How Money Has Bought Democracy

According to The New York Times, the committee that congressmen most covet is the one on financial services.

This 61-seat committee has become so populated that extra nestled seats have had to be requisitioned to accommodate all those eager backsides drawn like magpies to the “30 pieces of silver”. Well, actually that would not cut it, as it is more like $10,000,000 a year provided by the special interests—those titans of finance like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Co.

Yes, those same special interests who are overseen by The Committee on Financial Services.

This would be like Exxon sponsoring a documentary on Global Warming (which I guess would be frowned upon since I can find no evidence of it). But it would be far worse, so perhaps it would be like the rules overseeing the conduct of priests being written by NAMBLA (yes that is gross, but we are discussing a gross subject).

However (luckily), we, being of the twenty-first century, are a long way from that. So perhaps a better analogy would be that this would be like the tax policy of the USA being written by the Benefactors. Oh dear, what have I said? Do you see a can of worms? But we must temporarily set that thought aside and have our attention snapped back by absorbing a couple of examples reported on by The New York Times:

“Committee members don’t seem particularly ashamed of the favors they do for those providing the cash. Andy Barr, a freshman [Stupidparty] from Kentucky, promised to protect a tax break worth $500 million to credit unions (They gave him $15,000.). And he introduced a bill that would allow banks to give mortgages to people who cannot afford them, undoing a federal rule at the request of the big banks’ lobbyists (Banks have given him at least $47,000.).”

As said money makes many, money can do anything the people cannot achieve. Even the democracy of the nation can be achieved with the money by the political parties. The political parties will not provide any money to the people when they are in a need due to some natural calamities. The higher money spending candidate will win the election poll for sure with their power of money. We can try this web-site to know more about the political parties who all won with their money.

*“Hearings: Congressional hearings and fundraising duties often conflict, and members of Congress have little difficulty deciding between the two—occasionally even raising money from the industry covered by the hearings they skip. It is considered poor form in Congress—borderline self-indulgent—for a freshman to sit at length in congressional hearings when the time could instead be spent raising money. Even members in safe districts are expected to keep up the torrid fundraising pace, so that they can contribute to vulnerable colleagues.”

 

From here on in, it is worth trying to ballpark what $15,000 might buy you. Now we will compare a typical foreign politician with a U.S. congressman.

Day in the Life of a British MP:

A day in the life of a British MP is nothing like a day for a member of U.S. Congress

A British MP spends time meeting constituents. To understand how it works and British colloquiums, visiting one’s MP is a bit like visiting the family doctor. You call or maybe just show up, and then one might sit in a waiting room until it’s your turn; hence the phrase “surgery” below. Now better understanding his constituents, off to Westminster he goes. He then has direct access to the prime minister via the Prime Minister Questions sessions that take place every Wednesday.

 Working in Parliament:

When Parliament is sitting (meeting):

“MPs generally spend their time working in the House of Commons. This can include raising issues affecting their constituents, attending debates and voting on new laws. Most MPs are also members of committees, which look at issues in detail, from government policy and new laws, to wider topics like human rights.”

 Working in their constituency:

“In their constituency, MPs often hold a ‘surgery’ in their office, where local people can come along to discuss any matters that concern them. MPs also attend functions, visit schools and businesses, and generally try to meet as many people as possible. This gives MPs further insight and context into issues they may discuss when they return to Westminster.”

 Or a less dry description:

The BBC spends a day with a Member of Parliament.

His Wednesday starts at 9 a.m. with a two-hour-long Work and Pensions select committee.

He goes straight from there to Prime Minister’s Questions and the big topic of debate is the government’s decision to allow universities to charge tuition fees of up to £9,000. It’s a difficult issue for the coalition as the Liberal Democrats pledged to vote against increasing tuition fees. He stays on in the chamber for a debate on the Bloody Sunday report.

After that he has a meeting with a local businessman about setting up an apprenticeship scheme in Eastbourne. That’s followed by another meeting—this time with representatives from the charity Gingerbread.

He then meets up with his assistant Jack to look at what’s coming up before catching up on some paperwork and his last meeting of the day—a meeting with fellow Liberal Democrats about Work and Pensions. There are no late night votes tonight so Stephen heads back to his constituency where he has another full day lined up. We catch up with Stephen again on Friday in Eastbourne. His first appointment is at a local printers celebrating its 20th anniversary in business. He places an order for his parliamentary Christmas cards.

Then it’s onto a local residential care home which is also celebrating an anniversary—50 years providing care.

Later it’s his weekly Friday surgery where he meets constituents worried about debt, changes to benefits and housing amongst other issues. It’s a busy schedule but Stephen seems to particularly relish the chance to meet local residents.

Back in the USA you need money to win. The candidate with the most money wins about 80% of the the time:

How often does the higher spending American politician win?

And you needs lots of money—an ever increasing amount of money:

The "cost" of winning Congressional elections is skyrocketing

A day in the life of a U.S. Congressman is mainly spent fundraising. Go USA!

A Day in the Life of a U.S. Congressman.

Or what happens when money takes over democracy.

When Congress is in session (from a Power Point orientation presentation by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to incoming freshmen):

4 hours telephoning for money.

1 hour of strategic outreach (including fundraising and press)

1 hour recharge

3 or 4 hours for hearings,* votes, meeting constituents (i.e., donors)

*“Hearings: Congressional hearings and fundraising duties often conflict, and members of Congress have little difficulty deciding between the two—occasionally even raising money from the industry covered by the hearings they skip. It is considered poor form in Congress—borderline self-indulgent—for a freshman to sit at length in congressional hearings when the time could instead be spent raising money. Even members in safe districts are expected to keep up the torrid fundraising pace, so that they can contribute to vulnerable colleagues.”

So basically it is all about fundraising. This might explain why congressmen often appear to end up talking so much nonsense.

As The Huffington Post reports:

“One member of Congress said, “The fundraising takes up so much time that members don’t even have time to become experts on bills they sponsor. One thing that’s always been striking to me is even the members playing a leading role on specific issues actually could not talk about the issues,” said the member, who didn’t want to be quoted by name…”

“Former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), now a top official at the Center for American Progress, said that the four hours allocated to fundraising may even be ‘low-balling the figure so as not to scare the new Members too much.’”

When back at home—the priorities are pretty much the same.

So basically the U.S. Congress is all about fundraising, which might explain why congressmen often appear to end up talking so much nonsense.

People Power.

The American people intuitively at least fully understand the insidious forces that they up against and they are trying as best they can:

In 2012 the Obama campaign raised $733,000,000, compared to Romney at $479,000,000.

A record 4,200,000 people contributed to Obama’s presidential campaign. The Romney campaign does not appear to be anxious to reveal such info, but by looking at graphs provided by The Washington Post, we can guess that the number was about 1,500,000.

In spite of this massive 280% difference in people-powered support, Romney was only out-fundraised by 50%. This is because 55% of Obama’s donations came in amounts of less than $200, compared to 22% for Romney.

But however hard the people work to do the right thing, they are up against massive financial resources devoted to aiding the few at the expense of the many.

Corporate Power.People vs. Corporations in the right to be heard—money talks.

As consumers, we may not realize that the utilities we need, the services we desire, the medicines we rely on—most of our expenditures—go to companies that must maximize profits (which of course is totally legitimate), and the ways they find to do so have the potential to be against the public interest. Companies are not good or evil; they must squeeze every angle or die. Survival of the fittest.

The government, however, must act to protect the public interest and therefore find ways to equitably control activities that threaten that interest. We all know this, even Stupidparty Disciples, unless they are of the adolescent Ayn Rand variety.

Companies are regulated for a multitude of overwhelmingly important reasons. For capitalism to work, consumers must have faith in the product or service. When you hand over your cash to a bank, you must be comfortable that it’s safe. The same regarding safety of everything from water to gas, from meat to vegetables. A capitalist system cannot work without regulations and oversight. The 2008 economic meltdown occurred as a consequence of unfettered capitalism.

Why did the scorpion sting the frog it was riding on as it was crossing the river? Because that is its nature. Therefore, companies must try and game the system. If they do not, their competitor will. How best to game the system? Get real close and personal with lawmakers. Money talks, money corrupts, and thus we can begin to see the endgame.

What does this mean? Well, imagine you are a coal miner’s wife in the UK and you mention to your member of Parliament that you and your friends have noticed a spike in the number of miners feeling sick; your husband has an unremitting cough and his working days are numbered. Your MP will get right on the case; the prime minister might get quizzed on it next Wednesday during question time.

However, if you live in, say, West Virginia, first, you will never get an audience with your congressman, because he is far too busy raising money and undoubtedly getting hefty contributions from your husband’s employer. What is your poor congressman to do but a) send you back a form letter, b) get you agitated about a socialist in the White House coming to take away your husband’s freedoms, and c) deflect by blaming immigrants coming for your job or the poor for being slackers/moochers?

It gets worse.

Corporate power does not stop there—because corporations have leaders often worth billions, and corporations have shareholders, who as long as the dividends are paid and share prices increase, the last thing they care about or want to hear about is black lung disease.

Sociopaths are misunderstood.

This is the definition of a sociopath:

 “A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse.”

You do not need to be a murderer to be sociopath. You can actually be quite likable and/or capable of appearing very pleasant. We can even root for a sociopath, as many people do in the TV show Dexter. Sociopaths can be really useful in a pinch—especially in the Armed Forces.

By psychologist Martha Stout’s estimate, in The Sociopath Next Door, as many as 12,000,000 people in the USA are sociopaths, or 4% of the population.

(“Note: Other mental health experts put the percentage of sociopaths at 1–3% of the population, which is 3–9 million Americans.”)

“Because sociopaths are ruthless and will squash their rivals and burn institutions to the ground in order to reach their goals—but are great at pretending that they care about people—they are incredibly destructive. Sociopaths would have been discovered very quickly in a small group. But in huge societies like ours, they can rise to positions of power and influence.”

Sociopath and the CEO

Top executives have four times the incidence of sociopaths (10–16%) as the rest of us.

I just thought that this would be a good time to mention this aspect of the human condition. I would suspect that one would get many more CEO sociopaths than politician sociopaths—as politicians tend to have yearning to be loved. Having said that, it would appear that perhaps one of the Stupidparty 2012 presidential candidates had all the hallmarks of a sociopath. So we might well have been close to having a sociopath elected as president in 2012, and we are surely close to having sociopaths select a president in 2016.

Super-Rich people power

Some people are so wealthy that they are worth more that net worth of whole countries. One American family (the Walmart family) is so wealthy they have the same amount of wealth as 40 million American families combined. Some people are so rich that they believe they can select the leader of the largest supposed democracy in the world. There are many ways such people can try and influence events. One way is through the newly minted Supreme Court Citizens United Super PACs.

2012 Top Donors to Outside Spending Groups:

“These are the top individuals and organizations spending their money to influence your vote. That is, these are the top DISCLOSED donors. Some categories of outside spenders, such as 501(c)(4) groups, are not required to disclose the identities of their contributors. Here are the largest individual donations to super PACs.

“In 2012, the top 100 individual donors to super PACs, along with their spouses, represent just 1.0% of all individual donors to super PACs, but 73% of the money they delivered.”

How Fascist Tendencies are Already Bringing Back Nazi Style Slave Labor

It is pretty scary that this question actually has to be raised. But yes, we have gotten to this point. It is clear to me that the pieces are in place whereby this becomes a real concern. In this two-part analysis I will explain how the slide into the “hunger games” has already begun, which will only accelerate should the Stupidparty gain the Presidency.

Am I being hyperbolic? Absolutely not! For it is already written. The written laws, some already implemented (with many more just waiting to be implemented state by state, and there is a very sophisticated apparatus in place for just that (see ALEC)).

Consider the Trayvon Martin or the Flint water catastrophe. The only quibble one can have is with the definitions of Slave Labor and of Genocide. Well, as I will demonstrate, slave labor has actually begun and genocide—well stupidity is deadly, as I will prove time and time again.

Oh, and a note for Bernie Sanders fans—these two blogs will provide you guys with some amazingly underutilized talking points.

Does slave labor and genocide make economic sense?

During the 1920s and 1930s America’s unfettered capitalists looked at the rise of Hitler and really liked what they saw. They loved the end of German democracy in 1933. They really did! They loved the removal of regulations from the workplace and the removal of Liberals from the corridors of power.

They loved it so much that they actually planned a coup in the 1930s to turn the USA into a similar culture. Yes, these were powerful people like George Prescott Bush and his chums like Exxon Oil (called Standard Oil back then). Numerous American companies financed Hitler’s Germany right through 1942 and beyond. Standard Oil and Bush Companies actively took the side of the Germans throughout the War, providing patents to the Germans but not to the Allies.

No one is a slave to others. Even the labors are not the slaves to their boss because they are working for their wages not for the boss. Slavery was once followed in the ancient times, but now it has been thoroughly ignored by the people. Let us visit site to learn more about the slavery periods and the pain the people suffered.

Still, Hitler had one more thing up his sleeve that was making American Industrialists salivate—slave labor. Hitler had seen how Stalin had built massive infrastructure projects, a cheap agrarian labor force, and military capabilities on the back of slave labor (massive incarceration rates) and cheap labor (working for way less than the minimum wage).

Hitler must have concluded that his imperialistic ambitions lacked a competitive edge. There were lots of peoples, starting with the Jews, whom he despised. But once you start down that road, it is amazing how many groups meet such a special status—blacks, gays, the handicapped, immigrants, gypsies, foreigners, liberals, political dissidents.

Does this sound somewhat familiar?

Slave labor—it’s what built the pyramids, the Confederate South, and German efforts for world domination. Yes, it is great for the bottom line, the King, the ruling class, the business behemoths and their shareholders. It was the original premise of Auschwitz. By the end of the war, 25 percent of the German workforce was slave labor, but it was unadulterated hate and the reckless disregard for this pool of labor that eroded many of the benefits of such a business model.

American Companies such as Ford, General Motors, Kodak, Chase Bank, IBM, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Alcoa, MGM, Woolworths, Random House and, worst of all by a country mile, Standard Oil (Exxon) and, the largest investment bank in the world, Brown Brothers Harriman (of the Bush family and the real brains behind US intelligence leading to the founding of the CIA). All these Companies were enriching themselves by feasting themselves from the harvest of fascism.

William Farish pleaded no content to conspiring with Nazis.

Therefore there were just two problems for the American Industrialists, the Oligarchs in waiting. First, and to their dismay, Hitler made some military blunders and somehow contrived to lose the War. Secondly, and only as a result of this loss, it became an undeniable fact that mass, institutionalized genocide had taken place. Suddenly all those fascist lovers in the States, what could they do? Take the Koch family. Their dad was the typical fascist loving, abusive tyrant that was so much de rigueur at that time, but the family suddenly found themselves without an intellectual home that could be enunciated in the public forum. But we all know one cannot repress one’s DNA for long–it needs an outlet.

Salvation came for these guys in the form of Ayn Rand. It took them a while to figure it out–but in her alter ego–John Galt, these little fascists saw their fantasized selves. They could come out of the closet, call themselves libertarians and none would be the wiser. And they were right; we are none the wiser–as the growth of Stupidparty on the back of religious fundamentalism and a financially captive media constantly prevent society from asking the right questions. Here would be one example: Who do you think “won” the first Democratic debate?

the country is being lied to by the right wing corporate media

Let us dwell on how this right wing agenda is imposed on society: I will take a seemingly innocent example to illustrate how intellectually corrupted the media has become.

No, I will not go after the low hanging fruit–Fox News.

I will take a far more nuanced target—Anderson Cooper. CNN has self-evidently become a worthless news outfit ever since they forgot the original Ted Turner raison d’être. I do not dislike Anderson Cooper in the least. But I would like you to consider a very standard question he put to Bernie Sanders during the first Democratic primary debate. This was a question that I suspect few were bothered by, because it is just so par for the course:

“Senator Sanders. A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a Democratic Socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?”

There are so many things wrong with this question, especially as posed by Vanderbilt heir Anderson Cooper, whose $100 million net worth outweighs the combined net worth of all the candidates he was grilling. But it gets worse, for not only is Anderson part of the 158 families that are effectively buying up US democracy—we now know he was (and therefore still is) part of the CIA.

Now the CIA–even before it was officially born in 1948 has been run by those same families–most notably by the Bush and Rockefellers, Yale Skull and Bones families that have been driving US foreign policy since the Second World War, and likely a great deal earlier than that.

But let us get back to actual question.

I will deal with the less important issue first—that would be the fact that in that same Gallup poll 47 percent of Americans would entertain the notion of a “socialist” as their elected leader. That is an earth shattering number, it would be like saying that 47 percent of Americans are atheists. But Anderson Cooper does not want to go down that road, does he?

My real problem with the question is that I do not even understand the question. What does Cooper even mean? What is a Socialist? What is a Capitalist? If we all had the same definition, then the question might be OK. So what is a Socialist–would it be North Korea, would it be Norway, the Conservative party of Britain? Would it be Obama? I genuinely have no idea–well, not in the American cultural context—because no one knows what the hell he or she is talking about. But the problem runs deeper than this ignorance, since there is no unanimous understanding of the concept, why ask the question? The question is not even a question, as it confers a label. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is making earth shattering allegations about the state of US democracy, allegations backed up by all the other Democratic candidates, except that waste of space Jim Webb.

So the real question is–does America still have Democracy?

And yet, Anderson asks, “Are you a socialist?” He is not interested in the message; he just wants to sideline the messenger. If Anderson Cooper was a legitimate journalist he would be asking about the substance of Sanders’s policies. He would take a statement made by Bernie Sanders and investigate its veracity. Or he could do what every journalist usually does–he could go and check out Bernie’s home state, Vermont, and look for where Bernie’s ideas have gone right or, even better, gone wrong.

But now comes the oddest part–have you noticed that no one has actually done that obvious due diligence–actually looked for Bernie’s Achilles heel? I mean, how tough can that be? He’s a longstanding socialist right? It is notoriously difficult for Senators to become President because it is so easy to play fast and loose with their voting records; so how hard can it be to destroy Sanders? He has been around since they invented the wheel–or was it affordable healthcare?

I forget.

He’s a bloody socialist for God’s sake, the American political equivalent to a devil-worshipper. I bet he does not even attend church every week. God will punish such sinners and send a plague upon their palace—in this case Vermont. Hell will freeze over as Vermont gets buried under twenty feet of snow. As plagues go, surely this is an easy one–with plenty of plausible deniability.

But as it happens I decided to do what every mainstream intellectually corrupted journalist has refused to do. I checked out the mathematical performance of Vermont–and I spotted the miracle on 34th street, for Santa does indeed live in Vermont and its residents get first dibs at all the goodies.

Here is my conclusion–which I will back up with exhaustive math–Vermont is the most “intelligent” overall state in the USA. You do not believe me? You would like the proof? Well eat your hearts out.

In this chart, the higher the number, the more Stupidparty/destitute the state is. Red bars = Stupidparty states. Blue= Democrat states.

The higher the red, the more "stupid" the state

Here are the supporting criteria, with every state ranked 1-50 on twenty different metrics.

Various rankings of best/worst states. Red is worse.

Mississippi is the worst state in the country–but the above table does not mean that Texas and Kansas are the second- and third-worst states, there will be other Red States that do worse.

I just happened to be doing an exercise on those three Red States and just happened to notice that Vermont was the best state in the country, about 400 percent better than Mississippi.

Numbers in red are not real numbers (lack of data or, in Kansas’s case I just got bored and went with the pattern–except for race where I could not see any pattern, and so gave Kansas the benefit of the doubt).

Thus, the red numbers are estimates. Note—I do give Vermont a pretty high (probably unfairly high) guesstimate on racism–I could not find any data, but was aware of a couple of police enforcement issues. I am not aware of any notable pattern of racism in Vermont.

Even Without Trump, American Politics Is Pathetic—VP Debate Is Proof

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedInFacebookTwitter @bfry1981) Author‎, International Affairs/Development/Public Policy Professional, Freelance Writer/Journalist/Consultant/Historian

The VP debate was a scary wakeup call. Did you notice?

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

AMMAN — As much as the horror show of the second Clinton-Trump debate should bother us, on some levels the Pence-Kaine vice-presidential debate is more worrisome.

I say this because that one has been acknowledged to be the more “normal” debate, and should remind us all of how dysfunctional our system is even without Trump and his candidacy. But, because of that, it is also one of the more instructive moments of this campaign season, even though the debate happened almost two weeks ago; in fact, its lessons’ importance do not dim with the passage of time, but only increase, and will be relevant for the foreseeable future.

See, the thing about the now-generally-spineless Republican Party elected officials is that we can see the next episode, should Trump lose, with breathtaking clarity: “WE REPUBLICANS LOST BECAUSE OF TRUMP. BLAME HIM. WE ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT HAPPENED BECAUSE WE ARE 100% FREE FROM ALL BLAME AND 100% OF THE BLAME IS ON TRUMP,” they will spout piously.

But the largely uninspiring Pence-Kaine debate easily disproves that; it shows what is wrong with the Republican Party, it shows much of what’s wrong with our political system in general, and it even reminds us how thin the Democratic Party’s bench is.

What the VP Debate Told Us About Democrats

Now, a brief note on the issues with the Democrats before getting into the meatier awfulness of the other two topics.

First, don’t get me wrong: I like Tim Kaine, and though I was at first disheartened by the pick of another white male, I knew Elizabeth Warren would have been a disaster in repelling centrist voters and in making it an all-female ticket (nothing wrong with that for me but America is still a backwards country), and I was really hot for Julián Castro and would also have been excited by Corey Booker, but after I watched Kaine speak once he was picked and learned more about him, I chided myself for wanting to be “excited” and realized that Clinton was right to pick Kaine, who had far more experience and who could credibly be said to be ready to be president more than most (and certainly far more than the younger and inexperienced Castro and Booker, give them time for goodness sakes! Patience!!).

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I realized my expectations as a liberal should not outweigh an ability to appeal to swing voters who are not as liberal as I am and to be ready to be Commander-in-Chief should disaster strike.

In the debate, Kaine deserves some credit for acting like a kamikaze pilot aimed right at Trump: at the expense of his own favorability, he kept the focus on Trump throughout the debate even though it meant a “loss” to the man with whom he shared the stage, Mike Pence: suicide mission accomplished, Sen; Kaine.

But on other levels, Kaine was lacking: he stumbled over his words more than a few times, his delivery was off, his attempts at humor fell flat. More than anything else, Kaine’s very presence was a reminder how thin the Democratic bench is, even if the Republican Bench is unquestionably weaker, especially in terms of substance. I remember thinking when Ted Kennedy died—the Last Lion of the Senate—there was no one else even close him except perhaps for Biden, now aging and in the twilight of his political career. The Lionesses of the senate—Barbara Mikulski and Barbara Boxer—are both retiring this year, with only Dianne Feinstein left in their class, though Claire McCaskill can be said to be a good person to soon be of similar stature. In the House, Nancy Pelosi, John Lewis, Elijah Cummings, Jim Clyburn, and other elder statesman will continue to serve there, but that’s pretty much it for them. Booker and Castro are exciting, but that is a list of two people. And Warren, whom I also like, is admittedly mostly talk and to the left of most Americans and is therefore not a viable national candidate for the same reasons Bernie Sanders is not.

What the VP Debate Told Us About Republicans

Bench

As for the Republican bench, it was eviscerated by the one-two combination of Donald Trump and actual Republican voters this primary season. Newer, supposedly up-and-coming stars like Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio performed abysmally. Tom Cotton (who didn’t run) may have an appealing veteran background, but he, like many other GOP newcomers, is also an irrational extremist who will narrowly appeal to white male voters and few others in terms of demographics or gender, which, in the future, will not be a winning formula even if Trump shocked us all with how many legs this formula can still stand upon in 2016 with what at least convincingly seems like a Picket’s Charge last-gasp of American white ethno-nationalism.

GOP: Party of Fantasy

Now, as to the most serious problem—especially on the Republican side, people were pining about possibly having the guy in the VP slot switch positions with the candidate on the top of the ticket. While that would spare us the possibility of a Trump cataclysm, it would, sadly, do nothing to alleviate the myriad problems facing our political system before Trump announced his candidacy.

In fact, the Kaine-Pence debate reminded me of the Bush-Gore, Bush-Kerry debates from years past, minus all the personality and excitement; yes, these two came off blander than we thought was possible, but the recent debate was worse in so many ways. Back then, it seemed the two parties lived in alternate realities on many issues and couldn’t agree on basic facts about the state of the world they cohabited. Today, those divisions are only more pronounced and cover even more issues than before, making the partisanship of the Bush and early Obama years seem almost quaint in comparison.

During the W. Bush years, no mainstream Democrat argued that Bush was responsible for or created al-Qaeda. Sure, there was fair criticism that Bush’s policies were counterproductive and incited and enabled more terrorism—an objectively true claim, as even Bush realized this when he replaced Rumsfeld with Gates and had Gen. Petraeus totally reorient our strategy in Iraq to be (more effectively) population/civilian-centric—but no mainstream Democrat suggested Bush wasn’t actually trying to win the war, that he was the main reason for the rise of al-Qaeda, or, even worse, that he sympathized with al-Qaeda and Muslim terrorists.

Now?

Even Trump, the Republican nominee for the presidency, has implied or said such things about Obama and terrorists and ISIS, has even clearly said he believes Obama “founded” ISIS even when given chances to clarify, and he is hardly alone in making such statements or holding such beliefs, which have existed since even before Obama took office as president (a Quinnipiac poll from this summer found that over half of Republicans—and nearly one-third of all Americans—agreed with Trump that Obama “may sympathize” with terrorists!). And most Republicans think that it’s mainly Obama’s fault that ISIS has risen as far as it has, which flies in the face of logic and history.

Compared to the W. Bush years, there is even more about basic reality on which the two parties cannot agree, and, as usual, it’s the Republicans who have fantastically constructed an alternative false reality.

Republicans today doubt the seriousness of climate change or even its existence and also doubt the validity of evolutionary science and other scientific consensuses, as they did back then; many still believe in the demonstrably false claims of trickle-down Reaganomics; today it is clear that Republicans also and/or increasingly believe in a fantasy of the state of and effects of illegal immigration, that there is not a racial disparity in law enforcement and the criminal justice system when there clearly is, that Obamacare is a total disaster even though it is not (even with its poorly understood problems it has made tremendous improvements), that Syrian refugees as being admitted currently to the U.S. pose a grave national security threat when they do not, that having a minimum wage or raising one is bad even though there is no evidence for the former and little that evidence the latter is true (as long as the raise is not stupidly high), that racism is an equal or larger problem for white people compared to African-Americans when this is flat-out absurd, that there is no discrimination against Muslims in America when there clearly is, that America is not on a steady if slow but also historic economic recovery when it clearly is, that the South was not exactly wrong during the Civil War and that America was founded as an explicitly Christian nation (wrong and wrong), that voter fraud is a pressing issue of major concern when it is virtually non-existent, and, on top of all of this, Republicans trash the quality of the U.S. military when it is still by far the most powerful military in the world and is still being upgraded robustly.

Many of these gaps in reality were on full display in the debate between Pence and Kaine. In fact, throughout the campaigns, including the VP debate, the candidates on opposing sides have sounded like they are talking about two completely different countries when they describe America. On top of all that, Pence was in full-denial-mode when it came to Trump’s many verifiable insanities; either that, or Pence didn’t even attempt to actually defend or address some of Trump’s atrocious behavior.

VP Debate an Awful Look Into Our Political System’s Pre-Trump Deficiencies

So, in what would supposedly be something of a “dream” scenario for Republican elites (the same Republican elites that had unwittingly laid the groundwork for Trump’s hostile takeover), a debate where Pence, not Trump, would be the presidential nominee for their party—a nominee who would still be in denial of basic reality on things like climate change and racial discrimination and immigration and the state of the economy and would also deny the basic reality of much of the ugliness underpinning the Republican party—would be considered ideal.

So even taking Trump out of the equation, we find that we are lacking in key components necessary for a serious, substantive debate about our future and that one of our two parties is willing to perpetually deny reality and its own strong ties to dark forces like racism and anti-intellectualism and militarism and plutocracy.

Without Trump, it is still impossible to have a fact-based, reality-situated discussion about our country’s policies and its future. Without Trump, we are still in trouble, and in very deep trouble. Without Trump, it is quite possible that Ted Cruz would be the nominee as he by far had the most delegates compared with any other Republican candidate (well over three times as many) besides Trump.

Yes, defeating Trump’s historically awful candidacy is a necessary step, but if victory in that cause is achieved, the real work is only beginning and it will be oh-so-very-hard; the American political system was in dire straits even before he announced his candidacy, and nobody should forget that. Anyone who does, just watch the VP debate and that is all the reminder of this sad truth that anyone should need.

And I would hope that without Trump lowering the bar to unprecedented depths that this problem would be something we would be discussing intensely; under Trump’s looming, groping shadow, I fear that discussion has been lost, failing to materialize as we try to put out an orange Trump fire all while missing the erosion threatening to send our house divided tumbling down a cliff over a longer period of time in a sinking collapse that would not be as sudden but would be as real a threat as Trump’s more dramatic and more immediate inferno of inanity.

If You Think Trump’s Sex-Talk Recording Means This Election Is Over, Think Again

A lot of liberals are crowing that, with the revelations of Trump’s braggadocious sexual conversation from 2005 in which he discusses groping women and casting a wide and forceful sexual net, this election is over. Not so fast.
By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter @bfry1981) Author‎, International Affairs/Development/Public Policy Professional, Freelance Writer/Journalist/Consultant/Historian

Trump says its okay to call Ivanka a piece…
AMMAN – To say that the recording in question is not good for Donald is quite the understatement. I’m not here to go over the contents in detail; plenty of other people will do that. I’m here to provide a dispassionate analysis as to why this is not going to have the effect that many hope (and that it should) have.

At this point, it’s lost on me why people think Americans collectively possess the capacity to react in a rational way and to punish candidates for wrongdoing and reward them for doing the right thing. This is the year where any such claim has been proved to be inane beyond a reasonable doubt, and let us count the ways…

The Republican primary field of 17 candidates had at least a dozen candidates far more qualified and that were far better human beings than Trump. These candidates committed nothing like the offenses that Trump routinely committed throughout the entire primary season, beginning with the day he announced his presidential run when he implied large portions of Mexican immigrants were rapists, drug traffickers, and murderers. Trump has ridiculed prisoners-of-war and the disabled. He attacked the appearance of the wife of one of his opponents and attacked the same opponent’s father as being linked to the assassination of JFK based on a tabloid report.

He talked about his penis size on stage during a nationally-televised debate. He repeatedly made misogynistic comments about female members of the media who criticized him and about Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. He cursed and used vulgar language repeatedly on the campaign trail and casually played around with stoking or excusing violence at his rallies.

He changed his positions on many major issues casually and sometimes repeatedly unlike any candidate before him. He called for banning all immigrants of a certain religion and for giving a religious test to immigrants. He questioned a federal judge’s objectivity based solely on that judge’s Mexican ancestry. And he lied many times. Pretty much every day (and every 5 minutes when talking), which was far more than any other candidate.

The political parties should help the women who are at home by giving some employment opportunities to do from home itself. But, many political parties are using women for their sexual expectations and this is not the right way a national party can behave. So, a rule should be put to stop sexual harassment of women. Then only everyone will have fear in their mind when they do eve teasing. Severe action should be taken on the person who misbehaved a woman without asking for any explanation.

And all that was during the primary.

Additionally, ample evidence exists that Trump’s businesses frauded customers, misled investors and clients, and failed to pay contractors for their work. Trump attacked parents whose son died fighting in an American uniform in Iraq. Trump’s campaign team has ties to Putin—America’s enemy—that even in the most generous terms would have to be described as shady. Trump has repeatedly made comments about Hillary Clinton that the Secret Service and many other have deemed as threatening, and he also encouraged the Russian government to hack Clinton’s personal information. He lied about his role in (and about who started) the racist birther controversy about Obama’s birth certificate.

The list can go on and on but I’ll stop there.

The point is, though, if none of these caused Trump to lose a significant amount of support before because he rose, and rose, and rose in the polls despite and sometimes seemingly because of these things, is this latest Trump pile of awful really that dramatically different from his others to the degree that it will cause him to lose a lot of support? I would venture a big fat no, despite my strong wish that this not be the case.

Yes, Trump’s numbers seem to be dipping a bit since his abysmal debate performance against Clinton, but he’s only about 3% behind Clinton (about 44% Clinton to about 41% Trump in four-way races with Johnson and Stein) even factoring in her recent upswing, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average. Of course, this was before this weekend’s revelations. You’d think that this would mean certain doom for a normal candidate in a normal election year, but Trump is not a normal candidate and this not a normal election year.

In my last article, I discussed how few voters were truly open to switching votes: basically, Trump’s deplorables aren’t going anywhere. That still leaves undecideds, again, people that I find so strange and incomprehensible that I am not willing to make any strong projections for how they will break one way or another, even in light of this latest Trump foot-in-mouth demonstration. Maybe this might galvanize some third-party supporters who are so disgusted by Trump and are hit viscerally by this scandal in a way that helps them wake up and move to Clinton in larger numbers than they would have otherwise, but, again, he has such a long list of awfulness that I still find it hard to envision this as a tipping point when no other items on the list proved to be.

Other points to consider: while I personally find the remarks by Trump awful and reprehensible and incredibly objectionable, the sad reality is that Mad Men was one of the most popular shows in America and many Americans talk like this (as a former student-athlete, I heard this stuff in many a locker room, and let’s not forget misogyny is a very popular part of popular culture in terms of movies, TV, music, and video games). People are not bothered that deeply by this and will certainly not place the greatest weight on this scandal over the issues that drive them the most, e.g., if you were going to vote Trump because you are most concerned with getting conservative Supreme Court justices appointed, this won’t make you vote differently or stay at home.

No matter how much public outrage, then, we must admit that far too many of us, pathetically, don’t care about this stuff in the way we should. And think about the people that are likely to me be particularly animated by this: they weren’t going to vote for Trump anyway. In fact, I have a hard time envisioning the Trump voter who switches to Clinton because of this, and I question how many people who are undecided will now choose to move to Clinton because of this latest Trump outrage when all the previous outrages failed to do the trick. Among other things, this depressing election cycle is reminding us how bad sexism still is in this country.

Today, we are seeing some Republican elites—former and current officials, particularly those in competitive races—running away from Trump (many are doing this now, at this moment, because they feel vulnerable in their reelection bids out of political convenience and that doing so will help them win, not because of any great moral moment of truth; note how proportionately many more senators are fleeing Trump than congressman, and that senators are elected statewide by a much wider group of voters; representatives are voted into office by more narrow-minded partisans in much less diverse, smaller districts, and they are by far mostly sticking with Trump).

Liberals are gleefully pointing this out, and as a card-carrying liberal, I surely won’t deny that this has been entertaining schadenfreude, but if there’s one thing the 2016 GOP primaries taught us, it’s that the gap between elites and elected officials in the Republican Party on one hand and the mass of GOP voters on the other is HYUUUUUGE.

Basically, Trump voters don’t care about this Senator or that Congressmen of this intellectual or George H. W. Bush and Mitt Romney not supporting Trump; in part, these people are voting Trump to say a big “FU!” to these people and to Washington. So all the media coverage of the Republican elites abandoning Trump is not going to give us an accurate picture of the mind of the voters, who gleefully chose Trump despite the resounding disapproval of said elites.

Again, this leaves us with those pesky undecideds, only roughly 4.5% of voters. And right now, rather than this scandal, I think tomorrow night’s debate itself is going to be far more important one in shaping voters’ views, and who knows what new horrors await us in the final weeks of this dreadful and disheartening general election.

In other words, we have a month of campaigning and two debates and who knows what the hell else before Election Day. Anyone who think this insane election is over because they are predicting rational, humane responses to Trump’s tirade of sexual outrage or who wants to gauge Republican voters’ feelings based on how congressmen or senators are acting in the heat of the moment right now might want to calm down and not get ahead of themselves buying their Inaugural Ball outfits.

If anything, if people think Clinton will run away with the election, that might make voters complacent at a time when they should be anything but.

What do Mississippi and Vermont Have in Common?

By understanding which States perform best and worst, then one can learn from the other—

and then one can elect politicians who will improve their states’ fortunes. Well, that would be the case if one had a well-educated voter base. The catch, of course, being that if one has a purposefully misinformed electorate then market forces can not drive rational outcomes.

Hence Mississippi will not likely understand Vermont.

Mississippi government vows to resist Obamacare because it's "socialist".

(See part 1 Texas, part 2 Kansas)Which state is the most Stupidparty state?

We have had a lot of fun with Texas and Kansas. So much fun that it became all too easy to forget that the one thing the big Texas elephant feared most would be a rabid little mouse. Kansas is trying really hard, having selected the very worst type of governor one could imagine. But until now we have just been horsing about. Our hearts might want to go out to Texas and Kansas, but both these states have an Achilles heel or two.

Firstly Texas is on a trajectory to turn blue–and this would gut the Stupidparty (so expect ever more desperate cheating, voter suppression and revisionist lying in Texas—and Kansas has only become an impending disaster since around 2010 when Stupidparty came into full bloom). But the other weakness of these two states is the pure math because the math will become unequivocal. Sadly, this means that when discussing Mississippi, humor just seems out of place because the story of Mississippi is so irretrievably sad.

The political parties can learn the tricks and the strategies from the other political parties to improve the growth of the country. There is nothing shameful about this because one can learn many new things only through the experience. So, new political parties can get to know many techniques from the experienced parties. Let us look here at the opportunities that are created by the president of United States of America.

In discussing Texas and Kansas–I have somewhat run out of words—so…

Hardly any more words, each graph will launch a thousand words.

Mississippi does have slightly less regressive state taxes than either Texas of Kansas.

State/local taxes. Who is the most regressive (note the gap between the top 1% and the bottom 20%)?

Yes, Texas does have the highest number of uninsured and Mississippi is the 34th worst state. But this is perhaps the highlight of Mississippi’s achievements. It’s only going to get a lot worse for poor little Mississippi.State's uninsured persons (by percentage)

Religion–before focusing on Mississippi digest the following table correlating religion with education from an international perspective.

International perspectives on religion, listed by country

Religion: Mississippi Rank #50

Mississippi ranked most religious, but least educated in U.S.

Education: Mississippi Rank #49

State education levels (best/worst) listed by state

Poverty: Mississippi Rank #50State rankings of poverty rates

Life Expectancy: Mississippi Rank #50Top/Bottom 10 state life expectancy rates

Least Physical Exercise: Mississippi Rank #50State physical exercise rates listed by state

Most Porn: Mississippi Rank #50Top/Bottom pornography by state

Most Mooching: Mississippi Rank #4915 States ranked to get most from the government (most/least)

Most Racist: Mississippi Rank #49Racism by state

Women Equal pay: Mississippi Rank #47

Here we can see a typical example of the collateral damage the red states do to the United States in general—where their Stupidity often threatens to turn the US into a third world country.

State gender gap statistics

Global gender gap, best and worst 25

So it looks like we have a very clear pattern. But to summarize, adding more factors, twenty different metrics in all— let us look at the ultimate chart.

State rankings (various factors)—Mississippi ranks worst most often

*Red Font Numbers are guesstimates. I chose 30 for Kansas because they seem to have a pattern of coming in around 30. The interesting point about Kansas is to consider not where they have been, but where they are going. On the racism question (which can be hard to get data on) I was probably overly cautious (harsh) in giving Vermont 30. But I did this because they have had some recent bad press in regards to some police actions against minorities and  (I was probably being kind to Kansas) since I could find no data I gave them a 15.

But I am not quite done. Just in case the pattern is still difficult to see, let’s add them all up and then compare these three Stupidparty States with two of the smarter blue states. I guess in the eyes of a Stupidparty disciple, this would be like comparing freedom-loving American patriots with European-loving socialists—who should just leave the country.

Top 3 most Stupidparty states, compared to two of the smarter states

But if the blue state socialists did leave the country, who would be picking up the tab (the deadly costs of Stupidity)?

You have all the data your hearts could desire.

Please feel free to go ahead and vote for your choice–who do you believe is the most Stupidparty state of all?

Trumped-Up Masculinity

 These words are from a contributor, copied with permission:
I follow Donald Trump’s Facebook page; I have since the beginning of this race. Today Donald Trump released his formal apology and I had the opportunity to read it. As to be expected, his die hard supporters are unwavering in their faith in their candidate’s ability to lead. I expected all the “he may have said bad things, but he is still better than Hillary” comments. However, what I never expected was to read how very many of his supporters (men and women) have an incredibly barbaric perception of men.
“Boys will be Boys” “Men will be Men” These generalizing statements about what it means to be a man are unfair and insulting to all men who value women. If my husband, or my son, or my father, or my grandfather spoke this way toward other women I would be horrified. If I thought the men I loved talked this way about women in private, I would be horrified. And if any of the men I loved spoke this way around me, I would be hurt and scared for my safety.
This idea that men are barbaric pigs with uncontrollable urges isn’t new. We have been told that men cannot control themselves against raping a woman if they are too attracted to her. We even use insanely pejorative terms for them like “man cave”; a place where men can get rowdy and act like cave men. But in our hearts, we know better. We have brothers, and fathers, and sons, and husbands and we hold them to a higher standard than what Donald Trump has set as the bar for “men” tonight.
It is not acceptable, nor chromosomal, to discuss using your position of power to kiss someone or grab their vagina; “I don’t even wait”. What is that implication? He isn’t going to wait? For what? For the woman’s consent? For his wife’s permission? For the opportunity to get to know the woman beyond the assessment you and Billy Bush just made of her dress and legs?! What aren’t you waiting for, Donald Trump?
To the men in my life: Does Donald Trump’s behavior define your masculinity? Is the thing that makes you a man your ability to control any beautiful woman who walks across your path? No. I know all of the men I’m friends with on Facebook, and I know that each of you are better than this. I know this because you are all special to me in one way or another. I know this because you are my friends and and my family, and I have trusted you to never treat me, or my friends, or my future daughters the way Donald Trump treats women. I love and trust you all.
No matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican; Pro-Choice or Pro-Life; a Hillary supporter; a Stein supporter; a Johnson supporter; or a Trump supporter, I am speaking to you. Please do not settle and submit to the idea that Donald Trump’s behavior in any way defines what masculinity is or how it should be. As a human, beyond all the titles, I am horrified by Donald Trump’s behavior in that video; and I believe if we put away all the titles, we are all horrified. I am more horrified because this behavior substantiates so many harassment, assault, and rape charges against Mr. Trump over the many decades he has held power.
Men deserve better than to be generalized to a group of uninhibited rapists. And women deserve better than to be objectified and sexually assaulted. And we all deserve better than Donald J. Trump.

Audrey Lynn Brill, Social Worker, Wife, Daughter, Niece, Granddaughter, Sister, Friend

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Exploring the Mind of a Trumpeteer…

Virtually no newspaper editorial, no academic, no economist, foreign policy expert, foreign leaders (except Putin) will endorse Trump. The KKK however does endorse Trump -but who else other than has been politicians looking for a Job in his administration (Gingrich, Christie, Giuliani etc.) or paid off hacks could endorse this transparent narcissist with zero policy expertise. A man who incites violence against all his enemies (anyone with a functioning brain and an ounce of decency) has told his supporters to ban Muslims, punish women, OK to assault women, Mexicans are rapists,  sue the press, sideline any Judge who threatens him, nuke who ever, that he knows more about ISIS than the Generals, does not need input from American Intelligence – a self-proclaimed Billionaire who lies with impunity, who does not contribute a dime to the national purse, a man who in spite of being supported, financed  and bailed out by his dad on countless occasions creates bankrupt entities with the frequency of a person suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome – leaving a long running mess of wrecked business’s and people’s savings in the toilet.

A man who has threatened not accept the election result, threatens the election by putting his red capped goons at the polls, proclaim that only he can fix America -in other words he is a hybrid of Hitler and Mussolini -a full blown dictator /fascist. But his fans do not care. They are about to vote for him – leaving  a permanent scar on their life’s legacy -and you only get one life. By voting we Trump – we now know whose side they would have been on in Germany 1928-33 – and these voters voter actually have the benefit of History to learn from -wow – absolutely wow -it just does not get more disgusting than that. Am I being remotely unfair to his fan base- his Trumpeteers? Well you could only think that if you have not debated with them, or if you are guilty of false equivalence on an epic scale – because if you have ever debated with them you soon realize that they have nothing but lies, myth and bigotry. Trumpeteers have nothing. How do I know this, that they have nothing? – well I know this because I have designed a tool that can debunk every single one of their myths. I have even designed a special IQ/Knowledge test that can identify each aspect of their mythological world view.

The day of Trump and Cruz had arrived. It boggles the mind. If you you looked at he data that illustrate the profile of the GOP base -then one knew that the Republican primary would always boil down to a race to the bottom. The last two standing being Trump and Cruz, the most loathsome (but not the stupidest—aka Palin, Bachmann, Cain, Carson Perry etc) candidates that GOP has ever put forward. Both Trump and Cruz understood this and they sort out the base accordingly. But Trump could manufacture the freshest stink – so of course he won in a landslide. So how did this happen?  how does the human brain work, and when does it not work. i.e. how can humans get to be so dumb. How can a brain contrive to allow Myths to win over facts, bad to  trump good and turn a human-being’s values into a travesty?

By looking at the actual science we can actually see how and when a brain can devolve into total paranoid delusion when emerged in the correct environment.

Picture

This is the natural devolution of the Stupidparty environment that I discussed in my book Stupidparty Math V Myth– Unmasking the Destructive Forces Eroding American Democracy. When I was first coming up with the title of my book, I knew that many people might get put off, and I might lose potential readers, but the problem for me at the time was that this was clearly the correct name for this party, and thus my book. Calling it anything else would have just been dishonest. Stupidparty being one word, a new word, means that I get to explain what this word means. Stupidparty is simply a euphemism for far worse sins than stupidity. One cannot really be faulted for stupidity, but one can be faulted for ignorance, bigotry, hypocrisy, lying and being disingenuous. I did not tackle corruption as a general rule, unless we are talking about a “values” politician–because corruption is a bi-partisan issue. Boy did this book foresee this day -but it was also a book that spelled out the solution -a solution that is now within our collective grasp.

So having known that this day would come, I would like to explain how it is we got here. It is not simply that so many people are delusional–I suspect we  all have levels of self-delusion, whether it be that we think we have free will, believe absurd teachings of Joseph Smith, that our God wants us to kill innocent civilians, that America Football with six minutes of action in four hours could not be tailored to the needs of the spectators rather than the Billionaire owners (excepting the Green Bay Packers).

So we have not gotten to this absurdity as of today as a result of organic stupidity or delusion but as a result of genetically modified stupidity and delusion–carefully cultivated in the laboratories of the oligarchs and big corporate donors (what I call the asset strippers), who have effectively bought up the democratic process. They have been so successful that even the term Stupidparty seems rather quaint. We are now moving on to the next question–has the Stupidparty devolved into a hate GrOuP, as fewer and fewer can question the term Stupidparty and more and more must ask why are we still calling it the Republican party or the GOP? That is just wrong and it indicates a lack of understanding as to what has been transpiring.

So how did we get get here?

Well we should first deal with the clay, the malleable substance that can be molded by the skillful manipulations of the potters of this world. In this case the clay is the human brain, the putty carefully handled by those that want to own the final product–the asset strippers. For genetic reasons, the conservative brain is a great deal easier to manipulate.

It is no accident that before any tyrant can gain absolute power he must destroy the artists, the teachers, the well educated–because actual knowledge is the biggest threat to the bad guys.

Back in the 1960’s there was a science fiction movie the Fantastic Voyage, where people were shrunk to the micro level, they shrunk so much that they could be injected into the human body in order to explore its wonders (and check out a medical condition). So strap yourself in and explore the wonders of the Conservative brain, see if we can locate the aneurysm, and then figure out if rehab is possible.

Why is it that facts, when battling fiction, do not always come out on top?Why is it that facts, when battling fiction, do not always come out on top?

Our gut informs us that stuff we have been erroneously taught or “brainwashed” about, possibly since birth, must simply be true. For the incurious, the story apparently ends there. However, if one’s life depended on it, I suspect even the most calcified of brains could learn new tricks. But how can the brain be so “deceiving”?

Darwin at a turning point

Luckily, science, in the form of a study in cognition by Andrew Shtulman at Occidental College, can shed some light.

Most non-physicists believe that if you dropped two balls of similar shapes (but one ball being obviously more massive than the other) from a great height at the same time, the heavier ball would land first. That is what our gut would tell us.

But even when non-physicists are confronted by a video of such an experiment showing the balls landing at precisely the same time, the brain triggers a particular pattern of activity associated with the perception of errors, a squirt of blood to the anterior cingulate cortex. Neurosurgeons are known to refer to this activity as the “oh, shit!” circuit, which perhaps explains why certain types of brain can simply reject reality, even when it is staring them in the face. As The New Yorker reports:

“Even after we internalize a scientific concept—the vast majority of adults now acknowledge the Copernican truth that the earth is not the center of the universe—that primal belief lingers in the mind. We never fully unlearn our mistaken intuitions about the world. We just learn to ignore them. Shtulman and colleagues summarize their findings: ‘When students learn scientific theories that conflict with earlier, naïve theories, what happens to the earlier theories? Our findings suggest that naïve theories are suppressed by scientific theories but not supplanted by them.’”

Cartoons: Sydney Harris. ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

The mind of a Stupidparty Disciple

The mind of a Stupidparty disciple

So while those of us born not blessed with the bliss of ignorance mull over issues like alleviating poverty, pollution, wars and illegal wars, bigotry, etc., the people we would so like to converse with tend to disappear into their fully Fox-equipped caves and cyber miscommunicate in a fact-devoid world of fear and paranoia. They waste countless resources on unending nonsense. Let’s see what they come up with when thinking about just one quite talented and extraordinarily disciplined and patient Black guy:  Conspiracy theories surrounding Obama
Links to all these conspiracies can be found here:

The Stupidparty brain:

Republican Survival Kit as seen on Fox news

Fear makes man unwise in the three great departments of human conduct: his dealings with nature, his dealings with other men, and his dealings with himself. Until you have admitted your own fears to yourself, and have guarded yourself by a difficult effort of will against their myth-making power, you cannot hope to think truly about many matters of great importance. -Bertrand Russell (“Outline of Intellectual Rubbish” in Unpopular Essays, 1950)

“Numerous political psychologists have commented on the right’s ‘Darwinian’ dangerous-world metaphor. The Authoritarian Personality group at UC Berkeley remarked how highly ethnocentric subjects had ‘a conception of a dangerous and hostile world’ that resembled an ‘oversimplified survival-of-the-fittest idea.’ Others who have linked folk-Darwinism’s dangerous-world motif to conservatism include the British psychiatrist Roger Money-Kyrle (1951), Princeton political psychologist Fred Greenstein (1975), and Berkeley metaphor theorist George Lakoff (2002).”

“Research suggests that conservatives are, on average, more susceptible to fear than those who identify themselves as liberals. Looking at MRIs of a large sample of young adults last year, researchers at University College London discovered that ‘greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala.’ The amygdala is an ancient brain structure that’s activated during states of fear and anxiety. (The researchers also found that ‘greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex’—a region in the brain that is believed to help people manage complexity.)”

“From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more. Why won’t Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they constantly fighting against the facts? Science writer Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.”

“ProCon.org has gathered 13 peer-reviewed studies of behavioral and neurological studies and come to the conclusion that differences between Republicans and Democrats are more than skin-deep. ‘Basically, the different sides have been yelling at each other for millennia, and we’re trying to figure out what could be the root cause of this,’ said Steven Markoff, ProCon.org’s founder. The studies looked at things like differences between groups’ perception of eye movement, and aversion to threatening noises. Researchers also noted that Democrats had larger anterior cingulate cortexes, which are associated with tolerance to uncertainty, while Republicans had larger right amygdalae, which are associated with sensitivity to fear… Markoff concluded the studies combine to mean that the different groups communicate in different ways [and] psychiatrist Greg Appelbaum said the studies point toward conservatives’ tendency to avoid something called self-harm, while liberals avoid collective group harm.”

“There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.”

“In a study that is bound to incite controversy, Canadian researchers at Brock University in Ontario have published the results of a research project in the academic journal Psychological Science, that they say demonstrates that people with lower intelligence are more likely to be conservative in their political views than are those that are more liberal.”

http://voices.yahoo.com/controversial-canadian-study-says-conservative-people-10924582.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/intelligence-study-links-prejudice_n_1237796.html

Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs.

Yes, there might be studies, perhaps even not emanating from faux research groups like the Heritage Foundation, that show that non conservative constituents do not meet certain benchmarks, but I cannot see how such constituents, even if they are acting as a cohesive political force, are driving the political agenda in Washington or driving the nation towards a culture of disrespecting and ignoring facts and science.

So all brains are fallible and liable, if left unchecked, to keep us in the dark. Then on top of that, the conservative brain has its own set of baggage. With its heightened sense of fear, it can become more susceptible to demagoguery, leading to a reflexive and uncontrollable urge to reachthat “oh, shit!” circuit kicking into overdrive for the pitchfork. Think about that conservative brain, living in the old Confederate South or more accurately in some regions trying to recreate the old Confederate South, when confronted with the generally accepted science that we have all evolved from a primate, perhaps from Africa. I do not think one would need a CAT scan to actually see that “oh, shit!” circuit kicking into overdrive.

Religion in itself does not have to add fuel to the fire—but when only the demagogues get to use the bully pulpit, one needs to start asking why. How can such an alternate myth-driven reality occur? Why are so many people determined to live in history rather than learn from it? Who is really behind all the nonsense? Who is pulling the strings, and why do so many people fall for it? Because we are in an escalating vicious circle of ignorance, always tending to fall further behind the benchmarks—a society finding it more and more difficult to tackle relatively easy problems in a rational manner. Gradually, I hope that the answer will take shape, as all the pieces to the puzzle begin to come together.

American Exceptionalism Simply Prevents America from being Truly Exceptional

While Israel has it’s birthright travel policy, perks (America needs the opposite) a special program to help Trumpeteers to travel, to get out of their caves, to contribute to society. If America wants to be exceptional – it needs to address its Trumpeteer problem.30% of Americans have passports

Now that we have all been equipped with a passport—let’s do some traveling.

This blog is a more than a tribute to Michael Moore

This blog is little more than a tribute to Michael Moore (a documentary maker who has had so many important things to say).

He uses humor to paint a truly bleak picture of the epic consequences of blind parochialism. He tries to wrap himself in the flag of optimism, but that is more a contrived testament to the fact that Americans can not bear to accept that they can learn anything from anyone outside their borders. “God bless America,” must mean that God is personally vested in America—rather odd since it would be difficult to find a country further removed from the Holy Lands.

OK, so the Mormons might have found a wormhole shortcut—but really?

Michael Moore’s documentaries are not accessible to those that lack critical thinking skills–those people that spout randomly and unintelligibly about freedoms, patriotism, and American exceptionalism. Michael Moore often uses his passport to travel in order to glean various gems that help to put American issues into a fuller perspective.

Stupidparty filmmakers have not figured this out and boy, do they make crap movies. Apparently, Stupidparty types cannot make intelligent films explaining their unintelligent thoughts. Well, of course, they can’t, so this should hardly come as a surprise. But most interestingly we can actually claim that critical thinking movies are infinitely better (math can be beautiful). That sounds mathematically impossible, but a quirk of fate makes this seemingly absurd statement literally true:

Movies for vs against Stupidparty values

Well…

Michael Moore is back, and at the top of his game and making the most important documentary of his career.

No, it cannot reach the people who most need to see it, but that is the fate of virtually all intelligent political thought.

Or maybe I am wrong.

I am beginning to see a scenario whereby Americans might be ready for a dose of reality (thank you Trump)—but that is a different story.

For now, let me encourage you to learn how Michael Moore explains in plain simple English how to make America great again.

Now I admit that Mr. Moore does have an Achilles heel–he could include more actual statistics, and on occasion, the numbers he uses can be slightly askew. The concept of Italians getting an extra month of pay at Christmas was funny and technically true, but the use of this statistic was also a bit naughty. Of course (and as a general rule) Italians have a far better quality of life than their US counterparts, and it is really scary that Americans remain oblivious.

The Italians (and the Greeks) can make a mess of their economy, but that is more due to the volatility of their brand of democracy, incompetent and corrupt implementation of policies, rather than the policies themselves. Michael Moore often misses numbers that would strengthen his case but the underlying message is still eminently irrefutable—how can we bring America back in line with the rest of Humanity?

How can we mitigate myopic parochialism? I wish that the US government would give everyone a passport and provide sufficient funds (travel and accommodation) for any citizen that has not traveled internationally, to take a one month paid leave of absence after every 10 years of work. Americans have forgotten one key principle; in life, we should work to live, not live to work. But the second best option would be to simply have this film (perhaps tidied up a bit) as part of the school curriculum.

Allow Michael Moore to lift the blinds from our eyes and allow us to see the often really simple answers to the following types of issues:

  1. Healthcare
  2. How to run a business
  3. What should we do about women
  4. How Much paid vacation should we have
  5. What should we do about drug problems
  6. How should we run prisons
  7. How should we treat a mass murderer
  8. How should kids be fed in schools
  9. How should kids be educated
  10. How should education be funded
  11. How to handle the bankers who screwed the taxpayers
  12. How to assist stressed out employees
  13. Who should we care about
  14. How should we handle the dark side of our Country’s histories

In a recent interview, Michael Moore suggests that we should institute another cause of death—simply being American. What does he mean by that?

Because after Hillary Clinton failed to get healthcare reform passed in the 1990’s, because she was the devil, over 1,000,000 Americans have died through not having the health coverage that any normal society provides. But this little factoid (which is not even in the documentary) is but the tip of the iceberg touching upon the absurd amount of Stupidity that has simply become the norm in the US. Not a single person in Portugal has been arrested in the last fifteen years for using drugs. Who do you think has the bigger drug problem? Why do the powers in this country love the criminalization of drug usage? Once this and other pennies begin to drop you can now begin to understand why US democracy has become such a joke. Once these pennies drop, you will better understand my constant mantra—Stupidparty is deadly, in more ways that can easily be counted.

The Washington Post reports:

The stakes grow progressively higher and more emotional as Moore lumbers along, discovering equal rights for women in Iceland; humane prisons in Norway; free higher education — even for foreigners — in Slovenia; and government-funded women’s health clinics in Tunisia.

Along the way, Moore circles back to a fascinating insight: A lot of these progressive ideas originated in America. It is a Norwegian prison guard, ironically, who reminds Moore that cruel and unusual punishment is outlawed by the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Moore zeroes in on another common thread: The governments of these countries appear to care about their citizens, and the citizens care about one another. Community trumps money and military prowess.

In one of the most moving scenes, Moore sits with the Norwegian father of a teenager who was slain during a 2011 attack on a summer camp that claimed 77 lives. There’s no death penalty in Norway, but Moore wonders if this grieving father wishes there were. No, he responds. Killing another person is not a right.

Don’t Blame Just Trump for all the Blossoming Bigotry

Am I being Hyperbolic? Am I being opinionated? I plan to steer clear of that.

Kris Kobach thinks being black is a get-out-of-jail-free card while Obama is president

I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Bigotry is all around me
And so the feeling growsKris Kobach is Secretary of State of Kansas, and as such he is a Pillar of the Stupidparty. He is also considered one of the driving forces behind ALEC written legislation. His demeanor in consoling a caller who implies laws may be suspended for African Americans continues the race baiting policies that have epitomized his time in Kansas.Somewhere over the rainbow
lies are none too few
And the hate that you fear is our fate
Really is coming true

By Patrick Andendall   http://buff.ly/1cmJzIL

http://stupidpartymathvmyth.com/1/post/2015/12/banning-muslims-25-questions-and-comments-pitch-fork-mob.htmlQuestions and comments for Stupidparty...first question: Why do you exist?


“I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.”

NRA Wayne Pierre thinks there should only be ONE Token Minority President

The NRA is a pillar of the Stupidparty. While most NRA members are open to sensible conversation, they are largely unaware of the fact that the NRA is not a democracy. Little do these members know that they are in fact treated like sheep, oblivious that their views are barely relevant since the NRA agenda is effectively driven by the nine-person nominating committee, and that is how the the NRA has become such an odious organization. It has been hijacked by extremists. But of course Stupidparty disciples don’t care, and neither does the Stupidparty itself–because the NRA calls the shots. You think I’m being hyperbolic? Opinionated? We never need opinions to eviscerate the Stupidparty–the facts are simply too abundant.First let me quote the ever so Conservative Forbes magazine  “If you’re looking for a sure-fire recipe to boost gun sales, there’s nothing like putting a heavy dose of paranoia (along with a large dollop of racist fear mongering) into the atmosphere to get the job done—and NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre has certainly done his part. In an op-ed published Wednesday by The Daily Caller , LaPierre twisted more than a few facts while arguing that the world is hell and attempting to navigate your way through it without a semi-automatic weapon at your side can only be perceived as sheer madness.”

Now before we get to the next statements consider the following fact:

Since Obama was elected, zero guns have been removed–there are now more guns! This in spite of ever mounting school shootings (1700% more likely than in European schools), rising incidents of fatal, obscene and racist police shooting fatalities, rising gun fatalities (France has 98% less–adjusted for population). Nothing has been done and most disturbingly of all—nothing will be done. It is as simple that. It is so simple that Stupidparty disciples remain totally clueless–and we know this because Wayne La Pierre gets roaring approval when he states the following at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention:

La Pierre told Americans (more recently) “…not to vote for someone like President Obama or Hillary Clinton–and not because of the content of their character. In a surprising turn of events, LaPierre managed to out-racist Ted Nugent and out-crazy Sarah Palin, both speakers who work hard for those distinctions during their own talks during each year’s convention.

During LaPierre’s talk, fear-mongering and hyperbole were on full display. According to LaPierre’s view, the next 650 days are “the most dangerous days in history for the Second Amendment…”

Is he insane? Nothing can happen in the next 650 days! No, he is not insane, he is a liar, and the Stupidparty base loves liars. They hate the truth and they hate the facts. Am I being hyperbolic? Absolutely not, because calling LaPierre a liar is really just a courtesy. Consider the following statement that he made:

“I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.”

This is from a man–an aging white man, who has a long history of racism. But this statement is not simply racist, it is misogynistic. How much ignorance and hate can you pack into so few words? How come this guy is a pillar of the Stupidparty–a hero the Stupidparty base?

Of course, Stupidparty is so absurd that they fail to recognize that this bigoted statement applies to about 75% of the US population.

Donald Trump is a pillar of the Stupidparty. He may well initiate a Presidential Campaign. If he ran he would probably secure about 45-47% of the national vote. I have been told (hearsay) that when Donald Trump enters a room full of high society types, charity functions etc., that no one wants anything to do with him. He is universally loathed by people who sort of know how the game is played. I wonder why? Let’s start with the recent Ebola scare:


Donald Trump thinks Ebola volunteers should not be allowed re-entry into the U.S.

Seven Pillars of Stupidparty Hate as captured by Vintage Lawrence

A Stupidparty mind would not recognize how loathsome and stupid that statement was. How the hell does he (and his support group) think Ebola spreads, and how do they think Ebola is contained? Ebola spreads by fear and panic, it spreads by believing in myth–cultural or religious claptrap. Yes, it’s is scary and fairly contagious, but the bigger the threat the more you need to follow the advice of public health experts–of scientists.Am I being Hyperbolic? Am I being opinionated? No–get a grip and ask the following questions

a) how was Ebola contained and

b) how was the USA protected from a significant outbreak?

It was contained by experts going to the source, putting their lives at risk and treating and educating the impacted populations. A dear friend and wonderful young lady went to Guinea to be part of that effort–you can find out about her experiences here, here and here.

If you are even remotely familiar with the facts, you would understand how vile the above tweet was. The two American missionaries Trump was tweeting about would probably have died. If brave caring people were not prepared to go to “far away places”, maybe millions would have died in Africa alone. If all of America thought like Trump and his fans, maybe millions of Americans would have died.

Hateful, ignorant, tribal bigotry costs lives. How does he think diseases spread—how does he think civil strife, tribal genocide and wars occur? While Trump was propagating hate, my friend in Guinea was having dinner in some dive in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, with a couple of co workers. One of them received a call. This turned out to be a call from President Obama, thanking that person for the what they were doing. They were not even Americans, but Obama was offering support and encouragement to the people on the front lines.–the same people that Trump would leave to die if they got sick.


Will Birthers vote for Canadian born Cruz?

But Trump’s bigotry and buffoonery do not stop there. Donald Trump is a “birther”, and birthers are people who choose to believe Obama was born in Kenya. Birthers are either ignorant or racist. In Trumps case we can rule out the former because Trump has the resources to understand the facts. Trump had the resources to send investigators to Hawaii. But he never cared about the facts.
How do I know?
Well what the media has failed to dwell on is that Trump revealed his true colors during a CNN interview with Suzanne Malveau, when Trump cited a (mis) quote from the president’s grandmother that said Obama was born in Kenya. In fact, the recording to which he refers shows Sarah Obama repeatedly saying through a translator, “He was born in America.” You can listen to the actual tape yourself—something that this sorry excuse for a . . . (controlling myself) . . . clearly refused to do. CNN pointed out that they had the actual tape, with the correct translation. Donald Trump refused to listen, had zero interest in the facts, and just plowed on spewing his bile. But Stupidparty Disciples don’t care.

Trump angry because a Mexican won an Oscar

Now to be fair some very objective observers will argue that Trump is not so much of racist as he is a Jackass.
Nobody in their right mind could deny the latter.

Perhaps in a different context, I could give him some benefit of the doubt. But the problem is that 51% of the Stupidparty base are “Birthers” and they are not all narcissistic jackass’s but they are either ignorant or racist (or both). So if Donald trump is merely a jackass, he is willfully inflaming racism. Personally, I struggle to see the difference. But there is more. A racist might look at high rates of crime in the Black community and conclude that by being Black you are likely to be a criminal. A non-racist might look at the same numbers and see a socioeconomic problem. The problem with former approach is that it not only creates an intellectual dead-end to an evident problem, but by marginalizing a minority with the use of inflammatory language, the problem will not only be self-perpetuating, but will continue to get worse. Trump is also guilty of this latter approach.Donald Trump gets quite agitated when a Mexican director wins Best Movie at the 2015 Oscars. No such agitation has been apparent when White foreigners have walked away with such honors countless times. What is it about Trump and Mexicans? Announcing his Presidential campaign, in what must have been a carefully crafted speech, we see not Trump the Statesman but Trump the “Hatesman”:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“And some I assume are good people,” he added.

Donald TrumpWhat is up with Trump's apparent racism? said he would force the people of Mexico to build his vowed border wall to keep immigrants out of the United States, warning that if his order was not fulfilled, he would do something “severe.”

When asked how he might force the country to build this wall, Trump said in an interview that aired on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, “you force them because we give them a fortune. Mexico makes a fortune because of us. A wall is a tiny little peanut compared to that. I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall.”

The 2016 presidential candidate added, “I’d build it. I’d build it very nicely. I’m very good at building things.

Trump has since been fired by NBC, but the Stupidparty base are not deterred because they have been stirred, Trump’s poll ratings have surged as the slaughter of basic decency has occurred.

For that is Stupidparty.

51% of Stupidparty Disciples Are “birthers.”
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49554.html

If we were in the period of Christ’s life, a time when deities were a dime a dozen, the Roman Emperor Caligula Trump would not only demand to be worshiped as a god but he would truly believe that he was a god. The only difference being that Donald Trump does not have the excuse of having drunk water through lead-laden pipes. Here’s the thing, Donald Trump loves himself so much–an aging white dishonest entitled wealthy narcissistic—that by comparison he can only hate the opposite.

Donald Trump is a racist.


Joni Ernst is a pillar of the Stupidparty

Joni Ernst is a pillar of the Stupidparty, as one of the best and brightest Stupidparty shooting stars (I call them shooting stars because their shine can never outlast the light of day), she was chosen to give the Stupidparty rebuttal to the Obama 2015 State of the Union speech. As an aside, I have already written about each of these “responders” since Obama became President and demonstrated how rotten to the the core all but one are. But our women Joni is something special as she tries to turn Jesus Christ into a hateful bigot. Evidently Jesus would not want people to get healthcare. According to Joni Ernst, Jesus had contempt for the poor. Us “liberals” want you to believe that Jesus was a caring individual. If you are remotely confused about who Jesus was–if you even suspect Jesus of being a bigot, of being a Misogynist, of disliking foreigners of liking guns etc etc, I have put all that into perspective. So what type of person would proactively try and turn a good man into a toad? Well, that would be a hateful person with a long list of perverted notions.

How bad are the views of Joni Ernst:

Puzzle–Find a single value that can be identified with Jesus.

  1. She supports a “personhood” amendment that could make all abortions illegal and endanger birth control and in-vitro fertilization.
  2. She has called for President Barack Obama’s impeachment.
  3. She thinks states should be free to nullify federal laws.
  4. She has vowed to vote for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
  5. Ernst has proposed eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency as a means of cutting federal spending.
  6. Ernst has expressed her support for allowing law-abiding citizens to “freely carry” weapons
  7. She carries a “beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter,” in her purse in part to protect her “from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
  8. She buys into the conspiracy theory that the United Nations’ “Agenda 21” is a secret plan to usurp democracy.
  9. She suggested that an international cabal would relocate her constituents to Des Moines.
  10. She told the Des Moines Register editorial board in May that the United States really did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
  11. She would support legislation that would allow “local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement” Obamacare.
  12. She has spoken in favor of privatizing Social Security and waxed nostalgic about the time, before food stamps, when “wonderful food pantries” took care of the poor.
  13. She is opposed to a federal minimum wage and has said that $7.25 an hour suffices for Iowans.
  14. On the subject of global warming, Ernst has stated: “I don’t know the science behind climate change  (this is Koch code designed to hinder any actions on the issue).
  15. She co-sponsored a failed bill to amend the Iowa constitution to have marriage legally defined as between one man and one woman.[23][87] She opposes same-sex marriage.[88]
  16. She had been active with one of the most nefarious groups in the USA–the highly secretive and Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. Understanding how utterly repulsive ALEC – is a vital responsibility for every Citizen that is remotely interested in salvaging their emaciated Democracy.
  17. Despite her clear history of close association with the Koch brothers, Joni Ernst claims she doesn’t have any contact with outside groups running ads in her race.
  18. She is Koch puppet–(The Hill). The Koch’s took a “particular interest in helping her campaign.” Ernst was the first candidate in an open 2014 Senate race to benefit from “maxed out” personal contributions by the Koch’s. And Koch-backed groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Freedom Partners Action Fund poured millions of dollars into Iowa, where Ernst enjoyed a $14 million outside-spending advantage over Braley.
  19. Koch Puppet: Last June, Ernst told attendees at a secret Koch donor summit in Dana Point, California that, although she started as “a little-known state senator from a very rural part of Iowa,” it was “the exposure to this group and to this network and the opportunity to meet so many of you, that really started my trajectory.”
  20. Ernst told business leaders in Des Moines complaining about negative ads run Koch groups “that she doesn’t  have any contact with outside groups running ads in her race” This is a lie— listen to the below audio.
  21. The report pointed out that Ernst frequently reminded voters and now constituents of her combat veteran status, and she has not corrected others when they suggest she led troops into battle. Ernst did not lead her troops into combat as one of the ads supporting her claims. Her troops were not combat personnel, and their mission was not combat. Essentially, she was in charge of a group of truck drivers. I am sure that the mission of supply delivery had many potential hazards, but driving trucks from one secure area to another secure area is not combat even if personnel were armed with M-16s.

Throughout the world–far right parties have a reputation for being antisemitic. How does a far right party suddenly fall in love with Israel?“An upcoming Republican National Committee trip to Israel is being fully funded by a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an American civil rights organization.

The trip, which will take 60 RNC members to Israel for nine days beginning Saturday, is being paid for by a subsidiary of the American Family Association, which the law center  in a news release last week called a “hate group” known for its “extremism and its demonizing attacks on minorities.”

Jewish and Arab children want peace-David Avocado Wolfe

The 47 Senators who are the literal Pillars of the Stupidparty. Does it not strike you as odd that suddenly the Stupidparty is showing an unadulterated love for Israel? What other far right (hate) Group on the planet loves Israel? Do you really believe that Sarah Palin’s church in Alaska was never antisemitic, that evangelicals who all believe that Jews are going to hell (who blame Jews for the Crucifixion of Jesus), do you really believe that, suddenly, none of these people are antisemitic?The Stupidparty has only one Jew in the whole of congress. Back in 2014 they also only had one, Eric Cantor, and he pretty much admitted that his party had an antisemitic problem. The National Jewish Democratic Council released a statement on Cantor’s remarks: “It’s both admirable and disturbing in the extreme to hear Majority Leader Cantor’s candid remarks regarding the dual challenges of racism and antisemitism that he has detected in the House GOP caucus.”

So what is really going on? Actually, nothing but hatred is going on. You think I’m being hyperbolic? You think I’m being opinionated. Really?

Well, get a grip.

Now just look at the above photo through the eyes of a Stupidparty Disciple. First, they will see that Arab kid and this will rekindle all that Muslim profiling, the Iraq-attacked-us-on-9/11 nonsense, fear of those insane cowardly terrorists. Then they look at the Jewish kid and they think, well that kid is doomed to hell, but the Jews have done a pretty good job of containing /killing Arabs, and the second coming of Jesus will be in the Middle East. Arabs are worse than Jews—so keep the area cleansed of Arabs…

But this is only half the story.

One must also consider the Stupidparty disciple hatred of Obama–therefore anything he does must be wrong. Obama, like every other foreign leader, is simply trying to nudge Israel into complying with International law. But Obama must wrong because

a) he is Obama and

b) he talks to foreigners (forgetting that Netanyahu is a foreigner), because hate has no logic.

But there is one more big piece to the story. Jewish money is having a huge impact on the Stupidparty. Just one Billionaire Zealot Sheldon Adelson (advocates using nukes on Arabs) pretty much single-handedly financed the Newt Gingrich 2012 Presidential effort (Gingrich immediately starts Parroting the views of Netanyahu), once that campaign hit the rocks Abelson was happy to provide unlimited funds to Mitt Romney (Romney immediately starts Parroting the views of Netanyahu). As it was Romney was such a flawed candidate that Adelson held back from contributing much more than around $100m. But all that is now just the tip of the Iceberg.

How did the leader of the Traitorous 47, Tom Cotton, get elected? Yes, it was $1,000,000 from “the emergency committee for Israel”* – plus other such contributions. *The Emergency Committee for Israel is a right-wing[1] 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization in the United States.[2] The group’s board members include Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, and conservative writer Rachel Abrams,[2] wife of Elliott Abrams.[3] Noah Pollak is its executive director.[2]

This organization also accused the Occupy Wall Street movement of being anti Semitic, which (if one has knowledge of the mechanics of the that protest group) is just infantile.

It is not just Adelson who is trying to buy up American Democracy and put it into lap of a foreign Government. Other Jewish Billionaires such as Paul Singer, Seth Klarman are upping the ante, big time.


Why would an antisemitic party bend over backwards to behave in a Traitorous fashion?

Antisemitic Republicans behave like traitors

Salon and the New York Times reports: Donors say the trend toward Republicans among wealthy, hawkish contributors is at least partly responsible for inspiring stronger support for Israel among party lawmakers who already had pro-Israel views.”Giving Netanyahu the floor of the U.S. Congress to criticize a standing president, writing letters to Iranian statesmen doing the same, and now partnering with Israel to further what Netanyahu sees as its interests, and placing those interests before those of the United States indicates a radical appropriation of the political process.

Now one could conceivably see these actions as emanating from sincere belief, but given the huge dollars flowing into the coffers of those who tow the Netanyahu line, one can more logically see these actions as motivated by things other than love of Israel. Indeed, that same New York Times article quotes Geoffrey Kabaservice, a Republican Party historian: “’Israel did not traditionally represent that kind of emotional focus for any element of the Republican Party,’ he said. ‘But the feeling now is that it is a winning issue, as it helps them to appear strong on foreign policy.’”  That, and collect bundles of cash.

So the antisemitic party, boasting just one Jew (a New Yorker) in Congress (compared to 28 Democrats) is happy to promote war in return for tons of money and all the political advantages of exciting it’s bigot base by disrespecting a Black-American President. Their hatred runs so deep and taps such a lucrative vein of electoral gold that they not only had contempt for the Logan act, but almost certainly worked with Netanyahu’s secret intelligence to undermine US foreign policy. This is not legal, but investigating such charges and putting 47 Senators into jail is not a task for a Black President. For example, if Obama had actually succeeded in removing one gun from one dyed in the wool moron, he may have invoked a civil uprising motivated by seeking a good ol’fashioned lynching. So imagine the likelihood of seeking justice for the 47 traitorous Senators.

Just for the record, the reasons why trying to undercut outreach to Iran is totally unacceptable, are explained here.

Other forms of hate:Any one one who is capable of critical thinking would not understand that the problems surrounding Ferguson— are rooted in a long history of racial antagony. This history is explained here.

Only 22% percent of SP  disciples believe Ferguson raises important racial questions.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/215413-ferguson-divides-public-along-racial-party-lines

Similarities to the way the peoples of Ferguson and Palestine are treated is explored here.

I have analyzed the Stupidparty’s and the far right affinity for domestic terrorism here.

Confederate bigotry is discussed here.

The reason for institutionalized misogyny within the Stupidparty is explained here.

The motivations of the four Stupidparty disciples looking to destroy Obamacare can only be explained by blind hatred—explained here.

Why does Stupidparty hate Science – explained here and here.

The racial motivations behind Voter suppression are explained here.

Supremely Stupidparty John Robert’s infantile notions about race are explored here.
.
I let the Pope explain why it is not OK to rape and pillage the planet here.

Indicators of rife bigotry in the Stupidparty base

1)      49% Believe Acorn stole 2012 election. PPP 2012 (BTW, with no funding, Acorn dissolved in 2010).          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/04/acorn-republican-voters_n_2239298.html

2)       51% Are “birthers.”

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49554.html

3)       57% Believe Obama is a Muslim.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/03/22/scary-new-gop-poll.html

4)       66% Believe Obama is a socialist.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/03/22/scary-new-gop-poll.html

5)       24% Believe he may be the Antichrist.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/americans-believe-obama-anti-christ-global-warming-hoax_n_3008558.html

6)     62% In Ohio (not the silliest state) do not know whether Mitt deserved equal or more credit than Obama for Bin Laden’s death.
http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2011/PPP_Release_OH_9912.pdf

7)     Only 22% percent of SP  disciples believe Ferguson raises important racial questions.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/215413-ferguson-divides-public-along-racial-party-lines

8)     68% of Stupidparty voters believe the President should impeached for????* see below diagram for various reasons.

https://today.yougov.com/news/2014/07/14/one-third-americans-want-impeach-obama/

9)     Only 11% of SP disciples believe Obama loves America. This is a reaction to Giuliani’s sad statements and pitiful record regarding his own “family values”—a man who has many lessons to learn from Obama in that regard.

https://today.yougov.com/news/2015/02/24/obama-patriotism/

10)   62% of SP disciples believe Obama is secretly trying to take away every ones guns.

11)   44% of SP disciples believe that Obama is secretly trying to figure out a way to stay in office beyond 2017.

Have I missed a Pillar of the Stupidparty? Maybe Fox News or its sister in crime Hate Radio?

Stupidparty Math v. Myth
So has one of our parties become a hate GrOuP? Have I been Hyperbolic? Have I been opinionated?
If so where?

Are any of my statistics, case studies erroneous in any way? If you do vote for the Stupidparty, do you really feel comfortable with the company you keep? How are you conducting yourself to get the hate genie back in the bottle? Or are you enabling hatred? Is it time get off that bandwagon?Since I avoid opinions–I must leave the answer to this question up to you, the very patient and curious reader. By coming to your own decision, it becomes your responsibility.

Trump, the Specter of Political Violence, & Lessons From the Roman Republic (Or, We Have a Problem America!)

Trump’s flirtatious waltz with hints and threats of political violence cannot be ignored and should not be underestimated.

Apart from echoing some of America’s own worst episodes in the South after the Civil War, such dangerous dancing brings to mind the lessons of the ancient Roman Republic, and how, after centuries of peaceful politics and peaceful transitions of power, one horrible incident of political violence begat many others in subsequent decades, culminating in civil war and the death of Rome’s democratic Republic; the Roman Republic far outlasted America’s republic (so far) even before that violence began, so anyone who thinks the United States is immune from a similar fate is suffering from a hubris that ignores history and human nature and the terrible consequences of precedent-shattering political violence.

By Brian E. Frydenborg (LinkedInFacebookTwitter @bfry1981)  Author‎, International Affairs/Development/Public Policy Professional, Freelance Writer/Journalist/Consultant/Historian

Trump flirts dangerously with violent responses to personal opposition.

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

 

Trump rallies promote violence, but not overtly.

Silvestre David Mirys (1742-1810) – Figures de l’histoire de la république romaine accompagnées d’un précis historique Plate 127: Gaius Gracchus, tribune of the people, presiding over the Plebeian Council

AMMAN — We have already had people being punched at Trump rallies, clashes with police, a mini-riot by Bernie Sanders fans inside a Democratic state convention in Nevada and that Bernie Sanders himself all but seemed to fully excuse at the time, and now, a firebombing of a Republican HQ in a county in North Carolina.

Trump Fanning Flames of Unrest

In the midst of all this Trump has convinced many of his supporters that there is a global top-to-bottom conspiracy to cheat him of the election and that this election—which is only just beginning—is already rigged against him and, by extension, his supporters (never mind how astronomically impossible that such a rigging as he describes it would actually be happening). In fact, he has been so successful at this that almost 70% of Republicans believe Clinton can only win by cheating and half of Republicans would refuse to accept her as president. At the final debate, he even raised serious doubts about whether he would accept the resultsof the election, putting in jeopardy an unbroken tradition going back to George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson in 1796-1797 of a peaceful transfer of power between presidents and the loser accepting the outcome, even in hotly disputed or controversial elections like those in 1800, 1824, 1876, 1888, 1960, and 2000. The day after the debate, he doubled down on this rhetoric and failed to alleviate the concerns he had raised the previous night, joking(?)/stating(?) that he would accept the election results “if I win.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, Trump has been saying that there is a need for volunteers to “watch” polling places to make sure there is no “voter fraud” and is encouraging his partisan supporters to undertake this task that is supposed to be bi-partisan and non-partisan, and he and his surrogates are specifically suggesting monitoring of certain urban (code word for heavily-black) areas. In places like Texas and Florida, over 80% of Republicans think that voter fraud is a major problem, with zero evidence to support this but ample rhetoric from Team Trump and the GOP trumping reality yet again with their misinformation and disinformation.

Yes, angry, white, possibly-well-armed Trump supporters—people who number in the tens of millions, who are passionately convinced Trump is right and should be president, who are now talking of assassination, revolution, and coups should Hillary be elected—are already talking about descending upon minority-heavy polling areas on Election Day in an effort to make sure such shifty (in their view) minorities, prone to election malfeasance (in their view), don’t try anything funny; and yes, many of these people own guns and will show up openly armed because in many locations they will be allowed to do so, and yes, out of Trump’s tens of millions of devotees, we can certainly expect many thousands to show up as he has asked them to, and to show up in this manner, at polling places on November 8th, something that will more likely than not lead to trouble, especially in America’s increasingly racially tense atmosphere. For those who don’t know their history, this was how white Southerners intimidated and usually prevented freed slaves and African-Americans from voting, from Reconstruction all the way through the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Never mind that Republican and Democratic officials at all levels, including local election officials from both parties, have dismissed as absurd the idea that the election is rigged or that any local polling places are going to be compromised or part of a voter fraud scheme. Never mind that voter fraud is practically nonexistent and that campaigns claiming to want to deal with voter fraud are more about denying minorities the ability to vote than anything else (for actual voter fraud on a staggering scale, see Vladimir Putin’s Russia).

Unfortunately, this election is a moment of terror, and for many Latinos, Muslims, African-Americans, and others, it must on a personal level be a terror that far exceeds any emotions I have on the issue as a white male. I am not sure if state and local authorities are up to the challenge, are aware of what could really happen in a realistic worst-case scenario here: thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, maybe more, of Trump supporters, many who could be armed, are going to be seeking to either harass and intimidate people they falsely believe, with no evidence, are committing voter fraud—picking people out by skin color almost certainly—or maybe even just be flat-out seeking to disrupt voting in liberal precincts in an effort to suppress minority votes (again, nothing new in American history and something that has happened in living memory). Violence, riots, voter disenfranchisement—all are in the realm of realistic possibility on Election Day now. We have already recently seen what crowds and individuals can do when animated by racial animus, crowds on different sides of the debate, from crowds of mainly angry black citizens to crowds of paranoid police in a cycle that seems to have been reignited since Ferguson after decades of near dormancy.

I am not being hyperbolic. I am not being paranoid. And Donald Trump’s rhetoric to millions of his supporters (that the election is being stolen from them and that they need to go “watch” polling places) is not abating or going away; nothing inherent in American society makes it immune to internal violence or breakdowns of law and order. This is the reality mere weeks before Election Day, and I hope federal, state and local law enforcement are planning accordingly; some are aware of these dire possibilities, but whether they are given the resources to deal with this possibility, or if their plans are competent, remains to be seen.

Trumps smile says nothing trustworthy... or even happy.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Lesson’s From Ancient Roman Politics

Is this a Rubicon moment for America?

What is America heading for with Trump driving?

HBO/Rome

Not really a Rubicon moment, but more of a Gracchi moment.

By a Rubicon moment, I am using a colloquialism of a point-of-no-return when a drastic action is taken. This word Rubicon in this case refers to the moment in 49 B.C., when Julius Caesar crossed south over the Rubicon River with his army, a river which marked the boundary between a province where his army was authorized to operate and Roman Italy proper where it was not after the Senate left him a choice between what would have been an unjust prosecution at the hands of his political rivals on one hand and starting a civil war (only the second since the founding of the Roman Republic in 509. B.C.E. but also the Republic’s last, the Republic itself not surviving this final round) on the other. But the Roman Civil War that began in 49 B.C.E. was merely the culmination of a number of awful trends that started in 133. B.C.

We are clearly not at a Rubicon moment in America, the second most successful republic in history after Rome’s ancient one.

But, still terrifyingly, we may be approaching a 133 moment: the snowball which starts an avalanche.

What happened in 133? After the Romans version of the Revolutionary War that overthrew the rule of kings in 509. B.C.E., apart from some minor incidents early in Rome’s history as a Republic that are more legendary than anything certain, Rome essentially had three-and-a-half centuries worth of relatively stable, democratic republican government; political violence was a minimum or nonexistent, and nothing like an officially directed assassination, civil war, or use of the military to settle internal political disputes ever occurred. Sure, its democratic qualities evolved over time and like even modern democracies there were factors that favored elites, much like in the United States, which did not even begin with allowing all white adult men to vote, let alone blacks or women. In fact, some states in America did not even have popular votes in the first presidential election, during which all had property-owning requirements for voting for president if there were popular votes at all, requirements that were only gradually abolished in the coming decades, starting with New Hampshire in 1792, though a greater degree of democracy was practiced at the state and local levels. Still, it was not until 1856 that all white male citizens in America were finally able to vote regardless of property ownership, and that was only 14 years before freed slaves and all adult males were given the right to vote with the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1870.

By 133 B.C.E., common Romans had long had an important role in selection of the Republic’s senior magistrates, and, in particular, there was one office that from Rome’s earliest days was created to be a sacred, inviolable protector of the people: the tribunate. The tribunes of the plebs (short for plebeians, the members of the lower class) were elected each year and could prosecute any other government official for abuse of power, as well as veto any government act, and introduce legislation of their own accord and even bypass the Roman Senate and go directly to the people’s assemblies to pass their programs, even though this was against unofficial custom. The most powerful political officeholders were the two annually elected chief executives, the consuls (think of America having to co-equal presidents elected every year), who presided over the Senate and had more power than any other elected officials. These two offices are important to understand when looking at the events from 133 on, and the below chart I created gives a good idea of how the Roman government operated:

Let us look at the simplicity of the Roman Republic.

It is also important to understand the seismic changes going on in Roman society at this period in its history. After well over a century of on-and-off-again conflict, Rome had finally succeeded in literally wiping its greatest rival Carthage off the map in 146 B.C.E., a Carthage that was just a shadow of its former self long before that final last gasp. As a result of Rome’s successful wars, a huge influx of slaves into Roman lands meant that many small freeholding farmers were put out of business as wealthy elites created huge estates run by slave labor and greedily gobbled up the land of small farmers. Rome had gone from a primarily small-farming Republic to an overseas empire dominated by large slave-owning landowners. Roman cities swelled with newly landless urban poor, many of them veterans and their descendants, veterans who had been unable to maintain their family farms fighting for years at a time in long, overseas wars; Rome’s elites were clearly leaving the concerns of the poor masses unattended.

While Carthage and others were a threat, the different classes of Roman society were forced to work together in a spirit of pragmatism to fend off so many existential foes (this is similar to the moderation and bipartisanship exhibited in American politics during its Cold War with the Soviet Union). But a new political culture of selfishness, greed, and ambition, each rising to new heights, was emerging in Rome with the destruction of Carthage. There was just so much unprecedented power to be had that the stakes of and how far people were willing to go in politics had reached new levels; competition became much stiffer as a few of the most powerful elite families were drowning out the other lower aristocrats. Corruption grew by leaps and bounds as a result, and the tradition of the abstemious, stoic, small farmer ideal had become just that, that ideal further from being a reality than at any time in Roman history and that gap only about to get worse. In fact, it got so bad that the governing Romans began to be worried that the military was going to lose its base of recruitment, at that point limited to landowners. And decades later in the first century B.C.E., the interests of large multinational corporations called publicani helped to put so much money into the political system that Roman senators could not be trusted to fight for the people over their own and publicani pocketbooks.

Even at the time, many contemporary Romans of the first century B.C.E. were aware that the post-Carthage culture of Roman elites of greed, corruption, ambition, scorched-earth politics, and extreme partisanship bieing placed over both the common good and a spirit of compromise; this new culture was at the heart of the disease which led to the death of the Republic (nominally in 27 B.C.E. but really in 49 B.C.E.); in the words of the ancient Roman historian Sallust, it was peacetime, not war, which undid Rome:

“Fear of a foreign enemy preserved good political practices. But when that fear was no longer on their minds, and arrogance, attitudes that prosperity took over. the tranquility they had longed for in difficult times proved, when they got it, to be more cruel and bitter than adversity. For the aristocracy twisted their ‘dignity’ and the people twisted ‘liberty’ towards their desires; every man acted on his own behalf, stealing, robbing, plundering. In this all political life was torn apart between two parties, and the Republic, which had been our common ground, was mutilated…self-indulgence and arrogance, attitudes that prosperity loves, took over. As a result the tranquility they had longed for in difficult times proved, when they got it, to be more cruel and bitter than adversity. For the aristocracy twisted their ‘dignity’ and the people twisted ‘liberty’ towards their desires; every man acted on his own behalf, stealing, robbing, plundering. In this way all political life was torn apart between two parties, and the Republic, which had been our common ground, was mutilated…

And so, joined with power, greed without moderation or measure invaded, polluted, and devastated everything, considered nothing valuable or sacred, until it brought about its own collapse.” (The Jurgurthine War 41.1-10)

To place Rome’s rapid rise in perspective, consider that by 133, Rome had gone in living memory from surviving multiple existential threats from Carthaginians, Gauls, and Greeks, had gone from just controlling Italy, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, and some of Spain’s east coast to dominating nearly the entire Mediterranean either directly or indirectly; specifically, 133 was year of remarkable fortune for Rome: the late King of Pergamum—a wealthy Greek kingdom in what is now Turkey un western Asian Turkey—had actually willed his entire domain to the Roman Republic, and it passed to Rome upon his death in 133. Rome had already grown dramatically in size, wealth, and power, adding most of northern Italy, all of Greece, most of Spain, most of Southern France, and much of Carthage’s old African holdings to its domains. But Rome’s Western territories were far less developed than the older, fabulously wealthy cities and kingdoms of the East. The addition of the Asian Kingdom of Pergamum to the Republic’s empire had Roman businessman salivating as the prospect of the profits from the riches of doing business in the Asian east.

The Gracchi and Rome’s Descent Into Political Violence

The Gracchi

Jean-Baptiste Claude Eugène Guillaume- The Gracchi

The year this remarkable gift to Rome came about, one of the tribunes of the plebs that had won the election for that year of 133 was an ambitious but high-minded would-be reformer: Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, hailing from two very famous and elite Roman bloodlines. A champion of the masses, the Greco-Roman historian Plutarch has Gracchus giving a passionate speech in which he lamented that while the

“wild beasts of Italy have their dens and holes to lurk in…the men who fight and die for our country enjoy the common air and light and nothing else…The truth is that they fight and die to protect the wealth and luxury of others. They are called the masters of the world, but they do not possess a single clod of earth which is truly their own” (Plutarch Tiberius Gracchus 9).

And this was the center of his program: doing something about the wealthy’s assault on the small farm landowners who were disappearing as a class. But Gracchus was hardly looking to liquidate the rich: his proposal was to use a preexisting law that had been on the books for centuries that had long been unenforced, one which limited the amount of public land that any one individual could own. That limit was still quite large, but far less than what the ultra-wealthy had accumulated in the years of Rome’s great expansions, during which many Romans elites had used fake names to accumulate more than the legal limit. The excess land would be handed over to the poor, but in return for accepting this legal limit, all the legal-sized holdings would be formally recognized as legitimate and each son of these landowners would be given a portion of land equal to half the maximum size.

As would be expected, though, these wealthy landowners dominated the Senate, and they refused to go along with this compromise scheme even though the problems of ultra-concentration of land and wealth and the rapid rise of landless poor were all at a crises points.

Thus Gracchus, as was his legal-but-frowned-upon-and-untraditional right, called an assembly of the people and got his bill passed with the people’s enthusiastic approval. Equally as uncommon were for senatorial elites to orchestrate a veto of such a popular measure, but that the Senate did, co-opting one of the other nine Tribunes to veto Gracchus’ bill. Quite dramatically, Gracchus convened another assembly and had the people vote that tribune out of office: this dramatic move was extremely unprecedented but was very likely still legal. The elites opposed to Gracchus were shocked at this move, and began a public relations campaign suggesting the Gracchus was out to make himself a king—just as offensive a suggestion to Roman sensibilities then as it would be to Americans today—and a portrayal Gracchus played into when he appointed himself and two of his relatives as the three-person commission to oversee the land reform. The Senate’s response to this was to refuse to allocate funding for Gracchus’s commission (if this sounds familiar to current U.S. politics on anything from Obamacare to the Zika virus, it should). In turn, Gracchus moved to get funding from future revenue from newly bestowed Pergamese lands in Asia, stepping into both financial and foreign affairs, policy spheres traditionally run by the Senate.

In pursuing his land reform and in its efforts to stop him at any cost, both Gracchus and the Senate were showing a willingness to discard centuries of compromise and precedent that had served Rome well, though Gracchus could at least in part be said to be acting on behalf of a Roman people and Republic in desperate need of land reform while the primary concern of the senatorial class was preserving their own power and obscene wealth.

Against such odds, Gracchus did something no Roman as a tribune had ever done before: he made it clear he would stand for election again to serve a consecutive second term as a tribune, signaling to the Senate that it could not just stall in the hopes of outlasting him or hope to simply overturn his legislation when he was gone. A group of Senators, in part feeling this was a major step towards Gracchus moving to make himself king, and obviously acting to preserve their own power and wealth, marched on an assembly of the people where Gracchus was present and beat him, and hundreds of his supporters, to death; afterwards, other supporters of his were executed, imprisoned, or exiled without trial.

*****

This was a terrible turn for Rome: for hundreds of years and not since the earliest days of the Republic had anything even remotely like this happened, and even then nothing remotely this bad: tribunes were as a matter of religion sacrosanct and inviolable; to try to harm one was considered a terrible sacrilege. Elites, even members of the Senate, had resorted to settling a political dispute with mass murder, killing a major elected office-holder. And from this point, Rome’s politics would be driven by two main parties: the optimates—self-dubbed “best-men” who were the conservative leaders of the aristocracy and the Senate and generally acted against reform or anything that would reduce their wealth and power—and populares—bold men from within the aristocracy who were willing to challenge the optimates, drawing support from the people with populist programs aimed helping the masses—and the conflict between the two would eventually destroy republican government in Rome altogether.

In order to prevent mass unrest, however, the Senate let much of Gracchus’ land law stand, but this was a temporary measure and the Senate stopped the reform in 129, to the dismay of not only Roman citizens; at this point, much of Italy was not so much directly controlled by Rome as by other Italians whom Rome considered allies and were not legally full Roman citizens, and it was clear to all that these Italians were the junior partners in the relationship; these Italians had not been consulted on the ending of the reform, to their consternation. This provided an opportunity for the murdered Gracchus’ younger brother, Gaius, who, it seems, sought to gain their support when they were shut out of the decision-making process by the Senate, apparently by supporting a bid to make many of them full Roman citizens.

But when Gaius sought and won a tribunate for the year 123, this was only one of his many aims; he also ran for and won the tribunate for the next year, 122, without the cataclysmic reaction suffered by his brother for attempting the same thing.

If Tiberius could be thought of as something of a Bernie Sanders of ancient Rome, then Gaius was going to take more of a Hillary Clinton-like approach, trying to build a broad coalition designed to appeal to many swaths of society instead of a more narrow populist program and to make it harder for the optimatesto brush him aside like they did his brother.

As such, Gaius Gracchus passed a law ensuring access to grain for bread to win over the urban poor; for the poor of the countryside, he suggested creating a new colony to settle people on the site where Carthage had once stood, in Africa; for an emerging middle-class of lower aristocrats and businessmen known as equites (who ran many of the publicani), he allowed them to bid for the lucrative tax-collecting contracts in the western parts of Pergamum’s former lands, now organized as the new Roman province of Asia (taxation was not undertaken directly by the government but was a task the Roman state contracted out to private companies); to this end, rather than have the bidding take place as would normally happen in the province itself (often abused by whichever Roman governor was there), Gracchus made sure it would take place in Rome, and instead of than splitting the taxation responsibilities for the province of Asia into multiple contracts, he made it a single contract for the whole province, an appeal to the support of the upper Roman business-class since only larger corporations could handle a contract on that scale (this move would have unintended blowback as it gave rise to the obscene growth in power of the publicani that would be such a huge problem for Romans decades later).

On the legal front, he ensured capital trials could only be conducted through a law or people’s assembly, preventing the Senate from conducting trials by decree, and any senator or official who tried to bypass this restriction was subject to prosecution. He also brought equites into juries, so that the dominant portion of the pool from which judges and jurors in most civil cases were drawn were now equites over senators by a two-to-one margin; additionally, one of his allies passed a bill that made equites total replacements for senators on the juries of extortion courts that tried provincial governors and other senatorial-level officials for corruption (senators had generally avoided convicting their peers), and a permanent extortion court was established.

But in casting such a wide net, Gracchus made himself vulnerable as well; his wily Senatorial opponents used his effort to help Rome’s Italian allies against him, convincing many Romans that extending citizenship to these people would weaken the power of Roman citizens themselves, and the senators also used their individual patron-client ties with many of the non-Roman Italian to keep a good number of them from supporting Gracchus. They also preempted his attempt to win over the rural poor by having two of their own put forth bills to establish colonies. His support apparently undercut, Gaius lost an election in which he ran for a newly-unprecedented third tribunate in a row, and a fight broke out between some of his supporters and those of one of the current consuls, a consul who had bitterly opposed Gracchus and was a personal enemy of his; the fight resulted in the death of one of the consul’s supporters.

The Senate’s response to this was swift and unprecedented: it passed an emergency decree against Gracchus, authorizing the consul to do anything whatsoever to take Gracchus down: Gracchus and thousands of his followers were killed in a brief yet bloody fight and subsequent executions.

From the Gracchi to Caesar: the Cycle of Political Violence Explodes Into Civil War

Sadly, violence would come with frightening ease and regularity over the following decades.

Close to four centuries had passed in Roman history without violent episodes other than some disturbances early in Rome’s history, but after the deaths of the Gracchi brothers in 133 and 121, violence increasingly became a political tool, beginning mainly with the Senate’s optimates’ efforts to squash would-be reformers challenging their power too much for their liking, first in 100 and again in 91, both used against tribunes and the latter being used on a man pushing for citizenship for Rome’s Italian allies; the assassination of their champion sparked a rebellion by many of Rome’s Italian allies called the Social War (91-88), which was only ended by Rome’s granting of most of them the citizenship they had wanted to achieve through peaceful means. But an actual civil war between roman military units fighting for supporters of one generally popularis consul (Gaius Marius) against the forces and supporters of another optimas consul (Lucious Cornelius Sulla)—Rome’s first civil war in over four centuries of republican government (consider it took the United States only 85 years before it had its Civil War from 1861-186.5)—broke out the same year (along with a major overseas conflict in Greece and Asia). The period of conflict between supporters of Marius and Sulla would not finally end until 72 (and that foreign war not ending until 63).

But no rest for the weary: one ambitious popularis tried to overthrow the Republic after losing an election in 61, and he and his makeshift army were annihilated in 62. As the 50s unfolded, the tension was constant and bouts of mob violence frequent, while the many pressing problems facing the Republic were left unaddressed by obstinate optimates who showed a total disregard for the Roman people. (Gaius) Julius Caesar would be their champion as a popularis, but his foes in the Senate would never forgive him; with a veteran army after his victorious war in Gaul, the Senate issued its emergency decree again in 49, basically authorizing tCaesar’s death because he would not step down from office; but this was after intense behind the scenes maneuvering in which Caesar’s supporters tried to negotiate a way for him to take up a new office when his term as consul expired, without which Cesar would be out of office and therefore open to legal prosecution, which his enemies were certainly planning for him. Essentially, they were daring Caesar to start a civil war or accept disgrace and prosecution and who-knows-what-punishment, in addition to an untenable political situation for the Republic and its citizens.

Caesar chose civil war.

By the time the wars which grew out of the civil war beginning in 49 ended nearly twenty years later in 30 with Caesar’s nephew Octavian defeating Mark Antony and Cleopatra, Rome’s people were so exhausted by war that they didn’t mind that Octavian set up a dictatorship masquerading as a republic, and thus the Roman emperorship was born. There would not be another large-scale democracy or democratic republic with as much participation by the people until the United States of America grew to be a major power roughly 1,800 years later.

America’s Own Problems With Political Violence: Civil War to Civil Rights

That time would roughly coincide with America’s Civil War. The war itself did not really end in 1865: during Reconstruction, the federal government with its army acting as an occupying force put into place new state governments in the Southern states that had rebelled that enforced racial political and legal equality for freed slaves, but over the course of the next decade and then some, extremist terrorist white supremacists carried out insurgencies and violently overthrewalmost all these governments, putting in place racist governments highly oppressive and violent to black Americans that lasted until the 1960s; southern whites finally negotiated the withdrawal of federal troops left in the only remaining states southern white insurgents had not violently taken over after the disputed election of 1876, an election, like so many others between 1865-1876, marred in the South by widespread violence, fraud, and voter suppression.

America is fortunate that apart from riots and strikes, many of them race-based, there has been very few period of civil unrest since the 1870s, the main exceptions being the sporadic taming of the “Wild West” and later the Civil Rights Era’s 1960s and early 70s. But now, starting with the Ferguson riots in 2014 that was the first in a series episodes of racial unrest that have so far culminated in the dark days of racial tens`ion of this very summer of 2016, we are seeing the most unrest this country has faced in more than 40 years.

Trump: The First Major Party Candidate to Stoke Unrest While Running for President?

And in the middle of all this is Donald Trump, the most polarizing major-party candidate since the election of 1860 that precipitated this country’s only civil war.

As history and even our own world today amply demonstrates, the sinister genie of political violence is prohibitively difficult to get back into its bottle once it has been unleashed; often, the attempt to rebottle it fails to succeed before the self-destruction of whatever state structures were in existence, or before people turn to autocracy out of weariness of violence, with the violence itself often bred by a disintegrating public trust in major institutions. Most worrisome about Trump is that he is mixing subtle, implied threats of mass violence and/or intimidation with a very overt effort to obliterate trust in such institutions; just to recap, from the beginning of his candidacy and throughout, Trump falsely exaggerated how badproblems were with our institutions, even allowing for their increasingly problematic nature: first, he assailed the media and the party presidential nomination process as being “rigged” by elites to keep him down (that is, until he won and then stopped caring); added to this are his repeated allegations that the presidential voting system is rigged from top to bottom, with exhortations of his (largely white) supporters to be enthusiastic volunteer Election Day poll watchers (in minority-heavy precincts), a task that only trained professionals are qualified to do (the parts in parentheses are understood even as candidate Trump does not emphasize them). Combined with his casual references to beating up dissentersat his rallies, his earlier threats/hints of possible violence (and his campaign’s preparations for intimidation tactics) were the Republican Party to try to deny Trump the nomination at its convention, his repeated musings as to what gun enthusiasts could show Hillary Clinton, especially if she were to be stripped of her Secret Service protection, and his stated desire to put Clinton in jail were he to be elected president along with his encouraging of chants of “lock her up” with crowds at his rallies, all Americans paying attention who have any sense of decency left should be feeling chills down their spines.

And yet for millions of Trump’s deplorable supporters, who are hanging on to every word in person at mass rallies, watching him on TV, or listening to him on the radio, they hear all this, easily understand all the implied subtleties about race and violence, and eagerly absorb every word joyfully, salivating at the very prospect of being able to assert their white dominance yet again on the political system, with far too many of these people also delighting in the prospect of political violence as a means to achieve these ends.

I wish I could say that I firmly believe such a prospect of political violence on anything other than a minute scale is a remote possibility, but I can’t; Trump’s recently far more sinister rhetorical turn is driving delusions and fantasies of violence in the heads of far, far too many of his flock, especially if that recent poll that had half of Republicans refusing to accept Clinton as president is even remotely accurate (and it probably is).

I honestly don’t know what will happen, so extreme has Trump’s rhetoric become, so extreme have the views of many of his supporters been for some time, that I fear what will happen should this toxic mix boil over.

All Americans, regardless of political affiliation, in an atmosphere of increasing racial animosity and rumblings of political violence, should be afraid, and demand that Trump cease such rhetoric immediately, before it may be too late to prevent the unimaginable. But, as a consequence of all of this, we must begin to imagine the unimaginable and prepare for the worst.

In some ways, that in itself is close enough to a 133 moment that we are in trouble regardless of what happens on and/or after Election Day.

Conclusion: A True Test for America, Its System, Its Leaders, Its People

I want to also be careful here to note I am not arguing inevitability here: 133 did not make Sulla’s and Caesar’s civil wars inevitable, and Trump doesn’t make anything inevitable about today’s America. But each made and make, respectively, the possibility of really bad things happening far more likely: once such things occur in a society, they are far more likely to occur again than if society had prevented them from occurring at all in the first place.

Do I think Trump really wants to spark violence and riots? To undermine democracy? Maybe not, maybe it’s just bravado, but maybe not; either way, I do not think he appreciates or understands the raw hatred and emotion with which he is toying; in fact, the Republican Party did not realize how dangerous a game they were playing for Decades stoking these fires, and Trump blew it all up right in the Party’s elites’ face. These forces are larger than Trump, and it remains to be seen if he can contain them, or if he even wants to. At the final debate, he said he wanted to keep us “in suspense,” and no matter what happens, we can all agree he has succeeded wildly on that front, and not for the good of our republic. The example of Rome’s self-destructive descent into civil political violence and strife is frighteningly instructive for our times, then, and should give us all pause, and we will have to judge ourselves very much on the basis of what happens over the next few weeks. In some ways, no less than the fate of our (and even Western) democracy itself is at stake.