HATE HARVEST HISTORY (REPEATING IN 2018, 2019 and 2020?)


    Are forces unleashed in today’s U.S. (with help from Putin’s Russia) behind attacks on Jews and Blacks related to the origin story related below? How does this relate to Trump and his collaborators today?
The waves of anti-Semitism emanating from Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany and the prospects of American involvement in the war in Europe convinced the Christian Americans to tone down their anti-Semitic rhetoric by the early 1940s. As Vance Muse’s co-worker and wife, Maria, confessed in 1943, “Christian Americans can’t afford to be anti-Semitic outwardly, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right.”

 

Michael Pierce

Michael Pierce, associate professor at University of Arkansas, is working on a book project examining the rise and fall of New Deal-style liberalism in Arkansas. He is the author of Striking with the Ballot: Ohio Labor and the Populist Party

View all posts by Michael Pierce »

As Kentucky legislators pass a measure outlawing the union shop and Missouri’s General Assembly contemplates doing the same, it is worth remembering that so-called Right-to-Work laws originated as means to maintain Jim Crow labor relations and to beat back what was seen as a Jewish cabal to foment a revolution. No one was more important in placing Right-to-Work on the conservatives’ political agenda than Vance Muse of the Christian American Association, a larger-than-life Texan whose own grandson described him as “a white supremacist, an anti-Semite, and a Communist-baiter, a man who beat on labor unions not on behalf of working people, as he said, but because he was paid to do so.”

The idea for Right-to-Work laws did not originate with Muse. Rather it came from Dallas Morning News editorial writer William Ruggles, who on Labor Day 1941 called for the passage of a United States Constitution amendment prohibiting the closed or union shop. Muse visited Ruggles soon thereafter and secured the writer’s blessing for the Christian American Association’s campaign to outlaw contracts that required employees to belong to unions. Ruggles even suggested to Muse the name for such legislation—Right-to-Work.

But Muse first attracted national attention through his work with Texas lumberman John Henry Kirby in the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution, which sought to deny Roosevelt’s re-nomination in 1936 on grounds that the New Deal threatened the South’s racial order. Despite its name, the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution received funding from prominent northern anti-New Deal industrialists and financiers including John Jacob Raskob, Alfred P. Sloan, and brothers Lammot, Irénée, and Pierre du Pont. Among Muse’s activities on behalf of the Southern Committee was the distribution of what Time called “cheap pamphlets containing blurred photographs of the Roosevelts consorting with Negroes” accompanied by “blatant text proclaiming them ardent Negrophiles.” Muse later defended the action and the use of its most provocative photograph: “I am a Southerner and for white supremacy . . . . It was a picture of Mrs. Roosevelt going to some nigger meeting with two escorts, niggers, on each arm.”

Vance Muse, who would later lead the fight for Right-to-Work, and Texas lumberman John Henry Kirby organized the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution in 1936. The Southern Committee—funded by northerners like John J. Raskob, Alfred P. Sloan, and the du Pont brothers—insisted that the New Deal threatened the South’s racial order and sought to defeat Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection effort.

In 1936, on the heels of the Southern Committee’s failure to deny Roosevelt’s nomination, Muse incorporated the Christian American Association to continue the fight against the New Deal, offering up a toxic mix of anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Communism, and anti-unionism. The Christian Americans considered the New Deal to be part of the broader assault of “Jewish Marxism” upon Christian free enterprise. The organization’s titular head, Lewis Valentine Ulrey, explained that after their success in Russia the “Talmudists” had determined to conquer the rest of the world and that “by 1935 they had such open success with the New Deal in the United States, that they decided to openly restore the Sanhedrin,” that is, both the council of Jewish leaders who oversaw a community and the Jewish elders who, according to the Bible, plotted to kill Christ. This “modern Jewish Sanhedrin”—which included people like Justice Frankfurter and NAACP board member Rabbi Stephen Wise—served as the guiding force of the Roosevelt Administration and the New Deal state. Vance Muse voiced the same anti-Semitic ideas in much simpler terms: “That crazy man in the White House will Sovietize America with the federal hand-outs of the Bum Deal—sorry, New Deal. Or is it the Jew Deal?”

By the early 1940s, Muse and the Christian Americans, like many southern conservatives, focused much of their wrath on the labor movement, especially the unions associated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations. The Christian Americans solicited wealthy southern planters and industrialists for funds to help break the “strangle hold radical labor has on our government” through the enactment of anti-union laws. Muse and his allies continued to claim that Marxist Jews were pulling the national government’s strings, but the membership of this cabal shifted from the likes of Wise and Frankfurter to CIO leaders like Lee Pressman and Sidney Hillman. The Christian Americans, like other southern conservatives, insisted that the CIO—which had become shorthand for Jewish Marxist unions—was sending organizers to the rural South to inflame the contented but gullible African-American population as the first step in a plot to Sovietize the nation.

The waves of anti-Semitism emanating from Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany and the prospects of American involvement in the war in Europe convinced the Christian Americans to tone down their anti-Semitic rhetoric by the early 1940s. As Vance Muse’s co-worker and wife, Maria, confessed in 1943, “Christian Americans can’t afford to be anti-Semitic outwardly, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right.”

Muse and the Christian Americans initially had little luck selling their Right-to-Work amendment but did have success peddling a pre-packaged anti-strike law to planters and industrialists first in Texas and then later in Mississippi and Arkansas. This law made strikers, but not strikebreakers or management, criminally libel for any violence that occurred on the picket line. For a fee, Muse and his organization would lobby legislators and mobilize public support through newspaper advertisements, direct mail campaigns, and a speakers’ bureau. In Arkansas, Muse and the Christian Americans portrayed the anti-strike measure as a means to allow “peace officers to quell disturbances and keep the color line drawn in our social affairs” and promised that it would “protect the Southern Negro from communistic propaganda and influences.”

The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation and allied industrialists were so pleased with the Christian American Association’s success in passing the anti-strike measure that they agreed to underwrite a campaign in 1944 to secure a Right-to-Work amendment for the Arkansas constitution. This placed Arkansas alongside Florida and California as the first states where voters could cast ballots for Right-to-Work laws. While Muse and the Christian Americans consulted with the campaigns in California and Florida, they led the one in Arkansas.

During the Arkansas campaign, the Christian Americans insisted that right-to-work was essential for the maintenance of the color line in labor relations. One piece of literature warned that if the amendment failed “white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes . . . whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.” Similarly, the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation justified its support of Right-to-Work by citing organized labor’s threat to Jim Crow. It accused the CIO of “trying to pit tenant against landlord and black against white.”

In November 1944, Arkansas and Florida became the first states to enact Right-to-Work laws (California voters rejected the measure). In both states, few blacks could cast free ballots, election fraud was rampant, and political power was concentrated in the hands of an elite. Right-to-Work laws sought to make it stay that way, to deprive the least powerful of a voice, and to make sure that workers remained divided along racial lines. The current push for Right-to-Work in Kentucky and Missouri (along with the fueling of nativism) does something similar—it is an attempt to persuade white working people that unions and racialized others are more responsible for their plight than the choices made by capital.

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Putin’s longterm aim: reverse America’s Cold War win


Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to take his place with French President Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump, and first lady Melania Trump at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France on November 11, 2018.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to take his place with French President Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump, and first lady Melania Trump at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

 

Republicans were once proud of claiming that Ronald Reagan won the Cold War. “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear down this wall” was the moment often cited as the key point of challenge in a war that threatened more than once to end life on the planet as it waxed and waned from 1946 to 1991. When the wall came down in 1989 and the USSR unraveled until it collapsed in 1991, Republicans stood as the party that took the firmest defense of America’s interests abroad. That stance of confronting any and all threats, both real and imagined, to the US backed global order continued throughout the Bush I and Bush II regimes. Republicans, including Trump, frequently attacked the Clinton and Obama administrations for their supposedly weak defense of American interests  abroad.

But when the Russians attacked us in the citadel of our democracy, our elections, Republicans actively cooperated with Russia to cover up and deny that attack, and even took money from organizations such as the NRA that appear to have been turned into laundromats for Russian money. Meanwhile, Republican Supreme Court nominees in the Citizens United decision threw the door open to dark money and ensured that this dark money would be untraceable.  In effect the Republican majority on the Supreme Court turned the Constitution, with its protections of fundamental rights and democratic processes, into a suicide pact in which dark money from whatever sources could be used to turn us against ourselves.

Now, Republicans defend a president who seems determined to aid former spy, current Russian dictator Vladmir Putin, to reverse that Cold War victory. Moscow Mitch may be an epithet, but it accurately reflects the core of compromise and accommodation that now characterizes what was once described as the party of Ronald Reagan, the man who won the Cold War. Now, Republicans stand firmly behind, and beside, and in front in defending Trump, a man who appears determined to leave the United States without allies, without alliances, and surrounded on all sides by enemies determined to redraw the maps of the post WWII/post Cold War world.

This is not an imagined fear. It is all too real, and very far along in its progress. Yet no Democratic debate yet has really probed this threat to our freedoms and even our existence as a nation. This must be recified in the coming debate. Make no mistake about it, as Bill Taylor’s 15 pages of opening testimony attests, NATO and the European Alliance are in deep peril. Russia has already and continues to use force to redraw the post Cold War European map. American allies in Ukraine and Syria are dying as a result of Trump’s treachery. Russia has the center of the NATO line already weakened. With Turkey’s connaivance, Russia has now weakened the southern flank. And Trump is doing all he can to wreck America’s Pacific alliances and the China Card Reagan played that was crucial in ending the Cold War.

I spent the final years of the Cold War between the USSR and USA living and working in Hong Kong, which was then described as the window on China and a hotbed of agents of all sides on the prowl for intel. Reagan was in his final two years as President. As China reformed and opened up during the 1980s, the peril and isolation of the USSR grew. This was readily discernible from Hong Kong, where I continued to live until late 2015, teaching in a department of government and international studies. When the West, in no uncertain terms, punished China for the mid-1989 Tiananmen Square massacre with sanctions and with effectively siphoning off many of the most promising Chinese students abroad, Soviet leaders knew that their shaky economy could not withstand a similar response. And this played a role in the hesitancy they exhibited as demonstrations grew throughout the Soviet bloc and eventually spread to the USSR “republics” themselves.

The unity of the West, led by the United States, and buttressed by our ringing affirmations of democracy and freedom in defensive alliances such as the UN and NATO, as well as in agencies of economic cooperation and freedom such as the World Bank and WTO (then the GATT), constrained and then collapsed the dictatorships that ruled the majority of humanity during the Cold War. The Ukraine, as a result, broke free.

Russia has never accepted Ukraine’s independence and it appears it still covets its lost global influence. Putin appears determined to resurrect Russian global power and simultaneously destroy America’s.

This Cold War victory is thus in very real danger of being reversed. If Putin can break up the EU and NATO, the United States loses access and assistance from what is currently the largest economic bloc on the planet. Technically, the US and EU together command about 40% of the global economy. With the Asian alliance with Japan and our strong relations with China, well over half the global economy was strongly influenced by the United States as of 2016. But America alone is about 16-18% of the global economy, and shrinking. In purchasing power parity terms, China is already larger economically than the US according to the World Bank. A Russia-China bloc would have immense global influence without a US-EU-Japan and other allies block to counter it. If the US is weakend enough, you can be certain China will move to secure its hold over the entire South China Sea and over Taiwan. Japan, alone, would have no choice but to secure its vital trade routes through the South China Sea by alliance with China instead of the US. Other Pacific allies such as Australia and NZ, much of South America and Central Asia would shift orbit from the US to China.

Without our global alliances, the United States would be isolated in a world very much increasingly imperiled by global threats such as climate change and the rampant spread of nuclear weaponry. Even a “small” nuclear war between Pakistan and India would, as recent studies show, kill hundreds of millions globally. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently noted the world is in as much or even more danger of nuclear war now than during the Cold War.

The global threats are growing. Our alliances and influence are weakening. This is a recipe for disaster, both to the US and our planet.

In attacking our democratic system and rule of law, Putin is attacking the very core of the global security and trade system that reflects and protects those values. There is no question Trump shares that hatred of democracy and rule of law with his master, Putin. With Trump disrupting and neglecting the UN, NATO, and the WTO—attacking all those agencies that globalized American democratic and legal values and systems, he proves himself a positive, present danger to the American Republic. His actions are wholly traitorous.

Yes, all these agencies need to better reflect our democratic values and better protect us as human beings, but they cannot be made better if they are destroyed. We cannot advance the global cooperation needed to address climate change and nuclear weapons without them. We cannot defend ourselves, our climate, our values, or our trade and hence prosperity alone. But Trump and Republicans today appear determined to strip us defenseless and to render us impotent.

Trump must be impeached and removed from office. And all those who defend this traitor must similarly be investigated for any criminality that may be found and/or voted from office. That includes Moscow Mitch, who may actually be a witting agent of Beijing, not Moscow, or perhaps of both. Assuredly, he is no patriot. Further, the “good behavior” of US Supreme Court justices who opened the door for Russian intervention and the destruction of our democracy must be fully, carefully investigated by Congress. If questionable associations (Deutschebank and a particular former justice come to mind) led to the majority forming this disastrous decision, the decision itself must be reconsidered. And if the “majority” do not reverse the decision, steps must be taken to impeach and remove justices who insist on forcing the United States to commit suicide. It cannot be considered “good behavior” to actively assist those who aim to destroy the nation.

As was said long ago, Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country. We are clearly under attack from foes both foreign and domestic. Remember your oaths. Read the many diaries laying out how to assist in the coming election, and do your part, and do your part now in supporting our Congressional representatives who are standing up for us and our nation against those who want nothing less than to become rich by assisting the dismantling of this country.

Multiple actors in the United States, Russia, and Ukraine have been promoting the idea of investigating Ukraine’s alleged election meddling, as well as the inquiry about the Bidens. The calls for such measures have been promoted especially by Ukrainian lawmakers known for their pro-Russian views, including Yuri Boyko, the co-chairman of Ukraine’s biggest pro-Russian party.

“Russia’s influence over its largest European neighbor can be restored only by undermining the American involvement.”

According to the English-language Ukrainian newspaper Kyiv Post, three other Ukrainian lawmakers—Oleg Voloshyn, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, and Andriy Derkach—are also “doing Trump’s dirty work” to try to prompt the investigations he demanded from the Ukrainian president.

The Kyiv Post pointed out the lawmakers’ links to the oligarch Dmytro Firtash, discredited former Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, and President Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort.

Voloshyn, who calls Manafort his friend, authored a flattering opinion piece about him in December 2017. At the time, Robert Mueller’s prosecutors argued that Manafort violated a gag order by heavily editing Voloshyn’s op-ed that attempted to whitewash Manafort’s work in Ukraine.

The politically motivated investigations of the Bidens and Ukraine’s alleged interference in the U.S. elections would play right into President Vladimir Putin’s hands by jeopardizing bipartisan U.S. support for Kyiv. The Kremlin, which seized and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, sees Ukraine as the highly coveted jewel of the post-Soviet region. But Russia’s influence over its largest European neighbor can be restored only by undermining the American involvement. Putin personally pitched in to paint a negative picture of Ukraine, when President Trump inexplicably sought his “guidance” on how to deal with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Kremlin has strived continually to drive a wedge between the United States and Ukraine in order to get the country back firmly into Russia’s sphere of influence. Russian state media repeatedly urge the Ukrainian government to go along with Trump’s demands, no matter how humiliating, or else lose any hope of continued U.S. support.

The host of Russian news talk show 60 Minutes, Evgeny Popov, warned: “If Trump gets re-elected, and you don’t investigate Biden… [Ukraine] won’t get anything from America. Not a thing.” The co-host of 60 Minutes, Olga Skabeeva, scoffed: “With respect to mutual American-Ukrainian love, as we know, nothing lasts forever,” adding, “Trump could spit on Ukraine.”

The leader of a pro-Russian group of Ukrainians, Yuriy Kot, picked up that refrain: “Trump could spit on Ukraine!” Kot added that if Trump is re-elected, Ukraine can expect “four more years of hell from the United States of America. You don’t even understand the horror that is coming your way.” Skabeeva summed up: “For Ukraine, this is a catastrophe… Americans are directly telling you they’re sick of you. Nobody needs you.”

“Trump could spit on Ukraine.”
— Olga Skabeeva, co-hose of Russia’s “60 Minutes”

Such demoralizing drivel from Russian state media is, of course, designed to push the fledgling democracy away from the U.S. and back into Russia’s orbit.

Trump, for his part, has been in the “blame Ukraine” camp for years as a way to diminish or discredit the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community and many of its Western allies that, as Fiona Hill pointed out, Putin had waged a systematic effort to undermine U.S. democracy, with support for Trump a part of that strategy.

Putin and Trump reportedly have discussed allegations of Ukrainian interference in U.S. elections. In a 2017 Oval Office meeting, Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s election interference. At the G20 in June of this year, Trump grinned and playfully wagged his finger as he told Putin: “Don’t meddle in the election.”

One month later, during Trump’s now infamous July 25 call with Ukraine’s Zelensky, Trump urged him to investigate Ukraine’s alleged meddling in the U.S. elections—and the lesson drawn from all this by Putin?  Appearing at the economic forum Russia Calling, he smirked: “Thank God no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

But here’s the fact of the matter. Russia’s unprecedented interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been described, with reason, as “the most successful influence campaign in history, one that will be studied globally for decades,” and it is far from over.

Instead of counteracting Russia’s malign influence, American foreign policy under Trump is seemingly being guided by it and leaders of the Republican Party are doing their best to aid and abet that program.

The wave of Kremlin disinformation started with faceless workers at the St. Petersburg “troll factory” banging away at their keyboards, striving to reach everyday not-very-well-informed Americans who would in turn misinform others within their sphere of influence.

The operation surpassed Putin’s wildest dreams when ripples of disinformation surged into a tsunami as Candidate Trump and then President Trump started openly to recite Russia’s fictive talking points. The range of dissemination was then magnified by Trump’s Republican supporters, along with his 67 million Twitter followers, and media outlets hanging on to every word uttered by the leader of the mightiest country in the world.

In sum, there’s no question the presidency of Donald J. Trump has proved to be enormously beneficial for the Kremlin, and supporters of the Russian president are openly rooting for Trump’s re-election.

Russian state television channel Rossiya-1 has dispatched its reporter Denis Davydov to broadcast directly from the impeachment hearings and, probably this should not be a surprise, Russian state-media coverage sounded eerily like much of  Fox News, echoing the disingenuous claims by Trump supporters that there was no pressure against Ukraine and no “quid pro quo.”

For the first time in modern history, in the era of Trump, Russian state television is more than happy to support the Republicans—and for a good reason.

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“Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last?” a lesson for today’s Trump Republicans in Congress?


1954, June 9, the Army McCarthy Hearings

“Have you no sense of decency?” Sen. Joseph McCarthy is asked in hearing.

JOSEPH N. WELCH

In a dramatic confrontation, Joseph Welch, special counsel for the U.S. Army, lashes out at Senator Joseph McCarthy during hearings on whether communism has infiltrated the U.S. armed forces. Welch’s verbal assault marked the end of McCarthy’s power during the anticommunist hysteria of the Red Scare in America.

Senator McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) experienced a meteoric rise to fame and power in the U.S. Senate when he charged in February 1950 that “hundreds” of “known communists” were in the Department of State. In the years that followed, McCarthy became the acknowledged leader of the so-called Red Scare, a time when millions of Americans became convinced that communists had infiltrated every aspect of American life. Behind closed-door hearings, McCarthy bullied, lied, and smeared his way to power, destroying many careers and lives in the process. Prior to 1953, the Republican Party tolerated his antics because his attacks were directed against the Democratic administration of Harry S. Truman. When Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953, however, McCarthy’s recklessness and increasingly erratic behavior became unacceptable and the senator saw his clout slowly ebbing away. In a last-ditch effort to revitalize his anticommunist crusade, McCarthy made a crucial mistake. He charged in early 1954 that the U.S. Army was “soft” on communism. As Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, McCarthy opened hearings into the Army.

Joseph N. Welch, a soft-spoken lawyer with an incisive wit and intelligence, represented the Army. During the course of weeks of hearings, Welch blunted every one of McCarthy’s charges. The senator, in turn, became increasingly enraged, bellowing “point of order, point of order,” screaming at witnesses, and declaring that one highly decorated general was a “disgrace” to his uniform. On June 9, 1954, McCarthy again became agitated at Welch’s steady destruction of each of his arguments and witnesses. In response, McCarthy charged that Frederick G. Fisher, a young associate in Welch’s law firm, had been a long-time member of an organization that was a “legal arm of the Communist Party.” Welch was stunned. As he struggled to maintain his composure, he looked at McCarthy and declared, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” It was then McCarthy’s turn to be stunned into silence, as Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” The audience of citizens and newspaper and television reporters burst into wild applause. Just a week later, the hearings into the Army came to a close. McCarthy, exposed as a reckless bully, was officially condemned by the U.S. Senate for contempt against his colleagues in December 1954. During the next two-and-a-half years McCarthy spiraled into alcoholism. Still in office, he died 4 years later.

(Courtesy History.com)

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Update to: IMPERIAL AMUSEMENTS: as Congress and the Judiciary in the U.S. slide into impotence


Anxious to seize control of Germany’s faltering economy from Socialists and independent Labor organizations, its industrialists lavishly funded the Nazi party and its bid to enter and control parliament.

Having accomplished this via two elections in 1932, and to signal its primacy to the German population, barrels of fuel were rolled through a utility tunnel connecting the building containing Herman Goering’s (Hitler’s Deputy) office and the basement of the Reichstag, Germany’s historic seat of parliament. Ample excuse to dismiss the existing parliament, substituting a “rump” parliament functioning as a cheering section for Hitler.

Upon ignition, the results below, a hapless Dutch fellow was spotted near the scene, arrested, convicted in a sham trial and promptly executed for the crime.

ReichstagFire-clips-27Feb1933ReichstagFire

Today (2019) in the U.S., a version, much more subtle, is playing out, as a launching pad for the Trump Imperial Dynasty is being constructed. It started earlier, when Senator Mike McConnell made the decision to populate our Federal judiciary with robotic Russian dolls united in their zeal to dismantle guarantees provided in the Constitution and its amendments to insure equality of opportunity and access to redress.

The opportunistic candidacy of Donald Trump for the Presidency of the United States, and the intervention of astute entities under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin presented McConnell and other actors with unprecedented opportunities to fulfill their vision of totalitarian rule to suppress shared prosperity initiatives and inclusive political participation.

Key to this conundrum is something described as Trump’s “base”, committed to massive traffic and commerce in military style firearms, narrowly defined fundamentalist “Christian” criteria applying to every aspect of existence, and exclusion of all “others” from civil, academic, scientific and political life.

NZListener-Cover-Trump

Artist: Joseph Qiu, 2018

EMPERORS OF ANY AGE HAVE THEIR HANGERS-ON AND ___ LICKERS. HOLD YOUR NOSE!

On a related issue, demagogues always coarsen societies, as in the example below, recorded by the Roman writer Juvenal: “These men once were horn-blowers, who went the round of every provincial show, and whose puffed-out cheeks were known in every village; today they hold shows of their own, and win applause by slaying
whomsoever the mob with a turn of the thumb bids them slay.”(the emperor’s thumb down, his subjects slavishly copy him–a choice driven by fear of the emperor’s wrath, or a place at the hog trough?)

Pollice Verso, by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Leon Gerome 1872

                        Thumbs down, all must die! Hurry up–an orgy awaits!

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (middle) will award the winner of the UFC 224 fight with a one-of-a-kind belt that cost $50,000

DJT’s choice in Imperial amusements 2019–no swords or bludgeons, but lethal fists and kicks in a cage–do we need a whip and a chair to make the spectacle complete?

Humans are the only species that will act out fantasies putting themselves and others in danger out of pure paranoia. Paranoia is strictly a human condition.It is, when you think about it, extraordinary that we are not prey for most apex predators, including orcas and sperm whales, the largest predator who has ever lived on earth. The book:            

              Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (1996)

(By Richard W. Wrangham and Dale Peterson) points out that,  in only two mammal species in the world do males live in social groups with their relatives and occasionally make journeys into neighboring territories to stalk, hunt and kill members of neighboring groups. Those two species are chimpanzees and humans. He also notes that fighting adults of almost all species normally stop at winning: Only humans will fight on, even when there is nothing defensive to be gained by the killing.

 

But are we really “man the hunter,” as was believed in the 1960s? Donna Hart, in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Humans as Prey,” points out that humans were hardly “the toughest kids on the block” for the vast majority of their time on earth. Quite the contrary-we were more like the 90-pound weakling, she says. She and others believe, and I agree, that an urge to cooperate with one another, even if only to help avoid predators, is built in: “Deadly competition among individuals or nations may be highly aberrant behavior, not hard-wired survival techniques.”

    Does “FEAR”, promoted by toxic propaganda in concert with corrupt politicians stimulate the “highly aberrant behavior” referenced? Is this a threat to our survival as a species?

 

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WHATEVER TRUMP DOES DOESN’T MATTER (to his “base”). Is below an explanation?


 

Bobby Azarian Ph.D.

Mind In The Machine/Psychology Today, 9/30/19

Cognitive Impairments Can Promote Religious Fundamentalism (and political extremism?)

Scientists have found a link between religious fundamentalism and brain damage.

study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has revealed a connection between a functional impairment in the brain region known as the prefrontal cortex and an inclination toward religious fundamentalism. The findings suggest that brain damage to this particular area indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait that involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

Religious beliefs can typically be thought of as socially-transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. These kinds of religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are generally fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.

Religious fundamentalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues. Fundamentalist groups generally oppose anything that questions or challenges their beliefs or way of life. For this reason, they are often aggressive towards anyone who does not share their specific set of supernatural beliefs, and towards science, as these things are seen as existential threats to their entire worldview.

Since religious beliefs play a massive role in driving and influencing human behavior throughout the world, it is important to understand the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism from a psychological and neurological perspective.

To investigate the cognitive and neural systems involved in religious fundamentalism, a team of researchers—led by Jordan Grafman of Northwestern University—conducted a study that utilized data from Vietnam War veterans that had been gathered previously. The vets were specifically chosen because a large number of them had damage to brain areas suspected of playing a critical role in functions related to religious fundamentalism. CT scans were analyzed comparing 119 vets with brain trauma to 30 healthy vets with no damage, and a survey that assessed religious fundamentalism was administered. While the majority of participants were Christians of some kind, 32.5% did not specify a particular religion.

Based on previous research, the experimenters predicted that the prefrontal cortex would play a role in religious fundamentalism since this region is known to be associated with something called “cognitive flexibility.” This term refers to the brain’s ability to easily switch from thinking about one concept to another, and to think about multiple things simultaneously. Cognitive flexibility allows organisms to update beliefs in light of new evidence, and this trait likely emerged because of the obvious survival advantage such a skill provides. It is a crucial mental characteristic for adapting to new environments because it allows individuals to make more accurate predictions about the world under new and changing conditions.

reverse damage to prefrontal cortex

Brain imaging research has shown that a major neural region associated with cognitive flexibility is the prefrontal cortex—specifically two areas known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Additionally, the vmPFC was of interest to the researchers because past studies have revealed its connection to fundamentalist-type beliefs.

For example, one study showed individuals with vmPFC lesions rated radical political statements as more moderate than people with normal brains, while another showed a direct connection between vmPFC damage and religious fundamentalism. For these reasons, in the present study, researchers looked at patients with lesions in both the vmPFC and the dlPFC, and searched for correlations between damage in these areas and responses to religious fundamentalism questionnaires.

According to Dr. Grafman and his team, since religious fundamentalism involves strict adherence to a rigid set of beliefs, cognitive flexibility and open-mindedness present a challenge for fundamentalists. As such, they predicted that participants with lesions to either the vmPFC or the dlPFC would score low on measures of cognitive flexibility and trait openness and high on measures of religious fundamentalism.

The results showed that, as expected, damage to the vmPFC and dlPFC was associated with religious fundamentalism. Further tests revealed that this increase in religious fundamentalism was caused by a reduction in cognitive flexibility and openness resulting from the prefrontal cortex impairment. Cognitive flexibility was assessed using a standard psychological card sorting test that involved categorizing cards with words and images according to rules. Openness was measured using a widely-used personality survey known as the NEO Personality Inventory. The data suggests that damage to the vmPFC indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by suppressing both cognitive flexibility and openness.

These findings are important because they suggest that impaired functioning in the prefrontal cortex—whether from brain trauma, a psychological disorder, a drug or alcohol addiction, or simply a particular genetic profile—can make an individual susceptible to religious fundamentalism. And perhaps in other cases, extreme religious indoctrination harms the development or proper functioning of the prefrontal regions in a way that hinders cognitive flexibility and openness

The authors emphasize that cognitive flexibility and openness aren’t the only things that make brains vulnerable to religious fundamentalism. In fact, their analyses showed that these factors only accounted for a fifth of the variation in fundamentalism scores. Uncovering those additional causes, which could be anything from genetic predispositions to social influences, is a future research project that the researchers believe will occupy investigators for many decades to come, given how complex and widespread religious fundamentalism is and will likely continue to be for some time.

By investigating the cognitive and neural underpinnings of religious fundamentalism, we can better understand how the phenomenon is represented in the connectivity of the brain, which could allow us to someday inoculate against rigid or radical belief systems through various kinds of mental and cognitive exercises.

How “fundamentalism” in its various forms-political and ideological, is exploited:

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” ~ Adolf Hitler

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think (also, What luck for rulers that men do not think).” ~ Adolf Hitler

 

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TRUMP AND WILHELM II


Former Foreign Secretary Lansdowne said, ‘It is inconceivable that they should provoke a European war, but the Emperor is becoming more irresponsible with every year that passes !
The ambassador in Paris wrote that the ‘Kaiser’s temperament was so excitable and so little to be relied on that it was impossible to say what further follies he might commit.’
Finally, Grey the British Foreign Secretary, informed the Lord of Admiralty that the fleet be ready ‘in case Germany sent France an ultimatum and the Cabinet decided that we must assist France.’
Though this crisis dissipated, Grey was ‘tired of the Emperor; he is like a battleship with steam up and the screws going, but with no rudder and you cannot tell what he will run into or what catastrophe he will cause.’
In all of the above incidents, foreign Politicians commented upon the Kaiser’s mental instabilities, and foreign relations further deteriorated.
           (note from Kilroy: we all know how this circus ended, with WWI and its child, WWII)

 

 

                WHAT TRUMP HAS IN COMMON WITH THE LAST GERMAN EMPEROR

President Donald Trump appears sui generis. Other troublesome populists, like Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, hold power. But no other nation of great influence is governed by someone so little rooted in reality and so much dominated by personality.

However, the president has a historical soul mate who ruled a century ago. The similarities are striking, though their lives obviously differed in important ways. One wonders: was the German Empire’s Kaiser Wilhelm II reincarnated as President Trump?

Wilhelm II was born in 1859 in the house of Hohenzollern. A grandson of British queen Alexandrina Victoria, he grew up in a life of wealth and privilege, though he suffered from a withered left arm as a result of a birth injury. This may well have contributed to his psychological need for affirmation, a subject that Thomas Mann deftly explored in his novel Royal Highness.

He took power in 1888 after the death of his grandfather and father. Wilhelm rejected the liberal views of his parents (his mother was British and unpopular among German conservative circles) and favored traditional autocracy. Also, he was determined to rule as well as reign. In contrast, his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm I, had mostly left governing to the famed “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck.

No other nation of great influence is governed by someone so little rooted in reality and so much dominated by personality.

Still, Wilhelm II was no dictator. Germany had a strong constitutional order and an elected Reichstag with a broader franchise than Great Britain. However, the cabinet answered to the kaiser, not the parliament. In that sense, Imperial Germany looked a lot like modern-day America, where the president is both head of state and government, and thereby manages the executive branch, in contrast to Westminster parliamentary rule.

The German Empire was not a superpower, but it was a rising great power. It possessed the world’s second-largest economy, had surpassed Great Britain in industrial strength and enjoyed a substantially larger population than France. The German army was the world’s best army. Kaiser Wilhelm’s attempt to match British naval strength failed, but the potent Kriegsmarine could not be ignored by London. Berlin also acquired a small network of overseas colonies.

The kaiser was particularly interested in international affairs. He dismissed Bismarck in 1890 and embarked upon what he termed the “New Course.” Bismarck was no liberal peacenik, but once he unified Germany and consolidated the empire’s gains, he sought stability. He was uninterested in colonies, opposed a naval race with Great Britain, and sought to keep France and Russia apart. Had his policies remained in place, World War I almost certainly would not have erupted in August 1914. Bismarck famously observed that the Balkans were not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. He was right.

Kaiser Wilhelm was aggressive, thoughtless and extraordinarily maladroit. He earned a lengthy litany of criticisms. The Economist recently observed that he “grew up to be emotionally needy, bombastic, choleric, hyperactive and hypersensitive. His personality combined with the militaristic authoritarian culture of the Prussian court to create a monarch who was extraordinarily ill-suited to lead the most powerful country in Europe.”

Historian Thomas Nipperdey called the kaiser “gifted,” but also “superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of serious, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success.”

That sounds an awful lot like the current occupant of the White House.

Kaiser Wilhelm insisted on gaining Germany “a place in the sun” by fair means or foul. Although he was nothing like Adolf Hitler in power or intention, he managed to offend ally and adversary alike. There was no Twitter then, but in 1895 the kaiser dispatched an encouraging telegram to the Boers, who were resisting British troops in the Transvaal. This won neither him nor Germany any friends or plaudits across the English Channel.

In 1900 German soldiers joined an international expedition to suppress the anti-Western “Boxer Rebellion” in China. He told them: “Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one that even today makes them seem mighty in history and legend, may the name German be affirmed by you in such a way in China that no Chinese will ever again dare to look cross-eyed at a German.” The term “Hun” was put to propaganda use against Germany during World War I.

Five years later, he inflamed tensions with France by visiting Morocco and backing the kingdom’s independence against Paris. His conduct also offended friendly states and lost Berlin support at the international conference called to defuse the crisis. In 1908, Kaiser Wilhelm gave an indiscreet, boastful, condescending interview in the Daily Telegraph, a leading British paper. During the interview, he called the British “mad” and said the German navy targeted Japan. So hostile was the reaction at home, as well as overseas, that the chastened monarch tempered his future foreign ventures.

During the European crisis after the June 28, 1914, assassination of Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to that empire’s throne, Wilhelm pushed for an aggressive response before unsuccessfully attempting to halt the rush to war with the famous “Willy-Nicky” telegram to his cousin, Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Kaiser Wilhelm was gradually sidelined during the war and forced to abdicate by the Reichswehr after Germany sought an armistice in late 1918. Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg ran the show. Kaiser Wilhelm lived out his life in exile in the Netherlands and died under Nazi occupation in 1941.

In both personality and lack of discretion, the Kaiser and the Donald seem to have a lot in common. Thankfully, history never fully repeats itself, but the two remind us of the truth of abolitionist Wendell Phillips’ observation that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

America has a more powerful legislature, an active opposition and a better developed civil society than imperial Germany-all of which should help hold President Trump in check if his more dubious personality traits lead to trouble. Nevertheless, the presidency has amassed extraordinary authority. Congressional Republicans so far have been largely pusillanimous and understandable popular anger against institutions, such as the media, undercut their influence.

One need not look to history to recognize that the next four years are likely to prove challenging. But President Trump’s closest historical model suggests the urgency of preparing an effective, nonpartisan opposition. Surely, this is a time to be vigilant in the defense of freedom.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

 

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Another “Great Dying” event pending?


‘Great Dying’: Biggest ever mass extinction triggered by global warming leaving animals unable to breathe

Study highlights potential for similar event resulting from man-made climate change, scientists say

Extreme global warming that left ocean animals unable to breathe triggered Earth’s biggest ever mass extinction, according to new research.

Around 95 per cent of marine species and 70 per cent of life on land was wiped out in the event often referred to as “The Great Dying”, which struck 252 million years ago

Previous studies have linked it with a series of massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia that filled the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.

But precisely what made the oceans so inhospitable to life has remained an unanswered question until now.

The new study, reported in the journal Science, suggests as temperatures soared the warmer water could not hold enough oxygen for most marine creatures to survive.

Lessons from the Great Dying have major implications for the fate of today’s warming world, say the US scientists.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, ocean warming could reach 20 per cent of the level experienced in the late Permian by 2100, they point out.

By the year 2300 it could reach between 35 and 50 per cent of the Great Dying extreme.

“This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic [human caused] climate change,” said lead researcher Justin Penn, a doctoral student at the University of Washington.

Before the Siberian eruptions created a greenhouse-gas planet, the Earth’s oceans had temperatures and oxygen levels similar to those present today.

In a series of computer simulations, the scientists raised greenhouse gases to match conditions during the Great Dying, causing surface ocean temperatures to increase by around 10C.

The model triggered dramatic changes in the oceans, which lost around 80 per cent of their oxygen.

Roughly half the ocean floor, mostly at deeper depths, became completely devoid of the life-sustaining gas.

The researchers studied published data on 61 modern marine species including crustaceans, fish, shellfish, corals and sharks, to see how well they could tolerate such conditions.

These findings were incorporated into the model to produce an extinction “map”.

“Very few marine organisms stayed in the same habitats they were living in – it was either flee or perish,” said co-author Dr Curtis Deutsch, also from the University of Washington.

The simulation showed the hardest hit species were those found far from the tropics and most sensitive to oxygen loss.

Data from the fossil record confirmed a similar extinction pattern was seen during The Great Dying.

Tropical species already adapted to warm, low-oxygen conditions were better able to find a new home elsewhere. But no such escape route existed for those adapted to cold, oxygen-rich environments.

Previously, experts were undecided about whether lack of oxygen, heat stress, high acidity or poisoning chemicals wiped out life in the oceans at the end of the Permian period.

“This is the first time that we have made a mechanistic prediction about what caused the extinction that can be directly tested with the fossil record, which then allows us to make predictions about the causes of extinction in the future,” said Mr Penn.

Experts think the Earth is currently going through the sixth mass extinction in its history, an event triggered by humans.

Over-exploitation of the planet’s resources, pollution and climate changes as a result of spiking greenhouse gas emissions have all caused an increase in species extinctions in recent years.

A new book: The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace Wells, has a few points to share on the subject. A sample, text or audio, offers an introduction. (click below)

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

Missing from the above are measures to slow or at least survive, for some, the apocalyptic future described. The impression given by some authors is that humanity will not rise to the challenge. Are they right? I suppose future generations will find out.                                                                    Kilroy

 

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THE “GREAT DYING” IN THE AMERICAS AFTER 1492, AND ITS EARTH SYSTEM IMPACTS.


The “germs” part of GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL (the PBS series and book by Professor Jared Diamond)

4 December 2018

 

Alexander Koch a, *, Chris Brierley a, Mark M. Maslin a, Simon L. Lewis a, b

a Geography, University College London, London, WC1E6BT, United Kingdom
b School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS29JT, United Kingdom

Abs t r a c t
Human impacts prior to the Industrial Revolution are not well constrained. We investigate whether the
decline in global atmospheric CO2 concentration by 7e10 ppm in the late 1500s and early 1600s which
globally lowered surface air temperatures by 0.15+C, were generated by natural forcing or were a result of
the large-scale depopulation of the Americas after European arrival, subsequent land use change and
secondary succession. We quantitatively review the evidence for (i) the pre-Columbian population size,
(ii) their per capita land use, (iii) the post-1492 population loss, (iv) the resulting carbon uptake of the
abandoned anthropogenic landscapes, and then compare these to potential natural drivers of global
carbon declines of 7e10 ppm. From 119 published regional population estimates we calculate a

           pre-1492 CE population of 60.5 million

(interquartile range, IQR 44.8e78.2 million), utilizing 1.04 ha land per
capita (IQR 0.98e1.11).

European epidemics removed 90% (IQR 87e92%) of the indigenous population over the next century.

This resulted in secondary succession of 55.8 Mha (IQR 39.0e78.4 Mha) of
abandoned land, sequestering 7.4 Pg C (IQR 4.9e10.8 Pg C), equivalent to a decline in atmospheric CO2 of
3.5 ppm (IQR 2.3e5.1 ppm CO2). Accounting for carbon cycle feedbacks plus LUC outside the Americas
gives a total 5 ppm CO2 additional uptake into the land surface in the 1500s compared to the 1400s, 47
e67% of the atmospheric CO2 decline. Furthermore, we show that the global carbon budget of the 1500s
cannot be balanced until large-scale vegetation regeneration in the Americas is included.

Global climate change graph

YELLOW BOX IS THE “GREAT DYING” TIMESPAN, BLACK IS “CARBON UPTAKE” due to reforestation, BLUE and GREY are ice cores showing atmospheric CO2 levels

 

THE GREAT DYING OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE AMERICAS RESULTED IN A HUMAN-DRIVEN GLOBAL IMPACT ON THE EARTH SYSTEM IN THE TWO CENTURIES PRIOR TO THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.

 

Amerindians in North America

Once, North America was full of Amerindian nations, populations of people ancestrally indigenous to the continent. Researchers estimate population numbers in the millions prior to the arrival of Europeans, but today Amerindians make up only about 1% of the total population. So, what happened? Well, the arrival of Europeans introduced many new things to North America. Some of those things were invisible bacteria and viruses that caused pandemic-level outbreaks amongst Amerindian populations. Now, off the bat it should be acknowledged that diseases did not single-handedly destroy Amerindian civilizations. However, when coupled with slavery, oppression and forced dietary/social changes that came from colonialism, these diseases did have an absolutely lethal impact. One of the most notorious of these diseases was smallpox, a vicious virus that even today cannot be treated except to manage its symptoms and prevent its spread. Of all the colonial empires to touch Amerindian nations, smallpox may have been the most aggressive.

Introduction of Smallpox

Smallpox found its way into the Americas basically in tandem with the first major colonial expeditions. The Spanish started setting up colonies in the Caribbean in the late 15th century, and by the first decade of the 16th century the region was already experiencing widespread mortality amongst Amerindian populations. Now, the obvious question here is why smallpox affected Amerindians so harshly. Smallpox as a disease first transferred to humans around 10,000 BCE. It appeared first in agricultural societies as humans were exposed to diseases carried by animals, and spread across Africa and Europe. But, over thousands of years they built up immunities. This doesn’t mean they were completely safe; a smallpox outbreak in Rome is believed to have killed roughly 7 million people in 108 CE. However, when smallpox appeared in the Caribbean, it encountered a people with absolutely no previous exposure, and therefore no genetic immunities to the disease.

 

Europeans landing in the Caribbean unknowingly introduced new diseases
Columbus

The people of the Caribbean, called the Taíno, were the first to really have to deal with smallpox, and they were entirely wiped out. When Europeans first arrived in the Caribbean, they often enslaved the Taíno and forced them into hard labor. Exhaustion and starvation weakened their immune systems, reducing the little ability they had to fight off new diseases like smallpox. Of the many populations to be decimated by smallpox, the Taíno are amongst the only ones considered to have experienced nearly a 100% mortality rate. In fact, it was because the Taíno had all succumbed to the disease that Europeans started importing new slaves from Africa. This actually made the smallpox problem worse, as African slaves unknowingly carried new strains of the disease.

Impact on European Colonialism

Smallpox ended up being one of the most dramatic factors in the colonial wars that would emerge between Amerindians and European empires across the next several centuries. When Hernán Cortés and the Spanish Conquistadores took on the Aztec Empire, many parts of that empire had already been ravaged by smallpox. Since the virus passes from person-to-person and can hide within a host for almost two weeks before that person shows any symptoms, smallpox worked its way into the continental Americas long before the Europeans got there. In fact, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán was ravaged by smallpox while the Spanish weren’t in the city, and the Aztec emperor himself was killed.

The disease likely reached Tenochtitlan when Cortés returned from the coast in June 1520, and by September it had killed perhaps half of the city’s 250,000 residents, including Montezuma’s successor, Cuitláhuac.

The loss of warriors and political disunity caused by the disease was part of the reasons the Aztec Empire fell.

 

Smallpox depicted in Aztec illustrations
Aztec smallpox art

This trend would continue across the Americas. When European traders first made it to what is now Oregon and Washington, they noted that there were already members of the tribal nations there who were sick with smallpox. Researchers estimate that a smallpox outbreak in a community who has never seen the disease before can impact their population for 100 to 150 years. Those who survive are still carriers of the disease, and with each generation the virus can reappear, wreaking havoc.

In 1517 the Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, arrived in Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The ruler of the Aztecs, Montezuma II, made the Spanish welcome and things were initially friendly (but obviously wary) between the Spanish and the Aztecs initially.

 

Tenochtitlan before Cortes–250,000 people, compulsory public education for all

1024px-LastDaysofTenochtitlanB

CORTES’ SOLDIERS ENCOUNTERING THE SMALLPOX VICTIMS OF TENOCHTITLAN

Notice the sophisticated boats based on Cortez’ imaginative reports to Spain, though Cortez burned his ships because he knew that his band would be unable to fashion boats to desert him. Armoured soldiers in the water would drown immediately, along with their panicked mounts.

Two years later the conquistadors began their conquest of Mexico, and by August 1521 Tenochtitlan had been destroyed. The Spanish colony of New Spain was established and the Aztec Empire had ended. The reasons for this rapid and dramatic destruction of such a mighty Empire were multi-factorial. The superior weaponry and more sophisticated military tactics of the Spanish, the religious beliefs of the Aztecs, and the long history of ritual sacrifice and persecution of the other peoples living in Mexico all played essential roles. There are a large number of detailed resources available on this subject, and I highly recommend the History on Fire podcast series by Daniele Bolleli if you are interested in the topic.

Primary Source Reading: Aztec Accounts of the Conquest

Introduction to the Source

In 1517  Hernan Cortés sailed from Cuba, landed in Mexico and made his way to the Aztec capital. Miguel Leon Portilla, a Mexican anthropologist, gathered accounts by the Aztecs, some of which were written shortly after the conquest. Note that references to the “Sun” refers to Aztec beliefs regarding the commandment of their Sun god to honor a future light-skinned visitor, a representative of the Sun god. Armored uniforms, shining in the sun, and the European light skin of Cortez’ entourage, reinforced this perception. Hostilities erupted when Spanish soldiers, with no translators among them (Malinche, Cortez’ concubine and translator, accompanied Cortez in his trek to the Veracruz to deal with soldiers sent to arrest him for defying the orders of the Spanish Governor in Cuba.)

   These soldiers perceived the celebration as somehow threatening to them because of their ignorance of Aztec language and custom, and commenced slaughter of celebrants and eventually much of Aztec leadership. Cortez returned to find a war between the Spanish and Aztecs already in progress.

Speeches of Motecuhzoma and Cortés

When Motecuhzoma [Montezuma] had given necklaces to each one, Cortés asked him: “Are you Motecuhzoma? Are you the king? Is it true that you are the king Motecuhzoma?”

And the king said: “Yes, I am Motecuhzoma.” Then he stood up to welcome Cortés; he came forward, bowed his head low and addressed him in these words: “Our lord, you are weary. The journey has tired you, but now you have arrived on the earth. You have come to your city, Mexico. You have come here to sit on your throne, to sit under its canopy.

“The kings who have gone before, your representatives, guarded it and preserved it for your coming. The kings Itzcoatl, Motecuhzoma the Elder, Axayacatl, Tizoc and Ahuitzol ruled for you in the City of Mexico. The people were protected by their swords and sheltered by their shields.

“Do the kings know the destiny of those they left behind, their posterity? If only they are watching! If only they can see what I see!
No, it is not a dream. I am not walking in my sleep. I am not seeing you in my dreams…. I have seen you at last! I have met you face to face! I was in agony for five days, for ten days, with my eyes fixed on the Region of the Mystery. And now you have come out of the clouds and mists to sit on your throne again.
This was foretold by the kings who governed your city, and now it has taken place. You have come back to us; you have come down from the sky. Rest now, and take possession of your royal houses. Welcome to your land, my lords!”

When Motecuhzoma had finished, La Malinche translated his address into Spanish so that the Captain could understand it. Cortés replied in his strange and savage tongue, speaking first to La Malinche: “Tell Motecuhzoma that we are his friends. There is nothing to fear. We have wanted to see him for a long time, and now we have seen his face and heard his words. Tell him that we love him well and that our hearts are contented.”

Then he said to Motecuhzoma: “We have come to your house in Mexico as friends. There is nothing to fear.”

La Malinche translated this speech and the Spaniards grasped Motecuhzoma’s hands and patted his back to show their affection for him….

Massacre in the Main Temple

During this time, the people asked Motecuhzoma how they should celebrate their god’s fiesta. He said: “Dress him in all his finery, in all his sacred ornaments.”

During this same time, The Sun commanded that Motecuhzoma and Itzcohuatzin, the military chief of Tlatelolco, be made prisoners. The Spaniards hanged a chief from Acolhuacan named Nezahualquentzin. They also murdered the king of Nauhtla, Cohualpopocatzin, by wounding him with arrows and then burning him alive.

For this reason, our warriors were on guard at the Eagle Gate. The sentries from Tenochtitlan stood at one side of the gate, and the sentries from Tlatelolco at the other. But messengers came to tell them to dress the figure of Huitzilopochtli. They left their posts and went to dress him in his sacred finery: his ornaments and his paper clothing.

When this had been done, the celebrants began to sing their songs. That is how they celebrated the first day of the fiesta. On the second day they began to sing again, but without warning they were all put to death. The dancers and singers were completely unarmed. They brought only their embroidered cloaks, their turquoises, their lip plugs, their necklaces, their clusters of heron feathers, their trinkets made of deer hooves. Those who played the drums, the old men, had brought their gourds of snuff and their timbrels.

The Spaniards attacked the musicians first, slashing at their hands and faces until they had killed all of them. The singers-and even the spectators- were also killed. This slaughter in the Sacred Patio went on for three hours. Then the Spaniards burst into the rooms of the temple to kill the others: those who were carrying water, or bringing fodder for the horses, or grinding meal, or sweeping, or standing watch over this work.

The king Motecuhzoma, who was accompanied by Itzcohuatzin and by those who had brought food for the Spaniards, protested: “Our lords, that is enough! What are you doing? These people are not carrying shields or macanas. Our lords, they are completely unarmed!”

The Sun had treacherously murdered our people on the twentieth day after the captain left for the coast. We allowed the Captain to return to the city in peace. But on the following day we attacked him with all our might, and that was the beginning of the war.

 

In addition to these factors, smallpox undoubtedly played a huge part in the fall of the Aztec Empire. When Cortés and his army began their campaign against the Aztecs in 1519, over 30 million people were living in Mexico. One hundred years later, after a series of smallpox epidemics had decimated the local population, it is estimated only around 1.5-3 million natives had survived.

Native Americans Helped the Europeans when they Suffered Disease

Updated on May 9, 2013

Native Americans became exposed to many new diseases when the Europeans arrived in North America. Native American communities were isolated from disease until the arrival of the Europeans. The Europeans had built up immunity to many diseases while living in the Old World. Native Americans had never been exposed to these diseases before and their traditional cures did not work. The transmission of the diseases caused more devastation in the New World than the Black Death had done in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of Natives died from these diseases. Well established trade routes helped spread the diseases very quickly. Diseases that the Europeans brought over were smallpox, measles, malaria, yellow fever, influenza, chicken pox, and many others. Diseases that were spread to the Europeans from the Natives were syphilis, polio, hepatitis, and encephalitis.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus and his crew landed in Hispaniola, an island in the Caribbean Sea, in the year 1492, and by the year 1600 most of the Natives were dead from disease. The reason they died so quickly is because the Europeans brought over livestock with them. The Natives were hunters and gatherers. The Europeans lived in tight settlements with their livestock, which helped diseases spread faster. Cattle pass measles, tuberculosis, and smallpox to people. Pigs pass influenza and pertussis to people. Chickens pass malaria to people. The Natives did not have these animals until the Europeans arrived, and did not have the antibodies to fight the diseases as well as the Europeans had. Trading with one another helped spread the diseases quickly. Alfred Crosby writes about some of these diseases in his article The Columbian Exchange, Smallpox was the worst and the most spectacular of the infectious diseases mowing down the Native Americans. The first recorded pandemic of that disease in British North America detonated among the Algonquin of Massachusetts in the early 1630s: William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation wrote that the victims “fell down so generally of this disease as they were in the end not able to help one another, no not to make a fire nor fetch a little water to drink, nor any to bury the dead.” European explorers encountered distinctively American illnesses such as Chagas Disease, but these did not have much effect on Old World populations. Venereal syphilis has also been called American, but that accusation is far from proven. Even if we add all the Old World deaths blamed on American diseases together, including those ascribed to syphilis, the total is insignificant compared to Native American losses to smallpox alone.”

Syphilis

The Europeans not only brought disease to the New World, but also brought disease with them back to the Old World. European sailors on their way back to Europe brought syphilis with them. “The origin of venereal syphilis is referred to as the “Columbian hypothesis”, it asserts that the disease causing agent Treponema pallidum originated in the New World and was spread in 1493 by Christopher Columbus and his crew, who acquired it from the Natives of Hispaniola through sexual contact. Upon return to Spain, some of these men joined the military campaign of Charles VIII of France and laid siege to Naples in 1495. Encamped soldiers exposed the local populations of prostitutes, which amplified disease transmission. Infected and disbanding mercenaries then spread the disease throughout Europe when they returned home. Within five years of its arrival, the disease was an epidemic in Europe. Syphilis reached Hungary and Russia by 1497; Africa, the Middle East and India by 1498; China by 1505; Australia by 1515; and Japan by 1569.” The most common remedies for syphilis were mercury and guaiacum.

Native Americans

The Native Americans did help the Europeans when they suffered disease. One example is when the French explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew were trapped in the St. Lawrence River near Montreal. The ships were frozen in the ice from November to March during the winter of 1535 to 1536. As a result, disease broke out on the ships and twenty-five men died. (The disease is what we now call scurvy.) The local Natives saw the Frenchmen’s plight and showed them how to take bark and leaves of a certain tree (either white pine or hemlock) boil them down and drink it every other day. Native American healers, many of them women, knew where to find natural plant remedies. Europeans would have rather received natural healing then the alternative European healing, such as purging and bleeding. Natives would treat wounds with crushed bark of Chionanthus; use Spirea as a purgative like ipecac; apply the pulverized roots and leaves of Dracontium (skunk or polecat-weed) after attacks of asthma; use a decoction of Aralia spinosa to treat rheumatic pains; apply the bark of witch hazel to tumors and inflammations and make a poultice from the inside bark as a remedy for burning eyes; relieve coughs with a decoction of Adiantum; and use the resin from the buds of the tacamahac tree for various illnesses. They also used bayberry roots for toothaches and petroleum to relieve rheumatism and aches and pains.

Europeans

The Europeans also helped the Native Americans when they were suffering. Traditional Native healing practices, such as fasting, taking sweat baths, and plunging into an icy river, did not help them fight the diseases, but made it worse. The Europeans had sought the aid of the Natives for cures for snakebites and other ailments, now the Natives were seeking help from the Europeans. The Huron Natives accepted Baptism from Jesuit priests in hopes that they would be healed. The Europeans had some medical knowledge and supplies and helped them the best they could. Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca writes in Relacions how he helped cure Natives of illnesses. “We remained with the Avavares Indians for eight months, according to our reckoning of the moons. During that time they came for us from many places and said that verily we were children of the sun. Until then Dorantes and the negro had not made any cures, but we found ourselves so pressed by the Indians coming from all sides, that all of us had to become medicine men. I was the most daring and reckless of all in undertaking cures. We never treated anyone that did not afterwards say he was well, and they had such confidence in our skill as to believe that none of them would die as long as we were among them.” In his writings, Cabeza de Vaca tells that the only thing that they did for the Indians was to pray for them. “Every one of the patients offered him his bow and arrows, which he accepted, and by sunset he made the sign of the cross over each of the sick, recommending them to God, Our Lord, and we all prayed to Him as well as we could to restore them to health.”

IMBALANCE IN THE SPIRIT WORLD

Native American cultures saw illness as a sign of imbalance in the spirit world. They did not believe that disease was spread person to person. Staying in harmony with others through rituals was very important for a good mind in the natural and spirit world. Illnesses could be caused by violated taboos, witchcraft, or unfulfilled dreams, but could be cured by rituals. Some tribes believe that there are three kinds of diseases. Some are natural and can be cured with natural remedies. Some are caused by the soul of the sick person and are cured by giving what the soul desires. And then some are caused by a spell that a sorcerer has cast upon the person and is cured by drawing out the spell that is making the person sick.

Interestingly, the Europeans thought that the illnesses that were killing the Native Americans were a divine act of God. “According to John Winthrop, God was killing Indians and their supporters to ensure “our title to this place.” And as the “instruments of Providence, divinely appointed to claim the New World from its ‘godless’ peoples,” the colonists felt it was their duty to destroy the “godless savage.” In the words of Captain John Underhill, “We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings” — he refers to the massacre of five hundred Pequot men, women, and children at a village along the Mystic River.”

Helped Modern Medicine

The diseases that affected early American people are very extensive. The treatments varied depending on what part of the country and what culture lived there. As you can see in my research, there are many differences on who helped who and what treatment they received. The Native Americans were natural healers and the Europeans used advanced medical technology. The two groups did not always get along and work together, but when they did it was very advantageous for all involved. The Natives specialized in ways that the Europeans did not, and vice versa. The diseases helped modern medicine and doctors gain more knowledge as time went on.

 

THE “LITTLE ICE AGE”

Hence, the carbon uptake that is thought to have occurred
following the arrival of epidemics in the Americas may have
reduced atmospheric CO2 levels and led to a decline in radiative
forcing that may then have contributed to the coldest part of the
Little Ice Age

Though scientists don’t agree on what caused the Little Ice Age, most agree the climate cooled from the 15th century to the middle of the 19th century, with the greatest intensity between 1550 and 1700. Some scientists peg the coldest period even more narrowly, between 1645 and 1715. During that period the average winter temperatures in North America fell two degrees Celsius.

The NASA Earth Observatory blames diminished solar activity for the Little Ice Age, though scientists offer competing theories.

Historians, on the other hand, agree that the Little Ice Age altered the course of history. It froze rivers and canals in Northern Europe, wiped out cereal production in Iceland and caused famine in France, Norway and Sweden. Colder winters meant denser wood, which contributed to the superior tone of the Stradivarius violin.

little-ice-age-great-snowThe Little Ice Age brought cool summers and bitterly cold winters to New England.  During the Great Snow of 1717, for example, a series of snowstorms buried houses and got search parties lost looking for them.

The Cold Friday of 1810 also belonged to the Little Ice Age. People died in their homes when the temperature suddenly plummeted more than 60 degrees in less than a day. Years later, Henry David Thoreau’s mother remembered how dishes froze as fast as they were washed – right next to the fire

In conclusion, a pre-industrial event such as the “Great Dying”, which was thought to trigger both the reduction in CO2 and increase in carboniferous plant residues captured in ice cores inverts the usual understanding of global climate change due to human activities which, when you think about it, provides unique confirmation of the hypothesis.

 

 

 

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GUN ORCHESTRAS from MEXICO


How about a new approach to gaining control of the lethal weapons trade. “Swords to Plowshares” moving on to “AR15s to guitars”.  Or, instead of tracer bullets sprayed on concert goers (remember Las Vegas) recycled weapons on stage backing up the soloists. 

enhanced-buzz-orig-10472-1379526518-12

Pedro Reyes with guitar and harp built of gun parts.

A new use for the 700+ guns arriving in Mexico daily (via the drug trade return trips) from the U.S. Finally, paraphrasing the NRA mantra:”Guns don’t kill people”, etc., these guns actually don’t kill–(unless you are a music critic).

Pedro’s “raw material” for this project involved some 6700 seized guns, about 10 days worth of guns arriving in Mexico–that authorities know about–.  What about the Rumsfeld quote re: “known unknowns”?

(click on the following links for various sound adventures)

http://www.blog.pedroreyes.net/?p=151    https://www.emdash.net/pedro-reyes/

Supposing that we in the U.S. managed to walk back from our suicidal gun worship, what kind of music we could make with the toxic residue before it found its way into smelting furnaces to make, say, new infrastructure for American cities.

Crazy idea, of course. Ever hopeful, Kilroy

 

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MURDER ON FIFTH AVENUE, the challenge for 2019?


“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said at a campaign rally here.
     “Here”, in this case was a campaign rally in Sioux City Iowa, January 23, 2016.
                                        IS THIS THE BIRTH OF A CULT?

Trump rally with baby crop

People’s Temple at Jonestown, Guyana, November 19,  1978.  913 people died.

EXAMPLE 1, A CULT REACHES IS LOGICAL END

jonestown-victims-army-photo

Branch Davidian compound, April 19, 1993 after 51 day siege, 74 died

EXAMPLE 2, A “LOGICAL END” FOR A CULT, BUT THE INSPIRATION

FOR THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING OF APRIL 19, 1995 168 KILLED, 680 INJURED.

Waco David Koresh

Hitler greeting adoring crowds, 1937

EXAMPLE 3, EVENTS SET IN MOTION BY THIS CULT RESULTED IN THE DEATHS

OF BETWEEN 20 AND 50 MILLIONS, KILLING ON AN INDUSTRIAL SCALE.

HITLER/JAEGER FILE

Eight years later,  in formerly upscale residential district of Berlin. Where are the adoring crowds in the scene below?

DESPITE THE RESULT, NAZI RALLIES, DISGUISED OFTEN BY OTHER NAMES, CONTINUE TO BE HELD IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES, INCLUDING THE U.S.

Oberwallstrasse, in central Berlin, saw some of the most vicious fighting between German and Soviet troops in the spring of 1945

Oberwallstrasse, in central Berlin, saw some of the most vicious fighting between German (at this point in the war, boys as young as 12)  and Soviet troops in the spring of 1945

“The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.”
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

 

 

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PANDEMICS?


Pandemics, Personnel, and Politics: How the Trump Administration is Leaving Us Vulnerable to the Next Outbreak

          Thanks to Global Biodefense.com

pandemic picture

Bill Gates warning of future pandemics killing 30 millions in 2018 essay

“The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu.Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year—and they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years,” Gates said.
     (quote from an article by Gates in the New England Journal of Medicine, 2018)

Despite this heightened risk of a global pandemic, the Trump Administration has dragged its feet in appointing senior officials to key Federal agencies responsible for preparing and responding to a pandemic or bioterrorist attack. These agencies are also subject to steep budget cuts under Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The delays in installing senior leaders at these agencies and pending budget cuts puts U.S. and global health security at risk.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and US Agency for International Development (USAID) ) are four crucial agencies responsible for preparing for the next pandemic. Within HHS, Trump has yet to nominate anyone to fill the position of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), who is responsible for building Federal emergency medical operational capabilities, developing medical countermeasures, and providing grants to strengthen the capabilities of hospitals to cope with medical disasters. The CDC, which is tasked with detecting and containing disease outbreaks in the United States and provides grants to state and local health departments to help them prepare for public health emergencies, has played a vital role in responding to major outbreaks at home and abroad. While the agency is currently being led by acting director Dr. Ann Schuchat, a well-respected, 30-year veteran of the agency, her ability to mobilize the resources needed to respond to a pandemic or other health crisis may be stymied by her interim status. Although President Trump wisely asked Francis Collins to stay on as director of NIH, he has also proposed cutting the biomedical research agency’s budget by $5.8 billion, or about 18%. In the event of a pandemic, the NIH will play a crucial role in characterizing the pathogen responsible for the outbreak and supporting research to develop diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics to contain the outbreak. And yet Trump’s budget eliminates the NIH’s Fogarty International Center which supports international health research. Finally, the Trump Administration has failed to nominated anyone to fill any of the 11 Senate-confirmed posts at USAID, which plays a key role in helping developing countries improve their public health systems to detect and respond to emerging infectious disease threats.  USAID, together with the State Department, is also poised to take a 31% budget reduction under Trump’s proposed budget. USAID’s $72 million Global Health Security fund is slated for elimination, which would dramatically affect the ability of the U.S. to work with international partners to combat the spread of infectious diseases like H7N9. The only positive element of the budget related to health security is Trump’s proposal to create a Federal Emergency Response Fund to enable more rapid responses to public health emergencies. Although the size of the fund has not yet been disclosed, given the Trump Administration’s stated priorities the funds will likely come from other parts of the health security budget.

These funding cuts combined with numerous vacancies in influential positions in agencies responsible for health security is a dangerous combination. Having confident, informed leaders running these organizations with sufficient resources is necessary to ensure that these agencies can effectively produce vaccines and diagnostics and implement preventative measures to control an outbreak of H7N9 or another strain with pandemic potential.  If a major influenza pandemic were to occur, no wall would be high enough to stop the virus from entering the United States. The best defense against pandemics and other disease threats are Federal, state, and local health agencies and international partners with strong leadership and the necessary resources to fund vital surveillance, preparedness, response, and research activities   Mother Nature doesn’t play politics; Trump shouldn’t play politics with global health security.

Gregory D. Koblentz is an Associate Professor and Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. Nathaniel M. Morra is a graduate student in the Biodefense Program at George Mason.

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ANOTHER MURDER OF THE RIGHTEOUS


No statue commemorates the life and career of Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated.

Though his (mentally tortured) assassin cared nothing about Perceval’s role in launching the end of the slave trade throughout the British Empire, this British politician certainly belongs alongside Abraham Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation, and Czar Alexander II (who ended serfdom, a form of slavery, throughout the Russian Empire), both of whom were victims of assassination by political fanatics.

The Forgotten Prime Minister

Spencer Perceval is the only British Prime Minister ever to be assassinated. He deserves to be remembered for much more than that.

On the 11th May 1812, Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, entered the House of Commons. He was on his way to attend an inquiry into a set of Orders of Council he had issued. Perceval was, at the time, the leader of the most powerful democracy on Earth, one whose empire was already beginning to spread across the globe, despite the loss of the American colonies and repeated wars with France. Despite this, he was surprisingly approachable, rarely accompanied by any kind of guard. This was very much the case that afternoon and as Perceval walked through the lobby he passed through a large crowd of petitioners and civil servants, something that he had done many times before without incident.

That day, however, was different. In the crowd of petitioners was John Bellingham. Bellingham was a failed merchant from Liverpool, burdened by debt. This had led, in part, to a period of imprisonment in Russia, from which he had returned just a month before. In the time since he had become convinced that his imprisonment was somehow the government’s fault and that Perceval in particular was to blame.

As the Prime Minister moved through the crowd Bellingham stepped out in front of him. Before anyone could react, Bellingham pulled a pistol from his pocket and fired a single shot from close range into Perceval’s chest.

The wounded Prime Minister collapsed to the ground and confusion and fear rippled through the crowd. Bellingham calmly walked over to a nearby bench and sat down. Seconds later he was restrained by Isaac Gascoigne, Member of Parliament (MP) for Liverpool. Bellingham made no effort to resist. Meanwhile bystanders carried Perceval into a nearby office. His pulse was weak and fading and he was placed on a table. A doctor was frantically sought, but it was too late. The shot had taken Perceval in the heart and the wound was fatal. Mere minutes after the shot had been fired he was dead.

In that moment Spencer Perceval became (and remains) the only British Prime Minister ever to be assassinated.

The forgotten man

History has not been kind to Spencer Perceval. Not because it has judged him harshly, but because it has forgotten really to judge him at all. For most people, if they know the name, it is as the answer to a pub quiz question about his unique death.

A short man (even by the standards of the time), Perceval was blessed with boyish features well into later life. He was born into a well-connected family, but as the second son of his father’s second marriage his prospects (and finances) were not great. As a result, Perceval was largely forced to look to his own resources. He trained as a lawyer and swiftly began to make a name for himself as he embarked on both a legal and a political career.

Perceval’s harmless exterior concealed a fiercely conservative outlook and an almost fanatical commitment to his beliefs. This was a major contributor to his increasing reputation, but it ensured he made many enemies along the way. As a lawyer he participated in the successful prosecution of the publisher of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man in 1792. His reputation as a fierce opponent of social change grew further.

In 1796 Perceval became the MP for Northampton. He soon began ruthlessly and doggedly attacking the liberal cause in Parliament, becoming a key conservative attack dog for Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. So much so that when opposition MP George Tierney, challenged the Prime Minister to a duel in 1798, it was Perceval that Pitt suggested should succeed him in office if he lost. Luckily the need did not arise. Pitt and Tierney did indeed duel, firing pistols at twelve paces, but Tierney’s first shot missed and Pitt elected to fire into the air.

A country on the verge of great change

Perceval’s conservatism and extreme anti-liberal stance came at a time when Britain (and indeed the world) faced enormous social upheaval. France was in a state of revolution and the call for reform at home was increasing day by day. Abolitionism — the quest to end slavery — had also begun to make some headway in Britain, although its supporters knew they faced an up-hill battle to bring it to pass.

Slavery stood at the heart of British conservatism. It was a trade that earned enormous wealth for the country, particularly in ports such as Liverpool which played a crucial role in the world slave trade. Manufactured goods would be loaded there onto ships bound for Africa, where they were traded for slaves. The slaves would then be taken by those same ships to America, where they (or at least those that survived the journey) would be traded for goods such as sugar, coffee or tobacco. These would be brought back to Liverpool, where enormous profits would be made and this horrific triangular trade would begin again.

Abolutionists faced a situation similar to that faced by those battling the Tobacco industry over lung cancer, or energy companies over environmental issues, today. They may have had the moral high ground but slavery’s supporters had the money, and they could call on many powerful, political supporters on both sides of the benches in Parliament.

In this environment you could be forgiven for thinking that Spencer Perceval, Pitt the Younger’s conservative attack dog, would be at the heart of the fight to preserve this shameful institution. Remarkably, the truth was the exact opposite.

Refusing to look away

William Wilberforce, one of the prime architects of abolition, was a man who firmly believed that the practice of slavery could never survive the exposure of what it truly involved. Once a person knew what was involved then they faced a stark moral choice.

“You may choose to look the other way,” Wilberforce once explained, “but you can never say again that you did not know.”

In the early 1800s Perceval was one of several politicians on whom Wilberforce and his supporters tested this theory. On the MP for Northampton, it worked. Having seen the horrible reality of the trade, Perceval became convinced that it had no place in modern society. Whatever his feelings on reform or liberalism in general, he soon became convinced that slavery was an absolute wrong. As a man for whom convictions were more important than politics, he soon became determined to do what he could to bring it to an end, regardless of the conflicts this might cause him within his own political party.

Finding a loop-hole

By the time he converted Perceval to the cause, Wilberforce had been trying, and failing, to get Parliament to ban the slave trade for over ten years. The brutal truth was the votes weren’t there. Plenty of politicians privately professed their opposition to slavery, but few would commit to its end publicly for fear of angering the wealthy and powerful pro-slavery lobby. That reluctance extended to Pitt the Younger himself. The Prime Minister told Wilberforce that he was personally against the trade, but that his hands were tied. He would not publicly support the cause or trigger a vote for fear of alienating his support or losing in Parliament.

The abolitionists knew that what they needed was some kind of win — anything that would put the first crack into the legal and political armour that surrounded the institution of slavery. In the end it was Perceval, determined to do the right thing despite the overwhelming pressure to do nothing, who finally found a way to strike that first blow.

In 1805 Britain was locked in conflict with France, and this had resulted in the occupation of Dutch Guiana. Ever the lawyer, Perceval quickly spotted an unexpected opportunity. The occupation had been carried out under Crown rather than Parliamentary authority. It was a subtle difference, but an important one as it meant that the way in which it was governed was subtly different to the rest of British territory. Most importantly, Perceval spotted, it meant that with a bit of legal hand-waving, a ban on the import of slaves to the new colony could go into the Orders-in-Council being enacted to prevent neutral countries from trading with France. And of course, Perceval quietly pointed out to Pitt, thanks to the vagaries of the British Parliamentary system Orders-in-Council didn’t need Parliamentary approval.

It was a masterful piece of political manouevring. Perceval had recognised that Wiberforce’s head-on approach could only take things so far. Certainly it had worked on Perceval himself, but the MP for Northampton knew that Pitt would never stand in front of the House of Commons and publicly commit to a cause which many of his friends and supporters still fervently opposed. So rather than try and force Pitt to do so, Perceval had simply engineered a way round it. Very quickly, the Prime Minister agreed to make the change.

The Dutch Guianan ban represented a key victory for the abolitionist cause. At a stroke, a trade that had consumed 6,000 human lives a year in Guiana had been ended, It also set a huge precedent. It opened a crack in slavery’s legal armour that could never be closed. Perceval remained determined to widen it further.

Seeing things through

In 1807 Parliament finally passed the Slave Trade Act. As the name implies, the Act banned the practice of the slave trade throughout the entirety of the British Empire and also committed Great Britain to press other European nations to do the same.

The passing of the Act represented a public triumph for the abolitionist cause and for Wilberforce himself, but neither Wilberforce nor Perceval believed that it represented the end of the fight. Its opponents were not beaten by its passing, and remained determined to use their power to weaken its impact. Over the next few years, some of the most tumultuous in British Parliamentary history, Perceval worked hard to ensure that the ideals of the Act became the reality. When the government Pitt had formed fell as the Bill was passing through Parliament, it was Perceval that carefully shepherded it through the change of government. Later, during his own tenure as Prime Minister, Perceval worked hard to give it teeth. This would ultimately lead to the founding of the West Africa Squadron, the Royal Navy’s first dedicated anti-slavery force, backed up by the full legal and political force of Perceval’s government.

Ultimately, by the time of his assassination, Perceval had done more than almost any man in Britain to ensure that not only would the slave trade be banned, but that the ban would not be a paper tiger. He was determined to ensure it would have a real impact both in Britain and anywhere British power projected.

Making enemies

Perceval’s strange combination of anti-liberalism and reform to be found Perceval ensured that he was never short of enemies. His arch-conservatism earned him the vitriol of liberals, whilst at the same time his commitment to eradicating the slave trade provoked the same reaction among many on his own side of the political fence.

In 1806 he even added the Prince Regent (yes that one) to his ever-growing list of enemies. The Prince‘s marriage to his wife, Charlotte was an unhappy one. Their marriage had been arranged against his will, and within a year of their nuptuals they were already living separately. When rumours began to circulate that the Princess might have had an affair, George stoked the flames and organised an investigation into her behaviour through his political connections.

Appalled at the smear campaign being enacted against Charlotte, Perceval became a key player in her defence. He wrote what became known infamously as “The Book” (which you can read here). It was a brutal, legal takedown of the Prince’s case, one that Perceval told the future George IV he would publish if the Prince didn’t back down and allow Charlotte to resume her public life. Brow-beaten and blackmailed, the Prince did so, although not before bombarding Perceval with what one observer described as “the most offensive personal abuse, and an oath that cannot be recited.”

An un-expected Prime Minister

To many Perceval’s ascension to the position of Prime Minister in 1809 seemed doomed to failure. Certainly it could not have happened at any other time. Although, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was a senior figure in the government, he arguably only really got the job because George Canning and Lord Castlereagh, the two leading political lights of the day, were locked a personal political rivalry that ruined their own chances of taking the top job (they too had been caught duelling). Both men initially refused to serve under Perceval. Various other Tory politicians refused to serve in his government as well, believing that the increasing economic hardships at home and the conflict with France abroad would make it unpopular and likely to fall. In the end, Perceval was unable even to find anyone willing to take on the office of Chancellor was forced to shoulder both roles.

Despite this inauspicious start, somehow Perceval made it work. Over the next two years his personality seemed to hold everything together — even his enemies in Parliament respected him, if not his politics — and perhaps most crucially few doubted his personal integrity. As a politician he was practically unique at the time — not only because he refused to treat politics as an opportunity to make money from the public purse (and gave much of what he could spare to charity) but also because he had married for love.

The family man

Perceval’s marriage to Jane Wilson had taken place while he was a poor junior lawyer, and though her father approved of his character he disapproved of Perceval’s poverty. The two lovers were forced to elope in order to seal their marriage, living for several years in a small flat above a carpet shop. A devoted husband, Perceval never took a mistress, something which caused much confusion amongst his political peers. So too did the fact that he adored his children. The couple had thirteen, twelve of whom survived into adulthood and Perceval delighted not only in helping raise them, but also in playing games with them.

“He was beloved without sensation of fear,” wrote one bemused contemporary on seeing Perceval with his children, “and never so happy as when playing in the midst of them.”

The stable statesman

Perceval’s integrity and talent for holding things together turned out to be exactly what the times required. Alongside ensuring that the Slavery Act was enforced he also worked hard to prosecute the war against Napoleon’s France in the face of successive defeats.

After the disastrous Walcheren campaign in the Netherlands and setbacks on the Iberian Peninsular, Perceval came under enormous pressure to withdraw all British troops from the continent. The small British force in Portugal under Sir Arthur Wellesley, however, continued to cling on. Napoleon had dismissed Wellesley as a “Sepoy General,” a derogatory reference to the fact that his experience had, until the Peninsular, largely come from fighting in India. It was a view that some in the upper echelons of British politics and the military shared and they began to advocate the army — or at least Wellesey’s — removal.

Perceval’s support for the General and his army, however, was unwavering. This gave Wellesley the time to prove his detractors wrong. By the end of the war with France, Wellesley’s victory over both the French and his detractors was complete, and as Viscount (later Duke of) Wellington he rightly cemented his place in the pantheon of great generals, and ultimately beat Napoleon himself at Waterloo.

Perceval’s commitment to prosecuting the war would have consequences beyond the battlefield though and beyond his own life. It brought economic hardship at home, to the point where in some cities — including London itself — news of his assassination was greeted with cheers. His refusal as Prime Minister to lessen the trade restrictions on neutral powers would also help set Britain and the United States on a path to war — the War of 1812, in which the White House would burn.

By 1812, however, there were few in Parliament — on either bench — who would dispute that Perceval was the right man for the Premiership. His cabinet colleagues referred to his as the ‘Supreme Commander’. As a politician he was at the height of his power when Bellingham’s bullet struck, and he was almost universally mourned by his peers after his death.

More than a piece of trivia

Given his unique place in history, it is perhaps inevitable that whenever the anniversary of Perceval’s death comes about, such coverage as there is nearly always focuses only on his assassination. Do spare a thought though for the man behind the pub quiz question.

Even the Prince Regent had come to begrudgingly respect him, and on realising that Perceval’s early death had robbed his wife and children of their sole source of income. Immediately requested that Parliament vote them a lump sum and an annuity for life.

Lord Castlereagh, once Perceval’s opponent but by then his Foreign Secretary, was unable to finish reading the Regent’s request in Parliament. Breaking down with emotion, he was forced to sit down and let others finish the reading.

“In most faces,” wrote one Parliamentary observer, “there was an agony of tears.”

Parliament wanted to bury Perceval in Westminster Abbey, but his widow Jane refused. He would not have wanted it, she insisted. He was buried in a quiet, private ceremony by his family in St Lukes, Charlton. Perceval’s journey into anonymity had begun.

That anonymity is unfair. There is no doubting that he was a man of contrasts. He was a conservative attack dog, a staunch anti-reformist and a blackmailer. He was also a loving husband and father, a man of integrity and an abolitionist. Indeed after Perceval’s death, William Wilberforce said that the abolitionist movement owed more to Perceval than it ever did to him.

In fact, possibly the least interesting thing Perceval ever did was get assassinated.

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CO2 is an excellent fire extinguisher. Meteors and asteroids are supposed to burn up in our atmosphere–unless it contains high levels of CO2. An example from our geologic past explained below.


30kg-co2-wheeled
Marine fire extinguisher, 30 KG CO2

The contraction of the thermosphere will reduce atmospheric drag on satellites and may have adverse consequences for the already unstable orbital debris environment, because it will slow the rate at which debris ( asteroids and meteorites) burn up in the atmosphere. Reference: Naval Research Laboratory (2012) report following.

Confronting Climate Change: Critical Issues for New Zealand, Wellington:
Victoria University Press, 2006.

Chapter 6

(author), Peter Barrett:

The most recent period of the Earth’s history, the Cenozoic era, began 65 million years ago with a bang: a
meteorite impact that ended the rule of the dinosaurs, but disturbed only briefly the super-warm climate of
the times. However, for the past 50 million years, the Earth has been cooling and it is now becoming clear
that this long-term cooling trend may be  reversing in the last few decades (IPCC, 2001). In this chapter,
I outline the evidence for this view, which is becoming widely accepted by those who study the Earth’s
climate system and its past history.
Although geologists have been learning about the Earth’s history for hundreds of years, a real understanding
has developed merely in the last four decades through deep-sea drilling and analytical chemistry. Thousands
of cores have been extracted from the seabed, and analysed by tens of thousands of scientists in hundreds of
laboratories. They have increased our understanding of many aspects of the Earth’s history, but I intend to
focus on just two: the Earth’s surface temperature, and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere.

 Until 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, the planet’s geography was somewhat
different from now in several respects. The Atlantic Ocean was much narrower to both the north and south,
Australia was still joined to Antarctica, and New Zealand was under the sea off the coast of Australia.
However, the Earth’s temperature was very different. This was a warmer planet by between 6°C and 10°C,
and CO2 levels were between two and eight times higher than pre-industrial values (Bice et al. 2006). It was
what scientists now call a ‘greenhouse world’. Life on Earth was severely challenged on that day 65 million
years ago when a meteorite 10 km wide hit the Yucatan Peninsula, leaving a 200 km crater and sending
many cubic kilometres of shattered debris and dust into the stratosphere. As a consequence, not only the
dinosaurs but around sixty percent of all species on Earth died out. There was undoubtedly a major impact on
the Earth’s climate for decades or even longer. Cooling effects from the dust of the explosion gave way to
warming as the dust settled out, and increased CO2 from the fires that followed.

 

About The Chicxulub Crater (left by the meteorite referred to above)

The Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan peninsula is believed to be the most likely site of the asteroid impact responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs.

Dinosaur death due to meteor strike

The crater measures between 180 and 240 kilometres across, indicating an impactor of colossal size, the biggest impact confirmed on Earth.

The collision at Chicxulub sent vaporized rocks, cracked mineral grains and molten rock flying around the world.

The Chicxulub crater represents the most recent major impact on the Earth, and despite its geologically young age, it is already an extremely well- hidden structure that has taken teams of geologists and geophysicists many years to unravel.

In fact it is so hidden, that nowadays the crater is not noticeable when walking across it, as the crater is merely 3-4 meters deep. At the time of the impact though, the crater probably was over 900 meters deep.

Chicxulub location


Chicxulub Impact – location map

Discovery

The crater was just recently discovered. In 1978, geophysicists Glen Penfield and Antonio Camargo worked for the Mexican state oil company Pemex, as part of an aerial magnetic survey of the Gulf of Mexico, just north of the Yucatan Peninsula. Their job was to use geophysical data to study possible locations to extract oil. During their investigation, they found a big symmetrical underground arc that measured around 70 kilometers.

Pemex map

But this wasn’t the first map Pemex had of that area. Another Pemex contractor, Robert Baltosser made similar discoveries earlier, but was forbid to publish them because of Pemex corporate policy. Consulting the maps made by Baltosser, Penfield found another arc on the peninsula itself. Comparing the two maps, he found that the two arcs formed a circle 180 km in diameter, with its central point near the town of Chicxulub , in the Yucatan. Based on this data, he was sure that the site was a spot of some cataclysmic event in geological history.

Although Pemex forbid them to publish certain data, Penfield and Camargo presented their findings in 1981 at a conference of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). At that moment his report attracted little attention because although they had lots of geophysical data, they had no rock samples, or any other physical evidence of the collision.

Concomitantly, American physicist, Luis Walter Alvarez published a paper in which he theorized that the Earth was stuck by a foreign object around the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (K-T boundary). After data about the Chicxulub crater was gathered, it was linked to Alvarez’s theory, providing support for it.

Environmental and geological effects of the impact

It is believed that after the impact, some of the biggest tsunamis in Earth’s history were formed.

The emission of dust and particles could have covered the entire surface of the Earth for several years, possibly a decade, making life difficult for many terrestrial animals.

For some years after the impact, sunlight would have been prevented to reach the surface of the Earth, cooling it down abruptly.

1-howdoesaninv

Besides the cooling effect, plants wouldn’t have been able to develop, causing devastating effects for the entire food chain.

There are also speculations that the vaporized material might have blown away part of Earth’s atmosphere or that the impact would have resulted worldwide forest fires, but these speculations need to be challenged.

Chicxulub crater Yutacan


Chicxulub Crater Yutacan

Chicxulub inner crater at the same scale as the Los Angeles - San Diego area


Chicxulub inner crater at the same scale as the Los Angeles – San Diego area

Scientists detect carbon dioxide accumulation at the edge of space (Update)

Scientists detect carbon dioxide accumulation at the edge of space
ACE satellite observing the sun through Earth’s atmosphere. Credit: ACE website, University of Waterloo

(Phys.org)—A team of scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory, Old Dominion University, and the University of Waterloo reports the first direct evidence that emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) caused by human activity are propagating upward to the highest regions of the atmosphere. The observed CO2 increase is expected to gradually result in a cooler, more contracted upper atmosphere and a consequent reduction in the atmospheric drag experienced by satellites. The team published its findings in Nature Geoscience on November 11, 2012.

 

The team of Dr. John Emmert, Dr. Michael Stevens, and Dr. Douglas Drob from NRL’s Space Science Division; Dr. Peter Bernath from Old Dominion University; and Dr. Chris Boone from the University of Waterloo in Canada studied eight years of CO2 measurements made by the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE), a scientific satellite mission funded primarily by the Canadian Space Agency. ACE determines vertical profiles of CO2 and many other atmospheric gases by measuring how the atmosphere absorbs sunlight at different wavelengths as the Sun rises and sets relative to the spacecraft.

Scientists detect carbon dioxide accumulation at the edge of space

 

CO2 concentration at 100 km altitude (~62 mi) measured by ACE (blue circles) and predicted by a model of the chemistry and physics of the global upper atmosphere (green crosses). The purple line shows the linear trend of the ACE data. Credit: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

CO2 occurs naturally throughout Earth’s atmosphere and is the primary radiative cooling agent in the energy balance of the mesosphere (~50-90 km altitude) and thermosphere (>90 km). The same properties of CO2 that cause it to trap heat in the troposphere (<15 km) make it an efficient cooler at higher altitudes. The difference is that at high altitudes, the density of CO2 is too thin to recapture the infrared radiation (heat) that it emits. “In the upper atmosphere,” explains Emmert, “thermal energy is transferred via collisions from other atmospheric constituents to CO2, which then emits the energy as heat that escapes to outer space.”

The enhanced cooling produced by the increasing CO2 should result in a more contracted thermosphere, where many satellites, including the International Space Station, operate. The contraction of the thermosphere will reduce atmospheric drag on satellites and may have adverse consequences for the already unstable orbital debris environment, because it will slow the rate at which debris ( asteroids and meteorites) burn up in the atmosphere.

It has been expected that anthropogenic CO2 increases are propagating upward throughout the entire atmosphere. Before the study of ACE data, CO2 trends had been measured only up to 35 km altitude, although indirect evidence from satellite drag studies indicates that the thermosphere is indeed slowly contracting. The scientists estimate that the concentration of carbon near 100 km altitude is increasing at a rate of 23.5 ± 6.3 parts per million (ppm) per decade, which is about 10 ppm/decade faster than predicted by upper atmospheric model simulations. In comparison, tropospheric CO2 concentrations are increasing at a rate of about 20 ppm/decade (the current concentration of CO2 near the ground is ~390 ppm). The authors speculate that the larger than expected upper atmospheric trend may be caused by changes in upper atmospheric circulation and mixing.


Explore further

Rising carbon dioxide levels increase risks to satellites


More information: Nature Geoscience paper: DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1626

Journal information: Nature Geoscience  Nature
Provided by Naval Research Laboratory
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“Pro-Life” and Racism linked


The Racist Origins of ‘Pro-Life’ Abortion Movement They Never Talk About, by Wagatwe Wanjuki, July 10, 2018

Fundamentalist Christians and [the KKK] are pretty close, fighting for God and country. Someday we may all be in the trenches together in the fight against the slaughter of unborn children. — John Burt, 1994 New York Times interview
Reversing Roe v. Wade goes against the will of the people. A recent Quinnipiac poll shows that a clear majority support the Supreme Court ruling ensuring a patient’s access to abortion care. That, of course, won’t stop opponents to the measure from ruling by minority; it’s exactly what the so-called “pro-lifers” want.
Rule by minority has increasingly become the Republican’s modus operandi; gerrymandering, voter suppression, and congressional loopholes show they are not shy about staying in power by any means necessary. Now we’re seeing what’s possible when a man like Donald Trump embraces it as the leader of the power. Trump has not hesitated to embrace white nationalists and give racists power—just look at Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Jeff Sessions—which is exactly why it’s prime time for Roe v. Wade to come up on the chopping block.
It’s no coincidence that the biggest national threat to abortion rights since Roe is happening under such a racist government. Have you ever wondered why the “pro-life” movement is so … white? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that they seem incapable of not being racist whenever they pretend to care about Black people to further their extreme agenda.
You’re not alone. It turns out that the pro-life movement has been very good about hiding its racist origins. That’s not just because white people tend to be uncomfortable and avoidant when talking about race. It’s because it also exposes the true goal of the movement, which makes their initially confusing hypocrisy incredibly clear.

Abortion restrictions have always been political—and about race

Abortion provider  Ann Lohman (a.k.a. Madame Restell) based on a photograph, 1888. From Recollections of a New York City Chief of Police by George W. Walling.
Madame Restell, née Ann Lohman
During much of the 19th century, abortion was unregulated and business was booming. The industry was doing so well that one famous provider, Madame Restell, invested in one of New York City’s first luxury apartment buildings with her husband. The white, middle-class women who could afford abortions were having more control of their bodies and thus having fewer children. This was all happening while the United States was also getting more Catholic and Jewish immigrants.
The fears of white women increasingly turning away from doing their “duty” to bear children coupled with xenophobia compelled powerful white men to spring into action. Under the guise of wanting to require a medical license to perform abortions, the American Medical Association (AMA) ran a successful campaign to ban abortion care and put the decision to make exceptions completely in their hands. How did they succeed? They appealed to the racist little hearts of Anglo-Saxon politicians.
Back then, “pro-life” racism wasn’t as subtle. The authors of “Abortion, Race, and Gender in Nineteenth-Century America” in the American Sociological Review wrote that “physicians argued that middle-class, Anglo-Saxon married women were those obtaining abortions, and that their use of abortion to curtail childbearing threatened the Anglo-Saxon race.” Take this excerpt from a book by Dr. Augustus K. Gardner from 1870, for example:
Infanticide is no new crime. Savages have existed in all times, and abortions and destruction of children at and subsequent to birth have been practiced among all barbarous nations of antiquity … The savages of past ages were not better than the women who commit such infamous murders to-day, to avoid the cares, the expense or the duty of nursing and tending a child.
Here we see how framing abortion as murder came from racist propaganda. Dr. Gardner talked about barbaric peoples—Indians, Greeks, and Chinese, for example—that supposedly partook in infanticide. He uses this in an attempt to shame women from seeking abortions, calling them no better than these “savages.” Political anti-abortion rhetoric began with this message: abortion is for other people. Non-white people.
Yet even back then, there was no consensus among conservatives or Christians about abortion’s morality. However, the disproportionate amount of power that rich white men had in the country—as doctors and politicians—allowed this minority to execute its will on the people (sound familiar?).

The truth about conservative hate of Margaret Sanger—and contraception

Margaret Sanger. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016879604/
Margaret Sanger
While the 19th century racists succeeded in getting a nationwide abortion ban, that pesky desire from women for autonomy kept rearing its head. It’s almost as if you keep oppressing people, they will eventually want more rights—no matter how hard you try!
No wonder they hated Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. She published a feminist magazine in 1914  that advocated for reproductive freedom—exactly what racist white men didn’t want embraced by women. The smears and attacks against her continue today as conservatives try to paint her as the racist. The truth is that she was a proponent of eugenics, but was staunchly against its use for racist means. At the Jewish Woman’s Archive, Open Society Institute fellow Ellen Chasler explains:
She distinguished between individual applications of eugenic principles and cultural ones and spoke out against immigration prohibitions that promoted ethnic or racial stereotypes with a biological rationale. She saw birth control as an instrument of social justice, not of social control.”
In fact, Sanger worked with activists of color like W.E.B. Du Boisand Japanese feminist Shizue Kato—people conservatives today would undoubtedly disparage. Dr. Martin Luther King even once said, “There is a striking kinship between our [civil rights] movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts in “Family Planning—A Special and Urgent Concern.”
While there’s no excuse for Sanger’s support of the eugenics movement, it does show that the fact was distorted by a white racist movement that undoubtedly has people who would agree with her eugenic statements today.
Even in Sanger’s time, white supremacists still couldn’t agree on whether to support birth control or not. Some saw it as a possible means to keep “undesirables” from reproducing, while other had fears that Anglo-Saxon white women would embrace it too much and significantly lower their birth rate.

Tools of white supremacy: from school segregation to abortion

Abortion became a political tool of racist white evangelicals as a response to the Black civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Displeased with forced school integration and other signs of Black people being treated like human beings, the founders of the modern anti-choice movement sought to find an issue to mobilize the conservative base. With enough grassroots support, white evangelical leaders could get people who’d Make America Explicitly Racist again in power and protect its white people as they saw fit.
Washington, UNITED STATES:  Reverend Dr. Jerry Falwell, founder and chancellor of Liberty University, speaks during a Christians United For Israel(CUFI) news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 19 July 2006. CUFI is a new association of 3,000 Christians urging Congress and the public to strengthen defense of Israel.            AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON  (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerry Falwell speaks at a Christians United For Israel news conference.
One of these leaders is preacher Jerry Falwell, the founder of Liberty University: he hated Dr. King and all this civil rights expansion. In response to Brown v. Board of Education, he created private, white-only Christian schools to try and preserve segregation. It worked for a while, but the government started cracking down on the schools explicitly made just for white children.
In hopes of reversing this wave, evangelicals had thrown their weight behind President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat and fellow evangelical Christian, for the 1976 election. Unfortunately for Falwell and friends, Carter wasn’t also a racist. Under Carter’s watch, the crackdown on white schools continued.
Activist Paul Weyrich had long suggested using abortion as their political issue. Now that school segregation had failed, leaders like Falwell and Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson agreed to join forces to usher in a new era in white supremacist political activism: the pro-life movement.
While Roe v. Wade was already years old, they tested using the “pro-life” political stance as a way to get candidates who’d do their racist bidding in office during the midterm elections—and it worked. They won three Senate seats and a governorship thanks, in part, to low turnout from Democrats and high energy from the white evangelicals. They found a winning issue and took it to the national stage next.

How racism brought Republicans and white evangelicals together

3/15/1983 President Reagan Meeting with Jerry Falwell in Oval Office
President Reagan and Jerry Falwell in the Oval Office.
Evangelical leaders tried to influence Carter to seek a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade. He refused, so they looked to the other party. The Republican Party’s sexism dovetailed nicely with racist anti-abortion policies and support for such an amendment was made a part of the party’s platform. And thus, the GOP officially adopted the language proposed by the power-hungry white evangelicals and officially became the “pro-life” party with candidate Ronald Reagan as the leader.
Reagan was a good bet. He had name recognition with his acting career before entering politics. And, like Falwell and friends, Reagan lamented the advancement of the civil rights for Black people. Reagan had no problem catering to racists, pushing the “welfare queen” myth and calling the Voting Rights Act “humiliating to the South.” Oh, and he was endorsed by the KKK—twice.
At first glance, Reagan seemed to be the least likely ally for the anti-choice movement. When he was California’s governor, he signed the country’s least restrictive abortion access bill in the country. Carter had a documented history of being anti-abortion, both in his personal and political life. However, it’s Carter’s refusal to bend to the political will of the powerful white evangelical men that was seen as the biggest liability.
Reagan’s landslide win solidified the religious right’s political strength. Falwell, Dobson, and Weyrich had succeeded in making their racist political goals viable enough to get millions to vote for their preferred candidate who’d get rid of abortion and keep the brown and Black people from taking over. Since then, the political power of white evangelicals in the United States has only gotten stronger.

Today’s political mess in perspective

There’s a reason why the pro-life advocates and #alllivesmatter crowd has been silent at best about the mistreatment of children at the border at the hands of the administration. They’re not the members of a human rights movement; it’s just what they say to convince clueless white people. The pro-life movement is white nationalist campaign that will use any messaging or backward logic necessary to achieve their genocidal goals.
This puts white evangelicals’ nearly unwavering support of Trump into perspective. They put up with his very un-Christian behavior because he’s a very effective vessel for their racist political goals. It is increasingly clear that the goal of the pro-life leaders is to dominate our politics; they don’t want true democracy. Instead, a few white men want to exploit the system as much as possible until they can once again live in a country where women don’t control their bodies, immigration doesn’t happen, and people of color are not truly citizens.

 

Thoughts from Greg Metcalf, an excerpt from  MY FREE SENTENCES, WordPress

(if Roe vs. Wade is overturned) We would return to the days of women getting risky procedures from unqualified doctors in horrid conditions. Some of them would die. We’d have an increase of babies from women whose own judgment was that they weren’t prepared to have a child and care for it. In many cases, this would be financial, and we would simultaneously have a hypocritical extremist GOP government pulling back on programs to help the poor, a reduction in the SNAPs program, cuts to Medicaid, fewer opportunities for aid in childcare. Suicide rates among women would go up.

Sanctimoniously, some on the far right, Mike Pence, and others, would blame these problems on the women, falling back on their dogma that they shouldn’t have been having sex. What about rape? We couldn’t make an exception for rape cases, at least not one that would mean much, because rape statistics are clear. Rape is rarely proven in a court of law, not because it doesn’t occur, it’s just difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the legal standard. Would we create a lower standard of proof that would allow for rape exceptions? Where would we draw THAT line to prevent women from abusing the new system of law that is abusing them?

HISTORY MATTERS–is “Pro-Life” really “Pro-Death” in disguise?

In 1936, before legal abortions, a group of experts determined that there were about 681,600 illegal abortions resulting in the death of 8,179 women in that year alone. American hospitals have kept a list of devices and toxic fluids that have been used to abort fetuses. This is only a partial list: coat hangers, curtain rods, garden hoses, glass cocktail stirrers, telephone wires, nut picks, knitting needles, chopsticks, bicycle pumps, phonograph needles, Lysol, bleach, glycerine, kerosene, vinegar, and potassium permanganate corrosive tablets. Women have also tried swallowing massive doses of castor oil, quinine, and turpentine. Do we really want to go back to amateur hour in the clinic?

Below is an example of the medieval “Chastity Belt”, another alternative?

chastidy_belt

From China, liquid mercury was ingested to produce an abortion, with certain after effects documented.

birth control_liquid_mercury

Mother-Depositing-Her-Child-at-the-_002

Mother, without resources to feed her child, placing it in a “Depository” in mid-19th century Paris. Though such children were spared untended lives on the street, later they were “rented out” to mines and factories to repay their keep.

Sarah B. Hrdy, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of California, Davis, and the author of “Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species,” wrote that the issues touched on in the abortion debate run deep:

Nature provides myriad examples of species where males attempt to control who females mate with and when. Among primates, male coercion of females has evolved many times and is expressed in many different ways.

Over the course of human history, Hrdy continued,

some of these ancient impulses have become enshrined in patriarchal ideologies. This helps explain why the most extreme efforts to curtail female reproductive autonomy today are primarily funded by groups linked to Catholic, Orthodox Jewish, Islamic and other belief systems with deep patriarchal roots.

If, as Hrdy argues, anti-abortion legislation is part of the male “attempt to control who females mate with and when,” why are roughly equal numbers of men and women opposed to abortion? Her answer:

From Ancient Greece, Ching dynasty China, Victorian England to the American South, the trick has been to convince women that conforming to patriarchal ideals, being chaste, or modest, veiling one’s face, whatever, are in her interests in terms of her security, marriageability, and especially in the interest of her children, particularly sons. When the social status of their families and especially that of their offspring, depends on their “virtue,” women have an obvious stake in complying as well as in advertising their compliance. Supporting the “right” political candidates can be just one more way of doing that.

        Deprived of her “virtue”, unwed mother and child abandoned to their fate, revealed as spring melted the mound of snow–their final resting place in 1840s England.

Lost-Path--The-Makins-Collection-Br_002

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GERM WARFARE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP


Measles

Measles virus, (Rubeola), like its cousin German Measles, (Rubella) can cause pregnancy complications, swelling of the brain, pneumonia. Extremely contagious.

BY MARK LYNAS

AUGUST 24, 2018 (Thanks to Cornell University Alliance for Science)

new study showing that Russian-linked trolls and social media bots have been heavily promoting misinformation on vaccines shows just how far Putin’s government is prepared to go in its worldwide effort to sow mistrust and division.

The study follows rapidly on the heels of earlier reports that Russian-owned media sites had been among the most prominent proponents of anti-GMO stories and memes, again aiming to undermine scientific consensus and public trust in academic institutions.

Both anti-vaccine and anti-GMO groups appeal to prejudices against modern science and conspiracy thinking to spread fear and misinformation. Like the tobacco lobby of old, doubt itself is their product.

Anti-vaccine myths have already led to a resurgence in preventable diseases such as measles, and increased numbers of child deaths in many countries. Many anti-GMO groups and anti-vaxxers are closely linked, such as US Right to Know (USRTK), which is funded by the Organic Consumers Association – whose anti-vaccine campaign in Minnesota has been linked with renewed disease outbreaks there in immigrant communities.

Perhaps the most prominent anti-vaccination advocate in the United State is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who also advocates against GMOs. Indeed, he led the case against glyphosate (widely seen as a proxy for the war on GMOs) which led to the recent judgment against Monsanto in a California court.

The Russian government is clearly determined to spread anti-scientific memes and conspiracy theories in order to help its objective of sowing distrust of “Western” science and democratic systems. But why would Putin support these anti-science campaigns?

Russia’s strategy is utterly cynical as well as being unabashedly authoritarian. Putin knows that people are not inclined to believe his untruths – so his main aim is to undermine the whole concept of truth more broadly.

The rationale goes as follows: “No, you can’t believe me. But you can’t believe anyone – everyone lies!” The idea is to undermine trust throughout democratic societies in order to justify resurgent authoritarianism in Russia and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, this misinformation seems to go with the populist tide of the times. Populist movements of both far left and far right have been supported by Russia, and often tend to spout anti-scientific views.

Italy’s new populist, anti-immigrant government has backed away from mandatory vaccination of children, while Russia itself has made great play of being “GMO-free”and banning genetically modified crops and products throughout the country.

Populists often rage against “elites” and dismiss the idea of expertise in preference for “man on the street” common wisdom. This is fertile ground for anti-science campaigns, because scientific consensus depends on the informed views of experts.

President Trump, Vladimir Putin’s number one fan, has staked his whole approach on using notions of “fake news” and attacks on the freedom of the press in order to justify his own constant lies and distortions.

Trump has also tweeted misinformed notions about vaccines causing autism, and – along with much of the Republican party – denies the reality of human-caused climate change, on the basis of a conspiracy theory that global warming is a “hoax” invented by China.

All these memes depend on the cavalier dismissal of scientific evidence on the basis that it is the view of “intellectual elites” and therefore of no value. This wider cultural and political climate is perhaps why Russia’s efforts to sow further discord and mistrust seem to have been so successful.

So what can the pro-science community do? Speaking up and getting out on the streets is important, as the March for Science has shown. But in my view it is equally important to bear the wider context in mind: the fight against misinformation on vaccines, GMOs and climate change is part of a wider battle for truth and for democracy — battles that we cannot afford to lose.

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PRESIDENT 45’s CHILD SEPARATION POLICY EXPLAINED–BY RUSSIA


The child separation policy now in effect (2018) for those families who, for whatever reason, entered the United States illegally, has an interesting precedent.

Not exactly surprising, since President 45 seems curiously enamored with Putin’s Russia. Vladimir Putin’s path to power started on the bottom rung of the promotion track of the old Soviet KGB, renamed the FSB, but retaining most features of its predecessor as well as its first incarnation, the NKVD under first Lenin, then Stalin/Beria.

The text of official orders of the NKVD regarding children of “class enemy” prisoners, some 18 million of which either died in “concentration camps” known as Gulags, or were released eventually to miserable settlements in Mongolia and Siberia which they were forbidden to leave on penalty of death, are quoted below.

The novel and film: “Dr. Zhivago” was based on experiences of those caught up in the coils of the Soviet system, and featured a young mother losing her child when attracting the attention of the NKVD.

First, they were almost all arrested for the alleged crimes of their husbands or fathers. Communist officials saw women as just another means of punishing men, rather than as individuals with distinct identities. One of the few ways for a woman to avoid arrest alongside her husband was, perversely, to accuse him of treason before anyone else did.

Signed by the head of the NKVD on August 14, 1937, Operational Order of the Secret Police No. 00486, “About the Repression of Wives of Traitors of the Motherland and the Placement of Their Children,” stated:

Women married to husbands at the time of their arrest are to be arrested with the exception of … wives who provide information that leads to their husband’s arrest… The wives of traitors are to be imprisoned… no less than five to eight years. Children… are to be placed in orphanages of the ministry of health in other locations.

That brings us to the second horror unique to women’s persecution. Upon a mother’s arrest, the Soviet system declared her children orphans and sent them as far away as possible. After regaining freedom a woman would often never learn of their fate. In the state-run orphanages, children of traitors and class enemies faced social stigma. They were taught to feel shame and loathing for their parents.

Despite the scrubbed faces of the children pictured, probably assembled for the Soviet version of Catherine (the “Great’s”) “Potemkin Village” presentations of the starved and miserable serfs of Czarist Russia to the Empress and her retinue, mortality as the years went by approached 95% among separated children.

The cause was that apparently no resources were made available to the program, forcing the barely clad, filthy and starving children out to forage for themselves. Abuse by the barely paid staff (where there was any) was horrendous.

The situation of “Anna”, love child of Lara and Dr. Zhivago in the novel and film, in which she was discovered in adulthood as a laundry worker, would have been exceptional.

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How the Nazis Were Inspired by Jim Crow


In 1935, Nazi Germany passed two radically discriminatory pieces of legislation: the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. Together, these were known as the Nuremberg Laws, and they laid the legal groundwork for the persecution of Jewish people during the Holocaust and World War II.

When the Nazis set out to legally disenfranchise and discriminate against Jewish citizens, they weren’t just coming up with ideas out of thin air. They closely studied the laws of another country. According to James Q. Whitman, author of Hitler’s American Model, that country was the United States.

“America in the early 20th century was the leading racist jurisdiction in the world,” says Whitman, who is a professor at Yale Law School. “Nazi lawyers, as a result, were interested in, looked very closely at, [and] were ultimately influenced by American race law.”

In particular, Nazis admired the Jim Crow-era laws that discriminated against black Americans and segregated them from white Americans, and they debated whether to introduce similar segregation in Germany.

Yet they ultimately decided that it wouldn’t go far enough.

“One of the most striking Nazi views was that Jim Crow was a suitable racist program in the United States because American blacks were already oppressed and poor,” he says. “But then in Germany, by contrast, where the Jews (as the Nazis imagined it) were rich and powerful, it was necessary to take more severe measures.”

Because of this, Nazis were more interested in how the U.S. had designated Native Americans, Filipinos and other groups as non-citizens even though they lived in the U.S. or its territories. These models influenced the citizenship portion of the Nuremberg Laws, which stripped Jewish Germans of their citizenship and classified them as “nationals.”

A copy of the Nazi-issued Nuremberg Laws. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

A copy of the Nazi-issued Nuremberg Laws. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

But a component of the Jim Crow era that Nazis did think they could translate into Germany were anti-miscegenation laws, which prohibited interracial marriages in 30 of 48 states.

“America had, by a wide margin, the harshest law of this kind,” Whitman says. “In particular, some of the state laws threatened severe criminal punishment for interracial marriage. That was something radical Nazis were very eager to do in Germany as well.”

The idea of banning Jewish and Aryan marriages presented the Nazis with a dilemma: How would they tell who was Jewish and who was not? After all, race and ethnic categories are socially constructed, and interracial relationships produce offspring who don’t fall neatly into one box.

Again, the Nazis looked to America.

“Connected with these anti-miscegenation laws was a great deal of American jurisprudence on how to classify who belonged to which race,” he says.

Controversial “one-drop” rules stipulated that anyone with any black ancestry was legally black and could not marry a white person. Laws also defined what made a person Asian or Native American, in order to prevent these groups from marrying whites (notably, Virginia had a “Pocahontas Exception” for prominent white families who claimed to be descended from Pocahontas).

The Nuremberg Laws, too, came up with a system of determining who belonged to what group, allowing the Nazis to criminalize marriage and sex between Jewish and Aryan people. Rather than adopting a “one-drop rule,” the Nazis decreed that a Jewish person was anyone who had three or more Jewish grandparents.

Which means, as Whitman notes, “that American racial classification law was much harsher than anything the Nazis themselves were willing to introduce in Germany.”

It should come as no surprise then, that the Nazis weren’t uniformly condemned in the U.S. before the country entered the war. In the early 1930s, American eugenicists welcomed Nazi ideas about racial purity and republished their propaganda. American aviator Charles Lindbergh, a public admirer of Adolf Hitler’s, received a swastika medal (pictured below) from Nazi leader in 1938.


Once the U.S. entered the war, it took a decidedly anti-Nazi stance. But black American troops noticed the similarities between the two countries, and confronted them head-on with a “Double V Campaign.” It’s goal? Victory abroad against the Axis powers—and victory at home against Jim Crow

 

double v campaign

 

 

 

 

 

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CARTOONIST UNDERSTOOD TYRANTS AND BUFFOONS–Why is the U.S. in 2018 unable to understand tyrants and buffoons in our political system?


It may seem scarcely believable today, but the British foreign secretary then (1939,  before Britain formally entered WWII) personally met the cartoonist and told him to tone it down on Hitler. Low, a staunch socialist with a liberal humanitarian ideal, refused. His reply was: ‘..it’s my duty as a journalist to report matters faithfully and in my own medium I have to speak the truth. And I think this man is awful. ‘

He continued to skewer the Fuehrer. After Hitler’s defeat it came to be known that he had put the cartoonist’s name high on his kill list, should Germany have defeated and occupied Britain, a nearly realized ambition of Hitler.

But what was it about his cartoons that got to Hitler?

This is what Low himself felt:

“No dictator is inconvenienced or even displeased by cartoons showing his terrible person stalking through blood and mud. That is the kind of idea about himself that a power-seeking world-beater would want to propagate. It not only feeds his vanity, but unfortunately it shows profitable returns in an awed world.

What he does not want to get around is the idea that he is an ass, which is really damaging.I shall always remember Hitler.. not as the majestic, monstrous myth of his propaganda build-up, but as the sissy who whined to the British Foreign Office about his dignity when I ran him for a while as a comic strip.”

He portrayed Hitler no as a villain but as a buffoon, and that really hurt the man’s vanity.

'Very Well, Alone': Sir David Low's Evening Standard cartoon from June 1940, after the German invasion of France

‘Very Well, Alone’: Sir David Low’s Evening Standard cartoon from June 1940, after the German invasion of France. Because of the “America First” movement and Hitler/Mussolini enthusiasts in the U.S., it took until December 7, 1941 for our country to enter the war against Hitler. Delay cost millions of lives on every side.

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TANTRUM THEATER in the White House


‘Throwing tantrums for 72 years’: Trump biographer explains how the president bungled his business deals

Researcher and biographer Michael D’Antonio walked through the decades of bungled “deals,” that President Donald Trump had while negotiating in New York. To make matters worse, he thinks this might be the first time Trump has had to go up against a powerful woman.

“There’s a huge difference between the deals that Donald Trump used to be involved with and deals involving national security and federal employees and hundreds of thousands of people,” remarked CNN reporter and sometimes host Dana Bash.

D’Antonio agreed, noting that Trump came up with this “walk away” negotiation tactic, but it hasn’t actually worked in the past.

“I think in his past, the president actually lost a billion dollar deal on the Upper West Side when he made Ed Koch angry at him,” the biographer told Anderson Cooper Wednesday. “And the mayor wasn’t going to go along with this television city project that had real potential. He did this also with the United States Football League where all the other owners wound up being really angry. Because he pushed something beyond what was constructive.”

When it came to Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, D’Antonio thinks Trump is in over his head.

“As I’ve been watching this, I’ve been thinking about the fact that this is a man who has been having tantrums for 72 years,” he continued. “You know, and what Nancy Pelosi is doing is what a good mother does. She doesn’t give in to the kid having a tantrum. Chuck Schumer may not have that impulse because maybe he wasn’t as active a parent as Nancy Pelosi has been. But the last thing you do is give a who’s having a tantrum what he wants. I think this is perplexing the president. I think he’s met his match in Mrs. Pelosi.”

Indeed, Pelosi is the mother to five children and grandmother. Dealing with children isn’t a foreign concept to her.

“It doesn’t matter what people are saying to him,” Dana Bash, CNN’s chief congressional correspondent said. “It’s what he believes and he is firmly confident that this is the right thing to do for him politically. And that’s what a Republican senator who was in the private meeting with him told me today. It’s not that he is necessarily arguing that it’s the right thing to do for national security although he has said that. That he is in a good place politically and that is what is really rankling a lot of people and helping to entrench the Democrats because they see believes this is a political interrogative for him.”

D’Antonio also noted that this is the first time that he can think of where Trump has been forced to go up against a powerful woman and it’s likely difficult for him. He said that people should probably be looking more to Trump’s emotions and personality rather than strategy.

 

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NO ROOM AT THE INN?


        As we enter the 2018 Christmas season, it is worth noting that something like a quarter of a billion persons around the world have nothing which can be described as a “home”, no matter how humble. 

     Queen Victoria, when advised that a large part of the urban population of India, then a part of the British Empire, was homeless, responded by ordering colonial authorities to provide a blanket to each person so identified. Britain’s industrial cities, along with London, also had thousands of homeless persons overwhelming the charities tasked with serving them. They didn’t get blankets supplied by royal edict, despite Britain’s brutal weather, press reports on their plight and conspicuous presence, walking distance from Buckingham Palace. 

     John Quincy Adams, President from 1824-1828, was ambassador to Britain from 1815-1817. He was mortified by the extremes of opulence and want he encountered there. He recorded in his diaries the sight of starving beggars who appeared by night at the doors of country estates, who had to be carted away, dead or alive, by the groundskeepers in the morning.

homeless in Victorian London

   The Bible story which forms the foundation of the Christmas observance is based on the plight of humble travelers seeking refuge. One innkeeper, taking pity on them, offered them his establishment’s stable for the night with the explanation that there was “no room at the inn”.

    It’s hard to imagine that persons can celebrate Christmas while ignoring the key element in the foundation story. Besides our own resident homeless population, another group whose plight is hard to ignore presses itself against our southern border. Not even a stable to shelter them.                                                   

  It’s not surprising that migrants piling up at our borders are, because of the actions of Trump, finding themselves unwelcome in Mexican border cities ill-equipped to host them.

    The Trump and Kushner real estate empires were created by clever strategies to force low-income tenants and homeowners out in order to free up space for luxury developments. Similar tactics, for the same reason,  are used by Russian Oligarchs to force tenants from basic, but cheap, Soviet era housing, spiced up in Russia with occasional “unsolved” murders of stubborn occupants.Trump as Uncle Sam

                                     Above, an example of Trump’s portrait on his “wall”.     

It is clear to our southern neighbors that a “wall” high enough to display Trump’s portrait to viewers miles away on both sides is the eventual goal of our President, forever sealing contact with families already in the U.S.  It’s no wonder then that many in Central America rushed to try to plead their cases at our borders before the “wall” in its various iterations, was in place.

    Having been a part of the international back-packing mob of young people testing their limits in the 1950s and 60s around the world, there were plenty of times when “you can’t stay here” cropped up in the various languages encountered along the way. Countering that were vastly more greeting us, especially when we pitched in to harvest and fill needs unfilled due to the deaths of millions just a few years before in WWII, in exchange for a dry place to sleep and a seat at a humble table.

       Those gleefully, in pursuit of profit, evicting, excluding and consigning to lifetime misery the poor among us and beyond our borders will no doubt enjoy their holiday bounty in the coming season. I pity them, don’t you?

 

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Trump and Quisling, a comparison


In 1933, shortly after Hitler assumed power in Germany, a Norwegian army officer, Vidkun Quisling, founded Norway’s very own fascist party, the National Union. More than six years later, in the closing days of 1939, with the Second World War now underway and Nazi armies rampaging in Europe, Quisling met with the German Führer and urged him to occupy Norway. Hitler, riding high at the time and wanting to secure a presence in Norway before the British did, promptly obliged, and installed Quisling to head a puppet government.

As a result, throughout Europe, and then the broader world, the name “Quisling” became a noun, linguistic shorthand for something unspeakably grubby, opportunistic, and cruel.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Quisling as a “traitor” or a “collaborator.” But, perhaps, it is the synonyms the dictionary lists underneath that are more telling: “apostate, backstabber, betrayer, double-crosser, double-dealer, Judas, recreant, serpent, snake, traitor, turncoat.”

This week, the president of the United States – a man who publicly asked Russia to hack Clinton’s emails in 2016, and benefitted mightily from a range of other Russian interventions in his first election campaign — essentially invited foreign governments, spy agencies, and freelance provocateurs to feed him dirt on his domestic political opponents in his second campaign.

He wouldn’t, Trump told ABC News, necessarily contact the FBI or other law enforcement agencies if he and his team were approached by overseas governments and their agents with material that would secure him partisan political advantage.

This from the man who now routinely accuses those who investigated his 2016 campaign’s Russia connections of being “traitors.” Who called for Clinton to be locked up for endangering national security by using a personal email account to conduct government business. Who is pushing the Justice Department to set in motion show trials against political opponents, law enforcement investigators, even ex-intelligence community leaders-now-TV pundits such as James Clapper. Who wraps himself in the flag and parrots ugly nationalist platitudes as shamelessly as any mid-century, mittel-European demagogue. Who has, at various times, used fire-and-brimstone apocalyptic rhetoric to promise to entirely destroy both Iran and North Korea if their leaders dare to threaten or insult the United States. Who appointed the fanatic Kris Kobach to investigate a supposed epidemic of voter fraud committed by “illegals.” Who has aggressively pushed a “citizenship question,” squarely aimed at intimidating immigrants away from participating, onto the 2020 census, supposedly, absurdly, as a way to uphold the Voting Rights Act. Who has put children into cages, and declared a national emergency, as a way to “secure” the country’s southern borders.

This homunculus, who claims to be the great defender both of the integrity of the nation and of its democratic institutions, is an utter fraud. The ABC interview simply pulls back the curtain even more on what should, by now, be plain viewing: It’s always been all-about-Trump, all about grifting and conning, cheating and lying his way to personal wealth and power. And if overseas governments want to get in on the act, so much the better for him.

In normal times, Senators and members of Congress from both great political parties would have lined up to condemn such remarks. It’s hard to imagine any other presidency surviving such a malicious action, such an invitation, by the Commander-in-Chief, to undermine the democratic institutions and tenets of the country. It’s hard to fathom any other president saying this without his senior cabinet members resigning in disgust.

Surely a runaway, rogue, president, a toxic, criminally-disposed leader, a man who cannot distinguish between his personal interests and the interests of the state, are what the impeachment process, or the 25thAmendment, were carefully crafted to prevent.

Yet Trump says this stuff, he blathers on in his crude, egomaniacal Made-Man way, seemingly without consequence. Perhaps his most durable political accomplishment has been to unleash an era of shamelessness. An era where anything goes, and where, on a daily basis, the bar for acceptable presidential behavior is deliberately lowered. Where the most appalling rending of the democratic and cultural fabric is simply viewed as acceptable collateral damage in a take-no-prisoners moment; or, perhaps worse, as just an entertainment spectacle.

In Trump’s reality-TV mindset, one can say and do the most unethical things because it’s all just a game, just a part of the endless chase for ratings. He has turned the governance of the world’s most powerful country into a 24/7 Jerry Springer show. The long-term consequences can’t be seen by the camera, and thus, in such a calculus, they don’t count, arguably don’t even exist.

Trump’s cabinet continues to back him. The GOP congressional leaders, as they do after each outrage spewed forth from Number 45’s vulgar mouth, utter milquetoast condemnations and then immediately return to the serious business of confirming conservative judges, deregulating the economy, the environment, the workspace, and passing punitive anti-abortion laws in the hopes of prodding the Supreme Court into overturning Roe vs Wade. And about four in ten voters continue to regard Trump as something akin to the Second Coming of Christ, a Messianic figure who can, in their eyes, do no wrong.

The result is such a vast corrosion of the political culture that, day by day, the memory of a more elevated tone in governance simply melts away. Was there really a moment when the president retweeting doctored images of the House Speaker, intended to make her look drunk, would have raised eyebrows? Was there really a period when the president tweeting about the Prince of Whales would have drawn howls of outrage across the political spectrum at the sheer inanity of a man who can mistake a big maritime mammal for a country? Was there really a time in American politics when the Quisling comments of a debased and odious leader would have resulted in good men and women of all political stripes coming together to say “No More”?

The answer, of course, is there was. And, I believe, that in due course there will be again. Men of Trump’s ilk can only ride the waves of power for so long. They do their damage, but eventually they get thrown, and, when they do, they fall peculiarly hard. They find then, in the senescence of their rule, that their friends, both domestic and foreign, are only fair-weather, their “achievements” as insignificant as sand-castles at high tide.

Seventy-nine years after Quisling sought out foreign intervention to smooth his rise to power, his name is still hurled as an epithet. Perhaps, far down the road from now, as the children of the twenty-second century go to school, they will be taught that Trumps are entirely dishonorable creatures; that to be called “A Trump” is the most demeaning of insults. Maybe, too, Merriam-Webster will publish a list of synonyms: “A bore, a narcissist, an ego-maniac, a fool, a cheat, a felon, a purveyor of falsehoods, an opportunist, a sadist, a man who somehow lost his soul.”

— Sasha Abramsky

http://www.theabramskyreport.com

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DEATH OF DEMOCRACIES EXPLAINED?


John Adams’ Thesis

Although Adams’ words, quoted below, appear pessimistic on the surface, this is not necessarily the case. After his initial statement, he lists examples of the historical imperfections and follies of democracy in Athens and France, claiming their ambitions were strictly vested in self-propagation and blaming democracies for bloodshed and war. Finally, however, Adams notes that this is no different than other forms of government, such as monarchy. In this, he reveals that his statement is perhaps more ideological than it is political; as much as it condemns government, it affirms the individual. This philosophy reflects another of Adams’ more positive historical quotes: “To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.”

PRESIDENT JOHN ADAMS, in office 1796-1800, born 1735, died 1826

“THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DEMOCRACY YET THAT DID NOT COMMIT SUICIDE”

                               ARE THE ITEMS BELOW THE POISONOUS POTION?

Genie page

A RECENT AUDIO PRESENTATION AT THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB OF CALIFORNIA, 2018 (click below)

https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/archive/podcast/malcolm-nance-how-russia-destroying-democracy

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