A Rabbit and A Cautionary Tale


by Roxanne Tellier

Before we start pondering this wild new terrain they’re calling 2020, I need to know …

Why is Carnival Cruises using Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit as their new theme song? Is “Feed Your Head” a wink and a nod to the endless buffets? Or have they gone full hedonist and now include hallucinogens and your drugs of choice in the all inclusive, nonstop, eat til you burst smorgasbord? And that bartender mixing a cocktail – is he slipping something interesting into the pineapple and cherry garnished goodness of that woman’s rum punch? I don’t know if the song is meant to encourage a druggy intemperance, or if it’s meant to trigger the old hippie who, upon hearing the song, says to the spouse, ‘damn, the last time we dropped acid, this song was hot. How’s about we find us some electric Kool-Aid and blow the kids’ inheritance on crack and a Carnival Cruise?!”

Inquiring minds want to know.

Why is it that, no matter how many times Susan Collins pretends she’s thinking of going against the GOP to actually be bipartisan, we all believe that this time… THIS TIME … she’ll actually come through? 

Inquiring minds want to know.

And why is it that the right to free speech ends when you yell ‘Fire!’ in a public place, potentially harming other citizens, but your right to ‘bear arms’ doesn’t end when you use those arms against other citizens?

Inquiring minds want to know.

This year has really started off with a lot of bang bang. You have to wonder about scale, about where you go from here, when, just three days into the new year, you’ve already assassinated the second most powerful person in Iran, apparently on a whim, on a wish to distract trump’s reality show viewers from the machinations of the Impeachment trial, and on the whispered prayers of some of your party’s most fanatically religious hawks

If you’re a reader of apocalypta, a student of history, and a political junkie, it’s not all that hard to see that the speed bumps visible on the road ahead are landmines, and that it’s time to watch where you’re placing your feet and your future.

Certainly, 40% of currently serving Republicans would agree; they’ve opted to retire from politics, rather than to stand up to the Mean Boy who wants to rule the world.

Trump’s cruelty is sadistic, the viciousness of a twelve-year-old boy torturing creatures smaller than himself, just because he can. He started his ‘reign of terror’ just one week after his inauguration by implementing a cruel Muslim Ban that affected tens of thousands of travelers.

Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, politically labeled as a Muslim ban by detractors or a travel ban by supporters, was an executive order by United States president Donald Trump. Except for the extent to which it was blocked by various courts, it was in effect from January 27, 2017, until March 16, 2017, when it was superseded by Executive Order 13780. Executive Order 13769 lowered the number of refugees to be admitted into the United States in 2017 to 50,000, suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, suspended the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely, directed some cabinet secretaries to suspend entry of those whose countries do not meet adjudication standards under U.S. immigration law for 90 days, and included exceptions on a case-by-case basis. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lists these countries as Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. More than 700 travelers were detained, and up to 60,000 visas were “provisionally revoked”.”

Remember that? And how scary it was, and how pretty much everyone thought that this was way worse than what most people had envisioned, even under a maniac like Trump?  Feels normal, almost business like usual now, doesn’t it? 

achtung, baby ….

After all, the outrageous acts that followed, mainly scripted by Trump’s trained Nazi, Stephen Miller, just kept getting more sadistic and insane as the years passed, didn’t they? Once you’ve started rounding up immigrants and refugees, and children are dying in freezing camps under unsanitary conditions, while your air and water are daily treated as commodities to be sold but not enjoyed by the nation, it’s a little hard to believe that the GOP once tried to start a Civil War because the last president wore a tan suit and didn’t put down his coffee cup to salute a soldier.

More than three years into this abomination immigrants, minorities, the DACA kids, journalists, and anyone who has dared to speak up against Trump have learned the hard way that he is utterly merciless, and terrifyingly vengeful.

“When it first came out it was viewed as being far-fetched. However, when I wrote it I was making sure I wasn’t putting anything into it that humans had not already done somewhere at some time.”

When Kathy Griffin took the publicity photos that wound up derailing her life, upending her career, and costing her hundreds of thousands of dollars, she only meant to comment on Trump’s own nastiness in painting prominent women as ‘bleeding from their eyes, their whatever.”  Little did she know she was about to become the test case for how Trump could effectively and efficiently decimate his enemies.

This is what America has become: a place where in the wake of a single misstep, a single misspoken word, a career can be canceled. It’s now a place where the president of the United States can happily use the full power of his office to destroy an American citizen. Griffin’s booked gigs were all summarily cancelled, she was put on the no-fly list for two months, and remains on the Interpol border check list. Her lawyers confirmed that she was investigated by the Secret Service and the Justice Department. They considered charging her with conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States, the sentence for which is life in prison.

Exhibit A: Halloween Mask and Ketchup

All for the crime of taking a photograph of herself with a mask drenched in ketchup. Which, I may add, she was assured over and over was a perfectly legal act.

Do yourself a favour – take the phrase, “only those that have something to hide, hide something” out of your lexicon. It can and WILL be used against you.

In a recent column, musicologist Bob Lefsetz noted,

“As a Jew you grow up learning about the Holocaust, and you wonder, would you leave? Looks all rosy from the other side, especially if you know history, but are you willing to give up everything, your house, your friends, your money, in order to try and preserve your life? And the emphasis here is on “try.” It’s like a human version of “Let’s Make A Deal.” And I’m asking you, do you feel lucky? I don’t.

Kind of how I used to talk to Republicans. I always tried to see their side, keep it calm, but the funny thing is they never tried to see my side. Oh, they thought they knew it and it was incorrect, so they had no time for it. But in the age of Trump, I don’t suffer them anymore.”

Consider what Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has gone through in the last year, both in the Ukraine, where she was serving, and in the last few months since she testified at the impeachment enquiries. The tales that she told of feeling ‘unsafe’ and of being whisked away in the middle of the night after her manager heard of threats against her seemed unreal, and possibly exaggerated. Since the inquiry, she’s received death threats for telling her truth. 

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

And yet, recent information proves that she was very much in harm’s way, and completely unprotected – indeed, instead, targeted – by emissaries from her own country.

“All the president had to do was say he didn’t want me in the job, and I would have been gone.”

So why was Yovanovitch tormented, and threatened rather than just fired? And why did she ‘have to be’ removed? Sheer sadistic cruelty.

Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart in July 2019 that she was “going to go through some things,” according to a rough White House transcript of the presidents’ conversation — a message Yovanovitch said she found threatening.”

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/16/politics/ukraine-investigation-marie-yovanovitch-surveillance/index.html

One of the little bits of news that flashed by last year without really being noticed was something so petty, and yet so vile, that it was hard to believe it could possibly be true. And yet, there it was.

“Trump’s administration and the Social Security Administration have been working closely together to cut down on the number of false disability insurance claims they believe are being filed. And the Trump administration’s newly proposed plan apparently involves studying the social media accounts of disabled people to make sure they don’t look active.  

Disabilities don’t all manifest the same way and definitely can’t be judged based on pictures posted to social media, a space where people tend to post images reflecting an idealized version of themselves and their lives. It’s cruel–not to mention inevitably ineffective–to essentially tell them they’re being watched to make sure they don’t appear too active, or possibly even too happy.”  (New York Times, April 2019)

Forget about checks and balances – the mad king is hellbent on destroying every last bit of happiness, health, and positivity in America. Just because he can. And keep in mind, we never know who’ll be next to be punished by this monster who demands total respect and loyalty from others, while he is incapable of returning the favour.

I wish I could be more positive about this coming year; I truly do. But I can’t, because history, and a strong sense of self-preservation, tell me that it’s not just Americans that will need to stay on their toes to survive until November 2020, and the election that may or may not succeed in removing this gross abuser of massive power.

Iran could tell you – it is the world that must be on alert.

…………………………………………………………………..

I don’t know Larry Cruse, but this post was brought to my attention a day or two ago, and needs to be read, far and wide.


“When Donald Trump says that he does not know Lev Parnas, I absolutely believe him. You can show me video after video, picture after picture, of the two of them together. You can show me articles like this, showing that Trump sent envoys to ask Parnas for his help. You could show me witness after witness who swears that the two of them were friends. It would not matter. 

When Donald Trump says that he does not know Lev Parnas, I believe absolutely that he does not know him.

Donald Trump is a narcissistic sociopath. His entire circle of friends and confidants consists of exactly one person, himself. He has no affection, no loyalty, no sense of obligation, no sense of friendship, no empathy, no respect, no admiration, no deference, no consideration, for anyone but himself.

Have you not been listening to anything he has ever said!?!?

This is a man who turns in seconds on people who have stood loyally by his side for decades. A man who changes wives like most people change Kleenex. A man who is so distant from his children that he cannot tell the difference between a daughter and a lover, because, frankly, neither a daughter nor a lover would mean anything to him. A man who has never in his life had any interaction with anyone that he did not regard as transactional, and limited to exactly the duration of the transaction. The idea that he would “know” any of the people with whom he has had such relationships is at best absurdly naive

The fact that he does not know Lev Parnas is obvious.

We joke that Trump is all about Trump. We joke at his class-clownish desire to be the center of attention in all things. But, in expecting him to own up to “knowing” Lev Parnas, we demonstrate our own horrifying inability to understand what that means.

Because a man who cannot feel loyalty to a spouse or a child most certainly cannot feel loyalty to a country. A man who has no friends cannot understand the basis for alliance between countries. A man who has no empathy cannot take care of the needs of our citizens. A man who measures every fact in terms of what is in it for himself at that specific moment, cannot serve the needs of anyone else.

A man who very clearly does not know the man who he tasked with destroying other lives lacks any of the emotional makeup that would normally be required of a president. He is, as his critics have said all along, “temperamentally unfit to be president.”

The reign of Donald Trump is not the term of a president. It is a deal, in which he gets to put taxpayer money into his pocket and his base gets a ruler with the power to put immigrants, people of color, and women, back into the subordinate role ordained for them by the Republican god. 

Donald Trump will take everything he can from the deal, and when it is over, or when he gets a better deal, the man who does not know his own children, the man who does not know Michael Cohen, the man who does not know Michael Flynn, the man who does not know Lev Parnas, will not know America either. He will not know his base. He will not know the people who elected him.

The transaction will be over. And the man who does not know, anyone, will have moved on.”

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou

Liar Liar Pants on Fire!


by Roxanne Tellier

When we’re kids, we’re terrible at telling lies. You can spot a kid that’s telling a tall tale a mile away, because they’re just not great at deceiving others.

Deception and lying are all part of a cognitive understanding called a Theory of Mind. That’s the realization that we all have our own knowledge, beliefs and opinions … that development informs us that we all have different minds.

Over time, we learn to tell ‘social’ lies, the fibs that get us through our days. “How are you today?” the cashier asks us, and we cheerily inform her that we’re just fine, despite the screaming headache we’re trying to ignore. Or someone asks if they look good in their new coat, and we tell them they look amazing.

pinochioSalespeople lie a dozen times a day, or if not lie, at least they’ll minimize the defects of an item, and maximize it’s benefits. We lie on our resumes, and on our dating profiles .. at least a titch … and we lie when we want to look smarter or more informed than we really are.

Peer pressure and our need to fit the perceptions and expectations of others drives a lot of the lying. We want to look good to others, and to do so, we often have to ‘enhance’ our reality.

We lie to avoid the consequences of mistakes, we lie to buy time, we lie to spare other people’s feelings. We may be lying for all the right reasons, but we’re still lying.

All of that lying comes at a cost. What we really crave is honesty, or at least the belief that someone is being honest; complete honesty is the access to ultimate power. When we feel that a person is telling us the truth, we hand over our power to their keeping. We believe that they have our best interests at heart, and, in effect, must be better people than we assume ourselves to be.

But trust is a fragile thing. And even if the person who broke that trust tells us with sweet words and warm embraces that our trust was broken for a very good reason … once we no longer trust, we can no longer cling to a faith in the person that has broken the code of truth.

And when you pile lie upon lie upon lie … the very foundations of a relationship proves to be built upon quicksand. Not a great thing if it’s in a romance, but if that relationship is between a nation, and it’s leader, there’s an enormous price to pay, and it’s a dangerous place for a nation – or a planet. Especially a planet where Pinocchio demands absolute fealty, constant attention, and has the codes to a nuclear football.

“On January 20, Trump’s truthful hyperboles will no longer be relegated to the world of deal making or campaigning. Donald Trump will become the chief executive of the most powerful nation in the world, the man charged with representing that nation globally—and, most importantly, telling the story of America back to Americans. He has the megaphone of the White House press office, his popular Twitter account and a loyal new right-wing media army that will not just parrot his version of the truth but actively argue against attempts to knock it down with verifiable facts. Unless Trump dramatically transforms himself, Americans are going to start living in a new reality, one in which their leader is a manifestly unreliable source.” Politico, January 1, 2017.

There’s a crushing irony in Trump, who promised to be the ‘law and order’ president, who has racked up a blinding total of over 6000 lies since taking office, telling Americans and the world that he believes the words of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who denies having been involved in the murder of U.S.-based, Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

don't lie to meBelieves MbS, may I add, over the findings of his own CIA, the actual tape of the screams of the man being murdered, and the fact based reality that nothing happens in the Kingdom of the Saud’s without the leader having full knowledge of all actions taken in his kingdom, and in his name.

I’m sure it’s not only those of us who are parents or grandparents that smelled the aroma of defensive lies well before they were fully baked in Trump’s oven of hypocrisy. He did, after all, begin cooking them up even before the Saudi’s had had a chance to properly season those lies with the blood of their tortured and murdered victim.

Kids lie because they have no power. They lie to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions. But leaders have ALL of the power; if what they are doing or proposing is in the best interest of those they lead, there’s no need to hide their words or deeds. Trump’s deep dish lying is only necessary when there’s double dealing, corruption, and personal greed afoot.

But then again, Trump has a lot of practice in both the telling of, and the swallowing of, lies. He’s essentially based his entire presidency and legacy on a roiling sea of tall tales, myths, innuendo, misrepresentations, denigrations of truths, and lie after lie after lie. And his claims are usually at the expense of those whose sole mission in life is to present truths – be it the CIA, the FBI, or the free press.

He’s denied that Russia had any interest in putting him into office, even as witnesses, texts, and chains of emails come to light proving his collusion. No matter what proof is laid on the table, Trump, that sly dog, manages to twist and turn the truth, until his base can be convinced that there’s no smoking gun of evidence, just a ‘light’ claim of wrong doing that he denied at the time, but that if you look at it from his point of view, was never wrong doing, and even if it was, it wasn’t a crime and certainly not illegal .. and hey presto! There’s your new normal … a candy coated lie that everyone wants under the tree at Christmas.

The Teflon coating of Trump’s America is nothing but a veneer of protective lies. Just ask special counsel Mueller, who’s spent the better part of a year and a half exposing the lies of 45’s cronies, lies that come to them as easily as breathing. Or ask those he’s caught in those lies, those that once swore utter loyalty to the Father of Lies, in exchange for a sniff of power … Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn, to name but a few.

Whether it was lying about the paying off of sex scandals, the fiddling of campaign finances, or Russia’s involvement and meddling into the 2016 election, and whether it was for power, loyalty, or reasons we may never understand, Trump’s ex besties will be paying a steep price for lying to federal authorities.

Yes .. I’m aware that all presidents lie. The difference here, though, is the frequency, and the intent .. Nixon, Reagan, Clinton... no question that they were caught lying, in attempts to protect their reputations.

But Trump seems to lie because he just can’t help himself. There’s no matter so small that he can’t find a lie inside it; during the campaign, PolitiFact found that he lied 70 percent of the time. It’s knee-jerk, it’s just what he does … George Washington could not tell a lie, Trump cannot tell a truth.

(anecdotally, Trump once told his butler, Anthony Senecal, that the tiles in a nursery at MarALago‘s West Palm Beach club had been made by Walt Disney himself. Knowing that was false, Senecal protested. Trump’s response was: “Who cares?”)

He is the Boy that Cried Wolf. Many of us can no longer believe anything he says, ever.

Even the most brilliant human brain can only cope with so much misinformation. For the majority of us, we’re easily overwhelmed with a flood of false statements. Our coping mechanism soon becomes overburdened, and ultimately, we begin to absorb the disinformation as a new reality, no matter how implausible those statements may be.

yes masterAnd Trump is also the master of another form of lying, so insidious that most people don’t even see it coming …he practices ‘illusory truth,‘ … the sheer repetition of the same lie until it begins to register as truth in our minds, and even causes the actual reality and truth to be erased from our memories.

Keep repeating a lie and it begins to seep into our minds as truth. Say it enough, and we’ll no longer be able to recognize truth at all.

Worse still, our efforts to refute those lies only serves to solidify the lies as truths. The brain can’t parse out a phrase like, “it’s not true that all migrants are gangsters.” Instead, it filters out the first part, and seizes upon the second as what is important. Refutations and retractions will do nothing to change judgments and decisions we make based upon false information.

I wish that I could tell you that there is an easy way to change the minds of those who have absorbed this administration’s lies and misinformation and made those deceptions into core beliefs. But I cannot. In point of fact, the processing of all of this false information has physically altered the minds of the ‘true believers’ as surely as those of religious cultists. They literally cannot hear any information that does not correlate to what they have accepted as truth.

The base of Trump’s followers will not willingly drop their acquired values; they are far more likely to double down on their emotional connection to the lies than to hear statements that belie what they have come to consider gospel. Trump’s base will have to be ‘deprogrammed’ by someone able to reshape their minds. We can only hope that whomever comes along to do so, has honorable intentions, and the good of their country top of mind.

 

Addendum:  When I first started writing this column, I came from a very different perspective. By the time I was winding up the piece, I was shaken to my core.

“Lying” sounds like something we have to teach kids not to do; kid stuff, not all that important, a mere peccadillo, as they used to say.  But it’s so much more than that. When the people we are meant to trust … our elected leaders, civic leaders, religious leaders … lie to us to further their own agendas, their words can warp the teachings and beliefs of a lifetime. And that is some scary stuff. Manchurian Candidate stuff.

If you have an interest in the science of lies, please read this article – especially the second half – and be prepared to look at America with an entirely different and more educated eye by the end of the read.

The distressing reality is that our sense of truth is far more fragile than we would like to think it is—especially in the political arena, and especially when that sense of truth is twisted by a figure in power. As the 19th-century Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain put it, “The great master fallacy of the human mind is believing too much.” False beliefs, once established, are incredibly tricky to correct. A leader who lies constantly creates a new landscape, and a citizenry whose sense of reality may end up swaying far more than they think possible. It’s little wonder that authoritarian regimes with sophisticated propaganda operations can warp the worldviews of entire populations. “You are annihilated, exhausted, you can’t control yourself or remember what you said two minutes before. You feel that all is lost,” as one man who had been subject to Mao Zedong’s “reeducation” campaign in China put it to the psychiatrist Robert Lifton. “You accept anything he says.””

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/donald-trump-lies-liar-effect-brain-214658