Friday, October 3, 2014

Is A New Age Of Pressure Upon Us? - 7

The gravity of climate change
Bad scientific practices eventually become obvious, sometimes by the scientists who recognize their own mistakes (Brain Genetics Paper Retracted).

At other times the Internet can  be a useful tool for exposing such mistakes (The Web Engenders Good Scientific Scepticism).

Self review and external criticism are both useful at times, but self realization gets the most attention since it is so rare (The Conversion of a Climate-Change Sceptic).

We can hope that those who call themselves climate scientists, but who are quacks, will do the same.

The reason that is less likely to happen in the global warming realm of that small group is that they are intellectually dishonest.

The sophistication of satellites that circle the globe quickly to report what cannot be reported by scientists riding about on a dog sled at the poles is overwhelming:
The planet's two largest ice sheets – in Greenland and Antarctica – are now being depleted at an astonishing rate of 120 cubic miles each year. That is the discovery made by scientists using data from CryoSat-2, the European probe that has been measuring the thickness of Earth's ice sheets and glaciers since it was launched by the European Space Agency in 2010.

Even more alarming, the rate of loss of ice from the two regions has more than doubled since 2009, revealing the dramatic impact that climate change is beginning to have on our world.
(How Fifth Graders Calculate Ice Volume - 5). Another satellite which measures the Earth's gravity chimes in to tell us more:
West Antarctica has lost so much ice between 2009 and 2012 that the gravity field over the region dipped, according to an announcement Friday from the European Space Agency (ESA). The conclusion is based on high-resolution measurements from satellites that map Earth’s gravity.

The gravitational fluctuation over the Antarctic Peninsula is small, but it’s further evidence that melting ice is fundamentally changing parts of the planet. (Discover, Antarctic Ice Melt is Changing Earth’s Gravity)

Although not designed to map changes in Earth’s gravity over time, ESA’s extraordinary satellite has shown that the ice lost from West Antarctica over the last few years has left its signature.

More than doubling its planned life in orbit, GOCE spent four years measuring Earth’s gravity in unprecedented detail.

Scientists are now armed with the most accurate gravity model ever produced. This is leading to a much better understanding of many facets of our planet – from the boundary between Earth’s crust and upper mantle to the density of the upper atmosphere.

The strength of gravity at Earth’s surface varies subtly from place to place owing to factors such as the planet’s rotation and the position of mountains and ocean trenches.

Changes in the mass of large ice sheets can also cause small local variations in gravity.

Recently, the high-resolution measurements from GOCE over Antarctica between November 2009 and June 2012 have been analysed by scientists from the German Geodetic Research Institute, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the Jet Propulsion Lab in USA and the Technical University of Munich in Germany. (ESA, GOCE)
What happens after the ice sheet melts or slides into the ocean is that mass is redistributed around the globe (ice becomes water or displaces water before it melts), changing the pressures on the Earth's crust (Is A New Age Of Pressure Upon Us?, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Scientists who are knowledgeable in this area of science have been able to make successful predictions about the affect ice sheet melt can have on crustal dynamics (Global Warming & Volcanic Eruptions).

Deniers can't do helpful things like that because they suffer from the dementia of denial, a symptom studied by the discipline of Agnotology (Agnotology: The Surge, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

A 1958 video which shows we went into the catastrophe with our "eyes wide open."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Will Humans Evolve Into Machines? - Revisited

On this date in 2009 I contemplated some of the efforts of the 1% to free themselves from what was to come, then moved it to Ecocosmology Blog (Will Humans Evolve Into Machines?).

It is interesting, as that post points out, that several very wealthy people pay the big bucks to research that question.

Since then the melt of the polar ice caps has doubled (How Fifth Graders Calculate Ice Volume - 5),  so Oil-Qaeda is more nervous now than they were back then.

There is a lot of talk about going to Mars.

Anyway, here is the text from that post:

Tenet 3(f) of Ecocosmology recognizes that if the human species morphs or evolves into a species that does not depend on central stars with habitable planets orbiting them, the need for infinite nomadic travel from solar system to solar system can be avoided.

This blog also questioned the issue of machines in the scheme of evolution in a post Putting a Face on Machine Mutation a while back.

The notion of evolution into machines seems like science fiction, however, some serious and viable scientists think human evolution into machines is the only viable reality for survival of the human species:
In a futuristic mode similar to Hawking, both Steven Dick, chief NASA historian and Carnegie-Mellon robotics pundit, Hans Moravec, believe that human biological evolution is but a passing phase: the future of mankind will be as vastly evolved sentient machines capable of self-replicating and exploring the farthest reaches of the Universe programmed with instructions on how to recreate earth life and humans to target stars.

Dick believes that if there is a flaw in the logic of the Fermi Paradox, and extraterrestrials are a natural outcome of cosmic evolution, then cultural evolution may have resulted in a post-biological universe in which machines are the predominant intelligence.
(Space Colonization). In the post Putting a Face on Machine Mutation linked to above, there is a discussion about machines evolving into biotic organisms many millions of years ago:
"Our cells, and the cells of all organisms, are composed of molecular machines. These machines are built of component parts, each of which contributes a partial function or structural element to the machine. How such sophisticated, multi-component machines could evolve has been somewhat mysterious, and highly controversial." Professor Lithgow said.
"François Jacob described evolution as a tinkerer, cobbling together proteins of one function to yield more complex machines capable of new functions." Professor Lithgow said.

"Our work describes a perfect example of Jacob's proposition, and shows that Darwin's theory of evolution beautifully explains how molecular machines came to be."
(Science Daily, emphasis added; cf Putting A Face On Machine Mutation - 4). But wouldn't reverse evolution from biological human back into machines violate Dollo's law? Isn't reverse evolution illegal? Note:
The Belgian biologist Louis Dollo was the first scientist to ponder reverse evolution. “An organism never returns to its former state,” he declared in 1905, a statement later dubbed Dollo’s law.
(NY Times). Well, that throws a monkey wrench into the equation doesn't it?

Wouldn't you know that some futurists are claiming that only the rich will evolve into machines as a separate species?

Can The First Bank of Reincarnation be far behind?

Noam Chomsky on scientific issues, such as Artificial intelligence, etc. ...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Did The Mass Extinctions Do To Viruses and Microbes?

The Wikipedia graph to the left shows 5 high peaks we call mass extinction events, with smaller ones that were not massive enough to be in the top five.

Wikipedia describes these events: "An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the amount of life on Earth. Such an event is identified by a sharp change in the diversity and abundance of macroscopic life. It occurs when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation. Because the majority of diversity and biomass on Earth is microbial, and thus difficult to measure, recorded extinction events affect the easily observed, biologically complex component of the biosphere rather than the total diversity and abundance of life" (Extinction event).

Notice that "macroscopic life" is used as the measuring stick, because "microscopic life" (virus, microbe) is not found easily, if at all, in the fossil record.

Our science tells us that viruses and microbes lived through all of these mass extinctions (Viroids: Survivors from the RNA World?).

However, we are not told what affects the mass extinctions had on them.

Probably because it has not yet been sufficiently considered.

We are only recently discovering much about what the Wikipedia article above mentioned:
"... the majority of diversity and biomass on Earth is microbial, and thus difficult to measure, recorded extinction events affect the easily observed, biologically complex component of the biosphere rather than the total diversity and abundance of life ..."
(ibid, "Extinction Event"). If you read that closely our science considers extinction events in the context of the few species that are large enough to leave a trail we can follow easily, but does not consider the affects mass extinctions have had on by far the most abundant species: viruses and microbes.

Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has contemplated the impact of mass extinctions on microbes and viruses:
Recently, scientists discovered that even humans and microbes are symbionts, and in fact humans can not reproduce without them.

One can surmise that the K-T boundary extinction event was globally traumatic, since ~90% of land species, including dinosaurs, bit the extinction dust, as did perhaps ~50% of ocean species.

How did the remaining microbes react?

Since the utter destruction and catastrophe caused by the K-T boundary extinction was globally extreme, the microbes that survived would have been extremist types for the most part, otherwise they would have been unable to exist in those new extreme conditions.

The subsequent extreme events of taking over control of mammalian female placenta, establishing a virgin species, or perhaps engendering the adaptability of newts, may have been microbial reactions to the extreme trauma of the K-T boundary extinction event.

The spurious activity caused by any such trauma may explain why not all mammals, for example the rabbit, need those microbes to reproduce.

Evidence, in the form of the oldest rabbit fossil yet found, shows that it originated after the time of the K-T extinction event.

The rabbit, and species close to it, are not like other mammals such as the gorilla, monkey, orangutan, or human, which must have microbe (viral) help in order to reproduce via a functional placenta.
(Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD?). When 50% to 90% of the creatures that microbes and viruses interacted with suffered apocalyptic death, there was no doubt some form of stress.

We know that microbial life has flip-flopped from time to time, from pathogen to mutualist, which is in accord with life changing stressful events:
Like pretty much all multi-cellular organisms, humans enjoy the benefits of helpful bacteria. (As you may have heard, there are more bacteria in the human body than cells.) These mutualistic microbes live within the body of a larger organism, and, like any good long-term house guest, help out their hosts, while making a successful life for themselves. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

Scientists still don’t understand exactly how these relationships began, however. To find out, a team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, used protein markers to create a detailed phylogenic tree of life for 405 taxa from the Proteobacteria phylum—a diverse group that includes pathogens such as salmonella as well as both mutualistic and free-living species.

Those analyses revealed that mutualism in Proteobacteria independently evolved between 34 to 39 times, the researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  The team was a bit surprised to find that this happened so frequently, inferring that evolution apparently views this lifestyle quite favorably.

Their results also show that mutualism most often arises in species that were originally parasites and pathogens.
(Communicating With The Underworld). Humans are the same way, in the sense that they will become cannibals or worse in some stressful situations:
Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, also known as the Andes flight disaster and, in South America, as the Miracle of the Andes (El Milagro de los Andes) was a chartered flight carrying 45 people, including a rugby union team, their friends, family and associates, that crashed in the Andes on 13 October 1972. More than a quarter of the passengers died in the crash and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the 27 who were alive a few days after the accident, another eight were killed by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage. The last 16 survivors were rescued on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the crash.

The survivors had little food and no source of heat in the harsh conditions at over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) altitude. Faced with starvation and radio news reports that the search for them had been abandoned, the survivors fed on the dead passengers who had been preserved in the snow.
(Wikipedia, emphasis added). Like humans who are intelligent, viruses and microbes also exhibit a form of intelligence (The Intelligence of the Virus realm, The Intelligence of Plants).

Some of the microbes have been buried in sediments during these mass extinction events, and are still alive and "doing their thing":
The explanation is that deep life is able to proceed in extreme slow motion. This was illustrated by Price and Sowers (5), who compiled data from a wide range of environments. A typical metabolic rate of microorganisms in ecosystems on the surface of our planet, such as soil, lake water, or seawater, is 0.1 to 10 fmol C⋅cell−1⋅d−1, corresponding to 10−3 to 10−1 g C metabolized per gram cell C per hour (Fig. 1). The mean metabolic rate for deep subsurface bacteria is typically four orders of magnitude lower: 10−5 to 10−3 fmol C⋅cell−1⋅d−1 (6, 7), corresponding to 10−7 to 10−5 g C⋅g−1 cell C⋅h−1. Such numbers are calculated by counting all the microorganisms in a deep sediment core and dividing by the rate at which the main metabolic substrates or products are turning over in the bulk sediment. The process rates are determined from transport-reaction models of pore-water constituents or from direct experimental process measurements using sensitive radiotracer methods. The rationale for taking a mean of the entire microbial community is the assumption that most of the cells are actively engaged in the energy metabolism. This assumption is now strongly supported by the findings of Morono et al. (3).
(Deep Subseafloor Microbial Cells on Physiological Standby; cf Carbon & Nitrogen Assimilation in Deep Subseafloor Microbes). They know or detect that something happened to bury them, so, they do what they can to survive ... they wait or adapt ... in very, very slow motion.

Perhaps those of their kind who survived the mass extinctions on the surface "know" that human civilization has now evolved, and that humanity is afraid of them --and humans are therefore making war on them?

Perhaps that human policy will have worse consequences than diplomacy would have (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses - 11, The Intelligence of the Virus realm, The Intelligence of Plants).

Could it be that there are 40 trillion of the most populous and most experienced living things on this planet yelling "nuke 'em" -- like a few hundred of the tiny population of humans are?

Let's be mutualistic rather than pathogenic.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch - 4

Ten Thousand Species 52% Gone
The health of a civilization, in both mind and body, is fairly easy to discern.

At least that is so when the same criteria for diagnosing a nation is utilized.

Notable people have diagnosed large groups which we call nations.

One famous activist put it this way: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” - Mahatma Gandhi

A recent scientific report makes it all the more clear, as applied to civilization, how human greatness and moral progress is doing:
This latest edition of the Living Planet Report is not for the faint-hearted. One key point that jumps out and captures the overall picture is that the Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, has declined by 52 per cent since 1970. Put another way, in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half. These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems which sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to our own planet, our only home. We ignore their decline at our peril.
(Living Planet Report 2014, PDF, emphasis added; cf. Nature). There is no proper way to say we have destroyed over half of 10,000 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, except to say "we are very quickly committing omnicide (a.k.a. 'suicide')."

The bees, which are also essential to our global food endeavors, are in the emergency operating room too (Will We Destroy Food - The Bees? - 2).

In this series Dredd Blog has pointed out that nuclear war, global warming induced climate change, and habitat destruction are serious threats to human existence.

The graph just to the upper right (click to enlarge) shows a continuation of the graph at the top of today's post.

It graphs the current loss of 1.14 % per annum of the fauna population applied to the remaining 48% of fauna on the planet Earth.

Our current civilization is no different than those that have gone before us, those societies who committed suicide:
Historically, self-destruction is the common denominator for past human civilization, culture, and society:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). As regular readers know, I have posted Sigmund Freud's writings where he indicated that psychoanalysis of groups, including civilization itself, would not prove unproductive ...
(Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch). Human civilization is in grave danger of making true what the following three observers are quoted as saying:
One would say that [man] is destined to exterminate himself after having rendered the globe uninhabitable.” - Lamarck (1817)
The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this --hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension." - Sigmund Freud
I am reminded that there are two approaches to evolutionary concepts.

The original perspective, which is out of favor now, was that evolution has some purpose which fundamentally includes ever increasing improvement, a progressive dynamic, whereby everything improves with time (e.g. Change Is Not An Option - It Is A Must, The Fittest Stars, Planets, & Species).

Evolution and improvement are practically synonymous in that perspective.

The contrary perspective is that evolution just happens randomly with no particular end result or purpose programmed into it.

Noam Chomsky quotes Ernst Mayr, a notable evolutionist, on the latter version:
I'LL BEGIN with an interesting debate that took place some years ago between Carl Sagan, the well-known astrophysicist, and Ernst Mayr, the grand old man of American biology. They were debating the possibility of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. And Sagan, speaking from the point of view of an astrophysicist, pointed out that there are innumerable planets just like ours. There is no reason they shouldn't have developed intelligent life. Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it's very unlikely that we'll find any. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let's take a look at Earth. And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation ... you're just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won't find it here for very long either because it's just a lethal mutation ... With the environmental crisis, we're now in a situation where we can decide whether Mayr was right or not. If nothing significant is done about it, and pretty quickly, then he will have been correct: human intelligence is indeed a lethal mutation. Maybe some humans will survive, but it will be scattered and nothing like a decent existence, and we'll take a lot of the rest of the living world along with us.
(What Kind of Intelligence Is A Lethal Mutation?). Everyday I see on the mainstream media commentators laughing and giggling when they are discussing climate change or nuclear war.

Is it nervous laughter or are they in a trance (Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala)?

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine - 2

DNA is not biological
This series has been pointing out that the DNA, pictured in the graphic to the left, is the same as the DNA in you or me, viruses, and everything else that contains DNA.

That is, DNA is not alive, it is a molecular machine.

The same goes for RNA, it too is a molecular machine, as was pointed out in the first post of this series  (The New Paradigm: The Physical Universe Is Mostly Machine).

Why that would seem strange to us is revealing, in the sense that we tend not to know where we are or who we are (You Are Here).

Nevertheless, this knowledge of the basic cosmic nature is quite a normal concept, since carbon based life is said to have evolved very recently (by comparison to ancient stars) in our section of the universe, so, what is not a normal concept is our misunderstanding of the nature of RNA and DNA.

Why we deny the logical deduction, under the deductive reasoning compelled by Big Bang Cosmology, that abiotic machines evolved long before biotic organisms evolved.

Then those molecular machines morphed, mutated, or whatever evolutionary term you choose, into biotic organisms:
(see also The Uncertain Gene, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has pointed out this conundrum several times, and that the reason for it boils down to faith and trust rather than boiling down to knowledge (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?).

A new paper is getting around to discussing the dynamics of how machines became organisms:
Because RNA can be a carrier of genetic information and a biocatalyst, there is a consensus that it emerged before DNA and proteins, which eventually assumed these roles and relegated RNA to intermediate functions. If such a scenario—the so-called RNA world—existed, we might hope to find its relics in our present world. The properties of viroids that make them candidates for being survivors of the RNA world include those expected for primitive RNA replicons: (a) small size imposed by error-prone replication, (b) high G + C content to increase replication fidelity, (c) circular structure for assuring complete replication without genomic tags, (d) structural periodicity for modular assembly into enlarged genomes, (e) lack of protein-coding ability consistent with a ribosome-free habitat, and (f) replication mediated in some by ribozymes, the fingerprint of the RNA world. With the advent of DNA and proteins, those protoviroids lost some abilities and became the plant parasites we now know.
(Viroids: Survivors from the RNA World?, emphasis added). If the scientific jargon sometimes is not as pleasing to you as the layman's jargon, read about it in this piece:
New research suggests that [viroids already] existed at the earliest stages of life on Earth, enduring in their primitive state for billions of years. These are the pterodactyls of the microbial world — except that they are still very much with us. We just didn’t realize it.

Machinelike Bacteriophage T4
And [viroids] contain RNA, a single-stranded molecule similar to DNA. Among many other jobs, RNA carries the information for building proteins from a cell’s genes to its protein factories.

Many scientists have argued that before this kind of life emerged, life was based solely on RNA. RNA can store genetic information, but scientists have discovered that some RNA molecules also carry out chemical reactions. In other words, this single molecule might have been able to handle all the basic tasks required for life. Only later did DNA and proteins evolve.

At first, the proponents of the so-called RNA-world theory assumed that RNA-based life had become extinct long ago, driven to extinction with the arrival of superior DNA-based life. Researchers have relied only on indirect hints to infer what RNA-based life was like.

But in the current issue of Annual Reviews of Microbiology, a team of Spanish scientists argues that these primitive life forms share the planet with us today. “Viroids are probably relics of the RNA world,” said Santiago F. Elena, an evolutionary biologist at Spain’s National Research Council in València.
(NY Times, emphasis added). What makes the logic here more compelling is that scientists have struggled with the question "Are viruses alive?" for many, many years:
When is a life form not a life form? When it's a virus.

Viruses are strange things that straddle the fence between living and non-living. On the one hand, if they're floating around in the air or sitting on a doorknob, they're inert. They're about as alive as a rock. But if they come into contact with a suitable plant, animal or bacterial cell, they spring into action. They infect and take over the cell like pirates hijacking a ship.
Viruses are a curious lot. The standard drawing of the tree of life, the one you find on the inside back cover of biology textbooks, is divided into three branches: Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya. Viruses don’t make it onto the page.

That makes sense, some scientists argue, because they’re not alive. They can’t reproduce on their own; they require the cozy environment of living cells for their survival. Others disagree. Not only are viruses alive, they say, but genetic evidence indicates that they may have been the first forms of life on Earth, predating cellular life.
(Are Toxins of Power Machines or Organisms?). Viroids are all the more suspect as not being alive compared to viruses.

Something had to jump the gap from abiotic molecular machine to biotic organism, so RNA viruses and viroids are prime suspects.

Yes, "the plot thickeneth" as we begin to notice the most prolific dynamic on Earth - microbes, viruses, and virus-like entities.

Science and Religion ... gotta luv 'em.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

We are the Bored of Education ...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

How the Government and Private Elites Have Teamed Up for Decades to Astroturf America

Dean Acheson
Regular readers know that we have not had guest posts for some time.

Too long of a time.

Now that drought comes to an end.

This very interesting post by Louis Trager was also posted at History News Network recently, where the editors pointed out:  " ... a staff writer and editor for 30 years with metro dailies and national publications, earned a Yale J.D. and a Missouri journalism masters".

Anyway, Dredd Blog welcomes Mr. Trager and his guest post which follows:

Recently it was reported that a blue-ribbon, anti-Iran nonprofit is so well-connected that it may have been working intimately with the U.S. government behind the scenes. Journalist Glenn Greenwald wondered whether the group, United Against Nuclear Iran, is in fact a government front. That would hardly be as unusual as you'd think.

After serving as President Harry Truman's secretary of state, Dean Acheson reminisced that 1940s organizations he had supported -- the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies and the Citizens' Committee for the Marshall Plan -- were “uniquely and typically American.” Many groups engage in protest, Acheson noted, but “few organize privately to support Government, and fewer still to support policies and measures not directly beneficial to themselves or their group.”

My research discloses that these organizations, far from being extraordinary, were just the most famous of dozens of elite, bipartisan “citizens committees” that have secretly collaborated with the administration of the day, whether Democratic or Republican. The partnerships have skirted legal restrictions on official lobbying and covert propaganda, or violated them; a dearth of enforcement makes it hard to say which.

This pattern confounds conventional articles of faith about a pluralistic system founded on offsetting forces of government, business, and civil society, including contending Republican and Democratic parties. The pattern's duration contradicts beliefs that a robust and flourishing American democracy went sour sometime from the mid-1940s, when President Franklin Roosevelt died and the Cold War started, to 2010, when Obamacare and the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling on corporate speech were decided.

The heyday of government-allied committees corresponded to the rise and fall of the broad liberal-moderate social and political consensus of the 1940s to 1960s. A nervous President Lyndon Johnson was reassured in 1967 by his aide John Roche -- eager to manufacture the Citizens Committee for Peace with Freedom in Vietnam -- that over the previous two decades the assistant had helped organize “perhaps twenty” such private groups to support administration policies. “I will leave no tracks – for a man of my bulk, I can be remarkably invisible,” Roche boasted in a memo for LBJ's “eyes only.”

Year after year participants in these citizens committees came largely from the same pool of 250 people or so. The few dozen leading names among them included liberal political icons like Senator Paul Douglas, of Illinois; top executives like Studebaker's Paul Hoffman; Wall Street lawyers like William Donovan and financiers like Frank Altschul; theologians like Reinhold Niebuhr; labor chiefs like the garment workers' David Dubinsky; Hollywood moguls like Darryl Zanuck; nationally known writers like Rex Stout.

Citizens committees regularly came out on the winning side in mid-century battles that defined America's role in the world, and its character: for intervention in World War II and later the Dominican Republic and Vietnam; for creation of a U.S.-supported United Nations and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, postwar immigration policy, free-trade measures, and the Marshall Plan to rescue Europe economically; then onward to the construction of broad ongoing military and economic foreign-aid programs, the protection of the federal government's treaty prerogatives, the enormous U.S. Cold War military build-up as well as nuclear-arms limitations, and the tax cuts initiated by JFK that, with the Vietnam War, are blamed for stagflation in the late '60s.

The citizens committees were impeccably well-connected, especially to the press, many of whose barons – Binghams, Cowleses, Luce, Reids, Whitney – were stalwart endorsers themselves. But the committees' greatest clout came through organizations run by and for Wall Street and corporate players, particularly the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR, whose select membership supplied the vast majority of high-level officials in U.S. foreign and military policy for decades, has always disclaimed taking positions on issues. Yet William Bundy, editor of the Council's prestigious journal Foreign Affairs (1972-1984), acknowledged that CFR leaders were instrumental in the foundational committees that Acheson cited.

Citizens committees served as front and proprietary cover organizations for Central Intelligence Agency operations involving everything from propaganda to paramilitary operations. Some of these committees -- including the long-running American Committee for Cultural Freedom and the full-blown spectacle of the Crusade for Freedom, featuring a truck and train tour of a Freedom Bell fabricated for the purpose -- helped shape domestic opinion and policy.

Joseph McCarthy's 1954 censure by Senate colleagues was, in effect, his political downfall. It was orchestrated by the National Committee for an Effective Congress along with President Dwight Eisenhower's camp. The NCEC's Maurice Rosenblatt framed the operation as a revival of the World War II crusade against fascism -- in which he and other interventionists had spied on opponents, informed on them to the U.S. Justice Department, and produced bestselling exposés tying isolationists to Nazis. Scholars say this “Brown Scare” paved the way for the communist hunt that followed.

Syndicated newspaper columnist and consummate insider Joseph Kraft wrote in 1966 that the “Establishment coalition of Big Government, Big Labor, and Big Business that has dominated American foreign policy for the past quarter-century” had been assembled to support direct intervention in World War II. Midwestern Progressives who defected from the New Deal were replaced in FDR's governing alliance by “men of business and finance from Wall Street and State Street, Eastern Republicans in the main.” This new alignment was reflected, in 1939, in the first mutual-support arrangements between the executive branch and elite citizens committees, namely the Non-Partisan Committee for Peace and the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace. Before the war, a political gap and social gulf had generally separated interventionists, who were largely WASP Republicans, from New Dealers and social democrats, who were disproportionately Jewish.

Citizens committees – interlocked and cooperating with standing liberal organizations like Americans for Democratic Action and the AFL-CIO -- helped cement the dominance of the new alliance far beyond foreign affairs. “A strange hybrid, liberal conservatism, blanketed the scene and muffled debate,” wrote Godfrey Hodgson, an esteemed British observer sympathetic to the U.S. powers that be. “It stretched from Americans for Democratic Action,” at “the leftward frontiers of responsibility and yet … safely committed to anti-communism and free enterprise,” to those “board rooms of Wall Street and manufacturing” where business people showed flexibility toward unions, minorities, and the federal government.

Much of this broad outline will sound familiar to students of conspiracy theories, especially those of some populists and libertarians, and the John Birch Society and its fellow-travelers. But powerful continuities of method, purpose, and personnel notwithstanding, the citizens committees and their allies formed no omnipotent monolith. They suffered personality conflicts, turf battles, and disputes among themselves over policy matters as momentous as whether to punish or nurture Germany after World War II. The dream that had sustained the citizens committees' interventionist base throughout its lean decades between the world wars – the creation of a single effective world organization for economic and military security – evaporated with the arrival of the UN and the Cold War.

The citizens committees do, however, provide an important window onto the interactions of private and public power. Rosters such as the Citizens' Committee for International Development's “serve Establishmentologists in the same way that May Day photographs of the reviewing stand above Lenin's tomb serve the Kremlinologists,” the New Yorker's Richard Rovere wrote, partly tongue-in-cheek. “By close analysis of them, by checking one list of names against another, it is possible to keep tabs quite accurately on the Executive Committee.” Rovere didn't mention it, but President John Kennedy's administration had engineered the Citizens' Committee for International Development to support its foreign-aid program.

Databases Galore - 6

This post may be the last one in this series, at least for awhile.

I recently downloaded the parts-per-million database concerning readings at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

The graph generated seems to follow and fit the increase in temperatures around the globe (click to enlarge).

With all the warmonger rhetoric being puked out by the Wartocracy (The Government of MOMCOM: Wartocracy, 2, 3, 4) I thought I would remind us how obvious their way of thinking is, even to the folks who write lyrics:
The world is f*cking turning to sh*t
the Earth don't stand a chance,
hurricane typhoon will destroy the city,
we've got to clean up the skies and recycle,
we've got to stop the overpopulation ...

but most important of all ...
WE GOT TO BUILD A Deth Star !!!! ....
(Tenacious D, see video below). How true it is that the Wartocracy has only one thing on its mind, sluting for war (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3).

Even as they concurrently make war on the Earth in a suicide-murder pact of heinous proportions (MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact, 2, 3, 4, 5).

It is the most shameful thing happening in this section of the universe.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

"Deth Starr", by Tenacious D