Do the Republicans Even Believe in Democracy Anymore? NYT OP-ED

Mr. Levitskya co-author, with Daniel Ziblatt, of “How Democracies Die, said. “The fact that the Republican Party has grown increasingly authoritarian poses a greater threat to American democracy than Donald Trump.”


Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times


A number of observers, myself included, have written pieces in recent years arguing that the Republican Party is no longer simply trying to compete with and defeat the Democratic Party on a level playing field. Today, rather than simply playing the game, the Republicans are simultaneously trying to rig the game’s rules so that they never lose.

The aggressive gerrymandering, which the Supreme Court just declared to be a matter beyond its purview; the voter suppression schemes; the dubious proposals that haven’t gone anywhere — yet — like trying to award presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than by state, a scheme that Republicans in five states considered after the 2012 election and that is still discussed: These are not ideas aimed at invigorating democracy. They are hatched and executed for the express purpose of essentially fixing elections.

We have been brought up to believe that American political parties are the same — that they are similar creatures with similar traits and similar ways of behaving. Political science spent decades teaching us this. The idea that one party has become so radically different from the other, despite mountains of evidence, is a tough sell.

It’s a hard sell to make for one very simple reason: It doesn’t have a name, this thing the Republicans are trying to do. It’s not true democracy that they want. But it’s also a bit much to call them outright authoritarians. And there’s nothing in between.

Freak summer hailstorm buries Mexican city under five feet of ice ~ The Washington Post

Mexican city under five feet of ice

A blanket of hail and ice covered streets in the Mexican city of Guadalajara after a heavy storm hit the area on June 30.

July 1 at 8:17 AM

It’s summer in Guadalajara, one of Mexico’s most populous towns, which made what happened there over the weekend all the more surprising.

Sunday morning, residents woke to their roads, yards and even cars buried under more than three feet of icy slush from a freak hailstorm that had blanketed the city.

Residents play on top of ice after a heavy storm of rain and hail that affected some areas of ​​Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 30. (Fernando Carranza/Reuters)

On Twitter, Jalisco Gov. Enrique Alfaro said Civil Protection personnel quickly began cleanup, digging vehicles out from beneath the sea of hail and pumping out floodwaters once it had started to melt.

Enrique Alfaro


Luego de una inusual granizada en distintas colonias del Área Metropolitana de Guadalajara, principalmente en Rancho Blanco y en la Zona Industrial, personal de Protección Civil Jalisco atendió la situación desde la madrugada.

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“I’ve never seen such scenes in Guadalajara,” Alfaro told AFP.

“Then we ask ourselves if climate change is real. These are never-before-seen natural phenomenons,” he said. “It’s incredible.”

In some places, the hail was up to five feet deep, AFP reported.

Residents in the mountainous area, which sits about 350 miles west of Mexico City, reported damage to nearly 200 homes and businesses, according to AFP, and some 50 vehicles were swept away by the heavy ice and rain. No injuries or casualties were reported, Alfaro said.

A man with a bike walks on hail in the eastern area of Guadalajara on June 30. (Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images)

Gardner claim bipartisan for Coloradans … got to read this bs

Why, yes, I am bipartisan, and to prove it here is a letter written by one of my state’s far-right crackpots. If you can’t trust him that just proves you’re the one who’s out of touch.

What part of this story is more pathetic: That a Colorado newspaper published an op-ed from the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party praising Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner for his “most bipartisan and effective” representation of even state Democrats and independents, or that Gardner approvingly tweeted out the gaslighting effort?

Cory Gardner


“Sen. Gardner has and will remain an effective voice for Republicans, Unaffiliateds and Democrats in Colorado.” Read more from @cologop Chairman @BuckForColorado in the @ColoradoSun here: 

Opinion: Sen. Cory Gardner’s results are important for Colorado“Ken Buck says I’m bipartisan” may be a new low point for a struggling Republican politician. For now.

Rabid tea partier Rep. Ken Buck’s op-ed claim—yes, that is who now chairs the Colorado Republican Party—rides on declaring Gardner to be “one of the most bipartisan and effective senators Colorado has ever seen” by insisting that the things Gardner has done are bipartisan because Ken Buck says so, that’s why. Is Gardner’s push to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters away from D.C. decision-makers and into Colorado “bipartisan,” or simply another cynical attempt at putting sand in the gears of a federal agency conservatives have long held a grudge against? Is Gardner’s sheepish coddling of Trump’s poorly defined visions of a militarized Space Force because “Space Command” might “potentially be headquartered in Colorado” a bipartisan stance, or just a cynical trade-off of a senator’s dignity for a bit of pork? It’s bipartisan, of course. If Donald Trump, Ken Buck, and Cory Gardner all support the same thing, it counts as bipartisan, no matter what the other parties might think.

Why does a puff piece on the glory of a teetering senator in for a tough re-election fight written up by, of all people, his own state party’s chair rate as “editorial” content to begin with? Isn’t that more commonly referred to as advertising? Papers commonly demand payment for associating themselves with this sort of brand-polishing, and there’s not a paper in America that’s flush on cash these days. Go figure.

Gardner has been in an awkward position of late, carefully tiptoeing through his duties using the Susan Collins strategy of occasionally expressing regret at the batshit insane activities of the rampaging administration while quietly voting to facilitate the batshittery after the cameras have turned away. (If he is still fishing for a campaign slogan, we might suggest Gardner for Senate: My Conscience Is Bipartisan Even If My Record Isn’t.)

Reluctant go-alongs such as Gardner and Collins appear to believe the bipartisan remorse, partisan results gimmick can be used indefinitely—that it has no expiration date, and that voters will buy it the 50th time as readily as the first. Both appear to be preparing to test that theory good and hard, in fact. We’ll see.

But if you’re going to choose that as your bit, maybe avoid touting claims of “bipartisanship” written up by one of the most divisive partisan figures in your state. That’s … a little much. It’s a bit like getting your mom to vouch for you on a dating app: You can do it, but it might not have the effect you think it does.


Temperatures leap 40 degrees above normal as the Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet see record June melting ~ The Washington Post

And it may be messing with our weather.

Steffen Olsen, an Arctic researcher with the Danish Meteorological Institute, and dogs set out to retrieve oceanographic moorings and a weather station over meltwater topping sea ice in northwest Greenland on Thursday. (Steffen Olsen)
June 14 at 12:52 PM

Ice is melting in unprecedented ways as summer approaches in the Arctic. In recent days, observations have revealed a record-challenging melt event over the Greenland ice sheet, while the extent of ice over the Arctic Ocean has never been this low in mid-June during the age of weather satellites.

Greenland saw temperatures soar up to 40 degrees above normal Wednesday, while open water exists in places north of Alaska where it seldom, if ever, has in recent times.

It’s “another series of extreme events consistent with the long-term trend of a warming, changing Arctic,” said Zachary Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine.

And the abnormal warmth and melting of ice in the Arctic may be messing with our weather.

Greenland ice sheet

Melt extent on the Greenland Ice Sheet between April and October. The recent melt event (indicated by the blue line) appears to be the greatest on record in mid-June. (National Snow and Ice Data Center)

Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the Greenland ice sheet appears to have witnessed its biggest melt event so early in the season on record this week (although a few other years showed similar mid-June melting).

“The melting is big and early,” said Jason Box, an ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.

Extent of Greenland ice sheet melting on June 12. (National Snow and Ice Data Center)

Box explained that temperatures over the western Greenland ice sheet have been abnormally high while snow has been well below normal.

Marco Tedesco, an ice researcher at Columbia University, added that it has been unusually warm in east and central Greenland, as well. “This has triggered widespread melting that has reached about 45 percent of the ice sheet,” he wrote in an email.

Normally, melting this widespread over the ice sheet doesn’t occur until midsummer, if even then.

A simulation from the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting suggested that temperatures over Greenland may have peaked at around 40 degrees above normal on Wednesday.

European model simulation of temperature difference from normal over Greenland on Wednesday. (

A big dome of high pressure has positioned itself over Greenland, resulting in sunny skies and mild temperatures, which have enabled melting. An automated weather station at the top of Greenland’s ice sheet topped freezing on June 12, a very rare event, which last occurred in July 2012.

View image on Twitter

William Colgan, Ph.D.@GlacierBytes

The @NOAA automatic weather station at Summit, Greenland, suggests air temperature flickered above 0°C at 19:30 LST June 12. 🤔 

2012 is the notorious year in which the Greenland ice sheet witnessed the most melting on record. Those monitoring the ice sheet say melting in 2019 could rival it.

Weather in the coming months will determine how much more the ice sheet melts and whether 2019 is a record-setter. If high pressure holds in place, “we should break a new record,” tweeted Xavier Fettweis, a climatologist at the University of Liège in Belgium.

But scientists studying the region know that Greenland’s weather is highly variable and can change rapidly.

Mike MacFerrin, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado, put it this way in a tweet: “2019 has been… anomalous… so far, but also quite variable. It’s early and weather is weather, so keep your eyes peeled. …”

~~~  MORE  ~~~

The Thought Police Are Coming

The Thought Police Are Coming
Mr. Fish / Truthdig

Chris Hedges gave this talk Tuesday, June 11, at an event held in London in support of Julian Assange.


Ask the Iraqi parents of Sabiha Hamed Salih, aged 15, and Ashwaq Hamed Salih, aged 16, who were killed by shrapnel in Baghdad on July 31, 2004, what they think of Julian Assange.

Ask the man and his two young daughters who saw their wife and mother shot to death and were themselves wounded in a car fired upon by U.S. Marines in Fallujah on July 22, 2005, what they think of Julian Assange.

Ask the parents of Huda Haleem, an 18-year-old girl, and Raghad Muhamad Haleem, a 5-year-old boy, shot dead by U.S. soldiers on June 2, 2006, in Iraq’s Diyala province what they think of Julian Assange.

Ask the parents of the 15-year-old boy choked with a wire and then shot to death by U.S. Marines in Ramadi on Aug. 10, 2006, what they think of Julian Assange.

Ask the relatives of Ahmed Salam Mohammad, who was shot dead on Nov. 27, 2006, when U.S. troops attacked a wedding party near Mosul, an attack that also left four wounded, what they think of Julian Assange.

Ask the families of the over one dozen people shot to death with .50-caliber machine guns by bantering U.S. Apache helicopter crews in east Baghdad in July 2007—the crew members can be heard laughing at the “dead bastards” and saying “light ’em up” and “keep shooting, keep shooting”—a massacre that included two journalists for Reuters—Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh—what they think of Julian Assange. Ask the then 10-year-old Sajad Mutashar and his 5-year-old sister, Doaha, both wounded, whose 43-year-old father, Saleh, was shot to death from the air as he attempted to assist one of the wounded men in the Baghdad street what they think of Julian Assange.

There is nothing like the boot of the oppressor on your neck to give you moral clarity.

None of these war crimes, and hundreds more reported to the U.S. military but never investigated, would have been made public without Julian, Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks. That is the role of journalists—to give a voice to those who without us would have no voice, to hold the powerful to account, to give the forgotten and the demonized justice, to speak the truth.

We have watched over the last decade as freedom of the press and legal protection for those who expose government abuses and lies have been obliterated by wholesale government surveillance and the criminalizing of the leaking and, with Julian’s persecution, publication of these secrets. The press has been largely emasculated in the United States. The repeated use of the Espionage Act, especially under the Obama administration, to charge and sentence whistleblowers has shut down our ability to shine a light into the inner workings of power and empire. Governmental officials with a conscience, knowing all of their communications are monitored, captured and stored by intelligence agencies, are too frightened to reach out to reporters. The last line of defense lies with those with the skills that allow them to burrow into the records of the security and surveillance state and with the courage to make them public, such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond, now serving a 10-year prison term in the United States for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor. The price of resistance is high not only for them, but for those such as Julian willing to publish this information. As Sarah Harrison has pointed out: “This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it.”

Even if Julian were odious, which he is not, even if he carried out a sexual offense, which he did not, even if he was a poor houseguest—a bizarre term for a man trapped in a small room for nearly seven years under house arrest—which he was not, it would make no difference. Julian is not being persecuted for his vices. He is being persecuted for his virtues.

His arrest eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities carried by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments in the seizure of Julian two months ago from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power, no matter what their nationality, will be hunted down around the globe and seized, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where journalism is outlawed and replaced with propaganda, trivia, entertainment and indoctrination to make us hate those demonized by the state as our enemies.

The arrest of Julian marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism and constant state surveillance, now far advanced in China, that will soon define our lives. The destruction of all protection of the rule of law, which is what we are witnessing, is essential to establishing an authoritarian or totalitarian state.

The BBC China correspondent Stephen McDonell was locked out of WeChatin China a few days ago after posting photos of the candlelight vigil in Hong Kong marking 30 years since student protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square were gunned down by Chinese soldiers in June 1989.

“Chinese friends started asking on WeChat what the event was?” he wrote. “Why were people gathering? Where was it? That such questions were coming from young professionals here shows the extent to which knowledge of Tiananmen 1989 has been made to disappear in China. I answered a few of them, rather cryptically, then suddenly I was locked out of WeChat.”

In order to get back on WeChat he had to agree that he was responsible for spreading “malicious rumors” and provide what is called a faceprint.

“I was instructed to hold my phone up—to ‘face front camera straight on’—looking directly at the image of a human head. Then told to ‘Read numbers aloud in Mandarin Chinese.’ My voice was captured by the App at the same time it scanned my face.”

Governmental abuse of WeChat, he wrote, “could deliver to the Communist Party a life map of pretty much everybody in this country, citizens and foreigners alike. Capturing the face and voice image of everyone who was suspended for mentioning the Tiananmen crackdown anniversary in recent days would be considered very useful for those who want to monitor anyone who might potentially cause problems.”

This is almost certainly our future, and it is a future that Julian has fought courageously to prevent.

In another sign the noose is tightening, the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the country’s national broadcaster, were raided by federal police last Wednesday. The raid was carried out because the broadcaster had disclosed detailed accounts of Australian special forces in Afghanistan killing unarmed people, including children. That story was generated, in part, by a leak of hundreds of classified military documents. The police raid and search through raw footage and thousands of files, emails and internal documents appear to be part of a hunt for the source, who will, no doubt, be arrested and imprisoned.

Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno capriciously terminate Julian’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy—diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory—to arrest a nationalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Julian, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did Donald Trump demand the extradition of Julian, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?

The psychological torture of Julian—documented by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and ill treatment, Nils Melzer—mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of the novel “1984.” It is said the Gestapo broke bones and the East German Stasi secret police broke souls. Today, we too have refined the cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo. We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. This is why Julian, his physical and psychological health in serious decline, has been moved to a prison hospital. We can all be taken to George Orwell’s dreaded Room 101 to be made compliant and harmless. These “special administrative measures”—and you can be sure there are American intelligence operatives here assisting the British in the psychological torture of Julian—have destroyed thousands of detainees in black sites around the globe. These techniques, including prolonged solitary confinement, are the staple form of control in maximum-security prisons in the United States, where the corporate state makes war on its most oppressed and politically astute underclass—African Americans.

There has been a coordinated smear campaign against Julian by our Thought Police, one that is amplified by the very media organizations that published WikiLeaks material. The campaign was detailed in a leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch and dated March 8, 2008. The document called for eradicating the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity” and destroying Julian’s reputation.

This character assassination was championed by the Democratic Party establishment after WikiLeaks published 70,000 hacked emails copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State, to the Clinton Foundation. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton’s repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign’s efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Trump was the Republican nominee. It exposed Clinton’s advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. It exposed Clinton as the principal architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, should have remained hidden, that the public did not have a right to know, but they can’t then call themselves journalists.

WikiLeaks has done more to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. It disclosed the internal conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. It intervened to save Snowden from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow after he made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies. The Snowden leaks also revealed that Julian was on a U.S. “manhunt target list.”

We must build popular movements to force the British government to halt the extradition and judicial lynching of Julian. We must build popular movements to force the Australian government to intervene on behalf of Julian. We must build popular movements to reclaim democracy and the rule of law. If Julian is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Donald Trump has attacked as “the enemy of the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging of the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the profits of corporations and consolidate the global oligarchs’ total grip on power will no longer be part of public debate. First Julian. Then us.

Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges is a Truthdig columnist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, a professor in the college degree program offered to New Jersey state prisoners by Rutgers…
Mr. Fish,
Also known as Dwayne Booth, is a cartoonist who primarily creates for and Mr. Fish’s work has also appeared nationally in The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones Magazine, the Advocate, Z Magazine, the Utne Reader,, and internationally for Information for Social Change, Internazionale, Umanita Nova and Novi list.

Adrift in the Arctic


UTQIAGVIK, Alaska — The scientists walk across a frozen Arctic Ocean, dark specks in a sea of white. Pale clouds loom low over the bundled figures. The wind sends ice crystals skidding and swirling around them, erasing their footprints.

Behind a large ice ridge, the group shelters from the subzero cold and 25 mph gusts to set up their experiment. They are learning to map an area’s topography by shooting lasers across the ice and snow. But even their machines seem disoriented by the whiteout conditions: The lasers bounce off whirling snowflakes before striking their targets.

It’s yet another problem they must solve before the fall, when these scientists and several hundred others will launch the largest Arctic research expedition in history: a 12-month, $134 million, 17-nation effort to document climate change in the fastest-warming part of the globe.

Home base will be a massive German icebreaker, though the ship will spend only a few weeks under its own power. After reaching a remote part of the Siberian Arctic, the crew will cut the engine and wait for water to freeze around the vessel, entrapping it.

Then the ship — and everyone on it — will be adrift, at the mercy of the ice.

A break forms in the Arctic Ocean ice beyond Utqiagvik, Alaska, near the northernmost point in the United States.



What the scientists discover during their year in the frozen north will help them forecast the future of the entire planet. As Arctic ice vanishes, many scientists expect the steady stream of air that pushes weather across the Northern Hemisphere to wobble, producing periods of punishing cold, brutal heat waves and disastrous floods.

That’s already happening. The polar vortex that gripped the Midwest this winter, the fires in California and lingering hurricanes like Sandy and Florence are all thought to be domino effects of this instability. Unless humans take drastic action, Earth is on track to exceed the threshold for dangerous warming in a little over a decade, the UN has said. These scientists are racing against the changing planet to understand what’s happening — and what is yet to come.

Struggling on the sea ice off Alaska during their training this April, they get a taste of how tough the task will be. They are steeling themselves for what awaits at the pole: profound isolation and protracted darkness, laborious experiments, cold that can plunge to 45 degrees below zero. There are countless ways the Arctic might thwart and threaten them at every turn.

“But if we can do this right,” says Melinda Webster, a sea ice expert at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “it’s going to give us a huge leap forward in our understanding of Earth and how it’s changing.”

Shoulders scrunched, beards of frost forming on their balaclavas, she and her colleagues continue to collect what information they can. They have no choice but to keep going, Webster says. The world attempts an expedition of this size, expense and risk only “once in a generation.”

And hers might be the last generation that can.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

A Software Upgrade (After 40 Years) Aims to Improve U.S. Weather Forecasts ~ NYT

A view of Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast of the United States, looking south, in 2012. Credit Norman Kuring/Ocean Color Web/NASA


Aiming to reduce errors like the one it made in 2012, when it wrongly forecast the track of Hurricane Sandy into the New York area, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday introduced a major upgrade to the software at the heart of its weather prediction capability.

Using huge amounts of computing power, the software, known as the Global Forecast System, or G.F.S., models the physics of global weather, taking data from satellites and sensors to produce predictions of conditions in coming hours and days. Meteorologists around the world rely on it for making forecasts.

NOAA said the upgrade to the core of the system — the first in four decades — should help improve predictions of severe weather, including winter storms and hurricanes and other tropical storms.

The G.F.S. model had come under criticism in recent years, with researchers and meteorologists saying it was less accurate than similar models from other governments and institutions — most notably one produced by the European Center for Medium-Range Forecasts, which, along with G.F.S., is the most widely used worldwide.

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To critics, the deficiencies in the G.F.S. model were especially apparent during Sandy, which inundated the New York area in 2012, causing 44 deaths and $19 billion in damage in New York City alone. Early on as the storm, which was then a hurricane, moved northward, the European model accurately forecast how it would intensify, shift westward and strike the coast. For days, the G.F.S. model forecast that Sandy would head harmlessly out to sea.

Brian Gross, director of NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center, said in a teleconference that the G.F.S. upgrade had been tested for a year, running models based on data from past warm and cold seasons and comparing the results with what occurred in the real world.

“We are confident the upgrade will provide an overall improvement,” Dr. Gross said. Specifically, he added, it should help produce more accurate forecasts of temperature and the amount of rain and snow.

Among other improvements, he said, the new model should more accurately reflect changes that occur between daytime and nighttime. As for hurricanes, he said, the upgrade should help improve forecasts both of a storm’s track and its intensity.

The upgrade is part of a series of improvements that were undertaken after Sandy. In addition to improving the software, more computing power was added. The European model also had the advantage of vastly greater number-crunching capacity.

Trump administration signals support for uranium mining that could touch Grand Canyon ~ The Hill

Art critics told him no one would like his paintings. Now fans go on scavenger hunts for them.

Octopus/Caveman around Orange County, Calif. (Photos by Octopus/Caveman)
June 9

Anthony Pedersen sat in his painting shed and took stock of all that had gone wrong. He was divorced years ago, he battled a drinking problem, and at one point, he lived in his car. That was after an art gallery told him his work would never sell.

A death in the family last week pushed him to the brink, and Pedersen, surrounded by his paintings, considered taking his own life. But what to do with his art?

“I thought, ‘Maybe I should give away all these paintings before I do that,’ ” Pedersen said.

That idea bloomed into a scavenger hunt, of sorts, fueled by social media.

Pedersen, 36, under his artist name Octopus/Caveman, seeded Orange County with four paintings Friday and Saturday, then posted photos on Twitter with hints to their locations. They included a plea to send photos once they were discovered.

“I only ask that you give this painting a good home,” wrote Pedersen, an intake manager at a law firm by day. “I’d love to see my painting with its new owner. Have a great life together.”

The response was almost too fast for Carrie Murphy.

She awoke at 3 a.m. Saturday and was scrolling through Twitter when she saw the clues. Murphy jumped in her car and drove 30 miles to a Rainbow Donut shop in Westminster. The painting had already vanished, she told The Post on Sunday.

Yet Murphy, an artist herself, was undeterred. She reveled in the hunt, despite the distance from her home in Laguna Niguel. Drizzle splattered her windshield as she set out for the next clue: A painting of a green man left against a wall at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.

That, too, was a dry hole, she said.

View image on Twitter


OMG TREASURE! Thank you SO much @OctopusCaveman for the best kind of hunting. I owe you a beer or two💜

Pedersen had planted the other paintings hours later. One, depicting a robot with a beating red heart, was left against a sign outside Cyprus College near Anaheim. Murphy loaded her son, along with her husband — fresh off a flight from Thailand — into the car and roared off to the college.

The painting was gone, Murphy thought. But it had been blown over by the wind and lay flat on the grass. She picked up and held her prize: an Octopus/Caveman original.

“It was the most exciting thing. It felt like the lottery,” Murphy said. “And knowing it’s a treasured piece of art … it gave me so much joy.”

A man discovered the fourth painting at a park in Huntington Beach. “hello thanks you so much for the painting it was [such] a weird coincidence that I found it,” he wrote on Twitter.

Octopus/Caveman around Orange County, Calif. (Photos by Octopus/Caveman)

Suddenly, the rejected artist had found an audience after returning to the studio only last year.

Pedersen paints with “the cheapest stuff you can imagine,” he said. Paint and brushes come from Walmart. He is a self-taught painter, and when he sits down, he has no firm idea about what spills out.

He may go through several paintings, one layered on top of another, he said, before he creates something like a lovelorn robot.

Murphy inspected the painting’s edges and discovered those layers of experimentation and process. “I will have to find a special place for it,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of history on that canvas.”

The gratitude has moved in a cycle. Murphy contacted Pedersen and told him what her find meant to her. He explained his bout with depression, and that his idea had sparked a deep satisfaction in his own work and what he has done for Murphy and others.

“I told him, ‘I hope you realized how much joy you are providing,’ ” Murphy said.

Octopus/Caveman around Orange County, Calif. (Photos by Octopus/Caveman)

“I was really moved. She seemed excited about it,” he said. “Her joy in finding that was fantastic.”

Pedersen is working through what comes next. Maybe an expansion to San Diego. Pedersen thought perhaps there was a way to connect the paintings and the location in a more deliberate way.

But that process will come later. On Sunday, he left a vivid yellow abstract work at a parking garage in Claremont — number five in a growing series.