Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Antifa Jesus, Socialist Pope?

 



I may be a lapsed Catholic, but my morals and values have stood firm over the decades, without guidance from religious leaders. However I’m still interested in what the Pope has to say about important issues that we all face.


Pope Francis appears to be our most socialist and environmentalist pope yet.


Here are a few of his statements from the past several years.


While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules...We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf ... has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose."


 Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.


 Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.


In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.


 One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies


 In October 2014 the Pope said, “An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it...The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands...The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”


 In 2015 the Koch-funded Heartland Institute sent a team of “climate scientists” to Rome to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science: “here is no global warming crisis!”


 On May 16, 2015 Pope Francis told a group of diplomats gathered at the Vatican, “We have created new idols...the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”


 In February of this year, Pope Francis said, “Structures of sin today include repeated tax cuts for the richest people, often justified in the name of investment and development; tax havens for private and corporate profits, and the possibility of corruption by some of the largest companies in the world, often in tune with some dominant political sector.”

 

It would seem the Catholic men on the Supreme Court, and the woman recently appointed, along with all the Catholic Trump voters haven’t heard of this Pope. They certainly don’t respect his thinking, his understanding of the world, and his compassionate viewpoints.


Why do Christian conservatives vote for Republicans? It would seem their opposition to women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality is their only justification. 


Jesus never preached about abortion. He never condemned people for their sexual orientation. Tax-exempt conservative church leaders do.


I recall Jesus calling out religious leaders of the time as sanctimonious hypocrites.

 

I also recall Jesus going all "antifa" with some money changers at a temple. That didn’t go over well. The "law and order" religious conservatives of the time wanted him executed. They considered Jesus an “enemy of the people”.  


Were they any different from today’s religious conservatives?


Let’s ask them.


Are there any Christian conservatives willing to answer a few simple questions?


How does giving tax cuts to the rich reflect what Jesus wants?


How does cutting food stamps for the poor reflect what Jesus wants?


How does cutting Social Security and Medicare for the elderly reflect what Jesus wants?


How is taking healthcare from the sick and poor what Jesus wants?


What did Jesus say about taxes and the rich?


How does allowing corporate polluters have their way reflect what Jesus wants?


How does turning a blind eye to racism and police brutality reflect what Jesus wants?


How does Trump follow the teachings of Jesus?


Why does Jesus want us to vote for a servant of mammon?


Conservative Christians have yet to explain to me how voting for Republicans reflects any of the values so clearly laid out for them to embrace:


Matthew 25:40-45

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.


I'll be darned if I can find any Republican/conservative agenda there. Apparently none of these values can make America great, or something...


Maybe Christian conservatives can be honest for a change, and just say they don't want to discuss the answers to these questions.



Perhaps these questions make them FEEL confused, frustrated and angry. 


That confusion, frustration and anger, especially towards more progressive folks, like the Socialist Pope, and Antifa Jesus, might just be the only “answer” that matters to them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An Open Letter to Judge Amy Coney Barrett From Your Notre Dame Colleagues

October 10, 2020

Dear Judge Barrett,

 

We write to you as fellow faculty members at the University of Notre Dame.

 

We congratulate you on your nomination to the United States Supreme Court. An appointment to the Court is the crowning achievement of a legal career and speaks to the commitments you have made throughout your life. And while we are not pundits, from what we read your confirmation is all but assured.

 

That is why it is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election.

We ask that you take this unprecedented step for three reasons.

 

First, voting for the next president is already underway. According to the United States Election Project more than seven million people have already cast their ballots, and millions more are likely to vote before election day. The rushed nature of your nomination process, which you certainly recognize as an exercise in raw power politics, may effectively deprive the American people of a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court justice. You are not, of course, responsible for the anti-democratic machinations driving your nomination. Nor are you complicit in the Republican hypocrisy of fast-tracking your nomination weeks before a presidential election when many of the same senators refused to grant Merrick Garland so much as a hearing a full year before the last election. However, you can refuse to be party to such maneuvers. We ask that you honor the democratic process and insist the hearings be put on hold until after the voters have made their choice. Following the election, your nomination would proceed, or not, in accordance with the wishes of the winning candidate. 

 

Next, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat on the court remain open until a new president was installed. At your nomination ceremony at the White House, you praised Justice Ginsburg as “a woman of enormous talent and consequence, whose life of public service serves as an example to us all.” Your nomination just days after Ginsburg’s death was unseemly and a repudiation of her legacy. Given your admiration for Justice Ginsburg, we ask that you repair the injury to her memory by calling for a pause in the nomination until the next president is seated.

 

Finally, your nomination comes at a treacherous moment in the United States. Our politics are consumed by polarization, mistrust, and fevered conspiracy theories. Our country is shaken by pandemic and economic suffering. There is violence in the streets of American cities. The politics of your nomination, as you surely understand, will further inflame our civic wounds,

undermine confidence in the court, and deepen the divide among ordinary citizens, especially if you are seated by a Republican Senate weeks before the election of a Democratic president and congress. You have the opportunity to offer an alternative to all that by demanding that your nomination be suspended until after the election. We implore you to take that step.

 

We’re asking a lot, we know. Should Vice-President Biden be elected, your seat on the court will almost certainly be lost. That would be painful, surely. Yet there is much to be gained in risking your seat. You would earn the respect of fair-minded people everywhere. You would provide a model of civic selflessness. And you might well inspire Americans of different beliefs toward a renewed commitment to the common good.

 

We wish you well and trust you will make the right decision for our nation.

 

Yours in Notre Dame,

John Duffy, English  

Catherine E. Bolten, Anthropology and Peace Studies

Karen Graubart, History and Gender Studies

Margaret Dobrowolska, Physics

Aedín Clements, Hesburgh Libraries

Cheri Smith, Hesburgh Libraries

Antonio Delgado, Physics

Atalia Omer, Peace Studies

Eileen Hunt Botting, Political Science

Jason A. Springs, Peace Studies

David Hachen, Sociology

Manoel Couder, Physics

Jacek Furdyna, Physics

Carmen Helena Tellez, Music

Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Biological Sciences, Philosophy

John T. Fitzgerald, Theology

Debra Javeline, Political Science 

Philippe Collon, Physics

Cara Ocobock, Anthropology

Amy Mulligan, Irish, Medieval Studies and Gender Studies

Stephen M. Fallon, Program of Liberal Studies and Dept of English

Jessica Shumake, University Writing Program and Gender Studies

Mandy L. Havert, Hesburgh Libraries

Dana Villa, Political Science

Stephen M. Hayes, Emeritus, Hesburgh Libraries

Catherine Perry, Emerita, Romance Languages & Literatures

Olivier Morel, Film, Television, and Theatre.

Darlene Catello, Music

Encarnación Juárez-Almendros, Emerita, Romance Languages & Literatures

James Sterba, Philosophy

Laura Bayard, Emerita, Hesburgh Libraries

Susan Sheridan, Anthropology

Mary E. Frandsen, Music

Mark Golitko, Anthropology

Christopher Ball, Anthropology

Gail Bederman, History

G. Margaret Porter, Emerita, Hesburgh Libraries

Cecilia Lucero, Center for University Advising

Peri E. Arnold, Emeritus, Political Science

Amitava Krishna Dutt, Political Science

Julia Marvin, Program of Liberal Studies

Julia Adeney Thomas, History

Michael C. Brownstein, East Asian Languages & Cultures

Christopher Liebtag Miller, Medieval Institute

Maxwell Johnson, Theology

John Sitter, Emeritus, English

Robert Norton, German

Hye-jin Juhn, Hesburgh Libraries

Denise M. Della Rossa, German

Sotirios A. Barber, Political Science

Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Film, TV and Theatre

Jeff Diller, Mathematics

Ann Mische, Sociology and Peace Studies

Zygmunt Baranski, Romance Languages & Literatures

Robert R. Coleman, Emeritus, Art History

William Collins Donahue, German, FTT, & Keough

Sarah McKibben, Irish Language and Literature

George A. Lopez, emeritus, Kroc Institute

Mark Roche, German

Nelson Mark, Economics

Vittorio Hosle, German, Philosophy and Political Science

Tobias Boes, German 

A. Nilesh Fernando, Economics

Fred Dallmayr, Emeritus, Philosophy and Political Science

Greg Kucich, English

Kate Marshall, English

Mark A. Sanders, English

Christopher Hamlin, History

Meredith S. Chesson, Anthropology

Ricardo Ramirez, Political Science

Stephen Fredman, Emeritus, English

Dan Graff, History and the Higgins Labor Program

Henry Weinfield, Program of Liberal Studies (Emeritus)

Mary R. D’Angelo, Theology (Emerita)

Asher Kaufman, Kroc Institute, History

Stephen J. Miller, Music

Janet A. Kourany, Philosophy and Gender Studies

Michelle Karnes, English

Jill Godmilow, Emerita, Film, Television & Theatre

Mary Beckman, Emerita, Center for Social Concerns

Clark Power, Program of Liberal Studies

Richard Williams, Sociology

Benedict Giamo, Emeritus, American Studies

Ernesto Verdeja, Political Science and Peace Studies 

Catherine Schlegel, Classics

Margaret A. Doody, English, Professor Emerita 

Marie Collins Donahue, Eck Institute of Global Health

 David C. Leege, Emeritus, Political Science

 


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Thanks, Losers And Suckers!


Socialized health care works great for "The Only One". He’s feeling good about that, and tweeting his triumph of the will to the world.

 "I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. (No hydroxychloroquine prescribed.)Feeling really good! (Steroid effect.)Don’t be afraid of Covid.(With drugs nobody else gets.) Don’t let it dominate your life. (Tell “No Mask” Herman Cain.) We have developed, ("We"?) under the Trump Administration, (Oh, really?) some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!" (Steroid effect again.)

Dexamethasone has been used since 1957. Remdesivir was developed in 2009 to fight Ebola. The Regeneron antibody cocktail technology was developed in 2014 to fight Ebola.

 Who was President from 2009-2014?

 But don’t panic. Relax and live with it.

“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”

 Not our population. It won’t  be long when a quarter of a million Americans didn’t “learn to live with it”. They will have died from it. In the US, Covid is now among the top three causes of death, along with heart disease and cancer.

Twitter removed the tweet, stating, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”

The Republican's health care plan is clear. Nothing but the best for the rich, and for Dear Leader.

“Let 'em die”, for the rest of us.

And Trump’s new mistress Covid is still in his bedroom.

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Worm Turns

 

Trump has Covid? 

But...But... How could that possibly have happened? 

He knew better than Dr. Fauci and those dumb scientists.

How long before Hannity and Giuliani blame Democrats and Antifa for Trump contracting Covid?

A show of hands, please. How many of you Republicans approve of Trump's handling of the Covid crisis?

Seriously, I don't want Trump to die. I want him to lose the election and face justice.

This time he and I have the same enemy. We all do. Will he and his cult figure this out?

Or will they continue to drag us all down with them? 



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Enemies Of Democracy And Equality

 

The first consideration of this essay is to establish definitions of some of its most relevant terms.  Of course this should apply to all debate and discussion.

Conservatism: commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation... the holding of political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas... Oxford Languages

A disposition in politics to preserve what is established...a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change, specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs ... the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change – Mirriam-Webster

Democracy: 1a: government by the people, especially rule of the majority

b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections - Mirriam-Webster

Equality: the quality or state of being equal (like in quality, nature, or status...like for each member of a group, class, or society) - Mirriam-Webster

Liberalism: Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law. - Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics

A political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties, specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (such as those involving race, gender, or class) - Mirriam-Webster

Progressivism: of, relating to, or characterized by progress...one believing in moderate political change and especially social improvement by governmental action - Mirriam-Webster

Racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized. - Oxford Languages

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Something is going very wrong in the United States of America. Almost everyone will agree this is the case.

There are basically two versions of what ails our country. As always, the proponents of each version are blaming the other.

An easy, albeit incorrect, assumption would be the notion that both sides share the blame.

Not this time. 

This isn’t another bi-partisan blunder and tragedy like the failed and cruel war on drugs, or de-regulation of Wall Street, or invasion of Iraq.

This affliction is rooted in a long tradition.

Since the American Revolution the republic’s experiment in representative government has been suffering from a toxic flaw that is inherently adversarial to democracy and equality.

This flaw has been characterized by immorality, greed, racism and authoritarianism. In fact it is as authoritarian as the Monarchy that drove the colonists to rebellion. The new nation was founded by wealthy white men, who rightfully resented being ruled and taxed without representation.

They held progressive ideals of the Enlightenment, including consent of the governed, inalienable rights, and all men being created equal.

But there was a contradiction of those ideals that would become the most serious defect in the Great Experiment in representative democracy. Many of those wealthy white founders owned slaves. They believed in the culturally accepted superiority of white Europeans, or white colonists, over Black African Americans.  

Brutality inflicted upon slaves and native tribes became the human price for the preservation of the wealth and power of white elites.

That power was always dependent upon the support of poor white people, including the degradations of child labor and sweatshops. The elites needed to assure poor whites of their superiority over Blacks and Native Americans. They needed to convince them equality itself was a threat to them.

Racism was an essential component of early American economic power, and its expansion through its concept of Manifest Destiny.

Native Americans were removed from their homes, killed or forced onto reservations. Even after Emancipation and the Civil War, African Americans suffered terrible cruelties and injustice under Southern white supremacy and social conservatism. The Klan and post-reconstruction Jim Crow laws and poll taxes extended inequality into the 20th Century.

Institutionalized racism was built into the foundation of the republic and American conservatism. This unique American conservatism has left a long trail of oppression, strife and war.

Let’s take a moment to clarify. I’m not saying conservative values are racist. Personal values like faith, marriage, family, honesty, responsibility and patriotism are decent and worthy conservative values. It’s good that conservatives embrace these values. If that’s what they feel are conservative values, good for them. No harm done. Of course, these values are not exclusively conservative.

Liberals and progressives also share these values, despite the contrary claims of political propaganda from conservatives on the far Right. The same propagandists have been smearing and unilaterally re-defining liberalism and progressivism as “socialism”, “Marxism”, “Communism” and even “Fascism”.

Indeed, liberalism is framed as an evil threat to all that is good, while conservatism is portrayed as virtue itself.

It isn’t.

In recent decades America’s political conservatism has morphed into a blend of far Right white nationalism and cold-blooded corporatism. Xenophobia, intolerance, greed, and bigotry are its uglier elements. Democracy and equality are not its values. These remain liberal/progressive values.

Public healthcare, public education, Social Security, Medicare, environmental protections, higher taxes for the rich, corporate and banking regulations, and other progressive values are far more popular with the people than are reflected in government policies.

Conservative political methodology is to seize and hold power by any means, and to basically stomp on the downtrodden and coddle the rich.

Obstruction of Obama’s judicial appointments was elevated to extremes by Republicans.

Now Trump is filling the obstructed court vacancies held by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with unpopular theocratic corporatists.

The Supreme Court was hijacked by McConnell through his disregard and disrespect for the Senate’s Constitutional role in voting on Obama’s selection of Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court vacancy. “It should be up to the voters”, he claimed.

That was then. Now he’s rushing Trump’s latest candidate just a few weeks before the election.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 57% of Americans want the winner of the presidential election to nominate Ginsburg’s successor.

“Consent of the governed.”  How quaint. How antiquated. Conservatism overrules the will of the people by holding a disproportionate amount of power in government. There is no equality of representation. The Senate Republican majority represents a significantly smaller, and whiter, portion of the population than the Democratic minority.

The president did not get more votes than his opponent. Consent of the governed was again demolished by Electoral College.

Along with the Electoral College, a disproportionately conservative Senate, and by extension, the courts would become vestiges of conservative Southern slave states.

This is not a democratic republic that reflects the will of the people. It’s as if “consent of the governed” didn’t appear at all in the Declaration of Independence.

Ideals of the Enlightenment were compromised to entice the Southern colonies to join the United States. They weren’t as dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Equality and consent of the governed wouldn’t apply to African Americans. They were one third of the population in the South.

The Civil War didn’t eliminate racism or its horrible effects on African Americans.

Racism and inequality were still prominent into the 20th Century and beyond. Confederate flags and monuments are as popular as ever among far Right American conservatives.

The Civil War ended, but the struggle for equality, voting rights, and civil rights continues.

In their denial of this fact, the conservatives of the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Today’s conservative media and Republicans engage in the most dishonest far Right propaganda since Goebbels. “Fake news” is their equivalent of the Nazi’s “Lügenpresse”, or lying press.

Journalism isn’t the only target of the far Right. Any source of information that disproves their conservative propaganda becomes a target. Scientists, doctors, educators and historians are fair game for their evidence, facts and truths that the far Right prefers kept in the dark.

American political conservatism is nothing more than the far Right propaganda and machinations required to maintain minority rule by the wealthiest of our population. The greatest threats to conservatism have always been democracy and equality.

Throughout our history conservatives have obstructed every stage of progress towards democracy and equality. They opposed independence, emancipation, civil rights, voting rights, labor rights, and women’s rights.

Conservative royalists sided with the Crown in the Revolution. Conservatives sided with racist Southern slave owners through the Civil War. They violently suppressed ex-slaves after Reconstruction. They slaughtered and removed native tribes from their homes.

They resisted women’s suffrage, and stood athwart civil rights and voting rights for minorities through the 20th Century. They have continued to engage in voter suppression well into to the 21st Century.

They are blocking and dismantling our Constitutional provision for the general welfare. They howled “Socialism” and “Statism” in their outrage at Social Security for a public safety net, and at Medicare for public healthcare. Now the Republican president is proposing the elimination of the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.

And throughout this war on democracy and equality, conservatives have worked relentlessly to deny women’s right to reproductive freedom.

The enemies of democracy have been ramping up their war for the last 40 years, since Reagan advisor Paul Weyrich openly stated, "We don’t want everybody to vote. When everybody votes we lose.”

Unprecedented and extreme gerrymandering was imposed by Republicans, marginalizing minorities’ access to fair representation.

Then came more restrictive voter IDs that mostly impacted poor urban Black people.

Then came purging of voter rolls that disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters.

Then came limiting voter registration drives, targeting the League of Women Voters among others.

Then came limiting poll access by reducing the numbers of polls and last minute changes of poll locations.

Then came the efforts directed at elimination of same day registration and early voting.

Minorities and especially Black communities were targeted. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that HB 589, often referred to as North Carolina’s “monster voter suppression law”, was enacted with “racially discriminatory intent" that targeted African American voters with “surgical precision.”

Then came the candidate who declared the election would be rigged if he lost. He then denied losing the popular vote, and pushed lies about millions of “illegals” voting.

Then came the sabotage of the United States Postal Service to hinder mail-in ballots.

Channel 4 News revealed a 2016 vote-suppressing propaganda scheme by the enemies of democracy and equality. They were targeting Black people to deter them from voting.

“Channel 4 News has exclusively obtained a vast cache of data used by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign on almost 200 million American voters.

It reveals that 3.5 million Black Americans were categorised by Donald Trump’s campaign as ‘Deterrence’ – voters they wanted to stay home on election day...In 16 key battleground states, millions of Americans were separated by an algorithm into one of eight categories, also described as ‘audiences’, so they could then be targeted with tailored ads on Facebook and other platforms.

One of the categories was named ‘Deterrence’, which was later described publicly by Trump’s chief data scientist as containing people that the campaign “hope don’t show up to vote”.

Analysis by Channel 4 News shows Black Americans – historically a community targeted with voter suppression tactics – were disproportionately marked ‘Deterrence’ by the 2016 campaign.

In total, 3.5 million Black Americans were marked ‘Deterrence...The 2016 campaign preceded the first fall in Black turnout in 20 years..”

 Chuck Lindell of the Austin American-Statesman reported more recent obstructions to voting. Texas Republicans are reducing ballot dropoff points and forcing longer waits in line.

“Gov. Abbott issues proclamation CLOSING (as of Oct. 2) satellite offices where voters can drop off completed mail-in ballots. Counties can only have 1 dropoff point, he says. Travis has 4, including 3 downtown. Harris has 12.

Abbott says move, which also requires early voting clerks to let poll watchers observe ballot delivery, is an election security measure. Clerks said the multiple dropoff spots were to help voters, particularly amid questions about Postal Service efficiency.”

Also: “Texas can enforce law that ends straight-ticket voting for the Nov. 3 election.”

 Finally, after years of undermining the integrity of our elections, the authoritarian president openly declared war on democracy:

Reporter: "Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transfer of power after the election?"

Trump: "We're going to have to see what happens. Get rid of the ballots and we'll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control.”

This is a rogue autocrat bent on destabilizing our democracy by constant and deliberate efforts to delegitimize our election.

During the first debate with Joe Biden, he instructed his armed militia nuts and Proud Boys to “stand by”, and to intimidate voters at the polls. He was asked, and refused to condemn white supremacists.

He did the opposite. He threatened more confrontation and lied about who the most violent ones are. "Proud Boys -- stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what. I'll tell you what. Somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem."

FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress the bureau is putting racist violence on the same threat level as foreign terrorist groups.

“We elevated to the top-level priority racially motivated violent extremism so it's on the same footing in terms of our national threat banding as ISIS and homegrown violent extremism.”

They are Trump’s foot soldiers. His Brownshirts. His SS.

The Kenosha killer broke the law before he pulled the trigger on his victims. It was illegal for him to be carrying his weapon in public. No matter. The authoritarians of the far Right are defending this type of vigilantism. "Law and order for thee, but not for me."

Many of these brainwashed authoritarian bigots are threatening civil war if Trump loses the election. Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, heard Trump's "Stand back and stand by" as "Get ready for war."

“Not a right wing problem”.

There has never been a greater enemy of the people in the White House.

The Trump Republicans’ war on democracy has now reached the brink of fascism.

The militia nuts, Proud Boys, 3%er’s, the Klan, white fundamentalist bigots, and the Republican Party are with him all the way. Right wing terrorism will escalate if Trump can't steal the election

Conservatives do not want a democratic republic. They have always wanted minority rule.

When not in power they obstruct. They will capitalize on the Electoral College and their disproportionate representative power in the Senate, and their lock on the courts. To hold that power they will behave like authoritarians and despots. They will lie like fascist and communist dictators. They will cheat, blame, scapegoat, and falsely accuse the opposition.

They will assail dissent and call progressives or Democrats who question them “libtards”, “snowflakes”, “cucks”, traitors, socialists, and communists.

These are the fetid fruits of conservatism that have been rotting the core principles of our Republic. As far Right conservatives demonize opposition and howl about “fake news” and “Marxism”, these enemies of democracy and equality are leading the nation down the dark path of authoritarianism.

The resentment, divisiveness, willful ignorance, anger, lies, and hate from the conservative far Right have degraded our media, schools, and society. They have poisoned our law enforcement, our politics and our government.

It is difficult to exaggerate the threat they have become to our nation.  

Not since the Civil War has the republic seen a more dangerous domestic menace.

And if they don’t get their minority rule, another civil war is what the worst of them will want. 

And once again, they won’t be fighting for democracy and equality.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Who Are They?

 

Who Are They?

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

“Liberal Media! Fake news! The press is the enemy of the people!”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

“Imprison the opposition! Lock her up!”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

“Global warming is a hoax! Corporations are people.”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

“We don’t want everybody to vote.”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

“Screw the poor! Tax cuts for the rich!”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

“You have no right to public education and healthcare!”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

“We have the pandemic under control!”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

“It’s the common cold, maybe the flu.”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are they, who we hear say?

I don’t take responsibility. Make America great again.”

Enemies of Democracy, Enemies of Equality

 

Who are They?...Who Are They?...

Friday, September 25, 2020

It FEELS So Good!


“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what's happening.” 

Remember when the president of the United States said that?

This is an important rule dictated by every fascist despot and every cult leader. Free speech and a free press are not to be trusted.

Only Big Brother, the Fuhrer, Dear Leader, or Big Daddy’s going to tell you the truth. All you have to do is believe.

This is now a core doctrine of Trump era conservatism. It is Trumpism.

 It feels so good to have a Big Daddy or a Dear Leader watching out for you and protecting you.

It feels secure and righteous to be the Real Americans, with a real leader to tell you who to blame.

Conservative Trumpists feel comfort and assurance in believing doctors like Fauci and the “liberal media” are wrong. They feel deceived and angry that science and journalism are fake news. They feel those journalists and scientists are a liberal conspiracy aligned against them. Can you blame them for feeling resentment, anger and fear?

So why feel threatened by all that mostly verifiable information?

No need for those phonies. Trumpism, née conservatism, has all the answers.

Science and journalism tell us large crowds are unsafe in a pandemic.

Trump holds rallies. Herman Cain felt he would be safe there.

Trumpist conservatism tells us shutdowns and masks are for libs and sheep, and it feels really good to go to Trump rallies.

It feels good to hear Trump attack the mainstream news media.

It feels good to chant and cheer loudly at their two-minute hates for Hillary, Obama, and Pelosi.

It feels good to hear Trump bellow, “Law and order!”

It feels good when Trump orders the gassing and assault on Americans legally protesting, just for a photo op. The vicarious thrill of exercising violent power against people protesting police brutality feels great. Like the press who were shot with rubber bullets or slammed and jabbed with shield edges, people who protest police brutality are the enemy.

And it feels mighty good to hate the enemy.

Indeed. Rallies, flags, and the angry hateful rhetoric of victimhood feel good.

Trumpism FEELS good. 

Well, Trumpism FEELS good, until it doesn't. See Herman Cain and the Trump supporting politician who said coronavirus was a "socialist" hoax, until they were killed by the disease.

But rallies, flags, and the angry hateful rhetoric of victimhood are what make white nationalism and fascism feel so good.

Authoritarians in particular are drawn to the emotion-filled rhetoric of resentment and anger. It’s never about rational discourse and consideration of facts and evidence. It is gut level.

Or more precisely, it is centered in the emotion generating, fight or flight, reactionary responses of the amygdala. It's that pesky science again. The fear and loathing rhetoric of authoritarian leaders appeals to the primitive emotion part of the brain. When these emotions are channeled through far Right ideology, it comforts the frightened authoritarian followers. It soothes and assures them of their place in the world. It feels good to belong to the “good guys” and be a part of a greatness beyond their abilities.

Resentment, anger and fear become the bonding emotions of the far Right. A bracing sense of righteousness and belonging balances the fear and loathing. Their emotions are now on the roller coaster of far Right ideology. Blame, and feel good about blaming. Hate, and feel good about hating. Be great by scorning others. It feels so good.

Yes. I have to admit I can be a stubborn fool, especially by engaging in dialogue with Trump-supporting conservatives.

While there may not be a brilliant method to my madness, the many rounds of words with them have revealed certain tactics and patterns utilized by the far Right. We’ve all been inundated with the projection, dismissal of facts and evidence, and their whataboutism to deflect and distract from any message they wish to reject. Besides the usual tactics, there is another consistent pattern of far Right political discourse, with progressive or other positions outside their ideological cult bubble.

A recent exchange at a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing between Dr. Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul illustrates this pattern.

“To those who argue that the lockdown flattened the curve in New York and New Jersey, the evidence argues otherwise,” Paul said.

“No, you misconstrued that senator, and you’ve done that repeatedly in the past,” Fauci responded.

Paul claimed that New York has achieved herd immunity, saying around 22% of New York’s residents have likely been exposed to the coronavirus.

“You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said,” Dr. Fauci told Paul. “If you believe that 22% is herd immunity, I believe you’re alone in that.” 

And there it is.

“I don’t have to listen to you. I know more about what you think than you do, and I know it is bad. I know all I need to know. I don’t care about your journalists, educators, scientists, doctors, logic, facts and evidence. And I don’t answer questions. Now, why don’t you listen to me? I’ll tell you Trump and Republicans and conservatism and capitalism and militarism and nationalism and MY religion have ALL the right answers to everything. And that makes you wrong about everything."

Yup. Trumpism FEELS so good. And this is exactly how Fascism feels so good.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

One More Round

Maybe I’m a fool. Or maybe I’m just a stubborn SOB. Or both, more likely. 

At Unabashedly American, our old conservative buddy Darrell found some of my points to be annoying under his post on how mentally unfit and dishonest “pathological liar” Joe Biden is. He is still obsessed with the fictitious Biden crime spree in Ukraine and the ensuing treacherous impeachment. I asked what crime was committed by the Bidens. As with Hillary, no actual crime was disclosed. 

Naturally I asked him for a similarly fair and balanced assessment of the president’s honesty and fitness for office. He had once agreed with me that Trump was morally unfit for office.

Turns out, someone changed. Now Trump is merely “bombastic” and “simplistic in his speech”. There was grudging admission that he “lies a lot, but frankly despite your inflated leftist claim of 2 quadrillion documented lies by Trump, they are just that: inflated propaganda.” 

Yes, I think I see. Citing facts to call out lies is "inflated propaganda". Or are Trump's lies the "inflated propaganda? Since Darrell isn't fond of answering questions, let's just assume he's offering us "Darrell's inflated propaganda". Anyway, we learn Biden is the real "pathological liar", with his legion of loyal lying journalists who don’t work for FOX(R).

I understand it isn’t pleasant to have one’s beliefs questioned, especially for conservatives. Discussion has been strained over at Darrell’s blog, so I thought I’d publish my last response to his remarks here.

~~~~~

Darrell,

Thank you for responding. I beg your patience one more time. Instead of dismissing what I say, or summarily accusing me of lies, accusations, and name calling, you could show me facts that prove your accusations and claims. You have never supported your accusations with evidence, and your other “evidence” is always from biased Right wing sources. 

I’m going to present you a reasoned, fact based response. Delete if you must, but please read it.

The demands for justice and protests against racism and police brutality this past summer have been broad and enduring. Social unrest, vandalism, beatings, gassing, and shootings have been occurring, but not every day, and certainly not in most cases. You have rejected the evidence (93% of racial justice protests have been peaceful)I linked to, and embraced FOX(R) propaganda, showing the same old footage of burning buildings every day. You also can’t accept the fact Democrats and progressives, and yes, even the BLM organization, are aligned with most Americans in condemning the destruction and violence as well as the racism and police brutality. Now Trump is fanning fears of “low income housing” in suburbs. We know what the code words mean.

“Michael Brown tried to take the gun away from an officer in Missouri, got himself shot, and thus provoked the unrighteous anger of the BLM movement to destroy Ferguson, Missouri.” Ferguson is still there. Yes, Brown was aggressive, and was then unnecessarily killed while unarmed. Unfortunately the “Hands up, don’t shoot” meme got ahead of the facts.

The deeper problem was the systemic racism in the Ferguson Police Department.

The abuses of the Ferguson Police Department were investigated by the Dept. of Justice:

“The City’s emphasis on revenue generation has a profound effect on FPD’s approach to law enforcement... This culture within FPD influences officer activities in all areas of policing, beyond just ticketing. Officers expect and demand compliance even when they lack legal authority. They are inclined to interpret the exercise of free-speech rights as unlawful disobedience, innocent movements as physical threats, indications of mental or physical illness as belligerence. Police supervisors and leadership do too little to ensure that officers act in accordance with law and policy, and rarely respond meaningfully to civilian complaints of officer misconduct. The result is a pattern of stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment; infringement on free expression, as well as retaliation for protected 3 expression, in violation of the First Amendment; and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Ferguson’s approach to law enforcement both reflects and reinforces racial bias, including stereotyping. The harms of Ferguson’s police and court practices are borne disproportionately by African Americans, and there is evidence that this is due in part to intentional discrimination on the basis of race.”

It has become abundantly clear that many more law enforcement agencies share this shameful racist and abusive pattern. There are far too many unqualified racist cops. Period.

“The antifa-fascists...” No, they are anti-fascist... “have long been looking for an excuse to riot.” NO. They are not an organized group with an agenda. They do confront white nationalists like Proud Boys. Yes, some have vandalized. Right wing groups also called for vandalism and agitation. Numbers of them were arrested. Vigilante militia nuts brought weapons to kill and escalate threats and violence.

“You have also claimed the violence is not done by the saintly antifa crowd or the pure BLM participants.” NO. I have said violence was done by thugs on both sides. You assign guilt by association, or deny the reality of peaceful protesters. I have shown they are the majority.

“It is always the fault of racist and abusive cops.” NO, I never said that. But they lit the fuse and continue their abuses.

“I don’t excuse the illegal actions on either side and think any violator of the laws should be held accountable.” I’ve agreed with this all along, yet you still misrepresent me.

“You, however, do support the Marxist and often racist BLM organization.” I have told you I support their protesting racism and police brutality. YOU imagine that means supporting Marxism and racism. The US supported Stalin, not Stalinism, to defeat Hitler.

“I guess your racism is okay because it is politically correct and approved, right?” Here we go again.  And what racism would that be? (Why does the far Right insist that opposing racism is “racism”, and opposing fascism is “fascism”? And you wonder why I say racism isn’t racism to racists...)

In case you missed my point, “Prager U” is a joke, saying Black Lives Matter is "the most racist organization in the country outside of the Ku Klux Klan".

It is the same indoctrination that the Right projects on higher education. It has gotten to the point the Right denies science.

“If they (QAnon) are bad people, then I will agree with you.” Trump refused to denounce them. Short version. Pizzagate. Hillary’s “pedophile ring”. Right wing nut with a gun threatens pizza place. Convicted criminal and Trump crony Flynn swears oath to QAnon. Got it? Perhaps this is why you still won’t acknowledge convicted criminal and Trump crony Roger Stone flashing the white power sign with Proud Boys?

“Sadly the US has its share of authoritarian terrorists who kill out of bigotry and extremism.” ~ Dubya

“Yep, including a lot of anarchists, antifa-pajama boys, and BLM organization types.” You have not given any numbers of victims killed by “anarchists, antifa-pajama boys, and BLM organization types”. Your numbers will probably not even match the Charleston church massacre, let alone the El Paso massacre and OK City bombing. Not to mention the long history of Klan and other racist massacres like Greenwood in Tulsa.

I give you the two officers shot for no reason in L.A. this weekend by such a terroristic ass.” Killing cops is murder, not terrorism.

“Damn you’re batting average is horrific.”  Maybe according to a near-sighted umpire, but not according to the facts. On the other hand, you are batting zero as far as providing facts to show my errors. My wait continues.

“The House had the obligation and duty to call witnesses and subpoena evidence...”  Yes, but you offered zero facts and only opinion from “ their politically motivated articles of impeachment...”  to ......."the vast majority of the journalists that fall into that category are enemies of freedom, democracy, and the people.” 

No wonder you are as ill-informed on the charges and evidence against Trump as you are with the Mueller Report. Trump abused power and obstructed congress. He acted to obstruct Mueller’s investigation. Any fair trial would prove these cases. Who knows what insurance and bank fraud he’s committed. What is he hiding in his tax returns? What about Trump Tower Moscow and loans from Russia? Your unquestioning faith in Dear Leader is remarkably cultish.

“…authoritarian Republican state legislators have imposed numerous impediments to discourage voting.” ~ Dubya

Evidence was cited, and obviously ignored. Voter ID is only one front in the Right’s war on democracy by voter suppression.

“But you really don’t care about facts.” Obvious projection, sir. You rarely, if ever, cite evidence. When I do so, you dismiss it.

“You want illegals and felons to vote...”  NO, it is yet another of your false accusations totally unsupported by evidence. See the pattern here? Probably not.

“...since they will expand the leftist big-government Democrats power. That is the real truth.”  NO, it is not. The real truth is I want government of, by and for the people, with fair elections and fair representation. I want equal justice under law. I want my Constitutional rights. I want Constitutional taxation, Constitutional regulation of commerce, and Constitutional provision for the general welfare. I want public education and public healthcare for the general welfare.

You certainly have a real problem with that, and have been indoctrinated to believe that is Marxism.

“You cannot win an honest election so you hope to manipulate it to cheat. THAT is the leftist legacy.”

That’s both dishonest and ludicrous projection. Trump cheated by paying off a porn star. He BROKE THE LAW! And not for the last time.

I’ve seen the Heritage Foundation list. It is mostly election fraud, and committed by both parties. NONE of the Republican voter suppression tactics reduce election fraud.

It disenfranchises tens of thousands of previously registered voters, and prevents only a few dozen acts of voter impersonations. Voter impersonation remains rare and negligible.

Why is it you and Trump call Hillary a criminal, yet NEVER reveal what her “crime” is? Trump’s crimes are clear. He illegally paid off a porn star to cheat in the election. He attempted to obstruct every investigation into his crimes and deals with Russia. He openly solicited a foreign leader’s help in smearing his election opponent. His administration is rampant with corruption. How would a cult ever know about these facts when they believe everything news media say about Trump is “fake news”? He literally can do no wrong, because they reject all information that doesn’t come from the cult leaders and their fawning media.

Hillary did say Biden should be ready to fight if the results come back too close to call. "Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don't give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is."

Democrats are rightfully sick of losing after getting more votes than Republicans. The slave states’ Electoral College has become an insult and threat to democracy. There’s good reason no other democracy embraces such voter inequality.

In contrast, Trump said that the only way he would lose in November is if the election were rigged. “If Biden Wins, the rioters, anarchists, and arsonists win.”

This is exactly how a fascist would inflate racial fears to undermine democracy.

It is heartening to see many Republicans and former Republicans come out against that man. They also see a tyrant and his cult.

”It is ironic that the man that has done more to help Americans of color is decried as the racist, while Biden who didn’t want desegregation of his kids’ schools to create a “jungle” and has patronized people of color for decades is the left’s champion.”

Bernie, not Biden, is the Left’s champion. Biden is a flawed, moderate, and corporate-friendly politician. And he says stupid stuff. No argument on that.

It is absurdly inaccurate to regurgitate Trump’s boast that he has “done more to help Americans of color”. His party continues to disenfranchise eligible Black voters. This is a proven fact upheld by courts. Just because you choose to ignore the evidence doesn’t mean it’s not so.

You have also ignored the facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about Black unemployment rates and job growth in general: 8.1 million jobs were created in the last three years of the Obama administration. 6.6 million jobs were created in the first three years of Trump.

Aug. 2011 the Bush Recession produced a Black unemployment rate 16.7%. January 2017, the black unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent. Under Obama the black unemployment rate dropped 8.9%. Trump crows about a 3.4% drop. The Black president did the heavy lifting and got no credit from the racist Birther or his cult.

“He should have done been better”, is the only response given as the facts are dismissed.

Trump has yet to condemn police brutality. He encouraged it. “Please, don’t be so nice” were his words. He calls Black athletes “sons of bitches” for protesting police brutality. You know I could list many more cases of his racism.

These Republicans are able to see what you cannot:

”Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A., I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them. The president’s failure to defend the United States intelligence community’s unanimous conclusions of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and condemn Russian covert counterinfluence campaigns and his standing idle on the world stage while a Russian dictator spouted lies confused many but should concern all Americans. By playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands, the leader of the free world actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States to both our friends and foes abroad.” -  Will Hurd, Republican congressman from Texas after Trump’s Helsinki Betrayal

"We're in a strange place. It's becoming a cultish thing, isn't it? It's not a good place for any party to have a cult-like situation as it relates to a President that happens to be purportedly of the same party." - Former Republican Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker

The Trump Cult is blind to facts and reason, as you seem to be with everything I’ve said, and to all evidence presented. I am forced to conclude this is done to maintain hate and animosity toward those who disagree. The Right needs to embrace self-righteousness and frame dissent as evil. It is why the Right must spew lies and false accusations to fuel anger, resentment, blame, and hatred. The Right needs to demonize and smear the opposition, dictate terms, and define their own reality. It is why dialogue gets shut down by the Right. They must resort to name calling and false accusations every time. “Snowflake Marxist Pajama Boy”.

This hate and demonization are the reasons why the body count from Right wing terrorism is competing with Jihadist terrorism in our country.

Why can’t you accept that reality? I can’t hate people who fall into a cult. But I WILL call out their indoctrinated delusions, lies, false accusations and blame. I WILL oppose them, and defend truth, decency and democracy. Those are my values they are attacking.

If you are impervious to all of this, and see only lies, false accusations and name calling, then I give up. You will have succeeded in shutting gown dialogue and I will go away. It just proves to me good faith discussion is impossible with the far Right Trump Cult.

Thank you for your patience. I know it isn’t easy to have your beliefs questioned.