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      The enemy of my my enemy is not my friend. It often isn’t even my ally, but just someone who I have something in common with. FDR wasn’t that left wing, yet the Press savaged him relentlessly. Corbyn is relentlessly savaged and lied about by the British press, and his political beliefs are basically 60s […]
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#UpholdTheseRights

Lady V has been working diligently on a new site with new content every day. I’ll let her describe it and urge you to visit it regularly: 

The last 8 weeks, I’ve been constructing a website for briefly learning about and taking concrete, effective action against what seem to be the most urgent issues: the erosion of fundamental rights, including First Amendment Rights, Environment (climate change, endangered species…), Human Rights (immigrants’, Muslim Ban, women’s, healthcare, voting…including racism/sexism sections), Public Education, and Foreign Policy/Preventing War. The site includes also includes a ‘Political Action Primer: What/How,’ for action against the erosion of democracy in all its forms. The site is updated daily.

Please check it out and spread the word! UpHoldTheseRights

Today, with the US Marshals refusing to uphold the stay (and deferring to the US Atty General’s office), it appears the Executive Branch has successfully launched a coup over the legislative and judicial branches of our government.

Muslim Ban Airport Protests #MuslimBan

If you’re at an airport and you’re protesting, I admire you and your courage.  The rest of The Majority are with you in spirit. It is the right thing to do. It is the human thing to do. 

I am hoping that the police will show restraint and all remains peaceful. 

As-salamu alaykum

Vanity

It may easily come to pass that a vain man may become proud and imagine himself pleasing to all when he is in reality a universal nuisance. 

                                  – Baruch Spinoza

I had a better post in my head yesterday but I got busy at work and it evaporated. 

So much has happened in the last week that it’s almost too much to keep track of. It’s just one outrage after another. That’s likely by design. 

But what if we looked at the result of all these changes with a cool, rational eye?   

The change that impressed me the most this past week was the resignations of career State Department employees. The reason that caught my eye is because it meant the loss of institutional knowledge acquired after decades in some cases. One of those career diplomats was an acknowledged expert in nuclear non-proliferation. The resignations were requested suddenly and without any transition. The result is going to be gaping holes in our diplomatic leadership. 

This follows a freeze on civil service cost of living increases and undermining the department of energy, the EPA, the national park service. How much of our scientific research capacity is going to be privatized? 

Bit by bit, the foundations of the system are being destroyed. Whether this is due to the incompetence of a vain man or by design thru his advisors who champion “creative destruction”. 

Creative destruction reminds me of passive aggression. There’s no such thing as passive aggression. It’s all just aggression. Any creative destruction is best when it’s done by a performance artist at MoMA. 

The federal government of the United States is a complex system. It can’t withstand too many shocks before it starts to veer off course. We in the middle and the lower end of the socioeconomic strata will feel it first. What will this new administration demand of us then?

In the meantime, the vain man wants the love and adulation of his adoring supporters. But when the support goes south, as it inevitably will, he’ll turn on them for being weak and lazy. There will be no pleasing them.

Fear no nightly noises. 

Let’s close National Endowment for the Arts day with one of my favorite ballets. I saw Firebird for the first time in Saratoga during the Stravinsky festival when Balanchine was still choreographer for the NYCB. The sets and costumes were by Marc Chagall. But all that went over my head because I was young. The Balanchine/Robbins version is not available on YouTube. But there are nice Russian alternatives styled after the choreography of Fokine.

The basic story is Prince Ivan is hunting in the woods when he spots the firebird. He captures her and is about to kill her when she offers him a magic feather in exchange for her life. She will come to his aid when ever the prince summons her with the feather. So, he lets her go. The prince goes on to fall in love with one of 12 princesses held captive by the sorcerer Kastchei. Determined to free her, the prince uses the feather to summon the firebird. She uses her magical frenetic energy to make Kastchei’s demon horde do an infernal dance. They dance themselves into a frenzy until finally the firebird makes them all fall asleep with exhaustion. As she keeps them asleep with her magic, the prince finds the box where Kastchei’s soul is hidden inside of an egg. He breaks the egg and releases the princesses from the spell. The firebird shimmers one last time and flies away. The last scene features Stravinsky’s joyous wedding music. The firebird doesn’t attend the wedding. She’s a feral magical creature who has no time or interest in weddings.

In the piece below, the incomparable Diana Vishneva, dances the firebird. I love how with a flick of her wrists she shows how the firebird uses all of her energy to suppress the urge to fly away in order to put the demons to sleep and keep her promise to the prince. The infernal dance of the demons is followed by a soft and dreamy lullaby.

Sweet dreams everyone.

Perdono

Let’s start the morning with something lovely and sublime about forgiveness and happiness to see us through today. This is dedicated to the National Endowment for the Arts and to every girl who learned to love music and ballet from her PBS station. 

The finale of the Marriage of Figaro. 

Keep Calm and Assume the Brace Position. 

The executive orders are flying thick and fast. The NPS isn’t allowed to use social media anymore or talk about climate change. 

The Mexico City rule is back in place so US aid workers can’t talk about abortion. 

There are plans to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. Let that sink in. 

About a month ago when the climate scientists were busily transferring their data out of the country, I mused on Twitter about how bad it would be if PubMed, the NIH and the RCSB protein data base would go dark. Not to worry, the RCSB person tweeted back, we have mirror sites in Europe and Japan. 

I didn’t know how to process that. Was it a good or bad thing that RCSB is counting on other countries to protect our protein structure assets?  

Anyway, none of this comes as a surprise to anyone who hangs out here or at other blogs on the left. Imagine how today must feel to the voters who sat out the election. And yet, it does feel a bit like the end of the world as we know it. 

Like this bit of apocalypse from David Lynch. You’re going to want to wear your earbuds for the full effect. 


Yeah, try to sleep after that.

We’ll get through it. Hold hands, stick together, look out for one another. 

Focus, people. 

While the media speculates on just how bad Trump’s NPD is (textbook, if I’m not mistaken) and how easy it is to bait him with a tweet or constant reminders of the size of his, um, crowds, there are some stories that should be covered that are being ignored. The media will continue to amuse itself with Trump and the rest of us need to be proactive. 

For example, what is going to happen to Net Neutrality?  You know, the thing that prevents Comcast from constructing speedbumps between you and the information you need to see on the internet?  Melissa at Shakesville sounds the alarm

As you may recall, during the election I warned that one of Donald Trump’s first orders of business, were he to be elected, would be to rescind Net Neutrality. Naturally, I was widely dismissed as a big ol’ cuckoo hysteric, by Trump supporters (because Trump loves the internet and is the champion of the little guy) and by lefties (because Net Neutrality is settled and even Trump wouldn’t be so brazen blah blah). 
Yeah. He would. Because that’s what authoritarians do. They quash dissent and erode access to factual information in any way they can.
So here we are: “Net Neutrality Foe Ajit Pai Officially Named FCC Chairman.”

As expected, President Trump has elevated Ajit Pai from his FCC Commissioner to Chairman, clearly establishing that the new administration seeks to undo the telecommunications regulations of the previous White House.
…”We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation,” he recently said about the future direction of the FCC.
The primary target of that weed-whacking is likely to be the 2015 Open Internet Order (better known to the kids as “Net Neutrality”), which prohibits internet service providers from favoring, blocking, or slowing down traffic based on where it’s coming from.
On the day in Feb. 2015 when the FCC voted to approve these rules, Pai spent a full 30 minutes railing against the regulation, repeatedly politicizing it by referring to Net Neutrality as “Obama’s plan to regulate the internet,” and claiming that new taxes and fees were coming, even though the rule does not allow for such charges.

Like many members of the Trump administration, Pai is a fan of “alternative facts.”
Get ready for the conservative talking points about how Net Neutrality crushes business and innovation, despite the fact the precise opposite is true. 
Rescinding Net Neutrality favors Internet service providers (ISPs), who are currently disallowed from “forging packets to tamper with certain kinds of traffic or slowing down or even outright blocking protocols or applications.” If they are granted permission to discriminate against sites and services at will, it would not only create a scenario in which access to information is only for those who can afford it, but it would have a chilling effect on free speech.
As I have previously noted: “Net Neutrality is an access issue. Who has access to information, and what kinds of information. One of the most dangerous potential outcomes of subverting Net Neutrality is that media with the broadest potential audience—i.e. kyriarchy-upholding garbage, which makes money hand over fist—will be the most cheaply accessible, while specialized media—i.e. kyriarchy-challenging material, which struggles to turn a profit—will be the most expensive, since media producers invested in social justice don’t tend to get rich from their work.”
And as Shaker Ignatius Cheezburger noted in the comments of that piece: “The other concern being that if the ISP happens to endorse or support certain political or cultural views as a matter of corporate policy, that ISP can now selectively filter certain content for priority delivery that is in keeping with their views and other content that runs contrary to those views for lower priority delivery, or no delivery at all. For example, NARAL or Planned Parenthood suddenly finds its alerts and updates getting bounced from all of its members within the ClearChannel family. Not good. Not good at all.”
In an era where online organizing is so crucial to fighting back (see: THIS POST), the idea of Net Neutrality being rescinded is absolutely chilling.
We need to start fighting back NOW.
To that end, you can call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322 and register your support for Net Neutrality.

Go read the whole thing since something gets lost in translation in editing from an iPhone. 

We squashed this ridiculous idea last time with an avalanche of public comment. Looks like we need a sequel.