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So…

Now that all of the country has had a chance to see what a monumentally stupid idea it is to arm teachers, thereby filling the pockets of the gun manufacturers of America without any possibility that even one child’s life will be saved and many more may be lost, can we get back to common sense restrictions on the mentally ill obtaining assault weapons?

I’m not wasting any more bandwidth on the “hardened schools” concept. And anyone who is running a social media site should be on the lookout for trolls, domestic or foreign, who want to reintroduce the idea. Time to get out your hobnailed boots and squash the MFers. It looks like Twitter is taking this seriously. If you’ve lost a lot of followers lately, it could be because they’re located in St. Petersburg.

They post in droves, usually from the same network domain. If you ban one IP address, they’ll jump to another in the same domain. Sometimes, they’ll use several network domains at once. An attack can last a couple of hours. To terminate them, truncate the last segment of the address and put them in your banned address settings list. That will eliminate any further postings from the domain. You won’t have to squash every troll posting because you would have stopped them at the network domain level.

Heads up to the trolls: I have been collecting all your IP addresses since 2008. I even know some of the company domains and universities you were posting from. Oh, yes, did you think the Obots didn’t use this same technique? Of course they did. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they got help from some Republicans or financiers. The attacks had that certain “Smartest Guys in the Room” je ne sais quoi at the time, as if they were getting one over on the old knitting grannies. (I assure you, I’m not anything like an old knitting granny).

It worked the same way as the overconfident Russian trolls. Of course, their English was better and they were more psychologically savvy because they were Americans. But it worked exactly the same way, network domain jumping and all.

Have a nice day.

Arming kindergarten teachers, this was the best he could do?? #neveragain

I listened to the listening session on the way home last night. I have some concerns about how the guests were chosen. Some seemed very pro-NRA in spite of losing their children. But never mind that for now.

So, Trump proposes arming teachers and training them so that they can stop deranged shooters Matrix style. Let’s just review a few very good reasons why this is a hugely stupid idea. No, Trumpers, don’t even. If you don’t see how dumb this idea is, then your opinion here is just wasting everybody’s time. Don’t even start. I have no patience for it today. “Let facts be submitted to a candid world”:

  1. Teachers are self selected. Some of you may not know this but I was an elected member of my township’s board of ed back in the 90s. I’ve met a lot of teachers and sat in on union contract negotiations and referendum for new high schools and curriculum committee meetings. This is not to toot my own horn but just to say that my experience with the educational establishment is not superficial. Teachers, for the most part, go into the profession because they have a calling to serve the interests of children. Oh, sure, every now and then you’ll find some who really don’t belong in the classroom but for the most part, there is a kind of altruism that goes along with teaching. That sense of altruism, caring and service does not usually include violence of any kind.
  2. Teachers are not human shields. Many teachers will sacrifice themselves to save their charges but teachers are not police officers, soldiers or security guards. They’re teachers. Since when has it been our expectation that teachers will voluntarily take on a shooter and put their own lives in danger? This should be seen as a workplace safety issue and if I were the unions, I’d take it up with OSHA and the NLRB. So, you know, arming them and training them because we deliberately make their workplaces hazardous is a non-starter. Telling teachers to suck it up and pack heat when they go to work is unacceptable. None of us should be expected to tolerate it or put our lives at risk at work unless we’re astronauts.
  3. Who is going to pay for it? Oklahoma is so cash strapped from their experiment with tax cuts on steroids that schools are operating at only 4 days per week. There are so many school districts in NJ that the addition of training and security guards and metal detectors is going to quickly put a strain on the budget and other things will have to be sacrificed. Property taxes will soar and angry residents will show up at school board meetings attacking the very teachers they expect to protect their children. So, economically, it makes no sense.
  4. Who will pay for teachers’ combat pay? I mean, seriously, if you’re going to ask teachers to actively defend themselves and students, putting themselves in harm’s way, your union would be stupid to not demand extra pay, extra life insurance, disability insurance (no more GoFundMe’s), medical benefits. And who could blame them? They’re going into a war zone.
  5. It’s dangerous. You are asking people who are fundamentally opposed to violence to use a gun in an emergency situation when there’s chaos, confusion, screaming, and probably no clear idea where the bullets are coming from at first. So, these teachers are going to be expected to identify the shooter, aim accurately while potentially being fired upon, and not inadvertently shoot students who are running around looking for cover. We are expecting perfectly inelastic collisions with the bullet. It will not ricochet or pass through desks or doors or walls or windows. And these teachers will need to have the presence of mind to do all of this in seconds, concentrating on taking the shooter out while their students are looking for safety and clear directions.

If you don’t see yet how insane this all is, then your mind has been completely taken over by the NRA.

And who benefits from arming teachers to the teeth? I can only see one beneficiary. It’s the NRA who represents gun manufacturers. Giving teachers gun and training them only results in an escalation of the arms race where the gun manufacturers are guaranteed to make a ton of money.

I doubt that even one child will be saved by this. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we lost a lot of teachers who don’t think their altruism is worth their lives.

You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to take this proposal to its logical conclusion. You just need to do a thought experiment.

Another thought experiment might go like this:

Question: Who is doing the shooting in schools?

Answer: mentally and emotionally disturbed young men with assault weapons.

Does the idea arming teachers and hiring security guards address ANY of those parameters? No. It does not.

What would?

What would happen if we required background checks to prevent mentally and emotionally disturbed people from buying guns? What if we authorized the local police to commit a mentally or emotionally disturbed person for 72 hours for observation and to confiscate their guns? What if we prevented people under the age of 21 from buying certain kinds of guns? What if we banned assault style weapons that really have no useful purpose in a free society? What if we required gun shows to follow the same regulations as any other gun dealer?

Will it solve all of our gun problems? No. Will these common sense proposals violate the second amendment? No. Will it save lives and let children be children and teachers be teachers? I’m betting it would.

Let’s get real, people. Surely, Donald Trump could have come up with a better plan than turning our schools into the prison season of the Walking Dead. And if he can’t, then what the f^ck is he doing being president? For that matter, the whole GOP seems to be compromised with stupidity. There’s only one last resort to getting our point across that 2/3 of the American electorate want more controls on the access to guns: vote them out.

November is Coming.

**********************************

Wait. What??

The PA Supreme Court approved a new district map yesterday. It was designed by an independent expert at Stanford. For the southeast part of the state, it looks cleaner and less convoluted by large swaths of rural farmland creeping into Philly suburbs. Also, Harrisburg and Hershey are in a new district together, which should make it more difficult for the gun toting mouth breathers in York county to dominate.

All cool and groovy. Everybody’s happy.

Wait, what’s this? Mike Doyle’s district has been redrawn? Let’s zoom in for a closer look.

Zoom, ZOOM, ZOOM!!!

I’m now in a Republican district? Nooooo!!!

See that area circled in red? That used to be part of Mike Doyle’s district, the area in purple. Now, it belongs to the area in yellow that went heavily for Trump in 2016. My suburb is middle class/working class and diverse. It’s solidly Democrat. So, we’ve essentially been saddled with a Republican congressman unless we can turn this district blue this fall. It’s not impossible. With my suburb in the mix, it could happen. It’s just not the same as being in the warm fuzzy embrace of Doyle’s district.

The GOOD news is that Conor Lamb, who lives in Mt. Lebanon, could end up as my congressman. Woooot!!

I see so much canvassing in my future this fall.

🤗

Help turn PA 17 blue.

********************************

My representative next year will be Tom Marino, a hard right Republican who seems to be a steadfast opponent to choice and reproductive rights.

He’s got to go.

*********************************

David Graham in The Atlantic writes that we don’t want to scare anyone unnecessarily so let’s just not talk about election meddling and the legitimacy of Trump’s president.

I couldn’t disagree more.

If anything, we should have a truth and reconciliation commission after this is over so we understand how the system was messed with. And I am not ruling out that the actual results were tampered with. It’s a possibility that we have to keep open until we are certain they were not. Color me not convinced yet. Yes, it might undermine the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s presidency. Yes, it might make us look like Kenya. But sweeping it under the rug is a sure fired way for the inattentive American electorate to stop paying attention to elections again.

Pundits have to stop saying that we don’t know whether the Russian Troll Farm had an effect on the election. Intuition says it did. The question remains, how do we measure it? I’ll leave it to the analysts at Harvard to figure that out. But in the meantime, I would remind people of the Daou Triangle. This was an idea that Peter Daou proposed back in 2006 when the left blogosphere was getting crushed by red state blogs whose messages were consistently being picked up by the media and amplified.

We know how this system works. Of COURSE, it had an impact.

We’ve got to take it seriously. We have nukes. We owe it to the world to fix this problem even if we have to air our dirty laundry and look like half the country are gullible marks for cleverly evil people.

Get it all out there. Resist covering it up. Fix it before it breaks again.

***************************

I’m listening to MSNBC and CNN (not watching it) and the gloves are off. That presser with Sarah Sanders yesterday was the last straw. The level of lying, lying for no reason to lie, and the inept response to Mueller indictments and the gun issue, are unacceptable.

CNN is calling them out with the “OMG, do we look STUPID to you?” talk while MSNBC is less breathless, more analytical and very snarky.

I prefer MSNBC. It has better guests and a lot fewer pie fights.

But whatever frosts your Crockies. The media seems like it’s had enough and will not be playing the part of “stooge” in the program anymore.

Bring it on.

Begin at the beginning…

I keep running into people who are “confused” by this whole Russia thing and don’t know what it’s all about.

I’m also getting this interesting knee jerk reaction: you’re right, Republicans are bad, but Democrats aren’t any better. That’s dangerous thinking right now because people who track How Democracies Die and the rise of autocracies will tell you that the Republican Party is in a class by itself now. It is not useful to compare Republicans to Democrats at this point in time. One party is still playing mostly by the rules and trying hard to abide by the Constitution and the other party clearly isn’t.

So why is it that some of us can see it and aren’t confused, even some Republicans like Norm Ornstein, Jennifer Rubin, John Dean, George Will, Bill Kristol, and some of us can’t?

I’m going to throw this out there and Lady V can correct me if I’m wrong but I think it has to do with some kind of self knowledge. People who can resist the pull of undue influence on them just have a more integrated sense of who they are and what they stand for.

Does that make them better or worse than others? I guess that would depend on the planet you’re from or want to live in.

And maybe the planet you want to live in has something to do with the people who are influencing you.

When I was growing up in a high control religion, I was told that paradise, a New World, was going to be like living in a lush green valley full of fruit trees where lions and children would play with each other and a diverse group of people in native dress would be on an endless picnic, passing plates of fruits and vegetables to each other. In other scenes in my orange bible book, they would be standing next to each other, never actually looking AT each other, but staring into some brilliant light in the distance with smiling faces full of devotion.

Now I look at those images and am astonished at how closely they resemble North Korean propaganda posters.

Yes, yes, what I really want to do is spend eternity with a bunch of sexless vegetarians, wearing skirts and dresses forever and maintaining strict gender roles, obedience and submission while sister Edna and sister Carol talked endlessly about the day when they discovered The Truth. What 12 year old girl wouldn’t want that? What they didn’t tell you up front was to get to paradise, god was going to have to destroy billions of men, women and children and the lucky few would be the cleanup crew before entering this blissful New World.

What is my point?

Don’t let yourself be talked into someone else’s idea of paradise unless you know you’re not going to end up on the cleaning crew? That happiness in life derives from resistance to the ends justifies the means mentality? That struggle and triumph against evil is more satisfying than elimination of it? That people who try to confuse you are not on your side? Know yourself and your limitations? Discover what you believe and stick to your core values? That sometimes it’s better to be secure in yourself and unpopular than just like everybody else in a crowd of like minded people? That trustworthy people don’t manipulate you into staying when you want to leave?

You decide.

I’ll leave you with this handy table for today. It shows the scale of influence. Ideally, you want to be on the left side. Be skeptical and wary of any individual or organization that pulls you to the right.

***********************************

Speak of the Devil. This is one of Trump’s tweets this morning:

Hmmm…

I’ve been reading Steven Hassan’s Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs about how to resist undue influence. Here’s an interesting bit you might find relevant to this tweet:

I’ve suspected for awhile that the “tax cut” was going to be used to pacify the masses into sticking with the benevolent autocracy. You owe them. And it’s only good for this election year. After 2018, the tax cuts to individuals will decrease until they are gone by 2023. But the cuts to corporations are going to live forever. Maybe even in their own paradise earth.

Astroturf and self-censorship

Tweet of the Week:

AstroTurf- Manufactured grassroots activism and commentary.

That’s what happened when the Russian troll farm, Internet Research Agency LLC (the LLC is a nice American touch), spewed thousands and thousands of messages every day on social media about what an old, sick, unexciting, criminal Hillary Clinton was and how Trump was so inspiring, forceful and displayed leadership abilities.

That’s how it works. The public got a constant, steady message about how unappealing Hillary was. Even today, 14 months after she lost, you will still get this reaction from your otherwise nice and lucid relatives who watch Fox News:

It’s awesome to watch. One minute they’re talking about some football game all nice and calm. Then all you have to say is “Hillary”, and they explode into fits of rage that she’s not behind bars for what she did with her email server. Literally nothing Trump has ever done is equal to it. No matter how much you point out that nothing she did was illegal, that the handful of classified materials were classified *after* she sent them and that we are talking about her personal emails, not her work emails, they still think she’s hiding something. And you know what? It will be almost impossible to convince them otherwise because you can’t prove you didn’t do something if there’s no evidence. Short of following her into the bathroom where she should have some privacy, she has revealed more about herself than any presidential candidate or American citizen in HISTORY. And it still won’t be enough.

The name for this phenomenon is “reflexive control”. It might be helpful at this point to reread Steve Hassan’s BITE model. And the way people make decisions as elaborated by Amos Tversky (False equivalence is close but doesn’t completely explain how it works)

I have friends who are now a little embarrassed that they voted for a loser in spite of the fact that she won 3.5 MILLION more votes after all that negativity. They tell me she would have won if she’d just kissed white working class asses a little more. They do not realize how they too have become unwitting repeaters of very sophisticated propaganda.

That’s how effective AstroTurf is. It didn’t help that virtually every news person repeated these lies and narratives until they started to sound true. The question I have is how many of them knew what they were doing and how many were unwitting?

It hasn’t ended. The narrative that stuck after the election is that if she hadn’t blown off Michigan and Wisconsin, she might have won. This completely distorts the reality of the electoral college. Neither state’s electoral votes combined could make up for losing PA. I had some indignant tweeter insist to me the other day that Hillary blew off Pennsylvania and then I knew it had gone too far because I campaigned for her in PA and she was in this state constantly.

We keep coming back to Pennsylvania. I’m waiting for Robert Mueller to drop more shoes. He’s got to tell this story slowly, let the American people ingest it and understand each chapter a little at a time because rolling it out all at once will seem too unbelievable and outrageous to be true. Pulling people out of the jaws of deception and undue influence is a very tricky and delicate operation. Some individuals will never be free. Their susceptibility to reflexive control is hardwired. Others just had to have the right incentives pitched to them, the monsters in the dark corners of their minds unleashed. Insecurity, fear, resentment, racism, sexism, selfishness. The Russians knew exactly which buttons to push.

I can’t wait until it is revealed how Cambridge Analytica data mined the Trump campaign’s marks, their church habits, what kind of clothes they wore, where they lived, how they spent their money, how much they watch reality TV, all plopped into some clever model that predicted just how labile their personal values were. Does the car they drive indicate a desire to impress? An Audi says one thing, a Lexus something different. Are they pre-occupied with the image they show to the world? How many times a year do they have pedicures? Oh, the things we will learn about ourselves.

Slowly, slowly.

“Let all the worms that lie in the mud hatch out”

**********************************

Prediction: there will be renewed calls for crackdowns on social media, maybe even a measure of censorship. Because how else will we be able to protect ourselves from this happening again?? We have an election this fall. We need to do something NOW, NOW, NOW!

And that’s when the Russians will have truly won. The minute we self censor to protect ourselves from others is the minute we give up our ability to protest our grievances. Then the dark era really sets in. Game, set, match.

What we need to do is educate ourselves to what is going on and recognize it when we see it so we can blow it away from us. It can be done. Just ask any kid brought up in a high control group religion who didn’t become a member as adults. We have radar for this kind of stuff. I can feel it when someone is trying to manipulate me to think things that don’t match my personal value system. It’s like someone hurling photon torpedoes at my brain. I have to deploy my deflector shields. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t listen to NPR anymore or watch cable news or network news on TV. It’s especially important to not WATCH the news. These days, I read multiple domestic and foreign news sources and listen to podcasts. So far, so good.

Also, we need Net Neutrality rules back in place ASAP. I don’t want the telecoms or cable companies owing any favors to this president this fall.

Talitha Cumi

Emma Gonzales: