Saturday, January 23, 2016

You Say You Wanna Revolution? Scientists Force Koch to Resign from Museum Board of Natural History  (Woody Guthrie Did Not Like Trump's Racist Father?)  The Smoking Gun  (Brother David Sister-Gal Brooks Cries About No Repentance)  Leo! Hero!

Friends, go get Jonathan Tasini's book, The Essential Bernie Sanders and his Vision for America. You won't regret it (a terrific discussion about it (and him) with Thom Hartmann can be found at

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So, is this the first shot in the Revolution? Or was it Bernie's constantly increasing flock of backers and their millions of contributions that has scared them into action?

Lots of interesting events starting to happen.

But are they real or are they Memorex?

Koch Brother Resigns From Museum Board After Calls From Scientists

By Katie Herzog, Grist
22 January 16
or 23 years, David Koch, the billionaire industrialist who made a fortune off fossil fuels, ranching, fertilizers, and other environmental nightmares, has served on the board at the American Museum of Natural History. Koch’s position on the board is controversial, not least because of his position on climate change: The Koch family has spent millions funding climate change denier groups and disinformation campaigns, and scientists around the country have called for Koch to be removed from the museum board. Well, they finally got what they wanted — the American Museum of Natural History announced Koch’s resignation this week.
A museum spokeswoman said Koch’s departure is unrelated to the calls for his dismissal, but, as "The New York Times" reports, a letter sent to museums of science and history last year and signed by dozens of scientists stated:

David Koch is a major donor, exhibit sponsor and trustee on the Board of Directors at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and the American Museum of Natural History. David Koch’s oil and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Mr. Koch also funds a large network of climate-change-denying organizations, spending over $67 million since 1997 to fund groups denying climate change science.

When some of the biggest contributors to climate change and funders of misinformation on climate science sponsor exhibitions in museums of science and natural history, they undermine public confidence in the validity of the institutions responsible for transmitting scientific knowledge. This corporate philanthropy comes at too high a cost.
Drawing on both our scientific expertise and personal care for our planet and people, we believe that the only ethical way forward for our museums is to cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science obfuscation.
The letter was signed by prominent climate scientists James Hansen and Michael Mann, among others. The Natural History Museum, the organization that sponsored the letter, noted that Koch’s reaction was swift:  Within 24 hours, “a lawyer with apparent ties to the Koch brothers filed OPRA requests (similar to FOIA) at public universities where several scientists who signed the letter are employed,” wrote the Natural History Museum’s Beka Economopoulos in a press release. “The requests called on the universities to turn over all emails in the scientists’ accounts with ‘Koch’ in the subject or body.”

The American Museum of Natural History isn’t the only museum with ties to the Kochs:  David Koch also sits on the advisory board of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History — and he apparently holds a lot of sway. "ThinkProgress" reported last year about a Smithsonian exhibit that “thoroughly whitewashes the dangers of modern-day climate change.” The exhibit was made possible by a $15 million grant from none other than David Koch.
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Woody Guthrie Really Did Not Like Donald Trump’s Racist Dad

Woody Guthrie:  Not a Fred Trump fan (AP Photo)

Guthrie’s two-year tenancy in one of Fred Trump’s buildings and his relationship with the real estate mogul of New York’s outer boroughs produced some of Guthrie’s most bitter writings, which I discovered on a recent trip to the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa. These writings have never before been published; they should be, for they clearly pit America’s national balladeer against the racist foundations of the Trump real estate empire.

Recalling these foundations becomes all the more relevant in the wake of the racially charged proclamations of Donald Trump, who last year announced, “My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.”
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David Brooks, spokesperson for the puzzled-at-the-damage-they've-done-and-now-wish-they-could-make-up-or-escape-quickly-with-a-fond-farewell-before-their-victims-start-to-eat-them-alive 1% has come up with a new ploy for his well-planned, pleading-innocent-as-he-bows-out too clever by half escape.

He's with us now.

Lonely-hearts reactionary David Brooks, writing this week in the New York Times, describes the angst and despair of the old Republican leadership, as it watches the Trump/Cruz nativist revolution:
"Members of the Republican governing class are like cowering freshmen at halftime of a high school football game. Some are part of the Surrender Caucus, sitting sullenly on their stools resigned to the likelihood that their team is going to get crushed. Some are thinking of jumping ship to the Trump campaign… 
"Rarely has a party so passively accepted its own self-destruction."

Farther down in his piece, Brooks trumpets a call to action, wondering why his beloved party can't instantly rally voters to its cause the way just about everyone else seems able to these days:

"If MoveOn can organize, if the Tea Party can organize, if Justin Bieber can build a gigantic social media movement, why are you incapable of any collective action at all?

"What's needed is a grass-roots movement that stands for governing conservatism, built both online and through rallies, and gets behind a single candidate sometime in mid- to late February."

Brooks went on to timidly propose that that the party recognize that modern Republican voters are in a state of "trauma" and "want a government that will help the little guy."

He wondered if maybe the party leaders, in an effort to reverse their stunning fall from influence, might "actually provide concrete policy ideas to help the working class."

For most of the last four decades, the Republican Party worked pretty much exclusively for weenie aristocrats like Brooks, a tiny collection of entitled bosses whose idea of good government was income-tax cuts, deregulated workplaces and slackened obligations to the rabble.

To get what they wanted, they spent a generation whipping what Brooks calls "less-educated voters" into lathers over moronic controversies involving everything from Terri Schiavo's feeding tube to the New Black Panthers to the arrest of Kim Davis.

Those low-information voters never got "Roe v. Wade" repealed by their Republican leaders, never got zero-tolerance immigration policies (hell, Obama deported way more undocumented immigrants than Bush ever did), never got prayer in school or any of the other things they desperately wanted.

But they did get lower income taxes for David Brooks, a carried interest exemption for Mitt Romney, and a tax-repatriation holiday for Carly Fiorina's Hewlett-Packard and other mega-firms.

None of these policies helped the bulk of the population much, but they were great for the 17 people they were actually designed to benefit.

For instance, the "less-educated voter" got less than jack for that 2004 tax repatriation holiday.

In fact, the 15 biggest beneficiaries of the holiday laid off tens of thousands of jobs collectively after getting a big fat free pass from Uncle Sam.

The hilarious part about the Brooks column is the wounded, incredulous tone.

Where, he asks, is the love?

You know, like the old days, when the hick mega-churcher and the Upper East Side Yalie were joined at the hip for the cause of a sharply-reduced top income tax rate!

"There's a silent majority of hopeful, practical, programmatic Republicans. You know who you are," Brooks bleats. "Please don't go quietly and pathetically into the night."

Back in the old days, when the Republican Party could count on the support of "less-educated voters" without having to actually give them anything, what we got all the time from people like Brooks were fatuous bromides about how anyone who was struggling lacked a work ethic and an appreciation of family structure.

Government aid of any kind to help people out of economic hard times he always ripped as counterproductive and morally corrupting.

But now that he's being crapped on by a new movement of independent-minded, rebellious nativists who have no use for a moralizing, polysyllabic New Yorker like himself – now that he can hear the sharpening of the guillotines – suddenly Brooks is all in favor of government policies to help the "working class," a group of people he's presumably never met.

"Years ago," he writes, "reform conservatives were proposing a Sam's Club Republicanism, which would actually provide concrete policy ideas to help the working class, like wage subsidies, a higher earned-Income tax credit, increased child tax credits, subsidies for people who wanted to move in search of work."

He goes on:  "This would be a conservatism that emphasized social mobility at the bottom, not cutting taxes at the top."

This is the author of aristocrat fan fiction classics like Bobos in Paradise suddenly advocating government policies to stimulate "social mobility at the bottom."

Could this election season get any weirder?
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From the people (via BLCKDGRD):

  • On Trump's supporters:  There are a number of Americans who are losers from a process of economic globalization that enriches a transnational global elite. These Middle Americans see jobs disappearing to Asia and increased competition from immigrants. Most of them feel threatened by cultural liberalism, at least the type that sees Middle Americans as loathsome white bigots. But they are also threatened by conservatives who would take away their Medicare, hand their Social Security earnings to fund-managers in Connecticut, and cut off their unemployment too.... What so frightens the conservative movement about Trump's success is that he reveals just how thin the support for their ideas really is. His campaign is a rebuke to their institutions. It says the Republican Party doesn't need all these think tanks, all this supposed policy expertise. It says look at these people calling themselves libertarians and conservatives, the ones in tassel-loafers and bow ties. Have they made you more free? Have their endless policy papers and studies and books conserved anything for you? These people are worthless. They are defunct. You don't need them, and you're better off without them.
  • Same colleague yesterday as last time I did this gag on our conversation back in November or December: Trump Cruz Trump Cruz Trump Cruz. Me in response: _____________.
  • Because I'm not going to change her mind, and she is not going to change mine.
  • Though my mind is changing - I understand the Trump phenomenon is more than a fuck you; it's still a fuck you, but a deeper, more complex, and more valid fuck you than I credited.
  • How I haven't changed my mind: The Democrats answer is..... Hillary Clinton... and fuck you, Democrats.
  • Because none of this is by accident, as in, Oligarchs may not be able to predict the particulars of public reaction to imposed precarity, but the precarity was imposed by design.
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January 21, 2016

The Smoking Gun?

By Anthony DeChristopher
Special Access Programs (SAP) is a game changer. It is now undeniably clear that the results of the FBI investigation will be the end of one of two things:  Hillary’s bid for the White House or the legitimacy of the FBI—at least when it comes to prosecuting cases on the mishandling of classified material. In 2006, a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) from my company was deployed to Afghanistan.  Theirs was a particular mission that differed from the combat missions the typical ODAs were conducting at that time.  Everyone on that team maintained a Top Secret Sensitive and Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) clearance and was “read-on” to their special program.  A few months into their deployment, their Intelligence Sergeant lost a thumb-drive that possessed classified information.  A week later the thumb drive was found for sale at a local bazaar. In response to the events, Col. Ken Allard (ret.) stated, “You've got a situation in which the U.S. is going to be forced to change an awful lot of its operational techniques." Beyond the compromise of classified information, a lot did change.  New protocols for the handling of classified material were established, and the transportation of classified material on thumb drives was strictly forbidden.  The knee jerk reaction even went as far as to disable USB ports on our work computers—in case we forgot. Since then I’ve deployed to several locations where, at times, we operated in small teams with only non-secure cellphones with which to communicate.  We often found ourselves with a lot of information that needed to be sent up in reports, but due to the nature of our mission we were forced to sit on it for a few days until we were able to type it up and send it through a secure medium.  I’d be lying if I said we didn’t concoct elaborate plans with “foolproof” ways to communicate the information over non-secure channels, but in the end, no one was willing to take the risk of our “fail-safes” failing. As more information from Hillary Clinton’s server has been made available, it is clear that the contents of the server contained Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Human Intelligence (HUMINT), and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT).  Understanding that much of the information has been retroactively classified, there are a few facts that are tough to grasp—at least from the perspective of an intelligence practitioner. First, when imagery that is classified SECRET//NOFORN (no foreign national) is viewed, regardless of the absence of classification markings, it is distinctly evident. Second, any documents that contain or reference HUMINT is always classified SECRET, and if specific names of sourcesor handlers are mentioned, they are at a minimum SECRET//NOFORN.  Third, SIGINT is always classified at the TS level.  It’s not uncommon for some SI to be downgraded and shared over SECRET mediums, however, it is highly unlikely that a Secretary of State would receive downgraded intelligence. Finally, SAP intelligence has been discovered on Clinton’s private server, and many are now calling this the smoking gun.  SAP is a specialized management system of additional security controls designed to protect SAR or Special Access Required.  SAR has to do with extremely perishable operational methods and capabilities, and only selected individuals who are “read on” or “indoctrinated” are permitted access to these programs.  The mishandling of SAP can cause catastrophic damage to current collection methods, techniques and personnel. In other words, if you have worked with classified material for more than a day, it seems highly implausible that someone could receive any of the aforementioned over an un-secure medium without alarm bells sounding.  However, reading about a Special Access Program on an unclassified device would make anyone even remotely familiar with intelligence mess their pantsuit. With more damning information being released almost weekly now, it’s interesting that during last Sunday’s Democratic debate, Clinton resoundingly stated:  “No one is too big for jail.” Although the context was referencing bank CEOs and Hedge fund managers, the obvious correlation left many scratching their heads and wondering—did Hillary Clinton just say, “I dare you” to the FBI?” (DeChristopher is a 9-year veteran of the United States Army Special Forces. He holds an M.A. in Strategic Security Studies from National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs with a concentration in Irregular Warfare.  He currently works as an Independent Intelligence Consultant and blogs at  Follow @exceptionism.)

Leo! Our savior?

Nothing makes us swoon like a lionhearted climate change warrior. So today’s climate crush should come as no surprise: Leonardo DiCaprio, the celebrity face of fixing our planet. Tuesday, DiCaprio received yet another award — where does he keep all 100 million of them, an award room? — and pledged $15 million to environmental groups. The award was for his leadership in confronting the climate crisis and was presented at the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Awards in Davos, Switzerland.

Mashable breaks down where his donations are going:
Our dauntless dreamboat’s acceptance speech focused on real environmental issues (unlike certain political figures we’ve heard from recently) and included a dig at the fossil fuel industry. “We simply cannot afford to allow the corporate greed of the coal, oil, and gas industries to determine the future of humanity,” DiCaprio said. “Twenty years ago, we described this problem as an addiction,” he continued. “Today, we possess the means to end this reliance.”

So, let's get started.

We've got a huge task before us!