Archive for President Obama

Merican Mengele

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2014 by Rob Wallace

Answers to leading questions under torture naturally tell us nothing about the beliefs of the accused; but they are good evidence for the beliefs of the accusers. -C.S. Lewis (1964)

[A] dramatic rise in witchcraft cases after the 1560s [during the French civil wars] provided more proof the Apocalypse was coming. As fast as they were detected, the courts burned them, but the Devil replaced them even faster. Contemporary demonologist Jean Bodin argued that, in crisis conditions such as these, standards of evidence must be lowered. Witchcraft was so serious, and so hard to detect using normal methods of proof, that society could not afford to adhere too much to “legal tidiness and normal procedures.” –Sarah Bakewell (2010)

Days before the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ program, VICE News, above, posted an interview with the program’s architect, psychologist James Mitchell.

It’s a chilling conversation. Mitchell plays the retired Kurtz, kayaking among alligators back from the heart of darkness in the easygoing manner of the unpunishable. Nothing on land or water threatens him now save, it seems, his reputation.

His flaccid self-justifications here of following orders and a terrible enemy have long been refuted by international law from Nuremberg on and by name by his colleagues at the American Psychological Association, who four years ago began calling for stripping Mitchell his license to practice.

There are too Mitchell’s creepy yuck-yucks over the “tool” of waterboarding, as if a rite of frat initiation.

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Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2014 by Rob Wallace

Geithner KrugmanIt is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it. –Upton Sinclair (1935)

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman jumped onto what is fast becoming a justly enthusiastic  pile-on–body-slamming former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s new book,

By any normal standard, economic policy since the onset of the financial crisis has been a dismal failure. It’s true that we avoided a full replay of the Great Depression. But employment has taken more than six years to claw its way back to pre-crisis levels — years when we should have been adding millions of jobs just to keep up with a rising population. Long-term unemployment is still almost three times as high as it was in 2007; young people, often burdened by college debt, face a highly uncertain future.

Now Timothy Geithner, who was Treasury secretary for four of those six years, has published a book, “Stress Test,” about his experiences. And basically, he thinks he did a heckuva job.

Still Krugman appears to accept the premises of a system that produces Geithners one administration after another. Continue reading

Protecting H3N2v’s Privacy

Posted in Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2013 by Rob Wallace

US H3N2v.1This past week the Guardian published a series of stunning articles on the extent of surveillance the National Security Agency has been conducting on U.S. citizens and millions of others worldwide.

Proponents of such programs, including President Obama, have contended secretly collecting our internet and phone metadata–when, where and with whom we connect–is about our protection.

I must say that as an evolutionary epidemiologist I find it a fascinating defense, if only because there have been several efforts aimed at producing geographies of deadly influenzas for which it has been nearly impossible to get governments across the globe, including the U.S., to provide the locales and dates of livestock outbreaks.

It’s as if the privacy rights of these viruses–and really the farms over which they spread–are better protected than those of the populations epidemiologists are ostensibly trying to protect.

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Imperial Storm Scientists

Posted in Ecological resilience, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by Rob Wallace

The Red Army Faction was a communist guerilla group operating 1970-1998 in, of all places, West Germany. The RAF engaged in a variety of operations in the 1970s, including assassinations and bombings, primarily around the German government’s material support of the U.S. war in Vietnam.

As depicted in the Baader-Meinhof Complex and this BBC documentary, the RAF and the West German government entered a spiral of mutual self-deception. Each told itself the lies necessary to defeat the other. However inaccurately depicted in the films, truths, spoken and lived, were sacrificed for the victory neither side could achieve:

The scope of the RAF’s bombing campaign outpaced its initial public support and sharpened the fascistic reaction the group claimed its enemy. Supporters think the latter repression emblematic of RAF’s success but they’d be hard pressed to claim even a moral victory as the German people acclimated to, and even openly supported, a burgeoning police state. Post-Nazi Germany meanwhile suffered a funktionshäftling‘s shame killing dissidents, however violent, in the name of colonial liquidations ruthlessly conducted abroad.

If only American fallacies were so rottenly principled.

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