A distant online acquaintance wrote some observations about current events and circumstances, not long ago, and there was a bit worth review among many more words:
Oversimplification. Groupthink. Face-saving. False loyalty. Clinging to earlier statements despite new information. Insufficient evidence. Anecdotal or unproven evidence. Cognitive dissonance. Non-sequitur logic. Strong personality swaying popular opinions. Slogan-driven memes driving simple unfounded opinions. Teaching by authority rather than teaching by facts, observations, and logic. Making Decisions without testing inputs, accuracy, or considering short and long term consequences.
That sure covers a lot, and there is a hell of a lot of it. It’s epidemic. I have found myself writing about much of that here for a few years now, not because I intended to have all that as a main theme, but that stuff just keeps forcing itself on everybody.
A part of all that described by my online chum is the kind of mob/herd mentality that sends people stampeding back and forth over whatever item of the day or week is dangled out there before them. Given all of the above, to continue on the theme of what is “normal”, now, is another big chunk to bite off. I find myself with another episode of thinking “where do I even begin?”.
I actually began a note on this and abandoned it to start over, as it was becoming lengthy. Right there we have ourselves a problem, between me and any of you who take time to read here. We have all the problems of attention issues involving the infotainment character of what passes for news, the various media of communication across the WWW, people transfixed by some kind of zombie mobile-phone spells, and so on.
Recent events have included the series of hurricanes that swept out of the Atlantic and through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. That left massive devastation, including all the flooding around the Houston area, and the effects on the island of Puerto Rico have been especially monumental in scale. If we talk about normal, it should get some attention to notice the reports that followed the storm about the entire island of Puerto Rico having its electrical power generation and distribution system knocked out of commission.
It might be worth a glimpse at this excerpt from the opening words of the constitution of the United States that make a statement of purpose for the establishment of the document as the basis and framework for the national government:
…in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…
I throw that in here while noting that, technically, the island of Puerto Rico is part of the United States of America, sort of, being a territory of the USA while existing in the limbo of not actually being a state. How much aid to Puerto Rico is coming from the US federal government is a running question, and, naturally, a theme of endless squabbling arguments. It is clear that they have large problems there that will take some doing to resolve. I heard a conversation on radio earlier today on the subject of the island’s electrical system problems and how those might be dealt with, talking about the idea of “microgrid” systems to selectively patch together some electrical power supply to various locations.
How the island can fare with their electrical situation is a serious question, and should raise a batch of serious questions about how the entire island could end up with this situation. Meanwhile, all kinds of diversions bounce around.
Like, for example, hysteria about a special song. It actually is not even a very good song.
Sometimes satire and parody manages to get something serious and real across, even though the real subject involved is really not funny. The online news parody of The Onion is often classic, and a recent bit from them dug right down into things as well as any news report: “Cop Confident He’ll Be Exonerated By Clear Video Evidence Of Him Shooting Defenseless Black Man“.
This is a good case of something that is not really funny, but a sense of humor and absurdity is a good healthy useful thing to realize the dark irony that can be found around us sometimes.
That parody news reflects a serious and fairly grim recurring set of circumstances where people are frequently, regularly, being killed by police. It has been apparent, from a long line of publicized incidents of this kind of event, that your odds of being killed by the police, for no reason that is justifiable to any sane human, go way toward the “quite probable” area if you happen to have darker skin.
This is a pretty serious issue. Of course, along with that comes still another facet of the same general problem of racism, wherein if somebody is killed by the police in some grim situation and also have dark skin, it is suggested that they could only have been innocent victims murdered by racist police brutality.
An NFL player considering the ongoing problem of recurrent incidents of people being killed by police where it appeared that their only crime and possible danger was in being, shall we say, suspiciously black, decided to quietly protest by not conforming to the expected usual pose of grim reverence during the playing of The Special Song in the gigantic bombastic festivities that now precede football games and other large sports contest events.
People have lost their fucking minds about it. Are people paying more serious and focused attention to the ongoing problem that player (and others who joined in since) was so concerned about? No, of course not. No, instead, suddenly it’s all about people going bananas in outrage about disrespecting the special song.
It is not even just that, but rather, kneeling down on one knee during the playing of the national anthem, the special song, has people screaming (often figuratively speaking, in typing) “They’re disrespecting our national anthem, our flag, Our Troops Who Gave Us Our Freedom, America!” in a whole extended fit of conflation.
I just look at this and look at people and the noise they generate like that, thinking, really? That is what you think this is? Seriously?
Another Autumn Sunday has passed by, with its big bombastic rituals of pro football, and one bit of news popping out was an utterly ridiculous non-story about the Vice President of the United States dropping in for a visit to one of them. Part of one report indicated that the “press” entourage following him around were not allowed to actually go into the stadium for the game, reportedly told by some unnamed “staffer” that “there may be an early departure from the game”. How about that?
It is fairly obvious that the VP had no intention of actually hanging around and watching the sports contest at Corporate Sponsor Name Stadium and was only showing up to stay long enough to make a theatrical show of petulant righteous hissy-fit, then following a current custom of posting on Twitter, saying:
“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence wrote on Twitter.
I thought it was right on the mark when I saw that somebody had posted a response to the Veep on Twitter saying “if you think the kneeling is about soldiers, a flag, and the national anthem, you’re as stupid as your boss“.
Incidentally, and this is no small point, take a little time and contemplate the act of somebody kneeling on one knee, and find where, in human customs, that is regarded as an act of “disrespect”.
It’s a pretty large and obvious case of people giving a good public beating to a Strawman argument, but mobs of people follow right along and scream about “look at those terrible misbehaving football players being all unpatriotic!”.
Let’s pause for a second and have a look at a definition for the word “jingoism“:
Jingoism is nationalism in the form of aggressive foreign policy, such as a country’s advocacy for the use of threats or actual force, as opposed to peaceful relations, in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests. Colloquially, jingoism is excessive bias in judging one’s own country as superior to others — an extreme type of nationalism.
The date of September 11 passed by on the calendar recently, with that date now obviously regarded in a much different way compared to the start of the 21st century. That date was proclaimed to now be known as “Patriot Day” by Congress. It has now been 16 years or so that we have also had the “temporary emergency measures” of the national law known as “The Patriot Act”, where the act of an American Patriot is asserted to be to create a condition of permanent semi-martial law police state.
That word. They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means. (Borrowing a line from an old movie.)
It has become fairly normal now here in the US for people to chatter about being patriots expressing patriotism while jumping wholeheartedly on a bandwagon of full blown jingoism.
It should be noted that the large bombastic rituals of militaristic jingoism presented as “patriotism” at football games and a lot of sports contest event rituals have massively grown in scale and general mob psychology bombast. The word “freedom” gets tossed around a lot even while a lot of the people who like to use it seem to think this means “shut up and do what you’re told”, and don’t you dare think of doing anything like, say, a quiet gesture of protest addressing your grievances with your government.
We are all regularly told nonsense about “patriotism” as meekly obedient jingoism, including a kind of reverent worship of military force, with lot of noise about “Our Troops”. One thing that should be noted, for the people howling about any objections to this as “disrespecting Our Troops”, is that “our troops” follow orders. They do not decide what they do.
Anything that falls under the constitutional statement of purpose about “promote the general welfare” is almost sure to run into a wall of chatter about “no money for that”. Get to the part about “provide for the common defence” (trivia: note the British spelling of the day), and money is no limit to anything. The big obvious problem is what, exactly defines “defense”.
Now, after 16 years, the US military is still involved in war situation, even while it was never declared a war by Congress, in Afghanistan. To what extent is unclear, since that avoids much attention in the news now. Supposedly that was all about “getting the people who attacked us on 9/11”, even though not long after the US military rolled in there, 16 years ago, news reports told us that the guilty bunch of “al Qaeda” had scattered and fled through the mountains into Pakistan. Ever since, that has been presented as the oxymoron of a name of “The War On Terror”, and “fighting the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them here”, continuing “the fight” against the local bunch known as The Taliban, even though there has never been any sign, as far as I can tell, of that gang having any interest in attacking anybody outside of Afghanistan, appearing to reserve their violent hostility for any military forces of other countries invading their home turf, along with their own particularly violent and nasty approach to their ambitions of controlling things inside Afghanistan.
It does not take much research to find that the history of that region of the world provides a series of stories of outside nations sending military forces into Afghanistan with notions of conquering and controlling the area, and that never, ever, working out like they planned.
So what are “we” doing there? I am using the word “we” very loosely, because I have no say in this, and neither do you.
It is also important to note that the neocon cult in Washington once referred t the combined gangs of what became known as the Taliban and al-Qaeda as “Freedom Fighters” and “friends and allies”, with loads of support.
We are now almost 15 years past the “liberation of Iraq”, and, well, how is that going?
We have the neocon and their megalomania and ambitions of controlling the entire world from Washington, with endless games of “regime change” anywhere there is a government that they label, usually, as a “rogue nation”, with that being defined as any country where there is a government that fails to follow orders from Washington.
It’s difficult to even keep track of it all, even just keeping it on a broad general level. I would like to save a little typing, especially since it requires getting into all sorts of detail with a lot of repetition of old news here, by quoting a recent note from Paul Craig Roberts:
Whose Bright Idea Was RussiaGate?
The answer to the question in the title of this article is that Russiagate was created by CIA director John Brennan. The CIA started what is called Russiagate in order to prevent Trump from being able to normalize relations with Russia. The CIA and the military/security complex need an enemy in order to justify their huge budgets and unaccountable power. Russia has been assigned that role. The Democrats joined in as a way of attacking Trump. They hoped to have him tarnished as cooperating with Russia to steal the presidential election from Hillary and to have him impeached. I don’t think the Democrats have considered the consequence of further worsening the relations between the US and Russia.
Public Russia bashing pre-dates Trump. It has been going on privately in neoconservative circles for years, but appeared publicly during the Obama regime when Russia blocked Washington’s plans to invade Syria and to bomb Iran.
Russia bashing became more intense when Washington’s coup in Ukraine failed to deliver Crimea. Washington had intended for the new Ukrainian regime to evict the Russians from their naval base on the Black Sea. This goal was frustrated when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.
The neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony requires the principal goal of US foreign policy to be to prevent the rise of other countries that can serve as a restraint on US unilateralism. This is the main basis for the hostility of US foreign policy toward Russia, and of course there also is the material interests of the military/security complex.
Isaiah 1:15 New International Version (NIV)
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!