“Factual truths are never compellingly true. The historian knows how vulnerable is the whole texture of facts in which we spend our daily life; it is always in danger of being perforated by single lies or torn to shreds by the organized lying of groups, nations, or classes, or denied and distorted, often carefully covered up by reams of falsehoods or simply allowed to fall into oblivion. Facts need testimony to be remembered and trustworthy witnesses to be established in order to find a secure dwelling place in the domain of human affairs. From this, it follows that no factual statement can ever be beyond doubt—as secure and shielded against attack as, for instance, the statement that two and two make four.” – Hannah Arendt, Lying in Politics, 1972
“…if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth…All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control,’ they called it; in Newspeak, ‘doublethink,’…The past…had not been merely altered, it had been actually destroyed…In the walls of the cubicle (of Winston Smith’s Ministry of Truth) there were three orifices…For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes.” – George Orwell, 1984
“The culture of lying is the discourse and behavior of officials seeking to enlist the powers of journalism in support of their goals, and of journalists seeking to co-opt public and private officials into their efforts to find and cover stories of crisis and emergency response. It is the medium through which we Americans conduct most of our public business (and a lot of our private business) these days.” – Paul H. Weaver, News and the Culture of Lying: How Journalism Really Works, 1994
“In…Western democracies the ideals of self-determination, mercy towards the vanquished and freedom of speech, were thought to be highly regarded and strongly protected. These ideals have often been betrayed, a process which is going on to this day…Having made false gods, we have made a god of falsity. If the truth will set us free, we must first set free the truth.” – James Bacque, Crimes and Mercies, 1997
“Should government be held responsible for failing to protect the health of its constituents: Yes it should be…It now appears that COVID, itself, has teamed up with regressive politicians to increase COVID infection rates…Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently introduced ‘No Mask and No Vaccine Mandates’ legislation…I have lost four friends….to COVID before the advent of a highly successful public health practice – vaccinations.” – Henry Lebak, Bismarck, ND, Letter to the Editor, Bismarck Tribune, 8/31/21
“Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil…To ripen a person for self-sacrifice he must be stripped of his individual identity and distinctness…Mass movements strive to approximate this primitive perfection, and we are not imagining things when the anti-individualist bias of contemporary mass movements strikes us as a throwback to the primitive.”- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, 1951
“I was struck…by…the ‘We the People’ rally at the (ND) state Capitol…folks from around the state protested any efforts to mandate vaccinations and mask wearing…This is in keeping with Republican acceptance of a wide range of nastiness that, prior to our last president, would never have seen the light of day,…Republicans have been mostly silent (especially our ND delegation) on attempts to overturn the results of the last election,…essentially treasonous activity. Instead, they scare the public with…the teaching of critical race in our schools,…a non-issue that appeals to white fear and racism. The party also rejects almost every attempt to deal with the perilous climate change issue…In contrast, President Biden successfully passed a huge infrastructure bill to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, rail system, shipping docks and broadband system. This bill will create millions of jobs and will benefit all Americans and our economy. I…choose positive progress over the angry, dark chasm that is now the Republican party.” – Kim Christianson, Bismarck, ND, Letter to the Editor, Bismarck Tribune, 11/11/21
I never realized how many North Dakotans had a death wish (or a “give me liberty or give me death” wish) until Covid-19 statistics piled up, along with excuses by those who refused to get vaccinated, and/or wear a mask. Our national dysentery of disinformation continues, but, thank God, so does our democracy. Frustrated voters in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere in the U.S. deal with binary choices only: Democrat/Republican; Blue/Red; Right/Left; as well as fraudulent ones of “culture wars.” Nuanced choices await those who dare to govern responsibly. Unfortunately, Republicans have proven masterful at governing irresponsibly: disguising facts so as to hang on to power: spouting ideals of freedom, equality and patriotism in public, while spitting on them in private. Fraud differs in style from violence, but its goal is the same — destroy the ability of Americans to have government by, of and for the people. The only debate in the Republican Party nowadays is “Fraud; violent oppression or both? That is the question.”
Meanwhile, Democrats have struggled, often successfully, to honor facts and science against fraud and violence; govern effectively, and deliver legislation that “promotes the general welfare” of the American people. This, despite media culture that will not accept good news in any form for more than a minute. I asked my KGB animal friends why it was that Republicans succeed more at weaponizing fear, falsehood, racism and murderous fanaticism than Democrats succeed at “weaponizing” courage, facts, reasonableness and tolerance of diversity.
High Plains Reader: Why do Republicans like former Governor Nicky Haley (R-SC) keep slandering Joe Biden’s stuttering as if it were some sort of intelligence impediment? And why do the main stream, even liberal, media let them get away with such heartless mockery?
Putin: GOP operatives since President Reagan got a soul implant – an impediment that made them impervious to human suffering. Until Trump they hid behind junk food journalism, film and TV fantasies; coverups – tactics of distraction and deception. Thus, Americans could hide racism, misogyny and greed behind self-righteousness, the usual refuge of hypocrites. When Newt Gingrich (R-GA) in 1994, Jim Jordan (R-OH) in 2010, and Donald Trump in 2016 decided to attack Democrats beyond decency, the result was January 6th: an attack on democracy itself.
Lena: Most corporate media has been cowardly, owing to worries about profits over people. Until recently, they kept the most fearless of their reporters on a short leash. Trump’s challenge to decency, as well as democratic norms, taught a critical number of them that “people,” ie. their customers, are wise to such fraud, but have been kept in the dark so long, they don’t know who or what to believe. Unleashing their stable of investigative reporters is welcome, but long overdue, perhaps too late. Most media moguls don’t turn from the dark side to the light for the sake of their souls, of course, but at least they have recognized that profits require more candor.
Brenda Bison: Actually, the real reason for Republican success at the polls due to hate mongering is a little-known document, “Uncritical Paleface Theory,” the original parchment of which my friends and I unearthed from near the battle site of The Little Big Horn in Wyoming, where George Armstrong Custer met his fate at the hands of the Sioux and Cheyenne in 1876.
HPR: Custer is one of the dumbest white men who ever led troops against people deemed inferior by reason of color or ethnicity, excepting the British commander against the Zulu at Isandlwana in 1879, Napoleon against the Haitians in 1802 and Russians in 1812, and the French Empire and Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations against the Vietnamese. What is such a document doing near Custer’s mess?
Mr. Swamp Fox: Nobody knows how it got there, but such doctrines were common parlance as “Nullification” or “States Rights” or “Manifest Destiny” back then to justify chattel slavery and genocidal policies towards Native Americans. Nowadays “Right to Work” slogans are used to justify laws that enforce wage slavery against working people: equal opportunity oppression against whites, as well as people of color. Custer was driven by political ambition to be U.S. President, and took “Uncritical Paleface Theory” literally. Since he believed that “white was right,” he thought it also translated into “might.”
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog (MRRLD): “Uncritical Paleface Theory” dictates that covert American racism in public and private institutions should always undergird overt racism. Thus, Ku Klux Klan lynch mobs inspired by Nathan Bedford Forrest in the 19th Century predate anti-government lynch mobs in the 21st Century, inspired by Adolf Hitler, and egged on by cowardly imitators like Donald Trump, Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Josh Hawley (R-MO).
Paulette Prairie Dog: While Custer was done in by Sitting Bull in 1876, civil rights and fair treatment for African Americans and other Americans of color have been done in ever since then by “standing bull” from the Supreme Court (Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896), the Presidency (Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921), and the Halls of Congress, especially the Senate. Heather Cox Richardson explains this very well in How the South Won the Civil War (2020).
Clarissa Coyote: “Uncritical Paleface Theory” made its way from the battlefields of American soldiers at Chancellorsville, Vicksburg and Gettysburg to battle grounds of Americans’ hearts and minds in Hollywood and onto TV – the glamour of mindless Southern Belles in “Gone With the Wind” exported to the glamour of “Westerns,” (Cowboy vs. Indian “operas”) designed to convince white audiences of their “superiority” from the comfort of a theater seat or living room.
Chicago Dog: Your TV Cowboy President, Ronald Reagan (R-CA), 1981-1989, capitalized on such racist imagery to make your government bigger without being better and then complained about “government being the problem.” He made government less efficient and thus more expensive in cost to public good; then used that malfeasance to justify “privatizing” what didn’t need to be privatized – a bonanza for private interests – his backers, friends and political allies.
Jim Crow XV: “Uncritical Paleface Theory” has had a long run by appealing to baser instincts of your white male electorate, discouraging and confusing people of color and women, and enabling Republicans to hand the U.S. over to the greediest. When disaster inevitably came, Democrats fixed up some of the mess, but got turned out before they could address it all. Larger questions, like climate change and human rights, went back to being answered by smaller minds.
HPR: But Trump made it too obvious. And he and his closest allies were as stupid as Custer.
Putin: True. That’s why the Democrats, and democracy, have one more chance.
HPR: President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer ain’t playin’ either.
Rasputin: Also true. But long term disasters dating back to Reagan, George W. Bush, as well as the four year disaster of Trump have dug a deep hole of rolling crises that make angels weep.
Agatha Alligator: Thus, moral morons like FOX’s Tucker Carlson are kept in business, dispensing “mind-manure,” and Ivermectin, to keep their mushroom brained followers in the dark and fed with more falsehoods than the most diligent of investigative reporters can reveal.
HPR: But folks are waking up, speaking out, organizing like never before, albeit peacefully. The “court of public opinion,” like the judiciary, demands “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth;” the kind they get from civil servants like Dr. Fauci and Lt. Col.Alexander Vindman, who suffered for their honesty at the hands and mouths of Republican leaders. Reactionaries are petrified in fear that such honesty will become the norm, even codified. If facts and truth can mitigate “sclerosis of the imagination” that has infected the “better angels” in American nature; their deviltry of “canned wisdom of slavish prejudice” is doomed.
Mr. Crying Wolf: That’s where violence comes in; metastasized on Facebook and other social media; combined with more Republican voter suppression laws; media mayhem, and threats to election officials than we have seen since Jim Crow tactics of over a hundred years ago.
HPR: That sounds like a Civil War!
Prudence Possum: Of course, it’s a civil war! Where the hell has your head been at! That’s why the subtitle of Professor Richardson’s book is: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America. Throughout history the “Haves” have always opposed the “Have Nots,” if not despised and feared them. It’s the “Have Some, Want Mores” that have always held the balance of power. Often this third group can be distracted by racism, misogyny, and other illusions of superiority that the “Haves” offer them to corrupt their souls.
Lady Labrador Liberty: But at other times, the “Have Some, Want Mores,” even the white ones, figure out that they are soon to be among the “Have Nots,” if they don’t stick it to the “Haves.” 2021-2022 is one of those “interesting” times.
Schickelgruber: A new form of germ warfare has been introduced by GOP leadership in Texas and Florida, inspired by Trump’s madness, and his enablers’ desire to shove science into “Memory Holes.” This madness reflects “Uncritical Paleface Theory” in that the anti-vax warriors are also the victims of their own bigotry in that they die off in greater percentages than the vaccinated folks they wish to harm. But the GOP leadership that encourages these death wishes is covertly vaccinated, and benefitting financially and politically from such stupidity.
Jim Crow XV: That was exactly the strategy of the slave owners of the South (the Big Whites) who supposedly “lost” the American Civil War in 1865. They managed to convince poor southern men and women (the Small Whites) without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, that their white skin made them superior, and so was worth throwing down their lives for. With such willing suckers to support their war against democracy, plantation bosses might lose their slaves in the short run, but they never lost their power in the long run. Nowadays, however, the appeals of racism and misogyny are beginning to have diminishing returns. Desperation and panic rule the Republican Party, and fascinate a jaded media.
MRRLD: More and more Americans have been willing to defy the planned pessimism of main stream media of every stripe, unconscionable cynicism of pandering pundits protecting their “sage on the stage” illusions, rabid tantrums from right wing demagogues, and calculated cruelty of reactionary Republicans from Mitch McConnell to Josh Hawley, for whom democracy and an even playing field have always been the main enemies rather than skin color or gender.
Seymour Snake: I came upon an interesting document in the sewer systems of one of the new battlegrounds of the 21st Century Civil War, the suburbs. Here, newly arrived white men and women at the rendezvous streets of the “American Dream,” ponder how they got there with folks of color – what the future might bring for them, their children, and their grandchildren. Women are voting as if they realize that pleasing men who hate is the same as appeasing them – to no avail. Their men are learning that when kindness is considered sexy, they can be happier too.
Suburban Soliloquy – Trying Not To Hate My Neighbor As Myself ………….…….Headless Horseman
I’ve wanted more than nothing, but I know
My neighbors want that too; So why should I
Deny that for them, just to heed the cry
Of bigotry; that through our land, does flow?
They are of diff’rent colors; diff’rent creeds –
But otherwise; their kids and pets – the same
As mine. They even call me by my name.
It’s not like we don’t share in common needs.
I weary of the boring hymns of hate
That turn the “Golden Rule” to “Fool’s Gold;”
And leaders who mislead to serve themselves.
I must acknowledge such; ‘fore it’s too late;
Full love myself as wise men have foretold;
And put my deep-set hatreds on the shelves.