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Member since: 2001
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The Abyss is Gazing Back

"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster; for if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back into you."

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886

And so it begins.

In this cloven America, both sides have been fighting monsters, gazing into the abyss.

Each side believes the monsters they battle are the real monsters, as opposed to the strawmen and chimeras the other side rages against.

Science validates these monsters. God validates those monsters.

On each side, we swing the mallets of righteous rage and fraught rhetoric against the humanity of those on the other side, seeing them only in the context of the monsters in the abyss.

And we, of course, know we are the ones on the side of Light.

We have been gazing into the abyss for nearly three years, now.

Three years of staring down the monsters of fascism, greed, xenophobia and all forms of hatred.

What monsters have they been staring at, all this while?

I know the words they use to describe the monsters they see.

To me, the words morph into one meta-terror: Fear that every certainty they believed in, every familiar state of being that comforted them and gave them security, is being eaten away from them by the jaws of Change, driven by people Not Like Them.

Now our monsters, our abyss, are gazing back at us, eyes inflamed with that terror.

If we are to interrupt this seeming juggernaut of dissolution and devolution, this death-spiral of differences versus common humanity, what are our options?

To pander to that fear, by holding off with the lancet and the surgeon's knife, is one way of becoming a monster.

To ignore, or worse, to inflame that fear with triumphant claims against its reality and its effects on those so terrorized, that too is a way of becoming a monster.

There are important reasons to sanction, important reasons to let the painful consequences of folly provide learning for the fools. We cannot sweep evil under the rug and move on, in the name of "restoring normalcy" or attempts to create an illusory unity.

But it is also a good time for one more from Nietzsche:

“But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful."

Thus Spake Zarathustra

The challenge is at hand, our choices are to rise to it, or descend.


A very elaborate set-up, meticulously arranged. One small push, and...

I wonder why I thought of this today?


The Ukraine as Stalking Horse

This is not a "new" development.

Former Lt. Colonel Putin of the KGB has a virtually endless playbook to run in maintaining and extending his control over the former Soviet Union.

Round One: Play capitalist to cozen the new class of Russian Oligarchs and either drag them under his thumb or run them out of business and confiscate their assets.

Round Two: Use the money to extend tentacles into foreign economies, and insert pro-Russian, anti-democracy code into their political software.

Round Three: Prepare a stalking horse to continue Round Two when the targets realize Russia is Not Their Good Buddy after all.

Ukraine is the stalking horse. Ukraine has always been a reliable frenemy to Russian oligarchy since the Cossacks allied with the Tsar in the 16th Century. It's a complicated place ethnically, politically, and historically, and has always had pro- and anti- Russian factions in its power structure.

Even after Ukraine declared independence in 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union ratified their status as an independent nation, Russian influence remained strong in the nation's power structure, and the center of political gravity for their region continued to be Moscow.

But Putin allowed them their veneer of independence knowing the value of having a "not Russia" in the region that remained, essentially, a Russian front. For more than a decade the "not Russia" mask was cultivated, allowed, and encouraged.

Even after the post-Orange Revolution chaos revealed the extent of Russian influence in the nation, the appearance of conflict served to continue the "not Russia" illusion while Putin and his local puppets brought the governmental and economic structure ever more firmly under Putin's control.

It is the "not Russia" illusion that allows Ukraine to function as Putin's stalking horse.

America's current issues are with "not Russia", you see? They're with Ukraine!

Putin's hands are clean!

Don't believe it.

This is Putin's KGB, pardon me, "the GRU" running the long-range playbook through multiple iterations of Round Three.

One of the purposes of Round Three is to degrade the intelligence and counter-intelligence infrastructures of its targets (Western democracies) in order to keep them from either effectively countering Round Three or preparing for Round Four.

And they are succeeding magnificently using their current puppet regime in the United States.


He dreams the dream of the proud...

Trump says homelessness hurting real estate prestige, will destroy cities

The homeless are living in "our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to building," Trump said.

For the Invisibles:

"On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand

"Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away"

It's a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it's shroud
Over all we have known

Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone
In the dream of the proud

On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord

Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night

No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside

Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?

Is it only a dream that there'll be no more turning away...?


How to remove Brett Kavanaugh without impeaching him

An excellent explainer from Vox:

The paper, “How To Remove a Federal Judge” by law professors Saikrishna Prakash and Steven D. Smith, lays out a road map for, well, how to remove a federal judge without resorting to the impeachment power. It argues that a provision of the Constitution stating that federal judges and justices “shall hold their offices during good behaviour” is widely misunderstood.


Barring a historic political realignment, in other words, there is virtually no chance that there will ever be 67 senators who will vote to remove Kavanaugh. But, if Prakash and Smith are right about the Constitution’s good behavior clause, there won’t necessarily have to be.


They quote future President John Adams, who said in a debate with a contemporary that a judge serving during good behavior may be removed after a “hearing and trial, and an opportunity to defend himself before a fuller board, knowing his accuser and accusation.” And, in what is probably their single most persuasive piece of evidence, they quote a 1790 act of Congress providing that judges convicted of taking bribes ”shall forever be disqualified to hold any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States,” even though no impeachment may have occurred.


Suppose that prosecutors showed that a justice perjured himself at his confirmation hearing — a crime that is, admittedly, very difficult to prove — and he is sentenced to some amount of time in prison. If he can only be removed via the impeachment process, that would mean that he would still be a member of the Supreme Court even as he serves out his sentence.

It's an interesting argument and one that, if Democrats decide cleaning up the judiciary is a worthy goal, could facilitate that process - over the long haul.

None of this is a quick fix.

The quickest fix I can think of is for the new Democratic President to decide that the Supreme Court needs only SEVEN justices to undertake its Constitutional responsibilities, and gets the support of Congress to reduce the number to seven.

Last added, first removed.

There are some excellent arguments to be advanced in favor of reducing the size of the Supreme Court- much more logical and adminstratively, legally and even judicially defensible than increasing the size of the Court.

Either way, making symbolic attempts to impeach an official who will not then be removed from office has its appeal- I'm fully aware of the power behind the argument that the process itself may tip a balance in favor of having enough of his colleagues decline to defend him, remove their support from him, and possibly negotiate a resignation by him. And the moral power of doing the right thing even if the net effect is zero.

But the judiciary, like the electoral process, has been seriously degraded, corrupted, and disorganized by the GOP. Cleaning it up system-wide is just as important a goal as cleaning up the electoral process.


No, it's NOT "just a stupid thing with a Sharpie"... and this is why:

Does anyone else remember last year's false missile alert in Hawaii?

For about half an hour, residents of Hawaii lived with the terror of believing ballistic missiles were headed their way. Motorists sought shelter in highway tunnels. Schools evacuated to shelters. The 9-1-1 system broke down in many areas from the call volumes. At least one heart attack was attributed to the incident.

NORAD issued a statement saying they saw no threat, but were investigating. US Pacific Command confirmed there was no threat. Hawaii's Congressional delgation demanded accountability.

Then the White House got into the action. A certain individual who shall be known as President Windrip loudly announced "They made a mistake." Various cabinet members called for investigations. Blame was suddenly flying thicker than oobleck.

Ultimately, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee responsible for the false alert lost their job. And the head of the HI-EMA resigned. The FCC made changes to the Emergency Alert System protocols to prevent such a thing ever happening again.

So that's how THAT incident of an irresponsible public source releasing false disaster alerts was handled.

Which seems a bit more methodical, mature, and productive than a bunch of media laffing it up about Sharpie memes. (Fair disclosure: Yes, I laughed. Quite a lot, actually. But that's not the point, and it shouldn't be.)

From the government itself? The response has been less than impressive, to say the least.

Something's wrong here.

Not that we didn't already know that.

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