September 8, 2019

Biggest military spenders in the world

Bernie Sanders @SenSanders (11:26 AM - 8 Sep 2019):

The world's largest military budgets:

馃嚡馃嚨 $50 billion
馃嚞馃嚙 $53 billion
馃嚝馃嚪 $56 billion
馃嚠馃嚦 $58 billion
馃嚪馃嚭 $63 billion
馃嚫馃嚘 $83 billion
馃嚚馃嚦 $168 billion
馃嚭馃嚫 $700 billion

What if—just maybe—we led the world not in weapons and war, but in fighting humanity's common enemy: climate change?

Replying to @SenSanders:

The world's biggest per-capita military spenders:
馃嚤馃嚭 $710
馃嚛馃嚢 $735
馃嚞馃嚙 $751
馃嚙馃嚦 $799
馃嚢馃嚪 $842
馃嚙馃嚟 $891
馃嚝馃嚪 $978
馃嚘馃嚭 $1,078
馃嚦馃嚧 $1,320
馃嚧馃嚥 $1,389
馃嚢馃嚰 $1,738
馃嚫馃嚞 $1,872
馃嚠馃嚤 $1,887
馃嚭馃嚫 $1,986
馃嚫馃嚘 $2,013

World's biggest military spenders as share of all govt spending:
(World 6.3% [SIPRI])
(馃嚭馃嚫 9.0% [SIPRI])
馃嚢馃嚪 12.1%
馃嚥馃嚥 12.4%
馃嚥馃嚤 12.7%
馃嚬馃嚛 13.8%
馃嚘馃嚥 15.5%
馃嚤馃嚙 15.6%
馃嚡馃嚧 15.8%
馃嚠馃嚪 15.8%
馃嚛馃嚳 16.1%
馃嚨馃嚢 17.1%
馃嚫馃嚞 17.2%
馃嚚馃嚞 17.9%
馃嚙馃嚲 25.3%
馃嚧馃嚥 26.3%
馃嚫馃嚘 30.4%
馃嚫馃嚛 30.9%

World's biggest military spending as share of GDP
(Stockholm International Peace Research Institute):
(馃嚭馃嚫 3.2%)
馃嚚馃嚧 3.2%
馃嚦馃嚘 3.3%
馃嚭馃嚳 3.6%
馃嚙馃嚟 3.6%
馃嚘馃嚳 3.8%
馃嚭馃嚘 3.8% [est]
馃嚪馃嚭 3.9%
馃嚨馃嚢 4.0%
馃嚠馃嚤 4.3%
馃嚡馃嚧 4.7%
馃嚘馃嚥 4.8%
馃嚤馃嚙 5.0% [est]
馃嚢馃嚰 5.1%
馃嚛馃嚳 5.3% [uncert]
馃嚧馃嚥 8.2% [uncert]
馃嚫馃嚘 8.8% [est]

World's biggest military spending as share of GDP
(International Institute for Strategic Studies):
馃嚥馃嚤 3.9%
馃嚘馃嚥 4.0%
馃嚘馃嚳 4.0%
馃嚦馃嚘 4.1%
馃嚡馃嚧 4.4%
馃嚙馃嚰 4.4%
馃嚪馃嚭 4.6%
馃嚙馃嚟 4.8%
馃嚠馃嚤 6.1%
馃嚛馃嚳 6.3%
馃嚚馃嚞 6.4%
馃嚫馃嚘 8.9%
馃嚠馃嚩 11.6%
馃嚘馃嚝 14.0%
馃嚧馃嚥 15.3%

Note, the above do not include 馃嚢馃嚨, 馃嚫馃嚲, 馃嚲馃嚜, and 馃嚤馃嚲.

World Bank (data from SIPRI): Military expenditure (% of general government expenditure).
Wikipedia (data from SIPRI): List of countries by military expenditure per capita.
Wikipedia (data from SIPRI and IISS): List of countries by military expenditures.

August 24, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vs. the Electoral College

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

I see Fox News is big mad about abolishing the electoral college.

So let’s talk about it.

1) If the GOP were the “silent majority” they claim, they wouldn’t be so scared of a popular vote.

They *know* they aren’t the majority. They rely on establishing minority rule for power.

Replying to @AOC:
And if the Dems were as confident of their advantage, they wouldn’t have to change the Constitution to win.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

2) This common claim about “if we don’t have the Electoral College then a handful of states will determine the presidency” is BS.

a. It’s the *EC itself* that breaks down power by state, pop vote decentralizes it

b. The EC makes it so a handful of states DO determine elections

Replying to @AOC:
True, it wouldn’t be by state. A handful of metropolitan areas would determine the Presidency.


Half of the U.S. population live in just 10 metropolitan areas.
[NY-Newark, LA, Chicago, Dallas–Ft Worth, Houston, DC, Miami, Philly, Atlanta, Boston; link —KM]

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

3) LASTLY, this concept that the Electoral College is provides “fairness” to rural Americans over coastal states doesn’t hold any water whatsoever. First of all, virtually every state has rural communities. NY. California. Much of our states are rural.

But very importantly...

Replying to @AOC:
Indeed, rural voters in high-population states dominated by a few big cities usually feel ignored [see map, above]. In state legislatures, the unequal representation in the senate of a bicameral system is an effort to redress that inevitability [as it does in the U.S. Senate, and thence the Electoral College, nationally —KM].

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

4) We do not give electoral affirmative action to any other group in America. Do Black Americans have their votes count more bc they have been disenfranchised for 100s of years? Do Reservations get an electoral vote? Does Puerto Rico and US territories get them? No. They don’t.

Replying to @AOC:
The Electoral College is not about any “group” of Americans. It simply gives smaller-population states (whoever lives in them) a slightly bigger voice to help ensure they are not utterly ignored. Calling it “affirmative action” is a scurrilous, offensive mischaracterization.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez @AOC:

5) The Electoral College isn’t about fairness at all; it’s about empowering some voters over others.

Every vote should be = in America, no matter who you are or where you come from. The right thing to do is establish a Popular Vote. & GOP will do everything they can to fight it.

Replying to @AOC:
Do you advocate abolishing the Senate as well? Where the <600,000 people in Wyoming have the same weight as the 40,000,000 people in California?

It would be abolishing the Electoral College that would empower some voters (those in the largest metropolitan areas) over others (everyone else in the country).

A constitutional democracy protects the rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority, and that includes the inevitable dominance of the cities. …

… “Pure” democracy is mob rule. Compromises such as the unequal representation in the Senate and the EC, are necessary to protect the interests of all citizens.


Chris Hayes, MSNBC: “It’s basically this, do we actually really believe in democracy, right? The question before us now in the Electoral College question is, are we going to actually live up to the promise of one person one vote? ... But I think there’s actually a deeper philosophical thing happening which is the question of what exactly American democracy is for. And the weirdest thing about the Electoral College is the fact that if it wasn’t specifically in the Constitution for the Presidency, it would be unconstitutional.”

A comment: “Where did the premise of “one person, one vote” come from? I don’t think that simple-minded cartoon formula is in the Constitution. Democracy is about consensus (as much as possible), not mob rule. Hence the constitutional compromises of the Electoral College and unequal representation in the Senate (where the <600,000 people of Wyoming have the same 2 votes as 40,000,000 Californians), which is reflected in most state legislatures as well. Hence the mechanisms of filibuster, quorum etc.”

August 14, 2019

Immigration Numbers

Neil Munro at Breitbart News regularly appends the following (with supportive links) to his articles about immigration and labor:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university. This total includes roughly 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in business or health care, engineering or science, software or statistics.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately 1 million H-1B workers and spouses — plus roughly 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it transfers wages to investors and ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations.

The cheap-labor economic strategy also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costs, shrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

August 2, 2019

ICE protesters – the Koch brothers’ useful idiots

(comments on article by Bob Audette, Brattleboro Reformer, July 30, 2019: ICE protesters won't be 'complicit')

‘A pair of southern Vermont women were among the 20 people arrested and cited with disorderly conduct for protesting at the Law Enforcement Support Center on Harvest Lane in Williston on Sunday.

‘The center is operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and according to its website is "the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security." ...’

[Photo Provided by Nancy Braus]

Yes, seeking asylum is legal. But working while your case is being considered, not showing up for your hearing, and staying in the country after your application is rejected – that’s illegal.

‘Chapman estimated more than 700 people attended the Never Again Means #ShutDownICE march and protest.

‘The 20 people were arrested after they formed two human chains to block employees of the facility from coming and going into the building.

‘"History clearly displays the horrors of what happens when civilization does not stand up to a government that has fixed on dehumanizing and stripping a select group of people of their civil and human rights," wrote Chapman on her personal Facebook page. ...

‘"It was not right in 1940s Germany, it was not right when the American government put Japanese-Americans in internment camps, it was not right when we colonized indigenous people and kidnapped their children, and it is not right now," [said Karlyn Ellis of Bennington]. ...’

Why the worry now? Nothing like that is actually happening.

‘Ellis said the local police, by arresting the protesters, "support concentration camps by default."

‘"There is no longer any room for nuance," she said. "Any citizen who does not take action against ICE who has the means to is complicit in fascist violence, complicit in the abuse of children."

‘Chapman said she knows she will be subject to criticism for her "lawlessness," but is willing to engage in a conversation with people who don't agree with her or her methods.’

Conversation requires room for nuance, so her engagement would likely be along the lines of this demonstration: not only nuance free, but largely fact free as well.

‘"I would ask them to put themselves in their shoes and imagine if they had to flee to Canada and Canada was treating them the way we are treating refugees and asylum seekers," she said.’

Canada actually enforces their asylum laws: You can’t work while awaiting a decision, they keep track of you, and they deport you and forbid your entry ever again when your application is rejected.

‘... "The economic and political policies of the Trump Administration," reads a statement issued at the time of the Sunday protest, "have devastated Latin America and other parts of the world, driving millions of people to find sanctuary in the U.S. Once here, they have been met with super-exploitation as cheap criminalized labor, racist and xenophobic discrimination, threats of detention and deportation, and now under Trump, incarceration in concentration camps throughout the country."’

Unlike the previous administration and its first Secretary of State (say their names: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton), Trump has not overthrown any elected governments in Latin America. The current surge of migration began 10 years ago, after Obama and Clinton helped oust Manuel Zelaya from Honduras. Corporatists like the Koch Brothers then welcome the cheap exploitable labor they provide to undercut the bargaining power of U.S. workers. Illegal labor is exactly what both Dems and Repubs have turned a blind eye to for decades, as it keeps their investments growing. It is the opposite of compassion that argues for opening the floodgates. (Obama and Clinton also helped overthrow Lula da Silva and then Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and ensured the election of reactionary Len铆n Moreno in Ecuador. They also caused the overwhelming refugee crisis in Europe after their destruction of Libya and attempted destruction of Syria.)

‘"Grabbing children and babies from their parents and throwing them in cages without diapers or mattresses is not something we should accept," said [Nancy Braus, who owns and operates Everyone's Books on Elliot Street in Brattleboro]. "We can't live with this level of injustice." ...’

First, thanks to useful idiot denial there aren't adequate facilities for housing families going through the asylum process. Second, if it can’t be proved that the adult (usually just one – who is traveling with one child, separated from their family) is in fact the parent or legal guardian, they must by law be separated. Third, “without diapers or mattresses” – mostly a blatant lie, and again, any shortage is due to useful idiot denial that there is any crisis – the same false compassion that actually protested a company providing needed new beds.

July 31, 2019

‘He horrifies us by not submitting to us’ – Trump and the elite-pandering media

Daniel Jupp writes at Spectator USA:

For three years, we have been told what Donald Trump is. We have been told that he is a racist, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a white supremacist, a demagogue, a Russian spy. The charges vary from extreme, unproven and serious to the bizarrely particular and trivial. We have for instance been repeatedly told that it is important that he has tiny hands, or silly hair, or eats McDonald’s.

Whether or not you agree with the many criticisms of Trump, there is one charge that supporters and detractors admit the truth of: Trump is divisive. But what does that mean? It does not necessarily mean, as the mainstream media always tell us, that he should be hated or considered dangerous. It could just mean that he reveals the deep faultlines in contemporary politics. Ironically, it is the continual vicious determination of his opponents to tell us how to view him that causes these divisions. Anti-Trump invective has had an effect on both sides of the debate. It has hardened the attitudes of supporters and opponents to the point at which Trump is no longer discussed as if we are talking about a human being. To his enemies, he is everything that is wrong with traditional ‘white America.’ To supporters he is ‘God Emperor Trump’, the last defender of an embattled set of American values that are everywhere threatened.

He is not a person, nor even merely a president. He is a symbol.

The US is a nation which from its very inception has had a peculiar genius for turning men into symbols. George III was not merely a king, but for revolutionary polemicists the living symbol of tyranny. George Washington became a symbol of rectitude, endurance, perseverance. Sometimes whole groups of people assumed this symbolic role as personifications of good or evil: the Pilgrim Fathers, the Mountain Men, the Puritans, the settlers, the cowboys and the Indians. When we think of the US we think of a line of human beings elevated into the pantheon of symbols, and this is true whether we are talking about politics (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln), sport (Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens) or entertainment (Elvis, Monroe, Eastwood, Madonna). This is the nation that truly embraced and spread the idea of celebrity, and sometimes celebrity cut adrift from achievement.

Take last week’s outrage over his tweets against the so-called ‘Squad.’ These were reported as racist with no analysis of why that is the case. The outrage only emphasizes Trump’s transition from human to symbol. To huge numbers of people, the tweets represent racism, regardless of substance; that makes them racist. Trump himself seems to have a sense of this process and to deliberately guide it when he can. That is a major function of his Twitter account. He knows that the more hate is directed at him, the more supportive his own base, who have every reason to detest a media and a political elite that despises them, becomes.

The interesting aspect here is the ‘unsophisticated’ Trump voter understands exactly what Trump represents to his enemies, but the apparently sophisticated have no idea of what Trump represents to his supporters. They genuinely seem to think that these supporters want white nationalism or white supremacism, they believe their own fantasies about what the other side thinks. But the truth is that, as hateful as he is to his enemies, Trump represents something entirely different to his fans. He represents freedom.

The US heralds itself as the ‘land of the free’ but like all nations in which a large state is combined with a united political and media class, the lives of the ordinary citizen have become less free. More and more state bureaucracy means less and less individual liberty. The people who support Trump do so because they hate being hectored, bullied, and controlled by an increasingly intolerant ‘liberal’ minority with power. They don’t like being told what to think, what to say, what to do in every aspect of their lives. The instinct for freedom that told their ancestors to rebel against the British survives. Trump knows that.

Mainstream media talks a lot about Trump ‘doubling down’. It has done so in relation to the latest tweets scandal. Doubling down horrifies pundits. He says something that they find offensive, they scream and whine and distort the meaning of what was said, they use their magic attack words like ‘racist’, ‘white nationalist’ and ‘xenophobia’. They demand an apology, the backtrack.

But Trump doesn’t give them that. He denies the thrill of the fanatic, which is to see the chastised submit. Instead, he repeats himself. He points out that some countries are indeed ‘shitholes’. He points out that anyone who hates the country they reside in has the option of leaving. He ‘doubles down’, which is essentially media code for ‘he horrifies us by not submitting to us’. In this way he becomes a symbol of good for everyone who does not believe that he is a symbol of evil.

Trump’s greatest crime, and his greatest triumph, is to become a living example that you do not have to submit. You do not have to apologize. You do not have to back down, or grovel, or confess. You are free unless you accept your chains. What message is more hopeful or American than that?

July 19, 2019

Seacht n-贸ige na coille, an aeir, na mara, an talmhan

Seacht n-贸ige na coille: faoisceog, fuinnseog, sciach贸g, beath贸g, rud贸g [roideog], fearn贸g, dar贸g (vars. dreas贸g, saileog)

Seacht n-贸ige an aeir: amhl贸g, ailleog, luaireog, fuideog [fead贸g], truideog [druid], spideog, seabh贸g [searr贸g] (vars. buidheog [bu铆贸g], uiseog [fuiseog], fionn贸g [feann贸g], tonn贸g [ton贸g])

Seacht n-贸ige na mara: mad贸g, had贸g (cad贸g), luthr贸g [leath贸g], leideog, faof贸g [faoch贸g], b谩irneog, claos贸g [cros贸g] (vars. gob贸g, crainneog [gr谩inneog])

Seacht n-贸ige an talmhan: iar贸g [eareog], flan贸g [flann贸g], cnamh贸g [crumh贸g], luch贸g (incomplete)

(Omeath, List of words, chiefly from Omeath, and Mid. Ulster by Rev. Lawrence Murray)

—from entry for “-贸g, -eog”, Focl贸ir Gaedhilge agus B茅arla, Patrick Dinneen, 1927

Seven “贸g” names of the forest: filbert, ash, whitethorn, bog-myrtle, alder, oak (briar, white willow)
Seven “贸g” names of the air: jennet, swallow, sea-gull, plover, starling, robin, gunnel (yellow-hammer, lark, hooded crow, duck)
Seven “贸g” names of the sea: lamprey, haddock, flat-fish, plaice, periwinkle, barnacle, starfish (eel, urchin)
Seven “贸g” names of the earth: pullet, stoat, maggot, mouse

July 17, 2019

The misjudgement of history

The ever-tedious columnist at Vermont Digger, David Moats, 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner, invokes a fire and brimstone judgement of history on border detention facilities. He even pulls in 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson to argue how loving and tolerant the Puritans were.

Reader Ruby Bode commented:

Marilynne Robinson’s apologia for the Puritans would appear to be an apologia in fact for the new McCarthyist witch hunt triggered by Trump winning the 2016 election, an attempt to bestow the moral righteousness of, e.g., John Brown (cf. Robinson’s “Gilead”) on antidemocratic sore losers. But she compares two actual governing codes (both from the south, of course [no apologia for those bastards!]) to a “list of proposals for good government written by the Puritan Hugh Peter”. Since the Puritans are indeed “commonly viewed as sexually repressed, witch-burning hysterics” (because they were), it would have been more interesting to explore the differences between Peter’s ideals and the realities of Puritan government.

[That’s exactly what the border issue is about: ideals versus reality.]

Bode also commented:

When you cross any border with a child, you have to have proof that you are the parent or legal guardian. That’s why “families” are separated until it can be determined that they are in fact families. If that weren’t done, there would be an outcry for not bothering to check. Furthermore, it’s rarely a whole “family” coming over. It’s usually just one parent and one child, who has been separated from the rest of the family to be used cynically as a prop to better game the famously laxly enforced border laws of the USA. As to the conditions of detention, Trump has been requesting [from day 1] the needed funding to adequately respond to the surges of would-be refugees, but the Dems (and many Repubs) have refused. One might think they would rather see children suffer so they can have something to grandstand on and beat up Trump about. Finally, there’s a big difference between immigration and illegally crossing the border.

[I would add that nobody among these New Puritans seems to be suggesting any solution other than shutting the whole legal system down, opening the borders (in only one direction of course) and giving anybody coming in full rights of residency, no limits, with no concern for American workers (immigrants recent and long ago) and plenty of profits for Wall St.]

Another reader, William Workman, commented:

Over and over, Democrats have overplayed their hands. They used the outrage over child separations to push catch-and-release of another 100,000 illegal immigrants. Trump blurs the line between illegal immigrants and hardened criminals, so Democrats blur the line between legal and illegal immigrants. Now every major Democratic candidate is on record as supporting decriminalizing border crossings, offering free health care, no deportations even for illegals violating court orders, and a path to citizenship. Now this column, which equates safely and respectfully deporting Vermont’s illegals with concentration camps. As though the law itself were immaterial.

Here’s another comment by Bode, to a commentary by writer Dan Close:

What about everyone who has refused to accept the result of the 2016 election? The elected and other officials who have pursued witch hunts and domestic regime change instead of embracing the workings of democracy? Those, like Dan Close, who cannot be honest about anything concerning President Trump, as if we have not had an increasingly imperial Presidency since Reagan? Trump is actually more lawful, much more transparent, and more progressive (regarding trade to benefit American workers instead of Wall St and war – no new ones, not even an actual coup, so far) than his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat. If any[one] burns down the Reichstag, so to speak, it will be the Dems themselves – after committing to the destructive agendas of neoliberalism and neoconservativism – so they can blame it on Trump. It is dangerous projection.

April 5, 2019

Trump said that wind turbines cause cancer!

Do stress and lack of sleep contribute to the development of cancer, as with other diseases?  Yes.

Does wind turbine noise raise stress levels and disrupt sleep?  Yes.

The World Health Organization has recognized the importance to health of uninterrupted sleep and has recommended outdoor noise limits for wind turbines: <>

It’s very difficult to be definite about any environmentally caused illness, because so many variables are involved. But reports have been consistent since around 2000, when the size of wind turbines increased dramatically, of many people suffering a similar set of symptoms after nearby wind turbines start operating. When they leave the area, they experience relief from the overt symptoms (eg, headache, dizziness, feeling of pressure, stress, depression, irritability). The cause is thus quite obvious.

Pets and other animals are similarly affected.

Dr. Nina Pierpont coined the term “Wind Turbine Syndrome” for those symptoms, which also include sleep disturbance and deprivation, tinnitus (ringing in ears), ear pressure, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia (fast heart rate), irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of movement or quivering inside the body. She attributed these effects to inner ear disturbances caused by infrasound and low-frequency noise (ILFN), akin to motion sickness.

As with motion sickness, people have different sensitivities, which also complicates the epidemiology.

Interested acoustical engineers then began measuring ILFN near large wind turbines and did indeed find that pulsing ILFN is a characteristic component of their noise.

In fact, the phenomenon had been documented in the early 1980s by NASA scientists investigating complaints by neighbors of an experimental large wind turbine (which size was not available commercially until around 2000).

See: “Health Effects of Noise from Large Wind Turbines

In December 2011, Denmark added a 20-dBA limit on low-frequency noise (10–160 Hz) inside homes.

In Portugal, researchers led by Mariana Alves-Pereira have studied longer-term physical changes in the lungs, heart, and muscles caused by ILFN. They called it “vibroacoustic disease” and have documented conditions near wind turbines that are as bad as for the cases they studied of people living near heavy industrial sites.

The science is still relatively new, but the effect of noise, whether audible or infrasonic, is increasingly recognized as a valid concern in siting wind turbines near homes and places of work.

For example, in 2017 Vermont implemented a nighttime limit of 39 dBA 100 feet from any nonparticipating residence with the goal of keeping the interior sound level below 30 dBA. See also: <>

[Also see: Wind farms do make you sick” (Irish Daily Mail, 16 Oct 2015)]

March 30, 2019

Where is the love? «Watershed Moment on the Mall» by Bill Martin

Bill Martin writes at Counterpunch (excerpts):

«… reductions that have become extreme in this period: science to technology, art to entertainment, love to sexuality, and politics to power.  All of these reductions are inherent in capitalism (as Marx argued long ago, regarding the reduction of all qualities to quantity), but in postmodern capitalism the reductions become both extreme and commonplace, nothing to even think about anymore.  This is a world where “judgment,” in the Kantian sense, becomes merely wanting or not wanting, there’s no question of analysis or understanding.  To use the Buddhist term, there’s no question of “discernment.”

«The reduction of real politics to mere power machination, which I also call anti-politics, gives rise to virulent hatred as the immediate go-to position when the opportunity arises.  The Washington Mall incident is a watershed in that it solidified the “immediate go-to” stance of the IdPol Left, both in the hatred and the sheer opportunism that was in evidence in this moment. …

«The problem is that, even those institutions that are created to give expression to the creative unfolding of human autonomy can come to stand in for this autonomy; thereby, people come to serve the institutions rather than the other way around.

«In pre-modern times in the West, this was mainly a problem of the Church; in modern times this is the problem of the State.  It seems entirely likely that the problem is especially difficult in the case of the secular state, because then there is not even the presumption of some transcendent basis for values, laws, or the workings of the state apparatus.  Now add to this a “politics” built around nothing more than mere interests and groups defined by the interests of identities, and the result is the sort of noxious brew we know today.

«What had been a fragmentary array of grasping human animals becomes weaponized for the sake of the powers and interests that operate within the State.  Indeed, the efforts of the Democratic Party and the IdPol Left have amounted to an institutionalization of self-righteous hate …

«To summarize, what we are seeing is human grasping ever-more completely molded to the power imperatives of postmodern capitalism.  In “The Fourth Hypothesis,” I argued that we are not seeing, with the Trump Disruption, anything like the truly political response (not reaction) that is needed; perhaps, though, we are seeing a possible bridge, or set of bridges, toward this response.  These possible bridges are what the immediate hateful response is aimed at shutting down: don’t even think for a moment that there is an alternative to neoliberal globalism—in fact, don’t even think, don’t ever think, period.  Just give full reign to your hate, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re not one of the deplorables.

«(Of course, for white males, your facial expression, your posture, or anything, really, may turn you into a deplorable and an object of hatred at a moment’s notice.  Whatever, that’s cool.) …

«[T]he ruling forces in U.S. society have embraced Identity Politics, as the best way of presenting a “liberal, democratic” cover for neoliberal, finance-capital centered, globalist capitalism.  The “left,” congealed behind the anti-Trump movement and, in reality, the Democratic Party (whatever the left may say or tell themselves), has fallen hook, line, and sinker for this ideology.  In its media and other manifestations, among ordinary people, this ideology appears most often in a merely “reactive” form, and in fact is quite often outright reactionary.  There is no emancipatory content to it whatsoever. …

«Tucker Carlson spoke to those who would pronounce judgment on the Covington boys from on high:

‘What’s so fascinating about all these attacks is how inverted they are. These are high school kids from Kentucky. Do they really have more privilege than Alex Kranz from Gizmodo? Probably not, in fact probably much less. They’re far less privileged in fact than virtually everyone who has called for them to be destroyed on the basis that they have too much privilege. Consider Karen Swisher, opinion columnist from the New York Times. Swisher went to Princeton, Georgetown, and Columbia. She’s become rich and famous by toadying up to tech CEOs. … Is she more privileged than the boys at Coventry Catholic high school? Of course she is. Maybe that’s why she feels the need to call them Nazis, which she did, repeatedly.

‘So what’s really going on here? It’s not really about race. …

‘This is about people in power protecting their power, and justifying their power by destroying and mocking those weaker than they are. Why? Simple. Our leaders have not improved the lives of most people in America. They can’t admit that, because it would discredit them. So instead they attack the very people they’ve failed.

‘The problem with Kentucky, they’ll tell you, isn’t the bad policies that hurt the people who live there. It’s that the people who live there are immoral because they’re bigots. They deserve their poverty and opioid addiction. They deserve to die young. That’s what our leaders tell themselves. And now that’s what they’re telling us. Just remember: they’re lying when they do.’ (Tucker Carlson Tonight, opening segment, 1.21.19) …
«[P]ower either destroys or assimilates what is outside of it, unless prevented from doing so. What seems unprecedented, though, and yet now “typical” and normalized for our “New Egypt” (Weber), totally-administered society (Adorno), society of the spectacle (Debord) is that neoliberal power now has well-ordered career tracks for leftists of various kinds, though especially for those who have attached their leftism or supposed radicalism to various “identities.” …

«Some new kinds of radicalism came out of this diversification, and much of that has been good, too, but there has also been an important element missing in this scene—“diversity” here meant gender, race, and sexuality, but not class.  Indeed, just as the rise of the diversity bureaucracy parallels the rise of the new administrative class in the university, the rise of a more diverse faculty and student body parallels a reinforcement of the existing class structure. This is of course not surprising, since it is one well-established imperative of “higher” education to maintain class structure and to create barriers to any shifting of this structure.

«Again, there is a great deal to talk about here, but for present purposes let us leave it that the diversity bureaucracy, with Title IX and similar administrative offices at its head, has come into existence to manage this new state of affairs, and in a way that actually coopts a great deal of “left” and even “radical” rhetoric of the Sixties, but bends this rhetoric to the maintenance of the neoliberal State and economy.

«The role of State Feminism is crucial here, and we might characterize this non-emancipatory “feminism” as what gets us from Simone de Beauvoir to Hillary Clinton and beyond. …

«Mao Zedong enunciated the idea that revolutionaries need to base themselves on the politically advanced, win over the middle, and isolate the backward. … Who are “the advanced” and “the middle” today? That is a really tough question. What may not be as tough is to identify “the backward.”  Certainly, on the “right,” or among “conservatives,” there are some people who are hardened racists, misogynists, homophobes, and even “fascists” (to the extent this last term makes sense without a mass fascist movement).  I think there are fewer of these hardened reactionaries than the IdPol Left likes to think, and I mean “likes” here in the sick sense in which this “Left” goes on about racism, fascism, etc.  They do like the idea that there are great many hardened and hateful reactionaries out there, especially among the “white working class,” because it justifies what the IdPol Left is about: hating most people, hating the working class, thinking most people are stupid, thinking they themselves are so bloody smart, thinking they are part of some sort of “Resistance” or “anti-fascist movement.”  In their own self-righteous dogmatism and self-aggrandizement, then, I would say the Democrats and the IdPol Left are the backward of this moment.

«This world is topsy-turvy, we cannot rely on the conventional categories of “left” and “right,” etc.  And we have to be especially wary of career- and academic-leftists (and Hollywood-types) who are overly interested in increasing their own power, prestige, visibility, or paychecks, and where their ideologies and even personas are shaped by these interests.

[[[[ o ]]]]

«It’s a resistance that needs “fascists” to make sense of itself. Nothing good will come of it. …

«The overriding theme here, in this whole question of the Washington Mall incident, and in addressing these comments, has to be the readiness of those who presently identity as left to have hate and vitriol as their immediate go-to reaction when it comes to anything they disagree with. …

«[R]eal politics comes from an affirmation that is not simply the negation of a negation.  Yes, the latter is in play, and has to be dealt with, but the affirmation of a creative human act (whether it be in politics, science, love, or art) has to exceed the work of the negative. …

«The IdPol Left (and Hillary Clinton’s noxious “Love trumps Hate” bullshit and the way all the Dems got fired up by it) vastly overestimates—for their own purposes—the amount of hate involved in motivating the so-called “right” and the deplorables.  This is just self-justification for the IdPol Left and liberals to hate even more in return. …

«That the IdPol Left needs “fascism” and “white supremacy” in order to make sense of itself, and that a white male who has been bullied by other white males in his life has an emotional reaction to what he thinks he sees in the face of a white 16-year-old boy is not a basis for understanding anything in the world today.  Indeed, these sorts of reactions ought to make anyone interested in an actual, critical examination of things question this liberal and left narrative.  It’s the sort of need for fascism and these feeling-based reactions that have made the left dupes of the Democratic Party.

«Of course there is real white supremacy in this world, in this society.  But I think there is far less of it in actual white people than what the IdPol Left narrative claims. There is resentment that has been intentionally stirred up in many white people, especially white working-class people, by both the IdPol Left and a handful of truly racist agitators, for their own purposes.  There are many people from the working class who have had it with being told they are deplorable and worthless and simply shit, and now they seem to be told this not only by privileged white liberals and other privileged professionals and academics, but also by this so-called “left,” such as represented by my former Kasama comrades.  Who does all of this serve?  It would be very hard to show that this serves any emancipatory purpose whatsoever. …

«But what good and decent person has the immediately hateful reaction that so many liberals and leftists did toward Nick Sandmann? —and, by the way, it seems that overwhelmingly, the people who had this reaction are themselves white and middle class.»

In this series:
The Christine Blasey Ford Episode: State Feminism, the Worthless “Left,” and Liberal Delusions
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
Watershed Moment on the Mall

February 22, 2019

«The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall» by Bill Martin

Bill Martin writes at Counterpunch (excerpts):

«[T]he “hate-work” of this anti-Trump “resistance” has the “positive” outcome for the resisters of allowing them to puff themselves up with self-satisfaction and self-righteousness, and with a kind of certitude that one would think would be reserved for some truly revolutionary emergence or flowering of a new truth upon the scene. But, of course, a new truth is not only quite obviously not a part of the Lib-Left agenda, they themselves are quite clear on not wanting anything of that sort. They are beyond being anti-revolutionary, they are rabid in their rhetoric and other efforts toward getting back to the stable status quo of the establishment. An extra-bonus for the white middle-class professional and academic males who are rushing to be a part of this ridiculous and horrible mob of hate-mongers, is that their militant virtue-signaling represents a truly toxic masculinity, added to the already obnoxious self-righteousness of the ridiculous, LARPing, social media anti-Trump movement. …

«What the Left has in fact “achieved” is a situation where the previous exaggerations and dystopian fantasies of right-wingers have been brought to life. What were previously absurd or at least highly-exaggerated characterizations such as “feminazi” and “anti-white racism” are now realities. …

«[T]he reaction of the haters has been to accuse anyone who says that we need to look again and think again of “gaslighting.” … [I]t doesn’t matter what happens to any individual in the momentous resistance struggle of the anti-Trumpers (who so bravely put themselves on the line on social media every day!) and, in this great struggle for IdPol justice there cannot be any second thoughts, further investigation, etc.—in fact, there cannot be any thinking or investigation, period, that just gets in the way. So, it’s just a matter of the right word for dismissing any movement toward thinking and investigation—in this case, the word is gaslightling. Of course, then you can have a few more epithets thrown in for good measure, “fascist,” “racist,” etc. …

«This is a wonderful moment for the establishment, when it can all get together on one goal, and have the neocons on board with the neoliberals, and the IdPol Left cheering them on. And it’s a terrible moment for the rest of humanity; what better symbol of this than hatefully beating up on a smiling teenager just because he stood where he was already standing, waiting on a bus back to a small town in Kentucky? …

«It would be the easiest thing in the world to walk away from this, [but] the alternative is back to the neoliberal slow-boil of the frog, along with redoubled effort to make sure nothing like the Trump disruption slips through the establishment’s nets again. …

«Please remember, we are talking about ordinary working people, the working class, for the first time in decades. When the establishment gets back in full charge …, this discourse on the working class will be shut down, and workers of all colors, genders, etc. will be punished, and not just the deplorables. …

«We could say there are three hypotheses and a fourth hypothesis. The first two hypotheses are those that are heard all the time, and represent the two poles of conventional “politics.” The third hypothesis represents the rejection of these politics; it is heard some of the time, but generally drowned out by the loud shouts of those advocating the first two hypotheses. … The third hypothesis is that there are no real and lasting solutions within the system to the basic problems the system is encountering. … And yet the existing system seeks to perpetuate itself come what may. Therefore, the only real solution to the deep and humanly-devastating problems of the system is the creation of another system: a revolution. …

«[T]he idea that they’re fighting fascism and they’re part of some “resistance” … sounds a lot better than just being tools of the establishment, and they’ll hope for some reward when the establishment reestablishes itself fully; there probably will be some reward, on the backs of the ordinary working people, in other words the deplorables, who very likely will be punished. So, it also helps to consider ordinary working people as deplorable, so you don’t have to feel bad for them. As things get back to “normal” and more jobs are sent away, the Identity Politics and State Feminism crowd can just raise a big ol’ chorus of “Check your privilege!” …

«The establishment, with the Democrats and the left (including State Feminism) leading the way, have done a brilliant job, and I don’t mean this sarcastically, of pushing the abandonment of the third hypothesis. All one hears from the anti-Trump movement is either that “revolution is not in the offing for the foreseeable future” or that “there’s never going to be a revolution.” … What is important here is that, if revolution is not in the offing in the near future, it is for the same reason that Trump is not a fascist and is not installing a fascist system in the U.S.—there is no general crisis of American capitalism at this time. …

«There is not a crisis for these institutions of capitalism, but there is a major annoyance for the establishment. This annoyance is all the more galling to them because they had done everything to ensure that their operative would be in the White House. …

«The fourth hypothesis is that sometimes there is an element that arises in the system that is not fully contained or circumscribed within the system; this element can act as a bridge to further action outside the system to bring about systemic transformation. …

«This element—let’s just call it the “bridge”— … exists despite the calculations of the system, and yet it also exists because the system has attempted to do everything it could to prevent the bridge from existing, or perhaps “emerging” is the better word. …

«[W]e have the bright young things of middle-class academia on the one side, and the deplorables on the other. It seems reasonable to assert that the general functioning of the existing system depends on the idea that “neither the twain shall meet.” The experience of radical uprisings and actual revolutions, on the other hand, very often seems to show that people have to cross the lines laid down by the establishment for something really new to happen.

«This crossing of lines happened in 1968, when the workers joined the students of France in revolt. Now what could go much further in France is if the students and more middle-strata people joined the workers wearing the Yellow Jerseys. In the light of what an explosive combination could result, it is not hard to see why the IdPol-Left has to keep pushing the line that the working class in the U.S. is deplorable—backward and reactionary.

«It is more than obvious, then, that the system has every interest in keeping such a meeting from happening. Indeed, the establishment has every interest in encouraging the contradictions among the people to become increasingly antagonistic. Despite there being a real basis in historical social reality for what has been fashioned into Identity Politics (and this basis remains to be addressed in the serious, deep, and thorough-going way that is necessary), sometimes it almost seems as if Identity Politics came together through conscious and less-conscious efforts aimed precisely at deepening the contradictions among the peopleand leaving violent confrontation as the only form of addressing these contradictions. …

«[O]ne thing that is absolutely necessary is to call out the deplorable-ploy for what it is, a way to divide people against each other, with no emancipatory purpose whatsoever—indeed, quite the opposite, and this is how the Democrats have become a completely reactionary organization, no matter what “exciting, fresh faces” they put forward. …

«My other point here, though, is that the left that is under the sway of State Feminism and Identity Politics has come to the place where anything to do with the working class and anything to do with universalist emancipatory goals is just off the table and is met with insults. So, if these things are going to get back on the table, they will almost certainly come from unexpected places, and those of us who really do support the third hypothesis will need to figure out ways to encourage and support the fourth hypothesis.

«To return to the larger point, beyond this crazy campus world: to put things very simply, an uprising of deplorables will be painted as a “race war,” unless there is significant progress in building the kind of bridges that need to be built. …

«The question is first of all the disruption that the election of Trump creates in system, the clarification that this disruption provides, and the experiments that this disruption may make possible. …

«This is the moment when ordinary people Democrats and IdPol Leftists need to break with their hatred—they need to break with this very openly, they need to apologize and criticize themselves for going along with or furthering the hatred and vitriol shown in their reaction to Nick Sandmann and his classmates. You need to strive toward redemption in this moment, and if you cannot do that, then I do not see how your hateful dogmatic mindset and comportment can be helpful to anyone, in any way. I do not see how the Democratic Party built around this sort of thing could even conceivably give rise to anything that is even remotely defensible. … In the meantime, find something better to do than poisoning everything and your own selves with hate. … Even apart from your vitriolic emotionalism, the problem is not that you aren’t “smart,” it’s that you think you already know everything. …

«Here we see why the IdPol Left, and most of what we have called “the left” until now, is in an epistemological rut—they know too much, they know everything, and so when new things emerge, they will not see these things. …

«The deplorable working people of the U.S. need to come forward in a new kind of way, a way that takes up the path in France that has been opened up by the Yellow Jerseys, and a way that deepens the significance of work, real work, for what this society is and could be. There has to be the absolute recognition of the worker, of the working people, as central to this society, as central to any society, which also means the absolute demand that there be work—good work, work whereby people can have a decent life and also expand their range as people, and work that also shows its value in terms of not allowing financiers (and their political representatives) who do nothing that should be termed “work” to steal and control (and often undermine) the value that this work creates.»

In this series:
The Christine Blasey Ford Episode: State Feminism, the Worthless “Left,” and Liberal Delusions
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
Watershed Moment on the Mall

January 25, 2019

On MAGA hats and confirmation bias

"El Rucio" wrote on Twitter, Jan 24:

If a #MAGA hat is inherently aggressive "speech", what is calling "half of Trump's supporters … the basket of deplorables. … irredeemable, … not America"?

In fact, it's that dismissive fear-mongering attempt to delegitimize and punish political opinion (because it repudiates the neolib/neocon paradigm and gives voice to the latter's victims) that excuses all manner of violence against people showing support for their President.

Remember when black men were lynched for "looking" at someone the wrong way? Obviously very different triggers on a deeper level, but the reactions reflect a very similar hateful mob mentality, fearful as well as self-righteous.

Actually, are the triggers so different? The people who "run" things (and the people who think they are intrinsic parts of that system, or at least benefiting from it) are told (and presented with evidence) that they are not doing a very good job. …

… They completely deny it and smear the messenger (the people) in every way they can, even to physical violence.

They entrench themselves deeper and deeper into their own delusions. Reality, reason, even human feeling can no longer reach them.

Also, on Jan 25:

#ConfirmationBias: It's the only game in town, thanks to social media. #Resist it!

January 16, 2019

Rhetorical fallacies: Propaganda in 4 D’s

Ben Nimmo, of Nato’s PR agency Atlantic Council, has simplified the tactics of propaganda to 4 “D”s: Dismiss (ad hominem), Distort (straw man), Distract (tu quoque), and Dismay, the last of which as he describes it is more like “Threaten”, but Nimmo had apparently committed himself to all D’s.

Also, Dismay/Threaten isn’t actually propaganda, let alone a rhetorical fallacy of logic. The examples Nimmo gives are in fact responses of the target to the actions that the propaganda program (the 3 D’s) is in support of.

There is a more apt fourth D that Nimmo chose not to admit to: Doxx. When the first 3 D’s fail, then simply destroy the life of the person still in your way. In fact, that is the implicit goal of the first 3 D’s. Nimmo’s use of “Dismay” – actually the response of the target of propaganda – obscures that final step of the propagandist, instead presenting the victim’s reaction with the implication that it provides the propagandist reason to Destroy him. So Nimmo’s Dismay is there to provide justification when he is driven – by frustration that his propaganda and provocation are not working as hoped – to the ultimate D, Destroy.

Nimmo focuses on Russian PR efforts, particularly in its response to Nato’s actions against her, and others have applied his model to Donald Trump. The 4 D’s apply much more aptly, however, to the work of the Atlantic Council’s own anti-Russian campaign, as well as to the anti-Trump media, the anti-Brexit media, the anti-Corbyn and anti–Bernie Sanders media – the whole machinery working to protect the neoliberal and neoconservative programs of global capital that have wreaked havoc on the world and people’s lives for almost 40 years.

An unspoken fifth D is both the beginning and the end of Nimmo’s cycle: Delusion. Propaganda is a failure of argument. Without a winning argument, and unwilling to accept more persuasive evidence, one may resort to rhetorical fallacies – propaganda – to preserve one’s delusions. If it works, even if only to retain the loyalty or faith of one’s own fellow travelers, or even just to convince oneself, then the cycle only worsens as it becomes increasingly removed from reality.

Nimmo concisely presents the propaganda efforts of such Dead-enders by projecting what is clearly an in-house strategy guide as the nefarious tactics of his perceived enemies.