Sunday, May 26, 2019

Department of Peace

Convert the Peace Corps into Department of Peace

This Memorial Day, as most every day, I pray for a Department of Peace.

Yes, a formal, cabinet-level government body, equal in stature to the Department of Defense. It would be seriously funded and empowered with the mission to develop and implement our national alternative “economic war plan”.

The Department of Peace would be charged with ending our profiting from war by creating alternatives, such as leading our national economy toward a “sustainable energies” and infrastructure renewal economy.

My hope is that by adopting a Peace Economy we will finally cleanse ourselves of our addiction to killing and maiming for profit.

Among the words recently written to Mr. Trump and signed by 76 retired admirals, generals and diplomats, I found these:

“As national security professionals with extensive careers in the U.S. armed forces and diplomatic service, we have witnessed first-hand how quickly disputes can spiral out of control.”

“The lack of direct communication between U.S. and Iranian political and military leaders during a time of heightened rhetoric only increases the possibility of a miscalculation resulting in unintended military conflict.”

It’s not likely that Mr. Trump will incur a Saul-like-epiphany on his way to his Mar-a-Lago mansion and gulf club, thereby overcoming his ego. Nor is it likely he will push aside his war criminal, National Security Advisor's career-long drive for war with Iran of his

Further, for political reasons it is unlikely that our war-addicted society will transform itself for the sake of what is good and humane. Throughout history it never has. No society has. There has always been immense profit in war.

But, today, due to technological advances in sustainable energies and the obvious need to rebuild our infrastructure, immense profit is waiting for the taking. We no longer need to make more bombs and bullets to create more wealth for the wealthy.

That is why I am optimistic we can achieve what no other society has ever achieved: creating an alternative economy and thereby taking the profit incentive out of war.

We can start by converting the Peace Corps into the Department of Peace.

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP ON U.S. TENSIONS WITH IRAN

Dear Mr. President,

"We write to you to express our deep concern with the current escalation with Iran in the Arabian Gulf.  The mutual animosity between the United States and Iran, the accelerated deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the region, and reports of Iranian preparations for attacks on U.S. military and diplomatic facilities are highly concerning and make for a potentially deadly confrontation.  A war with Iran, either by choice or miscalculation, would produce dramatic repercussions in an already destabilized Middle East and drag the United States into another armed conflict at immense financial, human, and geopolitical cost."

"As national security professionals with extensive careers in the U.S. armed forces and diplomatic service, we have witnessed first-hand how quickly disputes can spiral out of control.  The lack of direct communication between U.S. and Iranian political and military leaders during a time of heightened rhetoric only increases the possibility of a miscalculation resulting in unintended military conflict.  Washington and Tehran are talking past each other and taking actions the other views as dangerously provocative at best and the beginning of forceful action at worst."

"We were heartened by your reported desire to avoid war with Iran in favor of other tools, including common-sense diplomacy."  -more-


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Hello Worldwide Internet Starlink


All long-suffering cable customers, as well as people throughout the world who have no broadband Internet connectivity, have reason for optimism today.

On 24 May 2019, Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched 60 satellites of its Starlink constellation. Starlink, is intended to provide broadband Internet connectivity, "anywhere on Earth from space in an array that could one day contain over 12,000 orbiting transponders".

Competing constellation satellite-based systems may soon follow, including: OneWeb, which is funded by an international consortium, and Canada-based Telesat.

Perhaps, these new providers will soon give Mr. Comcast and Ms. AT&T some real competition, bringing Internet connectivity costs and services in line with those customers enjoy outside the U.S.

Starlink Mission







Friday, May 24, 2019

For Hire: Courageous Leaders

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Do you believe we must no longer accept the flaws of our system of government and that must correct them so that our government will work for us?

I do.

To accomplish that we must support and elect new political leaders:

  • Leaders motivated to legislate for the benefit of each of us; 
  • Leaders not controlled by special interests;
  • Leaders free from the shackles of anachronistic xenophobia;
  • Leaders free from the shackles of anachronistic racism;
  • Leaders free from the shackles of anachronistic religious fundamentalism; 
  • Leaders free from the shackles of anachronistic “American exceptionalism” dogma; 
  • Leaders, courageous and on guard, legislating in our best interests, protecting the people of the United States;
  • Leaders, courageous and open minded, willing and able to legislate for progressive change in our best interests, all of the people of the United States.

Here’s one:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

"People will vote if there is something worth voting for. And a Green New Deal is exactly what that is.", Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Howard University, 13 May 2019.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Barefaced Manipulation and True “Conspiracy Theories”

Source: Daily Koss

Today I hope you’ll take a few minutes to view two insightful videos.

Yesterday, Mr. Trump walked out of an infrastructure meeting with Democrat leaders demanding that unless Democrats suspend all investigations into his misuse of the office of the presidency and a host of additional illegal activities, he will cease his administration’s cooperation to begin rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.

Mr. Trump, an acknowledged distraction / manipulation king and master flimflammer is not alone in the art. Others, like him, have succeeded in remaining in power by misleading their followers with a blizzard of B.S. and costly distractions.

How this is accomplished is discussed in the first video interview by Rob Kall (publisher of Op-Ed News, opednews.com) with Dr. Roy Eidelson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of, Political Mind Games.

In Political Mind Games, psychologist Roy Eidelson presents a unique and illuminating framework for understanding and combating the manipulative ploys of the 1%. He explains exactly how the rich and powerful mislead the American people--about what's happening, what's right, and what's possible--by targeting basic questions we ask ourselves everyday: Are we safe? Are we being treated fairly? Who should we trust? Are we good enough? Can we control what happens to us? Our doubts and confusion about these issues enable today's plutocrats to craft messages artfully designed to misdirect our outrage, fragment our opposition, and garner our support for an agenda that serves only the privileged few. That's how so many have come to believe that climate change is a hoax, taxes are too high, the military budget is too low, public education needs privatization, workers have it too easy, voter fraud is everywhere, healthcare isn't a fundamental right, poverty is deserved, and more.”



The other day I listened to Stephen Henderson (Detroit Today, WDET) interview two psychologists discussing why people believe “wild conspiracy theories”.

Henderson wanted to know, “How might we open a dialogue with people who believe in something that seems to defy all known facts and evidence?”

Toward the end of the interview I was struck by what I consider to be a simplistic method of determining which “conspiracy theory” is false.

Dr. David Ludden, professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College, explained, "As a general rule, I think you want to ask, if you have multiple explanations, which one is simpler? And probably the simpler one is the correct answer...That's how science works as well when we have competing theories... which one is simpler. This conspiracy theory is awfully complicated compared to the other explanation, so, I think, probably the conspiracy theory isn't true."

Wow, I thought. This guy has just ignored the past 100 years of U.S. history. Just one example, the outing of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, underscores his method for sorting truth from fiction is simplistic and dangerous. See Carl Bernstein’s 1977 article, The CIA and the Media.

However, Dr. Ludden did provide an insightful explanation of why people follow master manipulators, such as Mr. Trump, who often utilize false conspiracy tropes:

"The reason people believe in conspiracy theories is because it empowers them. It gives them the sense that they are in the know. They know something that most people don't know, or they understand something that most people don't understand. So, this gives them power. I think you're going to find that people believe in conspiracy theories when they feel that they have a loss of power and this gives them some way of taking back control, control of their lives.”

In the second video, James Corbett (corbettreport.com) explains why when you hear someone say: “Oh, that’s just another one of those crazy conspiracy theories”, you might consider listening with an open mind. Why? Because often they are based on fact and are eventually revealed as “true”.

Episode 356 – Top 5 “Conspiracy Theories” That Turned Out To Be True

“We all know the old trope of the tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist who believes crazy things like “the government is spying on us” and “the military is spraying things in the sky” and “the CIA ships in the drugs.”

“Except those things aren’t so crazy after all. As it turns out, many of the old “conspiracy theorist” fantasies are actually true.”

“Here are five examples of things that were once derided as zany conspiracy paranoia and are now accepted as mundane historical fact.”







Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Why Has Peace Always Failed?


As you read this post the United States seems hell-bent on embroiling itself in one more conflict, one more war. 

This time Mr. Trump appears to be greatly influenced by his National Security Advisor, John Bolton, in addition to (I speculate) his own predilection for self-preservation by media manipulation and misdirection.

Bolton, in my opinion, for his immoral and inhumane activities during the G.W. Bush administration. He is an international war criminal. He is one of the architects of the Iraq war of aggression and the false Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) claim to "justify" it. For that reason alone, Mr. Bolton inhabits the same septic tank as those tried for crimes against humanity at Nuremberg following World War II.

Going to war, provoking war, is the tried and true tactic used throughout history by countless politicians, as a means of saving their asses and remaining in power.

Given this fact, why is it that the public seems to always fail for the obvious “go to war” manipulation peddled by people like Mr. Trump and Mr. Bolton?

I plan to ferret out a reasonable answer.

In the meantime, I discovered this 1982 article by Dr. James Clotfelter, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He lists seven reasons:

  1. Peace movements fail because they are not seen as reflecting the basic values of a society.
  2. Peace movements fail because they identify with such widely approved national symbols and themes as to deny themselves a clear identity.
  3. Peace movements fail because they focus on the past, the present or the distant future, rather than the intermediate future.
  4. Peace movements fail because they are unable, or unwilling, to convince people that wars hurt economies.
  5. Peace movements fail because they fail to bridge class and ideological divisions.
  6. Peace movements fail because they become identified with threatening symbols unrelated to peace.
  7. Peace movements fail because they become identified with appeasement of national adversaries.

Given the state of “keep Mr. Trump in office” politics and mankind’s lack of humanity, perhaps our only hope for sustained peace is some form of law enforcement of the artificial intelligence kind, e.g. the robot Gort, from the 1951 movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (4/5) Movie CLIP - Klaatu's Speech (1951) HD


Friday, May 10, 2019

Where ARE His Values?

Drum Roll, PLEASE!

Tappity, tap, tap…

Science has come to our rescue once again.

We now understand why Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) presents with symptoms, such as: a total loss of common human values; no signs of empathy; loss of integrity; toadyism, aka sycophancy; heartlessness, etc. His retrosplenial cortex has turned into rotten tomatoes!

Just kidding! Oh, what fun!

Here’s the real story:

Scientists locate brain area where value decisions are made, University of California - San Diego, medicalexpess.com.

“Neurobiologists at the University of California San Diego have pinpointed the brain area responsible for value decisions that are made based on past experiences.”

-more-

George Harrison - It's What You Value - 1976







Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Spineless Toady Press

A “toady” is a person who behaves obsequiously to someone important. Synonyms include: sycophant, creep, fawner, flunkey, lackey, groveller, and doormat.

When it comes to reporting the “news” all those synonyms and the word “toady” itself are outstandingly descriptive of our “mainstream” press, especially when reporting news about Mr. Trump, his associates, and the Congressional members of the Republican Party.

Look, we need real, fact-based reporting and commentary -  not spineless toady press repeating. Otherwise we are all doomed to be transformed into scum for Mr. Trump’s swamp and end-up looking like our spineless toady Attorney General (Please see above).

Oh, one more thing.

Mr. Trump’s daily barrage of misdirection, previously known as “tweets”, must be labeled as such. Perhaps, the posted headline could be: “What Mr. Trump Said Today”… in 2 point type.

Here’s one concept I posted last August… (Please click through for a readable PDF.)



Dr. Reich is right…

Robert Reich: How Trump Plays the Press



Published on Feb 4, 2019
Robert Reich explains how Trump distracts the media with his lies and antics.

Robert Reich: Divider in Chief



Published on May 6, 2019
Robert Reich explains how Trump divides America along racial, ethic, and religious lines as part of his political strategy.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Hatreds and Fears

In an instant, Grandma torched the Stars & Bars.

How far will Mr. Trump’s supporters follow him now that it is obvious, he is willfully in contempt of Congress; obstructing justice; and ordering his administration to disobey lawful Congressional subpoenas?

Somehow an army of  Christo-Trumpists are now conflating Mr. Trump with a Jesus Christ-like figure, sent from God herself, to bring about The Rapture and punch their tickets to heavenly salvation.

Other Trumpists can see no wrong with Mr. Trump and his 10,000+ lies; department-by-department disassembly of our government; unabashed grifting, sexism; racism; and unhinged cruelty directed at anyone save white .01 percenters.

Talk to any Trumpists and you will instantly hear a diatribe against Hillary, Obama and the Godless Democrats. You will also clearly sense a willingness to believe Trump no matter how outrageous his declarations or disgusting his actions of the day happen to be. They support him and will follow him regardless.

But how far?

I have no doubt that Mr. Trump is willing to test his supporters’ faith in him no matter the cost to them. We will soon find out how far they are willing to carry his baggage.

I hope some sanity prevails because Trump is not worth a reprise of out last bloody Civil War, which was supercharged with hatreds and fears that are still driving us today.

About hatreds and fears...Here is a repost of my article.

Along the Way

When I was a child, my family next-to-never went on a real vacation… you know, like go somewhere far away to see something. I remember one time, though, in the late 1950s when we did.

We left Akron, Ohio and headed for Washington, D.C.

Along the way we stopped at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We walked a little of the battlefield and saw the big Cyclorama painting of Pickett's Charge and then watched a movie. Later, we visited the museum store. As a remembrance, our mom bought us two little U.S. and Confederate flags.

A while after we returned home, our grandmother came to visit us. She ventured into our parents’ basement where my brother and I kept our stash of electric trains, model airplanes and assorted childhood treasures.

Almost as her foot touched the last step down into the basement she locked onto that little Confederate flag, grabbed it and threw it into the incinerator. Before my unbelieving eyes she ignited the flames and our precious vacation artifact went up in smoke.

I remember her saying something like, “You will not keep a rebel flag in your home.”

I didn’t understand why she felt so strongly as I watched her torch one of the only two vacation remembrances we had in our entire childhood.

Later I learned from other relatives that according to family lore one of our relatives had been killed at Gettysburg. He had served in a Pennsylvania cavalry unit.

Grandmother, who was born nearly 30 years after the American Civil War ended, carried the wounds of her forefathers into our time. She was compelled to give my brother and me a clear and strong lesson about who was on the right side and who was on the wrong side during a war which happened almost 100 years before we were born.

Don’t get me wrong, grandmother was not a bad person at all. I remember her as one of the kindest and most loving people in my life. Still, she did not hesitate to share her opinion about most anything, most especially about the important things in her life. And, I admire her for that, too.

Further, I’ll own up to the fact that, had I lived back then, I’d most likely have served the USA rather than the CSA, because I cannot abide the idea of slavery of any kind — racial, sexual or financial.

So, here is my point: most hatreds and fears which shackle us today have been taught to us by our forefathers. They have been passed down from generation to generation, and for the most part have not been personally experienced.

For centuries, politicians, dictators, monarchs, salespeople, educators, psychopaths, clergy and fundamentalists of all flavors have played upon the “passed down” fears of people. It has cost us dearly in untold loss of life and misery.

History is replete with examples. In fact it makes no difference which ethnicity, group, tribe or nationality one investigates, one will discover examples of “leaders” who have played the “fear card” to spark and stoke his or her followers toward violent and ultimately self-destructive acts against neighboring tribes or “others” who are racially different or practice a different religion. Or, worse, think differently.

As humans we all share a zillion fears of our own making, but for the most part they are relatively minor and not as destructive compared with those which are passed down. Among the most common fears are not being good enough; missing out on something; failure; being alone; and, not being accepted.

If one has the will, the fears passed down from our ancestors and those we conjure up by ourselves can be overcome. One can find expert help, a multitude of programs and self-help books to discover the pathways to shed fears, hatreds and nightmares.

Why would one want to do that?

When we continue the fears of our ancestors, we warp our own view of reality. The more we let someone else’s fears drive our lives, the more ordinary the warped view becomes. Over time we move further from reality, our choices become obscured, and we become less able to ferret out truth and consequences. Eventually, we find ourselves unable to make good choices and as a result, we relive the mistakes that our ancestors made. (1.)

1. Based upon: “Is Lying Bad for Us?”, The Atlantic, Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD, Feb 2013. “Perhaps the most powerful moral argument for honesty has to do with what the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called ‘bad faith.’ Liars deceive others, but in a sense, liars also deceive themselves. When we lie, we tend to distort our own view of reality, and the more often we lie, the more habitual this distortion becomes. Over time, the habit of lying divorces us further and further from reality, so we see less and less clearly the choices before us and what is at stake in them. Eventually, we may find ourselves unable to see what we are really doing and how it is affecting others and ourselves. We end up leading inauthentic and irresponsible lives.”

Paul Robeson - Swing Low Sweet Chariot - 1933