Saturday, February 04, 2023

Defending those who defend civilization. Did I make things worse?

I'm alternating between postings about science and - well - the crisis of saving civilization from a deeply dangerous/feral world oligarchy, bent on restoring 6000 years of insanely stupid feudalism.  Last week was science, so... this (alas 'tl;dr') political riff tries to make clear what's going on BENEATH the headlines.

I may have (slightly) contributed to nudging the MAGA movement even crazier. (Well, a little). I seem to have done it - in at least a few places - by urging a bigger perspective on the mad right’s all-out war to discredit and demoralize the true enemies of world oligarchy. 

Those enemies are all fact-using professions. Science, medicine, law, journalism, teaching, civil service ... the list of fact-folks under attack by the Mad Right now includes even the intel/FBI/military officer corps who won the Cold War and the War on Terror. 


Take when Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, campaigning for Herschel Walker in Georgia, repeatedly taunted kale-eating “high-IQ stupid people.” Esquire responded to this hypocritical graduate of an elite British university: “Aw, Shucks, Senator Kennedy, Your Hayseed Act Is a Disgrace.”  Yet Esquire missed the core point. When Kennedy and Graham, Cruz, DeSantis, Trump etc. spend so much time railing against universities and educated folks, there’s something truly systematic going on!


Keep score several evenings on Fox. Hatred toward Folks Who Know Stuff – called ‘snobs’ by Tucker & Hannity & Judge Jeanine – spews-forth far more often than their despicable dog whistles for racism & sexism. Go ahead and keep count.  Once you see the pattern, nerd-baiting leaps out everywhere. Yet it’s scarcely-mentioned as a whole, almost anywhere. Certainly, almost never by pundits or pols of the left or middle.

I’m not the one lumping the FBI and intel agencies and military officers together. It is MAGA world doing that, labeling all of them as enemies. See my article: The War on Expertise.


So, two questions: Why are the Foxites and oligarchy-shills doing this? And why is this general theme of hatred toward nerds not more widely denounced by those on the other side? 


== Why they’re doing it ==


Well, for starters, the FBI (just doing their job) now helps grand juries across America to indict – and other juries to convict - a veritable tsunami of corrupt Republicans. The rate is appalling, almost 100x the rate for Democratic politicians or factotums. 


Either tens of thousands of agents, prosecutors, grand-jurors, trial jurors and judges (many of them Bush and Trump appointees) are in on a perfectly coordinated plot, without a single hiccup or leak… or else (and it’s proved) today’s GOP overflows with criminals.


As for those despised intel folks, there’s plenty of reason to believe they have disrupted the plans that Trump/Lavrov/Kisliak/Putin and their cabal of “ex” commissars had for us, back when this photo of utter glee was taken, in their agent’s first days of office. 

I have strong reason to believe our intel folks have been fighting for us, quietly. We’ll never know the full story, of course. But no less a Trumpist than former National Security Advisor John Bolton has said as much, recently. 


Then there’s the military officer corps. U.S. generals and admirals are easily the third best educated clade in American life. You don’t achieve flag rank without the equivalent of a PhD, or three masters degrees. Sure they’ve always given off a conservative vibe, even though the military’s desegregation in 1947 was the one biggest, most irreversible step toward the justice path. So what’s their crime, according to MAGAdom? 


They dare to answer Foxite anti-fact yammers and incantations with a lethal phrase: “Sir, that is simply untrue.”

Oh, the shills try not to pour hate on the officer corps explicitly!  That’d spark cognitive dissonance in too many Republicans, driving the smartest/best out of the MAGA cult. (It’s already largely happened.) But a campaign to undermine the credibility of the officer corps is slyly repeated as a standard Mad Right mantra. 


And hence, below, I’ll dissect the line that Tucker Carlson and other shills have been trying out – that the admirals and generals all got promoted because of ‘politics.’


But first, how do I assert that *I* may have made things worse? 


By coming up with a counter-tactic that works. 

To a limited degree, it works all the time. Every time. 

Indeed, it is the only tactic that reliably works. 


And while not a single Democratic politician or liberal or moderate pundit has noticed, some on the right have. And it’s made a few of them very unhappy.



== What is it that works? ==


First off, public fact-checking does NOT work. By now you know it does no good to refute some lie-meme by linking to a fact-check service or reliable source. All that happens then is that your MAGA uncle responds with a jpeg or meme of his own, declaring his sources to be better. 


The philosophical underpinning here is utter, subjective relativism. There is no such thing as repeatable objective reality! It’s all just your corrupt authorities vs. mine, who are also blessed by God. (And note that rejection of objective reality is also rife on the postmodernist far-left.)


There is a second reason why fact-checking fails. Let’s say you present proof that's unassailable! For example that ocean acidification has zero alternative explanations to human carbon pollution. Well, in that event, the fellow simply moves on. He changes the subject. It does no good to point out that his credibility should diminish, after being proved wrong! He shrugs and ignores you, in favor of the next packaged meme.


That combination – denial of fact-provable reality and dancing off to the next meme – is so hard to overcome that many – most – of you have simply given up.


But there is a way to overcome both of these lethal flaws in argument. 


It is the same method that works in our older, adversarial truth-determining systems: markets and democracy and especially science and courts. That method is to insist that the argument focus on weighing one assertion at a time… one of yours or one of his… 


...and ensure in advance that factual proof will have actual consequences.


One at a time and with consequences?

There are many ways to do this. But by far the most efficient and effective is by demanding wagers.


Yeah, yeah. I know. Brin and his damn betting-obsession. 


After pushing this for ten years, I know the reflex excuses offered by supposedly mature folks on our side in this civil war over the existence of facts. Murmurs about immaturity, or the tactic being sexist or macho, or blather about how Mitt Romney tried it in 2016 and came across as a rich bully… I’ve heard em all! 


And sorry. They all boil down to laziness and cowardice and a culpable, utter unwillingness to understand Confederate psychology. The mental sickness that Thomas Paine and Abe Lincoln and Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein all knew so well and denounced as the greatest danger to the American Enlightenment Experiment.


That psychology is a macho psychology. It always has been! Through all 8+ phases of the U.S. Civil War, all the way back to the 1770s. And if you haven’t studied that recurring sickness, to understand its weaknesses, then you aren’t really trying to win this life or death struggle for a nation, civilization, planet and children you love.


== The method that makes them run ==


You won’t get any cash out of it, because they always run away. But they run amid the smoldering ashes of their macho.


 I’ve done this though in-yer-face wager demands, insisting that MAGAs actually back up their blowhard memes – one at a time - with $$$ stakes. The way an actual man would. 


And to corner them further, I demand that we'll put evidence before a nonpartisan panel of retired, senior military/intel officers. Most of them former lifelong Republicans. (Now with emphasis on former.) 


It’s the part that puts them into a blind panic.


Note that the Wager Demand gambit works. If you prepare, and tenaciously refuse to let em change the subject, it always works. It is the ONLY thing that ever works. That is, it works in making MAGA blowhards scream in dismay and then flee whatever scene it is, amid the smoldering shambles of their macho. 


And sometimes, rarely but crucially, some onlooker, witnessing this is honest enough to have an epiphany -- to realize: “Hey, maybe I am on the wrong side.”


And here’s the deal. We Americans outnumber the Confederates. Always have. They are in demographic collapse and survive politically by cheating. Strip away just a few – less than a million – and the whole rotten mutant version of conservatism will collapse. And when a new, saner version arises, Barry Goldwater will finally stop spinning in his grave.


== Do I regret this ‘judo’ tactic? ==


And so, we get to the inadvertent harm I’ve done! By demanding fact-verifiable wagers, put before a nonpartisan panel of retired, senior military/intel officers, I have cornered a few borderline folks to wake up and leave the cult! (Have you, ever?)


I also got many more MAGAs to get much more open about their spite!


In order to evade the wager demand they claim there’s no such thing as a trustworthy fact-arbiter. They whine, especially, that such retired, senior officers can’t be trusted! 


“All the generals and admirals – at top levels – got their ranks through POLITICS! Or they were promoted because they were experts at PROCUREMENT!”


Oy, what a despicably/ horrid refuge! Of course, the #1 answer is:


 “That’s quite an assertion – and insult. Can you prove it? Show us a chart of topmost flag officers and how many of them advanced most through 'procurement' or close association with politicians? 


“If you cannot bring forth such support, aren’t you just yammering a chant to discredit men and women who are better than you by miles, by any metric of human quality, from service and patriotism to intelligence and factual savvy and courage?”


There are two more responses, though:


#2 Military procurement involves tightly controlled design, bidding, prototyping, testing, contracting, production… then iterative improvement and integration into a system of professionally capable combined arms. That process involves vast professionalism in order to overcome the inevitable traps of group-think, personal investment and even (occasionally) attempted corruption. Hence all officers on a promotion trajectory serve in procurement, for a while. All of them.

And now we can measure outcomes emerging from the Ukraine war! These outcomes appear to be, at all levels, spectacularly successful. NATO – and especially U.S. – arms and equipment appear to be performing outstandingly! Light years better than the military that we assumed to be our near-peer rivals.  I could offer some interesting perspectives on WHY this has happened… in reforms going back to my hero, George Marshall. But this is not the place.


What stands out, though is that “procurement” in the US military – while sometimes problematic and occasionally corrupting – does not seem to have been the gravy train for crooks that it clearly has been in Russia. In other words, we… got… what… we… have been paying for. 


Shouldn’t that make you marginally glad? 


And finally #3: I keep running into MAGA asshats who whine, when challenged to bet like a man, and especially when I offer a panel of politically neutral, retired senior officers to adjudicate...


...they screech nastiness toward senior officers for one reason, above all. Because so many of them have openly and respectfully-but-adamantly said to lying-psychopathic monsters like Donald Trump “that’s not true, sir.”


And a central, frequent target of MAGA dopes? I have seen a number of shrill spews aimed at the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley.


Um, seriously? Attacking General Milley as a "procurement bureaucrat" shows dismal ignorance of the badges that he earned, that are right there, visible in photos. Shall we look at them?

Paratrooper/Airborne. Ranger. Many action & theater commendations. His home unit is the "band of brothers" 101st Airborne. And noblest of them all, the Combat Infantryman insignia. 


Also, most senior officers have either a PhD or 2-3 masters or equivalents! They are well-versed in science and fact, making them desperately concerned about climate change and pandemics and the blatant meddling of foreign despots in one of our political parties. 


Those hurling 'traitor' at such heroes should use the word into a mirror. 


And of course, the same twits attack every other fact-using profession, from science to teaching, medicine and law to journalism. Again Name one exception to the Foxite all-out war on all fact people. Make that challenge viral. 



== The fundamental reason for the War on Nerds ==


Hence the deeper question… why do no Democratic politicians or liberal or moderate pundits comment on this, at all?


All right let's make one thing clear... I am not denigrating the suffering experienced at confederate hands by minorities, the poor, races and genders and the marginalized!   Absolutely the poor, races and genders and the marginalized are the ones who SUFFER more, due to quasi-Nazi politics.


And yes, I am pointing at persecution of a nerdy clade in which I am a member... multiple times over. As do activists who are personally among the poor, racial minorities or oppressed genders and the marginalized. We all see our 'folk' as central.


Only think, before we finish here. Not about the confederate/MAGA/putin-loving ground troops who respond to the racist dog whistles... but about their masters in the world oligarchy. Those mighty annual migrants to Davos and Dubai and Macao. The ones financing this great World Putsch Against Democracy.  


Do such mighty Olympians have any real reason to hate the powerless?


Bah.


Sure the powerless HURT because of rising fascism, but they are not the clades hated or raged - against most by the Masters. Or by the shills on Fox screeching nightly against high IQ 'snobs.'


The oligarchy most hates and fears those who have SOME POWER to thwart them!  Clades who do have some might, collectively, to fight for the Enlightenment Experiment and who are doing so, effectively every day.  Scientists, journalists, teachers, civil servants, practicialers of law, medicine and intel... If they are crushed - as Fox daily tries to do - then there will be no obstacle to a return of 6000 years of dismal, inheritance-based feudalism. 


Sure, after that there will eventually be Revolution. Because today's oligarchs show every sign of flattery-addiction and massive causal stupidity. If they achieve their goal, then all their prepper compounds will be for naught, in the radicalized torching that follows.


We mustn't let it come to that. 

So yes, fight for the nerds.


Like it or not, they are the ones trying to bring the Enlightenment to a soft landing at a higher plateau.


----

----

PS here's a lagniappe. A jpeg that stirs discomfort in any MAGA you show it to...











Saturday, January 28, 2023

Gaining perspective: imaging Earth - and deep space

Modeling this planet. Having cut my teeth long ago on the Whole Earth Catalogue, and later having written a novel called Earth, I'm a bit of a sucker for macro planet modeling projects. Here’s one of the latest that’s just a crowd sourced mapping to Supplement Google Earth… Soar.Earth is a digital atlas of world maps, crowd-sourced from individuals, organizations, and the broader community. 


WIRED co-founder Kevin Kelly – whose lavishly huge and beautiful photography 3-volume set Vanishing Asia I have blogged about before – is also working on an Earth modeling project. He asked me for others to look at. 


Then there are speculative Earth models that take scenario-based, rather than science-fictional approaches. Here's one recently inaugurated by Benjamin Bratton and the Berggruen folks - the Antikythera project.  And another - Earth2 -developed at UCSD. (They have some problems with both concept and funding, but you may find it interesting.) 


A much larger scale and SFnal and vivid portrayal of the near future - one I contributed a fair amount to – is Earth 2050. Just be wary, since it's key sponsor is Moscow-located Kaspersky.


Envisioning space: Here's a compilation of 21 Cosmic websites you need to visit - stunning images from the scale of our solar system - to the scale of the known universe, and much more.


== Astronomy updates ==


The first water exo-worlds? Planets that seem likely to orbit their red sun very closely and to have thick layers of high pressure water and steam! The inferences through modeling are amazing. Such smart folks, we sometimes make.


Comparing 17 nearby, almost-identical twins to our sun, scientists measured the fine structure constant in the most precise astronomical test ever performed. Next, they've recently identified new solar twins much further away, about half way to the center of our Milky Way galaxy. In this region, there should be a much higher concentration of dark matter.

Gorgeous. NASA’s Webb Space Telescope revealed once-hidden features of a protostar within the dark cloud L1527, only visible in infrared light. The protostar itself is hidden from view within the “neck” of this hourglass shape. An edge-on protoplanetary disk is seen as a dark line across the middle of the neck. Light from the protostar leaks above and below this disk, illuminating cavities within the surrounding gas and dust.

This is a real time-lapse video of planets orbiting the star HR 8799, 133 light years away: four super-Jupiter worlds dancing around their sun. Amazing! Images collected at the Keck Observatory, processed by William Thompson. (Thanks Corey Powell & Mike Gannis.) 


And it makes some weird sense… that our sun’s 11 year activity cycle) actually 22 yeas) might be due to a dark matter planet whose 11 (or 22) year elliptical orbit takes it diving through the Sun’s interior at that rhythm, disturbing things with its gravity.  I have doubts that these passages would not leave detectable effects upon each entry and exit, though. 


== Deeep… and flashy… space! ==


Sometimes a black hole that’s eating a nearby star spews superheated jets, accelerated to nearly the speed of light and rarely they’re pointed directly at us. Which was the case for 2022cmc,  the brightest and most distant tidal disruption event yet-known; its source is a supermassive black hole about 8.5 billion light-years away. Twenty-one telescopes around the world viewed the jet in the X-ray, radio, optical, and ultraviolet wavelengths. 


Deeper? Astronomers using the Webb have discovered galaxies whose light left them toward us only 350 million years after the Big Bang. Our understanding of the first billion years after the Big Bang is extremely limited, and finding earlier and earlier objects can help shed light on this crucial time of formation.


== “Fermi” explanations get repetitive… ==


Groups of scientists and commentators keep discovering (aha!) explanations for what I in 1983 called “The Great Silence” – well before the coining of the far less apropos “Fermi Paradox.”  

Up near the top of popularity among notions, the “Great Filter” theory — as in “filtering out” various forms of life — argues that other civilizations, possibly several, have existed during the life of the universe. But they all destroyed themselves before they could make contact with Earth. According to a paper by a team of researchers based at NASA’s JPL: “The key to humanity successfully traversing such a universal filter is… identifying [destructive] attributes in ourselves and neutralizing them in advance.” 

Only been writing about this most of my life. And I do agree. In fact, my own #3 hypothesis is that humans appear to be rather exceptionally logical, peaceful and cooperative and smart, compared to most kinds of mammals. We even escape the noxious/toxic effects of male reproductive strategies in perhaps 1% of our civilizations! And that 1% was responsible for almost all genuine progress. NOT my favorite fermi theory because, well, we are still (especially human males) pretty damned unreasonable and reflexively dumb.

This Isaac Arthur episode is very interesting about the Gaia Hypothesis.  Though it seems worth mentioning that my novel Earth is about this at many levels... weak, moderate or strong Gaia, it's got 'em, including a scientifically plausible (if rather a reach) way that the bulk mass of the planet might become sapient. I know Isaac has read it and hence I feel a bit puzzled, since several notions from the book would seem to be branching pertinences. But his channel is superb.

Oh, and this. A civilization on a tidally locked planet orbiting close to a red star would likely have huge numbers of solar collectors along the rim zone facing sunward, some reflecting light into the shadow zone. I wonder if such collectors might have visible techno-signature effects on telescopes aimed to track those planets nearing opposition.


== The Moondoggle, redux ==


As implicit in this Nikkei (Japan) article, the current Artemis 'race to the Moon" is a horrible, valueless symbolism junket, imposed on us by a horrible, valueless symbolism junkie. It will waste billions on a wretchedly expensive throwaway, obsolete rocket system, justified by blithering nonsense about "lunar resources."

I eviscerate the insanely never-justified yammers about 'lunar resources' in this podcast  .. as well as whether any such 'resources' (again, mere fantasies) could possibly be utilized best by astronauts stomping about.

Mind you, I am all in favor of US efforts to advance lunar robotics. The one and only lunar resource of near term value is (possibly) some polar ice deposits and we've funded robotic mining studies at NASA's Innovative & Advanced Concepts program - (NIAC). Along with studies of farside robotic radio telescopes. And studies to robotically explore possible lava tube caves. Fine. As for non-robotic endeavors, I favor the earlier NASA lunar endeavor to build a 'Gateway" space station in moon orbit, with a dozen good uses. Like #2 below.

But this Artemis 'race' to throw away billion dollar behemoth rockets in order to plant symbolic footprints on a sterile plain of poison dust? Bah!

1. The U.S. and Japan have begun exploring asteroids, where the real wealth of the Solar System can be found. These are steps forward that only the U.S. & Japan (with some European help) can take! Why not focus on doing things that only we can do?

2. Humans are going back to the moon, anyway! Soon hordes of Apollo-wannabe tourists will be rushing there, eager for their manhood-ritual 'bar moonzvahs.' So? Let's rent 'em hotel rooms on the lunar orbiting station and then rent them landers for their photo ops!

3. "Beating China in a race to land on the moon"?  Sure let's humiliate a Rising Power, shaming them at their moment of "today I am a man" accomplishment! So, so wise to do (not)! Seriously, how's such a pueril, low-minded and fundamentally nasty imperative gonna serve any benefit for the West, or America or taxpayers? Other than the typically MAGA-Trumpian motive of grabbing a "Nyah Nyah!" moment?

(Far better, have a rocket and lander ready to come and assist, should they need rescue or aid!)

4. Even with cost-spreading 'partners' there's no way this helps us. NASA will have to share technologies with every partner. And we benefit from that how?

Oh, it's too late to back out now. Another idiotic Trumpist-"Shelby" moondoggle that aliens might have imposed on us, if they wanted to slow down our real advances into space. 


In fact, Trump's one first rate appointee, NASA Administrator Bridenstine, managed to insulate NASA's science departments from depredation for Artemis, and I wish Biden had found a way to make use of him.



== …and finally… ==


My former Caltech classmate - U. of Colorado Astronomy Prof Doug Duncan - is hosting a gathering event for those wanting to view the April 8, 2024 Great Texas Solar Eclipse, with interesting speakers and ideal positioning. He also has an inexpensive product – app and filters – to let your cell phone snap an eclipse. 


It may not be too soon to start planning for it!


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A song to make you cry... and determined...

I am trying to post only weekly, these days. But this needs doing. 

At all political extrema the fashion is to pour cynical hate on the deeply-flawed Great Enlightenment Experiment, and the nation that - for well or ill - is its leader. That hate is a sick version of the food that experiment needs, in order to flourish - interrogation by our righteously unsatisfied children.

We question ourselves and that is good. We teach our next generations to question us and all leaders, which (historically unusual) trait is both good and necessary, if we are ever to rise fully beyond barely upright killer-apes. 

The rate at which America, especially, has stepped toward her potential has been grindingly, shamefully slow (if quicker than any other.) And yet...

...sometimes it's a good idea, amid our habitual self-reproach, to remember all the times we did take those brave steps toward light. There are those, on this planet, who do remember.

This song by Michel Sardou is called "Les Ricains" which means, more or less, "The Yankees."

Watch this version first. I beseech you.


Les Ricains
 by Michel Sardou

If the Ricans weren't there
   Si les Ricains n'étaient pas là
You would all be in Germania
   Vous seriez tous en Germanie
To speak of I don't know what
   A parler de je ne sais quoi
To greet I do not know who
   A saluer je ne sais qui

Of course years have passed
Bien sûr les années ont passé
The rifles changed hands
Les fusils ont changé de mains
Is this a reason to forget
Est-ce une raison pour oublier
That one day we needed it?
Qu'un jour on en a eu besoin?

A guy from Georgia
Un gars venu de Georgie
Who cared a lot about you
Qui se foutait pas mal de toi
Came to die in Normandy
Est v'nu mourir en Normandie
One morning when you weren't there
Un matin où tu n'y étais pas

Of course years have passed
Bien sûr les années ont passé
We became friends
On est devenus des copains
To the friendly of the shot
A l'amicale du fusillé
They say they fell for nothing
On dit qu'ils sont tombés pour rien

If the Ricans weren't there
Si les Ricains n'étaient pas là
You would all be in Germania
Vous seriez tous en Germanie
To speak of I don't know what
A parler de je ne sais quoi
To greet I do not know who
A saluer je ne sais qui

Even better is this version... a huge crowd of French people cheering and singing along. Capable of gratitude. (Perhaps more capable than you are?)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZGiKahFUi8

They know that this American Pax, for all of its faults, prevented vastly worse. That things could have been a hell, a curse. That every other era of dismal human history was worse. 

And if we do not blow it now, we have a chance to be recalled by our heirs - organic and cyber - the true humans - as the very best that cavemen could be. Crude, bestial primitives who tried nonetheless to lift our gaze and those around us. To something better.

Try - try, I dare you - not to tear up, in gratitude for this gratitude.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Finally, the question of WHY the mad right (and parts of the left) wage war vs. nerds?

Am I exaggerating when I call this phase of the U.S. Civil War an outright campaign against smart people


Earlier I referred you to when Louisiana Senator John Kennedy, while campaigning for Herschel Walker in Georgia, made this so explicitly by repeatedly taunting kale-eating “high-IQ stupid people.” The same folks who are dissed as “snobs” by Tucker Carlson and his Ivy League colleagues who fake folksy accents on Fox. 


It didn't begin in 2011, when Rush Limbaugh started his crusade against the "Four corners of deceit" (science, media, government, and academia), proclaiming, "Only *I* will tell you the truth." But the jeremiads against all fact-using professions accelerated, after he got away with it.


Today, tsunamis of bile spew at every kind of nerdy people... as well as the very concept of objective reality as the Risen Confederacy foments against every single U.S. profession that heeds things called 'facts.' Science, medicine, law, journalism, teaching, civil service... name ONE exception! Hate toward all Folks Who Know Stuff... 


...now screeching also at intel/FBI/military officer corps who won the Cold War and the War on Terror. 


See my posting: Waging War on Expertise. (Where I also shine light upon the far smaller - but almost equally noxious - fraction of folks on the postmodernist left who follow an eerily similar pattern! But who are presently a microscopically-smaller danger. For now.) And in that posting I asked the obvious question.


Why? 


Why this all-out campaign, that no less than Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein described as an abiding, poisonous current that flows through zones of the American character?


Why? I can only offer theories... some that you may not have seen before. 


First. Culturally, MAGA/confederates are enraged by cities and universities and knowledge professions for a deep, psychic reason that's rooted in an annual trauma! Every year the best and brightest from every high school, in every small town, hug and promise to keep in touch... then head off to bright lights and colleges, then come back changed (if they return at all)


If you squint a bit, it’s amazing how closely this recurring trauma resembles the classic archetype of 'elves stealing your children' that recurred in a very large fraction of past cultures. And it is so sad that no one has studied this.


Second. The fact professions refute almost every meme on the mad right. Certainly 98% of what's said on Fox. Hence, all fact-using professions must be discredited! Yes, even military officers - lest they utter those hated words "Sir, that's just not true."


Above all, the Foxite war against all fact professions is about power


The world oligarchic putsch – aimed at restoring aristocratic rule based upon inherited position and wealth - is resisted foremost by folks who have some power, but who gained it meritocratically, in accountable professions like law and science. People with ability to thwart feudalism's return, who are loyal to the enlightenment experiment: scientists, teachers, civil servants, Law, Medicine, intel, journalism. 


Think about it. All egalitarian, meritocratic professions must be discredited before any lapse back into the 6000 year pattern of inheritance-based feudalism can fully take hold. 


I do not say this to disrespect the victims who suffer most because of confederatism! But do please think about it, asking: what do the uber-powerful have to fear from the powerless? Racism and all that are real and horrible! But to the oligarchs, such dog whistles are just tools to rile up their MAGA grunts. 


Again (and again) this is not zero-sum! The oligarchs' foremost enemies, who they actually fear, those with real power to resist and protect the Enlightenment Experiment...


...are the nerds.



== Oh you poor oligarchs, but even more pitiable Donald ==


If they weren’t the epitome of evil, I’d feel sorry for the oligarch masters of the Republican Party, right now. They're in a tough spot!  


Like the Prussian aristocracy in 1933, they found that their populist rabble-rouser was hard to control, once in power.  Oh, this time it worked much better for the aristos… Trump and McConnell et. al. proved obedient regarding policy matters – delivering tax cuts for the rich and demolishing American politics as a tool for negotiation and adaptation. 


Moreover, the MAGA Confederate mob hasn’t turned on their masters, the way Hitler & co. did.  Not quite. Not yet.


But Trump’s antics and spewings drove nearly all fact people out of the Republican Party, including most members of the U.S. military officer corps, FBI and intel agents and nearly all skilled professionals.  Moreover, grand juries across the nation – composed largely of white retirees – are indicting GOP factotums at staggering rates. Trump personally turned what was to have been a Red Wave midterm election into an embarrassing fizzle…


…and now ol’ Donald seems determined to make continued support for him openly synonymous with outright, explicit treason, with his demand to suspend the Constitution of the United States. 


Moreover, while potentially smoother successors – like DeSantis - are warming up in the bullpen, Trump has made it clear that he will go after any rivals, hammer and tongs, all the way to dukes n’ nukes. If anyone else gets the GOP nomination, he will take his fanatic wing and leave the Party, going rogue. Perhaps violently rogue.

The Oligarchs and their Foxite shills have experimented with having their other dogs repudiate old Two Scoops, but the craven curs always cave. 


See: Trump will go away slowly, then all at once.”    



== Prevent the Howard Beale Option! ==


Hence, the Masters may see only one plausible way out -- a Hail Mary pass! A way to shoot for the win-win. To eliminate their former – now lethally inconvenient – champion while retaining the loyalty of his fervid/frothing base, turning their fury instead against both Democrats and every enlightenment institution.  


Alas, the obvious way to do that was illustrated chillingly in one of the greatest of all movies of all time, Network.


Yes, I refer to the Howard Beale Option.  


Martyrdom. Could anything be more obvious? That is, if they could do it without getting caught. (And hence, we need Henchman Prizes to incentivize whistle blowers, in case that becomes their plan.)


Truly, for the sake of our country and the world – not to mention constitutional enlightenment experiment – we must pray for the continued health of a jibbering-capering, rabid-frothing traitor-madman, and for the continued skill and perseverant guardianship of his Secret Service detail. 


(And yes, with an eye especially on those closest to him!)


We can do our own part, by spreading word that we are wary. That the chief effect of any such martyrdom will be massive whistleblower rewards to lure forth snitching henchmen. And our vow that the words “Howard Beale” will be on everyone’s lips. 


And that the neo-confederacy’s Masters – those Kremlin “ex” commissars and desert murder-princes and casino-mafiosi and hedge lords and inheritance brats and neo-feudalists and Foxite yammerers all know: 


“You made this monster. Now live with what you built.”



== FInal notes ==


“Some of the Kremlin’s blatant falsehoods about the Russian war - aimed at undercutting US aid for Ukraine - are promoted by major figures on the American right, from Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes to ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon and Fox News star Tucker Carlson….  54 House Republican Freedom Caucus members voted against a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine…”

Don’t tell me it was for budget reasons. Democrats are always effectively more fiscally responsible that Republican administrations.  That’s always. And bet me $$$ on that. (See my posting: Outcomes Matter more than Rhetoric.)


Furthermore, the U.S. and a rapidly strengthening NATO are actually benefiting in certain palpable ways during this conflict, e.g. testing and modernizing technologies and doctrines while brave Ukrainians carry the main burdens, a benefit scarcely visible outside the intel and military officer corps.


(Always recall Trump reacting to Putin's invasion of Ukraine as "Smart, so very smart!" And Michael Flynn and so many other Trumpists openly or covertly lobbying for Moscow.)

Given the spectacular moral imbalance of the two sides and Putin’s dangerous delusionality, there would be more than enough reason to stay staunch in our backing of Zelensky’s brave people. Though in fact, the simmers of pro-Moscow grumbling rising from sectors of the GOP indicate another motive to remain stalwart. 


Their orders from the Kremlin are clear and they dare not disobey for a reason I have asserted for years. Blackmail.



== And... ==


ADDENDUM in the Post – “Casino mogul Steve Wynn's fortune comes not just from Las Vegas but also from gambling hub Macau — making his casino empire there vulnerable to Be-ij-ing's whims. This year, the Department of Justice unsuccessfully attempted to force Wynn to register as a foreign agent due to his ties to that government.” 


Well, he’s not the only gambling mafiosi who is laundering, then channeling funds from the polit bureau directly into the GOP. Look up Sheldon Adelson. In fact ALL gambling czars are huge GOP oligarchs.


...and... finally... in a pair of completely unrelated side notes...


-- December 19 1997… 25 years ago… TITANIC came out, to thunderous success, quickly sinking all competition.  Know what it’s competition was, the same weekend?  THE POSTMAN, of course. In one of the greatest epic fails of release timing ever. Still, Costner’s flick is visually and musically one of the most beautiful ever shot and it’s way big-hearted! I try to look at good qualities and shrug off the rest. And hey, the flick gave me 25 years of something to say to folks in airports.


And RIP my friend, sci fi geek... also pretty darn good musician... David Crosby.