My America

For The New GOP It’s All About Repeating Simple Lies

In his latest book, retired United States Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn,* includes the following quote from Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

Flynn then tells a big lie hoping readers will believe it.

The Citizen’s Guide to Fifth Generation Warfare, Session 1: Introduction to 5GW published December 2022, is an important piece of propaganda to examine. In the small book — 6-inch by 6-inch format, 182 pages –is warning everyone who will listen of the inevitable impending doom awaiting our country.

Fortunately, though, like a televangelist preacher who can assure you a spot in heaven with a $25 monthly donation — and for an additional $5 upgrade your heavenly palace for all of eternity — Flynn knows the truth and for less than $30 he will share it. Well, at least the First Session in his all you will need to know survival series.

Despite my obvious disdain for televangelists and Flynn, the book is worth a read especially for progressives and liberals. The book is a concise look at the propaganda being pushed and mainstreamed by the far-Right. And it is written in a way so the reader understands that even though their ‘neighbor isn’t the enemy,’ they also know that, if that neighbor is a liberal or progressive, they are, in fact, the enemy,

As far as propaganda techniques the book uses, it is the same approach used, on social media, by radicalized GOP elected officials. The book is written in a social media format — condensing complex issues down to mere paragraphs as the reader is expected to trust Flynn’s so-called expertise. But every chapter, every paragraph lands in the same place: the Left is destroying the country and the solution is to implement seven key policies. These are: parental rights, border security, election integrity, medical freedom, religious freedom, defund UniParty members and remove them with a fair election.

Of course, what the far-Right is advocating is: the destruction and privatization of public education, demonization of asylum seekers, disenfranchising voters, destruction of community, legalized attacks on the LGBQT+ community, and using a made-up term to push a narrative that both parties are the same and that only the fringe elements (think Freedom Caucus) are true Patriots.

Flynn’s strategy is admittedly effective because he has reduced seven complex issues down to sound bites — slogans that can be pushed, and amplified, on social media.

The strategy, though, is just a modernization of movements like the John Birch Society, McCarthyism, and the antisemitic American First movement from the WWII era. Just like those movements taught followers to fear, and hate, the Deep State actors and the shadowy government working to destroy their freedom as these entities work tirelessly to adopt that (ever popular with CTs) globalist agenda, so does Flynn. The only way to avoid this is, as Flynn and these groups teach, is to listen to them because they are true Patriots with the inside scoop.

He Gave Up Everything For You!

After giving the reader a list of terms and definitions to understand, in Chapter 1, Flynn jumps right into the battle for the American mind in Chapter 2. He writes:

“The primary goal is to control people indirectly, since indirect control reduces the chance of rebellion against the controlling group or individual. Overtness exposes the manipulator. Instead, the goal is to control conditions insidiously and use psychologically effective messaging to frame the perspective of the situation. This in turn manipulates the attitudes of the populace and consequently influences their behavior at will.”

Flynn also reminds reader that the Deep State persecuted former president Donald J. Trump (a man who was also highly skilled in peddling conspiracies). This persecution lie is still perpetuated by members of the new GOP who view Trump as a Messiah figure.

And, in this regard, Flynn is just reemphasizing a piece of propaganda currently posted on the JBS website. They write,

“When President Trump was first elected, he sent shock waves through the globalist community that Americanism, not globalism, is our credo. Yet, those in the Deep State continue to do whatever they can to block “America First”. America is once again in need of its patriots to help protect freedom and sovereignty. May we count on your help?”

Repackaging Old Ideas

The core message of the book is simple. Secret powerful individuals are moving the country toward the Great Reset. Flynn describes the Great Reset as a 2-step revolution. The country will transition from capitalism to socialism then from socialism to communism. The idea, birthed in the early 1900s, amplified during the Cold War, remains a favorite of far-Right politicians because of its appeal to those individuals who see a demon lurking inside every moment of progress,

Even though hardworking Americans** will undoubtedly plop down the $30 for the book, they could save some cash and purchase a used copy of None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen, another American who had the inside scoop on the truth. In his 1972 work, Allen writes,

Why are the super-rich for socialism? Don’t they have the most to lose?…The idea that socialism is a share-the-wealth program is strictly a confidence game to get the people to surrender their freedom to an all-powerful collectivist government. While the insiders tell us we are building a paradise on earth, we are actually constructing a jail for ourselves.”

And The Answer Is …

Allen’s book sold a respectable four million copies in 1972 so there has the market appeal is not new, but where Flynn’s work differs from Allen’s is in its approach. Both books are written in the mass publication techniques of their time. This means Flynn’s book uses smaller content blocks of content, adapting for the shorter attention span of American readers.

However, Flynn deviates from a straightforward rehashing of these conspiracy theories by incorporating a homework section at the end of each of the nine chapters. This approach, for me, is reminiscent of the fundamental Christian Bible study books I received during my youth. Flynn’s questions (just like the ones in those Bible lessons) are worded in a manner that the only possible answer is the one Flynn supplies. This abandonment of critical thinking will, to a serious reader, undercuts the book’s legitimacy.

*Flynn co-authors this book with Boone Cutler, SGT, U.S. Army (retired)

**Of course, hardworking Americans who know their country’s history will save their money. They already know that no far-Right political movement in the U.S. has done anything to improve a worker’s life. Every right, or benefit, American workers enjoy — from those standardized 8-hour workdays, overtime pay or even the elimination of kids being permitted to mine coal — were the direct result of liberal and/or progressive movements.

Note: For those who choose to read the book, it is, in essence, a concise cheat sheet of the lies being pushed by the new GOP.

Categories: My America

‘Recovery Boys’ Another Great Documentary On Opioid Crisis

When I watched the parade scene in ‘Recovery Boys’ a Netflix original documentary created by the producer of Heroin(e), I felt like I was watching a parade in my hometown. The backdrop of the empty, gutted downtown looked eerily similar in concept.

But, in Preble County, an apparent change in the heroin supply, dropped the number of overdoses calls in Eaton, Ohio from about 10 per month in 2017 to about two per month this. Aggressive policing and court-mandated Vivitrol shots, also appears to have altered heroin use in the county — by driving the chemically addicted to using meth. According to an article in Saturday’s The Register-Herald, the executive director of our mental health and recovery board said,

“In the state of Ohio, Preble County is number one in meth use.”

Ohio has 88 counties, and with 40,000 or so residents, we are a small county.

What Can You Do?

As I interact with various locals on social media, though, there does not appear to be a resolve to solve the issue, rather more of a ‘let the professionals figure it out’ approach.

That is what is refreshing about Recovery Boys. The film is set in nearby West Virginia, and it chronicles the life of four men who are struggling with heroin addiction. All four have entered a rehab facility that is the brainchild of a man whose son is a recovering addict. Rather than resign the issue to the professionals — although he is trained in substance abuse treatment — the father decide to go his own way and create a unique approach to treatment.

What unfolds in a farm-based treatment center where the chemically-addicted work the farm in addition to the ‘inner work’ that recovery requires.

I won’t reveal how each of the four men did, but obviously with a chemical as intense and as addicting as heroin, it’s not always a win-win story. But, the producer does an excellent job presenting the humanity of these men — men who are often reduced to stereotypes in my county.

A minor, albeit troubling, subplot that unfolds in the story is the reality that the children, especially young ones, are extremely vulnerable in our country. One of the men lost custody of his two young girls (less than five years old), and one of his girls is molested by a foster parent. This is one of the side issues that gets buried in our culture’s ‘disgust with druggies.’ Their children often pay a high price, especially in small counties where adequate oversight does not exist.

The movies moves at an appropriate pace and it will make you think — and hopefully it will help the apathetic or the ‘they made their choice’ crowd, better understand the disease of addiction, so small communities like mine can shed titles like ‘meth capital.’

Rated 5 out of 5.

Categories: 8th congressional district, drug use, movies, My America | Tags: ,

‘The Righteous Mind’ Seeks To Explain What Divides Us

I have spent much of this year researching poverty while continuing to read politics, especially with regards to why, as a nation we have proven incompetent in solving poverty. Some of these books are academic in nature so I do not review them.

But, I took a break from that subject to ‘get some fresh air’ and one of the books I recently read, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion by Jonathan Haidt is about moral reasoning.

It is a very applicable in the current era.

The book is divided into three sections with a central metaphors for each:

  • The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant.
  • The righteous mind is like a tongue with six taste receptors
  • We are 90 percent Chimp and 10 Percent Bee

The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider’s job is to serve the elephant.

In this section, Haidt lays the foundation of his argument relying on various academic studies and theories of ‘where morality comes from.’ But he also deals with the concept of disgust and disrespect — giving some very — at least for me — off-putting examples. By doing this, though, he drives home his point, which is:

“People some times have gut feelings — particularly about disgust and disrespect — that can drive their reasoning. Moral reasoning is sometimes a post hoc fabrication.”

He also explains why he comes to reject a common theory that “morality is self-constructed by children on the basis of their experience with harm.”

What I found most interesting in this section is he offers real examples of study participants trying to justify their moral reasoning. In these cases, the participant was intentionally given situations designed to trigger a disgust or disrespect response.

It is in this section, that he drives home the reality that ‘intuition comes first, strategic reasoning second.’

The righteous mind is like a tongue with six taste receptors

So, the first section lays the groundwork. It is filled with plenty of theory balanced by real-life comments by individuals forced into moral dumbfounding (where they ‘know’ something is wrong, but cannot ‘justify’ their position). In the second section he explains the five foundations of moral reasoning — that everyone uses. This is also where he begins to explain the divide between conservatives and liberals because of these foundations. They are:

  • Care/harm
  • Fairness/cheating
  • Loyalty/betrayal
  • Authority/subversion
  • Sanctity/degradation

Conservatives and liberals give different ‘weight’ to each of the five foundations. Once you realize this, you can easily see on social media, what ‘triggers’ a person. For example, as a liberal, I put less weight on the authority/subversion foundation which can create an issue on social media when I, for example, post something that ‘demeans’ a person in authority. Conservatives often find this disrespectful. Conversely, when conservatives show a lack of concern, for example, of the children’s fate in the Border Crisis, it can trigger a liberal because of their foundation of care/harm.

We are 90 percent Chimp and 10 Percent Bee

In the final section Haidt ties all his theories together using the chimp and bee as metaphors. The chimp, which studies have shown, does not work cooperatively is paired with the (worker) bee, who abandons all sense of individuality for the good of the hive. It is in this section where he also tackles more of the religious aspect of the book. In one study, he explains, that many of the religious ‘do good’ not so much because of their religious beliefs, but because of their bonding with fellow members — similar to the way combat soldiers don’t fight for the country as much as they fight for each other — due to the bond that has developed.

It is the first book on moral reasoning I have read, and I found it quite intriguing. Now, when I discuss things on social media, I am more interested in why a person reasons the way they do — as opposed to their ‘final decision.’ For me, the book has made it easier to discuss, and/or dismiss, a viewpoint — and to decide who to engage in longer conversations with — and who to move on from because they are engaging in the fallacy of deciding first, justifying later.

Rating 5 out of 5.

Even though this is a ‘deep book’ with lots of theory, studies and quotes from philosophers, it is written in a ‘down-to-earth’ manner. I will warn you — as does the author — some of the passages designed to trigger disgust/disrespect will trigger it. If you are truly interested, though, in why we are so severely divided, this book does offer insight.

I was first introduced to the author’s work when I read The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Truth which is another excellent read.

Categories: My America