Rouge Forum Dispatch: Of Course he is a Nut. But it’s Capital and Empire.

We Say Fight Back!

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More people would think for themselves if someone just told them to. – Alfred E. Neuman

An Officer’s Path To Dissent

For a while there, I was a real star. High up in my class at West Point, tough combat deployments in two wars, a slew of glowing evaluations, even a teaching assignment back at the military academy. I inhabited a universe most only dream of: praised, patted and highly respected by everyone in my life system and viewed as a brave American soldier. It’s a safe, sensible spot. For most, that’s enough. Too bad it was all bunk. Absurdity incarnate.

The truth is, I fought for next to nothing, for a country that, in recent conflicts, has made the world a deadlier, more chaotic place. Even back in 2011—or even 2006, for that matter—I was just smart and just sensitive enough to know that, to feel it viscerally.

Still, the decision to publicly dissent is a tough one. It’s by no means easy. Easy would be to go on playing hero and accepting adulation while staying between the lines. Play it safe, stick to your own, make everyone proud. That’s easy, intellectually immature—the new American way.

When you take the journey of dissent, you lose friends, alienate family, confuse confidants and become a lonely voice in your professional world. I’ve spent years sitting in military classrooms from West Point to Fort Knox to Fort Leavenworth as the odd man, the outlier, the confusing character in the corner. It’s like leaving the church, becoming an atheist, all while still living in the monastery. Still, the truth is that the military is more accommodating than one might suspect. I wrote a critical book, published some skeptical articles, but it’s not as though anyone ever outright threatened me. The pressure is different, more subtle: veiled warnings from superiors, cautious advice from mentors.

I waited too long. I admit as much. Maybe I needed a decade to stew, or perhaps my brief sojourn in civilian graduate school shook something loose. Nonetheless, a few years back, the emotional weight was unbearable and out poured the dissenting waves.

Looking back, I can just about see my own path—what I saw, how it felt—and trace the guideposts and way points on the road to a spiritual and intellectual rebirth. The images flicker, mental fragments that explain my wayward trek to dissension.

In Baghdad, I saw chaos unleashed, watched a sectarian civil war unfold, witnessed the strife our ill-advised, unprepared invasion unleashed. We were terrified voyeurs to the tragedy playing out before us. Militias left gruesome bodies in the streets for us to find. The Sunnis cut off heads, the Shiites preferred power drills to the temples and joints. Both sides attacked us. Through it all, locals treated us to stories of how matters had been betterunder the secular brutality of Saddam Hussein.

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Publicly, We Say #MeToo. Privately, We Have Misgivings.

you can be sure that this weekend at the Golden Globes, Hollywood celebrities, not exactly known for their independent thinking, will turn the red carpet into a #MeToo moment replete with designer duds. Many have promised to wear black dresses to protest the stream of allegations against industry moguls and actors. Perhaps Meryl Streep will get grilled — again — about what she knew about Harvey Weinstein. The rest of us will diligently follow along on Twitter, sharing hashtags and suitably pious opprobrium.

But privately, I suspect, many of us, including many longstanding feminists, will be rolling our eyes, having had it with the reflexive and unnuanced sense of outrage that has accompanied this cause from its inception, turning a bona fide moment of moral accountability into a series of ad hoc and sometimes unproven accusations.

For many weeks now, the conversation that has been going on in private about this reckoning is radically different from the public one. This is not a good sign, suggesting the sort of social intimidation that is the underside of a culture of political correctness, such as we are increasingly living in.

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The Increasing Unfitness of Donald Trump

The West Wing has come to resemble the dankest realms of Twitter, in which everyone is racked with paranoia and everyone despises everyone else.

What made the Emperor Nero tick, Suetonius writes in “Lives of the Caesars,” was “a longing for immortality and undying fame, though it was ill-regulated.” Many Romans were convinced that Nero was mentally unbalanced and that he had burned much of the imperial capital to the ground just to make room for the construction of the Domus Aurea, a gold-leaf-and-marble palace that stretched from the Palatine to the Esquiline Hill. At enormous venues around the city, he is said to have sung, danced, and played the water organ for many hours—but not before ordering the gates locked to insure that the house would remain full until after the final encore. Driven half mad by Nero’s antics, Romans feigned death or shimmied over the walls with ropes to escape.

Chaotic, corrupt, incurious, infantile, grandiose, and obsessed with gaudy real estate, Donald Trump is of a Neronic temperament. He has always craved attention. Now the whole world is his audience. In earlier times, Trump cultivated, among others, the proprietors and editors of the New York tabloids, Fox News, TMZ, and the National Enquirer. Now Twitter is his principal outlet, with no mediation necessary.

The President recently celebrated the holidays at Mar-a-Lago, the Domus Aurea of Palm Beach, and nearly every day, before setting out for the golf course, he thumbed his bilious contempt for . . . such a long list! Science itself did not escape his scorn:

In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

Future scholars will sift through Trump’s digital proclamations the way we now read the chroniclers of Nero’s Rome—to understand how an unhinged emperor can make a mockery of republican institutions, undo the collective nervous system of a country, and degrade the whole of public life.

NYPD Cop Tells All

This cop has some words of wisdom…

Posted by Police The Police on Sunday, December 31, 2017

Opportunity Detroit

The city’s east and west sides bear the scars of this process most starkly. In 2015, the rate of jobs to residents was around one to ten; since 2005, more than one in three homes has been foreclosed; since 2013, more than one hundred thousand residents have had their water shut off; since DPD’s overhaul, these neighborhoods have endured a series of violent drug raids, many of them botched, while nevertheless having to wait over an hour for emergency services to respond.

Some acknowledge the rampant inequality that marks Detroit’s so-called rebirth: the phrase “Two Detroits” has its own Huffington PostarticleVice documentary, Urban Institute study, and Tumblr blog. It also formed the basis of Coleman Young Jr’s recent mayoral campaign.

But observers tend to frame the problem as too little — not too much — capitalism. As the Atlantic put it, “Gilbert’s (and the city’s) next big challenge is to spread this success to Detroit’s sprawling outer neighborhoods, many devastated by abandonment.” Rather than decry a political-economic system that has time and again ravaged Detroit’s working class, Heaster Wheeler, former executive director of the city’s NAACP branch, has called on a new generation of black entrepreneurs to solve the city’s problems, dubbing them the “Black Dan Gilberts.”

Yet investment and dispossession are not two separate phenomena. They are two elements of the same process. Downtown revitalization doesn’t go on in spite of neighborhood deprivation  — it depends on these deprivations. In short, the problem is not that there are Two Detroits. The problem is that there is One Detroit that operates according to the needs of business.

Detroit has become a living illustration of one of the dynamics of capitalism, in which wealth accrues at one pole of society in direct proportion to the poverty and misery that concentrate at the other.


Stop the Greedy Clown

This great video by Patriotic Millionaires outlines how McDonald's profit-at-any-cost business model lowers standards across the board and workers suffer. #FightFor15

Posted by Fight for $15 on Saturday, October 21, 2017


The Little Red Schoolhouse

The Year San Diego Unified Established Itself as the Agency Most Hostile to Transparency

Over the last year, through outright denials or staggeringly slow responses to public records requests, refusals to discuss important decisions and misleading public statements, the district established itself as the public agency most hostile to transparency in San Diego.

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What Teachers Think About During Staff Meetings

Nailed it! 😂-with Devin Siebold – Comedian/TeacherWatch the original & other hilarious videos on his YT:

Posted by Bored Teachers on Monday, December 11, 2017

San Ysidro School District sued (again)

 Legal problems continue to mount for the San Ysidro School District over the $400,000 severance package it gave to former superintendent Julio Fonseca earlier this year.

Former superintendant’s $400,000 severance pay issue unresolved

Alexis Rodriguez

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On December 15, public watchdog group San Diegans for Open Government sued the district, Fonseca, and the board of trustees for violating state meeting laws when it approved the package. It was the third lawsuit filed against the district this year.

 Trouble began in January 2015 when the district, at Fonseca’s urging, fired Enrique Gonzalez. Gonzalez had allegedly seen Fonseca out on a date with Alexis Rodriguez, a woman who had recently been hired at San Ysidro School District. Gonzalez then discovered that Fonseca had failed to notify the board of their relationship before he lobbied for her employment. Gonzalez was fired. But, before he was, Fonseca and other boardmembers agreed to give him $113,000 in severance pay.

Fast-forward to September 1 of this year, Fonseca suddenly resigned over a personnel issue. On that night, trustees for the district held a closed-door meeting wherein they discussed terminating an employee (read: Fonseca) as well the approval of a “separation package” with the newly retired superintendent.


As Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting of Capital and Empire

At Wright State University in Ohio, the French horn and tuba professors are out. So is the accomplished swimming team.

At Kansas State, Italian classes are going the way of the Roman Empire.

And at the University of Central Missouri, The Muleskinner, the biweekly campus newspaper, is publishing online-only this year, saving $35,000 in printing costs.

Just as many universities believed that the financial wreckage left by the 2008 recession was behind them, campuses across the country have been forced to make new rounds of cuts, this time brought on, in large part, by a loss of international students.

Schools in the Midwest have been particularly hard hit — many of them non-flagship public universities that had come to rely heavily on tuition from foreign students, who generally pay more than in-state students.

The downturn follows a decade of explosive growth in foreign student enrollment, which now tops 1 million at United States colleges and educational training programs, and supplies $39 billion in revenue. International enrollment began to flatten in 2016, partly because of changing conditions abroad and the increasing lure of schools in Canada, Australia and other English-speaking countries.

The International Hot War of the Rich on the Poor

Carl Vinson Strike Group Deploying to Western Pacific: Sailors beware! Dodge’em boats coming!

The Navy announced Wednesday the Carl Vinson Strike Group is scheduled to depart San Diego on Friday for a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific.

The strike group’s 6,000 sailors will depart aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and guided-missile destroyers USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).

The Carl Vinson Strike Group previously completed a six-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region last June and was the first in recent history under U.S. 3rd Fleet’s command and control. The strike group will again operate under the command and control of Third Fleet Forward.

 The Michael Murphy is based in Hawaii and will later join the strike group as it transits toward the Western Pacific.

Strike group ships and units will provide maritime security, maintain freedom of the seas in accordance with international law and customs, and operate with international partners and allies to promote regional stability and prosperity.

The International Economic War of the Rich on the Poor


The US has reached the last stage before collapse

In The History of the Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon luridly evokes the Rome of 408 A.D., when the armies of the Goths prepared to descend upon the city.

The marks of imperial decadence appeared not only in grotesque displays of public opulence and waste, but also in the collapse of faith in reason and science.

The people of Rome, Gibbon writes, fell prey to “a puerile superstition” promoted by astrologers and to soothsayers who claimed “to read in the entrails of victims the signs of future greatness and prosperity.”

Would a latter-day Gibbon describe today’s America as “decadent”? I recently heard a prominent, and pro-American, French thinker (who was speaking off the record) say just that.

Investors should be ‘terrified’ about the ‘exponential’ risk associated with Dow 25,000, analyst says

  • Despite the Dow’s rise above 25K, MBMG’s Paul Gambles says concerted worldwide growth was seen during previous financial crises and therefore the current risk to investors is “exponential.”
  • President Trump has touted the market’s surge throughout his presidency, unlike his predecessors. Since his inauguration on Jan. 20, Trump has tweeted about the stock market more than 50 times.

Upgrade your jail cell – for a price

Some people convicted of serious crimes pay for better digs

..Wurtzel, who also had been convicted of sexual battery in a previous case, found a better option: For $100 a night, he was permitted by the court to avoid county jail entirely. He did his time in Seal Beach’s small city jail, with amenities that included flat-screen TVs, a computer room and new beds. He served six months, at a cost of $18,250, according to jail records.

Markin learned about Wurtzel’s upgraded jail stay only recently, from a reporter. “I feel like, ‘Why did I go through this?’” she said.

In what is commonly called “pay-to-stay” or “private jail,” a constellation of small city jails — at least 26 of them in Los Angeles and Orange counties — open their doors to defendants who can afford the option. But what started out as an antidote to overcrowding has evolved into a two-tiered justice system that allows people convicted of serious crimes to buy their way into safer and more comfortable jail stays.

The Emergence of Fascism as a Popular Mass Movement and The War on Reason

The Biggest Secret

My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror

James Risen…I believe my willingness to fight the government for seven years may make prosecutors less eager to force other reporters to testify about their sources. At the same time, the Obama administration used my case to destroy the legal underpinnings of the reporter’s privilege in the 4th Circuit, which means that if the government does decide to go after more reporters, those reporters will have fewer legal protections in Virginia and Maryland, home to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, and thus the jurisdiction where many national security leak investigations will be conducted. That will make it easier for Donald Trump and the presidents who come after him to conduct an even more draconian assault on press freedom in the United States.

The battles over national security reporting in the years after 9/11 have yielded mixed results. In my view, the mainstream media has missed some key lessons from the debacle over WMD reporting before the war in Iraq. Times reporter Judy Miller became an easy scapegoat, perhaps because she was a woman in the male-dominated field of national security reporting. Focusing on her made it easier for everyone to forget how widespread the flawed pre-war reporting really was at almost every major media outlet. “They wanted a convenient target, someone to blame,” Miller told me recently. The anti-female bias “was part of it.” She notes that one chapter in her 2015 memoir, “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey,” is titled “Scapegoat.”

Since then, I believe the Times, the Washington Post and other national news organizations have sometimes hyped threats from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The exaggerated reporting on terrorism, in particular, has had a major political impact in the United States and helped close off debate in Washington over whether to significantly roll back some of the most draconian counterterrorism programs, like NSA spying.


Roy Moore accuser Tina Johnson ‘loses everything’ after home burns down in suspected arson

The home of Tina Johnson, one of the women who accused former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of inappropriate sexual contact, has been burned down in a suspected arson.

As reported, the Tuesday morning fire that burned almost all of Johnson’s home in Gadsden, Alabama is under investigation by the Etowah County Arson Task Force.

Though all their belongings were destroyed in the fire, Johnson, her husband and their grandson that lives with them were all out of the house when the fire was set.

“I am devastated, just devastated,” Johnson said. “We have just the clothes on our backs.”!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/gallery_1200/vietnam-war-marine-tank-1968.jpg

Behind the Phoenix Program: The NYT apologia for mass murder

In late December 1967, the government of South Vietnam announced a reorganization of its war effort against the country’s Communist insurgency. Effective immediately, all South Vietnamese counterinsurgency activities became part of a new program known as Phuong Hoang, a reference to a magical bird associated with royalty and power in Vietnamese and Chinese cultural traditions. In response to the South Vietnamese move, American officials in Vietnam began referring to their own counterinsurgency coordination efforts by the name that they deemed the closest Western analogue to the mythical creature: Phoenix.

The Phoenix program would become one of the most controversial aspects of America’s war in Vietnam. Sponsored by the C.I.A., Phoenix used paramilitary teams to target undercover Communist operatives in villages throughout South Vietnam. Witnesses claimed that members of the program’s teams and their American advisers routinely carried out torture, murders and assassinations, accusations that American officials denied.

To date, the debate over Phoenix has focused mainly on the roles played by the C.I.A. and individual Americans in the program. But a vast majority of Phoenix personnel — soldiers, interrogators and analysts — were Vietnamese. Exploring the South Vietnamese role in Phoenix offers alternative perspectives on its origins and significance.

Nationwide, police shot and killed nearly 1,000 people in 2017

For the third year in a row, police nationwide shot and killed nearly 1,000 people, a grim annual tally that has persisted despite widespread public scrutiny of officers’ use of fatal force.

Police fatally shot 987 people last year, or two dozen more than they killed in 2016, according to an ongoing Washington Post database project that tracks the fatal shootings. Since 2015, The Post has logged the details of 2,945 shooting deaths, culled from local news coverage, public records and social-media reports.

While many of the year-to-year patterns remain consistent, the number of unarmed black males killed in 2017 declined from two years ago. Last year, police killed 19, a figure tracking closely with the 17 killed in 2016. In 2015, police shot and killed 36 unarmed black males.

Fujimori Pardoned After Peru’s President Survives Impeachment Vote

In Peru, former President Alberto Fujimori was supposed to spend 25 years in prison for human rights abuses. Instead, Fujimori was recently pardoned by Peru’s current president because he’s sick with a degenerative disease. After the pardon, Fujimori asked his countrymen for forgiveness, but many of them are not in a forgiving mood. The pardon has sparked protests throughout Peru.

Education and the Shining Path


Solidarity for Never

Judge grants Project Veritas a victory over Michigan teachers union

A federal judge in Detroit on Wednesday lifted the temporary restraining order a major teachers union won against the conservative group Project Veritas and denied a request for a preliminary injunction.

A Wayne County circuit judge in September blocked Project Veritas, a group run by provocateur James O’Keefe, from disclosing videos of other information it obtained in an undercover operation carried out against the American Federation of Teachers chapter in Detroit.

AFT Michigan alleged that Project Veritas operative Marisa Jorge used the name Marissa Perez and posed as a University of Michigan student to gain access to the chapter as an intern. The group claimed Jorge “unlawfully accessed and transmitted proprietary and confidential information and engaged in unlawful and unauthorized surveillance of” employees.

Spy versus Spy

Q&A: Edward Snowden on rights, privacy, secrets and leaks in conversation

  1. ‘We’re becoming less citizens and more subjects.’
  2. ‘Privacy’s not about having something to hide, privacy’s about something to protect.’
  3. ‘There would be no place to hide if this government ever became a tyranny’
  4. ‘We have ultimately diminished the meaning of rights in the United States’
  5. ‘Rights are for the powerless…They’re for the weak’

WikiTribune founder and CEO Jimmy Wales recently interviewed former CIA employee Edward Snowden, whose revelations in 2013 exposed global surveillance programs, many run by the U.S. National Security Agency with the cooperation of other governments and telecommunications companies.

…They were collecting the phone records, the internet records, all this transactional information about people’s private activities: the most intensely intimate and private details of their daily life, without any regard to whether or not they were actually criminal, without any regard to whether there was any problem caused for suspecting they were involved in any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Instead, they had developed this new model.

They call it the “collect it all” model (The Guardian), where they collect everything they can about every innocent person, so that they have a bucket of everybody in the world’s private lives that they can then later sort through and search through at their leisure, if you ever do come to their interest. If you become interesting, they have a kind of surveillance time machine, where they can wind it back, depending on the type of content, the size of it, anywhere from three days to about five years.

Q&A: Edward Snowden on rights, privacy, secrets and leaks in conversation with Jimmy Wales

The Magical Mystery Tour

The Starvation Army: Twelve reasons to reject the Salvation Army

The Starvation Army: Twelve reasons to reject the Salvation Army

Robot rings Starvation Army kettle at Oakland Mall

Volunteer bell ringers at Salvation Army red kettles are a familiar sight for shoppers during the holiday season.

This year, members of a high school robotics team in Troy put their own spin on the annual fundraising tradition with a bell-ringing robot they designed.

The robot was put to the test Friday evening just inside the valet entrance at Oakland Mall.

“We love it. You see reactions from utter amazement to ‘what is this?,’” Captain Peter Mount of the Salvation Army said Friday evening. “You’re used to seeing a person standing there ringing the bell and now you have a robot that’s doing it. That’s absolutely incredible.”

It took a team of 15 students from Troy Athens and Troy High schools about two weeks to build the robot that moves on wheels, said Gurish Sharma, a 10th grader at Troy High School and member of the team, known as the Hammerheads.

The Best and Worst Things in the History of the World

A Timeline of 1968: The Year That Shattered America

The nation is still reckoning with the changes that came in that fateful year

January 30

January 15

January 30

North Vietnamese insurgents launch the Tet Offensive. The assault contradicts the Johnson administration’s claims that the communist forces are weak and the U.S.-backed south is winning the war.
Read more:

Amateur sleuths believe newly released D.B. Cooper letter confirms hijacking suspect in San Diego

a 1971 letter believed to have been written by Cooper and sent to news outlets after the skyjacking has led Colbert’s team back to a likely suspect — Vietnam War veteran Robert W. Rackstraw Sr. of San Diego, who was investigated by the FBI in the late 1970s.

Colbert insists that the FBI refuses to pursue Rackstraw again because it would have to admit that amateur sleuths had cracked a case the bureau couldn’t, Oregon Live reported. (video inside)

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Lock ’em ALL up! Amid Calls from Trump, F.B.I. Renews Questions Over Clinton Foundation

F.B.I. agents have renewed asking questions about the dealings of the Clinton Foundation amid calls from President Trump and top Republicans for the Justice Department to take a fresh look at politically charged accusations of corruption.

People familiar with the F.B.I.’s steps said on Friday that agents have interviewed people connected to the foundation about whether any donations were made in exchange for political favors while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Career prosecutors shut down that investigation in 2016 for lack of evidence.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump branded his rival “Crooked Hillary” and promised to send her to jail if he won. He briefly struck a more magnanimous tone after the election, however, and said he had no interest in pushing for a prosecution.


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