Opening Day for the BetaFiles on Substack

Today I am launching the new Substack page for The BetaFiles where our premium content will be housed. The page will act as a weekly newsletter where new material will be posted for the subscribers of the page.

This newsletter will be broken up into columns each week featuring Reflections from Richard Cranium (the same Richard Cranium from Now See This Here Now Then) and a column of my own called Tales from a Middle Age Father which will look at different aspects of the world through a Generation-X lens. Beginning in May 2021, I will also be posting the first (of what I hope to be many) serialized novels. These will be posted as a chapter a week until the novel is complete at which time I will publish the completed version on Amazon.

You will also have access to our Podcast, The Optic Poet, here as well which will be posted each week on Wednesday for free. The Podcast covers different topics from the perspective of two middle aged white guys trying to find the right way to live in this ever-changing world. It usually ends in a big laugh…

For the first month, March 2021, all content will be FREE! In April, I will set up a paywall for all written content with the exception of two free articles a month. If you enjoy what you read here, you can subscribe for $6 a month or $65 a year. A subscription includes access to ALL content as it is published plus access to the full archive. If you choose to be a patron who wants to give more than the $6 / $65 a year subscription, you may do so up to $200 a year. Patrons will have access to the FULL archive.

Non-paying subscribers will only have access to free articles (anything published in March 2021, and the two free articles per month mentioned above) and the podcast each Wednesday.

Only paying subscribers will have the ability to comment on articles.

Look for weekly articles and stories here, podcasts here, YouTube Videos here, our Facebook page here, or Instagram here.

And that’s that. Welcome to The BetaFiles on Substack. I truly hope you enjoy the material…

The Hate Machine Essays: Cherry-Picking for an Affluent Liberal Class.

“The summer began on May 25, when the police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in Minneapolis, Minnesota, suffocating his pleas for life. Largely peaceful demonstrations followed, and Trump tweeted: ‘These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen.’ He added, ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts.’” – Ibram X. Kendi, The Atlantic

As we inch closer to November, the vitriolic nature of political rhetoric is heating up. We, as the public audience of this charade, will continue to be blasted by half-truths, rhetorical sleight-of-hand, and most importantly the age old employment of cheery picking information to create a false narrative bought and sold by lobbyists on each side of the aisle and their mainstream media cohorts. In other words, the battle for the collective mind is at full force and is getting louder with each passing day.

On September 9, The Atlantic ran a story from the nation’s leading “anti-racist” scholar (the same man who made the phrase a household word) Ibram X. Kendi, which characterized the resistance to this summer’s civil unrest as the “violent defense of white male supremacy.” In particular, he points to several specific responses by President Trump of these instances, and then uses them to paint a broad view that any crime committed by white males is subject to a “presumption of innocence…for wealthy cisgender heterosexual white men like Trump.” In his article, he lays out an argument that turns into an anti-Trump election commercial. Complete with evasion of facts and mischaracterizations of events that we saw unfold in edited and redacted forms on MSNBC, CNN, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and yes, even my beloved Atlantic. Like most Americans who were caught in the onslaught of minimal coverage that shaped narratives in the form of “look children, the old orange man is a racist” narratives, Kendi attacks the current administration in covert usage of simple phrases, misleading quotes, misdirected outrage, and politics 101 catch phrases.

In the opening paragraph, he begins his narrative with the above (italicized for emphasis and dramatic effect) quote. Note the line, “largely peaceful demonstrations,” then note the “and Trump tweeted:”. It is important to realize a few things about this early and deliberate example:  1) that in the second paragraph of the article, he has already told you the reader that this is going to be about Trump and his blatant racism. 2) You should be pissed as hell that Trump showed his blatant racism (even though left-leaning media bashes this shit into our brains every friggin’ day), he is already putting misguided information into the article to complete the aforementioned tasks. The truth: Trump was not tweeting about the demonstrations. He was tweeting about the riots that accompanied the demonstrations.

What Kendi does not do is mention the “nearly $82 million in damage sustained during the civil unrest that followed George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police,” the move by Minneapolis to “no longer require property owners to prepay the second half of their property taxes in order to start removing rubble from sites damaged in the May riots,” the fact that “[i]n the first few days after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, rioters tore through dense stretches of Minneapolis, St. Paul and other metro communities in retaliation, causing millions in property damage to more than 1,500 locations,”  and the glaring fact that “[h]eaping violent contempt on an 8 p.m. curfew declaration and on widespread pleas for forbearance and peace, rioters rampaged across Minneapolis for a fourth night Friday [May 29, 2020] and into early Saturday [May 30, 2020], creating unprecedented havoc as they set towering fires, looted and vandalized businesses and shot at police officers, all in response to the death of an unarmed black man under a white police officer’s knee on Monday.”

But when you’re creating and sustaining an orange boogieman, you can’t talk about those things. He wouldn’t be as racist as you’d need him to be.

Kendi then focuses on Officer Derek Chauvin and Youngster Kyle Rittenhouse as the pieces that “bookended the summer of Trumpism.” This tactic also draws the reader away from the intent of those original tweets in response to the riots and instead implies that the real violent provocateurs of the summer were uncontrolled white CIS gendered heterosexual monsters who would of course vote for Trump because they too would simply “grab them by the pussy.”

Kendi also mischaracterizes and leaves out specific information in his relation of the Kyle Rittenhouse story. From his telling, “Kyle Rittenhouse borrowed an AR-15-style assault rifle from a friend and allegedly fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony M. Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz. These three people had been demonstrating in Kenosha, Wisconsin, against the police shooting of Jacob Blake two days earlier.” What Kendi does not mention is that these three victims were NOT demonstrators or protestors. These three men were part of a group of activists that were intent on setting fire to local businesses in Kenosha. They were not there to peacefully protest the systemic violence against minorities or to demonstrate against the shooting of an unarmed black man. They were there to riot and destroy property.

Oh, and they were WHITE.

Kendi ties all of this to revolt against an America that does not belong to him.

The three long, hot months from May 25 to August 25 compressed 413 years of American history into a cellphone video in which anyone could easily see the history for what it has always been: the violent “self-defense” of white male supremacy. Colonialism, capitalism, slavery and slave trading, Indian removal, manifest destiny, colonization, the Ku Klux Klan, Chinese exclusion, disenfranchisement, Jim Crow, eugenics, massive resistance, ‘law and order,’ Islamophobia, family separation—all were done in the name of defending life or civilization or freedom.

This is done by design. In order for the argument to work, he must bring in historical precedence to show that Rittenhouse, Chauvin, and Trump are all a part of a long line of white men who wake up everyday with the clear intent of killing black people. That white men themselves are the ultimate enemy, and only Joe Biden can save us from them (even though he is a CIS gendered white heterosexual male).

But this rhetorical play to disillusion the American public about what the real story is can also be found in another article in the Atlantic cloaked cleverly in a review of the HBO film Coastal Elites. In this article, Hannah Giorgis criticizes the film as depicting an unreal critique of liberal elites that has become old and passé:

Their provincialism is the real ill plaguing the country, Coastal Elites argues—never mind the ravages of COVID-19, the steady violence of a racist criminal-justice system, or the worsening threat to voting access. The film, which airs tonight, instead fixates on the problem of ambient divisiveness and offers naive takeaways. If the headstrong liberals of California and the Northeast corridor would simply listen to the everyman of the heartland, Coastal Elites posits, perhaps we’d all be a little less hysterical.

In other words, if Hannah Giorgis would simply ask why Tucker Carlson is #1 in cable news, she might see that this critique is still relevant – and it will most likely get Trump re-elected since the “coastal elites” still don’t understand that the middle American is still pissed, hungry, and not buying their bullshit.

She also, like Kendi, drudges up the same rhetoric that liberal news outlets have been hammering for the last four years. Yeah, we know Trump is narcissistic, yeah we know that the liberals are terrified that Trump won’t leave if he loses, yeah we know he’s a racist, yeah we know he’s orange, blah, blah, blah.  

Hidden in both of these articles is a real fear that the movement that defined the summer is losing steam – because it is. BLM “protestors” are being infiltrated by antifa extremists (just like Occupy was) and the once peaceful movement that promised real systemic observations and change is now being seen by the heartland as a metropolitan anarchist force that threatens to not take away their freedom, but their security and belief systems. The middle American is not buying this narrative that the liberal media is writing. Again, that can be seen in the sheer number of people who are tuning into Tucker Carlson every night verses Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper.

So the rhetoric is heating up. And will continue to heat up. The narratives are going to get further away from the truth, the anxiety that will be reported will increase, and no one will be listening to the real voices screaming for help because, lets face it, this isn’t about how racist Trump may or may not be. This is about power. And it looks like, once again, the liberals are realizing that they overplayed their hand too quickly.

The Hate Machine Essays: Internal Plagiarism as Narrative Control

So the Great and Powerful Orange made an appearance with Chris Wallace this weekend and gave the national media machine its weekly dose of talking points that will serve Hayes, Maddow, Reid, Cooper, Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham, and Lemon hours of material until at least Wednesday. He was able to cover everything in a spray tanned lacquer of idiocy and 70+ year-old ramblings that sounded more like the “get off my lawn” rhetorical patterns of Bernie than the wisdom of a President. Of course, I clicked on one of the articles in the New York Times to see what this wonderfully drawn caricature of Grandpa run amuck had to say and a sentence caught my eye briefly. I moved on and finished the article to find at the bottom in suggested reading another article that pointed directly to one part of the main article, so I clicked it. In it, I found a line that sounded a lot like the sentence I had seen in the previous article. I hit the back button and found I was right – the exact same line had been used. Word for word. Out of pure curiosity, I copied it and set Google to work to find a third article from the Times using the exact same sentence, word for word. Three different authors, three different days, three different articles. Same line. Word for word.

In ShortFiles #5 on our YouTube channel, I dug through an episode of Anderson Cooper 360 and deconstructed the rhetoric that he employed that night. One of the most glaring tools that he employed was the constant repeated phrase “photo op” to re-enforce the negative spin on the actions of President Trump that evening. I predicted that the phrase would be seen the next morning in all the elite media outlets, and of course, it was there in article after article. I point this out because the New York Times articles I noted above are employing a similar tactic to spin a recently contentious fact that Trump eluded to at least twice in the national media: more white people are killed by police every year than black people. To enforce the new doctrine of racial equality through a postmodern lens of structured power that has systemically destroyed the lives of minorities only, the statistics are handled in a way to focus on the per ca-pita notion that blacks are targeted more often than whites even though the over all numbers show a death rate of whites to blacks as significantly higher.

Let me first point out that I have no problem with the argument that per ca-pita numbers show a much needed reform of police in terms of how they approach minorities – specifically blacks. It is well documented and is becoming a well-deserved and overdue call to action against policies within our institutions that limit the advancement of people of color.

What I want to focus on, however, is not whether the statistics are viable or valuable, but instead on how the response to Trump’s claim has been galvanized by the media to rhetorically create a moral guide to how we approach this problem, and how it creates a specific dividing line by clarifying through blatant spin which side is the “good” side.

So let’s dive in:

July 14, 2020 – “Asked About Black Americans Killed by Police, Trump Says, ‘So Are White People’” Jeremy W. Peters

“Statistics show that while more white Americans are killed by the police over all, people of color are killed at higher rates.”

July 14, 2020 – “The White House Called a News Conference. Trump Turned It Into a Meandering Monologue.” Peter Baker

“Statistics show that while more white Americans are killed by the police over all, people of color are killed at higher rates when accounting for population differences.”

July 20, 2020 – “Trump Leans Into False Virus Claims in Combative Fox News Interview” Katie Rogers

“Statistics show that while more white Americans are killed by the police over all, people of color are killed at higher rates.”

*Note that the first and third examples leave out what can be assumed as part of the the original sentence “…when accounting for population differences.”

What this shows is a concerted effort by the Times editors to make sure that the message stays intact and that any one who hears about this from Trump (or anyone else who brings this to light) is pointed in the right direction so the current narrative of systemic white supremacy wokeness is preserved for the national audience. What this repeated sentence represents is spin, or what Gerald Graff called “metacommentary” where the author uses logos to point the audience in a specific direction by explaining how the audience is supposed to read the text. This then establishes a firewall of sorts against the real fact that the argument has flaws. Not that it isn’t valid, but that it is flawed and demands a broader discussion. But, as repeatedly demonstrated through history, if the author allows a broader discussion on a weak argument the result is a loss of power in controlling the narrative, and thus, losing power in the establishment.

Control the narrative = control the world.

Well, ok, so the Times used a classic rhetorical strategy to attempt to assert control over a message being received by the general public. So what? The Washington Post and The Guardian got in on this too among several others.

From the Washington Post:

June 8, 2020 – “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people.” Mark Berman, John Sullivan, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins

“Nearly half of all people fatally shot by police are white. Most of these shootings draw little or no attention beyond a news story…Since The Post began tracking the shootings, black people have been shot and killed by police at disproportionate rates — both in terms of overall shootings and the shootings of unarmed Americans. The number of black and unarmed people fatally shot by police has declined since 2015, but whether armed or not, black people are still shot and killed at a disproportionately higher rate than white people.”

July 15, 2020 – “Asked about police brutality against black Americans, Trump says ‘more white people’ are being killed” Felicia Sonmez

“In absolute numbers, more white people than black people are killed by police in the country. According to a Washington Post analysis last month, 45 percent of those shot and killed by police since 2015 were white, while 23 percent were black. But white people comprise 60 percent of the U.S. population, while black people make up only 13 percent. Thus, black people are fatally shot by police at a higher rate than white people”

From The Guardian:

July 14, 2020 – “Trump twists stats on police brutality: ‘more white people’ are killed” Joanna Walters

“More white people are killed by police annually in the US, but Black Americans are killed at a far higher rate…The Guardian’s investigative project The Counted in 2015-2016 that set out to record all people in the US killed by police showed that Black people in America were more than twice as likely to be killed by the police than white people.

And in 2016 Black men ages 15-34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers, and they were killed at four times the rate of young white men.

A similar 2016 analysis by the Washington Post also found that African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be shot and killed by police offers as white Americans.

Another study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2018 found that African Americans are 3.5 times as likely to be killed by police compared to white people.”

*In the last article from The Guardian, there is an editor’s note at the bottom that states, “This article was amended on 16 July 2020 to clarify that while more white Americans are killed by police each year, Black Americans are killed at a far higher rate.” Unfortunately, I was too late to find and capture the original version to compare what they had added against what they originally reported.

What these articles show is that the Times was not the only one pushing this spin of the statistics. The media establishment as a larger concerted effort was on the rush to clarify quickly how the statistics needed to be digested. What we see is the liberal message of systemic white supremacy being challenged, not by a fringe loving President who cannot be taken seriously, but by actual numbers that reflect, again, a weakness in the argument. In order for the media to contain the argument as one of racial divide and problematic cultural design, they have to get in front of the message as quickly as possible and turn the audience away from the actual problem by flashing a shiny object to distract.

The articles above also show the concerted effort and establishment of the narrative over a period of time. Note that the Washington Post first addressed this issue on June 8 during the early stages of the movement surrounding George Floyd. This is where the media can lay the ground work for their counter claims IF the counter claims are needed.

Then, on July 14 and July 15, the bulk of the counter claims came, all presenting the same message (in the case of the Times, word for word) after Trump held both a press conference and interview with CBS. On the 20th, reinforcement of the established counter claim is presented in reaction to Trump’s third public mention of the statistics. The narrative, by that point, had been established and the media could simply cruise on as their counter claim was now well documented for them to repeatedly cite. All they’re really doing is citing the same lines (in the case of the Times, word for word) that have been distributed across liberal leaning media outlets to invoke a fake ethos (credibility) that actually exists in a tightly kept echo chamber. It’s the exact same problem that Christians run into when they try to establish that their arguments are just even though they are using one source…and that source (The Bible) internally cites itself in an endless circle of self justification that leaves no chance for actual debate. The media machine has created a vacuum of articles that say the exact same thing that they are able to reference over and over as credible diverse voices that are coming from pre-manufactured points of view. Any attempt to counter this is, as with the Bible, answered with more of the vacuum, keeping the argument tightly sealed against opposition.

I wanted to finish this little exercise by again noting that these are not the ONLY outlets that did this, they just happened to be the top of the Google search when I went curiously looking for the statement, “Statistics show that while more white Americans are killed by the police over all, people of color are killed at higher rates.” In terms of hits, Google presented 48,000,000+ results in the general search, and 137,000+ results in the news search. Even though a Google search is lacking in terms of scientific validity, I think the overall impression of how the content of the sentence itself is spread so widely over the internet shows that these examples represent a much larger effort to control narrative by a small fringe group on the left using classic rhetorical methods. The result, as noted above, is a blatant fleecing of the American public of genuine discourse and any attempt of true resolution to a very real problem.

This is no conspiracy theory, this is real. And it is happening under our very noses.

In My Life

7/19/80

I was hell bent on getting that dog to stay in that box. I had spent all morning on trying to create a home for him so he could sleep in my room. He was having none of it hence why I’m holding him in the picture. As soon as my mother snapped the photo, he jumped out and ran away. What you don’t see in the picture is not only my mother with her Instamatic camera taking the picture, but my dad standing beside her as she did. After words, I would get dressed and play with something else. My dad would make his way outside to mow the lawn. A few hours later, my father and I both took naps – he in the living room on the couch and I in my bed. He never woke up.

It was July 19, 1980.

That picture can almost be seen as a metaphor for what happened later that day. Frozen for a moment was control, intentioned order that presented a picture of success. A moment later, the façade crumbles leaving an empty box and a confused child.

I’ve struggled with this day for forty years. What memories I have are few and sketchy. I was three. The two brief pictures I still see with my mind’s eye are the ambulance in our drive way from our neighbor’s sliding glass door, and the figure of my mother at the top of their stairs to their basement hours later when she came to take me home.

“Where’s Daddy?”

“Daddy is at the hospital.”

“When’s he coming home?”

“He’s not coming home.”

No child under five can really comprehend what that means, and it would take a strength that I can’t even fathom for my mom to attempt to explain to me, a three year old, what that really meant when she sat me down later that evening on our porch. My response was that of a child that young, “we’ll have to get another daddy.” It wasn’t that I was callous or was able to just get rid of my father, it’s just simple math for a kid. Something is missing so replace it. That simple.

Time, however, explains everything more clearly. In the last forty years each day has brought clarification to what happened. The sudden and complete destruction of my mom’s and my own world. We’ve been rebuilding ever since; that work will never be complete.

Human beings don’t truly understand the complete devastation death can provide until it hits quickly and suddenly. Empathy comes from experience most of the time, but the crush of sudden loss is a firsthand experience, and the doubt of the future comes full force to the present in ways that even poetry cannot fully explain. Four decades have taught me that.

Years after he passed, I found in his old writings a letter he had written called, “My Shadow.” In it, my father wrote to me attempting to pass wisdom, love, and experience through scribbles of pencil lead. Every so often I dig it out and read it. It’s the only conversation I still have with him where he is addressing me directly and I count myself lucky that I have it.

“Your small figure racing across the yard stirs every fond emotion I can feel. I feel a certain desperation in my desire to blanket you with protection against a world that is filled with uncertainty…It is, perhaps, a sad admission, but my personal hope for the future lies not in my own past contributions to the world but in you and my contributions to your heart and mind. Your abilities to handle a life, predestined to be more complicated and demanding than mine, depends, to a large extent, on how you have been prepared for it…Your tomorrow has arrived. The many yesterdays that have preceded today can only become meaningful if you exercise your abilities as you envision them to be…[B]e proud of not only of where you are going but also of where you have been.”

I have tried so often, failed a few times, succeeded a few others, to follow his creed to me. At this point in my life, I don’t really care if he would or would not be proud of who I have grown to be. My concern is if I can do what he had wanted to do for me. As a father myself, I judge not against him but myself using his simple template he left me in the letter. That is how he continues to live on.

Forty years ago, my dad took a nap. The consequences of that nap have been crushing, enlightening, expiring, and confusing. But it also made me who I am. That nap was the seminal moment of my life, and to ignore or forget it would be folly. To learn from it, from the moments afterwards, from the years of fear, sadness, and longing, is the key to survival and becoming the father he tried to be for me.

Forty years ago, my dad took a nap. He never woke up.

But I did.

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

“Our job as Americans…is to dislodge the traitors from every place where they’ve been sent to do their traitorous work.”

This quote represents the ongoing fight in America against the tyranny of a long held destructive philosophy. The man who spoke it chose his side against an evil that was corrupting minorities within the social fabric of our country. Defending against the threat, he laid his career on the line, sacrificed his public standing, and helped solidify American values in the public eye while also helping to corner and suppress the very people who threatened to destroy the values of American democracy that had been built on shaky and questionable individuals he sought to rid from the history books. We should all hail him as a true American hero who helped set the template by which our current culture is adhering in the current movement to root out racial inequalities in every aspect of our culture. Join me as I thank Mr. Joseph McCarthy, Junior Senator from Wisconsin.

The Atlantic published an article recently that documented the cases of three people who have been victims of the current surge in cancel culture. The argument of the piece is that we need to step back and pay attention to who we are destroying – yes DESTROYING – in this rush to rapidly cleanse our culture of racial inequalities. As I read that article, and several others over the past week, my mind couldn’t help but to wonder back to the Murrow v. McCarthy discussions from my American Lit classes. Specifically to the “black list” that the McCarthy era created, the lives destroyed, the never turning back.

“The loss of his job has left Cafferty shaken. A few days ago, he spoke with a mental-health counselor for the first time in his life. ‘A man can learn from making a mistake,’ he told me. ‘But what am I supposed to learn from this? It’s like I was struck by lightning.’

The man being quoted above was a hardworking, blue collar, politically unaffiliated man of mixed decent. The offense that led to the loss of his job was incorrectly giving the “OK” symbol. Caught on camera. By a complete stranger. Posted on Twitter. As Jonathan Pie noted in his most recent YouTube video, “this way into the incinerator, please.”

Over the past few weeks, I have grown very agitated at our culture. First at the arrogance of the policemen who were involved with George Floyd, then at the media for how they were blatantly skewing the coverage of the protests and riots, and now with the obscene nature of the cancel culture. The amount of anxiety this current wave of shaming people in public has created has gone too far. We are so arrogant in our political ideals in this country that we refuse to learn the lessons of the most atrocious moments of our past, and repeat them all the way down to the very means by which we destroy lives permanently without allowing ANY kind of forgiveness or mercy.

Ok, so you tore down a few statues, you ruined the lives of countless innocent people without looking into who these people are, you won a few primary victories in the northeast and Kentucky. You have successfully pressured the press into weeding out journalists that have questioned the very nature of this movement, you have successfully ruined individuals who presented well thought out responses with your own intellectual creeds, and you have finally brought the discussion of race to the forefront of the American discussion in ways that Dr. Martin Luther King could have never imagined.

Now what?

Whether you want to admit it, your current movement is not purification of the culture. Your current movement is not democratic in the slightest. Your current movement is not for the everyman you claim will benefit the most.

However, it is, based on the simple patterns of where you are heading, mirroring the French Revolution, The Bolshevik revolution, the Cuban revolution, McCarthyism, Mao, the rise of Mussolini, and the rise of the third Reich. No, you do not share their ideologies, but you share their natures in rooting out that which you deem undesirable. Your carelessness in ruining the lives of innocent people with your MAC from the comfort of an IKEA chair is no different than Robespierre weeding out dissenters in Paris or Hitler weeding out communists in Germany or Stalin, or Mao, or etc…

You are no better. And the world that you are creating (separate from the one you wanted) will bear zero resemblance to the harmonic world you strive for. You are creating a zero tolerance state in the name of tolerance. You are creating a diverse nation void of any diversity. You are allowing your own ideology to create a definitive rule of law that promotes extreme exclusion without any kind of wavering from the narrative you deem acceptable. To put it simple: you are creating the very thing you are railing against, and you are thrusting us farther into that hole.

“These cases do not negate the good that can, and hopefully will, come from America’s newfound determination to root out racial injustice. Given the gravity of police misconduct in this country, there is little doubt in my mind that the overall thrust of the changes set in motion by the protests over the murder of George Floyd is highly positive. Nevertheless, it would be a big mistake—especially for those who deeply care about social justice—to dismiss the fate of people such as Cafferty, Shor, and Wadi as a minor detail or a necessary price for progress.

First, these incidents damage the lives of innocent people without achieving any noble purpose.

Second, such injustices are liable to provoke a political backlash. If a lot of Americans come to feel that those who supposedly oppose racism are willing to punish the innocent to look good in the public’s eyes, they could well grow cynical about the enterprise as a whole.

Third, those of us who want to build a better society should defend the innocent because movements willing to sacrifice justice in the pursuit of noble goals have, again and again, built societies characterized by pervasive injustice.

One of the core tenets of liberal democracy is that people should not be punished for accusations against them that are unsubstantiated, for actions that are perfectly reasonable, or for offenses that were committed by others. No matter how worthy the cause they invoke, you should not trust anyone who seeks to abandon these fundamental principles.” – Yascha Mounk

I plead with you now – stop it. Change can happen if given time and patience and, most importantly, diligence. Change of rapid succession based on Twitter posts and virtual mobs of iPhone users is NOT change. It is further complications in this world of all ready complicated relationships. Please, stop…

Monkey Wrench

Over the past two weeks there has been a toxic bath of sludge brewing in the liberal left media. While cancel culture has been having a field day, pockets of the traditionally left media have taken time to examine how the establishment as a whole (liberal media establishment) has misreported, misidentified, covered up, ignored, and slowly begun to institute police state style pressure on journalists within their own ranks. One of these reporters who has called them out on it is a man by the name of Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone fame. His biggest critic in refuting his argument is one Nathan Robinson, editor of Current Affairs. What this minor kerfuffle between the two men has shown is actually the exact thing that Taibbi has been arguing for a couple of years now: the liberal left leaning press has devolved into a he said / she said, my argument is right, yours is wrong so get on board or be exterminated ideologically, Hannity and Combs brand of hate filled ire towards anything that doesn’t support a larger hegemonic narrative the millennial “socialists” are trying to shovel.

Once upon a time, a Gen-X – Hunter S. Thompson loving reporter wrote an article called, “The American Press is Destroying Itself.” The article, published independently, got some liberal panties in a wad, and one of the loudest liberal Millennial voices responded with rhetorical tricks to denounce the author and his take on the current state of the liberal national media. What has occurred since the publication of both articles has been an inundation of largely hipster-light Millennial intellects crying foul over the Gen-Xer’s dared accusation that they play unfairly in the sandbox.

Taibbi’s article points criticism at the left for how they have recently handled themselves in the immediate response to George Floyd’s murder. At a point in our history where division is more obvious than ever, cultural latency in solving centuries old socially egregious actions have been forced to the forefront of our national conversation, and calls to unite us all in a shared experience to solve these issues, the political factions within our press have chosen to instead double down on their ideological stances and use them to separate out the dissenting voices within their respective caucus. Taibbi’s flashlight points to the liberal side of this shared narrative, and lists (like a rap sheet) different instances where cancel culture has taken some actions too far. There are issues with the examples he uses in that he does not go into full detail with all of them which is a typical ploy by any self-respecting journalist who is trying to sell an argument. The overall message that the examples used present, however, is that the larger left media machine is failing. The only way to defend this action by the liberal machine is to self-examine, find the cause of their failure, and adjust their practices accordingly. That’s called improvement.

Instead, the machine has done the opposite: they are doubling down and refusing to admit there is a serious problem with their politically correct view of the world and that the answer is not cancel, cancel, cancel. Nathan Robinson’s rebuttal to Mr. Taibbi is a wonderful lesson in how to passively cancel with a intellectually elite smile. Mr. Robinson dives into specifics of Mr. Taibbi’s argument to poke holes in the validity of claim, which is textbook debate – kudos. Mr. Robinson also examines the claims from Mr. Taibbi’s point of view before refuting them with linked evidence to back up his own claim. Well done, sir. Well done.

But where Mr. Robinson trips over his own words is how he subtly drops the “C” word – no, you dirty minded silly, not that word – by aligning Mr. Taibbi’s argument as a conservative argument. And there lies the spin and the exact proof of Mr. Taibbi’s own argument.

What Mr. Robinson focuses on is how Taibbi is presenting a conservative angle to his leveling of accusations against the left. Once he has done so, the reader will subliminally associate Mr. Taibbi with the right and in their Millennial minded victimhood, they will mark Mr. Taibbi as one of the “bad” ones who align themselves with Tucker Carlson and the KKK Nazi corporate capitalist scum of 5th Avenue and Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Robinson knows this, and that is why he does it. Twitter will do the rest of the work for him. How can you tell that he knows this? Because he notably leaves out Mr. Taibbi’s most liberal of credentials: Taibbi’s extensive work on the problem of Police brutality and his book I Can’t Breathe which investigates the Eric Garner murder. Which leads one to wonder: can a key stroke conservative be against police brutality, or do we just ignore Mr. Taibbi’s past contributions, or do we focus on one article and cancel him because he called the liberal establishment out, or…

In another article by Mr. Robinson, he responds to a rebuttal to his own work by Krystal Ball of the show Rising. Mrs. Ball too is a millennial liberal who is calling for the neo-liberals (I just can’t keep up with the labels any more) to cushion their stance against what she and her co-host Saagar call the “progressive-right.” Mr. Robinson, in this piece, does NOT paint Ball as a conservative as he does with Taibbi. Instead, he goes after the notion that serving the right with any kind of respect is outrageous, even if he will grant his precious time to “debating” them. By noting this, he again curves his audience away from the overall message that Ball and her co-host are trying to make by throwing in the fact that The Hill (who owns and broadcasts the show) is owned by a friend of Mr. Trump. Yes, that Trump.

Heaven help us.

He also goes after Mr. Saagar for pointing out that Tucker Carlson represents something that the press is ignoring – the same thing they ignore when it comes to Jordan Peterson – which is that Tucker Carlson has the #1 show on cable news right now. Yes, he is beating Maddow and Hannity. But instead of asking the obvious question of why the public is turning to Mr. Carlson, he just discredits Mr. Saagar by noting how Tucker is a racist. And scene.

This is exactly what Mr. Taibbi is arguing, and Mr. Robinson, in two different articles, proves him exactly right.

The left has a huge problem right now. That problem is that they refuse to recognize there is a problem. It’s like we are watching an alcoholic reaching the end of his drinking days. The left is going to hit bottom at some point, and when it does, it will have to ask itself if it needs to rehab or will it allow itself to die? I pointed to the generation gap between the two journalists – my point in doing that was to simply point out the wonderful visionary sight of the youthful Robinson vs the life experience of Mr. Taibbi. While Mr. Robinson is an excellent writer, what he is doing is playing with a fire he doesn’t fully understand yet. Mr. Taibbi, however, through his years and observations can see the obvious risks in this and is trying to keep an inferno from consuming all of the ideological wonders the left has always championed.

But to be honest, what Mr. Robinson really needs to do is to look at Tucker Carlson and ask the simple question: why are so many more people listening to him and not Nathan Robinson?

Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Now, more than ever, we need to invest in local news. The national media, with complete disregard to any kind of truly objective reporting on events, has lost all credibility to local communities. We are at a moment in our history where we will have to sever ties with the northeastern elite media machine and focus solely on what is happening in our 1) states, 2) counties, and 3) municipalities (be it towns, villages, or cities). The continued focus of D.C. politics, corporate interests, and northeastern cultural whims has created a destructively divisive society where it does not matter who you are, where you are from, how you were raised, or what beliefs you have as long as you fall in line to the narrative being presented by the toxic division politics of a cancel culture run amuck. We are losing our very way of life to a focused narrative that only vaguely applies to our daily lives. We need to make our stand now before we lose everything.

How do we do that? First of all, we do so through non-violent passive action – we turn off the cable news and we cancel subscriptions to national media publications. We then invest in local newspapers, local news channels, local weekly non-profit community magazines and journals. Large corporate entities from the northeast have invaded local news organizations for quick financial rewards. It has led to a gutting of proper fact based non-biased local reporting that in turn has harmed the very core of American life and forced us all into seeing only what the national media machine wants us to see. Each community needs to re-evaluate how they want their news delivered and then invest in it. If your local paper has been gobbled up by a national chain that is threatening to shut it down, we need to abandon it and start a new paper that builds itself on the promise of reporting locally, fund it through public dollars as a non-profit, and find every way we can to protect it from any future buy out by another national chain.

Secondly, we need to focus less on national politics and focus more on local politics. The system originally built by the founding fathers was a system where real power of the nation rested on the House and Senate – local populations were meant to control these very institutions, but we have lost that power to corporate interests and national political narratives. It is time we, as local municipalities, take the power back through nominating and electing non-party affiliated candidates who will not tow a party line but instead address the issues of the community they represent. If they are elected and fail to do so, we nominate someone else to take their place. If we are going to get out of this mess, we must get rid of the national political parties and focus on independent minded, independent voting, local representatives that will vote based on local priorities first and national priorities second. A local press will help in this by forcing these individuals to keep their policies in check. No more fretting over Senators from Kentucky or Florida or California when you live in Nebraska, Alaska, or North Carolina. We focus our news on our Representatives and Senators only. They are the ones accountable to us, it is time we had a press that served us locally.

Third, we need to keep the national headlines at arm’s length in our news. There will always be important events nationally that will affect us, but they do not need to dominate our local news cycle. There is no reason why we should locally be worried about some other town or city that has no bearing our own local issues. So we need to purge the constant noise and replace it with smaller coverage focusing instead on the local and regional issues that are present for each of us.

Finally, we need to hijack social media and force Silicone Valley to change their algorithms to serve the local and not the national. Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow live in New York. Let them cover shit for New Yorkers. We do not need them in Pilot Mountain, NC. We need social media to allow the communities to deal solely on what is happening here, wherever that here is.

And we need to cancel the cancel culture by eliminating social media’s role in “debate.” It is time we used social media to forge new ideas for the local – listen to ALL of the local concerns, and use social media as the platform to inform our local press and politicians as to what WE, the local population, need from them. Social media can be used for community sound boards that can affect change – we’ve seen it happen before to great results – it is now time to take that power away from the toxic cancel culture elites and reinforced Alt-right negatives of MAGA trolls and give it back to the local communities.

If we are going to change, we have to start with our homes, our local communities, and our local politics. And the only way for us to do so is to start with our local press. The national media, though it has done wonders for us in the past, has been stolen away from downtown America by greed and power-hungry celebrity figures who would never make it locally. It is time to refocus on who we are as communities and remember that this is a nation of regions. It has never been a nation of Maddow or Hannity. It is time we woke up and realized this simple fact. If we do not, we will lose ourselves to hating our neighbors over some “unforgivable” political allegiance to a national political figure that doesn’t even know the name of the town you live in. That, dear friends, is the unforgivable crime of the national media – liberal and conservative.

Territorial Pissings

When I was a teenager, my friends and I used the word “retarded” to denote something that seemed idiotic or stupid. Through different outlets that we were exposed to in our youth, we were taught how to treat disabled people and value them as human beings. Sesame Street, Life Goes On, Mask, and Mr. Rogers all taught us that people were creatures of emotions and feelings, and that we were each responsible for our own actions in how we treated them. We were also taught to own our mistakes and instead of absolving ourselves of any wrongdoing, we were to amend the wrong in the best way possible according to the offended person’s wishes. So when we were told that we could not use the word retarded any more, as we had almost generationally redefined the word from actually referring to a handicapped individual, a large portion of us were offended not because we were being told to do something, but because we were being accused of hurting that malfunctioning stereo or ridiculous idea a friend had while high on pot. The fact that anyone would think we were using the word to hurt an individual shocked us, and quite frankly, we saw the whole notion as retarded.

There are a slew of other words that my generation accumulated in our slang that would now be seen as faux pas and socially offensive. The most common being the word “gay.” Unlike retarded, gay covered a whole host of meanings and applications. Someone acting goofy could be called gay. A concept that didn’t make sense or seemed to go against the norm of common sense was gay. An object that was out of place in a given context was gay. You get the idea. But, like retarded, gay has been systematically targeted and attempts to remove it from the lexicon have almost been as successful as retarded.

Can these words, and others, be used as weapons against other people? YES, they can. But so can the words stupid and idiot. Why haven’t the culture warriors come after those? One of the problems with being politically correct is the inconsistency within the rules of the PC culture. You cannot call a woman a slut, but it is socially acceptable to call a man a slut. You cannot say fuck, but you can say f-bomb which in turn makes the person hearing the phrase f-bomb say the word fuck in their head. You cannot say Indian unless you’re talking about people from India which is a tightrope because you have to make sure that when you are talking about Indians from India, you do not use any language to denote old racial stereotypes about Indians that do not live on reservations…I mean Native Americans. Sorry.

But political correctness is more than just a confusing code of words you can and cannot say. Being PC has led to the inevitable cancel culture that we are now living through, and thanks to Twitter and Facebook, the ability to join an angry mob out for some retard’s head who called something gay is easier than ever. And this is causing horrible cultural problems.

Do not think that I am advocating for the returned use of the words retarded and gay. I am personally of the ilk that if the community deems something wrong and wants to get rid of it, and it makes sense to do so, then it should be gotten rid of. What I am advocating for is common sense, something we have abandoned.

As noted above, generationally, Gen-X was taught through all of our media outlets how to treat human beings respectfully. We were the first generation that was largely acceptant of homosexuals and their civil rights. We didn’t understand why they were being treated differently because of who they loved – that came from Mr. Rogers, who taught an entire generation how to not only allow feelings to happen, but also how to treat people as you would want to be treated. He taught us how to be respectful and kind. But Gen-x is also human, and as a generation we created a vernacular that we defined ourselves. We took words and changed how to use them in response to the world around us. Then, somewhere over the past thirty years, we were told that those words could not be used anymore, regardless of context.

As a culture, Americans are extremely self-centered. We focus far too much energy on how we as individuals feel and not on the context of the situation and what would have made the person or group who is offending us do the things that they do. It is abhorrent to hear a white supremacist attack minorities because of outdated bigoted views that we can all agree have to go away immediately. But it is also abhorrent to watch Twitter get its panties in a wad over a forty-something white male calling a bad TV show retarded or gay. In no way do the two compute as the same, no matter how much tree hugging you apply.  

And understanding context first before digitally taking someone down can de-escalate most of the culture warriors issues with language. Understanding context can also create a better understanding of who we are as a culture. For the group who screams for diversity, I have always found it odd that they are the least diverse in ideas. There is a hard line that you must follow in the PC culture that cannot be questioned, mocked, or challenged or you risk being isolated and exiled culturally and socially.

I recently watched a debate on political correctness from 2018. On the “pro” side of the debate sat Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg. On the “con” side of the debate sat Stephen Frye and (GASP!) Jordan Peterson. From the outset, Dyson and Goldberg (who were representing the liberal side) went after Mr. Peterson and his reputation. The two liberal PC representatives used the attacks on Mr. Peterson to establish the real conversation in the debate which was gender and racial inequality – NOT political correctness. It was so bad that when Mr. Frye attempted (multiple times BTW) to bring the conversation to being about political correctness, he was dismissed by his two debate opponents. The worst part of the entire charade was when Mr. Frye – a self-described ‘soft’ liberal gay man – expressed one of the biggest issues of political correctness being the fact that it creates an enormous amount of anxiety over saying something wrong or not being able to legitimately express a disagreement over a point of view, the young feminist columnist from the New York Times brushed it off and diverted the conversation back to gender inequality. After reflection, I believe that most liberals who defend political correctness do this in an attempt not to bring attention to the discussion of race and gender, but to simply divert from having to face the reality that political correctness has limitations to its success.

Using political correctness to get rid of words like nigger and spick is where it shines brightest. These are epithets that do not deserve to be in the language. Using political correctness to point out flaws in social logic is another place where it works really well like understanding that we should not have a football team named the Red Skins.

Where political correctness does not work is when it is used as a weapon to strip a person or group of their influence when the power struggle is over the most mundane things like expressing through slang the displeasure of something that is irrelevant to begin with. And that, quite frankly, is retarded.  

For What It’s Worth

The protests have exposed one important thing that most news outlets are not giving a lot of attention to: political polarization is slowly starting to erode. That’s right – for the first time since the neo-cons came to power in the late 90s and early aughts, we are starting to see the long held political divide in this country start to unravel. We can only hope that it continues to do so and that the two major parties are not allowed to sway us back into our partisan corners.

In an Op-ed on The Hill, author John Kenneth White pointed to recent polls that suggested,

“…81 percent say the chokehold placed on Floyd was unjustified; 84 percent believe the resulting protests are justified; 80 percent think the nation is “out of control”; 59 percent are more concerned about unwarranted police actions than violent protestors; 57 percent believe police officers are more likely to use deadly force against African-Americans than whites; 65 percent say Trump’s response to the crisis has been harmful to race relations; and 55 percent want a president and Congress who “look for compromise and consensus” rather than division.”

What this reveals is that within the multiple crisis that have gripped our nation since February, the dividing line between the so-called left and right has been eroding as a pandemic has forced all of us into our homes for a prolonged period of time, the economic collapse as a result of the pandemic has indiscriminately hit at least 13% of our collective lives, and the killing of George Floyd and several others since him have induced a rally cry for reform in institutional norms held for hundreds of years. Basically, what has happened is a shared sense that the institution itself has failed us all in one form or another. That has led to what the numbers above show which is the beginning of the rejection of political lines in the sand.

What does this mean for November? At this point, there’s no telling. An article from the Washington Post this morning pointed to the unreliability of political polls this early in the election cycle, so the effects on the presidential race or any congressional races need to be taken with a grain of salt as the national attitudes will definitely change in the coming months.

But what is certain, and hopeful, is that there are finally signs that extreme partisanship is finally starting to show cracks in its armor. Maybe, hopefully, please dear God let it be so, we as a collective are finally changing the tide of political discourse in this nation from division to acceptance, and with this sea-change, maybe we can get rid of ALL the toxic partisan crap that has become routine over the past twenty years: cancel culture, political correctness, assault rifles, climate change denial, evangelical and green party extremism, and extreme trolling.

The thing about hope, though, is that in order for it to survive, it has to find actions that give it purpose. As we are now in the third week of protests, my only hope is that the movement continues to gather strength unlike the teachers and Parkland movements from the past few years that were slowly beaten back. Civil unrest needs to continue until REAL action is taken, and political partisanship needs to be left behind for that action to become actual change.

Fortunate Son

Only three members of my family have been to Europe. My uncle (mom’s brother) served in the Air Force and did a short tour in Germany and Spain. My father too was in the Air Force where he did his tour in England. And then there was my grandfather – my mother’s dad. He saw France, Belgium, Germany, and England as a member of the Army. But his tour, unlike those of my uncle and father, was a bit more chaotic. While their tours began in the two decades following his time in Europe, his began 76 years ago during the invasion of Normandy.

Every year on June 6 I have tried to do something to honor what my paternal grandfather did during the waning months of the European campaign of WWII. He was there that fateful day when the Allies established a foothold from which the liberation of Europe from Germany would begin. Shortly after, he was sent to Belgium where he was dispatched to travel with his company as they marched south to help close further escape routes for the German army and shut down much needed supply lines from the North. His letters during those darker days of our civilization’s history are short, to the point, and designed to send the simple message that he was alive and healthy. It would be after the surrender and his relocation to Paris that his letters changed tone, and in one he openly described the horrific visions that he saw briefly in Normandy and the hellscape he lived in during what we would call the Battle of the Bulge. One sentence has haunted me ever since my mother gave me the letters to keep:

“They were talking to me and then they were dead right beside me.”

I note all of this because this year, as June 6 came and went, the anniversary barely registered in the national conscience – and for good reason. In the wake of all that has happened since February, all those moments of our patriotic past now seem fraught with questionable intentions of focusing on remembering them rather than learning from them. During the early weeks of the pandemic, we heard reference after reference of the Spanish Flu epidemic. And while behind the scenes experts have studied and evaluated different tactics taken by our ancestors to fight that pandemic, the national narrative has only used the it as an adjective at times, and at others as a moniker of hyperbole for reference to how bad things may or may not be at present. Very rarely have I seen any news coverage about what we as the public can take away from that pandemic outside of washing our hands and wearing a mask.

So, what is the value of June 6, 1944? This year, on a personal level, I have found that outside of nostalgic references like the ones above, the real value of that day was lost the moment we brought our boys home. We, like every generation before us, have forgotten the fundamental questions that should always be asked – why did we commit to that moment at that very moment? – and  – has anything changed? When we answer those questions, and then take action to remedy any lesson lost to inaction, then those moments in the past become valid and carry more important weight than simply reading a pile of 70+ year-old letters and thinking, “yeah, that happened and I bet it sucked.”

I say all of this to pose what I think is a valid question that demands an immediate and real response from our leaders as we watch and participate in the current protests across the country:

Why did my grandfather have to lay in a ditch and watch so many innocent boys die literally right beside him if nothing was going to change for more than 70 fucking years?