Tuesday, May 31, 2016

As Predicted PLAYBOY's No Nudes Experiment Is Found Wanting


As I originally forecast, e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2015/10/playboy-opts-to-go-without-nudes-why.html

Playboy made a rather large mistake by altering its brand after more than sixty years. As I noted in the above link:

"One need only look at the "New Coke" fiasco from 30 -odd years ago when Coke - bummed by lethargic sales - decided to go to a new formula for its flagship drink.  In an article on it, Wikipedia notes:

'New Coke was the unofficial popular name for the reformulation of Coca-Cola introduced in the spring of 1985 by The Coca-Cola Company to replace the original formula of its flagship soft drink, Coca-Cola (also called Coke). New Coke originally had no separate name of its own, but was simply known as "the new taste of Coca-Cola" until 1992 when it was renamed Coca-Cola II.
Coca-Cola's market share had been steadily losing ground to Pepsi and the company suspected that consumers preferred the latter's sweeter taste, which they confirmed via numerous blind taste tests. However, the American public's reaction to the change was negative, even hostile, and the new cola was a major marketing failure. The subsequent reintroduction less than three months later of Coke's original formula, re-branded as "Coca-Cola Classic", resulted in a significant gain in sales' 

In other words, the company was forced to eat humble pie three months later, because its sales were plummeting. The same will happen to PLAYBOY. The lesson, which they ought to have learned, is you do not mess with or change an expected formula. It doesn't matter if their sales -subscriptions have gone down to 800,000 from a million 2 years ago."

I did give the March issue fair marks, but that was because of the novelty more than anything else, and I had automatically lowered the threshold for acceptance after assuming the worst. In other words I'd almost certainly (and unconsciously) set the bar lower. The following three issues (April, May, June) have not impressed at all and I have not renewed my subscription. The models all appear listless, and wishing they could be anywhere else - or maybe enjoying a toke. The articles and interviews have fallen since the March issue.

In the aftermath, perhaps the best take on the damage Playboy has done to itself comes from a FORTUNE piece by Susannah Breslin, 'No Nudes Playboy Is Here And It's Terrible, e.g

http://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2016/04/04/playboy-no-nudes/#7f55567b52cd

Among her problems (which match my own) as Ms. Breslin portrays them:

"It’s not on brand
The secret sauce of Playboy wasn’t so much the naked girl. It was the feeling that looking at one lounging across its pages gave you. It felt transgressive. It felt like you were doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing. It felt somehow naughty. With the naughty bits covered up, that titillation, the emotional relationship between you and the product is gone. And without that, well, you’ve got nothing.

It levels the playing field
The toughest consequence of Playboy covering up its models in order to better compete for advertising dollars is that it makes the magazine just like its competitors. There’s no competitive edge. Playboy hadn’t been fading because the women were naked. It was fading because it didn’t know how to reinvent itself. By contrast, take a look at the modern-day Lui, a French magazine wherein nudity abounds that numbers Rihanna among its nude models. With its high-end aesthetic, Lui is far more Pirelli than Penthouse. Last year, editor-in-chief Frederic Beigbeder described his revamp of Lui as “something very glamorous, very high society.” The new Playboy feels more like Details and Maxim had a party and some girls showed up to act listless. The new Playboy‘s literary offerings don’t fare much better. The ghost of Hunter S. Thompson is nowhere to be found."


And the real killer:

"It’s not feminist
It’s hard not to flip through the new Playboy and conclude this is the strangled male desire that feminism hath wrought. This magazine seeks desperately not to offend. It seems to want very much to do the right thing. In doing so, it doesn’t do much of anything"

IN other words, the magazine "pussed" out to appease the feminists, leaving the mag appealing only to a bunch of Millennial eunuchs or guys afraid of female genitals.

As I noted in my original, critical post:

Already informal online polls of male readers by the Atlanta Journal & Constitution show that nearly 8 in 10 would rather cancel their PLAYBOY subscriptions than continue for a magazine that opts to dilute its content in order to appease online "platforms" which have less tolerance for the nudity. Most of those online connections, including the PLAYBOY web site, attract Millennials of average age 30 who are not so into nude females. They want them partially dressed as in MAXIM.

The problem is that the older demographic that reads the print PLAYBOY, isn't like that. They are fully invested in the expectation that the mag doesn't suddenly "change stripes" and expect them to pay for the change.


Ms Breslin ends her FORTUNE piece:

"Playboy claims to have cleaned up its act as a way of differentiating itself from the endless sea of porn online. In doing so, they’re reporting ad dollars are up, they’ve improved in-store product placement, and they’re targeting their millennial demographic. We’ll see how long that lasts. They’ve created no pull towards it. Just scantily clad girls who hope not to shock and end up looking bored to tears."

And I ended my post from Oct. 14, 2015 noting:

 The argument by some in the PLAYBOY empire that "there is already a glut of porn online so PLAYBOY doesn't need to duplicate it" , also doesn't hold up to scrutiny. For one thing, nude centerfolds identified PLAYBOY long before there was an internet. In addition, the aspect that has distinguished all PLAYBOY nudes is their quality and class.  By contrast, most online porn is precisely lacking in class, the very opposite of what PLAYBOY embodies. So the dictum that "it's already there" is basically telling existing PLAYBOY subscribers not to embrace PLAYBOY's soft porn imagery any more ...but "go for the gutter."

The problem PLAYBOY faces can be boiled down to this: Do away with the nudes and centerfolds to make the magazine comport with the more prudish content demands of assorted online social media  platforms, likely losing 500,000 print subscribers in the process -  OR keep the magazine content as it has historically been and accept smaller readership going forward but not a catastrophic collapse.


This is what I am still convinced will happen. We will see.

To me it's another case of a venerable, iconic name selling out to appease the fascist corporate masters who really run this country.And we know among the first to be eliminated in Hitler's death camps were pornographers (from the Weimar Republic) along with gypsies and all those deemed mentally deficient.

Misconceptions About MENSA - They Exist In Abundance


Over the years as a Mensa  (as well as Intertel) member,  I've encountered so many misconceptions - expressed as opinions or misgivings in different settings - that it's difficult to keep count. Below,  I've  tried to distill each misconception into the form of a question and then either allow it to be addressed by some original author (e.g. in a cited source like Mensa Bulletin, or Intertel Integra) or by myself


Question: If you're so smart, then why aren't you rich?

This one was addressed by a letter writer in the February, 2002 issue of the Mensa Bulletin
--------
The things that our society rewards monetarily are at odds with the sensibilities of many intelligent people. In other words, I know what makes money, and I don't agree with it on a moral or a personal basis. Increasingly, our society rewards a select few who produce concrete products or processes while leaving less concrete producers in the dust. An example is the fact that a college professor who helps to produce businessmen makes less money than any of his students when they finish.

Making money requires a specific type of creativity that is not inherent in intelligence. In order to make money, one must have a product or service to sell. Many intelligent people are operationally intelligent; they are good at the big picture. This does not, however, ensure any specific knowledge of any subject that can be turned into a product or service. One may be brilliant at knowing how to run a company, yet have no clue what to sell.

I think that many intelligent people see keenly the problems that our focus on money can create. Therefore, for better or worse, some react by developing a distaste for money, seeing it as a sign of greed or materialism. Some, I believe, actively avoid making money, though it is probably unconscious to them.

Intelligence is a distraction. Intelligent people have many interests besides their job. Therefore, they may not want to focus as wholeheartedly on their job. Often these interests are esoteric and totally removed from making money.

That's just a few of the patterns I've noticed with myself. Ironically, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have wanted to find a business partner to complement the skills that I have. I have good operational abilities, but I am not one to invent a product on my own. Given the proper partner, however, I feel I could help shape the idea and be instrumental in making it work in the market. I actually have spoken with one member in my local group about this, but I am very interested in forming an entrepreneurs' group where some of us can get together and discuss how to make money together in a constructive and moral way.

------------------------------------------------------------------
Question: I already know I'm super smart so why would I want to join Mensa?  Just to show off?

This is a commonplace misperception on why people join Mensa. (Including that we all want to "show off" as part of a "brain club".) Not so!  We join to find fellowship with other intelligent people by way of shared interests, and shared aptitudes and potential, including use of language. Studies have found, for example, that even a 15 point difference in I.Q. can make it extremely difficult  to communicate with others - whether siblings, or members of other clubs that one may belong to.  If the difference is 25 points or greater, the communication gap becomes nearly impossible to surmount.

The 'normals'  will either find you "elitist", too "smart alecky" for your own good, or an insufferable bore or pedant. In other words, they will inevitably react with distrust based on a misperception that you just want to lord it over them and make them out to be dummies. This chasm can be even greater, for example, if you also excelled academically in high school, but none of your siblings did. (In this case, bear in mind we are looking at achievement not aptitude).

As for a person being convinced he or she is "super smart" and not having to join an I.Q. society to prove it, so be it. But bear in mind until you actually show evidence of that, you may be misled. On the other hand, if you have taken an aptitude test in the past (ACT, SAT or GRE) that shows you meet Mensa levels of acceptance, e.g. 1250 total for the GRE, then indeed you are quite justified not joining to "prove" anything. But again I remind readers we aren't joining to validate braininess per se but rather to find others who share our brain power with whom we can more easily communicate or interact without misunderstandings.

Question: If you're such a genius, why haven't you invented or created something remarkable?

First, Mensa acceptance - upper 2 percent of  scores in intelligence tests- is not at genius level (at least I.Q. 145) but 130. This is not to say that proven geniuses aren't members of Mensa, but rather the acceptance standard is not at genius level.  It is at a very gifted level.

As for not inventing something remarkable this again harks back to the original answer to Q. 1 on why many smart people aren't also rich. That is, we aren't necessarily focused on making money (we see it as a tool rather than end in itself) nor are we focused on creating or making a product. We often have so many diverse interests, multiple distractions,  that we can't muster the focus needed for a unique or original creation. Back to the original answer, we can often make a contribution if we have the right partner to work with - for example one whose practical expertise complements our abstract insights. Or one who is expert at marketing and public relations to neutralize our aversion to selling because of social anxiety.

Question: Why do you smart asses think you're experts at everything?

Well, because we are interested in everything! We feel if we can read and learn about a subject we can achieve a certain level of competence and even expertise to write about it. We can't help it if "Densans" don't feel as curious about as many different subjects, or are too lazy (or uninterested) to write about them or develop an expertise. That is their problem, not ours, but it gets to the core of why an I.Q. gap really does exist and leads to misunderstandings between people - even siblings.

At the same time there is such a phenomenon as mistaken expertise or inflated expertise which is very typical of Mensa, as well as Intertel members. Thus, because a person belongs to Mensa or Intertel he or she may believe they are qualified to expound on any subject, whether global warming, the financial crash of 2008, or the JFK assassination - without doing the heavy lifting (in research) before opinionating.

Again, a highly intelligent (or any)  person is qualified to expound on whatever s/he wants  IF they do the necessary background reading, research. If they don't they aren't.  The point made here is that special credentials (or even appointments) are not necessary to achieve expertise in a subject.

Question: How come so few Mensans have college degrees?

This appears to have arisen as a casual perception at some anti-Mensa websites, but without supplying any supporting data. But at the root of the question is confusion between aptitude and achievement. This also goes to the heart of why the SAT and GRE are no longer accepted as valid entry qualifying tests for Mensa or Intertel any longer. In a word, because these are now achievement  tests and not aptitude tests. Dr Abby Salny perhaps elucidated the differences best in the March, 1994 issue of the Mensa Bulletin (p. 9) in response to a reader's question on why the ACT and SAT  were no longer accepted as qualifying evidence for Mensa:

"The ACT went to content mastery testing some time ago. That means they were measuring learned knowledge and achievement. The SAT has not only changed to content achievement but has even changed its name from the Scholastic Aptitude Test to the Scholastic Achievement Test. The Medical College test has also gone content-oriented with two major sections, Physical Sciences and Biology.

Mensa's Constitution says 'IQ test or equivalent'. This means we can take a test that measures learning aptitude, but not a test that measures exclusively what has been taught in school. The whole purpose of Mensa was not to reward high scholastic achievement but to recognize intellectual giftedness. The two are not synonymous
. "

In like manner, Mensa recognized from early that requiring a university degree did not jibe with the divergence of definition in respect to intellectual giftedness and achievement. Hence, one could attain high scholastic achievement, get a college degree, but still not have convincingly showed intellectual aptitude - which is different as Dr. Salny points out.  Thus, Mensa membership includes a diverse array of people, many of whom lack any college degrees - but their performance (say on the Mensa test) qualifies them for entry.

Let me also remark here that it is precisely the typical Mensan's learning aptitude that makes him or her a prime candidate to expound on a variety of topics that may not be peculiar to his primary specialty. Because he has the potential to learn about new things he will be enabled to put it into practice and write about those things, unlike the "normal" who - never having been versed in high finance (credit default swaps, bond market, CMOs, etc.) - would rather demur.


Question: If you guys are so bright, why aren't you better behaved?

Well, because intellectual aptitude and morality (including ethical behavior) are two different spheres of human life. Hence, we will - like any club or demographic - have our share of felons, porn stars and others  -even those with disagreeable temperaments. We are not a society of saints, after all, or monks. Intellect then, can function in many ways and that is one reason Mensa is clear to assert it embraces no particular political or religious stance either.


Question: Isn't it kind of dumb to have to pass a test to qualify for membership in a high IQ society then pay a yearly membership fee to stay in?

No one "has to pass" any test and it might surprise you to know most Mensa members qualify for membership simply on the basis of a past aptitude test like the SAT or GRE. (In my case a 1330 total on the GRE).  Others, yes, if they have no aptitude test to validate qualification must take the Mensa entry exam.  But again, no one is twisting anyone's arm to join, people do it of their own volition.

Paying dues is not a biggie either, given any club needs money to support its activities. This is a literal no brainer. In Mensa's case, dues not only support The Mensa Bulletin, but the research of the Mensa Foundation as well as Annual Gatherings (AGs). Again, this is no different from any other organization, including the American Astronomical Society and American Mathematical Society to which I also belong.

Alas, as long as there are people who hold grudges against Mensa for any reason, including failing to make the cut, see e.g. https://psmag.com/i-failed-a-mensa-test-twice-dcc5c1e4163d#.o71cnduyu

there will be sore losers and whiners, as well as sour grapes appeals. It goes with the territory! Those who'd like to try a small quiz to get the flavor for the sort of questions asked on the actual test can go here:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-01-04/entertainment/8902220824_1_typists-chickens-eggs

 To access the Mensa practice test go to this link:

https://www.us.mensa.org/join/mht/
 

Am I A ' Leftist Radical'? Nope, Just A JFK- Era Liberal Who Never Changed Over 54 Years!


JFK - denounced as a "statist" as well as a "commie"  - so I figure I'm in good company!

Back in in the mid-90s I was taken aback at the accusations of "commie"  hurled at me by unhinged lone nut defenders (e.g. of the 'lone nut',  Warren Commission codswallop) on the JFK usenet groups. It was particularly evident on alt.jfk.conspiracy (moderated) run by erstwhile Marquette political science prof John McAdams. The reason for their ire? My robust defense of JFK's decision to issue National Security Action Memorandum 263 to pull all U.S. personnel out of Viet Nam by calendar year 1965.

Of course, the original retort of Warrenite pawns was to insist JFK never intended any such thing. Then, I had to inform them that what has often been cited as the NSAM, i.e.

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/w6LJoSnW4UehkaH9Ip5IAA.aspx


Is in fact only the cover letter by McGeorge Bundy. It has only passing relevance to the actual content of the NSAM, but it does clearly state “the President approved sections IB(1-3) of the report". Which report? To find these, the researcher must turn to Document 142 in The Pentagon Papers: ‘Report of McNamara Taylor Mission to South Vietnam'. Then the serious researcher will read:

IB(2) A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by the Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. military personnel by that time.

IB(3): In accordance with the program to train progressively Vietnamese to take over military functions, the Defense Department should announce in the very near future presently prepared plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.


When that clarification became impossible to refute, they jumped on the "commie" epithet bandwagon. This then brings us to: What happens in this country if one comes to a certain political position then retains that position while the entire political spectrum shifts around him?  This is a question I've frequently asked myself as I've beheld dozens of people around me shift their politics to suit the mood of the moment or the media's tune. It has included family, friends as well as others.

For reference, let me make it clear I am not only knowledgeable of JFK's many anti-war policies (including the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of Aug., 1963) but also embracing them. That's because I am an old line Kennedy-style liberal who has never altered his position an iota since the early 1960s.  (Even years before I could vote). I  make no apologies for that, though the party I once belonged to has now moved center -right and corporate. In the words of a recent salon.com piece: "The majority of Democrats have shifted to the right so far that the two-party system is almost unrecognizable, according to Noam Chomsky".

 The same piece quotes MIT Prof Noam Chomsky:
There used to be a quip that the United States was a one-party state with a business party that had two factions: the Democrats and Republicans—and that used to be pretty accurate, but it’s not anymore. The U.S. is still a two-party state, but there’s only one faction, and it’s not Democrats, it’s moderate Republicans. Today’s Democrats have shifted to the right,”

This was originally related to an interview by RT America’s Anissa Naouai.
Chomsky's insights are spot on, and as I've posted before, the only reason some perceive me as a Marxist Socialist or "communist" (as opposed to FDR-JFK style liberal) today is because: 1) Their own positions have shifted radically right and 2) they're unaware how the political spectrum shift has been warped by propaganda, revisionist history. (Such as the Rightist trope that JFK was "really a cold warrior" and 'fiscal conservative' when all the evidence indicates this is balderdash, e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2012/07/thats-right-now-blame-60s-jfk-for.html


For example, invoking moderate deficit spending of the type used during WWII, as noted by Prof. Donald Gibson "(Battling Wall Street: The JFK Presidency') :

"What Kennedy attempted to effect .....in the three years he was in office, was a moderate peacetime version of the federal policy during World War Two."

What was the result? Professor Gibson once more:

"During the years affected immediately by Kennedy's policies , 1962 to 1964-65, the U.S. economy returned to and even exceeded the rapid growth displayed during the pre-stagnation period" (of WWII).

But the philosophic conflation of liberals with commies  (as JFK himself was identified after signing the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty) occurred long before JFK reached office. Commie hysteria - the "Red Panic"- probably began in the late 1940s soon after the Russians got the A-bomb.

The 1950s then became a decade of runaway paranoia which most of those who didn't live then can't even begin to imagine. One marker is shown below,  in one of the "Crusade Against Communists" trading cards produced by TOPPS, e.g.

 The aim was to inculcate ‘Communist Recognition’ in children 7 to 10 years old, and get them to hate this system even before they knew what it was about. The garish depictions, such as that shown of Mao Tse-Tung with ghoulish green face  - helped to reinforce the propaganda.   Hysteria grew as an admixture when millions of grade schoolers - like I was in 1952- had to duck under our desks in regular drills to "escape the fallout from Communist atomic bombs". Air raid sirens screamed as whole cities underwent "emergency drills" and CONELRAD broadcast its ominous messages and beeps. 

The TV at the time didn't help either, with propaganda shlock like "I Led Three Lives" fucking up viewers' brains to a far-thee-well.

Then there were the House Un-American Activities  Committee (HUAC) sessions convened by rabid, anti-commie ideologue, Sen. Joseph McCarthy - who makes Ted Cruz look like a wienie or wimp. McCarthy's insane crusade ended up tarring thousands of innocent Americans with the "commie" brush, because too many lame brains were caught up in his nonsense and never approached his hearings analytically until the very end.

By the 1960s, I'd had it with the American propaganda and began sending for 'Soviet Life' magazine from the Russian Embassy in D.C. Sure it was propaganda - I knew that - but I wanted to see what the other side had to say. After receiving about seven issues, however, I grew bored reading of all the "agrarian reforms". 

By the end of Reagan's 2nd term, commie myths and hatreds were well entrenched and Ronnie the pop-eyed fool (who once asked a Naval commander if cruise missiles could be "recalled")  could get away with calling the USSR the "Evil Empire". Never mind this "evil empire" saved the West's living ass as it turned back Hitler's troops in World War II, at the cost of losing 20 million of their own people. Think about that! How do you think America would have handled a vicious aggressor actually invading the nation and laying waste to major cities as the Hitlerites did to Russia? And losing 20 million?  (For some insight, google: "Battle of Stalingrad")


What about Trump who seems neither left nor right? One commenter's take on smirkingchimp.com encapsulates him:

"Trump is a giant sized real estate salesboy, nothing more. he is used car sales trash grown fat. Trump is a reflection of a society turned away from productive activity, belittling honest labor and skills as nerd stuff, glorifying sales trash and marketeer "sell the sizzle" non values. It is a reflection of a world that promotes "selling the brand" over the product. It is a reflection where the ONLY purpose of a business is to make money with no ethics, no expectation to produce anything, no obligation to the employees, no obligation to the community. It is a broken society. trump is not a healthy human being."

 
What  'Blood Red Sun' is writing here I pretty well agree with. Trump is more a carny barker or "sales pitch man" than actual politician - of the Left or the Right. Those party demarcations mean nothing to him so he can easily flip flop - whether on abortion rights, Social Security, military expenditure, taxes or whatever he wants.

Back to the Democrats. Their mutation toward corporate elitism began when they embraced Neoliberalism via the Democratic Leadership Council  (DLC) in the Reagan era, and 'Fix the Debt' by 2010.  The Party effectively became Republican lite – though they've always tried to make us believe they’re the 2nd coming of true Dem liberal populists.

Bah!  If you want to behold true Democratic populists look at the Bernie Sanders' campaign. Then look how shabbily it's been treated by the Dem establishment, aka Neoliberals.

Some perspective on this is provided by Robert McChesney in his excellent book, The Problem of the Media, Monthly Review Press, 2004, p. 49:

"With the election of Ronald Reagan, the neoliberal movement had commenced. Neoliberal ideology became hegemonic not only among Republicans but also in the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Joseph Liebermann. Differences remained on timing and specifics, but on core issues both parties agreed that business was the rightful ruler over society.

It was a return to the 1920s - if not the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. Few industries seized the neoliberal high ground as firmly as the media and communications industries.

A new generation of economists trumpeted the value of applying market principles to all communication policy matters, as one of them put it, 'the ancien regime was often dominated by ad hoc prescriptions premised on shaky economics applied to dubious histories'.

--snip--

Behind the mighty rhetoric, the stakes were clear. These corporations knew if they were granted First Amendment protection, their existence and operations "would be placed beyond the reach of majorities"


McChesney goes on to note (p. 51) that this is pretty well what DLC'er Clinton accomplished with his 1996 Telecommunications ActWhich as we may recall, also set the stage for Bernie Ebbers' WorldCom scandal, as well as the Adelphia travesty.

Again, McChesney (p. 51):


"The corruption in media policy making culminated in the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, arguably one of the most important pieces of U.S. legislation. The law rewrote the regulatory regime for radio, television, cable television, and satellite communication - indeed, all of electronic communication including the internet.

The operating premise of the law was that the new communications technologies - combined with increased appreciation for the genius of the market- rendered the traditional regulatory market moot.

The solution therefore was to lift regulations and ownership restrictions from commercial media and communication companies, and allow competition in the marketplace to develop, and reduce the government's role to that of protecting private property.

There was virtually no dissent whatsoever to this legislation from either party, the law sailed through both houses of congress, and was signed by a jubilant President Clinton in February, 1996. Corporate CEOs regarded it as their "Magna Carta".


It was around this time I ceased membership in the Democratic Party and became an Independent instead. This meant I had the total freedom not to be bound by a party -  or its platforms -  that no longer embodied my old line JFK-FDR principles. Was I wrong? No!


The Democrats had indeed forgotten the foremost words of JFK himself:


For the Democratic Party is not a collection of diverse interests brought together only to win elections. We are united instead by a common history and heritage--by a respect for the deeds of the past and a recognition of the needs of the future.



Personally, I predict a schism in the D-party as it  drifts ever more rightward. On one side you will have the wine and brie eating elite Dems who man the investment banks, are CEOs of corporations and make up most of the "super delegates" that ensured Bernie's loss. On the other side will be the 10 million plus who voted Sanders in the primaries and are dedicated to  defending and speaking for its traditional constituencies - as well as the millions of new immigrants entering the country.

The choice of the current  Dems is this: do you continue your DLC ways - which have now cost three consecutive congressional elections (including the Dem loss of the Senate in '14) or do you change your ways?

Do you continue to whore for corporate America in the perverse belief that "business is the rightful ruler of the society" or do you return to the defense of the interests of the ordinary Joe and Jane?

The answers to these questions will ultimately determine the quality of life for the citizens of this country.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Remembering Dad And The Battle of Buna Gona


U.S. infantry wade through New Guinea swamps en route to join the Battle of Buna Gona


New Guinea head hunter and Dad - months before he fought at Buna Gona. Right: Photo taken after his honorable discharge and before traveling to San Francisco, then Milwaukee.

As a young person, it was always somewhat of a mystery to me why I couldn't get my dad to watch war movies (mainly WWII) with me, whether 'Sergeant York', 'To Hell and Back' or 'Destination Tokyo'. He simply wanted no part of them, despite himself having fought in World War II. Of course, only much later - on reading his war diary (now in my sister's possession) - did I finally grasp the primary reason: he'd seen too much of actual battles to want to relive any part of them in fiction.

The worst was the Battle of Buna Gona among the most savage of the Pacific theater, and in many historians' minds even bloodier than Guadalcanal.  Those interested who wish to read an excellent account of the battle can go here:

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_buna.html

From the above link, picking up after the fiercest fighting:

"Scattered fighting continued over the next few days, as the last surviving Japanese strong points were mopped up. Casualties on both sides were high – the Allies buried 1,400 Japanese dead, while the Allies lost 620 dead, 2,065 wounded and 132 missing, two thirds of them in the three regiments of the 32nd Division and the rest in the 18th Brigade. In all the Papuan campaign cost the Allies more men than the fighting on Guadalcanal.

Buna, Gona and Sanananda were the first battles in which Allied solders attacked Japanese troops who had had time to dig in."


One of the more recent accounts appeared in a WSJ book review (Feb. 6-7), entitled 'Hell in the Pacific' and noted:

"For the soldiers themselves it was a living hell. Mr Duffy (book author of 'War at the End of the World') quotes correspondent E.J. Kahn Jr. describing the Americans he met who were serving with the 32nd Division during the fight for Buna: 'They were gaunt and thin, with deep black circles under their sunken eyes. They were covered with tropical sores....often the soles had been sucked off their shoes by the tenacious, stinking mud. Many of them fought for days with fevers and didn't know it."

Dad was one of those who had contracted Malaria and 'fought for days'. Then, after the battle, had to be evacuated to a medical station At one point, as I recall from his war diary, 'They pronounced me dead and pulled the cover over - when I managed to wiggle a toe'.  That was what rescued him, so that he could recover, re-enter the war, then finally get to see the woman he'd been corresponding with for over 7 years - by May, 1945. (My mom).

The diary itself  featured magnificently illustrated images of the explosions from bombs dropped by Japanese Zeros and mortar rounds - all done from memory while recovering in the Port Moresby hospital.  I regret now that while visiting the folks in April of 2001 I didn't secure the diary or at least make photocopies of the pages.

As one Aussie told me back in September, 2014 while on a train back from Schynigge Platte to Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland: "Even photocopies would have made a splendid addition to our section on the Battle of Buna".  This was for the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Indeed, it would have. Dad never discussed his experiences at Buna Gona, but he had rendered them as art in his war diary using colored pencils. My sister promised one day to have the diary published including Dad's art work, and I do hope she follows through - if for no other reason to finally share those events with all members of the family (now pretty well fractured after a political falling out back in November, 2014).

In the meantime, Dad's sacrifice will be remembered today, including how he battled for his family after returning and dealing with malaria symptoms.



At my dad's funeral in July, 2009.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Proof That 'The Donald' Is Terrified Of Debating Bernie



Trump used his blabbermouth to bet that Bernie wouldn't debate him, then backed out when his handlers warned it wouldn't look good to get crushed on national TV by a "second place finisher". (No wonder so many of the guy's casinos went bankrupt.)

We learned the day before yesterday that The Donald not only wrapped up the GOP nomination, but attempted to (brashly) call Bernie Sanders out to debate him. Not for free, but for a "charity pot" first proposed at $10 million then upped to $15 million. One would have thought if the guy really wanted to take on Bernie, he'd have lowered the threshold to increase the probability. But most of us smelled a rat from then. So no, we weren't astounded when the splenetic tycoon went the other direction - opting for less probability - making it appear he had no genuine interest in taking on Bernie.  As Howard Dean put it,  the guy is only "talking word salad most of the time". (And at the end I will show how the whole debate thing was a pile of rotten 'word salad' from the get go.)

According to Howard Dean, commenting on Chris Hayes' 'All In' two nights ago, after The Donald (speechifying in ND) burped out a spontaneous challenge to Bernie for a debate (paid for by $10 m in charity donations) - which Bernie then accepted on hearing of it:

"This is so typical of wacko Donald. He gets out there with his proposals and somebody calls his bluff and then he finesses, and dissembles and backs away. The only problem is that you shouldn't have this guy as President if he's going to back away from really tough people. I guarantee you no matter how tough Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are, Vladimir Putin is pretty tough too. So I don't think the country can risk having Donald Trump as President."

Dean then went on to say, shoving the knife in further:

"This is going to be a lot of fun. I hope it happens, I don't think there's any downside risk for Hillary and there's an upside possibility for Bernie. I think Bernie Sanders would clean wacko Donald's absolute clock"

Of course, both Hayes and Dean agreed that it wouldn't make any difference to Trump's groupies, because hell, nothing he's said in any Reepo debates have up to now. So they will, of course, believe their man slammed Bernie irrespective of how poorly he really performed. But the good thing is that such a debate - if it actually occurred- would be among the most viewed events in the history of political TV, and 80 percent of the audience would not be Trumpie. Falling polls anyone?

Thus, the optics of little old socialist Bernie eating The Donald's lunch in front of 75 million TV viewers, must have created instant angst in the orange -haired buffoon's campaign staff. His advisors then likely warned him to backtrack and "maybe raise the stakes a bit higher to make it unlikely". Thus the revised limit of $15 million in charity donations.

Now, seriously, if The Donald had any balls at all, billionaire that he is - and so certain of Bernie's defeat- he'd donate the  damned money to charity himself and welcome the debate.

But most gamers were savvy enough not to bet on that. Indeed, yesterday morning, reporter Julianna Goldman on CBS Early Show, noted she'd asked a Trump campaign official on the chances of holding the debate - on a 0 to 10 scale with 10 being certainty. The "official" - according to Goldman, wisely replied "zero".

Reinforcing that Trump is terrified of the actual prospect of a debate with Sanders was this breaking news bulletin, read out by Chris Hayes yesterday afternoon at 2:35 p.m. CDT, giving The Donald's excuse in his issued 'statement' for not engaging:

"Based on the fact the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and crooked Hillary Clinton and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee it seems inappropriate to debate a second place finisher. Likewise, if the networks want to make a killing on this event they are proving not to be too generous at charitable causes, in this case women's health issues. Therefore, as much as I would want to debate Bernie Sanders - and it would be an easy payday - I will wait to debate the first place finisher of the Democratic Party, probably crooked Hillary Clinton."

Which is total, unadulterated codswallop! Because The Donna knew all along, from the get go, that super delegates dominated the Dem primary process. Also, that since Hillary's NY win it has become abundantly clear Bernie would never be the first place finisher. So bottom line, Trump rendered this elaborate bullshit excuse because he  knew how bad it would look ("optics") for millions to see him get his clock cleaned by a "second place" Dem finisher.

As one MSNBC commentator on the panel, Josh Barrow, observed about the Trump statement:

"The one thing I don't get about this Trump statement is how juvenile it is. Very few people seem bothered by the idea of an extremely juvenile President. I think it's a bad thing in its own right regardless of what his policies are. The President should not behave like a child and Donald Trump behaves likes  child."

Indeed. And the first proof for Trump in showing maturity would have been standing by his word in agreeing to a debate, as opposed to chickening out when Bernie called his big mouth bluff.

What will the guy do when Putin calls his bluff on a nuclear deal? Maybe cry, stomp his feet and bawl: "I wanna go home, Mr. Bad Man!"

Friday, May 27, 2016

Post-Brachytherapy Treatment PSA Spikes to 6.0 - Not So "Golden"


The UCSF "CAPRA" Score Table & prostate location. CAPRA predicts the likelihood of a cancer's recurrence, metastasis and the risk of a patient dying from prostate cancer.  The greater the point sum the larger the risks. (Source: UCSF document on 'Brachytherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer'. )

Within hours of posting the results of my post gall -bladder surgery follow up check (declared "golden" by the surgeon) my primary physician called and left a message about wanting to refer me to the Urological Associates here in COS. This is because the last test - 3 days ago - had disclosed a PSA spike of 2.23 ng/ml to 6.0. I immediately phoned her office back and said that I preferred no specialist referrals at this time, certainly until after I had contacted my oncologist at UCSF (San Francisco).

Even with that contact I referenced the work on salvage therapy by Dr. Kent Wallner, see e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2014/01/rising-psa-after-radiation-therapy-dont.html

And also that I was prepared to wait further (given in some cases the post-brachytherapy PSA doesn't finally come down until after 5 years.). In any case, I told him I do not plan on having any salvage therapy whether that be surgery, or further radiation or god forbid anti-androgen therapy. The latter is a nightmare for the men who have it, diminishing their physical capabilities, as well as mental and emotional.  As I told Janice, I'd rather live another 3-5 years with my mental faculties intact (including not suffering from depression or having to take anti-depressants) than live 15 more years as a mental, physical and emotional vegetable.  (Another alternative in the mix is to have another PSA test, the "free PSA". Studies have found when it's less than 24% there is almost a 90 percent chance the cause is cancer or in my case, returned cancer.)

I know my primary doc, however, is an over-achiever and alpha female committed to "perfecto" stats for all of her patients. (Well, she was at least happy my a1c - approaching diabetic levels at 6.3 five months ago -  has gone down to 5.5. because of rigorous exercise and avoiding all sweets, sugary stuff) But as I made clear,  no more  needle biopsies especially given the residual scar tissue from the high dose (1920 cGy) Brachy radiation, and after just having had a gall bladder surgery. No further biopsy referrals unless based on the new fusion-guided method, e.g.



This, as opposed to the standard needle biopsy (which I had in July 2012 - see my post then) which is antiquated by comparison. As noted in the Scientific American Handbook on Prostate Disorders (by H. Ballentine Carter, M.D.):

"Standard biopsies often detect indolent or inactive tumors, that won't spread beyond the gland and become deadly. More worrisome, first-time standard biopsies miss up to 35 percent of dangerous tumors that require treatment."

The UCSF document (Brachytherapy for Localized Prostate Cancer) notes that: "The biology of the cancer makes it likely to recur even after the best treatment." It adds that the cancer "may also change into a different form, say from an adenocarcinoma to small cell cancer".

And if the worse comes to the worst? Let's say I do get that fusion guided biopsy and it shows the cancer is still relatively localized. Then I will adopt a "wait and see" approach rather than rush into anything. If, however, it has metastasized from the original four localized areas and is ready to "burst the capsule" I will have to consider options available - so long as those options don't radically degrade life quality.. I'm also ok with doing nothing, as long as I can get a few years of life quality and critical organs aren't threatened -  or there's a chance to prevent invasion of lymph nodes. All other factors being equal I am ok with a few extra years of quality life as opposed to 12 or 15 of not so great quality.

Heck, I have revised my living will and am now in the process of revising my existing last will and testament. (Which, btw, every sensible American ought to have unless they want the state to grab everything!) Death does not terrify me, and in any case there are much worse outcomes - maybe living longer but developing Alzheimer's disease as my mother did. She lived to be 91 years of age, but the last 15 were mostly survived in a haze, with her unable to acknowledge where she was, or what she had just said five minutes earlier.

In the end, it's all relative and we each have to pick our own terms of surrender ...or not.

See also this informative site on dealing with biochemical recurrence:

http://www.harvardprostateknowledge.org/how-to-handle-a-relapse-after-treatment-for-prostate-cancer

See also:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2015/12/testosterone-blocking-cancer-drugs.html

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Post-Op Followup Verdict: "You're golden!"

Wifey and I entered the surgeon's office at Penrose-St. Francis' Hospital with some minor trepidation about this post-op follow up. The basis for it was for the surgeon to assess: a) whether any incipient complications had arisen since the surgery on May 16, and b) whether the sterile bandage strips could finally come off after some eight days.

Before that I was questioned on any observations made concerning pain and how I dealt with it, or whether I'd experienced any noticeable side effects from the recent laparoscopic choloscystectomy. I noted the main thing was increasing pain experienced in the liver area each time I popped an ibuprofen on the 7th day after the surgery.  So, I decided to stop the ibuprofen.

This was done with very good reason as the limiting factor of diminishing returns appeared to have set in: I was deriving only limited benefit of decreased inflammation, and getting more pain (in the liver area) I didn't need or want. (It abated within hours of stopping the ibuprofen).

Of course, I'd been aware of the dangers from OTC pain killers since an article in the AARP Bulletin from September last year (p. 10). It noted that though Americans regularly use these pain-killers, like ibuprofen and naproxen (as well as Advil, Motrin and Aleve) they increased one's risk of heart attack and stroke. As the AARP piece put it (ibid.):

"Studies reviewed by a Food and Drug Administration Advisory Panel last year found mounting evidence that NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure whether or not a person has heart disease."

Of course, they aren't exactly good for your liver either, which has the role of processing all chemicals, additives,  toxins entering your body.  The basic takeaway advice in the article was (p. 11):

"Do not use these medications for minor aches and pains - but use acetominophen (Tylenol) or aspirin instead  Restrict NSAID use to more severe cases of pain - and stick to the lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible."

So, I basically had stuck with 200 mg four times daily for a week (avoiding the hydrocodone entirely because the ibuprofen worked)  But I stopped after 7 days and changed to aspirin, a couple low dose every 6 hours. The swelling has since continued to go down and the pain's eased up.

The surgeon listened attentively then removed the sterile bandages and examined the essentially healed wounds and said matter of factly: "You're golden! Just eat more or less what you will, not too much fat, and lay off any heavy lifting for at least four weeks."

The main wound, as I observed it closely for the first time, was about a 1.3-inch scar right across the base of the belly button. He explained that this was the incision through which the largest stone (1" across) was extracted as well as the gall bladder.

As I looked at the scar I thought of the old sci-fi series 'Stargate' in which one of the alien species encountered (the gua-old) were nasty parasites that could be extracted through the humanoid host's umbilicus, e.g.
Jaffa Primta pouch

Main thing now is the swelling surrounding the wound is gradually decreasing.  A week ago it was the size of a small egg, now about the size of a large marble.

One more point, as an atheist I ordinarily would probably not have selected a Catholic hospital for the surgery. However, they were tied to the top flight group of surgeons in our town: Colorado Springs Surgical Associates. On inspection of their website I could easily see they racked up the most hours as well as incidence of gall bladder removals. As my friend in NC (Rick) put it: "Look, you want to get someone who's done hundreds of these, not some general surgeon who just took a 12 -hour weekend course in gall bladder removals!"

Well, I followed his advice and so far I don't regret it. I'm "golden"! Now, I'm just wondering when I can get to Outback and enjoy a 14 oz. ribeye.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

David Harsanyi Has A Proposal To "Weed Out Ignorant Voters" - But Would It Be Constitutional?

In his article in yesterday's Denver Post ('Weed Out The Ignorant Voters', p. 15A), David Harsanyi makes an impassioned plea to "weed out" ignorant and irresponsible voters. I will let Harsanyi make his case in his own words then look at his solution:

"Never have so many people with so little knowledge made so many consequential decisions for the rest of us.

A person need only survey the inanity of the ongoing presidential race to comprehend that the most pressing problem facing the nation isn't Big Business, Big Labor, Big Media or even Big Money in politics.

It's you, the American voter. And by weeding out millions of irresponsible voters who can't be bothered to learn the rudimentary workings of the Constitution or their preferred candidate's proposals or even their history, we may be able to mitigate the recklessness of the electorate."

Harsanyi goes on to rule out such nonsense as "checking the box for the candidate whose campaign ads you like best", or the one you'd most like to have a brewskie with. Those don't count because they are the emotional province of the political moron. No, what is needed is a solid knowledge test to see if people casting ballots are truly qualified to do so. (Bearing in mind the enormous consequences of elections, and how they can impact millions of people's lives.)

As a first approach in determining whether a person meets minimal qualifications for participating in a democracy, Harsanyi recommends the prospective voter pass a basic civics test  - the same one administered to prospective citizens. This, by the way, is not the same as the old "poll tax" type test  given in the Jim Crow South to blacks. The latter were always given at the whim of the precinct captains and could be as long or as short as they wanted, and as complex and quixotic as they needed - to exclude African Americans,

NO, Harsanyi's version would for basic civics that any citizen worth his salt ought to know. It would be the same 10 or so questions each year though obviously the content would change for the questions because we can't have answers being memorized - as that destroys the whole purpose.

Example questions offered by Harsanyi:

1) If both the President and Vice President can no longer serve who becomes President?

This one is so critical it ought to be a disqualifier if anybody gets it wrong (The answer, of course, is the Speaker of the House).  Given the U.S. electoral system has a rigid line of succession there ought to be no argument that some questions are just too important to be missed.  Call them 'bomb out' questions - you "bomb out" and you can not vote in that general election. (You can in the next cycle  if you get the bomb out question correct and at least  7/10 overall, which seems to be the  Harsanyi  standard.)

2) There were 13 original colonies, name three.

Again, this is important but I wouldn't rank it at the criticality of (1).   (Though being unable to name at least one comes close to meeting the 'bomb out' standard for abject historical ignorance. But who knows, the bozos who believe Larry Schweikart is the last word on historical veracity might come close!)

3) What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?

Again, easy peasy, and to me - anyone who can't recall or name "freedom of speech" doesn't merit having any!

4) What is freedom of religion?

This one also ought to be straightforward but given today's 'Know nothing', FAUX News and sloppy media culture I wouldn't be surprised if many got it wrong.

Other questions for the Voter Qualifying test I'd consider along with Harsanyi's :

-  Name three amendments from the Bill of Rights.

-  Is there such a thing as "state's rights? Explain

- What is meant by an unenumerated right?

-  Name your state's governor and two Senators, and the party of each.

 None of these ought to give anyone shock or hysteria.

Personally, if a citizen can't even name 3 out of 10 of the amendments of the bill of rights, s/he doesn't deserve to be called a citizen,  far less be allowed to cast ballots. (This issue also came up after 9/11 when Bush and Company were jettisoning civil liberties left, right and center (under the 'Patriot Act') and polls showed most Americans who clamored most  ardently for these "security" precautions couldn't even name 6 of the amendments of the bill of rights.)

State's rights also ought to be a disqualifier if anyone gets it wrong especially in state elections. Any imbecile ought to know only flesh and blood HUMANS have rights, such as embodied in the Bill. Of Rights. States, by contrast, have prerogatives which are made and enforced by contract.

An "unenumerated right" may well be the most important of all because it includes all rights not specifically listed in the Constitution. Yet many Americans even today,-  thanks to propaganda, PR and BS -  think it means state's rights.  (Confusing it with the tenth amendment of the Bill of Rights, i.e. "powers not delegated to the federal government are delegated to the states or to the people".  Meaning of course, the powers are in the form of prerogatives for the states, and rights for the people.)

Lastly, if you can't even name your state's two Senators and governor you have more business playing tiddly winks than voting.

At the end of his proposed questions, Harsanyi writes:

"I have tempered confidence that at least a majority of the voting public could pass such a test - though I couldn't say the same for a majority of the presidential candidates. Certainly this should be a breeze for citizens who are so intensely involved in the process they feel compelled to plaster bumper stickers on their cars and attend rallies of their favorite candidates."

I totally concur.

In the next breath Harsanyi wonders if he's being "too optimistic", citing the case several years back when Newsweek asked a thousand voters to take the official citizenship test. In that scenario, "nearly 30 percent of voters couldn't name the Vice -President. More than 60 percent did not know the length of U.S. Senators' terms in office, and 43 percent couldn't state that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights."

To say this result is appalling is an understatement.

Harsanyi then cites an Annenberg Public Policy Center finding that only 36 percent of Americans could name all three branches of the U.S. government. Are you kidding me?

Harsanyi's, final point is one I totally support but likely we will never see it manifest, because in this country ignorance is considered bliss and the laws too often protect the ignorant:

"It literally takes seconds to learn about the fundamentals of our republic and the positions of candidates.  If you forsake the power of information you have no standing to tell the rest of us how to live our lives. Don't vote!"

I also agree when he avers:

"I refuse to believe that working class or underprivileged citizens are any less capable of understanding the meaning of the Constitution or the contours of governance than the supercilious 1 -percenters."

Speaking of the Constitution,  what does it have to say about the right to vote and whether having prospective voters prove they're qualified is disallowed?  Amendment XV, which was ratified by the states in 1870 in Section 1, declares: ."The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Note carefully the wording in the last sentence. It does not say anything about use of a basic civics test to determine qualification.

Never mind. The absolute right to vote will mistakenly be seen as god-given to every 'Murican - no matter how ignorant, brainwashed or unquaified the voter may be.

To the detriment of the rest of us, as Harsanyi puts it so well.



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

John Denver's 'Rocky Mountain High' En Route To A Nightmare


No automatic alt text available.
Cougars (top) and bears (below) are increasingly moving into more developed areas of Colorado because of the loss of habitat due to human encroachment.


Who can forget the end of the seventh verse of John Denver's terrific hit, 'Rocky Mountain High':

Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more...
More people, more scars upon the land....


Well, we now know those words, written (and sung) more than 30 years ago, presaged what is happening to Colorado now. This was revealed in a Denver Post article four days ago, dealing with the increased takeover of once pristine or public lands for other uses, including fracking and private development.

"The more people" aspect was revealed three days ago in a front page article tracing the genesis of Colorado's Front Range housing crunch. To put it in numerical terms: 102, 000 poured into the state last year but only 25,000 new homes were built to accommodate them,  While in urban areas like Denver this is creating a pressure, high density crunch, in others it's causing gentrification. In the latter, long time residents complain about not even being able to see the mountains any longer because "newcomers have put up new, $1.25 million homes blocking the view".  The same old timers complain that these new arrivals "in BMWs" have incepted many new restaurants, but "most are unaffordable".

According to The Post's analysis:

"Urban sprawl, commerce and drilling claim the equivalent of a football field every 2 1/2/ minutes- roughly a Los Angeles sized open area every year."

The effect is to rapidly fragment the available land which isn't a good thing for humans or wildlife.. According to David Theobald, a Colorado State University conservation biologist quoted in the article:

"If we want to have wildlife populations be able to move across the land, the most widely recommended strategy is connectivity of landscapes. If we are increasingly fragmented that does not bode well."

What he means by that is Coloradans are then much more likely to encounter wildlife in their backyards that don't belong there, including: mountain lions (which have a nasty tendency to eat any pets left out), bear - black and brown, and coyotes.  Thus, the more open space is consumed - by either sprawl, development or fracking, the less habitat available to wildlife and the more probable encounters with humans - which usually don't redound to the benefit of the critters.

Fracking operations "tearing mountains down"  on W. Slope

Looking in more detail, the study found that "the main driver was energy development (i.e. oil and natural gas fracking) which drove 32.7 percent of the transformation in Colorado."

This energy development now includes no less than 55,000 active wells and 40,000 inactive . Next is urban sprawl which expansion has caused 22.3 percent of the change in land use in Colorado. Meanwhile, transportation activities are responsible for 4.1 percent of change.

  Apart from the human factor, climate change and nature are taking  a separate toll: As reported by the Post in a follow-up piece (May 21, p  13A), "the mountain pine beetle has chewed up 3.4 million acres of Colorado forest land - according to the state forest service." The origin of the beetle in Colorado forests is tied directly to climate change- global warming and interested readers can find details here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/science/18trees.html?pagewanted=all

Moving forward, it appears at the rate more people are entering and settling in our state - not all of whom have any affinity for the preservation of its natural beauty - it may not be long before John Denver's nightmare version of his song manifests.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lee Oswald Innocence Campaign - Long Overdue, But Welcome!

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Lee Oswald assassinated by Jack Ruby, never received the right to a trial by jury. Assuming we still believe in our system of jurisprudence, he remains innocent - having never been proven otherwise.

        “I believe that irrefutable evidence shows conspirators, none of them Oswald, killed JFK. A mentally ill Jack Ruby, alone and unaided, shot Oswald. The federal inquiry knowingly collapsed and theorized a political solution. Its corruption spawned theorists who tout solutions rather than define the facts that are locked in the massively muddied evidentiary base, and released only by hard work.”
Prof.. David R. Wrone, in The Journal of Southern History(6), February, 1995, p. 188.


Bravo to the Lee Oswald Innocence campaign, e.g.

http://www.oswald-innocent.com/

For over fifty years now the family of  Lee Harvey Oswald- as well as the memory of the man himself - have been slandered in the corporate media (partly with the assistance of Operation Mockingbird assets - google the term) with no redress. Using first a fraudulent whitewash organ in the "Warren Commission", then the steady drumbeat of the media to repel all attempts to shed light on the actual facts of the case, the Oswald family has been left disconsolate as its name has been dragged through the mud by a determined security state.


That state has resolved that no other line of facts will emerge from the 53 year old case to expose what really happened and that Lee Harvey Oswald is totally innocent of anything to do with Kennedy death.  Author James Douglass ('JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died And Why It Matters') is owed a debt of gratitude by the JFK research community for being among the first to show the CIA had planned a hit on Kennedy almost 3 weeks before Dallas.

Douglass showed that Thomas Arthur Vallee, had been earmarked as the Chicago assassin for Kennedy’s proposed visit on Nov. 2, 1963. Vallee, like Oswald,   was sheep-dipped, and likely selected for patsy-hood using a false defector program that the ONI originally set up in 1959. Had JFK traveled to Chicago, we’d likely only have heard of  Vallee and never known a Lee Harvey Oswald. Thus, Vallee, another designated "lone nut" ( Thomas Beckham)  and Lee Oswald,  were simply interchangeable pieces on the CIA’s chess board for executive action.  Why didn't the plan go off? Douglass makes use of the telephone record disclosing a man named "Lee" had phoned in advance to alert the Chicago FBI  and blow up the scheduled hit (Op. cit., p. 206).

Thus, Oswald's disruption of the Chicago plot to kill Kennedy mutated to a Dallas plot to use Oswald instead as the go-to patsy. All that needed to be done were: 1) Paint him as a lone psycho commie and violent (setting up the Walker shooting to pin on Lee), and 2) Manipulate him into a job at the Texas School Book Depository (pegged to be the "official" location of the kill shot by the actual conspirators).

The first was accomplished by a process of framing Lee, see e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-pre-assassination-framing-of-lee.html

And:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-pre-assassination-framing-of-lee_1807.html

The second was implemented thanks to the chicanery of Ruth Paine. Paine, who Warrenites seem to hold up as some kind of unquestioned paragon or model citizen, never acknowledged in any of her testimony that she withheld from Lee the news of a better paying job offer made on Oct. 15, 1963. This came by way of phone call to the Paine Residence from Robert Adams of the Texas Employment Commission. According to the documented materials presented by author James Douglass (op. cit., p. 171):

"Adams spoke with someone at the Paines' number about his being prepared to give Oswald referral for permanent employment as a baggage handler at Trans Texas Airways for a salary $100 a month higher than that offered by the Book Depository's temporary job".

Adams then left a message with whomever took his call for Lee to contact him about the job, but this was never done. Adams tried to phone Oswald the next day, and was told he "wasn't here". Why? Why wasn't the better paying job information passed on to Oswald? Given Paine's background, and her connections to CIA people like her sister (Sylvia Hyde Hoke)  and Allen Dulles, the obvious reason was to put the patsy in place.


These are important insights, make no mistake, because they bear on the will to use whatever subterfuge and ruse to kill Kennedy and deflect attention from the actual perpetrators and architects to a decoy.  That decoy was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Former Swiss Spezialdienst Rolf, a friend for over 38 years, makes no bones about the fact the Dallas hit on Kennedy was a "classic use of decoy to execute a head of state".  He ought to know, he's been more than familiar with similar hits on the continent (as part of Projekt 26 files.)  Those include the use of "doppelgangers" or doubles (like the multiply reported Oswald double) to misdirect the public and enable the security state's media assets to assist in portraying the patsy as unstable, as well as the only perp possible.

As I reported in my Nov. 20, 2014 post:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2014/09/switzerland-destination-for-kennedy.html

Rolf reported that the Oswald double, who he called "Leon",  hid in plain sight in St. Gallen 'for many years'  albeit using a false identity. The Swiss left him alone to preserve neutral relations with the U.S. (they knew of the CIA Staff D assassinations project and the pair's involvement under William Harvey and the NSA). Also they had no idea whether “Leon” was one of the actual killers or only played the role of a double to divert attention and implicate Oswald.  The SD leaned to the latter.


As for the illustrious Warren Commission, Rolf's take - as noted earlier- was it had been "little more than a PR job mainly done to cover Johnson’s ass "  LBJ put together a "commission"  all right, but it wasn't federal (that would've been the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA)   formed in 1978- which, incidentally, found for a conspiracy. Nor did Johnson politely "call on" then Chief Justice Earl Warren. He freaking threatened him with exposure of a past humiliating incident if he refused to cooperate.   Johnson needed the credibility of Warren so the media would accept the commission as a bona fide government entity as opposed to a creature of Johnson's whim and machinations. (Johnson’s first kneejerk reaction was to form a “Texas Commission” to look into the assassination, with staff entirely composed of Texans.).

 Anyway, Johnson's taped words to an aide were - after speaking to Warren (cf. Michael R. Beschloss, Taking Charge:The Johnson White House Tapes 1963-64, 1997, p. 72, as cited by Russ Baker, in 'Family of Secrets', p. 46):

"Warren told me he wouldn't do it under any circumstances...He came down here and told me 'No'...twice. And I just pulled out what[FBI Director} Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City....And he started crying and said: 'I won't turn you down...I'll just do whatever you say.'

Texas hogswill? Hardly. Not when seen in the context of other LBJ actions, e.g. going behind Kennedy's back to get back channel reports (from the CIA)  on the Vietnam situation. In fact, a character so warped that despite all the recent efforts at hagiography, there is little doubt LBJ helped plan the hit knowing the alternative was to be dumped from the 1964 ticket as a result of the Bobby Baker scandal (set to hit the presses Nov. 26 in a LIFE expose), then be prosecuted. Lest anyone believe this too far-fetched let's reference that Jackie Kennedy herself - in an interview with historian Arthur Schlesinger  in 1964 - expressed her belief that LBJ had her husband killed as part of a plot with Texas oilmen.

All of this in tandem points the finger of guilt clearly away from Lee Oswald, as well as the fact one is innocent until proven guilty and that had never been done. In other words, Lee Oswald was himself assassinated before his own trial (the only real venue for proving his guilt) and this was then replaced by a Potemkin trial in the name of the Warren Commission and its ensuing "report" (also a farrago of lies, distortions and omitted testimony from key witnesses). See e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/11/frequently-asked-questions-on-jfk_14.html

Some innominate Wordpress bloggers are, of course, unhappy about the Oswald Innocence Campaign.  They are foursquare convinced he was the one and only assassin- and despite all the contrary indicators (as given above), and the failed WC  rifle tests (with 3 master marksmen unable to exactly replicate Oswald's alleged feat with the same rifle and conditions)remain convinced that Lee is guilty. In a sense this is cognitively dissonant and preposterous given in this country a man is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Does the same not apply to Lee? Evidently not in the minds of the rush to judgement pro-Warrenites - convinced that fraudulent whitewash Commission did the job. It did not.


The innocence campaign objectors  also - in at least one case- have zoomed in on one piece of evidence offered, i.e., that Lee was outside the TSBD when the hit occurred and hence not on the 6th floor firing as the WC claims.

But this misses the boat. Clearly, Oswald's innocence doesn't pivot on one photograph (or many) of whether or not he was outside at the time of the shooting. Rather, it is  already predicated on the unimpeachable fact that he never received a jury trial and hence in its absence must be presumed innocent,  if we are faithful to our legal system.  Potemkin show trials and kangaroo courts held with Lee 6 ft. under do not count. Sorry!

Further, the entire constellation of indicators (of which I've given a subset in this post) clearly points away from him as the lone assassin, or as any co-assassin! Hence, Lee's innocence doesn't fall on one single prop and one would hope most researchers are intelligent enough to see that. Granted it would be a very unambiguous prop, but it's not the sole one, and as I said that "innocent until proven guilty" (by jury) presumption hangs hugely over any and all discussions.

The objective researcher who examines the files, transcripts,  images, and testimony (including that not given in the "official" perverted venue) must be at least clear that: a) Lee was not the one who killed JFK, and b) we have enabled (as James Douglass informs us) the actual conspirators to have completely escaped prosecution or any accountability.

In Douglass’ words:.

“Our collective denial of the obvious, in the setting up of Oswald and his transparent silencing by Ruby, made possible the Dallas cover-up. The success of the cover-up was the indispensable foundation for the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy by the same forces at work in our government – and ourselves:

Hope for change in the world was targeted and killed four times over. The cover-up of all four murders, each leading into the next, was based – first of all –on denial. Not the government’s but our own- and the unspeakable was not far away.” .