Nov 1, 2017

This thread has been created for open discussion on themes relevant to Reason and Science for which there are not currently any dedicated threads.

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192 comments on “OPEN DISCUSSION – NOVEMBER 2017

  • Well that’s Halloween over for another year for you yanks. I’m told Republicans just gave all their candy to a very few of the richest kids and told the rest it would trickle down 🙂


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  • Terrible murder in NYC, where I live. A young subhuman monster drove a truck into some bikers killing eight and wounding many others. I try not to feel hate. I try.

    Of course this is fodder for Trump.

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  • Dan #3
    Nov 1, 2017 at 7:28 am

    Terrible murder in NYC, where I live.
    A young subhuman monster drove a truck into some bikers
    killing eight and wounding many others.

    Of course this is fodder for Trump.

    Trump has just twitted one of his usual “foot-in-mouth” responses!

    I suppose he could have kept the Argentine and Belgian victims out of the USA, – or he could even have noticed that they were NOT Americans and maybe not be followers of HIS god, when offering condolences from THEIR country!

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  • Further to my comment on the previous month’s Open Discussion, about slush-funds, and the Russian Troll Factory, supporting false news campaigns:-

    Facebook has said as many as 126 million American users may have seen content uploaded by Russia-based operatives over the past two years.

    The social networking site said about 80,000 posts were produced before and after the 2016 presidential election.

    Most of the posts focused on divisive social and political messages.

    I see Arron Banks – the paymaster-sponsor of Farage and UKIP, – faces an EU referendum finance investigation.

    The Electoral Commission says it is investigating whether ex-UKIP donor Arron Banks broke donation rules during the EU referendum.

    The probe will look at whether the Leave.EU chairman broke the rules over donations or loans made to campaigners in last year’s poll.

    It will also look at Better for the Country Ltd, a company of which Mr Banks is a registered director.

    The commission said it launched investigations where there were “reasonable grounds” to believe offences had been committed. It is already carrying out separate probes into the spending returns submitted by the official Remain and Leave campaigns.

    Announcing the latest investigation, the commission said Better for the Country Ltd (BFTC) had made donations totalling £2.3m to campaigners in June 2016’s referendum, while Mr Banks had given Leave.EU loans totalling £6m.

    The commission said its investigation would look at:

    Whether BFTC was the "true source of donations
    made to referendum campaigners in its name,
    or if it was acting as an agent".

    Whether recipients of the donations
    were given the required information about the donor

    What steps the recipients took to verify BFTC's
    "identity and permissibility"

    Whether or not Mr Banks was the "true source" of loans
    reported in his name

    Whether the recipients of the loans acted within the rules

    Whether any individual "facilitated a transaction with a
    non-qualifying person"

    “It is therefore in the public interest that the Electoral Commission seeks to ascertain whether or not impermissible donations were given to referendum campaigners and if any other related offences have taken place.”

    With Trump like style, Banks responded with superficial twitterings!

    Reacting on Twitter, Mr Banks said: “Gosh I’m terrified.”

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  • I must admit I find claims such as this one posing as being scientific, very irritating!


    GMOs are NOT “safe”!
    GMOs are “as safe as other (potentially invasive) species”, and like aeroplanes are as safe as the technical, design, and managerial staff, who work on them and operate them!

    GMO plants which are bred to resist insect attacks and herbicides, are much more dangerous as potentially ecology disrupting invasive species, than plants which are geographically moved to a new continent!
    The geographically moved (potentially invasive) species, at least have SOME predatory organisms which keep them in balance in their native habitats!
    GMO organisms don’t have a native habitat where they form part of an ecological balance.

    GMO organisms which are under the unregulated control of reckless experimenters, profiteers, or cover-up artists, are far from safe!

    GMO organisms CAN be safe, IF properly thoroughly tested, managed, and regulated.

    Anyone who asserts that ANY engineering process (genetic or otherwise) is safe per se, is an unscientific ignoramus who – like a learner driver who has scored zero on the hazard perception test, so does not foresee any risks!

    Invasive species and biohazards, are difficult, expensive, or impossible, to contain once released into the environment!

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  • Further to #6 regarding brexiteer sponsorship:- having displaced Cameron to take over the Tory Party, and Labour having attacked it pro-Remain MPs who warned about the potential damage of brexit, the brexiteer ministers are still trying to promote their fantasy claims of “benefits”, and suppress the evidence of likely damage to the UK and its citizens!

    Ministers have come under fresh pressure to release a series of Brexit impact studies, in a Commons debate.

    Some Conservative MPs joined Labour in calling for the 58 documents, which focus on different sectors of the economy, to be published.

    Labour is seeking to use an arcane parliamentary procedure to force the government’s hand.

    On Monday the government published the list of sectors that have been looked at, ranging from aerospace and aviation to tourism and legal services, but has argued that releasing them would undermine its negotiating position with the EU.

    Another Conservative MP, Sarah Wollaston, said they should be sent to “all relevant select committees”.

    Labour, which organised the debate, sought to make use of what it called an “ancient, but still effective” parliamentary tool to secure the documents’ publication.

    This involved tabling a motion that “an humble address be presented to Her Majesty” requiring that the reports “be laid before this House and that the impact assessments arising from those analyses be provided to the Committee on Exiting the European Union”.

    Brexit Minister Robin Walker argued there was a “clear obligation” not to release the information.

    Labour’s Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer said it was a “victory for Parliament and for democracy”.

    “Ministers cannot keep withholding vital information from Parliament about the impact of Brexit on jobs and the economy,” he said.

    Meanwhile, as the brexiteer fantasy of redirection of EU £millions of contributions to the NHS, is exposed as nonsense, EU nursing staff, are now leaving the NHS in droves, aggravating staff shortages because of the threat and uncertainty of brexit!

    As with the bought stooges of right-wing extremists in the USA, in the UK the loony right is damaging the country and hiding the evidence!

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  • @Alan #6

    Why can’t ads come with an internet address, ending in .ad, that directs the viewer to the source and list of its biggest contributors?

    We have addresses ending in .gov, .com, .edu–why not require sales/advertising to provide info that goes into a database with addresses ending in .ad?

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  • Vicki #9
    Nov 3, 2017 at 4:49 am

    Nevermind the $1.6 trillion debt,

    There is of course the inherited $4 to $6 trillion debt Bush borrowed to fund the Afghan and Iraq wars!

    Remember, when President George Bush’s National Economic Council Director, Lawrence Lindsey, had told the country’s largest newspaper “The Wall Street Journal” that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, he had found himself under intense fire from his colleagues in the administration who claimed that this was a gross overestimation.

    Consequently, Lawrence Lindsey was forced to resign. It is also imperative to recall that the Bush administration had claimed at the very outset that the Iraq war would finance itself out of Iraqi oil revenues, but Washington DC had instead ended up borrowing some $2 trillion to finance the two wars, the bulk of it from foreign lenders.

    According to the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government 2013 report, this accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012.

    According to the report, the US “has already paid $260 billion in interest on the war debt,” and future interest payments would amount to trillions of dollars. This Harvard University report has also been carried on its website by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, which is a widely-quoted Montreal-based independent research and media organisation.

    In its report under review, the 377-year old Harvard University has viewed that these afore-mentioned wars had not only left the United States heavily indebted, but would also have a profound impact on the federal government’s fiscal and budgetary crises over a protracted period.

    The report has attributed the largest share of the trillions of dollars in continuing costs to care and compensation for hundreds of thousands of troops left physically and psychologically damaged by the two wars being discussed here.

    The report states: “The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history—totaling somewhere between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. This includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.”

    It asserts: “Another major share of the long-term costs of the wars comes from paying off trillions of dollars in debt incurred as the US government failed to include their cost in annual budgets and simultaneously implemented sweeping tax cuts for the rich. In addition, huge expenditures are being made to replace military equipment used in the two wars. The report also cites improvements in military pay and benefits made in 2004 to counter declining recruitment rates as casualties rose in the Iraq war.”

    The authors of this report have warned that the legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.

    According to the Harvard University report, some 1.56 million US troops—56 per cent of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans—were receiving medical treatment at Veterans Administration facilities and would be granted benefits for the rest of their lives.

    So Trumponomics is just another stage of Bushonomics! – But the arms manufacturers have really done quite well out of this!

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  • Trump calls the court decision to let Bowe Bergdahl off without prison time “a disgrace”. I think Trump evading military service multiple times with fake doctor’s letters is the actual disgrace.

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  • @Arkrid #12

    He needs to shut the hell up. Spewing opinions in his position is detrimental to the justice process. He’s already calling for the death penalty for the Manhattan suspect, and the guy hasn’t even been indicted yet. Any lawyer would be screaming bias at that. How do you even give the semblance of a fair trial after that national declaration from the so-called POTUS?

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  • @Alan #15

    Tragically hilarious!

    Apparently, SkepDick hasn’t really thought that through. The end result of killing everyone would be no one left to say “told’ja!”

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  • 17
    maria melo says:

    OK, HERE IT GOES REPOSTING A COMMENT (and not risk to be banned, it only takes the hard task of adding a dot I guess, to be a different comment)

    Being overly emotional can be bad. We all know that

    Antonio Damasio, as you may know, thinks it is necessary a balance between emotion and reason and that´s how evolution is working out the relation between the two (oversimplyfied in my lay person not technical language).
    Emotional response is slower, so it needs time to workout a more adapted answer to different situations, and if one will not be given the opportunity to give emotions their right time, perhaps we won´t develop an adequate behaviour, but to surpress emotions is an illusion.
    Rational brain processes information faster than the emotional brain, if one does not have the opportunity to give emotions their time/path, perhaps óne cannot develop the social adapted behaviour.
    (Being emotionally inapropriate can mean in fact that one might not have given emotions an opportunity to workout, it means one might be more confused to take decisions, or rather the opposite of “Being overly emotional can be bad”?)
    ……… (ah, ah)

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  • @Maria #17

    That doesn’t make sense to me. I would have characterized emotional responses as faster, thus giving rise to the term “knee-jerk reaction”, and rational responses as requiring thought first, thus slowing them down.

    Either way, I don’t think Trump falls into any of those categories. His entire life has been in a money-sanctioned bubble, and consequences of emotional or rational responses have been protected by that.

    That is, assuming you were referencing Trump?

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  • 19
    maria melo says:


    emotional responses as faster

    I see your point, perhaps that´s where stupidity comes from, not a from careful comtemplation between both, but an”automatic” response.
    However it still is necessary that people take decisions, even rational ones, balanced by emotional impulses (gains/losses), but it doesn´t mean th emotions are not necessary in rational decision making, it only mean that “stupid” decisions are not balancend, but disruptive, how could a bad mathematician balance gains and losses of bad decisions anyway, well I guess they couldn´t so they rely on automatic pilot (emotions as a faste/automatic answer to bahaviour), but by no means it implies that rational decisions don´t need the impulse of emotions, I guess.

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  • 22
    maria melo says:

    That is, assuming you were referencing Trump?

    Oh no, by no means I was referring to Trump, but developing the same issues of a free discussion on open discussion that came before..
    Anyway, Trump´s “rationality” serves his lack of social emotions (he seems amoral like a psycopath) and he is unfortunate, he lacks intelligence too, and will, of course, face strong social rejection.

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  • maria,

    Thanks for posting the Damasio vid.

    I’m with Vicki on processing speeds though. Damasio is absolutely right about needing to have emotions to make good quality decisions. Without them we can’t value our potential (logical!) choices….whats the point of anything if you don’t care.

    Damasio is keen to distinguish emotions from feelings (emotions introspected upon) and by emotions he intends all the stuff of our automatic selves developed in reptilian and early mammal days, the amygdala and limbic systems. It is the very speed of our subconscious reptilian selves that has required the development of the anterior cingulate cortex to civilise and constrain our fast acting (emotional) behaviours.

    Figuring stuff out using the pre-frontal cortex is slow. Its a big, five layered inference machine, weighing up a lot of information immediately apprehended and recalled sometimes from deep memory. Because its slow and our emotional responses fast we need our spindle cells (broadband for the brain) to rush these deeper considerations to the ACC our error detector to prevent the emotional self getting us into too much trouble.

    Without the emotional responses to events and forming notions, no motor exists for making choices or action and no introspective feelings arise to modify them. In the absence of such neural activity the brain probably does what it has recently evolved to do (a theory of mine has it), it makes up shit, more random decisions, to fill the deficit.

    (A recent paper about cetaceans, their high sociability and their brain development shows a lot of really exciting possibilities for study. Personal names, skills education through verbalisations, possibly gossip about absent others, correlates to brain development. They perhaps alone share significant spindle cells (Von Economo) numbers with us. With no possibility of technology, they may be uniquely socialites and poets….)

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  • 24
    maria melo says:

    Hi Phil,

    I don´t doubt what you are saying I presume are accurate facts.
    I guess Damasio was referring tp the dangers it represents for a brain in formation (teens) and the implications of not having the opportunity to assure a proper emotional development that will be necessary to social approprite responses in a world that processes too much information and lacks the opportunity to emotional reflections..
    In fact, by experience in my work, I have seen a teenager with structural deficits (that will remain forever because he didn´t have the proper care of a mother or someone to fullfil emotional needs), a child with “attachment syndrom” because of an absent mother that needs a “mother of substitution”, an adult woman (that lost two children for adoption) because lacked the affection of a mother (or someone and cammot have appropriate behaviour in her motherhood), these people have structural disfunctions forever, generating, in the case of the 11 years old boy that because the has “atchment syndrom” he has innapropriate sexual behaviour towards his little brother, the woman with innapropriate maternal behaviour that lost two children for adoption, the boy that bacame a criminal that has structural problems forever because he lacked the care of a mother. It needs emotional healthy growth to develop a functional adult with approprate moral behaviour, in teens you need to give emotions an opportunity to develop moral social behaviour and link it to rationality, perhaps as much as bombarding them with factual information of the world, that was my point..

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  • maria melo #24
    Nov 4, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    In fact, by experience in my work, I have seen a teenager with structural deficits (that will remain forever because he didn´t have the proper care of a mother or someone to fullfil emotional needs),


    Trump says this private boarding school gave him more military training than the Army could — take a look

    Founded in 1889, the private school is spread across 120 acres in rural Cornwall, New York, located 60 miles north of Manhattan. The cost of tuition is $41,210 a year at the school, which ranks No. 128 on a list of the best boarding schools in the US by education resource Niche.

    The story goes that Trump’s parents shipped their 13-year-old son off to NYMA when he began acting up and it became a problem. Some 50 years later, Trump would tell his biographer that his five years’ education there gave him more military training than the military could.

    The New York Military Academy opened doors in 1889 with the hopes of preparing cadets for “further education and to be effective leaders and responsible citizens.”

    Trump rose to captain, tasked with presiding over NYMA’s most prestigious company of cadets. Former roommates and instructors say he thrived under the school’s rigidity.

    However, he was later removed from his post for allegedly looking the other way when the older students hazed the underclassmen, according to some former classmates.

    Unlike the United States Military Academy West Point or the United States Naval Academy, which require military service after graduation, NYMA has no obligation.

    Male cadets are strictly forbidden from entering the women’s housing, and vice versa. Students also aren’t allowed to leave base without permission from the commandant.

    Students stand at attention as they wait to be served lunch in the mess hall.

    With enrollment numbers dwindling since the 1960s, the school has struggled financially. It filed for bankruptcy in March 2015 when its debts neared $12 million.

    Some buildings, namely the dormitories, are in need of massive repairs. Quartz called the facilities “dilapidated.”

    Administrators asked their wealthiest living alum, Trump, to make a $7 million donation to ease its money troubles back in 2011. Trump reportedly declined.

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  • 26
    maria melo says:


    I wonder how the the previous news might be related to what I was reporting about my work experience.

    Trump is not an educated man because of his tie and because he attended a military academy I suppose. He was sent there because of his juvenile delinquent behaviour problems by his parents, but from what I know from the most prestigious Portuguese Military Academy, they don´t accept students with disruptive behaviour (not even some years ago would the militar institution accept that a militar member would marry a hooker, strange, but that´s true, there was even a previous investigation to the bride).
    I´ve seen kids with disruptive (diliquent behaviour), from my work expeience, a boy that was rejected by the Military Academy and couldn´t attend it. Trump parents used to visit him and take a beautiful young woman each time they visited him when he was attending the Mlitary Academy (kind of prostitute I suppose). A golden rule in the Military Academy I´m mentioning is character, lies for instance are not allowed by no means, I know that because a deliquent boy (I would swear thar his deliquency is genetic), at the verge of being adopted by wealthy parents sent him to the Military Academy, but after a while, he couldn´t attend anymore because he lied.

    It seems obvious to me that Trump would never give any prestigious reputation to the Military Academy he attended, that sounds kind of odd to me that they even thought of asking him for finantial support.

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  • So this is pretty darned scary.

    I’ve been reading about it and listening to two weeks worth on the excellent BBC R4 Science prog Inside Science. This seems like a re-run of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring before DDT was banned.

    I’m next to a river and used to be plagued by flies, so much so that, as I left the windows open i’d let spiders take up residence in the house to deal with them. This years only a few lightweight arachnids instead of the carpet thumpers of yore and not a single house fly, just a very few midges, crane fly and mozzies. No swifts this year either.

    I think the collapse is gathering pace. I wonder if the experiment eliminating neonics plays into this also.

    Anybody noticed this happening?

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  • A nation under siege. An administration at war with the environment, with science, and everything else that stands between them and total control, white Christian supremacy, increased concentration of wealth and privilege

    Moral monsters, moral monsters, moral monsters. Got a get me a new passport.

    Donald Trump Jr.‏Verified account
    Follow Follow @DonaldJTrumpJr
    I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism.

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  • Trump has effectively destroyed the EPA, and set the stage for epic disaster. Bans on insecticides and pesticides have been lifted from operatives now controlling and working within the EPA. All for corporate profit.

    Governors will be elected, like the rabid nazi in Alabama and will be in office ten years. Virginia looks tight. The hard right (evil) Trump guy is closing in. Plus, Trump has appointed a record amount of life time justices.

    Gerrymandering, redistricting, and the unprecedented use of propaganda. This is bad! And I heard that if Sessions resigns, Mueller is probably out. The guy who hired Mueller will be replaced.

    The tax plan is horrendous. No medicare in 2 years. The social state is on its way out if things continue. And why shouldn’t they? It’s a pathetic country. Too many frightened, stupid humans. All that money that won’t be going into the Treasury will be trickling down into the pockets of the top tenth of one percent. And they have adds for it now, paid for by some right wing scum. It shows poor people and working people looking happy and making more money.

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  • “I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism.” Trump Jr.

    The irony here is that if he really did tell his daughter to give some halloween candy to a friend who was unable to go trick-or-tweeting that would have been nice. But of course he is just making fun of “socialism” which he knows nothing about, and is indoctrinating his kid, I am sure. That poor kid!!

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  • Dan #30
    Nov 4, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    The hard right (evil) Trump guy is closing in. Plus, Trump has appointed a record amount of life time justices.

    With such large numbers, some future administration, which has some competence and creativity, could introduce a professional body to check on current knowledge of the law and track record of the performance judges, where they are judged by their peers, to sort out those currently fit to practise! A future president could also appoint more judges who meet some criterial which would allow them to be preferentially selected for service.
    A retirement age for judges could also be introduced.

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  • Dan #31
    Nov 5, 2017 at 12:19 am

    “I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism.” Trump Jr.

    In future she’ll have even greater opportunities to give/withhold half her scrounged candy to/from the disabled kids who can’t get out to see their neighbours, because of the lack of medical treatment her grandfather and father have deprived them of under “Trump-Care” repeals of Obama-Care!

    Still:- altruistic SHARING with the sick, the injured, the less privileged, or the handicapped, would be that Trump-despised “Socialism”!
    (Otherwise known as SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY)
    Trumpies can’t start teaching selfish greed too early! 🙂

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  • Alan,

    Catholic Theocracy thwarted 1605

    and in a sense another Theocracy thwarted in 1649 when Charles 1st was beheaded declaring the Divine Right of Kings, that he was answerable only to god. Parliament answerable to the people set us free.

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  • Dan #30

    Looking for solace I found this

    containing this

    Senator Ted Cruz has said he thinks that the party could face a ‘Watergate-level blowout’ at next year’s elections

    which gave me a thrill until I realised it was a view that feared this initiative would fail

    The Koch network plans to spend between $300 million to $400 million on policy and political campaigns during the 2018 election cycle. Within that budget, they have already invested eight figures on the tax push.

    They are airing television ads, hosting events and rallying donors to write checks, call lawmakers and pen op-eds in an effort to ramp up pressure.

    “It’s the most significant federal effort we’ve ever undertaken,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, a national Koch-backed organization.

    Land of the Free? My Arse.

    Home of the Brainwashed.

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  • Phil

    Yep. Make no mistake: we are Grade A idiots. Fact is, that’s always been the case. Our saving graces have always been beacons who were able to appeal to our better nature, but they certainly weren’t the norms.

    With the rise of dark campaign money, what used to be an embarrassing quirk is now the thing that will bring us down. Moneyed groups like the Kochs and Mercers have financed control of the democratic process, and the thumpers have joined them in a bizarre marriage, all refusing to look to the future.

    Do I sound discouraged? Sure, why shouldn’t I be? OTOH, I am grateful to be able to hop onto sites like this one. It reassures me that those beacons are still out there. Y’all make me smile. Thanks for that!

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  • 38
    maria melo says:


    I´ve watched again the vídeo, interview of Damasio, and theré´s no doubt he mentions that the cognitive brain is faster in processing information than the emotional brain is to find the a more adapted emotion- not so fast as the cognitive brain. He mentions with accuracy of seconds the performance of each (cognitive brain and emotional brain) in seconds, so it seems there´s no margin to think that´s not a fact, but don´t ask me for more details, I´m not neurologist (nor does my opinion has value as scientific fact.) I assume that if a neurologist says so, it must be correct.

    i can link to this interview, iPortugues spoken, you can perhaps use legends ans settings to translate, but the translation seems to be so wrong in some parts.

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  • Ditto what Vicki said. Thanks, Alan, Phil, et al.

    I wouldn’t say that we are all grade A idiots (brainwashed) – save the Beacons. I would say, however, that the idiots appear to be alarmingly large in number and that those who have a vested interest in keeping them idiots have been more active, better organized than the rest of us, more determined and more resourceful.

    Last night Trump spoke in Japan. They cheered. Why? The fuhrër (Big Daddy) spoke and they cheered.

    Things might improve.

    (I am like a pendulum. I have been experiencing intense pessimism; not right now, however. One has to have hope. “Without hope you die”, as MLK said. Never thought the vermin of the hard Right would ever gain so much ground, or that we’d ever have such a corrupt administration. Nixon was a “saint” compared to Trump. He started the EPA, went to China.)

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  • Vicki,

    Though still overly wedded to a substantially free market and a small, hands-off government right wing politicians could be moral when the USA went into its magnificent rights revolution and bid to grow up.

    But the neglected core, the poor, less educated and scared folk got panicky over revolution and old, Big Money realised with a good enough sock puppet, an actor, say, playing the kindly and reassuring Uncle President, they could win folks away from an enemy they could then demonise quite as rabidly as Joe McCarthy’s first attempt.

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  • I wouldn’t say that we are all grade A idiots.

    And nor would I. Just too many at the moment for comfort.

    If you look at the profile of support for Trump age-wise, it strongly favours the nearly dead.

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  • maria #38

    Ah! I think a little other stuff is going on here. This may be acknowledging the Daniel Kahneman hypotheses about fast automatic thinking based on heuristics and fast emotions versus the elaborate inference generation and subsequent actions that derive from feelings. I will check this out. Just on a coffee break at the moment.

    (The above uses Damasio’s definitions of emotion and feeling.)

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  • You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Abraham Lincoln

    You can fool too many of the people too much of the time. Dan R________

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  • Dan #39
    Nov 5, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Last night Trump spoke in Japan. They cheered.
    The fuhrër (Big Daddy) spoke and they cheered.

    The Japanese are usually very polite to foreigners. They also are likely to appreciate any sympathetic words about stopping North Korean missiles flying over japan!

    As with American crowds, I would also check on who was invited as an audience for Trump!

    Even former presidents from his own party say he does not know how to behave like a responsible president!

    .. . . . . and his know-it-all spokes-muppets attack them for saying so, rather than learning from the advice they are being given!

    His ratings compared to other US presidents are abysmal, but that does not prevent his supporters selecting crowds which will cheer him in front of the media!

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  • That’s true. They packed the crowd with good servile patriots serving overseas. And the Japanese would have welcomed anyone other than Kim Jong-un.

    True also about his ratings:

    Approaching the first anniversary of his victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, Trump has an approval rating demonstrably lower than any previous chief executive at this point in his presidency over seven decades of polling. Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans — 37 percent — say they approve of the way he is handling his job.

    Alan, did you read the article that Phil posted (#28)? 75% reduction of winged insects in Germany. It could be more widespread, endemic. That’s horrible. Ever see the sci-fi movie Soylent Green? No food, no nature. They had to find things to eat… I don’t want to give it away. Could that happen? Those insects serve a vital function; they are food for other animals, etc.

    Life without oceans and an abundance of wildlife and flowers and green growing things and animals would not be worth living – from an aesthetic standpoint, and would be dreadful from an ecological standpoint.

    Pruitt and his henchmen have to go!

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  • 46
    maria melo says:


    The above uses Damasio’s definitions of emotion and feeling

    I ´m aware of the current defintion of the difference between emotion and feeling, feeling in simple terms is a reflection on emotions.

    It seems there are two pathwys fot emotions, one pathway for primary emotions, like fear, that has a fast pathway with no cognition process involved, and social emotions, more elaborate, that require interference of cognitive processes, slower therefore.
    You must be right in a sense, the problem must be to know what we are talking about.
    Damasio is among the bibligraphy presented.

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  • Phil #28

    I have a large pot of Oregano next to the steps of my patio that I allow to bloom. I love sitting by it on summer mornings watching many different sized flies, bees and an few wasps visiting it while I sip my coffee. This year, I had a bad show from the plant and the insects. Even my Lily of the Valley didn’t have its usual constant traffic of three types of bee this spring, regardless of the many flowers I got.

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  • Phil

    Have you read Tolman’s paper “Emotional States”? (1947) I appreciate his insistence that emotions are borne of feelings; not the other way around.

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  • Dan

    Tolman. “Emotional States”.

    No I haven’t. He is the acceptable face of behaviourism allowing goal orientation as the object for behaviour. And I see he is also a McCarthy Era hero, fighting for academic freedom. A man to read.

    I can’t at present find a copy of Emotional States.

    Damasio’s definitions allow mammals emotions as the “brutish” and primal things we all share and feelings to be a higher, refined management of them. The terms are merely semantic. We can pretend working in another language if need be.

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  • I may have dreamt it… Sorry, Phil, I was kidding. “Emotions borne of feelings.” That was a joke! The only thing true was the name Tolman. I found his name after googling “early cognitive psychology”. You seem to know a lot about him. You know your shit!

    (Sorry, mods. A little humor during these dark times. The site is working better than ever, btw! Congrats!)

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  • 53
    maria melo says:

    3.4.2 From “emotion” to “feeling” in consciousness
    The importance that Antonio Damasio attaches to emotion and ‘consciousness of feeling’ is decisive. In fact, this fact is soon pondered in one of the five starting points of The Feeling of What Happens and it crosses through Descartes ´ Error. The root cause of such an attitude may lie in a dramatic awareness of human phylogeny. In fact, just as the author is incisive as to the priorness of the conscience vis-a-vis (verbal) language, so too is not less in regard to the anteriority of the emotion to the consciousness itself: “During the evolutionary process, emotion arose, probably , prior to the awakening of consciousness, and appears in each of us as a result of inductors which we do not always recognize consciously.only, it is in the theater of the conscious mind that feelings produce their most important and lasting effects “(ibid .: 57)
    Not only does emotion appear to us here with a residual foundational aspect, but, on the other hand, the somatosensory images that embody feelings appear to us as the ones that most resist the ephemeral of the imaginary flow (or unlimited semiosis), through which we think . Clearly establishing the emotion-consciousness-language hierarchy, let us now examine how the process of transition from emotion to “feeling” in consciousness operates, as described in The Feeling of Self (ibid .: 323/4):
    a) Emotion inducers and the organism interact;
    b) The figure of the object that interfered in the first moment (whether recognized or not, whether conscious or not) is processed, which eventually activates neural regions that, in an appropriate way, soon respond to the manifested “particular class of inductor”;
    c) Emotion-inducing regions in turn trigger responses to the body and brain;
    d) First-order neural maps represent the modifications in question: feelings emerge at this stage:
    e) “The pattern of neural activity” in the regions of emotion induction is now only mapped into second order neural mental structures. The proto-si modifications are also mapped in the same second-order report.
    The second-order account thus enunciates a relation between two representations – that of an ’emotion as an object’ – and that of the affected ‘proto-si’, and eventually adapts itself to the syntax of the flow of thought that was and will always be in progress (until death). The first relations described in the antechambers of consciousness present contours of signic communication and still not properly semiotic (sign), because they basically put into play entities governed by code (…)”

    (Google translated, except the title of the books mentioned

    (Looking for Spinoza also explains the difference emotions/feelings, so emotions come first, consciouness later on evolutionary process of brain structures.)

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  • Ollie.

    Oh, bum, its not just me and the Germans then. This is potentially catastrophic and this year I noticed a particular drop off. As a kid bug removal from the car windscreen happened several times on a road trip to our holiday destination. Now even out of the wiper path the windscreen remains pretty clean. This year no swirling columns of bugs at evening. I have a video from three or four years ago of this. No swifts swooping to catch them. Watching the bee count we weren’t watching all the others insects failing in like measure.

    I got Rachel Carson books as a kid (The Sea Around Us) and I got this from the library shortly after it came out

    Hugely important.

    Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, but it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, led to a nationwide ban on DDT for agricultural uses,[2] and inspired an environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    The EPA. Remember them?

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  • Phil

    I got Rachel Carson books as a kid (The Sea Around Us)

    What a jolt reading that. I have here next to me The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson. 1955. It was given to me with solemnity by my late doting great uncle, way back in the early seventies. I’ve wondered if he also owned Silent Spring as well. He probably did own it. This is how adults transfer a love and respect for science to kids and teens. I remember how he indicated his respect for the book and for the author. This book doesn’t live in the jumble of the bookcases. It has a special place on the hall table. It’s fragile now and can’t be handled much. The written material is beautiful and the sentimental value far exceeds any old book appraisal.

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  • Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us was my best and favourite book. Its part of how my dad cured me of boredom from seven onward. At school, (7, 8, 9) I was an exasperating pupil, initially bored until I learned that I could live in my mind and go places more interesting. Under the sea was a frequent destination. I frequently failed to do the tasks set and was often taken to see the head. This, I later realised was Mrs Williams’ and Mr Hughes’s way of self protection. Yes I’d failed to do my work but listen to this, they’d say, and I’d explain again about cetaceans and sonar or how an internal combustion engine worked.

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  • Dan.

    I know some shit. I’ve been studying psychology and neuro-psychology since a teenager and since the crucial work of Richard Gregory. I’m contemplating an MSc with with a particular chap in London if I can only fit it in with my work.

    I knew of Tolman and his broadening of behaviourism but not his battle with the witch hunters. That caught me off guard unlike your other fantasy publication and author a while back. I thought emotion as a motor for goal generation and learning makes perfect sense as a hypothesis for study. Good choice.

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  • phil rimmer #28
    Nov 4, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I’m next to a river and used to be plagued by flies, so much so that, as I left the windows open i’d let spiders take up residence in the house to deal with them.
    This years only a few lightweight arachnids instead of the carpet thumpers of yore and not a single house fly, just a very few midges, crane fly and mozzies. No swifts this year either.

    I think the collapse is gathering pace. I wonder if the experiment eliminating neonics plays into this also.

    Amazingly Michael Gove has got something right!

    An extended ban on controversial neonicotinoid pesticides will be supported by the UK, Environment Secretary Michael Gove says.

    The UK has previously resisted tighter restrictions on the pesticides, saying there was insufficient evidence. Mr Gove says that’s no longer the case.

    Environmentalists have long said neonicotinoids are harming pollinators.

    But the UK government has generally backed the farmers’ view that the chemicals are safe.

    It was overruled in 2013 when the EU banned three types of neonicotinoid pesticides for most uses in the fields.

    The European Commission now wants to extend that ban to all uses of “neonics” except for in greenhouses.

    This time Mr Gove says the UK won’t object in principle.

    He’ll wait to see the exact wording of the proposal but he agrees the science now suggests that the pesticides could be harming pollinators.

    “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” said Mr Gove.

    “I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”

    Anybody noticed this happening?

    There do seem to be less insects around, but the darned sawfly caterpillars, have still stripped the leaves on my gooseberry bushes! The seasonal aphids also turned up as usual last summer.

    I haven’t seen the swifts or bats around, and no wasps nests in my hedges this year either!

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  • When I moved up to Aberdeenshire in 2012 the house flies were so numerous in summer it was like plague proportions. My bungalow with lots of roof and window area for its internal volume behaves like a greenhouse in summer. Any hint of direct sunlight and the temperature indoors goes ballistic. 20c outside but sunny and it can be 30c inside. So it became a matter of either open the windows to cool the house down and have it full of flies or keep them shut and swelter.

    I hung up sticky fly strips and even used to go round with the vacuum cleaner extension nozzle trying to suck the bastards up off the walls and ceiling before they drove me mad. Nothing really worked though. 2 minutes after opening the kitchen window I could have 20 or more inside. They covered every surface in the kitchen with specks of fly poop.

    Then there were the blackflies which hang around in swarms under trees and follow anything emitting carbon dioxide. Trying to walk the dog of an evening and we’d get chased by clouds of these damn things and they bite you too as well as just being inordinately annoying.

    The last couple of summers have been much cooler up here so not so much need to open the windows but on the few occasions I’ve had to do so there have been very few house flies coming inside and little in the way of black flies when I’ve been outside. I also haven’t seen the bats this summer either which used to fill the sky at dusk every evening. I can’t say how much of this is the colder weather of course but it’s definitely noticeable.

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  • Phil,

    Your article about the disappearance of vast quantities of insects (#25) was very disturbing. I mentioned it to some people ad they were incredulous. They said: “Oh that would be on the front page of every major newspaper in the world.”

    I read the article but I’m not clear about one thing: are they talking about the death of 75 percent of insects in Germany (and elsewhere) or about extinction of whole species – or both? Or are they not sure?

    (Btw, we’ve been discussing humor: the phrase, “some things are just not funny” is an interesting one. This insect problem is nothing to joke about, is it? Neither is Trump, in my opinion. But if someone laughs I guess it’s funny to them. Lunatics often laugh at what appears to be nothing; is what only one individual can laugh at deserving of the word Humor or does Humor have to be shared mirth? In other words, if humor is not socialized is it still humor?)

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  • Laurie,

    Enfeebled Governments.

    I’m getting a lot out of Ja Hoon Chang’s “Bad Samaritans”. Most interesting was the history of the Bretton Woods Institutions established in 1944, The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.) These modest and worthy institutions began to develop mission creep after the Third World Debt crisis of 1982, progressing by the nineties to make their loans conditional on a country’s governance. Openness to outside investment to majority levels and minimisation of government scale ownership and powers became non-negotiable conditions of life saving loans. These eviscerations intentionally pushed developing countries off any of the dirigisme that was so spectacularly successful for Pacific Rim economies. It specifically blocked the considered cultivation of modern, new, nationally-serving capabilities and threw them into the hands of industrialists to get maximum short-term return on investment for themselves.

    This gutting of organisation and planning for a nation is the underlying “achievement” of neo-liberalism supported at every turn by the non accountable institutions of the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO.

    Why Americans think neo-liberals don’t want exactly the same for the USA is puzzling. Creating wealth comes first. (Now is not the time to worry about inequity and whose wealth, or ecology!) The statistics show neo-liberal government and economic models deliver half the growth rate of those countries with substantial governance that manage long-term investment in broad based new capabilities. The former poster child for neo-liberalism, Chile, is falling apart having had no intelligent long-term investment.

    More than Trump and his dismantling of decent constraints on commerce and undermining of investment in long term sustainable jobs and technologies, a war must be joined with unfettered neo-liberalism the dogma of which underwrites his mayhem.

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  • Dan. The issue was population decline, not some species extinctions, though some species will be more vulnerable.

    Laughter can be bitter…and gallows humour is a return ticket to the dark side.

    Humour is very much a social phenomenon in my view, as evidenced by its vocalisations and shared, infectious facial expressions, though its initial specifics are personal.

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  • So Arkrid and Alan have seen the downturn, too. How about the USA? We know bees have taken a big hit there. What about flying insects in general and insectivores?

    I have a few things say about a response, when I’ve finished reading a bunch of papers on Anthranilic (and other) Diamides, the most credible replacements for neonics. But we have quite a number of additional strategies we can also implement.

    Finally we need to be sure this is essentially a neonic problem and not say recently aggravated by a return to Pyrethrins.

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  • Phil

    Bad Samaritans. Just looked it up and it sounds interesting. My library is obtaining a copy for me to borrow.

    Neoliberalism. I must admit that I didn’t know what that meant until it was mentioned on this site months ago. At that time I did some quick reading on it just so I could follow whatever thread we were on at the time. Now I have to wonder how many other Americans there are out there who have no understanding of the term or even bad understanding. It could be a case of Neoliberalism -> New liberalism -> Oh that’s nice. Liberals are nice people. The end.

    I also suspect that even if the general public don’t understand what Neoliberalism is, can’t define it, could it be possible that they feel it when they say that Hillary wasn’t a good candidate? They understand that she is beholden to megacapitalists and special interest groups. I remember saying to Dan a while back that I did vote for Clinton but that I didn’t think she was a candidate that would make any big changes once in office the way I though Sanders would (attempt) to do. I felt that she was a status quo candidate. At that time I could not articulate that she was a Neoliberal and here’s what that’s all about…

    I have no idea what the extent of this particular ignorance is in this place or what it would take to enlighten our humble voting public. A massive media blitz designed to instruct on the topic? Think of what they’d be up against; a lifetime of programming us to be voracious consumers and foot soldiers of the glorious free market. I only see this by leaning out of the Capitalism bubble and sneaking peaks at our friends on the outside. Just lately, our Mancunian friends who left here worried and overwhelmed by the aggressive, immense scale of retail commerce and everything connected with it. (other things added to that left them blinking) . I read their worry and encourage them to express this but for anyone who has never traveled abroad and put serious thought into how things are done in other places and what is working and what is failing there, I sadly expect to hear some very ignorant statements from Americans that would include interpretations including jealousy and general backwardness as an explanation for why anyone would criticize anything about the States. Nationalism and Capitalism bolster each other here.

    This article explains a lot:

    Neoliberalism – the ideology that cannot ever be mentioned by its true name…(dramatic pipe organ music)

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  • Laurie, others

    That article. My mother sends me stuff like that all the time, stuff about the “neoliberals”. I now usually delete without reading.

    I object to the term itself neoliberal, as it confuses the mind and conflates liberalism, a good thing, with something bad. And as much as I like Naomi Klein, I feel that she is wrong to blame Hillary and Obama and to label them this way. Everyone knows that the Democrats and the Republicans are only quantitatively different in so far as they are both beholden to the corporations.

    But Obama’s and Clintons’ (et al.) positions are better than Trump’s on every issue I can think of. Do they deny global warming? Do they make fun of disabled people? Do they wave the flag, call protesters disrespectful, and slander the press, et cetera? Was Hillary Clinton a birther? (Trump is a racist!)

    It sounds to me like Klein could have easily voted for Trump. Why not? He wasn’t a politician, remember? Cornel West voted for Stein, and that makes him… wrong. Many intellectuals and critics of neo-liberalism did not vote at all or voted for Stein. That’s a vote for Trump. They are complicit, are partly responsible for what we have now: American Fascism.

    Let’s end this nightmare and not let this evil happen again.

    Vote for “the lesser of two evils”. You might discover that what you thought was evil was not evil at all. Fascism in the form of right wing populism is evil. Status quo is not fascism. It is the opposite of fascism. Obama made some important changes and is infinitely better than Trump. Hillary Clinton is not nearly as corrupt and reactionary and mendacious as Trump. Not even close.

    And I am tired of hearing about the people that think they’ve been left behind. Who are these fine, fine people? They shut their ears and closed their eyes. So do they acknowledge their mistake now? (Not if they are bigots or gullible.) Is Mr. Sanders going to rescue them all? Or will they have to not vote again? Or will they vote for another anti-status quo outsider and one even worse than Trump next time?

    Incremental progress is better than nothing. Status quo is better than what we have now. And if we are going to blame, then blame the Russians and the Trump propaganda machine, at least a little. But Naomi Klein doesn’t want to go there. Too busy being an ideologue (as far as her an analysis of this past election is concerned).

    People need to be forewarned. This is the age of propaganda and fake news. So no one trusts anyone and we lose our sense of perspective – and our sense of proportion. That’s what the enemy wants. Look who won!

    Clinton Cash was essentially a high-priced smear campaign against Hillary Clinton. The book got most of its funding from the Mercer family, who were also among Trump’s top donors. The billionaire family is also a major backer of the data firm Cambridge Analytica and helped fund Breitbart News under Steve Bannon’s leadership. Bannon would later go on to produce a film version of the book on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, just before he joined the Trump campaign. The film was specifically edited to appeal to angry supporters of Bernie Sanders. As Nancy LeTourneau reported in Washington Monthly, the book and subsequent film were a huge part of the Trump campaign’s orchestrated effort to undermine Hillary Clinton through the dissemination of weaponized information and disinformation.

    In the video on William and Kalvin’s YouTube page, the host begins by stating, “I support Bernie Sanders,” and then goes on to endorse the movie Clinton Cash.

    Around the same time that Williams and Kalvin were endorsing Clinton Cash on their Russian-backed YouTube page, Breitbart news was doing the same.

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  • Didn’t catch this error. Meant to write: “a fascist revolution under the guise of a right wing populist movement…” (Not “fascism in the form of right-wing populism…”)

    By the way, Laurie, I don’t know if this is true but someone told me that what Hitler did to gain total control was mostly done legally. You’ve asked whether the damage being done might be irreversible. Well if Trump can manage to gain total control like Mussolini and Hitler did, then we will have totalitarianism, a hell on earth once again and right here in America. And all the people who now despise neoliberalism will be wishing, wishing, wishing, that we could have Obama back again. That’s the truth.

    Moore’s strong statement yesterday:

    “Why now? The Democrats and the Republican establishment know the importance of this election. In fact, most people in America know the importance of this election. They see it as a prelude of the elections coming in 2018. It may very well determine the future of our country. My opponent is 11 points behind. That came out just days before this article came out. They are desperate. This article is a prime example of fake news, an attempt to divert attention from the true issues which affect our country, like health care, military readiness, tax reform, immigration, and national debt. We do not intend to let the Democrats or the established Republicans or anybody else behind this story stop this campaign. There are investigations going on. In the next few days there will be revelations about the motivations and the content of this article. They will be brought to the public. We fully expect the people of Alabama to see through this charade and to vote in the primary coming up.”

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  • The sheer deceptive brilliance of “pro-life” and “neoliberal” shows these folk know their true intentions are unacceptable to many. These are words coined by political activists.

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  • Ollie, 67, 68.

    When everything is new much of life is unexpected and can probably seem to be a threat or a mistake. It’s a time of concern and relief, tears and laughter. Peek a boo is a big lesson in risk assessment… morphing from incomprehension to tears to laughter.

    Sometimes experience sits between and we become, complex, poetic and most especially human.

    Our extraordinary evolutionary track, meeting our unique cultural evolutions has created interiors full of those places nameless strange.

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  • Time to bust the myth.

    Among people who said they voted for Trump in the general election, 35 percent had household incomes under $50,000 per year (the figure was also 35 percent among non-Hispanic whites), almost exactly the percentage in NBC’s March 2016 survey. Trump’s voters weren’t overwhelmingly poor. In the general election, like the primary, about two thirds of Trump supporters came from the better-off half of the economy.

    Naomi Klein’s forgotten poor and working class theory doesn’t match with the evidence. Perhaps more working class and rural voters were enamored by Trump than in previous elections but it isn’t only neoliberalism that got him elected. Not at all. There are many reasons. Most of the reasons why people voted for Trump were the same bizarre and almost inexplicable reasons why they voted for Bush Jr and Reagan and almost voted for that big fat liar Romney: tribalism, habit, indoctrination, greed, bigotry, small-mindedness, general stupidity – the educated are among the stupidest of all – and stubbornness. And let’s not forget Comey’s announcement of those emails. I followed the polling very closely. That was the end of a perfect storm. This country has always been a close country; that tipped the scale. I blame a highly effective negative campaign and the voters. (Many leftist intellectuals don’t like to blame the people.)

    Not “neoliberalism”. That was a factor, but not a decisive one, in my opinion.

    Phil, comment 72. Thank you.

    (You still think that falling is primarily about feeling safe, I see. We’ll have to do something about that…)

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  • P.S. Like Hitler Trump had mass appeal.

    These essays conveniently package the sort of evidence that has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Nazis, unlike other German political parties up to that time, cut across class, regional, and religious lines.

    Please retrieve comment 75. It went to spam. Annoying. This one is now rendered meaningless.

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  • Please retrieve comments 75 and 76, when you can. Thanks.

    Financial transaction taxation, Phil? Not if it affects my account! Seriously, I haven’t looked into it.

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  • It seems to be a constant in life that what bullies and cowards say behind a person’s back are very different from what they say when being forced face to face. After 18 months of labelling Jyna a “rapist” and “currency manipulator” Trump has only good things to say to President Xi when they actually meet. Such “great respect” for Jyna beating the USA in trade. Let’s see how his tone alters when he’s back in the safety of the White House.

    Little 5 year old Donnie then mocks Kim Jong UN as short and fat but holds himself out for the position of diplomat and negotiator across east Asia. I also hear he knows a farmer who’ll lend people a bull if they need their china shop tidying up.

    At least Trump has cleared one thing up for us. For the second time he’s asked Putin if he meddled in the election and Putin again said no he didn’t so that puts an end to any more speculation in that department. Bob Mueller can clear out his desk now and look for other employment since Trump has done his job for him so thoroughly.

    On a more serious note, although the relevance might take a while to become apparent, I used to have a friend who’s an animal hoarder. When I met her 5 years ago as the owner of a house for sale I went to view she had 12 of those nasty, yappy, long haired lap dogs of a breed I’m not quite sure about. Maybe Shih Tzu or something similar. They never got taken for a walk, too many to handle even if she wasn’t so fat she can barely walk herself, so they live in the house full time where they have never had a single minute of discipline or training. They shit and wee wherever the fancy takes them and she spends her life cleaning this up and putting it down the loo. There isn’t even a litter tray. They just do it on the floor in whatever room they happen to be in. The smell in her house, which needless to say I didn’t buy, is not something easily described. When they bark, which they do incessantly at any tiny noise or in fact just at each other she says “wheesht, hush you” and gives them all a dog biscuit. She actually rewards them for the bad behaviour. In her deluded mind she thinks they will understand that the biscuits are a reward for not barking any more at some point in the future rather than for the behaviour they’ve just been engaged in immediately prior. I tried and tried to make her understand this is not how you treat animals and then I gave up. I haven’t been round for a year and have no intention of doing so in future. It just upset and annoyed me too much.

    Trump has spent the last 18 months attacking and belittling every world leader (except Putin) he’s had any contact with. Mexico, Japan, China, Canada, Germany etc etc. But they all know that the way to get what they want from this unfortunately necessary idiot is to praise and flatter him so they all roll out the red carpet when he goes to visit. They also reward him for his bad behaviour as my fat friend did with her yappy rats. So he continues to shit on the floor and bark all day because no one has ever forced the fat fuck to face the consequences of any of his actions.

    If just once in his life someone had had the balls to take Trump somewhere quiet and beat seven types of crap out of him, break some ribs, his nose, knock a few teeth out and kick his nuts so hard they retreated back up into his groin then just maybe he wouldn’t be such a c**t.

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  • Dan,

    Let’s end this nightmare and not let this evil happen again.

    Yep. It needs proper fixing. But we need to identify when and how it got broken. My claim is it got broken quite a long time ago. Before any real symptoms of breakage were apparent.

    In a thread elsewhere commending Julie Payette someone observed that the USA had eight such folk were they only given the chance, on the basis of population comparisons. I thought not so much.

    The real tragedy is that those eight have the potential, but American society at its religion-poisoned heart is seeking to thwart the realisation of that potential. Of the OECD nations only the USA has a correlation between poverty and IQ that has a causal element (IQ is depressed, it is guessed through a spectacular GINI coefficient and an ineffective welfare system for the poorest.) Its substantially right of centre politics (even among Democrats) upon which the religious right sits seamlessly believes the narratives of “just deserts”, that all shall be judged for their current state and rewarded or abandoned or punished accordingly. American society is the most punitive of all first world countries. The fetish of individualism allows unfair reward and unfair blame, when society played as big a part, deserving its share of reward and blame also.
    Why am I being so horrible here? Because when the creaky old right wingers die out and some sense is restored the US must inoculate itself against future cancerous growths. It must lift people out of poverty and rail against unfair super-acquisition of wealth by the already wealthy. This is what everyone including the wealthy deserve, a stable (investable!), rich, educated society, with all its talents realised.

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  • Phil

    Well I was being playful; but you have emphasized the danger and relief element quite a bit. I am sure that that is absolutely valid, although it is, as I said, only one aspect of the situation; so why exactly do we laugh at good slapstick? (Most slapstick is bad.) Not sure what your position is.

    I’ve told you what I think. What do you think?

    (I remember slipping once on a hill. The grass was wet and I fell hard right on my ass. I was in camp, was about fifteen. All the kids laughed. I could have broken something. I think there is an element of dislike in that case; they simply didn’t like me and enjoyed seeing me fall and look ridiculous. “Look at Danny; he’s being what he is; a clown, an idiot.” Humor is so complex.)

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  • Poor white folks voted for Trump because they have been progressively stolen from, lost their jobs to overseas. They wanted to make America great again. They wanted their old jobs back. They believed they were being stolen from and raped and murdered by immigrants. Had they a livelihood and security, they would have been more difficult to lie to.

    The Middle Classes wanted more too. They have been working harder and harder for no real progress. They bought the lie of draining the swamp that favours the 0.1% and the racist shit. Both these groups know they’re being stolen from, but the American folk narrative of how wealth is made, sufficiently cloaks the actual thieves even today.

    The rich Upper Classes, knew him for one of them and someone who could calm those tiresome underlings. These folk don’t care too much, being protected by wealth and mobility.

    Gary Younge’s documentary on Channel 4 2 nights ago was excellent.

    The clip here is not the point. It was the nostalgia of the poor and the middle classes for earlier times.

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  • so why exactly do we laugh at good slapstick?

    At base for the reasons I said. Why do kids so laugh at the pratt falls of their peers? The simple relief is amped up by schadenfreude and the improvement of their own status. Kids are mostly pre-moral for a while. Why are adults more fussy? They better know the dangers and have immediate parent-like concerns for well being. Why is Buster Keaton a delight? Our concerns are passivated and the sheer artfulness and balletic execution delivers a secondary shock perhaps? His childhood act involved his father simply trying to beat him up and throw him around (The indestructible boy…or some such). It was hugely popular and on the edge of being prosecutable.

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  • phil rimmer #82
    Nov 12, 2017 at 7:08 am

    His childhood act involved his father simply trying to beat him up and throw him around
    (The indestructible boy…or some such).
    It was hugely popular and on the edge of being prosecutable.

    But was funny because the audience understood he was not being injured or seriously hurt.

    These days we see some unfunny stuff online or on TV, where some idiot pulls a silly stunt, such as jumping off a roof and breaking his back!

    Not funny! – and possibly motivated by the naive gullible, being led to believe that well managed, film-edited, special effects, can be replicated by any Tom, Dick, or Harry!

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  • Phil #74

    I think I missed out on two possible vocations that I might have been good at. One was with pre-school children. I was always given the job of looking after the babies in my family from an early age. The two a weekend weddings would have my family enjoying the dancing and drinking that I was too shy to join in with. I learned the switches that was needed to keep the baby/toddler happy. This helped me later on in life with my youngest son who was having real problems with his upper and lower case letters which was pulled up in his nursery. Not much was helping until I invented a game and cut out all the pieces so we could play. It worked a treat and we were back on track after a few weeks. I knew from my own mind that a one size fits all education system doesn’t work.

    The second missed opportunity was that I had a really good voice and a huge range. The problem was, and why I sympathise with the baby in your link, some of the notes I hit, and they were a big surprise to me as well, made me fill up and I had to stop before I started sobbing. This was all done alone in the car usually because of my shyness. I have some ideas why all this is so and at what possible moment set which switch and it’s set around war and immigration. I do wonder how we will ever be able to repair the damage done to millions of little minds in the wars going on today and how much we will miss because of it.

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  • Vicki

    Interesting article. I wonder how it’ll go with the Japanese women. Japan is such a powerhouse in so many ways but also entrenched in stifling tradition. My husband is just back from Japan and Thailand where he’s getting started on projects there. He’s having some aggravation with the layers of tradition wrapped all around the simplest engineering suggestions. We’re laughing now but another year of this and it won’t be so funny. He has previously commented on the shocking state of women’s rights in that place.

    In other countries I’ve been quick to point out the folly of blocking half of the population there from receiving an education and the ability to contribute to society in positive ways. Instead, leaving them perpetually pregnant and childrearing through the years when they have so much to contribute. Women will enter the workforce, men will have to adapt and in the end the society will be better off. A difficult social transition but what’s the alternative? Stifling gender segregation and oppression of half the population. This is very negative. Remember when we were kids? In my old neighborhood there were a number of moms who were well educated (one was a graduate of an Ivy league college) and then, as the article mentions, had kids and spent the rest of their lives changing diapers and wiping noses. There were a few alcohol issues with these women too. No surprise there.

    As I point out, leave half of the population behind languishing in the dust and the country won’t reach it’s optimal level in any way. When I said that I had in mind certain North African and Middle Eastern places and when I said that then, luckily no one mentioned Japan as a place that proved me wrong. Economic and industrial powerhouse, super clean and efficient but all of that with massive gender segregation. Well, if like the article says, they need women to come into the workforce for the reasons cited there, I hope they make it happen. Childcare programs are an important step.

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  • LaurieB #90
    Nov 12, 2017 at 11:55 am

    In my old neighborhood there were a number of moms who were well educated (one was a graduate of an Ivy league college) and then, as the article mentions, had kids and spent the rest of their lives changing diapers and wiping noses.

    The ones who plan their families, also spend time educating their kids on a one-to-one basis, which teachers with large classes don’t have time to do. – But the ones dominated by religion, whose preoccupation is in roles of breeding large numbers of believers, do waste a great deal of their education and potential!

    With flexi-time working and part-time working arrangements, along with on-line communications, there is now much more opportunity to make use of the right types of educational skills and fit them around family life.

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  • Laurie

    A difficult social transition but what’s the alternative?

    Exactly! Child-rearing is a full time job. Careers are full time jobs. At some point, the dialogue needs to become national, and social norms are going to have to veer wildly.

    Falwells will blame the resulting confusion on lack of prayer in schools, of course, but eventually even the most stalwart conservative will have to concede that Mrs. Cleaver has left the kitchen, never to return.

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  • But was funny because the audience understood he was not being injured or seriously hurt.

    No, no no. That is not why it was funny. Seeing someone fall or hit and not really hurt is not funny. That’s a lame explanation. Wrong! Is this groupthink? Or can I say it’s wrong?

    I had some points about Keaton and some points about the election. Gone. Infuriating! Maybe I forgot to post. Ah, it doesn’t matter. Whatever…

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  • A question for all or no one to consider:

    “I can resist everything except temptation.” (Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan)

    Now why is that funny?

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  • Dan,

    Some posts have gone without trace for me also. I suspect I click delete on an edit.

    We have hugely metaphorical brains from early cross-wiring from 0 to 18 months is one idea. We use the same error detection processes for abstractions of pratt falls.

    Paradoxes are carpets pulled from under expectations. Beautifully constructed certainly adds to the “finish”, a sort of satisfaction to top it off

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  • Hi, Phil

    “Hugely metaphorical brains.”

    I wish I could employ some of that – more and consciously – in my writing.

    “Paradoxes are carpets pulled from under expectations.” – Phil R.

    “…the source of the ludicrous is always the paradoxical, and therefore unexpected,…” – Arthur S.

    I think he was on to something!

    I’m glad that comment is gone.

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  • I think our Mr. S would have adored neuro-psychology, not least for the smug satisfactions it would have afforded him.

    I think the glimpses it can give as to why we are not simply, smoothly inferential and flatly Vulcan but complex and confounding, perverse and poetic, wearing our deep history in our heads and in our cultures, would give him the richest of new pastures.

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  • What exactly is she suggesting we do? I think she’s a little nuts. She likes Trump’s “paradigm shift”? Trump is just pandering to the haters. She sounds like an extremist, but now her radicalism is directed at “radical Islam”. I’ve always suspected that she is a very damaged person. Very intelligent, and brave, but not all there. I used to hear her talking about Muslims in such a distrustful or paranoid and condemnatory way and remember being appalled. I thought she got better.

    She wants to join forces with Trump? Great. And she says “fascism and communism” like they’re the same. Not the same. I hate that!

    Interesting how extremists meet.

    Please correct me if you think I am off base.

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  • Dan

    My friend, you are off base here. She’s not nuts, just very brave.

    This paper explains in simple direct terms what is going on in the Muslim community. This paper was sent to me by an extremely moderate Muslim Algerian friend who is, like me, a great fan of AHA’s work. I depend on these super moderate Muslims to read her work and tell me if there are any inconsistencies with the religious dogma and also if anything rings untrue with the state of the community in general. When I finished reading that paper last night I emailed back to him that I couldn’t come up with a single criticism on any front. He agrees. He also said the same thing about her books. I agree.

    What exactly is she suggesting we do?

    The paper states clearly what she recommends, listed out in bullet points.

    Just because it’s Trump and his paradigm shift mentioned there, don’t freak out too quickly. Remember that a broken clock is correct two times/day. Here is where the Atheist community can really serve well…no special privilege to religion! She clearly differentiates between Muslims – Islam – Islamism and explains the role of moderates.

    Remember that one of the criticisms that the right hurls at us liberals is that we are slaves of political correctness and refuse to face facts and difficult truths and whitewash the bad behavior of certain groups because we are afraid of appearing to be racists or anti-Semites or sexists. The Atheist Muslims or let’s say super moderate Muslims are on the front lines of this battle to reform Islam and bring that community into the modern era.

    We can’t deal with any problem without having a correct assessment of what’s going on with it first. She is speaking truth to power – the current policy is ineffective and needs total renovation. This is her explanation of how we got here and what to do about it.

    And she says “fascism and communism” like they’re the same. Not the same. I hate that!

    Where is this?

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  • Dan #102
    Nov 15, 2017 at 8:55 am

    And she says “fascism and communism” like they’re the same.
    Not the same. I hate that!

    I think you could cherry-pick instances where regimes were very similar in the treatment of citizens! – (Concentration camps – Gulags?)

    Interesting how extremists meet.

    with attitudes going full circle from right to left via extremism!

    On previous threads I have pointed out the futility of pretexts for war, by citing the example of Poland!

    Britain entered WW2 on the pretext of “saving the Poles from Hitler” – but at the end of the war, had no hesitation in “handing them over to Stalin”!

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  • Laurie,

    A hasty comment on my part.

    I only read what was available. What bullet points? A broken clock is right twice. An imprecise analogy. Trump is a bigot and a panderer and I look askance at anyone that would seek to ally themselves with him on any issue.

    Oh! I see you a PDF. I missed that.

    Fascism and communism. I googled her and heard her say that in a video. I give you my word. Can’t find it now.

    Sorry. I guess I overreacted. Not nuts. But her support of Trump on this issue seems opportunistic and misguided.

    Equating communism and fascism is sheer ignorance. Nothing else.

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  • Dan

    Yes, yes, fascism and communism – two things we don’t want. Now move on to the real meat of that paper.

    Forget about asshole Trump. This is policy for the State Dept and Homeland security no matter who the F is President.

    Running to Ikea for some hours. Back later.

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  • Laurie

    But that task of reform can only be carried out by Muslims. Happily, there is a growing number of reformist Muslims. Part of the Trump administration’s strategy must be to support and empower them.

    Unsurprisingly, this has proved not to be the case.

    One thing that does need to be the case is for Americans to become much more aware of those Muslim reformists. Sadly Al Jazeera’s broadcast venture in the US recently folded, though it always has an internet presence. Unloved in the USA (Bush wanted to bomb its Doha headquarters) and it is constantly reviled by politicians taking Saudi cash or orders though it always aligns itself with reformists and modernisers. This Quatar funded news channel helped shape the Arab Spring, supports reformers like Iranian President Rouhani, provides honest news to the bulk of Palestinians, who love it. It daily demonstrates a prodigious taste for truth and reform amongst Muslims. Saudi’s failed plan to silence it with the Blockade of Qatar, has probably forced its Plan B into operation (removing some aspects of female oppression for the sea change to come).

    Trump is a greedy fuckwit and will not move in the direction Hirsi Ali would wish, but will follow his wallet.

    Ali’s wish was political in its intent, probably knowing Trump would not make her astute judgment.

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  • Dan #105
    Nov 15, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Equating communism and fascism is sheer ignorance. Nothing else.

    I think in terms of ideologies, they have serious differences, but in practicalities and regimes, there are close run analogies, with both pretending to be the people’s friend when seeking initial support, but reverting to elitist tyranny once in power!

    If you are having difficulty with the Hitler – Stalin parallel methodologies, you could also look at Putin’s ex- corrupt communist regime KGB operatives, who are now capitalist oligarchs!

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  • Laurie

    I haven’t read the PDF yet but just a concern on this word Dawha and the obsession with words in general. Religion is the problem and looking at some of the comments at the bottom of your link gives me an idea that the picking out of certain words or trying to find that just one thing is not the way to go.

    The word Dava in Turkish has the same origin but it just means taking someone to court. No reformation needed but a secular country (don’t know for how much longer mind you) can use the same word but eventually the old meaning is forgotten.

    In general terms it is missionary work and sounds as annoying as jehovah’s witnesses trying to persuade you at every opportunity. One commenter already is saying it is the first step to jihad when that is quite obviously partially true.

    Sorry, a bit rushed but hope I made my point?

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  • Yes, Olgun, your concern is noted. This word dawa has a big idea behind it. There are plenty of words in Arabic that I’ll never get quite right no matter how hard I try. The word baraka comes to mind. It’s a powerful word all tangled up with spiritual ideas and although I understand it when I hear it I’d never dare to use it myself because it has too many deep layers of meaning and it’s dark and mystical.

    But I think we can get a good grip on dawa. I do defer to AHA for a much better explanation than I can provide. Last night when I finished reading the paper I said to my husband, “The word dawa, what does it mean?” First of all, there’s the Maghreb dialect and I’m never sure which words are the same as those in Middle Eastern Arabic. He said, “It means preaching”. That’s just a minimal definition. It’s more aggressive than preaching. Missionary work, yes, but as AHA explains, it can go as far as stepping over the line into jihad. I try to think of how the fundamentalist Christians work this too. What would Christian dawa look like? The annoying right to lifers who never miss an opportunity to start yapping away about sinners killing unborn babies etc. But jihad would be standing in front of the abortion clinic screaming at patients and forcing them to look at pictures of destroyed fetuses, etc. Jihad is much more confrontational than dawa even though dawa is bad enough already.

    It took me about a half hour to read the paper. Let me know if she explains dawa sufficiently in your opinion.

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  • Alan,

    Yes, there have been people who call themselves communists who have been as bad or worse than fascists. But I just find it annoying when people say “fascist and communism” or use the terms interchangeably. They are dumb right wing idiots usually or lazy or just plain ignorant. Leveling like that is odious. They should read more.

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  • Dan #112
    Nov 15, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    They are dumb right wing idiots usually or lazy or just plain ignorant. Leveling like that is odious. They should read more.

    I have certainly encountered some who are.
    They are the same sort of ignoramuses who spout term’s such as “Democrat science” or “atheist science”, as if scientific facts or evidence had political or religious labels, and people simply choose what they would like to believe according to their preconceptive biases!

    Of course such people’s own thinking, is based on preconceptive biases, spoon-fed propaganda, “alternative facts”, and creatively re-written simplistic history!

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  • I’m not overly happy with the report/document.

    The transition into suppressing political views seems entirely McCarthyist riding on a jingoist sentiment. I’m sure my own prescriptions for the USA might get roped in next. I think her proposals are anti-American. Worse, suppression of ideologies rather than defeating them through joining political battle can backfire badly.

    She has made progress recognising the growing extent and power of moderate Muslims, but she has failed to recognise that they are the only moral key, and that this is a long game to be won by calm steadiness and simply taking the moral high road. McCarthyist panic set along aside the actual rather miniscule Homeland risk will make the government appear to be lurching further to the right in thought policing.

    Incitement to violence is an easy and clear mandate for police intervention.

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  • I wasn’t altogether happy with the document either, Phil – and felt that way before I even read it. The invocation of Trump’s name (“Mr. Trump” she calls him), and reference to his “new strategy” sent a signal to my intuitive brain.

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  • The invocation of Trump’s name (“Mr. Trump” she calls him), and
    reference to his “new strategy” sent a signal to my intuitive brain.

    Haha! Dan, I believe the word you’re looking for is ‘trigger.’ 😉

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  • I thought the Trump thing was Ayan being politically astute.

    I never endorsed her views after Fitna. I understood her anger but could never feel that much myself. Once I found Afghan mujihadeen Ahmad Shah Massoud, his feminist and democratic views mixed in with a sufi like religiosity and his great popularity I started to notice liberal muslims everywhere. The most notable differentiator was education.

    I was delighted by her encounters with Maajid Nawaz. Her acknowledgement of moderates and their power was spot on.

    This document as an analysis of why Islamism and its leaders exist and why masses follow and endorse them, seemed rather partial and unrevealing of numerous other lines of access and manipulation.

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  • Laurie,

    On the Mosque radicalisation. Clever educated people use political and religious movements rather than are subjected to them. The modus operandus of Bullies at the Gate is almost tradition.

    Al Jazeera bringing this stuff out of the shadows and into a fuller public view would allow political engagement. Moderate Muslims have nowhere to go with their fears at present.

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  • Vicki,

    Are you the Iceman Cometh Vicki? (kidding)

    Trump and the Republicans are like villainous characters in a play or a novel, only it’s real. Life imitates art; art imitates life. (And life is already starting to resemble a dystopian sci-fi novel.)

    Although Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to disclose his taxes (hmm, why could that be?), NBC News commissioned an analysis of Trump’s leaked 2005 tax returns and found that Trump and his heirs could stand to save over a BILLION DOLLARS if the GOP’s plan to overhaul the tax system goes through. This includes over $20 million in savings just for Trump himself. Not that that is why he is pushing it or anything—I mean, just look at his public statements, like in September, when a reporter asked if Trump would benefit from this plan:

    “No, I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit,” Trump said. “In fact, very very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

    “This is tax reform for the Koch brothers and the other billionaires in the country. This is a disaster for the working families of America,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

    Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who has a seat on the House Budget Committee, had tried to get an amendment inserted into the House budget bill that would prohibit any of the tax benefits in the tax bill from going to the top one percent. Needless to say, that amendment was blocked. Jayapal believes that congressional Republicans have a clear agenda.

    “Number one on their agenda is a massive transfer of wealth. Number two, drive up the deficit. Number three, make sure they can cut spending even more than they are proposing,” she said. On that latter point, several conservative Republicans have been openly promising even harsher cuts in the programs poor and working-class Americans depend on for support in next year’s budget discussions.

    As for the argument that the tax breaks the Republicans are proposing for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations will unleash a wave of economic growth that will benefit ordinary Americans, a chorus of voices are pointing out how history debunks that claim.

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  • Dan #120
    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    As for the argument that the tax breaks the Republicans are proposing for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations will unleash a wave of economic growth that will benefit ordinary Americans,
    a chorus of voices are pointing out how history debunks that claim.

    Ah! But the impoverished Trump supporters of the rust belts, and hick farms, don’t read history or do figures!

    They just wait to be fed “alternative facts” in propaganda rag headlines and trash broadcasts from a hired chorus of sponsored stooges!

    You can be fairly sure that the propagandists will be anticipating the impoverishments of the gullible, and inventing scapegoats and plausible assertions, as to why the consequences of tax-breaks and service cuts, are someone else’s fault, and “totally unrelated” to their “beneficial” policies!
    (A bit like how intensified storms, floods, droughts, and wild-fires, are “unrelated” to CO2 emissions and climate change! – and how the US is dependent on reviving the coal industry to prevent renewable energy projects “ruining the economy”! 🙂 )

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  • Laurie #111

    I have read the PDF in part but didn’t think it necessary to read on to be honest. Phils concerns in #114 are mine too. No wonder she went to Trump with it. It seems she needs his radicalism.

    Dawa, Dawah, Da’wah seems to have its Jewish equivalent and canon law in christianity also. No one would argue that indoctrination is the first step to radicalisation but this PDF uses it dubiously for impact IMHO!

    The christian equivalent to a jihadist, in muslim minds, is the guy in uniform patrolling the streets in his country, armed to the teeth.

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  • Right. Interesting feedback on that paper.

    I have another busy day and won’t have time to skim back through the paper, but just quickly, seems like you guys think that the current incitement laws are sufficient? AHA feels a greater urgency. Could it be possible that the Muslim moderates and apostates are more willing to suppress constitutional rights just a bit if the tradeoff would be a strong pushback against the fundamentalists who want to eliminate those rights altogether? We have the Patriot act here in US. The Muslim immigrants here in the West are well aware of what their fundamentalists are aiming at. All of the Algerians here know first hand how this horror show goes down. The Algerian government, absurd and corrupt as it is, did smash the fundamentalist insurgency there, but just barely. AHA has also been the victim of these mental cases and I think her fear of them shows.

    We know for sure that fundamentalists want “One vote one time” (because they say it in public) and are honest about all of their intentions to eliminate the constitutional rights that we count on here. Maybe the moderates are willing to surrender some of those rights and protections if it means strongly pushing back the rabid dangerous amongst us all. The moderate and apostate Muslims that I know here have all made statements about this problem that are far more radical than anything that comes into my own head. Statements about streets full of praying people on their knees, faith schools, imams encouraging death to Jews, hoards of refugees and the bad behavior of some of them, etc – statements of deportation, arrest, etc. Not saying I agree, just they leave me blinking.

    This is definitely a long game we’re playing with the whole betterment strategy, which I totally support. But our short term game is feeble. There is no slow down in the indoctrination situation. Mosques (as I’ve said here several times in the past) are on the front lines of recruiting.

    ugh. gotta run. later.

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  • Hi, Alf.

    Hope things are good.

    Democritus, he da man! My first intellectual hero. I rate him far more highly than any of the other ancient Greek philosophers. His metaphysics of substance (rather than abstraction) made the world tractable. After 2400 years his legacy is a universe full of astonishing discoveries and masterings. The legacy of all the others (outside of maths and logic) still has nothing of any certainty, nor will it ever.

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  • Dan #129
    Nov 18, 2017 at 11:28 am

    I for one cannot imagine what pure matter could possibly be like.
    And if there is pure matter
    I should think that it would be capable of being described.
    Is it?

    Yep! – Atoms and molecules, have been described!

    A pure element or compound contains only one substance, with no other substances mixed in.
    Impure materials may be mixtures of elements, mixtures of compounds, or mixtures of elements and compounds.

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  • Dan, #129

    Alan’s post #129/130 perfectly describes matter and its modes of distinction.

    My intention was to talk about a wider scheme of substance which included fermions, particles which go to make up matter (i.e. they have mass and size), and bosons, the force carrying particles (which don’t).

    Try and read though this once, at least, if only to get a feel for this classification of all substance.

    Note along the way two instances of metaphysical entities losing that status to become physics.

    Quarks were at first considered an explanatory device to explain the properties of baryons and mesons until the lumpy nature of neutrons was observed showing them to be made up of smaller components. We could point to them in the lab.

    Of those”conceptual bosons”, one has recently been found and characterised. We can (since this table was produced) now point to the Higgs too.

    Imagining this new stuff is beyond metaphor so beyond language. It is not however beyond mathematical description which is sufficiently mastered to allow us to make accurate predictions about such substance, in some cases manifest in phenomena. Those not trained must stop and stay behind, settling for inadequate accounts.

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  • phil rimmer #130
    Nov 18, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Dan, #129

    Alan’s post #129/130 perfectly describes matter and its modes of distinction.

    Coming from an education background, I try to target information at a readable level for the person I am replying to. (although I think Dan has since deleted his #129 comment)

    This one was primarily written for you, but with a wiki link at the end, for those requiring a simpler explanation.

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  • (although I think Dan has since deleted his #129 comment)

    No, we deleted that comment because it struck us as heading back off in the direction of the interminable ‘thing in itself’ topic, which has been done to death and we, at least, are heartily sick of.

    The mods

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  • Mods,

    It takes two to tango, and as the other tangoer I understand your desires here. I shall make a point of not allowing our endless repeat of those earlier discussions, but will seek to move us on to new areas or stop.

    Let me make a plea for philosophy, though. It very much falls under the the category of reason and most of the great philosophers stand with us. More so than ever now, with Grayling, Dennett, Baggini, De Botton, Churchland, Popper, Russell…

    Kant: The Death of Dogma is the Birth of Morality.

    But, the thing in itself? Gottit.

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  • Laurie,

    But our short term game is feeble. There is no slow down in the indoctrination situation. Mosques (as I’ve said here several times in the past) are on the front lines of recruiting.

    Having more often and detailed accounts of what is going on in mosques is surely part of a solution?

    I wonder, if a full blown Al Jazeera operation is not viable in the USA, perhaps one of the other channels could lease some airtime to a reduced US Al Jazeera presence? A bit like a department store. A mix of their superb world coverage and local news from a small local contingent of reporters in the US with tech support from London or Doha.

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  • Thanks for that assurance, Phil.

    Philosophy is not off-limits altogether (though the %£^!* thing in itself now is), but we are aware of a number of former users who lost interest in the site when it started feeling as if it had become dominated by philosophy. And that’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to us. As an occasional topic, no problem. But the way it has dominated discussion after discussion after discussion over the last couple of years – it’s not what we do this for, and it’s become too much.

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  • Sorry, everyone – owing to a technical issue earlier, the server team has had to restore a backup from several days ago, which means that any comments posted since then will unfortunately have been lost. Apologies again.

    The mods.

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  • I think we can all fill in the gaps since the last system restore…let me know if I’m missing anything.

    Some people posted things. Other people replied to those posts. The posters responded, the repliers responded(sometimes orange letters were used) Dan won’t get an animal because they might consume him, Phil has an idea that involves Scarlett Johnassen wearing Neanderthal eyebrows and I was nearly shot by a nice old lady today for breathing out my cocktail on her.

    Moving on!

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  • Moderator #136
    Nov 22, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Sorry, everyone – owing to a technical issue earlier, the server team has had to restore a backup from several days ago, which means that any comments posted since then will unfortunately have been lost. Apologies again.

    While various comments and threads have have been lost and I cannot recall many details, I have restored some of the links which were associated with those comments.

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  • Kellyanne Conway broke the law, violated the Hatch Act. She endorsed Moore yesterday. Not supposed to endorse candidates. She should be fired. You can’t work in the White House in the Executive branch and endorse candidates unless you’re the President or VP.

    They won’t fire her, because they want to undermine the system and test the limits of what they can do and get away with.

    The Hatch Act of 1939, officially An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, is a United States federal law whose main provision prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials of that branch, from engaging in certain forms of political activity…

    The 1939 Act forbids the intimidation or bribery of voters and restricts political campaign activities by federal employees.

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  • Dan

    I wasn’t aware of the Hatch Act until Maddow explained it on her show last night. And then, did you see Richard Painter’s explanation? Wow. Ok, so let’s see what will come of this. (not overly optimistic don’t even waste the energy to explain it.) Ten thousand ethical violations already and nothing done about it. Depressing.

    I skipped Thanksgiving. Can’t be in the middle of Trump supporters. Can’t do it.

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  • We are all “in the middle” of Trump supporters (and Trumpism). They’re all around us. Maybe not in our own homes but they are all around us.

    CNN and MSNBC is becoming intolerable. They cover everything that schmuck Trump says and they have these stupid debates and panels. Why? $$$ That’s why. I like Maddow et al. but the commercials! It’s insane! Right, Laurie? We’re the same age; was it ever this bad? They have 5 minutes of ads, then Rachel says something for a second, and then more adds!

    Frank Rich wrote a bleak article. He predicts that this is only the beginning. Don’t feel like posting it. You can look it up.

    I saw Painter. He was good. He looked pissed off.

    Q for anyone: I know someone who is a Trump supporter; he said that Obama weakened the military and that Trump is strengthening the military. And that is why he feels justified in having voted for him. I want to put this indoctrinated guy (who I’ve known for over 20 years and who is actually a friend) in his place. Why is he wrong? (I’ll “put him in his place” nicely by presenting facts. I don’t want to put anyone down.)

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  • Dan #147
    Nov 24, 2017 at 12:22 am

    We are all “in the middle” of Trump supporters (and Trumpism). They’re all around us. Maybe not in our own homes but they are all around us.

    In the UK, Channel 4 TV is running a documentary series on Trump which has various informed people commenting on his history and his lying!
    Episode 3

    It’s the 1990s. Donald’s wife Ivana wants a vast divorce settlement, and he’s on the verge on bankruptcy. But he starts to turn things around, and publishes another book: The Art of the Comeback…
    First shown: 23 Nov 2017

    I don’t know if US channels are showing it!

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  • Dan #147

    Q for anyone: I know someone who is a Trump supporter; he said that
    Obama weakened the military and that Trump is strengthening the
    military. And that is why he feels justified in having voted for him

    I think it is too soon to assess Trump’s effect on the military, although he has shown a willingness to pump big bucks into it, as well as turn a blind eye to humanitarian infractions. That doesn’t necessarily equate to strength, but only time will tell.

    If it helps, Clinton got the same blow back when he left office: Republicans blamed him for weakening the military and our position on the world stage. Those accusations still float around among Trump’s core, mainly because they (his base) are notorious for cherry-picking and ignoring, well, the truth.

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  • Vicki #149
    Nov 24, 2017 at 5:47 am

    I think it is too soon to assess Trump’s effect on the military, although he has shown a willingness to pump big bucks into it, as well as turn a blind eye to humanitarian infractions. That doesn’t necessarily equate to strength, but only time will tell.

    I agree! Throwing money at something to gain media generated applause from a base with two-figure IQs, is probably NOT strengthening its effectiveness.

    In fact Trump’s aggressive “brute-force and ignorance” approach, and his ineptitude at diplomacy, is probably going to generate wasteful demands on the military, which could otherwise have been avoided!

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  • Who the hell thinks the American military is weakened? What these Republicans are preaching to their choirs is based on the reality of the changing scenarios of war and state aggression that we are faced with now. Why would we need a thousand new tanks when the enemy drives trucks into innocent bystanders? What good is a big new gun against the massively effective Hezbollah that is woven into the general population and enjoys a formidable sponsor?

    Dan, I think these old codgers believe that we need a massive standing army and a thousand new nukes so we can bully Europe and invade the weak little countries and give every military career guy another shiny medal pinned to his chest. The Fascists love a military parade with jets booming overhead and tanks clattering by. Loyalty, Patriotism, American exceptionalism. Like Phil said somewhere; “psychopaths and sexually blocked” assholes.

    My dad was a career Raytheon man. (defense hardware). That company employs 63,000 (2016). Every time that company scores a contract to manufacture a collection of missiles the stock goes up and all those employees breath a sigh of relief because their jobs are safe. This is just ONE defense contractor.

    One of the top google choices I just saw was “Raytheon – Making the World a Safer Place.

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  • LaurieB #151
    Nov 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Why would we need a thousand new tanks when the enemy drives trucks into innocent bystanders? What good is a big new gun against the massively effective Hezbollah that is woven into the general population and enjoys a formidable sponsor?

    I think, if there is one thing which is evident from Trump watching, it is that on any issue, he will either get it perversely backwards, or be totally irrelevant, so (as with the environment), the chances of him accurately targeting a real issue and effectively directing resources, is approximately nil.

    In the absence of competent advisors, he may of course get something right by way of a random accident, but that will be too isolated an event to make much positive difference to the big picture.

    He does however, have a talent for generating disputes , divisions, and outrage!

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  • LaurieB #151
    Nov 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Who the hell thinks the American military is weakened? What these Republicans are preaching to their choirs is based on the reality of the changing scenarios of war and state aggression that we are faced with now.
    Why would we need a thousand new tanks when the enemy drives trucks into innocent bystanders?

    For anyone who had doubts about the US bringing chaos and war in attempts to destabilise other states, the supplies of weapons are still being used to manipulate civil wars!

    The US is to stop supplying arms to the Syrian Kurdish militia the YPG, Turkey has said.

    Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said President Donald Trump had made the promise in a phone call to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Turkey has long complained about US support for the group.

    Washington has viewed the YPG as a key player in the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS), but Ankara brands the group’s fighters as terrorists.

    Turkey says the YPG is as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group it has been fighting for decades in south-eastern Turkey.

    The US, however, has seen the YPG as distinct from the PKK.
    In May it announced it would supply arms to the Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which were poised to drive IS from its stronghold of Raqqa. It had previously armed only Arab elements of the SDF.

    “President Trump instructed [his generals] in a very open way that the YPG will no longer be given weapons,” Mr Cavusoglu was quoted as saying in the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.

    He said Mr Trump gave his assurances after President Erdogan reiterated his concern over the continued supply of weapons and armoured vehicles to the YPG.

    Turkey feared the weapons would end up in the hands of fighters intent on creating an independent Kurdish state.

    The Pentagon is likely reassessing its needs in Syria as the fight against IS has waned in recent months. But whatever adjustments are being made, it is clear the US military has no plans to leave the war-torn country. It has been revealed that about 2,000 US troops are now based there – a significant increase since the Obama administration.

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  • Yes, I shouldn’t even be discussing “politics” with a Trump supporter – friend or not. It’s like talking to a wall. Pathetic.

    Btw, Trump is going to be hiring, or has hired, another operative. His choice to lead the dept of consumer affairs is to consumer protection what Pruitt is to environmental protection. He wants to roll back Dodd-Frank, etc. “All of these regulations…Gotta get ride of all these here regulations…” And Trump wants to end the temporary citizenship (TPS, started by Obama) of the Haitian refugees and send them all back this year. Cruel and racist.
    And the Republicans are supporting a terrible tax proposal that will favor the rich at the expense of everyone else. And Moore will win. And the CHIP program will be phased out. States prepare to shut down children’s health programs if Congress doesn’t act.

    The Republican Party has been, and is now, more than ever, a terrorist organization. We have been attacked but how many see it that way? We are under attack!

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  • Phil, what is the significance of the Johannson pic? A reasonable question. I asked that yesterday, adding that I don’t care for her as an actress, and someone looking on didn’t like me questioning this person’s acting ability and deleted it. Designed to annoy me, perhaps. Perhaps not.

    And the site is infected. I get a “like” immediately upon posting a comment. Not a big deal but not good either.

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  • Hi Dan

    Are you old enough to remember the 60s? The riots, the protests, the arrests, the tear gas…

    Or (and I know none of us are this old) how about when France fell in 1940? And the communists became entrenched in Russia and China, and the entire world was in upheaval? What must that have been like? I would have guessed it was the end of times.

    I think you see where I’m going with this. Yeah, we have every right to be discouraged, but who knows how it’s all going to play out? It looks like Flynn is turning state’s witness, and there are more than 2.5 million signatures on the impeach petition–I heard it was advertised in Times Square.

    Anyway, my advice is to step away from the news feeds for awhile. Call your mother.

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  • Dan

    what is the significance of the Johannson pic?

    Part of an exchange with eric on a putative novel by RD to be entitled Lucie.

    The exchange is now gone, which pleases me because I think I’d like to write the novel myself.

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  • The 60s were great. I was a young child then. Those days are gone.

    Yes, everything is going to get better. So they say, and keep saying. And yet it hasn’t gotten better. France fell? I had no idea. When was that? 1940? Very sad. Yes. The communists? Entrenched in China? Oh, that makes me feel better. We’re doing great.

    The “it” has already happened. We are already in a state of shambles. Pruitt is deregulating everything. Those Haitians will suffer, are suffering. Those kids without insurance will die. The lies and atrocities are happening now. Impeach who? Trump? Then we will get someone worse: Pence; and then maybe Bannon, or Moore, perhaps. President Moore. There is no bottom. Just misery upon misery. And everything is all relative. The tax plan is a lie and a disgrace. I have no reason to feel hopeful. Trump’s election was a cataclysm. “It” has already happened and we are all right in the middle. The Trump supporters are intransigent and will probably grow in number, as the propaganda spreads like a virus.

    I should feel happy because of Flynn? The Democrats and few remaining so-called moderate Republicans are, on the whole, unable to influence anything, are weak, ambitious and ineffectual. No one is protesting. And if they are it is not getting coverage. The media is more interested in gossip. And they love Trump. He is their greatest gift.

    Phil, why Johannson? What is her pic doing there? It irritates me. It makes no sense. (I better lie down.)

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  • An interesting article on just how effective Sessions has been in reshaping the justice dept to conform with his personal hard line Nationalist views. Meanwhile the media has us all in a frenzy over the Trump Russia Probe. Link below – very scary stuff.

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    Another horrific move!

    As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest such corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwidth. Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet.

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  • Dan, I am very much disturbed by the net neutrality situation.
    Like all big changes, if there is enough action, there will be a reaction.
    This is where the consumers will eventually win. We are not the one percent.
    I’m gonna be the dog watching the other dogs chase cars again.
    They will eventually catch it.

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  • “Like all big changes, if there is enough action, there will be a reaction.”

    I hope so.

    Sorry I’ve been such a downer.

    Nobody likes a Danny Downer.

    Get it? Debbie Downer? Hee-hee

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  • The nation, I say, is under attack! Trump is a monster. And he is killing everything in the name of short term profit and in order to enrich himself and others like him. He is a very destructive cruel man and this country is in deep trouble. Deep. Deep. Trouble. Two more stories. Read it and weep.

    Mother Jones:

    Washington remains fairly quiet over the Thanksgiving weekend, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—the financial watchdog agency championed by Wall Street critic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and loathed by some Republicans—is in the middle of a major power struggle triggered by President Trump.

    . . . But on Friday, the Trump administration appointed its own acting director anyway. The administration announced that one of the CFPB’s most vocal foes, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, will serve as the acting head of the CFPB until a permanent replacement is found and confirmed by the Senate. (When Mulvaney’s name was first floated, Warren described the possibility in a tweet as a “giant middle finger to consumers.”) Mulvaney will also keep his job as White House budget director.. .

    The President looks forward to seeing Director Mulvaney take a common sense approach to leading the CFPB’s dedicated staff,” the White House said in a press release, “an approach that will empower consumers to make their own financial decisions.”

    And now our public lands will be raped and destroyed.

    From The Nation:

    One day in Mid-March, James Cason, the associate deputy secretary at the Department of the Interior, convened an impromptu meeting of the senior staff of the Bureau of Land Management. Cason, whose office is on the sixth floor, rarely wandered the halls, and some career civil servants still had never met him. A soft-spoken and unassuming man, Cason has cycled in and out of Republican administrations since the early 1980s and has largely avoided public attention. But people who have worked with him know him as a highly effective administrator and a disciple of some of the department’s most notorious anti-environment leaders in previous years—a “hatchet man,” in the words of one former DOI employee who worked with him during the George W. Bush administration.

    About 30 employees were ushered into a conference room, where Cason announced that Kristin Bail, acting director of the BLM [US Bureau of Land Management], would be replaced by Mike Nedd. The move itself wasn’t all that surprising: Bail, who came from a conservation background, had been appointed in the final days of the Obama administration to serve in a temporary capacity; Nedd, who had been assistant director for energy, minerals, and realty management since 2007, was viewed as better positioned to implement the new administration’s pro-industry agenda.

    But the way Cason handled the meeting sent a stark message. According to two people who were present, he delivered what appeared to be hastily prepared remarks thanking Bail for her service but telling her that she was no longer needed in the position. One employee, who has since left the DOI, said it was unclear whether Bail had been told beforehand of her demotion. “It was one of the most awkward, disrespectful things I’ve ever seen,” the former employee said. The spectacle amounted to a kind of public dismissal—and a warning shot. The meeting ended as abruptly as it had begun, with employees left staring at their seats. By the end of the day, Bail was carrying her things out of her office in a box and looking for another place to sit.

    Bail’s transfer was the opening salvo in an unprecedented restructuring of the DOI. Three months later, in what some department staffers now call the “Thursday-night massacre,” Cason sent memos to more than two dozen of the DOI’s highest-ranking civil servants informing them of reassignments; they had 15 days to accept the new positions or retire. The Office of the Inspector General is currently investigating how the transfers were determined; some employees believe they were designed to push out long-serving staff as part of a department-wide purge, and that climate scientists in particular were targeted.

    Cason, who once described himself as the department’s “regulatory czar,” has also overseen the dismantling of rules governing energy development on public lands. The DOI is poised to open up millions of acres to drilling and mining—from Utah’s red-rock country to the frigid, perilous waters off Alaska’s coast—while stripping away basic environmental protections and reducing transparency. Across the Trump administration, the new mantra is “energy dominance”—a vision of the world in which the United States will amplify its influence with a dramatic expansion of oil, gas, and coal production, whatever the environmental costs.

    The DOI is poised to open up millions of acres to drilling and mining, from Utah’s red-rock country to Alaska’s frigid coastal waters. […]

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  • Disgusting.

    At a Monday event honoring the Native American Code Talkers, President Trump revived one of his favorite lines of attack against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., questioning her claim that she’s part Native American and calling her “Pocahontas.”

    “You were here long before any of us were here — although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago,” Trump said from a podium inside the Oval Office, where he was flanked by Navajo Code Talkers. “They call her ‘Pocahontas.’ But you know what, I like you, because you are special.”

    Trump made his remarks standing beneath a portrait of Andrew Jackson, whose military campaigns against Native American tribes in the early 1800s earned him the nickname “Indian Killer.”

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  • Dan #168
    Nov 28, 2017 at 2:18 am

    Trump made his remarks standing beneath a portrait of Andrew Jackson, whose military campaigns against Native American tribes in the early 1800s earned him the nickname “Indian Killer.”

    Some, whose geography is a bit shaky, never did catch on to the fact that contrary to rumour, Columbus did NOT discover a western route to India! 🙂

    of his favorite lines of attack against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., questioning her claim that she’s part Native American and calling her “Pocahontas.”

    You need to remember that Trumpies learn those “alternative facts” about history and wildlife ecology from Disney cartoons, and learn archaeology and palaeontology from the Flintstones! 🙂

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  • Dan #168
    Nov 28, 2017 at 2:18 am


    At a Monday event honoring the Native American Code Talkers, President Trump revived one of his favorite lines of attack against Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., questioning her claim that she’s part Native American and calling her “Pocahontas.”

    Once again it seems there are no depths Trump won’t sink to. It’s not possible to work out what even someone as sick as he is could have been thinking making a racial joke about native Americans at a ceremony honouring them. Maybe it was just one more racist dog whistle to his racist base, maybe he is completely incapable of understanding decency and decorum or maybe it’s actually designed to keep us talking about anything other than Russia regardless of how much damage he does to his own reputation.

    The temptation is to just give up, hold our hands in the air and think about other things because to keep trying to understand Trump is so incredibly wearying and hard on our emotions. If we do that though then Trump has won. He’s bludgeoned us into apathy by dint of being so disgusting and outrageous we can’t deal with it anymore. The more foul and evil he becomes the more resolute we need to be in decrying him and defeating him at the next election. The lower he sinks the higher we must rise.

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  • Spot on, once again, A.S.

    You see how Trump has no interest in anything other than political power? Read this sick tweet below. It’s designed to manipulate the minds of his followers.

    And his followers are equally incomprehensible and perhaps, as you said, they are simply deplorable – and that’s it. It’s just too hard trying to figure them out. I have a friend who voted for Trump and would again. There is no doubt now in my mind that he is in a way no different than those kids they recruited to be storm troopers, brown shirts (the Sturmabteilung). If asked to be a good patriot by someone in Trump’s administration he would put on a uniform and start marching on the streets like a soldier (a fascist foot soldier). That’s the mentality. That’s what we’re talking about. Nothing less serious and frightening.

    “Meeting with ‘Chuck and Nancy’ today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don’t see a deal!” Trump tweeted.

    Norman Mailer, that great American novelist and critic of American life, when asked in an interview what of all things frightens him the most, replied this way: “Power without compassion – that is, no simple human understanding.”

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  • [Trump appointed] Judge Blocks Consumer Bureau Veteran’s Attempt to Stop Mulvaney Appointment

    The nation is under attack! The Republican party (led by Trump) is more like a domestic terrorist organization than a party.

    Mulvaney wants to get rid of financial regulations. That’s tantamount to corporate tyranny. Dodd-Frank helped us catch the Wells-Fargo crime.

    Without oversight another crash is almost inevitable!

    Conway violated the Hatch act, broke the law(!), by endorsing Moore. No punishment! The tax plan is a gift to the corporations, will not help the poor or the middle or working class. They will cut, cut, cut social programs…

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  • Dan #171
    Nov 28, 2017 at 2:15 pm
    Norman Mailer, that great American novelist and critic of American life, when asked in an interview what of all things frightens him the most, replied this way: “Power without compassion – that is, no simple human understanding.”

    I think we also need to add corruption to that. They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely but of course Trump was corrupt before he even got power and combined with his narcissism and sociopathy there is no limit to what harm he will happily do to people. The problem as we are now seeing though is that most of the Republicans in Congress are nearly as bad as Trump but had hidden it to a great extent in the past or at least had not been given the free reign to display it as much as Trump has let them. These after all are the people who drafted and voted for the healthcare bill which tried to take healthcare away from 24 million people and now the tax bill which just redistributes wealth to the rich. Trump is just the biggest turd on the dungheap but he’s by no means the bulk of it.

    The image that comes into my mind with Trump these days is Jabba the Hutt. A huge fat greasy blob sitting on his throne drooling, popping a live animal into his mouth every now and then, Salacious Crumb (bobblehead Pence) scampering about at his feet. I’m not sure who Leia on her chain is in this scenario though. Suggestions welcome.

    Interesting comments by Trump’s former ghostwriter Tony Schwartz that Trump is awed and frightened by black men and when frightened he lashes out at them like wounded animals do. There was a program on British tv a couple of years ago which examined racism from a brain function and evolutionary point of view. We have all evolved to spot danger and avoid it and it should be clear that people who look like you do are more likely to be ones own tribe or family and people who don’t are strangers and possibly threats. The more different they look the more likely they pose a threat. Showing people images of faces and seeing which bits of the brain lit up it was apparent that even non-racists had a very different subconscious reaction to faces of a different colour to their own. This initial reaction could then get over-ridden by higher brain functions like empathy and acclimatisation but the first thing our primal lizard brain does when a white person is shown the image of a black man is shit its little pants and get ready for fight or flight. I say black “man” because women of any race don’t inspire the fear that men do as they are not the traditional aggressors.

    I’m not at all surprised that Trump, who does not appear to have any higher brain functions, is controlled mainly by what his lizard brain keeps telling him. I also remind you that I have been saying since the campaigns started that racism was playing a much bigger part in all this than people realised for a long time.

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  • I’ve been reading about North Korea’s latest inter continental missile test this morning. Fired straight up it reached an altitude of 2,800 miles which means it has the fuel to travel 8,100 miles laterally if fired at the optimum ballistic angle of 45 degrees. In other words the entire USA is within its reach as is all of Europe and the UK. So the first weird thing is I found myself thinking “good job NK, way to go”. Trump is so vile I’m actually rooting for North Korea now. Alongside their nuclear program It’s an extraordinary achievement for a country with a GDP of only $17 billion. The smallest US state by GDP, Vermont, has twice that. Hell, it’s less than the $20 billion GDP of either Edinburgh or Glasgow in Scotland. On that basis most small cities could become independent nuclear powers if they set their minds to it.

    Anyhoo, so what if anything should anyone do about it? NK know that if they ever use such a missile they’ll be bombed into a solid sheet of radioactive glass stretching from coast to coast. Why should only the big countries in the world have nuclear weapons and try and stop anyone else from having them? NK is a sovereign nation so who are we to meddle in their affairs? I think Kim JU is actually a damn sight less insane and less dangerous than Trump. If you look at what he’s achieved with bugger all resources it’s pretty damn impressive.

    Trump has already blown over $80 million just travelling to play golf. KJU could probably finish his nuclear program with that. Trump will rant and bluster but I don’t see anything he can do. If he attacks then SK can kiss their ass goodbye when NK levels Seoul to the ground.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #174
    Nov 29, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Anyhoo, so what if anything should anyone do about it? NK know that if they ever use such a missile they’ll be bombed into a solid sheet of radioactive glass stretching from coast to coast.

    Well maybe! But China and other nearby countries would probably have a view on collateral damage to them from blast and fallout!

    Why should only the big countries in the world have nuclear weapons and try and stop anyone else from having them? NK is a sovereign nation so who are we to meddle in their affairs?

    As long as the posture of “We will bully with impunity because we have nuclear weapons”, is maintained, others will aspire to acquire them – as happened with India, Pakistan and Israel!

    I think Kim JU is actually a damn sight less insane and less dangerous than Trump. If you look at what he’s achieved with bugger all resources it’s pretty damn impressive.

    The problem with USA and much of the west is that most of the population is ignorant of history, and regularly fed their own country’s propaganda!

    Korea was partitioned and divided after WW2 so the Communist backed North and the US backed South have technically been at war ever since – with the North under constant threat of invasion by the US backed South. There has also been constant politically motivated economic sanction warfare against North Korea under various pretexts, as there has been against Cuba.

    The North Koreans are well aware of the US propensity (directly or through proxies), to invade countries whose leaders and politics the right wing do not like, and who resist colonisation, corruption, and exploitation.

    They listened to Bush’s “Axis of Evil” hype, and watched the invasions of Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and now have the “gall” to threaten to retaliate if they are attacked by US backed military!

    Trump and his propaganda fed base are simply too thick and ignorant to understand that threatening people, motivates them to defend themselves, or to prepare to back-up threats of retaliation against aggressors. As with most of his policies and appointments, “brute-force and stupidity” is the operational mode!

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  • Anyone watch the debate on taxes last night between Sanders and Cruz and with those other two bores? Cruz is truly sinister and dangerous.

    Good points, Alan.

    (I’m going to get a Kim Ju haircut.)

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  • I have found it impossible to understand what motivates the hard right in America. I cannot understand Fox News or Trump or the Republicans. Perhaps Evil is final and irreducible (like The Good), and can never be comprehended or explained…

    Mailer used to talk and write about God and the Devil contending with each other on our behalf. Is it necessary to dismiss this sort of thing in its entirety? It’s good metaphor at the very least.

    From a conversation between Norman Mailer and Michael Lennon on God …

    My understanding is that God and the Devil are often present in our actions. When we work with great energy it’s because our best motive and our worst motive—or, to put it another way, God and the Devil—are equally engaged in the outcome and so, for a period, working within us. There can be collaboration between opposites, as well as war. This collaboration can consist of certain agreements—“The rules of war will be … ” And of course, the rules can be broken. The Devil can betray God. Once in a while, God also breaks the rules—with a miracle. But my argument is that when we act with great energy, it is because God and the Devil have the same interest in the outcome. (Their differences will be settled later.) Whereas when we work with little energy, it’s because They are not only at odds but are countermanding each other’s impact upon us.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #174
    Nov 29, 2017 at 7:10 am

    I’ve been reading about North Korea’s latest inter continental missile test this morning.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the US of seeking to provoke North Korea into stepping up its nuclear missile programme.

    He rejected a call by the American envoy to the UN Security Council to sever ties with the North after its latest ballistic missile test.

    Russia argues sanctions do not work and advocates negotiations instead.

    The US has warned that North Korea’s government will be “utterly destroyed” if war breaks out.

    On Wednesday, the North tested its first missile in two months, saying the continental US was now within striking distance.

    However, defence experts have cast doubt on its ability to master the technology needed to launch a missile carrying a warhead capable of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Speaking on a visit to the Belarussian capital Minsk, Mr Lavrov asked whether America was actively seeking to destroy North Korea.

    “One gets the impression that everything has been done on purpose to make Kim Jong-un snap and carry out further inadvisable actions,” he said.

    The Americans, he said, “should explain to us all what they’re after”.

    “If they want to find a pretext for destroying North Korea, as the US envoy said at the UN Security Council, then let them say it outright and let the supreme American leadership confirm it.”

    Calling for new talks with North Korea, Mr Lavrov added: “We have already emphasised several times that the squeeze of sanctions has essentially come to an end, and that those resolutions which introduced the sanctions should have included a requirement to renew the political process, a requirement to renew talks.

    “But the Americans completely ignore this requirement and I consider this a big mistake.”

    BIG MISTAKES it seems, are a consistent Trump speciality!

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  • The Good Place

    I love that show! I didn’t have much hope for it in the beginning (appears shallow on first glance) but I read a good recommendation on a website and thought I’d give it a try. Seems silly on the face of it but you’re right, Phil, it has a deeper side that is satisfying. A moral philosopher as an ideal mate chosen for a she-rat bad person and what can we think of Tahani? I swing between pity and annoyance. That she was matched with Jasen (silent person) was perfect. The trolley episode was very amusing. Philosophy in action. The shows are short and the seasons are short but I’m all in for season 3. Hope it doesn’t take too long.

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  • @ #175 -Trump and his propaganda fed base are simply too thick and ignorant
    to understand that threatening people,
    motivates them to defend themselves, or to prepare to back-up threats of retaliation against aggressors.
    As with most of his policies and appointments, “brute-force and stupidity” is the operational mode!

    @#178 Russia argues sanctions do not work and advocates negotiations instead.

    Trump does not even listen to the “great people” he has appointed to be his advisors!

    The White House is discussing plans to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA chief Mike Pompeo, US media say.

    Mr Tillerson has been at odds with Mr Trump over foreign policy recently.

    The secretary of state was even reported to have privately described the president as a “moron”.

    They have differed in their approach to North Korea’s missile testing and Iran’s nuclear programme, among other issues.

    Two White House officials were quoted by Associated Press as saying a plan was being discussed, and unnamed government sources also spoke to the New York Times and Vanity Fair.

    Mr Pompeo would be replaced at the CIA by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, the New York Times reports.

    Reports suggest the change could take place as soon as December or in January.

    However, it is not yet clear whether Mr Trump has given final approval to the move, the NYT reports.

    Mr Trump’s disenchantment with Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of energy giant Exxon Mobil, has been rumoured for some time.

    The secretary of state has defended the multi-party deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in return for a loosening of sanctions – an agreement derided by Mr Trump.

    The secretary of state’s firing would former part of a wider national security team shake-up overseen by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, the NYT reports.

    Mr Tillerson, 65, was appointed in January and his replacement would result in one of the shortest tenures for an American secretary of state.

    His appointment was a controversial one, thanks to his close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin stemming from his work on major oil contracts in Russia.

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  • Something that I don’t think anyone in the media has commented on as regards North Korea is how important its new missile technology might become to it financially in future. Putting satellites and other hardware into orbit is big business and costs about $200 million per launch although Space-X is looking to reduce this substantially with its reuseable launch system.

    Most satellites are in low orbit only a few hundred miles up. The International Space Station is at 250 miles. NK’s latest missile test reached 2,800 miles altitude so it can clearly get high enough to take usefull payload with it.

    GDP per capita is $700 in NK. It’s $60,000 in the USA. You can get stuff done in NK for a tiny fraction of what it costs anywhere else. If Kim JU decided to go a bit mainstream and solidify his place in world affairs he could offer payload into space deals that would undercut all the current offerings and make NK an important business partner for western nations. That in turn would insulate him somewhat from the threats of blowhards like Jabba the Trump.

    A influx of foreign money plus the need to host foreign personnel would require NK to have modern medical and other facilities, hotel, food, internet etc which would have knock on benefits for NK’s own population. Before you know it NK is turning into a proper modern country.

    Let’s just look at the numbers again. There are over 2,000 satellites up there and a launch can cost $200 million. NK’s entire GDP is only $17 billion which is about 85 rocket launches at western prices. Obviously there’s no way it’s costing NK 1/85th of its GDP to test each of these launches. In fact best guess is it’s maybe $5 million or so given NK’s economic indicators. Even a few paid launches a year for other countries could transform the NK economy. Let’s say they charge $50 million a launch. That kills everyone else in the marketplace stone dead and still makes them a shit load of profit. When you don’t actually have to pay your labourforce like NK doesn’t (the people get housed and fed for free and otherwise do as they’re told) then nothing costs much to do and anything external paid for is basically profit for KJU’s coffers.

    It could well be that while Jabba the Trump destroys the USA’s standing in the world, KJU turns out to the savvy one literally launching NK into a bright new future.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #182
    Nov 30, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Something that I don’t think anyone in the media has commented on as regards North Korea is how important its new missile technology might become to it financially in future.

    I think its missile technology is fairly primitive and unreliable compared to that of many other countries.
    There are also lots of cheap second hand obsolete missiles around!

    I have put comments on this thread:-

    . . But one with links is still awaiting moderation.

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  • Really excellent points, Arkrid.

    If young master Kim remains a demented ego-maniac some (enough?) of his remaining higher ranking officials might see the merits of your argument.

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  • Laurie,

    My views, mirror yours. I was meh, then I was both hooked and delighted. You gotta love a show with the confidence to unfold so slowly.

    It took me a while to see the merits of Parks and Recreation too.

    My daughter alerted me to it. She notes Michael Schur is an atheist.

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  • Yes Phil, one of my nephews is after me to watch P&R. I’ll give that a try soon. I’m now watching
    Good Behavior with Michelle Dockery. Interesting character who struggles with morality and like
    Eleanor, is making slow incremental improvements. Both had a rough start but come to question where they are at the series present time

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    I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

    “There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

    That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

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  • The Republicans know perfectly well that tax cuts don’t raise the economy and that trickle down economics is a sham. But they don’t care. They need to give back to their mega rich donors and that’s all that matters to them.

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  • I’ve started getting emails from a group called Refuse Fascism. I thought I’d share part of the one I just received.

    Mein Trumpf Tweets Neo-Nazi Anti-Muslim Propaganda
    There Is No Innocence In Looking Away
    This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!
    by Sunsara Taylor

    On Wednesday, Donald Trump used the bully pulpit of the U.S. presidency to spread neo-Nazi anti-Muslim propaganda to the world. With three tweets, he elevated a white supremacist fascist group in England which has mobilized mosque invasions and publicly and pridefully harassed average Muslims on the street to the international stage. But that is not all. With a move straight out of the Nazi propaganda playbook, these tweets – which purported to show several groups of particular Muslims carrying out acts of brutality and religious bigotry – were used to portray all Muslims as dehumanized, barbaric enemies.

    Make no mistake: this is NOT a “distraction.” This is NOT just the president “acting crazy” or proving himself “unstable.” There is a dangerous – truly, a genocidal – message being sent.

    This is white supremacist, Judeo-Christian fascist propaganda – and it is not isolated.

    It is consistent with Trump’s declaration that “Islam hates us” and his advocacy for a Muslim registry and a complete shut-down of Muslims entering the country.

    (So yes, I have less respect for Hirsi Ali’s judgment now. Anyone who would seek to ally themselves with Trump in an effort to combat Islamic extremism, has lost their way. I was right after all.)

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  • This is our “president’s” choice for US Senate. Archie Bunker on steroids. No joke.

    Roy Moore: Sexual misconduct allegations against me are ‘completely false,’ ‘malicious’

    “They’re liberals. They don’t want conservative values,” Moore said of the people he says are trying to ruin his campaign. “They are the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender who want to change our culture. They are socialists who want to change our way of life and put man above God and the government is our God.”

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  • Dan #190
    Nov 30, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    I’ve started getting emails from a group called Refuse Fascism. I thought I’d share part of the one I just received.

    As Trump has tweeted promoting the bigoted ignorance of a small group of extreme reactionary English fascists, his bigoted stupidity is being pointed out, right across the mainstream political spectrum in the UK – in both houses of parliament! – They are also reviewing his invitation for a state visit!

    As I comment @#3 and #5 on this thread!

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