civics (124)

Takeaways...

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Democrats kept the Senate. But Georgia is still important. Ellen Ioanes, Vox

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Women's Rights

First, explanation and apologies: I'm working on a five-year-old laptop, and the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is no longer supplying parts, or at least that's what Geek Squad is saying. Early in the climb of Bill Gates to billionaire status, he introduced something that became a model for everything from software to computer chips: every new version of Microsoft Office was no longer compatible with the previous version. Therefore, you had to purchase the new software. It's easy to translate that to other industries, such that you have to make the OEM richer than the dreams of Avarice. This is not a conspiracy theory. It's American capitalism as it's practiced in its current stage.

Here are my takeaways from the 2022 midterms, in no particular order:

I was the 150th vote in the state of North Carolina, and my first cast vote was for Cheri Beasley, former Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, meaning she has held an elected statewide office. She was beaten by Ted Budd, a multimillionaire who opposed the certification of the 2020 election in Congress prior to the insurrection on January 6th. He would also vote for a nationwide ban on abortion procedures, even in the event it threatens the life of the mother. Traveling from Durham, NC, I saw a billboard of her image darkened, as was done with President Barack Obama, and Senator Raphael Warnock (in a runoff with Herschel Walker, who can't string a sentence together). For Senator Jon Ossoff, they added to his darkened features, the common Jewish trope of a hooked nose. I met her at NC A&T's homecoming (GHOE - greatest homecoming on Earth) and stated that I hoped to call her Senator-Elect. Alas, with all her qualifications, they picked the Congressman who is known for cheating farmers, paid by big pharma, and a fitting replacement to Senator Richard Burr, who KNEW about the pandemic months before, and did not alert any of his constituents in the state. Instead, he invested in some well-placed insider trading, lining his pockets rather than warning his constituents. In the end, North Carolina is one of the states that seceded from the Union over the issue of slavery. A qualified, accomplished jurist had two major strikes against her: black, and female. The DNC didn't help her either. The descendants of the slaveowners and the peasants who fought the Civil War on behalf of southern oligarchs haven't changed their minds.

Stacey Abrams lost to Brian Kemp for the same reasons I mentioned for Cheri Beasley. Arguably, Stacey Abrams' organization, Fair Fight gave us Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. She too had the dual dilemma of being an African American female. It does not matter the accomplishments of either of these women. It does not matter their pedigree, the fact that they are lawyers. The former Republican representative of Georgia's 3rd district, Lynn Westmoreland called the first black president and his wife, the first lady "uppity," both also lawyers and graduates of Harvard and Princeton: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a conservative Republican from Georgia, let slip today what critics have been saying is the subtext of many of the attacks on Barack Obama: He's "uppity." According to The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, Westmoreland was discussing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's acceptance speech outside the House chamber today when he veered into his thoughts on Michelle and Barack Obama. "Just from what little I've seen of her and Mister Obama, Senator Obama, they're a member of an elitist class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Westmoreland said. When a reporter sought clarification on the racially loaded word, Westmoreland replied, "Uppity, yeah." Georgia GOP Congressman Calls Obama 'Uppity', Gregory Smith, Washington Post. There's a long list of official definitions at the link. However, this succinct one from Urban Dictionary I believe captures the spirit of the southern zeitgeist: "Taking liberties or assuming airs beyond one's place in a social hierarchy. Assuming equality with someone higher up the social ladder."

Val Demmings ran with the same handicap in Florida against the least consequential senator in U.S. history. He is quite well-known for not showing up to work, denying the effects of climate change on his state, and flaccid ineffectiveness after the Parkland gun massacre. Despite besting him (in my opinion) in the one and only debate they had, he was re-elected comfortably, shouting the democratic tropes of communism, socialism, and the fact that Val is the complexion that she is, and he is not.

Charlie Crist had the same problem as Terry McAuliffe had in Virginia: he's a retread candidate for governor, going against the one who's warring against "woke" Disney, "woke" books and history, "woke" math, "woke" diversity, equity, and inclusion, "woke" climate science, and "woke" empathy to the "tired and poor" in Emma Lazarus' poem. He won not saying in a debate with Crist whether he would serve a full term as governor, knowing full well he's got the "woke dies today" koozies for his presidential 2024 campaign. Charlie Crist ran on empathy, and Florida is "better than this." DeSantis played Orange Julius, stole his act, and made The Atlantic's Adam Sewer's essay and book, "The Cruelty is the Point" his modus operandi.

Tim Ryan has the irony of losing to a man who didn't live in Ohio and specifically spurred the help of the sitting president in his party. It was an uphill battle, but in the end, PAC money and the fact the seat was and is republican now that JD Vance is Senator-elect.

Beto O'Rourke campaigned barnstorming across the state of Texas, visiting every county. He challenged Governor Abbott in a press conference after the Uvalde gun massacre that upended everything we've been told about Texas law enforcement as the "gold standard" for active shooter response. Abbott let hundreds of his citizens die in a climate-induced freeze, and inspired refrigerator trucks to deal with the bodies piling up from Covid due to his negligence and refusal to do mask mandates. He took away bodily autonomy from Texas women BEFORE the Supreme Court did it nationally. Abbott won, and Texas lost.

North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas were a part of the Confederacy, and the first act of insurrection was secession from the Union over the issue of slavery. The first "Big Lie" is that it wasn't slavery when as in each case, their stated reason was the continuation of slavery in the expanding western territories and the supposedly inherent inferiority of African people trapped in involuntary, uncompensated servitude.

The Senate is still in the hands of the Democrats, thanks to an activist Supreme Court. On the conservative side, they all essentially lied to get the jobs: "Roe is settled precedent." It didn't help that Samuel Alito FLEW overseas to Italy to take a mocking victory lap. A lot of women, men, and young people were pissed.

Georgia is in a runoff again, largely because that's how the machinations are designed. Thinking that African Americans would be discouraged, hoodwinked, and threatened into not voting in a second election depresses their numbers for either Dixiecrats, who designed the original voter suppression systems, and conservative republicans, the inheritors of the Southern Strategy.

I'm going to donate to Senator Warnock's campaign because he is what Georgia and the United States Senate need, NOT a football player demonstrably suffering from traumatic brain injury. In the words of my Fraternity Brother, Jamal Bryant, “They thought we were so slow, that we were so stupid, that we would elect the lowest caricature of a stereotypical broken Black man as opposed to somebody who is educated and erudite and focused." Herschel is the stereotypical black man who will vote as he's directed, and do as they say. Herschel is not "uppity," and can be coached by his equally dumb equivalent, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. The House is on a razor's edge and could go either way, with narrow margins such that if the Republicans take it, Kevin McCarthy will likely not be Speaker, and Nancy knows that chamber better than anyone, even in the minority. If the Democrats keep the chamber, every model from news outlets and 538 needs to be thrown out the window.

The "red wave" pundits and Fox propaganda expected turned out to be a dribble, or more accurately, a urinary tract infection for the Trumpian fascists: low volume, and painful.

Georgia: "Don't boo, VOTE!" President Barack Obama

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Death by Whataboutism...

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MODUS TROLLERANDI PART 2: WHATABOUTISM

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights

Nikolas Cruz was sentenced in the Parkland Shooting to life without the possibility of parole, torpedoing his request to die by the state executioner.

Alex Jones owes a bucketload of money to the Sandy Hook families who have had to endure his lies by grift of his gullible Internet followers, mocking the verdict in a dual screen that "good luck! Ain't no more money," while petitioning the rubes to go to his site.

The January 6th Committee held what was possibly its last hearing yesterday if past precedent favors republicans in the midterms (except for the unforced error of overturning Roe vs Wade, and the promise if given power, they will make it a nationwide ban). If Nancy Pelosi is Speaker after the elections, the committee issued a subpoena to Generalisimo Insurrectionist. He'll wage a pitched legal battle, raise a lot of money, and hope the other crimes he's guilty of in New York and Georgia don't wind him up in a jumpsuit to match his complexion.  Women are registering for the midterms in record numbers; the unrest in Iran over the "morality police" is a microcosm of a constituency fed up with octogenarians making rules for them.

The person at the center of the January 6th Committee's focus has established a cult of personality for his followers and personal convenience for his enablers. Despite the recordings of Kevin McCarthy expressing abject terror, despite his, Mitch McConnell's, and Lindsey Graham's castigation of him on the House and Senate floors, they read the political tea leaves, realizing the conspiratorial dragon they benefitted from through Reich Wing talk radio, television, websites is a Frankenstein beyond their control. They hope to ride the crazy wave to "power," which at this time means a position with little relation to actual governing power, and hope their violent followers don't retaliate on them if they pick up the wrong salad fork, or select the wrong channel with the remote control.

The person at the center of the January 6th Committee's focus still deludes himself into that he actually won the 2020 election, still denies the loss, confesses to crimes he committed in real-time, and foments open rebellion and uncivil war if he's ever held accountable for his brazenly committed, and admitted crimes. He now demands the return of classified documents he magically declassified by telepathy (not a thing), and that the government "planted them." If you can follow that, there will be a padded cell next to his.

I was not a fan of Seinfeld. The comedy took as its theme the play by William Shakespeare: "Much Ado About Nothing." Norman Lear comedies like "All in the Family," "Good Times," "The Jeffersons," and "One Day at a Time" would often veer into sensitive topics about things like gang violence, rape, racism, and misogyny. Jerry Seinfeld and the cast made a comedy about nothing for ten years. When the final curtain went down on the show, there was "weeping and gnashing of teeth" at my Motorola office in Austin, Texas. Even in syndication where I might see an episode or two, I still don't get the attraction.

The dark side of much ado about nothing is Whataboutism: nothing matters. It makes one's sense of history and strategy for the future be temporally bound by business quarters. It explains why we can't do anything about climate change, George W. Bush summed up the attitude in his thoughts about the future asked by Bob Woodward: "we'll all be dead." I used to think he was the worst president in my lifetime until kismet said "hold my beer." The Republican platform in 2020 was reduced to Seinfeld minimalism, and they don't have one in 2022, save recycled Gingrich jibberish. Sexually assaulting women; grabbing them by the genitals doesn't matter. Railing about the sanctity of the unborn never mattered according to Dana Deloach: she just wants power in the Senate, so Herschel Walker can speak word salad about promiscuous bulls all he wants (to the chagrin of Rick Scott and Tom Cotton) as long as they gain the majority. Winning is all that matters, principle never did. There were several hundred mass shootings before Nikolas Cruz. Alex Jones started his grift before the twenty-six victims were in Rigor Mortis. Donald Trump in "Art of the Deal" explained "truthful hyperbole":

“The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”

“I Call It Truthful Hyperbole”: The Most Popular Quotes From Trump’s “The Art of the Deal”, Emily Price, Fast Company, April 4, 2017

In other words, brazen lying.

He played to people's fantasies that he was a successful businessman, despite six bankruptcies and being in hock up to his eyeballs to Deutsche Bank and the Russian Federation. He saw the reaction to the one and only black president and like a wolf, he pounced. He and his father were charged with violating the Fair Housing Act by the NIXON administration. Orly Taitz is a forgotten name and evidence education does not equate to intelligence. He took over the birther issue, poured kerosene, and lit a match. As Michael Cohen said, he never meant to win the election, it was a publicity stunt, which is why he had nothing he was passionate about to improve people's lives other than the rich like himself (richer than he since he's probably not on paper a billionaire). He could have repitched The Apprentice to NBC, still pulled down a check from the network, and still laundered money for Russian oligarchs, but no. Donny got out over his skis, got a taste of real power, and now like an 80s crack addict, can't get enough of it.

He's Pookie in [orange] face.

That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.

It does hurt. It can kill a republic.

On the page where McHenry records the events of the last day of the convention, September 18, 1787, he wrote: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy – A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” Then McHenry added: “The Lady here alluded to was Mrs. Powel of Philada.”

“A republic if you can keep it”: Elizabeth Willing Powel, Benjamin Franklin, and the James McHenry Journal
January 6, 2022, by Josh Levy, Library of Congress

44 "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:44-47

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The Apotheosis of Stupidity...

 

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

"Obviously, there are issues with the border and with migration, but these are the kinds of stunts you see from people who don't have a solution,” Buttigieg said in an interview with journalist Evan Smith at the 2022 Texas Tribune Festival.

His comments drew applause from the audience.

“Governor DeSantis was in Congress. Where was he when they were debating immigration reform?” Buttigieg asks in the interview. “What have any of these people done to be part of the solution?

"So, you know, I get that if you're after attention...it's one thing to call attention to a problem when you have a course of action … it’s another thing to just call attention to a problem because the problem is actually more useful to you than the solution, and that helps you call attention to yourself. And that’s what’s going on,”

Buttigieg continued, “And the problem is, it’s one thing if it was just people being obnoxious, but human beings are being impacted by that. You flee a communist regime in Venezuela, you come here, and then somebody tricks you — somebody using Florida taxpayer money for some reason — tricks you into going from Texas to Massachusetts.

“It is not just ineffectual, it is hurting people in order to get attention.”

Watch Pete Buttigieg's Devastating Takedown of Fla.'s Ron DeSantis, Alex Cooper, The Advocate/Yahoo News

I watched the pained look on Desantis' face as he had to work for once in his career as Florida's governor and look serious. He couldn't troll the libs in Brandon, Florida to cheers that are both double entendre and vulgar dig at President Biden. It was probably as fun as sending Venezualian asylum seekers to Martha's Vinyard. The migrants and a Florida state senator filed lawsuits. But that doesn't matter to him. After "building the wall" with his toddler son, Mr. "Stunting Like His [fascist] Daddy" is more like him every day: more married to the performance of power than the responsibility of power. When DeSantis was in Congress, he voted against aid for Hurricane Sandy. Now he has to accept help from "Dark Brandon." I was in New York, so his vote affected me and my family, personally. Truly, "karma keeps receipts."

Stupid.

The second Adlai Stevenson was the Pete Buttigieg/Barack Obama of his day.

When Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson was running for president in the 1950s, a supporter purportedly said to him: "Every thinking person in America will be voting for you." Stevenson replied, "I'm afraid that won't do — I need a majority."

When President Donald Trump leaves office, there will still be millions of Americans who think that all Muslims are terrorists, Mexicans are taking over the country, and the government is planning to confiscate their guns. Most of us don't think that way, but we do need to vote.

A call to every thinking person, Tom Siebert, Montgomery, Chicago Tribune

Stevenson stopped Russian interference in the 1960 presidential election by not spreading the propaganda given to him. Back in the day, that's what normal politicians did when a foreign power tried to rig an election, not "I love it," or for that matter, use it.

Aileen Cannon, one presumes, went to college, and law school, passed the state bar, and she is a judge. But, because her client, the orange stain in the underwear of the nation, doesn't want to say his lies under oath, she's accommodating that wish. She's overruling the Special Master Stain Man and she wanted. Judge Dearie was appointed by Reagan.

Stupid.

Ginni Thomas, one presumes, went to college, and law school, passed the state bar, and she is a lawyer. She STILL believes the 2020 election was stolen. She told the January 6th committee this, and according to her text to Mark Meadows, she told her "best friend," presumably her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas.

Stupid.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is the new Prime Minister of Italy and a member of the fascist party after the death of Mussolini. She is racist, a conspiracy theorist, so of course, American republicans love her. She isn't unintelligent:

She's stupid.

From the "awe, shucks" of a B-movie actor, a C-average student who needed the [then, and now] not-Supreme Court to 5-4 appoint him in 2000, usurping the popular vote, to a charlatan con artist pretending to be a business success on a non-reality TV show, we have put mediocrity on a pedestal, we have apotheosized stupidity. Collectively, society attacks academics, poets, artists, and scientists as "nerds," "pansies," "wimps," and lightweights. Yet they react to arts and song, they demand the latest gadget, not at all connecting the persons they torment, the groups they loathe and look down on as the source of things that either make their lives easier or give them beauty and meaning. Our news media practices "both sides-ism," and "what about-ism." It used to be flat earthers were those strange people with pamphlets: they have a website. We've democratized the Internet and put a halt on civics and critical thinking. The climate change effects now in Florida, previously in Jackson, Mississippi, can vanish with magical thinking, positive mental attitude mantras, jingoism, and sloganeering. I see why fascism has been, and for the foreseeable future, always will be a temptation: giving allegiance to so-called strongmen (or in Italy's case, a strongwoman) takes the burden of responsibility off the rest of us. We can binge on streaming videos, selective podcasts, and social media newsfeeds. We don't have to venture outside of our self-constructed siloes, since that's where we're the most comfortable.

Fascism is thus for lazy, gaslit people, and it's stupid.

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by the use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplishes anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

 

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DARVO...

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Image source: Pinterest

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

DARVO is an acronym for "deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender". It refers to a reaction that alleged perpetrators of wrongdoing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior.[1] Some researchers and advocates have indicated that it can be a common manipulation strategy of psychological abusers.[2][3][4] An abuser (or alleged abuser) denies the abuse ever took place, attacks the person that alleged abuse (often the victim) for attempting to hold the abuser (or alleged abuser) accountable for their actions, and claims that they are actually the victim in the situation, thus reversing what may be a reality of victim and offender.[2][4] It often involves not just "playing the victim" but also victim blaming.[3]

Source: Wikipedia/DARVO

This hasn't been a good week for "Orange Jesus." Prepare for a lot of DARVO.

The Eleventh Circuit Court batted back his hand-picked court stenographer with a blistering decision that if he were to appeal to his stacked no-longer Supreme Court, the faux college fascist Niel Gorsuch, accused rapist frat boy Brett Kavanaugh, and ACTUAL Handmaid (and proud of it) Amy Coney Barrett would have some difficulty trying to find the back-of-the-box Cracker Jack excuse to justify his theft of classified documents, further descending the court's already stained reputation with the Dobb's decision firmly into the marsupial territory. It would probably be the ONLY ruling from which Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas recuse themselves. Chief Justice Roberts, the architect of the court's destruction with the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, would join the actual Justices we have REMAINING on the court - Sotomayer, Kagen, and Jackson in descent not because he agrees but to hide his utter ineptitude at shepherding the third branch of our government.

Update: As of July 7, Roberts requested all law clerk's cell phone records, according to the Brennan Center. It's the legal equivalent of trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

As the urban legend goes, the orange toddler attacked his mother, Mary, it frightened her, and she appealed to her husband and the toddler's father, Fred. Fred, being the busy businessman he was - detained at a Klan rally in 1927 (though there's no evidence he was a supporter), and what would become family art - dodging paying his taxes and scurrilous connections with organized crime - sent his middle school toddler to Cornwall Military Academy in upstate New York, because rich, successful businessmen couldn't be bothered with things like setting boundaries for children. When "Todd" came back for, say, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or summer break, Mary and the girls made their way to Europe on holiday, away from the monster they were all culpable in creating by their neglect.

Mary Trump: Donald's upbringing forged his bullying and racism, Mark Gruenberg, People's World

Letitia James, NYS Attorney General, has charged the Trump Organization with fraudulent activities, lying when devaluing their property suited them and increasing the value when applying for loans. That makes wealth fungible, and I now declare by the power of positive thinking that I am worth a gazillion dollars. Two problems: (1) that's an expression, not a numerical measurement, (2) tell that to my bill collectors.

Meanwhile, "back at the ranch": Mango Mussolini's "mini me's" Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis are literally kidnapping Venezuelan migrants and stunt-unloading them in Martha's Vineyard and Vice President Kamala Harris' residence. Also, the key to the cruelty is signing them up for immigration hearings while transporting them to states where the hearings are not taking place.

Abbott was on the Texas Supreme Court, the state Attorney General before ascending to the governor. DeSantis "built a wall" with his toddler son, and was a member of the Tea Party in Congress, again before getting the top gig.

18 U.S. Code 1201: “provides the legal definition of the federal crime of kidnapping: Whoever unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise . . . when — the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce . . . shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or [for] life.”

Mini stable genius from Florida used funds to address migrants in Florida to ship them: from Texas. He through "Perla" even left brochures. The problem is, the program removes unauthorized aliens from Florida. Mini blockhead kidnapped authorized asylum seekers from Texas. Veritas after the scheme backfired, went dark.

Well, they're both lawyers. I hope they hire some good ones for when they inevitably get sued, and the court cases go to discovery.

I actually felt sorry for Sean Hannity for the first time in my life. I do admire the fact that he kept a straight face as Dumbo Gambino gave the "declassification by telepathy" defense. When grasping for straws, always go for the "Hillary Clinton emails" because even though after eleven hours of testimony in front of Congress, she didn't have anything to incriminate her, he knows his dwindling herd still hates her more than him.

The meme above is a perfect metaphor for the current place the United States and the world find themselves in: we're all suffering the throes of WGM: white grievance minstrelsy. Everything has to be seen through the lens of prince charming saving the damsel in distress. Hell, we can't even have a black mermaid without some snowflakes having an existential cow over a fictional character. The meme above is a perfect metaphor for the current place in the United States and everything that is coming to a head stems from a throwaway line from Saint Ronnie Reagan's first inaugural address: "Government isn't the solution, [the] government is the problem." So don't expect solutions from the side that repeats this like a positive mental attitude mantra at a multilevel marketing meeting. They've got an echo chamber that blames everything on immigrants, minorities, LGBT, women, and the only solution to the problems of the universe is tax cuts (not, as in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 42). It's the clear, systematic execution of the Lewis Powell memo, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse noted it as well on his Senate page. We have colors because of the angle of incidence of ultraviolet light. We have races because of politics. Politics also defines in society who is valued, and who is chattel. Politics engineers society so that certain things reinforce themselves so they seem as if they've always been that way and always will be that way. So when someone upsets the apple cart, say, the first African American president in the nation's history, you get birtherism (Abbott sued the Obama administration on days ending in "Y"), the Tea Party (Ron's old turf), the Orwellian "Freedom Caucus" (I guess for every one white, heterosexual, and Christofascist).

They will deny it. They will attack. They will reverse the victim and offender. White evangelicals are textbook examples of DARVO and WGM. They feel persecuted because of their faith when in reality, they are turning people off because of the things they focus on. Instead of spreading the love of Christ, they are themselves driving the young from church due to their bigotry. 81% of them voted for an admitted sexual assaulter and an Olympic-level serial liar labels them as hypocrites. Young procreate if that's important, and churches whose median age matches that of a Fox Propaganda viewer or Russian citizen usually become empty buildings or museums.

Young people have other concerns: student loans for one. The volunteer military replaced the compulsory draft, and Saint Ronnie started gutting state funding for universities that used to be a lot cheaper than they are now, some free and didn't require predatory loans. Desperate young people sign up for the six branches of service - they may get a sign-on bonus, and a GI Bill they can use towards education later: if they don't die in conflict-enriching defense contractors, whose children will not shoulder the burden. This creates an artificial barrier to education that previously lifted low-income people out of poverty, not strapped them with crushing debt.

As his faux empire crumbles and he gets his legal comeuppance, the party he has in his grip loses elections (and is held accountable for anything approaching violence after losing), my hope is to hold the House and Senate this fall, and the presidency in 2024. Then on January 20, 2025, that will truly be a "New Pulse of Morning" (Dr. Maya Angelou, RIP). Maybe we will stop promoting toddlers to carry the nuclear football. Maybe we will have two functioning parties again instead of one. Maybe we will stop worshipping billionaires and oligarchs as "self-made" gods and recognize they used a mix of means legal and illegal to gain such wealth in a single lifetime. Maybe we will stop tribalizing and work together to solve now intractable problems as a human species. Maybe we will finally grow up.

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Pablum and Fascism...

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Source: Holocaust Museum

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

After my commission to the United States Air Force, I was at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, attached to Air Training Command, learning about Communications and Computer Systems. One of the things I would be introduced to is ARPANET, there, and at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas, which eventually became the Internet we know.

Leaving college I had a Secret Clearance. To get a Top Secret Clearance (communications were. and are in SCIFs - special compartmentalized information facilities). I had to fill out a long analog form of SF-86, and sit down with an agent from the Defense Investigative Service (I believe this is performed by another agency now).

For most of my classmates, the interview took 15 - 20 minutes. For me, the only African American in the classroom, it extended to TWO HOURS. Finally, the agent had enough:

Agent: Lieutenant, you're the only African American in your training class, and you're the only officer, from the Major down, who's said you've never used marijuana. WHY should I believe you?

Me: Because they came to my neighborhood to buy it, not thinking of the hell they left behind as they went back to their suburbs!

I never saw a man turn so beet red in my life. He was embarrassed and angry.

Agent: You KNOW we're going to interview at least FIVE of your neighbors!

Me: Do me a favor: interview ten. If any of them say I smoked weed, then you'll kick me out of the Air Force with a dishonorable discharge. Otherwise, you can ask me those canned questions for another two hours. You're going to get the same answers.

WHY was I so confident? One, I never did, not in my household. My father was a WWII veteran of the Navy, a heavy ship gunner, and, a ranked boxer. Smoke weed at your own peril! I didn't out of fear, respect, and love for my dad. He like a lot of black men went to fight Hitler's fascism only to encounter it at home. To the agent, I didn't "fit the stereotype."

I did find out he, or some agent, interviewed ten neighbors. I did receive a TS/SCI clearance.

The agent, though biased, was doing his job. It's from this I can say you just DON'T stumble and happenstance transport boxes of classified information to your living quarters.

Kevin McCarthy, the sad excuse of a "leader" for Republicans in the House, wants President Biden to apologize for calling MAGA Republicans "semi-fascists." I beg to differ: (1) the Red Hat Crew call THEMSELVES MAGA Republicans, (2) the Red Hat Crew wear t-shirts like "I'd rather be Russian than a Democrat," a version available on Amazon, and (3) my main critique is you can be no more semi-fascist anymore than any woman in America, who lost their rights to bodily autonomy, can be semi-pregnant. Joseph Robinette Biden is a creature of the Senate, and has fond memories of working across the aisle with "the gentleman from Kentucky," or "the gentleman from West Virginia." The term "gentle lady" would come much later, after slow, and painstaking change. The Senate was from its inception a club of white males. They were initially picked by their state governors so that they would if called to be jurors for, oh say, an impeachment, be impartial, and not beholden to the concerns of statewide elections. That was changed with the 17th Amendment.

This is pablum:

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This is not a tweet: it's an electronic pacifier for a spoiled brat. He never received a belt, as would have been the punishment in my household, he never even received "time out." He is the byproduct of what privilege, wealth, and narcissism produces in a human.

Devin Nunes is the "CEO," the only qualification being a sycophant for a demagogue and having a famously hilarious Twitter spat with a fictional cow. Baby Huey owes $1.6 million for hosting fees, in the repeated mistake anyone with a New York Times online or newspaper subscription would tell you that this man never pays any bills! Male polar bears famously impregnate females in heat, then wander off because evolution hasn't given them parenting skills. Similarly, Donald has problems being a normal human. The real Twitter ended him after January 6, 2021, insurrection being the bridge too far for all the other policies he had violated since then. "Truth Social" is as Orwellian as he is insane. His main complaint is how the evidence was staged for the photo. It does not explain why he's the only ex-president that has classified files in his not-a-SCIF office at his public club/hotel.

He seems to not know, or not care that this is publicly available and can be used against him in a court proceeding, particularly if, as it looks like he's (going to be) indicted.

Jeff Teitrich's tweet: “any good lawyer would tell Trump to stop talking, but Trump doesn't have a good lawyer. Trump has a parking garage lawyer.”

He’s a spoiled brat and seems to have ZERO clue that everything he puts out on his failing social media platform becomes part of the public record, and, is open to legal discovery in court proceedings.

But Dumbo Gambino only has the parking garage lawyer.

What incenses me is, that we have these things called cell phones with cameras. The fake Rothchild sounds like a Russian agent. Inna Yashchyshyn, 33, probably wandered in where the documents were with her cell phone. In the 80s, we worried about documents leaving the SCIF physically. Now their images can be posted on a website for access by Guccifer 3.0.

I think he feigned disinterest in the Presidential Daily Briefings. I think he feigned hostility towards the intelligence community. You don't gather that many files willy-nilly on the last moments of January 20th. This was done over time, four years of meticulous, clandestine gathering. Maybe Devin Nunes had a hand in it? His closed-door meetings with Putin were instructional sessions on WHAT to steal, and where to put it so Inna could fake being a Rothchild and come down to Mar-a-Lardo to photograph it and upload it on Telegram.

This is espionage. It doesn't take James Bond or Maxwell Smart, but part of the usual thoroughness of the SF-86 process (Jared Kuschner, the noted exception), is to find weak spots an enemy can exploit. Trump is as self-centered as a polar bear, he doesn't pay his bills, he owes a lot of money, and he's the only presidential candidate in modern history refusing to show his taxes, steadfastly blocking them from a congressional inquiry. Having Michael Cohen sue his military academy, Fordham and U Penn were about vanity: his taxes, I think, would reveal points of leverage that Putin has cultivated for 40 years.

This is espionage. This is treason.

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The Business Model...

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

"Maxwell Smart, a highly intellectual but bumbling spy working for the CONTROL agency, battles the evil forces of rival spy agency KAOS with the help of his competent partner Agent 99." Source: Internet Movie Database (1965 - 1970)

There were several spy genres on television as well as on the big screen. "I Spy" with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby were undercover agents posing as a tennis pro and coach. There was "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."; "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E."; "The Wild, Wild West"; "The Saint"; "Mission: Impossible"; and "The Avengers" to name a few. Sean Connery inhabited James Bond, S.P.E.C.T.R.E., like KAOS, a metaphor for the Soviet Union.

Speaking of Russia:

COINTELPRO The FBI began COINTELPRO—short for Counterintelligence Program—in 1956 to disrupt the activities of the Communist Party of the United States. In the 1960s, it was expanded to include a number of other domestic groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panther Party. All COINTELPRO operations ended in 1971. Although limited in scope (about two-tenths of one percent of the FBI’s workload over a 15-year period), COINTELPRO was later rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging first amendment rights and for other reasons. Source: vault.FBI.gov/COINTELPRO

We were balancing a world post-WWII and launched into a Cold War. We nearly annihilated the human species a year before the March on Washington, a year after I was born. We also had assassinations of significant leaders: Medgar Evers (June 12, 1963), President John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963), Malcolm X (February 21, 1965), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968), and Robert F. Kennedy (June 6, 1968). So spy shows tried to give us escapist fantasies from an era with great music, but it was a decade soaked in blood and angst.

It seems I recall - my parents received two newspapers: the Winston-Salem Journal in the mornings (now the only paper) and the Winston-Salem Sentinal in the evening. If you were a business advertising, you had a higher price for the morning than the evening paper. The evening news consisted of local from 6:00 - 6:30 pm, and national from 6:30 - 7:00 pm. After that, you got the spy series, game shows, or comedy series. They seemed to receive a decent amount of information they felt they needed to be informed, citizens. They and society as a whole also seemed: calmer. Instead of 24 hours of programming on a plethora of channels, which we'll probably never view in a single human lifetime, the television went to a test pattern at midnight. There were a lot fewer insomniacs back then, and we had relief from the blood and angst - at least for brief respites.

The more we learn about the insidiousness that underlies social media in the new documentary "The Social Dilemma," the more it seems like the film is bringing a slingshot to a nuclear war. What we learn in this movie is that our brains are being manipulated and even rewired by algorithms that are designed to get our attention and make us buy things, including buying into distorted ideas about the world, ourselves, and each other.

"The Social Dilemma" is from Jeff Orlowski, who gave us the similarly terrifying "what are we doing to ourselves" documentaries "Chasing Coral" and "Chasing Ice." This one might as well be called "Chasing Us" as it asks fundamental and existential questions about whether we are literally writing (with code) ourselves out of the ability to make vital decisions about our own survival. Source: The Social Dilemma, Roger Ebert dot com

Part of what I remember from the documentary is emotion: anger engages us to click on a display, an ad, or fire off (what we think is) a witty missive in a comments section.

Monomers as metaphors

Monomers can bind with like molecules to form polymers in nature. The Internet has allowed us to combine with like-minded individuals at lightspeed over vast distances. Just because an extremist in North Carolina converses with an extremist in Norway, that they have found a "crew" in a chatroom, that they are vibing off each other, it doesn't mean that each of the other is "right." E.g.: Everyone in the fictional Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane thinks the citizens of Gotham are dumb schmucks and that Batman is a violent, vigilante psychopath (that last part might have a tinge of truth to it). That they would make the Penguin Mayor of Gotham and the Joker President also makes my point: a polymer of individual mental patients grouped together might give itself the name Qanon, and believe Secret Jewish Space Lasers cause fires in California.

Unlike Europe and the United States, Russia has a clear stance on Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s hope for the future is his Eurasian Union, to be established next January as a rival to the European Union. Belarusian and Kazakh strongmen are game to join his dictators’ club. But since the idea has little popular support anywhere, Eurasian integration can take place only in conditions of Russian domination and local dictatorship. For Mr. Putin, the Eurasian Union would be meaningless without Ukraine. Eurasian ideology is the brainchild of Alexander Dugin, who has never disguised his admiration of fascism. His website publishes Russian strategists who claim that Ukraine is not a sovereign state.

Don’t Let Putin Grab Ukraine, Timothy Snyder, NYT, February 3, 2014

I've read Alexander Dubin's name in Snyder's book, "The Road to Unfreedom." Referred to as "Putin's brain," he may have influenced the war in Ukraine. Two Medium writers, Nadin Brzezinski and B Kean have both suggested that Dugin planned and approved of the assassination of his daughter by the FSB. I'm almost expecting Dr. Evil.

This ain't really a life, ain't really a life, ain't really nothing but a movie. "B-Movie," Gil Scott-Heron, Genius Lyrics

So-called "strongmen" use KAOS/chaos as their toolbox. They're really not strong: Putin, Orban, Xi Jinping, Trump: the tendency towards authoritarianism shows individuals internally insecure with not having the final word or the solution to any problem. It's why Orban seized control of the media in Hungary: can't let those reporters say mean things about his ineptitude. Xi's response to Covid is probably worse than ours if he let his scientists speak to those in the west and share information (this secrecy births conspiracy theories whether they're true or not). Putin was best at turning individuals against their nations but by rank a Lieutenant Colonel and low-level bureaucrat. He seized power by a staged terrorist attack before the year 2000: he exploited Russians' fear and need for security: KAOS/chaos.

A world run by the weakest of men (it's always men) is a world on fire, a societal, psychotic episode, a saturation of 24/7/365 angst: KAOS/chaos.

I can only conclude now the model is KAOS/chaos without a balance of order/CONTROL.

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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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