Quick Comment

I’m tempted to say “consider the source” here.

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Atheist Bullies!

Yeah: Because we have a secular center on every street corner that never pays property taxes, a majority of legislators in office, both major political parties dominated by atheists, religion-bashing TV shows dominating the airwaves (especially on Sunday morning), atheists shooting Christians, or denying them jobs, adoption or housing, for not sharing their beliefs, US currency has an atheist slogan on it, the Pledge of Allegiance had two words denying God inserted into it in the 1950s, atheists never have to fear for their safety if they declare their nonbelief in public, Christian-owned business are frequently picketed and firebombed by atheists, Congress pays for its atheist chaplain with your tax dollars, atheists frequently visit dying people and try to separate them from their faith—and nobody thinks there is anything wrong with that.

Yeah, atheist bullies…

(Originally posted 6/9/2017)

PS: One commenter suggested that the community should decide. My reply was, no.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims the cross is offensive and it endorses Christianity,” the mayor told me. “We say it’s been there since 1930 and it’s a historical part of our town and our heritage.”

This is the same rationale Southern Civil War sympathizers (that is, traitors and racists) use to justify keeping displays of Confederate flags and statuary: historical heritage. Just because something unjust has been that way for 90 years, it is not for that reason inoculated from being unjust and exclusionary. In addition, the fact that the legislature was unanimous in approving what will become an expensive and unnecessary litigation suggests that anybody in the City of Neosho who might have objected to the display would fear for their safety if they actually did so.

(Added 6/11/2017)

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Quick Comment

If you read this, you might get the wrong impression.

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Bernie Sanders joins the 1%?

Let’s put this in perspective: First, as the article says, based on his annual income of $200,000, Sanders still is one of the least wealthy Senators. And it matters more what you DO with your wealth—and your political power—than how much of it you have. Second, this is a one-off, as far as I can tell: Sanders doesn’t get six-figure book deals every year, so his income average, year after year, is below the “1% threshold.” Finally, Sanders has been known to donate excess income from book sales. You can’t say that of many millionaires. (Originally posted 6/8/2017)

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Democrats Must Stand for Something

I am a Maryland voter and (for now) a registered Democrat. I sent the following e-mail to Sen. Ben Cardin:

Dear Senator Cardin,

Ben CardinI found your name on a list of Democratic Senators who have not pledged to filibuster the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the US Supreme Court. I hope you will take action to remove your name from that list. We were implored to vote for Hillary Clinton because of the Supreme Court, but any Democrat who caves in to this nomination by the Trump Administration makes me feel like a chump. The reasons for opposing the railroading of this regressive judge through the confirmation process are legion:

Judge Gorsuch has a history of comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

Judge Gorsuch favored the “Hobby Lobby” decision in its absurd assertion that corporations have religious beliefs that must be protected, despite the fact that health benefits are part of compensation.

Judge Gorsuch callously ruled against the “frozen trucker” (dissent in TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board), showing an inflexible determination to uphold the rights of corporations over their employees, even when a human life is at stake.

Judge Gorsuch on the Supreme Court hands Donald Trump a mandate to govern from the far right and rewards unprecedented Republican obstruction of the Merrick Garland nomination. Democrats need to stand for something.

Neil GorsuchJudge Gorsuch has repeatedly ruled against the rights of disabled students (Thompson R2-J School District v. Luke P. and A.F. v. Española Public Schools). He wants to make it harder for federal agencies to enforce laws passed by Congress. He has questionable views on workers’ rights protections, access to abortion, voting rights, money in politics reform, LGBTQ rights and more.

Judge Gorsuch has no understanding of sexual harassment in real life (Pinkerton v. Colorado DOT), has no sense of outrage at excessive use of force by police (Wilson v. City of Lafayette), and cares neither for the right to counsel (Williams v. Jones), not for the life of a patient needing extended leave to save her life (Hwang v. Kansas State University).

Yes, there has never been a successful partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. A Democrat-led partisan filibuster would be the first in U.S. Senate history, breaking centuries of precedent. But there has never before been so radical a move by one party (the Republicans) to block for 293 days a qualified nominee (Merrick Garland). And although there is a risk that Republicans will change the rules on the filibuster, they probably will do it, anyway. Let us not act out of fear.

Please add your voice to growing call to filibuster the nomination that should have gone to Merrick Garland: rewarding the bad behavior of Republicans in blocking that nomination is not the way to endear yourself to the voters who supported you. Thank you.

PS: I’m not alone in this.

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Liberal Genocide & Hypocrites

Reposted from SocioPentothal: A last haven of truth
Original posting 3/10/2017

Watch the video below… Then read on.

Liberal Genocide

Facts, evidence, truth. They are the result of objective reasoning, investigation, and rigorous testing. They are not manifestations of wild, ignorant imaginations. And yet, in the video you just watched, the number of lies being preached to the minions of madness in attendance, speaks volumes to the great hypocrisy of GOP politicians and their mindless, ignorant, xenophobic, racist, white male dominated, female subjugated, despicable waste of humanity followers. Three months into the new administration – and quite possibly the most corrupt administration to have ever led the country – the same lies used to subvert reality and put the GOP into the driver’s seat of the United States, are still being used to push an agenda that is far darker than simply trying to win an election. The very core of all these lies is a festering pustule of hate that welcomingly embraces and celebrates genocidal tribalism. It’s a grotesque side of humanity that some countries around the world have been unfortunate enough to experience first-hand. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, ISIL’s genocide of Yazidis… These are just some of the genocides in the 20th and 21st centuries driven by intense hatred of others for whatever insidious excuse. But now…

Watch the video again. Listen to the intense vitriol, barbaric hatred, and the insidious dehumanization of Liberals, Muslims, Jews, and others, by the speakers and interviewees. Pay close attention to the manner with which they deliver their messages. It wreaks of a thirst for blood. It smacks of racial, religious, and political purity, of tribalism, of authoritarianism, of fascism.  And all of it spewing from the minds and out of the mouths of people who, FOR YEARS AND YEARS, claimed to be “Patriots”! This is a political party that SWORE that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were sacred, and that freedom and liberty for all was irreproachable!

Hypocrites

“Lock her up!”  “If she really is that Jewish, she should go back to her country, that girl right there.” Obama’s birth certificate is fake. “The Democratic party is anti-American… they’re liars and cheaters… and they want to wipe us out.  We need to wipe them out!”  “I just want to let them know that I can’t wait for the Liberal genocide to begin. That’s the way to make America great again because Liberals are destroying the country.” These are just a few of the statements from the video you just watched. How reprehensible and frightening do you find these statements? Personally, I’m not surprised. The GOP propaganda juggernaut has been in full swing for nearly 30 years. It has been tremendously potent, fact free, and completely dedicated to seizing power at all costs. Party before country.  At the same time, the GOP has repeatedly laid sole claim to a moral high ground that is best described as “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” or simply “I don’t recall.” Add to this disgusting display of hypocrisy the fellatio-fest they have with the Religious Right every election cycle, portraying themselves as the keepers of liberty… Well, you get the vomitus picture. Anyway…

I can’t tell you how many times a day for the past 30 years I’ve heard the GOP called hypocrites. Politicians, pundits, radio show hosts, TV hosts, voters… If they are GOP, they seem to be immune to the conventional meaning of the word and the implications of it.  But I have a theory as to why the word doesn’t appear to have any impact on them. First, the GOP engages in, what psychologist’s call, “projection.” This is a bad thing.

Wikipedia calls Psychological Projection “a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.”

The word Hypocrisy, as most sensible and sane folks understand it, is not complimentary. And Wikipedia would seem to agree: “Hypocrisy is the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, especially with respect to religious and moral beliefs; hence in general sense, dissimulation, pretense, sham. It is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another.”

I propose that the GOP doesn’t consider projection as something bad, therefore, to be called a hypocrite is simply a compliment?

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Today’s lesson

Blogger’s Note: This post is adapted from a letter/email sent recently to a Russian-born friend who emigrated years ago and is still fascinated by American culture. ~Rm

overtheedgeToday’s lesson is about “Groupthink.” I know it sounds like a word from George Orwell, or perhaps from Russian propaganda, but Groupthink resides in groups that consider the minimization of conflict and the maximization of group cohesion to be more important than critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints. I used to teach this concept when I was a speech communication teacher in community college – incidentally, one of the most personally and intellectually rewarding periods of my unusual career.

Groupthink is usually considered dysfunctional and unproductive. For these reasons – and because it discourages individual initiative and independent thinking – it has always been quite popular as a model for hierarchical groups such as capitalist corporations, government agencies and, most notably, mainstream news organizations. Here are some examples.

Iran is the enemy

Most mainstream news organizations unquestioningly parrot the Trump Regime’s lie that Iran (a) has a nuclear weapons program and (b) that its recent (failed) missile test shows that it wishes to break out of the JCPOA negotiated with great skill by the Obama Administration (who also repeated the lie that Iran has a nuclear weapons program). (The JCPOA is the 2015 Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an amendment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which was signed not just by the U.S., but also by China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany.)

However, nuclear weapons experts from around the world, including those within the U.S. intelligence community, agree that (a) is not true and that the Trump Regime’s over-reaction via unilateral sanctions to (b) is based on a deliberate misinterpretation of the facts: Iran is “on notice” –  whatever that means –  but Iran was never banned from testing “conventional” weapons, nor did Iran ever agree to refrain from doing so. Indeed, like any sovereign nation, Iran has the right to defend itself from external aggression and any sanctions must be agreed to by all JCPOA parties. But the mainstream media plays along with the Trump Regime’s position: Groupthink.

China is the enemy

The Trump Regime, like the Obama Administration before it, accuses China of unfair currency manipulation. But, oh, facts: The world’s second-largest economy behind the U.S. hasn’t manipulated its currency to aid its trade position in years.

And how like our “enemies” we wish to become! The Trump Regime wishes to build a Wall on the southern U.S. border to keep out the “bad hombres” that can’t bypass it by flying or boating into the country – a wall that promises to be just as effective as the Great Wall of China, that is, not effective at all. (As the saying goes, “Show me a 10-foot wall and I’ll show you an 11-foot ladder.”) However, the mainstream media dutifully plays along: Groupthink.

So, of course, Anthropogenic Climate Deterioration (aka, Global Warming or Climate Change) is a Chinese plot to undermine U.S. trade. But, oh, facts: 97.1% of scientists with expertise in the field endorse the consensus position that humans are causing global warming, so the contrary position – and the attempt by the Trump Regime to silence dissent within the government and kill the EPA – exist to enforce conformity and discourage thinking outside the fossil-fuel box. In other words, Groupthink.

There may be war

Steve Bannon, the chief advisor to Der Orangeführer, and a former editor of a right-wing publication (“Breitbart”) and currently an unabashed white supremacist, says there’s “no doubt about” war in the South China Sea (with China). Of course, opposing China will require working with Russia and – surprise! – that is precisely why the Trump Regime is so friendly with the strongman-controlled, former Soviet nation. Again, the mainstream media play along, as if they believe it is too difficult, or too tendentious, to separate truth from fiction. Groupthink.

Russia is the enemy

The mainstream media have such difficulty with this one! On the one hand, the Trump Regime is soft on Russia. On the other hand, the mainstream media hew to the Democratic Party line that Russia is the reason that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election to Der Orangeführer. The Democrats believe that Russia “hacked” the 2016 election. And the Groupthink of the DNC informs the Groupthink of the mainstream media.

But, oh, facts; oh, logic! Are the DNC seriously saying that Russia wrote the emails showing the DNC’s thumb on the scale against Bernie Sanders? That Russia made Hillary Clinton the most unpopular Democratic candidate in history? That Russia made Clinton ignore her working class base in favor of her corporate masters? That Russia forced Clinton to make speeches to her banker buddies? That Russia persuaded Clinton not to campaign in three “swing states” she desperately needed to win the election? If so, Russia really is evil!

Furthermore, as Consortium News points out, “This CIA-initiated narrative that Putin somehow rigged the election for Trump has become an accepted wisdom not only in Official Washington but among much of the Democratic Party and within the progressive movement. Little interest is shown toward the lack of evidence provided by the U.S. intelligence community and the dubious reasoning involved, since it would have been a huge gamble for Putin to have interfered in the U.S. election and then faced the likely outcome of an angry President Hillary Clinton seeking revenge once she took office.” Again, Groupthink.

Turn off your TV

So what is my advice? Turn off your TV, put away your New York Times, your Wall Street Journal and your Washington Post. Seek out independent sources of news (if news still interests you) because Groupthink infects mainstream (corporate-controlled) news sources. They cannot be trusted without corroboration. But whatever you do, trust the evidence of your eyes and ears, not the Groupthink of the Trump Regime or the tweets of Der Orangeführer.

It has been said that war is when your government tells you who the enemy is; revolution is when you figure it out for yourself. So fasten your seat belt. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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The New America – Authoritarians, Fascists, Doomed

Reposted from SocioPentothal: A last haven of truth
Original posting 1/17/2017

anewbeginning915

“They attacked liberalism because it seemed to them the principle premise of modern society; everything they dreaded seemed to spring from it: the bourgeois life, Manchesterism, materialism, parliament, and the parties, the lack of potential leadership. Even more, they sensed in liberalism the source of all their inner sufferings. Theirs was a resentment of loneliness; their one desire was for a new faith, a new community of believers, a world with fixed standards and no doubts, a new national religion that would bind all Germans together. All this, liberalism denied. Hence, they hated liberalism, blamed it for making outcasts of them, for uprooting them from their imaginary past, and from their faith.”
~Fritz Stern, “The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology” (1961)

If you replace the word “Germans” with “Americans” in the above quote, the paragraph is terrifying. And it should be. Because the Republican party, Donald Trump and his cabinet, and Trump voters, have embraced this ideology to the letter. Anyone or anything that the Right disagrees with is automatically considered, labeled, condemned to be “liberal” and must be expunged from the American landscape. It’s time for a New America!

Authoritarians Anyone?

Donald Trump and the Republican party are authoritarian by nature. To them, everything in their fantasy world is black and white. Evil or good. Their world is one of absolutes. They’re terrified of the shades of gray (and brown) in the uncertain world of reality. They have rooted themselves in an imaginary past, where the history of the United States is perfect, sanctified, and sacred. The only thing that stands between them and living in this imaginary past under a vengeful, righteous god, is anyone who disagrees with them. And it is here where they have nested their authority to subjugate, rule, and conquer.

Fascists Please

In the book “American Fascists – The Christian Right and the War on America”, author Chris Hedges lays out 14 ways of identifying what he calls “Ur-Fascism”. Below are some of the 14 ways which are applicable to the Republican mindset today.

Hedge’s writes:

“3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake. Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore, culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Göring’s fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play (“When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals”, “eggheads”, “effete snobs”, and “universities are nests for reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.”

This should sound familiar… Climate deniers, creationists, anti-vaccination zealots, home schoolers… These are just some of the folks who take irrationalism to new heights of absurd. It is here that we find the most robust rejection of facts and evidence, and the afterbirth of the slimy scourge of fake news. Here, I’m reminded of a quote from “Idiot America – How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free” by Charles P. Pierce:

“But Idiot America is a collaborative effort, the results of millions of decisions made and not made, to reduce everything to salesmanship. Debate becomes corrupted argument, in which every point of view is just another product, no better or worse than all the others, and informed citizenship is abandoned to the marketplace.”

Fox News? Breitbart? Name your poison! Moving on… Back to “American Fascists – The Christian Right and the War on America”

Hedges continues:

“4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.”

Disagree with the fascist Right? You’re a liberal, communist, atheist, pig! You’re not a “patriot”!

“5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity. Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus, Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”

This should sound VERY familiar. The war against civil rights is well documented. More so, the current legislative assaults on immigrants, people of color, and others who hold different religious viewpoints, underscores this one well.

Doomed

“Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations. The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda – before the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone’s disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world – lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world.”
~Hannah Arendt “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1951)

Yes. That about sums up where we are right now. And it is where we are right now that leads me to believe, based on the facts and evidence at hand, that we are truly doomed. The United States of America, the people, and the country’s institutions, will be tested as never before. Unfortunately, I cannot foresee any of us surviving this onslaught. The coffin has been built, the lid is wide open. All that’s left for us to do is to lay down and close our eyes one last time. That shouldn’t be a problem. We’ve closed our eyes to the possibility of this for a long time.

(Reposted from SocioPentothal: A last haven of truth. Original posting 1/17/2017)

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This Will Not End Well

carcrash

Reposted from SocioPentothal: A last haven of truth
Original posting 1/8/2017

Everybody’s got a bomb,
We could all die any day
But before I’ll let that happen,
I’ll dance my life away

– Prince, 1999

The new millennium was saddled with many theories as to how it would begin. Most of those theories claimed that the year 2000 would be the beginning of the end, if not the end. The end of life. The end of civilization. The end of the world. Fortunately, and unfortunately, none of those theories would materialize. The Y2K bug bugged out, and 2000 began as 1999 had ended. Uneventful. Uninteresting. Just another year gone by. Seventeen years later, the year 2017 has arrived to the very real and thundering sound of blazing guns on the deck of a nationalist, fascistic, imperialistic dreadnought. The smell of war hangs thick in the air on the fresh gunpowder smoke of Trumpism. It’s Trumpism now that threatens the world stage with imminent destruction at the hands of its narcissistic, lying, cheating despot, and his merry band of tyrannical robber baron’s. This will not end well. Y2K would have been so much easier.

Buyer’s Remorse

Social Security. Medicare. Obamacare. Planned Parenthood. These are just a few of the issues that are now being threatened by Trump and his GOP brown-shirts. The “Swamp” that Trump promised to drain has been stocked with corporate SS (super sharks) ready to devour these programs that many people, who voted for Trump, use and badly need. Meanwhile, the brown-shirts of the GOP majority Congress, are still trying to decide if they’re more afraid of the electorate, or Der Pumpkin Führer. Some Trumpettes (Der Pumpkin Führer voters) are slowly coming back to reality over these programs and are having a hard time holding their right arms high enough to appease the Reich. Buyer’s remorse?

This will not end well.

Check it at The Door

A recent poll by Center for American Progress Action Fund found that 56-61% of Trump voters want the Democrats to be a “check and balance” on Der Pumpkin Führer. After all the demonizing of liberals, independents, LGBT’s, and anyone else who disagrees with them? They want the Democrats to keep Der Pumpkin Führer and the SS in check? After threats of violence and civil unrest the Trumpettes want the rest of us to contain any of the Füh·rer’s indiscretions? Nope. They need to own it, reap what they’ve sown:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

This will not end well.

The Palace Guard

What do Trump’s private security and the Secret Service have in common with each other besides being associated with Der Pumpkin Führer? Nothing really. Der Pumpkin Führer’s private security reflects his distrust of government… The very government he plans on conquering and commanding. The Secret Service is charged with protecting the President of the United States, risking their lives to ensure that POTUS is kept safe at all times, no matter what party the President belongs to, or the ideological bent of his or her political philosophy.

Der Pumpkin Führer has no rational reason to fear the personal protection of the Secret Service. Perhaps the word “rational” isn’t appropriate in this context? Could it be that Der Pumpkin Führer knows just how badly he’s despised by the POPULAR MAJORITY of the electorate? “I’ll be GREAT for America! So, just sit down, shut up… Guards! Guards!”

This will not end well.

Bad Influences

Der Pumpkin Führer is going to be da boss. Mafia reference aside, there are bad bosses. And according to at the University of Manchester’s Business School, bad bosses are bad for your health and reputation.

Lead researcher Abigail Phillips said:

“Overall the picture is clear leaders high in dark traits can be bad news for organisations (sic). Those high in psychopathy and narcissism have a strong desire for power and often lack empathy. This toxic combination can result in these individuals taking advantage of others, taking credit for their work, being overly critical, and generally behaving aggressively. In other words, leaders high in psychopathy and narcissism are more likely to be bullies.

Workplace bullying is obviously unpleasant for the target but also creates a toxic working environment for all involved. In short, bad bosses, those high in psychopathy and narcissism, have unhappy and dissatisfied employees who seek to ‘get their own back’ on the company.”

Hmmmm… “…‘get their own back’ on the company”? Sounds so much like the makings of a Greek tragedy.

This will not end well.

This Will Not End Well

I’m reminded of a story I heard quite a few years ago… After a rash of deadly car accidents, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety asked volunteer Oklahoma drivers for permission to install audio recording devices in their cars. Officials wanted to know what was being said in the brief moments before each accident. They were hoping the recordings could shed some light on the causes. After several months, more accidents, and finally some analysis of the recordings, officials announced their findings by playing back the recordings for the public. What was heard was nothing short of astounding. In every single instance, some variation of the following was said…

“Hey! Hold my beer and watch this!”

America has the recording of the moments before this pending crash. Yep. And this will not end well.

It’s time to party like it’s 1999… and long for Y2K.

(Reposted from SocioPentothal: A last haven of truth. Original posting 1/8/2017)

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John Mill