Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Pelosi Playing "Three-dimensional Chess" On Impeachment? Actually - More Like Dodge Ball And She's The Trump Target

Nancy Pelosi - Playing three dimensional chess with impeachment, OR being steamrolled by Trump who perceives her fear and weakness in the face of his nonstop transgressions and unwillingness to do anything about it.

"When faced with a crisis of this magnitude, I cannot with a clean conscience ignore my duty to defend the Constitution. I cannot claim to be committed to a rooting out of corruption and putting people over politics and then not apply those principles and standards to all the work that I do."  - Rep. Katie Porter, D-CA  in an announcement yesterday.

"I think with the president now saying he is willing to break the law to win re-election that transcends partisanship and party lines.  This is now about the rule of law in the United States of America. This is about us doing our jobs".  Rep. Alexandria Ocasio - Cortez

"Maybe Howard Dean is right and there is this strategic patience and Nancy Pelosi is playing three dimensional chess.  But here's the thing, the rest of America is becoming more and more disengaged, the more they see no one is doing anything about Donald Trump."  Danielle Moodie-Mills, on All In last night.

"If they're worried about Trump's megaphone, stonewalling and controlling the narrative, Democrats do have this 'break glass in case of emergency' option.  Begin an impeachment process to take it away from him but also because it's the right thing to do."   Brian Beutler, last night on 'All In'

According to Howard Dean last night on 'All In', Nancy Pelosi is using a brilliant tactic of  "letting momentum build" in what he called "strategic patience".  Basically averring "she hasn't missed a step, she has Donald Trump's number".  Really?  Then why do I have the unsettling feeling Trump is wiping the floor with the Dems and the Constitution with each subpoena he blows off, each aide he refuses to let testify, each mockery he makes of our laws?  Hell, he even openly bragged about getting foreign help to win the next election - and had to be reminded it was against the law!

 In a nutshell, Dean insists Pelosi is basically allowing the polls to gradually build toward impeachment. Then, when they surpass a critical threshold - say 75% -  she will allow at least an  impeachment inquiry to begin.  In effect, Dean wants us to believe she is playing a kind of three dimensional political chess which either: a) will lead to an eventual impeachment when the polling hits that 'sweet spot' or b) wends towards the election 17 months away when Trump will finally be ousted by the voters themselves.

Of course, by that time - given 17 months is almost an eternity in an election cycle- this Republic could well be in a shambles, which is also one reason California House Rep Katie Porter has  come on board for impeachment (see her quote above - as presented on 'All In').  Katie, like 65 other House Dems (And one Republican, Justin Amash) grasps that the' wait and vote him out' strategy is a loser. Not only will it likely not work, given the Dem base will be totally de-energized by then, but also it will allow Trump to wreak even more terminal damage to norms and the Constitution as Nancy plays the ostrich - head in the sand - game.

So no, I am not buying that Ms. Pelosi is playing three dimensional chess. I am buying that she is in a defensive crouch in a months long game of Trump 'dodge ball' - in which she is trying to dodge his brutal hits but with very little effect.

Let's be frank, like most pols and pundits these days Pelosi is overthinking what is really a simple issue: Do you let your Article I powers remain in cold storage, unused while the criminal lout in the WH tramples with impunity over our laws, Constitution? Or, do you pull yourself out of your funk and delusions and bring the hammer down on Dotard's sorry ass?  In other words, do you exercise the powers available to you or continue to cower and cringe in the face of implacable resistance to the rule of law?

According to one recent WaPo story, Pelosi  "summoned her top lieutenants to a late-night meeting and hatched a plan — that six party leaders, speaking in unison, would make clear to the chairmen why impeaching Trump was a terrible idea."  We're then informed that Pelosi told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) "Republicans are stewing in their own juices, and that the party should devote its time to calling out Republicans for siding with a president trampling the Constitution,"

Neato, except while the Democrats are busy "calling them out" the Repukes are trashing more and more of the Constitution every day.  Is Pelosi and her sycophants in the House really going to allow 17 more month of this bull shit? Seriously?  Why sycophants? Because the other term for people who "fear that challenging her comes with the risk of grave cost to one’s career" is cowards.  Here I define a coward - a political coward- as one who puts his own interests or his party's above the nation and the Constitution which he swore to defend.  If you are more worried about a demotion or being replaced on a committee because of what you say to the Speaker, then you are to all intents a yellow -bellied coward.   This is not merely arrant, unjustified speculation, given we also learned from the WaPo:

 "Veteran lawmakers keenly remember how she rebuffed former Democratic Congress members Jane Harman (Calif.) and John Dingell (Mich.), two occasional thorns in her side, in their quest for chairmanships, moves many viewed as revenge for challenging her vision or authority."

But know what? If they challenged her authority on the basis of  a higher duty - to nation and Constitution - I give them props and kudos.  I give them those because they are not meek maggots seeking cover and security, but real heroes. What I envisage an elected Representative ought to be. Which is not a yes man or yes woman who believes the Speaker's will trumps all else.  This behavior to be applauded s opposed to the cowardly, spineless, sniveling deportment of a worm like Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), who whined:

It’s much better to be with her than against her,”

Or another cowardly cuck like Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.):

“One, you want to be a team player and support the leader’s position, but secondly you’re worried about your own self and . . . what can happen if you don’t follow along,

So wait. You treat this tiny, 78-year old woman with a weak, raspy voice like she's Don Corleone giving orders from his Mafia den? Really?  Then you ought to be a dog catcher not  a people's rep.  Fortunately, more House Dems are coming around, like Rep. Katie Porter and Michigan's Andy Levin. Levin recently also announced the desire to begin an impeachment inquiry, greeted by thunderous applause at his town hall meeting.  And why not?  Latest polls show a majority of Americans now are for beginning impeachment (which is a process, not an end in itself) and  50 % now believe the Trump campaign "coordinated with the Russians".   As Chris Hayes observed last night: "It seems these Americans have a better grasp of the Mueller report than Trump does".

Well, of course, because there's no way Trump would read even 2 pages of said report. After all, he only reads at a third grade level, which also covers his cognitive capacity

This is especially as new polls find a majority of Americans now demand impeachment, as revealed last night at the beginning of 'All In' (after Howard Dean's framing of Nancy's stance as a 3D chess tactic.

Like Howard Dean, the spin from the D- Trump enablers and longtime Pelosi allies is that the fear factor is vastly inflated. Rather, they say it’s more that members respect the California Democrat, who has led them for 16 years and understands the political consequences of impeachment.  But to me, Janice and many others who are part of the base, it appears the opposite is true: If she really understood impeachment she'd grasp it's the only tool left (short of the House's jailing powers under the inherent contempt clause) that can halt a rush to lawlessness and trashing the Constitution  -rendering it only a piece of paper.

She also doesn't grasp that because a process may be "divisive" is not a sufficient reason not to employ when needed and when the survival of this nation in any recognizable form is at stake. So when Pelosi says:

“I don’t think there’s anything more divisive we can do than to impeach a president of the United States, and so you have to handle it with great car.It has to be about the truth and the facts to take you to whatever decision has to be there.”

I must respond:  How much more "truth" and facts do you require when Trump is ignoring your every subpoena and stonewalling on steroids, turning your caucus into cuckolds?  And he's also openly admitted he'd commit a crime (getting campaign info from foreign sources) if it meant winning the next election. It's staring Pelosi right in the face- the truth and facts of what this swine is doing - and she's meekly letting it occur under some ruse of a grand strategic design.

Right now, the GOP Trumpies and Dotard himself are laughing all the way to court with dozens of court challenges to subpoenas, given they have Dems locked in "process fights".  All they need to do is run out the clock and the Dems will lose, and waste time as they fight in the courts to try to get the traitors to respect House -issued subpoenas.  My take, and many more now, is for Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler and other House committee chairs to at least invoke the 1934 concept of "inherent contempt" and toss the asses of these stonewallers directly into the Capitol jail - marched there at gunpoint if need be.

As Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe elegantly summed up in an interview 4 weeks ago:

"What we have here is a situation where the Mueller report shows without any doubt that a hostile foreign power attacked the United States in this (2016) election  That Donald Trump welcomed that attack, benefited from it and then - the last couple of years - tried to cover it up every possible way.  That was with ten instances of felonious obstruction of justice."

Combine all the above with the fact Trump's toady attorney (Consovoy)  is trying to make the case - in expedited court hearings - that even congressional oversight in Watergate was questionable, and you will finally grasp we are in a genuine constitutional crisis. Not just on the verge of one. And how the House Dems meet it, whether in crouched position or head-on, will largely determine our future.

A start right now would be to educate the American people more on the nature of impeachment, what it is and its purpose in the sort of situation we're in.  As Danielle Moodie-Mills put it last night:

"The Democrats need to educate their constituency which is what they are not doing. Right now you have a bunch of Democrats, like the ones in leadership, who are saying 'we're gonna slow walk ourselves to impeachment', 'we're gonna let Trump self-impeach'. And the reality is these polling numbers are ticking up and not because of pulling a Justin Amash. They're ticking up because the subject is coming up at town halls including why the Constitution matters. Why what Donald Trump is doing as a lawless president matters to your day to day lives.  Justin Amash is doing that but Democrats aren't."

This is a powerful set of memes to unpack, especially the last - the connection of Trump's lawless behavior to people's day to day lives, i.e. bread and butter issues. Because truth be told, if he believes he's bound by no laws, by no lawful institution or assembly, there's no reason he'd respect the welfare of citizens either.

As I'd written earlier (May 9):

"The Dems have no choice, especially if the Trumptards continue to refuse to respond to subpoenas. Thus, the only way to obtain the evidence needed is to take the crisis to the next level - of impeachment. The House Dems then become the lawful prosecutors and must be given the evidence, including the unredacted full report and all ancillary evidence.  "

The political overthinking and belief in some perilous "blowback" with impeachment was also skewered by  Sidney Blumenthal  over a month ago, also on 'All In'.  He noted that going ahead is especially cogent given Trump "is vastly overrated, and only appears to be strong because of  his bluster."  Adding, he's the lowest rated president since polls were ever taken of presidents and "has never hit 50 percent". This makes him ripe for the pickings. 

Former Senator and Watergate investigator Elizabeth Holtzman agrees, but adds Dems ought to hold hearings first to "educate the public".    But I think now the better option given Trump's stonewalling and not allowing aides to appear at public hearings, is to do what Justin Amash is doing - educate the public on impeachment at town hall meetings.

Make no mistake that Amash having come out bluntly against Trump - after reading the full Mueller report- delivered an impeachment boost "on steroids"   Amash probably beheld exactly what Mr. Blumenthal referenced in Part II of the report, i.e. "there are obvious cases of obstruction of justice that have been documented, stronger than those brought against Richard Nixon."  Blumenthal here emphasized it is the similarities to the Nixon case that bear attention, not those to the Clinton impeachment which was based "on a contrived and insubstantial case."

Meanwhile, Amash's points with regard to the Mueller report and Trump are equally compelling,  and lay out a blue print for impeachment given Pelosi seems too blind to see them, e.g.:

1- Attorney General Barr deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report.

2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.

3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.

4. Few members of congress have read the report.

Points 3 and 4 are especially noteworthy given they're aimed directly at Amash's GOP cohort: on the one hand protecting their party over the country, and on the other not bothering to read the full report, opting for Barr's crib note version instead.

What we now know is that the situation has reached crisis point and the House Dems need to act or be turned into laughing stocks or impotent clowns. The clock is ticking and will reveal whether in fact the Democrats have the testicular fortitude to bring Uzis and anti-aircraft cannon to this  political "gunfight" or stick with their letter openers - as Charles Blow fears.   

We need House Dems now to cease being pawns of Pelosi in her grand nebulous scheme for Trump to self-impeach, and to take it on themselves. The clock is ticking and will not be kind to the Dems next year if they miss the window for action.  

As media specialist Brian Beutler put it last night zooming in on Pelosi' often contradictory and cognitively dissonant babble:

 "I've covered Pelosi for a long time and how she's talking about impeachment is what she does when she's whipping against it.  She's saying mutually contradictory things about what impeachment means and when we should do it. She says we shouldn't do it for political reasons but in the next interview she'll say it's very divisive and we shouldn't just leap into it.  That's a political judgment that she's making and you can't have it both ways.
The reason she's trying to have it both ways is she needs a reason to explain away why she's not doing what the Constitution clearly contemplates her doing at this point."

The takeaway:  House Dems need to ignore Pelosi and tell her to either shape up or ship out, or they will find a new, bolder Speaker after she is recalled.  As Danielle Moodie -Mills put the final touch on the discussion:

"A  majority of people are now saying to being impeachment proceedings, at least. Not removal. And Nancy Pelosi out of one side of her mouth is saying 'the president belongs in jail'  and then on the other hand saying, 'Um. I don't wanna do it for political reasons'.  But I'm saying you're not making a decision based on political reasons  because you're saying we have time to wait before 2020 when he's told us he's ready to steal the election before then.  Just saying."

See also:

by Bill Blum | May 21, 2019 - 6:23am | permalink

Monday, June 17, 2019

Alfie Kohn's (NY Times) Theory That "Everyone Should Get An A" Is Flat Out, Provably Wrong

"If 'everyone gets As', that means the laziest, dumbest, most unmotivated student graduates from high school with the same paper qualifications as the hardest working, brightest, and most motivated student. The result is that a high school diploma would mean virtually nothing and many employers would begin requiring a college degree for jobs that really shouldn't require one or give tests to applicants that would shock the weak "A" students when they fail these tests and reality hits"  - Comment on NY Times article.

"Well written nonsense. Abilities are distributed on a bell curve. Not everyone deserves a blue ribbon. In nearly 40 years as a university professor I have watched institutions of higher education be turned into a business" - University professor comment on NY Times article

A recent NY Times Op-ed ('Why Can't Everyone Get As?- Excellence Is Not A Zero Sum Game)  by Alfie Kohn questions why every manjack (or Jilljack) at a high  school or university can't snag an A- and besides it shouldn't be a zero sum game.  Well, I hate to break it to Mr. Kohn but it is, a zero sum game.  Meaning there must be an essential delimitation of high quality grades in any given course situation else the grades become meaningless. Further, it then become impossible to distinguish actual high quality from mediocre or poor quality work.

Mr, Kohn writes, in defense of his claim::

"Consider widespread complaints about a supposed epidemic of “grade inflation” in higher education, a claim often accompanied by indignant expostulations about young people’s sense of entitlement. The reality is that even if more students today really are getting A’s — arguably a dubious claim if we look at transcript data rather than self-reports, by the way — that doesn’t prove these grades are inflated."

Yes I am afraid it does!  Much of this can  be traced to tests-exams and even homework assignments that are much too elementary for the levels taught.  If an exam is proper for a given level -  including a 3rd year Harvard course in astrophysics or economics- it should possess considerable discriminatory power.  So, even in a class of 30 Harvard  astrophysics over-achievers it ought to be possible to separate out the 10 percent or so who demonstrate peak excellence and really merit A's. This as opposed to having such an absurdly easy test that 40 percent or more get A's off it. 

As I have argued in previous posts, the lack of discriminatory power in grading and the level of difficulty of coursework, assignments automatically lends itself to overly generous marking schemes.  That is also in combination with the use of teacher's evaluations. 

Basically, any student with more than air between the ears can extort a high grade out of a prof by merely the veiled threat of giving him a lousy evaluation. Since these evaluations are (often)  the main instruments used to assess a person for promotion or even to remain on permanent staff (as opposed to adjunct) they are critical. 

As for Kohn's citation of "transcripts" I have no idea which he's talking about but a study by Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy, and published in the prestigious Teachers College Record showed about three-fourths of all grades awarded at university level are “A's or B's."   This makes those A's and B's next to useless precisely because of their very commonality. An 'A' used to stand for academic excellence, but it can't if so many are getting them! It also renders the achievements of truly exceptional students ho-hum. How in the world can they truly stand out if middling or loser students get the same grades they do? It's preposterous!

Kohn blabs on (ibid.):

"But here’s the key point: Many critics don’t even bother to assert that grades have risen over time or are undeserved. They simply point to how many students (in a given class or school) get A’s right now, as if a sufficiently high number was objectionable on its face. ..

Grades in this view should be used to announce who’s beating whom. And if the students in question have already been sorted by the admissions process, well, they ought to be sorted again. A school’s ultimate mission, apparently, is not to help everyone learn but to rig the game so that there will always be losers."

How  in the name of Sophocles does Kohn come up with this codswallop? It isn't a question or issue of "who is beating whom" but rather who is deserving of the highest quality marks and the awards attendant on them. For example, the awards of Summa and magna cum laude are now almost meaningless because of the sheer numbers qualifying for these honors because of inflated grades.  In effect the preponderance of the awards makes them less significant.  Why not also just award Nobel Physics prizes to every top notch physics prof with a great physics theory?  Well, because then the significance of the award is degraded, rendered "common". This isn't rocket science!

Nor is it a case of "rigging the game so there will always be losers", but if we are to ferret out the true highest performers with distinguished academic excellence then achievements have to be scaled by making upper courses much more difficult in content and demands.   Thus, an astrophysics course, say AST 583 on stellar structure,  has to be profoundly more difficult than an Astronomy (AST) 200 introductory course.  That means a student who earned an'A' in the latter may only be able to snag a D or F in the former. The most likely reason? The level of mathematical difficulty of the higher level course is markedly greater and the student's mathematical aptitude is not commensurate.   The student can handle the algebra for AST 200 but not the partial differential equations necessary for AST 583.

Is this forcing students to being "sorted again"?  Well, in a way, kind of, but logically so because the professional or graduate level astrophysicist or astronomer needs to be able to use partial differential equations.  We therefore must ascertain if the student at the higher level can do the math or not. If he can't then yeah, he becomes a "loser"  with a loser's F.   We do him (or her) a major favor - assuming they haven't already figured it out after two quizzes and withdrawn in time to avoid an F.

 In the same way, in a medical school scenario one would like to have the discriminatory power of medical courses to ascertain -  before student X graduates and becomes an intern  -  he or she  has the medical basics down to not muck up a procedure. Say to deliver a spinal anesthetic without delivering 12 sticks in the wrong place first. Is this being cruel? Not at all, merely sifting through a population to identify the most qualified, competent people.

This is also why the author's next claim is absurd, i.e.

"This makes no sense in any context. Perhaps, for example, we can justify rating states or nations based on the quality of their air, health care or schools, but ranking them is foolish. Relative performance tells us nothing of interest because all of them may be shamefully low — or impressively high — on whatever measure we’re using. Comparative success just gives the winner bragging rights (“We’re No. 1!”)."

Again, failing to process that the separation of genuine quality from the mediocre isn't just a matter of subjective interest.  It matters a great deal if an astrophysics student is given a pass in that AST 583 course, then goes on to muck up spectroscopic, astrometric or photometric data at an Observatory.  It matters a great deal if a med school student is passed and allowed to  intern (e.g. in anesthesiology)  if he doesn't even know basics about anesthesia - and delivers an overdose of fentanyl to a patient.  So no, it's not merely a matter of giving winners "bragging rights" but rather ensuring genuine recognition of competence, i.e. which says this person is truly qualified to undertake a photometric analysis of Beta Lyrae in an Observatory on his own. OR, to deliver an epidural anesthetic prior to a prostate cancer's brachytherapy template procedure - without mucking it up!

We see more bollocks emerging near the end of Kohn's piece:

"Framing excellence in these competitive terms doesn’t lead to improvements in performance. Indeed, a consistent body of social science research shows that competition tends to hold us back from doing our best. It creates an adversarial mentality that makes productive collaboration less likely"

Most of all, it encourages the false belief that excellence is a zero-sum game. It would be both more sensible and more democratic to rescue the essence of the concept: Everyone may not succeed, but at least in theory all of us could."

Yes, in theory most of us "could succeed" IF we picked the right contexts and settings to do so. If, for example, we grasped our forte was in art and not science - so chose to major in the works of the "masters" rather than stellar astrophysics.  But that usually isn't the case, hence the high rate of true grade inflation - not to mention the colossal rate of medical errors in this country, as well as academicians producing papers with suspect results that don't hold up to scrutiny.  Demand more  rigorous standards and competition and these missteps and calamities likely don't appear.

Another reason for lack of sufficient performance standard  is entering 'winner take all sweepstakes' that do not ensure we will prevail over extreme competition. According to the authors of  'The Winner Take All Society' (Ch. 6, 'Too Many Contestants?', p. 102):

"Market incentives typically lure too many contestants into winner take all markets, and too few into other careers. One reason involves a well documented human frailty: the tendency to overestimate our chances of prevailing over our competitors."


"The decision to compete in a winner take all market is akin to buying a lottery ticket. If you win you win many times more than if you were in a less risky career. If you lose, you earn much less."

One major example is the glut of those pursuing Ph.D.'s so that the over supply generates not tenured track profs but tens of thousands of adjunctsIf there were fewer people chasing Ph.D.s, i.e. who wanted to become academics,  there'd be more chances for others to succeed, say in tenure track positions. But with the mass of newly minted post docs flooding academia, there simply aren't enough permanent academic positions available. The glut means universities can afford to offer only cheap positions with no benefits, e.g. adjuncts. This forlorn lot then have to patch together teaching at multiple sites, while often ending up on food stamps, e.g.


I suppose here too Kohn would whine about the "terrible" universities and cheapskate administrations creating "too many losers" with their "comparative rankings"  leading to an indentured prof system. But let's pause to consider it's the sheer glut of apparent similar quality (via the Ph.D.) that created this cheap labor pool.  This is given every manjack with that parchment now believes he merits the highest position in the halls of Ivy-  but will now be brutally disabused by the reality of excess competition for those few choice posts.  Cut the pool of hopefuls down by 50-60 percent and university departments would have to respond in more generous ways.

While I am at it, let me skewer another trope that's been making the rounds, i.e. in another NY Times article, that "maybe students are just a lot smarter and there is no real grade inflation".  This hearkens back to the absurd premise of the Flynn effect, where most Americans are allegedly getting smarter and smarter each year as gauged by standard IQ tests. The phenomenon of incrementally increasing IQ first circulated in 1984, following a study in that year by James R. Flynn, purporting to show that citizens in advanced nations like the U.S. have experienced massive IQ gains over  time.

Thus Americans – for example – have gained 3 IQ points per decade from the early 1900s to today, as reflected in both the Stanford –Binet and Wechsler Intelligence scales. By another test’s standards (the Raven’s Progressive Matrices) – for which scores go back to people born in 1872- the gains disclosed amount to 5  IQ points per decade. So a guy with the same genetic background who was born in 1910 and had an IQ of 100 then, would attain an IQ of 160 by 1970 thanks to the Flynn effect, or equal to the (accepted) IQ of Einstein. 

Of course, the Flynn effect is supposed to apply to a statistical ensemble, not individuals - but I use the example of an individual measure over decades to make the point the claim is nonsense.  Even if we just stick to ensembles, it is foolish. Using the Raven’s and scored against today’s norms,  our ancestors in 1910 would have an average IQ of 70, or about moron level. By comparison, our mean IQ today – that is, disclosed within the ‘hump’ portion of a Gaussian distribution – would range from 130 to 150 depending on the test. For reference, 130 basically gets you into Mensa (accepting the top 2% of IQs) and 150 marks you as a “genius”. Are we all geniuses on our way to becoming Über-Geniuses? I don’t think so!  Neither are all the cum laude honors recipients at Harvard really cum laude quality.  They achieved that honor via a skewed grading system.

Most importantly, the ranks of neither Mensa or Intertel have increased markedly - nor have the potential members who would be accepted.  (Taking into account all those who've no interest in joining either one). Select a random sample of the populace, say 10,000 or 50,000 – and dispatch them to sit the Mensa and Intertel IQ tests. Those making the cut will still be only 2% and 1%, respectively, as has been the case for decades.  You will not find 50 percent getting through, or even 20 percent.

And you will certainly not find the mammoth proportions now receiving cum laude honors! An anomaly that suggests that either the courses taken are way too easy, or the professors - TAs are marking assignments, exams too easy.

Make no mistake, because of grade inflation, students use 'Rate My Professor' to  avoid professors who believe the grade of “C” is the average grade and who set up standards that require students to do more than show up, read a couple of hundred pages, and answer a few questions. This then translates into fewer students in the more rigorous courses that also feature more no nonsense profs.

Bottom line:  Kohn's piece is just another paean to entitlement or the next thing: generalizing honors (and A's) so any manjack can lay claim to them. Thereby destroying any special significance in the process.  At the same time, he raises false expectations in too many that hey, they do have the right to get A's - even if they just show up for class.

Applying Advanced Theoretical Mechanics To Circular And Planetary Motion (Part 2)

Application to Planetary Motion:

We begin with the polar coordinates of a point mass in an orbit of radius r under gravitational attraction to the Sun:

a r   =   dr 2/ dt 2   -  r (dq  /dt ) 2

a q  =  r (d2 q  /dt 2)   + 2 dr/dt ((dq  /dt )  

In polar coordinates we are also interested in the angular momentum, e.g.

L = mr 2   dq  /dt   =   r p q  =  r p sin q 

Note that this angular momentum for a planet orbiting the Sun is constant! The force components in polar coordinates:

F r    =  m[dr 2/ dt 2   -  r (dq  /dt ) 2 ]

F q    =  m  [r (d2 q  /dt 2)   + 2 dr/dt ((dq  /dt ) ]

If we take:  d/dt (r p q )  we get: 

r  d p q /dt   =   r F q    =   dL/ dt

The rate of change of angular momentum which is also called the torque of the force F about the point 0.
t   =   dL/ dt

The diagram below  shows how torque is derived:
No photo description available.

The change in angular momentum is then:

dL/ dt = r F q    =

 m  [r (d2 q  /dt 2)   + 2 dr/dt ((dq /dt ) ]

=   d/ dt m r 2 (dq  /dt)

Note the angular momentum per unit mass m is just:

h  =  L/ m  =  r 2   dq  /dt   =  r p q   /  m

This  quantity is exactly the h used in the Kepler 2nd law, and a constant of the motion.  In effect, with a bit of further working: 

r 2   dq  /dt   =  2 dA/ dt  =   h  or dA/dt =  h/ 2

The preceding can be integrated to obtain:

A  =  ½  h t +   c

Then the area swept out  by the radius vector in time:

t   -  t 0 ,  according to Kepler’s 2nd law would be:

A  =   ½  h (t   -  t 0)

Given a period of revolution P, i.e. for elliptic motion about a fixed origin, when t = t + P, and P > 0, the area swept out is:

A  +  p ab  =    ½  h (t  + P   -  t 0)

b  =  a (1   -  e 2 ) 1/2

 Subtracting the first equation above from the second, i.e.

½  h (t  + P   -  t 0)  -   A  +  p  ab 

And solving for P, one arrives at:

P  =   2 p  ab h -1

An alternative approach uses:

dq =    h dt/  r 2

Then integrate to obtain:

qq   +    ò t  0      h dt/  r 2 (t) 


1)  Prove the relations below:

i) dA/dt =  h/ 2

ii) P  =   2 p  ab h -1

And show:   P  =   2 p Ö (a 3 ) /  Öm

Where:   m  =  G (m1 + m2)

2) Because of the Earth’s rotation a plumb bob does not hang precisely in the direction of Earth’s gravitational attraction, i.e. in the direction of its weigh mg.  Given the radius of the Earth = 6.4  x 10 6 m  and your latitude is 45 degrees, find the angle by which the bob deviates from the direction of g. (Hint: Sketch a diagram with forces, angle shown to assist in solution.)

3) An asteroid moves in an elliptic orbit around the Sun. The lengths of the major and minor axes are 2a and 2b, respectively. If the asteroid’s velocity at the point of closest approach (where it crosses the major axis) is   v o   then how much time is needed for the object to make one complete orbit?  (Hint:  Take the area of an ellipse to be:   p ab  )

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Iranian Strait Of Hormuz Tanker "Attack" - Can We Say 'Gulf Of Tonkin' Redux?

"Yeah, it'd be a great idea to blame Iran for the oil tanker attacks and start another bogus war!"

"Right now, the U.S. and the Saudis are pointing fingers at the Iranians. Perhaps — but it begs the question, why? Tensions in the region, thanks to the highly inflammatory rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration, are already dangerously high.

National Security Adviser and longtime proponent of war with Iran John Bolton is predictably pushing Donald Trump to, for lack of a better phrase, make war on Iran.

The Saudis, who view Iran as a bitter regional rival, are pushing for the same thing. They would love for the U.S. to use its military against its enemy."  - Marc Ash,  'Were The Gulf Tanker  Strikes A Saudi-Run Operation?', smirkingchiimp.com

"Why of course the people don’t want war...But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they’re being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” --  Hermann Goering.  Nuremberg, 1946

Hours ago,  Trump -corrupted Washington claimed Iran was behind a succession of recent shipping attacks in the Gulf. The Trumpie liars, criminals and reprobates claimed  grainy video published on the U.S. Central Command’s website provided "evidence"  of Iran’s involvement in Thursday’s attacks. The footage purportedly shows an Iranian boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the vessels.   (Note: It did not show them placing the mine ON the vessel. Hence, alert to how rabid the Amerikkan warmongers are for a new regime change, it made sense to remove what Saudi operatives likely planted, in order to provoke a conflict with Iran.)

Outlandish!? Not any more than Trump and Pompeo's nest of propaganda and BS when we know that John Bolton is itching for a new Mideast war. Do I believe any of the crap spewed out by this administration? Well, no more than I could hurl them all into the Potomac!  

As the Trump cabal and its allies beat the drums for war with Iran, pardon me while I don't buy the huff and puff from pundits, or the alleged "evidence' or the ancillary claims.  In fact it's all too much of a perfect setup, a big pretext for an unnecessary conflict  - like Vietnam or Iraq.  As blogger Marc Ash put it:

"Iran stands to gain little by damaging or destroying Japanese or Norwegian ships. There is no economic or military logic to support that. To the contrary, with U.S. sanctions constraining the Iranian economy, it would be in Iran’s interest to maintain good relations with Japan, Norway, and any other country willing to maintain trade."

Truth be told what's unfolded in the Strait of Hormuz  reminds me more of the bogus Gulf of Tonkin incident that triggered the Vietnam War.  At the time  (summer of 1964)  LBJ ordered two destroyers,  the Turner Joy and Maddox, to stage daylight runs into North Vietnamese waters to test the 12 nautical mile limit.

 Not long after invading the water, the two vessels were allegedly "attacked without provocation".  The claim of  LBJ  - much like Trump today with the oil tanker attacks alleged to be the work of Iran - is the attacks on  Turner Joy and Maddox were initiated by the North Vietnamese.

But in 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that the Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese Naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated regarding August 2:

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

And regarding August 4:

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

In other words, the U.S. aggressors used it as a pretext to demand the "Gulf of Tonkin Resolution"  and launch a war that killed nearly 58,000. Like other pretext wars (e.g. Iraq, see the excellent MSNBC special ‘Hubris’) Vietnam never should have occurred. It was once again a case of congress abdicating responsibility as opposed to actually declaring a war.

In the same vein, what's happening now near the Strait of Hormuz is all bogus, a setup, a pretext to start a war.   Fortunately, António Guterres, the UN secretary general, called for an independent investigation, affirming:

"It’s very important to know the truth and it’s very important that responsibilities are clarified. Obviously that can only be done if there is an independent entity that verifies those facts,"

Well, yes, because a war with Iran would be calamitous, far more than the Iraq conflict and we saw how that has turned out - what with ISIS being spawned and massive instability throughout the region.

Unfortunately, the UK appears to have sided with the U.S.  warmongers.   The Foreign Office issued a statement saying: “It is almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard – attacked the two tankers on 13 June. No other state or non-state actor could plausibly have been responsible.

This, of course, is baseless codswallop.  There are at least two other actors with the means, motives, and opportunity - including Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Both detest Iran to the core, and each would like nothing better than a war fought against Iran but on their behalf.   As smirkingchimp blogger Marc Ash put it in regard to each:

"Israel gets thrown in only because they do have the military technology, they are in the region, and they do share the Saudis’ fear and contempt of Iran."

Ash does add, however, that the Israelis likely didn't mount the tanker attacks given that "striking Japanese and Norwegian vessels is not the type of thing Israel wold engage in".   Yeah, but if they wanted a U.S. war with Iran bad enough, they could.  

So why is the UK siding with the Trump vermin?   Well, maybe their Foreign Secretary happened to watch Trump's bloviating performance on FOX and Friends yesterday a.m. and bought it.  Trump is a great con man you know. Particularly where Dotard yapped:

Iran did do it. You know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it … You saw the boat at night, successfully trying to take the mine off – and that was exposed.”

And we're supposed to believe this drivel from a walking maggot.  This now after he blabbed three days ago he'd willingly accept the help of a foreign power in the 2020 election - then retracted it the next day? Excuse me while I laugh.  So I am far more inclined  (especially after the fake Iraq WMD B.S. too) to accept the take of Iranian ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad.  He said the western intelligence claims were similar to :

“false fabrications during World War I, the Vietnam war and Iraq war that were designed to instigate military interventions and armed conflicts in different parts of world.”

Bingo, Mr.  Baeidinejad, you nailed it!    Besides, in Tokyo yesterday the owner of the Kokuka Courageous   affirmed the Japanese tanker's sailors saw “flying objects” (drones?) before the attack, suggesting it was not damaged by mines. The claim of the  company’s president, Yutaka Katada, totally  contradicted the U.S. military account.

Bottom line, claims of monstrous terror and shameless attacks on innocents (in oil tankers)  cannot be accepted from a monstrous administration that prides itself on flouting the rule of law, and shameless attacks on innocents. (Like locking migrant kids and families up in cages and glorified NM "dog pounds".)

Amidst this background and the further  lying drumbeat for war in the coming days, we should be mindful of the words of former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes (on 'All In' last night):

"I step back and I worry about the two most disastrous wars in this country's history, Vietnam and the Iraq war. The second thing is that Donald Trump has lied repeatedly about Iran....There's been this pyramid of lies built up about Iran, so he has little credibility now.  The American people if they're being asked to go to war need to be able to trust the people who are leading...

It feels like we are trying to provoke  the Iranians to do something to serve as a pretext to have a war, which is what John Bolton wants.  Do the American people really want to go to war over the fact that two tankers blew up in the Gulf of Oman?  Do the American people want to go to war on behalf of Saudi Arabia, a murderous country that butchers journalists and provokes famines in Yemen?"

Amen, Mr. Rhodes!  I for one certainly don't  trust the deranged renegades now in power, whether Bolton, Trump or Pompeo. They comprise a Liar's Triumvirate. As I  said before, after Trump's 4,500th lie, I would not believe this turd if he claimed the missiles were flying from North Korea.  

If I would not believe him in that context there's no way in hell I'm believing him now with the manufactured "Iran threat".