Antifa – It’s not antifashionable

August 17th 2019

Donald Trump, doubtlessly hoping to further spark unrest between fascists and antifascists, sent out an incendiary tweet July 27th, 2019. “Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror (along with MS-13 & others). Would make it easier for police to do their job!”

In a (vain) hope of escalating the confrontation between such groups in Portland today, he tweeted last night, “Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.” Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”

To that end, GOP legislators have been given marching orders to blame all further incidents of mass murder on “leftists” in general and Antifa in particular, and never, ever admit that racial hatred and xenophobia might drive such attacks—indeed, one Republican today tried to blame El Paso on Antifa.

Well, that’s the nature of propaganda. There’s an image popular on far right sites that shows a flag, remarkably similar to the Nazi German military flag, with the letters “AF” where the swastica would be. It’s photoshopped: the original nazi-style flag was for the National Front in Britain, a far-right group. The ‘N’ was photoshopped to an ‘A’ and the right wing propagandists were off to the races, sobbing over the victims of the thugs wielding the “Antifa” flag. The ‘victims’ in the original photo? Oh, they were Antifa. British Nazis were attacking them. Details, details.

There’s only been one case where a leftist acting on his political philosophy shot some people, and that was that clown who shot up the Congressional baseball game. The bozo who shot Gabby Gifford was described by a classmate who didn’t actually know him as “a liberal” and the right seized on that with glee, but the reality is he was mentally too far gone to have any sort of coherent political philosophy, and furthermore, Gifford is a Democrat. The Dayton shooter did express leftist sympathies on his Facebook page, but he was not Antifa, nothing in his screeds advocated violence. If he was out to make a political statement, killing his sister and her boyfriend seems a strange way to start.

Compare with the hundreds of murders committed by the right for political and racial reasons: El Paso, most of the school shootings, the attacks on mosques and synagogues, black churches shot up and burned. Deaths from far-right killers acting on their Nazi beliefs are in the thousands. Deaths from Antifa: 0.

I’m happy to report that the mayor and Portland Police did do their job, although probably not in the way Trump hoped. They kept protesters and counter-protesters largely separate, with the result that there were 13 arrests and perhaps a half dozen injuries, of which only one required a visit to the hospital.

This is probably much closer to what Trump hoped to see in the immediate future for America:

In the final years of the Weimar Republic, Germany was mired in a grave political and economic crisis that left the society verging on civil war. Street violence by paramilitary organizations on the Left and the Right increased sharply. In the final ten days of the July 1932 parliamentary elections, Prussian authorities reported three hundred acts of politically motivated violence that left twenty-four people dead and almost three hundred injured. In the Nazi campaigns, propaganda and terror were closely linked. In Berlin, Nazi Party leader Joseph Goebbels intentionally provoked Communist and Social Democratic actions by marching SA [Brownshirt] storm troopers into working-class neighborhoods where those parties had strongholds. Then he invoked the heroism of the Nazi “martyrs” who were injured or killed in these battles to garner greater public attention. Nazi newspapers, photographs, films, and later paintings dramatized the exploits of these fighters. The “Horst Wessel Song,” bearing the name of the twenty-three-year-old storm trooper and protege of Goebbels who was killed in 1930, became the Nazi hymn. The well-publicized image of the SA-man with a bandaged head, a stirring reminder of his combat against the “Marxists” (along with other portrayals of muscular, oversized storm troopers), became standard in party propaganda. In the first eight months of 1932, the Nazis claimed that seventy “martyrs” had fallen in battle against the enemy. Such heroic depictions — set against the grim realities of chronic unemployment and underemployment for young people during the Weimar period — no doubt helped increase membership in the SA units, which expanded in Berlin from 450 men in 1926 to some 32,000 by January 1933.

It’s a nightmare scenario that no sane person ever wants to see in America. Not among the scattered groups of people collectively known as “Antifa” and not among a surprising number of people that are pro-Trump. It was interesting to note that Oath Keepers, a Christian Dominionist group often seen as an umbrella organization coordinating Proud Boys and other far right groups, withdrew support and involvement from the Portland demonstrations the day before, explicitly stating that they felt the other groups had not done enough to keep the white nationalists out of the proceedings. It’s a reminder that not everyone in that crowd is a violent Nazi, and that some groups, such as the Oath Keepers, have a moral basement.

While the American 21st century version of Antifa is a loose coalition of groups ranging from librarians to the guys in black with truncheons you see reminding the Nazis that if they start breaking windows of shops belonging to minorities there will be a price to pay, Antifa as a global phenomenon dates back nearly a century, to the rise of Mussolini in Italy, and Hitler in Germany. In Germany it was known as the Antifaschistische Aktion and sad to relate, it wasn’t very effective. While it was originally organized by the second largest party in Germany at that time, the Communists, and supported by some of the moderate Social Democrats (although those two groups were largely antipathetic), the Nazis simply had more hobnailed boots on the ground and truncheons, and the power of propaganda.

Every time some brown shirt got drunk and fell in a ditch and drowned, or got run over by a bus, a howl went up from the Nazis, on the radio and in pamphlets and on posters and stickers everywhere, glorifying the victims of political oppression, and condemning the vicious, ravening hordes of greedy Jews who committed murder most foul against glorious Aryan youth who sought only to protect God and the Fatherland from such contamination.

When Hitler seized total power, he created a law, Reichstrafgesetzbuch which outlawed political dissidents, equated all dissenters to terrorists, and mandated life in prison, twenty years hard labor, or death. The good news for Antifa was that death usually came fairly quickly in Hitler’s prisons.

You have the Nazi propagandists of today, the Faux News opinionators and the radio blowhards, and an endless chorus of how the real threat is from the left, and they are attacking and annoying brave, patriotic Proud Boys whose only crime was defending America. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And the Reichstrafgesetzbuch is quite similar to legislation being pushed by another Nazi born in a neighboring country, Ted Cruz. Imagine how Donald Trump will use legislation like THAT if it’s in place for the campaign next summer! The mere act of condemning white nationalists who murder Hispanics, Moslems or schoolchildren could get you decades in Trump’s prisons, and we’ve already seen what kinds of conditions he wants for little children; imagine what he has in mind for you! And Trump’s corrupt Attorney-General Barr is already compiling lists of “suspected leftist terrorists” for future use. No doubt I’m on that list, even though I’ve never espoused political violence in any form. No doubt you are too, because you’re reading this.

We’ve seen this before—in Europe before WW2, in Europe since the breakup of the USSR, and many times in many other countries. It never ends well.

If we don’t get Trump and his henchmen out of office before the next election through peaceful and legal means, it gives him a ticket to strive for the power and glory that Hitler enjoyed for over a decade before he self-destructed and took his entire nation with him.

Impeach Trump now before he and his brownshirts get us killed.


Where the Brownshirts Came From

by James H. Barnett Washington Examiner

Daniel Siemens’s Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts, a superbly detailed account of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the main paramilitary wing of the Nazi party from its inception in 1920 until the consolidation of Hitler’s power in 1934. Siemens, a professor of European history at Newcastle University, looks beyond the traditional trope of the SA, or “Brownshirts” as they were commonly known, as a group of rowdy young psychopaths looking to brawl. His book paints a far more frightening portrait of a million-member organization that flourished by promising young German men a world of hypermasculinity, camaraderie, and egalitarianism—with genocidal undertones.

[…] Readers well-versed in the history of interwar Europe will appreciate Siemens’s valuable new research on the SA’s role in the Nazis’ rise to power as well as the group’s participation in the German war effort and Holocaust. For the general reader, Stormtroopers sheds light on the terrifying phenomena of political violence trouncing liberalism and of relatively ordinary young men getting swept up in the furor of a genocidal project. Hopefully, it will be read widely.

Crux – Nation may finally reach tipping point on gun violence

August 5th 2019

Of course, Trump tried to blame it on video games and television shows. It’s an excuse easily discredited by noting that many other nations have television and video games, but don’t routinely have mass shootings, or even the background hum of some 25,000 gun deaths every year.

Trump passed along his condolences to Toledo, which the town no doubt appreciated, although they were probably a bit perplexed; the recent mass shooting in Ohio was in Dayton, not Toledo. Nor was it in Bowling Green, another Ohio town cited by this administration for a terrorist attack that never actually happened.

OK, Trump is insincere and an idiot, and a patsy to the gun industry, but we all knew that already. It says it all, really that he’s going to El Paso, winner of the mass murder of the week award, against the wishes of the community. It’s bad enough that a lot of people in El Paso believe that Trump’s hateful rhetoric against ‘invaders’ directly led to this week’s Walmart shooting, but Trump had been there several months earlier for an anti-immigrant rally, ironic enough, but then he turned around and stiffed the city for $470,000 in security costs.

Think about that: he went to El Paso to inveigh against people who resembled 80% of the population of that town, ripped them off on the costs of protecting his sorry ass, provoked this mass shooting, and now wants to come and do them the favor of telling them, “Toledo, we stand behind you!”

Nearly lost in the glare of the two latest mass murders were two ones earlier in the week: In northern Mississippi, a shooter shot up a Walmart, killing two employees and wounding a cop. Walmart has already announced that their policy of gleefully selling weapons of mass destruction to lunatics and Nazis will not be interrupted by these little setbacks.

Then some clown shot up the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I’ve been to (and greatly enjoyed) the Garlic Fest. Not only that, but just a couple of days earlier I went to a Logging Heritage festival in my town, and it looked just like the Gilroy affair; tents and pavilions and happy people in bright summer wear in the blazing sun, having a great time. The shadow of a gunsel darkened that happy memory.

Still, as horrible as this past week has been, some sort of seismic shift has occurred in the country.

The media is openly referring to the attack in El Paso as a terrorist attack by the greatest security threat America faces: white nationalists and Nazis. The three other attacks, not ideologically or racially motivated, demonstrate the massive problem America has with guns. We have 219 mass shootings (three or more casualties in one incident) this year, the highest rate ever.

America is finally calling the problems what they are: weapons of mass destruction being sold to lunatics and Nazis. The Gilroy shooter was brought down by police in a minute; the shooter in El Paso in less than three minutes; the shooter in Dayton in 31 seconds. Less than five minutes aggregate, and at least 34 dead, over 60 injured. The El Paso shooter faced a mall full of people, many of whom practiced open carry. Didn’t help. It took the police to take him down. If any of the John Wayne wannabees took any action to defend their friends and loved ones, nobody else noticed. In Dayton, despite the incredibly fast response of police, the reason the death toll wasn’t much higher was because one very brave man, apparently a bouncer for the Ned Peppers bar, wrested the long gun from the shooter’s hands and stalled him long enough for cops to shoot the gunsel. Reports differ on whether the bouncer was killed by the shooter or simply injured by shrapnel when the cops shot the bastard. But between him and the fact that cops were nearby and reacted with unbelievable speed, hundreds of lives may have been saved. The shooter had multiple 100 round clips of .223s, a jolly little projectile that turns about a cubic foot of a human body into hamburger on impact and even a shot to an arm or leg can kill due to hydrostatic shock. They have one purpose—to kill humans. Although the Nazis who own so many of them prefer to think of their targets as subhumans.

But it’s changing. Oh, the vast majority of Republicans still cower in steaming puddles of their own moral cowardice, but some are finally standing up and saying, “This must end.” And Democrats and the media are calling the mass shootings what they are: terrorism. Even the non-ideological shooters, like the piece of shit in Dayton, are trying to send a message to the public and instill a culture of fear.

Even if the message is “I’m an alienated loser, a sexual cripple and a religious nut, but I can still scare you with my guns,” it’s terrorism. And it’s a far bigger problem than Islamic radicals. Or refugees from torn lands and their children.

The media, and the Democrats, are no making no bones about it. Republicans have tried to defuse it, blaming everything but the guns and nuts, and are openly being called out on the whorish cowardice that underlies their blind defense of the NRA and the murderous clowns who amass large arsenals against what they see as the coming Great Racial Holy War.

People are tired of sacrificing their right to go to the movies, the local fair, their church, the local Walmart, or just out on the street to these vicious little sociopaths who, minus their weapons of war, would be nothing more than noisy nuisances.

You can feel it. It ends here.

A Lonely Man – Kafka Kouncils grill Mueller

July 24th 2019

Today’s hearings had plenty of surreal moments. The one that stuck in my head was that of Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, who demanded to know as a former Prosecutor why Mueller spoke of exonerating Trump.

He was badgering Mueller, demanding to know where, in the remit of the Special Prosecutor, the Justice Department, the FBI or anywhere, existed the power to exonerate.

It could be argued that by saying he didn’t do something, Mueller was implying that he could do it. If Mueller had looked at the panel, and with a condescending smirk and an arched eyebrow, said, “I do not exonerate Donald Trump” then Turner might have a point. Then it would sound like Mueller could exonerate but just didn’t feel like it at that particular moment. But that’s not what happened.

Mueller merely stated in the report that it does not exonerate Trump. Mueller wasn’t claiming a nonexistent power to exonerate.

The report concluded, “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

If Mueller had instead written, “The evidence doesn’t make the President a good guy,” would Ratcliffe (and several other Republican reps chanting the same song) be screaming that Mueller cannot claim that he can make the President a good guy when in fact Mueller is saying the report doesn’t make him look like a good guy?

This all sounds silly as hell, and it is, but it also grazes a salient point that is, in point of both fact and law, the heart of the reason the report, while it contains many smoking guns, wasn’t THE smoking gun.

The Department of Justice has a lunatic rule that a sitting President cannot be indicted for crimes committed while sitting as President. A sitting President can be sued for civil matters (Jones vs Clinton) but when it comes to criminal matters, he enjoys a weird, extra-constitutional diplomatic immunity from his own country.

If I had to guess, it was Republicans who pushed for this rule, because while they love to investigate Democrats for (usually imaginary) crimes it is Republican Presidents who tend to be the actual criminals and end up in for-reals legal trouble. So Republicans scrapped legal harassment of Democratic presidents in order to keep their own out of prison, and settled for endless congressional investigations—none of which needed any actual evidence of criminal behavior in order to proceed, an added bonus. Remember Benghazi? Eight congressional investigations, blowing well over $75 million, and even with corrupt Republicans running the show, couldn’t find evidence of any wrong doing, or even that a crime had occurred.

So from the get-go, Mueller know he could not indict Trump. Lacking the main element for his report, he had to feather the edges. With no power to indict, or even accuse, because Presidents are god-kings well above your stupid puny American laws, he instead listed the crimes (eleven dealing with obstruction of justice alone) and waited for a corrupt and cowardly Congress to do its job.

He must have felt quite lonely doing that.

Did he manage to drop the hint? Over a thousand federal prosecutors signed a letter stating that if they were presented with the evidence Mueller had in his report, and if it were anyone other than the godlike and invulnerable Lord of all the Americas, they would have handed down multiple felony indictments.

Of course, prosecutors have a job to do and understand how to do it. Congress merely needs to look like it’s anything other than the world’s richest landfill.

Impeachment is similar to indictment, in that it is a formal accusation of wrong-doing brought against someone. Where the job of prosecutors is a bit more difficult is that they have to show evidence a crime has been committed and link said crime to the accused. Congress merely needs to impeach for high crimes and misdemeanors. One Congress impeached a President for firing a member of his own cabinet; another, for being misleading about getting a blow job.

Impeachment is enough of a joke that even Congress can handle it. But these days, with a few exceptions, Congress is an even bigger joke, and we have to listen to screeds about the Loch Ness monster and howls that by claiming not to take a given action, a prosecutor is saying that he could do the action if he wanted, a farcical conclusion on the face of it.

Resolve to impeach Trump is growing, but not among the Faux News/GOP part of the country, who all share the Sean Hannity delirium dream.

Mueller faced a grueling pair of sessions, nearly eight hours of badgering and misrepresentation of himself and his former office. He turns 75 soon, and there were quite a few times when his age was evident, when he stammered and looked a bit lost. Of course the Republicans exploited this, zeroing in on queries that they knew he was enjoined from answering because they weren’t in the report or might cause damage to the country. Knowing Mueller to be hard of hearing, they played nasty little schoolboy games, either speaking so quickly, or far enough from the microphone, that Mueller was forced to ask them to “please repeat the question” over 150 times. Republicans remind us that all very young children are sociopaths. Same furtive sense of nastiness that makes them toss ladyfingers at the cat.

And of course, Mueller had to grapple with the biggest limitation of all: The simple declaration that evidence existed that Donald Trump committed multiple felonies and should be indicted. He isn’t allowed to say that. All he can do—all he could do—was present the facts to Congress, and let them decide.

And that had to be a very lonely feeling for Bob Mueller.

Atrocities – A sure-fire way to bring atrocities about

July 13th, 2019

François-Marie Arouet, aka ‘Voltaire’ once famously said, ‘Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.’

The other day, Mike Pence, trumpenfuhrer toadie, visited a couple of the concentration camps America is running along the border. One was a model camp, where the inmates were reasonably clean and fed, although forced to sleep on child-size nap mats with only foil covering. Pence said the detainees appeared “well cared for,” something that reminded me unpleasantly of the Third Reich propaganda films that showed happy Jewish children playing in the sun and singing songs while German matrons watched, beaming approvingly. The Germans got the kids to go along by telling them if they did, they would see their parents again. None of them did, of course. Most of them were dead within weeks. Those who weren’t made sex slaves for the country’s elite, that is.

The second visit was to a much more typical American concentration camp, one where hundreds of men were jammed into hideously overcrowded pens without room for them all to lie down at once, and not given access to showers or any other elements of basic hygiene, and the toilets were little more than open pits. Many had been there for 40 days or more. Guards wore masks to keep the stench out. The only things missing were the German slogans and the Strauss waltzes being piped in over loudspeakers.

Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post wrote: “VP [Pence} saw 384 men sleeping inside fences, on concrete w[ith] no pillows or mats. They said they hadn’t showered in weeks, wanted toothbrushes, food. Stench was overwhelming. [Customs and Border Protection] said they were fed regularly, could brush [their teeth] daily [and] recently got access to shower (many hadn’t for 10-20 days).

Even Pence was taken aback, saying “This is tough stuff.” But of course Pence is and always has been a loathsome coward, so instead of calling for the immediate release of the inmates—most of whom have committed no crime—he blamed Democrats in Congress, condemning them for not passing a $4.6 billion “humanitarian relief bill” to build many more concentration camps (and eventually death camps). In fact, the House passed the bill several days earlier.

A word about Pence: he exemplifies the pseudo-Christian fundamentalist filth, the Dominionists, who are working to take over the country entirely. Once they accomplish that, the death toll from their efforts to purify us all will soar, and only violent revolution or complete social collapse will get their boots off our necks.

Let me tell you a disturbing truth about Hitler. From the time he became Chancellor right up to the point where the utter defeat and ruin of Germany could no longer be denied, he was immensely popular. Children begged to be allowed to climb in his lap, women swooned, men waved at his parades and rallies, unfeigned tears of joy and pride running down their cheeks. Hitler was loved, and it was easy, in the face of such adoration, to pretend that the work camps really did house people who meant Germany harm. Hitler was wise. He wouldn’t allow harm to come to innocents.

Trump is every bit as vicious and vile as Hitler. Our only real hope is that he is not as smart as Hitler was, not as charismatic, and no orator.

Even Hitler knew to conceal the death camps outside of Germany in the captive lands, knowing there was a limit to what the German people would stand for, but as long as people only entertained horrid suspicions rather than grim certainties, he could get away with what he was doing.

The reason he lies so blatantly and so frequently is to help prevent horrid suspicions from become grim certainties. You can’t commit atrocities without absurdities.

To that end, he used endless streams of propaganda. I suspect if Facebook was around in 1939, most of us would be speaking German now and the rest of us would be dead.

The American right, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin, who knows how pernicious and enervating the far right can be to a society, have also been unleashing endless propaganda.

For example, a message, almost certainly a concern troll, showed up in a liberal group on Facebook—indeed, it probably showed up in dozens for such groups. It was a query for information about liberal views and values, asked by “Kathy Aston, Iowa farm wife.” It’s very unlikely “Kathy” actually exists, being a reassuring figleaf pumped out by the actual authors of the hit piece, whether 4Chan, Breitbart, or the Russians. While an obvious troll, her sentiments are all ones I’ve seen kool-aide drinkers from the far right earnestly state as truths.

The message read:

Hi. Ok. I’m not a liberal. Please help me understand a few things that has us scratching our heads. I will be polite as possible, but these things are what is told to us, that makes us think you are a special kind of stupid. I’m not good at PC speech. Just cant say what I mean in your language. I really want to know!

#1. Killing newborn babies and calling it abortion. Why not adopt them out? Infanticide is really unnecessary. 

#2 welcoming invaders that overwhelm the country’s resources. One of the oldest war tactics on record. Calif is starting to yell for help, and we just shake our heads in wonder at the lack of smarts in your people.

#3. Welcoming in the enemy of our country that openly states they will overthrow us, rape our women, children, and kill all who will not believe their way. Also openly hostile to gay people, as in throwing them off rooftops.(last we knew, you guys really love your alphabet people.- LGBTP). Also stoning, beheading, and other barbaric behavior… Huh??? You really want this Sharia stuff??? Don’t you realize they will kill or gang rape you too??

#4. Freedom of religion, or none, if you wish. You already have it! Why the fuss?

#5. Women’s rights. Totally incompatable with #3 Islam gives no rights to women. They are puppet slaves to the males. A piece of property, worth less than an animal. Again, you really WANT this?

#6. What the heck is a “theybe”???? Medically, there are 3 sexes. Born with a penis, born without, and those who are born with both, a Hermaphrodite. We understand what it is to be gay.

Finally….black people. My favorite boyfriend was a huge black guy with such a gentle disposition. He did not worry about slavery. Or being recompensed for it. No one alive has been a slave, or has owned a slave. You are smart and have all opportunities to be anything you wish! Why keep the shame of the South alive?

Let’s run down this classic propaganda piece briefly:

#1. Blood libel. Liberals do not commit infanticide. The hideous belief that Jews drink the blood of Christian babies goes back to the middle ages, but Hitler and Trump flogged it endlessly to stir up hatred. I’ve been saying for years that some of the far-right trash in this country use the word “liberal” but they really mean “Jew.”

#2 “Invaders that overwhelm the country” –- Most of Germany’s Jews had lived there for generations, just as many of America’s Hispanics date back to the 17th century. But when you can lump them in with non-existent invaders, it makes it so much easier to stir people into a murderous rage against them.

#3 “Enemy of our country”. In Germany, that meant Gypsies, Slavs, and of course “Semites.” They are THEM. Please feel free to hate them.

#4 Freedom of religion, in the eyes of the Kathies of the world, is the freedom to place their religious boots on my neck. We wouldn’t be free to believe, but we would be free to believe what Kathy believes. It’s a stance that has informed the bloodiest pages in history.

#5 Womens’ rights. Frankly, I don’t give a shit what the governments of Iran or Saudi Arabia think as far as womens rights go here, not as an excuse to ignore them here. I just note that there is no difference in the attitude towards womens’ rights between fundamentalist Moslems, Jews, or Christians. They all hate and fear women. Trump’s role model from 1942 forced abortions for women deemed ‘impure’ while putting to death women who were pure, but got abortions, since ‘pure’ is a very slippery word.

#6 Sex isn’t just the plumbing. The main sex organ is the brain. Kathy would understand that if she actually had a brain. But death camps welcome “deviants,” too.

Finally…black people.” That says it all right there, even if Kathy had a big, black, strapping young buck as a boyfriend. Batteries not included. We should forget all about slavery, just as Kathy no doubt hopes we’ll forget all those lessons we learned from Hitler.

About 30% of the country avidly swallows the nonsense promulgated by the Kathies of the far right, and tell themselves Trump and Pence are godly and good men, just as Germans told themselves the same about Hitler, and crying Russians in the camps in Russia did about “Uncle Joe” Stalin.

‘Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.’

Milling Time – First Doubt, Then Resolve

July 4th 2019

I was watching a video on YouTube, made by the Truckee Police Department, called Wildfire 2.0 . If you live in an area susceptible to wildfires (which is some 150 million people in North America) then it’s important viewing.

But it gave a name to a phenomenon that I had not only seen many times before, but have experienced personally. There comes a time during a major, rapidly evolving emergency such as a wildfire or a tornado or a volcanic eruption where authorities or neighbors or someone approaches you and tells you you have to get the hell out, now. The danger is immediate, it is real. You can’t save your home and your belongings, just what you have in the car. Any pets you can’t find are on their own. (And boy, is that a soul-ripping decision to make!). You may perhaps be in your car already, and a cop or firefighter comes up to you and tells you the roads are blocked, just get out and run for it.

But your car can go zero-to-sixty in five seconds. You know you can outrun the fire. On foot…? Abandon the car and everything in it? You have to think about that.

Or you know the cat has to be hiding in the bushes out back. Yeah, it’s only a cat, but you’ve had that cat for ten years and the kids love it.

You hesitate. You dither. You’re not ready to commit.

All your neighbors are in the same circumstances, and they’re all doing the same thing.

Evacuation experts and emergency personnel have a name for that: Milling Time. People are in shock. They are numb, confused. Some become angry. Some panic. Some cry. Some just stare blankly. All are normal human reactions to a shocking and sudden emergency.

Fiction writers like to dwell on the deniers, the people who resolutely believe the fire will miss them, the tornado will disperse before it reaches them, the mountain will settle down, or they’ve seen dozens of hurricanes as bad as this one. These literary redshirts make for good drama, but the reality is the deniers don’t die in numbers anything like the loss of life caused by Milling Time. “He who hesitates is lost.”

Emergency evacuation personnel would love to come up with a way of eliminating or lessening Milling Time, but they haven’t had much luck. It’s just a part of human nature, and the best they can do is include it in their plans and train for it, so they don’t themselves experience Milling Time while trying to deal with it in an emergency. Yes, the guys with badges can experience doubt and confusion, too.

As we slog through what might be the most grotesque Fourth of July in the history of the United States, the country at large is experiencing Milling Time. People are facing a surreal situation in which everything they thought they knew about themselves and their country are under sudden threat. The Land of the Free has concentration camps housing thousands of innocent children. Some of those children are dying. Possibly even worse, family members and others who they once liked and respected are growling that those kids got what was coming to them. The president, and guys with badges, joke about the kids in concentration camps.

The government, once the champion of human rights and freedoms, suddenly is at war with both. Scientists are being expelled from the centers of power and sent to the hinterlands, the equivalent of Stalin sending intellectuals to Mongolia. Indeed, the president recently sent an aide who fell out of favor to Mongolia. Apparently he has read up on Stalin, along with Hitler.

There are tanks in the street in Washington, and while the turrets aren’t pointed at anyone, most people have realized that this president wouldn’t hesitate to give the order to aim if annoyed enough. Millions of Americans who used to watch the Washington Fourth of July celebrations are turning their backs this year, sickened by the lurid partisan spectacle promised by the president.

One vignette that tells it all, the corruption and disregard for American values. The president promised the biggest fireworks show ever, and he may get it. When he slapped his tariffs on China, he had a curious exemption: fireworks. China’s biggest fireworks manufacturer showed its gratitude for this display of favoritism by donating $755,000 worth of fireworks to the trumpaganza.

A furious judge discovered yesterday that this president wants to defy the Supreme Court and explicit language in the Constitution in order to further his low and thuggish bigotry against non-white Americans and residents and tried to unilaterally rescind a direct ruling by the SC on the census.

The VP, himself a bible-pounding monster, did a strange pirouette, supposedly leaving for a symposium in New Hampshire, then coming back for an emergency. Or maybe he didn’t go, there was no emergency, and the administration will tell us what happened in a few weeks. This opaque and corrupt government has turned us all into a nation of Kremlin Watchers, desperately scanning for clues as to the intent of these dangerous autocrats.

Concentration camps. Deep corruption. An outlaw president.

Milling Time does resolve, one of three ways. Either the danger engulfs us and we are lost, or we panic.

Or we realize, “Oh, fuck, that’s not going to miss me!” or see the numb fear on the faces of the people around us, and something clicks in our heads.

And the doubt and confusion vanishes, replaced by steely resolve.

We will live to fight another day. We will come back and vanquish the threat. We will prevail.

Americans have been in Milling Time, threatened by the shocking rise of fascism and neo-Nazism in the country they love and thought they knew.

But there’s no longer any doubt the danger is real. It won’t miss us. We talk to others, facing the same threats. Even the deniers are starting to admit it isn’t just a fabrication by fake news.

Now, Americans have three choices: they can succumb, they can panic.

Or they can fight for their country.

It’s time for resolve.

Sorry — Can’t Help You. Court decides states can quash constitutional rights

June 28th 2019

We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts…Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions.”

– John Roberts, Majority ruling, RUCHO ET AL. v. COMMON CAUSE ET AL.

With those words, Chief Justice Roberts twisted a gerrymandering case to address the remit of federal review, not of voters’ rights, but the rights of political parties. It’s a ludicrous argument. Nobody is talking about the rights of political parties; the case is about the efforts of political parties (OK, the Republicans, 99% of the time) to undercut the rights of residents to fair and equitable representation in the Congress. Roberts is pretending that by negating Republican cheating that means the Court would be showing bias in favor of the Democrats.

Usually I use an analogy or metaphor at this point to highlight how ridiculous this is, but words fail me. I feel like I’ve fallen into a novel: Jonathan Swift, maybe, or Lewis Carroll. Franz Kafka? Joseph Heller?

A Court that wasn’t overburdened with fascist toadies would have simply asked the question: are the rights of voters to equal representation being upheld? That’s the only constitutional issue in play: the parties (OK, THE Party) has no rights. And it’s utterly insane to pretend that it’s unconstitutional to interfere with one party’s ability to cheat the voters and deprive them of their rights.

So: suppose some restaurant chain in the South decides to stop serving African-Americans. Don’t laugh; all you need to know to realize how plausible that is would be the fact that several states have passed draconian laws limiting and even banning abortion in hopes that Roberts and his merry band of fascists will strike down Roe v. Wade. If the mere prospect of support from the right wing of the Court is enough to drive the bible pounding no-choice authoritarians into an orgy of attacks on the rights and freedoms of women, what chance will African-Americans have?

/We’re back to the days of Jim Crow. They get sued, and it gets to the Supreme Court. Now, rather than arguing that they have the right to infringe on the right of African-Americans, they instead argue that Jim Crow is simply a better business model, and that the court would risk interfering with their right to compete on a level playing field with their competition.

The Roberts Court would ignore the rights of African Americans in such a case, just as it deliberately ignored the rights of voters in this case. Instead, they would grab evidence, no matter how flimsy, to make it an issue of interfering with fair competition between corporate members of the same service industry.

But it goes beyond that. Ever since they lost control of the Federal Government, the Republican Party have dreamed of States’ Rights. Originally (and to this day) it was the realization that industries could better control the states they dominated than they could the entire country. Extraction companies, then as now, pounded the need to end federal interferences with their profit margins and turn those public lands, such as Yosemite or Yellowstone, over to people who would know how to best make money off of them.

States’ Rights became especially important to Republicans after they used the Nixon Southern Doctrine to become the party of the South. Segregationists dreamed of the day they could Nullify Federal anti-discrimination laws. Big Church industries saw a path to authoritarian pseudo rule through state capitols.

Turning the United States into fifty little fiefdoms benefits authoritarians. It essentially destroys the rights of the people previously known as Americans. Some parts of the country, such as California or New York, would start out OK, but eventually find themselves in a race to the bottom against states that have no problem with slave or indentured labor, are contemptuous of environmental and health safeguards, and rule, rather than govern, meaning the serf class would have little leverage to improve wages or freedoms. It would be like waking up and finding that Vietnam or Burma have moved next door to your state, and your industry is competing with neighbors who don’t have minimum wage, can dump raw sewage in the river upstream from you, and constantly broadcast pseudo-religious propaganda at you.

This is the dream of Roberts and his party stooges.

They have control of the court, and they did it through the duplicity and hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell, and the confused but malign cooperation of Donald Trump, lackey to all authoritarians. In the House, Pelosi showed her centrist colors (white and yellow) once again by caving to Trump’s blackmail on the border.

If they aren’t driven from office, things won’t get better; they will get worse. Much worse.

Republicans have no use for democracy or freedom. They simply want to rule.

Game Over – Terrifying new study suggests we’ve passed the tipping point.

June 20th 2019

The Tundra is vast. Just the extent in Canada alone is one million square miles, or about 30% of Canada’s land area. World wide, the tundra covers 8.9 million square miles, a region the size of North America.

Like most things relating to the Arctic, the nature of tundra is more diverse than people imagine. Merriam-Webster defines tundra as “a level or rolling treeless plain that is characteristic of arctic and subarctic regions, consists of black mucky soil with a permanently frozen subsoil, and has a dominant vegetation of mosses, lichens, herbs, and dwarf shrubs; also : a similar region confined to mountainous areas above timberline.”

Permanently frozen subsoil, or permafrost, is a wildly inaccurate name. Much of the far north has been frozen for thousands of years; where the tundra fades to taiga, steppe or boreal forest to the south, the low end of ‘permafrost’–ground that has been frozen for more than two years—is fairly common.

Scientists have been concerned about the state of the tundra for some time. Temperatures on the Canadian tundra have risen by 5.3C (9.5F) since 1990. The treeline has been steadily moving northward as a result, and areas of permafrost intermittency have expanded and increased. In some parts of central Québec and northern British Columbia, permafrost has already vanished altogether.

Vladimir E. Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks led a team to do a survey of the Canadian tundra on the southeastern shore of Prince Patrick Island by an abandoned military site on a cove with the touristy name of Mould Bay. At 76 north, there isn’t much between it and the north pole: Ellesmere Island, and that’s about it. Being in a somewhat sheltered spot, the weather isn’t as fierce as in much of the true north, but it still only enjoys three months a year of above-freezing temperatures, and average temps can reach -30F in the winter. So a foot below ground surface, permafrost is truly permanent.

Or so Romanovsky and his team thought. After all, that’s what they found on their previous visit, in the summer of 2016. Apparently Mould Bay wasn’t on the survey list this summer, but they spotted a break in the weather and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to land and take a look around.

What they found shocked them. Large areas of the permafrost around Mould Bay had melted, transforming the land from a flat icescape to a region of rolling hummocks, frost heaves, and countless little ponds and puddles. Submarine grasses had already secured a foothold in the watery microbiomes. Normally the latent cold in the ground prevented all but the most superficial thawing during the brief summers, but clearly that had changed. Indeed, the extent and depth of melting around Mould Bay was what was forecast for near the end of the century-2090. The team found it terrifying.

Tundra soil is largely organic plant matter, long dead but preserved by the permafrost. It is carbon rich, and not surprisingly, contains vast quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), all of which are potent greenhouse gases.

Mould Bay doesn’t represent all of the tundra any more than it does all of North America. But that wild amounts of melting are happening this far north and in a region that was still colder than most of the tundra is alarming. And we know frightening changes have been occurring over those millions of square miles; methane ‘volcanos’ in Siberia, bubbles of CO2 erupting in lakes in the north boreal, methane in tundra lakes (which burn fiercely when lit) and elevated levels of N2O throughout the taiga.

It may also explain the unexpected jump in world wide CO2 atmospheric concentrations, 414.2, a jump of 3.7ppm from 2018 and more than double the average increase in concentrations over the previous twenty years. That was an unpleasant surprise.

We need a lot more data from the tundra and taiga regions to know just how serious the situation is, and how immediate the disaster will be as a result.

We had already ensured that we have brought a climate emergency down upon our heads. No matter what we do, we’ve ensured a temperature increase of 2.5C worldwide, and 4.5C in the far north. This means major climate disruptions, crop failures, floods, droughts and megastorms. It means bioregional collapses, including in the oceans. Millions of people will be displaced, and large regional wars are likely. The death toll just from what we’ve already ensured will be in the millions, and perhaps worse than millions.

Widespread melting in the north could DOUBLE annual emissions, That would put us above 500ppm in less than 20 years, and temperatures would climb by at least 5C. At that point, it’s no longer a climate emergency; it’s a climate catastrophe. Widespread ecosystem collapse, a likely end to technological civilization, and a death toll in the billions.

Scientists are racing around the tundra regions trying to get some sort of overview of the millions of square miles. They already knew changes were happening far harder and faster there due to the phenomenon of polar amplification, but they weren’t prepared for something as dramatic as Mould Bay.

There’s a temptation to regard Mould Bay as an exception, even an extreme, even though it was in a part of the tundra believed least likely to melt in the near future. But we know changes is coming to the true north faster and more severe than previously imagined. We probably won’t find many places as bad as Mould Bay, at least not this summer.

But Mould Bay isn’t an extreme. It isn’t an exception.

It’s a harbinger.

Munch versus Mad Bum – You’ve got a really dirty mind, you know.

June 15th, 2019

Y’know, I don’t want to write about fucking Trump. I’m tired of typing with the taste of whatever I ate several hours earlier in the back of my throat. The man is a disgrace, and he makes me sick.

So let’s talk about baseball for a bit. Fun stuff, not scores and stats. The stuff that makes baseball goofy and endearing.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I want to put Trump on a batter’s tee in Oracle field in San Francisco, and have the biggest, meanest hitter in baseball—Cody Bellinger, say, or maybe Mike Trout—Barry Bonds Trump’s ass right into McCovey Cove.

Well, I’m not going to do that. For one thing, simple physics shows the sheer ridiculousness of this suggestion. Even Babe Ruth at his prime didn’t have the bat speed needed to propel a 239* pound mass 355 feet in order to land with a splash in McCovey Cove. Also, these are twitchy and paranoid times, and talk of hitting the president with a baseball bat could result in a less-than-friendly visit from the Secret Service.

So let me be clear: I do not advocate hitting Donald Trump with a baseball bat. Don’t do it. Not a good idea. No, not even with an aluminum bat! There’s a fad breaking out of pegging politicians with milkshakes, and while that would be a soul-satisfying event, as mentioned these are twitchy and paranoid times, and the Secret Service would probably pump 250 rounds into you before Trump could figure out what flavor shake you hit him with. If you want to keep Trump twitchy and paranoid, just shout “Impeach!” at him everywhere he goes.

So: cute baseball story.

Oddly enough, it actually does involve Oracle Park and McCovey Cove.

If you’re not a baseball fan and are somehow still reading this, Oracle Park, sometimes known as Corporate-Sponsor-of-the-Month Park, sits right at the juncture of Mission Creek and the San Francisco Bay. It forms a little basin within the Bay that is officially called China Basin but which fans nicknamed McCovey Cove in honor of the famed Giants slugger. It became famous during the splendid but suspicious late-career power surge Barry Bonds enjoyed, when he deposited dozens of balls in the water, where an armada of fans in kayaks and canoes jostled in hopes of catching one of his record-setting homers.

Balls still plonk into the Cove on a regular basis to this day, but to the disgust of the local fans, a large majority of those balls are hit by the opposing team. The Giants are rebuilding, glory days in the past.

They should talk to the Dodgers. They’ve been rebuilding since 1988, and have gotten really good at it.

But the Dodgers and Giants have the most famous rivalry in baseball, so naturally, the Dodgers were the visiting team in this story. And that’s part of the mix. If the Giants had been playing the San Diego Who Deys or the Cincinnati They Still Have a Team?, things might have been different.

The Dodger batter was named Max (“Munch”) Muncy, who kind of exemplifies Dodger luck. Muncy spent his first two years with the Oakland A’s, and he hit .196 (that’s really not good) and hit a total of five home runs, a total most team mascots could match. With a sigh, Oakland released him, and the Dodgers signed him, dirt cheap. In 165 games since, he’s hit 51 homers, hitting a respectable .269. For the Dodgers, it was a bit like ordering a Ford Focus and getting a Ford GT due to a mixup at the dealership. Team management blinked in disbelief but didn’t complain.

As you may have surmised, it was this self-same Max Muncy who hit a ball into McCovey Cove.

Now, the Giant’s pitcher was a fellow named Madison Bumgarner (“Mad Bum”). Thus the title of this piece. For those who were expecting some sleazy anal porn, I’m sorry, and Xhamster is that way. Enjoy.

Now, I know nothing about Bumgarner as a person. For all I know, he’s genial and even jovial, fun at parties, the sort of guy you like to have a beer with. But when he’s on the mound, he pitches with an emotional state that psychiatrists call “Having a large stick up his ass.” (OK, maybe a LITTLE anal porn…). He’s uptight, and a bit too tetchy for his own good.

A few years back, he had a verbal exchange with then-Dodger Yasiel Puig when he thought Puig’s bat flip following a moon shot was a bit too enthusiastic, and called him up on it. The Cuban Puig didn’t speak much English then, but picked up on the tone and gargled a couple of quarts of florid Spanish back at him. And it was ON, baby!

Puig probably wasn’t the best choice with whom to start a feud; he has made a cottage industry of trolling uptight pitchers, and from then on, whenever he faced Bumgarner, he did so with an amazing display of twerking, tongue flicking, bat licking and suggestive waggling of the eyebrows. Bumgarner, who really should have known better, was visibly seething at times. Dodger fans were delighted, Giants fans found their liberal values tested.

So when Muncy hit a Bumgarner pitch into the cove, it was probably his first opportunity to achiev that particular feat. He took a couple of moments to admire the flight of the ball. Bumgarner was unamused.

Muncy related after the game, “I hit the ball and then he yelled at me. [Bumgarner] said, ‘Don’t watch the ball, you run.’ I just responded back, ‘If you don’t want me to watch the ball, you can go get it out of the ocean.’”

As far as trolling goes, this was Harvard Lampoon level pitcher-baiting. “Go Get It Out Of The Ocean” was an instant classic. T-shirts were made, in Pantone 294 and with the word “Ocean” in Dodger script. Several Dodgers, including Muncy, gleefully wore the shirts during practice.

There is an unconfirmed report that Puig, now with the Cincinnati They Still Have a Team?, got a T-shirt and sent it to Bumgarner, but not before signing it, “From your good friend Puig. I like you.”

So this week the Dodgers and the Giants play again, this time in Dodger Stadium. The good news is that there are no large bodies of water near the park, and in fact nobody has ever actually hit a baseball out of the park. Maybe if the hitters imagined Trump’s face on the baseball…nah. I’m already in it deep enough, thanks.

Several outfits are selling variations on the “Go Get it out of the Ocean” Tees, and they are flying off the shelves. It seems very likely selling the Tees will be a major, if brief industry in the huge Dodger Stadium parking lots before each of the games, especially the one Mad Bum is pitching.

Now there’s two ways Mad Bum could bring this all to a grinding halt. One way is to go out and pitch a perfect game. Given that perfect games happen about once every 10,000 games, and Bumgarner isn’t as overpowering as he used to be, we’ll call that ‘Plan B.’

The other is for him to show up on the field pre-game wearing one of those shirts. Ideally, he would be wearing the very shirt Puig sent him, assuming a) that such a shirt actually exists and b) Puig didn’t taunt him by sending a shirt that is three sizes too small. Made sure the media notice. Maybe do an interview with a Dodger announcer while wearing it.

It would be self-deprecating and endearing. It would be bad for the T-shirt vendors, but good for Bumgarner and the Giants. It would nullify the original troll, and put Mad Bum up one.

Or he could go whack, um, somebody with a baseball bat. That would be a crowd-pleaser, too.

Nah. I would hate to see Mad Bum get shot. It would be superfluous. Muncy already nailed him.