existentialism (85)

The Monster They Made...

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

It's the kind of floor speech that sets up a presidential run in 2024 when no one in her party has any illusions: the blogger in Florida will be in too much legal and financial trouble to actually run for his old "executive time" job, plus, he'll be two years shy of eighty. It's what Rafael Edward Cruz trolled the insurrectionists about. It's what inspired Toy-Story-Woody Josh Howley's raised fist broadcast around the world. Both salivate to ride this dragon. A Cheney has put herself in the way of their ambitions.

She sounds principled. Noble. Statesmanlike. It's also superfluous bullshit. Don't get me wrong: she's right. Anyone sane seeing the January 6, 2021 insurrection can't call it anything but that, unless that's ultimately their goal. But the environment she finds herself in stems from her and her father's previous actions. They sowed the seeds that germinated the Tea Party, that metastasized into the Orwellian "Freedom Caucus," Alt-Right, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, QAnon, that through Fox Propaganda and its many clones in right-wing talk shtick culminating in a modern attempt to overthrow our federal republic.

On September 16, 2001, Vice President Cheney appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and talked about what it will take to deal with the terrorism threat: "…We have to work the dark side if you will. Spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world," Cheney said. "A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion …."

 

PBS Frontline: The Dark Side

 

David Corn rightly points out that Liz Cheney, and her dad, Dark Lord of the Sith, paved the way to the big lie. It's why congressmen compare the January 6, 2021 insurrection to rowdy tourists (typically, tourists who smear feces and urinate in halls are jettisoned from the park). She, her dad, and many obfuscating republicans that lied us into the "weapons of mass destruction" that weren't in Iraq brought us to this point.

 

The right had a hissy fit when Janet Napolitano warned about right-wing violence in 2009. So did Daryl Johnson, an intelligence analyst at DHS. The "chickens came home to roost" on January 6, 2021, and the current Attorney General Merrick Garland and DHS Secretary Mayorkas are warning the same thing in 2021, specifically by name: white supremacy.

 

Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debates are being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. So you can be sure that each candidate will deliver an effusive homage to Reagan and then explain why he or she is Reagan’s one true heir.

 

(The first GOP presidential debates were in Cleveland, and even there, Reagan was invoked by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Lindsey Graham.)

 

But no matter how much the candidates talk about Reagan, you can be sure that none of these extremely important things about him will come up. And maybe that’s appropriate — since if Reagan stood for anything as president, it was creating a completely fictionalized version of the past.

 

1. Reagan launched his 1980 general election campaign with a speech lauding “states’ rights” outside Philadelphia, Mississippi — the site of the notorious “Mississippi Burning” murder of three civil rights workers in 1964.

 

James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were abducted and killed in Mississippi by the local Ku Klux Klan in June 1964 — a case that garnered enormous national attention because, as Schwerner’s widow said, he and Goodman were white.

 

On August 3, 1980, Reagan traveled to the Neshoba County Fair, which a prominent state Republican had recommended as the place to find “George Wallace-inclined voters.” There — within walking distance of the earthen dam where the murderers of the three civil rights workers had surreptitiously buried them just 16 years before — Reagan delivered a speech including these lines:

 

I know that in speaking to this crowd, that I’m speaking to what has to be about 90 percent Democrat. I just meant by party affiliation. I didn’t mean how you feel now. I was a Democrat most of my life myself. …

I believe in states’ rights. … And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the Constitution to that federal establishment. …

SEVEN THINGS ABOUT RONALD REAGAN YOU WON’T HEAR AT THE REAGAN LIBRARY GOP DEBATE, Jon Schwartz, The Intercept

 

As columnist William Raspberry wrote upon Reagan’s death, his endorsement of “states’ rights” — the same phrase white Southerners had used for decades to justify Jim Crow segregation — was “bitter symbolism for black Americans” and “an important bouquet in [GOP] courtship” of Dixiecrats.

 

*****

 

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is an 1818 novel written by English author Mary Shelley. Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818, when she was 20. Her name first appeared in the second edition, which was published in Paris in 1821. Wikipedia

 

Shelley's most pressing and obvious message is that science and technology can go too far. The ending is plain and simple; every person that Victor Frankenstein had cared about met a tragic end, including himself. This shows that we as beings in society should believe in the sanctity of human life. Minori Cohan, Shelley’s warnings in Frankenstein

 

[Ironic] that a Russian criminal hacker group calls itself Dark Side Leaks that pretty much shut down the eastern seaboard from New York to Alabama. Sadly, the people who hoarded toilet paper during the pandemic emerged to meme ridicule, making the Ransomware attack worse than it needed to be.

 

The Republican Party that Liz Cheney wants to lead doesn't exist if it ever did. She voted more for the previous resident's agenda than against it, according to 538. She voted no on HR1: The For the People Act with the typical republican-speak against expanding the franchise to voters that probably wouldn't think twice about not voting for her or her party. Elise Stefanik was far less a sycophant, but fealty to a demagogue gets you a promotion from a dear leader out of power, for whatever that's worth.

 

For the moment, she and a lot of sane-sounding republicans that oppose open fascism are still on the "dark side." They don't want to expand the voting franchise; they are appalled at the thought of turning off the spigot of dark money, aren't the least bit interested in raising the minimum wage to a living wage, could care less to have universal healthcare like most European nations. There is no interest in Liz's party for the LGBTQ, which includes her sister and her partner because they, without intervention, can't have more white babies that might grow up to vote republican (if they don't, they'll just block them like black and brown communities). There is no racism in their suburban cul de sacs. For god's sake, a woman can't have agency on when she gets pregnant, or if she wants to become a mother, because the only function of Liz Cheney's gender in her party, according to the late, great George Carlin is broodmare of the state.

 

Prometheus in Greek mythology is a Titan. His name means "fore thinker." In lore, he's credited with creating mortals and against the will of the gods, giving us fire. The punishment for this affront by Zeus was the creation of Pandora. Meeting Epimetheus (hindsight), he fell in love with her, despite Prometheus' warnings. She is famous for the box unleashing evils, hard work, and disease on the face of the earth. Source: Britannica

 

For these fifteen minutes of fame, Liz Cheney sounds rational, majestic: presidential. Her vast connections to traditional republican powerbrokers will make the lives of Dumbo Gambino and the jellyfish-chin-in-a-suit-who-wants-to-be-Speaker a living hell. Her father, Lord Vader, is deathly silent, and that's scary (for them, and likely us).

 

To ascend and become our first female Chief Executive, she would have to admit her role in the monster she and her father helped create. That would take something heretofore unseen in republican politicians, traditional, or QAnon: hindsight.

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Biological Fukushima...

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Residents of the Pairaisopolis favela in Sao Paolo wait for meal distribution in the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. Credit: Alexandre Schneider Getty Images

 

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Existentialism, Pandemic

 

Note: Many stories are coming out of Seychelles. It is the most vaccinated nation on earth that is seeing rising cases of the Coronavirus due to tourism by Indian elites. We're not going to solve this piecemeal, nor treating each other in our backward, moribund tribal "traditions." This fight is a long haul, and hubris can make it longer, and more painful.

 

To be in Brazil right now feels like being trapped in the middle of a chaotic battlefield, a 14-month-long siege, without anyone in charge on your side of the trenches. Totally surrounded by a lethal enemy that keeps getting closer to you and your family. This biological foe keeps morphing in a way that seems well adapted to infect everyone within reach, showing mercy neither for pregnant women nor for their newborn babies.

 

After 12 months of such brutal biological warfare, more than 390,000 Brazilians have perished; the number of fatalities climbed to more than 4,000 fatalities a day in early April, and the number of new cases per day edged above 100,000, filling hospitals to capacity with tens of thousands of terminally ill patients who occupy all available ICU beds in a country that has one of the largest national public health systems in the world and more hospitals than the U.S. Such a steady tsunami of severely sick patients has led to an unprecedented collapse of the entire country’s health system and the setting of yet another pair of world records in terms of both infected and deceased health professionals. On top of that, the country’s stock of medical equipment and the supplies required to intubate patients in need of respirators to survive are running at a historic low and may run out completely because the federal government simply failed in the process of replenishing the national stockpile several months ago.

 

This, in a nutshell, is the catastrophic and unprecedented hecatomb that Brazil found itself locked in by mid-April 2021. A devastating second wave of the pandemic began to engulf all five regions of the country back in early November 2020. It resulted, in part, from the premature and chaotic relaxation of social isolation measures that had helped at least some regions of the country contain the worst of the initial phase of the pandemic. It worsened because of the large public political rallies that preceded the two rounds of the 2020 national elections, generating a multitude of super spreader events all over the country. And the situation was exacerbated by Christmas and Carnival, the largest national festivity.

 

Brazil’s Pandemic Is a ‘Biological Fukushima’ That Threatens the Entire Planet, By Miguel Nicolelis, Scientific American

 

 

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Munchausen Oligarchy....

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Image source: Facebook meme

 

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

 

Munchausen Syndrome was named after a German cavalry officer Baron von Munchausen (1720-1797), a man who traveled widely and was known for his dramatic but untruthful stories. In 1951 Richard Asher described a pattern of self-abuse, where individuals fabricated histories of illness. These fabrications most often led to complex medical investigations, hospitalizations, and needless surgery. Remembering Baron von Munchausen and his mythical tales, Asher named this condition Munchausen Syndrome.

 

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, often referred to as MSbP, is a term coined by pediatrician Professor Roy Meadow in 1977. The term refers to the circumstance where the child is the subject of the fabrication of an illness by the parent. It was thought that the parent 'with MSbP' was motivated by trying to gain attention from medical professionals by inducing or fabricating the sickness in their child. In Meadow's first article, he explored two case studies of children admitted to hospital with illnesses thought to be fabricated or induced by their carers: 'These two [parents] flourished there [in the hospital] as if they belonged, and thrived on the attention that staff gave to them.... In these cases, it was as if the parents were using the children to get themselves into the sheltered environment of a children's ward surrounded by friendly staff' (Meadow 1977: 344-345).

 

A new name for Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy: Defining fabricated or induced illness by carers, Ellen Fish, Leah Bromfield, and Daryl Higgins

 

The "Republican Party" is a name. It has no "principles" it lives by. It exists, to paraphrase Steve Schmidt, for the accumulation, acquisition, and maintenance of power for power's sake.

 

Where the "Republican Party" is was eventually going to metastasize. Entropy, the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to political systems, and philosophies.

 

Cutting the corporate tax rate from 70% to 28% sounds great: if you're in the industry, or on the receiving end of corporate largess from lobbyists. To say that Social Security is insolvent doesn't begin to address the real problem: a theft in plain sight occurred, and reparations - not just slavery in the 1860s, but 1980s reparations - have yet to be paid.

 

“For-profit health insurance is the largest con job ever perpetrated on the American people–one that has cost trillions of dollars and millions of lives since the 1940s,” says Thom Hartmann. Taiwan’s single-payer system enabled the country to implement a nationwide coronavirus test-and-contact-trace program without shutting down its economy, resulting in just seven deaths, while in the United States more than 350,000 have died.

 

Hartmann offers a deep dive into the shameful history of American healthcare, showing how greed, racism, and oligarchic corruption led to the current “sickness for profit” system. Modern attempts to create some kind of government healthcare have been hobbled at every turn–including Obamacare, which Hartmann regards as basically a sellout to the health insurance industry.

 

There is a simple solution: Medicare for all. Thom Hartmann, The Hidden History of Healthcare, Penguin Books

 

A large part of why we don't have universal healthcare in the United States is that "those people" (black, brown, LGBT, women who delay or forego marriage) would get it. Like the filibuster, it's a relic of slavery. It's remarkable in its longevity.

 

Everything about the "Republican Party" can largely be explained by sadomasochism, and Munchausen by proxy to feed oligarchy, their true, and only constituency. They claim the mantle of fiscal conservatism and spend like drunken sailors. They harm the body politic, then promptly blame it for the dysfunction they've caused. Politicians at their basic level are caregivers to the republic. It's why we constantly recover from the lunacy of previous republican administrations during democratic administrations, then go right back to the lunacy after the change in administrations AS IF they're capable of doing anything different than their previous debacles. They revel in a dysfunctional government, they cheer for dystopia and Armageddon. "Government is not the solution to our problem: government IS the problem" became a Reagan mantra, lazy politics, and intellectual bankruptcy. Why not goose the racist inclinations of your constituents, instead of leading them to help you solve problems, and actually earn your pay? For the crumbs from a chipped table between the Rich Man and Lazarus, they are willing to put hundreds of thousands of people to death, to gaslight about taking a vaccine to ameliorate a pandemic, to sacrifice Fox Propaganda viewers on the altar of Moloch so the economy can fail, and they can return to power, not because they have any novel ideas: It just makes them feel better.

 

They've been running this con for forty years. I have witnessed it and knew it would reach a saturation point: that it could not be sustained, as no lie, big or small can. They are desperately trying to patch the dam with fingers, hire QAnon "cyber ninjas" to audit Arizona ballots (already audited three times), to dwell in the "created realities" realm of Karl Rove. You can call it "religious freedom," the "silent majority," but it legitimizes their personal bigotry against whole groups for things they have no control over, nor they would change about themselves if they could. They can't gain their votes, so, they block their votes.

 

The Whig Party: The Whig Party was a political party formed in 1834 by opponents of President Andrew Jackson and his Jacksonian Democrats. Led by Henry Clay, the name “Whigs” was derived from the English antimonarchist party and was an attempt to portray Jackson as "King Andrew." The Whigs were one of the two major political parties in the United States from the late 1830s through the early 1850s. While Jacksonian Democrats painted Whigs as the party of the aristocracy, they managed to win support from diverse economic groups and elect two presidents: William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. The other two Whig presidents, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore gained office as Vice Presidents next in the line of succession. History.com

 

The Know-Nothing Party: Know-Nothing party, by name of American Party, U.S. political party that flourished in the 1850s. It was an outgrowth of the strong anti-immigrant and especially anti-Roman Catholic sentiment that started to manifest itself during the 1840s. A rising tide of immigrants, primarily Germans in the Midwest and Irish in the East, seemed to pose a threat to the economic and political security of native-born Protestant Americans. In 1849 the secret Order of the Star-Spangled Banner formed in New York City, and soon after lodges formed in nearly every other major American city. Britannica.com

 

Neither of these parties exists in the United States.

 

Implosions are ugly, but like Entropy and blowing out gaslights, they are inexorable.

 

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Image Source: Good Reads

 

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

 

Tucker Carlson appears to be made of Teflon. Fox News's top-rated host has been repeatedly accused of anti-immigrant and racist comments, which have cost his political opinion show many of its major advertisers. Yet Carlson endures in his prime-time slot.

 

Carlson even attacked his own network's chief news anchor on the air, with no real consequences. That anchor, Shepard Smith, quit mid-contract shortly after Carlson went after him.

 

Now comes the claim that you can't expect to literally believe the words that come out of Carlson's mouth. And that assertion is not coming from Carlson's critics. It's being made by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York and by Fox News's own lawyers in defending Carlson against accusations of slander. It worked, by the way.

 

You Literally Can't Believe The Facts Tucker Carlson Tells You. So Say Fox's Lawyers, David Folkenflik, NPR

 

Attorney Sidney Powell is defending herself from a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit using the same tactic successfully deployed by Tucker Carlson's Fox News show last year.

 

Dominion Voting Systems is suing Powell for a series of statements claiming that the company was involved in a wide-ranging conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election for President Joe Biden.

 

Powell's attorneys have said in a court filing that no reasonable person would have believed her allegations as fact and therefore she can't have defamed Dominion. This approach was successfully argued by lawyers representing Fox News in a 2020 defamation case.

 

"[I]n light of all the circumstances surrounding the statements, their context, and the availability of the facts on which the statements were based, it was clear to reasonable persons that Powell's claims were her opinions and legal theories on a matter of utmost public concern," Powell's lawyers wrote.

 

"Those members of the public who were interested in the controversy were free to, and did, review that evidence and reached their own conclusions—or the awaited resolution of the matter by the courts before making up their minds."

 

Sidney Powell Uses Same Defamation Defense as Tucker Carlson's Fox News Show, Darragh Roche, Newsweek

 

“Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It's just the best we have. In this respect, as in many others, it's like democracy. Science by itself cannot advocate courses of human action, but it can certainly illuminate the possible consequences of alternative courses of action.”

 

“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness."

 

Both quotes by Carl Sagan in, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark."

 

Fox knows the pandemic is real, as does Tucker Carlson. Like most other functional news outlets, he's probably getting a PCR test: polymerase chain reaction as well as temperature tests each time he comes to the building and set. Likely, his audience knows it's real as well. They might know one, or two people who have had it or perished from it.

 

But the lie is more intoxicating than truth.

 

Barack Obama is a talented, superficially charming politician that can retail politic and kiss babies credibly with anyone. As a graduate of Columbia and Harvard, a constitutional scholar, he was never this rabid liberal-secret Muslim-closeted-socialist Fox Propaganda and right-wing talk radio made him out to be. He said a speech in 2004 that put him on the political map. The economy was in a tailspin in 2008 due to the moribund philosophy of "trickle-down economics," which is more like a vacuum sucking up money from the lower classes to the 0.01%. The 46th president chimed the death knell to the moribundity.

 

The mother of lies was the "mama grizzly" from Alaska, saying the rabid liberal-secret Muslim-closeted socialist "palled around with terrorists." A public display of affection with his wife became a "terrorist fist bump." This was reductio ad absurdum on steroids.

 

After losing with her running mate, she glommed onto the "death panels" myth by former NY lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey's objections to Section 1233 of HR 3200: the Affordable Care Act. The recently-departed Rush Limbaugh, along with Laura Ingram, and Sean Hannity parroted the claims because that's what a propaganda echo chamber does. Add to this Orwellian programming trio, the irascible Newton Gingrich, who turned conciliatory political protocol into blood sport. They have killed more grandparents this pandemic than the aspect of affordable healthcare to all Americans from a black president.

 

The lie metastasized with birtherism: the notion that Barack Hussein Obama (emphasis always on the middle name) wasn't born in America. Newsflash: he was, despite the desperate attempts to decertify Hawaii as the reluctant 50th state. However, neither John McCain (Panama Canal) nor Raphael Edward Cruz, Jr. (Canada) was born on American soil. They are both American citizens because at least one parent - in McCain's case both parents, were American citizens, so the argument that Stanley Ann Dunham could not confer the same status to her son had he been born in another country is feckless, racist, and moot. He was the living, breathing symbol of the change coming to the US.

 

The Tea Party reflected back to the beginnings of this republic with the Boston Tea Party: "taxation without representation" the battle cry and apparent raison d'etre for the existence of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. All of them have one thing in common: a preponderance of Melanin, and fewer senators than Wyoming.

 

T.E.A.: taxed enough already, the modern battle cry for people not willing yet to admit their angst with the Affordable Care Act had little to do with socialism, or death panels, hence the pejorative "Obamacare," because hanging him in effigy, and witch doctor placards were the last remnants of "wink and nod" genteel, subtle racial politics. The Tea Party "Freedom" Caucus (Orwellian as it sounds) swept into power in the 2010 midterms, despite Obama's pleading with his following to vote in the same numbers as the 2008 presidential election. As history demanded, the opposition party took the House in 2010, helped by GOP Chair Michael Steele, jettisoned immediately after his token role was fulfilled. Moscow Mitch started his reign of terror with the 2014 midterms. Post Mr. Steele's quixotic effort to engage more African Americans in the party, they went for the nasal-pronouncing Reince Priebus, soon-to-be in a distinguished succession of former White House Chiefs of Staff. Mr. Steele has since redeemed himself with The Lincoln Project.

 

An unlikely union occurred between a carnival barker, and a master spy, the latter master to the former: Dumbo Gambino pimped by Dr. Evil; the Ku Klutz Klan owned by the KGB. Neither of them planned for him to win against his more qualified, consequential opponent, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, so they had no plan for success, even for nefarious goals. It is why the last four years of Keystone Cop politics, chaotic, semi-form hand gestures; mumbled diction, misspelled tweets, hamberders, covfefe, and Page Six sensationalism ended in the current pandemic Zoom kerfuffle we're all in.

 

"Palling around with terrorists"; "terrorist fist bump"; "death panels"; "birtherism"; the T.E.A. Party; "Freedom" Caucus: no challenges, not a single reset, no "this is not our party." There were speed bumps that led to the biggest lie, even bigger than the Big Lie of stolen elections, and a January 6, 2021 insurrection: an alternative reality known as QAnon, that despite evidence to the contrary, the lie has its audience in sway because the truth requires responsibility.

 

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

 

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

 

Even with the current revelations that QAnon is a guy and his dad in the Philippines, the 2020 platform that wasn't, the lie has primacy over facts, which is imperative if you want to run something based on facts, like science in the lab, or a democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Whipsawed, Gobsmacked...

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Image source: Duke University Office of Institutional Equity

 

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

 

JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": It was kind of whiplash, you know, because there was a great deal of relief and joy, jubilation really, at the guilty verdict that came down in the Derek Chauvin trial. And then just that quickly, people were kind of whipsawed back into this grieving mode. The Eleventh Hour, Brian Williams, transcript

 

*****

 

 

In 1961, author James Baldwin was asked by a radio host about being Black in America. He said:

 

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time — and in one's work. And part of the rage is this: It isn't only what is happening to you. But it's what's happening all around you and all of the time in the face of the most extraordinary and criminal indifference, indifference of most white people in this country, and their ignorance. Now, since this is so, it's a great temptation to simplify the issues under the illusion that if you simplify them enough, people will recognize them. I think this illusion is very dangerous because, in fact, it isn't the way it works. A complex thing can't be made simple. You simply have to try to deal with it in all its complexity and hope to get that complexity across.

 

"To Be In A Rage, Almost All The Time" - NPR, June 1, 2020, at the nascent beginnings of the George Floyd protests.

 

 

I wept at the verdict Tuesday. Seeing George Floyd's murderer led out in handcuffs was cathartic, saddening, and angering. This was not justice: it was accountability.

 

Justice would be George Floyd alive. Justice would be George tucking Gianna in at night. Justice would be Gianna riding his giant shoulders again. Justice would be George walking Gianna down the aisle. Justice would be George being called "Paw-Paw" by his grandchildren from Gianna if she were to choose to be a mother. Before "liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Thomas Jefferson penned the requisite of "life."

 

This pandemic has revealed our "American exceptionalism" is a farce - a joke. This "exceptionalism" had the United States with the highest death and infection rates in the world. This "exceptionalism" has a caste system, parallel to the Indian Varnas, and more brutal than the German Nazis, that is cutting off our noses to spite our own faces.

 

In the book "Castes: The Origins of Our Discontents," by Isabel Wilkerson, she says in an NPR interview: "caste is the granting or withholding of respect, status, honor, attention, privileges, resources, the benefit of the doubt, and human kindness to someone on the basis of their perceived rank or standing in the hierarchy." Racism and casteism do overlap, she writes, noting that "what some people call racism could be seen as merely one manifestation of the degree to which we have internalized the larger American caste system." -NPR

 

Also in her book is Leon Lederman.

Leon M. Lederman

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1988

Born: 15 July 1922, New York, NY, USA

Died: 3 October 2018, Rexburg, ID, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, IL, USA

Prize motivation: "for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino."

Prize share: 1/3

Leon M. Lederman – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2021. Thu. 22 Apr 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1988/lederman/facts/>

 

Dr. Lederman, Isabel Wilkerson writes, died having sold his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to pay his medical bills in the richest country in the world. A Nobel laureate died in a nursing home, in "exceptional America." That fact gobsmacked me.

 

Dr. Lederman's demise is the result of the exceptionalism that allowed six Klansmen and three American Nazi Party members to be acquitted of all charges in the Greensboro Massacre, the crime evidence on tape.

 

Just like Rodney King's beating. Just like Eric Garner's public lynching for selling loose cigarettes in NYC, the first black man to say "I can't breath" recorded. Tamir Rice only had seconds to play with a toy gun before he was summarily executed. Just like George Floyd.

 

We held our breaths because we've all been down this road before. Guilty on all counts, and the same forces that freed Klansmen, Nazis, and rogue cops started harping that the sequestered jury was somehow "bullied" because they looked at the evidence, and reached a verdict. It feels wrong to them because the jury wasn't in a southern courtroom, or Semi Valley: because the jury wasn't "all-white," making a mockery of the term "jury of one's peers."

We didn't get to breathe for George before losing Daunte Wright, Ma'Khia Bryant. This state terror feels mechanistic, steampunk: programmed. This timeline of death is psychotic and persistent. Like the Coronavirus, its only function is to exist, to thrive, even though its complete migration throughout the body politic causes eventually, according to Merriam-Webster: “[T]he irreversible cessation of all vital functions especially as indicated by a permanent stoppage of the heart, respiration, and brain activity: the end of life.” Apoptosis can apply to nation-states. Rome and England are tourist destinations now.

Racism is a moribund concept. It's the ultimate narcissism, the mother of all "isms" when you're supremely confident your "in" group has discovered and propagated the perfect gaslighting shtick over people of color, women, LGBT, immigrants. The only way the façade continues is that it must relentlessly be reinforced by state-sanctioned violence.

It is state-sanctioned violence to steal land inhabited by First Nation people already here, then put them on "reservations," segregated from the political machinations of power.

It is state-sanctioned violence to kidnap Africans for uncompensated labor, hold them in bondage for centuries, segregate them in government housing projects ("ghettos"), refuse to discuss reparations, redline homeownership, give white GIs home loans, and scholarships for college after WWII, and complain the problem with the African diaspora is they're "lazy."

It is state-sanctioned violence that forty-four transgender or gender-nonconforming citizens were killed in 2020.

It is state-sanctioned violence that the Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill had one lone nay vote from the same raised-fist "Mr. Woody" senator that helped incite an insurrection.

State-sanctioned violence has a boomerang effect: it is karmic. It is why we performed so badly in a once-in-a-century pandemic. It is why their mortality rates are high, their opiate addiction is a crisis, and their birth rates are low. They are not being replaced. The very machinations put in place to publicly lynch, put Orwellian boots-to-face, or "knees on necks" on society's "least of these" eventually affects someone even narcissists might care about.

Like smokestacks on pickup trucks to "own the libs," as if they breathe some other atmosphere on another planet, this state-sanctioned violence caused the bankruptcy and eventual death of a physics Nobel laureate. This is the epitome of madness.

"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time."

You can't possibly imagine how enraged I feel most of the time.

 

 

 

 

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Argonne, Assemble...

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(Image by Shutterstock/muratart.)

Topics: Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Existentialism, Global Warming, Green Tech

Thankfully, we're not. Hat tip to Marvel, and Rotten Tomatoes.

Scientists aren’t superheroes. Or are they? Superheroes defend the defenseless and save humanity from any number of disasters, both natural and unnatural, often using powers of logic and some really hip techno-gadgets.

The Earth is in crisis and while it has its own mechanisms to fight back, it could use a helping hand. Earth could use a superhero.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are stepping up and applying decades of expertise and research to combat some of Earth’s toughest foes, from waste and pollution to climate change. And they’ve assembled a cache of some of the world’s coolest technology for this crusade.

So, this Earth Day, we take a look at just a few of the ways Argonne’s scientist-superheroes are swooping in to keep Earth healthy and its citizens safe.

Predicting Earth’s future

What better way to save the planet than knowing what the future holds? Argonne and DOE are leaders in modeling Earth’s complex natural systems to help us keep tabs on the planet’s health. The best of these models can simulate how changes in these systems and our own actions might influence climate and ecosystems many years into the future. They give us a better understanding of the roles played by tropical rain forests, ice sheets, permafrost, and oceans in maintaining carbon levels and help us devise strategies for protecting them — ultimately, identifying how much carbon dioxide (CO2) we need to reduce from human activities and remove from the atmosphere to stabilize the planet’s temperature.

8 Things Argonne is Doing to Save the Earth, Argonne National Laboratory

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Traitors and Patriots...

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Image source: AZ Quotes

 

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

 

Though hundreds of C.E.O.s signed on to defending voting rights in principle, many notable omissions did not, like the C.E.O. of Walmart, Warren Buffet signed as citizen, not head of Berkshire Hathaway; Coca-Cola and Delta felt they had said all that needed to be said, and JP Morgan Chase, who has a history of its initial fortunes on slavery, also declined.

 

*****

 

 

Sunday, my wife and I took a "sanity ride" to a park in High Point. It's an exercise we've settled into during the pandemic. We didn't leave the car, just driving around, just looking at kids and parents at what appeared to be a baseball game. On leaving High Point, we were followed by the police for several miles, likely running my plates through dispatch. I purposely drove five miles below the posted speed limit. The lights went on anyway. I pulled over to a building, my license and insurance ready, hands on the dash. By the time the masked police officer came to get my effects, he said my tags had expired. Running my plates, he probably saw I had no priors, so he advised me to pay for the tags, and bring evidence to the judge in High Point. The ticket would disappear, problem solved.

 

Expired tags were ironically the same reason Daunte Wright was stopped in Minnesota, on the same Sunday. We're both black men. The difference is, Daunte is no longer alive.

 

*****

 

Ulysses S. Grant was a Republican. During the Civil War, the slaveholding south were Democrats. That flipped with the FDR New Deal; the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, and 1968 Fair Housing Act. He and Abraham Lincoln would be aghast at the conspiratorial nuthouse their party in the 21st Century has become.

 

We are still a country with two factions: traitors and patriots.

 

President Joe Biden has largely given up on trying to negotiate anything with Republicans. There’s a good reason for this: the GOP is no longer a legitimate political party.

 

One of the most comprehensive and well-respected surveys of political parties worldwide is called the Global Party Survey and came out of work done at Harvard in the US and Sydney University in Australia. The researchers note: “Drawing on survey data gathered from 1,861 party and election experts, the study uses 21 core items to estimate key ideological values, issue positions, and populist rhetoric for 1,127 parties in 170 countries.”

 

What they found was that the Democratic Party in the US is fairly solidly within the norms for political parties in fully developed countries around the world. It resembles normal and legitimate parties in Canada and most of Western Europe.

 

The Republican party, however, both behaves and is ideologically most similar to Hungary’s Fidesz party, Turkey’s AKP party, and Poland’s PiS party.

 

All three are, essentially, fascist parties.

 

Like the Nazis & Fascists, the Republican Party Must Be Purged, The Hartmann Report

 

I would say four.

The traitors' ancestors brought my ancestors to this country against their will to work as uncompensated labor. The traitors' ancestors wrote "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," and a mathematical loophole for holding kidnapped humans in bondage. The traitors are their descendants, shouting "all lives matter" while black lives obviously don't make a kind of duplicitous, hypocritical "sense."

The traitors believed the pandemic was a hoax, delaying our actions resulting in more deaths than necessary. The traitors believe masks are an assault on "liberty and freedom." That "liberty and freedom" apparently cancels the deaths of 578,726 Americans. That somehow opening with only 195 million doses given, 76.7 million fully vaccinated amounts to 23.4%: we need 70-80% to achieve "liberty."

The traitors are pushing the election "Big Lie," not unlike the "Lost Cause" narrative that amounts to superfluous bullshit: if you hold your nose, and compare it side-by-side, it's the same lie that caused the Civil War, inaugurated Jim Crow and domestic terrorism on people that didn't ask to be brought here. The traitors are passing laws to shorten early election times, close more precincts that stifle the voices of BIPOC, the young, the queer because they haven't had a platform since the 1980s that appeals to these groups. The traitors are trying to tank Kristen Clarke's nomination to the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department like they did Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court because someone fighting for the Civil Right to cast a vote might thwart the plans to block the votes of people who won't vote for them. The traitors don't want a 9-11-style commission to investigate and hold accountable traitors in an insurrection, guaranteeing the tactic will happen again if an election - local or national - is lost. The traitors are more motivated about Antifa (short for antifascist) than the fascists that scaled walls 100 days ago powered on this big lie, given voice by their fallen orange god who daily performed nauseating fellatio on Vladimir Putin, according to Michael Cohen, for a vanity tower in Moscow.

 

A spoken word artist I admire is Rudy Francisco, encapsulating my angst in the apropos "Adrenaline Rush." Being a person of color in America is an extreme "sport" at a traffic stop.

 

I will get my car inspected, update my registration with the state, and show proof to the magistrate in High Point. Even with inspection and registration in hand, I will be cautious, nervous, and driving five miles below the posted speed limit there and back. Wish me luck.

 

My wife and I made it home, as Rudy's mic drops at the end of his piece "this time."

 

Daunte sadly didn't.

 

 

 

 

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Habitable Epoch...

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Artist's conception of GN-z11, the earliest known galaxy in the universe. Credit: Pablo Carlos Budassi Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Topics: Astrobiology, Evolution, Existentialism, Exoplanets

About 15 million years after the big bang, the entire universe had cooled to the point where the electromagnetic radiation left over from its hot beginning was at about room temperature. In a 2013 paper, I labeled this phase as the “habitable epoch of the early universe.” If we had lived at that time, we wouldn’t have needed the sun to keep us warm; that cosmic radiation background would have sufficed.

Did life start that early? Probably not. The hot, dense conditions in the first 20 minutes after the big bang produced only hydrogen and helium along with a tiny trace of lithium (one in 10 billion atoms) and a negligible abundance of heavier elements. But life as we know it requires water and organic compounds, whose existence had to wait until the first stars fused hydrogen and helium into oxygen and carbon in their interiors about 50 million years later. The initial bottleneck for life was not a suitable temperature, as it is today, but rather the production of the essential elements.

Given the limited initial supply of heavy elements, how early did life actually start? Most stars in the universe formed billions of years before the sun. Based on the cosmic star formation history, I showed in collaboration with Rafael Batista and David Sloan that life near sunlike stars most likely began over the most recent few billion years in cosmic history. In the future, however, it might continue to emerge on planets orbiting dwarf stars, like our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which will endure hundreds of times longer than the sun. Ultimately, it would be desirable for humanity to relocate to a habitable planet around a dwarf star like Proxima Centauri b, where it could keep itself warm near a natural nuclear furnace for up to 10 trillion years into the future (stars are merely fusion reactors confined by gravity, with the benefit of being more stable and durable than the magnetically confined versions that we produce in our laboratories).

When Did Life First Emerge in the Universe? Avi Loeb, Scientific American

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics...

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Which states have dropped mask mandates and why, Marlene Lenthang, Yahoo News

Topics: Biology, COVID-19, Dark Humor, Existentialism, Mathematics, Politics

Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Mark Twain, also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

A follow-up to Tuesday's post: VOC...

‘No Thank You, Mr. President’: GOP States Still End Mask Mandates Despite Covid-19 Rise And Warnings From Biden, CDC, Alison Durkee, Forbes Business, April 2, 2021

Having some "fun" with mathematics. It's dark humor for all you young libertarians.

The current US COVID deaths are 573, 988 from https://ncov2019.live/.

The current US population is 332,494,997 from Worldometers.info. Each link updates minute-by-minute, so by the time you read this, these figures will have changed.

(US COVID deaths/current US population) x 100 = 0.17%. Round up to 0.2%.

That's pretty low.

For the "freedom-loving libertarians" spring breaking in Miami, or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas - a thought experiment:

100,000 of you are about to dive into the ocean.

There is a 0.2% = 0.2/100 chance some of you will get devoured by sharks.

100,000 x (0.2/100) = 200 dead spring breakers.

So, out of 100,000 - 200 = 99,800, or 99.8% have a very good chance of not becoming "chicken of the sea," and surviving your spring break. The dilemma is, there will still be blood in the water. Blood that carries pathogens that despite your "Y" swimming lessons and the saline environment, you might ingest red tide, and suffer the consequences.

The problem is, your 0.2% chance is not zero. Under normal circumstances (and pandemics are once-in-a-century "not normal"), there's no libertarian case for this:

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Mask Mandates and Starships...

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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Climate Change, COVID-19, Democracy, Existentialism, Human Rights

Thank you, Reginald!

You're all signed up for "(1st Dose) COVID - 19 Vaccine Clinic."

Vaccine Appointment

03/11/2021 (Thu.) 1:45pm - 2:00pm EST

Location: NC A&T Alumni Foundation Building (200 N. Benbow Rd.)

My Comment: Older graduate student, 58 years.

Thank you for registering to receive dose 1 of the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note the following:

The instructions noted the address (I knew), where to park in proximity to the NC A&T Alumni Foundation building, instructions to enter the building from N. Benbow Road, and to bring a valid student ID. The same building I've celebrated the Greensboro Four every first of February, kicking off African American/Black History Month at the nation's largest HBCU.

My wife received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum. It's the ten-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daichi accident. I received my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on also ironically, the first anniversary the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2, the Novel Coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic.

Every STEM major student at a primary or historically black college suddenly was thrust into a world of "I Am Legend" protocols against an invisible zombie apocalypse. Navigating research to attain a Master's, or Ph.D. is challenging enough: add to it KN95 masks, 3.66 meters of social distance (12 feet, for the British unit crowd), washing hands, hand sanitizers every 10 meters, and protocol-driven digital, and analog sign-in/sign-out for contact tracing. There's also been isolation, the lack of banter with classmates, no lunches between experiments, or card games. Science is from our hunter-gatherer ancestors: it's a social exercise. Our worlds have been reduced to the dimensions of our laptop monitors, the visual cues common to hominids in conversation reduced to two-dimensional "Zoom fatigue."

To cope with the angst of "sameness," I retreated, or returned more apt and accurately, to spoken word poetry: STEM extended by one vowel is STEAM, the "A" for art, and Einstein played the violin. On Sundays, I perform for a venue in Austin, Texas that's called "Spoken and Heard," started by a friend going by the stage name "Element 615" (don't bother looking it up: it doesn't exist), managed by some poetry friends, and streamed on Facebook and YouTube via Skype. Our poetry tends to center on the topics of the recent week's news.

"Mask Mandates and Starships" was my reaction to the day before, the state of Texas lifted their statewide mask mandate. The news for Greg Abbott's re-election looked grim after botched handling of a once-in-a-hundred-years climate change event (that seems to be occurring annually). If Abbott didn't learn anything from the last administration when you can't solve a problem: bluff, blame, and deflect to something else. Gaslighting 101. It solves nothing but shows his disdain for the citizens of Texas: he really thinks they're stupid. No one rows a boat, or pilots a light sail in multiple directions. It gets you nowhere fast.

The thesis of the piece is, it will take extreme and global cooperation to build ONE vehicle capable of interstellar travel, let alone a fleet of them. The same cooperation we're going to need to get out of this pandemic. Though there is much writing of papers on the Alcubierre Drive, a breakthrough to superluminal speeds taking us to other worlds is highly unlikely. We're born, will live, and die on this one. Hopefully, so will our progeny. We still have radiation poisoning, the current, and future pandemics, climate disasters that are occurring with the frequency of subway lines in New York, or Philly. Continuation of any civilization isn't guaranteed, and discontinuations have many precedents in history.

Zoonotic diseases aren't new, and they tend to strike every one hundred years. The Great Dying was due to the introduction of things like measles, smallpox, influenza, typhus, and tuberculosis to Native American populations by the invasion of Spain and Portugal to the Americas. It is naïve, and ignorant to name any pathogen after its point of origin; racist and xenophobic to center it on one culture. It is also placing whole populations not responsible for the spread in danger of physical violence, which solves nothing. The first piece of legislation on immigration was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, meant to curb the rise in their population for ten years, signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882. This is in America's DNA. Tribalism and any other narcissistic "ism" will not save us.

Asian Americans scapegoated. Black Lives (obviously don't) Matter. The LGBT are human beings, not scarecrows hung like Matthew Shepard. Women's Rights ARE Human rights. Unless the pathogen was dropped on us from Alpha Centauri, it, and we all live here.

We either live together or die miserably, and sadly into extinction.

What if this pandemic, / Is Gia’s test / Before we leave the nest? / “In space, no one can hear [you]r screams,” / No matter replicators or Uber Eats, / No 911 to call for assistance, / No tribes to define oneself with, / No conservatives, liberals, republicans, or democrats, / The only question is, “no rescue is coming; can WE fix it?” / No poetic Latin words E Pluribus Unum, / The only governing philosophy boiled down to three letters: GSD, equaling “get shit done!” / More “final frontier” than we’ve ever been,.. from "Mask Mandates and Starships."

We conclusively know now we cannot gaslight a pandemic. 543,690 deaths, and counting. If we can't do the simple things, are we mature enough to become a space-faring species?

What if? Are we?

 We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe. Chadwick Boseman, as King T'Challa in the movie, "Black Panther" (Rest In Power), from Internet Movie Database.

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What They Meant...

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Image Source: 100 photos, Time.com, Emmett Till

 

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

 

100 photos, Time: In August 1955, Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago, was visiting relatives in Mississippi when he stopped at Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market. There he encountered Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. Whether Till really flirted with Bryant or whistled at her isn’t known. But what happened four days later is. Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, seized the 14-year-old from his great-uncle’s house. The pair then beat Till, shot him, and strung barbed wire and a 75-pound metal fan around his neck, and dumped the lifeless body in the Tallahatchie River. A white jury quickly acquitted the men, with one juror saying it had taken so long only because they had to break to drink some pop. When Till’s mother Mamie came to identify her son, she told the funeral director, “Let the people see what I’ve seen.” She brought him home to Chicago and insisted on an open casket. Tens of thousands filed past Till’s remains, but it was the publication of the searing funeral image in Jet, with a stoic Mamie gazing at her murdered child’s ravaged body, that forced the world to reckon with the brutality of American racism. For almost a century, African Americans were lynched with regularity and impunity. Now, thanks to a mother’s determination to expose the barbarousness of the crime, the public could no longer pretend to ignore what they couldn’t see.

 

I am a child of "forced bussing," emphasized by the dominant culture of North Carolina in 1971, when 1954's Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education Decision, and "all deliberate speed" reached my municipality. I remember being nine years old, riding on buses at zero-dark-thirty in the morning to Rural Hall Elementary for the fourth grade, a limited experiment in federally-mandated diversity. I traveled to was in what was then, the rich, white suburbs. Every time my friends and I got off buses, we were miles from our homes.

 

We generally stayed in clicks: black youths on one side of the cafeteria, white youths on the other. In the evenings, I remember watching local and national news where high school students brought chains, bats, and knives. I recall waiting for our powder keg to explode.

 

Then, we played a game of football during recess. I don't know what "did it" for the girls, but boys covered in sweat, mud, and scrapes develop bonds that are hard to ignore. Thankfully, the powder keg never went off.

 

From Rural Hall, we were bussed back to East Winston-Salem at Fairview Elementary for fifth, and sixth grade. On to Mineral Springs Middle School for seventh, and eighth grade. Atkins, Carver, Hanes, and Paisley - traditionally, African American High Schools that reliably fed HBCUs - were "demoted" to ninth/tenth grade high schools, so that every student in the city would have the "benefit" of diplomas from the traditionally white high schools of North, East, Mount Tabor, and West.

 

The good news: most of the fourth graders that aged through this forced diversity got used to seeing people other than themselves. Star Trek was in syndication, and we were inspired by the vision of a future that at least our descendants would have their acts together, and learn like we did to live together post-warp drive, or football.

 

The not-so-good news: There were quite a few interracial couples, which I had never seen before. Quite a few "Christian" Academies sprung up to sidestep what their parents saw as ungodly miscegenation. I haven't kept contact with my former classmates from Rural Hall Elementary, Mineral Springs Middle School, Atkins High School, and North Forsyth High School. I can't help but imagine that many of them on the other side of the cafeteria before our mud-soaked football games have returned to the other side, donned red hats, and QAnon paraphernalia.

 

There was a list of Emmett Tills before Emmett Till. The brutality visited upon his teenage body compared modernly to Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. There are literally hundreds more. Many, like the Emmett Tills before Emmett Till, are unknown, unheard of: unlisted.

 

The times they want to return to wasn't so much the president named Eisenhower versus Obama; white picket fences in Levittown's, or affordable healthcare: "great again" is the ability to reign terror, and murder on an entire community - black, brown, LGBT, women, with absolute impunity. They made that QUITE clear on January 6, 2021.

 

Every significant group that has had knees on their necks, oppressed by the dominant group since Plymouth Rock took inspiration from the efforts that started post-1865, to this present political darkness. It will continue until E Pluribus Unum isn't just a quaint Latin phrase. We cannot be a democratic republic, AND a nihilistic, fascist dictatorship.

 

Their "great again" wish is that Mother Till hadn't opened that casket.

 

We are NOT going back! Black lives, and democracy, matter.

 

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Splitting Babies, Washing Hands...

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Pop Culture Guy: Foghorn Leghorn

 

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

 

To split the baby is a reference to a story in the Old Testament in Kings 3:5-14, regarding a decision of Solomon that shows his wisdom when given a difficult task. Solomon as king was often asked to judge between people with difficult problems, and his solutions were accounted as very wise. The term is often used to describe an unreasonable solution that may be used as a way to find an underlying truth.

 

In Kings, two women approach Solomon, both claiming to be the mother of the same baby. In fact, one woman has smothered her own child in her sleep and has taken the child of another woman with whom she shares a home. Upon waking, the mother of the living baby finds she is holding the dead child, who she knows is not hers. Since she cannot convince the mother of the dead child to give her back her child, they go to Solomon for judgment.

 

Solomon’s solution is fairly unique. He hears both sides, which are identical, and decides that the best course is to cut the baby in half so both mothers will have a share. To do this, however, means to kill the child. The mother who has already lost a child is happy with the solution, but the real mother cries out and begs Solomon to let the other woman raise her child alive.

 

When the real mother protests the solution and is willing to give up her rights as a mother to preserve the life of her child, Solomon hands the baby to her.

 

What does It Mean to "Split the Baby"? Tricia Christensen, Wise Geek

 

What did it mean? Pontius Pilate was the Roman procurator (governor) of Judaea living in Jerusalem during the trial of Jesus. According to the story, he washed his hands to indicate that he believed Jesus was innocent of any capital crime - if he was killed - it wasn't on him.

 

A famous idiom from Matthew 27:24

 

The prosecution put on a clinic in the Well of the Senate in their closing remarks. Every avenue to derail the trial on "procedure," or "constitutional norms" was deftly batted away. It helps when the prosecution is playing seven-dimensional chess, and the defense team of Foggy Foghorn Leghorn, and Rage Elmer Fudd, is playing jacks.

 

The former Party of Lincoln has ridden this Kraken before the Orange Orangutan. Roger Ailes and talk radio proto Karl Rove, "created their own reality" in a Rush Limbaugh, cigar-chomping, racist ranting clones (because you don't need talent if you get a raging crowd buying your product), against the libs, Feminazis, and cooties. For forty-one years, from Reagan to Orange Satan, they have gaslighted their constituents, blamed every convenient "other" they could label and shoveled money uphill like a Hoover vacuum to their one percent benefactors. They have no intention of getting off this bucking steer in the right-wing rodeo, otherwise, like rodeo clowns, they might get skewered by the bull.

 

I don't expect there to be enough votes to convict him. It will be just shy of sixty-seven. I hope to be pleasantly surprised. The arcane rules of the Senate even after the off possibility of getting to sixty-seven, then have to take a simple majority vote to remove him from running again for office. He will be fatter, four years older, more insane, and publicly incontinent in 2024 (he wears Adult Depends now). Entropy can save us, or his criminal trials for state crimes in New York, and Georgia can put him in a wardrobe matching his fake, and grotesque spray tan. Cruz and Holley are salivating at this possibility.

 

They are splitting the baby: forty or so white republicans, and their mascot, Tim Scott, will vote again to acquit a criminal. Not because they're no longer the "party of law, and order." Not because the Party of Reagan was any greater: he started his campaign BLOCKS away from the death site of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner; he spoke openly about Welfare Queens, Young Bucks, and African Monkeys. Doofus Gambino is the end of Entropy: over a long period of time, any system goes from order to chaos. Forty-plus one poodle is looking forward to the next midterm, the next election, the next voter suppression, and now added to the quiver: the next insurrection, Like see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkeys, they will ignore it, and use it as a tool if they lose future elections.

 

The Neo-Confederates are self-immolating, and not for some noble protest, but to maintain power at the expense of the republic. They are the party whose defense will relitigate "WHATABOUTISM" with Antifa (anti-fascists), Benghazi (might as well), and Black Lives Matter (because they don't). Foggy Fog, and Rage Elmer will unimpressively rest today. Gaslighting and created realities will blow them up to the high crest peak of BS mountain. Rage will then observe the Sabbath at sundown.

 

They are the party of white nationalists. They are the party screaming the N-word at Capital Police during the insurrection. They are the party of smeared feces and urinated Capitol halls. They have become the party of Camp Auschwitz T-Shirts: Work Brings Freedom. They are the party of the Battle Ensign of Robert E. Lee (NEVER call it the Confederate Flag) flying at the Capitol, something not accomplished during the Civil War. They are the party of Ukraine and Georgia election interference "perfect" phone calls. They are the party that would sacrifice their own sycophant Vice President Mike Pence and executes the first and only female Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. They are the party of Vice President of the treasonous Confederacy, Alexander M. Stephens, and the "Cornerstone Speech":

 

"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth." Cornerstone Speech

 

They have not wavered from this mentality. It's been taught over and over, father to son, mother to daughter. The first gaslighting being the "lost cause" narrative lie, metastasizing to the inherited inferiority narrative shoveled at all of us, the proto version of birtherism, stolen from Orly Taitz. This "alternative fact" was amplified by a failed businessman, a faux billionaire that [probably] had Russian prostitutes urinate in a bed of the black president and first lady he hated with every fiber of his dark soul, that knows no love.

 

Eighty-one percent of white evangelicals left any allegiance they ever had to brown-skinned, Palestinian prophets, and voted for this Antichrist.

 

They, therefore, cannot be called Republicans any longer: they are fascists.

 

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Jacob Anthony Chansley, a QAnon believer, speaks to a crowd of Donald Trump supporters in Phoenix on Nov. 5, 2020. | AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills. Article by Ben Leonard, Politico

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

Q Bacca

Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman” arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, has filed an emergency motion before a federal judge in Washington, D.C., “for sustenance.” In the alternative, Chansley is asking to be released from jail pending trial. The requests are related to Chansley’s belief in Shamanism, a religion which he says allows him to eat only organic food as a core tenet of practice.

The motion, filed by attorney Al Watkins, mirrors requests for organic food which Watkins made during a plea hearing last week.  Chansley pleaded not guilty to charges related to the siege.

Watkins says Chansley hasn’t eaten since authorities moved him to Washington, D.C., more than a week ago.  Chansley has lost more than twenty pounds, the documents state, and further note that his “physical condition . . . is declining.”

‘QAnon Shaman’ Files ‘Emergency Motion’ for Organic ‘Sustenance,’ Including Wild Caught Tuna, Vegetables, and Soup, Aaron Keller, Law and Crime

Ahem: This has to be the first documented case of white privilege on steroids. He's got to be in solitary confinement, for his own safety. He wouldn't last a nanosecond in general population. The buffalo horns might increase his survivability to about 30%.

Q-California

(CNN) "When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice," William James, one of the most prominent American philosophers of the 19th Century, once said.

James' words rang through my head over the last 24 hours as it became more and more clear that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, wasn't actually going to make a decision about whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's past extremist and intolerant comments should result in the Georgia congresswoman being stripped of her committee assignments.

After a lengthy meeting with Greene on Tuesday night in which she refused to apologize for her past actions, a person with knowledge of the matter told CNN, McCarthy foisted the matter onto the Republican Steering Committee. But the Steering Committee adjourned Tuesday night without rendering a decision on Greene. So McCarthy turned to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, for help. But a meeting between the two men earlier Wednesday produced no resolution to the problem.

Why Kevin McCarthy has already failed his first big leadership test+, Chris Cillizza, CNN

Kevin McCarthy will never be Speaker. Nancy Pelosi gave the SICKEST official burn on the Speaker's website, which he can only salivate at like Pavlov's dogs, but will never own. Who wants a squishy surfer dude from California, who's only talent he thinks he needs in life is to dress in a suit, sport a tan, and jut out his chin for the camera? There is literally nothing of consequence above his neckline.

Stripping a crazy congresswoman of committee assignments is a layup. They did it with Steve-why-is-white-supremacy-a-problem-King, who lost his post in the midterms. "Little Kev-o" couldn't do it for the QAnon, AR-15 hoisted against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, secret Jewish space lasers causing forest fires, liking a post suggesting Speaker Pelosi deserves to be executed, and he wants to lead?

Don't fret, though. It's not like she won't be busy. She has an active social media existence. I'm holding my breath on the level of crazy she's going to raise twiddling her Twitter thumbs in the loo since she has absolutely no reason to report to work now. That means watching a lot of right-wing news designed to keep her, and its audience in a perpetual state of pissed-off-ness and scared of the brown people. The loo is where her 45th court jester did his best disinformation work after all, which is the only things he did other than golf more in four years than President Obama ever could have in eight. In, Game of Thrones parlance, let us "brace ourselves": next-level insanity is coming because an idle, crazy mind is the devil's workshop.

QAnon Sense

The Republican Party isn't a serious governing body, and that should concern us. "Bipartisanship sometimes referred to as nonpartisanship, is a political situation, usually in the context of a two-party system (especially those of the United States and some other western countries), in which opposing political parties find common ground through compromise." Source: Wikipedia

Sixty-one republicans wanted to kick Liz Cheney out of leadership - because she FOLLOWED The Constitution and clearly saw Orange Satan incite an insurrection, where they defecated on the floors, urinated in the halls, and that's supposedly OKAY. Blue Lives Matter, except for the Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, whose ashes laid in state for defending their worthless lives.

One-hundred and ninety-nine republicans thought Marjorie Taylor-Greene should be on the Education Committee, which by its definition is: "Education can be thought of as the transmission of the values and accumulated knowledge of a society. In this sense, it is equivalent to what social scientists term socialization or enculturation. Children—whether conceived among New Guinea tribespeople, the Renaissance Florentines, or the middle classes of Manhattan—are born without culture. Education is designed to guide them in learning a culture, molding their behavior in the ways of adulthood, and directing them toward their eventual role in society." Britannica

The party can't read The Constitution beyond the Second Amendment. Moscow Mitch didn't pass a THING as Majority Leader, calling himself the grim reaper, but animated his caucus for the lifetime appointment of conservative judges, positions left open because they couldn't be bothered to "advise and consent" for a black president.

Strangely enough, I don't want just the Democratic Party. There should be an opposition party, and it should be functional. Instead of "climate change is a Chinese hoax," a conservative alternative would be cap-and-trade. Hell, the Affordable Care Act originated from the Heritage Foundation, you know, where Mike Pence works now. Mitt Romney spearheaded it in Massachusetts. He was for his plan before his party put the racist, birther, witchdoctor boogie man on it. Politics poetically is "the art of compromise," and there can't be compromise in an echo chamber, even one you might like.

This started with Sarah "mama grizzly" Palin. Then, it metastasized into the Tea Party, which almost drove John Boehner insane. I see why he quit, to go smoke, and sell weed. Now, it's QAnon, and they apparently vote in numbers enough to put an insane person in Congress.

QAnon is just another monster from the echo chamber of Breitbart, Fox, News Max, OANN, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and the only human in existence where the first consonants switched in his first and last names sounds like a dirty word: Tucker Carlson.

The Republican Party can decide to follow their 2012 autopsy or continue to lose elections. One-hundred and ninety-nine opposition ads are gearing up for the 2022 elections. You all just went on-record as the party of QAnon. The party is undergoing a massive contraction after the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Even if Dumbo Gambino isn't convicted, if a simple majority vote removes his option to run in 2024 (when he'll be seventy-eight), he's done. Every Republican candidate trying to run for dogcatcher will have the orange stain for a generation. Or, if he's convicted of the other myriad crimes under investigation in New York, he will go to prison. You will then be the party of seditionists, racists, and stupid jailbirds.

This is Black History Month. Every DAY is black history. We know it. We lived the worst of America's darkness, and we're still standing.

We're not going anywhere, and we're not going back.

I been scarred and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
   Snow has friz me,
   Sun has baked me,

Looks like between 'em they done
   Tried to make me

Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'--
   But I don't care!
   I'm still here!

Langston Hughes, "Still Here," Hello Poetry

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The Lethality of Magical Thinking...

 

 

Echo and Narcissus

 

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

 

"The human understanding is no dry light, but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called 'sciences as one would.' For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes. Therefore, he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride; things not commonly believed, out of the deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding." Sir Francis Bacon, NOVUM ORGANON (1620)

 

-----

 

The GOP today is a tale of two parties. One of them, the gubernatorial wing, is growing and successful. The other, the federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.

 

Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. States in which our presidential candidates used to win, such as New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida, are increasingly voting Democratic. We are losing in too many places.

 

It has reached the point where in the past six presidential elections, four have gone to the Democratic nominee, at an average yield of 327 electoral votes to 211 for the Republican. During the preceding two decades, from 1968 to 1988, Republicans won five out of six elections, averaging 417 electoral votes to Democrats’ 113.

 

Our job as Republicans is to champion private growth so people will not turn to the government in the first place. But we must make sure that the government works for those truly in need, helping them so they can quickly get back on their feet. We should be driven by reform, eliminating, and fixing what is broken, while making sure the government’s safety net is a trampoline, not a trap.

 

The Republican Party must be the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder of life. Low-income Americans are hardworking people who want to become hardworking middle-income Americans. Middle-income Americans want to become upper-middle-income, and so on. We need to help everyone make it in America.

 

America is changing demographically, and unless Republicans are able to grow our appeal the way GOP governors have done, the changes tilt the playing field even more in the Democratic direction.

 

In 1980, exit polls tell us that the electorate was 88 percent white. In 2012, it was 72 percent white. Hispanics made up 7 percent of the electorate in 2000, 8 percent in 2004, 9 percent in 2008, and 10 percent in 2012. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2050, whites will be 47 percent of the country while Hispanics will grow to 29 percent and Asians to 9 percent.

 

If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity.

 

Excerpts: "Growth, and Opportunity Project" (popularly, the GOP Autopsy, 2012)

 

Magical thinking is the belief that one's ideas, thoughts, wishes, or actions can influence the course of events in the physical world. It is something people all over the globe engage in, and many religious and folk rituals center around it. While magical thinking can be a very normal human response, and there are aspects of it that can have psychological benefits, it can also be counterproductive at times and even be a sign of a mental health concern.

 

Very Well Mind: Magical Thinking Benefits and Concerns, Lisa Fritscher, Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD

 

The "Growth and Opportunity Project" looked at the prospects of the Republican Party being viable even with the changing demographics that are inevitable. It's a quick read, and quite logically laid out. It's a calming alternative to what the party has become.

 

From Grand Old Party to Growth and Opportunity Project, to Gang of Putin, insurrection and Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor-Greene. The GOP is starting to look more like Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane with Riddler, and Joker. This is not just acceptance of violence against opponents they should debate with better ideas. This isn't a "bug" for the Republican Party: violence is becoming a feature, a feature of fascists.

 

Kevin McCarthy can retire. He'll never be Speaker of the House, except if they overthrow the republic, and we become The Republic of Gilead in "The Handmaid's Tale." John Boehner couldn't control the "Freedom" Caucus - and they were SANER! What does he think "talking to" Taylor-Greene will do? Oh yes. From the link above, she's removing all the homicidal, anti-Semitic, controversial calls to assassinate Speaker Pelosi. Like I said, never Speaker.

 

Echo and Narcissus is the fable from which we derive the word narcissist. He dies pining for his own reflection, in love with himself, or at least his reflection; starving to death, the Nymph Echo saying the only thing she could say: his last word before expiring: "farewell." McCarthy literally "kissed the ring" of the loser narcissist of the 2020 election. The same he blamed for the insurrection, then a week later recanted. It's like he's never read the Growth and Opportunity Project, or like his president, used it as toilet paper on a golden throne. The entire party is too proud to change, but narcissistically blames "others," and stares at itself in the mirror, finding no flaws. The fat lady has sung; Echo is warming up.

 

The U.S. Capitol is both a crime scene and a toxic work environment. Democrats think Boebert and Greene might try to kill them. They're buying Kevlar to go to work.

 

Magical thinking leads to conspiracy theorizing. Insane asylums manage magical thinking, republics require informed citizens with a firm tether to facts, science, and reality. It creates a world of "us and them," saints and sinners, Batman and Jokers, protectors of the unborn against satanic pedophiles using concealed carry sidearms. Once one side makes "others" of their political opposites, they are of no more consequence than beetles on sidewalks joggers squish absentmindedly. Once your opponents in your mind aren't even human, you can justify anything to rid yourselves of them - even insurrection, or murder.

 

And insurrection without consequences is a dress rehearsal. Fascism is incremental.

 

Formerly there were those who said: You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is unjust because we command it. Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion that have overrun the world.

 

–François-Marie Arouet ‘Voltaire’ (d. 1778), ‘Questions sur les miracles’ (1765)

 

"History rarely repeats itself, but its echoes never go away." Tariq Ali

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Big Lies, Krakens, and Infamy...

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Live Science: What is a Kraken? Benjamin Radford

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights

 

Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:</em>

 

YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

 

Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York (Transcript)

 

Good evening.

 

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.

 

George W. Bush, 9/11 Address to the Nation

 

Go home; we love you.

 

Dumbo Gambino, 1/6/2021

 

Today is the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Founders Day for Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Incorporated (Vice President Kamal Harris is a member).

I've been busy since last Friday and numb from four years of bullshit.

 

There's a sizable contingent of this country - 74 million or so - that don't think I'm a citizen. Listening to a podcast with Chris Hayes and Ta-Nehishi Coates on what happened last Wednesday, out of a pulp fiction writer's fever dream. The discussion between them is ostensibly titled "The Attack on the Capitol." Their dialog led to a dark logic.

 

For eight years of the Obama presidency, he was il-legitimated by the birther lie. He was a secret Muslim, closet homosexual, his wife a transsexual man, and the kids adopted. It would have been news to their grandmother. Every effort made to make him "other," inclusive of Witch Doctors and hanging him in effigy.

 

A whole cottage industry of conspiracy theories blossomed, and right-wing operators cashed in on the racism cash cow. Violence escalated nationally against African Americans - the majority of them men, but a few women because, racism - possibly to teach us our "places" in the authoritarian hierarchy. From Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Aubry, Breona Taylor, to George Floyd, we could not catch our breaths. We were hung, struck, shot: lynched in reality.

 

The Former Republican Party (look up the definition of republicanism) hasn't won both the electoral college and the popular vote in four elections: 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016. The Southern Strategy obviously has a demographic shelf life, and a few in the privileged group is having the sads about it. If you "other" the first African American president, the votes of people sharing his heritage are by definition "illegitimate," despite decisively winning elections and turning the power of the Senate. This happening despite denied voter suppression tactics of reducing drop boxes during a pandemic, cutting cables on voting machines, reducing precincts, delaying mail-in votes: they HAD to win, or so they thought.

 

Therefore, you can lie to your constituents; you can tell them the election was stolen without evidence. BLM protesters get teargas, water cannons, percussion bombs, and rubber bullets; armed insurrectionists get Capitol Police escorts who pose for selfies. They are fertile ground for sowing the grains of alternate facts. The ground had been prepared for over forty years. Rush Limbaugh, AM Talk Radio, Fox Propaganda, News Max, and OANN are the fruits born of this manure.

 

These fecal droppings also bear the fruits of violence. "Obama is coming to take your guns" raised more money than Midas for the gun industry from 2009 - 2016. They've lost money under Captain Crazy Pants. Without "jackbooted thug boogie men," you don't raise as much money for an industry so focused on a narrow clientele steeped in racism, religious extremism, sexism, xenophobia, and anxiety disorders.

 

So, after forty years of propaganda and bullshit, House Republicans aren't afraid for the random QANON candidate to their far-right in a primary: they're afraid the constituents they've been lying to for campaign dollars, the constituents they've played on their fears of the "other" and changing demographics to maintain power, will see through the wolf tickets they've been sold, and like the insurrectionists-seditionists cum insurgents, they will find them at their exclusive enclave residents - and kill them. The BIGGEST lie they've been told is that the current numerical minorities are taking their jobs. Middle-class jobs shipped overseas was a decision that happened in corporate boardrooms by people who looked like them. The rest is automation, computer science, and robotics.

 

Then First Lady (now Secretary) Hillary Clinton talked about a vast, right-wing conspiracy. Maybe it's time to do what Senator Mitt Romney practically shouted in the Senate's well post the attempted coup that threatened democrats and republicans alike. A coup that could have easily resembled how the "Son's of Jacob" overthrew the government in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" to set up the fictional Republic of Gilead:

 

Tell them the truth. Teach the ones you don't jail civics and critical thinking skills.

 

"His [John F. Kennedy's] assassination was the result of the climate of hate. Only I said 'the chickens came home to roost,' which means the same thing. A climate of hate means that this is the result OF something, and when I say 'chickens coming home to roost,' I mean the same thing." He admonishes he didn't say he was glad the president was killed: that's what Malcolm says the press said. YouTube

 

Origin: The Phrase Finder

 

The notion of bad deeds, specifically curses, coming back to haunt their originator is long established in the English language and was expressed in print as early as 1390, when Geoffrey Chaucer used it in The Parson's Tale:

 

And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest.

 

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The Path Forward...

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Topics: Climate Change, COVID-19, Existentialism, Science

Science, as Carl Sagan wrote, has to be our "candle in the dark."

The Scientific Method we developed as a hunter-gatherer species. The tools of hunter-gatherers were utilitarian and pragmatic. Our ancestors observed things and noticed patterns. They made mental notes of these patterns and codified them through rituals, customs, and behaviors into distinct cultures defined by these traditions. Some kept this knowledge in secret, esoteric, as any knowledge is power over others. This probably is the reason why we're so suspicious of any change in what was, or is new knowledge.

Many first-responders are BIPOC, so the resistance to it, probably from the apprehension around the Tuskegee Experiment, has an understandable history, but it's still alarming. We can wear masks. We can contact trace. We can socially distance. We can take the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca variants of the vaccine, and mitigate this more quickly.

Or, we can guarantee after a long dark winter, a long slog through the spring, summer, and fall. Herd immunity isn't by brute force: it is intentionally engineered with vaccines.

WASHINGTON — Authorities are reporting early shipments of the COVID 19 vaccine will not cover all essential personnel who are supposed to be first in line to get it. The CDC's immunization advisory panel voted Tuesday to give the first round of COVID-19 vaccines to health care personnel and long-term care facility residents.

Hundreds of thousands of frontline medical workers are at the top of that list. But surveys are showing that not all are eager to be first.

While 63% of health care workers reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that they would accept the vaccine, the agency is concerned about the large numbers who are hesitant. The American Nurses Foundation is reporting 36% of nurses surveyed said they would not voluntarily get the COVID-19 vaccine once it's deployed.

'No one wants to be a guinea pig' | Vaccine hesitancy divides health care workers, Scott Broom, ABC10 News

Carbon sequestration involves a lot of technology, or it can involve what Earth did before we discovered technology: plant more trees.

Forty-nine million years ago, a small aquatic fern called Azolla wrested control of Earth’s climate. At the time, the landlocked Arctic Ocean developed a surface layer of fresh water, which allowed the ferns to grow unchecked in a wide-open environment. Billions of tons of plants died and sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking with them the carbon they had sucked from the air when they were alive. 

The consequences were extreme. Geologic evidence indicates that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels plummeted more than 80 percent over 800,000 years, sharply ratcheting down Earth’s thermostat. Prior to the inferred “Azolla Event,” most of the globe was lush and tropical. Afterward, the Arctic cooled by nearly 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the poles froze, and our planet entered a lurching cycle of ice ages that continues to this day. 

How to Bury Carbon? Let Plants Do the Dirty Work, Cory S. Powell, Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory

This seems simple enough, but politicians like Jair Bolsonaro apparently came to power much like our one-term Neo-fascist did: lifted to the office by right-wing Christian zealots in Brazil, particularly of the megachurch kind. From a dominionist view, carbon sequestration shows a "lack of faith." Forty-nine million years ago is a long way from a mere guestimate of ten-thousand years. Burning the Amazon, like for many cheering for Armageddon hastens the Apocalypse, and the Second Coming. It is thus, anathema.

I follow Politics and Prose on YouTube. David K. Johnston gave a speech at their bookstore some time ago on his book: "The Making of Donald Trump." Many things weren't a revelation to me, but one thing, in particular, stuck with me.

People the world over are afraid. Con artists, fascists, and strongmen play on fear.

I'm talking pre-pandemic afraid: afraid of change, afraid of diversity, afraid their particular sacred texts do not line up neatly with new scientific discoveries; afraid of their traditions being challenged in the light of Sagan's candle. Such fear gives political power to strongmen (the antonym more accurate) that assure their crowds on their rise to power that they will return those fearful of change to a "golden age of greatness," which they never really define. The other common thing is there is a scapegoated "other" on which all blame for everything wrong is laid. That is the history of the scapegoat, by the way. For humans, it leads to disdain, disregard, murder, and genocide.

For an otherwise intelligent species, that can lead to extinction.

A preprint paper in ArXiv gives the grim estimate that intelligent species over long stretches of time eventually annihilate themselves. I would really like us all to be the rare exceptions to this possible rule.

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Dark Winter, Brighter Spring...

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

I have taken the following vaccines this year: Pneumonia, Seasonal Influenza (Flu), Shingles in two booster shots.

Therefore, I am very likely to take the Coronavirus vaccine either offered by Pfizer or Moderna.

Pfizer is pushing back on the Trump administration's suggestion that the company is having trouble producing its COVID-19 vaccine, saying it's ready to ship millions more doses – once the government asks for them. As the company spoke out, several states said their vaccine allocations for next week have been sharply reduced.

Here's what the key players are saying about a complicated situation:

What Pfizer says

"Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed," CEO Albert Bourla said via Twitter. His company says it has completed every shipment the U.S. government has requested.

"We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses," Pfizer said in a statement.

The company also noted that in the past week, it shipped 2.9 million doses of the vaccine it developed with BioNTech in what is widely seen as a breakthrough in the nation's fight against the coronavirus.

Pfizer Says Millions Of Vaccine Doses Are Ready, But States Say Shipments Were Cut, Bill Chappell, NPR

Unlike the 1918 pandemic, I don't think it will take us a decade to come to some sense of normalcy. I am concerned, from a cultural perspective, that the vaccine spreads equitably.

We have a reason to be suspicious. The Tuskegee Experiment happened over four decades, affected hundreds of lives, allowing syphilis to infect men, women, and children. It makes trusting authorities with our lives a bit problematic. As I've said, if it helps anyone reading this entry, I will take the vaccine. I would like to get back to some sense of normalcy.

The revelation of the recent Russian hacks is the equivalent of a Cyber Pearl Harbor. Our nuclear triad material, three states (including Austin, Texas), the Central Intelligence Agency, Treasury, NASA, Commerce, et al. This is a stickup. Think the city, lights: sewage. Like a burglar, we could all be held hostage by a foreign power. To paraphrase a false claim attributed to Nikita Khrushchev, Putin could literally "bury us without firing a shot."

The shenanigans of the current obtuse, malignant, narcissistic, and incompetent administration will come to an end. Vaccines will go out, modeled by an incoming administration that like previous democratic ones before them, have to shovel the country out of the smoldering ruin that the previous republican one left the country in. They will, of course, delay vaccines, they will of course, try to sabotage on the way out. They are the steroids equivalent of Clinton-to-Bush removing the W keys, and costing the government approximately $15,000. It was disappointing and sophomoric. This stunt is petty, malevolent, and deadly. We have crossed the Rubicon of 300,000 dead Americans. At a rate of a 9/11 per day, we'll reach 400,000 by inauguration. Delay during a pandemic will kill more Americans, but I guess that's not a big concern to a malignant narcissist.

But I am hopeful for a brighter spring.

Mango Mussolini can do a lot of damage in 33 days, but it's 33 days at noon when he loses access to the nuclear football, he loses the presidential immunity that protects him from an indictment, not that Letitia James, Cyrus Vance, SDNY, or EDNY are bothered by his threats of family and self pardons. His crimes in New York are state felonies, likely involving inflating his wealth, or decreasing it when it suited him. We'll likely find out he's not as rich as he claims to be. He cashed a series of diminishing value checks sent as a gag by Spy Magazine, proving himself a bit player in the New York Real Estate market. He'll need every penny he's grifting from his deluded followers to stay out of prison. Not that I'm sympathetic: but grift on this constant level has to be exhausting, and depleting of finance, and bodily constitution.

The evil energizer bunny has to run out of gas sometimes. His tweets will reach a limited audience. Cities that haven't YET gotten paid for his previous rallies will refuse to book him. He's proposing bringing back The Apprentice because his "power" is his celebrity, and that dwindles quickly without cameras on you constantly. He can call it Apprentice, 2024: Finding a Vice President (a tacit admittance Pence didn't help him win re-election). Several sources say Twitter might finally remove him, not the conviction to "do the right thing," just that if his followers dwindle, they have no one to gather metadata from for marketing purposes. It's business, and a one-term president probably isn't good for the bottom-line.

That's all fine and good, Donald unless you're spending your evenings at Riker's. Maybe they'll station you at the Queens Detention Complex. He can see the old neighborhood, while the rest of us heal from his madness. We will get through this.

That's it for this year. See you in January 2021.

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Measure of Our Impact...

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Dams are just one type of infrastructure that can cause environmental damage. HUSEYINTUNCER/ ISTOCK

Topics: Civics, Climate Change, Environment, Existentialism

It’s not just your storage unit that’s packed to the gills. According to a new study, the mass of all our stuff—buildings, roads, cars, and everything else we manufacture—now exceeds the weight of all living things on the planet. And the amount of new material added every week equals the total weight of Earth’s nearly 8 billion people.

“If you weren’t convinced before that humans are dominating the planet, then you should be convinced now,” says Timon McPhearson, an urban ecologist at the New School who was not involved with the research. “This is an eye-catching comparison,” adds Fridolin Krausmann, a social ecologist at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, who also was not involved in the work.

There are many measures of humanity’s impact on the planet. Fossil fuels have sent greenhouse gases soaring to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years. Agriculture and dwellings have altered 70% of the land. And humans have wiped out untold numbers of species in an emerging great extinction. The transformations are so great that researchers have declared we’re living in a new human-dominated age: the Anthropocene.</em>

Systems biologist Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Science went looking for a new gauge of our impact. He and his colleagues synthesized previous estimates of the biomass of living plants for each year between 1900 and 2017. Those estimates account for about 90% of all living things and are based on field research and computer modeling. From 1990 onward, they also include data from satellites, which researchers have used to track global vegetation.

Human ‘stuff’ now outweighs all life on Earth, Erik Stokstad, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science Magazine

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Footsies with Armageddon...

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

Iran's most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated near the capital Tehran, the country's defense ministry has confirmed.

Fakhrizadeh died in hospital after an attack in Absard, in Damavand county.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has condemned the killing "as an act of state terror".

Western intelligence agencies believe Fakhrizadeh was behind a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.

"If Iran ever chose to weaponize (enrichment), Fakhrizadeh would be known as the father of the Iranian bomb," one Western diplomat told Reuters news agency in 2014.

Iran insists its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

But news of the killing comes amid fresh concern about the increased amount of enriched uranium that the country is producing. Enriched uranium is a vital component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's top nuclear scientist, assassinated near Tehran, BBC News

Yes, just like something out of Marvel's Captain America. According to reports by U.S. intelligence, China has conducted human testing on members of the People's Liberation Army with the ambitious goal of developing soldiers with enhanced biological capabilities.

Though it may sound like something out of science fiction, emerging technologies capable of augmenting the human body paired with the rapidly evolving world of genome-editing could arguably spawn the dawn of super-humans.

Concepts like artificial intelligence symbiosis, bionic body parts, and self-regenerating limbs are not too far off into the future.

Though the idea of getting your hands on some highly coveted Marvel-Esque superpowers sounds exciting, there are some real-world fears and ethical questions that need to be asked. Should we if we can?

China is Creating Biologically Enhanced Super Soldiers, Says US Spy Chief, Donovan Alexander, Interesting Engineering

Act Two
McCoy is conducting a medical analysis on the unidentified man at sickbay on the Enterprise. McCoy is amazed at the physical and recuperative power of the man.

In sickbay, Kirk arrives to speak to the man. McCoy notes his superior bodily strength and efficiency of his lungs, hinting at his Augment origin. McCoy estimates that the man could lift both he and Kirk with one arm. He tells Kirk that it would be interesting to see if the man's brain matches his body.

TOS: Space Seed, Memory Alpha

In July, we were estimated losing a person a minute to COVID-19. We may now lose the equivalent of a 9/11 per day by Christmas. Bah, humbug!

In the constitutional "peaceful transfer of power," you would think the current occupant of the Oval Office would be laser-focused on the pandemic. He would have his agencies coordinating with the incoming administration to ensure its success, and minimize the loss of life due to a virus that spreads exponentially. You would think his Oath of Office would come to mind, the whole "protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign, and domestic." That the safety of the nation and its citizens would be his highest priority.

Dude, you don't know our current occupant. He's playing president like he played a billionaire. He's never been either one.

No action on the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, no condemnation of the act, or sanctions on an ally that approved this action, nor officially logging our disapproval.

China is on the verge of fielding "Captain China" supermen on a future battlefield we may find our soldiers dying on. They're already on the verge of technological supremacy without augments. Their fascination with Nazi lawyer Carl Schmitt is disturbing.

Of course, his priorities are arguing an election that he clearly lost.

 

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that China's economic and military transformation, under the current Communist regime, has the potential to seriously threaten the future security of Canada and the West. The paper first looks at the economic reforms that have radically changed the Chinese economy. Then, the paper presents the significant changes that have taken place concerning military strategy, equipment modernization, and power projection capability. The strategic view and policies of Canada and the US are discussed in light of these changes and other recent incidents. The paper then presents the argument that there are three potential problem areas in which China could possibly threaten the West. The paper concludes by noting that China is a Communist country that is dissatisfied with its status in the world and that the West must not be naive to its intentions and ambitions.

When China awakes, it will shake the world - Napoleon Bonaparte

Once China becomes strong enough to stand alone, it might discard us. A little later it might even turn against us if its perception of its interests requires it - Henry Kissinger

China: the Emerging Superpower
by/par Major H.A. Hynes

The economic conditions before the first and second world wars were similarly dire, and related to each other. The gist of each causing massive losses of life (inclusive of the 1918 pandemic) was arrogance and greed.

We live in a cartoon. We think our actions are recoverable and survivable. We think there's a "Season Two" to stupidity. We think that minerals we've given agency over our lives, spewed as the guts of stars parsecs away are valuable enough to hoard, steal, and kill over.

We elect caricatures of gangsters to high office: sociopaths with Twitter followers that are equally psychotic. We're at the Entropy of our political experiment. Chaos is kind of unrecoverable without benevolent aliens and fictional warp signatures.

He's running a con. He's ALWAYS running a con. The con started with Reagan: "government is the problem" is as catchy and myopic a slogan as "defund the police." What does either one mean? I don't think officers should show up to a mental health crisis with guns blazing: that usually doesn't turn out too well. Was there a libertarian rocketeer that had a cost-effective method of getting to the moon? Was there some unknown genius living in his mom's basement that had a better solution than ARPANET (that became the Internet)? I'm as against bad, racist cops as anyone, but if my home is broken into, I EXPECT a government structure capable enough that when my glass break goes off, SOMEONE that my taxes pay for their salaries comes a-running, whether they like me personally, or not!

He's making far more money in small-dollar donations by losing the election, whining about it was "rigged," and putting out 46-minute bullshit infomercials to morons than winning it. As a malignant narcissist, he could care LESS who his rhetoric influences to commit violence, whether they're Republicans, Independents, or Democrats. He's probably as surprised as the 80 million who voted for the sane candidate that there are 74 million that would consciously and deliberately vote for him!

He's running a grift reality show, while we all sit on a powder keg for forty-six days.

As he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945, a piece of Hindu scripture ran through the mind of Robert Oppenheimer: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. It is, perhaps, the most well-known line from the Bhagavad-Gita, but also the most misunderstood.

In Hinduism, which has a non-linear concept of time, the great god is not only involved in the creation, but also the dissolution. In verse thirty-two, Krishna speaks the line brought to global attention by Oppenheimer. "The quotation 'Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds', is literally the world-destroying time,” explains Thompson, adding that Oppenheimer’s Sanskrit teacher chose to translate “world-destroying time” as “death”, a common interpretation. Its meaning is simple: irrespective of what Arjuna does, everything is in the hands of the divine.

"Arjuna is a soldier, he has a duty to fight. Krishna, not Arjuna will determine who lives and who dies and Arjuna should neither mourn nor rejoice over what fate has in store, but should be sublimely unattached to such results,” says Thompson. “And ultimately the most important thing is he should be devoted to Krishna. His faith will save Arjuna's soul." But Oppenheimer, seemingly, was never able to achieve this peace. "In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humour, no overstatements can quite extinguish," he said two years after the Trinity explosion, "the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.”

'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds'. The story of Oppenheimer's infamous quote, James Temperton, Wired

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Truthiness, to Truth Decay...

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Image Source: Wikipedia link below

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

Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidencelogicintellectual examination, or facts. Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions.

The concept of truthiness has emerged as a major subject of discussion surrounding U.S. politics during the 1990s and 2000s because of the perception among some observers of a rise in propaganda and a growing hostility toward factual reporting and fact-based discussion.

American television comedian Stephen Colbert coined the term truthiness in this meaning as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd" during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. By using this as part of his routine, Colbert satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and "gut feeling" as a rhetorical device in contemporaneous socio-political discourse.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness

Roger Ailes was very explicit as to why he wanted, and created Fox News: he wanted a news outlet friendly to conservative interests in the wake of Watergate, and the resignation of President Richard Nixon. I don't think we realize how astonishing that was, and that we've mythologized those times as "halcyon days" of yore.

Richard Nixon ran on "law and order," and the fear of violence in the wake of the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. He subtly stoked white grievance, the so-called "Southern Strategy," infamously described by political operative Lee Atwater. It worked. He rode to power in 1968, and a landslide forty-nine out of fifty state win in 1972, where he became the first Republican to sweep the south.

Nixon didn't need the plumbers to break into the DNC headquarters Watergate building, but there's evidence he used government resources instructing them to do so. His Vice President, Spiro Agnew, was accepting "bags of money" at the White House - as he did as governor of Maryland - to do political "favors" on Capitol Hill. For all intents and purposes, that is bribery. Nowadays, they attach lawyers to it, and call it lobbying.

The Justice Department was in a conundrum: if they indict the sitting president for an illegal break-in, they have to indict the sitting Vice President for usury. Plus, that pesky thing called The Constitution said if removed from office, the next in line was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, then, as now, a Democrat. The "memo" came out, without legal standing, or precedence, that you "cannot indict a sitting president."

We did not have cable television, cell phones, or social media apps. Every single American, presumably many who voted for Nixon's landslide victory, got the same information from three television outlets: ABC, CBS, and NBC news. Telegrams, letters, phone calls, letters to the editor in local newspapers and polls showed the country's mood had turned against Nixon, plus his promise to get us out of the Vietnam War turned out to be a boondoggle: many families were welcoming their loved ones home in body bags in a war it clearly looked like we weren't going to win. Altruism and fealty to The Constitution had nothing to do with republicans then, or now. The party talked Agnew into leaving on a lesser charge to get Gerald Ford - a congressman from Ohio, with no association to Nixon, or Agnew - in as Vice President. Then, the Republicans could keep power at the Executive Branch if an Impeachment in the House led to a conviction in the Senate, and forced removal.

 

The speed of a sprinter, a thrown fastball, the luminescence of a distant star, or the Hawking's Radiation of a Black Hole is demonstrable, measurable facts. They are not subject to opinions, "alternative facts," quackery, or spin. On the one hand, first, second, and third place is determinable. The speed of a Rookie fastball pitched from a mound can be logged; the astrophysical properties of distant objects can be studied because there is an agreement on what IS true and what is false in sports and physics.

“Science is far from a perfect instrument of knowledge. It's just the best we have. In this respect, as in many others, it's like democracy. Science by itself cannot advocate courses of human action, but it can certainly illuminate the possible consequences of alternative courses of action.”

"The scientific way of thinking is at once imaginative and disciplined. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything — new ideas and established wisdom. This kind of thinking is also an essential tool for a democracy in an age of change."

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

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, also Brain Pickings: Science, and Democracy

The premiere of Stephen Colbert's witty and insightful show probably had a lot to do with the "truthiness" on Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. That was demonstrably a lie. Yet, time and comparison to our current tweet-addicted sociopath make memories fail, as even George W. Bush now can pay respects to John Lewis: he was one of three living presidents to do so. The current occupant is too racist, devoted to his base, and fantasy to do so.

Ted Cruz is a Harvard-trained lawyer, and like President Obama, an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He's taken to Twitter to spread baseless conspiracy theories, and promote a right-wing social media app, Parler, financed by Rebecca Mercer, who like her billionaire hedge fund father, funds right-wing causes around the globe. It also shows his disdain for the people in Texas that are his constituents: he thinks they're fools, and probably wants to run for president again on the gravy train of lunacy Orange Satan built. The Republican Party genuinely fear their own base. They've stoked them every time a Democrat ascends to the presidency that the great purge of "coming to take your guns" is around the corner, any minute now. There were more guns sold during the Obama administration than the current imbecilic nightmare. I assume gun industry sales will improve apace.

The irony is, Parler is a completely enclosed silo. Part of the perverse joy of social media by sociopaths is "owning the libs," a badge of honor after frustrating arguments back and forth on a platform that you get blocked. Similar I'm sure, to throwing pollutants in the air from smokestacks on trucks, thinking oneself immune from the effects on Earth-Two. There are few "libs" on Parler to own. It also shows the tech company's regard for the intelligence of conservatives is limited, but they can see an opportunity, like most snake oil salesmen and conmen, to make a fast buck off gullible marks.

You cannot measure a sporting achievement without a knowledge of the rules, and adherence to them to make a judgment on performance.

You cannot have a STEM field without knowing the foundations of its knowledge, what is, and is not possible, and adherence to The Scientific Method to make an evaluation of the outcome of an experiment, and the world.

You cannot have a Democratic Republic with truth decay. To list them together is an oxymoron. Unless your ultimate goal is a fascist state.

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