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Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people – H. L. Menken

As freedom grows, the need to coerce and control opinion also grows if you want to prevent the great beast from doing something with its freedom. – Noam Chomsky

Public Education

Tens of millions of us are really dumb – or to be generous, profoundly misinformed – despite our educational system. Or, we have to ask, is it because of this system? In Chapter Five of my book I compare indigenous initiation traditions to mandatory – that is, forced – public education and refer to John Gatto’s classic book Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, which asks, “Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure that not one (child) ever really grows up?”

The Social Darwinists and eugenicists who designed our educational system modeled it on the one used by the militaristic Prussian state. Since then, six generations of us have endured a routine carefully designed to restrain dissent, originality and critical thinking and reduce everyone to a uniform, standardized level. Gatto, once New York state’s Teacher of the Year, quotes from early texts and distills schooling’s intent into six functions:

1 – Adjusting: establishing fixed habits of reaction to authority to preclude critical judgment.

2 – Integrating: making people as alike as possible.
3 – Diagnosing: determining everyone’s proper social role.
4 – Differentiating: sorting children by role and training them “only so far as their destination in the social machine permits.”
5 – Selecting: identifying the unfit at an early age.
6 – Finally, the propaedeutic function: teaching a minority to manage the rest, who are “deliberately dumbed down and declawed…”


Regarding number 5: As Americans copied late 19th century German teaching methods, only a generation later the Nazis openly thanked American eugenicists for modeling the selection system whose terrible logic would eventually lead to Auschwitz. And the American system would return the favor. As I mentioned previously, a tenth of American adults have never heard of the Holocaust.

Gatto concludes that American public schooling was never intended to create citizens, but servile laborers and consumers. It teaches children that they can exchange obedience (including obedience to the military) for favors and advantages. It leaves them vulnerable to marketing, which ensures that they will grow older but never grow up.

From the indigenous perspective, it reverses the age-old tradition of identifying a child’s innate and unique gifts. Older cultures really did emphasize what the Romans called educare – to identify, lead out and welcome something important that already exists. America institutionalized something quite different: instruere (to build into, instruct). The Yiddish word is more effective: schooling assumes that children come into the world with nothing and then schtups them full of information.

The latest insult is standardized testing, which converts our natural curiosity into docility and narcissism and trains middle class students not in critical thinking but merely in how to take tests. For the rest, the cruel euphemism of “No Child Left Behind” relies on threats and punishment, imposes narrow agendas, overrules local control and punishes entire schools for the failures of the few. Finally, it completely ignores the impact of poverty, which leads to the vicious circle of inadequate funding.  

New ways continually emerge for the sins of the fathers to fall upon the young. “Zero tolerance” policies allow school administrators no leeway for interpretation. Examples are endless, if tragic. A valedictorian is charged with a felony and banned from her graduation for mistakenly leaving a kitchen knife in her car. A thirteen-year-old who brings a model rocket to show in class is suspended. An eleven-year-old is jailed for bringing a plastic knife in her lunch box. A ten-year-old girl is charged with sexual harassment and suspended for asking a boy if he liked her. Mall police turn away girl scouts for being “similarly dressed.” A third of the students of a Chicago high school are expelled because of zero tolerance. It began not through political correctness, but because governments that cannot enact real gun control for adults divert the spotlight onto children. And youths convicted of any drug offense permanently lose federal financial aid (over 130,000 when I wrote my book ten years ago), even if possession laws are later overturned.

It gets crazier. We’re talking about public programs, but we’re also talking about those 25-35% of Americans who are evangelicals and who have strangleholds on state and federal budgets. Thirty-seven states require that when schools offer sex education, they must discuss abstinence, and 26 of them require that it be stressed, including censoring of textbooks. In 2017, a third of the $300 million federal funding for teen sexual health education programs was for abstinence education. All told, the feds have spent well over $2 billion on it. However, claims researcher Laura Lindberg, “…it leaves our young people without the information and skills that they need…We fail our young people when we don’t provide them with complete and medically accurate information.”

The government continues to throw money at these programs even though its own studies have shown that they have no effect on sexual behavior among youth. Worse, they generally withhold information about pregnancy and STD prevention. They don’t reduce pregnancy or STD rates, and they have no effect on adolescents delaying intercourse. However, when they do become active, many teens fail to use condoms, unlike their peers in other countries who have routine access to contraceptive education and counseling.

The final insult is that language used in abstinence-based curricula often reinforces gender stereotypes about female passivity and male aggressiveness – attitudes that often correlate with domestic violence. In Chapter Ten I assess the cumulative result:

It is likely in vast areas of the country for a girl who has been raped and impregnated by a relative to have no access to abortion (family rape is the source of 40% of teen pregnancies). She might run away with her child to escape the ongoing abuse, go on welfare (until the funds run out and the state takes the child) and become a homeless prostitute. She would be a sacrificial victim, no different in any respect from similar girls in the Middle East.

The Sacrifice of the Children: we are back in the depths of American mythology. Should we be surprised then that one result of this mad system of education has been an epidemic of illiteracy? In 1909, a century before we spoke of “white privilege”, the eugenicist and racist Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, told teachers, “We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class…a very much larger class…to forgo the privilege…”

From precisely that point, just before World War I (when the system was installed universally), literacy declined from nearly 100% to a point when, in 1973, 27% of men were rejected from military service because of functional illiteracy. Now, 14% of adults, over 30 million – including nearly 20% of high school graduates – cannot comprehend texts that are appropriate for 10-year-olds, and almost half of us cannot read well enough to understand basic health information.

Forty-two percent of college graduates never read a book after they finish school.

The even poorer quality of inner-city education for students of color is part of a much larger discussion of race and segregation in America and the deliberately exclusionary policies pursued by generations at every level of government. Here are some of my relevant essays:

Affirmative Action for Whites

Blaming the Victim

Did the South Win the Civil War?

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: The Sacrifice of American Dionysus

For now, though, we can explain why white, suburban students perform so much better on the tests with the simple fact that their school systems spend far more per pupil than urban systems can. The reason is that the U.S., nearly unique in the world, requires local jurisdictions to fund education through local property taxes. And our national obsession with scapegoating, punishment and blaming the youthful victims of capitalism has produced a situation in which most states spend more on prisons than they do on education. California is the worst, investing $65,000 per prisoner compared to $11,500 per student.

To ask why they do that – and why we allow them to do it – is to question the most fundamental aspects of American myth.

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In certain respects, the situation in private, religious education is worse. Ten percent of the sixty million students in the country attend private schools, three-quarters of which are religious. Large numbers of these 4.5 million students learn in atmospheres that are strongly misogynist at best and racist at worst. Their parents are Trumpus’ base. According to Christian researcher Robert P. Jones,  

…white Christians – including evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics –  are nearly twice as likely as religiously unaffiliated whites to say the killings of Black men by police are isolated incidents rather than part of a pattern of how police treat African Americans…White Christians are also about 20 percentage points more likely to disagree with this statement: “Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for Blacks to work their way out of the lower class.”

What about higher education? Some studies have indicated that the more educated we are, the more likely we are to support America’s wars. To Chomsky, higher education is a system of imposed ignorance in which the most highly educated people are the most highly indoctrinated. At a certain level, the distinction between stupidity and ignorance slides into willful denial. For those privileged to attend the best universities and train to become the next generation of corporate, political – and especially media – leaders,

A good education instills in you the intuitive comprehension – it becomes unconscious and reflexive – that you just don’t think certain things…that are threatening to power interests.

This entire issue of how our institutions function to dumb us down is part of something even larger than the myth of American Innocence. The myth of the killing of the children is the most fundamental narrative upon which all of Western patriarchal culture is founded. In Chapters Six and Ten of my book I discuss the immensely long narrative – beginning with Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to impress his god – in which fathers learned to invert ancient male initiation practices into the literal sacrifice of male children in the cauldron of war. Beginning with mandatory public education and continuing with the spell of advertising and mass media, that process has resulted in conditions in which our innate intelligence – our ability to discriminate and think critically – has atrophied.

Indeed, even if we retain our belief in the value of public education, this process has produced a nasty feedback mechanism in which the most ethically-challenged and hyper-ambitious individuals rise to the highest corporate and political heights, and then we continue to elect them as they shamelessly, even proudly go about destroying that institution. Why? Because they work for people who know, as Aristotle and Jefferson agreed, that if the rest of us really learned how the world works, we’d rise up and and throw them out.

Please note that nowhere in this essay do I blame teachers, thousands of whom understand exactly what I’m talking about and work within the system to actually educate — rather than instruct — their students. But in our demythologized world, that system, like all of our institutions, was designed to bring out the worst in us, not the best. We need to imagine something better.

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Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it. – Mark Twain

Our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three branches of government…You know, the House, the Senate, and the executive…my dad fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of socialism. – Tommy Tuberville

Mr. Tuberville is a retired college football coach, a climate change denier and Alabama’s new Senator. He is also an ignoramus, or at least he plays one on TV. Either way, he’s a perfect symbol for our next query: Are Americans really that freaking stupid?

I’ve explored a related question – Why are Americans so freaking crazy?  here. And I’ve argued that many New Age Yoga types have bought into the QAnon con job because they seem to lack the ability to discriminate between reality and convenient, self-serving narratives here.

It’s a no-brainer: an educated populace is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” Long before, Plato argued that men who didn’t know right from wrong shouldn’t be allowed in government. But all Greek men were expected to participate in the public sphere. Those who didn’t were known as idiotas.

So what is a well-informed populace? How do we make sense of seventy million people voting for Trumpus, more than in 2016, when they had four years to hear at least some of his 20,000 lies? Yes, I try to have compassion for those who vote against their interests. But no, I don’t have the patience to talk about meeting such people halfway. Are they stupid or just terribly misinformed? And yet – what about all those Democrats who swallowed the Russiagate lies, or those who supported Bernie Sanders’ platform but allowed the DNC to convince them that he was unelectable?

In 2010, half of us believed the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. Seventy percent couldn’t name their senators or congresspersons. Twenty percent either thought that Barack Obama was the Anti-Christ or were not sure, and 40% wanted the government to “stay out of Medicare.” Forty percent didn’t believe in evolution and could name only four of the Ten Commandments. Nineteen percent thought that conservatives oppose cutting taxes. Twelve percent of American adults believed Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.

More recently, one in three Americans would fail the citizenship test. Twelve percent think Dwight Eisenhower led troops in the Civil War. One in three believe God decides who wins sporting events. One in four believe the Sun orbits the Earth and can name all three branches of government. A third cannot name any First Amendment rights. Eighteen percent say that Muslims don’t have the same rights as Christians. Forty percent (including 25% of those with college degrees) believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago. Forty percent believe that there is a war on Christmas. We think Muslims are seventeen times as large a portion of the U.S. population as they actually are, and we think, wrongly, that most immigrants are in the country illegally. A tenth of adults have never heard of the Holocaust. Only 15% of Republicans believe that climate change is a serious problem, and 75% of them believe that the recent election was rigged.

If these lists seem skewed toward evangelicals, well, duh! That “forty percent” keeps coming up. But such folks, numerous as they are (25-35% of the U.S. population), are not the only demographic to seriously misunderstand reality. We are similarly ignorant about one of our most fundamental mythological values: social mobility, or the opportunity to get ahead. The likelihood of advancing in social class has decreased significantly since the 1980s. But 56% of those blue-collar men who correctly perceived George Bush’s 2003 tax cuts as favoring the rich still supported them. In 2000, 19% of us believed we would “soon” be in the top one percent income bracket, and another 19% thought they already were. Two-thirds expected to have to pay the estate tax one day (only two percent will).

We could go on. Even without referencing the recent presidential vote, it’s clear that large numbers of us don’t know very much. But here’s the real question: are Americans really so naturally dumb, or have we been socialized to be both uninformed and apathetic? As a progressive, I side with those who argue that we are naturally intelligent, and that the few profit by keeping the many unaware. As a mythologist, I suggest that we are in a time when our myths are collapsing, and with them, our fundamental institutions, including media, religion and government. And as we’ll see, one institution in particular – public education – was specifically designed to dumb us down.

Media

James Madison agreed with Aristotle that full democracy would lead to the poor uniting and taking the property of the rich. Aristotle’s solution was to reduce inequality, while Madison, articulating the basic contradiction of American mythology, proposed reducing democracy. This originally meant keeping citizenship away from people of color and women, the vast majority of the population. Once legal discrimination ended, it meant keeping people from voting, or distracting people from caring about voting. It meant turning tens of millions of us into idiotas.

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The media, writes Noam Chomsky, functions “to keep people from understanding the world.” An efficient system of control, a brainwashing under freedom, combines relatively free speech and press with patriotic indoctrination and marginalization of alternative voices, leaving the impression that society is really open. By limiting debate to those who never challenge our mythic assumptions of innocence and benevolence, our system maintains the illusion that we all share a common interest.

Those who control government and media allow such debate, but only when the boundaries of acceptable thought are clear. In this context, the “loyal opposition” legitimizes these unspoken limits by their very presence. The system works precisely because of our traditional freedom of expression. It distributes just enough wealth to limit dissent, while it heightens anxiety, isolates people and turns them toward symbols that create loyalty.

Ignorance is a major component of the myth of American innocence, and for seventy years, television (a third of which is advertising) has functioned to keep it that way. American children view 20,000 commercials a year. The generations raised on TV have been the first to be less well informed than their elders. This is partially a result of the impact of technology and partially due to decades of well-financed right-wing shock jocks, the loss of the Fairness Doctrine, the rise of religious programming and Fox News – an entire industry, in Rebecca Solnit’s words, that is

…devoted to convincing white people that liberal elitists look down on them…plus a political party whose leaders all understand that that idea is key to their political project and so join in the chorus at every opportunity.

But it’s also partially due to the fact that the grand old giants of the mainstream media have long been complicit in keeping Americans unaware of the massive violence perpetrated by the American empire, and failing that, in justifying it in terms of American innocence and good intentions.

This is the original “fake news”, and it comes in two forms. The first, of course, is outright if discrete lying or propaganda. The second, more subtle, is censoring, ignoring and marginalizing of ideas until they can do so no longer, at which point they begin to demonize (often with false equivalencies). Bernie Sanders is only the most recent example. The MSM know very well what not to say, and who butters their bread. As David Rockefeller candidly admitted in 1991,

We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine…whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. 

I’ve compiled many articles about how the MSM serve both the American empire and the myth of American innocence here. We know the purpose of fake news: to generate internet traffic and revenue. The worst offender, the Washington Post (owned entirely by the CIA contractor Jeff Bezos), regularly publishes terrible, sensationalistic articles that get massively re-tweeted, and then posts tiny retractions in its back pages. Glen Greenwald writes:

Whether the Post’s false stories here can be distinguished from what is commonly called “Fake News” is, at this point, a semantic dispute, particularly since “Fake News” has no cogent definition. Defenders of Fake News as a distinct category typically emphasize intent in order to differentiate it from bad journalism. That’s really just a way of defining Fake News so as to make it definitionally impossible for mainstream media outlets like the Post ever to be guilty of it (much the way terrorism is defined to ensure that the U.S. government and its allies cannot, by definition, ever commit it).

But this attempt to manage our minds is, of course, much older than the internet. And here’s an argument for our innate intelligence. Throughout the entire twentieth century, the mass media was forced to inundate the public with massive, daily anti-communist, then anti-Muslim and now anti-Russian and anti-Chinese propaganda in their effort to override our more cooperative and compassionate natures. But even so, by 2015, it was clear to millions that the MSM had long been the voice of the oligarchs. Trumpus flipped the notion to criticism of the “liberal” media and then shortened it to “the media.” And, since progressive news groups went underfunded and marginalized, Fox and its even loonier descendants appeared to be the only alternative.

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Now, the algorithms used by all the major social media platforms encourage rapid dissemination of unreliable information and the confirmation bias that results from seeing only what the viewer already believes in. Trumpus’ base have been in a curious position for years in this regard: they are intelligent enough not to believe the MSM, but having been propagandized by decades of right-wing media, they look at him and simply don’t believe their eyes.

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But let’s remember that in any large, capitalist nation the function of both mainstream and far right media is similar and twofold: to make money, and to serve the deep state by keeping people docile – or, failing that, by manipulating their prejudices. And we are not talking about something theoretical. Yes, it’s Thanksgiving and Trumpus appears to be conceding. But as Fairness in Accuracy and Reporting writes, the MSM have been

…slow to accurately convey the reality and significance of Trump’s election theft efforts…failure to report the facts much earlier is inexcusable…they cannot credibly feign ignorance…they have also run cover for the Republican Party’s complicity in enabling and actively assisting Trump’s efforts, as Trump cannot steal the election on his own.

The cliché is true; we are divided. Most of us now fall into two groups – those who consume the lies and denial of the MSM, and those who consume the lies and fear mongering of right-wing media. Since left-wing media is so underfunded, and since social media severely marginalizes it, most people are simply unaware of it. The second factor deeply impacted the past two elections in which 55% of white women decided that privilege was more important than reproductive rights, sexual autonomy, access to health and child care or solidarity with women of color. Even if such decisions produce short-term benefits, in the long run they’re killing us.

          Blame it on the black folks, blame it on the Jews, blame it on anybody not like you.
          You can blame it on the reds, you can blame it on the greens,
          But you never put the blame on the man who pulls the strings.
          …Why? Because you’re stupid. — San Francisco Mime Troupe

Next, Part Seventeen: Is it only the media, or is education itself the problem?

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How Many Elephants can fit into this Living Room?

Democratic Corruption: I don’t follow each section on Repub corruption with one on Dem corruption (or incompetence) to provide balance. I’ve had plenty to say about how the media constantly engage in false equivalencies. I do it to continue my chronicle of how this election in its entirety is merely one example of the ongoing collapse of the myth of American innocence, and of how privileged segments of our population continue to try and shore up the cracks in its façade.

We have to address some basic questions: Why didn’t the biggest turnout in history – during a recession, no less – sweep the Republicans away? Why (once again) didn’t the Democrats clobber this buffoon in massive landslides at every level? What happened to the expected “blue wave”? Why (once again) were the polls so wrong? Why did millions of people – especially in California – split their ballots, rejecting Trumpus but re-electing Republicans who supported his policies, despite the Democrats having spent over a billion dollars on Senate races? Why did 72 million people vote for Trumpus? (We’ll see: perhaps they didn’t).

Some have cited “hidden Trumpers” for the inaccurate polls. I’ve already argued against that idea, and this time it’s even less possible to use it as an excuse, because so many people voted by mail and could not be questioned in exit polls. (We should also recall Greg Palast’s research indicating that 20% of mail-in ballots are rejected.) So we can no longer study the discrepancies between official results and exit polls. This is very significant, because it is now harder to find indications of computer fraud. In fact, we should now reject the whole idea of exit polling, along with any trust in the scientific part of “Political Science.” Once the final results are published, we may be able to compare them to pre-election polls and speculate further. Meanwhile, here are some theories:

1 – Many of the Dem losses were by freshman congresspeople in essentially blue districts, where the Repubs, who cared less about Trumpus and more about Congress, had a much stronger presence on the ground and the Dems limited canvassing because of the Coronavirus. 

2 – The government provided enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks (even if it established no taxes to pay for them) to millions of households. As a result, 40% of voters thought they were better off financially than they were four years ago.

3 – Remember the “Lincoln Project” with their witty attack ads, expensive stunts (including a Times Square billboard in the uncontested locale of Manhattan) and promises to win over moderates? David Sirota suggests this was yet another con job that “convinced liberals to give them more money…than was raised by the Democratic Party’s national campaign to win state legislatures.” The result: Trumpus actually increased his share of the Republican vote and won a higher percentage of white women, compared to 2016. At best, such waste of resources convinced some moderates to reject Trumpus personally and then vote red all the rest of the way. Good for Biden, bad for the nation.

4 – Michael Bloomberg and other olligarchs donated hundreds of millions to attack Trumpus personally but little to activists on the ground, especially in Florida. Nadia Ahmad writes that this was a result of “…a deliberate decision by the leadership of the Florida Democratic Party to ignore and sideline Black, Latino, AAPI, immigrant, and Muslim voters.”

5 – The Dems allowed the Repubs to frame the “defund the police” issue into their usual “law and order” fearmongering, which certainly impacted white women. Good for Biden, bad for the nation.

6 – Matt Taibbi writes that the Dems are no longer the party of the working class:

Trump won with the sort of people who do not read The Washington Post or watch MSNBC, and disagreed with their myths…As Missouri Republican Josh Hawley put it the night of the election, “We are a working-class party now. That’s the future.”

There is some truth here, but Taibbi makes a common mistake, equating the “working class” with the white working class and not including people of color in that group. In fact, Biden’s lead among POC was about the same as Clinton’s in 2016, and it was much greater among young people. And what about that “working class” vote? Jim Naureckas suggests that we follow the money:

It’s true that Trump does 15 percentage points better among white voters without college degrees than with them—but what if class involves not just education, but money? Among the almost three-fourths of voters whose households make less than $100,000 a year, Trump trails badly: Biden showed a 15-point lead…among those who make less than $50,000 and was 13 points ahead…with the $50,000–$99,999 bracket. Only among the wealthiest quarter did Trump have a lead, winning $100,000+ households 54% to 43%.

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The power brokers, aided by the usual media gatekeepers, were very quick to blame the left for their losses (as I predicted they would do). Centrist Abigail Spanberger, one of several retired CIA officers in Congress, was particularly vocal. (Hint: there is no such thing as a “retired” CIA officer. Another hint: the DNC listens very carefully to “retired” CIA officers.)

Progressives, on the other hand, argue that in fact it was their on-the-ground organizing that brought out the urban vote and actually won the swing states, despite the party’s refusal to address economic inequality and other class issues. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted:

Anyone saying this after immigrant organizers delivered AZ, Black grassroots flipped Georgia, MI going blue w reality-bending 94% Detroit margin + @RashidaTlaib running up the margins in her district & Trump publicly challenging @IlhanMN in MN and losing isn’t a serious person.

Biden certainly shot himself (or the party) in the foot by stubbornly refusing to support Medicare for All. Even Fox News acknowledged that 72% of all voters supported it. But if the millions – overwhelmingly Democratic – who voted by mail had been polled, that number would certainly be much higher. Voters favored “bread and butter” progressive issues in many places. Colorado voted to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave. Arizona voted to increase taxes on the rich. Voters in four states approved legalizing marijuana. Even Mississippi legalized medical cannabis.

“The Squad” of progressive congresswomen doubled in size. Every congressional member who ran for reelection while supporting Medicare for All won their respective race, even if their district supported Trumpus. Altogether, 112 co-sponsors were on the ballot and all of them won their races. 98 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal were on the ballot and only one lost. Apparently, most of the Dem losses were by centrists who once again had attempted to use the old, failed tactic of ignoring the economy and appealing to moderates.

But the mystery remains. As in any good myth, we are left with more questions than answers:

1 – How many Dem votes were suppressed, purged, rejected or flipped? We know that over 300,000 ballots were checked into the mail system but not checked out of it. When a federal judge ordered USPS officials to sweep 27 processing centers for the missing ballots, they simply refused.

2 – How many votes did Trumpus actually receive? Either his official total of 72 million is real, or there was massive computer fraud. We can’t come to any conclusions on this because nobody polled the mail-in voters. But, true to form, Trumpus has already accused the Dems of flipping electronic ballots; and another thing we know is that whenever he accuses anyone of doing something illegal or unethical, we can be sure that it’s something he and the Repubs are already doing.

3 – Despite the record turnout, how many people still saw no difference between the parties and didn’t bother to vote?

4  Was the massive increase in early voting mostly in safely blue states and therefore of little importance in red states?

5 – What happened to the predicted greatest gender gap in history? Did women (white women) actually reject a woman (a Black woman) Vice President?

6 – Why did immense numbers of people who favored progressive causes also vote for Trumpus? In Florida the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr won by a landslide – 60% of the state’s 11 million votes, or 6,600,000 votes (in 2018, 65% had voted to restore voting rights to ex-felons). Trumpus received 51.2%, or 5,640,000 votes. That means that over a million Floridians voted for raising the minimum wage but also for Trumpus. We might understand this if pre-election pollsters had asked questions like this: “If you vote for Biden, will you also support the other Dems on the ballot — or vice versa?”

“Or will you leave the rest of your ballot blank and go home?” Joe Brunoli writes:

 

Biden had zero coat tails. But then, that was never the point...In Maine, for example, Biden won handily, but so did Susan Collins, a candidate all the polls had losing by double digits. Collins won by 55,000 votes. But 50,000 voters who voted for the top of the ticket failed to cast a vote in that Senate race. You can bet those voters were Biden voters. Or, more aptly put, they were “single issue” voters whose single issue was getting rid of Trump...

Let’s look at Florida’s 26th and 27th Congressional Districts, which include Miami-Dade County. Although Biden lost Florida, he won BOTH these Districts comfortably...(However) The incumbent Democrat for FL26, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, lost by almost 12,000 votes. Likewise, the incumbent Democrat for FL27, Clinton retread Donna Shalala, also lost by almost 10,000 votes...

Both these losers were “moderates” who opposed Medicare For All and remained silent on Florida’s Amendment 2 to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour (the amendment won with 62%). Both candidates had won primaries against progressives who did support Medicare For All as well as other progressive policies. Both were enthusiastically and publicly supported by Nancy Pelosi...

In Georgia, Jon Ossoff is down by 90,000 votes in his race against the Republican David Perdue. But 98,000 voters who voted for President failed to vote in this race. Republicans never neglect to vote. These blank ballots were from Biden voters.

Here is the real explanation for what happened in the congressional races. Beyond that, it’s safe to say that election commissioners in most of those 26 Repub-controlled states gamed the electronic voting machines to flip five percent of the votes, enough to retain the Senate and several congressional seats. But that still leaves Trumpus with over 65 million votes. Indeed, if we factor out California, the vote split nearly 50-50.

And millions of “moderates” were so unimpressed with Biden’s brand of liberalism that, even as they expressed their personal disgust with Trumpus, they still preferred conservative economic policies, male supremacy and outright racism.

In other words, the politics of fear always trump touchy-feely liberalism when it isn’t backed by strong, progressive policy. And the DNC, made immensely rich by its contributors, simply doesn’t care. As Chris Hedges writes:

If there is one group that deserves our deepest contempt it is the liberal elites, those who posture as the moral arbiters of society while abandoning every value they purportedly hold the moment they become inconvenient…Biden’s campaign was utterly bereft of ideas and policy issues, as if he and the Democrats could sweep the elections by promising to save the soul of America.

Johnstone adds:

There’s no point telling the Democratic establishment that Bernie would have won. They know Bernie would have won. That’s why they stopped him.

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Realistic cynicism vs reframing:

The likely situation in 2021 is a perfect, wet-dream scenario for the national security state and the oligarchy. Even if the Dems prevail in the Georgia runoffs and take control of the Senate, Biden will change nothing in foreign policy but will still be responsible for any major blunders. And if he faces a hostile Senate, he’ll fail to pass any useful domestic legislation, but he’ll be able to blame the Repubs rather than his own lack of vision. He’ll have a perfect excuse for not being able to stack the Supreme Court or push statehood for Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia.

And, since members of the Cabinet are subject to confirmation by the Senate, Mitch McConnell will ultimately decide who Biden can pick, and not only members of the Cabinet. A President gets some 4,000 appointments, but 1,200 of them must be confirmed by the Senate. Four years of ineffectiveness will lead to a Republican takeover of the House in 2024.

The reframe: The Dems win both runoffs in Georgia and flip the Senate. Biden (who has already pledged to be a one-term president) realizes that he’s too old to be intimidated by the corporate power brokers anymore, and actually does what the public wants. He cuts the defense budget and completely withdraws from the Middle East. He comes out for Medicare for All, appoints dozens of federal judgeships, stacks the Supreme Court – thus saving abortion and LGBTQ rights – and offers statehood to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, thus ensuring the progressive agenda for decades.

Hey, why not? May it be so. Next, Part Sixteen: Are Americans are just plain stupid? If we are, why?

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America will have a Presidential President again in Joe Biden. – The New Yorker

How does that phrase land on your soul? Are you cheering the downfall of the fascist Trumpus (as I certainly am) and a step back from the precipice of irreversible climate change? Are you celebrating a return to “normalcy”? Or are you one of the millions of people who rejected him but apparently still supported his policies?

On 11/7 Biden was declared the winner – not officially, by the government, but by the four major media networks, who in our American mythology have asserted the superior moral function traditionally held by the clergy. On the 11th, I took a short walk around my Oakland neighborhood and saw twelve American flags hanging from front porches. Sure, it was Veteran’s Day, but most of them had been up for several days in a mass expression of that same mythology.

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Republican corruption: The oligarchs were also celebrating something – their tax breaks, their complicit Senate and their captive judiciary – and it began to appear that they no longer have any use for their useful idiot. Fox News was the first network to call Arizona for Biden (days before the others) and refused to retract that decision even when Trumpus personally called Rupert Murdoch. Laura Ingraham announced that Trumpus should accept defeat “with grace and composure,” while Fox suspended the horrid Jeanine Pirro for insisting that the election had been rigged.

Republican leaders criticized his frivolous lawsuits and piously insisted that all ballots should be counted! Most seemed to be content with the results, but Newt Gingrich continued stoking the QAnon-fueled fires of hatred and anti-semitism. The election was “a left-wing power grab, financed by people like George Soros…”

The national state of anxiety will continue at least until December 14th, when the electoral college votes to certify Biden’s election. Prior to that date, all states must officially select their electors by December 8th. Until then, any state legislature (26 of them have republican majorities) can theoretically override the popular vote and appoint any electors they like.

Trumpus was keeping notions like this alive with over 130 fundraising post-election emails (by 11/10), along with demands for recounts and dozens of bogus lawsuits (15 in Pennsylvania alone), so as to maintain the charged emotional state of his supporters, who, despite their privileges, continue to see themselves as victims. And he was doing this not because there are any real possibilities of changed results, but because, a con man to the end, he can still soak them for more money, with half of all donations (in fine print) going to pay down his election debt. And, as David Cay Johnston writes, Trumpus

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…will be in a position to exact revenge, a word that by his own account is his entire life philosophy... (through) firing officials, issuing pardons to friends and family and other acts Trump can do great damage between now and Inauguration Day, when his shield against criminal prosecution vanishes. He can also hobble the transition to a Biden administration.

However, everything changed by 11/8 when it became clear that both of Georgia’s Senate seats (and the Republican Senate majority) were still in play and would go to January runoffs. Republican leaders quickly reversed course and supported Trumpus’ refusal to concede, joining him in his attempt to arouse the faithful. On 11/10, Mike Pompeo announced, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” At least four Republican Senate and House candidates who’d lost by wide margins also refused to concede. The deluge of lies had its effect: 70 percent of Republicans now say they don’t believe the election was free and fair (up from 35% only two weeks ago).

Trumpus Jr., Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and others brought the con job out into the open by reminding Republican-dominated state legislatures that they can still override the popular vote in their states. Can these “faithless electors” really do this? Snopes fact checkers think not:

Any state’s legislature could, theoretically, pass a law setting out a new method for designating presidential electors other than popular vote. However, they would have to enact such a law prior to Election Day; they could not retroactively change, or just disregard, their current laws to defy the will of voters. State election laws and regulations must be established and in place prior to Election Day — they cannot be improvised or instituted on an ad hoc basis after the fact.

David Sirota writes:

Republicans would have to get not one but many of the five Biden states with GOP legislatures to try to ignore the popular vote…Congress would also have a role to play deciding which electors to recognize, which gives the House Democratic majority some leverage. And it’s not clear that any of the maneuvers would hold up in court…

Snopes, however, adds a qualification:

… the law is only relevant to the extent that is it enforceable. If Republican-dominated legislatures were determined to flout their state laws regarding the designation of electors, and a Republican-controlled Senate were willing to facilitate the scheme, and a conservative judiciary were compliant in upholding the results, then such a plot might indeed succeed.

And if such madness were to reach the Supreme Court, it would encounter three justices who worked directly on the Bush v. Gore case that stole the 2000 election and led directly to the “War on Terror.”

Meanwhile, if the media are the moral gatekeepers of our society, the lawful gatekeeper is the nonpartisan General Services Administration, which is supposed to acknowledge the winner of the election and assist him financially in the transition. Its head, a Trumpus appointee, is refusing to do so.  

image16_custom-4c9be3a24736e8ef26663debc2219333ed960566.png?w=300&profile=RESIZE_710x                                                              Boston, 1976

But really, beyond the obvious moral and social justice issues and all the hard work and money spent, exactly why are people so emotionally moved at the possibility that Trumpus might steal the election? Perhaps the answer lies in the mythology of American innocence and the anthropology of American nationalism. Ever since the end of the Civil War, non-violent, rational, polite, good-natured acknowledgement of the transfer of power has been our quadrennial, ritual expression of our shared sense of national purpose.

At least for good-hearted liberals, who still maintain a naïve belief in the inviolability of our institutions (one of those institutions is education, and we’ll look at that in the next installment), to call the will of the voters into question in this manner is to question our entire identity. In this post-modern world, where ideology and grand narratives of meaning have mostly lost their attraction, just exactly who are we if not Americans, and who are Americans if we aren’t free and equal and if we don’t share our traditional democratic ideals and aspirations? Why, as believers in our national religion – Americanism – do we call ourselves patriots, unlike people in most other countries who use the more appropriate term – nationalists?

In their profoundly important book, Blood Sacrifice and the Nation, Carolyn Marvin and David Ingle write that Presidential elections are “contrived fertility rites of mating between the people and a leader” in which we periodically announce the rebirth of our democratic institutions, those social agreements that remind us of who we are and what makes us different from other people. The very fact of uncertainty “heightens ritual by investing it with consequence.” In this context, the flag

…has a visual power and presence for its believers that is comparable to the medieval crucifix…the sacred object of the religion of patriotism…It represents the sacrificed bodies of its devotees just as the cross, the sacred object of Christianity, represents the body sacrificed to a Christian god…

In Christianity the revivified totem is the risen Christ. In American nationalism the transformed totem is the soldier resurrected in the raised flag. On the basis of his sacrifice the nation is rejuvenated. As the embodiment of sacrifice, the flag has transforming power. Certain acts cannot be performed except in its presence. It must be kept whole and perfect, as holy things are…

…What counts for the survival of the group is what we will do in public on its behalf while congregants bear witness…The sanctity of national symbols is protected by treating them gesturally as sacred, even while we insist in language that they are not. And when the god commands it, we must perform the ritual sacrifice, war, that sustains the group.

I think it will be – a long time from now – an indication that this society has matured when we begin to see fewer national flags and more Earth flags.

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Is there a sense of anxiety expressed in our flag display? Here’s one more quote of theirs, on the significance of proper election procedure:

The losing candidate is an immediate sacrifice. The inaugural includes the ritual death of the old king whose willing submission defines democratic procedure.

It’s nearly a week since the networks called the election for Biden. And now it’s been several days since Trumpus cranked up the anxiety levels once again by not only refusing to concede, but by (for his own reasons, of course) pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes (It’s rigged!).

Now it occurs to me that those flags around my neighborhood are not only gestures of celebration. Perhaps they are prayer flags.

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Soul and Inspiration

Inspiration happens from deep within the visionary world. While reading, sensing spontaneous intuitive flashes, and dreaming with vivid imagery, we experience the world of the spiritual imagination. CG Jung called the soul a vessel filled with grace or spirit, energy dramatized in literary images, intuitive flashes, and nightly visions known as dreams. Dramatic images encountered during reading and spirit-filled dreams while sleeping are inspirations from the visionary world’s wellspring known as soul.

We are soulful beings. When reading, we knock on the door of soul and quietly enter, words and story leading us to nourishment for the day. Daily reading nourishes the mind and heart as much as food does the body. I find that my soul, composed of both my intellectual mind and emotional heart, grows hungry to read. I can read myself full and satiate my literary appetite by taking an hour a day to open my books and savor words, story, and meaning.

Visions while Reading

As we settle into the beat and rhythm of reading, we enter a visionary state. It’s a trance state that ushers us into another world. That world is as real as the one in which we spend our waking hours. Regardless of the story, memories and unexpected images well up and sometimes bring us to tears or passionately convict us. Well-crafted stories open our minds and hearts to new perspectives on old problems or relax us into a sleep populated by spirits in various guises.

Spirits are archetypal, ancient energies that incarnate in the visionary/dream world. In soulful stories, ones birthed from a free flow of images from the unconscious mind, there is a world of spirits at work. They inhabit the images of the protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters. Reading suspends the ego mind so creative energies can make their way up from the shadowlands of the unconscious and touch our consciousness. Life is better for the time taken to tend the soul with heartfelt words and mysterious narratives.

Spirits Inspire and Transform

When reading and entering the spirit world of imagination, there is potential to feel changed. Sometimes it’s movement into relaxation. Other readings mean shock and necessary unsettledness about how we have seen the world. Soul growth unsettles entrenched states of mind that now need to be examined in a new light.

Inspiration means to be filled with spirit. I remember learning this understanding in my undergraduate days studying ancient Greek. Spirits of the visionary world, what shamans and mystics call the spirit realm, are at work during storytelling and reading. Savoring a story each day is a powerful opportunity to drink from the wellspring of literary life. The soul, a vessel filled with spirit, hungers to read and discover nourishment, inspiration, and transformation out of what has once been and is now gone by, and movement into what lies ahead.

“Live Deeply…Read Daily”

https://www.pauldeblassieiii.com/blog/soul-reading-and-the-visionary-world/

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Part Thirteen – El Dia de los Muertos

Republican Corruption: By claiming that Trumpus is leading in the polls and repeating his claims that he can only lose through foul play, conservative media are setting the stage for potential violence. Trumpus Jr. has called for “every able-bodied man and woman to join Army for Trump’s election security operation.” A private mercenary group, Atlas Aegis, has recruited former soldiers to watch polling places in Minnesota. Police pepper-sprayed Black people at a peaceful rally in North Carolina, literally preventing them from voting. Armed thugs threatened a Biden campaign bus, forcing cancellation of an event in Texas, and Trumpus praised them. Michigan’s Attorney General proclaimed a ban on guns at polling places, but sheriffs and police announced that they would refuse to enforce it. A caravan of Trumpus supporters temporarily blocked people from voting in Southern California. As if they needed any more encouragement, Trumpus bellowed:

That’s why they’re talking about the 25th Amendment, right? Three weeks. Three weeks in, Joe’s shot! Let’s go, Kamala, you ready? Most liberal person in the Senate. She makes Bernie Sanders look like a serious conservative.

Brett Kavanaugh handed down an opinion shamelessly justifying voter suppression and setting a precedent for the Supreme Court to intervene in a disputed election. The Republicans claim to have an army of lawyers on election day who already have over 300 lawsuits underway in 44 states to try to stop the counting of mail-in ballots.

Polling, the good news: Women are trending strongly to the left, contributing to the largest gender gap since they began to vote a hundred years ago. The bad news: Partially due to the Democrats’ incomprehensible refusal to fully value them, Latino men continue to trend more conservative, and Biden’s average lead among Latinos in Florida is 9 points lower than Hillary Clinton’s was at this time four years ago.

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Early voting, the good news: 95 million people have already voted, the majority of them Democrats. Over a quarter of them appear to be new or infrequent voters. Blacks and younger people are turning out in higher numbers than in 2016.

The bad news: We have no idea how many of those votes are being rejected. But we do know what Greg Palast has been telling us. Nearly seventeen million Americans – one in twelve of all previously registered voters – have been purged from the voter rolls, and many of them have never been informed of the fact. What we’ll never know is how many people have stood or will stand in line for hours only to be surprised to learn that they will not be allowed to vote:

In total, no less than 5,872,857 ballots were cast and never counted in 2016. In addition, a minimum of 1,982,071 voters were blocked from casting their ballots. That is a total of 7,854,928 votes and voters left uncounted.

According to the US Civil Rights Commission, the chance your vote will be disqualified as “spoiled” is 900 percent more likely if you’re Black than if you’re white. As I’ve been arguing from my series on that election, the only way we’ll be able to gauge the extent of the voter suppression and the computer fraud is to carefully study the discrepancy between the official results and the exit polls.

Exit polls are the State Department’s own “gold standard” used to measure the honesty of – and in several cases – decertify elections in other countries, such as Nicaragua and Uganda. Our own Agency for International Development (a well-known front for the CIA) has stated: “A discrepancy between the aggregated choices reported by voters and the official results may suggest, but not prove, that results have been tampered with.” Indeed.

George W. Bush was never elected President. In 2000, exit polls gave Al Gore the win in Florida. In 2004 they gave John Kerry the win in Ohio, but its Secretary of State had complete control of the electronic voting machines and almost certainly flipped the vote, giving the election to Bush. Do you remember how exit polls showed Kerry with a huge lead that mysteriously evaporated in the evening – after the polls closed? Do you remember how, at almost exactly the same moment, the U.S. refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Ukrainian election – because of the exit polls?

So how, asks Palast, could these professinal statisticians with decades of experience get exit polls so wrong? Answer: they didn’t. The polls in Florida in 2000 were accurate. That’s because exit pollsters can only ask, “How did you vote?” What they don’t ask, and can’t, is, “Was your vote counted?”

Wisconsin, by the way, uses machines that have been banned in California precisely because they are easy to tamper with. Other machines come with special “ballot protection” software to prevent this sort of thing. But in 2004, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell gave specific instructions to disable that software.

In 2016 exit polls were conducted in 28 states. In 23 of them the discrepancies between the exit polls and the vote count favored Trump. In 13 of them those discrepancies exceeded the margin of error.  

In a week or two, we may have to recall that Edison Research, the company that conducts exit polling for the mainstream media, has admitted that it massages its exit poll data once official vote counts have been released to align the exit poll numbers with the electronic vote totals. Indeed, the whole argument about vote flipping is possible only because researchers have been able to post those exit polls before Edison can change them.

May this not be necessary. May this election be a step back from the precipice of irreversible climate change. May Biden win so early and by such a wide margin – despite the millions of Democratic votes that will not be counted – that neither right-wing mobs, nor right-wing lawyers, nor the Supreme Court can contest the results. And, despite his own history, may he respond to the real needs of suffering people. It could happen, all of it.

If it doesn’t happen, check the exit poll discrepancies where Republicans control the vote counting apparatus. Watch how quickly the Democrats blame their own left wing. Watch how the pollsters blame their mistakes on “hidden Trump voters.” Notice how soon the New York Times recommends that next time, the Democrats should move further to the center. And check your belief in the myth of American innocence.

In the meantime, check how the last-minute, high-rolling gamblers are betting, and what Trumpus’ “liaison for Christian policy,” Pastor Frank Amedia is predicting:

God has heard the prayer of repentance from this nation and God’s people. He told us the other night while we we’re praying, five plus five…‘If we just add 5 percentage points to every state, to every senator, and to the president, and take away five from the opposition, from those who are not pro-life, who are not lined up with the kingdom of God, that’s 10. Ten is the fullness of God, five plus five.

He also predicts that if Biden wins (moo it be so),

Wait until animalism (sic) becomes acceptable and somebody can marry a cow and have perverse sex with them. You think I’m laughing. That’s what’s going to come.

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Part One: The Appeal of Conspiracy Thinking

I’m intrigued by how many conspiracy theories are gaining traction today, and wondering how so many fellow citizens of my country can believe them. I see news interviews with people who believe such outrageous things, but in every other way they look and act like typical Americans while confirming that they think something is real that, in fact, has been discredited many, many times because there are no actual facts to back it up.

Yet, there are reasons for people to seek some order in what appears to be a chaotic world. In a global society where everyone and everything is interconnected, it is very difficult to predict what will happen next. Spiritual traditions and religions have always taught that there are divine forces acting in the world, and, some say, also demonic ones. When these are consensual beliefs in the culture, they can be calming. But while they sometimes may produce a virtuous society, they also can lead to an Inquisition, as happened after the Black Plague so long ago. In a diverse society such as ours, we do not share one easy faith that can support us all, but neither do we run the risk of falling into a wrong-headed uniformity.

Inner order does exist in apparent chaos, and  it makes sense that we seek it. Contemporary chaos theory tells us that within what seem to be random events there is always an underlying order that can be discovered, often through computer modeling. In psychology, C.G. Jung coined the word “synchronicity” to describe meaningful coincidences that cannot be logically explained. Many people today find inner peace and coherence from spirituality, too. The archetypes that I work with also provide some ways to notice recurring psychological or psycho-spiritual patterns in oneself and the world around us.

My interest in conspiracy theories comes from what they tell us about human psychology, so I approach this topic with a sympathetic mindset. Thinking about myself and where conspiracy thinking has hooked me, I remember living in a period many years ago when our society was changing quickly and things seemed chaotic. At that same time, I also was confused, with a psyche in turmoil, having abandoned many of the beliefs I had been raised with but not yet sure what might take their place.

Just then, I became entranced by The Crying of Lot 49, a Thomas Pynchon novel of some note.  In it, the main character, Oedipa Maas, receives a letter from a law firm telling her that her ex-boyfriend has died and named her the executor of his estate. From there, she begins to notice all sorts of coincidences that lead her from one to the other, as might happen in a crime novel. She feels as if she is onto a conspiracy of some sort but does not know if it is redemptive or a serious threat, and the reader never finds out the answer.

Thinking back on how caught up I was in Oedipa’s search helps me understand the appeal of intuiting underlying, unseen realities that seem to make sense of things in a chaotic time. Like Oedipus, who put out his eyes, we are all a bit blind to what is going on that has not risen to the surface, so we may constantly be surprised by events we did not see coming—in my lifetime, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa, people not fitting into categories of male and female, and, fairly recently, the election of an ultraconservative president at a time when the views of most citizens were becoming more liberal. It would be scary for me to be walking around blind, not knowing where I would stumble, and it is unnerving to live in today’s world with a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and a citizenry that is so at odds with one another that it cannot come together to govern itself civilly.

I’ve been helped in understanding this situation by neuroscience. It turns out that our brains crave meaning, so much so that when actual truth about something is not apparent or is distrusted, the brain just serves one up. Very typically, classic conspiracy stories take a situation that is complex and not easily understood and then find someone to blame for it. Ideally this will be a group that the audience being targeted by the story already is threatened by. Gradually, more and more stories pile up about sequentially more and more outrageous crimes.  The plotline then creates a narrative about who will save consumers of this narrative from this menace. Generally, someone this audience already likes is portrayed as their savior. This triggers confirmation bias, and with it a small, positive dopamine high, reinforcing not just the rightness of liking this person but also the entire conspiracy narrative.

Part Two: QAnon As a Case Study

As you might guess, my puzzlement has been triggered by the success of QAnon. News about this is all over the place, but one source I consider accurate is an article by technology columnist Kevin Roose of the New York Times on September 28, 2020. He writes: “QAnon is the umbrella term for a sprawling set of internet conspiracy theories that allege, falsely, that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Mr. Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.” The desired outcome is that the president would reveal these evil people, round them up, and punish them for their crimes, after which the country would become a utopia. Some elements of QAnon reference demon sperm, aliens, and other forces operating in the “deep state” of the U.S. government. One such adherent actually shot up a pizza parlor in the Washington, DC area, believing that Hillary Clinton was engaged in the child sex trade out of its nonexistent basement, an event now referred to as PizzaGate.

Contemporary conspiracy theories do not share the entire picture all at once, and people keep making up new elements. Part of their appeal is the search, with people going from one social media site to another to find pieces of the puzzle and put it together themselves. It feels like being a detective and finding a secret that few, if any, know. And, it provides a sense of meaning. It is like my identifying with Oedipa in the Crying of Lot 49, only better, because the story is presented as fact, not fiction.

The Sage archetype theoretically supports curiosity to find truth, but when people cannot face the truths they fear, it will swerve to seek what it is they actually want to believe. Conspiracy theories that succeed in engaging many people typically also seem for a time to fulfill primary human needs. Think for a moment of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: people need to achieve, sequentially, safety, security, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization to be fully free and independent beings. Believers in QAnon and other conspiracies can feel safe and secure because they think they are going to be saved, they have a sense of belonging to this secret in-group, and gain self-esteem from being in the know, while others are not.

Successful conspiracy theories also build on the dilemma people face living in a democracy and a capitalist economy where the pressure to compete and achieve is constant. Most of us have found some way to feel like winners to avoid being losers. This could be from being successful, perhaps rich (or at least self-supporting) or famous (or having the most likes on social media), or by winning a contest in some arena. A sense of worthiness could result from being “right” because of being educated, and thus knowledgeable, or having access to the one true religious faith, to avoid being in wrong. It also can come from being moral, either by adhering to a moral code or by being loving and kind and caring for others—either way, avoiding being bad.

Most conspiracy theories portray those whom their followers disdain as losers, wrong, and bad, even if the truth is that they threaten the adherents by seeming to be more successful, right, or good. This can then spiral down into demonizing those the conspiracy-minded do not like, and providing the satisfaction of imagining them being punished or even killed.

This pattern can be observed not only in QAnon adherents, but in many of us. Thus, the question becomes: how do we vaccinate ourselves from falling into our own versions of such traps? According to psychiatrist C.G. Jung, we all have a shadow of the parts of ourselves we repress, often rightly, so that we do not kill, steal, and so on. Most of us repress those qualities that we do not approve of or have been told are shameful. However, this also is where weird beliefs can spring from, because it is where we are unconscious.

So, what would be in the shadow of a person or group that projects onto others a deep state plot, with aliens, demon sperm, and child sex trafficking? To me, that might indicate shame at feeling “other” and not fitting in. Guilt about impulses that a person does not want to admit are his or her own are the most likely to be projected. A fantasy about others engaging in sex trafficking can be triggered by experiences of being abused or shamed as a child or by shaming your own inner child, especially related to the expression of sexual feelings believed to be inappropriate or wrong. Along with this, believing in a deep state in the government might suggest one’s own desire to exercise control over others so as to make them become as you wish they would be, accompanied by a feeling of powerlessness, and thus a desire to be saved by some group or individual.

The more we avoid what we do not want to see in ourselves, the easier it is to fall into demonizing others.

Part Three: The Vaccine to Prevent Conspiracy Thinking in Ourselves

  • Be yourself. Observing people around me, I know that those who have gotten to Maslow’s stage of self-actualization seem to be relatively immune to comparing themselves with others, and hence have less motivation to attack them as wrong, losers, and bad. They often are satisfied simply to be their best selves. Being comfortable just being our best selves is an important element in developing an immunity to the conspiracy-thinking virus.
  • Check the story you are thinking against the facts. Engage your Sage curiosity in listening to people who have direct experience of the issue at hand and who avoid being ideologues. People are less likely to believe untruths about the area of life where they have direct experience. For example, I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area long enough at various times to know that those in the civil service generally are patriotic, dedicated to the mission of their agency, and well-versed in research that tells them how best to accomplish that. You also can check where there is scientific consensus and where there isn’t. That is why people who believe outlandish things actually may be normal in the areas of their lives in which they have direct knowledge of what is real and what isn’t. It could be that they just watched television series like House of Cards or Scandal, or, years ago, The X-Files, and took them as mirrors of reality, or that they are being told falsehoods by authorities that they trust. Check your thinking against what actually has been proven to be true and with others closer to the situation at hand than you are to promote your immunity to conspiracy thinking.
  • Get your primary needs met. Take steps to feel as safe and secure as you can and affiliate with others, so that you know you belong, seeking out groups that do not require blind obedience or conformity. Do the best you can to contribute your own gifts and strengths, so that you know you matter in the world and thus have self-esteem that comes from actual achievement. If these are in place, the conspiracy virus will have no access to invade your psyche.
  • Get acquainted with your shadow. We can begin to identify our own shadows by identifying the people and actions that we abhor and cannot stop thinking about. Our situation is even more acute if we begin to fantasize about something bad happening to them. When we notice what it is we dislike that they do, we can then search out whether we might have the slightest bit of that attitude in ourselves, even if only in our thoughts, not our actions. We still may not like what others are doing, but much of our distress may dissipate once we experience the tiniest hint of fellow feeling. This can restore our own inner calm, so that our opinion about someone else does not have to ruin our day, the week, or that period of our lives. It also vaccinates us against starting to believe conspiracy theories about that person or group.

We are in a time that requires us to face the major problems before us. If we give in to the temptation to feel good about ourselves by demonizing others, any of us can begin to slip into a fantasy alternative universe. Meanwhile, real collective threats keep worsening without being addressed. Such escapes do not protect us against their inevitable result. And, to solve those challenges, we will have to be able to work with people who do not share our views.

It is my fervent hope that these vaccine ideas help you to stay focused on what is real and on what you can do about it, and on who you need to work with to do so. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject and what has worked for you—or not worked!

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Could you imagine if I lose? I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country…I could raise more money. I would be the world’s greatest fundraiser, but I just don’t want to do it. – Trumpus, 10/15

Existing emotional instability or psychotic tendencies may be aggravated by corticosteroids. – Warning label for Dexamethasone, Trumpus’ anti-Covid medicine.

Thank you so much for your leadership. – Diane Feinstein to Lindsay Graham, concluding the Amy Coney Barrett hearing.

I am the least racist person in this room. – Trumpus, second debate

Republican Corruption: Trumpus continued to play the old Nazi strategy, accusing his opponents of things that the Republicans themselves are doing or planning to do, especially voter fraud. He mocked Biden for vowing to “listen to the scientists”; accused him of leading an “organized crime family”; demanded his arrest along with that of Obama and the Clintons; called Kamala Harris a “monster”; insulted Dr. Fauci (“a disaster”), reporters (“criminal” and “a radical left Democrat”), CNN (“bastards”) and Michigan governor Gretchen Witmer, refusing to condemn the militia terrorists who had planned to kidnap her.

The Vice-Presidential debate revealed little other than, as Fair.org wrote, “You can’t have a real debate if one party refuses to follow the rules” – such as actually answering the questions – and moderators can’t or won’t enforce them. It did reveal that Pence – and, soon after, Amy Coney Barrett – like their boss, would not commit to supporting a peaceful transfer of power.

California Republicans installed bogus ballot drop-off boxes and refused to remove them. USPS agents raided the home of a QAnon-supporting postal worker and found a massive amount of undelivered mail. The Postal Service itself still hasn’t reversed its election mail slowdown, despite multiple court orders. Sheldon Adelson, whose company had received $700 million in tax cuts, donated another $75 million to Trumpus.

The Supreme Court: Since Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation was a foregone conclusion, the least the Democratic Senators might have done was ask serious questions that she couldn’t avoid answering, and they didn’t. The broader issue is what a Biden presidency and a Democratic Senate might do to offset the majority of reactionaries on the court. So far, Biden has allowed Trumpus to set the terms, accusing him of planning to “pack the court.” The real issue, however, is that for three decades or more, the Republicans have done exactly that, from the Supreme down through the various levels of federal judgeships. Mitch McConnell blocked over a hundred of Obama’s nominations. This contributed to a long-term situation in which all but six of the 114 justices to sit on the court have been white men. Trumpus has filled 200 judicial vacancies with 85% white and 76% male appointees. Today, nearly 60% of all sitting federal judges are white men.

Early Voting, The Good News: The well-publicized news of Republican voter suppression tactics may cause some people to stay home in despair. But in the short run, these plans appear to have backfired, motivating vast numbers of people to vote early. Over fifty million have endured the long waits to cast their ballots in numbers that dwarf all previous elections, and it appears that the great majority are Democrats. 

The Bad News: No one knows how many people leave without voting because they can’t tolerate the long lines, caused by the fact that Republicans have closed 1,688 polling places in the last six years, primarily in minority neighborhoods. Over five million Americans remain disenfranchised and unable to vote.

In several places, those who remain in line have endured insults and threats not seen since the Jim Crow era. In Memphis, a poll worker was fired for turning away early voters wearing Black Lives Matter shirts. A Miami policeman packed a gun and wore a Trumpus face mask inside a polling place. In primarily Black and Hispanic East Dallas only one in six voting machines were working. In Virginia, Trumpus thugs tried to obstruct people from entering a polling site. This was clearly a dry-run for November 3rd.

Democratic Corruption: Dianne Feinstein praised Lindsay Graham’s leadership of the Barrett hearings, going so far as to hug him. Was this an ironic gesture or just what it looked like – one old conservative acknowledging that she shares 80% of her values with another? Or, more ominously, did her hug reveal Biden’s actual priorities? In September, he had chirped, “I’m not opposed to the justice…She seems like a very fine person.” Perhaps even more ominously, it was reported than Biden was vetting various Republicans for positions in his post-Trumpus cabinet.

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The role of the FBI: Trumpus attempted to smear Biden with accusations about his son Hunter in a story with so many holes that even Fox News wouldn’t touch it. FBI Director Wray dismissed it as part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Given the prevalence of fake news, especially around the Russiagate narrative, I certainly don’t know if the allegations are bogus. The point is that here – and by breaking up the kidnapping attempt on Gretchen Wittmer – the FBI is, once again, getting involved in the election. We recall James Comey’s announcement that he was investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails just eleven days before the 2016 election. No one knows what any of this means. Anyone who says they do has their own agenda. But in broader terms, it fuels my own speculation that this election – like every election since at least 1964 – is essentially nothing more than a food fight between various elements within the ruling class. These are people who agree on 95% of foreign policy issues and 75% of domestic issues. These are people who are divided into those who prefer to provoke China and those who prefer to provoke Russia.

Do either of these guys really want to be elected? For Trumpus, see his “Maybe I’ll have to Leave the country” quote. As for Biden, see anything in the “Democratic corruption” section above.

An October Surprise? These things have happened with such regularity over the years that the phrase itself has attained cliché status. Every day now, minor surprises are assaulting us, but the really big one – provoking of a military confrontation with Iran remains a strong possibility. On October 9th Trumpus bellowed to Rush Limbaugh, “If you fuck around with us, if you do something bad to us, we are going to do things to you that have never been done before!”

Some of these October surprises may or may not have swayed earlier elections. But even talking about them can divert our attention from something more profound – the November Surprise of massive computer fraud in each of the 26 states that have Republican Secretaries of State. You may want to review my argument about this in Part One of this series, or in my discussion of the 2016 election. The discrepancies between the official results and the exit polls revealed then the extent of this criminal behavior, and they will next month as well.

1024px-party_affiliation_of_current_united_states_secretaries_of_state.svg_.png?w=300&profile=RESIZE_710x                                         Republican Secretaries of State in Red

Hidden Trumpers? Biden signs are everywhere in my city of Oakland, along with countless BLM signs, and zero Trumpus signs. However, Trumpus did receive around 5% of the vote here in 2016. We can assume that very few of them were cast in (primarily Black) West Oakland or in (primarily Brown) East Oakland. So most of those votes came from the more affluent white neighborhoods like mine. If we assume the same 5% this time, then it follows that perhaps a fifth of my neighbors will do so, and that many of them are either afraid or ashamed to advertise their preferences – or to even tell pollsters.

Their votes of course will be meaningless in calculating California’s electoral votes, just as Biden supporters in Mississippi might as well stay home. But this does bring up the question of what social scientists refer to as social desirability bias. And opinions vary. Right-wing sites like this one quote a survey finding that 11.7% of Republicans said they would not report their true opinions on telephone polls, compared to 5.4% of Democrats. 

Unsurprisingly, writers on liberal sites such as Ariel Edwards-Levy argue the opposite:

…researchers spent a lot of time in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential vote looking for evidence of a cadre of “shy Trump voters” big enough to swing an election. Most didn’t come away with much evidence…The most common version of the shy Trump voter theory rests on the idea of social desirability bias ― that a significant bloc of Trump voters was uncomfortable enough about sharing opinions with pollsters to either feign indecision or to lie about their preferences…we know that this isn’t a systematic issue for all polling on Republican candidates…If support for Trump was uniquely stigmatized, you’d expect him to outperform his polls more than other Republican candidates did theirs…Trump outperformed his estimates by an average 1.4 percentage points in 2016, compared with a virtually identical 1.3 points for GOP Senate candidates.

Jonah Goldberg concurs:

A postmortem by the polling industry went looking for significant numbers of SMAGAs and came up empty. If people were afraid to tell the truth to pollsters, there should have been a gap between results from polls conducted by humans and machines. There wasn’t.

Pollsters long ago debated the possibility of a “Bradley effect” in biracial elections, but conclusions are conflicted.

Can hidden Trumpers explain the discrepancies between the exit polls and the official results? Perhaps in Oakland, but not in most national elections for the last twenty years, unless we posit that Republicans have been dishonest with pollsters since long before Trumpus. A web search found little or no mention of “hidden Romney voters”, “hidden McCain voters” or “hidden Bush voters”, yet similar poll discrepancies were reported in all those elections (especially in 2004). And most certainly not in the 2020 Democratic primaries, where (as I showed in Part Three) these same discrepancies appeared between Biden and Sanders in state after state.

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Why am I dwelling on this? Because this was the way pollsters explained the discrepancies in 2016, when the Democrats gave a hundred million people no reason to vote for them, and it is the only argument against outright computer fraud, despite anecdotal statements by Democrats who saw their electronic votes switching to republican. (To be fair, Republican voters claimed exactly the opposite.)

After Trumpus’ electoral college victory I asked: Why, despite the polls favoring Clinton, did the vast majority of high-rolling, last-minute gamblers bet on Trump?

Yes, this was reported in the mainstream media, but no one seems to have paid it much attention, except for other gamblers…Did they think that the FBI revelations would sway large numbers of voters? Or did they know that millions of people would not be able to vote – or that their votes would not be counted? We might also ask, as Fitrakis and Wasserman do: “Those who dismiss such warnings as ‘conspiracy theory’ might confront this simple question: ‘How will the electronic vote count in the 2016 election be verified?’ The answer is simple: ‘It can’t be.’

There will most certainly be a November surprise, although it may not be large enough to overcome Biden’s lead, maybe only enough to ensure GOP dominance at local levels. If it does cause Biden to lose, the Dems and the MSM will blame the Left, and they will point to silent Trumpers to explain the inevitable poll discrepancies. Why won’t they bring up computer fraud? Because they do it themselves when they can get away with it. For some deeply insightful – and darkly funny – insight into whom to actually blame, read Lee Camp’s “Top 10 People to Blame if Joe Biden Loses (It’s Not The Left)”.

The polls, as we all know, show Biden with a large lead, and most gamblers agree. Quite a few of them, however, seem to be happy taking the odds. On this site, they’re betting on Trumpus. What do they know that we don’t?

I can’t end on such a sour note, so here’s Rebecca Solnit on the difference between optimism and hope:

The tricky thing about hope is to not confuse it with optimism. Optimism is confidence that you know the future and it requires nothing of you. It’s a mirror image of pessimism, which likewise assumes it knows the future, only pessimism’s future is dismal and not up to us either. Hope is a sense of possibility within the uncertainty of a future that does not yet exist, but that we are making by our actions…I’ve modified the slogan, hope for the best, prepare for the worst to: Hope and work for the best (and also be prepared to wrestle with the worst if it arises). You have to believe in the worst to diminish its chances of coming to pass. Maybe this time around we believe it because to some degree we’ve lived it.

Read more…

Part Seven: Responding to New Age Conspiracists

Who is he, who even were truth on his tongue, his way of speaking it would make truth almost as offensive as falsehood? –  Herman Melville

A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. – Winston Churchill

In America the legacy of violent crusading is channeled through our unique emphasis on individualism, and, I would add, our narcissism: What is true for me, what saved my soul, is necessarily true for you as well, and it would save your soul as well. You should believe what I believe. This is the potent, underlying assumption of all religious proselytizers, because it serves to cover up their own ambivalence and anxiety. In other words, if they can convince you to accept Jesus (or Q), their own beliefs are validated.

Remembering Hillman: we are all psychologically Christian. This also explains the rigidity behind some of our secular disputes. The examples in middle class consumer culture are endless: clothing styles, therapy or exercise styles, doctors or healing modalities – and especially diet. What helped me with my problem would help you with your problem. Am I exaggerating? Consider your last Thanksgiving dinner conversation with a vegan relative you hadn’t seen in years, or if you prefer, an advocate of the paleo diet. When believers suggest — a little too often — that you would be better off converting to their way of thinking, this is a form of fanaticism. And it can only exist in a monotheistic universe where we assume only one correct way to be, and taken to its logical conclusion, it becomes jihad, or crusade. Ironically, fanatic derives from fanum (“temple, shrine, consecrated place”).

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I’ve been suggesting that critical thinking, or discrimination is the key. Not in the monotheistic sense that divides the chosen from the fallen, but discrimination in the Buddhist sense of clear comprehension of reality. So I’ve devised a somewhat poetic response to discrimination-challenged NACs:

1 – Admit that we are all gatekeepers. In 2005, Stephen Colbert coined the word “truthiness.” He said, “We’re not talking about the truth; we’re talking about something that seems like truth — the truth we want to exist.” No matter how far out on the margins anyone is, there is always someone further out, and we each determine where the boundaries are. Behind the justifiable but still monotheistic hunger for Truth, we find a deeper but smaller truth, the Pagan wisdom that there is no Truth, only various truths. Or, as the great physicist Niels Bohr said: “The opposite of a correct statement is a falsehood, but the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”

2 – Believe nothing; entertain possibilities. Thanks to Caroline Casey for this insight. We are talking about stories that could be true, or not. Like all myths, they are stories we tell about other people but which in fact – always – are about ourselves. We project the stories we need to hear about ourselves onto celebrities (our substitutes for the pagan gods), or upon the shadow of celebrity, those who will not reveal their identities, or those who claim to have knowledge of the shadows. Only in our demythologized age, when myths no longer serve the deep needs of the soul, do stories about truth become concretized, literalized into affirmations of belief. Indigenous people who are still held in living mythologies and rituals understand that stories are meant to provoke increasingly deeper questions, to drop us into the work of the soul, not to provide simplistic answers. “That is how he grows,” says Rilke, “by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings.” Stories are meant to entertain us. As I write in Chapter Ten:

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Our primary leisure activity is entertainment, being passively entertained. Certainly, we deserve relaxation and restoration. But why does it seem so unrewarding; and despite this, why do we constantly repeat the experience, as if something might change and our longing be fulfilled?

Entertain means “to hold together.” But what does “together” refer to, subject or object? Two or more subjects can hold something in common. Or, one subject could hold two or more objects. Finally, a community, several subjects, could hold mutually exclusive concepts – the tension of the opposites – in a ritual container such as tragic drama, and suffer together. I suggest that the original meaning of entertainment was ritual renewal of the community though shared suffering. (Ancient) Athenian audiences did exactly that; viewing the clash of unbearable contradictions, they held that tension and wept together. They emerged spent but renewed, purged of their anxieties for a while.

3 – Follow the money. In searching for truths in America one’s first question must always be Cui bono?  Who profits? Other ways to frame it would be: Does this theory come from the bottom up or from the top down? Whom does it serve? Does it merely appear to come from the bottom up? If you are getting your political information from “wellness influencers” are they also selling stuff on their websites?

Anchoring ourselves in this perspective, we automatically align ourselves with the masses of suffering humanity. Then it becomes easy to see that behind most so-called “populist” movements of the Right are some very wealthy people. Quite simply, there would be no Tea Party – and hence, no Trumpus presidency or QAnon – without the massive infusions of money provided by the Koch brothers and other billionaires.

To take their bait, once such sponsors are revealed, and still accept the proposition that the mega-rich have anything in common with these people besides their racism is to lack any discrimination. But to accept the challenge to discriminate, it becomes possible to realize that the only Deep State that Trumpus is trying to destroy are agencies that regulate his friends’ businesses.

4 – Judge a tree by its fruit. Even if at this late date you still harbor notions that Trumpus is out to destroy the Deep State, just consider the scoundrels he has always surrounded himself with, from his original mentor Roy Cohn to New York and Russian mobsters to the corrupt bankers and anti-regulators dedicated to serving Big Business. For a while, David Icke’s website featured a banner reading, “President Trump needs your help. Sign the petition to build the wall!”

To judge what the tree really thinks, look at what other trees think of it. During the 2018 Florida Gubernatorial campaign, the Republican Ron DeSantis made outrageous public statements but denied their obvious racist nature in debates with the Democrat Andrew Gillum, who countered with:

…he’s got neo-Nazis helping him out in the state. He has spoken at racist conferences…I’m not calling Mr. Desantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.

Similarly, it doesn’t matter if Icke purports to hold certain progressive views; anti-Semites love him, and that’s all we ought to know.

5 – Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Just as there is no overarching, grand Truth, no one is perfect except for the archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, and this is the source of the cult of celebrity which so characterizes our age.

So we can’t expect our purveyors of information to precisely share our versions of reality. At the same time, a certain general consistency in philosophy ought to produce general consistency in specific views. Consider Rand Paul, who occasionally criticizes America’s imperial wars from the libertarian perspective, but who would also ban all abortions. Can someone favor banning a woman’s freedom of choice – choice! – and still claim that they love freedom? Or is that freedom simply freedom from taxes? It’s all about discrimination.

Of course, elements within the Bush administration had prior knowledge of the 9-11 attacks, but that doesn’t mean that they take their orders from Reptile people. The fact that Alex Jones questions the official narrative – or that he gives Dr. Andrew Wakefield airtime opportunities to respond to his “debunkers” is no reason to believe other claims of his (Film of the Moon landings were faked! Democrats and Communists plot “white genocide” attacks!) Jones’ major product, like that of all right-wing conspiracy theorists from the early Puritans to Tucker Carlson, is fear. And his major cures range from scapegoating Black people to nutritional supplements and gold investments (follow that money again).

6 – People do cruel things because they are cruel, sick – and, ultimately, traumatized – people, not as representatives of racial or ethnic groups. Life is hard because rich people want to be even richer, and they don’t care about you. All mass shooters act on their own, even if the vast majority of them are white males with similar, right-wing views. This was true long before QAnon, and it’s true now. And it’s all about white privilege.

At this point, my good-hearted friend will ask, “What about George Soros?” His name is often at the center of the connect-the-dots charts, which emphasize his Jewish identity first and his billionaire status second. My friend has probably never heard of Jewish right-wing billionaires such as Paul Singer, Bernard Marcus or Sheldon Adelson, who just gave Trumpus another $75 million. Nor does he realize that the Soros narrative – and the huge uptick in worldwide anti-Semitism associated with it – was created by two long-time Republican (and, yes, Jewish) dirty tricksters, who ironically were also advisors to Benjamin Netanyahu. You can’t make this stuff up.

7 – The Lyndon Johnson trick in reverse, as told by Hunter S. Thompson:

…(in) one of Lyndon Johnson’s early campaigns in Texas. The race was close and Johnson was getting worried. Finally he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent’s life-long habit of enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows. “Christ, we can’t get away calling him a pig-fucker,” the campaign manager protested. “Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.” “I know,” Johnson replied.  “But let’s make the sonofabitch deny it.”

In reversing this tale, we recall the line from Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Do actual non-racists ever have to deny accusations that they are racists.

Trumpus: “I’m the least racist person anybody is going to meet.”

Icke: “I’m one of the least racist people on Earth…”

To be fair, we should note that Icke, unlike Trumpus, has consistently pointed out that he is an anti-Zionist. And this issue drops us back into the false equivalency muck, where Republicans – and, sadly, most elected Democrats – accuse even pacifist critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic and continue to demonize the BDS movement. So, referring back to Andrew Gillum’s statement (“I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist”), we can only ask whether admitted racists consider Icke an ally. In this sense, his own beliefs are irrelevant. And would an articulate anti-Zionist ever have anything whatsoever in common with such a pro-Israeli imperialist as Trumpus?

The only thing that broken clocks have in common with each other are their brokenness.

8 – It’s not my circus, not my monkey. We have to ask ourselves: Do I really need to spend any more time obsessing with this stuff? Is it doing me, my loved ones or the world any good at all? Why am I concerned with global (or inter-galactic) issues over which, admittedly, I have no control, when I could actually have some influence in local issues? And: why would these groups be going to such elaborate and expensive lengths to control the world when to a very great extent, they (as corporate monoliths) already do?

As Jeremy Lent writes, there are in fact corporate conspiracies that we don’t need to explain by reference to reptile people. And the most critical of them all is the heavily funded refusal to acknowledge the threat of climate change and the very real possibility of extinction.

Discriminate! Yes, 5G may be dangerous, because no cellular transmission technologies have been adequately tested – not because evil scientists created it to enhance the coronavirus and justify a one-world government. When you feel that sense of certainty coming on, take a breath.

Certainty is a rigidly mythic position, and opposites are surprisingly similar. To leap from one certainty to another skips the holy ground of uncertainty, of not knowing, of humility, into which genuinely new information can come. What unites the pundits of all persuasions is their certainty. This is not to patronize but to challenge those who cleave to meta-narratives that clearly no longer serve them. In the 20th century we have seen plenty of evidence that those who have done so often reached the depths of profound disillusionment, as in this true story. In archetypal terms, Hillman referred to this experience as betrayal, and he saw it as a prelude to soul-work. Or, as Rumi says:

When school or mosque, tower or minaret get torn down,

Then dervishes may begin their community.

Only when faithfulness turns to betrayal and betrayal into trust

Can any human being become part of the truth.

But betrayal and disillusionment do not necessarily lead to increased self-awareness. Too often, popular culture offers us another attractive meta-narrative or ideology to fill the void. However, at any moment – and New Age people ought to understand this – we can actually choose to disengage ourselves from belief systems and courageously ground ourselves in this post-modern, very uncertain world. Then we can “believe nothing – entertain possibilities.”

Part Eight: Reframing

…he is constantly being squeezed between the world and his idea of the world. Better to have a broken head – why surrender his corner on the truth? Better just to go crazy. – Stephen Dobyns

All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together. – Plotinus

Take a deep breath, feel like you’re choking. Everything is broken. – Bob Dylan

When we encounter betrayal or disillusionment and refuse the opportunity for soul work, we can easily leap from devotion to disgust, as our love-hate relationship with celebrities reveals. But then we are likely to search for a new devotion. It’s been said that there are no more virulent anti-communists than former leftists (Lyndon LaRouche and David Horowitz come to mind), or more vocal anti-Catholics than former Catholics. And if another ideology doesn’t fill the void, substance abuse can be an overwhelming attraction, as in the story I posted above.

If we pay attention – if we can discriminate – we may see that life always presents the need and the opportunity to reframe our obsessions. How do we do that? By looking past the literal to the symbolic. If we survive the era of Trumpus, we may well discover a new meta-narrative. Perhaps it will have something to do with the return of the Goddess, or the Whole Earth, as I speculate in Chapter 12 of my book. But any new story can quickly become yet another belief system.

As we accelerate the return from monotheistic back to pagan thinking, we may discover something entirely different. Rather than connecting the dots to justify our helplessness in a grand narrative of control, we may well begin to pursue mini-narratives in the form of questions, such as: What have I been called to do? What gift must I manifest, without which the world would be less for? What god or goddess did I come here to serve? What is my responsibility to the other world, and to those who come after me?

The year 2020 began with a virus that attacks our ability to breathe and progressed with a grisly murder in which a policeman prevented a Black man from breathing. In California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Colorado, massive forest fires have made it a year in which we all have to struggle to take a healthy breath. We can only breathe together in virtual spaces.

Cultural survival may require us to cook the word “conspire” down to its essence – to breathe together – and then reframe it further, into the Hawaiian ritual of “Ha.” This is a mutual greeting that recognizes and welcomes the Other. Two persons press the bridges of their noses together, inhale and exchange the breath of life. To ancient Hawaiians the breath was the key to good health and possessed mana (spiritual power). On their deathbeds, elders often passed down wisdom to their chosen successors with this ritual. May we all aspire to creating the kind of society that inspires our children rather than condemning them to more of the same.

And we can also reframe the idea of gatekeeper, from one who figuratively stands at the entrance – the threshold – to the world of acceptable discourse, charged with the responsibility of maintaining its borders and deciding who is pure enough to be admitted. In many indigenous societies some people straddle two worlds and mediate between them. Such people, comfortable in liminality, serve the community by guiding people in transition from one state to another. Many Native Americans use the term “two-spirit” to describe persons of unconventional sexual or gender orientation, while in West Africa words describing them actually translate as “gatekeeper.” Sobonfu Somé explains:

Without gatekeepers, there is no access to other worlds…They are mediators between the two genders…There are many gates that link a village to other worlds. The only people who have access to all these gates are the gatekeepers…They have one foot in all the other worlds and other foot here…Without them, the gates to the other world would be shut. On the other side of these gates lies the spirit world…Gatekeepers are in constant communication with beings who live there, who have the ability to teach us how to deal with ritual…Gatekeeping is part of one’s life purpose, announced before birth and developed through rigorous initiatory training to ensure that its power is not misused.

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So let’s imagine a culture that invites a return to a ritual relationship with the Earth, with ancestors, with Spirit, with strangers; a culture that perceives the Other not as a threat but as one who arrives bearing gifts; a culture that respects the wisdom of the past but also welcomes the young and those on the margins. Imagine some people being called from birth – from before birth – to heal the divide between worlds so as to welcome the potential of each person, including the potential to re-imagine the world, rather than to exclude those who question inherited Truths. Let’s imagine a world not dominated by the Western, crusading, monotheistic urge to enforce those Truths on others, but one that appreciates these insights from the far East:

Since everything is but an apparition,

Perfect in being what it is, having nothing

to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection,

One may well burst out in laughter.  – Long Chen Pa

If you love the sacred and despise the ordinary,

You are still bobbing on the ocean of delusion.  – Lin-Chi

Leave your front door and your back door open.

Allow your thoughts to come and go.

Just don’t serve them tea. – Shunryu Suzuki

Read more…

Part Five: Save the Children!

I see it (the New Age movement) fundamentally shaped by an impulse to the irrational…it seems to lack any critical evaluation of itself. – Terence McKenna 

The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight. – Joseph Campbell

In March of 2020, a book with no stated author – QAnon: An Invitation to the Great Awakening – entered the list of the top 75 of all books recently sold on Amazon. It alleged that Hollywood celebrities and top Democrats rape, torture and murder large numbers of children, often to drain “adrenochrome,” a substance that allegedly keeps them alive.

In August NBC described a group that had formed in July:

“Freedom for the Children” has organized more than 60 rallies in 26 states and Canada…local media coverage of the events has been widespread and credulous, almost never mentioning the events’ QAnon connections. Indeed, many of the signs seen at rallies ask why the media is reporting on COVID-19 or Black Lives Matter protests instead of “the real pandemic” of missing children.

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Most of the organizers and attendees appear to be women. Annie Kelly, who studies digital extremism, notes:

…there’s something about QAnon that makes it stand out in the world of Trump-adjacent online groups: Its ranks are populated by a noticeably high percentage of women. Many of the congressional candidates who have voiced their support for QAnon are women…Even more alarming are the believers who have demonstrated their willingness to hurt people…Plenty of far-right conspiracy theorists, such as the neo-Nazi believers in “white genocide,” make similar claims about defending children but cannot point to such gender diversity across their ranks. So what is going on?

…At the heart of QAnon lies an undeniably frightening ethos that demands harsh punishment, even execution, for its ever-growing list of political enemies. History teaches us that sex panics do not end well for society’s most vulnerable minorities…(Rejecting QAnon) becomes more personally and politically difficult if the theory’s adherents look less like our traditional conception of fascists and more like ordinary concerned mothers taking a stand for child sex abuse victims.

Kaitlyn Tiffany (“The Women Making Conspiracy Theories Beautiful”) claims that Instagram is a major site of misinformation:

Instagram—more than any other major social platform—shows each of its users exactly what they want to see. It’s a habitual, ritualistic space where people (like me) go for examples of how to be happy and well liked…Time spent there is reciprocal, a never-ending exchange of sweet words and the heart icons that are the only possible way to instantly respond to a piece of content on the platform. Instagram is women’s work, as it demands skills they’ve historically been compelled to excel at: presenting as lovely, presenting as desirable, presenting as good, safe, nonthreatening. All of which, of course, are valuable appearances for a dangerous conspiracy theory to have.

She quotes Becca Lewis, who studies online political subcultures,

It’s a huge misconception that disinformation and conspiracy theorizing happens only in fringe spaces, or dark corners of the internet…much of this content is being disseminated by super popular accounts with absolutely mainstream aesthetics.

White-supremacist internet personalities use similar tactics. Their Instagram accounts may be completely free of extremist rhetoric and dedicated instead to dreamy engagement photos and romantic vacations. Then they draw followers to YouTube, where they tell how they’d come to believe in various white-nationalist, far-right causes, and conspiracy theories.

If you’re able to make this covetable, beautiful aesthetic and then attach these conspiracy theories to it, that normalizes the conspiracy theories in a very specific way that Instagram is particularly good for…Of course, it’s hard to say what’s orchestrated and what’s genuine on Instagram. But the effect is the same…

With the election approaching, this business is happening in real time, and much may already be outdated by the time I post it.

By August 2020, the major social media platforms realized the nature of this particular con and limited the reach of most Q-derived sites (along, we note, with many legitimate progressive sites). Quickly, Q leaders urged their followers to drop the “QAnon” label and instead publicize their crusade against the secret cabal of baby-eating politicians.

The anonymous Q account…wrote an uncharacteristically unambiguous message to adherents last week: “Deploy camouflage. Drop all references re: ‘Q’ ‘Qanon’ etc. to avoid ban/termination…_censorship install. Algos [sniffers] bypass.”

Some high-profile QAnon influencers with hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers took down their accounts and scrubbed any mentions of QAnon to avoid the ban. Other accounts were able to amplify and co-opt #SaveOurChildren and its related language by creating a large and unprecedented flurry of posts and activity. “This is not about pedophilia,” said Whitney Phillips, co-author of the book, You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories and Our Polluted Media Landscape. “This is not about child protection. This is about a conspiracy theory that’s trying to couch itself in other terms to get more people involved and sympathetic…”

By September, because it takes a con-man to know a con, Trumpus’ own people quickly got into the act, announcing that the federal government would award over $100 million in grants to target human trafficking. The problem is real, of course, but the announcement was clearly pure politics. However, in an ironic twist on the concern for the children, some Q followers are endangering actual children. Will Sommer writes:

Police and court records have lately revealed a…clandestine network comprising QAnon conspiracy theorists, fringe legal figures…and even Republican politicians…This network has allegedly encouraged and inspired other QAnon believers, especially parents, to commit crimes, including kidnapping…often by targeting parents who have lost custody of their children or fear they will.

Timothy Holmseth’s profile grew this spring, when he became the leading “source” for viral claims that tens of thousands of abused “mole children” had been rescued from underground prisons underneath New York City…While on the run, Holmseth recorded a video urging his fans to shoot child protective services staffers who come to their homes…postulating that Child Protective Services are abducting children for sex-crime networks raises the risks for agency workers, the families, and the children involved in the cases.

Q-sponsored pedophilia obsession is a massive con, fabricated by right-wingers to manipulate large numbers of people, a majority of them female followers of New Age wellness influencers. On the other hand, the Jeffrey Epstein story reminds us that child sexual abuse certainly does occur among the powerful.

But the deeply emotional obsession with it reveals projection and or displacement on many levels. So we can’t stop here. We need to look into the historical/sociological, psychological, political and ultimately the mythological factors that make so many Americans uniquely susceptible to these machinations.

Part Six: Why Are Americans So Obsessed with Pedophilia?

It is well that war is so terrible. We would grow too fond of it. – Robert E. Lee

You can’t stop me. I spend 30,000 men a month. – Napoleon

I would rather have a dead son than a disobedient one. – Martin Luther

Anybody who tells you that he has some way of leading you to spiritual enlightenment is like somebody who picks your pocket and sells you your own watch. – Alan Watts

We need to address this question from four perspectives:

1 – Psychology

It is certainly possible that some NACs who may be high on empathy and low on boundaries, especially women, are abuse survivors themselves, and that the highly publicized pedophilia within the Catholic Church has triggered old memories of trauma for thousands of people. However, outside the safe, ritual container of therapy, the urge to reveal the truth may be overcome by denial and projection. Psychologist David Bakan writes, “Some things are simply too terrible to think about if one believes them. Thus one does not believe them in order to make it possible to think about them.”

These ego defenses also make it possible to ignore their loyal support of Trumpus, a man who brags about abusing women. Another ego defense – idealization – is the way we keep the secret that our entire culture is built upon the symbolic sacrifice of our children, a theme I’ll return to below.

2 – History and sociology

Conspiracies centering on the vulnerability of children are neither new nor distinctly American. Wild claims of Jews killing Christian children and using their blood in rituals – the “blood libel” – date back to at least the 12th century, and long before that the Roman authorities accused Christians themselves of performing similar rites. So we certainly ought to ask why child-abuse paranoia explodes into public consciousness at certain moments?

ritualmord-legende.jpg?w=924&profile=RESIZE_710x                                                       The Jewish Blood Libel

In the 1980s the McMartin preschool accusations, with their similarities to last year’s “Pizzagate” narrative, provoked a national spectacle during which scores of people were accused – wrongly, it turned out – of sex crimes against children. The continuities between these two cases suggest a broader explanation for pedophile conspiracies: they’re an outgrowth of reactionary politics.

Richard Beck locates the roots of the McMartin conspiracy theory in the social progress of the previous decade, particularly – and ironically – in the gains won by women. Ali Breland writes that the idea of day care has always held a prominent place in right-wing demonology, that it was a communist plot to destroy the traditional family:

In 1971, President Richard Nixon vetoed the Comprehensive Child Development Act, which would’ve established a national day-care system…By the time Judy Johnson came forward in 1983 with allegations that a teacher at the McMartin preschool had molested her child, the country had been primed to assume the worst by more than a decade of child-care fearmongering.

It wasn’t just the movement of women into the workplace that created the conditions for a reactionary panic. There were other cultural forces at work. The anti-rape campaign of the 1970s, historian Philip Jenkins writes in Moral Panic, had “formulated the concepts and vocabulary that would become integral to child-protection ideology,” in particular a “refusal to disbelieve” victims. The repressed-­memory movement of that era had created a therapeutic consensus surrounding kids’ claims of molestation: “Be willing to believe the unbelievable,” as the self-help book The Courage to Heal put it…And the anti-cult movement of the late 1970s had raised the specter of satanic cabals engaging in human sacrifice and other sinister behavior…

If women’s entry into the workplace in the latter half of the 20th century triggered deep anxieties about the decay of traditional gender roles and the family unit, in the 21st century it was same-sex marriage, growing acceptance of transgender rights, and the seeming cultural hegemony of a social justice agenda.

The new accusations have shifted from individual, male preschool teachers to an entire class of liberals and globalists, many of whom (Epstein, Soros, Dershowitz, Weinstein) are Jews. Chip Berlet writes: “In all Western culture, you can argue that all conspiracy theories, no matter how diverse, come from the idea of the Jews abducting children.” 

But QAnon has added a new and more secular factor, as Amanda Marcotte writes:

Evangelical Christianity played the same role for conservatives in the pre-Trump years, letting them feel holy and moral despite openly backing politicians who promoted immoral policies. But it came with a bunch of downsides, like being made to feel guilty for premarital sex, divorce or even (as Falwell Jr. found out) drinking and partying. With QAnon, you get to sleep in on Sunday and have all the sex you like, without giving up that pious assertion of moral superiority or the presumption of secret knowledge. 

Again, we can’t help but notice the unmistakable smell of money – and the con man, as Eddie Kim writes:

…“Save Our Children Initiative” is fighting to “end sex trafficking” by…asking for sponsorships and selling a $35 T-shirt…revenue from the shirts will go to an unspecified “charitable organization” that is “supporting funding towards increasing the survivors [sic].”…the founders don’t appear to have any experience in child advocacy work; one is a Trump-supporting fitness and lifestyle influencer, while the other runs a custom apparel-printing shop…

My essay “The Con Man” traces the intersections of religion, capitalism, consumerism and the unique confluence of optimism and naivete in the American psyche: “No con man can succeed without a ‘mark,’ however, and this is where American myth re-enters the conversation.” The source of any con man’s power to trick us comes from our own willingness to be tricked. /

3 – Politics and Morality

Many of the Q supporters obsessed with pedophilia have undoubtedly emerged from the same evangelical ranks that have crusaded for decades against abortion rights while simultaneously voting against programs intended to care for poor children (who, in public perception, are often perceived as brown or black). This privileged, even willful ignorance allows them to resolve the cognitive dissonance that arises from the conflict between the legitimate desire to lessen suffering on the one hand, and outright racism on the other.

Beyond their own dissonance, their concerns about child abuse and trafficking are a deep insult to Black people, whose ancestors really were raped and trafficked in the hundreds of thousands; to Native Americans, whose ancestors were stolen in the thousands as children and confined to prisons, otherwise known as “boarding schools;” to contemporary Native American women (at least 5,600 of whom the FBI listed as “disappeared” last year); to Japanese Americans, whose ancestors were sent as children to concentration camps, otherwise known as “relocation camps;” and to the thousands of Latinx children currently held in cages by ICE and the Border Patrol because their parents illegally entered the U.S. looking for work or legally applying for asylum.

Ironically, the Q-inspired paranoia has motivated so many good-hearted people to become active that they actually get in the way of activists who fight the real problem by clogging up phone lines, confusing their fundraising efforts, and interfering with social media campaigns. 

4 – Mythology

History reflects mythology. The misplaced concern about pedophilia rests upon and has re-energized an immensely old story in which boys are groomed by their elders to offer up their bodies in the great ritual sacrifice of war. Here are two essays of mine that refer to it: Redeeming the World and The Hero Must Die.

The myth of the killing of the children is our culture’s most fundamental mythic narrative, as I describe in Chapter Six. We idealize the family as the ultimate “safe container.” Yet we experience the breakdown of myth and the loss of initiation rituals most directly in the crimes and betrayals that adults inflict upon children. Myth suggests that it has always been this way – or at least since the triumph of patriarchy.

Child sacrifice is a common Old Testament theme. Jehovah accused the Israelites: “… you slaughtered my children and presented them as offerings!” Like the pagans, they “shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the altars of Canaan…”

Most significantly, Abraham – father of Judeo-Christian-Moslem monotheism – prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac to prove his loyalty to God. Bruce Chilton writes, “Different versions of Genesis 22 circulated in an immensely varied tradition called the Aqedah or ‘Binding’ of Isaac in Rabbinic sources and – with key changes – in both Christian and Islamic texts.”

From our point of view, it doesn’t matter that Jehovah stopped the sacrifice, only that Abraham was willing. Indeed, in some later versions of the myth, Isaac was indeed killed, and he came to embody the only sacrifice acceptable to God. Generally, however, the patriarchs couldn’t openly admit that they were capable of such barbarism, so they projected child sacrifice onto the gods – such as Moloch – of other people.

moloch-and-his-minions.jpg?w=915&profile=RESIZE_710x                                                                      Moloch

In the Christian version, this same God confirmed the centrality of this most fundamental theme of Western culture when he abandoned his only son. When the crucified Jesus asked, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” he was quoting the ancient Psalm 22, which acknowledged centuries of abuse, betrayal and the profound depression – or unquenchable desire for vengeance – that results. Whether Hebrew or Greek, patriarchs feared rivals among their subjects or children, pursued the most terrible of initiations and slaughtered the innocent, while the survivors became killers themselves.

These stories are absolutely central to Western consciousness. They describe basic father-son relationships and indicate how long it has been since initiation rituals broke down. Once, the fathers used to kill the sons symbolically so that they might grow into authentic men. For at least three millennia, however, the patriarchs have conducted pseudo-initiations, feeding their sons into the infinite maw of literalized violence. Indeed, it was their great genius – and primordial crime – to extend child- sacrifice from the family to the state. Boys eventually were forced to participate in the sacrifice. No longer surrendering to symbolic death, they learned to, in a sense, overcome death by inflicting it on others.

Ultimately, sacrifice – dying for the cause – became as important as physical survival. Martyrdom became an ethical virtue that every believer must be prepared to emulate. Chilton writes:

Uniquely among the religions of the world, the three that center on Abraham have made the willingness to offer the lives of children – an action they all symbolize with versions of the Aqedah – a central virtue for the faithful as a whole.

When the state replaces the fathers, boys must become patriots (Latin: pater, father) to become men. Those who most excel in this madness become sociopathic killers and mentors to future generations. Such fathers feel pride, but they also fear the possibility of being overthrown. Thus their initiations always contain both a threat and a deal: You will sacrifice your emotions and relational capacity, submit to our authority in all matters and become our mirror image. In exchange you may physically and sexually dominate your women, your children — and the Earth — as we abuse you.

Yet don’t we idealize our children? Parents commonly deny their own needs so that the children might have a better future, and government demonizes and punishes those suspected of harming them. We go to war so the children may be free. The deeper truth is that we love children because the archetypal child symbolizes rebirth, transformation and innocence. Christ said that to enter the kingdom one must be as innocent as those whose minds and bodies are still undivided by civilization.

The image of the child personifies the lost unity all adults long for. However, to recover that unity requires long and painful work, as D. H. Lawrence knew:

          I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self,
          and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help
          and patience, and a certain difficult repentance.

So the image of the child evokes something else: the suffering to be endured on the road back to wholeness, and the grief over what we have lost. Consequently, many adults are compelled to destroy that image, to remove it from consciousness and replace it with idealization. Why else would we emphasize family values and threats to “the children” while destroying social programs that keep families together, or punish children simply because their parents are poor? This can only happen in a society that is deeply ambivalent about its own children.

Lloyd de Mause begins his survey of the vast literature on European child-raising: “The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awake.” Christians long believed that children were inherently perverse: “The new-born babe is full of the stains and pollution of sin, which it inherits from our first parents through our loins.” They required extreme discipline and early baptism, which used to include actual exorcism of the Devil. Initiation rites became literalized in child abuse, with customs ranging from tight swaddling and steel collars to foot binding, genital circumcision and rape.

There is considerable evidence of the literal killing of both illegitimate children (at least as late as the 19th century) and legitimate ones, especially girls, in Europe. As a result, there was a large imbalance of males over females well into the Middle Ages. By the sixteenth century, the new religious dogma of Calvinism flowed seamlessly into the older myth of the killing of the children. Now, the patriarchs had a perfect excuse for their culture-wide abuse of their children: children deserved it, because they were bad by nature.

Physical and sexual abuse was so common that most children born prior to the 18th century were what would today be termed “battered children.” However, the medical syndrome itself didn’t arise among doctors until 1962, when regular use of x-rays revealed widespread multiple fractures in the limbs of small children who were too young to complain verbally.

What kind of men do these patterns traditionally produce? De Mause argues that war and genocide do “…not occur in the absence of widespread early abuse and neglect,” that nations with abusive and punitive childrearing practices emphasize military solutions and state violence in resolving social conflicts. Or they produce other men who, in reaction to this legacy, live lives of quiet, unsatisfied desperation and conformism, disconnected from their natural gifts and callings.

What kind of women do these patterns traditionally produce until very recently? Lives lived in fear of their fathers, husbands and all adult men, repressed ambivalence toward their sons and grief for their daughters; lives of constrained possibilities and impossible dreams of sovereignty.

“Americans,” writes James Hillman, “love the idea of childhood no matter how brutal or vacuous their actual childhoods may have been.” Finally, we idealize childhood because our actual childhood did not serve its purpose, which was to provide a container of welcome into the world that would be the necessary precursor for initiation into mature adulthood. Without such preparation, we assume that alienation is the true nature of maturity.

And if humans have no true animating spark, neither does the natural world. So generation after generation of young men are socialized to project their own need for rebirth onto the world and set out to literally destroy it. This is how Patriarchy perpetuates itself. In each generation, millions of abused children identify with their adult oppressors and become violent perpetrators themselves. In a demythologized world, they have no choice but to act out the myths of the killing of the children on a massive scale, or to glorify those who do.

Can it be any wonder that we are periodically unable to keep ourselves from displacing our rage – and our complicity – of this ancient condition onto some convenient scapegoat, in hopes that he might take our sins way with him into the wilderness?

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I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure. – Mark Twain.

The period from mid-September through the first week of October were bookended by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and Trumpus’ illness.

Republican Corruption: The release of Trumpus’ taxes revealed years of no payments at all, income from undeclared foreign sources, massive debts to unknown creditors, gargantuan conflict-of-interest problems when they come due soon, and the likelihood of outright fraud. It was revealed that he had described war veterans as “suckers and losers” and that his 2016 campaign had identified 3.5 million Black Americans as voters they wanted to suppress through Facebook logarithms.

Republican plans to wreck the election continued quite openly. Trumpus hinted at his plans to use phony claims about “fraud” as cover to keep election officials from counting all the ballots after Election Day and repeatedly refused to promise that he’d step down peacefully if he lost. Right wing operatives were everywhere in the swing states, openly attempting to restrict the vote. A judge struck down their plan to allow only 1 ballot box in each Ohio county. But Governor Greg Abbot simply avoided the courts entirely and effectively handed Texas over to Trumpus by ordering all Texas counties to do exactly that. Harris County (population: 4 million, including Houston) will have exactly one drop-off box.

A pro-Trumpus militant Group has allegedly recruited thousands of police, soldiers and assorted thugs to monitor and harass voters in Black and Latinx neighborhoods. Even the FBI – certainly no friend to people of color – is now preparing for a “violent extremist threat” posed by anti-government militia whose members have advocated for a “race war.”

But why are Trumpus and Barr being so open – almost bragging – about their plans to steal the election? The answer, like their plans, is right in front of us. Polls indicate that Democrats are less likely to vote if they believe Trump will steal the election, something Republicans are banking on. Those voters are most assuredly people of color, who understand the long tradition of American white mob violence quite well, writes John Feffer:

Whether it was the displacement and massacre of Native Americans, the horrors that slaveowners inflicted on African Americans, the wave of lynching that followed Reconstruction, the bloodletting of Red Summer around World War I, the murders conducted by the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist organizations, or even everyday resistance to federal policies like school desegregation, gangs of Americans have repeatedly taken the law into their own hands on behalf of white supremacy.

This puts the Dems in a tight spot. While it is absolutely vital to raise the alarm, amplifying Trumpus’ promise to sow chaos serves his goal of suppressing Democratic turnout. So, as these bastards learned over many generations in the South (although they were Democrats then), the threat of voter suppression is itself a form of voter suppression.

Liberals were shocked. His base, if they noticed at all, approved.

Ginsburg’s body was hardly cold before Trumpus named her replacement. As I mentioned above, they had already used strong-arm tactics (under Roger Stone) to steal the 2000 election, and Amy Coney Barrett had been a member of his team, providing some of the wacky legal arguments that helped sway the Supreme Court. For twenty years, she has quietly epitomized the bizarre confluence of Christian zealotry and mob tactics that characterizes these people. Aside from the certainty that her presence on the court will destroy Obamacare, abortion rights and same-sex marriage, Trumpus will expect her support if the election is disputed.

Democratic Corruption: Analysts have posed this question about Trumpus for four years: can his corruption be distinguished from his incompetence? Is he an idiot, or does he simply play one on TV? It’s time to ask the same question of the Democrats. On September 22nd, Biden made his loyalties crystal clear, telling interviewers that no one earning up to $400,000 would see their taxes raised by “one cent” and following that with “I beat the socialist!…Do I look like a socialist?”

By the way, we are not talking about a 6-3 split on the court if she joins it; we’re really talking about 7-2 (unless the Dems win the Senate and expand the size of the court), since the liberal Stephen Breyer turned 82 in August.

But, again, if we simply blame Republicans for this state of affairs, we miss the real story. The federal courts would not play such a large political role if the Democrats had been serious about winning at the local level. Their nearly exclusive focus on winning the Presidency had resulted in the loss (under Obama alone) of over 900 seats in state legislatures and the Congress. “The fact that the Democrats mishandled this situation so badly”, writes Margaret Kimberley of the Black Agenda Report, “is one of the reasons they have deified the late justice Ginsburg. They have to divert attention from the mess they created.”

… the Democrats are now…behaving with the same lackadaisical attitude that cost them the 2016 election. In the must-win  state of Michigan, the Biden campaign has no in-person voter outreach, and no one that people who want to help can talk to…an on the ground campaign doesn’t really exist…Of course, Hillary Clinton raised more money than Donald Trump, but four years of propaganda have rendered most Democrats incapable of critical thought. They believe that repeating a losing strategy will somehow work this time around.

The First Debate: I see three critical points. The first is that the mainstream media framed the debate itself, not Trumpus, as deplorable. The next day, my local paper, the liberal San Francisco Chronicle proclaimed: “First Debate devolves into debacle,” rather than “Trump wrecks debate.” For contrast with normal years, you may want to read my earlier essay, The Ritual of the Presidential Debate.

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The second is that relative to almost any election in memory, most people have already decided whom they prefer, or hate less. This year, the “undecided moderates” who are the traditional targets of most rhetoric and advertising are an endangered species. The largest bloc of undecided voters are the one hundred million people who haven’t decided if it is worth voting at all. The Republicans are doing everything possible to keep them from deciding to vote, while the Democrats want them to vote but not become active in the future or put any pressure for real reforms on a Democratic Congress.

This leads to my third point. Trumpus knows he’s losing in the polls (for what they’re worth), and he knows what he needs to do to win, including having a Fox News “journalist” as moderator who consistently framed his questions from a right-wing perspective. His intention, well-rehearsed and certainly gleaned from the study of focus groups (see below), was quite clear: to provoke such a hot mess that large numbers of people would not only quickly change the channel but give up in disgust on the whole process.

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His intention, precisely as with his studied refusal to condemn white supremacy, was literally to suppress the vote. Well, that’s my opinion, but I found it confirmed across the spectrum. On the left, Caitlin Johnstone wrote:

You seriously could not have designed a more perfect display to do everything we’ve been told for years that Russian propagandists are trying to do: depress the vote, encourage support for third parties, weaken public trust in America’s institutions…

On the right, Frank Luntz (who certainly knows more than he let on) claimed to have found a dozen undecideds for a focus group – and to have been as shocked as anyone else: “This debate has actually convinced some undecided voters not to vote at all.”

Part of that strategy was to provoke Biden into a no-win situation – continue to act the spineless wimp, always willing to come more than halfway, or take the bait and add to the chaos. Still, who can deny that it felt good to see the old geezer show some cojones?

Then Trumpus got Covid (and knowingly exposed large numbers of people). The news immediately set loose an astonishing range of speculation, fear, chaos, rejoicing, incrimination, flip-flop announcements from his own doctors, and full-on looniness from the QAnon crowd. Was this the long-awaited October Surprise or merely a very convenient distraction? Or both? Michael Moore wrote, Trump being diagnosed with COVID is about the best thing that could have happened to him right now. So much so, in fact, that I pretty sincerely doubt that it’s true.” Some of his speculations:

— He can control the news cycle and get lots of free publicity.

— He can opt out of the next debate without repercussions.

— He’s going to be cured by a new drug that will make him and his cronies billions.

— He doesn’t have it but will “recover” very quickly to show how Covid is overblown.

— He’s planning to drop out of the race and be replaced by Pence, who will then pardon him.

“Don’t even pretend you can’t believe he’d lie about it,” wrote Moore.” Indeed, many people had predicted weeks before that Trumpus would claim to get – and be quickly cured – from Covid.

But his doctors claimed to be using a treatment plan normally used only for the severely ill, leading many to suggest that he was sicker than they were letting on. Meanwhile, at least two Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee contracted Covid, raising questions about the timing of the Barrett hearings. The Republicans vowed to continue, even if they have to change the rules.

Biden hung up his cojones. Predictably, the Democratic leadership and the usual media pundits took the high road with faux-Christian charity, praying for Trumpus’ recovery and even removing their negative advertising (even as the Republicans specifically refused to do so). Johnstone would have none of this:

Do these seem like the sentiments of a media class who believes Donald Trump poses an urgent existential threat and must be defeated at all cost?…Would you stop fighting someone who was trying to kill you with every weapon at your disposal just because they got sick?… It turns out all that unprecedented hysterical shrieking about a Russian Nazi in the White House was just political hyperbole…They’ve never seen Trump as a uniquely menacing threat, they see him as what he is: a garden variety corrupt American president who is evil in more or less the same ways the other corrupt American presidents are evil. They see him as a part of the establishment they serve, advancing more or less the same agendas…

All kinds of broad, quotable philosophy went around the web. Here’s my favorite: The country is being asked to pray for their abuser and being shamed for not feeling sorry for him.

After just a few days Trumpus, having “controlled the news cycle and got lots of free publicity,” left the hospital, claiming to have been miraculously cured, removing his mask and telling the public not to fear the virus. He received no charity bump, though, as Biden’s poll lead increased. Perhaps there really still were/are lots of undecided voters. Or perhaps some committed Trumpus voters changed their minds.

The only thing that is sure is that the nation is in utter chaos – a deeply archetypal, ritual image. The King suffers from a wound in his groin (symbolic of the capacity to generate new life), and our Parsifal is a holy fool. We know from world mythology that chaos is the necessary precursor to the re-stabilizing of cosmos, the ordering of culture. But chaos can just as easily lead to even deeper chaos. It does not by any means predict a straight line toward a happy ending. Its primary characteristic is a most profound not-knowing.

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My new peer-reviewed book, The Mythology of America's Seasonal Holidays: The Dance of the Horae has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. It explains how myths underlie our seasonal holidays, and how understanding the mythology enables us to celebrate holidays more meaningfully and enriches our lives. There are many depth psychology aspects to the myths in question, particularly in the Easter and Christmas chapters. I hope you enjoy it. Questions and comments about it are welcome here, or on my blog.

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Republican corruption: The ACLU of Georgia revealed that as recently as 2019 the state had purged nearly 200,000 citizens for moving from the addresses on their voter registration applications – none of whom had actually moved. Mitch McConnell quietly rammed through several more extreme right-wingers to lifetime federal judgeships — people who will oversee future elections. And in the topsy-turvy drama of Florida ex-felons, A federal appeals court ruled that they must pay all fines and legal fees before they can regain their right to vote. The fix – in the form of a revived poll tax – was back in.

But despite the massive evidence of GOP plans to steal the election, wrote Fairness and Accuracy in Media, the usual mainstream giants (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, etc)  were still very reluctant “to straightforwardly report the fact that Trump is trying to do so.” A rare exception is Greg Sargent, who writes, “Trump isn’t trying to win…He’s trying to get within cheating distance.”

The corruption of the Democrats (and a liberal writer): Bob Woodward is a very rich and influential man. He doesn’t need either the income or the fame that another book may bring him. His new one revealed that Trumpus knew about the consequences of the coronavirus in February and deliberately chose not to speak publicly about it. Liberals, of course, were shocked, but few seemed concerned that Woodward waited six months “…to be sure that Trump’s private comments…were accurate.” That decision most certainly contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands. We expect nothing less from Trumpus. But, wrote William Pitt:

By trading people’s lives for a larger payday, by waiting months to divulge vital information that could have forced a COVID course correction out of this administration, the man who helped take down Richard Nixon a half-century ago chose in this instance to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable.

Well over a week after the news broke that Woodward had waited so long to release the audio, everyone’s favorite liberal, Stephen Colbert, had him on his show for a very lengthy interview. At that point, the only newsworthy question was “Why did you wait?” But Colbert, who works for CBS, never asked it. Instead, they wallowed in the usual stuff: Trumpus is bad. Shocking.

Yes, we hope for a Biden victory. But in terms of on-going narratives, the career bureaucrats, lobbyists, superdelegates and officials in safe districts who make up the inner circles of the DNC have created a win-win dynamic in their ongoing attempt to marginalize progressives, including significant efforts to keep Green Party candidates off the ballot in several states. (Nothing illegal here, just hardball politics – outside of the Democratic insistence on the evils of voter suppression).

Sanders supporters will receive no credit for helping a Biden victory and all the blame if he loses, writes Keaton Weiss:

If they win in November, they’ll be sure to cite their appeals to senior citizens and college-educated whites, two traditionally conservative constituencies, as their reason for victory. In this version of events, they will tout their strategy of reaching out to the “Biden Republicans,” as Rahm Emanuel gleefully termed them, and shunning the left flank of their party…

But here’s the true evil genius of their plan: if they lose, they’ll pretend that they couldn’t successfully distance themselves from Leftists in all of the ways they actually did…they’ll no doubt blame Black Lives Matter for scaring away the affluent suburbanites…They’ll say that progressives were too loudmouthed in their advocacy for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal…They’ll say that calls to defund the police alienated center-left city dwellers…They’ll say that Bernie Sanders’ and AOC’s rise to prominence made it impossible for Democrats to shake the socialist label…they will surely be able to scapegoat progressives and push them out of their coalition; and that’s their paramount goal. So even in this version of events, they still get the sundae (crushing the Left), just without the cherry on top (defeating Trump).

Liberal innocence: This is no reason to remain disengaged. Of course, Trumpus must be removed. But Liberals must also remove something – their innocence about the American empire and America’s good intentions in the world, and their colossal ignorance about how the military budget is the unspoken basis of all discussions about government funding priorities. Whenever you hear Biden ask, Yes, but how are we going to pay for it?, know that both he and his media questioner are colluding in a very deadly game, one that will likely destroy his chances for election.

The Military-Industrial Complex appears to be enjoying this food fight between two gangs within the ruling class. Caitlin Johnstone writes:

In a recent interview…Biden said that it’s likely that America’s bloated military budget will not only remain at its current size but may actually increase under his presidency… (He) has been consistently out-hawking Trump on foreign policy by attacking him for insufficient aggression toward VenezuelaChinaNorth KoreaSyriaCuba, and of course RussiaThe Wall Street Journal’s Walter Russell Mead writes, “Democrats haven’t been this hawkish on Russia since the Kennedy administration.”

Indeed if wars are planned it seems entirely likely that they will happen regardless of what oligarchic puppet happens to be sitting in the Oval Office after January 20th, just like the escalations that were scheduled to begin against Russia under Hillary Clinton ended up getting rolled out anyway under Trump despite his vocal opposition to them…US presidents reliably campaign as doves and govern as hawks; Trump did itObama did it, even Bush did it…Still it’s hard to look at all the sabre rattling Biden and his team of ventriloquists have been doing on the campaign trail without getting the distinct impression that some major international escalations are being planned.

The stunningly incomprehensible decision to ignore Latinx Democrats: The headline “Donald Trump says Ted Cruz is on his list of potential second-term Supreme Court picks” (yes, that “Lyin’ Ted”) provoked guffaws among liberals, but they should have seen it as a warning.

In a related development, it was reported that the Democrats have been missing yet another big chance to increase turnout. Eleanor Eagan writes:

At U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a complete failure, or perhaps unwillingness, to adapt to changing conditions during the pandemic slowed new naturalizations such that hundreds of thousands who may have otherwise been able to vote this year will not be able to…For more than 70 days, it did not offer naturalization ceremonies or visa and asylum interviews…each day without naturalization ceremonies translated into “2,100 potential new voters” being disenfranchised…House Democrats’ response can only be described as muted…at no point was it clear that this was a top priority around which they were organizing a serious opposition effort.

And there have been plenty of other warnings:

Biden’s Latino outreach is under fire: ‘I can’t tell what their strategy is’

Democrats Worry Joe Biden Is Taking Latino Voters for Granted

Biden’s Lethal Latino Problem

“The Latino vote is not being taken seriously”

Biden is Losing Latino Support in South Florida, Which Could Sway Election

Joe Biden struggling with Latino voters in key state Florida, polls show

Polls show Biden lagging among Latinos in close Florida race

By the way, I must continually remind you that when we factor in voter suppression and computer fraud (which, as usual, none of these writers are doing), if the polls say a race is “close,” it really won’t be. “Close” means Trumpus wins easily. There is no universe in which Biden can afford “close.”

This issue is such an absolute scandal of completely avoidable and apparently deliberate stupidity that in political terms, we can only make sense of it by reference to the win-win dynamic I just mentioned. In psychological terms, it slides right into “Boy psychology.”

Boy psychology: do either of these candidates really want to be President? Why, at age 79, does Biden still work his ass off to become President but not take his foot off the emergency brake? And was Trumpus just flat out daring Bob Woodward way back in February to out him as an unrepentant, serial liar with no vestige of human empathy and not even any concern for the implications of the pandemic and the economic depression on his own chances for re-election?

How do we resolve the obvious contradiction between the obvious Republican plans to steal the election and my speculations about Trumpus’ equally obvious desire to be caught and punished? In practical terms it hardly matters, but I insist that what may be true on one level of consciousness is often balanced by its opposite on a more unconscious level.

But also again, I have to say that in terms of practical results, there is no equivalence here. Regardless of his unconscious preferences, Trumpus doesn’t have to do anything to win. Biden must act. He must wholeheartedly embrace the Green New deal, the Latino voting block, and most especially, Medicare For All, or he – and we – will lose.

Read more…

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Jung, Christianity, and the

Evolution of the Western God-Image


According to C. G. Jung, symbols emerging from the dreams and fantasies of his patients indicated that the Western God-image – the imago dei – was evolving in a way that contemporary Christian institutions could no longer contain and mediate. Jung felt that, if Western culture is to survive, we must engage these emerging symbols so that they may once again help us to mediate the dynamic, instinctual energies of the psyche in life-affirming ways. If we fail to do this, we run the risk of becoming possessed and driven by these unconscious instincts in chaotic and destructive ways.

Often, people fail to recognize the effect of the human psyche on culture. One reason for this is the difficulty of fully grasping the scope of Jung’s vision, which must include an appreciation of the role of mythology in his work, and of the function of mythology in human culture. According to Jung, mythology provides healing and balancing energies from the deep unconscious psyche. It provides access to these energies both for individuals, and for culture at large through its mediating function. For Jung, all religions are essentially mythological systems, and the over-riding mythological system that has dominated Western culture for centuries is the Christian myth.

Without these essential insights, it is impossible to understand Jung’s constant preoccupation with the artifacts of Christianity, especially during the last twenty years of his life. For Jung, Christianity was and is a mythological system which had long since ceased to provide its adherents access to the healing and balancing energies of the deep psyche. He saw this in the clients who populated his consulting room on a daily basis. Day after day, he saw people who were psychologically adrift, people who were alienated from, and had no connection to, their own instinctual energies.

With these concerns in mind, Jung initiated a detailed social history of Christianity in the same way he might embark on a study of an individual client’s social history when they began consulting with him. He paid particular attention to those Western cultural artifacts which had been explicitly repressed by Christian institutions, including but not limited to Gnosticism, astrology, alchemy, magic, and essentially all ‘pagan’ mythologies. Beginning with studies of Gnosticism, and culminating in his remarkable small book ‘Answer to Job’, Jung documents what he came to understand as the emergence of an evolving imago dei – a new Western God-Image, something Joseph Campbell referred to as a new myth.

Join us on Saturday, October 10th for a free introductory class on Jung’s study of Christianity and how it informed his understanding of the emerging and evolving Western God-Image. Our journey will take us through a close examination of his basic psychotherapeutic methods, how he applied these methods to his study of Christian institutions, and how they informed his understanding of the healing symbols of astrology, alchemy, and a variety of Western mythologies.

This free class will also serve as an introduction to our upcoming eight-week, college-level course on Jung, Christianity, and the evolving Western God-Image, beginning on Saturday, October 17th.

Click here to register for the free class!


Click Here to Register for Jung and Christianity, 8-week course!

Click here for more information

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Let’s look at developments in a half dozen themes that I’ve been emphasizing.

The corruption of the Republicans continues unabated. Each day brings new revelations. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced that he would be scaling back election security briefings. Trumpus encouraged North Carolina residents to vote twice. He doubled down on his praise of white supremacist violence while repeating the old fascist strategy of claiming that his opponents will do (cheat in the election) exactly what he will certainly do.

Liberals were shocked. Shocked!

There was some good news. The ACLU, citing investigations by Greg Palast, blocked the wildly inaccurate and deeply racist “Crosscheck” voter purge program in at least one state, Indiana. And Markey defeated Kennedy in Massachusetts, proving that Nancy Pelosi’s endorsement is the kiss of death among young progressives.

But Palast offered some terrifying speculations, which I summarize:

Unless Biden wins in a clear and early landslide, the election may not be determined on November 3rd but during the following week, when far-right gangs disrupt vote count centers. If they are successful in enough places, they will prevent several states from certifying the count, and neither candidate will receive the necessary electoral college votes. Then, according to Amendment 12 of the Constitution, the election will be decided in the House, with each state getting one vote. Since Republicans have majority delegations in 26 states, Trumpus wins. Is this scenario too far-fetched? It can’t happen here? Well it already has, in Florida in 2000, under the direction of Roger Stone.

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The corruption of the Democrats: Unfortunately, another progressive, Alex Morse, lost, due in large part to an anti-gay backlash set in motion by the College Democrats of the University of Massachusetts. Yes, you read that correctly. University. Democrats. Massachusetts. 

Meanwhile, Biden touted Rick Snyder’s endorsement, which one writer called his “most toxic endorsement yet”.

Liberal innocence: More polls and graphs such as these regularly show that Biden’s lead among likely voters remains strong. May it be so. But as usual, they never mention anything about Republican dirty tricks, in other words, whether those votes will actually be counted. Yet another memoir by a former Trumpus insider appeared, from Michael Cohen. And yet again, liberals – and liberal journalists – were shocked. Literally: Alternet’s headline was Shocking details from Michael Cohen tell-all book revealed after Washington Post obtained a copy! (my exclamation point).

We have been here before. Just as we’d like to think that Biden’s earnest call to our better natures would be enough to motivate most people, so we’d like to think that in some mythic America, the prospect of being shamed by the god-fearing citizenry would be enough to restrain the behavior of all but the most sociopathic of criminals. We would really like to think that sociopaths, assassins, fear mongers and organized crime bosses don’t run our government. Cohen’s book will have no effect on Trumpus’ base, since only liberals are likely to read it.  

The continuing revelations (and, sure as the sun rises, they will continue to continue) of Republican corruption are not impacting the election itself because shaming no longer works. Corruption has been normalized. After five years it’s quite clear Trumpus supporters don’t care. Some so desperately believe in him that they accept his regular denials and accusations at face value; others actually seem to boast of his crimes, interpreting them (Q-style) as proof of his actions against the Deep State.

There was a brief time when convincing citizens to act – to do the right thing – by appealing to their sense of shame actually worked. Shaming the public into supporting the civil rights movement was a successful political strategy from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, when the economy was growing, White people still had positive if patronizing attitudes toward Black people and post-assassination cynicism had not yet alienated millions from civic engagement. For more on this issue, read my essays The Civil Rights Movement in American Myth and John F. Kennedy and America’s Obsession With Innocence.

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As recently as the last years of the Obama administration, the phrase “Don’t shoot! Hands up!” – a clear acknowledgement of the legal, non-violent, non-threatening nature of anti-racist activism – had no effect on either police behavior or right-wing attitudes toward people of color. Police murders of unarmed POC continued at the same rates, not only because murderous cops were rarely held accountable, but also because they had grown up in a shame-less culture, in which conservative politicians and preachers had laid the groundwork for pride in hatred. When Trumpus arrived to give haters permission he was merely stating directly what his predecessors had been hinting at since the days of Barry Goldwater.

Here is the mythological truth: Every year, America proudly rewards its security forces for sacrificing thousands of scapegoats, as I write here: now, the only people who react negatively to new proof that American democracy no longer works (if it ever did) are the same innocent liberals who have been continually shocked by Trumpus for five years.

In lectures or radio interviews, I often ask a trick question: When did you lose your innocence? After the usual replies (JFK, 9/11, etc), I ask, When did you lose it again? In this context, to be shocked is the painful experience of having one’s cherished beliefs demolished. But when innocence is the foundation of a belief system, when a culture no longer offers its young people the initiatory rituals that affirm their unique gifts and permanently erase their childhood innocence, people live lives of denial and perpetual childishness. When a tear in the fabric of the myth of innocence appears, it quickly closes back up, and each loss of innocence, no matter how old we are or how often it happens, feels like the first time.

The Military-Industrial Complex reaffirmed, even after the news of Trumpus’ insults about American war dead (“losers and suckers”), that the generals and the arms merchants would thrive under either party.

Over 100 former staff members for Senator John McCain endorsed Biden, writes Scott Horton, “Explicitly Because He’s Worse on War”. Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido (who had received a bipartisan standing ovation at the last State of the Union address) said he is counting on U.S. plans to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro no matter who wins the election. Thirty-four Democrats with military-intelligence backgrounds won their primaries for the House, as well as three Senate candidates.

The stunningly incomprehensible decision to ignore Latinx Democrats: No news is bad news. The DNC lurched on after the convention with no apologies or explanations. This is political suicide, plain and simple. In February a poll indicated that 73% of Latinxs said they were “certain” to vote in November. However, after Biden secured the nomination, that number dropped to 60%. It has rebounded somewhat since then, but not up to the earlier figure. Two-thirds of them will support Biden – if they can find places to vote.

Boy psychology: do either of these candidates really want to be President? Political scientists accurately describeTrumpus’s fear mongering as an ugly but rational strategy going back to the Jim Crow years. But his hate mongering and worse, his violence mongering are unique in presidential politics, representing a wild gamble that they will garner him enough support. In conjunction with voter suppression, computer fraud and Biden’s mistakes it could work. But this is no monolithic universe; what may appear to be appropriate (if evil) realpolitik at one level of motivation may at another level be deliberate, adolescent provocation, upping of the ante, and ultimately a cry for help. Stop me!

Meanwhile, a pre-convention poll claimed that 56% of likely Biden supporters are voting for him because “He Is Not Trump,” proof that he still hasn’t offered anything positive, let alone progressive, to the 100 million other people who, once again, probably won’t vote. I doubt if, during the convention, appeals to our better nature – and moderate Republicans – changed much of that reality.

Once again, we have to wonder not simply whether the Democrats are repeating the failed strategy of appealing to suburbanites while shunning progressives, but whether this guy really wants to get elected. If we can agree that four more years of Trumpus would certainly destroy our last chance to prevent global environmental collapse, not to mention a 7-2 Republican majority on the Supreme Court, then we can at least wonder whether the future of humanity depends on Joe Biden’s unconscious desire for failure. Ralph Nader writes:

Biden should be thirty points ahead in the polls against the delusional, falsifying, lawless, selected occupant of the White House…Instead, Biden’s lead is in single digits and he is having a hard time getting the offensive Trump on the defense.

Trumpus goes low, doing everything possible to provoke violence and arouse his base (the predatory imagination manipulating the paranoid imagination), praising the Kenosha killer, while Biden’s strategy of going high would be a fine strategy in a normal world. But idealistic language without actual progressive policies sounds insincere, because it is. People are not stupid if they are apathetic about voting, and treating them as if they are only makes things worse.

Let’s face it: Biden is uninspiring in both style and substance, while Trumpus makes crazy people crazier and more likely to act. Michael Moore, who was so enthusiastic about Kamala Harris only a month ago, is now saying that that “enthusiasm for Trump is off the charts” in the swing states and he’s mentioning polls indicating that the race is tightening. Whom to believe?

I hope he’s wrong, but he was right four years ago.

Do polls (other than exit polls) tell us anything at all? Why haven’t we heard of polls that ask, If you are not planning to vote, would you change your mind and vote Democratic if Biden announced that he is supporting Medicare For All? One reason we haven’t is that polls question likely voters, but this begs the question. To me, it’s the elephant in the national living room, and it’s growing larger by the day.

One hundred million non-voters, the majority of whom are young, have no health insurance and are one paycheck away from being evicted (if they have jobs at all). If one tenth of them voted, the result would be a Democratic landslide. WTF?

Biden’s one chance, and one only, to win: Trumpus’ incendiary language is effective, and Biden’s isn’t. Still, I predict that Biden would succeed – again, if this were a normal election without the certainty of massive fraud. For what it’s worth, here are two predictions:

To win, Biden will need a solid ten-point lead in most of the battleground states on election day. And even if he does, voter fraud will make it quite close, the Dems won’t flip the Senate, and Trumpus, at the very least, will contest the results.

OR: Biden announces his support of MFA, makes it the core of his campaign and enters election day with a lead so huge that no Republican dirty tricks can change it.

One hundred million non-voters. Biden still has time to motivate them. If he doesn’t, well, I guess he’ll get what he really wants, and deserves.

Read more…

Jungian analyst Murray Stein writes:

“Steven Herrmann is one of those rare individuals who can brilliantly bring intellectual prowess and visionary depth together in a graceful dance of prose and poetry. In this work he presents the many cross-overs and parallels between two similarly gifted thinkers, C.G. Jung and William James. A comparative study of these two giants of modernity is long overdue, and Steven Hermann is perfectly prepared to cover this match in all its splendor.”

Murray Stein, Ph.D., author of Transformation: Emergence of the Self (1998), president of the International School for Analytical Psychology (ISAP) in Zürich, and past president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP).

 

Steven Herrmann offers each reader an intriguing journey through an open and curious exploration of human nature by two of the most influential psychologists of our times: the philosopher William James, Harvard professor and founder of American psychology, and C. G. Jung, who expanded our view of the psyche and the nature of the unconscious. Based on historical research and a nuanced reading of their works, Steven Herrmann elucidates their reflections on the streams of consciousness, psychophysics, pragmatism, pluralism, yoga, spiritual democracy, vocational dreams, synchronicity, transmarginal fields, and the Self.

"Doorways to the Self" is not a mere metaphor but an invitation to recognize the living spiritual reality in every person. This book is an important contribution to the history of psychology in America and the influence of James on C.G. Jung as well as a fascinating exploration of what it means to be human.

My new book is currently in Press at Analytical Psychology Press in 2020. 

https://www.analyticalpsychologypress.com/

My book will soon be available by the end of the Summer 2020 at Itasca Books: 

https://itascabooks.com/psychology/

Read more…

Part Seven

In previous posts I offered several main points to consider about this election:

1 – The corruption of the Republicans / the Elephant in the Living Room

2 – The corruption of the Democratic National Committee

3 – The naïve innocence of liberals and intellectuals

4 – The surprisingly neutral position of the Military-Industrial Complex

5 – Boy psychology: do either of these candidates really want to be President?

This month we have two more issues to ponder: the choice of Kamala Harris for Vice President, and the Democratic convention.

1 – The utter, utter corruption of the Republican Party, from the absolute top to the absolute bottom, is becoming clearer. The media and the public have finally begun to acknowledge that this national crime syndicate / conspiracy cult is capable of doing absolutely anything to retain power. And all but the most radically naïve among us are realizing that racist con men like Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach are the norm, not the exception. 

This astonishingly rapid change in awareness has resulted almost entirely from Trumpus’ brazen attempt to destroy the Post Office in a year when voting by mail is a matter of public health. It all happened in less than two weeks:

8/7: ‘Friday Night Massacre’ at US Postal Service as Postmaster General—a Major Trump Donor—Ousts Top Officials

8/10: Lawmakers Demand Removal of Postmaster General DeJoy 

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8/13: Postal Service Confirms It Has Removed Mailboxes in Portland and Eugene

8/14: Postal Service warns states across US about mail voting

8/14: Mail sorting machines across the country being removed 

8/16: At least 21 states plan to sue USPS over mail delays, despite rollback of policy changes  

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8/19: Trump campaign sues New Jersey over mail-in voting 

8/17: House Democrats summon Trump Postmaster General to explain sabotages 

8/17: A comprehensive guide to the sabotage of the United States Postal Service 

8/18: Postmaster general DeJoy caves under pressure after outcry about delays and threats to the election 

These revelations come with good and bad news. The Good News is that more and more liberals and progressives are waking up to the massive corruption in the system that Democratic leaders have ignored for the past five Presidential elections (including the Obama victories). To restate what I’ve written before: if not for voter suppression and computer fraud (not to even mention voter apathy) the Democrats would have won all five votes (and both houses of Congress) by massive landslides. We are talking about new openings appearing in the myth of American innocence, and Trumpus doesn’t seem interested in hiding any of it. 

But an honest look at our history also shows that such rents have appeared many times before, and that the oligarchs who control both parties have always responded by putting forth candidates such as Obama whose primary duty is to repair those openings and put the public back to sleep. This brings us to the bad news, the growing presence of (and refusal to acknowledge) the various elephants in the living room. As Greg Palast has been warning for years, even if Congress were to completely repair the Post Office scandal, voter suppression – especially having to do with the vote-by-mail process – and computer fraud can still give Trumpus his win.

And so far, public awareness of Post Office scandal has not resulted in any significant repair of the situation. DeJoy is simply refusing to undo any of the massive damage he’s done to the Post Office’s ability to deliver the mail, and there’s little the House can do, with the Senate on a month-long vacation.

8/19: USPS Workers Told Not to Reinstate Mail Sorting Machines in Internal Email 

8/19: Dismantling Continues After DeJoy Said It Stopped

8/20: USPS Sorting Machines Are Still Being Dismantled Despite DeJoy’s Promise to Stop 

8/21: DeJoy Has “No Intention” to Reinstall Sorting Machines, Mailboxes 

According to California representative Ro Khanna, the mail sorting machines that DeJoy ordered removed were primarily in swing states:

Florida: 59

Texas: 58

Ohio: 34

Pennsylvania: 30

Michigan: 26

N. Carolina: 15

Virginia: 12

Wisconsin: 12

Georgia: 11

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has dealt yet another blow to the right of ex-felons to vote in Florida, and evidence is emerging of Republican plans to send an illegal army of intimidators to polling places in minority neighborhoods.

Beyond that, it would be foolish not to expect the Republicans to dip into an arsenal of dirty tricks and October surprises that they have cultivated and refined ever since the days of Richard Nixon, up to and including threats of war with Russia, China, Iran, Nicaragua, Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela.

We should expect an ‘October surprise’ from Bill Barr 

October Surprise — Will War with Iran Be Trump’s Election Eve Shocker?

How Trump’s Planning to Win

Trump Threatens To Crash Economy If He Loses 2020

Forget the Nasty Insults. Trump Plans to Sabotage the Election 

2 – The only slightly less despicable corruption of the DNC: As I wrote in Part One of this series, I hope that Biden will prevail over Trumpus because the stakes are too high to imagine another four years of this madness. However, we have to awake from our innocent fantasies about the progressive intentions of the Democrats. There is absolutely no doubt that the DNC fixed the results of most of their primaries to steal the nomination from Bernie sanders. I offered abundant evidence in Part Three, but if you need more on-the-ground reportage of the process, read Craig Jardula’s article “I Witnessed the Death of Democracy.” 

Vote or work for Biden. However, as Russell Dobular writes, we must understand the Democratic leadership as  

 …a party primarily concerned with raking in big bucks from wealthy donors, while drawing enough superficial distinctions with their opponents to maintain their identity as a separate party…No modern Democrat has ever won without high youth voter turnout, and there’s no way they didn’t understand that crushing the candidate of young voters was going to suppress their vote. Nor has any modern Democrat ever won without a high share of the Latino vote, and yet they chose to publicly and openly conspire against the candidate who was the clear choice of Latino voters…Without coronavirus, Biden was a sure loser and there’s no way the party’s decision makers and strategists didn’t understand that. No, they aren’t that stupid…the battle they’re fighting is only secondarily against the GOP, and primarily against the left wing of their own party… 

A mythological perspective acknowledges that when a society is in decline, it elevates the very worst of its people to positions of power and grants them permission to engage in acts of cruelty that in earlier times had been restrained by public shaming, and still earlier, through effective ritual. As my book argues, such patterns inevitably include the literalization of the old myths of the sacrifice of the children.

The difference? The GOP is consistently, uncompromisingly evil and for a long time has had no one in leadership with any ethical standards whatsoever. This absolutely includes the “Never Trumpers” who spoke at the Democratic Convention this week, such as the war criminal Collin Powell. Throughout their careers these people have consistently supported the worst of the Republican agenda. They simply think that Trumpus is “bad for the brand.”As for the Democrats, their leadership, for their own nefarious reasons, stilltolerate vestiges of idealism among their activists.

3 – Liberal innocence: This is not the first American election that is likely to be sabotaged. Liberals who may be shocked by the growing evidence of Trump’s willingness to do so are, once again, revealing their innocent belief in an our peculiarly unique form of exceptionalism, that “it can’t happen here,” or at least that it hasn’t happened yet.

I pointed this out last month, and it continues. Academics, at least liberal academics, seem to prefer to live in some kind of neo-Platonic world of ideal archetypes and pure science, especially Political Science and Economics, that give no credence to human imperfection. Every day, articles such as this one appear: “Polls Favor Biden: Is It Different This Time?” Like its predecessors in 2016 and this year, it does not mention voter suppression, computer fraud or even the Post Office scandal. Neither does it make any attempt to explain the critical difference between exit polls and official results.

4 – The Military-Industrial Complex: Here are several more articles that support my argument that the generals and the arms merchants have little concern for who wins in November.

Boeing CEO Confident in Military Spending No Matter Who Wins November Election 

House Democrats unite to pass $733B defense bill 

Biden And His Ventriloquists Keep Out-Hawking Trump 

The 2020 Race Is Down to Center-Right vs. Far Right

US Intelligence: If Trump Wins Russia Did It, If Biden Wins It Was China & Iran

5 – Kamala Harris: There’s plenty of writing (and evidence) of her position as a moderate among Democrats, and there’s no need to repeat any of it here or show a photo of her hugging it up with the war criminal Netanyahu. Instead, I’m going to ignore my normal cynicism and quote Michael Moore:

Biden could’ve swung right (Susan Rice), but he swung left. Kamala is one of the most progressive Senators in the US Senate and will…be the most progressive Vice President in the history of the United States. She is and remains one of the first co-sponsors of Bernie’s Medicare for All bill. In fact, go down the list — she checks nearly every box on Bernie’s platform: Living Wage, Choice, LGBTQ+ equality, peace, child care, etc.

It says a lot about Biden that after she rightly confronted him about race in that first debate that he held no grudge, no animosity. In fact, he might say it gave him pause and a chance to consider how his friendship with segregationist Senators might have been hurtful to people of color and that, even at this age, he can change, he can do better. As progressives, isn’t that at the core of what we stand for? Isn’t that the change we are fighting for? Our belief that America can do better and that our fellow Americans will join us in this movement for a more just and equitable society? Kamala Harris is one more step in that direction.

I’ve met her a few times and I can tell you (and you know I won’t BS you on this because I pretty much despise all politicians), she’s sincere, she has heart, she’s on our side. No, she’s not you or me. But we’re not on the ballot. WE are the movement, which in the long run is what is going to get us what we need. We keep building that movement, we will succeed. And one of our missions in 2020 is to crush Trump, reclaim the Senate and bring down the system of greed, racism, misogyny and white male privilege that gave us Trump — because that, my friends, is what has thrown us into the mad, dark hole we’re in…Black America once again saving us and forcing us to be what we say we are but never were. 

May it be so!  

Part Eight

The Democratic Convention: Virtual liberals. The body language of Chuck Shumer and others seemed to express discomfort and insincerity as they addressed video cameras rather than actual people. But this exemplified the fact that – despite the constant presence of women and people of color – the corporate Democrats clearly see the party’s base as their primary enemy, and the GOP as secondary. The Republicans won’t look so fake in their convention, because (minus the ubiquitous con-men) many of them are committed racists, misogynists and self-perceived victims of those same POC. Their anger is real, if utterly privileged.

The virtual liberals were long on rhetoric, short on specific policy. Most criticism of Trump was about his incompetent mismanagement of the pandemic, not about his foreign, economic, environmental or tax policies. This was a clear and uneasy reminder that if it were not for the pandemic and the resultant economic crisis, Biden and his corporate lobbyists would not be leading in the polls. David Moore writes:

For a political party whose platform calls for “sustainable economic growth, which will create good-paying jobs and raise wages,” the Democratic National Committee has appointed a lot of lobbyists for major corporations that oppose wage growth to its top committees. Over one-third of the DNC’s Executive Committee and nearly two-thirds of the Rules and Bylaws Committee are registered as corporate lobbyists, work as corporate consultants, or have backgrounds in furthering corporate influence in politics.

A parade of pro-Biden Republicans: John Kasich, Meg Whitman, Susan Molinari, Colin Powell, Christine Todd Whitman and others (including the ghost of the warmonger John McCain, who had voted with Trumpus 83% of the time) agreed that Trumpus is no good (shocking!), as if there are any undecided voters out there this year who might be impressed. Indeed, four of the 13 main speakers at the 1996 GOP convention spoke. WTF? William Rivers Pitt reminds us that

…establishment Democrats still believe that if they act more like Republicans, Republicans will stop being mean to them. It is the long tragedy of the age…I don’t need to hear from four Republicans who stood by and let Trump happen to their party and then the world tell me how bad things are right now. The monster got out of their goddamn lab, and people like them want to paper over the hole in the wall. Maybe nobody will notice where he came from? Maybe not. Kasich standing at the white-gravel crossroads as he spoke was every inch the shallow, sophomoric symbolism of the modern conservative who is trying to wash off the blood.

In a letter released hours before Biden’s acceptance speech, over 70 senior officials endorsed him. This illustrious group included former CIA Director Michael Hayden and life-long war criminal John Negroponte.

The mainstream media was just so unanimously happy to praise Biden’s “centrist Coalition” for “steering clear of progressive demands.” 

The astonishing, highly visible decision to make Latinx Democrats nearly invisible: All this was going on while Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was allowed one minute to speak (she took a minute and a half), and former candidate Julián Castro, who had given a keynote address during the 2012 convention, whose 2020 platform had called for reform of the police before it was fashionable, was – inexplicably – not asked to speak at all, even though the other major candidates did speak.

screen-shot-2020-08-23-at-4.11.13-pm-1.jpeg?w=576&profile=RESIZE_710x                           Can you guess who is missing?

Indeed, Latinx Democrats (four, and one was the actress Eva Longoria) received the same number of prime-time slots as Republicans, despite the fact that Latinx voters will be second only to white voters as the largest eligible voting bloc in the country. This was so irrational, insulting and utterly amateurish as to fit into a long-term pattern, Biden’s history of self-sabotage (see below). Given his excellent speech, this is troubling.

Other Shenanigans in the virtual smoke-filled rooms: On Tuesday, the day after Bernie Sanders spoke in favor of Biden, the DNC finalized the party platform, quietly removing an amendment calling for an end to federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. It was a longstanding demand of climate activists that both Biden and Kamala Harris had claimed to support. (Two weeks before, the platform committee had blocked Medicare for All, as well as a proposal calling for the legalization of marijuana.)

That same day, the Biden campaign disavowed Palestinian American activist Linda Sarsour, attacking her over her support for the BDS movement, after she appeared at the Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly side event to the Convention. Taking yet another position well to the right of many young party activists, the platform strongly condemned BDS without criticizing Israel’s brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine. Insiders claimed that Biden, after heavy pressure from pro-Israel groups, had personally intervened to make sure the word “occupation” was omitted from the platform,  even as the Israelis bombed Gaza for the eleventh straight night.

On the final day of the convention, Nancy Pelosi further alienated progressives. She ignored her policy of backing incumbent House Democrats against primary challengers and endorsed Joe Kennedy III over the more progressive incumbent, Ed Markey. Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, said, “This move reeks of hypocrisy. The party is setting one standard for progressives and one entirely different standard for the establishment.” But this is the age (may it be so) of unexpected consequences. According to one report, Pelosi’s endorsement of Kennedy resulted in $100,000 in donations for Kennedy, and $300,000 for Markey, from 9,000 separate contributors.

Boy Psychology: Does either candidate really want to win? Now we move from political commentary to psychology, from “Trump vs. Biden” to “Trumpus vs. Hide’n Biden.”

As I wrote in Part Six of this series, our 400-year mythology of American Innocence has conjured up one man who embodies the very worst of our possibilities but who is, literally, us; and the other who models for us all the futile attempt to hide the truth from ourselves; each of them so invested in his persona and so unwilling to consider introspection that he can barely censor himself. One is crying, Stop me before I drive this red sports car into my wall! The other is driving another sports car, with his foot on the emergency brake, wondering why he can’t get where he wants to go.

Trumpus: In 2016 his greatest support came from veterans and retired white people (see my essay on the “greatest generation”), who had defeated Fascism (how ironic), taken advantage of the G.I. Bill, built post-war America and eventually voted for a series of Republican presidents who proceeded to withhold those same benefits from their own grandchildren. This is a prime example of how we literalize the old myths of the killing of the children.

Earlier this month, he horrified these folks by admitting that if he is re-elected, he will permanently de-fund Social Security and Medicare. The news was so shocking that even Forbes, that bastion of free-market capitalism (it literally calls itself a “capitalist tool”), lamented “Trump’s dangerous attack on America’s safety net.”

This news was quickly followed by testimonies that his sabotage of the postal service was already slowing down delivery of vital medicines. Veterans Affairs uses USPS to fill about 80% of veteran prescriptions. The Independent reported:

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans said they received medications through the mail last week…Of those, a quarter said they experienced some delay or lack of delivery. Although only 5 per cent of the nation’s retail prescriptions were delivered to consumers by mail last year, the Postal Service handled perhaps half of the volume, some 100 million prescriptions…But use of mail order for prescriptions rose by 20 per cent when the US outbreaks spread in March, compared with the previous year, as people stockpiled medications during lockdown.

We can certainly assume that a large percentage of the people impacted by this insane decision are seniors who had previously supported Trumpus and every Republican before him. Why alienate them? WTF is going on? Trumpus, more than anyone, is certainly aware of the investigations and prosecutions that will begin if he loses the election – and his treasured presidential immunity. I can see only three possibilities. One is that he is so confident of cheating his way to victory in November that he thinks he can continue to pursue the Koch brothers’ crusade to privatize the Post Office. The second is that he could leverage an electoral loss through his well-known accusations that it could only happen as a result of Democratic mail fraud. Speculations abound. The third is that he is quite deliberately (if unconsciously) sabotaging his own future.

They need that money in order to have the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions of ballots. If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting. – Trumpus

For years, the mainstream media had made little of his scandals (see my essay, Normalizing Trump) But now, writes Amanda Marcotte, his cheating is finally news:

Even the fact that Trump confessed on live TV to the conspiracy was no guarantee that the story wouldn’t sink beneath the waves. On the contrary, Trump often uses confessions to make scandals disappear, relying on people’s assumption that his criminality and corruption can’t be that big a deal if he’s so open about it…. (but this time) when Trump confessed on Fox Business to slow-walking post office funding so that he could steal the election, there wasn’t the usual parsing over whether or not he actually said the thing he clearly said…Now that his corruption is threatening their ability not just to vote but to receive all the things ordinary people get by mail, there’s good reason to believe it will finally come back to bite him.

May it be so. May he get exactly what he is asking for. All this was amplified when agents of the Postal Service (more irony!) arrested Steve Bannon for mail fraud…And what about Biden?

Hide’n Biden: Would he, or wouldn’t he was the question on everyone’s mind, wondering if Joe would stumble in his delivery, ending his presidential bid before it even started,” wrote Scott Ritter. Given that Biden was reading from a teleprompter, many supporters were certainly gratified that he didn’t vomit up any of his characteristic gaffes. (What an astonishing low bar!) But he – that is, his brand – performed well. He actually seemed to want to be President, and for all the right reasons. But, asks Ritter,

For every policy that Biden claims he will improve on, the question must be asked why had he not acted on it in his previous life as a senior senator or as vice president of the United States?

Non-gaffes aside, my question of whether he might be subverting his stated intentions hinges on basic political questions. Is he willing to represent the needs and aspirations of his constituents? Beyond their disgust with Trumpus, can he motivate enough people to stand in long, socially-distanced lines for hours, with Republican thugs harassing them at polling stations far from their homes, in potentially bad weather, on a work day (if they have work) to actually vote, knowing that their votes may well not be counted? Or venture into the stinking morass of mail-in voting?

Is he willing to say what they want to hear? More practically: are his handlers willing to gamble that he can win, despite the massive voter suppression and computer fraud that are certain to occur, without offering anything substantive to the young, the POC and the progressives who make up his actual base? I have my doubts.

As I mentioned above, his (or the DNC’s) exclusion of Julián Castro from the speakers list and their insulting limit of one minute’s time AOC – the two best-known and respected non-entertainer Latinx figures in the country – is absolutely inexplicable.

These decisions will most certainly come back to haunt him.

Biden’s fanatical devotion to Israel has alienated hundreds of actual activists, the kind of people who might have been counted upon to motivate thousands of others to get out into the streets and work for him, and to stand in voting lines to counter the right-wing bullies.

Ralph Nader summarizes what the convention did not address:

The gross distortion of the federal budget with over 50% of operating expenditures going to the Pentagon, the bloated military contractors, and the pursuit of a boomeranging, draining Empire. Speakers could have felt secure by quoting President Eisenhower’s farewell warnings regarding the military-industrial complex…

There was much talk of expanding social safety net programs, but little or no discussion about how to pay for these vital programs…no demand, other than a passing reference in Biden’s speech, to repeal the $2 trillion Trump tax cut for the super-wealthy…no demand to cut enormous corporate welfare payouts…no push for a financial sales tax on Wall Street trading…It would have been easy and popular to call for more law and order and adequate enforcement budgets to catch corporate crooks…

One would think that the unconstitutional, illegal, mass surveillance by federal agencies, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, would be worth a shout out…What about telling people about changes the Democrats want to make in the country’s foreign policy? What about the role of monopolistic corporations escaping taxes by using overseas tax havens, fomenting trouble, and exploiting indigenous people in foreign lands? Wouldn’t you think Convention speakers would report the crimes, misdeeds, and corporate takeovers of our government’s agencies and departments by Trump’s big-business henchmen? Look at EPA, OSHA, the CFPB, and the Departments of Interior, Labor, Agriculture, and other health/safety regulatory agencies and the life-saving and economic protections Trump and his cronies have shut down…

But even Nader misses the elephant in this particular living room. In this time of pandemic, with twenty-seven million people having lost their employer-provided medical insurance, with expensive Covid tests, long hospital stays and permanent heart damage to many of the survivors, his refusal to endorse Medicare for All – and his well-publicized statement that he’d veto it if Congress passed it – is the clear winner, or, we might say, loser.

Look, eighty-freaking-seven percent of Democrats want Medicare for All. That’s as close as you can get to unanimous in politics (topped only by the 91% of the public who support the USPS). Sixty-nine percent of all voters! Biden brags about working across the aisle with Republicans. Well, forty-six percent of them want it! Do I have to put this in all-caps?

Of course Biden is utterly beholden to the insurance companies and Big Pharma. But to not jump on the MFA bandwagon, to not acknowledge which way the wind is blowing, is pure idiocy – or pure sabotage. What’s shocking is that he refuses to do the obvious political move: endorse MFA, campaign on it, distinguish himself from Trumpus on it, get a massive boost in the polls from it, get elected on it, and then quietly bury it in some committee for years.

Every president has done this with certain issues. Johnson ran on peace and gave us Viet Nam. Nixon had a “secret plan to end the war” and invaded Cambodia. Reagan promised small government and left the largest deficits in history. George W. Bush promised to be a fiscal conservative and left massive deficits. Trump promised to drain the swamp, etc, etc.

There are very few instances in American history when the prevailing winds are so clear. To not at least pretend to favor MFA is pissing in the wind. Pure self-sabotage. But at this point, we have no choice but to reframe this. Psychological speculations aside, Biden has a political history of knowing those winds, and would be willing, we hope, to be pushed. Back in March, Charles Pierce wrote that Biden has always been a loyal party man who went along with its turn to the right in the 1990s. And…

…how sincere do you believe Joe Biden is in his newfound adoption of positions that would have been unthinkable 20 years — or 20 months — before[?]…If he thinks that’s where the party’s headed, he will go along. His history proves that he will, and that he likely will do it with gusto.

Biden reads the winds. If it continues to blow leftward, he may decide to blow with them. May it be so.

But he cannot wait until after the election. Otherwise, as I wrote earlier, we have to acknowledge that not giving a hundred million people reason to think that their votes might matter represents a profound contempt for democracy, a barely disguised wish for self-destruction, and a stolen election.

From this perspective, it’s a race to the bottom, with neither man really wanting the prize. The problem for us, for the environment, for the future, is that Trumpus doesn’t need to do anything proactive to win. The Republican Party already has an army of con-men and thugs, and its plans are already in place. Even if, in some alternate universe, Trumpus were to come to awareness of his own psychological dynamics, there’s little he could do to prevent being re-elected short of abdicating, and prospects of jailtime certainly mitigate against that.

Biden, on the other hand, must act. He must stop hide’n and face the fact that even his double-digit lead in the polls is nowhere large enough to overcome the massive disenfranchisement, bullying and computer fraud that is already in place. It’s in place because it was used four years ago and several times before that. Greg Palast argues that mail-in voting has already been a disaster in America:

Twenty-two percent of all mail-in votes never get counted. And that was under Barack Obama, when they were promoting mail-in voting. What is going to happen with Trump and the Republicans?

One in 10 people who ask for absentee ballots do not get them. One in 10 people who do get their ballots and send them back have their ballots rejected, thrown out and not counted… (But) very little of this has to do with the post office. The biggest reason why people don’t get their ballots is that they are not registered voters…Seventeen million people have been purged during the last few years…The real theft of the 2020 presidential election is not the lack of mailboxes that will stop people from mailing in their ballots or getting them. It’s not the lack of sorting machines. It is a lack of commitment to counting ballots by both parties.

Biden has to act, and he’s not used to acting. The polls are meaningless. I’m sorry to say this, but I think his only chance to win is to embrace Medicare For All whole-heartedly. Without that, literally tens of millions of liberal-leaning people will not bother voting, and he is going to need every one of them.

We really are in one of the most bizarre moments in the history of democracy. In such times, as Michael Meade says, anything worth saying is worth exaggerating. We are holding our noses to vote for a candidate who has nothing but contempt for our values, and we may well be wanting him to succeed more than he does.

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Part Four

Two Senile, Old White Guys Who Want to be President – Or Do They?

I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters. – Trumpus

This essay is not really about politics, except to the extent that politics reflects mythology. Our first responsibility as mythological thinkers is to cultivate discrimination, to take a step back and attempt to perceive the narratives that are being played out in our culture, how they circulate within our psyches, before we can begin to offer new ones. We must understand how we participate in those stories through our own unconscious acceptance of their primary themes. We must acknowledge how they have constrained our view of the world within narrow parameters of the possible.

And before we can engage effectively in the cutthroat world of politics, we must actively grieve how they have diminished our lives, because our constrained view of the world also means a restricted view of ourselves. It means that at some level we believe that we deserve no more than what these old men have to offer. It means that we have traded a moral, visceral, natural response to the world for a fragile sense of innocence. It means that we give our consent to perpetuating a world in which the father gods offer their children for sacrifice.

Within this world, Biden would be smart to refuse to debate Trumpus. If debates happen, consider that

Idealization says more about our own psychological projections than it does about the candidates. When, after one of these debates, you hear yourself say (about either candidate), “He seems like a nice enough guy; I just don’t agree with his positions,” know that the ritual has been successful. The “nice guy” has proven that he can play the role if called upon; he has passed the audition.

Who are these guys? What really drives them? Please, please don’t tell me that either of them is motivated at any level of consciousness by a sense of duty to the nation, by a desire to serve the people. To do so is to reveal your own insistence on American innocence. It is to reveal your addiction to the culture of celebrity, your willingness to project your own inner nobility onto an image of a person, not the person himself.

We absolutely will never know what either of these men actually thinks, except (see below) when they speak spontaneously. Otherwise, as I wrote above, anything spoken for the public by anyone at that level of power has been composed for them by professional speechwriters, carefully vetted in front of multiple focus groups, and edited precisely to fit the perceived needs of a very specific audience so as to manipulate its views.

That’s our baseline here. But we are also talking about two old men. Not too long ago, we would have called them very old, and today we have legitimate concerns about senility (the word is related to senator), just as we had, or should have had, with Ronald Reagan. Reagan, at least, even in his decline, could still read a script.

For four years liberals have been laughing (perhaps to keep from crying) at Trumpus’ gaffes and verbal mistakes. But for the past year, they’ve been cringing as Biden’s gaffes pile up, Fox News insists on his “cognitive decline,” and even Trumpus challenges Biden to take the cognition test that he himself had “aced.” Only in America. If you really need to be reminded, you can see Biden’s gaffes here, here or here.

Actually, it is the state of public discourse that has entered cognitive decline when the two major parties are each selling their candidate as the one who is less demented than the other guy. But I’m not that concerned; if I or you were on camera as often as they are, someone could easily compile similar (highly edited) comic videos about us. And Biden (sigh) is our guy. What interests me is the unconscious psychological strategies that their gaffes reveal.

Trumpus  trump-smirking-and-smiling-610x360-1.jpg?w=302&h=178&profile=RESIZE_710x            

Of course Trumpus is mad as a hatter, as countless psychiatrists argue. He is a malignant narcissist (see here and here and here); a sociopath; a psychopath who is a son of a sociopath and/or a sexual sadist who is utterly incapable of human concern and empathy.

So what?

After four, or six, or thirty years of watching this guy on TV, do these diagnoses still surprise you? Do you still react to his latest threat, lie, brag, insult or cruel decision by posting it to Facebook and sharing it – your surprise – with your friends. Well, of course we all do this; but consider that the subject of the sentence, “I can’t believe he said this new thing!” is myself and my own wounded innocence. The shock below the shock is really that Trumpus = Trump / us.

Of course, writes Alex Morris, merely having a mental illness wouldn’t necessarily disqualify Trumpus for the presidency. It doesn’t even make him that unusual:

A 2006 study published in the Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease found that 18 of the first 37 presidents met criteria for having a psychiatric disorder, from depression (24 percent) and anxiety (eight percent) to alcoholism (eight percent) and bipolar disorder (eight percent). Ten of them exhibited symptoms while in office, and one of those 10 was arguably our best president, Abraham Lincoln, who suffered from deep depression…

But despite our wounded innocence, we know that we are dealing with a special case. We know that he schemes constantly to feed his narcissism. We know that he gets deep pleasure by deliberately manipulating, insulting, cheating and stealing from and even hurting anyone and everyone he can get into his clutches. And we know that he’s been doing these things his entire life. And the lies: The WAPO claims that he made 19,127 false or misleading claims in 1,226 days. Clearly, he gets pleasure not from money but from what the money represents – cheating, conning, frightening and manipulating people. Psychologist John Gartner writes:

He enjoys ripping people off and humiliating people. He does this manically and gleefully… Trump is also a sexual sadist, who on some basic level enjoys and is aroused by watching people be afraid of him. In his mind, Trump is creating chaos and instability so that he can feel powerful…Professor of psychiatry and psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg called that phenomenon “omnipotent destructiveness.”…Trump is a master at getting negative attention, and the more people he can shock and upset, the better.

Psychoanalyzing public figures usually tells us more about ourselves than it does about them, but this time we need to go there. We may lie for perverse pleasure – or for some deeper reason. Psychoanalyst Lance Dodes suggests that Trumpus tells “two kinds of lies: the ones he tells others to scam them, and those he tells himself.”

That’s an interesting statement that may carry us to Trumpus’ core, and possibly to the core of American myth. I think this is critical: many insiders have leaked accounts of how he gets bored and constantly seeks to increase the level of risk. With each new tweet, press conference, dismissing of a regulatory bureaucrat, betrayal of a supporter or revelation of the latest scandal, he seems to be constantly upping the ante to see how much he can get away with, before – what? I won’t begin a list because it would take too long, and we’ve all been watching this, daily, for years now. We turn to our spouse and say: I can’t believe it! Just when we think we’ve seen it all, when he couldn’t possibly do or say anything worse – there he goes again.

I propose two bookmarks that define his MOA. The first is the infamous boast at the beginning of his campaign on January 23rd, 2016:

They say I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.

He got away with that because, as Selena Zito wrote, “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

The second occurred 3½ years later. On July 24th, 2019 Robert Mueller told Congress that the Justice Department has long argued that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and therefore he was declining to indict Trumpus for either obstruction of justice or campaign finance violations. James Risen writes:

…Most people who survive that kind of legal threat would lie low, at least for a while, and try to get back to some level of normalcy. But Trump is a habitual criminal, and his reaction to escaping Mueller’s investigation was to go on yet another crime spree…

From that frying pan, Trumpus leaped into the fire, calling the president of Ukraine, asking him to work with Rudy Giuliani and William Barr to help them manufacture lies about Joe Biden and his son Hunter (more on Hunter later), and clearly offering financial incentives. When the news came out, Adam Schiff, a broken clock who is right twice a day, tweeted, “The transcript of the call reads like a classic mob shakedown.”

No surprises here. The only reason I mention this particular outrage is that it occurred the very next day after Mueller’s testimony.

Trumpus knew perfectly well that intelligence spooks listen in to all his calls. I suggest that – at some level – he knew that this conversation would soon be made public, he was quite deliberately pushing the envelope of provocation and self-incrimination. I imagine his internal logic like this: Well, they refused to catch me last time; maybe this will get their attention. He was – and is – asking to get caught, and he still has the re-election campaign (Goddess protect us) to up the ante further.

What is he really doing? Yes, he’s America’s premier con man.  But look inside every huckster or shyster and you’ll find a low-level trickster, a rebellious adolescent provoking his parents, older brother or teachers by repeatedly transgressing some rule or agreement of social decorum, just, so he thinks, to get a rise out of them.

Or consider a slightly older male “leaving rubber” in his flashy, red sports car, daring the cops. You know the color – I call it “bust me red.” 78749081-man-behaving-badly-could-be-dementia.jpg?w=640&profile=RESIZE_710xIsn’t he hoping to get caught and have clear limits set on his behavior? Here are some more troubling examples, two from life, one from art and one from mythology:

In 1946 at the scene of one of his crimes, the serial killer William Heirens scrawled these words on a mirror: For heaven’s sake catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself. 

In 1993 a young girl named Polly Klaas was kidnapped and murdered in a case that would lead to California’s “Three Strikes” law. The culprit was a multiple offender named Richard Allen Davis.  th.jpg?w=330&h=172&profile=RESIZE_710x I mention him because a study of his life reveals a pattern. Each time he was released from prison he quickly went on to commit worse behavior, until he enacted the ultimate crime of child murder. It was almost as if each of his actions had been a cry for attention: For heaven’s sake catch me. Until you pay attention, I will continue to up the ante.

saturn_devouring_his_children.jpg?w=364&h=617&profile=RESIZE_710x Francisco Goya’s great painting Saturn Devouring his Son depicts the primordial murder of the children which I have argued is the mythic narrative at the core of western civilization (for background, I write about it here). Jay Scott Morgan describes it:

The image is ineffaceable: the cannibal god on bended knees, engulfed in darkness; the mad haunted eyes and black-blooded mouth; the rending fingers, threaded with blood, and the ravaged figure in their grasp…Cover the right side of the face, and we see a Titan caught in the act, defying anyone to stop him, the bulging left eye staring wildly at some unseen witness to his savagery, his piratical coarseness heightened by the sharp vertical lines of the eyebrow, crossed like the stitches of a scar. Cover his left eye, and we are confronted by a being in pain, the dark pupil gazing down in horror at his own uncontrolled murderousness, the eyebrow curved upwards like an inverted question mark, as if he were asking, “Why am I compelled to do this?”

Who is this Saturn (Chronos, in Greek myth) addressing? Why us, of course. Why won’t we intervene? Why do we collude and normalize the crime? / Morgan continues:

…the painting still evokes in me an interior terror, a sense of isolation, loneliness, grief–this god on his knees, tearing apart his own child, enshrouded in a blackness that is like a psychic tar, clinging to me, clinging me to him, to a drama of primal murderousness, so that now I seem to be participant as well as viewer. I look upon him, and I am implicated in the crime.

A final example comes from Euripides’ play The Bacchae. The boy-king Pentheus reveals (to us, not to himself) his unconscious motivation when he orders his henchmen to find Dionysus and arrest him:

Go, someone, this instant,
to the place where this prophet prophesies.

Pry it up with crowbars, heave it over, upside down;

demolish everything you see…

That will provoke him more than anything.

As I write in Chapter Five of my book,

“Provoke” (from vocare, to call) is marvelously appropriate. At some level Pentheus can choose. He can invoke or evoke his own Dionysian nature, or he can innocently project it outwards, provoking its expression somewhere else.

Yes, on one level Trumpus certainly gets temporary satisfaction from cheating, stealing, hurting and antagonizing his social and intellectual betters. It’s temporary because, like all addictive strategies, it gives no nourishment for the soul and must be repeated continuously. I have no doubt that consciously he says and does these things for these amoral reasons.

But on another level (a moral level), with all the upping of the ante, isn’t he actually proclaiming, I can’t stand myself! Someone please catch me, stop me, punish me before I do something really awful! I don’t want to do this any longer! Get me out of here!

Perhaps, as Alex Henderson remarks of Trumpus’ deluge of ‘incredibly self-damaging actions’ “People are starting to question if he’s ‘actively trying to win anymore.”

Is it possible that – for his entire life – he’s just been asking for help? Conventional psychology might see his behavior patterns as indicating self-hatred. But, as depth psychologist Robert Moore argued, if we look closely at grandiosity, we often discover that just below it lies depression, and that the path toward healing involves puncturing the grandiosity so as to allow the deeper wounds to emerge into the light and be cleansed. From this perspective, everything he does is actually part of an unconscious teleological drive toward self-knowledge. Like Pentheus, he is asking, with increasing desperation (in ritual terms) for initiation. In that sense, he really does speak for all of us.

Part Five

Hidin’ Biden

We cannot let this, we’ve never allowed any crisis from the Civil War straight through to the pandemic of 17, all the way around, 16, we have never, never let our democracy sakes second fiddle, way they, we can both have a democracy and…correct the public health. – Joe Biden, April 2020

In 1966 Joe Biden told his first wife that he aimed to become a senator by the age of 30 and then president. He did become a senator at age 30, 6th youngest in history. Perhaps he felt charmed – and entitled – by his early successes. He’s been running for president for nearly half his adult life. Yet from early on, he has continually subverted his goals with foolish and entirely preventable errors. He was forced to withdraw from the 1988 (yes, that was 32 years ago) presidential race when reporters accused him of plagiarizing speeches and lying about his background.

Later, he was the definition of clueless (“…two kinds of lies: the ones he tells others to scam them, and those he tells himself.”) In 2006 he bragged about his support among Indian Americans: “I’ve had a great relationship. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

In 2007 he undermined his next presidential campaign on the very first day by describing Barack Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy—I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

He was developing a reputation, and the media took the cues and ran with them. In 2008 the NYT wrote that Biden’s “weak filters make him capable of blurting out pretty much anything.” Later, it was reported that as vice president his remarks caused Obama to complain, “How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?”, and that campaign staffers referred to his blunders as “Joe bombs.” In 2012 he told a mixed-race audience that Republican proposals to relax Wall Street regulations would “put y’all back in chains.” That same year, Time Magazine wrote, “…Biden’s brain is wired for more than the usual amount of goofiness.”w5zvzh9yklt41.png?w=296&h=166&profile=RESIZE_710x

And, I would add, unnecessary risk. Trumpus’ attempt to link Biden’s son Hunter to corruption in the Ukraine seems to have gone nowhere. But Hunter did serve on the board of Burisma from 2014 to April 2019, receiving compensation of up to $50,000 per month. Hunter is a banker who may or may not know anything about oil drilling, but his father was the American vice president for most of that period. All this, of course, was conventional nepotism and influence peddling. Everyone does it. But from the perspective of someone who was certainly planning to run for president again and couldn’t afford to be perceived as corrupt, this was, at best, asking for trouble.

I only mention Hunter because I’m building a case that Joe trumps-460x307-1.jpg?w=225&h=150&profile=RESIZE_710xregularly sabotages his intentions, and that it seems to be a family pattern (the Trumps aren’t the only ones to pass their pathologies on to their children).

In May 2013, Hunter was sworn in as a direct commission officer in the Navy (we can only wonder why a 42-year-old banker with a prior drug arrest, son and brother to well-known politicians, would want to join up). A month later, he tested positive for cocaine and was subsequently but quietly discharged. Two months later, he joined Burisma.

In recent years Joe Biden can’t seem to keep himself from making egregious bloopers or spontaneous racial insults, or from inappropriately touching females on camera. No wonder his advisers have counseled him to stay out of sight while Trumpus makes his own case daily for not being re-elected. But this strategy has also earned him the nickname “Hiden’ Biden.

As I wrote above, old guys are likely to make verbal gaffes on camera. No big deal. What interests me, however, is the unconscious psychological strategies that their gaffes reveal. What does Joe Biden really want?

To know that, we need to know that some of his gaffes really seem to be Freudian slippage on a monumental scale:

Biden accidentally tells crowd he’s a candidate for United States Senate

Vote for Biden Or Don’t

Biden tells voters ‘don’t vote for me’ if they’re concerned about his age

Biden: If You Don’t Vote for Me, ‘You Ain’t Black’

I saved the worst (and my sarcasm) for last:

Biden Vows He’s ‘Going to Beat Joe Biden’ 

Oh yeah, here’s a guy who’s clear about his intentions. Yes, if he is our only option to get the Trump organized crime family out of the White House, then we support Biden, and may it be so.

However, as I wrote about Trumpus, the same American myth is manifested in our idealizations of Biden. If in your mind he is either a handsome white knight (what a set of teeth on him!) in shining armor riding forth to slay that dragon, or a humble, “average joe” you could see yourself having a beer with, please remember that your Joe Biden is an image created by media specialists to elicit exactly those responses in you. Support the guy, vote for the guy, but check your innocence at the door.

Part Six

In a dark time, the eye begins to see. – Theodore Roethke.

Boy Psychology

I mentioned the Jungian psychologist Robert Moore in an earlier section. His books King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine and The Archetype of Initiation are essential reading for the understanding of masculine psychology in the late stages of our demythologized world.

The devastating fact is that most men are fixated at an immature level of development. These early developmental levels are governed by the inner blueprints appropriate to boyhood. When they are allowed to rule what should be adulthood, when the archetypes of boyhood are not built upon and transcended by the Ego’s appropriate accessing of the archetypes of mature masculinity, they cause us to act out of our hidden (to us, but seldom to others) boyishness…Boy psychology is everywhere around us, and its marks are easy to see. Among them are abusive and violent acting-out behaviors against others, both men and women; passivity and weakness, the inability to act effectively and creatively in one’s own life and to engender life and creativity in others (both men and women); and, often, an oscillation between the two– abuse/weakness, abuse/weakness.

He was writing and teaching about the base line of normality shared by almost all men in our culture. And he conceived these ideas in the 1980s, decades before the economic meltdowns of 2008 or 2020 that put much greater pressure on the fragile sense of American masculinity. I spent much time in Moore’s presence, and I can tell you that he certainly would have agreed with one of the basic premises of my book: that as the myth of American innocence collapses, the conditions of social reaction are making it even more likely that uninitiated and profoundly immature men will rise to the top of cultural, economic and political influence.

To summarize and to mythologize. Our American Innocence has conjured up these two men: one who embodies the very worst of our possibilities but who is, literally, us; and the other who models for us all the futile attempt to hide the truth from ourselves. We are also dealing with two old men who are so invested in their personae and so unwilling to consider introspection that they can barely censor themselves.

My image for Trumpus is the smirking, entitled but uninitiated boy-king who is so desperate to know himself, for others to know his pain (and perhaps finally be loved for who he is) that he will unconsciously invite his own — and our — destruction by provoking the wrath of Dionysus. What is he really saying? Stop me before I drive this red sports car into my wall!

The image for Biden (when he comes out of hidin’) is of driving that same sports car, but with his foot on the emergency brake, wondering why he isn’t going anywhere. I hope he isn’t senile, and he may not be a psychopath, but he certainly exhibits classic passive aggression by sabotaging his goals. What is he really saying? I really don’t think that I deserve to be President! I don’t even want to be President! Don’t vote for me!

Granted, one is crazier than the other. And we really need to remove him before he ups the ante any further. But we no longer have the luxury of hiding behind our own ignorance and pretending that the other is not a servant of the same oligarchs whose boundless greed will take us all down. Yes, for the Supreme Court. Yes, for abortion rights. Yes, for union rights. Yes (maybe) for mitigating Climate change. Yes, for a more rational Covid policy. Yes, for mild increases on taxes on the mega-wealthy. Yes, for the possibility of making the streets a little safer for immigrants and people of color.

But know that to a Venezuelan farmer, or a Palestinian child, or a Sudanese peasant, or almost anyone in dozens of Third-World dc557d1d3d23f7104c9f11e41c6b2d49.jpg?w=166&h=208&profile=RESIZE_710xcountries under the thumb of the American empire, or to a black single mother in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward who used to work cleaning houses, or to her autistic son – or to the military/industrial/financial/petrochemical/health insurance/carceral/high technology complex – it will make absolutely no difference who wins this election.

As for that last group, it’s getting harder to miss the many subtle hints in the media that the Pentagon and the “intelligence community” are throwing their support behind Biden:

Retired Marine General Latest to Admonish Trump 

Former Army secretary backs Biden, citing ‘moral leadership’

Head of Aerospace Industries Association endorses Biden

Pentagon disarms the Guard in D.C.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he had no idea he would be in Trump’s infamous photo-op and no idea troops would beat back protesters

George Will reveals he is voting for Joe Biden

As Trump Implodes, Democrats Roll Out the Red Carpet for Bush Era Republicans

George W. Freaking Bush? He of the famous smirk? smirkalertconfusedw.jpg?w=119&h=233&profile=RESIZE_710xAre these people decent, honest conservatives who have woken up and just cannot support Trumpus because they love their country and don’t want it to deteriorate further? Please…let me remind you that almost every one of them has supported 95% of his agenda for their entire political careers (including the past four years), and further, that “principled conservatives” no longer exist within the Republican Party, that decades ago they were ousted by the current group of racist reactionaries. So their support for Biden is exactly what it looks like: going with the odds and betting on the guy who is currently favored to win.

Still, you have reasons, and I support many of them. Beyond the wish to end the horrors of Trumpus, a “woke” nation should support Hiden’ Biden in the hopes that a Democratic administration may allow the opening of some democratic space for progressives to influence policy. But watch what he does, not what he says. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said of Nicaragua’s murderous dictator Anastasio Somoza, “He’s an SOB, but he’s our SOB.”

In 2009 I concluded Chapter Eight of my book by assessing the state of America’s leaders in mythological terms. And here we are again, except that the ante has been upped considerably:

…only a mythic perspective can make any sense of this. America’s rulers are not ignorant; they are fully aware of our human and environmental tragedies. The fathers no longer send only the young to be sacrificed; now they offer everything to the sky-gods. Whether or not we take their religious rhetoric literally, they are deliberately (if unconsciously) provoking both personal and global apocalypse.

Recall Pentheus, emerging from his collapsed palace, even more determined to confront (or to merge with) Dionysus. Thebes/America is a city of uninitiated men, fanatically devoted to the systematic destruction of their own children. A boy-king, who secretly longed for the symbolic death that might effect his transition to manhood, was leading this city. The entire world could almost feel it as a desperate, visceral prayer when, in June 2003, Bush, the self-appointed embodiment of American heroism, challenged the Iraqi resistance to “bring it on!”

Apocalypse, however, actually means “to lift the veil.” It is, more than anything, a challenge to wake up. Will enough of us accept it?

After heaven and earth have passed away, my word will remain. What was your word, Jesus? Love? Forgiveness? Affection? All your words were one word: Wakeup.  – Antonio Machado

Read more…

Part One

The war is not meant to be won; it is meant to be continuous. – George Orwell

Watch what we do, not what we say. – John Mitchell, Attorney General under Richard Nixon

Let me be perfectly clear (Nixon said that). I want Biden to win in a landslide, win back the Senate, pick the next few Supreme Court Justices and send Trumpus (Trump = us) out beyond the safety of presidential immunity, where he can get prosecuted for at least some of his crimes. However, for me (in California) and most of you who live in reliably red or blue states, our votes are meaningless. If your passion remains strong, then work for him in the small number of states other than your own that will actually be in play, or work for local progressive candidates.

First, the good news. In many ways this is a time of profound hope. As mythologists, we believe nothing, but we entertain possibilities. White people are reading about privilege and fragility and waking up. Some cities are reducing their police budgets and firing some of their worst racist police officers. Confederate statues are coming down. Sports teams are dropping their racist names. The legal system is recognizing Native American rights and ordering oil pipelines on native land to shut down. The entire oil industry may be collapsing. The next vice president might even be a woman of color! This didn’t happen overnight. As Rebecca Solnit writes, it takes “Decades of Activism That Leads to Historic Change.”

Indeed, when we view these times from a mythological perspective, we see, despite the suffering, much to be excited about.  The combination of the pandemic, the reaction to George Floyd’s murder and cumulative, national disgust with Trumpus have thrown the collective consciousness into such a (welcome) frenzy that, for the first time since late 2001, and perhaps for the first time since the 1960’s, major cracks have begun to appear in the façade of the myth of American innocence.

And the optimism, however, brings its own version of that innocence, as if everything had been fine before Trumpus, as if his removal is assured, as if simply replacing him with Joe Biden would be the answer to all of our problems.

The liberal news media tell us daily how he is falling behind in the battleground states. It’s all good.  One writer goes so far as to predict “a Democratic tsunami.” Another tells us that “Trump is accelerating a political realignment that would have otherwise taken decades.”

Now the bad news: none of them are addressing the elephant in the living room.elephant-living-room1.jpg?w=250&h=232&profile=RESIZE_710x

That’s a phrase that is commonly used in addiction recovery, and it seems particularly relevant to use it when reminding ourselves of our national addictions. Of course, from any rational, political-science perspective, the idea that Trumpus seems to be making the wrong decisions on a daily basis, that he’s doing everything possible to alienate voters seems obvious. He almost seems to want to lose (see below) – unless, like four years ago, his people know something we don’t.

Refusal to address this particular elephant is a mythological issue, because all this optimism, all this denial, all this obsession with blaming Trumpus for all of our ills, all this unwillingness to confront deeper issues is happening within the broader context of the myth of American innocence, just as it did then. Indeed, on Election Day 2016, the Cook Political Report (“Democratic tsunami”) predicted the same thing, as did all the major polls. As I wrote in my analysis of the election,

Damn the conventional wisdom. We may well find the answer in pursuing this question: Why, despite the polls favoring Clinton, did the vast majority of high-rolling, last-minute gamblers bet on Trump?…Yes, this was reported in the mainstream media (MSM), but no one seems to have paid it much attention, except for other gamblers. Before you cast the conspiracy theory hood over me (the conventional means of shutting down discussions), shouldn’t we ask what these pros knew?

This election may not go any differently from the 2016 election, and for most of the same reasons that I wrote about in that essay. It’s very likely that Biden will win a large majority of the popular vote, and probably by even greater numbers than Clinton did.

But this is reality: massive purges of voters (a federal judge recently backed Georgia’s purge of more than 100,000 voters); gerrymandering; challenges to the right to vote; voter ID requirements (36 states now have voter ID laws); early/absentee voting restrictions, including cutting hours or days of voting; restrictions on voting registration drives by third-party organizations (such as those enacted in Tennessee that impose civil penalties on canvassers that submit incomplete or inaccurate registration forms); Covid-related fear of in-person voting and budget cuts; likely restrictions on voting by mail; the hesitancy of most states to use ranked-choice voting; a tsunami of polling site closures; and possible defunding of the Postal Service itself (more on that here).image3-2-700x470-1.jpg?w=363&h=244&profile=RESIZE_710x

Any combination of these factors could very well give the Republicans another Electoral College victory. For a summary of all this fraud, legal or otherwise, and to read the one person who is most in touch with its reality, follow Greg Palast.

Yes, Biden has a big lead in mid-July. But some polls had Clinton ahead by double digits as late as October 23rd, 2016.  This is not to call polls into question; those polls were probably quite accurate – in that they measured how people expected to vote, and quite likely how they did vote. They did not measure whether those votes were counted accurately. And the fact that the mainstream media has had almost nothing to say about this massive crime can mean only a few things:

1 – In their staunch innocence, they simply don’t believe that American politicians can be so corrupt.

2 – They uniformly chose and continue to choose not to inform the public.

And there’s plenty of speculation about how Trumpus, even if he loses, might try to remain in office.

I don’t have much regard for the Democrats, but there is no doubt whatsoever that the Republican Party is comprised entirely of career criminals, con men and outright sociopaths.

Republican governors and secretaries of state ruthlessly, absolutely control the entire election process, including registration and access to voting, in 26 of the 50 states. These are the people whose operatives actually “count” the votes, and we can assume that they will do everything possible, legal or illegal, to influence the results, exactly as they did four years ago. At least since the 2000 election, the baseline of American democracy has been massive computer fraud. Here is reality, as I wrote (and absolutely nothing has changed):

We can never know how many people went into booths in those states, voted for Clinton on electronic machines, left the building and told a professional poll taker whom they’d voted for, but whose vote, unknown to them, was then flipped…Clinton’s Florida lead in exit polls was 1.3% but she lost by 1.3%, a 2.6% shift. In North Carolina her exit poll margin was 2.1%, but the final vote count showed Trump with a 3.8% lead. She had a 4.4% exit poll lead in Pennsylvania, but she lost by 1.2%, a 5.6% shift. The North Carolina and Pennsylvania shifts – 5.6% – are way outside the margin of error and therefore very unlikely to occur by chance. Altogether, exit polls were conducted in 28 states. In 23 of them the discrepancies between the exit polls and the vote count favored Trump. In 13 of them those discrepancies exceeded the margin of error.  

For those who were willing to peek beyond the veil of denial, almost all of these tactics were on full display during this June’s primaries, which Palast has called “Trump’s Vote-Heist Dress Rehearsal.”

…what the press calls the “meltdown” in Georgia (and in the Wisconsin and Kentucky primaries) was very much a dress rehearsal for the plan for minority voting hell in November, not only in Georgia but in a slew of other GOP-controlled swing states…According to an MIT study, a breathtaking 22% of all mail-in ballots are never counted…some states are simply refusing absentee ballots to hundreds of thousands of registrants—or, not sending cards that allow the voter to ask for the mail-in ballot…Georgia is one of the GOP’s ballot-refusing champs. The state refused to send mail-in ballot requests to over a quarter million voters on their so-called “inactive” voter list…In 2018, Georgia purged, that is, erased the registrations of, over half a million citizens on the grounds they’d left Georgia or moved from their home county…(but) 340,134 Georgia “movers” who lost their vote had, in fact, never moved from their registration address.

Trumpus himself has acknowledged that if the system were to be reformed,

The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.

But before you get on your “blame the GOP for everything” horse, remember to thank the Obama administration for expanding the national security state. We are on a razor’s edge. Russell Dobular writes:

Right now there are still too many functioning vestiges of divided government for Trump to make full use of the terrifying powers we’ve imparted to the state since 9/11, but one major terrorist attack on US soil, or the outbreak of a serious war, and it’s only a short step to indefinite detention for activists and opponents of the regime, many of whom will be the same liberals who cheered the arrest of Julian Assange and want to see Edward Snowden put on trial. And thanks to the Patriot Act, which Congress quietly renewed last week,  as long as the government labels the detainees “terrorists,” it will all be perfectly legal.

So let’s not be naïve. Naiveté, along with overconfidence and deep fear, are the fundamental positions of American myth, and we simply no longer have the luxury of indulging in them.

This culture has vomited Trumpus up to be our symbolic King. But he did not cause any of our problems. He simply embodies them and mirrors them back for all of us. Trumpus is us, and as long as we do not collectively admit that our refusal to confront our racist and violent national character, we deserve him.

Part Two

For a long time now, only half of American adults have considered it worth their time to vote. They are not stupid. Stop calling them stupid. We make up the lowest turnout rate in the world because so few of us see any significant differences between the two major parties. And the twin curses of massive voter suppression and computer fraud have ensured that millions of votes that are cast are not counted. That is reality. But the mystery is why the Democrats have done so little about it through the last five election cycles.

Here’s another mystery. What does it say about the public’s appreciation of the Democratic Party that, with the most profoundly unpopular and deeply reviled president in U.S. history, it took a pandemic with 140,000 dead and an economic depression with forty million unemployed to finally push Biden’s poll numbers past those of Trumpus? Here’s another one: Michael Bloomberg spent nearly a billion dollars convincing you that Bernie Sanders was unelectable. Can you imagine the good that money would have done had he spent it fighting voter suppression? Have you heard a word about him since he dropped out?

Here’s another one: Do the Democrats really think they can win with a candidate who has no constituency, no charisma and few platform positions that would attract more voters other than not being Trumpus? Do they really care about winning?  Does Joe Biden really care about being President (see below)?

I hope I’m wrong. May the future bring us something better than this. We deserve better, or so we’d like to think. But here I want to present some mythological and psychological speculations.

What exactly are these two old white guys contending for? Liberals lament that the system is dysfunctional or broken, while radicals will argue that it has been doing quite well in terms of its actual functions of maintaining the military empire abroad and redistributing wealth upwards at home. As a mythologist, I see both points of view, and I suggest that the myth of American innocence holds it all together.

One aspect of what Joseph Campbell called our demythologized world, especially in America, is that the distinctions between religion, politics and entertainment have collapsed (this week Trumpus sat at the Oval Office desk and endorsed a brand of beans. You can’t make this stuff up). trump-beans.jpg?w=282&h=141&profile=RESIZE_710xThis is perhaps because all three of these areas of public life are the realm of the con man’s main interests: making money and aggrandizing the self. For more on this American archetype, read my essay The Con-Man.

Please understand that anything spoken (well, nearly anything; see below) for the public by anyone at that level of power has been carefully vetted in front of multiple focus groups and edited precisely to fit the perceived needs of a very specific audience so as to manipulate its views of the politician. If in the Age of Trumpus (or for the past several election cycles) you haven’t noticed this, you haven’t been paying attention. But it began long before this particular con man entered the White House. I have written much more on these issues in these essays:

Let’s Talk About Me

Obama and the Myth of Innocence

Obama’s Tears

The Ritual of the Presidential Debates 

Stories We Tell Ourselves About Barack Obama 

The Presidential Dilemma

Trumpus and Biden (and everyone around them, including the entire press corps) know very well that every American president since Harry Truman, and arguably for much longer, has been  essentially a spokesperson for interests far more powerful than he; a “master of ceremonies” in the lesser sense; a salesman for the myth and the empire. He certainly is not its ruler, not even the primary “decider,” as G.W. Bush described himself.

I also want to suggest that all contenders for the Presidency in the United States, far more than in any other country, are well aware of a particularly complex role they will be called upon to play,  which they have been practicing for their entire adult lives (quite literally, in the case of Joe Biden). They will face a unique political dilemma created by two conditions.

The first is the capitalist domination of politics, which require a spokesperson to direct the national narratives toward the grand aims of the military-industrial-petrochemical-pharmaceutical-carceral complex. The second is his symbolic role. As head of state, he must embody the mythic figure of the King for his people. And these two conditions require that he play two opposite aspects of the myth of innocence against each other.

As spokesman for the Empire, he must continue at all times to amplify the national mood of paranoia and fear of “the Other” so as to justify a continuing national military state and repression of people of color at home. In other words, he must manipulate the traditional white American sense of being the innocent victim, or at least the potential victim, of some dark (and dark-skinned), irrational, violent, predatory outsider.

This of course would be nothing new to him, since anyone even aspiring to his office, not to mention those actually vetted, would be perfectly aware of it. And to be sufficiently convincing, he must, in a sense, play the victim himself, so that his followers can identify with him.

As King-figure, however, his job is to absorb the idealistic projections of millions of people. I write “absorb” because in myth this is a two-way process. The Sacred King takes in our projections and hopes and then radiates them back out as fertility, as abundance, as blessing. (Not to do that is simply to suck those dreams in like a black hole of narcissism and give nothing back. This has been Trumpus’ game for decades, and perhaps the consequences are finally catching up to him.)

Any person who assumes the presidency automatically takes on this public projection. At the level of image, metaphor and deep narrative, these men are the nation because they embody it, and the nation must endure. Why must the nation endure? In this demythologized world authentic myth and ritual have disappeared, and they have been replaced by consumerism, fundamentalism, substance abuse – and nationalism, in which the individual identifies completely with the state, and is willing to sacrifice its young to its aims.

Here we have to take a detour through what I consider to be one of the most important books ever written, Blood Sacrifice and the Nation, by Carolyn Marvin and David W. Ingle.  It is summarized in a short article here. And I wrote of it here:

…“nationalism”…for the past 150 years has supplanted mass religion in most advanced countries. But it retains much religious symbolism. The familiar Christian God has long been replaced by the group, which is symbolized in the totem fetish – the flag. A fundamental aspect of America’s civil religion is our unique cult of the flag. Curiously, we display it in our churches as well as in many places of business, as if to reinforce the notion that in America there is little difference between them. We worship it by pledging allegiance, and occasionally by kneeling and kissing it. And we are horrified at the thought of its desecration, because, they write, it is “the ritual instrument of group cohesion…the god of nationalism.” Such rituals nearly equate God with America, writes Robert Bellah. Often “…the most jingoistic identity of nation and church has come not from our political leaders but from the churches themselves.” And the flag is embodied in the totem leader, the President.

In this view, the purpose of ritual at the level of the large, national state is to sustain the group by repeating, at various levels of intensity, the act of group creation. Participants in such rituals – especially in our culture of radical individualism – achieve a kind of communion and learn that their God demands human sacrifice. Not the sacrifice of the defeated, which implies the preparedness to kill for one’s country, but willing sacrifice, the willingness to die for it. Or at the very least, the willingness to send one’s children – the best of the best – to die for it.

Body sacrifice lies at the core of nationalism. Warfare is the most powerful enactment of the ritual of blood sacrifice…The creation of sentiments strong enough to hold the group together periodically requires the death of a significant portion of its members. In short, society depends upon the death of sacrificial victims at the hands of the group.

We, dear readers, are the group. Well, not really, since our children won’t be among the sacrificed, those who will die for capitalism. But in the broader sense, who could argue that our generation has not condemned them all to a collapsing ecosystem and polluted bodies?

In a twisted sense, there is some good news here. The fact that so few of us are willing to soil ourselves by voting actually indicates that very large numbers of us (not including conventional liberals) can see through the ritual charade. The bad news, well…not voting gave us Trumpus.

Back to the presidential dilemma. Another consequence of the loss of myth is that we have conflated two archetypes, the King and the Warrior, who is in service to the King. In doing so, we minimize the creative potential of each of them. This Warrior-King must continually re-affirm the fantasy that his intentions (and ours) are noble, protective and altruistic, that America is truly exceptional, that America has a divine mission to save the world and will always prevail.

And to do that, he must play the exact opposite of the victim, the Hero (the immature form of what Jungian writer Robert Moore called the Warrior archetype)  He must reassure us of his – and our – ability to meet all threat and defeat them, while simultaneously bringing the Good Word of our Christian compassion to those evil ones who would – for no apparent reason – harm us. As Bush endlessly repeated after 9/11/2001, it is absolutely certain that America will prevail against the external Other (formerly the Native Americans, then Mexicans, then Communism, now Islamic terrorism, which is shifting before our eyes into “the Russians” and “the Chinese”), because the nation, which he embodies, is charged with the divine mission of defeating evil and spreading freedom and opportunity. Not to do so would be to call our most basic national and personal identities into question.

He must simultaneously and repeatedly tell us, be afraid, be very afraid – and – we are absolutely unconquerable! He must prove to be a professional storyteller of the double-bind, conflicting messages that some psychologists consider to be the genesis of schizophrenia. And after many generations of hearing and ingesting these crazy-making narratives, it really is a sad commentary on all of us that we have come to expect nothing better from our leaders.

The media gatekeepers face an even more complicated dilemma. As fascism threatens to descend upon us, liberal America has been attempting to walk a fine line: alternately normalizing and de-legitimizing the Trumpus regime, especially since this spring, while carefully refusing to examine any of the bedrock assumptions of our myth of innocence.

For the sense of “nation,” with all its white privilege, economic disparities and permanent warfare to endure, the media must continually try to shore up each new crack in the veneer of American innocence. So controlling the narratives and manipulating our perception of really terrible people is one of the primary functions of our media gatekeepers. The classic analysis of the media’s gatekeeping role is Noam Chomsky’s article, “A Propaganda Model.” 

bush_michelle_obama_bliss.jpg?w=183&h=126&profile=RESIZE_710xOne of the ways they do this is by re-habilitating the reputations of previous presidents, such as Bush and his father.  In this context, it really shouldn’t be surprising that Bill Clinton eulogized Richard Nixon, that Barack Obama lavishly praised Ronald Reagan, rt_hillary_clinton_and_henry_kissinger_3a_ml_160518_4x3_992.jpg?w=191&h=143&profile=RESIZE_710xthat Hillary Clinton is a close friend of the war criminal Henry Kissinger, or that even Trumpus should be granted an insane sort of normalization. 

War criminals. I don’t want to belabor this point, but it is critical to understand what the people we vote for – all of them – are willing to do in order to prove their loyalty to the power brokers. As Chomsky has said, “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”hqdefault.jpg?w=223&h=167&profile=RESIZE_710x

It is equally important to understand how those same oligarchs require the same proof of loyalty from the media gatekeepers, who have responded by creating a mainstream consensus that the madness of normal life is normal. This is the “normal” to which Biden promises he will return us.

So it is useless and counter-productive to criticize Trumpus as merely a negative, even terrible exception to the story of American exceptionalism, or even as someone who has corrupted this story. There is nothing to be gained by arguing, for instance, that he is dangerous, incapable, racist, misogynist, stupid or unpatriotic because he won’t listen to the “intelligence community” — as if progressive-minded people have any business aligning themselves with the murderers and regime-changers of the CIA. 

Here is another aspect of our diminished American reality: if the CIA “leaks” any “alleged” information about “events” anywhere in the world, they are doing so because they want you to consume a narrative of their own construction, to serve the long-term aims of the American empire. In 2020, from Russia to China to Syria to Israel / Palestine to Afghanistan to Venezuela, and sometimes even Iran and North Korea, most leading Democratic politicians have been criticizing Trumpus from the right. And this bizarre truth takes us a long way into the mystery of how they shamelessly stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders.

Part Three

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.  – Leonard Cohen

We can disagree in the margins, but the truth of the matter is it’s all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change. – Joe Biden

The Democratic Primaries

This is not going to be pretty. The election is more than a case of politics making strange bedfellows; it’s two branches of the ruling class in a food-fight. It’s Republican shills for the mega-rich driving white rage down the same old roads of fear and white supremacism they’ve been riding since the 1670s. And it’s octogenarian Democrat dinosaurs using the Russiagate narrative – and now the “Bountygate” narrative – to distract you from the fact that their corporate, neoliberal policies serve the same financial interests as do those of the Republicans.

And the same militarism. Even as I write this, both the full Senate (including 16 Democrats)  and the House Armed Services Committee (with a Democratic majority) have just voted to make it much more difficult to withdraw U.S. troops from the “forever war” in Afghanistan.

Yes, yes, support Biden, for all the appropriate reasons. This time the lesser of two evils is less evil enough for it to matter. But don’t be naïve, and don’t kid yourself about the inappropriate reasons. Biden’s campaign has stressed a fantasy of a “return to normalcy” after an “abnormal” president. However, as Caitlin Johnstone writes, this is a silly idea for two reasons:

Firstly, wanting America to go back to how it was before Trump is wanting the conditions which gave rise to Trump…the same status quo austerity, exploitation, oppression and warmongering …Secondly, this fabled “return to normality” that Biden is supposedly offering is literally impossible, since normality never actually left. Normality never left, because Donald Trump is a very normal US president.

…the media just yell about this president a lot more than usual because he puts an ugly face on the horrific normal that was already there. Sure he makes rude tweets and says dumb things and has made a mess of the pandemic response, but by and large when you strip away the narrative overlay Trump has been a reliable establishment lapdog advancing more or less all the same status quo imperialist and oligarchic agendas as the presidents who came before him. There are just a lot of establishment loyalists with a vested interest in spinning the ugliness his oafishness is exposing as caused by and unique to him.

Again: as mythologists, our first responsibility is to strip away the narratives that keep us from acknowledging reality. The only meaningful way to oppose Trumpus is from the position of a new story that reveals how the myth of innocence – even, perhaps especially in its liberal varieties – has led us all up Shit Creek.

It means giving the one hundred million adult Americans who don’t vote something to get excited about, as Bernie Sanders would have done, rather than fighting over the scraps of the tiny numbers of undecided “swing” voters. We can’t ignore the fact that instead of articulating a progressive (and extremely popular) critique of the military machine, almost all the leading Democrats continue to attack Trumpus’ foreign policies, but from the right.

To get past our denial and really understand what the DNC does, we have to take an unblinkered view of the cesspool known as the Democratic primaries. It will be enlightening if not encouraging. Mysteries abound. In the best conventional analysis I’ve seen so far, Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic (I’m quoting him because he’s a legitimate leftist) lists some of them:

Sanders’s leftward stances on issues like immigration supposedly lost him rural counties, but he had the best standing with rural voters, out of all Democrats. He supposedly alienated rank-and-file Democrats with his rhetoric, yet held sky-high favorability ratings among them throughout 2020…(he) won nearly every demographic in Nevada, even moderates and conservatives, and led nationally among black voters on the eve of South Carolina…He annihilated his rivals in donor numbers from Obama-to-Trump counties, had historic electoral strength in such areas, and had the largest lead among independents in head-to-head polling with Trump among all his rivals.

In searching for answers for Biden’s triumph, Marcetic does acknowledge the role of the media:

…these themes were relentlessly advanced by the network(s): beating Trump was all that mattered, Biden was the safest bet to do so, and running Sanders — when the network deigned to mention him at all — would be a risk…these developments prompted a barrage of attacks and apocalyptic warnings from Democratic officials and pundits about Sanders’s threat to Democrats’ chances in November. A group of party centrists spent millions blanketing South Carolina with ads making these charges. Party leaders and rival candidates openly vowed to deprive him of the nomination if he won the most votes…CNN covered Sanders three times as negatively after his blowout Nevada win as they did Biden after his romp through South Carolina, assailing Sanders’s electability above all…

We should also note Elizabeth Warren’s egregious, opportunistic, unforgivable betrayal of Sanders.

But ultimately, Marcetic falls back on the conventional – that is naively innocent – perspective: “…voters saw Biden as the candidate by far most likely to win against Trump.” He simply refuses to consider the observable facts on the ground, and in doing so he reveals his trust in the system. Worse, the implication is that he (like all the mainstream media he would criticize) wants you to trust it.

Here is the fundamental reality of politics in America: both Republicans and Democrats tamper with election results whenever they can get away with it, but they do so at differing points in the election cycle. That this happens this way is no mystery. Why it happens is the mystery.corrupt-voting-machine.png?w=306&h=161&profile=RESIZE_710x

Greg Palast, Harvey Wasserman  and others have demonstrated that in the 2016 primaries the DNC was able to manipulate the vote, in every case to the detriment of the Sanders campaign. In State after state, claims Jonathan Simon, author of Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century, “The vote counts were more in favor of Clinton than the exit polls, which were more in favor of Bernie Sanders. We saw a very consistent pattern of that.”

In liberal Massachusetts, Sanders beat Clinton in all the precincts with hand-counted paper ballots but lost every single precinct that used electronic voting machines.

Palast tells us that exit polls are the State Department’s own “gold standard” used to measure the honesty of – and in several cases – decertify elections in other countries such as Nicaragua and Uganda. Our own Agency for International Development (a well-known front for the CIA) has stated:

Detecting fraud: Exit polls provide data that is generally indicative of how people voted. A discrepancy between the aggregated choices reported by voters and the official results may suggest, but not prove, that results have been tampered with.

The discrepancies between the exit polls’ projections of each candidate’s vote share and the vote shares derived from unobservable computer counts have a considerable impact on the apportionment of delegates to each candidate, which is, after all, the main reason for these state primaries. Palast continues:

Exit polling is, historically, deadly accurate. The bane of pre-election polling is that pollsters must adjust for the likelihood of a person voting. Exit polls solve the problem…In 2000, exit polls gave Al Gore the win in Florida; in 2004, exit polls gave Kerry the win in Ohio…So how could these multi-million-dollar Ph.d-directed statisticians with decades of experience get exit polls so wrong? Answer: they didn’t. The polls in Florida in 2000 were accurate. That’s because exit pollsters can only ask, “How did you vote?” What they don’t ask, and can’t, is, “Was your vote counted?”electronic-voting.gif?w=336&h=237&profile=RESIZE_710x

So why don’t we hear more about this? Mainstream media outlets contract with a company called Edison Research to conduct exit polling. Joe Lenski, its executive vice president, has candidly admitted that Edison massages its exit poll data once official vote counts have been released to align the exit poll numbers with the electronic vote totals. Indeed, the whole argument about vote flipping is possible only because researchers have been able to post those exit polls before Edison can change them.

This may be old news from February 2017, but it bears mentioning: Tom Perez, soon to be named Chair of the DNC, bragged that they had rigged the primaries in favor of Clinton. His remark appeared online before he could retract it.

What does this mendacity accomplish? As I predicted in my analysis of the 2016 election, the Clinton forces ensured her nomination by sweeping the primaries in the Southern states. This effectively eliminated Sanders, but these were all states that were certain to go to Trumpus in the general election, and the DNC was perfectly aware of this.

So, that was 2016. What about the 2020 Democratic primaries (compiled by TDMS Research) Surely, the power brokers have learned that they can’t afford to alienate the young, the black, the brown and the progressive – in other words, the base of the party. Right? Hold your nose.

New Hampshire (2/17):

The New Hampshire Democratic Party Primary computerized vote count results differ significantly from the results projected by the exit poll conducted by Edison Research and published by CNN at poll’s closing. The disparities exceed the exit poll’s margin of error.Buttigieg’s vote count exhibited the largest disparity from his exit poll projection. His unverified computer-generated vote totals represented a 12% increase of his projected exit poll share.

South Carolina (2/29): This was the state where Biden began his (alleged) big comeback, where the media unanimously trumpeted the narrative of his “electability.”

Election results from the computerized vote counts differed significantly from the results projected by the exit poll. The disparities exceed the exit poll’s margin of error. Biden’s vote count exhibited the largest disparity from his exit poll projection. His unverified computer-generated vote totals represented an 8.3% increase of his projected exit poll share. Given the 528,776 voters in this election, he gained approximately 19,700 more votes than projected by the exit poll.

Massachusetts (3/3):

As in the 2016 Massachusetts primary between candidates Sanders and Clinton, disparities greatly exceed the exit poll’s margin of error. Sanders won Massachusetts in the exit poll and lost it in the computer count. The discrepancies between the exit poll and the vote count for Sanders and Biden totaled 8.4%— double the 4.0% margin of error…Warren’s and Biden’s discrepancies also totaled 8.4%, again double the margin of error. Noteworthy is the fact that the 2016 Massachusetts Republican Party exit poll taken at the same time and at the same precincts as the Democratic Party primary, and also with a crowded field of five candidates, was matched almost perfectly by the computer count—varying by less than one percent for each candidate.

Vermont (3/3):

In Sanders’ home state, the combined disparities between the exit poll and the vote count for candidates Sanders and Biden at 10.8% exhibited the largest disparity of the 14 primary states that voted to date…Biden with an exit poll share of 17% and in danger of receiving 0 delegates (if his vote count fell below 15%) outperformed his exit poll share by 4.5% in the vote counts—a 26.1% increase of his exit poll share.

Texas (3/7):

Sanders was tied with Biden in the exit polls but lost in the unobservable computer counts by 4.5%. 

California (3/9):

According to the exit poll Sanders won by 15%. Computer counts cut his lead by half (once again more than double the margin of error). To date, California computers totaled 250,600 fewer votes for Sanders and Warren than projected by the exit polls and 236,700 more votes for Biden and Bloomberg. The current (3/9/2020) apportionment of California delegates  stands at 185 for Sanders and 143 for Biden. The estimate derived from the exit polls calculates to 207 delegates for Sanders and 122 for Biden.

In Texas, computer counts resulted in 90 delegates for Sanders and 102 for Biden. Substituting California and Texas exit polls’ estimated delegate count for the computer derived counts results in Sanders leading the current delegate count by 543 to 501 for Biden.

Michigan (3/14):

The large discrepancies greatly exceeded the margin of error …Sanders underperformed his exit poll projected proportions by 15.4% (and) received 105,000 less votes than projected while others (mainly Biden and Bloomberg) received 111,000 more than projected by the exit poll. Of concern is Michigan’s destruction of the ballot images, that could have been used to greatly facilitate a recount, that were created by their scanners for their counts. This destruction appears to violate both federal and state laws.

Missouri (3/25):

As in 11 of the 17 state primaries elections prior to March 17, the discrepancies between exit polls projections and the results of the unobservable computer vote counts in Missouri is large and beyond the margin of error associated with the exit poll…all but one of these large discrepancies favors Biden and disfavors Sanders.

Here are some other commentaries on the primaries:

We Believe This “Dark Money” Group Illegally Spent Nearly $5 Million to Destroy Sanders 2020 Campaign 

Is The Election Being Rigged Against Bernie Sanders? Why Are The Exit Polls So Far Off?

Bernie Is Being Cheated Again. Will He Fight? 

Is the DNC cheating? Again? 

Elite Media Dismiss Voter Suppression on Grounds That It’s “Complicated”

So let’s not kid ourselves. Part of waking up from the myth of American innocence is realizing that politics is not and never has been about morality; it’s about power, how to wield it, but primarily about how to get some of it. It’s the real world. Once we understand that, we can theoretically accept the premises of the centrist-liberal willingness to achieve small bits of incremental progress through compromise and limited demands. That describes the eight years of the Obama administration, which gave the bankers, the generals and the Israelis absolutely everything they wanted in exchange for some limited progress in health care.

This helps us understand another premise of the centrist-liberals: the marginalizing of dissident voices such as Bernie Sanders. From the perspective of the center (and coincidentally those already in power), it’s necessary to create false equivalencies between “populists” of both left and right.

The real threat of course is from the left. So in this world of real politics, Democratic centrists can and must do everything possible to eliminate any threat from the left so as to avoid scaring off “middle of the road” voters. If you prefer to imagine the DNC’s and Joe Biden’s motives as essentially moral and idealistic, here is a logical road to back up that kind of thinking. You have to play hardball to get anything worthwhile done, they would shrug and say. And it might even help you justify their manipulation of the primary votes.

The demonstrable fact, by the way, that this strategy has almost never worked seems to be irrelevant to those who consume this version of the myth. But you may ask, “What about Bill Clinton? Didn’t he do exactly that in 1992?” Well, quite apart from what he actually did in office (bombing Serbia and Iraq; eviscerating welfare), if Ross Perot had not siphoned off 19% of the vote, it’s possible that George H.W. Bush would have been re-elected.

The only context in which the DNC’s obsession with middle-of-the-road voters makes any practical sense is the above-mentioned Republican control of the voting process in half the states. If we assume – and we should – that they will continue the swindle in those states, then Democratic focus on the swing states matters.

But it makes no sense at all when we return to these facts: the U.S. has the lowest voter turnout in the industrialized world; half of eligible voters simply don’t bother; the vast majority of them are poor and have no health insurance (or jobs); and they won’t vote this time, even to get rid of Trumpus, unless the Democrats give them reasons to. Ultimately, we have to acknowledge that not giving a hundred million people reason to think that their votes might matter represents a profound contempt for democracy.

There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. – Jim Hightower

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