How Many People?

75 new cities of a million people each. That’s what the world’s annual population growth adds up to. (Meanwhile rising seas, extreme temperatures, and a surge in natural disasters are reducing the amount of livable land all around the world.)

            “No problem,” some people think. “If we eliminate the big gap begtween rich and poor there will be enough to take care of everyone.” Nice talk. With no evidence, no data, no knowledge of demographics or ecology, and no thinking-through of their own. Just repeating something they heard or read in the corporate media.

            If you’re an American, kindly look at the map and think about where in the United States you propose to put those 75 cities of a million people each. If you’re a European, think about where in Europe you propose to put the 75. (Keep in mind that Europe is already very densely populated, and the less heavily populated parts of the U.S. are either a) inhospitable, like huge swaths of desert that have minimal water; or b) agricultural areas that are already part of the ecological footprint that feeds big cities—and that are getting poisoned fast by heavy use of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers and by feedlot livestock piss and shit.  

            As it happens, the 75 million new people every year are spread out all around the world. So they’re not so disturbing to the U.S. and Europe (except for sending floods of economic refugees toward them), but they do contribute to hunger, hardship and extreme poverty in the world’s less industrialized regions.

            Oh, and there’s this: That 75 million is just in one year. There are the equivalent of 75 million new cities in the world every year between now and 2030. (Do the math!)  How could we be so mistaken and complacent about the effects of skyrocketing world population? There are at least three reasons. 

First, politicians and big business bosses everywhere keep telling us that we need more people and production to have the gloriously prosperous future we all want.

Second, the media keep telling us, “Birth rates are declining all around the world.” They forget to mention that since the world’s population keeps growing, the growth rate can drop but the total number of people keeps rising, because as the population base gets larger, the rate of growth can decline, yet produce a greater total increase, because the basis on which that rate is figured is greater. Confusing growth rates and total growth is a key error.

Third, very few people think about demographic momentum. Today there are so many young people that if every couple in the world had just enough children to replace themselves, it would take from 50 to 70 years for Earth’s population to level off. A young population has a built-in engine for growth because so many people are entering or soon will enter their childbearing years. Young parents live alongside their children and even their grandchildren. It can take a half century before they reach old age and start making large contributions to the death rate. So even if they all have just two children, they can more than double the population. A population that has been growing rapidly keeps on expanding long after its birthrate has dropped to replacement level.

To keep this from getting to long, I’ll just barely mention carrying capacity. Ecologists tell us that if everyone in the world had the same consumption level as the average American, it would take three more planets the size of Earth to support us all. Actually we have to think about the carrying capacity of each place in the world. In some regions it depends on foot. In some it depends on water. In the U.S. some folks might argue that it depends on how many cars there’s space for on the streets at rush hour. That’s another whole blog.

How can we possibly deal with today’s overwhelming population growth? I suspect that if the world diverted just one percent of its war machine spending toward that end it might be enough to accomplish it. Five percent? You bet.

That’s not a plot to have more white people and fewer others in the world. Everybody of all nations and colors will benefit by not having more and more people competing for increasingly scarce resources.

Except, of course, the big bosses  and other very wealthy folks who get rich off others’ misery. It’s extremely important to deal with that issue. It’s also extremely important to radically reduce population growth. The two agendas are not opposed. They go together.

The Truth Will Set You Free — But First it Will Piss You Off!


”THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE – BUT FIRST IT WILL PISS YOU OFF.” (full disclosure: I saw the line on a t-shirt.
Imagine that you have a police detective in your mind who tools around in a patrol car, or rides through your neural circuits on a motorcycle, or even walks around inspecting your mental territory with a magnifying glass like Sherlock Holmes. Upon finding a thought or feeling that’s forbidden, the officer writes out a citation that says, “Forget it.”

Where does that inner surveillance of your beliefs, attitudes and actions come from? You may have learned as a child that if you revealed thoughts that were forbidden, it meant punishment or loss of love from the adults who cared for you. Or that you’d get ridiculed or beat up by the kids down the street, or by the school bully. So your inner police siren jolts your mind into thinking something different. If you’re like most people, you have a whole collection of such mental tactics.
So you make mistakes that cause you trouble. And if enough of the rest of us have ideas and feelings that similarly make us act in ways that harm ourselves or others, we can do major damage to our families, our communities, our country, and even the world.

All that’s part of what counseling, psychotherapy, and some spiritual practices are for. They’re to help people replace old ways of acting they formerly needed to protect themselves or others, but don’t any more.

Here’s a thumbnail summary of reasons we sometimes make avoidable (or even tragic) mistakes.

1. If we were punished in the past when we refused to act feel as others wished, at some subconscious level we recall the old punishment, feel the old fears, and avoid thinking or acting that way now—even when its exactly what we need to do. A similar pattern can occur when we’re afraid we won’t get something we need or badly want.
2. We deny realities many others can see because of “everybody knows” attitudes held by people around us. These attitudes are passed along to us by others in our “reference group” – that is, everybody with whom we compare ourself. Most of us want approval.
3. We want to feel like hotshots. We think that if we admit that someone else is right and we’re wrong we must look stupid. Actually, the opposite is usually true. Flexibility of mind leads us to be right more often than wrong.
4. We think that if we admit that we were wrong about something and change our mind about it, we’re defective. This is egocentrism that makes us dumb. When we’re willing to notice what’s actually going on now—inside us, outside us, or both–we become smarter. The effects are usually more positive than when we slide into sef-deception.

In some ways we’ve all been brainwashed. The plutocrats and overlords of every culture and country spin myths that help them keep their special privileges. “Half a truth can be a great lie,” noted Benjamin Franklin. We can learn to see through such mental smokescreens.

Many of the lies we tell ourselves (our acts of self-deception) serve the useful end of helping us feel better. We protect or inflate our egos and assuage our insecurities by pretending to be more capable or knowledgeable than we are. We refuse to admit, for instance, that we might be or might have been wrong about something. As a result, often we end up super wrong.

But how, you might wonder, even if you’re sharp enough to notice that you’ve been snared by some dogmatic belief system, can you step outside it and think for yourself?

Truly wanting to do so is a good start. Developing the ability to hear what you’re inwardly telling yourself is a next step.

Of course we all have our pet peeves. One of mine is self-righteousness: “I’m good and righteous and
you’re bad and wrong and maybe even evil and controlled by Satanic forces.” A person who’s feeling or acting self-righteous fancies himself or herself better than others who think or act differently, or who look or sound different. When that includes you, you may not even notice it. You think you’re just in touch with reality. Blaming, finger-pointing, and even insults are often flaming arrows that show that we’re probably projecting—thinking we see in others the things we don’t want to recognize in ourselves.

It’s easier, writes James Hillman, “to discover yourself a victim than admit yourself a perpetrator.”13 After all, we want to think we’re good people who are doing the right things. Recognizing damage we’ve done, are doing, or are thinking of doing is an advanced stage in psycho-spiritual growth.

Can you be that conscious? Are you willing to work to develop your ability to see and hear your own projections? If so, welcome to a better life!

Barbara Boxer vs. the Land Skinners

 

 

Senator Barbara Boxer (r) with singer-songwriter Carole King

Not long ago I picked up retired Senator Barbara Boxer’s book The Art of Tough. I like Barbara. She was my district’s Congresswoman and then my Senator. And one of the most resolute fighters for environmental causes in Congress. I read through part of her book, then was distracted by other matters. A few days ago I opened it again. I’d like to quote her at as much length as “fair use” allows:

 ‘In all my years in public life, not one person, Democrat or Republican, has ever come up to me and said: “Barbara, the air is too clean and the water is too safe.” What used to be a bipartisan consensus issue has become a divisive partisan one. The Republican Party that used to stand for environmental protection now stands with the powerful polluter lobby. . . on a mission to derail an American value that their party once championed. . . .

       “Republicans took over the House in 2011. I was forced to spend far too much time burying their anti-environmental amendments—almost one hundred of them within just two years—that would weaken toxic waste laws, clean air laws, safe drinking water laws, the Endangered Species Act, and virtually every other strong, protective environmental law.

       “They’ve tried to derail our landmark laws through the back door. I fear that’s their continuing plan, since they can’t possibly come straight at these laws. Clean air and water are just too popular among voters for any politician who wants to get re-elected to oppose them openly. So the big-polluter–controlled Republicans try to starve the Environmental Protection Agency, weaken enforcement, and roll back American leadership on the environment around the world in every way possible.

       “The word they substitute for “rollback” is “reform.” The word they use to undermine the word “protection” is “regulation.” These Republicans title their anti-environmental bills in such a way that you would never know what they’re really about. For example, the Clean Air Strong Economies Bill, S-2833, introduced in 2014 by John Thune, the Republican senior senator from South Dakota, actually freezes the EPA from improving air-quality. . . .And my favorite—S-485, The Clear Skies Act of 2003 by Senator Jim Inhofe, senior Republican senator from Oklahoma, permits increased air pollution by millions of tons over the EPA’s scientists’ recommendations and also delays enforcement of smog and soot pollution standards. Makes you sleep better at night, right? . . .

     “One of the harshest battles I have ever had to endure involved protecting us all from harmful chemicals. This is a story of deception, manipulation, special interest influence, and the revolving door. . . It has been lonely to take on a lot of these battles. Standing alone, all by yourself, isn’t a lot of fun, but there is no choice once you decide what is right. You must go forward. At least that is how it is for me.”

How did what Barbara describes happen? How did a political party that once supported a national consensus to clean up polluted air and water all across the land abandon that goal and sell its soul to polluters? How did it justify taking a wrecking ball to forty years of work to move the nation away from a dark nightmare of smoggy air, acid rain, and sewers and industrial waste that emptied into waterways, and toward clean air, swimmable rivers, and conscientious cleanup of poisonous wastes?

You might reasonably wonder, “Is the Republican Party really doing all that?”

It is. Even Richard Nixon, who resigned from the presidency in disgrace, appointed a decent, principled man as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Bill Ruckelshaus looked at the burning oil slick on the Cuyahoga River where it ran through Cleveland’s industrial district and damaged two bridges (the nationwide joke was “Cleveland, city of light, city of magic”), and he resolved to move the nation onto a different path. A generation later the Cuyahoga River and Cleveland riverfront had been transformed. Restaurants and taverns along the many times cleaner river became destinations for lunch and dinner dates. Politicians of both parties followed Ruckelshaus’ lead, until . . . .

Until the nation’s politics reached a point where election and re-election campaigns became so expensive that many legislators and appointed officials just plain sold out. Sold their sense of ethics. Closed their eyes and ears to whatever the big corporations that shoveled campaign money at them didn’t want them to see or hear. And tried to revoke, destroy, or reverse every law protecting nature that big business didn’t like. Barbara Boxer tells many stories about specific events and senators. And as the 20th century ended and the twenty-first began, Republican legislators and appointees found their hands so permanently zipped into corporate lobbyists’ pockets that, well, shucks, they just couldn’t seem to get them out. And by cracky, they plain old just couldn’t even think straight no more. As for what the people wanted? Baffle them with Bullshit and smoke and mirrors so they can’t think straight either.

Who are the major players in this movie? It’s an open conspiracy. A huge one, with many players and more money to push it through than all the gold in Scrooge McDuck’s swimming pool. How did it begin? We can trace its roots as far back as the Depression-era plot to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt and his pro-environmental agenda in a right-wing plot to stage a coup d’etat, dump Roosevelt, and set up World War I war hero General Smedley Butler as a puppet front man for the plutocrats. But Butler had integrity. He refused. The plotters were unmasked and arrested. Their movement went underground and stayed largely hidden until Ronald Reagan was elected. Then it burst onto the national stage with a vengeance. Reagan “reformed” the tax policies that had been little changed from FDR’s time through the administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter –the policies that were a foundation for the nation’s unprecedented prosperity during the post World-War II period.

Until 1980, when everything changed. Suddenly “Government of the people, more or less by the people, and more or less for the people” became “Government of the people, by the plutocrats, for the plutocrats.” Its goal was explicitly reversed from “prosperity for all the people” to “incredible riches for the few and tough shit for the many.” Reagan ripped off the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had put on the White House roof and trashed the auto mileage standards that Carter had enacted. Etcetera. The foundation for that historic reversal had been laid by Lewis Powell, who was a corporate lawyer and member of the Phillip Morris board of directors until Nixon appointed him to the Supreme court, where he was a champion of the tobacco industry and tried to suppress the evidence linking smoking to cancer. In 1971 he penned a lengthy confidential memorandum that was an anti-New Deal blueprint that outlined a program for big business and plutocratic Overlords to dominate U.S. politics. Wealthy heirs, CEOs, and self-styled “conservatives” who were actually extreme right wing anti-democratic radicals in disguise responded to his call. The Smith-Richardson Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, the Carthage Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and Charles and David Koch and to an extent the Cato Foundation all pumped huge streams of money into the new right-wing agenda that Reagan made suddenly respectable. Not coincidentally it sought to eliminate almost all protections for the environment that interfered with big business’s ability to make make the maximum possible profits. I suppose this collusion ought to have a name. Powell is dead now and no one is more dedicated to the great Republican cause of turning the U.S. into a plutocracy (with the Big Lie ‘we are ever so democratic” as a cover story) than the Koch Brothers, so I reckon it makes sense to call the present Republican agenda “The Koch Plan.” Cut taxes on the rich and pay for it by trying to get rid of Social Security, etc. When allied with an international agenda of domination of developing nations by more developed, more powerful ones, and heedlessly poisoning our air and waters to make the richest even richer, this is called “neoliberalism.”

America had always had plutocrats, but not since the 1880s had they been so powerful or so in-your-face as the New Right became. The American Chamber of Commerce became a hired gun to help the corporate elite gut environmental regulation and skew the tax structure to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. That’s what it is today. (No my friend, it does not give a damn about your desire for clean air and water and unpoisoned crops and land.) ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, began creating blueprints for taking over state legislatures, executive branches, and courts and sent them all over the country to be enacted by state legislators who could be bought far more cheaply than national legislators. Ever since the 1930s most Americans had loved Roosevelt and appreciated what he did for them, like guaranteeing bank deposits and setting up Social Security. But then came Ronald Reagan, with Powell’s memo in the background. Reagan was one of the most gifted public speakers in the nation’s history, with a sunny, optimistic, engaging attitude. But from his campaign to become president until he left office, day in and day out he pushed the Powell Conspiracy viewpoint out into the nation’s consciousness. His words were a constant harsh drumbeat telling the nation that government was bad and big business was good. He was the first of three presidents who appointed Environmental Protection Agency administrators who did everything hey could to destroy environmental protections of every kind, MOST ESPECTIALLY those related in any way to fossil fuels. (Bush Junior was was the second, and #45 never saw a blade of grass he liked unless it was on a golf courses.)

Starting with Reagan, the Republican Party swung into line behind the Powell Conspiracy party line. Environmentally, its agenda was “glorify coal and oil and tar sands energy production, to hell with nature, and deny the reality of every environmental concern.” Economist James McGill Buchanan followed Powell as an intellectual kingpin of the big business total dominance of America agenda. And in their view, “democracy was so yesterday.” But they used democratic words and phrases as cover stories for their destruction of its substance. Their real agenda is to dominate and win at any cost and have everything as they want it. “Democracy” serves as a convenient cover story to disguise what’s really happening. Above all, they’re dedicated to giving the fossil fuel industry everything it wants. Today almost every Republican in elective office has close to zero ratings from almost every environmental organization, and close to zero on all the environmental protection items followed by Project Vote Smart.

That’s where we are now. Along with one more item. Most of the Republicans who hold their party’s anti-environmental, plutocratic, male patriarchy, dominate-at-any cost agenda have managed to convince themselves that their program is virtuous and righteous. Some will even tell you that “God’s on our side” – just like Adolf Hitler, who made “Gott mit uns” one of his slogans. After all, how can they live with themselves if they acknowledge that they’re destroying the biosphere in which their children and grandchildren will live? And so they lie to themselves and to everyone else about what they’re doing, and about its effects on the natural world and on society. And they act self-righteous as they defend their lies.

That, my friends, is how some of the politicans Barbara Boxer once respected lost their souls. After all, if they repented of their sins and took a stand to protect and restore our lands and air and waters, and truly strive toward government “By The People and For the People” instead of “By the Plutocrats and Overlords,” who would put out the big bucks to pay for their re-election? What would they say to their deluded friends who follow the Powell-Buchanan-Koch-McConnell-Trump agenda? Who would invite them to cocktails or golf?

So make no mistake. The Powell plutocratic republican open conspiracy, with the Koch Brothers, ALEC, and the American Chamber of Commerce at its center is alive and well. (At least somewhat open. Never has there been as much secret money flooding into right-wing political campaigns, with no disclosure as to who it comes from. That ain’t no inclination toward democracy, folks. And it ain’t no inclination toward treating Mother Nature well. If that’s what you want and support, here’s hoping you like what you get.

 

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#45’s First Year — Anti-Democracy

This is a personal evaluation of the first year of U.S President #45 in office.

(NOTE: PLEASE REALIZE THAT WHEN YOU MAKE A MISTAKE YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIE TO YOURSELF TO JUSTIFY IT. The better path is to admit to yourself made a wrong call. We all make mistakes. Tell yourself the truth now and you can do so in the future. Lie to yourself now about getting taken in by a con-man and you set yourself up to be conned again and again. Just think about it.)

Note: This image is from Pinterest. I don’t know the copyright owner. If you’re him or her and you’d like it removed, just let me know. Thanks. 

We have now had more than a year to watch and hear #45 in office. (He has insulted and demeaned so many people and events, and some so many times, that he sets almost the worst imaginable role model for our young people. I find him so thoroughly disgusting that since he seems to respect no one unless they think as he does and acts as he wants them to, I no longer respect him enough to speak his name. Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States. The present Fake President or Pseudo-President or President #45 (or the S**t**le President– his own language—he just forgot to look in the mirror as he was speaking) is for me now just #45. I know others who are doing likewise. Please note that the paragraph is not an impartial factual statement, but rather my own personal evaluation of #45 to date. (This is a distinction that #45 has apparently not learned how to make.)

In the past there have been a few slogans. Theodore Roosevelt’s “Fair Deal.” FDR’s “New Deal.”  JFK’s “New Frontier.” And a recent cartoon aptly referred to #45’s “Raw Deal.” What does it consist of?  Just a some of the visible things we’ve learned are that he:

  1. Is probably the most skillful con-man that the U.S. has seen in the past 100 years—before the election he claimed to be a “populist” but his policies are for the billionaires.
  2. Is a pathological and probably compulsive liar. More that 2000 of his statements (many of them Tweets) have been formally documented as lies.
  3. Doesn’t even seem to know the difference between a truth and a lie. Apparently if he agrees with something he considers it true. If he disagrees with it he lies to both himself and others about it.
  4. Is far less concerned about foreign treason against the U.S. government and people than about possible discovery of any role he and/or his associates played in it.
  5. That he cares far less about the well-being of the country and its people than about the fortunes of the Republican Party, despite his once having said that if he ever ran for politics he would run as a Republican because Republicans are so dumb that you can put almost anything over on them (my paraphrase)
  6. That he is so deficient in kindness and compassion that his tax policies and proposals steal food, health, and shelter from those who are poorest in order to shovel huge additional amounts of money toward those who are already extremely rich,   and more huge amounts of money to the military-industrial complex even though the U.S. War Machine ‘s budget is already larger than those of countries with the second through eighth largest military budgets put together.
  7. Has appointed a cabinet primarily composed of people whose entirely previous careers consisted of OPPOSING THE MISSIONS AND WORKS THAT THOSE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT ARE MANDATED TO CARRY OUT, because he personally has a different agenda than those that all our nation’s previous legislatures designed to be intelligent policy for our country.
  8. Doesn’t give a damn about beautiful places such as national parks and monuments, no matter how spectacular. Apparently he views everywhere in country as potential oil and gas driling and coal and uranium mining territory.
  9. Unlike any president in U.S. history except Warring Harding, hs is blatantly using the Presidency to enrich himself personally even though he is already a billionnaire.
  10. Speaks of “bringing us together” out of one side of his mouth as he consciously sets one group against another and refuses to act or even speak against prejudice and bigotry out of the other.
  11. Is a pawn of the Vatican in his initiatives to make it harder for women (especially poorer woment) all around the world to obtain birth control and family planning information at the very same time that he talks about holding down population growth to make jobs more available.
  12. Rails about “fake media” when almost all the mainstream TV and radio stations and magazines and newspapers are owned by just six corporations, and at least one publication (the National Enquirer) has bought and suppressed stories critical of #45, while he himself is relentlessly driven to tweets that are lies.
  13. Received more than 200 million votes less than Hillary Clinton, and instead of instituting a government of national reconciliation that addressed both their concerns, ramrodded through his own agenda and completely ignored the concerns of a majority of the nation’s voters.
  14. Whenever critiziced or challenged about anything, changes the subject or the meaning of the question (that is, “drags a red herring across the trail to throw a dog following the scent off the track.) He almost never admits the truth of almost any legitimate criticism or objection, or point of view different from his own.
  15. Has been accused of cheating at golf by various people who have played with him. No big deal, but it says something about what he is.

#45 has drawn attention to one of the most egregious deficiencies in the U.S. Constitution: It has no provision for a vote of no confidence to remove a defective chief executive from office. The impeachment process is far too cumbersome and political. This deficiency should be remedied when the time is right. In the meantime, a massive mobilization on every front, nationally and in every town and city, against the ANTI-POPULIST, VAMPIRE CAPITALIST provisions of the present government is one option. This could include national days of prayer and fasting (on which of course no work except that essential for public safety would be performed and no merchandise would be bought.) Perhaps someone else has a better idea.

In my view, Russia entirely aside, #45 is guilty of TREASON AGAINST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, LAND, AND REPUBLIC. He is for the 1/10 of one percent against the 99 9/10 percent, even though he has lied and conned so effectively that a deluded minority still support him.

If we draw a historical parallel with ancient Rome, he ranks with Caligula and Nero, and even worse than Commodus. His presidential portrait should show him behind prison bars.

That’s the first year. Now on to what the rest of the second year brings.

Hey Donald — What’s (or Who’s) really “FAKE”?

HEY DONALD, WHAT’S REALLY “FAKE”?
I never liked Donald “FAKE NEWS” Tweeter Trump. I thought he was one of the most thoroughly disgusting and disreputable blowhards in public life long before he ever had a TV show. I am not saying that he was or is either disgusting or disreputable, but that those were and are my own personal reactions to him.

I suggest this: Don’t believe me. And don’t believe him. With every twitter posting, every speech, every statement, ask yourself, “Who’s lying here?” “What is this an attempt to distract us from thinking about?” ‘“What’s getting covered up?” Be your own honest judge of all that. Just don’t lie to yourself, or tell yourself that you’re not lying to yourself when you are. It’s not too late to save your soul. If you voted radically wrong, thinking president #45 would look out for regular folks when its obvious that he’s serving the interests of the ultra-rich (including himself), it’s okay to admit it. You can be truthful with yourself IN THIS MOMENT.

So. . . don’t believe anything #45 says unless you’ve verified it with truly unbiased sources. Why? Because he’s one of premier con men in the world today. He lies about almost everything. Can he actually recognize truth when he sees or hears it? It’s an open question But apparently he figures he can cover up that particular personality defect by insulting anyone and everyone who disagrees with him.

Nonetheless, #45 has done us a tremendous service. He has taught us ever so much about the word “fake.” Of course he exaggerated when he egotistically claimed that he invented the word, as any dictionary printed before he was born will show. Still, he clued us all in about how useful it is.

Fake news” is one of his favorite tweets. He apparently dislikes CNN most, and worships Fox. But he’s all mixed up there. No other mainstream media source broadcasts biased opinions and pretends that they’re genuine news as consistently as Fox. I don’t mean the local news anchors—I like those in my own area. I mean the network’s national programs. In fact, much of what we get from all the mainstream media is fake news, in which I include s real events that matter little and are meant to distract us from paying attention to events that matter much. But that’s just the start.

            Fake importance is #45’s personal specialty. That’s something that may or may not be so, but it has nothing to do with our main concern and is meant to make us think about something else entirely. Logicians this is called a “red herring. It means dragging a fish across the trail of a scent to confuse a dog that’s tracking someone or something. #45 typically does this again and again in any given week, so that you and I and his fervent supporters won’t think about whatever he wants us to forget.

            Fake labels, usually personal insults of one kind or another, are hurled out onto the net by the Great Faker himself with careless abandon. Many of these are projections. Typically #45 refuses to acknowledge anything even slightly negative about himself or his own behavior, refuses to take responsibility for almost anything, and accuses or blames someone instead. The best known example is his incessantly mantra “that crooked Hillary Clinton.’ Crooked, he claims, for using personal email servers for business just as Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice before her did. But not a word about his own truly crooked actions in bilking hundreds of contractors working for him out of two thirds of what he owed them, or setting up an illegally named “university” that resulted in his having to pay $25 million to hundreds of students who say he cheated them out of their tuition money.

Fake patriotism also can’t be overlooked. When one football player, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, knelt instead of standing as the national anthem was played, to protest treatment and especially police treatment of minorities, throughout the nation, instead of saying “The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression. Now let’s fix what’s broken in the system,” #45 tweeted that all football players who kneel during the anthem should be fired. Meanwhile he himself stashed billions of dollars of profits in overseas and offshore banks and shell corporations to avoid paying U.S. taxes on them. That’s fake patriotism if I’ve ever seen it. And if it’s not, then selling U.S. democracy down the river to the Russians to help himself get elected surely is. Some are calling it treason.

Fake government is even more important. #45 has appointed heads for most of the main government agencies whose entire careers have been devoted to opposing the objectives those agencies were set up to realize. Like militantly anti-environmentalist Scott Pruitt, who now heads the Environmental Protection Agency and spearheaded letting coal companies dump their waste in the nation’s rivers and people’s drinking water and trying to kill alternative energy so Big Oil and Big Coal can make Bigger Bucks. (Thanks for nothing, Mr Pruitt. And no thanks, #45, for appointing him and the rest of your cabinet members who have no business whatever being put in charge of their agencies.) Go down the list. #45 is using a sledge hammer to turn almost every agency in the executive branch into a Creature from the Black Lagoon who is dedicated to sabotaging the agency’s mission and screwing he American people and nation

Fake democracy goes hand in hand with fake government. Alexander Hamilton would probably have loved #45. Hamilton was responsible for putting the electoral college into the U. S. constitution. He was afraid we would elect Presidents who would truly serve the people’s interests instead of the moneyed aristocrats. And so a Republican-dominated Supreme Court stopped the 2000 election in which Al Gore won the popular vote and appointed George W. Bush as President, and our fake election overruled a popular vote in which Hillary got two million more votes than #45, but #45 became President anyway due to the electoral college system. And then instead of bringing a divided country together by assembling a government that reflected the diverse interests of the country, #45 went “winner take all” with a billionaires-first agenda that is tearing the country apart more deeply than has been seen in more than a century.

Fake brains ought to be self explanatory. #45 plans to build a phenomenally expensive wall between the U.S. and Mexico when he knows that the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea is riddled with literally hundreds of tunnels, some at incredible depths and some twenty miles long. And the U.S. Air Force and Army have deep undermountain bases composed of vast networks of tunnels that are said to be able to withstand nuclear bomb hits. Check out Google Images on your computer, search for “tunnel drilling machines” and you’ll be amazed at what you find. Former Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano summed it up: “If you build a 50-foot wall, it won’t be long until someone perfects a 51-foot ladder.” Except that in this case the ladder is likely to be a tunnel.

And you sure can’t get much stupider than firing most of the government’s climate scientists because you don’t want to know the facts they might find out and bring to your attention. But wait—it is possible to do something else at least as stupid. That’s to put enormous efforts into reducing immigration, while at the same time cutting off all funds for family planning and birth control, especially in high-birthrate countries that send many immigrants in our direction because they can’t find work or food at home—and going even farther, exerting heavy pressures on other countries all around the world to stop funding family planning and birth control. The two goals totally contradict each other. And the “libertarian” ideal of letting each woman be in control of her own body? Oh, I guess we just won’t think or talk about that. (For the record, “Mr. Conservative” Barry Goldwater was strongly pro contraception and abortion.)

There is also fake conservatism. Our country has seen some real conservatives who had a measure of honesty and integrity—like Goldwater. They’ve almost all gone down the River of No Return at this point. We’re left with a motley crew of fake conservatives, who make up most of the present Republican Party’s senators and congresspersons. When a big corporation wants to build a pipeline across your land (such as the Keystone XL) and you say “No thanks, I’d rather conserve my farm and environment as it is, you are the conservative, and the company is a wild, screaming radical, and so are any legislators who support it. Real conservativism has nothing to do with most of what gets that label today. Much of it is just plain greedy or even actively vicious.

The Emperor has no clothes. With every new tweet, it becomes more obvious that we have a fake president. Two million more Americans voted for his opponent than for him. He’s tearing apart the government by destroying its agencies’ abilities to carry out their missions. His invective, insults, and unending stream of just plain lies are setting the worst possible example for our young people who need a role model who is honest and responsible. Captain Conman campaigned on a platform of helping working people and instead is helping the country’s billionaires get even richer.

So thanks, #45, for dredging up the old word fake and making it more useful. You’ve helped to make it easier for us to see and hear its meanings—which are mostly just the opposite of what you try to tell us they are. Except for the one that’s truly obvious: “FAKE PRESIDENT”

But just getting rid of #45 via impeachment creates a whole new set of problems, since today’s Republicans who hold power and would succeed him are committed to fake democracy as a fig leave to cover plutocracy. It’s a real dilemma. We can make a start toward solving it by doing our best to become aware of what’s real and what’s fake in contemporary politics and politicians.
From <consciousnessandculture.com>.  No copyright. Permission granted (and encouraged) to forward this as widely as you like, as long as you include the whole thing, or if only part of it, a link back to the original post on consciousnessandculture.com

 

A Movie Review: “American Made”

The other day my wife and I  saw American Made, with Tom Cruise.  This exciting and scenic but not scary movie showed the CIA drug and gun runners of the “Iran-Contra” affair right there on the big screen. Lots of nice aerial photos exciting without being creepy. And real cuts from old TV broadcasts. The Reagan Administration ran a HUGE drug and weapons trafficking operation at the same time Nancy Reagan was appearing on TV and telling the American people to “Just Say No” to drugs.  The film portrayed many takeoffs and landings in Colombia and Nicaragua. It showed the cozy connections among the CIA, Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel, Panama’s highly corrupt, U.S. backed President Noriega and the U.S. backed “Contras.” The Contras were trying to overthrow a popular socialist revolutionary government in Nicaragua.  Reagan asked Congress to declare war in Nicaragua, Congress refused, and Reagan and his backers went ahead and started a war anyway. But they had to raise the money for it themselves since Congress wouldn’t appropriate it. They did so by bringing drugs into the U.S. from Latin America, making big bucks off them, and using the money to buy weapons to deliver to the Contras.

This might even  be the first major studio movie in American history to actually show totally illegal activities by the President and the U.S. government “security” apparatus. The movie leaves out some key elements of the real life plotline. It doesn’t show the sale of weapons to Iran, an avowed enemy of the U,S., in exchange for hostages. It leaves out the secret deals among the U.S., Israel, and Iran for big weapons in exchange for other hostages. And there is no mention of the earlier deal to supply yet more weapons to Iran in exchange for NOT releasing the hostages from a clandestine helicopter operation in Iran where the copter crashed until after the election between Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Nor does it mention that many of the drugs brought into the U,S. were sold into inner city ghetto areas to keep young male residents stoned out and docile. But even without those details, I found  the big-screen showing of this totally illegal operation by the National Security Agency remarkable.  In my view, it’s part of how history should be taught. We should show the less admirable sides of what our government has done instead of covering them up, in engaging ways that people will want to watch.  (I was, however, surprised by how small the theater audience was.  I thought it was a very good film of real historical importance.)

Creating The Enemy

 

 

“The enemy!” If you passed through the town near my home on a recent weekend you might have seen about two hundred Harleys parked around the local tavern and café. Black leather clad riders lounged among the bikes. You might even have felt your body stiffen as you pegged them as an enemy and your mind told you, “Look at all those dangerous bikers! Who will they attack next?If you felt that way, you probably wouldn’t have stopped to exchange a few friendly words with any of them. You might not have noticed that many had gray or white hair. That’s long past the age at which violence is common. You might never have learned that participants had to pay a fee to join the ride, with proceeds donated to a local charity. And since you saw the picture in your mind instead of the reality behind it, your thoughts and feelings about that gathering probably remained unchanged—and wrong.

That’s one small example of an everyday phenomenon. Many fixed mental, emotional, and body reactions shrink the amount of your mind that is open, receptive, and able to tell what’s going on. Taking advantage of that pattern, a very old manipulative tactic is to create an “enemy” to unite against. An enemy is not just an opponent, since you and a competitor can still be friends. Rather, an enemy is seen as someone irrevocably opposed to you and yours. Your enemy is out to do bad things to you. It’s someone toward whom you feel ill will, animosity, or even hate. Once you’ve classified people as enemies, you can easily be tricked into doing terrible things to them. You may even condone truly evil acts carried out against them by those on “your side.” So for example, presidents, premiers, prime ministers and legislators stir up wars that benefit them or the corporations that line their pockets with campaign contributions. They spend your taxes on weapons and send other people’s children (very seldom their own) to fight and get wounded or die. Several intriguing socila psychological studies have shed light on why and how it can be easy  to do that.

In the U.S.. the escalated antagonism associated with the most recent presidential election and its aftermath could not please the plutocracy more. As long as black and whites and latinos are hostile to each other,  our attention is distracted from the people and tactics in the power elite who are the ones who are really screwing us.  We need to step out those old antagonisms and unite to take back the country for the working class and most of the rest of the people. White vs. Black plays right into the hands of the great manipulators. Pretty much the same as political parties. Now we have a president who ran as a “defender of the people” who has turned out to be  a defender of he fossil fuel billionaires.

For more information see the experiments by Muzafer and Carolyn Sherif.

SOCIAL SECURITY — WHAT’S REAL?

 

elderly woman

elderly woman

Social Security — In the United States, of all government programs, it is one of the most successful and best run. Now well-offright wingers are trying to destroy it.

A year-in, year-out right-wing Republican agenda is to take a meat cleaver to the social security payments for old people and the disabled. Why?  Because, we are told, “eventually the system will bo broke.” You may or may not recall that the system was put in because many of the old and disabled had no source of income, They either lived on the edge of starvation or under bridges or depended their families for support. Depending on their families is the  opposite of what the we need today. It causes people to have larger families so they will have someone to support them when they can no longer support themselves. In turn that pushes population upward, Instead,  the world now badly needs to stabilize and eventually even reduce population. Resources and are declining and in some places overcrowding is incredible?

Why do the extreme right-wingers relentlessly push this agenda? For four reasons.  First, so the rich can get richer than they already are. Too bad for the suckers in the middle and lower classes. It’s a classical plutocratic, anti-democratic classist agenda. The attack has four prongs. 1) Cut taxes on the very very rich so they can get even richer. 2) End the  “defined benefit” system that guarantees that people will receive a specified amount no matter what the stock market does. Replace it with  a “defined contribution” system that specifies how much people have to pay in each month but leaves how much they’ll get to the tender mercies of  the economy is doing. “If the economy goes upward, they could get more than they expected,” say advocates. (But if the economy tanks, they could get zilch, or nearly zilch Tough luck, sucker. But the stockbrokers and insurance companies that would handle the “defined contribution” accounts and their stockholders would make a bundle. How nice! Really? ( like a slick salesman, they hope they can con enough people into supporting the proposals anyway.) 3) Carefully avoid mentioning that small adjustments in how much people contribute to the system now can easily provide them with a dependable defined benefits far into the forseeable future. And 4) Sshhh — be completely silent about the fact that half the country’s budget goes into war and other military spending. Just one example: the fleet of incredibly expensive new F35s that most of the top generals say is a s a rotten plane. A small cut in unnecessary “defense” (i.e. war – most “defense” spending does nothing at all to protect the U.S. itself)  spending could easily make up for projected shortfalls in social security funding.

These are, of course, the truths I see. They’re the way it looks to me. So is anything anybody says or writes about anything. As for those who (usually falsely) claim to have THE truth — beware the snake-oil salesmen!

Supreme Court Justices – 3 thoughts

photo of Oliver Wendell Holmes

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

 A few thoughts on the Supreme Court.

One of the issues in this year’s presidential elections is the appointment of new Supreme Court judges.  Long ago Plato wrote, “Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as it firs resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens.

      That’s an admirable ideal. It is also often violated. French poet, journalist, and novelist Anatole France said, “Justice is the means by which established injustices are sanctioned.” In a similar spirit,  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Olier Wendell Holmes once told a young man who had a case before ethe court, “This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice.”

       But justice is possible at all only if the Justices aspire to it.  Article III, Section I  of the U.S. Constitution declares, “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their Offices during good behavior.” “Good behavior” must surely include fairness. Fairness must surely include removing oneself from being a judge in cases where the judge owes something to one of the parties in a case before him. Two recent and present justices have violated this principle. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have both refused to recuse themselves from cases in which they or their spouses had received substantial sums, primarily in cases that involved the promotion and defense of extreme right wing ideology.

       This is odd for two reasons:  One, their personal gain from imposing their ideological biases on the country; Two, because the Supreme Court was not meant to “legislate from the bench.” It gave itself that power when John Marshall was the first Supreme Court justice, with no checks or controls on its opinions, and Thomas Jefferson declared himself horrified by this action and precedent.

         Failure to recuse in a case that involves a supreme court justice’s conflict of interest must certainly be termed “bad behavior.” The Constitution specifies that a Justice shall hold office “during good behavior,” but unfortunately does not specify a mechanism for removing a judge who engages in bad behavior. And in the country’s entire history, no Supreme Court judge has ever been impeached or otherwise removed for bad behavior.

           Therefore it seems clear that a brief Constittional Amendment is needed that clearly specificies the conditions under which a Justice shall be removed and exactly how he or she shall be removed — and what constitutes an acceptable defense against such removal. With such a provision, Alito and Thomas would both have been off the court long ago.

           Furthermore, consider the contradiction between right wing extremists’ screams that the Court shoudl not “legislate from the bench” and their calls for the appointment of a justice to replace Scalia who is at least as ultra right-wing as Scalia himself. That’s not a call for impartial justice, but rather exactly a call for legislation from the bench in accord with their own agenda.

Finally, there is the pathetic disgrace of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate refusing to engage in confirmation hearings for the President’s  nominee to replace Scalia. This complete dereliction of their constitutional duty is unprecedented in the entire history of the United States. There ought to be a provision for the removal from his responsibiiities of any Senate leader who acts in such a disreputable manner. When there is more than enough work for nine justices, and one of the eight who remain is checked out much of the time (Thomas),  then it is absolutely incumbent on the Senate to put confirm someone in his place. I advocate a provision that if the Senate has failed to act after a specified time,  the President’s nominee will automatically assume the position.

For more detailed thoughts about the judiciary and Supreme Court, see “Justice for Whom — Down the River of No Return?” in The Radical Wrong: Lies Our Founding Fathers Never Told Us (online booksellers — e-book or hardcopy,

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Daniels%20the%20radical%20wrong:%20lies%20our%20founding%20fathers%20never%20told%20us/_/N-w

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=daniels+-+the+radical+wrong

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Ostrich Syndrome – Self-Deception or Duplicity?

When someone studiously avoids noticing what anyone with eyes and ears can see, I call it “The Ostrich Syndrome,” my favorite name for self-deception. Candidate Trump provides examples. An interesting question is whether he actually believes what he says or whether he’ll say anything his audience wants him to hear.  Or maybe he’ll say anything and then convince himself he believes it to avoid noticing that he’s lying to both himself and others, and doesn’t want to feel bad about himself due to his dishonesty.  Psychologist Leon Festinger dubbed this pattern “cognitive dissonance.” Here are three examples.

This past week he declared that “There is no drought in California.” No matter that my spring that’s been reliable for 45 years dried up and I had to truck water in for a year and a half and then drill a well and put in a new water tank and system, for instance.  Or that the ferns on our south-facing hillside were al drying up and dying for the first time ever, and pulled through for now due to this year’s El Nino rains that finally came after many dry years. They usually drop about 2 1/2 times normal rain when they come but this year dropped a blissfully welcome normal rainfall. The previous winter there was ZERO snowpack in the high Sierra where they usually measure multiple feet to estimate what the Spring runoff will be. Trump doesn’t live out here and I guess he just didn’t bother to look at the numbers.   

Example Two:  The famous proposed U.S.—Mexican Great Wall.  For many years now there has been a tunnel for rapid transit beneath San Francisco Bay.  Far more ambitious is the tunnel beneath the English Channel between France and England.  The Air Force has had an armada of tunnel-boring machine every since it was building ICBM silos. Now it is said to have a remarkable network of underground bases. And not long ago Mexican drug lord “El Chapo”s followers created a mile-long tunnel to break him out of a Mexican jail.  The obvious conclusion:  Both sides of a Great Wall with Mexico (what a multibillion-dollar windfall for the cement an steel industries!) would resemble colonies of gophers, moles, and prairie dogs with holes popping up everywhere heaven knows how far from the wall. Personally I agree that there is too much immigration too fast to the USA, just judging by the jammed highways and beaches near my home that didn’t used to be that way,  but the largest share of it is legal, by-the-rules immigration.  A well thought-through national immigration policy that doesn’t put Americans out of work—yes, by all means lets have one—but that proposed Wall is Just Plain Dumb.

Oh, and I hear he wants to give more money to the military, which already spends more than the second-through-eighth highest spending countries in the world.  He says the poor old armed forces are badly strapped for cash. I think we’ve heard that before, from Edward Teller (father of the H-bomb) telling Ronald Reagan to dump billions of our tax dollars into outer space (“Star Wars)—which Reagan did. How about spending that money on job-creating environmental restoration projects instead, just as for instance, Franklin D. Roosevelt did?

Pay attention, friends.  If something just does’t sound right, whoever says it, there’s a good chance that it’s not.  It may be a straight-out lie, or a half truth (Benjamin Franklin said, “A half-truth is sometimes a great lie),  or self-deception (which Sigmund Freud showed us in detail that most of us do a fair amount of. He even did a some himself, retreating from his observations about child abuse and molestation when his colleagues gave him the cold shoulder about them.) So when you think you’re seeing the Ostrich Syndrome, you probably are.