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Greg Spooner
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Are you surprised by the rise of Trump? I'm not. Since September 12, 2001, it has been clear to me exactly how quickly many of my fellow citizens could be provoked into fearfulness, nationalism, xenophobia, anger, racism, jingoism, authoritarianism, martialism and war.

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Both ends of the political spectrum feature personalities who are righteously angry and who indulge in demonization that extends into conspiracy territory.  I have elsewhere dealt with left wing fantasies, like “Loose Change” mania about the 9/11 attacks.  But I spend less time there because (1) a very small number of their paranoid ravings do have some basis in fact… and (2) because the far-wingnuts of the left have almost zero power at national or state levels of the Democratic Party.
In sharp contrast, the litany of stunning, schizo-level conspiracies credited on the American right, by majorities of GOP voters, as well as most candidates and media pundits, is simply appalling.  From “birthers” who have never come up with even a hypothesis why Ann Dunham would have traveled (without leaving a trace) to Kenya to give birth, while her parents conspired to put a false birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser….  
… to ACORN, Benghazi and Planned Parenthood… all the way back to Bircher screeches about flouridation, DDT and Dwight Eisenhower being an agent of the Kremlin.  This article – while one-sided – gives an excellent run-down on a frenzied history of what, alas, is often the conservative mainstream. 
Which I deem a tragedy!  Indeed, there are versions of American conservatism that very much belong at the negotiating table of U.S. political process, as we try to find ethical and practical ways to make a better society for all.  I know some conservatives who are right as often as anyone I know… except for their myopia on one issue. Despite having all withdrawn in disgust from the Republican Party, most refuse to admit just how crazy the undead elephant has become.
This article is, as I said, somewhat biased. Its excoriation of NAFTA, for example, leaves out the way NAFTA has bootstrapped Mexico toward a rapidly enlarging urban middle class, which ought to be the number one U.S. foreign policy objective, for a myriad overwhelming reasons.  Strangely, the very worst rightwing nut-theories are left out… e.g. the long chain of pyrotechnic campaigns against science, from “cars don’t cause smog” and “tobacco is wholesome” all the way to climate denialism. That reflex to obey oligarchs seeking short term profit has led and will lead directly to millions upon millions of deaths.  The GOP’s deliberate sabotaging of science R&D, including banishment of OTA and its own scientific advisory apparatus in Congress, can only be explained either by insanity or else outright treason.
Read it. Still, you’ll come away stunned and appalled… and better armed to deal with your crazy uncle.

John Ellis Bush (JEB) is now reversing himself and saying that if he knew at the time of the invasion what we know now, he would not have gone to war with Iraq.  That puts him in line with the majority of American opinion (now).  

But this isn't anything special.  Don't forget that at the time of the invasion in 2003, 72% of polled Americans supported the invasion of Iraq. Most Americans and most American leaders wanted war back then.

What I'd like a candidate to say today is that (s)he would not have gone to war with Iraq in 2003, even knowing what our leaders thought they knew in 2003.  That is the courageous, the international law-respecting, and the morally correct, position to hold on the Iraq War.

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Reading this NYTimes article, it was all I could do not to choke and sputter.  --  “After years of sparring with the White House, Republicans are eager to demonstrate productivity and some level of bipartisan ­cooperation with Obama and the Democrats…. “On the things where we agree, the goal will be to make a law, not just put something on [Obama’s] desk,” incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.”

“We will see if there is an opportunity for a fourth quarter for President Obama that actually moves the country in the direct we’d like to go,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who also will be responsible for helping reelect GOP senators in 2016.
“Reagan did it a generation ago working with Democrats. Clinton did it almost two decades ago with welfare reform and deficit reduction,” he said. “So it can be done — if the president is disposed to move in that direction.”

Ummmmmmm.... say what????  Those who expect anything at all from a republican run Congress have to face realities like the Hastert Rule, which has been openly declared for 20 years, that any Republican office holder who tries to actually negotiate with their opponents is to be punished.

Newt Gingrich tried it. Just one year since 1945 has a republican Congress actually negotiated with and compromised with a democratic president... the anno mirabilis or miracle year 1995, when Newt and Clinton got us both the wildly successful Welfare Reform bill and the Budget Act that wrought major surpluses. Newt's reward from his own party? Savage slander by Fox and then ejection by Hastert, DeLay, Boehner and the rest of the new wave of murdochian republican leaders.

It has never ever happened again. President Obama has been filibustered and had more appointments blocked than in the entire rest of the history of the US combined. Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives since 1998 -- except for the two Pelosi years -- has been the laziest in US history, holding the fewest hearings and introducing the fewest bills since 1792. Other than a pipeline to let Canadian oil moguls skip their oil over US territory to send it to China, can you name ONE other assertive, positive GOP goal? One?

It is not the same the other way. Democratic Congresses do fight with GOP presidents, but always aiming at resolution. They do not freeze the government. Scalia and Thomas, two of the most pro-feudalism judges in history, got passed. Always, GOP presidents -- even despised ones like GW Bush -- get a lot of what they asked for. Because they... were... the ... president.

But the Confederacy has never thought that way, ever since it flounced off in fury that Lincoln had been elected.  Expect more of the same as the GOP holds both houses. Watch and see if they actually act on anything POSITIVE, instead of simply railing negatives.

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Climate change is a challenge big enough to humble even Google. But these well-intentioned engineers still place too much faith in tech and not enough in social and political movements. They dismiss the most straightforward approach to making clean energy practical: making dirty energy expensive.

In other words:
Carbon tax. Now. 
Ross Koningstein and David Fork are engineers at Google, who worked together on the bold renewable energy initiative known as RE<C, Google’s ambitious aim to generate new technologies that would boost sustainable energy around the world.  At one level, this effort, not just by Google, but by 100+ groups worldwide, has been a success — solar, wind and other sustainables are nearing breakeven faster than anyone - even optimists - imagined, while overcoming sabotage and resistance by a political movement financed by coal barons and petro-sheiks.
..... And yet…

…in this article, Koningstein & Fork admit failure!  Because even these rapid advances will not remove enough CO2 from the emission stream, across the next forty years, to prevent truly major disruptions in weather and climate. They remain, hopeful and busy fellows. But this article is a splash of cold water in the face of any pollyannas out there, who think all we have to do is get solar on every roof.

We need the can-do spirit.  But even more than that…

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Whether your reflexes are "left" or "right," you should be disturbed by the picture painted here, and willing to ponder it.  You conservatives, when do you picture the ideal hey-day of capitalism that delivers for everyone? The fifties and sixties?  Certainly our parents in the Greatest Generation delivered one thing - a stunningly rapid rate of middle class growth, a burst of wealth and education that their children then used, to break old habits like racism, sexism etc.  The left is insane to ignore that it was wealth and middle class well-being that fostered those reforms...  
...but the right is even crazier, to ignore cause and effect -- that capitalism was at its flattest, healthiest, fairest and most productive under regulatory and tax regimes instituted by the Greatest Generation's favorite person, the man they adored above all others, but whom Fox and its Murdochian-Saudi owners want you to envision as Satan.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In contrast, for close to thirty years Republicans have told us..."Tax-break gifts to the rich will make EVERYONE rich and erase government deficits!"  Supply Side Voodoo Economics (SSVE) has been tried over and over, and not ONE prediction ever came nd did  I mention not ever?  Scientists know what to make of such a theory... which is why the Right now wages war on science.
You liberals, use this.  Hammer it. Flat-open-fair capitalism is one of the main VICTIMS of the current oligarchic putsch.  Study Adam Smith, who founded liberalism AND libertarianism. And stop listening to your mad leftist allies.  FDR saved us from both insanities, communism and fascism. Focus on him and on Smith, and you can demolish the Fox-oligarch bullshit mountain.

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Let us go to the stars...
What is happening?  Suddenly, there’s been a wave of … inspiration! As if in tempo with Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR, there have also been several short movies that aggressively confront and take down the cynical theme that’s dominated this dismal century (so far). The way so many of YOU have given in to the seductive propaganda of limitations and despair. These wondrous pieces fight back by offering us visions of wondrous possibility.

First… try on this spectacular ode to courage – and our outward spirit – is by Max Shishkin, using the Interstellar score as background, taking us on a tour of vivid SF cinema images of space.

Even better is one off the best things I have ever watched, period. Invest four minutes! Scenes all taken (or extrapolated) from reality*, not sci fi!  This is what being human must be about... or else, why bother?

(* Almost all of the places depicted here are real. Many of them extrapolated from photos taken already by our robot emissaries. “We” have already been to these wondrous spots. We are already titans!  On our way to unimaginable greatness. (Though I will keep trying to imagine.))

Coda: I’ve oft said that centuries tend to change direction dramatically, in their fourteenth year.  Could this be our sudden veer?  Backing away from the cliffs of cynical despair and getting back on trajectory toward confidence and daring and wonder?

Make it so.

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Nixon's southern strategy flip is now complete. The Democratic party has no place in its old home, the Confederacy, which is now the seat of 2/3 of the Republican Party. Note the utter and dogmatic purity. Anyone who any longer denies that we are in a phase of re-ignited Civil War... deliberately sparked and fueled (as it was in 1861) by oligarch funded propaganda... is either a fool or part of the rebellion.

Blue America, source of all the wealth and creativity and every wholesome trend (and I include the islands across red states that have been gerrymandered into having no say in those states - our enlightened and enslaved brethren), need to wake up and deal with it. This is not the GOP or any other rationalization.  It is the Confederacy, risen to try yet again to destroy the dream.

Learn the Battle Hymn of the Republic, boys and girls.  The new words. If we lose, humanity will not go to the stars.

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The moneyed right is only interested in power and winning. 
This dirty tricks tradition goes back to Nixon's plumbers.  It has recurred in every single GOP regime and is part and parcel of the belief that they can only win by cheating.  Voter suppression, gerrymandering and a myriad other tricks. Like the fact that all three voting machine manufacturing companies are owned by former radical republican operatives.  Is there ANY level where all of this... plus the war on science and the unalloyedly wretched OUTCOMES from every tenure of GOP rule... will persuade you conservatives that it is time to rebel, and take your movement back from hijackers and monsters?  If you do not, then when the inevitable "roosevelt" era comes, conservatism may have no sane core to re-grow from.

"If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded."
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