Are we there yet? You know the scenario, you might have done it yourself, the classic question from the kid in the backseat of the car on a road trip.
It works as a broader question, but asking that requires maybe backing up and asking, do we know where we’re going? Back up from that a step, do we know where we are, now?
That’s not anywhere near as silly as it might sound to a lot of people.
I was doing some online reading and came across somebody talking about a couple of problematic obstacles that come up. One was what they called “the culture of positivity”. That takes some explanation, as this is something easily misunderstood. It’s not saying that there is something wrong with being positive. The problem is a kind of pretense, maybe a little delusion, a problem of people maintaining a warped idea of what positive actually means. It doesn’t mean a perpetual smiley-face in all circumstances, exemplified by platitudes like “hey, it’s all good!”. For an example in fiction, refer to The Hunger Games and the character Effie, a deeply warped being.
There’s a huge and profound difference between that kind of thing and being genuinely positive, having a sense of goodwill, a drive to make the best of things, to appreciate the good, and not letting the bad drag you down, making things better.
The other problem was an epidemic of willful ignorance. This one is pervasive, and an awful destructive thing.
I would add something else, which is a problem I’ve mentioned before, God knows how many times now, because it’s such a pervasive problem. Lately I’ve started calling it by my own little term, Bipolar Political Disorder. (In case any readers miss the reference, it’s a play on words from the psychological affliction of Bipolar Personality Disorder.)
You know the stuff. It’s about people being so sucked into the vortex of dividing anything and everything into bins of Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative, Democrats/Republicans, to the point where they’re unable to actually just look at anything and just see it as what it actually is.
All three present a serious problem in getting a grip on what’s what in just about anything in public affairs.
James Kunstler summed things up perfectly in his weekly note a few days ago, saying: our domestic political conversation at all levels is juvenile and idiotic.
As long as I’m quoting people, there was another one from Chris Hedges:
The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum. –Chris Hedges
There you go. That’s on to something.
I don’t know how many times I’ve used the old Hans Christian Andersen children’s story of The Emperor’s New Clothes as a reference, which neatly captures a lot about pretense and willful ignorance. This is a problem of a magnitude that’s hard to exaggerate.
It’s obvious that this has all kinds of potential for gigantic and ugly problems, in all things, on all levels. Aside from all the consequences in public matters from people not quite fully operating with a solid orientation around reality, what Hedges is talking about is something that I figure is a basic explanation, and common factor, in what seems to now be a regular event. I’m talking about some character suddenly and seemingly inexplicably going nuts and going somewhere and shooting people.
Just in the last week or two there was a different variation, which made the gun argument a bit moot here, as somebody went around a high school stabbing a bunch of people. So it isn’t all about the guns, especially considering that the United States has pretty much always been a firearms possessing society.
So the question is why the increasing frequency of psychopaths going somewhere and attacking a bunch of people?
A surprising number of people, surprising to me, anyway, seem to manage to avoid even noticing or acknowledging the next question that ought to be asked more often than it is.
How many people are just literally becoming more and more insane, as a consequence of an increasing clashing dissonance between reality, things as they are, and what they’re trying to pretend they are, or what they’re told they’re supposed to think they are?
It seems to me that more people are becoming more aware of this kind of problem, the differences between actual events and circumstances and what load of nonsense people are foisting on the public, but for many other people, the dissonant clash between reality and what they’ve taken on as what they think they “know” about it is getting worse.
Right this second, what might be regarded as the most pressing one is the teetering danger of madmen in positions of government power (I can’t bring myself to write the word “leadership” without it being a bad joke) seemingly trying to start World War III.
I’m talking about the “Crisis In Ukraine“, to use a TV news title blurb. I would hope that anybody reading this has already read my earlier notes over the past few weeks about what’s happening, and has been keeping tabs themselves, getting away from the narratives of nonsense and reality distortion pumped out for months by our own government here in the US and the main news infotainment media.
A big part of the news was the sudden appearance of Secretary of State John Kerry on television, standing at a podium in Geneva and making an announcement about some negotiated agreement concerning de-escalation of The Crisis. That in itself, right off that bat, should get people casting a wary eye at the scene, as people should be asking “why is John Kerry a spokesman for this little show, concerning things happening in another country thousands of miles away?”. How is any of it any of his business? But, then, if you’ve been following this, you know that Kerry’s State Department has made it their business, and not in the way they would want everybody to think.
One telling item was a sequence of TV news video clip shots showing the room with this little gathering, featuring Kerry sitting there, with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland sitting, literally, right at Kerry’s right elbow, close enough to be bumping into each other, really literally being Kerry’s “right-hand man”.
For a while, now, people casually catching bits of TV news, maybe reading the paper (or a bit of web-news, these days), have been hammering, continually, hour after hour, day after day, with the narrative meme “Russia invaded Ukraine and seized Crimea”, and variations on that, with the routine following all that with noise about “Russian aggression” and dangerous threat to Europe, peace, security, freedom, democracy, and everything.
The problem is, it’s complete bullshit. It’s not just simplistic, sheer jingoism, but it’s just wrong, and the reality is also more complex and tangled than just some equally simplistic short statement can cover.
I’ve pointed to links to loads of detailed examination of the events and back story. Russia didn’t invade Ukraine, the Russian navy (or Soviet navy, in the USSR era) has had a naval base on the Black Sea coast in Crimea for about as long as the United States of America has existed as a nation. Then, Russia annexed the autonomous region of Crimea, after the Crimean parliament and then, by all reports, a massively huge majority of the population in Crimea voting on a referendum, asked them to do that.
Right now, a large part of the focus of the US news coverage is about the eastern parts of Ukraine, and the turmoil there. In those areas, the population is said to be predominantly a Russian culture, or even people who simply consider themselves literally as Russians who live in Ukraine.
In that part of Ukraine, there are evidently an awful lot of angry people, who look at the new “interim” government by coup d’état (or putsch, or junta), decidedly hostile to Russia and all things Russian, replacing the elected leader who was friendly with Russia, and have basically reacted in ways that come down to essentially saying “hey, nobody asked us about this”, and rejecting the whole thing.
One of the places that most of us here in the US had probably never heard of before is the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. There, people who are often being called Russian separatists, or, in the words of the coup government in Kiev, “Russian terrorists“, have taken over the local government, apparently now declaring themselves to be a separate republic apart from Ukraine, as they reject the new anti-Russian coup government and its unelected “interim Prime Minister”.
This is the centerpiece of the absurdity in the news over the past few days. Kerry’s news conference announced a new diplomatic plan about “resolving the crisis”. There were multiple absurdities here.
So, as it appeared in TV news; evidently U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry journeyed to Geneva for a conference to “resolve the crisis” in Ukraine. What that crisis is turns out to be a sticky item, really. The political and news noise seems to mainly state and define the trouble as being all about the eastern parts of Ukraine, those troublemaking Russian separatists, and Russian aggression, and this conference has been reported by the US government people and news media in those terms, to “resolve the crisis” of all that.
Aside from the basic assertions about the situation, one problem with this little conference is that despite there being a large bunch of people shown gathered around a large square set of tables for this chat, nobody was involved representing any of the parties involved in eastern Ukraine. In the days following that event, which was a few days ago as I write, there seems to be a general state of bewilderment on the part of some officialdom and news media about how it is that nothing in that region seems to have changed. The people who had nobody in these talks in Switzerland representing them mysteriously seem to be failing to do what they were supposed to do according to this conference.
That’s just the start. It got worse.
Part of the Kerry press conference was a bit startling. That was the statement that in Donetsk, people had handed out some sort of flyers, appearing to be a document from the local government taken over by the Russian separatists, ordering Jews to register themselves as being Jews with the local government.
Kerry announced this, and proceeded to deliver a statement of suitable righteous outrage and disgust about this disturbing turn of events, which triggered a natural response, of people being shocked, outraged, horrified, at a reappearance of an ugly flashback to a horrific period of history, of European history in particular. It was a glimpse of some new ugly turn, a precursor to a second round of Holocaust, triggering memory of Nazi Germany and Hitler’s “Final Solution” to “The Jewish Problem”.
There’s one major problem with this. It wasn’t real.
There were, in fact, papers handed out of the kind described (and shown to the world soon via news media outlets). Within a few hours, this had been investigated and revealed to be bullshit. It was a hoax, a forgery made to appear like an official document from the local government.
The guy who was in charge of the local government supposedly responsible for this in the newly self-declared “Republic of Donetsk” found out about it and promptly made it known that this was not his doing.
A local Rabbi in the area was interviewed and reported that some of his people had gone to the local government building where this supposed “Jew registration” was to be done, and found that the government clerks there were stunned and puzzled, said they knew nothing about any such registration, and furthermore, they would have absolutely no part of such a thing if it were to happen.
Allow me to save myself some typing, and quote from one online article:
On Friday, April 18, President Obama voiced his righteous indignation over anti-Semitic fliers pasted on synagogue walls in the pro-Russian eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. The fliers, calling on all Jews to register or face expulsion, had appeared the day before and were instantly denounced by Donetsk leaders as a gross provocation and a forgery.
The next day, however, Obama “expressed his disgust quite bluntly”. At least, that is what his hawkish national security advisor, Susan Rice, told the public. “I think we all found word of those pamphlets to be utterly sickening, and they have no place in the 21st century,” she declared.
This presidential reaction occurred 24 hours after the pamphlet in question had been thoroughly denounced as a fake, not only by the Donetsk leader, Denis Pushilin, who said his signature on the document had been forged, but by local Jewish community leaders and even by The New Republic, which cannot be accused of indifference to anti-Semitism.
Scarcely had the fake document been glued to a wall than Secretary of State John Kerry mounted his habitual high horse to declare resoundingly that: “In the year 2014, after all of the miles travelled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable.”
(It is an essential part of the Imperial rhetoric to assert on every such occasion what is or is not acceptable in “the second American century”.)
Now let’s be logical. When John Kerry denounces this document before the ink is dry, when President Obama and Susan Rice publicly endorse this forgery after it has been amply exposed in world media as disinformation, we must logically conclude that this propaganda morsel was a deliberate part of the US strategy to destabilize Ukraine by slandering pro-Russian anti-fascists as anti-Semitic. The purpose is clearly to drown out news of the pro-Nazi sympathies of the Svoboda party and the Right Sector that the US has chosen as anti-Russian allies. How can top US leaders be perfectly aware of what is written in Ukrainian on a piece of paper glued to a synagogue in Donetsk, and not know what was written in Haaretz and The New Republic? These endorsements are strong evidence of complicity in the forgery, since it is not credible that Kerry, Rice and Obama were too innocent to suspect a forgery.
That pretty well covers it.
When I talked about this in a comment on a friend’s Facebook page, a friend of the friend posted a link to a CNN story featuring US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt giving an interview where he said, about this fake “Jews must register” notice, oh, absolutely, it’s the real deal. In actual true reality, this “notice” was a fake, a trick, a hoax, and it was almost immediately recognized as such by everybody in the world paying attention and not either operating in some sort of scheme of bullshit, or simply an idiot.
But, as shown by the example of somebody pointing to the CNN item, part of the problem is that people who only skim bits of news, and trusting that people like US ambassadors are trustworthy authorities, get a seriously distorted picture. So we get generally sensible and functional people viewing the world based on lying and confused nonsense and manipulations, and then thinking all the things that are now common popular misconceptions about “the Ukrainian Crisis”.
All this is happening about a half year past the period when it was looking entirely possible that Obama was going to order some sort of attack on Syria.
That was a result of the threat/ultimatum about “consequences” if Assad crossed a “red line” of using chemical weapons, after a chemical weapon attack. Among others, John Kerry said that it’s absolutely certain that Assad attacked Syrian civilians with chemical weapons, even as there were loads of skepticism and an assortment of reports saying that it was almost certain that it was not Assad’s doing, or even some rogue action in the Syrian army. More recently, a report by journalist Seymour Hersh reveals that it looks like it was indeed a “false flag” attack trying to take advantage of Obama and the US government’s “red line” and push the US into attacking Assad to suit somebody else’s designs.
All this comes a little over a decade after the US invasion of Iraq based on the absolute certainty of the imminent danger of Saddam Hussein’s fictional “weapons of mass destruction”.
There’s a pattern here, isn’t there?
Meanwhile, besides all the other problems of war game lunatics and neocon cult plans for world domination, comes the misinformation and distraction of it all. President Dwight Eisenhower warned the country about it way back in early 1961 as he was leaving office. Now, here we are, the nation bankrupted by the war machine and the megalomania of lunatics, while the politicians decide that the solution to things is… more better bigger war machine, a more intense propaganda campaign.
A few weeks back I mentioned comments online from somebody about the Ukraine situation. The comment, to review, said (paraphrasing) that he thought the “real reason Putin invaded Ukraine” was: Russia is a major supplier of natural gas in Europe, fracking has made the US has the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas”, is about to become a major exporter of natural gas, and Putin wants to grab control of the former Soviet republics bordering Russia and maybe some more of Europe because he’s worried that the US will take away natural gas sales business from Russia.
It managed to be reflect being taken in by several different bits of seriously questionable speculation, deceptions, and fiction:
-the narrative that Russia invaded (blatant reality distortion, on continuous repeat loop from the “news“)
-that Putin/Russia has aims of conquest of Ukraine, and many other places (seriously unlikely, to put it mildly)
-that the United States has a newly bountiful supply of natural gas (pure bullshit)
-and that exporting liquefied natural gas is going to be cranking up (a crazy idea, for the above reason, although that’s complicated by the possibility that people will want to do this anyway, one reason being that it would probably drive up natural gas prices, which suits some people just fine; and even if that plan gets going, it’s a complex thing to do, processing and shipping LNG, and would not get going until years from now)
That gets us into just one subject area of the many things being neglected and ignored, or being simply lied about, in this case, our hydrocarbon situation. People are practically drunk on the happy fantasies being shoveled on to their heads by various salesmen and politicians, about a “shale revolution” being a magical new solution to all our energy needs in both natural gas and petroleum (from “tight oil” deposits of crude oil locked in shale formations).
While madmen and liars work hard at trying to get still another war going, many things are being neglected… or ignored… or, if nothing else, people will just lie their asses off. It probably shouldn’t be a big surprise that some people would be trying as hard as they can to revive and recycle the old bogeyman of the Evil Empire Soviet Union Red Menace taking over the world. It seems apparent, getting more obvious, actually, that at least some Americans are still stuck in that kind of mindset, like they’ve been in a coma for a generation, and others are willing to take advantage of it to create some diversions.
Orwell and Huxley would both be amazed, and more than a little sad about how right they were about some things.
Orwell’s novel 1984 got some things unfortunately right, not just about police-state surveillance ugliness, which turns out to be worse right now than even some of the paranoid “conspiracy theory” types had been chattering about. It got something about the mangling of language and meaning and propaganda and just confusing people with nonsense.
Huxley’s Brave New World created a fictional society that has turned out to be also right on in some things, to a disturbing degree, a bit different from Orwell’s. The society in Huxley’s novel was one where people were directed and controlled not so much by raw police-state horror shows as much as they were herded by distractions of vapid entertainment and amusements. I was reading an online note by Steve Ludlum (of the Economic Undertow blog) where he made an interesting comment that nails something pretty correctly, I think. That was that, these days, many Americans are in a half-mad state of mind where they regard things as only real if they’re on television. That’s no joke. I’ve had plenty of experience of people exactly like that.
Ludlum threw in a comment that was kind of equally hilarious and sickening, which was that if not for television, Americans would have no idea of the extent of the teenage vampire problem. You could add “or zombies, or…” whatever.
What’s presented as “news” on TV isn’t much help these days. CNN, right now, is up to something like a month and a half and, god, what, maybe a thousand hours and counting of “coverage” consisting of “we don’t know where the missing airliner is and what happened to it”.
It’s no wonder so many people don’t even seem to know where we are right now, never mind anything beyond that.
Peddler of Iraq War Lies Now Pushes Lies On Ukraine to Drum Up Confrontation with Russia