Tuesday, November 27, 2018

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE IN THE VOTING BOOTH

So the proverbial blue wave, all but dismissed by the main-stream media on election night, keeps on rolling in. Now at +39 in the House, recounts and run-offs, oh my.

No illusions that we are free of two party duopoly, but still deliciously satisfying to see the GOP drowning in their own misogynist bile. For the first time in history, 100+ women have been elected to Congress. It would seem that Senator (future presidential contender) Flake’s compassionate intervention was not quite enough to pacify the rage women rightfully feel.

The arrogant adherence to patriarchal privilege, so shamelessly on display throughout the Kavanaugh hearings, revealed just how routine the subjugation of women is within their fold. But perhaps even more tellingly, it showcased an utter lack of ability (and a lack of desire) to communicate with women in any way that does not subjugate them.

This repulsive realization has left the GOP barely able to eek out single digit “victories” in states where they control the election process from top to bottom. It has inspired millions to reject the Party’s entitled abuse of power, to mobilize en-masse to vote, to run for office, to take democracy into their own hands.



Notably, Kansas denied “voter fraud” champion Kris Kobach his shot as governor, despite being overseer of his own election. Along similar lines, now infamous (now former, he resigned the day after declaring victory) Secretary of State Brian Kemp will become the next governor of Georgia, having engineered a vast campaign of voter suppression in the state.

Prioritizing “victory” over democracy is short-sighted and desperate, but it’s all they got. We are seeing that Republicans no longer have the numbers to win without gaming the process. Every time the GOP gets their way through subjugation and suppression, it presents an opportunity for the people to rise. They are, in fact, sowing the seeds of their own demise.

This election in Georgia should mark a turning point in the voter suppression vs. (statistically nonexistent) “voter fraud” debacle. Stacy Abrams’ no concession speech and the subsequent legal action/mobilization: another model of people taking democracy into their own hands, mobilizing not just for restoration, but for expansion of our democratic process. No concession, no compromise with those who would deny democracy to stay in power.

It might be a good time to reexamine (retire?) the whole red state/blue state polarization narrative, and who benefits from it. Harder to engineer a fraudulent 1% “victory” if the state isn’t already in your column to begin with.

Not surprisingly trump and his corporate cabal circle back the news cycle with the ouster of Jeff Sessions the very next day, seeking to send a brand new slate of progressives into a doublethink death spiral. Yes, this is Nixon 101, and yes, trump’s new AG appointment is illegal, but Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

Cognitive dissonance or doublethink? The former comes up often referencing trump, implying there is actual truth being overwritten by lies, that one chooses to believe the lie over the truth. There are certainly plenty of Republicans (and Democrats) caught in the throes of cognitive dissonance, but I don’t believe trump is concerned with truth vs. lies. He intentionally contradicts himself at every turn, to make us incapable of discerning one from the other, to get us to accept contradictory positions simultaneously, to make us susceptible to suggestion. That’s doublethink.

This is why it’s so important not to get swept up in the trump spectacle. It’s like struggling in quicksand – you just sink that much faster. The entire spectacle is a trap. Reactionary resistance is a trap. Formulating a rational response is a trap. You can’t get out once you are in, and that is the point.

So what do we gain/lose by doubling down to focus on the longevity of the Mueller investigation? What if the investigation is endless, like the fictional war in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the perfect soma distraction for a conflict narrative obsessed Democratic Party?

Fortunately, that’s not what the people voted for – it’s not what this new slate of progressive representatives ran on. I don’t think they’re gonna buy what trump’s selling, but it’s up to all of us to see beyond the distraction and help them stay true. We’ve opened a door for all of us to walk through, a crack to let the light in. The GOP will continue to divide and demonize, so start walking, and take a crowbar to that crack on your way through. Throw the door open and put out the welcome mat.

As border patrol officers tear gas migrant families, I am reading an article where Clinton, Blair and Renzi are suggesting that Europe must curb immigration to stop rightwing populists. 

NOPE.
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Related articles:
The entire White House press corps should walk out and stop indulging this bully – Jane Merrick
Brian Kemp’s Win In Georgia Is Tainted by Voter Suppression – Ari Berman

Monday, October 1, 2018

OCTOBER SURPRISE?

Marvel’s What If comic was a favorite of mine as a kid. Inserting a minor, but pivotal, change in the continuity of events usually spelled disaster for all involved. What If was all the chaos, without any of the consequences!




Will Kavanaugh get confirmed? The question on everyone’s lips. Just a few days ago many people were quite certain that he would be. It occurred to me that this answer was linked to a forgone conclusion: Republicans will stop at nothing to install him before the inevitable midterm turnover of the House and Senate.




But what if that turnover is not inevitable? What if Republicans aren’t as desperate as Democrats think? What if Democrats are once again counting their chickens before they hatch, arrogantly thinking that they have the midterms all sewn up? Have they learned nothing from 2016?

With the very future of the Republican Party on the line, and I really don’t think I am exaggerating the backlash this confirmation would engender, is it good strategy to force this candidate on the country? Are they really willing to take that risk?

What if Senator Flake’s (R) compassionate intervention is just a pathetic attempt to pacify the rage that women rightfully feel? Were you ready to shut shit down before he made that statement? How ’bout after?



What if Mueller (R) were to exonerate trump this month? What if trump barnstorms the country on a no collusion/witch hunt vindication tour: two more years of delivering on his promises, finally free of Democrat obstructionism? Plenty of time to nominate another justice... What if this is the mirror image of the ’98 midterms?

What have Democrats got to seal the deal come November 6th if they lose the collusion card? Have they settled on anything besides “not trump” in the last two years? Why does the DNC/DCCC insist on sticking it to progressive insurgents around the country? They have a real opportunity here to end the Republican Party once and for all, but then that would require actually sharing power with the people...

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Full disclosure, I am no longer a registered Dem. I dropped the D after I saw the DNC foolishly blow the 2016 election when they could have offered an unstoppable unified ticket...

Friday, February 16, 2018

STAR WARS: POWER AND PROFIT

The film is called Star Wars (The Last Jedi), it’s not going to be about peace. But I’m a sucker for allegorical sci-fi, so I just gotta go there. If you haven’t seen the film, and you don’t want ***SPOILERS*** – get off this ride now.

There are certainly some interesting ideas in this film and, as others have written, it does tend to defy expectations with its many twists and turns.

For example, women in a galaxy far far away are really good at helping men reconsider their conditioned heroic tendencies. Reconsider that their rush to sacrifice others, and even themselves, in the face of impending doom, might be a bit overzealous, or even outright unnecessary. Sadly, the story seems to continue down the same inevitable path even after the women school the men. More war, more fighting, more heroic self-sacrifice, albeit in a more gender inclusive way.

At one particularly poignant moment, Yoda tells Luke “The greatest teacher, failure is.” But our boy Luke just can’t seem to let it go. At the climax of the film, Luke delivers the rather obvious applause line, “The Rebellion is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi.” Eight films in, and the war is just beginning – good grief. Way to learn from failure Luke. Maybe things will change now that he’s moved on.

But what is most interesting to me is the way this film addresses war profiteering. Yes – that happened. A major part of the film revolves around the idea that 1% is making all their money off the wars in Star Wars, selling weapons to both sides of the conflict. A life of luxury underwritten in blood.

The film does a good job subverting the myth that weapons manufacturers are loyal to a particular faction, country, side, etc. As Benicio Del Toro’s DJ clarifies “They blow you up today, you can blow them up tomorrow. It’s just business.”


Perhaps this allegory is sufficient in a galaxy where power seems to have little interest in profit. Evil for the sake of evil, the dark side, the last Jedi must die, and all that other First Order inevitability. In our galaxy, however, war profiteer CEO’s busily escalate conflict from positions they have been appointed to, and elected to, within our own government. In our galaxy, maximizing profit and consolidating power go hand in hand. War profiteers and the powerful are not two separate entities, but one and the same.

The wars they engineer divert resources and attention, simultaneously destruction and distraction. It reminds me of something I once read about the firebombing of Dresden; the people didn’t burn to death, they died from asphyxiation when the fire consumed all of the oxygen.

So no, I don’t expect Star Wars to be about peace, but a film can be about war while also questioning our preconceptions about war.

Lucas gave it a shot in the prequels, showing us that the Wars began as a distraction, a conflict methodically engineered to consolidate power in the hands of the Emperor (Senator Palpatine/Darth Sidious). The clone army of the Republic (the “Good Guys”) ultimately becoming the (Evil) Galactic Empire’s stormtroopers...  Maybe this has something to do with why the prequels were so negatively received: it’s just not as pleasurable to cheer for your hero if you aren’t entirely sure which side you’re on.

J.J. Abrams did a bang up job infantilizing the motivation for war in Force Awakens. We all laughed as Kylo Ren threw yet another temper tantrum, and General Hux screamed ever louder in some pathetic attempt to be taken seriously. Last Jedi takes this almost satirical absurdity even further, revealing the coldly calculating war profiteers selling guns to these squabbling brats.

So when the rebellion realizes that they are in a war with a bunch of insecure adolescents, what will they do? Will the adults figure out a way to take the guns away from the children? That would make sense right? I mean unless, children killing people with guns is somehow advantageous to your bottom line.
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Related articles:
If We Want Kids to Stop Killing, the Adults Have to Stop, Too – Matt Taibbi
STAR WARS IN THE J.J. VERSE – The Missing Point