OPEN DISCUSSION – FEBRUARY 2018

156

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156 COMMENTS

  1. MODERATOR MESSAGE

    The February open discussion thread is now open.

    Please do NOT add any further comments to earlier Open Discussion threads.

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  2. Netflix

    Professor Robert Reich

    “Saving Capitalism”.

    It feels lifted out of my own head….but much better informed.

    Why don’t Americans know this stuff? Why don’t they know they’ve been mugged?

    I’m ordering the book. Has anybody read it?

    In other news,

    http://robertreich.org/post/147866112730

    and

    “Reich isn’t a Bernie-or-bust type. Hillary Clinton, he says, is the best possible president for running the system we have. But Sanders, he argues, is the only presidential candidate actually trying to change the system we have into the system we deserve.

    Reich thinks that our old models for understanding politics have been broken by rising inequality over the past few decades, and that we first need to tackle that crisis head on before we can even get to questions of policy.”

  3. Darn it. On the money all the way through even to recognising the old school Republicanism and the fight against crony capitalism. But he is too old and a little empty headed now. He was awesome when younger.

    A further help and utterly correct, but still not enough.

  4. This poses some really interesting hypotheses about the catastrophic erosion of the left in the USA. The rise of identity politics represents, it is suggested, a narrowing and increasingly selfish force that removes collective focus from the deepest roots of their common problems (women, blacks, gays, etc., etc.), these roots comprising the economic principles which fuel society….

    https://www.truthdig.com/videos/chris-hedges-charles-derber-failures-american-left-video/

  5. In Jordan Peterson’s interview on UK Channel4 highlights this point rather poignantly.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMcjxSThD54

    Newman is disastrous failing to argue Peterson offered facts.

    Newman’s proposition of identity politics urging an at face emotional plea for things being different and better disposed towards women fails against facts but is also pre-scuppered by their shared understanding of what the economic system irredeemably is. Peterson defines himself as a Classic British Liberal, a progenitor, a tad more caring, of the Classic American Libertarian.

    Rather than accepting Capitalism’s rules as rigid and that businesses must always be red in tooth and claw, one could propose support for cultivating some more ethical businesses that offer buying choices for ethical products more ethically produced, using tax incentives and investment facilitations.

    Markets are never ever free. We can try pulling other levers modestly. This is the Hedges and Derber point.

  6. Phil #2

    From Reich’s post:

    Last January, a DeMoines Register poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers
    found 91 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of Democrats
    unsatisfied or “mad as hell” about money in politics.

    I think money is at the core of the flaw in Reich’s dream of the majority rising up and taking back our country. The rich minority that rules also controls 90% of the nation’s wealth, with further enrichment on the horizon thanks to the tax bill that was rammed through.

    That buys a lot of well-oiled marketing. By the time we go to the polls, we actually feel pretty good and self-righteous about voting against our own best interests.

    He who controls the money controls the dialogue.

  7. “Drain the Swamp,” should remain the battle cry. Or

    “Let’s actually drain the Swamp!”

    Check out the Netflix for more material on purchased power.

    I think it essential to publicise things like the $800m budget from Koch Industries for the mid term propaganda.

  8. I think at this point nothing short of a grass-roots wave of protest is going to create any change.

    I’ll reserve judgement until after the mid-terms. In my mind, that will either be the turning point or the catalyst.

  9. A key element in promoting the plutocracy revolution in the American “democratic” process (the inverted commas are now necessary) was the forcing through by a conservative majority of the Citizens United federal case in 2010, which effectively took the lid off any restrictions on political expenditure by Corporations. Not surprisingly, the leading figure in the C U organisation is a right-wing activist with a long history of anti-Democrat activity, going back to the infamous ‘Willie Horton’ attack ad in 1988, and culminating in the appointment as deputy campaign manager and ongoing cheerleader for Trump.
    The CU organisation has a typically Orwellian mission statement : ” to restore the United States government to citizens’ control”, and “to reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security.”

  10. rogeroney #10
    Feb 4, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    ” to restore the United States government to citizens’ control”,

    Of course they never tell the gullibles, what THEIR definition of elitist apartheid “citizenship”, is!
    Their notion of “citizenship” seems to be the Roman model, rather than the democratic one”

    and “to reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise,

    Which translated into English: – means “a lack of enforced government regulation” and “the freedom of charlatans to con who they like, by whatever devious means they care to employ”!

  11. Vicki

    I think money is at the core of the flaw in Reich’s dream of the majority rising up and taking back our country.

    It was doomed a long time ago, the piece being dated July 2016. His current position is rather more bleak and daunted.

    The issue is not just the advertising spend which will now see corporations seize control of the of two digit IQ voting folk, but the ongoing corporate spend on lobbying elected politicians at the rate of $6m per politician.

  12. There’s much talk of a constitutional crisis if Trump fires Mueller but I’m not sure there isn’t already one happening. The Republicans are desperately trying to smear not just Mueller but Rosenstein and in fact the whole of the security services. It’s hard to believe that Congress is attacking its own FBI rather than face up to the Russian threat of democratic interference. Devin Nunes is a disgrace. His nothingburger memo has not a shred of actual evidence in it and I’m sure at 4 pages it was far too much for Trump to actually read but he’s crowing that it “totally vindicates” him.

    Call me old fashioned but I thought that siding with a foreign adversary rather than your own people was treason.

  13. Law enforcement is traditionally conservative and republican which is why the Trump and Nunes claims that the FBI is a nest of biased Democrat vipers is so utterly absurd. Hell it was Comey who probably handed Trump the election by smearing Hillary 11 days before it. However we can never underestimate the stupidity of the American electorate. I vividly recall the Bush administration managing to convince 70% of Americans that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were somehow involved in 9/11 simply by implying that despite it being patently untrue. Now it seems the constant Trump administration attacks on the FBI are having a similar effect. In a current poll more Republican voters (47%) now distrust the FBI than approve of it (38%). FBI approval is now way higher amongst Democrats and Independents than Republicans. That’s about as insane as sheep voting for wolves not shepherds.

    https://www.axios.com/gop-turns-on-fbi-survey-78c4f486-8755-4c9e-be99-a1567bd3a625.html

    Trump is steadily destroying the traditional fabric of American society and no matter how absurd his claims there’s that base of low information, gullible, paranoid, fearful, stupid voters who just gulp down all of his lies and smears. Probably the best thing that could happen in the USA right now is a recession. If the stockmarket which Trump has been crowing about tanks and unemployment rises then his support will evaporate like summer rain. That might be the only way in which an authoritarian dictatorship is avoided because Trump, with the help of sycophants like Nunes, is undoubtedly trying to pave the way for one.

  14. Arkrid

    At this point, I’m not even sure that a total financial catastrophe would convince the devoted Trump supporters. They are impervious to reason like walking zombies. So much is riding on the November elections that I feel a frantic kinetic energy building in the general public.

    This morning the two authors of this article, published in The Atlantic were interviewed on Morning Joe on MSNBC:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/03/boycott-the-gop/550907/

    The authors call for a complete boycott of the Republican party to purge the government of insidious authoritarian influence and blatant corruption. Since the decent Republicans can’t/won’t do this as their own responsibility to the citizens they represent then citizens need to take it upon themselves with the power that the constitution gives them – the vote.

    Honestly, if November doesn’t bring the required satisfaction then I can’t say that I’d blink an eye if further means are required. Bernie’s book title Our Revolution caused clucking and raised eyebrows a while back here but if Republicans (I will NEVER call them the Grand Old Party EVER!) can’t be gelded in November then revolution 2.0 Bernie style seems like a political correction as a cure for massive scale sabotage that needs to happen.

  15. Bernie’s book title Our Revolution caused clucking and raised eyebrows a while back here

    I was surprised by that and was reminded of Brian Eno’s internet post (!) from Berlin a few month’s after the fall of the Wall. Observing American and Russian kids playing, it seemed to him American kids were very keen to conform to the group and Russian kids did what they wanted and didn’t worry too much if they did it alone.

    There is a strong conformist element about not sticking out, not offending, using euphemisms, avoiding risky topics, respecting without fail the office of X or Y or (as I’m arguing right now) never disrespecting a police officer. Yes there are safe and remote places for the counter culture but it must never disturb the the culture’s core.

    I wonder if some aspects of the disgracefulness of social disgrace, speaking the unspeakable, come from the anxiety of living on the edge three mortgage payments away?

    I do urge all to have a look at Saving Capitalism, or the book or its executive summary version. There is much of Bernie in there and with a broader perspective. Reich not only dated Hilary but introduced Hil to Bill and was Bill’s head of public policy. His view, Hilary would be best for running what we had in 2016, Bernie would have been best for giving us what we deserve.

    Sensibly he gives old school Republicans credit for wanting an awful lot of what we need.

    I’m further convinced we have to repair the Left, shattered by identity politics. We must convince them that more of their specific concerns can be dealt with by re-balancing the workings of the economy (capitalism), so it can help bring about more of the changes they would wish, and that collectively working in this way we can start to help each other again like in the sixties and seventies.

  16. Phil

    On conformity:

    The societal punishments for sticking out, offending and failure to give respect are substantial and onerous. This is magnified these days by social media where instead of a ripple of clucking and fluttering and “well I never!” at the tea parties of the past, we now have a catastrophic truckload of hate dumped on us from the unforgiving internet for all times that is nearly impossible to diminish – even with the help of specialty PR companies designed for this very thing. (See Jon Ronson – So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed).

    Back in school as teens, the bad luck of having a note purloined that revealed the object of our affection was considered unsurvivable and in fact was the source of days and weeks of psychological torture inflicted on the poor unrequited lover. Let this stand as the introduction to the lesson known as; keep your head down, don’t make waves, reveal nothing, don’t take risks. You will suffer! Now this seems so quaint; the frightening prospect of going to school the next day and having to face the judgement of the peers. The prospect of facing the world behind the internet is a million times worse. Hate and death threats that continue on for all times all spelled out in black and white available for billions to read if they so chose is enough to destroy any emerging nonconformist.

    Disrespect and challenge an American police officer? Are you fucking suicidal or something?! o_O

    Respecting the office of x or y could be an extension of this conformity, a component of tribal identity and loyalty. The people who claim to respect the office of the Presidency under Trump didn’t appear to respect the office of the Presidency when it was occupied by Obama, a person that was not considered to be a member of their own tribe but was obviously an outsider. To admit that he was a decent person who was smart and qualified to be President would be seen as a breach of tribal (party) loyalty. Very few did that. I remember McCain correcting a woman in a rally on that and I thought it took guts and integrity.

    As I’ve told our young people, it’s a very brave person who has the guts to speak up for what’s right in the face of total opposition. The forces of conformity are great and not everyone has the wherewithal to remain resilient in the face of social disapproval. Still, when someone does impulsively speak out against the prevailing opinion then they may find that others agree with them but just needed a little prompting to help them find their courage. This is all part of leadership training.

    I actually find it to be delightful when on long comment sections where everyone is predictably following the opinion trend, there comes along an outlier who states a contrary opinion, and states it well, causing a few lurkers to cautiously post comments in support of the outlier. I’ve seen whole threads convert over to agreement with the outlier and reach a general consensus of agreement with the outlier in the end. It’s happened on this website in the past when threads were longer and discussions more emotionally volatile.

    I have taken note of the R. Reich book. I have a good impression of Reich as he does make his case fairly often in guest spots on TV. Will acquire the book forthwith.

  17. Laurie #15

    So much is riding on the November elections that I feel a frantic
    kinetic energy building in the general public.

    Here is a link to share to help get out the vote and to help support the Democratic party:

    swingleft.org

    You key in your zip code and it gives you the Democrat running in a swing district closest to where you live.

  18. Vicki

    That’s an interesting website! It directs me to help in the NH election, from afar. Apparently my own state is solid blue already!

    (Massachusetts)

  19. Phil

    18

    In what universe could that not increase his capital?

    In Trump universe!

    McCain fancies himself a maverick. That’s how it goes with mavericks; sometimes they back you up and sometimes they shoot you down. I’ll bet there was some grumbling at that rally by those who don’t appreciate their favorite narrative interfered with. They’ve bought into the narrative. It’s part of their identity. How dare you mess with my narrative!!

    But we’ve seen those on the left get pissy when the failings of Hillary were put on display. The idea that she is a neoconservative in bed with Wall Street for example.

  20. Laurie #20

    My state is purple (Ohio), but the closest swing election is in Pennsylvania.

    Apparently none of the R’s in Ohio are up for reelection. We are scheduled for a gubernatorial election, though, and I plan on donating once the field narrows down.

  21. Hello, Trump is calling for a military parade. I fear it is a scenario that could be very bad.
    Mueller is closing in on Trump and his own party is under heat to bring pressure.
    Trumps time is running out and I think he knows it. He has gotten the GOP party in such deep water, they may not be able to back out now.
    I hope he would think twice about ordering the military to surround the White House for protection.
    This could be bad. I don’t think there is any out for Trump now. That makes him a dangerous man.
    (has anybody heard from Dan?)

  22. alf1200 #23
    Hello, Trump is calling for a military parade.

    Alf, they hold military parades in North Korea. My guess is that Donald just wants to show Jong Un that he (Donald) can do military parades even better and grander than any that Jong Un can do. You know what boys can be like with that sort of thing.

    Military parades are a great way to show off and, of course, to encourage the more impressionable citizens to admire and adulate the glorious leader and his fearsome power. So, yes, there would be worrying possibilities to watch for, if Donald developed an appetite for military parades. His mate Vladimir is an old hand at them.

    One can still hope that the US military will refuse to do anything unconstitutional.

  23. Garrick #24
    Feb 7, 2018 at 5:32 am

    Alf, they hold military parades in North Korea.
    My guess is that Donald just wants to show Jong Un that he (Donald) can do military parades even better and grander than any that Jong Un can do. You know what boys can be like with that sort of thing.

    It seems that the plan is for Trump to do military parades “even better and grander” than Macron and the French!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-42969566

    Trump tells Pentagon ‘to top’ France military parade

    US President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to organise a large military parade in the nation’s capital.

    The president made the request of top military chiefs in late January, after reportedly being impressed by a French Bastille Day parade last year.

    “It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen,” he later said. “We’re going to have to try and top it.”

    Of course French Bastille Day parades, are celebrating THE OVERTHROW of a right-wing autocratic monarchy and aristocratic elite by the people! – but perhaps Trump missed that point!

    Democrats compared the plan to displays of military might organised by autocratic nations.

    The Democrats are probably correct in the case of Trump and the repressive Republicans!
    Despite the rhetoric and chantings of Trump-base, Trump rallies and parades, have nothing to do with liberating the ordinary citizens from elitist domination and exploitation by plutocrats!

    The US military will need something to spend that extra Trump budget on, and besides Putin will probably enjoy having a good look at the USA’s latest hardware!

  24. alf

    Small hands -> big missiles -> My missile is bigger than your missile. You see where I’m going with this. He’s compensating.

  25. Alan4discussion #25
    It seems that the plan is for Trump to do military parades “even better and grander” than Macron and the French!

    Well, that is a relief. The French are not likely to take any notice of Donald’s attempt to stage a grand military parade, let alone see it as a threat to their national security and push him to the brink of a nuclear cataclysm.

    LaurieB #26
    He’s compensating.

    Yes, and that is why it would be unwise to gratify his need for compensation with a fine military parade, because it would only encourage the would-be dictator in him.

  26. LaurieB #26
    Feb 7, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Small hands -> big missiles -> My missile is bigger than your missile.

    I think Elon Musk has just upstaged him with an orbital Tesla sports car!! 🙂

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42969020

    US entrepreneur Elon Musk has launched his new rocket, the Falcon Heavy, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    The mammoth vehicle – the most powerful since the shuttle system – lifted clear of its pad without incident to soar high over the Atlantic Ocean.

    For this experimental and uncertain mission, however, he decided on a much smaller and whimsical payload – his old cherry-red Tesla sports car.

    A space-suited mannequin was strapped in the driver’s seat, and the radio set to play a David Bowie soundtrack on a loop.

  27. Garrick #24

    Military parades are a great way to show off and, of course, to
    encourage the more impressionable citizens to admire and adulate the
    glorious leader

    Yup.

    Still, maybe there’s a bright side. After all, if the military are parading through Washington, they can’t be marching into Pyongyang, can they?

  28. Alan,

    I particularly liked the “Don’t Panic” on the Tesla dash board display.

    The shot through the windscreen at planet earth puts some necessary whimsy back into our venturing.

  29. Alan

    I think Elon Musk has just upstaged him with an orbital Tesla sports car!!

    Oh Yah! Oh yah! That’s what I’m talkin bout!!

    Elon Musk. He da man! 😀

  30. I’ve been in Paris for more than one La Bastille Day celebration. The last time we saw that military display there, the young people all around us in the crowd were shouting negative statements when the jets flew over. “FASCISM! IMPERIALISM!”

    Maybe in the spirit of La Bastille, a better celebration could be had; one that celebrates their gifted Enlightenment thinkers and the massively positive effect they’ve had for all these years on Western civilization. Instead of celebrating the devices of death and destruction let’s have parades and speeches about the best that France has to offer – and that’s a lot! I’m a fan. Here’s Macron’s opportunity to make Trump look like a dictator wannabe.

  31. alf1200 #23

    Hello, Trump is calling for a military parade

    Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton was not impressed, issuing this statement on behalf of a veteran’s group :

    “For someone who just declared that it was ‘treasonous’ to not applaud him, and for someone who has, in the past, admired the tactics of everyone from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that a military parade isn’t about saluting the military — it is about making a display of the military saluting him.

    The military is not Donald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way. Our military is the very best in the world — they are not to be reduced to stagecraft to prop up Donald Trump’s image. Any commander in chief who respects the traditions of the military would understand that.

    Unfortunately, we do not have a commander in chief, right now, as much as we have a wannabe banana republic strongman.”

  32. Having seen reports that Cheddar Man was actually likely to have been black, and seen the very black facial reconstruction. I found all the online articles I could to find out how certain the research was, the most scientific amongst them seemed to say that there were gene sequences similar to gene sequences which are sometimes associated with genetic sequences which are associated with skin pigment – or something like that – I am not a scientist.
    Coming Now, this kind of story suits left wing narrative so well. And I wonder why the researchers only looked for indications of colour anyway. I went on YouTube and the only videos reporting this story were littered with comments from people believing this to be total left wing propaganda. Can these findings be verified independently,? And if so, to what degree of certainty? I just don’t know what to think.

  33. Jayne #34

    I’m not qualified to answer your detailed questions myself (others here will know far more about the science of this than I do), but the research was carried out by the Natural History Museum in London, so I looked up their own account of their findings, how the research was carried out, how they reached their conclusions, etc. It’s clearly been written for a general audience, not a scientific one, but nevertheless, the NHM will only have been interested in discovering the truth, not promoting any kind of agenda. As you’ll see, they didn’t “only look for indications of colour”. They sequenced the DNA (as far as they could) in order to find out as much as possible about the man; colour was just one aspect of that.

    It’s a fascinating discovery, isn’t it? I can only imagine that those people who are so discombobulated about it must be unaware that we all came out of Africa originally.

    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/cheddar-man-mesolithic-britain-blue-eyed-boy.html

  34. Jayne UK #34
    Feb 8, 2018 at 6:11 am

    Having seen reports that Cheddar Man was actually likely to have been black,
    and seen the very black facial reconstruction.

    Actually the report says “dark skinned”, not “black”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42939192

    A cutting-edge scientific analysis shows that a Briton from 10,000 years ago had dark brown skin and blue eyes.

    Researchers from London’s Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man, Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903.

    University College London researchers then used the subsequent genome analysis for a facial reconstruction.

    It underlines the fact that the lighter skin characteristic of modern Europeans is a relatively recent phenomenon.

    No prehistoric Briton of this age had previously had their genome analysed.

    As such, the analysis provides valuable new insights into the first people to resettle Britain after the last Ice Age.

    The analysis of Cheddar Man’s genome – the “blueprint” for a human, contained in the nuclei of our cells – will be published in a journal, and will also feature in the upcoming Channel 4 documentary The First Brit, Secrets Of The 10,000-year-old Man.

    It should really be unsurprising, as as the ice-age ice retreated, people moved north from sunnier climates, and most of them lived outdoors with high UV in summer and high UV reflection from snow in the winter!

    The modern indoor life-style makes for a pale skin, but even modern North-Europeans turn dark within a week or two when on holiday on the beaches of the tropics!

    I went on YouTube and the only videos reporting this story were littered with comments from people believing this to be total left wing propaganda.
    Can these findings be verified independently,?

    I think the science is much more likely to be verified independently, than comments from conspiracy theorists bandying political labels or racial bigotry, on YouTube or Twitter!

    Sticking on political labels to disparage actual science reports, is the mark of the scientifically illiterate propagandist or conspiracy theorist!
    – It usually means they are using extremist false-news pseudo-science and propagandist sources which use emotive rhetoric and “disparaged opponent labels”, in and place of reputable science reports.
    (Such tactics are common among quack-remedy promoters, Young-Earth Creationists, anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, etc.)

    @BBC link – The Natural History Museum researchers extracted the DNA from part of the skull near the ear known as the petrous. At first, project scientists Prof Ian Barnes and Dr Selina Brace weren’t sure if they’d get any DNA at all from the remains.

    But they were in luck: not only was DNA preserved, but Cheddar Man has since yielded the highest coverage (a measure of the sequencing accuracy) for a genome from this period of European prehistory – known as the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age.

    They teamed up with researchers at University College London (UCL) to analyse the results, including gene variants associated with hair, eye and skin colour.

  35. Cheddar George was blue eyed but the drive to lighten his skin probably mostly came after his move north west across Doggerland in 11,000BCE, with the adoption of a cereal based agrarian diet. The poor vitamin D provision of grains was the strongest driver for the melanin reduction in skin.

    It would be interesting to know if adult lactase production was yet a thing with George. Keeping animals and milk drinking may well have preceded grain production with its higher social burden.

  36. I saw the segment on Cheddar Man last night on BBC America and I must say that the presentation left me feeling uneasy. My impression was that it was one of those “science” for the public consumption pieces that has a sensational feeling and short on facts and perspective. I’m not surprised that as Jayne reports above, there are comments that indicate confusion and questions of political slant.

    That said, I see that there will be a more complete presentation coming and I hope they do a better job with this interesting story.

    Some thoughts I had while watching:

    It’s a given that dark pigmentation in humans was the original “out of Africa” phenotype and that degree of pigmentation is predictable by latitude and the effects of intensity of sunlight in those locations. Lightened skin is an evolutionary adaptation to less intense sunlight in areas furthest from the equator, right? -Unless it’s an evolutionary byproduct (spandrel) in which case this should be explained too and I’d be very interested to hear about it!

    What I want them to present, given that, is an explanation of our best idea of how that loss of pigmentation in the population of Northern Europeans evolved over time. Take the best educated guess on when the various waves of humans (and Neanderthals and Denisovans) left Africa and migrated out, in this case to Northern Europe, and explain how over that amount of time, a loss of pigmentation in hair, skin, and eyes proved adaptive to those humans and increased their evolutionary fitness.

    In evolutionary time, ten thousand years is a very short time to produce a widespread adaptation. For this to happen we would need to see intense selective pressure. What kind of intense selective pressure would have been in place for this bunch of humans to lose their pigmentation over this short amount of time? Lack of vitamin D from short dark days turned their bones to lace rendering them incapable of hunting, gathering, and defense against invaders?

    The BBC clip last night came off as indicating that in ten thousand years the Brits (no mention of other Northern Europeans) have gone from dark skinned, dark haired, blue eyed people to their current state of light skinned, light eyed English roses. The ridiculous segment of the reveal of the face of the Cheddar Man to a guy who is apparently genetically related to Cheddar Man from 300 generations hence was cringeworthy.

    I also hope there is an explanation included in the full presentation of the migration routes of early humans as we understand them to be now. Surely there was a constant flow of migrants that brought novel DNA into established settlements everywhere. If there’s one thing that impresses me about out species it’s that once they left the African continent, they covered a massive amount of territory in what seems to me a short amount of time. Groups both large and small must have left Africa on a regular basis, gone off in different directions, mixed with other groups that they encountered, stayed for a time and moved on to greener pastures.

    How do we know that this one specimen is representative of the British (we ought to be discussing Northern Europeans) population of that time period? How can we ever know that with the dearth of specimens that we have available for study?

    We know that we are still evolving, of course, and there have been recent adaptations such as some interesting immune system adaptations and the ability to digest lactose that is relatively recent in our history, but the impression given by the clip last night was that in the timeline of the last ten thousand years, Brits have gone from black to white. It was very clumsy and left more questions than answers. I’m hoping that the full presentation will have a more science based and graceful explanation of this for the public consumption.

  37. phil rimmer #38
    Feb 8, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Cheddar George was blue eyed but the drive to lighten his skin probably mostly came after his move north west across Doggerland in 11,000BCE,
    with the adoption of a cereal based agrarian diet.
    The poor vitamin D provision of grains was the strongest driver for the melanin reduction in skin.

    Talking of recent melanin reduction, – the evolution of the “gingers” in Scotland from an increased incidence of a recessive gene in the wet climate with absence of severe UV damage, – shows further mutant selective adaptation, with the survival and spread of this trait, which is damaging in more sun-dominated environments.

    https://www.irishcentral.com/news/scientists-confirm-redhead-gene-evolved-due-to-lack-of-sunlight-224444281-237778201

  38. A major driver of melanin reduction is thought to be the impoverished Vitamin D provision of new fangled agriculture, eating grains rather than fish and animal livers.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/03/new-diet-sexual-attraction-may-have-spurred-europeans-lighter-skin

    In January, another team, led by geneticist Carles Lalueza-Fox of the University of Barcelona in Spain, sequenced the genome of an 8000-year-old male hunter-gatherer skeleton from the site of La Braña-Arintero in Spain and found that he was dark rather than light-skinned—again suggesting that natural selection for light skin acted relatively late in prehistory.

  39. Thanks, Marco. It does seem that lactose tolerance is really rather late developing.

    The lactose intolerant can make some use of milk in the form of yogurt. (It produces its own lactase some functional part of which moderately survives the hydrochloric acid bath to get to the gut.) It seems that milk production might have been needed at rather high levels to create a selection pressure for retention of lactase production.)

    Laurie,

    An explanatory article for you got spam binned. It will return above soon enough. Diet, as I said is the biggest selector here.

  40. Phil

    Yes, interesting.

    From your link:

    The study “provides evidence that loss of regular dietary vitamin D as a result of the transition to a more strongly agricultural lifestyle may have triggered” the evolution of lighter skin, says Nina Jablonski, a leading skin color researcher at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

    As for the trend toward lighter colored hair and blue eyes, Thomas and his co-workers suggest that may be due to sexual attraction—what in evolutionary terms is called sexual selection.

  41. I do hope that when further presentation of the evidence is made that an attempt is made to explain at a sufficiently intellectual level how these conclusions can be made. There does seem to be a political slant on this story. I now see that Cheddar Man was also lactose intolerant, which to me sounds at least as important discovery as his skin colour – so the fact that the headlines are what they are suggests that the researchers/publishers acknowledge that skin colour above other interesting facts will lead to more interest (not necessarily from scientists). I think that the presentation of this story is potentially more problematic than the story.

    Although YouTube comments can frequently be categorised as extremist propaganda themselves, it seems to me that when facts are presented with proper evidence on a level that can be understood by a good proportion of people that those views can be overturned (even on YouTube). Although I think there are youtubers who just can’t stand the idea that their ancestors were coloured they appear to be in the minority, and most (in one way or another) point to the reporting of it as intention to add to the increasing narrative from main stream media and the far left for native British people to feel more and more uncomfortable with their own culture and history. I find this very worrying.

    My belief is that It should be explained thoroughly instead of in a patronising way or at least better than ‘trust us, we’re scientists, and we work in a respected institution, and understand things that you couldn’t understand’.

    Reading the comments above about the science has been very interesting and enlightening and of course as some questions are answered, others have arisen. I look forward to the documentary and the scientific paper publishing the evidence.

  42. Jayne UK #46
    Feb 8, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Although I think there are youtubers who just can’t stand the idea that their ancestors were coloured they appear to be in the minority,

    Those ones will just have to put their bigoted preconceptions aside, as if we go further back on the human evolutionary tree, ALL human ancestral populations (the genera Homo or Australopithicus) for the last 2 million years, migrated out of Africa and were dark skinned!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_human_migrations

  43. Jayne UK #46
    Feb 8, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    I do hope that when further presentation of the evidence is made that an attempt is made to explain at a sufficiently intellectual level how these conclusions can be made.

    If genes which determine skin colour are clearly identified, that should be sufficient – providing that those genes are active during development.

    There does seem to be a political slant on this story.

    There will usually be some political or other slant on science stories in the headlines of the low-grade popular press.

    I now see that Cheddar Man was also lactose intolerant, which to me sounds at least as important discovery as his skin colour – so the fact that the headlines are what they are suggests that the researchers/publishers acknowledge that skin colour above other interesting facts will lead to more interest (not necessarily from scientists).

    What the researchers identify as important and what some sensation seeking editor chooses to include or prioritise, are often very different.

    I think that the presentation of this story is potentially more problematic than the story.

    You are quite correct! The presentation of science in the hands of scientifically uneducated journalists is frequently problematic and misleading.

    The popular media has VERY low standards when it comes to reporting science.

    Sometimes scientifically illiterate journalists even write articles in so-called “science magazines”! (See the link below)

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/07/nasa-is-seriously-considering-terraforming-part-of-the-moon-with-robots/

  44. Jayne

    Wasn’t there a kerfuffle a while ago over a book or paper by Mary Beard that claimed that there was racial diversity in UK back in Roman times? Sorry I’m not in UK but just getting snippets of that here in US. Do we have two incidents close in time of assertions of racial diversity in UK that caused upset of some people there?

  45. LaurieB #49
    Feb 8, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Wasn’t there a kerfuffle a while ago over a book or paper by Mary Beard that claimed that there was racial diversity in UK back in Roman times?

    Roman troops in Britain came from all over the Roman empire.

    Saxons, Vikings, and Normans, all came from Europe.

    Then there are the immigrants from all over the British colonial empire and commonwealth!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romano-British_culture

    Thousands of Roman businessmen and officials and their families settled in Britannia.
    Roman troops from across the Empire, as far as Spain, Syria, Egypt, and the Germanic provinces of Batavia and Frisia (modern Netherlands, Belgium, and the Rhineland area of Germany), were garrisoned in Roman towns, and many married local Britons.
    The Roman army and their families and dependents amounted to 125,000 people, out of Britannia’s total population of 3.6 million at the end of the fourth century.[5]
    There were also many migrants of other professions, such as sculptors from Roman Syria and doctors from the Eastern Mediterranean region.[6] This diversified Britannia’s cultures and religions, while the populace remained mainly Celtic, with a Roman way of life.

  46. The biggest upset over Mary Beard and the BBC animation of Roman occupation was led by Nassim Taleb, who was not a UK resident. Though a very clever guy, he was entirely outside of his field. Yes there was upset from others, racists more often than not with the charming heritage of BNP, EDL, UKIP and the like.

    Taleb over-accused of Beard of Scientism and handed stones (unintentionally) to racists to throw.

    Here’s the over-accusation in detail

    https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/beard-nassem-taleb-twitter-feud-and-dangers-of-scientism-auid-868

    I suggest we have nothing to learn from this except stick to the facts.

    Cheddar George corroborated fairly new hypotheses about how Europeans remained dark skinned until comparatively recently and what the true drivers were. A few sources might not have twigged this fact and failed to push the new hypothesis leaving the claims looking a little odd.

    I saw nothing here that I found left looking and I went looking!

  47. Jayne #46

    Reading the comments above about the science has been very interesting and enlightening and of course as some questions are answered, others have arisen.

    Can I help with any of those new questions?

    Post about Beard and Taleb gone missing before the Beard and wiki one. It’ll be several hours before reappearing (by 10am local time).

  48. phil rimmer #51
    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:12 am

    The biggest upset over Mary Beard and the BBC animation of Roman occupation was led by Nassim Taleb, who was not a UK resident.

    The assumption of “whiteness” is deep-rooted in faith-thinkers!

    As we know, middle eastern messiahs and prophets were white – IF we believe the paintings in the “infallible” Vatican!

    However, if we actually look at the peoples of the Semitic and North African races . . . . . . . . . . .

  49. phil rimmer #51
    Feb 9, 2018 at 4:12 am

    Taleb over-accused of Beard of Scientism and handed stones (unintentionally) to racists to throw.

    Allegations of “Scientism” are the standard response of the denier who is way out of their depth, but is determined to dispute the evidence they are incapable of understanding, or unwilling to attempt to understand!

    Like scientific “theory”, it has two meanings, and charlatans make full use of the ambiguity to conflate scientific methodology with wild claims based on blind faith in preconceptions!
    It is also quite common for deniers, to project their own blind-faith in their preconceptions, on to scientists who produce evidence refuting their mistaken views!

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scientism

    Definition of scientism

    1 : methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist

    2 : an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation

  50. Taleb is very clever and thinks profoundly useful thoughts in my view. He is anti-Platonic, anti-idealistic, pro-evolutionary processes, pro-diverse, pro-tinkering, pro-robust, fault tolerant societies that facilitate tinkering. In fact, all my favourites. I’m sure he understands what scientism most usefully means, because it often forms the target of his thinking. Its just that he actually knew less on this historical topic than he thought and didn’t listen well enough. Which is why I think there is not much of a lesson to be learned.

  51. I’ve just compiled my own list of commandments, as a much improved version of the bible’s ten commandments. Here they are:

    1. Donate what you can to charity.
    2. Don't conspire against a person for no good reason.
    3. Do not waste resources. Repair things if possible. Don't do planned obsolescense.
    4. Do not hurt or kill animals or humans, unless you prevent the suffering of a larger number of animals or humans by that action. In particular, live vegetarian.
    5. Have sexual relationships only if all involved parties will surely not suffer harm from that relationship. In particular, in most cases, do not watch porn, and do not use hookers.
    6. Do not coerce someone into a sexual relationship.
    7. Do not indulge in cruelty against humans, in particular not in order to hide your own weakness.
    8. Don't bully people, and especially not in order to promote your social status.
    9. Pick a profession where something truly useful is done. E. g. do not compile advertisements for rotten products.
    10. Do not be a racist even though you have no truly scientific basis for it. In particular, don't think black people are idiots.
    11. Do not destroy things and beings if possible. In particular, do not destroy things and beings because bad things happened to you when you were young.
    12. Do not be obsessed by status.
    13. Educate your children well.
    14. Do not beat your children.
    15. Love your children. Do not hate them.
    16. Do not neglect your children.
    17. Do not believe yourself as superior in a pecking order.
    18. Do not institute pecking orders.
    19. Do not have misjudgements about somebody when evidence is not clear.
    20. Do not have perverted drives to cut people into pieces.
    21. Do not believe you are nobody without power.
    22. Do not abandon those who you love just because you think you cannot be seen with them.
    23. Do not hold people back in their potential because you fear they might supersede you.
    24. Do not get paid by an oil company to be a politician who denies climate change.
    25. Do not manipulate elections, except by convincing people in a just way.
    26. Do not write nonsensical books which have no merit to the reader.
    27. Do not commit scientific fraud.
    28. Do not give disadvantages to anybody who holds political views different from yours. In particular, don't bully democratic socialists or social democrats.
    29. Work hard.
    30. Do not design new weapon systems, unless they are absolutely neccessary.
    31. Use clean energy and recycling products.
    32. Have regard for your neighbours. Don't make too much noise when they ask you not to.
    33. Don't smoke tobacco, and if you have to, don't do so in public. Passive smoking kills.
    34. Unless you have a really good reason, obey the law.
    35. Do not lure anybody into a booby trap.
    36. Don't bully gay people.
    37. When you write software, make sure the code is neither messy nor inefficient.
    38. Publish open source or using a noncommercial license.
    39. Do not have to be right. Accept criticism if justified.
    40. Do not criticise somebody out of cruelty.
    41. Do not raise yourself above expertise by appealing to social status.
    42. Enjoy yourself.

  52. Adrian,

    A really sterling effort, but in being so specific you may be undermining the fact that there are yet better solutions possible or may become possible. From a quick scan, whilst accepting the morality of each I would currently object to aspects of about half of your ideals and how they may be prioritised. Which is a pity.

    Aphoristic wisdom is portable and much more directs people’s behaviours.

    What are the core principles of a moral society that could allow you to deduce a lot of this stuff?

  53. From a quick scan, whilst accepting the morality of each I would currently object to aspects of about half of your ideals and how they may be prioritised.

    Could you specify?

  54. Not all the way through, but taking just number one, giving to charity.

    For me every act of charity is a failure of the state. The US particularly praises charity and decries the nanny state, with appalling and iniquitous results, one of the highest levels of income, health and education inequality of an advanced nation.

    Charity is fickle (spurious, unreliable) and demeaning. It demands gratitude too often and is also often used to leverage in proselytising. It is also often done to massage egos. Voting, rather, to pay proper taxes to build compassion into the very fabric of the state is MUCH to be preferred. Now the unfortunate can depend upon help as a civilised and civilising right, proportionately, intelligently and consistently administered.

    Charity will always be needed to mop up new and un-catered for problems, but I would far rather people wished to use that beneficent impulse to vote for higher taxes and a decent welfare state, where the feel-good ceases to be to the fore and people have their compassion freed up to do yet more. (The Danes are mostly excused.)

    On aphoristic moral wisdom…

    Identifying all suffering as a moral bad.
    Encouraging children be able to achieve a state of maximum autonomy, freedom of choice, and utilisation of their individual talents.

    These seem to be heuristics that are entirely more future proof and cover many, many activities that contribute to the Good. Put into a few snappy phrases these are tests that can be applied everyday to novel situations rather than having a big look-up table of specifics.

    Can I say, what you are doing, in thinking this all through, is the single most important job humans will ever have. Bravo. Its a job they/we will never be free of. It took me 40 years before I could put my finger on what seemed to be sub-optimum about charity.

  55. Now I support the welfare state greatly. But if everyone would follow my rules, then it would not be necessary. Note though that this is not to diminish the importance of the welfare state. Indeed, it is solely a hypothetical thought experiment. Of course, never would everyone obey these 42 (pure coincidence) rules.

    I thank you greatly for your recognition of morality. I feel that sometimes, the most immoral persons get a whole lot of recognition by society (in fact, the history of my country, Germany, has a prominent example, even though fortunately, today Hitler is rated what he was: A criminal; to him rule 20 is dedicated.) but moral persons are excluded. I suppose that happened to Grisha Perelman, although he’s also living in Russia, where things are a bit worse than in the west. But it was clear by his actions that he was very upset by low moral standards of his fellow human beings. I myself am an inferior mathematician to him; I hope that this alone won’t give him reason for contempt. At least I’m honestly trying to bridge the gap.

    I myself find that even though I have a good living standard (right now I’m eating some vegetarian Schnitzel), I can donate quite a lot to charity. But it’s more important not to waste resources in order to bring the price down.

  56. Adrian.

    Now I support the welfare state greatly. But if everyone would follow my rules, then it would not be necessary.

    I say pretty much the same thing.

    … if everyone would follow my rules, then charity would not be necessary…

    Building compassion into the state and having its deliverables be a civilised right, solves the problem, also and I say much more reliably. The higher moral to me is to accept higher taxes for precisely this purpose and have trained expertise directing services and balancing all these disparate needs.

    It is precisely the critical dependence on charity that allows selfish Americans, f’rinstance, to blame each other for the terrible state they’re in. They have no interest in fixing the problem through a collectively binding mandate. Mutualism is not for them. Danes pay an average 78% in total taxations, duties etc. once all are added up. Charities apart from cats’ homes and overseas disaster provision are not needed.

    Americans must suffer Catholic hospitals with their incomplete and dangerous service provision. As Wilkinson and Pickett wrote in The Spirit Level, The American Dream is alive and well and living in Denmark.

  57. Welcome to the U.S. Republican corrupt political machine, where crazy oligarchs buy Fox news sexual predators in order to fool people into thinking that their trash economic policies work. They wouldn’t even need it. It’s purely destructive, and gives them no gain. Except the oil oligarchs, who don’t care what happens after their lives and therefore poison this planet’s atmosphere.

  58. Anybody see the Jim Jarmusch film “Paterson”?

    I loved the thing. I thought it was the best cinematic study of how we ordinary folks find meaning slipping into our lives through the day as witting or unwitting poets.

  59. There seem to be some severe penalties imposed – deterring big-cat poachers in parts of Africa!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-43035474

    A suspected big cat poacher has been eaten by lions near the Kruger National Park in South Africa, police say.

    Police have not yet established the victim’s identity.
    A loaded hunting rifle and ammunition were found next to the body, South African website Eyewitness News reports.

    Perhaps the perpetrators can plead “self defence”!

  60. Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now, The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress is out on the bookshelves now. (Is it out just in US or everywhere?)

    Has anyone started reading it yet?

    Pinker is now making the rounds on the promotional tour. He just had an interview with Hugh Hewitt on MSNBC that was very interesting. I’ll post the video if I can find it. The segment just before his appearance consisted of a deeply religious politician who emphasized that his prayer group is working overtime due to the latest mass shooting of children in Florida. Hewitt asked the politician if they dealt with any possible solutions in the prayer meeting and the response was no, they don’t talk about anything but their faith at the meeting but sometimes outside of the meetings the politicians who are members can get together and talk about political issues. He also emphasized that citizens must get together in their churches and with neighbors and collectively work together to provide solutions to the problems of our society. That statement set off a buzzer in my head after our conversations here about government deflecting responsibility onto the general public. (Thanks Phil).

    After that depressing segment, along comes Pinker with his uplifting message of all of our advances that societies around the world have experienced and he did indicate that the Enlightenment and all of its devotion to reason and science had everything to do with it and that if we want further advance then we need to take it upon ourselves to make that happen. All the prayer and groveling to God is a waste of time. This seems to have startled Hewitt because he then brought up the previous interview – You just heard from the previous guest who is very religious and…! (paraphrasing until I can get video or transcript). Pinker is very smooth with these bleaters and I’ve seen him speak on several occasions where he’s dealt with worse than this. He explained that there is no evidence for miracles or of any God who can defy the laws of physics and biology.

    Although it’s difficult for us to sit through interviews of the pathetically brainwashed politicians who go running to their religious organizations and throw themselves at the mercy of their nonexistent God when things go terribly wrong, the juxtaposition of these two interviews was absolutely effective in illustrating the massive gap in the American public today. The politician with his completely useless fairy tale reaction to a massive problem that will lead to zero action to solve it and then the data driven, reality based thinker that we saw in Pinker who advises us to work together to provide real life solutions to real life problems was a microcosm of the situation in this place.

    When Hewitt pointed out to Pinker that he would alienate many people with his criticism of religion, I wish Pinker had pointed out that the young people in this country are becoming much more secular with every year that goes by and that if the trend continues then the religious fanatics will soon be marginalized to the point of being a freakish awkward sideshow in decades to come. A psychological oddity that is relegated to a page in a textbook on abnormal psychology and nothing more.

    My copy of Enlightenment Now is on the way from Amazon. Meanwhile I’ll continue with my binge reading of the books by Oliver Sacks. Finished: Hallucinations, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and On the Move. Now reading Uncle Tungsten.

  61. Just starting the Pinker now. I may have the occasional niggle with Pinker, but there are few such politically constructive polymaths that I more consistently agree with.

    People have consistently talked down the Enlightenment condemning its incomplete apprehensions of the human condition, but these folks have consistently failed to notice that it is not a list of apprehensions, but an open ended set of processes that can add to itself.

    I am though a little worried that the range of the Romantic responses may be a little restricted by Pinker. The Romantic introspection into personal values and meaning had two outcomes, only one of which was anti-Enlightenment. I must read on.

    On his TV performance (not that I’ve seen it) I would love to see one thing mentioned and one thing done about turning off religious folk. Point out the extreme outlier condition of the USA. The moderate religious need to be brave about this. Honour amongst theists needs to stop and far more moderate religious push-back against fundamentalism needs to happen. All propagandisers against religion need to refocus away from where the religious know (subconsciously) they are weak, the absent evidence for the supernatural, and on to where they think themselves strong, morality. Attack the former and they will go mental and squeal like pigs about to be stuck. Attack the latter and they will have far less defensive coherence. Attack their shocking immoral anti-human behaviours and leave their comfort blankey alone… at least for now.

    The moderate, aesthetic religionists need to make common political cause with us over morality. The other stuff that separates us is simply a good enough reason to all go down the pub.

    First, religion is a symptom of a problem. Of itself it does not flourish. It needs desperation and continual maintenance.

    For an individual, religion is most often a sop, which should at most be pitied. Moral behaviours are the only decent things to condemn. The con-men, though are utterly condemnable.

  62. Thanks, Laurie. That was very interesting.

    Pinker is very, very good. I think countering the Christian Right’s need to have people believe we are all going to hell in a handcart is utterly essential.

    His focus on moral actions is spot on.

  63. Hi q. Response to your post in teaching atheism thread.

    Delighted you enjoyed Captain Fantastic.

    Not a huge fan of Noah after reading Sapiens. Lots of facts I approve of sharing in there and nothing new for me. (But that is no mark against it. I read lots of this stuff.) But I hated Chapter 16 (I think it was). His ghastly view of political economics was not in anyway the obvious stuff of reason he thought it was. Very poor.

    I’d be happy to hear reports of this next book, though I am frustrated by most pundit’s understanding of the topic of free will. Free choice from increasing numbers of choices is how we progress personally and culturally. We model the future just before it and long before it in the hope of predicting what we might do (we often guess wrong). Rehearsing makes our predictions of our own actions more reliable. The feeling that we willed an action is a misapprehended post hoc narrative account of what happened and why we did it. It does though feed our rehearsals of future actions. The desire to possess (libertarian) free will is idiotic though it may be a cultural habit to actually encourage us to think ‘n’ act rather than not. We are lazy and big expensive brains are held in reserve to often and often confounded with overmuch data to find a clear preferred direction, etc. etc. If truth is a thing then libertarian free will is its enemy.

    Hellfire, q, that’s some document.

    You do know that I spent a decade plus working for most of the auto majors introducing new tech and concepts? I feel I need to look over my shoulder more often

  64. Re #69

    rather badly written I’m afraid…

    Moral behaviours are the only decent things to condemn.

    Moral behaviours, or rather their lack, are the only decent things to condemn.

    among many.

  65. phil #73

    i’d be happy to hear reports of this next book,

    did you mean his next book
    harari’s homo deus?
    that’s the one i referred to
    i’m not a fan of sapiens either
    but i’m a sucker for free will arguments as in hd

    that ‘hellfire’ document went online on new year’s day
    of the year of the dog
    and yes i did know from various posts
    that you were a top dog
    in the automan empire
    a sort of sultan of sustainable suvs?

  66. The book you mentioned, q.

    No sultan, a mere minion in the scheme of things creating shiny stuff for show cars, neglected too often the next day. Given the fierceness of those sixty plus pages, I was getting worried.

  67. Ah, Dinesh D’Souza. Christianity at its compassionate finest.

    First, in response to a newspaper headline announcing that “Florida lawmakers reject bill to ban assault rifles days after school shooting”, he tweets:

    Adults 1, Kids 0

    Then, in response to a photo of the school shooting survivors’ reaction to the news:

    Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.

    I simply don’t know how to process such malevolence.

  68. Marco #78
    Feb 21, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I simply don’t know how to process such malevolence.

    I think it arises from faith in the belief, that big guns compensate for a lack of intelligence, moral integrity, and reasoning ability, in adults with small minds and Dunning-Kruger confidence!

  69. It is the unashamed demonisation of anyone who wants something you don’t; or doesn’t want something you do.

    There are no disagreements: just enemies. No alternative ideas: just treachery.

    It’s not just sickeningly repellent: it puts the status quo, however murderous, beyond challenge, and delegitimises every single dissenting voice.

    When not even the teenage survivors of mass murder are accorded the right to their grief and their terror and their anger, we are witnessing the death of democracy and freedom. And humanity. (The value, I mean, not necessarily the species).

  70. Even his own are revolted.

    @kurteichenwald
    tweeted
    About Dinesh D’Souza:
    1. He’s a stupid person’s idea of a smart person.
    2. He’s a stupid person.
    3. He’s a convicted criminal.
    4. He’s an amoral sociopath.
    5. He craves attention…

    …so I didn’t link him to this. Treat him like what he is: Wipe him off the bottom of your shoe.

    3:45 pm – 20 Feb 2018

    Are sociopaths a right wing pehenomenon? At least the right wing’s leaders?

  71. I see that Fox News is also attacking the kids. Hannity etc. There’s even that right wing nutjob Alex Jones claiming the shooting never happened. Other claims that all the kids are paid actors and that one with a dad in the FBI is a stooge. Florida lawmakers offered prayers for the kids and then voted to refuse to even have a debate on banning assault weapons. There is nothing remotely comparable on the left wing of American politics where the humans live. The right wing consists of utter filth.These are the deplorables, the scum, that Trump was dog whistling to throughout his campaign. The sick perverts who support the sick pervert in chief.

    I don’t think any of these people have ever seen a barrel they didn’t try to scrape the bottom of.

  72. I generally try to pause before generalising, but this demonisation of the traumatised survivors does seem to be quite widespread in right-wing media outlets. It’s not just D’Souza, abominable as he is.

    I suppose there is a logical path from being a sociopath who cares about no one but yourself, to feeling at home in right-wing politics, which espouse that very thing.

    There is an interesting overlap, though, isn’t there, between people who espouse politics that tell them they’re not responsible for anyone but themselves, and people who loudly espouse a religion that quite clearly tells them they are responsible for others and, indeed, should put other people’s needs before their own. Any Venn diagram representing Republicanism/Libertarianism and evangelical Christianity would have an enormous inner core and only a tiny sliver either side.

    It’s at this point that someone generally starts talking about cognitive dissonance, but cognitive dissonance is not the conflicting beliefs and values in themselves, but the mental distress people feel when in possession of them. And I honestly don’t think these people feel any. I don’t think they even notice the contradictions.

    How could that be?

    My hunch is that they have simply rewritten the whole Christian story, casting themselves and their values in the leading roles.

    The Bible is full of the concept of ‘judgement’, but it is also adamant that judgement is reserved to God alone (capital G because used as a proper noun here) and that mere mortals should leave it well alone.

    So they simply recast the whole thing with Republican values playing God, and themselves playing God’s agent on Earth. Lo and behold, it is their values that are suddenly beyond challenge, and they who get to decide who is worthy and who is not, even who has the right to live and who does not. Judgement is their divine right. And so is vengeance. And the unrepentant sinners deserving of eternal damnation are now the Democrats and progressives. And anyone advocating care and compassion and a sense of community and solidarity. And gun control.

    These people have simply overwritten Christianity’s versions of “right and wrong”, replacing the originals with their own definitions. Which means they can spend their whole lives advocating and embodying everything the New Testament Jesus spent his whole life preaching against, and demonising everything he preached for, and still proclaim it as Christianity. (And feel no cognitive dissonance.)

    They have mentally elided “God” and “Republican America”, so “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind” becomes “Though shalt love Republican America with all thy …” And that means also loving Republican America’s insatiable appetite for wealth and power and war and guns; and utter contempt for anyone who doesn’t.

    What do the rest of you think? Am I on to something or have I simply been drinking too much coffee?

    (For the avoidance of doubt, I carry no torch for Christianity. Nevertheless, there is a body of text which Christians proclaim to be the final word on what Christianity is, and we don’t need to believe in it in order to see the gulf between Republican values and the ones proclaimed in what they claim to view as their holy book.)

  73. Arkrid #82

    Other claims that all the kids are paid actors

    Yes. The cynicism of Republicans who have taken millions and millions in donations from the NRA claiming that traumatised teenage survivors of a mass shooting are just stooges of the gun control lobby is really going to take some beating.

  74. I think I buy all of #83, Marco.

    The issue about OT judgement (justice and just desserts), and to add to it the equally profound Christian roots to Individualism, singular responsibility and Libertarianism, is exercising me greatly at the moment. It seems to me that all of the USA’s pathologies stem from these biblical two.

    …with Liberty and Justice for all… looks like 2nd rate aspirations. They took their Statue of Liberty. If only they’d considered égalité and fraternité as a better basis for sharing a country.

  75. profound Christian roots to Individualism, singular responsibility and
    Libertarianism

    I’m not really seeing a logical path from Christianity to Libertarianism, tbh. Can you expand on that a little?

    There is certainly a focus on individual ‘salvation’; but in the Gospels, the behaviours associated with that salvation are largely community-orientated: healing the sick, giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, withholding judgement from those you disapprove of, etc. The Evangelicals’ obsession with personal redemption to the exclusion of all else is hard to reconcile with that.

    I guess the rot set in with Paul and his insistence on “justification through faith”. Though even that is offset by other Epistle writers (well, one) advocating “justification through works”.

  76. Marco #83

    Marco, I’ve been making this same point in here for a long time. What religions do is first divide people into “us” and “them” and then demonise the “them”. The “them” are infidels, heathens, the godless or at least holding to the wrong god. When everyone but your own dog pack has been demonised then any action you want to take against them becomes legitimised. Assault, shunning, even murder. In fact the bible and the koran prescribe murder for those who don’t believe the same as you. When religion infected the right wing of American politics during the Reagan era it then proceeded to demonise the left wing. What common ground that used to exist then disappeared and bi-partisanship became a thing of the past. The other party is no longer your opponent with whom you might disagree but still hold some respect for. They became your enemy and anything was better than losing to them. This has enabled behaviour we would not have dreamt of seeing 40 years ago or in any other western democracy. In fact I coined a new word for it in here some time ago. America no longer has a democracy – it has a demonocracy.

    What we are seeing is just how awful people can be when they think they’re fighting a holy and ideological war rather than just being involved in political debate. What Trump has done is enabled the worst side of these people to reveal itself fully. The people haven’t changed. America was always full of racists, homophobes and mysogynists but we didn’t realise just how full until now because it was socially unacceptable to show those colours to their full extent. But when the people see Trump happily spouting the same awful things as they think inside themselves it legitimises them saying and doing the same things. Every politician who said how awful Trump was during the primaries has sucked up to him after he won. His awfulness matters much less than losing anything to Democrats because they’re the enemy not just the opponents.

    However be of good cheer. The backlash is only just starting and it’s going to be huge. Trump is destroying the credibility of Republicans for ever as he reveals how despicable they really are and how little they care for what the electorate really want. 97% of people surveyed want more gun control but Republican politicians are in the pocket of the NRA to the tune of millions of dollars. The vast majority want better healthcare and are now moving towards wanting universal healthcare but the Repugs ignore them. Very few want huge tax cuts for the mega rich, other than the mega rich and those in Congress they have bought and paid for. We are even seeing that Repugs care much less about treason and collusion with a foreign enemy than they do about losing to Dems.

    This Florida shooting is going to turn out to a tipping point though, mark my words. Repugs are now alienating an entire generation of new voters who will be voting for another 50 or 60 years. They are actually attacking school children for daring to speak up about surviving a mass shooting. Whether other children in the country come from Dem or Repug families or areas won’t matter because they can all empathise with their peers for the horror they lived through and the determination they feel that other children should never have to face the same. Most of these kids probably had no interest at all in politics before but Trump and the deplorables he’s enabled are dragging them into a world where they can see that one party is sane and the other is insane. They won’t soon forget that all the Repug politicians did for them was offer false prayers and then take no action.

    Each generation is less religious than the one before. These kids don’t want anyone’s sanctimonious prayers, they want action. They will consign the Republican party to the dustbin of history and when we look back on this era in another 40 years time we’ll see that the person primarily responsible for it all was Trump. Yes sure he’s still playing to his dwindling base of old white men who yearn for the white picket fences of the 50s when women and niggers knew their place but with each tweet and each new awfulness he’s steadily alienating everyone else. He’ll forever be remembered, probably for as long as Nero, as the president who golfed while these kids were burying their classmates.

  77. Thanks for the link, Olgun.

    Admittedly I’ve only skimmed it, but I didn’t find anything that sounds like anything the New Testament claims was preached by the founder of Christianity.

  78. Yes, sorry Marco. I had another line saying it was linked to the practice rather than the original teaching but must have deleted it when I edited.

  79. Marco #91

    The cynicism of Republicans who have taken millions and millions in
    donations from the NRA claiming that traumatised teenage survivors of
    a mass shooting are just stooges of the gun control lobby is really
    going to take some beating.

    Trump is the gift that just keeps on giving, and not in a good way. At the White House meeting on gun control with a (carefully selected) group of survivors and parents, a Washington Post cameraman snapped an image of Trump’s crib sheet for the discussion, which included these gems :

    what would you want me to know about your experience?

    and even more incredibly :

    ‘I hear you’

    This is the “President” of the United States, in the aftermath of a highly visible tragic event, requiring written prompts to enable him to express to those assembled that he was interested in what they had to say, or even that he was actually listening.

    When sincerity and empathy need to be rehearsed and scripted, we are far beyond mere cynicism.

  80. As I’ve said many times in here, Trump is a sociopath, possibly full blown psychopath, who feels no normal human emotions like empathy and sympathy and has to learn the words that pretend to express these by rote hence his need for a crib sheet. He’s very bad at this unlike many psychopaths who learn how to say the right things to fool people and can simulate a perfectly normal human persona. Trump is hindered from being able to do this by his malignant narcissism which makes everything he reacts to about himself not the other person. Examples are him saying about John McCain being a war hero that he (Trump) prefers soldiers that don’t get captured. Turning the issue from McCain’s heroism to what Trump himself wants. Similarly he said of veterans suffering from PTSD that proper soldiers wouldn’t get PTSD. Then he said to the widow of the soldier killed in action “I guess he knew what he signed up for but I guess it still hurts”. This is Trump unsure of whether people really feel pain when a soldier dies because they knew the soldier might very well be killed all along.

    He’s a very sick little puppy but not anywhere close to being clever enough to hide it which is why every tweet and every news conference hurts him so badly.

  81. As with energy, the environment, health, and finance, Trump is crooked enough, or stupid enough, to seek solutions from the very people who are the root cause of the problems! – with the usual idiot’s prescription of STRONG CONFRONTATIONS – substituting for effective planning based on expert advice!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-43149694

    US President Donald Trump has said arming teachers could prevent school shootings like that which left 17 people dead last week in Florida.

    The US president also endorsed a proposal long championed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful gun lobby group.

    He pledged to look “very strongly” at calls for educators to be armed with guns.

    Of course, what is actually needed, is stupid politicians and gun lobbyists, being “armed” with an education from educators!

    “If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms,” he said, “they could very well end the attack very quickly.”

    . . . . OR just get a lot of people killed in the cross-fire!

    “Where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them,” he said, while acknowledging the plan was controversial, “they would go for special training and they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.

    “A gun-free zone, to a maniac, because they are all cowards, a gun-free zone is, ‘let’s go in and let’s attack.'”

    A dozen US states already allow concealed handguns to be carried on college premises, according to the website Armed Campuses. The state of Florida does not.

    Mr Trump denied during the 2016 election campaign that he was in favour of guns in classrooms.

  82. There is certainly a focus on individual ‘salvation’; but in the Gospels,the behaviours associated with that salvation are largely community-orientated: healing the sick, giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, withholding judgement from those you disapprove of, etc. The Evangelicals’ obsession with personal redemption to the exclusion of all else is hard to reconcile with that.

    I’ve been vaguely mulling this over since I posted it yesterday, trying to find a possible path between their ostensible role model’s emphasis on healing the sick, feeding the hungry, bringing relief to the poor, etc … and their own total hostility to such acts.

    And I think I may have found one.

    It’s the emphasis on prayer and faith. Ask, and it shall be given. Consider the lilies of the field …

    Since Jesus is believed to be God, it’s not that his healing and fish-multiplying and worrying about prisoner welfare is something Christians are supposed to emulate, but simply proof that people should be looking to God, not man, to solve their problems.

    So if you are ill – pray and have faith.
    If you are poor – pray and have faith.
    If you are the victim of injustice – pray and have faith.

    If that doesn’t work, EITHER you weren’t praying enough or didn’t have enough faith – in which case it’s your own fault you’re still ill / hungry / poor / persecuted …

    OR the fact that God has withheld a cure is a sign that he doesn’t consider you worthy of it and/or whatever you’re suffering is his will. And, as Christians, it’s not for them to step in where God has chosen not to.

    Either way, provided you’re keeping in with God, you have no need of public assistance of any kind because “God will provide”.

    And from this viewpoint, providing public assistance is to actively work against God’s will, because it will support those whom God has deemed unworthy of it.

    Viewed in this way, the mutual reinforcement between Libertarianism and evangelical Christianity becomes clear.

    Not sure why I didn’t spot it before, to be honest, but then, I regularly find myself taken aback by the depths of callousness and vindictiveness in right-wing attitudes.

  83. Alan4discussion #95

    US President Donald Trump has said arming teachers could prevent
    school shootings like that which left 17 people dead last week in
    Florida.

    He pledged to look “very strongly” at calls for educators to be armed
    with guns.

    And yet, this was the same Donald Trump, on Twitter, while on the campaign trail :

    “Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom… Wrong!

    3:55 AM – May 22, 2016 .”

    Why have a President when you could have an equally effective sock-puppet ?

  84. rogeroney #97
    Feb 22, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Why have a President when you could have an equally effective sock-puppet ?

    Yep! . . . . and the NRA puppeteers have wasted no time in posing as persecuted martyrs while “warning” the US public of “repressive government” taking away their “rights”! (apart from some disparaging comments, no mention was made of the right of children to learn in a peaceful, weapon-free, environment!)

    http://iowapublicradio.org/post/nra-leader-warns-conservatives-socialist-wave-wake-shooting#stream/0

    NRA Leader Warns Conservatives Of ‘Socialist Wave’ In Wake Of Shooting

    Just over a week after 17 people were killed at Parkland, Fla., high school, National Rifle Association executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre gave a fiery, defiant speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on Thursday. LaPierre defended 2nd Amendment rights and warned of a “socialist agenda” that wanted to strip away firearms from law-abiding citizens.

    “As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain,” LaPierre said. “Saul Alinsky would have been proud of the breakneck speed for gun control laws and the breathless national media eager to smear the NRA,” he added, referring to the 20th century community organizer.

    LaPierre, who was not listed on CPAC’s official schedule, accused Democrats of making gun control a political issue in order to achieve their ultimate goal to “eradicate all individual freedoms.”

    “What they want are more restrictions on the law abiding — think about that,” LaPierre said.

    THINKING is obviously NOT one of his strong points, or he might have spotted that LAWS APPLY TO EVERYONE! – Including the law abiding who respect them!

    “Their solution is to make you all of you less free. They want to sweep right under the carpet the failure of school security, the failure of the family, the failure of America’s school systems and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI.”

    . . . . and of course illustrating his perverse thinking, by belittling and blaming, anyone except the NRA and their stooges – especially anyone who is doing anything constructive to address the gun problem, or trying to arrange “school security” in states which are awash with guns and live ammunition!

    LaPierre ended his speech, to a standing ovation, by reprising comments he made five years ago after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.: “To stop a bad guy with a, gun it takes a good guy with a gun.”

    Ahead of the NRA leader’s speech, Trump tweeted his support for LaPierre and others in the organization, calling them “Great People and Great American Patriots” who will “do the right thing.”

    So much for Trump lying about, “listening to the school survivors”! – He is listening to the usual sponsoring suspects!

    The US public needs to stop wasting time trying to persuade these bought Republican stooge politicians to “do the (real) right thing”, and vote them out of office!

  85. Marco

    the mutual reinforcement between Libertarianism and evangelical Christianity becomes clear.

    That’s very interesting. What a despicable combination that has the worst effect on everyone from a personal level all the way to the society level. AND it’s a LOT of people that are entrenched in this pernicious ideology.

    I am often flabbergasted by displays of cruelty that are based on the mindset you describe above and these views are always explained by their proponents with an air of complete confidence, assurance and sanctimony.

  86. Marco #100

    Fox News have tweeted:

    “@NRA’s Wayne LaPierre: Right to bear arms is “not bestowed by man but
    granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.”

    They’re thinking, if only the Disciples had guns, they could have prevented the Crucifixion and saved Jesus.

  87. rogerony

    if only the Disciples had guns, they could have prevented the Crucifixion and saved Jesus.

    Because “The only thing that can stop bad guys with guns is good guys with guns.”

  88. Laurie, joking apart, it never occurs to them that another, safer thing that can ‘stop bad guys with guns’ is bad guys not getting guns, by making them much harder to get.

    The NRA likes to pretend it just represents a bunch of good honest patriotic citizens enjoying their rights, and then their Leader lifts the stone to reveal the paranoid fascistic Guns’n’Jesus platform that the Gun Industry has bought and paid for.

  89. How about controlling ammo and primer sales?
    Let the collectors keep their guns. Without ammo.
    As for the hunters, they can check out ammo with a hunting license.
    AND,,,,,,ban all sales of 223 rounds to civilians. The hunters can switch rifles.

  90. Alf, small steps in the right direction are all well and good, but this really needs a fundamental, radical culture shift.

    There is an interesting development concerning the lunatic proposal from the NRA and their Trump-poodle to arm teachers (from ‘Bone Spurs’ Donald’s latest brain fail : ” …look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to immediately fire back…. “) and their fantasy that ‘a good guy with a gun’ is the only solution. This has been effectively torpedoed by confirmation that an armed sheriff’s deputy was in fact on site and remained outside the building while the shootings were taking place, and for whatever reason did not elect to engage with the situation until back-up arrived.

  91. Roger, I was in the military. I wouldn’t assume everybody in the Military is trained on weapon use.
    In the Air Force, I wouldn’t give guns to the guys I was working with. (electronic)
    Guns in the school are stupid. That would make the teachers targets first.
    And teachers, in general are not going make good tactical defenders. Is the public ready when a teacher opens fire and hits a innocent student? Is the gun locked? Or in possession?

  92. @NRA’s Wayne LaPierre: Right to bear arms is “not bestowed by man but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.”

    Roger, I think that statement appears in the bible. The King Trump version.
    “Thou shall have assault weapons and shoot thy sinner in the face.”

  93. I think we can safely ignore any of the Coward-in-Chief’s (cadet bone-spurs) ideas on solving school shootings by arming teachers. It’s a suggestion of such idiocy it defies belief. I remember Trump ducking and panicking when a protester at one of his campaign rallies got too close to the stage with a paper placard. I guess he was terrified of getting a paper cut so I’m pretty sure the 5 time draft dodger would shit his pants if someone pointed an actual gun at him. Mind you, I’m sure I would too. It’s easy to be brave in the comfort of your own house typing away at a pc or in the Oval Office surrounded by secret service agents.

    CNN is reporting that the local sheriff’s office received 23 calls warning about Cruz before the shooting but took no action against him. Social services rated him a low threat risk, the FBI ignored his facebook posts saying he wanted to become a school shooter and now it seems the armed sheriff’s deputy at the school just cowered outside the building while the shooting was going on and never went in to try and stop it. He’s now resigned from the force.

    The simple fact is no amount of “good guys” with guns can stop a determined bad guy with one fast enough to prevent him killing people unless by the sheerest of good fortune. Without years of training and acclimatisation to violent situations most people will freeze, panic, be overcome by adrenaline and either never get a shot off or shoot a bystander. The only way to prevent a bad guy shooting someone is to not let him have a gun in the first place.

  94. Arkrid Sandwich #109
    Feb 23, 2018 at 6:53 am

    I think we can safely ignore any of the Coward-in-Chief’s (cadet bone-spurs)
    ideas on solving school shootings by arming teachers.
    It’s a suggestion of such idiocy it defies belief.

    Not only is it idiocy, as I explain here, but it is not even HIS idea!
    He is just the sock-puppet [#98] of the NRA!

  95. 109 : Nevertheless, in today’s rambling address to his brain-dead enablers at the CPAC, Trump doubled down on his proposals, which presumably crystallised in what remains of his brain during one of his late-night stints on the porcelain throne.

    As already pointed out, turning schools into armed enclaves is a lunatic idea, whose only saving grace is that if society remains saturated with easy-access lethal weaponry, the earlier a defensive counter attack can be mounted, the better, if it only reduces the eventual body-count.

    However, responding quickly and effectively under aggressive live fire conditions requires a level of training, of physical and mental conditioning, and real scenario exposure far removed from the life experiences of the kind of people attracted to a career in teaching, or even a feckless sherrif’s deputy. The likely results of these diversionary proposals can only be : shooters defaulting to wearing kevlar jackets, more dead teachers (now the obvious first targets), and an increase in gun sales (kerching! for the NRA and the Gun industry).

    Still, he was able to sound “tough”. “So tough”. “The toughest President ever”.

  96. alf1200 #108

    Right to bear arms is “not bestowed by man but granted by God to all
    Americans as our American birthright.”

    Roger, I think that statement appears in the bible. The King Trump
    version. “Thou shall have assault weapons and shoot thy sinner in the
    face.”

    Alf, I see you are quoting from the First ‘Pistol to the Remingtons.

  97. Arkrid Sandwich #87
    Feb 21, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    This Florida shooting is going to turn out to be a tipping point though, mark my words.

    And the tipping point is gathering momentum. Kids are organising rallies and there are 500,000 people expected in Washington at one next month with many others in cities round the country. Companies are deserting the NRA in droves. Teachers are lashing out at Trump’s idiotic suggestion to arm them.

    What the kids are going to come up with soon is a slogan, shorter and catchier than mine but along the lines of “You can either support the NRA or you can support America’s children – but not both”. The NRA will gradually become more toxic and the kids’ next target will be politicians who take donations from it. Marco Rubio got hit with that question this week and said he’ll continue to take donations from anyone who supports his agenda. He misses the point. The NRA don’t give a fuck about his agenda, all they want to do is buy his support for their own.

    NRA head Wayne Lapierre chose to give yet another of his rambling, paranoid, dystopian diatribes at CPAC last week where the USA is apparently being taken over by “European style” communists and socialists who want to eat your babies and take away your god given gun rights. All of this apparently being paid for by George Soros and Michael Bloomberg with help from Obama. What is going to take down his NRA though is not invading communists but American born kids from families all across the country who just want to be able to go to school without getting killed in the process.

    There is more in play here than just access to guns though. America has on average one gun for every citizen, over 300 million of them, but many countries in Europe have about 30 guns per 100 citizens and yet don’t have anything like 1/3 of the gun death rate. There’s a deep seated cultural issue in why disgruntled people resort to killing random strangers with guns. Americans are spoon fed this sense of entitlement to the American Dream, that they should be able to have everything their hearts desire, that America is the greatest country on earth. Americans also seem to have a far higher expectation of instant gratification, a pill to cure everything instantly and what goes wrong in their lives is always someone else’s fault. Combine this with the reality of massive social and monetary inequality, poor healthcare, poor education, a corrupt and ineffective political system, gerrymandering and Americans as a breed are not actually very happy people.

    The only way these social issues will be solved is with socialist type governments and even the Dems are way to the right of most other western democracy politics. The Republicans though don’t even pay lip service to social issues. They just want a plutocracy where the poor fend for themselves.

    Part of this narrative should be that socialism is not bad. Universal healthcare is not bad. Being taken care of when you need help is not a sign of weakness. Every child deserves a great education and being shot to death should not be a part of this.

  98. Olgun, that might be might dangerous in the USA. These dazed gun toting grinning idiots might think hunting children is now legal.

  99. I’m actually beginning to wonder if in the long term it will transpire that Trump was one of the most beneficial American presidents. He’s so awful he’s uniting the forces of good in a way that can only help the country. He’s destroying the Republican party. He’s energising Democrats even more than Obama did. His support of the NRA is crippling it. Basically everything he touches dies. I think he’s a bit like a forest fire that does enormous damage but clears the way for new growth.

    On a lighter note I’ve just thought what my favourite bid at Contract Bridge is – One No Trump 🙂

  100. Laurie #103

    Because “The only thing that can stop bad guys with guns is good guys
    with guns.”

    My son sent me a meme this morning that showed a picture of white Jesus holding an AR-15, and it said, “If Jesus had one of these, he’d be alive today.”

    That’s m’boy!

  101. Vicki

    ~groan~

    Ya but…if white Jesus had one of those then wouldn’t everyone else have one too? Even Judas, horrors!

    Also, if Pontius Pilate had a profitable privatized prison system then Jesus would be alive today too!

    You know, all that talk about Prince of Peace bullshit can’t hide the fact that our boy Jesus had quite the anger management problem – think smashing up the temple because money lenders were making a pretty penny in there. Why not alert the zoning board? It was just uncalled for. Other incidents as well. Good thing the guy didn’t have access to AR-15s and such. Delusional as he was, he would’ve slipped through the background check due to no prior convictions (that we know of) and nothing on record of having been sectioned into the mental health system. The authorities were on to him though, weren’t they! Plenty of complaints that went straight into the circular file with no follow up. Oh the incompetence of our bureaucracies!

  102. Vicki, #118

    My son sent me a meme this morning that showed a picture of white
    Jesus holding an AR-15, and it said, “If Jesus had one of these, he’d
    be alive today.”

    It is literally the central tenet of their religion that he IS alive today!!!!!

  103. It is also a central tenet that JC had to suffer and die so our sins (bogus charges no longer holding water for an oppressed people) could be swapped for the more subtle but powerful trick of guilt-tripping us.

    Give JC and AR15 and we could see all of Christianity crucified without resurrection. Hmm? I feel a time travel movie script coming on….. Can he have a cigar stub too?

  104. Olgun #114
    Feb 24, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    How about;

    Americas children first.

    I think we’ve seen the “ethical” Christian approach to that motto!

    New grand jury investigation of central Pennsylvania diocese says bishops protected over 50 priests who sexually abused hundreds of children

    . . . . . Different sort of Canon-fodder to the gun lobby …. but . . . . ? – the same prioritising of ideology!

  105. Laurie,

    Not reading Enlightenment Now fast enough (only at 20%). Fantastic data. I love that living in the Europe in the twentieth century I was approaching my expected death at only seven months per annum.

    My only niggle so far (as I expected) was his over simplification of the (mostly) free market capitalism win over despotic dirigisme (Mao, Lysenko), omitting the sweet spot of a technocratic use of institutional (corroborated) scientific wisdom to direct and coordinate policy. His own fig.8.2 shows how China and South Korea increase GDP at a 250% higher rate than the three freer market economies.

    This could well have been dangerous for the book’s acceptability to his main audience, had he thought and written it.

  106. That’ll be handy for reference, mod. #124

    All my copies have been half-inched.

    I’m finding un-nickability is one of the most valuable attributes of a Kindle edition.

    Ad. needed.

    Kindle, for those who love books and want to keep them….

  107. Marco #121

    It is literally the central tenet of their religion that he IS alive
    today!!!!!

    The idiocy of that concept was implied in the meme, and that my kids can laugh at that is one of my vanities as their mother. 🙂

  108. Phil #127

    Kindle, for those who love books and want to keep them….

    Just last night, I was taking my recharged Kindle back to my room, and thought to myself, “Time to take my library back upstairs.”

    At 60, it still boggles my mind how much information is stored in such small devices.

  109. My phone has a new Micro SD card the size of a fingernail and the capacity of a quarter of a million books. Filled up it still only weighs half a gram.

    If only there was a socket for it behind my ear, ported into my hipocampus…

  110. Ollie,

    This is my theory for creativity! I’m delighted to see it. Ta!

    I credit my propensity for invention on my terrible memory. I forget all my earlier attempts at a solution until one becomes good enough to better remember….

  111. Phil

    My dead tree version of Enlightenment Now has arrived and is just here next to me on the couch. I’m half way through Kindle version of Saving Capitalism by Reich at the current time. I feel guilty if I don’t finish it but it’s a bit of a slog since I have no background in economics to lean on. The information is good and necessary but then I see the state of the American government and between Saving Capitalism and the Trump wrecking crew, I’m in danger of falling into deep depression. 🙁 And then there’s the Pinker book nearby – like a sparkling piece of brain candy.. You see my predicament.

    All of my copies of God Delusion are now missing. This includes the two that were signed by the author! One copy of Selfish Gene, the old edition with the cool arty cover is missing too. Grrr! The culprits who purloined them have the best of intentions. I can’t be angry with them. Next time Richard comes around I’ll pick up a couple more copies to have him sign.

    Figure 8.2 duly noted. I’ll get to it soon.

    Sapere aude!

  112. Laurie

    I actually think Reich may get capitalism a bit righter, than Pinker’s broad brush approach. I think Pinker whilst correct on “wealth” as a non zero sum entity, misunderstands that the talent to generate wealth (the talent to both find problems and then fix them) at any given moment in time is finite and profoundly compromised by folks’ apprehended fairness and the willingness to take ownership of problems. Even more, actual iniquitous education and healthcare disables that talent. He misunderstands that most calls to address great inequality are entirely relative and that there is no evidence ever offered outside of communism to suggest that total equity of outcome has any virtue at all. He strawman’s Wilkinson and Pickett.

  113. Phil

    In light of that, I’ll definitely finish the Reich book before starting on Enlightenment Now. Even if the finer points of the book go over my head, the book delivers a picture of our situation here that cuts like surgical steel.

  114. I see cadet bone spurs has just boasted to a room full of state governors that he’d have run in to confront the school gunman even if he hadn’t been armed. Yeah yeah of course you would you brave boy. Just like you’d have been a great war hero in Vietnam if if wasn’t for that pesky doctor’s report that stopped you getting drafted. 5 times I think it was you got the draft deferred yes? It must have been a constant annoyance to such a brave man.

    Of course it’s not just Trump’s cowardice that makes this so untrue. The other thing is he can’t run anywhere in the first place! He can barely walk a few yards without needing a golf cart. The idea of Trump running anywhere to do anything let alone confront a guy with an assault rifle is laughable. My abiding memory of the European summit last year was Trump trailing after everyone else in a little buggy as they all walked to the next appointment. For someone as concerned about his image as Trump is I found this an extraordinarily pathetic sight. Especially given how one of the slights he levied against Hillary was her supposed lack of the stamina that he possessed so much of. I think we’ve all seen how much stamina Trump has. Some days he even manages a couple of hours of actual work in between his tweeting and “executive” time for resting and watching tv. I doubt he’s ever walked right round a golf course in his life. He even drives his buggy onto the greens.

    Look at the panic on Trump’s face when someone with just a placard rather than an AR-15 got too close to him.

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/us-election-donald-trump-ducks-for-cover-on-stage-at-dayton-ohio-rally/news-story/43a26f0455b24b05bd854ce259a0dc30

    He shat himself so hard he nearly knocked the lectern over.

    As we find out on a regular basis there are no depths he won’t plumb but I think trying to make the deaths of schoolchildren all about his own imaginary bravery is another new low.

    The American Political Science Association has recently completed its evaluation of America’s presidents for the NY Times. In 1st place was Lincoln as usual, Washington came 2nd and FDR 3rd. Obama was in 8th place just ahead of Reagan in 9th. The awful Dubya came 30th which is actually somewhat higher than he ranked immediately after his term ended when he hit a low of 39th. Cadet bone spurs was dead last in 44th place. Officially now the worst president in history even in what is traditionally the favourable honeymoon first year. Also the lowest opinion polls of any president’s first year, now back down to 35% approval I see after a brief bump upwards recently. These unpalatable truths didn’t stop Trump sycophants at CPAC like Laura Ingraham comparing him to Reagan though. The only point of comparison I can see between Trump and Reagan is their dementia. Reagan’s was starting to become apparent towards the end of his 2nd term and Trump’s seems to have started manifesting a few years ago. Other than that one point I don’t see that Reagan was ever a sociopath with no normal human emotions, a malignant narcissist, a pathological and compulsive liar or a yellow to the bone coward. So very little comparison there IMO.

    What Trump does do really well though is make everyone else look better than they are. He’s so consumately awful he even makes Kim Jong Un look not so bad. 2 years ago I bet most of us had N Korea up there at the top of our axis of evil with KJU sat on the very top of the pole. Now I have to say he looks pretty sane in comparison to Trump and far less likely than him to blow the planet up.

  115. Arkrid Sandwich #137
    Feb 26, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    He’s so consumately awful he even makes Kim Jong Un look not so bad. 2 years ago I bet most of us had N Korea up there at the top of our axis of evil with KJU sat on the very top of the pole.
    Now I have to say he looks pretty sane in comparison to Trump
    and far less likely than him to blow the planet up.

    I see that North Korea had offered talks with the US- providing there were no preconditions!

    The US promptly demanded that nuclear disarmament was on the agenda as a pre-condition for the meeting!

    (I had no idea the US was thinking of doing away with ITS nuclear weapons! 🙂 or maybe some people just start with assumed preconceptions!)

    It should be pretty obvious with the South Korean capital only 30 miles south of the North Korean border, that South Korea would NOT be a prime target for North Korean nuclear weapons – but some foreign air-base or invading foreign battle fleet might be!

    Perhaps North Korea should just get on with making an independent peace with its southern neighbour!

  116. Arkrid Sandwich #137

    Trump trailing after everyone else in a little buggy as they all
    walked to the next appointment. For someone as concerned about his
    image as Trump is I found this an extraordinarily pathetic sight.

    Have you seen that candid view of Trump (from the rear) as he boarded helicopter ‘Marine One’ ? Despite White House objections it has been widely circulated.

    https://politicaldig.com/donald-trump-didnt-want-this-photo-to-be-released-but-the-internet-got-a-hold-of-it/

    That balding barrel of lard would find it a challenge to walk more than 100 yards at a time.

  117. I do wish we had a psychologist or psychiatrist in here sometimes to get a professional opinion in things. It occurs to me that Trump’s claim he’d run unarmed to confront someone with an assault rifle indicates such a delusional mind state that it’s prima facie evidence of his unfitness for office. Yet somehow this repulsive delusional liar seems to have just about completed his takeover of the Republican party. Every one of the spineless cretins who said how much they despised him in the primaries has fallen into line to lick his arse.

    Democrats tend to vote with their consciences, think for themselves and try and do the right thing. It’s pretty much how normal people in other countries behave. Republicans just vote in lockstep for whatever dear leader says he wants. It’s how most cults work and those who demur get shunned. It seems to me there’s less and less difference as time goes on between the Republican party and the Westboro Baptist Church. Both led by evil delusional men with all the brainwashed followers falling into line.

    John McCain’s daughter said she thought Trump wouldn’t attack him again while he is fighting cancer. She was wrong. Trump blamed him for stopping the repeal of Obamacare again at CPAC and the room booed McCain. This decades long stalwart of the Republican party, an actual war hero unlike the one Trump is in his own deluded mind, and he’s now getting booed by the sycophants who have shifted their allegiance from one of the few voices of reason on the right to a madman who has fantasies about being a bulletproof superhero.

    A couple of people spoke at CPAC and actually dared to criticise Trump over some things. The room erupted in chants of “you’re disgusting” and one woman had to be escorted out with security protection. As I have said before, this is not normal political behaviour. This is cult behaviour where the cult leader has demonised all outside forces or contrary opinions. It is no longer rational thought processes that are driving these people, just a fanatical determination that nothing is worse than losing to the other side. I don’t think you can call it Republicanism anymore. It’s a cancer on American society much like the one McCain is fighting. The cure is to cut it out and burn it.

  118. Phil #140

    I suspect that mismanaging talks with N.Korea might be a final nail in
    Trump’s impending coffin.

    I fear that could so easily become the final nail in all our coffins.

  119. Arkrid,

    Its certainly getting worse. But GOP supporters have been getting increasingly, blindly, hyper loyal based around a tiny list of issues and stances.

    The video in #139 from 3:56….

    2009.

  120. Arkrid #142

    It’s how most cults work and those who demur get shunned.

    I think the CPAC was an eye-opener for some; there were multiple OpEds in the Post on the shameful display of what the Republican party has devolved into. Actual conservatives are trying to distance themselves, but unless they shed affiliation with their train wreck of a party, it won’t happen.

    IMO, the two parties that emerge will be moderate Democrat and Progressive. The Republican party is in its death throes.

  121. Arkrid Sandwich #137
    Feb 26, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Cadet bone spurs was dead last in 44th place.
    Officially now the worst president in history even in what is traditionally the favourable honeymoon first year.
    Also the lowest opinion polls of any president’s first year,
    now back down to 35% approval I see after a brief bump upwards recently. I see the police officer on schools security duty has defended his actions in the face of the “fools should rush in” criticism from president bone-head-know-it-all!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-43202800

    The armed school officer branded a coward by President Donald Trump has defended his actions during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

    His attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, said his client believed the gunfire was coming from outside the school.

    He followed his training by taking cover and prompting a lockdown, the lawyer said.

    Mr DiRuzzo said it was “patently untrue” that Mr Peterson was a coward on the day.

    Ah! people following procedures and their training! – Obviously issues beyond the comprehension of knee-jerk-answers-Trump!

    Mr Peterson, a veteran officer who had been assigned to guard the high school, resigned last week after his boss, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, suspended him without pay.

    Sheriff Israel said that footage from the scene had left him “devastated” and “sick to my stomach”.

    But Mr DiRuzzo accused the sheriff of “at best, gross oversimplification”, saying he “jumped to a conclusion” about Mr Peterson’s behaviour.

    Mr Peterson said he had originally “received a call of firecrackers”.

    Only when he ran towards the sound, he said, did he realise it was gunshots.

    Broward Sheriff’s Office had trained him to seek cover and assess the situation in the event of outdoor gunfire, his lawyer said. Mr Peterson did so, and then told the sheriff’s office he had heard shots, prompting a “Code Red” lockdown of the school campus.

    When police arrived, he told them he thought the gunman was outside – a belief backed up by “radio transmissions [which] indicated that there was a gunshot victim in the area of the football field,” Mr Peterson said.

    His lawyer said in a statement: “Let there be no mistake, Mr Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the 17 victims on that day, and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need.

    “However, the allegations that Mr Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue.”

    Obviously, Sheriff Scott Israel urgently needed a scapegoat to deflect media attention from the inadequacy of US and HIS security systems!

    The simplistic stupidity of Trump is pathetic!

    Teachers with concealed guns as a solution! – As if a gunman might not also have a concealed gun – and as a pupil or ex-pupil blend into the crowd of students!

    Mr Peterson’s clarification came after the president claimed he would have run into the Florida high school if he had been there, even if he had not been armed.

    “I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Mr Trump told a group of state governors at the White House on Monday.

    Mr Trump also said it was “frankly, disgusting” that officers reportedly did not confront the suspect on 14 February.

    You can just imagine some clown like Trump barging into a terror situation, blazing away at any student or teacher, who MIGHT have a concealed gun – if they twitched a bit when confronted – perhaps before the real terrorist initially became the NRA “media hero” who in confrontation, “shot the deranged Trumpy idiot who was attacking the students”!
    With lots of people with concealed guns – who is going to know which one(s) is/are the real terrorist(s)!

    As with so many specialist issues requiring professional evaluation – having examined and understood, no proper investigations or reports, TRUMP KNOWS ALL THE ANSWERS – even if he has no idea what the questions were!

  122. Marco, #143

    Yes it could be terrible for a lot of people, yet I’ve been reading a fair bit about King Jung Un and his family. He is cleverer than his father and though a psychopath also, is more stable than Trump and would love to play a part in Trump’s downfall I suspect, especially if he could begin to trade in his increasingly credible threats for big financial wins. At his back China are increasingly seeing only huge liability. They are building camps at the border to hold North Korean refugees at bay if it all comes down. S. Korea have somewhat dissuaded its youth from their hawkish stand with the Winter Olympics and the country will even more clearly sue for peace rather than justice. Japan would rather more go that way also. K.J.Un looks shrewed in his timing here, knowing that growing risks abound yet some bridges have been shored up.

    Even hawks when bright enough prefer Jaw, Jaw to War, War. But Trump, or rather his ego, must play to his gallery and risk too much. KJU must play this until 2020. If he can claim to have defeated N.Korea’s biggest enemy by facing him down and getting him fired, he will have his future secured as supreme leader along with great economic uplift and restorations to north and south.

  123. It’s certainly not unknown for people to lie about their height. Actors do it routinely and I used to work with a guy who wore lifts in his shoes because he was only about 5 ft 5. Trump, and now the doctor who performed his recent medical exam, claim he is 6 ft 3 in. Obama has always been listed as 6 ft 1 in. There are plenty of stock photos online of them together and it’s clear they are exactly the same height.

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/07/melania-trump-snubbed-michelle-obama-honored-on-international-best-dressed-list/

    Trump’s comb over gives him an inch or so but if you look at the eyeline and jawline it’s clear they are the same height. We have no way of knowing if Trump’s claimed 239 pounds weight is true also but even if it is then his BMI makes him obese at 6 ft 1 in. Bumping his height by 2 inches just brings him back into the overweight category which I guess sounds a bit better than obese.

    Comparing photos of Bill Clinton’s claimed 6 ft 2 in next to Obama where he’s at least 1.5 inches shorter I’d say he is about 5 ft 11.5 in. Dubya who’s said to be nearly 6ft is way shorter than Obama and maybe a true 5 ft 9 in or 10 in. Even Michelle Obama towers over Dubya.

    Maybe I’m just a simple guy but lying about your height which people can see with their actual eyeballs seems like a bizarre form of narcissism to me.

  124. Vicki,

    The US deserves more and better choice in its political parties. Branding may be an issue, though.

    There is a need to preserve old school Republicanism, that concern for the little guy fighting against crony capitalism.

    Square Deal Republican (or whatever).

    New Democrats at centre, and

    Social Democrats, People’s Party, Progressives, or reclaim liberal from neo-liberals so Liberal Democrats, on the left. (It must be distinct but not off-putting.)

    The Square Deal Republicans are there to maximally drain and isolate the GOP and decant any residual decency into a home they can approve of.

    I know three parties won’t survive, let alone 4 with the GOP. The middle evaporates because its too complicated for the media to understand or sell. But its a holding pen for centerists, panicked by Progressive labels. In a year or two they may find the courage of their liberal convictions.

  125. Phil 148

    Yes, I agree with all that, and it does offer a glimmer of hope.

    What an indictment it would be if KJ-U were more successful than Trump in the court of international diplomacy.

    I do worry, though, that a conflict with North Korea would be a highly effective diversionary tactic in the event of Mueller coming much closer. Who’s going to argue for impeaching the president during such a crisis? I certainly don’t think Trump would allow any scruples whatsoever to get in the way of his ego. Quite the contrary: I fear his ego is positively driving him in the direction of a nuclear strike. I suspect the prospect of having the power to launch one was a major part of the appeal of the job in the first place.

  126. Glimmer is right, Marco.

    Lets hope the movie of it can get made rather than having to depend on oral tradition again.

    Today’s movie script has Clare Danes taking up a number of McDonald’s franchises near the White House, just in case.

  127. Breaking news. Hope Hicks resigns. Says she’s been considering it for months. Trump has fired or lost more senior administration officials in one year than Obama in his entire two terms.

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