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    • The Role of Character and Ideology in Prosperity
      I want to take readers through some of my previous writing on ideology and character, and how they help form the societies we live in.  Taking the time to read these articles (a short book’s worth), should vastly improve your understanding of the world and the articles to come. It should be worth your time [...]
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Lest you think I am exaggerating…

… about how dangerous undue influence can be, check out Confederate Pam’s twitter feed. When I first saw her tweets popping up at #freebree, I thought she must be a troll or something. Her stuff is so over the top it’s a wonder she hasn’t been banned by Twitter for hate speech. But it looks like she is the real thing. She hates African Americans, healthcare and gay people. And she’s got a special place in her, well, let’s not call it a heart, for liberals.

She could be one of my sister’s friends.

Oh, and she seems to watch an awful lot of Fox News. Hmmm…

I’m sure there’s no correlation. Butcha know, you are who you hang out with.

Just sayin’.

The Duggars, the Puritans and the Quakers

Thanks for your indulgence on my absence for awhile. I’m still trying to work my way out of perpetual underemployment. My contract was extended for a bit and I’m in the midst of  intense learning curve type program activities. So, I’ve been a bit disconnected from the news and politics.

BUT, did I hear this right that the Duggars are going to Fox in order to try to salvage their tarnished reputation? I should make it clear that I don’t think that Josh Duggar is a unreformed pedophile. The fact that some of us think this is the result of Fox News promulgating a culture of fear, uncertainty, dread and pedophiles around every corner. That’s why you have mothers walking their sixth graders to the bus stops and hanging around attempting to make awkward connections with their neighbors. (Can you really trust these people if you haven’t background checked them?)

In any case, live by the sword, die by the sword. That’s what’s happening to the Duggars.

However, it didn’t have to be this way if the Duggars were more aware of American history. I’m currently reading Albion’s Seed about four English folkways and their impact on American culture. Highly recommended, by the way. A good 5 sponge read if you have some deep cleaning to do. The Duggars could have learned a lot from the Puritans and the Quakers and how they ran their families. Let’s look at the Puritans first.

The Puritans were fanatics about personal responsibility and Calvinism and being born sinful and all that stuff that the Duggars are always pushing on their poor kids. They also had LARGE families. The average family size for Puritans in New England was over 9 kids/family. Huge. Lots of little “blessings”. Well, sinfully, naturally bad blessings who needed discipline. But here’s the thing about the Puritans. They had a tradition of “sending out” their kids to other families to be fostered. They did this for several reasons. Sometimes it was so a boy could get an education or be apprenticed. But what about the girls? What could possibly be the benefit of sending a girl out to learn domestic crafts?

Some historians believe they did this when the kids hit puberty because they wanted to minimize the likelihood of incest between siblings. And that theory makes sense. The setting for these families was semi-rural, there were lots of kids jammed into small salt box houses, for long winter nights. Things happen. So, they sent their children to other families.

Now, that wouldn’t work for the Duggars because then their daughters would be exposed to unrelated males in the same house and things might happen there too. Yes, but it wouldn’t be incest.

Another English folkway inspired the Quakers of the Delaware Valley. They were not as violent as the Puritans and didn’t believe that children were unrepentant sinners from the moment they were born. They were quite kind to their children and raised them in an almost Montessori way. Don’t get me wrong, Quakers could be harsh towards friends who were lusty but they were kind towards children. And maybe that’s because they didn’t have a lot of them. Yep, Quakers were the Americans who were most into birth control. As a result, their family sizes were much smaller than the Puritans and they had no need to send any of their kids out when they hit puberty.

So, there ya’ go, Jim Bob and Michelle. Incest problem solved.

Gotta go. Tomorrow, how to take a BITE out of undue influence.

Go there, Digby.

You are very close. All you need is the F word to put it all together and add a dash of second amendment.

That ought to keep you up at night.

Fox News viewers are perfectly OK with being lied to; they really just hate non-conservatives

In the morning, he’ll be talking in word salads and punching the unemployed.

That’s really what this comes down to.

According to Gawker, Fox News doesn’t feel it needs to defend Bill O’Reilly anymore:

Update, 5:40 p.m.: Two hours after this post was published, Fox provided the following statement to Mediaite (without addressing the substance of the Media Matters report):

Bill O’Reilly has already addressed several claims leveled against him. This is nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates Mother Jones and Media Matters. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility. FOX News maintains its staunch support of O’Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.

Bill has addressed the lies about the Falklands, although there are new lies now about his involvement in the JFK assassination conspiracy. Plus, he claims he witnessed nuns being executed in El Salvador when records show he wasn’t even in the country at the time the events happened.

It’s more important to fling poo at those institutions that are trying to keep Bill O’Reilly honest than to force Bill O’Reilly to actually be honest.

But no matter. I never expected Fox would censure O’Reilly in the same way that NBC disciplined Brian Williams. Part of this is because NBC still clings tenaciously to the concept of being a news organization while Fox News does not.

Come to think of it, wasn’t it Fox News that won a Supreme Court victory several years back that made it Ok for it to lie? Yeah, it was something like, it doesn’t have to tell the truth. There’s nothing in the constitution that says that a media outlet that purports to report the news has to do so honestly or something to that effect. They all might lie but Fox News takes pride in being audaciously dishonest and getting away with it. It’s that audacity to flout the rules, while demanding everyone else adhere to some purity test, that I suspect is the real attraction for the Fox News viewer. It’s the thrill of making everyone else march to Fox’s drummer.

So, it doesn’t really matter what you throw at Bill O’Reilly, Fox is going to stand by him and they’ll pretend that they have addressed all of the accusations adequately and it’s only the left wing media and enemies that are going for Bill.

But it would be wrong to assume that it’s only MMFA or some radical Decembrist faction of a commie left that wants to bring down Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. Hey, I didn’t vote for Obama-twice! I have been called a racist for not sticking with my tribe when what *I* saw in 2008 was an inexperienced but ruthlessly ambitious opportunist hired to carry out the wishes of the financial services industry that was about to lose its shirt in the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s. My objection to Obama is he is really a country club moderately conservative Republican and he’s governed like one. So, how does the Fox News conditioned viewer handle people like me? I’ve seen the confusion in their eyes when they try to reconcile what they’ve been told with the fact that I am standing there saying I am a liberal who loathes Obama for purely non-racial reasons. It’s like watching Fembots about to explode. They can’t quite grasp it.

(Now that I think of it, I’ve seen some lefties have the same reaction. There’s a nugget of a problem there that the left has not accepted about its own side.)

No, the fighters against Fox extend beyond the usual suspects. It includes anyone who has to sit with brain dead relatives at dinner who have become mean spirited, crotchety, vile, bigots robotically spitting ultra-conservative nonsense in a garbled illogical word salad. Those people go out and vote, because they’re angry, and they don’t sound like they know what they’re supposed to be angry about. Nothing they say makes any damn sense. And it’s very difficult to want to be around them because they behave as if they’ve had a lobotomy. You can’t construct a logical argument with people who have had conditioned responses and thought-stopping reactions to anything you say. Seriously, they can contradict themselves several times in the same sentence and never even realize it. They are operating in pure fearful, emotional, enraged mode, thinking there is a child molester behind the potted plants and that the Muslims are going to kill them in their beds while they unknowingly support the most regressive economic theories the conservative right has to offer because God, or something.

The John Birch Society ain’t got nothing on Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. John Birch was fringe until Fox came along. And Bill has a single talent. He is extremely effective at turning perfectly ordinary people into obnoxious right wing Archie Bunker types who actively celebrate their willful ignorance and call themselves holy. That is a gift to the ultra wealthy. The rich and powerful will fight tooth and nail to protect Bill O’Reilly. He is their golden goose. His distortions and ability to provoke irrational anger keeps his audience in a state of poised suspension, ready to hurl themselves like zombies at the first fresh brains O’Reilly shakes in front of them. As informed citizens, they’re useless to the rest of us and, in most cases, actively harm their families and friends by their inability to see when they’ve been flimflammed. It’s pure gold to the small evil group that runs the world and to whom no one we know belongs.

The true Fox News watcher will joyfully accept their role as a minion to the corrupt. They will tell you that there is nothing you can do to change a corrupt system except pray for the second coming. How this justifies joining the army of corruption, I’ll never understand, unless it is to bask in the glory of being on the side of the powerful, especially those corrupt powerful who masquerade as godly. It sort of reminds me of the people who are flocking to the middle east to join ISIS. We all know ISIS is brutal, totalitarian and mindless but some people are attracted to that. Fox News only beheads people metaphorically. Its enemies still suffer the same fate, and the meanness, misogyny and cruelty is still there, but there’s less blood.

Oh sure, things were different when the typical Fox News view was younger. People were more helpful, there was a real sense of community, labor was stronger and public education was better and well funded. But they seem incapable of figuring out how we got to this place where we have gone back to the economic conditions that lead to the Great Depression. They do not see the role of Fox News in the process.

And that’s just the way Fox likes it. So, no need to draw further attention to itself. Defending Bill is just going to make it look like it needs to defend Bill and that’s not the kind of face Fox wants to present to the world. That shows a sense of vulnerability. The Fox News viewer doesn’t want to feel vulnerable. Fox wants to look impregnable, a mighty fortress against the commie left even if it’s more like a prison for the gullible.

Ok, we all know it. There are things we can not change in this world. So we must continually chant the serenity prayer as we watch Fox, and media like it, tear the fabric of our country apart. There’s nothing we can do about Fox News and it’s ability to lie, distort, mislead and destroy. We can only wait until the vulnerable reduce in numbers and the younger, less religiously motivated internet era demographic matures. Fox News will just become another niche channel for the unhinged. Then we will start the long, hard slog to recovery, reversing all the crap it has flung at us.

Blarney Bill O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly lies about his war stories, just like Brian Williams. Actually, he’s worse than Williams because CBS has footage of what happened and who was there and Bill O’Reilly was no hero.

Butcha know, the people who watch Bill O’Reilly aren’t interested in the truth. They are interested in being flattered by a tall guy who went to Harvard. He’s the church lady’s crush. She will stand by her man no matter what he does or how much he lies. He’s the authority figure they crave even while they protest too much that they don’t need a man.

At least now, we can dispense with the pretense that he’s journalist with any kind of integrity. This is a shock to no one. Fox News is going to rally around his flag. He won’t get disciplined or fired. No, that’s for the liberal media that’s trying to take him down. Fox News operates under a different set of standards. And that’s fine as long as everyone is in on the joke.

Mitch McConnell opens his kimono

Sorry about that image so early in the morning. Let me pass you some brain bleach.

What I am referring to is the peek at the Republican agenda that McConnell revealed yesterday. Let’s take a look, shall we? This bit is from the Washington Post:

“You know, I think the gridlock is going to end,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said in an interview Wednesday. “Senator McConnell knows how to make the Senate work and I think he’ll make us a bigger party, a better party, by . . . crafting bipartisan legislation.”

No, Rand, the gridlock is going to end because Republicans no longer have any reason to say “NO, Non, Nein!” to absolutely everything proposed by the other side of the aisle.  Republicans had their chance to craft bipartisan legislation for 6 straight years. In fact, every day of the last 3 congressional sessions was a new day for Republicans to wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “It’s a new day.  There are millions of Americans in dire straits waiting for us to help them recover from the financial mess of 2008.  I’m going to do something different today!  I’m going to propose bipartisan legislation.” That’s certainly what all of the media pundits are going to pressure the Democrats to do. But Republicans did not set this example for the past six years. Nope, not a one of them. Instead, they shutdown the government precisely to avoid bipartisan legislation. So, Rand is lying. I know because his mouth is moving.

The New York Times reveals a little more:

HEALTH CARE It is a delicate topic, but top Republicans acknowledge they cannot repeal the Affordable Care Act, particularly with Mr. Obama able to veto any such effort. They will no doubt take some repeal votes, but their initial focus could be on smaller changes.

For instance, a medical device tax used to pay for the law is opposed by lawmakers from both parties who represent manufacturers, and a repeal of the tax could pass Congress. And another group of Republicans and Democrats has also called for returning the health law’s definition of full-time work to 40 hours from 30, arguing that the lower limit is forcing too many people out of work because of employers’ efforts to comply with the law. Mr. Boehner singled out that measure as one that he would like to see advance.

Returning the definition of a full timer to 40 hours is supposed to help??  How is that supposed to work, Mitch?  If you’re not going to fully rescind Obamacare, it’s only going to make the part-time work crisis more severe.  By the time, Mitch is through, no one will be eligible for benefits of any kind.  Yeah, that will make things better.

Back to WaPo:

For more ambitious legislation, senior Republicans are discussing a fast-track procedure known as “reconciliation,” which would permit them to push a measure through the Senate with just 51 votes. Among the targets under consideration: tax reform, cuts to Medicare benefits and an increase in the federal debt limit.

The argument that the Democrats always made about Obamacare is that it was better than a sharp stick in the eye. Now, we’re going to get a sharp stick in the eye. You people on Medicare shouldn’t get too comfy either. Mitch is planning to cut your benefits. Oh, yeah, we tried to tell you but would you listen?? No. So, now you’re about to find out that Republicans don’t really give a crap about your biblical morality. They want your money. Every penny of it. They are all about stripping government down to the studs and giving its profit making potential over to their friends who helped get them elected. Fox News is just a front, a club, if you will, for you retired people to hang out and get captured like flies in a spider web.

But you’ll see.

Republicans hate Social Security and Medicare with a white hot passion. Medicare was passed during the Johnson administration only by overwhelmingly voting in Democrats to Congress so as to reduce Republican opposition to insignificance. Social Security was also passed over their dead bodies back during the Depression. Now that they are in charge, and we have an weaker president than even I ever thought possible in the White House, Republicans are going to do all they can to make sure they stamp both programs out or cripple them so badly that they may become worthless. You may indeed be the last generation that benefits from all your hard work. But it is my generation, who paid *extra* taxes into the surplus fund so that we could retire, and have almost no other pension benefits, that will feel the most severe pain. Because Republicans are going to cut a deal with you to screw us over and we are going to watch as you hastily pull the ladder up in order to save your own skins.

We’ve seen what is underneath the Fox News lovers kimonos too. And it is not pretty.

Twitter campaigns necessary but probably insufficient.

There’s a “Hands up/ Don’t shoot” Friday campaign going on over at Twitter. It’s a nice gesture, no pun intended. But I can’t help thinking about how much more powerful the message would be if we could get ordinary Americans, not just the social media savvy and political activist types, out on the sidewalks banging pots together.

I used to think that internet campaigns would be enough.  Not anymore.  Non-violent, but non-silent demonstrations are probably the way to go.

MLK Jr. would approve.

Update: My sisters-in-law were a little uncomfortable with me using the word “thug” to describe Michael Brown in a post the other day.  I see their point.  I based my assessment on the video that was released of his actions in the convenience store.  One of the things that struck me as I watched it was that I really couldn’t tell what was going on with him and the clerk behind the counter.  Reaching over the counter to get something doesn’t mean stealing, not that stealing something in a convenience store is justification for getting shot 6 times.  It’s not, by the way.  This is not 18th century Williamsburg where a servant could be hanged for stealing a silver spoon.  But I couldn’t tell with any certainty what was transpiring at the counter. Plus, the volume on the video was off so for all I know, he might have had a perfectly friendly interaction with the proprietor.  There just wasn’t sufficient data for me to determine what was going on there.  I would not be friendly to the prosecution on a jury if the charge was shoplifting or robbery based on that video.

No, what bothered me was when he left the store and roughed up the clerk on the way out.  The clerk clearly looks distraught and Brown’s actions looked aggressive and unnecessary.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing that out.  But “thug” is a right wing word, apparently.  I’m not a cable news junky so I’m going to have to rely on the SILs here when they tell me to refrain from using it to avoid looking like a right wing nutcase.  Maybe “bully” would be more appropriate.  Still not a killing offense, though probably more prosecutable than we can feel comfortable with, considering what happened shortly afterwards.  It looked like a minor assault to me.  I guess it would have been up to the clerk as to whether it was worth pursuing.  For sure Brown needed a stern talking to, but, um, not 6 shots to the torso.

I’m troubled by this piece of footage for many reasons.  Matt Taibbi’s book, The Divide, describes so many instances of young black men being arrested and harassed just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, like on the sidewalk or the stoop in front of their apartment buildings.  And the trouble they face because of these arrests is unconscionable.  Really, it’s overkill and debilitating.  Then I see this video and I think, that kid definitely needed correction.  Maybe not jail, and not a mark on his permanent record and certainly not death, but something.  Like, maybe his grandmother should have been sent that tape so she could see he wasn’t a choirboy.  Shaming your grandmother might have been enough.

So, this one time, I’m correcting my language from the right wing “thug”, which I came to independently of cable news based on my first impressions, to “bully”, because that’s what Brown’s actions show.

We shouldn’t be afraid to tell it like it is though.  That kind of behavior is unacceptable.  Not worth dying for but certainly not good.  It doesn’t diminish the horrible and unnecessary impact of Brown’s death.  Or of Eric Garner’s death as he was chokeholded by police.  Or any of a number of tragic deaths at the hands of people who think black people are less than human.

So, to all you Fox News watchers out there, there is a reason why racism is not acceptable, in thought, word and deed.  If you are thinking it, it becomes OK to hurt people who are not like you.  You need to ask yourselves if it’s Ok to be an anti-semite in your head as well.  Of course it’s not OK.  What we are seeing in Ferguson is a variation of the dehumanization and malignant behavior described by Phillip Zimbardo based on his Stanford Prisoner Experiment and his investigation of Abu Graihb in his book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

It starts in your head when you allow yourself to think other people are less than you are and it’s all downhill from there.

Don’t start down that road.

 

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