Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Mao Tse-Tung Quotation

Many things may become baggage, may become encumbrances if we cling to them blindly and uncritically. Let us take some illustrations. Having made mistakes, you may feel that, come what may, you are saddled with them and so become dispirited; if you have not made mistakes, you may feel that you are free from error and so become conceited. Lack of achievement in work may breed pessimism and depression, while achievement may breed pride and arrogance. A comrade with a short record of struggle may shirk responsibility on this account, while a veteran may become opinionated because of his long record of struggle. Worker and peasant comrades, because of pride in their class origin, may look down upon intellectuals, while intellectuals, because they have a certain amount of knowledge, may look down upon worker and peasant comrades. Any specialized skill may be capitalized on and so may lead to arrogance and contempt of others. Even one's age may become ground for conceit. The young, because they are bright and capable, may look down upon the old; and the old, because they are rich in experience, may look down upon the young. All such things become encumbrances or baggage if there is no critical awareness.

—"Our Study and the Current Situation" (April 12, 1944), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 173 (from Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1966)

Friday, September 02, 2016

A comment about a comment about Trump supporters

A friend writes:

This vile comment from Nancy in Corinth, Kentucky: a real mental giant and portrait of human compassion: managing in every single sentence to lie, distort, sneer, caricature and demean; she is the very face of the Clintonian Democrats. This irresponsible nonstop hate-fest from the Democrats is a real phenomenon which may be studied in years to come; they are infected by an ugly mass hysteria, a cult, so many comments deeply unhinged and it's the same thing day after day – they have become creepily threatening and have been so since Bernie came on the scene to challenge their gruesome idol. Charles Blow has written his daily "be afraid!" column on how evil Trump is, as if we didn't already get his boring one-note message about 500 columns ago. He goes on about how Trump is a bully, yet it's the Dems who are the raging bullies. It's like the Salem witch trials. The Dems are fatally infected with an illusion of their own superiority ("how DARE they accuse us of elitism; we can't help it if we're just better than they are!"), spitting on anyone who refuses to go along with their stunted neoliberal/neocon visions, and openly reviling those they consider beneath them, namely, white poor rural southern people and, weirdly, those without a college degree, since their so-worshiped college degrees did not impart the ability to think critically; to discern truth from propaganda.

Just as Reagan made unfettered Darwinian greed acceptable, the spineless Dems have made self-serving peace with that, and now tout their own raging classism, racism, McCarthyism, and war-loving jingoism as de rigueur. Will they, when Clinton is "elected" and predictably makes a massive, terrifying mess of everything, look back at their bloody feeding frenzy in shame, or have they always longed to tear off the mask and just come out of the closet as the fascists they really are? Outrageously elitist comments are coming along fast and furious on the pages of The Times, and have been for months on end. These prissy, pushy Dems are unwittingly offering their own smug throats to be slit, with their relentless taunting, stereotyping, and shaming of millions of their fellow Americans. You can only push people so far, and these types like ole Nancy in Kentucky are so delusional, and brainwashed, they can't see what's coming down the road. If Clinton is pushed onto the throne, the peasants they so look down upon aren't just going to disappear; they are going to be very, very angry.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Vermont Health Connect: “Current wait times are 90 minutes”

We have had working health insurance coverage for the past couple of years (unlike in 2014), but now we have moved and need to change the billing address.

I go to the Vermont Health Connect web site and click "Report a Life Change" to learn: "These changes should be reported by calling Vermont Health Connect toll-free at 1-855-899-9600 or by logging into your account and reporting your change online." I log in with the result: "An unexpected error occurred. Please contact an administrator." And "Contact Us: Have questions or want to find out more? Tel: (855) 899-9600."

I call. I wait. I give up. I call again a couple days later, wait, give up. I call again and add my number to a queue to be called back "within 3 business days". [Update:  One week later, no callback.]

[Update, Sept. 12:  Two weeks later, no callback. The web site now says that one can report "life changes" on line. So I logged in to my account (trying Opera after receiving the message that "There was some technical error processing your request" in Firefox, and then in Opera being forced to reset the password), got to the irritating terms page, and clicked "Next" — to receive the message that "An unexpected error occurred. Please contact an administrator." Called: "Estimated wait time is greater than 90 minutes." Left another request for callback (an option that is offered only after a couple minutes of waiting).]

[Update, Sept. 23:  They called back! But we were out. That was on Sept. 15. Nothing since. Governor Shumlin defended the whole mess yesterday: "nearly 9 in 10 customers seeking to report a life change 'experience a smooth process,' he said." So I went on line again to report my change of address, and now I couldn't even log in. So I called again (to set up another callback). One of Shumlin's improvements appears to have been to no longer provide an estimated wait time, and after a few minutes there was no longer an option to request a callback. I was planning to wait 5 minutes, and just before that cut-off, someone answered! They have our new address!]

Meanwhile, this month's premium invoice was sent to our old address and instead of being forwarded to us by the Post Office it was returned to Vermont Health Connect who then sent it to our new address with a note about changing the address. We at last received it 1 day before payment was due.

So I called the telephone number provided with the invoice for credit/debit card payment. I should not have been surprised to learn that here, too, "current wait times are 90 minutes".

So I will send the premium payment by mail, trust the assurances from last year that there is a 90-day grace period before coverage is cancelled and current implications that a change of address does not require a complete new application. One also hopes that the address change manages to be made before next month's premium invoice goes out.

Again, before the "Affordable Care Act", so-called Obamacare, Vermont had an excellent functioning state-run health insurance program that through an income-based range of premiums provided near-universal coverage. It wasn't perfect, but it was a system that made living in Vermont very worthwhile. To improve on it, the state had long pursued a true universal single-payer system, electing Peter Shumlin as Governor in 2006 on the promise to implement it. Because of Shumlin's belief, however, that people could not handle the information that they would pay taxes for health insurance instead of paying more in premiums to private insurers whose business is to deny care, the details – and final legislative action – were continually postponed.

Then came Obamacare in 2010, with no provision for states with better systems to keep them. There was no effort by Shumlin or the state's Congressmembers to protect Vermont's system. So money and effort had to be spent to set up the "Obamacare Exchange" (which still doesn't work), and delays and ballooning expenses were justified by the 2-track project of preparing for the coming single-payer system. On May 26, 2011, Shumlin had signed the bill to enact single-payer health insurance.

Finally, Shumlin was re-elected (barely) in 2014 for a third term on the promise that the final plan was to be revealed in December (after the election). Instead, on December 17, he announced that single-payer was dead. It was dead because he was never ready to fight for the payroll taxes to pay for it. He pretended that the need for those taxes was a new discovery, but it was well known from the beginning that such taxes would be the means of funding it. Public advocacy groups had long been explaining to people that the new taxes would be substantially less than current premiums, but the state took no part in that information program. Business owners praised Shumlin, and a few months later he endorsed Hillary Clinton for President and then that he would not seek re-election in 2016.

Shumlin was elected to enact single-payer health insurance in Vermont. Instead, he killed it. Never trust a Democrat.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Put on your big fat-pants.

Claims of being "adult" or "grown up" reveal the opposite: a reversion to being told what to do and think, and liking it. And self-righteously forcing it on others.

See: Further Notes on Nature-Guilt” by Eric Rosenbloom (2010)

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Dems Are Deluded.

Everything awful that Trump says is already policy. We already have a wall between the United States of Mexico and America. We already have judicial and economic systems that exploit immigrants and disproportionately target blacks, latinos, and muslims. We are already a racist and sexist nation. The Dems give lip service to changing that reality – as do the Republicans – but the fact is it does not change until the people change. Only then do both Republican and Democratic parties also change.

Everything good that Trump says is a threat to both Democratic and Republican policy. Cooperate with rather than antagonize Russia (and others). NATO is a cold-war anachronism. Make deals rather than threats. Protect jobs and personal dignity and security rather than corporate profits. Restore the separation of insured and speculative banking. Provide universal health care and maintain our infrastructure to reflect the success of an advanced democracy.

After Obama perfected the balance that Al Gore sought but couldn’t clinch – an embrace of Clintonism/Reaganism along with a prissy paternalism as the only difference from predecessors and rivals – as well as nice-guy hypocrisy while pursuing both neoliberal and neoconservative agendas, it should not be surprising that people find Trump’s vulgarity to be refreshingly honest.

And after its diminishment for many people under the administration of the man who ran on the word, it should not be surprising that Trump’s populist rhetoric inspires hope.

As Bill Clinton instinctively grasped, people look for both hope and cheap entertainment in their figurehead: H.C.E. (cf. Finnegans Wake).

Trump, too, seems to grasp it intuitively, whereas Hillary Clinton tamps down hope and has but fear to offer. With her, the hope is only that she will dispel the fear that she herself invokes. Entertainment lies only in the cynical prospect of defeating the enemies she herself manufactures. It’s a never-ending spectacle of death and redemption.

But it’s not a game. Those enemies have human identities, and then they are ruined and killed. Between Trump and Clinton, only the latter already has muslim and black and latino blood on her hands and promises to spill ever more.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

A selection of the DNC e-mails

RE: Donor Vet [former murderer of horses for insurance donating big to attend POTUS event]
email ID: 578

Fwd: State Dinner Countdown [donor whines to get state dinner invitation]
email ID: 2946

RE: Credit for HVF [demand for credit securing $200K to attend private dinner]
email ID: 17287

Re: $50,000 - Lawrence Benenson [desperation for money, contempt for donors]
email ID: 14700

Flag: AP: Eyeing Senate, Clinton directing money to 2016 battlegrounds [concern about story re Clinton campaign funds]
email ID: 7784

RE: Gloria Allred blast language for lawyers approval [thinking of ways to violate Hatch Act]
email ID: 20148

Re: FW: DNC LGBT Event [making fun of black woman’s name]
email ID: 17942

“I love you too. no homo.”
email ID: 425

Re: No shit [raising rumor that Sanders is atheist]
email ID: 11508

Flag: Bernie FR email on Politico / JFA story [DNC/Clinton vs Sanders campaign]
email ID: 6230

Video Request: msnbc right now [concern re MSNBC commentary on DNC-Clinton collusion]
email ID: 6107

“Fucking Joe claiming the system is rigged, party against him, we need to complain to their producer.”
email ID: 8806

Re: Chuck, this must stop [coordinating with Chuck Todd to counter Mika Brzezinski’s call for DNC chair to resign]
email ID: 8379

RE: Getting on same page [releasing story to cooperative reporter]
email ID: 12450

RE: Interview request [controlling Spanish-language news with “Preferred Bilinguals”]
email ID: 7102

“Off the Record Meeting with Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC”
email ID: 13762

Fwd: per agreement ... any thoughts appreciated [Politico writer Ken Vogel runs story by DNC before own editors]
email ID: 10808

Re: BuzzFeed and DNC connection [coordinating convention coverage]
email ID: 10933

Re: WaPo Party [secret (illegal) DNC party hosted by Washington Post]
email ID: 2699

Re: Washington Examiner delegate inquiry [DNC rejects request from “right wing rag”]
email ID: 5304

RE: FNS 4-24-16 [Clinton’s problems due to Sanders liberals, SOS email server, Clinton Foundation]
email ID: 8351

RE: need comms approval - craigslist job post [fake sexist ad for Trump business].
email ID: 12803

RE: For Your Review: Weekly Update [“LOT'S of Trump. For this week I think its ok, I don't want to touch what's happening on our side because its engendering negative feedback from Members …”]
email ID: 7586

RE: Action on DNC tomorrow (Immigration Raids) [conflicted messaging re White House actions]
email ID: 9736

Megyn Kelly is a bimbo [very conflicted DNC consultant]
email ID: 6087

Surrogate TPs from HFA [Clinton campaign providing DNC talking points]
email ID: 5254

Re: Alaska "Counter" Event [DNC spies in Sanders campaign]
email ID: 4776
email ID: 7793

RE: Bernie narrative [effort to blame Bernie for DNC conspiracy against him]
email ID: 14295

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The complexities of greenhouse gases

A table of global sources of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄), and nitrous oxide (N₂O, also abbreviated as NOx) – is reportedly no longer readily available from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Here it is as reproduced by the US Energy Information Administration in the December 2004 report, “Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2003”.


The table shows that human (anthropogenic) CO₂ emissions in the 1990s were less than 3% of the total, ie, 97% of CO₂ emissions were natural, although more than half of the human emissions exceeded the amount that could be naturally absorbed. For the other greenhouse gases, human CH₄ emissions were 50% greater than natural CH₄, representing 60% of the total, and only 6% of the human emissions exceeded what could be naturally absorbed. Human N₂O emissions represented about 55% of that total, and 55% exceeded what could be absorbed.

One thing that the table does not indicate is the different greenhouse effect levels of the three gases. CH₄ has 20 times the greenhouse effect of CO₂, N₂O 300 times. Therefore, the annual increase in greenhouse gases by effect is about 88% due to CO₂, 3% to CH₄, and 9% to N₂O.

Combining that information with what the table indicates, to halt the annual increases in these greenhouse gases, humans would have to reduce CO₂ emissions to 51% of the level specified here for the 1990s, N₂O to 25%, and CH₄ to 94%.

If the annual increase in greenhouse effect were to be halted by reducing CO₂ alone, humans would have to reduce emissions to less than 43% of their 1990s level. If, however, human CH₄ emissions were halved (relatively easy to achieve by, eg, reducing animal agriculture and capturing leakage at natural gas wells), human CO₂ emissions would have to be reduced to 58% of their 1990s level.

Another important consideration is the very different half-lives of these greenhouse gases. Most strikingly, CO₂ persists for centuries, even millennia, in the atmosphere, whereas CH₄ persists for only about 10 years. In other words, changes to CO₂ emissions would not have an effect for hundreds of years, but the effect of changes to CH₄ emissions would be relatively immediate. (N₂O lasts about 100 years.) (It may well be that the climate change effects we are experiencing today are due to coal burning in the 19th century, which at the time was mitigated by the cooling effect of soot.)

In summary, halting the increase of greenhouse gas emissions remains a formidable challenge, let alone that of reducing their levels in the atmosphere. But N₂O and CH₄ are easy targets for reduction that must not be ignored, particularly because their reduction would have a much more immediate effect than reduction of CO₂.