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Sew Buttons on Balloons and Happy Valentine’s Day.

This is a collection of stuff on my radar.

1.) Atrios at Eschaton has a quote from an article featuring Steve Scalise on his site about making people work for their Social Security benefits. That’s interesting if Scalise is referring to retirement and not disability. By the way, some recipients on Social Security disability payments are over retirement age and due to life circumstances out of their control, not only have health issues that prevent them from working but disability is their ONLY source of income. I’m going to be pretty annoyed if Scalise is planning to deprive these people of the miserly payments we give them now just to prove that we are a nation of overworked citizens who can’t even enjoy the last years of our lives without justifying our existence. It feels Germany circa 1939 to me.

If he’s referring to retirement, probably to solve the labor shortage, I would expect he applies his new rule to everyone on social security who is not disabled regardless of age. Social Security depends on EVERYONE buying into it and trusting that the money will be there when they’re ready to stop working. Creating a two tier system for older vs younger retirees, that is the wedge issue that Scalise and the Republicans want to use to separate retirees, anger the youngs and kill Social Security as we know it.

If you voted Republican because you were convinced that the government can’t do anything right, now is the time to sit and think about what these con men talked you into.

2.) It may be time to stop going to Twitter. I’ve been reading about how Starlink stopped allowing Ukraine to use its system for drone attacks on Russians. The timing is super suspicious. Last September, Starlink was cut off from an FTC grant for something like $880M because it failed to meet its obligation to bring internet services to hard to reach rural America. It was shortly after that when Starlink said it was cutting off Ukraine from using the system for defensive purposes.

Last September/October, the Ukrainian army was on a roll, tearing through the Kherson region and taking back territory. But for some reason, the initiative stalled. I’d like to know whether Starlink cutting off Ukraine at a crucial period of time has something to do with that.

There are a few things I want to know about including Elon’s sudden support for diplomacy last fall where Ukraine cedes a significant chunk of its territory to Russia in exchange for peace.

Was he using his leverage to slow down the Ukrainian offensive in order to pressure the administration to approve the FTC grant?

What kind of “deals” did he make with the Trump administration in 2020 wrt Starlink and SpaceX?

SpaceX is cool and groovy and landing a rocket on a platform tickles my geek fancy but right from the very beginning, I’ve felt really uncomfortable outsourcing what should be a major US National security function to a private entity. My fears have proven justified, I think. I’d like to know how much control the US Defense Department has of SpaceX and Starlink in its current iteration. Do we treat it as a defense contractor like Lockheed Martin or are we going to Elon hat in hand, begging him to allow us to use his pretty toys, while we give him access to our NASA launch capabilities?

In other words, are we allowing Elon Musk to direct our foreign policy? Because that’s what this feels like. And no, I don’t think a private company can make better decisions about the safety of the country or the world than the Departments of Defense and State.

My concern is that TFG really screwed us good with SpaceX Starlink. And as a result, the war in Ukraine, which should have wrapped up late last year, was stalled, giving Russia just enough time to regroup. If that true, there were a lot of lives lost. The cost of the war will be applied to the world as it drags on for a second year. We will need to send even more weapons systems to Ukraine. This is what happens in a war when your enemy is losing and you intentionally interrupt the progress of your allies. Plus, we have no idea if a petulant billionaire has given Starlink access to the Russians just to get even.

Given that Elon has been playing with our national security interests and still has the power to do so, the US DOD has contracted with Kynmeta, a Starlink competitor that is part of the Microsoft empire, to fill in the gaps for Ukraine. It’s not as advanced as Starlink but urgency can do wonders for development.

In the meantime, Elon is merrily destroying Twitter, acting like a Demi-god, making it harder for just regular people like me to identify and follow diverse news sources and find consensus. It’s almost like if a rich, capricious, vengeful, self-absorbed, vain guy with fluid morals and principals were not able to manipulate public opinion and vital national security goals for fun, profit and unwarranted fame, the Russians would have to invent him. I’d like to think that the Trump administration built in safeguards so that Elon couldn’t hold the world hostage this but I’m betting it didn’t. Maybe we can threaten to prevent them from using our DNS servers or remotely send a signal to scramble their passwords or hack their code. Something. Maybe we can shoot down some SpaceX rockets. “Ooops! They looked like balloons. Sorry, not sorry.”

It feels like we have a huge spy network in Starlink and Twitter and I’m not here for it. So, I’m going to assess whether or not I can cut Twitter and bug out to my accounts on Mastodon and Post. I’m sure Elon won’t waste any tears over that.

3.) Happy Valentine’s Day, oh best beloveds. No matter where you are or what your life circumstances, “you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here”. And that’s a lovely place to be.

Love and kisses from me to you.