Friday, February 4, 2022

The Disintegration Of Our Political Fabric - And Why Lies & Misinformation Cannot Qualify As Protected Speech.

“Precedent” sounds boring and wonky. In reality, it’s the way past criminal Republican presidents have taught those who followed them to break the law. This is the shocking story of how Republican presidents taught each other to break the law, and how if Trump isn't prosecuted — the next Republican president will try to end democracy in the USA.

Trump has broken multiple past presidential precedents and established entirely new ones that — unless they’re punished and outlawed — provide a template for the next Republican president who wants to turn America into a strongman oligarchy like Hungary or Turkey."  Thomas Hartmann,  — from The Hartmann Report

Robert Nagel’s recent Denver Post (1/22, p. A15)  essay:  The likely cause of the miserable state of our political discourse'  offers several possible explanations for the nation’s deplorable civic and political state – which is approaching utter chaos and madness.  These include the following: 1) Deep, divisions and acceptance of differing realities, 2) Addiction to technology and social media to the extent of allowing them to control our thinking, and 3) The degeneration of thought by wayward philosophical memes bordering on a form of nihilism, i.e. that objective truth no longer exists. In its place post-modernism reigns. But if (3) holds then as Nagel writes:

              Power is all that exists, and any type of argument that can prevail can be used. Under this view, there is nothing to be regretted about the sorry state of our political discourse unless the side you are on should fail to use nasty rhetorical ploys 

Unfortunately, the dumbing down of America is in overdrive. Misinformation, disinformation and outright lies are sold as gospel on faux news outlets and lapped up by the easily misled. Their mantra is, don’t trust your eyes or facts, just believe the lies.  This has led to mammoth polarization and division not seen since the Civil War.

Much of this is confounding and breaks with everything in our past on how citizens functioned and most critically, their support for democracy.  Never, ever in our history has a large swath of citizens believed an election was "stolen" and favored militant actions - by a sitting president-  to overturn a free and fair general election. 

Trump remains overwhelmingly the most popular and powerful figure in the Republican Party, which has now devolved to a personality cult. He is the polling frontrunner in 2024, an unmatched fundraising force and still able to fill fairgrounds with huge crowds.   What's gone wrong?  How is it so many millions of Americans have fallen through a rabbit hole of lies, propaganda and misinformation to the point the nation is at a precipice? 

WSJ columnist Gerald Seib in his piece ('Listening Gap', p. A4)three days ago, observed:

"Americans aren’t merely arguing about politics. It’s increasingly clear they can’t even agree on what they’re arguing about. You want to debate political violence? People on the left think instantly of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021. People on the right counter with the 2020 George Floyd summer of unrest.

Refusal to accept election results? On the left, that’s clearly a reference to former President Donald Trump’s false claims the 2020 election was stolen from him. On the right, it might be a reference to Democrats’ attempts to oust Mr. Trump from office after 2016, or Democrat Stacey Abrams’s refusal to concede her loss in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election."

He is spot on in his take, but doesn't elaborate on the basis for the divergence. In other words, there is not a false equivalence with respect to left and right - one side (right) is totally wrong! Take political violence.  It is totally wrongheaded and egregious to put the Capitol insurrection  - an effort to overturn our democracy, our election results, based on Trump's lies- with the George Floyd upheavals, riots   As commentator Ali Velshi has pointed out ("Velshi", MSNBC, Jan. 17, 2021):

"For starters, the Capitol is not a liquor store. When a mob breaks the Capitol building's windows it is not criminal mischief but an assault on democracy itself and decency. That's the point, violence must always be understood in context."

Velshi's point is well taken and the real critical thinker accepts it. Thus, January 6, 2021 was  violent insurrection in support of a failed coup attempt by Trump, who we now know even wanted the military to seize voting machines.  This traitor - who ought to have gone before a military firing squad by now - was prepared to tear down our entire constitutional Republic so he could remain in power.  There is just no way in hell this can be remotely put in the same category as the George Floyd outbursts, yet millions believe it.   

The other false equivalence is between the left citing Trump's false claims the 2020 election was stolen from him, and the right's citation of Stacy Abrams refusing to concede her loss in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election. But Stacy Abrams had actual evidence that tens of thousands of black voters were dropped off voting rolls, whereas Trump had zero evidence (even after dozens of court challenges  - up to the Supreme Court) that he was denied a 2nd term by voting chicanery. Seib goes on to also note (ibid.):

"Dangerous social trends? On the left, that’s a reference to rising racism and anti-Semitism, and antivaccination trolling. On the right, it’s about woke and cancel cultures run rampant, and vaccine mandates."

But again there is a vast gulf of reality between the facts  one side adheres to and the other doesn't.  The anti-Semitic and racist attacks reached a pinnacle (according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) under Trump which was no surprise. He, after all, proclaimed that the Nazis and KKK White supremacists marching in Charlottesville, VA back in August, 2017, were some "very fine people".  Recall for reference these maggots streamed over the campus at Univ. of Virginia screaming "Jews will not replace us!" e.g.

No one can tell me with a straight face that this glorification of Nazis and white racists by Trump is on a par with "cancel culture" - which often has meant merely criticizing a rightist excess. As for anti-vaccination "trolling" I'm afraid Mr. Seib underestimates how toxic that anti-Vax propaganda and subversion of the vaccines' value has become.  It has likely led directly to the deaths of more than a half million Americans, simply because most of those refused to believe that the jabs had any beneficial value - thanks to the torrent of lies spouted by the likes of Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson and even Bill Maher. As well as Packer QB  "critical thinker" and Rogan disciple Aaron Rodgers.

Indeed, the maggot traitor and then president (Trump)  again, as in the case of torching our democracy, holds greatest blame.  In Bob Woodward's book 'RAGE' Trump openly admitted to downplaying the virus lethality out of a political motive, i.e. to win the 2020 election.  He feared the virus would defeat him if he admitted the inherent dangers and so scoffed it was just a "hoax" or like the flu. This is why Laurie Garret (author, 'The Coming Plague') justifiably skewered Trump for his Covid response, e.g.

Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response — Laurie Garrett

None of this can be swept under the rug, or minimized in how destructive lies and misinformation have been to this nation. The worrisome part is how many have swallowed them, not the left's claims, but the bloody, regressive, fascist Right's.  

All of which leads to Robert Nagel's point (3) as the supreme basis for our national breakdown in reality:

The degeneration of thought by wayward philosophical memes bordering on a form of nihilism, i.e. that objective truth no longer exists.

The evidence is all there in front of us, so what do we do about it? Or better, what do the authorities do?  First, we need AG Garland to remove one major source of the ongoing lies and even criminal efforts against our Republic - to which he's already confessed openly. I am talking about Donald Trump.  He needs to be charged, prosecuted and tossed into the nearest slammer and out of the public scene. There is no longer any question, given his open admission, of the seditious conspiracy he incepted and the efforts to kill our Republic and the last major democratic experiment.  

 Second, the major social media companies, now including Spotify, need to eliminate the specious toxic voices spreading their destructive propaganda and lies, the totality of which is destroying our society like a malignant cancer.

Spotify has claimed suppressing or editing Joe Rogan’s podcast would amount to "censorship".  In other words, curbing his free speech.  This is nonsense because if lies and misinformation qualify as speech, then speech carries no meaning. It no longer has objective value, and recognizes no factual basis, i.e. such as comparing vaccine mandates to Nazi holocaust markers.  Further, we know private companies have no obligation to willy -nilly provide national soap boxes to whomever.  There is NO inherent free speech right in a private company setting.  I cannot demand The Denver Post publish all of my letters responding to stories I don't like, just as Joe Rogan cannot demand Spotify allow him to spout horse shit about vaccines, or the benefits of ivermectin. See e.g.

This is why Facebook, Twitter and You-Tube remove content posted by regular folks every day with no apparent worries about grand matters of free speech.  Why? Because the First Amendment does not apply in that (private) domain, OMG!, OMG!, OMG! 

Alas, however, the private companies appear not to recognize the power to limit speech they DO have. True, Twitter removed accounts by Donald Trump and, more recently, Marjorie Taylor Greene after repeated and flagrant policy violations.  But let's be honest, that was done only when it became a business imperative.  This is not good enough and needs to rise to become a civic imperative, in other words place the nation's welfare above the power of big bucks.

If, as Spotify implies, Rogan’s views offend its sensibilities, there ought to be nothing to prevent the service from dropping or at least scaling his podcasts back. Millions of American minds could be spared toxin ingestion each week. After all, as the exclusive rights holder for the podcast, it has more control over and responsibility for Rogan’s content than do social media companies over users who post COVID misinformation.

 I cite this because Twitter's and Facebook’s experiments with warning labels and links to authoritative sources proved unable to stop the spread of misinformation during the 2020 election and haven’t been effective in culling similarly dangerous ideas in the pandemic.  Thus, once the toxic mind virus enters - by whatever phony "speech" route, it becomes impossible to curb the viral spread. 

If a public company was deliberately injecting thousands of gallons of strychnine or arsenic into cities' reservoirs the authorities would be on it in a heartbeat. Yet when social media companies allow and enable memetic toxins to poison millions of minds - destroying all thinking capacity and judgment - it supposedly passes for "free speech.”  How about free mind poison instead?  Would people take this shit more seriously if it was a case of free potassium cyanide pills being doled out on street corners?  The clock is ticking and this nation - especially its lawful authorities and private companies - need to get their priorities straight and pronto.  That is,  if we are to have a nation in the next three years.  The lesson of 1930s Germany is clear, e.g.

 Or should be, in alert citizens' minds.  All overhyped and histrionic baloney?  Then read and process the news item below, just off the transom today.  We have here prima facie evidence these Reep traitors must never be put into power again:

To quote columnist Jonah Goldberg writing in the LA Times

"Does RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel think that tracking and smearing human feces around the halls of congress really qualifies as legitimate political discourse?"

Of course, McDaniel, snared in her own whitewashing ploy is now attempting to reframe her odious initial spin.  Too late, idiot!  We are now gonna use it ad infinitum to ensure you asswipes do not take back the House!  

I am afraid we have gone way through the 'looking glass' into a realm the depths of which we have yet to plumb, as evidenced by the Trump traitors.  As philosopher George Santayana remarked, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

See Also:
by Bill Blum | February 9, 2022 - 8:37am | permalink

— from BlumsLaw


The Republican Party’s embrace of fascism is now open and notorious, and impossible to ignore. With the exception of a few stragglers and diehards, the party has been captured by Donald Trump and the MAGA movement he has spawned.

And the takeover is accelerating.

In his latest “Save America Rally,” held in Montgomery County, Texas, on Jan. 29, the former president went beyond his usual tirades about the “big lie” of the stolen election and Mike Pence’s cowardice, ranting that he would consider pardoning the Capitol insurrectionists if he is reelected in 2024. “If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly,” he declared





“We are a polarized nation!” Seems self-evident, right?

But to me the refrain feels more like judgment than explanation—one implying that we the American people are the problem: We’re just too close-minded, insulated, uninformed and prone to violence to come together for solutions.

Angry voices carried in news coverage of the anniversary of January 6th certainly stoked the diagnosis. As does a frightening new Washington Post poll finding that one in three Americans “believe violence against the government is sometimes justified.”

But framing our crisis as polarization is dangerous. It can serve as a veil, hiding what should be in plain sight: the insurrection and continuing angry accusations have emerged in large measure from a society not yet facing its deep shortcomings...what if polarization was best understood as a symptom, not a cause? The result of a system guaranteeing the extreme accumulation of wealth, along with deepening daily insecurities and indignities for the non-wealthy.

See Also

by Alex Henderson | January 25, 2022 - 9:00am | permalink

— from Alternet

In the past, Barbara F. Walter — author the new book “How Civil Wars Start, and How to Stop Them” — served on an advisory panel for the Central Intelligence Agency, she helped CIA agents identify signs that a country is facing serious political instability and the potential for widespread conflict. Now, in 2022, Walter is pointing to her own country, the United States, as a country with that potential.

Walter, in an op-ed published by the Washington Post on January 24, compares the political tensions in the U.S. to what she observed in other countries in the past.

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