Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Will Trump “veer to Center?”…and… Al Franken For 'Designated Trump!'

I'll offer some crit on the democrats at the end.  But first...

Following up on the Republican convention, were you puzzled by… or even cynically dismissive of… The Donald's LGBT remark and Ivanka's feminist riff? I take a less jaundiced view, deeming those to be much more than just perfunctory toss-offs. Indeed, they were likely significant moments, testing the waters for how big a “veer to the center” the Trumps can get away with in the general election campaign.

Both of them know that their confederate followers love to wrap themselves in virtue and to shout: "we're not the bigots, liberals are!" Remember, there’s almost no evidence in Donald Trump’s past suggesting that this cynical, Svengali-manipulator actually believes any of the racist stuff he’s been spouting. (Sexism, sure. But even that may be complicated.)

I’ve long held it plausible that he might backtrack from any polemical device that no longer suits his purpose. He’s done it before.  (Remember the ‘birther” stuff?)

Recall how last year – before any pundit took a Trump nomination seriously - I predicted that primary-season candidate Trump would evolve, after nomination, into something else. A protean opportunist, DT will fine-tune the message and narrative. Indeed, he could shift a number of standard right wing positions -- e.g. toward gays -- and his followers will lap it up!  

With the perfect Tea Partier Mike Pence guarding Trump's right flank, you can expect him to veer toward center in carefully chosen ways. 

In fact, there'd be a silver lining for the entire nation to his candidacy, if Donald - in the debates - suddenly announced "I've studied harder" and that he ‘now understands’ the deep-rooted flaws in climate denialism and anti-science campaigns and supply side 'voodoo economics.’ Shrugging aside any inconsistency with his patented insouciance, he’d simply say “that’s behind us now…” just like all his old birther obsessions and both calamitous Bush presidencies. (Bush who?)

Any other candidate who flipped like that would suffer, but not DT. And millions of his followers would imitate his blithe shrug. “Denying climate change? Oh, we’re not doing that anymore. Move on. And anyone mentioning the word “Bush” is just digging up the past.”

Heck, do not be shocked if he suddenly, at a debate, declared support for legalizing pot! Even though only blue or bluish states have done it so far, and no other GOP officeholder has done anything but oppose, I doubt his evangelical base would raise a peep. And he could grab another 2% of the vote at a swoop, unless HC is ready.

Sidestep the Obamacare issue by suddenly supporting Medicare for everybody? I am telling you, he can reach out with grabs like that and barely shake his base. They are not Trump supporters because of past-failed GOP policies. He is their caudillo - that is enough.

When this happens at a debate, Hillary Clinton must not stare in shock, or leap to accuse him of flopping. The dems would be fools not to practice and carefully advance-calibrate HC's reaction to such zinger surprises. (And Donald loves surprises!) Indeed, it might make sense to congratulate him on shifting the GOP permanently from one or two insanities.

Anyway what has he got to lose, by dropping fact-disproved manias like denialism and Supply Side?  Making Kochs, Saudis and Murdochians mad at him? This is Trump’s party. For now. Screw em.

== Will he really do that? ==

Now, let me admit that I have been forced to backtrack a bit. Ever since I made my prediction -- that DT would perform some sudden, surprise veers to center. I first offered that prediction when it seemed that his core trait was fiercely intelligent, manipulative self-control.

Ah well. That was then. In the months since, we have witnessed that Donald Trump’s primary personality trait is emotional, mercurial impulsiveness and utter lack of discipline. Sure, he’s still a feral genius at polemics! But for that reason, I have backed off somewhat from betting for a center-veer. I’m no longer offering even-odds. 

Despite his and Ivanka’s testing the waters in Cleveland, a genuine center-veer would require laser-like focus, which we now can see DT lacks.  Still, I do offer 1:2 odds that some such judo surprises are in the offing.

That is why I am hoping Hillary Clinton chooses as her debate-prep surrogate opponent...

== Tagliani to the rescue ==

... Minnesota Senator Al Franken, a man of supreme, caustic wit, a trained actor-comedian and someone who could channel the Donald role with ferocity, even having fun with it during the many rehearsals.

Which means he will have to jar and insult and rattle HC, teaching her to answer judo with judo. As Designated Trump, Franken will have the role of a lifetime, and it will test HC’s vaunted ability to shrug off almost anything. Which is why it may take guts on her part (but tons of brains) to give him this job that he was born for.

My own message to Senator Franken... or whomever HC chooses for Designated Donald ... include some surprising center-veers in your repertoire! 

Trump has shown he has no firm principles, at all. So 'channel' an opponent with the agility of a mercurial psychopath. (I’ve stored up some great zingers… but no one will be asking me.)

Al Franken (AKA Pete Tagliani*) can do this. 

== The missing word ==

Did anyone else notice the absence of a particular word, at the GOP convention?  It was missing, almost the entire time, avoided like some horrible, infection.  Which of course it was, for almost half of the last 26 years. 

A word that was synonymous with Republicanism and deserves to remain so, since it says so much about their style and outcomes of governance. A word that every single speaker strove feverishly to distract us from remembering.


And make no mistake. Though he avoids mentioning the two worst presidents of our lifetime (and I include Nixon), Donald Trump would appoint thousands of Bush factotums back into positions of power, going back to that noxiously corrupt and poisonous well. When a party is deeply ashamed of its last two presidents, shall we deem it likely they need some time away from power, to think things out?

Oh, but thinking is no longer what it's about.

== Ah, the Donald ==

Who knows a person better than the ghostwriter of his/her autobiography?

Your spouse is biased - either positive or negative (in a decent marriage- both! ;-) - as are business partners and siblings. But a skilled biographer who spent weeks and months with you, attempting to channel your 'voice', your philosophy, the crises you overcame and your sense of self? That's intimate and deeply knowing. Most biographers wind up identifying with their subjects, conveying empathy/sympathy for them. Especially biographers who do a great job making you look and sound like a billion bucks.

Ah. But now see how Donald Trump's ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal - the best-seller that helped make DT a major public figure - speaks out.

Trump seems to have forgotten that he didn't really write the book. Moreover, the actual (ghost) writer, Tony Schwartz, now says that he would gladly rename it The Sociopath. (Bear in mind that by breaking his silence clause, the author exposes himself to a HUGE Trump-patented lawsuit. So this takes some guts.)

== Calling on a gifted artist! ==

Remember the Disney musical Mary Poppins? Well, the following excerpt from one of the songs has only one word altered.

“Come feed the little birds,
         Show them you care
                  And you’ll be glad if you do
Their young ones are hungry
         Their nests are so bare
                  All it takes is trumppence from you.

“Feed the birds, trumppence a bag
Trumppence, trumppence, trumppence a bag
Feed the birds, that’s what she cries
While overhead, her birds fill the skies.”

So, might a satirical cartoonist show that the “little birds” are billionaire coal and oil and Wall street barons? And the skies filling with pollution? Just sayin’.

And finally…

== The Democrats' turn ==

Bernie’s terrific DNC speech had one chief flaw. He did not zero in hard on Congress.  For 20 of the last 22 years, under Ryan, Boehner and McConnell, the GOP-led Congress has been the laziest, most worthless legislature in US history, especially since their beloved (now a convicted child molester) Dennis Hastert declared a rule to “never negotiate!” even (especially) when legislation might benefit the American people.

Bernites need to recognize that their campaign for a friend in the White House will only be 75% successful with HC elected. Tough. So? That also means maybe 80% satisfaction with the Supreme Court picks. Aw, poor babies.

What this means is the right place to shift their radical energy - especially in non-battleground states - is state and local and congressional races, where the liars who have hijacked the GOP must be ejected, finally reviving our legislative branch of government and transforming many states from dens of cheating into islands of progress for their citizens. (Thus enabling our conservative neighbors to re-evaluate and return to a saner version of their movement.)

The presidency is just one piece.  If you got Bernie in the White House, and no change in Congress, all you'd have won is four years of whining-kvetching. I know.  Bernie is an almost perfect clone of my dad.

Stop whining. Stop kvetching.  Listen to Bernie. Go down ticket, where politics is really done.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Space Tech: Near-term and far-reaching, including ... Phobos!

Less than a month from now I'll be back on duty with NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (on the External Council of advisers.) The next NIAC symposium, August 20 in Raleigh NC, is open to the public, by the way. And with that in mind - while seeking escape from loony Earthly politics) let's turn our attention skyward!

Arthur C. Clarke's famous novel, Rendezvous with Rama, depicted an alien starship hurtling through the solar system, which humans mistake for an asteroid, before discovering that it is something much more puzzling...

Now NIAC is working with Made in Space on Project RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata). This long-term proposal is looking into the feasibility of turning asteroid fragments into AI-powered spacecraft. These  'flying mining stations' could then be directed to more accessible orbital locations in order to efficiently access the minerals within. For more details, see Made in Space cofounder Jason Dunn's article, How We Want to Turn Asteroids into Spacecraft. 

The Benford boys give an interview about proposals to create starships for interstellar travel, during the lifetimes of some of you. On the podcast show, "From Here to the Stars," Jim Benford explains what kinds of beam-driven sailing vessels might be possible fairly soon. 

Puzzled by the purported "EM Drive"? I'm a skeptic, but some of the ideas proposed - to wriggle around measly quibbles like conservation of momentum - are indeed clever. Guys should write sci fi!

Some bold envisioning from Popular Science's Spaceship Design Contest winners!

The United Arab Emirates plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to Mars. They hope it will be the first probe created by an Islamic country to reach the red planet. They will work together with NASA. 

== Closer to Earth ==

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Aerospace is building a giant airplane in the Mojave Desert for carrying rockets to 35,000 feet adding to their oomph into space.  It has twin fuselages - most of a 747 would feet in between them - joined across the top by a massive wing, more than 1 hundred meters across.  Howard Hughes eat it.

Two cannibalized 747s make up much of the working portions, including cockpit and engines. Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites has experience with twin fuselaged aircraft. They built for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic the much smaller but also dual-hulled White Knight Two, the mothership used to launch a small suborbital vehicle carrying passengers. With a rocket attached, Allen's aircraft will weigh 1.3 million pounds, equal to a fully loaded giant Airbus A380. Possible rollout next year.

Interesting article on some of NASA’s forthcoming  series of “X-plane” test beds for new aviation technologies.  In June, while participating in NIAC meetings, I also spoke at the DC meeting of the AIAA on a panel about the “Future of Military Aviation,” where I pointed out how many decades it has been since the public got to see something ground-breaking out of any of the top secret "skunk works" research centers.  

Video: ride the SpaceX first stage back down to a barge landing!  Okay coolness just popped up a notch. This time a camera onboard recorded Elon's fourth successful rocket re-landing and the time-lapse video is nothing less than amazing.  

You are a member of a species doing stuff like this! 

After an initial failure, NASA inflated the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, an essential tech for human-crewed spaceflight. And we are on our way to 2016 being as terrific a year for our outward progress as fantastic-2015 was.

The venerable Hubble Space Telescope is doing so well that NASA has extended its science mission until 2021, even after the James Webb Telescope is launched in 2018.

A detailed update on flying cars(!) which seem about to launch (at last) into their golden age. One company – run by the non-Brin other owner of Google – seems to have real legs. 

A fascinating article on how we seem to be creeping ever closer to a dangerous possibility of war in space, as depicted in P.W. Singer and August Cole’s novel Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War.  I suspect that one of NASA’s long range programs may be partly inspired by a need for deep protection of assets, out there. 

== Resources from Phobos or the moon? ==

I’ve long believed that the Russians are right about Phobos… that the larger moon of Mars is one of the most valuable sites in the solar system. Ideally situated to serve as a logistics hub for visiting the Red Planet, it would offer a radiation-shielded base for humans and a supply and refueling center.  The capstone would be if Phobos has a lot of volatile deposits – ideally water. If so, then In Situ Resource Utilization or ISRU could multiply its value ten-fold, allowing us to ship Mars landers empty and fuel them with locally made propellants. (After landing, they could then top off from ISRU auto-factories pre-set on the Martian surface.) Eliminating fuel and life support water from the transport loop would make Mars trips viable.

Hence finding out more about Phobos is vital!  Yet, the failure of the Russian GRUNT mission left a void in this department. Are there volatiles? We thought so, when reflectance data suggested Phobos might be a carbonaceous chondritic asteroid, but orbital considerations make that seem almost impossible.  See where it’s now thought the Mars satellites formed from material blown off the planet by some long ago impact which, I fear, might mean they are as dry as our bone-dead moon. Alack.

== We drag $%#! politics into everything... ==

There is a mythology going around that, even if the Republican Party is waging outright war against most kinds of science, at least they like space! Indeed, GOP led Congresses have given NASA small increases, over the years. 

But this is misleading. Both President Bush and the Boehner-Ryan Congresses yanked the money back by commanding earmarks for very specific and spectacularly useless endeavors.

Take the Constellation programa lavish effort to simply re-create Apollo and go back to the moon, achieving no forward-purpose, whatsoever. Since there was no major new funding, this meant stealing from every other realm in NASA, especially technological development programs... the seed corn for our real future in space.  These were slashed ferociously.

When the Obama Administration canceled that loony-lunar boondoggle, it seemed the money might be spent on actual missions to explore the cosmos.  Instead, Congress in 2010 imposed a restoration of core elements of Constellation, called the Space Launch System (SLS), resurrecting many Space Shuttle components for a system without any mission on the near or intermediate horizons. The GOP-run House and Senate have since imposed increases in the SLS budget, mostly at the expense of science missions.  

All of this against a backdrop of success in the Obama endeavor to spin off and commercialize orbital launch services to private companies like SpaceX, which are developing capabilities at a vastly quicker rate.  

So the Senate is telling NASA to hurry up and build a rocket for which it has no real use for human exploration in the 2020s. Unfortunately, once the rocket is built, the expenses don't end. Ground crews must be kept ready, supply lines kept open, and contractors taken care of. These fixed costs can be enormous. For the space shuttle, those costs amounted to about $2.5 billion annually—whether the vehicle flew or not…” reports Eric Berger in Ars Technica.  So much for the  party that opposes government boondoggles.  Though part of it is pure pork: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), wants SLS because it is managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. And MSFC has been Instrumental for 30 years in  systematically preventing humans from getting into space.

== Mining Asteroids ==

Recall I mentioned countries helping companies prepare for the new space gold rush? Luxembourg is partnering with California-based Deep Space Industries to produce a spacecraft that will test many features necessary for asteroid mining. The module, known as Prospector X, will consist of three coupled cube satellites, or cube-sats. (This article is mistaken on the dimensions.) 

And a bigger dog wants this bone, too. “Asteroid mining was taken a step closer to reality last year when President Barack Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act into law, allowing companies to keep what they take from outer space, and Luxembourg says it plans to enact a similar legal framework.” 

Interesting article about Nathan Myhrvold meddling in asteroid studies... a good read. Once the chief technologist at Microsoft, Dr. Myhrvold claims research from several NASA and other instruments has misjudged the albedo and thus the size of many asteroids. Created quite a stir... and check out the rebuttals.

A new book by Michael K. Shepard, Asteroids: Relics of Ancient Time, delves into the science and importance of asteroids and meteorites, how these relics provide clues to the origins and evolution of the solar system. Shepard looks at the spacecraft that have begun to provide stunning close-up views of asteroids, giving us insight into the valuable minerals that groups such as Planetary ResourcesDeep Space Industries and Made in Space seek to access in the near future. 

June 30 was Asteroid Day - a global awareness campaign to emphasize the importance of monitoring asteroids that could pose potential hazards to Earth. This is the goal of B612's Sentinel Mission - an infrared space telescope that would catalog and track Earth-crossing asteroids. 

And finally...

Much of Mongolia lacks street addresses, so the government commissioned a British startup to overhaul its postal system. What3Words has generated a three word identifier to each 9 square meter plot of the planet. You can locate the White House at Engine.Doors.Cubs. One of the words in my own new address? Spaceship. 

A fascinatingly frank discussion of “periods in space.” 

Oh, that panel on the future of military aviation at the AIAA conference in DC in June? You can watch it here. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Revisiting Adam Smith... and surprising trends in modern capitalism

For a decade I have been urging that we need to revive a conversation about Adam Smith, who was anything but the promoter of ruthless laissez-faire that today’s right proclaims. In the last year or so, especially on sites like Evonomics, ever-more economists and scholars have been gathering around this idea -- showing how Smith understood essentials – e.g. that aristocracy and oligarchy have always been the great enemies of open and creative markets. Now an academic work parses Smith in detail, showing that this Founder of our western enlightenment experiment was not values-averse or even values-neutral in his descriptions of healthy capitalism. See: Will the Real A. Smith Please Stand Up, by Matthias P. Huhn and Claus Dierksmeier in the Journal of Business Ethics.

This re-examination of Smith is long overdue. And our era’s oligarchs need this tonic more than anyone. For if they fail to understand the real Adam Smith – along with the moderate, benign Rooseveltean reset that made markets fair and productive for a generation – then they risk seeing another pair of names rising louder in our percept. Marx and Robespierre.

Among those rediscovering Smith, take this article from Evonomics: “Market Capitalism is Broken: Why Adam Smith Would be Outraged by Modern Finance,” interviewing CNN global economics correspondent Rana Foroohar about her book: Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. 

Today Adam Smith would clearly be a democrat. No social-darwinist or laissez-faire fool, Smith reminds us that competition that is unregulated is always, always spoiled by cheaters. (The party of cheaters has no right to sully his name by even speaking it.) 

Republicans: study about Smith. See why capitalism and market enterprise – which generated our vast wealth – are top victims of the monstrous oligarchs who have hijacked your movement. 

Libertarians: relearn that ‘competition’ should be your keyword and not slavish propertarianism!  As for bureaucrats, while dangerous (I freely admit!) they have never ever been as awful enemies of freedom as feudal oligarchs were. And are.

More? Smith was the First Liberal! You are right that the flagrant-horrid surge of cheating must be stopped... but accept also that enterprise and competitive markets made the wealth that enabled us to do so much for people. Democratic administrations always (always!) do better with the economy.  Learn to brag about that.

Oh, as part of this huge trend... just released: Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? Swedish journalist Katrine Mar├žal looks at women's often overlooked ‘invisible hand’ in the economy. She aptly deals not only with matters of justice but economic contradictions.  Like why does the GDP go down when an industrialist marries his housekeeper? See it reviewed in The New Republic

== Modern Banking ==

In 2015 IBM joined Intel, Cisco, the London Stock Exchange Group, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and others to form Hyperledger,an open source, blockchain-based project inspired by Bitcoin that the companies hope will one day provide a more secure and reliable way of trading stocks and other assets.

Goldman Sachs is entering retail consumer banking by letting even poor folks with just $1 open small accounts that will not (they say) be bled to death with nickel and dime charges. You can open a 401(k) even if you have credit card debt. Quite a shift for a 147 year old investment house known for catering to oligarchs. And at first sight there are potential benefits to Goldman (new customers and a better public image?) as well as the nation. Indeed, helping the poor to get clean bank accounts where they can cash their pay and evade the payday loan parasite industry is a goal that’s getting a lot of attention. 

Which is in part a reason to view this cynically. Goldman machers know that it’s likely that the next president and Congress will pay much closer heed to this problem.  There is talk of restoring the Post Office’s former ability to serve as a last resort bank of basic needs – like depositing social security checks and paychecks -- the way it did for many years, and most European and Japanese postal offices still do.  Combine this with ATM access and autopayments, and much of the tension would go out of life for those folks. (Throw in more education in schools about simple financial wisdom and debt avoidance.)

The crux? These guys at Goldman are clever. Seeing that writing on the wall, they are moving on an opportunity and perhaps may limit the extent of Democratic banking reforms.

Oh, and now this. Should you even use paper checks, anymore? Or give others your bank account and routing number? Even though it moves much more money than all of the credit card companies combined, the system the U.S. uses to transfer cash in and out of bank accounts – the Automated Clearing House, or ACH – is in many ways less secure than the credit card system.

== Do nothing Congress ==

Let's not mince words. The last five GOP-led Congresses were packs of lazy-worthless do-nothings, who did not even strive to advance any conservative agendas. (Other than trillion$ wars and ripoffs of the middle class.) Well, they do one other thing well.  Sabotage governance. Doing everything in their power to make “inferior government service” a self-fulfilled prophecy.

“In fiscal terms, there's no earthly reason for Congress to be stingy with Social Security's administrative budget. The money comes out of workers' payroll taxes and the system's other revenue, not from the general treasury. The Social Security Administration is one of the government’s most efficient agencies, with a core administrative budget of 0.7% of benefits.” -- writes Michael Hiltzik  in the Los Angeles Times. 

Number one on the goppers’ hit list, the IRS. Since no one will step up and defend that agency, despite it being absolutely essential that the nerdy accountants do their jobs well.  The chief beneficiaries of slashes in the IRS budget? Top 0.001 percenters. Of course.

The latest figures on developed economies show the United States is in far better shape than other countries. Of course the American consumer has hauled the world out of four big recessions (arguably six). But the fact that we are doing so again, after the calamitously huge one of 2007, speaks well for the vigor and dynamism of Americans… and poorly for all the cynics who keep moaning and spewing pessimism.

"Output has surpassed its pre-crisis peak by 10 percent, robust private-sector employment gains have sharply reduced unemployment, and fiscal sustainability has been largely restored,” reports Marilyn Geewax on NPR News. The upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy included these points: the unemployment rate of 4.7 percent is back to pre-recession levels; the gender wage gap is at a record low; inflation is down; the financial sector is more stable; and more people have health care insurance. Oh and although governments and corporations (especially the latter) have added debt, middle class Americans have continued to de-leverage. Household debt burdens have gone down.

(See how the infamous US federal deficit accelerates or decelerates with almost perfect correlation to which party occupies the White House.)

But the study also concluded many problems have worsened: income inequality has widened; gains in educational performance have slowed; entrepreneurship is down; productivity is declining; and public infrastructure spending is inadequate.  (Fault for the latter is clear: had the GOP Congress not blocked infrastructure bills, our recovery would have been much stronger and faster… which is of course why they blocked infrastructure spending.  Remember who to blame as 14,000 bridges teeter and corrode.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rising wages and politics outside of Cleveland!

Amid the Cleveland Carnival -- with six (count-em) speakers named Trump, and Duck Dynasty stars replacing AWOL former presidents and statesmen, onstage -- I think it best to take some steps back from Ohio and give this week's political posting a wider perspective. I'll offer a final riff on Donald Trump at the end of this essay. But first --

Wages are rising... almost the last piece in the longest economic recovery since the 1950s.  The U.S. economy gets a bad rap these days, despite the fact that it’s doing better than almost every other economy that went through a financial crisis in 2007-2008. With very low unemployment and historically low inflation.

Also  the pace of health-care cost growth has also slowed. For years skyrocketing health-care costs gobbled up a larger share of workers’ total compensation, crowding out wage growth. This is exactly what the ACA promised and its detractors declared to be impossible. Do factual outcomes and predictions matter?

Add to this the fact that entrepreneurial startups, small businesses and innovation, all economic drivers, always-always-always do much better across democratic administrations.

So what is toking so much anger, down below, that even the Fox-Beck-watching confeds know something is deeply wrong? 
Both Sanders and Trump channel rage over rapaciously greedy insider-manipulators.  Sanders points to facts, like skyrocketing wealth inequality, propelled by Supply Side gushers fed into oligarchic maws, approaching levels not seen since 1789 France. 

On the right? Gifted svengalis know they have to point fingers at somebody rich and powerful. And so they choose...

== Blame it all on George Soros! ==

Purportedly “libertarian” newsletterist David Galland has been posting jeremiads putting the entire blame for the world’s refugee crisis - as well as the 2008 bank collapse and every other 21st Century calamity - on George Soros

Well, why not? The party of oligarchy can sense a rising revulsion toward aristocratic rule embedded in American DNA. So pick a symbolic scapegoat oligarch. A democrat! Soros.

Fine, but there must be a core rationalization. Something to make Soros seem equal to Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, Sheldon Adelson, the Kochs, The Waltons, Wall Street and the Saudi Royal House, combined! How do you pump one man to loom as the archetype rich (and Jewish) manipulator?  Beck, Fox, Limbaugh and Hannity all parroted the same line:

"Here's a man who single-handedly toppled EIGHT FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS!" 

In fact, Soros had help topping those governments. But yes! Let there's truth to this assertion. Soros was largely involved in sending those governments that he despised crashing down.  Only... do nodding dittoheads ever... even once... lift their heads to ask Beck or Limbaugh or Hannity: "Say, Sean... WHICH foreign governments did that vile manipulator-commie George Soros topple? 
(Actually, the number isn't eight. It is ten.)

The human quality of curiosity is suppressed by the insane War on Science. Still... repeat after me: "Which foreign governments do almost all the right wing shouters credit George Soros with toppling?"

Now you see the Lobotomization Explanation for Donald Trump, since the long vanished days of minds like Goldwater and Buckley. Not one member of the Fox-Beck-Breitbart-Drudge Nuremberg rally lifts his head to ask inconvenient questions.

Are you ready for the list?  
Let’s have a drum roll… or scroll spaces to make you work for it.



 "Which foreign governments do the entire right wing establishment credit George Soros with toppling?"

The communist dictatorship of Hungary.
The communist dictatorship of Poland
The communist dictatorship of Czechoslovakia
The communist dictatorship of Romania
The communist dictatorship of Bulgaria
The communist dictatorship of Estonia
The communist dictatorship of Latvia
The communist dictatorship of Lithuania

Add in Ukraine, whose loss from the Russian sphere of influence drove Vladimir Putin to a frenzy. Sure, the Russian press credits a diabolically clever and Machiavellian-aggressive Barack Obama for that immense, strategic loss, which vastly overshadows the later, minor-and-expected claw-back of Russian-speaking Crimea and Donbass. But I am willing to toss some credit back in time, to Soros.

Make it explicit. Glen Beck and all those other right wing mavens officially credit terrifying leftist George Soros with the 
toppling of the Iron Curtain, liberating hundreds of millions and the victorious end of the Cold War. That is explicitly and exactly what they have been saying for more than twenty years, absolutely relying on their followers never to ask any details.

Huh.  I thought it was that other liberal (compared to today’s GOP) Ronald Reagan! In fact, they both share equal credit with Michail Gorbachev and with architect of the West’s overall plan of calm containment - George Marshall.  (With Jimmy Carter deserving more of an assist cred than you’d believe!)
Look, the crux here is not who actually tore down the wall. 

No, ask why do Fox/Beck/Limbaugh followers never poke at a tsunami of ironies, contradictions and outright lies? The answer is “cultural”… the same reason a million confederates marched to fight and die for their slaveholding plantation lords. It's the recurring American tragedy and it has no solution except for the Blue Union to just keep on winning and moving us into the future.

As you watch the farce in Cleveland, oh, pity Barry Goldwater. spinning 6000 RPM in his grave.
== A final look at DT ==

Among the more interesting attempts to decrypt the Donald Trump phenomenon is this well-written, informative and amusing piece contending that it’s all a way to reinvigorate the money-making Trump brand.  

Do I agree we are witnessing a scam campaign or ‘scampaign’? Naw.  Still the author does connect some dots, like the way radio svanarolas have milked elderly white audiences ever since John Bircher paranoia jockeys in the 1950s. In The New Republic, Jeet Heer writes:

“The anti-intellectualism that has been a mainstay of the conservative movement for decades also makes its members easy marks. After all, if you are taught to believe that the reigning scientific consensuses on evolution and climate change are lies, then you will lack the elementary logical skills that will set your alarm bells ringing when you hear a flim-flam artist like Trump. The Republican “war on science” is also a war on the intellectual habits needed to detect lies….” and “an entire class of Republican politicians, including Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, used mailing lists built up in their presidential campaigns to sell dubious products afterward.”  

Including a “breakthrough” remedy for erectile dysfunction. Yipe. At least Bush and Cheney robbed us the old-fashioned way.