The importance of focus during a crisis

We live in a culture of distraction based on marketing to each of us personally every possible moment. The power to sell us things (and ideas) every waking moment has never been greater than now, when we carry our virtual community with us everywhere, in our pocket.

The constant distraction of monetized social media during these desperate times makes mass influence much easier, “social media” also creates the illusion of community and democracy by making mass “personal” conduct, like the so-called Arab Spring or the January 6 MAGA riot at the Capitol, events in which many choose the same personal action at the same moment, more likely.

So much noise and bad air is flying at us, constantly, in a torrent directed at each of us personally, that it is almost impossible to keep the larger view of what is happening in front of our senses for more than a moment. The heightened anxiety of living in a competitive, highly individualistic culture where the stakes for losing include homelessness and death for lack of medical insurance, is good for only one thing, the corporate bottom line — consumerism. Fear and anxiety sell! When the going gets tough the tough go shopping.

As consumers about to spend our money, our power of personal choice is at its greatest. What specific variety you consume and when you consume it (on demand, it doesn’t get better than that!) are really the only inviolable US freedoms at the moment, so who would not feel better when making consumer choices, even ones thrust at us?

Our challenge in this environment is how to escape from these ever more complete personal/social/political bubbles once in a while to see the bigger picture, the historical one. How to take in, focus on and retain important small details that later become so important in the big picture.

It’s often hard to see a direct line in a mass of information until someone else lays it out for us. Heather Cox Richardson, historian and writer, has emerged as one of our best in this moment in history. Here’s a bit that caught my eye from the other night’s Letters from an American:

Ukraine, which became independent from the old U.S.S.R. in 1991—December 2 is the anniversary of Poland and Canada becoming the first to recognize its independence, actually—is not part of NATO. It had begun the process of applying for membership in 2008, but in 2010, Russia-allied oligarch Viktor Yanukovych, whose campaign was being handled by Paul Manafort, won the presidency and turned the nation away from NATO and toward Russia. 

In 2014, Ukrainians rose up and overthrew Yanukovych, who fled to Russia (thus putting Manafort out of a job and freeing him to run Trump’s 2016 campaign). Later that year, Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimea, prompting the U.S. economic sanctions that Putin desperately wants lifted. Ukraine’s interest in joining NATO jumped.

source

Heather’s point in that post was to detail the autocratic Putin’s high-stakes brinksmanship in his current threat of Ukraine, as Russia threatens all-out war with Ukraine, not to expose the Trump connections that may underlie the ongoing crisis. But read these lines and see how much of the current GOP’s ongoing anti-democratic corruption is encapsulated in them.

in 2010, Russia-allied oligarch Viktor Yanukovych, whose campaign was being handled by Paul Manafort, won the presidency and turned the nation away from NATO and toward Russia.

Trump’s unpaid, volunteer campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had spent years in Ukraine, making many millions of dollars, grooming a Russia-allied oligarch to become president of Ukraine. Manafort, the man of ostrich jackets and the lavish lifestyle, was not one to do anything without a big pay day. Manafort’s candidate Viktor Yanukovych was in office until 2014, openly exercising corrupt power when

 
Ukrainians rose up and overthrew Yanukovych, who fled to Russia (thus putting Manafort out of a job and freeing him to run Trump’s 2016 campaign).

This is a huge background detail in Trump’s shakedown call to the new Ukrainian president asking him to do him a political favor, though, by announcing a corruption investigation into Hunter Biden. That call led a whistleblower to report the improper use of presidential power, which in turn led to Trump’s AG burying the whistleblower complaint, as one does when one’s power is unrestrained by any principle. Nancy Pelosi foolishly bet the farm on Americans being outraged that an American president would try to extort a political favor from our allies Ukraine. To which most Americans responded “Ukraine? What is a fucking Ukraine?”

Manafort, the Republican Senate intelligence committee report found, regularly met with and gave sensitive polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik an agent of Mr.. Putin’s. Mr. Putin did everything possible to help swing a close election to his useful idiot Mr. Trump. These findings were confirmed by Little Marco (Rubio) and his Republican committee. Manafort lied under oath, was convicted, sentenced, pardoned by Trump like his colleague Roger Stone, like the insane Mike Flynn. Nothing to see here

To many average Americans, the only question regarding Ukraine is whether it, not Putin, actually helped Trump squeak his way into the White House.

Besides, what the hell even is a Ukraine?

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