Saturday, June 10, 2017

Did Colin Kaepernick's Protest Fail?

theatlantic |  Colin Kaepernick won’t stand for the national anthem because of what he sees as systemic racism in American society. But in the days that followed the San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s protest, the national debate hasn’t been about his motivation for sitting, but the method of sitting.

Critics have called his actions unpatriotic and disrespectful. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has even chimed in, saying Kaepernick “should find a country that works better for him.”

The wide array of criticism not only comes from political figures (Hillary Clinton hasn’t addressed the incident, while White House officials called his perspective “objectionable”), he’s also facing pushback from his own colleagues in the NFL.

Players have been widely quoted as saying they disagree with what they say is disrespect toward the American flag. Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback, said Kaepernick “can speak out about a very important issue,” but it shouldn’t “involve being disrespectful to the American flag.” He told ESPN on Monday:
Like, it’s an oxymoron that you’re sitting down, disrespecting that flag that has given you the freedom to speak out.
What if Jackie Robinson had sat during the national anthem during the 1947 World Series, as the baseball great wished he had 25 years later, knowing “that I am a black man in a white world?”
But if the discussion, for the most part, centers on whether sitting for the national anthem is an appropriate means of protest, did Kaepernick fail? He sat because of what he perceives is racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. That’s not what his colleagues or politicians or even the media are talking about four days after the incident.

Or did others fail in this debate? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA legend and activist, wrote in The Washington Post:
What should horrify Americans is not Kaepernick’s choice to remain seated during the national anthem, but that nearly 50 years after [Muhammad] Ali was banned from boxing for his stance and Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s raised fists caused public ostracization and numerous death threats, we still need to call attention to the same racial inequities. Failure to fix this problem is what’s really un-American here.
Kaepernick sat for the national anthem to spark a debate on racial injustice, but he sparked a debate about how we should protest in this country.

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Cathedral Bought All The Bass In Black Political Voices

Now, I been saying this for a minute. 

Once seen, the nature of this usurpation cannot be unseen. Black DOS (descendants of slaves) had a singularly potent claim under law against the American government. Some would argue the 2nd amendment to the Constitution, for sure the 14th amendment to the Constitution, Brown vs. Board, Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing Act - are all signifiers of precisely how potent a claim that we Black DOS have had and continue to have - if we properly assert and actively resist efforts to denature our specific priority as claimants with unique standing under law to pursue our claims.

Intersectionality, beginning with;
  1. The replacement negroe program under which 70 million immigrants have been brought into America to denature our hard fought political-economic standing
  2. The cognitive infiltration of feminism into black politics  which saw white women overwhelmingly supplanting Black DOS as the overwhelming beneficiaries of affirmative action intended principally as an economic redress for legally ostracized Black descendants of slaves (Shockley and the 70's eugenics revival was a concrete specific political backlash against affirmative action) 
  3. All the way up to gay marriage and transgender bathrooms 

is the bane and singularly potent antidote for the dilution of our singular legal claims.

Under the Cathedral and its permitted discourse insistence upon "intersectionality" - everybody and their cousin has a more "legitimate" and substantive political economic claim against the American government than Black DOS. Despite the indisputable fact that we comprise an exclusive historical phenomenon driving the evolution of citizen rights in the U.S., we find ourselves profoundly and paradoxically Left Behind the curve of the hard won gains we have made under law, but which we have lost in fact due to political gatekeeping and the complicity of "go along to get along" leadership.

This is where we stand at this particular moment in time. It's not a good look, but the long arc of history is far from complete, and as I've long asserted, As goes Blackness, so goes America. Fist tap MHicks.

Comey and Mueller: Pretty Much Just Head Snowflakes in Charge

Counterpunch |  Mainstream commentators display amnesia when they describe former FBI Directors Robert Mueller and James Comey as stellar and credible law enforcement figures. Perhaps if they included J. Edgar Hoover, such fulsome praise could be put into proper perspective.

Although these Hoover successors, now occupying center stage in the investigation of President Trump, have been hailed for their impeccable character by much of Official Washington, the truth is, as top law enforcement officials of the George W. Bush Administration (Mueller as FBI Director and James Comey as Deputy Attorney General), both presided over post-9/11 cover-ups and secret abuses of the Constitution, enabled Bush-Cheney fabrications used to launch wrongful wars, and exhibited plain vanilla incompetence.

Long before he became FBI Director, serious questions existed about Mueller’s role as Acting U.S. Attorney in Boston in effectively enabling decades of corruption and covering up of the FBI’s illicit deals with mobster Whitey Bulger and other “top echelon” informants who committed numerous murders and crimes. When the truth was finally uncovered through intrepid investigative reporting and persistent, honest judges, U.S. taxpayers footed a $100 million court award to the four men framed for murders committed by (the FBI-operated) Bulger gang.

Current media applause omits the fact that former FBI Director Mueller was the top official in charge of the Anthrax terror fiasco investigation into those 2001 murders, which targeted an innocent man (Steven Hatfill) whose lawsuit eventually forced the FBI to pay $5 million in compensation. Mueller’s FBI was also severely criticized by Department of Justice Inspector Generals finding the FBI overstepped the law improperly serving hundreds of thousands of “national security letters” to obtain private (and irrelevant) metadata on citizens, and for infiltrating nonviolent anti-war groups under the guise of investigating “terrorism.”

For his part, Deputy Attorney General James Comey, too, went along with the abuses of Bush and Cheney after 9/11 and signed off on a number of highly illegal programs including warrantless surveillance of Americans and torture of captives. Comey also defended the Bush Administration’s three-year-long detention of an American citizen without charges or right to counsel.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Miss Lindsey! Come Get Your Boy McStain!!!

jezebel |  During former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Thursday, Sen. John McCain embarked on a line of questioning so vague and meandering, so slurring and incomprehensible that the public only had two questions for him: 1) Da f*ck? and 2) May I have the phone number of your prescription pill dealer?

From what I could glean, McCain attempted to tie the Hillary Clinton email investigation to the Russian hacking investigation. But he was also so sleepy that he could easily have been dreaming and sleep talking about something completely separate.

Fired FBI Director Testimony Starting To Go Sideways...,

dailycaller |  Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general under Barack Obama, pressured former FBI Director James Comey to downplay the Clinton email server investigation and only refer to it as a “matter,” Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Comey said that when he asked Lynch if she was going to authorize him to confirm the existence of the Clinton email investigation, her answer was, “Yes but don’t call it that. Call it a matter.” When Comey asked why, he said, Lynch wouldn’t give him an explanation. “Just call it a matter,” she said.
Comey added later that he was concerned about that direction as it was false. He was further concerned because it aligned with the Clinton campaign’s spin on the investigation.

Lynch’s order, Comey said, “concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning.”

“I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general [Lynch] was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate,” Comey added.

Comey complied, in his words, because it “wasn’t a hill worth dying on.” In February 2016, the FBI confirmed in a letter that the agency was “working on matters related to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server.”

rotflmbao..., Snowflakes Fitna Be Extra-Salty Tonite

iBankCoin |  Constitutional expert and famed Harvard law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, took on Jeffrey Toobin to discuss the ongoing Trump-Comey saga, saying in no uncertain terms that “this is not obstruction of justice.”

He explains, “That is his constitutional power. He has the right to say, ‘You will not investigate Flynn.’ The best proof of that is he could have simply said to Comey, ‘Stop the investigation, I’ve just pardoned Flynn.’”

To back up his assertions, Dershowitz reminded viewers of when Bush I pardoned Casper Weinberger the night before trial. After doing so, no one cried ‘obstruction’ because it was within the rights of the President of the United States to do so.
“That’s what President Bush did,” Dershowitz said, citing the case of Caspar Weinberger. “You cannot have obstruction of justice when the president exercises his constitutional authority to pardon, his constitutional authority to fire the director of the FBI, or his constitutional authority to tell the director of the FBI who to prosecute and who not to prosecute.”
He made the point that impeachment and obstruction are two entirely different things, which reduced Jeffrey Toobin to look like an 11th grade history student learning the constitution for the first time. The President can be impeached for all manners of things, but not for firing Comey and/or asking him to stop investigating Flynn — because it is his right to do so.

Once You See The Mechanism Of Political Control, You Can't Unsee It

dailybeast |  Colbert relished imagining just how President Trump informed Comey that he “had not been involved with hookers in Russia.” As the host joked, “Comey replied, I understand Mr. President, but I just asked what you had for breakfast.”

On their unexpectedly private dinner, which took place a few weeks later, Colbert said, “Oh, c’mon, that’s the oldest trick in the book. You invite your FBI director over for a movie, saying it’s going to be a ‘group thing.’ When he shows up, it’s just the two of you. Can’t make Netflix word so, you know… so you obstruct justice.”

Trump’s “bombshell” at that particular meeting was telling Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” In response, Comey says, “I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed.” “Basically, Comey treated Trump like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park,” Colbert said. “It makes sense, they both have the same sized hands.”

Among the “weird stuff” in Comey’s remarks, Colbert said, was the fact that Trump repeatedly referred to his Russia scandal as “the cloud” over his administration. “Mr. President, that’s not a cloud,” Colbert told Trump. “Meteorologists call that a shitstorm.”

Snowflake Pandering Not Comedy: "And Now, The End Is Near; And So I Face The Final Curtain."

dailywire |  When you get fired by Squatty Potty, things are going badly.

Squatty Potty is a little plastic stool you put under your feet when taking a No. 2. The stool helps "mimic a perfect squat" while also having an "ideal foot position for maximum comfort." Now available in Slim Teak ($59.99) and Tao Bamboo ($69.99).

Yes, that was Kathy Griffin's only sponsor. And we're not saying that the 56-year-old whose career imploded after she released a picture of herself holding a bloody severed head modeled after President Trump isn't perhaps the perfect spokesman for Squatty Potty. We're just noting that SquaPa decided to give Griffin her walking (toilet) papers.

So, that's everyone. CNN (after waiting nearly a day) decided to can Griffin from her annual New Year's Eve appearance (where she flips people the bird and makes Anderson Cooper giggle like a school girl). And every single one of her upcoming gigs for her comedy show has been canceled. Every. Single. One.

"Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins Tour" (hilarious!) had planned seven stops, a few in California, a few more around New York City, and one in New Mexico. 

Her gig at the St. George Theatre in Staten Island on November 2 was 86'ed first, then her show at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "Ms. Griffin’s recent actions have severely inhibited our ability to fulfill our mission as a non-profit theatre serving the Staten Island community," said the theater.

Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque canceled her show Wednesday and the California venues followed suit. That left Bergen Performing Arts Center in New Jersey as the only surviving gig.

But not anymore. "After very careful consideration, bergenPAC has decided to no longer move forward with the scheduled performance of Kathy Griffin on 11/4/17," they tweeted out over the weekend.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Racial Politics and Millionaire Newsreaders

People |  Multiple sources tell PEOPLE that Hall was equal parts furious, hurt and offended that she was essentially losing her highest profile role to Kelly, with nothing being offered in its place. Hall saw the move as a “demotion” and she wasn’t alone. The National Association of Black Journalists decried NBC’s decision to trade Hall and Roker’s show for the staunch conservative stylings of a high-profile Fox News alum as “whitewashing.” (A rep for the network countered: “NBC News has a long and proven history as an industry leader in newsroom diversity.” The network later agreed to meet with representatives of NABJ to discuss the matter.)

Black Politics and the Democratic Party

Townhall |  Today, Democrats use diplomacy to hoodwink blacks. They tell blacks to be against those -- such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos -- who are for school vouchers that enable black parents to get their children out of rotten schools run by Democrats at the National Education Association. Democrats are using black congressmen to go after Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who is a high-profile conservative, champion of law and order, and supporter of President Donald Trump. They view Clarke as a threat to Democratic Party interests. Indeed, if Democrats lost just 25 percent of the black vote, they would be in deep political trouble.

By the way, none of what I've said should be taken as an argument that blacks should rush to become Republicans. I'd like to see the black community acting the way most Japanese and Chinese communities do -- not getting into a tizzy over which political party is in power.

OY VEY, Diz Schvartze Sees Us Gatekeeping and Controlling Black Politics!!!

alternet |  As the Obama era sputters to an end, new social movements are erupting in rebellion against a bankrupted bipartisan order that has doomed Americans to record levels of economic inequality, warehoused black bodies in a rapidly privatizing prison system, torn thousands of migrant families apart, outsourced unionized jobs to China and spread a dystopian assassination program across the far reaches of the globe. Activists confronting militarization on the US-Mexico border and organizers protesting lethal police violence under the banner of Black Lives Matter are sharing tactics with their counterparts from the Palestinian-led BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement challenging Israeli apartheid on university campuses. The personal and intellectual cross-pollination between these variegated struggles is producing the most exciting surge of grassroots mobilization I have witnessed in my adult life. Not everyone is happy about it, however, and it’s not hard to understand why.

The structure under-girding movements like Black Lives Matter is intentionally non-hierarchical, making them difficult for institutional liberal political entities to co-opt or control. Organizers eschew a programmatic agenda that demands alliances of convenience with entrenched power, resorting instead to divestment drives, civil disobedience and Situationist-style urban disruptions. With their populist sensibility, they are capturing the sense of betrayal that is mounting among millenials, and they show little appetite for electoral contests that fail to answer the crisis. “I decided it is possible I’ll never vote for another American president for as long as I live,” the Ferguson-based rapper and activist Tef Poe has said about his past support for Obama.

Organized with little regard for the imperatives of the Democratic Party, and often aligned against them, the wave of grassroots mobilization is increasingly viewed as a wild beast that must be tamed. The condescending rants delivered against Black Lives Matter activists by Oprah Winfrey and Al Sharpton are salutary examples of the irritation spreading within established Democratic circles.

Few public intellectuals have positioned themselves at the nexus of these emerging movements as firmly Cornel West has. Earlier this month, I joined him on a panel at Princeton University to support a group of students and faculty seeking to pressure the school into divesting from companies involved in human rights abuses in occupied Palestinian territory. His presence boosted the morale of the young student activists who had suddenly fallen under attack by powerful pro-Israel forces. Days later, West joined veteran human rights activist Larry Hamm at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark for a discussion on local efforts against police brutality. It was in places like this, away from the national limelight, where West gathered his vital energy and his righteous anger.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

WTF Kind of Timeline is This?!?!?!

zerohedge |  May 5th - the date the leaked document was allegedly created, detailing what the NSA claims are the results of an investigation into Russian election hacking based on new information received in April. The report is weak sauce - spend 5 minutes and read it... There is zero evidence of Russian hacking or influence - only a thinly supported narrative about an alleged spear phishing campaign and it's potential victims.

On May 9th, four days later - Winner printed, removed, and snail mailed this top secret classified intel which offerings absolutely zero proof to support its claims to The Intercept.
May 30th - The Intercept contacts a 'government agency' to let them know about the documents mailed to them by the rogue NSA contractor.  The online magazine then proceeds to throw Winner under the bus by giving the NSA / FBI information which they used to easily identify her. 

June 4th -  Suddenly retiring rising star family man) Jason Chaffetz says he wants to see leakers 'in handcuffs.'

June 5th - The Intercept publishes a report 'confirming' Russia hacked the election.
* * *
An hour after The Intercept publishes - the FBI arrests Winner

Let's look at what Winner's 'leak' accomplishes:
  • Shifts the 'Russian Hacking' narrative away from the alleged DNC server breach and the report by 'tainted' cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike. It allows the 'deep state' to maintain the assertion that Russia literally 'meddled in the election' with an actual hack via phishing scam.
  • The leak addresses the growing credibility problem with 'anonymous sources.'
  • Conservatives are tearing Reality Winner apart; from her SJW online footprint to her tattoos to her autographed Anderson Cooper photo - the right is showing no mercy, and the MSM will likely spin this as the 'hypocritical and abusive right denigrates Bernie Sanders supporting leaker.'
  • Perhaps by design, Trump supporters may turning Winner a hero to the left - legitimizing her leak in the process.
  • Seth who? Rising nationalism in response to terrorism where?

Remember Boys and Girls - If You Wanna Be a Reality Winner - Don't Be a Technology Loser!

WaPo | Winner was arrested Saturday. When FBI agents questioned her at her home, she admitted “removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet,” court documents read. She remains in jail pending a detention hearing. Her lawyer declined to comment on the charges.

After the charges were announced Monday, some cybersecurity experts remarked on the apparent ease with which investigators were able to trace the leak back to Winner. Some went so far as to say the Intercept had “outed” her by posting copies of the document online. The Intercept said the materials were submitted anonymously.

According to Rob Graham, who writes for the blog Errata Security, the Intercept’s scanned images of the intelligence report contained tracking dots — small, barely visible yellow dots that show “exactly when and where documents, any document, is printed.” Nearly all modern color printers feature such tracking markers, which are used to identify a printer’s serial number and the date and time a page was printed.

“Because the NSA logs all printing jobs on its printers, it can use this to match up precisely who printed the document,” Graham wrote Monday.

Graham’s post gave a step-by-step demonstration of how investigators could have easily done just that. Using a tracking dot decoding tool from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, he said he determined that he document “was from a printer with model number 54, serial number 29535218″ on May 9, 2017, at 6:20 a.m.

“The NSA almost certainly has a record of who used the printer at that time,” Graham wrote.

Others picked up on the same point.

“Just a reminder, colour printers spy on you,” tweeted data analyst Tim Bennett. “This one embedded the exact time a U.S. government employee printed a subsequently leaked doc.”

Speaking of Professional Ass Clowns Reality Winners This Morning

VanityFair |  In a letter to the bank signed by Representative Maxine Waters and four other Democratic members of the committee, the lawmakers write:
“We [are] seeking information relating to two internal reviews reportedly conducted by Deutsche Bank (“Bank”): one regarding its 2011 Russian mirror trading scandal and the other regarding its review of the personal accounts of President Donald Trump and his family members held at the Bank. What is troubling is that the Bank to our knowledge has thus far refused to disclose or publicly comment on the results of either of its internal reviews. As a result, there is no transparency regarding who participated in, or benefited from, the Russian mirror trading scheme that allowed $10 billion to flow out of Russia. Likewise, Congress remains in the dark on whether loans Deutsche Bank made to President Trump were guaranteed by the Russian Government, or were in any way connected to Russia. It is critical that you provide this Committee with the information necessary to assess the scope, findings and conclusions of your internal reviews.
The letter goes on to question why, unlike most other financial institutions who refused to lend money to Trump due to his numerous bankruptcies, “Deustche Bank continued to do so—even after the President sued the bank and defaulted on a prior loan from the bank—to the point where his companies now owe [Deutsche Bank] an estimated $340 million.” It seems like a fair question!
Waters and Co. later cite numerous examples of the bank’s “pattern of regulatory compliance failures and disregard for U.S. law,” which doesn’t seem like the best way to convince a group of people to help you out. And, unfortunately, the request is simply a request—the members can’t compel Deutsche Bank to turn over anything, or even respond with a curt “Got your note, thx.” The committee could subpoena the German lender for the documents, but that would require cooperation from Republican members of the Financial Services Committee. Given that not a single one of them signed it—and that committee chair Jeb Hensarling would lay down in traffic for a financial institution—a team-effort subpoena seems unlikely.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Serious Scholar Clowns 4th Branch Attack on Trump

Slate |  Stephen F. Cohen has long been one of the leading scholars of Russia and the Soviet Union. He wrote a biography of the Bolshevik revolutionary Nikolai Bukharin and is a contributing editor at the Nation, which his wife, Katrina vanden Heuvel, edits and publishes. In recent years, Cohen has emerged as a more ideologically dexterous figure, ripping those he thinks are pursuing a “new Cold War” with Russia and calling for President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to form “an alliance against international terrorism.” Cohen has gone so far as to describe the investigations into the Trump campaign and Russia “the No. 1 threat to the United States today.”

Cohen has been criticized by many people, myself included, for his defenses of Putin. (He once said the Ukraine crisis had been “imposed on [Putin] and he had no choice but to react.”) He scolded President Barack Obama for sending retired gay athletes to Sochi and recently went on Fox News to speak up for Trump’s war against leakers.

I spoke by phone with Cohen, who is also a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at NYU and Princeton and the author of Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed why Cohen won’t concede that the Democratic National Committee was hacked, whether it’s fair to call Putin a murderer, and why we may be entering an era much more dangerous than the Cold War.

Megyn Kelly vs. Vladimir Putin: Teenaged Girl Schooled by Grown-Assed Man

latimes |  On “Sunday Night,” Kelly came out of the gate in a much more forceful manner than she had with Trump, and asked much harder questions. But it was a poorly planned match in which to make an impressive launch for her series. She has to win over a wider audience than she had at Fox, and Putin ranks as one of the world’s toughest interview subjects, a proven master of deception.

The interview took place in St. Petersburg over the weekend, after Kelly had moderated the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, “Putin’s signature event.”

Clips were played from the event that showed Kelly asking Putin in front of 4,000 guests about Russia’s role in the hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Did Russia hack the U.S. election, she asked, pointing out that U.S. intelligence agencies had found ample evidence, “fingerprints,” that it had meddled.

“What fingerprints, hoof prints, horn prints?,” he answered dismissively. “What are you talking about? … It could come from your home IP address, as if your daughter carried out the attack.”

The setup was a recipe for failure, especially for Kelly, who was hired for $15 million to $20 million by NBC last year after leaving Fox News, the conservative news outlet that had launched and propelled her career.

Revolving Doors - Transition Teams - 4th Branch's Attack on Trump

Started Off at Naked Capitalism Revolving Door Continues then fell through the comments to wind up at the more important and illuminating treatment found at The New Republic The Most Important Wikileak Revelation. 

New Republic |  The wing of the Democratic Party concerned about personnel decisions made its opinion known almost two years ago. Dan Geldon, now chief of staff to Senator Elizabeth Warren, met with Dan Schwerin, a top adviser to Clinton’s campaign, in January 2015. According to an email follow-up with Podesta and others, Geldon “was intently focused on personnel issues, laid out a detailed case against the Bob Rubin school of Democratic policy makers.” He was also “very critical of the Obama administration’s choices.”

The “Bob Rubin school” is named for the former top executive at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and first Clinton administration Treasury secretary. It is composed precisely of the kinds of Democrats that the Warren wing opposes on domestic policy, particularly on financial matters. In the Obama administration, that school won out. Froman, chief of staff to Rubin at Treasury, gave options for Treasury secretary that ranged from Rubin himself to Summers and Geithner, two of his key protégés. In another 2008 email Rubin imagined for himself a “Harry Hopkins” position in the Obama administration, referring to Franklin Roosevelt’s top adviser.

The Rubin school dictated the Obama administration’s light-touch policy on bank misconduct (which resulted in no serious legal or fiduciary consequences for the major players) and its first-term approach to the financial crisis (which was defined by a stimulus package that even at the time was criticized for being woefully inadequate, as well as a premature turn to budget-cutting). These are exactly the flaws that Geldon, Warren’s emissary, stressed. According to Schwerin, he “spoke repeatedly about the need to have in place people with ambition and urgency who recognize how much the middle class is hurting and are willing to challenge the financial industry.”

The Rise of Nationalist Populism

wiley |  Brexit and Donald Trump's election victory are symptoms of a new nationalist populism in western Europe and the United States. This political and ideological movement has arisen in reaction to reconfigurations of power, wealth, and identity that are endemic to global neoliberalism. In the United States, however, the media's dominant “blue-collar narrative” about Trump's victory simplifies the relationship between neoliberalism and nationalist populism by ignoring the role of the petty bourgeoisie and the wealthy in Trump's coalition. An anthropology of Trump requires ethnographies of communities largely shunned by anthropologists as well as reflexivity about the unintended role of universities in producing support for Trump.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Unmasking and Leaking Take Center Stage: Prepping For This Morning's Talk Shows

WaPo  |  Every day, U.S. intelligence agencies sweep up vast quantities of foreign communications. Sometimes, they pick up communications involving U.S. individuals or organizations. In reports based on those communications, intelligence agencies “mask” the identities of the Americans, part of an effort to protect their privacy. 

Senior government officials, however, can ask spy agencies to reveal the names of Americans or U.S. organizations in the reports if they believe that doing so will help them better understand the underlying intelligence. They must have a legitimate need to know, and National Security Agency unmaskings are reviewed by the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, known as the ODNI.

Some officials said that House Intelligence Committee members may not have realized spy agencies would count their requests as unmaskings. These officials said lawmakers submitted questions that intelligence officers could answer only by revealing the identities of U.S. individuals. 

Nunes served subpoenas this week to the CIA, the NSA and the FBI asking for information about unmaskings requested by three former officials: national security adviser Susan E. Rice, CIA director John Brennan and U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.

On Thursday, Nunes tweeted, “Seeing a lot of fake news from media elites and others who have no interest in violations of Americans’ civil liberties via unmaskings.”

Democrats on the panel say they believe the latest direction of Nunes’s investigation is designed to deflect attention from the Russia probe. In April, Nunes was forced to recuse himself from the committee’s probe of Russia because of allegations he may have inappropriately disclosed classified information. Nunes has denied any wrongdoing.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials say requests for unmaskings are a routine and necessary part of their national security work. After requests are made, spy agencies decide whether to provide the names. Officials say few requests are rejected because most are legitimate.

Still, senior officials know that unmaskings can be controversial and are often reluctant to submit large numbers of requests. To protect themselves from any allegations of abuse, spy agencies track unmasking requests closely.

Rice and Brennan declined to comment. During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” in April, Rice denied that she sought to improperly unveil the names of Trump campaign or transition officials for political purposes. In recent congressional testimony, Brennan also has denied that he made any improper unmaskings. 

Power did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When You Establish Who Cannot Be Criticized, You Have Established Who Is Your Ruler

Counterpunch |   We may not know all the details yet, but it seems fairly obvious from the amount of leaks from the Trump White House that classified information is being routinely gathered by operatives within the government itself and deliberately leaked to the media in order to inflict maximum damage on the administration. In other words, there are elements operating within the intelligence community that are using their power to incriminate a sitting president and remove him from office. Simply put, the intel agencies have ‘gone rogue’ and now pose a real and present danger to the republic itself.  And while no one really knows how much Obama knew about this massive domestic spying operation that was going on right beneath his nose, we DO know that the collection of information on private citizens greatly accelerated on his watch.  (“Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.”) It’s worth noting, that the ultimate goal of these massive domestic-surveillance programs is to create a lock-down society where the behavior of every citizen can be completely monitored and controlled.

Trump may be a rotten president but, in the big scheme of things, he’s just small potatoes. What we need to know is whether a shadow government –staffed by the intel agents and political meatpuppets– now controls the levers of state power, a hidden government that might be planning to oust the president or –god help us–launch a war on Russia.

The only way to get to the bottom of this is by investigating the man who appears to be at the very center of the action, John Brennan. If anyone knows how the system really works, it’s Brennan.

OY VEY, Diz Schmuck Iz Gonna Let Teh Goyim Know!!!

WaPo |  A racial slur. A homophobic joke. A mock beheading.

Anti-Trump comedians are having a moment — and not the good kind.

Bill Maher used the n-word in a Friday-night interview with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), joining Kathy Griffin and Stephen Colbert on Over-the-Line Mount Rushmore. (There's room for a fourth, and at the rate we're going, it won't be long before another face is chiseled on.)

A conversation between Maher and Sasse about the senator's new book veered wildly off-topic, as these late-night chats tend to do, and arrived at the subject of adults dressing up for Halloween in California.

“We don't do that quite as much,” Sasse said of grown-ups in his home state. That led to this:
MAHER: I've got to get to Nebraska more.
SASSE: You're welcome. We'd love to have you work in the fields with us.
MAHER: Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house n----r.
Visibly uncomfortable, Sasse seemed unsure how to respond and said nothing.

“No, it's a joke,” Maher said, breaking the silence. Some audience members laughed. The interview went on.

Sasse later tweeted that he should have spoken up in protest.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Rising Star A Fitting Epitaph For Rorschachian Hon.Bro.Preznit Obamamandius

Counterpunch |  Garrow’s mammoth biography is a tour de force when it comes to personal critique, professional appraisal, and epic research and documentation. His mastery of the smallest details in Obama’s life and career and his ability to place those facts within a narrative that keeps the reader’s attention (no small feat at 1078 pages!) is remarkable.  Rising Star falls short, however, on ideological appraisal. In early 1996, the brilliant left Black political scientist Adolph Reed, Jr. captured the stark moral and political limits of what would become the state and then national Obama phenomenon and indeed the Obama presidency.  Writing of an unnamed Obama, Reed observed that:
“In Chicago…we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program – the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance.”
Garrow very incompletely quotes Reed’s reflection only to dismiss it as “an academic’s way of calling Barack an Uncle Tom.”  That is an unfortunate judgement. Reed’s assessment was richly born-out by Obama’s subsequent political career.  Like his politcio-ideological soul-brothers Bill Clinton and Tony Blair (and perhaps now Emmanuel Macron), Obama’s public life has been a wretched monument to the dark power of the neoliberal corporate-financial and imperial agendas behind the progressive pretense of façade of telegenic and silver-tongued professional class politicos.

Reed’s prescient verdict more than 12 years before Obama became president brings more insight to the Obama tragedy than Jager’s reflection five years into Obama’s presidency. Obama’s nauseating taste for supposedly (and deceptively) non-ideological “get things done” “pragmatism,” “compromise,” and “playing it safe” – for “accepting the world as it is instead of trying to change it” (Jager) – was not simply or merely a personality quirk or psychological flaw. It was also and far more significantly a longstanding way for “liberal” Democratic presidents and other politicos to appear “tough-minded” and stoutly determined to “getting things done” while they subordinate the fake-populist and progressive-sounding values they mouth to get elected to the harsh “deep state” facts of U.S. ruling class, imperial, and “national security” power. A “pragmatic,” supposedly non-ideological concern for policy effectiveness – “what can be accomplished in the real world” – has long given “liberal” presidents a manly way to justify governing in accord with the wishes of the nation’s ruling class and power elite.

Pearson Giving Obamas $65 Million Payout For Helping Them Leech U.S. Public School Systems

nakedcapitalism |  Seeking to make sense of the $65 million figure, some have pointed to the former President’s prior book sales and Clintonesque celebrity status. Since 2001, 1995’s Dreams from My Father and 2006’s The Audacity of Hope—both of which were published by Crown, a division of Random House (now PRH) owned by the German multimedia conglomerate Bertelsmann—have sold roughly 4.7 million copies, undoubtedly yielding substantial profits.

But according to industry insiders the former First Lady’s contribution is a far greater gamble. And despite the President’s successful publishing record the size of the contract remains something of a mystery. At $20 per book, sales of the two books combined would have to exceed 3.25 million copies to match the cost of the advance, and that doesn’t include necessary overhead such as the costs of materials, distribution, and marketing. As one insider stated, “no one expected it to go this high, [with the books selling for] almost double what we might have imagined…”

At this point, a brief review of the relationship between the Obama administration and the companies behind the deal may shed light on the logic underlying this extraordinary bid.

Since the merger of Penguin and Random House in 2013, PRH has been owned jointly by Bertelsmann and the British education and publishing multinational Pearson, PLC. A leading producer of education and testing materials, Pearson has profited substantially from one of President Obama’s major legislative initiatives—Race to the Top (RTTT).

Much like its Bush-era predecessor, No Child Left Behind, RTTT provides competitive funding to K-12 schools based on a range of criteria intended to stimulate higher teacher and student performance. Among the standards for receiving funding under RTTT is the adoption of Common Core (CC) testing, which, in effect, incentivized school districts to hand federal grant money over to private firms that create CC tests.

Backed by the powerful Gates Foundation and pushed heavily by President Obama and then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, RTTT was met with widespread criticism among parents, teachers, and education scholars for its punitive and test-centric approach to education reform. In July of 2011, outrage over the initiative culminated in a widely publicized march held outside the White House, attendees of which included some of the country’s leading educators, such as Jonathan Kozol and Diane Ravitch.

Despite extensive outcry, including calls for Duncan’s resignation in 2014 from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, two groups that many regard as traditional Democratic constituencies, President Obama continued to voice support for Duncan and RTTT. When Duncan finally resigned in late-2015, Obama praised Duncan’s record, while not-so-subtly infantilizing his critics: “Arne has done more to bring our educational system—sometimes kicking and screaming—into the 21st century than anybody else.”

But if RTTT was a failure in the eyes of the country’s educators, it was a remarkable success for the testing companies. Between 2010, when RTTT first took effect, and 2014 demand for tests in the U.S. grew from $1.6 to $2.5 billion. Few firms benefitted from the rise of standardized testing in the United States as much as Pearson. According to an analysis by CNBC from 2010 to 2014 Pearson received more contracts than any other company in the industry—27 out of 128 in total.

Duterte's Words vs. Clinton's Deeds

HuffPo |  Duterte called his critics “whores” and said Thursday that he was being “sarcastic” when he made the rape comments. His spokesman had said earlier that he was using “heightened bravado” to boost morale among the soldiers who are enforcing newly instituted martial law on Mindinao in a crackdown on Islamic militants.

Duterte directed his fury at Chelsea Clinton. “When your father was screwing Lewinsky and the rest of the young girls there in the office of the president, on the table ... on the sofa, did you raise any” criticism? Duterte asked in a speech Thursday, according to The Associated Press. Chelsea Clinton was a teenager during the Lewinsky scandal in 1998.
The comments were similar to ones Duterte made Wednesday. But some passages were so crude that the words were later muted on a government video of his speech that day, AP reported.
Clinton has not responded on Twitter.
Duterte also accused U.S. soldiers of raping women in the Philippines and Japan. “You Americans, like Chelsea, be careful because you live in a glass house,” he said, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Guess Miss Lindsey Won't Be Trump-Bashing On Sunday Talk Shows Anymore...,

pjmedia |  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Friday that intelligence community sources have told him that he was incidentally surveilled and perhaps unmasked by the Obama administration.

"I have reason to believe that a conversation that I had was picked up with some foreign leader or some foreign person and somebody requested that my conversation be unmasked," Graham told Fox News onFriday.

"All I can say is there are 1,950 collections on American citizens talking to people that were foreign agents being surveilled either by the CIA , the FBI or the NSA," he told Fox News anchor Shannon Bream on "America's Newsroom."

"Here is the concern. Did the people in the Obama administration listen to these conversations -- was there a politicizing of the intelligence gathering processes?" Graham asked. "Of the 1,950 incidental collections on American citizens, how many of them involved presidential candidates, members of Congress from either party -- and if these conversations were unmasked, who made the request?"
Graham’s claim comes less than a month after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee asking if his name “or the names of other members of Congress, or individuals from our staffs or campaigns, were included in queries or searches of databases of the intelligence community, or if their identities were unmasked in any intelligence reports or products.” 
Graham and Paul ran as part of a crowded Republican primary field, with neither managing to win a state and both struggling to garner support.
The South Carolina senator is now keenly interested in everything having to do with unmasking.
"I want to know everything there is about unmasking -- how it works and who requested unmasking in conversations between foreign people and American members of Congress," he said.

He added that he sent a letter to the NSA, FBI, and CIA requesting information regarding any collection pertaining to him.

"Now if you got a reason to believe any member of Congress is committing a crime, then you go get a warrant to follow us around like you would any other citizen," Graham said. "But I meet with foreign leaders all the time and I would be upset if ANY executive branch agency listened in on MY conversations because I'm in another branch of government."

Friday, June 02, 2017

Alien Intelligence: A Both/And Rather Than Either/Or Proposition

MyceliumRunning |  “I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind.
The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.” 
The mycelium is the part of the mushroom you usually do not see.
Most of it is found distributed throughout the soil, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like structures (known as hyphae) which absorb nutrients and decompose organic materials.
The mycelium can be exceedingly small or may form a colony of massive proportions.
Is this the largest organism in the world? This 2,400-acre (9.7 km2) site in eastern Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it.
Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees.
Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions.
- Paul Stamets
Mycelium Running
The mycelium has extraordinary properties suitable for bioremediation.
It is capable of degrading pesticides and plastics, and has been shown to break down petroleum in a matter of weeks:

This, however, is only the physio-chemical dimension of the mycelium.
According to Paul Stamets, it also has information/consciousness associated properties:
“I see the mycelium as the Earth's natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks.
Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape.”
- Paul Stamets
Mycelium Running
The notion that fungi may participate in some form of planetary interspecies communication and/or consciousness through their mycelium may seam a bit 'far out,' but consider that mushrooms have been used to expand consciousness for countless millennia.
Even beyond the well-known psychedelic (literally "soul showing") properties of some species (particularly Lion's Mane) are their neuritogenic properties; that is, their ability to promote new neural cell growth and the enhancement of communication between them. The resemblance between the filamentous structures within the brain (axons; dendrites) and the fungi within the soil (mycelium) may therefore be more than accidental.

Our relationship to fungi is in fact closer than most think.
According to David McLaughlin, professor of plant biology at the University of Minnesota in the College of Biological Sciences, human cells are surprisingly similar to fungal cells.
In a 2006 Science Daily article the topic is explored further:
In 1998 scientists discovered that fungi split from animals about 1.538 billion years ago, whereas plants split from animals about 1.547 billion years ago.
This means fungi split from animals 9 million years after plants did, in which case fungi are actually more closely related to animals than to plants. The fact that fungi had motile cells propelled by flagella that are more like those in animals than those in plants, supports that.
Could this filial bond also be why many species of fungi have such profound medicinal properties in humans?

Alien Intelligence Acts On An Astrophysical Scale |  Perhaps Arthur C. Clarke was being uncharacteristically unambitious. He once pointed out that any sufficiently advanced technology is going to be indistinguishable from magic. If you dropped in on a bunch of Paleolithic farmers with your iPhone and a pair of sneakers, you’d undoubtedly seem pretty magical. But the contrast is only middling: The farmers would still recognize you as basically like them, and before long they’d be taking selfies. But what if life has moved so far on that it doesn’t just appear magical, but appears like physics?

After all, if the cosmos holds other life, and if some of that life has evolved beyond our own waypoints of complexity and technology, we should be considering some very extreme possibilities. Today’s futurists and believers in a machine “singularity” predict that life and its technological baggage might end up so beyond our ken that we wouldn’t even realize we were staring at it. That’s quite a claim, yet it would neatly explain why we have yet to see advanced intelligence in the cosmos around us, despite the sheer number of planets it could have arisen on—the so-called Fermi Paradox.

For example, if machines continue to grow exponentially in speed and sophistication, they will one day be able to decode the staggering complexity of the living world, from its atoms and molecules all the way up to entire planetary biomes. Presumably life doesn’t have to be made of atoms and molecules, but could be assembled from any set of building blocks with the requisite complexity. If so, a civilization could then transcribe itself and its entire physical realm into new forms. Indeed, perhaps our universe is one of the new forms into which some other civilization transcribed its world.

These possibilities might seem wholly untestable, because part of the conceit is that sufficiently advanced life will not just be unrecognizable as such, but will blend completely into the fabric of what we’ve thought of as nature. But viewed through the warped bottom of a beer glass, we can pick out a few cosmic phenomena that—at crazy as it sounds—might fit the requirements.

For example, only about 5 percent of the mass-energy of the universe consists of ordinary matter: the protons, neutrons, and electrons that we’re composed of. A much larger 27 percent is thought to be unseen, still mysterious stuff. Astronomical evidence for this dark, gravitating matter is convincing, albeit still not without question. Vast halos of dark matter seem to lurk around galaxies, providing mass that helps hold things together via gravity. On even larger scales, the web-like topography traced by luminous gas and stars also hints at unseen mass.

Cosmologists usually assume that dark matter has no microstructure. They think it consists of subatomic particles that interact only via gravity and the weak nuclear force and therefore slump into tenuous, featureless swathes. They have arguments to support this point of view, but of course we don’t really know for sure. Some astronomers, noting subtle mismatches between observations and models, have suggested that dark matter has a richer inner life. At least some component may comprise particles that interact with one another via long-range forces. It may seem dark to us, but have its own version of light that our eyes cannot see.

 In that case, dark matter could contain real complexity, and perhaps it is where all technologically advanced life ends up or where most life has always been. What better way to escape the nasty vagaries of supernova and gamma-ray bursts than to adopt a form that is immune to electromagnetic radiation? Upload your world to the huge amount of real estate on the dark side and be done with it.

If you’re a civilization that has learned how to encode living systems in different substrates, all you need to do is build a normal-matter-to-dark-matter data-transfer system: a dark-matter 3D printer. Perhaps the mismatch of astronomical models and observations is evidence not just of self-interacting dark matter, but of dark matter that is being artificially manipulated.

THEY Overcome Space-Time to Get Interstellar Caviar Out Your Booty!!!

cbsnews |   With no formal training in science or engineering, Robert Bigelow created an aerospace company with scientists and engineers that's achieved what no one else in the industry has done. His expandable spacecraft are the first and only alternative to the metal structures that have housed every astronaut in space for over half a century. 

For Bigelow, it all began with growing up in a time of nuclear tests. As a young boy, he would watch the skies over Nevada light up with the bursts of atomic bombs.

Robert Bigelow: Witnessing those explosions in the 50s and 60s, you weren't aware of the ultimate ramifications of those kinds of things but there was a real strong feeling of energy and a secretiveness and so forth and it was cool.

Armstrong: "That's one small step for man…"

Later, he watched Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon, a moment in history he said still inspires him.

Robert Bigelow: The approach wasn't lightening fast…

But on this canyon road just outside Las Vegas, Robert Bigelow's story takes a turn that some may find, to put it lightly, improbable. He told us this is where his grandparents had a close encounter with a UFO.

Robert Bigelow: It really sped up and came right into their face and filled up the entire windshield of the car. And it took off at a right angle and shot off into the distance.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Domestic Terrorism Doesn't Even Require FBI Sponsorship

theintercept |  O Sean Duffy, where art thou?

Back in February, the Republican congressman from Wisconsin told CNN’s Alysyn Camerota that white terrorists of the far-right variety did not pose the same level of danger to Americans as so-called “Islamist” or “jihadist” terrorists. Why? “I don’t know, but I would just tell you there’s a difference,” proclaimed Duffy, who went on to dismiss as a “one-off” the attack on a mosque in Quebec by a Trump-supporting white nationalist, in which six Muslim worshippers were killed.

One-off? Seriously? Has Duffy been reading the news in recent days? On May 20, Richard Collins III, a black, 23-year-old U.S. Army second lieutenant, was murdered while visiting the University of Maryland by a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation.” According to University of Maryland police chief David Mitchell, the group promotes “despicable” prejudice against minorities “and especially African-Americans.”

On May 26, 53-year-old U.S. Army veteran Rick Best and 23-year-old recent university graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche were murdered, while 21-year-old poet Micah David-Cole Fletcher was severely injured, by a knife-wielding white supremacist when the three of them tried to prevent him from harassing a Muslim woman in a headscarf on their commuter train in Portland, Oregon.

Why isn’t Duffy back on CNN decrying the threat posed by such vile domestic terrorists? Why aren’t the Republican political and media establishments loudly alerting voters to the white-skinned far-right menace in their midst?

Bro. Makheru - Big Don Claims Khemit Was White

dailymail |  The first ever full-genome analysis of Ancient Egyptians shows they were more Turkish and European than African.

Scientists analysed ancient DNA from Egyptian mummies dating from 1400 BC to 400 AD and discovered they shared genes with people from the Mediterranean.

They found that ancient Egyptians were closely related to ancient populations in the Levant - now modern day Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon.

They were also genetically similar to Neolithic populations from the Anatolian Peninsula and Europe.
The groundbreaking study used recent advances in DNA sequencing techniques to undertake a closer examination of mummy genetics than ever before.

Rep. Adrian Smith Should Have Gone Old Testament and Answered NO!

WaPo  |  Perhaps the most upsetting headline I saw, though, was generated not by Trump but by a 10-year veteran of the House Republican majority. In an astonishing interview Saturday on NPR, this lawmaker repeatedly demurred when asked whether Americans are entitled to the most basic human need.

NPR’s Scott Simon, a genial interviewer, asked Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee and an influential figure on agriculture policy, about Trump’s proposal to make vast cuts to food stamps. Smith posited that the program could be cut in ways that “do not harm the most vulnerable.”

“Well, let me ask you this bluntly: Is every American entitled to eat?” Simon queried.

Smith was stumped. “Well, they — nutrition, obviously, we know is very important. And I would hope that we can look to — ”

Simon interrupted: “Well, not just important, it’s essential for life. Is every American entitled to eat?”
Smith agreed that nutrition “is essential” but continued to ignore the question about whether Americans are entitled to eat.

Simon tried a third time: “So is every American entitled to eat, and is food stamps something that ought to be that ultimate guarantor?”

Once again, the lawmaker demurred: “I think that we know that, given the necessity of nutrition, there could be a number of ways that we could address that.”

There was more, but it all came down to this: In the United States, in 2017, a powerful member of Congress refuses to grant that Americans should be able to count on eating food.