Sunday, February 7, 2021

Last Call For Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Newly-confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is wasting no time in dealing with the largest problem in America's military: the fact that it's been a hotbed of disaffected white supremacist terrorism in America for decades, from Tim McVeigh to today.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has signed a memo ordering commanding officers and supervisors to hold a one-day "stand-down" to discuss extremism within the armed forces in the next 60 days, the Department of Defense announced Friday.

Why it matters: After multiple current service members and veterans were arrested for their actions during the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol siege, the Pentagon has increased efforts to combat white supremacy and other forms of extremism in its ranks, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: "This stand-down is just the first initiative of what I believe must be a concerted effort to better educate ourselves and our people about the scope of this problem and to develop sustainable ways to eliminate the corrosive effects that extremist ideology and conduct have on the workforce," Austin, the first Black man to lead the Pentagon, said in the memo. 
"We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies. Service members, DoD civilian employees, and all those who support our mission, deserve an environment free of discrimination, hate, and harassment." 
"We owe it to the oath we each took and the trust the American people have in our institution."
Whether or not this remains symbolic remains to be seen, but let's remember that the Trump regime was not only actively encouraging white supremacist domestic terrorism in the ranks of the US military, Trump was doing it in order to overthrow the government and take over the country.
It came depressingly close to working.
Getting rid of the neo-Nazis, fascists, and terrorists in our armed forces will take a long time, and it will take an even longer time to do so from America's police forces. But at least the Biden administration acknowledges that the problem, you know, exists.

Black History Still Matters

Insert the joke here about how Black History Month in America is the shortest month of the year, but apparently in one Utah school, Black history actually doesn't matter.

A Utah charter school that incorporates Black History Month into its lesson plans is now facing backlash from some after the school announced it was allowing parents to opt students out of the curriculum.

Maria Montessori Academy Director Micah Hirokawa announced the decision in a Friday post on the school’s private Facebook page, according to local news outlet the Standard-Examiner.

Hirokawa wrote that he “reluctantly” sent a letter to families stating that administrators were allowing them “to exercise their civil rights to not participate in Black History Month at the school.”

Hirokawa said in the post that “a few families” had asked not to participate in the curriculum, though he declined to tell the Standard-Examiner the exact number of parents who had contacted the school or the reasons they gave for making the request.

The public charter school director added that the demand from parents “deeply saddens and disappoints me.”

“We should not shield our children from the history of our Nation, the mistreatment of its African American citizens, and the bravery of civil rights leaders, but should educate them about it,” Hirokawa said.

Hirokawa told the Utah news outlet that the school, which serves elementary and middle school students, incorporates Black History Month into social studies and history lessons, with a particular effort this year to highlight the achievements of African American figures in U.S. history.

Hirokawa, who is of Asian descent and noted that his great-grandparents were sent to a Japanese internment camp, told the outlet that he believes there is “a lot of value in teaching our children about the mistreatment, challenges, and obstacles that people of color in our Nation have had to endure and what we can do today to ensure that such wrongs don’t continue.”

"Why should THE BLACKS have their own history, they're American and they should be grateful for it, they could be back in Africa!", said Joe Whiteman, whose Irish paternal and Italian maternal grandfathers respectively were not considered "real Americans" seventy years ago, and who didn't consider Black folk to be human either.

Black history *is* American history, because y'all brought us here, and we built the monuments to America's "singular vision of freedom" with our bloody hands and bowed backs while your ancestors congratulated themselves on how clever they were for owning people as chattel. The African diaspora didn't exactly arrive on this continent through our ancestors' own volition, dig?

And hey, let's remember that kids today are learning how slavery wasn't that bad and "MaDe LiVeS BettEr FoR PoOr AfRiCaNs" just like their own parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents learned over the last century.

That brings me back to a hard and fast rule that the Biden administration is going to have to deal with: charter schools are always a scam, and none of them should get a dime from the federal government.

Not a dime.

You want to exclude your kids from Black History Month?

Homeschool them to be ignorant assholes who can't pass a GED, can't hold a job, and grow up to hate the folks "taking our jobs", but I sure as hell don't want to pay tax dollars for that.

Black Lives Still Matter.

Black History Still Matters.

Sunday Long Read: How America Went Q-Q

The New Republic's Melissa Gira Grant takes a deep dive into how the far right used conspiracy theories to leave a broken, ungovernable political class in its wake, realizing their demographic end meant that if that the country couldn't be ruled by the white male theocracy, it could never be ruled by anyone.

“I think that the TNT is about to go off.” An Oregon woman named Jo Rae Perkins was livestreaming to Facebook at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, sipping occasionally from a metal water bottle so as not to be interrupted and told to put on her mask, as Covid-19 protocols there now mandate. “I want you guys to please be alert, please be aware—please be prepared.”

Perkins was dressed in a chartreuse mock neck top, with matching chartreuse dangling crystal earrings and thickish lines of cobalt drawn on her upper lash line. She was reflecting on the attempted occupation of the Capitol the day before, January 6, 2021. “All you-know-what is going to break loose. We are not going to lose our country.” A young child’s voice floated over the stream as Perkins greeted some people who just logged on at a rapid clip. “Hello Amy, hey Jeff, Tina, and Darren.” She asked for prayers, and then predicted: “Do not be surprised if martial law happens in the next few days.” Now is the time to gather food and water, Perkins advised, and don’t be surprised if social media goes down. “After yesterday, with Mrs. Babbitt being murdered, that was the shot heard around the world for the second American Revolution.”

About two months before declaring from Sea-Tac that the revolution was here, Perkins won 912,814 votes in her race to represent Oregon in the U.S. Senate. That was close to the total number of votes Trump received in the state. Perkins had stunned national political observers earlier in 2020, when she won the Republican primary, beating out three other candidates. That result perhaps gives a more clear sign of her hard-core base of support: 178,004, just below 50 percent of the GOP primary vote. What had shocked whatever remains of the Republican establishment was Perkins’s avowed, enthusiastic support for the right-wing conspiracy cult QAnon, which places Donald Trump and select government insiders at the center of a crusade against pedophiles and sex traffickers imagined to secretly wield power over America. “Together, we can save the Republic,” Perkins pledged to her supporters after her primary victory. She called her opponent, Senator Jeff Merkley, a “traitor.” The lines were drawn in ways that would become only more clear as the year wore on.

At the time of Perkins’s upset primary win, in May, it seemed unlikely that a believer in QAnon’s constellation of antisemitic and increasingly apocalyptic conspiracy theories could be elected to Congress. Yet she was one of two dozen or so QAnon-affiliated candidates who would appear on the ballot on November 3. (Two, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Burgess Owens of Utah, are now sitting members of the House of Representatives.)

The gradual fusion of Q paranoia and standard Republican political organizing was a leitmotif of the Perkins campaign. In September, a Perkins for Senate fundraiser at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, Oregon, doubled as a QAnon road show. Under a smoky sky, from wildfires days before, around 50 people paid between $20 and $100 each, as Tess Riski reported for Willamette Week, to hear Perkins speak, alongside Shady Grooove, a host of the since-removed YouTube channel InTheMatrixxx, popular with QAnon followers, and Captain Roy Davis, author of the books QAnon and the Great Awakening and White Hats, Swamp Creatures and QAnon: A Who’s Who of Spygate. When the Marion County GOP advertised the event on its website, party publicists called Davis “a best-selling author closely associated with QAnon,” with the word “QAnon” linking to a New York Times story titled “G.O.P. Voters Back QAnon Conspiracy Promoter for U.S. Senate.”

“Grooove wasted no time telling the audience that QAnon was a nameless, faceless organization that would protect its ‘digital soldiers,’ as civil unrest escalated after Election Day,” wrote Riski. With words echoing the usual QAnon liturgy about the sacred cause of liberty and the patriots rising up in its defense, Grooove told the people at the fundraiser, “I am one of those people who would be willing to go anywhere Donald Trump sent me because I believe this man is fighting for us.” Grooove claimed, in the tradition of prophecy, that a great reckoning loomed: “This is not gonna end on Nov. 3. And I’m here to tell you this, and I want to prepare you for it. It’s not going to end on Nov. 3. It’s going to continue. How long it continues? It’s up to us.”

QAnon influencers such as Shady Grooove have helped bring the movement’s theology to a far broader audience. Before he was stumping for a congressional candidate, he had built a burgeoning following on Twitter and YouTube. He and other social media brand names spread the messages attributed to Q—the apocryphal highly placed government official at the center of all the unhinged intrigue—from lesser-known image boards like 8kun. They posted musings on the meaning of bread crumbs (as followers have dubbed these gnomic dispatches from Q) to their own social media platforms, putting them in front of yet more followers, who can chew them over and share them again. QAnon takes every platitude about the internet democratizing the media and marries it to the far more instrumental cult of the personal brand. It generates more “truths” than can be true—and, for a few, a kind of celebrity.

Perkins participates in this media and meaning-making, too. Her airport call, soberly alerting Q believers to the next phase of the storm (as the Q faithful term the coming reckoning), no doubt struck many of her viewers as another telltale realization of a prophecy. In reality, of course, it was simply another installment in the same rolling con, one that stretches far back in the tradition of American prophecy belief: foretelling, envisioning, and then stalling for the judgment day that is always right around the corner, just out of view
Part pyramid scheme, part political messiah movement, part viral social media, and all violence against anyone who isn't white, Christian, and conservative, these Q-balls are walking time bombs. Unless they are defused, they will explode and take thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands or more, with them when they detonate. 

We'll need the bomb squad for decades to deprogram these cultists.

Tales From The Trump Depression, Con't

We still have a long way to go in order to emerge from the Trump Depression, all while American businesses in the age of COVID are learning exactly how they can automate to replace and remove workers in the years ahead. It should come as no surprise then that it's Black and brown workers who are being left behind as the new jobs of the future are being created today.

The mass disruption of the workplace because of the pandemic is accelerating employers’ move toward job-displacing automation, and neither the government nor the American labor force is prepared for the sweeping fallout.

The hemorrhaging of jobs is refueling a national debate over how to give workers the skills to survive the brutal market and fill the millions of positions that automation will inevitably also create — albeit at a far slower pace than positions are being shed. Lawmakers, labor unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are all calling for more spending on workforce training. The employment and training programs now available — there are no fewer than 43 spread across the government — are inadequate, uncoordinated and underfunded, they say.

“We’ve fast-forwarded 10 years of change in the space of less than 10 months,” said Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition, a policy research group that promotes workforce training. “We don’t really do a good job making it easy for someone who has lost their job due to no fault of their own, particularly in an industry that’s downsizing, to get into a new occupation in a new industry," he said. "We just need a whole reboot of that.”

For President Joe Biden, this could be one of the most far-reaching economic issues that he will face, and failing to resolve it would undercut his vow to restore the U.S. labor market. Biden, who has strong support from organized labor, is pledging to expand partnerships between unions, businesses and community colleges, scale up work-based learning programs and build out individual career services.

Yet despite the bipartisan calls for action, it may be a struggle for Biden to convince Republicans to agree to fund a large-scale and expensive overhaul of how the government tackles reskilling workers. Even the $1.9 trillion economic relief package he has proposed contains no new funds specifically for job training. Congress has invested only $345 million in workforce development to address Covid-19, according to the House Education and Labor Committee, compared to the nearly $6 billion it appropriated to respond to the Great Recession.

This “is not just an opportunity lost if we don’t help people get the skills for the jobs that are being created, it’s going to be a real drag on the economy,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the Chamber of Commerce. “It’s going to mean a lot of suffering for a lot of individuals.”

Forty-three percent of businesses anticipate reducing their workforce because of new technology, according to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs survey. In December, searches for automation engineering equipment on Thomas, a product-sourcing platform, were up more than 300 percent from the previous year. And research firm Gartner found in February that Covid-19 had caused seven out of 10 boards of directors to accelerate their digital business.

The lightning-fast shift has created a more urgent demand for worker training than ever. With an estimated 97 million new job categories that could arise from automation, companies estimate that 40 percent of workers will require reskilling.

Though automation typically affects blue-collar workers most in manufacturing and food service, the rise of other technologies like artificial intelligence is poised to imperil white-collar employees, too.

Still, Black and brown workers are bearing the brunt of the impact: Lower levels of education and other barriers to opportunity mean that minority workers are more likely than whites to be employed as cashiers, cooks, and in other occupations susceptible to automation. Even pre-pandemic, 23 percent of Black workers were in danger of losing their jobs by 2030 due to automation, by one estimate
It's already bad enough that "essential workers" are going to be replaced by automation in the next decade, but without retraining the workforce, America is going to be a massive wasteland of unemployed. Yes, I expect the Biden administration to eventually raise the minimum wage , but it won't help if the jobs are all automated out. 

We're going to have to come to terms with this and quickly, or we're looking at another lost decade, and it's one tens of millions of us will never recover from in our lifetimes.
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