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July Police Shootings and protest aftermath

Jul 06, 2016 2:28pm

‘He’s got a gun! Gun’: Video showing fatal confrontation emerges after Tuesday morning shooting…
http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/alton_sterling/article_7a1711be-1d0a-5f98-9274-113b819b7431.html

Tim Wise, via Facebook:

Soon will come the rationalizations for the cold-blooded execution we see on this video. In rough order:

1) He had a gun. Yes, apparently…in his pocket, untouched in this encounter (his arms are pinned), and in an open carry state where he has every right to have one on his person (thanks to the same people who will defend his death, ironically). His possession of a weapon under these circumstances can in no way justify his death;

2) He didn’t go down when the cops tased him and his body jerked around after he was tackled, meaning he was resisting arrest (i.e., “why can’t ‘these people’ just comply with officers’ orders?”). Yes, but he also wasn’t aggressing against them, and once tackled he was immobilized. Did he jerk around a bit? Sure, which is a natural response any of us will likely make when getting tackled. It is not instinctual for a person to just go limp when they are tackled, especially if they feel they are being tackled for no reason. The natural reaction is to struggle against the discomfort being caused, not to simply be entirely still, especially if the tackle is causing pain. In this regard it is similar to Eric Garner, who struggled against the officer’s arm around his neck because it was cutting off blood supply — an entirely automatic response. If you don’t believe me, next time a stranger jumps on top of you, tell me what you do. The fact that it was an officer in this case doesn’t matter. The human mind and body don’t react differently to aggression just because the aggression wears a badge;

3) He had a criminal record. Yes, he apparently did. But none of those offenses were capital offenses, and none of them have anything to do with this event. If having a record justifies cops killing you, then by that logic, anyone ever arrested for a crime who has a prior should just be jailed immediately without a trial, or just executed, as the logic is exactly the same. And let’s be honest, if he had NO record, the police would still defend the action of the officers, as would the right wingers who will do so in this case. His prior record simply gives them cover for defending an otherwise indefensible action;

…oh and of course, 4) What about Chicago? What about black on black violence? Yes of course, except a) people go to jail for that, regularly; b) that isn’t done in the name of the state with our tax dollars; c) much of that violence is itself the result of a justice system that doesn’t truly protect black people, and thus isn’t trusted (surprise surprise given the recently uncovered history of John Burge and the CPD torture den), and as such encourages folks’ to settle beef on their own; and d) by the logic that says “black folks killing other black folks” invalidates concern over extra-judicial execution or racism, the same thing could have been said in the 1920s. Even then, more black folks died at the hands of other blacks than at the hands of police or other whites (because people are more likely to be killed by people they live around), but most rational people would not conclude from that fact that the fight against lynching or racism or police violence was wrongheaded

…and lets not forget, finally, that there are 2.5 to 4 times (depending on how the tabulations are done) more white-on-white crimes every year than black-on-black ones but we never call them that…Why not? Because we racialize black dysfunction and individualize white dysfunction…because of white supremacy. That is all.

Jul 06, 2016 4:19pm
I want to reiterate a point from my last post regarding the killing of Alton Sterling by a Baton Rouge police officer, because it speaks to something that rarely gets discussed when these things happen. Seems like every time an officer kills someone (regardless of race, but especially when the person is a black male), folks want to know why the person killed had to “resist” the police? Why didn’t they just remain calm and still and do as asked? Putting aside the historical and ideological response (true though it is) about how hard it is for people who are constantly disrespected by police to suddenly be deferential to them, and putting aside the fact that cops kill folks who aren’t resisting plenty of times too (Tamir Rice, John Crawford III, Akai Gurley, Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Amadou Diallo, etc), ask yourself:

Have you ever been tackled by someone who then proceeded to get on top of you and hold you down, the way Sterling was? Or choked the way Eric Garner was, by someone who was compressing your jugular, thereby disallowing blood re-circulation from your brain to the rest of your body? If not, consider how unlikely it is that the natural response you would have to either of these would be to “relax,” “stay calm” or comply with what was happening. Even if the person doing it to you was a cop, the fight-or-flight instinct that is part of all of us would kick in. Even people who EXPECT to be tackled (like running backs, for instance) have a tendency to struggle against the person doing it when it happens and they hit the ground, especially if the tackle was painful. And that’s people who know a tackle is coming and for whom being tackled is part of their job, not just some average person.

Going limp in such a situation is a) not easily done, because of the fight-or-flight instinct to stiffen up and try and get loose; and b) is considered by police to often be ANOTHER FORM OF RESISTANCE ANYWAY, because it makes carrying you away more difficult. I learned this during political protests over two decades ago. We would try and go limp when being carted away by cops but it was hard to do in practice and often made the cops even angrier because now we were dead weight and they had to work harder, so they got even more brutal…

In other words, we are asking average folks to become critical thinkers about their own physiological response to a very stressful and scary moment (i.e., being tackled or choked by a cop, or beaten as happened to Rodney King who “kept trying to get up”), even though moments like that are NOT known for being moments where critical thinking is likely, even as we are NOT asking police who are trained and agents of the state to think critically about how to de-escalate and hold fire. We are asking more of average citizens than the police. Police should not have to think before acting, but the person they are attacking should…it’s lunacy, truly.


I, RACIST
https://thsppl.com/i-racist-538512462265#.jr12w28zy


JAN MASLEID·THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2016
“A month ago, when 49 people were slaughtered in a gay club, we were told the blame lay at our feet, because if only everyone were allowed to carry a gun, we’d be safe.
Today, after a black man was held down, shot at very close range and murdered, we’re told he would have been safe if only he weren’t armed.
Which is it?’’


One FB friend; #‎FalconHeightsShooting‬ “I hope the NRA floods the streets in protest. After all, he was a good guy with a gun.”

My comment:
Of course they won’t. NRA is big repose of these people who think blacks are dangerous animals, and hence one of the reasons why they want to stockpile guns for themselves so much in the first place. The “right to bear arms” isn’t for blacks (just like “liberty” originally wasn’t), it’s just for them. (And maybe a few “good ones” who’ve joined the organization. But certainly not the much maligned guys on urban streets).


LeeAnne Milazzo McCarthy
7/7/2016
https://www.facebook.com/notes/jan-masleid/which-is-it-nragun-lovers/1201316559880108


Tim Wise
July 8 at 9:14am ·
The shooting of officers in Dallas was entirely unjustifiable and evil. It also cannot be blamed on the Black Lives Matter movement. Indeed BLM principals are condemning it openly and strongly. Not only do such folks not believe in violence or attacking cops (and indeed, no one actually affiliated with the movement has attacked a cop in the two+ years of its existence), they know (as do we all involved in this struggle) that acts like this will only embolden the far-right, quasi-fascist forces that seek to crack down on people of color even harder. To blame BLM for acts like this is to say that protest movements are inherently to blame whenever someone, totally unaffiliated with their cause, decides to do something terrible to those being protested. Such a standard would chill free speech entirely.

Tim Wise
July 8 at 10:17am ·
Right-Wingers like to talk about “personal responsibility” a lot when it comes to black people, as in, they should take “personal responsibility” for their lives/communities, etc. But when it comes to an individual or individuals who kill police, they suddenly switch to “collective responsibility” with a quickness and are ready to blame black folks more broadly or black-led movements. But if you believe in personal responsibility, then only the shooter or shooters is/are to blame for what happened in Dallas.

My comment:
Yeah, the whole problem is looking at others as monolithic entities, rather than people. Then, they hold themselves up as “par”, and then only when comparing to themselves, do people become individuals. But then every individual in the other group remains culpable for what the group does.



Conservative Media Finally Starting To Realize That Racism Is A Problem
One conservative columnist says “police brutality toward African-Americans is a pervasive problem that has been going on for generations.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/conservative-media-police-brutality_us_57800f9be4b01edea78df091?section


Black GOP Senator Talks About Being Pulled Over By Police 7 Times In One Year
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tim-scott-pulled-over_us_5786bfffe4b08608d332eaa0


Criminalizing the hustle: Policing poor people’s survival strategies from Eric Garner to Alton Sterling
Garner sold loose cigarettes; Alton Sterling hawked CDs — and they both died at the hands of police
http://www.salon.com/2016/07/08/criminalizing_the_hustle_policing_poor_peoples_survival_strategies_from_erin_garner_to_alton_sterling/


Why President Obama can’t bring us together
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/07/08/why-president-obama-cant-bring-us-together/

there are significant numbers of white people who will always believe that on issues of race, Obama is intentionally trying to set Americans against each other, no matter what he actually does or says. Any reasonable observer would look at his statements about racial controversies and see someone being painfully careful and tentative, struggling to confront the reality of discrimination and racism without offending whites. But for his trouble, he has been cast by his opponents as a racial avenger, some kind of Black Panther using the powers of the presidency to wreak vengeance upon innocent white people.

Republicans have told themselves a story in which the nation was moving toward racial harmony until Barack Obama came into office and immediately began dividing us over race, pitting blacks against whites and tearing the country asunder. And they have been telling their constituents this from the moment he took office. No one familiar with conservative media can deny that it has featured a festival of race-baiting since 2009, blaming Obama for every racial incident anywhere and casting all his policy decisions as motivated by the desire to stick it to white people. Some black kids beat up a white kid on a school bus? “Obama’s America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now,” Rush Limbaugh, the most popular radio host in America, tells his listeners.


Another FB friend:
“Blaming the Black Lives Matter movement for division is like blaming victims of rape for speaking out. They are NOT the source of division.”


Don’t Blame Black Lives Matter For The Deaths Of Dallas Cops
“Black Lives Matter advocates equality, justice and freedom. Not Murder.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dont-blame-black-lives-matter-for-the-deaths-of-dallas-cops_us_577f9409e4b01edea78d6514?section=politics


No, We Are Not In The Midst Of A Race War
Calling this a ‘Race War’ implies only one side should win.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/no-we-are-not-in-the-midst-of-a-race-war_us_577fb9b5e4b0344d514ee8a1


Black Lives Matter Co-Founder: We Can Grieve For Dallas And Still Demand Accountability
“We are not anti police. We are anti-our-people-being-murdered-in-the-streets.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-lives-matter-alicia-garza-dallas-shooting_us_578105c4e4b0344d514f834c

Jon Stewart You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards


Tim Wise
July 10 at 8:34am ·

Got a thought-provoking e-mail from someone who follows my work this morning (Danny Molina) and wanted to give him credit for the following thought, which his e-mail raised:
So, here we have most people on the right condemning black folks for “resisting” law enforcement (not fully complying with their own brutalization, or simply struggling mildly when tackled as with Alton Sterling or Eric Garner for instance). We are told by them that resisting law enforcement is grounds for execution
And yet, when these folks talk about their fears that the government is coming for their guns, what do they PROMISE to do? They PROMISE, as in guaran-damn-tee, that they will resist law enforcement, even to the point of shooting it out with them when that same law enforcement comes to “take their weapons.” I mean, who do they think is gonna come to the door and demand that they hand over their high-capacity magazines? President Obama himself? AG Lynch? No. It would be uniformed law enforcement officials. (Not that it would be OK to shoot it out with Obama or Loretta Lynch either, but ya know, they would probably think that was different, so I’m just sayin’) Of course in truth it isn’t going to happen and these people are paranoiacs, but you get the point, yes?
Basically, they are saying that black people shouldn’t resist denial of equal protection (14th Amendment) or Due Process (5th Amendment), or Freedom of Speech (1st Amendment), but by God, if someone messes with that precious 2nd Amendment, oh hell no…then not only can you resist an officer by talking back or refusing to comply with an order, you can SHOOT IT OUT with that officer in the name of your rights…
In other words, in the eyes of a lot of folks on the right, the Constitution is for white people…

My comment:

That’s the great double-standard.
Only their “rights” are valid, and so when the government is at odds with them it needs to be brought down, and they are rugged heroes for fighting for their rights. Blacks don’t have “rights”, they have false “entitlements” (there’s a difference, as they define them, see previous article), and so when they react, it’s falsely playing a “victim”, and “whining” to get “free stuff” they haven’t “earned”, or to justify the criminal “pathology” the police are trying to contain.
So they don’t have the right to protest, resist or anything; government strong-arming is valid against THEM, so they should just submit. (Just like 150 years ago, as much as they claim we’ve come so far from that! Remember, their forebears vowed “the south shall rise again”)

This is the entire conservative racial ideology in a nutshell, just hidden behind all the indirect language.


Einstein on race:
http://www.onbeing.org/program/albert-einstein-the-negro-question-1946



Being CONtorted how about all lives matter with tweets

discussion of black lives matter phrase


Rudy Giuliani’s Shameful MSNBC Appearance On Dallas Shooting
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-amato/rudy-giulianis-shameful-msnbc-appearance-on-dallas-shooting_b_10895690.html?section=politics

The Real Problem in America: _______ Like Rudy Giuliani

http://thedailybanter.com/2016/07/the-real-problem-in-america-assholes-like-rudy-giuliani/


DL Hughley: ‘The Only Place Racism Doesn’t Exist Is Fox News’
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dl-hughley-the-only-place-racism-doesnt-exist-is-fox-news_us_57879e31e4b08608d3332072?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047


People Aren’t Too Happy About President Obama’s Town Hall On Race
One activist called it “a bunch of fluff.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-race-town-hall_us_578844e0e4b08608d333f057

My comment:
“POTUStownhall is just a none too subtle blue lives matter party”. Would this ever satisfy the conservatives who claim he does nothing but “divide” the races (in favor of “black lives” only) and stir up hatred against cops? Of course not! These types of statements are always invisible to the other side, but they are just enough to anger the first side, so that everyone ends up critical of him.


The Alt-Right‘s Fear of a Black Planet
http://www.vice.com/read/the-alt-rights-fear-of-a-black-planet

This is basically the collective term for the ideologues (white nationalists,white identity, other “supremacist movements, etc) leveling the “cuckservative” term at mainstream conservatives seen as selling out for dog whistling instead of auduble whistling, like they are.

Ian Haney Lopez’s post: Jul 13, 2016 2:26pm
“And another article on Trump’s support among white supremacists — or, using their nomenclature, among the ‘alt right.’ The move here is to sanitize racism by re-packaging it, not as hatred of others, but as love of one’s own group in a world in which each group is supposedly out for itself. In this narrative, whites are the only group not allowed to express pride in their identity or to have clubs or political agendas promoting their interests, making whites the real racial victims in today’s zero-sum racial competitions. The supposed antidote: whites must organize around their white identity and protect white interests (and vote Trump). In a country deeply rooted in and still fundamentally shaped by white supremacy, alt-right is only its newest incarnation.”


“White nationalism has moved into the mainstream, like it or not.”
The KKK is trying to make a comeback – and Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric is only adding fuel to their fires.


Did you know Researchers have proven, scientifically, that we are all one people

Unfortunately, something called “culture” has developed around the different skin colors, and THAT’s what the racists (most, now actually claiming to be “colorblind” themselves) are judging by now. Another group’s “culture” is bad, and that’s why they deserve to be shot, or have no right to complain until they clean up their “problems” first. This is how they think now.
So while the “alt-right” is still pitching genetic differences, the so-called “cuckservatives” they have been criticizing are still benefitig them, by providing a “colorblind” front for the beliefs to fester behind. Now, they seem ready to erupt!


Nikki Lee Martinez
July 9 at 12:58pm · Pueblo, CO ·
No one is born into policehood.

It is not a race or a religion. It’s not a skin color. There are no blue men born to blue mothers. Although individual humans collectively embody a blue-clad police force, it remains an extension of the judicial body of our government.

As such, the police are a symbol of our judicial system that is most interpersonal to us as citizens. They are the face of American law–law that is unarguably founded on racism and historical, ingrained white supremacy. This racism, passive and subconscious at times, rampant and apparent at others, works its way through police officers like a fluid–their words, their hands, their guns and their citations based on racist laws that are carried out in racist court hearings and punishable by racist sentences. In this way, it is a fluid that chokes and drowns its victims– inevitable because it is systemic; pervasive because it is foundational.

So when people say “blue lives matter”, they unwittingly assert that members of our government–whom we interact with personally and often–are above scrutiny because they are humans and yet somehow not also voluntary members of a larger, complex and tax-funded system. This revered acknowledgement of humanity in the “blue lives matter” movement of course conversely applies to the publics they serve, as well. But unlike police officer humans, black-skinned, civilian humans do not clock out after a shift, take off the blue, retire eventually; they aren’t applauded for a lifetime of the dangerous line of work they’ve endured when they pass away–a line of work known as being black in America–that is exhausting and heavy and assuredly beautiful in private moments away from the unending racism they face every day.

No. Being black isn’t a uniform.

Of course there are those who don the blue hue who are just, kind, ethical–but these men and women in blue, not unlike their corrupt counterparts, applied for and were hired to uphold government positions in a historically corrupt, broken and dangerous system. Dangerous for them and dangerous for black people. We in the movement can appreciate efforts toward change from the inside, and we can mourn their deaths because they indeed are humans, but we know we have the right to criticize and protest our government–especially when it becomes ungoverned and tyrannical–especially when it is overwhelmingly and fatally interpersonal–especially when it is our lives and the lives of our fellow citizens at stake.

There are so obviously no blue people born to blue mothers, but there are most certainly black people–husbands, wives, children–who deserve a just government that includes and depends on folks in blue. Folks in blue who, in time, can be relied on to consistently protect them. Folks who, in this moment in time, are caught in a system that favors and exudes racism.

It is of the utmost importance that people understand that what is being said, being shouted, being plead and bled for, is that those of us protesting this judicial sect of government are asking for the reform of a system, not for the lives of other humans who are paid to wear blue and to protect us civilians. We are asking for acknowledgement of and an end to a sick machine that continues to churn despite black bodies being crushed in the cogs.

We are begging–as black people have had to too often in the history of this country–that their lives, black lives, matter. The slogan new, the sentiment hundreds of years old. We plead that their beating hearts count. It is not much to ask; it is painfully obvious, and yet we are shouting until our lungs bleed against unnecessary counter arguments–blue lives, ‘all’ lives, everyone else but black lives it seems.

So we say again and again and again until it is accepted wholly: black lives matter. Black lives exist to be counted. We are demanding to tear down the machine, building in its place a new order that can’t be fed by blood and bones, that includes black people in its foundation so that they and the blue-clad folks can stop clashing and begin a civilian-government relationship worthy of American pride.

The BLM movement asks that you hear us. Join us. Demand with us. Or, at the very least, be quiet so we don’t have to shout over you.

That is all.


A FB and typology friend of mine is involved in this one! Says the police break through a ring of white people and arrest the blacks only!

Eighteen arrested in Portland as group protesting police shootings blocks Commercial Street
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/15/portland-group-demands-police-chief-recognize-value-of-black-lives/


I can identify with this one, as I too had though we were so “post-racial”, and began to see the depths of racism on the internet, especially Facebook:

We Were Never Friends, We Just Grew Up Together
View story at Medium.com

Particularly striking:

After high school…Some of my childhood friends…were able to keep in touch via Facebook. We would like each other’s pictures and status updates occasionally.
I would visit their Facebook pages occasionally to check in, that is when I first began to notice that our differences continued to develop as we grew older. But this growth made me uncomfortable, even angry at times. Most of it was anti-Obama rhetoric.

It offended me, but I chalked it up to just being a difference in political ideology. Even though I slightly felt their arguments were rooted in racism. As Facebook began to become more popular I saw more of my classmates and friends sharing their ideals, principles and personal views. I too was very active on social media, typically voicing my concerns of injustice and the state of the black community.

Some where between the re-election of Barack Obama and the murders of black and brown bodies at the hands of law enforcement, I saw my white friends grow comfortable in their anti-blackness. I watched them share racist right wing articles and argue who was worthy of life and humanity.

I watched my friends who I played, went to school, laughed and even occasionally got in trouble with devalue my life and reality.


Individual Police Shootings are the Tip of the Spear
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/7/13/1547924/-Individual-Police-Shootings-are-the-Tip-of-the-Spear-White-America-Must-Learn-This


In DC, wiggling while handcuffed counts as assaulting an officer
https://www.revealnews.org/article/dcs-assaulting-an-officer-charge-could-hide-police-abuse-critics-say


NYPD cop secretly records supervisor pressuring him to racially profile black men
http://www.rawstory.com/2016/07/nypd-cop-secretly-records-supervisor-pressuring-him-to-racially-profile-black-men/#.V4ahA4zs5kY.facebook

This should remind us of this warning from last year:

FBI warns racist groups have been infiltrating law enforcement for years
http://www.mintpressnews.com/fbi-says-racist-organizations-have-been-infiltrating-police-departments-for-years/205796
http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/kkk-has-infiltrated-us-police-departments-decades

Perhaps this answers my question of how cops can have no shame in killing after other highly publicized incidents. It might just be an orchestrated plan capitalizing off of the publicity.


Not directly about these latest incidents, but still about a very much racist system:

Our Bail System Is Leaving Innocent People To Die In Jail Because They’re Poor
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cash-bail-jail-deaths_us_57851f50e4b0e05f052381cb

When I read all of this, in light of everything else here, what comes to mind is the old vow, “The South shall rise again!” This is part of how they are truly aiming to make it happen, and Trump is their great hope!

(Breaking: As I prepare this article, the next incident occurs, shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge!)


More good memes:


amaerica is mad at black people for saying black lives matter we mad for having to say it at all

where are all the second amendment purists defending #AltonSterling's right to carry a gun

America repeat after me resisting arrest is not punishable bu instantaneous death

561 people killed by cops this year don't blame all cops 5 cops killedlast noght blame Obama and entire BLM

Reminder NRA has spent decades telling Americans they should have assault weapons so we can take up arms against our own govt Well a man in Dallas did just that yesterday

black woman holding red sign you're only blue 40 hours a week I'm black 24/7 365

white people bragging about how they'd run over BLM protesters are now wondering what kind of monster would drive a truck into a crowd of people

Regarding the gun issue in general:

On a much more positive note:

After Dallas, Mount Vernon police officers and the community came together – with dancing, block parties and some music.

Humanity’s biggest Pitfall: “Merit”

Our biggest problem is the sense of “merit”.

It undergirds much of religion (including Christian religion, even as it premises itself upon  the opposite notion of “grace”), as well as secular philosophy (I think more and more of this “Law of Attraction”, and the related “rugged individualism”, from the nasty cold attitudes they produce among their adherents, in both politics and self-help discussion. I’ve cited one LOA teacher, as justifying their harsh thundering at people with a notion of “superior power”. The people don’t even have any right to be offended, and are called “narcissists” for being so. Kind of reminds one of the slavemasters whipping slaves and then calling them “uppity”, or dismissing current claims of injustice as “whining”, with the ulterior purpose of getting  “free stuff”). It’s what led to a lot of the sociopolitical problems, started centuries ago when people invaded others’ lands, and decided “we’re ‘chosen’, we have merit [built up ‘civilization’, etc], so we’re taking over!” The heirs of this continue to use some supposed merit to defend against the equality of those subjugated, rehashing the inferiority of these groups for being in that position in the first place.

Do “achievements” equate to “character”?

It’s all about “character”, with people thinking they have it, and others don’t.

Whenever you stumble across a white supremacist site, the main talking point is all the “achevements” of the race, like “building modern civilization”, where blacks, from Africa to the West have done nothing but cause problems and need to be supported.
But the question is who ever assigned merit to “modern civilization”? Certainly not scripture, where in both testaments, the big powerful world-ruling empres were always heathen dominators who oppressed God’s people. God had promised His people rule if they obeyed His Law, but the nation as a whole never did, and so remained in subjection.  The Church was promised “crowns” for its faithfulness, in the Resurrection, not in this world.

Here’s a quote exemplifying this “character judgment” basis of racism, from perhaps the nation’s #1 “hero”, embodying everything about the strong “rugged individual” that conservatives love and hold up as ideal manhood; also also a close friend of the similar number one political hero, Reagan:
John Wayne racist statement, azquotes (My father said he was a big fan of his, until finding out he was “racist”; probably with this statement. We can see why Public Enemy slammed him, after Elvis, in “Fight the Power”).

The whole thing starts from setting themselves (via their “culture”) up as PAR, morally (so that everyone else is judged by their supposed “goodness”); and in order to do that, they have to justify their evil deeds, as we see here. Already, we begin to see the shift from genetics, to “responsibility”, as Wise pointed out, where now, racists were willing to “give us a chance”, to “move up” to their “level”. —As all the political and economic forces sit there pulling every string they can to continue ensuring them remaining trapped in poverty and resulting crime. But that has to be dismissed as just a made up “excuse”, because “all the white [‘ethnic’] groups pulled themselves up”.
(I think not enough people had called this out, and so today, you have so many thoroughly convinced that their superior attitudes are justified, “factual”, irrefutable, and only in self-defense. This is why they now have a Trump to loudly champion their cause. But thankfully, a few like Wise and Lopez really are going after this).

The description Paul gives of the apostate Israel of his day perfectly fits this modern “western superiority” mindset that assumes itself as “par” for morality and character: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish THEIR OWN righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3).
Jesus had warned the same people:“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (John 9:41)

What’s never brought to their attention is that with all that power they were able to amass and “build” with, came the potential to destroy all of life off of this planet! And that this point, in addition to the way their power has already been carried out (conquest, war, brutal policing, capitalism with the the ice-age mentality based on the false premise of “scarcity”, Randianism, and “rugged invidividualism” to justify it, etc.) is the same “savage” nature or “law of the jungle” that they deride and sneer at in tribal or urban black culture. Just a more “sophisticated” variation of the same “fallen human nature”. They are simply holding up the same “nature” that drives the violence or “inertia” (desire for ease) they are pointing out in blacks, and assuming that for them (the ones making this judgment) it by itself automatically equates to “integrity” (which is basically what they are claiming to have) because of some hand-selected list of accomplishments they can appeal to, which themselves are not without problems (a “shadow” of evil, basically), as we see.

But how often has the conservative Church (which has always fought hard for the “sinfulness of all men”, and inability for him to be justified by merit) pointed this out? They historically have been more likely to have gone along with the basic premise of “Western exceptionalism”, which is just a softer term for the “white superiority” that drove these things.
So they, virtually unchalleneged, snort out all the “fact” that always seems to prove their point.

Scripture asks “What do you have that you did not receive? And if [you acknowledge] you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7). Even if one doesn’t believe in scripture, this still should stand as a recognizable fact of human limitation (being we actually do occupy such a small place in the universe).

Here’s yet another political tough-talk, written by a woman going after men who voted for Bernie Sanders: http://louderwithcrowder.com/dear-men-who-vote-bernie-sanders-youre-wimpy-and-gross A “real man” is “One who has ambition, self-worth, confidence, and valor is a man worth commemorating–by both women and society”, which “strapping, rugged men” are “traditionally masculine characteristics”,  and “the evolutionary behavior of a provider”, citing the old ancestral activities of “hunting and/or gathering”.

Younger Bernie voters are all assumed to be “a lazy slacker who needs people to take care of him, you probably can’t. It would involve a little extra work to click that link. God forbid you work for something.”

A modern day hunter/gatherer still exudes ambition and drive, he just does it with modern tools, be they physical or digital. He is a man with a decisive attitude, who knows what he wants and goes for it. He doesn’t wane. He isn’t wishy washy. He doesn’t whine about things “not being fair.” He says to hell with it, he’ll find a way to make it happen. He is a man who works hard, no matter the job or career he currently has or is striving for. A masculine, modern day man seeks to better himself. He yearns for and commands respect. He has strength of character, honor, integrity. From women, from other men and most importantly, from himself.

You, the Bernie Sanders supporter,  a male seeking hand-outs, lacks personal respect. You’re less like a man and more like a spineless amoeba. You’ve fallen for the party line that “life isn’t fair.” You believe Obama and Sanders who say the “deck is stacked against you.” Where a real man would heartily declare “Challenge accepted,” while forging a path to victory, you hang your head and skulk. You hashtag. You complain. You are a male with no belief in yourself. You’re no a man at all.

You’re also doomed to be overtaken by a feminist, if any woman will have you at all. She might want to be the provider since you cannot provide for yourself or for her. Since the dawn of human beings, women have wanted men who can provide. It’s evolution. It’s biology.

We seek a mate who can take on those responsibilities while we’re caring for the young. Sorry feminists, but such is nature. This is entirely why women like tall, strong, strapping men in power suits. He’s signifying he’s an excellent hunter. And yes, men, this is why women like men with money. It’s a sign of how good he is at hunting and providing.

But you, who votes socialist, are telling the world you’d rather take from people who do the hunting, for you cannot. You are, for all intents and purposes, a wimp. In days of yore, you would’ve been driven out of the tribe. You would have held the entire tribe back. Because you just didn’t feel like going out and hunting. You didn’t feel like gathering. Meh. It’s too hard, you would’ve said. It’s not fair that Thor has bigger muscles than you. It’s not fair that Liam runs faster. It’s not fair that Ulrich has a bigger spear. It’s just not fair.

Everything that Bernie supporters talk about is dismissed under this “wanting the government to take care of us” generalization. It ignores that his premise is not the government taking money not already being taken from us, but rather that most of this money being taken is going to the rich, not the poor as the Right charges, and so that the same money should rather be put back to use to benefit most of us (from whom it came from), and not just the rich. If you say “it should just be given back to us to use however we want”, that’s a good ideal, but even conservative administrations and congresses have never been able to achieve that. They just keep giving more to the rich, while everyone blames the poor, and then berates them for their “whining”.
It also ignore just what is meant by the deck to be stacked against us, or “the game rigged”, by those already with power. That we can go out and work hard; just as hard or even harder than these power brokers, and get nowhere, because they have in fact rigged the system to funnel all the proceeds to themselves.

But that that’s not even looked at; it’s instantly assumed that just because they have all of that power, they must have worked harder for it. No one ever inherits. No one up there ever does shady dealing (including with the much despised “government”). Personality (temperament that is different for different people) and timing never have anything to do with it. Uncontrollable factors can never be too great, for this ideal “super”-man! This is then made the “par” that everyone else falls short of. So of course, under this “rugged individual” premise, those rich were all the hard-working, effective “hunter-gatherers” who “DESERVE” it.
So basically, an entire generation now, the “millennials”, (as an article linking to this one addresses) are a bunch of whiners who deserve to be driven into for-all-purposes slavery by these “real men”, just because they climbed to the place where they could do that, and the others didn’t. This is the same pattern I keep seeing, whether race, class, or generations. No one ever questions how “the hard truth” can always favor this same group of people!
Bernie Sanders supporters just want free stuff

As for the “real men” concept, it’s the same rigid ideal I discussed in https://erictb.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/backlash-against-the-nice-guy-in-light-of-virgin-rampage and https://erictb.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/laws-of-the-universe-objectivism-and-tough-talk-or-why-im-critical-of-secular-self-help (and this article reads much like the ones I discussed in those articles!) It totally ignores the other baggage that comes with that “rugged” premise.

For one thing, we are no longer “hunter-gatherers”, and as suggested (see: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/systems-vs-individuals-and-the-balance-of-power-and-the-role-of-meaning) it was turning away from that paradigm, toward a system of “give and take” (which then leads to forms of “merit” to determine who should give and who should take) starting with agriculture, that can be seen as apart of the archetypal “fall” that leads to all the problems people complain about as “unfair” today!
But no; tough-talkers only pitch the grandiose ideal and act as if anyone can just “choose” it by mental fiat. No wonder they talk to people who feel down on luck like trash!

So here, is the appeal to “nature” I just mentioned. And evolution, even! (And so obviously, an example of a “secular” or not particularly Christian version of Right wing conservativism). The basic argument is, (regarding taking advantage of and consuming one another): “the animals do it!” This from the promoters of “exceptional”, “advanced” (and often even “Christian”) “civilization”! At no time does all of this “character” they assume for themselves, ever suggest a calling higher than just raw nature! Yet they continue to look down on others over this!
While this article doesn’t mention race at all, still the trashing of “government assistance” in the past ¾ century or so, has gone hand in hand with racism, in conservative ideology; all in the name of “rugged individualism”, and the point is, to look at this another way, you’re justifying injustice with the same “nature” that you call “barbaric” when blacks in the jungle or the urban streets do it. Or when big “socialist” governments exert their power. And then, YOU become the one who turns around and whines “unfair”, and “the deck is stacked against us”! (Which is not just leftist authoritarianism, but is populism, which has also been increasingly picked up on the libertarian right; the same ones still pitching “rugged individualism”!)

So conservatives all across the board (Christian, secular, white supremacists, etc.) are doing nothing but complaining, but never seem to be able to do anything about it. If they and their society are superior, then why by their own rhetoric is everything going wrong in it? Why are they so angry about the way everything is? They too must ultimately claim that “The Man is keeping them down” (as they mock blacks for saying), only in their case, “the Man” is fellow whites in control of this society and government.

Of course, it’s not just racism, but many other areas of life, involving abuse of authority. Like Joe Jackson , who seems to think there was absolutely nothing wrong with the way he raised the kids, especially Michael, who grew up damaged beyond repair, because “hey, it made them famous, and he got rich”. This he finds it easy to say, lounging in a family estate bought with those riches, as his son spirals down the drain and to eventual death, and the father lives out his life in the estates, justifying himself all the way. (And this from a religious family that should know “A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of things he owns”—Luke 12:15, as Michael’s life sadly illustrated).

Another example is the stifling rules and regulations passed by government, and agencies like mine, often with good intentions in the aftermath of some safety-related incident. It’s all to “look good” (especially given the litigiousness of this society), or in Biblical terminology, to avoid “the appearance of evil” (and this carries over to “old-line” fundamentalists imposing certain rules, citing that scripture). People often end up “straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel”, in focusing on whatever looks good on paper, and doing just enough to meet that objective (and “doing just enough to get by” is something you would normally associate with lower level workers who haven’t climbed up to management and are thus assumed to deserve low-paid subservience).

Naming and splitting “problems”

The day I decide to sit down and start writing out the thoughts for this, happens to be the morning of the Orlando gay club attack.
Conservatives and others flock to news and social media to criticize Obama and Hillary for not labeling it “radical Islamic terrorism”. (Which he answered excellently two days later!) They always want a specific ‘enemy’ named. Like some white supremacists said, they want to “point fingers” and to “name names”, for who they think are the number one problem in the nation; in their case, the blacks. Christian leader Randall Terry once said “blame was critical” in pointing out the “godless humanist and egalitarian socalist planners”.

If more than one person in a particular group does something; if the slightest “pattern” can be detected, then the whole group becomes guilty. “Good ones” must then be split back off from that group, when they (as individuals) “prove themselves” to be different.
The person doing or demanding the “pointing” never sees himself as part of that group, or any other “problem” group, or perhaps having the same problems in different ways, or other problems that are just as bad. (Some exceptions might be certain black political figures, who go along in lockstep agreement with “dog whistling” rhetoric. But they as individuals have obviously distanced themselves from the “community” they so criticize, based on the phony premise of “colorblindness”).

Of course, this ignores other connections that can be made, like Conservative Christianity and white supremacy, which had a common view of the notion that “chosen nations” were the ones who deserved the most power, and were granted by “providence” the right to take them over.

How the splitting is done (part 1): “good/evil” vs “oppressed/oppressor”

Like someone posts a “Comical Conservative” video https://www.facebook.com/TheComicalConservative/videos/874413852691794/ where the guy has it all figured out in a nutshell. Both the Left and radical Islam are alike, because they start with a view of “oppressed and the oppressor”, based on a desire for “equal outcome”.
This stems from a statement by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, that “while conservatives see the world in terms of good and evil, liberals tend to see it in terms of oppressors and the oppressed”.

Then, I see the meme, clearly showing the two broad categories:

Why is it every time a tragedy is carried out by BAD people, STUPID people start taking rights away from GOOD people?

Anyone who is familiar with conservative rhetoric (especially Christians) will know that “good vs evil” is the ‘proper’, “God-centered” view, where “oppressed vs oppressor” is the “man-centered” view the “godless” leftists made up in their schemes to shame and then take over God’s nation. It’s of course the language of “victimhood”, which conservatives, embracing the “rugged individual” stance, have all come to despise (except when they do it). Man is not a “victim”, but is “evil” (at least according to the Christians), and so deserves a little suffering anyway, and if God decides to “bless” some people (which includes making them a “good” exception to evil man), then those not blessed must just suck it up, basically. Of course, not all political conservatives these days are religious enough to necessarily hold the theological aspect of the ideology, but they still have passed parts of it around amongst each other.

And so thus, those identifying with “conservative” movements (whether via Christianity or racism) have a natural aversion to the concept of “oppressed vs oppressor”, because they know where they would fit in that. So they dimiss it and “victimhood” in general as part of an evil ideology and hide behind “good vs evil” or “right vs wrong”. But the problem is, they have distorted “right vs wrong” in order to justify themselves in the first place!)

How the splitting is done (part 2): “Rights” vs “Entitlements”

From the page, I then find this meme:

Here is a comprehensive list of everything you're entitled to and what the world owes you

The first thing I think, is why are conservatives complaining about so much about what they want (or want “back”), then? They sure seem to feel “owed” a lot of things by “the world”!
Thinking in a similar vein, one commenter points out “No life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?” What follows is a debate on the ‘difference’ between “rights” and “entitlements. “Rights” are what’s “GIVEN”, like by the Creator, as the Constitution says, of course, and are what you “fight” for from being “taken” (So I guess then “entitlements” are something given to someone by other than God, with no effort on their part).
“Life liberty and the per suit [sic] of happiness are all things that you need to get up off your ass and go get not something that’s going to be furnished to you”
“you’re not ENTITLED to Life on Earth. You are given life in Earth by God”
“Those are God given rights that you have an imperative to defend and maintain for posterity as those who have sacrificed their lives, liberty and property to provide and secure them for you….”
“This is saying that you are not entitled to any rights GIVEN (ie: positive rights). Government doesn’t GIVE us life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness (ie: negative rights). We are simply protected from having these things taken away.”

(“Negative” and “positive” rights. Breaking it down ‘introverted Thinking’ style, even, but, I would say, as a more “shadowy” backup of a more extraverted Thinking focus on an environmental objective, such as determining who “deserves” something, or not).

Yet one then claims: “If you really want to get technical here you aren’t entitled to these things either. NONE of these are in the US Constitution…the statement regarding these points is in the Declaration of Independence, which is in reality a declaration of war. So no, you aren’t entitled to anything…ever.”

“This is a clear example of the problem with way too many people today…they don’t understand the meaning of ‘rights’ and ‘entitlement’. The founding fathers of the United States of America believed that God endowed people with certain inalienable rights…’Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness’. Beside the fallacy of people thinking that they have a right to happiness, which they don’t, they only have the right to pursue it, rights are not the same thing as being entitled or owed something. Def: Entitled (Adjective), believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”

“You are entitled to nothing in this world and you are owed nothing! You have the right, in the USA, to Life. You have the right to Liberty, at least for a little while longer…and the right to pursue happiness, but not the right or guarantee that you will find happiness, or be happy. The above list of what you are entitled to and what the world owes you is 100% accurate!”

Basically, however they spin it, it explains why their complaining, demanding and claims of being “oppressed” are “different” from what they are pointing out in others. The end result, as always, only conservatives (and the demographic group they represent) deserve anything, because what they want are universal or “negative” “rights“, that they have paid their dues by fighting for, while what everyone else wants are manufactured “entitlements” (or “positive rights”), that they want handed to them, unearned.

This explains everything!
The total “fundamental attribution” shift I have always noticed. (You do the SAME things, but attribute your portion of the behavior to good, and the others’ to evil). Just engineer the terms and definitions around!
Fundamental attribution error is the backbone of self-righteousness.
You can’t admit that you’re essentially the same as everyone else (as secular philosophies like Jung, and even the Christian Gospel itself say); that destroys the whole “righteous” posture and platform taken against others, so you have to attribute what you do to something else.

This is just splitting off evil as “other”.

More on the “owed” concept

Another common tactic of “merit” is the whole “delayed gratification” concept. Once you’ve “delayed” gratification, then you are “owed” or “entitled” to it, and it ends up justifying anything they do. The conquerors had to “get up off their butts”, after all, in order to go and take others’ lands, an d then build it up. Capitalists put out cheaper and cheaper quality junk [“planned obsolescence”] while charging more and more for it, but they are still “makers” because of the fact that they got themselves in thet position and “innovated” and “produced” something in the first place [even if it’s virtually worthless]”.
Likewise, Christians who emphasize strong standards of “holiness”, but when they nevertheless get caught in sexual scandals, expect the “world” they had so excoriated on morality, to grant them pardon (not throw their failing back at them, at which they claim persecution). After all, it’s “not about perfection”, it’s about having the high standards in the first place, even if they aren’t completely lived up to. It’s basically “I paid my dues, so now I have room to slide.

We see how all of this, as much as conservative accuse liberal ideologies, relativizes all morality!

The whole “The world doesn’t owe you anything” is one of the most common “tough talking” points of “self-help”, coaching, parenting, etc., but usually ends up uttered by people who themselves, while perhaps stuffing conscious feelings of directly claiming being “owed” something, nevertheless turn out to suffer from misery from things in their lives, and basically “preach to themselves”; but “at” others, who unfortunately must have this person’s own stuff projected and dumped onto them. Often, a feeling of having “paid one’s dues” is what comes up somewhere, while the person they are talking to supposedly has a more lax attitude. My father was one example.
(Another was some person online I knew of, who obviously read and regurgitated “Law of Attraction” rhetoric about getting whatever “energy” you put into the universe, self-sufficiency, “once” thinking life  owed him, etc. but was totally “negative” himself, with an obsession over black crime [even while being black himself], where he would cop an attitude and snark at you if you asked for a point or any sort of solution offered other than to just put down the people. There seemed to be a deep resentment toward the people themselves, all seen as “wallowing” in their problems, where he “climbed out of it”. ⦅Which was the same dynamic covered in Christ’s Parable of the vineyard workers⦆. Yet another is a personality type coach who as a Jungian similarly talked about “energies” and also the unconscious and how conflicts are the means by which it tries to “get our attention” and we must “own” our “shadow”, but nevertheless always takes herself out of the equation; often confiding in “credentials” to have the right to sharply confront others who don’t have the credentials, and so the numerous conflicts she is known for getting into with that must always be the other person’s “shadow”. After all, everyone wants to “shoot the messenger”.
It’s unbelievable how the very teachers of these philosophies, who are the ones who should “know better” most of all, do the very things they are teaching others against, often very pointedly at that! The messenger, under the simple banner of “truth”, can do no wrong. Again, they carry the “superior power”. Hence, whatever offenses, must then always be the wrong of the offended, as we see in religion and politics).

So my father never said anyone “owed” him anything, but instead, it was an endless cycle of destructive behavior, that toward the end, he began to essentially blame his mother, aunt and grandmother for. (And particularly affecting how he dealt with me and my brother and mother). He wasn’t expecting them to give him anything, but it’s still like they messed him up. What was basically “owed” was that they have been different (past, rather than present or future. And then, in the present, we should be whatever doesn’t get on his already aggravated nerves, almost as if to compensate for how rough he already had it).
In any case, it’s the same thing, though looks different from someone who demands or expects something now. But it has the same effects, of discontent and misery. Only one way can better pretend to “accept life as it is”, “move on”, and have the right “attitude” of self-sufficiency and not feeling owed, and then of course, be able to assume a position to chew out someone else for those things.

Why “good/evil” is not better than “oppressed/oppressor”

As for “oppressed vs oppressor”, Prager and the rest of the conservatives aren’t thinking that that is basically a subset of “good vs evil”, and not in total contrast or opposition to it. The difference is that “oppressed vs oppressor” is more specific an instance of good and evil, while their “good vs evil” is of course broad and all-encompassing. And that is precisely the problem with it. If you label people oppressed or oppressor, then either they are or they aren’t, and all one has to do is look and see if one group is actually oppressing the other. To use the typological concepts, that is simply a perception, while “good vs evil” is  a judgment.
Good and evil, on the other hand, are generalities (assumed from a summation of a lot of behaviors and actions) that can be faked. Satan appears as an angel of light and false teachers and corrupt political leaders pose as doers of good. You have to completely assess their overall motives and outcomes, in order to determine that, but you are imperfect yourself, and your view of them may be skewed as well.
(Perception is “irrational” ⦅you can’t help taking in whatever information is there⦆, while judgment is “rational“, meaning we have to willfully process the information. “Rational” sounds better than “irrational”, they way the terms have come to be used, but think of it this way: those insisting on “good vs evil” are “rationalizing” things, as we will see below! Now, to put it that way, doesn’t sound as good, does it? They are not dealing with simple “fact”, as is, as they often claim!)

Now let’s go down the scriptural list of why this is not as good as they insist it is. Good and evil was the original “knowledge” that led to the Fall to begin with (Gen.3:7ff). It is what powered the Law (Rom.3:20), which led to man’s condemnation or “death” (Rom.4:15, 5:13). No one was “good” enough to pass with it (Rom.3:9ff). So all were concluded under sin (Gal.3:22). And we were thus warned about “judging” others (Matt.7:1), because we end up doing the same things (Romans 2:1), and thus “loading heavy burdens on others” that we would not “lift with one of our fingers”(Matt.23:4. Though again, with the “merit” concept, they think they have borne whatever “burden” is supposedly required, already).

That is what’s wrong with this conservative “good vs evil” concept. Because they always end up judging others’ “evil”, while presuming themselves “good”, even if not directly, individually, but usually through identification (from idem, “the same”, from “id”) with the [collective] “good” or “exceptional” institution or belief system supposedly guided by God. (And of course, they were smart and moral enough to choose the right system, or among the Calvinists such as the Reconstructionists, God “opened their eyes” unconditionally, but still holds everyone else “accountable” for their “blindness”).
The “Judeo-Christian” conservatives, are the ones who should have known better, but (among Christians) think that their “changed lives” undoes this “evil” everyone else is plagued with (and then, there are many on the “right” side of things who are not born again Christians, but their correct “good/evil” philosophy seems to get them on the “good” side as well).

Again, if you catch them oppressing someone and call it out, by itself there’s nothing they can say. If they are, they are; simple as that. But if you call them “evil”, they can wiggle their way out of it with some situational justification, and from there, even manage to turn the whole thing around, so that they are really the “good” side and the other party is really the evil one. (Double negative; where “oppress/oppressed” are an action and a state of being that are more absolute, good/evil are a simple positive/negative value that can be reversed. Doing something that appears evil against the evil is supposedly positive. Of course, Christ basically said otherwise, but appealing to the Old Testament, many Christians actually think this flies. And while those pushing for “good/evil” often condemn “relativism” as apart of this, we see their good/evil term is ironically the one that actually fosters relativity!)

So their determination of who really are the oppressed and oppressors is this “good vs evil” category. Only the evil can be “oppressors”, it is assumed, while the good are “oppressed” just for their goodness. (Think “they hate us for our freedom”. “They hate us for our religious faith”. “They hate the [‘hard working’] rich, out of envy”). Hence, since America is the “good” nation, it can never be the oppressor, and since certain “cultures” are obviously “evil” (meaning being known for doing certain “bad” things), they can’t truly be “oppressed”. They are only claiming so in order to wrongly exact something from the good people. So while it is ludicrous for those groups to “whine” of “oppression” (the much despised “victimhood”), it is perfectly acceptible for the good conservatives to claim to be the truly “oppressed”, and it’s the “evil” people or belief system doing the oppression (though they don’t always use that word, to keep consistency with their statement that only the Left speaks of “oppression”).

So again, we see the basis of the same attribution shift, where they do the same things, but it’s “different”. It’s like having the utter authority to preach or even make the rules and break them. This is a good example of “privilege”, which is an often tossed around term (or of course, “entitlement”).

This article: http://qz.com/656159/the-scientific-way-to-train-white-people-to-stop-being-racist shows how their own “good/evil” concept is what actually stokes their own guilt in the race issue. It creates the “Moral dilemma” of racism, “about whether they’re good or bad people—moral or immoral”. So they project this onto everyone else; that they’re being made “bad”, and thus have to maintain their exceptional “goodness”. “When the core of our existence is brought into question, it gets emotional pretty quickly. But these emotional reactions are track-switching—we’re no longer talking about the issue of inequality, we’re talking about ourselves. When our reality as good and moral people feels threatened, up go the defenses and we stop listening.”
Here we see the shift from “oppressed/oppressor” (i.e. “inequality”), to the defense mechanism of “good/evil”.

conservatives entitlement Napoleon

“No True Scotsman”, the Muslim version

It’s true that “no true Scotsman” can be a fallacy  (the claim that real Muslims, or Christians, etc. don’t do things like that). From what I know about Islam; I’m not even totally sure. Like with the Bible, the Koran is a text that must be taken in context, but it’s really hard to tell when it was (apparently deliberately) rearranged in an anachronistic order (longest surahs to shortest), so you can’t tell which ones were written in the context of war, or of peace, when he was first starting out and facing opposition, when he gained power, etc. You’ll just see both the “love all men” passages that nonviolent Muslims (as well as the rest of secular and liberal religious society that believes “all religion is about peace and love”) appeal to, but then you also see the violent “kill the infidels” passages that both the “radical” Islamists and Christians claiming it is by nature a violent religion, appeal to. Who is “the true Scotsman” in this case? I would like to believe that the peaceful Muslims are the “true” ones, and the violent passages were taken out of context, but then I see how people do tend to water down religion, as has been done in Judaism and Christianity.
So is it love all men, except those already our enemies? Or hate all men, except those who are already in our community? It seems people are having a hard time sorting out the context.

But the problem is looking in terms of monolithic entities; a religion or nation or political system or race or sexual orientation, as an entity in itself, rather than consisting of individual people. So even if the religious texts did intend for followers to “kill the infidels”, and modern adherents have “watered it down”, you still can’t hold them responsible for the “radicals”. You have to give them credit for changing the belief, even if you think it is inconsistent.

Behind White Supremacy and “merit”

To further expond what I discussed here: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/racial-rhetoric-becoming-worse-it-seems/#comment-3863

These people display a deep anger and resentment, centered around they or their ancestors’ achievements compared with blacks’ or others supposed lack of achievement (and what this supposedly ends up requiring from them).
They obviously think “the world” owes THEM something (they don’t say “life” or “God”, but instead direct blame at other people for taking or withholding what they believe God or life had already granted them). What’s “owed” is that the power their ancestors gained be passed down to them. To receive “their nation” back. To be given something they didn’t actually work for; their forefathers took from someone else, and others came behind them and moderated it so that one group is no longer as dominant. It was an expectation that is not coming true (and unmet “expectations” are the source of nearly all our nonphysical pain).
But what they have missed, is that if “life” (nature and evolution), or “God” could take from others to give to them in the first place, then they could also take from them and give to others (Job 1:21). But they never think of that (and it seems no one even bothers to point this out to them. Nothing in them seems to indicate that in a world of imperfection, loss and not having your way, the “exceptional” truth-is-[always]-on-your-side position and its supposed rewards, which they are claiming for themselves, is “too good to be true“).
They then use “merit” as the rationale for their demand, but whatever good they have done is from God (and they often acknowledge this), but still marred by human sin and imperfection (which is where they are running afoul). So no people or nation have ‘earned’ eternal rule over the earth.

They really believe they are “less sinful” than others, by race. And where was the Church all the generations these beliefs were allowed to fester? Going along with it, or at best covering it up.
Conservatives (whether religious, political or “cultural”) don’t understand the full extent of the fallen human nature. They think because they have made the “right” choices, they have “grown” past the same sinful tendencies that plague the rest of humanity

Robert Reich and especially Tim Wise explode the concept of “merit” as used in political rhetoric (such as the ideal of this system as a “meritocracy”) in their books. See:
https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/book-review-robert-reich-beyond-outrage/https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/book-review-wise-under-the-affluence The qz article continues: “In life, there are certain chain reactions at play that lead some people straight to the top and leave others at the bottom. The myth of meritocracy gets in the way of seeing this—we all want to hold onto our story that we’re strong, smart, and deserve everything we have.”

In what we see in the rugged individualist “merit” rhetoric, “pride” becomes good. Conservative Christians long preached against “human pride”, when the “godless” in the world boast of their achievements (including political systems or scientific advancement) , but only “without God”. But when it comes to “western exceptionalism”, they then use some of these same points as proving their superiority. So it’s not that it’s bad in itself; certain forms of pride are OK; namely when you can credit God for your success.

These merit-based philosophies are making people become obnoxious. You may have a handle on how to navigate the tangible world (i.e. the way you carry yourself among people, or the way your economic philosophy is enacted), but that doesn’t mean that you trash other people verbally just because that’s the sort of motivation you think is good, for yourself. (The “secular” among these teachers act just as much “absolute” as their religious counterparts, but if those religious were to begin speaking in absolutes about biblical morality and conversion, then the less religious or nominals would begin saying there are no absolutes, and whatever way works best is good for you, but don’t force your own “truth” on anyone else.
6+3=9 so is 5+4 tThe way you do things isn't always the only way to do them Respect other people's way of thinking
And as the Christians often remind us, There are plenty of people who make it in the tangible world who are still miserable).
Between the tough talk, the weak-shaming, idealization of “political incorrectness” and looking up to Trump and his antics, and the defenses used by white supremacists, this “rugged individual” philosophy is making us become a nation of cold, uncaring, uncivil, harsh (and often increasingly foul)-tongued brutes, as much as we pride ourselves on the “exceptionality” of our “civilization”, “culture” and “character”. (See https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/why-grace-doesnt-seem-to-make-anyone-nice/#comment-3508
https://erictb.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/book-review-dog-whistle-politics/#comment-3343)

What is the Gospel for, now?

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about what is not the Gospel, or what contradicts it, (namely, all forms of “merit”), or how it shouldn’t be used. But now is a good time to discuss how it should be used.
Even though the Fulfilled View removes the whole “condemnation” premise (and thus seems to remove the need to spread the Gospel, to “save souls”), it is still “good news” that has a reason to be shared. The thing is, it’s most likely not with most Westerners, who’ve already made their “decision” in regards to Jesus Christ or whatever other religion or philosophy they believe in. This is the source of most “debate”, and enagaing in it for over 20 years, and watching current events debates over homosexuality, transgenderism, and the role religion is to play in society and government, I see it is largely a waste of time. Then you read again Christ’s statement (in instructing His first disciples on how to share the news), that if the people in a place have already “made their decision” (against, basically), then to “leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14, Luke 10:11). Staying and arguing is, again, wasting time and energy. If it brings a violent reaction from the people, then it becomes what He also referred to as “Giv[ing] that which is holy unto the dogs, [or] cast[ing] your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and tear you.” (7:6. The point is of course not to stick your nose up at unbelievers and call them dogs or swine. The people these passages were originally referring to were obstinate lawkeepers, not “worldly” unbelievers, but since the evangelical Church insists the commission to “preach the Gospel to every creature” is still for them, then it follows that these instructions on how to do it and what to do and not to do would be as well).
The only reason anyone would waste their time and energy (and possibly lives) like that is because their own ego has some investment in that place. Like “it’s our nation, and we want to take it back”. Or it’s just where you’re used to, and you don’t want to go somewhere unfamiliar (at least not permanantly, or to keep moving). So we stay in place, feeling at home in this “world” (that we sing is “not our home”), but still feel the need to  “do our part to ‘help build up the kingdom'” (and get “crowns in Heaven”). Even if you emphasize it’s “for the people’s souls”, then again, most have made their decision, and while you may be trying to catch “whomsoever will”,  Jesus did say not to stay in a city, mining for such souls (Luke 10:7b).
In any case, you’ve moved completely off of a God-centered focus, and from the “Commission” you say you’re following.

So, following the musical career of Steely Dan, and particularly main writer and keyboardist Donald Fagen, and how he would write a song attacking God, in reaction to his mother dying of Alzheimer’s (on top of some of the other wild stuff he wrote and sang about), then he’s not someone who would recognize the Gospel as “Good News”, and not someone I would want to try to convert (unless he had already come to “the end of himself” and was looking into it. Otherwise, he’s clearly made his “choice”).
However, it was upon hearing an unreleased song, called “Kulee Baba”, that was apparently about the way western media would cover an African tribal ritual (which he is portraying as some sort of good “cultural” thing, though described in language such as “The frightening finale, the rite that you’re beholding”), it conjured for me images of the potential horrors of tribal life, as practiced by some.
Not only that, but the escalating rhetorical race tension in this country, where you’ll occasionally see people make fun of African culture, or (in the context of today’s “political correctness” where everyone is “too sensitive”) talk about old banned cartoons from the 30’s or 40’s that make fun of it, also added to this at the same time. Like those disks women will place in their earlobes, or even their lips. (I’ve seen this spoofed on old Tex Avery Looney Tunes as well as old Popeyes. Probably plenty of other places, but now all censored if not compltely banned). I had also seen this in a documentary a long time ago, on the stuff women do in tribal cultures, and it also mentioned in China, the ultimate exaggeration of them having smaller feet (which is supposed to be “feminine”), where they squeezed them down to be little longer than the diameter of their leg bones.

So recently this made me think of who the Gospel would be good to share with: basically, tribal cultures. (And especially given now that the Darién Gap project just came up out of nowhere and interrupted this one, set for my vacation week. Part of the problem with pushing the highway through is the indigenous peoples who still live there, with tiny villages accessible only by foot paths).
These particular tribes seem very peaceful (and often help out hikers through the rainforest). But then, other tribes around the world will have canibalism and human sacrifice, other gruesome ritual, the ongoing maintaining of bloody animal sacrifices (where most other religions have replaced them in one way or another), and even child rape (the shamans reportedly had been telling African tribesmen this would cure AIDS), and other stuff like female genital mutilation.

Most “politically correct” liberals would likely still oppose trying to replace the practices of these “other cultures” with this “western concept” as they see it, even with the fire and brimstone removed. But look, right off the bat, those latter two things are something the liberal activist world has spoken out a lot about. They wouldn’t mind those things being ended!

Most of these rituals come from the same place just about all religious ritual and other efforts come from, and that’s the need to appease the gods (or God, as syncretistic religions such as Santeria might acknowledge). “Appeasement” is doing something to gain the pardon or favor of the other party. So it’s the same thing as the most “kosher” lawkeepers or “holiness” adherents of the monotheistic religions. Man’s “works” to save himself.
The futility of these efforts is not changed by the notion of afterlife condemnation (“eternal death”) being abolished. It’s no longer about the fear of Hell, but rather they are following things that are not from God, that are exacting a lot of unneeded and useless pain or burdens upon people (including the poor children born into this, without even any choice).

So Christ’s fulfillment of all of that, as the ultimate “sacrifice”, then is still “good news” to them, even if it’s not about Hell.
It also would be good news for those trusting in their heritage for some sort of personal worth. This is what drives white supremacy. Their ancestors did horrible things, and they can’t accept it. So they justify it, by at best “that’s just the way they did things back then”, and at worst, the people colonized and enslaved were inferior and/or “cursed”. The nation was really “exceptional”, and the descendents today not doing well simply lack character (if not being, again, naturally inferior). There is so much wrong today, but it’s all the “liberals” or other groups of people’s fault. They rebuff any association with the evils of the ancestors, saying it wasn’t them, or even that their actual ancestors weren’t here yet, or didn’t own slaves. Yet they identify with those ancestors or unrelated founders when it comes to the “good” of the nation.

If they really trusted in Christ (and truly understood Grace), and did not seek identification with the righteousness of the past Americans (which is exactly what the Israelites of Christ’s time were doing with their lineage), then they wouldn’t be so uptight (or feel “guilt-manipulated”) about the evils of the nation (like slavery and racism) when pointed out. The good and evil go together, and there is no way to split off the evil. You just end up putting it on other people, and that just causes strife. Each person stands before God on his own, not inheriting others’ goodness, or being dragged down by their badness, which you then must deny as if your own justification depended on it.
But again, many of these people have made their decision, and are fiercely sticking by it.

So the whole notion of “merit”, in all of its forms, labels and judgment, is bad news. It’s the knowledge of good and evil that leads to everything from child sacrifice to moral shaming to political oppression. It leads one group of people to show up on the shores of another, and not only say “we’re taking over!”, but also “we’re [still] in the right, and you’re suffering for being in the wrong”—”because we have ‘character’ and you don’t!”
From there we get centuries of pain and strife to come, with guilt, denial and increasingly heated reverse-blaming, along with an atmosphere lacking any empathy, and instead, full of “victim”-mocking and “weak-shaming”. It continues to lead people today to try to tear into others with “truth” in a “no excuses, no nonsense” fashion, but in the process forget that they too don’t have it all “licked” either, and can still be wrong; and thus lacking any humility or grace, and just creating more bad feelings, and thinking it’s justified. This is often done as part of a cold answer to people’s suffering. They “did it to themselves”, unlike me, who “just grabbed the bull by the horns and pulled my bootstraps”.
This is the religion of the Devil, who is an “accuser“, leading people to deny their sin, compare to others’ (2 Cor.10:12), and then create strife and even possibly, war from that, along with the rest of “the works of the flesh” (Gal.5). This is basically the “law” of the Kingdom of Hell!

Christ is the Good News that answers all of that (even if not instantly ending all pain). May  people who claim to believe the Gospel learn to really and consistently apply this to their beliefs and teachings.

The Pan-American Gap: the skipped over barrier between the continents

Since in https://erictb.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/a-land-trip-to-the-north-pole-or-as-close-as-you-can-get/ I mentioned the other end of the Western Hemisphere, Tierra Del Fuego, and how it is on an island, creating a break in any drive to the top of South America, I just now happen to find out that there is another break, right in the middle of the journey, in the very section connecting the two continents, going from Panama to Colombia. I had been looking around on Google Maps, and decided to check out what the intercontinental boundary looked like. I had remembered on the old Rand McNally US road atlas, which also had a small page with Mexico and Central America, seeing a “Route {1}” running through the isthmus connecting to South America, that headed to the border (I think I remember it even crossing, and then just disappearing before the edge of the map).
So I figured it crossed, and reading on people’s “Pan American Highway” journeys “From Cape Horn to Alaska” (sometimes even by motorcycle), figured they skipped over that portion (usually flying) because of the human dangers, with all the drug gang warfare and political insurgency in those nations.

Steely Dan’s “Highway [that] runs from Paraguay” that the singer “just came all the way” on (“Turn that Heartbeat Over Again”, the song from the first album that sounds the closest to their later familiar style) playing in my head for months also had me thinking of the continuity.

But now I find that there is actually a dense jungle (or “rainforest”) that the road has never been bullt through. Called the Darién Gap (Sp. “el tapon del Darién“–the plug or stopper), it’s actually about 100 miles long, and the road was constructed as far down as the town of Yaviza, Panama, but then just ends there, and only foot paths continue through the remaining 60 or so miles (these were the local people´s walking trails interconnecting their traditional villages), and you have to cross rivers, marshes/swamps, mountains and valleys. People actually make the hike, but it’s very dangerous, and you can get kidnapped or shot, and even the law enforcment is corrupt or at least hypervigilant, and gives you trouble, and you have to pay them off! And then of course, the wildlife (the typical tropical variety; of spiders*, snakes, scorpions, lizards, wild boars, and a whole bunch of insects including malaria-carrying mosquitoes).
So the “highway from Paraguay”**, or any other part of South America, includes narrow jungle paths that must be hacked through with machetes, and paths through water and bogs as well. (That part of the song was about the infamous drug trafficking through the area, so they have no problem braving all of that to do their shady business).

One expedition using jeeps took two years (741 days) to get through (reading, you forget it’s a short stretch of land that would take only an hour to pass through in normal driving as the video below points out), and then other ones using other vehicles, generally took over a month to a few months (and starting out with several vehicles, at least one would end up being abandoned in the jungle). You see pictures of the big sport vehicles having to be pulled up hills with cables, or metal wheel tracks put down to tread on. They also have to drive across rivers, and one expedition used inflatable rafts to float the cars over. Hikers of course have to wade or swim through, and sometimes use canoes.

Here is a blog article on it: http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/09/darien-gap-most-dangerous-absence-of.html

This article, of a 1980’s walk through the jungle (gives me a Siteadvisor warning for some reason, but it’s just a pdf file) has a map showing the exact path through the Panama segment: http://www.saexplorers.org/system/files/magazine/sae-mag-19c-darien-gap.pdf (South American Explorer, “Making Ends Meet: Walking the Darien Gap”). They had to wrangle with one local to show them the right path, then he brings them to the one he says some jeeps had driven through a few years before (probably the 741 day CJ-5 trip).
On this path, at the border, there is a little clearing with a stone marking the boundary with the names of the respective countries on both sides. It’s called “Palo de la Letra” meaning “tree of the letters”. There was supposedly an actual tree there that people used to write on, but is since gone.
Once in Colombia, they go a little further and reach a place (not shown) called Puente América, which is in the vicinity of a village called Cuenca Cacarica, which is a row of small houses on the banks of the Atrato River (the largest river in the stretch, and also known as “cocaine highway”), and they then take a motorboat up the river to the eastern coast, and across a small Gulf of Uraba, to Turbo, Colombia, which is where the Pan American Highway picks up.

Another hiker was Andrew Egan, who wrote about it in Crossing the Darien Gap (2008). Both of these explorers say the trail ends at a riverside ranger station (at Cristales), and then describe riding down a river they are calling the Cacarica, to the Atrato. They’re probably referring to what the map is calling the Quebrada Timarcuati, which then becomes labeled as a branch of the Atrato before they merge, with the village of Cacaricas on the peninsula of the confluence. He describes the stretch on this river connecting the Palo de la Letra area to the bigger river as “a slender vein of murky water meandering through a mystical sunken forest — a dense bog permanently soaking under a warm waist deep soup” with as far as you can see, “wide trees sprouting from a glassy wet floor. In fact, I don’t feel like we’re traveling along a river at all: I feel more like we’re traveling atop a watery pathway through a ghostly ancient forest.” (p.201-2) It then narrows to where they have to get out and push or pull the dugout canoe through. (according to him, “Puente América” was so named [i.e. “Bridge America”], because it is where the highway is supposed to pass through. He also went out up the Atrato and to Turbo.

Obsessions Die Hard: Motorcycling the Pan American Highway’s Jungle Gap Paperback (1996) is by Ed Culberson, who motorcycled the whole PanAmerican Highway, including the gap. He also has a shorter article on it on South American Explorer, “The
Ever-Dangerous Darien”: http://www.saexplorers.org/system/files/magazine/sae-mag-40d-darien.pdf which has even better map of both portions of the trail
He followed the jeeps to a point, and then veered off another way (on what was the proposed highway route), following his own hired guides. He sheds light on why the jeeps, of the Loren Upton-Pat Merrier expedition of 1985-1988, took 741 days. They, avoiding the Los Katíos National Park, ran into worse terrain, and actually had to abandon the jeep until after the rainy season, then return to make repairs and continue on.

Here is a 1961 video, made to advertize the Chevy Cordair, showing them driving through. https://youtu.be/7EnZKOu4fV4 This is part 2, from Yaviza and beyond; part 1 is getting to Yaviza before the road was constructed that far.
Once at the Palo de la Letra, that’s the end of the trek, and it is not revealed which way they went after that. (in fact, this is the case for most of the expeditions. This site http://www.4wdonline.com/Places/CentralAmerica/Darien.html says they “failed” the attempt to take the three Corvairs across, but that probably refers to only two of them making it).

To continue all by land, the most direct path would likely continue, crossing the Atrato around Cacarica, as the hikers did, and then into Chigorodó, where the PanAm highway passes through as [national] route {62}, a bit further down. This is a really pretty two lane road (the street view was filmed on a nice sunny morning)*** passing through serene looking farmland (and fields with a few trees interspersed, a few of them palms), and occasional houses or businesses, resembling US coutrysides, like the Eastern Shore. (In some places, you can see the start of the Andes, in the distance to the east). The towns however, are rather poor-looking, with dense rows of stores (a typical urban mix of groceries, salons, electronics, etc.) in a mix of older two story commercial buildings with a few taller newly built (and sometimes not finished) ones stuck in among them. The neighborhoods off to the side also dense and poor looking. The setting overall greatly resembles Brooklyn’s East New York, and the smaller older buildings kind of evoke those scenes of antebellum Five Points structures, but in modern color photography (and without all the wooden construction). Most of the houses in the town are the little tin-roofed concrete block bungalows. (Or you see a lot of that red-orange grooved clay “tile” sort of block, with sloppy mortaring, you only see in some early  20th century “false-walls” constructed in pre-war basements here. Many walls are stuccoed as well, of course. Wood I imagine would rot in the moist and rainy tropical atmosphere).

And then, continuing on the journey all on main roads, and with intercity buses available, you come to the somewhat more familiarly named city Medellin, which I always heard in conjuction with “drug cartels”. But it seems the cities of Colombia are safer now, as the gangs are all taking refuge in the jungle, but they still say you should not walk around the streets at night. And from there, the rest of Colombia and South America lies ahead. The capital, Bogota is not too far off to the southeast, with an alternate PanAm route, as the main one, picking up route {25} after Medellin, stays closer to the Pacific, and passes near the city of Cali).

There is no Street View between Mexico and Colombia. In Chigorodó, right where the PanAm veers right (east) to go around the gulf, toward Turbo, Calle 97 (97th Street. And the town begins in the 70’s, not from Calle 1) hangs west. Take it several blocks, to where it ends, then one block over to Calle 96 (whch ended before it could intersect with {26}), which after a rather American looking new public-style housing development on the corner (which was apparently not even built when the satellite view was taken), then heads out of the city, toward the wilderness in the distance. Street View only goes a few hundred feet past there (where the landscape already turns into rural farmland and parkland right behind the housing complex) and then ends. (In several places like this at the edges of the town, the scenery abruptly changes from this urban atmosphere to country road. You just turn a corner, and you’re in farm land!) But the road continues for miles (it soon becomes wooded, apparently, with more farmland interspersed), and branches out into several roads, all shown on the map as ending, in a completely rural locality called Tierra Santa. One branch is slightly longer, and ends in Puerto Amore, a bit further to the south.
Carrera 105 (roughly, “105th Course”), a gravel road ending at {62} a bit further north, on the other side of a small river and which passes the town’s tiny airfield) does the same, ending at a place across the river from Tierra Santa, called Veracruz Li. (There’s no Street View on this road at all).

Puerto Amor is about a third or quarter of the way to the river at Cacaricas, and it’s still lower greenery even around to the river and the village, given the shadows cast by the few bigger trees sticking out. The thicker [darker on the map] greenery begins just west of there. In fact, according to the photo on the Wikipedia article on the river https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atrato_River, it seems the lighter greenery surrounding the river in this entire area looks like grassland! (though from what I’m reading, it’s probably really part of the Atrato marshland or patano, though I thought this was closer to the inlet at the gulf. It’s described as being waters choked with “lettuce-like vegetation” http://travelswithmitzi.blogspot.com/2015/07/lost-in-darien-gap.html Looking at the map, it’s hard to tell where the solid grounds become marsh, but obviously, the roads are on land. There’s also more forests along the river the other direction, further south).
Calle 93 and 94 merge at the end of town, and head out to a place a bit to the south called Bohio, which appears to be flat farmland. (The marked road on the map ends, but in satellite you can see it continues, up to the river that runs to Puerte Amor).

Even closer to the river, is a pair of place names, El Cuarenta and Lomas Aisladas, which has a pretty straight road (25B) leading right to {62} at El Tigre, to the south of Chigorodó! (Culberson calls this “the junction at Guapá”, but I don’t see that name on the map). The end is about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to Cacarica, at the edge of the Los Katíos park! This road is harder to see in satellite the further out you go, and thus may be a path through grass, or something. At it’s “wye” intersection with {62}, it’s gravel, and likewise has no Street View itself. Though the bridge over Rio Leon at Barranqillita has a photo, and is paved, at least. Found out about this one from this video: https://youtu.be/KAubuZYpmOY which shows it as part of a proposal for a road to Palo de la Letra (and several others around the country).

These are the logical roads a complete connection would connect to. It seems the Cuarenta path is the one planners are looking at.
The radial distances:
Chigorodó/El Tigre—Cuarenta: 20 mi
Cuarenta—Rio Atrato and Cacaricas: 12 mi.
Cacaricas—Palo del la Letra: 14 mi.
Palo del la Letra—Yaviza: 35 miles
All of this drama, over these small distances!
(Basically, the gap in the “Pan Am Highway” from the closest overland point is 80 miles, but we can subract the 20 miles that is covered by another road. So the problem area needing to have a road built is 60 miles, nearly evenly divided by the national border. 30+ miles from the Panama highway to the border, and then 30- miles from the border to the nearest Colombia road. The Panama portion is the Darién rainforest. Most of the Colombia portion is the Atrato wetlands, which itself is nearly evenly divided by the river, with the “sunken forest” on one side, and smaller greenery on the other. This is likely the hardest to construct through. Might have to be an extra long “causeway”, or, perhaps a tunnel, but that might be more disruptive to construct).

So the travelers, having exited the jungle by the time they reached the river, were actually very close to the mainland Colombia roads and thus a completely overland trip! (They may have gone toward Turbo to pick up the Pan Am highway at it’s current end, even though this is actually out of the most direct way, and is across the Gulf of Uraba that ends before Chigorodó. So people are perhaps thinking you have to go into Turbo in order to “travel the ‘whole length’ of the highway”. I would skip the section from Turbo to Chigorodó or El Tigre for the sake it it being on land as much as possible. Culberson had also seemed to indicate heading toward Turbo, but on the map in his article, he shows his route as heading up the Atrato a bit, but then entering land again on the other side, and swinging back down to Cuarenta, which was a big detour as again, that village and Cacaricas are so close! It’s just more of the same low greenery inbetween. BTW, there is also an unconnected network of small winding roads to the east of the stretch of Colombia between the border and the river, connecting the coastal town Titumate with Unguia, about half way down to Cacaricas).

However, these peaceful looking meadows or marshes, according to this map: Lost In the Darien Gap is the area inhabited by the Los Urbeños gang, and beyond that, across the river and into Panama, is the FARC 57 militarized front. Between the national border and the river, and where the two turfs intersect around Cacaricas, is where a Swedish hiker was killed (and his remains found later), reportedly because the FARC thought he was a US spy!
This is probably why these other expeditors, after braving the worst of the jungle, then quickly head towards sea as soon as they enter Colombia, even though the actual landscape seems to be a relative breeze from there!

There had been plans to complete the highway (which the US was involved in), but opposition included that it would allow hand-and-foot-diseased cattle to cross over and infect North America cattle, in addition to making it easier for the drug gangs to cross, other tropical diseases, and also disturb the numerous indigenous peoples still living there (in little villages with no roads, and often living in straw huts. They do hand you “dusty bottles of Coca Cola” as the SAE article says. It also said “The people here hope one day to see a bridge spanning the [Atrato] river to complete the PanAmerican Highway”, but also points out how it would alter the local cultures there and “undoubtedly, plant the more loathsome aspects of Panamanian officialdom in that vast wilderness”. The Darkroastblend article points out “Building the road itself will not destroy too much of the forest but the subsequent development of the area would irreparably destroy delicate ecosystems”).
The construction of the road as far as Yaviza has already led to deforestation, with farms and other industry spreading. (It used to be just as much jungle as the area to the south, as can be seen in the first half of the Corvair film, but now is much more clear).
Wikipedia cites this article: http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/the-coming-era-of-mega-systems-part-1-transportation on an idea to “use a combination bridges and tunnels to avoid the environmentally sensitive regions.” (It also mentions other transcontinental connections, including the Bering Strait connecting to Russia, and even the trans-Atlantic tunnel idea).

I wondered what about driving along the coastline (beaches) on either side of the isthmus. The satellite shows sandy beaches in some places, and it’s hard to tell for others. There should be at least some space between the water and the forest. I can’t see the surf going right up to the trees and brush. Perhaps there are some cliffs (where the trees could go to the very edge). You would also still have to deal with the river inlets. To build a road along the cliff, cutting down only the 20 or so feet of forest, and then build bridges over the rivers, should not disturb the inland environment. But it seems no one has even thought of that. (In the 50’s, an amphibious jeep made the trip from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego, taking the water around the roughest portions of the gap

Here, political figure Lyndon LaRouche, in a sort of conspiratorial fashion, claims other [ulterior] reasons they want to stop the project, and says it would be good for everyone, and offers a plan for it: https://youtu.be/_u_dyWnukDE

This post on this site: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Colombia-1753/f/driving-central-south-america.htm says a “hard packed dirt road” has already been cut through most of the way, and that the people saying you can’t drive through are all connected with the shipping industry! (Don’t know how true it is, and this post was 8 years ago already. It’s true that shipping your vehicle around the gap can cost upwards of $1000!) He says “Outside Chicorodo [sic] off 62 northbound you will see a red/white sign with black 51l.. this is where the road starts. It ends at Boca de Cupe which then ties into the highway.” (Boca De Cupe is one of the villages somewhat beyond Yaviza, in the jungle. He initially said only six miles remained, and that might be what he was referring to. By now, that would have likely been finished). I don’t see this sign anywhere in the Street View (at least not in the areas I’ve mentioned, where I think the cutoff would be. It seems signs of that color with numbers are speed signs, usually displaying “30”).
If that were true, and the Chigorodó roads were connected, they would be like a secret “back door” exit to North America. I could imagine an action chase plot, where the pursuers are perhaps expecting the pursuee to head to Turbo, but instead, he stops at one of the gas stations or other businesses in Chigorodó, then cuts out to the rear, winds through the streets to the roads out of town, and heading for the Atrato swamp and the jungles ahead.

I wonder how such an unauthorized-sounding makeshift road would get over the Atrato, and through the surrounding wetlands. (A fixed bridge over the river would be very noticeable, and known about. So for now, it sounds like bunk).
However, this video from five years go seems to show some sort of clearing construction going on, and the commenters are angrily complaining about the forest being destroyed: https://youtu.be/Cv9zMCcDWCA One actually says “I was wondering why the imagery from terra server (google earth) is so low resolution.” (It may simply be part of the other deforestation occuring around the already completed road).

I’ve lost interest in doing the NY—Punta Arena ride, until that section is filled in. To me, to fly or boat over is “cheating”, and then I might as well fly from NY to Colombia! (I also wonder if it is possible to build a bridge over the two mile wide narrowing of the Strait of Magellan. I read it was cliffs, but zooming in with satellite, [as it figures] a section of it is regular low banks —where you drive onto the ferry!
But seeing very familiar looking kinds of countrysides and urban stores, and almost feeling like I’ve made it my [temporary] home, in this electronic journey, I’ve seen that these far off areas, which seemed as remote and otherworldly as another planet, and were so exotic and yet dangerous, are inhabited by the same old humanity as I find right here.

* ** ***[Footnotes in comment]

The Hero and the Parent meet the Father and Son (and Spirit). An example of the Ego States that define type

I’ve been saying a lot recently, that what we call type basically, is, not just any “use” of particular functions, but rather the specific ego-states (archetypal complexes) that support an ego-identity. (We become aware of the activity of these complexes in terms of how close or far a function is from our sense of who we are).
The functions called “preferred”, which provide their initials as the second and third letters of the type code, are not simnply the ones we “use” the “most”, but are basically defined by the complexes known as the Hero and the Good Parent. One conveys the ego’s main state of achieving its goals, and the other is about adapting (hence, taking on a function opposite in individual or environmental orientation, and in taking in or making decisions from information) and thus becomes about “support“. (I’ve seen a suggestion that it is the way in which we develop what Freud called the superego; i.e., it helps us to recognize the value of adapting in ways that aren’t necessarily congenial to our immediate goals, but contribute to our maturity and sense of responsibility. The Hero does chooses to invest selectively in the real world, to trade some of his potential for adaptive power. That’s what the Parental Complex is all about).
All of the other (stack of six) complexes and associated functions are reflections (opposite functions) and “shadows” (opposite orientation and suppressed, usually negative aspects) of these.

An example of this that has been surfacing in my awareness for awhile is my basically 25 year old project on the trinity: http://www.erictb.info/triune.html
Even though I knew nothing about type and the functions back then, I all along felt the states of “Hero” and most notably, “Parent” throughout that.

I entered the faith around 20, from being a skeptic, realizing that religion was often used for mind control. I myself had felt threatened by their constant attacks on evolution, sex before marriage (even though I hadn’t had a chance to engage in that) and liberal policies. I didn’t know much about a lot of deeper doctrinal dissensions within the Church. But somewhere along the way, I had heard about the Trinity (I remember when it was just “religious” name on churches and cemetaries, but didn’t know what it was until later), and how it was yet another counterintuitive doctrine, like literal young earth Creation, the Flood, and all the other miracles, that the Church said was a “mystery” you had “better” believe in in order to be “saved” from Hell; and they condemned all dissenters, first the nonChristians “skeptics”, and naturally, the post-Christian “Unitarian”[and Universalist] church was condemned as “heretics”; but even, as I came to see, some Christian groups (called “cults”) who questioned it, most famously, the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

So I initially had absolutely no stakes in the matter, but it did look suspicious because of the fear tactic used. I studied, reading both the literature of various groups, plus the “orthodox” [evangelical Protestant] “apologists” responses to them in their “cult books”. Armstrongism, which I was drawn toward because of their eschatology, offered what seemed to be a workable view. The Personhood of the Holy Spirit was rejected, bringing it down from three to two “Persons”, and while the Son was still held as co-eternal with the Father (He was actually the “YHWH” of the Old Testament, while the Father was mostly unrevealed), the “unity” [what made the “oneness” between them] was said to be a “Family“.
So one Family with two members. That seemed to explain the “mystery” of “plurality in unity” well, but the problem was, he extended this to all the redeemed in the Resurrection or Rapture, who would then actually become members of the Godhead! This “Family” would expand, as humans are “born into” it, “becoming God…just as Jesus is God”. This part I never went for, as I knew it was out in space. Also, the doctrine of YHWH being the pre-incarnate Son only was not accurate. There were scriptures pointing to YHWH as distinct from the “Lord” that would be incarnate as the Messiah.
(I did look into some of the other sabbathkeeping Church of God groups, which he had broken away from, and held the binitarian position without the “Family” concept. From there, I also looked into other views, such as a biblically based ⦅if it were possible⦆ unitarianism ⦅such as in the Way International, and the Texas “House of YHWH” sects⦆; and modalism ⦅held by a lot of Pentecostals⦆ briefly sounded nice as well. I steered clear of stuff like Mormonism, which simply declared the three Persons as separate “Gods”, in addition to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claimed that God created Jesus as the archangel Michael, who then created the universe under God’s orders. (In trying to maintain “only one God”, they actually have this lesser, second “god” [which would be something called a “demiurge”] beside Him, which Jehovah had clearly denied in Isaiah!)

While some of these doctrines were ridiculous, I did remain put off by the way the “mainstream” apologists would just condemn any alternative to the standard theory (just for it being different), keep pushing “God’s incomprehensibility” as the ultimate defense, and not see how problematic it was (and often presupposed into many texts), leading to all this dissension in the first place. (Like the Virgin Birth, another one attacked in the skeptical world, does not even have all of this dissent from Christian groups like those. It makes more sense, even if you don’t think it’s scientifically viable).

I eventually find out about something called “economic Trinitarianism”, which in a way was like a cross between the standard view and modalism. God was the Father (like unitariamism teaches), and the Son and Spirit were present in His divine essence (like modalism teaches), and yet were differentiated at the Son’s “generation” at His birth (like the unitarians again), and the Spirit’s “procession”, where He interacts with men, now that the Father and Son are gone back to Heaven from the earth. So they can now be treated as distinct “entities” (like Trinitarianism teaches).
This was actually the view held by the orthodox Church before they began further codifying the doctrine (at the behest of the emperor who was making the Church the official religion of the empire) with more explicit, yet unbiblical and thus confusing language, at Nicaea in the fourth century.

It was revived in the middle ages by a Catholic defector named Michael Servetus, which nevertheless drew the wrath of Protestant leader John Calvin, who (along with all the other Protestant reformers, and the Catholics) would accept nothing but the Nicene formula (as if it was scripture itself), leading to his fiery execution.
It was when I read about this in the encyclopedia, that I looked more into Church history, and actually found very similar views in second and third century fathers such as Tertullian, Irenaeus and especially Hippolytus.

So as I gathered all of this information, I started writing the project. A natural outline came to me, as starting from the problematic original “three Person” doctrine, and then working my way down to the seemingly “ideal” (most easily comprehendable) position of only one Person; exploring each position, and its strengths, proof-texts, and weaknesses.

The Hero and the Parent go to work

As the “Hero”, I had gone through “the whole gamut” (as I described in my presentations of the manuscript to people and publishers), sorting through all the different doctrines and scriptural justifications (“proof-texts”), and determined individually (i) what was most likely “correct” (T). Hence, “introverted Thinking” as the “heroic” function.

So as I sat down and put together this thesis, I also, even back then, not thinking in terms of archetypes/complexes/ego states or cognitive functions and type, felt this strong “parental” sense, of “leading” my readers (“by the hand”) through this “gamut” of confusion, all concerning the environment (e) of various “abstract” objects, being “concepts” of (N) of theology. Hence, “extraverted iNtuition“, looking at the “possibilities” each of the doctrinal positions presents, and sorting through them to try to arrive at the most probable. Even now, when I think back to writing this, I feel like I was being a “parent”.

The Hero and Parent used their confident, mature “knowhow” to bravely tackle centuries of doctrinal confusion (that many could not find their way through), and come up with what I described there as the “concordance point” of all the theologies, and that makes it seem less incomprehensible. (And the same with articulating these typological concepts, which also are often bound up in a mess of confusion that needs to be sorted out!)

Two other associated complexes

Further evidence, is that the Hero is “shadowed” by another complex, which is sort of a “negative hero”, that conveys a sense of “obstruction”, and reverses the orientation of that dominant thinking. I was always greatly put off by the way the “orthodox” apologists simply relied on an environmental (e) consensus of what was “correct” (including interpretation of scripture), in the teaching of the “historic Church”. Cited in my book, you had leading apologist Walter Martin’s almost iconic statement concluding one of his rebuttals to Armstrongism: “The Christian Church has always understood unity in Trinity, and Trinity in unity, the full understanding of which God has reserved to Himself until…Christ delivers the kingdom to His Father…(1 Cor.15:28)” (Herbert W. Armstrong and the Radio Church of God). The popular “Radio Bible Class” booklets my grandmother had, had one that stated (mentioning doctrines like the trinity): “These things were settled long ago by the church. The early leaders met in special councils to work them out, and there is no reason to doubt their decisions. To revive these things is unnecessary. To make matters worse, it adds to the confusion already existing in the minds of the untaught.” (R.W. DeHaan, How to Recognize a Good Church, p.31).

This is the extraverted Thinking position. And to me, it felt like an obstruction to [the real] truth, and provoked a strong “oppositional” feeling, which characterizes the “Opposing Personality Complex” that shadows and also “backs up” the “Heroic Personality Complex”. It would then turn to the same environmental (external, objective) authority, “historic” Church writings (helped greatly by the book Early Christian Doctrines by JND Kelley and the Westminster-Knox published Christian Doctrine, by Shirley Guthrie) to support the Hero’s judgment. Many bishops back then were reluctant to sign the Creed, because of its symmetrical language, but went with it because it was truer than the others (and there was also politics involved as well).
Symmetries (such as the oft drawn images of three perfectly “co-equal” and “co-eternal” entities that were supposed to be the Persons of the Godhead) are the domain of introverted Thinking, however the function will also determine when a symmetry doesn’t fit the rest of the data. Extraverted Thinking, while striving for precision in implementation of decisions, is not as precise in the actual framing of it. Whatever is most efficient, externally is what’s automatically “correct”. The Nicene formula “worked” for the Church, so no further clarification is needed. When people question it, we have a ready answer to people trying to understand an “infinite God”. (They would only add attempts to illustrate and philosophize it, as Augustine and countless others did, which only raised more questions).

So the Hero then set out to determine individually what was truth. The objective “environment” of men and their religious councils were not seen as trustworthy. The Church and its “consensuses” had long favored things that were flat out wrong (like colonial chattel slavery and racism, the conspicuously absent “sins” in their polemics on morality in America. They were not just morally “bad” [F] but also theologically and sociologically false [T]).
Sometimes, individuals need to sit down and determine things like this themselves, free from the baggage of what others determine. (I see the other way, as “not thinking”, but rather “letting others think for you”. But then they see my way as not really thinking, as they mistrust “subjectivity” in favor of total “objectivity”, and think in terms of stuff like “common sense”, where what’s “true” or “correct” is always set by the environment).

Seeing how they so strongly rejected dissension did produce a fear of being wrong, especially since I had found no religious group that held my exact views, and by the time of writing this, had settled on “new-evangelicalism” as the best shot for “fellowship”. I nervously offered my manuscript to some leaders, and they actually seemed impressed. While staunchly holding to the standard Trinity doctrine, they were aware that the language and formulation of it were really not exact.
So while not giving in on what the religious environment (e) said was “correct”, I was impacted on the desire to be seen as [personally] “good” (F) by it. Even before finding those fellowships, I used to be jealous of the apologists, seeing their egos were so invested in this doctrine that so insulted the intelligence of myself and others, and imagined they in their Sunday services being so respected, and in unity with the members; looked up to for valiantly keeping the “error” of those other doctrines out.
This was the reflection of the hero, inferior extraverted Feeling, connected with an “inferiority” complex.

(The remaining primary archetype, the “child” or Puer, which associates with the tertiary function, doesn’t figure much in this area for me, because I wasn’t raised as a Christian, and thus didn’t have any tangible (S) experiences to have retained individually (i), and thus reminisce on, as I do with other experiences. I just remember church being boring, and not understanding what it was all about, and then growing up and seeing how it was used to control people or keep people locked in past culture).

So this is an example of how my deductive reckoning operates according to my type, and its functions, as differentiated by the ego states. Other types would likely approach the whole thing very differently. They could see the logic and possibilities of the concepts, but their hero and parent would divide the data differently.

 

Next Step: the Transgender Debate

Right on the heels of the major victory for the “LG” part of “LGBT” with the homosexual marriage law of last year; now the “T” part of it has filled political debate and social media, with a controversy I saw coming years ago, of which bathrooms transgender people use. Of course, it has fired up conservative Christian leaders, who I’m sure feel “bum rushed”, with one concession to what they see as an “immoral” lifestyle forced on them right behind another.
When I read of what they’re claiming Obama is doing and the statement “How the world has changed! Who would have believed a day would come during my lifetime when …“, it takes me back to the 80’s, when Christians were still fighting abortion, pornography, fornication and evolution, declaring these things as proving the nation had “fallen” into total sin and become the new “sodom”. They condemned homosexuality too of course, but all of that was nothing compared to the news of these past two years, where its total acceptance has actually become the law of the land, but now this other sexual ‘deviation’ is come to the forefront right behind it. Not only that, but in both issues, the ages of people making these decisions as to their “preferences” have gotten surprisingly young! Younger than 10, even!

What’s striking to me is the rhetoric coming from both sides of the issue.

James Dobson: Kill Transgender People Using Public Bathrooms
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/05/james-dobson-kill-transgender-people-using-public-bathrooms

“If this had happened 100 years ago, someone might have been shot. Where is today’s manhood? God help us!” From this, the “bottom line” is “Dobson is dangerous”.

He’s not actually saying “let us kill transgender“, and it’s not really honest to spin it that way. HOWEVER, it IS holding up the “old days”, which Conservative Christians always extol as ideal as far as “morality” and stuff like “manhood” (brings to mind Archie Bunker’s “Those Were the Days” song), even with all of the horrors that did occur back then, which is what’s indirectly implying that killing them is some sort of good thing.
To me, this similarly indirectly suggests that perhaps society was better with racism. After all, Civil Rights occurred in that same 60’s decade that God was supposedly “thrown out” of society with the school prayer ban, and then of course the sexual revolution. The same religious conservatives who claimed America had “turned away from God” with these two acts, at the time were generally silent on race issues, but if you looked under the surface, especially with the coded “dog-whisle” rhetoric that began during the period, you clearly see they were on the side of discrimination, seeing blacks or their influence as a central part of societal degradation, including the sexual revolution itself, and through their forms of music, seen as “sensual”, which also became ever more influential during the same time, as well as social programs made to benefit them, which came to be blamed on all the nation’s financial problems in addition to encouraging the people’s “laziness” and other bad behaviors. You have many, in attacking these programs, who claim the blacks were actually better off before the 60’s, and including even the slavery era! That hardscrabble looking Duck Dynasty man even claimed this, in recent years!
So the “silence” of conservatives was hiding their true belief, which they could then vigorously deny if confronted. They didn’t actually say blacks should still be oppressed or enslaved. But it was very remotely implied.

So this is why people will look at this statement about transgender people in the same way.

Still, “In short, Dobson is giving Christians permission to shoot transgender people using a public bathroom” is an even further stretch that is even less true. Just like you are taking their statements to imply something totally exaggerated, they then take your statements like this to prove you are all “liars” who are “falsely slandering” them (i.e. aiding their massive “martyrdom” complex), and that becomes their means of dismissing everything you say, as an “attack” and plot to “destroy” Christianity!
And then, again, Christians should stop implying that the violent and hateful/bigoted ways they did things in the “old days of the rugged frontier” were always better or right.

“Politics” as usual

The proof that this is political and not theological, is that while “5000 year old definition of marriage” would be theological (based on Genesis, of course), it always comes back to “Western Civilization”. Western Civilization (the European-based or ruled cultures anchored by the Greco-Romans and the Teutons, including eventually the Anglos) was not what was created in Genesis; it was the whole world (and the 5000 year mark or 1000 years after the commonly accepted 6000 year old creation, which would occur between chapters 5 and 6 according to the popular Archbishop Ussher dates, is still before the Flood and the spread of humanity leading to the modern nations).

By tying it all on “Western Civilization”, you basically confirm to the world that you are not speaking on behalf of the God of Creation, but rather your own “culture” with its presupposition of “exceptionality”. This is why no one is listening to you, and have regarded your belief system as manmade. Why should they order their lives by it, then? (Which is what is essentially being expected in preaching against the lifestyles).

My own perspective

In pop culture, the most famous transgender person when I was growing up was tennis star Billie Jean King, who went male to female in the 70’s, IIRC. That was really the only one I knew of.

Like with regular homosexuality, any gender issues were like the worst abnormality a person could have, even in a secular black community. The rap “New York, New York” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (in ’83, at the end of the “message rap” era of early hiphop they had inspired with the previous year’s “The Message” that this was the followup to) has the line

Down in the Village, you might think I’m silly, but you can’t tell the women from the men sometimes…
‘Sugar and spice and everything nice’, but when you get ’em home, ain’t no tellin’ what you find

Even in the “Roxanne War” that would occur a couple of years later (https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/the-roxanne-war-complete-chronology-of-hip-hops-greatest-saga), one entry claims the girl Roxanne was actually a man who “turned sweet” from being raped in prison, and suffered from the “disease” [this is a spoof of “Doctor Ice’s” rap from the original “Roxanne, Roxanne” track which they rapped over the instrumental on] called

‘Sissy homotosis’, meaning ‘chopping off his meat’;
that’s a special operation that changed what you see.
He said ‘ooh [feminine voice] that’s what I need, chile’.
Gave me his number; said call me at three…

(This then is what would happen on later rapper Tone Loc’s fictional story “Funky Cold Medina” with his realization “‘Sheila’ is a man!“).

I would ocasionally see androgynous looking females, and wonder if they were these “freaks” who went and changed their sex. (This was also mentioned on the Nona Hendrix song “Transformation”).

Forward to the new millennium and the Transit job, everyone had heard about one dispatcher who changed from male to female (and they had to replace his red male employee pass to a blue female one). In fact, it was said he did it to be with a lesbian, who ironically then dumped “her” (and we were also warned to get the pronouns right, around her). In School Car (which included a very outspoken older gay male, returning to the job reportedly, to collect benefits for his partner, which became a big fight later on), on telling us about the dispatcher, I heard the graphic details about how a penis was turned into a vulva. (Splitting it down the middle and “turning it inside out”, etc). I was still an evangelical futurist, that believed all sex “deviations” were perverted “offenses” against God that must be condemned in our doctrine, and repented of (renounced and turned from) in order to be “right with God”; so it further confirmed to me how “sick” it was.
I did see this person at times with no problem, and she eventually since retired. It was the first confirmed transgender person I had seen.

Shortly after, you had Cher’s daughter Chastity Bono take the opposite transformation, from female to male (adopting the name “Chaz”).

The next one in my life was actually an online typology friend, who was my type (INTP, and also possibly a Supine in Inclusion), and was very prominent on one of the boards. It took a while before I even realized she was a “transwoman”. They did a really good job on her face (with a set of bubbly cheeks that to me defines female facial beauty), and you really can’t tell by pictures. She began a “blog” thread on her journey (and I think an offsite blog as well), cluminating on the big “clear-on-the-other-side-of-the-world” trip to eastern Asia for the final, “bottom surgery”.
During this time, I began seeing the term “cisgendered” a the opposite of “transgendered”, and “cis-male” or “cis-woman” as opposed to “trans-male” [i.e. “FTM”] and “trans-woman” [“MTF”])

We are “friends” both on the board and on Facebook/Twitter, and met on one of our NYC typology meetups, which she came up to from the mid-Atlantic. (This was right before the operation trip). I even discussed with her a phase I was going through a few years ago, which ties into what I was discussing here: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/solar-vs-lunar-in-gender-dynamics-and-individuation regarding the midlife “anima” issues. I certainly felt a part of myself that is jealous of the experience of “the other side” (which the anima/animus complex is partly about), though I knew I would never want to go and change over like that. (And the person said I seem like a “red-blooded heterosexual cisgendered male” which of course, I never doubted anyway).

Of couse, what further sparked off this current debate was another celebrity, that no one would ever imagine, as he was a symbol of manhood, athlete Bruce Jenner, making the change a couple of years or so ago!

Their [apparent] perspective

So like with basic homosexuality, there must be a lot more to it than just some “sex perversion”. I of course think of ‘what everyone would think’, and it would be permanent, and I won’t want to live the rest of life as what to me is “someone else”.  I myself believe that you should not alter the body God has given you, and still cringe at that whole procedure, and all the money and going far away to a strange place to have it done, and then all the things that can go wrong with the operation. But I realize that I cannot project this feeling onto others, and tell them how to “get over it”, or whatever.

So now considering that this person has my same type, which includes the perspective of “extraverted Feeling” as the “inferior Function” (which is also what the anima/animus connects to), which is the perspective  that led me to think of what others (the “environment”, which is what makes the function “extraverted”) would “feel” (i.e. judge as “bad” or “good) about it, she had to be going through an awful lot to go against the grains of what her family background (which is fairly “conservative Christian” at that) thinks of it (leading to a divorce), in addition to anyone else (religious or secular) who knew her her whole life and may think it’s crazy, or at least to fear they might think that. I know I could never do it, even if I thought I might be a woman.

Anyone of any type (including those for whom extraverted Feeling is “shadow” or totally unconscious, where their primary Feeling is introverted, meaning individually assessed) can be afraid of what others think. But when the function is in that “inferior” position,  you are particularly “vulnerable” in that perspective. You may not give into it a lot, as it is the diametric opposite of your dominant perspective (in this case, “introverted Thinking”, which is individually assessed logic), but you do deep down “aspire” to it, and hence, it being so frail and touchy.
So for this person to go through with all of that, there must be some sort of real psychological legitimacy to it, or at least, I can’t tell them what they should do. So now, I believe the issue is likely hormonal, as I also believe with sexual “orientation”. The hormones shape both orientation and identity. Christians think this contradicts us being created as individual “souls”, but created by God as tripartite entities (1 Thess.5:23), we are affected by the physical body/brain chemistry. The condemnation for the affects of those things we can’t help is from man’s own partaking of the “knowledge of good and evil”, and Christ’s whole mission was to remove that condemnation, not transform us into behaviorally “ideal” beings for the purpose of qualifying for Heaven.

God’s Perspective: Law and Grace

Under the “Law” outlined in the Old Testament (which did overlap with the New Testament until the final “end” of the old “age”) God was addressing this ill-gotten “knowledge”  by making a lot of seemingly “personal” or even harmless and unhelpable things “unclean” or “unfit” (basically, “odd”), which then signified “unholy“. This included such common and natural things as menstruation, leprosy, human waste in itself (as when improperly covered), pork and shellfish as food, and even going as far as mixed fabric garments! (Many of which the church has glossed over, and not explained well, leading to strong derision of the Bible from much of the “science”-savvy modern world. In the case of the latter two, the Church then claims “the Law is done away with”, but only for commands like those, while sabbatarian sects will counter with the inconsistency of that position; yet all agreeing on sexual issues). In particular incidences, commands were so strict regarding things like how to carry the Ark of the Covenant in a cart, or what kind of fire to use in sacrifices. Priests entering the main altar had to have a rope tied to them, to be pulled out from having been struck dead if they did something wrong.
So sexual issues such as homosexuality and transvestitism were strongly condemned in the Law. Transgenderism wasn’t, but of course would be an extension of those.

The Gospel (which the New Testament Christians had an “earnest” of, but were waiting for the fullness of) was about an essential reversal of “knowledge of good and evil” through grace; which is God not counting those sins (transgressions of the law that defines good and evil) against them (2 Cor. 5:19). Much of the post-apostolic Church did not realize that the end of the age was the destruction of the Temple in AD70 (which was still relatively “shortly” as promised by Jesus and the rest of the New Testament, and where the whole Law was mediated from, but had gone corrupt by its leaders —who were just as susceptible to transgressions as everyone else, but used their position to oppress others with the Law). So they  eventually came to think the “end of the age” (which was often interpreted as “world”) meant the end of the entire physical globe, or even universe. Physical creation, including physical humanity, were themselves “fallen”, and needed to be “renewed”, or else destroyed.
Christians then were presumably left still running a “race” to full redemption, where they would be judged by their “behavior” at the end. “Holiness” (“without which no one shall see God”, Heb.12:14) was something we choose to have, though behaviors. (“Grace” then becomes the pardon of past sins, plus some divine “help” God gives us to try to stop sinning afterward. If anyone doesn’t abide by this, then they can be questioned as to whether they’ve been “regenerated”, or at least preached against as a “carnal” Christian. If anyone says they can’t do it, or even “struggles” too much, they must not really be trying).

But in the transition from Law to Grace, they did have to “take on” the covering of Christ’s blood, by “faith” (which was of course a “choice” of the “will”), while still abiding by parts of the Law (which of course involved “effort”, or more “choices” of the “will”), to avoid falling under the condemnation of or by that system. Once gone, the condemnation was gone as well, and holiness” is what God sees when He looks at man through Christ (who is the one who lived the Law perfectly, and was the only man ever fully, truly “holy” in behavior, and thus able to take the penalty of the Law in our stead). In other words, the “firstfruits of salvation” Paul wrote to had a conditional temporary salvation where “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom.8:1). This was by “choice”; hence, the “walk” (and “flesh” meant trusting in their inheritance or their efforts at keeping the Law, as the following verses make clear). But this was only to last a short time (16:9).

The current issue

So if a person’s sexual behavior or identity is “odd”, then that’s the person’s own business, so long as it does not interefere with anyone else.
Which gets us to the next part of the issue, and what’s been making news so much these days.

What conservatives have been expressing their fears in terms of are that if we accommodate transgender people, by “allowing people to use the bathroom of the gender ther identify as” it will basically lead to “men walking into ladies’ rooms” and attacking women. “Do you want some man walking into the bathroom with your wife or daughter“, aggravated memes are often asking. Continuing Dobson’s statement from the article about the “day in his lifetime”, “…boys could meander into the private sanctuary of girls’ toilets, or that it would someday be a civil right for men to use women’s locker rooms and showers without permission or apology?”
But just what do you mean “men”? They’re obviously looking at the born gender of the person and refusing to accept the changed gender. The first thing I thought, was of my friend, who looks like a woman and uses ladies’ rooms. So anyone seeing this would just see another woman using the ladies’ room (even in the bottom “pre-op” state), and they have been doing so for years, and there was no known greater threat to women. As liberal memes are countering, why should you even know what they are in the first place?

Hi. Just checking if you have a penis or a vagina. I don't want YOU to make ME feel undomfortableIf we're in the bathroom together and you know what genitals I have... YOU are the one doing something inappropriate

They’re also pointing out, that it’s really telling that the issue focuses on “men in ladies’ rooms”, and that it betrays their own distrust of [all] men as [potential] sex-perverts, and the leaders of this battle, as usual, being men themselves. It’s ultimately themselves they are basically fearing! This is basically another projection of the darkness within themselves. They see it in imagined “others”, and then proceed to fight it strongly in them, but the way it ends up, the logic is off, hence not matching what others are actually actually doing or even aiming to do.

The plot thickens: more “genders” enter the picture!

However, I then also realized that part of the whole fight is not just acceptance of male-to-female and female-to-male transitions (which still maintain what’s called “gender-binary” definitions), but a move away from binary “genders” altogether.

Already, on one of the two type boards I have frequented for about 7-8 years, each member’s mini profile that appears on posts, includes gender, with the two standard blue or pink symbols for male and female, but also a gray circle for “undetermined” or “other”. While the MtoF person I discussed earlier now uses the pink female symbol, I see many with the gray circle! If they have a picture of themselves, they are usually very androgynous.
I also got to meet a person like that at a semiregular official typology meetup I began going to a few years ago. I had been on one of the boards helping a female I believed was ENTP, but having uncertainties about the type (largely around the T/F dichotomy, as many people, especially female T’s, often do). So I wanted to ask a female ENTP something about a particular part of their experience, to verify what I was saying to this person. (There was the ENTP female at the center of our earlier interest forum meetups I mentioned, and while she moved to Maine, we are still hooked up on Facebook, and I’m sure I asked her, but wanted to ask another person). At these new meetups, we have name stickers with our type, and so I see this female looking person who’s ENTP, and begin talking to her, but then she says she doesn’t really identify as female, though to me, she looked close enough, though basically androgynous.

It then sunk in how serious this “third gender” was (and this, last year, and still before the whole current debate really blew up). It actually can go beyond just a third” gender”. With a whole bunch of fine variations, I see claims of up to 63 “genders”!
The term “queer”, which was originally a synonym for “weird”, which then became a derogatory term for homosexuals, then accepted as an alternative term by the gay community (especially since even the “orientations” can be “fluid”), now has spread from “orientation” to “gender” itself: “genderqueer“. (And hence, is sometimes added to the “community” acronym as “LGBTQ“).

This now really adds a new turn to the debate. It’s these “genderqueer” people who really are ultimately at the center of the debate, even if the conservatives aren’t specifically identiying them as such (they tend to lump all “queer” people into the same pot anyway, so it doesn’t even matter. They’re all “ruining” us as a nation). For again, they won’t even know a non-cisgendred person is in the bathroom with them with the first person I mentioned. But what bathroom does the second person use? (Our meetups were in a park, and there is some bathroom somewhere, but I didn’t see which one “they” [the plural pronoun really becoming popular as a singular gender-neutral indicator now, see https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/3626 ] used).

Part of the debate is the need to create essentially a third restroom, which as I said in the Homosexuality article (https://erictb.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/homosexuality-in-light-of-the-chick-fil-a-controversy-and-all-the-other-debate-about-it), would be cost and insfrastructure prohibitive in most places. (Though many places do already have a third bathroom, for the handicapped). So it’s like this person has to choose one of the existing gender-binary facilities most of the time. But which? I think part of the law being passed (if I heard correctly) is that they can choose whichever. With the person I saw, who looked more female, that is not as much of a problem. (I imagine they are more the ones becoming “vulnerable”, as a female-looking person, if they choose to use a men’s room. I’m sure they will tend to gravitate toward ladies’ rooms). It’s the ones who look more male that are the problem, and (most importantly) also the fear of cis-males exploiting the law to pretend to be genderfluid, and then attack women.

Also, I think the current controversy, regarding several store chains, like Target, with “gender neutral” bathrooms, might not be about a third bathroom, but just abolishing separate rooms altogether, in favor of an “all gender bathroom”.
If that’s the case, then that’s an understandable problem. Though still, you’re not going to be in the same stalls as the next person, and so the point of those memes still stands. (I’ve also seen it pointed out that portable toilets, as used in outdoor locations, are already basically “all gender” bathroom stalls).

What do we do?

So I really don’t know what the exact solution to this is. It’s something where people disagree strongly, and won’t change their minds, and yet the “progressive” side has gotten the upper hand. The president enforced a strong ruling with stiff penalties for companies, that naturally makes him look like “King Obama”, raising the natural squeals of conservatives already claiming he’s a “tyrant” who has done so much to destroy what they see as the values of the nation. I could say that the liberals are at fault for not understanding people’s feelings and pushing these things too fast, but then it so parallels the race issue of 50 years ago and more, which also were claimed to being “pushed” on people too fast. (Conservatives really don’t know how much they shot themselves in the foot with that one and others, so now, any claim of “discrimination” will be seen as needing to be made right, and any opposition to it will be seen as bigotry that must be swiftly eliminated).

For now, I guess all I can do is point out to Christians, that though you think people are simply “deceived” or whatever, the issue is not about “Western Culture”, which is what you identify with, thus infusing “ego” into the matter, and thus making it not totally objective and about God (i.e. “theological”). Also, for the progessives to watch it with the exaggerations.
All of this makes it less likely for people on each side to take the other seriously. And it raises an emotional charge that clouds your vision (and hence, accusing the wrong people of the wrong things at times). Which then further damages your cause. So even if one side feels threatened in the bathroom now, and the other feels discriminated against otherwise, you all can still argue your case in the public sphere, but without so much hostility.

Recordable 5 inch optical discs: 20 years later

When the Compact Disc-Digital Audio (CD-DA) arrived on the scene in 1982 (along with the LP-sized video LaserDisc), and with knowledge of computers abounding, where you heard of “hard disks”, “floppy disks” (both magnetic; the latter essentially tape material shaped as a disk), and then “ROM” (read-only memory) and “RAM” (random access memory), I wondered, if they could have CD-ROM, then why not a “CD-RAM”, that could be recorded, erased and rewritten just like tape, but having the easy access eliminating the need to rewind and fast forward, as was a benefit of the old records. Since I understood the process of both CD and LD pressing, with actual binary “pits” (representing a “1”, where the unmodified “lands” represented “0”, creating standard digital bits) melted into the reflective substrate, it figured that those probably couldn’t be made re-recordable. So I imagined them using a floppy disk that would be adapted to audio use. Nothing of the sort ever surfaced, and I never even heard such an idea proposed. (There were later other harddisk-like formats such as “Zip” and “Jaz”; man, forgot all about those, but these were only PC drives).


1988: Newspaper article (http://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/22/business/company-news-cd-that-is-erasable-introduced-by-tandy.html and have or had the clip of it, which I was going to scan for the article, but can’t find it right now, may have gotten rid of it) on a “recordable CD”; Tandy “THOR-CD” (Tandy High Intensity Optical Recording CD). Supposed to be a fully recordable and erasable/rerecordable CD that would be fully playback compatible with existing CD players.
http://www.1000bit.it/ad/bro/trs/Tandy-Thor-CD.pdf

1991: This was mentioned again in Future Stuff book; still nowhere on the horizon. (It also mentioned “left-handed sugars” that would pass through your system undigested, which never came out, “fake fat”, which did soon surface commercially, as “Olestra” in potato chips, and electric cars, which are finally catching on now!)

I did hear of high end recordable CD’s that were over $1000, and thus not consumer marketable, and only later did I learn that these were not erasable. This was the early “CD-R” format, or other variants known as “WORM” (write once, read many), or “CD-WO”. (I would later imagine a fully erasable one could be called “WREN”: write-read-erase-neverending, and hope that someday soon, “the bird [wren] would catch the worm”!)


What came out at that time instead was the Sony Mini-Disc; a 2 inch version of a different family of recordable discs known as “magneto-optical”. It’s basically optical like a CD, but has a cobalt layer that can be heated to its “Curie point”, which changes its magnetic properties. Data is then written with a magnetic field. Because this data is much more sensitive (to external distortions such as smudges, fingerprints, etc), all MO’s (including MD) were encased in cartridges. They also used a kind of data compression that allowed it to fit on such smaller media, and also supposedly removed background noise, which would be good for recordings from analog records and tapes. An ad pamphlet had a guy almost jumping for joy, shouting “I CAN RECORD ON A DISC!”
At a whopping $700 for just a little MD Walkman, even in my single and financially free state, it was not only initially way out of range, but it seemed so wasteful that I could not bring myself to even try to save up for one.

In the mid-90’s, I was fascinated when my brother got his first Play Station, which was based on CD’s rather than chip cartridges. It was fully compatible with audio CD’s, which could play in the game console, while game discs would play game music or other audio in audio CD players. (Nintendo held out on optical discs for several more years, promising instead a floppy-drive sort of add-on. I now see that Play Station was originally a joint venture between them and Sony, which soon fell apart).
The data side of these game discs was nearly black! Of course now, we completely take for granted all the 5 inch discs and systems being cross-compatible, but this was a first back then!

While optical discs hold the game data like the cartridges did, since they are not writable, input such as your progress in the game had to be stored in the console itself, and would not be accessible if you took the game to your friend’s house, or the console was damaged or factory reset. I had thought a rewritable disc would be the perfect complete replacement of cartridges. Perhaps special hybrid disc with both read-only space to hold the game data, and rewritable space to hold your input. IIRC, I may have once sent the idea in, but it seems no one ever thought of it, and to this day, the input data continues to reside in the console.

Forward to 1996. In my 9-11 essay, I mentioned that on monthly Fridays, after work (the courts still), I would head over to the NYDivision Electric Railroaders Association meeting, then at the College of Insurance (later St. Johns) on Washington St. or West St. I would swing over to 5WTC, and the Border’s store, and there, one day, I ran across a magazine entitled CD-ROM Professional that had a story on what was now being dubbed “CD-E” (“erasable”; “Call it Erasable, Call it Rewritable, but Will It Fly?”, Hugh Bennett, 9-96). Unlike the proprietary THOR-CD (by now, dead in the water and sarcastically dubbed “Vapordisc”), this technology was by the CD consortium spearheaded by Philips and Sony, which defined the different optical disc technologies by an extensive series of colored “books”.

The article broke this all down, along with breaking down how disc reading and recording worked. This new CD erasure format was something called “phase-change”, rather than MO. This heated a AgInSbTe alloy from a reflective crystalline form to a less reflective amorphous state. This of course could be reversed.
It would not necessarily need a cartridge but might have an optional caddy (a picture of one was shown, revealing the deep rainbow lustred steel gray silver of the erasable media).
I was so excited at this coming out!

(Meanwhile, I never saw how the THOR-CD technical process would have worked, but this followup Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/27/business/business-technology-the-broad-potential-of-tandy-s-cd-system.html pointing out that this was because “Tandy has been tight-lipped about technical details, saying that it planned to license the method widely before disclosing particulars”, suggests that it would use actual pits or dimples like a CD, melted into the substrate by a laser. “To erase a bit of information, a laser, tuned to a different wavelength and set to a different power, ‘smooths out’ the dimple.”
That would make sense, as to why it would be fully compatible with CD players. But apparently, the un-overcomable obstacle they faced was finding the right alloy this could be done on, many times. Hence, all the recordable formats that made it to market relied on simulating the pits by changing the reflectability of the material in one way or another).

The issue also mentioned DVD-ROM, the new 4.7GB yet CD-sized video-oriented disc which was just getting ready to come out at the time, and forecasted the subsequent likewise development of DVD-R and even DVD-E (at the time embodied by all OEM’s under the “DVD-RAM” name! Somewhere, there was even a picture of a proposed Panasonic DVD-RAM device, as a camcorder!)

I read that article over and over. (On the “Saturday” article, I mentioned taking it to read in the quiet CCNY NAC building hallway while my wife was in class one sunny morning, sitting in the window of the atrium), just waiting for the day all of these new erasable discs would be available, and I could finally get rid of audio and video cassette tapes for good.
It was so cool to have this magazine that would allow me to follow the development).

So as I now followed this development, by the 1-97 issue, CD-ROM Professional was renamed E-Media Professional (as it was no longer just about CD’s), and the “E” was officially changed to “RW” (“rewritable”). The familiar old “COMPACT disc” logo was modified, with both “Recordable” and “Rewritable” added below.

This issue also had an article on DVD mentioning the idea of blue and even violet lasers. (The other development occurring simutaneously that I was into was the development of blue LED’s, allowing eventual full color display capability ⦅which would have no such readily available information outlet as I now had for recordable discs. I just started seeing them late in the decade when they arrived, around the same time as the technology we are discussing here; one early DVD player having a cyan LED indicator light! See https://erictb.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/my-chronology-of-color-leds⦆
Blue LED’s would also greatly affect the optical disc world by eventually allowing blue reading lasers, whose shorter wavelengths would allow for thinner grooves, increasing the capacity! CD’s used longer wavelength infrared lasers, while the DVD’s coming out then used 650nm red ones).

I was unaware that a parallel CD-like technology had already come out around all this time, called “Phase-change Dual” (PD), also by Panasonic. I would eventually see a few of these sold at the J&R Music World computer outlet, which being on Park Row was another stop along the way from the Five Points area to the west side. As this was actually the 650MB analog to the upcoming DVD-RAM, it would technically be the “CD-RAM” I once imagined, though never called that.
Both used a variation of the phase-change technology that was sectored differently, also resulting in it being more sensitive and needing a cartridge like MO discs (however, DVD-RAM would have an option of removability). You could actually see the marks where sectors end, on the surface of the discs, which appeared as jagged parallel lines across the face of the disc; called “hash-marks”). I don’t know why PD was never considered for an audio format.

Another competing format that was apparently already 10 years old, but was now slowly surfacing more was Digital Audio Tape (DAT) or Digital Compact Casette (DCC), which basically was the alternative to MD. These offered both improved audio (from being digital, and more data was squeezed in from being aligned laterally on the tape), and also silence-detection, so that breaks between tracks could be picked up and more quickly skipped to. (I had seen a regular audio player that could do that one as well). Still, for me, psychologically, it was still a breakable or tangle-prone plastic ribbon, that could be accidentally erased by a strong magnet, and a nice flat optical disc would also be simpler and less breakable.
But the tape formats would be quickly killed off for good (along with the old analog casettes, of course) by the emerging optical disc formats!

During this time, CD-R drives were already becoming common (and heavily advertized and reviewed in the magazine; one common Ricoh ad shows a little boy actually lifting up the skirt of a woman from behind, “Looking for quality CD-Recordables?”), and one day, the first commercial audio CD recorder deck, the Pioneer PDR[100?] appeared in J&R.
The 3-97 issue included my letter to the editor applauding the articles on the burgeoning formats and tehnology, in which I mentioned the “WREN catching the WORM!”.

In April, E-Media Professional published the article “The Family Album” (Guenette, Parker) on all the 5 inch optical disc formats from CD-ROM to DVD-RAM and the colored “books” setting the standards:

Red: CD-Audio, CD+Graphics, CD Text
Yellow: CD-ROM
Blue: CD-Extra
Green: CD-Interactive
White: CD-Video (never caught on, because they couldn’t fit feature length movies)
Orange: (writable CD’s)
Part 1: CD-MO (A 1990 hybrid I never heard of until later)
Part 2: CD-Recordable (or CD-WO)
Part 3: CD-Rewritable (or “erasable”)

Others I’ve just seen on Wikipedia, but don’t remember CD-ROM/E-MP ever mentioning, though I remember reading about the formats:

Beige: Photo CD
Purple: Double Density CD
Scarlet: Super Audio CD

DVD used lettered books:

A: Read Only [I assume meaning a data only format; “ROM”]
B: Video
C: Audio
D: Write Once (R)
E: Re-Writable (RAM)

With May’s issue, the big news graced the cover, that CD-Rewritable finally “Hits the Streets”, with Ricoh’s MP6200S drive.
The following issue reported a split developing in the DVD-RAM development along the lines of DVD Consortium OEM company proprietary technologies, with Panasonic (Matsushita) and most other companies (Toshiba, Hitachi, Time Warner, Pioneer, JVC, Thomson, Mitsubishi; as listed in the April issue) holding onto DVD-RAM, while Philips and Sony were dropping out. Among many other technical details, they did not want the more sensitive format requiring the caddy. In the news section of the July issue, the two companies along with HP were reportedly developing their own version, to be called simply “DVD-RW”.

So the 1-98 issue, following the 96 issue on the rewritable CD, now highlighed rewritable DVD. This was splitting even more, with other emerging formats. The two main non-DVD Consortium players were ASMO (Advanced Storage MO, by a committee of most of the DVD Consortium OEMs), and MMVF (MultiMedia Video Format. This last one, by electronics giant NEC, sounded like the most promising, to me for some reason. Both had an even larger 5.2GB size).
But they all turned out to be the new generation of “vapor-discs”.
DVD-RW at this point was rebranded DVD+RW.

Finally! My first CD-Recorder! 

But it was this month, that I headed over to J&R and finally got my first CD-RW, the Ricoh (probably still a version of the 6200 or similar), which came with a blank CD-RW. I had a techie friend help me with the SCSI installation into what was still our first computer, a two year old Packard Bell, and bought the Adaptec EZ-CD Creator software, which included a feature called “CD Spin Doctor”, to record from analog sources hooked to the computer.
So I began the arduous task of recording from a half dozen or so audio tapes and some LP’s, such as the two Syreeta albums I had bought five years earlier and weren’t released on CD yet. (The graphics showed a steady progression of animated fat musical note characters walking across the screen).

Also around this time, DVD-Video was big enough for home rental to be addressed, and with the fear of the media being damaged, the first system to come up was “DivX” (Digital Video Express), which was to me a ridiculous system in which you would keep the physical disc, but only be able to read it on a pay-per-view basis. So it was shortly after that, to everyone’s glee, it was finally declared “dead”, and video stores simply began renting regular DVD discs, just like VHS. “DivX” afterward was used as the name of a popular video compression codec.

Remember when your music collection looked like this?

Stepping back to the beginning of my recorded audio collection; when my family got its first cassette tape recorder for Christmas ’82 (part of a stereo system we bought; previously, the only tape we had was my mother’s old compact reel to reel recorder from the 60’s and Dad’s larger reels he kept for his WFUV jazz program but no player for them in the house), I began recording my favorite songs from KISS-FM. Again, missing the first part of the song, and then hoping to catch it later, and splice it onto the beginning (requiring another casette), and then having to rewind and fast forward to find stuff, I had really, really wished this new CD format was recordable!

remember when this happened [tangled cassette tape]

Forward to ’89, in the Air Force, I by then had recorded up to 15 cassettes, and had them all with me, across the country. In one LA trip, heading over to the Greyhound to head back to base, I stop by the Fun Electronics store (I remember, because I had the business card for it for years after, IIRC it was likely on 7th or one of those streets, near Spring), and find the smallest double cassette recorder I could find, which I had for a long time been looking for. So in my dorm room I begain transferring all of this stuff (with clips spread across different tapes), condensing it by over a half.

When back home, I would give the original 15 to an old girlfriend I generally gave my old music to. All of this stuff would end up buried in her mother’s house, with the EWF cassettes I would soon begin replacing taken by her brother, who found them “spiritually uplifting” in a rough time he was going through.
Trying to condense it as much as I could, I had left some stuff off, waiting for recordable discs to come out, and figuring I would borrow the original tapes back at that later time. (Hope the brother didn’t take those, or they get lost or thrown out. She’s still there in the same apartment, believe it or not. Visited for the first time in decades last December, when I got the shot of the new LED street lights on the block).

I then resume recording on the cassettes from KISS (and the new CD-101 station), adding to the new cassette collection.
That winter, I get my first CD player for Christmas, a standard Sony CD Walkman, and begin replacing my favorite albums; particularly Stevie. I also got my only 3 inch CD single, Anita Baker’s “Giving You The Best that You Got”. That format was on its way out, as many older tray CD players did not have the second slot for the smaller disc, so eventually CD singles would just be 5 inches like albums (and include more remixes of the track. CDs’ larger capacity also meant that albums could have more tracks).

So (back to nearly a decade later) with about eight cassettes, I begin transferring them to CD-RW, along with the Syreeta albums and some Christian stuff. I used one or two for shorter video data. My wife then has me record CD’s for her, starting with new music sensation Shania Twain (don’t hear about her anymore), and her Christian stuff on tapes. When the requests was getting too frequent for me, I had to teach her how to record and she eventually produced stacks of CD-R’s, from spooled containers called “cake boxes”.

Yamaha CD Recordable Rewritable drive

Ironing out the kinks

The recording process was rather clunky, and there were so many things that could go wrong, most notably, the “buffer underrun”, which rendered a CD-R unusable, earning the term “coaster”. Both CD-R and RW had to be “finalized” before they would be playable on anything but the computer drive. If this got messed up, the recording could not be accessed. Thankfully, with the CD-RW, you could simply write over the bad recording. (An ad for Ricoh’s Interactive CD-ROM Handbook, that began appearing in the magazine around the time CD-RW was released, showed a dog with a CD in his mouth, and said “Sorry Fido, CD-Rewritable means fewer frisbees for you”).

Part of the issue in developing the format was something called “packet writing”, which allowed for more random writing and erasing, like a floppy or hard drive. So this was allowed for in the final specification, called “Mount Rainier” (named after the WA volcano for some reason) and designated by Philips as “EasyWrite”, and I began using one CD-RW as a larger storage verson of a floppy. You couldn’t use this for audio playing (other than accessing a music file on the PC, like with any other data file), so for audio, it was track-by track, and needing to be finalized, just like with CD-R. (And CD-R could be used with packet writing, but of course, you would not be able to recover actual disc space, and would eventually run out of space, and “erasing” would only tell the laser to skip over the deleted data. CD-RW would have a “quick erase” that would also work like this, and a “full erase” that would erase the entire “table of contents [TOC] allowing the laser to write over all areas).

I used CD-R’s for only a few audio projects, which I did not plan to edit later on, such as an album, and then only if the sound came out sound good enough (most, such as the Syreeta albums, didn’t, and so I still used CD-RW’s, figuring on replacing them with better recordings later on). My wife requested only CD-R’s, so they could play on any player (this will be addressed below). It was always a sense of accomplishment when the program would announce that the recording was complete!

Another problem in recording, which seemed to be perhaps from a sort of lesser buffer problem, as much as I could figure, was the recording skipping a second or so, sometimes.
I kept a stack of coasters for several years, after reading in a small E-MP news blurb (11-97), regarding something about a device called Leak Protect being proposed by a company called Expert Magnetics that could supposedly “erase” CD-R’s (using a combination of “high heat and pressure”), but it never surfaced. (I was only assuming that they would be reusable after that, but perhaps not, as it was more advanced CD “shredders” that eventually filled this niche. The purpose was really destroying the data, [most likely] not reusing the disc. Another interesting product that never surfaced, was an “Ultra-Thin” flexible (paper thin) CD, that would be kept flat by centrifugal force as it spun in the drive, but could be bundled in magazines as part of advertizements and bend with the paper; like those floppy 7” record discs you would see sometimes, especially accompanying children’s audio books).

Other technical limitations

From that very first article, it was revealed that the [visibly obvious] lower reflectivity of the phase-change material would render RW discs unreadable by most existing CD players and drives. (I used to love to look at the deep rainbow produced on the discs. The deep blue I imagined might be the closest we could get to the eye conic primary blue mentioned by this site: http://casa.colorado.edu/~ajsh/colour/primary.html).
CD-R simply burned the binary marks onto a dye (which produced a deep green color on earlier discs, which got lighter as time went on, and then eventually, you could have silver or any color). The problem with CD-R’s was that they couldn’t be read on DVD players. New DVD devices would have to include a second laser in the head, to be able to read them! CD-RW’s needed just an optical adjustment to the existing CD or DVD lasers, but it was of course too late for those already manufactured and sold.

So now, I was eager to see which players could read the CD-RW. Right off the bat, the old CD Walkman couldn’t read them, as would figure. A new sleeker (they got thinner and more rounded) one we would soon get would be able to read them, but as time went on, it would be harder to get it to read them. Taking the original Ricoh disc to work, it worked in the brand new PC’s they had just gotten us in the data entry room (and worried about viruses, the boss tells all of us rather too late for my experiment, not to place any foreign media in the PC’s. Glad I did already). I also took it to J&R to try out several players. Very few could read it.

DVD Recordable arrives!

One day, when walking to or past J&R, behold, a DVD recorder deck is in the window! This was the Panasonic, IIRC, and of course, still just “R” (record once) format. (As an aside, I heard an LD-R — recordable LaserDisc was also produced, and probably high end. LD of course was on its way to being killed off by the new DVD format).

By the 1-99 issue, the RW camp had split, with Pioneer developing a new “DVD-RW”, which became the official format of the DVD Consortium, and added as a “Book F”. +RW remained backed by Sony, Philips, HP, Ricoh and Yamaha. A new “RW” bullet logo was adopted for the format. (Record-once discs were also then branded as “DVD+R”, but IIRC, these may have still be the same as the others. This issue also featured the release of DVD-Audio. IIRC, a special edition of Stevie’s Songs in the Key of Life was issued in that format, but otherwise, nothing I was really into was produced for it). A new website, DVDplusRW.org was created, to inform us of the developments and compare the formats. (It’s still up, now about general “digital technology”, such as VR).
So now, when addressing the RW formats collectively, we would need to dig into the ascii code list and denote “DVD±RW” (it’s ALT+177). As recorders were finally released, some would do both formats, practically (eventually) merging the two formats back into one. By the Jan. ’02 issue of E-MP, it was much thinner, and WTC was gone, but J&R had started carrying the magazine at some point. The magazines were now mostly about DVD technology, including the rewritable formats. This issue mentions HP dumping CD-RW for DVD+RW.

So I would go with the “+” format, and in Jan. ’03, by now at Transit, and with a Vacation Relief PM job on the M out of 9th Ave., money was still tight as always, but for $800, I was still able to eagerly head over to J&R earlier in the day to get my first DVD recorder, the trouble-plagued Philips DVR985 (the one I got was a later version of the model that was supposedly not as bad as the earlier ones I read about). I did not really have a video cassette collection, holding off on even starting video recording, until the recordable discs came out. (I had maybe a few clips of cartoons and such).

So I now for the first time began recording off of the TV in earnest. Having gotten Boomerang for the first time the year earlier, I began recording a lot of short cartoons, such as some Looney Tunes, Scary Scooby Funnies, [and from CN:] Ed, Edd & Eddy, and clips from Cartoon Planet (I eventually got all 22 repackaged episodes of the whole series on +RW). I also got the hour long “Fantastic Frerps” (i.e. King Plasto) episode of the orginal Superfriends, The “Daffy and Porky Meet the Groovie Goolies” special I bought a very poor quality VHS tape of online, and the Science Channel clip of a journey from earth to the edge of the observable universe I later put on YouTube, and some other science stuff. Videos I bought included the newly released Scooby Meets Batman and Scooby Meets the Globetrotters sets (which included my favorite episodes) from the “Scooby Doo Comedy Movies” (disappointed that certain scenes cut out when transferred from syndication and USA cable to the Turner Networks in the 90’s were not put back). Also just released was “Legend of Vampire Rock”, a DTV that brought back the original voice Nicole Jaffe as Velma after three decades of other voices (she just wasn’t the same with them), in addition to Heather North as Daphne, and Kasem as Shaggy (who would be off and on in doing the voice, in the new Milennium).

It was my wife who had a huge VHS collection (both recorded, as well as store bought movies), and began transferring all this stuff to DVD-R’s (which were a deep blue on the recording side, where the older CD-R’s had been green. The rewritable media all look identical to CD-RW, except for the RAM having the “hash marks”, as mentioned. Around this time, dual layer DVD-Video’s also came out, which had a slight tan hue to them. And there was also double sided. A a double sided dual layer would increase the total capacity by nearly four times).

Also during the interim, cheap and less common CD media would be sold at “computer shows” that began cropping up around the city, including places like the JFK Airport Ramada Inn, York College, and the Metrotech area downtown. This is where I would get stuff like the orange CD-R and other colors. (Eventually, the major brands began selling packs of different colors). I also first saw a DVD-R out of the package here (and was intrigued by the plain glossy white label side of the no-brand media, and of course, the blue recording side). The DataVision store (then on 5th Ave @ 40th; now on 23rd near Home Depot and much smaller) sold a cheap brand of CD-RW’s I got a bunch of. Eventually, I could get cheaper CD and DVD rewritable discs from good old J&R. I was frequently in the computer outlet on the corner.

But again, around a year later, the problems surfaced, and it would stop recording. I had to send the big set (I keep original boxes for awhile) off to be fixed, and it turned out the problem was a defective laser assembly, that would cost about $400 to fix; almost half the original price. So it wasn’t worth it, and there was nothing else I could do. (What a gip!) By this time, the prices on new DVD recorders was coming down. So we eventually get a slimmer Sony (RDR-GX300). It lasted longer, IIRC, to within the last 8 years, since we’ve been in this apartment, but then began fritzing out. (I myself by then hardly ever used it anymore). I eventually take both machines (at different times) to Good Will, which hosted electronics recycling.

I also find, when trying to edit DVD files on the computer, that no matter how long the recording, and adding video (cartoon episodes, etc) incrementally to it, the actual video data on the disc is always divided evenly into five .VOB (“video object”) files! You have to open them and search through the video to find what you’re looking for.

One external drive did all eight formats (CD, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RAM and DVD±RW), the Iomega Super DVD Quiktouch DVD burner 8x! As tight as money always was, I actually pinched and got this! (and still have it: J&R receipt 6-15-04, $259, plus one of each DVD format. And still get Iomega’s e-mail ads, ever since). At that point, I began using the DVD-RAM disc as the “floppy”.

But overall, there were so many problems getting that to work with the computer, so it wasn’t used for long. (Still glad to have it, as a “collectable” item!)
Eventually, the DVD camcorders were finally released, but reduced to 3 inch disc size, so new DVD and CD rewritable media were produced for them. (I got a few of these to put a few music or video tracks on. They fit perfectly in an old bracelet box my wife was throwing out).

A collection of recordable discs and an all format recording drive

Hot on the heels: Solid State media

What really began to kill off all of this, was the almost simultaneous development of chip-based storage, “solid state” that used no rotating media to store data. I remember when they were demonstrating a new MP3 chip right in front of J&R, by driving a truck wheel over it, and it still worked. I was leery of the new technology as I would think data could get “lost” on chips. But have to this day never heard of it happening.
This caught on like a storm, with MP3 players becoming something everyone started getting. CD’s had one problem cassettes did not, and that was skipping when being carried in portable players, especially when doing something like jogging (this was never a problem for me, as I never carried music along while walking).

Soon, you had removable flash drives; about the size of a pack of gum, and which could now hold up to gigabytes of storage (passing the size of old hard drives when we got our first computer at the beginning of all this, at 1.7GB). The last edition of E-MP I got was April ’02, and the cover story was on the next “e-media”, Sony’s new Memory Stick.
This was much less clunky than anything else, and almost immediately killed off the floppy disk. So then it also became much easier and efficient to use than CD-RW or DVD-RAM. Along with this, online “streaming” or downloading became more popular. Just download it right onto the computer, and then onto an externally connected card player. A far cry from the old CD drives and “Spin Doctor” software! For listening, there’s YouTube (until the publishers come and take the video down) and Rhapsody (evolving from the old Napster sharing site). So this is basically what I use most of the time now instead of popping in CD’s.

San Disk Micro 2005 128MB, 2014 128GB

In 9 years, solid state media increases 1000 fold!

At this time, MiniDisc was actually still hanging in there, with the price finally forced down. We actually got a Walkman, which my wife used, but only briefly, and I then planned to get the old tapes, to record it to MD first, then then from there to CD-RW, to skip the clunky software step. But the person never got around to asking her mother if she could find them. So the recorder eventually got put away, left in some unpacked moving boxes.
New PC’s began coming with CD/DVD drives already built in. With companies like Dell, you could order whatever you want. (We got this and the one I’m using now has DVD-RW, but by this time, I was hardly recording discs anymore. So all of this killed off even for me, whatever rewritable optical media I was using, when backing up the computer).
I still couldn’t help feel this all happened too soon.

To the present

Really, CD-R/RW technology truly should have come out around the time the THOR-CD was announced (or at the very least, in place of MD). It would still be right behind the still new and growing original CD format, and have had over a full decade to become fully established and improved (and I would have recorded all the old tapes instead of condensing them onto new tapes), before becoming somewhat old and replaced.

DVD is hanging around longer, as it’s taking time for the solid state and streaming systems to completely handle video, though it’s rapidly taking over about now. What did start greatly trimming down its need was “DVR”, which was a set top hard disk deck, that cable companies quickly combined with their receiver boxes. That made a much simpler temporary recording than a separate optical disc box, and then you could always transfer it to the optical disc later. Next, came “cloud storage”, where video (or even your computer data) would be stored in a central location, like a satellite.

As all of this was occurring, the next development in optical disc technology was finally released, the blue laser formats (with the wavelengths ranging from 360nm, bordering on near-UV, to 480nm cyan). This too split, between “BluRay” (BD, supported by Philips, Pioneer,  Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Sharp, Hitachi, LG, Mitsubishi), and HD-DVD (supported by Toshiba, NEC and Sanyo).
HD DVD-R and RW were produced (never saw any of these), and HD DVD-RAM proposed, but BD won out, with HD DVD folding in 2008.
BluRay has BD-ROM, BD-R, and the rewritable was BD-RE. If I’m reading the Wikipedia article correctly just now, rewritable was the original conception of BluRay! Don’t know how I missed that all this time. For one thing I wasn’t into any of it, as the recordable red laser DVD was enough for me, and I had followed and spent enough on expensive new disc technology that always seemed to fritz out, and was probably going to be killed off soon anyway. As long as I got rid of old tape cartridges, I was happy and no longer had to stay on top of the cutting edge technology.
Perhaps the reason why I missed it actually being released is because according to this site: http://hometheater.about.com/od/blurayonlyfaqs/f/blu-ray_disc_recorders_faq9.htm stand-alone recorders “are marketed and sold in Japan, and other select markets, but there are no current plans (as recently as 2014 and into the foreseeable future) to market [them] in the U.S market for consumers”. There are two professional models out (which are designed to be bolted into a studio rack on the sides), by JVC and TASCAM; which are thousands of dollars; the latter available at B&H Camera (the place on the west side with the motorized ceiling conveyors). There was also a Sony that has since been discontinued. The units do not even have built-in HDTV tuners, HDMI, or Component Video inputs for recording high definition broadcast, cable, or satellite programming. So the best option are PC/laptop drives which are less than $100.

When replacing the hand-me-down DVD player that replaced the last DVD recorder, a couple years ago, we got a Sony BluRay player, but have only one BluRay disc; Les Miserables, which my wife had gotten in the new format because it had an option to download a digital copy to the Apple TV.

And so here we are today. We’ve come a long way in 20 years! Just got the idea for this article this past week, probably from digging out one of the CD-RW’s, to get a track off of it that’s a version of a song not on Rhapsody, YouTube or anywhere else for some reason.

Book Review: Wise “Under the Affluence”

http://www.amazon.com/Under-Affluence-Shaming-Praising-Sacrificing-ebook/dp/B0140EELYW

This is probably the followup to Rowan’s The Coming Race War I’ve been waiting for years for. Best treatment of the overall situation in American politics, and the best treatment of the race issue all in one volume! Lopez Dog Whistle Politics (https://erictb.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/book-review-dog-whistle-politics )also similarly nailed the race issue, while Reich Beyond Outrage (https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/book-review-robert-reich-beyond-outrage) likewise nailed economics, this book brings both issues together in a powerful and much needed way.

Right here in this video, you can get a taste of how he nails the issues on several fronts, like I’ve never seen before, in this case, the whole “going back to the 50’s” chant I even noticed in teens as it was so loud. Pops the question of what was it about that era that was so good. (Again, I think I’ve found my Rowan legatee!) Even shows how Reich, as good as he is, downplayed race.

http://www.timwise.org/2016/04/racism-conservatism-and-the-war-on-the-poor-clip-from-white-like-me-race-racism-and-white-privilege-in-america-2013/

He also concludes on something I’ve been saying (and that Lopez  also mentioned), on the importance of writing a “narrative” (to oppose the popular conservative narrative, that all was well in America until liberals giving blacks “free stuff” ruined us financially).

He starts off going back to the time of Dickens, in 19th Century England, to show that the critique being leveled at the poor (and minorities) today is exactly the same stuff Ebenezer Scrooge (embodying the rich class of the day) said back then! (And being England, race probably had nothing to do with it, as there weren’t many blacks).

To Scrooge, the poor had it coming. In his estimation, their economic failings merely reflected their far greater moral ones; beggars were beggars for want of industriousness, or acumen, or drive and determination. They were, in the parlance of the modern era, “takers” not “makers,” and as such should be left to their own devices.

He also makes the connection to Reformers such as Calvin and Luther (so we see where this critical mindset, in the whole “Protestant work ethic” comes from)

Protestant leaders like John Calvin and Martin Luther believed that poverty was evidence of sin and that the poor deserved neither charity nor public forbearance; and this they insisted upon even as the proliferation of the poor in Europe stemmed directly from the private and forcible enclosure of public lands, which drove previously self-sufficient farmers from their livelihoods.

He also shows how all of this anti-government rhetoric we have heard the last 40 or so years stems straight from racism. Following Warodl War II:

There was no “tax revolt” movement, no Tea Party screaming about being “taxed enough already” and no broad-based backlash to “big government,” despite the fact that taxes throughout the 1950s were always two to three times higher on most taxpayers than they are today.

It really gained steam with Reagan, who “capitalized on that souring public mood toward welfare with various stories of fraud and abuse in government antipoverty program”, many of which “were as fictional as the movies in which he had once starred (including a claim about a lavish public housing project with a gym and a swimming pool)”.  They “were political dynamite, playing upon growing resentments about supposedly lazy welfare recipients who were collecting handouts while hard-working taxpayers struggled to make ends meet.The racial subtext of these appeals was hard to miss.”

He then describes more of Reagan’s stories, beginning with the woman from Chicago “he grossly exaggerated the extent to which she had bilked the taxpayers. Ultimately, Taylor would be found guilty of having scammed a total of $ 8,000 in cash welfare benefits, rather than $ 1 million; and rather than eighty names [let alone 127] used to defraud the government, she had used four bogus aliases to do so.”; and of course, the line about the “strapping young buck”.
“it was hard to escape the conclusion that, at least implicitly, Reagan was hoping to play upon white anxieties about urban blacks in the post civil– rights era, at a time when resentment about the gains of the 1960s were reaching a fever pitch.” His early policies “were calculated to produce such a substantial budget deficit that Congress would be forced to cut safety net programsin the name of a balanced budget rather than the ideological mindset that truly undergirded them”.

 Reagan succeeded in reducing the size of antipoverty initiatives in part because of his uncanny ability to put forward a cohesive narrativea story religiously scripted by the conservative movement dating back to the crushing defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964— which portrayed the poor and those receiving assistance as undeserving, and as persons rendered lazy by an overindulgent federal government. The idea that there was now a “culture of poverty,” especially in urban communities of color, became conventional wisdom.

This created the backlash that “has persuaded large swaths of the American public that antipoverty programs have been monumental failures and that such programs are to blame for virtually every social problem imaginable”.

He then mentions the examples of Clinton and Obama, who choose instead to speak of their desire to help the “middle class”: “For most politicians, the poor are an afterthought— or worse, sacrificial lambs to be offered up for political slaughter. In 1996, President Clinton signed into law a welfare bill that substantially reduced benefits for millions of families based almost entirely on conservative ‘culture of poverty’ notions.”

“Despite significant reductions in the number and percentage of Americans receiving assistance after the 1996 reform, the narrative of welfare abuse, dependency and the ‘culture of poverty’ have continued as if nothing had changed.” (which is precisely what I had always pointed out. It was bad enough that “deficit” turned to “surplus” as soon as this reform went through, as if that was really where all the money had been going. While some of the rhetoric did die down a bit, it was always in the background, and quickly resurfaced in the new millennium).

All of this included “harsh judgments about the poor and struggling”, and during the housing crisis, leaders like Rick Santelli berated the “losers” who wanted the government to come to their rescue, while bailing out the banks who had extracted all that money was perfectly fine.

The poor and those losing their homes were, to the Rick Santellis of the world, victims not of the economic system or predatory lenders, but of their own cultural and intellectual deficiencies . Radio talk show host Bill Cunningham expressed the typical conservative belief about the poor on his program in 2008 when he claimed: “People are poor in America . . . not because they lack money; they’re poor because they lack values, morals, and ethics.”

Also addresses the more direct racial component of the issue:

To insist, as some have, that welfare programs have made African Americans worse off than under segregation (or even slavery)…is to suggest that black folks were better off with poverty rates that were far higher, not to mention lower graduation rates, higher rates of hunger, and worse health outcomes— all of which were realities in the years prior to the supposedly horrible government programs about which conservatives have such fits.

“Despite significant reductions in the number and percentage of Americans receiving assistance after the 1996 reform, the narrative of welfare abuse, dependency and the ‘culture of poverty’ have continued as if nothing had changed.”

The Rhetoric of hate: Dehumanizing and humilating the poor” (Kindle location 1651ff)
cites various conservative media figures (including Coulter, Hanity and Limbaugh) as calling the poor “animals”, etc.

Also, a point I have long made: “shouldn’t the logic of such an argument run both ways? Shouldn’t the rich in the United States stop complaining about their taxes? The regulations they have to put up with? The minimum wage they have to pay employees? Talk about ingratitude!”

The issue is not whether Americans are as poor today as the poor in Biafra, or as destitute as the poor were at the time of the Nixon administration or the Gettysburg Address or the landing of the Mayflower. The issue is whether the poor are situated in such a way as to compete with others in this country at this time, in such a way that they might move up the ladder and out of relative deprivation.

Cites a recent story in the New York Times concerning the increasing use of automobile GPS “de-activation” devices that debt collection agencies and car loan lenders can utilize so as to disable vehicles (remotely, even while the car is on the interstate, in traffic!), driven by people who fall behind on their car payments, after they had been lured into car loans with predatory interest rates and massive late-payment penalties. “In other words, people with little money are being asked to pay more of what they don’t have. Aside from how dangerous such a practice can be, how can immobilizing a person’s car help them pay for the vehicle? If they can’t get to work, they can’t earn money with which to make the payments. But none of that matters in a culture of cruelty— all that matters to such a culture and its enforcers is that an increasingly large percentage of the American citizenry can be financially squeezed, neglected and criminalized.”

While many will exaggerate about all the “luxuries” the poor enjoy, they actually begudge “even providing a shelter for homeless families that is infested with rats, mold and roaches, and where ‘feces and vomit plug communal toilets’”

Regarding “food stamps”, “the evidence shows that most SNAP households are extremely thrifty with their food shopping. Far from blowing their benefits on crab legs or steak of any kind, they tend to shop inexpensively and responsibly to make the benefits last…nearly one in four households report purchasing food that is out of date or nearly expired , simply because those items are discounted, and this rate climbs to thirty percent for those same families after they have been on the program for six months”, in addition to other cost cutting means such as waiting for sales, clipping coupons and buying in bulk.

And the much decried “fraud” by TANF recipients, points out that side work is often needed because the actual benefits are so low:

If anything, that kind of fraud speaks to the work ethic of the poor and their desire to earn income and take responsibility for themselves and their children. It suggests that the stereotype of lazy welfare recipients sitting around doing nothing is a complete contrivance.

The Right also distorts much of the “facts” they frequently cite (such as data from the Labor Department to the effect that the unemployed spend more time shopping than looking for a job).

The actual statistics, rather than saying the individuals being examined were necessarily “unemployed”, bur rather “not employed”, which includes “those who are retired, disabled or full-time students, and those who are stay-at-home moms or dads with partners who earn enough to support them on their own.” Overall,

eighty-five out of a hundred people who are classified as not working or not employed fall into these categories.

Those doing all that shopping and luxuriating are mostly not the people the right would have us envision: rather, they are people who are not in the labor force because they haven’t the need to be due to a partner’s earnings, or else they have already retired or are going to school.
…they are surely not the individuals being chastised by the right with this data, even though they are the ones who are likely to be showing up in it. This is just one more prime example of how conservatives routinely distort data to further a narrative of cruelty toward America’s most vulnerable.

This is why I don’t trust numbers, when conservatives begin tossing them around as the ultimate argument. Looking some up myself in debates, I’ve seen this myself, or how the argument changes when the numbers are shown to contradict other points or not to mean as much as they say.

This leads to  “Welfare Dependence and the Culture of Poverty: America’s Zombie Lie” (location #2235)

Cites leaders like Judge Andrew Napolitano (FOX)Paul Ryan and Ted Nugent, on all the “takers” and their “culture of poverty”, with its cultural pathology and dependency caused by programs.

He suggests that most so-called welfare recipients don’t receive benefits for a long period of time, which also suggests that poverty is evidence not of cultural pathology so much as of economic conditions over which most Americans have little control.
He shows how most recipients get off the programs in a matter of months, while most persons on the programs at any given moment are still long-term recipients.
As an analogy, he points to the nation’s jails and hospitals. Most people will be in for short periods, while a much smaller share will more serious issue and be in longer. But if you looked at the population of persons in the facility right now, or at any given point in the course of a year, a disproportionate share of these individuals would likely be persons who are in for a long time for serious crimes or health conditions. They are likely to be captured in the data at whatever moment you sample it. Minor cases, on the other hand, will have cycled in and out much quicker, and will not be evident to the same extent.

So The same is true with welfare programs. Most people who enter the programs won’t stay long, and so, the programs do not foster dependence. If they did foster dependence, “let alone a culture of dependency”, we would expect the majority finding themselves trapped on them, unable or unwilling to leave, which is simply not the case. “In other words, when someone like Wisconsin congressman Glenn Grothman insists that, ‘some people are arranging their life to be on [SNAP]’,he is not only insulting the poor, he is also lying about them.”

Likewise, “As for commonly held racial stereotypes of welfare recipients, these too lie shattered before the facts.”

Continuing on the reason people are out of work:

People are out of work because at any given moment there are rarely enough jobs available for all who are searching for one. People fall below the poverty line because they either can’t find work, or do work but their wages are subsistence level. And people find themselves turning to government assistance because without work, or with only low-wage work, certain benefits from health care to housing subsidies to nutrition assistance become critical lifelines. Far from not wanting to work, the unemployed desperately seek jobs; so much so in fact that the competition to get hired at Walmart can often prove more daunting than the competition to get into an Ivy League college.

He then shows the figures for people trying to get jobs at Walmart and McDonald’s.

Next section,

Loving the One Percent: The Valorization of the Rich and Powerful” (2763)

Which brings us to perhaps the most significant and telling example of modern Scroogism in recent years, and one of the pinnacle moments of the contemporary culture of cruelty: namely, the statement made by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney about the difference between the forty-seven percent of Americans who are essentially lazy, and the rest of us. As Romney put it:

There are forty-seven percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what . . . forty-seven percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it . . . the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. . . . These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. . . . My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

In other words, to the standard bearer of the Republican Party roughly half of the American people are “dependent on government,”suffer from an entitlement mentality, and refuse to take responsibility for their lives. For Romney’s running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, the numbers are even worse. According to statements made by Ryan in 2010, fully six in ten Americans are “takers” rather than “makers” because they receive some form of government benefit, from Medicare health coverage to unemployment insurance to nutrition assistance or the Earned Income Tax Credit, while not paying income taxes.

Of Makers and Takers: Taxes, Public Subsidies and the Real Face of Entitlement” (2778)

Ultimately, the thinking on display in the comments of both Romney and Ryan is clear: the poor are simply different from the rich in terms of values, work ethic and talent. While the latter create jobs and add value to the larger society, the former simply live off the more productive. Rather than criticize the wealthy, the poor and working class should be thanking them for all the good they do, or so the thinking goes.

Believing “the one percent work harder”, investors and columnists have said anyone who earns a million dollars or more should be exempt from all income taxes, or maybe even that is insufficient, so the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. To question them is to be the equivalent of a Nazi looking to march the rich into the ovens. One billionaire (who likes to brag about his $ 300,000 watch), is worried about poor people literally killing off the rich, (“which is ironic since it is he, a rich guy, who has actually been convicted of killing someone.”) The statement summing up all this, which we have heard: “There is a war on success.” And several more examples are cited comparing today with 1930’s Germany, or even the lynching of black people! To this, Wise chimes “Yes, because criticizing million-dollar bonuses for people who helped bring down the economy is exactly like the extra-judicial murder of black people.”
So, “The tendency to view the wealthy as virtual superheroes to whom the rest of us owe some debt of gratitude is becoming increasingly prevalent.

More on the “47% who pay no taxes”:

Points out that leaders who says, “Poor people don’t pay taxes in this country,” or that even “forty-seven percent of households pay not a single dime in taxes,” they are lying. And mentions another one who “envies those who are too poor to owe income taxes, as if to suggest that minimum wage workers are living it up while highly paid media commentators like himself are oppressed”.

Now, to show how the rich themselves also rely on government. First, even though the poorest fifth of Americans are removed from federal income taxes by the EITC, they still pay about nineteen percent of their paltry incomes in overall taxes, “hardly evidence of freeloading, even by the poorest fifth of Americans, let alone by the forty-seven percent about whom Romney seemed so judgmental”

So he asks:

But how anyone could believe that only the poor rely on government, especially in the wake of the government bailout of the banking industry and several American corporations, is beyond comprehension by the rational mind.

Without these bailouts, the banks in question would have gone under. Whether or not one believes that considering these institutions “too big to fail” might have been a necessary evil at the time of the bailouts, there can certainly be no doubt that it was government, not the magic of the marketplace or the genius of the leadership in these places, that allowed them to continue existing at all, let alone to prosper once again.

(And on top of this, the benefciaries of this still felt the terms of the bailouts weren’t enough!).

Essentially, “Rules are for the little people. Average hard-working Americans have certainly never received the kind of forbearance shown to the banks and their top leaders”. But “Far from relying on the marketplace, they quite openly insist that they deserve government assistance, even as those at the subsistence end of the economic spectrum do not.”

One billionaire then goes on to tell an audience that they should “thank God” for the bailouts of Wall Street, and rather than “bitching”about them, they should wish those bailouts had been “a little bigger.” His message to those whose lives are beocmoing harder: “At a certain place you’ve got to say to the people, ‘Suck it in and cope, buddy.’” To which Wise adds: “In other words, America’s neediest families should suck it up and cope, while the rich sit back and enjoy corporate welfare to keep their highly profitable businesses humming along.” (Also mentioned is how some of the world’s wealthiest companies received billions in direct government subsidies, “all of which use taxpayers’money to reduce operating costs and increase profits for corporate executives.”

He next goes into “entire industries that rely on particular public policies in order to make profit”, such as the prison industry, where they “either have to find people to incarcerate (no matter how minor their offenses and no matter whether there might be more productive ways to deal with many offenders), or else pay the companies a penalty for having effectively reduced their local crime rates…a textbook example of private businesses subsisting on the public dole, where the government subsidy provided is not just money but the actual lives of people locked up to boost private profits”.

When you listen to these leaders themselves, you can see that “the wealthy economic minority simply believe that the rich and the poor are two distinct species.”

On the one hand, they insist that putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy via the bailouts or tax cuts can incentivize productive economic activity, and that when the rich have this extra money they can be guaranteed to do great things with it. They’ll create jobs, start companies, and invest it wisely to the benefit of all. In other words, the rich respond positively to more money. On the other hand, the same voices assure us that putting more money in the pockets of the poor and struggling—via minimum wage hikes, overtime pay protections, the expansion of safety net programs or unemployment benefits—will do the opposite: it will strip the poor of the incentive to work, and if they have this extra money they will do horrible things with it; they’ll buy narcotics, sit around all day doing nothing, or make babies they can’t afford. In other words, the impoverished respond dysfunctionally to more money. The only thing that will properly incentivize them is the threat of destitution. Only the fear of homelessness, starvation and death in the gutter can possibly make struggling Americans do any work whatsoever.

No overstatement, this is precisely the thinking of conservative economist and investor George Gilder—one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite writers—who argued in his 1981 book, Wealth and Poverty, that “in order to succeed, the poor need most of all the spur of their poverty.” Only someone who believed that poor Americans were barely human, such that they don’t respond to the same incentives the rest of us would, could make this kind of argument. And only someone who believed the rich were inherently superior could justify the benefits showered upon them by the state.

No, You Didn’t Build That: Confronting the Myth of Elite Talent” (3056) goes after the concept of the “meritocracy”:

Naturally, the economic aristocrats and the conservatives whom they bankroll firmly believe in their innate superiority. They sincerely preach the gospel of meritocracy and the idea that those who make it to the top of the power structure have done so by dint of their own hard work and talent. Research has found that dominant social groups—in the United States this means men, whites and those with higher incomes—are especially likely to think that they are smarter and more capable than others and have earned whatever they have by virtue of their own abilities.

Now the intertwined issue of race comes to the forefront, as slavery is a prime example of this. As I’ve pointed out, the slaveowners “formed the nation’s original aristocracy”, and also relied on the government to defend the practice through the laws. He cite several sources showing that the slaveowners, rather than being these “hard working individuals, knew they couldn;t dothe work without the labor, and even “bragged about their own relative idleness, never noting the way such admissions contradicted whatever pretense they may have had to actually deserving their station”. (“Planters generally prided themselves on being men of leisure and culture, freed from labor and financial concerns.”)

Here’s a meme I just ran across comparing then to now: Only 1.6% of U.S. citizens owned slave in 1860. Yet that small % of rich plantation owners were able to convince the majority of southerners to fight a civil war for a cuse that only reduced the value of their own labor and pay. Sound familiar?

So next, he discusses Wall St, where people aren’t actually working harder, but simply using quicker tools that “allow them to see trades that are in the process of being made”.

They are not producing anything of value. They are not making the companies whose stock is purchased worth more, allowing them to create jobs. They are simply skimming money off the top with a practice that is essentially the high-tech equivalent of mind reading or card counting in Vegas, only far more foolproof than either of those. It has nothing to do with merit or skill.

And then, corporate executives, he mentions how CEO compensation increased by 937 percent:

Although it should be obvious that such an aristocratic bunch did not in fact manage to increase their work effort by this much, or become nearly a thousand percent smarter or more productive in that time, let there be no mistake: this boost in pay at the top was more than double the rise in the stock market over that same period. In other words, CEO pay grew twice as fast as the company value overseen by those CEOs. In the process, it far and away outstripped wage growth for the typical worker, whose pay barely budged, if at all, even as their productivity rose dramatically.

Cites the typical figures on how much executive pay went up from the 60’s on:

 To think that these numbers reflect merit not only requires one to assume that a typical CEO is worth three hundred times more than a typical worker, or works three hundred times harder, or is three hundred times more productive; more to the point, given the change over time, one would have to believe that CEOs were evolving at a scientifically unheard-of pace. After all, the top executive in 1965 was only twenty times more productive, according to this logic, and didn’t really gain much in terms of ability or smarts over the next fourteen years. But then, suddenly, it’s as if some biological breakthrough occurred, and although average workers stopped evolving, the species known as homo executivis enjoyed some amazing genetic leap to previously unimagined levels of talent and ability.

Then you have the Walmart CEO with nearly a thousand times more than the average company employee, and Apple CEO with 6,258 times the wage of the typical employee. “To believe that these kinds of financial chasms can be chalked up to merit and relative ability seems to stretch the bounds of credulity: after all, it would mean that Apple and Walmart either have especially superhuman executives or especially dull and unmeritorious hourly workers, or perhaps both, when compared to other corporations.”

“Surely it can’t be merit that explains executive pay”, given leaders of companies that never made a profit, or even JPMorgan Chase, whose profits fell: “Pay packages like this, despite mediocre or even negative performance, no doubt help explain why former AT& T Broadband CEO Leo Hindery insists that executive pay is ‘a fraud,’ which owes entirely to corporate ‘cronyism’.” On the other hand,  the Container Store CEO imposing limits on his own pay to no more than 35 times that of his average store employee, and paying them double the retail industry norm enjoys steady profits, “suggesting that CEO pay is unrelated to excellence and that the tendency toward inflated executive compensation is more about greed than merit.”

Instead, ridiculous pay may actually have the opposite effect, with an actual negative correlation to profits shown in studies! “They suggest that excess pay leads to CEO overconfidence, which causes stock losses due to irresponsible over-investment and value-destroying mergers and acquisitions for which the company was not well suited.”

He shows how Wall Street now only is not really hard work, but also allows one to get away with more [white collar] crime.

The conclusion: “Ultimately, pay levels are not about merit or social value; they’re about power dynamics. They’re about how much value is placed on various types of work, by people with lots of money to spend.”

Also, companies can give raises even when employees are not necessarily more “productive”:

That Walmart offered these raises proves that previously they had been paying so little not because that was all their workers were worth to them, but because they could get away with it in a weak economy where working people had fewer options. The lesson this reality affords us—both the previous wages being offered and the proposed pay hikes—is a significant one, and utterly debunks the dominant narrative about pay levels and people “getting what they’re worth” in the market. After all, Walmart employees didn’t become more productive in the last few months so as to justify the raises they appear poised to receive. Rather, economic conditions beyond the control of those workers changed, thereby necessitating a pay hike in the eyes of their employer. This is how the so-called free market works: it isn’t about workers getting what they’re worth; rather, it is about employers paying as little as they can get away with. The market as such does not exist; only power dynamics exist—who owns, who doesn’t; who is in charge and who isn’t. Likewise, pay at the top hardly reflects merit or productivity either; it too is rooted in dynamics of power and influence.

He then cites Reich (whom we just reviewed last) on a “disconnect” between Wall Street bonuses paid to investment bankers and any notion of actual merit or talent on their part, where “these bonuses had nothing to do with a fifteen percent gain in productivity, or indeed any measurable notion of merit. Instead of merit, these bonuses (and indeed the entire profitability of these banks) were made possible by government policy, and the indirect subsidy received by these entities ever since the government bailout rendered the investment banks, and especially the largest of them, ‘too big to fail’.”

Then he zeroes in more on the forces beyond our control, which is the great truth totally ignored in today’s “rugged individual” mindset:

The facts are all too clear: rather than talent determining income or wealth, it is a combination of luck, connections, government assistance and public policy like financial deregulation which ultimately make the difference. And let’s not forget making money the old-fashioned way: inheriting it. No matter how much we may like to believe that dynastic wealth is a feature of life only in other nations, inherited wealth continues to skew the class structure in the United States as well.

He then gives more examples through figures and says: “That numbers like these drive a stake through the heart of the idea that the well-off simply “earn” their position should be obvious”. He next goes into the issue of who needs who, between the capitalists and the workers: “Most important, perhaps , is the simple reality that the rich almost always depend on squeezing the working class for whatever fortunes they manage to build. It is only by paying workers less than the value of what they do for you that you are able to make a profit. It seems axiomatic that if you do a job for me that I could not and would not do for myself, and which enriches me to the tune of $ 100, but I only pay you $ 70 for your effort, I have taken advantage of you.” So “The idea that the poor and working class need the wealthy, rather than the other way around— though a common perception, it appears— couldn’t be more backwards.”

Next, the issue of “values”.

A Culture of Predatory Affluence: Examining the Inverted Values of the Rich” (3337)

Not only are talent and hard work inadequate to explain the inflated incomes of the super-rich; so too, their value systems and personal integrity fail to justify their positions. Indeed, while the wealthy and their conservative media megaphones spend time and energy bashing the so-called “culture of poverty” and suggesting that it is the poor and unemployed whose values are dysfunctional, pathological and destructive, the reality is almost entirely the opposite of that charge. If anything , it is the culture and values of the affluent that are the most dysfunctional and destructive to the social good.

An example given is General Motors, which made a conscious decision not to replace faulty ignition switches on certain cars, even though they knew that the switches could turn off unintentionally, thereby disabling power steering, airbags and power brakes and leading to dangerous and potentially deadly accidents. GM decided it would cost less to pay off the families of those killed in accidents related to the faulty switch, or to pay the bills of those injured, than to make the fix on all the flawed vehicles they had put on the road. Money was more important than other people’s lives, and at least thirteen people died from this.

If a drug dealer were to make this calculation preceding a deadly drive-by shooting intended to take out his gang rival (and thus protect his financial interests), we would call that criminal, we would seek to jail him, and we would probably consider his actions evidence of an inherently pathological culture. If corporate executives and engineers make this calculation, as was the case at GM (and several decades ago at Ford), the dominant analysis in the media and among the nation’s business class is that the result has been a terrible tragedy, but that it does not reflect anything meaningful about the value systems of the wealthy people upon whom blame ultimately resides.

Also, the big banks, such as  JP Morgan, Citigroup and Bank of America, took advantage of investors by selling them risky and even useless mortgages in large bundles, knowing full well the dangers posed by those investment instruments. “The tendency to recklessness and risk -taking that was central to the banking crisis stems directly from the value systems and psychology of those who make their livings as investment bankers.”

“Even when the rich make their money from perfectly legal means, there are still valid questions to be asked as to the ethics of their operations”, such as offering loans to people who they knew would likely have difficulty making payments, in order to make mega-profits off inflated interest rates. “If the borrowers defaulted, they could always reclaim the property and sell it again, and ultimately the risk was low: most subprime mortgages were being repackaged in large bundles and sold to wealthy investors in the form of mortgage-backed securities. If some of the loans went bad, it would be the investors who lost their money, not the banks themselves”.

He cites analyses showing that “the wealthy actually behave less ethically than the poor”: (such as to break driving laws, lying in negotiations, and to openly endorse unethical behavior to get ahead at work). This stems mostly from a more favorable attitude toward greed. (Think “greed is good”). Meanwhile, other studies “found that lower-income persons are more generous than the wealthy, more trusting and more likely to help someone in need” and “are more likely to act in pro-social ways because of their greater commitment to egalitarian values and greater levels of compassion.”  The link between wealth and unethical behavior “may have something to do with how wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings. This leads us towards being more self-focused. Wealthier people are also more likely to agree with statements that greed is justified, beneficial, and morally defensible.

According to the research, wealth and power produce a kind of implicit, if not explicit, narcissism: Even thoughts of being wealthy can create a feeling of increased entitlement— you start to feel superior to everyone else and thus more deserving. . . . Wealthier people were more likely to agree with statements like, “I honestly feel I’m just more deserving than other people. . . . ”

A lack of empathy flows from a culture of cruelty and predatory affluence rather than anything over which the poor and unemployed have control. Unethical behavior makes perfect sense in a culture where getting ahead at all costs is the only supreme value.

It is a mindset that is at once entirely psychopathic and yet normalized within the system of capitalism to which Americans are wedded.

In some ways, that the wealthy turn out to be moral and ethical reprobates should hardly surprise us. To a large extent dishonesty and predation are the values inculcated by the nation’s most elite finishing schools for bankers and others who are trained to siphon all they can out of the system. At Harvard Business School, for instance, students are told, “Speak with conviction. Even if you believe something only 55 percent, say it as if you believe it 100 percent.” Lying is not only something that rogues do to make an extra buck; rather, it is virtually built-in to the process of enormous money-making.

He also cites the evidence that top executives are fully aware of ethical and legal wrongdoing in the workplace, and agreed that success in the financial services sector may actually require conduct that is unethical or illegal, which they would do if they believed they could get away with it, and that even their compensation plans created incentives to violate the law.

With Justice for None: The Real World Implications of a Culture of Cruelty” (3576)

Pointing out the “real-world implications to the kind of callousness displayed toward the poor and those in need.

According to Limbaugh, the idea that insurance companies should not be allowed to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions is nothing more than “welfare”and “nonsense.” “And in what seems like a direct mirror of the Dickensian thinking…the mechanisms of punishment for poverty” are also increasing,t hrough virtual new “debtor’s prisons”, where poor people can be jailed for not paying fines or fees.

Meanwhile, a bank like HSBC can engage in money laundering for drug cartels, yet  remains untouched by criminal prosecution, for fear that an indictment would collapse the bank and set off a chain reaction that could destroy the economy in contrast to the routine prosecution of low-level drug users. They may have paid a fine, and some of the executives had to defer their bonuses for a period of five years, yet not give them up, but none of them did a single day in jail in that case, like somebody at the bottom.

He then points out how even “President Obama and his Justice Department have been utterly unwilling to punish financial crimes with any degree of seriousness or even to speak forcefully about the criminality of Wall Street. Unlike the forceful language of FDR, who openly challenged the economic aristocracy he hailed from, it is rare to hear anything remotely as brave from the mouths of modern politicians.”

Next, “The courts are especially lenient on those who are heirs to large fortunes”, with the examples as S.C. Johnson and Sons and DuPont managed to get off lightly for serious sexual (incestuous) offenses “in a way that no poor defendant in their position could have.” One did only four months in prison (His attorney argued, and the judge apparently agreed, that hard time should be reserved for “maximum defendants” rather than wealthy scions) and the other avoided jail time and was only given treatment, because of concerns he would “not fare well” in prison. “Such is a justice system in a culture of cruelty, operating under the affluence of a small self-valorizing minority that is given permission to prey upon the citizenry.”

Chapter III

He sums up the conclusion so far:

the American ideal of the U.S. as a land of opportunity is daily mocked by rising inequality, stagnating wages and the dynastic concentration of wealth among the richest fraction of the national population. Upward mobility is becoming a fleeting memory of an earlier time, while downward mobility has become a distressing reality for millions. Not only is the economic picture dim for the vast majority of the American people, but sadly the way that we are being encouraged to view those who are struggling is also increasingly negative. Relentlessly hostile rhetoric from talk show hosts and reactionary pundits poisons the minds of millions, encouraging contempt for those Americans who have become poor, underemployed or underpaid. That rhetoric serves to rationalize inequality, to justify harsh public policies that weaken the safety net for millions who need it, and to legitimize policies that further aggrandize the wealthy minority.

This is where he begins to emphasize that we will have to develop a narrative to get people on board for any real change, comparing to what conservatives began to do after the defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964.

they didn’t spend time focused on particular policy details; they focused on crafting a story with which to reclaim the country for the policies they would push through once they took power. While the right has long understood the importance of the narrative and controlling the storyline, the liberal left has too often focused on calling for specific policies, as if the mere logic of their appeal, or the facts we can muster in support of them, would suffice. But even though I’ve spent much of this book providing facts, I know that those facts alone won’t matter if there isn’t a storyline to go with them. Likewise, the more radical left, of which I have long been a part (and remain), has typically operated on the assumption that mass mobilization and protest movements will suffice to turn things around : if we can just get enough people in the streets, we can force the power structure to bend to our will. But while I support tactics of mass mobilization, the left is misreading history if we believe past protest movements succeeded because of protest alone. In each case of successful protest, or for that matter liberal reform, it was the existence and propagation of a clear counter-narrative —a storyline— that paved the way for victory. The civil rights pioneers did not win because of sheer numbers. They won what they won because they were able to deploy a message of dreams deferred, to articulate a vision of an America that had betrayed its promise and was in need of fulfillment.

It is not clear to me that the left today, in either its liberal or radical stripes has nearly so clear a narrative. This seems to be the piece given short shrift by liberals and radicals alike, content to either put forward facts and policy proposals on the one hand or raise hell on the other, in hopes that somehow one or both of these will turn the tide. In both cases, their hopes are incredibly naïve, for reasons we will explore below. The culture of cruelty has triumphed thus far, not because the American people are inherently committed to injustice— far from it. The culture of cruelty has triumphed because we haven’t understood its roots, and therefore haven’t known where to start digging in order to uproot it. It has triumphed because we haven’t understood the psychology behind it, and because we have underestimated its allure for millions.

Only by understanding why the culture of cruelty has been given such a long shelf life in America can we hope to transform it.

How Did We Get Here? The Importance of Seeing the Roadblocks” (3804)

Discusses our sense of “our national greatness”, proclaiming: “We’re number one!” and yet lagging behind other “rich” countries when it comes to things like reducing child poverty, guaranteeing health care for our people, or providing one or another safety net program for persons in need. Yet we don’t look so good to these other countries: “After all, people who believe themselves smarter, wiser, more imbued with insight, and inspired by providence can be both incredibly domineering and dangerous.”

As to why we lag behind other countries in those areas, he cites the “so-called Protestant work ethic and the inherently individualistic nature of the colonial enterprise”, which was directed toward self-reliance and to eschew government intervention in matters of economics and social welfare.On top of that, was the lack of a strong labor movement.

Yet this still begs the question of “Why was the hyper-individualistic Protestant work ethic such an influence here but less so elsewhere, in nations where there are also plenty of Protestants”, and why those same Protestants once embraced government intervention in the economy and safety-net programs in the wake of the Depression, but increasingly oppose such efforts now, and why have labor unions and the labor movement generally been weaker in America than elsewhere? “Is there something specific to the American experiment that can explain these things?” The answer, “the national faith in rugged individualism and meritocracy”; and (most importantly) “the use of racism as a force to divide working-class people and discredit social safety nets for the poor and struggling.”

“Rugged Individualism & the Myth of Meritocracy: Cornerstones of the Culture of Cruelty” (3834)

I’ve already been turning up the volume on “rugged individualism” lately, seeing more and more how central it is to the “racio-economic” ideology. It was even mentioned in a quote Horton Beyond Culture Wars had made from someone, so even then there was evidence this was the backbone of the whole “culture war” itself, which is basically the religious branch of the race and economic war. So now, Wise goes more into this belief system that has been taught to us so much (regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, disability status or economic class), “that it can rightly be considered our national creation myth.”

It is the idea of meritocracy: the notion that, in America, anyone can make it if they try hard enough, and that all obstacles will vanish in the presence of the determined will. Rugged individualism triumphs over all else, and if one fails to succeed, that is the fault of the individual who either didn’t try hard enough or wasn’t good enough to make it. Conversely, those who attain great fortune have done so because they put forth maximum effort, or were simply better than the rest of us. On the one hand, it might appear at first glance that this notion has served our society reasonably well. Unlike past feudal systems where opportunity was limited to those of royal lineage or persons directly connected to the ruling class, in the United States, the notion that merit should determine who gets ahead and falls behind has generated more openness and mobility—at least historically speaking—than has been enjoyed in most of the world. It’s an idea that is intoxicating and initially even empowering: I am the master of my own fate; I can do anything if I put my mind to it. It is hard to imagine a more invigorating mantra for a child to hear. It is, for that reason, something that most parents tell their children. We want them to believe in themselves, to take risks, to always do their best, and to never let anything stand in the way of their dreams. To introduce sticky concepts—like the idea that systemic injustices and obstacles exist, and that these are capable of derailing even the most determined of persons—is to inject uncertainty into an otherwise simple and more reassuring worldview. It is to surrender a degree of control, and is for this reason terrifying to people raised on a steady diet of optimism and the power of positive thinking—both hallmarks of the American cultural narrative.

However, “the reality is always more complex than the mantra. At some level we all know this… Most of us know people who have worked incredibly hard their entire lives but have little to show for it. So too, we probably have met at least a few individuals who were essentially born on third base but are firmly convinced they hit a triple and earned their place there. We can look around and see many examples of persons at the top and bottom who hardly deserve their station based on their own morality, work effort and talents. Yet the ideology remains.”

The possibility that our fates may be determined at least in part by others, “is simply too frightening for many to consider, especially if they are white, and/ or male, and/ or middle class—or really any combination of relatively advantaged groups—which makes it so much easier to miss the ways in which our personal success or failure is socially structured.”

Even during a time when millions of Africans were enslaved on these shores, the idea that anyone could make it if they tried was widely trumpeted, as was the notion that those who did make it (almost exclusively whites) had actually earned what they had, rather than being unjustly favored in every arena of life. Even during a time when indigenous land was being stolen and indigenous cultures uprooted, most believed that anyone could make it if they tried, and that those who had managed to do so, had done so by dint of their own talents and efforts, owing nothing to the stolen land and resources upon which their newfound wealth was based.

When segregation ruled the South (and was the de facto reality everywhere else), and when lynchings were a common occurrence, and when millions were denied the ability to vote for reasons of color, the confidence that the United States was a society of opportunity for all, where initiative and determination were what mattered, still managed to remain intact. While people of color obviously questioned the national commitment to these principles, for most whites the contradictions were invisible. We believed the lie even as the truth was staring us in the face. That’s how intoxicating and alluring the myth can be. This is an ideology that, more than anything else, distinguishes the United States from most other Western nations not only in the present day but also throughout history.

(Of course, the answer to that was that the blacks were not completely human, and so didn’t count in the “anyone” or “all” who had “opportunity”. Along the way, he also goes into immigrants being blocked from entering the U.S. for reasons of blatant racial and ethnic bias, and the mistreatment once here, though this is currently used to point out that these other groups eventually made it, while the blacks still struggle).

While other nations had class structures that were firmly fixed (e.g. nobility or commoner,  etc.), in America, the ideological glue of meritocracy provides an almost perfect philosophical mechanism for justifying and rationalizing inequality.

 If one can truly be anything one wants in America, then if there are vast disparities between those who achieve and those who don’t, such outcomes can be written off to differential talent or effort. There is no need on this account for the state to intervene or to provide opportunity. With an ideology such as this in hand, not only can those inequalities be rationalized, but the development of a callous and even cruel disposition towards those at the bottom of the structure can come to seem quite normal and acceptable. Even more perniciously, the notion of meritocracy not only serves as a source of narcissism for the rich—encouraged to view themselves as virtual super-humans who have earned all they have—but also as a source of self-doubt among the poor and struggling, because they too have been taught the lie.

So then they end up blaming themselves, and also be less likely to organize to make things better, and never question the larger structures within which you’re laboring.

The destructive genius of the nation’s secular gospel is precisely this: whether you succeed or fail, the myth of meritocracy is calculated to encourage you to look inward for the source of either outcome. If you attain great professional and financial reward, then that was all about you. The society is due no credit, nor the government, nor those who helped you along the way. As such, you owe nothing to anyone, and are surely not obligated to assist those who for whatever reason have failed to attain the same heights. And if you fall short professionally or financially, then that too was all about you. The society and its institutions are due no blame. As such, you are owed nothing more—not better schools, not better housing access, nor a neighborhood free from toxic waste facilities, nor affordable health care, nor a sufficient safety net when you stumble.

In practice, however, the believers in this who do fail or at least don’t have as much as they think they should, still get to blame others, namely those beside or below then for their failures. The government is taking from them to give to these undeserving. So they can then excoriate “whining” and the “victim mentality” while engaging in the exact same behavior, usually ten times louder, and think nothing of it!

In the supreme irony then, one of the most foundational elements of the dominant American ideology—the thing that so often binds us together collectively, at least at the level of narrative—is an idea that at its core is the antithesis of a collective at all. Our collective and community identity is actually anti-community. It is hyper-individualism as the essence of one’s group identity, and ultimately keeps us pitted against one another. There are winners and losers, and one’s goal in life under such a system is to make sure you are the former and not the latter.

With such a competitive mindset: “you will perceive the world as full of ruthless competitors, all of whom will victimize you if they get the chance. The world as you perceive it will begin to devolve into consisting entirely or almost entirely of victims and perpetrators; those who do, and those who get done to. Your society will devolve…into these roles you have projected onto the world at large. You will begin to believe that everyone is out to get you. And why not? After all, you are certainly out to get them.

This basically is what I have been calling the “ice age mentality”, or “the law of the jungle” or unbridled “nature” (short of the ethic of care and justice known as “integrity”). Even many liberal groups believe in meritocracy, according to Pew research. There is also a “psychological boost one gets (at least in the short term) from continuing to believe that despite the chaos, one is still in charge of one’s own destiny.”

He points out how despite conservative claims Obama doesn’t accept the notion of American exceptionalism, has stated it is the greatest nation on earth. His common message that we’re “awsome”, but there are “serious problems”, the second part of the comment is thoroughly undermined by the first. (Of course, “To conservatives, we don’t need change. America is the best: always was, always will be; we don’t need to fundamentally alter anything about our policies or our system of governance. This is a much easier message to hear”. Also, “To question the secular gospel of one’s society is to be seen as hostile to the nation itself.”)

And so we get back to the all important issue of creating a “narrative”.

As I’ve demonstrated earlier, there is ample evidence that the affluent minority is undermining the ideal of America, and that they are subverting Americanism in its best sense. It is their tax breaks, their preferential treatment in the courts, their dynastic wealth, and the subsidies they receive from the government— from banker bailouts to annual tax subsidies— that undermine the ideal of meritocracy , equal opportunity and justice for all. Far from junking the ideal of meritocracy and equal opportunity, the left must reclaim it by demonstrating that it is the financial elitists who are at war with those notions. Importantly, it isn’t sufficient to make that case in purely data-driven terms. We must make it in cultural terms, flipping the script on the common and derogatory critiques of the poor by casting our judgmental eyes directly to the wealthy. It isn’t the culture of poverty we should be concerned about, but the culture of predatory affluence. The right, in other words, is correct: The problem in America is a values problem. But the values that are the problem are not the values of the poor and working class. The values that should disturb us are those that reside at the top. As the old saying goes: the fish rots from the head down. One thing is for sure : by failing to directly confront the notions of meritocracy and rugged individualism as the key to success, progressives will struggle to build large-scale movements for change. So long as meritocracy is accepted as a reality rather than an aspiration, and so long as equal opportunity is understood not as an ideal but as an existential fact, any call for significant changes in the society and its policies will fail to resonate. Only by moving forward with a narrative of aspiration— and only by demonstrating how the aspiration is blocked by the economic aristocracy to the detriment of the rest of us and the society we share— can we undermine the cornerstone of the culture of cruelty. The myth of meritocracy is the bedrock upon which that culture was constructed. It won’t be taken apart unless we dig it up.

So now, to the other main dynamic making America so different:

Racism, White Resentment and the Culture of Cruelty” (4082)

Race, in other words, has been a weapon with which the rich have divided working people from one another and prevented white working folks from developing a strong identification with their counterparts of color.
The history of whiteness as a wedge between working-class people—and as a key element in the perpetuation of economic inequity—goes back to the early colonies in the Americas.

Covered is how Virginia colony legislators raised the status of white servants, workers, and the white poor, who had previously lived and worked under the same conditions as the African slaves. White servants at the end of their indentureship were promised corn, money, a gun, clothing, and 50 acres of land. The poll tax was reduced. Thus, “they gained legal, political, emotional, social, and financial status that depended directly on the concomitant degradation of Indians and Negroes.”

This was a conscious decision, “made so as to safeguard the position of the economic minority relative to the general citizenry from whom they feared cross-racial, class-based rebellion.” Here, we get mention of  the Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, which frightened the Virginia planter class , leading to the passage of the above-mentioned laws. “Fear of further cross-racial alliances led to the abolition of European indentured servitude altogether in the first decade of the eighteenth century”. Numerous other laws linked the enslavement of blacks to the relative elevation of whites, and still other laws required whites to serve on slave patrols and help control blacks, thereby creating the perception among even poor European peoples that they were members of one big team, along with the rich. “It was this elevation of whiteness at the expense of class interests that helped convince most white Southerners to support secession and the maintenance of a free market in buying , selling and trafficking black families. Indeed, the Southern aristocracy knew that only by seceding from the union and rebelling openly against the anti-slavery Republican party of Lincoln might poor whites be kept in line.”

Here is mentioned the problem even in the North, which we touched on in the Five Points history, where NYC Democratic politicians “appealed to Irish working-class racism, warning that if blacks were emancipated, it would cause a human flood northward to steal the work and the bread of the honest Irish.’” (This actually led to the Civil War Draft Riots, particularly on the block of Baxter Street immediately north of the intersection, where you had a row of large heavily black-occupied tenements and the African Relief Society on one side of the street, and the Irish “Landsdowne Enclave” right across from it).

Also,

In short, the rich sought to sow fear of racial equality, appealing to whiteness as a virtually corporate identity, even as most poor whites—South and North—would have been better off financially had white enslavement of blacks been abolished. Linking the degradation of people of color to the elevation of whites was a narrative and material strategy deployed so as to create a very particular kind of class consciousness in the majority population: a class consciousness that would prioritize one’s racial class (or perhaps more properly, caste) over economic station.

Cited is W.B. Du Bois that white workers were given public deference . . . because they were white, even if poor. The police were drawn from their ranks, and the courts dependent upon their votes treated them with leniency. Chinese workers were brouht in, with promises that this would create a need for new [white] foremen who would exercise authority over the Asian newcomers. “Status and privileges conferred by race could be used to make up for alienating and exploitative class relationships.”Also mentioned at this point is the late nineteenth-century Populist Party, in which white workers in the movement were turned against workers of color by blatant appeals to white supremacy.

In East St. Louis, Illinois, a black pogram was sparked by the hiring of blacks by companies there, seeking to break white unions, taking advantage of union racism and sought to pit struggling blacks against struggling whites. And it worked! One black union did not believe in strikes, (and even mixed in a dose of pseudo -black nationalism so as to promote race pride and unity.
Note: And people today refuse to see how this is what created the issues that persist today. They insist all was fine, until modern “race baiters” ⦅including “Obama”⦆ “divided” the nation, and that the problems of cities like those is because of liberalism).

Specifically, racism has been critical to driving down support for any form of safety nets or social programs to benefit low -income, unemployed and impoverished Americans . It is impossible to understand the last forty-plus years of backlash to safety-net programs and taxation, or the growing opposition to government intervention in the economy, without understanding the politics of race. Although not all persons opposed to such efforts are racists, the anti-tax, anti– government spending, anti– welfare state narrative since the mid-1960s has been intimately intertwined with issues of white resentment toward people of color, especially blacks; and that narrative linkage has impacted the way in which the white public has come to understand efforts that are portrayed as examples of “big government.”

By deliberately linking poverty and economic need with an image of African Americans, and by encouraging resentments against social programs for the poor by linking them to people of color— all while crafting a narrative that those persons of color are undeserving, lazy , culturally pathological and defective— conservatives have managed to indelibly smear programs of social uplift, and key elements of a safety net that a few generations before had been popular. Few voices among the masses could have been heard critiquing such efforts as “big government” intrusions into the magic of the free market. The masses had gotten a dose of what the free market had to offer, and most of them were none too impressed. So long as these efforts— which pumped billions of dollars of income and capital into almost exclusively white hands, and created the white middle class  —were racially restrictive, they remained popular.

Complaints about taxes being too high so as to finance these big government initiatives were few and far between, even though tax rates were far higher throughout this period than they are today, with the top rate holding at ninety-one percent for most of the 1950s. Apparently, white people didn’t mind government spending so long as the presumptive beneficiaries looked like them. If anything, receiving an FHA loan, or taking advantage of the G.I. Bill— job and educational benefits that were theoretically open to all veterans, but were administered in blatantly racist ways—was a badge of honor for millions. [including Even cash welfare for mothers with children] It was only when people of color began to gain significant access to government programs (and once they became the public face of government programs more broadly) that suddenly the so -called evil of an overly intrusive “nanny state” came to be seen as a problem.

Beginning in the 1960s to the mid-1970s, Welfare grew as backlogged cases of black applicants to move through the process, “increasing the ‘blackness’ of such programs in the white imagination”, which “helped plant the seeds of backlash with which we are still grappling”.

By the mid to late 1970s, with the image of welfare thoroughly racialized thanks to persistent media imagery that reinforced these notions, it became easy for manipulative politicians to play to those tropes, knowing that appeals to “less government,” advocating “lower taxes” and attacking “welfare fraud” would pay dividends at the polls. Occasionally, conservatives would even admit this had been their strategy.

This then leads into the now widely quoted statement by Lee Atwater (see http://www.thenation.com/article/exclusive-lee-atwaters-infamous-1981-interview-southern-strategy). There’s also the other significant quote of a Nixon aide: “you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognized this while not appearing to.

As conservatives and the Republican Party increasingly pushed buttons of racial resentment, while studiously avoiding the kinds of explicitly racist rhetoric common to previous reactionary politicians, the linkage between liberal social policy and handouts to African Americans became firmly concretized in the public mind.

From here, reference to the so-called “Reagan Democrats” who “express a profound distaste for blacks, a sentiment that pervades almost everything they think about government and politics. . . . Blacks constitute the explanation…for almost everything that has gone wrong in their lives. (Ironic, seeing that the same people willll be the ones to accuse blacks of “always blaming everybody but themselves for their problems”). Also, to them, “not living with blacks is what makes a neighborhood a decent place to live”.

In their minds, higher taxes were directly attributable to policies of a growing federal government; they were footing the bill for minority preference programs. If the public argument was cast as wasteful spending on people of weak values, the private discussions were explicitly racial.

“These white Democratic defectors ; .not being black is what constitutes being middle class; . These sentiments have important implications for Democrats, as virtually all progressive symbols and themes have been redefined in racial and pejorative terms.” It was this racialization of liberal and Democratic social policy, more than any other factor, which convinced white working-class and middle-class voters to support supply-side economics. After all, the fundamental premise of conservative economic policy by the 1980s was that taxes should be slashed for the wealthy so that the benefits might “trickle down”to the rest of us. It was a notion that would have met with widespread derision from most voters in the past, and which had never held much sway for them in previous decades, where direct government intervention to boost wages and job opportunities had long been the favored policies. But once taxes came to be seen largely as a redistribution scheme in which “productive”(read: white) people were burdened so as to benefit “lazy”(read: black) people, calls for tax cuts no longer required that one agree with or even understand the economic rationale for them; all that mattered now was that such cuts would stick it to blacks on behalf of a beleaguered and fiscally burdened white electorate. As Troutt explains, “Only racism could achieve the ideological union of the Republican rich with the working man (and woman). Nothing else could fuse their naturally opposed interests.”And when one considers that Reagan-era policies actually resulted in a higher tax burden for most working-class and middle-class Americans—and a cut only for wealthier types—it becomes even harder to square white working-class support for such policies with any notion of actual material self-interest. It was the rhetoric of smaller government and cutting taxes on the rich (envisioned as hard-working, as contrasted with folks of color) that made the difference, no matter the practical impact of trickle-down policies.

This is basically what Lopez termed “strategic racism”. The purveyors of this scheme can protest all they want that they have no hard feelings for black people (i.e. “hate” racism); some of their best friends are black, etc., but they clearly used this racialized resentment to pump billions of dollars into their own coffers, telling the people that it would trickle down to them, and then, when it hasn’t, that it would have trickled down if only the blacks weren’t getting all of it! And the entire conservative base believes it all!

Data is cited on how the federal tax rate increased for the middle class and  decreased for the richest 10 percent.

this hurt the middle class, as the vaunted trickle down never arrived. But it was working-class whites who bought the message that this model of fiscal conservatism, married to social conservatism in the form of a rollback of redistributive programs they perceived to favor blacks, would benefit them. It did not. Yet it established a popular political rhetoric by which lower-income whites can be counted on to take up against “liberal” policies that may actually serve their interests as long as opposition can be wrapped in the trappings of “traditional values,”“law and order,”“special interests,”“reverse racism,”and “smaller government.”This was . . . based on an erroneous notion . . . that whatever “the blacks”get hurts me. Ultimately it was the moral posturing of middle- and working-class whites—the sense that they were arbiters of decency, values and “proper” behavior, contrasted with blacks, who were violators of all three—which allowed so many of them to vote against their direct and immediate material interests, or at least to define those interests in highly racialized ways. It is this moral wage—a slight deviation from what Du Bois called the “psychological wage”of whiteness—that traditional liberals, progressives and leftists have always managed to underestimate.

This is where he points out that the Occupy movement and even Robert Reich, (whom he otherwise references positively several times), rarely talks much about racism and its centrality to white opposition to equity initiatives. I liked Beyond the Outrage, and see it as part of the much needed final silence-breaking of liberalism toward conservative rhetoric, and including Wise and others I’ve reviewed, such as Lopez and Alexander. Yet I too felt it would have been strengthened by connecting it with the racial dog whistling, and even Lopez himself said this (see https://erictb.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/book-review-robert-reich-beyond-outrage/#comment-3627).
However, not to judge, different people focus on different things, and the other three have addressed race pretty well, and since I myself have always believed in the use of “tact”, and since “whining” and “playing the race card” are often used by conservatives to deflect criticism, and then the economic denial and blaming is made central as to why minorities are such a “problem” to begin with, then it is good to have a book that goes stright to the heart of that issue and debunks all the economic rhetoric used to bolster the “dog whistling” and “culture of cruelty”. So Reich works perfectly with Lopez and Wise.

So continuing:

It’s as if white liberals and the white left are afraid to call out the obvious: Anger about big government is largely about the racialization of government efforts on behalf of the have-nots and have-lessers. Unless this reality is confronted, support for progressive social policy will be undermined, because a significant reason for opposition to such policies will go unaddressed.

Recent examples of how race frames our discussions about social policy abound, especially in the way that notions of moral deservingness influence that racial analysis. So, for instance, consider the way that the right talks about unemployment and poverty in the black community. As mentioned previously, it is common for conservatives to raise the issue of out-of-wedlock childbirth (or what they call “illegitimacy”) as the supposed “real problem”confronting the poor, and particularly the African American poor. If black women, according to this argument, would just stop having babies outside of marriage, the problems would essentially disappear. To this end, they regularly claim that the “rate of out-of-wedlock births”in the black community has skyrocketed, presumably because welfare programs have encouraged this tendency, or at least not done enough to discourage it. The argument conjures images of sexually libidinous and irresponsible black women—literally breeding new generations of dangerous, un-fathered others—as literal incubators of social decay. Such an image engenders contempt for poor women and their families and allows the notion of “personal responsibility” for that condition to remain intact. And it is persuasive despite the fact that the narrative is entirely false.

He acknowledges the high rate of all African American babies born to unwed mothers, “However, this figure does not mean what conservatives claim it means. While the political right uses these data to insist that black women and their male partners—and the larger culture from which they come—are increasingly irresponsible, the reality is, even though the share of out-of-wedlock births as a percentage of all black births has nearly doubled, the actual rate of births to unmarried black women has fallen dramatically.”, citing the relevant other statistics. Yet another example of how conservatives toss numbers around, but there are always other numbers with clarify things.

Regarding the other hot topic, of Obamacare, “Although the Obama health care plan was criticized as far too moderate by most all persons on the left, conservatives managed to characterize it as a big government boondoggle, making making it one of the most despised national efforts to help Americans in recent memory.” He cites the conservative commentators like Beck and Limbaugh, who cast it in blatantly racial terms such as “reparations for slavery” or a “civil rights bill” “affirmative action on steroids,”

By suggesting that any policy disproportionately benefiting those with lower income can be viewed as “payback for slavery”—since African Americans are disproportionately to be found among the poor—Beck could essentially prime the racial resentment that had animated white opposition to the notion of safety nets for forty-plus years. Any policy to assist the poor or unemployed, from unemployment insurance to college loan assistance to emergency food aid to early childhood education funding, can be seen as an anti-white confiscation scheme under this logic, thereby pushing buttons of racial resentment on cue when conjured by those like Beck.

Right-wing commentators have consistently race-baited in the Obama era, even attributing the president’s re-election in 2012 to government handouts to voters of color.

The notion that Obama has “given things”to constituents of color, and that these handouts made the difference in his victories, has been central to the Republican spin on their 2012 electoral defeat. Mitt Romney said that the president won because he had effectively courted “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people. . . . In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,”as if to suggest that it was merely government handouts of one form or another that allowed President Obama to win re-election. FOX host Stuart Varney insisted that President Obama and the Democratic Party are using SNAP benefits as a way to buy voter loyalty in interim elections—yet another attempt to play upon racialized and classist anger to stigmatize the nation’s safety net and its recipients. Suggesting that government handouts helped secure the re-election of Barack Obama, or that he uses welfare benefits to maintain political power, is a none-too-subtle way of telling voters that not only are black and brown folks sucking up taxpayer dollars, but more important, they are literally stealing elections from the more deserving white folks who used to run the show. The strategy and narrative is entirely one of implicit, if not explicit, white nationalism. So long as progressives fail to openly confront the way that racial resentment against folks of color has been used to weaken support for safety-net efforts, attempts to strengthen those safety nets will likely fail. According to a study from the Harvard Institute of Economic Research, it is white racial resentment and bias—and specifically, fear that blacks will take advantage of social programs—more than any other factor, that explains opposition to safety-net efforts in America.

Along the way, is mentioned subconscious and implicit biases, which “are more effective and do more harm when they are uninterrogated and allowed to remain in the background. By forcing them into the light of day, we force those who may be operating on the basis of those biases to confront their prejudices…since most Americans wish not to be seen as operating on the basis of racial bias”. This would perhaps force them “to see that they are being used. And not just used, but used by people who ultimately think so little of them that they assume their biases can forever and always trump their sense of justice, and are willing to bank on that cynical view.”

Beyond Facts: The Importance of Storytelling” (4527)

Again, he focuses on the effectiveness of a”narrative”, as used by the Right, and how the Left needs one.

As the previous section demonstrates, the power of stories is incredibly important. Because the right has been successful in telling a story about the poor, the unemployed and those in need of public assistance, they have been able to successfully pare back the contours of the so-called welfare state over the course of two generations. When the dominant narratives about such persons in the 1930s and 1940s concerned down-and-out white folks, buffeted by circumstances beyond their control, the operative response from most was one of sympathy and solidarity. Once those dominant narratives turned to stories about black families (and Latino families too), that sympathy dimmed considerably. Suddenly, the programs that had been popular became unpopular, and the very idea of government intervention on behalf of those in need became suspect. It wasn’t data or facts that changed; it was the narrative and who controlled it.

To pull out of the culture of cruelty and to live out the creedal notions that are so central to the ideal of America, we will need to tell very different stories. Facts and data, though helpful, cannot convince enough Americans that we desperately need to go in a different direction. After all, the facts have always been on the side of justice, but the other side has had the better story. Likewise, the left has long been good at mass mobilization and protest activity, and yet it seems as though every victory obtained by such movements, from the labor struggle to civil rights to the fight for women’s liberation, has been undermined, at least in part, because there hasn’t been a strong enough narrative to sustain them. The right has had the story of a land of opportunity, the story of rugged individualism, the story of welfare queens (like those Ronald Reagan was fond of telling), and the stories of Horatio Alger: the author who spun tales of young men who came from nothing and achieved greatness. Their stories are intoxicating and persuasive, irrespective of how divorced from the facts they may be. Until and unless progressives get better at telling stories—only in our case, stories that actually comport with sociological reality—we will continue to watch reactionaries dominate the discourse and set the policy agenda. After all, legislative victories for greater equity that occur today against the backdrop of a still embedded narrative of meritocracy can only go so far. Eventually, such victories will be undone by a storyline that suggests such policies are no longer needed, or have even gone “too far,” as with various social programs or equity efforts like affirmative action or desegregation.

From here, he goes into, again, how white Americans got where they are today by various means, such as “old-boys’networks for jobs, parental wealth or connections… the schools we were able to attend…the benefit of the doubt we’ve been given by teachers, employers and police…loans for college, underwritten by the government” in addition to “low-interest housing loans created by the government under the FHA program”, the G.I. Bill,  rural electrification programs, and the mortgage interest deduction, which disproportionately benefitted upper-middle-class families.

Currently, the problem is that most Americans who have benefited from government programs (often several of them) don’t see it, and unless those who do are willing to openly claim their status as beneficiaries, it may remain hard for this consciousness to spread.

He then gives his own story, rising up as a writer, educator and leading human rights voice. He acknowledge that this is largely “because of circumstances beyond my control”, such as his first job out of college working in the campaigns against David Duke, which was “a critical springboard for me, without which it is doubtful I’d be doing what I’m doing today”. Ths led to other places and positions, and also government grants and loans, and a bank loan. His grandmother’s house was used as collateral, and the house itself had been able to be purchased by his late grandfather with cash, and which his grandmother now owned, free and clear. This goes into practuially his grandfather’s whole life.
“Though I know there are some who insist that there is no such thing as luck or that we make our own luck, I cannot fathom how I made any of the above happen.”

Trying to explain this concept of “privilege” to someone, the person “had spent the last five minutes explaining to me how great his father was…and yet, I explained, I was having a hard time understanding what in the world this fact had to do with him, the son. He, after all, was sixteen and had done exactly nothing, beyond perhaps acing his Algebra II final. The accomplishments, the hard work, the determination and the sacrifice had been his father’s doing. Unless the son believed that somehow he had earned his father, perhaps in a past life …”

This is a vitally important point to understand: even if someone really did “make it on their own,”without help from anyone else—an absurdity, but one we can indulge for the sake of the point I wish to make—by the time they pass any of the benefits of those accomplishments down to children, we are no longer talking about something that is earned or deserved. At that point, we are talking about being able to start a race ahead of someone else for reasons owing neither to one’s own merit nor to another’s deficit. How would that be any different from a society based on royal lineage and pure aristocracy? It wouldn’t be different at all.

(Note: At this point, religious conservatives may appeal to “children pay for the sins of their fathers”, and some Calvinists ⦅including the old view of the Puritans⦆ will even connect it with election or “providence”, and in their view, man is still held “responsible” for what God decrees!)

He then goes into Bill Gates, who “was in the right place at the right time. Not only would he have missed out on those opportunities had he remained in the public school, but even if he had gone to a different prep school would he have missed out.
As Gates himself puts it: “I had better exposure to software development at a young age than I think anyone did at that period of time, all because of an incredibly lucky series of events.” (For the irony, see https://erictb.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/gates-entry-in-generational-fingerpointing-rhetoric But then who knows if the person actually says the stuff on a meme like that)

Then goes into the success of groups, such as American Jews (who are often used as the prime example of comparatve black “failure”, see https://erictb.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/book-review-dog-whistle-politics/#comment-3689).

He cites billionaire investor Nick Hanauer (who also admitted to his success was due largely to “timing and luck” such as knowing the right people, rather than smply “skill and hard work”): “No society can sustain this kind of rising inequity. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulates like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me an unequal society, and I’ll show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”

So from this, he’s getting into the detrimental effect of such disparity on the economy (this is perhaps the most powerful statement in the book):

To believe that the forces of justice and equality would prevail in such an encounter is to ignore most of human history, and betrays an utter ignorance as to the strength of the American Oligarchy. Before the first battle of any revolution could be won, let alone before ther power of the ruling force could be brought down by force, the stewards of global capitalism could push a button and transfer billions of dollars to overseas investment banks, push another button and book themselves on the next plane to some island paradise, and then skip town. With that, they could leave the rest of us to pick up the pieces of a completely shattered society they had rigged to implode without the continued infusion of the capital they had accumulated off the work of others.

Note: this is so eerily similar to what my father said one day in a household political rant in the 80’s or early 90’s, and which really fired up my desire to counter all forms of dog-whistling. The oligarchs “go home to their mansions every night, look at [the ‘angry white middle class’ masses] and laugh”, he surmised. When it all goes down, they’ll just “get on a plane, and go somewhere else”. When this happens, who will they likely place the blame on: “the niggers!“, as my father sarcastically sneered. The ideological mechanism is already in place. Blacks and their desire for “free stuff” and the supposed tax burden on the rich is supposedly why these oligarchs are already taking their money out of the country, and the Right is steadily, incessantly, loudly leveling the blame, as racial tension continues to grow these days.

If the system goes down lke that, expect all of these angry masses (with their stockpile of guns and other weapons), including the militias (which will definitely grow), to finally stop complaining and actually DO something, like perhaps gathering together and storming the cities to take out all of these “lowlifes” who “brought down” their country. All of those people I’ve cited elsewhere, who want “fingers pointed” and “blame” cast (i.e. “isolating” and “splitting”), at “the Negro problem in America”, which is obviously to them, the MAIN problem, will finally arise. All of these people who blame our leaders and Obama for “dividing the country”, and who say we have no right to oppose police violence, and that all we want to do is “rob, rape, loot”, or be given everything for “free” (as is nonstop claimed, and virtually unanswered for generations, so that it all the more seems like infallible, divinely revealed “truth”), and that our demonstrations are creating all the violence; they will have the go ahead to finally confront this “threat”. All of that constituted more than the “first shot” in the “war”, and now it will be their “defensive” counterattack! Their Confederate ancestors vowed “the South shall rise again” as their ideal national economy formed around slavery was smashed and hordes of these people, who were in their view not fit for full freedom, were unleashed into the public; and here is their chance to finally make it happen, by going directly after the people supposedly at the center of their ideal nation’s demise from the Civil War to the present; “the cause of almost everything that has gone wrong in their lives” as we saw above.
The militant angry blacks might try to fight back, but will obviously be outnumbered and especially outgunned, and as my father also foresaw, the black middle class will be trapped in the middle of all of this. And whatever stature they have in society won’t help them. It will be what Rowan’s book had been predicting all along!

This of course will pave the way for such measures as martial law and a police state. All in the name of “freedom”; this is what it will boil down to, but of course, it will be the blacks’ fault, or the “libtards” who freed them and gave them the nation’s wealth. “Freedom must be earned”, but these people have only “taken” and not “earned”, and so forfeit freedom, as the thinking seems to go.

So even if people did go after the rich, and “Even were they to stay, they have the military, they have the apparatus of law enforcement and they have the material resources to crush such an uprising long before it delivered anything of value to the people.” This “would be met with a true police state almost certainly, and absent a well-established counter-narrative that has effectively challenged the fundamental assumptions of American ideology first, it would be a police state likely welcomed and cheered by the majority.” [Despite all the “libertarian” lingo they idealize as the “true American value”. This shows the “Shadow” of anti-leftist conservatives, and how you can become exactly the very thing you always hate].

It is high time all the conservatives and libertarians, many of whom can acknowledge the threat of globalism (as this basically boils down to), and often pitch global conspiracy theories (and also see the current two party system as corrupt), to see what is really going on, and stop extolling and defending the rich, and blaming who their pundits tell them to; namely their neighbors or the poor beneath them!
It is time to stop trashing the opposite political wing as “libtards” and “mentally diseased” “sheeple” as you are being led down the same trail being played by the true power brokers.

So this then leads to the never-can-be-repeated-enough tome of the need for a “narrative”:

One of the common mistakes of the left, it seems to me, is our tendency to want very specific ideas—some reformist, some revolutionary—about how we get from point A to point Z, without first attending to this all-important step of changing the narrative and the vision currently running through the heads of most Americans. If the narrative people are hearing is one about meritocracy and how “you can be anything you want if you just work hard enough”, then nothing we propose has much chance of going very far, because the need for any significant cultural and social change would be rejected. You don’t need major changes when the society is basically fair already, the thinking goes.

He then draws an analogy to how parents discipline their children, and while withholding true luxuries such as playing with their toys or friends, they would be considered cruel if withholding basic necessities such as food, medicine or shelter, the way we do when doing the same things as a country, under the guise of a “free society”, or “the marketplace”.
(Note: At first, seems like a very good analogy, but they’ll just point out that you’re talking about grown people and not “dependent” children, and use the very comparison as a prime example of the “nanny state” mentality, as they call it).


“The stewards of global capitalism could push a button and transfer billions of dollars overseas, and then skip town, leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces of a society they had rigged to implode”

Answers the claim that the poor today in America have it better than many others.

He then continues comparing things like having a nicer stereo than someone else, to basic necessities such as health care (including preventative).
He then points out how this can even affect their overall success in life (the point the conservatives always miss):

If you have to sweat basic matters of survival, you aren’t as likely to follow your passions, take a risk and start your own business or nonprofit group, pursue the education you’ve always wanted, or event take time to breathe and contemplate who you are and who you want to become. If you have to worry about those necessities, you’ll toil away at a job you hate for years, just to put food on the table…but you’ll never become the person you were meant to be

He continues:

it’s easy to take risks when you’re already rich, because you have your safety net. For the poor and working class, taking the same risks—quitting a low paying job to start up that bakery you always wanted to own, or to make their own furniture, or market their own jewelry line—would be putting too much at risk. It would be too big a gamble.
Conservatives and the wealthy get just about everything wrong when it comes to human nature. They think innovation and risk taking derives from free market insecurity and uncertainty, and they…act as though unless people know they can become filthy rich without having their mega-earnings taxed away, they won’t work hard.

Turning back to the race factor:

Impoverished kids of color—and even similar white children—are routinely herded into overcrowded schools, given very different materials than kids receive in affluent public or private schools, forced to drill for stadardized tests in order to graduate, and turned into little more than raw material on an educational conveyor belt that seems almost tailor made for filling low wage job slots.

He suggests people who see low income communities as spaces of perseverance, determination and untapped strengths should be the first hired in schools in those communities “rather than relying —as does the current deficit model of schooling in such spaces—on presumptions of pathology and dysfunction that need to be broken by outsiders with no intrinsic connections to the people being served.”
Conclusion: Maintaining hope amid struggle

Points out (as I’ve said sometimes, more indirectly) that the wealthy minority (rather than being our true hereoes) are the ones who don’t care about the nation.

They are profoundly un-American in the only way that really matters—in terms of whether one believes in the principles of equal opportunity and fairness upon which we have staked so much as a people. They have made their desire clear. They want the world for themselves and others like them; they see it as their personal playground, within which their prerogatives, desires and whims take precedence over antiquated concepts like freedom and liberty. Or perhaps the simply view the world as a place where those quaint words can and should be redefined by them to mean freedom and liberty for them and their money. As for that other value, democracy? They never much bought into that one to begin with. Why should they? After all, they can manage to get what they want without it.

He also reiterates “we have left too much of the script be written by others.” And it will become “a national horror story with no happy ending and very little chance at a quality sequel”.

we must push back against the common and thoroughly despicable rhetoric of the right, to the effect that we of the left—whether the watered down and liberal version of it presented by President Obama or the more radical version of it manifested in the Moral Mondays, Occupy and #BlackLivesMatter movements—somehow “don’t love” and perhaps even “hate” America, that we are the ones cynical about our nation and its people.

(Note: though this is certainly true of many, especially in the more activistic or separationist black movements).

while patriotism can be a dangerous ideology, often wedded to destructive and divisve nationalism which devolves into a blind and militant devotion and renders one unable or unwilling to engage in the kind of critique needed to make the nation worthy of praise, true love of country suggests quite the opposite. Loving one’s country, as with loving one’s children, means struggling with that nation in hopes of making it better.

(Note: the flipside of the parent-child analogy mentioned earlier!).
So “it’s not the Left that hates the country, let alone its people; it is the right, it is the financially affluent minority who would mortgage the future of that country, its people and all of its principles for the sake of their own continued privileges and power.”
The final message “Let’s be bold in our efforts and even bolder in our vision”.

Truly a must read (that needs to be shouted from the mountain tops), in this day and age!

 

 

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