Sunday, July 21, 2019

QUOTE OF THE DAY, SUGGESTED READINGS, AND MORE!


First up, we have this very interesting, in-depth exploration in the New York Times that sheds some light into how Youtube accidentally (?) became the world's most effective vector for Far Right propaganda, thus radicalizing a generation of young men and boys into reactionary politics. Remember, if you've already reached your quota of free NYTimes articles for the month, just open this article in an "incognito" window.

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Next up, but definitely related, comes this series of VICE interviews with people who have literally lost family members to the deranged, Trump-centric, post-Pizzagate, conspiranoid hurricane of weaponized nonsense known as "Qanon". It begins:

One of the most disheartening signs of our advancing hellworld are the thousands of people who wholeheartedly believe in the deranged conspiracy known as QAnon. 
It's near impossible to summarize the entire QAnon conspiracy theory, as it’s fluid and ever-changing. The nuts and bolts are that a secret government insider, the titular Q, has taken to the internet forum 8chan of all places to drop clues (known in the community as Q Drops breadcrumbs) about how U.S. President Donald Trump is taking down the deep state. The conspiracy takes some twists and turns into the occult, an ever-present cabal of pedophiles, possible executions, and the idea JFK Jr. may have faked his own death and is cosplaying as an old guy who goes to Trump rallies. 
While the QAnon conspiracy often feels like an elaborate troll, an online community of real, actual people has built up around it. There’s been a lot written about how lonely these people are, how they will cut themselves off from their family ... and poking fun at the whole thing. Rick Ross, a cult deprogrammer and executive director of the nonprofit Cult Education Institute, says the community bears a lot of the hallmarks of a cult: the main character is infallible and everything is part of a greater plan. ...
No one knows how hard it is to break through a bubble one creates around themselves than loved ones. While maybe it’s funny for those outside peering in, what is it like for those who are close to them, the people who experience their loved one's brain being rotted by YouTubers breaking down 8chan posts in real time? 
I decided to seek them out. I found a woman whose husband became so obsessed with YouTube conspiracy videos he would follow her around the house and force her to watch them, someone who avoids their mother because of Q, and someone who was dumped by the man she loved because she actively attempted to debunk QAnon. Here are their stories.
Some of these stories are ridiculous, while some are truly heartbreaking. All of them are disturbing, in that they provide yet more evidence to the increasingly voluminous pile that shows how we are, most likely, up against something that goes far beyond the mere human propensity for occasionally believing stupid things. 

I think it's patently obvious by now that what we are witnessing is an engineered phenomenon, wherein a new generation of propagandists have at their disposal bleeding edge communications tools and predictive psychometric technologies that have allowed them to create "psychiatric software" bordering on literal mind control. 

This is one of the core elements of my "New Fascist International(e)" theory, which I hope to explain more fully in an ebook that I've been working on for the past two and a half years. So keep your eyes peeled.

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In an important op-ed piece for the Washington Post, Paul Waldman describes the lengths to which a newly empowered Far Right are going in order to prevent those who have yet to be brainwashed into their cult from voting at all, thus maintaining their illegitimate grip on power until the day finally comes when they can do away with the charade of democratic elections altogether, and simply exert their God-ordained right to rule over their lessers entirely unimpeded.

Unfortunately, WaPo is behind a paywall nowadays, so if you find yourself locked out, here is a distillation of Waldman's most important points and revelations:

As we turn our attention toward the 2020 elections, Republican lawmakers across the country are asking: How can we keep people from voting? In Tennessee, which already has lower-than-average rates of turnout, the legislature is on the case
"Tennessee could penalize some paid voter registration groups with fines for too many faulty signups and criminal charges for violating new requirements under a proposal passed by the House on Monday. The vote bucked some voting rights groups, who have voiced fear that the bill would create a chilling effect on Tennessee’s already-poor voter participation marks. Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett has made the legislation a top priority, deeming it important for election security after Shelby County, which includes Memphis, saw a flood of often-faulty registrations that came in on last year’s deadline. But Tennessee Black Voter Project, which led the voter signup charge in Memphis and elsewhere across the state, has said the bill immediately followed the group’s efforts to register 86,000 black voters."
Under this law, organizations that mount voter registration drives will have to be trained by the state, and then they can be fined and face jail time if they have lots of registrations with mistakes. 
Just to provide a bit of context, every group that does registrations gets some faulty ones. When you sit at a table outside a supermarket registering people to vote, there are always jokesters who will fill out the form in the name of Mickey Mouse or Clark Kent, but the group doing the registering is legally required to submit the forms, even if they’re sure they’re false.

The problem here is obviously not that erroneous registrations create some kind of unmanageable burden on state officials, because they've always existed and always will.
It’s that too many black people registered to vote in Tennessee, and something had to be done about it. 
So in addition to using all the other tools in their voter-suppression drawer, Republicans in Tennessee decided to clamp down on registration, knowing full well that liberal groups are much more likely to mount registration drives than conservative groups.
This isn’t the first time something like this has been tried. Before the 2012 election, Republicans in Florida passed a registration law so restrictive that it led nonpartisan groups such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote to suspend their voter registration drives in the state.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who often makes plain what other Republicans prefer to conceal amid a fog of misdirection, used to say that “low voter turnout is a sign of a content democracy.” More recently he has described Democratic efforts to make voting easier, with measures like making Election Day a national holiday, as a “power grab.” In other words, he makes no bones about the fact that if we made it easier to vote, too many people would vote for Democrats.

Every Republican understands that; McConnell is just one of the few willing to say it out loud. But the truth is that suppressing votes is absolutely critical to Republican success. They know full well that their ability to compete and win in the American political process is dependent on the countermajoritarian features of our system — the filibuster, the fact that the Senate gives the same representation to the fewer than 600,000 residents of Wyoming as the nearly 40 million in California, the electoral college — nearly every one of which works to the advantage of the GOP.
And as the party grows more dependent on older, wealthier, white voters — who are more likely to be registered and more likely to turn out — Republicans know that the harder registering and voting is, the more likely they are to win. No prospect is more threatening to Republican success than high turnout.

Consider the last three midterm elections. Last year, turnout was 50 percent, and Democrats won huge victories, including taking back the House. In 2014, a “wave” election for Republicans, it was only 37 percent. In 2010, another Republican wave, it was 42 percent. Anything that gets more people to the polls will be good for Democrats and bad for Republicans. 
Which is why the GOP will do everything in its power to keep registration and turnout low — and why making it easier to vote is so important for Democrats. So in the coming days we’re almost certain to see a further separation between red and blue states.
It will look like this: Where Democrats are in charge, they’ll institute automatic voter registration, same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, extended early voting, and anything else that will maximize turnout and make voting easy. Where Republicans are in charge they’ll employ voter ID, restricted early voting, polling place closures, and anything else that will drive voting down, particularly among African Americans.
And if all that isn’t enough, Republicans will go after the people registering voters, too.
Get the picture yet, folks? It isn't four relatively progressive Congresswomen representing their communities and their constituencies who pose a threat to America and the American WayTM... it's the entire radicalized Far Right reactionary pseudo-religious cult into which the Republican Party has transformed over the past few decades that is the TRUE "enemy of the people".

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But don't take my word for it! Here's a former intelligence agent who was part of the team who drafted National Intelligence Estimates for a previous White House (Paul Nailer is a pseudonym) to tell you why "The Biggest Threat to Our Country Today is the Republican Party". He begins, in part:
In case you’re not familiar with the finer points of threat assessment within the national security apparatus, the NIE is the big enchilada: the document seen by presidents and members of congress; an objective, non-political, comprehensive piece of work that categorises and prioritises the threats faced by the United States. 
While I no longer have regular access to the complete set of intelligence reports from which the NIE is drawn, I have access to some, and I am an avid reader of the related publicly available information. I’ve developed my own amateur NIE based on this information, and here’s the organisation at the top of the list: 
The Republican Party. 
Shocking as that may seem – and your level of shock may vary widely depending on how closely you’ve been tracking the actions both center stage and behind the scenes of the rapidly toxifying Grand Ole Party – the real problem with this revelation is that we cannot actually do much about this threat in the classic manner. 
The threat from the right is the first national-level “insider threat” the United States has faced since the Civil War. It is insidious, asymmetric, powerful – and existential. ... Let me say it again: the Republican Party is the biggest threat the United States is facing. And without proper attribution, recognition, and a well-articulated and implemented counter-strategy, it could be terminal. There is no other reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the facts. 
An enemy of the United States might seek to sow discord between ethnic groups, or to wage a disinformation campaign, or to highlight moral inconsistencies that weaken the standing of the United States on the world stage. An enemy of the United States might try and degrade the capacity and public trust within our intelligence apparatus. It might use propaganda and weaponised information. It might seek to engage in fraud or other criminal acts to sway an election in their favour. Does any of that sound familiar? 
The Republican Party has steadily embraced authoritarianism, suspect electoral tactics, and racism more and more over the past few decades. That process has been turbocharged with Trump at the helm of the party. We’re now seeing an explicit embrace of white supremacy. Denial in the face of climate change. Deliberate sowing of discord within the FBI and the CIA. Weakening of the rule of law. Brazen criminality. Removing funding for elections oversight. Blatant human rights abuses at the border. 
The explicit nature of these acts is the point. The Republicans mean to bludgeon any and all resistance to their reshaping of the nation’s institutions to their will. And so far, they’ve gotten away with it.
I realize that I've quoted from the article quite extensively, and that you may feel like there's no real reason to go ahead and read the entire thing for yourself. But I suggest that you do, if only to more fully grasp the fact that "Donald Trump and his coterie of criminals have done more in two years to weaken the United States than the Soviet Union was able to achieve in decades."


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QUOTE OF THE DAY!

But how do we know for sure that the guy who was fined for refusing to rent to Black people and called for a ban on Muslims and called Mexicans rapists and called Puerto Ricans lazy and called for the execution of innocent Black teens is a racist? If only there were a clear sign!

- Our old pal Jeff Tiedrich over at Twitter expresses his frustration 
over how difficult it is to figure out whether or not 
President Rotten Pumkin Face is a racist or not.

4 comments:

  1. Well, and firsthand accounts of Mein Trumpf getting furious when he saw black men working in the accounting department at his casinos, and went about bellowing "I want Jews, they're good with numbers, n*****s can't count to 10". It's not racist, it's just telling it like it is -- I believe would be the MAGA hat response. As that fuckpig Dana Fuckpigger used to say whenever Dubya was caught in a bald-faced lie, "well, it is what it is". As if that exonerates every war criminal. Well, you know, we gassed whom we gassed, can't get worked up about spilt milk.

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    1. Yes indeedly-doodly, friend. You said a mouthful.

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  2. I haven't finished reading yet but have to comment.

    "I think it's patently obvious by now that what we are witnessing is an engineered phenomenon, wherein a new generation of propagandists have at their disposal bleeding edge communications tools and predictive psychometric technologies that have allowed them to create "psychiatric software" bordering on literal mind control. "

    Yes. The thing to look at is capital. Publicly-traded capital is yielding a media ecosytstem that isn't too terribly different from what the mainstream media has always been -- a vehicle for selling shit. Private capital media, on the other hand, is nebulous, deceitful, and enjoying a serious heyday. The current administration is able to do some serious mind control simply by having "friends" in private media, such as Liftable Media. Private capital media is also yielding some of the most horrific messaging America has seen since at least the 1890s when poison pens and guns for hire were the staples. Private capital uses counterfeit religious branding to cease women's access to reproductive care for the sole purpose of getting morning-after pills into every convenience store -- as if MAPs were bath salts or synthetic marihuana or Doritos.

    I'm telling you my old pal -- we're back to the days of the industrial revolution in terms of media, and I don't see how it will get any better in the next decade.

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  3. I can't seem to edit the above comment, nor insert links, but Liftable Media is a definite rabbit hole. Coupla years ago I whois-ed Conservative Tribune and it gave me a Chinese province. They have since fixed that issue.

    https://liftablemedia.com/

    What? You want some more? Take a gander at IJR. Somewhat less sinister, but they are a privately-owned media company with ties to the top of the Trump administration. In effect, they are able to legally do what public funding cannot do.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Journal_Review

    ReplyDelete