SURPRISE AND MORTIFICATION

What We Know Now, by Rich Paschall

From the 2016 campaign right up to the 2018 midterm elections the best and worst of America has been on display, mostly the worst.  While the vocal Trump minority will not agree, the picture of America now not only is degrading to most, it is also an international embarrassment of epic proportion. Having just returned from an international trip, I can verify that we look like third world thugs from the outside.  Forty-five’s supporters just don’t care, however.

Believe me, folks.

Imagine if you can, any America politician saying the following:

“A vote for the Democrats in November is a vote to let MS-13 run wild in our communities.”  (MS-13 is a criminal gang, most of Central American ethnicity.)

“Democrats want anarchy, they really do, and they don’t know who they’re playing with, folks.”  (Another fear tactic of epic proportion)

“Who wouldn’t take Kate’s picture and make lots of money if she does the nude sunbathing thing. Come on, Kate!” (Regarding the Duchess of Cambridge)

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.”  (You be the judge.)

“This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.” (On Puerto Rico, see above)

“We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this?” (This was said on Feb. 18, 2017.  Nothing of note was reported in Sweden the night before.)

There are literally thousands of these statements.  Reputable websites and media outlets have reported them to the general public.  There is video evidence on these and just about all of the thousands of lies and outrageous opinions expressed by 45.  It would seem to be an indisputable fact that 45 is not just a bad president, he is also one on the most narcissistic and deceitful people on the planet.

The level of the con job being perpetrated on the American public by 45 might be of little surprise to the people who have done business with him in the past.  It might also be of no surprise to those who followed the celebrity of the reality TV star.  But it sure seems to be a surprise to much of the public.

With someone who is not a politician, diplomat or even a good businessman (reportedly), the West Wing of the White House often seems to be in disarray.  The lies and contradictions that come out are not as bad as some of the policies put into place by Cabinet appointees and Republican legislators.

The party of Trump would like you to believe they have a mandate for their harmful positions.  You know the ones: tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that have exploded the deficit, deregulation allowing pollution of the air and waterways, elimination of school policies that protect students from unfair treatment,  filling federal court vacancies with extreme right-wing conservatives (that will protect them), putting immigrant children in cages, ignoring the needs of Puerto Rico (a Commonwealth of the United States), and the list goes on.

The fact is they have no mandate at all.  Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 2.9 million votes.  While 45 likes to tell his followers that the Democrats stole millions of votes as a way of explaining this, if the Russia collusion claim is true, millions of votes may have been stolen for Trump.

Here is the mortifying part of all this.  There is an overwhelming number of people in this country who believe the lies told regularly, daily in fact, by the Trump administration, or they just don’t care.  They have a man who will speak his mind, no matter how crazy it is, and they like that.  While they are cheering him on, his government is enacting policies that hurt almost every one of them.

“I think the most damaging aspect of Trump’s lies is that many people believe him. The more Trump tells lies, the fewer people seem to care,” opined Ted Slowak of the Daily Southtown.  “I think it’s wrong for the president to say those who disagree with his views on immigration want terrorists and violent criminals to come into our country.” But that is what he says and what his followers believe.

As he left the Senate, former Senator Al Franken commented that he felt we were losing the war for truth. “And if that’s the case — if that’s what happens — then we have lost the ability to have the kinds of arguments that help build consensus, or at least help the American people make informed choices about the issues that affect their lives.”

Sources include: “The 11 most dangerous things Donald Trump said in his Montana speech,” The Point, July 6, 2018, cnn.com
“(Only) 35 of the stupidest Donald Trump quotes,” 4 October 2017, tattler.com
“Trump’s biggest whoppers of 2017,” December 24, 2017, nbc.com
“Trump’s ‘best policies’ are the worst,” 8/12/2018, opinion, washingtonpost.com
“Slowik: Worst part of Trump’s lies is so many people believe him,” June 28, 2018, chicagotribune.com

HATE, ANGER AND SOCIAL MEDIA

A Firestorm of Misinformation, Rich Paschall

There are always items in the news that bring out the social media commentators. There’s the economy, some collusion, and Supreme Court appointments. There are Trade tariffs and Trade Agreements. There is religious freedom and freedom of speech. It is that Freedom of Speech thing that lets the haters and misinformed run rampant on the internet.

© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.
© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.

In the social media world, it looks like a lot of people have time to create graphics with so-called information and historical quotes (internet memes). Some are very artistically created with nice pictures of a president or other important historical person in the background. If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter enough, you may think some of these historical figures are speaking out of both sides of their mouths. One of my favorite internet memes states “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true. – Abraham Lincoln.”

Many of the quotes are easily disputed. I like to type the first phrase of an internet quote or meme into Google search to see what I get. Sometimes I immediately get proof the quote is false. Sometimes I find the quote is true, but it was said by someone else. It seems popular to attribute interesting political and social quotes to George Carlin, even if someone else said it. Do we think a quote is more believable if a more famous person said it? The George Carlin website actually has a section devoted to “Bogus Carlin Quotes.

I have often seen a quote attributed to former President Jimmy Carter. It says “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian Values, because you don’t.” While it seems like something Carter may have said post-presidency, he did not say it. Yet, it is frequently re-quoted all across the internet. Many sites will use it to drive home their point by indicating what this thoughtful and highly regarded human being has to say.

It was actually said by comedian John Fugelsang (Snopes.com here).  I guess if the quote comes from a comedian rather than a former president, it is harder to beat people over the head with it.

In addition to a simple Google search for the quote or alleged fact, you can go to websites dedicated to debunking internet stories.

The most popular is Snopes.com. It calls itself “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.” It has to work extra hard to keep up with the mountains of internet crap published daily. Still, I usually find out whether some really convenient quote to prove a point is actually true or false. Usually they are false.

AARP.org has published a helpful list to identify fake news. Seniors are often the victims of internet scams. Just about everyone can use the links they provide to verify whether a story is true or not.

Fake news?

Despite easy access to the truth, haters choose to believe whatever is posted on the internet if it can be twisted to support their position. Then they can take the misinformation and share it with their friends, who in turn do the same. I like to post an article or link into a comment under these false memes, but it does not seem to matter. Comments continue to be made after mine in support of the lie, as if posting the true story meant nothing. It is infuriating, to say the least. Wanting to believe the lie seems to be a sign of the times

The anger and hate behind the false stories and memes was out in full force recently due to some “hot button” topics in the news. The Kavanaugh hearings brought us bad conduct by the nominee and various senators, which in turn brought out bad memes and fake stories about people on all sides. Dr. Ford was brave enough to step forward despite the media mayhem, but got hammered in the never important social media realm. The occupant of the White House helped the lies along with some outrageous lies of his own.

The tit for tat trade war with China involving tariffs by 45 has been hard on business. As a result corporations, China, the White House and even farmers are being blasted by one concern or another. International business is complicated and can not be clarified by some internet meme or someone’s right or left-wing blog post.

Vice President Pence brought out haters on both sides of the aisle when he chose to speak to an anti-LGBT group recently. His boss spoke there the previous year.

Any criticism of 45 or his minions will likely earn you a response concerning President Obama, the Clintons, illegal aliens or “the gays.” It does not seem to matter if the hateful response has anything to do with the original comment. We considered this “what about Obama?” type response recently in “Extra topical.”

Connected to social media

The bad part of social media is the ease in which hate, anger and lies are spread. Impressionable people can find support for their misguided thoughts, and feel they have backing for whatever hate or heinous acts they perpetrate. While we all support the idea of Freedom of Speech, it is safe to say our founding fathers had no idea how quickly lies could become accepted as truth, especially lies by the President of the United States.

And all of this happens in an era where the truth is so easy to find. If you are interested in truth.

See also: “George Didn’t Say That!” GeorgeCarlin.net/bogus.html
“Pence is first VP to speak at anti-gay group’s Values Voter Summit,” nbcnews.com
“Fake News Alert,” aarp.org
“Trump’s lying, mocking, despicable verbal mugging of Christine Blasey Ford,” E. J. Dionne, Jr., The Washington Post, October 3, 2018
“Extra Topical,” “What About Obama? Huh?” SERENDIPITY, July 15, 2018

PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE TODAY! – Marilyn Armstrong


Yesterday was “National Register to Vote” Day. It does NOT mean you can’t register today. If you are reading this, you have a computer and you can do it. It takes a few minutes. You might discover you are already registered, but it doesn’t hurt to check. 

More people didn’t vote in the last presidential election than voted. Everyone seemed to think their individual vote didn’t matter. The thing is, probably one vote didn’t matter but collectively, ALL those votes mattered enough to get Trump elected rather than Clinton who had three million more votes than Trump had.

This election is called “the mid-terms.” It is when we re-elect the entire house of Representatives and part of the Senate. There are a lot of governors up for re-election too as well as many state-level representatives and senators. Everything matters!

Please vote. Regardless of what you believe, I’d prefer you vote “my way,” but most important is that you vote. That all of you care enough about our form of government to make your voices heard. If we do not get out there and vote, we will not have a republic. It is slipping away from us and you are the reason that’s happening.

Maybe it really IS time to get serious about making significant changes to our Constitution. It’s a few hundred years old and there are artifacts in it that need changing, certainly including how the electoral college is created and used.

None of this will happen without YOU. There will be no power-structure changes unless you make it happen. Democracy lasts as long as the people who are governed by it care enough to make it work and if we don’t care, we’ll live in an oligarchy where the rich do whatever they want and we are crunched under their feet. Isn’t that already happening?

We are in real danger of losing the only thing that made this country great: our freedom.

There’s a website – USA.org – which gives the overall explanation of voting in the U.S. Each state has its own rules so you will have to find your state and follow the instructions. It is not complicated.

But please do it. Today. If you want to be a free person in a free country, you will either become part of the solution or you will be the reason it ends.

There is nothing you can do that is more important than voting. No donation, or signs on your lawn, or petitions can be as important as voting  — and getting everyone you know to do the same.

Don’t let your nation slide away so your grandchildren can’t remember this country was ever a democracy. That is exactly what is going to happen. I’ll be gone by then, but how will you feel about it? That you were too self-involved to bother and let your government slide away?


USA.org.


Do it now. There’s nothing more important.

DRIFTING ALONG WITH THE GOOD GUYS – Marilyn Armstrong

DRIFTING ALONG

I am retired which is, by definition, at least a little bit adrift. This is a good thing and the real reason we retire. After a life of deadlines and commuting, some drifting seems like a pretty good idea. So here I am. Just drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweed … with memories of those great cowboy movies of childhood.

Hi Roy! Hi Trigger! Hey, Bullet! Hope y’all are doing well. I miss you. All of you. You were the good guys. We trusted you. Where are you now, when we need you?

THE “MODERN” WAY? – Marilyn Armstrong

#FOWC — Modern Tyranny for Modern Times


Today is the press’ day to publish editorials supporting freedom of the press, but not every newspaper is doing it. Their reasons are varied. Some simply don’t have the financial structure to take on a major issue anymore.

Those papers have already lost the war. Like New York’s Daily News, taken over by the Trump mouthpiece of Sinclair to be the “nothing much” somewhere on the internet.

Illustration: Bangor Daily Tribune

As editorials show up in my inbox, I’ll reblog or post them, as I can. Some of them are “Pay to Read” and this is one of those days when that policy is downright foolish, so modern or not, I think press editorials need to be seen and read by as many people as possible, whether or not they are subscribers.

If trampling truth and publishing only what “our leader” (not my leader, but maybe yours) wants to hear is “the modern way,” then heaven help us all.

That is tyranny and our freedom will be, as they say, toast.

FREEDOM AND THE LACK THEREOF – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #76 – FREEDOM


Folk songs notwithstanding, freedom is not “just another word for nothing left to lose.” Freedom is exactly the opposite of that. Freedom — having freedom — leaves you a lot to lose.



Like … say … your right to live a life you want to live. A life that is open to any choice you can make. Without freedom, life is a prison, even if you aren’t behind any bars.

When you are not free, they are always watching you, tracking you, closing off the doors to opportunity. They write laws which can get you executed, locked up, deported. They can take away what little you have and leave you with nothing, not even your life.

Lack of freedom means lack of choice. You can’t go where you want, do what you want. Achieve what you would.

Freedom means wings to fly while its opposite is chained and barred.

Stay free. Help keep us all free!

FREE SPEECH ISN’T FREE – BY TOM CURLEY

As I’m writing this, there was a “free speech” rally that went on in Washington DC. It’s was held by a bunch of right-wing white supremacist neo-Nazis. They seem to feel that their civil rights are being violated because a whole bunch of people don’t like them.

Because they’re white, you see. They’re being persecuted because they are a superior race. Oddly enough, many people take umbrage with that claim.

The “rally” ended up consisting of a couple of dozen of these poor downtrodden racists and thousands of counter-protesters who believe that NAZIS ARE BAD!

These white supremacists seem to feel they’re being persecuted because they’re being denied their right to free speech. The super nut-job Alex Jones is crying and moaning because his shows have been taken off almost all the major social media platforms — like Facebook, YouTube, and ITunes.

Why? Because he spouts insane dangerous conspiracy theories. That the massacre of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut was a “false flag” operation. It didn’t happen. The kids and parents were actors.

Because of this, those poor parents have been hounded by nut-jobs that believe this crap. They’ve received death threats. Some have had to move more than once to escape the harassment.

Think about that. Those poor people lost their five or six-year-old child and now they have to deal with this. The only good news is Jones is being sued by a lot of these families.

White supremacist groups and neo-nazis complain when they have a rally or publish hate-filled bullshit on social media platforms, the places at which they work see the posts — and promptly fire their asses.

They claim they’re being punished for exercising their First Amendment rights. This is bullshit. They’re being fired because they’re racist assholes.

Their problem is that they don’t actually understand how the First Amendment works.


Here’s what it says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”


What does this mean?

No law can be passed by the government to prevent you from saying whatever you want in public, no matter how fucking dumb, sick, stupid, or racist it might be.

But here’s the way it actually works.

Just because you can say anything you want, doesn’t mean you should. Nobody has to listen to it or agree with it. I or anyone can say you’re an asshole because of the stupid racist thing you just said.

Social media platforms are not governments. They can deny you access to their service for any reason at all including NO reason. It’s in the service agreements on which you click on but never read.

A business can fire you for any reason they want and which includes no reason except they don’t like you (“You don’t fit into our culture”).

It’s not surprising that businesses, big and small, don’t want racist hate-spewing dick-wads working for them. Who can blame them? It’s bad for business.

Free speech means you can stand on a street corner and spout any kind of bullshit you want. But you need to understand — there may be consequences.

Like getting fired.

Or having thousands of people show up to exercise their First Amendment rights to say you’re an asshole.

Or, to put it in terms white supremacists can understand.


Your kind is not welcome here.