Under legal pressure to address Wisconsin’s “Swiss cheese” and oddly shaped districts, the Legislature approved redrawn maps that promise to create a new dynamic in a state known for its pivotal role in national politics.
#BlackMastodon #BlackTwitter #Politics #FaniWillis @blackmastodon
So while I was up in Canada scouting out safe places to whisk my family to in case white people start acting up again this fall, I missed Fani Willis testifying. A friend sent me a link to the full testimony while I was in the airport Sunday. Just watched it last night...so I am compelled to point out...again...the hypocrisy of white America and how they still don't know a damn thing about how black folks live. A thread...1/5
A survey of historians and presidential experts ranks President Biden in 14th place all-time, just ahead of Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan. Former President Donald Trump came in last.
Lower courts have said it's unconstitutional to punish people for sleeping outside if no shelter is available. Cities say these rulings have paralyzed their efforts to manage growing tent encampments.
I wake up every morning with anxiety and exhaustion. The combination is nearly debilitating some mornings. I think about the natural world struggling to survive air pollution, plastic pollution, soil depletion, pollutant runoff into our waterways and oceans, the whirl of climate collapse as we see it happening around the world. I see the monetization of every action, every thought, every need, the politicization of every organizational structure, every dream, every cause. I see the exploitation of those that struggle to survive, pushing labour onto others, the force of power structures to rule our lives as burn-out overtakes us. I see and acknowledge others with a much heavier load of racism, bigotry and marginalization than I have dealing with all of this in addition. And I see many that are giving up, on the brink of ending their existence, or mentally and emotionally checking out. The exhaustion is across the board, putting one foot in front of the other is too high a mountain to climb.
If I... we... all of us give up and give in to this upside down world, who will be there for the littles? My 3 year old grandson that looks up at the world with hope, trust and innocence expects me to be there for him. And I am, and I will be. My animals trust that I will love and feed them and I will. This small plot of land I live on Turns the Wheel with me or without me. It will face whatever the future throws at it and it will adapt, grow when it can, rest when it must, and always strive for abundance. It's the least I can do to match the effort of the land while being a part of it, the planet and the universe.
Some day all the systems of greed will destroy themselves, and many of us with it. But we don't have to go resignedly or without a fight. We can Turn our own Wheel, be the Gods and Goddesses that we were born to be. We can use every resource, every source of knowledge, every act of will, and every force of love to continue on through the exhaustion and despair. This life, this land, this Earth is magic and we are a part of it, now and forever. Sometimes I forget, and then I remember.
🆕 blog! “Minority Governments and the Boundary Commission”
The UK is almost certain to have a General Election this year1. The Boundary Commission for England2 has reworked the existing Parliamentary constituencies to make them more fair3. As such, constituencies are generally more equal in terms of electorate. But, of course, geography trumps g…
Greg Abbott’s new “Forward Operating Base”—which will cost $14 million a month to run—is a clear sign that his #border operation isn’t going away any time soon.
A new report from Senior #Politics Writer Justin Miller: https://www.texasobserver.org/abbott-border-military-base-millions?utm_campaign=mastodon
"Three Comforting Lies Democrats Need to Stop Telling Themselves About November"
"Let’s start with strategists saying Biden’s polls are nothing to worry about."
David Axelrod, Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, Jon Stewart among those questioning whether Biden is fit to run for a second term. Will Democrats act or stick with Biden and make it far easier than it should be for Trump to win in November?
superbowl jesus ad, part 5: the triptych
Welcome to Part 5 of a series of posts focusing on the fundamentalist propaganda “He Gets Us” Superbowl ad of 2024.
I strongly recommend you read at least the first section of Part 1 before proceeding, if you have not already done so. It defines a variety of critically important terms, outlines the overarching purpose of this entire series of ads – this billion-with-a-B propaganda campaign – and the relevant religious-political beliefs of those who designed it.
If I could summarise Part 1’s first section in a paragraph, believe me – I would. I have tried, without success. That’s why I point people back to it, because to echo Dickens – without that knowledge, little of what follows will have full meaning for you.
The next three images comprise what I think of as the Intentional Racism Triptych.
On our left panel, we have slide seven. It features one of the least obviously AI manipulated or re-drawn images of the entire selection. It shows an idealised, even nostalgically-rendered oil field with a small number of scattered derricks, with no fracking equipment visible. The field itself is semi-arid to arid, with a mix of brush, tumbleweed, and other similar low scrub plants scattered about. In the distance lie tall hills, somewhere between what I’d call mountains and foothills, without snow. Above that, we have a very blue sky with a smattering of clouds.
In the middle distance sits the a car, the driver’s door open. Strangely in this context, it is a car and not a truck, a four-door sedan/saloon car out of the 1980s, evocative of an early-80s SAAB 900 but with internally inconsistent headrests. (I see you there, AI image generator. Hello!)
In the foreground, in the middle of a dirt road which looks very much like a thin-layer-of-sandy-dirt soundstage, our Saviour – the man who has already found Jesus, an older white man who is an oil field worker – washes the feet of our Sinner, a young Asian woman who is dressed mostly like a hippie in flowing patterned silks and bikini top, albeit more of a 90s hippie revival variant than the original. To her side lies a protest sign reading “CLEAN AIR NOW.”
This Saviour was brought to you by Exxon-Mobil, apparently. He’s where he’s supposed to be, doing “Real Man” work, in a “Real Man” place, bringing oil out of the ground for capitalism. The oil field is pristine, and there’s not a hint of pollution…
…which brings us to the sins of our Sinner. She’s dressed inappropriately for the location, and immodestly on top of that. She’s somewhere she shouldn’t be – and being Asian, that’s not limited to “a protestor in an oil field.” And on top of everything else: she’s a liar.
The air is visibly pristine. Her call for “CLEAN AIR NOW” is therefore a lie, a demand for something she already has – and is therefore an excuse to shut down oil production and hurt the “real man” doing the “real work” and the economy.
I know, I know, as I said, they have their own definitions of truth, and don’t care if something’s an objective lie – but that’s only for them. Definitionally, she’s not one of them, so if they can call her a liar, they will.
She might even be a Chinese communist, since – as goes without saying in their community – all environmentalists are lying communists anyway, and Chinese people are always suspect. Making her ambiguously east Asian – one might say “Chinese enough” – just adds the spice of fashionable racism to the recipe.
“Have you ever been a member of the Chinese Communist Party?”
Now, because the most important image of a triptych is always the one in the centre, let’s skip ahead to the right image first: slide nine.
This image shows a quiet evening scene in a suburban neighbourhood built… it’s hard to say, but I’d guess as early as the late 1910s, and the early 1950s. As always, in the nostalgic and “better” past.
We see two houses, separated by a single narrow driveway, both with established greenery and lush lawns. Two mixed-gender couples are arranged in front of the right house, one on the left side of the frame, and one on the right.
The left couple is clearly Muslim. The hijab-wearing woman – our Sinner – is sitting in an old woven-ribbon-style folding lawn chair, her feet being washed, as the man stands attentively behind her.
The right couple’s man is white, intended to be sitting on some sort of gardening chair, but it’s an AI mess and doesn’t work right but that doesn’t matter. He holds a green apple with a bite taken out of it, which in this context has to be symbolic of something, but the obvious meanings don’t make a lot of sense in this context. His eyes are closed, which also seems to me like it has to mean something, but I’m honestly not getting it.
The woman – our Saviour – is just ambiguous enough to be white, or not, depending upon the viewer. The way she’s rendered, she’s got that Kinda Ethnic vibe that they like when they want not to use a white person but don’t want to make it clearly someone not white either. She’s not wearing a head covering of any kind, obviously, but could be a convert from Islam who married a white man. That would make her okay, fit to lead our Sinner out of her sin – which is, of course, being a Muslim and holding Islamic faith.
While religious conversion isn’t intrinsically racist, in this case, it obviously totally is. See everything from “Jews for Jesus” to the “Muslim Ban” that Trump is pledging to reinstate.
Finally, we move to our centre image, slide eight – by far the most overtly racist image of the set. I want to make that very clear, as I will be describing the intended racist message in explicit terms. That description of their message is fucking well not an endorsement of that message.
Read on only if you understand that last paragraph, because this one’s bad.
In this image, the thin veneer that is the top-level message of compassion, equality before god, and reconciliation has been ripped away; this particular slide is propaganda against refugees and asylum seekers from the south.
Our scene shows a bus full of people unloading passengers on a Chicago upper-middle-class white-picket-fence residential street in the very late evening. It’s essentially one of the Republican “migrant buses,” the kind DeSantis and Abbot have been using to send asylum seekers away from services to a blue state without coordination, notice, or compassion, often in the winter. This exportation of people – arguably kidnapping – serves a variety of purposes which have been discussed elsewhere. The driver is Christian – it’s not ambiguous, there’s a cross hanging above him – and unhappy.
In most of these images, the “saviour” and the “sinner” are on similar levels, physically. Often one is sitting and the other is kneeling on the ground, but there’s interaction to it, an acknowledgement of each other. They’re communicating, sometimes quite clearly. It’s part of the top-level intended message of reconciliation.
Not here, though.
I want to stress, this next sentence is how they know this will be read by their own people:
Here you have the angry dirty brown illegal Sinner carrying her anchor baby at full height, looking away, with a mixture of anger and fear, while the white Saviour woman kneels on the ground, looking down, washing the Sinner’s feet. There is no sense of communication between them; our Sinner is ungrateful and unreceptive. Our Savour, the white Christian, is looking down, tense and unhappy, at clean water turning a dark, filthy brown as it washes from the Sinner’s foot back into the basin.
Please understand – the washing water is clear and clean in every other image where it is visible, no matter how dirty the feet are; after all, it represents in part the forgiveness of Jesus, so stays forever whole.
But not here.
That difference means it’s not the dirt on her feet spoiling the water: it’s her, herself, spoiling the water – the water of God’s forgiveness.
One might even say it’s meant to show a kind of poisoning of the water, instead of the blood.
This image is out-and-out racist hate propaganda, pretending – just barely – to be merely one more variation on the theme. Our Sinner’s sin is being here at all and not white, and she is not worthy of redemption.
Even the gay man in image twelve is treated better than this, and believe me, I still have things to say about that image.
I don’t know if I have any Christian followers reading this, but… this is… serious business blasphemy, right? Top level scream-it-to-the-heavens blasphemy against the core message of Jesus. Isn’t it?
You might want to consider yelling about that.
The plot thickens …
“Martine Moïse: Wife of Haiti's murdered president charged over his killing
A judge in Haiti has charged the widow of murdered President Jovenel #Moïse in connection with the assassination of the former leader on 7 July 2021. According to a legal document leaked by a Haitian news site, she is accused of "complicity and criminal association".” #Haiti #politics #Caribbean #conspiracy
President Biden may owe his place in the top third to his predecessor: Mr. Biden’s signature accomplishment, according to the historians, was evicting Donald J. Trump from the Oval Office.
In 2019, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned Michael Cohen about Donald Trump. Cohen's answers eventually led to Letitia James's fraud lawsuit.
I finally realized Pierre Poilievre's true identity.
Have a read here:
Modest Child Tax Credit Expansion Languishes in the U.S. Senate Awaiting a Vote - You can thank Idaho Senator Crapo for this. https://janresseger.wordpress.com/2024/02/20/modest-child-tax-credit-expansion-languishes-in-the-u-s-senate-awaiting-a-vote/ via @janresseger #politics
Republicans control the Legislature but approved the new lines to avoid a court fight.
🧠 Democrats Have Been Panicking Over Biden’s Age for Years
"Russian pilot who defected found dead in Spain, says Ukraine security agency"
Judge Engoron just handed Trump 355 million reminders that he is not, in fact, above our great city's laws.
Wow! #Pelosi! Obviously success in #USpol & #politics in general is directly correlated to being able to look at someone and lie with a straight face. Besides the lying, there’s a lot of avoiding the interviewer’s questions. (I watched the first 8 or 9 minutes of the video. That was enough.)
#Gaza #genocide #CeasefireNow
Pelosi says U.S. weapons not connected to recent Israeli brutality – Mondoweiss https://mondoweiss.net/2024/02/nancy-pelosi-claims-no-u-s-weapons-have-been-used-to-carry-out-israeli-atrocities-in-gaza/
From last week: White supremacist Active Clubs “are increasingly organized and resourced and could pose even greater threats to public safety and community wellbeing in the immediate future.”
Working with @Bellingcat, we exposed the leader of a group that's spread racist propaganda in Weatherford, Mineral Wells, and Eagle Pass. https://www.texasobserver.org/rhett-murry-loftis-white-nationalist-active-club?utm_campaign=mastodon
superbowl jesus ad, part 4: a lie so blatant it must be true
Welcome to the fourth post of a series analysing the imagery from the billion-dollar “He Gets Us” propaganda campaign to recruit people into fundamentalist evangelism, focusing specifically on the ad run during the 2024 Superbowl.
I strongly urge you to read the first section of Part 1 before continuing, if you have not already done so. That first section explains the overall theological structure of the ad. Without understanding that structure, the terms “Sinner” and “Saviour” as used in this series will not make sense, but I don’t want to have to paste that explanation back in to each of these posts.
Caught up? Nice.
One of the more curious parts of this event has been the maker’s disclaimer stating that they absolutely did not use AI, that they hired a photographer – they even named someone – and that these images are photographs.
I suggest you revisit Part 3 of this series if you still give that any credence.
Personally, I’m willing to accept that a photographer played some role. I’m convinced that the images actually used were at very least heavily reworked with AI tools, if not re-created from whole cloth using the photographs as training material, but I admit that it’s possible that in some way a photographer was involved. Maybe in the rough drafts.
But why lie about it?
AI art is, obviously, huge right now. A lot of tech is super into it; several months ago, it would’ve got them a lot of attention if they’d made interesting images and said upfront that’s how they did it. Maybe they decided to hide it because the mood on AI has shifted so much. I don’t know.
But that’s not the important part. The important part – the important question – remains…
…why lie about it?
Particularly given how obvious it is that it’s a lie?
Even though they absolutely couldn’t get images that weren’t obviously at very least heavily AI altered, if not entirely AI rendered, they decided to lie about it. Why?
The answer is very simple: they can’t not lie. They actively can’t. They can’t avoid it.
I mean, sure, they could’ve told the truth here, but the more they feel that being honest about it would hurt them in some way – even just making them look bad – the less likely that becomes.
I wish it were because of PR. I really do. But it’s not. It’s because they have adopted a very different definition of truth.
For most of us, truth is weighed against observable, measurable reality – at least, where that’s possible. The truth of science, or more generally, the truth of empiricism.
Empiricism is the idea that you can observe the world, measure it, test against it, and accept that what happens reveals things about the world (and the universe). It means you can use those tests – that data – to make decisions about your life. To improve it, even. It’s core of the scientific method, amongst other things.
Babies are, in many ways, empiricists.
But that’s not how the fundamentalist evangelical movement defines truth.
Their truth is defined by God Said. If observable reality differs, then it’s reality that’s wrong, and it’s wrong because God Said.
Yes, really. That’s the key. Right there. God Said, so It Is. It’s that simple.
This is an example of a group using inherited wisdom as its metric of truth. It’s pretty common, historically, and before empiricism took off, it was absolutely the standard in Western thought. It’s core to both western conservatism and their flavour of authoritarianism, and built upon the idea that we are all living lesser, degenerate forms of an ideal way of living that we must constantly strive to recover. In their case it’s extremely literal, in that it’s the Fall of Man in the greater sense from the Garden of Eden, and the absolute, perfect, and utterly unchanging Word of God as represented in the Bible.
And believe me, they harp a lot on that perfect and unchanging part.
In practice, is any of this actually preserved across generations? Oh hell no. It’s basically two to three generations back, as modified to suit nostalgia, simplified re-renderings of memories from childhood and parental stories, and – of course – to serve white Christian cishet male dominance over others.
Don’t believe me? In the 90s, they didn’t really care about trans people. I’d see more hate-forward people try to tease those in authority forward on it and they’d be “That sounds very, uh, medical. Is it homosexual? Then whatever, we care about stopping the homosexuals.” Before the late 1960s, they didn’t even care all that much about abortion or birth control, because caring about those things was Papist, and they were way more concerned about race mixing.
However, they’ve decided hating trans people is eternal, so now, for them, it is. It’s always been true and therefore it’s always perfect and unchanging and God Said.
This next part’s really important to understanding what’s happening around us. I’m begging you, understand this. I’ve been trying to get people to understand it for twenty years.
If truth is measured against inherited wisdom, then the truth of a statement depends upon conformity to that inherited wisdom.
That stays true even if that inherited wisdom is in the form of a Perfect and Unchanging Word Of God that changes a lot every generation and a half. How much something supports your worldview – again, God’s Word – becomes the only measure of truth, regardless of anything reality might have to say about it.
This literally is how you get most flat earthers. This is how. Right here. This. They’ve decided that’s what God Said, so God Said, and that makes it real. I have seen this happen, someone already deep in that community going over the edge to flat-eartherism, because someone proved to him that the Bible says the earth is flat, and so, he said, “You’re right. The BIble does say the earth is flat. So it is.”
This definition of “truth” – this definition that has zero direct reliance upon observable reality – is also how they can so guilelessly set up lie factories to manufacture new types blood libel against their enemies.
It’s how they could say for decades that “homosexuals” were violent vicious evil mentally-ill psychopathic paedophiles who want to rape your children, give them AIDS, and turn them gay because it’s the only way we can reproduce. It’s how they can say the same sorts of things – often exactly the same things – about trans people now, along with all the other insanity they make up.
They are aware, of course, that whose who “haven’t found Jesus” have different definitions of truth. Their leadership in particular has always been highly aware of this.
The way they’ve gone about handling that hasn’t changed much in decades. First, get a couple of fundamentalist or socially-allied “sciencey” people to either cherry-pick or just straight-up fabricate data (the “make shit up” method) and publish papers that look like science, that look real to people who don’t know how their whole system works. Paul Cameron was a particularly famous foot soldier in this part of the war; look him up, if you want. He was a professional liar generating blood libel to get people killed.
Then set up some “sciencey” or “policy-ish” sounding sockpuppet groups, and have them generate a bunch of bullshit that sounds like research or analysis. The important part is that whatever they do has to be towards the goal of ‘proving’ the desired result, as opposed to studying the actual data and seeing where that leads them.
Footnote each other back and forth for a while, then generate some another layer of new sockpuppet organisations, referencing the first two. Then the first layer can start referencing the third, and your bullshit generator is up and running.
Eventually, you get enough noise that the credulous media starts hearing and parroting it and treating your bad-faith horseshit as legitimate, both-sidings it against reality for the horse race and the views.
That’s what they did against against lesbians and gay men people for decades. That’s what they’re doing to trans people now, with the absolute intent of going back to doing it against LGB people if they manage, in the end, to “ditch the T.”
If there was one thing in the world I wish I could do with this knowledge, it’s get it into the heads of journalists and in that way convince them to stop playing along. To stop meeting bad faith with good, to stop parroting bullshit because it’s “both sides.” Just fucking stop. I don’t care that they can lie to you with sincerity, they can lie with sincerity because they’ve decided God Said This Shit We Made Up, and because of that, actual reality doesn’t matter.
It’s not even that they don’t know. They know their methods are bullshit. They know their data is bad. And they don’t care, because their own data doesn’t matter, not even to them. The lie serves God – in that they’ve decided it serves their goals that they’ve ascribed to God – and that makes it true.
Even though it’s in every way a lie, a knowing lie, made in the most complete possible bad faith, that’s what they’ve decided.
So when it comes to lying about something as obvious as this AI art bullshit…
…they can no longer even tell they’re lying.
It’s better for them and their movement, they’ve apparently decided, for then to declare that this isn’t AI art. That it’s photography, as nonsensical as that is. So despite all the obvious bullshit of that statement – despite everything your own lying eyes tell you – that’s what they’ve decided is true.
So that’s what they rationalise, and that’s what they say.
If that sounds like everything you know and hate about MAGA, and everything you know about how Donald Trump works…
…congratulations. You have connected the dots.
Where we were, before this got so long?
Ah, yes. Slide seven. Tomorrow.