Day 645 Tuesday October 22, 2018 936 Days to Go
Shades of the Same Thing
Years ago my college alumni magazine published a piece on the cycle of acceptance of heroin and cocaine in America. Each has a sine wave kind of acceptance versus rejection curve. Each is different. That is to say one is longer than the other. I forget which is which, but I thought it an interesting point that the idea with the two drugs is one of “we’ve seen this before” kind of behavior, vacillating between “it won’t hurt you” to “my god! This can kill you!” The waves are long, spanning decades. Therefore, people may not notice the change in attitude, or if they do it will be from years before when the attitude was opposite of what it is in the present day.
Alexis de Tocqueville said of America that it was in a race between it goodness and vitality, and its corruptness (or something like that.) I went looking for the quote and found these by de Tocqueville instead:
America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.
I also thought about Dave Brat and his constant repetition of the phrase “Nancy Pelosi and her liberal policies.” There’s a lot of animus toward Pelosi, like there was toward Hillary, but has anyone questioned whether Pelosi was trying to help people? You might say you don’t like the way she’s doing it, or what she is doing, or who she is helping, but there is no question she is in there trying to make things better.
Can the same be said of Dave Brat? Or Mitch McConnell? One guy in Kentucky was so pissed off at McConnell he threw the Senator’s take out barbecue out of the restaurant and into the street. Other Republicans and conservatives are complaining about be shouted at in restaurants. Why? People are pissed off at them.
Some of their former supporters have woken up to the fact that their Republican representatives are out to screw them over, and that they have already done so. There was a cartoon recently (and probably not so recently) where someone is complaining to Mitch McConnell about the tax cuts not paying for themselves, as promised, and that now McConnell is saying he’ll have to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The questioner is bewildered by the change in plans. McConnell tells him – That was the plan all along!
And indeed it was, has been, and always will be. Amen. Full stop.
This has been told to folks repeatedly. Nancy MacClean “Democracy In Chains” laid it all out. There was no secret here. First, get the tax cuts and lie to say they’d pay for themselves. Second, say, “Oh gee, sorry, we were wrong. You’re gonna have to suck it up.” Third, Go back to your super rich donors to get more money.
The only one in the Republican side of the Senate who doesn’t seem to know this is the plan is Susan Collins. She is the most naive. But Mitch can tell her any lie and then say, “Oh sorry. Didn’t work out,” and she’ll suck it up.
This brings me to MBS the crown prince. Heard an article on the radio talking about the cyclical nature of this country liking (hoping) that this guy is different from the last one. He makes a few mostly empty gestures and we fall for it. Then he does something horrible and we go, “Oh gee. Guess not.” There’s a cycle to it.
The Saudis made a deal with a radical branch of Islam back when the country was being formed. The British and the French cut up the territory after World War I, not in a way that made sense but in a way that benefited them short term. We are still paying for both of these sins.
Then we get to belief and the dangers of it. The problem with belief is that it is not rational. Therefore, changing ones beliefs is hard to do, if not impossible. And here is where we die.
It is similar to tornadoes. What? Huh? You say. Michael Lewis points out in his book The Fifth Risk that people in Oklahoma, home of some of the worst tornadoes in history, don’t respond to warnings for several reasons. Among them are: They don’t believe they will hit where they are because they never have; The TV stations overplay the dangers to get better ratings.
What the Weather Service is dealing with is belief systems centered around weather. What we are dealing with in politics is belief systems, and in religion too. The most dangerous of the three is religion because it’s been crafted over centuries and millennia. In the book “The History of God” the author points out that what has happened with the concept of god is that it keeps changing in the face of new evidence of things that didn’t work in the past. It keeps moving into uncharted areas. Areas that can’t be shown to be false, unproven areas. It also, in modern day (ie the last two thousand years) has taken on the idea of “You gotta believe!” If you don’t terrible things will befall you. And you gotta believe in this specific form of god, which one is determined mainly by locality and family. Joseph Campbell in his book “the Faces of God” pointed out that the three main religions of today’s western world: Judaism, Christianity, and Muhammadism are really all the same god with different looks (ie faces) to each version. But don’t tell that to a true believer!
The scary thing about religion is that it can be hijacked by a con man, or demagogue, or politician who will use it to their political advantage. We have examples of con-men starting religions: Scientology and Mormonism are the two big modern day examples. Examples from history of politicians using religion for their own purposes are abundant (Genghis Kahn), especially the last minute conversion before dying “just in case” (Constantine). Then there are all the examples of the priests, nuns, cardinals, and popes who professed great piety yet lived very different lives in private, which is also true of kings and royalty. Tell the peasants one thing and do quite another. I have to ask myself, “Has much changed?” I think not.
Ah me, onto the news of the last few days.
The Foreclosure King of California, now Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnunchin, had announced he was not going to the summit in Saudi Arabia that many businesses had pulled out of after the death of Jamal Kashoggi was revealed was seen sitting down with the Crown Prince in a huge photo op. WTF?
There has been an indictment against a Russian woman who has been identified as the treasurer of the infamous Internet Research Agency in Russia that sowed so much discord and mis-information in the 2016 election. She is indicted for the increased activity that group has been doing in the 2018 election. This does not come from the Special Prosecutor, but from the Federal court in Virginia. This agency is run by an oligarch with close ties to Putin and has threaten one of the few independent newspapers in Russia (started by Mikail Gorbachev). Well, we don’t know that he did so. I mean, come on, so what if five of their reporters have disappeared? Could have been anyone? So what if the reporter’s source on this story who admitted being a hit man for this oligarch suddenly disappeared? So what if that reporter got a funeral wreath delivered to his home? So what if a severed goat’s head was delivered to the paper?
This indictment is for the continued meddling by Russians in our 2018 election. Evidence shows its been increasing, and why not? It’s cheap (at first $1M a month then $2M now more, chump change), and THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES!
But not to fear our National Security guy Johnny Bolton and his walrus mustache to the rescue. The always tough talking Bolton was on his way to Moscow just days after the story broke. John “we want regime change in Iran” Bolton, John “If you wipe out the top floors of the U.N.” Bolton, will tell ‘em. He’ll say something like, “Hey, we know what you are doing and stop it!”
Let’s go to the tape. What exactly did Bolton say? “We don’t think what you did had much effect on our 2016 election.”
Yeah, that’s what he said.
John who at the drop of a pin would go off on Obama, the Clintons, anyone who wasn’t tuff enuff on our adversaries said to the Russians, “Hey, it’s okay. You’re cool. Go ahead. Do more.”
Trump did the same thing weeks before.
What a courageous team! Bolton, Trump, Mnuchin – wouldn’t you like these spineless whinnies looking out for our democracy?
Speaking of democracy. What a quaint idea. The Republicans seem to be using the same tactics as the Russians: lie, spread disinformation, try to polarize the nation, ignore the facts, be spineless, say the exact opposite of what you have actually done, make up stories of threats, basically” lie, cheat, and steal! And their true believers love it!
Hey our democracy is going down the tubes! So what, we are stopping the illegal immigrants from coming into this country from that caravan.
Huh? What? To be an illegal immigrant you’d have to be in this country. These people are two thousand five hundred miles away. Hence, there are no illegal immigrants in the caravan. (This is called logic and facts, btw.)
Secondly, they are traveling together because, as some in the Trump group have pointed out, there are dangerous places in Mexico. Especially, if you are a destitute immigrant seeking asylum.
Thirdly, if you are seeking asylum and show up at our border you are not illegal.
Then we get back to the question of “Why are they coming?” and “What should we do?” Currently, by trying to make it harder for people to immigrate, and by making it a big PR thing, we are supporting the gangs and thugs in the countries from which they come. Here’s a novel idea. Why not try to help those countries rid themselves of those gangs and thugs? Why not help them create stronger democracies and create jobs down there for these people? Hum, has anyone ever thought of this? Lemme see. Why some guy named Kissinger. Wait? What? He’s a Republican! Hey, why not do the Republican thing?
Oh, you want to stir up hate and violence because it helps get out your vote? Got it.
Let’s get some more pictures of kids in cages, okay?
Hasn’t stopped the people from coming yet. Obviously, Stephen Miller and the racists and haters in the White House need to turn up the violence and lies. The president is doing all he can. He has how many rallies this week where all he seems to do is lie. (“If you go down and look in the middle of the caravan you will find there are Arab terrorists and MS-13 gang members embedded in the middle of the group. George Soros is paying for the caravan…”)
Shades of the same thing: Remember Trump had people go to Hawaii to look for Obama’s birth certificate? Remember the “You’d be amazed at what they are finding” statements?
Trump says the FBI is looking into the Kashoggi killing, but it’s not. That would have to be a the request of the president, and he’s made no such request.
Vote! Vote! Vote!
936 Days to Go
PS Here’s a kite pictured in an ad. It is supposed to be showing a kite flown by Ben Franklin getting hit by lightning. Other than the sticks being on the front, not the back. It being bridled maybe upside down (except it’s hard to tell because they appear to have tails on the top and bottom but the top end of the kite, the way it is shown, appears to be narrower than the bottom and hence should be the bottom); other than that it’s perfect. So I’d say turn the kite around, put the sticks on the back, rebridle it, and get rid of the streamer tails and put the bow tie tail there and you’d be all set! The nice thing about kites is you get a reality check upon launching, unlike religion, politics, the economy, or international diplomacy.