United States of Amnesia

❝ “The United States of Amnesia.” That’s what Gore Vidal once called us. We remember what we find it convenient to remember and forget everything else. That forgetfulness especially applies to the history of others. How could their past, way back when, have any meaning for us today? Well, it just might. Take the European conflagration of 1914 to 1918, for example…

❝…in Europe, a hundred years ago, war had become politically purposeless. Yet the leaders of the world’s principal powers — including, by 1917, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson — could conceive of no alternative but to try harder, even as the seat of Western civilization became a charnel house…

❝…similarities between the Great War as it unspooled and our own not-in-the-least-great war(s) deserve consideration. Today, as then, strategy — that is, the principled use of power to achieve the larger interests of the state — has ceased to exist. Indeed, war has become an excuse for ignoring the absence of strategy…

❝ Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare, “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate.

Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity. No doubt Saudi and Israeli leaders will cheer, Europeans who remember their Great War will scratch their heads in wonder, and the Chinese will laugh themselves silly. Meanwhile, issues of genuinely strategic importance — climate change offers one obvious example — will continue to be treated like an afterthought.

As for the gravy train, it will roll on.

RTFA. The military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned of – lives better than a top-shelf Wall Street hedge fund manager. Politicians roll over easy-peasy – rotund from pockets stuffed with their share of the proceeds.

GDPR comes with teeth – and it starts up May 25th

❝ GDPR is the European Union’s latest effort to protect the personal privacy of its citizens – and it comes with teeth. As a Regulation rather than a Directive, all member states, including the UK, must comply without the additional step of national ratification.

Businesses and people who don’t live or work in the EU aren’t immune. Anyone who has customers in the EU, or works with information processors in the bloc, is subject to the GDPR. In light of this, it’s a little scary to note that, as of today, 64% of US firms either don’t know or don’t care about GDPR.

❝ The concept of privacy protection makes sense, but whenever a governmental body steps into a debate, and then regulates, there is usually collateral damage. The scope of GDPR is wide and the impacts are nuanced and complex – which means there will be winners and losers once the regulation kicks in.

Unsurprising, the European Union is going ahead with privacy protection that American politicians haven’t the backbone to consider. In a globalized marketplace, American corporations – particularly those living and profiting from the Internet – will have to make the effort even while the profit pimps in Congress/White House are working at destroying access and affordability to the Web.

Two of the costliest fighter jets in the world can’t talk to each other


Click to enlargewired.com

❝ With the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II, the U.S. has fielded two of the world’s most sophisticated, maneuverable and stealthy fighter jets. They both function as airborne shepherds of America’s flock of older combat aircraft, using their state-of-the-art systems to communicate threats and targets on the ground and in the air.

Unfortunately, they have a difficult time communicating with each other

❝ In a recent story on the situation, Air Force Magazine likened U.S. combat communications among the various aircraft to “a kind of Tower of Babel.” And the necessary modifications haven’t been fast in coming. “There’s a lot of improvements that could have been done and should have been done 15 years ago,” said David Rockwell, a senior defense electronics analyst with Teal Group. “The Air Force postponed a lot of things for [the] F-22.”

What’s another few billion$ parceled out to outfitters to the military-industrial complex? You can I can afford it. Or not. Congress and the Pentagon don’t care.

Federal fossil fuel-well cleanup may exceed $6 billion. Guess who gets some of that tab?

❝ “Cleaning up the tens of thousands oil and gas wells on U.S. federal land after they stop producing could cost over $6 billion, and taxpayers may need to pitch in, according to an analysis of state and federal data commissioned by a conservation watchdog group.” The analysis by consultancy ECONorthwest on behalf of the Center for Western Priorities, estimates the potential reclamation costs for the 94,096 oil and gas wells now producing on federal lands at $6.1 billion. The study pointed out the figure is likely several times higher than the amount the government has collected from oil and gas companies for the purposes of well reclamation – and taxpayers could be liable for some of the difference.

Our politicians remain as thoughtful as ever about passing along expenses from their corruption. To taxpayers.

The “shithole shutdown” is the right name for what just happened in DC

❝ There’s been a lot of debate over who’s to “blame” for a shutdown…But I am not sure the question of who is to blame for a shutdown will answer the question of who wins a shutdown, assuming anyone does. Both sides will think their opponents are to blame…

Republicans have a natural advantage in a shutdown because they care less how well the federal government works, and the parts of government they care most about — like the military and immigration enforcement — are exempted.

But Republicans are at a disadvantage in this particular case because their position is extremely unpopular — not only do 87 percent of Americans support letting DREAMers stay in the US, but President Trump and congressional Republicans have said, over and over again, that they agree! It is hard to defend continuing a shutdown in order to block a policy you say you want.

❝ The other big problem for Republicans is that everything Trump says every single day of the shutdown will be disastrous for them. Days before a possible shutdown, Trump sent an early-morning tweet that upended the GOP negotiating position on the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This was mere days after he reversed himself and destroyed the deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. How Republicans think they’ll manage a shutdown when they can’t manage Trump’s Twitter feed or even predict his shifting views is beyond me. He might wake up one morning and undercut them completely, and they know it.

Which is why Trump’s new favorite political analysis fits so well.

RTFA for details and order to this conclusion. Worth knowing as completely as Ezra Klein has put it.

Second Year in a Row – US Life Expectancy Drops

❝ The life expectancy at birth for Americans has dropped for the second consecutive year, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average lifespan as of 2016 is 78.6 years, down 0.1 years from 2015. This marks the first time it has decreased for two years in a row since 1962 and 1963 when influenza had a pronounced effect on the population…

The drop is being attributed to the opioid epidemic, which is causing a significant number of deaths as a result of overdose among young and middle-aged people — which, in turn, is having an impact on the average lifespan of the country as a whole.

But, hey, it makes a lot of money for Big Pharma. The creeps who own more politicians than any other lobbyists in corporate America.