civics (118)

Diversity or Dystopia...

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Watch: Nichelle Nichols Tells The Story Of How Martin Luther King, Jr. Dissuaded Her From Quitting ‘Star Trek’ TrekMovie.com

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Star Trek

"It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr., Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, 31 March 1968, King Institute, Stanford University

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the reason Nichelle Nicoles stayed with Star Trek after the first season. She wanted to return to her first love - theater, and Broadway.

As it turned out, Dr. King was the self-professed biggest fan, and what ensued was life-affirming for Nichelle Nichols. When speaking to NPR, she said: “He complimented me on the manner in which I’d created the character. I thanked him, and I think I said something like, ‘Dr. King, I wish I could be out there marching with you.’ He said, ‘no, no, no. No, you don’t understand… You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for.'”

She continued: “I said, ‘Well, I told Gene just yesterday that I’m going to leave the show after the first year because I’ve been offered…’ — and he stopped me and said: ‘You cannot do that.’ And I was stunned. He said, ‘Don’t you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen.’ He says, ‘Do you understand that this is the only show that my wife Coretta and I will allow our little children to stay up and watch?’ I was speechless.'”

How Martin Luther King convinced Nichelle Nichols not to quit 'Star Trek', Mick McStarkey, Far Out Magazine, United Kingdom (Rest in Power, Nichelle Nichols)

Star Trek is the child of Gene Roddenberry, birthed at the height of the Civil Rights movement. This time was also the period of government surveillance of those same organizations by the FBI via COINTELPRO. It was a Pollyanish vision that two centuries in the future, we would mature from our societal adolescence, our tribal factions, and mature enough to work together, across cultures and worlds. Dr. Maya Angelou said "we grew up" after the inauguration of President Obama. We hoped we had.

Gene and his scriptwriters were products of the Second World War, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Hence, in creative license, they somewhat hinted, that the utopia of the 23rd Century was preceded by a self-imposed, dystopian hellscape.

World War III was the last of Earth's three world wars, lasting from approximately 2026 to 2053. The conflict involved nuclear cataclysm as well as genocide and eco-terrorism. The post-atomic horror in the aftermath persisted as late as 2079.

The war was preceded by the Second Civil War and the Eugenics Wars, all of which were sometimes regarded as parts of a single escalating conflict. It resulted in the deaths of some 30% of the Human population, at least six hundred million people, and the extinction of six hundred thousand species of animals and plants. By the end, most of the major cities had been destroyed and there were few governments left.

Star Trek Memory Alpha: World War III

If you follow the link for the Second Civil War, it refers to contemporary concerns about a certain twice-impeached Oval Office resident and his rabid followers. The inset of scenes from the January 6th insurrection was ominous and brilliant social commentary in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The first episode was both social commentary and warning: there are no benevolent Vulcans that will show up to clean up our nuclear mess after the discovery of a superluminal warp drive. With our luck, we'd encounter Klingons or Romulans. Social commentary and hope animated Dr. King's remarks to Nichelle/Uhura.

Social commentary is what Star Trek has always tried to do. Gene Roddenberry appealed to our secular better angels, our shared experience as humans beyond color or culture.

Viktor Orban was in Dallas, Texas yesterday. He received a standing ovation for his remarks about race mixing, the LGBT, and taking over universities and the press. This is fascism. The Republicans in Dallas are true RINOs and should have worn their white sheets. It is the aftermath of their patron saint, Ayn Rand's admiration of a serial killer, William Hickman: cruelty. Only a psychopath can admire a psychopath. Reagan admired Rand. What does it say about a party that makes her words the sacred scripture of apoplectic violence?

The reason fascism seems to be spreading across the globe is the same reason terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda spread across the globe: the Internet. We are now investing more in newsfeeds, tweets, and blogs that we can read on our ineptly-named "smart phones." There have always been factions - they are encouraged by the wealthy. It's better for the rubes to fight each other than use critical thinking on who the theaves are.

“If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best-colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.”

― Lyndon B. Johnson

People are not leaving their homes because of whims or WWII Nazi survivor George Soros (a familiar racist trope). They are leaving because of failed governments in Central America affected by US trade policies such that there is effectively no middle class. Their daughters will be the prostitutes to drug lords and their sons will be the runners and soldiers for them. They are leaving because of wars in Somalia, Chechnya, and elsewhere so-called "strongmen" punch down on weaker populations. They are leaving because of climate catastrophes that are decimating their nations with floods like those in Kentucky or fires like those in California. Colonizing the Moon or Mars is not a plan - it's a suicide mission, and we don't have any warp-capable starships or a Starfleet. We have a "pale blue dot" Carl Sagan said we live on together. In order to survive on it, we're going to have to share resources and work together.

Savvy demagogues like Orban, Putin, and the criminal who previously had the nuclear codes are using the tribal "fear of the other," the desire not to "mix races" to seize power, with no intention of relinquishing it. It allows the hoarding of resources, wealth, power, and the licensing of cruelty. Weaponizing fear of "others" is also profitable, hence Fox Propaganda and Reich Wing media promoting it. Carotin or Melanin: Every human being on the planet is from the African continent. The variations are the result of migratory patterns, the foods encountered, and the angle of incidence of the sun. We don't need to go to another planet to know that - just pay attention in high school biology, or read a science report.

If we were to colonize the Moon or Mars (hopefully without terraforming with nukes), in a hundred years, the colonists would no longer look like Earthlings: they would be Lunarians and Martians, and due to their wildly different environments, they could not come back to Earth. One of the things Star Trek probably got right: under similar conditions - a planet in the "Goldilocks" zone, with similar gravity and atmosphere, aliens on those worlds would probably develop into similar physical structures, similar skin variations.

We are being held hostage by so-called "white" men hoarding resources to themselves in the deluded notion they could survive a full-scale collapse of civilization and life on Earth. Diversity or dystopia. A beloved community or extinction.

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

“The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community. The aftermath of nonviolence is redemption. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation. The aftermath of violence is emptiness and bitterness.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Occam's on Steroids...

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Image source: Dictionary dot com

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Politics

Originally from the entry: Apathy, Crisis, and Zappa (another blog I posted to before WordPress).

So what exactly is a constitutional crisis? We should be clear about what does — and, more importantly, does not — merit this description. It’s possible to have a major political crisis even if the Constitution is crystal clear on the remedy or to have a constitutional crisis that doesn’t ruffle many feathers.

Political and legal observers generally divide constitutional crises into four categories:

1. The Constitution doesn’t say what to do.

The U.S. Constitution is brief and vague. (Compare it to a state constitution sometime.) This vagueness has one major advantage: It makes an 18th-century document flexible enough to effectively serve a 21st-century society. But sometimes the Constitution leaves us without sorely needed instructions, such as when William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office in 1841. At the time, it wasn't clear whether the vice president should fully assume the office or just safeguard the role until a new president could somehow be chosen. (It wasn't until 1967 that the 25th amendment officially settled the question.) When Vice President John Tyler took over, no one was sure if he was the real president or merely the acting president, nor was anyone certain what should happen next. Tyler asserted that he was, in fact, the new president, and since then, vice presidents who have had to step into service as chief executive have been treated as fully legitimate, but early confusion took its toll on the perceived legitimacy of Tyler’s presidency.

2. The Constitution’s meaning is in question.

Sometimes the Constitution’s attempt to address an issue is phrased in a way that could allow multiple interpretations, leaving experts disagreeing about what it means and making it difficult or impossible to address a pressing problem. In this way, both the Great Depression and the Civil War created constitutional crises. The problem sparked by the Civil War is obvious: The fight rested on a bunch of unsettled constitutional questions, the biggest of which was about slavery and the federal government’s ability to control it, a subject on which the Constitution was silent. And while the Constitution provided information on how a state could join the union, it didn't say whether one could leave it or how it would go about doing so. It obviously took a war to resolve this crisis.

3. The Constitution tells us what to do, but it’s not politically feasible.

This category of constitutional crisis can crop up when presidential elections produce contested and confusing results. In the 2000 presidential election, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were separated by just a few hundred votes in Florida, the tipping-point state whose electoral votes would determine the winner, the state’s election results remained contested for weeks due to a number of irregularities and a secretary of state who seemed determined to cut a recount short. In theory, the Constitution allowed for various solutions to this problem: Congress could have decided which of Florida’s electors to recognize, or Congress could have determined that neither candidate had achieved a majority in the Electoral College and let the House of Representatives decide on a president (per the process spelled out in the 12th Amendment). Such outcomes, while certainly constitutional, would have been politically infeasible, creating a significant legitimacy crisis for the new president.

4. Institutions themselves fail.

The Constitution’s system of checks and balances sets the various branches against each other for the laudable purpose of constraining tyranny. However, due to partisan polarization, individual corruption, or any number of other reasons, sometimes the political institutions in these arrangements fail, sending the governmental system into a crisis. This was the type of constitutional crisis commentators were seemingly referring to in describing reports that Customs and Border Protection agents (members of the executive branch) weren't following orders from the judicial branch.

Five Thirty-Eight blog: The 4 Main Types of Constitutional Crises, Julia Azari and Seth Masket

Secret Service Jan 6 text erased despite Congress' request

Jan. 6 texts missing for Trump Homeland Security secretary and deputy

Occam's razor: a scientific and philosophical rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities Merriam-Webster

So, what do we call this?

Too many people who know that you're supposed to keep official records (Secret Service, Homeland Security) aren't keeping official records.

The GOP had CPAC in Vicktor Urban's authoritarian country (he's apparently not a big fan of diversity, and by extension, neither is the GOP).

Homeland Security: a lot of angst about the name came up post 9/11 because it sounded so - "Nazi." This is, sadly, when Alex Jones gained a lot of traction. He popularized "9/11 truthers" before he saw where his depraved bread was buttered with Sandy Hook, lying about dead children, and anything else he could glom onto for a fast buck that I hope he's finally being separated from his exchequer. It's like the chips all fell in place for the Joker to take over Arkham, and Batman is TDY across the universe with the Justice League.

Dumbo Gambino lied to 9/11 victims about going after the Saudis (15 of the 19 highjackers) to their faces in the height of their grief and loss. That hasn't stopped the sociopath from hosting the LIV golf tournament at his Bedminster course, because that would take something he has ZERO in his emotional fuel tank: empathy. It's all about money and protecting those who he thinks will give him boatloads more.

Malcolm Nance's new book: "They Want to Kill Americans" couldn't be starker. The Introduction had me up past midnight! He's gone back to Ukraine to help them win the war. I sometimes think it's safer than America right now.

Orange Satan didn't do this by himself. He had a lot of complicit help that doesn't mind turning our high-sounding Constitution into toilet paper (for flushing). He just saw where the wind was blowing after the country elected its first and so far, only black president, and lost its collective mind!

Coup. Insurrection. Insurgency. They're all words. We went from Obama's tan suit and Michelle Obama's bared arms controversies to the Grand Pooh-Bah storming the Capitol to save us from whatever addles their loose minds. For the record: the 1995 Million Man March was a peaceful exercise of the First Amendment that resulted in no Capital Police Officers' deaths, storming of the Capital, the display of an insurrectionist flag, Grand Pooh-Bahs howling at the moon, or the deposit of urine and feces.

The only option Malcolm gives in interviews about his book is to vote. Vote in record numbers every election. Vote for the proverbial dog catcher. Nothing is trivial. Fascism is a fungus on the body politic. You can't give it any room to grow, otherwise, we'll have a January 6 in 50 state Capitols. Dysfunction equals dystopia, not democracy or civilization.

Maybe we're not calling it a constitutional crisis because four decades of dumbing down a previously "informed citizenry" has led to the dichotomy of proletariat drones carrying "smart phones."

Also from the previous blog post:

"One of the things taken out of the curriculum was civics," Zappa went on to explain. "Civics was a class that used to be required before you could graduate from high school. You were taught what was in the U.S. Constitution. And after all the student rebellions in the Sixties, civics was banished from the student curriculum and was replaced by something called social studies. Here we live in a country that has a fabulous constitution and all these guarantees, a contract between the citizens and the government – nobody knows what's in it...And so, if you don't know what your rights are, how can you stand up for them? And furthermore, if you don't know what's in the document, how can you care if someone is shredding it?"

"Notes From the Dangerous Kitchen," a review and a quote from Frank Zappa, Critics at Large

A few months before January 6, someone was flushing it.

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Counting in Counties...

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Credit: Amanda Montañez; Source: “Political Environment and Mortality Rates in the United States, 2001-19: Population-Based Cross-Sectional Analysis,” by Haider J. Warraich et al., in BMJ, Vol. 377. Published online June 7, 2022

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Existentialism, Politics

Reality literally bites.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the link between politics and health became glaringly obvious. Democrat-leaning “blue” states were more likely to enact mask requirements and vaccine and social distancing mandates. Republican-leaning “red” states were much more resistant to health measures. The consequences of those differences emerged by the end of 2020 when rates of hospitalization and death from COVID rose in conservative counties and dropped in liberal ones. That divergence continued through 2021 when vaccines became widely available. And although the highly transmissible Omicron variant narrowed the gap in infection rates, hospitalization and death rates, which are dramatically reduced by vaccines, remain higher in Republican-leaning parts of the country.

But COVID is only the latest chapter in the story of politics and health. “COVID has really magnified what had already been brewing in American society, which was that, based on where you lived, your risk of death was much different,” says Haider J. Warraich, a physician and researcher at the VA Boston Healthcare System and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

In a study published in June in The BMJ, Warraich and his colleagues showed that over the two decades prior to the pandemic, there was a growing gap in mortality rates for residents of Republican and Democratic counties across the U.S. In 2001, the study’s starting point, the risk of death among red and blue counties (as defined by the results of presidential elections) was similar. Overall, the U.S. mortality rate has decreased in the nearly two decades since then (albeit not as much as in most other high-income countries). But the improvement for those living in Republican counties by 2019 was half that of those in Democratic counties—11 percent lower versus 22 percent lower.

People in Republican Counties Have Higher Death Rates Than Those in Democratic Counties, Lydia Denworth, Scientific American

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Perils of Privilege...

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Pence Secret Service detail feared for their lives during Capitol riot, Martin Pengelly, The Guardian

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Dark Humor, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Steven Bannon's "medieval," take-no-prisoners defense rested yesterday. The three-shirt Troglodyte didn't take the stand in his defense on advice from counsel. He said more outside the courtroom than he did inside. Today is closing arguments.

The January 6th Committee ended "season 1" yesterday as well, promising more hearings in September, just in time to keep the subject fresh in voters' minds before the midterms. I hope my Fraternity Brother, Bennie Thompson, heals soon from his Covid infection.

The 45th occupant of the Oval Office looked small yesterday. The hearings didn't drop so many bombshells, in my opinion. It presented a so-called "white" privileged man that could not, and cannot, admit he lost the 2020 election. He is using that narcissism in the "Big Lie" that infects so much of our politics now. It presented that a man who can't admit after six bankruptcies he sucks at business, a con artist who steals money through fake real estate schools, border wall scams, and teasing his cult following that he's going to run again for president (any day now), is simply a spoiled, entitled brat. It's no wonder he and Bannon found each other. I'm not a right-wing podcaster with millions of listeners, many of whom he scammed with a "build the wall" boondoggle. Three-shirts, Senator Hawley, who had an impressive sprinting form on January 6th, and Baby Huey are all so-called "white" privileged men who know how to manipulate their enraged constituents, who they enraged.

They're enraged because someone told them they are "white," that God is "white," and that "white" is blessed, exalted, and privileged. All other colors fall below the apogee of the American hierarchy and caste system.

They're enraged by critical race theory, which is not taught in K-12, but what they fear is accurate history that doesn't show so-called "white" privileged men in a good light.

They're enraged because Rush Limbaugh told them to be enraged about "Feminazis" and anyone who didn't look like so-called "white" privileged men like him.

They're enraged because it's better for those who scam and steal money from 99% of the population to keep them engaged with the Reich-Wing media complex that keeps them angry at the "other." It's the "others" who took the jobs their fathers used to privilege their way to lifetime employment, pensions, and retirement. It couldn't possibly be the so-called "white" privileged multimillionaire and billionaire class, the gods that they actually worship. It can't be them: they look like (other, poorer so-called "white" men). But those same so-called "white" privileged men were in the boardrooms deciding to send those jobs overseas for profits. They don't live with you, and they don't care about you.

Their rage causes them not to invest in books or education, but in arsenals. Their rage merges lethality with hoarding disorder, the stress of no longer being the center of the citizenry, and Norman Rockwell-type images depicting diversity, driving some stark raving mad. Every human, despite shades of Melanin, can only fire one gun type once. There is no credible animal that is hunted by AR15s, Sig Sauers, or Kalashnikovs. The only animal that they have hunted are those they consider fellow human beings, and "others."

This rage caused (I believe) the Secret Service to delete text messages from January 5th and 6th, and no other days, even after Congress asked for them. Did the Secret Service follow their Comms Plan? Preserving records and evidence is the first duty of law enforcement. If law enforcement isn't upholding the law, there is no "rule of law."

Despite the incredible pictures from the James Webb Space Telescope, I am struck by two things:

If we were to read the spectrograph of some distant exoplanet's atmosphere, we might see something resembling ourselves. The distance between us is prohibitive, we're not likely to see this world in a human lifetime. Because they're so far, arrival will be after conditions would have evolved, or dissolved over millennia.

If there have ever been other intelligent beings in the universe, they may have died off: a victim of their own misplaced hierarchical privilege and abject stupidity inhibiting spacefaring.

This rage will be the necrosis of the species.

 

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Factions, Fascism, Dystopia...

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Thoughtco.com: Banana Republic definition

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

President George Washington, September 19, 1796, Farewell Address

Brittany Griner was selected by Moscow/Putin because she, like a lot of WNBA players, receives less pay than most men playing the same game in the country of her birth, leading her like other athletes to seek more lucrative exchequer overseas. This sexism has been justified with tropes like "the games aren't exciting" and "women can't dunk." Brittany Griner and a host of other athletes proved that wrong. If she did have cannabis in her vape cartridges as the Russians allege, they already knew it before the illegal war in Ukraine, and conveniently ignored it for their national entertainment. She's a bargaining chip because she has the temerity to be married to a woman and play basketball overseas in a nation whose dictator is homophobic. She's a bargaining chip because she is African American, dreadlocked, tattooed, tall, and gay. She is a pawn in a game of real politick.

If you haven't seen the January 6 Hearings, you can catch up on YouTube. Pundits have been discussing it exhaustively - even Fox couldn't ignore it anymore. It's painful to think a subpar reality TV star, failed real estate huckster, serial pathological liar, and murderer of over one million Americans whose great plan during the height of Covid was to "inject bleach" actually once possessed the nuclear codes. As the former member of the Proud Boys and insurrection supporter said yesterday, this could lead to a second uncivil war.

Fascism (noun): 1. often capitalized: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition: 2. a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control Merriam-Webster

Here at home, the repeal of Roe vs. Wade was because of a 50-year project and blatant obfuscation in the confirmation hearings of Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, the oft-used dodge in Latin: Stare decisis (precedent). "Roe is decided precedent." It was until it wasn't. The precedent was the right to privacy, which was the basis for the reason Brittany Griner is married to a woman (Obergefell v. Hodges), Clarence Thomas is married to Ginny the insurrectionist (Loving v. Virginia), Contraception, the Fair Housing Act, Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act: it would be a repeal of the Civil Rights era. I guess they'll go for Brown vs. Board of Education to repeal the 20th Century.

The Handmaid's Tale is in America. We are Gilead. Our dismal performance during the Alpha variant contributed to the deaths of one-million American citizens, that if we had Universal Healthcare or our dear leader hadn't lied, recommended hydroxychloroquine, drinking bleach, a significant fraction less would have perished.

Uvalde, Texas showed us that every theory post-Columbine is utterly false. Our taxes outfit police efficiently to be the "good guys with guns," impressive, camouflaged, looking tough, and utterly incompetent. They "protect and serve" the property of the wealthy, not "we the people." They are battle-dressed paper tigers, standing by, rubbing hand sanitizer, popping gum as nineteen children and two teachers are transformed into ground meat. If nineteen highly-trained "protect, and serve" officers can't engage a single shooter, how do any teachers who didn't sign up for combat take them out?

Christian Sharia was brought to us not by an Ayatollah Khomeini and Mullahs in dark robes in Iran, but by zealots on the former Supreme Court who lied under oath. Ten-year-old rape victims have to go to other states that still have the rights their mothers had for forty-nine years. The Economist put it bluntly: Why nations that fail women fail. Jim Jordan deleted a tweet calling the story a lie, but refuses to hold his insurrectionist president responsible for January 6 (he also is culpable in the crime). The entire Reich Wing media complex tried to make a 10-year-old rape victim (the crime happened when she was nine) an urban myth, a breathtaking display of gaslighting. If Moscow Mitch becomes Senate Majority Leader after November, he vows that the ban on bodily autonomy will become national, and women, without irony, second-class citizens and modern-day slaves.

George Carlin's tragicomic observation of women becoming broodmares of the state is hauntingly prescient. The 6-3 not-Supreme Court's Christo-fascist default is whatever their idea of Christianity wants, as in the case of the football coach who prayed in the middle of a field, in the middle of a game. Whether he gained divine intervention towards victory (or whether it mattered), it flies in the face of Matthew 6:5, usually in red letters, so it might have some importance:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray to stand in the synagogues and on the street corners (now, football fields) to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Constitution Center, First Amendment

Legally and liturgically, six out of nine of the former Supreme Court is spitballing. Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson has her work cut out for her.

On the evening of October 31, 2020, Steve Bannon told a group of associates that President Donald Trump had a plan to declare victory on election night—even if he was losing. Trump knew that the slow counting of Democratic-leaning mail-in ballots meant the returns would show early leads for him in key states. His “strategy” was to use this fact to assert that he had won while claiming that the inevitable shifts in vote totals toward Joe Biden must be the result of fraud, Bannon explained.

“What Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory. Right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s a winner,” Bannon, laughing, told the group, according to audio of the meeting obtained by Mother Jones. “He’s just gonna say he’s a winner.”

“As it sits here today,” Bannon said later in the conversation, describing a scenario in which Trump held an early lead in key swing states, “at 10 or 11 o’clock Trump’s gonna walk in the Oval, tweet out, ‘I’m the winner. Game over. Suck on that.'”

Leaked Audio: Before Election Day, Bannon Said Trump Planned to Falsely Claim Victory, Dan Friedman, Mother Jones

This was not a spontaneous demonstration that got out of hand. The chaos WAS the plan.

The term rule of law refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions, and entities, public and private, including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency. Justice Initiative: Three Principles to Strengthen the Rule of Law

As the evidence of continuous crimes committed by a sociopath mounts, the decision Attorney General Merrick Garland has is to either charge him or not. The "rule of law" was violated on January 6, 2021, and an angry, murderous mob was directed to the Capitol like a weapon wielded by tweet: "it will be wild." It was a planned wilding, launched on social media, with a lie so big, that Joseph Goebbels would blush. The rule of law was violated when the sociopath called potential witnesses - Cassidy Hutchinson, and one who has yet to appear before the January 6 Committee - to witness tamper and intimidate them into Omerta. If one man is not charged, one man is above the law. If one man is above the law, there functionally IS no law. Just zealots, dictators, and spitballing.

In a second uncivil war, there would be no Appomattox, or reunification afterward. There would be no myths of American exceptionalism, "melting pots," or "lost causes" to placate uncomfortable histories we don't want to deal with. We would physically be here, but any pretense of being a functional government would be erased as we devolve into territories, Hatfields and McCoys, red hats and "team normal," warring tribes, and factions. It would be the dissolution of the United States and a byword for the continued existence of democratic republics worldwide.

In dystopias, there is no rule of law.

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Reality Daytraders...

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Image source: Facebook, Rick Steves

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Vladimir Putin is a reality daytrader. His invasion of Ukraine is a "special military operation," not a war, or more accurately, an ongoing war crime. Gaslighting eleven Russian time zones is as easy to him as flatulence. With the GRU and American social media, he can hack American minds with the wildest conspiracy theories almost at will. The ridiculous QAnon claptrap that democrats are "demon-spawned, blood-drinking pedophiles" sounds like a propaganda tactic from the Kremlin:

Putin befriended and supported European politicians who were willing to defend Russian interests. One was Gerhard Schroder, the retired German chancellor, who was in the employ of the Russian gas company Gazprom. A second was Milol Zeman, elected president of the Czech Republic in 2013 after a campaign partly financed by the Russian oil company Lukoil, and reelected in 2018 after an election financed by unknown sources. A third was Silvio Berlusconi, who shared vacations with Putin before and after leaving the office of Italian prime minister in 2011. In 2013, Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud and banned from public office until 2019. Putin suggested that Berlusconi's true problem was the persecution of heterosexuals. "If he were gay, no one would ever lay a finger on him." Here Putin was enunciating a basic principle of his Eurasian civilization: when the subject is inequality, change it to sexuality. In 2018, Berlusconi began a political comeback.

"The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America," by Timothy Snyder, page 100 (paperback), author of "On Tyranny."

Gallop shows the number of adults self-identifying as LGBT ticking up to 7.1% isn't evidence of lower testosterone any more than it is of mythical cooties. We've gone from "Will and Grace," the sitcom "Soap," Ellen DeGeneres, and Rachel Maddow on primetime television to legalizing same-sex marriage as a Constitutional Right. At least on the surface, we seem to be more tolerant. Math question: isn't 7.1% less than 92.9%?

Or, take nonexistent voter fraud. The Brennan Center "found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent." Red states are making laws over something more infinitesimal than pocket lint.

An election happened in 2020, and the Russian asset (emphasis on the first syllable), lost. He couldn't even admit the truth to his friend Piers Morgan, telling him "what if you're not real?" In typical duplicitous snowflake fashion, he stormed out when confronted with the truth: he lost. Did we give this ingrate the nuclear codes?

Vance: Some opposition to Obama ‘comes from the color of his skin’

Vance also previously advanced [a] defense of former President Barack Obama, a Democrat who was the country’s first Black president, and who was falsely labeled a Muslim and was the subject of the racist “birther” conspiracy. Vance said he admired Obama for his personal accomplishments, even though he disagreed with him politically.

J.D. Vance used to admonish Donald Trump’s ‘xenophobic’ appeals to voters. Until he decided to run for Senate. Clevland.com

The "Big Lie" as popularized by Timothy Snyder in "Bloodlands" and executed by Vance and the American "son of perdition" has become less of a loyalty test, and more of a chanted mantra, eerily similar to Orwell's "two minutes hate" ritual. Yet, part of being in a cult means you curate reality: you daytrade it to avoid pain and steamroll up Maslow's pyramid to self-actualized pleasure. "Freedom" isn't the freedom to say two plus two equals four, it's the ability to troll on Twitter without fact check, or the threat of banning. (That worked out really well on January 6th.) What is painful to admit must be a conspiracy, not the outcome of voter mobilization, or concerns about fascism. "Others" - women, people of color, LGBT, youth - who did not vote for their Gollum avatar are "unpersons," and therefore since they do not exist, their votes are by definition fraudulent. Dehumanization is the first stage before slaughter and genocide.

Actual voter fraud committed during the 2020 election was committed by the followers of Putin's asset's personality cult. History has no impact and facts do not matter. Karl Rove opined about "creating realities" and for Putin and Russophiles like Rand Paul, Ukraine doesn't exist because it never existed. Therefore, uncomfortable histories about "your tribe" in the formation of the US must be banned, and I'm sure eventually, burned.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

“The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.”

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself."

"Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Since the beginning of your life, since the beginning of the Party, since the beginning of history, the war has continued without a break, always the same war."

-George Orwell, "1984"

Alternative facts. Big lies. Created realities. These things are not the basis for democracy, and two plus two is not five.

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”― George Orwell, 1984, all quotes in italics from Good Reads

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Shields Up...

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Ukraine foils Russia-backed cyberattack on the power grid, The Statesman

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Cybersecurity, Existentialism, Fascism

Summary

This joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA)—coauthored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Energy (DOE)—provides information on multiple intrusion campaigns conducted by state-sponsored Russian cyber actors from 2011 to 2018 and targeted the U.S. and international Energy Sector organizations. CISA, the FBI, and DOE responded to these campaigns with appropriate action in and around the time that they occurred. CISA, the FBI, and DOE are sharing this information in order to highlight historical tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by adversaries to target U.S. and international Energy Sector organizations.

On March 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments of three Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers and a Russian Federation Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM) employee for their involvement in the following intrusion campaigns against the U.S. and international oil refineries, nuclear facilities, and energy companies.[1]

  • Global Energy Sector Intrusion Campaign, 2011 to 2018: the FSB conducted a multi-stage campaign in which they gained remote access to U.S. and international Energy Sector networks, deployed ICS-focused malware, and collected and exfiltrated enterprise and ICS-related data. 
    • One of the indicted FSB officers was involved in campaign activity that involved deploying Havex malware to victim networks. 
    • The other two indicted FSB officers were involved in activity targeting U.S. Energy Sector networks from 2016 through 2018.
  • Compromise of Middle East-based Energy Sector organization with TRITON Malware, 2017: Russian cyber actors with ties to the TsNIIKhM gained access to and leveraged TRITON (also known as HatMan) malware to manipulate a foreign oil refinery’s ICS controllers. TRITON was designed to specifically target Schneider Electric’s Triconex Tricon safety systems and is capable of disrupting those systems. Schneider Electric has issued a patch to mitigate the risk of the TRITON malware’s attack vector; however, network defenders should install the patch and remain vigilant against these threat actors’ TTPs.
    • The indicted TsNIIKhM cyber actor is charged with an attempt to access U.S.-protected computer networks and to cause damage to an energy facility.
    • The indicted TsNIIKhM cyber actor was a co-conspirator in the deployment of the TRITON malware in 2017.

Alert (AA22-083A)

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures of Indicted State-Sponsored Russian Cyber Actors Targeting the Energy Sector, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

So the warning by CISA has some connotations we should think about. Since Nexflix bailed on Russia, they could block streaming services and retaliate rather petty. Another is infrastructure such as public utilities. Yeah, getting your AC turned off when it's in the eighties outside sucks, but a hospital getting its power cut during an emergency operation, an episiotomy or sinus surgery can cost lives that otherwise wouldn't be affected. It would affect water and utilities, access to ATMs, and Wall Street trading. Any attack is a move of desperation, not "strength." Any rat trapped in a corner will strike back, even with its last breath. Sean Hannity tried to give Mango Mussolini a layup question that he couldn't answer: "is Putin evil?" After bodies stacked like Hurricane Katrina victims, a plethora of war crimes that would embarrass HITLER, he still can't form his puckered mouth, which strangely looks like an anus, to criticize his handler; he is still the lapdog of a KGB spymaster. I doubt it has anything to do with pee tapes: it's darker than that. He wants to BE Putin, he wants America to be Russia. He wants Jeff Bezos to bow to him on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in parody to 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Here is a failed businessman, a serial bankruptcy artist, a short-fingered vulgarian whose college professor stated he was the "dumbest student he EVER had," using more colorful metaphors. He takes a gig as host of a reality show to pay just enough of his crumbling life expenses to keep up the facade, and never admitted to himself that whatever his father had, he never had, and never will have. A person like that constructs fantasies because reality, "real reality," is too harsh for malignant narcissists. "Great again" in a sick mind is a dystopian nightmare to the sane rest of us, unless you're QAnon while reading this.

I think of Edward Snowden at this time. He's probably a valuable asset to Vladimir Putin and the GRU, despite his rock star status in exposing corruption: he broke the law and fled the country before it could prosecute him. Funny how he ends up in Russia; funny how the malware the GRU started using in 2016 suddenly "sprang up" spontaneously. I'm surprised no one is discussing this as a possibility. If you look at the link that I've provided, he boasted a top salary of $200,000 working at the NSA, as he put it, as a "computer Guru," without the benefit of a college degree. His paint job and privilege greased the skids to his ascension in the intelligence community (an oxymoron if there ever was one) and his six-figure salary. One thinks of the idioms "blowback" and "chicken's coming home to roost" the second made famous first by Chaucer of The Canterberry Tales before Malcolm X used the idiom to comment on President Kennedy's demise.

As Ukraine goes further in the crapper for the Russian bear, and Putin gets desperate to pull off a "win" in time for the May 9th festivities (the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in WWII), cyber warfare is his best option to damage, deter the West, and save "face" at home. Moscow's Flagship sunk: either from Ukrainian armaments, or Russian naval incompetence. Social media is making it difficult to blame the "special military operation" on ghost Nazis. Since American billionaires hide their money in the Caymans, and Russian oligarchs (tomato, to-MAH-toe) hide their grand theft in western countries, "nuking the joint" just because you're pissed at looking bad doesn't make financial sense. Neither does the use of chemical weapons because the optics of killing babies in a majority white country can't endear you to the crowd that thinks white people are being "replaced." Free trade after Ukraine is going to have a cost for Vladimir: it's not going to be free, and like Finland and Sweden considering NATO membership, he may have sparked a global "Green New Deal" revolution that mere logic, and the absolutely sane desire to save the planet couldn't. The veneer of invincibility so-called strongmen like to exude can't be as shiny as it was when W "looked into his eyes, and saw his soul." At least the 46th president called "malarky" on that google-eyed tyrant worship, proto the fascism the right is exhibiting daily.

CPAC stands for "conservative political action committee," and the action you would THINK they would like to be politically responsible for is the election of conservative lawmakers to enact a platform and state an agenda. As of 2020, there is none, except supporting the American Orange Fuhrer. CPAC is meeting in Hungary, home of authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán, who has packed the courts, squelched the news down to a cheerleading outlet, attacked the LGBT in his country (guilty of the crime of EXISTING), rigged elections to where he cannot lose, demonized minorities and added to that antisemitism. Just the kind of country American Conservatives cum fascists (prior to WWII, there was a German American Bund that openly supported Hitler and the Nazis) would love to form in the US.

The Growth and Opportunity Project stated things that the right has thus far refused to do: change, evolve, give up the "Southern Strategy," start sounding less racist and appeal to more minorities, and young people. In other words, a functional political party would have taken the 2012 election loss as a wake-up call to course-correct.

What we are currently experiencing isn't a functional party. The party went from GOP to INGSOC, from Mitt Romney to a Boy From Brazil that had a copy of Hitler's speeches on his nightstand, that he obviously read. What he leads is more a Congress of sociopaths, people fearful of the changes their hubris wouldn't let them make. The percentage of black republicans has dwindled steadily since the 2000 RNC convention, but the New York Times managed to cobble a few together to make a point that fascists somehow have "inroads" with the African American community after Associate-Designate Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson survived what amounted to a Klan coven. Yeah: inroads.

If the DNC isn't making attack ads with the material the insurrection party gave during her marathon, disrespectful confirmation hearings, it amounts to bringing a butter knife to a bazooka fight. It is political malpractice. Batman doesn't negotiate with the Joker: he pummels him and sends him back to Arkham. He does it as many times as necessary.

Racists could care less about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and fascists ONLY care about their "superiority" and making sure the necks they stamp on never shift from their places. Put on your flack jackets and gear up for piles of manure dressed up as political discourse. Get ready for malware blackouts and excuses that this direct attack on our homeland is somehow "our fault" because a psychopath believed his yes men, and got out over his skis. Like Dumbo Gambino, we're finding out the "stable geniuses" are all flatulence and hype.

In the words of Star Trek (any version): "red alert. Shields up!"

 

 

 

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Leverage and Looting...

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Image Source: Storytelling for Everyone

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Fascism, Politics

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of doors, gates, and transitions. Janus represented the middle ground between both concrete and abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end, youth/adulthood, rural/urban, war/peace, and barbarism/civilization.

Source: Anderson Lock Blog (they're apparently locksmiths and historians on the side)

Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression runs on the money Russia gets by selling fossil fuels to Europe. And while Ukraine has, incredibly, repelled Russia’s attempt to seize Kyiv, Putin won’t be definitively stopped until Europe ends its energy dependence.

This means that Germany — whose political and business leaders insist that they can’t do without Russian natural gas, even though many of its own economists disagree — has in effect become Putin’s prime enabler. This is shameful; it is also incredibly hypocritical given recent German history.

The background: Germany has been warned for decades about the risks of becoming dependent on Russian gas. But its leaders focused on the short-run benefits of cheap energy and ignored those warnings. On the eve of the Ukraine war, 55 percent of German gas came from Russia.

There’s no question that quickly cutting off, or even greatly reducing, this gas flow would be painful. But multiple economic analyses — from the Brussels-based Bruegel Institute, the International Energy Agency, and ECONtribute, a think tank sponsored by the Universities of Bonn and Cologne — have found that the effects of drastically reducing gas imports from Russia would be far from catastrophic to Germany.

How Germany Became Putin’s Enabler, Paul Krugman, New York Times Opinion

Humans are the only obstacle to enacting renewable energy, and it is because of the secular gods we worship.

The European term "oligarch" has come into vogue because of Russia's war crimes in Ukraine. "Oligarchy: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes," Merriam-Webster. The Austin Chronicle wrote a prescient piece in 2010: "Letters at 3 AM: 'O' is for Oligarchy," and the 2014 essay by professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page: "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (Cambridge University Press). The end of the abstract:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

In what follows, we briefly review the four theoretical traditions that form the framework for our analyses and highlight some of the most prominent empirical research associated with each. We then describe our data and measures and present our results. We conclude by discussing the implications of our work for understanding American democracy and by identifying some of the directions for future research that our findings suggest.

Neither 2010 nor 2014 targeted Russian oligarchs. Our versions are called billionaires.

Investopedia definition of "billionaire":

The term billionaire refers to an individual with assets or a net worth of at least one billion currency units in their native currency such as dollars, euros, or pounds. Billionaires are extremely rich, with assets ranging from cash and cash equivalents to real estate, as well as business and personal property.

Subtracting liabilities from assets results in an individual's net worth. A billionaire's assets generally include things like cash and liquid investments, personal property such as real estate, jewelry, cars and other vehicles, and furniture. Business interests such as equipment and commercial properties are also included if the individual has a personal stake in a corporation.

Billionaires make up a small and very elite club of powerful individuals—both men and women—in the world. These people control enormous sums of money and the power and influence that comes with it.

Russian oligarchs steal their monies from Russian citizens and hide their gain in America, England, France: anywhere other than the places and eleven time zones that they live.

The Pandora Papers revealed the offshore shell game our plucky, Ayn Rand billionaire class (as well as some millionnaire celebrities we may LIKE) use to shield their money from taxes: the British Virgin Island, Belize, Samoa. American oligarchs own politicians, mostly in the Republican Party, but then there's Joe Manchin and Kristen Senema. The Democratic Leadership Council once embraced a "third way," ostensibly to siphon a lot of that American oligarch blood money to their election coffers, just like their Republican colleagues. It just meant they couldn't pay that much attention to African Americans, Hispanics, the LGBT, Women, and their concerns. Blue-collar workers, feeling rightly abandoned, fled to the former Grand Old Party, fed a steady forty-year diet of white grievance minstrelsy through AM talk radio, Fox Propaganda, and its myriad clones on sponsored networks and Internet cult personalities. After forty years of gaslighting, the minstrelsy has produced performance artists masquerading as politicians.

Gregg Abbott wants to bus immigrants at the border to Washington. He hasn't done anything since the deep freeze in Texas revealed their independent, libertarian ERCOT grid wasn't ready for the impact of climate change. Speaking of that, Texas climatologists are warning conditions are favoring a long drought this summer, summers that routinely hover around triple digits on the regular. Droughts mean fires, and evacuations like the ones we've seen in California are more likely. But no matter. Book banning. Bounties on women that exercise their rights to abortion (for now). Busing immigrants that I assume he'll have to "round up" (I doubt that, nor fighting drought fires is cheap, and he can't just stick the blue Texans with the bill). Book banning. Bounties. Critical Race Theory. Priorities.

A single individual making $100,000 per year will make a million in a decade. That same person would need 10,000 years to make their first billion dollars, or storage places for the monies in countries that they don't live in, and pliable politicians and banks to hide the theft.

Fossil fuels give American and Russian oligarchs leverage over the rest of the planet. Whether your grocers are Cosco, Harris Teeter, HEB, Kroger, Sam's Club, or Stop and Shop, the cost of food is directly proportional to the price of gas the truck driver has to pay at the pump to deliver it. The cost of gas is directly in your face at the pump. Students are paying legal loan sharks for the cost of education in America, more than in any other similar industrialized nation. Thus homeownership is falling among young Americans. Five-thirty-eight says they're leaving organized religion, and that might have a direct correlation to student loan payments that prevent them from moving out of their parent's house, settling down, and paying tithes and offerings as well as the aforementioned grievance minstrelsy. Churches without young people become museums. But the cost of living is leverage oligarchs execute over the populations of their countries. As many misgivings as I have for Elon Musk, we need SpaceX and other launch systems to get to the International Space Station or any other endeavor we pursue. Soyez isn't a space program: it's leverage.

Janus represented the middle ground between both concrete and abstract dualities such as life/death, beginning/end, youth/adulthood, rural/urban, war/peace, and barbarism/civilization.

Or, clean energy and extortion, existence and extinction, authoritarianism and democracy.

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Dystopian and Unthinkable...

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An activist holds a candle during a vigil in Lafayette Park for nurses who died during the COVID-19 pandemic on January 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Topics: Civics, COVID-19, Epidemiology, Existentialism, Politics

With all due respect to the recently departed former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, she started using the phrase "indispensable nation" after political reporter Sydney Blumenthal coined it. From Foreign Policy Magazine:

In his memoir of the Clinton presidency, The Clinton Wars, Blumenthal elaborated on what the phrase was intended to represent: “Only the United States had the power to guarantee global security: without our presence or support, multilateral endeavors would fail.” Albright, then secretary of state, began using the phrase often, and most prominently in February 1998, while defending the policy of coercive diplomacy against Iraq over its limited cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors when, during an interview on the “Today Show,” she said: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.”

The Myth of the Indispensable Nation, Micah Zenko, Foreign Policy

Though politically expedient, and in the parlance of activism, it "chants" well, we're not indispensable, nor are we exceptional. We allowed the worst of a pandemic to spread by ineptitude and Twitter addiction, science denialism, and conspiracy theory. Since the introduction of cable news and siloes of news consumption, we have citizens that believe in different versions of reality. It puts the "United States" in the realm of the oxymoron.

Now, we're at this grim milestone. Conservatives live to push buttons, "own the libs," grift off culture issues, and keep their constituents at high levels of anxiety and anger with right-wing echo chambers to ensure they vote for them to "own the libs." Progressives think high-minded logic, social media presence, "woke-ness," diversity, equity, and inclusion by proximity will produce a Star Trek utopia, because of high-minded logic. I purposely made each perspective a grammatical ouroboros. We're at a grim milestone because our major political parties have wholly different means of evaluating reality, and because compromise is frowned upon: "DINO, RINO." There are dark, nefarious forces that only the well-connected to Q-drops or Alex Jones can decipher.

431,000 non-farm jobs were added, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%. Yet, the 46th president's approval numbers are in the toilet largely because he isn't as entertaining as the last spastic, pathologically lying, hand-waving caricature of a mob boss with a dead ferret toupee, a metaphor for a lifetime of hiding hard truths from himself.

We are codependent on being perpetually angry, and not wed to the idea of speaking to our neighbors who might not consume the same media. We thus base our understanding of the world and facts on separate lenses we view reality through.

Tom Nichols, former professor at Annapolis Naval Academy, opined about "The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters" in 2017, and it doesn't look like we've turned a corner from that analysis of our national death spiral. Because we can "Google it," we're a Dunning-Kruger nation of narcissists and debase people who put a lot of work into understanding how the world works. We are a byword and a proverb. We are Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle."

“The whole idea of a democratic application of skepticism is that everyone should have the essential tools to effectively and constructively evaluate claims to knowledge.”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Good Reads

*****

Laura Jackson feels the loss of her husband Charlie like she is missing a part of herself. He died of COVID early in the pandemic, on May 17, 2020, just weeks after the couple celebrated his 50th birthday. Charlie was an Army veteran who served in Iraq during Desert Storm, and Laura finds herself returning to images of war and loss—to those who have lost a limb but still feel its phantom tingle, who unthinkingly reach for a glass of water or try to step out of bed before realizing what has been lost forever. Even now she still turns to find Charlie, eager to share a joy or a disappointment, only to remember with a jolt that there is a missing space where he once was.

“I don’t know that you ever get over it,” says Jackson, who lives in Charlotte, N.C. “Your person who was supposed to be there for life—to have that tragically ripped away has been a huge, huge adjustment to make.”

The U.S. will record one million confirmed deaths from COVID in the next several weeks. This toll is likely an undercount because there are more than 200,000 other excess deaths that go beyond typical mortality rates, caused in part by the lingering effects of the disease and the strain of the pandemic. These immense losses are shaping our country—how we live, work, and love, how we play and pray and learn and grow.

“We will see the rippling effects of the pandemic on our society and the way it impacts individuals for generations,” says Nyesha Black, director of demographic research at the University of Alabama. “This is definitely a huge marker in the way we will think about society moving forward—it will be that anchor event.” COVID has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer.

These deaths have wide-ranging consequences. The effects on children may be the longest-lasting. In the U.S., an estimated 243,000 children have lost a caregiver to COVID—including 194,000 who lost one or both parents—and the psychological and economic aftershocks can have lifetime negative impacts on their education and career.

What One Million COVID Dead Mean for the U.S.’s Future, Melody Schreiber, Scientific American

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Breadbaskets and War...

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Image Source: Hub Pages

Topics: Biology, Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Democracy, Existentialism, Politics

The cornucopia’s history lies in Greek mythology. There are a lot of different stories it might have originated from, but the most common one tells the story of the lightning god, Zeus. As an infant, Zeus was in great danger from his father, Cronus. Zeus was taken to the island of Crete and cared for and nursed by a goat named Amalthea. One day, he accidentally broke off one of her horns, and in order to repay her, he used his powers to ensure that the horn would be a symbol of eternal nourishment, which is where we get the idea that the cornucopia represents abundance.

The History Behind the “Horn of Plenty”, Winnie Lam, Daily Nexus

*****

Russia’s war highlights the fragility of the global food supply — sustained investment is needed to feed the world in a changing climate.

Six boxes of wheat seed sit in our cold store. This is the first time in a decade that my team has not been able to send to Ukraine the improved germplasm we’ve developed as part of the Global Wheat Program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Texcoco, Mexico. International postal and courier services are suspended. The seed had boosted productivity year on year in the country, which is now being devastated by war.

Our work builds on the legacy of Norman Borlaug, who catalyzed the Green Revolution and staved off famine in South Asia in the 1970s. Thanks to him, I see how a grain of wheat can affect the world.

Among the horrifying humanitarian consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are deeply troubling short-, medium- and long-term disruptions to the global food supply. Ukraine and Russia contribute nearly one-third of all wheat exports (as well as almost one-third of the world’s barley and one-fifth of its corn, providing an estimated 11% of the world’s calories). Lebanon, for instance, gets 80% of its wheat from Ukraine alone.

Broken bread — avert global wheat crisis caused by invasion of Ukraine, Alison Bentley, Nature

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Kalashnikovs and Switchblades...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Note: Coming up for air (briefly). Still writing the dissertation. My plan is to post Tuesday - Friday of next week. Blogging will be my sanity in an insane world.

Using pictures out of Ukraine showing a crumpled metallic airframe, open-source analysts of the conflict there say they have identified images of a new sort of Russian-made drone, one that the manufacturer says can select and strike targets through inputted coordinates or autonomously. When soldiers give the Kalashnikov ZALA Aero KUB-BLA loitering munition an uploaded image, the system is capable of “real-time recognition and classification of detected objects” using artificial intelligence (AI), according to the Netherlands-based organization Pax for Peace (citing Jane’s International Defence Review). In other words, analysts appear to have spotted a killer robot on the battlefield.

Russia may have used a killer robot in Ukraine. Now what? Zachary Kallenborn, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

And we have Switchblades.

President Biden signed a bill allocating 800 million dollars of military aid short of an official no-fly zone by either US forces or NATO. It does include anti-aircraft missiles and drones, specifically the Switchblade. Both organizations have argued establishment of a no-fly zone isn't casual: it means enemy planes will be challenged in the air, and enemy planes, Russian planes, if not retreating, will be shot down. We then go from World War Two and one half to WWIII.

Wars are like avalanches. They may start with a snow flurry someone rounds into a snowball. Someone, a child perhaps, throws it innocently. As it descends the incline of a mountain, it gathers speed and adds mass. By the time it reaches civilization, the accumulated mass and momentum make it all but impossible to divert or stop. It starts with a snow flurry, then it escalates. Tit for tat. Switchblades for Kalashnikovs.

There are some things that give me simultaneously hope and concern:

Casualties: The Russians have lost more troops in three weeks than the US lost in 20 years in Afghanistan.

Cyberwarfare: It hasn't happened. The Russian GRU used ransomware to shut down Colonial Pipeline. The threat of shutting down power in Ukraine (or here): hasn't happened.

Putin was a mid-level bureaucrat in the KGB, and not looked at as an asset. He had one main talent of getting kompromat - compromising information - and using it to leverage someone to betray their country for Russia. His problem is like his Manchurian Candidate in America that he pushed into the presidency, he's a malignant narcissist, and quite the opposite of a "strongman." He, like the former faux billionaire host of "The Apprentice," is acting. Two euphemisms come to mind: "fake it until you make it" and "faking the funk."

To answer that question, you have to understand the power and information ecosystems around dictators. I’ve studied and interviewed despots across the globe for more than a decade. In my research, I’ve persistently encountered a stubborn myth—of the savvy strongman, the rational, calculating despot who can play the long game because he (and it’s typically a he) doesn’t have to worry about pesky polls or angry voters. Our elected leaders, this view suggests, are no match for the tyrant who gazes into the next decade rather than fretting about next year’s election.

Reality doesn’t conform to that rosy theory.

Autocrats such as Putin eventually succumb to what may be called the “dictator trap.” The strategies they use to stay in power tend to trigger their eventual downfall. Rather than being long-term planners, many make catastrophic short-term errors—the kinds of errors that would likely have been avoided in democratic systems. They hear only from sycophants and get bad advice. They misunderstand their population. They don’t see threats coming until it’s too late. And unlike elected leaders who leave the office to riches, book tours, and the glitzy lifestyle of a statesman, many dictators who miscalculate leave office in a casket, a possibility that makes them even more likely to double down.

Vladimir Putin Has Fallen Into the Dictator Trap, Brian Klaas, The Atlantic

At Nuremberg, Hermann Goering was asked by Gustave Gilbert as to “why he and the others had been such abject “yes men,” Goering replied: “Please show me a ‘no man’ in Germany who is not six feet under the ground today.”

Yes Men and No Men: Hermann Goering and Johannes Steinhoff in the Age of Trump, The Inglorious Padre Steve's World

The "Dictator's Trap" is set by his narcissism (it almost always is a male pronoun leader). Unable to "handle the truth," he surrounds himself with yes men, whose careers and livelihoods are directly proportional to their degree of sycophancy. In sadistic cases, their lives depend on kowtowing to limbo levels. People do tend to get shot, poisoned, die of radiation poisoning, and fall spontaneously out of windows in the eleven-time zone prison known as Russia. He's also such a pathological liar, and so keenly good at gaslighting, he has a tendency to believe his [own] press, thus gaslighting himself.

I don't speak Russian. However, the body language in this rant (Twitter link below) is shouting to the rooftops. This man is panicking.

He didn’t house arrest his intelligence chiefs because he’s displeased: they’re KGB like him. He’s isolating the competition for power before he outright eliminates them.

I don’t speak Russian, but I can tell when someone is terrified:

This is not only a nutball fascist rant, but man, it is *full* of projection. Putin's own inner circle could be the people he's talking about - and especially their children, who are watching all of this from London and Paris, and New York. Tom Nichols, @RadioFreeTom

When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard. Sun Tzu, "The Art of War."

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Fifth-Column Fascists...

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Propaganda

Note: I will be attending the funeral of my brother-in-law. I will take a blog break to mourn.

[A] fifth column, clandestine group or faction of subversive agents who attempt to undermine a nation’s solidarity by any means at their disposal. The term is conventionally credited to Emilio Mola Vidal, a Nationalist general during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). As four of his army columns moved on Madrid, the general referred to his militant supporters within the capital as his “fifth column,” intent on undermining the loyalist government from within.

A cardinal technique of the fifth column is the infiltration of sympathizers into the entire fabric of the nation under attack and, particularly, into positions of policy decision and national defense. From such key posts, fifth-column activists exploit the fears of a people by spreading rumors and misinformation, as well as by employing the more standard techniques of espionage and sabotage. Source: Britannica.com

When I saw this, it was usually on a UHF channel after school. The subtle racist trope against Japan happens at the 2:42 mark, tarnishing its brilliance. (In light of our current appeal to diversity, equity, and inclusion, I'm preparing you for the shock.) The cartoon was produced in 1943, and the stated Axis powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan. Inclusivity wasn't the point: rage to continue the fight, then, and now, delivers a potent message. The cartoon served as a simple illustration of what a fifth column infiltrator, or in this case, internal grey-colored collaborator mouse, A.K.A. Tucker Carlson, looks like.

Tucker Carlson again questions why the US would side with Ukraine over Russia, Sinéad Baker, Insider.com

"My office is now getting calls from folks who say they watch Tucker Carlson and are upset that we're not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine, and who want me to support Russia's 'reasonable' positions," Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) said in a tweet on Monday afternoon.

Democrat says Tucker Carlson viewers telling his office the US should side with Russia, Dominick Mastrangelo, TheHill.com

Do you know whose parents immigrated from Ukraine? Leonard Nimoy, who gave us the "live long and prosper" Mr. Spock salute from his Jewish synagogue traditions.

Public-opinion polling shows that Trump’s low opinion of American elections has practically become Republican Party orthodoxy. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Republicans have an “unprecedented” level of “concern and mistrust in the system.” Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it’ll be due to fraud. In both this poll and an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, only half of Republicans say they’d accept a Clinton victory. (In the latter poll, by contrast, 82 percent of Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory.)

This suspicious Republican electorate is joined by growing ranks of conservative politicians, pundits, and intellectuals. They’re all increasingly willing to say that the existing American political system is hopelessly flawed and needs to be rolled back to the days before blacks and women could vote. On the most obvious level, this can be seen in moves by Republican governors all over America to make voting more difficult, through stringent voting ID laws, new hurdles to registration, and the curtailment of early-voting options. Equally significant has been the gutting of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act by conservative Supreme Court justices in the 2013 Shelby Country v. Holder ruling.

The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy, Jeet Heer, The New Republic, October 24, 2016

Speaking of mice: Tennessee is blocking the graphic novel, Maus (I ordered it). 1/27/2022 yesterday was the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The 1619 Project by Nicole Hannah-Jones is being referred to BY name and blocked. Reich Wing governments in red states are blocking Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved." "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee can hurt fragile feelings, this sentiment from people who mocked the left, and wore t-shirts to tell us: "F Your Feelings." Yeah.

On Wednesday, the Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. appeared on Oprah Winfrey's celebratory post-election special. After learning the news, Gates says, "we jumped up, we wept, we hooped and hollered." It is hard to overestimate the historical significance of the election of the first black U.S. President. For many blacks, and certainly, for much of the country and world, Obama's victory is an extraordinary step toward the redemption of America's original 400-year-old sin. It is astonishing not least for its quickness, coming just 145 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation effectively ending slavery and four decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. And it is even more astonishing for its decisiveness — Obama carried Virginia, once the home of the Confederacy, a place whose laws just five decades ago would have made the interracial union of his parents illegal. (See pictures of Barack Obama's family tree.)

What Obama's Election Really Means to Black America, Steven Gray, TIME, November 6, 2008

What Obama's election meant to White America was the eruption of racist tropes in the form of Obama-as-Hitler, Obama-as-Medicine-Man-Voodoo-Mystic, Obama-hung-in-effigy. The right-Reich-wing echo chamber kicked into high gear on television, podcasts, the Internet, and AM talk radio. White America was telling Black America precisely what they thought of having a black president. We weren't in "post-racial America," and the years of detente between the cultures was a smokescreen, a strong delusion.

Despite the fact that the 46th president has appointed more judges than any other president, despite the fact that the economy has grown faster than my senior year in college as an undergrad (1984), the Orwellian programming has his numbers in the statistical toilet. My theory is because 1. he's competent, 2. he's boring, which is largely what he promised after four years of 140-character COVFEFE-misspelled rage tweeting and genuflecting to Vladimir Putin from his megalomaniacal predecessor. What matters in our entertainment-first-news-later fourth estate of "journalism" is rage viewing, ratings, and clicks. We have forgotten what "normal" looks like if we ever knew.

We are ignoring the fifth column among us. They are armed. They want to "take their country back," as Glenn Beck (unvaccinated, caught covid TWO times) led chants at the Lincoln Memorial on August 27, 2010. "In 2012, a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey reported that Fox News viewers were less informed about current events than people who didn't follow the news at all." (This is FORBES! Read that again at the link.) The fifth column is pissed that they have to now share with "others": African Americans, Asian Americans, First Nation Peoples, Hispanics, Immigrants, LGBT, women, and haven't shared well since kindergarten. Sharing power is what happens when a democracy diversifies, and they have shown - from their electorate, their elected officials, their contrived laws to block votes, their propaganda outlets, and their brown shirts, to have little interest in doing that.

Watch what you're watching

Fox keeps feeding us toxins

Stop sleepingStart thinking outside of the box

And unplug from the Matrix doctrine

But watch what you say,

Big Brother is watching

Watch what you're watching

Fox keeps feeding us toxins
Stop sleeping
Start thinking outside of the box
And unplug from the Matrix doctrine
But watch what you say,

Fox Five is watching

"Sly Fox," by Nas, Genius Lyrics, and YouTube

We are whistling in the dark on the road to fascism.

2 Thessalonians 2:11 "And for this, cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had to pleasure in unrighteousness."

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire

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Endgame...

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Source: Marvel Disney Plus

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights, Fascism

Happy New Year, of a sort.

This kind of post would appear on a Friday, but it appears today on the one-year anniversary of an insurrection that one party that attempted it, is denying that they did try to overthrow the government.

"Problem 1. Suppose that we use a revolver with six chambers and one bullet. Calculate the probability of death of the first man mathematically.

"Suppose that players A and B play the game, and A is the first player. A takes up the gun in the first round and pulls the trigger. This time the probability of his death is 1/6.

"If A survives, then in the second round, B takes up the gun and does the same, and if B survives, then in the third round, A takes up the gun and does the same thing.

"Let’s calculate the probability of A’s death in the third round. If A is to die in the third round, A must survive the first round. The probability of survival for A in the first round is 5/6. After that, B has to survive in the second round. There are only five chambers and one bullet, so the probability of survival is 4/5. Then there are four chambers and one bullet, and the resulting probability of death is ¼.

"Therefore, the probability of death for A in the third round is 5/6 x 4/5 x ¼.

"As to the probability of A’s death in the fifth round, we can do almost the same calculation, and we get 5/6 x 4/5 x ¾ x 2/3 x ½.

"Finally, the probability of death of the first player A is 1/6 + (5/6 x 4/5 x ¼) + (5/6 x 4/5 x ¾ x 2/3 x ½) = 3/6 = ½."

From: "Elementary Theory of Russian Roulette: interesting patterns of fractions," Satoshi Hashiba, Daisuke Minematsu, Ryohei Miyadera

It's serendipity that the date of the modern attempted overthrow of our Democratic Republic, 1/6/2021, corresponds with "Russian" Roulette.

I've been asking myself this same question over again: "what is the endgame?" The Republican Party in 2016 at the influence of the convicted (and indebted) campaign manager, Paul Manifort, dropped any mention of opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine. In 2020, they opted for the "Seinfeld Platform" of nothing and garnered 7 million MORE votes than the previous attempt to usurp democracy.

In the summer of 2016, McCarthy endorsed Trump for President, but only after the In the summer of 2016, McCarthy endorsed Trump for President, but only after the interloper from New York had sewn up the nomination. A year later, it emerged that, in June of 2016, McCarthy had told some of his fellow members of the House Republican leadership that he believed—“swear to God”—that Trump was in the pay of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. When the Washington Post eventually reported about these comments, McCarthy tried to laugh them off as a joke.

The G.O.P. Can No Longer Be Relied On to Protect Democracy, John Cassidy, December 12, 2020, The New Yorker

The United States is marginally both a democratic republic and so-called "Christian" nation because of its slow expansion of citizenship to the marginalized: African American men, white women with the 19th Amendment, August 18, 1920, and black women finally with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Immigrants, LGBT, refugees are slowly gaining rights only afforded by our "Founding Fathers" (or narcissistic sociopaths) to "propertied white men." The current majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, has scheduled a vote to debate the Voting Rights Bills in the chamber, and if Moscow Mitch et al elected fascists follow past precedent, they will block the bill with a cowardly email. A workaround could be making the Republican Senators debate it on C-SPAN and explain WHY they DO NOT want the franchise to expand any further. They won't do that of course, essentially making opposition attack ads of themselves acting like buffoons, or mean tweeting Big Bird. It will likely be blocked by the tweedle dee, tweedle dumb dynamic duo of Mazarati Man-Chin, Firebrand liberal-turned-Blue Dog Kirsten Sinema, who seems to miss that "Don't Look UP" is a parody of politicians like herself.

The real answer is, even in the numerical majority in the Senate, republicans represent fewer actual voters than democrats. As of 2019, California registers 39.51 million citizens; Wyoming (Liz Cheney and her father's state) has 578,759. Each state gets two senators. So theoretically would Washington, DC at 692,683, more than Wyoming, but most likely, those senators would not be republicans, but democrats. And Republicans have only won the popular vote under the two Bush's, meaning their policies only appeal to oligarchs.

Tucker Carlson has almost given up the game by softball interviewing the authoritarian dictator Viktor Orbán on his propaganda network, then CPAC is going "full Borat" by hosting an American conservative conference in a foreign country that's NOT a democracy. Projection, much?

So, what's the endgame? Are we "fascism fluid"; "authoritarian curious"? I don't think we have to wait for more than one more round of this existential Russian republic roulette.

What happens to the other world democracies if the largest, most powerful in human history disintegrates into a pile of feces? I don't expect a band of family dysfunctional superheroes is going to save us. Nor do I think Bezos, Branson, or Musk are going to save humanity by cracking the mystery of "warp drive" (don't hold your breath). If they could, do you think they wouldn't CHARGE an exorbitant fee to ride The Enterprise? In this case, Bill Maher has a valid point. It's made us infantile and "Waiting for Godot."

Lastly, cute curtseys won't save us from being a proverb, a byword, and a laughable mistake. Franklin's statement: "A republic, if you can keep it" is currently in doubt.

 

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Image Source: Facebook

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Star Trek

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

― Buckminster Fuller, Good Reads, Bio: Wikipedia

What do borders do, mean, and look like in different parts of the world? How are they decided? Who or what might they protect? How might they do harm? How and why might they change?

Countries protect their borders for several reasons. This is especially true in areas where two or more countries have fought over the same land. Cambodia and Thailand are countries in Southeast Asia. They have disputed the territory of the Preah Vihear Temple for more than a century.

Sometimes, borders keep citizens from leaving a country. Nations like North Korea, Myanmar, and Cuba rarely allow their residents to cross their borders.

Many border disputes happen when people fight over natural resources. Natural resources are anything a person can use that comes from the natural environment. The countries of Sudan and Egypt have argued for years over a region called Hala'ib. Hala'ib is rich in the mineral manganese, a natural resource. Manganese is important for making iron and steel.

Border problems often come up when people from other regions take over an area and create borders. During the 1800s and 1900s, European countries colonized much of Africa. In other words, outsiders from Europe moved into Africa. They took control of the people there. They took the land as their own. European colonists created the borders of most African countries. However, the borders they made often did not always consider the different groups living in an area.

Excerpts from "Overview: What Are Borders?" Facing History

The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary examines the modern-day corporation. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary.

A sequel film, The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, was released in 2020.

The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon corporations in North America, especially in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the Supreme Court of the United States in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison Waite led to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Source: The Corporation (2003 film), Wikipedia, related: The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel

In a Google Internet search on "the mythology of race," a book that's in my library is in the upper right-hand corner of my search page: "'The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea' is a book by anthropologist Robert Wald Sussman arguing that race is not, and never has been, a valid biological category in humans." As humans migrated out of Africa, they landed in places that didn't have the direct UV light of the equatorial sun. Lack of sunlight, eating or discovering foods native to their new lands, humans like any other animal adapted, and changed appearances with respect to their environments. In Europe, they didn't require Melanin, their hair straightened in the harsh arctic winters. Over time, all they saw was "them," and as long as everyone looked the same, the only thing that spurred conflict was covetousness: property, livestock, attractive lovers, and wives. Once trinkets, bobbles, and currency replaced barter, that encouraged hoarding, and comparisons between neighbors: who has the most "stuff?" As men explored other parts of the globe and found "them" and their stuff, there had to be a justification for taking their stuff as their own, for "some" having most, and "others" having the least. We are at the tipping point in the struggle to maintain three legal fictions: borders, corporations, and racial categories.

  • You are NOT in our borders: Mecca, 'Murica, "the promised land," the European Union, Wakanda forever. We are "us," and you are "them": you do not count, you are un-people.
  • No Mitt Romney, "corporations are not people." The robber barons used a boondoggle of the 14th Amendment to confer to themselves and their progeny unlimited power. People have lifespans: corporations are practically immortal psychopaths.
  • Until we find evidence of intelligent Martians, there is only ONE race, the human race.

Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù]) is a Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity". It is sometimes translated as "I am because we are" (also "I am because you are"), or "humanity towards others" (in Zulu, umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu). Wikipedia

The aforementioned legal fictions are stifling our development as a species, but enriching the fat pockets of toxic, pathological families that consider themselves royalty, and worthy of worship (and have personality cults to do just that). At our current juncture, world government - genuine cooperation - is laughable. The conned danger of "others" makes us reinforce our borders, erect our walls, intern refugees in Libya, violating human rights with impunity. If there are any vaccines, the so-called First World Nations will receive the jabs first. Our performance during a pandemic has been pitiful. COP26 was whiter than the Oscars due to southern hemisphere nations (i.e., brown people) didn't receive the mRNA vaccines to ARGUE [about] that northern hemisphere nations (i.e., white folks) received first. So for safety reasons, browner nations were placed in political Zoom purgatory as the climate change can is kicked down the road.

The feckless mismanagement of Chief Justice John Roberts over his five radical brethren practically sealed the fate of the former Supreme Court: irrelevance. "Stare decisis is Latin for 'to stand by things decided.' In short, it is the doctrine of precedent. Courts cite stare decisis when an issue has been previously brought to the court and a ruling has already been issued. … Horizontal stare decisis refers to a court adhering to its own precedent" Cornel Law. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, there is no such thing as precedent. Expect same-sex marriage to fall next. After that, voting rights for African Americans, then all women's rights RBG fought for. Avalanches begin with a single snowflake. On the calendar, we barrel to the future; legally we'd be pre-Brown.

Oh, and the "gang of Putin" is chomping at the bit for another government shutdown, because Saint Ronnie saying "government is the problem" started a party grift that hasn't abated in 41 years, managing to "trickle-down" zero dividends, but trickle-up tax cuts without fail. They'd rather do important things like reading Dr. Suess in the well of the Senate or having Twitter battles with Big Bird.

Fear of the Antichrist - a malevolent narcissistic psychopath in a man suit - and the bloodlust for Armageddon fuels our current lunacy. It will not be benevolent aliens, a United Federation of Planets, superluminal space drives, or Heisenberg-defying matter re-sequencers that will spur the elimination of class struggle (and money, apparently). It will be global cooperation heretofore unseen.

"I am because we are." "I am because you are."

Such a world revolves around Ubuntu. We sadly seem bereft of its precepts.

Since it begins with "u" it must be associated with utopia: "nowhere place."

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Willful Ignorance...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Existentialism, History, Human Rights

There is a high price for willful ignorance.

The above is Dr. Carl Sagan, an Astrophysicist, five years fresh off of the success of the original Cosmos series. He’s speaking about mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases, what is now referred to as global warming in 1985. The administration was Reagan and Bush I in the first year of their lame duck, a little before the Iran-Contra scandal.

This address to Congress is thirty-six years before COP26, which because the rich European and wealthy nations have refused to pay climate reparations, we are whistling in the dark towards a climate tipping point that we will not be able to escape by penis rockets, virtual reality, or opiates.

The mitigation ideas he suggested weren’t that radical and could have been put in place before our current crisis of once-in-a-century storms on almost a monthly basis (take, for example, Washington State’s flooding). Each occurrence of “The Day After Tomorrow” is met with a collective, societal shrug as distractions are more alluring than impending disasters, unless it directly affects us, and interrupts our current video streaming, or Orwellian “reality TV.” We elected a narcissist in 2016 because WE are a nation of narcissists.

After a century of wielding extraordinary economic and political power, America’s petroleum giants face a reckoning for driving the greatest existential threat of our lifetimes.

An unprecedented wave of lawsuits, filed by cities and states across the US, aims to hold the oil and gas industry to account for the environmental devastation caused by fossil fuels – and cover up what they knew along the way.

Coastal cities struggling to keep rising sea levels at bay, midwestern states watching “mega-rains” destroy crops and homes, and fishing communities losing catches to warming waters, are now demanding the oil conglomerates pay damages and take urgent action to reduce further harm from burning fossil fuels.

Big oil and gas kept a dirty secret for decades. Now they may pay the price, Chris McGreal, The Guardian.

I read the print version of “O is for Oligarchy” in the Austin Chronicle in 2010. Prescient, as the consensus wouldn’t be reported in Business Insider (originally in The Telegraph by Zachary Davies Boren) until 2014. To be fair, Vox published a rebuttal to the oligarchy thesis two years later. Our collective experience belies the rebuke.

Our performance during this pandemic points to a system that is sluggish to the masses of people that funds its tax base, and lightning-fast for the 400 families in the US to get their needs met in whatever legislation they want to be pushed, and whatever new tax break they wish to receive. Critical thinking isn’t encouraged. Tribal “us, versus them” has been used to divide the masses since the founding of the republic, whether Native Americans, kidnapped Africans, women, LGBT, immigrants, genteel “wink-and-nod” racism cum “Critical Race Theory.” It is a con, passed down from father to scion, reinforced by exclusive gatherings at Bilderberg, the Bohemian Club, and Trilateral Commission. These were once the fodder of myth and conspiracy theories, but they actually have websites. I doubt if they’re discussing supporting the spread of democratic ideals across the globe. More likely, how to maintain the gaslighting of disdained "bewildered herds" of humanity and to continue to line their pockets.

They are, unfortunately, in an Ayn Rand-Atlas-Shrugged-Fountain-Head-Elysium of their own minds. A utopia of their zip codes, blithely unaware that as the poet John Donne stated, they are not gods, but “each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

As Dr. Carl Sagan pointed out to a young Senator Al Gore in 1985, before he rendered his concerns in PowerPoint slides to Nobel laureate and an Oscar for the related documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," and the aptly-named "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," pushing the problem off to future generations isn’t just intellectually lazy, it has in it a perverse and sadistic callousness. “Eat, drink, and be merry” now Epicurus, for indeed “tomorrow we may die.” However, tomorrow should not be one of the casualties in the pursuit of callous, temporal pleasures. For the lack of starships and despite exclusive cul de sacs, scions and serfs cohabit Terra Firma. I have ONE burning question:

How well can billions spend on a dystopian planet?

 

 

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Kristallnacht...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Amid the GOP's nationwide push against teaching about race and sexuality in schools, two members of the Spotsylvania County School Board in Virginia advocated for burning certain books, according to the Fredericksburg-based Free Lance-Star newspaper.

This came as the school board directed staff to begin removing "sexually explicit" books from library shelves, after voting 6-0 in favor of the removal, the Lance-Star reported. The board has plans to review how certain books or materials are defined as "objectionable," the paper said, which opens the door for other content to be removed.

Courtland representative Rabih Abuismail and Livingston representative Kirk Twigg both championed burning the books that have been removed.

"I think we should throw those books in a fire," Abuismail said. Meanwhile, Twigg said he wanted to "see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff."

November starts with the intensity of electoral politics. For other nations, the election cycle isn't "big business." The only similarity between The New York Times, and Newsmax is each follows a business model that relies on orchestrated anxiety and eyeballs. The "fourth estate" is yellow journalism now if it ever was something else noble.

Elections in other countries have weekends for early voting, and the event is a holiday in many places. The forces that don't want a "crisis of democracy" in the United States prefer to keep our current malaise at the slow speed of the status quo, and if possible, reverse time politically in defiance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and time's arrow.

November should be the time to remove the October festival/Halloween decorations and begin to think of family gatherings (that we can do now that vaccination rates are going up), and the gentle pressure to advertise the Christmas/Hannukah/Solstice season on radio, television, and department store muzak.

A synagogue in Austin was set ablaze. "Antisemitic and racist stickers and flyers were found at Ramsey Park in central Austin Tuesday morning," according to KXAN.com. The antisemites were arrested for their crimes.

Ryan Faircloth was arrested for firebombing the DNC headquarters in Austin, Texas. He was later released on a mere $2,500 bond. Elected officials are getting death threats. Election workers are getting death threats. This didn't have to happen. The model existed before 2016. Fascism is born of fear. The fear is they are going to be the numerical minority, that the default "norm" will no longer be white culture and Norman Rockwell greeting cards.

Bill O'Reilly harangued Dr. George Tiller ("Tiller, the baby killer") until he was murdered by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder.

Sarah Palin posted "don't retreat: RELOAD!" along with gunsights over the headquarters of democrats, including Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords. The conservative democrat survived an assassination attempt by Jared Lee Loughner, answering the call of the former Wasilla Mayor as if it came from Mount Sinai or Mount Olympus.

There is shouting at medical professionals, teachers in classrooms, and people wearing masks on planes, or in public places. For peace of mind, good people will not serve as election officials, seek public office, work in medicine, or education. Since "nature abhors a vacuum," we will see the rise of what used to be the mad quackery that John Boehner and Paul Ryan tolerated from Paul Gosar to "win." The quackery will become the center and the "Grand Old Party" is no longer the "Party of Lincoln," but a banana republic.

Terrorism (noun): the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

Reuters identified more than 100 threats of death or violence made to U.S. election workers and officials, part of an unprecedented campaign of intimidation inspired by Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. The response so far: only four known arrests and no convictions.

U.S. election workers get little help from law enforcement as terror threats mount, Campaign of Fear, Linda So and Jason Szep

"Kristallnacht, (German: “Crystal Night”), also called Night of Broken Glass or November Pogroms, was the night of November 9–10, 1938, when German Nazis attacked Jewish persons and property. The name Kristallnacht refers ironically to the litter of broken glass left in the streets after these pogroms. The violence continued during the day of November 10, and in some places, acts of violence continued for several more days."

Kristallnacht, Brittanica.com

It took eighty-three years to go from the pogroms of Europe to the Kristallnacht of America.

We are on the precipice of a dystopian apocalypse.

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The Incredible Callousness of Being…

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Title source: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a 1984 novel by Milan Kundera.

The White House correspondent slot is a coveted perch in Washington, DC, media real estate. After landing an excellent job and a press pass, a select few of journalism’s crème de la crème get to march through the White House gates and mix it up with the president’s inner circle; they get the chance, to tell the truth to power at the highest level, or at least to sit in on White House briefings and go to the White House correspondents’ dinner.

Some news organizations have sent reporters to the White House gaggle who have endured fame for their journalistic rigor and iconic visual profiles. Others—like the right-wing television channel Newsmax—seem to have missed the reasonableness memo.

Emerald Robinson, Newsmax’s White House correspondent, was taken to task this week for spewing some of the wildest COVID-19 vaccine disinformation seen on planet Earth to her 437,000 followers on Twitter. Robinson could simply have claimed that highly tested, safe, and effective coronavirus vaccines contain microchips that the government uses to track people. That would have been nonsense, but not far removed from a standard anti-vaxxer line. But Robinson made a more bizarre claim: She implied that the vaccines contain something even more devilish than microchips. The devil himself.

“Dear Christians, the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

What the hell? Newsmax correspondent thinks Satan is in COVID-19 vaccines, Matt Field, Bureau of Atomic Scientists

News flash: Beelzebub is not in your Covid vaccine. I’ve had both shots of Moderna and the booster. I have not spontaneously combusted, levitated furniture, cursed people out in Latin, or regurgitated pea soup (see: Linda Blair, in "The Exorcist").

The propaganda outlet’s title is Orwellian: nothing about it is “news,” nor is it superlative compared to all others.

If you’re a certain age, you recall the news by anchors like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Mike Wallace (Chris Wallace’s father). We had three stations, and a UHF channel on good days. The local news preceded the national news on ABC, CBS, and NBC. You had no idea who these gentlemen voted for. There was no “theme” to the channels: it was the news. Local and national news took ONE HOUR, it wasn't on repeat or loop, there were no smartphones with alerts. There was a morning, an evening newspaper that filled out the rest of what you needed to make sense of the world (we were in a Cold War with Russia). After that hour, the sitcoms and dramas filled the evening and did what they were supposed to do: entertain. There was no merger, no invention of "infotainment." It was what you needed as a citizen to make decisions about managing the republic. Every citizen had the responsibility of governance. Democrats could win one election, Republicans the next. The sacred text of the republic was The Constitution, it was sacrosanct.

Notice, I’m referring to our founding documents in the past tense.

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media so that they can serve our highest goals.

“A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.” –Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Showbusiness, Neil Postman

Another book by Neil Postman and Steve Powers: “How To Watch TV News.” A summary:

An important guide to understanding what you’re getting--and not getting--from TV news. Postman and Powers warn that anyone who relies exclusively on TV for knowledge of the world is making a serious mistake and suggest ways to intelligently evaluate TV news shows.

Add to that: Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter, et al. The sage advice is to read actual books, reputable sources of news, and maybe a course on critical thinking, and civics.

Emerald Robinson knew exactly what she was doing and probably knew enough to delete the tweet after it was sent. It’s the same excuse Rush Limbaugh used for his bombastic rants that were mantra from Budda for ditto heads: “I'm just an entertainer.” By stoking the rage-against-the-brown-boogiemen machine, Fox Propaganda, News Min, and Dumb Bart have made huge profits on what is arguably “white grievance minstrelsy,” previously known as “angry white men.” Neilsen ratings are another harangue, and television has one mission: product sales. It can be meal prep, travel businesses, or erectile dysfunction. "Soap Operas" was the self-pejorative of what are now the few daytime dramas that are left.

The Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial and the trial of the three murderers of Ahmaud Aubrey, miles distant from each other have the distinction of having ONE African American on the jury for EACH trial: 11:1. I was surprised by the Walter Scott murder trial verdict. I was surprised by the George Floyd murder trial verdict. For Briona Taylor and Trayvon Martin, the outcomes weren’t surprises, just infuriating.

There is a callousness to our discourse, as Carl Sagan once said "a celebration of ignorance." There is a difference between true ignorance, willful ignorance, and gaslighting. Ignorance is from a lack of information, that can be remedied. Willful ignorance is when you're speaking to an expert, reading a sourced document, and you willingly choose to combat the information, verbally, or physically, because it causes cognitive dissonance. Gaslighting is the tactic of an abuser, to make you question your reality. Emerald Robinson was gaslighting her Twitter followers, knowing it would get out into the Zeitgeist and fuel vaccine hesitancy, the main factor extending the pandemic her president bungled horribly. Gaslighting is abusive, but when you no longer question or resist the torture, you're a participant. O'Brien broke the will of Winston Smith in Orwell's "1984," there are as many fingers as O'Brien says there are.

For example, the elections Tuesday were predictable: every off-year election in Virginia and New Jersey has elected governors from the opposing party in the White House. The news media pounces on it: "it's a referendum on the current administration" they say, "it's a wakeup call to Democrats" says Kevin McCarthy, who manages to look like a howler monkey in a suit. With the exception of New Jersey, where Phil Murphy held on by a thread, that paradigm has repeated historically. Yet for eyeballs and detergent sales, cue the handwringing and pontification. Nielsen ratings.

Emerald Robinson preys on the existential fears of "the end times" by evangelicals steeped in the folklore and having watched a recent clip from the "Left Behind" series. From Hal Lindsey to Tim LaHay, eschatology is a lucrative business, unless the Chicxulub meteor hits before your booking on Morning Joe. "Christ Returns by 1988: 101 Reasons Why" has obviously fallen out of favor. It was quite a sensation in 1982.

Emerald would have been the head of the spear if the Virginia Governor's Race went Terry 'McAuliffe's way. There was obviously no "voter fraud," just bungling by McAuliffe, and defaulting to the comfortable by the DNC. McAuliffe is "known," but the Democratic Party needs to acknowledge its future isn't appealing to a dwindling white majority, but to constituents that look like "The Squad." Pretending otherwise, or deferring to 80s-style Democratic Leadership Council orthodoxy is political suicide.

Ms. Robinson would have contributed to whipping their audience into a dangerous, armed frenzy. Death Santis has a voter integrity bureau patterned after the Ministry of Truth, to intimidate legitimate voters, more or less brown voters, from participating in the franchise. Any election Republicans win is by definition legitimate. Any elections Democrats lose, they concede gracefully. Any elections Democrats win in the future will be fraudulent, and "stolen." The "Big Lie" is the only thing wanted from the previous occupant of the Oval Office. What they want is the obfuscation as a cudgel. That kind of propaganda leads to armed violence, and a failed state, not Florida: America.

This is not democracy. It is the fractured foundation of a crumbling republic.

I'm not sure if American companies, "woke" or otherwise, will come to our rescue. As long as the Stock Market functions, as long as product ships to customers, the one percent has always been socially distant with mansions in exclusive zip codes, in other countries, penis spaceships to visit Elysium, the investors, and boards will largely ignore societal collapse. The only devils are the architects of the "Big Lie." The hell is our slide into authoritarian rule, "not with a bang, but a whimper" (TS Eliot, "The Hollow Men").

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” William Shakespeare, "The Tempest."

 

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This Dragon...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, COVID-19, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

The Brainwashing of My Dad is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Jen Senko about her father's transformation from a nonpolitical Democrat into a political Republican. The film was mostly funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

Synopsis

As Jen Senko tries to understand the transformation of her father from a nonpolitical Democrat to an angry Republican fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under President Richard Nixon for a media takeover by the Republicans, the 1971 Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion (especially the media, universities, and courts), the 1987 dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine under President Ronald Reagan, and the signing of the 1996 Telecommunications Act under President Bill Clinton. The documentary aims to show how the media and the nation changed, which leads to questions about who owns the airwaves, what rights listeners and watchers have, and what responsibility the government has to keep the airwaves fair, accurate, and accountable. Wikipedia

In his book An Instinct for Dragons (2000), anthropologist David E. Jones suggests a hypothesis that humans, like monkeys, have inherited instinctive reactions to snakes, large cats, and birds of prey. A dragon is a large, serpentinelegendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. Commonalities between dragons' traits are often a hybridization of feline, avian, and reptilian features, and may include: snakelike features, reptilian scaly skin, four legs with three or four toes on each, spinal nodes running down the back, a tail, and a serrated jaw with rows of teeth. Several modern scholars believe huge extinct or migrating crocodiles bear the closest resemblance, especially when encountered in forested or swampy areas, and are most likely the template of modern dragon imagery. Wikipedia/Dragon again, though somewhat rearranged.

Jen Senko uses the strongly suggestive term "brainwashing," and in a few interviews I've heard her give (last one on Thom Hartmann), she alluded to the part of the brain referenced as the amygdala: "region of the brain primarily associated with emotional processes. The name amygdala is derived from the Greek word amygdale, meaning “almond,” owing to the structure’s almond-like shape. The amygdala is located in the medial temporal lobe, just anterior to (in front of) the hippocampus. Similar to the hippocampus, the amygdala is a paired structure, with one located in each hemisphere of the brain. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, a neural network that mediates many aspects of emotion and memory. Although historically the amygdala was considered to be involved primarily in fear and other emotions related to aversive (unpleasant) stimuli, it is now known to be involved in positive emotions elicited by appetitive (rewarding) stimuli." (Britannica) Because it is primitive, it's famously referred to as the reptilian brain (in Brain World Magazine, no less). Ms. Senko's thesis was simply that her once calm, middle-of-the-road liberal dad became a fire-breathing (pun intended) conservative through endless repetition in the right-wing echo chamber of the idea he had something to fear, or someone in the form of foreigners and people of color. Her dad ironically came to this country as an immigrant. But through a relentless repetition campaign worthy of, and plagiarizing propaganda techniques from the Creel Committee, he transformed. Ms. Senko's dad is "patient zero," of our present darkness.

This is [our] life

Lisa Ling did an excellent job on her "This Is Life" series on conspiracy theories in America, and that they aren't anything "new" to the national landscape. The problem is, it's been digitized, and monetized over social media such that the more outrageous, the more violent the content, the more money those same companies make. Despite the proven harm to young teen girls and a lot of adults, the solution is practiced inaction. The pattern is public Mea Culpa, then do nothing, claim to be a social media platform, but not a journalistic platform, because lies monetized are more lucrative than publishing the truth.

Part of the problem is the many times we as citizens have been lied to: the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, and the installation of the Shah over a democratically-elected leader of Iran in 1953. Nationalizing oil reserves gained the ire of the CIA, MI6, and British Petroleum. The sixties was an assassination decade, and theories of President Kennedy's assassination (and the immediate killing of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby), Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy were splayed on newsletters, and pamphlets; beauty/barber shops, and water coolers. There's still a group that doesn't believe we went to the moon, aliens are somehow interested in "little-old-us"; Bigfoot and Nessie are real creatures, and the world post-Apollo is either flat or donut-shaped (I'm not kidding). Follow that with "I'm not a crook" Richard Nixon, "we're not selling arms for hostages" Ronald Reagan, it's no wonder trust in institutions other than the military is at an all-time low. Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh appealed to fellow jowl-faced constituents that consider Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion an existential crisis, as their impish clone, Tucker Carlson parrots "replacement theory." "Nature abhors a vacuum," and provocateurs like Alex Jones are more than happy to fill the trust void. Add to that the 30,000+ COVFEFE whoppers of the last Oval Office occupant, and the death toll his lies bore. At least Brazil is considering holding Jair Bolsonaro responsible for crimes against humanity for 100,000+ dead. Our body count is higher. "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!"

Senator Angus King has evolved on the filibuster. He's willing to change the rules so voting rights can get passed. However, the dragon reared its head to "conserve" the status quo of white supremacy (Senator Tim Scott needs a new mirror and an active human soul).

It is interesting that Steve Scalise, the minority whip counter on the Republican side of the House, is urging his colleagues to vote NO on holding his br'er fascist, Steve Bannon, in criminal contempt of Congress in fealty to a demagogue that lost the 2020 election, the Senate, and the House. If the rule of law is subject to "situational nihilism" (Brian Williams, The 11th Hour, MSNBC), then the law as we thought we knew it is essentially moot. Only nine Republicans in the House followed The Constitution to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress with all the Democrats, meaning all the Republicans who voted against it are in contempt of Congress. Now, "Robert Lewis, Rufus, and Frog" along with "Billy Bob, Cooter, and Skeeter" will all declare themselves Republicans, and ignore any subpoenas sent to them, reduced to a notion by the man whose publicly stated aim was to "deconstruct the administrative state." Good luck running courts large and small across the nation. 'Murica.

Scalise once described himself as "David Duke without the baggage." David Duke was a grand dragon, and avowed white supremacist. Any kind of supremacy is anathema to democracy. To quote a 2020 tweet from someone named Beau Willimon, succinctly comparing Capitalism, Socialism, Authoritarianism, and Democracy:

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Our democracy can no longer afford to ride this leviathan and continue to exist.

"And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads." Revelations 12:3

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Gambit...

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Image source: Merriam-Webster

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Noun: a chess opening in which a player risks one or more pawns or a minor piece to gain an advantage in position

Ninety percent of Fox Propaganda employees are fully vaccinated. The employees are required to disclose their vaccine status. The network tests the 10% that refuse daily, presumably barring them from the property, and mandating they quarantine if they test positive. For the record: that's more stringent than the Biden administration, which only has a weekly requirement. Even as talking heads push hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, bear bile, and other quackery to their viewership.

The pawn is the least powerful chess piece, but it can be promoted into any other chess piece (except for a king). As Philidor once said, "Pawns are the soul of chess!" Chess.com

The disdain Rupert Murdock's network has for its viewership is only matched by the congruent ghoulishness of Kevin Q-Carthy, Moscow Mitch, and the death cult crew. The debt ceiling has been with us since 1917, the year before the last pandemic. It has been since the Obama administration, a game of chicken; a hostage tactic. It's not one side of the chessboard or the other: it's the entire field or the republic.

Congress has always restricted federal debt. The Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 included an aggregate limit on federal debt as well as limits on specific debt issues. Through the 1920s and 1930s, Congress altered the form of those restrictions to give the U.S. Treasury more flexibility in debt management and to allow modernization of federal financing. In 1939, a general limit was placed on federal debt.

Federal debt accumulates when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and to meet federal obligations or when it issues debt to government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds. Total federal debt is the sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts. Debt also increases when the portfolio of federal loans expands.

Congress has modified the debt limit 14 times since 2001. Congressional Research Service Report

We have now exceeded the death toll of the 1918 flu pandemic. Gaslighting has replaced ideas, emotion has been substituted for substance. The "American Pravda" rage machine found out last year Rage Against the Machine is a political band that probably doesn't favor their worldview. Fox Propaganda and the "gang of Putin" are solely dedicated to killing any bills that help the citizens of the United States, and the world at large, and anything that would make oligarchs and corporations pay the taxes they've dodged in particular. Neither has had any ideas since the "trickledown" 1980s. Income inequality is worse now than in the Gilded Age, with the one percent profiteering off the pandemic. Their wealth is literally built on the bones of 716,849 Americans. By Christmas, we'll be over a million. In a gambit, the Fox viewership/republican constituents' deaths are acceptable losses.

Yet, the criminal enterprise masquerading as a political party in Congress, in statehouses, has an opportunity to regain majority status. Why? Because of the raw exercise of POWER. Appealing to emotion, "owning the libs" haven't improved the lives of their constituents. It has convinced them their "representatives" hate the "others" they hate. It is an addiction to sadistic dopamine. The other acceptable casualty is the federal republic.

It's sad when the problem of 3.5 to 1.5 trillion is solvable with simple math. $3.5T over 10 years is $350B/year. $1.5T over 4 years is $375B/year. Then, Democrats can dare Republicans to run against it in 2022, and 2024. Once Americans experience expanded Medicare, free hearing aids, and glasses for seniors, free childcare, free community college (that will reduce the cost of four-year college), some movement on climate change that they can SEE, and FEEL, the political ads write themselves. This is an example of government functioning to HELP a stated need. Socialism is tax cuts for wealthy individuals, and corporations after failure in the "free market." Socialism is government subsidies to the fossil fuels industry since the Bolshevik Revolution. There would be no logical argument to take away something every American would have experienced in the positive, even though logic for Putin's party has been bereft for some time. Manchin gets what he wants, progressives get what they want. That, in my humble opinion, would be the strategic exercise of power.

If Republicans are a criminal enterprise, they behave like a functional Mafia family, capable of loyalty to the heinous, and in witness to obvious crimes by a chief executive, Omerta. Democrats, for all my support, behave like a herd of "woke" cats with Twitter fingers as itchy as the useless troll, Marjorie Taylor Green. I have called my congressional representative. Politics is the "art of compromise" and the "art of the possible." If you cannot compromise with a recalcitrant cult, do what's possible on your own. You will be RICHLY rewarded for it.

"Pawns are the soul of chess!" An informed citizenry is the soul of democracy.

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