Posts Tagged ‘Politics of Fear’

                                                           Image from CNN 7-7-2017

Lately I’ve been incredibly puzzled by how little most Americans know or even care about Russia meddling in our elections. The news has been trickling in for some time and as an IT professional and former computer programmer professor with 20 years of experience in computer programming, I can tell you that it is probably worse than you know.  If you want to stay updated on the Russian story, the BEST site I’ve found to date is https://investigaterussia.org/, aka, the Committee to Investigate Russia.  Created by a bipartisan group consisting of experts and advocates (a couple of names you are probably already familiar with like James Clapper and Rob Reiner are on the advisory board), this site catalogs news articles from reputable sources, lists all of the key players (who are easy to get confused, especially with the long hard to pronounce Russian names), explains the various public investigations that are ongoing, and keeps track of timelines in the investigations.  I found the site by listening to Jacki Schechner on the Bob Cesca Show.  Jacki has a long history in the news business and her latest project has been to launch this news aggregation site launched.  It’s finally online and I STRONGLY encourage you to check it out.

Here’s a BRIEF summary of what we know.  The Russians attempted to hack 39 states and in at least one instance, tried to delete and alter voter data.  We know during the Democratic primaries that many Bernie voters complained that their change in registration from Independent to Democratic parties did not occur properly and so they were unable to vote in the closed primary.  In other instances many longtime Democratic voters were inexplicably given provisional ballots.  This led Bernie Sanders to file complaints, which in turn led to Hillary supporters becoming defensive and voila the damage was done.  The Left continues to argue among itself to this day and Putin is loving every moment of it.

We know that Putin engaged in a disinformation campaign and that it has been an unprecedented success on many levels.

  • He has succeeded in undermining our confidence in our democratic institutions.   If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times.  The hackers didn’t need to hack our voting machines to mess with vote tallies, they only needed to mess with our voter registrations.  There is mounting evidence that they did just that.  Now many people, including myself, don’t trust our election process.
  • He has succeeded in suborning the Executive Branch.  Herr Orangenfuhrerhas shown a pattern of letting Russia get away with far too much** (see Sources 4-7 at bottom).  The Executive Branch is being lead by a man who is, for all practical purposes, Putin’s “poleznyje idiot” or “useful idiot”.
  • He has succeeded in subverting the Legislative Branch.  Congress, under the control of the GOP, has been blocking progress into the investigation while mouthing crap about “being concerned”.  I don’t want to hear about how my Senator, John McCain is concerned.  I want to hear about how he and his colleagues are doing something to 1) stop the current collusion with Russia and 2) to stop it from happening again in the future.  Neither of which is happening.
  • He has succeeded in taking advantage of our ignorance and our openness.  Part of the problem is that the information has been trickling in and from so many different sources.  Another part of the problem is that it involves technology that most people don’t understand.  And yet another problem is our short attention span.  The final part of the problem is that far too many on both the Right and the Left are knowingly and unknowingly carrying Putin’s water.  The Right is repeating Trump’s BS rhetoric about “Fake News”.  It also doesn’t help that some on the left (like Jill Stein, Bernie Bros, and Russian plants pretending to be Bernie Bros) not only pushed anti-Hillary news but are now pushing the “Fake News” line of thinking as well.   As a result, unfortunately, too many Americans in the middle are throwing up their hands and saying, “We don’t know who to trust!”  All this confusion is EXACTLY what Putin wants.

Is it any wonder that the American people are too distracted and confused?!  Unfortunately, we need to pay attention to this story.  I honestly believe that this is the beginning of the end for our Democracy IF we don’t respond appropriately to this crisis.

Make no mistake about it–Russia attacked us.  They have attacked and are continuing to attack our democracy and we all need to wake up and pay attention.  We need to stay on top of this story and push Congress to do something about it.   Check out the “Committee to Investigate Russia“.

Notes:
*I refuse now and forever to give Trump the title of President.
**Too many articles to cite in that one sentence but a few are listed below (see sources 4-7)…I could go on and on
***These sources are listed in no particular order.  I have been trying to avoid any sources that might be of Russian origin but it is very hard to know who to trust.  For instance, I know that RT.com is basically Russian propaganda but there are many bloggers who seem to have a Russian/Wikileaks slant to them who might be reporting real news but they also might be knowingly and unknowingly repeating crap stories from Russia.  For that reason I’ve tried to avoid using links to other “unknown” bloggers and tried to stick to well known news sources.

Sources:***

  1. https://www.vox.com/world/2017/6/13/15791744/russia-election-39-states-hack-putin-trump-sessions
  2. http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-voting-problems-20160607-snap-htmlstory.html
  3. http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/19/politics/new-york-primary-voter-problem-polls-sanders-de-blasio/index.html
  4. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/09/trump-has-picked-americas-enemies-in-russia-over-its-friends-in-europe/
  5. http://www.weeklystandard.com/trump-caves-to-putin/article/2008751
  6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-moves-to-return-russian-compounds-in-maryland-and-new-york/2017/05/31/3c4778d2-4616-11e7-98cd-af64b4fe2dfc_story.html?utm_term=.916898cc623e
  7. http://www.newsweek.com/trump-collusion-russia-what-we-know-so-far-630053
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Reiner
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Clapper
  10. https://investigaterussia.org/
  11. http://www.bobcesca.com/the-bob-cesca-show-presented-by-bubblegenius-com-9717/
  12. http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/05/politics/house-intelligence-committee-subpoena-fbi-justice/index.html
  13. http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/if-only-john-mccains-actions-matched-john-mccains-rhetoric
  14. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/08/10/are-u-s-voters-confident-in-their-electoral-system-yes-and-no/?utm_term=.8acf19b0f164
  15. http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343292-jill-stein-looped-into-widening-investigation-of-russia-and-trump-jr
  16. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-fake-news-russia_us_58c34d97e4b0ed71826cdb36

 

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shaft This November the American people will once again select our next leader. It is now apparent that we will be choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We should choose a candidate that reflects the best qualities in ourselves and our great nation. We should expect that person to not only lead us but to inspire us.

Great leaders, on the other hand, appeal to our better angels, inspiring us to improve — intellectually, spiritually and, in many cases, physically. Great leaders serve as a touchstone for human potential. The really great ones are disciplined, curious, benevolent and merciful. And they motivate us by example to become more disciplined, curious, benevolent and merciful.

Donald Trump is exactly none of these things.

Bob Cesca

I think Hillary will make a fine President but even setting my personal feelings aside, it would seem that the two candidates are nowhere near alike. Any rational person should be able to see that there is a HUGE, or as Trump would say YUGE, difference between the two candidates. Hillary is a policy wonk, a politician and someone with very specific ideas on what she would like to do as President. Trump is nothing but sound and fury tapping into blue-collar working class discontent. He has no workable ideas, no coherency and no maturity. He’s an opportunistic con artist who has been grifting the American people for quite some time as a celebrity.  In the end, you may not like Hillary Clinton but she’s the only grown up in the race. Still I find Trump’s popularity irksome.  Why exactly is Herr Drumpf1, aka Fuck Face Von Clownstick2, aka Il Douche, aka Donald Trump so popular with tens of millions of Americans?

1) Americans equate wealth with moral superiority. It’s a major failing on our part because in reality the majority of wealthy people a) inherited it so they simply won the birth lottery, b) they got lucky to be in the right place at the right time or knew the right people at the right time, or c) they shafted people left and right to make money. None of these types of wealthy people deserve our respect or our vote. The final and smallest group of wealthy people are those who worked their asses off and deserve every hard-earned penny. And that one fact still doesn’t make them a decent person. Trump is NOT in this last, small category and clearly he is not a decent person.

2) We forgive celebrities things we would never tolerate in our own personal lives. Because we secretly want to be as famous and wealthy as those celebrities. We want to be able to tell others exactly what we think of them like Trump does. They support him because they want to be him, with all his property, influence, freedom and string of model spouses who are essentially interchangeable Barbie Dolls.

bully 3) There is always a certain percentage of every group that hangs out around the bully. You know who I’m talking about, the hangers-on who root for the bully, the sycophants who pat the bully on the back and tell him what he wants to hear. Let’s just call them the Bully Entourage. Why would someone want to be in that group? Because they’re hoping they will be protected by his power. That the bullying will be directed outward at the others, people who they don’t like. They want Trump to bully the people they are blaming for all of the country’s problems because they don’t have the balls to stand up and do it themselves. It goes back to that idea that “He speaks for me, says what I want to say.”
And there is strength in numbers–in a mob with a bully to lead them, they feel powerful. And they are. The only problem with this kind of thinking is that the Bully doesn’t always just focus on “the others” — Bullies and mobs can be terribly fickle. Once the Bully has cowed “the Others” they often turn on those who are close to them because a Bully has to continue to bully to feed that deep empty hole in the center of their being. Look at the things that Trump has said about people who were once his friends. Look at the movies.  How well does the Bully treat his supposed friends? He treats them like servants. But let’s deal with reality instead. Let’s look at history. How many people supported Hitler who were then executed? Or Stalin? Or Mao or Pol Pot?  The list goes on and on and on.  They always end up eating their own eventually.

Ultimately I don’t know what created Trump the narcissist. Was it overindulging parents? Who cares. I only care about the fact that this man could potentially end up in the Oval Office and millions of people actually think he is qualified. If Americans truly want a President who thinks and speaks like us, then they must think that any average American can be President (although one could argue that Trump’s behavior indicates he is below the average). Are Americans so arrogant as to think that the average American is qualified to be President?

Every modern President has aged faster and dramatically while in the office before our very eyes, even the ones who took more vacations than any other President before or since3 , and there is a reason for it. It is one of the hardest jobs on the Planet.  In reality, they are NEVER on vacation.  The work hours about 14-16 on a typical, non-crisis filled day.  The stress and the responsibility are harrowing. We don’t need someone with the mindset of the average American in the White House.  The average American is cracking under the burdens of a 40 hour work week and a family. Americans work harder than most other people on the planet. And that still doesn’t compare to how much the President has to work. How the heck could he or she deal with the behemoth that our country has become.  Not only do we not need the average American, we also don’t need a bully.  We wield very big sticks and we need someone who knows when to use it and when not to. We need someone who won’t provoke our unstable enemies, of which there is no shortage. Do you want a hair-trigger man-baby wielding those big sticks and making childish comments about the size of an enemy’s penis?  

We need someone who knows what the hell they are doing because our country and potentially even the entire world will be affected by what the next President does. It is arrogant and dangerous to think that Trump is up to the task.   “Pride goeth before the fall” has never rang so true.

NOTES:

1. Thank you John Oliver
2. Thank you Jon Stewart
3. G.W. Bush actually

I heard a story on NPR yesterday about a recent Bloomberg poll that asked:

Do you support banning Muslims from the United States for a while?

65% of Republican voters said yes and a surprising 18% of Democratic voters said yes.  They did not interview any Independents so it’s safe to assume that more than 37% of American likely voters support what is essentially an unconstitutional and unethical policy.  If that doesn’t worry you maybe their answer to the follow-up question should.  They asked a second question that states it even more clearly…something like “even if it’s unconstitutional and goes against everything that America stands for and it makes us less safe” do you still support it and they STILL answered yes.

They then talked to a focus group of Trump supporters.  Most of them were college educated (so claiming their ignorant isn’t an answer to this conundrum). When asked why they supported the ban it was VERY clear there were two main reasons:  1) fear and 2) spite. The spite is something many online have speculated about.  Essentially they think Trump challenges the status quo and the “elites”, which they define as the media.  They believe the media elites are looking down on them (and they are and rightly so) calling them bigots.  Well if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…But instead of shaming them, it only makes them madder and makes them support Trump more.  So that’s why we’re seeing his numbers go higher every time he says something awful–so the online and media speculation was correct.

What it all boils down to is these two important points.  First, they are SO afraid of more terrorist attacks that they will trade long term safety (and scoff at rational policy as presented by Pres. Obama and any Democratic nominee) for short term safety (as offerred by Trump).  I.e., they know it’s wrong they just don’t give a f*ck.  Second, the left and the Media telling them it is wrong, makes them so angry that they are willing to cut their nose off to spite their face.  It’s like telling your 4 year old, ‘if you do that one more time I’m going to spank you’ so, of course, they do the forbidden thing out of defiance.

When you really understand the dynamic here and you look at how many Americans probably feel this way, it is incredibly disturbing.  Maybe we should be concerned about the Democratic Party’s nominees chances in the general election.  Fear is contagious and so is anger.  These two emotions have been the main impetus behind some pretty ugly things in our history like the Internment of the Japanese during WWII.   This could be another one of those defining moments.  Unfortunately this decision will most likely be made by people with the mentality of 4 year olds.

The U.S. Senate has once again decided it’s A-OK to let terrorists buy guns legally in the U.S.  Yes, you read that right.    You can be on the FBI’s Terror watchlist and buy a gun in the U.S.  You can also be batshit crazy and/or have a history of harrassing and attacking women’s health clinics.  Or you can be anybody, like a man with a history of domestic violence, and just show up to a gun show–no background check required!

There have been 351 Mass Shootings in the first 334 days of 2015.  Note that doesn’t include individual shootings–just “mass” shootings.   And all we’re getting from our leaders is “thoughts and prayers”.  I’m not saying don’t pray.  That’s your right to do so.  It probably makes you feel better, but it doesn’t actually DO anything to address the gun violence in this country.  A true Christian demonstrates faith through deeds.  Words are not enough (Christ specifically said it wasn’t enough to simply profess faith but one must engage in good works).

So while everyone is running scared of Muslims right now, please note that white extremists (domestic terrorists, our fellow citizens) have killed twice as many Americans as Jihadists since 9/11.  Twice as many.  But the right will demonize Muslims because “fear of the Other” is such great motivator for voting.  But it’s not the Mooslims you need to fear…it’s the white guy sitting next to you.  And for those of you who want to argue this, you can’t.    FBI stats don’t lie.  It is true for every type of violent crime–rape (twice as likely), assault, robbery, murder (4.6 times as likely), gange violence (53.3%) etc, etc.  If you’re white, the odds of your attacker being white is significantly higher than being attacked by someone of a different color and/or religion.  But white folks don’t see that because our white dominated media focuses so much on crime by other races against whites.  It makes sense that Americans don’t think this is the case.  It’s totally screwed up but that’s the reality.

So America will continue to believe and fear that brown and black people and particularly those with a different religion are the real problem.   The innocent will continue to die and the grand experiment of our democracy will go out with a whimper drowned out by the cacophony of prayers by disingenuous and detached politicians and the rat-a-tat-tat of automatic machine guns.

America has a problem.

We need an intervention

 

Okay, I can’t stand it any more.  I HAVE to say something about Ferguson and the cop shootings that America is now FINALLY paying attention to.  The tipping point came for me yesterday when I finally watched the video of the Tamir Rice shooting and read an article on the audio evidence that proves Officer Darren Wilson was not telling the truth in his accounts of the Michael Brown shooting.

The U.S. is like a drug addict that refuses to acknowledge they have a problem.  All the signs are there.  The data is VERY clear.    Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about.

Some thoughts that are just pinging around in my brain that I have to get out.  Keep in mind, I’m not some uninformed liberal spouting off–I have a Masters in Criminal Justice and I’ve worked in the system.

  • The Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, in the Brown shooting did not WANT an indictment therefore there wasn’t one.  A typical prosecutor could indict a comatose 90-year old grandmother if he/she wanted to.
    • He dumped a ton of data on the jury without providing any guidance into what was exculpatory, degree of trustworthiness, interpreting (because the forensic stuff can be really tough to understand), etc.  To expect a lay person to be able to sort through, prioritize and understand all of that data is absurd and no real prosecutor would do that.
    • He engaged in victim blaming by telling them that Brown was on drugs when there was no evidence of that
    • He improperly instructed the jury on the law — this is HUGE and if this had been a trial, it would have been excellent grounds for an appeal
    • He should have recused himself.  His father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty by, you guessed it, a black man.
    • He failed to perform his duty as a Prosecutor–they are supposed to advocate for indictment. In fact the vast majority of grand juries in this country return with an indictment.

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them. 

  • The audio from the Brown shooting proves that Wilson did not tell the truth.
  • White people riot all the fucking time for the stupidest shit and no one blames it on their “culture of lawlessness”.  But let some black people riot and the media and the majority of white people will shake their heads and question why.  Why would they riot when there’s no history of racial discrimination in policing in the U.S. (ht to Bob Cesca)? Why would they riot when they only have themselves to blame?  All of the Fox News coverage has been in this vein, but the best examples are interviews with Rudy Giulani.
  • The Tamir Rice video is horrifying.  The video shows the police lied about many crucial issues.  If you only listen to the police version (as is too often the case), then it sounds like Tamir was a serious threat .  If you watch the video you will be stunned.
    • They said there were multiple people in the park.  The video shows the 12 year old boy was alone.
    • They said they told him to  put his hands up three times.  The video shows less than 2 seconds passed between the car pulling up, the officers got out of the vehicle and when the shots occurred.  So either the officer gave the fastest and clearest commands in the history of human language (award that man a Guinness World Record!) or he didn’t give them at all.
    • Tamir was already down on the ground when they shot him…he reacted immediately to their presence by making himself non-threatening.
    • After they shot him and the boy was clearly no longer a threat they watched him suffer and provided no first aid until a detective and FBI agent showed up.   Although they’re under no obligation to provide first aid IF they felt the situation is unsafe.  But the boy was no longer a threat.  Actually he wasn’t even a threat when they shot him, but why quibble, amiright?  Ironic that the failure to render aid, made sure their version will be the only one we hear (other than the pure luck of the surveillance video from across the street which can’t really tell us the whole story).
  •  The Rice shooting is very scary to me personally.  My stepson is 12 years old, loves guns, and is very familiar with them.   He is also brown–decidedly not white.   We’ve taught him to be safe with them.  He knows not to handle real guns without an adult being present.  BUT he doesn’t know that it’s probably not a good idea to handle fake one’s either.    I am going to make damn sure he never has a fake gun in any public place and when his family is not with him.
  • There was a shooting just reported in AZ of a black man by a white cop.  I’m still waiting for more details to come in.  Cop thought the guy had a gun in his pocket–it was a bottle of pills.

If you listen to what is being said in the media (not just on Fox but on CNN and local stations too), there is a lot of victim blaming and officer excuse making.  White America’s attitude is coming across like this.

‘Don’t black folk know they should never ever carry anything in their pockets AND should always keep their hands in the air AND always have a pleasant or at least non-demonic look on their face.  AND they can’t be too large or physically intimidating because a big black many is very scary, even to really big white men, even when they’re 25+ feet away**.  So if you’re a big black guy, hunch your shoulders.  And whatever you do, don’t be sullen or angry.’

In other words, don’t give the white cops an excuse to kill you and this message is loud and clear to the black community.  Most of their parents have already told them not to do such things.  Not that doing any of that will actually keep black men safe in this country.  When an entire race of people in our society have to raise their sons to live in fear and act more passive and non-threatening with the police than white people do, then something is terribly, terribly wrong.  The sooner white people acknowledge this, the sooner we can address the problem.  But I don’t think white people in general are capable of acknowledging our complicity in this problem because that would mean acknowledging that we’re wrong about something.  As we’ve seen time and time again, too many Americans think that if we’re not exceptional and right all the time, we’re nothing at all.

Notes:

*I totally understand why the police want bigger and better guns.  When I was a probation officer I always felt like I was outgunned.  I had a Speed 6 Ruger, a “brick” cell phone with a dead battery, no partner or back-up and my crappy little car (VW Fox).  I would go into the field armed with these items.  Here are just some examples of what I faced with those “weapons:

  • walking into crack houses where I was surrounded by dozens of male drug addicts and/or dealers
  • interviewing a probationers with serious anger control issues (child abuser/molester/wife beater) in their dark and dingy homes
  • explaining to VERY angry probationers and their family members why I had to talk to their boss at work about his/her probation and why they lost their job and would soon probably be homeless.  (I took no joy in this task.  I was legally obligated to verify employment with a supervisor a few times a year.  Talk about the system shooting itself in the foot.  The minute they lost their job their risk of recidivism would skyrocket)  

I guess if I couldn’t draw my weapon in time or if I lost it, I could have used the cell phone to brain them.

**Brown was 6 ft 5 in and 290 lbs and Wilson was 6 ft 4 in and 210 lbs.  Wilson isn’t small by any means.  He also had at least two deadly weapons–his pistol and his police car.  Who knows what he had in the trunk–one can safely assume a shotgun.  Plus he had a radio so he could call in reinforcements.  In regards to the distance, the audio article clearly proves Wilson was either lying about the distance or lying about Brown charging him or both.

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility will remain open because Congress says so in the latest Defense spending bill (ht JM Ashby at BobCesca.com).   Our The stupid twats and despicable lawmakers  are saying that the Administration is not allowed to transfer the detainees to American soil for criminal prosecution.  The far left will be blaming the President for not closing it in spite of the fact that he legally can’t do so–actually, they’ve been doing this for years so it will only continue, just in greater volume.  And the right will be crowing about how he has broken yet another campaign promise.

First of all, Congress is afraid that these “baddest of the bad, and worst of the worst” will break out of Federal Max security prisons.  This so dumb it beggars belief.  I’m very familiar with those facilities and their security procedures.  This is not and never will be a concern.  We’ve kept MUCH more dangerous people in those facilities with nary a problem.

Second, the idea that this country accepts the denial of habeas corpus rights to detainees (technically we don’t call them prisoners, which is exactly what they are, war prisoners) so long as they aren’t on our soil is a distinction without a  difference.   Out of sight means out of mind I guess.  In WWII the prisoners were kept in camps right in our cities.  As a child my father used to go talk to Italian war prisoners through a prison camp fence in Charleston, SC.  It makes it much harder to deny these people justice when we don’t have to see their suffering.

Third, the fact that these people are even considered detainees or even war prisoners was and is a colossal mistake.  We should have treated them as criminals, arrested them as such and prosecuted them as such.

Unfortunately, since so many of the detainees rights have been violated and FSM knows how much of the evidence against them has been obtained (i.e., via coercion plus unreliable or secret sources who are unavailable or unable to be present at trial for testimony) the odds of actually getting a conviction in an honest criminal court might be impossible. So all that poisonous fruit will come back to haunt the prosecutors. I blame effing Bush and Co. If they’d handled this properly in the criminal courts to begin with, we wouldn’t be worried about all this kind of crap. I consider myself an expert on our Criminal Justice system (I’m also Queen of the world in my own tiny mind but I digress) and the choice to use military force against Al Qaeda, essentially a criminal enterprise, will go down as one of the worst mistakes in U.S. history. And how often do you see anyone on the teevees or press making this larger and crucial point. We used to be a gold standard in liberty and due process (at least compared with the majority of nations) but not anymore and it’s all because of the idiotic, never ending “war on terror” and the bullshite of renditions and Guantanamo. We STILL haven’t learned the big lesson here and we never will at this rate.

Okay, rant over.