Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Our fate is being decided in Beijing and Moscow... and a New York courtroom. And Pelosi's pacing.

I'll finish with a note about AOC and Pelosi and our need for masterful timing...

... but begin with a reminder. Within two weeks, I will publish my e-book POLEMICAL JUDO: MEMES FOR A POLITICAL KNIFE FIGHT.

It will offer 100+ tricky or blunt weapons that could add to our arsenal in this desperate fight for civilization. Keep alert for announcements so you can pre-order!

== While all the attention is on Washington and Syria... == 

... there are three other world capitals where the destinies of America and the West and the Enlightenment Experiment are being decided. 

First: Xi's Choice: Destroy Trump - or save him and weaken America. Shall the Chinese give Trump a huge "victory" to crow about, in a new trade deal that might salvage his failing poll numbers? That would possibly allow DT further opportunities to continue his all-out campaign to weaken us by destroying all fundamentals, our alliances and sciences, civil service, innovative industries and moral high ground. 

Or else, Xi can stand his ground and let Trump's trade war trigger an economic downturn. That finishes off Trump, though at some pain to the Chinese economy, as well, though protecting current trade practices..

Moscow isn't the same. The Putin-led mafia-cabal that owns old Two Scoops has only has some overlapping interests with the Chinese politburo: they are wary allies, knowing they'll eventually confront each other, after America is brought low. So Xi has a serious tradeoff to ponder. This article is flawed-but-plausible thinking outside the standard box.

Of course Trump is absolutely proved to be a Kremlin asset. In the last week he handed  the Kurds over to Turkey, with Russian military forces occupying former US bases, cementing Turkish President Erdogan's alliance with Moscow and completing Putin's control over an arc stretching from Crimea and Ankara to Lataika and Syria, through Iraq to Tehran. 

I've worried about what Putin will do, when Trump ceases to be useful. When he's for-sure a liability, demolishing the Republican Party that the KGB and mafia-oligarchs have so thoroughly suborned. When that happens, how do you cast aside the liability, without unleashing a livid-living Trump to turn his rally-mobs against the GOP? Well, the former(?) KGB agent has a standard fallback, turning Donald into a martyr. (God bless the Secret Service!) I had imagined that point to be imminent, as Trump's polls collapse. But this last week showed clearly there's lots more benefit (U.S. destruction) to be got from him. 

(What the FBI should be intensely interested in is HOW Trump coordinated with Erdogan and Putin. Seriously, via Giuliani? Codewords during DT's calls with Vlad? You think he can remember code words? Unless...)

What neither Putin nor Xi can comprehend is the degree to which we've been protected by a rule-of-law tradition that has augmented across 250 years. Moreover, despite the "Roberts Doctrine" that may protect some White House traitors from subpoenas, there are already hemorrhages as civil servants ignore orders to appear before Congress.

And there awaits big news from a New York courtroom.

 == Follow the Money ==

I don't give much damn about the tax returns, which are likely just embarrassing. But there is a potential "big one" that'd reveal criminal money laundering in the range of tens of billions. Deutsche Bank, it is back in the news. House Democrats have subpoenaed the bank to hand over the financial records of Trump, his family, and his company. Trump sued to block the subpoenas, but in April U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that the subpoenas were valid and could be enforced. Trump appealed.

Trump's lawyers argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan that the Democrats are just trying to damage him and have no valid legislative reason for seeing all the records. House lawyers said that Congress has investigative powers as well as legislative powers and needs the records to see if there has been money laundering and foreign meddling in U.S. elections. 

Ah, let us see if it is officially revealed that the funds that both rescued Trump Inc. and meddled in our elections came from any or all of Roman Abramovich, Alexander Abramov, Oleg Deripaska, Mikhail Prokhorov, Alisher Usmanov, German Khan, Viktor Vekselberg, Leonid Mikhelson, Vagit Alekperov, Mikhail Fridman, Vladimir Potanin, Pyotr Aven, and Vitaly Malkin. And yet more Lenin-raised, Marxism-reciting – then suddenly mafiosi -- overlords, many of the KGB-trained, but suddenly “great guys” to the mad American right.

Moreover, this is also being fought in state courts. (God bless New York!) And here's the deal. All it will take is one civil servant, at say the IRS, or one bank inspector or fed-up Deutsche Bank employee or EU auditor to -- when served by a legal subpoena -- decide to say "okay!" instead of primly waiting for the appeal to cross Roberts's bench. 

In fact, hold that thought. Because it points to a way for Pelosi and Schiff and Nadler to bypass the courts entirely, should John Roberts decide to go full monty with his Non-Justiciable Doctrine.

== Details... details... ==

Meanwhile The Washington Post has discovered that in the 5 years before becoming president, Trump borrowed (at least) $360 million from Deutsche Bank for his hotels in D.C. and Chicago and his Doral golf resort in Florida. The loans all have variable interest rates, so a 1% drop in interest rates would save Trump $3.6 million per year on these loans alone.

There’s a word for this kind of person. “Pompeo warned Trump would be an 'authoritarian president' in 2016. Now he's one of Trump's most loyal and trusted advisors.” Why? One word. Dominionism. He is timing his loyalty to suit his future master: Mike Pence. They have to time things just right.

But... but... why on Earth would Trump rescind the Bush-era policies encouraging shift to efficient and superior-in-all-ways LED light bulbs? Not even any industry moguls pushed for this. “The most plausible explanation is that Trump knows his base will cheer him for "owning the libs." In fact, much of what he does seems to be designed to make liberals' blood boil, rather than achieving any policy goal that Trump cares about.” 

== A great judge of character? =

President Donald Trump tweet-fired national security adviser John Bolton as he "strongly disagreed with many" of Bolton's suggestions." "I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week," Trump wrote. 

“Trump has plowed through an unprecedented number of national security professionals while multiple geopolitical crises have played out. The President has had three national security advisers -- Bolton, Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster. He has summarily fired a secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, by tweet after undercutting the former ExxonMobil CEO for months. Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned, reportedly in frustration over Trump's decision to pull out of Syria. … “The President has also churned through two Homeland Security secretaries, John Kelly and Kirstjen Nielsen, and a National Security Agency director, Mike Rogers. He's lost a deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland and an ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his deputy, Sue Gordon, left their posts last month." (And I clipped this 2 weeks ago, before the latest firings!)

"Bolton's departure comes as tensions with Iran are escalating in the Persian Gulf, North Korea continues to develop its weapons capabilities, arms control experts are warning of a potential nuclear arms race with Russia and trade tensions with China are intensifying, while Trump is discussing a drawdown of forces in Afghanistan.”

Some comment that this does seem to mean that Trump (unlike all past GOP presidents since Ike) is not a big fan of actual hot war. It suggests that saber waving at Iran might not go all the way to a Tonkin-Gulf style provocation. (Still, get ALL the folks you know to look up "Tonkin Incident" and "Gleiwitz" and "Reichstag Fire.")

But the towering point that no pundit or politician seems ready to make is that Mr. “Great Judge of Character” has been ‘betrayed” by more former Great Guys than any twenty other presidents, combined. Set aside the lies and treason and turpitude. Great judge of character is what bites home. They have no answer for that.

== AOC and Nancy and timing ==

I am a fan of AOC and I am glad the DP "Roosevelt wing" is very active. Still, it is vital to avoid splitterism and falling for tricks to harm our enlightenment-patriotic coalition against the Putinist Cabal. Especially, all this piling onto Nancy Pelosi is both unfair and intemperate/shortsighted -- an example of 'sumo' politics that always, always falls into Republican traps. The Judo approach requires timing. Those who question Pelosi's courage or determination bear a steep burden of proof. Under what scenario do they even imagine she is shy over combat? Of course she is being strategic! Why assume anythings else? What matters now is NOT going for formal impeachment, followed by a failed Senate vote. What matters is: 

1- that formal impeachment hearings might corner Chief Justice John Roberts into ruling in favor of Congressional subpoenas, since that is a process specifically described in the the Constitution. This is paramount! Nothing else matters as much, because once the subpoenas and hearings are unleashed, the Trumpists face evisceration. (And we must be prepared with a plan in case Roberts betrays us.)

2- that the impeachment process must NOT wind up being seen as just "revenge for Clinton," allowing the Red Base to rally around their martyr. If you think it will be enough just to defeat the GOP in 2020, you have ZERO memory of 2010 and 1994 when they came roaring back. They must be crushed for all this criminality and treason, and removing Trump a couple of months early is less urgent.

3- If you want a huge symbolic victory, then TIME impeachment so that the senate trial is held in the NEW Senate that takes hold a couple of weeks before inauguration in 2020. Think about that.

4- tune the meaning. A tsunami of corruption revelations during 2020 will win us defections from the confederacy, while a Senate trial that happens BEFORE those defections will win us an earthquake of Timothy McVeighs. Above all, our audience is the so called "deep state" - a fictitious, slanderous term for the brave and devoted men and women who have been preserving the republic by adhering to the law, during a lawless regime. If they see us dotting the i’s while revealing crimes, we keep them loyal.

5- Pence. OMG have folks any concept of reality at all? Trump is largely cauterized by his own blithering moronic behavior. Pence gets in and all damage to the Republican brand goes away as he smoothly croons about peace and reconciliation, winning large numbers of relieved officers back into the GOP fold... the leaky Trump White House gets replaced by one packed by Pence with devout Book of Revelations Dominionists, utterly disciplined and dedicated to the end of the world. 

Literally. Absolutely and literally. The end of the world

Pace yourselves. Radicalize! Fight! By getting your neighbors ready with tumbrels and torches.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Space marvels - and possibilities

I don't know how much longer I'll be able to offer science and space news, as the crisis of survival of civilization gets crazier and more dangerous, daily. I promise some cool space news, below!

But first... Donald Trump's possibly worst treason, hidden under so much else! I'd talk about how the troops sent to Saudi and the Iranian ship hit by "missiles" all point to a return to an Iran-US dog-wag war. (Remind all your friends of the terms "Tonkin Incident" and 'Gleiwitz' and Reichstag fire. BUT THERE'S NO TIME! I'd get you all to insist the nation's mayors demand huge deposits before any Trump rally gets permits, since they stiff the taxpayers. BUT THERE'S NO TIME! Because something far more important is up!

Yes, a bigger danger. Trump appears to be about to pull the U.S. out of the Open Skies Treaty, by far the most-important arms control compact and the one Dwight Eisenhower prayed for (for all our sakes) till the day he died. Like with the IRBM treaty Trump abrogated, the one wanting this to end is the puppet master Vladimir Putin. Dig it, the KGB (it's renamed version) can already track goings on in the US. The treaty favors us, vastly! And that's why Putin has ordered his puppet to end it. (The IRBM treaty also favored us, hence Trump went 'siegheil comrade' and pulled out.) It is time for eminent officers to tactically and carefully and slowly but emphatically resign-and-speak. This relatively unmentioned move - hidden by other headlines - may be the most dangerous Trumpian Treason of all.

== The Universe goes on, magnificently... though maybe soon without us... ==

A second confirmed visitor from interstellar space appears this time to be a comet about 10 kilometers across as it appears to have a visible tail. Unlike Ou'muamua, this one is not only about six times brighter but is also making its way into the Solar System at about 30 kilometers per second, giving us a much longer period of time to study it.

Didn't expect this for a couple of years. Water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere of a super-Earth in a red dwarf's goldilocks zone. We are amazing. And we should be capable of wresting back the revolution that led to all these wonders.

Hayabusa! The Japanese spacecraft at asteroid Ryugo has done it again. Performed difficult sample collecting maneuvers flawlessly. They'd be great partners for NASA to head out and do valuable, exciting new things, instead of joining a crowded field of Apollo wannabes aiming to plant dusty footprints (with zero prospect for benefits) that our ancestors achieved half a century ago. Boldly go. Ikimasho!

Speaking of rocks. Japanese scientists have calculated that the dinosaur-killer asteroid would have ejected  billions of tons of life-bearing meteorites into space. Further, a A previous study found that more Earth ejecta must end up in interstellar space than all the other planets combined. As much ejecta would have ended up on Europa as on the Moon: around 100 million individual Earth rocks in some scenarios. That’s because the huge gravitational field around Jupiter acts as a sink for rocks, which then get swept up by the Jovian moons as they orbit. If life evolved at just 25 different sites in the galaxy 10 billion years ago, the combined ejecta from these places would now fill the Milky Way.

== Steps toward Space Exploration ==

The Moon might be only 50 million years (an eyeblink) younger than Earth itself. The massive collision that tossed a lot of Earth’s crust into orbit, to settle into the Moon, appears to have occurred very early, not the 150 million years previously thought. The newborn Moon was covered in a magma ocean, which formed different types of rocks as it cooled. 'These rocks recorded information about the formation of the Moon, and can still be found today on the lunar surface,' says Dr Maxwell Thiemens, former University of Cologne researcher and lead author of the study. (Terrific work, Max!) Though it doesn’t change the fact that there are no “ores” on that barren dustpile, that is (for the foreseeable future) only good for tourism.

Hollow lava tubes almost certainly exist on the Moon and Mars – we count many openings – “skylights” whose bottoms aren’t plumbed by orbital scans. In fact NIAC has supported small research efforts aimed at exploring these potentially valuable cave systems, which could be crucial for supporting extended human presence, for much roomier habitats that are safer from temperature swings, radiation, meteorites and blowouts.  Most intriguing are pits inside Philolaus Crater near the north pole of the moon. "They might be skylights associated with a network of lava tubes formed not in volcanic lava flows, but in an impact melt sheet, the temporary pool of molten rock that ponded inside Philolaus Crater following the large impact that created the crater," combining the habitat attraction with water ice.

Caves may become important to the future of Mars exploration because they provide shelter from the entire range of harsh surface conditions while maintaining near-pristine interior surfaces and relatively stable microclimates. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter‘s (MRO) cameras have spotted hundred of “candidate” cave entrances, just in the area of the three Tharsis shield volcanoes. Many may just be shaded alcoves but even those offer opportunities for potential future explorers/colonists.  There’s also a chance that these sites have served as water-ice collection sites in places much more convenient than the polar craters where the sun never shines.

A pretty good article detailing how well-prepared humanity is, for discovering and appraising asteroids that might impact the Earth, especially two vital survey telescopes in Hawaii.  Alas, we are in more danger from comets, which can come in with little warning. But there’s work on that, as well. And the NGO-nonprofit you could join, to help prevent that particular catastrophe, is the B612 Foundation.

== Space tech ==

The Bigelow “inflatable” habitat modules keep getting more impressive.

Meanwhile, Collins Aerospace has unveiled its next generation spacesuit, which can be adapted to either micro-gee  or the lunar surface.

Vast sheets of ultra-light aerogel might be key to terraforming swathes of Mars. But there are tradeoffs. Strong enough to last decades? Then when they shred do they become ultimate pollution?

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity.

Soon to be released: Space Exploration: A History in 100 Objects - from Sputnik to Hubble and the Curiosity Rover, author Sten Odenwald visualizes the iconic objects that have enabled us to explore and see further into the cosmos. 

It’s widely believed that the Trump rush to get footprints on the moon is ego driven, to land before the end of his “second term.” But here we see another possible reason… An urgent hurry allows contracts to be given without abiding by competitive bidding and evaluation rules. I’m not saying this is so! But in light of what happened in Iraq, when Bush-Cheney family logistics companies were the beneficiaries of “emergency” no-bid contracts to the order of tens of billions, we should be wary.

Airbus, Boeing, and SoftBank are now developing stratospheric autonomous drones, capable of flying at (and even above) 60,000 feet. Intended to fly for months without intervention, the drones could deliver imaging and even internet services from above.

A new kind of space elevator would evade some of the safety and materials worries of earlier concepts. The Spaceline would be tethered to the surface of the Moon and dangle down into geostationary orbit around the Earth like a plumb bob. “Instead of rocketing all the way out of orbit, astronauts would only need to reach the end point of the Spaceline, cutting back the cost and challenge of rocket launches. Once it reaches the vacuum of space, free of terrestrial gravity and atmospheric pressure, the spacecraft would meet up with the cable and latch onto a solar-powered shuttle that would climb along its length."

My own concept for a moon-anchored space elevator goes in the opposite direction… outward away from Earth, and yet it would serve a similar function… plus one more, over the course of millions of years. Saving the Earth!

We can do all those things! But first -- save civilization.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

A Big-Bold Book of Best-of-Brin Blogs... about Political Judo! 100+ tactics we should be using.

By popular demand, I am creating a quick e-book that merges many of my political postings under the following title:


A Brazen Guide for Sane Americans to Charge Past
 Trench Warfare in Our Life or Death Struggle for Civilization

Sound interesting? See the table of contents, below! Then offer comments/suggestions if you feel so moved. But first a few samples -- examples of how to do "judo" against the treason.

(1) Let's assume Chief Justice John Roberts will use the Court's right wing majority to uphold his clever Roberts Doctrine, of "non-interference between the legislative and executive," allowing GOP henchmen to refuse House subpoenas on lame and unprecedented excuses. They think their passive fait accompli resistance will stymie all investigation and oversight. But there's a judo move that Schiff and Nadler can try. It means appealing to the Fourth Branch of government. It would work. (You might guess what it is from clues... or read it in  the book.)

(2) Here's another judo move that could help empower Congressional committees, now stymied by Trumpist defiance of legal subpoenas. To unleash a tsunami of revelations, announce that your committee will offer immunity for testimony by anyone who has an NDA - or Non-Disclosure Agreement - with Donald Trump. He's bragged about his Great Wall of punitive-protective NDAs. Shatter it and let the revelations spill. (Michael Cohen will tell you who to approach.)

(3) Will anyone ever stand up to the "Fake News" meme, at long last? Lists of "pinnocchio lies" and "fact-checkers" don't work; foxites just call them biased. That tactic can be neutralized in three ways

- At an elevated level, demand - repeatedly - that Trump or Fox etc. name five eminent and widely respected conservative sages to sit on a commission to vet fact-checking services for impartiality, alongside eminent liberals and neutrals. They won't dare offer five names, of course, because 'eminent conservatives' betray the party line with upsetting regularity. But their evasions will hurt them!  Squirming to evade this reasonable demand -- if it's repeated in a pounding refrain -- will start looking cowardly. And that is how you undermine the base.

- Defy rightists to name even one fact-centered profession they aren't waging open war against, from science and journalism to teaching and medicine, all the way to a purported "deep state" of ten million civil servants, FBI and Intel and military officers, all supposedly in cahoots. (While of course Putin, MBS, Murdoch  and Goldman-Sach would never collude.) Hammer them with "Why do your top enemies always happen to be professions that use facts?"

- At a lower level, reporters who get 'fake news!' hurled at them need to respond: "Sir, that is a direct attack on my integrity and I demand your staff support the assertion factually by tomorrow morning. Now getting back to my question..." Again one sentence. Used just once or twice, it accomplishes nothing. Hammered every time? It will devastate his illusion of macho strength.

(4) All right. This one is really immature... almost Trumpian! But it shows the wide range of judo moves that I describe in Polemical Judo - more than a hundred that you've never seen a Democratic politician or neutral pundit apply against this madness. Want it anyway? Okay then, at the bottom... even trolling... end of things, here's a ploy that might garner instant national attention, huge press and infuriate ol' Two Scoops more than anything that ever happened in his life.

Picture one mid level Democratic politician holding a news conference to denounce fellow Democrats for their unsympathetic pestering of an addled old man who clearly qualifies for extra care and kindness under the Americans with Disabilities Act...

I mean it. Close your eyes and imagine that satirical taunt being drawn out, again and again, with an almost straight face. Even those who don't 'get it' at first will catch on, when Trump responds with hysterical, volcanic fury, ironically proving it's true! What a tweet-storm that dig would rouse from Two Scoops! 

Remember, Trump's support base rests entirely upon a delusion that he's strong! The toughness of a Junior High School bully. Repeated expressions of pity would more than gall him into hysterics. It will undermine the fellow’s one pillar of support – the superficial appearance of macho “strength.”

Risky? Sure. But oh, so tasty. And that shows you the range of contents in Polemical Judo, which will offer up (I promise) scores of tactics and maneuvers -- from high-end to low -- that you've not seen (alas!) anywhere other than the pages of Contrary Brin.

== Scan the contents! ==

Below, in the table of contents, many of you long time netizens of Contrary Brin will recognize some of the component blogs chosen for this volume.  Speak up if you have a favorite that appears to have been skipped.

Missing from this TOC are many riffs between chapters that dive into familiar themes like Blackmail, Emergency Readiness, Adam Smith and Heinlein. But all of those will be there in the full book, as well.  

In this TOC, you'll find links to many of the earlier blog postings and magazine articles I've revised and spliced together into (I hope) a cohesive manual for agile politics.

Avidly vigorous pre-readers are already at work. We hope for an e-book very soon.

POLEMICAL JUDO -- Table of contents

Chapter 1           Intro – Americans (left, center
                           and saner right) must learn Judo Polemic 

Chapter 2           Beliefs we share, like suspicion of authority

Chapter 3           Profiles In Judo - IThe Greatest Generation, Adam Smith,  Jonas Salk, Lincoln and… AOC


Chapter 4           End the Cheating First 

Chapter 5           The War on All Fact People  


Chapter 6           Credibility? How Often the Right Has Just Been Wrong

Chapter 7           Oh, the Conspiracies!

Chapter 8           Poison and Antidote - Blackmailers, Henchmen and Whistleblowers

Chapter 9         America’s place in the world. Part 1: Pax Americana and the Rise of China

                        ISSUES THAT MATTER TO FACTIONS 

Chapter 10       Government is the problem?   
                                    Plus… Emergency Readiness and Resilience
Chapter 11       Economics – No, you don’t get Adam Smith… and Other Rationalizations 

Chapter 12       Unreliable Allies: Overcoming Splitterism    
                    Plus… Not just Adam Smith. Goldwater, Hayek and Heinlein… steal their icons!

Chapter 13       Can We make a Deal? “What Would Adults Do?”

Chapter 14       America’s place in the world Part 2:
                                Russia and the need for allies and high moral ground

Chapter 15       Hammer the macho with Wagers! The Name an Exception Challenge 

                        CIVIL WAR

Chapter 16       Our 250 year Family Feud – “Phase 8 of the Civil War?”   

Chapter 17       Exit Strategies – Impeachment, Indictment, the 25thAmendment and all that.