This is our Open Thread to start the week – how’s everyone else coping?
With the most consequential election of my lifetime now just one day away, a scene from Star Trek: Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds” Part 1″ keeps returning to my mind. It takes place before the battle with the Borg, as Captain Picard paces through the Enterprise, and finds Guinan alone in Ten-Forward:
Guinan: “Trouble sleeping?”
Capt. Picard: “It’s something of a tradition, Guinan – Captain touring the ship before a battle.”
Guinan: “Hmm. Before a *hopeless* battle, if I remember the tradition correctly.”
Capt. Picard: “Not necessarily. Nelson toured the HMS Victory before Trafalgar.”
Guinan: “Yes, but Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, did he?”
Capt. Picard: “No, but the battle was won.”
Guinan: “Do you expect this battle to be won?”
Capt. Picard: “We may yet prevail. That’s a… a conceit. But… it’s a healthy one. I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of *our* civilization? Turn the page.”
I wish that I had the calmness, almost equanimity, with which Captain Picard views the possibility of approaching doom and the likely takeover of the United Federation of Planets by a heartless, merciless “race.” I cannot view a similar fate for our country without a feeling of utter dread.
“We may yet prevail” as Picard says, if by “prevail” one means that Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Presidency. If that happens, in my humble opinion, we the sane will have only one night, possibly, to feel the relief of dodging a bullet. As long-time students of politics and human nature, particularly ‘American’ human nature, we Critters and Zoosters and other reality-based folks are all too well aware that a final election result which denies Donald Trump the Presidency is just the beginning. There inevitably will be a barrage of ‘bullets’, figuratively at best, to continue to dodge. And it may well “be the end of *our* ‘civilization’.”
Guinan offers hope of a sort:
Guinan: “This isn’t the end.”
Capt. Picard: You say that with remarkable assuredness.”
Guinan: “With experience. When the Borg destroyed my world, my people were scattered throughout the universe. We survived – as will humanity survive. As long as there’s a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail – even if it takes a millennium.”
And while Guinan could be right, that “[t]his isn’t the end”, I wish that *our* people were able to scatter throughout the universe. “Humanity” may survive, but will it still be recognizable as “human”?
This is our daily Open Thread–talk me down?
Whilst digging through a pile of old files buried on an old hard drive, I ran across an old essay of mine, one from just short of a dozen years ago. It was my “response”– not published or posted anywhere — to the world created by the Bush administration in the aftermath of 9-11; a world of war, based on irrational fear.
Look around today, particularly in the shadows of the fear-mongering that’s driving this election season. Think of Trump’s hate-filled and fear-mongering proposals concerning “illegals,” “Muslims,””ISIS” and all else that’s covered under the phobia umbrella including, for a great many, their not-yet-spent irrational fear and hate of soon-to-be-outgoing President Obama. He’s black, after all, and this here’s a white country! Scary scary.
I’d propose ways to stop the phobia train — if I could think of some. Clearly that’s not going to happen, though, so — stated another way — here we go again, back into the pit. How many times must we do this? Every time a Republican gets up onto the national stage, looks like to me. Anyway, I’ll leave comments to others, and simply add here the essay I wrote in November 2004; it’s title was a simple one: FEAR. Continue reading
I found one of these videos posted in the Raw Story comments by “sam202.” All the words are Trump’s own, but a genius named Peter Serafinowicz dubbed him to sound all catty and Liberace-like.
I think the dubbed voice is more appropriate for the gossipy content of Trump’s speeches anyway.
This is our totally late — so late we’re down to leftovers — open thread.
Yesterday at work, after glancing at my calendar, I did a mental double-take, thinking, ‘holy jeez, it’s May 20th already, 2016 is going by too quickly!’ Later, after some Trump BS refocused my attention on the upcoming election, my thoughts changed to, ‘holy jeez, there’s still nearly six months until the election, I wish we could just jump ahead to November and get it done and over with!’
I doubt if any of us, during the campaign season that led up to King George being anointed by the SCOTUS, and even during the eight years that we (and the rest of the world) suffered through under the BushCo maladministration, ever thought that any candidate for the Presidency could come along who was even more unqualified than Dubya, and just as amoral as Darth Cheney. The stress of those years pales in comparison to what we, and everyone else in the reality-based world, are experiencing during this unbelievably mind-numbing Trump campaign.
A continual state of stress is unhealthy for an individual both physically and mentally, as we all can attest to. Is it any wonder that the heightened stress of these last several months is having an even worse impact on so many Americans than that of the Bush years, even with the never-ending war(s), the “you’re either with us or against us” mantra, and the economic crash that affected every American except those who caused it?
And after BushCo, the undercurrent of American racism, which slowly became ‘acceptable’ when President Obama won in 2008, turned into the norm in an ever-growing and ever-more-violent tide that has eroded the foundations of the Republic nearly to the point of collapse. Even if Donald Trump doesn’t win the Presidency, will the added pressure and stress of the national and international turmoil brought about by Trump’s – and his followers’ – jingoism, ignorance and hatred be too overwhelming to keep this Union intact?
Personally, I think something’s got to blow under all of this pressure, because it’s not going to ease anytime soon. It only leads one to question: when, how big, and how toxic will the fallout be?
This is our daily Open Thread – what’s on YOUR mind?
At a rally in Florida, the GOP front-runner, Donald “Drumpf” Trump, encouraged people to raise their right hands with a promise to vote for him in the upcoming primary. Yes, the photo above is real, and people didn’t have a problem, or didn’t understand the horrible historical significance, of a large crowd raising their hands in such a way.
Yeah, I know, Godwin’s Law and all that, but COME ON. Doesn’t the photo of the Drumpf rally make you all squirmy inside — and not in a good way?
Is Drumpf just trolling these ignorant people, so he can have a laugh later on with the wife and kids? Or is Drumpf actually that friggin’ stupid? And do I really want to know either way…?
Here’s what Drumpf said, while wagging his stubby little finger, after he got all the rubes to do their clueless Nazi imitations:
“Don’t forget you all raised your hand,” Trump said at the conclusion of the pledge. “You swore. Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”
He’s finished talking to people at a fourth grade level — now he’s down to speaking on a pre-school level — which seems appropriate since toddlers, much like Drumpf, tend to “say what they think,” too.
I weep for this country…
This is our daily open thread — Sorry, not sorry.
The difference between Despair
And Fear — is like the One
Between the instant of a Wreck
And when the Wreck has been –
Despair And Fear have become the operational mantra of America’s modern right wing politic. Why is that? My personal presumption is a simple one: the far right wing has realized that, over the last three or four decades, their combination of irrational policies alongside the irrational fears they’ve readily imposed upon society (via their purposefully-diminished educational systems) WILL work, invariably, in their favor.
Historians could, I’m sure, write thousands of pages on the methods, outcomes and successes of impositions, over the centuries, of ‘fear’ as a political motivator. It is, however, also true that one need not study each and every event where fear has been used as the principle means to coerce submission of the many to the authority of the few. Not really. In fact, a quick perusal of just a handful of quotes collected in the aftermath of 9-11 (mainly to satisfy an emergent WTF? attitude in re the actions/reactions of the Bush administration to that event) exposes those subtleties which reveal — again — the benefits that fear and despair always offer to the tyranny of the moment, as well as the consequences thereof to ordinary people everywhere. Following are attitudes — cogently expressed — which most ably summarize both the intent and the program(s) of criminal politicos . . . today’s American “conservatives” in particular:
“Fear always springs from ignorance.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” ~Edmund Burke
“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” ~Bertrand Russell
“But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy & it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism & exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” ~Hermann Goering, 1946, in his testimony at the Nuremberg trials (shortly before he poisoned himself in his jail cell)
“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -― kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour ―- with the cry of grave national emergency. Always, there has been some terrible evil at home, or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.” ~General Douglas MacArthur – (1880-1964) WWII Supreme Allied Commander of the Southwest Pacific, Supreme United Nations Commander; 1957
“The ‘war on terror’ has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration’s elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America’s psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. … The damage these three words have done — a classic self-inflicted wound — is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. … But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a ‘war on terror’ did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear. Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.” ~Zbigniew Brzezinski, Washington Post Op.Ed.; March, 2007 (highlight mine)
“Sometimes it is difficult to decide who to fear the most – the ethically-bankrupt President whose madness drives what was once the greatest country on earth closer and closer to ruin or the blind, brain-dead lemmings who continue to follow him into the abyss.” ~Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue.
“What happened yesterday [November 2, 2004] was this: The Republicans finally achieved their long-held goal to use fear (of Muslims, of homosexuals, of minorities, of terrorism) and fundamentalism to get poor people to vote for the causes of the wealthy. It worked. Mission accomplished. The arrogant invented a crisis and the ignorant rallied to be saved from it; it’s the oldest form of power play in the world.” ~Dean Bakopoulos; Author
“When fear rules the day, many minds are weak enough to crack the world into nothing but ‘me’ and ‘evil-doers,’ and as long as we’re proudly killing unlike minds over there, they feel emboldened to do the same over here. For minds like that, the great attraction to patriotism is, as Aldous Huxley wrote, that ‘it fulfills our worst wishes.’” ~Barbara Kingsolver in Small Wonder
“Fear is all the Republicans have left–fear of brown people, gays, workers, foreigners and anyone who questions their (loosening) grip on power.” ~Alan Bisbort, Hartford Advocate; August 25, 2006
And finally, during the early (circa October 2007) run-up to the 2008 election, Paul Krugman wrote this brief synopsis of the Bush (post 9-11) years:
“In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration adopted fear-mongering as a political strategy. Instead of treating the attack as what it was – an atrocity committed by a fundamentally weak, though ruthless adversary – the administration portrayed America as a nation under threat from every direction.
“Most Americans have now regained their balance. But the Republican base, which lapped up the administration’s rhetoric about the axis of evil and the war on terror, remains infected by the fear the Bushies stirred up – perhaps because fear of terrorists maps so easily into the base’s older fears, including fear of dark-skinned people in general. And the base is looking for a candidate who shares this fear.
“Just to be clear, Al Qaeda is a real threat, and so is the Iranian nuclear program. But neither of these threats frightens me as much as fear itself – the unreasoning fear that has taken over one of America’s two great political parties.” ~Paul Krugman, circa October 2007
Krugman refers to both Al Qaeda and the Iranian nuclear program as potential threats-of-the-day to be feared by we the people, and while it’s fair to note that today, under President Obama’s leadership, BOTH of those threats have been either eliminated or substantially reduced, the current GOP refuses to so acknowledge. Instead, they carry forward their menu of fear and despair as if nothing has changed. Al Qaeda — now ISIS (created by the Bush Admin’s incursion into Iraq) in their fear-mongering linguistic — and our eternal enemy, Iran — a title now some forty years old but recently revitalized since Iran has toyed with nuclear centrifuges . . . well, the handwriting is clear. America is doomed. Be afraid. Be desperately afraid. Feel the Despair! Vote Republican because only “we” can save you! Us! We! The world! Etc.
And remember always:
“The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don’t ask for their love; only for their fear.” ~Heinrich Himmler.
Fear clearly remains as useful as it is mindless . . . ergo its widespread political popularity both today and across the ages. Fear. Despair. Effective . . . when and where
The Mind is smooth — no Motion —
Contented as the Eye
Upon the Forehead of a Bust —
That knows — it cannot see —