The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Somewhere, Bull Connor is Smiling

You don’t remember Bull Connor? He was Commissioner of Public Safety (chief cop) in Birmingham, Alabama when, in 1963 he used fire hoses and attack dogs against civil rights activists. The films of the confrontation and Connor’s disproportionate response, became an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. He became an international symbol of Southern racism.

Now, science has come up with a better, more efficient crowd control product. From the Daily Dot:

Imagine being soaked, head to toe, in a frothy mix of pureed compost, gangrenous human flesh, and road kill, and you might get some idea of what it’s like to be sprayed with Skunk, according to those who’ve had the misfortune of being doused.

A few police departments in the US, including the St Louis Metropolitan Police, have reportedly purchased the spray, a non-lethal riot-control weapon originally developed by the Israeli firm Odortec, and used first in the occupied West Bank in 2008 against demonstrators. The sticky fluid, which Palestinians say smells like a “mixture of excrement, noxious gas and a decomposing donkey,” is usually fired from armored vehicles using high-pressure water cannons.

Decomposing donkey? Where and when do you learn what THAT smells like?

It was used in Hebron on February 26, 2012 to disperse a crowd of an estimated 1,000 people which clashed with Israeli soldiers during a protest described as commemorating the anniversary of the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre.

Mistral Security, based in Bethesda MD, offers Skunk products to US police and the military. According to the company’s website, they sell it using a number of delivery systems, including 60 ounce canisters with a range of 40 feet; a “skid sprayer” equipped with a 50 gallon tank and a 5 HP motor that can shoot over 60 feet at up to 7 gallons per minute; and a 40mm grenade that can be fired by a 12-gauge shotgun.

The company reports that Skunk is made from 100% food-grade ingredients and is 100% eco-friendly – harmless to both nature and people. From their website:

Applications include, but are not limited to, border crossings, correctional facilities, demonstrations and sit-ins. Decontamination soap is available to mitigate the odor.

So what we have here is another way that our police spend money to create citizen compliance. Police have an ethical problem: How do they control (or disperse) a crowd that gets unruly without causing injury?

In the past year, we have seen several examples of “comply or die” in cities around the US. Now, we see that the technology is evolving from Bull Connor’s days of attack dogs and fire hoses, to tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bags, and now, Skunk. Policing seems to be headed in a strange direction. You better do what you’re told, and not participate in any, you know, civil disobedience, like sit-ins, protests, demonstrations and such, or we will Skunk you, (or worse).

A fundamental Constitutional issue has emerged in police response to civil disobedience in the past few years. City property has been “privatized”, with the municipal corporation as the owner. Public space is not owned, it is supposed to be available to the public with only limited conditions. But, we now see a growing number of examples where police, mayors and municipalities are limiting access for the press, for demonstrators as well as for ordinary citizens to public spaces.

When our laws are manipulated in order to suppress a free press, or personal speech, it shows contempt for the entire idea of a free people or a government of laws. When our police continually purchase new weapons to insure compliance with police orders, peaceful protest is at risk.

Consider this: At Donald Trump’s Dallas rally on Monday night, Politico reports that as the mostly white attendees filed out, they clashed with 200 or so protesters, mostly black and Hispanic.

Dozens of police officers, including several on horseback, pushed protesters off arena property. After being pushed to the other side of the street, one protest leader encouraged the rest to arm their families and teach them to protect themselves:

You’re only going to get Martin Luther King so long before you get Malcolm X.

Our police should be careful what they wish for.

See you on Sunday.


29% of Americans Support a Military Coup

A law professor at West Point was forced to resign after it emerged that he had authored a number of controversial articles. In one, he suggested that the US military may have a duty to seize control of the federal government if the federal government acted against the interest of the country.

Link that thought to a YouGov poll taken this month that found that 29% of US citizens would support a military coup d’état. Moreover, a plurality of Republicans, (43%) would support a coup by the military. They were the only group with a plurality in favor in the poll:

YouGov poll

They polled 1,000 people on September 2nd & 3rd. The poll has a margin of error of ±4%. Another theme of the poll was that Americans think the military want what’s best for the country, followed by police officers:

YouGov poll 2

The other categories, which included Congress, local politicians, and civil servants, went in the other direction. The vast majority of those polled thought that local and DC politicians were self-serving.

In other words, most Americans have a lot of confidence in the police and the army, the armed enforcers of government’s rules, but very little confidence in the politicians and bureaucrats who actually write and enact them. This is a rather dangerous disconnect when you think about it. A fascinating poll question was: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

5. Should active duty members of the US military always follow orders from their civilian superiors, even if they feel that those orders are unconstitutional?
Should . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18%
Should not . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33%

The answer shows that many Americans think:

1. The military are all Constitutional scholars, and

2. Americans want soldiers to think for themselves, even though the civilian superior who matters is the Commander-In-Chief, or Mr. President to the rest of us.

All of this, despite the fact that the US military has long embraced the idea of civilian control of national affairs, and apart from certain rare moments, the American officer corps has faithfully followed the orders of their civilian superiors.

The weakening of support for many of our institutions is clear: Every year Gallup asks Americans about their confidence with 15 major segments of American society. The police and the military routinely top the list with overwhelming support, while no other government institution inspires confidence among the majority of voters. That includes the presidency, the Supreme Court, public schools, the justice system, and Congress. Also near the bottom, are the media, big business, and banks.

Essentially, the YouGov poll shows that most Americans have completely lost faith in the system, and the powers that run it. The only people they still trust are cops and soldiers. And a society that trusts its armed enforcers more than everyone else is a society that could be ripe for a coup. In today’s age of blanket surveillance, the military coup option may be especially appealing to quite a few US citizens who are afraid to risk their own lives opposing their government. It is a version of “let you and him fight”.

Those military officers who would make good political leaders are smart and too principled to launch a coup against the civilian government. We would likely see mass resignations of the officer corps before any attempted coup. So, a few questions:

• Why conduct this poll now?
• Who commissioned the poll, and why?

It’s clear that people are seriously disgusted with the political class. The first reasonably persuasive demagogue who comes along may give America’s political class exactly what it deserves.

Sadly, the rest of we Americans deserve better.



Sunday Cartoon Blogging – August 2, 2015

Why is it that Republicans don’t seem to pay a price for bad behavior? Like shutting down the government in 2013 didn’t have a repercussion in the 2014 election, which brought the GOP the Senate to go with their control of the House of Representatives. Now, the Republican candidates are trying to outdo each other in provocative opinions. So, the presidential candidates’ debate on Fox this week is shaping up to be a reality TV hostage show:

Nice little political party you have here…it would be a shame if something happened to it.

COW Bad Caddy


Huckabee tries out for 2nd banana:

COW the Apprentice

But it got worse, after Huckabee indicated Thursday that if elected, he wouldn’t rule out employing federal troops to stop abortions from taking place in the US. Even though the Supreme Court has ruled against bans on abortion, Huckabee said past presidents have defied Supreme Court rulings. So, according to Huck, not only do fetuses have more rights than women, but fetuses have more rights than children.

Why, in this man’s religion, does the fetus have rights that no one else gets?

What it takes this year to be one of the final pols in the debate:

COW Fox Debate













A killer dentist explains a few things:

COW Afraid of Dentist

Some think he deserves a prize:

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

And the cops vs. blacks beat went on:

COW Threatened


We now have a fill in-the-blanks script for all mass shootings:

COW Blank Feeling

And the Tom Brady fire sale started:

COW Brady shirt


Sunday Cartoon Blogging – June 7, 2015

This week, mass surveillance by the USA Freedom act replaced mass surveillance by the Patriot Act.

It’s as if Kafka and Orwell collaborated on a novel that was too unrealistic to publish. The plot shows how the NSA operates a $multi-billion program in violation of the Constitution. But, EVERY element of that program is protected by national security secrecy, so no one knows about it. In addition, the managers of the program lie to Congress and hide the extent of the program from lawmakers.

Then an NSA contractor informs us that the illegal program exists. As the story unfolds, the contractor is pursued, is forced into asylum, and faces prosecution if he returns home. And he can’t use the fact of that illegal program to defend himself because of state secrecy. Here is Charlie Pierce on the new legislation:

The ambivalence about Edward Snowden, International Man of Luggage, all clears away at one simple point — without him, none of this happens. Without what he did, nobody looks closely enough at the NSA and its surveillance programs even to think of reforming them even in the mildest way, which is pretty much what this is. Without what he did, the conversation not only doesn’t change, it doesn’t even occur.

Without Edward Snowden, this timid effort to roll back from the politics of fear created in the wake of September 11, 2001 would not have happened last week in Washington. Instead of thanking Snowden for his public service and inviting him to come home, the US government is still seeking to arrest him and try him on charges that carry long prison sentences. Bring this hero home.

Is the new Act the same, or better than the old act?

COW USA Freedom

Apparently, phone records were not covered by the founding fathers:

COW Telephone

You didn’t lose your privacy, it was transferred to Squillionaires:

COW FB PrivacyIn other news, Caitlyn Jenner dominated:

COW Too Caitlyn

Denny Hastert’s indictment reminded us of who holds the moral high ground:

COW Moral High Ground

And California’s water problems get executive attention:

COW CA Water



Nothing to Hide?

Here are two interrelated ideas about privacy and personal freedom. We know that most Americans value privacy and oppose mass surveillance. Of the large minority who think spying is okay, they justify it by saying it is because they have “nothing to hide”. 49% % said keeping the details of the government’s programs secret is more important than justifying their legality. Edward Snowden spoke last week about “nothing to hide in a Q&A on Reddit: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

I think the central issue is to point out that regardless of the results, the ends (preventing a crime) do not justify the means (violating the rights of the millions whose private records are unconstitutionally seized and analyzed).
Some might say “I don’t care if they violate my privacy; I’ve got nothing to hide.” Help them understand that they are misunderstanding the fundamental nature of human rights. Nobody needs to justify why they “need” a right: the burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. But even if they did, you can’t give away the rights of others because they’re not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority.
But even if they could, help them think for a moment about what they’re saying. Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.
A free press benefits more than just those who read the paper.

On the other hand, YouGov’s latest poll shows that many Americans support making it a criminal offense to make public statements which would stir up hatred against particular groups of people.

• Americans narrowly support (41%) criminalizing hate speech
• Most Democrats (51%) support criminalizing hate speech
• Independents (41% to 35%) and Republicans (47% to 37%) tend to oppose making it illegal to stir up hatred against particular groups

Support for banning hate speech is particularly strong among racial minorities. 62% of black Americans, and 50% of Hispanics support criminalizing comments which would stir up hatred. White Americans oppose a ban on hate speech 43% to 36%.

In both of these cases, loss of privacy, and the suppression of hate speech, the practical question is, what does more harm?

With mass surveillance, we give up a constitutional right to prevent the very tiny chance of being killed by a terrorist. Contrast that with the certain chance of being spied upon, and the certainty of losing your 4th Amendment rights in the name of protecting you from terrorists.

In the case of hate speech, think about it: It’s always easier to defend someone’s right to say something with which you agree. But in America, we defend free speech, even if you strongly object, because that is a right contained in the 1st Amendment.

Liberals are divided by these two ideas. They are against the Patriot Act’s attack on unreasonable search and seizure, as contained in the 4th Amendment. On the other hand they have a real problem with unfettered hate speech, which according to the YouGov survey, makes them want to limit free speech, putting them on the wrong side of the 1st Amendment.

There is no moral calculus that addresses either of these issues with certainty.

How Cleveland shoots. Links:

49 Shots And The Cop Goes Free. On May 23, Michael Brelo, one of the Cleveland police officers involved in the 2012 shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, was acquitted of manslaughter by an Ohio judge, who found that while Officer Brelo did fire lethal shots at the two people, testimony did not prove that his shots caused either death. 49 shots by Brelo, through the car’s windshield. While standing on the hood of the car. And reloading. You have to wonder what it takes to get a conviction. Black robes, white justice. NOTE: all cops involved fired 137 shots. However, only one cop, who fired 49 times, was charged.

It’s been 6 months since Tamir Rice died, and the cop who killed him still hasn’t been questioned. Tamir was killed because he was waving a toy gun. There is explicit surveillance video of the shooting, and the officer who shot him has a troubling record. So why is the investigation taking so long? And adult white men can carry weapons openly, in large groups, in public restaurants and stores, and have no fear of being shot.

Continuing our exploration of springtime at the House of Wrong, here is an Indigo Bunting. They are occasionally at our bird feeders:

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.


Exactly Who Does the FBI Work For?

The Keystone Pipeline has been off the radar for a few months, but The Guardian brought it back this week with an article describing the FBI’s bad behavior towards activists who are against Keystone:

The FBI breached its own internal rules when it spied on campaigners against the Keystone XL pipeline, failing to get approval before it cultivated informants and opened files on individuals protesting against the construction of the pipeline in Texas, documents reveal.

The documents connect the investigation of anti-Keystone activists to other “domestic terrorism issues” in the agency. The FBI files also suggest that the Houston part of the investigation was opened in early 2013, several months after a high-level strategy meeting between the agency and TransCanada, the company building the pipeline.

The Guardian hired Mike German, a former FBI agent, to help decipher the documentation. German said they indicated that the agency had opened a category of investigation that is known in agency parlance as an “assessment”. An “assessment” was an expansion of FBI powers after 9/11. Assessments allow agents to open intrusive investigations into individuals or groups, even if they have no reason to believe they are breaking the law. German, now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, said:

It is clearly troubling that these documents suggest the FBI interprets its national security mandate as protecting private industry from political criticism

The Wrongologist wrote about this very issue in February 2015, making several points:

• The FBI was meeting with and surveilling anti-Keystone pipeline activists in the US.
• The FBI indicated publicly (and untruthfully) that they could only conduct investigations when they had reason to suspect criminal activity.
• The FBI failed to disclose that they had changed their mission statement. Instead of listing “law enforcement” as its primary function, as it had for years, the FBI fact sheet started listing “national security” as its chief mission.

At the time, we reported that the FBI was essentially doing pre-emptive security work for a Canadian corporation. From Charlie Pierce:

The FBI has no business dropping in on citizens who have not committed a crime, nor are they suspected of having committed one, and especially not at the behest of a private multinational concern.

That would be a foreign private concern. More from Pierce:

Names are going into a file…This never has worked out well in the area of political dissent in this country, and, given the fact that we now have a staggering network of covert domestic intelligence-gathering and a huge government law-enforcement apparatus, it’s unlikely to work out well in the future…

Finally, the new Guardian report states that the FBI said it was compelled to

take the initiative to secure and protect activities and entities which may be targeted for terrorism or espionage.

So, here we go. The FBI, never a friend of civil liberties, has once again violated the law by spying on activists in the absence of any reasonable suspicion that these pose a threat to life and/or property. They shouldn’t be in a position to conduct an unauthorized witch hunt and they shouldn’t be able to just say there is a threat of terrorism.

How convenient that the Houston FBI office didn’t seek approval in advance for their investigation. Plausible deniability for those up the chain of command preserves cushy government pensions.

Our security state says it requires all of this very intrusive information-gathering in order to protect us. Yet we read again and again that some terrorist or another was known to law enforcement prior to their criminal acts, just as the FBI missed clear opportunities to stop the Boston Bombers.

We could all learn from Al Swearengen in Deadwood:

I don’t like the Pinkertons. They’re muscle for the bosses, as if the bosses ain’t got enough edge.

There is a name for what happens when the government’s law-enforcement powers are put at the direct convenience of private corporations. Fascism.

See you on Sunday.


Drones: A Big Bad Nightmare

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), better known as the drone, is revolutionizing military power around the world. Despite the Pentagon’s Sequester, certain programs, like drone procurement have emerged unscathed, in part because the last two US administrations have embraced use of drones in combat theaters overseas. Meanwhile, a “drone caucus” has emerged in Congress that fiercely protects UAV funding and touts them as a way to help save money on defense, protect the lives of US soldiers, better patrol America’s borders, and assist domestic law enforcement agencies in surveillance.

In 2013, President Obama made a high-profile speech announcing plans to curb US use of drones. But events in the Middle East and North Africa, especially the rise of ISIS, have forced the US to shelve those plans. Yesterday, the Wrongologist reported that China was selling drones to Saudi Arabia. Consider this:

• More than 70 countries have acquired UAVs of different types. Of these countries, the US holds the largest share of UAVs
• 23 countries are reportedly developing armed UAVs
• The Teal Group forecasts an increase in global spending on UAVs from $6.6 billion in 2013 to $11.4 billion in 2022
The Diplomat reports that China will be the largest UAV manufacturer over the next decade

Many countries want drones, and many will turn to China with its lower manufacturing costs, and similar drone technology. A report last year by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated:

Chinese companies appear to be positioning themselves to become key suppliers of UAVs in the global market.

Chinese UAVs are especially attractive to countries in Africa and the Middle East given their low cost and China’s the lack of export restrictions compared with their Western competitors.

Even the new US drone export policy is not competitive with China, since it requires countries buying our armed drones to assure the US that they won’t use them to carry out illegal surveillance, that they will abide by international humanitarian laws, and that they use them for legal purposes. Just how will we enforce that? Will the US assign personnel to the control vans and centers to monitor each flight, or depend on self-reporting by foreign governments?

In the past year, drones have crashed onto the White House lawn, placed radioactive cesium on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo, and worked the battlefields in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq.

It is a formidable weapon that we are only beginning to understand. The concern is that they can be used against a nation’s homeland, since they are hard to detect and difficult to bring down. With drone proliferation, what will the impact be if large public gatherings become indefensible targets? Will sporting events like the Super Bowl be “protectable” by the city and state that hosts the event? Probably not. So, will they have to be protected by the US military? Images of US military patrolling the streets around the Super Bowl would provide an Orwellian cast to the big game.

The small quad-copter commercial drones that anyone can purchase (for between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars) signal the biggest problem for the future. They are equipped with GPS technology and high-resolution cameras. They could carry (small) loads of plastic explosive, or even chemical weapons to a precise location and cause havoc. Jamming GPS signals could be an effective solution, provided we had some idea about a targeted area. Universal GPS jamming probably would be impractical, since GPS is so important to our everyday lives.

We don’t seem to have much of a clue as to what to do about this emerging threat.

How will we adapt when drones (commercial or military) become ubiquitous? What would be the societal impact? Fear is already a great driver of our domestic politics. It is difficult to imagine how much more of our 4th Amendment rights could be sacrificed to protecting us from terrorist drones. Armed drones deployed against a densely-populated Western country is a terrorist dream!

Drone design of the future is receiving huge amounts of venture capital. The current new idea is swarming drones. The US Navy is currently testing a weapon that can fire 30+ small armed drones at once. The Navy calls the program “Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology”, or LOCUST. The Navy is also concerned about defending drone swarm attacks on its ships, since the vessels are relatively large targets.

Imagine if a terrorist could fire a “drone swarm” at Manhattan.

We won’t be putting this genie back in the bottle. Think of all the things that could possibly go (horribly) wrong by the US making drones the AK-47 of the future.


Let’s Talk About Baltimore

Regarding Baltimore, the NYT says:

Hundreds of rifle-toting National Guard members began deploying here on Tuesday morning, lining one of the city’s main thoroughfares and taking up posts around a police station in western Baltimore that had been the scene of earlier protests.

From the start of the demonstration through Tuesday morning, 15 police officers were injured, 2 people were shot, both in the leg. And approximately 200 people were arrested. There is a night curfew. There are the predictable images of large groups of young black males, buildings on fire, up-armored cops and National Guard, and the shaking of jowls by media and politicians.

These stories are always depressingly similar: Police shoot a black guy. They obfuscate for several days. A protest turns violent, and some of those professing to be “victims” create victims of their own, mostly in their own neighborhoods. The police are happy to give them room to destroy property in black neighborhoods, but then draw the line when the crowd moves out of that prescribed area.

Something was bound to give in Baltimore. Check out this report from the Baltimore Sun, called “Undue Force“:

Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations [by the Baltimore police department].

According to state law, Baltimore cops cannot be sued for more than $200,000 for each “offense”. That statutory cap can be exceeded when there are multiple claims in a lawsuit, and if there is malice the cap may not apply. The largest settlement has been $500k. In total, the city has paid $5.7 million since January 2011, and that doesn’t count the $5.8 million spent by the city on legal fees to defend these claims against their police. Just a cost of doing business in Baltimore.

So, once the riot started the mayor and the governor called for calm. “Why can’t these people react non-violently?” Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic provides an answer:

When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con.

Here is a series of tweets by Billmon: (edited by the Wrongologist)

…but the cops did not destroy the black industrial working class, or finance the slumlords, or redline poor neighborhoods. Police brutality isn’t the only reason that #BlackLivesMatter.
… And not being unlawfully killed is a pretty minimal standard for “mattering.”
…And so the policy “debate” becomes limited to: “Black men: Should we let the cops kill them or not?” Which is fucking sick. Or: “Should America have an incarceration rate that’s 10 times higher than the rest of developed world? Or just 5 times higher.”

We are witnessing a continuing trend in US policing: Violence against inanimate property equals violence against “the people”. It brings a disproportionate response, whether it is the Occupy movement, Ferguson, or Baltimore.

“Urban riots” always conjure up bad images and bad responses, like the riots in 1964 in Harlem and Philadelphia, and in Newark in 1967, all of which were ignited by allegations of police brutality. In Newark, Governor Richard J. Hughes (R) called up the National Guard. When they arrived, reports were coming in of black snipers roaming the city, and terrorists with dynamite and arms heading towards Newark. The result was 26 deaths and 725 wounded in Newark, but no snipers or terrorists were found.

Maryland governor Larry Hogan (R), channeling his inner Spiro Agnew, vowed to quell rioting by sending in 1,000 National Guard troops. From the Baltimore Sun:

Hogan said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a political ally of the new Republican governor, would sent 150 troopers plus additional resources to Baltimore.

Christie will never let a good crisis go to waste.

The ultimate outcome of Baltimore will predictably be calls for more law and ordering by the right, and more calls for inconsequential band aids by the left. Perhaps the policy debate ought to be broader than: “what will it take for police to stop killing black guys?”, although that would be a good start.

Police need to remember that since they have the authority and the power, they also have the responsibility to use both properly. It’s not the responsibility of the person they pull over, the person they want to question, or the person who is standing nearby, it’s THEIR responsibility.

Let’s face it, Americans live in a soft police state. Whites may not sense its severity or doom like urban black males, since their threat is to privacy. But the freedoms of most Americans have never been more threatened and violated by governments at the federal, state and local levels.

Here is Randy Newman singing his composition, “Baltimore“:

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can see the video here.


Monday Wake Up Call – April 20, 2015

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), is the guy that beat Eric Cantor in a Republican primary and then won Cantor’s seat in Congress in what was a huge 2014 electoral shocker, since Cantor was House Majority Leader at the time, and outspent Brat 40-1. Well, TPM reports that Mr. Brat said on a radio show that Obamacare was moving America away from a free market system and making the country more like North Korea. He went on to contrast North and South Korea:

Look at every country in the world…Look at North Korea and South Korea. It’s the same culture, it’s the same people, look at a map at night…one of the countries is not lit, there’s no lights, and the bottom free-market country, all Koreans, is lit up. See you make your bet on which country you want to be, right? You want to go free market.

Sadly for Mr. Brat, South Korea has a compulsory national health care system.

Brat makes Cantor seem like Einstein. It’s important to know that Mr. Brat was a professor of economics at Randolph–Macon College where he taught business ethics, among other courses. Earlier, he said that Obamacare would cost the country $2 Trillion, a statement that PolitiFact says is false.

There’s really nothing to do but laugh in Mr. Brat’s face. Today, a middle-school level of seriousness is all that the Republican Party is up for, with their racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, religious hypocrisy, moralism, and warmongering. By far their most dangerous characteristic is their juvenile and uninformed thinking. The sabotage of political discourse seems to be the only thing that matters to them.

So, in light of the Brat, rather than start your day with a head-banging tune designed to wake him up, Wrongo wants to try bringing you into the week in a kinder, gentler way. So for the next few weeks at least, we will start with: Your Monday moment of Zen.

Today we feature a Hermit Thrush, the state bird of Vermont. Walt Whitman made the hermit thrush a symbol of the American voice in his elegy for Abraham Lincoln, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”. Here is a singing Hermit Thrush:

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can watch and hear the Hermit Thrush here.

Monday’s Hot Links:

National Guard troops referred to Ferguson protesters as ‘enemy forces’, emails show. Documents detailing the military mission divided the crowds that the National Guard would be likely to encounter into “friendly forces” and “enemy forces” – the latter apparently including the protesters.

Cirque du Soleil is in advanced talks with two private equity groups to sell a majority stake. Cirque du Soleil has been working with Goldman Sachs since last year to find a strategic partner. The valuation looks to be between $1.5 and $2.0 billion. Guess who is about to jump the shark?

These gorgeous maps of the moon were put together at the request of NASA using data captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Wide Angle Camera (WAC) and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). All named features larger than 53 miles (85 km) in diameter or length were included.

Iowa chiropractor loses license after sexual contact while performing exorcisms on several patients. “My back hurts,” so, he prescribes treatment in the form of an exorcism, which followed some sexy time.

Investors want to build a multi-tier mall at the Grand Canyon. They want to construct a retail complex based around a tram that planners are calling the Escalade, which will stretch from the rim down to the floor, providing easy access to both a fragile ecosystem and sacred place to Native Americans.

Roommates stab each other in iPhone versus Android debate. Two roommates in Tulsa, Oklahoma took the usual geek argument to the next level, stabbing each other with broken beer bottles. When the police arrived, they found the roommates had been drinking and arguing about smartphones.


Friday Music Break – March 27, 2015

There are more words about music than music today. People are asking a persistent question: Given our endless Middle East wars, threats to our Constitutional rights, growing income inequality, and the continuing of violence against blacks by our police, “Where is the protest music?

Maybe we are looking in the wrong places. There has been an avalanche of provocative hip-hop and R&B, known generally as “black liberation music” around for years. Recently, it has become more thoughtful, and for whites in America, more accessible. Gawker has an article that provides a discussion of what it is about, and which artists are leading the genre.

Today, let’s focus on three artists, D’Angelo, who, in January, released an album, “Black Messiah” 14 years after his last effort. The title song has these lyrics:

Some will jump to the conclusion that I am calling myself a Black Messiah,
For me the title is about all of us…It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt
And in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough,
And decides to make change happen.
It’s not about celebrating one charismatic leader, but celebrating thousands of them.

The New York Times Magazine’s Jay Caspian King features another Messiah of the moment, Kendrick Lamar. His new album, “To Pimp a Butterfly”, has just been released. The first video released is for the song, “i“, that speaks of his experience in Compton, CA:

They wanna say there’s a war outside and a bomb in the street
And a gun in the hood and a mob of police
And a rock on the corner and a line full of fiends…

Finally, J Cole released a new album in December, “Forest Hills Drive”. Here is “Intro”:

Sample Lyric:
I said do you wanna, do you wanna be, free
Free from pain, free from scars
Free to sing, free from bars
Free my dawgs, you’re free to go
Block gets shot, the streets is cold
Free to love, to each his own
Free from bills, free from pills
You roll it loud, the speakers blow
Life get hard, you eat your soul

This song asks questions that the all of us must answer for ourselves. We live in a very structured, high-stress, work hard or get left behind society.

Do you wanna be happy? Do you wanna be free?

The answers to these questions are clearly, “YES” for everybody. Cole makes listeners think about what they are doing with their lives, and what really matters.

The Gawker article quotes Matthew McKnight of the New Yorker Magazine: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

I don’t think it’s an accident that we have all these Black artists who were born around the same time and who are now making art that urges on liberation. America produced us. If there’s any clarity that we can derive from the different stories being told…it’s that a lot of people are fed up.

Kendrick might be one of the few Hip Hop artists who doesn’t want what whiteness affords white people:

And I will die knowing that this white racial supremacy shit has fucked with white folks psychologically, intellectually, and soulfully more than it’s fucked with any of us.

White supremacy is deeply ingrained, so deeply, that in fact, most aren’t even aware they’re infected.