McOooga Booga’s — The Fast Food Restaurant For People Who Will Swallow Anything

My Spiritual Guru — MulliganJesus.com — loves how Americans have turned religion into a kind of glorified fast food menu.  He created this —

Arches v1

Would you like a side of sanctimony with your ‘Whopper’?

Advertisements

Dear Main Stream Media – No, Both Sides DON’T Do It

I’m dying to know.  Which class is it in America’s Journalism Schools that’s confusing everyone?  Which class is instructing American Journalists that if you can’t write anything else, fall back on ‘Well, both sides do it…!’?

Whichever class it is, it’s screwing up American Journalism to the point where American Journalism is HELPING undermine the Republic.  ‘Both sides do it’ is literally blinding them to the larger — and far, FAR more  important — story.

‘Both Sides Do It’ Journalism accepts that a man stealing a loaf of bread because he’s hungry is the same as an industrialist stealing billions from the commonweal.  Yes — both men are thieves.  BOTH SIDES DO IT.

But there’s a difference of scale between them, yeah?  Stealing a loaf of bread and stealing billions are both thievery but aside from that abstract fact, there’s not an iota of similarity.  And while you could say ‘BOTH SIDES DO IT’ — it doesn’t exactly capture ‘The Truth’.  In fact, it perverts the Truth.

That’s what ‘Both Sides Do It’ instantly eschews: Scale… Proportion… Context.  It’s a headline that doesn’t actually match the story.

As we head toward an election that will absolutely decide this country’s fate, the American News Media is taking ‘Both Sides Do It’ Journalism to bold new heights.

Today’s ‘It’ — Enthusiasm.  Both sides have enthusiasm.  Yes, they do.  But the ‘nature’ of that enthusiasm — that’s actually the story.  People who want to restrict rights have one sort of ‘enthusiasm’ and people whose rights are about to be restricted — they experience a whole ‘other’ kind of ‘enthusiasm’.  Theirs is existential.  The other is merely cruel and mired in fear of the ‘other’.  It’s Lizard Brain thinking (as it were).

When you report them as being the same — it distorts everything about the story.  It screws with the Truth.  It’s not far enough away to be dismissed out of hand, but it’s close enough to blur reality in peoples’ minds.  Damage done.

When you approach every story already fixated on the false narrative that whatever crime one side does, the other is matching it step for step.  The most painful example remains every time a ‘serious’ news media outlet hosts a panel discussion about Climate Change and they invite a Climate Change Denier to sit in on the panel.

Television — this is not a revelation — is a mostly visual medium.  How you see things is key to how you perceive them.  When a news outlet splits a screen 50-50, the inherent message is “These Two Sides Are Equal” (by the same token if they squeezed those screens to represent reality — perhaps that would be a genius way to faithfully represent how arguments compare).  When a Climate Scientist shares a 50-50 screen with a Denier — the two are given equal weight, as are their arguments.  Science gets diminished while bullshit gains credibility.  That can’t possibly end well.

But that, too, is part of ‘Both Sides Do It’.  It slides easily into false narratives because it starts from such a distorted place.  Once False Narratives get launched, they take on a life of their own.  The Truth gets harder to discern from all the bullshit surrounding it.

After a while — as we have now — American Journalists start out from a ‘Both Sides Do It’ perspective.  They fail to see any sort of proportionality.  A candidate who equivocates about a senate vote becomes the same as a candidate who lies about raping someone. They both failed to tell the Truth.  BOTH SIDES DO IT.

No, American News Media — Both Sides DO NOT DO IT.

Both sides DO NOT regularly cheat to win elections.

Both sides DO NOT do not disenfranchise and suppress voters.

Both sides DO NOT ‘knowingly’ accept money from FOREIGN DONORS!

Both sides DO NOT lie with such shocking impunity.

Both sides DO NOT so clearly serve the needs of their White, Wealthy, Christian, Male donors at the expense of every other American.

Both sides DO NOT declare Culture War on other Americans.

Both sides DO NOT commit TREASON to hold onto power.

Both sides do not do it.  Period.

 

I Grew Up In The Holocaust’s Shadow

I grew up in the 1960’s in a mostly upper middle class Jewish suburb in northwest Baltimore.  Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that the area — and its Junior & Senior High Schools — were known as ‘Kikesville’, get it?

World War II ended 14 years before I was born.  By the time I started attending Hebrew School (beginning when I was 6) , the War was 20 years in the World’s rear view mirror.  Most of the War’s visible impacts were long gone.  But the scars — they were all still fresh for lots of people.  Jews, for instance.

The generation that had been alive during this atrocity now had to inform the next generation that this thing had happened.  They needed to tell us because even though the true horror was over, a new ideal had been born from the ashes falling over places like Auschwitz and Dachau and Buchenwald and Treblinka.  Jews would never ever go like lambs to the slaughter again.  That began with KNOWING that it happened and could always happen again.

It began early — knowing.  Keep in mind — these monsters killed children with not an iota of conscience.  It became important for Jewish children to understand that they could never be completely safe in this world.  You need to have that notion instilled early.  If you don’t learn it early enough, you’ll be surprised or disappointed or crushed when someone you care about or who you thought cared about you turns out to be one of them: A Jew-Hater.

Expect to be hated.  Have a plan — either to calm the situation down or run for the border — already in mind.

NYT2010100712284619C

The image that first got inside my head was this one.  Jews being arrested in the Warsaw Ghetto, sometime in April or May 1943.  I saw that kid with his arms up — his terrified eyes screaming ‘What’d we do?  Why us?’  Ironically — though a number of people in this iconic photo have been identified — along with their fate — the boy in the middle — the boy who kind of epitomized how I identified as a Jew — THAT boy’s fate is unknown.

Like a lot of young Jews my age, I identified with that boy.  He was me.

The Warsaw Ghetto — as terrible a place as it was — also was the site of the biggest (not the only) active Jewish Resistance.  From January to April 1943, the Germans were fired on and killed when they entered the Ghetto.  They fired back, of course — in the end, they wiped the Ghetto off the map —

Warsaw_Ghetto_destroyed_by_Germans,_1945

That’s what’s left of the Warsaw Ghetto — 1945.  400,000 Jews were transported out.  The Germans killed 35,000 Jews while starvation and disease killed 83,000.

The Will to Fight Back was born in that place.

When I see people like THIS in America — I know where it leads.

What’s truly horrifying — I absolutely believed as I was growing up that my parents and my community were nuts for shoving the Holocaust down our throats.  The World my generation was going to re-imagine would never allow such a thing to happen in the future.  There’s a reason we don’t let stupid children run things: they’re stupid.  And they’re children.

It truly hurts sto see swastikas here and know it’s not an anomaly.  It’s who this country is and always has been.

Lesson keeps getting learned:  Don’t get too comfortable here.  Don’t get too comfortable anywhere…

You live in a shadow.

Our Retail Politics Are Killing Democracy

In theory anyway, Democracy’s simple:  In self-government, the majority of the people get to call the shots.  It’s understood that the majority is made up of a multiplicity of views because it includes so much of the citizenry.

“What do the citizens want?”  That’s the first question.  But it needs to be accompanied by ‘But, what do the citizens KNOW — do they understand what they want in its proper context?’  A citizenry yearning for Unicorns and Jetpacks for all might be a little too hopeful for their own good.  We count on our elected representatives — we expect their perspective to be better than ours,  In order to do their jobs representing us, they simply need to know more of the nuts and bolts details about how we run things.

Can we assume they went into that line of work because they liked it — and thought themselves good at it?

Some people go into politics for genuinely altruistic reasons.  Yeah, sure — everyone wants to ‘make things better’.  The question’s always ‘for whom?’  Guys like Beto O’Rourke — you can hear it in their voices and see it in the way they practice politics: He’s in it because he actually cares — about people, about the commonweal — about the whole notion of what ‘America’ is supposed to be.

Ironically, Beto’s opponent Ted Cruz is the cynical opposite.  Ted thinks he’s smarter than the rest of us — and knows better.  He doesn’t know better what WE need — but he knows damned well what HE needs — and what those giving him money need.  Ted Cruz is ‘clearer’ than an Upper Thetan Scientologist on that.

American Retail Politics isn’t about doing what’s best for anyone.  It isn’t about believing in anything other than getting more votes (however you need to accomplish that end).  It is, by its nature, an exercise in anti-democratic cynicism.  And yet — every two years (on a national level), we demonstrate to the world how little we value actual Democracy and how much we value money.

Our media loves the horse race.  They ADORE it.  They see it through the most narrow Horse Race-y lens.  A zero-sum game where one group of Americans wins while another loses.  Then they wonder — after crowing about winners and losers — whey Americans are perpetually at each others’ throats.  Elections don’t take place in vacuums.  This one certainly isn’t.

Yet the News Media wants to tell THIS story as if it’s happening in a world where the President of the United States — and his political party — aren’t TRAITORS.  When indictments drop — whenever they drop — the News Media will act as if the crime started to be committed AT THAT MOMENT.

No — all the time the News Media behaved as if this was Normal World, a CRIME was being committed — right in front of them.  They even asked some of the perps questions — and got lied to.  The TRUTH didn’t matter, the ‘correct answer’ did.

It’s the ‘correct answer’ that drives Retail Politics.  It ain’t about what anyone believes.  It’s about the getting and keeping of power.

That’s NOT how Democracy works.

We are living inside PROOF that THIS — what we’re living in — is how Democracy dies.

America Is Still Dealing With Its ‘Original Sin’: We Screwed Up On Slavery

If you really think about it — and you don’t have to think too hard — an awful lot of our current debate about racism in this country is as old as the Republic itself.  When the Founders of this Republic sat down to hash out what this country was and what it wasn’t, what they wanted it to be — and not be — they got bamboozled by the pro-slavery faction.

The fact that the Founders of this country couldn’t/wouldn’t outlaw slavery within our borders was a staggering mistake.  We fought a whole Civil War over it.  We’re battling over it still.

Either ‘All Men Are Created Equal’ or they aren’t.  There can’t be ‘Some Men Are Created MORE Equal’.  Well — there can — but that isn’t this country.

Except it is.  Because we screwed up at the start and allowed slavery to not only ‘be’ but — and here’s where slavery STILL haunts us — to guarantee slavery’s survival, we reverse-engineered how OUR version of democracy would ‘work’.  We empowered the slavers.  We empowered A MINORITY.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that that minority is WHITE, CHRISTIAN & MALE.

Historically, White-Christian-Male Culture has hated and feared any culture that wasn’t IT.  It’s used the Law to punish ‘the other’ and their culture.  Quick ‘for instance’ – marijuana prohibition never had anything to do with marijuana being a health risk (it isn’t — not compared to thousands of OTHER things we do or imbibe LEGALLY) – it was about the fact that marijuana (unknown to White Christian Male Culture) was enjoyed by MEXICANS who brought it with them when they migrated (many after the Mexican Revolution started in 1910).

Those same White Christian Males hated marijuana even more when Jazz Musicians — code for Black Men – took to it enthusiastically.

If you look at the arguments we’re having today — and it’s heavy with racism — you can’t miss slavery’s echos all over the place.  What is VOTER SUPPRESSION if not white people trying to keep black people from voting?  That’s not occurring in a vacuum.  It’s White People resisting the fact that Black People (‘slaves’ to the republican mindset) are free, are citizens, and can vote.

Republicans despise the fact that Black People or Brown People or Asian People or ANY PEOPLE that aren’t them can vote.  They’ve seen for eons where this would lead — to the demise of White Christian Male Culture as the ‘dominant culture’ in America.  To the End of Slavery, really.

And Republicans desperately don’t want THAT to happen…

Never Mind ‘Winning The War’ If You End Up ‘Losing The Peace’ That Follows

History is littered with the lamentable stories of Cultures that ‘won wars’ but lost the subsequent peace that should have been the spoil of their victory.  Case in point: The Union (The United States of America) v The Confederate States of America.

Grant accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  The Civil War ending was the Union’s high water mark.  Turns out, it was all downhill from there.  From Lincoln’s assassination to Johnson’s presidency (and his impeachment) to the terribly botched Reconstruction to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan to Separate But Equal to & through every awful instance of America’s deep-seated racism — all born of a terrible, terrible mistake:  the refusal to deny SLAVERY at America’s inception — and IN America’s Constitution.

A lot of terrible things have flowed from the Civil War into our Timeline.  But the most damning and damaging comes via the Confederacy’s Ghost:  Having lost the War, it seemingly ‘rose from the dead’ and WON THE PEACE.  How’d it do that?

Usually, it’s the Victors who get to write the History.  But, perversely, that didn’t happen here.  Southern writers — or writers influenced by Southern sympathies — started using the term ‘States Rights’ to describe the Confederacy’s motives for attempting to destroy the Republic. Suddenly the rebels went from trying to destroy the country to being the ones ‘dedicated’ to making us ‘A more perfect Union’.

It’s utter bullshit, of course.  If you go back and read every Confederate State’s exit statement — not a one of them mentions (their supposed core principle) State’s Rights.  On the flip side — the Northern states do talk about State’s Rights — what they are and what they aren’t.  The NORTH cared about States Rights while events were happening, not the South.

And yet — the South latched on to States Rights as its means to re-write History — to paint themselves more favorably — and less honestly.  And damn if they didn’t get away with it.  We actually still debate, in this country, what caused the Civil War — as if, when the simple facts are presented, it wasn’t as obvious as a sledgehammer landing on your foot.  The word we’re all looking for is: “Slavery’.  That’s what caused the Civil War.  But Slavery was such an egregious error on our part that even ENDING IT did not end our problem with it — because we enslaved people UNLIKE us — and never made that fact up to them.  We never ‘owned’ our racism — and apologized for it — and made the people we enslaved ‘whole’ again.

We — the enslavers — did not do that.  Slavery remains an open issue on our books.  That happened because the Union, exhausted by its war win, left the storytelling part of the exercise to the war’s ‘losers’.  They LIED about their story.  They pitched a completely FALSE NARRATIVE.  We bought it…

And, today, an empowered, racist South holds outsized power over the country’s future direction.  Mind you ‘The South’ doesn’t just live ‘in the south’.  it’s spirit lives all over the country in small enclaves of tiny-minded, racist-and-misogynist thinking.  Their horse shit was allowed to thrive and prosper because it wasn’t cut down at its inception.

And every time the news media wonders aloud why White People are so angry, they’re adding to the South’s (and Conservatives’)  narrative that their rage is justified.  If we had just paid a little more attention at the start — when the first Southerner/Conservative spewed the words ‘States Rights’.

If we had just slapped them down — with our words — we wouldn’t be having ‘this’ problem now.

 

 

‘Both Sides Do It’ Is As Dubious As It Is Dead End

American journalism has multiple issues that prevent it from doing its job correctly.  Corporatism’s up there but we can’t blame corporatism for ‘Both Sides Do It’.

I’m curious — Is ‘Both Sides Do It’ (the market version of ‘False Equivalence’) actually taught at American journalism schools?  Is that where the Chuck Todds & Alex Witts & Andrea Mitchells & Wolf Blitzers & Chris Cilizzas of the world learned to ditch all analytical thinking and simply assume that all things are indeed equal?  They certainly couldn’t have ‘learned’ that from actually studying reality.  Or living in it.

The first thing ditched when a journalist tacitly accepts that ‘both sides do it’ is PROPORTION.  They could (and the Chuck Todds ALWAYS DO) ask the dopey ‘what if’ — “Well, what if this otherwise completely illogical, unbelievable thing were true…?”  The next thing they do — if there’s a shred of similarity — is “See?  Both sides DO do it!”

Yeah, Chuck Todd, they do.  Hey — didja know that humans and fish both ‘breathe’?  They do!  Both sides DO IT!  Of course, humans breathe air and fish breathe water but — that’s a minor detail, right — at least it always is where your storytelling is concerned:  “BOTH SIDES DO IT!”.

Let’s try on proportionality.  A man who steals because he is hungry vs a man who steals BILLIONS because he can.  Both men are thieves; BOTH SIDES DO IT.  The proportions aren’t quite the same though.

If journalism is an inquiry into The Truth, then any journalist taking up the mantle that ‘Both Sides Do It’ has just cut their vision of The Truth in half.  Maybe more.

Any journalist even ‘thinking’ that ‘both sides do it’ is a journalist who’s already left the building.

Bad enough as ‘both sides do it’ is as an ‘analytical tool’, it’s a hell of a lot worse as a basis for action — as in ‘both sides do it so here’s what WE should do…’.  There’s nothing of substance where the ellipse now is.  You can’t take ‘both sides do it’ and create actions to stop both sides from doing it.  It’s a dead end description — in addition to being inaccurate.

The way it almost always works — no, ALWAYS works — is we all turn to Liberals, Progressives and Democrats to ‘be the adult’ and step back from the precipice first.  No one ever looks to conservatives to make the first move because they know — compromise is not in any conservative’s DNA.  There’s a reason they’re conservative:  They want to CONSERVE something — the past is my guess.

Every time they compromise though, a piece of that past gets wiped away forever.  It’s no more than a memory now… .  Conservatives know that.  Newt Gingrich did.  newt-gingrichThat’s why his revolution allowed no compromise.  Compromise wasn’t just failure, it was extinction.  In response, Newt launched the full-on Culture War that got conservatives so crazed they thought joining forces with RUSSIA was an okay idea.  They thought taking Russian money and serving Russian masters was preferable to compromising with progressives.

Think about that.

One side does it for a specific set of reasons.  Conservatives and republicans ‘do it’ because they know the demographics are against them.  THEY ‘do it’ because their ideas appeal to fewer and fewer people — most of whom, it so happens, look just like them.  Conservatives do it because they dread losing power; they know it will never come back to them.  Not if Democracy works the way it’s supposed to…

Which brings us to Mitch McConnell — the man who has single-handedly destroyed the US Senate — the man who stood in the way of Barrack Obama telling America in September that our election was under attack from Russia — whose aim was to make Donald Trump president.

Mitch McC

Mitch, it turns out, has been taking Russian money forever… As in MILLIONS of it.  And we thought he was only the Koch Brothers’ lackey… Silly us.  Mitch literally robbed Barrack Obama — AND EVERY AMERICAN WHO VOTED FOR HIM — of the SCOTUS pick THEIR VOTE WON THEM.

‘Won’ them.  Or is winning different when Democrats do it?

DO both sides do what Mitch did?  No, both sides do NOT.   I rest my case.