Sunday 20th of June 2021

poor venus flytrap petals...

The parents are furious. They send their kids to a prestigious New York school, Harvard-Westlake, thinking their little flowers would learn the art of making money. It cost them a little money, around $40,000 per year, out of their petty bourgeois fortunes. But the kids at this prestigious school that has no relation with Harvard whatsoever, learn the “woke” philosophy of equality, anti-racism and toilet-practice with LGBTiQs… It’s outrageous!

So, according to an article by Bari Weiss, The Miseducation of America’s Elites in the City Journal, the parents are fomenting a revolution. First, these parents have not realised that they  — and their youngsters — are not “American Elites”… They are average suckers. Second, this school education system seems to be designed to turn their little ones into proper sociopaths when their cup of “identity politics is full”. From the time they are kicked out of school for not liking Beyoncé’s music, they are ready to fleece the poor and play the stock market with a vengeance.

Here comes Bari Weiss:

The dissidents use pseudonyms and turn off their videos when they meet for clandestine Zoom calls. They are usually coordinating soccer practices and carpools, but now they come together to strategize. They say that they could face profound repercussions if anyone knew they were talking.

But the situation of late has become too egregious for emails or complaining on conference calls. So one recent weekend, on a leafy street in West Los Angeles, they gathered in person and invited me to join.

In a backyard behind a four-bedroom home, ten people sat in a circle of plastic Adirondack chairs, eating bags of Skinny Pop. These are the rebels: well-off Los Angeles parents who send their children to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious private school in the city.

By normal American standards, they are quite wealthy. By the standards of Harvard-Westlake, they are average. These are two-career couples who credit their own success not to family connections or inherited wealth but to their own education. So it strikes them as something more than ironic that a school that costs more than $40,000 a year—a school with Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right hand, and Sarah Murdoch, wife of Lachlan and Rupert’s daughter-in-law, on its board—is teaching students that capitalism is evil.

For most parents, the demonization of capitalism is the least of it. They say that their children tell them they’re afraid to speak up in class. Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution”—unveiled this July, in a 20-page document—is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.

“I grew up in L.A., and the Harvard School definitely struggled with diversity issues. The stories some have expressed since the summer seem totally legitimate,” says one of the fathers. He says he doesn’t have a problem with the school making greater efforts to redress past wrongs, including by bringing more minority voices into the curriculum. What he has a problem with is a movement that tells his children that America is a bad country and that they bear collective racial guilt.

“They are making my son feel like a racist because of the pigmentation of his skin,” one mother says. Another poses a question to the group: “How does focusing a spotlight on race fix how kids talk to one another? Why can’t they just all be Wolverines?” (Harvard-Westlake has declined to comment.)

This Harvard-Westlake parents’ group is one of many organizing quietly around the country to fight what it describes as an ideological movement that has taken over their schools. This story is based on interviews with more than two dozen of these dissenters—teachers, parents, and children—at elite prep schools in two of the bluest states in the country: New York and California.

The parents in the backyard say that for every one of them, there are many more, too afraid to speak up. “I’ve talked to at least five couples who say: I get it. I think the way you do. I just don’t want the controversy right now,” related one mother. They are all eager for their story to be told—but not a single one would let me use their name. They worry about losing their jobs or hurting their children if their opposition to this ideology were known.

“The school can ask you to leave for any reason,” said one mother at Brentwood, another Los Angeles prep school. “Then you’ll be blacklisted from all the private schools and you’ll be known as a racist, which is worse than being called a murderer.”

One private school parent, born in a Communist nation, tells me: “I came to this country escaping the very same fear of retaliation that now my own child feels.” Another joked: “We need to feed our families. Oh, and pay $50,000 a year to have our children get indoctrinated.” A teacher in New York City put it most concisely: “To speak against this is to put all of your moral capital at risk.”

Parents who have spoken out against this ideology, even in private ways, say it hasn’t gone over well. “I had a conversation with a friend, and I asked him: ‘Is there anything about this movement we should question?’” said a father with children in two prep schools in Manhattan. “And he said: ‘Dude, that’s dangerous ground you’re on in our friendship.’ I’ve had enough of those conversations to know what happens.”

That fear is shared, deeply, by the children. For them, it’s not just the fear of getting a bad grade or getting turned down for a college recommendation, though that fear is potent. It’s the fear of social shaming. “If you publish my name, it would ruin my life. People would attack me for even questioning this ideology. I don’t even want people knowing I’m a capitalist,” a student at the Fieldston School in New York City told me, in a comment echoed by other students I spoke with. (Fieldston declined to comment for this article.) “The kids are scared of other kids,” says one Harvard-Westlake mother.

The atmosphere is making their children anxious, paranoid, and insecure—and closed off from even their close friends. “My son knew I was talking to you and he begged me not to,” another Harvard-Westlake mother told me. “He wants to go to a great university, and he told me that one bad statement from me will ruin us. This is the United States of America. Are you freaking kidding me?”

These are America’s elites—the families who can afford to pay some $50,000 a year for their children to be groomed for the eating clubs of Princeton and the secret societies of Yale, the glide path to becoming masters—sorry, masterx—of the universe. The ideas and values instilled in them influence the rest of us.

That is not the only reason this story matters. These schools are called prep schools because they prepare America’s princelings to take their place in what we’re told is our meritocracy. Nothing happens at a top prep school that is not a mirror of what happens at an elite college.

What does it say about the current state of that meritocracy, then, that it wants kids fluent in critical race theory and “white fragility,” even if such knowledge comes at the expense of Shakespeare? “The colleges want children—customers—that are going to be pre-aligned to certain ideologies that originally came out of those colleges,” says a STEM teacher at one of New York’s prestigious prep schools. “I call it woke-weaning. And that’s the product schools like mine are offering.”

The parents I spoke with for this story are savvy and smart: they realize that it’s bizarre—at best—for a school like Harvard-Westlake to hold forth constantly about social justice as it drops more than $40 million on a new off-campus athletic complex. This is a school that sends out an annual report to every Harvard-Westlake family listing parents’ donations. Last year, the “Heritage Circle” group—gifts of $100,000 or more—included Viveca Paulin-Ferrell and Will Ferrell. A red paw next to Jeanne and Tony Pritzker’s names indicated more than a decade of cumulative giving.

Parents say that it is a school where giving more gets you more. Big donors get invitations to special dinners, and, most importantly, time and attention from the people in charge. Meantime, their children are taught radical-chic politics, which, of course, do not involve anything actually substantively radical, like redistributing the endowment.

“These schools are the privilege of the privilege of the privilege. They say nonstop that they are all about inclusion. But they are by definition exclusive. These schools are for the tippity top of society,” a young mother in Manhattan tells me.

Power in America now comes from speaking woke, a highly complex and ever-evolving language. The Grace Church School in Manhattan, for example, offers a 12-page guide to “inclusive language,” which discourages people from using the word “parents”—“folks” is preferred—or from asking questions like “what religion are you?” (When asked for comment, Rev. Robert M. Pennoyer II, the assistant head of school, replied: “Grace is an Episcopal school. As part of our Episcopal identity, we recognize the dignity and worth common to humanity.” He added that the guide comes “from our desire to promote a sense of belonging for all of our students.”) A Harvard-Westlake English teacher welcomes students back after summer with: “I am a queer white womxn of European descent. I use [ she | her ] pronouns but also feel comfortable using [ they | them ] pronouns.” She attached a “self-care letter” quoting Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Woe betide the working-class kid who arrives in college and uses Latino instead of “Latinx,” or who stumbles conjugating verbs because a classmate prefers to use the pronouns they/them. Fluency in woke is an effective class marker and key for these princelings to retain status in university and beyond. The parents know this, and so woke is now the lingua franca of the nation’s best prep schools. As one mother in Los Angeles puts it: “This is what all the colleges are doing, so we have to do it. The thinking is: if Harvard does it, it must be good.”
“Iam in a cult. Well, that’s not exactly right. It’s that the cult is all around me and I am trying to save kids from becoming members.” He sounds like a Scientology defector, but he is a math teacher at one of the most elite high schools in New York City. He is not politically conservative. “I studied critical theory; I saw Derrida speak when I was in college,” he says, “so when this ideology arrived at our school over the past few years, I recognized the language and I knew what it was. But it was in a mutated form.”

This teacher is talking with me because he is alarmed by the toll this ideology is taking on his students. “I started seeing what was happening to the kids. And that’s what I couldn’t take. They are being educated in resentment and fear. It’s extremely dangerous.”

Three thousand miles away, in Los Angeles, another prep-school teacher says something similar. “It teaches people who have so much to see themselves as victims. They think they are suffering oppression at one of the poshest schools in the country.”

It seems to be working. One Los Angeles mother tells me that her son was recently told by his friend, who is black, that he is “inherently oppressed.” She was incredulous. “This kid is a multimillionaire,” she said. “My son said to his friend: ‘Explain it to me. Why do you feel oppressed? What has anyone done to make you feel less?’ And the friend said: ‘The color of my skin.’ This blew my mind.”

The science program at Fieldston would make any parent swoon. The electives for 11th- and 12th-graders, according to the school’s website, include immunology, astronomy, neuroscience, and pharmacology.

But physics looks different these days. “We don’t call them Newton’s laws anymore,” an upperclassman at the school informs me. “We call them the three fundamental laws of physics. They say we need to ‘decenter whiteness,’ and we need to acknowledge that there’s more than just Newton in physics.”

One of her classmates says that he tries to take “the fact classes, not the identity classes.” But it’s gotten harder to distinguish between the two. “I took U.S. history and I figured when you learn about U.S. history maybe you structure it by time period or what happened under each presidency. We traced different marginalized groups. That was how it was structured. I only heard a handful of the presidents’ names in class.”

Brentwood, a school that costs $45,630 a year, made headlines a few weeks back when it held racially segregated “dialogue and community-building sessions.” But when I speak with a parent of a middle-school student there, they want to talk about their child’s English curriculum. “They replaced all the books with no input or even informing the parents.” The curriculum no longer features classics such as The Scarlet Letter, Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lord of the Flies. New books include: Stamped, Dear Martin, Dear Justice, and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.

“The dean said to me, basically, it’s important to change with the times,” said the Brentwood parent. In a statement, Brentwood’s director of communications said: “Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical components of our education and our community at Brentwood School. The events of last summer created a call to action for all of us, in our school community and beyond.” Brentwood has announced a late-starting school day on March 10 for the lower school “due to our faculty book study of White Fragility.”

At Fieldston, an elective is offered to high school juniors and seniors called “historicizing whiteness.” At Grace Church School, seniors can take a course called “Allying: Why? Who? and How?” The curriculum includes a ’zine called “Accomplices Not Allies” that declares “the work of an accomplice in anti-colonial struggle is to attack colonial structures & ideas,” alongside a photograph of a burning police car. Harvard-Westlake, in its extensive antiracist plan announced this summer, included “redesigning the 11th grade US History course from a critical race theory perspective,” among many similar goals.

To question any of the curricular changes, parents say, is to make yourself suspect: “Every group chat I’m on with school parents, with the exception of my concerned parents’ group, they have a pattern of shaming anyone who shares anything remotely political or dissents from the group narrative,” one Brentwood mother wrote to me. “Once someone shames one person, many chime in agreement. The times I speak up to defend those they shame, they attempt to shame me.”

In this worldview, complexity itself is a kind of racism, nuance is a phobia, and skepticism merely a type of false consciousness. Ibram Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, plainly spelled out the logic on Twitter recently: “The heartbeat of racism is denial. And too often, the more powerful the racism, the more powerful the denial.”

One teacher told me that he was asked to teach an antiracist curriculum that included a “pyramid” of white supremacy. At the top was genocide. At the bottom was “two sides to every story.”

“‘Two sides to every story,’” he said. “That was on the racist pyramid.”

But the most important consequence of the woke ideology isn’t a lesser English curriculum. It’s that the ideology, which seems to touch every aspect of schooling now, has changed children’s self-conception.

Consider this story, from Chapin, the tony all-girls school on the Upper East Side, involving a white girl in the lower grades who came home one day and told her father: “All people with lighter skin don’t like people with darker skin and are mean to them.” He was horrified as she explained that that was what she had been taught by her teachers. “I said to her: that’s not how we feel in this family.” It’s worth taking a look at Chapin’s various affinity groups, which have become de rigueur at all of these schools. (Chapin did not respond to a request for comment.)

For high schoolers, the message is more explicit. A Fieldston student says that students are often told “if you are white and male, you are second in line to speak.” This is considered a normal and necessary redistribution of power.

At Harvard-Westlake, the school recently administered the debunked implicit-bias test to tenth-graders. It was technically optional, but several parents I spoke with said that their children felt compelled to take it. One mother confided that her son said to her, “Mom, I just found out I’m a racist and I prefer White Europeans.” Her child is mixed race. “For my kid to come home and be told by his school you are a racist—I was aghast. I was so, so angry.”

A Brentwood parent says that she has tried, in small ways, to stand up to this. “They say I don’t understand because my skin is white.” Children like hers are being taught to give up ambition and yield positions that they might earn through hard work to others who are more marginalized. “My child is asking me obvious questions like: If I work really hard, shouldn’t I get rewarded?”

All of this “has made me think about race more,” said one teen boy in Manhattan. The curriculum, he explained, was trying to teach him to feel obsessed with his whiteness, the opposite of what his parents had taught him to do. Making students separate out by race in affinity groups is racist, he said. “MLK would condemn my school.”

Some students are rebelling, which, in this case, looks like becoming a Republican. But others go all-in on the ideology, which has created conflicts with parents who don’t. “The school has taken over as the moral guide, with me being the irritating person in the background who doesn’t really get it,” says one Harvard-Westlake mother.

So children learn how the new rules of woke work.

In Brooklyn, a STEM teacher known to be friendly among skeptical students laughed when he told me the latest absurdity: students told him that their history class had a unit on Beyoncé, and they felt compelled to say that they loved her music, even if they did not. “I thought: they aren’t even entitled to their own musical preferences,” he said. “What does it mean when you can’t even tell the truth about how music affects you?” One English teacher in Los Angeles tacitly acknowledges the problem: she has the class turn off their videos on Zoom and asks each student to make their name anonymous so that they can have uninhibited discussions.

No reliable survey data exist on free expression among high schoolers, but last week, Heterodox Academy published its annual Campus Expression Survey Report, which found that, in 2020, 62 percent of college students surveyed “agreed the climate on their campus prevents students from saying things they believe.”

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the price of money on your house...


Mortgage interest rates may soon be on the way up as the Aussie dollar falls

For many Australians, the biggest financial decision they will likely ever make is buying a home.

The next level up is the executive level: CEOs deciding where to spend tens of millions, or perhaps billions, of dollars.

Government is the top level. Last year Treasury signed off on a $251 billion stimulus package to help drive the economy out of the COVID recession.

But this week, the Biden Administration is breaking new records. After passing the Senate, the US President is set to sign off on a $US1.9 trillion ($2.5 trillion) coronavirus relief package this week.

If signed, the legislation will authorise the delivery of cheques worth $US1,400 to millions of low-and-middle-income Americans, as well as the unemployed.

The success or otherwise of this policy, though, also affects Australian borrowers directly. Here's why.

The currency trap

As the US Congress gets closer to writing the gigantic US economic stimulus package into law, the US dollar is climbing.

This is because the stimulus package is expected to drive the US economy to higher growth (some estimates have GDP as high as 6 or even 7 per cent in calendar 2021).

But you usually can't enjoy stronger economic growth without higher inflation (or rising prices). Folks with more money will go out and spend, and that will push prices higher ("demand-pull" inflation).

And with higher inflation comes higher interest rates and a stronger US dollar (as investors seek the currency of the country with more robust returns).

It's painfully obvious to point out, but with a stronger US dollar, the Australian dollar falls against it.



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shrinking humanities...

The Institute of Public Affairs has just published another of its reports complaining about the takeover of humanities and social-science teaching by identity politics, with themes of class, race and gender pushing aside traditional disciplinary content. Putting aside how you would teach 20th-century history or literature without reference to class, race and gender, the IPA is missing the main story. It is not identity politics but the shrinking of humanities and social-science faculties and curriculum across the country that is the biggest threat to their valued disciplinary traditions, as universities seek to save money on teaching by restructuring faculties, departments and courses. I ended my academic career in 2012 in such a restructure, during which a lively, productive school of social sciences, that was more than paying its way, was dismembered for reasons that are still obscure to me, and for no discernible gain in enrolments or research output. In fact, both went backwards, which made me wonder if that, indeed, was the intention; or perhaps it was just incompetence. But that way bitterness lies, and whatever the circumstances of my experience, and the perfidies of the perpetrators, similar things were happening across the country.

COVID-19 has now turned an incremental decline into an existential crisis. At my old university, La Trobe, already diminished teaching programs have been instructed to reduce costs yet again, which means losing more staff, offering fewer subjects, increasing class sizes and doing more teaching online: Zoom instead of rooms, because that accommodates more students and you don’t have to pay for cleaning. And La Trobe is not alone.

When a university decides to phase out a subject area or a degree – such as when La Trobe announced at the end of last year that it would cease teaching modern Greek and Hindi, or Monash University that it would close its Centre for Theatre and Performance – it draws media attention, and provides an opportunity for the public to respond. Sometimes a subject area is even saved. For example, the Greek community is supporting La Trobe to retain its language studies. But when a university restructures degrees and shrinks subject choices, the public barely notices. And when the next cohort of students enrol, they don’t know what they’re missing.

Across the country, humanities departments are becoming barely credible: minimal language teaching; faculties without philosophy studies; English departments without a subject on Shakespeare, let alone Australian literature; visual art departments studying no art history prior to 1900; politics departments with nothing on America and barely anything on Australia; and so on. You wouldn’t know any of this from online university resources, so it’s hard to build a complete picture. Perhaps the Australian Academy of the Humanities could do an audit. On most university websites it is near impossible to find the actual subjects offered, and a keen student has no chance of discovering who will be teaching them as it will likely be a casual who probably doesn’t yet have a contract. Instead, there is a series of boasts about research achievements, promises about career prospects, and testimony as to why enrolling at this institution will change your life.

Today’s Australian universities promise their students a world-class education, but what they offer is not world class. Though Australian universities do remarkably well in world rankings, these can be seriously misleading. For example, in the QS World University Rankings, English language and literature studies at the University of Melbourne are ranked 18th in the world, between Canada’s University of British Columbia and Cornell in the US. Drill down and you find that English and theatre studies at Melbourne lists 15 faculty members (excluding those in ARC-funded research-only positions), most of them professors who will be doing little or no teaching. By contrast, English at UBC has 49 faculty listed on its web page, and Cornell has 51. English at the University of York, in the United Kingdom, which is ranked 22nd, has 45 faculty members, and in all these overseas universities theatre studies are in another department to English, with its own staff. Given that staff–student ratios are one of the six performance indicators used to determine the QS rankings, it is hard to know how the Melbourne department did so well. Perhaps it listed all the casual staff? Other universities would not regard 15 full-time faculty, no matter how highly regarded their collective research, as sufficient to teach the discipline – so why do we? If I had a child now contemplating a liberal arts degree, and I had the money, I would send them to Canada or the United States, crossing my fingers that they wouldn’t fall in love and not want to come home.


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things happen...


Beyoncé has set a new record at the Grammy Awards with her 28th win.

The star is now the most-awarded woman in Grammys history, overtaking bluegrass singer Alison Krauss.

"I am so honoured, I'm so excited," she said while accepting her record-breaking trophy, for best R&B performance.

Taylor Swift also made history at Sunday's ceremony, by becoming the first female artist ever to win album of the year three times.

The star was rewarded for her lockdown album Folklore - after previously winning with Fearless in 2010 and the pop opus 1989 in 2016.

Only three other artists have ever won the album of the year prize three times: Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.



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See toon and story at top... Meanwhile:



By Caitlin Johnstone, an independent journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her website is here and you can follow her on Twitter @caitoz

Are you psychologically unable to keep up with the harsh pace demanded of you by capitalism just to survive? Join the gang: we’re all depressed because we’re stuck in dead-end jobs that simply turn millionaires into billionaires.

How many of people’s mental health diagnoses are really just them struggling to function in a capitalist system that is amoral, destructive, overwhelming, overbearing, unsatisfying, and bereft of meaning?

It’s surely one of the most under-examined questions in the field of modern psychology. People in general and researchers in particular all too rarely think to take a step back from the data they are looking at and consider the large-scale framework within which that data is materializing, and to consider whether there’s anything about that particular framework which is giving rise to the particular data sets they are seeing.

How many of the mental health diagnoses given out are really just people not coping well under capitalism? It’s worth looking into. How many people end up consulting with mental health professionals because they find themselves psychologically unable to keep up with the frenetic corporate pace that’s demanded of them in order to “earn a living”? Or earlier on as children because they are unable to successfully navigate the capitalism boot camp known as school? How many people are given diagnoses, and corresponding bottles of pills, simply because they can’t march to the beat of the capitalist drum?

Beyond that, how many people are pushed into mental illness by the madness of our current system? How many people suffer from very real depression or anxiety arising from the pressure to keep churning out pieces of future landfill in meaningless jobs which serve no purpose other than to turn millionaires into billionaires? How many people simply collapse under the weight of financial insecurity, food insecurity, housing insecurity, employment and insurance insecurity, combined with the effects of  desperate attempts to self-medicate the stress?



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In the never-ending quest to find weapons that will give a country the power it needs to knock out its adversaries, a new type of weapon has emerged: ultra-fast “hypersonic” missiles that can change targets anywhere on Earth within an hour.

Our modern life and its increasing reliance on an ever-expanding network and array of satellites mean that, once again, space has emerged as a new arena for warfare.

What are hypersonic weapons?

The word “hypersonic” means anything that moves at five times the speed of sound – 6,174 kilometres per hour or more – in other words, ultra-fast. Speed is important as it gives an opponent less warning and less time to react.

Most ballistic missiles already move this fast; what makes hypersonic missiles different is that they glide in the upper atmosphere and are highly manoeuvrable. Ballistic missiles, once launched, have very limited possibilities to alter their course, much like a ball once thrown.

These new missiles come in two forms; the first are hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs), which leave the Earth’s atmosphere and then plunge back into it, gliding through the upper layers in a shallow, random series of curves and turners, intended to fool an enemy’s radar as to their intended target.

The other type is the hypersonic cruise missile (HCM) which, while not as fast, is designed to fly low but also at extremely high speeds, surprising the enemy and giving it very little time to react.


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DEWs and instant death...


flying on our own...





the loony homo sapiens...

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace said on Tuesday on her show “Deadline” that if an alien landed in America seeking the most destructive force on the planet, they would look to the Republican Party.

Wallace brought up vaccine hesitancy after President Joe Biden’s address on Tuesday, noting there are people hesitant about getting the vaccination for different reasons.


On coronavirus vaccination hesitancy, Dr. Kavita Patel said, “We need to get into parts of Florida, Michigan, Massachusetts, with people who are saying no way,”

Wallace said, “When is someone in the Republican Party going to rise up against those in the Republican Party whose speech and language and selection of debates are still killing people? I mean, choosing to have a debate about vaccine passports in all states where they are aggressively advocating for voter IDs for laws that require IDs is such flagrant hypocrisy. It would be funny if it didn’t have such deadly consequences.”

RealClearPolitics editor A.B. Stoddard said, “I think they’re looking for a new boogeyman, which is definitely Dr. Fauci, and then leaning into the fights over lockdowns and freedoms, which will help Ron DeSantis run for president in 2024. It’s also part of the culture war that the government is out to oppress people, and they’re going to lock you down. You’ll be forced to have a vaccine and have a passport, and that’s just the first step of taking over your whole life.”

Wallace said, “The war against science. I think if someone were to parachute down here and wonder what the most sort of destructive force on our planet is, and they landed in this country, they might look at the Republicans. To me, it feels arbitrary. I’m sure it has long roots in their wars against climate science and their wars against reproductive freedom.”


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I am not so sure about the Republicans being the worst of us. Alien landing on this planet would find the whole of the Homo sapiens species completely loony. Not only that, any alien with half-a-brain would not land bang in the middle of the USA...