I wondered why an intelligent, rational, and well-educated person could fall for the propaganda of MAGA. A dear friend provided the answer. She simply said, “Perhaps they’re expecting a First Class cabin on the Titanic.”
Immediately my mind filled in the blank: “The Trump Titanic.” The latest, greatest, and likely the last of the edifices he will erect as a monument to himself – and to the extinction of the human race.
He is supported by, I think, two classes of people. First are the folks who fear their status, beliefs, and heritage (white, evangelical, poorly educated, irrational) will be overcome by people of color, people whose appearance and beliefs are different, people far below them on the Great Chain of Being that is part of their understanding of reality and the teachings of their church.
Second are those who are willing to accept the existential threats to the human race in exchange for money, power, status, fifteen minutes of fame on a sycophantic news outlet, knowledge they are part of a group who thinks, believes, and breathes like them. A group that will die with them and the rest of us when too many of the drivers of climate change tip and we face a run-away greenhouse effect that will render Earth hot as Venus and all of us dead, desiccated corpses littering the landscape. Alternatively, when one of the enemies Trump has made pushes his button and initiates a global thermonuclear war. (There are other scenarios; these seem at the moment to be the most likely.)
Trump and the more persuasive of his puppets are trying to hide their activities by making us believe the problems are too big to solve, hoping the little people will be distracted by rearranging the deck chairs while the ship sinks. They are masters of today’s technology and of propaganda.
If Gobbles and Hitler had the internet, we would be speaking German, today.
A person who displayed hubris – overweening pride – was marked by the ancient gods for destruction. The Greek gods never had to deal with someone like Trump whose hubris could bring down a civilization and a species.
I invite you to read and remember Shelly’s poem:
I met a traveler from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
It appears Republicans in the House Oversight Committee decided to besmirch Mr. Cohen’s credibility rather than countering his claims. That’s an ad hominem attack and is usually considered the last resort of someone who doesn’t have a factual basis for his argument. It wouldn’t be so bad if they hadn’t adopted tactics more suited to a Middle School student by posting a sign in the hearing room with Mr. Cohen’s picture and the words, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Where is that from? Fifth grade, perhaps? I recall being ten years old in fifth grade and think I was probably a little more mature than that, even then.
It’s bad enough we have a president who seems to present the mental age, mentality, vocabulary, and diction of a Middle School bully with early-onset senility. It’s not surprising Republicans in Congress would mimic the president. The have tied their wagons (Little Red Wagons, I suspect given their seeming mental age) to Trump. They no longer display any ability to use critical thinking and logic to challenge him. This has eroded any credibility they might have once had as representatives of their constituents. They seem to be ruled by fear rather than fortitude, by an idiot rather than integrity, by madness rather than moral fiber. My conclusion is they are depending on the Rebellious and Righteous Right to draw them back into office in 2020.
We are a sick society.
References: Atlanta Journal Constitution e-paper, front page, 2019-02-28
I'm a one-percenter!
Not the kind you may think, the one percent of the population that controls (owns) 90% or more of the wealth of the world, but a one-percenter, none the less.
You see, I overpaid my quarterly income tax estimates last year. Not my fault. The quarterly amount was calculated by my tax software before Trump’s so-called tax cut. I am now due a federal refund.
In reality, what I did was lend the government, interest-free, some $450, by overpaying the estimated tax.
$450 isn’t quite one percent of my income. Actually, it’s a bit less. But this puts me in the upper percentile of the upper percentile.
You needn’t worry. I don’t plan to contribute to inflation by overspending my windfall, although I was lusting in my heart for a new Gulfstream. And the yacht does need replacing. It is, after all, nearly a year old.
Nor do I plan to ignore my friends among the hoi polloi when I pass you in the street. It’s just that the smoked windows of my Lamborghini Miura SV (completely restored) make it hard to see you.
For those of you who find it difficult to make your paycheck last from week to week, and those Federal Employees who missed a couple of paychecks (and who may miss more), in the words of an unknown “great princess” (but not, likely, Queen Marie Antoinette), “eat brioche.” Just kidding.
References: “Let them eat cake,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_them_eat_cake
When my father reported for duty at Quantico Marine Corps Base in 1952, there was no officer housing available. For one summer and part of the fall, his family – wife and three children – lived in a rented farmhouse somewhere in Northern Virginia. We had indoor plumbing and electricity, but I remember my mother cooking on a cast-iron, wood-burning stove.
Behind the house was a patch of what I thought were vines, but which my father called weeds. He warned me not to play among them. “Besides probably some poison ivy, there’s kudzu and maybe other stuff. It’s all growing where the old outhouse used to be.”
It took some prodding before he would tell me what an outhouse was.
It was some years before I understood that the lush vegetation grew there because it was fertilized by the human excrement that had been deposited over the years.
My next exposure to outhouses was at Boy Scout camp the summer of my 13th year. All we had were outhouses, and it wasn’t long before someone discovered that shining a flashlight down the hole would reveal thousands of worms crawling among the excrement. Later, I learned they were not strictly worms, but maggots, the larvae of flies.
It took a letter today from the brokerage firm who handles my retirement accounts to bring these things back to mind.
You see, in October of 2012, I received a check from that firm. The check was to cover interest earned on an account I had recently closed. The check was for 30¢ (yes, thirty cents). Back then, we didn’t have the option of scanning or photographing a check to deposit it. I didn’t have a local bank. To mail the check back to the brokerage firm, in San Francisco, to be put into another account, or to mail the check to my bank in Texas would have cost 45¢ postage plus the cost of a Number 10 envelope. Easy decision: I shredded the check.
In August, 2018, almost six years later, I received a stern letter from the brokerage. (I say “stern” because it began with bold type and all caps). Here’s the message:
THE STATE OF GEORGIA REQUIRES US TO NOTIFY YOU THAT IF YOU DO NOT CONTACT US, FUNDS FROM YOUR UNCASHED CHECK WILL BE TRANSFERRED TO THE STATE.
Please contact us by September 30, 2018
Wow! I was impressed. Flabbergasted. Puzzled. First, why was the 30¢ – interest earned after the account had closed – reported to the State of Georgia? In my opinion, that amount is de minimus, and all the interest on that account (less than $10.00) was not reportable to the IRS under federal rules. Question 1: How did Georgia know about it? Were they somehow able to examine my six-year-old brokerage accounts? If so, under what authority?
Second, I filed a Georgia income tax return in 2012 but owed no Georgia state tax. (I’m old, retired, and not wealthy, despite having a brokerage account). An additional 30¢ interest income would not have changed that. Question 2: Why didn’t Georgia cross-check with my income tax return for that year?
Finally, (and I will use the same stern letters as above) Why is Georgia going after 30¢ when it probably cost them way more than that to find this incident, notify the brokerage firm, and establish a suspense file. Why is Georgia burdening the brokerage firm with more than $2.00 in cost * to send the notice to me, burdening me with the cost of a 50¢ stamp and a Number 10 envelope to return the form letter to the brokerage firm, and burden the brokerage firm about $5.00 * to recut the check and mail it to me? Is Georgia that desperate for money? Should the residents of Georgia therefore heed James Thurber’s injunction, “Run, do not walk to the nearest desert island”? Are the state’s finances in such dire straits? Is this insanity being perpetrated by state employees or by contractors who are paid based on how much “illicit funds” they recover and who do not have to account for their expenses?
It’s clear to me that the Georgia State Bureaucracy is feeding not only at the cesspit of our civilization but at the trough of those too ignorant of their rights to dispute such ridiculous, insane, costly, stupid, insane (I said that, already, but it’s worth saying again) attempts at extortion?
* Costs of preparing and mailing a letter, the cost of a “postage paid by” return letter, and the cost of cutting a check are an amalgam of several Google searches. I suspect the actual cost may be a bit lower, if the brokerage has automated this process, a bit higher if Georg
John Schnatter is being erased. And, he’s neither the first nor the last person to be erased. We will see more and more of this in the next few years. The tragedy is that it was predicted years ago. The tragedy is that we allow it to happen. The pendulum has swung too far from the center, and that bodes ill for us all.
“The sacred principles of Ingsoc. Newspeak, doublethink, the mutability of the past,” and now, fake news and political correctness. These are the children of our social conscience. These are the dread offspring of George Orwell’s “1984” which – more like vultures than chickens – have come to roost in this country in 2018.
John Schnatter is being erased not only from the corporation he established and nurtured, but also from his charitable works. And George Orwell predicted this. Explore with me, for a moment, the mind of Winston Smith, the anti-hero of “1984.”
It is my hypothesis that John Schnatter was encouraged to use the “n-word” during a corporate training exercise. Nothing in the news reports contradicts that. Further, it is a technique I’ve seen employed in such training as early as a “race relations” course mandated, and offered by a government contractor as early as 1973. There are always “fresh dupes waiting to be seduced,” Winston thought. He was right. No matter how unbelievable are the pronouncements of “racism,” no matter how inconsequential the sound bites offered by politicians, no matter how confusing the statements and contradictions of the president, there are people who continue to be seduced by them.
I was duped in 1973 into using the “n-word,” and watched the instructor’s pleasure as he made an example of me. I will not say John Schnatter was duped, but I will suggest the instructors might have been equally pleased when he fell for what was likely a trap.
The attacks on reason are “so exaggerated and perverse that a child should [be] able to see through [them], and yet they are just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in…” Someone who would neither use the n-word or the q-word might easily be led to say them in a training session – but without the euphemisms, “nigger. … queer.”
Winston Smith’s job was to “alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to “rectify” news articles later shown to be incorrect – or inconsistent with current thinking. He did so not only by adjusting numeric predictions, or, “substitution of one piece of nonsense for another,” but also by rewriting history until “the chosen lie would pass into the permanent records and become truth.”
Smith chose to do this with “a piece of pure fantasy.” This included the erasure of a real Comrade Withers, replacing him with a fictitious Comrade Oglivy.
In like manner, the management of “Papa John’s” and the popular press seem to have decided to erase John Schnatter.
But with what is he being replaced?
That is, indeed, the question.
References and notes.
All quotations are from the Kindle edition of George Orwell’s “1984.”
Winston Smith thinks “Ingsoc” might have once been “English socialism.”
There was a rally in Newnan, Georgia, on Saturday, April 21 – one day after Hitler’s birthday. I mention that only because the media characterized it as a “neo-Nazi” rally. The rally was led by Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. [“Nazi” is an abbreviated form of “National Socialist German Workers Party.”] About a dozen people labeled by the media as neo-Nazis or fascists, most in really cute costumes with shields and flags, rendered Nazi salutes and faced (at considerable distance, apparently, enforced by police) perhaps a hundred people labeled by most of the media as Antifa (Anti-Fascists). (Fox news said only that some of the opposition were members of Antifa. I don’t know how anyone could be sure … I mean, do they have ID cards or something? Another reason to be careful about believing what we read in the news. Besides, shouldn’t everyone in America be against Nazism and Fascism? Well, perhaps if they really knew what those were. But that’s another story.)
Both groups were outnumbered by as many as 700 police-persons.
Our goobernor tweeted that we should "pray for Newnan." Lot of help, there, Goobernor. Thanks for the thought. Go back to sleep.
Schoep "criticized illegal immigration, skinny jeans and the removal of Confederate monuments." He also claimed the "Nazi salutes" were actually "Roman salutes." (I would really like to know where that came from.) Bert Colucci (sounds Italian, to me – see below) the soi-disant Chief of Staff of the National Socialist Movement said we should put illegal immigrants "in camps ... Like we did the Italians, Germans and Japanese." Oops! He forgot Jews, although a sign at the rally attributed to the Neo-Nazis "claimed Jews were behind the refugee movement." Maybe these folks are all-inclusive bigots, after all.
You know, of course, that the US government interned Americans of Japanese ancestry in concentration camps during World War II. Did you know we also interned Italians and Germans? The Italians and Germans were almost all non-citizens (diplomats, businesspersons, students, and merchant marine sailors) who happened to be in the US when we declared war on Italy and Germany. Few, if any were American citizens. (Of course, the history of these actions is considerably blurred by those who conducted them, those who abhor them, those who claim they never happened, and those who think they didn’t go far enough.)
Skinny jeans? I guess that should be added to the list of things to be banned if we're going to make America great again. What about Confederate monuments wearing skinny jeans? The possibilities are endless.
As many as ten of the opposition (Antifa, Antifa-wanna-bes?) were arrested for refusing to take off their masks. Apparently, there’s still a law on the books in Georgia banning the wearing of masks in public places. It was designed to target the Ku Klux Klan, and is suspended on Halloween, or the jails would be full of kids in Darth Vader and Spiderman costumes – and masks. Selective enforcement of the law? Is that “right”? No. It isn’t. It’s fundamentally wrong. On the other hand, it’s often reported that the Antifa people try to get photographs of the Nazis in order to “out” them to their employers. Yet Antifa people wear masks to protect their own identities? Another fundamentally wrong thing.
Yes, we live in a crazy world.
This is letter I sent to the Fayette County, GA, Board of Commissioners and to "The Citizen" newspaper.
I am a citizen of Fayette County and an Air Force veteran with more than 20 years service to this country. I am opposed to the Fayette County Board of Commissioners recognizing April 26 as “Confederate Memorial Day,” and the month of April as “Confederate History and Heritage Month.”
I was reared in the South until college graduation at age 22. I was thoroughly indoctrinated in the Confederacy. In grammar school, during assembly, we sang songs from the southern side of the Civil War: "The Girl I Left Behind Me," "The Bonny Blue Flag," “Dixie,” and others of that ilk.
On May 10, which was Confederate Memorial Day in North Carolina, we were dismissed from school to walk to the Courthouse where we decorated a Confederate Monument with flowers. (This, of course, applied to the white schools. Integration, although ordered by the Supreme Court before this, was not implemented until at least 12 years later.)
After the ceremony at the Confederate Monument, the Children of the Confederacy (of which, of course, I was a member, having a great-great grandfather who died in Pickett's Charge, Gettysburg) went to the home of the docent of society for cookies and punch. No, we were not marked absent or tardy from school.
I was a Distinguished Military Graduate from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, which, I learned, was created first as a garrison to house the young men of Charleston, SC, following a slave uprising.
I learned the (possibly apocryphal) story that the first shot in the "War of Northern Aggression," as the elders of my family described it, was fired by cadets from The Citadel under the command of a man who was said to have been a relative.
I learned that my paternal grandfather had been a member of an organization that was a front for the Ku Klux Klan.
I learned about segregation at an early age, but that's another story.
History must be preserved. While those who do not remember history may not be doomed to repeat it, those who do learn from history will certainly annihilate them. It is far past time to relegate the history of the confederacy and the civil war to textbooks, and not in flags that fly from pickup trucks, not around bonfires where stand men in white robes and hoods, and certainly not in the chambers of the Fayette County Commissioners.
Paul Lentz, Peachtree City
Thomas Malthus was an optimist. His mathematics – word problems – would not be allowed in today’s schools because they are too hard, too complicated, and too unfair. Nevertheless, they were correct in their times. He predicted that population would increase exponentially (warning: word problem) while food production would increase only arithmetically (another word problem) until population exceeded food. The result would be what is sometimes called a Malthusian Crisis; sometimes, a visit by the Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (I promise to explain why five and not four before this article ends.)
Malthus suggested several outcomes, Famine and Disease being the most likely. Others have added War (to control scarce resources) and the ultimate result of the first three – Death. Those are the traditional “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” based on the myths in the Book of Revelation.
To those I would add the fifth likely cause of Death and the Fifth Horseman – Global Climate Change.
Back to my first sentence. Why do I say Malthus was an optimist? Is it not already true that the world’s population seems likely to exceed its capacity to support human life? Is it not already true that we have overtaken the amount of greenhouse gasses Earth can sustain without catastrophic results? Is it not already true that perhaps nine million people die of starvation every year? Is it not already true that half-a-million to one million people die of malaria each year? Is it not already true that more than one million people have died as a direct or indirect cause of war in the past year? Is it not already true that a quarter of a million people or more will die as a direct result of climate change in 2018? Is it not already true that antibiotic-resistant strains of staphylococcus aurous and typhoid fever (caused by Salmonella tryphi bacteria), and other deadly diseases are infecting populations – mostly in what we consider the third world? Is it not already true that in the United States black babies die at twice the rate of white babies?
Wait a minute! Where did that last come from? Malthus never…
No, Malthus never wrote about the endemic institutional racism in the United States that keeps black mothers from the pre-natal care that would keep their babies alive at the same rate as white babies.
Is institutional racism the Sixth Horse of the Apocalypse?
Based on what I read in the news, it may be. It just may be.
* * * * *
Media reports today (Sunday, April 8, 2018) include (again) claims that government forces commanded by Bashar al-Assad have (again) used chemical weapons on civilians
The response from the world is (again) denial from Syria, “alarm” from the French government, and a wimpy response from the British Foreign Office. In their words, if this is true “it is further proof of Assad’s brutality.”
I haven’t seen anything from Trump, by the way. But, then, I no longer subscribe to Twitter, which seems to be the official organ of the United States Government. (The official nature Trump’s penis, which seems to be leading his philosophy, I fear to contemplate.)
But I have seen photographs of children, hooked up to oxygen masks and heart monitors, and wonder if any of these children are still alive.
Where are the good people of the world? The evidence is overwhelming that chemical weapons – chlorine gas from barrel bombs, and perhaps other similar weapons, for example – have been repeatedly used to attack civilians in the Syrian war. Whether the fault lies with Assad, some ill-defined “rebels,” ISIS, or the Turks and Kurds, it’s clear that children are dying not only from chemical attacks but also from bombs released by Turkish, Russian, and American planes. Perhaps others.
The proximate fault – the match which ignited this fire – may lie with one of the several combatants. However, the ultimate cause lies with you.
Yes, you, who have read (or could have read) of this horror for years.
You, who could have joined with other good people to force your government, whether of the United States or of Britain, or of France or of Russia or of many other nations to stop the insanity.
But you did nothing. You sat in front of your television sets, glued to the latest basketball, soccer, or cricket match, glued to the latest fake-reality show, glued to the current “who has talent” display, while munching on some unhealthy snacks, while people, including children, died at the hands of despots.
Their blood is on your hands.
Mental health (with respect to the Christian Terrorist in Austin, TX and the shooter in Florida) and Trump's latest sexual escapades are both red herrings *. The first was created by Trump in order to distract people from the real issues (military assault weapons in the hands of children, for example); the second is more likely serendipitous – for Trump.
* Red herring: something that is intended to be misleading or distracting from an important issue. Logical fallacies may be used as red herrings.
In Trump's usage, mental illness falls in the class of relevance fallacies, the notion that one topic is connected to another topic in a way that makes it appear that the second should be considered when considering the first.
If you believe Trump, then studies of mental illness and throwing money at detection and treatment become the sine qua non of preventing mass shootings and gun violence. If you believe the premise that children shouldn't have military assault weapons then things that fall under the rubric of "gun control" become the sine qua non.
The problem is exacerbated by the seeming inability of the American people to conduct a civil, rational, and logical conversation about this issue – or most issues. No matter what the issue, we the people seem to be immediately and rigidly polarized. I blame social media as well as the so-called mainstream media.
By the way, did you catch my logical fallacies? Tying "children" and "military assault weapons" together was designed to provoke a strong emotion and increase polarization. Saying "sexual escapade" rather than "adulterous behavior" was designed to minimize the importance of that issue.
What about "Christian Terrorist"? The man was a home-schooled, Christian fundamentalist who, if the press is to be believed, attended a home-school social group that conducted war games with cream pies. No one seems to be calling him a Christian Terrorist (much less a "White Christian Terrorist"). If he'd been Muslim, the press and Trump would be pissing "Muslim Terrorist" and "radicalized" until their bladders were flat.
If you want to read how one NY Times writer explains his coverage, try this link:
My linking "Christian" to "Terrorist" is no more valid than Trump and the press linking "Muslim" to "Terrorist." Or, it is equally valid. God is love and Jesus preached "love thy neighbor"? Yes, but Jesus also told his disciples, "If you do not have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one." Of course, it's all mythology, and the Quran is largely plagiarized from the Jewish Bible.
I've said this, before. It's in the introduction to "Holy Fire": "If Hitler and Goebbels had the internet, we'd be speaking German."
Can you imagine Leni Riefenstahl turned loose on YouTube? Compare "Triumph of the Will" to something like "Across the Pacific," which (after “Casablanca”) is probably the second best Hollywood propaganda film of the era. (Second best, in this case, is still pathetic. Seriously. Picture Sidney Greenstreet kneeling at a Japanese style altar committing seppuku.)
At the risk of hyperbole (itself a fallacy of logic), the internet may be more dangerous than nuclear weapons.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.