Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trump Disgraces Himself And The Country With Outrageous UN Exhibition

In his speech, Trump offered the world a black-and-white choice between the ‘righteous many’ against the ‘wicked few’.
Trump At UN yesterday, delivering "the most atrocious speech ever given by an American President" in the words of Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.)

Trump's outrageous exhibition at the UN yesterday was just that, an exhibition,  by a two-bit Queens real estate huckster, totally out of his depth, and shaking with fear.  Fear at an implacable North Korean enemy that isn't intimidated in the least by this orange-hued baboon's histrionics or hysteria. They know they have him over a (missile) barrel and they're not budging from their objectives to secure their country against a "regime change"..

The  North Korean UN rep had the sense to vacate his seat before the orange Orang arrived, despoiling the speech podium with his loathsome presence. Good thing as the mutt singled out North Korea, recounting its history of kidnapping, oppression, and missile and nuclear tests, blabbing:

The US has great strength and patience. If it is forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Alarmed murmurs spread among the sane diplomats in the hall as the deranged Trump delivered another barb. Using his newly adopted epithet for Kim Jong-un, Trump said: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

He said the US was “ready, willing and able” to take military action, but said hopefully that would be unnecessary if the rest of the world stepped up its efforts to constrain the Pyongyang regime.

That is what the United Nations is for.  Let’s see how they do.”

How they do? Abetting a madman to launch a nuclear war? They should have tossed his ass out. As it was the performance was greeted in the UN chamber mostly with silence and occasional outbreaks of disapproving murmurs, as Trump castigated a succession of  regimes he painted as "hostile" - leaving out the most pathological of all: the Trump Nazis..  How else respond when confronted by the equivalent of a two year old in the midst of a tantrum, ready to stomp his feet and cry if he doesn't get his way.

In fact, Trump's childish display with the brash, bombastic rhetoric to boot, evoked Nikita Khrushchev's shoe banging and bluster in his own October 12, 1960 UN performance, e.g.

In his own spiel, Trump played the brinksmanship card again, mindlessly boasting he would "totally destroy North Korea" - failing to acknowledge if he did so he'd also totally destroy 25 million souls in Seoul, South Korea. See e.g.

Since killing 25 million people - the population of North Korea- would be a war crime, we can say Trump advocated for a war crime and did it in the process of name calling ("rocket man").  President John F. Kennedy in October, 1962 also faced down a nuclear rocket threat - but it was far more proximate with more than seven dozen IRBMs based in Cuba, 90 miles from Miami.  Kennedy didn't call Castro or Khrushchev names like Trump did to Kim Jong- Un, he acted the way an intelligent, controlled leader is expected to - at least by sane citizens.

In the end, Kennedy and Khrushchev came to a solution which arguably spared the world from a nuclear catastrophe  - though not on the scale of one that would occur today.  But sadly, we have no sober leader at the helm but a regressed two year old in a 71 year old's body.

It is no surprise that we've since learned the speech was drafted by Bannon groupie and alt Right asshole Steven Miller. That would be the guy that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels . So much so that there are even youtube videos featuring the two spieling in alternate segments, e.g.

So, if things really do come to a possible nuclear war we may have to lay blame on a latter day former Nazi look alike.

Seriously, though, where were the tempering reins of Gen. Jim Mattis, or Gen. John Kelly? Were they simply not able to control the mad dogs that still run amuck in the White House?  Or, did Gen. Mattis really believe the BS he uttered two days ago that the U.S. could take out North Korean underground missile silos with no impacts on South Korea? If he really believes that then he also has mutated into a looney tune. Maybe one can blame the proximity to the looney tune in chief but that's little consolation to the millions of South Koreans who'd bear the brunt of 10,000 N. Korean artillery pieces - half loaded up with sarin, the other half with smallpox virus, Ebola and gas gangrene.

Morons like Israel's Bibi Netanyahu called Trump's spiel "courageous" but what would you expect from a warmonger who can't wait to bring on Armageddon?  The fact is there was no speech in a real sense, it was an atrocious exhibition of bombast and baloney by a guy that doesn't merit presiding over a dog pound far less being president. Indeed, the only logical place for this rabid mutt is confined to a dog pound, to await his fate.

The "Summer Of Love": Really All It Was Cracked Up To Be?

Image may contain: text

Image may contain: sky, car, tree and outdoor
While I didn't make it to San Francisco in '67 I did arrive at Haight Street - by car - in 2012, when I was there for prostate cancer radiation treatment at UCSF.

As the summer of 2017 draws to a close, many of us (Boomers) recall the 'Summer of Love' fifty years ago, made popular by the anthem 'San Francisco' by Scott McKenzie, e.g.

Since then I've been asked by many - generally nieces and nephews - if it was all it was cracked up to be, or just a lot of hype. Well, it was a bit of both.

At the time I was working for Pan American Oil Company in New Orleans, just off Lee Circle - and when the statue of Robert E. Lee was still there atop a seventy foot high pedestal, e.g.
Image may contain: sky and outdoor
Here, the Pan American Oil Bldg. can be seen just behind the Lee Statue. That summer I celebrated my 21st birthday with a small party of co-workers at the apartment I had on Canal Street.  (Lee Circle was about a half mile from the apt. on the trolley line, then walking)  Unlike the hippies and kids who took off for Frisco, I had to stay with "the 9 to 5"  (actually, 7:45 to 5) to earn the money to be able to return to school to get my degree - which turned out to be in astronomy, as opposed to the chemistry I was majoring in at Loyola U.

What about the 'Summer of Love' itself as experienced in San Francisco? Contrary to most of the romanticized portrayals it was actually "crazy, crowded and not a little cruddy" in the words of one Boomer (Mike Lafavore) quoted in an AARP magazine piece (Oct., p. 38).   That sentiment was echoed by two hippie friends - students Mahlon and Marcie - at the University of South Florida when I returned to do my astronomy degree in 1969.  They also took pains to remind me "it wasn't just the summer of love, but summers of love, in 1967, 68 and 69" - they said this after just returning from Woodstock.

In San Fran itself, they pointedly noted that so many kids had arrived, lured by rock music and drugs - like LSD- it was almost impossible to find a decent place to bed down. Many had to sleep on the streets or in makeshift boxes and tents. The luckier ones managed to nab $2 a night digs in the Tenderloin district.

While often crowded, grimy and grubby the kids who did get there still enjoyed themselves because the zeitgeist was one of community and familiarity. It was as if each automatically spoke the lingo of the others- often they could finish each others' sentences - according to M & M.  According to one person quoted in the AARP piece:

"What was cool was that you could join a group of strangers anytime, anywhere and you knew you'd be accepted. You only had to walk out your door and join the fun."

This was radically different from working at the oil company - or anyplace-  in New Orleans, where tolerance for difference was a rare commodity. (A favorite epithet for anyone with long hair was "fruit"). So culturally, you couldn't get much farther from San Francisco than New Orleans.

How many hippies really existed in 1967? TIME magazine estimated the total number at 300,000 or about 0.15 percent of the then U.S.  population.  At the time, as Mahlon once put it: "You have to distinguish between the real Hippies and the fakes- who merely dressed the part - but didn't buy into the philosophy of "peace and love".

The important thing to bear in mind was that the zeitgeist was not universal, so when Jann Wenner - cofounder of Rolling Stone -  said in the AARP piece:

"Ideas about the world were being shared, and ideas about the American experience were being informally passed around" such as respect for other cultures and religions not one's own and respect for the earth - that applied to localized areas.  In the gritty New Orleans of 1967, where blacks still had to ride at the rear of trolleys - those who expressed such shared ideas tended to have a short half life.  And if you had a grain of sense you didn't do drugs in N.O. ,  you did Bourbon - preferably Southern Comfort.  (Even a first offense with a few grams of MJ brought a sentence of 15 years served out at Angola)

San Francisco it was not. 

So when those living outside the "peace and love" bubble beheld kids flocking to gurus, practicing yoga and recalibrating their American Bourgeois experience to embrace other cultures and cuisines, they thought they'd all gone on extended drug trips.

Today, it's common for the most cynical among us - especially wannabe comics like P.J. O'Rourke- to lampoon the Summer of love, hippies and Boomers in general.  But they can't deny that our world has improved in a number of ways that can be traced back to the vibes of that '67 summer.  The air is cleaner (though how long with Trump in power we can't say), the nation's rivers no longer catch fire and one can actually find healthy organic foods in abundance.   In terms of intangibles, let's note that even in the reddest parts of Trump country Americans have become used to more personal freedom than their parents ever had.   In addition, seven states have now come on board to legalize the casual use of MJ  - something that even the hippies of 1967 wouldn't have believed.

The Summer of love may not have been all that it's cracked up to be,  now seen in 20-20 hindsight, exposing the flaws surrounding an over- romanticized era. But there was a positive legacy  of which the 70 percent of the population not alive then can still partake.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Particle Beams Over Jupiter's Poles Incite Questions

Image may contain: night
Infrared image of auroral oval above Jupiter's southern polar regions.

In earlier posts, I examined some of  the research into the appearance of aurorae on Jupiter. For example, on Nov. 21, 2015 I cited some of the earliest research done, by two astronomers  (Ray S. Clary and James H. Hunter Jr.)  from the University of South Florida, e.g.
No automatic alt text available.
Their paper, Hydrogen Alpha Auroral Activity on Jupiter', appeared in The Astrophysical Journal (Vol. 199, p. 517) and dealt with the attempted detection of auroral activity on the largest planet.  They carried out their observations from April through November, 1972 "usually with Jupiter 2 hours or less  from the meridian". This would have ensured the optimal seeing conditions since Jupiter's altitude would be displaced enough from the horizon to avoid atmospheric effects, and enable the greatest clarity.

The pair ended up making a total of 100 hours of observation yielding some 2,000 photographs of Jupiter, most of them prior to the planet's opposition on June 24 of that year. Still "observations were often interrupted by clouds or haze"  Alas, the results themselves were ambiguous. Examining their prime plates published in their paper (4 pages in all) I could detect nothing remarkable or any features that stood out - even in the polar areas.

Contrast this limited observational condition with one of the highly enhanced images of Jupiter's aurorae (at N. and S. poles)  visible in the Hubble Space Telescope photograph below e.g.
No automatic alt text available.

A major difference is that unlike Earth's auroras, those on Jupiter are nearly continuous - driven by the planet's rapid rotation and its volcanic moon (Io),  which spews out sulfur and oxygen ions as well as electrons into space, The latter speed along the planet's magnetic field lines and - if powerful enough - slam into the atmosphere causing its particles to glow.

Tao et al (Journal of Geophysical Research -Space Physics, Oct. 2015, p. 1002), using the Japanese Hisaki Space Telescope, measured variations in the brightness of the Jovian aurorae. They reported observing two kinds of auroral pulses. In one, the aurora brightened for up to several days at a time, and the authors attributed this to the solar wind. Thus, as it 'washes over' the planet, the charged particles are buffeted and compress Jupiter's magnetic field. This is very similar to what happens on Earth.

The team also observed much more rapid variations, with pulses typically lasting less than ten hours. By comparing the Hisaki images with images taken simultaneously by the Hubble Space Telescope, Tao et al could see these variations arose from the aurora brightening at lower altitudes, at the bottom of the auroral arc and as reported by Kimura at al (op. cit.)

Another mystery that emerged was the fact that the ultraviolet (UV) radiation intensity appeared much brighter than the UV from the Sun.  How can this be? A planet's UV radiation intensity greater than a star's?

Last August, NASA’s Juno spacecraft deepened that mystery: In a close flyby of Jupiter’s poles, it found powerful angular beams of electrons above the aurora, extending in energy to greater than 1 million electron volts. These beams shoot upward over the polar caps and over the main aurora, even where a weaker downward component contains sufficient energy flux to generate the powerful emissions from the main aurora.

Now, as a contribution to a special Geophysical Research Letters section on Juno’s first encounter with Jupiter, Mauk et al. provide the most detailed analysis of this phenomenon yet. Although they don’t know the causes, they suggest it may be the key to understanding Jupiter’s intense auroras.

Juno’s close encounter came on 27 August 2016, just a couple months after it arrived at Jupiter to study the planet, its moons, and its enormous magnetic field. The spacecraft’s pass over the northern and southern poles took it above dancing ovals of aurora, allowing it to peek into the polar regions within.  Mauk et al analyzed data from the Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument, which measured the trajectories and energies of the charged particles whizzing past. As the craft approached the auroral oval from the more equatorward regions, it saw typical signatures of trapped electrons with up-down differences reminiscent of those generating faint diffuse auroras at Earth.

When the spacecraft passed directly over the bright main auroral oval, it detected two highly directional angular beams—for both downward and upward traveling electrons. When Juno fully crossed inside the oval, deep within the polar caps, the downward beams virtually disappeared, leaving only the upward beams, varying in intensity but always present. This is very unlike what happens at Earth, where spacecraft passing over the most intense auroras find electrons accelerated downward only into what are called energy beams.

The Jovian bidirectional angle beams indicate that Jupiter’s aurora are generated by a totally different process than on Earth—a much more random one where collisions and turbulence propel particles both down and up along magnetic field lines. The team hypothesizes that this may have been happening most strongly in the region below Juno’s position, which could explain why Juno saw the large up-down differences in the beams over the main auroral oval.

It's tempting to conjecture that the monodirectional electron angular beams emerging from the “polar cap,” can be modeled using something analogous to:
Image may contain: text
The diagram shows the orbital plane of the (25–800 keV) electron's motion, as well as the orientations of the local magnetic induction (B) - out of the plane (toward the reader), and the radiated E-field which is polarized parallel to the orbital plane.  The authors' abstract (Geophysical Research Letters,, 2017)  notes the energy spectra of all beams being monotonic and hard (i.e. not structured in energy), showing power law-like distributions often extending beyond ~800 keV.   They also make reference to "variable downward energy fluxes (below 1 RJ altitudes within the loss cone".

Note that the loss cones is an important device in space physics. One uses the sine of the loss cone angle to obtain the mirror ratio relating the magnetic inductions at the presumptive loop ends:

sin (q L ) = ± Ö (Bmin / B max )

If one finds that there are particles within the “mirrors” for which the “pitch angle” (a) has:

sin (a )  >  Ö (Bmin / B max )

then these will be reflected within the tube, On the other hand, those particles for which the “less than” condition applies will be lost, i.e. on transmission out of the mirror configuration.

For the Juno observations, the equation used (see paper at link below) was:

(B source / B Juno )  =   sin 2 (a source ) /  sin 2 (Juno )

=   Juno  sin 2 (Juno )

where αsource = 90°, BJuno and αJuno are the magnetic field strength and the beam angle at Juno, respectively, we find that Bsource ≈ 8.1 G in the north and Bsource ≈ 7.2 G in the south

See also:

Cat 5 Hurricane Maria Mauls Dominica and Guadeloupe As Climate Simpletons Remain Out In Force

The eye of Hurricane Maria as it nears Dominica.
Category 5 Hurricane Maria which is seen here over the Caribbean island of Dominica 

Let's see now: Harvey, Irma, Katia, Jose, and now Maria and Lee. Not names at a party but monster storms (or potential - "Lee") acting as "atmospheric daisy cutters" and  "nature's weapons of mass destruction" (according to a recent essay in TIME) set to mow down whole islands, towns and states.

One  would have thought that in the wake of the onslaughts of major hurricanes Harvey and Irma the climate denier simpletons would put a sock in it. But that just isn't happening, even after a new category 5 hurricane has demolished Dominica and is heading for the Leeward Island chain.   What is there about basic thermal physics that these climate deniers don't grasp? Well, for starters,  that these "atmospheric daisy cutters"  are actually vast heat transfer systems - removing giga-joules of excess heat from the tropics and conveying them to more northerly, cooler latitudes.

If in fact there was no connection to climate change- global warming these immense  heat conveyors wouldn't be necessary to redistribute heat as often as we've seen.. Where is this heat? Well, in the atmosphere but especially  in the now greatly warming oceans - near the equator. Thus, it is no coincidence that most major Atlantic hurricanes spin off the Cape Verde islands near the African coast. (Where yet another storm, Lee, is now brewing).

According to the oceanographic climate science site below :

 Since 1955, over 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases has been stored in the oceans.  Doing the math this is more than enough energy to power dozens of major hurricanes, e.g. Hugo, Allen, Harvey, Andrew, Irma and now Cat 5 Maria.

But the climate simpletons insist there is no connection, For example, meteorologist Ryan Maue writing in yesterday's WSJ ('Climate Change Hype Doesn't Help', p. A19).:

"In the aggregate, the global warming signal may just now be emerging out of our noisy observational records and we may not know certainly for several decades."

In fact, the warming signal is already well defined and observed, - in the collapsing Antarctic ice shelves - some larger than the state of Connecticut, in the melting of glaciers across the planet, and in the increased intensity of the recent spate of hurricanes - including Maria. According to SciCheck, a division of

"The most recent analysis of what’s known about the effect of climate change on hurricane activity comes from the June 28 draft of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Science Special Report.  One of that report’s key findings said that human activities have “contributed to the observed increase in hurricane activity” in the North Atlantic Ocean since the 1970s. The Gulf of Mexico, where Harvey formed, is part of the North Atlantic Ocean.

The draft report echoes the findings of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 assessment report, which found that scientists are “virtually certain” (99 percent to 100 percent confident) that there has been an “increase in the frequency and intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones since the 1970s” in the North Atlantic Ocean." 

Indeed, extreme weather events  ("1,000 -year"  floods, storms) derived from climate change have killed more than twice as many people in the U.S. as terror attacks in the past 16 years - including the carnage on September 11, 2001.   In fact, the slow rolling disaster of ever intensifying climate change can be thought of as a mode of natural terror which we dismiss or diminish at our peril.

The Pentagon, in fact, has adopted a 'Net Zero' initiative to make its U.S. bases water and energy independent.  Supporting the national defense position, nearly all the reinsurance companies (like Munich Re),  have climate change factored into their tables, costs, plans.  The climate simpletons -who always think they know more than the experts- need to ask themselves why the reinsurance companies are now amongst the strongest advocates for proactive response to global warming. Well, if they'd read the recent WSJ article ('Reinsurers On Hook For Damages', Sept. 11, p. B9) they'd know why. Reinsurance is the 'backstop' for regular insurance  - providing capital when insurance companies are themselves tapped out. Companies like Munich Re are among the most energetic now to get whole communities to take climate change seriously and cease farting around and making excuses. They also want vulnerable communities to think twice before allowing construction on areas susceptible to storm surge or other threats -  many connected to climate change.

But the simpletons refuse to listen.  The real scam, then, isn't Limbaugh's claim that the media and advertisers, companies are "making money" off of hurricane hype - but that ignorant buffoons like Limbaugh are making tons of money by brainwashing their legions over the radio.  WHO do you think will be most severely impacted if another cat 5 hurricane strikes Florida?  Well, it won't be Rush Limbaugh but the sorry people who bought his hogswill and didn't evacuate because "it's all hype to get you to buy more water.' As wifey put it last night: "God, they're almost as bad as those televangelists - like Jim and Tammy Baker."  Well, maybe not quite, but close in terms of inducing gullibility.

What we DO know is the planet is currently  subject to a radiative heating effect equivalent to 2.5 x 10 7  TJ injected each year into the atmosphere or roughly 400,000 Hiroshima size A-bombs.   This in turn conforms to the observed  addition of 2 ppm  per year  in CO2 concentrations and an associated heating increase per year of  2 W/ m2.   

Result?  The temperature of the planet is currently out of balance by  0.6  W/ m2.    and this is almsot entirely due to the concentration of atmospheric CO2 increasing as a result of incessant fossil fuel use.   Now the key part, the heat imbalance is especially extreme between the tropics and northerly latitudes. If then hurricanes represent heat transfer systems - to shift excess heat away from the equator - then it makes sense we'd see more of them so long as conditions (e.g. much warmer ocean temperatures) merit this transfer.  This is basic thermal physics, but of course most climate deniers - or buffoons like Rush Limbaugh - haven't even taken a basic high school physics course

To get down to cases,  a large portion of  Hurricane Harvey's energy was fueled by very warm Gulf temperatures which rose to between 2.7 F and 7.2 F above average. Because of these high Gulf surface temperatures the original Tropic Storm Harvey progressed to a Cat 4 hurricane in barely 48 hours.  How did the Gulf acquire such war temperatures? Well, from the absorption of excess heat in the atmosphere.  As I noted earlier,  over 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases has been stored in the oceans.

Meteorologist Maue appears to try to make a much bigger case that the massive destruction wrought ty these storms like Maria derives from over building in areas susceptible to storm surges.  This is obviously part of the equation, but that alone doesn't account for the ferocity of the storms - such as Maria now lashing Guadeloupe after demolishing Dominica. Are those island states over built too? Not really. They are simply more vulnerable because their infrastructure is unable to withstand the force of a storm with the power of an E4 or E5 tornado lasting for hours.

When one dives beneath the superficial stuff, one sees that the over building in susceptible areas- whether on islands or mainland U.S. states - emerges from another problem: too high a density of people, as a result of over population. What? Well, consider that since I went through Hurricane Cleo in Miami in late August of '64 the global population has doubled - from about 3.5 b to 7.3 b. The population of the U.S. has also doubled from 160 million to over 320 million. Doesn't anyone think or surmise that all those extra people might need places to live: homes, condos, apartment buildings?
The point here is that the over building meme is more or less a red herring designed to distract from the link of monster hurricanes to climate change.

This leads us back to the question of why weatherman Maue would seek to distract or not fully buy into the global warming link, as currently manifest.   A possible explanation appears in the Jan.-Feb. 2011 Issue of The Columbia Journalism Review featuring a piece entitled ‘Hot Air: Why Don’t TV Weathermen Believe in Climate Change?’

In the article by Charles Homans, assorted reasons were put forward as to why many TV weathermen (especially ensconced in the Weather Channel) as well as a significant number of member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) don’t buy climate change. Among them:

1- Given their familiarity with the defects in their own extended predictions, meteorologists looking at long range climate questions (such as global warming effects) are predisposed to “see a system doomed to terminal unpredictability”.

2- Most skeptic meteorologists (like Bob Breck an AMS-certified chief meteorologist at New Orleans WVUE) didn’t properly recognize the limits of their own scientific training – and hence the implausibility of their pronouncing on climate science.

3- Because of (2) the skeptic meteorologists tend to see their own “informed intuition” as the source of some kind of ersatz scientific authority – particularly if the skeptics are also excellent communicators, or fancy themselves so.

Some of the paradoxical statistics that were cited in the article, based on surveys carried out by Emory University Journalism lecturer Kris Wilson, included:

- 29% agreed with Weather Channel mogul John Coleman’s take that global warming was “the greatest scam in history”.

-Only 24% believed that humans were responsible for most of the change over the past half century.

- 50% were certain this wasn’t true and that humans weren’t responsible.

-Only 17% of the opinionated TV weathermen “received a graduate degree, a prerequisite for an academic researcher in any scientific field”.

Similar trends appear to correlate to Australian and European meteorologists but not quite to the same extent as for Americans. In any case, one would not expect to find much in the way of insight or illumination on global warming and its predictions from this lot.

Meteorology, after all, is distinct from climatology -  but I doubt few of the simpletons grasp that. As I have repeatedly suggested, they need to go to:

Where the meteorologists are on firmer ground pertains to the "cones of probability" they assign to storm tracks, again generally misunderstood by the likes of Limbaugh and his followers.  When they ask: "How come we can we put men on the Moon and send craft to Mars but can't even track a hurricane?" they mix apples and oranges.  Getting space craft to their destinations is a matter of using the deterministic laws of physics - from Newtonian gravitation and the special equations of celestial  mechanics. Those laws enable incredible precision once one uses them correctly (including inserting the right units). With hurricanes,  prediction isn't the same because they aren't deterministic systems like space craft.  They aren't subject to Newtonian laws of motion but rather subject to the much more complex stochastic parameters of fluid dynamics.

But again, we shouldn't be surprised so many fail to make the distinction, especially if they've never taken a high school physics course. But this is why - while they are entitled to their opinions - they're not entitled to their own facts.  To quote from

"Climate science is one of those fields where anyone, regardless of their lack of expertise or understanding, feels qualified to comment on new papers and ongoing controversies. This can be frustrating for scientists like ourselves who see agenda-driven ‘commentary’ on the Internet and in the opinion columns of newspapers crowding out careful analysis."

I suspect this sense of false expertise on climate is related to the eponymous Dunning-Kruger Effect .  This is a cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence. And not only do they fail to recognize their incompetence, they’re also likely to feel confident that they actually are competent.  The climate denier brigade, and especially those like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, must be numbered among this sorry lot.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hillary Asks "What Happened?' The Answers Were Obvious All Along

Image result for brane space, Hillary Clinton
Hillary last year, campaigning on centrist military themes. Basically, she lost because her campaign foundered amidst a national wave of populism. By not patching divisions and picking Bernie Sanders as VP she sealed her fate and that of the party.

In Hillary Clinton's new book, What Happened,, the former Dem candidate ponders all the reasons she lost the election to the "creep" Donald J. Trump. While ostensibly taking the blame on her own shoulders, she still managed the feat of spreading it far and wide.  She has also set off a firestorm of controversy including in the D party. As one blogger (John Atcheson) on put it, Hillary "has been raising quite a brouhaha among Democrats. The general consensus is that most wish she’d just go away, with many saying she’s sapping energy and attention at a time when the party should be forging unity and looking forward."

Her most curious take was that Bernie Sanders, who incited an unheard of populist wave using tens of thousands of small donations was partly to blame. Well, in a way this was true, by her failure to pick him (or Elizabeth Warren)  as Veep - as other party nominees have done with their campaign rivals to seal party unity going forward. Think of Reagan picking George Bush Sr. in 1980 and Kennedy picking Johnson as his VP in 1960.

Given Hillary herself was an uninspiring candidate with the charisma of worn rug, she absolutely needed someone else on the ticket to spark interest and fire up the liberal base. (Which WSJ columnist William Galston estimated at 48 percent of the Democratic Party by the time of last year's general election.)  Instead, she selected another boring candidate (and centrist) Tim Kaine.  After that selection I forecast a Dem loss at the polls in my July 21 post, 'A Hillary Prescription for Losing In November, Pick Tim Kaine As Veep'.

Apart from Kaine's booooooooring index, there were other issues such as blogger David Swanson pointed out at the time on

"Kaine was an anti-environmentalist pro-coal governor of Virginia, a supporter of the "right to work" (for less) law restricting union organizing in Virginia, and he is a supporter of corporate trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and including fast-tracking the TPP. An extremely loyal Democrat, he nonetheless criticized Democrats in 2011 for proposing higher taxes on millionaires.

Kaine is the anti-Bernie Sanders on policy and on process. He takes his direction from those in power, not from the public. In a poll of over 250 Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention (by the Bernie Delegate Network), only 2.7% of them said they thought Kaine would be an acceptable vice presidential nominee."

I added:

Meanwhile, with another Neolib on the ticket Bernie or Bust people will not be energized enough to change their minds and certainly not to subscribe to the lesser of two evils again. They will also take a Kaine pick as not only a slap in the face, but also showing Clinton doesn't really support Bernie  Sanders  positions or the integration of some of them into the Dem platform

That was actually confirmed in her book, wherein she lashed out at Sanders as one of the factors (along with James Comey's intrusions, Donald Trump's antics, and the Russians) that was responsible for her loss.

In her book, Clinton specifically  ridiculed Sanders for promising big, and in her opinion, unrealistic programs. To make her point she described a scene from the movie, There’s Something About Mary:
A deranged hitch-hiker comes up with a brilliant plan. Instead of the famous “8 minute abs”exercise routine, he’s going to market “seven minute abs....” The driver played by Ben Stiller, says, “Why not six minute abs?” That’s what it was like in policy debates with Bernie. We would propose a bold infrastructure plan or ambitious new apprentice program for young people and Bernie would announce basically the same thing but bigger. One issue after the other it was like he kept promising four minute abs, or even no minute abs. Magic abs.
So what did Bernie, the “deranged hitch-hiker” offer?
  • While Hillary wanted to tinker with Obamacare and continue its dependence on the private insurance industry, Bernie called for single-payer Medicare for All which would eliminate insurance industry involvement.
  • While Hillary wanted to tighten a few bank regulations, Bernie called for the breakup of big banks, something she claimed was unnecessary.
  • While Hillary offered a complex scheme that would reduce the cost of higher education for some lower income students, Bernie called for free higher education for all.
This was not “the same thing but bigger.” Rather, Sanders was, and still is, offering an entirely different vision for the relationship between financial elites and the American people. The centrists like Clinton were not, but they evidently still haven't figured that out.. During the campaign then, Kaine and Clinton just offered same ol' same ol' despite the fact the succession of Bernie wins in primaries last year ought to have sent up red flags and alarm bells - indicating Clinton was on the wrong track, Sanders on the right one.

Clinton's book is most mystifying in that it doesn't conform to the logical basis for her premise, that is that she was "ultimately to blame" for her loss to Trump. But that raises a paradox - as one WSJ reviewer (Barton Swaim) put it, p. C6, Sept. 16-17:

"How can she bear the blame if she never did anything wrong?"

The examples he provides, along with others given (cited earlier by Atcheson), confirm how politically tone deaf Clinton was, as for example when Sanders and others pressed her about her Wall Street speeches.  She wrote in respect of that, and effectively why she never made them public:

"When you know why you're doing something and you know there's nothing more to it and certainly noting sinister, it's easy to assume that others will see it in the same way."

But, of course, that never happened, mainly because suspicion of Wall Street had been building to a crescendo since the end of the 2007-08 financial crisis - when millions lost a good chunk of their 401ks - not to mention jobs. A savvy politico would have processed that and chucked the baseless assumptions, thinking: "You know, I have got to come clean with so many of these people still hurting. I HAVE to be transparent!"

But she wasn't and that - along with other missteps, came back to bite her.   Why did Hillary lose?? There are hundreds of reasons to pick, including failing to show up in three critical swing states that ultimately went to Trump: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan - with the total slim margin of 77,000 votes,

But some 400 pages in, Hillary herself writes - after exhausting the 399+ page blame game:

"Why did I lose? I go back to my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made.  I take responsibility for all of can blame the data, blame the message, but I was the candidate. It was my campaign."

Well, better late than never, I say.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ken Burns' Series On Vietnam War A Must See For All Citizens

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and text

Once more, documentary TV series ('The Civil War', 'Baseball') creator Ken Burns has produced a gem, this time an 18-hour series on the Vietnam War to be televised over ten days on PBS starting Sunday.  Burns in a recent WSJ spotlight piece acknowledges the series" takes no sides on the war", neither left nor right. What he does is to enlist a wide range of eyewitnesses to history, including U.S. and Vietnamese veterans (including the North Vietnamese), family members and anti-war activists. All play their role and contribute to the series' staggering breadth and depth.

To Burns' credit the series is also unsparing in its rightful criticism of military and political leaders (with more than ample reason, as I will subsequently show).  These felons of history - especially the odious LBJ - deliberately carried out nefarious policies (like using Agent Orange on crops) in support of an unpopular and corrupt South Vietnamese regime, then escalating engagement despite doubts that they could prevail. This dynamic was particularly applicable to Johnson and Nixon given JFK had earlier (1963) tried to extricate the U.S. from this miasma that killed over 58,000. There is no issue on that, nor that  John F Kennedy actually attempted to prevent it by signing  National Security Action Memorandum 263. 

Burns goes all the way back to the French establishment of Indochina in 1858 as the spark point for future conflict, but the American involvement is less defined. What we do know is that soon after the 1960 election  Johnson - according to FOIA released documents- secretly courted the military to fire up American aggression though Kennedy was steadfastly against it  The back channel efforts to curry favor with the military (especially prime JFK hater Gen. Curtis Lemay) entailed setting up a network to receive actual Vietnam intelligence behind Kennedy’s back – while ensuring the spooks and Pentagon sources delivered only doctored pap to JFK.    (Months later Kennedy became aware of this which clinched one more reason for him to dump Johnson from the 1964 ticket) In many nations, this would be regarded as high treason, and anyone who did it (and was found out)  put before a firing squad.

Much of the credit in digging up the relevant records goes to Military Science Professor John Newman in his book, JFK and Vietnam which documents that by November 24, 1963 – two days after Kennedy was dead (and before he was even laid to rest)-  a policy shift transpired toward massive commitment to American military forces in Vietnam – despite Kennedy’s NSAM 263.  

In the words of another researcher, Peter Dale Scott (Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, p. 30) it also proved  that Johnson – since 1961  - "had been the ally of the Joint Chiefs and especially Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay."  Let us recall for reference it was LeMay who compared Kennedy to Neville Chamberlain when he refused to go all out to bomb and invade Cuba  during the height of the Cuban Missile crisis.

Scott summarized Johnson’s treason nicely (op. cit., p. 31):

A back channel had been established whereby ‘the boys in the woodwork’ were feeding (Howard) Burris and Johnson a steady stream of accurate Vietnam intelligence reports which were denied to the President.”

These latter were almost uniformly false and “optimistic”.

He goes on (ibid.):

Meanwhile, U.S. Army Intelligence in Honolulu kept producing a second series of reports, more accurate and gloomy. These were denied to the President and McNamara but supplied by a secret intelligence back channel to Johnson

Kennedy eventually realized the only way to throttle Johnson and his backchannel was to write and  approve National Security Action Memorandum 263 to move all personnel from Vietnam by calendar year 1965.  Let's examine this in more detail because it remains controversial especially among disinformationists and revisionist historians.

What is often actually cited as the NSAM, i.e.

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

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

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

Note the wording and that a partial drawdown of 1,000 was due for the end of 1963 and the bulk by 1965. Most lazy wannabes or pseudo-historians never get this far while some others that do mistake the "1,000" total for the entire intended lot.

Those of us (Kennedy assassination researchers) who acknowledge that LBJ had a role in his death  - at least enabling its execution-  underscore this occurred because if JFK lived LBJ's NSAM 273 (to activate the Vietnam War) could not have gone forward. Those who question this are left to answer the question:  IF untrue, why is it that LBJ found it necessary to issue NSAM 273, essentially nullifying JFK's NSAM 263? 

As pointed out by  Peter Dale Scott ( 'Deep Politics and the Death of JFK')  Johnson’s NSAM 273   “deleted Kennedy’s restrictions and sanctioned plans for U.S. operations to begin shortly thereafter”. (That is, after Nov. 21 one day before JFK was shot dead in Dallas).  In other words, the fell plans for reversing Kennedy’s NSAM were already in existence a day in advance of the date JFK was killed. Scott notes (p. 30) a draft of this NSAM 273 had presumptively been readied for Kennedy to see. (The draft prepared for Kennedy’s signature spoke only of “additional resources” given by the South Vietnamese to fight North Vietnam – as per JFK’s original instructions in NSAM 263 – but this was the part deleted.)

I advise those who want to seriously delve further into the background to LBJ's NSAM -273 to check out the information in the link below:

Scott has also correctly observed that in the wake of this perfidy most media sources (e.g. Michael Specter in the NY Times) and talking heads (e.g. Noam Chomsky)  who prattled that “NSAM 273 continued Kennedy’s policies”,  did nothing of the sort. Scott further observes (p. 29)  that "even The Nation participated in this obfuscation of the record."  The Nation?  That icon of liberal media? You'd better believe it! At times, and too often to count, liberals can lose their bearings as much as conservatives.

Let’s bear in mind that the NSAM 273 perversion led directly to an even greater outrage, the fabrication of the Tonkin Gulf incident  in August 1964, when two U.S. gunboats - the Turner Joy and Maddox-  were allegedly attacked without provocation. This precipitated the Tonkin Gulf Resolution which directly led to the massive expansion in ‘Nam.  This is something Kennedy - having changed his Cold warrior stripes by late 1962- would never have done!

The Tonkin Gulf incident, for those who may not know, was confected on the basis that North Vietnamese had fired on U.S. gunboats in international waters. This was the immediate pretext for the entry into the war.  In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that the Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese Naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated regarding August 2:

“At 1505G, Captain Herrick ordered Ogier's gun crews to open fire if the boats approached within ten thousand yards. At about 1505G, the Maddox fired three rounds to warn off the communist boats. This initial action was never reported by the Johnson administration, which insisted that the Vietnamese boats fired first”

and regarding August 4:

It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. [...] In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on August 2

In other words, LBJ and  the U.S. war hawks like Lemay used it as a pretext to demand the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and launch a war that killed nearly 58,000. LBJ had finally delivered on his promise to the military-industrial complex to give them their war in return for having assisted in Kennedy's killing and its massive cover up.

Make no mistake, this cornpone Texas turd - so blindly idolized by too many uninformed liberals-   is nothing but a verminous traitor, racist and murderer. He not only saw to it Kennedy would meet his death in Dallas (including by altering the motorcade route and venue for his Dallas speech) but also created the  phony (Warren) commission to cover it up even as he manufactured a document to expand the war in Vietnam leading to monumental loss in blood and treasure.

Ken Burns'  PBS TV series  effort revives the dark past of the Vietnam War and to the extent that it enlightens a nation too ignorant of that history, is laudable.   And while there is the acknowledgement of atrocities like the My Lai massacre, the series never loses sight of the service and sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands who either volunteered or were drafted. Many lf them  are still plagued by the memories that often keep them awake at night. They were, after all, the pawns of the warmongers like LBJ, Curtis Lemay, and William Westmoreland.

But before watching Burns' invaluable film it is also worth knowing how the U.S. involvement got started, the 'backstory' as it were - mostly only revealed in the last 10-12 years. We owe it to ourselves to learn more about how the Vietnam War affected soldiers and protesters alike. But it is also worthwhile historically to understand the perverse role of the warmongers that wasted all those years, lives and capital.

Johnson's cooperation with the military itself - and seeking to exclude JFK - was probably based on two horrendously wrong theories popular at the time: 1) The "Domino theory" which held that if  Vietnam fell the other nations in Southeast Asia would likewise fall, and (2) the "containment theory"  based on the notion North Vietnam was the pawn of the Soviets and China to expand their communist sphere of influence. In many ways, (2) dovetailed with (1).

As you watch the Burns' documentary just think of what might have been if Kennedy's NSAM 263 had prevailed, and hence, Kennedy had lived.

Equifax Critics Missing the Point? Nope - The Lax Company Muffed A Critical Security Patch (Be Very Worried)

No automatic alt text available.
Diagram on personal exposure to Equifax (WSJ, Sept. 14, p. B1)

Reading the WSJ article 'Equifax Critics Are Missing The Bigger Point' (Sept. 13, p. A15) by Tufts University business prof Amar Bhide, had me wondering what planet he inhabited. It couldn't be the Earth. Bhide wrote:

"Outrage that Equifax exposed more than 143 million credit records to identity thieves misses the point. We really should worry about what makes impersonation so easy. Why do lenders know so little about the people to whom they issue credit?"

Later,  Bhide complains about the emphasis on the FICO score which "prevents factors that affect creditworthiness" from being seen. Hence the scores are over weighted by "statistical information that ignores crucial local circumstances".     For example, "they do not recognize substance abusers or distinguish judges with life tenure from workers in plants scheduled to close".  Implying the latter are bigger credit risks than the noble, trustworthy judges.

In other words, Prof. Bhide is  fixated  more on the potential of  likely identity thieves to wreak havoc after the fact than the preventative security steps Equifax needed to make BEFORE it was hacked. But this puts the cart before the horse. It is obvious that numerous loopholes exist throughout our nation's health and financial systems within which breakdowns, hacks can occur.  In the words of one TIME columnist ('Equifax and the Perils Of Password Protection', Sept. 25, p. 21):

"In the U.S. it's almost comically easy to hack someone's life. All you need are a few numbers to access most smartphones, a string of characters to access most email accounts and a handful of biographical details to steal most identities."

Of course, the Social Security number is the essential 'skeleton key' to 99.99% of all ID theft and that needs to change. The Social Security Administration has pointedly noted (WSJ, p. B1 today) it was never intended to be a universal ID number but rather to track workers' working years to figure benefits.  What we need instead is an alternative number with vastly less potential for disaster. As long as 3 years ago, the Ponemon Institute's Annual Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security noted that the health care industry accounted for 44% of all data breaches in 2013, the most, of any sector of the economy.

In fact, a survey done by the security firm ID Experts found that 90% of health care organizations polled had suffered a data breach during the past two years with 38% having had more than five data breaches during that period. Twice in 2014, the FBI  warned the health care industry that they are a prime target of hackers and that the industry's security measures were not adequate to meet the threat.

Worse, new legislation threatens to make the illegal thievery of health records, patient data even more rampant, e.g.

But it isn't just medical records. Systems - accounts from banks, large stores have also been compromised. Much of this is owing to the fact that excess information is demanded with so many financial transactions, including asking for the Social Security number  - the key to one's identity.  Many European friends of ours, indeed, are mystified and alarmed at how easy it is to grab information on most Americans. For just $39.95  many snoop websites promise to deliver the goods, including police records, bank account balances, etc. on anyone.   Public records are also available for all voters in many states, which deliver the name, date of birth, gender, address, telephone number, voter registration and other ancillary data.

The wonder isn't that so many identity thefts and credit card crimes have occurred, but so few have -in relation to what's out there.

In a way then, Bhide is correct to be concerned at the ease of impersonation when FICO scores are about the only measure for creditworthiness used. But he's wrong that this is the larger point, given that impersonation isn't what caused the Equifax hack and exposure of the 143 million records in the first place.

We now know, based on an update posted online from company officials:

"Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability. The vulnerability was Apache Struts-CVE-2017- 5638. "

Note that the flaw in the Apache Struts framework was fixed on March 6. Three days later hackers were exploiting the flaw to install rogue applications on Web servers.  But Equifax stated the breach on its site occurred in mid-May more than two months after the flaw came to light and a patch was available.

In other words, Equifax was derelict in doing due diligence to install the security needed to protect its customers credit records. THIS is where responsibility begins and ends. The matter of "impersonation" to steal the subsequently exposed records comes after the fact, as Prof. Bhide ought to know.   In effect, had Equifax applied the security patch in a timely fashion the threat of impersonation to unlawfully adopt another's credit identity would not be a matter of priority. Thus, the threat of the hack to gain access trumps the threat of impersonation to steal the credit records.

So now, because of Equifax's cavalier approach to web security,  tens of thousands of frightened citizens are desperate to freeze their credit records to prevent fraud or worse, identity theft.   On Wednesday Equifax share values dropped 15 percent according to the WSJ. They are also bound to continue dropping.

The WSJ also noted in another Business and Investing piece ('Credit Freezes Create Chill', Sept. 14, p. B1):

"Demand to sign up for freezes appears to be so great that some customers were complaining of delays or being unable to register on credit reporting companies' websites."

I managed to freeze my credit records at all three of the major companies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) but wifey has had problems at Experian. She also found there were others in the same boat, e.g.

If you do decide to take this step be sure that you understand:

1) It is a more drastic step than credit monitoring

2) It can make getting additional credit more cumbersome, say if you plan to get a car loan in the next few months.

3) You will need to have your assigned pins to access the frozen accounts, i.e. in order to "unfreeze" them.

The process itself is straightforward but when you undertake it make sure you have all your financial data clear or on paper in front of you when you are asked the 3-4 questions to verify your identity. One wrong answer 'blows up' the process and closes your continuing. You will then likely have to send by snail mail all your confirming documents including copy of  a recent bill and Social Security card - say by certified mail.  Bottom line? Don't screw up.

The WSJ (op. cit., (2)) claims that mass credit freezes enacted by millions of freaked  out consumers will have a general 'freezing' effect on business and credit overall. That remains to be seen. In the meantime,  citizens will definitely be making a firm statement that their credit records are off limits to any old  snoop or spy especially after the Equifax security fiasco. The safest way to go at this point? A full credit freeze, especially as your S.S. numbers may definitely have been snatched - being used to change bank accounts and other personal, proprietary assets . (According to a front page story in today's WSJ, dozens of 'fraudulent calls' per week were received by Equifax, using personal data e.g. Social security numbers, to change to new bank accounts.) While a freeze imposes some minor inconvenience, it's nothing like trying to get back your identity once it's been stolen by a guttersnipe or other vermin.

One hopes that in the wake of this fiasco the other two credit companies, TransUnion and Experian, have taken note and ensured their own houses are in order!

See also: