So now we’re all standing largely naked before the coming onslaught of disinformation that is sure to come along with the 2023 and 2024 elections: the lies will be coming fast and furious…
Now would be the perfect time for Bush. Cheny and the gang of moderate Rebulicans to come to Jesus and admit their crimes of destroying Democracies in Central and South America. America can still lead a moral battle for truth but it will have to come from somewhere on the right to be effective.
I fear we are in for a very difficult battle. If we are to preserve democracy in an environment where one of our major political parties expressly no longer believes in government of, for and by the people, it will be up to ordinary people to fight this political battle. Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, the authors of “How Democracies Die,” have a new book out called “The Tyranny of the Majority,” in which they detailed how other countries in Europe made political reforms we failed to make to prevent our current situation. Ziblatt and Levitsky recently had an article in the New York Times in which they admit they were surprised at the January 6 insurrection. I was not especially surprised at it, and it was fairly obvious that Trump was at the center of events.
We may not be able to prevent Trump from trying the same tricks again, or prevent him from receiving a majority of the electoral college vote and having his groupies vote for him again. They live in a fantasy world. Trump is fundamentally a political symptom of our current problems, and it isn’t enough to deal with him through the court system. He has to be dealt with politically, and I’m not certain our system is capable of that.
Last night a friend of mine, a lifelong Democrat, said that she couldn’t stand the situation we are in, she feels the Democrats have abandoned us, and she is considering voting Green in 2024.
This is my response:
That won’t get us out of this mess. Sadly we have only two parties. And only one that is anywhere near functional.
It isn’t that the Dems are not listening. It is that the system itself is broken.
If you vote green the Republicans have a better chance of winning. And they have already announced the plan for American fascism if they win. That is not a campaign tactic by the Dems. It’s a fact.
And even if the Dems win, they do not have nearly the latitude to govern that people think they do.
The corporate oligarchs are more powerful than this government. That is the true enemy. Not the Democrats.
The choice is how much harm will be done. The Republicans are in alignment with the oligarchs. The Democrats will do what they can to avoid the worst harm.
So what can we do? Vote blue to keep the level of authoritarianism where it is, instead of a bare fascist dictatorship. Which would be a hell greater than we can imagine.
And figure out how to either bring down the oligarchy or take ourselves en masse out of its control.
We won’t be able to do any of that under Republican Christo-fascist rule. We will be too busy surviving and maybe risking our lives in the resistance.
We cannot give up. Now is a time to rally, march, sign up new voters... give up Facebook and Twitter and boycott as many companies supporting Trump/Putin as possible.
Any other ideas on how to fight back?
5 hearts for this one...
I think Thom really tells the story here in a way that cannot be further distilled. It is a complex story, and as I have learned the hard way, complex is persona non grata in our public discourse. So good on Thom for doing what he does best - telling truth in a way we can all understand.
The other day I brought up a tough subject while commenting on the 2 Santa Clause piece: At what point do legitimate political undertakings crossover into conspiring against our nation? It is a sincere question, and one I would like to think more about. I reference this because the PR (Putin Republicans) folks are clearly over the line. Clearly. So where is the rule of law in this regard? The PR firm of the GOP openly celebrate the world's largest and most threatening dictatorships. And they're bringing that form of rule to the US, one community at a time.
And as far as the folks who claim to be "left" (of which I am one) are concerned, we need to get our priorities straight. Because if the PR strategy works, then none of the ideals we hold dear (including environmental justice) will be attainable. Period. Right now we are in a moment that will most likely determine the future of life on Earth (at least for a conceivable period). We need to keep the ship of democracy from sinking. Without it, there is no platform to build a fair and just tomorrow from.
We must support Ukraine in defeating Russia's illegal and morally revolting invasion.
We mustn't vote for third-party candidates in the 2024 Presidential election (no matter our frustration with the status quo). We do not have the luxury of voting for our ideals at this point in history, unfortunately.
We must be able to detect and counter the subtle and sophisticated propaganda of hostile global adversaries, as well as the PR firm of the GOP. And, sadly, we must know when even our most revered thinkers are misguided (love you Cornell West, but sorry...).
I hope people will realize that our house is fully on fire, and we need to put it out - not argue over remodeling plans for the future.
I alternate between “stop the world I want to get off” to wanting to just pull the covers over my head fit the next 14 months.
Realize neither is a viable strategy.
So, onward through the fog.
"Fashionable" indeed. Good description, "fashionable." The contrarian stance, as if anything contrary guaranteed inner knowledge and cleverness and real, inner-sanctum, information. Up to a point this contrariness closely tracks our country's misdeeds. The blood and dirt on our hands. But that doesn't make anyone else into pure-as-the-driven-snow players. Blood and dirt are widely distributed elsewhere and have always been.
Along with contrarian is the flavor of seeming to have to be angry or to flame people in anticipation of any other views. Essentially, setting a a belligerent tone to push away opposition. Basically, they are there to fight, because, to paraphrase a book title, fighting (flaming) is what gives meaning to their lives.
This brings up a very sad list of people I used to admire, who've fallen totally out of my respect since the February 2022 invasion (further invasion) of Ukraine by Russia. That invasion has revealed their lack of thinking, reasoning and research. Chris Hedges, Lauria, Bill Astore, Noam Chomsky, lately, Ralph Nader. I used to think Medea Benjamin was merely naive, but she and Nicholas Davies are damagingly naive, negligently dangerous. They may as well all be working for Putin.
All of them, and others, keep calling for negotiations. Here is where they either don't do research or don't know what to make of it. Just Google for agreements between Ukraine and Russia, then extend that a bit. I wound up with a list of 32 items, starting with the "Singing Revolution" in 1987 in Estonia (I also included some peripheral agreements). Those agreements were hammered out between nations, signed ratified and ignored by Russia.
Still, they are diplomatic agreements ratified between nations with promises and guarantees. And yet, we hear the fabulated supposed verbal agreement not to expand NATO. Here's where they are not thinking/reasoning. With all those signed and ratified agreements, why is there not anything about not expanding NATO. Don't you think the Russians would have insisted on that? In writing? Signed, sealed and ratified? BTW: you can find articles in which Gorbachev is specifically asked about such a verbal agreement and he says there was none.
Putin's own document of 12 July 2021, seven months before the current "special operation," is available on the Kremlin site. I downloaded it and copy/pasted into Microsoft Word just to get a quick word count. With the date, title, author credit (Putin) and body Word returned 6,901 words. Almost none of it concerns NATO. Almost all of it is about our kin are not Ukrainian, they are Russian and must be returned to "us" as Russian. A text search for "NATO" gave me only two places in the 6,901 words where "NATO" is used, twice in one short paragraph. That is a paragraph 88% of the way toward to bottom comprising 1.35% of the total word count. If NATO was any real concern of Putin's, don't you think he would have put it at the top and made it occupy a lot more than 1.35% of the word count?
Then, of course are Putin's further plans, to make Russian World go from Lisbon to Vladivostok (western Europe to far east Russia, above Japan). Or Putin's 2005 exhumation of super fascist Ivan Ilyn's body (and his wife's) from Switzerland, where Ilyin died in exile in 1954 and was now reburied in Moscow, in a sort of secular-saint of the guiding philosophy for Putin and for Russia.
And don't forget Xi, standing by, biding his time, observing what we will do to defend someone attacked and making a decision how soon he will invade and conquer Taiwan. Xi, of the mild face, maybe a bookeeper's face, is a total autocrat who means to own the world and thinks long term.
There are people who will not quit physically going to war with you, whether as a street thug or a street thug with country and army. You cannot just talk with them and you cannot make agreements with them. Any such agreements with someone not willing to abide by them are just further openings down the road for more attacks.
As much as Ukraine is at risk, so is a lot more.
While the left was trying to end human suffering with the minimum wage and social spending, the religious right (unevolved animals that wear the best clothes) were dreaming of shooting the left (the humans) and causing massive humans suffering for all those they hate! The right expects a miracle, their savior to come back and save THEM. If that is not insanity, I don't know what is! The right kept producing many children while the left practiced birth control in order to not overpopulate the Earth. Democracy fails when the irresponsible take the reigns of power. So the right, would not allow civics in public and private schools or rational thinking or free thought or the teaching of the facts of Life or accurate history... The right would have hated for those kids to grow up and turn human and disown them, so the right crippled the whole younger generation mentally with their religion to keep them in line. While this was going on, the rich westerners turned China and Russia into autocracies and pushed neoliberalism. We can't blame only foreigners for America's problems. The enemies of all working people on earth is the excessively rich and the phony religions that brainwash the babies to be coming sadistic, homicidal, greedy, rapists. The natural order would be for the most rational and intelligent people to rule the world by exterminating all of the inferiors. Currently, China fits that description because they are united as one and not divided by race or religion and they are very intelligent. Yet, it is already too late with global warming and plastic particles and overpopulation and toxic waste that include nuclear fuel rods and possibly a nuclear war. Getting governed by thugs is not an option for free thinkers. But our GOP and Democrat leadership are thugs. With Biden and Garland protecting democracy, we are doomed! Still we must vote for Biden in the hopes that he can salvage democracy and socialism and civility. I would recommend the left, learn to grow and preserve your own foods and survive off the grid, and buy weapons to defend yourself with. Also if you have the ability to move out of the country after the 2024 election, do it, if a Democrat loses. Also to encourage young people to have no children for their own sake!
They are implementing “The Shock Doctrine” on a global scale. With the advent of social media it seems to be metastasizing exponentially. Scary stuff!
“We fielded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, helped start the UN, built NATO, and worked with democratic allies around the world.”
Yes, WE did. And then along came Trump! What happened then? Trump pulled us out of NATO, and everything else. Trump immediately stopped ALL trade with ALL nations. Trump initiated a block on our receiving any goods from any nation. Then Trump became best butt sucking buddy with Putin, and Xi!
Now, questions needs to be ask here.
Is this the moves of a president that is working toward expanding our democracy?
Is this what a Democratic, Free, Nation looks like, and is supposed to act?
Something else that Trump did. He directed all the attention to the southern border. Why did he do this?
It’s a really simple solution, and for those of you that have had any law enforcement, investigative experience or training should know the answer to this right away.
When a crook/thief wants to commit crimes, he usually tries to direct the attention of law enforcement elsewhere to allow him the access and time he needs to do what he wishes to do.
It’s my theory here that Trump directed all the attention to the southern border for a few reasons.
First, he is spending his time collaborating with Russia, China, North Korea, and other communist nations to get something set up to bring into this country. Now, think back to when COVID hit this nation, and became so prevalent. Was it not during the time when the attention was turned toward the southern border, and the “sudden influx of immigrants”?
That’s my first theory on this. My second one is much more ‘believable’, ‘understandable’. It’s because Trump is always about making himself money. If he’s not putting money in his pocket every second of every day, he hasn’t stayed up long enough to accomplish his goal.
When Trump ordered “The Wall” to be built on the southern border, tens of billions of taxpayer dollars poured into that ‘project’, which, in all honesty, neither Mexico nor the United States has ever taken up such a project for several reasons. First and foremost is the Rio Grande River. The border sits mostly right in the middle of it for some stretch. Second is the mountain region. It’s almost totally impassable on foot. How in the hell would any company get heavy equipment, supplies, and the manpower on it, to it, or through it, to build a stupid wall? Third, and most importantly. This country, especially the southwestern states, have depended on immigrants to work the fields, produce crops, pick the crops. Basically to do the ‘grunt work’ that Americans refuse to do. This has been going on for a lot longer than I am alive. You cut off the farm labor, you cut off the food. NO FARMS. NO FOOD!
Now, I want to add one thing since I’ve climbed on this soapbox.
This southern border has been open ever since this country was founded. This country was founded by immigrants that came from other countries. Not one person alive in this nation right now can do their ancestry without learning their history is from another country. Mine is from England, and France. So, cutting off the southern border is against what our founding fathers intended. Back in the beginning, when the huge influx was migrating into this country from the ‘old country’ did they close Ellis Island to immigrants coming in. Hell no! The southern border shouldn’t be shut down either. If anything, a huge building should be built to process these people as fast as they can get here.
I have sounded off enough. Back to the initial topic. Trump turned his attention to the southern border to allow the influx of the COVID Virus, and to put billions of dollars in his pocket. Which, sadly, he accomplished both. And as with all the other criminal acts he’s committed his entire life and gotten away with, he’s gotten away with those two also. The only problem is with the virus, he’s managed to kill over 1.2 million Americans! He should be held accountable for his acts!
Thanks for this Report, Thom.
I just watched Ukrainian Secretary Danilov describe the loss of their sons and daughters who go willingly to fight to save their country and the future freedom of their children. What heartbreak and unnecessary tragedy, ALL because of Putin. ONE person with absolute power should go against the fiber of every being on the planet.
But it doesn't---we have to counter the threat of authoritarian figures as well as their supporters. This is at the very root of the United States. We have to keep repeating that, just like the Ukrainians, we have given too much blood to kneel to a king.
There is no honor in what the GOP has done. David Brooks described the Congressional far right as "nihilistic performance artists"; he nailed it. These Putin-puppets joined the disinformation campaign for Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia and would end everything people sacrificed for, if we let them. Our unity is more important than ever. We need to kick their ass at the voting booth and with the truth.
The deeper we go into madness the more we need to go outside the box. Surely there is a readiness among half the people to take a leap into a sane system. Discontent and unworkability being so great is an opening for new thinking but we aren't doing any.
One thing I'd have is a Suggestion Box. For a sample of new thinking, this is something I'd put in it: "As the insurrectionists get prison sentences that satisfy our desires for vengeance, what about the higher need for our oppositional country to come to together? We could create a training program for the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys to teach them consciousness, so to speak. Waking them up would change the world, uniting the sides we are on and illustrating we all can come together in one human family. It’s an infinitely higher objective than making horrible people’s lives miserable, even though they deserve that. PS: Look to the justice system in Norway that runs on rehabilitation for criminals being better for society than just meting out punishment."
I have a piece about Norway which is mind-blowing if you don't know what they do. Look up my Substack and get on my mailing list if transformational thinking is for you.
To paraphrase someone on a news show the other day, Fox and the others are there with disinformation and lies because they have a huge audience anxious to be snowed. Only the people can put an end to this free-for-all and the people will only become aware and informed when enough people in positions of leadership and power understand how to reduce vulnerability and gullibility. We stand naked due to negligence.
Last Tuesday, after an eye exam, I got home to hear the last few seconds of a discussion on the show. Later, I spotted a story on Raw Story which I am certain was the source (or one source) of that topic Thom had discussed. That story was, “A neuroscientist explains why MAGA supporters refuse to accept Trump's 91 felony charges”, by Bobby Azarian, Raw Story (9/12/23).
For most of us, the behavior of MAGA supporters has been a profoundly perplexing mystery. Neuroscience now offers novel explanations which make a great deal of sense. This author breaks down the hard evidence which draws the fundamental correlation between perception, experience, and brain function from brain scans, and consequential specific human behavior. His revelations square very well with other studies and observations.
Essentially, if I understand what Azarian proposes correctly, given certain kinds of training and experience, some children as a way of conserving cognitive resources and avoiding confusing complexity develop a style or habit of accepting convenient or conventional narratives, of adopting certain facile explanations, or of “suspending disbelief”. They instead learn to habitually resort to prefabricated formulaic answers to controversial or difficult questions, which in this case are provided by ignorant and nefarious reactionary influencers.
But, while Trump supporters have turned this mental tactic into an art form or a way of life, it is not necessarily an anomaly or aberration. It is one of several relatively common and normal strategies of dealing with issues confronting one in life. We all presumably utilize this strategy successfully at times.
This ‘short-cut’ for coming to conclusions or resolving issues and conflicts, when overused and intentionally distorted leads to attitudes and behavior which tend to be irrational, anti-social, and restrictive. In Azarian’s analysis, narratives which contain untruths and a type of mysticism surrounding someone like Trump, who has exploited ignorance and naivete to build a cult following, provide a ready-made cognitive pattern and set of beliefs. Erroneous predispositions are affirmed. Biases and fears and perceptions of malice or evil are confirmed. The followers have complete confidence in the explanations and beliefs they have subsumed, which have all fit nicely because of the familiar framing and well-worn narratives. The cult becomes a cult ONLY because of programming which has predisposed individuals to followership.
This is typically explained primarily in terms of pathological family, church, and media, and as an effect of political ideas, memes, and organizational structures. What have been omitted, however, are the major effects of the school environment and experience over a decade and more. STAY WITH ME.
Every teacher replays over and over a narrative which is an essential part of attempting to keep students attentive and orderly. It has always been assumed the teacher has admirable motives, that she or he is benevolent, and that providing instruction, assistance, information, skills training, and proper discipline are core purposes associated with the profession for all but a very rare few miscreants. The mission of the school invariably contains statements reflecting high-minded, edifying, charitable, and character-forming services. Indeed, almost without exception, the intentions of school staff are truly honorable and benign.
The needs of students are a frequent topic for discussion in schools, logically. However, as an organization and an institution serving the community, schools have a set of needs and priorities, also, which may not be so high-minded and which are divorced from education.
A condition develops which I call ADD, or Attention Demanding Disorder. Likewise, some teachers and administrators suffer personally from ADHD or Adult Attention Demanding-Hyperactivity Disorder in which they become obsessive about carrying out their objectives aimed at making the world more stable or organized and a better place by using the force of their personality and their adult influence to motivate and educate ignorant children. Some are neurotic to the point of being overzealous or messianic in their transformational endeavors, much to the detriment of students. Their roles command total compliance and obedience.
Kids nearly all try very hard not to disappoint. But the perpetual pep rally and constantly being chided for “not living up to their potential” takes a heavy toll. Anxious and hyper teachers push, prod, and use guilt trips as ploys, which work well for about 5% of students and negative effects for about 95%. Not every child has an aptitude or an affinity for academics at a specified age, or ever, and not every child is suited for the programming, conditioning, and behavioral modification that schools require to keep the ‘factory’ running smoothly.
Unfortunately, the most damaging narratives delivered incessantly to the school population as a whole, which are ubiquitous in public schools, revolve around false promises and unrealistic expectations. Knowledge and education are socially prized attributes, or they had been until recently.
People involved in schooling have appropriated knowledge and education as their exclusive property and domain for many generations. They have cultivated the mistaken belief that school is synonymous with education. They have exploited the economic, social, and political need in the modern industrial world for the care and feeding of children by babysitting, controlling, and warehousing them, and mistakenly calling it “education”.
Those who do become educated do so most often in spite of the school establishment and its formalized duplicity. Schools improperly get credit.
The recurring narratives which students have internalized are powerful and enduring. They stay with them throughout their lives in most instances unless methodically replaced by other more valid facts and information. It is held as gospel that students who fail to learn or achieve academic success have only themselves to blame. It is the consensus that a curriculum well-designed by experts building from fundamental elements or “basics” can be developed and applied en masse, and the result will be widespread education.
The strong conviction shared by nearly everyone who has spent much time in these systems, and contrary to ample evidence, is that dedicated, devoted, and trained teachers can work with significant numbers of children inducted into an involuntary system to inspire and lead them to become literate, numerically competent, intellectually adept, democratically oriented, and well-informed citizens in twelve years of primarily classroom instruction. Those narratives do not stand up to close scrutiny. No such thing has ever happened on any appreciable scale.
Have the most staunch defenders of democracy and the most articulate and eloquent spokespersons responsible for maintaining our government and way of life acquired their knowledge and passion from traditional schooling? Would democracy be stronger and more vital for more people if more children spent more time in traditional schools? To these questions, I say an emphatic NO. Please explain how schools which are fundamentally authority-based can possibly effectively familiarize students with democratic principles. I am waiting for an answer and I expect one.
To challenge school mythology is heresy. To point to the empirical evidence proving it nonsense is taboo. To talk about ending compulsory school attendance laws is tantamount to urinating into a strong wind and up a rope (as my dad occasionally described in more colorful language).
If you recognize that narratives “steer away from critical examination and instead encourage blind faith” for Trump supporters and that magical thinking and contradictions result from their early indoctrination, how do you then not see the contradiction between statements which rate our schools as “AAA+”, and that in the same breath complain that a full 25% of students leave as illiterate and many more as semi-literate? By lacking the same insight into your own self-delusion, you put at risk many children, democracy, and your own credibility.
Suspending disbelief is perfectly fine for small children. Stories about Santa coming down chimneys and the Easter Bunny hiding baskets of tooth-rotting candy add to the fascination children feel, and any potential harm is not catastrophic. However, for adults to ignore scientific studies and to persist in believing that we have schools which would educate effectively IF ONLY we could squeeze more money out of the clutches of insensitive lawmakers, or IF ONLY civics classes are reinstated is pure folly and treacherous. The indoctrination has been terribly effective, even with the most highly educated individuals. Why not apply this new revelation to our most important function as adults?
Make no mistake, those “educators” who have been directly witnessing the gross miseducation of children and those important influencers with the responsibility to speak out but who have denied the reality and gone along blithely with this travesty will be known in historical accounts of the future as phony and cowardly. These scandals will not remain concealed forever.
Shared to a few facebook groups that seem to like The Hartmann Report, with this comment at the top:
Since even satirist Andy Borowitz's posts are being removed these days, I'll give you the title of this substack post by Thom Hartmann in case you have to go look for it elsewhere:
Can We Stop China, Russia, Murdoch & the "Putin GOP" From Tearing Down our Democracy?
The bip picture, Thom Hartmann, good one, thank you.
There are the informed and the falsely informed otherwise known as the uninformed. That is the battle in this upcoming election. As for Cornell West, he is showing us that his ego and greed outweigh any integrity he may have had. Show us the money Cornell West!