Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Moral Hazard Of Appeasing Trump - And Why Pelosi Is Correct To "Disinvite" Him To The House For SOTU

The  Swine and thug holding the nation hostage must not be rewarded for his terrorism.  Nancy Pelosi is correct to disinvite him to the House for the State of the Union - and no 'security' pretext is needed. If he wants to deliver it, let him either drop his terrorist extortion - or do so from a Senate backroom toilet.

"There have been many policy disasters over the course of U.S. history. It’s hard, however, to think of a calamity as gratuitous, an error as unforced, as the current federal shutdown.

Nor can I think of another disaster as thoroughly personal, as completely owned by one man. When Donald Trump told Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, “I will be the one to shut it down,” he was being completely accurate — although he went on to promise that “I’m not going to blame you for it,” which was a lie."  Paul Krugman,  'Donald Trump and His Team Of Morons', NY Times

"Trump is not entirely to blame.  The United States Senate could take up legislation that it passed just a few weeks ago, that they thought was a good idea, to open government and continue this debate over how we exercise border security. Why not do that? I blame the Senate. I blame those who are essentially handing over their responsibility to the president. Mitch McConnell has made Donald Trump the majority leader of the United States Senate. -  Rep. Dan Kildee (MI), last night on 'All In'.

"Donald Trump has apparently outsourced his presidency to the notoriously anti-immigrant Ann Coulter, as she bragged about it in an interview last night."  - Chris Hayes on 'All In' last night

According to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, "moral hazard" is defined as arising:

" When an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities for its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions"

For example, if after days of pleading for "a few extra bucks",  I were to lend a friend $40, and he used it for gambling at a Sports Book, then: a) he isn't accepting the full consequences of his own poor money management and decisions, and b) he will treat my $40 less carefully say - than if he was really down to his last nickel and had to go and earn that money, in say five hours of 'sweat equity' flipping burgers at Mickey D's.

In addition, he leaves me holding some of the responsibility for his ill-chosen actions, since I am enabling them by giving him money! Thus, I am countenancing moral hazard and he is ensnared via my own ill-considered decision to "help" him to dodge full responsibility for his own individual choices.

The situation becomes more desperate and pregnant with moral hazard if - after being denied a loan- he vows to jump in front of a passing car.  He's now ratcheted up the stakes and worse, tried to  take me hostage, by putting the onus on me for his living, or not.

In a real way, he's no longer a friend but has become a psychological extortionist - even terrorist-  instead. 

This is no different to what Trump is doing now with this federal shutdown - except he is promising to take the whole nation with him as he dives off the precipice   And already we see the risk markers in abundance, as 40,000 Coast Guard members are now without paychecks along with TSA screeners,  air traffic controllers,  IRS employees and many others. Many of these are now having to visit food pantries, and a mere weeks from being evicted from homes or apartments.

Should this piece of pseudo-presidential shit be rewarded with a State of the Union address in the House of Representatives, where he can sashay in as if nothing is wrong and be accorded a respect he doesn't merit? Worse, be granted the media stage to belch the lie that "The State of the Union is sound, blah blah..."  Absolutely not! He must not be given the time to grandstand for his derelict base, his sycophants, and his overseers in the Reich media machine - namely Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

This is the same reason the Dems must never yield to this degenerate and give billions for his fucking, stupid border wall. Because as one Dem Senator confided to MSNBC's Chris Hayes: "We won't move. We cannot. If this works for Trump the country will border on ungovernable."  Meaning,   having won in this hostage taking showdown he will use the same game of shutdown 'chicken' again and again, i.e. when the debt ceiling deliberations come up or for any other appropriations bill.   In Times' columnist Michelle Goldberg's take, "Trump would be completely unbound in using this tool".  

It would be as if my 'friend' used the "suicide or gimme a loan" gambit every time on me. To unplug the moral hazard my only option is to tell the friend, 'do what you want, I am not lending you a red cent'.  In the same way, Dems cannot give Trump and his Reich cohort a dime for his mythical wall to embolden them to shut the government down in the next budget kerfuffle.

Thus, no matter how much devastating crap is going on Trump must not be appeased !  It is true there is increasing collateral damage from Trump's political terror and  hostage taking. We know 800,000 federal employees are either at home or working without pay on "furlough", but that's merely the tip of the iceberg.  Another 3-4 million contract workers are also not being paid.  Whole towns - like Ogden, Utah - are also being adversely affected and may have to pull back services because tax receipts are vanishing since their resident federal workers can't spend without incomes. 

While I can certainly sympathize with all of these Trump victims, they are basically in the same position as hostages taken by a demented terrorist.  Sadly, this terrorist cannot be rewarded any more than if it was a high level ISIS vermin who'd taken prisoners.  That means, above all, the Democrats cannot give into his insane demands, not now, not ever.  However long this thing drags on, it is up to Trump and the Republicans to end it.   

How bad can things get?  Yesterday's Denver Post featured a litany of the ills that are yet to come if this shutdown lasts beyond February, including:

- 38 million losing their food stamps when the SNAP program runs aground from lack of funding.  This loss of food stamp funding alone would strip at least 0.53% from the GDP.

-The Department of Housing and Urban Development  has said it will not be able to renew 1, 150 rental assistance contracts with private land lords that expired in December.  This means tens of thousands could be shoved into the streets.

-  Another 550 rental assistance contract expire in February affecting an additional 16,000 households.

- By March, subsidies for the great majority of contracts will end jeopardizing the vouchers (e.g. Sec. 8) used by 2.2 million low income households. This according to Sharon Parrott, a senior fellow at the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities.

- By end of March TSA screeners may walk off their jobs en masse leaving thousands of flight cancellations in their wake, especially if joined by the air traffic controllers (who have already filed a lawsuit against Trump's government.)    

 This little gem has already been dropped into the meme pool, as Robert Costa reported in the WaPo.  Costa noted a couple of Republican lawmakers confided that "the only way this breaks open is if TSA workers stay home and Americans get furious about their flights".  Well, maybe a certain class of Americans, the business passengers, as the WSJ reported last week.

As Sam Berger, a senior adviser at the Center for American Progress,  observed:  "Shutdowns don't get bad linearly, they get bad exponentially, the longer they go on."    

The problem is that too many of the conservo  persuasion are unable to process exponential increase, another reason they fail to grasp the peril of climate change-  which manifestations can increase exponentially, e.g. with forcing factors.

And smiling and gloating behind all the pain is the venomous, extremist bitch,  Ann Coulter, proud of the havoc she's wrought.  Coulter bragged in a VICE-TV interview she's been in regular communication with Trump  on Twitter. She actually confided to the reporter that she has him by the balls and regularly orders him to "play this out and focus on immigration."   Her own words from the interview:

"I've  been advising the president in my columns and in  my Twitter conversations -  that you're not allowed to know about  -   to play this out. To keep it focused on immigration.  As long as people are talking about immigration you are winning, Mr. President. But whatever happens, just build the wall."

Asked why Dotard's digging his heels in, Coulter replies:

"It's self preservation. Because he is dead in the water if he doesn't build that wall. Dead, dead, dead."

In other words, Donnie Dotard has become Ann Coulter's perpetual bitch.  As for all the federal workers impacted by the shutdown, many now having to turn to food pantries, the harpy had this to say to the VICE-TV reporter:

"It's very silly for the Democrats to hold up funding the government while they're weeping about federal employees with benefits: retirement plans, and vacation and sick leaves better than anyone watching this program has.

In other words, dismissing and denigrating all those federal workers, many of whom literally have her life in their hands. So much for gratitude.

Let me reiterate again that it is standard procedure among most law enforcement agencies not to reward terrorists or hostage takers with payouts.  That now includes Ann Coulter who seems to be dictating Trump's every move - if we are to believe her.  The reason is simple: Though the refusal to give in may likely cost lives, it is much worse to reward such vile behavior and encourage further hostage taking, terror in the future.  The exact same holds true with the current domestic terrorist named Donald Drumpf occupying the Oval Office. The selfsame mutt threatening all manner of mayhem - and even trying to blame the Dems for the deaths of two migrant kids.

Look, if this asshole truly wanted a wall for "security" - as political commentator Ezra Klein noted three weeks ago-   he'd have signed off on the $25 billion offered in 2017 as part of a DACA deal. He didn't do that, crapping all over the deal instead after the Right's screech monkeys blew a gasket.  Just like barely 3 weeks ago he saw himself  harshly criticized in the Reich media  by Limbuagh, Coulter, Ingraham & company and then turned around and crapped on a CR that was already voted on by 100-0 in the Senate and which he'd agreed to! He rejected the continuing resolution because a gaggle of right wing lowbrow apes and blowhards went apoplectic and called  him "gutless".    

The most amusing aspect is how the Trump terrorists are claiming Pelosi's disinvite move is a sign of "weakness" because she's afraid of giving Trump a mammoth media stage to "gain advantage". Well, true, but the issue is  gaining advantage by spewing lies, now approaching the 7,000 level according to the WaPo lie counter.   That said, the REAL weakness is on the Trump and McConnell hostage taking side, given they are now trying to split the House Dems - to no avail. (See e.g. 'White House Fails To Split Democrats'. WSJ,  yesterday, p. A5).  In addition, we know the Trump hostage takers are aware this "wall" is something most Americans - the sensible faction - don't want (cf.  'Trump's Pinned To A Wall Few Americans Want', WSJ,  p. A15, by William Galston). 

As Galston wrote at the end of his column: "The art of the deal isn't bludgeoning everyone else into submission. It's providing them incentives to give you what you value most."    

What Trump should be valuing most is not his  nutso  fantasy "wall" but his whole economy as well as the stock market he constantly brags about. As this shutdown insanity goes on and the collateral damage multiplies, chipping away at retail sales and shaking consumer confidence, he is looking at a major recession by year's end if not sooner.  Jamie Dimon has already predicted a zero growth in GDP this quarter and other financial experts assert we are looking into the maw of a financial disaster rivaling the one in 2008 if Dotard doesn't come to his senses.  

In the meantime, my only advice to Nancy Pelosi would be to drop the "security" ruse about stalling the State of the Union. Just come right out and say Dotard is NOT invited to the People's House until and unless he drops the terrorist hostage taking. Look at it this way, Nancy, we do not reward terrorists in the country - whether of the Isis brand or domestic ones like Trump, Ann Coulter and Mitch McConnell.

See also:


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Other Voices On The Trump- GOP Shutdown - And Why Republicans Merit Much Blame Too

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Other voices, their takes on the ongoing shutdown, and why Republican cowards also deserve much of the blame:

by William Rivers Pitt | January 16, 2019 - 7:28am | permalink


"Let me see if I have this straight: Over the course of this past weekend, the president of the United States of America was exposed as being the target of a 2017 counter-intelligence investigation by the FBI. The FBI initiated its unprecedented investigation after Donald Trump fired then-Director James Comey but before Robert Mueller was tapped to begin his own investigation, because the agency feared the president might be working for the Russian government.

Hours later, The Washington Post revealed that Trump has made a practice of confiscating notes taken by the translators during meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and furthermore sworn those translators to absolute secrecy: Not even officials within Trump’s own investigation were allowed to see what he and Putin had discussed.

“As a result,” reported The Post, “US officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what US intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.”

Yeah, no, that’s not at all creepy. It all sounds exactly as innocent as Jared Kushner attempting to open back-channel communications with Russian officials during the 2017 transition, with Kushner suggesting they use Russian diplomatic facilities and equipment in order to try and thwart National Security Agency monitoring. Exactly as not creepy as that.

Another week, another barrage of horrors from the White House, and still the Republicans in Congress and the party apparatus refuse to say or do anything that could so much as ruffle the coif of Russia’s favorite TV star. Even the faintest peeps of displeasure are muffled now that senators like Bob Corker and Jeff Flake have gone home to lick their wounds.

I swear to Dog, some days it feels like Trump will have to plant a “WE HEART RUSSIA” billboard on the White House roof and then actually shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue before any Republicans in Congress get around to taking this situation seriously. Trump is not morally, ethically, temperamentally or intellectually fit to be allowed within 1,000 yards of the White House. Even his possession of those official White House M&Ms should be deemed a major national security threat; if he has them, it means he’s been in the building, and that is unacceptable on its face."


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"It was obvious from the start that President Donald Trump’s rash decision to shut down the federal government was callous, destructive, and strategically obtuse. But a new report from the New York Times late Tuesday night revealed that the shutdown will be much more economically harmful than initially believed — and the White House knows it.

The White House confirmed, the Times reported, that it had originally underestimated the negative economic impact of the shutdown, which Trump has said could last for months or “even years.” In light of these more negative predictions, the shutdown itself could cause the economy to contract, according to the report."

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"The shutdown is a Trump-made disaster, with an estimated 420,000 “essential workers” required to show up for work without a paycheck. They have full-time responsibilities, which makes finding another part-time job nearly impossible.

Another 380,000 federal workers have been furloughed, including Coast Guard employees that are being encouraged to take on babysitting gigs and organize garage sales. They saw their last paycheck on December 22 and are scrambling to pay rent, mortgages, alimony, and credit card bills, let alone the groceries.

The average federal employee isn’t wealthy, taking home a weekly paycheck of $500, according to American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing affected workers.

The vulnerability they feel isn’t unusual. A majority of the U.S. population is living with very little by way of a savings cushion."

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"The Washington Post reports what we all suspected: that Trump & Friends' government shutdown is about much more than a wall; it's about the right-wing thrill of watching the federal government get gutted.

"Prominent advisers to the president have forged their political careers in relentless pursuit of a lean federal budget and a reined-in bureaucracy," writes the Post. "As a result, they have shown a high tolerance for keeping large swaths of the government dark [and] services offline."

The more remarkable line in the Post's reporting, however, is this bit of Hayekian whimsy: "The shutdown has in some ways underscored their view that government can function with fewer employees."
by Jaime O'Neill | January 16, 2019 - 7:12am | permalink

"They could have taken a knee, those boys from Clemson, invited to the White House for yet another of the photo-op stunts All-Drama Donald stages with such stunning regularity. And "stunning" is the precise word for what these stunts have done to a nation that is wandering around, dazed and confused, stunned to imbecility by the unending barrage of bullshit, shell-shocked by the incoming rounds we're bombarded with daily, from Giuliani, from McConnell, from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, from the incessant fog of poison gas from Fox and right wing media from coast to coast"

The Parker Solar Probe - Why It's A Monumental Engineering Feat - And The First Image Delivered

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Artist's conception of the Parker Solar Probe which will approach within 4 million miles of the Sun.   

The level and rate of successes - including newly processed imagery- of the latest solar space craft are almost too numerous to tally. One can then understand-  even if one is not a solar physicist - why the Parker solar probe had been renamed from the original "Solar Probe Plus".   In this post I want to examine why the Parker solar probe has been such a success, especially in terms of the engineering components and the associated experiments to be carried out over its 7-year mission. (Okay, actually 6 years and 321 days)

In terms of solar physics there is perhaps no more towering personage than Eugene Parker. Indeed, it was reading his original research papers on the magnetic structure of sunspots - portrayed as assemblies of multiple flux tubes - hat enticed me to go into the field of solar physics 40 years ago.

Why is Eugene Parker so special ?  Well, to many of us who've invested segments of our lives into solar research he is seen as the father of solar physics. It was while Dr. Parker was still a budding young astrophysicist at the University of Chicago that he wrote a seminal paper in 1958 about the solar wind and its association with the interplanetary magnetic field. (Parker, E.N. : Dynamics of the interplanetary gas and magnetic fields,” 128, 664, Astrophys. J., 1958.) The paper can be accessed at the link below for those interested:

Fast forward some 21 years, to ca. 1979. Measurements over decades of the so -called Evershed effect showed the plasma motions to be radial and inwards. There did not appear to be any 'escape hatch' for the rising gas columns represented by the umbral dots. This being the case sunspots ought to heat up and reach equilibrium with the surrounding photosphere after a few days, and yet spots with umbral dots were observed to last weeks.
And so the "multiple flux tube" model of Eugene Parker was born (cf. Astrophys. J., 230, 905-13). In the diagram shown below note the geometry of the field lines extending from beneath the photosphere (in the convective zone) to far above it. The 'flaring field' on top is buoyant for reasons that have to do with the stratification of the solar atmosphere. The Wilson depression is shown as the indentations at the umbral surface on either side.
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Parker in his paper (ibid.) showed that the downdraft velocity needed to remove heat from beneath a sunspot  (at a depth of 2500- 5000 km) is on the order of the Alfven velocity  e.g.

v   = Bo  / [m o  r o1/ 2

for this region, where   Bo  is the equilibrium magnetic field, m   is the magnetic permeability of free space,  and o   is the plasma density. This leads to v  A   =  about 2 kilometers per second. This then is adequate to provide the observed umbral energy flux of 0.2 F o  where F o  denotes the normal photospheric flux.

The full paper can be accessed here:

A key fact relevant here is that heat flux and magnetic field strength is independent of sunspot area. The parameter that best helps to explain this is the vertical distance 'x'  which the model predicts is characteristic of all sunspots whether they be 4,000 km or 40,000 km across. Calculations by Parker show x = 1150 km approximately. It is the limiting distance below which an instability would occur in a single flux tube.

From all these points of view, the adoption of Eugene Parker's name for this one of a kind  solar craft - the first ever long term mission to our nearest star- is welcome and quite understandable. Indeed, the mission is a culmination of Prof. Parker's research in the fields of solar physics and heliophysics (the latter distinguished from the former on the basis of the extent of the solar wind, e.g. into the heliosphere - or the magnetically affected region that extends beyond Pluto's orbit).

Now what makes this solar mission so extraordinary?  First, back in November last year the craft made the first of 24 "oscillating" sweeps into the solar atmosphere. By that I mean the flight path carried it in then back out. In the November approach it came to within 15 million miles of the Sun's surface or photosphere. This is far closer than any earlier craft has ever gone. The previous record was set by Helios B in 1976 and broken by Parker on Oct. 29 — and this maneuver has exposed the spacecraft to intense heat and solar radiation in a complex solar wind environment. 

 Second, Parker features marvelous engineering designs which enable it to make such close passes.  (And bear in mind this was the first of 24 such oscillating in and out orbits, where the sunlit sie can reach as high as 1370 C.)   The main component here is a 2.5 meter wide, 72.5 kilogram heat shield, made of carbon foam sandwiched between two carbon sheets.  The whole shield is only 11. 5 centimeters thick (about 4. 6 inches).  It's coated on the Sun facing side with white ceramic paint to reflect as much sunlight as possible. Even then that side is expected  heat up to more than 1300 degrees Celsius.   Behind it, the bulk of the craft will coll to just 30 C on average, or about 86 F - about like a balmy spring day in Barbados.  

Other features of the Parker solar craft worth noting:

1) A component experiment for 'Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun' which is designed to detect solar particles across a wide range of energies.  This will allow solar physicists to decipher how the Sun accelerates the solar wind.  One detector will search for low energy particles, while a different one will search for high energy ones.  

  2) A component designated WISPR (Wide -field Imager for Solar Probe) will take images of the solar corona, solar wind, shocks and solar flares.  These images will help scientists properly interpret data from the other instruments.   

3) The craft features two solar panels mounted on a movable joint to control how much sun light (radiant energy) the panels absorb.  In close passes to the Sun - such as last November-  the panels will fold behind the heat shield, leaving only a last row of solar cells to absorb energy.   

4)The craft will be able to expel heat through a set of radiators composed of black material, which will be worn like a collar between the heat shield and the bulk of the space craft. Tubes of water will carry heat from the solar panels to the radiators where the heat can then escape into space.  At all temperatures the probe's solar panels will need to stay cool and the design of this system ensures it - especially the fact the panels are threaded with 'veins' to carry cooling water. 

4) Another experimental component, designated FIELDS, is comprised of five antennas to measure electric and magnetic field strengths in the solar neighborhood.  These measurements ought to help us to understand what makes the solar corona so hot (at nearly 2 million K).  To this end, four of the antennas are made of special material to protect them from direct sunlight..  

5) At the back of the probe will be the SWEAP experiment, for "Solar Wind Electrons Alphas and Protons".   This is designed to catch charged particles including electrons, and alpha particles ("alphas") from the solar wind and also determine their temperature, density and speed.  It will be exposed to sunlight 475 times as intense as felt on Earth.  

We can expect much data as well as imagery to be forthcoming in the coming months and years, as this monumental exploration of our Sun proceeds. Already, Parker has captured the image below of the Sun's corona, taken on December 8th.
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The Parker solar adventure is just beginning, stay tuned!

See also:

Parker Solar Probe Heat-Resistant Technology - Spacecraft ...