Saturday, February 15, 2020

The 'sane right' makes some tepid moves... International concerns - and historical parallels

The Lincoln Project aims to encourage a rising-up by American conservatives who are embarrassed by Putin-Trumpism and who are determined not to let their movement sink into treason and turpitude, without a fight. The most-famous founders are Gov. John Kasich and George Conway – yes, he of the bizarrely fascinating marriage to Trump factotum Kellyanne. They are exemplars of those whom I call RASRs – Residually Adult-Sane Republicans. Although punctuated by a strange and only marginally relevant anecdote about Civil War General Dan Sickles, their manifesto is worth a glance, especially in light of the same week’s editorial in Christianity Today denouncing evangelicals’ slavish devotion to Trump.

Of course these gestures matter little – nor do the imprecations of George F. Will and all the 1990s neocons against the Munich Putsch that’s taken over the U.S. right. I expect another front to open up when Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan see their chance to make a play. 

 I have long opined that top Democrats should also reach out to the citizens of Utah, whose version of American Conservatism quaintly disapproves of drunkenness, lying, bribery, gambling, cheating, blackmail, treason and every other modern Fox-Republican attribute.

All of them, of course, are reaping the bitter fruit that German conservatives choked upon, in the 1930s, when the Prussian "Junkers" elites thought they could 'control' a populist fascism to suppress the left, without conseuences. In our case, cheat-gerrymandering meant that nearly all GOP politicians had more to fear from primaries than general elections, ensuring they’d be terrorized by the most radical brownshirt-types, who today threaten extinction (political and real) to any Republican with spine or a glimmer of patriotism. 

They should have seen this coming when Dennis “friend to boys” Hastert became head of their party. (Look him up, and make sure your cousins confront what he means.) 

Now? Very likely, it is too late for residually-sane "Schindler" Republicans to do anything more that beg the ghost of Barry Goldwater for help against monsters of their own creation. And pray that seeds for something better - a phoenix version of fact and science-loving, lie-hating, non-cheating and not-run-by-the-KGB conservatism can arise from these ashes. Maybe in Utah.

== Is there an International Conspiracy? ==

Of course there is, though some are imaginary, like 99% of the howls about an American cabal of scientists, teachers and journalists plus a million dedicated civil servants in the FBI, law, intel, foreign and military officer corps who saved us from Hitler, Stalin and bin Laden, but who fools now dismiss as “deep state” traitors, without one scintilla of real evidence.

As you know, I see something else with a lot more backing and proof – an arrangement among “ex” KGB agents, Saudi princes, gambling moguls, inheritance brats, monopolists and finance parasites, every one of whom benefits from destroying transparency and competitive accountability, the foundations of the Western Enlightenment.

I make much of that case in Polemical Judo. But there are other collections of evidence, more thorough than mine. 

Take for example Seth Abramson's “Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy.” It’s a followup to his earlier “Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America.” Both of which can provide plenty of ammo when you demand wagers from your redder friends and cousins.

== Eerie parallels ==

Stunningly consistent parallels between Trump and Kaiser Wilhelm II, who led one of history’s great nations into utter calamity while ranting and raving all the way. 

In The New Yorker, Miranda Carter writes, Trump’s tweets were what first reminded me of the Kaiser. Wilhelm was a compulsive speechmaker who constantly strayed off script. Even his staff couldn’t stop him, though it tried, distributing copies of speeches to the German press before he’d actually given them. Unfortunately, the Austrian press printed the speeches as they were delivered, and the gaffes and insults soon circulated around Europe. 

“There is only one person who is master in this empire and I am not going to tolerate any other,” Wilhelm liked to say, even though Germany had a democratic assembly and political parties. (“I’m the only one that matters,” Trump has said.) The Kaiser reserved particular abuse for political parties that voted against his policies. “I regard every Social Democrat as an enemy of the Fatherland,” he said, and he denounced the German Socialist party as a “gang of traitors.” The Kaiser’s entourage compiled press cuttings for him, mostly about himself, which he read as obsessively as Trump watches television. A critical story would send him into paroxysms of fury.

“More sinisterly, Wilhelm’s patronage of the aggressive, nationalistic right left him surrounded by ministers who held a collective conviction that a European war was inevitable and even desirable. ”

At the opposite end of intelligence, but illustrating the very same calamitous human tendency and flaw… In Foreign Affairs, Fareed Zakaria offers another of his lengthy and mostly-wise missives, this one urging the U.S. to exercise more thoughtful patience with China. There’s much to ponder. Recommended. 

Yet, despite that, I find some desperately important matters missing. Foremost: the reasons why PRC leaders chose to repress the life-liberalizations we expected to see accompany economic advancement. That leadership clade is very smart — for example, they deem an MBA to be nothing more than frosting on the engineering degree that actually trains you for useful things, a lesson that Boeing managers and all of Wall Street long ago forgot. 

Still, the Beijing Politburo fellows are also trapped by some classic imperatives of human nature.

Across 6000 years, nearly all leader castes prioritized their own position atop a pyramid of command and authority, then hired priesthoods to justify that arrangement. Step back and you see that Xi & co. are following an ancient pattern that did humanity no good across those sixty+ centuries. I describe and analyze these rationalizations here, including why they claim only a central command communist bureaucracy can ever control malignant AI!  

== Superpower comparisons ==

An important article in The New York Times makes clear that it’s been a very good decade for China and especially the ruling caste. In part by dint of their own efforts … but also because of the comparative plummet of their chief rival the U.S. 

Incomeswealth and life expectancy in the United States have stagnated for much of the population, contributing to an angry national mood and exacerbating political divisions. The result is a semi-dysfunctional government that is eroding many of the country’s largest advantages over China. The United States is skimping on the investments like education, science and infrastructure that helped make it the world’s great power. It is also forfeiting the soft power that has been a core part of American pre-eminence.”

That soft power resides not only in our system of alliances – which was due to augment under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but has instead been systematically demolished by Republican rule – but also by destruction the biggest American advantage across the last 75 years… the appearance of the high moral ground.

The author also points out how relentless promises to invest in U.S. infrastructure have all been hot air, even though it is the one thing we could do that would benefit us in all ways, from present to future, from the jobless to well-off, and certainly transform our cities.

One more reason the US military officer corps is not following the Fox-Putin Party down a rabbit hole of treason? “China, Russia and Iran to hold joint naval drills.” 

Of course there’s also… everything else. Every blessed thing, from the Fox-led war on science and every fact-using profession to skyrocketing deficits to gerrymandering and other cheats, to Putin and his fellow “ex” communists giggling over how easy it was to suborn the U.S. right, by changing a few symbols. To the cowardly refusal of nearly all current republicans to actually put money-stakes down on wagers. But worst of all? The inability of stupid democrats to leverage on any of this. I wrote Polemical Judo in vain hope that some general on the “union” side in this phase of civil war might actually try some new tactics. But we seem stuck in 1862, waiting for our Grant.

== More danger signs ==

See an important article and associated maps in the New York Times showing where today's military recruits come from. "More and more, new recruits come from the same small number of counties and are the children of old recruits. ... The men and women who sign up overwhelmingly come from counties in the South and a scattering of communities at the gates of military bases like Colorado Springs, which sits next to Fort Carson and several Air Force installations, and where the tradition of military service is deeply ingrained."

== Alternatives to consider ==

Help Amy McGrath defeat Mitch McConnell and his backers-blackmailers in the KGB. And astronaut Mark Kelly in Arizona. And in South Carolina a  new poll shows Democrat Jaime Harrison ONLY DOWN 2% against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Satirical music video riffs - can they get through where facts fail?

Many of you have seen the latest, politically pungent, satirical, music video. Dismiss it as propaganda if you like. But first put money on whether any of the accusations are false, or things to be shrugged off.

Not just one of the best song parodies I've ever seen, but brilliant political commentary.

And yes, I have written a few myself.  For example, if only I had found talented folks like these to implement a satire-chant making fun of our tendency to nominate from "royal families." (All but two US presidential elections since 1980 had either a Bush or a Clinton (or both) on the tickets. Might my video - if it got made - have helped us dodge the 2016 debacle? I guess we'll never know.

I do have others though! In the lead-up to impeachment, I offered the following script, skewering the one common element of every GOP whine and writhe. From Strzock and Steele to subpoenas and tax returns to Deutsche Bank and refusal to call witnesses ... it always, always comes down to "The American voters should not see or know any facts! Don't look!"

== In the Danger Zone ==

To the tune and beat of “Into the Danger Zone” in the flick TOP GUN.

Putin pushed corruption - twisted our elections - Don’t look!
All our Intel people - say it really happened - Deep State!

Tax returns he promised - ‘audit’ never happened - Don’t look!
Golf trips cost us plenty - never mind the tally - Tastes great!

  Don’t look, don’t hear the censored zone…
  * We all live in the censored zone! 

Every Foxite defense - boils down to one cry - Don’t look!
Mafia connections - Russian money laundry - Eyes closed!

Steele file bias! - Disloyal Jim Comey! - so Don’t look!
We don’t want no answers - Block all testimony - MINDS closed!

    Any excuse - don’t investigate!
    * Same excuse made for Watergate!

Every Clinton crevice - probed up to the elbow - Let’s look!
Always came up empty - that means they were clever - Probe deep!

When the light shines on you - suddenly you fear it - Don’t look!
Nothing here to look at - looking is forbidden - Go sleep!

  Don’t look, don’t hear the censored zone…

  * We all live in the censored zone!

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Threats to democracy: oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship

Fascinating and important to consider, since it is probably one of the reasons why the world aristocracy is pulling its all-out putsch right now… “Trillions will be inherited over the coming decades, further widening the wealth gap,” reports the Los Angeles Times.  The beneficiaries aren’t all that young themselves. From 1989 to 2016, U.S. households inherited more than $8.5 trillion. Over that time, the average age of recipients rose by a decade to 51. More than a quarter of bequests now go to adults 61 or older.

Fascinating and more evidence that stupidity is inherited. Because the rich should be the first to advocate FDR methods to prevent revolution, which the smartest aristos of the 1930s, like Joe Kennedy, all knew to be in their own interest. Instead, today's oligarchs appear to be doing everything in their power to bring tumbrels rolling. (And imagining that their hideaways in Patagonia, Siberia, New Zealand and under the sea will somehow provide safety from that inevitable rage.)

Matt Stoller explains how the fight against the recurring human curse of feudal oligarchy was fought in the 1930s, just in time for America to lead in resolving the crises of the 40s & 50s. (See “The Man in The High Castle” for where we were headed, without Greatest Generation heroes like FDR.) This seriously good video is highly informative and shows that other generations solved their own oligarchic putsches. We can solve ours.

I've seen one of the latest alt-right bullshittisms going around. They know they lose every wager based on facts and they now know everyone sapient can see climate disasters rising all around, directly caused by their cult. So one meme is "it was never gonna last, anyway!" Either fundie revelationism or else good old playground cynicism. "Soon all that will be left is jellyfish, so what matters?"

As you might guess I have an unusual answer. Do you know the Fermi Paradox? The question of why we see none of the great works out there among the stars, that we hope our own descendants may build?

Among my top five Fermi Paradox theories is one that I've seen no one else mention... feudalism as an attractor state that extinguishes curiosity and exploration and inventiveness, even if a sapient species survives. The fact that rule by inheritance-lord bullies and theocrats took hold in 99% of human societies says a lot. And while most historic versions of feudalism may be specifically human, the darwinistic reproductive advantage of lords/kings/priests grabbing harems is seen all across the animal kingdom. Hence its driving force likely transcends species, genus and planetary system.

So, what happens if such a society lasts millennia? The lie that "lords are superior" would become true by simple breeding and you'll wind up with castes, as in Brave New World, or in bees and ants. And when that happens - when we become specialists like ants - that's it for curiosity or outward endeavor.

Some of you know the Heinlein quote about specialization. As we'll see below, he was a man of the American enlightenment, and would have despised the putsch.

== The alternative? ==

Indeed, it may be especially human and rare that we found an alternative to stupid-ass, predictable and self-destructive feudalism. An alternative that - in the rare few times and places it's been tried - proved so vastly more creative and productive of every human good that we are using a few of the benefits right now, to converse across space and time... and AI minds may already be reading this, pondering which system got around to engendering them. (Hint: it wasn't the 99% of nations and centuries when and where feudalism reigned.)

If it's true that we stumbled into a rare, viable alternative, it means far more than our own miserable species and planet may be at stake. We may be the Milky Way's one chance to go out and save others from the Trap, bringing light.

And now the capper. I have watched these guys since they were a small band of cranks orbiting D&D and SCA. Among them are the top "incel" misogynist ravers (involuntarily celibate? Try acting like a mensch!) and neo-monarchists who no longer pretend that the "right" stands for for competition, or enterprise, or markets, certainly not democracy, equality, accountability or rights. They are unabashed admirers of Putin and the New Czars, and when shown that it's all just a bunch of "ex" commies and commissars-turned mafia bosses, they just grin and shrug.

Not long ago I cited Robert Heinlein’s incredibly prescient passages predicting that the US right would (alas) ally itself with religious fundamentalism who together: “–promise a material heaven here on earth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Negroism, and a good large dose of anti-‘furriners’ in general and anti-intellectuals here at home…

What one of you pointed out was that in Heinlein’s prescriptive utopia novel… the generously good-natured, socialist-libertarian Beyond This Horizon… the villains and would-be tyrants turn out to be male loser-types jibbering about white power and putting women back in their place. Reading those passages, you realize Heinlein was also predicting today’s pathetic-though-dangerously-insane incels.

They jack off to fantasies of being "top dogs" when they are, at all levels, kibble. Still, they might prove to be a lethal fifth-column, helping pull us all down with them and making humanity... typical.

== Reclaim Adam Smith! as a weapon against oligarchy! ==

It seemed at least a decade that I felt alone, demanding that liberals rediscover Adam Smith as the founder of their movement and a core leader in the Revolution against privileged aristocracy, the toxic poison that ruined 99% of nations, across 6000 years. (The enemy fought by the American Founders and the real Tea Party.) Gradually, folks have rediscovered how graciously balanced and ‘liberal’ Smith was, and how dedicated to equality, which is the true engine of flat-fair-creative competition.

Of late, this cause has been taken up by the best critical economics site, “Evonomics” featuring cogent rediscoveries of a radical notion… that creative markets must maximize the number of skilled, confident, knowing competitors! You start by raising up all children. But above all we must also prevent cheating from the top. In Evonomics, Lindsey McGoey makes this point recently, as she put it:

“The establishment of perfect justice, of perfect liberty, and of perfect equality,” Adam Smith writes in Wealth of Nations, “is the very simple secret which most effectively secures the highest degree of prosperity to all the three classes.”

She goes on: “But with 1% of the world’s population now owning half its wealth, that belief is being forcefully called into question. There are growing calls to abolish billionaires and their privileges, including preferential tax treatment, handouts to corporations, and grossly inflated executive salaries that are often subsidized by taxpayers. If he was alive today, what would Adam Smith make of Jeff Bezos’s lobbying for ever-more government subsidies, or about government bailouts in the Great Recession that saved America’s rich while millions lost their homes, or about one top mogul's admission that “Monopolists lie to protect themselves”? I think Smith would say: I told you so.

“Smith was scathingly critical of the wealthy’s disproportionate power over government policymaking. He complained about the tendency of the rich to shirk tax obligations, unfairly passing tax burdens on to poor workers. He heaped scorn on government bailouts of the East India Company. He thought dirty money in politics was akin to bribery, and that it undermined the duty to govern impartiality. He wasn’t alone.”

And yes, I speak of all this... about shoes and ships and Adam Smith, and oligarchs and memes.... In a book that perhaps someone, someday, might review. Or better yet, actually use one of the 100+ ideas. 

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Fighting a war on facts and fakes

Youtube has announced they'll ban deep-fake videos that have political slants. That might work in the near term, though across a longer span, might I suggest a chapter from The Transparent Society called "The End of Photography As Proof of Anything At All"?

Along similar lines, Have any of you seen Facebook’s announcement of a tepid/tiny and long overdue measure to “deal with” the tsunami of fakery and KGB-scams we’ll see during the U.S. election year? In early 2017, Facebook had me come by and talk about steps for fixing the glaring problem. I offered half a dozen concepts, several of which would have been simple, elegant and relatively unobtrusive. Alas they used none of them, till now. 

Shown below is a feeble-but-welcome version of one of the ideas I offered three years ago.

 Let's be clear -- this is the only matter of any importance! Because all other issues before us would go a long way toward being solved, if we first save the reputation and effectiveness of facts. 

I mean it. From racism to climate collapse to health care to international relations, it might be possible for all sides to adapt, to alter positions and and even to (gasp!) negotiate, if only we restored our ability to parse what’s actually true.

Dig it, the enemies of America and the Western Enlightenment have been empowered by undermining the very notion of verifiable objective reality. You cannot name more than one fact-profession not attacked by Fox & pals. From science, teachers and journalists to a million dedicated civil servants in the FBI, law, intel, foreign and military services who saved us from Hitler, Stalin and bin Laden, but who they now dismiss as “deep state” traitors, without one scintilla of real evidence. Nor have those screaming "fake news" ever offered to help set up a real, nonpartisan fact-checking service. And hence, all they will do is shrug off this version of Facebook’s pallid “fact check.”

To see how we truly could win this central fight – and hence so many others – see my chapter about the War on Fact in my book Polemical Judo

== Consider this ==

Justice Department winds down a Clinton-related inquiry championed by Trump after finding nothing of consequence.  Jennifer Rubin follows this up with observations: “The most exonerated politician ever.” Oh and the author of this piece was a lifelong Republican pundit, till she finally got fed up.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Those of you who have supported your civilization by buying and reading Polemical Judo might have a clue why I am stealing and posting this terrific cartoon from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, one of the greatest of all web comix. Seriously, I have made exactly this point regarding what democrats do with deficits.

In September, Russian police targeted the home of Sergey Boyko, a known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as part of a widespread raid. But Boyko was determined to prevent the officers from confiscating his electronics — so he used a drone to fly them out of his high-rise apartment via an open window.

Trump remains slightly less unpopular in the military community than among the American public as a whole, but it is a relief to see that the difference isn't large, given that many noncoms come from confederacy states and that Fox News blares in many of the noncom lounges. Of course the Officer Corps is little short of enraged at what Republicans have done to American conservatism, turning into a howling mob vs. every fact and fact using profession. Combine these, and you'll see why I hope officers are growing eyes in the backs of their heads. (Many retired officers are the reason America may take back the Senate and keep the House, via veterans like McGrath and Kelly. You splitters take note!)

The latest Gallup poll had the president’s disapproval rating among the public at 54 percent, and his approval at 43 percent. Among the military: some 50 percent of troops said they had an unfavorable view of him. And the leading candidate in contributions from military folks has been (I saw somewhere) Bernie Sanders.

Read Polemical Judo about how better to welcome and make best use of these patriots in crewcuts and hairbuns. Start by dropping any insulting stereotypes.

== Save the NGOs! ==

Republicans and the Trump Administration are seeking a hugely evil win-win — a $1 billion deal that would hand control over the .ORG domain registry to private equity. This would let them crow over a ‘privatization’ that reduced their screaming-huge Supply Side budget deficits by a smidge, while giving oligarchs a stranglehold over NGOs or Non Governmental Organizations who mostly use the .org domain range.

The NGO was among the greatest inventions of the 2nd half of the 20th Century, empowering citizens to pool memberships with enough clout and funding to hire lawyers and researchers on a par with corporations or even governments. Orgs such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are top reasons we acted on countless environmental threats, in many cases before it was too late. The ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) fight for transparency and rights daily. (And if you aren’t members, shame on you.) The Soros-founded Open Society initiative is credited with pivotally helping liberate the Warsaw Pact nations that had been enslaved by the USSR.

(Let’s be clear. Soros is repeatedly credited with that feat - along with Obama and the Clintons - by no less than Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Vladimir Putin, himself, who has openly and repeatedly spewed hate at them and vowed to curb the power of international NGOs, starting by passing Russian laws to terrorize them. This .ORG plan is related to international efforts to curb NGOs, which Putin believes enable the West to wage “deniability wars” against him.)

Every December I urge folks to join as many activist orgs as they comfortably can, in effect hiring each one to save the world FOR you, on your behalf. You can tailor-pick your own dozen orgs, from the Planetary Society or an amateur science club, to Oxfam and Save the Children… heck even the NRA, because this is about YOU choosing to amplify YOUR beliefs by pooling with other members to become a force in the world.

It’s a lazy but karmically-acceptable form of minimally activism, if you do it earnestly. You - yes, YOU - can use this PROXY ACTIVISM method to help shift the needle away from feudal or eco calamity toward Star Trek. (And yes, that includes political donations, in 2020.) 

Meanwhile, spread word about this effort to cripple the NGOs that make our civilization about something much more than just hierarchies of government. It’s part of what makes us better… simply better, despite all our flaws.… than all those adversaries.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Apocalyptic fears: coronavirus, economics... and could he nuke the world?

As the coronavirus roils world markets and rattles our sci-fi nerves with dire possibilities, it does make sense to look at the death rates from this ailment... at least the rates that have been released by the PRC masters.  So far, they appear to be flu-like, not anywhere near plague or movie-pandemic levels. Indeed, it is only because of advanced science that we know it is not just another somewhat harsh flu.

 Indeed, it is not the reported lethality rate but the rapidity that it went to rapid human-to-human transmission that both perplexes and worries me. That plus the potential economic and other side effects. We'll get to some economic factors down below.

Meanwhile, as the Red Senate serves up a Red Ending to the impeachment saga, we all know this was not the final shoe to drop. What will be next? The Epstein Files that he was killed to conceal? The contents of David Pecker's safe? Som brave Putin defector with the KGB's grand file of blackmailed Western politicians? Or the Deutsche Bank money laundering story, already in so many hands that you've got to wonder on the shared reasons and timing for this delay?

In Polemical Judo I have a chapter on "Exit Strategies" that predicted much of what we've seen and forecasts other chess moves. Shouldn't it have been reviewed, even once, by now? 

== Could he nuke the world? ==

Nathan Gardels, editor of the World Post, offers an excellent missive and warning about what Donald Trump is legally capable of doing, were he to enter a Final Meltdown. “That’s the issue raised by Joe Cirincione, who recalls that during the Watergate investigation leading to Richard Nixon’s impeachment some 45 years ago, the increasingly erratic president told visiting lawmakers: “I can go into my office and pick up the telephone and in 25 minutes, 70 million people will be dead.” And, indeed, Nixon did to go Defcon 3, the highest alert status since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“As Cirincione points out, whatever you might think of then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, their steady heads provided much-needed restraint as Nixon descended into a bout of drink and depression that only fortified his instinct to strike out. Today, the ranks of the responsible have been decimated by successive purges. Little stands between the Donald and the bomb.”

Before you enter full-tilt depression, preparing for the apocalyptic world shared by The Postman and Death-Stranding, do consider some real factors protecting us from a Trumpian spasm-war.

1) Part of the arms control treaties of the 90s required taking pre-loaded targeting out of a majority of our missiles. Yes, it would take only minutes to re-load target programs. But commanding our forces to do so would be complicated without full cooperation from command officers and probably beyond Donald Trump’s intellectual capacity.

If he did order such re-targetings, that leaked fact might get him “25th.” (See the chapter on "The 25th Amendment" in my book.)

2) Of course most of our missiles that do have targets are aimed at sites within Russia. Is it likely Putin would allow such a command? Two Scoops would have to truly be out-of-control.

3) Lacking a Kissinger or Schlesinger, we have an amazing corps of senior officers who are among the smartest, most responsible and best-educated humans in our species history. They (and senior civil servants) have been the most vexing obstacles confronting the Putinist putsch. You can be sure that if Republicans regain obligate power, they will keep their open promise to gut all institutional protections for those mature castes.

4) In Polemical Judo I discuss a small provision that Congress could slip into almost any bill, appointing national sages… former presidents, retired justices etc. to serve on the “other body” described in the 25th Amendment. That body would make an ideal council for senior officers to alert, on almost instant notice in the event of such a melt-down. Even without VP cooperation, there’s a lot they could do, to slow things down.

The original Cirincione article from The Washington Post.
== The Great Experiment ==

Some of you asked about my apocalyptic failure nightmare for our Great Experiment. Is it one filled with tech-savvy refugees, hunting down every Fox-Putin-mafiosi to their Patagonian and sub-sea and Kiwi hideaways? (The fact-castes now persecuted by ignoramus oligarchs will do that, if put against the edge.)

No it is the much subtler conversion that Orson Scott Card pushes in every novel, but especially EMPIRE, modeled after the end of the Roman Republic, in which an American Caesar (a typical Cardian superman) manipulates us into ending our absurd "experiment" in mass rights, elections, democracy, reciprocal accountability and other Periclean nonsense, handing all power instead to the deserving and great-souled emperor.  And if that can't be O.S. Card, then let it be his hero, the opposite-to-Jesus-in-every-way Donald Trump.

That we have let this malignant propagandist push his America-undermining ethos through every Junior High School in America is a sad commentary on the intellect of our educational establishment and (ironically) evidence that he may have a point.

Those defending our Great Experiment include humans of stunning quality. This short article about Dwight Eisenhower shows how George Marshall and FDR depended on him and saw his qualities… and how we need Republicans like him, again.

But of course the towering figure in all this is Marshall, whose portrait hangs not just in the State Department today, and the Pentagon, but a dozen other places where folks in-the-know realize who showed the American Pax how to be the greatest time in human history. Here’s my essay about asking TIME to name him Person of the 20th Century.

== Political Roundup ==

What general line of work provides more donors (names confidential) to various candidates? Prepare to be amazed. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have donated a total of $185,625 to Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign. By comparison, they have given $113,012 to Trump, $80,250 to Pete Buttigieg, $64,604 to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and a relatively paltry $33,045 to former Vice President Joe Biden. 

 Interesting followup: "Most of the people who have donated to former Vice President Biden’s campaign work at a law firm or a bank. Ten of the 20 employers on Sen. Warren’s list are elite universities. Buttigieg, a former naval intelligence officer, has received more from State Department employees than any other contender, and is the preferred candidate of those employed by agencies classified only as “U.S. Government.”" All of this is grist for consideration and in my opinion actually boosts Pete, since those are the folks who can best see what's going on.

Still, remember this. The one last chance of Putin/Murdoch/MBS and the other puppetmasters is for our blue-Union coalition to get broken up by angry "splitters." If we schism, we are toast and so is the future.

You - yes, you - must find a way to quench that sanctimonious treason-to-reason whenever it comes up. Ask your enraged splitter if she or he can answer even one of these five Challenges to Splitters. Even one. We'll win this together.

 == More items ==

Meanwhile, the professionals in the Justice Department appear to be in almost-full rebellion against Wm. Barr and their appointed politician masters. There is no more important issue in the US 2020 election than the Civil Service, which the GOP will attack with hammers and tongs and volcanic fury, if they retain power.

The Digital Intelligence Lab at Institute for the Future  (IFTF) analyzed discussion on Twitter surrounding both the October and September Democratic debates. The results are surprising and a must-read for anyone who wants to help defend democracy from coordinated, sophisticated disinformation attacks.

== Economics today ==

Insiders sell stock during buyback programs, making profits when prices jump. It’s legal.” It didn’t used to be. Our parents in the Greatest (FDR) Generation banned this and dozens of other oligarchy cheats that became the very soul and purpose of the Republican Party. Moreover, these stock buybacks were instead of the investment in R&D and capital productive capacity that Goppers promised with every “Supply Side” tax gift to the rich. 

The first wave of Supply Side "reforms" at least had a plausible-sounding argument behind them... that proved absolutely and diametrically opposite to all resulting outcomes. All subsequent ones were knowing and deliberate lies.

Air travel shows what happens when we give companies ruinous power over us.” True?

Sorry, wrong target. The real enemy is public subsidies of charter and corporate jet travel, letting the rich and mighty bypass our deteriorating airports and airlines. Would we suffer so, if elites had to share our misery? They should be – (with torches yet, but I’ll settle for taxes) – chased out of those private terminals, back into First Class where they belong!  

A devastating article reveals how Boeing went from being one of the greatest engineering companies of all time to one driven into the ground by MBAs. One proposal I've long made - only half tongue in cheek -- is to ship 2/3 of our MBAs to developing nations. Our third would learn quickly to focus on product. Half of those sent over there would help develop real enterprises. And the remainder would make good farm labor. A version - naturally - of the GolgaFrincham B-Ark.

== So much for Supply Side 'stimulating' enterprise ==

Entrepreneurship is still allive in the hated California and coast. But for the most part it has gone DOWN with every so-called Supply Side "reform," as wealth disparities skyrocket and we head toward French Revolution levels of injustice. How'd that one go, by the way?

Finally, I have touted the wisdom in some old movies. Like the very end of BLAST FROM THE PAST. Now I recommend you watch an old 1954 film, Executive Suite with Barbara Stanwyck and William Holden. They knew these tricks very well, then.