Archive for August, 2018

What a Fool Believes

Monday, August 27th, 2018

If news-mongers were disposed to report fairly, they might mention that pedophilia among Catholic priests is not a “worldwide crisis” for Catholics but a rare perversion that affects fewer than one out of every hundred priests. I’d be surprised to find a lower incidence of sexual predation among news-editors, reporters, and others employed by the mass media. Journalists wonder aloud how anybody can call hinself a Catholic with this epidemic of pedophilia that’s been going around. I wonder aloud how anybody can call himself a journalist with all the needless misery that arrogant profession has inflicted. 

I may not be alone in the opinion that the motive behind the universal repudiation of the Catholic clergy by the news media is to mount a personal attack on the Pope, who has publicly criticized the USA, its leaders and the rich capitalists that exploit the world’s hapless populace. Among the boundless assets of the rich are the very mass media that warn us incessantly against socialists and other disseminators of suspect political messages. People like the Pope. And British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is accused by his country’s mass media of anti-Semitism because of his support for Palestinian rights. And Senator Bernard Sanders, who claims to be an actual socialist.

We have no way of knowing whether the news media’s onslaught of attacks on designated enemies like the Pope gets any traction among the people who are forced to consume this crap as news. The  last big public opinion poll they gave us had Trump losing the 2016 election in a landslide, so we shouldn’t place much faith in the media’s opinions of our opinions.

Maybe we shouldn’t place much faith in anything they tell us to believe. The way they have things rigged, they don’t tell you much about what’s actually happening in the world, but they tell you plenty about what you should think of what’s happening in the world. NPR actually brags about its listeners’ facility in discussions of public affairs when they gather socially. If you hear a rude utterance about Putin or Assad at a cocktail party, somebody’s probably been listening to “Morning Edition.”

I’ve made a list of some of the things we’re supposed to believe about current events and conditions. If you don’t believe all of these things, you’re probably a Russian bot or some sort of troll.

First and foremost among beliefs is the identity of enemies. We don’t get to choose our enemies, who are sold to us by our mass media. Putin, for example, is an assassin. Everyone knows the evidence against him is compelling. Nobody’s seen any of it, of course, because it’s top secret, but every single person involved in intelligence wll tell you that the evidence is there. Ask the Washington Post. You can trust them. They warned us about the nuclear weapons our designated enemy didn’t have in a country we destroyed.

Here’s what Putin does, just to make us look bad. He circulates stories about bad things happening in the USA, like police officers shooting dark-skinned kids, and famous rich guys raping beautiful girls, and belching power plants polluting the air and water. It’s not that these things aren’t happening, but Putin’s got no business talking about them. Does he?

Another thing you should believe is that rich people–what The New Yorker calls the “donor class”–are just like us. They want what’s best for the grandkids just like you do. It’s true that every move they make is calculated to make them richer today than they were yesterday, but that’s only natural. It’s what you would do if you had unlimited resources, right? Use them to accumulate more? I mean, really, is there such a thing as enough?

You should believe that people in foreign countries want to undermine our cherished democratic processes. Our cherished Democratic “Superdelegates.” Our cherished gerrymandered congressional districts. Our cherished for-profit criminal justice system. If Kim Jong Un ever gets his hands on our voter software, we should believe, our elections could be tainted. Not to worry about George Soros, however, or Rupert Murdoch or the Koch brothers, who have 30 million dollars to spend on the 2018 elections.

You should believe that three skyscrapers fell down in New York City because two of them got hit with airplanes. And the reason the airplanes were there in the first place was that the Air Force couldn’t find their way to New York in time to intercept them. They only had about an hour to find the rascally Arabs you’re supposed to believe were flying the airliners.

You should believe that Arabs are bad. They’re dirty. They don’t take good care of their kids. They don’t like you or people like you. Never mind that they maintain peaceful relations with other peoples, are  notoriously tolerant of strangers, and are generally considered courteous to a fault. You know what they look like–dark–and how they dress–everybody alike.  Do the math.

You should believe that soldiers are heroes. Yes, they wear body armor. Yes, they kill by remote control. Yes, some of them rape local women. But they’re there–on every continent on hundreds of bases throughout the world–to protect your freedom and especially the freedom of international capitalists to exploit human and natural resources anywhere they please. Thank them for their service. They really love that.

You should believe that the CIA, NSA and FBI have cleaned up their act. When they say Russia’s dangerous you should believe them. They always told the truth before. right? Afghanistan’s much improved as a result of CIA involvement. And NSA’s got the goods on just about everybody, giving our government the means to blackmail any person on earth. And that’s a good thing. For  us. Ask a New York Times reporter.

You should believe that the state of US culture–music, art, theater, literature–is sound and that the stream of rubbish assaulting you from every direction is actually worth reading, looking at or listening to. What passes for music, what is tagged as poetry, what audiences must tolerate as “drama” may seem  uniformly trashy and trite, but it’s what NPR calls American culture.

You should believe that it’s your own fault if you’re dissatisfied with the way things are. Yes, suicides are on the rise. Yes, alcoholism is spreading. Yes, ordinary white people are becoming junkies. But that’s because of personal weakness, not because of anything we Americans are doing. Believe this: We’re the best generation of the best people on earth. Right? Right.

здравствуйте

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

I don’t know a lot of Russian, but I know how to say “Hi.” That’s ironic because I seem to have been mistaken for a Russian troll. I’ve been highly critical of “our cherished democratic institutions” and have for years been pointing out deficiencies in our systems and in ourselves. Yesterday I heard a gaggle of US senators saying it’s Russians that are doing this, and they’re posting this stuff on Facebook. I quit Facebook a couple of months ago, but I was doing exactly the same thing right up till the day I closed my account. 

Facebook says it shut down any number of accounts that were “meant to create political discord” in the populace and claims it edited out some of the most dvisive stuff. I have no way of knowing whether any of my posts were censored, but what I posted was invective. By definition, I’m a sower of discord. I’d like full credit for that, and I’m not happy to share the credit with unnamed Russians.

According to the senators, Vladimir Putin is pulling the strings behind an orchestrated campaign to bad-mouth the USA, with harsh rhetoric on stuff like racial prejudice, environmental pollution, mass murder, suicide, drug addiction, domestic abuse, a permanent state of war, corrupt politicians, material inequality, etc. Sure, we have all this stuff, but talking about it is just divisive. It makes us angry with each other, and we don’t want that.

Facebook has a right to censor my remarks. It’s a private company, and private companies don’t have any obligation to respect my freedom to comment. Government, in contrast, is forbidden to censor me. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution says “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech . . . ” Interesting that none of these moronic senators made mention of that detail. Notice that the provision doesn’t confine itself to U. S. citizens. Russians are allowed to express opinions, too. Facebook may have a right to censor objectionable political opinion, but Congress has no authority to tell Facebook what discordant rhetoric to allow and what to censor.

You want to see some political discord, take a look at the abolitiionist rhetoric of 1855. If it hadn’t been for the divisive rhetoric of those days, dark skinned people would still be in chains. The divisive rhetoric of 1900 ended child labor and eventually produced gains in the rights of workers. Divisive rhetoric a generation later gave us Social Security and rural electrification. Politics is divisive rhetoric, and any senator or news-reporter or voter that doesn’t recognize that is an idiot.

Oops, there I go being divisive again. Making people angry. If somebody says to you, “I think we ought to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of Arizona,” don’t get mad. Best not to say anything. If somebody comes into your workplace and announces that Trump is making America great again, don’t call him shit-for-brains. Don’t be uncivil to people who don’t agree with you that cops ought to stop shooting black kids. And don’t criticize our electoral process, like the Russians do. You wouldn’t want to upset the system that gave us two corrupt rich people as presidential candidates in 2016. The system that, in its mass media component, suppressed all news about the most popular political figure in the USA and gave us nonstop coverage of the two candidates who put out the best buffets for reporters.

If Putin did what the senators say he did, we should be thanking him. For sure, our own leaders won’t be acknowledging racism, corruption, war-mongering, or injustice, because, once conscious of these problems, they might have to do something about them. Instead, they’re going to crack down on dissident opinion.  For purveyors of invective like me, that’s bad news.