Friday: The Immoral Minority

While philosopher Slavoj Žižek isn’t everybody’s cup of quirky tea, he’s got a valid point in this video.

The right-wing has abandoned its claim to be the Moral Majority.

Don’t mistake this as a validation of the Democratic Party here in the U.S.; they are only earning a majority in terms of politics, and in no small part by being the “Not GOP” party. With its leadership cozying up to war criminals, climate denialists and fossil fuel-based polluters, and general denigrators both of human rights and the public commons, they are not the Moral Majority by default.

But an unorganized left in this country rejects the right-wing’s ethical decay implicitly underpinning the Republican Party. The left rejects those values which undermine democracy — misogyny, racism and marginalization of other minorities, the ongoing subversion of individuals’ rights to promote the interests of corporations.

A true Moral Majority won’t support a social contract undermining democracy by limiting life, liberty, and happiness’ pursuit to a narrow few. It’s well past time for the broader left to coalesce into an organized entity based upon the belief that all humans are created equal and deserving a more perfect union.

Zapped by Zika

  • “ZIKA VIRUS | Days since White House funding request: 186 | Funding response from Congress: $0 | Zika cases in US and territories: 8,580” (Tweet, Dan Diamond/Politico)
  • Peter robbed to pay Paul: DHHS pulls money from other projects to fund Zika vaccine research (Reuters) — Lacking new dedicated funding from Congress, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services squeezed out $81 million and spread it into Zika vaccine research, with $34 million of that to the National Institutes of Health and $47 million to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The white House had asked for $1.9 billion last fall for Zika, but that amount was pared down by 42%; Republicans then objected to any of the remaining portion going to Planned Parenthood, putting Democrats in a bind. Access to birth control is critically important to preventing Zika’s spread; access to abortion could prevent the birth of severely deformed infants who will live short, utterly miserable, and expensive lives.
  • Arthrogryposis — congenital joint defects — associated with Zika during pregnancy (The BMJ) — Dislocated and or misshaped knees, ankles, elbows, hips appeared in children born with other neurological defects found in Zika-infected fetuses. Further research is necessary to prove both the virus is causal and learn the mechanism by which the virus inflicts this damage in utero. The patients had been tested for other known causes of arthrogryposis — toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, rubella, syphilis, and HIV. All were negative.
  • First infant death due to Zika reported in Texas (KHOU) — The infant’s mother traveled to El Salvador during pregnancy where it is believed she contracted the virus.
  • Zika virus case confirmed in Monroe County, Michigan (Detroit Free Press) — But the method of infection is not clear (what?!). County health and state officials are working toward mosquito surveillance.

Wheels and steals

  • Millions of vehicles made from 1995 on vulnerable to keyless-remote hacking (USENIX) — Researchers at University of Birmingham and Kasper & Oswald GmbH presented a paper at the USENIX 2016 conference, showing more than 20 years’ worth of VW Group vehicles are hackable using inexpensive Arduino-based RF transceiver technology. Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Peugeot, Lancia, Opel, Renault, Ford and other makes relying on the Hitag2 access security method are similarly at risk. Researchers also looked at after-market keyless entry remotes for these and other vehicles; the cars for which these worked were also vulnerable. All vehicles tested appear to be those made for the European market, but the research noted the radio frequency differences — 315 MHz band in North America and the 433 MHz or 868 MHz band in Europe — used in remotes. The paper’s research team notified VW in November 2015 of their results; NXP Semiconductor, a manufacturer of Hitag2 remote technology, was also notified. NXP had already informed customers of the vulnerability in 2012 and has already improved device security.
  • Volkswagen suppressed news about keyless remote insecurity since 2013 (Bloomberg) — The same researchers from University of Birmingham and Kasper & Oswald GmbH had originally approached NXP Semiconductor and VW with their work in 2012 and 2013, respectively. VW sued and blocked release of their work; the paper was released this past week at USENIX only “after lengthy negotiations” and the removal of a single sentence which car thieves could use to easily crack the keyless remotes. A number of suspicious automobile thefts over the years may have relied on hacking remotes; will insurance companies look into these thefts and demand recovery from VW?
  • DOE grants Ford $6M for fuel cell research (Detroit Free Press) — Existing fuel cell technology has been too expensive for successful commercialization; the grant will be used to develop cheaper technology competitive with battery and internal combustion engines.

Longread: Geopolitics
FiveBooks.com interviewed former state department official and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Jennifer M. Harris, about geopolitics. She discusses the topic and offers five book recommendations about the same. Harris is the co-author of recently released War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft. Given her work as U.S. National Intelligence Council staff followed by work on economics under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, this interview might offer a preview to future statecraft.

Friday Jazz
It’s still Friday somewhere according to my clock. Try French performer Zaz, stage name for Isabelle Geffroy. If you like this ditty, preview more of her work on her channel on SoundCloud.

It’s been a hectic week here; next week doesn’t look any better, but I’ll aim to be here on Monday. Have a relaxing weekend!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
10 replies
  1. Frank Wilhoit says:

    A polity in which minorities have rights (as distinct from privileges extended upon sufferance) is NOT a democracy, it is something else, and it were best called by its name — if it had one.

    Democracy is the tyranny of the majority: neither less nor more nor other. In this time and place, the upper-case-Republicans are the lower-case-democrats, and vice versa. The difficulty is figuring out who the majority are. First-past-the-post elections have turned out to be a very poor instrument for making that measurement. But the real point is that if you even have to, or can, ask that question, then your polity has already failed.

  2. lefty665 says:

    They’re spraying the insecticide Naled in Wynwood in Miami to control Zika carrying mosquitoes there. Naled’s side effects include:
    .
    “Naled’s breakdown product DICHLORVOS (another organophosphate insecticide) interferes with prenatal brain development. In laboratory animals, exposure for just 3 days during pregnancy when the brain is growing quickly reduced brain size 15 percent.” http://nospray.org/naled-insecticide-fact-sheet/
    .
    “Reduced brain size”, another term for microcephaly? Where have we seen that before? Oh, Brazil where they put insecticide in the drinking water and the microcephaly rate is 10x-15x the roughly 1% rate found in other countries with Zika epidemics. Just a coincidence that distracts from the horror of Zika, right?
    .
    Is it possible the public health geniuses, both here and worldwide are actively employing “cures” that cause more harm than the disease? They have a mandate to “do something”.
    .
    In French Polynesia and Columbia Zika caused microcephaly in about 1% of babies of women infected in the 1st trimester. Maternal immune system response to infections of any kind at critical points of fetal development have been suspected as causes of ADHD and other conditions including autism spectrum disorders. Zika can undoubtedly trigger maternal immune system responses.
    .
    Here’s what’s happening in Miami: http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/pesticide-sprayed-over-wynwood-is-banned-in-europe-may-also-harm-fetuses-8671169
    Note that the Governor of Puerto Rico refused to allow Naled to be sprayed there and made CDC take it back.
    .
    Note too that Science magazine’s July 14th issue reports that South/Central America’s Zika epidemic is winding down and will end soon. Zika is running out of new people to infect, and “herd immunity” protects some of them.
    .
    Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” may be a good counterweight to Zika hysteria. There are worse things, many of them man made. It is worth reading (again), and free: http://library.uniteddiversity.coop/More_Books_and_Reports/Silent_Spring-Rachel_Carson-1962.pdf

  3. RUKidding says:

    Interesting video. Thanks. Unfamiliar with philosopher Slavoj Žižek , but I think he might be my cuppa. Been pondering things along similar lines. Well I don’t think we have a Moral MAJORITY anymore. What we may have – and this is arguable – is a moral MINORITY. I think most citizens have been pushed to be amoral, aggressive, hostile people by the prevailing propaganda wurlitzer. We hear/read/see/watch so much ugly stuff, not just Donald Trump, that it seeps into everyone’s consciousness on some level or another. I find myself, sometimes, approaching the seething with rage stage while happening to witness/read/see/watch the latest bullshit usually eminating from rightwing tv, hate radio, and similar.
    **
    Part of the issue is that everything is so unbalanced. The media is basically one-sided and pushes out craziness, anger, smears, attacks because it’s easy and it sells and generates revenue. Someone on another blog made the point that the so-called “political” shows are these round-table type of forums where “pundits” get on say bullshit, essentially. No one calls anyone on their bald-faced lies. No one refers to actual verifiable facts. It’s all he said, she said, some people say. The blogger stated that we should, instead, have shows that discuss politics in terms of what’s actually going on and possibly some recent history with footage of events, and so forth. Well, yes, that’s what SHOULD happen, but it ain’t gunna bc the propagandists don’t want us to learn facts.
    **
    I am struck by the hate/anger/nastiness displayed by some of Trump’s supporters. There’s footage of people randomly fipping the bird at the media and yelling ugly things. Of course, Trump protestors can also get ugly, too. I may have more sympathy for the latter than for the former, but it can be a nasty thing.
    **
    The rightwing, imo, was never ever the moral majority. They were labeled that to corral them into voting against their better interests and to make them feel like they were better than “others” in our nation. I’ve always been opposed to that label, but it was very cleverly used, of course. That’s how propaganda works.
    **
    There is no strong left in the USA and hasn’t been for a long long time. What passes for “Democrats” these days are mostly conservatives who are A-OK with endless war, look the other way when torture happens, ignore the fact the “nice guy” Obama has been stone cold droning hundreds of thousands in the ME during his whole term of office. Of course, then there’s Clinton, who is really a rightwing neocon neoliberal Republican passing herself off as a “Democrat.” No wonder the NeoCons are flocking to her. She didn’t have General Allen rant out his war-mongering tirade at her convention for no reason. It was a clarion call, if I ever heard one, for the rightwing NeoCons to jump on board her candidacy. And they are. And my allegedly “lefty” pals are telling me that I should be celebrating this.
    **
    Yes, a real election with a real choice should have been Sanders v Trump.
    **
    Coulda shoulda woulda.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m so sorry you didn’t get your ever-pure candidate.
      He would have been shredded by the GOP.

      • lefty665 says:

        @2:41 You’re in fantasy land. Here’s Chris Weigant, usually a Hillaryphile:
        .
        “All along I’ve been saying that Hillary’s campaign has been peddling one particular fantasy to her supporters, the idea that she will “get things done” because she’ll be so much better at “working with Congress” than that pie-in-the-sky dreamer Bernie Sanders (or, now, Donald Trump). She paints the picture of congressional compromise in glowing colors, and for the most part her supporters seem to believe it could become reality. I don’t, to put it mildly.
        .
        Who really thinks the Republicans in Congress are going to start working in good faith with President Hillary Clinton to get anything done? I’m not saying that Bernie Sanders would have been any better at this, mind you — I’ve always thought that any Democratic president will face exactly the same hostility from Republicans that Barack Obama has had to deal with from his first day in office. Who really believes that Hillary Clinton will be seen in a more positive light by all the Tea Partiers and their Republican enablers in both the House and Senate? “Gosh, we certainly gave Barack Obama a hard time,” they’re all supposed to suddenly realize, “so let’s show President Clinton how much we can get done together!” As I said, this is pure fantasy.”
        http://www.chrisweigant.com/2016/08/10/will-hillary-face-bills-mandate-problem/#more-12663
        .
        On a somber note, the Cold War revisited and the Neocon crusade to kill us all:
        .
        “But we do know that Hitlery is a warmonger, an agent of the neoconservatives, the military-security complex, the Israel Lobby, the banks too big to fail, Wall Street, and every foreign interest that will make a mega-million dollar donation to the Clinton Foundation or a quarter million dollar fee for a speech.

        Hitlery declared the President of Russia to be the Ultimate Threat—“the new Hitler.”

        Could it be any more clear? A vote for Hitlery is a vote for war. Despite this most obvious of all facts, the US media, united as one, are doing everything in their power to drive Trump into the ground and to elect Hitlery.

        What does this tell us about the intelligence of the “Unipower,” “the world’s only superpower,” the” indispensible people,” the “exceptional nation”? It tells us that they are as dumb as shit. Creatures of The Matrix created by their own propagandists, Americans see imaginary threats, not real ones.

        What the Russians and Chinese see are a people too brainwashed and ignorant to be of any support for peace. They see war coming and are preparing for it.”
        http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/08/11/rethinking-the-cold-war-paul-craig-roberts/

    • lefty665 says:

      Yeah, you got it. NeoCon and NeoLib describe Hillary pretty well, but they’re really too kind.
      .
      It was clear things were not going to go well with Allen from the first moment when he pointedly reminded us how many stars he had. It was a Trump and the size of his hands moment. The jingoistic hall full of flag waving, red white & blue USA cards and chants were even less attractive coming from Dems than the Repubs.
      .
      Trump and Clinton are equally horrid, but in different ways. Some of us are voting Green this year. A political revolution starts with a single step to the ballot box.

      • jo6pac says:

        Some of us are voting Green this year. A political revolution starts with a single step to the ballot box.

        Thank you very true

  4. jo6pac says:

    The time is very near.

    https://www.engadget.com/2016/01/22/hondas-hydrogen-car-costs-500-a-month-if-you-can-find-one/
    The above Honda can run a normal size house for 3 days during a power outage.

    BMW is in this plan also.
    http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2013/01/ford_daimler_nissan_to_researc.html

    Honda made one for peoples home that plugs into 110v and a water hose. Toyota and Honda have some installed already in Southern Calif. that are solar and water.

    http://www.autonews.com/article/20160530/OEM06/305309986/here-come-the-hydrogen-stations

    I do believe Aston Martin raced a car this yr at Le Mans that was hydrogen, they did make it fuel outside of the normal pit area.

  5. P J Evans says:

    lefty, I know you’ve been here a long time, but you’re the one who’s out in la-la land. Not just in politics, but in science, also.

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