Celebrate the Facts!
2/27/2022 0 Comments
The most dangerous person in the United States is Steve Bannon, an unabashed international revolutionary who aims to upset world economies and change government structure and purpose. Bannon has an essential populist appeal with a sloppy appearance and Midwestern demeanor. Bannon is a seminal figure in the ongoing American revolution.
Bannon is a combined entertainer, political provocateur, and clickbait mercenary. In writing and oratory skills, he is a poor man’s Pat Buchanan, translated to a later time with similar messages. Bannon is disheveled, obese, given to a grumpy, irrational emotionality.
Bannon was born in Virginia in 1953 of Irish and Germanic ancestry. Bannon’s father worked as a middle manager and a telephone lineman while his mother was a stay-at-home spouse. His parents were strict Christians. He studied urban planning at Virginia Tech and then served in the United States Navy for seven years as a second lieutenant. Bannon later got his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Bannon’s later biography is complex:
Tribal media, formally known as Infotainment, in its liberal form, presents Bannon as irrational, racist, nefarious, narcissistic, and a thought leader of an international Caucasian movement intended to unite white people across the globe. Infotainment loves to present Bannon’s reversals, particularly his two felony indictments. Bannon is no Mr. Nice Guy for certain.
Infotainment is by nature inclined to present parties in opposite roles as binary, one very good and the other villainous. While Bannon is difficult to like, he’s much more nuanced, complex, and intelligent than the alcoholic, obese, racist figure some tribal media depict. Bannon is the leader of a revolution and makes no bones about it.
Bannon aims to ‘deconstruct the administrative state.’ Understanding that word and Bannon’s use of it becomes critical to unraveling his philosophy. Clifford Waldo was an American political scientist who developed the phrase and intended it to mean Waldo argues the bureaucracies in democratic governments. professional and political bureaucracies and its goal is service to the public, not to be particularly efficient.
Bannon’s speeches however belie a unique and far different definition of the administrative state. Bannon defines the administrative state as an international conspiracy by wealthy liberal elites to manage sovereign governments. According to Bannon, during the 2008 financial crisis, the international liberal elites did what Stalin and Hitler could not do, and that was to unite the world into one, shadowy world government. Bannon refers to these liberal billionaires as the Party of Davos.
Bannon says the resultant debt load undertaken by governments was the socialization of the debts of the Party of Davos. Bannon theorizes these corrupt and incompetent global elites manipulate governments to maximize shareholder value to get even more money. The implementation of shareholder value mantras contributed to unfair trade agreements resulting in the deindustrialization of the United States.
According to Bannon, these international wealthy liberal elites suck the vitality of economies and suppress worker wages. Bannon correlates the rise of Chinese manufacturing with lower wages and the opioid crisis in the United States. The correlation is causation argument of course remains robust in analyzing that claim.
Bannon’s formal speeches tend to embrace race and ethnicity and unite working-class Americans. Bannon’s revolution envisions a renaissance of American manufacturing with attendant increases in wages for the American working class.
Woven throughout Bannon’s messages are elements of wishes to withdraw from international affairs. Bannon discusses the waste of money and lives in the United States wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bannon weaves populist messages throughout his presentations. In this instance, he laments the wasted contributions of the working class in those futile efforts.
Bannon’s recommendations, largely implemented during the Trump administration, include immigration controls to regain American sovereignty from the unseen global governance by the wealthy. Bannon maintains immigration undermines the wages of working-class Americans and such controls are explicitly are not racist as they protect the jobs and wages of Latin American workers in the southwest United States.
Contrary to his representations in formal addresses, Bannon’s statements in informal forums reveal a man who has disdain for the LBGTQ community. Erik Prince, a right-wing political personality and professional mercenary, joined Bannon on his podcast on February 23, 2022, where they praised Vladimir Putting for repressing the LGBTQ population in Russia.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is an organization founded in 1913, intending to ‘stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.’ The ADL indicated they were not aware of any antisemitic statements made by Bannon. Regardless, Bannon promotes conspiracy theories about George Soros, a liberal billionaire activist who is also Jewish. Soros figures in antisemitic circles as the leader of an international Jewish conspiracy so such insinuations are antisemitic dog-whistling.
Robert Mercer, a billionaire, and his family are the big money behind Breitbart, a right-wing extremist Internet platform. Mercer is a Christian conservative, gun enthusiast, a climate change denier, religious, small-government proponent, who aligns with Bannon’s goals. During Bannon’s tenure at Breitbart, the Infotainment publication published an enormous number of Islamophobic articles. The examination of Breitbart reveals editorial liberties with the truth laced with dog-whistling homophobia and racism.
After leaving the White House, Bannon opposed the Republican Party establishment and supported insurgent candidates in Republican primary elections. He also supports many national populist conservative political movements around the world, including creating a network of far-right groups in Europe.
Like Godzilla, a fictive movie villain who is an enormous, destructive, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation, Bannon seems to thrive on toxicity. Progressives revile him but he remains relevant, like his fellow right-wing shock jocks Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity if only through his foulness. But more than that, Bannon has activist philosophy which his fellow peddlers of hatred lack. He has combined being against progressive initiatives and proposes revolution.
At age 68 and exhibiting no outward signs of good health and fitness, one might surmise has a finite limit on his days of relevance. Even so, it doesn’t take a lot of vitality to talk on podcasts or make speeches at favorable venues. And it’s clear while Bannon’s logic appears sound at first blush, the connections required to construe the same outcome are unlikely. The solutions to the grievances Bannon inflame, however, take time and good governance to resolve. The United States doesn’t appear to have a lot of either.
Christian nationalists are all the media rage and that is no surprise. A mob of white trash overran the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, intent on overthrowing a legitimate government. Such group included white nationalists and Christian pastors, including one who led a prayer in the Capitol rotunda and exorcised a demon influencing Congress. Christian nationalist and racist figures publish beliefs that bulwark such action and support domestic terrorism. Rick Tyler is one of the foremost figures among these delusional and dangerous figures.
Richard Seburn Tyler Jr., more commonly known as Rick Tyler, was born in Florida in 1957 and raised in a lower-middle-class family. After holding various undistinguished jobs, Tyler ventured into the dark world of Christian Nationalism in 1979 and has remained active since as a provocateur and political candidate.
Tyler describes his self-radicalization on his political website, where he developed an ideology that winds Christianity with constitutional fundamentalism and white supremacy. Tyler is a pastor at the Heritage Christian Church in Tennessee and posts videos preaching to his flock on Christian nationalist philosophy.
Tyler’s cosmology of Christian nationalism includes broad historical revisionism. Tyler relies on the Foundation myth, whereby he affirms that the founders of the American republic designed loosely aligned state governments based on Christian principles. Tyler opines about the War of Northern Aggression, more appropriately named the Civil War, and states that the Constitution empowered the Confederate states to secede. Tyler denies that the Civil War was primarily about slavery. He also ignores the war freed about four million humans from torture and bondage.
Tyler yearns for a return to the antebellum South, in which America is a white Christian Caucasian nation. In his view, God supports racial identity as central to the world and that God is the author of ethnicity and racial distinction. The work of sinful men attempts to destroy differences of racial identity, and people who support integration are not Christians. The racial descendants of the founders, white Europeans, are in peril.
Lost in Tyler’s gibberish are the 2.2 million Americans who served in the Union military and the almost 600,000 Americans who died. The overwhelming majority of those people were white, and somehow disagreed enough with slavery to put their lives at peril. The graves of Union dead refute romantic nonsense about the nobility of the South’s cause to maintain other humans in perpetual bondage and forced labor.
Tyler claims progressives stole America from whites, but the theft occurred because of their willful ignorance. Presumably, Tyler includes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned slavery, as one of these alleged perversions of the Christian founders’ intent.
Wrapped in Tyler’s philosophy are Biblical quotations, along with a comprehensive revision of facts. For example, Tyler states the God of his fathers is a God of wrath and a God of mercy and bestowed his blessing on the remaining white supremacists so they can prevail against the juggernaut of evil that surrounds them. With God, Tyler says, all things are possible, including restoring the white master race to its intended spot at the top of the heap.
Tyler states that a powerful, supernatural intelligence exercises enormous influence and controlling power in the affairs of men. Satan himself sits at the apex of a control grid, causing problems in society. In Tyler’s mind, God inspired him to help lead the fight against these conspiratorial Satanic forces, presumably intended to destroy the white race.
Fascinating Tyler tidbits offer a glimpse into his character and ideology:
Tyler ran for the United States Senate seat in Tennessee as an independent candidate in 2014, receiving 5,759 votes, or 0.4 percent of the vote. Tyler ran for the United States House of Representatives seat from Tennessee District 3 in 2016 and 2018. In 2016 Tyler gained 1.9% of the vote with a total of 5,098, and fell back in 2018 as he declined to 4,522 votes, or 1.8%. Tyler also ran for election for Governor of Tennessee in 2018 and failed, with a miserable 981 votes.
In 2019, Tyler rented space at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus for an event called ‘White Nationalism: Fact or Fiction.’ Protesters outnumbered attendees more than 10 to one as fewer than ten people attended the event.
Tyler alleges he ran for president of the United States in 2020 and plans to run again in 2024, and maintains these positions as his political platform:
Tyler’s Facebook page incorporates a variety of memes and posts tying him to Christian figures. Tyler also attends Meetup groups, including the Florida Campaign for Liberty Pensacola Meetup Group, a right-wing non-profit organization. In addition, Tyler maintains a Twitter page under the handle @USAWhiteAgain.
Like many of his fellow Christian nationalists, Tyler exhibits antisocial behavior and has had brushes with the law.
According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, their Special Investigations Section probed the finances at Tyler’s former business, the Whitewater Grill in Ocoee, and discovered that he had concealed taxable sales between 2015 and 2016 totaling over $400,000. In September 2018, a county court evicted Tyler from that property due to nonpayment of rent.
Authorities indicted and arrested Tyler in July 2020, charging him with a count of property theft between $10,000 and $60,000 and one count of tax evasion, and set bond at $30,000. If convicted, Tyler will face a maximum of six years in the state penitentiary and pay fines of up to $10,000 for property theft and up to two years and fined $3,000 for tax evasion.
Escambia County, Florida, police arrested Tyler in 2006 and charged him with illegal disposal of waste over 500 pounds. Tyler pled nolo contendere to the felony charges, meaning he did not accept or deny responsibility for the charges but agreed to accept punishment. In addition, Tyler presented himself as indigent in the proceedings and received 24-months’ probation.
The foundation of Tyler’s viewpoints is fundamentally flawed. First, of course, Tyler’s view of races as divinely created is nonsense. Another failed premise is Tyler’s presumption that virtue is necessarily associated with the Caucasian race. Tyler avoids discussion of the horrors of slavery and genocide of indigenous peoples while anointing himself and other whites as God’s favorite people.
There is no empirical proof for God’s existence, particularly a God that favors the white race. His view of constitutional law is also unsound, and no reputable legal expert supports it. And his romance with the antebellum South denies the cruelty and immorality of enslaving another people and profiting from that labor.
Hell is indeed other people, a phrase coined by Jean-Paul Sartre, and Tyler is an excellent example of this. There is no law against, and not necessarily anything wrong, with postulating a political position. However, publicly advocating white supremacy intended by God wrapped into untruths about history is unethical and arguably delusional. Tyler’s work lays the formal cornerstones for a revolution, and other extremists use his words to reinforce fanatical views.
Perhaps symbolic action figures such as Tyler serve a purpose. However, a failed man such as Rick Tyler advocating white supremacy and representing himself as a leader of the master race further degrades such repellent philosophy. In addition, Tyler’s association with Christianity is another stain on that already tarnished faith tradition.
Christian nationalism was all over the insurrection, including Christian symbols superimposed over American flags and prayer gatherings by terrorist groups, including the Proud Boys. Christian nationalism is a violent and exclusionary ideology held by a minority of Americans. Those Americans intend to impose their bizarre beliefs on the United States population. However, what is shocking is not the weirdness of their ideas but their success.
Christians play an outsized role in American politics. Devout Christians tend to be single-issue voters. However, when they form a homogenous voting bloc, they are a formidable group. Their votes swing elections and create an unspoken basis of policy and actions by all branches of government.
From an objective viewpoint, Christianity is a schism from Judaism with a layer of apocalyptic end-times mythology. Christianity appears, from a distance, to be a death cult founded on the premise of human sacrifice for the vicarious redemption of sins. The faith incorporates supernatural God-like figures who perform miracles, people rising from the dead, and an afterlife in a paradise called heaven.
Populations inculcated into belief in talking snakes, worldwide inundations, God-like figures communicating via flaming bushes, and the dead rising from the grave and walking the earth are perhaps more susceptible to similarly outlandish beliefs such as Donald Trump leading a holy war to rid society of liberal pedophile elites.
Christians seem to love branding the United States as a Christian nation. Politicians have sponsored stone monuments displaying the ten commandments, a group of orders allegedly ordained by God, then brought down from a mountain on stone tablets by a figure named Moses on public property throughout the United States, along with other Christian symbology such as crosses. There appears to be no registry or count, but such are pervasive.
The Christian foundation myth is the keystone to their credo. According to this erroneous account, the ‘founders’ of the United States were devout Christians and incorporated Christian theology into civil law and governance. Such representation is an outright lie and well established by reputable historical scholars and legal authorities. The population of the United States was at that time and continues to be more interested in freedom from religion than freedom of religion.
Christian nationalism is a movement within the American population that aims to fuse Christianity with American civic life. Christian nationalism contends that America has been and should always be Christian in all aspects. That encompasses a lot, including history, identity, customs, and law. White nationalism and Christian nationalism are synonymous. If one is a white nationalist, one is almost certainly a Christian nationalist and vice versa.
Christian nationalism fights to create a social order reminiscent of the antebellum South. In their aspirational society, every individual recognizes their proper place and requirements regardless of race, religious belief, or sex.
Many Americans identify with core Christian nationalist beliefs:
However, much of the rest of the population disagrees with the Christians. About two-thirds of United States adults say humans wrote the Constitution and reflects their vision, not necessarily God’s vision. A similar share says the government should never declare any official religion.
Christian nationalists are more likely to:
Donald Trump might have used that list as the guidebook for his campaigns and presidency, as it seems he tapped into almost every one of the survey findings. But unfortunately, other camp followers and potential candidates such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley seem to have taken a page out of that playbook.
Waves of Christian nationalism, such as the most recent explosion, have had an outsized impact on the United States. Congress added the words ‘under God’ after ‘one nation’ in 1954 to the pledge of allegiance typically recited in public schools. The first appearance of ‘In God We Trust’ on United States currency was in 1957 after the United States Congress legislated that term as the national motto.
Ronald Reagan formalized the Republican Party’s alignment with fundamentalist Christianity in 1980, ripping them from their previously enthusiastic embrace of Jimmy Carter. Reagan’s anti-abortion stance was incongruent with his previous stances and a political machination rather than a heartfelt belief. Christians also aligned with his militarism and appeal to memories of a mythical America. Every Republican presidential nominee since, except for the Mormon Mitt Romney, has catered to their wishes with substantial success.
Elections have consequences, and the United States 2016 election outcomes will resonate for generations if for no other reason than the judiciary. Trump appointed three Supreme Court justices aligned with Christian nationalist values. In the next five years, that group will fundamentally change American society to the detriment of most of the population.
Those justices join and resemble Clarence Thomas in their political ideologies and impact on the governance of the United States. Thomas has now served 30 years on the Supreme Court, and Amy Coney Barrett, age 50, Brett Kavanaugh, age 57, and Neil Gorsuch, age 54, all can serve even longer.
A particularly enlightening example of Christian involvement in the insurrection is Father David Fulton, the pastor of two Catholic churches in Nebraska. Fulton was in the mob of white trash who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, dressed in priestly garb, toting a paperback copy of a book of exorcism. By his own recorded video account immediately afterward, Fulton exorcised the demon Baphomet from the Capitol. He also led a well-received group prayer in the rotunda during his fantastic adventure.
Baphomet allegedly is a hermaphroditic cross between a man and a goat and infected Congress with infected Satanic ideas. Yet, rather than a seemingly well-deserved stay in a psychiatric institution, Fulton faced no discipline from his masters at the Omaha Archdiocese and is still ministering to his flocks. Perhaps in the spirit of true Christian forgiveness, he forgave himself and can move on to even stranger ideas.
About two-thirds of Americans self-identify as Christians, so they are a sizable majority of the population. Moreover, they are and continue to be the leading force in political and social discourse.
At first blush counterintuitive, Christian influence will decline for two reasons. First, percentages of the population self-identifying with the faith continue to fall. The number of Christians remains stagnant despite significant population increases. There were about 178 million Christian adults in the United States in 2009. By 2019 that number had fallen to about 167 million Christian adults. During the same time, the total population grew by about 23 million.
Are there ways to combat the drift of the United States into a church-state like Islamic republic? The United States is well down the path of the end of secular governance. The Supreme Court will support state laws that whitewash the American story of slavery and the genocide of the indigenous population. Legislatures will pass laws to allow teacher-led public-school prayers and, if challenged, force a favorable decision by a super-righteous Supreme Court.
The court will reduce female reproductive rights soon. Elections have consequences. Perhaps that action will cause women to stand up and repudiate social engineering by devout Christians, convinced the one true God inspired their acts.
The population of the United States is aging, and the implications are immense. Popular misconceptions about aging cloud the perception of what is possible for older people. Contrary to folk belief and erroneous historical research, loss of cognitive ability is not inevitable. Older people can continue to remember, learn, and maintain brain health well into advanced years.
Today, more than 46 million older adults age 65 and older live in the U.S.; by 2050, that number will grow to almost 90 million. Between 2020 and 2030 alone, when the last of the baby boom cohorts reach age 65, the number of older adults will increase by almost 18 million. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 years old and over.
Despite the importance of understanding aging and cognitive decline, one cannot find much authoritative data. What is the age-related degeneration in learning? What environmental factors correlate with reductions or preservation? Does everyone decline as they age on a predictable, linear slope? Can an aging person preserve cognitive abilities with environmental measures, and if so, what are those activities or lifestyle changes that help? What does the data say if one screens populations for genetic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and vascular dementia?
Conventional wisdom preaches one’s ‘learning curve flattens’ with age. In the context of aging, the statement essentially means learning ability declines with age and is synonymous with ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.' The idea is an aphorism and is meaningless out of context.
The literature suggests there are declines in learning ability with age. However, the situation is much more nuanced, and much of the data debunk conventional wisdom parroted by media, physicians, and the population at large.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to process and analyze information so that it supports one’s preexisting ideas and convictions. One wonders if the relative lack of authoritative research is mostly about societal preconceptions.
One big area conventional wisdom is wrong is the relationship between age and language learning ability. Most people and clinicians say age is a major and maybe the most important factor in learning a second or foreign language. Conventional wisdom says children acquire a new language easily and quickly, and such endeavor is near-impossible.
Older learners are less likely than young children to learn a new language. Studies relating age to language acquisition reveal that age differences reflect differences in the situation of learning rather than in the ability to learn. Empirical data confirm adults can become highly proficient, even fluent, speakers of additional languages, and that ability does not decline with age.
Learning a second language is a monumental feat. At times, the process involves learning many new words, pronunciations, conjugations, tenses, and even alphabets. However, the fact that adults learn new languages at the same rate as children indicates that learning abilities can remain robust despite aging.
Cognitive is a jargon word used in this trade. The word cognitive means of, relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity (such as thinking, reasoning, or remembering). Maintaining an intellectually engaged and physically active lifestyle helps retention of cognitive abilities. Cognitive training studies prove that older people can improve cognitive skills by thinking and remembering.
In a massive study of people of European ancestry aged at least 60 years without dementia at baseline, participants with high genetic risk and unfavorable lifestyle scores had a significant hazard ratio for all-cause dementia. However, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a lower risk of dementia, and there was no significant interaction between genetic risk and a healthy lifestyle.
Much of the misinformation about age and cognitive abilities stem from the now-debunked myth that one is born with a certain number of brain cells, and once they die, they are gone forever and not replaced. Using this mistaken belief, it follows that the brain is in a state of degeneration, and aging people are on an inexorable path to a nursing home wearing a diaper, provided they don’t die of cancer or a heart attack along the way.
Neuroplasticity is a modern term meaning the brain modifies, changes, and adapts structure and function throughout life. The brain changes based upon the requirements asked of it. A variety of factors affect neuroplasticity, including genetic, cellular, molecular, and environmental factors.
One area confirming neuroplasticity and improvement of preexisting conditions is amblyopia. Colloquially known as lazy eye, amblyopia is the vision in one eye caused reduced by abnormal visual development early in life. Amblyopia develops from birth up to age seven years. It is the leading cause of decreased vision among children. The weaker eye sometimes fixes in an unaligned inward or outward gaze. Conventional wisdom was that the condition was permanent unless addressed early in life.
Recent advances in optical surgery and contact lens correction can sometimes return those eyes to efficacy, allowing the patients to experience three-dimensional vision for the first time, confirming the ability of the brain to adjust to new stimuli.
Studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other clinical data indicated that decreasing cardiac function, even at normal cardiac index levels, is associated with accelerated brain aging. Greater arterial stiffness and pressure pulsatility are associated with brain aging, MRI vascular insults, and memory deficits typically seen in Alzheimer's dementia. Cardiac issues can be related to genetics but often are environmental, so one can control one’s destiny by maintaining health.
Even people with symptoms of dementia are not entirely irretrievable. Patients with mild dementia or mild cognitive impairment had better cognitive scores after 6 to 12 months of exercise compared with sedentary controls.
Fast facts about environmental factors in cognition:
Nearly all cases of dementia are the result of a complex disease. In these cases, genes may increase the risk of developing dementia, but they don’t cause it directly. For example, midlife hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and obesity are associated with an increased rate of progression of vascular brain injury, global and hippocampal atrophy, and decline in executive function.
Defensive measures are easy to define and more challenging to put into practice:
There are plenty of ways societal misperceptions about aging and mental skills injure people. First, older people ingrained with the misbelief cognitive declines inevitably might disengage and hasten a decline. Second, employers imbued with this mythology might discriminate against older people. Third, more senior people might misattribute simple mistakes, like misplacing their keys, with symptoms of senility, through their own confirmation bias. Finally, simply worrying about a life-ending in helplessness is corrosive and injurious.
Substantial research and open discussion of the facts will help change the misconceptions. Such is imperative to help aging people live fulfilling, happy lives.
Michael Donnelly investigates societal concerns with an untribal approach - to limit the discussion to the facts derived from primary sources so the reader can make more informed decisions.