The Department of Fear is winning

Let’s not fool ourselves. Fear is winning.

The Los Angeles Unified School District received a threat against its schools. Today it proceeded to shut them all down out of an “abundance of caution”, that term with which we’ve become so familiar. Seven hundred thousand students have been locked out of their schools based on a threat which New York City public schools also received, but which the NYPD determined to be a hoax. Hundreds of thousands of students disrupted from their routine has a ripple effect, forcing parents to stay home, affecting the economy.

I’m old enough to remember when Osama bin Laden said that his strategy was to bankrupt America by making it do stupid things. Although he sleeps with the fishes, his successors seem to be sticking to that strategy.

It doesn’t help that fear isn’t being stoked solely by jihadists. Our politicians on the Right are quite content to go along with stoking that fear, seeing it as a sure road to victory in 2016. So what if the country becomes a shell of what it was? So what if hate crimes spike as a terrified populace searches for scapegoats? None of that matters. All that matters is that they terrify the electorate into voting for a party which thrives on nothing but fear, as it has no other program on which to run.

Of course, fear as a motivator in American politics is nothing new. The Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s, and the internment of Japanese-Americans are evidence of this. But in the Age of Obama, one could have been forgiven for thinking such fear-mongering was done with.

However, Barack Obama’s election kicked the fear up to 11. A vast minority of Americans saw “their country” being destroyed. Every action taken by Pres. Obama seemed to confirm their fears. And the fact that he was “exotic” just fueled their paranoia.

ISIL doesn’t have to carry out mass casualty attacks on US soil. It can just phone in a threat and someone will take it seriously, paralyzing a city, a state, a nation. Eight years of the Bush administration telling Americans to be afraid have shattered this nation’s psyche. Eight years of Pres. Obama trying to assuage fears are too little. Fear sticks in your gut. Once it’s there, it’s almost impossible to get out for some people.

The Democratic candidates are, along with Pres. Obama, doing what they can to fight the fear. But, of course, they’re not aided by a feckless media whose ratings depend on a fearful public tuning in to get their next hit of fright. The media is part of the Department of Fear.

Next year’s election will determine whether we remain a republic, or descend into a war of all against all. In the main, I am hopeful. But, today, the Department of Fear is winning.

113 Responses to “The Department of Fear is winning”

  1. 1 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 2:47 pm

  2. 8 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

  3. December 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    The first victim

  4. 11 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    LOL! 😂

  5. December 15, 2015 at 2:55 pm


    Apparently the president was allowed to rope down Denali glacier? Pretty sure secret service loved that?? Lol

  6. December 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm

  7. 16 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Just heard them say “need to wait a little bit”

  8. December 15, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    • December 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Now all the terrorists have to do is email things and America comes to a stop?

    • 24 pkayden
      December 15, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Yeah, like terrorists are going to announce themselves like that. How silly.

        December 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm


      • 26 nathkatun7
        December 16, 2015 at 4:19 am

        Well said! FDR must be turning in his grave! The GOP and the Corporate media are pushing “FEAR” 24-7! While FDR reminded us that the “only thing we have to fear is fear is fear itself,” currently the GOP, aided and abetted by corporate media, is urging all of us to be “AFRAID” all the time about non-whites, non-Christians, who are, allegedly, destroying the country! Never mind the reality that during the 7 years the Obama presidency: the unployment rate is down drastically; Federal deficit has gone down by more than 50%; and more than 13 million Americans now have health care insurance than was the case before President Obama was elected.

  9. 27 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Finally! Greetings and hugs!

  10. 28 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm

  11. 29 Don
    December 15, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Um….what hatch?

  12. 31 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 3:16 pm

  13. December 15, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Now, as a librarian, if we were to receive a bomb threat, we would have to take it seriously and close the building. Likewise, if the entire system received a bomb threat, I’m pretty sure all of our libraries would be closed until the threat was determined. I understand why LAUSD acted the way it did. I really don’t have any easy answers. Do you ignore threats, or do you panic every time?

    • December 15, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      honestly LL,

      I think they probably get threats all the time. But, there was something different about this one.

      December 15, 2015 at 6:44 pm


    • 35 Obama Grandmama
      December 15, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      I remember vividly way back in my college years In Portland at PSU just a little while after we had a new athletic building open for PE classes having to go outside in Winter wrapped in a towel. We had a bomb threat and even though I was in the shower after a class we all were required to go out of the building while they checked it out. Standing outside wrapped only in a towel freezing in Winter was so embarrassing, but better safe than sorry. Bomb threats are not new. There used to be ones during high school too. I think it was mainly students trying to get out of tests in those days and there were no cell phones in then.

  14. 36 Don
    December 15, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Yesterday my son and I sat in front of the computer and got his Christmas gifts, all day at work I was kinda excited at the prospects of looking at video games and remote controls helicopters and hover boards. Yesterday when the time came I asked my son what did he want, my son picked out ‘plants vs zombies’ stuffed animals and ‘five nights at Freddy’s’ tee-shirts. When I was his age it was all about bikes, and racing car sets, and rock’em-sock’em robots. When he was younger I tried to bribe him with toys that I thought that he would enjoy, we’d go to the hobby shop and I buy these remote control cars and airplanes, but my son wouldn’t touch it. He’d walk over to the stuffed animal isle and pick out stuffed animals, he was in heaven. It took me a while to understand that what he wanted was different than what I wanted. And I’m happy he picked out what he wanted.

    • December 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      I was heavy into sword and sorcery games as a kid. Give me a new D&D adventure and I was set.

    • 38 Dudette
      December 15, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      You’re a good poppa!

      • 39 0388jojothecat
        December 15, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        One of my favorite movies with Will Smith. The new one Concussion looks good too……

          December 15, 2015 at 6:26 pm


    • 41 57andfemale
      December 15, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Excellent, Don.

    • December 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      When my son was younger, I would buy toys that, like you, I thought he would like. He would have more fun taking a piece of foil paper and a straw and making his own toys. I eventually learned that I was projecting onto him the things that *I* liked and soon learned to pay more attention to what he really wanted.

    • 43 99ts
      December 15, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      Memories Don – when I was a child I wanted a train set – never got one because I was a girl – so I bought my daughter a train set – all she wanted was Barbie dolls. Her cousin took the train set. My granddaughter wants a bike – a blue one – labelled “boys bike”.

      Love your post 🙂

  15. 44 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Well that’s something. Wondering out loud: How will they get there?

  16. December 15, 2015 at 3:38 pm


  17. December 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm

  18. 50 57andfemale
    December 15, 2015 at 3:53 pm

  19. December 15, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    During World War II when London and other cities were being bombed – actual bombs – regularly – the people went about their business as usual. They understood that if they were paralyzed by fear, they would have no chance of winning. That’s not to say that they were not afraid, but they didn’t let fear get the best of them. They put up blackout curtains, taped the windows, put up with rationing, took down street signs, kept an eye out for spies, and ran to the air raid shelters when the sirens went. (I know many other countries suffered through bombings during the war. I speak about England because my mother was in the Observer Corp and was in London during the Blitz.) They showed their mettle for six years. What do we have to put against that to justify our irrationality now? We are so afraid of what MIGHT happen, You’d think we would empathize with people two whom terror is a daily occurence, whose homes have been bombed away, and who flee from a situation where they lived with the constant, clear, and present danger of death. But no, we turn our faces away from them.

    • 53 GGail
      December 15, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      I know the LAUSD Superintendent and I believe that he would not have a knee-jerk reaction to a threat. So, if he felt that it was credible enough for the whole school system to be off-limits to students and staff, then that’s good enough for me. Now, because of this threat, I believe he, the Administration, the Mayor and other Officials will work out a system.

      There was something in the way he spoke this morning that said he knew more than what he was revealing.

      • December 15, 2015 at 4:43 pm

        GGail, I completely understand the lockdown decision. Yesterday, the high school, middle school, and one elementary were in lockdown all day because someone had phoned in threats to shoot up the business district just a half mile away from the schools. When the police lifted the lockdown after they had a suspect in custody (around 2:00) the district decided to keep those schools in lockdown for the last hour in case they did not have the right person. Those children were inside their classrooms all day – from 7:25 in the morning! It’s better safe than sorry with school districts. My comment was in reaction to LL’s essay and the irrational fear and the Department of Fear.

        • 55 GGail
          December 15, 2015 at 4:50 pm

          Thanks maryl1, I glad you understand

          • 56 0388jojothecat
            December 15, 2015 at 5:06 pm

            Thanks GGail, that is good to know.

            My niece is in high school at one of the LAUSD schools and I would rather them be safe than sorry. I would never ever never 2nd guess anyone as long as they were putting the safety of the students and staff ahead of any criticism. I think of the businesses, the police, and people in general who went back to work or told people to go back to work after the first plane hit the WTC. I would have gotten my stuff and hot tailed it out of there even if it meant losing my job.

      • 57 Nathkatun7
        December 16, 2015 at 4:42 am

        FDR was absolutely right: “The only thing we have to fear is FEAR itself.” As far as I am concerned, the fear that all the schools in LA School District were under the threat of terrorist attacks defies elementary common sense.

  20. 58 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 4:08 pm

  21. 59 Dudette
    December 15, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    First British astronaut aboard the Space Station

  22. 60 jackiegrumbacher
    December 15, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    LL,I agree that some Americans are making fools of themselves right now with their irrational fear of bogeymen behind every corner. But I would say that Americans have always been foolish, just as they have always had a tendency toward violence. I grew up in the post Hiroshima and Nagasaki years when the fear of the atom bomb was so palpable it would keep you up at night. I remember ‘educational films’ that actually showed what a nuclear bomb would do to an ordinary family and for years I worried that one would come in the night and annihilate everyone I loved. Fear was everywhere as we learned the drills for getting under our desks or lining up in the halls to protect our heads from ‘the bomb.’ And years later, on New Years Eve,1970, I remember someone saying that this was the decade that the bomb would finally destroy all of us and I actually believed it.
    Right now, extremist presidential candidates on the right are priming the fear pump for all they’re worth, with the media acting as their willing dupes, but the time is going to come soon when other voices are going to be heard. I believe that because we are the other voices and we outnumber the paranoid and we are going to be very powerful in the coming months as we gather in numbers for a presidential election that we MUST win. We can’t be mealymouthed about this next election. We have to give it our whole hearts, just as President Obama, FLOTUS and VP Biden will do. PBO believes in the good and decent people in this country and so do I.

    • December 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you for this. We need to hear it. The enduring accomplishments of our President depend on it.

      • December 15, 2015 at 5:03 pm

        I add to my expression of gratitude to JackieG for her comment and agree with you, fully, Bill.

        #Hope4ALL …. through it all, as President Obama knows, it is always those who never stop hoping that humanity’s sustainability depends. At TOD, we’re “ALL IN”!!!

    • December 15, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      “We have to give it our whole hearts, just as President Obama, FLOTUS and VP Biden will do. PBO believes in the good and decent people in this country and so do I.”

      Jackie – excellent comment. As you said, the fear is being ginned up by the GOP and their friends in the media to sky-high levels because there is an election around the corner – and the GOP’s only way to win is to stoke fear that borders on racial or xenophobic paranoia. They did the same thing last year for the midterms – it wasn’t terrorist bombs, but it was EBOLA – something which we heard very little about once the 2014 elections were over.

    • 64 purpleshoesla
      December 15, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      “but the time is going to come soon when other voices are going to be heard. I believe that because we are the other voices and we outnumber the paranoid and we are going to be very powerful in the coming months as we gather in numbers for a presidential election that we MUST win. We can’t be mealymouthed about this next election. We have to give it our whole hearts, just as President Obama, FLOTUS and VP Biden will do. PBO believes in the good and decent people in this country and so do I.”

      jackieg, A deeply felt thank you….your words above, gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes and it reminded me of this:

      One Voice Can Change A Room…… Let’s Go Change the World

    • December 15, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      It makes me laugh, jg, to think of hiding under a desk, or sitting in the school basement with a book over our heads as ‘protection’ from a nuclear attack.

  23. 67 Nena20409
    December 15, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    LL, you have done it again. Excellent Piece, LL. Bravo! 🍸
    Fear is Crippling, Stagnant and it Renders Thoughts.
    One becomes incapacitated and it retards logical reasoning.

  24. 68 Nena20409
    December 15, 2015 at 5:10 pm

  25. December 15, 2015 at 5:18 pm

  26. 70 Nena20409
    December 15, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Congrats Dudette, Another Au ⭐ ❓ Yes!

  27. December 15, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Good evening, TOD! Busy day — med treatment, grocery shopping, then a cookie photo shoot at my Mom’s apartment… Me and my bright ideas… My Mom gives cookies as gifts to about 200 folks; this is the last year that she’s doing it due to the cost and the physical strain. I suggested that she do a cookie recipe booklet to give with the cookies. My Mom doesn’t know who to work a computer AND she’s on a fixed income. Guess who’s doing the books… One of these days I’ll learn to keep my mouth shut! LOL

  28. 74 No Child Left Behind
    December 15, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    From Daily Kos

  29. 75 Nena20409
    December 15, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    The self Professed can do nation has become this Follow Your Leader Dittoheads. It is ugly!

    • 76 No Child Left Behind
      December 15, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      I share that thought!

    • December 15, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      I don’t why people keep thinking it’s important to choose what’s worse or who created this mess: Trump or his followers; Trump and the MSM. They are ALL disgusting horrible people! We don’t have to choose!

  30. 78 No Child Left Behind
    December 15, 2015 at 5:37 pm

  31. December 15, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Sharing this story from today’s WaPo. My personal connection, I’m acquainted with Rosalyn Stanley; her husband was one of my mentors, was the reviewing officer at my Change of Command, and retired me from the Marine Corps. Whenever I felt I couldn’t make it, I thought of them and kept pushing forward…

    • December 15, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Alycee, you never cease to amaze me. What a life you’ve lived!

      • December 15, 2015 at 7:19 pm

        Meta, I have. I sometimes pinch myself because I’ve had opportunities that most folks only dream about. If the book Forrest Gump hadn’t been written, I could write it about me… I am gathering pictures and stories for my family history. When Dr. Seuss’ book “The Place You Will Go” was written, I felt that he should have paid my family royalties as that was their message to me from the day I was born.

    • 83 99ts
      December 15, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      What meta said

  32. December 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you, Nena for the WaPo tweet!

    Simply …

    We know the weapons industry suckers will show up on 8 Nov 2016, open question is how many of us will show up …

  33. 85 99ts
    December 15, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Thanks LL good post – and as well as fear currently winning – so is expenditure on “security” (my world is reducing welfare but increasing security) and Trump. I keep telling myself it has to get better & the majority of Americans surely will not elect Trump – but the fear of this is worse than any fear about terrorists.

    And I do thank whatever power made it so that Barack Obama is the President of your United States.

  34. 86 No Child Left Behind
    December 15, 2015 at 5:53 pm

  35. 87 No Child Left Behind
    December 15, 2015 at 5:56 pm

  36. December 15, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      December 15, 2015 at 6:35 pm


  37. December 15, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    A librarian’s life.

  38. 92 purpleshoesla
    December 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    An antidote to the Department of Fear? “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” — I bought this book along time ago but the link is a nice distilled primer of it.

    “We have both fear and courage within ourselves. Here’s what I’ve learned: you cannot purge either one. However, you can weaken the emotion of fear by starving it. Whichever impulse we feed dominates. When we feel fear, but act anyway, we deprive fear of nourishment and strengthen the impulse of courage inside us.”

    Click to access Feel_the_Fear_and_Do_It_Anyway.pdf

  39. 93 carolyn
    December 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    A personal note: Today I had the nuclear heart stress test and ultrasound. I am fine. The reason I had it is because, three weeks ago I went to the ER with chest pains, not knowing what was going on. No heart problem, an anxiety attack. With what I’ve been through in the last year, that was, I suppose, to be expected eventually. I got good care, and a funny doctor. He said, Now, I don’t want to sound mean, but you have had 75 birthdays, and you need a cardiologist. You do need to be checked out. I knew he was right; I have a history of heart trouble in my family. So, the hospital got me an appointment with a cardiologist. I had my first appointment, and really liked him and his entire staff. Warm, friendly, approachable…..he then decided I should have a baseline stress test. So, this morning I arrived at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. for the test. I do not get up at 5:00 very easily, but did so. The hardest part was that I could have NO caffeine for 24 hours before this morning.

    The results are very good. I am thankful I did this, because I know I have to take care of myself, especially for my son and his children, and also, I do enjoy living and there are still things I want to do, places I want to go…..Very glad it’s over, very glad I did it. I was even more impressed with the doctor’s office today. Feel very fortunate.

  40. December 15, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I’m able to visit so sporadically that I may just have missed her, but I have the impression that GoBrooklyn hasn’t posted for several days (or more). Sure hope she is ok.

    December 15, 2015 at 6:47 pm


  42. 106 Vicki
    December 15, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    It looks like SOS Kerry and Putin might have a deal on Syria.
    If I may make a guess, it would be that Russia keeps its military installations on the Syrian coast at Latakia and Tartus, Assad stays in power (Not what USA wants, but maybe necessary) and Assad gives up large areas of Syrian territory—maybe to the Kurds? or other Syrian forces.

    These are my guesses, not facts. Time will tell.

    PBO and SOS Kerry are statesmen like no other. Giants!

  43. December 15, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    We are Americans. Standing up for each other is what the values enshrined in the documents in this room compel us to do…especially when it’s hard, especially when it’s not convenient. That’s when it counts. That’s when it matters. Not when things are easy. But when things are hard…Being part of a democratic government is hard…it is a challenge. It’s supposed to be. There’s no respite from our ideals. All of us are called to live up to our expectations for ourselves, not just when it’s convenient, but when it’s inconvenient…when it’s tough, when we’re afraid.

  44. 109 hopefruit2
    December 15, 2015 at 7:20 pm

  45. 110 hopefruit2
    December 15, 2015 at 7:22 pm

  46. 111 hopefruit2
    December 15, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    This guy’s sentiments echo a lot of what we’ve been saying here on TOD and striving for.

    Please retweet and fav you’re on Twitter and have a chance. 🙂

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