I am struck at how the news of Ukraine is being distorted in the Russian media in an effort to keep the Russian in the street from knowing of the atrocities being committed against Ukraine. Why should I be surprised? Russia has been fraught with propaganda for most of my life.
It is a way of life in authoritarian countries to publicly parrot and defend the party line and keep one’s personal assessment of the truth strictly private. “I have an opinion, but I don’t agree with it.” is a Russian joke that plays upon the state-enforced duplicity.
In China, it is also unsafe to be candid in criticism of the ruling party. As one Chinese national put it, “One never knows when the wind will change.” It may be OK to express dissent today, but your words once uttered may return later to haunt you.
While we find such fears foreign to us in America, legislators in Florida and Texas are actively working to suppress all sorts of views and information. Yes, it can happen here. With that in mind, read the following:
We are only as good as the information we get. Only as grounded, as enlightened, as capable of forming rational opinions about our political leaders and making intelligent decisions about our lives. If we’re fed lies, we’re lost. If we subsist on fiction, we dwell in a fantasyland. [Read more …]
I’m a capitalist. I believe in free enterprise, and I respect entrepreneurs who risk everything, confident they can build a thriving business because they believe they have something valuable to offer the rest of us.
But, I think that a person should always be willing to reassess how their beliefs serve them. My belief in free enterprise is no exception. Too much that’s going wrong in the world is driven by narrow business interests that conflict with the common good and public welfare.
Jim Hightower thinks so too. He attacks Monopoly Power in his October pamphlet The Hightower Lowdown.
That’s the mantra. Some people enjoy the drama they cause by triggering a confrontation and fueling the configuration. It’s akin to being an arsonist – a social arsonist. The result can be devastating to any community of shared interest.
Karen Tibbals names this destructive game in her current blog post:
In her book, “High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out,” journalist and author Amanda Ripley gives a name to people who fuel conflict: conflict entrepreneurs. She asks us to recognize those who delight in each new plot twist of a feud, those who make a concerted effort to fan the flames…
I’m seeing a lot of this in the political mail I get from the GOP. Half truths and outright lies are employed to fuel outrage and villify the motives of the Democrats and all those who criticize Republicans.
It’s particularly distressing that these tactics attack proposals and policies that have socially desirable reforms such as stopping tax fraud and closing loopholes. The GOP attack on reforms that would allow the IRS to spot high dollar tax evasion and enforce the law earned three Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s fact-checkers.
Nonetheless, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), restates the falsehood in his current email blast, the theme of which is to denigrate Democrats and exalt Republicans as virtuous defenders of truth, freedom, and the American way. Never mind the GOP’s determined efforts to stonewall voting rights or the investigation of the instigators of the January 6th insurrection.
Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they come back right. I hope we have reached the moment when rational Republicans decide to sink the extremist wing of their party instead of riding it to power and scuttling the democracy they have sworn to serve virtually every time they were installed in an official position.
Heather Cox Richardson gives an excellent summary of what is now going public about GOP loyalists having a moment of truth, an opportunity to change course and purge their party of its cancerous extremism.
Various writers, tongue-in-cheek, have urged that the Treasury Secretary mint a one trillion dollar coin and use it to buy back debt. This would resolve the debt ceiling crisis.
Whoa!, you say. If they just print more money, won’t that cause inflation? Maybe not. Money is created and destroyed all the time. Your bank routinely makes loans it doesn’t have the funds to cover. It is not required to have deposits equal to its loans. When the market price of housing, soybeans, or General Motors stock fluctuates, money is created or destroyed.
In its essence, money is only a promise to pay. We rely on the Federal Reserve to impose monetary policies that keep us as close to 2% annual inflation as they can. It’s an art, not a science.
The unknown is whether minting the coin would alter the world’s faith in our promise to repay.
There is little question that failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause the US to default on its existing debt. This would certainly shake faith in our monetary promises because we would be breaking them. So maybe the risk of minting the coin is small relative to the alternative of certain default.
Here’s my suggestion. Let’s mint eight of those $1T coins. Put Mitch McConnell’s likeness on one side and the GOP elephant on the obverse. Use them one at a time during Biden’s presidency to pay down the deficit and keep the economy rolling. Why eight coins? That’s about equal to the record-setting deficit that accrued under #45’s four-year term. So, it would be bold political theater to remind us all that the GOP is not fiscally more responsible than the Dems. Quite the opposite – they are willing to scuttle the economy and throw us into recession to game the political system.
The popular uprising against authoritarianism, tyranny, and deception has given rise to parody in song. The talent matches the cleverness. Enjoy!
The COVID-19 pandemic should not have become a political issue. But it is. Disregard for the practices that protect others became an expression of right-wing individualism. Late in the 2020 campaign the right began advocating for abandonment of the curve-flattening practices that slow contagion. Driven by the desire to restart the retail economy, GOP leadership flaunted maskless super-spreader events. While experts rallied to oppose this wrong-headed notion, the President persisted.
In the world of bikers, rules about wearing helmets are often considered overreach. One of the pleasures of motorcycles is being out in the elements: feeling the alternation of cool and warm air on your face, smelling fields and forests as you pass. The helmet is a barrier.
Likewise, the COVID-19 mask is shunned. But neither of these items of safety gear is for the wearer alone. Accidents and contagion affect many more people. This two sentence news item from Time Magazine dramatically underscores the far-reaching social consequences of ignoring precautions.
Fun loving, party hardy, macho bikers have cost society more that 12 billion ($12,000,000,000) plus spreading suffering that’s impossible to quantify.
I haven’t heard how the town of Sturgis is doing. Could it have been worth it when the economic benefits are accounted for? This is a preview and a demo of what may happen this fall. The administration continues to downplay the threat. The president and his faithful followers continue to scorn mask use. Yes, he’s grudgingly begun to appear wearing a mask, but he makes no bones about not liking it.
Meanwhile the death rate hovers at 5,000 souls a week and experts estimate it will rise from the present 200,000 total to over 400,000 in December. At one point the president and some of his staff proffered the idea of letting COVID-19 run its course so that herd immunity could develop and the people’s lives (and the all-important economy) could return to normal. The Lincoln Project has vividly panned this bad idea in a recent political ad.
The ad is over-the-top harsh, and my initial reaction was that it’s deceptive. But then I considered the president’s actions of late. He’s pressured the CDC to recommend NOT testing people who are not symptomatic. He’s holding maskless rallies in indoor venues. He’s pressured schools to open before they are prepared to do so safely. The GOP legislature hasn’t passed enabling legislation, so the Democratic Governor’s mitigation rules have been declared unconstitutional. The President routinely contradicts his own experts’ assessments of risks and the timeline for vaccine protection. And he’s attacking mail-in ballots to necessitate in-person voting at crowded polling places.
All of those acts would be consistent with a plan to reopen and briefly enjoy the election week illusion of normalcy while COVID-19 does its grim work. Although millions would eventually die, the surviving 99% would be “fine.”
For years I’ve said that Americans are being played. The GOP convention presentations performances were worthy of P. T. Barnum: a circus of deceptions.
The Democrats focused on character: positively for Biden and negatively for Trump. The Republicans? They presented political drama with the sole purpose of reshaping our perception of reality. It was an epic of gaslighting. They ignored the crucial threat of climate change, and denied bungling the US COVID-19 response. With nobody to blame but themselves, they instead spoke as if the pandemic was already history.
As has become a pattern for President Trump, the GOP presented themselves as the future solution to a problem they have created: violent protests. Since the Nixon Administration, the criminal justice system has been the primary way that the GOP addresses the persistent problems of inequality and poverty – beat it down.
Numerous journalists and news commentators have documented how the facts don’t support the GOP rhetoric. Robert Reich and Nicholas Kristoff’s opinions are below. I’ve saved the best for last – Don’t miss Doug Muder’s brilliant analysis revealing the four big lies hidden in the many little ones that are so very obvious.
Opinion | The Lawbreakers Trump Loves
He uses scare tactics about “law and order.” But what distinguishes this White House is its ties to criminals.
Trump’s Record for lack of character.
Trump’s character, actually his lack of it, is clear to all except the more ardent followers. There have been almost daily revelations. Many would have been terminally scandelous in other times. McSweeney’s is a satire site. Yet the list their editors published appears to be a straight-up and credible catalog of #45’s venality.
Lest We Forget the Horrors: A Catalog of Trump’s Worst Cruelties, Collusions, Corruptions, and Crimes: The Complete Listing (So Far): Atrocities 1-842
To be read before the 2020 Presidential Election. Register to vote here.
– – -Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalo…
Years ago I challenged DJT’s followers on Facebook to contribute something, anything, they could think of that would qualify as an act of Trump altruism or selflessness in service of the public good. I have yet to receive an item. One MAGA woman said she was much too busy to enumerate them, but she was sure there were many. I did, eventually, learn of one on my own — he donates his salary of $200,000 a year as President to charity, according to the White House. We’ll let that be and not speculate on his motives. Also, we won’t calculate any offset for the emoluments and collateral revenue his properties accrue, or the compensation his family accepts. The cost of accommodating his Secret Service entourage at his Mar-a-Lago property already about equals his total pay to date. I don’t have the tab for Bedminster.
At the convention, followers sought to persuade us that the private Donald Trump was a caring and compassionate person. We are not to believe what we see in public to be truly representative of the inner man it seems.
Not surprisingly, there was no convention discussion of honesty or truthfulness. The Washington Post’s tally of false or misleading statements (“lies” to speak plainly) has passed 20,000. Have you ever heard him admit to any error or personal failing? He is big on blaming anyone but himself.
The Big Liar Ends the RNC With Big Lies About Himself and Biden
Trump ended the convention as it began — with efforts to salvage his record, make out Biden as a radical, frighten suburbanites, and ignore COVID-19.
His accomplishments? Many of those listed by right-wing conservatives are regarded as grievous mistakes by those concerned about peace, integrity, equality, and stewardship.
A Most Consequential Presidency
Trump has also changed the character and composition of the GOP, making it more of a working- and middle-class party. Where George H.W. Bush sought to build a “New World Order” with Ame…
Prior to his election in 2016 most of the leading newspapers in the US published editorials saying Trump was unqualified. He was not presidential material they argued. Many of his latterday followers at the time agreed as the Lincoln Project demonstrates. Even ex-members of his own administration agree.
Four Big Lies Concealed by all the Obvious Smaller Ones.
Doug Muder crafted a brilliant example of critical thinking and analysis that is rich in factual support and draws on many sources to validate the assertions he makes. If you are interested in seeing how Americans are being played, this post analyzes how our perception is manipulated, read it carefully, Compare it for style and content with the opinions you see from right-leaning media. We’ll see what plays out over the next weeks of the campaign.
The Four Big Lies of the Republican Convention
Creationism defender Duane Gish became famous for a debating technique now known as the Gish Gallop: tossing out so many lies, exaggerations, mischaracterizations, and other deceptions so quickly t…
A group of guys I meet with every two weeks has read On Tyrannyby Timothy Snyder. All of them are serious people (Insurance Executive, College President, Clinical Psychologist, Landscape Architect [Viet Nam Memorial], and a Merrill Lynch executive.) Their consensus is shared alarm and fear for America. None of us are sure that DJT won’t steal the election, though we are all committed to preventing that. We know that 40%, the Trumpists, will vote Republican without thinking or even considering anything but the propaganda from GOP and Fox. The question is, how many more low information voters will be taken in? And how many will be too confused orcomplacent to vote.
It’s not hyperbole to say that democracy is at risk.
Most critical thinkers recognize that opinions from this man have little to do with fact, wisdom, or analytical thinking. Most of the time you would do better deciding something with the flip of a coin than with reliance upon His Nibs. You can’t be sure if he’s lying, misinformed, or making it up for appearance sake. But you can be sure that he will take no responsibility for adverse outcomes.
No, we don’t really care if you disagree, but we do care if you start meddling and bullying better informed people.
My son’s experience provides two examples of what thoughtful, wise people are doing. His eldest returns to Tufts this fall. The president of Tufts is a medical doctor. The school has a complex and detailed strategy for COVID-19. It includes contagion control measures that limit the mixing of different groups of students, extensive testing and tracking for the outbreaks that will surely occurr, and contingency plans for controlling them.
My son is himself the head of a private high school with 125 students. They will be opening in the fall, and he has a complex and nuanced plan that is based upon contagion control measures, a four tiered contingency plan, and testing and monitoring.
So if these schools can do it, why can’t all schools? Here’s what investigative reporter Judd Legum says.
With confirmed coronavirus cases rising in dozens of states, school districts now have to decide whether to reopen schools in the fall. Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts announced on Monday that they would only offer remote instruction in the fall. The two school districts, which together enroll about 825,000 students, issued a joint statement explaining the decision:
…One fact is clear: those countries that have managed to safely reopen schools have done so with declining infection rates and on-demand testing available. California has neither. The skyrocketing infection rates of the past few weeks make it clear the pandemic is not under control.
…This announcement represents a significant disappointment for the many thousands of teachers, administrators and support staff, who were looking forward to welcoming students back in August. It is obviously an even greater disappointment to the many parents who are anxious for their students to resume their education. Most of all, this decision will impact our students in ways that researchers will take years to understand.
Both districts hope to reopen their physical campuses sometime in the 2020-21 academic year. But, as they alluded to in their statement, the impact of the continued closure of schools could be severe. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) detailed some of the consequences:
The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation. This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality. Beyond the educational impact and social impact of school closures, there has been substantial impact on food security and physical activity for children and families.
The problem with His Nibs ungrounded opinion is that our children become pawns in this lethal test of wills. It looks like the hidden agenda in this political game is Betsy DeVoss’ desire to fund “faith based” schools with vouchers, thus fostering the teaching of religious dogma and pseudo-science like creationism.