Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hawking: Humanity "Won't Last Another Thousand Years" - Is He Right?

Stephen Hawking's dire warning: Humanity won't last another 1,000 years on Earth

In a recent lecture - televised   to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said:

"We must continue to go into space for the future of humanity. I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”

I believe he is totally correct, except for one thing: his timespan for human survival on this world is far too long. I do not give humans more than 200 years. We are basically too greedy, selfish and short-sighted a species to invest in our own long term (or short term) welfare. We'd rather have immediate conveniences like energy (from fracking, natural gas) instead of clean air, soil and water. NO species can survive very long like that.

Worse, we are unwilling to control our rampaging population growth which is already responsible for the existing inhabitants consuming the equivalent of 1.6 Earths each year. Even a math moron would be able to see this is unsustainable. see e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2015/04/earth-day-alert-biggest-problem-remains.html

We are also a stupid species economically. We waste food at a rate that is incomprehensible even as climate change will make any food crops more difficult to harvest or store. We burn up food for  fuel (ethanol) when millions could use it. We are so addicted to any energy at any cost we happily frack 100,000 wells a year destroying our most important planetary resource: fresh water- by 4 million gallons per well. At the same time leaving behind unstable pockets that can spawn earthquakes.

No species this short -sighted and stupid can hope to survive very long, and we assuredly won't.

I do not know if there is or isn't some "black budget" program to construct an interstellar space ship as depicted in the science fiction film  'Interstellar'. But if there isn't and none is ready to take off with a crew in the next 75 to 100 years, then humanity is literally for the shit can. And no, in all likelihood we shall go out not in a bang but a whimper. The whimper of too many unable to get enough water or cool air as outside temperatures spike to 120 F or more for weeks, then months. The whimper of shriveled bodies yielding to heat stroke, dehydration and illness.

Leaving behind a mass open grave for billions. The ungodly "heritage" of a species that lacked the sense or basic intelligence to act as stewards for its only planetary home.

Hawking ended that segment by saying:

I want to share my excitement and enthusiasm about this quest, so remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet,"

Indeed, because the way we are converting this world into a giant crap hole, you may not be able to look much longer and see a thing!

Sen. Bernie Sanders Enters the Presidential Race: At Last The Antidote to Neoliberalism

Lefties, meet your candidate: Why Bernie Sanders is the only authentic alternative to Hillary Clinton
The news yesterday of Bernie Sanders entering the presidential race has to warm the cockles of any true liberal's heart.  With total wackos on one side (the Repukes) and only one (centrist) candidate on the other side (one who, btw, signed on to the Iraq War and is more center-right than centrist) the Dem faithful and liberals in general had little hope for any choice or even powerful voices to speak against the rising Neoliberal tide.

Two weeks ago, in an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show, Sen. Sanders made it clear he'd run for president if we wanted him to. Well, we do! We need a voice of reason in the 'ring'  against the Neoliberal insanity, especially as Sen. Elizabeth Warren has made it clear she isn't interested in running.  Besides she has her hands full in the current TPP battle with the Neoliberal Obama.

Make no mistake that Sen. Bernie Sanders - who will be running as another Democratic candidate (making it clear 3rd party candidates have no chance given the duopoly) has no more chance of winning a presidential contest than well......extraterrestrials landing and kicking the Neolib mutts in D.C. out and setting up a new ET government.  Nevertheless, when Democratic voters finally get it through their heads that Elizabeth Warren really isn't in the game, a lot of votes ought to free up and fall Sanders' way.

Still, we know the neo-conservatives and Neoliberals hate the thought of real competition, so Sen. Sanders will be tarred from the get go with the hated word "socialist."

Barely two and a half months ago, in fact, WaPo hack George Will unloaded on him in a vitriolic, uninformed piece that basically conflated socialism with communism in a clear effort to scare off any potential voters. However, intelligent and informed voters know the difference so won't be put off by malarkey sure to come from the crazy Right.  I mean we're talking about dopes that really believe Hitler was a socialist because he used the term "National Socialists" for his party. They aren't even remotely aware of how he dispatched his S.A. thugs to beat up socialists, communists and trade unionists.

Will, like too many other nincompoops who have no clue what they write, also claimed any Sanders campaign would be yet another experiment in "collectivism".  (He reels off a number of historical examples of failed Socialist efforts to get into the political system).

In fact, Sanders' warp and woof is to control the spread of oligarchic -driven income inequality. In debates, for example, he will be able to keep any Democratic candidates honest, especially where they stand on the Neoliberal imperative. He will be able to ask Hillary up front if she is for the Trans-Pacific Partnership or against it. Also, if she is in favor of expanding Social Security or cutting it. Will she be a clone of Obama or be a true middle class champion?  These are questions all Dem voters need to have addressed, as well as Independents like myself,  who want to be able to do more than hold our noses and pull levers for the lesser of two evils!

In one of Sen. Sanders' most memorable articles, 'NO, to U.S. Oligarchy '(The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, p. 1), he nailed the toxic effluent of Neliberalism ruining this country.

"The American people are hurting. As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, homes, life savings and their ability to get a higher education. Today, 22% of our children live in poverty, and millions more have become dependent on food stamps.

And while the Great Wall Street Recession has devastated the middle class, the truth is that working families have been experiencing a decline for decades. During the Bush years alone, from 2000 to 2008, median family income dropped by nearly $2,200 and millions lost their health insurance. Today, because of stagnating wages and higher costs for basic necessities, the average two-wage-earner family has less disposable income than a one-wage-earner family did a generation ago. The average American today is underpaid, overworked and stressed out as to what the future will bring for his or her children. For many, the American dream has become a nightmare.


But not everybody is hurting. While the middle class disappears and poverty increases, the wealthiest people in our country are not only doing extremely well, they are using their wealth and political power to protect and expand their very privileged status at the expense of everyone else. This upper crust of extremely wealthy families is hell-bent on destroying the democratic vision of a strong middle class that has made the United States the envy of the world. In its place, the very wealthy are determined to create an oligarchy in which a small number of families control the economic and political life of our country."

I am glad Bernie is in this race, even though he has virtually no chance to win. Never mind, we need a powerful oppositional voice to the prevalent Neoliberal narrative that has turned almost everyone in our political system into mindless zombies unable to think for themselves. Hence, unable to help any real citizens.  We need a REAL alternative and Sanders is it!

See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/eric-zuesse/62009/hillary-veers-left-to-head-off-sanders

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/30/lefties_meet_your_candidate_why_bernie_sanders_is_the_only_authentic_alternative_to_hillary_clinton/

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Neoliberal Policies Led to the Blight and Riots in West Baltimore


Me, in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, May, 1994 - before delivering a paper for a joint AAS-AGU conference at the Baltimore Convention Center.

"At the heart of neoliberal narratives are ideologies, modes of governance, and policies that embrace a pathological individualism, a distorted notion of freedom, and a willingness both to employ state violence to suppress dissent and abandon those suffering from a collection of social problems ranging from dire poverty and joblessness to homelessness" - Henry Giroux, 'The Politics of Cruelty - America's Descent Into Madness'

First, let me get it straight with assorted nabobs and nattering bloggers - especially those in the FOX News universe - that Baltimore is a beautiful and thoroughly delightful city. I should know, I lived in one of its suburbs for nine years and wifey and I often went into the city proper to attend concerts at the Baltimore Symphony. All the hysterical babble that the city is "crime-ridden, derelict, full of apes and gorillas' is total  unsupported nonsense - and most of those talking-writing this trash have never set foot in Baltimore.

What is being seen on televisions across the nation in the form of rioting, is happening in a place that has been predated upon and abandoned for dozens of years: West Baltimore. As Michael Eric Dyson pointed out two nights ago (on Chris Hayes 'All In') what we are seeing is a reaction to systemic violence of the Neoliberal capitalist state against the most vulnerable citizens of a place that has been literally drained of what little investment capital it had and left to fend for itself.

Start with the loss of decent manufacturing jobs after the hideous NAFTA, GATT trade agreements went into effect. Then consider how capital was mainly funneled into select, upscale areas like the Inner Harbor (with its trendy galleries, cafes and boutiques) and into building massive sports stadiums - such as Camden Yards for the Orioles baseball team and M&T Bank stadium for the Ravens. THAT is where the tax money and investment went while West Baltimore was left to suck sand.

You see those young kids being  called "apes" by many of the clueless? You know how they got to that extreme of rioting? Consider how the state abandoned it's Head Start program as well as after school development programs and gang counseling - giving the millions instead to build new prisons. New prisons!  Those kids were then left largely to fend for themselves, usually with just a single mother to try to act as parent - often while holding two or more jobs.

Dyson, to his credit, quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in reference to the riots in Watts back in '65 and noted he said:

"A riot is the language of the unheard"

See e.g.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/28/martin-luther-king-riot_n_7160380.html

Dyson pointed out the systemic brutalization of the West Baltimore community, including youth especially as well as ordinary people by the police state for decades. And let's bear in mind, lest some conveniently forget, the City of Baltimore has had to shell out nearly $5.8m over the past three years for damage settlements as a result of 100 or more unruly attacks on citizens by out of control cops. (The Freddie Gray incident was by no means the first, as people gathered in a West Baltimore Church recounted yesterday evening - each telling a tale of woe of how cops brutalized, neighbors, friends, acquaitnances.)

Dyson likened the reaction in West Baltimore to an NBA foul called by a ref. The ref sees the reaction of the guy who was clipped on the jaw say - by his guard opponent - but he doesn't see the mugging that incited that reaction. In the same way, millions of stupefied TV viewers behold the reaction of the youths in the streets - but they never saw the decades long institutionalized abuse, violence and poverty that came before.

It was perhaps this inequity that inspired Salon.com contributor Benji Hart to write:

"We see ghettos and crime and absent parents where we should see communities actively struggling against mental health crises and premeditated economic exploitation. And when we see police cars being smashed and corporate property being destroyed, we should see reasonable responses to generations of extreme state violence, and logical decisions about what kind of actions yield the desired political results.

I’m overwhelmed by the pervasive slandering of protesters in Baltimore this weekend for not remaining peaceful. The bad-apple rhetoric would have us believe that most Baltimore protesters are demonstrating the right way—as is their constitutional right—and only a few are disrupting the peace, giving the movement a bad name."

Adding:

"I do not advocate non-violence—particularly in a moment like the one we currently face. In the spirit and words of militant Black and Brown feminist movements from around the globe, I believe it is crucial that we see non-violence as a tactic, not a philosophy.

Non-violence is a type of political performance designed to raise awareness and win over sympathy of those with privilege. When those on the outside of struggle—the white, the wealthy, the straight, the able-bodied, the masculine—have demonstrated repeatedly that they do not care, are not invested, are not going to step in the line of fire to defend the oppressed, this is a futile political strategy. It not only fails to meet the needs of the community, but actually puts oppressed people in further danger of violence."


While the above may cause brain hemorrhages in some of the more brainwashed (FOX gobbling) folks out there, it should not distract the rest of us from the mass violence spawned by the Neoliberal state - which I have written about before as it applied to trying to kill "Occupy Wall Street" protesters, e.g.
http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/07/why-did-feds-look-other-way-as-ows.html

Also, let us note that once the fiery reaction had been expurgated from their system, West Baltimoreans came together the next day to set things aright, cleaning up the streets and removing debris. They demonstrated collective action in the interest of their own welfare, and that the people can't be so brutally dismissed as "apes and gorillas".

Those who dispute Neoliberal fascism is a threat need to read that previous blog post carefully. Let us again bear in mind that Neoliberalism treats ALL humans not blessed with silver spoons at birth as basic chattel.   This is why none other than the elitist Bank of International Settlements, less than a month ago, proposed severe cuts to social "entitlements" globally and much more weight of economies devoted to investments - especially outside trade capital. Why do you think Obama is pushing the TPP so recklessly?

The problem with the Neoliberal, pro -free market idiom is that it denies the most basic security for the majority of citizens. In this way it feeds economic inequality while it rewards the speculator and banker class. It also helps to corrupt the political class via unregulated campaign contributions.

Jay Bookman aptly noted('The New World Disorder Evident Here, Abroad', in The Baltimore Sun, December 15, 1997):

"The global economy has been constructed on the premise that government guarantees of security and protection must be avoided at all costs, because they discourage personal initiative. In times of crisis, however, that premise cannot be sustained politically. In times of trouble it is human nature to seek security and protection and to be drawn toward those who promise to provide it. That is how men such as Adolf Hitler, and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin came to power, with disastrous consequences."

Those who fail to see the perverse hand of Neoliberal state violence as the source of what's  happening in Baltimore are not paying attention. Those who lay blame on "the black Democratic leadership"  of the city and "social welfare" for the troubles, are simply idiots. They could as well be blind, deaf and dumb for all the good those senses are doing them.

Now, recall I said earlier how money - millions- was withdrawn from youth programs, counseling and Head Start programs to build prisons. Joan Walsh in her own Salon.com  piece is very specific about this connection:


"Freddie Gray’s death in the custody of Baltimore police has drawn our attention not only to the terrible history of that police department, but of Gray’s blighted neighborhood, Sandtown-Winchester. Those 72 blocks in West Baltimore are home to more state prison inmates than any other Maryland census tract. The poverty and unemployment rate are double the city average. One out of four juveniles were arrested between 2005 and 2009. The mortality rate for 25-44 year olds — Freddie Gray was 25 — is 44 percent higher there than for the same demographic elsewhere in the city, according to the Baltimore Sun.

She goes on to write:

Sandtown-Winchester sounds like so many other neglected inner-city landscapes of despair, though it’s just a few miles from the city’s gleaming and redeveloped harbor district, and 50 miles from our nation’s capital."

And let's bear in mind the D.C. area - the capital- is the 4th highest income area in the U.S. Let us also recall how I already mentioned the Inner Harbor as sucking up most investment money!

Joan goes on to point out:

"Except Sandtown-Winchester hasn’t been neglected, exactly. In the mid-1990s, it was home to an ambitious community building initiative driven by Maryland megadeveloper James Rouse and the city’s new and ambitious mayor Kurt Schmoke. The work was supposed to help make sure none of this nightmare – Freddie Gray’s awful death at the hands of police; the terrible rioting that’s ensued — ever happened. But obviously it didn’t. In about eight years, $130 million in public and private funding went into the neighborhood, $60 million from the Rouse Foundation alone. Impressive aspects of the “neighborhood transformation initiative” were featured in Lisbeth Schorr’s influential bookCommon Purpose.” George Will praised its work on healthy parenthood as an example of “Jeffersonian democracy” in action. Its success in spotlighting West Baltimore’s problems, but also its capacity for self-renewal, helped the city win designation as a federal Empowerment Zone in 2000.


Ultimately, it didn’t. And I didn’t call out the two issues that would doom it: lack of attention to the underlying problem of inner city job flight, and the enduring scourge of police brutality, over-incarceration and the “war on drugs.

So in other words, the re-investment was basically "dead in the water" - though Joan does note that  "at least 1 ,000 new housing units were built, and another thousand renovated."

But let's be clear,  given the population and the volume of dilapidated homes, that's a drop in the bucket. (Rouse, btw , also developed Columbia - where we lived- one of the first ever planned cities in the U.S. For those into trivia, actor Edward Norton is Rouse's grandson.)

"Then Rouse died and Schmoke moved on, and the effort sputtered. The recession hit, and much of the infrastructure of the change initiative crumbled. "


She then cites Doni Glover, an activist, radio host and publisher of BmoreNews, who grew up there, charted the course in the local business journal on Monday:
When the Sandtown-Winchester Transformation Project, known as Community Building in Partnership Inc., finally closed down, this community — of which I call home — began to lose all of the very resources that were changing things around for many people. Not only did we lose CBP, we lost our community newspaper, a senior center, an AmeriCorps Program, a job placement office, a high blood pressure program sponsored by Johns Hopkins well as a couple community development corporations. We also lost a program that addressed vacant properties. All of these programs are gone with the wind.

Losses, losses and more losses - but in Michael Eric Dyson's lexicon - still a form of habituated economic violence practiced against an indigent populace. But this is typical of Neoliberalism. Indeed, Naomi Klein in her book,  'The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism' (2007), compellingly described the number the Neoliberal imperialists did on Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

In her chapter on the Russian capitalist "experiment" (pp. 282-87) she documents how a cabal of gangster capitalists under the IMF and the "Chicago gang of Milton Friedman" attempted to brutally re-make the existing Russian centrally- planned economy into a Neoliberal free market outpost of  the West. The process was long and painful, entailing first getting rid of Mikhail Gorbachev -then installing puppet Boris Yeltsin.

Yeltsin, meanwhile, made reckless promises that things would "only be hard for six months"  and "very soon" Russia would be an economic titan. Never happened! As Klein notes (ibid.):

"The logic of so-called creative destruction resulted in scarce creation and spiraling destruction"

Newspapers, magazines from the period (which I still have and can peruse anytime) depict horrific suffering by ordinary Russians as they had to beg, borrow or steal to survive - thanks to the Neoliberal market barbarians.  The sad facts?  After only a year of Neoliberal thuggery and "market therapy" millions of Russians had lost their life savings, their jobs and pensions as well as support systems. They were at the mercy of the Neoliberals for even a slice of bread and some cold soup.

Not a hell of a lot different from the depredation the Neolibs exacted on West Baltimore - much closer to home!


See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bill-quigley/62003/the-shocking-statistics-of-racial-disparity-in-Baltimore

And:

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/28/baltimores_violent_protesters_are_right_smashing_police_cars_is_a_legitimate_political_strategy/

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Prof Tries to Fail His Whole Class: Was He Right Or Wrong?

KPRC

Prof. Horwitz and one poll showing a majority disagreeing with him.

The story of Texas A&M professor Irwin Horwitz is beyond merely pathetic. For those who may not know,   Horwitz attempted to fail his entire  strategic management  class -- close to three dozen students in total -- but the school is blocking him from doing so.

Horwitz announced in emails last week to university administrators and to his class that he would no longer teach the course and would fail the entire class because "None of you ... deserve to pass, or graduate to become an Aggie," according to Inside Higher Ed

The professor said the class was being so disruptive that he couldn't endure teaching the course for the rest of the semester, and now a department head will take over.  Horwitz told KPRC the class was so bad he needed security guards in the room.  According to the prof:

"Since teaching this course, I have caught and seen cheating, been told to 'chill out,' 'get out of my space,' 'go back and teach,' [been] called a 'fucking moron' to my face, [had] one student cheat by signing in for another, one student not showing up but claiming they did, listened to many hurtful and untrue rumors about myself and others, been caught in fights between students,"

Could the prof be lying or exaggerating? Making a "mountain out of a molehill"? I doubt it. For the relatively brief time of my exposure to American higher education, I know most of the students didn't belong there. They come in to university unprepared from top to bottom, lacking basic skills in numeracy as well as literacy. 

By "numeracy" I don't even mean facility with basic algebra. I mean skills such as:

- Obtaining fractions from decimals and vice versa, i.e. 0.33 = 1/3 and 1/4 = 0.25

- Using ratios and proportions, i.e.

If x/y =  a/ b  and b = 3a/4 then x/y = 4/3

- Adding and dividing fractions, i.e.

1/3 + 3/4 =   (4 + 9)/ 12  = 13/12

5/6 divided by 2/3 =    5/6  x  3/2 =  15/ 12 =  5/ 4

I realized how far below basic competence some of these purported "college" students were during one Space Physics lab I conducted at Univ. of Alaska- Fairbanks when during an experiment on Snell's law to do with refraction and a sketch layout, e.g.
 One student then another asked how one could obtain the ratio of the angles:

Θ2 /  Θ1

And thence:

n1/ n2

I realized then I had to set up remedial math classes just to ensure the students would be able to make their way through the remaining labs!

I suspect, though I can't be absolutely sure, that Horwitz  had similar problems. As far as the disrespect goes, fortunately I left full time teaching at the cusp of the grade inflation-teacher evaluation infection, and before all the social media devices invaded the classroom as well as 'Rate My Professor'.   All of these in tandem, I believe, have contributed to an atmosphere of disrespect and casual inattention in the classroom and outside it. Professors, once held in some esteem, are now belittled on sites like 'Rate My Professor'- as well as on Facebook and via Twitter.

Thus, the profs today face not only unruly students, but helicopter parents who are convinced their charges can do no wrong, and also a social media and web atmosphere that turns them into caricatures. Truthfully, the only profs remaining who have any fun are those whose work is based 90 percent or more on research, not teaching. So they needn't worry about having to seize a cellphone (as one angry prof did at Caltech), and hurling it against the chalkboard in frustration.

Where I disagree with Horwitz, of course, is failing students by email. If they deserve to fail then fine, but back it up with academic records not merely pique at bad behavior. Hence, give them a major final exam, weight it say as 50 percent of the semester grade, and average that with the grades for other exams and homework. Then, if the average is below 70 it's an 'F' they receive.

The important thing is that the failing grade must be formed on an objective basis, not be subjective or based on subjective perceptions.

Texas A&M Vice President of Academic Affairs Patrick Louchouarn told KPRC in Houston that none of the students have failed the class  because the "only reason a student would fail because he or she has not performed the expectations for that particular class."

Again, if that is supported by academic records then they DID fail, no two ways about it. If the academic records showed clearly that a student didn't perform according to grade expectations (above 70 to pass) then yes, they fail. This remains to be sorted out.

Horwitz' last words?

"I have nothing left," Horwitz told the Houston Chronicle, blaming the school for not enforcing the university's honor code against his allegedly unruly students. "I put my neck on the line for what I thought was the right thing to do."

This is admirable, but again you can't fail an entire class because even 50% are bad applies and cheat or are unruly. You need the evidence of academic records to do that. My takeaway is that Horwitz simply suffered burnout and ought to have left long before this. Sometimes even money and tenure are not worth the headaches and ulcers if you're not enjoying what you are doing.

See also:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/05/grade-inflation-continues-to-render.html

And:

http://www.salon.com/2015/05/12/academia_is_the_titanic_mark_bauerlein_on_teaching_in_the_morally_bankrupt_grind_of_the_new_american_university/

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Rand Paul Has Zero Chance Of Any Presidential Nomination (His Groupies Ought to Quit Now)


GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul cut short an interview with The Guardian’s Paul Lewis 2 weeks ago Friday, leaving the reporter in the dark (literally) after being pressed for specifics on campaign strategy and criminal justice. After offering a terse response to Lewis on how he plans to reach both the Republican base and more centrist voters, Paul abruptly shut down the conversation and walked away from the reporter, who continued to push for “a specific answer.”

It doesn't matter as Rand Paul has no chance in Hell of ever getting nominated. Let's leave out for the moment the loopy Libertarian creed to which he subscribes which maintains the world belongs to the 'creators' (like Ayn Rand's fictional Howard Roark) and everyone else became "second -handers" or parasites. We even leave out for now that Alissa Rosenbaum (Ayn's original name) grew up a total deprived neurotic after the Bolsheviks took over and dispatched her family to more humble surroundings in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Little Alissa grew up vexed to the core and vowed that one day she'd get what she had coming to her and so came to America - where assorted family and friends, relatives handed her virtually everything on a platter. (She never thanked any of them either, according to the new book, The Age of Selfishness). Later, she found a niche in a studio as a screen writer and managed to get a bloated, half-baked novel ("The Fountainhead") published - which later became a crappy movie - and managed to find a hubby. (She also found a lover in Nathaniel Branden - a doofus who actually agreed to have his name changed to fit 'RAND' into it!)  She insisted to her hubby that rational people should be allowed to make such choices, and so arranged for trysts with Branden thrice weekly. (This was until the dupe eventually wised up and dumped her - after which - in a fit, she scuttled the "Nathaniel Branden Institute" - where lecturers expatiated on the benefits of "Objectivism".)

After Rand's  first novel she went on to write other folderol as well as developing the hokey philosophy called Objectivism. Basically it maintained that selfishness is the true virtue and we all ought to practice it. At least those who aspire to be "individualists"  as opposed to parasites sucking on the marrow of winners! Every man for himself, devil take the hindmost and all that. This garbage later became the fodder for Neoliberalism as well as the fuel that nearly brought down the economy in 2008- given one of her former acolytes (Alan Greenspan) was full tilt approving of an unregulated derivatives market. And so it goes.

Back to the other "Rand", Rand Paul. First, the guy has zero chance of winning anything national or major given all the reasons I cited in this prior post:

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2014/07/why-libertarians-will-never-win.html

But more disconcerting for him, as an expose of his sordid campaign in Mother Jones notes, is that it's already been tarred and permanently. It is guaranteed to implode sometime in the near future and all bets will be off for anyone dumb enough to back this guy. (Even forgetting for the moment he already walked back one of his key principles, of not extending military might into the Middle East or anywhere else - which had at least rendered him partly preferable - say to Ted Cruz or Chris Christie)

The "time bomb" associated with the Paul campaign would shock the living hell out of the centrists and Millennials to whom Paul is trying to appeal. In fact, it involves a bunch that goes by the title, The National Right to Work Committee which has a mantra - according to one ex -staffer (MJ, May-June, 2015, p. 52):

"We're Right to Work. We hate everybody"

Ha! Charming bunch of douchebags!   Oh, another thing they won't tell you is that the group's origin is firmly on the far right. (Got that, centrists?) Their longest serving President was, in fact, Reed Larson, affiliated with the John Birch Society. For those short on political history the John Birch Society was almost the biggest bunch of nuts around in the 1960s.

But anyway, this sordid background isn't Rand Paul's biggest problem. No, that attaches to Paul's campaign picking up a former NRTWC operative named Kent Sorenson- also a former Iowa state Senator.  After "secretly negotiating for months to lure Sorenson from the Bachmann campaign" back in 2011 the Randians finally got their wish. But the problem is it looks now more like  serious liability.

Reason?

"The Sorenson deal exploded into public view in 2013 thanks to a pair of whistleblowers from the Ron Paul and Bachmann campaigns and the episode now hangs over Rand Paul and his inner circle like a cloud". (Ibid.)

This could be because "Sorenson pleaded guilty last year to two criminal charges for which he faces up to 25 years in prison."  As MJ goes on to note (ibid.)

"It has pulled back the curtain on the roguish band of advisors, political organizers and fundraisers whose sometimes sketchy tactics have fueled Rand Paul's political ascent. This crew - call it Paul World- reflects the damn the rules, libertarian world view of the candidate himself".


As I noted in a previous blog post:

The libertarians espouse a philosophy which cannot possibly work in the real world - because that world implicitly recognizes and declares government the primary agent of force, i.e. to enforce laws. Look around for a "force-less" government, i.e. which retains adherence and respect for its laws with no use of force.

So it would be quite natural for a Libbie like Rand (or his campaign) to disregard all laws, rules and regulations and act like they're in the Wild West. This is given, as Charles Murray has written ('What it means to be a Libertarian (p. 6)::

"...the first libertarian principle of governance: In a free society individuals may not initiate the use of force against any other individual or group."

As I went on to note:

If governments aren't enabled to enforce their laws , what’s the point? It’s all an exercise in mental masturbation. People can do whatever the hell they want!  Set up sex store emporiums or pot shops next to schools, or sell cocaine  and semi-automatic weapons in open stalls on the sidewalks of major cities!  Freedom thereby becomes perverted into a veritable "free for ALL". In other words, unless governance declares limits to actions - and someone (coercively) enforces governance, a functional society becomes  impossible.


Could we really afford having a nut like Rand Paul as President? Think about it! Do you really want what's left of our society to become totally dysfunctional - say like Paul's current campaign - running along with a hidden "bomb" (Sorenson) soon to go off?  More, do you want a guy who tries to appeal to centrism and reason but secretly harbors extremist right nuts whose motto is We hate everybody?

Young people who believe Rand Paul is the answer to all their political concerns and yearnings need to take note, and perhaps now take the time to consider backing another "horse". One not crippled by toxic baggage!

Obama's Over the Top Rhetoric on TPP Risks Splitting the Democratic Party

Democrats’ free trade war is getting ugly, and Obama is bending the truth

As I've said many times before, I am not an Obama-bot or mindless, blind follower of Obama. When he is right  (as on the Keystone pipeline veto and improving relations with Cuba) I will deliver kudos and plaudits, but when he is wrong - as he is on the TPP- I will not hesitate to go after him and criticize him.  This is what a true democracy and freedom of speech is about. (Apart from which I am not a Democrat but an Independent - so pride myself on being "non-partisan" in the sense of presidential adulation.)

Now it is time to go after him again. Obama has allowed his sense of self-righteousness, entitlement and power to get ahead of him regarding the current debate (with Sen. Elizabeth Warren) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. In the most recent barrage, on Friday, Obama  accused Warren and congressional Democrats of being "dishonest" and spreading "misinformation" about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But by far the worst insult is when Obama actually compared TPP critics to "Sarah Palin touting death panels", to do with Obamacare.  Are you fucking kidding me? Those are fighting words, and Senators Warren and Sherrod Brown didn't take them kindly.

Especially as, according to 'Common Dreams':

"It was an unusually aggressive attack for the president -- accusing members of his own party not of having misplaced priorities, but of actively working to deceive the public. Obama is rarely so severe even with his Republican opponents. "

So again, one wonders if these are Obama's own ill-advised words, or if it's some duncie numbskull advisor telling him to say them to expedite this shady TPP baloney without "upstarts" from the left giving him problems. This recalled putdowns by his former press secretary Robert Gibbs and later, angry remarks made a number of years ago by another toad, Rahm Emmanuel - who referred to liberals at one White House meeting as "f*cking retards".  That despicable outburst and putdown has burned forever in progressive brains and explains why many aren't prepared to take any shit now, including from Obama or any of his minions.


In any case it was dumb, precipitous and only stirred more rancor. Obama ought to damned well know better, especially with a critical mid-term election coming up next year and the Dems with a chance to win back 5 seats to re-take the Senate.

Obama actually  said that the Democratic criticism that "gets on [his] nerves the most" is the notion that his TPP pact is "secret," and went on to insist that the terms of TPP will help American workers.

All of which is patented hogshit. For once Obama needs to come clean and tell the truth. The TPP IS secret since it is classified on account of "ongoing negotiations" (by corporo-lobbyists) and the only way we know anything is thanks to leaks. Neither Obama or any of his people in his administration have given us duck squat.  From the existing leaks  according to Public Citizen, we know that the "TPP could ship millions of good-paying US jobs overseas.  We also know that the TPP could increase the costs of health care and medicine, while hurting health and safety standards. And we know that the TPP could make corporations even stronger and undo what few reforms are left on Wall Street."

So he's talking trash about  the TPP not being secret, and indeed, after refusing to allow release of the JFK assassination files from the National Archives in 2013 and continuing to prosecute whistle blowers (under the 1917 Espionage Act), we already know the Obama administration is the most secretive in history, see e.g.

http://time.com/27443/study-obama-administration-more-secretive-than-ever/

SO who is fooling WHOM?  As for Obama's lame claim that it "will help American workers" we have only his words to go by. Sure, he may want to burnish his legacy but we still need to see the actual documents because no matter how much a "good guy" a prez may believe he is - so he wouldn't jeopardize his legacy - he ought to have the sense to realize that real citizens still need independent  confirmation of  that, not merely taking him at his word. (And btw, this is also a wakeup call for Hillary to come clean and announce where she stands on the TPP)

Anyway, on Saturday, Sen. Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded with a letter "essentially telling Obama to put up or shut up" - according to Common Dreams. . If the deal is so great, Warren and Brown wrote, the administration should make the full negotiation texts public before Congress votes on a "fast track" bill that would strip the legislative branch of its authority to amend it.  Warren and Brown's request is totally reasonable and such disclosure is a touchstone of democracy. (Which is also why we expect GMO foods to be labeled!)  On the other hand, if we are no long a democracy but a corporatocracy, with the deal being written by lobbyists - then it is no wonder it would be kept under wraps, or that GMO purveyors would decry labeling. Where the wonder arises is in a President who claims to be acting in our interest and promised "full transparency" at the outset of his first term in office- but now conveniently hurls it into a ditch. What the hell happened to that full transparency?

As the two protesting Senators wrote (letter obtained by The Huffington Post):

"Members of Congress should be able to discuss the agreement with our constituents and to participate in a robust public debate, instead of being muzzled by classification rules"

This references the fact that Democrats  and some Republican critics have been particularly frustrated by Obama's decision to treat the TPP documents as classified information, which prevents them from responding to Obama's claims about the pact in detail.

Why "classified"? The only reason would be to prevent open disclosure, to keep aspects hidden that would be known in advance to arouse lots of public ire.

The Senators went on:

"Your Administration has deemed the draft text of the agreement classified and kept it hidden from public view, thereby making it a secret deal. It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while you noted that Members of Congress may 'walk over ... and read the text of the agreement' -- as we have done -- you neglected to mention that we are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public."

Again, confirming an enraged public would  result if the details were actually known.

Warren and Brown were particularly miffed at being accused of lying, as they ought to be. This is shameful rhetoric more consistent with an asshole like Rahm Emmanuel than a President who supposedly has made the people's welfare  a priority.  At first, I had to read Obama's remarks several times, then wondered what kind of "choom" this guy had been smoking. He's never used such invective on the GOP including  their Tea Party faction which often depicted him as the Antichrist, e.g.

As well as portraying him as a "witch doctor" while dissing Obamacare. Why didn't Obama get as apoplectic about this misrepresentation as he is now with Liz Warren? Why can't he be honest when he tries to compare us with Sarah Palin  and her "death panels" garbage? Anyway, the letter goes on:

"We respectfully suggest that characterizing the assessments of labor unions, journalists, Members of Congress, and others who disagree with your approach to transparency on trade issues as 'dishonest' is both untrue and unlikely to serve the best interests of the American people,"

Common Dreams went on to note:

"Some of Obama's claims about TPP on Friday took some creative license with the truth. He said that he wanted a trade deal that would allow American automakers to sell more cars overseas, without mentioning that Ford and autoworker unions do not support the pact. He also said that he had not included any language barring currency manipulation -- a key tactic by which Japan and China undercut American production -- because it might hamper the Federal Reserve's monetary policy operations"

Most brutal, according to Common Dreams:

The Warren-Brown letter also includes a subtly vicious Democrat-on-Democrat dig, suggesting that Obama's trade transparency record is worse than that of former President George W. Bush. They note that Bush published the full negotiation texts of a major free trade deal with Latin America several months before Congress had to vote on giving the deal fast track benefits. The Obama administration has resisted calls to follow suit with TPP.he

Here we see the potential for a Democratic Civil war. A total circular firing squad. A plausible demolition of any coalition that might enable a Dem Senate takeover next year.

Joan Walsh on salon.com has written (http://www.salon.com/2015/04/27/democrats%e2%80%99_free_trade_war_is_getting_ugly_and_obama_is_bending_the_truth/)

 "In fact, here are three big ways the president is lamentably shading the truth when it comes to TPP.

1. Secrecy: It’s true that members of Congress can personally “walk over” and “read the text” of the agreement. Alone, without staff, and without taking notes. And they’re prohibited by law from discussing the details with the media or their constituents.  The administration has deemed the negotiations “classified.”

When Rep. Brad Sherman, a TPP critic, told Salon’s David Dayen that’s the only way members of Congress can review the text, it reminded me of the way they can review sensitive intelligence and national security issues they’re overseeing.

2. Marginalizing opposition as Warren and “the unions.” Warren is joined by Democrats ranging from frequent ally Brown to pro-business voices like Sen. Chuck Schumer to moderate Sen. Bob Casey. While the president hoped to win support from the Congressional Black Caucus, skeptics remain. And yes, labor has been a loud voice against the deal – along with the rest of the Democratic base, and then some.

The coalition opposing TPP includes the National Resources Defense Council, Doctors without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation; critics of certain aspects of the likely deal include New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and the AARP. They are concerned about the way TPP could affect not only manufacturing jobs, but drug prices, intellectual property, environmental regulation and food safety. Obama is facing a remarkably broad-based pushback to his plans, and his effort to isolate Warren and unions is disingenuous.

3. Denying the vast, pro-corporate power of the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” panel. The wrangling between Warren and the White House over TPP isn’t new. Ever since her March 4 op-ed denouncing the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” provisions of the trade deal, frankly, administration officials have been trying to make Warren look a little batty.

The ISDS process – a private arbitration system that replaces public courtrooms as the venue for conflict  resolution — is common in trade deals. It began as an effort to protect Western corporations from capricious (and/or populist) governments in developing countries. Warren argued that the ISDS provisions in the TPP “would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws.”  The Obama administration countered by saying that “ISDS does not and cannot require countries to change any law or regulation,” and that the U.S. has never lost an ISDS case anyway.

That’s true, too – if misleading. An adverse ISDS decision doesn’t “require” nations to change laws or regulations; they can pay a steep fine instead. It’s also true the U.S. hasn’t ever lost such a case, but this is the largest trade agreement in history, covering a third of the world’s commerce. That could change.

Just as important, it lets U.S. corporations, and other big multinationals, bully other countries. Famous examples involve tobacco — American tobacco firms have challenged restrictions on packaging in Australia and Canada – mining and fracking "
----

Obama needs to decide WHOSE side he is on, and whether he stands with the Neoliberal punks, poltroons and parasites or the PEOPLE.  Also whether he really supports truth and transparency or continued obfuscation and attacking democratic principles and fellow Dems. He also needs to recognize who his real enemies are, those who depict him as a tribal Witch doctor and "son of Satan" or those who support him in general  - but demand he live up to principles and the Constitution as JFK would have done.

See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/dean-baker/61981/the-battle-over-the-trans-pacific-partnership-and-fast-track-gets-hot

Excerpt:

"The rules in the TPP can be used to challenge any consumer, labor, or environmental regulation approved at the state, local or federal level. The enforcement powers will rest with an extra-judicial dispute settlement mechanism that will impose penalties that are not subject to appeal.

On this issue President Obama's assurance that the TPP will not challenge financial regulation or other types of regulation are worthless. He has no idea what sort of people will be appointed to these tribunals in future years."

and:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/dave-johnson/61941/obama-says-critics-of-trade-deal-sound-like-palin-touting-death-panels

Excerpt:

"The President’s alignment with Republicans, Wall Street, and corporate lobbying organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, and against progressives, labor, and almost all Democrats to push TPP is frustrating Democrats across the board"

Enraging us is more like it!

The "Trial of the Century" Begins - BUT - Should James Eagan Holmes Be Found Insane?


Holmes, right, soon after being apprehended in July, 2012, and left the 'Joker' persona that erupted from his submerged consciousness

The 'Trial of the Century' marking perhaps one of the few times a mass murderer didn't off himself - begins today in Arapahoe County, Colorado. This is the trial of James Eagan Holmes, the Aurora Theater mass killer. The horrific tragedy left at least 12 dead and 58 wounded, and  stands beyond comprehension in the annals of state mayhem, including the 1999 Columbine Massacre in Littleton.. Hundreds of people had thronged joyously into an Aurora Century -16 cinema, to see the midnight premier of 'The Dark Night Rises' only to be greeted by gunfire 25 minutes into the film. The shooter, evidently armed with two large  (0.40 cal) Glock automatic handguns, and a Smith and Wesson MP15 assault rifle, mowed down fleeing theater goers at will, as blood spattered all over the cinema floor. Many of those who survived did so not by fleeing (because the shooter waited for victims to bolt to the exit), but by lying low or playing dead between the seats.

The state and its prosecutors will be out to execute Holmes, but his team of public defenders, including Tamara Brady, Daniel King, Kristen Nelson, Katherine Spengler and Rebekka Higgs - will be out to prove that he doesn't deserve to die as he was insane at the time and didn't know what he was doing.

Do they have a case or not? Let us recall a person cannot be tried for a crime unless he is competent to stand trial. To be competent, he must be oriented as to time and place, comprehend the charges against him, appreciate his legal peril, recall the events that caused him to be charged, and be able to communicate with and assist their attorneys to defend him.

Holmes meets all of these criteria except one - he doesn't recall the events that caused him to be charged. .  Indeed, according to the (UK) Telegraph at the time, Holmes claimed that he did not recall the incident, period.. If that is true, he is incompetent to stand trial- but the state didn't buy it - so he is standing trial.

The issue of insanity remains and whether he knew what he was doing at the time and could be responsible for it. This is where Holmes' public defenders are making their stand, and let us note that according to The Denver Post yesterday (p. 1A) Holmes has already offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. But the prosecution, determined to exact ultimate punishment, refused. In a way this is mystifying, as it would have spared the affected families from years more appeals and motions - which the defense team has made clear they will invoke. And, let's be clear - being locked away for life in a high security prison - to especially have regrets aroused in later years, is no 'walk in the park'. To then think of what one could have been, and achieved, and then be forced to contemplate the reality.
 
We consider now the  defense team's claim of Holmes'  insanity at the time. How solid is it?

To recall for readers, The DSM-III, IV, V (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders) provides a classification of personality disorders and identifies 'clusters' within which specific disorders can occur. These include:

(A) Schizotypal, paranoid and schizoid personality disorders ('odd, eccentric' cluster)

(B) Borderline, narcissistic, histrionic and anti-social personality disorders ('dramatic, emotional, erratic')

(C) Submerged: Avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive, passive aggressive personality disorders('anxious, fearful')

Each Cluster has discrete tendencies within itself:

(A) -> withdraw (no wants from others)

(B) -> exploit (want from others without seeing or responding to what others want from them)

(C) -> comply (want from others, but yields only to others' wants to avoid conflict)

As I showed in my several  blog posts in July, 2012, beginning with Deconstruction of a Psycho Holmes' profile and attributes (as we have assimilated them from sundry reports) fit in with the tendencies in the last (C) ensemble and hence fit the profile of a submerged personality, not a schizophrenic. Also, I have had the experience of observing paranoid schizophrenics at the Black Rock (Barbados) Mental Health Sanatorium in the 70s, and NONE of them demonstrated any capacity for mega-violence of the form James Eagan Holmes manifested via his aggressive pseudo-ego,  the Joker. 

The question again arises: Why should he not recall the event? As I explained in my 'Parsing of the Submergent Psycho- Part II  his incarceration "has torpedoed the 'Joker' (the aggressive pseudo-ego) who is thereby rendered impotent and inactive. What we are seeing is the first emergence of Holmes' authentic self and the expected SHOCK because frankly, HE doesn't know what the hell happened! After all, it was the pseudo ego 'Joker' that did the deed, then vacated or was vacated. Now, the authentic or previously submerged ego is left to wonder what the hell is going on."

So no wonder he has that vacant, million light years distant stare on his face. I also added (in the same blog):

"His self has been dissociated, and the guilty perp -ego is now gone, fled the coop as it were, to leave the authentic 'James Holmes' ego and self to bear the cost"

In other words, to spell it out, Holmes as his authentic (earlier submerged) self, truly can't recall the incident or what he did. He can't because a distinct, different ego (self) perpetrated it. This aggressive pseudo ego masterminded all the planning, as well as execution, while Holmes' submerged self was unavailable and 'out for the count'. His contact with therapist Lynne Fenton may actually have been a last ditch desperate effort to contact the mother-pseudo ego for some kind of relief. (With Fenton embodying the mother ego). We may never know. 

The other real horror (apart from the lives shattered and lost at the theater) may be that the authentic self - who had no clue what was transpiring - may be executed for what his alter ego ("Joker")  did to those 70 people at an Aurora movie theater. 

If this sounds nutso, then further elaboration on "simpleton theory" is needed.  Neuroscientist Robert Ornstein ('The Evolution of Consciousness')  has associated specific modes of behavior with particular neuronal sub-assemblies to assign relatively distinct units of dominant behavior. He calls these sub-units "simpletons"

For example, every human {H} will be a composite of a number of simpletons, say:


{H} = [A] + [P] + [L] + [R] + ........


where [A] = Altruistic, [P] = Playfulness,[L] = lustful, [R] = reflective and so on.

A dozen or more such "simpletons" may "inhabit" each human brain - and come to the fore if the correct stimulus appears. As each one comes to the fore it represents one side of the Self. Note: this is not the same as saying "multiple selves" as in schizoid splitting or split personality. Each 'self' is legit and valid, since it arises from the person's own neuronal sub-assemblies.

Thus, a "hostile-aggressive" simpleton may appear if one is cut off in a lane of traffic, or is chewed out by one's boss. A "lust" simpleton may appear for any number of stimuli-images which I won't bother to detail, but which anyone can imagine! A "caring-loving" simpleton may appear in response to words of endearment, or an affectionate hug from one's spouse, or child. A "comic" simpleton may appear spontaneously - and proceed to play a practical joke, or take a humorous perspective on everything for the time it is "in control".

Ornstein points out that many humans "require time to get their simpletons in place" for particular situations. A father of two young children may need a half hour or more after he arrives home from work to "chill out" to allow his "hostile-aggressive" simpleton (say after getting snarled in a traffic jam)  to depart, to make way for the "loving-caring" simpleton that can address his children's needs - without yelling at them, criticizing them or swatting them upside the head.

The consequences of simpleton theory as it pertains to crime - especially as in the Holmes' case - are mind boggling and include two aspects for consideration:

i) The typical human is not one steady persona (identity) but up to a dozen or more living together, with more or less equal power shared unless a disequilibrium event manifests.

ii) For a given misdeed or crime, which simpleton (brain sub-system) do you hold accountable? If you hold the whole person accountable you are perhaps assuming more than is warranted by our current brain architecture and its dynamic interplay. After all, why should one's WHOLE self be held accountable because the Lust simpleton briefly got out of control? Or because one's murderous-rage simpleton did? 

In Holmes' case it appears a second "pseudo ego”  was created to defend and protect his submerged, fragile true ego. This pseudo ego then evolved under duress to become the most powerful simpleton in his neural array -  “the Joker

What duress? Tragically, by the time Holmes’ protector ego (“Joker”) was released, it was already out of control on account of the cumulative stresses on the real self.  Everyone  in Holmes' world then became identified with the introjected parental or authority ego. The warped perception of the defender ego ("Joker") then decided the only way to achieve liberation from the introjected “parent” was to eliminate all who were seen as in its way. In this case, all “normal”, i.e. non-submerged people. 

Those whose personalities had not been coerced into psychological lockdown and submergence by a dominating parent. An alternate possibility, perhaps more convincing, is that the retributional "Joker" persona felt outraged and murderously envious of those normal folk (say in socialized units present at the theater) who were not developmentally stymied and hence whose lives were available for rich and authentic experience.

Why would the Ph.D. level have been the one that finally triggered release of Holmes’ Joker? I suspect that Holmes, lacking an authentic personality, was unable to deal with the extraordinary research demands at the Ph.D. level which necessitate originality. I mean, even if the thesis advisor offers you a thesis subject, you still must have the ability to carry out an original theory! It’s not simply like piling up As and making “honors” at lower levels. No real originality is needed to make the "Dean's List", after all. Even brilliance, so-called, doesn't assure originality at a high research level! (Aside: we know from a Denver 7 News report  at the time by Keli Rabon that Holmes failed a preliminary oral exam before pulling out of the neurosciences program at the Anschutz campus of University of Colorado. A day later he purchased his most lethal weapon, the Smith and Wesson MP15.  The ego fracturing stress had now been maximized.)

What Tamara Brady and her defense team colleagues need to do, if they wish to have Holmes' life spared, is use simpleton theory in concert with submerged personality disorder,  as a basis for why he can't be held responsible for his actions at the time . This is because a more powerful pseudo-persona gained control of him (owing to his weak, submerged authentic ego).. Hence, his real consciousness was detached from the events which is why he can't recall anything now. In a very literal sense, his real self was an innocent bystander that could only watch as his body was taken over by the secondary pseudo-ego in the form of "the Joker".

I personally doubt this will fly - but it may be the only chance Holmes and his defense team has. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Way To Eliminate Food Stamps: Distribute Free Food Via the 'Good Samaritan' Act!


With my late brother, John, at a Vegas buffet in 2006. The Vegas Strip buffets waste on average 375 tons of food a day - much of it never touched.

The recently shown (on MSNBC)  documentary film 'Just Eat It' examined how one couple (Jen and Grant) lived 6 months exclusively relying on thrown out food - for which they spent a total of $200. In all they estimated they rescued $20,000 of tossed out food - mainly perfectly fine veggies, fruit and packaged food - hurled into dumpsters by retail stores, supermarkets. Why? Because the assorted food either was "geometrically challenged" (i.e. malformed bananas, apples or zucchini) or was within 3 or so days of the  "use by" date.

In all, the volume of food waste the couple encountered was mind boggling, and we aren't talking scraps or "garbage" here, but perfectly fine food which they were seen subsequently preparing as assorted dishes to restaurant quality standards.  (The couple video -catalogued everything they got and also the final dishes - arranged in arrays.) 

The whole theme of the 50 minute odd film, integrated within a 2 hr, program was the horrific problem of food wastage in this country - putting forth the spectacle of 40 percent of food tossed out when one sixth of the people are food -deprived. This is an abomination.

Where does this monumental waste occur? Well, in three phases or stages :first, at the produce level where farmers harvest mainly vegetables and fruit and they toss out 40 percent at that level because the shape isn't perfect (for retail stores' acceptance) or the look is odd or the fruit has a few spots.  This is otherwise perfectly good fruit  (or vegetables) that any hungry person or family would be glad for.

A second stage is the retail store level itself, because - as I mentioned - the products have not been purchased within 3 days of the "use date" or the fruit has one or two spots on or has become too soft, or "unacceptable" in the eyes of the retailer.  In one encounter, Jen and Grant found a supermarket dumpster laden to overflowing with hundreds of containers of hummus. Of course, there was too much to take all back but they took some.

In other instance, they encountered a supermarket dumpster filled up to eight feet deep with tossed out canned, packaged and other food products. Again, hurled out because of proximity to the "use by" date or even "sell by" date.  They managed to collect more than forty five pounds of goods that they took back and stocked in their home and fridge, giving some of it to a needy neighbor.

The question that occurred is why the retail stores are not taking advantage of a federal "Good Samaritan" law that shields them from any litigation and allows distribution of would -be tossed food to those that need it?  Evidently, the retailers either don't care about the law, are unaware of it, or still somehow fear lawsuits if someone gets ill- even though the law plainly shields them!

It occurred to Janice and myself that if retailers across the nation truly committed to this  Good Samaritan food law we could literally eliminate the bane of food stamp welfare overnight. Distribution centers could be set up near the retailers or at special outlets to give away the perfectly good food for free. No more trying to stretch $29 per person for a week! And there are serious environmental reasons for taking this step but let's go on to the final stage of waste - the consumer.

The third stage of waste is with the grocery consumer - who through ignorance or negligence wastes one fourth of all the food purchased. In the former instance the shopper often doesn't know the meanings of 'use by' and 'sell by' dates printed on the cans or packages, for example. 'Sell by' is for the retailers' own purpose and really ought to be presented as a special code that doesn't involve the consumer.  'Use by' is a hypothetical date by which it has been estimated the food should be used.   But as food specialists featured point out, that doesn't mean the food "automatically goes bad" at that date. It is more a matter of slight decrease in quality, maybe the taste isn't quite as high - say a '10'  but maybe a '9'. But certainly no reason to toss it!

In one graphic image the level of food waste by consumers is depicted by showing  a shopper carrying 4 full bags of groceries to her car and simply dropping one in the parking lot - while continuing her departure. In other words, American consumers waste 25 percent of their food each week. They either let it go bad by packing it into the fridge and forget it, or they fail to freeze portions for later use - or toss it say after a banana gets a spot or two.

As one food specialist observed, the total water embodied in the foodstuffs wasted, i.e. that amount needed to produce them, could have supplied 500 million people around the world!  Worse, that amount left to rot in landfills produces hundreds of tons of methane  gas which is 20 times more potent (and heat insulating) then CO2.

Obviously then, one needs to seriously halt waste at least at one of  three earlier stages before retiring it to a landfill: 1) use it for energy production, 2) use it to feed animals - if not humans, and 3) use it for composting.

Highlighting mega-waste of food is the Las Vegas strip, where 375 tons of food  get dumped each day - most of it untouched. If this isn't a crime I don't know what is, but if you've never been to any buffets on the Vegas  strip you can't grasp how easy it is to happen.  First, the sheer choices in food are staggering, even at breakfast buffets like at the Luxor or Bellagio. You see enormous hams to be sliced for you, roast beef, pork roast, fried and baked chicken legs- thighs, Polish sausages, mounds of fresh bacon, fruits (strawberries, peaches, avocados, pears, oranges etc.), pancakes, waffles, and every kind of omelet you could want cooked by the chefs right in front of you. Second, you are getting it for something like $10.95 each so you "dig in" determined to wolf down your money's worth and more.

In the image shown, for example, my late brother John and myself went to a buffet with my wife - and we had piled up so much food on our respective plates there was no way we could finish it all. Like too many who go to these buffets we allowed our greed and eyes to rule our gastronomical perceptions.  I myself -had to leave behind a whole baked potato, and a whole chicken leg, each untouched  Johnny left behind most of a giant slice of ham, and a pile of roast beef as well as mashed potatoes. Janice couldn't finish all her sweet potatoes, apple sauce and turkey leg. 

Where did all this food go? Well, to waste! However, we learn in the movie 'Just Eat It' that RC Farms outside Vegas has been rescuing at least 8 percent of all the Strip buffet waste for a number of years now. That translates to 30 tons a day that comes straight from the lunch and dinner buffets on the Strip to their farm where it is processed into mush then fed to their dozens of  hogs.

They are making a dent but not enough. Alas, the 92 percent (375 tons / day)  of buffet leftovers unsaved ends up in nearby landfills where- as the documentary showed -  it generates enormous amounts of methane - a greenhouse gas with twenty times the forcing factor of CO2.  That is, the ability to absorb heat in the form of solar infrared radiation. This is directly contingent on the molecular vibrations undergone by the molecule which allow it to absorb and re-emit incident radiation.

Given  the 40 percent of perfectly fine food tossed out each day in this country, there is no reason - none at all  - a massive 'rescue' program cannot be organized to ensure distribution to those who are food-insecure.  The only reason for not doing it is lack of adequate will on the part of the retailers, the pols and the public. If this "Good Samaritan" Act could be used to push mass distribution to the needy-  instead of waste  - we might be able to eliminate or at least vastly reduce the food stamp rolls! (And you'd be amazed how many candy bars are tossed out too!)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dr. Oz Exposes A Rogue's Gallery of Critics - And the 'DARK Act'

How Dr. Oz explained himself
"For the first 30 minutes of his hour-long show—which celebrates its 1,000th episode on May 7—Oz took a chainsaw rather than a scalpel (metaphorically speaking) to his 10 fellow physicians who signed an open letter demanding his dismissal from the Columbia University Medical School faculty"- Commentator on 'The Daily Beast'


It was gratifying, indeed, to see Dr. Mehmet Oz taking a "chainsaw" as opposed to a "scalpel" to the rogue's gallery of A-holes that attacked him.  And as I noted in a previous blog post, I wouldn't even go so far as to call these critics physicians but rather bought out whores. They sold whatever 'souls' and self-respect they had long ago, to become shills for the corporate state and attack all those with whom they disagreed.

Readers may not be aware that a similar debacle played out some years ago but had a decidedly different outcome. This concerned the study by Dr. Arpad Pusztai in which he fed lab rats potatoes that had been genetically engineered to contain lectin (from a snowdrop bulb to make them pest resistant). When he processed the results he found that the rats which consumed these high-tech potatoes showed evidence of organ (liver, stomach) damage and poor brain development. Pusztai's study went down as the very first independent study (i.e. one not sponsored by a biotech corporation) to examine the effects of bio-engineered food on mammals.

Tragically, Pusztai’s boss, the Director of the Rowett Institute, attempted to suppress the revelations in the GMO potato study. According to a report -article from In These Times (Jan. 10, 2000);

 "He fired Pusztai, broke up his research team, halted the six other similar projects his team was then working on and seized his data"

Tragically, the action was taken after the  research became known to physician  "colleagues". Interested readers can read more on the expose of the PR muggers and their hands in the Pusztai debacle here
http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/24/03/bleifuss2403.html

So, let's get it straight this sort of attack isn't new - only the cast changes.  Whenever the agenda of bought out  corporate whores is  challenged or criticized, in this case the drive not to label  GMO foods, they enter and try to shut up the source.....or get him fired from a top position.

Back to Dr. Oz'  Thursday show.  He immediately flashed on the screen the forlorn, guilt-ridden faces of the 10 rats that came out against him,  The gallery - with faces shown -includes:

- Henry I. Miller, Fellow in Scientific Philosophy, Hoover Institution

- Scott W. Atlas, M.D., Hoover Institution

- Jack Fisher, M.D. Prof. of Surgery, Univ. of California, San Diego

-Shelley Fleet, Anesthesiologist, Longwood, FL

-Gordon N. Gill, Dean of Translational Medicine, Univ. of California, San Diego

- Gilbert Ross, M.D.,  Acting President, American Council on Science and Health

- Samuel Schneider, Psychiatrist, Princeton, NJ

- Michael Mellon, Pediatric Allergist, San Diego, CA

- Glenn Swogger Jr., Dir. Will Menninger Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences, (retired), The Menninger Foundation, Topeka, KS

- Joe Tapper, Dept, of Radiation Oncology, Univ. of North Carolina

As noted in the expose intro, the guy who drafted the letter and whose name is in the top spot is Henry Miller, whose vita at first glance "looks impressive". But "put him under the microscope and there's more to the story". We learn, for instance, that Miller strongly supports genetically modified foods, which Dr. Oz maintains ought to be labeled.  Miller  and his ilk almost singlehandedly defeated Proposition 37 in California that would have required GMO labeling. (He was the face and voice of 'NO on 37' that brainwashed consumers to vote against their best interests)

Miller also got into hot water for making one anti-Prop 37 ad on the Stanford University campus.  The ad identified him as being with Stanford - undoubtedly to add bogus name cachet - though he is actually based at the Hoover Inst. which has nothing to do with Stanford apart from its geographical location on the campus. So no surprise the university demanded he pull the dishonest ad.

Oz' expose also presented documents on screen showing Miller was a key supporter - get this - of the freaking tobacco industry in the 1990s! Do bought out physician whores have no honor at all? Are they willing to prostitute themselves for any and everything? It seems so! Hell, this scumball  even "helped write the guiding scientific principles for a group that was assembled to fight smoking restrictions".

All this is thanks to the dedicated research of Source Watch which tracks industry ties to assorted critics and hot shots in the medical news.  According to Gary Ruskin, Executive Director of 'Right to Know':

"What Henry Miller does is speak on behalf of big corporations who have big problems and he tells big lies on their behalf."

Miller is also involved with the bogus, corporate front organization (they pop up all over the damned place now) the American Council on Science and Health. A rep from Oz' show who went to the alleged headquarters in New York City found only an empty room with some file cabinets and a copy machine (seen through the window)

While these losers sound scientific and pro-consumer, they have spoken in defense of cigarettes, pesticides, GMOs and other poisons, all "while taking money from tobacco companies, pesticide makers, and firms behind GMO foods."   This, according to documents leaked to Mother  Jones magazine. There is a "direct line", in fact, between the corporations that the ACSH solicits and the positions it takes in public. In other words you can't trust ANY of them, any more than you can trust John McAdams' take on the Kennedy assassination.

Gary Ruskin actually calls them "rent -a -scientist" - much like the fossil fuel front groups that rent other scientific prostitutes to criticize global warming science. Guys like Willie Soon.

Then there is ACSH acting President Gilbert Ross, who is also famous - but not the way you'd think! He's actually a convicted felon. As Oz' report notes, "while working as a doctor Ross was charged in a Medicaid fraud scheme that cost the state of New York $8 million. Ross was sentenced to nearly 4 years and served time in federal prison."

So why believe this jail bird when he yaps complaints about Dr. Oz?  You'd have to be a moron or a totally brainwashed dupe.

Two other rogues mentioned in connection with ACSH include Glenn Swogger Jr. and Jack Fisher.  Their backgrounds led the Source Watch contact to note "this is definitely a smear campaign against Dr. Oz., driven by critics connected to big industry."

Meanwhile, a fifth critic, Scott Atlas, works with Henry Miller at the Hoover Inst. Evidently, he's more useful as a propagandist shill than acting the part of a real doctor. No surprise here since  "Hoover has taken money from producers of genetically modified foods."

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, guest physician on the show, observed:

"Number one, these doctors are not representative of the medical profession. Number two, it's an attack against all physicians - any professionals that don't adopt a standard party line. It's important we recognize this is anti-American and anti-freedom to help people in the best way possible."

Another aspect Dr. Fuhrman noted was the total irresponsibility of the corporate media, "to explode it all over the place, which is sloppy and dangerous journalism because they didn't do any background checks, they didn't know who these people were, they didn't understand their agenda".

In other words, typical kindergarten-level MSM reporting!

But we've  already seen in the past how the whore media acts, such as being cheerleaders in the run-up to the Iraq  War, and using propaganda tactics such as framing and suppression by omission as well as euphemisms (e.g. Iran-Contra scandal instead of Iran-Contra conspiracy) to deflect serious people from conspiracy thinking.  See e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/11/frequently-asked-questions-on-jfk_22.html

This brings us to the DARK Act, which Oz also exposed and which, if passed, would totally disallow any future citizen referenda or state initiatives to label what's in their food.  The D-A-R-K act is an acronym for:

DENY

AMERICANS

RIGHT to

KNOW

What is in this Neoliberal attempt to poison people by the millions? As Oz explains:

"The sponsors of the bill claim that GMO labeling is not needed. The bill specifically makes mandatory labeling of GMO foods impossible and that takes away your right to vote in your state for what you and your family want to eat. "

According to guest Scott Faber, Vice President of  the Environmental Working Group:

"This is a radical, radical proposal when you think about the fact that ninety percent of Americans want to know whether their food contains GMOs, just like consumers in sixty four other countries. It's just incredible that congress would pass a law that would block all state GMO labeling laws and make it virtually impossible for the FDA to mandate labeling. The congress is saying 'we don't trust you to make those choices"

  Also, he notes if the DARK Act became law all the existing state laws that require GMO labeling would be "wiped off the books" and the 17 bills now pending in state legislatures would all be blocked, effectively forever.

But what about the Democrats, wouldn't they filibuster this bill on our behalf?

Don't count on it because the Democratic Party is as infected by the virus of Neoliberalism as the pro-market Repukes. There isn't one chance in a million the Dems would exert the energy - however minimal- to filibuster the DARK Act. So we are literally on our own, or will be if this trash passes.

If the law passes, state control of any labeling, including 'use by' and 'sell by' dates would also be in jeopardy   We need to write the congressional whores now and let them know we are on to their hidden and corrupt agenda and if they want future votes they had better conform to citizens' will- not lobbyist money.

Update: Who hired this moron as "editor" for Salon.com?

I refer to Colin Gorenstein who scribbled this piece of refuse at salon:


http://www.salon.com/2015/04/27/john_olivers_glorious_dr_oz_takedown_you_are_the_worst_person_in_scrubs_who_has_ever_been_on_television_including_katherine_heigl/

Note that while this imbecile attacks Oz, noting the "ten doctors" who criticized him, he shamefully avoids pointing out their despicable backgrounds. (As I have here). Anyone who avoids doing that is simply another shill, or better, hack. How this character got to be a salon editor is beyond me when he's not even qualified to edit comic books,

As for citing John Oliver, a comic (though a sometimes smart one) that doesn't wash because Oz has always made it abundantly clear when he mentions this or that product he: 1) isn't conveying medical advice or acting as a medical expert, and 2) he expects viewers to do their own research and learn more about it. 

Most of Oz' proffered products or solutions I ignore after doing my research as HE advises. It is appalling that Oliver (like Gorenstein) goes after Oz as opposed to the dumb people who take his advice too literally and don't follow his own cautionary statements. JEEZ!

Friday, April 24, 2015

TPP Still A Bad Deal, NO Matter What Obama Says!


"Hmmmmm......if we can just sneak this by the People all will be well!"


Barack Obama’s claim that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would be beneficial to the average American worker must still be taken with a grain of salt. Just over a year and a half ago I noted that - via Britain's Guardian - WikiLeaks had released the draft text  of a chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.    

This is a Neoliberal-generated multinational "free trade" treaty that - like NAFTA and GATT before it - promises much but delivers precious little to the average citizen.   The full agreement covers a number of distinct areas but the chapter released by WikiLeaks 17 1/2 months ago focuses on intellectual property rights - an area that influences as many other areas as civil liberties and pharmaceuticals. Most noteworthy, at the time Peter Bradwell of the Open Rights Group, remarked that:

"Lots of people in civil society have stressed that being more transparent, and talking about the text on the table, is crucial to give treaties like this any legitimacy. We shouldn't have to rely on leaks to start a debate about what's in then."
 
Indeed!   And the most damning indictment that the whole enchilada is bogus and only favors the elites and power brokers is the fact that the 30,000-word intellectual property chapter disclosed a vicious intent to  increase the term of patents, including medical patents, beyond 20 years, and lower global standards for patentability.

The day after the leaks, smikringchimp.com blogger Thomas Hartmann observed:

" This week, Americans got a peek behind the curtain of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and what we found is frightening. On Thursday, Wikileaks published a complete draft of the “intellectual property rights” chapter of the TPP, and it poses a serious risk to free speech and information access. The document contains proposals that would change copyright and patent laws, so-called fair use practices, and the liabilities for alleged violations.


The provisions would stifle innovation, creativity, and information sharing, all under the guise of protecting intellectual property. And, many of the proposed changes are being suggested by US negotiators. Opposition to these restrictive policies is coming from other nations, like Canada, Chile, Malaysia, and New Zealand."

 
Right, so now many citizens will be rendered poorer because of increased costs to their meds, negating or disallowing the emergence of lower cost generics. Copyright restrictions are also bound to stifle creativity, making it much more difficult to reference previous work to either build upon or critique. Then there is the double standard on hacking, disallowing it for the usual n'er do wells but allowing exceptions: protection can be broken in the course of "lawfully authorized activities carried out by government employees, agents, or contractors for the purpose of law enforcement, intelligence, essential security, or similar governmental purposes".

Given what segments had been disclosed it was clear the rest of the TPP agreement would be even worse. Indeed on Wednesday night's Rachel Maddow show Maddow played a clip from the president’s appearance on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on Monday, in which he actually said that progressives who oppose the TPP "prefer the status quo,” .

Actually no, Mr. Prez, we prefer a world and level playing field without Neoliberal hijinks and economic manipulations! THAT is the status quo right now, which TPP doesn't do one scintilla to break!

He also went on saying that while he believes Senator Warren to be an ally on many other issues, in this case “she’s just wrong.” Well, duh, of course she'd be seen as "wrong" if she stands up for the crumbling middle class against advancing Neoliberalism!

Maddow noted that although Obama believes the TPP to be "the most progressive trade compact in American history", progressives in his own party — in particular, Senator Warren — strongly oppose it. And she's absolutely right because we believe the playing field can't be tilted any more than it is toward Neoliberalism and markets dominating over the pro- human agenda. We cannot afford to have in place anything where government guarantees of security and protection must be avoided at all costs, because they discourage personal initiative

 
Warren  correctly informed Maddow that one of the problems with the TPP is that the public has no access to it. Senators and representatives can read it, but they’re not allowed to discuss the details of it in public — which effectively means that Obama is asking the American people to take his word that the deal would have a favorable effect on the quality of middle-class American lives. But one could ask Mr. Prez if an informed citizenry is the basis for democracy, why are we being kept in the dark? Perhaps because we no longer have a democracy  but a corporatocracy! (And I won't even get into how much data, and how many files are being blocked from citizen scrutiny with the Obama administration now deemed the most secretive in U.S. history)

But that is the other prop the Neoliberals depend upon: citizen inertia, ignorance,  stupidity or belief in impotence, i.e. that they only have "opinions" - which carry no weight.  Also, they don't want citizens pursuing truth - information outside the media they promote, which is more invested in propaganda. This, my friends, is the Neoliberal paradigm at work. Whether it's preventing more disclosure on the exact details of the TPP,  or releasing all salient CIA files to do with the JFK assassination. (Which the National Archives refused to do in 2013, the 50th anniversary year - thereby enabling disinfo specialists and quacks like John McAdams to shamelessly continue their crusades to mock the conspiracy template.).
 
Meanwhile, the administration said Wednesday that the agreement will be made available online, and that there will be a period of "public comment  on it. Maddow noted this before asking Warren if that move would assuage some of her concerns.  But Sen. Warren wasn't biting:
 
They’re asking us to vote now to grease the skids,” Warren replied, “so there won’t be any chance to amend or block it, won’t be any chance to slow it down.” She claimed that the administration is saying, “Give all that up, and you’ll get a chance to see the deal on the other side.


 Sen. Warren didn't think that was acceptable and neither do I. It is instead a form of extortion. Indeed, the only thing that the American public has been able to learn about the deal is who was negotiating it — corporate lobbyists.  Well, we saw how that worked out when these same parasites wrote and negotiated the 2003 "Medicare Modernization Act" which ended up costing nearly 3 times more than originally promised and delivered a lump sum of corporate welfare equal to $13.6b to Big Phrma thanks to those who pushed it through like Billy Tauzin (La) who then became a lobbyist. Anytime corporate lobbyists are involved you know: a) the bill or agreement is toxic, and b) it is thoroughly in Neoliberal interests, not the people's.

To Maddow's question, Sen. Warren responded:

My view is when the process is rigged, the outcome’s likely to be rigged too.”

Maddow then asked:
 
"You’re saying that the corporate interests don’t just have access to see what’s in [the TPP], they helped shape what’s in it?”


To which Sen. Warren replied:

They’ve been in there for months and months and months during the negotiations,”

In other words, watching like the predators they are to make sure every damned 't' is crossed and every 'i' is dotted - in the favor of Neoliberal hegemony
Watch the entire interview via “The Rachel Maddow Show

And here is the letter of Sens. Warren and Sherrod Brown to Obama after his most recent attacks:

Your Administration has deemed the draft text of the agreement classified and kept it hidden from public view, thereby making it a secret deal… It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while you noted that Members of Congress may “walk over ... and read the text of the agreement” -- as we have done -- you neglected to mention that we are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public.

Before Congress votes to facilitate adoption of the TPP, the American people should be allowed to see for themselves whether it’s a good deal for them.

If we really are a democracy then we need to heed Hartmann's words:

"Unions, civil rights advocates, environmental activists, and many other groups are demanding that the details of the TPP are made public. Before this massive trade deal is signed, Americans have the right to know what it contains, and the right to demand that our elected leaders say “No” to the TPP. -"

See also:
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/thom-hartmann/61928/hey-mr-president-transparency-applies-to-the-tpp-too

Excerpt:

What do we know about the TPP? Well, according to Public Citizen, we know that the TPP could ship millions of good-paying US jobs overseas.

We know that the TPP could increase the costs of health care and medicine, while hurting health and safety standards. And we know that the TPP could make corporations even stronger and undo what few reforms are left on Wall Street.