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  What’s going on in the US is chilling by nature.  The democratic underpinnings of their society are being being eroded at frightening rate as misinformation, lies, and propaganda replace the space once reserved for reasonable public discourse.  This process of disintegration isn’t new, but is hastened by the current republican administration’s dedication to a post-truth version of reality exemplified by their leader whose internal process seems to be this:  “I am right because I am always right”.

Scary stuff.  Arnold Isaacs, writing for Tom’s Dispatch catches a glimpse into the post-truth world that much of the American leadership seems to be mired in.

 

“President Trump looks like a quite different case. He clearly lies consciously at times, but generally the style and content of his falsehoods give the impression that he has engaged in a kind of internal mental Photoshopping, reshaping facts inside his mind until they conform to something he wants to say at a given moment.

A recent report in the Daily Beast described an episode that fits remarkably well with that theory.

As told by the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng, at a March 2017 White House meeting between the president and representatives of leading veterans organizations, Rick Weidman of Vietnam Veterans of America brought up the subject of Agent Orange, the widely used U.S. defoliant that has had long-term health effects on American soldiers and Vietnamese villagers.

As Suebsaeng reconstructed the discussion, Trump responded by asking if Agent Orange was “that stuff from that movie” — a reference evidently to the 1979 film Apocalypse Now. Several veterans in the room tried to explain to the president that the scene he remembered involved napalm, an incendiary agent, not Agent Orange. But Trump wouldn’t back down, Suebsaeng recounted, “and proceeded to say things like, ‘no, I think it’s that stuff from that movie.'” His comment directly to Weidman was, “Well, I think you just didn’t like the movie.”

What makes the Daily Beast report particularly revealing is not just that Trump was ignorant of the facts and would not listen to people who clearly knew better. That behavior is all too familiar to anyone even casually aware of Trump’s record. The argument with the veterans was different because his misstatement did not arise from any of the usual reasons. He was not answering a critic or tearing down someone who frustrated him or making an argument for a policy opinion or defending some past statement.

Sticking to his version of Agent Orange was purely a reflection of his personality. On a subject one can safely assume he had not thought about until that moment, he seized on a fragmentary memory of something he’d seen on a screen years earlier, jumped to a wrong conclusion, and was then immediately convinced that he was correct solely because he had heard himself saying it — not only certain that he was right, but oblivious to the fact that everyone he was talking to knew more about the subject than he did.

In effect, this story strongly suggests, Trump’s thought process (if you can call it that) boils down to: I am right because I am always right.

Lots of people absorb facts selectively and adapt them to fit opinions they already hold. That’s human nature. But the president’s ability to twist the truth, consciously or not, is extreme. So is his apparently unshakable conviction that no matter what the subject is, no one knows more than he does, which means he has no need to listen to anyone who tries to correct his misstatements. In a person with his power and responsibilities, those qualities are truly frightening.

As alarming as his record is, though, it would be a serious mistake to think of Trump as the only or even the principal enemy of truth and truth-tellers. There is a large army out there churning out false information, using technology that lets them spread their messages to a mass audience with minimal effort and expense. But the largest threat to truth, I fear, is not from the liars and truth twisters, but from deep in our collective and individual human nature.”

It’s easier to believe a familiar lie than the uncomfortable truth – this is our human tendency – but now, more than ever, we need to seek out that uncomfortable space where we see ourselves and our situations for what they are, not what we want them to be.

 

Why looking at non-North American news feeds is important.  This little tidbit by Pepe Escobar cropped up on Counterpunch, but the article is all over the place in the Eastern media.

“But this is extremely serious. A China-North Korea mutual defense treaty has been in effect since 1961. Under this framework, Beijing’s response to Trump’s “fire and fury” was a thing of beauty. If Pyongyang attacks, China is neutral. But if the US launches a McMaster-style pre-emptive attack, China intervenes – militarily – on behalf of Pyongyang.

As a clincher, Beijing even made it clear that its preference is for the current status quo to remain. Checkmate.

Hunger Games apart, the rhetorical war in the Korean Peninsula did decrease a substantial notch after China made its position clear. According to a Beltway intel source, that shows “the US and Chinese militaries, as the US and the Russians in Syria, are coordinating to avoid a war”.

Evidence may have been provided by a very important meeting last week between the chairmen of the US and Chinese Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford and General Fang Fenghui. They signed a deal that the Pentagon spun as able to “reduce the risk of miscalculation” in Northeast Asia.

Among the prodigious fireworks inherent to his departure as White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon nailed it: “There’s no military solution, forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

And extra evidence in the “they got us” department is that B-1B heavy bomber “decapitation” practice runs – out of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam – have been quietly “suspended”. This crucial, largely unreported fact in the air supersedes rhetoric from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Pentagon head James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who previous to Bannon’s exit were stressing “strong military consequences if North Korea chooses wrongly”.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to see a reiteration of the China-North Korea mutual defence treaty along side the worrisome proclamations of the current leader Republican Administration?  The ‘Fire and Fury’ comment, in this context, seems little more that empty words and tired grandstanding when the geopolitical realities of the situation are taken into account.

It is the responsibility of our news media to provide meaningful context to the public so they make decisions based on fact, not on the unqualified hyperbolic rantings of the current president of the United States.

Our media needs to do better, and not just cover the buffoonery that is going on the US, but provide the information necessary for those of us in the reality based community to make informed decisions and judgments.

    “Taylor Swift’s firm testimony in a civil trial this week involving a former radio host who allegedly groped her is sending a strong message to women who might experience similar forms of sexual harassment and assault: Don’t diminish the act.

“It provides a useful template for her fans, for younger girls who might experience these forms of harassment and be intimidated out of saying anything because their voice is consistently discredited,” said Karen Tongson, a professor who specializes in gender studies and pop culture at the University of Southern California.”

Constantly being discredited.  Welcome to the world of being female in society.  It’s the little details like the aforementioned that they don’t list in the Growing Up Female set of instructions.

Will Ms.Swift’s actions make a difference?  There is certainly a large mountain to climb in Canada on the issue of sexual harassment.

    “According to 2014 Statistics Canada data, 83 per cent of incidents involving sexual assault — including unwanted touching — were not reported to police. The most common reason provided by victims for not reporting the crime was that it was considered minor and not worth the bother to come forward.”

Yeah.  The violation of women’s boundaries in 2017, in Canada is still a thing.  I think perhaps our PM, before making any more “year” plus declaration statements – ala balanced cabinet – we should tackle the systematic lack of respect for the boundaries and bodies of women first.

     “The Canadian Women’s Foundation told CBC in a statement that Swift’s refusal to accept blame is “particularly important, as that often happens when seeking justice through the court system.”

Why is this important?  Because we still blame the victim for getting assaulted and harassed in our society and our institutions still reflect this patriarchal value.

Good on ya Ms.Swift for fighting the good fight and showing us what we’re up against in the battle for a female liberation in our society.

 

[Source:cbc.ca]

 

A series of screen caps of the cast replying to the notion that Wonder Woman *isn’t* a feminist icon.

  The scene from the movie being referenced is when Wonder Woman walks into a political/military meeting, of course its filled with dudes who immediately get their feathers ruffled about have a mere woman in their midst while the great male minds make weighty decisions.  WW has no fucks to give and despite the misogyny proceeds to get shit done, not being silenced and most definitely not acting like a ‘proper’ woman.

It’s right there folks, that is how we know when we have made actual progress, when a woman can do something and it appears to be natural and part of the status quo.  Just imagine the female pioneers in the hard sciences and how they must have felt surrounding by the men contaminated with the social norms that make them look at females as inferior and second class.   When females can simply exist and do their thing -just like men get to do by default – we’ll know we’ve made progress, till then it is still struggle against the patriarchal status quo.

Sexist and misogynistic shit still goes on and it needs to change so hopefully soon we can make movies about how awkward it was in 2017 that women had to fight for their right to be recognized as fully human.

Update:

 

Another common charge against Gender Critical Feminists or really, Radical Feminists in general is that they are just a small outspoken subset of Feminism, soon to be forgotten with the passage time..bla bla bla. Apparently, as demonstrated by publication in the US newspaper of record, gender critical thought isn’t going away soon, and if anything is gaining more popularity and momentum as time passes.

Lisa Selin Davis, in her opinion piece ‘My Daughter is Not Transgeneder. She is a Tomboy.’, writes the following (pardon, the formatting, these are screencaps):

 

Wow. :)  Identification of gender as the problem, correctly assessing the role of socialization, and realizing the power of gender stereotyping – all in the same article?!  I highly recommend going to read the full article on the NYT.

media

Professional entertainers cannot be the end of your disatification with the system.  Organize, agitate, and make a difference with people who share the same beliefs.  It is the only way to change society.

 

 

neo_liberalism  Much has happened in the world in the past few months. Especially since November 8, when the “left” or the “progressives” in the USA and indeed the world have been crapping their pants about some orange skinned person with homunculus like hands winning the seat of most powerful person in the world. While as concerning as this is to me (it really is), what has been more concerning to me has been how the Democratic Party and it’s supporters have been acting even before the election and their actions since. What I mean by that is, what difference does it make if Trump is in power if the alternative to him is no different or perhaps worse in some ways.

Enter Caitlin Johnstone into my radar a few weeks ago. Not only is she saying everything I have been noticing going on with the progressive side of the USA, but she does it with style and a flair that is beyond my writing skills. Her voice needs to be amplified by people who feel that the left has been co-opted by the neo-liberals in a drive to make the choice between neo-liberal and ultra-neo-liberal.

Here are some excerpts of what I love about her:

Caitlin Johnstone on the corporate media:

  “It’s been a trippy last few days, and if you’ve been listening to mainstream media it’s even trippier because everything’s on fire and we’re all about to die. In real life though, the world is still turning, the sun is still shining, and Republicans are just doing a somewhat milder version of the same idiotic dance they’ve always done. We’re essentially getting the same anti-science, anti-environment, pro-billionaire schtick we would’ve gotten had any other Republican won the presidency, minus the wars and predatory trade deals that the neocons love.

  This is hardly the goose-stepping, minority-incinerating dystopian apocalypse that the establishment media was promising us in the event of a Trump win. They’re still trying to paint it as though their alarmist prophecies have come true, but they have not. Sure it’s weird and stupid and kind of uncomfortable, but we are unquestionably living in a safer world than we would have been under a President Clinton. This is important for progressives to notice, because by cranking up the alarmism to eleven and freaking out about literally everything Donald Trump says and does, the neoliberal establishment is setting us up for their next move”

This safer world being talk about is because the No-Fly-Zone in Syria is something Candidate Clinton routinely said she would impose. In debates even.

Caitlin Johnstone on the Democratic Party’s refusal to own up to their betrayal of Sanders and refusal to change:

  “To this day, the elites of the Democratic party are doing everything they can to avoid addressing the DNC’s brazen assault on American democracy the way everyone knows they should. In any sort of functional democratic political system this outrageous scandal would have been met with unequivocal condemnation from the top to the bottom, with the President personally overseeing a complete overhaul of the Committee and all the party’s leaders apologizing profusely to the American people and doing everything they could to make it better, including a complete re-do of the primary under close, stringent oversight. Instead they’re babbling about Russian hackers and trying desperately to get the average American to care about Kremlin operatives more than they care about having to work three jobs to make ends meet in the Walmart economy.”

Caitlin Johnstone on just how awesome Tulsi Gabbard is:

  “Gabbard somehow refrained from unleashing the torrent of shrieking, profanity-laced vitriol I definitely would have blasted him with had I been in her shoes, maintained her composure without batting an eye, and patiently explained why Tapper is stupid and wrong about everything. She swatted aside the limp pundit’s feeble protestations as she finally spoke of her findings in Syria, the people’s unbelievable suffering at the hands of the terrorist insurgents, their confusion as to why the United States is backing terrorist factions, and the fact that she did not meet a single person who believed that there were moderate rebels in Syria. It’s definitely worth a watch; here’s a hyperlink if you missed it the first time.”

On why Obama doesn’t deserve special credit for commuting Chelsey Manning’s sentence:

  “In terms of what’s left of his legacy, all that Obama gets from me is one less thing to hate him for. When I’m going to bed at night, there will be one less thing on my extremely long list of evil things that he has done for me to rage about. He’s still the guy who got Chelsea Manning tortured and nearly killed. He’s still the guy who chose to let her rot in isolation long after the United Nations special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mendez stated unequivocally that Manning’s treatment was “cruel, inhuman and degrading” and after 295 legal scholars signed a letter declaring that she was being “detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.” He’s still the guy who left her in that hell hole after not one but two suicide attempts. He’s still the guy who promised to protect whistleblowers and have the most transparent administration in history, then went on to prosecute more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. The man is evil, and his ceasing to inflict more evil in this one particular area does not change that. He’s probably only doing it to bait Assange out of political asylum anyway.”

And finally Caitlin Johnstone on what I consider to be the actual problem, the neo-liberal takeover of the progressive parties in western democracies:

  “The Democrats had taken a severe beating starting with the neoliberal establishment’s evisceration of Jimmy Carter back in the late seventies and early eighties, but Bill Clinton figured out that you can still rake in big bucks from the donor class and give them everything they want in exchange as long as you pay lip service to the things the political left cares about. Under Slick Willy’s leadership, the so-called New Democrats took on the mantra of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal,” which was another way of saying they don’t care what you do in your bedroom or what color your skin is, as long as you help them crush you to death with the Walmart economy and sell your life blood to Wall Street.”

I hope these paragraphs that I have shared has encouraged you to give Caitlin a visit. She’s currently talking about how to retake the Democratic Party and why it’s important to attack the neo-liberals on the left rather than on the right. I hope you find her as awesome as I do!

 

 

 

 

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