existentialism (43)

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New York Times - Where Americans Didn't Stay at Home Even as the Virus Spread

James Glanz, Benedict Carey, Josh Holder, Derek Watkins, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Rick Rojas and Lauren Leatherby

 

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


Only a fascist like William Barr would try to suspend habeas corpus during a global pandemic, as are other strongmen across the globe are using the crisis to seize more dictatorial power over their citizens. Only a sociopath puts in an emergency order through the secret service for ...golf carts. Democracy - that fleeting experiment in rationality, and with it: life on Earth hangs in the balance.

While political leaders have locked their borders, scientists have been shattering theirs, creating a global collaboration unlike any in history. Never before, researchers say, have so many experts in so many countries focused simultaneously on a single topic and with such urgency. Nearly all other research has ground to a halt.

Normal imperatives like academic credit have been set aside. Online repositories make studies available months ahead of journals. Researchers have identified and shared hundreds of viral genome sequences. More than 200 clinical trials have been launched, bringing together hospitals and laboratories around the globe.

“I never hear scientists — true scientists, good quality scientists — speak in terms of nationality,” said Dr. Francesco Perrone, who is leading a coronavirus clinical trial in Italy. “My nation, your nation. My language, your language. My geographic location, your geographic location. This is something that is really distant from true top-level scientists.”

 

Covid-19 Changed How the World Does Science, Together
Matt Apuzzo and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times


Yes, China and its stupid strongman leader held precious data and allowed the Coronavirus to spread before this cooperation born of survival was established. Calling it "Wuhan" or "Chinese" is as problem-solving as ascribing radical terrorism to a religion. The Klan burns large crosses, and historically, hung and castrated African Americans. They and other white supremacist groups are yet still not classed as terrorists, domestic or otherwise.

 

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A true STEM education should increase students’ understanding of how things work and improve their use of technologies. STEM education should also introduce more engineering during precollege education. Engineering is directly involved in problem solving and innovation, two themes with high priorities on every nation’s agenda…. the creation of high-quality, integrated instruction and materials, as well as the placement of problems associated with grand challenges of society at the center of study. (p. 996).

Whereas there have been initiatives for integrated STEM education in a number of developed countries including South Korea, the mechanisms of integration for STEM disciplines and instructional approaches are largely under theorized (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2014). Given the limited research, instructional design for integrated STEM can be informed by the literature on problem-based learning (PBL). In a number of reviews on integrated STEM programs, researchers found that integrated STEM programs commonly utilize real-world complex problems as instructional contexts in which students apply knowledge and practices from multiple disciplines (Banks & Barlex, 2014; Kelley & Knowles, 2016; Lynn, Moore, Johnson, & Roehrig, 2016; National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, 2014). PBL is a well-researched and widely accepted student-centered instructional approach in which students are given an ill-structured real-world problem to investigate viable solutions for by applying knowledge and skills from various sources (Hmelo-Silver, 2004; Savery, 2006). PBL helps students develop knowledge involved in problem solving and cognitive skills such as critical and analytical thinking. Additional characteristics of PBL such as working in collaborative groups and engaging in self-directed learning lead to learning outcomes such as communication competency and motivation to learn. This approach was succinctly summarized in Hmelo-Silver (2004).

In PBL, student learning centers on a complex problem that does not have a single correct answer. Students work in collaborative groups to identify what they need to learn in order to solve a problem. They engage in self-directed learning (SDL) and then apply their new knowledge to the problem and reflect on what they learned and the effectiveness of the strategies employed.… The goals of PBL include helping students develop 1) flexible knowledge, 2) effective problem-solving skills, 3) SDL skills, 4) effective collaboration skills, and 5) intrinsic motivation. (p.235).

Nam-Hwa Kang, Asia-Pacific Science Education

South Korea is the model the planet needs to pursue. It has a deep respect for STEM, STEAM and has pursued it relentlessly. Such preparation encourages quick reaction to problems and creative solutions. It's shown in drive-through testing. It has NEVER been demonstrated in creationism, "intelligent design" and other magical thinking.

The mapping of the virus spread globally correlates with our frequency in the states. The south and Midwestern states are astonishingly red, and a few of their correlating governors obtuse. This is somewhat simplistic and deceptive, as the northern states have more mass transit, and thus a subway can also carry a novel virus just as easily as an SUV or pickup truck. New York shows no movement, but has the highest infection rates, which globally correlates to where travel and world trade (and humans) meet frequently. A nationwide shutdown would "flatten the curve." Sadly, I'm finding more that "United States" is aspirational, a suggestion and oxymoron.

President George W. Bush coined the term "compassionate conservatism," (Vyse - New Republic) which looks now to have the lift of a lead balloon. What we need instead is a compassionate capitalism. Slavery - the foundation of American capitalism - was far from anything compassionate. It is not compassionate to give sweetheart deals to your son-in-law and his brother's company during a pandemic. It is not compassionate to have governors bidding on the same life-saving equipment like they're in an auction on eBay. It is not compassionate (or, competent) that the Governor of Georgia, literally miles from the Center for Disease Control didn't know asymptomatic persons could transmit the virus. It is not compassionate to house children in cages at the border (after ripping them from their parents, as in slavery). Like the New Republic article above alludes, compassion has given way to callousness, an IDGAF with red caps replacing Klan robes and middle fingers replacing gold crosses. Cruelty and so-called white grievance is the obvious, particular point. It is a primitive instinct, racist, xenophobic and steeped in superstition; a sacrifice to Moloch on cremation pyres of (don't) care. It is a recipe for extinction, and for the gun rights advocates with thousands of rounds of ammo - your strategy is only as good as your last bullet when food supplies run out. Constitutional gun rights alone do not make civil societies: civil societies with functional governments make constitutional gun rights possible. That's not "making America great again": it is the recipe for a failed state.

Cooperation, or extinction. I will say this (sadly) to my last breath.

 

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“China isn’t the problem. Lack of diversification is the problem,” says Belinda Archibong, an assistant professor of economics at Barnard College in New York. In Africa, “lack of regional, intra-Africa trade is the problem.”

That’s a long-standing discussion within the continent. “Maybe this crisis is going to force us to trade more amongst ourselves,” says Blandina Kilama, an economist and senior researcher at Research on Poverty Alleviation, a Tanzanian think tank.

In the U.S., John Melin is an eyewitness to the virtues of trade. Brown & Haley, the candy company where he is president and chief operating officer, has seen a rising share of its Almond Roca sales coming from overseas.

China is a big source of that demand, which helps keep the firm’s 175 employees near Tacoma, Washington, employed. Mr. Melin and his team are working hard to keep the sales flowing and to pin down some alternative suppliers for packaging.

“Part of the health of our country​ and our​ ​high standard of living comes from the fact that people fly on ​B​oeing​ ​airplanes around the world​,​ and people buy i​P​hones around the world​,​ and people a​dm​ire the values and institutions of the ​United ​States,” he says. That integration with the world “brings more good than bad.”

In Germany, Yorck Otto similarly sees globalization as here to stay, and probably for the better.

“No, this wheel cannot be turned back,” says Dr. Otto, president of a business association representing small and medium-sized companies.

“The global supply chain will continue to get better and better every day. This globalization will be refined, and hopefully it will be also covered under new humanitarian laws and regulations so that the world can be a little bit better through globalization,” he says. “I’m not a great fan of kids sitting in Bolivia digging into soil to get materials to make batteries, for example.”

Why COVID-19 is likely to change globalization, not reverse it, The Christian Science Monitor
WHY WE WROTE THIS
Can the world’s fabric be undone? Some nationalists point to the coronavirus as a reason to seal borders and bring manufacturing home. But business experts say the benefits of trade are undiminished.


This piece was reported by Patrik Jonsson in Savannah, Georgia; Nick Squires in Rome; Ryan Lenora Brown in Johannesburg; and Lenora Chu in Berlin. It was written by Mr. Trumbull.
 
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Social Distancing...

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Every square centimeter packed

 

Topics: Biology, Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism


I shopped and bought the supplies you see above for the suggested "hunker down." It's the most I've ever purchased at one time in a grocery store. Missing from the pile of food, meat and cleaning supplies is hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Amazon is out, with delivery projections of off-brand toilet paper mid April, according to a college friend on lock down in California. Though I don't own a dog anymore, I observed dog food was missing from the shelves. The city is on limited hours from 10 am to 3 pm. The suggested crowd assemblies dwindled swiftly from 500 - 300 - 100 to 10 or less. There will likely be no spring commencement. Susan Rice was to be our keynote speaker, and I was going to attend to congratulate newly-minted Doctors of Philosophy.

My classes went online almost immediately through Blackboard. It was kind of cute to see my professors struggling and fully admitting they've never taught an online class before. The fact that they were lecturing was a departure from previous experiences, typically PowerPoint slides uploaded to Canvas (another college app), chapters read and a test proctored. That was my experience with it before. There's a video app: Zoom that I used to view a Ph.D. defense and a seminar on writing. My tiny house seems at comparison to my mobility before, smaller ...

I took a walk today in the neighborhood. Teleworking tends to drive one "stir crazy." I saw a family that lives across the street from me playing with her son in the street. She was accompanied by her brother, his girlfriend, her kids and their mother. The brother and his family had moved into the neighborhood. I said hello, mouthing a few brief remarks. I was friendly ...at a distance.

I continued walking.

A jogger passed by me on my right. A couple walked by on my left: I spoke briefly. I still walked.

A neighbor said "did anyone tell you you look like Charles Barkley?" I smiled: I've heard it before, and said "I wish I had his salary!" We laughed. I said it ...at a distance.

I continued walking.

A read on my phone about a few young spring breakers determined to party in Florida, full of the invulnerability of youth. They're not practicing social distancing, or good sense.

Italy passed a grim marker in the number of infected and deaths. I'm sure we're trying not to copy-exact this aspect of what was the Roman Empire in these modern times where the globe is no longer vast, and the oceans not the barriers they once were.

Columbus Day may not get as much attention as our other holidays, but scientists are still fascinated by what Christopher Columbus’ arrival meant for the “New World” and how it shaped where we are today.

“It was a culture clash, obviously,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “But it also launched a clash of infectious diseases.”

Columbus and other visitors from Europe lived in agrarian societies and cities, he said. The viruses and bacteria that develop in farming and when large groups of people live together are different from those in a more nomadic society, like the American Indians.

Think about swine flu and bird flu, Prescott said. We’re always on the lookout for viruses that pass from humans to animals, mutate DNA, and then return to humans.

“Well, that didn’t just start last year. So long as humans have been raising livestock, we’ve been passing viruses back and forth,” he said. “When explorers from Europe reached the Americas, they brought livestock and they brought diseases and the result was devastating.”

In Hispaniola, Columbus’ first stop in the Americas, the native Taino population (an indigenous Arawak people) had no immunity to new infectious diseases, including smallpox, measles and influenza. There were an estimated 250,000 indigenous people in Hispaniola in 1492. By 1517, only 14,000 remained.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation: Columbus brought more than ships to the New World, October 10, 2013

Also:

Related link: Coronavirus statistics

Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492
Alexander Koch, Chris Brierley, Mark M. Maslin, Simon L. Lewis
Quaternary Science Reviews
Volume 207, 1 March 2019, Pages 13-36


The conversation that hasn't been had: we're seeing not just the impact of a zoological virus from bat to human, we're seeing the impact of a globalization protocol that's been in place since 1492. The bats are in China, but bats are on every continent. The trade agreements we've negotiated for cheap labor also meant the ones in charge of the labor pool ignored (or, weren't pressed to follow) OSHA and safety regulations we take for granted. The "chickens [were eventually going to] come home to roost" because human society as far as temporal considerations is episodic. We think of the quarter, the end-of-year, the holiday push and financial goals higher than last years. We think of stock dividends and investor sentiments; use bailout money to buy back stocks and artificially pump up the value of their companies. This selloff on Wall Street has simply been an adjustment from the previous superfluous bullshit. My trip to Texas to see our granddaughter, relatives and friends; my wife's annual girlfriends' trip, our sons trip to Greensboro have all been put on hold indefinitely to flatten the curve.

I walked alone ...home, continuing social distancing.

 

Related link: Coronavirus statistics

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Crowd Sourcing...

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Image Source: Semantics Scholar link below

 

Topics: Biology, Existentialism, Politics


Note: As I'm getting my sea legs in online classes, the blog will post not at the normal times because these aren't normal times. My karate instructor from undergrad is a cancer survivor: his doctor has him in isolation as COVID-19 can be exacerbated by immunodeficient systems. In addition, his wife and daughter just came back from overseas and are in isolation. He has relatives visiting him, though.

A brief I wrote my first year of graduate school for a class called Nano Safety (excerpt):

From an article in Nature: Education, it posits that viruses are not ‘alive’ in a sense they don’t have metabolic processes, one of the four criteria for life (“organized, metabolism, genetic code, and reproduction”) as discussed in class, 24 August 2017. There are three possible mechanisms to origins. The Progressive Hypothesis: “bits and pieces” of a genome gained the ability to move in and out of cells (retroviruses like HIV given as an example). The Regressive Hypothesis: meaning the viruses evolved from some common ancestor to their current state. The Virus-First Hypothesis: that viruses existed before mortals as “self-replicating units.”

1. Where did viruses come from? Ed Rybicki, Virologist from the University of Cape Town in South Africa

2. The Origins of Viruses, By David R. Wessner, Ph.D. (Dept. of Biology, Davidson College) © 2010 Nature Education, Citation: Wessner, D. R. (2010) The Origins of Viruses. Nature Education 3(9):37

My wife and I suffer allergies during this time of year. Out of an abundance of caution, we attempted to have her tested for COVID-19. The doctor surmised she didn't have any symptoms of Coronavirus, but the inventory of test kits from the CDC is what really troubled me: ONE. Only if you meet the stringent requirement of damned-near death's door will anyone get the test. Then, the doctor will order another SINGULAR test.

Conclusion: Our numbers are being held down artificially.

We're sheltered in-place. I'm calling and texting friends to check on them.

North Carolina now has 63 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, but that's for those who met the criteria and GOT the singular test kit evaluation.

All of us are literally on our own.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Allen Institute for AI has partnered with leading research groups to prepare and distribute the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), a free resource of over 29,000 scholarly articles, including over 13,000 with full text, about COVID-19 and the coronavirus family of viruses for use by the global research community.

This dataset is intended to mobilize researchers to apply recent advances in natural language processing to generate new insights in support of the fight against this infectious disease. The corpus will be updated weekly as new research is published in peer-reviewed publications and archival services like bioRxiv, medRxiv, and others.

 

Semantics Scholar: COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19)

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Gigs and Pandemics...

 

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


Center for Disease Control: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

I am admittedly drained by circumstances outside of my control and workload.

Pursuing a Ph.D. in practically ANYTHING is exhausting enough. Papers are assigned. No time is allotted to complete any assigned task. There's the research proposal. There's lab work if you're in a STEM field and writing...LOTS of writing.

It's been a week. The Stock Market ate my retirement. To quote a classmate, "the world is on fire, and I'm watching it burn." I feel like I've entered a near four-year dystopian nightmare that I cannot wake from. He's done this much damage...in a week.

Next week: all seventeen North Carolina colleges and universities will go to virtual classes. A lot of lecture is interpretive art: professors tend to "riff," not that they don't know their subjects, but at certain levels, they're not going to spoon feed you. You HAVE to attend classes, you must rewrite notes, read the text and memorize every detail preparing for quizzes or exams.

It's going to be interesting trying to do this online. We're online for an indefinite time.

March madness has ended abruptly due to Coronavirus.

The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball have suspended seasons. Might as well look for the possible cancellation the Olympics this summer. What about football in the fall? Coronavirus will lull in the hotter spring and summer months, but being here it will likely rage back-to-form as the seasons change.

The market dropped 10% - about what it did in 1987 during that recession, but it was never driven by a narcissistic, incompetent boob either high on Adderall, cocaine or an aggressive, infectious virus.

The origin of tips is an acronym: "to insure promptitude" (old English). It was a term the aristocracy used for servants, particularly in restaurants.


Most of our restaurant servers are in the visible gig economy, and make LESS than the minimum wage of $7.25/hour. They make about $2 per hour and the rest in tips, which to make it worth it, means 20% and busing a lot of tables, laborious, backbreaking work with no vacation, overtime or paid sick days.

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It also means if you're sick, you can't work and therefore you can't pay your bills, or you know: eat. Maybe, you muscle through it with daytime cold medicine - a lot of it and cough drops. Maybe you blow your nose ferociously between waiting tables and hope no one notices while you infect them.

Lamar Alexander objected to two weeks of paid sick leave, which isn't even as generous as other countries, nor that of his colleagues. Somehow we lost paid sick leave and it left with a whimper. I had six weeks in the nineties working at Motorola and AMD. You used it when you needed it; it rolled over to the next year. Now, American companies have employees take vacation, thus penalizing the employee for something out of their control. You CAN take unpaid sick leave if you run out of vacation. It sounds like the upper levels never get sick, or at their levels probably have the sick leave they've stolen from everyone else.

Paid sick leave allows us to "flatten the curve": people can stay home, not infect others and pay their bills. Companies get healthy employees back that won't get others sick, or shutdown their businesses. It relieves the strain on the medical system, that is about to get slammed if nothing changes.

Grad students are studying to be professionals, and they like their instructors can telecommute...gig professionals cannot.

"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." Grover Norquist

Norquist had a tax pledge:


I, ______, pledge to the taxpayers of the ______ district of the state of ______ and to the American people that I will: One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and Two, to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates

The taxpayers Grover and the criminal-element-masquerading-as-a-political-party is honoring are at a little higher pay grade than the rest of us. Decades of not paying for shit resulted in crumbling infrastructure the "invisible hand" of the market never repaired, it resulted in drowning the baby in the bathwater by cutting essential services like disaster preparedness for pandemics out of spite for your predecessor.

It's really dogma and cult-like in their slavish devotion to this creed. "Cutting to grow" the economy has never and I repeat: NEVER trickled down to anyone! Instead of Reaganomics, it should correctly be called "Laffernomics." It's a con job that's been siphoning funds up the ladder into the canopy of the 1% for four decades now. When the 99% ask questions, they push conspiracy theories and racist tropes so we can tear at each other. It's worked for them since the Civil War, and ensured their hegemony. Their oligarchy is more blatant now, and we're exhausted by their relentless propaganda.

The gig economy is the result of globalization and moving manufacturing via trade agreements overseas. It looks good on paper and saves a lot of money for companies. Sadly, the factory off-shored moves support jobs out of a nation, state, and municipality: plumbers, painters, janitors and cooks; nurses and daycare workers for on-site offered care. People who tried college, or knew they weren't "college material" (whatever that means), but could make a decent living and raise a family in jobs of worth and dignity. China, Korea (the masters of drive-by testing) and Taiwan will recover from Coronavirus: after quarantine of their populations - they'll just turn on the factories that used to be here. Their plumbers, painters, janitors and cooks will report for duty.

Having gig economies means Uber drivers trying to make a buck will unwittingly spread the virus to every customer they pick up, the waiter will breath on the restaurant client; the usher at church will pass it with the collection plate and Eucharist sacraments.

Humans work by cooperation and collective activity. Everything from sporting events to Broadway shows, worship services, weddings and funerals will have to be rethought. People will start ordering groceries online. As schools close, children already dependent on at least one meal there will be driven into food insecurity and the nation into developing world status. We will be further atomized and stratified, further isolated from one another. How exactly under such circumstances can we vote this nightmare out? I often wonder if this chaos is ineptitude, or nefarious.

"United States" is already oxymoron and an inside joke to authoritarian dictators.

I'll take off Monday, but the blog should go up at its usual time. My commute to school has suddenly been reduced.
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CAPTION
A graduate student gains hands-on experience with state-of-the-art nanotechnology equipment in the Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization Teaching Cleanroom.

CREDIT
Penn State

 

Topics: African Americans, Diversity, Diversity in Science, Existentialism, Nanotechnology, STEAM

Related: Be Thankful for What You Got, William DeVaughn, Genius Lyrics


Note: When this post appears, I will be in a midterm in Solid State Devices. I purposely did not post yesterday to let the tribute to Ms. Katherine Johnson Tuesday be an appropriate and respectful dénouement. After Friday seminar, I will take a needed spring break.

Nanotechnology is STEM at the 10-9 meter scale: a nanometer. To advance any understanding at that level, there has to be a respect for objective truth:

A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by a sentient subject. Scientific objectivity refers to the ability to judge without partiality or external influence, sometimes used synonymous with neutrality. Wikipedia

After Watergate, a political party created its own echo chamber in print, radio, television and the Internet that now confuses objective versus subjective truth, i.e. that which matters in ones own opinion is therefore defended as "fact." We're daily inundated with the solipsistic subjective truth of a pathological liar, which that in and of itself is an area of mental illness as democracy is not a matter of "opinion," but a debate over a shared view of facts and what if anything will be done to ameliorate any problem put forwards. Ostrich politics doesn't even work for ostriches: like most foul, their not burying their heads in sand, they eat it and gravel to aid with their digestion.

Raking and mopping will not address climate change; neither will denying the spreading of the coronavirus in the west. It doesn't help that funding for the CDC and HHS were cut, and a lot of government agencies designed to fight pandemics either shuttered, unfunded or both. Forgive me if I'm dubious that the party whose senator brings a snowball to the well of the senate to disprove climate change won't eventually cut what we could innovate in nanotechnology, particularly expanding it to underrepresented groups to participate. They wouldn't see the value it gives to all Americans because they are just that myopic.

November 3, 2020 might as well be Judgment Day, when we either right this ship of state from the impact of ignoramuses and "alternative facts," or this dark momentum will edge us over the precipice into dystopia. Once America falls - and I'm sure her enemies know this - all other democracies around the world and civilization, is in peril.

Like the right wing truckers with smokestacks to "own the libs": we all have to live on the same planet: cooperation, or extinction.

 

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New Louis Stokes Regional Center of Excellence created with National Science Foundation funding

Traditionally, minority students have been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs -- and in the STEM marketplace. And as the U.S. innovation economy continues to grow, there comes an increasing requirement for skilled STEM workers to maintain the nation's status as a global leader. However, a significant challenge for workforce diversity exists because of limited access to underrepresented populations to quality STEM education and opportunities for STEM employment.

To try and overcome this challenge and ensure national competitiveness and sustained STEM global leadership, the Penn State Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization (CNEU), along with Norfolk State University (NSU) and Tidewater Community College (TCC), will form the Southeastern Coalition for Engagement and Exchange in Nanotechnology Education (SCENE) Louis Stokes Regional Center of Excellence in Broadening Participation. A total of $1.2 million in funding for this center was recently awarded by the National Science Foundation.

SCENE will focus on increasing recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduate and graduate students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and at community colleges with minority and underrepresented student enrollments. Recruitment efforts will be aimed at students studying STEM through nanoscience and nanotechnology education and engagement.
 

 

Nanotechnology center to help broaden participation of minorities in STEM fields
6 December 2018, Penn State


SO let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

We Rise and Fall as ONE Nation, November 5, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama, New York Post

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Current Time...

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The Drake Equation from the SETI institute.

 

Topics: African Americans, Drake Equation, Existentialism, Extinction, Nanotechnology, Philosophy

Where:

N = The number of civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.
R* = The rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life.
fp = The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.
ne = The number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for life.
fl = The fraction of suitable planets on which life actually appears.
fi = The fraction of life bearing planets on which intelligent life emerges.
fc = The fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space.
L = The length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space.

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Note: This milestone will be one month old Sunday. We shaved 20 seconds.

Closer than ever:
It is 100 seconds to midnight
2020 Doomsday Clock Statement

Science and Security Board
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Editor, John Mecklin


Editor’s note: Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.

 

To: Leaders and citizens of the world
Re: Closer than ever: It is 100 seconds to midnight
Date: January 23, 2020


Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.

In the nuclear realm, national leaders have ended or undermined several major arms control treaties and negotiations during the last year, creating an environment conducive to a renewed nuclear arms race, to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to lowered barriers to nuclear war. Political conflicts regarding nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea remain unresolved and are, if anything, worsening. US-Russia cooperation on arms control and disarmament is all but nonexistent.

Public awareness of the climate crisis grew over the course of 2019, largely because of mass protests by young people around the world. Just the same, governmental action on climate change still falls far short of meeting the challenge at hand. At UN climate meetings last year, national delegates made fine speeches but put forward few concrete plans to further limit the carbon dioxide emissions that are disrupting Earth’s climate. This limited political response came during a year when the effects of man-made climate change were manifested by one of the warmest years on record, extensive wildfires, and quicker-than-expected melting of glacial ice.

Continued corruption of the information ecosphere on which democracy and public decision making depend has heightened the nuclear and climate threats. In the last year, many governments used cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns to sow distrust in institutions and among nations, undermining domestic and international efforts to foster peace and protect the planet.

This situation—two major threats to human civilization, amplified by sophisticated, technology-propelled propaganda—would be serious enough if leaders around the world were focused on managing the danger and reducing the risk of catastrophe. Instead, over the last two years, we have seen influential leaders denigrate and discard the most effective methods for addressing complex threats—international agreements with strong verification regimes—in favor of their own narrow interests and domestic political gain. By undermining cooperative, science- and law-based approaches to managing the most urgent threats to humanity, these leaders have helped to create a situation that will, if unaddressed, lead to catastrophe, sooner rather than later.

 

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The full PDF version of the above is here. Facebook has finally released limited data for social scientists to research the effect of their platform on democracy, just as our senate blocks bills meant for protecting the voting franchise. State legislatures in Florida and Georgia make it difficult for ex-felons or people of color to vote - who needs Russians when shortsighted republicans will do? The confluence of avarice and racist hegemony may well spell the epitaph of our republic, species, and life on this planet. The 2020 elections may slow the Doomsday Clock, or speed us seconds closer.

In the Drake Equation, that even Dr. Frank Drake hedges bets against, the L: the length of time such civilizations release detectable signals into space, along with the fraction of planets where intelligent life emerges (I'm dubious about ours) are the most important variables in the equation, from a philosophical point of view.

It means to me: no more Ginai Seabron graduates, no nanoscience, nanoengineering or nanotechnology. No fretting about how to make the discipline inclusive, as surviving cavemen and women have other more pressing concerns. There cannot be advancement on such an aggressive act of mutually-assured destruction (M.A.D.). There are no "winners" or losers following such a destructive path, only un-buried corpses.

It means to me: if we survive our own avarice and hubris, my granddaughter can have a future not decided by "the color of her skin, but by the content of her character," and she could literally reach for the stars. Or, we could all be baited to Armageddon by a tweet. You can apparently get reduced sentences for your friends, despite DOJ guidelines. A Banana Republic in 140 characters. "Stop and frisk"; non-disclosure agreements for sexual harassment from the so-called benign (actual) billionaire candidate doesn't give me much hope. For my granddaughter's future, I'd like to have some.

We would theoretically and literally, then all be equalized to ashes. The universe would be indifferent to which pile of ash was a billionaire or pauper, so-called white, black or other; or a grandfather making his granddaughter laugh with a silly song about "little feet." Our self-induced inequality problems would be solved - for eternity.

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence would be over on our end, as earthbound intelligence, post-Apocalypse would then have been found...bereft.
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The Unthinkable...

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Define Fascism - Seth Tobocman, The Nation


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

1. Don’t obey in advance
2. Defend institutions
3. Beware the one-party state
4. Take responsibility for the face of the world
5. Remember professional ethics
6. Be wary of paramilitaries
7. Be reflective if you must be armed
8. Stand out
9. Be kind to our language
10. Believe in truth
11. Investigate
12. Make eye contact and small talk
13. Practice corporeal politics
14. Establish a private life
15. Contribute to good causes
16. Learn from peers in other countries
17. Listen for dangerous words
18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives
19. Be a patriot
20. Be as courageous as you can


The above is from the book "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century," by Yale Historian Timothy Snyder. Also by the author: "The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America."

From the post "Inevitability, Sports Metaphors and Republics..." March 17, 2017:


Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny warns that republics are not "automatic" nor are they inevitable. It requires a buy-in from the governed, a fundamental knowledge of the mechanism of republics and the citizen's responsibilities in keeping them going. One simple aspect is voting; the other is holding our elected officials accountable for their actions towards their constituency, not their donors or the donor class. That alludes to other forms of government that have the labels: autocracy, authoritarianism, corporatism, kleptocracy, oligarchy, totalitarianism that are the basis of very haunting dystopian novels of hopeless futures, Orwell's "boot stamping on a human face forever." Our lethargy in this country and overseas is due to the near instantaneous access to information, resulting in a citizenry in western nations that would "rather not think about it," or in the spirit of Sinclair Lewis, "It Can't Happen Here." In his prescient essay in 2004, Chris Hedges begs to differ *:

* The movement seeks the imprint of law and science. It must discredit the rational disciplines that are the pillars of the Enlightenment to abolish the liberal polity of the Enlightenment. This corruption of science and law is vital in promoting the doctrine. Creationism, or “intelligent design,” like Eugenics for the Nazis, must be introduced into the mainstream as a valid scientific discipline to destroy the discipline of science itself. This is why the Christian Right is working to bring test cases to ensure that school textbooks include “intelligent design” and condemn gay marriage.

The drive by the Christian Right to include crackpot theories in scientific or legal debate is part of the campaign to destroy dispassionate and honest intellectual inquiry. Facts become interchangeable with opinions. An understanding of reality is not to be based on the elaborate gathering of facts and evidence. The ideology alone is true. Facts that get in the way of the ideology can be altered. Lies, in this worldview, become true. Hannah Arendt called this effort “nihilistic relativism” although a better phrase might be collective insanity.

*****


Among the Founding Fathers’ chief goals was to do away with a government where the king was above the law and had absolute power over the lives of his subjects. In our system, the President, like every other citizen, is meant to be subject to the law. The Founding Fathers were explicit about that intention when they debated the shape the new government they were creating would take. And that quintessentially American view that no man is above the law has been the case up until the presidency of Donald Trump.

The rule-of-law approach to government means not only that a President must himself be accountable, but also that he cannot be permitted to create special rules that he can use to benefit his friends or punish his enemies. Trump’s most recent efforts to manipulate the criminal justice system in this regard are like a four-star fire alarm that should summon the entire country, not just half of it, to put out the fire. This is not a partisan matter – whether a President is a Democrat, a Republican or affiliated with any other ideology, he or she cannot be permitted to turn the criminal justice system into a political weapon.

The rule-of-law approach to government means not only that a President must himself be accountable, but also that he cannot be permitted to create special rules that he can use to benefit his friends or punish his enemies. Trump’s most recent efforts to manipulate the criminal justice system in this regard are like a four-star fire alarm that should summon the entire country, not just half of it, to put out the fire. This is not a partisan matter – whether a President is a Democrat, a Republican or affiliated with any other ideology, he or she cannot be permitted to turn the criminal justice system into a political weapon.

 

If Trump Is Allowed to Turn the Justice Department Into a Political Weapon, No One Is Safe
Joyce Vance, TIME

*****


We are here because of "The Gipper," Ronald Reagan, who stole money from Social Security to pay for tax cuts for the 1% that made it insolvent. The B movie president was followed by proto reality television "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" leading to "The Apprentice" and the poor acting and business management skills of a grifter that squandered all the money his father every gave him and lost money on a casino - the first time in history.

We are here because to Anglo Americans, the unthinkable was the election and re-election of Barack Obama. He represented to them the existential threat of being numerical minorities circa 2042, even though many will not live to see it (if, as I now have my doubts, humanity is still here).

We suffered eight years of madness about tan suits, Grey Poupon mustard, open outrage at the First Lady Michelle's bare arms - and speculation she was transgender - along with Obama being a secret Muslim, gay communist socialist Martian hellbent on gay marrying their grandchildren, fighting in-their-minds, "hoax" climate change and making them eat veggie burgers. Naked first ladies in filmed girl-on-girl sexual positions and prodigiously pathological lying Russian puppets is apparently, white evangelically fine now; "family values" is now for suckers.

We are here because this country's original sin - slavery and the Apartheid Jim Crow - was an obvious target to exploit with the infrastructure of AM Talk Radio and the Internet that democratized obfuscation in the likes of Alex Jones, Steve Bannon and the alt-wrong; Storm Front and digitized Klansmen in robes or polo shirts with Tiki torches by a Russian power that used it as a Trojan Horse and Achilles Heel.

We are here. What are YOU going to do about it?

This election on November 3, 2020 is consequential. Our federal republic can die as TS Eliot opined "with a whimper."

His winning would be nightmarish, but more frightening is a loss that sparks random violence from armed paramilitaries on which Orange Satan pours gasoline on a pyre. Rising from the ashes like a limp phoenix, he would "declare victory" over the ash heap and no-go zones that would be our former republic.

If there is a twenty-first addendum to Dr. Snyder's points, be prepared to fight post November 3, 2020 if he loses. Michael Cohen, knowing his old boss knew the "peaceful transition of power" would be anathema to the faux billionaire real estate confidence man. 

“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”

― John Milton, Paradise Lost
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Rule of Law...

 

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


What is the Rule of Law?

The rule of law is a set of principles, or ideals, for ensuring an orderly and just society. Many countries throughout the world strive to uphold the rule of law where no one is above the law, everyone is treated equally under the law, everyone is held accountable to the same laws, there are clear and fair processes for enforcing laws, there is an independent judiciary, and human rights are guaranteed for all.
 

Source: American Bar Association, Public Education: Rule of Law

*****


WASHINGTON — The U.S. attorney who had presided over an inconclusive criminal investigation into former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe was abruptly removed from the job last month in one of several recent moves by Attorney General William Barr to take control of legal matters of personal interest to President Donald Trump, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

A person familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News that Trump has rescinded the nomination of Jessie Liu, who had been the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., for a job as an undersecretary at the Treasury Department.

Liu also supervised the case against Trump associate Roger Stone. On Tuesday, all four line prosecutors withdrew from the case — and one quit the Justice Department altogether — after Barr and his top aides intervened to reverse a stiff sentencing recommendation of up to nine years in prison that the line prosecutors had filed with the court Monday. (Liu left before the sentencing recommendation was made.)
 

Barr takes control of legal matters of interest to Trump, including Stone sentencing
Carol E. Lee, Ken Dilanian and Peter Alexander, NBCNEWS

*****


Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is demanding that Attorney General William Barr testify publicly over the Justice Department's decision to reduce the recommended sentence for Trump associate Roger Stone.

Harris is asking Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to call Barr before the panel, of which she is a member.

"I request that you immediately schedule a hearing for Attorney General William Barr to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee so that the committee and the American people can understand the Justice Department’s decision to overrule its career prosecutors in this case," Harris wrote in a letter to Graham.
 

Harris demands Barr testify over Roger Stone sentence recommendation
Jordain Carney, The Hill


News flash (and all due respect to Senator Harris): he won't.

He, along with Wilbur Ross ignored subpoenas sent by the House of Representatives due to the coming census regarding this administration's plans to dispute citizenship, translation: negate brown people.

The policies of the United States regarding immigration has a history of blatant racism. The rule of law has always been dubiously applied differential to its black and brown citizens.

What STOPS our government from extrajudicial killings? Where is the breaking mechanism for it? Surely not in the senate.  Will we see a violation of Posse Comitatus?

The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152) signed on June 18, 1878, by President Rutherford B. Hayes. The purpose of the act – in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807 – is to limit the powers of the federal government in using federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the United States. It was passed as an amendment to an army appropriation bill following the end of Reconstruction and was updated in 1956 and 1981.

The act specifically applies only to the United States Army and, as amended in 1956, the United States Air Force. Although the act does not explicitly mention the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy has prescribed regulations that are generally construed to give the act force with respect to those services as well. The act does not prevent the Army National Guard or the Air National Guard under state authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within its home state or in an adjacent state if invited by that state's governor. The United States Coast Guard, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security, is not covered by the Posse Comitatus Act either, primarily because although the Coast Guard is an armed service, it also has both a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency mission.

The title of the act comes from the legal concept of posse comitatus, the authority under which a county sheriff, or other law officer, conscripts any able-bodied person to assist in keeping the peace. Wikipedia/Posse_Comitatus_Act

There is just enough wiggle room for a demagogic despot and a subservient lackey as head of the DOJ; the courts stacked with lifetime federal judges the ABA deems unqualified, it is the recipe for a slow coup, a descent from democracy to despotism; from federal republic to fascism.

I'm sure the Nazis on the way to exterminating six million Jews, tested the waters with the first 24.

What do you do when the threat to your own continued existence...is your own "government"? The "gang of Putin" actively purge voters in Georgia. They make it difficult for (currently) numerical minorities to vote. They ignore laws and statutes they know they're guilty of violating. They're shameless and like Orange Satan, unchecked.

The U.S. Constitution is officially toilet paper.

We're in the fight of our lives.
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The Last Republican...

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Mitt Romney on the Senate floor, image source: Axios

 

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


A criminal was acquitted Wednesday. A trial was held for the first time in the history of the republic with no witnesses and no evidence examined. It was a shame, and a sham.

Perhaps democracy died Wednesday. It died in the Wiemar Republic for a time once Chancellor Hitler made himself Fuhrer, and overthrew their constitution. Post this kangaroo court, we are a banana republic that just crowned the mad court jester, king.

There were profiles in courage on the democratic side.

Doug Jones was a Civil Rights lawyer that won a hard fought and decades-long case against the terrorists that bombed the 16 Street Baptist Church, and killed four little black girls. It happened on my mother's birthday when I was a year and a month old: September 15, 1963. He won against Roy Moore, accused of pedophilia and creepy behavior around malls. Roy is running again in the Republican primaries, as is Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III who wants his old job back. He was the first senator to back Orange Satan and one of the first he turned on when he recused himself in the Mueller investigation. Doug could have acquitted a criminal, but then that wouldn't have made sense pursuing justice decades denied.

Kyrsten Sinema just won her seat and now has to defend it in the traditionally red state of Arizona. "Sinema began her political career as an activist for the Green Party before joining the Arizona Democratic Party in 2004. In the 2012 elections, she was elected to the United States House of Representatives, becoming the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress and the second openly LGBT woman elected to Congress. After her election to Congress, she shifted toward the political center, joining the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and amassing a "reliably moderate-Democratic" voting record.

Sinema won the 2018 United States Senate election in Arizona to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake, defeating Republican nominee Martha McSally. She became Arizona's senior senator immediately upon taking office. Sinema is the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Arizona." Wikipedia She could have joined McSally in demeaning the fourth estate. The easy thing to do was vote to acquit, "convert" to the Republican Party and pick up the devil's blessings. She chose The Constitution over a criminal and her comfort.

Jon Tester is known for his missing fingers, a childhood accident with a meat grinder. He's in a red state that both supported the orange shit stain, and could turn on him. His fidelity is to the rule of law, and that no one is above it.

Joe Mansion is the epitome of a "blue dog democrat." He voted for Kavenaugh after the Christine Ford testimony, reminiscent of the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas hearing except for the yelling, beer references and histrionics. He faces the possibility of defeat in a very red state. He chose not to fear.

History has indeed taught us that when it comes to the instincts that drive us, fear has no rival. As the lead House impeachment manager, Representative Adam Schiff, has noted, Robert Kennedy spoke of how “moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle.”

Playing on that fear, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, sought a quick impeachment trial for President Trump with as little attention to it as possible. Reporters, who usually roam the Capitol freely, have been cordoned off like cattle in select areas. Mr. McConnell ordered limited camera views in the Senate chamber so only presenters — not absent senators — could be spotted.

And barely a peep from Republican lawmakers.

One journalist remarked to me, “How in the world can these senators walk around here upright when they have no backbone?”

Fear has a way of bending us.

Sherrod Brown, Democratic Senator from Ohio

Haltingly, emotionally one lone republican voted what his party no longer has or condones: his conscience.

I am not a fan of Mitt Romney.

His strong belief in his faith I don't share. There are verses in Mormon scripture disparaging to African Americans in their "war on heaven," giving incarnation to valiant angels in the cosmic conflict as "light-shinned babies"; those of lesser valor as dark-skinned. They have since disavowed those beliefs.

As the candidate of the Republican Party in 2012, he was as dissembling as any other republican. He lied in the first debate with President Obama, a precursor to the rampant obfuscation and assault on truth we're subjected to daily. He was not triumphant in their second debate, the president regaining his footing, but Obama's dismissal of Russia as an existential threat will be researched by American historians...provided we still have a republic based on facts, reality and principle. Romney lost, and was as startled as his wife was because of the hardened-from-facts bubble that is conservative media, or as Karl Rove opined, a "created reality."

Perhaps his halting was the effervescence of bursting through that bubble; his emotion penance for a party and a world he had some part in creating.

The Latter Day Saints, according to Rushton's version, would "go to the Rocky Mountains and... be a great and mighty people," associated in the prophecy's figurative language, with one of the biblical four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation.

Smith's supposed original statement predicts that the US Constitution will one day "hang like a thread" but be saved by Latter-day Saints. The embellished version portrays it to be "by the efforts of the White Horse."

Perhaps Senator Romney knows this prophecy. Perhaps he believes he embodies it. Perhaps he does not in either case.

He did behave Wednesday in the well of the world's former most deliberative body, as a man feeling the weight of history and his moment in it.

Despite all of my misgivings to him, we did witness the political passing, post the mortal transition of John McCain...of the last republican.

New York Times, February 5, 2020

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

― Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Naked Oligarchy...

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Image Source: Extra News Feed link below


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


"The Emperor's New Clothes" (Danish: Kejserens nye klæder) is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new "clothes", no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid. Finally a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" The tale has been translated into over 100 languages. Wikipedia

The Real Story Behind the Story

For social psychologists, the story is a textbook example of pluralistic ignorance, a social phenomenon in which “no one believes, but everyone believes that everyone else believes” (Krech and Crutchfield, 1948). Where pluralistic ignorance occurs, great mischief often follows. Jens Ulrik Hansen elaborates: “pluralistic ignorance is the phenomenon where a group of people shares a false belief about the beliefs, norms, actions or thoughts of the other group members.” This sort of thing happens all the time, and most people follow at least some rules and norms not because they believe in and approve of them, but because everyone else seems to.

"Pluralistic ignorance is a social phenomenon in which “no one believes, but everyone believes that everyone else believes."

Joni Ernst gave away the game on Joe Biden and Iowa. Ken Starr acts like he's never impeached a president for a blow job, credulously arguing that collaboration with a foreign power isn't as bad as extramarital fellatio. Alan-defender-of-pedophiles-Dershowitz is essentially arguing the Nixon "if it's the president, it's not illegal" defense while getting #Dershbag to impressively trend on Twitter. The wring-our-hands constitutional stewards during black emperor president can't sit on their asses longer than an a few hours before making airplanes, crossword puzzles or playing with fidget toys.

Be that as it may, Oligarchy is here. The political structures of the republic are still operative but increasingly ineffective at stopping Oligarchy from its purpose, which is to suck all resources toward the top.

The U.S. Oligarchy can't be described with classifications such as upper, middle, and lower class. Oligarchy divides society (with amazing success!) into rigid strata or tiers.

Top Tier is the "highest degree of authority ... free from control." A Paul Simon lyric defined them: "a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires." The operative word is "loose." Conspiracy theorists derail when they imagine tightly disciplined cabals. To think the Top Tier acts in concert is to underestimate how viciously and constantly its components compete among themselves. An oligarchy is more like a clan: They argue with each other but unite against the Other – that "other," in this case, being everyone else.

Letters at 3AM: 'O' Is for Oligarchy, Michael Ventura, The Austin Chronicle, April 9, 2010

This was a prescient article I read in the print version of the Austin Chronicle when I was living in the city at the time. It printed over several weeks and had me coming back to the cafe to digest it along with coffee. The tiers it described below the Top Tier are well-compensated professionals (six figure and above incomes), skilled services (skills that cannot be outsourced); the unskilled tier and beneath the unskilled tier: "spare parts" - a natural place for the homeless and mentally ill.

There is a lament for a golden era of the Founding Fathers. Justice Antonin Scalia was a described "strict constructionist," meaning "a judge to apply the text only as it is written. Once the court has a clear meaning of the text, no further investigation is required. Judges—in this view—should avoid drawing inferences from a statute or constitution and focus only on the text itself." (Wikipedia) He apparently did not use that as self-description, it was merely applied to him by those who saw advantage in ascribing it to him. The reason Moscow Mitch held his seat after his demise from Merrick Garland - and was prepared to continue it if Hillary Clinton had become president - was because of this archaic view. The Constitution as it was originally written ascribed the mathematics of "three-fifths a human" to the kidnapped African Diaspora, which directly relates to the equally archaic electoral college.

In a sense, our republic was designed for oligarchs. In a "strict constructionist" view of the original documents, only propertied white men would be given the "audacity of [the] vote":

The right of suffrage is a fundamental Article in Republican Constitutions. The regulation of it is, at the same time, a task of peculiar delicacy. Allow the right [to vote] exclusively to property [owners], and the rights of persons may be oppressed... . Extend it equally to all, and the rights of property [owners] ...may be overruled by a majority without property....

Library of Congress: The Founders and the Vote


Excluded from the franchise: the African Diaspora ("property," along with the real estate of plantations), First Nation Peoples, Women; non-English speaking peoples.

For all the poetic waxing on our "founding documents," this sounds an awful lot like oligarchy.

So, the descendants of these crimped dick constructionists are hankering for "the good old days" when men were WHITE Anglo Saxon Protestant Cisgenger (WASP-C) men, they were the only ones that could vote and everyone else was an asterisk.

What about Clarence Thomas? Yeah, about Clarence long-dong Thomas...

In Stowe’s 1852 book, the character of Sambo was one of the slave overseers that work for the cruel slave owner, Simon Legree. Uncle Tom, a god-fearing slave with a compassionate heart, was tormented and beaten to death by Sambo, who regretted his act even as Tom forgave him as he was dying. Although Stowe had higher aims with her book, the depiction of Black characters as matronly and subservient further added to stereotypes that persist today.

Little Known Black History Fact: Sambo, D. L. Chandler, Black America Web, 1/11/17

Long-dong. Sambo. Use the right epithets. He can continue taking naps. He's useless, and knows he can't come back to the family BBQ.

So, as this wholesale siphoning goes on, the "vast sucking sound" is as effective as it's always been since the late billionaire Ross Perot coined the phrase (and like Joni, kind of revealed the game).

94% of American voters supported universal background checks, according to a Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll with a margin of error of +/- 3.4%. Wikipedia

In fact, according to a Public Policy Polling survey, 83 percent of gun owners support expanded background checks on sales of all firearms, including 72 percent of all NRA members.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll, released earlier today, shows that a large majority—75 percent—of voters think the Senate should allow witness testimony in the ongoing impeachment trial. Respondents appeared to have answered along party lines, with 49 percent of self-identified Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents saying there should be witnesses.

Christina Zhao, Newsweek

A democratic republic would respond to such data; an oligarchy with a lower tier of a well-compensated professional class responding to wealthy donors would not, and adamantly so. 

If we actually want a functioning democratic republic, we better act like it.

It may take some door knocking. It may take some cold calling for candidates, your representatives and senators. If they're part of the "gang of Putin," it will take calling multiple times. It may take some posting signs in your yards that open you sadly to assault by Neanderthals prone to violence against sunshine - "woke" tweets and "on fleek" Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat updates don't count. If voting wasn't that important, Staci Abrams wouldn't have a fight in Georgia. Adam Schiff and the House managers didn't convince a single, made up mind in the 53-47 crowd, but hopefully it did in the jury that matters: 331,002,651, and counting. They won't all vote. Some of them have never voted. The cult members won't be talked off the island, but this republic needs voters that are alert and see through the lies. Democracy is messy and hard to maintain, which is why authoritarianism and fascism raises its ugly head from time to time. This is existential because this might be the LAST time, with no recovery, or global Marshall Plan on the horizon. It's going to be up to "us."

Finally a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

What if the naked emperor and his sycophant senator pachyderms DON'T CARE?

"We are the ones that we have been waiting for." by then candidate Barack Obama, but it has other sources.

#FIGHT for the future.
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Facts, Fascism and Fascists...

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Image Source: Truth Dig link below


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


Tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, have begun to dismantle the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment. They are creating a theocratic state based on “biblical law,” and shutting out all those they define as the enemy. This movement, veering closer and closer to traditional fascism, seeks to force a recalcitrant world to submit before an imperial America. It champions the eradication of social deviants, beginning with homosexuals, and moving on to immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims and those they dismiss as “nominal Christians” — meaning Christians who do not embrace their perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible. Those who defy the mass movement are condemned as posing a threat to the health and hygiene of the country and the family. All will be purged.

The followers of deviant faiths, from Judaism to Islam, must be converted or repressed. The deviant media, the deviant public schools, the deviant entertainment industry, the deviant secular humanist government and judiciary and the deviant churches will be reformed or closed. There will be a relentless promotion of Christian “values,” already under way on Christian radio and television and in Christian schools, as information and facts are replaced with overt forms of indoctrination. The march toward this terrifying dystopia has begun. It is taking place on the streets of Arizona, on cable news channels, at tea party rallies, in the Texas public schools, among militia members and within a Republican Party that is being hijacked by this lunatic fringe.

There has been high praise for the House Impeachment Managers: Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Val Demings, Zoe Lofgren, Sylvia Garcia, Jason Crow, Hakeem Jeffries; especially its leader, Adam Schiff. My fraternity brother, House Manager Hakeem Jeffries probably accomplished the first hip hop Biggie Smalls' mic drop rebuttal in impeachment history. I'm sure it completely went over Jay Sekulow's head.

Belief in pseudoscience extended across the Nazi high command, from the Führer's search for 'death rays' to Goebbels reading Nostradamus in bed.

This is a dense and scholarly book about one of the pulpiest subjects of the past 70 years - the relationship between the Nazi party and the occult, which has been much debated across popular culture both in fiction (Captain America: Civil War, Hellboy, Wolfenstein, the Indiana Jones series, Iron Sky, The Keep and countless others) and in innumerable schlocky works of pseudoscience with runes and swastikas on the covers.

As it turns out, though, even this sober, academic treatment of the topic reveals stranger-than-fiction truths on every page.

Here are a few of them. In the 1930s, Hitler made extensive notes on a book called Magic: Theory, History, Practice and underlined passages such as "He who does not carry demonic seeds within him will never give birth to a new world". In 1934, the year after he was appointed chancellor of Germany, he hired a dowser to go over the Reich Chancellery in search of "death rays" that might damage staff in the building. He and Himmler held frequent conversations about "the World Empire of Atlantis, which fell victim to the catastrophe of the moons falling to Earth" and about a discredited pseudoscience called Welteislehre, or World Ice Theory, which taught that the cosmos was made of ice and which they saw as a "Germanic" counterbalance to the "Jewish" theory of relativity.

Hitler's obsession with the occult, Tim Martin, July 30, 2017, Independent.ie

It seems Captain America: the First Avenger and Marvel got it right.

When you're modern fascists, you stretch, move; work on crossword puzzles and paper airplanes in the senate chamber even under threat of imprisonment. Must be nice, Mr. Paul. But this is a guy who's ophthalmology certification is from the National Ophthalmology Board, which sounds all well and good until you realize it's a board HE founded. It also apparently dissolves like bicarbonate in vinegar when convenient.

Eugenics and mythology were the Nazis' obsessions; "intelligent design" and end-time eschatology appears the obsession of our current crop of sociopaths.

Even though the House Impeachment Managers have been witty, erudite, thorough; brilliant with video and PowerPoint presentations that would make Nancy Duarte, the author of Slide:ology proud, to quote Thomas Paine: “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.” Ms. Duarte's most famous student is Vice President Al Gore and his Nobel Prize climate presentation that became the Oscar-winning documentary: "An Inconvenient Truth."

But when you're fascists, any truth is the enemy. That's why your Putin sock puppet can get rid of environmental laws that affect streams and wetlands. That's why climate change is STILL a Chinese hoax after signing some cockeyed trade agreement that probably will make us all miss TPP. Your AG Bill Barr/Roy Cohn chases conspiracy theories across the globe that makes our allies think we've lost our collective minds. 16,000+ and counting lies from "dear leader" is literal Manna from Heaven to the sachet swastika set, fact checkers be damned. Down is up. Left is right. White is black; it's always a new moon and the sun shines darkness.

53 - 47: So far, 53 out of 100 senators of the same party with an obvious bias against reality are awaiting their moment to acquit a criminal, because their own party is a complicit criminal enterprise. 53 - 47 senators voted against election security; 53 - 47 senators agree with voter ID, voter suppression and Russia interfering with the fundamental right of a republic to pick its OWN leaders. For 53 - 47, evidence doesn't matter. Witnesses don't matter. FACTS don't matter: because to them, democracy doesn't matter. Only POWER matters. 53 - 47 need to prove they're not fascists.

53-47: this number should be hung around 53 red necks. They should pay a political price and lose their positions and majority. November 3, 2020 is the date we end this fascist takeover. #Vote, or your republic is permanently lost.

Lies are to fascists like slop is for hogs: a mixture of mud, corn husks and rancid pig shit, filth only comfortable to hogs.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

“Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.”

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

― George Orwell, Animal Farm

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Drug Deals and Bullshit...

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Image Source: Philosophy Talk, "Is There a Case for Bullshit?" by Serena Wong

 


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


One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, as Harry Frankfurt writes, “we have no theory.”

Frankfurt, one of the world’s most influential moral philosophers, attempts to build such a theory here. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying. He argues that bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all.

Rather, bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. Frankfurt concludes that although bullshit can take many innocent forms, excessive indulgence in it can eventually undermine the practitioner’s capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, Frankfurt writes, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

On Bullshit, Harry G. Frankfurt

Well, he used it in a rally. They finally embodied it in a president* that's clearly fatter than when he started "executive time" or something, because golfing on the government dime isn't burning any calories, nor are his prodigious tweeting bowel movements.

*Putin-installed puppet

Level 1 Bullshit Artists

Pilgrims coming for "religious freedom." Winthrop's "shining city on a hill" was a shit pile of lies. His utopia looked like proto "Handmaid's Tale." Dude didn't even like Quakers. WHO doesn't like Quakers? You damned near died your first winter, in some cases resorting to cannibalism, systematically slaughtered the First Nation Peoples who GOT you through that winter and masked the genocide in the false memory of Thanksgiving propagated as propaganda to introduce Black Friday and the holiday binge buying season where everybody's broke in January. Happy capitalism. Socialism is evil. Ask Denmark.

Level 2 Bullshit Artists

Slavery. When you saw the road was rough with thorns and thistles; the First Nation peoples had bows, arrows and occasionally guns showing you how pissed they were when you tried to genocide them, you and Great Britain went to the continent of Africa, payed off some douche chieftains that wanted to get rid of rivals and use uncompensated labor to make yourselves rich beyond Solomon's dreams. Your government documents state your reason to secede was about slavery and your revulsion of black people, so don't bullshit me, you or anyone else. You balk at reparations because it's like pulling the thread of your favorite suit, watching the entire structure unravel. I get why you're nostalgic over the "peculiar institution." Bullshit artists are lazy. See "executive time."

Level 3 Bullshit Artists

I call bullshit on the revered "Founding Fathers." Your papered-over Tea Party in Boston Harbor wasn't a noble act of rebellion: you were COLONISTS. You didn't hitchhike to America! Britain paid your cruise ship tickets on the Mayflower. You essentially saw a way NOT to pay your taxes. (Your descendants created lawyers, loopholes and offshore bank accounts for that now.) "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal"...except black men, black women, their children and descendants; white women didn't vote until 1920. African Americans didn't get the Voting Rights Act until 1965, and THAT has to be periodically reauthorized! It barely passed this last time, like republicans might want to vote slavery back in.

Level 4 Bullshit Artists

The Fairness Doctrine: "In the Radio Act of 1927, Congress dictated that the FCC (and its predecessor, the Federal Radio Commission) should only issue broadcast licenses when doing so serves the public interest. In 1949, the FCC interpreted this more strictly to mean that licensees should include discussions of matters of public importance in their broadcasts, and that they should do so in a fair manner. It issued “In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees,” which announced the Fairness Doctrine, and began enforcing it."

It's after the 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, right wing AM talk radio and Rush Limbaugh became the darling of the trucker set and the foundation of the echo chamber that would eventually become Roger Ailes Fox "News," 4Chann, 8Chann, Infowars and QAnon. Read the above underline statement, and ask yourself if they do.

Level 5 Bullshit Artists

The Fox News Channel (FNC) is an American basic cable and satellite news television channel that was founded by media mogul Rupert Murdoch in 1996. Roger Ailes appointed himself as permanent CEO of the news operation in 2001 & was created as a Republican-centered alternative to CNN. In January 2002, the ratings of the channel surpassed top-rated CNN to become the #1 news cable channel. They fell in March 2002, but since then the network has maintained its #1 cable rating (as of 2019) with increasing viewership and international access. Wikipedia

Ailes was a staffer in the Nixon administration, and of course thought any republican president should be allowed to get away with grand theft from the Watergate building. Too bad he had those tapes that did him in. He should have had Twitter, and misspelled, or spelled covfefe.

Level 6 Bullshit Artists

The entire Russian government has resigned just hours after President Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping changes to the country’s constitution, according to reports. The TASS news agency, which is owned by the Russian government, reported Wednesday morning that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his ministers submitted their resignations to Putin. The agency said Putin thanked Medvedev for his work and said the outgoing prime minister would be installed as deputy of the presidential security council. Medvedev said he resigned to give Putin space to carry out the changes he wants to make to the constitution.

The Entire Russian Government Has Resigned, Jamie Ross, The Daily Beast

Wow! I guess "he alone will fix it" by decree+ like an emperor, or in the case of Russia: a Czar. Now I see where his comb-over toupee Neanderthal got it from. It sounds like he's making what's left of their constitution into toilet paper just like his Orange Satan puppet. He did this as his American pet's impeachment hearings got underway. You don't have to commit a crime to get impeached, but it's awkward as the Government Accounting Office announces you're guilty of a crime.

+"So let it be written, so let it be done" Yul Brynner as Pharaoh in The Ten Commandments, in a slew of Hollywood cultural appropriation.

 

Level 7 Bullshit Artists


Seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth, source: Wikipedia

Evangelicals aren't a religious body anymore: they're a political party with zero values. Somehow, the once "family values" party fell in line behind a heathen that exemplifies ALL seven deadly sins turned racism into a winning strategy for the moment. He's impeached forever - the third president* in U.S. history, the first in the 21st century and with the Lev Parnas What App drop, he apparently thinks Quid Pro Quo is a healthy bowel movement for septuagenarians.

The Southern Strategy is subject to the thermodynamics of Entropy just like any other moldy philosophy. John Bolton called the plot against Marie Yovanovitch that may have threatened her life a drug deal, but he's teetering between breaking another bombshell in a shitload of bombshells or depressing the sales of his future book by waiting too long. Any information that could remove the orange tweeting thing from the nuclear button is useless if he gets a second term, or if we're all glowing in the dark.

By the way Orange Satan: a shit load of lies doesn't make them true. It's just all bullshit.

*Putin-installed puppet
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New Pole, New Earth...

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MOSAiC researchers take samples on the ice near the Polarstern. Credit: Esther Horvath Alfred-Wegener-Institut (CC-BY 4.0)

 

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Research


The first leg of an ambitious, yearlong Arctic science expedition just ended, and scientists say they’ve already gained new insight into the rapidly changing Arctic—the fastest warming region on Earth.

An initial team of researchers from the MOSAiC Expedition—short for Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate—arrived in the port city of Tromsø, Norway, on New Year’s Day after more than three months at sea. Billed as the largest Arctic science mission in history, the expedition launched from the same spot on Sept. 20, led by a German icebreaker known as the Polarstern.

The Polarstern remains in the central Arctic Ocean, now staffed by a replacement research team. The mission’s goal is to spend a year closely observing the fine details of the Arctic climate system, including the interactions among the ocean, sea ice and atmosphere.

To accomplish that goal, the Polarstern has allowed itself to freeze into the sea ice in the central Arctic Ocean, where it will remain stuck in place as it drifts across the top of the world. The ship is expected to emerge next fall somewhere north of Greenland, with a year’s worth of continuous scientific data under its belt.

Researchers are optimistic the mission will provide an unprecedented perspective on the shifting Arctic, where the effects of climate change are unfolding at a dramatic pace.

I'm not sure John on the island of Patmos had the above in mind.

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Revelation 21:1


Frozen in Dwindling Ice, a Historic Expedition Finds a “New Arctic”, Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American

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Angry Summers...

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Credit: David Gray Getty Images

 

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Global Warming, Thermodynamics


In the U.S., it is post the winter solstice: tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun, our days are shorter, nights are longer and we usually experience precipitation in the forms of rain and snow.

The southern hemisphere is tilted the same degrees TOWARDS the sun, thus it's their summer. A summer typically marked by tourism, lazy beaches, mixed drinks and one would assume selfies of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This is what was the usual and typical.

No hellscape could be penned more bleak than what we're seeing now. A billion living creatures have died, and likely are headlong barreling to the endangered species list. The elderly, sick and disabled are cannon fodder. The prime minister, firmly in the pockets of big coal, is as much a climate change lunatic as our current lobotomized "leader."

Oh yes, endangered species are not important now, are they (even if its us)? The "Environmental Protection Agency" is oxymoron. Climate change is a Chinese hoax, and the Australians just need better "forest management" by sweeping as advised to California and (not-at-all) practiced by residents of Finland. If soon-to-be past is prologue, we can only expect a repeat performance in the northern hemisphere once we get past May, especially in states like Texas, where water rationing by zip code is more or less expected, and a spark on a curb scratched by the pipe of a pickup truck in high heat and drought can cause infernos.

Avarice and abject ignorance will kill us all.

Summer in Australia use to be something we yearned for: long, lazy days spent by the beach or pool, backyard barbecues, and games of cricket with family and friends. But recent summers have become a time of fear: Schools and workplaces are closed because of catastrophic fire danger, while we shelter in air-conditioned spaces to avoid dangerous heat waves and hazardous levels of smoke in the air. Campgrounds have been closed for the summer, and entire towns have been urged to evacuate ahead of “Code Red” fire weather. Welcome to our new climate.

Of course, unusually hot summers have happened in the past; so have bad bushfire seasons. But the link between the current extremes and anthropogenic climate change is scientifically indisputable.

The fires raging across the southern half of the Australian continent this year have so far burned through more than 5 million hectares. To put that in context, the catastrophic 2018 fire season in California saw nearly 740,000 hectares burned. The Australian fire season began this year in late August (before the end of our winter). Fires have so far claimed nine lives, including two firefighters, and destroyed around 1,000 homes. It is too early to tell what the toll on our wildlife has been, but early estimates suggest that around 500 million animals have died so far, including 30 percent of the koala population in their main habitat. And this is all before we have even reached January and February, when the fire season typically peaks in Australia.
 

 

Australia’s Angry Summer: This Is What Climate Change Looks Like
Nerilie Abram, Scientific American

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Kompromat: Donald Trump at a Miss Universe party in Moscow in 2013. What he might have done in a hotel room there is nobody’s business except, perhaps, his wife’s. Photograph: Stoyan Vassev/Reuters, Irish Times

 

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


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.

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."

In his address, the president threatened to invoke severe sanctions against Iran, but seemed amenable to deescalating the burgeoning military aggression. Still, the nine-minute address was packed with the president’s standard potpourri of falsehoods, lies, and bouts of incoherence. But the most striking aspect of his speech had less to do with what he said than how he said it. Which is to say, Trump was slurring and snorting through an address that was ostensibly designed to calm a nation on the brink of war.

Trump has never been a particularly graceful public speaker, but his mush-mouth sounded especially pronounced this morning. There was heaviness to his speech, as if he was struggling to talk through cottonmouth. He also had difficulty with the letter S, which he couldn’t pronounce without a drawn out hiss, as if he were a snake. One of the more flagrant examples entails the president mangling the pronunciation of “tolerated” while condemning terrorism.

The briefing by his laughable national security team, supposedly justifying the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani Wednesday raised more questions than it answered. Senator Mike Lee sounded livid. Rand Paul also seemed willing to seize back the Article I powers congress has abdicated since 9/11. John Bolton saying he would testify in an impeachment trial sent the current president* and republican-led senate in a panic to conclude quickly the only trial in America or in HISTORY - without called witnesses. Russia hacked the RNC like they hacked the DNC, but did not release it, meaning they HAVE it in other words, kompromat, used to manipulate them.

WASHINGTON -- Newly released documents show Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in contact with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the months before the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was abruptly recalled.

The State Department released the documents Friday to the group American Oversight in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. They show that Pompeo talked with Giuliani on March 26 and March 29.

Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said the documents reveal “a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani’s smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador.”

Last week, former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch told House impeachment investigators she felt “kneecapped” by a “smear campaign” Giuliani led against her. She was withdrawn from her post in Ukraine in May.

The documents released Friday also include a report, that appears with Trump hotel stationery, that appears to summarize a Jan. 23 interview with a former Ukrainian prosecutor general, Victor Shokin. The summary says Giuliani and two business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were present.

The instinct of this president* is to be a crook. He was so Dr. Flunk-en-stein he's blocked any public access to his grades at Fordham University in New York and Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania. It's so bad, he apparently didn't know colleges and universities CAN'T release that information without his permission. It's so bad he doesn't want us to see his grades at his military academy high school. Michael Cohen threatened the institutions - mob lawyer gangster-style - to protect his former client's demonstrably fragile ego (Mike's in jail for him now).

We're out of the The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for the same reasons: racism and jealousy. He tore it up because "the black guy who teased him at the White House Correspondence Dinner" did it. The announcement of Bin Laden's death comically preempted his precious reality show, the ONE place he could pretend to be successful instead of the failure even he knew he was. How DARE his enemy!

He needs his name on NAFTA 2.0 because of his malignant narcissism. He took Orly Taitz cockeyed, Quixotic crusade and rode the bigotry former Dixiecrats cum republicans cum Tea Party cum his cult following who were quite clear they loathed having an African American president and the immigration and demographics changes he represented. Along with help from Vladimir Putin and the antiquated electoral college, he slumped to the Oval Office, a position he'd never thought of, never prepared for and is not qualified for, despite his braggadocio regarding his "big brain."

“Donald Trump was the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” I remember his emphasis and inflection — it went like this: “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity, but long before he was considered a political figure. Kelley often referred to Trump’s arrogance when he told the story that Trump came to Wharton thinking he already knew everything.

This has relevance now because as recently as this week, President Trump challenged the Secretary of State of the United States to an IQ contest. This came within two days after NBC reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the President a “moron” or a "f**king moron." The president has frequently bragged that he was a great student at a great school (Wharton). Thus, the public is entitled to a contrary view from somebody who was there (Dr. Kelley), and I faithfully report it here.

Bill Kelley was one smart cookie. His textbook was standard in his time in the then-new field of “marketing intelligence” and the necessity of using computers and databases to manage it. (See onlinelibrary.wiley.com which credits Bill for coining the quoted phrase.)

Frank DiPrima, DailyKos, AlterNET

He is both poster child of the SAT cheating scandal and the abysmal mythology of "white supremacy." He has proven the Alt-Wrong, Noodle Nazis, Klu-less Kleptocratic Kakistocracy to be the impotent impostors they've always been, frightened they have to compete for positions of the future; reaching for a past that never existed. They want white picket fences, white women at home: barefoot, submitted and perpetually pregnant to increase their stock of fascists. They want black people on the back of buses, Hispanics/Latinos back in Mexico, LGBT back in the closet; big oil and coal unfettered regardless of environmental consequences. They need fear to rule over others to bandage the failures they can't accept in themselves, and their pathetic lives.

And they have anointed an orange, satanic savior, a lens through which they focus their racist angst through.

Sadly, for The Apocalypse, there is no second season.
 

*Putin-installed puppet: a new definition for PIP, which he wouldn't follow anyway.

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Malignant Solipsism...

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Echo gazes at Narcissus while he longingly peers at his own reflection. J.W. Waterhouse, 1903. Public domain.

 

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


One day while hunting, Narcissus comes across an untouched, glassy spring. He is drawn to its beauty and lies down to take a drink, but what he sees in the still water enchants him. He is in love with what he sees and is inflamed by the features of the vision: the hair, his eyes, porcelain skin, and rosy cheeks. Attempts to kiss and hold the reflection are in vain, and Narcissus is only frustrated by the teasing reactions of the image. When Narcissus winks, the image winks back, when Narcissus waves, the image waves, and when he cries tears, he sees that the image also cries. Narcissus cannot understand why he cannot reach what he so desperately desires.

The tormented boy agonizes over his unrequited love. He cannot leave the spring and is trapped in his frozen gaze at his reflection, pining away for the boy in the water who rejects all advances. Then Narcissus realizes that the image is his, but it’s too late, as he has already fallen tragically in love with himself. Knowing that he can never have what he desires, his body withers away in despair. When Narcissus says “Goodbye” to the reflection, Echo’s voice says “Goodbye.” At that moment, Narcissus dies while peering into the spring. Historic Mysteries

 

*****


The Camp of the Saints (French: Le Camp des Saints) is a 1973 French dystopian fiction novel by Catholic author and explorer Jean Raspail. A speculative fictional account, it depicts the destruction of Western civilization through Third World mass immigration to France and the West. Almost forty years after its initial publication, the novel returned to the bestseller list in 2011. Wikipedia/The_Camp_of_the_Saints

The Turner Diaries is a 1978 novel by William Luther Pierce, published under the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald.[1] The Turner Diaries depicts a violent revolution in the United States which leads to the overthrow of the federal government, nuclear war, and, ultimately, a race war leading to the systematic extermination of non-whites.[2][3] All groups opposed by the novel's protagonist, Earl Turner, including Jews, non-whites, "liberal actors" and politicians, are exterminated. Wikipedia/The_Turner_Diaries

The Turner Diaries may sound familiar if you recall the Oklahoma City Bombing. Timothy McVeigh had a copy of it in the pickup truck he was discovered in. An army veteran skilled in explosive ordinance disposal (E.O.D.), fashioning a bomb of fertilizer and fuel was a matter of course.

The Jewish white nationalist (pxymoron) Steven Miller recommended The Camp of the Saints in several revealed emails to Brietbart. Mr. Miller - a second generation descendant of Jewish refugees from the Nazi pogroms in WWII Poland - and the author of our kiddie concentration camps efficiently "disappearing" and outright killing brown children (24 that we know of).

“Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.”

This is what Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, in an Aug. 30 email, which has only been made available in redacted form until now. It is one of many documents the Trump administration is trying to keep from the public, despite congressional oversight efforts and court orders in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation.

Earlier in the day on Aug. 30, President Donald Trump met with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the president’s hold on $391 million in military assistance for Ukraine. Inside the Trump administration, panic was reaching fever pitch about the president’s funding hold, which had stretched on for two months. Days earlier, POLITICO had broken the story and questions were starting to pile up. U.S. defense contractors were worried about delayed contracts and officials in Kyiv and lawmakers on Capitol Hill wanted to know what on earth was going on. While Trump’s national security team thought withholding the money went against U.S. national security interests, Trump still wouldn’t budge.

Thanks to the testimony of several Trump administration officials, we now know what Trump was waiting on: a commitment from Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

 

Kate Brennan
Just Security: Exclusive Unredacted Ukraine Documents Reveal Extent of Pentagon's Legal Concerns


Holding onto the Articles of Impeachment may have been suggested by Professor Lawrence Tribe, but it is by far a masterclass in government dexterity by Speaker Pelosi, who did predict Orange Satan would self-impeach, which he does with every twitchy tweet from the loo.

However, at the voluminous avalanche of lies, he's starting to affect the notions of truth and reality:

Democracy requires that we honor the culture of words. The very idea of democracy is based on the hope that fellow citizens can reason together and find a system for adjudicating differences and solving problems—all of which assumes there is a shared commitment to the integrity of our public words. If you believe words can ennoble, you must also believe they can debase. If they can elevate the human spirit, they can also pull it down. And when words are weaponized by our political leaders and used to paint all opponents as inherently evil, stupid, or weak, then democracy’s foundations are put in peril. Which brings us to the dismal, demoralizing Donald Trump era.

The debasement of words has reached a zenith with the coming of America’s 45th president, who dominates discourse in this country in ways perhaps no other president ever has. And if we hope to repair the damage that’s been done, we need to understand what it is about Trump’s misuse of words that is pernicious and dangerous.

The least problematic part is the sheer banality of Donald Trump’s words. During his presidency, Trump has uttered no beautiful and memorable phrases. His inaugural address, which is a speech normally meant to inspire the citizenry, is remembered, if at all, for the phrase American carnage and Trump’s description of a dystopian nation, broken and shattered. More worrisome is that many of Trump’s utterances are an incoherent word salad. If you read the transcript of many of his interviews and extemporaneous speeches, you often find that Trump is not only unable to lay out a coherent argument; at times he’s unable to string together sentences that parse.

The banality and weaponization of Trump’s words are bad enough, but the greatest cause for concern is his nonstop, dawn-to-midnight assault on facts, truth, reality. That places Trump in a sinister category all his own.

Many politicians are guilty of not telling the full truth of events. A significant number shade the truth from time to time. A few fall into the category of consistent, outright liars. But only very few—and only the most dangerous—are committed to destroying the very idea of truth itself. That is what we have in Donald Trump, along with many of his aides and courtiers. We saw it at the dawn of the Trump presidency, when he insisted—and sent out his press secretary to insist—that the crowd size at his inauguration was larger than that of Barack Obama’s, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. And that behavior has continued virtually every day since.

 

Trump’s Sinister Assault on Truth: The president appears committed to destroying the very idea of facts.
Peter Wehner, The Atlantic

*****


Democracy depends on a shared set of facts that can be debated in discussed either in a court, on a congressional floor or near a coffee machine at work. It's affable and seeks a happy medium: no one gets everything they desire, but it does require compromise.

Fascism is nothing at all like that. Like George Orwell's famous novel, "1984," fascism requires and demands power for its own sake. It wants what it wants for the sake of wanting. History has no meaning to it at all. Logic and reason have no appeal or sway in people who traffic in "alternative facts" or its Karl Rove precursor: "created realities." Sunshine Fascism...April 12, 2019

 

*****


At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more. He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months - including the attack on December 27th - culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.

 

Top Iranian general killed in US airstrike in Baghdad, Pentagon confirms
Amanda Macias, Joanna Tan, CNBC


At the direction of a president that has lied over 15,000 times since bizarre inauguration, replete with rain ignored and carnage commentary. At the direction of a president that has used racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia like a hobbyist would use a socket set. "Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region" means those plans likely didn't die: they have been inherited by a motivated deputy now promoted. There will be reprisals and escalations in the Near East that will be...biblical. Secretary Clinton's AMER-EXIT to Belfast is telling and foreboding.

We're at the direction of a president who many psychological professionals view as a malignant narcissist and devotee of solipsism. No reality is real external to his own disturbed mind. No history has existed save the history he makes in 140 characters. No truth is real except the banal "truthiness" of the moment. His cult minions follow such disturbed mental gymnastics blindly without critique. There is no overarching policy or plan for anything, nor will there ever be, like 140 misspelled characters and retweeted conspiracy theories. It's to change the narrative from impeachment, real-world consequences be damned.

There is a cult industry pre and post the Internet speculating the identity of "the man of sin"; "the son of lawlessness."

- Prophesy enthusiasts postulated Napoleon and Hitler cum Nostradamus, with one consonant rearrangement: Hister, because as with all conspiracy theories, humans look for patterns and invent them whether they're real or not. Saddam Hussein was thrown in for good measure.

- Ronald Wilson Reagan was the evil one because each letter of his names numbered "6."

- Mikhail Gorbachev was him due to his birthmark on his forehead.

- George W. Bush had a website and a book, likely from his membership in Skull and Bones.

- Barack Hussein Obama had that, misappropriated scripture and myriad conspiracy theories from his inauguration forward.

My pet name for the 45th president is mostly tongue-in-cheek. However, his following is cheering for Armageddon, and the actions last night have brought us closer to that. There will be a response here, or abroad. The earth does not need humans that draw up treaties and break them with Iranians or Native Americans.

The enamor for "end times" has no definition other than "the world coming to an end." The Earth is 40,075.017 km in circumference, 510,072,000 km2 surface area, 1.08321 × 1012 km3 volume, 5.97237 × 1024 kg mass; 5.514 g/cm3. Evolutionary biologists put oxygen-generating photosynthesis some 2.4 billion years ago, evidenced by rust. Humans evolved in Africa 200,000 years ago, migrated away where ultraviolet light wasn't so direct and thus lightened, then defined that natural process as evidence of "superiority." Australia is on fire in their driest summer in the southern hemisphere, fueled by climate change and apathy from science and climate deniers. T.S. Elliot summarized our exit in "The Hollow Men": "This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, This is the way the world ends, Not with a bag, but a whimper." The whimper might be fires, floods and weather we cannot contain, let alone control.

Prior to our entrance on this terrestrial soil, the earth traveled in space around the sun 365.25 days per year more or less without witnesses, scribe, historian, artist or scientist to count 4.5 billion years. The earth does not need us: we need it.

The 2019 Doomsday Clock by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists claimed two minutes to midnight.

The 2020 Doomsday Clock in this third decade of the 21st century will at least be informative once published.
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Men of Lawlessness...

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Facebook image I was informed was "meme logic," which until that instance, I didn't know was a thing.


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


[From Newsweek] "I solemnly swear [or affirm, as the case may be] that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of [the person being impeached], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God."

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

The Constitution of the United States, Amendment XVII

The fix was in on the ratification of the 17th amendment in 1913.

Senators before then were appointed by their state legislatures in the event they might be jurors in a trial of impeachment. This was to ensure they wouldn't make decisions "based on politics" and would be unbiased, considering only the facts as presented by trial lawyers in charges towards the accused.

In recent days, McConnell indicated that he has held discussions with the White House to formulate an impeachment game plan to achieve a favorable outcome for Trump. "Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel," the senator told Fox News host Sean Hannity late last week. "There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this." The Republican also revealed that he will be working in "total coordination with the White House counsel's office and the people representing the president in the well of the Senate." Ibid

The purging of voters in Georgia and Wisconsin...the incessant search for nonexistent **voter fraud*** (mimicked by his mop head doppelganger in the UK), while slow-walking the protection of our elections from foreign interference...rejecting out-of-hand any witnesses that this present darkness of White House has blocked from ANY public testimony...openly stating you're WORKING with the plaintiff (Al Capone could have benefited from such hubris and rigged jury), holding up the "advise and consent" of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court AS IF Moscow Mitch knew he might get an opportunity to appoint two replacements with the NEXT president*...and if he didn't, he'd just stonewall any duties that didn't expand the borders of raw, naked fascist political power. To continue calling them republicans is an insult to actual republicans.

We are distracted by "smart phones" and dumb down apps on them. We're more versed in soundbites and slogans than civics or history. This ignorance is by design, despite a warning by the sage Frank Zappa. Indeed, how WOULD you know if someone's shredding The Constitution through a meat grinder if you DIDN'T know what was in it?

At the dawn of humanity, bartering was used in lieu of money to buy goods. As early man began to rear domestic livestock, one of the earliest forms of barter included cattle, sheep, as well as vegetables and grain.

The first known currency was created by King Alyattes in Lydia, now part of Turkey, in 600BC. The first coin ever minted features a roaring lion.

Coins then evolved into bank notes around 1661 AD. The first credit card was introduced in 1946.

The history of money: from barter to bitcoin, Rebecca Burn-Callander, The Telegraph

HOW would you know you're pockets are being picked by some rich fat cats that are amused they can make us scurry after each other like rats in a maze after the same block of cheese when all we're up in arms about artificial barriers: borders, Melanin, class; money. Concentrating on smaller things that make us "feel good" in the moment doesn't hold power or the powerful accountable for the mess they've made for profit. See Sacha Baron Cohen calling out the "silicon six."

Shiny objects like gold and silver replaced bartering; printed money replaced coins, bank and credit cards making wallets thinner each year. We're well past bartering and into cryptocurrency and legal tax evasion. A few clever assholes found a way to squirrel away more digital shiny objects in offshore accounts, not paying a dime in taxes to their host countries and bribing every elected official that will parrot repetitively a party line that's easy for rubes in red hats to follow. Face it: racism and fear is all they've shoveled out; NOTHING has ever bothered to "trickle down" since Reagan, or paid a single bill, healthcare costs or college. It's time to give up believing the shtick. They sure don't, but they'll use it as long as it works. It will work until it doesn't work, or like Rome we become a mausoleum and interstellar tourist trap for failed planetary systems. A byword. A joke.

Who asked Franklin the question that sparked his witty response? It was Elizabeth Willing Powel, a pivotal woman of the founding era who has been erased from this story. Her erasure not only creates a founding-era political history artificially devoid of women, but it also makes it harder to imagine contemporary women such as Pelosi — or Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — as political leaders.

The first record of the anecdote appears in a 1787 journal kept by one of the delegates to the convention, James McHenry of Maryland. He wrote: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.”

Yes. He is impeached. After the dismal speechifying by his GOP interlocutors and miserable defense of the indefensible. Whether he is removed is up to a dysfunctional senate that has publicly admitted bias and willingness to release a criminal, a move who's only parallel is the outgoing, asshole former Governor Matt Bevin, pardoning a pedophile as his last dick move on the way out, corroborating he never should have been elected in the first place. Speaker Nancy Pelosi delaying sending it to the senate was suggested by Harvard professor and constitutional scholar Lawrence Tribe. It was a master stroke. It was also poignant that her opening remarks identified the Russian agent as an existential threat to our republic. Our own republic is threatened from within by republicans that have no semblance of respecting the rule "of the people and by the people," but by our own nauseous version of Russian oligarchs, empowered by the Orwellian "Citizens United." When you have to purge half a million votes to "win" elections, you likely don't have any platform that's amendable to most citizens.

But in the end, will we have a republic, or a crumbling facade on a dung hill? To not speculate on worse-case scenarios is both hubris and naivete. Entropy is the second law of thermodynamics: over time, the system will either increase change - from order to chaos - or remain the same. The second law can be aptly applied to political systems.
 

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 ESV

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Internet Carnot...

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Credit: ALFRED T. PALMER/VICTOR TANGERMANN

 

Topics: Climate Change, Existentialism, Internet, Thermodynamics


The Carnot cycle is the only thermodynamic cycle that is reversible, because compression and expansion of the gas are isentropic (no heat flow), while heating and cooling are isothermal (T does not change, only P and V), meaning that no energy is lost into increasing the system's entropy. Quora

The world is modeled using "ideal" circumstances: the Ideal Gas Law also comes to mind. You obviously start with this, initially.

Then, you have to model based on the reality, the biology, chemistry and physics of the actual case at hand.

Basing a civilization on a non-renewable resource of dead dinosaurs is a recipe to become museum artifacts ourselves.

As far as environmental damage is concerned, our increasingly-online lives incur a massive toll.

If everything continues on its current course, then the internet is expected to generate about 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions by 2030, according to The New Republic. That would make its environmental impact worse than any individual country on Earth, except for the U.S., China, or India.

In other words, our internet use is linked to a vicious cycle of environmental devastation, making it increasingly clear that something has to give.

 

In the Face of Climate Change, the Internet is Unsustainable, Dan Robitzski, Futurism

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Wheels Off...

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Google's First Fully Autonomous Car Gives Up; Drives Self Off Cliff - Joe Bagel
The scene is from Thelma and Louise

 

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


I will be taking a break until the holidays. I have a lot of deadlines to meet.

Conservatism as popularized by their patron saint, Ronald Reagan and a budding media propaganda wing that covered all the bases - AM talk radio, Tom Clancy novels, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger was hyper masculine, Uber patriotic and most decidedly: anti-Russian. The spike in testosterone was a reaction to the Vietnam War, the one we "lost." It was a modern "lost cause" that stuck in the craw of those that wanted Ho Chi Min to surrender like the Germans and the Japanese Emperor. Our mythology told us we were "the good guys" and the film credits always had happy endings with the hero getting the girl.

Something happened from the launching porch for "The Gipper" in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the wink-and-nod to white southern racists - left over Dixiecrats cum "Reagan democrats," soon-to-be Tea Party/Orwellian "Freedom Caucus," African Americans loyal to the previous "party of Lincoln" and genteel 1%, all wooed by Lee Atwater plausible denial coded language, faced with the reality of changing demographics, not in their Melanin-lacking favor. It was something the "Southern Strategy" didn't anticipate.

For this democracy to work, each of us has to agree on the same set of facts. We may not believe in what approach to take to solve them, but believing in the facts would merely change the approach to their resolution.
TruthFiction
Climate change is realClimate change is a hoax
Russia interfered in the 2016 electionsUkraine interfered in the 2016 elections
The current president is a crookThe current president is fighting the "deep state"

A functional Republican Party might use cap and trade to fight Climate Change. They would use diplomacy to modify the Paris Climate Accords to stay within the confines of its goals. Heck, they might make a buck or two.

A functional Republican Party would take the Autopsy authored by the RNC and reach out to diversify a party dwindling in number of Lincoln African Americans, conservative Hispanic/Latino citizens, Asians and Log Cabin Republicans.

After ANY of these impeachment inquiry hearings; after Mr. C.Y.A. Gordon Sondland uttered the magic Latin phrase: quid pro quo and Dr. Fiona Hill pimp slapped the republicans on the House Intelligence Committee (it hurt to type that), a functional Republican Party would look beyond their fundraising and think of The Constitution they swore to protect and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

But we don't have that. We've never had that.

Racism itself is a conspiracy theory. It requires a leap of faith that your lack of exposure to equatorial ultraviolet rays over 1-200,000 years bequeaths you red ruby slipper, pixie dust and fairies that bless every step you take on the Yellow Brick Road in Oz.

"If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." (then) Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson

 

*****


If the Republicans cared about the facts or the gravity of the crime being investigated, the answer would be apocalyptically damaging. But they don’t care, and they will continue to defend Trump even if those testifying under oath include an eyewitness to a criminal conspiracy hatched in the White House like Sondland, or patriots like Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman, and Marie Yovanovitch, who not only provided irrefutable evidence of the crime but detailed the existential threat that crime poses to America.

Had Trump pulled out that (so far) proverbial gun and shot someone on Fifth Avenue, Republicans would trot out the exact same defense they have this week: The shot was fired at 2 a.m. and there were no eyewitnesses. Those nearby who claimed to have heard the shot had actually heard a car backfiring. The closed-circuit video capturing the incident is, as the president says, a hoax concocted by the same Fake News outlets that manufactured the Access Hollywood video. The confession released by the White House was “perfect” evidence of Trump’s innocence. Election records show that the cops who arrived on the scene were registered Democrats and therefore part of a deep-state conspiracy to frame the president for a crime he didn’t commit but that the Democrats did. The victim was not killed and will make a complete recovery, so no crime was committed anyway. And even if Trump had killed the young woman he gunned down, the argument advanced by Trump’s lawyer last month would apply: “The person who serves as president, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.” Next case!

 

Republicans Are Excusing a Criminal Conspiracy, Frank Rich, NY Magazine


Devin Nunes is about as dense as the cow he's frivolously suing. Ohio congressman Jim Jordan acts like a wrestling coach (that has new charges of not protecting student athletes from a predatory pedophile team doctor), and apparently, doesn't make enough to purchase a suit jacket!

Impeachment is likely in the House of Representatives. The senate is signalling along with republicans writ large that the "rule of law" doesn't apply for this Orange Satan, as the unitary executive - the Baal altar of William Barr - apparently only applies to presidents on his team. Russia, Iran; Israel can select our next president with impunity. Citizens will tune out and binge watch streaming media, oblivious to their responsibilities as citizens, masking their pain.

The Washington Post has the tag line "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

In darkness, Putin wins.

Apathy from exhaustion...is darkness.
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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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