Thank you Heather Cox Richardson

“the most successful independent journalist in America” – NYT

The curse of learning history is that we can’t go back and correct the past, no matter how obvious that a corrective course is needed. But we can change the future. America owes much to Boston College historian Heather Cox Richardson for her valuable contributions documenting the facts over this recent past when our society overall has lost the skill of separating fact from propaganda. Kudos to New York Times for their article today. She’s the most clear-headed and prolific voice in contemporary history and has been a huge personal blessing to me.

Thank you and congratulations Heather Cox Richardson!

The proliferation of lies and ignorance

Each passing day and each occurring event brings out more revelations of ignorance and wildly successful intentional propaganda. It seems ridiculously easier to get the majority of people to believe a falsehood than it is to encourage them to learn facts. The desire to distinguish facts from opinion seems to be critically low, an understanding of the value of doing so minimized, while the desire to promote one’s opinion seems to be at an incredibly high level.

We are seeing this effect again right now today and this week over the National Defense Authorization Act, the COVID relief act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act where you’ll find a wide range of misinformation today. It is especially frustrating to me when a media calls themselves “news” but actually allows unedited and incorrect commentary by anchors. Likewise, people who call themselves “professionals” who have apparently not evolved past the point of having a process to differentiate reliable from unreliable information. It seems clear that commercial media understands the economic value of disinformation. Of course, those aspiring to political power understand the power of propaganda.

That’s not to say that we don’t all occasionally make a mistake. Nor does it mean that we don’t all sometimes engage in deliberate propaganda. But that’s entirely different from not having developed an internal cognitive process that will lead to differentiating facts from propaganda or opinion and recognize the importance and value of doing so.

It is normal to wonder if this problem always existed and how we handled it before. Virtually all of recorded history indicates that ignorance of the masses was a constant force in society. But nowhere in mankind’s history has the democratization of free information flow through the internet raised the power of ignorance and propaganda to the level it is today. in the past we could easily ignore and step over the smelly problem. That’s not so easy today.

I conclude that thee future of mankind looks dimmer because of the empowerment f this form of widespread mental laziness.

Spirituality of Spinoza

The following is either compiled or copied. I do not know the source.

When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the question students asked him most was: Do you believe in God? And he always answered: I believe in the God of Spinoza.

Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, along with Descartes.

According to Spinoza, God would say: “Stop praying. I want you to go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to sing, have fun and enjoy everything I’ve made for you.

“Stop going into those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and saying they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That’s where I live and there I express my love for you.

“Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don’t blame me for everything that others made you believe.

“Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can’t read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son’s eyes—you will find me in no book!

“Stop asking me, ‘Will you tell me how to do my job?’ Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry or bothered. I am pure love.

“Stop asking for forgiveness, there’s nothing to forgive. If I made you, I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies, and best of all, free will. Why would I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How could I punish you for being the way you are, if I’m the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of god would do that?

“Respect your peers, and don’t give what you don’t want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life—alertness is your guide.

“My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step on the way, not a rehearsal, not a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing here and now—and it is all you need.

“I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record.
You are absolutely free to create in your life. It’s you who creates heaven or hell.

“Live as if there is nothing beyond this life, as if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist. Then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is an afterlife, rest assured that I won’t ask if you behaved right or wrong, I’ll ask, ‘Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?’

“Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don’t want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in you. I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.

“Stop praising me. What kind of egomaniac God do you think I am? I’m bored with being praised. I’m tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That’s the way to praise me.

“Stop complicating things and repeating as a parrot what you’ve been taught about me. Why do you need more miracles? So many explanations?

“The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.”

The New Finances of Politics

Turning lies into profits has proved hugely successful. New federal financial reports show that the pressures of losing have actually helped Trump raise $13 million per day over the past two months. What are the long term financial implication on other elections?

The MAGA movement fundamentally changed the finances of American politics. Since the time two months ago when it appeared highly likely to independent observers that he would lose the election, Trump and his fundraisers have raised $13 million per day primarily through text message appeals to the MAGA crowd. Yesterday the Trump campaign, the RNC, Trump Victory, and Trump Make America Great Again Committee, filed reports with the Federal Election Commission for the reporting period of Oct. 15 to Nov. 23 disclosing that they collectively raised a total of $495 million in tis short time.

Since there are no laws that the text message appeals to donors need to be factual or honest, the people solicited have been misled with false statements and sophisticated appeals to their emotions. It is easy to argue that election finance laws are specifically designed to allow legalized fraud. The fundraisers target the cognitive weaknesses in potential donors through brilliantly designed fundraising messages. This explains why most MAGA individuals believed that he would certainly win the election despite other more credible data, will still win the election through post-election maneuvers despite all other sources, will be president despite losing the election based on speculator fantasies, and will be president again in the future. There are no signs that this unprecedented financial campaign will slow down.

In fact, the financial appeals for Trump’s 2024 campaign are expected to begin soon and will likely be the strongest early financial campaign in our country’s history. Trump is clearly able to leverage his folk hero status and polished TV image as a successful businessman among the MAGA crowd into an extremely profitable cash generating machine. The money is funneled through a Political Action Committee, better known as a “PAC”, a type of organization authorized by federal law that bypasses the limits of campaign contributions and allows Trump to use the money without the usual restrictions imposed on campaign funds.

What effect will this have on other federal, state and local political fundraising? The Republican National Committee has indicated that it is willing to consider backing other candidates outside of Trump and the MAGA circle. Will this fragment the parties’ fundraising?

My own role is focused and limited to the required accounting and legal compliance of political campaigns, including a PAC. I have set up the mechanics of text message based donation campaigns. I know that this relatively new technology is a mechanically efficient process. Most of my campaign clients have been independents or Democrats. Only two were Republicans. I understand that it would be expensive but still highly profitable to run a text message based fundraising campaign like Trump is doing. It is not clear to me, in my limited capacity as an accountant, whether others will be able to be as successful following this newly proven strategy. My observation and personal opinion is that other candidates of both parties are light years behind in their ability to manipulate voters into this type of cash-generating machine. Yet I do not doubt that Trump’s fundraising success will cause future fundraising campaigns to copy this proven strategy of appealing to the ‘dark side’ of voters. I regret to conclude that fundraising based on fantasy – storied completely separated from facts and reality – will increase in the future. I’ll be watching for other Republicans who follow this same financial strategy. Some observers write that it is unlikely that Democrats or independent candidates would be as successful in this type of strategy. I tend to agree but that’s well outside my area of expertise.

In summary, I see huge financial potential ahead for this completely legal method of turning lies into a profitable long term business model. While it isn’t clear who will do this, I have no doubt that others will follow.