September 30, 2019

Microcosm of a postmodern coup

Rashida Tlaib @RashidaTlaib Retweeted Big Boss*:

You are beautiful, A—— A——. You are courageous & strong. You are loved.

You see, A——, you may not feel it now, but you have a power that threatens their core. I can't wait to watch you use it and thrive.

Stay strong.
*Big Boss @escapedmatrix:
Three white boys attacked 12-year-old A—— A——, held her hands behind her back, and cut her dreadlocks.

Second Lady @KarenPence, wife of VP Mike Pence, teaches part-time at #ImmanuelChristianSchool. We will protest in Virginia if this isn't handled.
Coming from someone with dreadlocks and love for your skin, you are beautiful A—— A——. You don't deserve this. #JusticeForA——
Pardon me, but @FLOTUS your #BeBest campaign isn't working for black kids. Why am I not surprised?
.@KarenPence @FLOTUS You're a disgrace to our country, all educational institutions, and our youth in America if you don't immediately address and handle this racism. I'm certain your administration is partially responsible. #BeBestForBlacksToo
.@KarenPence @FLOTUS Failure to respond will only confirm, you allow and promote hate crimes committed against black kids in school.
.@chelseahandler I thought the #HelloPrivilegeItsMeChelsea thing was about realizing how you can help black people with your white privilege. Ummm. Help perhaps? #JusticeForA—— #2ndChance
Now keep in mind, recently a black 6-year-old girl was handcuffed and arrested for throwing a tantrum at school. You would think an actual hate crime would receive the same attention. #EndRacism
.@BrookeBCNN @donlemon @andersoncooper @maddow We need you all over this. Please amplify #JusticeForA——. #EndRacism
The leading headline wasn't 'White kids arrested for assaulting black 12-year-old girl' -- even with a clear article about a black girl assaulted, and a video of her crying as she revisited her pain & fear.

This is what white privilege looks like. #EndRacism
Black girl 'says'... after being assaulted by white kids.

Black boy charged... after a white kid gets hit while playing dodgeball.

Aside from the white privilege, notice how the media always paints blacks as the violent ones. Even when it comes to kids. #EndRacism
[Notice the muddling of real and fantasy, and confusion of justice versus blind revenge, in the last tweets: The arrest of a 6-year-old girl for a tantrum is outrageous in itself, as is the assault charge against a 10-year-old boy. (And such police-state outrages happen to white kids, too.) Yet the tantrum and the assault actually happened. In this case, in contrast, the girl is reported as merely “saying” she was assaulted, because that is in fact all the information available. An arrest on that basis would only add injustice, however satisfying it may be to some racists. And the media interest in the story, rather than reflecting an anti-black bias, was precisely because it is in line with their narrative of the last 3 years about an existential threat from white racists. And the media reporting of the other cases was precisely to fan the very outrage expressed in these tweets. Also note earlier how quickly this thread became an attack on Trump via Karen Pence working part-time at the school, as if that’s what this is really about.]
Thank you @RoArquette for using your platform to call out this racism. #JusticeForA——
#ImmanuelChristianSchool told A—— and her grandmother not to speak about her assault on social media, and to just pray about it. That's something Trump or Pence would say, clear signs of a cover-up.

Our message to them is clear. No justice. No peace. #JusticeForA——
Two days later:
Statement of apology from the family of A—— A—— who now admits she made a false assault allegation against 3 white boys in her class. @nbcwashington
[[[[ o ]]]]

New York Times:
“While we are relieved to hear the truth and bring the events of the past few days to a close, we also feel tremendous pain for the victims and the hurt on both sides of this conflict,” the school’s principal, Stephen Danish, said in a statement.

He continued: “We recognize that we now enter what will be a long season of healing. This ordeal has revealed that we as a school family are not immune from the effects of deep racial wounds in our society.”
This is a microcosm of the reaction to Brexit and Trump. The consultant class has joined with the politicians, both elected and not, and the media to defend and restore the neoliberal globalism and neoconservative imperialism that were clearly repudiated in 2016.

They have done this with a narrative smearing that repudiation as a racist backlash that itself must be repudiated, even to spurning democracy and the law.

And so, just as Hillary Clinton started the refusal to accept Trump’s election and still 3 years later eggs it on, just as all of the Democrats clamor for his removal on imagined and increasing hysterical charges, this poor little girl thought it would be OK to make up a racist assault to get a little attention — because, on the model that the presumed “truth” of Trump’s evil – one’s “lived experience” of it – makes actual evidence and unbiased observation an inconvenience to be kicked aside in this righteous crusade, she has evidently absorbed the idea that the truth of racism is bigger than any truth about anything actually happening.

(There’s also the extra frisson of Karen Pence working at the school — one might start to think that there is more to this than one girl’s personal caper.)

If desired evidence isn’t found or isn’t strong enough, then it must be manufactured, so that the truth can be revealed. The consultant class, the academics and NGOs, whose livelihoods depend on fighting or studying injustice, must ensure that injustice persists. They reveal themselves as courtiers to, not the enemies of, power.

This is obviously immoral and destructive. In the name of defending liberalism, it is fanning the flames of hatred, scapegoating now this group now that group, a mob being easily manipulated as the useful idiots of Wall Street and War. It is as fascist as the Western world has come since the end of World War II.

As everyone is urged to assert their myriad victimhoods against an ever-fungible oppressor, real victims of actual crimes are forgotten. Real overarching hierarchies of oppression and inequity are ignored, because the very purpose of all these charades is to protect and preserve injustice.

See also: How knitters turned nasty

September 21, 2019

Climate Strike

There is so much that is frustrating about this movement, even for those who are sympathetic. Carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions are the least of our problems among the continuing environmental impacts of human life. And “green” alternatives only increase those adverse impacts.

They are all less efficient – diffuse – than “conventional” energy sources and therefore require more resource extraction and land use (industrializing vast swaths of the rural and wild) to provide the same power.

Furthermore, wind and solar are intermittent and variable, so they have to be overbuilt (more resources and land, as well as high-capacity powerlines) – and they still need backup: Natural gas–fired generators are ideal because they can respond quickly to balance the fluctuating power. But operating like that makes them less efficient as well, ie, they would emit more carbon as part of a grid with substantial (even as little as 5%) wind and solar than they would if the wind and solar weren’t there at all.

In short, more resource extraction (mining) and land use (habitat loss) and still dependent on fossil fuels, which would now emit more carbon than before. Brilliant.

Where else might this be leading?

Right now, there is only one energy source that is both more efficient and carbon-free: nuclear. The apocalyptic panic of Extinction Rebellion and Climate Strike seems to be doing all it can as useful idiots to revive nuclear as the only solution to their perception of a crisis caused by fossil fuels (ignoring all the other ways that humans trash the planet, or, eg, the mowing down of rainforests for biofuel plantations).

Convinced that they will not have long to live unless we utterly decarbonize (forget the fact that excess CO₂ stays in the atmosphere for centuries – in fact, current carbon levels may be mostly due to coal burning in the 19th century), this generation may usher in a world powered by nuclear. And the resulting pile-up of waste, leaks, and accidents (imagine hundreds, thousands, of Chernobyls and Fukushimas) are more likely to destroy the planet than everything they are protesting.

September 20, 2019

BAIN: extract, release

Bainim, vl. buain, baint, v. tr., I cut, strip, strike, pluck, dig, lift; with as, I take from, diminish, prime, take away, kill overcome; an chéad-ghábhadh do bhaint as, mar órduigh Pádraig, to relieve the first necessity, as Patrick ordained (saying); b. siar as, I cause a set-back to, disable; bainfead tamall as, it will last me for a time; b. as an leabhar é, I read it from the book; b. as ba reathaibh, I make off at high speed; b. chum reatha, id.; b. as, I force from; b. as bullán, I castrate a bull; bainim cainnt as, I get him to talk; baineann sé fáscadh as mo chliabh, it presses my hear (with anguish); b. ceol as, I play (an instrument); b. chum, I set about a thin; with de, I remove, take away from; créad a bhain díot? what has happened to you? what has brought you to this wretched state? b. de dheol, b. den chích, I wean; b. (with obj.) de, I charge, with a suggestion of extortion; bain sé fiche púnt díom, he charged me twenty pounds; ag baint bárr dá chéile, vying or contending with one another; b. ceart de, I manage successfully (a person or thing); b. sásamh de, I call to account, exact satisfaction from; baineadh dem chosaint mé, I was thrown off my guard; b. póg de, I snatch a kiss from; bhain sé lá díom, it took me a day; b. an croiceann de, I flay, I persecute; with le, I touch, I meddle with, I am connecte with; gach n-aon a bhaineann linn, everyone one connected with, or related to, us; ná bain leis, do not meddle with it or him; baineann sé le deallramh go, it seems likely that; ní fheadar cad a bhaineann le feirg, ⁊c., I know nothing at all about anger, etc., I am completely free from anger, etc.; b. amach, I take possession of, I exact, I eke out, I reach, gain, I rescue; b. amach, intr., I fly, get off (N. Con., U.); bhain sé amach, he made off (Or.); céard do bhain duit? what has happened to you? (Aran); b. do, I am related to (N. Con.), corresponding to b. le (M. etc.); b. do, I affect (N. Con.) corresp. to b. le (M. etc.); baineann do, happens to; ar bhain dúinn, all that happened to usl b. ó, I soothe, mollify, subtract; baineadh na cosa uaim, I was taken off my feet; various uses: a dtoirmeasc ó bhuain ann, to prevent them having anything to do with it (e.g., entering the ecclesiastical state) (Donl.); níor baineadh faoi’n inghin acht ag gol, the girl never ceased from weeping (Don.); buain (bain, baint) fá chéile, to take a partner in life (H.); b. anuas, I take down, cut off, unravel, dismantle; ag baint phrátaí, digging out potatoes; b. (buainim) clog, I ring a bell.

—Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla, 1927, by Patrick Dinneen

Also see entry at: Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla, 1977, by Niall Ó Dónaill, as well as: cuir amach, cuir aníos, cuir anuas, cuir ar, cuir as, cuir chuig, cuir de, cuir do, cuir faoi, cuir le, cuir ó, and cuir siar as.

September 8, 2019

Biggest military spenders in the world

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

The world's largest military budgets:

🇯🇵 $50 billion (Japan)
🇬🇧 $53 billion (UK)
🇫🇷 $56 billion (France)
🇮🇳 $58 billion (India)
🇷🇺 $63 billion (Russia)
🇸🇦 $83 billion (Saudi Arabia)
🇨🇳 $168 billion (China)
🇺🇸 $700 billion (USA)

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:
🇱🇺 $710 (Luxembourg)
🇩🇰 $735 (Denmark)
🇬🇧 $751 (UK)
🇧🇳 $799 (Brunei)
🇰🇷 $842 (South Korea)
🇧🇭 $891 (Bahrain)
🇫🇷 $978 (France)
🇦🇺 $1,078 (Australia)
🇳🇴 $1,320 (Norway)
🇴🇲 $1,389 (Oman)
🇰🇼 $1,738 (Kuwait)
🇸🇬 $1,872 (Singapore)
🇮🇱 $1,887 (Israel)
🇺🇸 $1,986 (USA)
🇸🇦 $2,013 (Saudi Arabia)

World's biggest military spenders as share of all govt spending:
(World 6.3% [Stockholm International Peace Research Institute])
(🇺🇸 9.0% [SIPRI])
🇰🇷 12.1% (South Korea)
🇲🇲 12.4% (Myanmar)
🇲🇱 12.7% (Mali)
🇹🇩 13.8% (Chad)
🇦🇲 15.5% (Armenia)
🇱🇧 15.6% (Lebanon)
🇯🇴 15.8% (Jordan)
🇮🇷 15.8% (Iran)
🇩🇿 16.1% (Algeria)
🇵🇰 17.1% (Pakistan)
🇸🇬 17.2% (Singapore)
🇨🇬 17.9% (Congo-Brazzaville)
🇧🇾 25.3% (Belarus)
🇴🇲 26.3% (Oman)
🇸🇦 30.4% (Saudi Arabia)
🇸🇩 30.9% (Sudan)

World's biggest military spending as share of GDP
(🇺🇸 3.2%)
🇨🇴 3.2% (Colombia)
🇳🇦 3.3% (Namibia)
🇺🇿 3.6% (Uzbekistan)
🇧🇭 3.6% (Bahrain)
🇦🇿 3.8% (Azerbaijan)
🇺🇦 3.8% [est] (Ukraine)
🇷🇺 3.9% (Russia)
🇵🇰 4.0% (Pakistan)
🇮🇱 4.3% (Israel)
🇯🇴 4.7% (Jordan)
🇦🇲 4.8% (Armenia)
🇱🇧 5.0% [est] (Lebanon)
🇰🇼 5.1% (Kuwait)
🇩🇿 5.3% [uncert] (Algeria)
🇴🇲 8.2% [uncert] (Oman)
🇸🇦 8.8% [est] (Saudi Arabia)

World's biggest military spending as share of GDP
(International Institute for Strategic Studies):
🇲🇱 3.9% (Mali)
🇦🇲 4.0% (Armenia)
🇦🇿 4.0% (Azerbaijan)
🇳🇦 4.1% (Namibia)
🇯🇴 4.4% (Jordan)
🇧🇼 4.4% (Botswana)
🇷🇺 4.6% (Russia)
🇧🇭 4.8% (Bahrain)
🇮🇱 6.1% (Israel)
🇩🇿 6.3% (Algeria)
🇨🇬 6.4% (Congo-Brazzaville)
🇸🇦 8.9% (Saudi Arabia)
🇮🇶 11.6% (Iraq)
🇦🇫 14.0% (Afghanistan)
🇴🇲 15.3% (Oman)

Note, the above do not include 🇰🇵, 🇸🇾, 🇾🇪, and 🇱🇾 (North Korea, Syria, Yemen, and Libya).

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 Lenín 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.