Friday, November 3, 2017

Cognitive Dissonance


 They’ve been screaming ‘Russians!’ ever since email leaks showed that the fix was already in. The DNC’s defense in court was that they didn’t owe anyone a fair primary process. They didn’t even try to deny it.

Those I’ve run into, online and off, who deny that the primaries were rigged, don’t even bother trying to refute the facts because they know they have nothing to support their position. Instead, they attack your credibility.  They try to gaslight you into thinking you're imagining things, that what happened didn't really happen. They’ll outright lie about it, and insult your intelligence.

In a similar vein, I came across George Orwell's essay on the Spanish Civil War, within which was this:

"And stranger yet, at any moment the situation can suddenly reverse itself and yesterday’s proved-to-the-hilt atrocity story can become a ridiculous lie, merely because the political landscape has changed."

It appears that the same thing is happening with regard to last years' Democratic primaries. There's not even an attempt to present actual evidence because they know there isn't any.  Instead, they pesent an appeal to authority, which they know is a false narrative, by insisting that this one time the intelligence community is telling the truth, in spite of their record of lying and obfuscating, even duriing Congressional testimony. Those good folks at the CIA wouldn't lie, would they? 

I even had one online "friend" who just yesterday admitted he doesn't trust the intel community to be truthful.  Yet in a remarkable display of cognitive dissonance, he also insisted that he wouldn't trust a former CIA whistle blower who spent time in prison for exposing the hidden torture programs that agency committed, telling us not to trust the intel community's veracity.

But they show no hard evidence to back up their claims, and still people believe them, because they can't stand the idea that their faux-progressive hero is corrupt.

One by one the elements of the false narrative are being knocked down.  There was no Russian involvement in the Wisconsin hacking of voter databases.  Forensic analysis of the emails released by Wiileaks show that it was an inside job, not hack from overseas somewhere.  And now the former imterim chair of the DNC admits the primaries were rigged even before Hillary announced her candidacy.

But excuses and denials are made for the corporate elitists who actually run the Democratic Party,  while those who support the establishment status quo continue with their ad hominem attacks, their gaslighting and their outrageous lies.

And that's a crying shame.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Obama's Real Legacy

A few months ago, a pastor wrote an op-ed critical of people who claimed embarrassment over having had Barack Obama as President for 8 years.  He reminded his readers that Obama was the most genteel President of, oh, let's say the past 50 years or so at least.  The way he presented himself in public, clearly loved his family, and refused to lower himself to the level of his detractors is, in my view, the stuff of legend in this day and age.  You can read it here if you wish:

Pastor: When White Folks Say Obama Was an “Embarrassment”, Here’s Your Response

The pastor nails the coffin shut on the idea that people were embarrassed by this man when he changes tone and states unequivocally that they were not embarrassed at all, that they felt threatened by his skin coloration.  He did this by comparing their supposed embarrassment to their total acceptance of the racist, misogynistic, thoroughly narcissistic and politically incompetent Donald Trump.  In my view that's true, as demonstrated by the vitriol that was and still is hurled Obama's way, much of it of a blatantly racist nature.  Those who refer to him, his wife, and/or his children as monkeys, gorillas, watermelon eaters (I never understood that one even when my deceased uncle would say it), and so on, are demonstrating their own racism, no matter how much they deny it.

As for me, I was disappointed in Trump's election at least as much as I was in Obama's emergent corporatism. 

I voted for Obama in 2008, based on his demeanor and his message of hope and change.  I was delighted when, in his first month in office, he smiled broadly as he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.  I was ecstatic when he bailed out the auto industry with a requirement that all money lent to a company had to be paid back before execs could be given their exorbitant bonuses. And I cheered with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which was touted as making health care, as the title says, affordable. 

When I became disabled, I discovered that those who spoke against the ACA were largely correct.  It made basic health care affordable for many people, and it helped those who were previously priced out of the insurance marketplace get insurance.  But the cost was a continuation, even an exacerbation, of the high deductibles and co-pays associated with the insurance industry for many years. This rendered people still unable to afford care they needed, contrary to the propaganda supporting the Act.

One might ask why this would be so.  The answer is simple.  The Act was written largely by the insurance and hospital industries to benefit themselves, not We the People.  And President Obama signed off on it, again with a smile on his face. 

Obama spent far too long seeking compromise with the Republicans in Congress, in spite of their proclamation that they would make sure he only served one term in office.  They failed in that goal, obviously; but they kept right on blocking his actions.

Finally we get to the capper of President Obama's time in office.  The season ender, you might say.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, described by many as NAFTA on steroids.  You might recall that after NAFTA passed, many American jobs were shipped overseas, to places where pay and environmental policies took a clear and distinct back seat to the needs of the people.  And Obama defended that treaty as an improvement of trade policy. 

Then there's the icing on the cake, so to speak.  Yes, many new jobs were created under Obama's administration.  He did prevent another Great Depression form being birthed out of the Great Recession that G.W. Bush's economic policies led us to.  But the pay levels of those jobs were not even close to in line with the ones that we lost during the downturn and before.  You know the ones.  The manufacturing jobs that are now being done by underpaid and overworked peons in China, India and Mexico.

That is President Obama's real legacy.  Not that he was the first black President, but what he did while in the office.

But that pastor is still right about those deluded folks who claim to be embarrassed by Obama's 8 years in office.  They are bigots, and many of them don't even recognize that as a fact.

© 2017 by Don Rice Jr.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Private Charity vs. Government Assistance

In the Christian Bible, Jesus said we are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and take care of our fellow humans. He also said it’s not our business why they have no food or clothes.  His instruction is to help alleviate the suffering of others, without passing judgment on the person needing help.

Now, I'm not Christian, nor do I belong to any religious organization.  That being said, I've read the Bible cover to cover several times.  I've cross-references several issues within its text. I've seen the contradictions within the text as well as in people's attitudes and actions.  And I've seen the mistranslations, some accidental, others seeming intentional, as with, for example, the Old Testament passage that "men should not suffer a witch to live".  As a result, I do not and cannot believe the Bible is infallible.

Based on my own study and learning, I've discovered that the Christ teachings within it (seen best in the red-letter editions) come the closest to my natural inclinations.  They are humane almost to a fault, like the passage I paraphrased from the portion of the Sermon on the Mount called the Beatitudes.  These are the first 12 verses of the Book of Matthew, Chapter 5.

Conservatives, by and large, often tell me that yes, those are good ideals to live by, but they are the choice of the individual, and that they were never meant to be implemented or enforced by government. They tell me that when governments do these things, it's theft from the people who earned the money (taxation) given to lazy people (redistribution).  As has been noted elsewhere in passing during this discussion, they also believe and say that charitable giving should cover the needs of the poor and down-trodden.

Taking the last view first, as many people as there are who need assistance, relying solely on charitable contributions is problematic at best, simply because charities are unable to cover very much of the real need.  I've hear conservatives say that if they didn't have to pay so much in taxes, they would be able to give more to charities. 

But there are two major problems I see with that.  One is that giving to charities is a choice, not only in how much to give, but also in which charities to give to.  And two, such a solution is really not viable, because it still would not be enough to cover the needs of the people who would be forced to rely on those charities.

Then there is the fact that many wealthy people, as well as corporations, give to charities for no other reason than to get a tax deduction.  In reality, they couldn't care less whether people in need got help or not.

Now here's the crux of the matter.

Governments are and should be a reflection of the highest aspirations of the people of a nation.  If assisting those in need is a matter for individuals, as conservatives correctly state, then it should also be a matter for governments as representatives of those highest ideals of the people.  Therefore, the ideals of the Beatitudes, regardless of ones' religion or lack thereof, should be considered within the bounds of government actions, and a necessary and perhaps over-riding part of governmental operations. 

To insist that government not be involved in expressing our highest ideals is tantamount to admitting our own hypocrisy.


© 2017 by Don Rice Jr.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Real Debate or Echo Chamber?

Well, it's getting hot in here.  I've been booted from my second FB group.  This is the second time for this group.  It's called the "No BS Forum".  But it's loaded with BS.  (The other group is called "The Commons", and apparently takes pride in being an echo chamber.)

Allow me to explain.  Everyone who follows me or has friended me here, especially those who know me in real life, knows that I don't follow any particular political party.  This gives me the freedom to call out BS when and where I see it.  It doesn't matter to me if it's Democrats or Republicans, I call it out.  I've even written blogs and other posts critical of the Libertarian Party; they're not a major player, but they're trying to be.  And perhaps they had a hand too, a small one, in getting Trump elected.

Now on to the matter at hand.  I've been posting a variety of things in the so-called "No BS Forum", covering corruption of both major parties and individuals within those parties.  A few weeks ago, the owner of the group, one Gary Gambino, stated in comments that he did not want an echo chamber.  Another member, a hard-core supporter of Hillary Clinton named John Fotia, responded that there was something to be said for echo chambers. 

Fotia, Victoria Cash, and others have refused repeatedly to engage in civil discussion.  They call my posts fake news, even when shown proof from other sources that it's not fake.  Fotia even called Alternet, a mainstay of the left, a questionable source.  Why?  Because the article he was responding to detailed the corruption of the DNC, specifically Clinton and Shultz.  He's done the same with other progressive sources, ones that are rated highest on the media bias checking website, , for the same reason.

Perhaps a week after that, I was booted from the group.  A day later, through the intervention of a good friend, Kris Haynes, I was reinstated. 

Today I was attempting to be civil and engage in discussion, as I usually am, but the people there don't want discussion, especially if it's about Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wassermann-Shultz or Donna Brazile, the ringleaders of the corruption within the Democratic Party.  Instead, they attacked me and my posts with ad hominems and deflections to things that are totally irrelevant to the topic of the post.  And out of nowhere, I'm banned again.   Not only that, Gary, the group owner, blocked me from PM'ing him to ask why.

But I'd lay odds that not one of those actually engaging in these attacks has been treated the same, or even given a warning.

So.  I'm posting this blog in the two other groups Gary owns.  I fully expect it to be deleted and for me to be booted from those groups as well.  And that's okay.  Because now I know that Gambino has no interest in open debate of issues.  He wants echo chambers all around.  He's proven it by kicking me out of the so-called "No BS Forum".  Twice.  And he's not even man enough to take a PM asking for an explanation of his actions.

Here's a kick in the pants for anyone who is able to think for themselves.  My posts, as I've said, have been called fake news, bogus sources, and other things along those lines, in spite of the verifiable facts and truth they contain.  However, I live and write by a single axiom.  It's been stated clearly in three distinct ways.

First, by Mohandas Gandhi: "The friend you must cultivate is that part of your enemy that knows the truth."

Second, by Malcolm X: "I am for Truth, no matter who speaks it."

And third, by my Teacher, Dr. David M. Berry:  "Truth is Truth, even out of a liar's mouth."

No, I'm not mad.  I'm actually happy.  I learned a valuable lesson that I should have learned long ago.  Something about casting pearls.  It's in the Christian Bible, if you want to look it up.  But I'm through with this nonsense. 

I hope Gary Gambino and the other residents of his total BS echo chamber have a nice life as the Democratic Party self-destructs by staying with corporate sycophants as their chosen candidates instead of real progressives. 

I am, and I shall remain, a proud independent, thinking for myself rather than letting the Establishment do it for me. 


© 2017 by Don Rice Jr.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Analyzing the "intelligence" summary

So here's the declassified summary of the "report" released by DHS in January:

Following the Links From Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election

Let's break it down, shall we?

Items 1 - 6 are so much "he said, she said" statements with no evidence to back them up:

1. Officials *believed* hackers were associated with Russian intel agencies.

2. A hacking group *possibly* linked to the agency...

3. Investigators *believe* that the G.R.U., or a hacking group known as Fancy Bear or A.P.T. 28...

4. A self-proclaimed hacker that investigators *say* was a “persona” created by the G.R.U.

5. Investigators *say* it is a front for the Russian hackers...

6. The report released on Jan. 6 *said* that intelligence officials “assess with high confidence..."

Now, from item 7 onward, we have a lot of actions being taken and discussed based on the above "he said, she said" statements:

7. Dozens of newspapers, television stations, bloggers and radio stations around the United States... pursued reporting based on the hacked material, significantly increasing the effects of the cyberattack.

8. Note the disclaimer on the DHS website "report":
"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) *does not provide any warranties of any kind* regarding any information sontained within."

9 - 11: Minimal detail about the effects on the election, with no reference to the veracity or lack thereof of the emails leaked.  Those ieffects included the forced resignation of DWS. 

Conclusion based on available facts, without the innuendoes and suppositions inherent in this kind of bogus reporting:

If the emails are not so bad, like the Establishment actors and supporters claim, then release the original emails to point out where the analysts are wrong.  But they haven't done that, and I predict they won't do that.  Why?  Because the emails have electronic validation markers added by email software that verify authenticity.  Those markers, I would wager, would also verify that those who are critical of the DNC are right to be so.

Further, there would have been no reason for Shultz to resign.

Critical reading and thinking, combined with knowledge of words and language, are wonderful tools only if one bothers to use them.


© 2017 by Don Rice Jr.