My DNA Results!

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I got my DNA results back from Ancestry.com (a Christmas gift from Chris), and they are largely in accord with my family history as I know it.

First the percentages with my comments:

From the Old World: 91%
Great Britain-England, Scotland, Wales+Irish living in Britain 26%
Ireland 21%
Western Europe 16%
Scandanavia-Viking Raids 9%
Findland/NW Russia-Viking Raids 2%
Spain 16%
Sephardic Jewish 1%
Joined in the New World: 7%
Native American (Europeans + Native Peoples) 6%
Senegalese (Europeans + Slaves) 1%
Traces  (% approximate) 2% Indian Subcontinent 0.66%
Middle East – Greece? Balkans? 0.66%
Caucausus – Georgia? Armenia? 0.66%

Now as Charts:

bar-dna

pie-dna

How it fits my family narrative:

Culturally, I identify as Irish and Hispanic.

From my Ancestry.com genealogical researches and family histories, the Spanish/Hispanic side of the family (Escontrias) came over with the Conquistadores and settled in the area that is now El Paso-Juárez (Texas/Chihuahua) in the early 1500s.

Some of my ancestors that were English/Scots/Welsh/Irish were among the first explorers to come to North America from Britain, in the late 1500s and early 1600s.

The final Irish part of my family (Cato/Armstrong) came first to Illinois before the Great Famine (Irishan Gorta Mór) and later made their way to El Paso. (Of course, the “famine” was largely inflicted on Irish Catholics by their British overlords.)

These facts are supported by the Old World DNA above. There was certainly admixture between Great Britain, Ireland, and Western Europe, and the Viking raids explain the northern contributions.

The Spanish heritage, with its small addition of Sephardic heritage is also consistent.

In the New World:

With so much time in North America, it is no surprise that the branches of my family would gather some Native American DNA over the centuries. Nor, tragically, is it surprising that there would have been some African DNA, since within the great evil of Slavery, the sexual use of slaves by slave owners was an evil corollary.

Traces:

As for the trace amounts of DNA <1% from the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East and the Caucasus Region, I have no theories, other than the general long interaction of these regions with Europe.

Just for Fun:

I thought a little photoshopping might provide some further insight into my Real DNA profile:

dna-fantasy-copy-copy

 

Thanks for reading!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

 

 

Wise Up, Democrats and Progressives!

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When I read reports this week that some at the Baltimore Democratic Retreat were saying that there was nothing wrong with our messaging in the recent election, I got angry!

We must learn how to communicate in an entirely new way to return to power and serve the American people as they deserve.

This Blog post is a quick guide to what every single one of us can do to resist Trumpism, and retake at least one of the Houses of Congress in 2018. That must be our goal.

First, we have to admit this: we lost the election (in the Electoral College). It was ours to lose, and we did.

  • We lost to a man who bragged about grabbing women’s genitals.
  • We lost to a man who denigrated the handicapped, minorities, and just about every demographic except white males.
  • We lost to a man who is clearly self-obsessed, vindictive and chaotic.
  • We lost to a practiced liar who lives in his own, illusory world.
  • Not to put too fine a point on it: We lost to a throughly horrible human being.

We lost because we have forgotten how to communicate with the white working middle-class. We are using outmoded forms of discourse that deny the clear findings of Neuroscience and Cognitive science. (More on this below.)

So what do we do about it?

  1. By all means, keep up the peaceful protests. I am very proud of my fellow Americans who are doing this.
  2. Every time The Donald or his Administration puts forward one of the outrageous lies (like the press not covering most terrorists attacks), we need to blast the lie with hard facts for the record. Read this on the lies!
  3. Download The Indivisible Guide and follow its prescriptions: Tea Party tactics with the evil ideals of the Tea Party removed. The hostile crowds at GOP local town halls are wonderful to see! Hold their feet to the fire!indiv
  4. Join local organizations for action, and especially if you live in a secure blue district like I do, adopt a swing district at Swing Left.logo
  5. We must go beyond being right. Of course we’re right. But as Rahm Emanuel reminded us at Stanford this week, we have to win in order to put those right ideas into action. Being right and losing doesn’t help.
  6. Amid the resistance and action, take time to first educate yourself about modern messaging, and then contact your Democratic Congressional Delegation, and every Democratic group or official you can and give them the links to the educational materials I give below, and insist that they and their staff study these and change.

Framing the Discourse

I have already recommended a lot of reading. Here is the one to begin with: the work of George Lakoff.

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George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

George Lakoff is a UC Berkeley linguist and cognitive scientist. Here is his website.

  1. First download the free PDF Thinking Points and read it. thinking-points
  2. Read his Don’t Think of an Elephant that explains how people think and how to persuade them. the-all-new-dont-think-of-an-elephant_george-lakoff-e1418105189992
  3. If you want to go deeper into the foundations of why this works, read his Moral Politics.moral-politics-e1375934767687

4. Here’s another great guide:

the-little-blue-book

Here is Wikipedia’s summary of Lakoff’s research and results:

Lakoff argues that the differences in opinions between liberals and conservatives follow from the fact that they subscribe with different strength to two different central metaphors about the relationship of the state to its citizens. Both, he claims, see governance through metaphors of the family. Conservatives would subscribe more strongly and more often to a model that he calls the “strict father model” and has a family structured around a strong, dominant “father” (government), and assumes that the “children” (citizens) need to be disciplined to be made into responsible “adults” (morality, self-financing). Once the “children” are “adults”, though, the “father” should not interfere with their lives: the government should stay out of the business of those in society who have proved their responsibility. In contrast, Lakoff argues that liberals place more support in a model of the family, which he calls the “nurturant parent model“, based on “nurturant values”, where both “mothers” and “fathers” work to keep the essentially good “children” away from “corrupting influences” (pollution, social injustice, poverty, etc.). Lakoff says that most people have a blend of both metaphors applied at different times, and that political speech works primarily by invoking these metaphors and urging the subscription of one over the other.[11]

Lakoff further argues that one of the reasons liberals have had difficulty since the 1980s is that they have not been as aware of their own guiding metaphors, and have too often accepted conservative terminology framed in a way to promote the strict father metaphor. Lakoff insists that liberals must cease using terms like partial birth abortion and tax relief because they are manufactured specifically to allow the possibilities of only certain types of opinions. Tax relief for example, implies explicitly that taxes are an affliction, something someone would want “relief” from. To use the terms of another metaphoric worldview, Lakoff insists, is to unconsciously support it. Liberals must support linguistic think tanks in the same way that conservatives do if they are going to succeed in appealing to those in the country who share their metaphors.[12]

Further, Layoff demonstrates that the deep structures of thinking are not rational in the Enlightenment sense of that term. Rather, a central world view metaphor is translated into many corollaries and this usually conditions the way we perceive reality, and analyze facts.

This central metaphor is essential to peoples’ conceptions of themselves, and therefore, any attack on either the central metaphor or its corollaries is an attack on the person him- or herself.

Any fact that is contrary to the metaphor/corollaries is problematic. Here is Lakoff:

We know from experiments that conscious perception is not immediate. To recognize a visual input, a sound, or a touch input you have to have in your brain neural circuitry that is able to recognize it— that fits it. What if your sense input doesn’t fit what is in your brain? Your brain changes it, if possible, to make it fit. Inputs from the senses presented to the eyes, ears, or touch take about one hundred milliseconds (a tenth of a second) before they can become conscious.

That is so fast for conscious functioning that we don’t notice any difference between the input to the senses and our conscious perception. But neurons fire on the scale of one millisecond (one thousandth of a second), and it take three to five milliseconds to fire again. It takes many neurons and a sequence of neural firings to take a sense input and turn it into a conscious perception. In that time, it is common for the visual, sound, or touch system to make a change, cancelling out part of what is present to the senses and creating a new input that fits the circuitry already in your brain.

This does not just happen in experiments with flashes of light, beeps, fast touches on the arm, and pictures and sounds of someone pronouncing syllables. It also happens with facts presented in language.

If the facts don’t fit one’s worldview, one of several things can happen:

• The fact may be changed to fit your worldview.

• The fact may be ignored.

• The fact may be rejected and possibly ridiculed.

• Or the facts, if threatening to your worldview, may be attacked.

All of these happen in political discourse. Deep and persisting moral worldviews tend to be part of your brain circuitry and tend to become part of your identity. In most cases, the neural wiring— and your identity— stay, and the facts are ignored, dismissed, ridiculed, or attacked. It takes extraordinary openness, training, and awareness of this phenomenon to pay critical attention to the vast number of facts we are presented with each day. Few members of the general public— or those in politics or the media— fit this profile.

This isn’t always so. Some facts are so traumatic that they effect a deep change. Such a change happened to me when I saw the image of the Twin Towers falling on 9/ 11— and when I heard of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John and Robert Kennedy. They also happened to me in the early 1970s when I read the earliest report that the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere had recently risen one degree centigrade.

Recalling my MIT thermodynamics course, I had a traumatic realization: That is a huge amount of heat that would have massive horrible effects! But one degree sounds small and most people dismissed the report or never seriously entertained that fact, if they even noticed it. We now know why.

— Lakoff, George. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, Third Edition. University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.

This explains why arguing facts doesn’t work well with those whose central metaphor is different from ours.

Happily, there are those who have some of both central metaphors, and they can be worked with.

In addition, Liberals can appeal to Conservatives by sharing values, and arguing from them. This requires an entirely new way of speaking about things.

A telling fact is that most liberal students who plan to go into politics take political science courses. Conservatives take marketing. It shows! Let’s start taking Marketing as well as Political Science!

Yankeedom’s Preaching

The central Liberal coalition in America is led by Yankeedom (see the work of Colin Woodard). Yankees and those like me who have been initiated into the ways of Yankeedom, and our allies, can be preachy. We come by it from our colonial heritage.

great-awakening

Not that many people like being preached at. An excellent example is the Super Bowl LI commercial lineup.

I loved all the liberal ones, but I have otherwise liberal friends that felt preached-at, and resented the intrusion into the game.

We need to rethink our messaging and avoid being preachy. Lady Gaga got it. She didn’t compromise, and showed that liberals are patriotic.

Remember, the goal is not to make ourselves feel good, or to just be right (which we are). The goal is to win. And to do that, we have to convince others.

Let’s win, Brothers and Sisters!

— Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

How’d We Get Here and What We Can Do About It.

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The Holidays are over, and so we must now face what is coming our way.

As a year-end gift to my fellow liberals and progressives, I wanted to share with you some of my non-fiction reading I’ve been doing to understand this crazy time we’re in, and to prepare for what’s coming!

Semper Paratus!

The Coast Guard Motto (since we are a Coast  Guard Household) is my inspiration here.

There is a superb website and guide about how to realistically face the next four years, created by ex-Congressional Staffers: https://www.indivisibleguide.com . It’s the victory manual to resist the Trump/GOP agenda insofar as possible.

indiv

In addition to this, we must follow Bernie’s rallying cry to be present in every County in this Land, and with our humble deeds and work, show that we are on the side of the Blue Collar workers, and that the GOP sells them out every time.

We are the Maccabees, and the abomination of desolation is on its way.

Now, let me re-affirm to my Conservative friends: if Trump and Co. do anything good, I will applaud and support it. The transition period has not left me hopeful, however.

What does a Just Society look like?

This is the classic work on Justice. It should be in everyone’s reading device. I revisit it often:

John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1971). We read it in Alexander Bickel’s Constitution Law class at Yale Law School.

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Why is America the Way it is?

The classic, but very lengthy, history/sociology tome on how we were formed as a several Nations is

Albion’s Seed (1989) by David Hackett Fischer:

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If you don’t have time for its 972 pages, and for more recent updates, try Colin Woodard’s work:

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (2011)

  • This is essential reading!

…and

American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good (2016)

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Both books are more than history. Woodard has some excellent insights into how we got here, and how to get out of the mess!

How Stupidity became a Virtue in America:

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free (2010) by Charles P. Pierce

Hints (from the book):

  1. Anything that moves units in America is Good
  2. A Fact is what enough people believe
  3. Truth is how fervently they believe it
  4. The absolutely worst thing to be on any subject is an actual expert

This work is hilarious and infuriating at turns, and is a must-read!

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How White Supremacy is one of the Dominant Themes Running though American History:

By James W. Loewen:

 Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007)

Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (2007)

Loewen has many other hard hitting and revelatory works on race in America:

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51elf4Ux8PL

… and:

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (2016) by Carol Anderson

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The End of White Christian America (2016) by Robert P. Jones

 

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Two Caveats:

  1. The theses of these last two books are right, I believe, but the authors—as we now know—were a generation off. To paraphrase Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “They’re not dead yet!”
  1. By “Christian,” Jones mostly means “Protestant.”

How Movement Conservatism, which dominates the GOP, has Conquered All through its Web of Lies:

As we prepare for the term of the Liar-in-Chief, his Billionaire Boys Club and his Movement Conservative GOP Congress, we need to know how the lies became part of our National life.

Hint: It started with Big Tobacco!

The Big Con: Crackpot Economics and the Fleecing of America (2008) by Jonathan Chait

 

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Lies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics (2016) by Ari Rabin-Havt and Media Matters for America

Hint from this last book: We live in a Pseustocracy, or more commonly Pseudocracy — Rule by Liars.

51bulcsqohl

Here is an excellent academic paper on the subject:

“When Did We Start Just Making Shit Up? Origins of U. S. Pseudocracy”

Why the American Blended Economy Worked so Well, and Why ours Today doesn’t:

American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper (2016) by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson

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My Upcoming Reading in this area of study:

The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted (2013) by Mike Lofgren (Yes, I know who he is!)

Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses (2016) by Lawrence Ross – A former student of mine at Loyola High School in Los Angeles… very proud of him!

Here’s his Website!

How did We get into this Mess: Politics, Equality, Nature (2016) by George Monbiot

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism (2016) by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2005)
by Thomas Frank

God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (2006)
by Jim Wallis

How did I come to be one of the Demonized “Coastal Elites”?

Refer to the map below from Woodard’s American Nations to reference my narrative, and also compare to the electoral map at the bottom of the blog.

upinarms-map

I was born to parents who grew up in El Norte (El Paso), and who had moved to one of the capitals of the Far West, Phoenix. However, my Mother’s half-Hispanic heritage, my Catholicism, my Father’s family ties to Yankeedom (Illinois), and very frequent visits to my Grandmother’s house in El Paso, tempered me, orienting me toward El Norte culture.

el-paso-juarez-night-780x400

El Paso – Juárez Borderplex

A liberal Catholic and Jesuit education inspired me at St. Matthew’s and Brophy, and then I was thoroughly initiated into the ways of Yankeedom at Yale, since New Haven is one of the two capitals of New England culture. (Boston is the other.)

Yale Reunion

A very exclusive club: Brophy ’72 and Yale ’76: Bryan Murphy and me at our 40th Yale Reunion in 2016.

Novitiate in Santa Barbara (El Norte) continued the liberal influence. Then I went to Fordham and learned the tolerant, liberal and competitive ways of New Netherlands in NYC.

fordham1

Keating Hall and Edward’s Parade at Fordham Rose-Hill in the Bronx. 

From there I taught in Los Angeles, one of the capitals of El Norte. After Regency at Loyola High School, I returned to  Yankeedom, studying in the other capital of New England culture, Boston/Cambridge.

hellenic_college_and_holy_cross_greek_orthodox_school_of_theology_brookline_ma_-7

Chapel of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline MA, where I studied while in the Boston area, in addition to Weston, Harvard Divinity, and the Melkite Seminary

 

Following Ordination, I was posted to the cultural capital of The Left Coast, San Francisco, and have been here ever since. The Left Coast is a cultural extension of Yankeedom.

San Francisco, CA, USA

My coalition is Yankeedom and her allies. The whole history of the U.S. can be seen as a struggle primarily between Yankeedom and the Deep South. The other nations change their allegiances. Yankeedom preaches “Ordered Liberty.” The Deep South was influenced by Barbados, the most horrific Slave Colony of its day, among other influences.

In this election, most of Yankeedom and her children stayed blue, New Netherlands did too, and Colorado and New Mexico of El Norte joined. Tidewater came with us (Thanks Tim Kaine!).

California—since the majority of the population lives in either The Left Coast or El Norte—and its sometime ally Nevada, went blue. Hawai’i stayed Blue.

We lost pretty much everyone else.

It’s a bit eerie how close the Electoral map is to Woodard’s map of the Eleven Nations!

upinarms-map

map

 

Happy New Year!

 

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

The Two Most Wonderful Videos of the Season

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This is just a quick post to commemorate the two most wonderful and hopeful videos of the Season:

Priest and Imam:

 

Bishop and Rabbi:

English:

 

 

…and the Spanish original:

 

(Note: Monsignor is a common title for Bishops in other languages. It means, “My Lord”as in the now archaic “Milord.”)

And here’s the reason for all this: “Love will conquer all!”

From The Canterbury Tales, which Mom and I saw in London in the summer of 1972:

 

Love to all!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Here I Stand

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luther-here-i-stand

Hier stehe ich (“Here I stand”), is thought to be Martin Luther‘s statement at the Diet of Worms (1521), refusing to submit to the Church’s discipline, holding his positions to be correct.

History has, in general, vindicated some of his major positions. In fact, had the Roman Church not fallen away from Orthodox practices, such as married clergy and Communion under both kinds, there might not have been a Reformation.

I have adopted his declaration for a Post giving some of my thoughts on the current political situation in the U.S. and in part, the world.

Read these two paragraphs very carefully:

In this blog, I want to do something different, and I call on all who read this to react, not with debate, but with similar posts giving your fundamental principles (ἀξιώμᾰτᾰ — axiomata) and corollaries. 

I’m not prejudging, but if your comments are arguing or debating against my fundamental principles and corollaries, instead of enunciating your own, I will probably delete your comment, no matter how deep or long our (real) friendship is. And of course, no Ad Hominem.

I’m not interested in acrimonious debate…I am interested in sincerely learning what your worldview is. That way, actual dialogue can take place in the future.

OK, let’s go…my axiomata and some corollaries. Here I Stand:

st-reagan

The most dangerous Forces in the U.S. and the World Today, in descending order:

  1. Human Caused Climate Change and other environmental degradation and the concurrent Climate Deniers
  2. Movement Conservatism, and its wholly owned subsidiary, today’s Republican Party Office holders and officials (not the rank and file)
  3. Rule by the Gut: The abandonment of reason and intellect in our national discourse. See Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
    by Charles P. Pierce
  4. The 1% (with a few exceptions, see below), Corporate Personhood, “Too Big to Fail” institutions
  5. Trickle-Down Economic theories (Voodoo Economics — Reaganomics)
  6. White Supremacism / White Nationalism (US and elsewhere) and their hate groups. See Lies My Teacher Told Me, Lies Across America, and other works by James W. Loewen, as well as White Rage by White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson Ph.D.
  7. Daesh, Al Qaida, Wahabism, Salafism, and other Radical Muslim terrorist and hate movements (The real War on Christianity, and everyone else)
  8. Radical Christian terrorism and hate groups
  9. The Religious Right in the U.S., and that includes the Right Wing of the Catholic Church

The reason why Movement Conservatism and Current GOP rank so high, is because Movement Conservatism is a quasi-religious cult complete with Oaths, Saints, and Excommunication. It promotes the evils above (except #7, and possibly #8). See The Big Con: Crackpot Economics and the Fleecing of America by Jonathan Chait (Author).

The current GOP wins elections with a clever, but dishonest strategy. Their candidates promise to fight for the middle-class, defeat LGBT rights, stop abortion, etc. Once elected, they do none of those things, but rather consistently act in favor of the rich and super-rich, and materially and deliberately hurt the common person. See What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank.

My View of the Recent Election

Having moved through the Stages of Grief after the morning of November 9, I remain heartbroken and disgusted, but mostly puzzled.

This is what I see in Donald J. Trump after listening to him incessantly for–what was it–12+ months of an excruciating campaign (more about that later).

  • A man born with a silver spoon in his mouth
  • A man who has demonstrated his misogyny over and over in his life
  • A business man who has largely made his wealth by shorting or stiffing his contractors outright. (Ask the good folks in Atlantic City… Nucky Thompson was kinder to the city that spawned Monopoly). He’s a big-time Con-Man.
  • A man who, with insidious cleverness, read the White Rage and and Middle-Class angst in the U.S. and exploited it shamelessly
    • Anyone who does not think that “Make America Great Again” was a “dog whistle”for “Make America White Again” wasn’t really paying attention to who listened, and cheered
    • I do not see DJT as a racist…but he sure used American Racism, playing on it constantly
  • A man who showed reckless disregard for the truth, openly lying, clearly just making stuff up as he went along
  • A man who proposed a completely Unconstitutional Religious Test, to be used against Muslims
  • A man who used school-yard bullying and personal insult to put down his Republican and Democratic opponents
  • A man who is so thin-skinned that he used Twitter to try to intimidate and lie when he felt slighted. He seems to enjoy threatening ordinary people who oppose him.
  • A man with absolutely no experience in the Military or Government.
  • A man with no visible political, philosophical, ethical or religious convictions. His only apparent goal was to win, possibly to self-aggrandize and make money for his companies.
  • A man who made all kinds of campaign promises that it is clear now were a bait-and switch. Well at least there, he is in solid Current GOP territory.
    • He is actually saying things like “In the election, we said it was rigged. But we won, so we don’t care any more.”

My conclusion was, and is, that this man is a cad, a liar, a con-man, and basically a pretty thoroughly disgusting human being.

steve_bannon_2010

By Don Irvine – Steve Bannon, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53441636

Now, as he assembles his administration, he has made a few good picks, however, on balance, he has a leader of the Alt-Right as his chief strategist (above). Several of his appointees seem to be designed to destroy the very agencies departments they will lead. And all the billionaire kleptocrats! And Roger Ailes, one of the chief evils of the age is in the background. His “drain the swamp” has turned into “Import more Alligators”!

In The Nation, Susan McWilliams makes an excellent point that Hunter S. Thompson predicted the Trumpism of Total Retaliation in his Hell’s Angels. Read the commentary which is thoughtful and important for us Liberals to understand. Trumpism is embraced by those who feel society has left behind.

So, my conservative true friends, I know that you are intelligent, good people, and that you have not been left behind. In your statement of axiomata and corollaries, please (and I mean this sincerely), let me know how you could have voted for this man I loathe.

By the way, while I see Hillary Clinton as a good, Methodist Grandmother, who has been in public service most of her life, her campaign was very poorly run. That’s why I say that we have an evil party (GOP) and a stupid party (Democrats) in the U.S.

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My depression was in large part because I hoped that this year, a fundamentally decent person, Mrs. Clinton, would break the US glass ceiling (the only glass ceiling higher is the Papacy!), as the best qualified candidate in modern history. The sword was supposed to be driven through the heart of the GOP Dragon, and Good would triumph. That’s a hard dream to see shattered.

One final word: I acknowledge that DJT is the President of my Country, and I want him to succeed. Unlike the Republicans of Congress who made it their sole guiding principle to make President Obama’s Presidency fail (they didn’t succeed), I will support every good thing DJT does, and will decry any bad thing he does, even-handedly.

Historical Perspective

the_bosses_of_the_senate_by_joseph_keppler

I have spoken about this before, but it is worth mentioning that I see us moving into a new Gilded Age.

I further fear that there are many signs that we are repeating mistakes of 1930s Germany.

I can elaborate about those things in future posts.

My Suspicion of the Super-Rich

rich

If a person is Super-Rich, or if the company is one of the mega-corporations, I am instinctively suspicious. The super-rich and big corporations have to prove to me they are not crooks and kleptocrats. A few have:

  • Bill and Melinda Gates
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Elon Musk
  • George Soros
  • Mark Cuban
  • Warren Buffet

… for example.

I am also automatically suspicious of the management of large, and mega corporations.

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Sources of News

I get my news from a wide variety of sources. Here are a few

  • The NY Times (the American Paper of Record)
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • The Economist
  • The Washington Post
  • Huff Post
  • The Atlantic
  • Network News (including looking in on CNN and even Fox–shudder!–from time to time)
  • Local TV and internet news
  • NPR
  • Occasionally Pacifica Radio
  • The LA Times

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  • The SF Chronicle
  • The SF Examiner
  • BBC
  • CBC
  • Occasionally French press
  • The New Republic
  • National Catholic Reporter
  • America Magazine
  • Crux News service
  • The Nation
  • The reporting of Fr. Tom Reese, S.J.
  • Snopes.com for fact-checking

Each of these has some bias in the way stories are chosen, written, etc. For example, the WSJ has a bias toward business. Huff Post is progressive. If a story strikes me, I will then drill down to find primary sources.

I don’t like dismissing news stories because of their publication source–actual Fake News is the Exception. If it gets reported, and I’m interested in it, I will investigate further to see if it happened, the circumstances, and read several viewpoints from different sources to get a feel for it.

Gone, thank heavens, are the days when the press conspired to keep FDR’s disabilities a secret.

My big beef with the press in this election is how they gave so much free time to Trump, and never effectively held his feet to the fire about his many problems, such as

  • Misogyny
  • Trump U
  • Taxes
  • Bankrupting Companies

…while brutalizing Secretary Clinton on emails, etc.

This Saturday Night Live skit summed up how I saw the mainstream press this election cycle, and deplored their actions:

 

Is there Liberal Bias in Mainstream Media and the Media industry?

In a word: Yes. But not why most people think.

In my experience on this planet, the Liberal/Progressive position is the factually, philosophically, and ethically  correct position roughly 75-80% of the time. Liberals, however, are divided among themselves and often very poor communicators, while Conservatives are amazingly effective communicators (see below).

Therefore the Media and Entertainment naturally gravitate toward truth and away from self-serving falsehood. Therefore they only appear to have a liberal bias, they actually have a bias toward truth.

orlando-ferguson-flat-earth-map_edit

We have developed a weird idea in Idiot America: that there are two sides to every story, and that both sides must be given equal time. There are not always two sides, as I outlined in a previous post.  For example:

  • The world is not flat
  • Earth revolves around the Sun, not vice versa
  • Human-caused negative environmental change is real
  • Creationism is not science, and belongs in philosophy and theology classes, not in science classes
  • Humans and Dinosaurs did not co-exist (Sorry Sarah Palin)

Charles Pierce did a good job in Idiot America in enunciating these fundamental laws at work today in the U.S.:

  • Anything that moves units is good (sales)
  • A fact is what enough people believe
  • Truth is how fervently they believe it (truthiness…thank you Stephen Colbert)
  • The worst thing to be on any topic is a genuine expert in the field.

What we Progressives need to do is

  • Organize as effective a communications apparatus as the Right Wing has
  • Re-examine ourselves humbly as to how we got arrogant and comfortable
  • Be present in every community and convince Middle-Class and Blue Collar Americans that we have their backs, and really do so! (Thanks Bernie!)

When Centrist seems Leftist: the Right and Left are not at parity.

In The Big Con: Crackpot Economics and the Fleecing of America, Jonathan Chait demonstrates how the “Center” of American politics has moved steadily Right-ward, and also the incredible lock-step propaganda machine of the Right.

One great example of the non-parity is the institution of the Think Tank.

think-tank-pic

Liberal Think-Tanks were founded to explore fact-based policies, and to offer solutions to situations that had been vetted by the best and brightest scholars in the field. Members often disagree with one another publicly.

Right-Wing Think-Tanks were founded to propagate and defend dogmatic positions, usually of Movement Conservatism. Their agenda is set a priori.

These two institutions look alike, but they are not really alike at all, and are a wonderful illustration of the difference between current Left and Right in the U.S.

How did I get here?

Now, you may ask, how did I get here?

I base this on these excellent works of US History:

upinarms-map

Using Woodard’s expansion of Fischer’s schema of the separate cultural areas (Nations) that make up North America, here is my journey:

I was born to parents who grew up in El Norte (El Paso), and who had moved to one of the capitals of the Far West, Phoenix. However, my Mother’s half-Hispanic heritage, my Father’s family ties to Yankeedom (Illinois), and very frequent visits to my Grandmother’s house in El Paso, tempered me, orienting me toward El Norte culture.

A liberal Catholic and Jesuit education inspired me, and then I was thoroughly initiated into the ways of Yankeedom at Yale, New Haven being one of the two capitals of New England culture. (Boston is the other.)

Novitiate in Santa Barbara (El Norte) continued the liberal influence. Then I went to Fordham and learned the tolerant, liberal and competitive ways of New Netherlands in NYC.

From there I taught in Los Angeles, one of the capitals of El Norte. After Regency at Loyola High School, I returned to the Yankeedom, studying in the other capital of New England culture, Boston/Cambridge.

Following Ordination, I was posted to the cultural capital of The Left Coast, San Francisco, and have been here ever since. The Left Coast is a cultural extension of Yankeedom.

If I didn’t turn out to be a liberal, part Hispanic, Yankee, it would be very strange. My coalition is Yankeedom and her allies. The whole history of the U.S. can be seen as a struggle between primarily Yankeedom and the Deep South. The other nations change their allegiances. Yankeedom preaches “Ordered Liberty.”

In this election, most of Yankeedom and her children stayed blue, New Netherlands did too, and Colorado and New Mexico of El Norte joined. California, since the majority of the population lives in either The Left Coast or El Norte, California, and its sometime ally Nevada went blue. We lost pretty much everyone else.

Read Woodard’s work to get further insight.

What am I in favor of?

Most of this post so far has set down what I am against. Now let’s flip it and see what I am for!

My stance was essentially formed by my Western and Eastern Christianity, and my education.

pascha-header

Fundamental is my belief in the liberating message, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, full of acceptance and wholeness, and full of justice for the poor. The rich can take care of themselves, God’s predilection is for the poor and powerless. This should be our’s too.

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In the realm of economics, I stand with the Cappadocian Fathers (St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa) and the teacher of many of them, St. Macrina.

In this view, being an entrepreneur is a talent given by God like any other, shipbuilding, cooking, etc. The entrepreneur may legitimately make a lot of money for his/her family if the following conditions are upheld:

  • He/she provides a good product/service at a reasonable price
  • He/she pays a living, competitive wage to workers, in safe and healthy conditions
  • He/she does not fall victim to luxury, and gives sacrificially to the poor

Health Care was not thought of, because the Roman Empire in the East had a free, public/private health-care system in the major cities. Like most of the civilized, industrialized world quite sensibly has today, with one big exception!

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Hagia Sophia, The Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople as it was in the 12th Century.

Furthermore, I am for a mixed, blended economy. The Economy is a human artifact, and we can make it anything we want to.

Just like with Gas and Electric, let these elements each do what they do best:

  • Fairly regulated, ethical capitalism
  • Collective work, Socialism
  • A balance and cooperation between Business and Government

I am a huge supporter of small-to-medium businesses and business owners, and the middle-class. I know many very ethical  small-to-medium businesses and business owners. They and the middle-class backbone of America.

I support:

  • Strong Labor Unions
  • Universal health care
  • The New Deal–Updated for today. We promise to work as hard as we can, and Society promises to take care of us if something goes wrong
  • A level playing field for opportunities for all
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Our Father and Mother among the Saints, Franklin and Eleanor

In the realm of Justice, I follow John Rawls’ A Theory of JusticeIn a nutshell, nothing must ever benefit the highest in society without also benefitting the lowest in society. That’s why I love the line from G.K. Chesterton’s “O God of Earth and Altar“:

Tie in a living tether
the prince and priest and thrall,
bind all our lives together,
smite us and save us all.

I strongly support our military and Law Enforcement, while wanting to make sure that Law Enforcement lives up to the high ethical standards we need. The attacks on Police must end.

I do see that, largely due to the white supremacist tendencies in America (see above), African Americans have never had full freedom and acceptance in America, even after the end of Slavery, and this must be addressed. Black (and Brown) lives do matter just as much as White lives do. We have to live up this.

In the realm of Politics, we need Election Reform. I have blogged quite a bit about this in the past: See here and here.

Here are my views in a nutshell:

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To this I now add:

  • Remove Corporate Personhood
  • Reform the Electoral College so that either all Electoral Votes are proportionately assigned, or States pledge to give their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. (I’ll have a full blog post on this later).
  • Remove all Voter Suppression laws and consider issuing a free National ID Card, and making voting mandatory for all citizens, as in Australia (more on this in the same future Blog Post).

In the realm of Society, I not only tolerate diversity, I celebrate it. We were never a Christian country, we were a Country where the majority of people were Protestant and Anglican Christians. We were founded on the ideas of The Enlightenment, Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism.

Here are a few things I support:

  • I advocate to protect ethnic minorities and the poor from the tyranny of the majority.
  • Full rights and justice for Indigenous Peoples
  • Women must have full and complete equality in society, including equal pay for equal work.
  • LGBT peoples’ rights must be protected
  • African-Americans must finally be fully free and empowered in the US
  • White European Males and their descendants have generally been in charge of the world since the European Invasion of the rest of the World in the 15oos and following. They did some good, they did some bad. Time to share the power.
  • Reasonable border security
  • A road to citizenship for those already here
  • In a coalition with others, improving the conditions in Central America: Colombia did it, so can others.
  • Reducing the number of abortions to as few as possible by great health care, education, and prudent use of birth control. As Hillary believes, bortion should be safe, legal, and rare.
  • Eliminate Poverty in America
  • Provide the means for the Homeless to return to Society, or be cared for.

Watch the tear-producing 60 Minutes segment on Colombia improvements.

My endgame: The Rosicrucian Utopia–The Federation

In the long term, I look for movement toward the Rosicrucian Utopia Gene Roddenberry so beautifully depicted in Star Trek’s Federation.

starfleet_headquarters_2150s

Here are some of what I hope we will evolve toward in the next few centuries. The “” indicate citations from the Rosicrucian Utopia. I have also added my own thoughts, not in quotes.

  • “Politicians are profoundly humanitarian and strive to serve the common good.”
  • “Economists manage state finances with discernment and in the interest of all.”
  • “Scientists are spiritualistic and seek their inspiration in the Book of Nature”
  • “Artists are inspired and express the beauty and purity of the Divine Plan in their works”
  • “Physicians are motivated by love for their fellow beings and treat both the soul and the body.”
  • “Misery and poverty have vanished, for everyone has what he or she needs to live happily.”
  • “Work is not regarded as a chore, but as a source of growth and well-being”
  • “Nature is considered to be the most beautiful temple of all, and animals are considered to be our brothers and sisters on the path of evolution”
  • “A World Government composed of the leaders of all nations, working in the interest of humanity, has come into existence.”
  • “Human relations are founded upon love, friendship, and fraternity, so that the whole world lives in peace and harmony.”

And my own additions:

  • Eventually sane economics leads, as in The Federation, to the elimination of money, and that everyone has what she/he needs to be successful for them selves, and to benefit society.
  • In the realm of Religion and Spirituality, all initiates of every Path recognize the initiates of all other Paths, and that we all value the many ways to the same Source of Being, as in this wonderful clip from Babylon 5:

 

I consider this the anthem of my quest, from Wm. Blake’s Milton (in its original text):

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.

 

So, there are some of my fundamentals and corollaries. This took more than a month of thought and introspection, and is still woefully incomplete. I invite you to do the same, and share with us your “Here I Stand.” Through this, we can come to understand one another better, and move forward together.

Thanks for Reading!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

 

 

 

 

What the &%$#? Election Musings.

2 Comments

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In the wake of recent Electoral Events, I will be posting a series of Commentaries, probably beginning next week through early December. I truly hope to contribute to the dialogue, and invite your comments on my posts.

Unlike the Republicans during President Obama’s administration, I do not hope for and will not work for a failed Trump Presidency. I hope he jettisons all of his campaign rhetoric and does a great job, and I support him in any good things he will do.

These blogs will be for perspective, and for going forward.

Note: I have strong opinions and statements, and I back up what I say with evidence. If you share ideas, please back them up with evidence, not just feelings. I’ll outline that in my blogs. You are free to have feelings, but feelings ≠ (do not equal) evidence.

I do not believe—no, I know—that there are not two sides to every story (there are sometimes, but not always). Sometimes one side is true, and one side is false, and no amount of believing will make the other side true: e.g. Earth is round: Case Closed. Our Media must realize this and act accordingly.

God Bless America!

Future topics:

  • Theoretical Methodology. What are facts and Truth, as opposed to Truthiness?
    • A Reading List that will allow you to understand exactly what is taking place
    • The creation of Idiot America where the gut rules, and intellect is despised.
  • The context of this election against the understanding of the Eleven Nations of North America.
  • How I dealing with my stages of grief.
  • How the 2016 Election results happened.
    • How the Republican obstructionist, the Tea Party and Movement Conservatism opened the door.
    • How Trump manipulated the electorate
      • Dog Whistle arguments
      • Enlisting White Rage
      • Enlisting Misogyny
      • Rhetorical techniques
      • Who is Trump after all?
    • How the Democrats were asleep at the switch
    • The Media’s epic failure to cover this election equitably
      • What’s wrong with the media’s approach of two sides to every issue, when there are really not?
    • Extra-campaign factors
      • James Comey and the FBI: motivations
      • Wikileaks
      • Putin and Russia
      • The European phenomenon of whites-first politics (Brexit, Austria, Hungary, Finland, et al.)
  • How Movement Conservatism has bamboozled America (It’s a Con of awesome proportions, let me tell you!)
    • How they have created a state of Invincible Ignorance in almost half of our nation’s people
      • How to invade and conquer Invincible Ignorance
  • Exposing the Right-Wing efforts–successful–to suppress voting
  • The guilt of Fundamentalist and right wing Protestants, and Right-Wing Catholic Bishops in this whole mysoginistic mess as they betray Christ and drive people away from Him and toward the Right-Wing.
  • How we can neutralize the Electoral College without a Constitutional Amendment or Convention, and  enter 21st Century reality.
  • How we progressives can and must work humbly and contritely to convince America that our agenda is good for Everyone!

Steven A. Armstrong

 

Update: Here’s a posting I sent to friends (real friends) on Facebook:

 

OK my (real, not FB) friends, since you’ve all been in the discussions.  I’m not going to belabor this, since I am preparing probably a month of Blog Posts putting forth my whole argument. See the preview at www.stevenaarmstrongsf.com . Here are my basic points:

 

  1. I love you as my friends, and nothing will change that. Bottom line.
  2. The Donald has to prove himself to me. See #9 below for how he’s blowing it so far. The clock is ticking.
  3. I have messaged the poster of the homophobic car note and asked him to verify. He is an Episcopal Priest. I have heard back and the note is genuine. I have verified it. This happened to a real Gay Episcopal married priest, not the poster. Shame!!
  4. I’m sorry the college student lied about the Hijab. That’s wrong, and perhaps actionable. She made a very bad mistake which then plays into the other camp’s hands.
  5. Anything I post, please fact-check. I want to be accurate about facts.
  6. I can assure you—and you know me to be an honorable man—there are millions of us out here who are terrified at the promises DJT made during the Campaign. If you don’t accept that, I don’t know what to say. Talk to people outside your circle.
    1. I must be honest with you. A vote for Trump viscerally feels to me like a repudiation of everything I have worked for my entire life. Sorry, but that what it feels like to me. It doesn’t mean I don’t still like my friends who voted for Trump, but this is personal for me.
    2. We are particularly terrified at the possible effects on SCOTUS. God help us!
  7. I heard a very wise statement the other day: “Those who took Trump seriously, did not take him literally. Those who did not take him seriously took him literally.” I take the man at his word…and it scares the hell out of me.
  8. I cannot for the life of me understand how we listened to the exact same Trump rallies and speeches and tweets, and you don’t see how hate-filled his whole campaign was with Dog Whistles everywhere.
  9. World perspective: White Europeans and their descendants are trying to claw back the power they have lost since they conquered the world in the 16th-19th Centuries: see Brexit, Austria, Hungary, Finland, Russia, and now us. As a Sion of Spain, Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales, I reject this movement: Anathema Sit!
  10. I cannot for the life of me understand how we listened to the exact same Trump rallies and speeches and tweets, and you don’t see how he either lied or just made stuff up as he went along. No drought in CA, no Climate change, and so forth and so on. No contact with Russia, when Russia affirms his staff was in contact.
  11. I cannot for the life of me understand how when you see the gang of thieves, cut-throats, white supremacists, homophobes, and cronies he is loading his transition team with, you are not as appalled as I am. My heavens, Steve Bannon, the very heart and soul and enabler of the evil Alt-Right! How can you countenance that?
    1. Doesn’t it bother you that White Supremacists and the KKK laud him? They know his true agenda.
  12. I do not care in the slightest that George Soros may be assisting the protests. The Koch Brothers do the same thing with the Tea Party, etc. I’m a Soros fan! Thank God we have some rich guys on the peoples’ side.
  13. One of the ways Trump won was by the racist voter suppression laws in many States which are tantamount to a resurrected Jim Crow. I believe that the US should issue a free National ID Card to all actual citizens, and that all citizens be compelled to vote as in Australia. They can vote a blank ballot if they want. Any one—like Fr. Deacon Paul Weyrich, with whom I served at the Altar, one of the founders of Movement Conservatism and its unholy alliance with Right-wing Christianity—who says “We don’t want everyone to vote” is un-American. I pray for his repose. He died of a terrible illness. A great Deacon, a terrible politician. We both loved trains. You see, I have been at the Heart of the Beast and understand it from the inside.
  14. Some of my basic principles:
    1. There are not two legitimate sides to every story. The media does not have to give time to “both sides” when one is demonstrably false by any valid test. For example, Pence says tobacco doesn’t cause cancer. Sorry Mike, you are just wrong. No justification for listening to you on that. The world is round: No time need be spent on alternate theories.
    2. The greatest evil threatening our nation is “Movement Conservatism,” which is a quasi-religious Cult. I’m not talking about ordinary conservative thinkers. I mean the doctrinaire cult that brought us trickle-down economics, etc., and now has control of Congress. Far more dangerous to us and to the world than Daesh or Al Qaida. And the Republican Party, once the dignified GOP of Eisenhower and Rockefeller, is its biggest victim.
      1. Example: The Left and Right are not equivalent. Liberal think-tanks were created to examine problems from a purely objective standpoint and avoid all partisanship, finding fact-based solutions. Conservative think-tanks eschew all objectivity and were created solely to press for the Movement Conservative agenda. The first is genuine, the second is partisan hogwash.
    3. The New Deal is the greatest achievement of our Nation’s social policy. Of course it had flaws and needs updating over time, but I stand by Our Father and Mother among the Saints, Franklin and Eleanor. I will fight every attempt to destroy it.
    4. The Left, and in particular, the Democratic Party, has made many mistakes. I do not claim infallibility for them at all. In particular, in this election, they did not take account of the rise of White Rage, the disaffection of many of the white middle-class, and the fickleness of minority voters. They did not effectively get out the vote.
      1. The rule by experts of Kennedy and Johnson administrations had many missteps. It’s still the right way, but we need to humbly admit it needs work.
    5. Finally, I intuit very deeply that we are in mid-1930s Germany.
      1. Trump wants to keep holding rallies! Can we say Nuremberg and Reichsparteitag?
      2. He has no concept of how a Democracy works. Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer.
      3. Here are the key notes of Fascism. They sound like DJT to me:

Nationalism: Fascism seeks to solve economic, political, and social problems by achieving a millenarian national rebirth, exalting the nation or race above all else, and promoting cults of unity, strength, and purity

Totalitarianism: It opposes liberal democracy, rejects multi-party systems, and supports a one-party state, which we now have with all the power with the Republicans.

Economics: Some of this does not fit Trump. I am an honest guy. But this part does: Fascists criticized egalitarianism as preserving the weak. They instead promoted social Darwinist views.

Action: Fascism emphasizes direct action, including supporting the legitimacy of political violence, as a core part of its politics. See his rallies.

Age and gender roles: His misogyny, sexual abuse, and a retrograde gender view.

  1. My conversations with my European and other foreign friends confirm that everyone else in the world already sees this. Those who cannot see it here are simply self-deluded. I’m sorry, I must be blunt. There is no American Exceptionalism.
  2. This is my credo. I will not be silent:
                                  First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. — Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

 

                                               i.

I am doing this for you, to save all of us! You have no idea the evil that has been loosed upon us.

Enough for tonight. I will continue my battle tomorrow and the next, and the next until we have built Jerusalem in America’s green and pleasant lands.

 

Please God, Truly bless America, and make her The City set on a Hilltop.

My modern adaptation of the Troparion of the Holy Cross in my Byzantine Christian tradition:

“O Lord, save Thy People and Bless Thine Inheritance,
granting to Thy People Victory over any who oppose Justice!
And by the Power of Thy Cross, Preserving Thy Commonwealth!”

Here’s the video:

NB: Some of the accents are wrong in the Greek–not my doing! They forgot the rule about grave accents on the ultima before other words. Ah well!

The sacred meaning is still intact!

 

Untruth and Falsehood do NOT Deserve Equal Time

1 Comment

A blogger for USNews, Peter Roff, wrote this back in 2013, and it is worthwhile to examine it once again:

Now comes a study from the George Mason University Center for Media and Public Affairs that demonstrates empirically that PolitiFact.org, one of the nation’s leading “fact checkers,” finds that Republicans are dishonest in their claims three times as often as Democrats. “PolitiFact.com has rated Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims during President Obama’s second term,” the Center said in a release, “despite controversies over Obama administration statements on Benghazi, the IRS and the AP.” http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2013/05/28/study-finds-fact-checkers-biased-against-republicans

I have no doubt at all that the Study was correct. The fact checkers most probably do rank Democratic Politicians as more truthful about 3 times as often as Republican Politicians.

(I say politicians because Democratic and Republican American ordinary Citizens are NOT the subject of anything I am about to say.)

There is a simple reason for this, and it is not bias (although of course some bias can always creep in).

The reason is this:

The Democratic Politicians ARE three times more truthful and accurate than the Republican Politicians.

We Americans, and in particular the press, have gotten a funny–and dangerous–notion into our heads: In ANY argument, the two sides have equal validity, and must be given equal time and equal acceptance.

This of course is a corollary of the Laws of Idiot America that Charles Pierce discovered:

  1. Anything is good/true/valuable if it moves units (sells things/makes money).
  2. A fact is what enough people believe.
  3. Truth is how fervently they believe it.

From these also flows the idea that any one’s opinion about something is the equal to an educated opinion from a bonafide expert in the field, and indeed opinions Trump® (actual) Facts.

Read Pierces’s book for the whole horrible story:

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A fact-based decision making process, a requirement for our Democratic Republic as the Founders knew, is scarcely to be seen.

We progressives of the Yankeedom-led coalition are not blameless in how experts came to be distrusted. During the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, we attempted a wholesale reliance on “experts” to run our society, and they made some whopping mistakes.

We need to admit this and work to restore the legitimate place of expertise in our National Discourse.

(For the coalitions that make up the United States, see these two works:

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…and more.)

Nevertheless, the meretricious and lying scheme to bamboozle the American People into believing falsehood was cooked up to keep on selling tobacco long after the Tobacco Industry knew it was deadly.

Pierce outlines how the Tobacco Industry called on a Madison Avenue Advertising firm to help them, and a strategy of subterfuge was plotted to create a false “scientific” controversy about the effects of tobacco with falsified studies, purchased “experts,” calling any one with an MS a “Scientist,” and generally pseudo-scientific skepticism.

It worked for a long time. Hey, the GOP VEEP candidate, Mike Pence still believes it:

“Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill,” he wrote on his old Mike Pence for Congress website in 1998BuzzFeed first reported more than a year ago.

(And don’t forget, if Trump® wins, he and Trump’s kids are actually going to running the country…you don’t think The Donald® wants to work that hard, do you?)

More recently, the Creationists and the Climate Change Deniers (the Fossil Fuel industry) have used the same strategy with great success. So too the Birthers, the Speed Boaters, and the “Crooked Hillary” crowd. (Fact Checkers–remember them?–rate her the most honest of all the candidates in this cycle.)

In a perverted mockery of the Fairness Doctrine, the Media have decided that on any issue, both sides deserve equal time, regardless of the factually demonstrated falsity of one side. However:

  • Creationism is not an alternative scientific theory. It is a religious and philosophical viewpoint that belongs in a different classroom, not in science curriculum.
  • Humanity’s effect on the global climate is the clear consensus from the vast majority of real scientists and studies. We see the effects all around us. Must we wait for Florida to become an Archipelago to act?

Once the falsity of claims like these and those of the Birthers, the Speed Boaters and the “Crooked Hillary” crowd are shown to be false, the media should stop covering their politically-motivated supporters who don’t have the civility to shut up. Falsehood, Lies and Untruth do not deserve a voice.

I am not suggesting that they should stop speaking—thank God and the people of New Netherlands that we have Freedom of Speech—I am suggesting that we, and our media, ignore them.

There are answers—actually scientific, factual answers—to the questions that face us today. We must stop letting our “gut” rule us, and get back to listening to the Head—and the Heart!

Enough ranting for today! Thanks for reading!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant