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The Enemy Is Not At The Gate But At Our Table

14/02/2017

The terrible thing about authoritarianism is that it robs one of moral agency.

That’s a fenchy-smenchy way of saying it takes away your individual moral responsibility.

“I was told…”

“The boss said…”

“According to the book…”

In each case the individual surrenders their ability to make a choice for good or ill and lets somebody else decide for them.

On occasion, this is good:
It speeds things up and prevents low level functionaries from making a mess of establish procedure.

But there’s also several magnitudes of difference between a check-out clerk who won’t give a refund without a receipt because of store policy, and a person who refuses to help a desperate person simply because the paperwork has been filled out incorrectly.

In the first case, one can always push it up to a manager or other higher authority figure; even if denied the person seeking the refund is unlikely to suffer great personal harm. In the latter, one may see that will befall a person, and simply avoid doing anything about it because one can hide behind authority. “Hey, I didn’t want to sends those Jews back to Nazi Germany, but their papers weren’t in order and the regulations are clear.”

Authority offers a comfort factor:
In an authoritarian environment, everybody knows their place.* Theoretically, when the old king dies the new king – even if only a child – immediately steps in, and things proceed in an orderly fashion.**

When many people feel their world shifting unfamiliarly around them, when they’re no longer certain or comfortable where societal boundaries lay, then they turn to authoritarianism.

A big hunk of this comes from fear of losing status, safety, and security to change. As human beings we are almost always more comfortable / less anxious if things stay the way they’ve always been.

“’Twas ever thus.”

But not everybody enjoys their current or past status, and many want that status changed, at least to the point where they feel safe and secure.

Too often those with the old mind set cannot grasp why they can’t continue acting and talking the way they once had — they have no problem with it and literally can’t imagine why anyone else would.

I remember in grade school, way back in the 1960s, hearing a sweet little white haired old lady ask after church, “Well, what’s so wrong with calling them n[bomb]s? That’s what they are.”

Racism is authority in the form of tradition: We have always had this system, ergo we must always have this system.

And since racism hinges so much on shoring up the status of the dominant group, it’s no surprise members of said group flock to comfort under certain authoritarian banners.

They want something to make them feel safe and secure, and gladly surrender heart, mind, and soul.

I am not a racist,” they proclaim, and in their specific definition that’s true.

But it doesn’t mater if you personally kick your neighbor’s teeth in or if you merely say nothing while somebody else kicks their teeth in if the end result is the same: Your neighbor gets their teeth kicked in.

We are now engaged in the opening salvos of a great test of our national character, one in which we shall see if we truly do believe in liberty & justice for all and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, or will throw it all away in a desperate yet futile attempt to cling to a past that not only no longer exists, but never really existed in the first place and certainly can’t be summoned forth now.

There will be no neutrals in this struggle. There may be peacemakers, but those peacemakers will not be neutral.

We have failed — in fact, have been failing for a long, long time — our tests of moral character. We need to choose wisely so we do not destroy ourselves entirely.

Nobody thought Byzantium would fall…

…until it did.

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* And if that doesn’t sound offense and demeaning to you, it’s because you don’t feel the sting…yet.

** Theoretically. And that has happened on many an occasion. The pages of history, however, are well saturated with blood in all the places where it didn’t and pretenders to the throne went to war over heirs-apparent.

 

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Symbol Status

8/02/2017

[see “Two Sides, One Coin” and “A Walking Contradiction…”]

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There’s a concept called the hierarchy of needs and it basically boils down to this: As soon as your most basic level of needs are met (i.e., you have air / water / food), you forget about them and progress to the next level of needs (i.e., shelter and clothing for protection from danger and harsh elements), and then to the next level (i.e., securing a stable source / supply of those needs), and so on and so on until you get to the need for status.

And today, despite people complaining about crushing debt and limited buying power and lack of affordable health care, we are by and large living fat ‘n’ sassy and can afford to worry about status.

Our economic system has spent literally centuries telling workers that they were useless unless they produced wealth for someone else.

Even so-called self-made gazillionaires were producing wealth for investors and stockholders, not exclusively for themselves.

Anybody who tries going off the grid is dismissed as an impractical eccentric at best and a kook at worse.

Culturally, it’s even more daunting. It doesn’t matter if you are a bona fide hermit or a California nature lover or a self-contained religious cult or an early Delta blues musician or a jazz player or a rock’n’roller or a Greenwich village bohemian or a Beat or a hippie: If you opt out of the rat race, if you set your own goals, if you establish your own standards then you are suspect at best, despised most likely, and actively persecuted with depressing frequency.

We are expected to participate in the grand scheme of things.

The model created at the beginning of the industrial revolution is no longer viable:   Large numbers of human beings aren’t needed to grow food or make things; most of those jobs can be eliminated.

What do we replace them with if not a consumer society?
How can you have consumers if they have no money with which to consume?

The average human being travels in a relatively small community.

I’m not referring to actual physical location, but to the people who make that community up.

Most people have about 250 people in their lives whom they interact with enough to be comfortable with.*

Facebook and other social media lets us have thousands of ”friends” but in truth once one starts growing their Facebook friend list beyond a hundred or so people, one discovers those people are really fans or followers, people who find something interesting in your posts and keep an eye on what you’re doing.

Which is fine.

Nothing wrong with that.

But there’s a core of around 250 people who matter to us, even if they’re just Facebook friends or pen pals.

We want them to look favorably on us.

That’s status.

Real status.

Even among the world of celebrities and / or billionaires, there’s only 250 people they’re trying to impress.

They may want fame and fortune so that millions of schmoes will envy them, but having millions of schmoes envying them is how their 250 friends rank status.

We have an economy and attendant culture based on making / moving / marketing things.

We encourage people to consume things not for the obvious basic reasons of pure survival, but because by conspicuous consumption our status may be displayed to the rest of society.

Expensive shit stuff >means> “They make a lot of money” >means> “They must be important.”

We literally live in a culture based on this deliberate and incessant perversion of the Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt covet…

Our digital world is undercutting all this.

We no longer need to physically possess something in order to enjoy it.

We don’t need ownership for much of what we want, merely access.

So why do we need things to display status?

Consider a society / culture / world in which status was adjudged by doing something.

Hard to imagine?

Why?

That’s the world most people lived in the western world in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and early part of the 20th century.

That’s the world of classical Greece, of pre-Columbian American, of the Polynesian peoples.

A world rich with amateur and semi-pro athletics, of literary and art guilds, of amateur musical groups ranging from choirs to brass bands to full symphonic orchestras, of amateur theatrical troupes, of home makers displaying their skills and competing in local / regional / national competitions, of animal shows, of gardening clubs, of a thousand and one special interest groups, all built around the concept of their members doing things.

Read any history of popular culture in those eras. People worked hard, but had no mass produced diversions; they had to entertain themselves.

What happened to that world?

Consumer economy, that’s what.

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[to be continued]

* “Comfortable” here does not necessarily mean pleasant, merely that both sides know their respective roles in the relationship and can thus anticipate what the other will do in a given situation.

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007 in 008 words

2/02/2017

007 thunderball underwater cropped

kill all the men
boff all the babes

007 thunderball_art

art by Robert McGinnis

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The Impossible Dream lyrics by Joe Darion

21/01/2017

To dream…
the impossible dream
To fight…
the unbeatable foe
To bear…
with unbearable sorrow
To run…
where the brave dare not go
To right…
the unrightable wrong
To love…
pure and chaste from afar
To try…
when your arms are too weary
To reach…
the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a Heavenly cause

And I know
if I’ll only be true

To this glorious quest
That my heart
will lie peaceful and calm

When I’m laid to my rest

And the world…
will be better for this
That one man…
scorned and covered with scars
Still strove…
with his last ounce of courage
To reach 
the unreachable star!

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A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan

20/01/2017

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?

I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?

I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?

I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
I heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
I heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?

I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded in hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?

I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.;
renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

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Trouble Every Day lyrics by Frank Zappa

20/01/2017

Well I’m about to get sick
From watchin’ my TV
Been checkin’ out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it’s gonna change, my friend
Is anybody’s guess

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Wednesday I watched the riot…
Seen the cops out on the street
Watched ’em throwin’ rocks and stuff
And chokin’ in the heat
Listened to reports
About the whisky passin’ ’round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin’ down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash
And slash and bust and burn

And I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Well, you can cool it,
You can heat it…
‘Cause, baby, I don’t need it…
Take your TV tube and eat it
‘N all that phony stuff on sports
‘N all the unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head begin to hurt
From checkin’ out the way
The newsman say they get the dirt
Before the guys on channel so-and-so

And further they assert
That any show they’ll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say that if the place blows up
They will be the first to tell,
Because the boys they got downtown
Are workin’ hard and doin’ swell,
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street,
They say that no one blabs it faster
Their coverage can’t be beat

And if another woman driver
Gets machine-gunned from her seat
They’ll send some joker with a brownie
And you’ll see it all complete

So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’
Hopin’ for the best
Even think I’ll go to prayin’
Every time I hear ’em sayin’
That there’s no way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day

Hey, you know something people?
I’m not black
But there’s a whole lots a times
I wish I could say I’m not white

Well, I seen the fires burnin’
And the local people turnin’
On the merchants and the shops
Who used to sell their brooms and mops
And every other household item
Watched the mob just turn and bite ’em
And they say it served ’em right
Because a few of them are white,
And it’s the same across the nation
Black and white discrimination
Yellin’ “You can’t understand me!”
‘N all that other jazz they hand me
In the papers and TV and
All that mass stupidity
That seems to grow more every day
Each time you hear some nitwit say
He wants to go and do you in
Because the color of your skin
Just don’t appeal to him
(No matter if it’s black or white)
Because he’s out for blood tonight

You know we got to sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won’t be many live
To see it really end
‘Cause the fire in the street
Ain’t like the fire in the heart
And in the eyes of all these people
Don’t you know that this could start
On any street in any town
In any state if any clown
Decides that now’s the time to fight
For some ideal he thinks is right
And if a million more agree
There ain’t no Great Society
As it applies to you and me
Our country isn’t free
And the law refuses to see
If all that you can ever be
Is just a lousy janitor
Unless your uncle owns a store
You know that five in every four
Just won’t amount to nothin’ more
Gonna watch the rats go across the floor
And make up songs about being poor

Blow your harmonica, son!

wotp-frank_zappa

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A Walking Contradiction…

9/01/2017

[see “Two Sides, One Coin”]

Before delving into why it will be more important to play than work as this century progresses, let’s spend a few more moments looking at the internal contradiction of the middle class trump voter.

Mother Jones recently ran an in-depth article culled from the book Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right on white Louisiana tea partiers and why they voted for trump. The author, Arlie Russell Hochschild, made an honest effort to understand the tea partiers, spending five years getting to know them and allowing them to speak for themselves.

However, as anybody who has ever watched Errol Morris at work, the way you strike gold in an interview is to just let the subject/s talk.

The more they talk, the more they reveal…

“Sharon also faced economic uncertainty. A divorced mother of two, she supported herself and two children on an ample but erratic income, all from commission on her Aflac sales [of health insurance to working class families]. ‘If you’re starting out, you might get 99 “noes” for every one “yes.” After 16 years on the job, I get 50 percent “yeses.”’ This put her at the top among Aflac salespeople; still, she added, ‘If it’s a slow month, we eat peanut butter.’
“Until a few years ago, Sharon had also collected rent from 80 tenants in a trailer court. Her ex-husband earned $40,000 as a sales manager at Pacific Sunwear, she explained, and helped with child support; altogether it allowed her to pay her children’s tuition at a parochial school and stay current on the mortgage of a tastefully furnished, spacious ranch house in suburban Moss Bluff. She lived in the anxious middle.
“And from this vantage point, the lives of renters in her trailer park, called Crestwood Community, had both appalled and unnerved her. Some of her tenants, 80 percent of whom were white, had matter-of-factly admitted to lying to get Medicaid and food stamps. When she’d asked a boy her son’s age about his plans for the future, he answered, ‘I’m just going to get a [disability] check, like my mama.’ Many renters had been, she told me, able-bodied, idle, and on disability…
“…Unable to pay an astronomical water bill, Sharon had been forced to close the trailer park, giving residents a month’s notice and provoking their resentment.
“In truth, Sharon felt relief. Her renters, she said, had been a hard-living lot. A jealous boyfriend had murdered his girlfriend. Some men drank and beat their wives. One man had married his son’s ex-wife. Beyond that, Sharon had felt unfairly envied by them. ‘I’ve been called a rich bitch. They think Miss Sharon lives the life of Riley.’ And while her home was a 25-minute drive away, the life of her renters had felt entirely too close for comfort. ‘You couldn’t talk to anyone at Crestwood whose teeth weren’t falling out, gums black, missing teeth,’ adding that she gave out toothbrushes and toothpaste one Christmas. ‘My kids make fun of me because I brush my teeth so much.’
“To her, the trailer park both did and did not feel worlds away. For one thing, a person’s standard of living, their worldview and basic identity, seemed already set on a floor of Jell-O. Who could know for sure how you would fare in the era of an expanding bottom, spiking top, and receding middle class?”

A pause before we continue:
If you want the summation of the ills of this country, indeed the ills of the Western world, look no further. The slickee boiz and the demagogues both prey on the same fundamental Achilles’ heel, the stark terror the middle class feels at the thought of slipping from their precarious position and sliding even lower.

It is how this country, particularly the southern states, managed to keep a lid on disadvantaged poor whites* by deliberately suppressing and demonizing African-Americans, shoving them down to an even lower level of cultural depravity, then telling the poor whites they were “lucky” (read: “Better behave yourself, boy”) they were white, otherwise their disgrace and degeneration would be absolute.

It is how that lid is maintained to this day, fostering resentment among an anxious middle class that “they” — whoever those unworthies are — are not just stealing from the middle class but actively threatening them by undermining their status.

And conversely, the 1% — like a slick con man shilling the rubes with 3-Card Monte — diverts the lower classes’ attention and thought away from the real owners and instead directs it towards the struggling middle class as the authors of lower class misery.

” As we drove from the trailer park to her home, Sharon reflected on human ambition: “You can just see it in some guys’ eyes; they’re aiming higher. They don’t want a handout.” This was the central point of one of Sharon’s favorite books, Barefoot to Billionaire, by oil magnate Jon Huntsman Sr. (whose son ran in the 2012 Republican presidential primary). Ambition was good. Earning money was good. The more money you earned, the more you could give to others. Giving was good. So ambition was the key to goodness, which was the basis for pride.
“If you could work, even for pennies, receiving government benefits was a source of shame. It was okay if you were one of the few who really needed it, but not otherwise. Indignation at the overuse of welfare spread, in the minds of tea party supporters I got to know, to the federal government itself, and to state and local agencies. A retired assistant fire chief in Lake Charles told me, ‘I got told we don’t need an assistant fire chief. A lot of people around here don’t like any public employees, apart from the police.’ His wife said, ‘We were making such low pay that we could have been on food stamps every month and other welfare stuff. And [an official] told our departments that if we went and got food stamps or welfare it would look bad for Lake Charles so that he would fire us.’ A public school teacher complained, ‘I’ve had people tell me, “It’s the teachers who need to pass the kids’ tests.” They have no idea what I know.’ A social worker who worked with drug addicts said, ‘I’ve been told the church should take care of addicts, not the government.’ Both receivers and givers of public services were tainted — in the eyes of nearly all I came to know — by the very touch of government.
“Sharon especially admired Albert, a middle-aged sheet metal worker who could have used help but was too proud to ask for it. ‘He’s had open-heart surgery. He’s had stomach surgery. He’s had like eight surgeries. He’s still working, though. He wants to work. He’s got a daughter in jail — her third DUI, so he’s raising her son — and this and that. But he doesn’t want anything from the government. He’s such a neat guy.’ There was no mention of the need for a good alcoholism rehab program for his daughter or after-school programs for his grandson. Until a few days before his death Albert continued working, head high, shame-free.”

There in lays the other part of the equation, the secret by which the 1% manipulates the working and middle classes: We have a society that teaches one’s value and status can only be determined by the amount of money you make working for somebody else.

[to be continued]

*  Referred to by the aristocracy who imported them for labor as “poor white trash” literally from the moment they stepped off the boat.

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A Strategy For 2017

1/01/2017

Where appropriate and possible, remind people…

Trump Is A Fake: A fraud, a phony, a proven liar, a con man who always cheats workers and employees and partners and investors, a stooge for banks and billionaires, and Putin’s puppet.

Republicans Wreck America: They vote against the best interests of the people who voted for them in order to serve their billionaire donors, cutting programs that their voters want for veterans, the sick, the elderly, and children.

The Far Right Always Lies: They accuse others of what they are guilty of, they deny real problems, they smear people who point out those problems, they promise much but deliver nothing, they protect those who rob this country.

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That’s the short version, here’s the full explanation:
There’s a long struggle ahead of us, a generation long crisis that’s not going to be solved in a single election cycle. It needs to be resisted consistently and constantly, but in a manner that does not wear out its welcome among those who can be persuaded.

Don’t introduce these points in venues or conversations where the discussion is about something else; wait until somebody makes a statement favoring the things we oppose.

Counter that statement and that statement only. Be polite but firm. Don’t stoop to insults, but a careful measured response can be humiliating without being insulting.

Try to avoid more than two responses if on public forums. After you make your point, post something to the effect of “let’s not spoil this thread for others by continuing this further” and let them have the last word.

That makes them the jerks.

If the venue or conversation is one appropriate for lengthy discussion (say an ongoing discussion on politics), stay and keep up the fight, but again strive to remain courteous in all responses and don’t rise to their bait.

If they meltdown, let them. Be the adult and walk away.

We are not going to win back the deplorables, but we can wake up the deluded.

The three main points to keep repeating are:
Trump Is A Fake +
Republicans Wreck America +
The Far Right Always Lies
Don’t go outside those three topics; the message needs to stay clear and easily definable so everybody can grasp them.

A general observation among preachers / teachers / salesmen / public speakers is that most audiences won’t / can’t / don’t want to remember more than three points, and the more arcane or nuanced those points, the harder they are to remember.

So keep the basic message simple:
Trump Is A Fake +
Republicans Wreck America +
The Far Right Always Lies

Under each of those headings above, note the highlighted words. These are short / clear / precise / easily grasped words and phrases that reinforce each central thesis.

Do not introduce those words unless or until challenged. Don’t try to lay out a long / lengthy / nuanced / detailed case — K.I.S.S. Keep It Simply Simple.

(You’ll notice I didn’t use “Keep It Simple, Stupid” which was the original phrase. That’s because as much fun as it is to kick cripples down stairs or abuse those who aren’t as smart, it makes the person doing it look bad, and by extension undermines their argument. So stay relentlessly polite, even when taunted and insulted.)

Use those words & phrases or similar to convey the basic points in each paragraph. Always present them as undeniable facts in the initial post or conversation, don’t elaborate / equivocate / explain.

However, if challenged or asked, have data ready to back you up. If you haven’t already, start a list of news items / essays / blog posts that back up and elaborate each of the smaller points. CAUTION: Do not — repeat, not — use fake news or partisan sites that have not backed up their posts with verifiable facts.   DO YOUR RESEARCH and keep the list on your phone / tablet / desktop so you can respond quickly to a challenge or an inquiry.

I repeat, this is going to be a long struggle and we are not going to win it any time soon BUT WE WILL WIN IN THE END.

Right now there are millions of anxious people who have foolishly listened to the slickee boiz, ignoring all the bad things said and done because those voters are afraid for their families and their futures.

Those voters — even the ones who are registered as Republicans and involved in local politics — are not the deplorables (i.e., the flat out overt racists / sexists / religious bigots who flocked to trump and the GOP this election). They are basically common, decent, ordinary folks who are very realistically worried about where things are heading but who unfortunately have been badly served by those who did not get the progressive message across effectively and by slickee boiz who capitalized on their fears to rob them blind.

Those voters are not our enemy; those voters are our potential allies and when things go south for the slicksters, those voters will be the ones most susceptible to changing their minds and changing their votes —

— but only if we don’t demonize them in the process.

That is going to be a challenge for many of us, particularly those in minority or outlier groups who are being specifically targeted by the deplorables.

It is, however, a fact we are going to have to take in account for the next twenty-plus years.

(Remember Italy started WWII on the Axis side but, as they realized Mussolini was being used by Hitler and the Italian people were suffering because of it, overthrew the fascist regime and switched sides to join the Allies. So instead of having to subdue three enemies, the Allies only had to subdue two and could use their new Italian ally as a staging area for the war against the Nazis.)

I publish this strategy openly because it is based on one great weapon: The Truth.

The only way they can counter this is with lies, but their lies are of such a nature that they eventually blow up in their faces.

Three simple main points — Trump Is A Fake + Republicans Wreck America + The Far Right Always Lies — repeated long enough and straight forwardly enough will, like a constant drip of water, produce the desired result.

To mash two Mark Twain quotes together, a lie may get around the world while the truth is still getting its shoes on, but the truth has the great advantage of having fewer things to remember.

And while we are not sitting in a strategically good position on this, the first day of January 2017, remember also what Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller said when he and his Marines were surrounded by ten divisions of Chinese infantry at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War:

“Great. Now we can shoot at those bastards from every direction.”

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Two Sides, One Coin

30/12/2016

The Nation recently posted an article on how the great gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson accurately predicted the political anger that fueled many of trump’s voters last November.

“…a belief in total retaliation for any offense or insult, is what makes the Hell’s Angels unmanageable for the police and morbidly fascinating to the general public. Their claim that they ‘don’t start trouble’ is probably true more often than not, but their idea of ‘provocation’ is dangerously broad, and their biggest problem is that nobody else seems to understand it. Even dealing with them personally, on the friendliest terms, you can sense their hair-trigger readiness to retaliate.”

”The ethics of retaliation” is a good insight on the motivation behind many — perhaps most — of trump’s supporters.

While it certainly includes many bona fide deplorables — i.e., those outright overt white racists who flocked so eagerly into trump’s camp — it also includes a lot of rank and file non-racist / non-sexist / non-bigoted people.

But here’s what The Nation overlooks:
Those engaged in the ethics of retaliation were not merely active pro-trump voters but passive aggressive Democratic voters who failed to show up for Clinton.

I’ve been paying attention to what a lot of trump voters have been saying and posting in the aftermath of the election.

Excluding those extremists who’re simply looking for validation of their malignant views, when you read the bulk of Trump voters’ posts (particularly white trump voters) and find the linking themes, you see two things:

They want security,
and they want status.

Now security covers a lot of territory, but everyone seems to be on page with living in a world where change occurs at a manageable pace, giving people time to adjust and prepare; people aren’t anxious for daily bread for themselves and their families (and this includes housing, health care, etc.); protection from random violence, be it common crime, terrorism, or enemy attack.

Status is less tangible, but it includes a sense of self-sufficiency insofar as one’s security needs are met primarily through one’s own efforts, and that one isn’t regarded as worthless by society.

Those last two thoughts are tightly linked, because the mindset behind them holds one either pulls their own weight or is a parasite.

It creates a tension with the desire for security because unless one is a hermit living in an isolated area with enough naturally growing food to survive and no humans or predators to fear, sooner or later you have to cooperate with other people for your mutual aid and protection.

To be secure, you need the cooperation of others…

To have status, you have to stand on your own…

As has been noted here and elsewhere, there were a lot of Very Unhappy People in this country, and they were unhappy for some very specific reasons.

Many of those reasons are irreversible:
We’re not bringing back the coal industry (it’s dying and has been for decades), we’re not bringing back manufacturing jobs (they’re not being shipped overseas or taken by immigrants so much as they are by machines), we’re not going to shore up cultural norms that were already starting to fade at the end of WWII.

We are on the cusp of a huge sea-change in human civilization, one that is going to alter everything for everyone around the world.

If we insist on playing the same old game, there’s going to be a lot of blood and pain and suffering for a lot of people.

If we listen to what people want, if we address those needs, we can avoid it and have a better tomorrow for everyone.

The key word is “everyone”.

Right now, today in the US of A, the two parties are mired down by ideological differences that are making it impossible to find viable real solutions to the problems facing us.

That’s got to stop.

They will not change themselves.

trump is a wake-up call — rather, trump is a big 55-gallon barrel of ice cold skunk juice dumped on the bed. The angry / upset / frightened / pissed off people who voted for him want some changes, and if those changes aren’t for the best and don’t come muy pronto we can expect some really ugly changes over the next twenty years.

If we all recognize that changes must be made, and that for anybody to survive then everybody must survive, then we can drastically shift not just this country but the rest of the world into something better.

But we are going to need to make the change together.

Otherwise nobody is going to make it at all.

The trump voters and Clinton non-voters were promised a Leave It To Beaver / Ozzie And Harriet future but that’s not happening. There are no meaningful jobs to pay them high wages and salaries so they can enjoy a faux-luxurious life.

And why should there be?

When you try talking to most economist or fans of libertarianism and / or laissez-faire, you find a shocking paucity of imagination: They cannot conceive of the world continuing to operate the way they have known it to operate all their lives.

They will argue that free markets have always existed and have always made the world a better place while conveniently overlooking the fact that for most of humanity’s history the divine right of kings and the use of armies of human slaves / peasants to get things done were the norm and only in the last three centuries have significant departures been made from that.

We are now seeing the dawning of yet another major change in the way the world will operate and that change is this: Very few humans will need to work.

No, strike that — very few humans will be needed to work.

We will have machines to do most jobs done by humans today, everything from brain surgery to replacing toilets (essentially the same basic programming when you think about it) to driving vehicles to a million and one things we can’t even think of them doing today.

The handful of humans who will be needed will fill very specialized niches, and will be rewarded quite handsomely for their efforts.

The vast majority of human beings
won’t have to do a damn thing.

Now, today’s economists — particularly those of a capitalist bent — will clutch their piles of ill-gotten wealth even closer to their bosoms and hiss ”parasites” at the thoughts of all those unemployed people, decrying them as useless.

Au contraire.

Those non-working people will be crucial to the economy of the future.

We’re going to pay them.

Not to work.
To play.

[to be continued]

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Let’s Look At How Santa Claus Is Portrayed In Other Countries

21/12/2016

relatos_de_presidio_no780

 …okay, let’s not…

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