Atrocities – A sure-fire way to bring atrocities about

July 13th, 2019

François-Marie Arouet, aka ‘Voltaire’ once famously said, ‘Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.’

The other day, Mike Pence, trumpenfuhrer toadie, visited a couple of the concentration camps America is running along the border. One was a model camp, where the inmates were reasonably clean and fed, although forced to sleep on child-size nap mats with only foil covering. Pence said the detainees appeared “well cared for,” something that reminded me unpleasantly of the Third Reich propaganda films that showed happy Jewish children playing in the sun and singing songs while German matrons watched, beaming approvingly. The Germans got the kids to go along by telling them if they did, they would see their parents again. None of them did, of course. Most of them were dead within weeks. Those who weren’t made sex slaves for the country’s elite, that is.

The second visit was to a much more typical American concentration camp, one where hundreds of men were jammed into hideously overcrowded pens without room for them all to lie down at once, and not given access to showers or any other elements of basic hygiene, and the toilets were little more than open pits. Many had been there for 40 days or more. Guards wore masks to keep the stench out. The only things missing were the German slogans and the Strauss waltzes being piped in over loudspeakers.

Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post wrote: “VP [Pence} saw 384 men sleeping inside fences, on concrete w[ith] no pillows or mats. They said they hadn’t showered in weeks, wanted toothbrushes, food. Stench was overwhelming. [Customs and Border Protection] said they were fed regularly, could brush [their teeth] daily [and] recently got access to shower (many hadn’t for 10-20 days).

Even Pence was taken aback, saying “This is tough stuff.” But of course Pence is and always has been a loathsome coward, so instead of calling for the immediate release of the inmates—most of whom have committed no crime—he blamed Democrats in Congress, condemning them for not passing a $4.6 billion “humanitarian relief bill” to build many more concentration camps (and eventually death camps). In fact, the House passed the bill several days earlier.

A word about Pence: he exemplifies the pseudo-Christian fundamentalist filth, the Dominionists, who are working to take over the country entirely. Once they accomplish that, the death toll from their efforts to purify us all will soar, and only violent revolution or complete social collapse will get their boots off our necks.

Let me tell you a disturbing truth about Hitler. From the time he became Chancellor right up to the point where the utter defeat and ruin of Germany could no longer be denied, he was immensely popular. Children begged to be allowed to climb in his lap, women swooned, men waved at his parades and rallies, unfeigned tears of joy and pride running down their cheeks. Hitler was loved, and it was easy, in the face of such adoration, to pretend that the work camps really did house people who meant Germany harm. Hitler was wise. He wouldn’t allow harm to come to innocents.

Trump is every bit as vicious and vile as Hitler. Our only real hope is that he is not as smart as Hitler was, not as charismatic, and no orator.

Even Hitler knew to conceal the death camps outside of Germany in the captive lands, knowing there was a limit to what the German people would stand for, but as long as people only entertained horrid suspicions rather than grim certainties, he could get away with what he was doing.

The reason he lies so blatantly and so frequently is to help prevent horrid suspicions from become grim certainties. You can’t commit atrocities without absurdities.

To that end, he used endless streams of propaganda. I suspect if Facebook was around in 1939, most of us would be speaking German now and the rest of us would be dead.

The American right, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin, who knows how pernicious and enervating the far right can be to a society, have also been unleashing endless propaganda.

For example, a message, almost certainly a concern troll, showed up in a liberal group on Facebook—indeed, it probably showed up in dozens for such groups. It was a query for information about liberal views and values, asked by “Kathy Aston, Iowa farm wife.” It’s very unlikely “Kathy” actually exists, being a reassuring figleaf pumped out by the actual authors of the hit piece, whether 4Chan, Breitbart, or the Russians. While an obvious troll, her sentiments are all ones I’ve seen kool-aide drinkers from the far right earnestly state as truths.

The message read:

Hi. Ok. I’m not a liberal. Please help me understand a few things that has us scratching our heads. I will be polite as possible, but these things are what is told to us, that makes us think you are a special kind of stupid. I’m not good at PC speech. Just cant say what I mean in your language. I really want to know!

#1. Killing newborn babies and calling it abortion. Why not adopt them out? Infanticide is really unnecessary. 

#2 welcoming invaders that overwhelm the country’s resources. One of the oldest war tactics on record. Calif is starting to yell for help, and we just shake our heads in wonder at the lack of smarts in your people.

#3. Welcoming in the enemy of our country that openly states they will overthrow us, rape our women, children, and kill all who will not believe their way. Also openly hostile to gay people, as in throwing them off rooftops.(last we knew, you guys really love your alphabet people.- LGBTP). Also stoning, beheading, and other barbaric behavior… Huh??? You really want this Sharia stuff??? Don’t you realize they will kill or gang rape you too??

#4. Freedom of religion, or none, if you wish. You already have it! Why the fuss?

#5. Women’s rights. Totally incompatable with #3 Islam gives no rights to women. They are puppet slaves to the males. A piece of property, worth less than an animal. Again, you really WANT this?

#6. What the heck is a “theybe”???? Medically, there are 3 sexes. Born with a penis, born without, and those who are born with both, a Hermaphrodite. We understand what it is to be gay.

Finally….black people. My favorite boyfriend was a huge black guy with such a gentle disposition. He did not worry about slavery. Or being recompensed for it. No one alive has been a slave, or has owned a slave. You are smart and have all opportunities to be anything you wish! Why keep the shame of the South alive?

Let’s run down this classic propaganda piece briefly:

#1. Blood libel. Liberals do not commit infanticide. The hideous belief that Jews drink the blood of Christian babies goes back to the middle ages, but Hitler and Trump flogged it endlessly to stir up hatred. I’ve been saying for years that some of the far-right trash in this country use the word “liberal” but they really mean “Jew.”

#2 “Invaders that overwhelm the country” –- Most of Germany’s Jews had lived there for generations, just as many of America’s Hispanics date back to the 17th century. But when you can lump them in with non-existent invaders, it makes it so much easier to stir people into a murderous rage against them.

#3 “Enemy of our country”. In Germany, that meant Gypsies, Slavs, and of course “Semites.” They are THEM. Please feel free to hate them.

#4 Freedom of religion, in the eyes of the Kathies of the world, is the freedom to place their religious boots on my neck. We wouldn’t be free to believe, but we would be free to believe what Kathy believes. It’s a stance that has informed the bloodiest pages in history.

#5 Womens’ rights. Frankly, I don’t give a shit what the governments of Iran or Saudi Arabia think as far as womens rights go here, not as an excuse to ignore them here. I just note that there is no difference in the attitude towards womens’ rights between fundamentalist Moslems, Jews, or Christians. They all hate and fear women. Trump’s role model from 1942 forced abortions for women deemed ‘impure’ while putting to death women who were pure, but got abortions, since ‘pure’ is a very slippery word.

#6 Sex isn’t just the plumbing. The main sex organ is the brain. Kathy would understand that if she actually had a brain. But death camps welcome “deviants,” too.

Finally…black people.” That says it all right there, even if Kathy had a big, black, strapping young buck as a boyfriend. Batteries not included. We should forget all about slavery, just as Kathy no doubt hopes we’ll forget all those lessons we learned from Hitler.

About 30% of the country avidly swallows the nonsense promulgated by the Kathies of the far right, and tell themselves Trump and Pence are godly and good men, just as Germans told themselves the same about Hitler, and crying Russians in the camps in Russia did about “Uncle Joe” Stalin.

‘Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.’

The Big Lie – How the Right Wing Controls Millions

June 1st, 2019

Robert Mueller appeared on TV and told the nation “If we had had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Watching it live, I didn’t think there was anything unusual in that quote. After all, he says the same thing directly in his report. Anyone who read the report…oh, right. Most of the members of Congress haven’t read the report. And they’re the ones responsible for acting on the information it contains. It’s a sign of the times when the best thing you can say about your Congressional representative is that he is too lazy and illiterate to function. But Mueller really didn’t say anything that wasn’t in the redacted version of his report. I’m amazed how many people didn’t know that.

One Republican did read the report, a Republican from Michigan named Justin Amash. He immediately declared that Trump should be impeached, becoming the first Republican to favor impeachment. He held a town hall in his district to inform his constituents of why he reached the decision he did, and to defend it. Not your typical Republican, most of whom avoid their constituents these days. He wound up getting a standing ovation from an initially hostile crowd when he laid out his case.

According to Brad Reed over at Raw Story;

In an interview with NBC News, Michigan Trump voter Cathy Garnaat said that she went to Rep. Justin Amash’s (R-MI) town hall this week to challenge his view that Trump should be impeached — and she got caught off guard when he directly quoted from the Mueller report to justify his views.

I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump,” she admitted. “I hadn’t heard that before.”

Garnaat went on to explain that none of the news shows she watches or listens to have ever gone into depth about the contents of the Mueller report.

I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated,” she explained.

In an earlier incident of truth meeting conservatives, Bernie Sanders went into the lion’s den, a town hall on Faux News, and laid out his case for universal health care, a high minimum wage, free college, and a system of not-for-profit banks through the Post Office. Serenely confident that Sanders had only made the case that he was an American-hating Commie, the host asked the audience to indicate their displeasure with Sanders. They gave him a standing ovation.

Don’t be surprised.

The vast right wing conspiracy has been working for decades to section off a segment of the American population and essentially turn them into a cult, suspicious and disdainful of any outside information. In fact, the morning Mueller made his announcement, so damning to Trump, I was curious and looked to see how Faux News was playing it. Their header was “ “Special counsel makes rare public statement to resign, says team was unable to charge Trump” No mention of the reason why he didn’t charge Trump. Faux News viewers are ignorant, and Faux News spends a lot of time and money to keep them that way.

While Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has always presented a grave danger to western democracies, and is inimical to freedom and the non-wealthy, Murdoch is hardly functioning in a vacuum. For years, a nest of think tanks, blogs, radio networks, trash political “Christian” televangelists, along with corporations snapping up local newspapers, radio and television, have devoted themselves to being one seamless propaganda machine.

One favored way is social media memes. Prior to that, they were mimeographs and copies in their twentieth generation, passed around at bars and water coolers and in chain letters.

The method of transmission has gotten more sophisticated, but the propaganda tactics remain about the same.

I got one passed along to me the other day, and in a time when the Republicans are working to lie their way to success, it seems a really good example of the messaging used by them.

This one (replicated in full below) is putatively written by a family mother who is distraught because her children are supposedly being driven out of California by draconian policies promoted by Gavin Newsom, the rookie governor of the state.

I’m not worried about copyright infringement. It’s anonymous, which is an odd thing for a public letter to a political figure, and its actual provenance is open to considerable speculation. It may have been written by one of the stable of writers they keep at Heritage Foundation, or Regnery Press, or perhaps somewhere in Russia. It’s so ham-fisted I think it could be a Russian troll outfit.

I doubt very much the actual authors are going to step forward and demand credit.

The opening lines are unalloyed pathos: “The boxes are filled. The bags are packed. The hearts are breaking. My family is about to be divided, separated, perhaps forever. I wish you cared.” Oh, the heartbreak! Did any family ever suffer so? Why, this is as bad as the Trail of Tears, or the railroads to Auschwitz!

But it gets worse: these innocents, driven from California by the cruel whips of Governor Gavin, are just one of millions, perhaps even billions, being driven from California!

But there is hope! They are leaving the foul pestilence of the Golden State and headed for a shining beacon of hope: “The Real America”. She doesn’t describe this real America, but I have the impression it’s something like Pleasantville before the colored folks showed up and ruined it. It is, however, in a “southern state” where people show their patriotism by flying the Confederate flag. Apparently it differs from all of California in that it doesn’t have dog feces and hypodermic needles on the sidewalks. That right there eliminates most southern states.

The author cites a rise in communicable diseases, which while unfortunately true, isn’t climbing as steeply in California as it is in the south (CDC). Children are at grave risk, it seems, but again, the South, which the Polly Klaas Institute identifies as having 38% of non-family/kidnapping child abductions) has a far higher rate than the West (28%). It would seem our refugees are leaping from the frying pan and into the fire.

The author concludes the first litany of grievances by telling the governor, who had nothing to do with the imaginary complains, that “[Y]ou’re concerned that I might ask for a plastic straw.” Overuse and misuse of plastics is a growing crisis, one that will eventually kill more people than kidnapping, drug users, and Fresno combined. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t hurt anything except plastic straw manufacturers, but for the noble Republican princess writing this, it’s the cliché that broke the camel’s back.

The woman (or study group, or St. Petersburg sweatshop) bitterly blames Newsom for not caring about the middle class. Which is being destroyed in America, it’s true, but one can thank thirty years of Reaganomics and supply-side nonsense for that. Granted, California did inflict Reagan on the land, and we’re trying to live that down. But Newsom is continuing Brown’s policy of shifting the tax burden upward to the wealthy, and increasing wages. That’s how you build a strong middle class. You don’t get one by giving your pension and half your income to your employer and hope they’ll build a museum in your town or something.

California, the whine continues, has car thefts and car chases. And that it does, most assuredly. But her answer, which seems to involve locking up millions more people, has been proven not to work. At one point, California’s “tenth largest city” was the prison population, and all that did was breed gangs, hardened criminals, and organized crime. The author complains about the high rate of recidivism (61% in California, compared to 60% nationwide), but offers no solution beyond, “lock them up.”

Next on the laundry list of whines is taxes. Yes, California has high taxes on gasoline, sales tax, etc. Part of the problem is that millions of wealthy Californians are protected from property taxes and wealth taxes. That has changed in recent years, and California is catching up from decades of Republican “feed the rich” misrule.

And yes, California has a problem with homeless people. But again, Newsom didn’t create that problem, and has been working to address it for years. One wonders what the fictional author of the letter has done to address the issue. Besides putting an apartment up for rent by moving out, that is.

It goes on in this vein, an unending and self-pitying whine about how horrible California is, and how wonderful the South is. Gas is only $2.00 a gallon! According to the writer. Except that the cheapest gas in the country is Mississippi, nobody’s idea of paradise. California’s gas is $1.50 a gallon more than Mississippi’s, but California state taxes on gasoline amount to 35 cents a gallon. Mississippi’s is 18 cents a gallon. Obviously something else is at play here, such as price manipulation by the oil industry.

Why isn’t she just joining her family and moving? After all, there’s no reason for her to stay in California, and every reason to move. Doesn’t having to pick hypodermic needles out of her flip-flops and paying $1.50 because state taxes are 17 cents higher get old?

But the nature of this letter isn’t to portray a real situation. The woman does not exist. Her situation does not exist. Many of the items she lays at the feet of Gavin Newsom either don’t exist, or are things he has nothing to do with. They are blatant manipulation, with a glorious disregard for accuracy or truth.

The intent of the letter is to inflame, and arouse feelings of resentment against California, a state that has, since 2008, consistently performed better economically and socially than the rest of the country. It is a success story of liberal governance, and the right wingers must pump out endless lies to vilify it and make it look like one of their own disasters, such as Kansas or Wisconsin.

The article is written with scant regard for any truth whatsoever, and uses almost ridiculous levels of emotional manipulation to try to inflame the reader and shut down critical thought.

The right wing has been spewing this nonsense by the thousands over the past 40 years or more. One thing they did learn from the Nazis and the Communists was that propaganda is a powerful tool, if applied unremittingly and relentlessly.

The Cathy Garnaats of America—and there are millions of them—aren’t vile deplorables who take glee in Trump’s viciousness and contempt for American values. They don’t hear about that. Instead, they hear about how Trump is a victim of anti-American forces who hate and despise everything they hold dear. Today’s minute of hate is Meghan Markle, princess and wife of Prince Harry. She doesn’t want to meet with Trump in London this week, and so Faux News is gleefully leading a chorus on their site of racist and sexist abuse. The deplorables, little better than Nazis, love it. The cultists, usually possessed of a more human core, turn from the viciousness, but wonder how Markle could be so disrespectful to such a wonderful president. They really do.

They may have been born ignorant, as all of us have, but the right wing has used emotional manipulation and lies to keep them ignorant. Many, like Garnaat, need only be confronted by reality. Others will refuse to accept it and have a highly negative reaction.

The propaganda won’t end, because when you have to lie to the people to get your own way, they have to be big, simple lies, repeated endlessly.

But if Trump is indicted for his crimes in the House (which is what Impeachment is), the propaganda machine will break down in the face of a mountain of evidence, and won’t be able to prevent the Garnaats from seeing what is true.

In the meantime, read the piece attached. It’s a good lesson in finely honed propaganda, and a chance to hone your own reasoning skills.

Chico Republican Women

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Chico Republican Women

May 20 at 10:11 PM ·

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The following is an open letter from a friend of mine here in CA whose anger and frustration at the ongoing destruction of the state has boiled over. It reflects the feelings of so many people I know here, myself included. My friend would like this to remain anonymous but hopefully get widespread attention, so please feel free to share:

An Open Letter to Governor Gavin Newsom 5/20/19:

Governor Newsom,

The boxes are filled. The bags are packed. The hearts are breaking.

My family is about to be divided, separated, perhaps forever. I wish you cared.

Our wonderful daughter, along with her husband and their two young children has given up on life in California. The only place they’ve ever called home has become intolerable for them. They’ve found a new home in a southern state, far away from here, in the real America.

I’ve heard the story innumerable times- people leaving, or wanting to leave, what was once the paradise of the West Coast. Not so long ago, kids could walk down to the corner store, or to school, without their parents worrying about their safe return. No more.

You once could visit a neighborhood park, and not fear for your life. No more.

Walking across the street did not require careful examination of the pavement to avoid feces or used hypodermic needles. Now it does.

Illnesses are again being seen in this state that had been rare or non-existent until recently. Typhus, Tuberculosis, Mumps, Measles, Hepatitis A, B, and C are all here again. A worker on the upper floors at L.A. City Hall recently came down with typhus, spread by rats living in the disgusting conditions around the Civic Center.

But you’re concerned that I might ask for a plastic straw.

Your priorities for managing this state are crystal clear, and the middle class is nowhere near the top of the list. I learned in Civics class years ago that the primary job of government is to keep the people safe. What happened? When did our safety and well-being fall off the radar? Not too long ago, my daughter had her new vehicle stolen from her driveway, in the short time it took her to walk the kids to school. Someone was watching, waiting for them to leave. It gives me chills just thinking about it.

You release violent criminals back onto our streets to terrorize our communities, you proudly remove the death-penalty as an option, sending a friendly message to the worst of the worst, and you handcuff our law-enforcement officers, challenging their every move. Officers now must take an extra moment, perhaps just a second, questioning their training and best judgment, before using any amount of force to apprehend a violent criminal. When this results in another dead cop, and it will, the blood will be on your hands, sir.

A few weeks ago, we watched on television as a violent felon led police on a three-hour pursuit, destroying property and narrowly missing pedestrians and other vehicles. We saw him brutally beat his female passenger while driving close to 100 mph. Then last week, a murder suspect shot at police out the window of the car he was being pursued in. It’s a miracle nobody was killed. Turns out, both suspects were free on “early release” through AB-109, that you and other politicians (who all live behind walls, with armed security) forced upon us in the name of compassion. Where’s your compassion for law-abiding citizens, Mr. Governor?

And don’t get me started on taxes and regulations. The amount of money taken from us by this state is criminal. Just living here is expensive enough, but imagine trying to run a business and stay afloat. We have the highest gas prices/taxes in the country, and still our roads are a mess. I recently hit a pothole and the damage to my car was over $1000. We pay you enormous sums to manage the state’s affairs, yet people by the thousands sleep on our streets at night. Homeless encampments are everywhere, in neighborhoods we never imagined they’d be. And still, you want more. There’s a move now to weaken Prop. 13. No doubt it will pass. And I just read that you want to tax online sales now, too. Along with proposals to tax water, telephones, dairy products, fertilizers, health care, and more. But taxing those things will not affect the “super rich 1%”. They’re just more hits on the middle class. You Sacramento politicians have an insatiable addiction to other people’s money. But many citizens have had enough and are walking away.

Which brings me back to my family. They’re closing their business here. You’ll get no more of their hard-earned money. They’ve purchased a home in their new state, big enough for the four of them and a dog or two. Maybe even a horse. The kids will get a great education. They’ll be able to leave a window open at night, knowing that the criminals are the ones who are afraid- afraid of the police, afraid of the courts, and afraid of the citizens who exercise their right to defend themselves. Oh, and gas there is about $2 a gallon.

Somehow, they’ll have to survive without a Fantasy Train to nowhere, but I’m sure they’ll find a way to get by. Meanwhile, your tax base shrinks and Atlas shrugs. Soon the only people left here will be the very rich and the very poor. It’s almost as if you planned it that way.

And now, my family is broken. As are countless others. No more school plays, no more little league games. No more weekend breakfasts at IHOP or Thanksgiving dinners. I’ll happily burn a ton of fossil fuel to go visit them at their new home as often as I can. But, I won’t be there as an instant babysitter when needed on short notice, and I’ll actually notice their growth from visit to visit. I’ll pray every night for their safety and happiness in the years to come. And I’ll cry that I can’t hold them tight. I’m angry as hell, and I miss them desperately already.

But they’ll get no going away card from you and no apologies. You simply don’t care.

Name withheld.