Survival of the Friendliest

An alternate theory of evolution: Survival of the friendliest

© Martin Harvey / Auscape / Getty Images
Two models of evolution: The early interpretation of Darwinian evolution as life-or-death contest is being complemented by an understanding of the importance of cooperation.

It’s time to give the violent metaphors of evolution a break.

Violence has been the sire of all the world’s values,” wrote poet Robinson Jeffers in 1940. “What but the wolf’s tooth whittled so fine the fleet limbs of the antelope? What but fear winged the birds, and hunger jeweled with such eyes the great goshawk’s head?”

We’ve taken these metaphors for evolution to heart, reading them to mean that life is a race to kill or be killed. “Darwinian” stands in for “cutthroat,” “survival of the fittest” signifies survival of the ruthless. We see selective pressures that hone each organism for success and drive genetic innovation as the natural order of things.

But we know now that that picture is incomplete. Evolutionary progress can be propelled both by the competitive struggle to adapt to an environment, and by the relaxation of selective forces. When natural selection on an organism is relaxed, the creative powers of mutation can be unshackled and evolution accelerated. The relief of an easier life can inspire new biological forms just as powerfully as the threat of death.

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Russia, Trump, and a New Detente

Trump has to go.  But before he does, we should take advantage of the best thing he has to offer.

Russia, Trump, and a New Détente

In his first press conference as president of the United States, Donald Trump said no fewer than seven times that it would be “positive,” “good,” even “great” if “we could get along with Russia.” In fact, for all the confusion of his policies toward China, Europe, and the Middle East, Trump has enunciated a clear three-part position on Russia, which contrasts strongly with that of most of the U.S. political elite. First, Trump seeks Moscow’s cooperation on global issues; second, he believes that Washington shares the blame for soured relations; and third, he acknowledges “the right of all nations to put their own interests first,” adding that the United States does “not seek to impose our way of life on anyone.”

The last of these is an essentially realist position, and if coherently implemented could prove a tonic. For 25 years, Republicans and Democrats have acted in ways that look much the same to Moscow. Washington has pursued policies that have ignored Russian interests (and sometimes international law as well) in order to encircle Moscow with military alliances and trade blocs conducive to U.S. interests. It is no wonder that Russia pushes back. The wonder is that the U.S. policy elite doesn’t get this, even as foreign-affairs neophyte Trump apparently does.

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Why Government Funding and Sponsorship of Some Institutions Are Indispensable


[M]any projects are best undertaken by government, such as infrastructure that will serve as the foundation for growth, basic research, or other projects where the time frames are too long, the payoffs too ambiguous, or the resource mobilization too great to make sense for the private sector.  (

Services and projects that meet these criteria are Legal Aid Corporation, Meals On Wheels, Head Start, water and sewer system services, healthcare services, among many others.  If these services and projects are ignored by government or allocated to the profit-seeking private sector, basic human needs will go unmet.  Profit seeking behavior naturally seeks to pay less for labor and materials, and provide less value while charging more.  This model is unsustainable for meeting the most basic vital human needs.

The rhetoric of profit seeking avoids distinguishing between needs and desires, which are profoundly different.  Desires can be let go of and forgotten if they are not fulfilled, with little if any harm accruing.  Unmet needs cannot be forgotten, and if the failure to meet needs persists for too long, irreparable physical, emotional and spiritual damage may occur, resulting in degradation, disability and death.

American and generally global elite culture insists that profit is more important than preventing such damages.  Profit is financial gain that accrues after costs and investments have been recovered.  In other words, to them, gravy is more important than whether your child can thrive in school and develop professional-level skill sets, or whether an abused spouse can obtain legal and social remedial services that allow her and her children to live in safety and dignity.  Shorter:  their desires are more important than your needs.

The attacks by the Trump administration on these basic social needs are catastrophic in scope and nature.  If we can stop him and Bannon, that would be good.

But we better address the system that put him in place, because neither Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine nor Mike Pence would reverse these trends.  The Democrats might not precipitate such radical damage as what is going on now, but they would not reverse the basic developmental direction of our elite-captured establishment.

We must change the system, not just the personnel.

Employer-Based Health Insurance and Retirement Are Funded by Taxpayers through Deductions

Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In America


Election 2016 has prompted a wave of head-scratching on the left. Counties Trump won by staggering margins will be among the hardest hit by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Millions of white voters who supported Donald Trump stand to lose their access to health coverage because of their vote.

Individual profiles of Trump voters feed this baffling narrative. A Washington Post story described the experience of Clyde Graham, a long-unemployed coal worker who depends on the ACA for access to health care. He voted for Trump knowing it might cost him his health insurance out of his hope of capturing the great white unicorn – a new job in the mines. His stance is not unusual.

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Details of Jan 25 SEAL Raid in Yemen

Women and Children in Yemeni Village Recall Horror of Trump’s “Highly Successful” SEAL Raid

Iona Craig March 9 2017, 9:00 a.m.

On January 29, 5-year-old Sinan al Ameri was asleep with his mother, his aunt, and 12 other children in a one-room stone hut typical of poor rural villages in the highlands of Yemen. A little after 1 a.m., the women and children awoke to the sound of a gunfight erupting a few hundred feet away. Roughly 30 members of Navy SEAL Team 6 were storming the eastern hillside of the remote settlement.

According to residents of the village of al Ghayil, in Yemen’s al Bayda province, the first to die in the assault was 13-year-old Nasser al Dhahab. The house of his uncle, Sheikh Abdulraouf al Dhahab, and the building behind it, the home of 65-year-old Abdallah al Ameri and his son Mohammed al Ameri, 38, appeared to be the targets of the U.S. forces, who called in air support as they were pinned down in a nearly hourlong firefight.

With the SEALs taking heavy fire on the lower slopes, attack helicopters swept over the hillside hamlet above. In what seemed to be blind panic, the gunships bombarded the entire village, striking more than a dozen buildings, razing stone dwellings where families slept, and wiping out more than 120 goats, sheep, and donkeys.

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Alexander Hamilton — The Founding Fascist

The Hamilton Hustle | Matt Stoller