CNN -- NYT -- HuffP -- NPR -- Politico -- Muchrock -- BBC -- WashT -- Fox -- Reuters -- WaPo

Drinking from a Poisoned Well


Psychological Warfare and 

Anti-PC Fanaticism Are  

A Threat To Peace 


By Steve Rensberry 
Opinion / Analysis
________________

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -  (RP NEWS) - 9/25/2020 - The term political correctness has become thoroughly weaponized in today's socio-political climate. It's a cheap shot meant to tar, knock down, and delegitimize an entire framework of thought and reasoning, but it works.

   Most often it is used as a pejorative term against liberals -- denoting an intolerance toward certain types of speech and offensive behavior -- but a chorus of writers has made the case in recent years that the far bigger and more pervasive threat to the country is right-wing political correctness, also dubbed conservative correctness, or patriotic correctness

It is, as they say, all relative -- especially in terms of linguistics, with the meaning of words dependent almost entirely on the context.

If your world view dominates and is reinforced by social institutions, if your norms and values seem favored in educational, government, and business environments, then to you it is likely going to feel like justified normalcy, something good and right, the way things ought to be, and no more a political matter than the fact that the earth revolves around the sun. If you're the outsider, on the other hand, of course it's going to feel to you like this dominant value system is politically constructed, something false and alien in contrast to your own presumed genuine values. And consequently, the words one uses to describe what's going on are going to reflect that.

Summarizing how those on the right have used the term politically, Moira Weigel writes in a story for The Guardian: “PC was a useful invention for the Republican right because it helped the movement to drive a wedge between working-class people and the Democrats who claimed to speak for them. 'Political correctness' became a term used to drum into the public imagination the idea that there was a deep divide between the 'ordinary people' and the 'liberal elite,' who sought to control the speech and thoughts of regular folk. Opposition to political correctness also became a way to rebrand racism in ways that were politically acceptable in the post-civil-rights era.”

The term has been framed as a contest over civil rights, as a battle between the establishment of social norms, as an exercise in the definition of reality, as a measure of offense sensitivity levels, as a manifestation of cultural Marxism, as Capitalist realism, as a struggle over social framing, and as typical human behavior meant to establish acceptable in-group and out-group behavior.

All of these analyses have some merit, I think. The problem is that the phrase has shifted in meaning over the years, and continues to be used and weaponized in novel ways.

In a piece published in the CS Monitor, Linguist Geoffrey Nunberg claims that the person critical of modern PC culture is largely arguing for a license simply to say whatever they want to say, regardless of the repercussions. “It’s a license to say things that at one time would have branded you as a boor or a bigot. Whenever you’re charged with those things, now you can respond by invoking political correctness. That invests the criticisms with a political meaning, and suggests they’re merely the self-indulgent concerns of an elite that’s out of touch.”

U.S. President George H.W. Bush made an interesting assertion in a 1991 commencement speech he gave in Michigan, tacitly acknowledging the country's long-standing prejudices while joining the trend of anti-PC criticism. "The notion of political correctness has ignited controversy across the land,” Bush said. “And although the movement arises from the laudable desire to sweep away the debris of racism and sexism and hatred, it replaces old prejudice with new ones. It declares certain topics off-limits, certain expression off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits."

There is a deeper story to all this, as you might expect, given a term that has meant different things to different people at different times in history, but three of the most disturbing and recent connections are to William Lind, Theodore Kaczynski (a.k.a. the Unabomber), and to President Donald Trump, all of whom appear to view political correctness solely in terms of a liberal-leftist existential type of threat, and an idea and set of beliefs worthy only of complete destruction.

Lind, a paleoconservative, conspiracy thinker and author, is one of the first to have weaponized the term. Working with others, Lind helped develop the theory of fourth-generation war theory (4GW) in the late 1980s, war which would be fundamentally decentralized and mainly psychological in nature. It's clear from reading Lind's writings that he lives in a conspiratorial world aligned with the alt-right, far-right, and the president's own words, a world where the media have conspired with academia and leftist politicians to destroy traditional culture and traditional orthodox values, and therefore must be destroyed. Lind's work can be found here.

Salon staff writer Chauncey Devega notes: “A sub-component of 4GW is William Lind’s conspiracy theory of the internal war for supremacy between what he called 'cultural Marxists' and their ideology of 'Political Correctness' or 'multiculturalism' and the 'traditional American culture' or 'Judeo-Christian culture.' Lind argued that 'cultural Marxists' hate America’s 'Judeo-Christian culture' and were seeking to destroy it. The losers were to be rich, white, conservative, Christian, heterosexual men.”

Trump's core policies, Devega says, are consistent with Lind's writings from 2005, citing his call for a “Berlin-style wall on the U.S.-Mexican border,” support for the Minutemen militia, and likening Latino and Muslim immigrants to invaders. “Lind’s ideas have circulated throughout the right-wing for just over a decade. Trump is just telling the Republican base what they have already heard or read.”

Say all you want about the idea of 4GW, but one thing that plays heavy is the use of deception and propaganda, enacted through a prolonged conflict involving embedded enemies and a deliberate blurring of the lines between ordinary citizens, activists and combatants.

I would encourage you to read Devega's article in full, given that it was written in 2016 before Trump was first elected, and about as relevant today as it was then. “Trump is reaping what the Christian Right, Fox News, conservative talk radio, Christian radio and television, and the blogosphere has sown,” Devega says.

And that brings us to Kaczynski. It doesn't take long to realize that he was a nut -- a former mathematics professor and certified right wing extremist who railed in a lengthy manifesto against political correctness, cultural relativism, identity politics, class warfare, and leftism in general. Kaczynski, born in 1942, is currently serving eight life sentences without the possibility of parole, incarcerated in the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. 

Kaczynski feared an all-powerful government, hated the modern technological world, and idolized primitive, historical civilizations where people were free from “non-productive” work (meaning work that doesn't contribute to the basic necessities of life). If this brings to mind a life of perpetual slavery with no time to actually live and enjoy the fruits of one's labor, or to create and invent, you can be forgiven. You can also be forgiven if this raises a red flag with respect to actual human history and the brutality and bloodshed that has taken place, not to mention the fact that half the world likely would die if industrial and agricultural-based systems were destroyed.

“A return to primitive society would soon entail a return to primitive, tyrannical forms of governance as a result, not a new age of liberty,” this entry on Wikipedia states.

I know there have been some who have praised Kaczynski's manifesto as ingenious and actually rational, but to me it is nothing but a delusional, conspiratorial, anti-liberal hack job, providing plenty of fodder for both critics and extremists, but not really saying much of anything except to show Kaczynski's incredible ignorance of human history. Although there were early attempts to describe Kaczynski as a left-wing “ecoterrorist,” his manifesto makes it clear what his real target is: leftism and all of the “politically correct” thinking that goes along with it.

Consider this (delusional) excerpt: “Leftism is collectivist; it seeks to bind together the entire world (both nature and the human race) into a unified whole. But this implies management of nature and of human life by organized society, and it requires advanced technology. You can’t have a united world without rapid transportation and communication, you can’t make all people love one another without sophisticated psychological techniques, you can’t have a “planned society” without the necessary technological base. 

After alleging, in so many words, that “leftists” (and only leftists) are ruled by weak emotions and a lust for power, Kaczynski states: “We use the term 'leftism' because we don't know any better words to designate the spectrum of related creeds that includes the feminist, gay rights, political correctness, etc., movements, and because these movement have a strong affinity with the old left.”

Equality is another one of his targets, as well as a target of Lind's and Trump's, suggesting the push for equal opportunity for minorities is merely a political power grab, and a dire threat to the entire country.

Another telling excerpt: “The leftist wants equal opportunities for minorities. When that is attained he insists on statistical equality of achievement by minorities. And as long as anyone harbors in some corner of his mind a negative attitude toward some minority, the leftist has to re-educate him. And ethnic minorities are not enough; no one can be allowed to have a negative attitude toward homosexuals, disabled people, fat people, old people, ugly people, and on and on and on. It’s not enough that the public should be informed about the hazards of smoking; a warning has to be stamped on every package of cigarettes. Then cigarette advertising has to be restricted if not banned.”

Why Kaczynski should be offended having to treat “disabled people, fat people, old people, and ugly people” with respect, and not spit on them or insult them, or to treat other people in society in a humane fashion, says a lot about his level of disdain for other human beings, as well as about his deep-rooted bigotry. He rails against identity politics, but plays the game himself even more intensely. He rails against the left as being totalitarian and petty, but advocates for a system and culture that would turn out to be even more so. He attempts to discredit entire groups and cultures as being a threat to the very existence of the nation and western civilization, but wants to destroy those groups himself in order to dominate and control every aspect of society with his own all-embracing, totalitarian mandates. He paints the left as dehumanizing and violent, then goes on to kill three people and seriously wound 23 others through a terrorizing mail-bombing campaign that lasted from 1978-1995.

Where does Donald Trump and those he surrounds himself with get their ideas? From the very same poisoned well of ideological bigotry and ignorance.

For Further Reading:

A Phrase in Flux: The History of Political Correctness

Anti-PC is 'Political Correctness' for the Right

Right-Wing Political Correctness, Censorship, and Silencing

Political Correctness is Rampant on the Right

Conservative Political Correctness and Colin Kaepernick


COVID-19 Impact

Study: Red States Under More 

Financial Distress Than Blue States


By Steve Rensberry 
RP News
_____________

   EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - (RP NEWS) - 9/17/2020 - Gauging the overall financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Americans across the country has been a difficult but not impossible task. One recent study, by the financial enterprise WalletHub, provides some insight.

Released last week, among the key findings was that people in “Red States” -- defined as those states that voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 -- were suffering more financial distress than those in “Blue States.”

According to Financial Writer Adam McCann, the company used nine key metrics, such as average credit score, change in the number of bankruptcies between January and July, and the percentage of people with “accounts in distress,” which it defined as being either in forbearance or has its payments deferred.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest public health crises the U.S. has ever faced, but it has been almost as devastating to Americans’ finances as it has to their health,” McCann writes. “Between hospital bills and sky-high unemployment, the pandemic has put millions of Americans in financial distress. While the CARES Act helped mitigate some of that damage earlier in the year, the lack of a new bipartisan deal has left many people wondering how they will meet their financial obligations.”


Where Illinois stands in key categories: 
  • Change in Credit Score - August vs. January - 36th
  • Change in the share of people with accounts in distress: Aug vs. Jan. - 7th
  • Change in the Average No. of Accounts in Distress - August vs. January - 15th
  • Change in Number of Bankruptcy Filings - July vs. January - 42nd
  • “Debt” Search Interest Index' Rank - 26th
  • WalletHub “States Where People Need Loans the Most Due to Coronavirus” Score - 20th

Researchers determined the weighted average across each of the metrics to derive an overall score for each state, with the smaller the number, the more financially distressed people were in that state. Data sources included the American Bankruptcy Institute, Google Trends, and WalletHub data.

To view the full report and metrics for each state, see: Financial Distress Study

Election 2020

Conventions Reveal Stark

Difference Between 

Candidates, Parties

Voters Asked To Choose Between Competition Visions

 
By James Grandone 
Commentary
______________ 

   There is a difference between political parties and if you think there is not, you have not been paying attention.

Jim Grandone

    We once had a two-party system in the U.S.A. I know because I studied it at the University of Illinois Springfield where I graduated with a B.A. in political science. Grand theories were expounded about how people chose one party or the other. It was, however, fairly predictable how the result of one or the other party would govern, but both were moderately liberal or conservative. Until Reagan, that is. Reagan said government is the problem and from then on, one party ran against government and its regulations on business and perceived assaults on personal freedom.

   In August, we had two political party conventions, or rather one political party convention and a four-day Trump rally. The Democrats adopted a party platform, while the Republicans adopted an oath of loyalty to Trump. A party platform is designed to tell voters how a party plans to govern for the next four years.

   The Democrats adopted a 92-page comprehensive document that addresses healthcare, climate change, racial injustice and falls short of endorsing the Green New Deal and Medicare for all.

   The Republicans adopted a one-page resolution. The Trump campaign announced a 50-bullet-point document titled “Fighting for You.” As part of the pledges in the document, the campaign included holding China accountable for allowing the novel coronavirus to spread around the world, a manned mission to Mars and “Getting Allies to Pay their Fair Share.”

   The contrast is stark. Democrats are looking to a future of ideas that will improve individual lives while Republicans are recycling their 2016 platform.

   But the most important change is that the Republican Party is now the Trump Party. It stands for whatever the president says it does. This is not a positive development for the republic or the Republican Party. It is the stuff of “Cult of Personality,” not representative democracy.


Trump has shown himself to be light on intellectual discourse and heavy on impulse. It is an authoritarian style of governance that he has exhibited and the GOP has adopted whole.

   In contrast, the Democratic Party has taken on the difficult issues that affect working men and women. Issues like the minimum wage increase, healthcare access and the environment. Broad initiatives that represent real ideas. As President Kennedy said 60 years ago, Democrats are choosing to do these things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard …”

   We see in the Democratic Platform a road map for the next four years in terms of domestic policy and international relations. It is a contract between a party and a people, rather than a resolution to support the policies of one man, whatever he chooses them to be at the moment.

   America has suffered in its reputation internationally because we are not perceived as dependable by our allies and our adversaries. This presidency has alienated our allies around the world and our global leadership has been lost because of it. Domestically, we have suffered not only because COVID-19 has ravaged our people but because it could have turned out differently with better leadership. The same is true with racial injustice and the immigrant situation on the southern border.

   So, it is clear that one party wants to forge ahead into the future with a plan that is transparent and clearly understandable, while another party is comfortable with government by impulse with no clear idea of what it stands for.

   This year, we are being asked to decide between those conflicting visions. Choose wisely.

Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.


Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the Edwardsville Intelligencer
Posted on RP News, Sept 15, 2020

Voting Rights

 ACLU Releases Extensive 

'Let People Vote' Online Tool

Campaign Aims to Empower Voters, Vote-By-Mail Option



   WASHINGTON - (ACLU) - 9/14/2020 - With less than 50 days until Election Day, the American Civil Liberties Union has launched “Let People Vote,” a campaign encouraging voters to make a plan to vote and empowering them to vote by mail. The new educational tool features states’ access to vote by mail and other helpful information on how to exercise the right to vote this election. The organization will be asking its more than 1.8 million members to pledge to vote, which has proven to increase voter turnout.

   The tool will be amplified through a six-figure digital ad spend, an expansive email and text program, and beyond the ACLU’s network through its artists and celebrity partners with weekly content through Election Day. The organization’s corporate partners — including Levi’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Everlane, Snap, NorthFace, Outdoor Voices, Seventh Generation, Lush, COS, Madewell, and Twitter, among others — will educate their customers, followers, employees, and the general public by sharing the tool in a concerted push. The ACLU will also release voting-themed face masks and “At The Polls,” a weekly mini-series podcast on the top questions regarding the 2020 election, including what election night will look like and the state of the USPS.

   In Michigan, the ACLU will launch a Get Out the Vote campaign to build on the success of last cycle’s Proposition 3 Promote the Vote ballot initiative, which brought automatic and same day voter registration to the state, by ensuring newly registered voters — particularly Black Michiganders, young people, and populations most impacted by the ballot measure — are educated on their rights and options. The organization will run a parallel GOTV campaign in Wisconsin.

   In addition to public education efforts, the ACLU has filed over 20 lawsuits and counting – in Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio (twice), Pennsylvania (twice), Puerto Rico (twice), Rhode Island (twice) South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and – to ensure safe access to the ballot in November. The ACLU has also run advocacy campaigns in Delaware, Iowa, Nevada, Florida, and Georgia to encourage elected officials to expand access to vote by mail, drop boxes, and early vote.

   “In an unprecedented election year, rife with misinformation flowing from the highest levels, voters must be educated on how, where, and when they can vote, and how to advocate for their constitutional right to cast a ballot when obstacles are thrown in their way. As politicians play politics with peoples’ lives instead of enacting common sense measures — including expanded early voting periods and universal access to vote by mail — the ACLU has been at the front lines to protect and expand the right to vote for all eligible voters. We’re calling on voters to make a plan, request their ballot where they can, and to encourage their friends to do the same, said Rebecca Lowell Edwards, chief communications officer for the ACLU.

   See: ACLU Campaign

Voter Information

Election Nears For Voters In

Madison, St. Clair Counties

Voting and Registration Information for Metro East Residents


Steve Rensberry 
RP News
_________

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - (RP NEWS) - 9/11/2020 - Voters and residents in Madison and St. Clair counties have but a few short weeks to decide how they are going to vote in the Nov. 3, 2020, General Election.

Madison Co. Vote Trends: 1968-2016
   Turnout is expected to be high, and concerns about the spread of COVID-19 have prompted both local and state officials to urge people to utilize vote-by-mail options if they have any concerns at all.

In general, early voting period runs in Illinois from Sept. 24 - Nov. 2, however dates can vary per county, as they do in Madison and St. Clair. If you are unsure of your registration status or where to vote, the Illinois State Board of Elections has a polling place locator available here: Polling Place Locator

Individuals can register in the state year-round, except during the 27-day period immediately preceding an election, the 2 days after an election, and 16 days prior to the electon if they are registering online. Grace period registration and voting is available in-person at county clerk's offices within that period.

Here are the details for Madison and St. Clair counties.


Madison County

In-office voting at the Madison County Clerk's office in Edwardsville will begin for voters in Madison County on Sept. 24, along with the official vote-by-mail period.

A screenshot of voting machines in Madison Co.

   People who requested a ballot by mail should receive their ballot in the mail between Sept. 24 and Oct. 29, the county states, depending on when the request was received. People can request to vote by mail up until Oct. 29.

If you have yet to register to vote, Oct. 6 will be your last official day to do so online or at any place other than the Madison County Clerk's office, where you will be able to vote during grace period registration from Oct. 7 through Nov. 2. Voters must register and cast their vote immediately afterwards.

Polls will be open on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, from 6 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Information on where to vote is printed on a voter's registration card, which should include a list of taxing districts in your area as well as the designated polling station, township, and precinct number.

Early voting in person aside form the clerk's office will be available between 15 days and the 2nd day before the election, with the county setting Oct. 19 as the start. Available locations are listed here: Early voting locations

Residents can check their voter information status and polling location here: Voter Information

The Madison County Administration Building and clerk's office is located at 157 N. Main Street, 1st Floor, in Edwardsville, Ill.


St. Clair County

To register to vote in St. Clair County, people can visit the St. Clair County Clerk's Office throughout the year from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Election-related questions can be sent by email to elections@co.st-clair.il.us, or people can call 618-825-2366.

The St. Clair Co. Admin. Bld (RP News Photo)
   Residents may request a mail-in ballot, download a registration application, or make an address change online through the county's Elections Division

Applications must be received by the Madison County Clerk's office no later than 28 days before the election.

As noted on the county's website: Ballots will be mailed to applicants beginning Sept. 24, which is also the first day of early voting. The deadline for applying for a mail ballot is 5 p.m., Oct. 29. After Oct. 29, voters can still receive a mail ballot by applying in person at the County Clerk’s Office, St. Clair County Courthouse, #10 Public Square, 2nd Floor, Belleville, IL 62220. Ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3 to be accepted, and properly postmarked ballots will be accepted through Nov. 17.”

St. Clair County lists Oct. 7 the start of in-person early voting, at the St. Clair County Clerk's Office, 10 Public Square, 2nd Floor, Belleville, Ill.


Election 2020


Battleground States Will

Likely Tip the Scales


By Steve Rensberry
RP News
__________

EDWARDSVILLE - (RP NEWS) - 9/8/2020 - The infographic above, produced by statista, shows the U.S electoral map and the number of Democrat/Republican wins per state over the last decade. As noted by data journalist Felix Richter, as of Aug. 26 national polls showed the current president trailing challenger Joe Biden.

Things change fast, however, and Richter cautions against relying on poll results, as many analysts do. “As we've learned in 2016, polls only go so far in predicting the outcome of the election, and in the end, it will likely come down to who comes out victorious in a few battleground states,” Richter states. “Back in 2016, Donald Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, but narrow wins in several swing states were enough to tip the election in his favor and win the presidency.”

Electoral map data indicates that Republican presidential candidates have won 13 states in each presidential election in the past 10 years, compared to only two that have been won by Democrats in that time, Richter notes.

The average of 10 national polls, reported by 270towin as of Sept. 6, 2020, showed Biden with 50 percent voter support to 42 percent for Trump. In the battleground state of Wisconsin, the latest poll showed Biden at 50 percent and Trump with 43 percent.

Policing in America


Police Killing of Deon Kay

Called Symptom of Deeper Problems

 

By Steve Rensberry
RP News
__________

WASHINGTON - (RP News) - 9/5/2020 — The Metropolitan Police Department in Southeast D.C. released the body-worn camera footage of the police shooting and death of Deon Kay on Sept. 2, an incident currently under investigation by the Office of the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney's Office

According to a news release from the American Civil Liberties Union, the footage shows an officer running out of his car and firing his gun in a matter of seconds to end the life of a teenager who was running away from police. The officer made no attempt to de-escalate, there was no warning or directive given to Kay to drop a weapon — a weapon that Kay appears to have thrown in the air and which was recovered almost 100 feet from his body.

Monica Hopkins, executive director, ACLU of the District of Columbia, called it a logical conclusion given the department's long-standing policies.

“The D.C. police department’s approach to gun recovery has been dangerous and ineffective for years. The tragic shooting and death of 18-year-old Deon Kay is the logical conclusion of a policy that not only meets violence with violence, but actually escalates and incites it — especially in our Black communities. In addition to being unsuccessful in reducing gun violence in the District, the Metropolitan Police Department’s tactics ignore the complexities of why young people like Deon may have guns to begin with,” Hopkins stated. “The time is overdue for D.C. to overhaul its approach to ending gun violence and focus on non-police solutions that address the underlying roots of community violence instead of continuing aggressive police tactics that lead to more fear in communities, more shootings by police, more death, and more family and community trauma.”

ACLU National Policing Policy Advisor Paige Fernandez cited the fact that the shooting occurred less than two weeks after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., and the enormous budget the police department in D.C. operates under.

“The D.C. Police Department has a collective budget of over $600 million dollars per year and its over-policing of black communities has resulted in one of the highest racial disparities in police killings in the country,” Fernandez said.

It was announced on Sept. 4 that an emergency meeting had been held following the release of body camera video, with D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham giving a briefing. He was asked by those present why other camera footage taken at the shooting had not been made public.

Newsome cited existing law and the ongoing nature of the investigation. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser deferred to the ongoing investigation See: Emergency meeting held over policing practices following Deon Kay shooting.