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A Geezer Crosses the Bar


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 14, 2020

“Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.”

 ― Alfred, Lord Tennyson  


"Crossing the bar" is a nautical metaphor Tennyson uses to compare death with crossing the "sandbar" between the river of life and the ocean beyond (death), the "boundless deep", to which we return. My friend Joe has crossed the bar.

When you retire, lunch is one of the few ways an old man has any chance for a social life. Thus it was with a small circle of my local friends. Every 4 to 6 weeks, several of us would gather for a "geezers' lunch." My friend Joe would generally facilitate the gathering, making the phone calls and wrangling the troops. He was the straw that stirred the drink. 

We geriatrics would toddle into some local pissoir for seafood, a couple of beers and some spirited conversation. Attendance would vary, but centered around four people: Al, a writer, poet and local gadfly, and publisher of a journal of working-class poetry with a small but fervent national following; Angelo, a painter and entrepreneur, who was successful at business without any real love for it, and who was far more interested in art and his own lines of independent thought; your obedient servant; and of course Joe. All of had met during Occupy in 2011, when old gathered with young on the streets to protest repression and economic injustice. Joe was a Renaissance man, by turns boat builder, contractor, student, teacher, gardener, actor, and especially raconteur.

And now Joe is gone.

Joe's devoted wife called me with the news and asked me to spread the word. The news hit me like a building falling. He had just been part of a gathering at my home the previous Friday, where we brought our own lunch, socially distanced on the back deck in heartfelt conversation while sucking down a twelve-pack of Modelos. I still don't believe it.

Joe was immensely intellectually curious, and was always delving into historical or nautical subjects. At lunch that Friday he had three books on 9/11 In hand. This was completely typical Joe; his appetite for knowledge and his intellectual curiosity was restless and unquenchable.


According to Joe, he once attended St. John Vianney seminary in Goochland, Virginia. At the end of that year he received a letter from the bishop, cordially inviting him not to pursue further studies for the priesthood. Joe attended Old Dominion College (at that time a branch of William and Mary) in the late sixties before embarking on a career in construction. From Joe's unofficial bio:

There was a satisfaction that I found in working with a pile lumber in the morning and walking away at the end of the day with a structure in back of me. Residential construction led to commercial construction of restaurants, hotels, motels, banks and apartments. As my woodworking skills developed I found occasional work for piratical friends who were restoring large wooden sailboats. I fell in love with wooden sailboats and wooden boat building.

From there, Joe worked for a year or so at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in their small boat shop but did not enjoy daily exposure to clouds of fiberglass dust and polystyrene vapors. He took over the management of a utility/ general-purpose carpentry shop for the Navy Exchange, then applied for a teaching position with the brand new Norfolk School of Boat Building opening on the downtown Norfolk waterfront. A direction was set for ship building and ship repair, and acting(!). Even though he left college without graduating, he maintained a lifelong interest in American and European history, as evidenced by his voracious reading habits.

During the mid-1970s he worked in the U.S. Merchant Marines. Sailing on small and medium sized tugboats while controlling tugs and barges of vast tonnage gave him a fundamental understanding of how ships handled under challenging sea and weather conditions. His practical experience, coupled with a respect for traditional building skills enabled him to teach woodworking and boat construction at the Norfolk School of Boatbuilding. This school was (as far as I know) the first official, permanent boat-building institution in one of the nation's earliest ports. It closed in 1991.

In 1980 Joe had already left, to work with the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Corporation as a rigger, eventually working his way into production engineering management.  In 1985, Joe started his own company, Decking Design, Inc., a shipboard marine flooring and decking firm serving naval and commercial shipping on the East Coast. He became a federal contractor and laid teak decks on warships. With that company, he ran work with 35 full-time tradesmen through 1993.

Since then, Joe continued work as an independent boatbuilder, artisan, craftsman and instructor.  He also worked with the historical department at the Mariners Museum in Newport News, VA as an interpreter and historical character actor. He portrayed, "the old sea captain", for audiences from all over the world. It gave Joe the opportunity to commit some of the works of Tennyson, Conrad and E.B. White to memory. His work as a character actor led to his being hired to portray a wealthy New York banker in the two episode historical documentary, "Clear the Way", based on a life of the Irish-American Civil War General Thomas Francis Meagher. The film was set during the 1863 draft riots, and produced by an Irish production company. The documentary film was shot in and around Hagerstown, Maryland in conjunction with the Smithsonian and National Geographic.

Following "Clear the Way", Joe continued to work in film and theater projects. He has appeared in, "A Witch in Time", and "Bon Voyage" produced by John Graves Warner, another personal friend. Joe's gift for voices and a beard straight out of the 19th century, led Stephen Spielberg to cast him in "Lincoln" as a "Republican Senator." He's in a number of scenes.

Joe also loved to perform and would memorize long seafaring stories and poems, from authors like Tennyson, Conrad, Villiers, Masefield, A.H.Clark, C.Fox Smith and E.B White, then perform them in public. He would commit many pages to memory, with the accuracy and precision of an Islamic adept memorizing the Koran.

In his later days, Joe served on the board of directors for Nautical Adventures, Inc., a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged youth in Hampton Roads.  His last love was the Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop. Aside from his wife, "Miss Patricia" in Joe-speak, the Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop may have been his greatest love.


Of all the many things Joe did, perhaps the Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop was his finest hour.

Joe's partner there was retired Marine Col. Tom Brandl, who shared his enthusiasms. The Tidewater Wooden Boat Workshop is a program that teaches young people life skills through boat building. Every meeting with Joe was an opportunity to be regaled with stories of young people having breakthrough "aha" moments as the learned the relationships between math, design, and problem solving. Joe's phone was always loaded with photos of the students and their workshop projects, and he beamed with pride and he shared those photos and the stories behind them  One of Joe's greatest pleasures was knowing that he was helping to shape lives, as the realization dawned upon his students that they could solve problems they heretofore had no idea they could even address. By learning concepts, how to use tools, and how to apply effort wth their own minds and hands and heart. This was Joe's greatest gift.

We geezers and broken-down former Occupiers recognized Joe as a wordslinger of the first order, a tireless fighter for causes of social justice, fairness, and equity under the law. Joe had empathy out the ass for anyone getting the short end of the stick or dealt a bad hand, an attitude which infused his latter day boatbuilding teaching and evangelism. He was always aware that those folk were his folk, working folk, and always felt a tie to the weaker-thans and the forgotten. He was an honorable man.

And now he has crossed the bar.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. 

Brutal Cops, Brutal Country


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 7, 2020

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.


My family tree is replete with police and firemen. My great uncle was a cop. My cousins are cops. Likewise my wife's family is full of police and firemen. I suspect it's that way for most\ people; police work is so ubiquitous that most working class families have cops dangling somewhere from the family tree. So I bring to a discussion of police and police work no agenda other than that of a taxpayer, a citizen, and a pasty white man comfortable enough to be concerned for social justice, at least before cocktail time.

So it's with sadness that I beheld the events of the week and conclude that police departments in this country need a giant enema. What happened to George Floyd was bad enough; what happened to an 75-year man in Buffalo is quite another.

Video of two Buffalo, New York police officers pushing an elderly man to the ground quickly went viral late Thursday night, drawing widespread criticism. The mayor of Buffalo, Byron W. Brown, tweeted a statement saying “I was deeply disturbed by the video, as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood. He directed an immediate investigation into the matter, and the two officers have been suspended without pay.

(The victim was later identified as Martin Gugino, a long-time peace activist.) The ubiquity of video cameras on phones, such as that which documented the Buffalo incident, would make you think police might have some concern for better PR. These videos go viral and make it around the world while the excuses from the Police Union are putting on their pants. John Evans, the president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, said, 

They were simply doing their job. I don't know how much contact was made. He did slip in my estimation. He fell backwards.

In response to the suspensions of the two most egregious offenders, 57 members of Buffalo police riot response team resigned en masse. Not a good look.

We've also seen images of white journalists being shot with rubber bullets and beaten with truncheons, and innocent white protesters manhandled by warrior cops. What black Americans have been living with for many decades, becomes newsworthy only when it happens to white people. Better late than never. The fact that police are responding to protests about police violence with even greater violence indicates an innate brutality, an imperfect strategy, and the failure to remember who they ultimately work for. In particular, who is paying the bills.


No one minimizes that police work is hard. Imagine living with the prospect that the next routine traffic stop can explode in gunplay. Imagine daily contact with drunks, the mentally disabled and violent criminals. Cops confront life-and-death situations on a regular basis. Yet if media and police unions repeat the line that "police work is dangerous," it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Do police develop an anticipatory mindset of violence when they believe that they are going into deadly battle when they head out on patrol? 

Is there no training?

Yet none of that should excuse away the snarling brutality exhibited by cops against unarmed, otherwise peaceful protesters. Ever since we were able to wink at the Eighth Amendment's prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment to justify torture (rebranded as "enhanced interrogation" ), we have forgotten who we were and what we once stood for.


As I noted last week, police are the occupation army of capital. Their job is to protect property and wealth. Regardless of what you think, the Supreme Court has held that police are under no obligation whatsoever to "protect and serve"  you. Occupation armies quite justifiably view a subject citizenry as hostile. We learn, for example, that the vast majority of city police in Minneapolis live in the suburbs. This is common among most city workers. But it means cops do not view the people they are patrolling as neighbors. Imagine the change in outcomes if they did. 

Consider the following headlines from US papers just this past week:

Buffalo cops expected to face charges for shoving elderly protester

June 6, 2020 | 10:33am  The officers are anticipated in court Saturday, according to sources cited by a local NBC affiliate. Their colleagues from the department’s Emergency Response Team are expected to escort them inside…

Riot police clear protesters with tear gas for Trump’s church photo op, drawing outrage

JUN 02, 2020|12:39 AM  Riot police in Washington, D.C., used tear gas to clear protesters from a park near the White House as President Trump vowed to crack down on the demonstrations. Around 6:30 p.m., a half hour before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew, police used tear gas, rubber bullets, shields and horses to force protesters out of Lafayette Park…

Protests about police brutality are met with wave of police brutality across US

June 6, 2020  Use teargas, batons, pepper spray, fists, feet and vehicles against protesters sparks lawsuits and international condemnation

Buffalo mayor blasts elderly protester shoved by cops

June 6, 2020 | 8:25am  The elderly Buffalo protester knocked to the ground by cops in a viral video that has become an international symbol of police brutality was an “agitator” who was “trying to…

75-year-old Buffalo man pushed by cops described as 'gentle person'

June 5, 2020 | 5:52pm Martin Gugino — the 75-year-old man who was shoved to the ground by Buffalo police in a video seen by millions — is a long-time peace activist and “gentle person,”…

Entire police team resigns in solidarity with cops who shoved elderly man

June 5, 2020 | 3:56pm The entire Buffalo police Emergency Response Team has resigned following the suspension of two officers who were caught on video shoving a 75-year-old protester to the pavement, according to reports…

Black Tacoma man who died in police custody screamed 'I can't breathe': lawyer

June 6, 2020 | 9:20am  A 33-year-old black man who died in police custody in Tacoma, Washington, screamed “I can’t breathe” on dispatcher audio, a lawyer for the man’s family said. Marcus Ellis was apprehended…

Breonna Taylor remembered by NYC mourners on what would be her 27th birthday

June 5, 2020 | 10:42pm  Anti-police brutality protesters in New York City paid their respects on Friday to Breonna Taylor, a black EMT who was fatally shot by cops in her home in Kentucky home…

Minneapolis bans police chokeholds in wake of George Floyd death

June 5, 2020 | 1:41pm  Negotiators for the city of Minneapolis have agreed with the state to ban the use of chokeholds by police and to require police to report and intervene anytime they see…

DC mayor has 'Black Lives Matter' painted on street leading to White House

June 5, 2020 | 1:40pm  Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday had “Black Lives Matter” painted in large yellow letters on the street that leads to the White House, and also designated the square…

Kansas City announces police reform amid George Floyd protests

June 5, 2020 | 3:43am  KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City is reforming police procedures after criticism from black organizations about police conduct during nearly a week of protests as well as long-standing tension between…

Minneapolis City Council members pledge to 'dismantle' police department

June 4, 2020 | 11:31pm   Members of the Minneapolis City Council pledged to “dismantle” the city’s police department in the wake of worldwide protests over the killing of George Floyd. Council President Lisa Bender joined…

NYPD officers appear to beat passing cyclist with batons: video

June 4, 2020 | 9:50am  Three NYPD officers were caught on video apparently beating a cyclist with their batons. One of the officers is seen whacking the cyclist as he peddles across an intersection, with…

City Council secures veto-proof majority for bill criminalizing police chokeholds

June 4, 2020 | 1:39am  The City Council has secured a veto-proof majority for legislation to criminalize NYPD chokeholds, Speaker Corey Johnson said Wednesday. With 35 Council members supporting the bill, it can become law over…

Protesters take a knee at Trump Hotel and Trump Tower ahead of NYC curfew

June 2, 2020 | 8:39pm  A mass of anti-police brutality protesters gathered in front of Trump International Hotel ahead of Tuesday’s 8 p.m. curfew, as demonstrations continued to rage across the city for a sixth…

George Floyd's 6-year-old daughter appears next to weeping mom

June 2, 2020 | 7:08pm  George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter stood next to her weeping mom at a press conference Tuesday as the woman recalled how Floyd moved to Minnesota to help support them — and…

Six Atlanta cops charged in excessive force arrest of two students

June 2, 2020 | 3:06pm  Body camera footage shows the officers breaking the windows of a car and yanking the students, Taniyah Pilgrim, 20, and Messiah Young, 22, out Saturday night as they were riding…

Cop suspended for shoving kneeling George Floyd protester

June 2, 2020 | 1:09pm  A Fort Lauderdale cop has been suspended after he was caught on video shoving a kneeling protester during a George Floyd demonstration Sunday, according to a report. 

The Police Are Targeting Protest Medics

June 5– As people take to the streets to protest racism and police violence against Black Americans after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd last week ― it doesn’t matter who you are or why you’re there: The cops will take you out.

Police targeting journalists during protests is an assault on the First Amendment

June 4- It’s not unusual for politicians and candidates for office to express their fervent and unwavering support for the Second Amendment. Now would be an ideal time for them to show the same allegiance to the First Amendment and its guarantee of a free press.

Neighbors usually don't do these things to neighbors. One wonders how much of the brutality we see comes from the infiltration of law enforcement agencies by white supremacists, members of the alt right and neofascists. These groups maintain an active presence in U.S. police departments and other law enforcement agencies. 

The FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide from April 2015, obtained by The Intercept. The guide, which details the process by which the FBI enters individuals on a terrorism watchlist, the Known or Suspected Terrorist File, notes that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers,” and explains in some detail how bureau policies have been crafted to take this infiltration into account.

We saw in Charlottesville how state police and others stood aside while armed Klansmen and Nazis ran amok, resulting in injuries to antifascist protests and the death of one woman, Heather Heyer, run over by a Nazi from Ohio. (This was the episode that led to Trump's infamous refusal to disavow Nazis, proclaiming that there were "good people on both sides.")


"When the looting starts, the shooting starts." 

–Miami police Chief Walter Headley, 1968, tweeted by Trump May 29 

Trump's effusions of "treat 'em rough," and "Dominance!" all contribute to an atmosphere that lends itself to brutality. Law-enforcement officers know that they no longer have Obama and Holder looking over their shoulders; Now it's Trump and Barr, and they are free to indulge their darkest impulses. As recently as five years ago, the police were afraid of being filmed, having their images captured, with the potential to be identified. No more. Now it seems having brutality captured on video is a badge of honor. Virality, bitchez…

Little surprise that if cops know that state-sanctioned violence is permissible, state-sanctioned violence is what we'll get. The murder of Ahmaud Arbery was a clear a case of vigilantism as we are likely to see. The only thing missing were the robes and hoods. 

American authoritarianism is going to be rooted in racist violence. The Compromise of 1877, which ended a tie vote in the Electoral College and Rutherford Hayes becoming President, was conditioned upon the withdrawal of Federal troops from the south. This ended Reconstruction, as well as the vision for a unified country. It also reinvigorated the KKK, and birthed Jim Crow.

Racism received a booster shot when Woodrow Wilson screened "Birth of a Nation" at the White House in 1915. The D.W. Griffith film glorified the Klan and told a false story about race relations in the South, with the aim "to revolutionize Northern audiences that would transform every man into a Southern partisan for life." "Birth of a Nation" built upon the existing myth of The Lost Cause promulgated by Confederate propagandist E.A. Pollard, a fictional re-writing of history that endorsed the supposed virtues of the antebellum South, viewing the Civil War as a struggle primarily to save the Southern way of life, or to defend "states' rights", in the face of overwhelming "Northern aggression." Ignoring the abject treason of the slavers.

Racist policing has a long and ignoble pedigree, and now it has been given new life by the most openly racist president since Wilson.


The First Amendment is visibly under assault. Dozens of reports from around the country this week have shown journalists getting shot at, manhandled, abused and arrested by police officers, even after identifying themselves as journalists. We saw a CNN journalist arrested live on national TV while filing a report. Coming soon, a further assault on freedom of assembly, complete with truncheons wielded upon peaceful, defenseless protesters.

This is the sort of behavior we are used to seeing from Egypt, Brazil, Kenya or Paraguay, not the US. But the non-lethal techniques we've tested abroad have come home. And are paid for with our tax dollars.

We've seen an increasingly weak and desperate president label antifa as a "terrorist group" as he ramps up the tough-guy rhetoric. All in service to a sort of illusory "patriotism," which is simply rabid nationalism in drag. Trump wraps himself in the flag, and raises a bible as a worship object. Flag worship raises armies, after all. And military veterans often muster out and join the police. 

Next time we will review why it is so difficult to prosecute cops– the concept of "qualified immunity," which some are trying to end. And how we might effect change: Cut the rot at the root, go after the funding, And watch the weed wither and die. As always, follow the money.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone.

Herd Immunity For Thee, Daily Tests For Me


From the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 19, 2020

"There is no genius there, only a damaged human being playing havoc with our lives."

 ― Jay Rosen  


The Trump Administration has decided to embrace the herd immunity strategy as a means to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Oh, they haven't told you. There was no formal announcement– nothing so honest. The same stratagem once presented as an option to Boris Johnson as a means for the UK to deal with the raging infection, then rejected as altogether too expensive in terms of human lives and strain to the NHS, has been embraced by the Trump administration as policy. Superseding their own previous public guidance, Trump has exhorted state governors to "open up" their states, and encouraged armed gaggles of low-T cosplayers to take to the streets to demonstrate for their own impending illness and demise.

Meanwhile, in the last weeks, a Trump valet and a spokesperson for Mike Pence were diagnosed as Covid-19 positive. Trump's primary concern was messaging: the idea that the notion of Covid-19 stalks the White House would undercut his message that the outbreak is waning and states should begin reopening. Re-election is job one, and re-opening the country is the foundation upon which that effort will be built.

Even though you still can't get a test after several months, the White House has been deploying rapid-result tests for the virus, including testing members of the press corps. Thus, testing for me but none for thee.

Thousands are dying each week, the economy is cratering, and the jackal in charge has no idea what he is doing. All that matters is his impending re-election campaign, and it doesn't really matter how many thousands of muppets have to shoveled into the incinerator to achieve that.

And Trumpsuckers love him for it. Quoted in The Guardian, here's Lee Snover, a Republican party chair a key Pennsylvania swing county, who lost her father to Covid-19, and whose husband was hospitalized with the disease:

“It spread through my entire family,” Snover said.

Trump stands accused of driving up the coronavirus death toll by downplaying the public health threat and urging the country to “reopen” too quickly. But Snover does not see the president as having failed her family.

“I don’t think people give him enough credit,” she said. “If you think about what a businessman he was, and how much he loved that booming economy, do you know how hard it was for him to shut the country down? That was hard. So I give him credit for that.”

At times it has appeared that the pandemic, which has already taken at least 90,000 lives in the United States and wreaked havoc with the economy, would also destroy support for Trump, and his chances for reelection. But interviews with longtime Trump supporters in Northampton county indicate the extraordinary durability of backing for the president among his base.

Trump has punted responsibility to state governors, saying they are "on their own." He has abdicated the roles of leadership, planning and unified purchasing that might be the useful functions of the federal government, while retaining the right to second guess any decision they make. 

Trump makes much of the fact that the US had administered the most tests (11.5M as of this writing), but only a little over three percent of the total population. We learned this week that, despite swaths of the country shutting down for two months, the U.S. is barely further along in terms of testing, and experts say that there's no realistic way to return to normal without doubling or tripling the number of tests administered every day.

So why are we not further along? Where are the tests? They went to Jared:

Kushner, it turns out, is reportedly one of the people directly responsible for the country's extreme delays in rolling out tests when the outbreak started. That's according to the Financial Times, which recently published a deep-dive into the Trump administration's chaotic and denial-plagued coronavirus response. One of Donald Trump's confidants, who's regularly in touch with the president, put the blame squarely on Kushner, saying, "Jared had been arguing that testing too many people, or ordering too many ventilators, would spook the markets and so we just shouldn’t do it. That advice worked far more powerfully on [Trump] than what the scientists were saying. He thinks they always exaggerate."

So if you are one of the numerous Americans who still can't get a Covid test, thank the smooth-cheeked porcelain-doll Dauphin and Trump scion. Jared's fecklessness is given proper shrift in an article by George Packer in the June Atlantic that details how this country's wan response to the pandemic has revealed a beggar nation in utter chaos:

Like a wanton boy throwing matches in a parched field, Trump began to immolate what was left of national civic life. He never even pretended to be president of the whole country, but pitted us against one another along lines of race, sex, religion, citizenship, education, region, and—every day of his presidency—political party. His main tool of governance was to lie. A third of the country locked itself in a hall of mirrors that it believed to be reality; a third drove itself mad with the effort to hold on to the idea of knowable truth; and a third gave up even trying…

And the "purest embodiment of political nihilism is not Trump himself but Jared the "Disruptor:".

In his short lifetime, Kushner has been fraudulently promoted as both a meritocrat and a populist. He was born into a moneyed real-estate family the month Ronald Reagan entered the Oval Office, in 1981—a princeling of the second Gilded Age. Despite Jared’s mediocre academic record, he was admitted to Harvard after his father, Charles, pledged a $2.5 million donation to the university. Father helped son with $10 million in loans for a start in the family business, then Jared continued his elite education at the law and business schools of NYU, where his father had contributed $3 million. Jared repaid his father’s support with fierce loyalty when Charles was sentenced to two years in federal prison in 2005 for trying to resolve a family legal quarrel by entrapping his sister’s husband with a prostitute and videotaping the encounter.

Imagine that Thanksgiving dinner.

So when his father-in-law became president, Kushner quickly gained power in an administration that raised amateurism, nepotism, and corruption to governing principles. As long as he busied himself with Middle East peace, his feckless meddling didn’t matter to most Americans. But since he became an influential adviser to Trump on the coronavirus pandemic, the result has been mass death.

In his first week on the job, in mid-March, Kushner co-authored the worst Oval Office speech in memory, interrupted the vital work of other officials, may have compromised security protocols, flirted with conflicts of interest and violations of federal law, and made fatuous promises that quickly turned to dust. “The federal government is not designed to solve all our problems,” he said, explaining how he would tap his corporate connections to create drive-through testing sites. They never materialized. He was convinced by corporate leaders that Trump should not use presidential authority to compel industries to manufacture ventilators—then Kushner’s own attempt to negotiate a deal with General Motors fell through. With no loss of faith in himself, he blamed shortages of necessary equipment and gear on incompetent state governors.

To watch this pale, slim-suited dilettante breeze into the middle of a deadly crisis, dispensing business-school jargon to cloud the massive failure of his father-in-law’s administration, is to see the collapse of a whole approach to governing.

But for those of us who live out here in flyover country, it's back to normal. Open the beaches, open the bars, open the barber shops, and second wave be damned.


Writing in Pressthink, journalism observer Jay Rosen gets it exactly correct– Trump's plan is to have no plan:

The plan is to have no plan, to let daily deaths between one and three thousand become a normal thing, and then to create massive confusion about who is responsible— by telling the governors they’re in charge without doing what only the federal government can do, by fighting with the press when it shows up to be briefed, by fixing blame for the virus on China or some other foreign element, and by “flooding the zone with shit,” Steve Bannon’s phrase for overwhelming the system with disinformation, distraction, and denial, which boosts what economists call “search costs” for reliable intelligence.

Stated another way, the plan is to default on public problem solving,and then prevent the public from understanding the consequences of that default. To succeed this will require one of the biggest propaganda and freedom of information fights in U.S. history, the execution of which will, I think, consume the president’s re-election campaign. So much has already been made public that the standard script for a White House cover up (worse than the crime…) won’t apply. Instead, everything will ride on the manufacture of confusion. The press won’t be able to “expose” the plot because it will all happen in stark daylight. The facts will be known, and simultaneously they will be inconceivable

Not only is the plan to have no plan, but to question the objective reporting og events. Part of the non-plan to "prevent the public from understanding the consequences of that default" is to question the numbers. Last week Deborah Birx loudly said that 'there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust' in a White House coronavirus task force meeting. Hers was the first sortie in a wholesale assault on the methodolgy used by the CDC and others in tabulating the death toll. How long before Hannity, Limbaugh and the other attack dogs of the right join in the attack?

The truth seems to be that Birx and others fear that the CDC's data-tracking system was inflating coronavirus statistics like death rates and case numbers. Recent research indicates that COVID-19 deaths have been severely undercounted, both in the US and around the world, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic. Texas reported its highest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases as restaurants, salons, and cinemas open to the public, And in other early-opening states, GOP Governors are actively cooking the books in their respective states. 

Even now, if you are one of the ghouls who checks the daily totals (and I am), a gap has opened up between the statistics reported by the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering, and the Worldometers web site. After tracking together for the last several months, the Johns Hopkins numbers are running behind the Worldometers numbers. Whether this is a momentary anomaly or represents a symptom of a greater discrepancy, I cannot tell.


How about the costs? Meanwhile, New coronavirus cases in Germany almost tripled within 24 hours — less than a week after the country started reopening — as it considers an 'emergency brake' to reinstate harsher lockdowns. We are also told thst Texas is showing a spike in cases. Hard to tell what is happening in the New Confederacy, as Governors and state Health departments slow-walk the numbers and play statistical games to change the subject. But time will tell; it always does.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Week in Doom: Don’t Drink The Bleach


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964From the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on April 26, 2020

"Americans who take any comfort from [Trump’s nightly briefings] were Trump-drunk long ago. The unbesotted see and hear the president for what he is: a tone-deaf showman who regards everything, even a mountain of corpses, as a stage."

 ― Frank Bruni  


This week an out-of-control American president made remarks about using sunlight and disinfectants topically, an improvised medicine show that prompted frantic health warnings from multiple quarters. Since the revisionist right is furiously trying to deny that this ever happened, or happened the way that it happened, let's reproduce Trump's statements word for word here:

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.” 

“So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it [to Dr. Birx]. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body.”

One wonders at the anatomical possibilities.

On Friday, Trump said he was speaking "sarcastically." So sarcastically that his administration had to dampen repeated outrage, face calls from poison control agencies nationwide, and endure cautionary calls from Lysol and other manufacturers as they had to issue dont-take-this-stuff denials. No one was buying it, after the aggressive pushback from all quarters. Making one pine for good old days when people merely ate Tide pods. 

Responding to the criticism from public health officials around the country, the president said he was playing a trick on reporters.

Vin Gupta, a global-health policy expert, told NBC News: “This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous. It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.”

Lysol and Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser said Friday, “Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route). As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines.”

These are not responses to sarcasm. By week's end, amid leaked stories that aides and advisers were trying to get Trump to reel in his freewheeling, off-the-cuff self-indulgement-fests, Trump announced an end to his daily pressers. He blamed the media for being "fake news" and said they were a "waste of time."  Like dealing with an ex, Trump can reliably be counted upon to let you know that whatever happens is someone else's fault. By week's end, Dr. Deborah Birx sold off what remained of her own credibility in a Fox News interview. Asked if the media in this country had been fair during this pandemic, Birx replied,

“I think the media is very slicey and dicey with the way they put together sentences in order to create headlines.”

"Slicey and dicey." We'll just leave this here to ripen.


With just over four percent of the world’s population, the United States has about one-third of all global coronavirus cases and one-quarter of the fatalities. And the numbers are probably under-reported, since the US has tested only about 1.5 per cent of the population. There are also recording and testing inconsistencies or errors globally. One wonders how India, with 1.3 trillion people, has only recorded 25,000 cases and 780 deaths.

Now we learn that healthy people in their 30s and 40s are dying of covid-induced strokes. Once thought to primarily attack the lungs, the coronavirus has shown that it can affect nearly every major organ system in the body.

Many researchers suspect strokes in novel coronavirus patients may be a direct consequence of blood problems that are producing clots all over some people’s bodies.

Clots that form on vessel walls fly upward so one that started in the calves might migrate to the lungs, causing a blockage called a pulmonary embolism that arrests breathing – a known cause of death in covid-19 patients. Clots in or near the heart might lead to a heart attack, another common cause of death. Anything above that would likely go to the brain, leading to a stroke.

Counting on antibody tests to let you know if you can resume life as usual? Not so fast: WHO Warns You May Catch Coronavirus More Than Once

“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the United Nations agency said in an April 24 statement.

The WHO guidance came after some governments suggested that people who have antibodies to the coronavirus could be issued an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate” that would allow them to travel or return to work, based on the assumption that they were safe from re-infection, according to the statement. 

The truth is that Trump Wants to Reopen the Economy Because He’s Panicking About Reelection Polls. He is running eight to ten points behind Biden in key states that he will need to secure re-election. Even with Joe Biden as good as being held in house arrest. No need for Joe to campaign, when Trump is doing such a good job of self-immolation.

Worldwide we are approaching 3M cases reported. In the US we approaching one million cases with no end in sight, and with minimal testing,  are adding 100K every 3 days. But how good are the official numbers? Since we have tested only about 1.5 percent of the American population, as the federal government has sent a steady, unbroken supply of excuses to the states' governors, the resulting numbers may be less than reliable.  A recent Antibody Study Suggests Coronavirus Far More Widespread Than Thought

A new study in California has found the number of people infected with coronavirus may be tens of times higher than previously thought. The study from Stanford University, which was released Friday and has yet to be peer reviewed, tested samples from 3,330 people in Santa Clara county and found the virus was 50 to 85 times more common than official figures indicated.

The study illustrates how little we really know about the virus. It may be far more widespread and far less deadly than we think. Meanwhile, if that news isn't bad enough, 

UN World Food Program reports that the "Risk of hunger pandemic as COVID-19 set to almost double acute hunger by end of 2020." While poor and working class people in the third world may starve, in the US people are having a hard time finding frozen french fries in  supermarkets because of demand disruption and supply chain issues. 


“Please don't call them protesters… they're terrorists. Protesters don't carry AK47s, wave swastika flags, or block ambulances.”

 ― Daniel Staniforth  

Last week Trump claimed "complete authority" to open the country. The following day, he punted responsibility to the states. He said he was going to close Congress based on some mystical Article 2 power,  Which he can't. Deciding that wasn't good enough, he tweeted: "Liberate Virginia!" "Liberate Michigan" "Liberate Minnesota!" in support of astroturfed right wing protest efforts. And a number of Americans have flocked to answer the call.

Anyone scoring at home knows that absent testing, there is little responsible way for larger and more afflicted states to re-open. But Trump's fans aren't moved by science or evidence. They seem to be moved by oppositional defiance disorder.

These folks are demonstrating in favor of the "herd immunity" stratagem rejected in the UK once Boris Johnson put pencil to paper and calculated the casualties. So members of this death cult are out on the streets in favor of sustaining as many deaths as necessary to restore business as usual. Given that the disease culls the elderly and infirm first,  say goodbye to Granny and Grandpa. Thanks for everything, and you've been great, but we have the quarter to think about and stock portfolios to protect.

These people have always been with us. During the Revolution, they supported the King, and fled to Canada and the Eastern Shore to avoid the insurrection. In the 1840s they emerged as the nativist Know-Nothings who emerged to fight the influx of Irish immigrants fleeing famine. 

During the Civil War, while  secessionists want to war to preserve their "peculiar institution," outrages against American Blacks occurred on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.  There were "anti-Negro" race riots in New York city such that gunboats and federal troops were needed to restore order. After Reconstruction, southerners were able to deny generations of Blacks the legal status afforded in law by a combination of Jim Crow laws and a program of domestic terror via the Klan.. During the same period, we closed the frontier and made the world safe for railroad capitalists by embracing the motto "the only good indian is a dead indian," executing a war of extermination on both native Americans and the buffalo who roamed the plains. Within living memory, as Richard Nixon boarded the helicopter for his one way trip to disgrace, he maintained a 24 percent approval rating.

#Covidiots answered Dear Leader's call to "Liberate" three states with Democrat governors. Overwhelmingly white, they are eager to take credit for an unearned accident of birth and based on an erroneous social construct. Trump rewarded them with an executive order ceasing immigration to the US.

Perhaps even more distressing is Fat Orange's casual capacity for summoning his Bund into the streets, the better to block hospital entrances to ambulances. Look for more of this as the election approaches and Trump continues to sag in the polls.

Ironies abound regarding the flap over social distancing. For the past 15 years, we''ve watched as people became completely disengaged from their partners, families, friends, and children so they could stare raptly into their phones. Now, when social distancing can save countless lives, you can't get people to stay the fuck at home and stare at said phones. They want to die for the right to a haircut. They are, however, a distinct minority.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports in a recent survey,

most Americans (80%) say strict shelter-in-place measures are worth it in order to protect people and limit the spread of coronavirus. Fewer (19%) say the strict shelter-in-place measures are placing unnecessary burdens on people and the economy and causing more harm than good.

Lots of good, recent polling information in this study. Worth a read, while you're sheltering in place.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

A Journal of the Plague


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964From the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on April 5, 2020

"The taverns are fair full of gadabouts making merry this eve. Though I may press my face against the window like an urchin at a confectioner’s, I am tempted not by the sweetmeats within. A dram in exchange for the pox is an ill bargain indeed."

— Samuel Pepys, 1665


Watching Covid-19 unfold is like watching the approach of a slow motion catastrophe. We cannot run, nor hide. We can only wait. The math is immutable, and inexorable. The confirmed infection counts and death tolls double every three days. Tick-tock.

We are told to practice "social distancing," to wear masks, to wash our hands continuously, to not touch our faces, and most of all to #Staythefuckhome. Most do. Some, including notorious ignorami, assorted MAGATs, and fundamentalist preachers whose addiction to positive cash flow depends on filling their megachurches, do not. These people should be treated as if they want you dead, judging from their actions, they do.

On a warm spring day last weekend they could be found packing cars going God-knows-where, on sidewalks with kids in tow, even going house-to-house to talk to neighbors! Amidst all the people on their bikes taking advantage of a sweet spring day to go out and provide disease vectors for the unsuspecting, I noted that a friend posted on Facebook that the parking lots down at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront  were absolutely packed. Leaving the cynical person to wonder, "what the hell is wrong with people?" 

We are linear thinkers; we do not do the exponential function very well. (Part of the reason Einstein, when asked to identify the most powerful force he had seen in a lifetime of discovery, replied, “Compound interest.")

The very next day, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order for Virginia in an effort to further stop the spread of the coronavirus. Better late than never. 

Being first to lock the state down seems to have worked for California. I saw a clip by Gavin Newsom on TV saying as much, that the lockdown flattened the impact. He/they just had the good sense to employ the only weapon available. California bought themselves time, and kept the outbreak from swamping their health system. The less the infection penetrates the population in advance of a vaccine, the better.

My inner hunchback is waiting for karma to arrive in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and the other states that insist on staying "open for bidness" in the face of the trump Plague. I wish I were a better person. I am not.

In a recent book review, Charles Baxter observes, 

Mania rules in many American classics. Like it or not, in what has been taken to be our national literature, the notable white male characters are often in the grip of obsession. From Captain Ahab, to Frank Norris’s McTeague, Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, Faulkner’s Thomas Sutpen, Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, Philip Roth’s Portnoy, and James McBride’s John Brown, we are in the presence of men who want only one thing and have sold their souls to get it.

We are all maniacs now: maniacs to stay alive, to remain beyond the reach of a silent killer with near universal reach, and whose lethality will disproportionately affect the elderly and the infirm. And while we may not sell our souls, we have certainly turned our vigilance up to "10."


Samuel Pepys (pronounced: "Peeps"), a capable administrator of British naval affairs and Member of Parliament in the seventeenth century, kept a diary as a young man. He recorded his daily life for almost ten years, and his record is often regarded as Britain’s most celebrated diary.

Historians have for years been mining Pepys' insights about details of everyday life during the seventeenth century, as he documented the coronation of King Charles II and the Restoration, the Anglo-Dutch war, the Great Plague, and the Great Fire of London.  It is his descriptions of the London plague years of 1655-66 that we care about here.

The Great Plague of London killed between 75,000-100,000, roughly 20 per cent of the population. Pepys' diary is filled wth what might today be called, "hot takes:"

On hearing ill rumour that Londoners may soon be urged into their lodgings by Her Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, and no doubt spreading the plague well about. Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders!

As noted above, on a clear weekend day I noted cars filled with people leaving the neighborhood… going where, exactly?  And beheld the sight of a neighbor working out on another neighbor who had the good sense to hide behind a storm door while the sputum-deliverer held forth. I swear, had he crossed the street I'd have used a rake to oblige him to keep his distance.

Great fears of the Sickenesses here in the City, it being said that two or three houses are already shut up. God preserve us all.

We are all shut up in our houses now. Aside, that is, from a few states in the south and west who wish themselves part of the Neo-confederacy. Persuading an entire country to voluntarily stay at home is not easy, and without clear direction from an unwilling White House, mayors, governors, and business owners have rolled their own.

Thus this month ends, with great sadness upon the public through the greateness of the plague, everywhere through the Kingdom almost. Every day sadder and sadder news of its increase. In the City died this week 7496; and all of them, 6102 of the plague. But it is feared that the true number of the dead this week is near 10000 – partly from the poor that cannot be taken notice of through the greatness of the number, and partly from the Quakers and others that will not have any bell ring for them.
As to myself, I am very well; only, in fear of the plague, and as much of an Ague, by being forced to go early and late to Woolwich, and my family to lie there continually.

The death toll in the US as of this writing is over 9100. The number of US confirmed cases is over 321,000. Look for these rates to double every three days until the disease peaks. Soon, most everyone in the US will know someone who has been infected. Like 9/11, the pandemic has already imprinted itself upon our psyche as a defining moment.

The pandemic has shattered the myth of American "greatness." As the first among equals of rich, strong, developed nations, the supremacy of American health care is held as an article of faith. That illusion has been shattered. In spite of months of advance warning as the virus tore through other countries, when America was finally tested by COVID-19, it failed.

Countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong followed the playbook: develop a test, use it to identify the infected, isolate them, and trace those they’ve had contact with. Wash, rinse, repeat. As Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer reported, the CDC developed and distributed a faulty test in February. No one could have imagined that as the American caseload shot into the tens of thousands, only hundreds of people would be tested. This created an epidemiological hole from which we have never emerged. Lack of a reliable test deployed early enough is the single point of failure that undermined every other countermeasure, and that has led to the immutable, exponential math.

Bet your mortgage that the impacts on economic, social and political aspects of our lives from coronavirus will be long lasting. And   compounded, given the chaos, corruption, and cronyism that heralded our blundered entry into this crisis. Few have ever seen anything like this, and only a few cranks and miscreants (aside from professional planners) have even bothered to contemplate it.

The London plague continued into 1666.

Thanks be to God, the plague is, as I hear, encreased but two this week; but in the country in several places it rages mightily, and particularly in Colchester, where it hath long been, and is believed will quite depopulate the place.

Italy and Spain offer grim warnings about an American future. Hospitals are rapidly running out of room, supplies, and staff. Health-care workers are already seeing dwindling equipment, growing waves of patients, with doctors and nurses themselves becoming ill. And they are operating without a gaunt, shiny-faced, porcelain-doll wannabe-Dauphin to bollix up supplies of medical equipment, and to MBAsplain coronavirus to the nation's Governors. Trump and Bolton terminated the Pandemic staff and have given the portfolio to Richie Rich for on-the-job training. God help us all.

By 1667 Pepys' plague had burnt out, but still lived in recent memory:

One at the table told an odd passage in this late plague: that at Petersfield, I think, he said, one side of the street had every house almost infected through the town, and the other, not one shut up.

During a time of "social distancing," we are reduced to staring off the porch or out the window. Like the denizens of Plato's cave, we watch the electronic shadows dance off the wall, while we attempt to make sense of them. Even more difficult is imagining how we might begin to recover from a virtual shutdown of economic life. As we try to restart an all-but-stopped economy dependent upon an engine of ceaseless consumption, we run the risk of renewed disease flareups as seen in China, Singapore, and other Asian countries that briefly seemed to have the virus under control. All it takes is one case to reignite fresh infections.

My best guess is that until a vaccine can be produced (probably 18 months), we'll continue to play a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks as they occur.


The slow response to the virus by some Trumpophile governors will be telling. Virus hot spots in are South poised for disproportionate suffering. With many Southern states only recently implementing stay-at-home orders, there is a chance that a later wave of infection could swamp local facilities. Even sparsely populated counties could soon have more cases than their health care systems can handle. 

“There is no city anywhere in the world that can withstand the outbreak that would occur if there isn’t rigorous social distancing,” said Tom Frieden, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.

In Virginia, the governor is both a Democrat and a physician, so he imposed social distancing earlier than some. But some children of privilege and exception haven't taken it seriously.

The Columbia University model also identified the area around Hampton Roads and Newport News, Va., at risk of having its health infrastructure swamped. Though the number of cases in those counties is currently low, Virginia is not expected to experience peak conditions until late May, and has so far received just a tiny fraction of the medical equipment requested from the federal government.

On Friday, state leaders confirmed that the tidewater region has some of the highest community spread in the state, and that it would be one of three areas designated for a field hospital to take pressure off the local medical system. The “alternate care” site in the Hampton Roads Convention Center will be able to hold up to 360 acute care beds or 580 non-acute beds, Gov. Ralph Northam said.


This Week in Doom:

Like the pandemic itself, the economic effects are just getting started. Strap in. Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman sees unemployment soaring to 20% in a matter of weeks.

WE'RE NUMBER ONE!  The US just recorded the highest single-day death toll in the world

Just when you thought it might be safe to peek out off your bunker… this asshole, again. Robertson Blames Coronavirus On Oral Sex, ‘Lady Chemicals’

Amid reports that the federal stockpile of medical supplies is “nearly exhausted” and production of new equipment is unlikely to come soon enough, it now appears that the Trump administration may be playing favorites, distributing supplies to political allies and states important for the president’s reelection campaign. How bad will the fallout be? Frank Rich: Trump’s Potemkin Recovery

Karma Comes to Cousinfuck Country. Mississippi Now Has the Highest Rate of Coronavirus Hospitalizations in the United States

Are there no lampposts? No nylon rope? New disclosure reveals Sen. Kelly Loeffler and her husband dumped retail stock and bought shares in a company that manufacturers medical supplies. Loeffler and her husband dumped hundreds of thousands in stocks before the market dropped over the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump's budget director stands by plan to cut CDC budget by 15 percent during the coronavirus pandemic  The acting director of the OMB seemed unperturbed when asked about if it was wise to cut the CDC during a pandemic.

Karma, your table is ready. Liberty University Brings Back Its Students, and Coronavirus Fears, Too

Americans are doing what they do best: buying guns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For unbiased information, Just found this. No interpretations, no politics. Just data, visualized: https://covid19.healthdata.org

Stay informed and protect your own. 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

A Pox Upon Us


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 22, 2020

“Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves” 
― Albert Camus, The Plague 


During the incursions of the Black Death, the bubonic plague that attacked Europe in waves during the 14th and 16th centuries, the rich have always taken pains to insure that sickness remains the province of the poor. Some things never change.

Plague doctors wore a beaked mask and carried a stick. During the 16th century, French royal physician Charles de Lorme is credited with having invented the bird-beak plague mask. The long, beaked mask was typically filled with sweet or strong-smelling herbs, such as wormwood, the main ingredient in absinthe, which were believed to filter out miasma, or bad air, thought at the time to spread plague.

 As Jezebel reminds us, Rich People Have Always Been Assholes During Plagues​. In the 14th century Black Death, which wiped out somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of Europe’s population, those who could afford were told “cito, longe, tarde:”  “flee soon, go far, come back late.” As servants were left behind to clean the houses of an absent aristocracy, the swells and grandees got the hell out of town. Reports abound of those left in cities screaming while being enclosed alive in body bags bound for the plague pits.

The 21st century version of retreating to one’s Italian villa seems to be barricading oneself in a Hamptons mansion. The new court physician is the concierge doctor, and the new plague mask is the high-end, sold-out Urban Air Mask 2.0, miasma-blocking herbs replaced by “cutting-edge filter technology with timeless Scandinavian design,” the company’s website reads Gwenyth Paltrow recently posted a selfie wearing the $65 modern-day plague mask en route to Paris, though doctors say they’re likely ineffective, as the masks are intended to prevent sick people from spreading coronavirus, not protect well people from catching it.

Our own rich are following the advice to flee and stay away, hiring private planes to avoid the miasma emanating from those who fly coach. The Rich Are Scrambling To Escape COVID-19 On Private Jets. And money is often no object.

The most wealthy among us are trying to get around flight bans with private jet flights as they are desperate to get into or home from Caribbean countries, many of which have partial or full international travel bans. .. These countries are home to many affluent expatriates. The money some of them spend on private jet flights is staggering. One round trip to Europe in a Gulfstream 550 jet from the United States with five passengers can easily cost the client six figures.

With the world being crippled in many ways by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ultra-wealthy still have places to be and airline options are not only becoming restrictive, they are dwindling. Rumors currently abound of private jet pilots, both from charter operations and private flight departments, being offered large bonuses to get into and out of Caribbean resort countries undetected and bypassing customs and port of entry requirements.

Yes, I know you have your so-called "rules," but this is ME we're talking about. And I'll pay you handsomely.

And you might wonder: Why are the rich and famous getting coronavirus tests while we aren't? It occurs to a couch-surfing peasant to wonder how elite athletes on NBA teams, rich actors and well-connected swells can get tested, when first responders and many presenting with obvious symptoms have been turned away.

Just kidding.

While the evasions and lubrications by the rich may stink as much as the flesh of rotting buboes, we'll need a plague mask to mask the stench of corruption emanating from Washington, DC this week.


Virus Vultures

On Thursday, Senators faced a massive scandal after multiple members revealed in public filings that they had sold large stock holdings after private briefings on the coronavirus outbreak.  Senator Richard Burr Sold a Fortune in Stocks as G.O.P. Played Down Coronavirus Threat to the mere public. And Sen. Kelly Loeffler, she of the half-billion dollar net worth (the richest member of Congress), sold off seven figures worth of stock holdings  after the same, private, all-senators meeting as Burr. Then, she bought stock in a telework software company. Later, as March unfolded, fear of the virus hammered U.S. equities for its largest loss in decades.

After they were briefed that the coronavirus crisis would be far worse than was publicly known, they dumped their personal stock market holdings while publicly insisting that things would be fine. Even while privately telling wealthyt constituents that it was going to be ugly.  From the Times:

Senator Richard M. Burr sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in major companies last month, as President Trump and others in his party were still playing down the threat presented by the coronavirus outbreak and before the stock market’s precipitous plunge.

The stocks were sold in mid-February, days after Mr. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, wrote an opinion article for Fox News suggesting that the United States was “better prepared than ever before” to confront the virus. At least three other senators sold major stock holdings around the same time, disclosure records show.

No less a noted socialist than Fox News host Tucker Carlson, called for Burr’s resignation.

“He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn’t lose money, and then he stayed silent,” Mr. Carlson said during his show on Thursday night. “Maybe there is an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”

Three other senators also sold major holdings around the same time.

It makes perfect sense to believe, does it not, that the richest single member of Congress, a former investment banker CEO worth $500M and married to the NY stock exchange president, a Senator with inside knowledge and ability to manipulate markets,  has no idea what her portfolio is doing. 

These moves place Burr and Loeffler in direct violation of the STOCK Act of 2012, which specifically made it illegal for members of Congress to trade equities based on any secret information received as part of their jobs.

For their parts, Burr and Loeffler have asked for Ethics Committee investigations to, wait for it, "clear their names." Which, since the secretive committee meets behind closed doors, means waiting until the shitmist from the scandal settles and it's time to start pounding the phones to raise money for re-election.

No idea at all. Baseless attack.

The Times article continues:

In a series of posts on Twitter, Mr. Burr accused NPR of twisting his comments into a “tabloid-style hit piece.” He argued that the report made him look duplicitous for sharing information at a publicly advertised event that was consistent with the message members of the Trump administration were then trying to promulgate. He did not address his stock sales.

Of course he didn't.


You Can't Have One.

This is the above-referenced selfie of Gwyneth Paltrow, actress-cum-celebrity goopifier, who has built a second career positing that illness can be prevented by cold baths, energy healing and making better lifestyle choices, wearing a ventilator. And not just any ventilator. From the looks of it, an Airnum in Onyx Black. And don't ask, peasant: sold out.

Remember that we pissed away two months of lead time because Trump didn't want "the numbers" to harsh the stock market and thus his re-election chances. For months, Trump has his band of grifters and right wing media enablers have said that it was nothing to worry about, and they had it contained.

Pete Hegseth said “the more I learn about this, the less there is to worry about.” Jeanine Pirro asserted that mainstream-media coverage “doesn’t reflect reality.”  Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham accused the non-cult press as “panic pushers” stirring up “mass hysteria.” And Trish Regan at Fox Business accused the “liberal media” of using the coronavirus “to impeach the president. That last outburst was apparently bad enough to rouse Rupert Murdoch from his crypt to take her off the air.

What a difference a few days, and a few thousand active coronavirus cases in the U.S., can make. Both Trump and FNC have changed their tune regarding the significance of the virus. And Trump, prevented from staging his Nuremberg rallies to bathe in the adulation of his cult, has taken his act of vindictiveness, press attacks, and racism to the White House briefing room. It is a failing of the corporate media that they continue to live broadcast these exercises in propaganda. During a pandemic, disinformation costs lives.

 It’s certainly true that health workers and those who have already contracted the virus should be getting masks before celebrities, considering we’re entering into global mask shortage that will make it even more difficult to contain a rapidly spreading public health crisis.

But Paltrow isn’t modeling a mask out of deep concern for public health; she’s posting because she’s beginning to panic. Covid-19 definitely isn’t the end times, but it’s a useful indication of what end times might look like: All our favorite celebrities, like the rest of the idle rich, tossing away their public postures and scrambling to spend as much money as necessary to make sure that they stay safe.


Latebreaking News:

Coronavirus updates: Angela Merkel quarantined, Rand Paul tests positive, Ohio on lockdown

Germany is banning gatherings of 2 or more people to slow coronavirus outbreak

US states report price gouging

A top New York surgeon warns that the coronavirus has 'breached' hospital walls and infections could peak in 22 to 32 days

Italy Tightens Quarantine as It Battles World’s Deadliest Coronavirus Outbreak

In strategic shift, doctors in America's two largest cities are told to skip some coronavirus testing​.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Happiness and “The American Dream”


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Illustration by Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 9, 2020

“It’s not primarily a measure of whether one laughed or smiled yesterday, but how one feels about the course of one’s life." 

― Jeffrey Sachs, co-creator, World Happiness Survey


What is happiness? Like the judge who couldn't define porn but said he'd know itn when he saw it, most of us don't have a specific definition of happiness; we know it when we feel it, and often use the term to describe a range of positive emotions, including joy, pride, contentment, and gratitude. If someone asks you on a scale of one to ten how happy you are in six different areas, would you be able to accurately respond? That's what we're discussing this week. We're not talking about global temperature measurements, or oil exports, GNP, P&L, or anything that can be measured, mapped and plotted on a spreadsheet; we're talking about how people report satisfaction in their lives.

You wouldn't think a subject like "happiness" could be contentious. Happiness might seem an elusive concept to quantify, but there is a science to it backed by thousands of individual assessments and statistical analysis.


Last Tuesday, I published an article in the Doomstead Diner Daily: Finland's millennial prime minister said Nordic countries do a better job of embodying the American dream than the US. In the article, Sanna Marin, the 34-year-old prime minister of Finland, was quoted as saying her country and other Nordic nations were actually the best equipped to provide citizens with a chance to achieve "the American dream." This as recently told to The Washington Post on the sidelines of the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Sanna Marin

Sanna Marin

“I feel that the American Dream can be achieved best in the Nordic countries, where every child no matter their background or the background of their families can become anything, because we have a very good education system,” she said. “We have a good health-care and social welfare system that allows anybody to become anything. This is probably one of the reasons why Finland gets ranked the happiest country in the world.”

She is justifiably proud, as this is the second year in a row Finland has claimed the top spot in this UN survey, followed by Denmark, Norway and Iceland. These assertions caused as minor uproar in the Diner Forum. One respondent harrumphed, 

Doesn't know shit about the American dream.

Finland is a country with a population smaller than Greater Houston……..and……. a lot of recent immigrants……and…… a birth rate for native Finns that is falling through the floor.  Let's see how they look in 30 years.

Well, it's true that Finland doesn't have a military that consumes 58 percent of their national budget to defend the prerogatives of a crust of global profiteers, munitions-exporters and bloodsuckers. Let's see what WE look like in 30 years.

Mr. Carlin would like a word:

 

The mass of Americans are two-three paychecks away from an economic abyss, which may have something to do with the fact that in the same survey, since 2013 Americans have plummeted from 13th to 19th place. It would be convenient to lay this at the feet of Trump, because, as the study's authors note, "unhappier people seem to hold more populist and authoritarian attitudes." But it also corresponds with an increasing amount of time US adolescents spend interacting with electronic devices, contributing to increased anxiety and declines in happiness, as well as increasing rates of addiction (more on that below.) 

The report states that from 1946 to 1970, the U.S. was quite literally the world's model for happiness, with gross domestic product ranking climbed steadilyand a burgeoning American middle class.

Testifying to Congress in the Clinton years, which now seem as remote as medieval China, Fed Chair Alan Greenspan explained the success of the boom economy he gratefully took credit for as being based on “growing worker insecurity.” Thus was born "the precariat." In Greenspan's terms, insecure working people are unlikely to make demands. Cowed, compliant workers are good for business, good for investors. For happiness? Not so much.

 Noam Chomsky summarized:

… If working people are insecure, if they’re part of the precariat, living precarious existences, they’re not going to make demands, they’re not going to try to get better wages, they won’t get improved benefits. We can kick ’em out, if we don’t need ’em. And that’s what’s called a “healthy” economy, technically speaking. 

Not much of a recipe for happiness. Results of the World Happiness Report fly right in the face of the "Team America: Fuck Yeah" crowd because they put the lie to the myth of American exceptionalism.


The World Happiness Report 2019 is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It grades 156 countries in categories including generosity, social programs, freedom, corruption and income. The Report contains articles, and rankings of national happiness based on respondent's ratings of their own lives. 

The most commonly cited economic statistics — GDP, household income and unemployment — focus on work product economic output, and consumption: their output, what they spend, how much they make and whether they have a job. None of these metrics tell us anything about people's happiness.

The Report is a survey of the state of global happiness that ranks countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. This year’s World Happiness Report focuses on happiness and the community: how happiness has evolved over the past dozen years, with a focus on the technologies, social norms, conflicts and government policies that have driven those changes.

Gallup also collaborates on this report.  Why bother? Why is this report important? 

Leaders can no longer assume that the lives of those in their countries improve with a rise in GDP, as was shown in the Arab Uprising countries where GDP was increasing but the ratings of their lives trended downward ahead of the unrest.

Leaders need to follow much more traditional metrics to effectively track and lead the progress of their nation. The World Happiness Report is the first report to rank countries by how their populations feel.

Of course, if you are in charge of a country and you tendency runs towards the authoritarian, calling on your domestic, heavily armed freicorps to intimidate your domestic opponents, none of this will matter.


Let's not forget that this survey is reported out by the people themselves, not some external analysis.

The rankings are based on answers to the main life evaluation question asked in the poll. This is called the Cantril ladder: it asks respondents to think of a ladder, with the best possible life for them being a 10, and the worst possible life being a 0. They are then asked to rate their own current lives on that 0 to 10 scale.

The UN uses a sample size of 2,000 to 3,000 per country, and claim it is large enough to give a good estimate at the national level. The scores are instead based on individuals’ own assessments of their lives, and a reasponable person should assume people by the tens of thousands can report accurately about the happiness in their own lives. Jeffrey Sachs, co-creator of the World Happiness Report and a professor at Columbia University, writes 

The surge of interest in happiness and public policy owes much to the case of the United States. Professor Richard Easterlin (1974) famously noted 45 years ago that happiness in the US had remained unchanged from 1946 to 1970 despite the significant rise of GDP per person. This finding became known as the "Easterlin Paradox." It has continued to hold true until today. Indeed, the average life evaluation in the United States, as measured by the Cantril ladder, has declined during the past dozen years, from 7.2 in 2006 to 6.9 in 2018, despite ongoing U.S. economic growth.

As I noted in last year’s World Happiness Report (Sachs, 2018), the long-term rise in US income per person has been accompanied by several trends adverse to subjective well-being (SWB): worsening health conditions for much of the population; declining social trust; and declining confidence in government. Whatever benefits in SWB might have accrued as the result of rising incomes seem to have been offset by these adverse trends. This year, I propose a common driver of many of America’s social maladies: a mass-addiction society

This year's report provides sobering evidence of how addictions are causing considerable unhappiness and depression in the U.S…. Addictions come in many forms, from substance abuse to gambling to digital media. The compulsive pursuit of substance abuse and addictive behaviors is causing severe unhappiness. Government, business, and communities should use these indicators to set new policies aimed at overcoming these sources of unhappiness.

There is more, much more to this report, and the curious should follow the links below to explore the report and its methodology, the full analysis of which will require a far better statistician than me.

 But it is important to remember that, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."


References:

https://www.businessinsider.com/sanna-marin-finland-nordic-model-does-american-dream-better-wapo-2020-2

https://www.businessinsider.com/finland-tops-worlds-happiest-countries-list-again-un-report-2019-3

https://www.gallup.com/analytics/247355/gallup-world-happiness-report.aspx

https://worldhappiness.report/faq/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Week the World Changed: Feb. 2, 2020


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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by Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 2, 2020

“Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true.”

 ― Julius Caesar  


Certain weeks in history resonate with a significance not always understood at the time, but made clearer as the days pass into months, years, and into history. The week of October 14,1066 the Battle of Hastings was fought, leading to the Norman conquest of England and the end of Anglo-Saxon rule. During the week of April 12,1861, Pierre Beauregard ordered the shelling of Fort Sumter, and with that act of sedition the beginning of America's Civil War.  The week of June 28, 1914 a Bosnian separatist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the presumptive Hapsburg heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and touched off a series of events that led to the first World War. One could make a case that the past week may join them in the ranks of infamy: the US Senate, for all intents and purposes, elevated a king; Great Britain left the European Union; and the Wuhan coronavirus, an agent of uncertain communicability but established lethality, was making its way across the globe via air routes. 

After his return to Rome and settling the resultant civil war, Julius Caesar, noting the ranks of the Roman Senate had been depleted, appointed many new senators, partisans all. In this way did Caesar grease the skids for the exercise of unlimited power, to be checked only by one of history's most famous assassinations.The Senate had elevated Julius Caesar to "dictator in perpetuity" among the various titles and honors the Senate bestowed upon him, one month before his assassination in February, 44 BC.

This week we witnessed another wholly co-opted legislative body render itself impotent and hold another executive beyond the reach of law and accountability, as it decided to not entertain witnesses at Trump's impeachment trial. WaPo reports the Senate set to acquit Trump next week after bid for witnesses is defeated. Retiring 79-year old Lamar Alexander gave the game away when he folded his chin-stroking concerns. Lisa Murkowski did likewise. All 47 Democrats and two Republicans, Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, vote in favor of hearing witnesses in an impressive display of party loyalty.

Alexander thus explained himself:

I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution's high bar for an impeachable offense. There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a "mountain of overwhelming evidence."

But so what? Just to make sure you didn't miss it: Alexander (and the other Senate Rs) hold that bribery, extortion and misappropriating Congressionally allocated funds for foreign aid is A-OK. Likewise foreign interference in Presidential elections: the door is wide open. Alexander acknowledged the illegality of Trump’s actions while also concluding that those actions don't meet the standard for removal. He said there was no need to call witnesses, because the Democrats had already proved the facts of their case against Trump. It just wasn't impeachment-worthy.

One wonders what would be. It is clear, as The Guardian observed, Even a smoking gun would not be enough. House lawyers like Alan Dershowitz argued that if the President thinks that his actions are in the national interest, he can get away with anything that crosses his mind. Thus the unitary executive dream of Richard Nixon is realized: "If the President does it, it can't be illegal." The Trump team has out-brazened Nixon in withholding evidence, ignoring subpoenas, alternately bribing and intimidating jurors, and extending "executive privilege" well past all previous limits. And the Senate has effectively signed off on this, placing Trump beyond accountability or consequence.

One recognizes that A Trial Without Witnesses Is No Trial at All. Senate Republicans were quite clear that no amount of evidence was going to oblige them to remove an active felon from office, because judges, abortion, Israel, and most importantly, that sweet, sweet boodle flowing in from billionaire bunkers, Las Vegas casinos and St. Petersburg banks, all of it flowing over the body politic like a steady, soothing stream of warm urine.

In the New Yorker, Susan Glasser put the Senate out of its misery with a fine article, The Senate Can Stop Pretending Now.

Alexander’s late-night statement was no real surprise. The “closest friend” to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—as McConnell made sure to point out to the Times, earlier this week—Alexander ended up where most Senate Republicans were always expected to end up. He criticized Trump but refused to vote to remove him from office. After making that decision, Alexander went a step further and said that there was no real need to hear any of the evidence that Trump has so far successfully ordered his Administration not to provide. Even the last-minute revelation, on Sunday night, in the Times, of Bolton’s unpublished manuscript, could not sway Alexander; he knew enough.

When your mind is made up, who needs additional evidence? One marvels at the way that fear of Trump has knuckled these solons. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy noted on TV that there appeared to be two impeachment trials: for Democrats, one about Trump's crimes; and for Republicans, one about the malfeasances of the "deep state" and the "fake news media." Apparently "laws" only account when Repugs can use them as weapons on Dems. And while on the subject of "laws," let's not forget that Rand Paul, that human pustule with a bad toupee, tried to work the alleged whistle-blower’s name into a question on the Senate floor. John Roberts woke from his otherwise deep sleep to have none of that. So Paul took to a press conference and to Twitter to reveal the whistleblower's supposed identity. That used to be a crime.

And Charlie Pierce, in Lamar Alexander Has Ushered in the Age of Fearful Men, gets it exact:

Late Thursday night, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, pretty much sank the effort to have witnesses testify in the impeachment trial of the president, and Alexander did so in a statement that is going to go down in the annals of unmitigated weaselspeak…  

Alexander is being a poltroon on so many different levels here. In addition to arguing that a guilty president* is guilty but should go unpunished, Alexander is claiming that the solution to a ratfcked election is to hope the next one isn’t ratfcked. Good Christ, what a waste of a handsome piece of office furniture in the Senate chamber this man has turned out to be.

As your government slips away as surely as a cabal murdered Caesar, keep in mind thst Trump and his minions have orchestrated a limited TV series for a remarkably uninformed audience: According to the Annenberg Civics Knowledge Survey, 1 in 5 Americans can’t name single branch of U.S. government. Other findings:

  • In 2019, 2 in 5 Americans (39%) were able to name all three branches of government.
  • More than half of Americans (55%) correctly said it’s inaccurate to state that people who are in the U.S. illegally do not have any rights under the Constitution. In other words, that people who are in the U.S. illegally do have some rights under the Constitution.
  • More than a third of those surveyed (37 percent) cannot name any of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

When my daughter was in high school, I was astonished to learn that she had NOT had a civics class. Apparently some of what we used to learn in civics is covered in "US History," and we all know how well history classes were taught. By high school football coaches reading from an open textbook. So a majority of people taking their place as adults have no idea how the government is supposed to work. And they vote. Enjoy your republic.


In Brexit news, The UK has now left the European Union, after 47 years inside the bloc. The Prime minister, a lower-octane Trump, rang the gong celebrating his own success and pledged to make no concessions to the EU in negotiating necessary trade deals as he salutes ‘a turning point in the life of our nation.’ And on Brexit day one: Johnson went for broke with hardline trade deal.

No sooner had the union jacks been lowered in Brussels and Strasbourg, after 47 years of tortured British membership, than Boris Johnson was preparing to launch the UK into yet another uncompromising battle with the remaining 27 nations of the European Union.

As he hit the gong with glee, he was just flexing his muscles for more combat with the UK’s now ex-partners. There now begins an 11-month transition period during which the prime minister and his government will face the herculean task of securing a future trading and security relationship with the EU. If there is no deal by 31 December, the UK will face a cliff-edge descent into the economic unknown.

Here is a summary of the yesterday’s events: 



You might be surprised to learn that, as the Wuhan coronavirus has claimed more than 300 people in China, and several Chinese cities, including Wuhan, are under lockdown and quarantine, China has erected a hospital in Wuhan to deal with the emergency in nine days. Cases have popped up all over the world via air travelers from China.Meanwhile, here at home, the United States has never been less prepared for a pandemic. Laurie Garrett in Foreign Policy reported that Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response—not just for the public but for the government itself, which largely finds itself in the dark.

In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed confusion. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is.

In a cost-cutting fury in spring of 2018, The Trump administration, reduced $15 billion in national health spending, slashed staffing and the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. The sort of wasteful expense that gets in the way of tax cuts for the rich.

In 2017 and 2018, the philanthropist billionaire Bill Gates met repeatedly with Bolton and his predecessor, H.R. McMaster, warning that ongoing cuts to the global health disease infrastructure would render the United States vulnerable to, as he put it, the “significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.” And an independent, bipartisan panel formed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies concluded that lack of preparedness was so acute in the Trump administration that the “United States must either pay now and gain protection and security or wait for the next epidemic and pay a much greater price in human and economic costs.”

The Trump administration has appointed a 12-member "blue-ribbon" commission led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the former pharmaceutical lobbyist and pharma CEO. No idea how this task force will function or when it will even meet. This ad hoc group[ is supposed to fulfill the function of lashing together the efforts of a number of different organizations and management layers. 

Bess Levin reported in Vanity Fair that from the guy who brought you attacking another country as “after-dinner entertainment” and furloughed government employees unable to afford food should “take out a loan,” comes this:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak in China will help “accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

“Well, first of all, every American’s heart has to go out to the victims of the coronavirus. So I don’t want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease. But the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain,” Ross said during an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo….

The virus has killed more than 100 people and sickened thousands, and while the cases are mostly concentrated in China, it has been detected in more than a dozen other countries, including the U.S.

Happy days are here again. So we've got that going for us.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Week in Doom January 26

 

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Photo Illustration by Alicia Tatone

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 26, 2020

"People who claim guns make America safer are currently threatening violence and are openly threatening to use their guns to kill Americans they disagree with and shoot down the democratically elected government. This rally is a perfect example of why these murderous fanatics shouldn't be allowed to have guns, ever, or carry them anywhere near the rest of us." –Jim Wright


The most important doom-related story from my perspective this week was the so-called "gun rally" in Richmond, Virginia on Monday.  Richmond had not seen so many armed men downtown since it fell to Grant in 1865.

Since my daughter lives and works in Richmond, and reported meeting some of the attendees out on the town on Sunday night, I took a more than casual interest in the proceedings. The response of many Richmond natives to the arrival of heavily-armed mob was to close their downtown businesses, including the entirety of Virginia Commonwealth University, which suspended all activities for the day, including internships and clinical placements; a university statement made clear that this was in response to the threat, not the federal holiday. NBC reported that some residents of a historically black neighborhood left town entirely for the day—which was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So much for their rights.

And the grievance? After decades of a 20-year Republican choke hold, the Virginia state legislature reverted to Democrat control in the wake of Novembers' elections and were planning to enact common sense gun legislation. Thus the “tyrants” who had earned the rally-goers' opprobrium  had been democratically elected.

One of the major issues that propelled Democrats to victory was the promise of gun-control legislation, particularly after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach left 12 city residents dead and four others wounded in May 2019. For all their loud objection to “tyranny,” the purpose of the armed crowd was to thwart the will of an electorate that had outvoted them. Virginians’ overall enthusiasm for gun control measures has not waned since last year’s election; a poll conducted in December revealed that Virginia voters strongly support requiring background checks on all gun sales, 86% to 13%, and passing a “red flag” law to remove guns from someone who may harm someone, 73% to 23%

Join me in another chorus of, "trying to overturn the results of an election."

Gun enthusiasts and their fellow-traveler race warriors had been planning for their so-called "boogaloo" for MLK Day. Fat Orange did his part by using his stubby fingers to get Uncle Fud to climb off his niece (or his nephew) and come to Richmond for the party.  Trump Times Scare-Mongering Tweet for Maximum Impact as White Supremacists Prep for Richmond Rally. Trump’s social-media eruption warned Virginians that their 2nd Amendment rights are “under attack,” and offered a sarcastic “thank you” to Virginia Democrats who will “take your guns away.”

Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump

Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!

169K

5:22 PM – Jan 17, 2020

Twitter Ads info and privacy

Earlier in the week prior to the demonstration, the FBI arrested six alleged members of a white-supremacist group on gun charges, in part out of concern that they planned to attend the Richmond rally and incite violence. 

In the runup to the event, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government far-right organization associated with the militia movement, purportedly published a message, a copy of which came into my hands. (The group describes itself as a non-partisan association of current and former military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath that all military and police take in order to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." They are immune to irony.) Some excerpts:

We need LEO [law-enforcement officers] and military veterans to volunteer to help us on the ground at the ARMED rally in the streets of Richmond, VA on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 (not in Gov. Northam’s absurd disarmed slave pen – out in the streets with the hardcore patriots who will NOT be disarmed).

You do NOT have to be an Oath Keepers member to help.  Just be a qualified and trained LEO or military veteran who can keep your head and is physically capable of defending others.  If you are in driving range of Richmond, VA, please come help…

Oath Keepers will NOT be entering Northam’s absurd slave pen, and we urge all other patriots to likewise refuse to disarm and go through metal detectors just to attend a “gun rights rally.”  A disarmed gun rights rally in VA is an absurdity and an abomination.  As Patrick Henry would say, “Forbid it almighty God!”  Tens of thousands of American patriots agree, and we will all be outside of Northam’s sheep pen/slave pen in the streets of Richmond, standing in defiance and protest…

Unfortunately, VCDL has chosen to ask that 10,000 gun owners disarm and go inside Northam’s sheep pen/slave pen, with the rest remaining armed out in the streets.  We disagree with this decision.  It sends entirely the wrong message.  It lets Northam and his fellow-traveler oath breaking domestic enemies of the Constitution in the VA legislature know that they CAN disarm at least some Virginians, because they already did on Jan 20, 2020. …

Defiance and refusal, not compliance and submission are the proper responses.  As the founders said, resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.

The communication goes on and on in this vein, at absurd length. The point being that any attempt at gun legislation is not only illegitimate but tantamount to fascism, and the only moral choice for patriots is an armed refusal to comply with the proposed laws of a duly-elected legislature. This sounds less like a "well-regulated militia"  than an armed insurrection looking for a command structure via email in the days before it assembles to muster.

So precisely what is the complaint of these heavily-strapped members of the Church of Perpetual Grievance? Was King Northam planning to confiscate their weapons and their hands?  What "tree of liberty" needed watering with the blood of tyrants?

Virginia gun laws have been notoriously lax. Under Republican control, Virginia lawmakers successfully made the commonwealth the place that illegal gun traffickers boasted was the absolute best place for them to do business. Virginia had a law on the books for 19 years limiting gun purchases to one a month, but — despite its success in helping to curtail the illicit gun trade and an appeal from Virginia Tech families — it was repealed in 2012. Efforts to restore the limit, as well as enact other common-sense measures with popular support, such as universal background checks, were killed by a General Assembly captive to the gun lobby. Many of the Dems who won election in November ran on passing common sense gun legislation.

Here are the Draconian measures advanced in the Virginia House of delegates this week:

  • Limiting handgun purchases to once a month
  • Universal background checks on gun purchases
  • Allowing localities to ban guns in public buildings, parks and other areas
  • A red flag bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

By any measure, these are pretty anodyne, common sense measures and are popular with upwards of 85 per cent of the electorate. The House did NOT take up an assault weapon ban. In an era when any gun rights legislation is styled as a "power grab" by the vigilantly paranoid, it becomes increasingly difficult to take their arguments seriously.


The good news is that no one died in Richmond. But not for lack of trying. Talia Lavin wrote That Pro-Gun Rally in Virginia Wasn’t Exactly “Peaceful,”  so let her describe the scene:

Fearing a repeat of the deadly violence that had gripped the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, three years earlier, governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and barred weapons from the Capitol grounds. Some 6,000 protesters grumblingly abided. But just outside the legions of police barricades, twice that number of people roamed the streets of Richmond bearing a bristling mass of rifles, from AR-15s to massive Barrett sniper rifles. Some wore skull masks; others waved Confederate flags. Members of hate groups like the League of the South and the American Guard, as well as the Proud Boys, mingled openly; some of the latter were wearing patches that said “RWDS”—an acronym for “Right-Wing Death Squad.” Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones gave a speech from a Terradyne battle tank. Adding to the bellicose mood, some attendees paraded with a massive guillotine as a prop, and others held up an effigy strung on a noose, emblazoned with the slogan, “Thus always to tyrants.”

Earlier the previous week, the FBI detained three members of neo-Nazi terror group The Base, who had planned to attend the Virginia rally, armed with a home-built, functioning fully-automatic rifle capable of firing several rounds at a time, survival gear, and 1,500 rounds of ammunition. They had planned to open fire into the crowd. The threat of violence in Richmond, coupled with the arrest of these neo-Nazis, sent other groups into hiding. Thus,

what abounded, in that armed and insurrectionist sea of humanity, was the promise that bloodshed might happen at any time, should the will of the mob be thwarted. America’s exceptional tolerance towards armed white gunmen—its brooking of gun-toting militias around the country, and the po-faced seriousness with which the media takes claims of “freedom” when it comes to the right to own weapons of mass slaughter—is entirely restricted to this demographic.

Imagine the response if 22,000 heavily armed black Americans descended on, say Atlanta? We've seen this movie before. When Black Panthers started showing up armed and en masse in California on the 1960s, then-Governor Ronald Reagan proposed gun control. 

Any attempt to assert that the presence of 22,000 heavily armed men is NOT an attempt to intimidate is simply laughable. What was it intended to be? A prayer meeting? No, it was a white supremacy cycle jerk and bro-fest. Mission accomplished. And the Democratic-controlled General Assembly disposed of the Republican gun bills the following day via legislative procedure. 


Open-carry cultists notwithstanding, it seems to me that openly brandishing a weapon on, say an early morning convenience store run is just sending a message of intimidation. Unless you are making a night bank deposit from a club, or live in a wilderness area with bears, there is little need to carry a weapon that enables you to injure or end a life on demand. I wrote about this several years ago when my wife went to a convenience store and encountered a male shopper strapped for his shopping occasion.  (The Open-Carry Cargo Cult)

Scaring the shit out of a middle-aged woman trying to buy cigarettes at eight on a Sunday morning is PRECISELY the point of open carry, in the same way as is the presence of 22,000 heavily armed people to protest gun control laws.

So then you start to wonder why; why the need to intimidate? Any amateur psychologist/Monday Morning quarterback can pull together the same half-dozen reasons as I. Refer to the article referenced below for at least one set of reasons: "I have nothing going in my life, few prospects, and less of a future– but I'm filled with rage and I can afford a knockoff AR-15 and a Halloween outfit."

Americans have the right to own guns. And no one– anywhere– is proposing otherwise. But ownership of a gun does not confer permission to intimidate others, overthrow the government whenever you please, or even win all the arguments. The Second Amendment is for defense of the Republic, NOT nullification of democracy. We've already had the "nullification" argument in this country, and the bad guys lost, decisively, first at Gettysburg, and later at Appomattox.

The Second Amendment also calls for "a well-regulated militia." The gathering in Richmond was not a "militia" so much as an armed mob, the purpose of which was to intimidate. What the armed mob either failed to understand or ignored was that if it weren't for their fanatical obsession with guns, their endless threats of violence and their attempts to intimidate, there would be little reason for the very laws they oppose.


“Shit-Life Syndrome,” Trump Voters, and Clueless Dems

Getting rid of Trump means taking seriously “shit-life syndrome”—and its resulting misery, which includes suicide, drug overdose death, and trauma for surviving communities.

Ohio is home to many shit-life syndrome sufferers. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton lost Ohio’s 18 electoral votes to Trump. She got clobbered by over 400,000 votes (more than 8%). She lost 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Trump won rural poorer counties, several by whopping margins. Trump got the shit-life syndrome vote.

Will Hutton in his 2018 Guardian piece, “The Bad News is We’re Dying Early in Britain – and It’s All Down to ‘Shit-Life Syndrome’” describes shit-life syndrome in both Britain and the United States: “Poor working-age Americans of all races are locked in a cycle of poverty and neglect, amid wider affluence. They are ill educated and ill trained. The jobs available are drudge work paying the minimum wage, with minimal or no job security.”

When you have little sense of agency in your life, one or several McJobs, and fewer prospects for improvement, walking around with your manhood strapped to your hip or slung over your shoulder, escapism from the realities of day to day life is appealing. For some it's comic books or video games; for others drugs and opiods; and for others, perhaps, guns.


Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight

“It is now 100 seconds to midnight.”  Such was the ominous headline Thursday from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists after moving its Doomsday Clock ahead 20 seconds.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists makes the decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made each year in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.

Areas cited by Rachel Bronson, this year's President & CEO,  include: how a retreat from arms control creates a dangerous nuclear reality, an insufficient response to an increasingly threatened climate, increased threat of information warfare and other disruptive technologies, and suggestions for how the world should respond.

"We move the Clock toward midnight because the means by which political leaders had previously managed these potentially civilization-ending dangers are themselves being dismantled or undermined, without a realistic effort to replace them with new or better management regimes. In effect, the international political infrastructure for controlling existential risk is degrading, leaving the world in a situation of high and rising threat."

Like the 15 year old Greta Thunberg who has become a punching bag for superannuated (and superprivileged) old men at Davos this week, I expect nothing.

But Fat Orange still expects his Nobel Peace Prize for not launching a reign of nuclear-tipped terror on Tehran.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

 

This Week in Doom January 3, 2020


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 3, 2020

Conrad Brean: "You watched the Gulf War, what do you see day after day? The one smart bomb falling down the chimney. The truth? I was in the building when we shot that shot – we shot in a studio, Falls Church, Virginia. One-tenth scale model of a building."
– Stanley Motss: '"Is that true?"
– Conrad Brean: "How the fuck do we know? You take my point?” 

 ― From Wag the Dog, 1997 film  


On Thursday night, Trump ordered the assassination of Major General Qassim Suleimani, a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, without any notification nor authorization from Congress, . The drone strike also killed four others outside Baghdad’s international airport. To attempt to put this in context, imagine China or North Korea assassinating the US Joint Chief of Staff outside the airport in Mexico City. Trump is pushing us to the brink of unnecessary war. When Trump entered office in 2016, he inherited one of the best chances in decades the US has had for peaceful relations with Iran. Three years later, with a cabinet full of ideologues and warmongers, he’s torn up a treaty and is now assassinating Iranian leaders.

To review the bidding: in the last few days, an Iranian-backed militia fired rockets at a base in Kirkuk Province, killing an American contractor and wounding several American servicemembers. The U.S. responded with air strikes that killed about two dozen militia members. Thousands of pro-militia protesters marched on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, trapping diplomats inside, vandalizing the compound, and burning part of it before dispersing. Trump promised Iran would “be held fully responsible” for the attack on the embassy, and made good on Friday.

The irony of an airstrike triggered in itself by another, different US airstrike is lost on everyone, especially in the corporate media. Trumpsuckers and other members of #TeamTreason will call this a defensive action, and will bleat the usual syllables. The idea that this strike will prevent future attacks on Americans and our interests around the world defies any recognizable logic.

If anything, our risk just went up manyfold. Pay attention to your corporate media in the coming days: Watch and listen how the same voices who sold the disastrous Iraq War will squat and squeeze out hot takes about how this was a "critical defensive action." It's such a defensive action that we are drop-shipping another 3500 soldiers to the Middle East: 3,500 additional U.S.. troops headed to Mideast as Iran threatens retaliation.

This is possible because Congress let it happen, because Congress has ceded authority over the military to the Executive Branch over several decades and administrations. Congress needs to reassert its constitutional authority, but is unlikely to do so any time soon..

With nothing more than an empty statement from the Pentagon and a tweet of an American flag, Trump is transparently and unequivocally Wagging the Dog and gambling with the safety of every Americans he pulls us to the brink of war with Iran. Now begins the speculation as to why. For a clue, consider Fat Orange's own body of work:


The strike was a reckless move by Trump — no one is remotely prepared for this kind of escalation with Iran. Fat Orange has unilaterally taken action that will result in war, almost certainly to distract from being impeached. Now Cadet Bone Spurs will anoint himself a "wartime president™." How long before he wears a field marshal's uniform?

As predicted, IN SO MANY WORDS, on the Doomstead Diner blog and forum: The Year in Doom 2019and on GEI, where John Lounsbury had the good sense to break it into two parts: The Great Culling: They Don't Give a Flying Fuck About You

I am among those who think that launching a gratuitous, meat-grinder war in spring of 2020 to self-anoint as a "wartime president™" is completely within Fat Orange's capability. It may already be part of his campaign plan, given the sheer evil of his administration ands the need to change the subject from impeachment.

For me here is the money shot:

If The Donald gets us into a big shooting war over in the Middle East or in the South China Sea, the mandatory servitude of conscription will be required. It won’t be a turkey shoot like Iraq or Libya. It will be an existential threat, so all males —criminally inclined or not — between 16 and 45 will be inducted, same as they were after FDR tricked the Japanese into invading Pearl Harbor, or Johnson said the North Vietnamese attacked our warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

Who is going to rushing to enlist to fight a war for Iranian oil? Hard to imagine even a generation of red state deplorables tearing themselves away from game consoles and meth pipes to do that.


A brief historical discursion: most of us don't realize (because we weren't taught)  that the Roman Empire continued in force until 1453 via the Eastern Empire at Constantinople. It was the only organized state west of China to survive without interruption from ancient times until the beginning of the modern age. These people, who largely spoke Greek after the seventh century, called themselves "Romans" and called their realm "Romania." For them they were the Roman Empire.

Like most empires, its borders ebbed and flowed depending upon the competence of the emperors, the military, and blind luck. (Plague was always a wild card.)  In the 6th century, Justinian had recovered the west though Italy and North Africa, and east through Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean. Who stopped their expansion eastward? The Persians. 

Likewise, in the 8th century, Islam spread like a wildfire thought the Middle East and Africa. This gave rise to the creation of the caliphates, occupying a vast geographical area. The Ummayads were based in Syria and Damascus was their capital. Know who put the end to their rule in the eighth century? The Persians.

Anyone who thinks that Iran is going to do an "el foldo" like Saddam Hussein did in Iraq is sadly mistaken. Unlike Iraq, which was cobbled together via the Balfour declaration and held together by Saddam's brutality, Iran has a long, continuous history as a people and are not going to be exterminated quietly. Since Iran is surrounded by American bases, the outcome will never be much in doubt, but the costs will be extreme and the fighting scorched earth. Victory will be had, at the cost of your last grandson or granddaughter, so there is little doubt that Uncle Cracker will be looking for fresh meat.

I for one will be delighted to see Donzo Jr, Eric, Jared, Ivanka and Tiffany all leading the assault from the front lines. Let's also recruit the failsons of the One Percent to help lead the charge..


Michael Moore posted this on Facebook:

Hello fellow Americans. Do you know this man? Did you know he was your enemy? What? Never heard of him? By the end of today you will be trained to hate him. You will be glad Trump had him assassinated. You will do as you are told. Sit! Fetch! Jump! Get ready to die on your plane ride back home from the holidays. Get ready to send your sons and daughters to die in a new war. War makes the rich richer. War is good. War is a necessary distraction. War is peace. Trump is our Commander! Happy New Decade. It won’t be long now. Shhhh…sleep…there was no collusion…it was a perfect call…I just shot a man on 5th Avenue just because I can…I’m sorry, but due to this national emergency we’ve had to postpone the election…


As of Friday morning, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, promised “a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands.” What form that takes is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, reports say Iraq descends into chaos. It is possible Iraq could ask the U.S. to withdraw its forces. That would be a setback for both the Trump administration’s effort to pressure Iran militarily, and the continuing effort to contain ISIS. Oh yeah, them. As of right now, given the Trump "administration's" contempt for traditional diplomacy,  no one can predict the broader consequences of a profound escalation in U.S.-Iranian hostilities.



banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Year in Doom 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on December 29, 2019

"Violence is as American as cherry pie."  –H. Rap Brown​  


2019 has been a year of notable accomplishments and disasters: China became the first country to gain access to the far side of the moon, thus announcing itself in the space race, the Ebola epidemic continued in the Congo, birds and insects continue to die at alarming rates, upsetting natural ecosystems everywhere, drought continued in southern Africa and, more recently, Australia, in combination with ruinous bush fires. California continue to burn during the autumn months.

War continued in Yemen, with millions on the brink of famine and starvation. Protests swept the world, from Haiti to Hong Kong, also making appearances in Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia. (It seems some folks don’t like neocolonialism as much as the west does.) Migrants continue to flee from the Middle East and Africa, and Central America, to places with more hospitable climate and arable soil; Nationalists shrieked in horror, rushed to build walls and whip up furor against potential newcomers. Brazil’s Boisonaro continued to burn the Amazon rainforest; people around the world wringing their hands. United States declared a trade war with China, beginning with the US charging Huawei with fraud. Suicide attacks sparked Indian conflict with Pakistan, which seems like a headline which could be reported every year. India made bold to enact new nationality laws which would exclude Muslims. Terror attacks continued, As a white nationalist killed 50 in New Zealand in March. The first image of a black hole was created. California had earthquakes. Trump shut the government down in January and reopened it several weeks later.

A man killed 22 people In a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso. Enthusiast planned a “raid“ on area 51, which started as a joke but later went viral. It fizzled. Julian Assange was arrested in the UK and held for extradition. Fire broke out at Notre Dame cathedral, A comedian was elected president of Ukraine, and would find that his dealings with United States were anything but funny, and Trump met with Kim Jong-Un after they “fell in love.“ Kim Jong-Un later met with Vladimir Putin, sending a message that he was not prepared to go steady. The US attempted to foment a coup in Venezuela against President Nicolas Maduro, but failed, but managed to foment one in Bolivia to oust Evo Morales, and succeeded. Narendra Modi won a landslide victory in the Indian general election. Theresa May resigned, unable to wrangle Brexit, but Boris Johnson succeeded her, and won an election with enough of a mandate to put Brexit on a path to becoming reality.

Robert Mueller testified, and was a snooze, but Fiona Hill testified and was riveting.  Millions thought Mueller was going to emerge from his prosecutor's office and slap a pair of cuffs on Trump, but forgot that he reports to Bill Barr, Trumps Roy Cohn, and the most corrupt Attorney General of a lifetime, and this includes John Mitchell. Perhaps the biggest political news was a shifting power dynamic in Washington DC, as the consequences of the 2018 elections came to bear in the house brought articles of impeachment against Fat Orange, and at years end they sat on the edge of Nancy Pelosi‘s desk, awaiting Mitch McConnell‘s next move. Trump‘s approval fell to 39% during January‘s partial government shut down, and support for impeachment and removal rose to 55% at years end.

Just to review the bidding, ​One person compiled a list of 100 impeachable offenses by Trump. Here are the top 50.

The ordeal of Trump and his impeachment has been dealt with to death by other sailors with better maps. So this Year end review will not deal in depth with the many depravities of the Trump Crime Family, or with the cottage industry of racists, opportunists buffoons, failkids and grifters who have seen their profiles undeservedly elevated as a result of the Trump presidency: pardoned war criminal Edward Gallagher, Ben Shapiro, Matt Gaetz, Tucker Carlson, Charlie Kirk, Milo, Candace Owens, Stephanie Grisham, Jordan Peterson, Diamond and Silk,  Joseph-Goebbels-cosplayer Stephen Miller, Jim Jordan, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that chattering set of dentures Rudy Colludy, Meghan McCain, Scott Baio, and the entire extended Trump family.

There is plenty to consider apart from our politics as we lift our gaze from our black mirrors, blinded by normalcy bias and unable to imagine changing any of our carefully-calibrated plans to consider harbingers of doom and collapse. I have reviewed a year's worth of postings within the Doomstead Diner Forum and the Doomstead Diner Daily to compile the stories that marked our slow and steady descent. One thing is certain: no one will be able to say "they didn't know" as we spin down from a high-energy  post capitalist civilization to an uncertain, uncharted future where there will be less of everything for everyone.

William Kunstler, in a break from his usual obsequious Trumpsucking, paints the picture as well as anyone in, "There Is No Normal."

We landed in the New World five hundred years ago. It was full of good things that human beings had barely begun to exploit, laid out like a banquet. There was plenty of good virgin soil for growing food, the best timber in the world, clean rivers and great lakes, ores full of iron, gold, and silver, and down deep a bonanza of coal and oil to drive the wheel through very flush times. The past century was particularly supercharged, the oil years.

Imagine living through the very start of all that, the blinding, fantastic newness of modernity…An emergent cavalcade of wonders: electricity, telephones, railroads, subways, skyscrapers! And in a few more years movies, cars, airplanes, radio. Even the backstage wonders of the day were astonishments: household plumbing for all, running hot water, municipal water and sewer systems, refrigeration, tractors! It’s hard to conceive how much these developments changed the human experience of daily life.

Even the traumas of the 20th century’s world wars did not crush that sense of amazing progress, at least not in North America, spared the wars’ mighty wreckage. The post-war confidence of American society achieved a level of in-your-face laughable hubris — see the USA in your Chevrolet! — until John Kennedy was shot down, and after that the delirious moonshot euphoria steadily gave way to corrosive skepticism, anxiety, acrimony, and enmity. My generation, booming into adulthood, naively thought they could fix all that with Earth Day, tofu, and computers, and keep the great wheel rolling down into an even more glorious cybernetic nirvana.

Fakeout. That’s not where the wheel is going. We borrowed all we possibly could from the future to pretend that the system was still working, and now the future is at the door like a re-po man come to take away both the car and the house. The financial scene is an excellent analog to our collective psychology. Its workings depend on the simple faith that its workings work. So, it is easy to imagine what happens when that faith wavers.

We’re on the verge of a lot of things coming apart: supply lines, revenue streams, international agreements, political assumptions, promises to do this and that. We have no idea how to keep it together on the downside. We don’t even want to think about it. The best we can do for the moment is pretend that the downside doesn’t exist.

This is where we are. If you are reading this, you know it. The following sections and articles document what's happening to us. Some of the stories have some exposition. Others do not. Follow the link if the headline interests you.


Breaking Apart

Some years ago a Russian, former KGB operative Igor Panarin, predicted that the US would break up into separate countries.  Panarin is a Russian professor and political scientist best known for predicting that the United States would disintegrate within the next few years.

The Wall Street Journal reports: "Panarin is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations."

Lately other writers are expanding on this concept of Balkanization of the US. According to author Colin Woodard, the United States can be divided into 11 distinct sub-nations (see the above map). Woodard takes Panarin's idea to another level, and is far more granular. Panarin posited that parts of the balkanized former US would affiliate with other countries; Woodard does not. 

Woodard defined and illustrated the regions in his 2012 book "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America." Some regions sound familiar, like the "Deep South"; others might surprise, such as the "Midlands" region that stretches from New Jersey to northeastern New Mexico. 

"The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately, including state roles and individual liberty," Woodard, a Maine native, told Business Insider… In order to have any productive conversation on these issues, you need to know where you come from. Once you know where you are coming from, it will help move the conversation forward."

Whether fact or metaphor, the image of a country coming apart is useful in order to understand what follows.

Demography is Destiny

In an Atlantic article, How America Ends- A tectonic demographic shift is under way. Can the country hold together? Yoni Applebaum writes,

As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.

Secession notwithstanding, demographic shifts seem to fueling the white rage and nationalism that ignites the pyre of our current politics. ("You…will NOT replace us!") The theme of her article is that moderate Republicans can "save America." The fatal flaw in this argument is that there are no longer any "moderate Republicans," and that the Republican party is the party of Trump, meaning the party of Atwater, Rove, and ascendant white nationalism, who having tasted power are loath to give it up. The Rs have the power to nominate and approve unqualified right wing ideologies to pollute the federal bench for generations, and if they have to resort to right wing paramilitaries to keep it that way, so be it. Stories that moved this year that illustrate this:


The US white majority will soon disappear forever

The relentless factories of hatred, fear and lies: on the ultraconservative and reactionary waves

Yes, America is divided. The real story is how, why, and who benefits

Will America’s billionaires start a second Civil War to protect their wealth and power?

Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status, Not Economic Anxiety, Study Finds

The ‘Russia Hoax’ Is a Hoax

Donald Trump Is the Mad-King President Our Founders Feared Most

“We’re Americans, And We’re Fascists”: Inside Patriot Front

Top Military Officers Unload on Trump

The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?

This article was timely given Trump's announcement regarding removing American troops from Syria. Since they should not have been there in the first place, this seems a good thing. Except that we left the Kurds (who have fought wars for the Empire in pursuit of their own autonomy and based on American promises) in the lurch and to the tender mercies of Erdogan. I am old enough to remember how the Americans recruited the Hmong in Vietnam and Laos, then abandoned them after their utility in the US's "secret" wars was spent. 

As we speculate on next steps for what the military will do when Trump refuses to leave, I found this article instructive. On the other hand, I wish Mad Dog Mattis were still part of Pud's cabinet, as I deemed him most likely offer him the vigorous backhand of common sense.

If Trump Rage Brings ‘Civil War,’ Where Will Soldiers Stand?

The moment may come when soldiers have to choose between the Constitution and Donald Trump. No doubt most will embrace the Constitution. But some will see that as a tough call.

Trump Is ‘Last Hope for White People,’ Said Police Chief on Trial

Russian Secret Weapon Against U.S. 2020 Election Revealed In New Cyberwarfare Report

You Can Smell the Fear

8chan Is a Normal Part of Mass Shootings Now

Three white-nationalist shooters appear to have posted manifestos on the same troll forum. Here’s how 8chan became a meme-filled refuge for hate.

This Billboard Is a Sign of the Wild and Dangerous Forces Surging Through the Country

Forces that Donald Trump, American president, is actively stoking. Welcome the harvest sown in the wake the USA PATRIOT Act and follow-on legislation, by those who want to offer aid and succor to white supremacists while criminalizing opposition to them. The families of Eric Garner, tamer rice, Sandra Bland, et al were not asked for comment.

Two senators want antifa activists to be labeled ‘domestic terrorists.’ Here’s what that means.

The lack of a central governing system for antifa creates the risk of wrongly applying the label to all counterprotesters of white supremacists, according to the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that opposes anti-Semitism. This kind of mislabeling, the ADL said, could cause police to violate the civil rights of peaceful activists.

The ADL said antifa activists’ violent tactics are wrong, but that antifa and white supremacists are not equivalent. Far-right extremists have killed hundreds of people in the past decade, the ADL said, while there have been no known antifa-related killings.

Fascist Activists Have Spent The Last Year Trying to Win Over Police

Trump-Drunk Republicans Are Choosing Russia Over the Constitution

If the Republiconfederates thought about it, they would be attempting to insure that this was a nation of laws rather than men so that their descendants would be treated equitably. But no one in this country engages in thinking about anything except making the quarter, so it is probably unfair to single outright wingers for being guilty of short-term thinking. Instead, they line up in unthinking support of El Jefe, because they are terrified of opposing him, and getting primaried from the right. 

The Day People Disappeared and a New Strategy for Stealing Votes

Broken white men and the racist media that fuels their terrorism

America's Cult of Ignorance

More people are better educated than ever before, and knowledge is easier to come by. So why do we so often scorn those who plainly know more than we do? File under, "The Death of Expertise."


Unrest Everywhere

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B Yeats

This oft-quoted poem is a relevant today as it was when written 100 years ago. Protests raging on the streets of cities around the world in the past months have  triggers that vary with the locale. But what fuels them are common themes: stagnating middle classes, stifled democracy, economic inequality and the bone-deep conviction that things can be different – even if the way forward is uncertain.

More than 500,000 people rallied in Barcelona …amid a general strike after Spain sentenced Catalonia’s former separatist leaders to prison.

In Hong Kong, the police fired tear gas and anti-government protesters lit fires as tens of thousands of people marched today despite an official ban and attacks on the march promoters.

Chile declared a state of emergency after a transportation fare increase set off violence and looting. Subway stations, banks, buses and the headquarters of the country’s largest electricity provider were burned. Lebanese protesters enraged by corruption and dysfunction marched in Beirut and other cities, calling for the government’s overthrow.

Knowing about what happened to Allende was one of the ends of my innocence, and one of my way-stations on the road to collapse. Learning this story drove home what US foreign policy REALLY meant to a 23 year old with shit for brains, as well as the important lesson that Henry Kissinger was the spawn of Satan. The US was not going to tolerate a Marxist in Chile; but a fascist was just fine. Pinochet was Nixon's man. So they sponsored a coup.

Pinochet's Chile featured crimes against humanity, persecution of opponents, political repression, and state terrorism for openers. From Wikipedia:

The most prevalent forms of state-sponsored torture that Chilean prisoners endured were electric shocks, waterboarding, beatings, and sexual abuse. Another common mechanism of torture employed was "disappearing" those who were deemed to be potentially subversive because they adhered to leftist political doctrines. The tactic of "disappearing" the enemies of the Pinochet regime was systematically carried out during the first four years of military rule. The "disappeared" were held in secret, subjected to torture and were often never seen again.

We'd later learn that coup plotting, torture and wet work were the curriculum at the School of the Americas (now rebranded a la Blackwater, "The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation." Your tax dollars at work.

And an added bonus, Chile got the classical unrestrained “free market” policies of Milton Friedman, enforced by the military junta, which yielded a bumper crop of  human rights violations, institutionalized brutality, and drastic control and suppression of every form of meaningful dissent. The fact is, the truth of what happened in Chile was not that hard to find inside the US. Another fact is that no one cared.

And Haiti is on the brink of collapse because of a power struggle between its president and a surging opposition movement that has led to weeks of violent demonstrations and left streets across the country barricaded. Related stories from 2019:

Human Rights Watch supports US-backed far-right coup in Bolivia, whitewashes massacre of indigenous protesters

Media Silent as Bolivia's Coup Gov't Massacres Indigenous Protesters

Suppressing Dissent Guarantees Disorder and Collapse

The FBI’s Long History of Treating Political Dissent as Terrorism

Civil Unrest Is The New Normal Out There

A world on fire: Here are all the major protests happening around the globe right now

Tensions High as Far-Right Rally Tied To Threats Hits Portland

FBI Received Reports That Border Militia Was Training to Assassinate Prominent Democrats

Larry Hopkins, the leader of an extremist militia group known as the United Constitutional Patriots was arrested by the FBI in April after videos emerged of the group rounding up and detaining migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico. According to the New York Times, the FBI first became aware of Hopkins activities in 2017, when they received reports that his group was “training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama because of these individuals’ support of Antifa,” according to newly unsealed court documents.

49 killed in terrorist attack at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand suspect inspired by French writer who fears ‘replacement’ by immigrants

Ocasio-Cortez hits NRA after New Zealand shooting: 'What good are your thoughts and prayers?'

As QAnon Goes Mainstream, Trump’s Rallies Are Turning Darker

Under Trump, conspiracy theories and an all out assault on the truth have created a strange new reality.

‘I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth’ 

A self-proclaimed white nationalist planned a mass terrorist attack, the government says

Imagine what we have to look forward to in an election year.


Environmental Collapse

“A society’s fate lies in its own hands and depends substantially on its own choices.” 
― Jared Diamond

Few know what COP25 stands for (COP means Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.) The 25 stands for the 25th year that such an annual conferences has taken place, each year in different country, a tourist bonanza for the thousands travel but light on results and bereft of action steps.The COP 25 Failure in Madrid this fall encapsulates the impotence of governments around the world to acknowledge there is a problem with climate change, much less summon the will to do anything about it.

It is an illusion to believe that Big Business, Big Industry, Big Finance – and Big Growth-driven Profit – will yield to environmental or climate concerns. In spite of attracting 27,000 attendees, including Time Magazine's Person of the Year Greta Thunberg, the conference achieved alomst nothing.

Ultimately, however, the talks were unable to reach consensus in many areas, pushing decisions into next year under “Rule 16” of the UN climate process. Matters including Article 6, reporting requirements for transparency and “common timeframes” for climate pledges were all punted into 2020, when countries are also due to raise the ambition of their efforts.

UN secretary general António Guterres said he was “disappointed” with the results of COP25 and that “the international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis.”

This section has many links. The headlines tell a story of their own, with news that is almost unremittingly bad.

Sea Level Rise

The Arctic Is Undergoing Changes Scientists 'Never Expected Would Happen This Soon'

With Sea Level Rise, We've Already Hurtled Past a Point of No Return

Global Warming Will Drown Bangkok, Shanghai, Mumbai

150 million people are currently living in places that will be below high-tide in 30 years, according to new research

Nine climate tipping points now 'active,' warn scientists

IPCC report: Sea levels could be a metre higher by 2100

Sea Level Rise Maps

Speculative maps showing the changes to our world from an 80m sea level rise. Effectively all ice on earth having melted. Created with a variety of climate science reference, digital elevation models, and Photoshop.

Alaska’s Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History

Big Heat

The hellish future of Las Vegas in the climate crisis: 'a place where we never go outside'

‘Bleak’ U.N. Climate Study: World on Track for Up to 3.9 Degrees Warming by 2100

In Greenland’s Melting Ice, A Warning on Hard Climate Choices

Melting permafrost in the Arctic is unlocking diseases and warping the landscape

A Weather Station Above the Arctic Circle Hit 94.6 Degrees Fahrenheit

Over the past year, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg gained increased global attention for her work. From speaking in front of the United Nations to creating Fridays for Future,

Greta Thunberg Speaks the Horrific Truth of Humanity’s Fate

Xraymike returns to the keyboard with another lighthearted frolic.

We'd Better Retreat from the Coasts While We Still Can, Scientists Urge Amid Climate Crisis

Do it now or do it later, with much, much worse outcomes.

Degradation

Soil in the Arctic Is Now Releasing More Carbon Dioxide Than 189 Countries

Oceans losing oxygen at unprecedented rate, experts warn

Following a Familiar Script, U.S. Withdraws From Paris Climate Pact

Experts declare climate emergency and warn of 'untold human suffering'

EPA to Weaken Public Protections Against Toxic Coal Ash in Water

Insects are going extinct in DROVES, finds new study

Dark money is pouring in to protect the "worst energy policy in the country"

Report Shows 'Stunning and Dramatic' Scenes of Thawing Permafrost in Siberia That 'Leaves Millions on Unstable Ground'

There used to be 4 billion American chestnut trees, but they all disappeared


Goldman Sachs released a 34-page analysis of the impact of climate change. And the results are terrifying.

When the Vampire Squid says it's bad, perhaps even the elites will listen. They won't listen to Greta, but when the Squid speaks…

 

Global Burning

Welcome To The Third World, Part 30: California Burning In The Dark 

We’re About to Become People Fighting Desperately Fighting For Survival on a Dying Planet, and It’s Not Going to Be Pretty

Or, When Self-Preservation Takes Over, It Usually Takes Civilization, Democracy, Decency, and Sanity With It

Experts Brace For An Apocalyptic Future As Earth’s Forests Burn To The Ground

Amazon fires could accelerate global warming and cause lasting harm to a cradle of biodiversity

Amazon on fire: 'The earth isn’t dying. It’s being killed.'

Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted

(How) Climate Change is a Hangover of Colonialism, Exploitation, and Slavery

(Why) Climate Change Isn’t About Your Burger — It’s About (Centuries of) 10% of the World Growing Rich by Leaving 90% of the World Poor

Europe is burning just as new research offers a chilling truth about the volatility of climate change

Cooler years mask the underlying behaviour of the system. As natural variations move in the other direction, they can unleash a period of supercharged heating

Satellite Images Show Vast Swaths of the Arctic On Fire

Vast stretches of Earth’s northern latitudes are on fire right now. Hot weather has engulfed a huge portion of the Arctic, from Alaska to Greenland to Siberia. That’s helped create conditions ripe for wildfires, including some truly massive ones burning in remote parts of the region that are being seen by satellites.

The New Trail of Tears: How climate change is forcing the relocation of species, including our own

Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change

The North Atlantic ocean current, which warms northern Europe, may be slowing

'We are 50 to 100 years ahead of schedule with the slowdown of this ocean circulation pattern,' says climate scientist Michael Mann.

Heatwave: Think It’s Hot in Europe? The Human Body Is Already Close to Thermal Limits Elsewhere

Earth's Ancient Life Forms Are Awakening After 40,000 Years in Permafrost

By 2050, many world cities will have weather like they’ve never seen, new study says

Humans destroyed 10% of wilderness in just 25 years

The poisons released by melting Arctic ice

This remarkable Greenland photo highlights extreme Arctic melting

Report: Prepare for the Climatic Collapse of Civilization

The end of the Arctic as we know it

Arctic Is Thawing So Fast Scientists Are Losing Their Measuring Tools

Previously thought stable permafrost terrain high in Arctic is melting due to increased summer temperatures

Start planning for catastrophes, new EPA document says

Release of a government report means that even the last to know, know. regardless of their public posturing. Research details how human-caused climate change is contributing to record heat, more-intense storms, more-severe flooding and other events.

 

Biodiversity

'What Could Be More Important?': World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass Extinction Event Now Underway

California's monarch butterfly population drops 86% in single year

'Almost certain extinction': 1,200 species under severe threat across world

Climate of North American cities will shift hundreds of miles in one generation

Science, Sensationalism, and the Lessons of 'Insectageddon'

Humans Are Wiping Out Species So Fast That Evolution Can't Keep Up

Arctic sea ice loaded with microplastics

Plants are going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical norm

 

Food and water

Water is a growing source of global conflict. Here’s what we need to do

Climate crisis reducing land’s ability to sustain humanity, says IPCC

Why does Stamford company director say: "We are going to starve to death?"

'Biggest Crisis No One Is Talking About': Quarter of Humanity Faces 'Extremely High Water Stress' Intensified by Climate Emergency

The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it's rapidly disappearing

Ruined crops, salty soil: How rising seas are poisoning North Carolina’s farmland

Climate Change Is Here—and It Looks Like Starvation

Over One-Tenth of Global Population Could Lack Drinking Water by 2030

First global look finds most rivers awash with antibiotics

Almost two-thirds of the rivers studied contained enough antibiotics to contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century

Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast

Expert Says Indians Will Soon Become Water Refugees Heading for Water-Rich Europe

Rajendra Singh, also known as the “Waterman of India”, says over 70 percent of the country has dried up, and this may lead to climatic migration to other countries.


The Great Culling: They Don't Give a Flying Fuck About You

“If people feel lost and alone and helpless and broken and hopeless today, what will it be like if the world really begins to come apart at the hinges?” 
― Brandon Andress​

If you’ve made it this far, you had an opportunity to contemplate the many vectors of environmental ruin headed our way, at a time when collectively we are at one another’s throats with an enthusiasm and sense of purpose rarely seen since the last Civil War.

The current world population is estimated to have reached 7.7 billion people as of April 2019. It took over 200,000 years of human history for the world's population to reach 1 billion; and only 200 years more to reach 7 billion. We are now faced with automation and AI, at a time of profound income (and thus power) inequality. connect the dots to see that robots and algorithms can replace a lot of labor, which is occurring as we speak. And what happens when any private industry takes over a public one? They slash payroll, loot pensions, and rid themselves of "useless eaters," and redistribute the savings to "investors." Wash, rinse, repeat.  Thus, whether by design or default, the Great Culling is Coming To a Theater Near You. "The Great Culling" is not about putting fluoride in your drinking water so much as a plan to reduce earth's population over generations.

RationalWiki calls this a conspiracy theory. And you won't easily find much credibly written on the subject. Yet it is difficult to consider the toxic hellbroth of the rise of ethno-nationalism, climate emergency, the increasingly oppressive tone and tenor of life under increasingly straightened circumstances, the ethics of investment banks and the logic of the spreadsheet, and conclude that such a plan is not in effect as a practical matter. If this hurts, you can always get some Oxycontin from kids at your local middle school. Here are stories that moved in 20019 that illustrate the point.

Sackler Embraced Plan to Conceal OxyContin’s Strength From Doctors, Sealed Testimony Shows — ProPublica

Opioid epidemic may have cost states at least $130 billion in treatment and related expenses – and that's just the tip of the iceberg

The blood of poor Americans is now a leading export, bigger than corn or soy

Good to know the FSoA can still make something that other people in the world want to buy. Besides arms, that is.

Harvesting the Blood of America's Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism

When Medical Debt Collectors Decide Who Gets Arrested

Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.

Just 100 Companies Will Sign Humanity’s Death Warrant

Digital dystopia: how algorithms punish the poor

Turkish Scientist Sentenced to Prison for Publishing Paper Linking Pollution to Cancer

The Secretary of Agriculture Just Came Out and Said America Is for Big Business

Interesting tack at a meeting of small farmers who are already in trouble.

How Capitalism Torched the Planet by Imploding Into Fascism

Why Catastrophic Climate Change Is Not A Problem For Fascists — It Is A Solution

Martial law masquerading as law and order: The police state’s language of force

The gloves are off: 'predatory' climate deniers are a threat to our children

"The Public Is Now Aware That the Elites Are Taking Them To Their Death!" Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion

NASA Study Concludes When Civilization Will End, And It's Not Looking Good for Us

Pentagon Wants 16-Year-Old Kids To Fight The Empire's Wars

I am among those who think that launching a gratuitous, meat-grinder war in spring of 2020 to self-anoint as a "wartime president™" is completely within Fat Orange's capability. It may already be part of his campaign plan, given the sheer evil of his administration.

For me here is the money shot:

If The Donald gets us into a big shooting war over in the Middle East or in the South China Sea, the mandatory servitude of conscription will be required. It won’t be a turkey shoot like Iraq or Libya. It will be an existential threat, so all males —criminally inclined or not — between 16 and 45 will be inducted, same as they were after FDR tricked the Japanese into invading Pearl Harbor, or Johnson said the North Vietnamese attacked our warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

Anyone who thinks that Iran is going to do an "el foldo" like Saddam Hussein did in Iraq is sadly mistaken. Unlike Iraq, which was cobbled together via the Balfour declaration and held together by Saddam's brutality, Iran has a long, continuous history as a people and are not going to be exterminated quietly. Since Iran is surrounded by American bases, the outcome will never be much in doubt, but the costs will be extreme and the fighting scorched earth. Victory will be had, at the cost of your last grandson or granddaughter, so there is little doubt that Uncle Cracker will be looking for fresh meat.

Savage tick-clone armies are sucking cows to death; experts fear for humans. 

Everyone’s Got a “Surveillance Score” and It Can Cost You BIG Money

Congress Targets Middle-Class Retirement Savings

A Stealth Levy on IRAs and 401K Plans to Pay for Corporate and 1% Tax Cuts. Because the Waltons Just Don't Have Enough.

Humans consume the equivalent of a credit card worth of plastic every week

Mitch McConnell is Making the 2020 Election Open Season for Hackers

Millennials are ‘canaries in the coalmine’ for toxic economic trends, say Stanford scholars

A new report by Stanford scholars lays out the problems U.S. millennials face as a result of decades-long rising inequality. Problems they experience include rising mortality rates and increased poverty among those without college degrees.

Audit: Pentagon Cannot Account for $6.5 Trillion Dollars in Taxpayer Money

Banned bread: why does the US allow additives that Europe says are unsafe?

U.S. HAS SPENT SIX TRILLION DOLLARS ON WARS THAT KILLED HALF A MILLION PEOPLE SINCE 9/11, REPORT SAYS

From New York’s fake heiress to Donald Trump, we’re living in the age of the scam

Everywhere you look, there are people who have figured out ways to game our shoddy system

List of mass shootings in the United States in 2019

Our Towns: What Happens to Abandoned Malls?

Meet the precariat, the new global class fuelling the rise of populism

Suicide, alcohol, drug deaths reach all-time high

When the Interests of Monopolists and Authoritarians Coalesce 

 The U.S. is funding dangerous experiments it doesn’t want you to know about

No One Trusts the US Government, Not Even the American People – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Crumbling infrastructure is a hidden tax on all Americans

10 Mind-Blowing Pentagon Audit Reports All Americans Need to Know

Dutch historian Rutger Bregman goes viral after challenging Davos panel to talk about taxing the wealthy

Where he said, unforgettably:

I mean, 1,500 private jets flown in to hear David Attenborough speak about how we're wrecking the planet.
"I hear people talking the language of participation and justice and equality and transparency.
"But then almost no-one raises the real issue of tax avoidance, right, and of the rich just not paying their fair share.
"It feels like I'm at a firefighters' conference and no-one's allowed to speak about water."

He made the mistake of telling the truth.

USDA says filler once known as 'pink slime' can be labeled ground beef

E Coli is a vitamin under Trump. 

"Beef trimmings are easily contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella, so they need to be sterilized with "a puff" of ammonia…"

Bon appetit.


Lying Corporate Media

"Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one."

-A. J. Liebling

The news media in this country is under assault both from the political establishment and from the same market and technology forces that have disrupted other business sectors. Newspapers are shrinking, press jobs lost, and many towns are without a daily paper in print. And for those that remain are a hollow, shrunken version of their former selves. Smaller, fewer sections, reliance on wire service content: "yesterday's news tomorrow." Accelerating their demise is their adherence to a radically false doctrine, that of "Both Sides Do It" and thus "both sides" deserve to be treated with fairness and balance. But that doesn't work when one side works in relentless bad faith.

The bad faith works as follows: "We are not bound by what you call facts. We have our own, and we will proceed to put them out regardless of the evidence. We’re not trying to 'win the news cycle,' or curry favor with you. We’re trying to demonstrate independence from and power over you people, and stick your own rules up your nose. Your program is a theater of resentment in which you play a crucial part, and since our base hates your guts, we get to score points with them by displaying our contempt for you."

Here's an excellent analysis of the failures of Chuck Todd (and by extension, the rest of the corporate media opinion-manufacturing industry) by one of the country's best observers of the press, Jay Rosen.

The Christmas Eve Confessions of Chuck Todd

After the better part of a career of allowing republican politicians to posit falsehoods as divinely-received wisdom, Chuck Todd had an epiphany:

Three years after Kellyanne Conway introduced the doctrine of “alternative facts” on his own program, a light went on for Chuck Todd. Republican strategy, he now realized, was to make stuff up, spread it on social media, repeat it in your answers to journalists — even when you know it’s a lie with crumbs of truth mixed in — and then convert whatever controversy arises into go-get-em points with the base, while pocketing for the party a juicy dividend: additional mistrust of the news media to help insulate President Trump among loyalists when his increasingly brazen actions are reported as news.

Note that the very guy who has made a living inviting pathological Republican liars to be on his TV show continues to feign shock at the discovery that they pathologically lie when they're on his TV show. Since taking over the Meet the Press chair from David Gregory, Chuck Todd has displayed the sense of "both sides" faux  balance that has made him one of the Republican party's favorite towel boys. This it would be amusing  to see ol' Chuck protesting and trying to push back with his atrophied, baby arms now that the Republican grifters and Trumpsuckers who come on his show for the purpose of extruding the propaganda do so with the same impunity that he has provided them.

Since 2007 Todd has been NBC’s political director, which means he has influence over all coverage the in-house expert and decision-maker. You don’t get to claim you are naive about politics in such a role. Well, that’s the job. The truth is It’s not naiveté. It’s a willful blindness to what the Republican Party has become.

As such Todd provides a template for most the mass media, whose behavior can be observed (and predicted) though the filter of a quote by Noam Chomsky:

The major media-particularly, the elite media that set the agenda that others generally follow-are corporations “selling” privileged audiences to other businesses. It would hardly come as a surprise if the picture of the world they present were to reflect the perspectives and interests of the sellers, the buyers, and the product. Concentration of ownership of the media is high and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media, or gain status within them as commentators, belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations, and attitudes of their associates, reflecting their own class interests as well. Journalists entering the system are unlikely to make their way unless they conform to these ideological pressures, generally by internalizing the values; it is not easy to say one thing and believe another, and those who fail to conform will tend to be weeded out by familiar mechanisms."

Oc course, none of this is new. It was observed by muckraking journalist Upton Sinclair in The Brass Check, a book few of us have ever read, let alone heard of. For those of us who virulently distrust corporate media, it's good to know that one of the pillars of the muckraking era exposed it all a century ago and despite being on elf the literary lions of the era, had his book constructively buried and erased from history.

A brass check was the token purchased by a customer in a brothel and given to the woman of his choice. Sinclair implies that, in a similar fashion, the owners of the mass media purchase journalists' services in supporting the owners' political and financial interests.

Sinclair criticizes newspapers and the Associated Press (owned by newspapers) as ultra-conservative and supporting the political and economic powers that be, or as sensational tabloids practicing yellow journalism, such as newspapers run by William Randolph Hearst. In both cases, their purpose is to promote the business interests of the paper's owners, the owner's bankers, and/or the paper's advertisers. Clearly, some things never change.

For his trouble, Sinclair challenged those who charged him with inaccuracy to review his published facts and to sue him for libel if they found him wrong. None did. But because Sinclair was denied access to the mainstream media to refute such charges, they assumed an aura of truth and gave the book a reputation for inaccuracy that have caused it to be largely forgotten.

Those who reviewed the book found The Brass Check's analysis of the media accurate and valuable, "astonishingly prescient in its critique of the coziness of big media and other corporate interests."

The stories:

Newsweek Journo Quits After Editors Kills Report On Syria Chemical Attack Scandal

The Media Yells Cut Whenever Trump Challenges War and Militarism

Who Will Tell the Truth About the Free Press?

The False Balance Between Fascists and Antifascists

Former Israeli Intel Official Claims Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell Worked for Israeli Intel

A former high-ranking official in Israeli military intelligence has claimed that Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual blackmail enterprise was an Israel intelligence operation run for the purpose of entrapping powerful individuals and politicians in the United States and abroad.

The Incredible Belief That Corporate Ownership Does Not Influence Media Content

The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong?

The Pentagon is using a moral panic over “fake news” to gain influence over the domestic news landscape

Corporate Media Filled With Nameless Voices Attacking Progressive Democrats

Of Two Minds – It's Not Just the News That's Fake–Everything's Fake

Tiptoeing around Trump’s racism is a betrayal of journalistic truth-telling

Asymmetry between the major parties fries the circuits of the mainstream press – PressThink

Per one source, Russia has seen 42 Journalists killed during Putin's Rule

Trump and Putin Joke About 'Getting Rid of Journalists' on Anniversary of Capital Gazette Shooting

Some Real News About Fake News

It’s not just making people believe false things—a new study suggests it’s also making them less likely to consume or accept information.

Fake Has Become Realer Than Real And The Dogs Of War Are There To Keep It That Way

This is long; you may want to pack a lunch, but it is well reported, and I'll bet you've never heard a bit of it. By design.

 


Economic Fix is In

"The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing."

–Frank Zappa

“If you sit in on a poker game and don’t see a sucker, get up. You’re the sucker.” Crony capitalism that in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class. Typical tools include permits, government grants, tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention, especially where the state can confer public goods. Think "looting of the commons."

America's economy was a success in the 19th century due the plunder of a pristine environment and abundant natural resources. Before the frontier was closed, all one had to show up and build wealth using what was at hand. The world wars finished off Europe as an economic dynamo, bankrupted the British empire, and put economic and financial supremacy in Washington’s hands.  The US dollar became the world reserve currency, enabling the US to pay its bills by printing money. And enabling the US to plunder foreign resources the way vanishing American resources had once been plundered. We plunder in a more sophisticated way now; see John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man for how that works.

As it gets harder and harder for corporations to make an honest buck, they have to go "where the money is," much like bank robbers did before credit card fraud. And tht means you: your pension, your Social Security, your 401K. They want it, and they'll get it. Meanwhile, economic life in the "Home of the Brave, Land of the Free" means death by a thousand cuts for too many people. Here are 2019 stories that make the point:

The US Economy Is a System of Plunder

We Can Only Choose One: Our National Economy or Globalization

The world is sitting on a $400 trillion financial time bomb

Why the middle class can’t afford life in America anymore

Fed Ups Its Wall Street Bailout to $690 Billion a Week as Media Snoozes

Connecting the Dots to the Budding Wall Street Crisis

The Dirtiest Secret Capitalism Doesn’t Want You to Know

Have the Slow, Catastrophic Costs of Capitalism Exceeded the Long-Term Benefits? Or, Why Capitalism Failed Spectacularly as a Global Economy

The Repo Loan Crisis, Dead Bankers, and Deutsche Bank: Timeline of Events

This is (just another) absolutely terrific by the Martens. If you read nothing about money, read this.
The timeline is particularly telling, especially this gem:

May 19, 2019: The New York Times’ David Enrich writes the bombshell report describing how a Deutsche Bank whistleblower, Tammy McFadden, and four of her colleagues, had their efforts blocked by the bank when they tried to file suspicious activity reports on bank accounts affiliated with Donald Trump and his son-in-law/advisor Jared Kushner. The suspicious activity reports (SARs) should have been filed with the Federal agency known as FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) but were quashed by a unit of the bank that manages money for the super wealthy. The article appeared in the print edition of the New York Times on Monday, May 20, 2019. The stock closes that day at $7.43.

We're back to counting dead bankers. It may be that having HIV is safer than working for Deutsche Bank

Day After Trump Said 'Inequality Is Down,' Federal Data Shows US Income Inequality Highest Since Census Began Measuring

How Much (Money) Does America Really Have to Invest in its Future? 

The answer, of course, is the triumph of libertarian PR. Every man an individual, in the endless war of all against all. 

America’s Collapse: An Economy Based on Plunder

Noam Chomsky: “Worship of Markets” Is Threatening Human Civilization

Revenge of the Power Grid

The ‘giant sucking sound’ of NAFTA: Ross Perot was ridiculed as alarmist in 1992 but his warning turned out to be prescient

New Survey: 69% Of U.S. CFOs Believe That A Recession Will Start "By The End Of 2020"

The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich

Social Security Benefits Have Lost 33% of Their Buying Power Since 2000 

Economic Hitman John Perkins reveals US-led Blueprint for Acquiring Countries

The Coming Generation War

Russia tops global gold buyers list as it turns away from US dollar

Deep adaptation, post-sustainability and the possibility of societal collapse

The Internet Knows You Better Than Your Spouse Does

Found this article on Scientific American this morning while compiling the paper. Gives a glimpse at the sort of tools already in use to track us, sift and resell our preferences, for purposes unknown. What could possibly go wrong? The traces we leave on the Web and on our digital devices can give advertisers and others surprising, and sometimes disturbing, insights into our psychology

"Middle Class" Once Meant Stability and Now Means Fragility


What Don't fit

This is a grab-bag where a number of doom- and collapse-related stories of note that don't fit the other categories have gone to die.

The Ultimate Doom Post | Just kidding, it's worse than that.

2019 hasn't been easy and the word of the year proves it

The mainstreaming of Occupy Wall Street: How rethinking American capitalism became the most important debate of the 2010s

Fleecing the Flock: A Snapshot of America's Richest Pastors

Even among people who observe and measure how the wheels are coming off the wagon, plenty of disagreement. An old Diner friend Ugo Bardi makes an appearance in this article.

The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun

Scientists disagree on the timeline of collapse and whether it's imminent. But can we afford to be wrong? And what comes after?

All Great Civilizations Fall. Is America Next?

Read Sacha Baron Cohen's scathing attack on Facebook in full: 'greatest propaganda machine in history'

We're running out of time to stop killer robots

A new report warns that they're coming sooner than you think

CIA, the Real Lords of The Poppy-Fields & Striking White Gold in Afghanistan

‘OK Boomer’ Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations

How America Failed to Understand its Own Collapse

Google Is Coming for Your Face

Personal data is routinely harvested from the most vulnerable populations, without transparency, regulation, or principles—and this should concern us all.

Did a large meteorite hit the earth 12,800 years ago? Here’s new evidence

Democracy Is Now a Hindrance to the Imperial State

Democracy is the coat of paint applied for PR purposes to the Imperial State.

White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump

Why “Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself” Became a Populist Battle Cry

‘This Will Teach You Next Time,’ 911 Dispatcher Told Arkansas Woman Who Later Drowned. 

Debbie Stevens was delivering morning newspapers in her S.U.V. when she was swept away by floodwaters in Fort Smith, Ark.

‘We are moving into a new, controlled society worse than old totalitarianism’ – Zizek on Google leak

Study Finds Rise In 'Doomsday Prepping' Due To Mainstream American 'Culture Of Fear'

The Granddaddy of American Conspiracy Theorists

Decades before QAnon, false flags, “crisis actors” and Alex Jones, there was Milton William Cooper. An exclusive excerpt from ‘Pale Horse Rider’ 
Long before there was a Diner, long before 9-11, there was Milton William Cooper. His book was an underground sensation. The Hour of the Time radio program was also circulated and downloaded long before podcasts existed; I have them all. He was right about so many things, including 9-11, and the fact that he knew that by telling the truth, they would come for him and kill him. Which they did.

First human-monkey chimera raises concern among scientists

Researchers reprogrammed human cells before injecting them in the monkey embryo

This is what algorithms see when they spy on you in public

They see a lot more than you think and can make inferences about everything from personal relationships to life expectancy to “social worth.”
 

Why an “AI Race” Between the U.S. and China Is a Terrible, Terrible Idea

‘Years and Years’ is TV’s most haunting show

Foreskin reclaimers: the ‘intactivists’ fighting infant male circumcision

The U.S. Military Will Have More Robots Than Humans by 2025

We spoke to survivalists prepping for disaster: here’s what we learned about the end of the world

ARE WE LIVING IN THE DAWNING OF ALFONSO CUARÓN'S CHILDREN OF MEN?

The Unimaginable Reality of American Concentration Camps

China forcefully harvests organs from detainees, tribunal concludes

Organ transplant trade is worth $1 billion a year. 

Senators get classified briefing on UFO sightings

Tennessee Pastor Who Repeatedly Raped Daughter, 14, Gets Light Sentence Because Jesus

Was Shakespeare a Woman?

A thousand guns were found in an LA mansion. Then the mystery deepened

Trump Wants to Make It Legal for Debt Collectors to Text You “Where’s the Money, A$$hole?”

Ethiopian Bible is oldest and most complete on earth

Scientists Call for a Moratorium on Editing Inherited Genes

Amid a controversy over gene-edited babies, leading researchers want to call a halt and install a global governance process.

Opium-Addicted Parrots Are Terrorizing Poppy Farms in India

The Inconvenient Truth of Modern Civilization’s Inevitable Collapse

Medieval Letter Reveals Bawdy Nun Who Faked Her Death to Escape Convent

When the Trucks Stop Delivering, ‘The System’ Will Collapse

And that's a year's worth of doom. As we head into a pivital year of impeachment, elections and the usual schemes, here's hoping we're together back here next year "pretending that the downside doesn’t exist." Enjoy your new year!

 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week In Doom, October 27: “Get Over It”


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 27, 2019

“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”  ― Carl Sandburg


Last night, Trump tweeted "…." An ellipsis. Later a message that "Something very big has just happened!" Today, Trump says that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of the Islamic State, has been killed after a U.S. special operations mission targeted him in northwestern Syria. Trump claimed credit, declaring that U.S. forces have brought "the world's No. 1 terrorist leader to justice." 

This latest announcement is part of a diversion to hijack the narrative of the past week, and change the subject from a devastating confirmation of his misdeeds, corruptions and felonies while in office. After several weeks of having both the facts and the law go against #TeamTreason, Trump and his gaggle of dead-enders are reduced to hijacking the narrative, pounding the table and stealing the valor of American servicemen. Because the facts are in, and Trump's impeachment is a certainty.


During this week's closed-door testimony of William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, the so-called “quid pro quo“ was defined point by point. Taylor illustrated how Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in the hope of pressuring president Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into a thoroughly discredited conspiracy theory about the 2016 election, in the hopes of reversing the “Russia did it“ narrative and smearing the candidacy of Joe Biden.  Thus did he effectively bring down the teetering remains of the Trump administration, even though Trumpsuckers and nearly 40% of the population will have never heard of Amb. Taylor or his testimony.

When you can make John Bolton look like the Voice of Restraint, you’ve really gone far afield. Yet here we are. Taylor reported that when Bolton got wind of a meeting with Ukrainian officials at which Gordon Sundland, the US ambassador to the EU, brought up the investigations, he shut it down, and later referred to the scheme as an “drug deal."

The extent to which the House investigation has uncovered one aspect of the criminal Ukraine grift after another stems from actions taken after Trump's first year. When Trump named a government, he put a number of people in place no longer working for a notably high-turnover administration. Names like Tillerson, Mattis, McMaster, even Flynn, Bannon, et all have come and gone. Even the acerbic John Kelly, who replaced the ill-fated Reince Priebus, had to go.  

Trump made repeated attempts to rein in or fire Mueller during the investigation, and was saved from that misconduct only by the refusal of people around him to incriminate themselves (including former  White House counsel Don McGahn; Rob Porter, his staff secretary; and even Corey Lewandowski, who was otherwise eager to punch a female reporter in his zeal to obey Fat Orange. Even Kirstjen Nielsen, executrix of some of the most heinous American human rights violations ever perpetrated on the helpless since the genocide of native peoples, proved neither compliant nor extreme enough.

During the first year to 18 months, rumors leaked to the White House that Trump was chafing at being told "no" so often by his advisers. Reportedly he wanted to “let Trump be Trump,“ and that he was restive at those telling him he couldn’t do something because of the “Law.” Like most petty autocrats, Trump has no use for the law aside from bankruptcy law or stiffing contractors, or for those who traffic in it, (except for pet Attorneys General and hand nominated supreme court judges.)

As a result, during the worst crisis of this “administration,” (which might more properly described as opera bouffe about a bumbling, mid-level mafia crew if the stakes for the rest of us weren't so high) Fat Orange has no staff depth, and makes it up as he goes along.

Trump has run this administration as if it was a reality TV show; this illustrates that he understands the psyche of the average American pretty well, since most people figure if they haven’t seen it on TV, it doesn’t exist. A generation that has either given up on or reading newspapers as they shrink their way to irrelevance, has fewer sources of information. And after three years of multiple-times-a-day confrontation with vulgarity and brazen mendacity, most prefer to tune out rather than have their precious spare time soiled by T-Rex. Yet the law and the courts operate outside of the range of the television cameras and grind away according to the dictates of black letter law. This is where Trump will be up against it, not matter how furiously he pounds his tiny orange fists on the table.

Returning to the testimony of William B. Taylor: NBC News reported Taylor told the committee about the order to withhold military funding to Ukraine:  Taylor said that an unnamed Office of Management and Budget official told him that “the directive had come from the president to the chief of staff to OMB.” This makes clear that the order came from Trump himself. This means Trump can’t claim that he didn’t know what Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was doing and can't simply scapegoat Mulvaney or others for the Ukraine quid pro quo, because it’s clear that people within OMB were well aware that the order came from the top.

What you might call a "smoking howitzer."

For all of this, Trump bet the house on getting a CNN soundbite from Zelensky.

These ass hats were concocting a Q Anon-level fiction to prosecute a conspiracy theory which holds that Ukraine hacked Democrats emails and set up Russia to get blamed for it  during 2016. For this, we are all fortunate that Trump has such a fragile ego, and is so desperate for redress and validation. A better politician would’ve told Democrats and critics to go fuck themselves.

Notice how Barr keeps popping up, Zelig like, in many of the stories. First in Ukraine, then in Italy, chasing down various threads intended to go into the conspiracy theory voodoo doll. Taylor also ratified the fact that Bill Barr is up to his beefy jowls in the entire mess, since the Justice Department has tried to keep this entire crockpot buried, by advising the acting director of national intelligence to not transmit the whistleblower complaint sounding the alarm about it to Congress. I’m not an attorney, but that looks like obstruction of justice to me. Barr would do well to measure for curtains in John Mitchell's old cell.

If you look forward to what comes ahead, it’s pretty clear the Trump (and was left of his team) realize that this is all going to play out in a court of public opinion, everything that Trump has done in terms of propagandized ring this, including his execrable “lynching“ tweet several days after the passing of Elijah Cummings, has been about distracting from the evidence emerging from hearing rooms by casting doubt on the process, discrediting the whistleblower, serial tweeting, and so on. Looks very much like when Trump goes down, Barr is going with him.


"Conservatives who for eight years sowed the dragon's teeth of partisan politics are horrified to discover they have grown an actual dragon."       — Stephen King

Why are Ukraine  and Russia story one story? After the Russia-backed government falls in Kiev, Russia invades and annexes Crimea, which had been part of Ukraine. The world community cries foul. The US and others ultimately sanction Russia for the invasion. the sanctions bite. Putin tries to get them lifted. Think back tom 2016, and recall not on ly the trump Tower phone call organized by Fredo Jr. and attended by Kushner and Russian proxies, but also recall that the only point of interest for #TeamTreason in the Republican party platform was the change relative to Ukraine.

In July 2016, WaPo reported:

The Trump campaign worked behind the scenes last week to make sure the new Republican platform won’t call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, contradicting the view of almost all Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington.

Throughout the campaign, Trump has been dismissive of calls for supporting the Ukraine government as it fights an ongoing Russian-led intervention. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked as a lobbyist for the Russian-backed former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for more than a decade.

Manafort exited the campaign shortly thereafter, but his work had been done. This change confused many, and was greeted with incongruity by others. But for those who possess memory, the liberal superpower, October, 2019 is when a number of other shoes dropped. 

“All roads lead to Putin.”  ― House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  

On October 18, Trump met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Dems in a Cabinet meeting, ostensibly to talk about Trump’s widely opposed pullout of U.S. forces from northern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey’s bloody attack.. The resultant picture was tweeted by Trump as evidence of Pelosi’s weakness. Pelosi posted the image across the top of her Twitter page. It's been downhill for Trump ever since, at least in the court of legitimate public opinion.

The resultant picture (caricaturized at top) has been subject to as many alternative, self-serving, and contradictory interpretations as Rashomon.

The dramatic official White House photograph shows Pelosi standing and pointing at the seated president across the Cabinet Room table. Although the two are separated by only a few feet, the space illustrated a yawning divide and chronicled in a flash the state of a nation convulsed by impeachment, the prominence of women in politics and the 2020 election.

The reaction to the image, from the top down, also reflected the Rohrschach-type reality that even an image can be narrated in vastly different ways…

The photo shows Pelosi standing, finger pointed at Trump, who is saying something back.

“I think I was excusing myself from the room,” Pelosi said. “At that moment I was probably saying, ‘All roads lead to Putin.”


All of which comes after "Get Over It, " in which: Mick Mulvaney admits, then denies, quid pro quo. The acting White House chief of staff said on Thursday last that the U.S. had withheld nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine to further President Trump’s political interests, effectively confirming a key premise of the impeachment inquiry. Mulvaney later tried to reverse his comments, saying that “there was absolutely no quid pro quo.” Read his conflicting statements. By this time the toothpaste had left the tube. A White House spokesman had not made such a public ass of themselves since Ron Ziegler in 1973 saying that"a prior statement was "inoperative."


It's not opera bouffe without elements of farce. Bringing us to Rudy Giuliani.

3 big reasons why Rudy Giuliani is the weakest link in Trump's inner circle as the Ukraine scandal widens

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani, were arrested on October 10 trying to board an international flight with one-way tickets at Dulles International. They were headed to Vienna, the home of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who reported ly has been bankrolling their schemes, which include illegal political donations. Parnas and Fruman, have been indicted on campaign finance charges. They were part of the pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rivals, including Joe Biden.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York said. Parnas and. Fruman “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office,” including by making donations to a pro-Trump super PAC. Read the indictment.

The indictment refers to a “Congressman-1” — identified as former Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas — who was the lucky beneficiary of approximately $3 million that the super PAC spent during the 2018 cycle. The men sought Sessions’s help in removing the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, “at least in part at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials,” according to the indictment.

Parnas and Fruman were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records. The men had key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter.


 

FBI counterintelligence bombshell just landed on Rudy Giuliani’s head

After Rudy announced that he no longer had a lawyer and didn’t need one, yet another person tied to his Ukraine scandal was arrested. This came amid news that Rudy tried to get Donald Trump to take a guy in Pennsylvania and sell him off to Turkey. Now the news has somehow got even worse for Giuliani.

It’s not just that the SDNY is deep into investigating Rudy Giuliani’s criminal finances, which we’ve all known for a few days. It’s that the FBI is also running a counterintelligence probe into Rudy’s international antics, according to a CNN bombshell this afternoon.

This means the Feds aren’t just looking to nail Rudy for having committed financial crimes by taking payoffs from foreign governments and entities. They’re pursuing Rudy for the crimes he committed against the United States, on behalf of the nations that were paying him off.

 

And of course, Trump said he had no idea who Rosencranz and Guildenstern were, nor had he ever met them. Not so much.

Rudy Giuliani was carrying out his Ukraine antics at Trump’s instruction, while Rudy was being bankrolled by Parnas’ hilariously named company Fraud Guarantee. We’re supposed to believe that Trump didn’t know Rudy was relying on Parnas, even though Trump has spent years posing for pictures with Parnas? 

And why Rudy Giuliani and his arrested henchmen were planning to flee to Vienna?

Because that's where the money is. 

Vienna is where wealthy Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash is currently being held under house arrest. Now it all makes perfect sense.

Rudy’s associates weren’t just trying to flee the country because they were trying to avoid arrest. Rudy and his associates were planning to go to Vienna so they could huddle with Firtash, who has long been suspected of being knee deep in the Trump-Rudy criminal conspiracy in Ukraine.

Recently the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, met with a small group of Republicans at Camp David.This after Gen. William McRaven’s Op-Ed:  “Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President”


Had enough yet?

The testimonies of William Taylor, Fiona Hill, and others have confirmed that while official American policy was to encourage democracy in Ukraine to help it fight off Russia, the Trump administration ran a shadow foreign policy team, headed by Rudy Guiliani, and including special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, the Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Trump did not want "to provide any assistance at all" to Ukraine in its struggle against Russia. Trump personally intervened to withhold money that Congress had appropriated for that struggle until Ukraine leaders promised to state publicly that they were opening an investigation into the company for which Joe Biden's son Hunter worked. 

Trump's position that there was "no quid pro quo" is in the shredder. Taylor kept proof in the form of a paper trail: what the young people call, "the receipts." This. Is. Huge. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tried calling leaks from Taylor's testimony "a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution," but Taylor's statement was explosive even without hearing what he said behind closed doors. 

Note, though, what Taylor said Trump wanted in exchange for the release of military aid. He didn't demand actual dirt on Hunter Biden (again, there is no evidence that Biden did anything illegal), but rather he wanted a public declaration that Ukraine was investigating the company for which Biden worked. This all came down to getting a soundbite on CNN with which he could compromise the candidacy of a political opponent. An announcement that Ukraine was investigating the company, dumped into the media, would swamp Joe Biden's presidential candidacy. 

This is important. Trump understood that the idea that Ukraine was investigating corruption was the story, not that actual corruption existed or could be foujnd, let alone proved. This is 2016 redux with the story of Clinton's emails, which continually dominated 2016 election coverage, and which we now know was a complete non-story. Trump wanted to skew the public narrative before the 2020 election, and he pressured a foreign government to help him do that. Look for the coming impeachment battle to be waged on television.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week In Doom Sept. 1, 2019: Rat Bastards


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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                                                            Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 1, 2019

“This country was born on violenceViolence is as American as cherry pie."  –H. Rap Brown


I awoke this morning to see what news had broken and found this:

10 injured in shooting after high school football game in Alabama

At least 10 teenagers were injured when a shooting broke out after a high school football game in Mobile, Alabama, on Friday night, authorities said. Nine of the victims suffered gunshot wounds.

Well, it's Alabama, and it's FOOTBAW, so thus perhaps reason enough. But I'm old enough to remember going to high school football games without fearing for my life.

"Why are the young people bringing this type of violence to public events?" Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste asked in a news conference Friday. "They're bringing their beefs that they have with each other in their neighborhoods and they're putting other people in harm's way."

Let's not forget the exortations by Trump to do that very thing.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump encouraged a crowd of supporters Monday to "knock the hell" out of anyone who looked like they might throw fruits and vegetables at him, and promised to pay the legal fees for anyone who took him up on his suggestion.

Even though Trump bade his supporters to practice rough justice, some will find it hard to lay the pervasive strain of American violence at his feet. Aside from giving aid and succor to violent white nationalists, and voice to the prion disease that afflicts his most rabid supporters, that is. Back to the news:

At least 5 dead after more than 20 shot as gunman targets random victims in Odessa area

At least five people died after more than 20 people were shot Saturday when a gunman hijacked a postal truck and began shooting randomly in the Odessa area of West Texas, authorities say.

At least three law enforcement officers — a state trooper, an Odessa police officer and a Midland police officer — were among those shot. They were in stable condition Saturday night, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Another weekend, another shooting. Or two. Sandy Hook, Charleston, Orlando, Pittsburgh, El Paso, Dayton, Virginia Beach, and now in Texas. Again.

American history is written in blood. American violence has its roots in the wars of extermination fought against native peoples, chattel  slavery that built the wealth of a planter class (the enforcement for which was enshrined in the Second Amendment), wars against one another expanding the "frontier" (who doesn't love a good western?) and now the endless economic competition of all against all. We have normalized the mass slaughter of our fellow citizens to the extent that weekend mass shootings barely raise an eyebrow. Even though 90 per cent of our fellow citizens (and gun owners) welcome mandatory background checks for gun purchases, the NRA and its hireling legislators (aslosh in laundered rubles) won't allow such a bill to come to a vote.  

Meanwhile, out here in flyover country, where tariffs bite, where soybeans molder in silos, where Joe Sixpack and his wife both work two jobs to make ends meet, where minimum wage doesn't cover the rent anywhere in the country, the stresses mount.


“No small part of this ugly barbarization has been due to sheer physical congestion: a diagnosis now partly confirmed with scientific experiments with rats – for when they are placed in equally congested quarters, they exhibit the same symptoms of stress, alienation, hostility, sexual perversion, parental incompetence, and rabid violence that we now find in the Megalopolis.”

 ― Lewis Mumford,  The City in History


Rats in a box. We all know that under enough stress, rodents turn on one another. We know this because scientists tested and measured this phenomenon, back in the day when the earth was still a sphere and science counted for something. Ethologist John B. Calhoun studied population density and its effects on behavior, and coined the term "behavioral sink" to describe the collapse in behavior which resulted from overcrowding. Over a number of years, Calhoun conducted over-population experiments on Norway rats and mice.

In his 1962 study, Calhoun described the behavior of the rodents:

Many [female rats] were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did… Among the males the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep. The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption. …

The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of three experiments, in which we observed the development of what we called a behavioral sink. The animals would crowd together in greatest number in one of the four interconnecting pens in which the colony was maintained…as a result extreme population densities developed in the pen adopted for eating, leaving the others with sparse populations.

… In the experiments in which the behavioral sink developed, infant mortality ran as high as 96 percent among the most disoriented groups in the population.

As the rat population grew to 2200 rodents in what was described as a "rat utopia," they subsequently exhibited abnormal, often destructive behaviors. By the 600th day, the population was on its way to extinction. Calhoun himself saw the fate of the rodent population as a metaphor for the potential fate of man. Now rats aren't people, although as we will see, some people are rats. 



Greta Thunberg, Climate Activist, Arrives in N.Y. With a Message for Trump

Greta Thunberg’s Slow Boat to New York

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, arrived in New York City via an emission-free sailboat trip to dramatize her message for the urgency for state actors to take climate change seriously. She gives a speech next month at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. This at a time when

the Amazon rain forest was on fire; glaciers were calving into the sea; Tropical Storm Dorian was gathering strength in the Caribbean; scientists were trying to artificially inseminate the last two northern white rhinos on earth; there was lead in the water in Newark. The Endangered Species Act had been gutted, and the E.P.A. had announced new protections not for air or water but for marine diesel engines.

Thunberg arrived without the benefit of any official delegation or ceremony. She stepped off her boat and onto a floating dock, climbed a ramp to a stage, and faced rows of news cameras and handheld phones transmitting the arrival of the symbol of global climate resistance. She has been cheered by supporters, fellow climate activists, and mocked by critics. I promised you rats.


Misogyny, meet hypocrisy: Climate deniers go after AOC, Greta Thunberg with sexist attacks

Even though officialdom may have greeted Thunberg with a yawn, the alt-right was certainly paying attention. Climate change does not seem to present as a gendered issue, but leave it to conservatives to inject sexism into their generalized contempt for anything not "blood and soil." This week the right-wing Media Research Center tweeted out a video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., addressing the need for rapid decarbonization to prevent catastrophic environmental changes. The video, labeled "Shallow Thoughts" and backed by treacly music, is supposed to be read as an indictment of Ocasio-Cortez's intelligence.

Fail. It's clear the Media Research Center doesn't expect its conservative audience to actually listen to what AOC is saying (which is actually cogent, despite the treacle), and instead write her off as an airhead. But AOC is a social media adept, and in a bit of social media jujitsu, tweeted out the video herself, stealing a march on the MRC. And in a nice bit of trolling, thanked MRC for helping spread her message. 

Slate had it thus:

Earlier this week, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out a warm welcome to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, who arrived in New York Wednesday for a speech at the United Nations.

Unfortunately, Thunberg was also greeted by a wave of misogynist nastiness, largely coming from allegedly grown men in both Europe and the United States. The attacks on Thunberg were in the same vein as those on Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her of being too stupid to know what she's talking about and denying that her voice is one worth honoring. A writer for the conservative Washington Examiner claimed that Thunberg is a victim of "child abuse" and that her mother "pimps their kid out," explicitly drawing a line between forced sex work and climate activism. 

As usual with the alt-right gaggle of Goebbels cosplayers, it's all about "owning the libs." Uh-huh. AOC and Thunberg both appear to be energized by opposition. But the main reason that climate-change deniers so readily turn to misogyny is that otherwise, they got nuthin'. The scientific evidence is in, and it's black and white: the climate crisis is real, and mostly caused by human activity. Their moral position is even more tenuous, since their options–doing nothing, or increasing greenhouse gas output — will harm not just future generations, but innocents around the world currently enduring extreme weather events like Hurricane Dorian or a burning Amazon.

So right wing trollboys have to rely on personal attacks aimed at environmental activists, dragging the debate away from evidence and into a rat's nest of culture war resentments.


Yet for all of the above, the article that spurred the direction of this week's rats-under-stress rant was this one, just in time for back-to-school.

Instead of school supplies, this year I’m shopping for a bulletproof backpack 

Judi Zirin speaks for an entire generation of American parents, who have to deal with issues that frankly never occurred to previous generations of parents planning back-to-school:

I have always loved the end of summer’s lazy promise of infinite possibility, the late August back to school buzz of limitless potential. Instead of shopping for school supplies and first day of school outfits, though, I’m online looking at Kevlar hoodies and bulletproof backpacks. This year, I’m not worried my kid won’t fit in – I’m praying he won’t be carried out.

After so many school shootings, I’m scared. Scared of what happens when that student who seems a little off or angry or cruel, whose parents don’t notice or take it seriously, whose issues the school is “dealing with”, finds access to a gun. Terrified because I know I can’t protect my child – and the government won’t. Confused because these students need help and not stigma, and it’s oddly the guns who have the stronger lobby.

Perhaps the greatest indictment future generations will level at our own is our unwillingness to protect our own children in the face of an intransigent NRA and its Russian money-trough. Nearly every American industry and product is subject to civil liability as a check on the irresponsibility of manufacturers and sellers—but not the gun industry. Congress made sure of that: when it passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, they exempted the gun industry from nearly all lawsuits, leaving families of gun violence victims without recourse.

Thus do the NRA and their hirelings insure a steady supply of child human sacrifices to Moloch each year. And Moloch remains hungry.

And we have the nerve to call the human sacrifice of the Mayans and Aztecs barbaric.

 


Short takes:

Here's a summary of doom-related news that moved this week.

Take the land’: President Trump wants a border wall. He wants it black. And he wants it by Election Day.

Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.

The world in flames

Plants are going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical norm

Who they Are; they have names, faces, addresses, families…

Steve Schwarzman, a Top Financier of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, Is a Driving Force Behind Amazon Deforestation

TWO BRAZILIAN FIRMS owned by a top donor to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are significantly responsible for the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rainforest, carnage that has developed into raging fires that have captivated global attention. 

Brazil Says It Will Reject $22 Million in Amazon Aid Pledged at G7

Because Boisonaro.

2019 to be ‘worst-ever year’ for wildfires in Siberia and ‘only rain can now extinguish flames’

The New Trail of Tears: How climate change is forcing the relocation of species, including our own

In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, designed to appropriate to the United States lands occupied by aboriginal Americans… the result of this land grab and ethnic cleansing was the Trail of Tears, a highway of the dispossessed, en route from their homelands to less favorable situations away from the population centers of the European-Americans and their recently created nation. Those with the means self-deported; those who moved late moved in large numbers and suffered terrible losses.

Nearly two centuries later, we face the prospect of forced relocations on a scale that is difficult to fathom. This New Trail of Tears will involve humans on every inhabited continent, and it will impact countless other species as well. This time, the driving force is all humanity, agents of climate change through our greenhouse gas emissions.

Author Brian Stewart notes that sea level rise, coupled with more violent storms powered by the warmer atmosphere, will have a profound impact on coastal areas. The dispossessed will place great stress on the remaining livable space, competition for such livable space will be fierce, and may become extinction traps for some. Note this with certainty:

Barriers to movement, both inadvertent and intentional, can be death sentences to those migrating.

It will be a piquant irony if those who are among the most ardent warriors against the dispossessed today find themselves on the other side of a razor wire fence tomorrow.

World’s largest permafrost river dries to a record low

Indonesia picks site for new capital as Jakarta sinks

Purdue Pharma in talks over multibillion-dollar deal to settle more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits

What sounds equitable at first blush may prove to be a multi-billion dollar dodge on the part of the Sacklers:

The Sackler family, which grew into one of the nation’s wealthiest dynasties through sales of the widely abused painkiller OxyContin, could emerge from a legal settlement under negotiation with its personal fortunes largely intact, according to an analysis reviewed by The Washington Post and people familiar with the discussions.

All the Sacklers want is what any of us would want: to be left alone in our Fortress of Insolence counting our billions.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week in Doom August 26, 2019: The Lyin’ King


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 25, 2019

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.” 
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


Madness occasionally asserts itself on the world stage.

"The Madness of King George" is a stage and film production about Britain's George III, known through history as "the mad king who lost America." George III was king of Great Britain during some of the nation’s most challenging and tumultuous years, including those of the American Revolution. By accounts he was a dutiful, steady monarch who guided Britain through the French revolution and later Napoleon's rise and fall.  In 1788, illness brought on his mental breakdown, but he briefly recovered for a time. His later escalating bouts of insanity led Parliament to pass a Regency Act, by which the fate of the empire devolved to his oldest son, Prince George. This young man was faced with the unenviable position of having to govern according to the increasingly erratic whims of his batty father. It is thought by some that George's erraric behavior had its roots in disease, but this assessment is by no means unanimous.

Do a search for, "the Madness of King Donald" and you'll find a number of articles speculating that the so-called Leader of the Free World appears to be batshit crazy, a speculation not necessarily recent, but brought into sharp relief by statements that the Burnt-umber Buffoon made this week. The record is filled with what appears to be Trumpian signs of cognitive disorder, pre-dementia or even sheer delirium, whether it is the series of incoherent tweets, the ranting and unhinged raving at media briefings, or taking off on rabbit-hole tangents at public rallies to the applause and adoration of his bobblehead followers.

Some might think that such speculation is baldly partisan, and as a nearly-bald partisan I might agree. But the level of barking-mad, batshit-crazy reached a fever pitch this week…

King Lear is one of our most popular exemplars of power and madness. Like Trump, Lear is susceptible to the flattery of daughters, who fawningly profess their love, and Lear rewards them in kind. His youngest daughter, Cordelia, does not play that game, and is disinherited by her erratic and petulant father. They are eventually reconciled, but the peace comes too late in the arc of the story for it to end in anything but tragedy. It is too soon to know whether Lear and Trump equate, but the tragedy that unfolds is more for the American people than a mad king.

The madness of King Donald: is Trump really losing his mind?

So people are actively asking this question. The problem is that those people are not among his ironclad supporters, who still believe every word he says. The fact that Trump's penchant for pathological lying is now under being examined in the context of his sanity is explained away as, "fake news." 

If Rick Reilly’s new book Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump is anything to go by, Trump “cheats like a mafia accountant”.

Among many eye-catching anecdotes, he cites caddies at a New York golf club nicknaming Trump “Pelé”, after the Brazilian soccer legend, because of the president’s habit of kicking his ball out of the rough and up the fairway to win at all costs.

Increasingly, mental health experts have been getting increasingly vocal in crossing that Rubicon known as the "Goldwater Rule," enacted by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 to avoid armchair diagnoses by mental health pros expressing their own political biases in psychiatric terms. This was enacted in the wake of the 1964 presidential campaign between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater, in reaction to a magazine survey of psychiatrists which attempted to question Barry Goldwater’s mental fitness.

[I]t is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement”

Yet for all that,  some are calling for an examination to assess whether Trump is actually losing his mind.



TRUMP DECLARES HIMSELF “KING OF ISRAEL,” THE “SECOND COMING OF GOD

The president is sick of “disloyal” American Jews, who apparently don’t know what’s good for them or how to properly vote. But “Jewish people in Israel love him,” according to the crazed conspiracy theorist Trump quoted on Twitter.

It all started with a classic Trump humblebrag. “Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words,” Trump said before quoting something the evangelical Christian Root had said.

“President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world … and the Jewish people in Israel love him … like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God,” the quote said.

Root, who lives in Las Vegas, says he founded the Republican Jewish Coalition chapter in Nevada. He had also previously been hired by Sheldon Adelson (the casino magnate and a major funder of the RJC and Republican candidates along with Jewish causes,)to write a column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal after buying the newspaper in 2015. Root is also the author of the book “Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon is Changing America,” also published in that year.

Wayne Allyn Root—a self-described “Jew turned evangelical Christian”—is an unhinged conspiracy theorist who believes the 2017 Las Vegas shooting was a “coordinated Muslim terror attack” by ISIS and that George Soros paid actors to stage the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that included Nazi chants like “Jews will not replace us.”

Quoting Wayne Allyn Root is quite a feat. For the non-initiate, Root has been snout-to-rear end with trump for years. Root, the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2008, announced a devoted (and some moight say slavish) support for the failed businessman nearly as soon as Trump announced he was running in June 2015.

As Charlie Pierce observed,

(The last time "King of the Jews" trended, things did not end well.) 

Trump, incredibly, seems to believe that he’s going to win over Jewish voters by telling them they don’t know what’s good for them. Perhaps he's been influenced by the fact that Jews went for Hillary Clinton. in 2016. 

Biographer Tony Schwartz, who ghost-wrote Trump’s The Art of the Deal puts it, the fact that most of us are “constrained by the truth” gives Trump a “strange advantage” through his complete disregard for it. It certainly works with his supporters, as he polls at a consistent 90 per cent approval among republicans…

Many news organizations have attempted to document the number of trump lies, which by now number over 12,000 such misstatementsDonald Trump has lied an average of 13 times a day since becoming president, one analysis finds. This body of vile work has become a fact-checking chore for journalists and an alternative reality for his supporters. According to a Slate article, one in six Americans believe what he says no matter what he says.

Between the day of his inauguration (Jan. 20, 2017) and Aug. 5, 2019, Trump has made 12,019 statements that were either false or misleading, according to the Washington Post. While that averages out to 13 such statements a day since Trump assumed office, the number has increased recently. Since April 26, when Trump made his 10,000th false or misleading statement, he has averaged 20 such statements every day, or one every 72 minutes.

One example breaking this week was this Pied Piper fantasy: 

Trump said doctors left operating rooms to greet him after mass shootings. Hospitals in Dayton and El Paso say that’s not true.

Speaking to reporters on the White House’s South Lawn on Wednesday, President Trump claimed he was warmly welcomed at hospitals in the wake of recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, and intimated that surgeons had even deserted their patients to meet him.

“The doctors were coming out of the operating rooms,” Trump said. “There were hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor. You couldn’t even walk on it.”

But the hospitals he visited say that isn’t what happened — and that doctors would never pause surgery to greet the president.


The "Chosen One" says he wanted to give himself the medal of honor but his staff talked him out of it.

“That was a big day, Medal of Honor. Nothing like the Medal of Honor,” he continued. “I wanted one, but they told me I don't qualify, Woody. I said, 'Can I give it to myself anyway?' They said, 'I don't think that's a good idea.'” 💡 

Amid scattered chuckles, Trump concluded: “Great, great people. These are great, great men and women that get congressional Medal of Honor. Thank you, Woody.”

The president’s assessment that he should receive the nation’s highest award for acts of military valor followed his statement earlier Wednesday afternoon that he is “the chosen one” in relation to his administration’s trade conflict with China — a proclamation he turned to the sky to deliver. 

Trump never served in the military and was granted five draft deferments — four for college and one for bone spurs in his heel.


Why does Trump continue to lie, with the lies becoming more baroque and more frequent? Salon offers one theory:

One possible explanation for the increase in the number of Trump's lies is that as the president has continued to lie with relative political impunity, he has grown desensitized to the instinctive reluctance most people feel about saying that which they know to be severely exaggerated or flat-out untrue.

People become inured to lies in the same way they do to perfume or medications. Whatever you may think of him, Trump has been a shatterer of norms, an upender of precedent, a flouter of both law and established procedure. Our collective purchase on reality may just be another norm shattered, There are true believers, those who think his continual gaffes, lies and blunders are part of a grand plan, like the Q-Anon people who believe that Trump and Robert Mueller are collaborating on a plan to take down the "deep state" and the pedo ring being run out of the non-existent basement of Comet Pizza by Hillary Clinton.

Trump's real effect is to exact a massive toll on us all, in terms of time, attention and energy stolen from decent souls obliged to pay attention to rage tweets, helicopter-wash press gaggles, and on-again, off-again policy pronouncements. "Trump fatigue syndrome" is a real thing, and perhaps the point; while most of us find ourselves mentally and spiritually exhausted by the serial idiocy of the Tweeter-in-Chief, and turn away from the news in disgust, the better for his appointed foxes to loot every henhouse.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week in Doom August 18, 2019

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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                                                                                                                                                                             Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 18, 2019

“We're facing mass starvation in the next 10 years,  social collapse and the possible extinction of the human race. It couldn't be worse. So that situation has come about over 30 years of failure– failure by the elites, failure by the governments, and failure by campaigners….The public Is now aware that the elites are taking them to their death!”  

–Roger Hallam


Long before there was a Doomstead Diner, long before 9-11, there was Milton William Cooper. Cooper was the greatest conspiracist of this generation and a man you may not have heard of. His book Behold A Pale Horse  was an underground sensation and the ur-source for many later conspiracy theorists. Cooper's "Hour of the Time" radio program was also broadcast on short wave, circulated and downloaded long before podcasts existed. Cooper was right about many things, wrong about others, Yet he predicted future events and trends accurately, and knew that by telling the truth, TPTB would come for him. Which they did.

Behold A Pale Horse is what's called a "prison book" because it's one of the most read books in prison, passed from hand to hand until the spines break. This book is kept behind shelves in bookstores because it is also one of the most stolen books in history. More than any other single influence, encountering this book led me to distrust the so-called "official story," and which eventually put me on a path to the Diner.

I'm currently reading Cooper's biography, Pale Horse Rider: William Cooper, the Rise of Conspiracy, and the Fall of Trust in America,  by Mark Jacobson. Cooper was a complicated man with a mercurial temper; he was also a black-helicopter paranoid who provided some of the ideology for the right-wing militia movement and mother's milk for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and many others like him. From thre flyleaf:

"We are living in a time of unprecedented distrust in America: Faith in the government is at an all-time low, and political groups on both sides of the aisle are able to tout preposterous conspiracy theories as gospel, without much opposition. "Fake news" is the order of the day…  A former U.S. naval intelligence worker, Milton William Cooper published his manifesto Behold a Pale Horse in 1991. Since then it has gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies, becoming the number-one bestseller in the American prison system.

Decades before QAnon, false flags, “crisis actors” and Alex Jones, there was William Cooper. Some call Cooper the father of the so-called Patriot movement and the spiritual godfather to the Alex Joneses and QAnons of the world. My politics could not be farther frm those people, but Cooper had some deep insight into the sickness of our times. Every story we treat on this week has running through it the pervasive and overwhelming lack of trust that afflicts our times, which Cooper, however great his flaws, pointed out early and repeatedly.

An unpleasant alcoholic and perhaps bi-polar to boot, Cooper died in a shootout with Apache County, AZ police in 2001, one month after September 11, the same year in which he had predicted the coming catastrophe. He leaves a complicated legacy, but the distrust of "official stories" he advanced permeates the following stories. Here's this week in doom.


Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck, deepening questions around his death

On August 15, an autopsy found that financier Jeffrey Epstein suffered multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to two people familiar with the findings. This raised questions regarding the mystery about the circumstances around his death. Specifically, his hyoid bone was broken,

"…which in men is near the Adam’s apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said.

The office of New York City’s chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, completed an autopsy of Epstein’s body Sunday… Asked about the neck injuries, Sampson said in a statement that no single factor in an autopsy can alone provide a conclusive answer about what happened."

Nevertheless, the ME presented findings that Epstein's death was a suicide. Fair enough, except that according to some anecdotal sources, Epstein couldn't empty a bag of garbage without staff help, so one can consider how he was able to "hang himself" from the top bunk on a room with seven foot ceilings, yet somehow sustain injuries consistent with strangulation. His cellmate, a former state trooper, was supposedly excused from his cell. Epstein's brother has supposedly ID'd the body, an identification as relaibler as the location of JFK's brain.

And Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy concluded with there medical examiner declaring his death was a suicide by hanging. So see, written evidence. Conclusions. Case closed. No need for a messy and troublesome murder investigation, the results of which might outrage the proles before the entire matter disappears down the memory hole.

Medical examiner rules Epstein death a suicide by hanging

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement that she made the suicide determination “after careful review of all investigative information, including complete autopsy findings.”

Sampson’s announcement came as a Justice Department official told The Associated Press that some prison staffers believed to have relevant information aren’t cooperating with investigators.

Epstein’s lawyers said they were “not satisfied” with Sampson’s conclusions and that they would conduct their own investigation, including seeking to obtain any video of the area around Epstein’s cell from the time leading to his death.

Uh-huh. Nothing to see here citizen: move along.

Cover Up? Epstein Shipped $100K Cement Mixer To 'Pedo Island' Weeks Before Crushing Exposé

Approximately three weeks before a series of damning articles hit in the Miami Herald, Jeffrey Epstein paid up front to have a $100,000 cement mixer express-shipped to his infamous Little St. James 'pedo island' at great expense, according to the Daily Mail

The pedophile, who was found dead by apparent suicide on Saturday while awaiting trial for sex trafficking, got the Carmix 5.5 XL self loading concrete mixer delivered to Little St. James on November 7 last year.

Epstein was in such a hurry that he paid for the machine up front so it would arrive sooner – even though it meant being responsible if it got damaged in transit.

Three weeks later the Miami Herald published a series of articles called 'Perversion of Justice' on November 28, which eventually led to Epstein being arrested in July.

Shipping experts told DailyMailTV that the possibility that it was 'used to literally cover up evidence cannot be discounted'. 

Zero Hedge notes that 

On Monday, the FBI and NYPD raided Little St. James island last week, packing up evidence, although videos reveal some of it had already been moved prior to the raid. Perhaps they should have raided the island the same day he was arrested?

Who Protected Epstein for Decades, and Why?

One might well ask the above question, as did the redoubtable Charles Hugh Smith. Smith notes, " 'Epstein was an intelligence asset' is just a tissue-thin cover for a much more destructive reality: those at the top of the American state have no moral compass at all."

The rot goes much deeper. As Smith poses the question, he gestures at an answer:

There are several explanations floating around for the why: those in power enjoyed their diabolically exploitive visits to Lolita Island and wanted to continue their criminal gratifications.

The second explanation is that Epstein was a spy for a "friendly" foreign intelligence agency and therefore off-limits. ("Friendly" is in quotes because when it comes to intelligence, one's "friends" can do more damage than one's worst enemies.) 

Let's say this turns out to be true. Wouldn't the NSA, CIA and FBI know of Epstein's activities and connections to a foreign intelligence service? Of course they would. So at a minimum, we can infer the NSA, CIA and FBI enabled Epstein's operation to continue for some benefit, perhaps relating to "honeypot" blackmail and control of "assets," unwilling or willing.

Explaining the wrist-slap sentence of a decade ago and the subsequent promotions, praise and honors for the enablers. The entire Epstein affair, roping in as it did royals, presidents and high rollers of every sort, feeds the narrative that you can't believe anything the government says.

…corruption and debauchery undermine the legitimacy of the state, and so doing nothing while Epstein et al. gratified the desires of the rich and powerful for degenerate debauchery was treasonous: the American state will collapse not from military conflict but from moral decay, and every individual who enabled (or made use of) that moral decay is guilty of treason.

The Epstein affair and the "official stories" that will emerge therefrom will arrive pre-disbelieved. No one will trust the word of any official source. We've already seen speculation that Epstein was switched out in the wee small hours and a dead body was left behind. And even if the cadaver is Epstein's, no part of the official story accounts for the shrieking reportedly heard from his cell. Such widespread cynicism fits like a hand in glove the agenda of those with a 50-year plan to make people despise government so that they will no longer see it as the guarantor of last resort for their rights. It serves the agenda of those who wish to shrink the size of government so that they can drown it in a bathtub. And of Tangerine Twitler, who wants to blame Bill Clinton or Obama for his own sins of commission..

If you want to be fully read in on all matters Epstein, I strongly recommend following Mint Press' Whitney Webb. She connects the dots. Which is difficult, because if you read this, the roots of Epstein's touch a Mossad blackmail op reaching back decades…

Mega Group, Maxwells and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal


The picture painted by the evidence is not that of a direct Epstein tie to a single intelligence agency, but a of a web linking key members of the Mega Group, politicians, and officials in both the U.S. and Israel, and an organized-crime network with deep business and intelligence ties in both nations.


Cooking the Arctic

We know everything we need to know about the climate crises and the causes, but, in the face of all the warning signs, are pressing the accelerator to the floor. It's almost as if the one percent who possess bunkers, hired security and all the money siphoned from working people over the last 40 years (ever since Dutch declared "Morning in America") were intent on exterminating the proles while waiting out the maelstrom in air conditioned bunkers. It is abundantly self-evident that we we know what is happening and know what needs to be done, but refuse to do it because to do might cost some oil company profits. Here are some stories that moved this week.

Governments are failing to understand global catastrophic risks and need to take urgent action

A report published this week by Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) today release a new report on what governments can do to understand and inform policy around these risks, which could threaten the global population. It is straightforward and decidedly unpretty, unless your take is that "threaten(ing) the global population" is the point of current policy. Nothing else makes sense.

The likelihood that a global catastrophe will occur in the next 20 years is uncertain, say the researchers, but the potential severity means that national governments have a responsibility to their citizens to manage these types of risks.

Des Browne, former UK Secretary of State for Defence, said: “National governments struggle with understanding and developing policy for the elimination or mitigation of extreme risks, including global catastrophic risks. Effective policies may compel fundamental structural reform of political systems, but we do not need, nor do we have the time, to wait for such change.

Governments must sufficiently understand the risks to design mitigation, preparation and response measures. But political systems often do not provide sufficient incentives for policy-makers to think about emerging or long-term issues, especially where vested interests and tough trade-offs are at play.

Hat tip to knarf for this Letter to the Future:

Scientists bid farewell to the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change…

Scientists say they are bidding farewell to Okjökull, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change, in a funeral of sorts.
Researchers will gather Sunday in Borgarfjörður, Iceland, to memorialize Okjökull, known as Ok for short, after it lost its status as a glacier in 2014. The inscription, titled "A letter to the future," on the monument paints a bleak picture.
"Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and know what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it," the plaque reads in English and Icelandic.

Greenland's ice sheet just lost 11 billion tons of ice — in one day

After months of record temperatures, scientists say Greenland's ice sheet experienced its biggest melt of the summer on Thursday, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean — equivalent to 4.4 million Olympic swimming pools. 

Greenland's ice sheet usually melts during the summer, but the melt season typically begins around the end of May; this year it began at the start. It has been melting "persistently" over the past four months, which have recorded all time temperature highs…

Greenland's ice sheet is the second biggest in the world and this season's ice melt has already contributed around half a millimeter to global sea levels. It comes in a summer where the Arctic has experienced "unprecedented" wildfires, which scientists say have been facilitated by high temperatures.

A Weather Station Above the Arctic Circle Hit 94.6 Degrees Fahrenheit

 Amid the hottest month in recorded history, some records still stand out as absolutely jaw dropping. That’s definitely true of a measurement made in the Arctic this July.

According to data released in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) monthly climate analysis, a weather station in Sweden north of the Arctic Circle hit a stunning 94.6 Fahrenheit (34.8 degrees Celsius) last month. As an isolated data point, it would be shocking. But coupled with a host of other maladies, from no sea ice within 125 miles of Alaska to the unruly fires ravaging Siberia, it’s an exclamation point on the climate crisis.

The North Atlantic ocean current, which warms northern Europe, may be slowing

A stubborn blue spot of cool ocean temperatures stands out like the proverbial sore thumb in a recent NASA image of the warming world – a circle of cool blue on a planet increasingly shaded in hot red.

A region of the North Atlantic south of Greenland has experienced some of its coldest temperatures on record in recent years, a cooling unprecedented in the past thousand years. What explains that anomaly?

Climatologist Michael Mann of Penn State University, in this month’s “This is Not Cool” video, explains that this phenomenon may be an indication that the North Atlantic current, part of a larger global ocean circulation, is slowing down.


After reading the above cluster of related climate change articles, a reasonable person has little option. other than to conclude what one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion ,Roger Hallam, has concluded:

"The Public Is Now Aware That the Elites Are Taking Them To Their Death!" 
Roger Hallam's BBC interview

This interview would have never seen the light of day in the US. They'd have Tucker Carlsoned this segment quicker than you could say Rutger Bregman, and would have had Hallam's children murdered before letting this see the light of day. The interviewer for BBC HardTalk is Stephen Sackur, a choice Asshat Elite prostitute who does his Ken Dilanian best to discredit his guest and marginalize his POV. His guest Roger Hallam, one of the co-founders of Extinction Rebellion, is simply not having any of Sackur's marginalizations, and insists on telling the truth as it is, rather than the way the elites want it massaged.

Excerpt:

Stephen Sackur: So on the science there's no disagreement but are you saying that groups like Greenpeace and many many others have fundamentally failed in their mission to convince the world that things need to change?

Roger Hallam: Yes.  We fundamentally failed. I mean I failed, other activists have failed, campaigners have failed, we've all failed. The fact of
the matter is were facing mass starvation in the next 10 years,  social collapse and the possible extinction of the human race. It couldn't be worse. So that situation has come about over 30 years of failure failure by the elites, failure by the governments, and failure by 
campaigners. 

Stephen Sackur: Your message is entirely about failure, it's about negativity. It is in a way I suppose a howl of rage and despair.

Roger Hallam: That's right it is and you think that is a message that the people of the world and the political leaders of the world are going to respond to ,yes and the reason why is because when people go through depression and rage they come out and decide to do things- Extinction Rebellion is the most successful climate change movement in the UK…

  



5 questions about Donald Trump's interest in buying Greenland, answered

Amid the speculation and disbelief about Trump's trial balloon about buying Greenland, one might wonder why a US President would want to purchase an island that is 80% covered by an ice sheet, and where fewer than 60,000 people live?

The first is because Greenland is widely believed to be hugely rich in natural resources — including iron ore, lead, zinc, diamonds, gold, rare earth elements, uranium and oil. And much of it is currently untapped, due to the fact that, well, 80% of the country is covered by an ice sheet. But due to global warming, that ice sheet is melting rapidly — this summer NASA scientists observed two of the largest melts in the history of Greenland — and that erosion of the ice sheet is expected to make the mining of Greenland's natural resources more doable.

The second is for geopolitical reasons. The United States already has a foothold in the country — Thule Air Base- and, as The Wall Street Journal, which broke the Greenland purchase story, notes:

"Located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it includes a radar station that is part of a U.S. ballistic missile early-warning system. The base is also used by the U.S. Air Force Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command."

In actuality the idea is not as insane as the ravings of an unhinged lunatic might make it seem. In 1946, Truman's Secretary of State broached the idea with the Danish foreign minister at a United Nations meeting in New York to no avail. And almost 100 years before that, Secretary of State William Seward — he of the "Seward's Folly" purchase of Alaska — apparently looked into buying Greenland from the Danes. Likewise, no sale.


China Readies 'Giant Forks' To Subdue Hong Kong Protesters

Hong Kong protesters may be in for an electrifying experience after Chinese riot police were pictured training with 'terrifying giant fork devices' designed to subdue humans and pin them to the ground, according to the Mirror

While unconfirmed, the 8-foot poles with U-shaped prongs are believed to be able to deliver an electric shock.

The protests, now in their 11th week, have been alternating between the streets, subways, and airports of Hong Kong. While largely peaceful, there is a growing contingent of activists using violence and property destruction to protest the government, resulting in police tear gassings and beatings. 

On Thursday, AFP published photos showing more military buildup unfolding in Shenzen. The photos revealed what Reuters reports are hundreds of members of the People's Armed Police, a pro-regime paramilitary organization, carrying out military exercises in a stadium in Shenzen. They could be preparing to carry out demonstrations of its own in Hong Kong.

On Saturday, businesses shuttered their doors and windows in anticipation of more mayhem, however cloudy skies put an early damper on the demonstrations. 

 


 Short Takes

Since we're already over 3000 words, I'll just leave you with the assorted stories and links I collected over the week for you to follow for your amusement.

Trump officials worry warming could hurt the grid

Power Grid Chaos Jolts Texas On Friday, Energy Costs Triple Amid Heat Wave

What could possibly go wrong?

Trump to Endangered Species: Drop Dead

Every now and then in the hellacious 24-hour news cycle that is the Trump presidency, there comes a story that is so absurd and yet utterly predictable it stops me in my tracks. This is one of those stories.

Dangerous Lake Erie Algal Bloom Is Now Eight Times the Size of Cleveland

Arctic sea ice loaded with microplastics

At first glance, it looks like hard candy laced with flecks of fake fruit, or a third grader's art project confected from recycled debris. In reality, it's a sliver of Arctic Ocean sea ice riddled with microplastics, extracted by scientists from deep inside an ice block that likely drifted southward past Greenland into Canada's increasingly navigable Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans…

NC Town Rejects Solar Farm Amid Worries It Would "Suck Up All The Energy From The Sun"

You can't make this stuff up.

Exposed: State Department Official Posted in Nazi Charlottesville Chats

‘Fattest president since Taft’: Anthony Scaramucci’s Twitter account suspended after he calls out Trump

A Newsweek journalist discovered that "MAGA" means "sucker" in Nigerian

Study Finds Rise In 'Doomsday Prepping' Due To Mainstream American 'Culture Of Fear'

Climate crisis reducing land’s ability to sustain humanity, says IPCC


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone.

This Week In Doom July 14, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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                                                                                                                                                                               Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 14, 2019

“The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.” 
― Barbara W. Tuchman, The Guns of August
 


There is a steady drumbeat of madness in the air… or it is simply my pulse in my ears? It grows louder. It screams of inevitability. When I was a little boy, four or five, I distinctly recall wondering whether mine might not be the last generation to live until "the end of the world."  A singular thought for a child– but this was the age of fallout shelters and under-the-desk nuclear attack drills– all of it kabuki, but calculated to help you feel you were doing something. Lately I've had those thoughts again, unbidden after sixty years. A fear, leading up to a Third, and final, world war as pieces float into place. 

A nuclear tipped empire led by a madman drunk on vanity, enabled by a vocal, hate-brimmed minority intent on nothing so much as making Those People suffer. "Those people" mean the right people in their view– immigrants, democrats, liberals, academics, knowledge-workers, African-americans, Latinos, queers– anyone not likely to be found in a Prosperity Gospel megachurch, a Chamber of Commerce breakfast, or a Trump Klux Klan meeting. These people have always been with us. In his satirical 1922 novel about American culture, Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis observed the vacuity of middle-class life and the social pressure toward conformity in a midwestern town. To remember that a quarter of our neighbors are nazis-in-waiting, never forget that as Nixon boarded the helicopter to his ride to shame and infamy, he stood at 24 per cent approval, per Gallup.

Our media reinforces that conformity, even though we are all repeatedly told what special snowflakes we are. Corporate media holds the coat for the military-industrial complex as we push for war. All is propaganda, to "support the troops;" special camo-version uniform accents for major league sports teams; Blue Angels overflights. Relentless propaganda against the new enemy, which this month has been Iran. Unlike the Cold War that informed my childhood, our world is no longer kept “stable” through a bipolar death grip of mutually assured destruction. The mood these days seems to evoke the period prior to WWI, where no one knows how shifting diplomatic alliances will fall, when the competition was between nation states and competing economic orders rather than ideologies. Prior to WWI, the global hegemon/empire was Britain, which after being bled white by two World Wars found the costs of Empire unsupportable. The US assumed the mortgage, and in the fullness of time, we too will assume that Whiter Shade of Pale. In the runup to WWI, the unstable nutcase in the equation was Kaiser Wilhelm. In our case, the loose orange cannon has 24-7 access to our nuclear codes and a troubled path to re-election.

Here's the week:


Alex Acosta Had to Go, But the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal Is Really About Money and Privilege

Acosta took the fall in the Jeffrey Epstein debacle for his role in the disgraceful 2008 sweetheart plea deal that gave Epstein mansion "house arrest" and other perks not available to those us whose net worth is south of ione figures. But it is likely Acosta is merely the first domino.

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s resignation Friday amid the mushrooming Jeffrey Epstein investigation made him the latest in a growing list of President Trump’s Cabinet members to depart under a cloud of scandal, plunging an administration that has struggled with record turnover into further upheaval.

As a private businessman, Trump had socialized with Epstein in the early 2000s, was famously quested as saying Epstein "enjoyed his social life," but said he had a "falling out" with Epstein some 15 years ago and ended their relationship.

People who knew the hedge fund business didn't know Epstein, unusual for someone who maintained a lavish lifestyle (including his own private island) supposedly by running hedge funds. 

Real Hedge-Fund Managers Have Some Thoughts on What Epstein Was Actually Doing

Long before Epstein pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida more than a decade ago, his fellow Palm Beach resident and hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass was intrigued by the local gossip about his neighbor.

“I’m hearing about the parties, hearing about a guy who’s throwing money around,” says Kass, president of Seabreeze Partners Management. While stories about young girls swarming Epstein’s waterfront mansion and the sex parties he hosted for the rich and powerful were the talk of the town, Kass was more focused on how this obscure person, rumored to be managing billions of dollars, had become so wealthy without much of a track record.

Kass was well-connected on Wall Street, where he’d worked for decades, so he began to ask around. “I went to my institutional brokers, to their trading desks and asked if they ever traded with him. I did it a few times until the date when he was arrested,” he recalls. “Not one institutional trading desk, primary or secondary, had ever traded with Epstein’s firm.”

When a reporter came to interview Kass about Bernie Madoff shortly before that firm blew up in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, Kass told her, “There’s another guy who reminds me of Madoff that no one trades with.” That man was Jeffrey Epstein….

…there is much skepticism among the hedgies Intelligencer spoke with that Epstein made the money he has — and he appears to have a lot, given a lavish portfolio of homes and private aircraft — as a traditional money manager.  A fund manager who knows well how that kind of fortune is acquired notes, “It’s hard to make a billion dollars quietly.” Epstein never made a peep in the financial world.

More in this excellent article from The Intelligencer at the link.

Some have observed that we've seen the like of Epstein before. I think not. While indulging his taste for pedophilia, Epstein has for all intents and purposes run a honeypot operation spanning decades, and including high rollers and the odd president or two. The contents of Epstein's "little black book" is worth billions. Acosta said he was waved off in the 2008 plea deal, having been told that Epstein "belonged to intelligence." Whose intelligence, no one is saying. 

As Douglas Kass said in the quote above, "It's hard to make a billion dollars quietly." Yet no one in hedge find circles knew of him, had traded with him, or knew anyone who had. Yet someone was paying for his lifestyle. Billionaires and politicos buying decades of silence?


A Twitter post by one Quantian that lays out a likely scenario for Epstein's scheme that ticks off all that we know to be true. If is worth a read, on Threadreader here and on Twitter, if you'd rather.


It mat be that Epstein is not a garden variety pedo. He ran a network supplying children– not "young women," as the media spinners might put it– for high rollers and the connected. Whether or not we will ever know the "truth," or what passes for it, remains very doubtful. We've seen this act before– remember the Franklin affair and cover-up? Those bastards literally got away with murder. the investigators got steamrollered with money, and even the FBI got involved on the part of those accused: they managed to stop a John Walsh America’s Most Wanted series which featured the Franklin case. Most charges were dismissed. So those seeking justice may be disappointed, but before the charges are dismissed, some of the names in Epstein's famous "little black book" may do some summertime sweating. The root issue is the workings of the American class system. From Franklin, Nebraska to New York City and "St. Jeff's Island," we see the the manner in which people of great wealth and high social standing are often able to purchase their own flavor of justice, regardless of how flagrant or hideous their crimes may be.  Judges, prosecutiors, and juries often genuflect before a high enough pile of cash.


Savage tick-clone armies are sucking cows to death; experts fear for humans. 
Spreading invasive tick spawns without mating and can transmit deadly disease.
Ravenous swarms of cloned ticks have killed a fifth cow in North Carolina by exsanguination—that is, by draining it of blood—the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned this week….

The tick—the Asian longhorned tick, or Haemaphysalis longicornis—was first found terrorizing a sheep in New Jersey in 2017 and has established local populations in at least 10 states since it sneaked in. Its invasive sweep is due in large part to the fact that a single well-fed female can spawn up to 2,000 tick clones parthenogenetically—that is, without mating—in a matter of weeks. And unlike other ticks that tend to feast on a victim for no more than seven days, mobs of H. longicorni can latch on for up to 19 days.

The state government is North Carolina no longer maintains any capability to respond to this type of new public health threat – the Republicans who took control of the state legislature in 2010 eliminated the  Public Health Pest Management Section — which included the state’s tick control and research programs — in their 2011 budget.


Trump backs away from census citizenship question, orders agencies to hand over citizenship information to Commerce

President Donald Trump retreated from his quest to add a question about US citizenship to the 2020 census on Thursday, instead asking government agencies to provide records that could determine a head-count of citizens without polling census-takers directly. 

The turnaround comes after Trump repeatedly said he would continue fighting to insert the question despite a Supreme Court ruling that dealt a blow to the effort last month. It reflects legal reality intersecting with Trump's desire to bolster his image as an immigration hard-liner as he moves ahead with his 2020 reelection bid.

Some type of direct action by Trump had been one of several avenues explored by the administration to place the question on the population survey following the late June Supreme Court ruling. 

The Trump administration initially announced printing would go forward without the citizenship question. Government attorneys had asserted to the courts that the printing process — either with or without the question — needed to begin on July 1 to avoid extra costs.


Top 1% Up $21 Trillion. Bottom 50% Down $900 Billion.
Stop the Presses: The rich get richer.

Every quarter, the Federal Reserve puts out the Financial Accounts (aka “Z1” or “Flow of Funds”), which provide economy-wide aggregates for nearly every kind of asset and liability there is. Every three years, they put out the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), which is a household survey that records many of the same kinds of assets and liabilities that are in the Financial Accounts. In a perfect world, the assets and liabilities in the SCF would sum up to the aggregates in the Financial Accounts, but for various reasons they do not.

Recently, the Federal Reserve released a new data series called the Distributive Financial Accounts, which combine the Financial Accounts and the SCF to provide quarterly estimates of the distribution of wealth in America that do sum to the aggregates in the Financial Accounts. The series goes back to 1989, the first year the modern SCF was administered and runs to the fourth quarter of 2018, the last quarter for which there is Financial Accounts data.

The insights of this new data series are many, but for this post here I want to highlight a single eye-popping statistic. Between 1989 and 2018, the top 1 percent increased its total net worth by $21 trillion. The bottom 50 percent actually saw its net worth decrease by $900 billion over the same period…

What the final product reveals is a 2018 where the top 1 percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing, meaning they have more debts than they have assets. This follows from 30 years in which the top 1 percent massively grew their net worth while the bottom half saw a slight decline in its net worth.


By 2050, many world cities will have weather like they’ve never seen, new study says

The price of climate denial will be paid. Gardeners already know that growing zones have moved steadily northward during our lifetimes, and that temps keep getting hotter as glaciers at both poles melt and sea levels rise, and storms come earlier and with greater force and water load. Tropical Storm Barry this week was an early preview.

CLIMATE FORECAST FOR 2050: New York City winters will have the weather of today’s Virginia Beach, damp and cold London will be hot and dry like Barcelona, wet Seattle will be like drier San Francisco, and Washington D.C. will be more like today’s Nashville but with even greater variation in temperatures and precipitation. Those predictions are according to the first global analysis of how some cities’ climate conditions will shift under climate change.

“We wanted to know what’s the most conservative estimate of what the climate will be for 520 major cities in 2050,” said Tom Crowther, a researcher at ETH Zürich, and senior author of the study published today in the peer-reviewed science journal PLOS ONE.

“The changes we found are huge,” Crowther says in an interview.

Generally speaking, cities in the Northern Hemisphere will have the climates cities more than 620 miles to their south have today, he said.

There are no good pairings or analogues for more than 22 percent of the world’s major cities—those with one million or more people currently, researchers found. Those 115 cities, including Washington and 16 other U.S. cities, will have unprecedented climate conditions by 2050 compared to what they saw in 2000, the baseline for the study.

That doesn’t mean that Washington will be hotter than Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, today. It means that there is no current match for the wide climate variations in temperatures, seasonality, and precipitation the city will experience, said Crowther.

The vast majority of the 115 cities that will experience “novel” climates are in the tropics and include metropolises like Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Rangoon, and Singapore. Changes in tropical cities will be less in terms of temperature increases, but will be dominated by more frequent extreme precipitation events and the severity and intensity of droughts.

“The fate of major tropical cities remains uncertain as many will experience unprecedented climate conditions,” the study concludes.


Earth's Ancient Life Forms Are Awakening After 40,000 Years in Permafrost

Researchers in a warming Arctic are discovering organisms, frozen and presumed dead for millennia, that can bear life anew. These ice age zombies range from simple bacteria to multicellular animals, and their endurance is prompting scientists to revise their understanding of what it means to survive.

"You wouldn't assume that anything buried for hundreds of years would be viable," said [evolutionary biologist Catherine} La Farge, who researches mosses at the University of Alberta.

In 2009, her team was scouring Teardrop's margin to collect blackened plant matter spit out by the shrinking glacier. Their goal was to document the vegetation that long ago formed the base of the island's ecosystem.

"The material had always been considered dead. But by seeing green tissue, "I thought, 'Well, that's pretty unusual'," La Farge said about the centuries-old moss tufts she found.

She brought dozens of these curious samples back to Edmonton, lavishing them with nutrient-rich soils in a bright, warm laboratory. Almost a third of the samples burst forth with new shoots and leaves.

"We were pretty blown away," La Farge said. The moss showed few ill effects of its multi-centennial deep-freeze.

Russian teams working on a similar project have reanimated nematodes from over 40,000 years ago:  the most complex creatures ever revived after a lengthy deep freeze. What else could be buried in the Arctic deeps awaiting reanimation? And what could possibly go wrong?


Global clean-energy spending is plummeting

Worldwide funding of clean-energy projects fell to its lowest level in six years, in a staggering blow to the battle against climate change.

The findings: BloombergNEF found that global investments in solar, wind, and other clean energy sources added up to $117.6 billion during the first half of 2019, a 14% decline from the same period last year and the lowest six-month figure since 2013.
China saw a 39% drop in investments, as the nation eases up on its aggressive solar subsidies to get costs under control. But spending also declined 6% in the US and 4% in Europe, part because of policies that are being phased out and weak demand for additional energy generation in mature markets.

The big picture: The new report suggests last year’s slowdown in renewable-energy construction has extended into 2019, taking the world in exactly the wrong direction at a critical time (see “Global renewables growth has stalled—and that’s terrible news”).  Every major report finds that the world needs to radically accelerate the shift to clean energy to have any hope of not blowing past dangerous warming thresholds (see “At this rate, it’s going to take 400 years to transform the energy system”).

The smart money says we don't have 400 years, or even 40.


The fact is that our modern system is dependent upon petroleum, and will be for the foreseeable future. Our lives, society and economies are based on oil and petroleum byproducts.  The plastics, the supply chains that take the raw ingredients from manufacturing to retail are all dependent on petroleum and byproducts. Whether we can generate enough renewable power to replace a significangt portion. of this is arguable. . Decision makers have always known this.

We knew the potential impacts of global warming 40 years ago. Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House; Reagan had them removed, and declared, "Morning in America." Weaning a society and a world from petroleum might have been difficult enough had we summoned the will; but with the Reaganauts in charge such change was off the boards.

Today, production webs are now globally interlocked. The rise of developing nations like China and India and the Pacific Rim means that their citizens want a car in the driveway and steak on their plate just like the first world imperialists that stole their assets 100 years ago. Any attempts for the West to move to a zero emission scheme would have been rendered moot if the Third World refused to go along. Forego growth? Not likely.

So knowing this, the elites have chosen to deny climate change for as long as possible to a public too complacent to notice or make changes themselves. Once a general alarm was sounded and a tipping point of public opinion was close, they would pay lip service to environmentalism. Enter some toothless carbon-cutting deals without enforcement mechanisms, and with an action date near mid-century. Anything to keep people placated and assuming that their Governments were actually working the issue.

Use the notion of the free market meeting the problem head on once there is enough profit involved. By the time this might be viable, it'll be far too late to head off the four degrees Celsius increase, the tipping point towards full blown environmental Armageddon.

Meanwhile, TPTB maximize short term profit, and use that profit to start socially engineering the lower energy footprint, ownership-free world that the New World Order will demand. And rathole money in land, bunkers and other assets to make sure they and their progeny are prepared to survive a couple years of zombie unpleasantness, then emerge with prerogatives intact.

The exacerbated income inequality demonstrated above is just more evidence that TPTB are concentrating the wealth. It's a game we're not even aware is being played, because we're so complacent. By the time the jig is up, they will already field their own private armies in order to keep themselves and their families safe from a very pissed off population.

Two degrees rise is almost certainly baked in at this point, and because the world economic system is reliant on petroleum, there's no changing its current  direction absent a worldwide commitment, the consensus for which is notably absent. And this does not account for other hidden feed back loops within the Earth's biosphere, such as frozen methane reserves in the Arctic.

When I was young, the earth was home to 3.7 billion people. Now, 8+ billion people will all want desperately to survive what is coming. The kind of climate migrations we'll be facing will almost certainly mean nations will go to war over dwindling supplies, sources of fresh, clean water foremost among them. Look to the news out of India this week, then consider what the disappearance of glaciers will mean for the great, glacier-fed rivers of Asia. We know what the end game is, and we've known, or been able to deduce, for forty years. Nothing has changed except that time grows shorter. And I still wonder whether my generation will be the last to walk the earth as we knew it.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone.

This Month in Doom May, 2019

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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               Anthony Freda             

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 27, 2019

 “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

-Joseph Goebbels


It's been a while. So shoot me. Since I posted the last "This Week in Doom" article, I have semi-retired, meaning that I live off "Mailbox money" but answer the phone for assignments. I've discovered the joy of completing long-delayed house projects, and savored the delight of the mid-afternoon nap. Yet sometimes articles bust forth unbidden, with the explosive force of a germinating seed. So here we are, after an unseemly delay.

American Tantrum

May 2019 has been a month in which those of us who have feared that, in Yeats' words, "the center cannot hold" have had their worst fears confirmed. This week, a White House meeting supposed to herald Infrastructure Week became Tantrum Day when President Pud blew up a meeting with Pelosi and Schumer, to announce that there would be no legislation until all these damned investigations went away.

President Trump abruptly ended a meeting with Democratic leaders on Wednesday, saying he was unable to work with them on legislation following comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he was “engaged in a coverup.”…

“Instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk in to look at people who said I was doing a coverup,” Trump said, adding that he can’t work on infrastructure “under these circumstances.”

A strategy of open, contempt-filled confrontation with Congressional Democrats seems to be the re-election plan for 2020, as the tantrum shows. Thus the Obstructor-in-Chief sought ratification of all crimes past and future, all aided and abetted by a soft, fluffy and pliant Attorney General in William Barr. Trump reportedly told confidants he "finally" has "my attorney general."

The Washington Post's Greg Sargent makes the case:

Trump’s administration appears to be breaking the law to prevent the release of his tax returns, which every other president in the past 50 years has released. He is successfully leaning on his former White House counsel, Donald McGahn, to defy a congressional subpoena, even though McGahn witnessed alleged extensive obstruction of justice by the president that likely rose to criminality.

The attorney general appointed by this “most transparent president” is refusing to release the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence to Congress, even though that report is to a great extent about that foreign attack on our political system.

Related to that, the White House is claiming that Democrats have no legitimate legislative purpose in seeking those Mueller materials, even though Democrats have clearly articulated just such a purpose: to further safeguard our elections against outside attack.

For their part, congressional Dems are making worried finger-steeples and frowny faces as they dither and fail to reach consensus. Some urge impeachment, while others worry that this will be playing into Pud's hands, since he fully intends to run against the Russian collusion narrative and investigations which he has successfully reframed as "partisan." The Big Lie, repeated enough via serial tweets, amplified by Russian bots and the raging opinion-heads of State TV, may have already reached a tipping point in popular opinion. 

Meanwhile, in flyover country, Trump's base of droolers and miscreants shrieks in delight with every insult offered to non-cult members. "Drain the Swamp," one of the easily-remembered three word chants, obscures the fact that what is getting drained is wallets. A tariff is a tax, and it is US consumers and firms, not China, who are paying it. Trump's tariffs will cost Merikans $500 per household, or $62 billion.  But as long as the wrong people are offended, all's good out here in the land of funnel cakes and neck tattoos.

Trump's ability to brazen his way past law and public opinion is fruit from the poison tree planted by Antonin Scalia, David Arrington and John Yoo. During the Cheney days, this unholy trio articulated the case for the "unitary executive."  Meaning, in effect, "that if the President does it, it can't be illegal." (That sound you hear is Richard Nixon spinning in his grave.) A concept Trump is clearly riding hard. That, coupled with the Roy Cohn approach: "Tell them to go to hell," and "Who's Gonna Stop Me?"

So now we have a serial obstructor of justice claiming executive privilege for every toilet he's squatted on in order to rage-tweet, and claiming the divine right of kings.

So who's gonna stop him?


The world is doomed, according to Paul Ehrlich

No surprise that in a joint called "Doomstead Diner," you'd learn the world is doomed. It seems like yesterday, but it was in 1968 thst Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne co-wrote The Population Bomb, predicting massive starvation and civilization collapse as a result of over-population. The book, which sold more than 2 million copies and went through 20 reprints by 1971, revisited Malthus' arguments and predicted that “geometric” population growth would overwhelm the "green revolution," leading to wars, famines and societal collapse. 

The “culture wars” of the 1970s subsumed and reconfigured population issues. The Roe decision set ablaze a "pro-life" movement that thought any talk of population reduction anathema. China’s one-child policy, launched around 1980, led to human rights abuses that allowed anti–family planning conservatives to paint all population programs as the work of Satan.The politics of “morning in America” in the 1980s successfully marginalized Erhlich's message.

But his central points remain, even of the time frame was not. Global population has increased at an observably steady clip since 1968, and the United Nations projects that it will reach 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. Scientists continue to extend the warnings that Ehrlich advanced, that efforts to feed a rapidly increasing population via pesticide-intensive monoculture may backfire. We are already seeing soil depletion and the burdens of industrial pesticides on topsoil.

In an recent interview with Inddependent Australia, Ehrlich was asked how he would describe the current state of affairs:

We’re not doing anything significant to divert ourselves from the coming collapse and second not thinking hard about what the consequences of that collapse are going to be for people in rich countries. To say nothing of people in poorer countries who are already suffering. A lot of people are dying in Africa right now because of climate change.

There’s been much literature recently on the disappearance of insects. Butterflies that Anne and I worked on for years are becoming rarer and rarer.The Monarch butterfly is disappearing, lots of the birds are gone.  Some people believe we’ve lost almost half of the wildlife on the planet in the last 40 years and the rest of its going to go very fast.

Ehrlich continued:

 Climate change is going to make for a worsening migration situation raising ethical issues about how many people should be allowed to migrate from where to where and under what circumstances. 

Many scientists think we are well past the tipping point considering our accommodation of the political situation and how much carbon dioxide and methane are in the in atmosphere. 

What is so poignant in reading these discussions is the fact that everything that currently afflicts us has been made clear and abundantly known for the last 50 years. We have known, and voted for clowns who would blunt scientific evidence, change the subject, and offer cheapjack nostrums, Then, as now, the problem is the Gospel of Growth:

Growth mania is the greatest danger. It’s the hardest thing to exterminate because the so-called educated people who meet in Davos at the World Destroyers' meeting every year are absolutely dedicated to growth and more consumerism.

Let's go build another strip mall. Read the complete interview here.


Start planning for catastrophes, new EPA document says

In a story that might resonate if you found yourself in the midwest this week, or California last fall, the government says you're on your own. Earlier this month, The EPA published a 150-page document with a stark message for coping with the fallout from natural disasters across the country: start planning for the fact that climate change is going to make these catastrophes worse.

This language on how to address debris left in the wake of floods, hurricanes and wildfires is at odds with the position of Andrew Wheeler, the EPA’s current leader and a past lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry. Wheeler said in an interview with CBS last month that “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.”

How such a document emerged from the Trump EPA is truly remarkable, given tis well known hostility toward anything that asserts the climate is changing.

The group has said that of the more than 130 peer-reviewed studies published as part of the annual reviews, about 65 percent have identified the fingerprints of climate change in extreme weather events, while about 35 percent found no clear connection.

“The science has really developed in the last decade, in particular, around the influence of global warming on extreme events,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor and senior fellow at Stanford University who studies the climate system.

For starters, he said, researchers are constantly gathering more data and studying more weather events, so that the observational record has grown over time. Computing power and modeling capabilities have improved. And there also has been an “explosion of research” on the topic, as scientists have developed frameworks for better evaluating the role of climate change in specific events.

The result, he said, is a growing body of research that details how human-caused climate change is contributing to record heat, more-intense storms, more-severe flooding and other events.

The takeaway here is to be prepared, and realize disaster might come to us, and sooner than we think. And remember that when trouble hits, you're on your own.


Short Takes

Here's what happens to 'biodegradable' bags after 3 years in the sea or soil

After 3 years of being buried and submerged, 'biodegradable' and 'compostable' single-use plastic bags could still hold a full load of groceries. Single-use plastic is an oxymoron that is proving disastrous– a material that is used just once, but lasts forever, or close to it.


The US white majority will soon disappear forever

Snapping the Spine of Uncle Cracker: the white share of the U.S. population has been dropping, from a little under 90% in 1950 to 60% in 2018. It will likely drop below 50% in another 25 years. White nationalists want America to be white again. But this will never happen. America is on its way to becoming predominantly nonwhite.

Demography is destiny: births, deaths and immigration. White women have an average of 1.7 children over their lifetimes, while Latina women average 2.2. The total fertility rates of blacks, Asians and American Indians are in between. So whites have fewer births than all nonwhite groups. 

This sheds all the light necessary to display the root causes of the furious opposition to immigration and the well-funded efforts to suppress the vote. There are lies, damned lies, and those who tell you that voting doesn't matter. If you are one of those people, who endlessly compalain about the "k'rupt duopoly," take a richly deserved bow. Non-voters made Trump happen. Remember that politics is almost always the art of half a loaf, and elections aren't Christmas. Grow the fuck up.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

A Bloody Week in Doom– March 17, 2019


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Prayers for the victims in Christchurch attacks

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 17, 2019

“The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.”

 ― Antonio Gramsci  


The latest monster came to call in Christchurch, New Zealand in a story that dwarfed all others this week. I had some other ideas for what might fill this space this week, then the news from Christchurch, New Zealand, followed by the one-two punch of a Twitler emission rendered all moot. Brenton Tarrant strapped on a helmet camera, loaded a car with weapons, drove to a mosque in Christchurch and began shooting at anyone who came across his line of vision. His helmet-cam helped broadcast the act of mass terror live for the world to watch on social media. As of Sunday, the death toll had reached 50.

Tarrant thus joined the roll call of monsters alongside Stephen Paddock (Las Vegas), Anders Breivik (Norway), Robert Gregory Bowers (Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh), Omar Mateen (Pulse, Orlando), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Nikolas Cruz (Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school), Devin Patrick Kelley (Sutherland Springs church in Texas), James Holmes (Aurora), Dylann Roof (Charleston, SC), and, of course, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who kicked off the 21st century with the Columbine massacre.

In ancient Rome, an interregnum was a period between stable governments when anything might happen, and the "the blood-dimmed tide" might be loosed:  civil unrest, competition between warlords, power vacuums, wars of succession. In 1929, in such an interregnum found Italian Marxist philosopher and politician Antonio Gramsci languishing in a fascist prison, writing about the forces tearing Europe  apart. He anticipated civil unrest, war between nations and changing political fault lines.

Interestingly, it was Gramsci who gave us the term "hegemony" now in use. Hegemony is a three dollar word representing a simple idea: the coercion of smaller fish by bigger fish. When the powerful use their influence to convince the less powerful their best interest lies in doing what is actually in the best interest of the powerful, that's hegemony. When we consider the above list of overwhelmingly white terrorists with a nationalist/supremacist bent, we can see terror is one way the powerful preserve their hegemony when they feel their power begin to wane when frightened by demographic changes posed by immigration.

Trump has the sensibility of a spoiled child tearing the wings off of flies. When asked whether white nationalism has anything to do with the tragedy in Christchurch, he replied in the negative. Echoes of “good people on both sides,” a la Charlottesville. The prime minister of New Zealand indicated late Friday coming changes to New Zealand's gun laws. A striking contrast that makes one wonder how many will have to die, again and again and again, until our own politicians, beholden to the NRA and their sea of laundered rubles, are moved to similarly act.

You'll recall that when it was his time to serve in Vietnam, the self proclaimed White House tough guy came up missing like Dick Cheney and his five deferments. Chickenhawks like Cheney always find "other priorities" to service, but are eager to send the disposable sons and daughters of the poor into harm's way, because what else are they for but cannon-fodder? Real military men who have seen battle are loath to commit their fellow citizens to needless battle; but chickenhawks, untroubled by loss or nightmares, send their non-relatives readily into the Valley of Death. 

The mob-boss stylings of Citrus Caligula make a tough sound, especially when talking to the far right media like Breitbart.

Trump said: "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress … with all this investigations]—that’s all they want to do is –you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.”

When you can't bully a majority of the people and the House of Representatives into accepting your will as fiat, that is apparently vicious tactics. Especially on the part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who Trump refers to as "Nancy."

"So here’s the thing—it’s so terrible what’s happening,” Trump said before discussing his supporters. “You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay?"

Uh, not OK. This is Trump engaging in stochastic terrorism, or

the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.

Trump is actively encouraging people taking the law into their own hands, in the same way Putin has his Night Riders (see below), as Mussolini had his black shirts, and Hitler his brown shirts. The purpose is unmistakable: to be bullyboys who operate outside of the law and through violent intimidation. For the last two years we've had a president who fundamentally does not believe in democracy, and whose recent utterances show no loyalty to either the Constitution or the traditions of American governance. This IS a time of monsters. And now this: 

Trump’s Breitbart Biker Threat Came From the Putin Playbook—Then Tweet Deleted After Mosque Massacre

Trump told Breitbart there could be biker violence against leftists. It sounded even worse after Brenton Tarrant's mosque massacre manifesto called Trump "a symbol of renewed white identity." It does not get much clearer than that.

The Daily Beast Explains the Putinesque origins of Twitler's latest veiled threat: 

"They call themselves The Night Wolves, “a new kind of motorcycle club,” or, sometimes, “Putin’s Angels.” And just as much as the Orthodox Church or the military, the Wolves have become a symbol of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But the idea that they might be used as his extra-legal enforcers in times of trouble is usually implicit—embedded in their flag-waving Putinized patriotism—never really spelled out….Trump is not so subtle, however, especially when he takes his cues from the Kremlin. Leave it to him to put the potential for violent defense of his interests by a motorcycle gang front and center in the public view."

On Friday morning, as news broke of the massacre, the murderer's manifesto called Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” the Breitbart tough-guy tweet came down. Note a wider pattern of American racists and white supremacists looking to Russia for both moral and tactical support.


Charlie Warzel noted that the attack marks a grim new age of social media-fueled terrorism.

A 17-minute video of a portion of the attack, which leapt across the internet faster than social media censors could remove it, is one of the most disturbing, high-definition records of a mass casualty attack of the digital age — a grotesque first-person-shooter-like documentation of man’s capacity for inhumanity.

Videos of attacks are designed to amplify the terror, of course. But what makes this atrocity “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it, is both the methodical nature in which the massacre was conducted and how it was apparently engineered for maximum virality.

Even though Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube scrambled to take down the recording, they were no match for the speed of their users or for their algorithms which make connections for people consuming such content. In minutes, the video was downloaded and mirrored onto additional platforms, and ricocheted around the globe.

Warzel notes,

Internet users dredged up the alleged shooter’s digital history, preserving and sharing images of weapons and body armor. The gunman’s apparent digital footprint — from the rantings of a White Nationalist manifesto to his 8chan message board postings before the murders — was unearthed and, for a time, distributed into far-flung corners of the web.

The killer wanted the world’s attention, and by committing an act of mass terror, he was able to get it.

It was not the first act of violence to be broadcast in real-time. Yet this one was different because ofd the perpetrator's apparent familiarity with the darkest corners of the internet. The recording contains numerous references to online and meme culture, including name-checking a prominent YouTube personality. Tarrant knew his audience.

Tarrent's digital trail depicts a white supremacist motivation for the attack. His 87-page manifesto, for instance, is filled with layers of  commentary apparently written to specifically enrage the communities that appear to have helped radicalize the gunman in the first place. It seems he understands both the platform dynamics that allow misinformation and divisive content to spread but also the way to sow discord.

I recently came across an article by Ezra Klein who identifies an ecosphere of YouTube prophets and avatars who populate the "intellectual dark web:" The rise of YouTube’s reactionary right: How demographic change and YouTube’s algorithms are building a new right. Many right wing publishers benefit from YouTube’s algorithms to build the new right. 

YouTube’s recommendation engine follows the digital footsteps we all make. And it sees connections, not context. It knows when audiences repeatedly come together, but does not grasp why. And it predicts what they’re likely to view next. Thus are the "mainstreams" of conservative thought brought into proximity to the far right fringe.

As Klein has it,

"Many of these YouTubers are less defined by any single ideology than they are by a “reactionary” position: a general opposition to feminism, social justice, or left-wing politics."

On YouTube, tomorrow’s politics are emerging today. Tarrant noted this and made the online community work in the gunman’s favor. Our brown shirts are now digital: not only has their conspiratorial hate spread from the internet to real life, it’s also weaponized to go viral. 


Proof That White Supremacy Is an International Terrorist Threat

It stretches from Christchurch to Pittsburgh and extends out in every direction.

TOPSHOT-NZealand-crime-shooting

The always-dependable Charlie Pierce noted that Anders Breivik, the murderous white-supremacist who killed 72 people in Norway in 2011, has become one of the most significant figures in international terrorism by providing a template for the modern white-supremacist mass murderer.

From Ted Kaczynski, he borrowed the idea of publishing a manifesto. From the Columbine killers, he borrowed the idea of using both bombs and guns. And from the international white-supremacist networks, he borrowed the murderous rage and bloodthirsty rhetoric necessary to carry out acts of mass murder, and to justify his crimes through an elaborate bullshit ideological exoskeleton that he wore like body armor. He put all of this together and created the modern mode of mass political murder, one that was carried out again Thursday in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Pierce notes that Tarrant's latest manifesto

reads like a vicious form of grandiose trolling. But there seems to be little doubt that the crimes themselves speak loudly of the basic truth that this was a right-wing act of war against a target population. And, because of that, we should take the following passage very seriously. The alleged shooter called the President* of the United States "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose." 

When asked if the rise of white natonalism or white supremacy posed a rising threat around the world, Trump replied, 

“I don’t, really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.  If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”

On Sunday, Mick Mulvaney and other staffers made the rounds and insisted that Trump was "Not a White Supremacist." Which speaks volumes.

White supremacy now poses an international terrorist threat stretching from Norway to Pittsburgh, from Christchurch to Las Vegas, sharing objectives with the Night Riders or the Bikers for Trump, but better armed and more purposeful. Brownshirts used to intimidate; the new generation attacks to sow terror in targeted groups. This poses an existential threat to the very notion of liberal democracy. Today the target is Muslims; Tomorrow's target will be…?

For our purposes this week, Charlie Pierce gets the last word:

From [white supremacist terrorism] runs on a parallel track with the rise of a xenophobic rightwing nationalist politics that is conspicuously successful in a number of putatively democratic nations. Liberal democracy is under attack and, like any revolution, this one has both a respectable political front and a violent auxiliary that operates on its own imperatives. That one of those auxiliaries cites both a Norwegian mass murderer and the President* of the United States as inspiration for killing 49 people is not only evidence of the width of the threat, but also the depth of its commitment to the cause. This is the everyday al Qaeda of the angry white soul, and it's growing.

Now is the time of monsters.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Week in Doom March 4, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 4, 2019

“Everybody’s job at the Trump Org was to protect Mr. Trump. Every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something. And that’s exactly what’s happening right now in this country. It’s exactly what’s happening here in government.”

 ― Michael Cohen  


The news in doom this week was front-page headlines: the scarcely-to-be-believed spectacle of Michael Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee. This was testimony from the zip codes of the seamier sides of Manhattan and DC politics, as well as the President's inner darkness, brought into light by Trump's former fixer and goon.

Having lived through Watergate, with memory of Republicans like  Lowell Weicker and Howard Baker eventually pried loose from their defense of Nixon by events, we're now treated to the mummery of Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, who comported themselves as attack dogs bent on derailing or postponing the hearing. Then when that didn't work, they set to discrediting and smearing the witness. 

For all the fulsomeness of their attacks, it should be noted that Jim Jordan and the other Republican members of the committee didn't ask Cohen any questions about Trump. But Cohen provided plenty of answers.

As the New Yorker's John Cassidy notes, "If there has been a previous occasion when a President’s personal lawyer has testified to Congress that his client is a common crook, it has been lost to the history books."

Yet those appalled by the slavishness of the devotion by congressional Republicans need to remember that during Watergate, Republicans stood by defense of Nixon foursquare and were only pried loose by the preponderance of evidence. Republicans abandoned Nixon on the obstruction-of-justice charge only after he complied with the Supreme Court’s order on Aug. 1974, releasing the “smoking gun” tapes that proved he had ordered a cover-up of the Watergate crimes. Still, many Republicans on the Judiciary Committee later maintained that Nixon was innocent of two of the three articles of impeachment sent to the full House. Even after resignation, as Nixon got on the helicopter for what should have been his ride to richly deserved obscurity, he maintained a 24 per cent public approval rating. Even facing impeachment and disgrace with his conspiracy admitted on tape, one in four Americans still stood before "their guy." And this was before Fox News.

Cohen’s seven hours of damning testimony described his former client as “a racist,” “a cheat,” and “a con man.” And a liar who spoke in code, who would not put his mouth to the words but would encourage his subordinates to go along with the official story. 

The night before Cohen's testimony, Trump loyalist Matt Gaetz, owner of what perhaps is DC's most punchable face,  committed ‘witness tampering’ by threatening Michael Cohen via a tweet, just before he was to appear. He deleted the tweet, and may face ethics sanctions from Congress.

In the hearing  Wednesday, we got to peer behind the Trumpland curtain:  about how long the Trump Org pursued the Trump Tower Moscow project. Trump has long denied that there was a Russia deal of any type in the works. Cohen, who spent years working with Trump associate Felix Sater to put together a deal to construct Europe’s tallest building in Moscow, said of Trump:.

“He lied about it, because he never expected to win.”

We also learned Cohen said he regrets working for Trump and warns others not to. That Trump’s tax returns might show evidence of fraud. And why he fears for his family’s safety. If your name was on Cohen's lips during Wednesday's testimony, I'd assume there will be a subpoena coming to a theater or drive in near you.

For all Cohen’s record of duplicity and lying, which he repeatedly fessed up to during the hearing, this statement had the ring of genuine insider knowledge. To be sure, this was a figure who acted as Trump’s fixer and bruiser for more than ten years, and who recently pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to banks, engaging in campaign-finance violations, and lying to the last Congress. But the very things that made Cohen such a problematic witness—his closeness to Trump and his history of finagling on behalf of his boss and himself—are also what made him a compelling one. This was an account of the darkness, told from within.

Cohen implored Republican legislators to stop lying for the President as he said he had for years. They ignored him. Whether driven by perceived profit—financial or electoral—or willful belief, they would hold the line that they had adopted, facts and the public good be damned. In both hearings, one could observe the utter disintegration of politics. We've see this all before.


‘Nattering nabobs of negativism’

For those old enough to recall the events of 1973, Spiro Agnew was in many ways Trump before Trump. Agnew was a far better speechmaker and invective-slinger than the current Dodderer-in-Chief, who hijacked the stage at CPAC this past weekend.  

In Agnew Nixon chose a thoroughly corrupt running mate in 1972. The 49-year-old first-term governor of Maryland was unknown to most of the delegates at the republican convention that year — even after making the nomination speech for Nixon. Nixon may have chosen him for his lack of national profile, since he elevated Agnew past brighter party lights, including Ronald Reagan.

A friend from Maryland once told be that in Maryland, an honest politician is one who stays bought. Agnew stayed bought. He built a career on bribes and kickbacls from government contractors as Baltimore County executive and governor of Maryland. Kickbacks he received on state contracts as governor continued as vice president. He is reported to have received envelopes stuffed with cash on the White House grounds. One such payment was $10,000 in cash delivered by a Maryland contractor who dutifully was making yet another installment payment. Promises made, promises kept.

In 1973, Agnew fell under federal investigation for tax evasion, bribery, and various corrupt practices, most dating back to Agnew's days as governor of Maryland.

And the rhetoric so common now echoes that made by Agnew as he fought the charges that federal investigators brought to his particular trail of slime. Back against the wall, Agnew made slashing attacks on the press as both liberal and untrustworthy, attacking that investigation as a witch-hunt… led by politically-motivated biased malefactors inside a not-to-be-trusted Justice Department. 

Deja-vu? This was something new in American politics. A sitting occupant of the White House, under criminal investigation, trying to save himself by discrediting his own Justice Department.

Agnew also maintained that as vice president he could not be indicted — an assertion that remains untested. At the time, Justice officials were worried that if Nixon were forced from office and Agnew acceded to the presidency, he might pardon himself. Then what?

In the fullness of time, the Vice President of the United States resigned in disgrace, pleading "nolo contendere" to charges of felony tax evasion in a negotiated proceeding. Should you want to relive these events, which ran parallel for a while with the Watergate investigation, you might devote some time to Rachel Maddow's podcast Bag Man, a superbly researched seven part series.


Short Takes

The Age of Tyrannical Surveillance: We’re Being Branded, Bought and Sold for Our Data

You are the product. John Whitehead writes, 

Big Brother—aided and abetted by his corporate partners in crime—wants your data. That’s what we have been reduced to in the eyes of the government and Corporate America: data bits and economic units to be bought, bartered and sold to the highest bidder. Those highest bidders include America’s political class and the politicians aspiring to get elected or re-elected. 

Our browser searches, phones, televisions and digital devices are hoovering up our data and selling us out to whoever's paying.


Climate Change Is Here—and It Looks Like Starvation

While for some of us climate change may mean unseasonably warm weather in February,  a typhoon here, a wildfire there, another species lost, all headlines safely ignored, in the Horn of Africa, invisibly to most Western eyes, it is an existential threat playing out beyond notice of the world's press.

In Somaliland, the catastrophe of climate change has already altered everything.

…cadavers meant a village was near. Usually they started a few miles out: mainly sheep and goats, but also camels and donkeys drying to leather on the bare, red earth. The previous year, the autumn rains had failed to arrive. The spring rains didn’t come either. Everywhere people told me drought had taken as much as 90 percent of their herds—the primary form of capital in an overwhelmingly pastoral economy. And everywhere I saw people on the move: in desperate search of pasture, or, having already lost everything, of some other source of sustenance. New communities were forming on the edges of the cities, ragged camps of the displaced, once-proud herders reduced to gathering gravel for pennies a day with no prospects ahead but further loss.

Here's a look at the future. The drought has left more than 3 million people in need of humanitarian aid, By the end of the summer, nearly a million people had fled their homes.


Trump blames disagreement over sanctions for no deal

Trump and North Korea's Kim met in Hanoi to discuss further denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The talks ended abruptly, and both sides cited different reasons.

In his version of events, Trump said the deal had broken down because Kim wanted complete sanctions relief for dismantling the main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, but the US wanted other nuclear facilities, including covert sites, disabled as well.

“It was about the sanctions basically,” Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that.

The North Koreans saw it differently:

the North Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said Pyongyang had only demanded partial sanctions relief in return for closing Yongbyon. He said the US had wasted an opportunity that “may not come again”.


Is Glyphosate In Your Wine Or Beer? Skoal!

Glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup, contaminates many more foodstuffs and consumables than we can imagine, from Cheerios to beer and wine. Enough Roundup is sprayed every year to deploy nearly half a pound of glyphosate on every cultivated acre of land in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Even though Monsanto has argued for years that glyphosate is safe for humans, that finding has been successfully challenged in court. Plus, the UN’s World Health Organization [WHO] has declared glyphosate a Group 2A carcinogen.

Now about those beers:

Bottoms up!


The Ocean Is Running Out of Breath, Scientists Warn

Many years ago, I worked on a documentary about the health of the Chesapeake Bay. One of the issues affecting the successful growth of sub-aquatic vegetation, or seagrasses, was a lack of oxygen. This lack of oxygen was caused by the presence of algae, which feasted on nitrogen and phosphorus from "non-point source," or agricultural pollution runoff. No oxygen in the water, no healthy ecosystem. It seemed pretty clear.

Now, what was a localized problem has spread worldwide. Widespread and sometimes drastic marine oxygen declines are stressing sensitive species—a trend that will continue with climate change.

During the past decade, ocean oxygen levels have plummeted in an alarming trend linked to climate change, this according to Andreas Oschlies, an oceanographer at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany, whose team tracks ocean oxygen levels worldwide.

“We were surprised by the intensity of the changes we saw, how rapidly oxygen is going down in the ocean and how large the effects on marine ecosystems are."

They tell us oxygen levels in some tropical regions have dropped by a startling 40 percent in the last 50 years.

One wonders if the headlines cold get worse. But not for long because they always do.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Week in Doom February 26, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Anthony Freda               

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 26, 2019

"I am dreaming of a way to kill every last person on earth"

 ― Christopher Paul Hasson, white nationalist domestic terrorist  


Last week was really a week for doom-related news!

Bernie Sanders checked in to a 2020 presidential bid, Karl Lagerfeld checked out. Big week in sex crimes, as the Pope presided over a summit on clerical abuse at the Vatican, Patriots owner Robert Kraft endured his second deflated-balls episode when he was charged with soliciting prostitution as part of a sex trafficking sting in a Florida spa, and singer R. Kelly was arrested for sex with underaged girls. California led 16 states in lawsuit against Trump's spurious emergency declaration, Republicans finally found an example of "voter fraud" when North Carolina ordered a new U.S. House election after a vote 'tainted' by corruption…by Republicans. Roger Stone got slapped with a gag order for posting a picture of the presiding judge in his case with crosshairs. Shooting started in Venezuela as the closed the border with Colombia..

But we're not going to review the headlines, because no matter how much havoc is being wreaked by Trump, his minions, and his adoption of the neocon agenda in Venezuela, there are real existential threats to review. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and food supply, and an active duty white nationalist and would-be mass-murderer/ Trump avenger focus the attention elsewhere. 


But We Can't Be Out of Food: We Still Have Chips

One of the common themes the weird rest of this franchise is that collapse is already here. We are living through a slow-motion collapse in terms of climate, biodiversity, and threats to our way of life that simply does not conform to our limited attention spans or are readily observable timeframe.Common Dreams published a summary of a first-of-its kind report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).highlighting the rapid, widespread loss of many of the world's plant and animal species. This poses a direct threat to the food supply of human beings.

What we often fail to realize is that our farming practices, especially industrial agriculture,  is a monoculture reliant on a very small subset of foods. Currently only nine crops account for 66 percent of total crop production, according to FAO. 

"Our forests are shrinking. As they disappear so do the plants, insects, and animals they host…Now is the time to act."

They breathlessly announced that,"This should be at the top of every news bulletin and every government's agenda around the world." But since we hear it all the time, we tend to yawn, check our watches, and change the channel. But here is the nut of the report:

According to FAO's study of 91 countries around the world, the loss of thousands of plant and animal species is affecting air and water quality, tree and plant health, and worsening the spread of disease among livestock—all with dangerous implications for the human population and humans' food sources.

"Less biodiversity means that plants and animals are more vulnerable to pests and diseases. Compounded by our reliance on fewer and fewer species to feed ourselves, the increasing loss of biodiversity for food and agriculture puts food security and nutrition at risk," said Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO's director-general.

It gets worse. FAO blames changes in land and water management, pollution, the warming and the ongoing climate crisis as factors for a catastrophic loss of biodiversity.

Out of 6,000 plant species that can be cultivated for food, fewer than 200 are used significantly as food sources. Where countries, particularly in the third world, lose wild or native food sources, they rely more heavily on industrially-processed foods. Which provides vibrant export market opportunities for Midwestern agribusiness interests. What a coincidence. It's a miracle.

Reports like this come in, and we read them, rub our collective chins, and wonder what is to be done. But as long as Harris Teeter remains open down the road, we're not really out of food, in the same way that if I still have checks, I can't possible be out of money.


The Inconvenient Truth of Modern Civilization’s Inevitable Collapse

Xraymike is back after a long hiatus, with an article entitled, The Inconvenient Truth of Modern Civilization’s Inevitable Collapse. And he wastes no time in getting directly to the point:

Today’s global consumption of fossil fuels now stands at roughly five times what it was in the 1950s, and one-and-half times that of the 1980s when the science of global warming had already been confirmed and accepted by governments with the implication that there was an urgent need to act.

He points out that the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the last four also being the top warmest years, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Global warming leads directly to Ice loss. In Antarctica ice loss has sextupled since the 1970s and Greenland’s pace of ice loss has increased fourfold since 2003. As the Arctic warms, new commerce comes to the top of the world. The Arctic Ocean has lost 95% of its old ice and total volume of ice. But opportunity knocks, for business and tourism.

Meanwhile microplastics enter the food supply with unknown effects. showing up even in Arctic birds. And these are the plastics too small to be seen. The plastic crap large enough to be seen is a different story:

There are five massive oceanic gyres filled with pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other human detritus; one of the these gyres, named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is three times the size of France and growing exponentially.

And of course governments are ill-equipped to do anything about it, because who runs the government? Also, extractive industries pay for well-funded climate disinformation campaigns, and the prevaricator in chief has made his business to put his tiny, if meaty, thumb on the scale.

At a time when compassion, cooperation, and scientific reasoning are needed to deal with the multiple crises we face, politicians are instead conjuring up xenophobia, racism, and conspiracy theories. As inequality grows and the once-stable climate continues to unravel, expect the super-rich to barricade themselves behind heavily fortified mansions while treating climate refugees and the most vulnerable among us with extreme prejudice.

Migration from Latin America is near a 40-year low. But we still intend to build "that big beautiful wall," otherwise known as "the last Confederate monument," an erection dedicated to xenophobia and white rage. And to reelection in 2020. 

There is more in this article, which is well worth the read, but let's just have Xraymike bottom-line this for you:

Humans recognized decades ago the threats they are now facing, yet nothing was done due to political inaction and industry malfeasance which continues to this very day. The scientists who wrote The Limits to Growth decades ago were expecting our political institutions to take action back in the 1970s, but they were met with ridicule and now we stand at the doorstep of modern civilization’s collapse. Political inaction and regulatory capture by the fossil fuel industry appear to be intractable barriers that have condemned the human race to a hellish future. Anyone waiting for some sort of seminal climate change event that is going to galvanize the world’s leaders into action will be tragically disappointed. If seeing the world’s coral reefs dying, its glaciers disappearing, permafrost melting, and the steady uptick in extreme weather and wildfire events does not spur them to action, it is much too late to hope that any single event will ever do so.

The point being that, in terms of "collapse," we are well and truly in it, and there is little to be done about it, because the time for action has passed. And now here's Tammy with the weather.


Arrested Coast Guard Officer Allegedly Planned Attack 'On A Scale Rarely Seen'

A 49-year-old Coast Guard lieutenant charged with stockpiling weapons and drugs is described as a "domestic terrorist" planning "to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country." But since terrorists in the post-truth era are never white, that story is pushed out of the news cycles by the tale of Jussie Smollett and his self inflicted hate crime, prompting release of the already-written stories that, see racial violence really doesn't exist in the United States. The families of Philando Castile, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner were not immediately available for comment.

This guy was planning to unleash a version of hell rarely seen outside of the Middle East. Court documents filed in the case indicate Christopher Paul Hasson espoused extremist and white supremacist views for years — aspiring to establish a "white homeland" — and say he is a "domestic terrorist bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect government conduct," including leading democrats and media figures.

Hasson, a self-described white nationalist living in Silver Spring, Md., was amassing firearms since at least 2017, while cultivating plans to launch a widespread attack on prominent Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and several high-profile television anchors from MSNBC and CNN.

"I am dreaming of a way to kill every last person on earth," Hasson wrote in a draft email dated June 2, 2017, that was uncovered by investigators. He researched the most effective methods to "cause complete destruction" by unleashing a biological attack on the public, followed by contamination of food supplies. He compiled a hit list including Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, Beto O'Rourke, Van Jones, don Lemon and Joe Scarborough.

Investigators said Hasson conducted online searches that included “what if trump illegally impeached” and “civil war if trump impeached” after accessing computer files at his suburban Maryland home, according to Politico. He was apparently ready to spring into action to foment such a war.

"Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch. … They will die as will the traitors who actively work toward our demise."

For all of this, the story is slipping into the memory hole despite many unanswered questions about Hasson and his racist goals. Yet few in the media aside from Arizona sites, where Hasson had local ties, are continuing to cover this apparent case of domestic white terrorism. An internet search on Feb. 26 revealed no updates outside of Arizona.


Warren Buffett Does Doom

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, the "Sage of Omaha," released his annual letter to shareholders. It is an optimistic letter in which he credits "the American tailwind" for BH's successes. He defends stock buybacks; he acknowledges the massive write-down from Kraft Heinz; and he addresses government debt and deficits while also taking a jab at gold-touting doomsayers. But almost as an aside, while assessing risks in insurance business, he warned about,"the big one." That would be some major catastrophe, fueled by climate change, that would cause economic losses in the trillions of dollars.

"When such a megacatastrophe strikes, we will get our share of the losses and they will be big — very big."

Buffett says the catastrophe may take the form of a natural disaster or could be something more surprising, like a cyber attack. But Buffett says Berkshire Hathaway "will be looking to add business the next day."


As Yellowstone Awakens, Dr. Michio Kaku Warns That It Could "Literally Tear The Guts Out Of The USA"

If things ever get too quiet around the collapsosphere, you can always rely on Yellowstone. That seismic mess continues to bubble under the earth's surface, and can always portend catastrophe on a slow news day. Michael Snyder tells us via Zero Hedge that scientists assure us that one day the absolutely massive Yellowstone supervolcano will once again experience a Category 8 eruption, and if it happened today it would “literally tear the guts out of the United States of America.” That is why what has been happening at Yellowstone in recent months is so alarming.

We know that the ground has been rising and that “a 465-mile-long piece of molten rock” is moving upwards directly under Yellowstone.  And we also know that the major geysers at Yellowstone were more active last year than in any other year in any of our lifetimes.  Are these signs that an eruption is coming?  We better hope not, because as Dr. Michio Kaku recently told Fox News, there is “a sleeping Godzilla underneath Yellowstone”

The image of a slumbering Goliath ready to rip apart the US is always good to stoke fear. Kaku posits that the Yellowstone caldera would not blow all at once, that we'd get a warning. But what if we have already received warnings, and are sleeping through them?

Steamboat geyser erupted more times in 2018 than in any other year in history.  The following comes from National Geographic

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory reports that Steamboat has now set a record by erupting a whopping 32 times in 2018, a personal best for the geyser for a single calendar year. Previously, this geyser made it as high as 29 paroxysms back in 1964.

Prior to last year, there had not been an eruption of the Steamboat geyser for three and a half years.

It is indeed possible that when Yellowstone finally erupts that we will get more of a warning than this.  But it is also possible that we will not.

If Yellowstone blows, life as we have known it would instantly be over.  Snyder estimates that "the immediate kill zone," or Zone 1, a radius of 100 miles, could see 70,000 people die instantly. Zone two, which starts after 100 miles, would be covered in 10ft of volcanic ash at 450C. After the second zone, one's chances of surviving increase, but would still find people heading east on impossibly clogged roads..

Is Yellowstone likely to blow this week or the next? No. Snyder suggests that Mt. Rainier and Mt. Fuji are better candidates. Such handwringing can sell books if you have them on offer, as Snyder does. But for those people who wish to imagine collapse around a single life-changing event, you could do much worse than a category eight super volcano erupting out of Yellowstone. But not this week.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

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