Thursday, July 13, 2017

Evaluating The Russian Hacking Argument

I would like to think I learned something during my time in college. And as I majored in English, I would say what I learned is how to create an intelligent argument as well as how to critically evaluate the arguments of others. I wrote countless papers not only for my English classes but also for history, philosophy, religion and others, all of my teachers grading me on how well I put forth my argument. And as I went to a small Catholic liberal arts college, many of my professors were nuns who took their jobs quite seriously.

I worked too, for a time, as a reporter for a newspaper, though I would never dare call what I did journalism. Still, I did know a few people I considered journalists and had a basic understanding of journalistic procedure. So as I take issue with the official narrative of Russian hacking, please note that I have some small platform upon which I base my argument.

First let me say that if you have proof you have no need for an argument and if you have no proof you need a compelling argument. The Russian hacking story has neither. Let me show you what proof of interference in the election of another country looks like.

(By the way, this is what people are referring to when they speak of a deep state: unelected officials who remain in power whether we vote in a Democratic or Republican administration, making decisions that the average citizen is not even aware of. Victoria Nuland worked for the Obama administration. Her husband, Robert Kagan, was one of the principle authors of the Project For A New American Century, the guiding vision behind George W. Bush’s presidency.)

The above clip requires no argument. Here you can hear two U.S. officials discussing who they are going to choose to be the next leader of Ukraine. This isn’t a smoking gun, it is you being there as the gun is fired. This is proof that has no need for unnamed sources.

The mainstream media try to act as though “Russian hacking” is incontrovertible, an established fact to which only fools and tools would object. But there is in fact no proof nor is there even an explanation for what the term means. If there is no proof, then there must be a compelling argument, and an argument needs to be tested before it should be accepted. Have you ever heard the proponents for the “Russian hacking” narrative call for a rational debate to get to the truth of the matter or do you hear them shouting down opposing narratives? I could only imagine what my English Professor Sr. Renita would have to say about such an argument.

I try to think what she would say if I were to turn in a paper on “Russian hacking” similar to the one the mainstream media has given to us. She would say that the paper has no concise thesis. She would say that the phrase Russian hacking was so broad and vague that it could encompass everything or nothing. She would demand I state clearly what it was I was trying to argue. It’s called a thesis statement.

Next she would tell me to cite my sources. If one of my papers was even a tiny bit unclear on who the quote was attributed to, you can believe I heard about it. Oh boy, I could only imagine what she would say if I included quotes from “unnamed sources”.

She would also insist that I cite many different sources in order to make a more compelling argument. I would tell her that I cited many different sources, CNN, The New York Times, The Daily Kos, etc. Then I would get real quiet and hope she didn’t bother to actually check into the sources I’ve cited. Because in 95% of the articles I’ve read on Russian hacking, they invariably refer back to The Washington Post quoting unnamed U.S. Officials. Check them out here, here, here, here, and elsewhere. But of course, Sister Renita took her job seriously and would have looked into my sources and called me out on it.

Now I know that journalism is different than writing a research paper for your teacher. Unnamed sources are often necessary to help a journalist get his story. But to rely exclusively on unnamed sources and to be so utterly and immediately convinced of what they are telling you smells of something and it ain’t journalism.

Especially when the owner of your paper has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Surely we must harbor some skepticism about the relationship between “unnamed U.S. officials” and a newspaper owned by someone who profits greatly from a secretive government organization with a very long and established history in overthrowing foreign governments and manufacturing justifications for war.

“But,” you say, “where there’s smoke, there’s surely fire.” I will grant you the fire, though the smoke smells suspiciously like wacky tobacky. In fact, for the sake of argument, I will grant you every theory that has been posited by those searching for fire. I freely admit that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are homosexual lovers who colluded to hack the U.S. election, the French election, the Vermont power grid, and make love to each other while Russian prostitutes pee on them. I will agree with you on all of this and whatever other suspicions may arise, whether there be fire or smoke or a whisp of vapor you thought you might have spied out of the corner of your eye.

I have granted not only that you have the rights to your beliefs but accept them as the Gospel truth, and all I ask in return is that you consider for a moment a few questions regarding—not Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin—the media.

Do you believe the media’s behavior during this episode has been exemplary, or even normal? Do you ever remember a news story so filled with references to unnamed sources? Please keep in mind I have already ceded the argument on the guilt of Trump and Putin, my concerns rest solely with the behavior and worth of the mainstream media.

Do you think their primary concern is to dig for the truth in the matter or has profit become not only their primary but in fact their only motivator? Does the mainstream media exist to educate us so that we can better perform our roles as citizens or does it exist merely to titillate and distract us while making millions for it owners? Should journalism consist of investigative journalists doing the hard work of sifting through the vast amounts of information that is out there in order to get to the truth amidst the spin, or is it enough to have a few camera-friendly people sit around tables and ask questions of paid representatives of organizations that were founded to promote the agendas of powerful entities?

Do you think the media has your best interests at heart, or do they care most about pleasing those who pay them money to advertise, businesses like pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, oil companies, and weapons manufacturers? Is even National Public Radio capable of being impartial when they are being funded by the Koch brothers and the Waltons?

Do you feel the media has done a sufficient job providing you context of Russia’s place in the world and the legitimate concerns of the Russian people and their government? Have they explained to you why Russia is in Syria, or why the U.S. military is involved there to oppose both ISIS AND the Syrian government that is fighting for its life against ISIS?

Here is the most relevant question I have for you: Is the mainstream media enabling you to understand the world you live in so that you feel you have a way of helping to shape it, or does the mainstream media cause you to become confused, frightened and angry? Does the mainstream media help make sense of current events, does it empower you to fashion a government that works for you and all citizens of this nation of ours, or does it frustrate and disgust you to the point you turn off the television?

If the media is not providing us with the information and context we need to make the decisions that will affect our lives, is this not an even greater concern than Russia hacking our elections and dictating the behavior of our president? After all, a president can be impeached, future elections can be safeguarded. But a media that does more to propagandize and distract us than it does to enlighten us, how do we begin to fix that?

Again, let me remind you for the sake of this argument that I agree completely with the very worst accusations that have been made against both Donald Trump and Putin’s Russia. Even so, do those accusations merit the attention that the media has spent on it? The media thinks so.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Deconstruction Of The Phrase "Russia Attempts To Hack Our Democracy"

I read this phrase recently—probably for the thousandth time—but the sheer idiocy of it finally struck home. The phrase is this: “Russian attempts to hack our democracy.” It has been bothering me for a while now, but sometimes it takes a while for inanity to cross the Rubicon. Roll it upon your tongue for a moment: “Russia attempts to hack our democracy”. Taste it if you can, see if you can find any depth or substance in this cotton candy assertion. To anyone with a sophisticated palate, the unusual pairings are rather jarring.

Let’s break it down, if we are capable of such an effort. Like a McDonald’s cheeseburger, it can appear quite acceptable to one who doesn’t much think about what one is consuming. But let us be connoisseurs of message for a moment, let us think about what it is we are digesting. Let us study the relatively simple phrase in its component parts, explore what the symbols mean to us.

Russian. The word is replete with associations. It has always been synonymous with the Soviet Union in the minds of anyone older than thirty and younger than a hundred and ten. The U.S. had always been the home team and the U.S.S.R. was (for anyone outside New York) the Yankees. They were the Ivan Drago to our beloved Rocky. They are the destroyers of freedom. They are, pure and simple, THE ENEMY! They are and always will be Mordor, the evil empire, the land to the east that is by its very existence a threat to all free peoples. One wonders why God or Tolkien saw fit to create such an abomination. We would all be better off if cartographers simply omitted it from any future maps.

Russian hack. What does this mean? Is hack the right word? Did Russia use sophisticated computer technology to change voting? Was it more damaging than the purging of blacks from voting by voter ID laws or sup-par equipment and limited access in lower-class neighborhoods? If it was not, why is the media ignoring such issues in favor of Russian hacking? Don’t they want what’s best for us?

Is it more relevant to our lives as Americans than the billions of dollars poured into our elections from special interest groups that determine the policies that their bought candidates do not write but rather copy into law? Is it more relevant to our elections than the fact that every single major political aspirant must genuflect before AIPAC, Israel’s lobbying group?

What do they mean by hacking? What does the word “hack” mean? What exactly does Russia stand accused of? For God’s sake, how can we prevent it from happening again if we don’t know what “it” is? I guess the lesson is that our secret intelligence agencies will take care of it and that we only need trust them. But it makes me wonder: how can we trust them to take care of the problem when they weren’t able to prevent it in the first place? And it makes me wonder why they even bothered to bring it up at all if they are giving us no actionable information. “The Russians hacked our election. We want you to know that, want you to know we are on it, and that what is most important is that you trust us unaccountable agents of security agencies.” Doesn’t spy stuff go on all the time without the need to reveal such shenanigans to the public? Why then did they feel the need to share this one?

It’s frustrating to place all the responsibility in the hands of the intelligence agencies. I as a United States citizen want to do something to help secure our democracy, something more than wearing a pussy hat and Russia-bating (sic) in groups that appear larger on CNN than they do in person. I feel like someone trying to fight terrorism with plastic sheeting and duct tape. It doesn’t make sense to me.

If we have a problem with our elections being hackable, shouldn’t we be taking concrete actions to ensure that it is more difficult for it to happen next election? Why in God’s name aren’t our elected officials scrambling to pass laws that require paper ballots that are hand-counted rather than using hackable computers? Questioning Trump’s involvement can wait until we’ve taken control of our systems back from the Russians. Why are we doing nothing, don’t we care?

If our elections are hackable, shouldn’t we have been concerned about this before now? If Russia was able to hack our elections, might not other powerful agents do the same? Perhaps even one or two of our intelligence agencies might think it a good idea to do such a thing. If they did, who would alert the media to the hacking? If, say, the CIA decided to hack our elections, would anybody know? If right now the media is doing no actual journalism on the validity of Russian hacking claims other than passing along information from intelligence agencies, how could we ever expect our media to ferret out the information if such an action took place? If our elections were to be hacked by intelligence agencies or other nefarious domestic groups, wouldn’t we want Russia to release the facts to us?

Which once again makes me return to asking what is meant by hacking. Does it mean releasing accurate and truthful information gathered through unsecured e-mail servers? Does it mean revealing inconvenient truths about what is really going on in our country, the way Radio Free Europe once provided a counter narrative to the citizens of the Soviet Bloc?

I worry about the very vagueness of the expression “Russian Attempts To Hack Our Democracy”. It is a statement written with an unsharpened pencil and it is hard to read. And vagary is the tool used by those who would like to get you to believe in something without explicitly saying anything. It is the way Iago talked to Othello about Desdemona, feigning concern for a friend while sowing unfounded suspicions designed to destroy him.

But perhaps it is the use of the word “democracy” that confounds most of all. The word just seems to have an air of purity to it, doesn’t it? Democracy is one of those core values, a sacrosanct institution whose virtue needs protecting from debauched men looking to stain its innocence. Accusing someone of hacking democracy contains within it associations of raping a virgin: our minds rebel at the very thought of it, our reason goes out the window and we become brutes willing to do anything to protect our women folk. Democracy is an archetypal principle at once vague and yet all-encompassing. It embodies all that is good, and it is enshrined within our most holy of temples: to imagine a foreign power penetrating so deeply into our holiest of holies demands that we defend it at all costs or lose our very identity as a people.

Would that we had such an institution. Democracy—at least that which we now call democracy—is not a vestal virgin but a seasoned prostitute. Russia has no need to hack, spy, or subvert. The U.S. government is quite simply up for sale to the highest bidder, and she has no biases whether she sleeps with a local or a foreigner. It is all about the money.

And as far as hookers go, the U.S. government is not especially high priced. Russia has enough money to buy a few well-positioned congresspersons should it so desire. Granted Saudi Arabia is a wealthy John, but it has the U.S. doing things that would make most harlots blush. After all, a prostitute only sells what is hers to give, while a politician makes his money giving away that which does not belong to him. Even children are not safe from such business deals.

Israel too has been frequenting the Capital Hill whorehouse for decades, tossing bills on the pillow for the permission to have its way with Palestinians of all ages. United Arab Emirates plopped down $14.2 million in 2013 and apparently liked the treatment it received, namely a $2 billion weapons sale. And for a mere $2.5 mil they got former Attorney General John Ashcroft to work for them, though whether he will be required to wear high heels and garter is not mentioned in this article:

Foreign countries are making serious investments to shape U.S. opinions all the time. Here is a list of contributions to think tanks the New York Times compiled:

Why then would Russia risk war with the most powerful military in the world when it could simply buy what they wanted like everyone else? Why get the John after you to break your legs when for a modest fee you could have your kinkiest fantasies satisfied? Why “hack” when one could “contribute”? Doesn’t that sound so much better?

This was my quick dissection of the message. Notice that I make no mention of the messengers. That is a subject I’ve mentioned in other posts, notably here:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Can Russia Be More Evil?


As you read this little essay, you will reach a point where your mind starts to reject what it reads and begins to shut down. I ask that you do me the favor of being aware of the process as it occurs and letting me know at precisely what point it happens. Perhaps you would be so kind as to take notes in order to assure accuracy.

You see, it’s a particular field of study I’m interested in, what makes people willing to pursue a particular avenue of thought while being afraid to pursue another. It’s a question that’s been gnawing at me for some time now and I really would like to find some answers. Not only do I want to know at what point you start to reject where this essay is going, if you were to also note the feelings that were aroused that caused it to happen, I would be much obliged. Take me into your thought process as much as possible, please. If you believe yourself to be a lover of truth regardless of costs, this should not be much of an imposition.

Oh, it will happen. At some point some psychological trigger of which neither you nor (as yet) I can explain will cause you to feel intensely uncomfortable sensations and you will choose to tear yourself away from this little experiment rather than be forced to confront and overcome those feelings that are directing your behavior. But since they aren’t feelings you have any control over, and since they are feelings that can be manipulated by those who have made a science of manipulating others through their feelings, perhaps it is in your best interest to play along with my little study.

I am going to ask that you play a little game of imagination. I am going to ask of you that you ignore for a moment the world that is, or at least the world as you believe yourself to know it, and instead imagine a world that might be. On second thought, it is nothing quite so drastic as that. It merely requires you to view the observable phenomenon from a different point of view, to be able to see the world through the eyes of another person whose interests and situation is somewhat different from your own. That shouldn’t be so difficult, should it? Good, then let us begin. And please, be aware of what may trigger emotional responses in you. Unlike others who ask you to play along with their games, I want you to be awake and alert. I want you to understand the emotions that can steer your course in life so that you will be more in control of your own mind.


I want you to imagine Russia, not as it is today—a horrible bastion of all that is evil and wrong with the world—but as it might yet be in the future, a Russia still worse than it is today. I want you to imagine a Russia, in other words, that may very well come to be should we choose to turn a blind eye to what is occurring at this instant under our very noses.

Imagine a Russia that is indifferent to international law and dismissive of the United Nations and the principles of international democracy. I’m talking now of a rogue nation that feels it is free from any obligation other than pursuing its own interests, not too unlike Germany in the 1930’s. Imagine a Russia that feels itself obliged to transform the world according to its own desires.

Imagine a world where Russian oligarchs use brute force combined with clandestine manipulation in order to advance an agenda that not only harms the world but the Russian people themselves. A world where cruelty and harshness are rationalized as a path towards progress.

Imagine if Russia began to throw its weight around, that it supposed itself the chosen nation uniquely qualified to lead all other nations. Suppose Russia came up with a grand design and called it Project For A New Russian Century. How would it make you feel, as an American, if the governments of every other nation were told that they must model their governments on the Russian model? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Now just imagine that Russia had persuaded the world that it needed to invade Iraq because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And imagine what would be the world’s response if after they had invaded Iraq they were forced to admit the very reason for their war was a false one. Keep in mind I’m not saying Russia is this bad yet, but they very well might be if given the chance. (Please remember to note your feelings and reactions to what you are presented with).

Imagine one day turning on your television and seeing images of Russian soldiers smiling as they force Iraqi prisoners naked onto piles so that they can take pictures with them. I know it is hard to believe human beings—even Russians—can behave in such a manner, but I assure you it is possible. Nazi Germany is proof that anything is possible.

If given the chance, Russia might be capable of many horrible things. They might sponsor and arm religious extremists in a country neighboring the United States, let us call it Hondurastan, in order to overthrow a government that is friendly to the U.S. And after overthrowing the Hondurastani government, they would leave it in the hands of religious extremists. Such religious extremists and terrorists would be capable of almost anything, such as blowing up buildings in Russia. At which point Russia would use it as an excuse to invade that country that is in the vicinity of the U.S. And it would not only invade the country, ostensibly to defend itself, but also build a permanent military presence there. Just imagine a fifteen year Russian occupation of a nation halfway across the world! We must never let such a thing happen.

Russians would not be stationed in Hondurastan only but they would build military bases throughout Central America, which they would claim to need in order to deal with the Hondurastan situation. And even these would only be but more links in the chain of military outposts surrounding our country. It’s frightening to think of, isn’t it? It seems only fitting that we would do most anything to prevent such a situation from ever occurring.

I want to remind you that these are purely hypothetical scenarios and should not be provoking emotional responses. If they are, please note them for me.

Imagine if Russia was helping to incite riots in Canada in order to overthrow their Democratically elected government. Such a thing might be possible if Russia is permitted to believe it will not be held accountable. And imagine if Russia felt it was their right to choose who was to be the next Prime Minister of Canada after Justin Trudeau was forced to flee for his very life. Just suppose that the government that took the place of the democratically elected one was filled with fascists and Nazi sympathizers, and that the nation broke apart between French and English speaking Canadians. How would that make you feel?

What other mischief might Russia be up to if we don’t set limits for them? They could form a military alliance that would include virtually every nation in North America, and not let the United States join.

It wouldn’t stop there. Just imagine for a moment Vladimir Putin deciding it was his right to get rid of leaders in other nations. Can you not see the evil smile on his face as he turned to the camera and said something like “We came, we saw, he died.” Doesn’t it just send shivers down your spine?

Ooh, and imagine, just imagine if Putin held an election he was supposed to win but instead Russia voted for a buffoonish oligarch rather than choose such an awful man. I wouldn’t put it past him to try to cling to power by insisting that the United States had influenced the election, as if we would ever do such a thing. Of course, Putin would not offer a scrap of evidence to the American government, such contempt does he have for us. That is the way evil dictators rule, by distracting the masses with imagined threats from foreign enemies.

Imagine if Russia were to accuse the U.S. of interfering in the French election and thereby influencing the French election. And imagine if shortly after the election French authorities were to report there was no evidence of U.S. interference in their election. Ooh, wouldn’t Vladimir Putin have egg on his face then. The U.S. media would have a field day with that, and rightly so.

I could go on, imagining a theoretical Russia that withdrew from international accords on global warming, a Russia where its law enforcement officers killed ethnic minorities with impunity, or a Russia that has more incarcerated citizens than any other nation in the world, but I think you get my point.

You know how our media and our politicians would make hay out of Russia being guilty of any of the above-mentioned scenarios. In short, if we had the goods on the Russians the way we have on our own government, you can sure as hell bet we wouldn’t be relying on anonymous sources from agencies that were involved in all of the crimes I have just asked you to imagine Russia committing. As it is, we have talking heads saying with certainty that Russia is guilty of so much, and yet on those rare occasions where they feel proof needs to be proffered, they can only refer to those agencies guilty of far worse than even they dare pin on Russia.

Did I mention that Russia’s media is nothing more than a subservient tool of their government yet?

Thank you for participating in my little experiment. I would appreciate feedback, as I’d really like to bridge the gap between those who see things differently than I do. I want to know if my observations and my ability to see things from a perspective other than the one dictated by our media (and our secretive governmental agencies that infiltrate our media) can be responded to in a rational manner. I believe myself nothing if not one who is able to be swayed by facts strung together by a compelling narrative. If you can provide such a fact-based narrative, I would be very appreciative. Otherwise, you can still be of service by telling me how reading this has made you feel.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Id (Capitalism), The Ego (Government) and Superego (Spirituality)

Part 1: Id, Ego, Superego

Note: If you believe yourself quite familiar with Sigmund Freud’s concepts, please skip to Part 2.

Sigmund Freud explained the three guiding aspects of an individual: the id, the ego, and the superego. For those of you unfamiliar or in need of a refresher, allow me to give a brief rundown of what those different aspects of our personalities are all about.

The typical human develops three different aspects of his personality as he grows to adulthood. The id is with us early in our childhood, the ego arises later, and finally, the superego is developed.

The id is the animal aspect of our psyche. The id wants what it wants when it wants it. The id never does without, never contradicts itself, is always looking to satisfy its needs. The id never stops eating just because it feels it’s had enough. It gets out of bed when it damn well pleases, and it doesn’t share its toys with anyone.

The id does not care about anyone else, does not care about another’s feelings or about such nebulous concepts as fairness. There is, perhaps, an element of kindness to the id, and he might be perfectly willing to share, so long as his every need has already been met. If the id cannot conceive of a personal desire it can satisfy in a particular situation, the id might seem like a decent fellow. But if you are standing in the way of what the id desires, watch out.

The id seems like a very horrible person, or aspect of a person, doesn’t he? Nevertheless, he is very real, honest. The id will never lie to you, would never feel the need to. The id is simply not that sophisticated, not capable of being aware of how others might perceive it.

The ego arises out of the realities that the id faces. The id goes full speed ahead, seeking to conquer all that is in its way. But as the id is the only impulse of a child, and a child has limited means to satisfy his urges, the child is quickly taught, often brutally, that the whims of the id must be tempered if he doesn’t want to encounter pain and other harsh responses to his pushiness. The ego, then, realizes there are forces other than itself to contend with. The ego still does not care about others, not in any real sense, but it realizes that other people have wills of their own. The ego keeps the id in check, at least when others are watching. The ego overrides the id in order to save both of them from an ass-whipping.

But while the id acts solely from internal impulses, the ego acts in reaction to what the external world expects of him. The ego does not let id jump of a rooftop because he knows the ground is stronger than the body both id and ego inhabit. The ego restrains you from grabbing the last pork chop because it knows your big brother will make you regret that decision. Ego is no angel, but he knows enough to bow to authority.

Ego is necessary for id to survive. Id exists without ego when a child is quite young because that child is also quite weak. When the child gets to a certain age he is capable of creating a degree of havoc. The older and more powerful that child becomes the more necessary it is for that child to develop an ego to keep id in line so that he does not become a threat to others around him. The greater a threat he becomes, the greater the desire for others to do something in order to feel safe from it. If a child wishes to grow past a certain point, he will have to develop an ego to keep him in balance with the outside world.

As I said, the ego is developed in reaction to the outside world and its authority over him. And to a child, the outside world and authority primarily means a child’s parents. Thus, the ego is akin to an internal parental voice telling the child what is and what is not acceptable, what will and will not warrant punishment.

Lastly, as a child develops into a man, the superego arises. Where once the child saw morality as an external force in the form of parents, he now begins to internalize these moral influences, fashioning a morality of his own. From the examples given by his mother, father, older family members, teachers, and others, he synthesizes his own moral perspective. To the degree a child is able to do this, to find rational ways to cope with his ego and separate himself from the influence of others, he becomes an adult. Since humans are imperfect, nobody is ever able to completely make his id behave in socially acceptable ways. Nor are we able to completely rid ourselves of the biases we’ve learned from our parents and others role models. There is no such thing as the perfectly healthy individual, but most of us make that transition from child to adult in a rather successful fashion.

Part 2: The Market, The Government, And Spirituality

Society is not all that different from the individuals that comprise it: how could it be? Human desires and aspirations are merely played out on a larger stage. What drives the individual drives the society in which he finds himself. And what allows the individual to function also allows a society to survive and prosper. The difference being that fatal flaws in a society are easier to spot, and harder to change. And where an immoral person might actually live prosperously his whole life, the moral weaknesses of a society will inevitably lead to its downfall.

So if the society is not that different from the individuals comprising it, might not we view the psyche of a society—if such a thing exists—the same we view a person’s?

Can society be said to have an id? If the id does exist in society it exists in the market, where every need is capable of being satisfied, for a price. It is to the id, after all, to which advertising appeals. Ad men are always working on ways to circumvent the conscious mind in order to appeal to the more deeply rooted, less rational part of your mind. The goal is to get you to desire while suppressing the rational part of you that would find reasons why not to buy what they are selling.

While we mostly think of the market as providing useful goods, let us not forget the dark side of the market, which provides sex slaves, drugs, and murder for hire. The market is the province of the id: pizza, Cheetos, Ho Hos, Twix Bars. All to satisfy the most primitive of urges. Sports cars, widescreen TVs, McMansions: all to feed the insatiable hunger inside you. None of these things are necessary, none are really healthy for the individual let alone the society.

The market is the most primitive means of human interaction, where people go to acquire what they want and need. There are no rules to the market, it is merely every man for himself.

But the market does not work so well in satisfying all of society's needs. Our earliest ancestors must have known that, must have seen that the market was just a sublimated form of violence where the rich took from the poor as the powerful take from the weak. And so they created rules, limiting what could take place in the market. Thus was the societal ego born, a parental voice that sat above the id and made it behave in ways that were conducive to the health of the overall society, and not just those who had economic might. The ego could take the form of either the mother or the father. The father was a government capable of punishing wrongdoers and rewarding those who played by the rules. The mother was a government that helped to care for those who were helpless.

But the government—the ego—was an imperfect tool for directing the id. For one, it often squashed the id’s desire to satisfy itself, making for a very unhappy id and very unhappy people who wished to create wealth through the market. On the other hand, it often took on the more negative aspects of a parent: the father could be quite cruel and demanding in his rule-making and dishing out of justice, the mother could be smothering and unwilling to let her children reach independence.

And thus was born the super-ego, aka, spirituality. I’m talking here about something distinct from primitive religion. While religion was tied to government since its earliest forms, it was a religion whose stress was not on spirituality but on the outer trappings. Religion, as far as it related to government, became just another extension of the ego: a mother god or father god who gave forth a series of rules to be obeyed while threatening punishment for those who transgressed.

No, spirituality was a different aspect of the societal psyche. Spirituality found expression in art and in religious associations that were separate from the government. The superego was capable of viewing society as it could be and was not hampered by the model that ego had created. Ego was most unhappy with the way superego made it feel small, and so tried to suppress it or coopt it, but spirituality has always found a way to show itself.

In our finest examples of civilization, the communal superego was able to express itself in all aspects of society. While the cathedrals of Europe might have been testaments to the authority of the church, there was much more to it than that. The very beauty and even fragility of them spoke to a love of something beyond power. Stained glass windows exist for beauty’s sake alone, not as an expression of power.

When the superego is allowed to develop in a healthy manner, the arts blossom, justice encompasses a larger portion of the population, and wealth is spread around more equitably. The more we are capable of developing a societal superego, spirituality, the more stable and healthy a society we will have.

Spirituality is nowhere to be seen nowadays. As for government, it exists only to serve the market. Where once we built great edifices that bore the names of statesmen or religious leaders, what we build now bear the names of corporations. The id (the market), has not only bubbled up to encompass the government, which has become nothing more than the market’s serving boy, but has drowned the spirit. The arts are dead. Superficially they may appear to be bursting out in many directions but their ability to reflect the times we are living in, let alone direct them, put the lie to appearances. Churches have been largely abandoned by a population that longs for distraction rather than reflection or immersion. The churches today that are thriving seem mainly to preach the gospel of the market.

And of course, the government is now firmly in the hands of the wealthiest, those who view profit as the greatest gift society can bestow upon an individual. Those who are elected to office themselves often rail against government in favor of the free market. It would seem that the government’s central purpose is to clear the way of all impediments to the markets. What passes for morality is something akin to Aleister Crowley’s tenant “Do what thou wilt.”

This is the answer we’re given, that the id should be the driving force, that we only need obey the id’s desires and we shall live in the best of all possible worlds. This is the story we are told because there is no institution of ego or superego with a powerful enough voice to make itself be heard over the voices of the market. Turn on your television and see who speaks through it. Programming is something that exists only as a delivery system for advertisers. TV programs are the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.

Society has always been based upon a three-legged foundation, each leg needing to be strong in order to keep it propped up. But now we have the one leg doing its best to whittle away at the other two, fearing the limiting power they possess. Balance has been lost.

Tell me if I am wrong. Point out to me where art nowadays speaks to our deepest yearnings. Tell me that money worship is not rampant in popular music. Show me religious leaders who hold sway among the general population, philosophers of note, or social critics who don’t pander to the all-powerful id. Point out to me where President Trump is something more than a man-child, an overgrown id. While he may have his moments of tough-talk like an authoritarian father figure, I can’t help thinking he does this merely to get attention as a young child might act up in order to get mommy and daddy to notice him. I truly believe that he lacks even a well-functioning ego, for that at least would force him to become aware of how he is perceived by the outside world.

And as for the leader of our nation possessing a superego, please point out a single instance where Trump has shown even a hint of it. Have you ever seen Trump and a book in the same picture? Any pictures of him at the symphony? Have you ever heard him quote a philosopher, author or religious leader? Wouldn’t you like to think that the leader of the most powerful nation in the world might ruminate over ideas from Mahatma Gandhi, William Shakespeare, or Ralph Waldo Emerson, so that they might occasionally intermingle with events of today and pop out of his mouth instead of words like bigly?

It is impossible today to say anything bad about the capitalist system we have without being attacked by all sides. Do so, and you will be said to be a supporter of Stalin. The same tired tropes will be hauled out: socialism has failed, big government is bad, etc. All such arguments are founded on an absolute perspective and do not address the issue of balance. This is the point I bring up, that one aspect of our society, the crudest and basest of the three, reigns supreme. It has ridden a wave of immense prosperity that was the result of a rather balanced mixture of id, ego, and superego. The mere existence of a competing economic and political system, The Soviet Union, forced us to check our most animalistic impulses. But prosperity and now a loss of a threat have allowed us to regress into an infantile state. Issues requiring intelligent thought now receive no more than childish answers.

We as a society have lost the finest attributes that have made societies throughout history powerful and successful. This is no adult society we are in but one like a child sucking its thumb and demanding its wants be met. The problem is, there is no mother or father around to cater to us, a sad reality we must soon wake up to. Very soon we will realize that there is more to life than satisfying our most base desires. If we as a society wish to survive, to live in a healthy and well-adjusted manner, we will need to grow beyond our simplistic perspective of the id.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trump, Truth, and Will

I do not say Donald Trump is the new Adolph Hitler, but I’m not afraid of making comparisons between the two when appropriate. And I think the most obvious similarity between the Trump movement and the Nazi movement is in the belief of the will over the intellect. While there are many in the Trump camp capable of making cogent arguments and pointing out with clarity and facts the flaws of the Democrats and the mainstream media, the man himself is a walking fountain of untruths, bravado, and meaningless generalities. Hitler created his own brand of truth by tearing apart what generations of thinkers and institutions had struggled to create: a consensus not only of what is right and wrong, but a process through which we work to establish facts and a continually closer approximation of the truth.

Hitler tromped through the historic halls of knowledge like a bull in a china shop, intent on smashing to bits all that did not please him, willing to add new touches to classics works of art in order to make them say what he wanted them to say. Trump is not so brutal, in fact, he is not so bright as to worry about what cultural institutions have to say. He need not worry about such matters anyway because the United States he operates in today has little or nothing in the way of cultural institutions that might stand in his way. America has always been and is even more so at this moment a country of “now”. We are the present without a history, whereas Germany, especially during the rise of Hitler, was rich in tradition with strong institutions.

Nevertheless, we do have our conventions, even if the average American is not very aware of them. We have had the custom where our presidential candidates release their tax returns, but Donald Trump has sidestepped that practice. We have had the custom where presidential candidates treat each other and the office of the presidency with respect, again a practice Trump has disregarded. But Trump does not deviously seduce institutions the way Hitler did with the German Church, he simply avoids them. Trump has neither the temperament nor, frankly, the talent for such work. But while Trump does not actively pollute the existing power structures, he has effectively uprooted those practices we have long observed in our effort to make our politics something more than a naked struggle for victory at any cost. Within those discarded conventions was the implied idea that truth reigned supreme above the fray of battle that was politics, that no matter how dirty politicians were, they at least needed to give lip service to truth and the earnest search for facts.

Not so Trump. The Donald has no respect for facts, so much so that nobody really knows what his political philosophy is or what his policies are going to be. It was the political “struggle”, the will to win, that was of primary importance. The vast gaping holes in his campaign promises were papered over with words like “great”, “unbelievable”, and “bigly”. Supporters like to assume what they haven’t been told is beyond them anyway, the sort of thing only great men such as Trump are capable of understanding. Meanwhile, those who oppose him assume concentration camps and vast foreign intrigues lurk within Trump’s untold plans.

I do not believe Trump has a hidden agenda comparable to Hitler’s, but I do see the preference that Trump and his supporters have for will to triumph over truth, that simply believing something with enough force will make it so, that simply saying something loud enough will conquer competing truths, as though the title “truth” was an honor bestowed upon the winner of some physical competition.

This is the realm Trump is comfortable in, and if the use of the word does not bother you too much, that is where his genius lies.

And that is precisely the arena where those opposed to Trump have chosen to take him on. Democrats, rather than anchoring the whole political struggle in the world of observable phenomena, rather than demonstrate they have a viable alternative to the Trump movement and its approach, have elected to become little Trumps themselves. In short, they have lost their minds, and that does not bode well for the Trump resistance.

The Democrats are attempting to will Donald Trump into being a traitor to his country and a puppet of Vladimir Putin. They have abandoned a desire for fact-based arguments for ones based on the testimony of anonymous sources from agencies that have lied to the American public since their inception. Fervent Democrats are willing to believe anything, quite literally anything, that portrays Trump in a bad light. Their hatred of Donald Trump is illogical, unscientific, and worst of all, ineffectual. It is so bad that Trump supporters are quite literally laughing at them the way they would prefer to be laughing at Trump supporters, that basket of deplorables.

But nobody in the Democratic camp is laughing right now, not after the shellacking they took. Beaten though they were, however, they have yet to learn a lesson. When you get your ass handed to you, whether in a fight or in a political campaign, you do not just jump back into the fray with the same arguments and weapons you used the first time. You stop and ask yourself how the hell everything went so wrong, and you don’t try it again until you have figured it out, or else you’re going to get more of the same.

Let me humbly suggest to you part of your problem. You are fighting Trump with Trump tactics, all the while whining about how horrible Trump is for using such tactics. Your news articles have outrageous headlines screaming accusations that the articles themselves do not support. I saw today an article about a black man being stabbed with a headline saying “Black Man Lynched”. Let me humbly suggest there is a very clear distinction between the two, no matter how emotionally charged an argument is made, no matter how I am accused of being a bigot if I disagree with you. If the media you get your news from is no less shrill or unscrupulous than FOX News, you have lost the moral high ground.

Democrats have abandoned skepticism for emotional zeal. Your cause has become a religious one, with a decidedly fundamentalist tinge. You have no tolerance for those who venture to disagree with you and in that sense you have begun to resemble that which you rail against. Many of you look down on those uneducated whites with the same hatred and sense of superiority that I see in the worst of Trump supporters. If you do not see it, let me assure you that I have, and that those who support Trump and those inclined to support Trump have as well. I have heard liberals defend NAFTA by saying those who have lost their jobs should stop whining and get an education. I have seen all the cruelty, callousness, and nastiness from the right played out in the behavior of the left, with a dose of moral superiority added to the mix.

Accompanying the fear and hatred of Democrats is a feeling of total incomprehension. Only a few short months ago your biggest concern seemed to be allowing transgenders to pee where they wanted, now you’re living in a world far from the one you thought you knew. An entire segment of the population apparently has priorities that were different than yours, a substantial minority of Americans of whom you know nothing. And knowing nothing about someone permits you to project your deepest fears onto them.

Let me summarize for you: you fear, you hate, and you do not understand. In short, you are guilty of all the motivating behaviors you accuse Trump and his supporter of possessing. You have become that which you despise, with the added cherry of hypocrisy to top it off. That is why you have lost and will continue to lose.

This is not to say that there is not a lot wrong and a lot to fear from a Trump presidency, nor does it justify the hatred and fear that fuels much of it. But the answer to hatred, ignorance and fear is not to combat it with the same. Truth is a powerful weapon, but it is one that has been slowly slipping through the fingers of what we call the left here in America for a long time. Truth compromised is a broken sword. The sword of truth must be forged carefully by earnest artisans in order for it to be an effective weapon, and we have left the task to the makers of cheap trinkets.

People have lost faith in truth because its name has so long been used as a cover for marketers, advertisers, and crooked politicians. Nowhere in society today is it exhibited as it should be. It must be taken from the hands of those who abuse and sully her. It must be given a proper scrubbing and placed in an appropriate setting. Because truth in all its glory is an awesome sight to see indeed. It will rally the masses to its cause. It has no need for window dressing.

But even truth may not be enough. Will, too, may be necessary. To combat the power that is waged against truth, power may be required to defend it. But I am talking about a different kind of power than what is now being employed, what Gandhi and King called “soul power”. It is the power that comes from the conviction of one’s beliefs and the willingness to put them into practice. It is a resistance without hate, though it does require strength. It requires even more strength than physical power, because it requires you to have power not only over your enemy but also yourself. It requires loving your enemies

And there the battle is laid out for you. It is not merely a battle of intellects but a battle of power as well. You know this to be true deep within you, which is why your emotions are outstripping your reasoning. You are gearing up for battle, but you have armed yourself with the weapons of the enemy. Should you join the fray in such a manner, you will only prove that truth is insufficient and not your true motivator. You will justify by your own behavior that force alone is a fitting arbiter of justice, that truth in the end is only that which is presented most powerfully.

Humans are capable of acting according to their baser desires, or their loftier aspirations. They are motivated both by fear and by trust, by hatred and by love. You have to give them an alternative to fear, greed, and hatred. The contrast must be made so that there is no doubting what the choice is. Half-truths and words spoken in anger rather than in honesty only make it harder to see the choices we have to make. Truth must once again be placed upon the pedestal on which it belongs.

Given a clear choice, people will choose the brighter path, I firmly believe that to be true. But allow doubt to sink in, blur the lines so that no one is certain what truth or justice really is, and they will retreat into their baser natures. Even if you believed that the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was a clear one, it’s obvious that enough other people did not, people who are in different circumstances than you. One choice now is to retreat into fear, to constrict your view of the world until it only encompasses what is best for you and those most like you. You have a choice to accept hatred and irrationality to guide you, just as you have a choice to see the other as the enemy. If so, I believe the darker forces of human nature have won. To choose the narrative that there is an “us” and a “them”, to believe that there is a darkness in the souls of others you cannot touch with light, is to become part of the problem and not the solution.

The way has been set out for you, the way forward, the noble path. People such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have shown that the answer to hatred and ignorance is not hatred and ignorance but love and understanding. Hell, two thousand years ago, the path was made quite clear. There is no mousey middle, at least not one powerful enough to oppose that which is darkest within us. The choice is war or peace, the choice is seeing others as enemies or as brothers and sisters. The choice is an all-inclusive US or a sinister and destructive belief in a THEM. In the end you must choose, because the middle ground you attempt to stake is unstable and has allowed you to slide to the opposite end than the one you allege to support. If you choose to make war against a THEM, you inevitably become that which you most despise.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump’s Library

If I had sufficient amounts of money—say a million dollars—what a library I would have. If I had enough money never to have to work again, what an education I could receive.

I work hard. I work hard but it is of necessity and not because I feel the need to impress others or feed my ego. I work hard to take care of myself and my family, but I have no special desire to work hard. If I had enough money to care for myself I wouldn’t work harder just to buy a gold-plated mansion.

If I had enough money that I never had to work again, perhaps I would still find reasons to work. But it wouldn’t be to build casinos or luxury hotels just so I could stick my name on them. If I didn’t have to work but still wanted to, I envision myself working at the dog shelter, maybe even a homeless shelter. Maybe I would work at the library, just to be around the books and the people who like to read them. It’s all about getting to know the world we live in, and there is still little to compare with books for doing that, especially for the money.

How many books do you think you’ll find in Trump’s home? I mean books that don’t have Trump’s face on the cover? I’m guessing there’s not even a Bible in his home, or if there is, it’s never been read. I’m willing to bet he’s never read an intelligent book in his life, certainly not since graduating from college.

Some say his smarts were learned from business dealings and real-life experiences, but that is not enough. Our founding fathers (many of them) were businessmen, but they were so much more. They were learned men capable of stringing together ideas in order to form an actual argument, not simply spewers of insults and superlatives.

Learning—book learning—is important, which is why it has been stressed in every advancing or advanced civilization in the world. It is not superfluous. Nations of poorly educated people do not advance. As for nations without a well-educated leadership, well, we shall see.

Trump’s mansions are like those of the royalty in the old world, the world our forefathers sought to escape from. Apparently, a gold toilet is needed since porcelain is unworthy of receiving The Donald’s bowel movements. Donald Trump has been given every possible advantage in this world to better himself, and yet he speaks like a fifth-grade bully. He has every possible means available to help others and he has chosen to use those means to add to the wealth that is already far more than he needs. He has the celebrity that can be used to advance worthy causes and instead he has used that fame to nourish his insatiable ego.

There is no excuse, stop trying to come up with them. Stop trying to deflect the issue by bringing up Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, or Reverend Al Sharpton. Let’s deal with one issue at a time, the most relevant one at the moment being our president’s narcissism, greed, and incompetence.

What kind of worthy leader would have done the things Donald Trump has done? George Washington would not have appeared on WWE. Abraham Lincoln would not have spent his time catering to the wealthy by building hotels for them, and Ulysses S. Grant would not have felt it a good use of his time to build casinos. Teddy Roosevelt looked far into the future and saw it was important to conserve the wonders of nature that existed in our country. Trump looks at how he can make his friends happy and gives the nation’s precious resources away to be destroyed forever.

We have—throughout the history of our country, and throughout Western civilization, and throughout every well-functioning society that ever was or will be—certain norms as to how we behave. We have certain virtues we admire and wish to promote in others, especially in our leaders and role models. Donald Trump is utterly lacking in those virtues. You may explain that Donald Trump has other talents and assets, but he is absent the ones our parents and their parents attempted to instill in us. You may appreciate Donald Trump and what he is doing, but you cannot do so and pretend that you have conservative, or Christian, or old-fashioned values.

If you support Donald Trump, you are supporting something quite different than anything we as Americans once held dear. You are divorced from the United States of America, from its history and its promise. Donald Trump is a poke in the eye not only to our Founding Fathers, but to accepted norms of behavior, good manners, respect for education and basic human decency. His presidency is an insult to the teachings of Jesus Christ, logical thinking, and the belief that the human race is capable of improving itself. You have given to a caveman the codes to our nuclear arsenal.

These are things you must take seriously. You are accountable for your behavior, for your actions. This is in your hands, it is on you, and you must live with what you have done. It’s easy to try to deny the reality of it, like a drunk denies his behavior is a problem, but everyone else can see it quite plainly. No doubt others who voted differently and think differently than you have issues of their own to be worked out, but that is not what must concern you now. You have voted for a man who is contrary to the very ideals which every civilized nation holds dear, and now you must come to grips with that.

Take a cue from Donald Trump and take a look in the mirror. Only take a discerning look. Then turn that discerning look towards the man you elected to run our nation. Use not only your own eyes but try seeing through the eyes of others, through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Henry David Thoreau, or Mark Twain. Look through eyes from beyond this time and place, because perhaps it is the very biases of who we are now that are preventing us from seeing Donald Trump for what he is. Perhaps we are too much like him to see what an aberration he is. Perhaps egotism and greed have become cultural norms. If this is the case, and we do not do something to change it, we will soon be in for a most rude awakening.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Who Could Hillary Have Beat?

Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, which leads me to question what candidate she could have beat. Oh, I know, she got 3 million more votes than Trump, but that’s like saying the Bears gained more yards in their 21-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers. That’s the way the game is played, victory goes to whoever scores the most electoral votes rather than the popular vote. Those were the rules Hillary chose to play by.

She could have worked to change the rules if she had wanted, in the years that led up to the 2016 election. You’d have thought the Democrats might have fought for genuine majority rule after what happened in 2000, but you’d be wrong. You’d think they’d bring up the fact that many poor people and minorities were scrubbed from voting eligibility lists too, but it’s not something the Democrats worry about. They’re more concerned with going after people who vote third party because they can no longer tolerate the corruption of the two major parties. They’d rather go after those who actually believe in the issues the Democrats allegedly support rather than actually have to adopt those positions.

Besides, saying you got more votes than Trump means nothing. My dog has squeaky toys that could have got more votes in a head to head competition against Trump. His favorability rating was 37% going into the election. Now consider that the 50% of people who most dislike the candidates don’t bother to vote at all. All she needed from the other 50% was a small majority in key battleground states. Mainstream Republicans were flipping, Bernie Sanders was backing her, the media was on her side, and whatever mainstream Republican candidates may have been providing public support for Trump, you know deep in their hearts they hated his guts. Nobody could be treated the way Cruz and Rubio were and not harbor resentment and ill will towards the monkey who made a circus of the Republican Presidential Contest.

So saying you received more votes than Donald Trump is no different than me saying my bowling score was higher than the blind girl scout I was competing against: it’s not something I want to bring up. But it does raise an interesting question: Who could Hillary have beaten in the 2016 Presidential Election? After considerable thought, I have compiled a list. There is no way to prove my contentions, it is just a gut feeling. I could hire some pollsters, but if there’s one thing the 2016 election showed is they don’t have a clue. Anyway, the list of people or things that Hillary could have beat is:

·    A dead cow

·   A raccoon with rabies
·   Snidely Whiplash

·   Adolph Hitler
·   Charles Manson (with Swastika on his forehead)

·   Nickelback
·   That lady who pretended to be black

·   Milli

·   Michael Vick (puppygate era)
·   “cash me outside” girl
·   Joe Leiberman
·   Simon Barsinister

This is not to pick on Hillary. And just to show I’m not biased, I present a list of people or things that could have beat Donald Trump:

·      Charles Manson (without swastika on forehead)

·      Raccoon without rabies
·      Vanilli

·      Walter Mondale
·      Michael Dukakis
·       Duchael Mikakis
·       Grima Wormtongue
·       Michael Vick (Reformed)
·       Eddie Haskell

·         -My dog’s monkey toy with the face ripped off

Please feel free to add your own suggestions.

P.S. The cow was just sleeping, not dead. I would never post a picture of a dead cow.