18 August 2019

Portland's "big riot"

As I, among many local folks, fully expected, the Antifa/Proud Boys riot turned out to be pretty much nothing. I believe these things are being blown entirely out of proportion by the sensation-hungry media, where in actual fact both the Antifa overtestosterone infused tiny minority of the left and the Redneck Right are unrepresentative and not really a threat to civil order or anything else. Let's focus on issues and the election; and nonviolent demonstrations, which outnumber these things by orders of magnitude. 

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13 August 2019

Maybe there really is a conspiracy with regard to Epstein

 I know the whole Epstein conspiracy theory thing seems to have spun out of control. But sometimes people really do conspire. Consider that all the leaked information about public figures... former NM Gov. Richardson, former Sen. Mitchell, Bill Clinton... has concerned Democrats. Consider that Barr "unrecused"himself (which wasn't even a thing before the great legal scholar Emperor Donald the Munificent invented the idea), and that it is Barr who is in charge of the Bureau of Prisons and any investigations and reports that come out of it, and HE who will spin the results of any FBI probe. MAYBE taking Epstein off suicide watch, wherein protocols were simply ignored, was just a normal SNAFU. But mainly, as David Cay Johnston noted,* from personal knowledge: the Federal lockup ("MCC") where this occurred is not an old fashioned jail. The cells are like dorm rooms, except with high ceilings, no attachment points specifically to avoid suicide and violence. And the bedclothes are not cloth, they are a paperlike material DESIGNED to tear if an attempt is made to use them as a rope. One last fact. Epstein credibly was reported to have told a visitor that the prior suicide attempt was not that, but an attempted murder. His cellmate was a big beefy ex cop on lockup for accusations of corruption. So, tell me again that this is all just normal judicial screw up and nothing to see here.

The Trump administration, of course, is doing their usual: accusing others of what it is that they are the ones most likely guilty of. The Clintons couldn't even rig the election to get their candidate in (that was Trump and the Russians). How could they gain access to a Federal prison under the watchful eye of the attorney general (really Trump's Roy Cohn), to murder Epstein? The biggest fish that has something to gain from hushing up the Epstein case is not Bill Clinton. It's Trump himself.

This is the kind of thing that used to only happen in countries that had a history of swinging back and forth between barely functioning democracy and dictatorship, like Brazil, Argentina, the Philippines. That, my friends, is what we are well on the way to becoming right here in the USA.

03 August 2019

Obama Legacy and What, now, shall we do?

 Farflung correspondents, 

Below is an excerpt of a reader comment on Talkingpointsmemo (which if you don't know you should), on the legacy of Obama.

«
His first full term was spent trading in his political capital to address a healthcare system that was refusing to care for sick people because greed. He also did the little things like helping to pull us out of the worst recession since the depression and kill OBL. So, yeah, I forgive him for acting in good faith at those moments in history when the world needed the GOP to step up and act like adults. The GOP did the exact opposite and that is the real story here. Literally nobody new the depths they would go to sabotage Obama. The fact they are still getting away with is all the more infuriating.
»

I agree with this, more or less, but I do argue that Obama reflected the same overly cautious attitude of many Democrats (still, and most of them are less visionary and capable than he). Progressives (hell, let's start calling ourselves LIBERALS, for starters) in our country have become afraid of our own shadows. This is one of the reasons that many younger Democrats are angry and frustrated. I really do believe that decisive action is critical, and is actually popular.

We should not be hemming and hawing about impeachment, for example. Of course the Senate won't convict. Acknowledge that. Bring the impeachment inquiry, conduct it expeditiously and quickly (since we've already wasted two years), lay out the case, censure Trump, and vote not to refer it to the Senate with an explanation that it is deemed a foregone conclusion that the partisan gridlock in the Senate would prevent fair consideration.

Meantime, and I've been saying this since Jan. 1; PASS the damn progressive legislative agenda that we want to enact as soon as we have both houses and the presidency. Write the damn bills. All of them. Talk them up. Go on the political shows and refuse to talk about Trump and his BS and say, we want to talk about the solutions WE HAVE for America. Then our candidates need to run on those issues. Do we disagree about details? Of course. But hash it out. Make the compromises in our own caucus, hammer out the bills, and pass them. Presidential candidates can talk about the tweaks and improvements they'd like to see, but they can all agree to run on the broad outlines of an ALREADY PASSED in the House agenda for America. If Nancy Pelosi were the great master legislator that her admirers claim she is, this is what she would be doing. Schumer is a caretaker; he can do nothing legislatively. But she can. Passing bills, even in only one house, is a way to SET AN AGENDA.

I am deeply disappointed in the leadership in our party and very fearful that a combination of cheating, con-man politics, and poor turnout could even spell defeat for us in 2020 if we don't up our game and soon. And I don't think I need to convince many Democrats, or even many Republicans, that that would be utterly catastrophic for our country.


 

25 July 2019

My letter to my blue dog Democratic congressman


  Dear Congressman Schrader, 

The leaders of our party have wasted the last two years, in the face of abundant evidence that the president of the United States is a criminal, a traitor, and wholly unfit for office. First, unncessarily waiting for a special counsel investigation that was never intended to address the question of whether the Congress should do its constitutional duty and investigate whether this president should be impeached. Then, when that investigator's report made clear that he didn't believe he could do anything about the president's crimes and malfeasance, because it was purely a job for the Congress to deal with, doing nothing at all, for more than 13 weeks already, in the face of open defiance of Congressional authority by the subject of the inquiry and his lawless administration. Now, that the overly cautious special counsel has testified. The facts are already clear, but need to be exposed, in daily televised hearings, with real, enforceable subpoena power. No more time can be wasted. It is critical, and a constitutional duty of the Congress, to investigate and lay bare before the American people, the facts of this case: the most egregious malfeasance and criminality in a president in our history. The fact that the locked down partisan Senate will not convict is immaterial: this is a DUTY of the Congress. If the facts are adequately shown, in public, in readily accessible form, in televised hearings, a resolution of Censure may be sufficient, whereupon the American people can decide, fully informed of the facts, in the 2020 election. But regardless, AN IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY MUST BE COMMENCED AT ONCE.

Thank you.
David Studhalter
Oatfield, OR 

 

05 July 2019

Fareed Zakaria's mild take on George Will's book lamenting the fall of American conservatism.

This is a good example of why I don't much care for Fareed Zakaria. He laments the fall of American conservatism in a mild review of George Will's latest book attempting the same, while hardly mentioning that its main cause was that American conservatism is, was, and always has been rotten to the core with greed and corruption. It failure is the failure of utter lack of integrity. 

Reading Henry George's 1879 Poverty and Progress, it is readily apparent to me that the underlying philosophy of conservatism in our country is based on provable fallacies, and that it was then and remains fundamentally dishonest. 


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16 June 2019

"Is Poverty Necessary" by Marilynne Robinson, from Harper's

I was really struck by this truly excellent, even inspiring article in the current Harper's. It actually goes beyond what its title implies, and makes you think about exactly what our impulse to economic reform is all about, and exactly what it is in late stage Capitalism, to use a term Robinson does not use, that is so repellent to those of us who grew up with some sense of the value of public wealth, and repulsion at the idea that labor is no more than a commodity. 

If you read nothing else on this topic this month, please read this. You will not regret it. 

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13 June 2019

NPV

Think the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact can't possibly go into effect because there are too many Republican states opposing it? With the enactment this week by Oregon bringing the electoral college strength of enacting states to 196, all that is needed are MN, WI, (or VA in place of either); MI; OH, PA, and any 2 of NH, ME or NV. I would venture to say that this is far from impossible, although unlikely to be done in time for 2020. There is definitely momentum. Whether getting close to the magic 270 will make it easier or harder to get the last few states is an interesting question to which no one really knows the answer.

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05 June 2019

National Popular Vote Compact passes in Oregon

Finally! My adopted state, Oregon, has joined the other West Coast states in passing the National Popular Vote Compact.* Momentum is building for this important work around, which, when it takes effect, will ensure that no one is ever elected president with fewer votes than his or her opponent(s). Not perfect, presidents could still be elected with less than a majority of votes cast, but at least the travesties of Bush 2000 and Trump 2016 would never happen again. We need more states to pass it to reach 270. A Constitutional amendment on popular election would be better, but since that is not currently in the cards, this is our best shot to correct the worst effects of the Electoral College.

In case you don't know, the NPVC provides that each state that passes it will direct its electoral college delegation to vote for the popular vote winner nationwide. The compacts only go into effect when enough states have passed the same provisions such that enough votes are automatically cast to be elected president.

----
It was quite a fight, due to inexplicable DEMOCRATIC opposition in the State Senate, but it finally passed. Gov. Brown has said she will sign it.

This is a little out of date, but indicates where we stand. We need NV, NH, MI, PA, MN, AZ, VA, OH, and ME, all of which should be doable. NV, like OR, has already passed it in both houses in 2019 and so only needs the governor's signature.


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23 April 2019

The time is come to impeach Donald Trump.

Friends, 

The pattern of open defiance to Congressional inquiry is now unmistakeable, and is, all by itself, more than sufficient reason to impeach this president. Let me be clear: the Mueller Report is a sideshow. This president has committed obstruction, emoluments violations, election law violations, and, (apparently, per extensive news investigation); tax and real estate fraud. He has compromised himself to our nation's principal adversary, in plain sight. He had ordered his minions and other federal employees to break the law, and openly dangled pardons (a gross abuse of power) to induce them to comply with his orders. In plain sight. The Mueller investigation was limited to the Russian interference in the election and specific obstruction of justice related to that, and, despite the Trump administration's outright lies and slow walking the release of the report, it does not clear him; instead it makes clear that he did in fact obstruct justice and coordinate with his campaign's open cooperation with a foreign adversary to illegally interfere in our elections. Any other president having done any one of these things would've been impeached, and, depending on political winds, likely convicted and removed from office. You cannot escape from history, and it is time to bite the bullet and impeach Donald Trump.

As for the politics of impeachment, I believe the old guard pols in the Democratic caucus, including Speaker Pelosi, are misreading this situation. People disrespect Congress by and large because of its lack of decisive action. In Watergate, Congress acted. They held televised hearings. They put the facts before the American people, and, despite Nixon's having won re-election by a huge landslide, public opinion was changed by the facts. And face it, the facts now are vastly worse than they were for Nixon. Trump will fight, more than Nixon did. We will have to go to right wing judges, and possibly the right wing Supreme Court, and point out the obvious facts that there isn't a shred of legal justification for the open defiance by this president of the power of the Congress to inquire into his actions.

Might we lose? Of course! It's possible, more than possible, that our system is nowso deeply corrupted that even the Supreme Court will not uphold the rule of law. It's likely that no matter what we do, the Senate will not remove this president from office. But those are not reasons, nor excuses, for not fighting aggressively to conduct the inquiry, bring the articles, and move forward. Hold the hearings, every day, aggressive scheduling. Don't even bother with letters. Issue subpoenas, with minimum time frames, and file in court immediately after they are disobeyed. If the witnesses don't show up, have the hearings anyway, and put up whoever we can find to testify to what's been going on, and point out on television, day after day, that the president and his administration are in open defiance of the rightful powers of the Congress. If that is not enough to convince the majority of Americans to vote these people out of office, nothing will, and our republic will in fact be destroyed. But if we do nothing, that will only happen more assuredly and more rapidly.

TIME IS UP. NO ESCAPE FROM HISTORY. IMPEACH TRUMP NOW.

14 April 2019

Another milestone on the road to authoritarianism

If our constitutional system were functioning even reasonably well, THIS, if confirmed to be true, would NECESSARILY result in the impeachment and conviction by near unanimous vote in the Senate. There could not be a clearer case of executive misconduct for which the impeachment power was included in the Constitution, short of overt military treason in time of war. If I need to spell it out for you: (if true), the president of the United States, sworn to uphold the constitution and "take care that the laws of the United States be faithfully executed," is 1) ordering employees of the government of the United States to violate the law AND ignore the orders of the duly constituted courts of the United States; and 2) promising to engage in the gross misuse of the pardon power to stymie any potential prosecution of those whom he has ordered to so do. This is just exactly the sort of thing that would be dictators do in the run up to all out seizure of power and decapitation of all other centers of political power in societies where democracy has completely failed.

And, any deluded folks who still cling to their emotional support for this dangerous maniac, I will say this: if you cannot see that, then you either have no understanding, literally none, of how constitutional democracy is supposed to work, or you, yourself, are part of the slide into dictatorship that our country has clearly commenced.

I am not by nature a pessimist. Trends can be reversed. No matter how bad it gets, an engaged citizenry can work to make it less bad, and can, eventually slow, stop, and even reverse such a slide. But the trend is definitely, unquestionably, there for all to see who can see.


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Nature simply does not care what we believe. 

 

20 March 2019

My take on Medicare for All and acceptable variants

I think we need to be crystal clear on one point concerning Medicare for All, and we need to insist on it from all our candidates. And that is that while we may need to utilize a mixed system, at least as a transition, and allow something like Medicare Advantage as it now exists (which is where private insurance provides Medicare services plus additional services, for regulated additional premiums, in lieu of the Single Payer Medicare standard). Alternatively, we may allow for supplemental plans that provide additional coverage as a supplement to the standard, now-expanded to cover everyone-Medicare.

But what is absolutely essential, and which must be part of any plan on a quick phase-in at minimum, is that ALL HEALTH INSURANCE PROVIDERS MUST REORGANIZE AS NONPROFITS. This is crucial to the insurance based systems in France, Switzerland, Japan, and Germany. The for profit insurance model simply does not work for health care. There is too much of a conflict of interest: profit depends on denial of care, not providing the best care. Private nonprofits will compete to provide the best care, and grow their businesses based on performance and awards of contractual advantages from excellent performance, not profitability. Any companies that don't want to function in that market are free to go into some other line of business, because, as Dennis Kucinich used to say at every opportunity, there is simply no place for profit in health care.


 

12 March 2019

Pelosi on impeachment

I don't know what Nancy Pelosi is thinking, or what she knows. But EVEN IF she knows enough from classified and unpublished sources to conclude that the Mueller investigation will not convey enough information to Congress, for whatever reasons, to strongly support impeachment, I can't fathom how she doesn't believe the American people deserve to have the entire matter of Trump's unfitness for obvious thoroughly investigated, and that she, and other Congressional leaders should just say that and not prejudge the outcome.  
 

 

10 March 2019

Our species can... and must... rise to the challenge of the Climate Catastrophe

I watch... but don't necessarily entirely buy into... futurist Isaac Arthur's youTube channel videos on things like the Fermi Paradox, megastructures in space, far future space development and colonization, etc. He's a very far-seeing thinker, and tackles with surprising lucidity some of the objections to the sillier notions of many who long and dream for the lost "future" of OUR recent past (if that makes sense). (For example, he's a pretty extreme Fermi Paradoxer (as am I), concluding from the facts already known that advanced civilizations are NECSSARILY quite rare in the universe, Exhibit A being the logic (which I've delved into at length on gyromantic.com) that unless nuclear war or the Climate Catastrophe kill us off, WE will likely colonize our entire galaxy and beyond in a million years or so; coupled with "Deep Time," (the universe has been much as it is now for a long, long time, at least 6 or 7 billion years), QED there haven't been a lot of beings like us on the cosmic stage and aren't any close by now, or they'd already be here, and flying saucerites peace, they aren't).

Anyway, a point I want to make is that we as a species have to start thinking in terms of much broader and more adventurous solutions to the problems of our existence. The Climate Catastrophe can not be solved with just minor tweaks to the global market system and continued nonsensical regional conflict. Either we get it together and form the "Federation," and engineer our way out of this crisis, or we, too, will be an also-ran that doesn't warrant a blip on the Fermi filter scale. RIP Earth.

But I'm not betting against our species. We have many faults, but we have proven ourselves the most inventive of creatures THIS world has ever produced, and I have a very strong belief that the Earth is truly extraordinary. Not one in a million, not one in a billion, one in many tens of billions if not even more. We're the lottery winner. We can survive and thrive, and become much more than we have ever been before. But only if we overcome our petty greed and rivalry and come together to solve our greatest yet global crisis, which, in case you haven't fully accepted it yet, is UPON US. Now.


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09 March 2019

A rhyme in return

To my friend Jas, who penned a fine rhyme for my birth,
Noting pathways and pastimes long I dropped on dear Earth--
      I'll not dwell in self-pity
      Here's my own grateful ditty
To new friends in the City of Music and Mirth.


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Nature simply does not care what we believe.

 

07 March 2019

Birthday Limerick

Here's the limerick my dear friend and musical mentor Jas Adams wrote for my birthday. (Needless to say, I was most touched). 

March 6, 2019

"I'll tickle the ivories," thought Dave, 
"After reading the Sci-Fi I crave,
"Plus political news
"And much more to peruse."
(Not retired, just on a new wave!)

Thanks, Jas. No one's ever written a birthday limerick for me before. 

David 

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05 March 2019

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

I've now heard two interviews with David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming. (Ezra Klein and Chris Hayes's Why is this Happening? podcasts). Not cheery. Terrifying. We are on the very cusp of the rest of the century, during which the Climate Catastrophe will impinge on every facet of our lives, and, if we fail to act very soon, will make life very very nasty for hundreds of millions before those who come after us will have been forced to take real action to make the Earth livable. And no one will be immune. It's become increasingly clear that we're not just talking about sea level rise. The consequences of the Climate Catastrophe will have mostly very negative effects, and they will affect every human being on Earth to some degree, and be devastating or even fatal for a huge number. And some of that effect is already unavoidable.

Here's an eye opener, which I admit I did not know. Since Al Gore wrote his first book, 30 years ago, in other words, SINCE we as a species knew what we were doing to our planet, more than half the fossil carbon ever emitted into the atmosphere has been emitted. In 1989 the climate was still stable (relatively), and a forthright and serious effort to address the problem would have been quite feasible. Now, the UN goal of keeping warming under 2° C by 2100 is all but impossible, and that means severe economic and physical disruption is unavoidable. And no one talks about going beyond 2° ... or what happens after 2100. The consequences of continuing to do nothing will be literally fatal. At 8°, all clouds will permanently disappear, which would cause an additional 8° of warming almost immediately. The Earth has not had 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere in millions of years... long before there were humans. The last time the Earth's average temperature was 4°C above the baseline, there were palm trees in the arctic, and even our great ape ancestors had not yet evolved.

This is an important book. Everyone should read it. Complacency is the enemy, and we can no longer afford it. It will literally kill us if we don't shake it off and get busy. To paraphrase Wallace-Wells, we didn't fight WW2 out of optimism. We mobilized and transformed our economy out of FEAR. And that kind of fear is what will cause us to mobilize against the Crisis too. But it is not just us, in America. Already (and this is completely changed since the turn of the century too), the US is producing only 15% of the fossil carbon being added each year to the atmosphere. China and India together account for over half. This is a global problem, and the solution must be global. The enemy is not other nations, it is our own folly; our own unwillingness to make the changes necessary to avoid catastrophe. Time is running out, and the longer we wait, the harder and more terrible will be the journey back.


https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/586541/the-uninhabitable-earth-by-david-wallace-wells/9780525576709/--
   

Nature simply does not care what we believe. 

 

01 March 2019

It's early days....

I've declared that I'm supporting Elizabeth Warren, and I'm sticking with that for the time being. But I approve of Jay Inslee, governor of Washington, who I think has a lot to offer especially on the critical Climate Crisis issue. And, even more so, I heard a long form interview with Pete Buttigieg (Boot-e-jedge) on Pod Save America. I may disagree with one or two of his more calculatedly "centrist" positions (he favors, for example, "Medicare for All Who Want it" as opposed to "Medicare for All," an important distinction and I can see his point). But at 37, he makes a convincing case that it's time to pass the torch. He thinks long term, talking about how we need to make decisions about structural things and not just take for granted, for example, that we can't fix the supreme court, the electoral college, etc. He talks about making choices based on what effect they'll have in 2054, not just next year (happens to be the year he'll be as old as Trump, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush are now). He's openly gay but has managed to win several elections in deep red Indiana. And he's the most articulate and smartest candidate for president in a generation (with the possible exception of Warren, who's also truly brilliant intellectually). So Warren, Inslee, Buttigieg, I'd be happy with any of 'em, and pretty happy with several others (including Sanders and Harris, although I think Harris may be temperamentally problematic as a presidential candidate). 

The one Democratic candidate I DON'T favor is Biden, who I think has too many issues (support for very bad financial legislation and criminal justice "reform" in the 90s that did huge damage), and, like Sanders, I he's just too old. We need a younger, fresher, less compromised candidate. Of course, if we're foolish enough to nominate Biden, I will vote for him, but I will not support him before the 2020 convention and I really hope he flames out early. 


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07 February 2019

Green New Deal!

World War II quickly led to full employment. The Green New Deal, in Carter's phrase, the "moral equivalent of war," can mean the same. We MUST do this. Hooray for Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio Cortez! 

Old School Dems! Get ON BOARD NOW!  

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17 January 2019

Music Workshop, 10 AM Wednesday Jan. 23, featuring amateur performances of Bach and Beethoven, plus clarinet character pieces

My friend Phil Mandel will be playing Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata, Sonata quasi una fantasia, in c# minor, op. 27, no. 2, and possibly one other piece, and I will be doing a run-through of the Bach Partita in e minor, BWV 830, at the Music Workshop, at the Community Music Center, 3550 SE Francis St., Portland, affectionately known as "the old Firehouse," on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 10 AM. Jules Elias, an accomplished clarinettist, will also be playing to characteristic pieces for unaccompanied solo clarinet. Anyone able to and inclined to attend is more than welcome. Free. 

(Sent to out of towners just to let you know what I'm up to these days!) 

David Studhalter 

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16 January 2019

Barr confirmation and where this is heading

William Barr will be confirmed. And every self-respecting Democrat should, and most will, vote no. They should've read the transcript of the confirmation hearing for William Saxbe, Nixon's 4th AG. Rachel Maddow did a whole segment on it. They actually had Jaworski (now it would be Mueller) IN THE ROOM, and swore both of them in and got them to say they would not interfere or accept interference in the ongoing investigation or block any release of information to the Congress or the public. Instead, we got mealy mouthed wiggle room non-answers.

Of course the HUGE difference is that Democrats controlled the Senate in 1974, and they don't now.

The GOOD news is that I really think this thing has gotten so out of hand that a fairly significant cohort of Senate Republicans are starting to realize that Trump is doomed, and at some point they will have to make their break. They're just so timid and self-interested that they won't do it until they feel safe that it won't backfire on them. But I definitely got the impression that Barr EXPECTS a devastating report from Mueller, and that he realizes it's not in HIS best interests to try to go to the mat for Trump, because there will be no winning that fight. The facts are there, and they will come out. Trump will not finish his term as president. I didn't think this 6 months ago, or even two months ago, but now I think this outcome is considerably more likely than not. When the undeniable facts reach a certain critical mass, it'll be like a point of repose for a rock on a slope. That point is reached, the rock slides down the slope.


 

27 December 2018

Re: Punishing Trump

It's worth pointing out, also, that while impeaching any federal officer is ultimately a political decision, which the framers contemplated would be made by political leaders for at least partly political reasons, indictment is supposed to be objective, fact-based, handled by a part of the government which, like the military, is sworn to be non-partisan and non-political in its actions, namely the Attorney General and Dept. of Justice. Of course Trump doesn't get this (and his recent speech shows he also thinks the military is supposed to be loyal to him, just as dictators always do). But the point is that Democrats should have no policy, no agenda, and express no opinion, on indictment. If the US attorneys or state AGs determine that they can indict a sitting president under the present circumstances (and there is a strong current of legal scholarly opinion that they can), then whether they do so should be decided without interference from politicians of either party. 

On Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 9:55 PM Jim Heidt <jimh6951@gmail.com> wrote:
Friend Glen G in Naples, FL wants to move on
with indictments for all the criminals in the
Trump Administration including Trump himself.

Here is my "read" on the issues.     JGH 

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Jim Heidt <jimh6951@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 2:31 PM
Subject: Punishing Trump
To: Glen5272 <glen5272@aol.com>, david saylor <davidsaylor@mac.com>


Hi Glen,

I think he should be indicted and stand on
trial and go to the slammer just like Cohen,
Manifort and Flynn and others.......but....

I think putting a president in jail would tear
the country apart.  38 to 40% believe he is
a wonderful president and was "unfairly"
targeted by the "evil" Democrats.

Indict his three older children and Stone and
other criminals, but, like Nixon, it's better to
not lock up a president.  Kick them out and 
have them suffer the consequences of being
ranked as the worst president and go away.

The Democrats can overplay their hand and
push for Impeachment right away...even though
there is good evidence for it.   Come in to Congress
with a positive message and wait to see the Mueller
Report and then take it from there.

Nothing to be gained by turning the US into a
Banana Republic and have the new Administration 
put the former guys in jail.

The main goal is to get Trump out of the White House.

Peace and Love.   Jim



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Je sais que ma naissance est un hasard, un accident risible, et cependant, dès que je m'oublie, je me comporte comme si elle était un événement capital, indispensable à la marche et à l'équilibre du monde.

--Emil Cioran

07 December 2018

Kevin O'Leary guest hosts MUST HEAR Background Briefing focusing on Climate Crisis

 Even if you don't normally listen to podcasts, you OWE IT TO YOURSELF to follow this link and listen to this edition of Background Briefing. Kevin O'Leary guest hosts. (Ian Masters normally hosts; this one is a guest host because Masters is on a rare vacation... the man produces 5 excellent 1 hour podcast/radio shows PER WEEK, so it's amazing he hasn't had a nervous breakdown by now!). You can just click and listen to it on your computer.

Topics: Sunrise Movement to make Climate Crisis a key issue in our politics and the Democratic party; "Green New Deal" to foster the concept that Climate Catastrophe will destroy our economy, but investment in dealing with it will actually create jobs and prosperity; and finally reform of Corporate Governance as a key to future economic growth, equity and stability.

30 November 2018

Stephan Schwartz's The Awakening

 I just finished reading Stephan Schwartz's The Awakening. He's a neuroscientist and sort of latter day Alvin Toffleresqe futurist, who obviously believes, as many of us now do, that human civilization is at a major crossroads as a result of the Climate Catastrophe. Many roads lead to very dire outcomes; a few may lead to a more sustainable world. 

Anyway, there are certain points of congruence in this novel with the science fiction ideas I've been thinking about, although his theories about universal consciousness being eternal and separate from matter and energy are, I think, either a fictional device or (more likely) systematic new agey wishful thinking on his part. As is the mostly tacit assumption that the Saganian view of the prevalence of extraterrestrial intelligence (and even humanoid form) is correct. I am about as sure, speculatively speaking, that this is not the way the world really is, as I am about anything. In my view, complex life is pretty rare, maybe even extremely rare, in the universe (so far; its prevalence has great potential to grow exponentially in the future); contemporaneously existing intelligent civilizations are at least two orders of magnitude rarer still; really long range space travel is essentially impossible; and even long range communication is hobbled by the speed of light, which means that civilizations' intercommunication, when it is even practical at all, is so slow that it can only amount to exchange of histories and broad perspectives. Science, apart from esoterica, is likely to be more a shared background than a frontier. And consciousness arises from, and is limited by, matter and energy, it does not exist apart from and without reference to the limitations of, matter, energy, or, for that matter, spacetime. I know, puritanism in space, not fun at all, etc. But I'm pretty sure these broad points are accurate.

Schwartz's novel is readable, but it's not great literature. One thing that is similar to what I've been thinking about is that it's more or less utopian, a type of literature that has been out of fashion for quite a while. 

Apropos, although you cannot rule out absolutely the possibility that extraterrestrials at some point in the 4,000 million year history of life on Earth have physically visited this planet, Sagan's dictum that "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" at some point has to be squared with Occam's razor. I believe that if anything even remotely like the idea were true that there were some thousands of spacefaring civilizations in our galaxy, and they were for whatever zoo hypothesis/prime directive/Galactic primitives non-interference protocol or whatever essentially quarantining our planet, it would amount to the greatest conspiracy theory ever. And thing about conspiracies, is that they are only ever real when they're small scale. Think about it. Large scale secret cabals to keep the truth from the masses are always paranoid fantasies. I can think of no single exception. The fact is that it just isn't possible to keep those kinds of secrets. People tell tales. Things get out. And even on the scale of the cosmic, it's just not believable to me that stealth technology and unity of purpose among the ETs could keep the presence of ET technology perfectly secret for years or centuries. By the same token, if spacefaring cultures really were prevalent, even within my postulated constraints of slower-than-light travel only, within less than a very few million years, it would have been quite feasible for them to have visited and cataloged every single living planet in the galaxy and be working on the Clouds of Magellan and thinking about nearby galaxies M31 and M33. So my conclusion is that, so far, in our still relatively young universe, such technology remains really quite rare.  (In fact, we have no actual evidence that it exists at all, anywhere). Because I just don't see any reason to believe that our planet has been or is being visited by ETs, and I think we've already reached the point in the various SETI strategies that the absence of any evidence has set some quite real constraints on just how common, and how advanced, the technologies of any contemporaneous denizens of our galaxy may be. Notnecessarily none, but few; and none of them have had real spacefaring technology for really long periods of time. Yet

I rest my case, I believe it to be what the evidence (including lack thereof) shows. And while Schwartz's book is interesting for its perspective on our current global predicament, if it is intended to be a plausible scenario for something that could actually happen, well, not so much. 

27 November 2018

Topsy Turvy World

We live in Topsy Turvy world. The Guardian reports that one of the things Manafort lied about is his repeated meetings from 2013 to 2016 with Julian Assange. Look, whatever you may think about the NSA and Snowden and all that, it's pretty clear that Assange is a virtual Russian agent. So this latest revelation means one thing pretty damn clearly: Trump's campaign did indeed collude with Russians and Russian cutouts. (Not that we didn't already have quite a bit of more circumstantial evidence of that). And what is the news out of the WH? Trump says Mueller is doing "tremendous damage to the country." And the press corps acts like it's just the usual case of he-said, they-said. Our government is headed by an arch criminal and traitor, and our Congress and media mostly act like it's Reality TV.  

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26 November 2018

Stephan Schwartz, Four Mega-trends

Stephan Schwartz is a neuroscientist, popular science and science fiction writer, and "trendspotter". Excellent interview with him on Thanksgiving's Ian Masters program [ https://www.backgroundbriefing.org/ ]. He identifies four major trends predominant in today's America and the World:

1. Being born white no longer confers economic and social privilege and power;
2. Being born male no longer confers dominance (for the first time in about 5000 years);
3. Western cultural and political values are no longer determinative in the World;
4. The rise of a sort of neofeudal aristocracy of wealth and technology, that is separating the world's population into a miniscule elite of corporate quasi-state owners and a small managerial elite, on the one hand, and a serfdom of workers and underclass on the other.

Me editorializing: The first three can be positives, long term, but the fourth, coupled with the literal existential challenge we face with the Climate Catastrophe, will be the test of whether human civilization can endure, or NOT.

http://www.schwartzreport.net/

He makes the case, incidentally, that the rise of Trump and Trumpism, which is a symptom, not a thing in itself, can be mostly attributed to FEAR, and that primarily derived from trends 1 and 2, and to some extent the other two as well. White males, in particular, fear the loss of their perceived status and power in the context of these large scale trends.

He also makes a convincing case that one of the causes of the pervasive fear that is fueling right wing populism worldwide is an inchoate, even unconscious sense of dread arising from the threat of the Climate Catastrophe. People know, on some level, that we are in for a rough time over the next however many decades; that it's real, and that there's no escape from some really serious consequences. Yet rather than reacting rationally, and demanding mitigation and remediation, which is what a rational actor would do, many people react out of fear and even panic, and lash out with hatred, vilification of the other, and all the usual nationalist and fascist trends, not because they make any sense, but just because people are scared shitless, whether consciously or not, and have no idea what to do.

This is a huge challenge, but also an opportunity, for progressive leadership.

22 November 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Brad and I will be in the Bay Area (Marin). Give me a call if you're in the area! And may we all have a peaceful and hopeful holiday. 

David & Brad 
 

13 November 2018

Democratic Gains Grown Stronger

Could we have, nay, DID we, hope for a more overwhelming national repudiation of Trump than the 2018 MidTerm? Of course! There is almost no scenario in which we wouldn't have said that! But you gotta admit, there's something kinda sweet about today's NYT headline: "A Week After the Election, Democratic Gains Grow Stronger."

Most of the late counted votes have broken our way, for a variety of demographic reasons (and not because of nonexistent voter fraud, as screamed by Repubs with no evidence at all).

Nelson in a recount in FL remains unlikely, but Sinema and Tester were far from sure things on election night, but now their victories are beyond doubt. And there are several House seats of which the same can be said.