Saturday, December 29, 2018

Your right to see, under attack!

The most important advance in civil liberties in this century so far, in the U.S. and by extension the western world, was in 2013 when the Obama Administration and then five U.S. district courts ruled that citizens have a powerful right to record the actions of officials - especially police - in public. No interaction with authority is more needful of accountability than at the level of the street. Moreover, a citizenry who are accustomed to that right will apply sousveillance also upward, as I have long held and as I describe in The Transparent Society and in EARTH

Now the U.S. Eighth District Court in Missouri has declared the exact opposite, allowing cops to seize or break your camera or arrest you, even when you are clearly not interfering. This case will go to the Supreme Court, and we are on notice. No electoral defeat can harm us as much as this, if upheld. Historians will see it as a turning point, toward Orwellian nightmare or revolution.

Read the article and note that the lawyers arguing for this right base it on the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Using the 2nd in this context is clever! Because indeed, the "arms" that most benefit the citizenry nowadays are - indeed - cameras, the new Great Equalizer. But I have long maintained all the ACLU attorneys etc are missing something terribly important. 

This right is most-fundamentally protected by the Sixth Amendment! 

The under-rated and almost never-mentioned and utterly vital Sixth! The one that guarantees citizens a right to demand and command access to exculpatory witnesses and evidence that can prove their innocence of an accused crime.  And what could fill this need better than video proof of your story? Why isn’t this obvious?

I'm putting out an alert! This really matters. The rising world oligarchy does not want citizens embedded with an impudent, core-level assumption of a right to look at elites. 

And here's how you can help.

== Stand up for the opposite. For freedom ==

Remember Lawrence Lessig? He tried to make election corruption and finance reform a major issue during the 2016 US campaigns. You know that I urge all citizens to join at least ten NGOs that suit your own notions of what needs doing. I rate Larry’s Equal Citizens as one of the more important ones. Now he and colleagues launch an experiment—a podcast series called “Another Way” — designed to give the listeners a chance to reflect and think, and view our culture as a way to progress. You can subscribe to the podcast, and get the first episode to get a thoughtful and thought-provoking perspective. 

Did you join your own ten chosen NGOs, where for a small membership you get others to fight to save the world for you, in whichever mix of priorities you want? Not yet? Do five before New Years and you'll be glad.

As for you millionaires out there, there are loads of ideas for ways that you might help make things much better!

Here's one that some of you have seen before. It would transform the world.

== Let the usual cleanup of henchmen commence ==

And so it begins, accidental death of no-longer-convenient loyal servants and enforcers, as the leaders of mafia clans prove once again they expect loyalty to flow in just one direction. 

Calling all Henchmen! 
Indeed Some mere millionaire could change the world more than the Gates Foundation, by simply offering what I call a “Henchman’s Prize,” luring out of the shadows some flunky who could then bring a wretched conspiracy crashing down.

My proposal for a "Henchman's Prize" goes back two decades — a million dollars plus a new identity for whoever blows the whistle — with full evidence — on the "worst" concealed plot or scheme that year! I suspect nothing would be more cost-efficient at helping poor nations eliminate corrupt kleptocracies and convert to a diamond-shaped social pattern... or help developed nations maintain their healthy accountability systems. (See: The Transparent Society. See also 

“A permanent office might be created, outside the justice or intelligence communities, that will confidentially and securely advise any person, in America or around the world, who may be thinking about revealing information about bad activities, including those that are illegal or harmful to the people, or that impair the effective operation of justice, democracy, or fair markets. According to each individual's needs, the informant may be steered toward intelligence or law-enforcement services, or toward open source networks, or even toward mass media. Judiciously, some varying types of protection and/or rewards would be made available to brave whistleblowers. Yes, this one will confuse some people. But I hope it will percolate in the minds of some.” See other political suggestions.

And yes, I have repeatedly called upon folks to pass this suggestion, especially, to the new president of Mexico, who could use it to rip the guts out of endemic corruption and set an example to transform the world.

== And finally... get ready for bad stuff ==

 I cannot emphasize enough that a critical mass of Americans must view the 1969 Costa-Gravas film “Z.” Academy Award winner, though you must endure subtitles. It’s based on the true story of the Greek coup that ended democracy in its birthplace, though it also seems startlingly pertinent to the Mueller investigation. Above all, the last five minutes of the film has an M. Night Shyamalan twist that carries a savage bite and warning. 

Only in our case, it’s not the military to be feared. But a world mafia.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Contrast: Two opposite kinds of human… or president... and today's "spiritual leaders."

As I write this, Donald Trump finished a super-secret couple of hours hurrying in-and-out of Ain Assad Air Base in Iraq, safely in the middle of nowhere. Snubbing Iraq’s leaders, who deserved a meeting in their own country, which all of DT’s predecessors had the courtesy – and courage – to include. And certainly no visit to men and women actually in the field, which Bush, Clinton and Obama all did. Well well, now he’s able to say “See? I visited troops!”

Today, Mr. Trump is not our central topic, but an illustrative example of how far down a rabbit-hole of hypocrisy and rationalization have plunged those who claim to be America’s spiritual guides. That plunge is demarked with clarity by comparing Trump to one of his predecessors.

== We were all better at 39 ==

Probably the most devastating indictment of the monstrous men who have taken over most American Christian pulpits and seminaries comes by comparing their adulation of Donald Trump – a salacious pervert-bully who avoids church like getting a cavity filled – vs. Jimmy Carter, a modest, generous, faithful man who taught Sunday school for all the 72 years he was married to the same woman, except while serving his country in creaky submarines that saved the world.

Case in point: this modest recollection of how, as a young naval officer, he (heroically) dashed into a melted Canadian reactor as part of a team to disassemble the core. Faith, humility, skill, courage…

…and yet the party line among fundies – especially Baptists – is that men were designed to be aggressive louts and flawed sinners. And hence those who sin a lot, and then repent, are the highest order of being. Of course they say that, with literally hundreds of pastors now accused of sexual perversions on a par with their beloved “saved-sinner” president. (Though notice that the church-going, once-married Bill Clinton is not allowed to repent.)

Despite the absolutely damning and verified salacious dastardy of the “pussy-grabbing” tape, and countless stories from a life of philandering, about 80 percent of white evangelical voters backed Trump in 2016, and exit polls from this year's mid-term election showed little or no erosion of that support, even after porn star Stormy Daniels, and Playmate-of-the-Year, Karen McDougal, offered detailed accounts of sex with him while he was married. Nor is the hypocrisy just about Trump. An eight-month investigation by reporters at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram uncovered hundreds of sex abuse allegations at independent fundamentalist Baptist churches around the country. 
This article notes 412 allegations of abuse across nearly 200 churches just among unaffiliated Baptist institutions, without tabulating complaints within the Southern Baptist Convention or other denominations.

That only scratches the surface. A “conservative” movement that once frowned on divorce now has twice the rate of Democrats. Preaching “abstinence,” red states have far higher rates of teen sex/pregnancy, STDs and domestic abuse. Gambling used to be sin and “cleanliness was next to godliness.” Now the GOP is owned by casino moguls, oil-sheiks, pederasts, pimps, polluters, mafia dons and raised-communist Kremlin agents. Setting aside the anomaly of Utah, name a metric of either decent living or following the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount in which red states aren't worse than blue… including fiscal integrity and balanced budgets.

Yeah, sure. Male humans inherit a bunch of obsolete impulses from either evolution or a God who designed them in. (Ironically, belief in evolution lets God off the hook for a grotesquely culpable crime.)

So, how do these folks feel about a man like Jimmy Carter, who spent his life controlling those base instincts and setting an example as a real man? Well, funny thing about it. According to fundies, that’s a lesser kind of person than a repentant hyper-sinner. Go ahead, do everything opposite to the bearded-beaded, sandal-wearing, tolerance-preaching, asylum-seeking refugee rabbi from Galilee. All is washed away once you sob on TV, declare yourself forgiven, and then cash the checks that come pouring in.

(Theological note: that trick – to sin knowing you’ll repent for absolution later – was declared by church leaders centuries ago to be the one that's unforgivable! And hence, these thumpers on TV are, by process of elimination, almost certainly cynical atheists.)

But let's revisit the 94-year old Jimmy Carter, our generation's Harry Truman.

== A rough-tough presidency ==

Yes, President 39 inherited a shitstorm. The wild, Vietnam-fueled economic mismanagement of LBJ, Nixon and Ford came to roost just as Arab nations (inevitably) seized power over our gas prices. Any other president would have arm-twisted the Fed to keep employment up, but Carter appointed Paul Volcker and said “fix this.” Whereupon Volcker imposed short term pain that ended hyper-inflation, and Ronald Reagan basked in the credit. (Today’s right adulates Volcker, but not the man who appointed him.)

Carter kept making “maturity mistakes,” assuming that doing the right thing would always pay off… the diametric opposite to Trump, whose “deal” errors always arise from the nastiest instincts. Hence, in the biggest mistake of Carter’s presidency, when Iranian revolutionaries took over a hundred US hostages, he “set an example” by taking the equivalent Iranian diplomats in the US and putting them on planes for Tehran, stunning the ayatollahs, who had expected an exchange of threats followed by a formal trade.  Carter should have ensconced the Iranian “counter-hostages” in a beachfront, comfy hotel and let the difference in treatment get photographed daily, highlighting the radicals' barbarity till the mullahs did a swap.

That, alone, might not have ensured re-election. But throw in no-betrayal by Ted Kennedy… and liberals smart enough not to insist on their worst, most-insane error... forced school bussing … and things might have gone differently.  The Roosevelt coalition of the Greatest Generation might have held together enough to stymie wave after wave of Supply Side (voodoo) rapes of the middle class. Might have. Might have.

Oh, forget ‘might have.’ What stands out now is a Christmas contrast. That supposed Christians sneer at the ex-president who most clearly follows the teachings of Jesus, while singing hosannahs to one who is diametrically opposite to admirable in every conceivable way… and his VP who daily prays for the world to end. 

Read this essay – or at least read captions till the important last few pages.

And now, contrast all that kind of man to one who speaks and acts from “the gut.”

== The micro-biota speaks ==

"I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me." 

ol' Two Scoops really made it that explicit.  

Of course this is insane. But it would be one thing if his gut had led him to good policies in either business or statecraft. 

In fairness, there were times when his "gut" did serve him! Like betting on New York City when it hit tock bottom in the 70s. And playing Merv Griffin for a billion dollar scam. But that only means his failed casinos etc. were even worse losses, because it's been documented he would be richer today if his inheritance had simply gone into a stock market index fund. Some gut.

(Watch as the whole "collusion" thing becomes a sideshow to Money Laundering -- billions from Russian oligarchs channeled through Deutsche Bank.)

The killer about this "gut" thing is not Trump's open war against science and all other fact-users, including the intel/military/law professionals. The entire GOP-confederacy shares that. 

No, it's the number of "great guys" he appoints, whom he later denounces for betraying him. More than all of the last ten presidents combined. 

That can't be arm-waved away with magical incantations. (This same article expresses his rage at Fed chairman Jerome Powell, his own appointee.) Trump Began His Presidency With 30 Senior White House Staffers. Only 10 Are Left. A similar ratio holds for cabinet rank officers, as Trump clears out any who might betray him via the 25th Amendment.

A clear majority of his "great guys" later betray him in one way or another. Who do you know who has a worse "gut" than that?

And all of the above was written before the firestorm over Defense Secretary James Mattis's spectacularly repudiating resignation. Another "great guy" who later "betrays."

The gut has the same IQ as the rest. And we need to understand that the real civil war is by an idiocracy against smart people. Period.

From FB commenters:

Special Counsel Mueller should hire a gastroenterologist on the team. Interviews will tell nothing. A colonoscopy is required here.” And…

“In Kurt Vonnegut's MOTHER NIGHT, the narrator gives a eulogy for a Neo-Nazi by saying to his mourners/supporters, "There will be more like him as long as there are more men who think with their guts instead of with their heads."

DT, after meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore this past June: "Our conversation was ...very productive. We produced something...beautiful." But after five months of canceled meetings and dissatisfaction, there is no sign of progress toward "denuclearization" of the North. Nada. Um, accomplishments, anyone?

Oh... but "We fell in love" says ol' Two Scoops. Word has it he even let Kim have a rare second scoop of ice cream... and got us what?

== And finally... ==

I'm not the only one worried about how many of the world's mafias and despots want a US+Israel vs Iran mini-war. 
It will help distract attention from domestic woes for Trump, the Saudis, Netanyahu and the Iranian mullahs themselves. 
It will send oil prices skyrocketing, benefiting guess who. 
And the mastermind Don-of-all-world-mafias, Vlad, gets to rake in all the chips at the end.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Dinosaurs and delusions

- Back to the political maelstrom. What a year. Almost 10% as exhausting as 1968. (Gosh, exactly half a century ago. See the special way it ended.) Just remember, we survived that awful year, and got stronger /better. We can do it again.

Let's start with...

== Matters of Mattis ==

I'll not go into huge details about the Mattis resignation. Some liberals are conceding that ending one of our wars - in Syria - might be a good thing. (And the dems need asap to withdraw House consent to the ceding of war powers.) 

But the pundits ignore what those 2000 US troops have been doing. While conducting low-cost reduction missions on ISIS, they were primarily protecting the Kurdish majority of NE Syria... the only Muslim people on Earth who love us. (They won't, after we betray them, the way GHW Bush betrayed the Marsh Arabs in 1993.)

Now Erdogan is free to crush them, cementing his alliance with Trump's controller, V. Putin, who gets an arc from Moscow and Crimea through Ankara, Lataika, Damascus, through Iraq to Iran and Hormuz. A new, much-better Warsaw Pact. Know what you are looking at.

== My warning stands... ==

And yes, in order to fully anchor-in Iran as a Russian protectorate, Putin needs a brief US-Iran "war." Which Trump and the Saudis - and Netanyahu and the Iranian mullahs - all want desperately as distraction from domestic troubles. 

Mattis could have stayed to help block it. Now Trump will have a compliant SecDef and JCS chief, while a valuable and vulnerable tripwire -- a whole US carrier strike group -- has been ordered to steam - completely unnecessarily - into a narrow deathtrap in the straits of Hormuz.

God bless and save and protect the skilled and dedicated men and women of the US Navy.

== Know your pachyderms! ==

Those who are mourning the demise of the Weekly Standard -- a “courageously” anti-Trump version of Republicanism -- seem to forget its roots. But some folks do remember that the editor/publisher, Always-Wrong Bill Kristol, was one of the neoconservatives - or neocons - who helped raise up Dennis “friend to boys” Hastert to lead the GOP and end the practice of adult-negotiated politics in America. They helped concocted the so-called Tea Party, re-igniting the American Civil War.

These fellows gave us G.W. Bush and contrived “WMD” rationalizations for the 2nd Iraq War, destabilizing the world in order to give billions in “emergency” contracts to Cheney-Bush companies. 

Yes, their polysyllabic incantations gave conservatism a faux-intellectual sheen that Trumpists have dropped in favor of cave-grunts. But both were pungent festivals of lies, in service to oligarchy.

It did them little good. By 2005 the same feudal lords who now prop up Trumpism dropped the neocons like a frat king dumping his “nerd friend” after copying the big test. Weekly Standard was a consolation prize to keep the followers of Leo Strauss from realizing the magnitude of that betrayal, but aristos no longer think it worth subsidizing. The rising world mafia feudalism that’s waging war on all fact-professions never trusted its pet intelligencia-parrots and would rather they stop squawking. Just go away now.

Read especially the final paragraphs of this piece, as Kristol’s fellow neocon monster John Podhoretz whines and rationalizes the demise of his species. See these dying dinosaurs writhe in a death-throes spat with a toxic-evil undead zombie-confederate elephant, Steve King, jealous that at least he remains relevant in the "crazy years" America they helped create.

== The foremost human trait: obstinate delusion ==

Each of us was raised on a sanctimonious mythology: 

   “I'm one of the few who see clearly what’s going on, surrounded by sheep who are blindly following the hidden masters.” 

Admit it. That's exactly what you believe, isn’t it? 

Indeed, your own particular narrative may be partly right! There are times when our Suspicion of Authority (SoA) reflex is on target, especially if supported by strong evidence.

And yet, any truly smart person has assigned a brain corner to notice when such a narrative seems too good, too pat, too smugly satisfying to be completely true. 

Here’s an example from the left. Listen to George Carlin railing that the big corporations already own us and we are all sheep-slaves… (except for delighted audience members clapping and paying to see him; you're no sheep!) In fact, everything Carlin says is true, to an extent! He describes the exact failure mode that crushed 99% of our ancestors in 6000 years of feudalism that spanned every continent except Australia. 

But by turning it into an “I’m mad as hell!” exaggeration-gloom rant, Carlin ignores the fact that he and the audience are free to denounce, a freedom that can only be augmented if it is admitted. Rather, he becomes a drug pusher for the modern addiction-high, accomplishing nothing for us at all.

== Even worse on the other side ==

If Carlin exaggerates to a degree that’s more harmful than not, then the lines pushed by today’s mad-right – using identical methods and pressing similar emotional buttons -- are mostly just lies. Take an example:

The right's narrative now is that "flipping" a perp -- 
by promising a lesser sentence to a crook you can easily get a jury to convict  -- is suddenly a vile trick. When did that happen? 

Oh, right. In fact, the practice always merits scrutiny, and juries have rightfully nullified cases that depend only on flipped testimony. Folks who were convicted solely by jailhouse snitches are being sprung today. But none of that applies here, where mountains of corroboration also pile skyward. When Donald Trump denounces a "rat" it is straight out of mafia lingo. And if Michael Flynn thinks he was entrapped, he is welcome to make that case before a jury of 12 decent fellow citizens. What, Mike? Go ahead and make your case.

What's the underlying beef? The real rage here is that the right never got "flips" against the Clintons or Obamas! 

Hm, why not? After 25 years of relentless grillings, investigations and hearings costing us half a Billion dollars? (That's with a "B.") With Koch/Fox and other huge whistle blower rewards on offer, plus fame and fortune to entice any rats, squealers or woke henchmen? What, no one stepped up with a smoking gun? Nobody in the vast periphery around the Clintons etc. could be coerced or bribed or even coaxed to do their patriotic duty? Wow, such loyalty.

Of course the truth is that the Carter, Clinton and Obama administrations were virtually blemish free, with almost nada, zip, zero indictable offenses and absolutely none for malfeasance of office. (Seriously: "email procedures'? What you got is (horror) mistakes in EMAIL procedures?!? Identical procedures to those used by Colin Powell, George W. Bush, Mike Pence, Ivanka and Jared Kushner? Seriously? Aren't you embarrassed?)

Sane people would contrast that with the endless tsunami of Republican turpitude, including almost a dozen outright child-buggering sexual predators. A party now owned and operated by casino moguls. Combine that with the GOP's open war against every single fact-profession, and their devotion to Kremlin/KGB pals raised on Leninist dogma, and chumminess with murderous despots and mafia gangs... and might sane/decent Republicans conclude they are on the wrong side?

No, no. Can't have that. Keep invoking the Clintons! 
What, zero indictments or squealers? 
Well, then.... The Clintons... um... were "good at hiding the bodies! Yeah, that's the ticket! Real slick criminals, the best. Geniuses!" 

But, um then, so-skilled, so-competent compared to the Fox/GOP/Trump clown car? In that case, then, again... maybe you picked the wrong side?

(Added note: the attached illustration-clipping - already way obsolete re Trump -- describes the number of each administration's officials indicted/convicted. First, it ignores shame-resignations. Second, it is also way-soft on the Bushes etc. Ford and Clinton and Obama were rightly criticized for downgrading or pardoning some folks from the previous regime -- in the interests of "political peace and healing." Not that it ever did any good or was remotely appreciated. Hence, the score for Nixon, Bush and Bush would actually be far higher. )

And finally... 

A large fraction of the most-inciting things you see on Twitter, Facebook etc were designed by experts - many in the Kremlin - to get your juices flowing. And yes, even -- especially -- some of the memes you most agreed-with and most-eagerly retweeted or passed along. Ponder that a moment!

Sure, the Putin-led mafia/oligarchy favors the gone-insane American right.  This article explores how jubilant the Kremlin is, over all of this. “Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving,” one analyst said. “Russia can just relax and watch and root for Trump, which Putin does at every TV appearance.” But their top goal is division and disfunction over here. A mighty empire torn apart from within.

(Twenty-five years ago I spoke at CIA, in the glow of the end of the Cold War, predicting that underdogs would innovate and learn lessons from 6000 years of history, when other empires were similarly vulnerable to overconfidence. I got smirks then. The same slides today get gasps.)

So you -- yes you -- need to be careful which memes you choose to spread. Yes, in phase 8 of the American Civil War, we need to be fierce. But not with rudeness or hate that either breaks our Big Tent coalition or drives Republicans back into the mafia's arms.

Have we been here before?  The "Zinoviev letter" was a fraudulent document published by the British Daily Mail newspaper four days before the general election in 1924. It purported to be a directive from Grigory Zinoviev, the head of the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow, to the Communist Party of Great Britain, ordering it to engage in all sorts of seditious activities. It said the resumption of diplomatic relations (by a Labour government) would hasten the radicalisation of the British working class. This would have constituted a non-trivial interference in British politics, and as a result it was deeply offensive to British voters, turning them against the Labour Party. The letter seemed authentic at the time, but historians now agree it was a forgery. The letter aided the Conservative Party, by hastening the collapse of the Liberal Party vote that produced a Conservative landslide.

I said as much 25 years ago. This is standard technique. And we need to get a lot smarter.