• Do You Believe In Christmas?

    December 23, 2019

    Tags: , , , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Impeachment, Trump


     

    When our kids were little we would make Santa’s magic boot prints from the front door to the Christmas tree by sprinkling baking soda around a crude cardboard cutout of a boot print. This explained how the presents showed up for Christmas morning since we didn’t have the fireplace Santa used in every damn storybook. It was cute to see our daughters when they simply believed it was all true. But as they got older, the world of logic crept forward — How’d Santa get past the locked front door? And why didn’t the dog bark?

    The real world works that way, sad as it is sometimes to see them grow up. Logic overcomes belief. Otherwise you’re 45 and still wondering if it was really Santa who ate the cookies you left out.

    The bad news is the magic is back, at least in terms of politics, as belief takes over from logic. This isn’t the good kind which makes Christmas memories. It is the bad kind which turns rational people into blithering idiots who are ready to believe anything that supports their world view, and who create garbage to fool others. It can get to the point where such folks can be convinced of anything, and that makes them manipulable. After all, if you don’t clean up your room, there’ll be no presents under the tree this year!

    Here’s where wanting to believe something so much that it shuts down thinking leads. Accusations become evidence for impeachment or harassment or Islamophobia or a society gone white nationalist wild, and the more accusations the stronger the evidence is seen to be. Simply filling a bus with people claiming someone did something  should mean nothing but it now means more than ever.

    Same for words. Just calling something a new name not does not change anything. So even as the hive mind agrees a flippant remark is “demanding foreign intervention” or labels an investigation “interference in our democracy” and with even less evidence claims Trump is a Russian agent, Tulsi a Russian plant, Facebook is a Russian tool, and Jill Stein a Russian something or other, it does not make it true. A minimum wage dropout saying something horrible to a fast food customer is indicative of our crappy educational system maybe, but hardly an indictment of “a nation awash in racism,” even if it’s on YouTube. Adding “-gate” to a noun does not create a crime to be investigated. Saying “it’s just like Watergate” over and over does not make it Watergate. Claiming a phone call is bribery, or a tweet is witness intimidation does not negate the need for the law degree that allows you to actually use those words accurately. And kids, I’m sorry, I know how much you wanted to believe in the elves, but it was really Mom and me buying the presents all those years.

    It is sadly no surprise the ambiguously favorable witness Democrats allowed to testify at the Impeachment Gladiatorial Thanksgiving Spectacle, Gordon Sondland, was soon accused of sexual misconduct by not one, but three women, so it has to be true. The allegations are true to form at least, because all of the alleged incidents took places years ago, there were no witnesses or physical evidence, and none of the women found a reason to bring the accusations forward until Sondland emerged as a possible weak point in the Dems’ case against Trump. What they said was fully and forever unprovenable, and can only be “believed” based on what outcome you support.

    Watching those accusations front-paged by a believing media, and with memories of the Kavanaugh confirmation, one can only view Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s deteriorating health with concern. She has been a fine justice, but seems to be using up her share of amazing recoveries from falls and the flu at a rapid pace. The chances are good Trump will name the Ghost of Christmas Past’s replacement. We all can start to feel that pain in our stomach knowing whomever he nominates will be accused of terrible things. For a male nominee, it will be more sexual harassment incidents than Jack the Ripper, dating back to when he pulled Cindy’s pigtails in fourth grade. For a female nominee, it is inevitable something she wrote in a junior high creative writing class will have her labeled a racist. Never mind the hidden horrors in their income taxes, early decisions from their days on the traffic court bench and so on. It will be endless and ugly and it is as inevitable as Santa’s yearly visit.

    What people want to believe is delivered to them. Jessica Kwong was a Newsweek “journalist” fired after she wrote an article claiming Trump was wasting taxpayer money golfing over Thanksgiving when in fact he was serving dinner to the troops in Afghanistan. She just made up a report because it was what she wanted to believe. Wanting to believe accounts for so much of what we call fake news, stuff based on “reports” or anonymous sources who could not possibly know what the president was thinking, or what he said in a closed door meeting, but are quoted anyway because we already know what we want to know is true. Americans are meanwhile still sorting out what they “believe” the Mueller report said. What is true is not a worthy goal. What we believe seemingly is.

    Democratic candidates have felt the reason for the season, outdoing one another in hinting at what might be under the tree simply because we want it to be there however impractical and honey, yes, I still remember the year you believed there’d be a real pony in the back yard and you cried. Elizabeth Sanders will have rich people give us all Amazon gift cards to pay off student loans and provide free healthcare. Mayor Pete will leave a load in stockings through his Douglass Plan, offering $50 billion  (Cory Booker proposes double, $100 billion) for Historically Black Colleges and Universities as just a Christmas Eve teaser. They believe they will find the money under the tree, or in the backyard with the pony. Yeah, we tried to buy our kids’ love with expensive presents, too, but at least we spent equally on each of them.

    Yet despite all that proposed giving, belief works for the negative as well. There is a profound belief things are much worse, almost Biblical, than they really are. Democracy has one more chance, or perhaps the Republic is already done and we’re just waiting on funeral arrangements. First maybe a military coup, or a civil war. Or Trump will simply refuse to leave office (NYT, CNN, MSNBC, Vox, Politico, Newsweek, Atlantic, Slate, Salon, MSN all say so.) Certainly women, POC, and LGBT are done for. When pressed for real specifics, there are none though who can count any “specific” that starts with “Well, Trump tweeted…” and never was followed up with legislation or executive action?

    Driving the sense the End is upon us is a profound ability to not only know little about history, but not even to remember stuff from a few weeks ago. Those End of Days wars with China, Iran, Venezuela, and worst of all, North Korea, what happened to them? The Kurds do OK with that genocide? “Trump will trigger nuclear armageddon” is a stand-by article when WaPo has to fill Op-Ed space. No one seems to know much about the rise of Hitler in any detail, but everyone believes we are seeing it play out again (except there’s no mass party, no Brownshirt vanguard, no overarching ideology, no rearming for world war, no annexation of neighboring territory, no Nuremberg laws, no Dachau, and no exercise of state power like the 1930s). Scale doesn’t seem to matter; Trump cut back on immigration and so did Hitler, so boom, they are the same.

    So it follows a tiny group of Nazi cosplayers in Charlottesville three years ago is proof of sweeping white nationalism, alongside Colin Kaepernick not being able to get a job. It takes a lot of belief to imagine one guy not making the team as proof of much of anything. You get the NYT saying “Trump is president only because a constitutional provision invalidated the choice of the American people,” flippantly referring to the Electoral College created by the Founders in the Constitution to choose 45 presidents over 230 years as a invalidating provision. The same article goes on to say “Democrats and pundits have been bullied into accepting the fiction that he has democratic, and not just constitutional, legitimacy.” Even the clear outcome of an election under the same system in place for centuries is today subject to the belief test.

    Adding to this damp blanket of nihilism is the endless failure of insta-heroes. The mood seems so desperate for a savior that a new one is created regularly. The now-discredited anti-semites who organized the Pink Pussy Hat march, the media-abused Parkland Kids, Greta the Amazing Climate Change Gal, celebrities who announce the boycott-of-the-week and then fade just as fast, it’s almost to the point where you can’t trust anyone anymore. At one point Michael Avenatti announced he was looking into running for president, and remember Beto? He went from the cover of Vanity Fair in an Annie Leibovitz glamor photo to, well, we don’t know what he’s doing, working at Wendy’s with Kamala and the other unemployed elves maybe. People started imagining flooding TV commercials with mixed race couples was somehow lessening racial tensions, same as Wakanda and some black superhero characters were going to inspire youth to succeed where Cosby and OJ failed.

    None of it is real, that is the nature of belief. Having millions of hits is the illusion of accomplishment. Getting your hashtag trending is the illusion of action. Twitter doesn’t elect anyone, or stop anything, or do anything. It is raising awareness! and it is disappointing when nothing changes in the real world after what seems like a lot of effort online. Someone should do a podcast about that. You can make #SantaIsReal the most popular hashtag ever but it won’t make Santa real. The problem is that like Santa, the belief is no organic. It didn’t grow on its own. It was created and sold, much like each new generation of parents resells the Santa myth to a new generation of toddlers.

    Belief has led us to where we don’t just hate ideas, we have come to hate people for holding those ideas because belief is an emotional response not an intellectual one. Hence the flood of articles on “how to get through Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner with your MAGA uncle.” There’s no point in talking, he’s wrong and too ignorant to know it, so the goal is simply to zone out somehow before you can get back to Brooklyn. Thom Hartmann, once a reasonable voice of progressive thought, takes that to its extreme, saying “the parts of America that are still functioning democracies (California comes to mind — there has been discussion of various ‘compacts’ between the three West Coast states, possibly joining with a few Eastern Seaboard states) must consider some form of independence, whether it be ‘soft independence’ like California declared when they established their own air quality standards or some form of partial independence or succession.” Hartmann of course is writing in the context of those Thanksgiving arguments growing into literal violent civil war in America if Trump is re-elected.

    There is an obsession with diversity, to the point where “first black ____” and “first lesbian _____” are celebratory events, even when the achievement under celebration is some minor nothing job and everyone has forgotten we already had the first black president and now we are somehow on the verge of racial war. I’m not sure where everyone gets all these firsts from; is there a secret list? When society checks them all off is there a prize? What happens after that?

    But bringing it all home are not the now-expected pseudo-historical/hysterical screeds about how Thanksgiving is actually a holiday celebrating genocide and white nationalism (Paul Krugman actually thinks the holiday “commemorates the struggle to end slavery”), but as the season begins Salon stating without hesitation “whatever enthusiasm I once felt for Christmas has dissipated entirely in the age of Donald Trump. He ruins everything he touches, and Christmas, for me, is no exception… Forget Tiny Tim declaring, ‘God bless us, every one!’ It’s clear that for that 40 percent of people in the Trump cult, it’s closer to ‘Damn anyone to hell who isn’t exactly like us!’ The point of Christmas is to declare white supremacist America as the only ‘real’ America.”

    And whatever, climate change means we’ll all be washed out to sea before New Year’s anyway. That’s where belief has brought us these few weeks before the holidays. And kids, it was always me who ate the cookies you left out for Santa. Ho ho ho!

      

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...

      1

      2020 Predictions: Greta joins with Marjoe for a bicoastal (Pentacoastal?) joint tour proclaiming the end of humanity courtesy of the weather god. California secedes and Trump responds with, “Good riddance to youse bums”- thus sparing us all a second civil war. Victoria Nuland backs Trump with, “Fuck the union!”.

      12/23/19 3:41 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      Trump World is immune to logic:

      Trump: I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much… Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes & everything.”

      And This guy has his finger on the button. Will he just give US all the finger?

      Merry Christmas.

      12/23/19 4:47 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      Did Santa know Rudy was a Jew? Cause if he is, he aint getting any Christmas presents.

      Rudy may be lying about that, but as George Costanza says “Its not a lie if you believe it.”

      Gonzo Rudy Giuliani claimed that he is “more of a Jew” than George Soros, a Jewish billionaire and Holocaust survivor, in comments reported Monday.

      In an interview published by New York Magazine, Giuliani portrayed Soros, who is also a prominent Democratic donor, as someone who pulled strings in Ukraine, including with ousted former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Soros has repeatedly been the target of conspiracy theories.

      “He put all four ambassadors there. And he’s employing the FBI agents,” Giuliani claimed. “Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him.”

      “Soros is hardly a Jew. I’m more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about — he doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t go to religion — synagogue. He doesn’t belong to a synagogue, he doesn’t support Israel, he’s an enemy of Israel. He’s elected eight anarchist DA’s in the United States. He’s a horrible human being,” Giuliani continued.

      So Peter is right: what people want is delivered to them. Just like Rudy wants Clintons server delivered from Ukraine. But Rudy is Jewish apparently and Santa says Rudy can eat his cookies.

      12/23/19 10:43 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      Hey, it’s Snowden on Christmas Eve…
      … the MIC really doesnt believe …in total surveillance.

      Yahoo: The Pentagon is advising members of the US military not to use DNA testing kits, warning that the popular genetic identification kits could pose a security risk.

      Companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry allow people to get a breakdown of their genetic makeup and geographic heritage, from providing a saliva sample. Ancestry boasts some 15 million users, while 23andMe says it has 10 million.

      But a department of defence memo, obtained by Yahoo News, warned that the kits could put members of the military at risk.

      “Exposing sensitive genetic information to outside parties poses personal and operational risks to Service members,” wrote Joseph D. Kernan, the undersecretary of defence for intelligence, and James N. Stewart, the assistant secretary of defence for manpower.

      The December 20 memo, which noted that some DNA kit companies have been targeting military personnel with discounts, appears to have been distributed widely within the Defense Department, Yahoo News reported.

      These [direct-to-consumer] genetic tests are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission,” they wrote.

      “There is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness.”

      The memo reflects a wider concern about biometrics like DNA, fingerprints and facial recognition.

      Erin Murphy, a professor at New York University’s School of Law, said a commercial genetic database could be used to unmask a person working undercover.

      “It all boils down to the same basic idea,” she told the website.

      “In a world in which a few stray cells can be used to identify a person, there is no such thing as a covert action, and no such thing as anonymity.

      A spokesman for Ancestry said that they took measures to protect customers’ identities.

      Right, and the MIC says it would rather believe in Santa Claus

      12/24/19 2:26 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      It’s not a crime if you believe it.

      Batshit crazy Trumpie has a problem: how low can he go? When you use up all your best insults-callng your attackers human scum- and the election is still almost a year away, what do you do to top that? Well, dont fret, folks, Trumpie has found a new low: outing the whistleblower and hoping someone shoots him on Fifth Ave,

      And if it isnt a crime, why shouldnt we all name the guy? So that is our wish for the next article on WMW. Go for it, Pete, You already lost Twitter. What do you have to lose…other than your pension?

      12/27/19 6:20 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      Donnie doesnt believe in Santa, much less God, but boy he really believes in the Deep State. Why else would he delete his retweet naming the CIA whistleblower?

      Maybe some little bird whispered that if he declared war on the Deep State CIA, and exposed the identity of a CIA employee and something bad happened to that person, just maybe an organization that kills people for little or no reason might look the other way if it received intel that some bad people wanted to do some bad things…well, you have seen that movie before.. hey Lee Harvey, I am looking at you.

      Perhaps Trumpie isnt as stupid as he appears to be.

      12/28/19 8:01 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      7

      Bauer- Trump and you adhere to different gods. You should not demand he worship your deity. As POTUS he gets to have his god running the show for awhile. That’s only fair. Obama had his chosen savior running the show for eight years and the rich did very very well. Obama and Trump might even share the same god. My imagined deity is much weaker I guess and thus I’m on the fringe with not much clout. I’ve learned to handle the downside of admiring a lesser divine inspiration.

      12/29/19 2:44 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      JP,

      Dont blame GOD for the shitshow this world has been playing for hundreds of years.

      GOD: I only created you bastards, Dont put your crazy shit on me. Trump and Putin are your creations.

      12/30/19 12:08 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      “Belief has led us to where we don’t just hate ideas, we have come to hate people for holding those ideas because belief is an emotional response not an intellectual one.”

      Right, like Trumpie believes the stock market is somehow making US rich.

      Well, like there is no Santa Claus, a whopping 84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households. And that includes everyone’s stakes in pension plans, 401(k)’s and individual retirement accounts, as well as trust funds, mutual funds and college savings programs like 529 plans.

      “For the vast majority of Americans, fluctuations in the stock market have relatively little effect on their wealth, or well-being, for that matter,” said Edward N. Wolff, an economist at New York University who recently published new research on the topic.

      Dont you just hate that the Rich always get most of the Christmas presents.

      01/1/20 5:05 PM | Comment Link

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