Tag Archives: politics

Land of Confusion, Redux

Most of us recall a song called “Land of Confusion” by Genesis, and the video of that song featuring puppets.  My kids loved it.  They are all still Genesis fans to this day (as am I).

I was reminded of it lately because I find what’s happening these days with 45 and his band of idiots more confusing than usual.

Until now, everything 45 and the Republicans did/said made sense in terms of political and/or monetary gain.  Everything.

Side note #1: I won’t get into the clinical aspects, because, quite honestly, I don’t care.  45 and the people he surrounds himself with have personality disorders – for which, in our society, people are rewarded.  When they break the law, they need to go to prison.

At any rate, despite the daily “oh no he didn’t” reaction that most Americans experience on a daily basis, as 45 lurches from one manufactured crisis or outrage to the next, this most recent weirdness is a step beyond what we’ve seen so far…

…he now insists he has invented a new celebration – fireworks and a parade on July 4th, in D.C.

Side note #2: Of course, we all know that July 4th celebrations have been going on since the 18th century.  For a chronology of the celebrations, see the Fourth of July Celebrations Database.

That’s right.  According the Rachel Maddow, on her show last night (February 12), “Trump Announces Plans for 4th of July Festivities That Already Exist”.  Here’s what he said:

“We’re thinking about doing, on the 4th of July or thereabouts, a parade. A ‘Salute to America’ parade. It will be a – really, a gathering, as opposed to a parade, I’d guess you’d have to say. Perhaps at the Lincoln Memorial. We’re looking at sites. But we’re thinking about doing something, which would become, perhaps, a tradition. ‘Salute to America’ on July 4th or July 4th weekend. Somewhere around that area.

“And, [acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt], you’re taking charge of that and you’ll see how it works out with schedules and everything else. And I think it could be a very exciting day.”  – MSNBC website, 2/13/19.

A new tradition??  What does he think goes on in D.C. on July 4th?

I was initially perplexed by this.  Is he deliberately lying, and trying to convince people that we don’t already have a tradition of celebrations on July 4th?  Is he exhibiting some form of dementia and doesn’t remember that this holiday is celebrated?  Is he just incredibly stupid, and has no idea that July 4th is even a holiday?

Side note #3: I can’t possibly believe this last one, because banks aren’t open on July 4th, so he certainly knows it’s a holiday, if only for that reason.

Considering how often 45 lies – an average of 15 lies per day in 2018 – it doesn’t surprise me all that much that he would claim to invent something that he didn’t.  What surprises me is the reaction staff had to this clearly false statement:

“Salute to America is a great idea.” – Spokesperson for the Interior Dept, as reported by CNN article “Trump Floats ‘New Tradition’: 4th of July Parade That Already Exists”, Maegan Vazquez, 2/13/19.

And therein lies part of the problem – no one who works in this administration is ever willing to correct 45 when he lies.  No one.  I think we can all safely assume that no one has ever corrected 45, throughout his life, about anything.  This is how bullies operate.

Bullies with money and power get to force their version of “reality” on the people over which they have control.  In the case of 45, that’s all of us.  It’s like that ridiculous book “The Secret”, on steroids.

“Inventing” a celebration that already exists really isn’t that big of a deal.  In fact, to many, it’s laughable – another example of the buffoonery that characterizes the installed president.  But it’s the way he attempts to redefine the world, and the way everyone around him (who also have power) enables that, that’s the real danger here.

It’s the basis of the “fake news” charge, for another example.  He doesn’t really believe CNN is “fake news”, as he admitted to in an interview with Leslie Stahl.  No, he uses the charge of “fake news” to discredit the news source:

“I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.” – “Lesley Stahl: Trump Told Me He Uses Term ‘Fake News’ To Discredit The Media”, Ian Schwartz, RealClear Politics website, 5/23/18.

Right there, he’s telling the world that he lies in order to subvert the First Amendment, and to reinforce that his is the only “true narrative”.  That’s extremely dangerous.

As time goes on, his lies become more outrageous, more clearly false, and much more dangerous because some people are not challenging what he’s claiming.  And by “some people”, I mean people that large numbers of the citizenry listen to and/or read.

Yeah, usually on cable news shows, this kind of stuff is brought up on a daily basis.  But it seems as if there are predominantly two reactions to it now – either laughter and derision, or “panels” that feature “both sides” (people struggling to present the facts, and people who defend 45 no matter how much he lies).

Neither reaction is helpful.  Both just polarize people more, do nothing to educate anyone, and often exhibit the attitude that “we all know better than the audience anyway, since most Americans don’t pay attention to this stuff”.

Side note #4: Then we have MSNBC on weekday evenings, which consists of reporters/hosts trying to objectively discuss and make sense of things (Hayes, Maddow, O’Donnell, sometimes Matthews and Melber).

As 45’s lies become wilder – with him just spouting off whatever nonsense comes to mind in some kind of fascist stream-of-consciousness bullshit – the people around him steadily work on the agenda of dismantling the good aspects of government, ripping off the American people, enriching the 1% and their cronies, and imposing their restrictions on freedoms we are all guaranteed under our Constitution.

And sowing confusion throughout the world.

Weird news of the week: From the website IFLScience, some really interesting and encouraging news about thought-to-speech technology, which could ultimately be used to assist people who can’t speak (people with ALS, for example).  The AI reads brain patterns and translates them into speech.  Right now, the program just reproduces numbers, but as the neural networks are trained in more complicated speech, people will be able to express requests and ideas. (‘This Ground-Breaking Technology “Translates” Brain Patterns Into Speech’, Rosie McCall, 1/20/19)

Recommendation of the week: rainymood.com is a site that’s just a picture of rain on a window, the sound of rain, and a mellow tune.  Nice to have running in the background, if you don’t have one of those sound generators.

Be good.  Be kind.  Be clear.

 

 

 

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Make No Mistake: This Was Never About Jobs

Brief health update: I am being tested – for the 3rd time – for pheochromocytoma, which is an adrenal gland tumor, and also being tested for carcinoid syndrome, which is a tumor ‘somewhere’. The endocrinologist thinks the tests will be negative, judging from my past test results, but he wants to make sure because my symptoms indicate one of those two diseases. He told me as I left that he might have to send me to Pittsburgh, which is the default answer for doctors here when they don’t know what’s wrong with you.  I can’t go to Pittsburgh, as I have no way to get there nor money for a plane or train (plus taxi, plus motel, etc).

At this point I would just be happy if they found a way to control the symptoms.  This illness has completely derailed my life.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand: the election.

I was dismayed that Trump won, and I was very disappointed that the Democrats didn’t get the turnout they should have.  I should mention, I live smack dab in the middle of “Trump country”, which is Central Pennsylvania.  The polling place I voted at had very long lines, and that should have been the first clue that Clinton wouldn’t win – my polling place never has a line, usually.

I also noticed a lot of apparent first-time voters, judging by how many people needed to have their hands held as they were walked through the process of using a voting machine.  No further comment on that.

So…Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost in the electoral college.  This is the 2nd time in 16 years that this has happened to a Democrat running for president.  But since she won the popular vote, this indicates – at least to me – that Trump doesn’t exactly have an overwhelming mandate from the American people.

Now, I have been watching news shows all through this election and beyond, and I have to say I disagree with the general consensus that Trump won because people have “economic anxiety” and that we “have to listen to them”.

No.  And no.

I live amongst the people who voted this guy into office.  I have heard their views – unwillingly, mostly – on the bus, on the senior van, in the hospital, in the shops, and so on.  Not one of them ever mentioned jobs when they went on their “I love Trump” rants.

They mentioned getting back to “the way things were, when no one was politically correct”. The translation?  “When I could be disrespectful and mean to anyone not like me, and no one would challenge me.”

They mentioned “taking our country back.”  Translation?  “I don’t want all these brown and black folks in my neighborhood/town, and I certainly don’t want to have to look at them or interact with them.”  Similar to that is “I don’t want these thugs coming to live here from Philadelphia, selling their drugs.”  Translation?  “African-Americans who live in this area are thugs and drug dealers, and are responsible for the drug epidemic.”

Never mind that the heroin problem here is multi-generational.  I worked as a drug and alcohol counselor and most of the heroin addicts I treated got the habit from parents, grandparents, cousins, etc – in other words, this heroin problem has been around for many, many years.

But it’s just another thing to blame on minorities, another justification for racist thought.  That is never acceptable, no matter what form it takes.

Not one time did anyone mention jobs, except as an afterthought about when this area had a lot of factories.  It was part of the landscape, not the central reason these people are so angry.

The closest I heard to anything like that was at a talk some man gave about his life as a machinist for Slinky.  He mentioned that he had seen machinery jobs leaving this area for many years, but he still told his kids that they should be machinists, too, and not be “lazy, like those kids who do programming.”

As far as I am concerned, if he saw the writing on the wall and still steered his kids towards being machinists instead of learning marketable skills (like a good parent would), then that’s on him.  He has some hang-up about certain skills and certainly about higher education, and his stubbornness hurt his kids.  It’s his fault.

No one in this area thinks Trump – or anyone else – can bring back the factories that dotted the landscape in Central PA.  That ship sailed long ago, in the 1970s.   The owners of the means of production decided they could make more money overseas, it’s as simple as that.  They weren’t and aren’t going to come back just because people want them to.

The people here know that.  A lot of them, too, are retired military people who have never worked a production job in their lives.  And the average Trump supporter pulls down $72,000 per year (“Trump Voters Earn a Lot More Than You Might Think”, Josh Hatner, USA Today online, 5/5/2016).

These are not poor folks.  They own houses, and cars, and bitch about how much they have to pay for Medicare (which is based on their income, so I really don’t feel sorry for them).  They are comfortable in their little world and they resent non-white people moving into the area.

They complain about “having to be politically correct” even as they say hateful things when other white people are around (I hate that, their assumption that because someone is white they will agree with whatever bigoted shit they care to spout – and I make that reaction clear to whomever tries that with me).

They don’t even want to discuss race or gender, because then they would have to examine their own racist and sexist viewpoints…and let’s face it, they don’t want to do that because it makes them feel uncomfortable.

Luckily, they feel, someone came along who would say all the stuff they were thinking, and now he’s president!  Now they have carte blanche to be as ugly and horrible to others as they want to be, and it’s ok because Trump got elected.

In some ways, as much as people get on the news shows and express disgust with Trump’s and his supporters’ racist/sexist/xenophobic/lgbt-hating ideas, backward and wrongheaded ideas have now been normalized.  This is what bugs me about people, liberals all, who keep insisting that Trump supporters are not bigoted, and we need to “understand them.”

Most progressives already do understand these people.  It’s why we won’t stand to let them get away with anything – not their rhetoric, or certainly not their hateful actions.  What liberals like Michael Moore – who, to me, is just a blowhard even if I agree with some things he says – want us to do is pander to bigots and racists.

They want us to “reassure” these hateful people that they are not under attack.  I won’t, and I can’t, do that.

They are under attack for a reason.  Well, for several reasons, actually.  Their viewpoints that they hold represent:

Racism

Sexism

Xenophobia

Anti-Semitism

Anti-LGBT

And on and on.  These ideas, this yearning to return to a time when only straight, white men were listened to, and everyone else was either vilified or ignored, are not compatible with the values our country is supposed to stand for.