Argue, if you like, but the man makes a good four minute case about the inequality of power between giant corporations and increasingly un-unionized employees, which I watched on the day the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post prints an Associated Press article about the legal case the union has made against Amazon’s successful efforts to crush the union effort by intimidating, threatening and monitoring workers prior to and during the vote . The NY Times, we note, did not cover this development. It has published not a mumbling word about Amazon or the union since it’s April 16 piece claiming Amazon workers pretty much love their company.
Robert Reich makes a very strong case, unless, of course, you agree with Mr. Bezos, Mr. Zuckerberg, Ms. DeVos, that it is perfectly fair that 0.01% of the population has about as much wealth as the bottom 90%. You can make a case for that, but 90% of Americans probably wouldn’t buy it.
…Many of the other allegations by the union revolve around a mailbox that Amazon installed in the parking lot of the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse. It said the mailbox created the false appearance that Amazon was conducting the election, intimidating workers into voting against the union. Security cameras in the parking lot could have recorded workers going to the mailbox, giving the impression that workers were being watched by the company and that their votes weren’t private, according to the retail union…
...Alex Colvin, the dean of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said these types of cases can take a year or more to resolve. Even if a union wins, the penalties for the employer are weak, like it could be forced to post a notice saying employees have a right to form a union. He said the labor board could hold another election, but at workplaces where turnover is high like at Amazon, the employees might no longer be around. Overturning the results are rare, Colvin said.
The union push in Bessemer was the biggest in Amazon’s 26-year history and only the second time one reached a vote. Workers reached out to the union last summer, tired of working 10-hour days on their feet, packing boxes or storing products, without getting enough time to take a break. Mail-in voting started in early February and went on from about 50 days. Organizers promised a union would lead to better working conditions, better pay and more respect.
Amazon, meanwhile, argued that it already offered more than twice the minimum wage in Alabama and provided workers with health care, vision benefits and dental insurance, without paying union dues.
Always generous, the avaricious Mr. Bezos had the last words of the article
Last week, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos acknowledged in a shareholder letter that the company could do better for its workers and said he didn’t take comfort in the outcome of the union election in Bessemer. He vowed to make Amazon a safer place to work by reducing sprains, strains and other injuries at warehouses.
“I think we need to do a better job for our employees,” Bezos said.
Can you believe what we are subjected to in New York City, walking down the street, minding our own business?
What next from these antifa/BLM liar sons of bitches? Hydroxychloroquine doesn’t cure Covid-19? The plague was not deliberately made in a Chinese lab by Satanic Democrat pedophile cannibals in league with Hunter Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky to rig the US election?
Seriously, what next? Sleepy Joe Biden honestly won the election in Georgia, along with that slick Black preacher and the smart-ass Jew journalist who “won” the run-off that had zero electoral integrity (before Georgia fixed its corrupt election laws)? Give me a break, 11,780 votes, come on fellas! You expect me to believe Biden won the Electoral College without massive illegal help from Ukraine?
Polls show that over 60% of Republicans know the real deal (Biden is as illegitimate as Obama was), which is why 43% of Republicans polled are dead set on freedom from tyranny, rather than obsequious obedience to the evil, coercive nanny State that is using “science” to take all freedom away by forcing “vaccinations” on them as it forcibly takes their guns away, craps on Christmas and God — and the Bible– no more Bibles! — and plots to kill their unborn babies.
Actual billboard in West Virginia:
By the way, ever wonder what might have happened differently if that peaceful crowd that swarmed into the Capitol on January 6th actually did hang Mike Pence?
To the Editor:
I have to question why an article that concludes “(t)urnout for the vote was low, at only about half of all eligible workers, suggesting that neither Amazon nor the union had overwhelming support” was headlined Why Amazon Workers Sided With the Company Over a Union. If the article was PR written by Jeff Bezos himself, it could not have been more faithful to his point of view or desired outcome. Fittingly, it ends with Mr. Bezos promising shareholders he’ll do even better to make his lowest paid employees even happier.
The authors observe that if the estimated 25% of the workforce that “turned over” during the three month organizing/voting period had stayed, unionization likely would have prevailed.
Among crucial issues unaddressed by the article, if Amazon workers side with Amazon, why does Amazon have such massive worker turnover, even during a pandemic and economic hard times in one of the poorest states in the US?
The reader is left to piece together, from the “wish” expressed by Amazon supporters that they could have more than a 30 minute break during their ten hour shifts, that working conditions might be less than ideal at the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon fulfillment center.
The reader is left completely uninformed about the “aggressive” (and multi-million dollar) measures Amazon took to defeat the union and dissuade half of its workforce from voting at all.
We get only the gentlest hint of the famously oppressive conditions at the Amazon warehouses that cause so many to quit their jobs, even during an international health emergency. As though the right to urinate when it’s urgent is irrelevant compared to a generous minimum wage and company provided health insurance.
I find myself so churned up these days, as truth and outrageous fiction have become interchangeable in politics, and even reasonable medical advice is weaponized for “political” ends in our 40% John Birch Society America.
The news is an ongoing nightmare to me, as things that should not be in controversy at all are continually fought to the death — you say reality, I say Q!
Since the Chauvin trial for killing the handcuffed George Floyd began on March 29th, only 64 civilians, a mere three a day, have lost their lives during encounters with police, (50% of them have been white) . The question everyone on the right is asking — why are Blacks and liberals claiming there’s a problem with police violence, or the disproportionately racist application of police violence?
Now we have new headlines informing us that Republicans are starting to unite in their opposition to a commission to study if prominent Republicans organized, funded and fomented the January 6 riot at the Capitol (and let it rage for hours, unchecked). Of course they are united in opposing it. You would be too!
So, in the absence of something more concrete to do about anything today, I’m taking Sekhnet’s advice and drafting a letter to the NY Times about their recent “puff piece” for Jeff Bezos.
To the Editor:
I have to question why an article that concludes “Turnout for the vote was low, at only about half of all eligible workers, suggesting that neither Amazon nor the union had overwhelming support” was headlined Why Amazon Workers Sided With the Company Over a Union. If the article had been PR written by Jeff Bezos himself, it could not have been more faithful to his point of view or desired outcome. Fittingly, it ends with Mr. Bezos promising shareholders he’ll do even better to make his lowest paid employees even happier.
The authors observe that if the estimated 25% of the workforce that “turned over” during the three month organizing/voting period had stayed, the union likely would have prevailed.
Among crucial issues unaddressed by the article, if Amazon workers in fact sided with their employer over the union, and love their well-paying $15/hr. jobs and health insurance from day one, why does Amazon have such massive worker turnover, even during a pandemic and economic hard times in one of the poorest states in the US?
The reader is left to piece together, from the “wish” expressed by Amazon supporters that they could have more than a 30 minute break during their ten hour shifts, that working conditions might be less than ideal at the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon fulfillment center.
The reader is left completely uninformed about the “aggressive” (and multi-million dollar) measures Amazon took to defeat the union and dissuade half of its workforce from voting at all.
We get only the gentlest hint of the famously oppressive conditions at the Amazon warehouses that cause so many to quit their jobs, even in one of the poorest states in America, during an international health emergency. As though the right to urinate when it’s urgent is irrelevant compared to a generous minimum wage and company provided health insurance.
Eliot Widaen, New York, NY
Mr. Widaen is a wild-eyed hothead who is often angered by the status quo-defending distortions regularly published by the Journal of Record.
The NY Times has got me by the throat lately, I just read this beautifully crafted, non-judgmental paragraph, in the article cited above, about the 64 civilians who died in encounters with police since the Chauvin trial began three weeks ago, that is making me foam at the mouth slightly:
And their [police killings] fallout has been wrenchingly familiar, from the graphic videos that so often emerge to the protests that so often descend into scuffles between law enforcement and demonstrators on streets filled with tear gas. Just as one community confronts one killing, another happens.source
Reasonable, constitutionally protected protests that are typically met by police clad in anti-riot gear, deploying crowd dispersal methods designed for use against violent insurgents “so often descend into scuffles” on streets “filled with tear gas” (probably terrorist tear gas, no?, beautiful thing, that passive voice — who released the tear gas that filled the streets “filled with tear gas”?)
Makes me wanna holler.
The New York Times ran a piece yesterday entitled Why Amazon Workers Sided With the Company Over a Union . The article purports to explain why Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama sided with Amazon and did not vote for a union in the recent election.
It may be true that less than half of the high turnover Amazon workforce cast a ballot, and, of course, there was a bit of coercion by Amazon (not described beyond a mention in the article), but in the end, Amazon won. The Times concludes that Amazon workers mostly love their company, which is doing its best to take good care of them. The blurb under the headline lays out the bones of their story: Pay, benefits and an aggressive anti-union campaign by the company helped generate votes at a warehouse in Alabama.
The caption under picture of a philosophical looking Amazon worker at the top of the article reads: “I personally didn’t see the need for a union,” said Graham Brooks, an employee at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. “If I was being treated differently, I may have voted differently.”
I really don’t understand the motives of the New York Times in running this kind of student-edited high school newspaper analysis, outside of their reflex to preserve the status quo. Unless they received a direct payment from the world’s richest anti-union man.
I suppose either one is reason enough to run an article that makes no mention of the inhuman productivity demands of a company with an annual 100% attrition rate, forcing workers to endure very limited bathroom breaks and routinely firing and publicly vilifying “troublemakers”. Reason enough to make no mention of the millions of dollars Amazon spent on a relentless coercive campaign (by this platinum company with a solid history of intimidating workers who make complaints) to defeat unionization among their well-paid, health benefit receiving employees, 25% of whom left their excellent, well-paying jobs with benefits during the three month unionization drive in Bessemer, Alabama.
Why not start the article with the highly representative Mr. Brooks, an Amazon worker who loves his job, which pays him $62 a week more than his last employer, and voted against the union? Check. Then, feature the worker with brain cancer, very grateful for the health care Amazon provides every worker from day one, which literally saved her life.
For balance, give the opinion of another worker who would have voted for the union, in spite of a poor sales pitch by the union rep, but quit her job after a few months, along with 25% of the entire workforce during the preceding three month period, because working conditions (not mentioned in the Times article) were so bad she had to quit, even during these economic hard times for so many. She also gave up her health benefits, during a pandemic. We’ll let the Times take it:
Patricia Rivera, who worked at the Bessemer warehouse from September until January, said many of her co-workers in their 20s or younger had opposed the union because they felt pressured by Amazon’s anti-union campaign and felt that the wages and benefits were solid.
“For a younger person, it’s the most money they ever made,” said Ms. Rivera, 62, who would have voted in favor of the union had she stayed. “I give them credit. They start you out and you get insurance right away.”
Ms. Rivera left Amazon because she felt she wasn’t adequately compensated for time she had to take off while quarantining after exposure to Covid-19 at work, she said.
Amazon, in a statement after the election, said, “We’re not perfect, but we’re proud of our team and what we offer, and will keep working to get better every day.”
The reader is left with no information about the inadequate compensation Amazon offered Ms. Rivera for taking health precautions after being exposed to Covid-19 at the Amazon warehouse. Was it possibly zero? Bezos famously called on Amazon workers with remaining sick leave to give those days to fellow-workers who were forced to stay home due to Covid-19 infections contracted at Amazon.
At this point in the article, for the sake of fairness, you can mention that the points raised by several interviewed who voted against the union echoed the points endlessly hammered by Amazon at mandatory anti-union meetings. There was the concern that unionization might lead to the end of health and retirement benefits (which Amazon would be forced to do if the workers were allowed to have a union?). Check. Here you go:
Other workers said in interviews that they or their co-workers did not trust unions or had confidence in Amazon’s anti-union message that the workers could change the company from within. Often, in explaining their position, they echoed the arguments that Amazon had made in mandatory meetings, where it stressed its pay, raised doubts about what a union could guarantee and said benefits could be reduced if workers unionized.
When a union representative called her about the vote, Ms. Johnson said, he couldn’t answer a pointed question about what the union could promise to deliver.
“He hung up on me,” she said. “If you try to sell me something, I need you to be able to sell that product.”
So, you see, Times reader, unions themselves can’t justify the need for a union. See for yourself, from the next paragraph.
Danny Eafford, 59, said he had taken every opportunity to tell co-workers at the warehouse that he strongly opposed the union, arguing that it wouldn’t improve their situation. He said he had told colleagues about how a union let him down when he lost a job years ago at the Postal Service.
No reason to mention the consultants Amazon paid $3,200 a day for their expert work defeating the union drive, or the US postal service mail box for ballots Amazon managed to have installed on-site to monitor who was voting, when you can highlight the pro-union former Amazon worker who was turned off by an union representative’s less than convincing pitch on the phone.
Not a sentence about Amazon’s storied history of spending millions to intimidate and vilify workers who are uncomfortable working during a pandemic at a crowded workplace where a significant proportion of workers contract Covid-19 from unsafe working conditions. No mention of the need of tens of thousands of happy, well-paid Amazon workers to urinate in bottles in order to keep up with their demanding production requirements. Here’s as close as the NY Times gets to describing those conditions, quoting Amazon lover Mr. Brooks:
Many of the workers at the warehouse have complaints about Amazon, wanting shorter hours or less obtrusive monitoring of their production. Mr. Brooks and others said they wished their 10-hour shift had a break period longer than 30 minutes because in the vast warehouse, they can spend almost half their break just walking to and from the lunchroom.
Turnout for the vote was low, at only about half of all eligible workers, suggesting that neither Amazon nor the union had overwhelming support.
The article ends on this upbeat note, from the generous Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon:
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, said Thursday in his annual letter to investors that the outcome in Bessemer did not bring him “comfort.”
“It’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees — a vision for their success,” he wrote.
Since neither Amazon nor the union had overwhelming support, why not call the article Why Amazon Workers Sided With the Company Over a Union, you contemptible corporate shills?
My father, a survivor of brutal abuse during his childhood (merciless physical and psychological beatings which started in infancy), was not one to examine his own pain, beyond an occasional reference to the personal demons we all must fight. He took positions I now see were predictable for someone holding in so much pain from the unspeakable trauma he’d endured. People can’t change, shrinks are the craziest people in society, therapy is a waste of time, since people can’t really change, and since we can’t change, talking about it is a big waste of time and energy.
“Look at my brother,” he would say, by way of resting his case about the futility of therapy. His brother, who had been in psychoanalysis for years, was arguably even crazier than he was. My father would never concede that he needed help, because people couldn’t be helped, goddamn it! You take people as you find them, with their faults, warts, tics as well as their good points — we are all in each other’s lives on a take it or leave it basis. I am what I am, I’m not going to change, if you have a problem with that, I’m sorry you have a problem.
It was useless to point out that we make accommodations to people we are care about all the time, important changes if you will. I love my dog and you’re terrified of dogs, I don’t let my dog happily greet you by leaping to lick your face when you come to visit. You find yourself trapped in a situation you don’t want to talk about, no matter what — we don’t need to talk about it. You are offended by coarse language, I don’t need to argue that you are being a needlessly squeamish fuck — “exhibiting a prudish readiness to be nauseated” (in my favorite dictionary phrase of all-time). There are countless examples of things we adjust in ourselves to get along with people.
But that we can all sometimes exert ourselves to get along with others is not really the point. We are traumatized in various ways, and the trauma we’ve experienced colors our world, influences how we see things and how we react. If the trauma is experienced early in life, and repeated consistently, it exerts ongoing influence on our personalities, our choices in life. It is painful to address and difficult to try to resolve.
Trauma is a subtle thing sometimes — it can be something as deniably neutral as remaining stoically silent when someone is pouring their heart out to us. No matter how you try to move me, I will simply not be moved, waiting for you to make the next move, doing nothing you can really blame me for, unless you’re just trying to blame me for your own pathetic problems. The consistent withholding of sympathy is a great way to traumatize a young person and it has the additional advantage of making it seem like the little bastard’s own fault, it will cause the kid to question everything about herself.
I can see the sometimes crippling effects of my father’s often abusive behavior on others in the family more easily than I can see them in myself. Still, I realize that I’ve had to overcome senseless pain that more fortunate people, people whose parents weren’t themselves traumatized, did not have to experience. I think of that great lyric from Albert King “I can’t read, I can hardly write, my whole life’s been one long fight.” I spent decades fighting, for reasons I could barely understand. I understand those reasons much better now, though the reactions I had to struggle against cost me virtually every job I’ve ever had. There came a time when a boss would tell me “this is not a discussion, you do not get a say” and I’d be compelled to be witty.
“Not even ‘fuck you’, sir?”
You can take every mass shooter, like the several in recent days, any police officer who shoots a seventh grader with his hands up, complying with his orders, Derek Chauvin, hands in pockets as he slowly chokes a man to death, or the now indicted officer who trained other officers in the use of force who yelled “taser! taser!” as she shot a man to death after they found out he had an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor arrest. Take any of these folks and examine their life, and I’d pretty much guarantee they were survivors of some kind of life-altering trauma. It doesn’t excuse their depraved indifference to human life, of course, but it explains how they could act so callously toward others.
I’ve spent time in therapy at various points in my life. I believe it helped me more than it helped my uncle (though, of course, it could hardly have helped less). One breakthrough I had was letting go of much of my anger toward my father when I understood he had done the best he could, based on how he was shaped by his own trauma.
I was far from being able to forgive him, of course, for being such a relentlessly destructive dick, but I came to an emotional understanding that was very important to my belated growth as a person. Once I realized it hadn’t strictly been his choice to be such an abusive parent, once I learned of his abuse and grasped how the whippings he’d taken as a two year-old had warped his world, I was able to let go of a certain amount of anger. If he’d apologized, I could actually have forgiven him, but his position remained as un-nuanced as it always had been — take it or leave it, I am what I am, you got a problem with that it’s your problem.
When I got the sudden news that he was dying, of end-stage liver cancer that had not been diagnosed until he had six days to live, I got on a plane and went to his Florida hospital room. I was in a position that nobody else in the family was in — I’d had important understandings about my father’s life and how it affected my own. I was present in a way nobody else there could be. My father told me, moments after I arrived, “you’re the only one who knows what’s going on.”
I understood that this was about my father’s rapidly approaching death, not about my fear of losing my father, settling a score with him or anything else. He was the one who was dying, not me. I don’t know that I’d have grasped this so clearly if I’d still held so much anger against him, if I hadn’t achieved a level of empathy for the abuse he’d survived.
It is easy enough to scoff at what I’m going to tell next, and, of course, you’re free to. Because I was not standing in judgment of my difficult father, or in denial about his rapidly approaching death (his brother buttonholed his doctor in the hall and asked about a liver transplant for his 80 year-old older brother), or still trying to prosecute my grievances, my father and I were finally able to have a real conversation. I mostly listened.
When I arrived at his deathbed at one a.m. on what turned out to be the last night of his life, he was waiting for me, his thoughts all in order, as he’d promised they would be. He began by alluding to the demon he’d been avoiding his whole life, the childhood abuse he’d suffered at the hands of his violent little mother. “Everything Eli told you about my childhood was true,” he said, referring to the many discussions I’d had with his seventeen years older first cousin, “but he probably spared you the worst of it.”
This was a striking way to begin, it got my attention and summarized hours of discussion into a few words. He’d always insisted that Eli was full of shit, an unreliable historian who distorted everything to his own crazy ends. Now, in a few words, Eli had been truthful, and thoughtful too, in not painting the horrific picture as brutally as it had actually occurred. It got my attention, and required no response from me.
“My life was pretty much over by the time I was two,” my father said.
Again, this was something I knew to be the case. I’d often thought of him as emotionally trapped as a two year-old. Though he was brilliant in many areas, his emotional reactions, within the family, particularly his wildly uncontrolled temper, were those of a two-year old. There was no reason to say anything about this either.
He went on to acknowledge how wrong he’d been to place obstacles in front of my sister and me, life being hard enough without a father making it harder still by being a “horse’s ass”. I’d never heard him use this phrase, but he described himself as a horse’s ass at least twice in the course of apologizing for having behaved badly, in a misguided attempt to feel “in control” that placed gratuitous burdens on my sister and me. It was the only time I can ever remember my father apologizing for anything. I had only one comment, as he berated himself.
“You can’t kick yourself now, you did the best you could do, at the time.” I believed this was true, I understood why he’d acted the way he did, recognized that he could also have done worse — nothing but some kind of innate restraint kept him from beating me and my sister as he’d been beaten.
The point of this little piece is how brutally the hidden effects of unaddressed trauma can act upon us, as individuals and as a society. The 87,000 desperate American souls who killed themselves with drug overdoses last year, every single one of them, was wrestling with traumas that they felt they could only deal with by numbing themselves to death. As a society we ignore trauma — we are not an empathetic society, we spend a million times more on state violence than on addressing the causes of violence. As a culture we extoll the mythical rugged individual, the largely imaginary hero who, without any help or advantage, overcomes all adversity and defeats every challenge to “win.” In a falsely black and white world of winners and losers, it is not necessary to address the pressing problems of “losers.”
Our society is an over-boiling caldron of trauma. Is the constant danger of death from an invisible air-borne virus not traumatic? Is the very real prospect of irreversible destruction of our biosphere not traumatic? Are the fears of millions, probably billions worldwide, that cause masses to cling to insane, often violent, beliefs not born in trauma? People react as they must.
When Robert Evans called Naziism “at its heart a conspiracist theology” he was putting his finger on something very deep and horrifying.
You can look at a conspiracist religion as a predictable reaction to trauma, terror, humiliation. What are the tenets of this kind of religion? You are hurt, and absolutely right to feel hurt, you’re a victim, and the people who hurt you are going to fucking suffer and die.
Here’s what you have to do — sign up to this theory, this theology. Now you can join us in painting the world in good and evil, ascribe all good to your fight for revenge against the evil ones, and all evil to … duh! The evil ones! The godless inner-city thugs who want to rape your wives, mistresses, mothers, daughters, grandmothers. Etc. And best of all, no personal pain need be felt when you externalize it onto a hated enemy who is completely to blame while you are totally innocent.
A religion of conspiracy, a faith that explains everything you cannot understand and provides a simple, clear answer, to the burning question of why you feel so traumatized, why you are in so much pain. If you subscribe to our muscular, proactive theology, and march with the rest of us, you will soon be joyously trampling the evil enemies who brought all this hurt on you. And we will love you for it, and all live happily ever after, amen.
There are conspiracy theories, often fed by government opacity or some other infernal thing, that are reasonable attempts to explain things that don’t seem to be adequately explained. Conspiracy theories sometimes turn out to be true, like the suspicions that the FBI had been running a program called COINTELPRO for years, infiltrating political organizations and fomenting violence that justified government clampdowns on otherwise legal, peaceful political groups. The revelation of this covert FBI program, after a Congressional investigation, explained much of the violence and several of the assassinations of the Civil Rights and Anti-war movements of the 1960s.
Then there is conspiracism, a deeply held belief that everything evil in the world is the result of an evil conspiracy. Conspiracists see a powerful secret cabal at work, usually blood drinking pedophile child-murderer types, very powerful, ruthless and always plotting satanically evil shit. Marjorie Taylor Green, with her cabal of satanic Democrat [sic] cannibal pedophiles (revealed by anonymous patriot anti-pedophile Q) and wild fire causing Jewish space lasers, is an example of a conspiracist, as are millions in her party.
Conspiracy theories often arise when credible information is kept hidden from the public. Conspiracism is a faith-based, global worldview that posits a titanic struggle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness and offers a one-stop explanation for all evil in the world. The specific details are crucial for conspiracy theorists, not really necessary for conspiracists who know what they know in their guts.
Here is an example of why people who are not conspiracists might develop a conspiracy theory to explain unexplained, or sloppily explained, phenomena. When terrorists attacked and destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 a lot of unexplained things happened on that day, the several days before and in the days that followed. Pure coincidence, in the “shit happens” vein, or evidence of a larger plan at work on that day that will live in infamy?
The man in charge of NORAD, the agency that scrambles Air Force fighter jets to intercept any threat in the air, was on his first day on the job on that fateful September 11. There were also war games being conducted, involving numerous jet planes, on September 11. There was confusion at NORAD about whether reports of passenger jets highjacked and off-course were part of these war games or really happening. The delay in figuring this out was fatal to thousands. There was massive secret stock market activity, specifically the selling of airline shares, early on September 11– among parties who have never been identified, parties who made a killing based on advance knowledge of the attack.
Early in the post 9-11 period when no flights were allowed in US air space, a plane full of Saudis (almost all of the 9/11 suicide terrorists were Saudi), including relatives of Osama bin Laden, was given special permission to quietly leave the country — nobody on board was interviewed by the FBI. The gigantic, far-reaching Patriot Act, longtime dream of the neo-con group Project For A New American Century, was ready to be voted within days of the terrifying 9-11 attack. The administration blocked formation of a 9/11 Commission, and, when it was finally convened, the president refused to take an oath to tell the truth, or even to speak to the Commission without his vice president, Dick Cheney, present — on further condition that nothing they talked about in that secret session could ever be revealed.
The answer to why a frantic late August presidential security briefing entitled “bin Laden determined to use commercial airliners to strike buildings for mass casualty event” was never acted on went into the dustbin of history like the rest of these never to be answered questions. And so on.
All these things lead to the suspicion that powerful motherfuckers in the US government, whose power was greatly enhanced by the attack, or were cynically advancing larger ideological goals (the Patriot Act, its Project for A New American Century authors acknowledged, might take a generation to implement, absent a dramatic Pearl Harbor scale national catastrophe) knew the attack was coming and let it happen (if they weren’t even more intimately involved).
Conspiracism applies this kind of scrutiny to everything, without the necessity for all the details. It is a simplified world view, based on good and evil. If I lost my job, there is somebody to blame, a cabal of evil globalists, by God! Those who want to restrict gun ownership — clearly part of a cabal of child-blood drinking communists who want to take our guns so we can’t defend our children! Those who want black and brown people to be able to freely vote in huge numbers are for the Great Replacement, the plot to negate the rights of White People by replacing them with black and brown voters obedient to evil globalists who hate our God-given freedom. Ask Tucker, if you have any questions about that last one.
Robert Evans, a brilliant young journalist with a darkly mischievous sense of humor, hosts a podcast called Behind The Bastards. It’s an in depth look at some of the major scumbags in history, past and present. Evans researches the featured bastard and writes a script that he reads (sometimes quickly) as his guest reacts to the information he’s setting out. It is a great format, since the reactions of the guests so often mirror the reaction of the listener, and sometimes lead to great asides and surprising insights.
There is also frequent laughter about truly horrific details, which I find very welcome. How many people died building the Suez Canal? They look it up. 120,000! And Evans bursts out laughing. As I did, hearing his reaction to how fucked up that is.
This week the bastard that Evans is discussing is not a person but a thing: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This infamous and influential 1904 Czarist forgery continues to exert great power in the world and forms the basis for a conspiracist world view. One of the best history books I’ve ever read, Pogrom: Kishniev and the Tilt of History, scrupulously researched and beautifully written by Steven J. Zipperstein, does a great job setting out the origins of this hateful and pervasive myth.
Robert Evans makes the case that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is the mother of conspiracism. He offers this concise exposition (which I will transcribe below) drawing a line back in time from the Nazi cult of mythologically powerful evil Jews to the Protocols, and before that, the birthplace of modern antisemitic conspiracy theory, the French Revolution. His guests interjections are also great, as is Evans’s little laugh at the end:
Naziism at its heart was a conspiracist theology. All of Germany’s problems could be laid at the feet of international Jewry who were responsible not just for the German defeat in World War One but for the overthrow of the Czars and the establishment of the USSR. When the war turned against the Nazis, Hitler and his high command diverted crucial war resources towards fueling the extermination camps in the east because eliminating the Jews was for them a military priority.
Not all conspiracist beliefs center around the idea of an international Jewish conspiracy, but conspiracism itself has its origins intricately tied to antisemitism and the most successful conspiracy theory ever made in human history: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
(with feeling) hmmmm!
The concept of grand conspiracies is not very old, as these things go. Conspiracy theories, grand conspiracy theories, go back about nine hundred years and have only really become operational in the last two hundred years. The inciting incident for all modern grand conspiracy theories is the French Revolution.
This makes sense, when you really think about it. One of the world’s great powers, the most powerful military force in the world at the time, the most established monarchy in the world, is overthrown, seemingly overnight, and replaced with a radical left-wing government. Blood letting and chaos ensues.
Many people felt the changes that swept France couldn’t possibly be the result of long-simmering unrest and kingly incompetence. It couldn’t be the king was dumb, he fucked up, people took their chance and they got lucky and things just worked out and they overthrew the government. It couldn’t be that, it has to be some cabal was plotting this.
And unfortunately for just a whole lot of people, the birth of modern conspiracy theory happened to very neatly coincide with something else — the birth of modern antisemitism. So these two things are really happening right at the same time. When I talk about modern antisemitism, I’m not just talking about, like… it’s, what is the difference between racism and antisemitism?
Antisemitism is a type of racism but not all different groups of people have the same thing that Jewish people go through with antisemitism, which is antisemitism isn’t just bigotry against Jewish people, it’s belief that they control the entire world, right? That’s not a thing that is universal in racism, it’s a thing that exists beyond that, but that’s a specific thing.
Yeah, with black people they’re never worried we’re in charge.
(chuckling) Yeah, yeahsource
I highly recommend this episode, the first of a two part presentation on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Protocols detail the plans of people just like me, religious rabbis who are actually secular humanists, to dominate the world by destroying Christianity through the inculcation of by anti-monarchism, secularism, liberalism and socialism — including the virus of human “equality” (for the most cynical of purposes), into the masses, by any means necessary. The very personification of the enemies of men like William Pelham “Bagpiper” Barr.
The wildly influential forgery (exposed as such soon after its publication) has been in continuous publication since the Czar’s secret police had it written more than a hundred years ago. Its mad, chilling storyline (the Jewish plan for world domination is stitched together from a number of sources, whole sections plagiarized from previous novels about Satanist and anti-monarchist plans), has been translated into countless languages and continues to be one of the best selling books in history, rivaled only by the New Testament, (and possibly Mein Kampf, a book owned by many Nazis, if read by few — try it sometime…)
No time now for anything but a cursory post, and I’m rattled, a little pressed for time.
Just a few words for today — this too shall pass. That goes for the pandemic, hopefully, if we can reach herd immunity through the vaccine, rather than the “herd mentality” promised by the former president. Though it looks like a toss-up at the moment, with every reasonable health precaution weaponized by murderous imbeciles, we are heading toward immunity, if unthinking “mentality” doesn’t win the race.
I’m thinking of this race against time in the context of my own unsettled mood, as I watch democracy here, there and everywhere teetering on the brink. Democracy is the worst system of government ever tried, except for every other system, as some wit once cracked (Churchill?). Still, there’s a lot of opportunity in this crisis moment for unscrupulous, I’ll be blunt and just say Nazi-types, to advance their authoritarian agendas. Bolsonaro in Brazil, who got elected in Brazil by literally locking up his opponent (who was expected to easily win) during the election, is destroying the Amazon rain forest, the lungs of the planet, at a record clip, and his fascist buddies elsewhere have been tireless in their infernal efforts too.
Every so often the news reports on how widespread our fear, malaise and hopelessness actually are. A few months back there was a big story about the epidemic of despair in the youth worldwide. Today the NY Times runs a story informing us, surprise, that drug overdose deaths have surged in the USA, 87,000 succumbed to deaths of despair during this disorienting pandemic, desperate people trying to numb pain and terror in a way that led to their last breath.
Despair is not the answer. Productive action is the answer, though how to take it at this unsettling moment is often hard to put your finger on. There are more good people than bad people, I’m with Anne Frank on that one. Of course, Anne’s optimism about human nature was not rewarded very well. Ours will hopefully lead us to a better fate.
Whoops, time to start jumping…
The biggest, most dangerous lies we have to contend with, the most far-reaching in their effects, are promulgated by experts in spreading information that favors one party to the detriment of all others. This is called Public Relations, PR. PR is the art of telling the public selected things that will make them accept “externalities” like poverty wages, dead babies, toxic drinking water, thousands of bankrupted farmers dead by suicide. Best of all, from a PR perspective, is to make this ugly shit disappear entirely, so we can have harmony, prosperity and a good business climate. Yer proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats (except for the many already submerged and out of sight, which goes without saying).
There is a term in the law that excuses a certain kind of blustering lying, it is called “puffery”. Presumably you puff yourself up to make your threat look bigger and more terrible than it is, to make the other party back down. There’s no crime in puffery, nor has any lawyer been punished in any way for what can be justified as mere puffery. Puffery is your proverbial slippery slope down to a trough of shit, and many an outright public lie has been defended as mere puffery.
Public Relations is closely related to commercial advertising, indistinguishable from it, actually. The techniques of Public Relations, creating a desirable one-sided story to influence the public to accept whatever it is you’re trying to do, are identical to the ones used by propagandists. Propaganda, most people believe, is a bad thing, since it hides the truth and makes a false case for things like war, discrimination, genocide.
But Public Relations, you understand, is a completely different field, and basically morally neutral, clean, even its dirty little sibling political advertising. One key thing about successful public relations messages — they should be as ubiquitous as possible. I offer a couple of examples that spring to mind.
I just heard a great episode of Krista Tippett’s insightful On Being. Every week she engages in discussion with someone putting spiritual insight into practice to make the world a better place. She spoke to the co-founder and director of Theatre of War, a group that stages ancient Greek tragedies to foster audience discussion of our own traumas . It is a moving discussion, very pertinent in our traumatic moment in history, and I recommend it.
In thanking her sponsors at the end, Krista reads this perfectly articulated 8 second PR message from a billionaire philanthropist named Charles Koch:
Well-born, iron-willed billionaire engineer Charles Koch has done more than perhaps anyone in US history to bring about a violently divided society where the 0.01% percent have as much wealth as the bottom 80%, enshrining his inherited advantages in perpetuity through canny political action, funding dozens of “think tanks” and other politically influential institutions, aided by an army of lawyers and ruthlessly effective PR. Now, as his death approaches, he wants to be remembered as a generous and courageous collaborator dedicated to discovering and elevating tools to cure intolerance and bridge differences.
Sure, after a lifetime dedicated to hobbling democracy, suppressing wages, fighting integration, destroying the environment and all ecological regulation, creating influential far-right organizations, funding the Tea Party “revolution,” sowing the ground for Trump, packing the federal courts with judges of his extreme political stripe — why not take a bow as a man dedicated to curing intolerance?
Depending on your political orientation you may be sad or happy about the recent defeat of the unionizing efforts in an Alabama sweatshop run by the world’s wealthiest man. It was a one-sided loss for the union advocates. Most Amazon workers in the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse voted not to unionize, after Amazon spent millions in what many see as a coordinated effort to intimidate its workers. The anti-union effort worked beautifully. Now is the time for continued PR.
The turnover rate for Jeff Bezos’s wonderful, well-paid warehouse jobs (who doesn’t enjoy pissing in a bottle?) is around 100% a year, we learn. These great, very demanding jobs burn people out pretty quickly, apparently. But pay no attention to that, PR to the rescue. You can watch smiling actors of all colors and genders talk about how great it is to work for the world’s richest man, how it has enriched their lives and given them a brighter future. These ads are ubiquitous, as are Amazon’s messages of support for a $15 minimum wage from a wealthy man who already voluntarily pays that large hourly sum to his well-paid, happy workers.
I love the way the Amazon swoosh, as carelessly artless a swoosh as there is in the world of branding, idiotically, and likely unintentionally, slashes and defaces the word “wages”. It also seems to put a crudely drawn question mark at the end. Talk about Freudian slips. But the point is made. A company that clawed back its generous $2/hr hazard pay increase two months into the pandemic, fired and vilified workers who protested against unhealthy working conditions during the pandemic, and paid dozens of expert consultants $3,200 a day to help crush an attempt to unionize an Amazon warehouse (success!), is very generous and changing lives for the better for more than a million low-skilled, low-paid workers.
To round out this PR piece, let’s go to former Attorney General Bill Barr and his boss, the former president who, very much like George Washington before him, could not tell a lie.
You will recall that in their attempt to hold on to power leading up to the rigged 2020 election they were working on an American Carnage scenario. Their story was that irrationally enraged Blacks and their radical allies were overrunning Anarchist Jurisdictions, where hopelessly liberal mayors and governors were allowing these massive demonstrations, these riots, and showing terrible disloyalty to the President. The spin was that these out of control mobs, rampaging for absolutely no reason and seemingly enraged at overwhelming police force arrayed against them, were threatening life as we know it and it was likely that martial law would have to be invoked to protect democracy, or some cherished right wing version of it.
Barr sent federal troops to protect a federal building in Portland, Oregon, pursuant to an Executive Order about protecting federal property from violence. Violence escalated immediately, once the anti-riot forces arrived on the scene. You recall the unmarked shock troops jumping out of unmarked rented vans to grab protesters, who they drove around, handcuffed and hooded, and released without charges. It was a radical experiment, to see if federal forces could be widely deployed to put down this threatening Black revolution. Black Lives Matter was portrayed as a violent terrorist group, as was antifa. People who claimed that police killings of unarmed Blacks is a serious ongoing problem in America were themselves the serious ongoing problem in America. These lawless rioters would not be tolerated.
Recall how things escalated in Portland. Trump supporters began staging counter protests in Portland. An armed Trump supporter was shot to death one night by a violent “antifa terrorist”. Four days later, the suspected anitfa killer was found 120 miles from Portland and quickly died in a hail of police bullets when federal marshals staged a raid. The story of the original murder of the Trump supporter, was reported, by the Washington Post, at the very end of the article about the police killing of his suspected murderer, this way:.
The incident came after a caravan of Trump supporters, including members of the Patriot Prayer group, made their way through Portland, sparking skirmishes with those who objected to their presence. Portland has seen more than three months of often violent protests after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, and the shooting seemed to intensify the persistent tension.
As for the police killing of the suspected killer of the Trump supporter? From that same article in the Washington Post:
A vocal proponent of the far-left antifa movement who was suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of a far-right group in Portland, Ore., this weekend was shot and killed in a confrontation with law enforcement Thursday, the U.S. Marshals Service said.
Investigators were seeking to take Michael Forest Reinoehl into custody in connection with the fatal shooting of 39-year-old Aaron J. Danielson on Saturday after confrontations between supporters of President Trump and Black Lives Matter counterprotesters.
The agency said Reinoehl was shot by police near Olympia, Wash., after drawing a weapon as officers tried to arrest him.
“The fugitive task force located Reinoehl in Olympia and attempted to peacefully arrest him,” said Jurgen R. Soekhoe, a U.S. Marshals spokesman, in a statement. “Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers. Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.”source
The attempt to peacefully arrest him was accomplished when officers jumped out of two SUVs that had sped to the scene, cut off Reinhoel’s parked car and opened fire on the left-wing suspect, killing him in a barrage of 37 bullets. Here’s Barr, about the “confrontation” between Reinoehl and the officers who attempted to peacefully apprehend him and, in his estimation, justifiably opened fire on the dangerous fugitive:
In a statement Friday, Attorney General William P. Barr called Reinoehl a “a dangerous fugitive, admitted Antifa member, and suspected murderer,” who was shot by law enforcement after he “attempted to escape arrest and produced a firearm.”
“The streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed, and the actions that led to his location are an unmistakable demonstration that the United States will be governed by law, not violent mobs,” Barr said.
A few days later, a more accurate picture of how admitted Antifa member Reinoehl was killed came out. But not before Trump weighed in. The NY Times reported:
The U.S. Marshals Service declined to comment for this article, citing the pending investigation. The agency previously said that it had attempted to “peacefully arrest” Mr. Reinoehl and that he had threatened the lives of law enforcement officers.
President Trump, who has described the racial justice protests that have roiled the nation as the work of lawless criminals, praised the operation.
“This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him,” the president told Fox News. “And I will tell you something, that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.”source
Kill one of ours, the government will kill one of yours. Hammurabi.
The Times article cited above details what actually happened in the “confrontation” that led to Reinoehl’s killing. Witnesses thought it was a mob hit, or a drug cartel execution. Reinoehl was walking toward his car, holding a cell phone and a bag of candy when the “confrontation” began. Two SUVs sped to the scene, cutting off Reinoehl’s car, four armed men leapt out and immediately opened fire. Nobody heard anyone identify themselves as police or yell anything else at the suspect. An unfired handgun was found in a pocket of Reinhoehl’s bullet riddled corpse, (proof that his killing by government agents was totally justified, as police investigators later found.)
Of course, who are you going to believe, the Lying New York Times, and twenty-two so-called “witnesses” who were interviewed by the paper, or men of unimpeachable integrity like Bill Barr and a president who, try as he might, simply cannot tell a lie?
“Remember,” Bryan Doerries likes to say in both physical and virtual gatherings, “you are not alone in this room — and you are not alone across time.” With his public health project, Theater of War, he is activating an old alchemy for our young century. Ancient stories, and texts that have stood the test of time, can be portals to honest and dignified grappling with present wounds and longings and callings that we aren’t able to muster in our official places now. It’s an embodiment of the good Greek word catharsis — releasing both insight and emotions that have had no place to go, and creating an energizing relief. And it is now unfolding in the “amphitheater” of Zoom that Sophocles could not have imagined.