Friday, September 9, 2016

NASA Study Warns That Republican Policies Will Destroy America

Will America go the way of the Roman Empire? NASA says yes. Our consumption glut and our obscene imbalance of wealth will eventually destroy our civilization. For decades now, scientists and Democrats have been warning Republicans that right-wing policies are dangerous, but the Koch brothers (and all others who take advantage of the Citizens United loophole to buy conservative politicians) and their corrupt congressmen aren't listening. Under Republican congressional rule, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Resources are dwindling because of climate change and other factors, yet the super-rich are unaffected by these changes since they have more access to the vanishing resources. 500 years from now, some historian will write "The Rise and Fall Of The American Empire" as a final epitaph. The full report on the study comes from The National Journal and is reprinted here:

Few think Western civilization is on the brink of collapse — but it's also doubtful the Romans and Mesopotamians saw their own demise coming either.

If we're to avoid their fate, we'll need policies to reduce economic inequality and preserve natural resources, according to a NASA-funded study that looked at the collapses of previous societies.

"Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed," reads the study. "The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses."
In unequal societies, researchers said, "collapse is difficult to avoid.... Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society."

As limited resources plague the working class, the wealthy, insulated from the problem, "continue consuming unequally" and exacerbate the issue, the study said.
Meanwhile, resources continue to be used up, even by the technologies designed to preserve them. For instance, "an increase in vehicle fuel efficiency technology tends to enable increased per capita vehicle miles driven, heavier cars, and higher average speeds, which then negate the gains from the increased fuel-efficiency," the study said.
The researchers used what they termed a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula to reach their conclusions. The formula uses factors such as birth rates, resources, and income classes to create a mathematical equation to project outcomes.

The study was sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and headed by the National Science Foundation's Safa Motesharrei.

For those who think modern society is immune from the problems that brought down ancient civilizations, a "brief overview of collapses demonstrates not only the ubiquity of the phenomenon, but also the extent to which advanced, complex and powerful societies are susceptible to collapse," the study said.

So how do we save ourselves? "Collapse can be avoided, and population can reach a steady state at the maximum carrying capacity, if the rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed equitably," reads the report.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thom Hartmann Names Names of Senate Republican Gun-Lobby Whores

While Congressional Democrats conduct a righteous gun control “sit-in,” and 92% of the American people long for common sense gun reform, you may wonder who exactly are the people blocking an assault weapons ban and voting to arm terrorists? Well, wonder no more. Thanks to a crusading liberal author and talk-show host, we now have the names of the Republican man-servants of the NRA.

Thom Hartmann, in an article he wrote for Op-ed News, exposes the diabolical corruption:

“It shouldn't come as a surprise that the NRA contributed a total of more than $36 million to 50 Republican senators over the course of their careers, according to the Center for American Progress Action Fund. And there are 10 Republican senators, representing 10 percent of the votes in the Senate, who have gotten an average of $3 million apiece over the course of their careers. These include veteran lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has brought in at least $1.3 million over his 30-year career; Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who have each received $1.4 million over their careers; and Pat Roberts from Kansas who has gotten nearly $1.6 million over the last 20 years. Sen. John McCain tops the list, though, by raking in nearly $8 million from the NRA over his 30-year career in the Senate.

“Then there are the junior lawmakers, like Tom Cotton from Arkansas, who has only been serving in the Senate since last year and has already received $1.9 million in money from the NRA and its buddies. And in just the first two years of serving in office, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy has brought in $2.9 million for his votes against gun regulation, while Iowa's Joni Ernst brought in $3.1 million, Cory Gardner from Colorado has brought in $3.9 million and Thom Tillis has gotten $4.4 million.

“Considering the fact that the NRA has spent over $16 million on five freshmen senators alone, and considering the fact that half of the members of the Senate have gotten donations of some size from the gun lobby, it really shouldn't come as any surprise that our lawmakers won't pass popular gun control legislation.

“If we ever do want to see common-sense gun control legislation passed, we need to get money out of politics, we need to overturn Citizens United and we need to get the corrupting influence of corporate lobbyists out of our political system. Because as former President Jimmy Carter has pointed out, we're no longer living in a democracy where US politicians listen to the will of the American people.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Republican "Gun Whores" in Senate Vote To Arm Terrorists With Assault Weapons

In a show of outrageous cowardice and insensitivity, Republican Senators voted down common sense gun control measures yesterday. This despite the fact that America is just one week removed from yet another senseless mass slaughter of innocents in Orlando. The terrorist shooter would not have been able to purchase his automatic weapon if the assault weapons ban proposed by Democrats had been the law of the land.

This is what The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence had to say on its website: "It is obvious that Congressional Republicans are beholden to the gun lobby; their greed and selfish interests supersede any sympathy or concern for the pain and suffering of others.
This evening, the United States Senate defied the will of a large majority of Americans by failing to pass common-sense gun reforms in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

"The chamber voted on four pieces of gun-related legislation tonight, two of which would have strengthened gun laws and saved lives. The first, an amendment introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would have allowed the U.S. Attorney General to prohibit those suspected of terrorist activity from purchasing firearms, while allowing for due process. The second, by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)—who led an emotional 15-hour filibuster on Thursday calling for the votes—would have required universal background checks on all gun sales, while exempting gifts between immediate family members. Unfortunately, the Feinstein and Murphy amendments were defeated by votes of 53 to 47 and 56 to 44, respectively.

"According to national polls, both reforms are widely supported by the American people. A CNN/ORC poll released earlier today found that 92% of American voters support “a background check on anyone attempting to purchase a gun,” with only 8% opposing. The same poll found that 85% of American voters supported “preventing people on the U.S. Government’s Terrorist Watchlist or no-fly list from owning guns,” with only 14% in opposition.

"Two substitute amendments introduced by Republicans were also voted down tonight, one by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and the other by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Both would have weakened federal gun laws, as opposed to strengthening them.

“We will not be deterred by this Congress’s continued fealty to the National Rifle Association,” said Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Virginia State Director Lori Haas. “The ‘Terror Gap’ and universal background check reforms are incredibly popular reforms and there is a growing national movement coalescing around them. We will push these bills, and others, during the remaining days of this Congress and demand new votes until the House and Senate do their jobs.”

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Will Stephen King's 11-22-63 Get It Right? I Have Low Expectations

I'll watch Hulu's film adaptation of Stephen King's time-travel fantasy, 11-22-63, with an open mind, but I have no reason to believe that King has done any serious research into the JFK assassination. And without doing so, one cannot expect to come close to grasping the diabolic, complex, yet flawed, covert operation which took Kennedy's life...much less the enormous consequences of the murder of the century. I confess I haven't read King's book, but I've been told that he grapples with the universal question: what would America have been like had JFK survived Dallas? Well, for starters, there would have been no Vietnam War. This is not conjecture on my part. This is fact, despite what establishment liars (and LBJ apologists) like Doris Goodwin and Robert Dallek say. Just days before Kennedy died, he told close associates that he intended to withdraw all American military personnel (mostly advisory staff in 1963) from Vietnam. JFK's assistant press secretary Malcolm Kilduff told author James Douglass that, "There is no question that he [JFK] was taking us out of Vietnam. I was in his office just before he went to Dallas and he said that Vietnam was not worth another American life. There is no question about it. I know that firsthand."

Kennedy signed National Security Action Memo 263 just one month before his death. It laid out plans for complete withdrawal of American military presence in southeast Asia by 1965. Just days after JFK was murdered, Lyndon Johnson signed NSAM 273 which, in essence, reversed Kennedy's NSAM 263. The war lasted a decade and cost America a fortune in lives, money and prestige.

Without Vietnam, there would have been no student protest and campus unrest in the 1960s. It's possible that an American counterculture would have never arisen. Imagine a decade of peace and progressiveness instead of turbulence and violence. For that matter, imagine peace being the overriding principle around which our society is constructed. Instead of war. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have been at war or under the threat of war, since 11/22/63. War means profit, and in the half-century since Kennedy's death war profiteering has been unabated. We have become so inured to it, that it seems unnatural to not be ruled by the oligarchs who have profited from war: Halliburton, alone, has poisoned and corrupted our democracy for more than 50 years. Its own executive, Dick Cheney, was the driving force behind the unsanctioned, illegal and immoral Iraq War. But more than this, the very fabric of American democracy has been shredded by the new oligarchy which has arisen from the obscene and bloody profits of war. It is hard to find an unsullied politician (especially Republicans, for whom greed and self-interest are practically requirements for membership); every ordinary citizen knows that the country is being run for the sake of the rich. The fix is in, and apathy is widespread.

The roots of distrust in our government and in our way of life can be traced back to Dallas and that bloody day. So when King, or anyone, tries to fairly represent that period, the stakes are enormous. It is easy for the unthinking and the dishonest to dismiss Kennedy's death as an accident of history. Devoid of historical significance. But the truth is, it was the turning point of America. We cannot shrink from its ugly truth and its profound meaning, and this requires artists and historians of courage and knowledge.

For it is not just that American democracy was overthrown on 11-22-63; war and war profiteering became our way of life. But it's deeper than that. There are two Americas now: both equally despicable and abhorrent. There's the official government and the secret government, each equally culpable and invested in protecting the other's closeted skeletons. There's the official media and the new "home-brewed" social media; suspicious of one another, and each willing to spin a lazy narrative of lies. There's official history and real history...never the time traveler shall meet. There's the official version of JFK's assassination and the real version. The former espoused by the uninformed or the complicit; the latter infiltrated by co-conspirators and disinformationists. The oligarchy which oversees this mess reaps the benefits of dividing and conquering. Much of the damage done at the behest of the oligarchs was accomplished by CIA agents infiltrating every realm of American life.

From "JFK and the Unspeakable" page 197: "The consequences in the early 1960s, when Kennedy became president was that the CIA had placed a secret team of its own employees through the entire U.S. government. It was accountable to no one except the CIA, headed by Allen Dulles. After Dulles was fired by Kennedy, the CIA's Deputy Director Richard Helms became this invisible government's commander. No one except a tight inner circle of the CIA even knew of the existence of this top-secret intelligence network...[it] constituted a powerful, unseen government within the government."

The CIA didn't stop there. We now know that its agents infiltrated the fields of rocket science, the military, the media, drug experimentation and sales, war operations, foreign governments, and publishing. It is part of the secret cabal whose purpose is to keep the truth from us, for the truth is dangerous.

I predict that King's film will, in the end, become another pillar in the house of lies that prevents us all from seeing who we are and from where we came.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Documentary on MLK's Murder is Full of Misinformation and Fact Gaps

AHC (American Heroes Channel) is now running a documentary called "Justice For MLK: The Hunt For James Earl Ray." It purports to tell the story of how Dr. Martin Luther King was killed and how his alleged assassin was captured. But it's long on myth and short on relevant facts. It adds little to the historical record, but like a comforting fairy tale it tries to assuage our nagging doubts about the ubiquitous lone-gunman myth used to explain away all '60s assassinations. Like in the JFK and RFK killings, legitimate evidence exists to inculpate conspirators and covert operatives in MLK's killing, but this evidence is ignored. Instead Gerald Posner, the prevaricating viper who gave us "Case Closed," is dragged out once again to spew disinformation. (Side note: Posner physically resembles a snake; he has dark, lifeless eyes and a misshapen cobra head. So my description is not an unfair ad hominem attack; his soulless, sickening servility to the intelligence establishment notwithstanding.)

It's what's missing and unexplored that gives us pause. For instance, the FBI is presented as dogged, relentless pursuers of King's killer despite the fact that J. Edgar Hoover despised MLK. Hoover once wrote a letter to King imploring King to cease his bestial sexual perversions or commit suicide. (I do not know if Hoover wrote this letter while dressed in woman's clothing and in the arms of his homosexual lover, but one can speculate.) Hoover's FBI was more likely to pin a medal on King's murderer than apprehend him. In fact, the arrest of James Earl Ray took months, supposedly because Ray was a master criminal who deftly used many aliases and false documents to evade capture. The truth is, Ray was a petty criminal with a low IQ who could not cross the street without help from powerful interests. Moreover, much like Lee Harvey Oswald, he had no known motive for killing King. Ray's own brother swore that James Earl was no racist.

There are other problems. How did Ray know where King was staying in Memphis on April 4, 1968? With a police dragnet surrounding the Lorraine Motel, how did Ray, presumably with rifle in hand, rent a room a short distance from the Lorraine without arousing suspicion? Immediately after King was shot, how did Ray escape the police dragnet so easily? What were military intelligence officers and FBI agents doing in the immediate vicinity of the Lorraine as the shot rang out? (Even the slithery Posner admits shadowy government agents were in the area.) Why did these agents and law enforcement run away from the flop house from which the shot was fired, even as all those near King were pointing directly at the flop house as the source of the shot?

Ray supposedly escaped in the most recognized and noticeable vehicle of the day, a white 1966 Ford Mustang, yet no Memphis cop or FBI agent saw it evade the many roadblocks thrown up just minutes after the assassination. The AHC documentary claims that a kid on a CB radio misled authorities. Sounds more like the Keystone Kops were running the investigation. Or maybe there was no genuine effort to catch anyone.

Ray was finally identified and detained two months later on the day after RFK died in Los Angeles. Ray, who spent time in LA before the King murder, might have been a roving patsy. A rootless nobody with low-level intelligence connections unwittingly waiting for his puppeteers to pin a murder on him. These wandering CIA patsies did exist. Lee Harvey Oswald was the most prominent one. There were others--Gordon Novell, Thane Eugene Cesar, Gerry Patrick Hemming, and Thomas Arthur Vallee to name just a few.

The bottom line is this: If you believe it is mere coincidence that the three most powerful voices on the left in the 1960s were all gunned down by lone gunmen without any tangible motive, you are quite naïve. Or you are a Posner.



Monday, December 28, 2015

Tea Partiers Are Stupid; The Problem Is They Don’t Know It

Okay, let’s not mince words. Right wingers are just dumb. They live in a fact-less world, where made-up stuff flies everywhere. They get their information from FOX, Limbaugh, Beck and other dolts. We on the left know this, but we can’t convince the right of it because the right will not be persuaded by facts, statistics, logic, or science. In other words, the Republican base is adamantly ignorant, proudly so, and proudly unaware of it. This phenomenon has a name—the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Acknowledgment of this phenomenon comes from an article posted by M.E. Miller on Daily Kos. He writes, “The Dunning-Kruger effect comes out of research conducted by David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University since 1999. Over the years, Dunning and Kruger have conducted studies over a wide range of cognitive tasks. Following the skill assessment, subjects are shown their results, and then asked to rate their performance on a percentile basis. What they have found is that those performing well — say, 65th %ile and higher — exhibit a quite accurate assessment of where they placed, while those who do more poorly are unaware of their own poor performance. In fact, those who do quite badly, say at the 15th %ile, tend to overestimate their relative skill by 50% or more.

"A way to summarize these results is to say that those who are truly stupid are too stupid to realize that they are stupid. As Dunning has put it, slightly less colorfully:
If you're incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent.… [T]he skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.

"This explains quite a lot about our world, especially about the limitations on our ability to propagate a reality-based worldview. It explains nearly the whole phenomenon of Fox News and its viewers.”

As Forrest Gump once said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Friday, December 4, 2015

Senate Republicans Vote To Arm ISIL, Ravage The Middle Class, Make The Rich Richer, And Deprive Millions Of Access To Health Care

The U.S. Senate, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association, made a stand for violence, poverty and sickness in America the other day. That’s right, in the wake of another gun-violence bloodbath, Republicans searched their souls, hearts, and collective conscience…and, realizing, they had none of those things, voted to make all Americans (except the very wealthy) more susceptible to death and financial ruin.

The timing of the Senate vote is, well, cruel to say the least. At a moment when the blood of San Bernardino victims is not yet dry, Republicans refused to restrict gun access for those on the national terror watch list. Think about this for a moment. Right-wing politicians are okay with arming known radical Muslims, even though these same politicians regularly complain that Obama is doing nothing to stop known radical Muslims. Does it not occur to right-wingers that disarming terrorists might be a good first step to stopping home-grown terrorist attacks? As Hillary Clinton so eloquently stated, “If suspected terrorists are too dangerous to allow on planes, they should not be able to own guns.”

But when did Republicans ever let logic, sensibility, and compassion creep into their world view? Their brand is stupidity. Their priority is ignorance. Their values are warped. They are more concerned with pleasing their NRA overlords than they are with keeping guns out of the hands of ISIL.

San Bernardino will bring new howls about mental illness being the source of violence, but this claim has no basis. According to Joshua Holland, a writer for The Nation magazine, “We don’t yet know what set off this latest bloodbath, but we know a lot about gun violence in America. We know that our mental-health care system is indeed broken. But the gun lobby’s ubiquitous claims that fixing it will address the scourge of gun violence are merely a distraction from the real issue. Epidemiological studies show that the vast majority of the mentally ill aren’t violent. They tend to kill themselves at a disproportionate rate. Duke University psychiatrist Jeffrey Swanson told Health Day that people suffering from those kinds of mental-health problems are responsible for only 4 percent of the gun violence in America. Ultimately, talking about mental illness obscures the real problem: We’re awash in firearms and refuse to take the steps needed to keep them out of the wrong hands. Perhaps the most frightening thing we know about gun violence comes from a study conducted by researchers at Duke, Harvard, and Columbia that was published earlier this year in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law. It found that almost one in 10 Americans who have access to guns are also prone to impulsive outbursts of rage. Among this group are almost 4 million people who carry their guns around in public and say they ‘have tantrums or angry outbursts,’ ‘get so angry [that they] break or smash things’ and lose their temper and ‘get into physical fights.’ The researchers also found that those who own many firearms are significantly more likely to exhibit signs of uncontrollable anger than people who own just one. The authors of the study noted that very few among that group had been diagnosed with the kinds of mental illness that would be unearthed in a standard background check. They say that we need to start restricting gun ownership based on whether people have a history of violence, not on diagnosed mental illness.”

God save us from angry, impulsive, gun-toting Americans…because the Republicans never will.