AuthorTopic: The Surlynewz Channel  (Read 549207 times)

Offline Surly1

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Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Reply #3465 on: September 25, 2018, 06:19:54 PM »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: We're Not Laughing WITH You, We're Laughing AT You...
« Reply #3466 on: September 26, 2018, 11:37:05 AM »
Trump opens his speech at the United Nations, "In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more {OF THE REGRESSIVE NEO-CON AGENDA} than almost any administration in the history of our country..."
See, that's the part that Trump forgot to mention.... and it makes his statement absolutely true.
Making pigs fly is easy... that is, of course, after you have built the catapult....

Offline Surly1

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The resistance to Donald Trump is not what you think
« Reply #3467 on: September 29, 2018, 07:22:39 AM »
The resistance to Donald Trump is not what you think



There is no unified, hierarchical group on the periphery trying to overthrow the U.S. government. There are only regular people, in every city, hoping for better, and trying to rescue the America they once knew

SARAH KENDZIOR
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY BRYAN GEE/THE GLOBE AND MAIL (SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Sarah Kendzior is the author of The View From Flyover Country and the co-host of the podcast Gaslit Nation.

On Sept. 18, California Representative Devin Nunes, a Donald Trump loyalist best known for his attempt to obstruct federal investigations into Russia, bemoaned the activists of his own state. “It’s such a pain now to go to these political events,” he told a private meeting of screened supporters. “It makes it very different to even move around the valley or anywhere else, because everywhere you go, you have this resistance movement.”

From the moment Mr. Trump took office in January, 2017, immediately prompting the largest protest in U.S. history, the resistance has been an object of derision, with the term co-opted by politicians and propagandists soon after it emerged as a popular hashtag. In the past few months, Mr. Trump has slammed the resistance as a creation of Senate Democrats, an anonymous alleged White House official claimed in a New York Times op-ed to be a member of an internal resistance carrying out its own autocratic coup and so-called alt-right imposters have claimed the resistance mantle along with countless bots.

This cynical portrayal of the resistance is unrecognizable to the Americans organizing for change on the ground. Most people are too busy protecting their fellow Americans to engage with smarmy pontification on what the resistance is. This dichotomy between media caricature and lived reality often reflects the gulf between the U.S. pundits (mostly white, wealthy conservative men based on the coasts) and Americans who disapprove of Mr. Trump, which currently comprises 60 per cent of the population and whose broadly dispersed activism is dominated by women.

There is not, and has never been, a unified, hierarchical resistance in the United States – nor should there be. There are simply millions of Americans who know they deserve better. It is less a resistance than an insistence that privileged impunity will no longer stand. If there is a unifying theme, it is against corruption – a rallying cry for white-collar crime to finally be punished, a repudiation of policies that steal from the poor to line the pockets of predators. There are those who rage at senators who wish to promote a man repeatedly accused of sexual assault to the highest court in the country. That is not normal, and the resistance – regular people who ask for simple checks and balances on power – won’t stop fighting against it.

In the Trump era, fundamental American values – a government of, by and for the people; a republic with liberty and justice for all – have been redefined as radical demands. As I wrote in this newspaper in March, 2017, “What is now called resisting is often Americans simply helping others: a concept so alien to the Trump administration that it is labelled as subversive.” Little has changed since then except the scope of the problems. Questions that would have once seemed hyperbolic or absurd – is America becoming an autocracy, a theocracy, a Russian proxy state? – are now reasonable.

But the cavalcade of crises and lack of unilateral leadership has led some to label the resistance – and by extension, the Democrats – as disorganized or failing. This characterization is odd given the scale of political participation since Mr. Trump took power. Both 2017 and 2018 were marked by massive nationwide demonstrations: women’s rights in January, gun control in March, immigrant and refugee rights in June. Protesters numbered in the millions, more than during the Vietnam War, yet their efforts often did not make the front pages of American papers. The year 2018 was also marked by special elections and primaries with record-high turnout, with some districts Mr. Trump won now voting Democrat.

There is a sense that the midterms mark the end of something – maybe Mr. Trump’s unchecked domination over American political life; maybe the American experiment itself. The fact that we don’t know which imbues every day with as much heaviness as hope.

Jan. 21, 2017: Protesters rally in Washington for the Women's March the day after Mr. Trump's inauguration.

RUTH FREMSON/THE NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

June 30, 2018: Monserrat Padilla, left, puts her arm around Aurora, an undocumented immigrant, as Aurora speaks to several thousand demonstrators gathered outside the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac to protest against the separation of families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

GENNA MARTIN/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Sept. 27, 2018: Protesters gather in front of the Supreme Court during a confirmation hearing where Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, testified to the Senate judiciary committee.

JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

JANUARY: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

Americans are still contending with the psychic shift brought on by the seemingly rapid decline of their democratic institutions. In 2017, democracy was defenestrated through the Overton window, as an administration run on alternative facts attacked the very concept of truth. The brazen lawlessness and audacious corruption of the Trump administration shocked many, but less so the residents in my state of Missouri, where decades of dark money and dramatic political strife had long prepared citizens for the worst.

“Do you think Greitens will resign?” the woman in St. Louis asked hopefully. She was referring to our governor, Republican Eric Greitens, who was under investigation for allegedly tying a half-naked woman up in his basement and blackmailing her with photos. The allegations against Mr. Greitens, which also included illicit financial activity, were just the latest disaster for Missouri, which since the arrival of an extremist GOP legislature in 2017 had seen the minimum wage lowered, the NAACP give a warning that the state was too racist for black people to visit, and a law passed making it legal for employers to fire women who used birth control.

“Anything is possible here,” I said – the standard answer to all questions Missouri, where the unfathomable happens every day. The hardship of Missouri life, now worsened by the arrival of Mr. Greitens and Mr. Trump, was why this activist and her friends – all middle-aged and older women – had written more than 100,000 postcards to prospective Missouri voters, informing them of election dates, polling places, and relevant candidates and issues. They do this while gathering in suburban homes, eating homemade pie. They hand-write the postcards so that voters know someone cared enough about them to take the time. They do this because they love their state and they want the people in it to have better, fairer lives.

They do it because anything is possible in Missouri – and as the year went on, and Mr. Greitens resigned, and Missouri voter turnout in August soared, and officials such as prosecutor Bob McCulloch of the Ferguson events got voted out, and a terrible anti-labour law was rejected, they texted me their excitement, and I texted back my gratitude.

May 29, 2018: Missouri's then-governor, Eric Greitens, reads from a prepared statement as he announces his resignation at the state legislature in Jefferson City, Mo.

JULIE SMITH/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

FEBRUARY: NO RIGHTS TAKEN FOR GRANTED

My friend, a professor in the anthropology department where I was set to give a lecture, told me I was coming right before the neo-Nazis were scheduled to arrive. The University of Tennessee in Knoxville had become, like other American universities, a recruiting ground for white supremacists who market their hate speech as bold “free speech” to the student body.

As one of few black professors on campus – and as an American with a conscience – my friend was disgusted with both their arrival and the tepid response of university administrators, who had disregarded pleas to prioritize the needs of black students over those of violent white supremacists, such as the Traditionalist Worker Party. Instead, their arrival was treated as an abstract debate over free speech. Later, in his class on the North Atlantic slave trade, my friend drew a link between the passive voyeurism of whites toward black suffering in prior centuries and their enablers today.

He introduced me to an older black professor, an expert in German history, who remarked that she could not believe the twin focuses of her studies – foreign fascism and American racism – had so aggressively converged in the city she called home. Nothing could be taken for granted now, including and especially white support for the black students and professors targeted by violent white supremacists. This was a theme I heard over and over throughout 2018 from veterans of the 1960s civil-rights movement, from Holocaust survivors, from refugees from authoritarian states. There is a drumbeat they can hear, one that seems inaudible to some ears rendered deaf through denial and a deficit of empathy.

Months later, as Steve Bannon began to appear in prestigious media outlets again, I would think of these black professors in Tennessee and their attempts to highlight the unhealed scars of history, and the callousness of elites who treat white supremacists as intellectual contrarians. I thought about my final day in Knoxville, when I went with my friend and his family to services in a black church, a refuge for the targeted, and prayed with and for them.

Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been vandalized twice, in 2016 and 2018.

MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS

APRIL: THE VIEW FROM THE COASTS

Every time I leave St. Louis for a wealthy coastal city, I feel like Katniss in The Hunger Games leaving District 12 for the Capitol. It’s not a feeling I had much before 2008, but the recession had created such an enormously unequal recovery that it was noticeable in ways beyond sticker shock. “Your billboards sell things,” I said in wonder to an L.A. friend driving me down the busy Sunset Strip, where products and TV shows were advertised instead of drug rehabs or Jesus or simply blank space. I was on a tour for my book, about the collapse of institutions after the recession; I wondered if anyone would relate to what I was saying.

As it turned out, they did: The audiences in Los Angeles and New York were as concerned about the decline of democracy and erosion of rights as people back in St Louis. They had their own economic plight, better hidden; gentrification instead of abandonment; debt instead of deprivation. They had their own sleazy politicians. Their perception of progressivism was skewed by living in solidly blue states, where the question was not whether politics would move to the left but how far to the left it could go, but they organized in much the same way activists in Missouri did, and their efforts received similarly little attention from the national media. Once again, the bulk of activists I met were women.

In the entertainment capitals of the United States, they knew Mr. Trump well – he was a familiar con, particularly to older New Yorkers who could not understand why their local newspapers, which had exposed his financial misdeeds with such ferocity in the 1980s and 1990s, now covered up for him instead of covering him. The Midwest may have bottomed out disproportionately after the recession, but media was New York’s own gutted economy, with Mr. Trump its prime beneficiary. On both coasts, people encouraged me to keep calling him out from St Louis. “Maybe you’re immune,” a woman I met at a New York reading surmised. “Trump owns the media here, but he can’t find Missouri on a map. You’re free!”

June 18, 2018: Immigrant children are led by staff in single file between tents at a detention facility next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Tex. Stories and images of children being separated from their families galvanized anger against the Trump administration this past summer.

MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS

JUNE: THE LINES HAVE BEEN CROSSED

I am used to talking about horrifying subject matter in public. Before I covered American decline, I covered authoritarian states and served as an expert witness for asylum seekers from Uzbekistan in court. I am used to discussing torture and oppression without crying. That ended the day the Trump administration snatched migrant children from their parents and put them in camps.

I was on stage in Portland when the first photos of the camps emerged, along with new and horrifying details. I stared out into an audience of, once again, mostly women, who had gathered to hear me and another speaker talk about autocracy and resistance. “When a government targets children, when it targets infants, when it will take a baby that’s breastfeeding away from its mother as she screams, there is nothing that this government will not do,” I started to say, and my voice broke, because something inside me had broken. The Trump administration had crossed a threshold in its blatant, publicized cruelty to children. I explained that usually when an authoritarian government does something this cruel, they want to cover it up, but not here. I explained that this indicated even worse horrors to come.

There are lines the Trump administration crossed – in Charlottesville, in Helsinki and at the Texas border – that I sometimes feel I must have imagined, because the vile predilections of the administration were so deliberately paraded – the embrace of violent white supremacy, the allegiance to the Kremlin, the dehumanization of migrants that feels like a prelude to genocide – yet the reaction was so limited. Many people in politics and media continued to discuss the administration as if it were like any other, with palace intrigue tales and horse-race election coverage. The audience in Portland was different. They cared and wanted to know what to do, and the usual answers came: support lawyers helping the families, publicize the atrocities, vote for representatives who will take on the administration. All of those things are still important.

But there’s a kind of horror that shakes you to your core, when you start believing in the devil because of what you witness, and in hell because you want comfort. Sometimes all you are left with is grief, and you hope that within that grief people find resolve. It didn’t matter where I was that day, because my mind was locked in the horrors of history, on how few people it takes to do irreparable harm to so many.

“How do you maintain hope?” an audience member asked me at the end of the talk. This is another question I get asked everywhere I go. I told her that I don’t believe in hope and I don’t believe in hopelessness; I believe in compassion and pragmatism. Hope can be lethal when you are fighting an autocracy. Hope is inextricable from time, and as anyone who has studied the entrenchment of dictators knows, the longer they stay in, the harder it is to get them out. Every day passed is damage done.

And there is probably no one who knows that more than the migrant parents who lost their children to the Trump administration, who spend every day wondering how their child is growing and changing without them – if their child is even alive. Time has always been the enemy, and hope its cruel accomplice. Learn from the past, fight for the future, but live the present not with hope, but with rage. Rage, unlike hope, knows no timeline.

LATE JUNE: THIS IS NOT A WAY OF LIFE AT ALL

Throughout 2018, I visited nearly half the states in the United States, in part because of my book, in part to give talks at colleges, and in part because I’m a Missouri mom who likes to travel, which means driving with the kids to wherever I can use a national parks pass.

“I’m on a ‘Farewell to America’ tour,” I’d tell people, as if it was a joke, but everything felt too fragile for this to be funny.

At the end of the month, my family drove out west to see national parks, the status of which has been threatened since Mr. Trump took office. Since the inauguration, national parks and historic sites seem newly vulnerable to destruction or desecration, making it seem important for my kids to see them with their own eyes, and not mine. I want my children to have their own memories of the United States, so that if they’re confronted with a false version decades from now, they can say, “No, I saw it. We had that. This was real. That America was real.”

We drove from Missouri to Utah’s Canyonland and Arches, and headed back through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, smoke from wildfires fading in the rear-view mirror, and onto the Kansas highway. On June 30, mass protests were held across the United States as Americans demanded that the migrant families be reunited. They were everywhere, in every region, in cities and small towns. We listened to them on the radio as we drove through western Kansas, in one of the few regions with no demonstrations, due more to its low population than its political predilections.

When we got to Abilene in eastern Kansas, we stopped at the childhood home and museum of president Dwight Eisenhower. Presidential libraries are another thing I’ve been taking my children to see, for fear of their eventual destruction. As George Orwell famously said, those who control the past control the future, and I want my children to see the past before it is gone.

Eisenhower’s tomb is in Abilene. Engraved on its wall is a quote from his 1953 speech “The Chance for Peace.” It says: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed…This is not a way of life at all…Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

I don’t get sentimental about presidents; it is healthier, in a democracy, to see and judge them as public servants with a mix of virtues and flaws. But the gulf between the present and the era of Eisenhower’s speech seems vast, not because our problems are so different – racism, poverty and the threat of Russia defined that era, too – but because our leaders have so profoundly failed us. We live in Eisenhower’s nightmare realized. “This is not a way of life at all” could be the slogan of our time.

Sept. 7, 2018: Former U.S. president Barack Obama speaks at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill., where he denounced Mr. Trump as a 'threat to democracy' and urged students to get out and vote.

DANIEL ACKER/THE NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Watch: In his speech, Mr. Obama said 'the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party.'THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEPTEMBER: BETTER, BUT NOT OKAY

On Sept. 7, 2018, Barack Obama emerged from political hibernation to give a speech to students at the University of Illinois, urging them to vote. The speech attracted great interest, due in part to the novelty of a U.S. president speaking coherently, but also due to its sombre tone. Ten years before, Mr. Obama had dazzled Americans with his optimism (“Now is not the time for small plans!” he proclaimed in his August, 2008, acceptance speech). His faith did not waver even in January, 2017, when he assured anxious Americans in his final speech as president: “We are going to be OK.”

We were, of course, never going to be okay. And I’m still gutted by that departing line, as I was about the lies we were fed by others throughout 2017: “Trump’s going to pivot"; “He’ll grow into the role”; “Checks and balances will constrain him”; and so on. These baseless bromides signalled not only a lack of preparedness for the future, but delusions about the past.

We were never going to be okay because America had never been okay. In January, 2017, America emerged from an election that not only brought an unworthy leader, but exploited every pre-existing crisis in U.S. history: racism, income inequality, geographic inequality, misogyny, xenophobia, battles over surveillance and privacy, and so on. Mr. Obama, true to form, went high when we felt low, likely trying to lift people’s spirits, but at the time, I just wished he’d talk straight.

In September, he finally did: “Better is good,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s the history of progress in this country. Not perfect. Better.” He warned us we would not get everything we wanted.

“Better is good” as a slogan, is depressing – the sound of tempered expectations and abandoned plans. It’s also a factually accurate recollection of history, as well as a reminder that it can get much worse – a lesson that only the most privileged and cold-hearted had not already absorbed. It’s a sentiment rooted in reality, when reality is grim. This does not mean that our political solution lies in incrementalism; as I’ve noted, time is the enemy now, and it’s hard to bank on playing by the book when the book is burning.

But when you look at the landscape of 2018, what you are left with is a seemingly consolidating autocracy, steadily eroding checks on its power – having captured the executive and legislative branches, it now threatens to devour the judiciary – while facing off against millions of opponents waging small, local battles against corruption and cruelty. There is no unifying figure; nor is it wise to seek one. There is no easy solution; nor is it wise to feign one. There are only people who deserve better, and people fighting on their behalf.

Over and over, I have heard from people whose lives were turned upside down by the Trump administration in horrific ways, as well as those who have turned their own lives upside down to help them. That is the chaos of a country forced to surrender its delusions, but refusing to surrender its soul. We will never be the same America; none of us are the same people we were before November, 2016. All we can do is choose to be better. Unlike in so many other things, at least in that we have a choice.

There is no question that most Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump and the GOP. The question for November is whether dissent matters in the face of an increasingly autocratic regime, one whose disregard for rule of law is unparalleled in U.S. history, and one that may have engaged in voter suppression and one whose associates are being investigated for whether they collaborated with operatives of hostile states to win the previous election. The midterms have become an existential matter: Will we salvage our damaged democracy, or lose what rights remain? For non-white Americans, immigrants, women, LGBTQ Americans and other groups targeted by the administration, there is nothing abstract about this inquiry.

I spent most of the year on the road in America, and I don’t think we, as a people, are as cruel or mercenary as those who represent us. Political activists and Democrats are not as disorganized as pundits claim. Everything sounds confusing when you listen for a coherent message, and what you hear instead is an anguished cry. But at least that cry is honest. That cry means people still care. The worst sound, these days, is silence.

PATRICK SEMANSKY/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

​
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 07:30:52 AM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Brett Kavanaugh caught tampering with witnesses in Deborah Ramirez accusation
« Reply #3468 on: October 01, 2018, 05:54:40 PM »
Brett Kavanaugh caught tampering with witnesses in Deborah Ramirez accusation

| 6:15 pm EDT October 1, 2018

Palmer Report » Analysis

Even as Deborah Ramirez was coming forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Kavanaugh and his team tried to coordinate with the witnesses involved, according to a stunning new report from NBC News. Kavanaugh’s scheme backfired when one of his old acquaintances – who happens to be an attorney – got dragged into it and decided to come forward. Remarkably, there are text messages which substantiate what was going on.

As the New Yorker was assembling its story which detailed Ramirez’s accusations, Brett Kavanaugh began reaching out to his old friends and asking them to come to his defense. It’s not illegal to ask people to publicly defend you from an allegation made in a magazine article. But because Kavanaugh was being accused of a felony, and because he was in the process of being investigated as a nominee by the Senate, he had a reasonable expectation that this could turn into a law enforcement investigation.

Accordingly, Palmer Report has spoken with a legal expert who has confirmed that this represents witness tampering on Brett Kavanaugh’s part. You don’t have to look any further than the Paul Manafort case for confirmation that improperly contacting witnesses constitutes witness tampering whether or not you specifically ask the witnesses to lie on your behalf.

Of course this may end up being less about the criminal implications of Brett Kavanaugh’s witness tampering, and more about the fact that he did it at all – thus further disqualifying him from being worthy for the Supreme Court. Read the startling NBC News expose here.

***

Text messages suggest Kavanaugh wanted to refute accuser's claim before it became public

A former classmate of the Supreme Court nominee has reached out to the FBI but hasn't received a response.
by Heidi Przybyla and Leigh Ann Caldwell /
From left, Deborah Ramirez, Kerry E. Berchem, Doug Millet, Karen Yarasavage, Kevin Genda, Brett Kavanaugh and David White pose for a photo at the rehearsal dinner before the wedding of Yarasavage and Genda in 1997.
From left, Deborah Ramirez, Kerry E. Berchem, Doug Millet, Karen Yarasavage, Kevin Genda, Brett Kavanaugh and David White pose for a photo at the rehearsal dinner before the wedding of Yarasavage and Genda in 1997.Photo obtained by NBC News

WASHINGTON — In the days leading up to a public allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to a college classmate, the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim, according to text messages obtained by NBC News.

Kerry Berchem, who was at Yale with both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has tried to get those messages to the FBI for its newly reopened investigation into the matter but says she has yet to be contacted by the bureau.

The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh's team and former classmates in advance of the story.

The texts also demonstrate that Kavanaugh and Ramirez were more socially connected than previously understood and that Ramirez was uncomfortable around Kavanaugh when they saw each other at a wedding 10 years after they graduated. Berchem's efforts also show that some potential witnesses have been unable to get important information to the FBI.

OCT.01.201806:02

On Monday, a senior U.S. official confirmed that the White House has authorized the FBI to expand its initially limited investigation by interviewing anyone it deems necessary as long as the review is finished by the end of the week. The New York Times first reported the change in scope.

NBC News reached out to Berchem for comment after obtaining a copy of a memo she wrote about the text messages. In a statement to NBC News, Berchem, a partner in the law firm Akin Gump, said: “I understand that President Trump and the U.S. Senate have ordered an FBI investigation into certain allegations of sexual misconduct by the nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I have no direct or indirect knowledge about any of the allegations against him. However, I am in receipt of text messages from a mutual friend of both Debbie and mine that raise questions related to the allegations. I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate."

On Sunday, Berchem emailed FBI agent J.C. McDonough her memo. After getting no response, she resent the summary on Monday morning along with screenshots of certain texts that she thinks raise questions that should be investigated. “I’m sure he’s really busy and expect that he’ll get back to me,” said Berchem.

Berchem’s memo outlining her correspondence with Yarasavage shows there’s a circle of Kavanaugh friends who may have pertinent information and evidence relevant to the inquiry who may not be interviewed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already set in motion a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on the Senate floor for later this week.

Kavanaugh has strongly denied the allegation by Ramirez as well as accusations by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school and by Julie Swetnick that Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s.

Berchem, 51, a graduate of Yale and a Connecticut resident, reached out to Sen. Richard Blumenthal's office last week. Blumenthal, a Democrat, sits on the Judiciary Committee.

“We heard from Kerry late on Thursday and submitted her summary to the Judiciary Committee early Friday,” a spokeswoman for Blumenthal said in a statement to NBC News. “After we were made to jump through several hoops that delayed our moving forward, it became clear that the majority Committee staff had not turned this summary over to the FBI and, in fact, had no intention of turning it over to the FBI. With our assistance, Kerry submitted her summary to the FBI herself.”

George Hartmann, a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said that “the texts from Ms. Berchem do not appear relevant or contradictory to Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony."

"This appears to be another last-ditch effort to derail the nomination with baseless innuendo by Democrats who have already decided to vote no," Hartmann said.

Berchem's texts with Yarasavage shed light on Kavanaugh’s personal contact with friends, including that he obtained a copy of a photograph of a small group of friends from Yale at a 1997 wedding in order to show himself smiling alongside Ramirez 10 years after they graduated. Kavanaugh was a groomsman and Ramirez a bridesmaid at the wedding.

Berchem hired a lawyer on Sunday to help her get her information into the right hands. She has twice sent her memo to the FBI and has yet to hear a response, according to her lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He flagged two texts in particular

In a series of texts before the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with “Brett's guy,” and also with “Brett,” who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text: “I had to send it to Brett’s team too.”

Bob Bauer, former White House counsel for President Barack Obama, said: "It would be surprising, and it would certainly be highly imprudent, if at any point Judge Kavanaugh directly contacted an individual believed to have information about allegations like this. A nominee would normally have been counseled to leave to his legal and nominations team the job of following up on any questions arising from press reports or otherwise, and doing so appropriately."

Further, the texts show Kavanaugh may need to be questioned about how far back he anticipated that Ramirez would air allegations against him. Berchem says in her memo that Kavanaugh “and/or” his friends “may have initiated an anticipatory narrative” as early as July to “conceal or discredit” Ramirez.

Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that the first time he heard of Ramirez’s allegation was in the Sept. 23 article in The New Yorker.

Kavanaugh was asked by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, when he first heard of Ramirez’s allegations. Kavanaugh answered: “In the New Yorker story.”

A Sept. 24 text shows Yarasavage clarifying that she did not refute Ramirez’s claims to the New Yorker. Republicans and Kavanaugh have said that his former classmates, who gave an anonymous statement to the New Yorker, have refuted Ramirez’s claim.

“I didn’t say I would have known. … I said she never told me, I never heard a word of this ever happening and never saw it. The media surmised (that I was saying she is lying),” said Yarasavage.

Yarasavage declined to speak to NBC News as did other classmates named in Berchem’s memo who may have information pertinent to the investigation.

Finally, Berchem is concerned about what she witnessed at the 1997 wedding where Ramirez and Kavanaugh were both in the wedding party.

According to the information Berchem provided, Ramirez tried to avoid Kavanaugh at that wedding of their two friends, Yarasavage and Kevin Genda.

Ramirez, “clung to me” at the wedding, Berchem wrote to Yarasavage in a Sept. 24th text message. “She never went near them,” a reference to Kavanaugh and his friends. Even in the group photo, Berchem wrote, Ramirez was trying to keep away from Kavanaugh.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Re: Brett Kavanaugh caught tampering with witnesses in Deborah Ramirez accusation
« Reply #3469 on: October 01, 2018, 07:03:51 PM »
Brett Kavanaugh caught tampering with witnesses in Deborah Ramirez accusation

| 6:15 pm EDT October 1, 2018

Palmer Report » Analysis

Even as Deborah Ramirez was coming forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Kavanaugh and his team tried to coordinate with the witnesses involved, according to a stunning new report from NBC News. Kavanaugh’s scheme backfired when one of his old acquaintances – who happens to be an attorney – got dragged into it and decided to come forward. Remarkably, there are text messages which substantiate what was going on.

As the New Yorker was assembling its story which detailed Ramirez’s accusations, Brett Kavanaugh began reaching out to his old friends and asking them to come to his defense. It’s not illegal to ask people to publicly defend you from an allegation made in a magazine article. But because Kavanaugh was being accused of a felony, and because he was in the process of being investigated as a nominee by the Senate, he had a reasonable expectation that this could turn into a law enforcement investigation.

Accordingly, Palmer Report has spoken with a legal expert who has confirmed that this represents witness tampering on Brett Kavanaugh’s part. You don’t have to look any further than the Paul Manafort case for confirmation that improperly contacting witnesses constitutes witness tampering whether or not you specifically ask the witnesses to lie on your behalf.

Of course this may end up being less about the criminal implications of Brett Kavanaugh’s witness tampering, and more about the fact that he did it at all – thus further disqualifying him from being worthy for the Supreme Court. Read the startling NBC News expose here.

***

Text messages suggest Kavanaugh wanted to refute accuser's claim before it became public

A former classmate of the Supreme Court nominee has reached out to the FBI but hasn't received a response.
by Heidi Przybyla and Leigh Ann Caldwell /
From left, Deborah Ramirez, Kerry E. Berchem, Doug Millet, Karen Yarasavage, Kevin Genda, Brett Kavanaugh and David White pose for a photo at the rehearsal dinner before the wedding of Yarasavage and Genda in 1997.
From left, Deborah Ramirez, Kerry E. Berchem, Doug Millet, Karen Yarasavage, Kevin Genda, Brett Kavanaugh and David White pose for a photo at the rehearsal dinner before the wedding of Yarasavage and Genda in 1997.Photo obtained by NBC News

WASHINGTON — In the days leading up to a public allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to a college classmate, the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim, according to text messages obtained by NBC News.

Kerry Berchem, who was at Yale with both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has tried to get those messages to the FBI for its newly reopened investigation into the matter but says she has yet to be contacted by the bureau.

The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh's team and former classmates in advance of the story.

The texts also demonstrate that Kavanaugh and Ramirez were more socially connected than previously understood and that Ramirez was uncomfortable around Kavanaugh when they saw each other at a wedding 10 years after they graduated. Berchem's efforts also show that some potential witnesses have been unable to get important information to the FBI.

OCT.01.201806:02

On Monday, a senior U.S. official confirmed that the White House has authorized the FBI to expand its initially limited investigation by interviewing anyone it deems necessary as long as the review is finished by the end of the week. The New York Times first reported the change in scope.

NBC News reached out to Berchem for comment after obtaining a copy of a memo she wrote about the text messages. In a statement to NBC News, Berchem, a partner in the law firm Akin Gump, said: “I understand that President Trump and the U.S. Senate have ordered an FBI investigation into certain allegations of sexual misconduct by the nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I have no direct or indirect knowledge about any of the allegations against him. However, I am in receipt of text messages from a mutual friend of both Debbie and mine that raise questions related to the allegations. I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate."

On Sunday, Berchem emailed FBI agent J.C. McDonough her memo. After getting no response, she resent the summary on Monday morning along with screenshots of certain texts that she thinks raise questions that should be investigated. “I’m sure he’s really busy and expect that he’ll get back to me,” said Berchem.

Berchem’s memo outlining her correspondence with Yarasavage shows there’s a circle of Kavanaugh friends who may have pertinent information and evidence relevant to the inquiry who may not be interviewed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already set in motion a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on the Senate floor for later this week.

Kavanaugh has strongly denied the allegation by Ramirez as well as accusations by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school and by Julie Swetnick that Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s.

Berchem, 51, a graduate of Yale and a Connecticut resident, reached out to Sen. Richard Blumenthal's office last week. Blumenthal, a Democrat, sits on the Judiciary Committee.

“We heard from Kerry late on Thursday and submitted her summary to the Judiciary Committee early Friday,” a spokeswoman for Blumenthal said in a statement to NBC News. “After we were made to jump through several hoops that delayed our moving forward, it became clear that the majority Committee staff had not turned this summary over to the FBI and, in fact, had no intention of turning it over to the FBI. With our assistance, Kerry submitted her summary to the FBI herself.”

George Hartmann, a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said that “the texts from Ms. Berchem do not appear relevant or contradictory to Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony."

"This appears to be another last-ditch effort to derail the nomination with baseless innuendo by Democrats who have already decided to vote no," Hartmann said.

Berchem's texts with Yarasavage shed light on Kavanaugh’s personal contact with friends, including that he obtained a copy of a photograph of a small group of friends from Yale at a 1997 wedding in order to show himself smiling alongside Ramirez 10 years after they graduated. Kavanaugh was a groomsman and Ramirez a bridesmaid at the wedding.

Berchem hired a lawyer on Sunday to help her get her information into the right hands. She has twice sent her memo to the FBI and has yet to hear a response, according to her lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He flagged two texts in particular

In a series of texts before the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with “Brett's guy,” and also with “Brett,” who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text: “I had to send it to Brett’s team too.”

Bob Bauer, former White House counsel for President Barack Obama, said: "It would be surprising, and it would certainly be highly imprudent, if at any point Judge Kavanaugh directly contacted an individual believed to have information about allegations like this. A nominee would normally have been counseled to leave to his legal and nominations team the job of following up on any questions arising from press reports or otherwise, and doing so appropriately."

Further, the texts show Kavanaugh may need to be questioned about how far back he anticipated that Ramirez would air allegations against him. Berchem says in her memo that Kavanaugh “and/or” his friends “may have initiated an anticipatory narrative” as early as July to “conceal or discredit” Ramirez.

Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that the first time he heard of Ramirez’s allegation was in the Sept. 23 article in The New Yorker.

Kavanaugh was asked by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, when he first heard of Ramirez’s allegations. Kavanaugh answered: “In the New Yorker story.”

A Sept. 24 text shows Yarasavage clarifying that she did not refute Ramirez’s claims to the New Yorker. Republicans and Kavanaugh have said that his former classmates, who gave an anonymous statement to the New Yorker, have refuted Ramirez’s claim.

“I didn’t say I would have known. … I said she never told me, I never heard a word of this ever happening and never saw it. The media surmised (that I was saying she is lying),” said Yarasavage.

Yarasavage declined to speak to NBC News as did other classmates named in Berchem’s memo who may have information pertinent to the investigation.

Finally, Berchem is concerned about what she witnessed at the 1997 wedding where Ramirez and Kavanaugh were both in the wedding party.

According to the information Berchem provided, Ramirez tried to avoid Kavanaugh at that wedding of their two friends, Yarasavage and Kevin Genda.

Ramirez, “clung to me” at the wedding, Berchem wrote to Yarasavage in a Sept. 24th text message. “She never went near them,” a reference to Kavanaugh and his friends. Even in the group photo, Berchem wrote, Ramirez was trying to keep away from Kavanaugh.


No case on Kavanaugh. At that time (in the early 80's) the things Kavanaugh has been accused of would have been misdemeanors  with a one year statute of limitations. All this only goes to character, unless they get more than what they have so far.

https://www.lifezette.com/2018/09/80s-maryland-law-viewed-sexual-assault-as-a-misdemeanor/
« Last Edit: October 02, 2018, 05:18:22 AM by Eddie »
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Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Reply #3470 on: October 01, 2018, 07:07:58 PM »
FWIW, after hearing his testimony, my best determination is that he did lie about a number of things, maybe all of it. But I don't think it will stick to him.

It remains to be seen if it might propel more liberal leaning people to vote. Sort of like locking the barn after the horse in gone. But better than nothing, if it happens.
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Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Reply #3471 on: October 01, 2018, 07:19:54 PM »
FWIW, after hearing his testimony, my best determination is that he did lie about a number of things, maybe all of it. But I don't think it will stick to him.

It remains to be seen if it might propel more liberal leaning people to vote. Sort of like locking the barn after the horse in gone. But better than nothing, if it happens.

This is Win-Win for the Demodopes.

If Kav is confirmed there will be a huge backlash against Repugnants in the elections.  If Kav is rejected, the Dems will probably have control over at least the House  and more to say about the next nominee.

RE
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Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Reply #3472 on: October 02, 2018, 03:37:26 AM »
FWIW, after hearing his testimony, my best determination is that he did lie about a number of things, maybe all of it. But I don't think it will stick to him.

It remains to be seen if it might propel more liberal leaning people to vote. Sort of like locking the barn after the horse in gone. But better than nothing, if it happens.

This is Win-Win for the Demodopes.

If Kav is confirmed there will be a huge backlash against Repugnants in the elections.  If Kav is rejected, the Dems will probably have control over at least the House  and more to say about the next nominee.

RE

Confirmation of federal judgeships is exclusively a Senate thing. All the House gets to do is throw tantrums.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Reply #3473 on: October 02, 2018, 03:42:40 AM »
FWIW, after hearing his testimony, my best determination is that he did lie about a number of things, maybe all of it. But I don't think it will stick to him.

It remains to be seen if it might propel more liberal leaning people to vote. Sort of like locking the barn after the horse in gone. But better than nothing, if it happens.

This is Win-Win for the Demodopes.

If Kav is confirmed there will be a huge backlash against Repugnants in the elections.  If Kav is rejected, the Dems will probably have control over at least the House  and more to say about the next nominee.

RE

Confirmation of federal judgeships is exclusively a Senate thing. All the House gets to do is throw tantrums.

Tantrums are very effective if you get enough publicity.

RE
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John Nichols: Evolution or Death by Vox Populi
« Reply #3474 on: October 03, 2018, 08:08:39 AM »
John Nichols: Evolution or Death
The 2018 midterm elections are a battle for the souls of both parties.




President Donald Trump keeps signaling his determination to remake the Republican Party in the image of Steve Bannon and his circle of wild-eyed racists and xenophobes. Because the media in the United States tend to focus on personality clashes and electoral strategies rather than ideologies and the evolution of political parties, Trump’s political project is still too little-noted by the pundits and politicians, who have consistently underestimated the threat he poses. Yet, for those who are paying attention, the President’s extreme messaging sends a clear signal.“The dog whistles get louder,” says anti-racism activist and author Tim Wise.

Early in 2017, Trump expressed enthusiasm for France’s far right, hailing National Front (now National Rally) leader Marine Le Pen as “the strongest on what’s been going on in France”—an embrace of a candidate whom French conservatives rejected for leading a party “known for its violence, its intolerance.” Several months later, when neo-Nazis rioted and killed a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump suggested there were “good people” among those throwing up fascist salutes.

In August, Trump began hyperventilating about white farmers in South Africa, with a tweet announcing that he had asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate “South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” In so doing, he adopted a meme favored by shadowy global networks that mumble about “white genocide.”The New York Timessaid the president was citing “false claims.” Patrick Gaspard, the former U.S. ambassador to South Africa, warned that the President “needs political distractions to turn our gaze away from his criminal cabal, and so he’s attacking South Africa with the disproven racial myth of ‘large scale killings of farmers.’”

Gaspard was right about the impulse of this President to distract the media and his supporters from his many crises. Yet there is more going on here than the usual smoke and mirrors of politics.

“Ultimately, I don’t see this tweet as being about South Africa at all,” Wise told Joy Reid on an MSNBC program that offered a rare example of how Trump should be covered. “I think it is a way to try and scare white Americans not of black South Africans, about whom they don’t think very much, but of black people in this country. It’s all part of a larger political process.”

The larger political process is what matters. Donald Trump knows this. So, too, do his sharpest critics. That makes the 2018 election cycle much more than the traditional partisan fight between Republicans and Democrats. What is playing out this year are battles for the souls of both major political parties.

Just as Trump is steering the Republican Party into the ditch of white nationalism, a new generation of intersectional candidates (many of them women, people of color, immigrants, or the children of immigrants) is doing its best to drive the Democratic Party in a different direction. It is a movement that Ayanna Pressley, who beat a ten-term incumbent Congressman in a Massachusetts primary in September, says “can ensure that this moment of hatred and division in Washington is a catalyst for the greatest progressive movement of our generation.”

Neither major party will finish 2018 unchanged. Yet the extent of the transformation will be known only after the November 6 election results are digested. The changes may be uneven; one party may go through a more radical transformation than the other. But there is no going back for either party. Nor is there any reason to believe that this unavoidable process of radical transformation will end on a particular Election Day. Even if Republicans are completely vanquished by a “Blue Wave” election, the process of remaking the party in the President’s image will continue.

The President is a dangerous man, a danger he extends by regularly intervening on behalf of his “mini-mes”—like race-baiting Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis. The threat Trump poses is multiplied by the fact that, as veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson reminds us, GOP “leaders” such as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan “lack the moral courage to stand up and say directly into the camera: this President is engaging in things that are overtly racial, this is a signal to some of the worst elements in our society.”

With that said, however, it must be understood that Trump is not our condition. Rather, he is an alarming symptom of what ails our politics at a moment of dramatic change in how we organize our lives, our work, our world.


Trump is President because this country’s political leaders have failed to respond honestly or usefully to the radical changes that are transforming the lives of Americans, and the anxiety these changes create.

The United States has barely begun to wrestle with the immediate crisis of climate change. At the same time, it is now thirty years into a globalization revolution that is changing everything about how we relate to the world—economically, socially, politically, and practically. It is twenty years into a digital revolution that is changing everything about how we communicate, with dramatic repercussions for how we organize our time and our relationships. And it is ten years into an automation revolution that is already changing everything about our workplaces, and that will ultimately upend our sense of who we are as workers and what we might seek to accomplish.

This is heavy stuff. It is hitting the average American with the force of three industrial revolutions at the same time. Unfortunately, because of the lingering influence of neoliberal fabulism on both parties, serious thinking about the policies needed to address this sea change has been neglected in favor of the fantasy that “the market will come up with a solution.”

Economists tell us that the concentration of power in the hands of a billionaire class, and the monopolization of wealth by trillion-dollar tech corporations, is bad for business and worse for humanity. Social scientists identify economic and social inequality as an existential threat.The Harvard Business Review notes that “people in all walks of life are becoming very concerned about advancing automation.” Yet the supposedly “enlightened” leaders of both parties continue to propose “more-of-the-same” schemes to divert precious public resources to billionaires, tech titans, and the military-industrial complex that has already locked up so much of our commonwealth.

Until Bernie Sanders opened up the debate with a 2016 presidential run that shook the Democratic Party’s complacency, scant attention was paid to the fact that a Scandinavian-style social welfare state will have to be developed to provide Americans with guarantees of health care, education, transportation, and other basic needs. It is the only rational response to a “gig-economy,” where workers cannot count on the benefits packages that sustained their grandparents and that their parents are now losing.

By the way, young voters did not back Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries because he was promising “free stuff.” They voted for him because his social-democratic agenda sounded like a smart proposal for bringing a measure of stability to the chaotic future they are already experiencing.

Yet, even at his best, Sanders barely touched on the topics that will soon confront society, like whether a universal basic income will be required to sustain workers displaced by robots. And once the nomination fight was done, Democrats defaulted to the habitual caution that keeps the party from inspiring young people and disaffected Americans.

Neglect of the essential debate has made it easy for Trump to fill the anxiety void with a combination of over-the-top bragging about his dubious business skills and crude appeals to xenophobia. This was just enough to swing battleground states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—and, with them, the Electoral College—in 2016. But Trump is incapable of addressing the sources of the anxiety, which is one of the reasons why his approval numbers are so low and the prospects that Democrats might take the House in 2018 are so high.

There are plenty of people—many of them Trump voters and potential Trump voters—who recognize that good employment numbers are transitory, that wages are stagnant, and that tax cuts are more likely to be invested in robotification than long-term job creation. Trump has no answers for the real issues of our time. So he will keep going further down the rathole of racialized politics, and he is not going alone.


The story of the Republican Party’s future is being written by Donald Trump. That tweet about South African farmers, like so many of the President’s signals, should be read in the context of the politics of right now.

The evidence from the 2018 campaign is that Trump’s trajectory will be every bit as horrible as his sharpest critics imagine. He’ll keep intervening in Republican primaries on behalf of men like Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, who peddles lies about “illegal voting” that Republicans use to make it harder for non-Republicans to cast ballots; and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who proved that it was possible to be more venomous than Trump by promising to use his pickup truck to round up immigrants.

The story of the Democratic Party’s pushback against Trump is, as yet, unwritten. There are no guarantees that the Democrats will rise to the challenge of the moment. They failed to do so in 2016 because party leaders at the highest level misread the moment. They spent too much time concentrating on Trump and too little time on the question of why the most divisive and discredited Republican nominee in the party’s history was a viable contender for the presidency.

What Democrats must recognize is that the required response to Trumpism involves filling the void of the uncertainty he creates with information, ideas, and programs. This won’t change the hearts of visceral racists and xenophobes, of the David Dukes and Richard Spencers, who relish the political normalization of white nationalism. But it will speak to frightened and frustrated Americans, and identify an agenda for mobilizing what Democracy for America Executive Director Charles Chamberlain calls “the New American Majority of people of color and progressive white voters [who] are ready to deliver transformative results for candidates who share their commitment to bold, inclusive populism.”

This year’s primary elections have been notable for breakthrough victories by scores of Democratic candidates who recognize the need for this new politics. In Massachusetts, for instance, Ayanna Pressley launched her campaign with a declaration that: “the people of this district deserve a representative who will enlist them as partners in the development, visioning, and governing of their communities. Activism is no longer an option, but is the expectation of our generation.”

That last line went to the heart of the matter. Pressley, a forty-four-year-old African American progressive, shared many positions with incumbent Congressman Mike Capuano. What distinguished her was a promise to combine representation in Washington with movement activism at home. She communicated a sense of urgency that her party has lacked. After casting her primary ballot on September 4, she said: “This is a fight for the soul of our party, and the future of our democracy, at a time when our country is at a crossroads.”

Pressley secured her upset victory with a 59-41 landslide. She was one of dozens of insurgents who prevailed in Democratic primaries during the course of the first nine months of 2018. Gubernatorial candidates such as Ben Jealous in Maryland, Stacey Abrams in Georgia, and Andrew Gillum in Florida won historic nominations, as did Congressional candidates such as Kara Eastman in Nebraska, Rashida Tlaib in Michigan, Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York (see interview, page 60).

The first challenger to defeat an incumbent Congressman in a Democratic primary, Ocasio-Cortez became a symbol of the movement to change the party. She was open about the failure of the party to speak to the issues that matter to voters—including some voters who backed Trump in 2016, and many more who stayed home.

“[Trump] spoke very directly to a lot of needs that were not being met by both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party,” she told The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald. “Our neglect of that is something we wholeheartedly have to take responsibility for, and correct for.”

That’s a vital acknowledgment, and an even more vital call to action.


Trump’s answers to America’s problems are wrong. Yet he is doubling down on them with a white-nationalist message that could come to fully define his party. The challenge for Democrats is to forge an alternative message that is bigger and bolder than the pathetic agenda that this President and his partisan allies propose.

The alternative to a “make-America-great-again” politics of old policies and older fears is a new politics for a new time. To achieve this new politics, the Democratic Party must be as radical as it was in the days of Franklin Roosevelt and Henry Wallace. It must be more open to social democratic ideals, especially those that will shape and sustain a social welfare state sufficient to provide benefits as the economic order of the past gives way to a new order in which jobs are replaced by gigs.

It will recognize that a universal basic income may be the only answer for workers who are being displaced, not temporarily but permanently, by the robots and computers that Oxford University social scientists say could eliminate half of existing jobs in the next two decades. And it will know that antitrust initiatives to break up, regulate, and tax tech monopolies will allow citizens rather than CEOs to guide a technological revolution focused on the betterment of the human condition.

This is the politics proposed by the most tech-savvy Democrat in the current Congress, Ro Khanna of California, who two years ago defeated an eight-term incumbent Congressman in a primary contest that foretold the intraparty fights of 2018. “Our country is going through a profound transition from an industrial age to a digital age,” Khanna has said. “The gains of that transition had gone to a few people who are creative, brilliant, at the right place at the right time. There are a lot of folks who had been left out in that transition.”

The Democratic Party can’t be too bold. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party does not yet know whether it wants to be bold. This is what the primary battles of 2018 were about, and this is why the results from November contests matter more than a measure of D-versus-R alignment. If next-generation candidates who practice a politics of big ideas and big mobilization win in November, that will be a signal for the only major party that still has the potential to meet the challenges of the times.

Parties evolve, or die. That’s a fact of political science. This year will tell us a great deal about just how dangerous the evolution of the Republican Party has become. But it could also tell us how the Democratic Party might avert the danger and claim the future.


John Nichols, a contributing writer for The Progressive,covers politics forThe Nationand is associate editor ofThe Capital Timesnewspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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A new Ikea report is an unsettling look at life in the 21st century
« Reply #3475 on: October 13, 2018, 06:24:27 AM »
A new Ikea report is an unsettling look at life in the 21st century
“Almost half of Americans (45%) go to their car to have a private moment to themselves,” the company reports in a new survey of 22,000 people in 22 countries.




Every year, Ikea Group and INGKA Holding (the holding company that controls the majority of Ikea’s retail stores) publishes a research reporton how people live in and relate to a specific aspect of their homes. Since 2014 it’s dealt with morning routines, food and kitchens, and disagreements at home. This year, it takes on a more existential tone–dealing with loneliness, belonging, and the effects of living in cities.

Two years ago, the company asked thousands of people about where they felt “most at home.” At the time, 20% of subjects said it wasn’t the space in which they lived. Two years later, they asked again, and found the number has risen by 15% among people who live in cities. In other words, 35% of people who live in cities don’t feel at home in their house or apartment.

[Image: courtesy Ikea]
Other statistics from the report–which surveyed 22,000 people in 22 countries–paint a picture of two competing versions of “home.”

On the one hand, people find a sense of belonging outside of conventional living spaces, whether in the park or at school. In fact, almost a quarter of people who live with others feel more comfortable outside of their homes altogether. At the same time, living spaces are increasingly tied to peoples’ livelihoods, often directly generating income: One in four people surveyed works more from home, and another 25% who live with strangers also rent their space out on Airbnb.

On the other hand, people report a creeping unease with their living spaces: 53% of young families don’t get a sense of belonging from their residential home. Only 57% of people who live with family or alone feel a sense of belonging, and the number drops to 34% if you live with friends or strangers.

One person in Rome reported going out to sit in their car on the street to find a fleeting moment of “mental privacy.” They weren’t alone: “Almost half of Americans (45%) go to their car, outside of the home, to have a private moment to themselves, surpassed only by the bedroom (72%) and bathroom (55%), much more traditional and expected spaces to go to have a moment alone,” the authors write. Only 45% feel a sense of privacy or security. “Life at home is changing, profoundly, all over the world,” the report concludes.

[Image: courtesy Ikea]
This dovetails with a huge amount of research and theory going back to the early 1900s on changing definitions of home. But what’s fascinating about Ikea’s report is that Ikea, simply by being the largest furniture retailer on earth, has a role to play here. The corporation has more than 400 stores in 25 countries. It reported 936 million visits to its stores last year. One favorite faux-factoid, which, obviously, can’t be verified, claims that 1 in 10 Europeans is conceived on an Ikea bed. We are increasingly renters rather than owners, which makes inexpensive and disposable furniture a necessity. As the writer Sarah Amandolare pointed out a few years ago, “home” has become less permanent and more transient than ever, and, as a result, we’ve stopped thinking of our homes as “self-expression.”

Ikea, of course, has a stake in helping people feel like they can create a sense of belonging, regardless of where home is–and a real shot at doing so, given its scale and ubiquity in cities. Rather than suggesting a new sofa, the report ends with an interactive quiz that asks about how you feel at home, mapping your answers on a pictograph and offering you a personalized “manifesto” of affirmations about finding alone time and building community. “The important thing is that everyone deserves to experience that feeling of home,” the report adds.

None of it has very much to do with furniture, which is perhaps a reflection of a moment when buying things as self-expression has taken a back seat to self-care for consumers.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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The five universal laws of human stupidity
« Reply #3476 on: October 13, 2018, 06:36:25 AM »
The five universal laws of human stupidity



In 1976, a professor of economic history at the University of California, Berkeley published an essay outlining the fundamental laws of a force he perceived as humanity’s greatest existential threat: Stupidity.

Stupid people, Carlo M. Cipolla explained, share several identifying traits: they are abundant, they are irrational, and they cause problems for others without apparent benefit to themselves, thereby lowering society’s total well-being. There are no defenses against stupidity, argued the Italian-born professor, who died in 2000. The only way a society can avoid being crushed by the burden of its idiots is if the non-stupid work even harder to offset the losses of their stupid brethren.

Let’s take a look at Cipolla’s five basic laws of human stupidity:

Law 1: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

No matter how many idiots you suspect yourself surrounded by, Cipolla wrote, you are invariably lowballing the total. This problem is compounded by biased assumptions that certain people are intelligent based on superficial factors like their job, education level, or other traits we believe to be exclusive of stupidity. They aren’t. Which takes us to:

Law 2: The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

Cipolla posits stupidity is a variable that remains constant across all populations. Every category one can imagine—gender, race, nationality, education level, income—possesses a fixed percentage of stupid people. There are stupid college professors. There are stupid people at Davos and at the UN General Assembly. There are stupid people in every nation on earth. How numerous are the stupid amongst us? It’s impossible to say. And any guess would almost certainly violate the first law, anyway.

Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Cipolla called this one the Golden Law of stupidity. A stupid person, according to the economist, is one who causes problems for others without any clear benefit to himself.

The uncle unable to stop himself from posting fake news articles to Facebook? Stupid. The customer service representative who keeps you on the phone for an hour, hangs up on you twice, and somehow still manages to screw up your account? Stupid.

This law also introduces three other phenotypes that Cipolla says co-exist alongside stupidity. First there is the intelligent person, whose actions benefit both himself and others. Then there is the bandit, who benefits himself at others’ expense. And lastly there is the helpless person, whose actions enrich others at his own expense. Cipolla imagined the four types along a graph, like this:

VINCEDEVRIES

Stupidity, graphed.

The non-stupid are a flawed and inconsistent bunch. Sometimes we act intelligently, sometimes we are selfish bandits, sometimes we act helplessly and are taken advantage of by others, and sometimes we’re a bit of both. The stupid, in comparison, are paragons of consistency, acting at all times with unyielding idiocy.

However, consistent stupidity is the only consistent thing about the stupid. This is what makes stupid people so dangerous. Cipolla explains:

Essentially stupid people are dangerous and damaging because reasonable people find it difficult to imagine and understand unreasonable behavior. An intelligent person may understand the logic of a bandit. The bandit’s actions follow a pattern of rationality: nasty rationality, if you like, but still rationality. The bandit wants a plus on his account. Since he is not intelligent enough to devise ways of obtaining the plus as well as providing you with a plus, he will produce his plus by causing a minus to appear on your account. All this is bad, but it is rational and if you are rational you can predict it. You can foresee a bandit’s actions, his nasty maneuvres and ugly aspirations and often can build up your defenses.

With a stupid person all this is absolutely impossible as explained by the Third Basic Law. A stupid creature will harass you for no reason, for no advantage, without any plan or scheme and at the most improbable times and places. You have no rational way of telling if and when and how and why the stupid creature attacks. When confronted with a stupid individual you are completely at his mercy.

All of which leads us to:

Law 4: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

We underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril. This brings us to the fifth and final law:

Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

And its corollary:

A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

We can do nothing about the stupid. The difference between societies that collapse under the weight of their stupid citizens and those who transcend them are the makeup of the non-stupid. Those progressing in spite of their stupid possess a high proportion of people acting intelligently, those who counterbalance the stupid’s losses by bringing about gains for themselves and their fellows.

Declining societies have the same percentage of stupid people as successful ones. But they also have high percentages of helpless people and, Cipolla writes, “an alarming proliferation of the bandits with overtones of stupidity.”

“Such change in the composition of the non-stupid population inevitably strengthens the destructive power of the [stupid] fraction and makes decline a certainty,” Cipolla concludes. “And the country goes to Hell.”

Image by Vincedevries on Wikimedia, licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Ted Nordhaus Is Wrong: We Are Exceeding Earth’s Carrying Capacity
« Reply #3477 on: October 15, 2018, 04:02:01 AM »
Ted Nordhaus Is Wrong: We Are Exceeding Earth’s Carrying Capacity
The co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute has a cheery vision of the future. If only that vision were plausible.




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IN HIS ARTICLE, “The Earth’s Carrying Capacity for Human Life is Not Fixed,” Ted Nordhaus, co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute, a California-based energy and environment think tank, seeks to enlist readers in his optimistic vision of the future. It’s a future in which there are many more people on the planet and each enjoys a high standard of living, while environmental impacts are reduced. It’s a cheery vision.

The core of Nordhaus’ case is that we are now living in a magical society that is immune to the ecological law of gravity.

If only it were plausible.

Nordhaus’s argument hinges on dismissing the longstanding biological concept of “carrying capacity” — the number of organisms an environment can support without becoming degraded. “Applied to ecology, the concept [of carrying capacity] is problematic,” Nordhaus writes, arguing in a nutshell that the planet’s ability to support human civilization can be, one presumes, infinitely tweaked through a combination of social and physical engineering.

Few actual ecologists, however, would agree. Indeed, the concept of carrying capacity is useful in instance after instance — including modeling the population dynamics of nonhuman species, and in gauging the health of virtually any ecosystem, be it ocean, river, prairie, desert, or forest. While exact population numbers are sometimes difficult to predict on the basis of the carrying capacity concept, it is nevertheless clear that, wherever habitat is degraded, creatures suffer and their numbers decline.

The controversy deepens in applying the carrying capacity concept to humans. Nordhaus seems to think we are exceptions to the rules. Still, as archaeologists have affirmed, many past human societies consumed resources or polluted environments to the point of collapse. Granted, societies have failed for other reasons as well, including invasion, over-extension of empire, or natural climate change. Yet in cases where societies depleted forests, fisheries, freshwater, or topsoil, the consequences were dire.

But that was then. The core of Nordhaus’ case is that we are now living in a magical society that is immune to the ecological law of gravity. Yes, it is beyond dispute that the modern industrial world has been able to temporarily expand Earth’s carrying capacity for our species. As Nordhaus points out, population has grown dramatically (from less than a billion in 1800 to 7.6 billion today), and so has per capita consumption. No previous society was able to support so many people at such a high level of amenity. If we’ve managed to stretch carrying capacity this much already, why can’t we do so ad infinitum?

To answer the question, it’s first important to understand the basis of our success so far. Science and technology usually glean most of the credit, and they deserve their share. But sheer energy — the bulk of it from fossil fuels — has been at least as important a factor.


With lots of cheap energy, we were able to extract raw materials faster and in greater quantities, transport them further, and transform them through industrial processes into a breathtaking array of goods — including fertilizers, pesticides, and antibiotics, all of which tended to reduce human death rates.

But there was still another essential factor in our success: nature itself. Using science, technology, and cheap energy, we expanded farmlands, chain-sawed forests, exploited fisheries, mined minerals, pumped oil, and flattened mountains for their buried coal. And we did these things in a way that was not remotely sustainable. By harvesting renewable resources faster than they could regrow, by using non-renewable resources that could not be recycled, and by choking environments with industrial wastes, we were borrowing from future generations and from other species.

What warning signs would you expect to see if we humans were pressing at the limits of global carrying capacity? Resource depletion? Check. Pollution? Check. Dying oceans? Check.

Nordhaus writes: “For decades, each increment of economic growth in developed economies has brought lower resource and energy use than the last.” This trend of severing the tie between GDP and energy/materials throughput is called “decoupling.” Many economists make big claims for past decoupling and promise much more of it in the future. But careful analysis of decoupling to date shows that most is attributable to accounting error. And to get the developing world up to the level of an average American’s energy usage would require nearly quadrupling global energy consumption, even assuming advances in efficiency. So, unless we find ways to make decoupling actually happen in the future more reliably and at higher rates, growing the global economy will require us to use more of the Earth’s depleted resources.

It is true that some past warnings about the consequences of overpopulation and overconsumption, framed as forecasts, proved wrong. Thomas Malthus famously thought famine would engulf humanity within decades; it didn’t. He failed to foresee industrial agriculture. Paul Ehrlich thoughtrapid population growth would lead to catastrophe in the 1980s, but he failed to anticipate the impacts of globalization and debt — which enables us to consume now and pay later. Peak oil analysts didn’t foresee the fracking frenzy. Yet cornucopian economists who perceive no problem in the expectation of endless growth on a finite planet likewise failed to foresee climate change, the exponential increase in extinction rates primarily as a result of human-caused habitat degradation, the collapse of fisheries from overfishing, and much, much more.

How can we judge whether cornucopians, or so-called Malthusians, will be right in the long run? One way would be to keep a running account of key biophysical factors on which the prospering of our species depends. If an alarm bell sounds for any of those key factors, we should sit up and pay attention. After all, Liebig’s Law (another foundation of ecology) tells us that growth limits are set not by total resources available, but by the single scarcest necessary resource.

Fortunately, somebody is keeping those accounts. Indeed, a cottage industry of environmental scientists, led by Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Center and Will Steffen of the Australian National University, has identified nine planetary boundaries that we transgress at our peril: climate change, ocean acidification, biosphere integrity, biochemical flows, land-system change, freshwater use, stratospheric ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosol loading, and the introduction of novel entities into environments.

We are currently exceeding the “safe” marks for four of these boundaries:

Another way of keeping track is the ecological footprint, which measures human demand on nature in terms of the quantity of land and water it takes to support an economy sustainably. The Global Footprint Network calculates that humanity is currently exceeding Earth’s sustainable productivity by 60 percent. We do this, again, by drawing down resources that future generations and other species would otherwise use. So, as a result of our actions, Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans is actually declining. Nordhaus is right that it’s not a fixed quantity; the problem is that we’re reducing it rather than adding to it in a way that can be maintained.


DEVISE YOUR own scorecard. What warning signs would you expect to see if we humans were pressing at the limits of global carrying capacity? Resource depletion? Check. Pollution? Check. Dying oceans? Check. Human populations subjected to increasing stress? Double check.

Here’s one more that we probably should be paying more attention to: Wild terrestrial mammalsnow represent just 4.2 percent of terrestrial mammalian biomass, the balance — 95.8 percent — being livestock and humans. Maybe we could make some inroads on that remaining 4.2 percent, but it’s pretty clear from this single statistic that we humans have already commandeered most of the biosphere.

Optimism is essential; it draws us toward the best possible futures. But when it turns into wishful thinking, it can blind us to the consequences of our present actions. In the worst potential case, the results could be collectively suicidal.


Richard Heinberg is the author of 13 books and a Senior Fellow with the Post Carbon Institute. His essays and articles have appeared in print or online at Nature, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The American Prospect, Public Policy Research, the Quarterly Review, Resilience, The Oil Drum, and Pacific Standard, among other publications.

Top visual: Georgi Kalaydzhiev/Unsplash
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: The five universal laws of human stupidity
« Reply #3478 on: October 15, 2018, 12:06:19 PM »
The five universal laws of human stupidity



In 1976, a professor of economic history at the University of California, Berkeley published an essay outlining the fundamental laws of a force he perceived as humanity’s greatest existential threat: Stupidity.

Stupid people, Carlo M. Cipolla explained, share several identifying traits: they are abundant, they are irrational, and they cause problems for others without apparent benefit to themselves, thereby lowering society’s total well-being. There are no defenses against stupidity, argued the Italian-born professor, who died in 2000. The only way a society can avoid being crushed by the burden of its idiots is if the non-stupid work even harder to offset the losses of their stupid brethren.

Let’s take a look at Cipolla’s five basic laws of human stupidity:

Law 1: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

No matter how many idiots you suspect yourself surrounded by, Cipolla wrote, you are invariably lowballing the total. This problem is compounded by biased assumptions that certain people are intelligent based on superficial factors like their job, education level, or other traits we believe to be exclusive of stupidity. They aren’t. Which takes us to:

Law 2: The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

Cipolla posits stupidity is a variable that remains constant across all populations. Every category one can imagine—gender, race, nationality, education level, income—possesses a fixed percentage of stupid people. There are stupid college professors. There are stupid people at Davos and at the UN General Assembly. There are stupid people in every nation on earth. How numerous are the stupid amongst us? It’s impossible to say. And any guess would almost certainly violate the first law, anyway.

Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Cipolla called this one the Golden Law of stupidity. A stupid person, according to the economist, is one who causes problems for others without any clear benefit to himself.

The uncle unable to stop himself from posting fake news articles to Facebook? Stupid. The customer service representative who keeps you on the phone for an hour, hangs up on you twice, and somehow still manages to screw up your account? Stupid.

This law also introduces three other phenotypes that Cipolla says co-exist alongside stupidity. First there is the intelligent person, whose actions benefit both himself and others. Then there is the bandit, who benefits himself at others’ expense. And lastly there is the helpless person, whose actions enrich others at his own expense. Cipolla imagined the four types along a graph, like this:

VINCEDEVRIES

Stupidity, graphed.

The non-stupid are a flawed and inconsistent bunch. Sometimes we act intelligently, sometimes we are selfish bandits, sometimes we act helplessly and are taken advantage of by others, and sometimes we’re a bit of both. The stupid, in comparison, are paragons of consistency, acting at all times with unyielding idiocy.

However, consistent stupidity is the only consistent thing about the stupid. This is what makes stupid people so dangerous. Cipolla explains:

Essentially stupid people are dangerous and damaging because reasonable people find it difficult to imagine and understand unreasonable behavior. An intelligent person may understand the logic of a bandit. The bandit’s actions follow a pattern of rationality: nasty rationality, if you like, but still rationality. The bandit wants a plus on his account. Since he is not intelligent enough to devise ways of obtaining the plus as well as providing you with a plus, he will produce his plus by causing a minus to appear on your account. All this is bad, but it is rational and if you are rational you can predict it. You can foresee a bandit’s actions, his nasty maneuvres and ugly aspirations and often can build up your defenses.

With a stupid person all this is absolutely impossible as explained by the Third Basic Law. A stupid creature will harass you for no reason, for no advantage, without any plan or scheme and at the most improbable times and places. You have no rational way of telling if and when and how and why the stupid creature attacks. When confronted with a stupid individual you are completely at his mercy.

All of which leads us to:

Law 4: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

We underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril. This brings us to the fifth and final law:

Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

And its corollary:

A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

We can do nothing about the stupid. The difference between societies that collapse under the weight of their stupid citizens and those who transcend them are the makeup of the non-stupid. Those progressing in spite of their stupid possess a high proportion of people acting intelligently, those who counterbalance the stupid’s losses by bringing about gains for themselves and their fellows.

Declining societies have the same percentage of stupid people as successful ones. But they also have high percentages of helpless people and, Cipolla writes, “an alarming proliferation of the bandits with overtones of stupidity.”

“Such change in the composition of the non-stupid population inevitably strengthens the destructive power of the [stupid] fraction and makes decline a certainty,” Cipolla concludes. “And the country goes to Hell.”

Image by Vincedevries on Wikimedia, licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.


Stupidity hits all of us so the key distinction is that stupid people are stupid all the time.  That actually makes sense.  The ability to find existing matches in past experience can be an inflexible operation or it can be done with great creativity.  People who are literal and who must have an exact match to see a pattern we call stupid.  Those more flexible in matching will see more patterns.  Blurry vision?  If a person can do this in an organized way we call them smart,  when their nimble dancing is without goal we call them crazy.

Which works better?



It depends on the situation.
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

Offline Surly1

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Stephen Hawking’s final papers predict the future
« Reply #3479 on: October 16, 2018, 03:39:49 AM »
Eloi v. Morlocks.

Stephen Hawking’s final papers predict the future will be super-rich superhumans versus regular humans

Stephen Hawking’s final papers predict the future will be super-rich superhumans versus regular humans
[Photo: NASA/Unsplash]
BY MICHAEL GROTHAUS1 MINUTE READ

A collection of the brilliant physicist’s final papers will be published tomorrow in a book called Brief Answers to the Big Questions, but the U.K.’s Sunday Timesrevealed some excerpts early. In the papers, Hawking mused on the future of everything from artificial intelligence to aliens. But one of the most unsettling things Hawking talks about is the inevitability of the super rich being able to afford to edit their genes and the genes of their offspring through technologies like CRISPR to make them stronger, more intelligent, and more resistant to disease.

Hawking says these super-rich superhumans will lead to the decline of, well, us–poorer ordinary humans who can no longer compete. As Hawking wrote:

Once such superhumans appear, there are going to be significant political problems with the unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete. Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving themselves at an ever-increasing rate. If the human race manages to redesign itself, it will probably spread out and colonise other planets and stars.

Oh, and if you want to be more depressed, Hawking warns about more upcoming threats, saying “in the future, AI could develop a will of its own, a will that is in conflict with ours,” and that in the next 1,000 years, major environmental calamity or a nuclear war will “cripple Earth.”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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