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existentialism (24)

On Fascism...

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[Major General Smedley Butler. Image reprinted from Philadelphia’s Organized Crime of the 1920 and 1930s by Anne Margaret Anderson with John J. Binder courtesy of the Library of Congress (pg. 11, Arcadia Publishing, 2014).]

 

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


"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

In 1934, a colossal claim reached the American news media: There had been a plot to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in favor of a fascist government. Supposedly in the works since 1933, the claims of the conspiracy came from a very conspicuous and reliable source: Major General Smedley Butler, one of the most decorated war heroes of his time. Even more unbelievable were his claims of who was involved in the plot – respected names like Robert Sterling Clark, Grayson M.P. Murphy, and Prescott Bush (George Herbert Walker Bush's father and George W. Bush's grandfather). While news media at the time mocked Butler’s story, recently discovered archives have revealed the truth behind Major General Butler’s claims.

Major General Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940), nicknamed "Old Gimlet Eye",[1] was a senior United States Marine Corps officer who fought in both the Mexican Revolution and the World War I. Butler was, at the time of his death, the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler later became an outspoken critic of American wars and their consequences. Butler also exposed an alleged plan to overthrow the United States government.

By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (along with Wendell Neville and David Porter) and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.

In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations, but a final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler's testimony.

Halloween yesterday had impact.

A formal vote along party lines agreed to an official impeachment inquiry. The same vote republicans wanted initially...until they didn't. The rules they raided the SCIF over was as republican as the Affordable Care Act: they were passed by John Boehner for Benghazi. Karma is truly a bitch.

 

*****


Major General Smedley Butler is one of nineteen men to win two Congressional Medals of Honor. He was on his way to becoming Commandant of the Marine Corps. His reporting the coup led to likely his stall at two stars and lackluster failure to gain elected office as a republican senator.

His reveal of the fascist plot to overthrow the US government is instructive. To quote the historian Timothy Snyder, "On Tyranny":

"History does not repeat, but it does instruct. As the Founding Fathers debated our Constitution, they took instruction from the history they knew. Concerned with the democratic republic they envisioned would collapse, they contemplated the descent of ancient democracies and republics into oligarchy and empire. As they knew, Aristotle warned that inequality brought instability, while Plato believed that demagogues exploited free speech to install themselves as tyrants. In founding a democratic republic upon law and establishing checks and balances, the Founding Fathers sought to avoid the evil that they, like the ancient philosophers, called tyranny. They had in mind the usurpation of power by a single individual or group, or the circumvention of laws by rulers for their own benefit. Much of the succeeding political debate in the United States has concerned the problem of tyranny within American society: over slaves and women for example."

History and Tyranny, Prologue, Timothy Snyder, "On Tyranny"

We're seeing a growing rise in inequality as the 1% build their versions of castles and motes in exclusive enclaves, separating themselves from the rest of the population. They continue post Citizens United influencing electoral politics with bucket loads of money and horse shit. The poetry we ascribe to our founding documents neglects that John Jacob Astor - our nation's first multimillionaire - after struggling in the fur business, made cheddar in the opium trade to China, as did "Warren Delano Jr., the grandfather of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt." He eventually settled...into New York real estate with the help of Vice President Aaron Burr. One of his properties was part of the original New York Public Library system. When you investigate history, it has a way of destroying illusions.

 

America’s First Multi-Millionaire, 250 Years Later
Get the facts about John Jacob Astor, America’s first multi-millionaire.
Barbara Maranzani, History.com


We have deluded ourselves into thinking we are "the good guys." The Constitution is at most a suggestion by White, Anglo Saxon Protestant Cisgender men who owned slaves, kept wives and mistresses, defying the demands of Colonial England and usurped power. Though they used the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal," African slaves were not considered human and women were not regarded at all except as sexual partners and mothers. The tendency towards miscegenation resulting in mixed children that fostered "colorism" within the future African Americans made things even more confusing.

We need to recognize this designed division for what it is: a way to maintain power by those in power. It will not bring back coal, put blacks on the back of the bus, women out of the work force, LGBT back in the closet or immigrants - Ellis Island, Emma Lazarus poem notwithstanding, or asylum seekers - back in their native countries.

This is a moment for Americans to consider our founding documents with regards to what kind of country we had to what kind of country we ultimately want going forward: one with sovereignty that selects its own leaders, or an anarchy selected in banana republic elections in literal Russian Roulette?

Instead of overthrowing the president, the installed Manchurian ass(et) may be trying to overthrow US!

We won't always have a self-sacrificing Smedley Butler to save us.

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few -- the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

War is a Racket, Major General Smedley Butler
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Pandora's Box...

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MS TECH / SOURCE PHOTO: GETTY

 

Topics: Biology, Biotechnology, Civics, Ethics, Existentialism


A private DNA ancestry database that’s been used by police to catch criminals is a security risk from which a nation-state could steal DNA data on a million Americans, according to security researchers.

Security flaws in the service, called GEDmatch, not only risk exposing people’s genetic health information but could let an adversary such as China or Russia create a powerful biometric database useful for identifying nearly any American from a DNA sample.

GEDmatch, which crowdsources DNA profiles, was created by genealogy enthusiasts to let people search for relatives and is run entirely by volunteers. It shows how a trend toward sharing DNA data online can create privacy risks affecting everyone, even people who don’t choose to share their own information.

“You can replace your credit card number, but you can’t replace your genome,” says Peter Ney, a postdoctoral researcher in computer science at the University of Washington.

Ney, along with professors and DNA security researchers Luis Ceze and Tadayoshi Kohno, described in a report posted online how they developed and tested a novel attack employing DNA data they uploaded to GEDmatch.

 

The DNA database used to find the Golden State Killer is a national security leak waiting to happen
Antonio Regalado, Technology Review

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The Sons of Jacob...

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Warning signs hang in a church in Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Hulu | Vox

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


Note: Taking a blog break as I prepare for midterms. I'll reemerge in about two weeks.

The Sons of Jacob are the conspiratorial group that devised the philosophy and social structure for a totalitarian patriarchal theocracy and orchestrated the rise of Gilead.

A founder of a local Sons of Jacob chapter tells the Boston Globe in an interview he read about the community in a Facebook group and got into it because he wanted to help "the kids" to "get them out of gangs and away from their sinful families and into a better way of [life]."

According to Offred, "'they' shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress, and the army declared a state of emergency". She adds "they blamed it on the Islamic fanatics" and that "the entire government" was "gone like that", making her wonder "how did 'they' get in". Later on "they suspended the Constitution" which they said "would be temporary". Moira suspects "they've been building up to this".

Source: The Sons of Jacob, The Handmaid's Tale Fandom Wiki

Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid's Tale in 1985. The Sons of Jacob didn't have Facebook or social media, so their emergence was from a fictionalized decline in birthrates that propelled them to act out of fear for survival. Being 1985, it would have never occurred to the writer to bring an outside force from Russia favoring the Sons of Jacob to assist them first electorally: we were in the Cold War and apparently still litigating the Civil War. The author pointed out in an interview, what seems sudden in a coup d'etat typically happens first in the background. Outside the awareness of the country, it suddenly overruns an unsuspecting public with a surprise assault.

Impeachment is not necessarily for a crime. He can be impeached for not fulfilling his presidential duties nominating candidates (preferring "acting" positions) for senate confirmation in their constitutional duty to "advise and consent" (obliterated by Moscow Mitch with respect to President Obama and Merrick Garland).

[The president] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States... Senate.gov

Now...Caligula tweets threats of civil war and witness intimidation, yet another ground for impeachment. Twenty-four hours after denying he strong-armed the Ukrainian president, did it AGAIN from the White House lawn, involving China. The fact he has a shot-in-foot trade war with them is bizarre, and the equivalent of falling on his own Sword of Damocles.

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.

But these overt forms of voting suppression are merely the most visible manifestations of a larger questioning of democracy on the political right. Trump’s anti-democratic rhetoric—and the eagerness of so many good, white patriotic Americans to cheer it and believe it—is a symptom of the larger trend on the political right toward doubting the legitimacy of the American system. The question we need to be asking isn’t, “Why is Trump being such a jerk?” It’s, “Why is the American Right giving up on democracy?”

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


William Barr, the nation's top cop, isn't fighting the Opioid Crisis at home, but globetrotting after debunked conspiracy theories to link Ukraine to the DNC server hack, not Russia, therefore discrediting the Mueller Report and thus, justify lifting any sanctions against them. Rudy Giuliani - America's mayor after 9/11 - is passing around said debunked conspiracy theories in Trump hotel folders with monogrammed stationary. Mike Pompeo is denying unsuccessfully testimony to the House Intelligence Committee regarding his complicity in the Ukrainian call, which he eventually admitted being on. Mike Pompeo is a graduate of West Point. Mike Pompeo is a Harvard Law graduate. He's supposedly a "Christian" with a penchant for mendacity that is only eclipsed by Orange Satan.

At my previous job before graduate school, one of my coworkers was lamenting about the "birth rate decline of white people" right outside of my office. He had three children, the guy nodding next to him had FIVE and the next two gents two and three children respectively. For the record: I have two sons, a daughter-in-law; a granddaughter (not then). I clearly was outnumbered. White supremacy is if nothing, anxiously numerical.

I closed the door to my office. It wasn't worth a reply.

The Sons of Jacob are fictional, but the fear of "white genocide" is quite real and first retweeted by the Manchurian Candidate now at Pennsylvania Avenue.

The prospect of civil war was first opined by evangelical (evil-gelical) pastor Robert Jeffress, again retweeted by an addled, Internet addicted and disturbed mind. Franklin Graham can't recall a SINGLE lie told by the "father of lies." He made #Antichrist trend on Twitter after his self-apotheosis as "the chosen one." I guess such a figure needs anti-Christian followers in his flock, as neither remotely reminds me of Christ.

White Americans own a lot of guns, brought on by "fear of the other": demographically, evangelicals became numerical minorities in 2017. Some openly discuss the aspect of a modern civil war. One of my friends from undergraduate at NC A&T, said so. Working as a GS engineer for the US Navy, they openly discussed a race war with the only African American engineer in the division and the rounds of ammunition they purchased for the "Turner Diaries"-inspired bloodbath. My wife heard similar sentiments from her coworkers at her employment where she is also the only African American.

The impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were successful in their respective House of Representatives only. Nixon seeing the biblical "handwriting on the wall," resigned before removal. Even with the mounting evidence, and if impeachment is successful for the first time in our history: If his removal is recommended by Moscow Mitch's senate, their constituent's collective pathology may be worth tearing our republic to bits over. I shudder over that apocalyptic scenario.

I'm not sure their blindness lets them see it: fascist sons of bitches erecting this bullshit mountain will not "make America great again," turn back the clock on climate change; make coal or petroleum clean, bring back factory and farm jobs, de-globalize the world economy, make women barefoot and perpetually pregnant, put black, brown and anyone other-than-white-people on the back of the bus, LGBT back in the closet or inaugurate a Dominionism-inspired Republic of Gilead.

 

In fiction, Moira suspected "they've been building up to this".


They are building us up to something...
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Adaption and Extinction...

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Source: Internet Movie Database

 

Topics: Biology, Climate Change, Existentialism, Philosophy, Politics


Though the movie poster is an attempt at dark humor, I do agree with the science. We're in a time of our history where science is being suborned to political and economic considerations, when we need it literally for survival.


From a biological perspective, there is no such thing as devolution. All changes in the gene frequencies of populations--and quite often in the traits those genes influence--are by definition evolutionary changes. The notion that humans might regress or "devolve" presumes that there is a preferred hierarchy of structure and function--say, that legs with feet are better than legs with hooves or that breathing with lungs is better than breathing with gills. But for the organisms possessing those structures, each is a useful adaptation.

Chief among these misconceptions is that species evolve or change because they need to change to adapt to shifting environmental demands; biologists refer to this fallacy as teleology. In fact, more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived are extinct, so clearly there is no requirement that species always adapt successfully. As the fossil record demonstrates, extinction is a perfectly natural--and indeed quite common--response to changing environmental conditions. When species do evolve, it is not out of need but rather because their populations contain organisms with variants of traits that offer a reproductive advantage in a changing environment.

 

Is the human race evolving or devolving? July 20, 1998, Scientific American

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Man Without a Country...

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Source: Book vs. Flick: Stephen King's IT, Sara Century


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


"I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Source: 5 U.S. Code § 3331.Oath of office, Cornell Law School

"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." John 8:44

This is a man without a country and really, a party without a country.

He is a man without a country because he has nothing beyond his wallet he truly believes in. He wasn't a liberal the sixty-five years he was a member of the Democratic Party; he's by far not a conservative in the Republican Party whose racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia he has driven nakedly to its logical conclusion of fascism. He obviously had the building blocks to exploit. Pathological lying is one of his many visible mental disorders. He would rather run a hustle than study, as true education would be an admittance he doesn't know everything, and his narcissistic personality disorder simply won't allow anything but his self-deluded, deified perfection, and enablers willingly reflecting back the adulation that has no bottom.

His soul and wallet are equally owned by Vladimir Putin because Russian oligarchs were the only ones that would loan him any money when he burned his bridges with any legitimate American banking institution after SIX bankruptcies - it takes special talent to lose money in gambling casinos. He is evidence of what it looks like when one man who metaphorically and quite literally "gains the world," and sells his soul (if he ever had one).

The hearing yesterday shows just how far the former party of Lincoln and Reagan has fallen from the ideal of whatever conservatism - envisioned by William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater was supposed to mean.

The whistle blower charge has been declassified. The agent has also been threatened with the only constitutional punishment for treason by Orange Caligula in a breathtaking display of projection. The current constitutional crisis we find ourselves in may either prove our democratic ideals, or damn them to disorganized tribalism. I am literally praying for our continuance as a nation.

The idea of a Director of National Intelligence dates back to the 1950s, but was instituted specifically after the attacks on 9/11. It's main purpose is to coordinate the myriad agencies - the same seventeen that conclusively pointed to Russian interference in 2016 - that weren't talking to each other before the attacks. It is supposed to be a senate confirmed position; there have been two confirmed and two acting directors.

Acting DNI Joseph Maguire is senate confirmed - for the counter-terrorism task force, per his previous skill sets as a Navy Seal. We currently have a dysfunctional, dystopian system of "acting" positions, due to the record turnover of government workforce (currently at 78%, a record in less than four years) and the lack of desire by those sane to work for someone clearly unstable.

 

*****


The Reality Of What They Are

Formatted reality shows are essentially game shows, because there is a specific structure, set rules, and a clear winner. What makes them exciting to watch is the fact that they are often clever dramatic social experiments. To truly connect with an audience and have entertainment value in a show, the idea needs to be as fun to watch as it is to participate in.

Docuseries reality shows allow us to witness life unfold for a person, family, business, or group set within a lifestyle and circumstance that creates entertaining and compelling content. The reason viewers tune in is because we have an insatiable appetite for witnessing and being entertained by the human experience.

This formulaic reality show will not work for very much longer. It's not even fun to watch.

We were attacked on 9/11. We were attacked during the 2016 presidential elections. We are open for slaughter and attack by those same forces, and we've been damned lucky another 9/11-style attack hasn't happened, or that the current kleptocracy hasn't spurred or allowed one to happen! That will unify nothing except our devolution into chaos. It's easy if the United States became a failed state, for the world currency to switch from the dollar to the Chinese Yuan without a blink. They could relocate the UN and Wall Street to Europe. We could in a fortnight become a byword and a historical footnote.

He is a man who has never had a country like any lover or wife he's not unwilling to cheat on.

My concern is as a people, WE have a country instead of a badlands of anarchy.
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Roger Ailes, Roy Cohn and Reality...


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


Republican media strategist Roger Ailes launched Fox News Channel in 1996, ostensibly as a "fair and balanced" counterpoint to what he regarded as the liberal establishment media. But according to a remarkable document buried deep within the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the intellectual forerunner for Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the "prejudices of network news" and deliver "pro-administration" stories to heartland television viewers.

The memo—called, simply enough, "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News"— is included in a 318-page cache of documents detailing Ailes' work for both the Nixon and George H.W. Bush administrations that we obtained from the Nixon and Bush presidential libraries. Through his firms REA Productions and Ailes Communications, Inc., Ailes served as paid consultant to both presidents in the 1970s and 1990s, offering detailed and shrewd advice ranging from what ties to wear to how to keep the pressure up on Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the first Gulf War.
 

Roger Ailes' Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News, John Cook, Gawker, 2011 article


Near the beginning of “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” the new documentary about the lawyer and power broker who mentored Donald Trump, an interviewee says, “Roy Cohn’s contempt for people, his contempt for the law, was so evident on his face that if you were in his presence, you knew you were in the presence of evil.” He wasn’t being hyperbolic.

In the 1950s, as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy, Cohn wasn’t just a key player in the anti-Communist witch hunts of the time. He also persecuted men in the State Department who were suspected of being gay, despite being a closeted gay man himself. Later, he became a consigliere to New York’s mafia families, some of whom also had ties to Trump, even as he ranted about law and order.
 

Roy Cohn Is How We Got Trump
From McCarthyism to the mob to Trump, Cohn enabled evil.
Why did elites embrace him?
Michelle Goldberg, New York Times


More than four years into the experience, Trump can now pull a stunt that would have obliterated any previous politicians’ career before sundown and get away with it, because it’s incrementally more of exactly what he has been doing since he rode that golden escalator into this elongated infamy we now endure.

This is part and parcel of creeping fascism. An instance of horrifying racism becomes merely “expected” from the president, and then he moves on to another one, and then another, and another after that. He and his administration are laboring to normalize the grotesque.

History is the scaffold for the present.

Though Washington, DC was designed by the genius (and likely, closeted) African American Benjamin Banneker, it is, as of 2019, applying the umpteenth time for statehood. Moscow Mitch will block it as the grim reaper of all things decent, because it will "give an advantage to democrats." True. The District of Columbia will gain two senators and as long as we insist upon the anachronism, the slave state favoring electoral college. It should be extended to Puerto Rico, Guam and other territories. It is a tacit admittance the GOP's policies aren't attractive to a large swath of the population. Hence, the best way to win is to block, inhibit, intimidate, purge, voter ID or otherwise Russian-hack the vote.

We are here because we never dealt with the nation's demons of Native American genocide and land theft. We are here because we told ourselves captive, silly myths about enslaving Africans was "Christianize-ing the savages," and further logical fallacies about not needing to pay the descendants of centuries-free labor reparations.

Not withstanding the poignant observations of his college professor, the one thing he's studied and mastered brilliantly is chaos and division. It's the genius of feral instinct, not unlike a rodent in survival mode.

We are here because of the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." If they had simply added the modifier "White Anglo Saxon Protestant Cisgender Male," the matter would have been clarified. There would have been no 13th, 14th, 15th or 19th Amendments; Shirley Chisholm, Hillary Clinton, Harvey Milk, Barack Obama or Pete Buttigieg.

We are here because one man is a disciple of Roger Ailes and Roy Cohn's dark arts - either directly or indirectly - he's expertly mimicked their panache for not telling the truth to Olympian heights, and fabricates the reality he would rather than is. He has a ready-made audience of anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, climate change and science deniers. He has a bully charm to elicit the same behaviors from his minions - either fall in line, or be turned on in a tweet. 

My acerbic commentary on Facebook regarding the article by John Fea "Why is Christian America Supporting Donald Trump?":

Because the first supremacy on this soil was Christian supremacy: it takes balls and psychopathy to slaughter the same First Nation people who kindly got them through their first winter. Many colonists resorted to cannibalism - look it up. It made it easy to kidnap Africans whose agricultural expertise made the colonists richer than sultans and kings. Many a lynch mob were the same people who read the good book minutes before the barbarous act, and many “Christian” masters sired Mulatto children or practiced “buck breaking” - raping male slaves to dehumanize them in front of their families, despite in either case being married with children and in many cases, “ministers.”

The veil is just off. This is who they’ve always been.
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Handmaids, Families and Utopias...

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Image Source: Trump's 'Sharpie Gate' Hurricane Dorian Stunt is Getting Trolled on Twitter
Alison Sullivan, God's Daily Dot

 

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


I will make a commentary on "Sharpie Gate" momentarily.

The Handmaid's Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, originally published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian state resembling a theonomy that overthrows the United States government. The novel focuses on the journey of the handmaid Offred. Her name derives from the possessive form "of Fred"; handmaids are forbidden to use their birth names and must echo the male, or master, whom they serve.

Beginning with a staged attack that killed the president and most of Congress, a radical political group calling itself the "Sons of Jacob", exploiting religious ideology closely resembling some traits of Christian Reconstructionism, launches a revolution. The United States Constitution is suspended, newspapers are censored, and what was formerly the United States of America changes drastically into a theonomic military dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead. The new regime moves quickly to consolidate its power, overtaking all pre-existing religious groups, including traditional Christian denominations; and reorganizes society along a new militarized, hierarchical model of Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. Above all, the biggest change is the severe limitation of people's rights, especially those of women, making them unable to hold property, handle money, as well as forbidding them to read or write.

The story is told in the first-person narration by a woman called Offred. In this era of declining birth rates due to increasing infertility brought about by environmental pollution and radiation, she is one of those few women with healthy reproductive systems. Hence she is forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class of men "Commanders", and is known as a "Handmaid" based on the biblical story of Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah. Apart from Handmaids, other women are also classed socially and follow a strict dress code, ranked highest to lowest: the Commanders' Wives in blue, the Handmaids in red with the exception of white veils around their faces, the Aunts (who train and indoctrinate the Handmaids) in brown, the Martha's (cooks and maids) in green, "Econo-wives" who handle everything in the domestic sphere in stripes, young and unmarried girls in white and widows in black.

Source: The Handmaid's Tale, Wikipedia

Aptly described by one viewer as "the prologue to The Handmaid's Tale", Netflix's The Family is the new docuseries taking the world by storm.

A deeply gripping tale, the critically acclaimed show tells the story of the clandestine Christian organization called 'The Family' and their hidden influence on U.S. politics.

Based on a true story, The Family is a docuseries that combines archival photos and interviews with dramatic reenactments to investigate a secret Christian organisation known as The Fellowship Foundation, colloquially referred to as 'The Family'.

Their Washington D.C.-based network, comprised solely of men, includes numerous high-powered politicians, diplomats and religious leaders from around the world, who conspire together to influence legislation on a global level.

Their leader is a man named Doug Coe, described in the trailer as "the most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of". Coe believed that God's work was best carried out away from the public eye.

Source: The Family, docuseries on Netflix, Harper's Bazaar

The Family author, Jeff Sharlet wrote it and its follow on, C Street as warnings on the abuse of power by an un-elected political organization that has out-sized influence on the US government. We've accepted the National Prayer Breakfast as "normal," when in strict constructionist reading of The Constitution, flagrantly violates The First Amendment.

Margaret Atwood opined in interview that what she wrote in 1985 isn't something she dreamed up out of whole cloth: there are real-life analogs. What was dramatized in the book and now in the series as the overthrow of the federal republic, suspension of the US Constitution has a prologue we often don't see...until the "Sons of Jacob" think they can openly get away with violence. They may first have an ultra secret organization that no one except for one truthful author has ever heard about.

 

*****


The joke is first evangelical literature in the 1970s and the 1980s focused on the "end times" as a terrible, awful future event to avoid. 2 Chronicles 7:14 was often quoted at the end of a popular litany of speculative literature as a cosmic "get out of jail" card with the almighty. It also calmed and soothed Christian writers' audiences enough to consider the next book in their careers of scaring the bejesus out of their readers.

For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA) set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white, Christian nation.

Drawing on more than four decades of polling data, The End of White Christian America explains and analyzes the waning vitality of WCA. Robert P. Jones argues that the visceral nature of today’s most heated issues—the vociferous arguments around same-sex marriage and religious and sexual liberty, the rise of the Tea Party following the election of our first black president, and stark disagreements between black and white Americans over the fairness of the criminal justice system—can only be understood against the backdrop of white Christians’ anxieties as America’s racial and religious topography shifts around them.

The End of White Christian America, Robert P. Jones, Amazon.com

The mythology of Star Trek likely germinated in the nightmares Gene Roddenberry and people steeped in Cold War "duck and cover" drills (me included), thought a lot about: would World War III be the existential LAST war? Worlds orbit suns as we now observe throughout the universe. They do not require air, water or life - sentient or otherwise, just gravity, planetary physics and an orbital path.

It is mythology because benevolent aliens happening upon a fledgling warp species is pure "Deus ex machina." Warp drive is as imaginative as unicorns. Aliens that can traverse vast distances would probably be indifferent, if not militant to a technologically emerging species. Roddenberry could have easily made them Klingons.

The short-lived Enterprise, debuting days after September 11, 2001, tried to document our unsteady first steps to the stars, prior to Federation bureaucracies, Prime Directives and the original intro that became The Captain's Oath.

The CBS streamed, so far sophomore seasoned Discovery series not only fleshed out Captain Christopher Pike - the previous USS Enterprise's highest ranking Starfleet officer - it briefly alluded to the third world war in season 2 regarding ex-pat Earthlings and a time-traveling Red Angel (no spoilers - stream, binge and catch up).

What's missing is the cause.

Lying about Hurricane Dorian like a third grader forging his 68 on a report card to an "88" before his parents see it. It is callous of the lives lost in the Atlantic (20 and counting); the height of narcissistic personality disorder, and also illegal.

18 U.S.C. §2074 makes it a crime to issue a counterfeit weather forecast, claiming that it was issued by the Weather Bureau.

Despite a rare rebuke by the National Weather Service, who ostensibly WORK for the orange twit, he doubled, tripled and QUADRUPLED down, exhaustively dragging us ALL into his mad Twitter reality where he is king for life, he is right all the time and his "great brain" is the purest of genius, even stable.

We pulled out of the nuclear arms deal with Iran with the impulsive, not thought through, non-reviewed action that let us walk out of the Paris Climate Accords. We may have to send troops to ensure Iran doesn't reconstitute it's nuclear enrichment program (what the deal was supposed to do); we may end up paying trillions mitigating the after effects of super heated ocean water resulting in climate change damages after calling it a "Chinese hoax."

2053 is the fictional start of the Trek timeline almost species ending third world war. Ten years after that, Zefram Cochrane flies the Phoenix and attracts the attention of Vulcans who are (as written), benevolent, logical and vegetarian. We weren't interesting until we warped, because apparently thermonuclear annihilation and near species extinction is rather boring on a galactic scale.

The "end" may not take thirty-four years. It might just take an errant tweet during a septuagenarian bowel movement in the midst of "executive time" to produce a demonstrably pathetic lie about Alabama...or, a mushroom cloud.

Homo Sapiens to Homo Stultus...a gross, but sadly fitting epitaph.

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” James Baldwin
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Helsinki to Biarritz...

 

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


We got here from a so-called "reality show" about a faux billionaire:

The Apprentice was first aired in 2004, and presented Trump as the ultra-successful real estate deal-maker who would choose from a cast of candidates competing for a job in the Trump Organization. Trump's catch phrase on the show was, "You're fired," which he would deliver pointing at that week's unsuccessful candidate.

Editor Jonathan Braun told the publication that Trump would fire contestants on the show on a whim, forcing editors to "reverse engineer" programs to make Trump's decisions seem coherent.

Show producer Mark Burnett remarked, "We know each week who has been fired, and therefore, you're editing in reverse." Amid a series of firings and resignations in the Trump administration, he remarked, "I find it strangely validating to hear that they're doing the same thing in the White House."

Production staff described how their job was to elevate Trump's image, whose star had fallen since his 1980s heyday of fame.

"Most of us knew he was a fake," Braun, who worked on six series of the show, told The New Yorker. "He had just gone through I don't know how many bankruptcies. But we made him out to be the most important person in the world. It was like making the court jester the king."

Louis Anslow points out a certain German chancellor was initially considered a joke as well. As he posits, "how did that work out?"

For someone that constantly carps "no collusion" and "the Russian hoax," he gives fodder to those who think otherwise:

Biarritz, France (CNN) - A sharp and sometimes bitter disagreement broke out between President Donald Trump and several G7 leaders over whether to allow Russia back into their club during a welcome dinner on Saturday, according to two diplomatic officials and a senior US official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump, as he did in public over the course of the summit, ardently advocated for it, the officials said. As the leaders discussed issues like Iran and fires in the Amazon rain forest, Trump interjected and asked why Russia should not be included in the talks, given its size and role in global affairs.

That met sharp resistance from some of the leaders, principally German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They argued Russia had grown more anti-democratic since it was ejected in 2014 for its incursion into Ukraine, disqualifying it from rejoining the G7.

The dispute amounted to one of the most heated moments of this weekend's G7. Afterward, Trump publicly insisted the gathering was marked by displays of unity and cooperation. While the leaders did hold amiable discussions throughout both the dinner and other sessions, the exchange on Russia was notable for the fiercely argued views on both sides, the officials said.

He might as well put on a Russian ballerina tutu, "I love Putin" t-shirt and cheerleader pompoms:

It wasn’t the first time Trump has said his predecessor was somehow responsible for the act of aggression that got Russia booted from the G-8, and he’s never been able to come up with anything better than “whatever” in explaining how exactly President Obama was supposed to stop the annexation. All that matters, according to Trump, is that Obama is bad and Putin, even at his most anti-democratic, is incapable of wrongdoing. Just like Trump.

Trump’s anti-Obama screed on Monday came after he was asked about his belief that Putin should be readmitted to the G7 despite showing no remorse for his indiscretions, a cause Trump championed at last year’s G7 in Canada, and again over the weekend in France. As the Washington Post reported on Monday, Trump’s desire to bring Putin back into the fold was far more intense in Biarritz than the president let on publicly, which is saying a lot.

His campaign began on Saturday night, when world leaders met for the first time over dinner. As the Post writes, after beginning cordially, the occasion went “off the rails” when Trump started lobbying on behalf of Putin. His dining partners were not pleased:

“The entire 44-year vision of the G-7 gathering, according to the non-U.S. participants, is to hash out global issues among like-minded democracies. So the discussion quickly turned even more fundamental: whether the leaders should assign any special weight to being a democracy, officials said.

Most of the other participants forcefully believed the answer was yes. Trump believed the answer was no. The push back against him was delivered so passionately that the U.S. president’s body language changed as one leader after another dismissed his demand, according to a senior official who watched the exchange. He crossed his arms. His stance became more combative.”

Not even Boris Johnson, the new Brexit-happy prime minister of England, was on Trump’s side. The next day, he reportedly gave plaudits to French President Emmanuel Macron for how he diffused the argument over dinner the previous night. “You did very well there last night,” Johnson said, according to the Post. “My God, that was a difficult one.

We are five years and forty-eight hours from halcyon days when tan suits were the controversial rage. We're in a daily abusive relationship with a gas lighter and his cult following (a short list): Alex Jones between throwing obvious psychotic fits and accusing anything beyond his third grade comprehension of reading and math to "false flag operations"; feckless evangelicals that have given up any pretense of moral authority, KKK et al racist domestic terrorists and Q-Anon, the natural online evolution from the outer fringes of 4CHAN and 8CHAN per "It Came From Something Awful" author Dan Beran. It could yet become more awful. Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" was a fanciful, dystopian novel and a fascinating Hulu series: not a blueprint. White evangelicals have strange hard on's.

Orange Satan's spiritual and hair mousse twin in the old country suspended parliament to popular backlash, an assault on the British Constitution that can only push our own constitutional assaults to the forefront of his "limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character" per General "mad dog" Mattis. 84 environmental regulations are being rolled back, inclusive of methane - a gas along with carbon dioxide that exacerbates global warming, as fires burn in the Amazon and a hurricane barrels towards Florida. The Tongass National Forest mitigates climate change like the Amazon - he's ordered chopped down. We are becoming Apokolips.

It makes as much sense as rolling coal exhaust trucks "owning the libs" polluting the same air they breathe on the same planet. It's the equivalent of shooting their own feet...and laughing about the gaping hole.

Nothing about what he does makes any sense other than political penis envy of the smarter, (bigger hands), more popular black president who's legacy he's hellbent in cartoon megalomania villainy in trying to destroy. Champagne glasses are clicking in the Kremlin, who like their smokestack gremlin brethren ALSO live on the same planet!

In comic books, good typically triumphs over evil.

This life is not a comic book.

There will be no movie...nor a sequel.
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Caligula...

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


This week was epic crazy, but republics have done crazy before.

The third of Rome’s emperors, Caligula (formally known as Gaius) achieved feats of waste and carnage during his four-year reign (A.D. 37-41) unmatched even by his infamous nephew Nero.

After Germanicus died in 17 A.D., Caligula’s family fell from favor in the eyes of the emperor Tiberius and the powerful Praetorian guardsman Sejanus, who saw the elder sons of the popular general as political rivals. Caligula’s mother and brothers were accused of treason, and all died in prison or exile. Caligula’s grandmother Antonia managed to shield him from these intrigues until Sejanus’ death in 31. The next year, Caligula moved in with the aging Tiberius, who gleefully indulged his great-nephew’s worst habits, commenting that he was “nursing a viper in Rome’s bosom.”

Tiberius adopted Caligula and made him and his cousin Gemellus equal heirs to the empire. When the emperor died in 37, Caligula’s Praetorian ally Marco arranged for Caligula to be proclaimed sole emperor. A year later, Caligula would order both Marco and Gemellus put to death.

Caligula was not quite 25 years old when he took power in 37 A.D. At first, his succession was welcomed in Rome: He announced political reforms and recalled all exiles. But in October of 37, a serious illness unhinged Caligula, leading him to spend the remainder of his reign exploring the worst aspects of his nature.

Caligula lavished money on building projects, from the practical (aqueducts and harbors) to the cultural (theaters and temples) to the downright bizarre (requisitioning hundreds of Roman merchant ships to construct a 2-mile floating bridge across the Bay of Bauli so he could spend two days galloping back and forth across it). In 39 and 40 he led military campaigns to the Rhine and the English Channel, where he eschewed battles for theatrical displays, commanding his troops to “plunder the sea” by gathering shells in their helmets).

Source: Caligula, History.com editors

He picked a fight with Denmark, the Prime Minister his latest strong, intelligent woman he's called "nasty." He has apparently usurped deity and Jedi Knight masters, though it would be entertaining to see if he attempts "force-walking" over still waters. I'm not putting it past him, I just have more confidence in gravity.

The hashtag Antichrist is trending on his favorite social media platform. There's a few conspiracy theory sites up, just as there were for President Bush and President Obama. People are dusting off their Bibles and researching scripture.

He's headed to the G7 summit (what can POSSIBLY go wrong?) to represent US interests, who've pointedly decided to not issue a statement for the first time. He wants Russia (the people and strongman stooge he refuses to insult) back in the august body after being punished for invading Crimea.

This is the same person that descended the escalator in Trump tower. His opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton used a quote by Dr. Maya Angelou: "when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time!"

He is mentally ill, and his sociopathy is understandably exhausting. The Al Wilson song "The Snake" he misappropriates to castigate immigrants is both projection and Freudian slip.

One of the first psychiatrists who sounded the alarm over Donald Trump's state of mind has expressed renewed concern that the president's recent pronouncements show his cognitive abilities are deteriorating.

This week, Trump canceled a planned state visit to Denmark after the country's prime minister refused to countenance his idea of the U.S. purchasing Greenland, the European nation's autonomous territory. He later described Mette Frederiksen's statement as "nasty."

In addition, under fire for saying Jewish-Americans who vote for Democrats showed a "total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty," a comment criticized as an anti-Semitic trope, Trump shared a message from conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root, who said Israeli Jews love the president like he is "the second coming of God."

Later on Wednesday, Trump appeared to repeat the theme on the south lawn of the White House, where he said he was the "chosen one" in his trade spat with China.

Dr. Lance Dodes, former assistant psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School, contributed to the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.

He's the master of distraction, his only real talent. It's similar to his calling in and pretending to be his own publicist, John Barron et al, extolling the "virtues" of Donald Trump. It's similar to his manipulation of New York tabloids. It's just on steroids every time he has a bowel movement during "executive time" and flies his fat little fingers on Twitter. His hubris has merely been digitized.

But we've been lucky. Damned lucky. There hasn't been a 9-11 attack, minus the digital one on our sovereignty to pick our own leaders. We had Hurricanes fueled by climate change - see Puerto Rico. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were existential crises that plummeted the popularity of Bush and his political party. The war-of-choice in Iraq didn't help and increased the chances of his successor not being Senator John McCain (R.I.P.), but any democratic candidate, it just so happened the one in 2008 was historic.

My comfort: Dr. Rachel Bitecofer is a name and political scientist you should become familiar with.  She predicted the Blue Wave in the 2018 midterms and predicts a 278 electoral college victory over Orange Satan's 197. The biblical forty and two months reign would be about right for this Antichrist, as in not Christian by a long shot.

I'm motivated to vote in 2020, and so should you be. It would let Jeff Tiedrich get back to his day job. It would lower all our blood pressures, including his.

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Lords and Serfs...

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Danny Kaye - The Court Jester


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


If there is a lesson in all of this it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: "A republic, if you can keep it." The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

Richard R. Beeman, Ph.D. - National Constitution Center

The idea behind a republic: "a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law" Merriam-Webster

I seriously doubt he ever planned to win.

The outrageous things he said on the campaign trail quickly got replaced by the daily outrageous things he says in the oval office.

It's why he never backed out of the Moscow Tower deal: the reason he doesn't look like he has a plan or a clue is because he's NEVER had one beyond his own wallet.

His former life as a conman masquerading as a billionaire on a faux reality show he has publicly announced he misses. A child of privilege and the hell spawn of a New York real estate scion, he's never had to face his own limitations as no one in his space of living has ever given him any. He's never doubted his own self-aggrandized fantasies of himself as he dismissed quickly anyone that countered the addictive fantasy with stone-cold facts. Thus, climate change is a Chinese hoax and Russia didn't install a Manchurian candidate.

Nielsen Ratings alone could never feed the ravenous appetite of a person that craves constant attention; that may never forgive the deserved punning received at the White House Correspondents Dinner, itself a response by then President Obama on his racist birtherism shtick. It drove up ratings. It drove attention and crowds to him. It's the kind of thing that feeds the never-ending hunger of a malignant narcissist.

How does such a being... come to be?

For [Dr. Justin] Frank, the dynamic between infant and mother has a profound influence on a person’s psychological outlook and health. Trump’s mother was Mary Anne MacLeod, who arrived in New York from the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis in 1930. After six years as a domestic worker and nanny, she married the property developer Fred Trump and they had five children.

The otherwise garrulous president has said little about his mother. Notably, for his first few months in the Oval Office, the only photo behind his desk was of his father. His mother was added later. Yet, Frank points out, 72-year-old Trump’s gravity-defying hair is a very deliberate homage to his mum’s.

“The fact that he tries to get us to feel his anxiety and he externalizes responsibility makes me feel that, as a young child, he did not feel contained or held by his mother or other caretakers,” he says. “He didn’t have a strong maternal force in his life.

“The one thing we do know biographically is that when he was two, the last child in the family was born, but when his mother went to the hospital she didn’t come home right away. She had a hemorrhage, she had four surgeries and came close to dying and there was virtually no talk about that in the family. His older siblings just went to school as if it were normal while they’re terribly worried about their mother.”

His mother’s frequent absences, Frank suggests, left Trump devoid of empathy.

“One of the things that you do when you’re feeling ignored and abandoned in some way,” he says, “is develop contempt for that part of yourself. You have the hatred of your own weakness and you then become a bully and make other people feel weak, or mock other people to make it clear that you’re the strong one and that you don’t have any needs.

In the end, he has mommy issues.

He tweets from the shitter, and gets two strong, opinionated congresswomen barred from Israel. He belittles and demeans those he feels most intimidated by: opinionated, strong women. It explains his venom in the 2016 campaign against his opponent. His following may be like him: everyone loves mommy until she runs for president. The United States managed before Barack Obama to maintain the continued hegemony of White Anglo Saxon Protestant (John F. Kennedy the noted exception) Cisgender Male Supremacy. No person of color before him came close, no woman, no openly gay candidate, no Asian, Hispanic/Latino. The Make America Great Again (ironically, "MAGA" in Nigerian means one who has been conned) desperately wants to restore that sociopathic order, murderous to everyone else but themselves.

He wishes to be a lord like the royal families in Europe, always emphasizing innate qualities bequeathed by biology or deity: "good genes," a public compensation for feeling less than worthy of his ascension to a golden toilet throne.

He wishes to be lord in a realm of actual billionaires and successful business empires who haven't filed for bankruptcy six times, closed down and settled fraudulent universities or fraudulent charities and Olympic level lawsuits only exceeded by his pathological lies.
 

He wishes to be a lord above the serfs who follow him, that like any conman he disdains.

In the end, despite the Newsweek article, he's lower than a court jester made king...he may even think he's as witty and talented as his fellow New York resident, the late Danny Kaye.

In the end, he's just Biff: "Lord of the Flies" (and we know what they eat).
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Image Source: Entertainment Weekly
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The Cesspool...

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Credit: Getty Images

 

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


Last month, I temporarily deactivated my Twitter account following a colossal dump of racist abuse into my feed, including a man in Texas whipping up his followers to phone into an NPR radio show on which I was a guest to ask about “white genocide.” Others played a guessing game around my skin color in the belief this would help them gauge my IQ. On YouTube, one of the editors of Mankind Quarterly, a pseudoscientific journal founded after the Second World War to argue against desegregation and racial mixing, imitated me by dressing up in an “Indian shirt” (I am British; my parents were born in India). The comments underneath said I should I go back to where I came from.

It’s just another day online.

The Internet Is a Cesspool of Racist Pseudoscience
Angela Saini, Scientific American and author of Superior: The Return of Race Science


I will take a week off before classes start in the fall.

The Internet is a development of science as well as the military-industrial complex. Scientists, engineers and librarians used as "FTP" - file transfer protocol, which predates what we've come to recognize as HTTP - hypertext transfer protocol.

If you peruse DARPA's website, there is historical reference to the idea of something that would survive a thermonuclear attack. The previous communications protocols from WWII was a "hub-spoke" configuration: thinking of a wagon wheel, the hub was at the center and typically the headquarters for deployed assets in theater. The spokes were distant users of the communications network the hub would have set up with an engineering design called a communications plan (in a previous life, I was that person as an Air Force Communications/Computer Systems Officer). Thus the enemy - presumed the USSR during the Cold War - would simply destroy the hub and the spokes would be in the dark and disconnected, or deploy an EMP - electromagnetic pulse, exploding a nuclear device in atmosphere, disrupting most if not all high frequency transmissions. The idea of a "web" was so that could not occur.

The network involved satellites of course, and the distant users were tied to the hub with troposphere line-of-sight microwave horns, radio frequency equipment that multiplexed voice and digital through encrypted teletype, audio and digital switches. It was a beautiful thing to witness when it all worked.

What is developed for the government like Velcro eventually gets to the masses. AOL is an ancient form of email and web browsing that required dial-up phones and a loud modem. Netscape was the first attempt at commercial web design software, relying mostly on the aforementioned HTTP. Before social media, people started bantering or bickering back-and-forth on message boards or would send "flame mail" trying to make a point. When using company assets to send witticism or derogatory commentary, many then and now found themselves in the unemployment lines.

As I alluded to in Filter and Subtext, what particularly used to happen as a societal breaking mechanism - editors in the case of print media; producers for film - pretty much no longer exists. One may publish their first thoughts, misspelled and grammar failing; grainy, amateurish film made on cheap laptops or with cellphone cameras. Any pointing to written errors labels you a grammar Nazi; any video has to be "true" because it's on the Internet with high views. The ready access to information has led to the dangerous belief that no one has to train and become expert in a field to have an informed opinion.

The Internet is both falsely empowering and the source of demographic demarcation: by having the ability to get anything in an instant gives the impression that you KNOW a subject. As a person that reads academic papers for a living, I can assure you in the first read of any paper, I won't know the subject. I will read the abstract several times followed by the introduction, experimental procedure; results and conclusions. I will read some of the papers in the references. There are words, phrases and either physical or chemical compounds I'm not familiar with (Google). I write things down; take notes. I work through the formulas in the paper so I can understand them. It is a tedious, grinding process that takes time. I recall a maxim in the martial arts: "a black belt is a white belt that never quit." So it is with building any level of expertise in well...anything. By choosing "news feeds" instead of reading morning and evening print media as well as three main networks essentially reciting from the same Associated Press scriptures, we automatically place ourselves in silos that when we try to converse with one another, devolve into electronic and actual shouting matches.

Tom Nichols is a college professor at the US Naval War College, occasional opinion contributor on MSNBC and until recently, was a member of the Republican Party. In his treatise "The Death of Expertise," he points to a disdain of experts on the right and the left; the confusion of confirmation bias (finding the thing that you already agree with confirming what you already believe) as "evidence" your position and opinions are true. This likely parallels the transistorizing of the cumbersome and large hub-spoke network into our hip pockets. It may empower those unfamiliar with the Dunning-Kruger Effect that despite their sense of empowerment, they may be way out over their skis. They might tweet the first thing that comes to mind while sitting on the loo during "executive time." In such a world, everyone's an expert and no one is for the most part humble enough to admit they might be wrong or at least misinformed about a subject. In such a world, the warming temperatures are ignored and the science is scrubbed from government sites as "inconvenient" to the stated China hoax theory. In such a world, pseudoscience is pushed in every corridor of existence as "free speech" and "teach the [faux] controversy." Facts won't matter: There is still a Flat Earth Society in the 21st century (with a website). There are still conspiracy theorists that think the Moon landing was faked.

In such a world, the chimera list of wrong-headed things that can be believed: Alt-Right (Wrong) racist tropes, Bigfoot, the Clinton's murdering people or running child sex rings; crisis actors at mass shootings, E.T., fascism (aided and abetted by our own cleverness per a virtual Yuval Noah Harari at TED); flying saucers, Godzilla, Loch Ness Monster, Neo Nazis, Ouija boards, Pizza Gate, poltergeists, Q-Anon is almost endless, but not ONE can bother to read the Mueller Report or believe that our election processes were as attacked as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and walls of the Pentagon fell to ruinous rubble on 9/11.

The FBI intelligence bulletin from the bureau’s Phoenix field office, dated May 30, 2019, describes “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists,” as a growing threat, and notes that it is the first such report to do so. It lists a number of arrests, including some that haven’t been publicized, related to violent incidents motivated by fringe beliefs.

The document specifically mentions QAnon, a shadowy network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump, and Pizzagate, the theory that a pedophile ring including Clinton associates was being run out of the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant (which didn’t actually have a basement).

“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states. It also goes on to say the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.

Exclusive: FBI document warns conspiracy theories are a new domestic terrorism threat
Jana Winter, Yahoo News


"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

In such a world, truth itself becomes a casualty, and the opposite of freeing truths is slavery.
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Aleph Null or Not...

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No, it's not real. Credit: Getty Images

 

Topics: Astronomy, Drake Equation, Existentialism, SETI


For many people, "UFO" is synonymous with aliens, but it's worth reminding ourselves that it literally stands for "unidentified flying object." An unidentified object could be just about anything, because … well, it's unidentified. One of our mottoes in science is that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." This doesn't mean that crazy-sounding things are never true; it means that we should practice due diligence when thinking about overturning well-understood or well-tested ideas. This motto also suggests we keep an eye on Occam's razor—the idea that the simplest explanation is the most likely to be true.

As enthusiastic as I had been regarding alien visitations (there was a cottage industry in the 1970s that still thrives in Internet circles), one has to ask the question: what would aliens want with Earth? Between here and there whatever their governments are in need of, they can either engineer it or find other options way before engaging warp speed.

Colonization: If history serves as guide, the First Nation/Native Americans encountered colonists that barely survived their first winter. They were repaid like the natives who met Columbus with slaughter.

Africans did trade captured rival tribesmen and women in the budding international slave trade that "made America great." They conferred with Europeans typically with superior weaponry for trade of valuables to compensate their treachery.

Any aliens that can travel parsecs from their home world to Earth doesn't have anything benevolent in mind once arriving, E.T. or Star Trek not withstanding.

Ignoring us: When is the last time you had a conversation with a moth? On the evolutionary scale, you have way more sophistication than something flitting from tree to flower. Aliens if existing and surviving millions of years older than us probably if anything might have the same relationship to us as we have to Lepidoptera.

The sobering possibility: climate change, conventional conflicts, mass shootings pollution and nuclear conflagration - humans are far smarter than the lowly moth, but moths nor butterflies are destroying their own habitat.

We may not see aliens because they may have caused their own extinction before they built starships.

 

No E.T. Life Yet? That might be a warning, Kelsey Johnson, Scientific American

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Of Memes and Men...

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Image source: Facebook

 

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


We were inundated with Facebook memes, videos and caricatures of Robert Mueller.

We saw him pose heroically as a Marine when he served in Vietnam.

We saw him superimposed as Sheriff Matt Dillon (played by actor James Arness) from the two-decade television series, “Gunsmoke.”

As much as I enjoy the movie theater and seeing my once comic books on the big screen, like Bill Mahr has opined, I think we're inundated with superhero movies to the point like our fixation with reality shows, we're losing our ability to use critical thinking and reasoning. It has disastrously resulted in a reality show president with demonstrable Internet Addiction (Twitter) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (across the pond, Boris Johnson is now British Prime Minister). Of course, we give such a limited being, a caricature bereft of any respect for scientific inquiry, now having control over entities that will impact our addressing (or, ignoring) climate change and the nuclear codes.

Spoiler alert: we don't.
 

This country has been surprised by the way the world looks now
They don't know if they want to be Matt Dillon or Bob Dylan
They don't know if they want to be diplomats ...
Or continue the same policy of nuclear nightmare diplomacy
John Foster Dulles ain't nothing but the name of an airport now

The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia
They want to go back as far as they can ...
Even if it's only as far as last week
Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards

And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes
Riding to the rescue at the last possible moment
The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse ...
Or, the man who always came to save America at the last moment
Someone always came to save America at the last moment
Especially in "B" movies

Gil Scott-Heron, B Movie, Genius Lyrics


In the end, Robert Mueller is a 74 year old man that clearly didn’t want to be there. He wrote his 448 page report for a different time and American: when we got our news from morning and evening local papers, not mobile apps. He wrote it for an American that developed powers of concentration during the dominance of radio, listening intently to every word spoken. He wrote it for an America that had fewer options for distraction in the form of a plethora of cable channels and Internet websites. It is an America and American that does not exist now.

He's not Matt Dillon - tough as the laptop doctored memes made of him, or the videos of him handcuffing Orange Satan and leading him off to the pokey. He doesn't have the deep voice he had on earlier videos of his speech patterns. He's an older man now. Entropy diminishes our faculties over time. It's biology, chemistry, physics: senescence. Despite a billion-dollar industry selling us all manner of snake oil, there is nothing we can do to stop it from occurring to any and all of us. At best, we can ease its transition.

Yes. He could have used the deferment the draft board gave him during the Vietnam War: he had actual bad knees (not fake bone spurs). He conditioned himself to pass the grueling Marine physical and served his country. He went through Army Ranger School and Airborne School to jump out of perfectly good airplanes. He is in the Army Ranger Hall of Fame (I didn't know there was such a thing). After September 11, 2001, he steadily lead the FBI during some dark times as we entered the 21st Century, unsure if we'd survive at all.

Yet, there were his fellow republicans Wednesday with exception of a respectful few attacking him. The ageism jokes were repugnant of elected officials, yet it's on video. The Orange Caligula crowed it as a "win": he's consumed an entire political party, making it as crude, traitorous, licentious and feckless as himself. Pundit's like Chris Wallace said it looked "disastrous for the democrats." Chuck Todd said the "optics were terrible."

When did facts need optics? When did an attack on our nation (9/11; the 2016 election) need a band? "Infotainment" should have never entered our lexicon in the 1980s. It's made us less than non-serious: it's made us silly.

Don’t think of visuals or theatrics. Have you READ The Mueller Report? Download it for G-d's sake! You binge watch streaming videos, so you can digest this in a weekend! Did you HEAR Mueller use the words "unpatriotic" and "problematic" with regards to this president*? Did you hear that the Russians are interfering, not next year, but NOW? My senator, Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va) just released the intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. It's chilling, but not enough for Mitch McConnell et al. to hesitate blocking election protections that would - in their warped minds - not favor republicans. No worries.

Fun fact: no president has ever been removed from office by impeachment. Jackson after the Civil War like Bill Clinton after Monica Lewinsky was impeached in the House but both measures failed in the Senate. Their records still reflect their impeachment.

Nixon after the Watergate impeachment inquiry was looking at it actually happening in the House and upheld in trial in the Senate with members of his own party. The inquiry was after he won a landslide reelection victory: 49 states to his opponent George McGovern's 1. He won 60.7% of the popular vote and was the first republican to sweep the south. His popularity fell after the inquiry revealed his malfeasance, and he resigned rather than be removed by members of his own party when they actually had principles and followed their Oath of Office.

Mitch McConnell above all others has reduced the senate from a political body that prided itself on deliberating hard issues and coming to consensus into a tribal, unconstitutional free-for-all. Oleg Deripaska, indicted by Mueller Russian oligarch and close adviser to Putin is building an aluminum plant in his state - no worries. Donald Trump would likely survive as McConnell would "pull a Merrick Garland," and just refuse to hold a trial. Since the votes would go on partisan lines, that would put senate republicans on record supporting a lawless president before a major election. His impeachment however would stand, on his record for all time. Impeachment is also not just about this president*, but the next actual one, and what we as a nation will tolerate.
 

Nancy Pelosi hasn’t brought forward an impeachment inquiry because previous to this, only 85 democrats supported impeachment. That number has climbed, and will likely go higher.

However, if the thesis of the argument is this president* is not following The Constitution and thus constitutes a crisis, neither is the current Speaker of the House. Slow-walking an impeachment inquiry is either also a constitutional crisis, or it's not. If NO ONE is following The Constitution, there effectively isn't one and the rule of law is a myth: it is the rule of whims and notions of current moments and times as arbitrated by a pathologically lying narcissist with impulse control.

Lastly, if he gets away with it, interference in our elections by foreign countries becomes in the words of Mueller “the new normal,” and our democracy* as well as our sovereignty* as currently our Putin-installed president* will forever have asterisks next to their titles. We won't have to worry about immigrants of any stripe.

Our sovereignty will depend on our getting out to vote en masse to counter any foreign election meddling, domestic voter suppression and the return of an "oldie-but-goody" in Florida: poll taxes!

We will cease to be a country.

White supremacy was this nation's origin; racism unto oblivion and the ash heap will be our epitaph.

“We will take America without firing a shot. We do not have to invade the U.S. We will destroy you from within....

Attributed to Nikita Khrushchev in comments from Barbara Fowler post Helsinki, Orlando Sentinel
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Liar Eschatology...

David Lewicki, Twitter


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


The Power of Positive Thinking is a self-help book by Norman Vincent Peale, originally published in 1952. It makes use of positive case histories and practical instructions to propose the method of positive thinking. Peale's work describes how to achieve a permanent and optimistic attitude through unending positive conscious thought, usually through affirmations or visualizations. Peale writes that such techniques will give the reader a higher satisfaction and quality of life. Though negatively reviewed by scholars and health experts, The Power of Positive Thinking became popular in public opinion when first published and continues in popularity today.

Source: Wikipedia

 

*****


Liars for Jesus debunks many of the historical lies invented and used by the Christian nationalist history revisionists in their efforts to further their far right political agenda and destroy the wall of separation between church and state in America. Liars for Jesus is not a book about religion. It is a history book, presenting and fully documenting the true stories and historical facts that are distorted in the "Christian nation" pseudo-history promoted by the religious right. Chris Rodda, August 10, 2006, Amazon, Volume 1

Liars for Jesus debunks many of the historical lies invented and used by the Christian nationalist history revisionists in their efforts to further their far right political agenda and destroy the wall of separation between church and state in America. Liars for Jesus is not a book about religion. It is a history book, setting the record straight by presenting and fully documenting the true stories and historical facts that are distorted in the "Christian nation" pseudo-history of our country. Chris Rodda, January 6, 2016, Volume 2

 

*****


Come 1953, this legal prodigy was named McCarthy’s boy-wonder chief counsel, and the news photos told the tale: the sharp-faced, heavy-lidded 26-year-old with cherubic cheeks, whispering intimately into the ear of the bloated McCarthy. Cohn’s special skill as the senator’s henchman was character assassination. Indeed, after testifying in front of him, an engineer with the Voice of America radio news service committed suicide. Cohn never showed a shred of remorse.

You knew when you were in Cohn’s presence you were in the presence of pure evil,” said lawyer Victor A. Kovner, who had known him for years. Cohn’s power derived largely from his ability to scare potential adversaries with hollow threats and spurious lawsuits. And the fee he demanded for his services? Ironclad loyalty.

For author Sam Roberts, the essence of Cohn’s influence on Trump was the triad: “Roy was a master of situational immorality . . . . He worked with a three-dimensional strategy, which was: 1. Never settle, never surrender. 2. Counter-attack, counter-sue immediately. 3. No matter what happens, no matter how deeply into the muck you get, claim victory and never admit defeat.” As columnist Liz Smith once observed, “Donald lost his moral compass when he made an alliance with Roy Cohn.”

 

*****

Yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Our national embarrassment managed to be an embarrassment on the world stage. What I thought was missing was any discussion of the African American soldiers and sailors that sacrificed for this nation during that war, specifically to show their worth as citizens and as human beings. We've fought in every war this nation has prosecuted in its history, yet the descendants of the African Diaspora are still fighting for their rights in this country. I found the absence of any discussion ironic and disturbing under current circumstances.

I cannot attest Donald Trump ever HAD a moral compass to lose. His father was arrested at a Klan rally in NY city, 1927; he and his father discriminated against people of color in their rental apartment buildings; the Central Park 5, for which he refuses to apologize: Charlottesville. He has divided the nation with a racist jigsaw. He's more Darth Vader to Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul to Darth Sidious; under demon to Lucifer. The degree of evil doesn't matter: it's just evil.

Norman Vincent Peale's philosophy has had it's supporters and critics, both in science and clergy. Marble Church - the spiritual descendant of Peale's philosophy - is claimed by the Trumps, the pathological liar referring in the past to Peale as his pastor. A lot of Norman Vincent Peale's method have other names: "name it and claim it"; "new thought" and "positive mental attitude." It's the kind of thing a sales representative reads to pump up their egos to press on. It is the kind of philosophy an urban youth might use to motivate their enthusiasm to overcome their economic circumstances. It is ripe for warping by a demagogue.

Chris Rodda responded to the pseudo-historical polemics published by David Barton, a "historian" who possesses no PhD in the field as most historians do. He is the go-to "expert" for talk show hosts like Glenn Beck et al to tell their audiences kind fables that comfort their angst regarding the changing demographics of America. He tries to rewrite actual history to fulfill the fables of a group he hucksters, where "facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams But those "stubborn things" are of no consequence to Christian fascists.

The only way to see the Venn diagram merger of religion and pathological lying is the nexus formed in the mind of an addled man between these two men: Norman Vincent Peale and Roy Cohn, Yin and Yang; light and darkness. A brain that can only hold onto "Two Corinthians" as a biblical verse he MIGHT have heard in the scant attendance he's logged at the Crystal Cathedral, for his thus far dedicated following, his voluminous tableau of lies doesn't matter. He fulfills what Christian nationalists cum evangelicals and white nationalists the world over want more than eternal salvation - power. The ends justify the means: voter suppression, resistance to "advise and consent" Merrick Garland's appointment to the Supreme Court (a stolen seat); Russian interference so long as white privilege, white supremacy - white power continues to rule. Our bent away from democratic norms predates the Russian attack on our elections in 2016.

The soul of a republic is apparently a small price to pay for this idolatry. It will be the death of our country...and the world.
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Atticus Mueller...

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights


“Let me begin where the appointment order begins, and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Mueller said, and he sketched out briefly what his investigation alleged: that Russian intelligence officers “launched a concerted attack on our political system,” and released information in a scheme “designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.” Meanwhile, “a private Russian entity engaged in a social-media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.” He added, “The matters we investigated were of paramount importance.​​”

A few minutes later, as he finished up, Mueller returned to the theme. He said it even after thanking members of his team (and, in what truly did sound like a rebuke to the president, noting, “These individuals who spent nearly two years with the special counsel’s office were of the highest integrity”). For his final public words in a decades-long life in government, he chose to say this:

I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interference in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

Whether the motivation is treason or narcissistic ego: the Russians also have their cyber fingers into our infrastructure and power grids, which means we could literally be held hostage and not able to fight back. Maybe for a reelection campaign that didn't go well for their chosen candidate? Our federal elections are covered by The Constitution. It is our unique ability to select our own leaders, the "peaceful transition of power" as an example to the world. The Russians are sowing distrust, racial discord, tribalism and animus on a platform supposedly a road map to true, representative democracy. The Arab Spring started in Tunisia with a vendor's self-immolation, spread by Social Media. We were on our way to utopia, before this detour to dystopia.

Utopia to those in power is the opposite: dystopian. “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” Franklin Leonard

If you make money with tobacco, you might fund an effort to broadcast misleading information about the health impact of smoking. If you make money with fossil fuels, you might sabotage electric cars, or publish quackery on doubting climate change and global warming. If you make money publishing "alternative facts" to a largely WASP-C, septuagenarian audience, if you're Saudi Prince Alwaleed or Australian Rupert Murdoch, Fox News is your Pavlov's dinner bell.

Atticus Finch and Robert Mueller are the same type of lawyer: steadfast and by-the-book, with an almost unshakable faith in the system of jurisprudence each officer of the court - fictional and real - serves. They are from a time where Winston-Salem had a morning Journal and evening Sentinel newspapers: all your news, "breaking" or otherwise; advertisements for cars, clothing, apartments and homes were there and those adds paid for most newsrooms to do their jobs as members of the fourth estate that held power accountable, and did not practice "access journalism" where they now or seldom do not. They came from a time where there were three major news networks and radio programs with audiences and followers (millennial translation: pod casts). Adults read large novels, books of poetry and plays for entertainment and children inhaled comic books for shear pleasure. It was a time when the terms "moderate republican" and "conservative democrat" weren't pejoratives. It was a time a 448-page Mueller Report would have been read in about a week. It was a time before our technological distractions made us all attention-deficit, and with that lack of clarity, a democracy is for the ripe picking for Putin and his puppet. Our continued freedom never depended on elected officials that work for us: the continued existence of this democratic republic always has depended ON us.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” Frederick Douglass
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The Strength of Ignorance...

The Meaning of War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, and Ignorance Is Strength in Orwell's "1984", Natalie Franks, PhD, Owlcation

 

Topics: Climate Change, Global Warming, Existentialism, Politics


Note: Please forgive the midweek rant but...this...is...insane.

Mr. Trump is less an ideologue than an armchair naysayer about climate change, according to people who know him. He came into office viewing agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency as bastions of what he calls the “deep state,” and his contempt for their past work on the issue is an animating factor in trying to force them to abandon key aspects of the methodology they use to try to understand the causes and consequences of a dangerously warming planet.

As a result, parts of the federal government will no longer fulfill what scientists say is one of the most urgent jobs of climate science studies: reporting on the future effects of a rapidly warming planet and presenting a picture of what the earth could look like by the end of the century if the global economy continues to emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels.

The attack on science is underway throughout the government. In the most recent example, the White House-appointed director of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific assessments produced by that office use only computer-generated climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of the century, as had been done previously.

 

Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science
Coral Davenport and Mark Landler, New York Times


It's insane, but cynical: the current Russian-installed occupant of the Oval Office is 72, meaning by 2040 if the afterlife doesn't want to screw with him, he'd be 93, still Virtual Reality tweeting his inane thoughts further rattled by Entropy, Alzheimer's and Dementia while firmly encompassed in adult pampers on his sixth trophy wife from whatever is left of the Czech Republic! We're personally causing the extinction of millions of species, and one of them might be the linchpin break in our own food chain.

NONE of the morons making these decisions will live to see the impact of them. They will cash in and peace out to the planet richer than Solomon, fiddling like Nero as the world burns. The end of white Christian Evangelical America occurred rather quietly around 2017, only noted by demographers, authors that notice such things...and white Christian Americans! This is why they could vote for the vagina gripper without a hint of pious hypocrisy, literally 81% of them selling what's left of their souls. This is why they're in a wholesale panic in Texas...TEXAS could turn blue by 2045! This is a naked power grab masquerading in choir robes that are demonstrably, decidedly Klan white. The other impact other than the lack of coitus would likely be the proliferation of readily available guns for violence, the opioid crisis and farmers affected by the trade tariffs committing harikari. But we won't talk about that because...logic (or, lack thereof).

They don’t even WANT you to vote a week from Tuesday. They hate voters and they hate voting. They have worked with a religious fervor to game voting tallies in Missouri, and Tennessee, and North Dakota, and Ohio (we can thank the Supreme Court for that), and Florida, and North Carolina, and most notably in Georgia, where elderly black people were literally pulled over for trying to vote, and where Republican gubernatorial candidate and current secretary of state Brian Kemp purged over 300,000 people from the voter rolls. They don’t want you voting, and they don’t particularly care if it’s fair or not. And if you happen to resist, the president already tacitly endorsed violence against you.

This is because Republicans hate a true representative democracy. And if they hate that, then they hate America. And if they hate America, then they hate you. I know Republicans say they LOVE America. They love it so much they wanna marry it. But that’s not true. They only love using America, mostly as a means of engineering hate.

They also hate your kids. If they liked your kids, they would support paid maternity leave, free health care, free child care, better public schools, and they would do everything in their power to enact stricter gun control laws so that schoolchildren don’t get routinely slaughtered en masse. They hate all of those ideas. They even hate teachers. You ever meet a teacher? They’re fucking saints, man. It doesn’t matter. Republicans hate them and would rather die than pay teachers a living wage.

In fact, they don’t just hate your kids, they hate your grandchildren as well. If Republicans gave the thinnest of shits about your grandkids, they would act with incredible haste on every Defcon 1 climate report that says we’re doomed if we don’t stop humping carbon to death. But they don’t. They hate the Earth, they hate the future, and they HATE any report that might dare ask them to take a break from pillaging the lands. Those reports go right into the shredder.

And they hate reporters too. Of course they hate reporters. A reporter just got kidnapped, tortured, and dismembered by Saudi Arabia (the country that was home to the majority of 9/11 hijackers, mind you). Did Republicans give a shit? Of course not. This is because they hate reporters. They get so much mileage out of hating reporters, it’s almost impressive. Why, it’s as if breeding hate and resentment is the only thing they do competently! They hate facts. They hate whistleblowers. They hate the truth. They don’t even like QUESTIONS. How dare you ask a Republican a question? That’s really rude. The president thinks you should be body slammed. If Republican leaders liked answering for shit, they would hold more town halls. Instead, they fuck off back to their home states and huddle up with their donors.

 

Republicans Hate You, Drew Magary, GQ

"War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength." George Orwell, 1984, Spark Notes


These words are the official slogans of the Party, and are inscribed in massive letters on the white pyramid of the Ministry of Truth, as Winston observes in Book One, Chapter I. Because it is introduced so early in the novel, this creed serves as the reader’s first introduction to the idea of doublethink. By weakening the independence and strength of individuals’ minds and forcing them to live in a constant state of propaganda-induced fear, the Party is able to force its subjects to accept anything it decrees, even if it is entirely illogical—for instance, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of waging war, the Ministry of Love is in charge of political torture, and the Ministry of Truth is in charge of doctoring history books to reflect the Party’s ideology.

That the national slogan of Oceania is equally contradictory is an important testament to the power of the Party’s mass campaign of psychological control. In theory, the Party is able to maintain that “War Is Peace” because having a common enemy keeps the people of Oceania united. “Freedom Is Slavery” because, according to the Party, the man who is independent is doomed to fail. By the same token, “Slavery Is Freedom,” because the man subjected to the collective will is free from danger and want. “Ignorance Is Strength” because the inability of the people to recognize these contradictions cements the power of the authoritarian regime.

This is insane...and terrifying.

...and we are all living through a tweet-created, GOP-enabled dystopian nightmare.

This is terrifying as we might be staring down the barrel of our own extinction.

At least there will be no billionaires,..

...or assholes (not that for most, there isn't much of a difference).
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The Great Filter...

Image Source: Gizmodo and originally, Wait, But Why

 

Topics: Astrobiology, Carl Sagan, Climate Change, Drake Equation, Existentialism, Fermi Paradox, Nuclear Power


“The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” Carl Sagan

My First Contact scenario doesn't involve Vulcans, warp drive or impossible scenarios: it involves radio transmissions, as communication is a big part of the Drake Equation. Specifically audio, video and digital data (Internet?) of extraterrestrial origin as we would confirm before announcing to the world. Assuming the aliens developed their technology in an oxygen-nitrogen environment, the language we could hear might amount to a lot of "clicking" noises, that mathematicians - specifically specialists in cryptography, and linguists - would dive into deciphering. Eventually after coming up with a Rosetta Stone of syntax, we could translate what would amount to news, drama and sitcoms. Of specific interest might be their political climate and sectarian strife (if any). More particularly, did they successfully translate through their "Great Filter"...

...or, if they did not.
 

*****


I'm a big fan of Jordon Peele's incarnation of The Twilight Zone, particularly the sixth episode: "Six Degrees of Freedom." It is unfortunate that popular show title describes our current political climate.
 

I won't give away the intriguing ending, but Peele has mastered the macabre plot twist of Rod Serling's writing style, and (my opinion) his surreal monologue delivery. It's streaming, so you may have to pay less than you would for a single movie ticket per month to view it. I've enjoyed it andother shows so far, and I get no monetary gain for the endorsement.

"The Great Filter, in the context of the Fermi paradox, is whatever prevents dead matter from undergoing abiogenesis, in time, to expanding lasting life as measured by the Kardashev scale.[1][2] The concept originates in Robin Hanson's argument that the failure to find any extraterrestrial civilizations in the observable universe implies the possibility something is wrong with one or more of the arguments from various scientific disciplines that the appearance of advanced intelligent life is probable; this observation is conceptualized in terms of a "Great Filter" which acts to reduce the great number of sites where intelligent life might arise to the tiny number of intelligent species with advanced civilizations actually observed (currently just one: human).[3] This probability threshold, which could lie behind us (in our past) or in front of us (in our future), might work as a barrier to the evolution of intelligent life, or as a high probability of self-destruction.[1][4] The main counter-intuitive conclusion of this observation is that the easier it was for life to evolve to our stage, the bleaker our future chances probably are.

The idea was first proposed in an online essay titled "The Great Filter - Are We Almost Past It?", written by economist Robin Hanson. The first version was written in August 1996 and the article was last updated on September 15, 1998. Since that time, Hanson's formulation has received recognition in several published sources discussing the Fermi paradox and its implications.

Using extinct civilizations such as Easter Island as models, a study conducted in 2018 posited that climate change induced by "energy intensive" civilizations may prevent sustainability within such civilizations, thus explaining the lack of evidence for intelligent extraterrestrial life.[5]" Source: Wikipedia/The Great Filter

The Great Filter is alluded to in science fiction with or without warp drive: Star Trek described global wars on Earth and the fictional Vulcan that involved their respective nuclear holocausts. For the Vulcans, recovery involved a relentless embrace of logic, or as I recall reading in a Trek novel, "reality-truth." For Earth, it essentially involved accepting help from the Vulcans after the human species was discovered warp capable through a singular genius with a funny name post self-induced Apocalypse, a Deus ex Machina plot device used since publicly performed Greek and Roman plays. We don't have warp drive, but we do have thermonuclear devices poised for Armageddon. We don't have Vulcans, but we once did have the Easter Islanders, just as once we had the Dodo.

I've often encapsulated The Great Filter in my own dictum: "intelligence is its own Entropy." I think when Carl Sagan was alive, the regressive forces we see now denying science, climate change; verifiable facts and reality were well engaged in his day of the original COSMOS. Slowly, shows like COSMOS lost their appeal to Game Shows cum Reality Shows, and as a country we reveled in our distractions, added as channels on cable and Internet multiplied like E. coli. and measles resurgence as well as our grasp of what is real and verifiable. In fact, we seek distractions in gadgets and online machinations in the constant need to fill "horror vacui."

In the east, nothing meant something, particularly in clarity of thought: Mu Shin No Shin - "the mind without mind" or more colloquially, "no mind." As translated from the martial battlefield to artists both martial and objective; and Zen philosophers, it offers a certain clarity that can be attained when not focused on minutiae detail, but accepted reality "as-is" after diligent practice. A practice like karate forms that takes years of repetition, dedication and study. That is the key to mastering anything, from martial arts to science to civics.

The stars are silent. Intelligence may be rare. Vulcans if existing may not be benevolent, and in the myopic attention span of the erect species of which I am member - "wise men"...fleeting in longevity.

We hope we're past The Great Filter. I'm not sure we are.

 

Related links:

The Great Filter Might Be What's Preventing Aliens from Reaching Us,
Joanie Faletto, Curiosity

The Reason We've Never Found Intelligent Life Might be Because We Are Already Going Extinct,
Climate change might be humanity’s "Great Filter." Karla Lant, Futurism

The Great Filter, a possible explanation for the Fermi Paradox – interview with Robin Hanson
Science, Technology, Future

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Relics of Entropy...

 

Topics: Biology, Entropy, Existentialism, Futurism


I've passed all my courses and now have the task of putting my Thesis together. I'm anticipating a successful completion from a good start.

My granddaughter is as well, with a good family (I'm biased) surrounded by a support system of extended friends and close relatives.

I'm understandably concerned by headlines like these:

Up to one million plant and animal species face extinction, many within decades, because of human activities, says the most comprehensive report yet on the state of global ecosystems.

Without drastic action to conserve habitats, the rate of species extinction — already tens to hundreds of times higher than the average across the past ten million years — will only increase, says the analysis. The findings come from a United Nations-backed panel called the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

According to the report, agricultural activities have had the largest impact on ecosystems that people depend on for food, clean water and a stable climate. The loss of species and habitats poses as much a danger to life on Earth as climate change does, says a summary of the work, released on 6 May. [1]

 

*****


Capitalism has generated massive wealth for some, but it’s devastated the planet and has failed to improve human well-being at scale.

Species are going extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than that of the natural rate over the previous 65 million years (see Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School).

Since 2000, 6 million hectares of primary forest have been lost each year. That’s 14,826,322 acres, or just less than the entire state of West Virginia (see the 2010 assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN).

Even in the U.S., 15% of the population lives below the poverty line. For children under the age of 18, that number increases to 20% (see U.S. Census).

 • The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 (see United Nations' projections).

By 2050, my granddaughter will be 31, and I likely a memory to her.

I came of age during the sixties when our Civil Rights leaders became Civil Rights icons and martyrs. I came of age when "duck and cover" drills were the order of the day. I came of age when post Civil Rights, we tried at least to act...civil. Forced busing gave way to De Facto desegregation in the public square in education - until the end of forced busing and re-segregation; malls, sports arenas (especially there) where some modicum of the old "control of black bodies" could be exercised with less bull whip and more paychecks and professional sports contracts.

The seventies would be the last time production kept pace with pay: we've been in a hamster wheel since then, and the gulf between the super rich and everyone else has become an un-crossable chasm. We're more oligarchy than democracy, and the owners would sooner than later transform us into a full dystopian fascistic hell scape than help solve the problems they've created.

The point is, despite all the challenges, I came of age. I lived. I loved. I laughed. I cried. I learned to drive. I married. I had children and they are starting to have children.

It would be lovely for my granddaughter to have a planet on which to have a tea.

Lovelier still for her parents (my children) to become grandparents in my absence on a planet still able to support life and a civilization that could support such an endeavor with minimal environmental impact.

Or...she and I could be relics of entropy, where our ashes will not be discernible from scientist to citizen, layman to philosopher, capitalist to socialist; black to white and prince to pauper. In a blink of an eye on the scale of cosmic time...we would all become irrelevant to an unfeeling universe.

I am again biased. I think my granddaughter (and yours), deserves a little more than that.

 

1. Humans are driving one million species to extinction, Jeff Tollefson, Nature
2. Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050, Drew Hansen, Forbes

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Either...Or...

The Mueller Report (CNN.com - read it while you can)


Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, Existentialism, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Women's Rights


I'll be taking a break for finals, writing my thesis and the birth of our granddaughter. Her entrance to this plane is pending.

For her, it's all hands on deck.

The future belongs to the young, soon born and yet-to-be born. The future is diverse and more tolerant than the Neanderthal mythologized past we're being dragged to. The present is hopefully planning for a future that will be 8.6 billion in 2030 and 9.8 billion in 2050, and the strains on resources that will bring. The present is hopefully planning for a future with a warmer climate, and our strategy towards ameliorating it. The future is being written, with every tweet and malfeasance of a man epitomizing more demon than Christian; more boorish mobster than sophisticated president. He's covered by a complicit evangelical base and a Republican Party that's less diverse, whiter, aging and dying off. Instead of diversifying, they're doubling down on "The Southern Strategy" for one last push for white supremacy, a push that will take the entire country and the world over an existential, unrecoverable cliff.

Either we're a Constitutional, Federal Republic...or, we're not.

This started...on a porch in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a miniscule distances from the site three Civil Rights workers - Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner - were murdered in 1964 for the "crime" (according to the KKK) of registering black voters:

"I still believe the answer to any problem lies with the people. I believe in states' rights. I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level, and I believe we've distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment." Ronald Reagan

1964...the year the Civil Rights Act passed. Followed by 1965...the year the Voting Rights Act passed. Three years later, we lost Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy as the Fair Housing Act passed. It was also the year, finally, Richard M. Nixon after Lyndon B. Johnson refused to run for reelection - was elected "law and order" president, running and winning on The Southern Strategy born of racist fear.

The seventies was a loss of innocence with the shame of "losing" the un-winnable Vietnam War, the near impeachment of Nixon, his pardon and his successor getting beaten by a peanut farmer in Plains, Georgia, himself only serving one term due to the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The eighties was muscular, toxic masculinity disguised as action heroes: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis were young then and box office sensations. They were also admittedly as republican as "the gipper." Arnold would become governor of California and his fiscal failures turned what was a large land mass red state to almost reliably blue. After his affair on Maria Shriver, he's redeeming himself as a climate advocate and adversary to the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Tom Steyer nor "Auntie Maxine" needs tell us.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Some caveats and perspective: Secretary Clinton in a Washington Post op ed cautioned a rush to impeachment. The historical memory in this country is deliberately brief, as history nor civics is seldom taught in secondary education. There were Watergate hearings on ABC, CBS and NBC. There was daily education on a president that had just won a landslide reelection - 49 out of 50 states - that didn't need burglary or "plumbers" committing. The case was made to the American people over 28 months, and even after the tapes became public, he STILL had a 24% approval rating among his ardent supporters when it was evident he was going to get impeached in the House and convicted in the Senate by members of his own party. This was the foundation for Roger Ailes to form what would become Fox Propaganda.

Impeachment isn't about conviction: it’s about The Constitution.

We’re either “a nation of laws, and not of men,” or we’re a nation of ONE man.

Either “no one is above the law,” or every elected official can “shoot someone on 5th Avenue” and get away with it.

Impeachment isn't about this president: it’s about the NEXT president.

If THIS one gets away with his clear crimes, every nation can pass information to the candidate they would desire for president as a matter of "diplomacy." No president will ever have to divest from their business if they have one. Jimmy Carter gave up his peanut farm, so he would not violate the Emoluments Clause. No presidential candidate will EVER again show their taxes, and thus open to bribes and manipulation by distant actors. Government "of the people, by the people and for the people" will go from Russian handler to Russian roulette.

We either do this, or we’re not a country: we're a kleptocracy.

Either we're a Constitutional, Federal Republic...or, whatever emerges after this Caligula will not resemble our best self-mythology. It will be too stark, too dark: too dystopian.

For our granddaughter, I must fight until my last breath for her future...because it is hers.
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Near the Levee...

Credit: Mario Tama Getty Images

 

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming


Related spoken word piece: Near the Levee

We cannot exist as a nation without a basic acceptance of common facts. I can't say "2+2=4" and another "2+2=5" and we BOTH be correct!

Abortion: Let's accept hormonal teenagers are likely to do something a little more than "make out" and pet heavily. They have myriad means of gathering information on the sexual act. We can educate them on birth control and responsible sexual behavior as the Netherlands does. Or, we can try "abstinence only" and get abysmal teen pregnancy rates as many red states do.

Climate Change: A sane republican administration accepting the science might use cap and trade policies to make polluting uncomfortable for manufactures financially. Compliance would be a matter of the bottom-line.

A democratic administration did something: The Paris Agreement was landmark policy, involving "an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. The agreement's language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.[4][5] As of March 2019, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 185 have become party to it.[1] The Paris Agreement's long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, since this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change." They might actually spearhead green technologies, spurring economic and job growth.

We're not at a sane point in our republic now.

The $14 billion network of levees and floodwalls that was built to protect greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a seemingly invincible bulwark against flooding.

But now, 11 months after the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of the largest public works projects in world history, the agency says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels and shrinking levees.

The growing vulnerability of the New Orleans area is forcing the Army Corps to begin assessing repair work, including raising hundreds of miles of levees and floodwalls that form a meandering earth and concrete fortress around the city and its adjacent suburbs.

 

After a $14-Billion Upgrade, New Orleans' Levees Are Sinking, Thomas Frank, Scientific American

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