Cautious Celebration

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as President and Vice President on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. It’s been a long four years of living through lies, incompetence and watching our norms and institutions being damaged. I wanted to celebrate Biden’s win on November 3rd, but the vote wasn’t declared till November 7th due to the counting of mail-in ballots. Then Trump pathetically tried to declare victory before the counting was completed, he refused to concede, denied the ascertainment needed for the transition to begin, filed 62 frivolous losing lawsuits challenging the election results without providing any evidence, called state officials begging them to “find” votes to overturn the election, continued to repeatedly declare widespread voter fraud without any proof causing his supporters to believe the election had been stolen who in turn called their representatives and Senators who then challenged the electoral college vote certification on January 6th. Then he incited an insurrection causing his supporters to storm the Capitol to stop the certification. Even though they caused deaths, desecration and destruction, the vote was finally certified. Then I had to wait two long weeks for Inauguration Day while wondering if there was anything else that could stop the transition.

Finally, I got to celebrate after two and a half months of election results turmoil. I cried tears of joy most of the day as I watched the inauguration activities. Now, the fight to eliminate the virus and rescue the economy has begun, and the lies and incompetence has ended.

Sadly, however, white nationalists, anti-government militias, QAnon, Republican obstructionists, and average Trump supporters stand in opposition to healing. Right wing media will continue to divide us and disperse the lies that created a space for a dangerous autocrat to rise to power, and will continue to attack democracy.

Are we on the path to healing as a nation or is this just a short reprieve until the next election? We must be vigilant and truth must prevail!

Impeached Again!

Donald J. Trump incited a mob that attacked, breached, damaged and defiled the Capitol building of the United States of America. They ruthlessly attacked and beat the police who were defending the building and chanted their goals of killing Speaker Pelosi and hanging Vice President Pence. Fortunately, their plans were foiled, but not before five lives were lost.

This mob was prepped by 30 years or more of right wing lies with the final push being the false claims of voter fraud. Who is responsible the liars or the believers of the lies? Some in the mob believed they were invited by the president and justified in their actions, while others were hardcore anti-government white nationalist militia members bent on destroying the government.

Not only has America’s ugly underbelly been revealed, but also how ordinary Americans have become radicalized. Author Anand Giridharadas suggested that this revelation marks the beginning of the end of white nationalism in America and the beginning of the future of our multicultural democracy. We must return to truth because the foundation of democracy is truth and the rule of law.

The house impeached Trump for inciting this insurrection. He has four days left as president. Here’s to hope for a brighter future.

Poor Loser Behavior: A Symptom of Mental Illness

Trump’s post election behavior is abominable and embarrassing for all of us. We’ve never seen anything like this from an American president before. At first, I blamed this behavior on never being held accountable and always being bailed out by his father and later by bankers who bought into his created “successful businessman” narrative. People whose failures are constantly bailed out by their parents fail to mature, continue bad behavior and struggle with marriage and relationships according to Kevin A. Thompson (Parenting Adult Children Who Make Bad Choices 07/02/2013 kevinathompson.com). Trump’s stern father and the neglect he suffered as a toddler when his mother had a lengthy illness (see Mary Trump’s book) also contributed to his current day behavior. But, this is all on top of, most likely, having untreated inherited Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

People with NSD usually have a vision, a desire to be admired and to want to build empires, but they are UNABLE to listen, accept criticism, be consistent, maintain healthy relationships and experience empathy. They can’t love. They only love what the other person can do for them. And, they often can’t accept loss or failure.

Evita March writes in A Personality Psychologist Explains Why Some People Can’t Admit When They Lose – And How They Spin Failure to Blame Others (www.businessinsider.com 11/12/2020) that people with ‘grandiose narcissism’ “…may be unable to accept, or even comprehend, that they have not won.” They suffer from cognitive dissonance when their internal “belief” does not match up with actual reality. Experiencing cognitive dissonance feels uncomfortable and can even threaten the very core of one’s sense of self. March writes that “…strategies we use to reduce dissonance can also make us unyielding in our belief. Ongoing acceptance of our beliefs could make us unable to accept outcomes even in the face of damning evidence.” This suggests that TRUMP DOES NOT BELIEVE THAT HE LOST; IN HIS MIND, IT HAS TO BE A MISTAKE, SOMEBODY HAD TO HAVE CHEATED, FOR HIM THERE IS NO OTHER EXPLANATION!

Having an NSD inspired personal narrative combined with the power that comes from having nearly a half billion dollars provided by your father can take one far, far beyond their “actual” abilities and way outside reality. The ascendancy to the presidency has laid bare the false reality in which Trump seems to live and has revealed incompetence, immorality and corruption. His refusal to accept the outcome of our fair and free election and to desperately make 60 or more baseless legal claims of voter fraud and to call for multiple recounts that did not change the numbers, finally brought full attention to his, what seems to be, pronounced debilitating personality disorder. He seems so disturbed right now that he can’t even carry out the basic duties of the presidency. We’re in the middle of the worst disaster since the Civil War and all he can do is play golf.

Narcissists can change, but they have to want to and they have to be aware that they need to. It seems that Trump has never engaged in any self-examination or reflection during his entire 74 years on earth. Has there ever been a previous president this seemingly disturbed or this far removed from reality? Sadly, Trump has demonstrated behaviors commensurate to a severe personality disorder and is playing them out on a world stage. How insane is it that he involved the Supreme Court of the United States and actually threatened the foundations of our democracy with his unacceptable behavior and what seems to be a break from reality?

This is a nightmare. We have a president seemingly detached from reality, but still got 74,000,000 votes and has nearly the entire Republican Party afraid of a Trump tweet. Trump’s false “super successful super smart businessman” narrative is constantly repeated and supported on right wing media while they portray him as a victim of the evil left and the fake mainstream media when any negative truths are revealed. But, insider Secretary of State (for one year anyway) Rex Tillerson told us that Trump is a “f…ing moron.” Trump does not seem to care about America or Americans or doing the everyday duties of the president, he seems to only care about the attention and the power and the personal wealth he can draw from the position. He’s been a destructive disaster to our democracy, to our government and to our standing in the world. He is maybe the most dangerous and deadly force faced by America, especially in light of his failed response to the pandemic.

Regrettably for us, the DMSV defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a MENTAL ILLNESS. Not accepting the reality of the election loss is a clear sign of delusion. He did nothing new to broaden his base of supporters and that cost him the election, not any voter fraud. He lost the popular vote twice, by 2.8 million in 2016 and by a whopping 7 million in 2020. He lost because he didn’t do the work needed to win. It seems his false grandiose sense of self made him believe he didn’t need to do anything new to win. HE LOST THE VOTE ON HIS OWN! And now we are subjected to the unacceptable and dangerous behavior of a seemingly mentally ill loser who is protected by the office of the presidency and his enablers that refuse to hold him accountable or to remove him via the 25th Amendment.

Hopefully, we can begin to heal on January 20 and return to sanity. Maybe the Republican Party can review and renew their values and ideology. Maybe they can lead from the top down instead of letting a few aggrieved right wing talk show hosts, solely motivated by money and fame, turn Republican supporters into a bunch of populist conspiracy theorists white nationalists lie believing truth deniers. Republican leadership needs to step up because our democracy is in danger of failing. They’ve become the anti-government party! But, we ARE the government. Our government is our face to the world. We need to believe in our government in order to succeed in the world. The Republicans need to leave behind their “unfit” leader and start anew with a healthy and capable candidate for 2024. America can only be great if we work together!

Incompetence or Intention?

America’s failed, tragic response to the coronavirus pandemic is obvious when compared to other developed nations. There was no coordinated national response to providing the needed PPE and no consistent message regarding the seriousness of the disease or the urgent need to follow mitigation standards such as masks, social distancing, reduced gatherings and, testing and tracing. There was very little or no funding to support shutdowns and mitigation needs. In March, it was thought by some as only a blue state problem. The CDC and other experts were contradicted or silenced by the Trump administration while unproven drugs and ridiculous treatments were touted or suggested. Lockdowns, shutdowns and mask wearing were politicized and unnecessarily polarized the country. Due to the failed response, the virus spread from the coasts and then ravished the heartland. At the time of this writing, over 330,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. There was a recent surge in infections and deaths due to the number of people who traveled and gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday, all victims of failed and inconsistent messaging.

This is all evidence of incompetence and putting political concerns above good decision making. But was it more sinister than this?Lockdowns and shutdowns tanked the economy and sent millions into unemployment, poverty, food lines and homelessness, although the stock market and billionaires and professionals who could work from home were doing fine. Thoughts of herd immunity, and acceptable losses were publicly considered, but the fact that the working class, essential workers, minorities and the poor would suffer the brunt of the loss was not made public. Those with political power were willing to sacrifice ordinary Americans to avoid funding shutdowns or to hold companies accountable for protecting their workers while hospitals were filled beyond capacity and morgues were overflowing.

The privileged classes are able to honker down and wait for the vaccine, while the rest are left to fend for themselves as the virus culls the herd killing off members of the lower classes! Was this the intention? Was this the cheapest way to navigate the pandemic? Was this a way to reduce the number of people who rely on public assistance? Robert Reich said that billionaires profited enough during the pandemic to pay every American $3000. At the same time, small businesses (built on lifetimes of blood, sweat, tears, heart and soul) closed permanently and middle income American families faced eviction. Incompetence or intention failed the American people!

Intentionally allowing some to die is unconscionable! Allowing a weakened, enfeebled federal response in the name of small government or states rights is irresponsible and imbecilic. Either way, the historians will sort this out, and American Exceptionalism and American status as a world leader in human rights will be greatly diminished if not erased! This is due to the inept, possibly malevolent leadership of impeached president Trump and his Republican enablers. Either way, their place in history is set, I hope they can live with it!

Republicans Dump Democracy

American exceptionalism is founded on democratic norms based in an honor system, not in strict codified law. An unAmerican, undemocratic “strongman” can easily run them over and destroy them like a toddler knocking over the building block structure their older sibling had carefully assembled during their morning playtime. It takes real strength, maturity and true character to abide by our norms and uphold democracy. However, Republicans have dumped democracy by kowtowing to a wannabe autocrat in order to grab power.

Trump supporters have been engulfed by a dense fog created by all encompassing disinformation and conspiracy theories disguised as real legitimate news that actually only deals in lies and false fear without even a hint of adherence to journalistic standards. It’s created an “us versus them” mindset with an in-group versus out-group mentality that is deadly to a successful democracy. Followers of this thinking singularly focus on hating and undermining the “other” rather than being grounded in a specific ideology, creating effective policies and approaching the table in a rational state of mind ready to compromise and negotiate. “Sticking it to the libs” accomplishes NOTHING and destroys what we share.

Right wing media and the president FALSELY claim that the election was rigged or fraudulent. The Trump lawyers filed 60 law suits including two to the Supreme Court, but were unable to provide any evidence under oath. ZERO EVIDENCE! Maybe Trump thought he could steal the election or make others believe that the only way he could lose is if the other guy cheated or more likely just to scam his followers out of a couple of hundred million dollars for his so-called “legal defense fund.” Biden will still be the next president and Trump will just be richer, no harm, right? WRONG!!!

Faith in fair and free elections, and the peaceful transfer of power together are the foundation of our democracy. But, this right wing media fueled Republican charade has caused a third, or maybe more, of voters to doubt the outcome of the election and question the legitimacy of the Biden presidency. This in turn is causing their elected representatives to abandon truth and integrity in order to prolong and reinforce the lie at the expense of our shared democracy so that they can selfishly maintain access to power and wealth. Then they justify these actions by saying their constituents tell them that they believe the election was laden with fraud. The lie comes full circle! It is damaging our democracy!

Sadly, Republican officials who uphold the truth are being threatened, and many are leaving the party. Hopefully, those still living within the bubble of lies and misinformation will finally see the light and become faithful partners in our democracy because you can’t win by burning down the house of the person you live with! Democracy doesn’t work if one side is bent on destruction! Republicans need to uphold democracy and scrap Trump “destructionism.”

Understanding Our Ever Changing Culture and It’s Effect on Individual Worldviews

My parents were children during the Great Depression and teens during World War II in which my Dad served as an infantryman. They married in 1952 and lived in this time of prosperity and the promises of modernism as the middle class American dream only required a willingness to work 40 hours a week without the need of a college degree or even a high school education. Life was good and simple. Men went to work and women stayed home cleaning, cooking and caring for the children, and everyone in the neighborhood was the same; white, middle class and Protestant (My parents weren’t typical as my Mom always worked outside the home, too). The social norms of the fifties were in full force. I was born into this world in 1956.

Then in 1964, as I entered the so called age of reason (7 or 8 years old) in childhood development, the American counterculture (hippies) emerged rejecting those cultural standards of the fifties. They questioned “…racial segregation, the Vietnam War, sexual mores, women’s rights and materialism.” This counterculture movement, unbeknownst to me, divided the country. “To some, it reflected American ideals of free speech, equality, and world peace; while to others, it reflected a self-indulgent and unpatriotic assault on America’s moral order.” This division never ended and persists today.

By the time, I was 13 or 14, bell bottoms, blue jeans, peasant tops, tie dye shirts, long straight hair parted in the middle and long hair for males too, the Beatles, the Monkees, the Partridge Family, Laugh-In, Love American Style and Woodstock (even though I was too young to attend) defined my world. Peace, love, harmony, music and mysticism were the ideals of the time. The world was new and the old ways were discarded. We were freer to express ourselves and pursue many different ways of living and earning a living. Three years later, I was going to the Disco and styles changed that quickly, but that’s another story. But, between the formative ages of 8 and 16 (1964-1972), I became a liberal Democrat (I’m actually more of a left-leaning centrist) without even knowing that it was occurring. This is when my worldview was formed. It began to form when the Beatles’ song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was playing at the roller rink and was mostly hardened by the time “Rock the Boat” by the Hues Corporation was playing in the clubs.

The movement ended as the economic crisis of the time forced free spirits into traditional jobs and as the goals of the movement actually became part of the mainstream. The ending of the Vietnam War, improved civil rights and liberties, gender equality, environmentalism relaxed sexual mores, reduced focus on materialism and the acceptance of more casual dress was now the new normal. Mainstream philosophy, art, music, movies, theater, fashion, lifestyle, and social norms were forever changed.

Cultural change has been fluid over my lifetime, but those early formative years will always be my reference point. The self-awareness of the source of my worldview is enlightening as I try to understand others who think differently than me. My worldview was formed without conscious effort over a very short period of time. It was formed by the times and those around me and those who came before me. So, now I understand that everyone’s worldview is based on their individual experience from a very young age. I believe it is tweaked over the years but it’s original form is very strong and ever present, it is seemingly innate.

Even though many of these changes were absorbed by the greater culture, there were anti-change forces present from the very beginning that still exist today, and it has become increasingly stronger lately. Republican conservatism, Christian nationalism, white supremacy, anti-feminism, rampant materialism and the unbridled pursuit of wealth are the counter forces that have finally come into clear view after nearly 60 years of operating in the shadows. The election and presidency of Donald Trump shined a giant spot light on these forces that were not apparent to many of us or at least not to me.

While my worldview was being formed there were only four TV stations that expanded to about eight when UHF came into being and a few AM radio stations (FM radio played some instrumental music at that time). Now, our country is very diverse not just by race and ethnicity but by which media we consume. Today, we have thousands of cable TV channels, ever increasing streaming services and social media websites, internet and gaming platforms, blogs, podcasts and satellite radio. Nearly every divergent thought can find acceptance and reinforcement in this seemingly infinite information web so that the majority of us no longer share a common perception of life. Our simple division of the sixties has turned into a gigantic dispersion of different world-views to the point where ridiculous conspiracy theories slither into mainstream thought. I’m not sure there is any comparison to this time in history, no example of what to do. We can’t even agree on a common reality. Would education in civics and informed media consumption help us sort facts, opinions and fiction? How can a unified message get to everyone? Can I understand world-views formed in the eighties, nineties, oughts, and teens?

I hope this self examination has provided me with greater understanding as I consider the point of view of others. I’ll end with this final question. Who were the 8 year olds in 2016, who are now 12 in 2020? What kind of lifelong worldview are they going to have?

Referenced http://www.lumenlearning.com “The Sixties 1960-1969: Counterculture” for this blog.

Trump Accomplishments and Failures

Some Trump supporters state that the economy, tax cuts, conservative judge appointments and his pro-life stance prove a successful Trump presidency while others provide an exhaustive list that includes things like the greatest job creation for minorities ever and moving the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Non-Trump supporters see chaos and ineptitude, loss of standing in the world and the gutting of governmental agencies, destruction of democratic norms and the rule of law, a complete scary disaster headed by a reality TV star.

The following account of accomplishments and failures are based on Trump’s Biggest Accomplishments and Failures from his One-Term Presidency by John Haltiwanger in Business Insider 11-9-2020. In my opinion, some of the so called accomplishments are not really good for most people. Let’s take a look.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

*Reshaping the federal judiciary – this appointment of hundreds of conservative judges and three Supreme Court justices may not seem like an accomplishment to citizens who believe in the constitutional right to freedom of and from religion, woman’s rights and their right to choose and civil rights for all including minorities and the LGBTQ+ community. This may be a win for straight, white, Christian males, but a loss for many others.

*Space Force – this, at first, seemed a little ridiculous, kind of like Trump steaks, Trump water, Trump university, kind of like a ruse to benefit Trump at the expense of others. But, it is real and was created to protect our military assets in space, like satellites. This is an accomplishment, so take comfort in your safety as you toil 60-80 hours a week to make ends meet while a $400 emergency could leave you and your family homeless.

*Tax Reform – this did nothing for 99% of Americans. It only further enriched the rich. It did not result in research and development, infrastructure repair or the creation of comfortable living wage jobs.

*First Step Act – this made modest changes to criminal justice reform, nothing to write home about.

*Defeating the ISIS Caliphate – disbanded but not eliminated.

FAILURES

*Charlottesville and the George Floyd Protests – demonized anti-racism demonstrators while condoning white supremacy and police brutality, and promoting division. Just disgraceful.

*Family separation at the border – a despicable travesty that tore families apart including nursing infants. Horrid conditions, abuse and the death of children were reported while the information necessary for reuniting families was not recorded, lost or hidden. Unforgivable!

*Iran, Syria and Afghanistan – not sure of the specifics, just that they ended up in the failure column.

*Repealing and Replacing the Affordable Care Act – it didn’t happen although it was weakened. However, it’s need to remain in place and expand became overwhelmingly apparent as people lost their employer provided healthcare when they lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

*Impeachment – an accomplishment for Congress, but a failure for the Senate when it voted against removal. The evidence for removal was overwhelming. Trump will go down in history as the most corrupt American president ever.

*Mishandling of the Pandemic Response – misinformation, inconsistent messaging and the failure to coordinate nationally resulted in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths and suffering. At the time of this writing, daily deaths are around 2800 and over 200,000 news cases are being reported each day. ICU beds are filled and healthcare staff are overwhelmed and in short supply across the country. It is critical and getting worse as many ignored CDC health advisories not to travel and gather for Thanksgiving as a result a significant spike in deaths is predicted for the Christmas holiday. In the meantime, our neighbors in Canada are experiencing a fraction of cases and deaths as us proving that effective leadership matters.

*The Economy – the economy has been decimated by the failed pandemic response for most Americans. Big companies, billionaires, stockholders and professionals who can work from home are doing fine, while the majority of Americans are either working in unsafe conditions experiencing the brunt of sickness and death or are unemployed or losing their small businesses, waiting in food lines and facing eviction while McConnell lets the relief bill lay on his desk.

*Damage to Democracy – attacks on the media (freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution), lying to the people, deploying troops into American cities, tear gassing peaceful protesters, encouragement of far-right extremists groups, autocratic behavior, interfering in and lying about the electoral process, using office for financial and political gain, thwarting the peaceful transfer of power and the breaking of countless norms that are or were the basis of American exceptionalism and the epitome of what democracy is supposed to be.

Trump’s governance before the election results was spotty and inconsistent at best, now he’s totally absent. He is not addressing the pandemic or the financial crisis that’s leaving millions of Americans in dire straits. This is the greatest crisis to face America since the 1918 flu pandemic and the Great Depression combined! He’s totally engrossed in fecklessly trying to undermine our free and fair election that has been declared the most secure election ever by his own appointees. The Trump presidency is a total and abject failure! Our only hope is to repair the damage and codify expected norms as decency and fairness have proven to not be an innate quality in all Americans even those who rise to the highest office in the land. Without honesty and decency all accomplishments are null.

Left and Right: Please Meet in the Center Our Survival Depends on It

Over the last decade, the alt-right infiltrated the Republican Party infecting all the way into what was once the center right. Church ladies and working class moms are now liberal-hating, anti-immigrant, socialist fearing, non-existent ‘deep state’ fearing, government hating, anti-democratic pro-autocratic fascists believing somehow that their seditious behavior is patriotic. They are unknowing victims of the misinformation and propaganda of right-wing media that spews lies and false fear, and they, unbelievably and uncharacteristically, now vote in concert with white supremacists, neo- Nazis, and anti-government militias! The world turned upside down! Sadly, this worldview benefits the rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary people. People are voting against themselves.

This alt-right information (disguised as legitimate news) takeover of Republican ideology explains how people I know and respect could vote for and support Trump. Answering that question was the impetus for this blog. My Republican friends and acquaintances are acting on false fears and a false perception that all government is bad. They see government as the “other” and not us, we the people. They see themselves as disgruntled outsiders instead of debaters willing to compromise. They are voting for the dismantling of our government at the expense of our democracy. Once the people give up their democracy, it gives way to plutocracy which is rule by a few really rich Americans who have no idea what it means or what it is like to be an ordinary American. It will no longer be government by we the people for the people. Unfortunately, any facts or truths that counter their alt-right views are seen as leftist lies and quickly dismissed leaving no room for discussion and understanding.

America has changed and is changing culturally and economically causing great uncertainty for many. This unease led some to search for its cause, and their feelings were affirmed in the grievance politics of right-wing media. They long to return to their fictional ideal of America as a white, Christian, straight, male dominated society. In their mind, all of our problems can be blamed on immigrants, other races, other religions, atheists, feminists and the LGBTQ+ community. In reality, this aggregate of American people has always existed ever since the first Europeans set foot on the American continent. Its just that white, Christian, straight males were allowed to usurp the rights of everyone else in America for a really long time. As we, as a society, evolved socially, emotionally and scientifically we, rightly, granted civil and human rights to all our citizens, not just a privileged few. Diversity is hard, but shouldn’t be feared. However, a functioning democracy is absolutely needed to successfully navigate a society that honors the civil and human rights of all. And, we can only do this together.

Rather than blaming people who are different for our changing circumstances, we need to look at the bigger forces of change. Globalization, automation, self-isolation of the upper-middle class from the rest of America, anti-union sentiments and the lack of livable wages for essential workers are the real cause of our uncertainty. The only way to change this is for the middle and working classes to vote as one, but this won’t happen as long as the Republican/billionaire/Christian nationalists conglomeration feeds half of us misinformation in order to steal the power and wealth of the nation for themselves. Trickle-down economics have proven not to work over the past 40 years. It’s time for everyday Americans to be paid their worth on the front end instead of accepting what’s leftover. I don’t know what it will take to unify us when over 73 million people voted for the greatest threat to democracy ever for a second term as President.

Together we became the greatest country and greatest democracy the word has ever known, divided we will be sure to fall. About a decade ago, our right leaning friends made a hard right and wrongly demonized not only far-left and left-leaning Democrats but those in the middle too. The vast majority of Democrats are not socialist, we are just hard working patriots trying to provide for our families, just like you. Our division only benefits the ultra wealthy and our adversaries. We need livable wages, affordable healthcare and housing, and investment in infrastructure and education through a functional government not tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation that puts us all at risk. The economy will flourish with well paid workers, who will spend now and save for the future. The democracy will fail if economic inequality continues to grow unchecked. If we lose our democracy to a plutocracy, we will lose our rights as citizens and the ability to protect our individual economic futures. We need to vote together and we need to vote to protect ordinary Americans and their livelihoods. Please come back! Together, we can do this!

Please get your news from a neutral source (AP, NPR News, CBS News, and BBC News), and not from social media replete with unsourced opinions and made up memes that very well may be from China, Russia or Iran or from opinion shows with celebrity hosts using unsubstantiated fear tactics and conspiracy theories to boost their ratings. Their declaration that mainstream media is “fake news” keeps their followers from real fact checking allowing them to spread dangerous falsehoods to make millions at the cost of the truth. Our constitution grants them freedom of speech without censorship, but it is our responsibility as citizens to discern the truth. Learn to identify the propaganda techniques and lies being used to undermine real truth. Come back to the middle so we can work things out. Lies are dividing us and destroying America! Let’s work together!

Trump Opened My Eyes to the Deep Deep Lies

The election of Trump led me to look closer at the modern conservative movement. I found that Pro-Trump people had a completely different set of “facts” or “truths” than me. I was appalled by Trump’s immorality, ineptitude and autocratic behavior, while they saw him as the savior of American values. We were living in two different worlds. First, I noticed some unusual opinions or actions in others. Then I explored where these other views were being seen or heard. Then I discovered the source of these views and the underlying motivations. Surprisingly, Trump was not the source of the message, he was just the messenger. The fact that he was so brutish and un-clever in delivering it, made me sit up and take notice and to search for what was wrong. My search began with individuals, and then through right-wing radio, Fox “entertainment” News, and finally onto billionaires, the Christian Right and Republican operatives. Not where I expected to end up.

Back around 2010 a co-worker came to work like chicken little proclaiming that Obama was instituting Marshall law! I hadn’t heard that on my news station. When I looked into it, I found that every President reviews the plan once a year and this is what was reported, a review not an implementation. This person had said other odd things that didn’t fit in to my worldview, for instance, saying shareholders are more important than stakeholders, an unexpected anti-working class stance from a worker. I didn’t understand that point of view. Later, a waitress made an anti-immigrant comment when she saw that I was reading I Am Malala. That was shocking. Then I found myself on the totally opposite side of the political spectrum with a friend whom I thought I had a lot in common with. These are just three examples of my encounters with people living inside an alternate news reality.

I knew about right-wing AM radio shows with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, but saw them as fringe and not mainstream, appealing mostly to working class white males. Little did I know that these shows were creating and building the basis of a liberal-hating, anti-intellectual force that would eventually be visually crafted and disseminated to the masses by Fox News who was only in it for the money.

According to Tobin Smith, 14 year Fox News veteran contributor, “Roger Ailes and Fox News… got rich scamming…” Americans and selling out the soul of America. Fox News culture was focused on hating the liberal elites and all Democrats. Ailes scripted the shows to create an us versus them universe in an addictive professional wrestling format in which the Fow News show host scares and manipulates the viewers with outrageous claims before tearing the “…smug condescending know-it-all East Coast Liberals to pieces.” Smith continues, Fox created an “entertainment product of political/military/economic news and opinion that by careful design and staging… manipulated… (and ultimately addicted) people to the most powerful drug cocktail ever: Visceral gut feelings of existential outrage relieved by the most powerful emotions of all… the thrill of your tribe’s victory over its enemy and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.” The trusting Fox News fans do not understand that in the Fox partisan performance art programming (aka propaganda-like), the outcomes of the ‘panel debates’ have ALWAYS been carefully fixed (a staged scam) so that the home team (the conservatives) ALWAYS win and win on the side of justice. “Just like pro-wrestling, the panel opinion programs are carefully staged and choreographed… so the home team always wins over the poor pathetic (often fake democratic strategist analysts) ‘libtard.’ The Fox tag line “Fair and Balanced” is in reality “Fear and Unbalanced.” Ailes “…knew it was easy to manipulate fear and loathing…” in the viewers due to “…their endless desire to confirm the righteousness of their right-wing tribalism.” He knew “…they would NEVER see the Big Lie perpetrated every day to them by Fox News.” Fox fools people into believing they are watching a “fair fight,” and they don’t want to confuse everybody with a lot of facts and statistics. Fox News insulates their audience “…from opposing views – in part, by continually denouncing the mainstream media as liberal, biased and not to be trusted.” Viewers have lost touch with the non Fox reality. Many viewers believe that higher education destroys people as they (Fox viewers) consume a daily diet of right-wing fury, that is erroneously labeled as “news.” Ailes “…perpetrated the biggest TV scam ever.”

Many consumers of Fox News and right-wing media are pro-business, pro-small government and pro-deregulation while being anti-union, anti-public school, anti-intellectual, anti-expertise, anti-civil rights, anti-gay rights, anti-women’s rights, anti-pluralism and anti-multiculturalism. It seems like ordinary people are counter-intuitively giving up their rights to big business and corporations. Sadly, this modern “conservative movement” has been funded by a small group of billionaires to promote Republican, fossil fuel, financial, chemical and Christian nationalists causes. In fact, this handful of billionaires secretly funded the, so called, “grassroots” Tea Party movement.

Author, Anne Nelson, writes in Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, that there is “…a small group of archconservatives (American billionaires) who realized that the tides of history had turned against them.” As increasing numbers of people of color, immigrants, “queer” people and atheists were “poised” to become a “decisive majority,” the archconservatives “…believed that their policy priorities would fail at the ballot.” To counter this, “…the media of the Christian Right, the finances of western plutocrats and the strategy of right-wing Republican political operatives…” joined forces. They have “…effectively taken over the country.” They have been enormously effective at lowering taxes and eliminating regulations that help them to the detriment of everyday Americans.

Scott Stern writes that “…the rise of the far-right is the result of a deliberate organizing effort by a small coterie of uber-wealthy industrialists and financiers;” ….their motivation is “…greed of such a scale and an intensity that it led them to take a wrecking ball to the most beneficent American institutions; to destroy any lingering shred of independence within the media or judiciary; and literally let the world burn-so long as they got much richer,” (newrepublic.com “How Powerful is the Shadow Network” 2/19/2020). Stern continues that this small group of billionaires “…powered the modern conservative movement and have taken over the Republican Party.” This conservative movement is top down not bottom up as it may seem. The rise of authoritarianism and the government’s unwillingness to address climate change is caused by these few individuals who have “…set the world on fire in order to make more money.” Stern continues, “…Trump’s team effectively sold their campaign to hedge fund billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer (who actually backed Ted Cruz first), who bank rolled the failing operation in exchange for control over its messaging and ideological orientation.” Was Putin and Russia just a distraction from the real string pullers?

Also, “The Council for National Policy (who’s members are archconservative billionaires and Christian Nationalists) founded vast media empires that blanket airwaves in the Bible Belt and plains states. They control hundreds of stations (Salem Media Group, Botto Radio Network and American Family Radio) in 46 states in places where CBS, NBC, ABC and NPR coverage is sparse” (Nelson). These stations are pro-life, anti-gay, anti-Islam, pro-business/deregulation and climate science deniers. They are conservative platforms that demonize liberals and Democrats.

This small group of uber-wealthy archconservatives have funneled billions to support conservative candidates effectively controlling the conservative message and implementing anti-democratic policies. This was illegal before the passing of Citizens United. Therefore, Citizens United must be overturned and strict campaign reform must be implemented in order to restore a fair democracy.

Due to the growing diversity of the United States, white people will soon no longer be the majority. This demographic change makes it difficult for Republicans to win office and they have resorted to gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics instead of developing a platform that would win more voters. The billionaire funded right-wing message is that liberals are evil corrupt socialists that will destroy America. They use this false fear to win over ordinary folk convincing them that small government, reducing taxes and eliminating regulations are good for America. These things are not good because healthcare, education, infrastructure, environmental and consumer protections, livable wages and worker safety are all dependent on a well funded functional government. The only winners are the billionaires at the expense of everyone else. They are no longer vested in protecting our democracy, not if it includes everyone!

My questioning and bewilderment began with a few offhanded comments from a few ordinary people. Then the immigrant-hating escalator ride, the mocking of a disabled reporter, the grade school vocabulary and name calling and finally “good people on both sides” in response to tiki torch carrying white nationalists in Charlottesville focused my attention on “how can people I know and respect support this President?” As I tried to answer this question, I found an alternate information bubble where these character flaws were either dismissed or seen as behaviors of a powerful leader who is above “norms,” rather than as a self-serving, incompetent, destroyer of democracy seen outside the bubble. This antithetical worldview seems angry, anti-intellectual, anti-common good and anti-average people, a worldview that doesn’t benefit, but actually harms, the people who hold it. Next, my search uncovered a small cabal of billionaires, Christian Nationalists and Republican operatives who funded and message-controlled the alternate universe bubble and this president in order to fool voters into giving up their power which is embedded in our democracy. Billionaires want reduced taxes and deregulation, Christian Nationalist want to impose their religious interpretation on everyone else and Republicans want power. Together, they created an alternate information bubble to steal power, money and control from their fellow Americans, from us! They have turned us against each other! I fear that most people inside the bubble will dismiss what I found as lies from the left. But, we have to work together because divided we fall. We have to recognize that this division is caused by those who will benefit by it. Their benefit comes at our collective cost. The powerful cabal is trying to trick us into losing faith in our democracy so it can be replaced by their all powerful plutocracy.

Republicans no longer hold democracy sacred and are knowingly or unwittingly carrying out the bidding of the plutocrats. The lies within the bubble imbue unrealistic fear of the evil, socialist, Democrats. Even, otherwise well-educated, intelligent and decent people like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and William Barr, have demeaned themselves by repeating the lies and denying the truth. Either they’ve shut off their minds or their belief in the righteousness of their cause permits them to lie. In their mind, these falsely demonized Democrats threaten their very existence and fighting them excuses bad, immoral behavior on their part. Graham, McConnell, Jordan, Nunes, and Gaetz are just a few of the others who have fallen into this pit. They are so deep into the lie that they can’t even come to the table to govern effectively. Nearly 80,000,000 voters elected a President who has a history of working across the aisle, so maybe there is hope. Seek the truth. Know who is controlling and funding your bubble, why, and at what cost…

This journey opened my eyes! Am I being too cynical if I think that the billionaires directed Trump’s failed response to the pandemic because they would not mind having minorities, the poor, those with underlying conditions and the elderly dying off from the coronavirus?

History of the Right-Wing Bubble

Sometime during or after the 1970s, the Democrats left the working class behind as they began to favor those with college degrees over those without, thinking that as everyone became better educated the playing field would level. But, they overlooked essential workers, vocational programs and apprenticeships. The right did the same thing by over rewarding the entrepreneur at the expense of the workers.

Legislators on both sides began to favor big business with tax cuts and deregulation at the expense of the working class, everyone’s safety and the environment. This resulted in the undermining of labor unions, lower wages and decreases in benefits including healthcare and pensions. There were just fewer good paying jobs after that.

The American promise used to be that if you were willing to work hard and do the right things, you would be respected and financially sound. When this promise was no longer kept, people wanted to know why. They began to blame minorities, immigrants, free trade, globalization and the liberal elite while overlooking the consequences of automation. These aggrieved and disenfranchised Americans found their feelings affirmed in right-wing media which provided them with a villain, the “liberal elite Democrats,” even though, the right was just as complicit in the anti-working class legislation and the detrimental policies that have been implemented.

The consumers of right-wing media are taught to hate liberals who are, of course, scary socialists who want to destroy the country, and, conversely, to uphold, so-called, conservative values that are, of course, the very definition of American patriotism. What is liberalism and conservatism in reality? Liberalism advocates freedom of the individual, governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties, nonviolent modification of political, social or economic institutions to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human endeavor. Conservatism endeavors to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change and maybe to even go backwards.

As our society became more diverse than ever, and that diversity is necessary for our economic growth, voters were more likely to be Democrats. Instead of trying to win these voters over, the Republicans engaged in voter suppression, gerrymandering and creating a false narrative of conspiracy theories demonizing the left. This is nothing new.

The right has been demonizing the left for more than 70 years. It has inaccurately accused the left of being socialists, communists and “Antifa” today and just pure evil in an attempt to stop change, change that is dictated by advancing scientific knowledge and the social/emotional evolution of human beings, change that is necessary to stay viable on the world stage. In the 1980s, the religious right joined in declaring secularism as the enemy as the right opposed abortion, gay rights and feminism.

The right has convinced itself that the left is so evil that it justifies extreme behavior (lying to their constituents) on their part. It seems that their only purpose is to fight evil liberals not real policies and governance. Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and other right-wing sources have created this information bubble of falsehoods to assemble a base of Republican voters who are believing the lies and who don’t see the dangers to our democracy as we are being pulled into an autocracy or plutocracy.

Historically, the right was against the New Deal, Medicare, tolerance, civil rights, women’s rights and Brown v. BOE, while supporting anti-semitism, segregation and white supremacy. For the most part, the current Republican administration has only given tax cuts to the wealthy and packed the courts with conservative judges, while hundreds of proposed bills that would help ordinary Americans sit idle on McConnell’s desk. Compromise and governance has been replaced with hate and paralysis.

This right-wing bubble created the space for the rise of Donald Trump and the cult of personality that developed around his “brand” which is based in lies. His campaign of lies and hate got my attention, and then his continued lies and attacks as President led me to wonder how anyone could support him. Outside the bubble, the ineptitude, immorality and corruption is downright existentially frightening. Several of my friends have entered this bubble of propaganda. The creators of this bubble are motivated by self-interest, money and power, not in a fair system of governance.

We need to work together to make our country great. We need to honor all work and value everyone by respecting all and paying livable wages that keep up with the cost of living. We need to recognize trigger words that instill unnecessary fear. For instance, “socialism” is government ownership of production and nobody is talking about that! The right is simply using the word “socialism” to scare you and keep you from seriously looking at policies that will benefit everyone. Please give the new administration a chance and question your sources. Most of us are centrist, just average hardworking folks who want the best for our families. We are not enemies, we are fellow Americans.