential and easy to see with the eyes. Keep them open and see what is plainly before us.

“Or: If you want to live your dream: #)#_!%^ WAKE UP!!! (Screamed as loud as humanly possible).”

If your dream includes a healthy democracy that serves the people, sleep walking through life just won’t do. #)#_!%^ WAKE UP!!!

See Winning, Part Two on Sunday, November 14 to learn what to do about it.

—————————

* Paraphrased from Gov. George Wallace’s (R-AL) inauguration speech, January 14, 1963. Even with the word swapping, my meaning is pretty much the same as his, except that I mean it as sarcasm. Wallace meant it as enduring hatred.

————————————
The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

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

And 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.
  4. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town vibrant.

JA


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

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.

————————

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.

————————

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!

————————————

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.

—————————————-

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.

 Scroll to top