Saturday, July 22, 2017

Was SPLC Wrong to Educate Middlebury Students On Covert Hate Monger Charles Murray?

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Protesters at Middlebury College not long ago, and subversive, racist - eugenicist hate monger Charles Murray.

Let us concede we live in treacherous times for bastardized memes and subtle mind viruses to be unleashed on an unsuspecting populace, especially by those endowed with an academic cachet or more or less benign appearance. There is no doubt,  not one, that if Josef Goebbels had re-materialized at Middlebury College four months ago and brandished a thesis that Jews were inferior and hence needed to be eliminated, there'd have been an unholy outcry. And oh yeah, a lot more than screaming and pulling fire alarms would have gone on. Also that there would have been no mistaking such a screed for "free speech".  In fact, if erupted from Middlebury's students they'd have been lauded rather than now vilified for "attacking free speech" regarding Charles Murray's attempted appearance.

The screeching of most of the media - including some overpaid moron named Carl M. Cannon at 'Real Clear Politics' -e.g.

 has been that the great Murray was delivered a hate -filled beat down and after all he does hold a "doctorate from MIT" and is a member of the "esteemed American Enterprise Institute".

But before our compadres on the Right do backflips in exultation at Murray's claimed respectability, let us bear in mind that the Jew-hating  Joseph Goebbels also  obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1921. So a doctorate is no assurance of respectability or moral probity. After all,  this eugenics -imbued mastermind of Nazi propaganda is the one who developed numerous tracts comparing Jews to vermin, paving the way for the Final solution.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-0821-502, Joseph Goebbels.jpg

As for the American Enterprise Institute, which the ignorant hack Cannon praises, e.g. "this Washington-based think tank is devoted to 'defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world."  (sic, barf) let's not overlook the applicable facts here:

The AEI  were the ones offering scientists up to $10,000 each to write tracts and op -ed pieces denying global warming.  As reported by the UK Guardian "letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered."

Real charming bunch of individuals devoted to "human dignity" there. They'd allow humanity the "freedom" to burn in an unbearable hothouse world - devoid of polar ice caps and glaciers, coastal cities sinking, diseases rampant-  because they've enabled liars and propagandist schmucks to brainwash people into thinking climate change is a myth or hoax.

According to The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), of which I've been a member for over 15 years, Murray - like the AEI -  "advocates the total elimination of the welfare state, affirmative action and the Department of Education, arguing that public policy cannot overcome the innate deficiencies that cause unequal social and educational outcomes".

This academic reprobate's central thesis (in The Bell Curve) is that:

"the United States has experienced dysgenic pressures throughout either most of the century (the optimists) or all of the century (the pessimists). Women of all races and ethnic groups follow this pattern in similar fashion. There is some evidence that blacks and Latinos are experiencing even more severe dysgenic pressures than whites, which could lead to further divergence between whites and other groups in future generations.”"

A section that could have come straight out of Goebbel's hands.   What are Murray's "dysgenic pressures"?  They are the selection effects, factors responsible for the reduction of a population's intelligence arising from a regressive gene pool.  In this case,  because blacks and Latinos exhibit lower average I.Q.s than whites (or Orientals) they impact the aggregate gene pool adversely sending the overall intelligence lower.

Note that while Murray has loudly insisted he's not espousing eugenics, the very use of the term "dysgenic" - which recognizes negative eugenics, show that he is.

One here is led to reference Goebbel's tract (The Nazi -Sozi, 1932) cited by Konrad Heiden in his monograph The Fuehrer, :

"Certainly the Jew is also a man, but the flea is also an animal. And the other animals do not harbor and cultivate the flea but exterminate it"

To be sure, Goebbels in his tract is blunt, crude and merciless. There is no effort to disguise exactly what his eugenics theme means.  This is unlike Murray's which basically says the same thing (pertaining to Latinos and blacks),  but is couched in academic lingo (delivered in the guise of a serious academician)  to disarm any would be critics.  Thus, because Murray offers an academic patina he is to be treated respectfully and given a fair hearing for his toxic ideas, mind viruses and memes.  "Free speech", after all. But under SPLC tutelage the Middlebury students weren't fooled and were not about to confer respect, gravitas or dignity to a racist rapscallion.

The SPLC again:

"Many criticisms of The Bell Curve, most notably Charles Lane’s thorough takedown in The New York Review of Books, have pointed out that Murray’s attempts to link social inequality to genes are based on the work of explicitly racist scientists. In an afterward to the book, Murray rejects criticisms that rest on the fact that “we cite thirteen scholars who have received funding from the Pioneer Fund, founded and run ([Lane] alleged) by men who were Nazi sympathizers, eugenicists, and advocates of white racial superiority.” Murray contends that the racist pseudo-scientists he cites “are some of the most respected psychologists of our time” and that “the relationship between the founder of the Pioneer Fund and today’s Pioneer Fund is roughly analogous to that between Henry Ford and today’s Ford Foundation.”

In fact, the Pioneer Fund’s ties to eugenics and white supremacy are not nearly as historically remote as Murray would have his readers believe. The president of the Pioneer Fund at the time The Bell Curve was written was Harry Weyher, who was a personal friend of the Fund’s founder, Wickliffe Draper, and shared his supposedly archaic views on race; just two months after the initial publication of The Bell Curve, Weyher gave an interview in which he argued, among other things, that desegregation had “wreck[ed] the school system.”

Russ Bellant, author of 'Old Nazis, The New Right And The Republican Party', South End Press, 1991) traces the current incarnation of the Pioneer Fund back to the Reagan era with the likes of Ralph Scott and Roger Pearson both of whom "received tens of thousands of dollars from the Pioneer Fund which assists researchers attempting to prove Black inferiority".

So we return to the central question: Should an idea - no matter how abhorrent and toxic  - be able to receive an unopposed hearing anywhere?  Especially at a university? And the answer now, as before  when I posted about it (Jan. 9. 2015) , is absolutely not! 

As I noted then:

"There is a vast gulf between what clueless humans call "freedom of expression" and moral communication.  The key difference is that moral communication does not incite to violence, by castigating and vilifying a whole people. And yes, that means words and cartoons can act as murderous weapons! They embed themselves in the mind, especially of those already with axes to grind, and incite them to take precipitous action.

And lest we take that as a freak exception let us recall how Limbaugh once referred to Leftists as "cockroaches" e.g.

And the Nazis during the Third Reich regularly depicted the Jews in cartoons and films as "rats". E.g.

Was this free expression or free speech, given the horrific effect it had? Of course not! It was the most scurrilous, vile refuse and propaganda masquerading as speech. No form of propaganda is defensible, whether in books, film or cartoons. This is not free speech but hate speech. It defiles the user as it does the target, reducing each - via dehumanization. See the Nazi material produced on the Jews in the preceding link."

Back to the SPLC again:

"Murray and Herrnstein described Richard Lynn, whose work they relied on more than any other individual, as “a leading scholar of racial and ethnic differences.” In his many subsequent defenses of Lynn, Murray neglected to mention the many serious methodological criticisms of Lynn’s work, or his contributions to white supremacist publications including, American Renaissance and Mankind Quarterly, the last of which Lynn also serves on the editorial staff of.

The Bell Curve not only relied on “tainted sources” like Lynn, but is itself making a fundamentally eugenic argument. The central, and most controversial chapter of the book, focuses on the threat of “dysgenesis,” a term that Murray and Herrnstein claimed to have borrowed from population biology, but which in actuality was coined and has been used exclusively by eugenicists to describe the problem that their policy proposals were intended to fix. Dysgenesis refers to the supposed genetic deterioration of a population, but while Murray and Herrnstein wrote as though it represents mainstream science, dysgenesis is not considered to be a real phenomenon by modern evolutionary biologists. It is widely accepted only among the “scholars of racial and ethnic differences” that appear so prominently in The Bell Curve’s bibliography."

In other words, like Goebbels' own distorted eugenics (applied to Jews),  Murray and Herrnstein's is also tainted by pseudo-science, yet has the disproportional effect of undermining the fundamental fabric of our society if taken seriously. Again, why should anyone have to waste gray matter rebutting this offal any more than Goebbel's comparison of Jews to fleas? The point is there is no intellectual rebuttal possible that will persuade the minions who emotionally  gravitate to these toxic notions, given they use the notions as points of support for their racist beliefs. Hence, best to not to allow the emotional chords to be excited in the first place!

We may conclude the students at Middlebury were right to disrupt Murray as they likewise would have been to disrupt Josef Goebbels.  (They were not right to engage in any physical force or assaults, obviously ) The reason is that hate speech, irrespective of any academic veneer, merits no special place or respect and absolutely no dignifying by resort to a "free speech" ruse to peddle it.  As the notorious Gen. Hudson Austin opined after slaughtering hundreds in the Spice Island of Grenada (before U.S. forces arrived in Operation Urgent Fury in 1983): "My biggest gift was being allowed free speech on the radio to pave the way for my purge!"

Hudson had been enabled - by the deft use of hate speech and propaganda - broadcast over Grenada's government radio, to enlist enough support to put hundreds of his political opponents  (to the New Jewel Movement) in the Richmond Hill prison. There,  antiaircraft weapons were subsequently used to slaughter Austin's hapless victims, after they were forced into the prison courtyard.

Most Americans never knew or heard about that, only about the invasion of the island nation which all the Caricom nations (including Barbados) had called for.

But Charles Murray would never advocate not!   Maybe not, directly. But it is but one small step to deem a race inferior before some faction will believe it is entitled to wipe out the group so designated. Let's not fool ourselves.

It is ironic beyond belief that Morris Dees is ridiculed in Cannon's piece using ad hominem ("a shyster") while the SPLC is deemed a "hate group", even as Murray and the AEI are extolled as the bearers of light and human dignity.  But this merely discloses how perverted the intellectual landscape and critical thinking basis  has become in the U.S., to the point the pro-Trump and right wing media and its memes now hold so much sway.

See also:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Will Trump Allow Space Weather Prediction Initiatives To Proceed?

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Several posts ago (July 18) I highlighted how our space weather forecasts are rendered replete with errors by virtue of changing magnetic fields. These can be localized solar region fields such as occur near sunspots (and which trigger large flares) or larger scale solar magnetic fields that interact with Earth's magnetosphere.  In any case, space weather research is motivated by the quest (and need) to understand the proximate and distal effects that solar activity has on the near Earth space environment. It also includes the effects on our electronic infrastructure.

In my June 10, 2012 post I noted that the CME (coronal mass ejection) you don't want to see is the one that smacks our planet broadside, sending power grids crashing down like so many tenpins, knocking out GPS satellites, and in general making life miserable for millions. As I noted in an earlier blog:

 We narrowly dodged such a monster six months before that blog post was written.  Less well known is that barely five weeks later, on July 23, a solar storm manifested which had a magnitude comparable to the classic Carrington event. It narrowly missed Earth but provided an object lesson on the need to plan and monitor for such intense events.

While it is some comfort to know that flare energy (as well as that to power coronal mass ejections) is limited by the magneto-hydrodynamic potentials available on a star like the Sun, this is not really much consolation if and when a major energy burst whacks us straight on broadside with 1 million amp field-aligned induction currents that have the potential to take out all our power grids in a cascade of failures. Space weather aficionados call such maxi-catastrophes "Carrington Events" after the signature original event that transpired in September, 1859. This event incepted geo-magnetic currents so large that for days telegraph operators could actually disconnect their equipment from battery power and send messages solely via the emergent "auroral currents".

In our own current situation, we've become a more vulnerable society by constructing mammoth, interlocked  power grids which can crash if the right combination of factors is imposed. While we do have high voltage transformers that connect directly to the ground (zero or earth potential) to neutralize power surges from lightning strikes, these don't afford any protection against powerful geo-magnetic currents that are induced in the earth and flow upward into the grid. Then such mammoth event, could spark calamity.

Over the last two years of the scientifically savvy Obama administration, notice was taken of these solar events and a strong impetus provided to monitor space weather and devise strategies for forecasts and dealing with impacts. In October, 2015, for example, the White House Office of Science and Technology released the National Space Weather Strategy:

And also an accompanying action plan:

Subsequently, an October 13, 2016 executive order called for space weather preparedness and efforts to minimize the extent of economic loss and human hardship from adverse space weather events such as powerful CMEs. See, e.g.:

One thing all workshop participants agreed on even then is that despite major developments in space weather modeling, the forecasting is still in its infancy. As I pointed out in my previous post on space weather, a lot of this can be attributed to inadequate data or observations by which to construct theoretical models. Let us note here that these are the gold standard for prediction, as opposed to relying on brute statistics - often using ex post facto methods.

One of the shortcomings which I noted before is the dearth of space craft between Earth and the Sun. One of the primary monitoring craft we have is confined to the L1 (Lagrangian) point i.e. where Earth's and Sun's gravities balance out. This is the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite which can measure the intensity and magnetic orientation of any CME that sweeps by it. There is also the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

A huge current problem is that ACE is nearly on its last legs and a replacement monitor is needed, lest we become "blind" to the killer CME with our name on it.

Is the Trump bunch doing anything to repair the ACE or ensure the other craft remain in prime monitoring positions? We don't know but it appears all these programs have been left to languish along with the development of forward strategies to deal with space weather cataclysms. One thing we do know is the space budget has been cut and severely.

The biggest need currently is open access  to models in space weather research. Such models being readily accessible to the space weather community will ensure we move forward expeditiously in forecasting, testing and validating models.

On the positive side, . Ed Perlmutter (CO-7th) introduced the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act.  The Act strengthens space weather research by directing federal agencies to develop new tools and technologies to improve forecasting and set benchmark standards to measure space weather disturbances and their potential impacts to Earth. The legislation outlines clear roles and responsibilities for the federal agencies which study and predict space weather events, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Additionally, the legislation enhances the relationships between federal agencies, academic researchers and the commercial industry. The legislation also directs NOAA to develop plans to provide a back-up for the aging Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite, the only currently operating satellite providing imagery of space weather that could impact Earth.

Even if by some small chance the Act passes the House, we have to hope it also passes the Senate and that Trump manages to muster enough sense to sign it. Don't hold your breath.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Will Trumpies Be Aroused From Their Coma By An ICBM Called "SATAN II"?

Russia unveiled chilling pictures of its largest ever nuclear missile, capable of destroying an area the size of France last month. A contract for the weapons was signed in 2011, and they are expected to be ready in 2018

The largest ICBM ever made: The RS Sarmat -28 or "Satan II" - in NATO nomenclature. One of these could wipe out an area the size of Texas. Are Trumpies finally going to take the Trump -Russia ties seriously, or punk out like fidget-spinner zombies?

To most Trumpie zombies, the whole Trump-Russia narrative is all baloney, pure bunk. They refuse to take it seriously and believe it is just a media-Democrat conspiracy to bring down the biggest horse turd to ever occupy the Oval Office.  They insist the narrative (and investigation) stop and just let the horse turd do what he was put into office for. Which most of us presume is to lay waste to this Republic and leave all ethical standards and norms in tatters, defining the country itself down to gutter level as he "fast forwards" its decline - according to one Aussie (Australian News) political editor.

How whacked out are the Trumpie zombies, otherwise known as "Storm Trumpers"?   Their alarming descent into madness is grimly illustrated in the results of a new survey by Public Policy Polling (PPP). Some examples from the survey:

  • Only 45% of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with Russians about information that might be harmful to Hillary Clinton...even though Trump Jr. admitted it. 32% say the meeting didn't happen and 24% say they're not sure.
  • 72% of Trump voters consider the Russia story overall to be 'fake news,' only 14% disagree.
  • Only 24% of Trump voters even want an investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, 64% are opposed to an investigation.
  • Only 26% of Trump voters admit that Russia wanted Trump to win the election, 44% claim Russia wanted Hillary Clinton to win, and 31% say they're not sure one way or the other.
  • Even if there was an investigation, and it found that the Trump campaign did collude with Russia to aid his campaign, 77% of his supporters think he should still stay in office to just 16% who believe he should resign.
A psychologist like my niece Shayl or Dr. Pat Bannister might inquire as to what manner of sickness we have displayed here. After all, less than half of the Trump disciples believe that Don Jr. met with Russians despite his having confirmed it. Shayl has already offered the opinion that the Storm Trumpers are suffering from the late stages of schizoid personality disorder and could use a number of sessions of ECT. But some of us wonder if even that can bring them back from their political delirium.  But look, the hacks who defend Trump and attack the Russiagate story aren't much more advanced.

According to WSJ resident nabob, Holman Jenkins ('On Don Jr. Media Can't Help  Itself'):

"The farcical element continues to predominate in Russiagate...But real trouble can flow even from a farce. Thinkers for whom Russia was just one problem in a world full of problems (who previously did not identify Moscow as the No. 1 enemy), now do so vociferously....Even the estimable Anne Applebaum - author of a book on the Soviet Gulag- now fulminates in The Washington Post against every recent president for 'failing to heed Russia's peculiar dangers'"


"Most U.S. reporters know they are overplaying the Trump-Russia connection, even as they revel in the Don Jr. gotcha moment."

In the same piece Holman mocks the import of the Russkie lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, as well as the "tubby British music publicist who babbled fourth hand Russian government support for the Trump effort".

This and other pieces probably led a Denver Post letter writer to scold the Post over its recent Trump-Russia coverage: "The 'smoking gun' ballyhooed by Democrats and The New York Times (and The Denver Post) is really only them blowing smoke. If anything it is a toy gun masquerading as a real one."

In other words, like Jenkins, he believes this is a whole lot of nothing, aka a "nothing burger". But is it really?

In terms of Jenkins' take,  let's first note that mere days later the WSJ featured a major story 'Lawyer Met With Russia's Top Prosecutor' (July 15-16, p. A5) pointing out that in fact Ms. Veselnitskaya had close ties with the Chief Prosecutor Yuri Chaika's office. Noting also that Chaika is a "top official appointed by the Kremlin".   In other words, she certainly wasn't the casual person of acquaintance Jenkins' makes her out to be.

Supporting that, in an interview on CBS Tuesday morning,  former U.S. fund manager William Browder told Charlie Rose and co-hosts that Veselnitskaya was the "most aggressive lawyer he'd ever met" and indeed went to the mat with him to try to overturn the Magnitsky Act.  This is a 2012 U.S. law that locked up Russian funds tied to its Kleptocratic oligarchs.  In response, Veselnitskaya  and her cohort have launched all out efforts to upend it.

Jenkins' and the Post letter writer's other strategy appears to dismiss the import by mocking the whole factual basis, including that the guy who contacted Donald Trump Jr. was Rob Goldstone, a "tubby" Brit clown who once blabbed - while on an African jaunt- that "the only thing to do here is eat".  Of course, mocking a conspiracy has always been one of the means used to try to dismiss it.  Just ask those who've investigated the JFK assassination for many decades.

But even if Don Jr. is dismissed as a dope or clueless dunce - as Holman Jenkins seeks to do -  other aspects betray the meeting in Trump Tower. As per a recent piece in TIME (July 24, p. 24), the giveaway may not have been so much Don Jr.'s reactions but what his co-colluders (Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort) did not do.   In particular, they "never dismissed the offer of very high level  Russian support as phony or fake. On the contrary the prospect of Russian assistance  was real enough to pull these busy men into a Trump Tower office to meet with a messenger (Veselnitskaya ) from Moscow."

Again, one needs to look beyond Trump Jr.'s foibles to what his companions did. Are Kushner and Manafort to be written off as "gullible clowns" too? I think not.   Even more damning - and given Veselnitskaya's actual background noted from the WSJ story:

"They also failed to report the alleged effort of a foreign power to influence the election".

As I told Janice on relating this information to her, it appears too many Americans now have had their brains and intellects gutted to the point they are little better than walking zombies. In establishing this it is always useful to go back in perspective to what citizens confronted by similar news would have done 50 years ago.  Without any doubt, none - zero, if this story broke of a U.S. President and his team meeting with the Russians the WHOLE nation (not just part of it) would literally have gone ballistic and called for all and sundry to be charged with treason. Yes, you read that, treason, not just collusion or even a Klein conspiracy.

Yet 40 percent of today's citizens (about the same who are committed to Trump come hell or high water) actually regard the Russians as "friends".  This is simply unfathomable. As TIME also notes (ibid.):

"From Damascus to Turtle Bay, from oil fields to outer space, Russia is a fierce rival of the U.S. and has been for generations.  What politician jumps in bed with Russia? Whether overt or covert, Moscow's stance toward Washington runs a short, troubling gamut from mischievous to hostile."

Then quoting Steven Pifer, former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine:

"Russia is the one country that could physically destroy America."

And to underscore that capacity, let us now introduce to readers the largest, most monstrous ICBM ever built: the RS-28 Sarmat Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, nicknamed that Satan II by NATO.   This 100 ton beast, one of which is capable of obliterating the state of Texas, has recently been revealed by the Russian Defense Ministry.

There are a number of aspects of this missile that ought to keep Trumpie zombies awake at night, or at least get them to reconsider their "Russiagate is nothing" or "Russia is our friend" memes, and especially the noisome "if Russia can help Trump defeat a Dem in 2020 we're ok with that".

One is that the Satan II has been designed with stealth technology, which means that it can be fired at a target without being detected by U.S. radar.  This means the Russians - if they wanted- could launch a pre-emptive strike to knock us out of the game before we could launch a single Minuteman III ICBM.    Another is that this missile can deliver up to 12 independently targeted warheads in the 350-500 kiloton (e.g. half a megaton) range. Any one of which could wipe out whole cities the size of Dallas, Houston, LA or Miami.   This also means the U.S. defenses would be rendered impotent, after all which particular warhead do you target with an anti-missile missile?

Add to that the capability of the Satan II coming across over the South Pole, as opposed to the usual North Pole track, and you have a nightmare scenario.

Let's again emphasize that by the time this beast is ready by 2020 it won't be aimed at Iran, Japan, India or Kenya. Nope. All five hundred-odd Satan IIs will be aimed at U.S. states - regions to deliver their nuclear payloads for imminent obliteration.   And no it shouldn't take a genius to grasp this.

What about Trump's 2nd (secret) meeting with Putin, with only a Kremlin translator there to help him? A bad scene all around since the translator could have told the Donald anything and he'd never be any the wiser.  But the most dangerous aspect isn't necessarily Trump cooking up some nefarious plan with Putin. No, it would be a U.S. President - a largely unread and stupid one with no security personnel of his own - in the presence of a supreme former KGB operator.  The latter, being a guy who can size an opponent up as formidable or a dumb turd in a micro-second.

And if the latter is interpreted, along with a critical character weakness, how long might it be before that is exploited, leading to a first strike nuclear attack to take out an enemy?

Maybe it's time the Trumpie faction of the nation start to get serious about the Trump-Russia issues too.

See also:



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Niall Ferguson Again Shows What A Bozo He Is -This Time On JFK

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, textSome four years ago (June 16 post to be exact) I skewered the semi-educated Brit twit named Niall Ferguson over his distortions of the fracking industry and its effects on water.. (Ok, actually I recounted Josh Fox's snappy takedowns of this puffed- up former Oxford don, noting how Josh  "ate his lunch" in the course of an appearance on Bill Maher's Real Time.)

Now, Ferguson is offering his inane, know nothing bloviations again, this time as part of a London Sunday Times polemic against John F. Kennedy. (One would have thought these latter day academic goofballs who know next to nothing of the Kennedy presidency would by now have steered clear of it, but like blind fools they put their feet into it every time).

In this specious polemic Ferguson makes use of a "contemporary" verdict on Kennedy's presidency to arrive at this sloppy conclusion:

"The resemblances between the two presidents are more than superficial. In particular both were too much inclined to see politics as a family affair. What the Trump presidency has revealed is not the way the presidency has changed as an institution but the way the American press has changed."

Implying that every major media piece blindly praised Kennedy as opposed to excoriating him. But anyone who paid attention to the media at the time knows this is bare bollocks.  For example,  the central organ of finance capital - The Wall Street Journal -  launched various diatribes accusing JFK of being a "statist" and other things. Some of those articles include:

- 8/6/62 'No Cause for Celebration'; p. 6;

- 3/26/63 'Too Much Money, Too Little Thought', p. 18;

- 8/15/63 'When Friends Become Foes', p. 8

Meanwhile, Henry Hazlitt, contributing editor at Newsweek (The Washington Post's sister publication) was airing many of the same complaints against JFK. These polemics, appearing regularly in Hazlitt's 'Business Tides', included taking JFK to task for his tax policies - including the proposed tax on U.S. business earnings abroad while he also chastised Kennedy for "welfare spending".

One month after the 8/15/63 WSJ article, Fortune implored Congress to stop JFK from using tax policy "as instruments to manage the economy". ('The Dream Businessmen Are Losing', Sept. 1963, p. 91).

As for the "contemporary  verdict" cited by Ferguson, it was undoubtedly excavated from one of the Reich wing nuts that detested him and all he stood for. Historian Arthur Schlesinger, in his book A Thousand Days, pulls no punches on how Kennedy was vilified:

“…in the domain of the radical right it all became much sicker and nastier. Not since the high point of the hate-Roosevelt enthusiasm of the mid-thirties had any President been the target of such systematic and foul vilification. Everything about Kennedy fed resentment: his appearance, his religion, his wealth, his intelligence, his university, his section of the country, is wife, his brothers, his advisers, his support of the Negroes, his refusal to drop the bomb.”

All this is germane now as we continue to see codswallop penned by semi-educated screwballs like Niall Ferguson.  The 'family affair' charge alone discredits everything else Ferguson writes. By way of historical note, JFK appointed his brother Bobby to the position of attorney general. A one off in terms of any claimed "nepotism". That was it. Trump meanwhile has had Don Jr. running campaign aspects and lying about meeting with Russkies (even getting the number he met with wrong), as well as son-in -law Jared making nice with the same Russkies and virtually taking over all State Dept. functions while wife Ivanka has set up her own office beside Daddy's in the White House. What exactly does Ivanka do? Who the hell knows?

How has Ferguson managed to make such an outsized mark for his over-inflated intellect? One theory advanced by Daniel W. Drezner in his book, The Ideas Industry  is that  "the extraordinary rise of the American superrich, a class interested in supporting a particular genre of ideas", has led to their wider dissemination.  According to a recent article in The New Republic ('The Rise of the Thought Leader: How The Superrich Have Funded A New Class Of Intellectual', June).

As the piece explains:

"Whereas public intellectuals like Noam Chomsky or Martha Nussbaum are skeptical and analytical, thought leaders like Thomas Friedman and Sheryl Sandberg “develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize that worldview to anyone within earshot.” While public intellectuals traffic in complexity and criticism, thought leaders burst with the evangelist’s desire to “change the world.” Many readers, Drezner observes, prefer the “big ideas” of the latter to the complexity of the former. In a marketplace of ideas awash in plutocrat cash, it has become “increasingly profitable for thought leaders to hawk their wares to both billionaires and a broader public,” to become “superstars with their own brands,"

Ferguson is also included in this class of plutocrat- funded nattering nabobs, e.g.

"Similarly, the historian Niall Ferguson leapt headlong into brand-building: crafting books intended as scripts for TV series, giving lucrative speeches, and writing for a dizzying array of publications. Like other overstretched thought leaders, Ferguson landed in trouble when his Newsweek cover story on President Obama in 2012 turned out to be riddled with errors and misleading claims. Interviewed for The Ideas Industry, Ferguson is frank about his transformation from Oxford don to thought leader: “I did it all for the money.”

Well, it is pretty clear one can also conclude vast errors are replete in his pseudo-historical comparisons of JFK to Trump.  And if he's already produced a tract "riddle with errors" on a relatively recent president, why the hell should anyone trust him on one living more than fifty years ago? Ferguson may know some history all right, but all of it ersatz history.

The NR piece again:

"As Drezner notes, some of the marquee names in thought leadership are distinguished by their facile thinking and transparent servility to the wealthy."

So clearly it would serve Ferguson's purpose of servility to the plutocrats to enhance Trump comparisons to Kennedy despite the fact virtually none exist (apart from being the offspring of a rich guy). This also explain how Ferguson could write such twaddle as:

"Perhaps if JFK had been a Republican, he would have been treated with the same ferocious animosity as DJT is treated today for much less luminous acts".

But I already showed how false this claim is by reference to much of the financial press at the time. A real historian -   as opposed to a pretender like Niall Ferguson - would have been competent  enough at his job to turn up the many instances in the larger media where JFK was attacked. But, like his defense of fracking 4 years ago, his knowledge of Kennedy is half-assed.

But maybe we have another explanation (besides sheer incompetence)  for why Ferguson's pontifications are so patently half-assed. For example,  when he so aggressively defended fracking four yeas ago. The New Republic again (ibid.):

"Corporate sponsors, in turn, have grown bolder, pressuring scientists and others to steer their research away from conclusions that might threaten profits, and working to discredit those who insist on following the facts where they lead, particularly in climate science. "

Bottom line: the guy is a plutocrat's dream: a yapping 'yes' monkey and historical revisionist,  prepared to hock his principles for a fast buck and who merits no more respect now than he did when Josh Fox ate his lunch  four years ago.

See also:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How Changing Solar Magnetic Fields Complicate Space Weather Forecasting

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Solar magnetic field lines depicted above based on a model. They are subject to further change (twisting, looping) on encountering near Earth space. This results in errors in space weather forecasts.

As noted in previous blog posts, space weather is the term which embodies all manner of phenomena that impact the Earth or its magnetosphere including magnetic substorms, sudden ionsopheric disturbances (SIDs), and CMEs or coronal mass ejections. Each of these merits forecasts but the last is particularly critical in terms of priority.  Powerful CMEs of such magnitude that they merit the name "Carrington events" and originate at the solar central meridian (relative to Earth observers) are events we wish to avoid. Even a glancing blow from a CME has the potential to knock out one or more power grids such as occurred in Quebec in 1989 after a giant solar flare.

The "ultimate" CME then is that which smacks us broadside, knocking down power grids like tenpins across the side of Earth facing the Sun when it strikes. Five years ago this led to one projection from a University of Colorado astrophysicist that sheds a good deal of insight:

"It’s believed a direct CME hit would have the potential to wipe out communication networks, GPS and electrical grids to cause widespread blackout.......Just 10 minutes without electricity, Internet or communication across the globe is a scary thought, and the effects of this event could last years. It would be chaos and disaster on an epic scale."

Thus, the interest in CMEs and space weather forecasting is not some mere armchair academic obsession but has real world consequences. Even magnetic substorms which spawn SIDs can wreak their own  form of havoc including disruption of short wave and even higher radio band signals, as well as affecting navigation controls on aircraft.

My own research had focused on the origin of SIDs from a specific type of flare identifiable from its soft x-ray signature. This led me to postulate,  in early 1984,   sudden ionospheric disturbance-generating (SID) flares, with the release attendant on a change in initial free magnetic energy (E m = B2/2m ) given by:

/   t  {òv  B2/2m  dV} = 1/m  òv div[(v  X B) X B] dV 

 -   òv  {han | Jms |2 }dV       

where the first term on the right side embodies (loop) footpoint motion, and the second, joule dissipation, but with Jms the current density at marginal stability – since the marginal stability hypothesis is required for a driven process, and h an  is the anomalous resistivity. In the same paper, it was shown how the flare distribution corresponds to a Poisson process of the form P(t) =    =   exp (- l)   lt  / t!, where theoretically the Poisson mean rate of occurrence is: lm =   l Dt.

Thus tying both SIDs and CMEs together in terms of the magnitude, time and location of the flare that produced each, though in an empirical-statistical context.    As I pointed out in a paper published in The Meudon Solar -Terrestrial Predictions Workshop  e.g.
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this was the best one could do  - minus the necessary physical details -  for a valid theoretical model. My paper ‘Limitations of Empirical-Statistical Methods of Solar Flare Prognostication’ appeared on pp. 276-284 of the Proceedings and received much attention from the other contributors - since of course it impacted in multiple ways on their work as well.  Up to the time of the paper (and even beyond) we have been constrained to rely on empirical statistical methods to compensate for the lack of more precise physical, quantitative models.

The project itself saw the input from over two  hundred solar and space physicists covering every aspect of the problem of solar-terrestrial interactions, including: long, medium and short term solar  forecasting, geomagnetic activity and auroral (substorm) forecasts, as well as ionospheric predictions.

Understandably, the more energetic and complex the solar flare the more difficulty in arriving at the prognostication needed.  The sheer diversity of flare morphology, combined with an insufficiency of detailed observations - owing to lack of proper observational tools - adversely affects the degree to which reliable forecasts can be made.  This will be expected to change with the launch of the Solar Probe Plus - renamed the Parker Solar Probe. The probe will  travel to within 4 million miles of the solar surface  (photosphere) and withstand temperatures of up to 2,500 F.  We expect the optical observations to approach the resolution of 0.1 arcsec, which many solar physicists believe is the limit needed to identify the energy release volume in coronal loops. 

Even with greatly enhanced resolution and  the acquisition of other critical data, moving beyond statistical models to wholly physical ones (yielding their own self-consistent aspects) will not be easy.
In the case of CMEs,a theoretical, quantitative strategy would revolve around obtaining the rate of increase of the poloidal magnetic flux   (Φp) associated with a specific flux rope (e.g. that shows kink or other instability) e.g.

dΦp(t )/dt

Then, for a predictive basis one would require the related function be adjusted for each potential CME (dependent on its current heliographic location) that best fits the total observed data. This function would normally be given in terms of the electromotive force associated with the active region so that:

E(t ) ≡ −(1/c)dΦp(t )/dt

Where the preceding would constitute a forecast from the theory for each CME trajectory.  This would be called a "theoretical forecast" say compared to an empirical forecast, i.e. based on analyzing the frequency and intensity of fluctuating microwave bursts over time (say several  Carrington rotations).   In the above case we see that rapid changes in the poloidal magnetic field, Φ ,  can throw off theoretical model forecasts.  Hence, the more we can learn about the genesis and maintenance of such localized fields the more the models (and forecasts) can be improved.

Then there is the influence of the much larger scale solar magnetic field. Beyond all the above considerations, space weather forecasting requires understanding what happens when the Earth’s magnetic field meets the Sun’s in space. When their field lines make contact, for example, they can suddenly link up and explosively realign. Like a snapping rubber band, the field lines rebound, sparking geomagnetic storms and sending dangerous radiation toward Earth that can damage satellites and threaten power grids.

However, some conditions are more conducive to this process, called magnetic reconnection. Particularly important is the orientation of the Sun’s magnetic field. Although the Earth’s magnetic field is fixed about its North and South poles, the Sun’s magnetic field is warped throughout space, and the Earth may find itself in a part of the field pointing in a different direction at any given time. The best conditions for magnetic reconnection are when the Sun’s magnetic field is aligned southward, antiparallel to Earth’s.

Recent studies have shown that the direction of the Sun’s field can shift by the time it reaches Earth’s magnetic field, apparently twisting after passing those satellites. This could lead to inaccurate space weather forecasts. To determine why this happens, Turc et al. analyzed archival data for 82 solar storms caused by approaching magnetic clouds ejected by the Sun. The team compared solar wind measurements with data from closer satellites orbiting in and around Earth’s magnetic field and used a model to reconstruct the conditions in between. Their work zeroed in on two factors.

1) The bow shock that the Earth creates in the solar wind. Like a ship plowing through water, the Earth creates a shock wave in the solar wind as it flows past, which the Sun’s field lines must traverse. Turc et al's analysis showed that depending on their relative orientations, the shock could alter the direction of the field.

2) After crossing the bow shock, the solar field lines encounter the Earth’s magnetic field. They don’t simply meet it head-on, but instead  overlap  the Earth’s field, and are warped in the process.

The authors report that these two factors combine to shift the direction of the field, which could alter the probability of magnetic reconnection. In some cases, it even reversed a benign northward field into a reconnection-prone southward field, and vice versa. These reversals spanned roughly 20% of the Earth–Sun magnetic field boundary and lasted over half an hour, making them significant enough to potentially throw off forecasts of geomagnetic storms.

The authors report that their models successfully reproduced the observations roughly 80% of the time. But more work must be done to improve their performance and incorporate them into real-time forecasts.

In the case of SIDs and CMEs the space weather forecasting difficulties are even more formidable. But I am confident that the Parker Solar Probe will finally put us on the path to genuine space weather forecasts for all phenomena that affect the near Earth space environment.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why No Health Care "Compromise" Is Possible With The Right

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Amidst millions of gallons of ink spilt very few have pointed out that the Senate Healthcare Bill ("Better Care" - so called) never fessed up to its central premise: to cut federal medical benefits to the bone. So no wonder so few citizens are enthused about it, opting to engage in high profile protests (with the disabled in wheelchairs) including at Senators' offices and outside their homes.

Meanwhile, the ideological Right pushes its "free market" (i.e. you're on your own) agenda in op-eds and other forums to get the Reep bill passed, any bill. Alas, that bill resides in limbo as Mitch McConnell waits for John McCain to recover from blood clot surgery to return to D.C. and vote. Of course, McCain - like McConnell-   has a "Cadillac" level of care in what is provided via his Senate health plan. Too many millions of Americans do not.

How bad is what's on offer? Over the past few days we beheld the organization known as AHIP (America's Health Insurance Plans) put the kibosh on the version of the Reepo bill offered (via amendment) by Ted Cruz. To remind readers, Cruz'  proposal (called "mini-Med" by critics ) would let insurers  sell low cost plans with skimpy coverage as long as they also sell policies providing a stringent set of services they're already required to provide under the ACA, aka "Obamacare".  But the AHIP and its sister organizations (e.g. Blue Cross - Blue Shield Association) have asserted this would:

- Be unworkable in any form

- Increase premiums

- Lead to widespread termination of coverage

Bottom line, this gimmick would encourage the healthy to go "lowball" and buy the bare bones policies leaving sicker people (who need comprehensive coverage) confronting unaffordable costs. In fact, two insurance groups assert premiums would skyrocket for those with pre-existing conditions, especially for middle income families who don't qualify for the bill's tax credit (which is pathetic as it is and in no way compare's to the generous ACA subsidies that actually made a difference).

But hey, this is exactly what the Repukes want! A bare bones, mock "health care" bill masquerading as a real one to provide PR cover so they can deliver tax cuts to the rich. Once one grasps that, and that cutting the biggest piece of the health care puzzle (Medicaid) is what the Right is all about, then it becomes evident why no compromise is possible.

Let's start with the delirious Peggy Noonan who recently wrote in a WSJ op -ed  ('On Health Care, A Promise,  Not A Threat', July 1-2, p. A13) that a Democratic Senator ought to come forward to work with the Repubs for a health compromise thereby "showing a little humility and humanity".  According to her "this person would be a hero in the Beltway which prizes compromise and constructiveness".


"The Democratic Party made this mess. It's on them to help dig out of it. If they show some humility, Republicans would look pretty poor in not responding with their own olive branch."

I have news for Miss Peggy, the Republicans already look pretty piss poor with their barbaric Senate bill - even after a proposal to remove the tax cuts for the rich. Why the hell should any Dem with more than air between the ears help these fools out of their morass?  Besides, there is simply no way to any such compromise given it would be political suicide for the Dems to go along with gutting Medicaid, which is the core basis of McConnell's bill.

Since the Repukes will not cooperate with the Ds unless Medicaid is cut (some $774 b by 2020)  and the Ds will not cooperate with the 'pukes if they insist on such cutting - then there is absolutely no way to any Noonan-style compromise, whether the Beltway likes it or not.

None of the conservo opinion writers, as I will show,  appear to grasp that the entire state -federal funding system for low income and disabled citizens would be changed to a per capita cap if Medicaid was cut.  Such a move would forever limit federal spending to the states - many of which are already facing huge budget crunches, deficits. What do you then think would happen? Well the disabled and sick would be tossed out to beg for any help they could get.

The 'pukes talk of getting these low income folk into cheaper policies (like Cruz' advocates)  but what they're really advocating is putting them into health care ghettoes: exploitative policies preying on pools of the mostly sick featuring monumental deductibles combined with outrageous premiums and very limited care (e.g. no maternity care, no mental health care, no ER visits).  What sort of  political moron would sign onto that  and have his/her name on the legislation? Certainly no sane Dem!

Thus, Noonan's blather that "the GOP donor class would likely hate a compromise bill as the Democratic Party's nihilist left - which wants no compromise" misses the point because she doesn't grasp the fact that giving away the store to make nice is a losing wicket. Once again, for a million economic reasons, gutting Medicaid to salvage McConnell's bill can't be part of any humane compromise.

The steady, stupid spin of the Right in assorted op-eds and thinktank blather also has antagonized the Democrats. One of the most ignorant and disgusting of all was rendered by Peter Cove in his July 5th WSJ piece ('Get Able-Bodied Americans Off The Couch') depicting those on the Medicaid rolls as deadbeats and latter day welfare queens.  He argued that basically there were millions of "able bodied" - including men- just laying around and grabbing Medicaid without working - when they could work and get health benefits from a company.

One had to wonder what this asshole was drinking or what manner of dope he was smoking.  Other WSJ  letter writers also echoed his babble including that "those in poverty have the luxury of saying 'no' to a job and suffering no consequences when they choose not to work".  Suffer no consequences? What is this dense cretin thinking? How about his kids without enough food, or having his utilities shut down or his home foreclosed?   Added to the earlier drivel,  this other ignorance: "Someone who loses a job loses not one penny of cash assistance nor his food stamp vouchers nor Section 8 housing".  Again, no remote idea that de facto cuts have already been applied to those programs.   For example, in March, 2016 a budget decision by the Repukes  led to up to 1 million in 22 states losing their food assistance (SNAP)  benefits after three months regardless of how hard they were looking for work.

But that's the key characteristic of these Philistines on the Right:  they don't care that people are already working.  If they're not earning enough money it's all on them,  not the economy,  which is geared more to Wall Street than Main Street. (Look at how the DOW has shot past 21,000 yet consumers have cut back on spending the past two months, according to the WSJ , July 16).

No wonder the above sort of comments and Cove's piece elicited furor in the Colorado Medicaid care and recipient community. Moe Keller, a Vice President of Mental Health Colorado noting (Denver Post, July 9, p. 16A):

"There is a shocking ignorance about who these people on Medicaid are. They (op-ed writers, public officials, much of the public) think they're just siting around eating bon-bons and watching TV. They're not. They're working individuals."

Or - they are people who have worked hard, and  are not now in a physical condition to do what they used to.  At least one WSJ letter contributor - an M.D. - did provide the proper perspective. As he wrote in his reply to Cove's piece (July 17):

"Some of my unemployed patients are over 50, have a history of back or similar injury, abuse or previous jail time. Employers don't want to take the risk of employing such an individual as firing them might entail claims of age discrimination, or payment for work-related injuries......A person on Medicaid with significant and costly chronic medical problems who wants to work simply cannot afford to take the chance of losing public health benefits as private insurance with its copays and deductibles are overwhelming at entry level positions"

In other words, the choice not to work (if one's job potential is limited) - for whatever reason  - is a rational one. It is also a rational one to go onto Medicaid if one is already covered by their own insurance but have a child with severe brain damage whose physical needs would not be fully covered by that private insurance.

This is the case of Jennifer and Matthew Fischer highlighted in the Denver Post's extended look at Medicaid recipients in Colorado (op. cit.). Both, as the Post notes, "have health insurance and work full time".  It "covers major medical issues picks up substantial costs for their child's medical care" - though they inevitably hit their maximums in January each year.   But there is much it doesn't provide and that's where Medicaid comes in. That includes: the wheelchair ($25,000), the formula their 11 -year old (Cecilia) which needs to be ingested through a feeding tube. ($500 a month), and the nurse who accompanies their daughter to school and attends to her needs.  As the Post explains:

"All of that is covered through a Medicaid waiver, making Cecilia among the 45 percent of the state's Medicaid recipients who are age 20 or younger."

This insight is critical in skewering the whining of other Right nabobs like WSJ columnist Daniel Henninger who has pissed and moaned  ('The GOP's Fatal Infatuation', July 9):because "Medicaid's original purpose was to ensure medical care for the disabled and poor women and children" i.e.  not middle class people.  So, of course, Henninger like other pro-GOP whiners has complained long and hard about Obamacare's "evil genius" in expanding the program.  Henninger concedes that GOP gubernators in "expansion states" have had no choice than to swallow "the kool aid" and accept it, because their citizens have grown dependent on it..

According to Henninger (ibid.):

"Once the governors took expanded Medicaid payments, they were hooked"

Adding that "Medicaid is already lowest common denominator medicine"

Well, try telling that to the Fischers who have seen their daughter Cecilia reach a level of capacity she wouldn't have otherwise, i.e. without Medicaid.  It's easy for  one percenter nabobs like Henninger to dismiss Medicaid when they reap Cadillac level care via their elite jobs, like at the WSJ. But for those who have it and depend on it, especially to keep sick and disabled kids and family  cared for at home, it's as gold standard as one could want.

Another Rightist letter writer, commenting on the Post's Medicaid story (July 16, Perspective), exceeded all lows for a normal human of any sentience by bellyaching that most Medicaid beneficiaries had "gotten themselves into their economic predicaments by their own choices".  Adding: "Why should I as a taxpayer have to bail them out?"  Well, uh...because you are supposed to be a decent person with some measure of humanity and care for your fellow citizens?

But let's not kid ourselves here. The Right, essentially, has zero interest in providing any kind of viable health care to those who most need it because such quality care costs money - which they may  have to pay for via taxes. So they'd rather engage in PR stunts and obfuscation than come clean to the American people about what they're really doing.  That is, to gut the one program that nearly 76 million depend on and which stands between them and medical catastrophe or bankruptcy and penury.

One of the most spot on observations made by one Medicaid recipient (via the ACA) appeared in the latest TIME (July 24, p. 34):

"The party that would have me crucified for having an abortion now wants to make it impossible for me to keep him alive."

Again, betraying the whopping magnitude of hypocrisy on the Right pertaining to abortion: that all it cares about is life before birth - but not afterward.

There is no way any sober and sane Democrat could ever agree to a compromise with this lot that demands the gutting of Medicaid.

See also:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Coloradans Cancelling Their Voter Registrations By The Thousands In Wake Of Trump Voter Fraud "Commission"

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Yeah, I just made up the Voter Fraud Commission from my illegal voters conspiracy theory! Deal with it!"

Consider the original claim of Trump  that there has been massive voter fraud that cost him the popular vote, including that "three to five million more voted illegally for Hillary Clinton".  Consider this is coming from the guy who actually WON the electoral vote - the only one that counts- and yet his ego is still too traumatized to accept that fewer citizens voted for him than his opponent.

Consider also that there is not one scintilla of evidence to support his fantastic claim - which btw-  is negated by 50 Secretaries of State (including from  37 Republican- governed states) that the integrity of their election processes were never compromised.

Despite all this, as I noted in my July 3rd post, Donald Trump barely weeks ago signed an executive order to create a phony  "Voter Fraud Commission".  Let's again cut through the fog of fake news, media crappola and outright lies to recognize this commission for what it is: a putrid excrescence of Trump's malignant agenda created to support his favorite conspiracy theory, i.e. he lost the popular vote because millions of illegal immigrants voted.

But despite being bogus, it's already having a chilling effect on voter participation here in Colorado.  That is, thousands of  Colorado residents are suddenly canceling their voter registrations,  terrified the data amassed from state files will be used against them. As reported in the Denver Post, this action is in the wake of the Trump administration’s blanket request for voter information earlier this month. Trump   established the advisory commission in May with a broad mandate: a sweeping review of U.S. election integrity, with a focus on voter fraud, voter suppression and other “vulnerabilities.”

The resulting withdrawal panic is alarming county elections officials who say they’ve never seen such a surge of withdrawals in their careers. The worst aspect? The defectors are coming mainly from the largely Democratic precincts around Denver. As The Post observes:

"Nearly two weeks have elapsed since the commission requested all of the state’s publicly available voter data, and state and county elections offices say they’re still being flooded with calls and emails from voters with two chief complaints: they don’t trust President Donald Trump’s voter integrity commission, and they didn’t realize just how much of their voter registration information was already public under state law."

According to Amber McReynolds, Denver’s elections director:

"People are concerned and confused about all of this. We have the same concerns. At this point nobody really knows what (the commission) is doing."

As of yesterday, The  Denver Post reported that 3, 394 voters had canceled their registrations  — a staggering jump from the 20 people who did so over the two weeks prior to July 3rd, according to the state elections boards. In Boulder County, the trend was much the same: 329 voters withdrew their registrations the first 10 days of July, according to the clerk’s office. During the same period in June, only 15 people did.

The bulk of those who called or emailed either cited concerns about the commission’s motives, or about their own privacy.

It seems like an assault on our personal freedoms — of speech and privacy first and foremost,” one Denver voter wrote.

The outcry over personal information that’s been publicly available for decades has some wondering if state lawmakers will seek to close some of these records  next year. This is especially after a lengthy fight the last two legislative sessions over making more public information available in a digital format.

According to Amber McReynolds:

I think it brings up another question for the legislature that they may want to consider. Voters did not and have not been aware that this info that’s being provided is public.”

Under Colorado law, a wide range of voter information is publicly available by request, including a voter’s name, address, party affiliation and which elections they’ve voted in,  though not the candidate they voted for. More than 100 organizations and individuals -  including media outlets, marketing firms and both major political parties -   obtained the data in 2016 alone, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Some entities have even published the data online for all to see.  Indeed, all my voting data is blatantly online, as per Colorado law - which is also inciting these withdrawals among other citizens. Evidently they, like me, had no clue of the extent to which state law allowed voter info to be published, shared. Having learned this to their shock and horror, thousands are now canceling registrations. I see no point because first, merely canceling your voter registration will not instantly remove your information - we all know how the web world works!  Second, I have no intention of giving up my franchise out of fear some n'er do well will use it some nefarious way. I suspect that is part of just what the Trumpites want.

Nevertheless, most of us -  canceling registrations or not -  aren't buying the excuse or rationale that this level of disclosure is needed to show "transparency" to prove to outsiders that the Colorado voting population is legit.  For example, the "justification" from  Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall  who wrote in an op-ed to the Daily Camera: 

Without voter registration and vote history being public there would be no way for any outside individual or organization to independently verify our election processes. It would simply have to be a ‘trust us’ scenario with your state or local elected official maintaining the voter rolls with no external oversight."

So WHAT? What's wrong with 'trust us' if the statistics for minimal voter fraud support it?  After all, none of this was needed 40 years ago, so why now? Just because the new incarnation of Repukes got a hard on for voter suppression and began yapping about "voter fraud"?

As I noted in my earlier post this is a Macguffin.  The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law conducted extensive research on all this and subsequently released a report that looked at a previously conducted national study. The latter looked at the non-citizen and potential fraudulent voting in the 2016 election. Their final conclusion?

"From the tabulation of 23.5 million votes there were  only 30 incidents of suspected noncitizen voting referred for further inquiries or prosecution. Thus, improper noncitizen votes accounted for 0.0001 percent."

Get that?  Not one percent, not one hundredths of one percent, but one ten thousandth of one percent of the total votes!

The news that the ACLU is now bringing a lawsuit is welcome. However, let's be clear it is not to KO this artifact as unconstitutional but rather to charge that the body isn't following federal law requiring it to be open to the public. The lawsuit joins a growing number concerning the commission that have been filed by civil liberties groups in recent days.

Led by Vice Chair Kris Kobach, the bogus commission has held only an initial meeting by telephone since it was created two months ago, and that was closed to the public, the ACLU charged. According to ACLU staff attorney Theresa Lee:

"Since the [law] applies to all meetings, even telephonic meetings, the commission has already violated [the Federal Advisory Committee Act],"

Let's hope this lawsuit is only a first iteration and further ones are initiated on more substantial constitutional grounds.  It is crucial that the latter, especially,  prevail in whatever court hands down the final verdict.

Meanwhile, in the latest twist to this saga, angry voters poured it on with 112 pages worth of emails directed at the Trump stooges, according to today's Washington Post. Some of the comments included:

You will open up the entire voting population to a massive amount of fraud if this data is in any way released,” one voter wrote.

Many people will get their identity stolen, which will harm the economy,” wrote another.

“I respectfully request, as an American-born citizen legally eligible to vote for two decades, that you leave my voter data and history alone, do not publish it, and do nothing with it,” said another

Unfortunately for these voters and others who wrote in, the Trump fucktards did not redact any of their personal information from the emails before releasing them to the public. In some cases, the emails contained not only names, but email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and places of employment.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Ending School Floggings: As Important In Barbados Now As Managing Its Debt

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During our recent holiday in Barbados the topic du jour (every day) was school flogging and why it needs to be banned , given the island was a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990).   Incredibly - or maybe not - this topic even trumped the ongoing, deplorable Barbados bond position and its growing debt.

Among the most cogent appeals to treaty faithfulness we saw was the following editorial in The Barbados Advocate.

As articulated therein:

"As appears to be the national practice, we seemed blissfully unaware of the precise nature of the obligations we had ratified and thus there is an air of resentment every time we are reminded that the local practice if corporal punishment is out of step with the norms of the Convention."

Ending with:

"We acknowledge that the immediate likelihood of Barbados reforming its laws to proscribe the corporal punishment of children in the school and at hone is at best slight. We are not a people easily given to change and a withdrawal from the treaty at this stage would be a national embarrassment. Hence, for the foreseeable future we will continue to be scofflaws to our international obligation..."

Perhaps it's useful to reflect what conditions were in Bim's secondary schools when I arrived in Peace Corps in 1971 to teach at a country school in the (northernmost)  St. Lucy parish. What shocked me to the core - and the three other PCVs based there -was how every morning a long line of students (many females) were lined up in front of the headmaster's office. When I asked one of the Bajan teachers what this was all about she was basically nonchalant: "This is Mr. Jordan's flogging assembly. Each lines up and each gets five to seven lashes on the back."  Of course, our eyes literally popped out of our heads.

About seven years later at another secondary school near the Garrison  Savannah, the headmistress - a Miss Hunt - was regarded in awe and fear by the students. PCVs based there related how when she paddled or flogged a student you could hear his or her screams across the whole school grounds.   The word out was she never gave less than ten strokes and each one was more merciless than the last.

It was these sort of incidents, often recurring, that led the island to be a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

And yet, as the NATION editorial puts it, the signing has still not eradicated the practice in the schools. Indeed, not long after the editorial was published an indignant woman wrote to the press under the header 'Spare the rod? NO!' quoting the biblical passage from Proverbs 13: 24:

"Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. ."

Then arguing forcefully that a good thrashing shows love and to ignore the application of the "rod" is to perform a disservice to the child later.  There were many furious replies objecting to this nonsense, but the arguments of Ms. Faith Marshall-Harris that came before ('The Goal is to end all Flogging') were among the most cogent and convincing.

In her lengthy piece, Ms. Marshall-Harris not only reviewed  the several principles embraced by the Barbados delegation to the 74th session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, but also presented insights into the Swedish model.

In introducing this model, Ms. Marshall-Harris  writes:

"It was our (Barbados delegation) view that Barbados needs to evolve on this matter and I have proposed the use of the Swedish model to get us to the desired objective."


"The Swedish model programme was started by first teaching mothers-to-be how to discipline children when they attended prenatal clinics.  Young parents were similarly taught on the maternity wards. Community workers were sent into the homes to continue the teaching process after the mother and baby went home. All this was to reduce the incidence of corporal punishment in the homes.

In the meantime, corporal punishment was banned outright in the schools. Thus there was a two-pronged approach."

While Barbados can hope to emulate Sweden based on this template, one must bear in mind the economic quality of life also enters into how people conduct themselves.  In this regard Sweden's economic indices weight far higher than Barbados' which already has seen another bond downgrade (by Moody's)  to Caaa3+.   We beheld many poor people (the most likely to flog children at home) struggling to buy even basic goods (bread, milk, eggs)  at the supermarkets, and now higher prices and taxes soon to come with release of the new budget May 30, see e.g.

Oddly, it may take the island nation getting its economic house in order before the flogging problems can finally be resolved.  Why? Because social workers' stats disclose financial angst,  mounting debt and insecurity play a major role in fueling rage - along with an entrenched sense of helplessness to improve one's station. Children are often the victims of this sordid saga.

Addendum: About Faith Marshall-Harris:

She was a consultant hired by the Barbados government to review all the laws relating to women, children and their families.  At  the 74th session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child she presented a White Paper that not only reviewed 37 Acts but also made 126 proposals, some of which have already taken effect.

See also: