Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Energy Problem Behind Trump’s Election

ourfiniteworld |  The energy problem behind Trump’s election is not the one people have been looking for. Instead, it is an energy problem that leads to low wages for many workers in the US, and high unemployment rates in the European Union. (The different outcomes reflect different minimum wage laws. Higher minimum wages tend to lead to higher unemployment rates; lower minimum wages tend to lead to higher employment, but unsatisfactory wages levels for many.) The energy problem is also reflected as low prices of oil and other commodities.

To try to solve the energy problem, we use approaches that involve increasing complexity, including new technology and globalization. As we add more and more complexity, these approaches tend to work less and less well. In fact, they can become a problem in themselves, because they tend to redistribute wealth toward the top of the employment hierarchy, and they increase “overhead” for the economy as a whole.

In this material, I explain how inadequate energy supplies can appear as either low wages or as high prices. Basically, if energy supplies are inadequate, workers tend to be less productive because they have fewer or less advanced tools to work with. Their lower wages reflect lower productivity (Slide 20).  Slide 6 offers some additional insights.

Trump’s election seems to reflect the cooling effect that our energy problems are having on the economy as a whole. Citizens are increasingly unhappy with their wage situation, and want a major change. Trump’s election may at least temporarily have a beneficial effect, since it may work in the direction of reducing complexity.

Long term, however, it is hard to see that the policies of any elected official will be able to fix our underlying energy problems.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Suppressing Dissent, Controlling Minds, Performing 180° Reversals

medialens |  The idea that journalism should offer a neutral 'spectrum' of views was unceremoniously dumped during the US presidential election. Hillary Clinton was endorsed by the 500 largest US newspapers and magazines; Trump by 20 of the smallest, with the most significant of these – something called the Las Vegas Review-Journal - reaching some 100,000 readers.

As with Jeremy Corbyn, from the moment Trump became a genuine contender, he was drenched in vitriol by virtually the entire US-UK corporate press. The smear campaign was epitomised by the baseless, Ian Fleming-like suggestion that Trump was in cahoots with the establishment's other great bĂȘte noire, Putin – a propaganda-perfect marriage of Evil and Pure Evil.

Ironically, Trump may well turn out to be the final nail in the coffin of the manifestly stalled human attempt to become civilised. As leading climate scientist Michael Mann has noted, Trump's stance on climate stability may mean 'game over' for it and us.

But elite media did not oppose Trump because of his climate views – no question was raised on the issue during the presidential debates and, as Noam Chomsky observes (below), the issue was of no interest to journalists. On the other hand, Edward Herman comments, a declared lack of enthusiasm for foreign conflict, notably with Russia, 'may help explain the intensity of media hostility to Trump'.
Inevitably, our drawing attention to the awesome level of media bias drew accusations that Media Lens was an unlikely 'apologist' for Trump's far-right declarations promoting racism, misogyny and climate denial. When we asked Guardian commentator Hadley Freeman why, in comparing Trump and Clinton, she mentioned Clinton's email server scandal but not her war crimes, she interpreted this as an endorsement of Trump:

The roots of the Clinton-Trump fiasco lie in decades of 'liberal' media refusal to challenge the increasing venality, violence and suicidal climate indifference at the supposedly rational end of the political spectrum. Virtually the entire 'liberal' journalistic community saw great hope in Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, while treating genuinely honest and compassionate political commentators like Chomsky, Edward Herman, John Pilger, Howard Zinn, Harold Pinter, Chris Hedges, Jonathan Cook and many others as quixotic freaks who may be mentioned in passing, published once in a supermoon, but otherwise ignored.

As Slavoj Zizek observed: 'The real catastrophe is the status quo.' When liberal journalism slams the door on reasoned arguments and authentic compassion, other doors swing wide for the likes of Trump.

The default corporate media excuse for ignoring 'our' crimes is that elected politicians have been chosen to serve by the people, and it is the task of journalism to support, not subvert, democracy. But of course democracy is profoundly subverted by a lack of honest media scrutiny. Structural media distortion is so extreme that, despite bombing seven countries, Barack Obama continues to be depicted and perceived as an almost saintly figure. 

Hillary Clinton was indisputably the preferred establishment candidate, backed by virtually the entire US-UK corporate press.

'Mainstream' media did not merely support Clinton, they declared propaganda war on Trump. As we have seen in this brief sample, even BBC journalists thought nothing of ridiculing Trump's 'narcissistic personality disorder' – unthinkable language from a BBC reporter describing an Obama, a Cameron, or indeed a Clinton.

The intensity of establishment support for Clinton meant that journalistic performance was filtered by host media and self-censorship. As the former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger told us in an interview:

    '[T]he whole thing works by a kind of osmosis. If you ask anybody who works in newspapers, they will quite rightly say, "Rupert Murdoch," or whoever, "never tells me what to write", which is beside the point: they don't have to be told what to write. It's understood.'

The moment the vote was cast, pressures filtering out criticisms of Clinton and less hysterical coverage of Trump were lifted. The result is a semblance of balance that allows stunningly extreme 'mainstream' media to enhance their ill-deserved reputation for 'fairness' and 'impartiality'.

Will Trump's Truths Go More Than Skin Deep?

thedailybell |  This Bloomberg article is focused not on the top people in this conspiracy but on the “little people” who do the bidding of higher ups and have learned  how to survive in an internationalist environment and profit from it.

But in our view, these are probably NOT the people that Trump’s voters really voted against. Many of Trump’s voters, like Trump himself, understand that the problems go far beyond academics, bureaucrats and corrupt tycoons.

In fact, this Bloomberg article is a perfect example of a kind of elite propaganda. It is trying to convince us that we need to “listen” to the anger of Trump voters and then, we are instructed, the intelligentsia needs to react.
American intellectuals may violently disagree with the average Trump voter on most things. They may have access to facts that prove that voters wrong. But there’s no way they — we — can go on dismissing and ridiculing these people without dooming themselves to irrelevance and provoking further backlash.
This is in fact the fondest hope, no doubt, of those tasked with defending the REAL culprits from exposure and attack. Such individuals are the ones running the world’s largest corporations and leading the most powerful nation states.

And these individuals may be found in higher places still, plotting the propaganda that the rest of us imbibe. Also managing central bank strategies and even plotting our gradual progress toward a new world war.

The Bloomberg article ends by suggesting that a lot of the irritation of Trump voters is aimed at political correctness and that the US needs “an open conversation about what ails it, not … one that tiptoes around speech taboos about racism, misogyny and sexual discrimination.”

Once more – hooey. Our guess is that like Donald Trump himself, many of his voters – perhaps tens of millions are quite aware that the world’s problems extend far beyond political correctness and “intellectuals.”

Calling People Racist Isn't Effective at Reducing Racial Bias

vox |  So how do we have a better conversation around these issues, one that can actually reduce people’s racial prejudices and anxieties?

The first thing to understand is how white Americans, especially in rural areas, hear accusations of racism. While terms like “racist,” “white privilege,” and “implicit bias” intend to point out systemic biases in America, for white Americans they’re often seen as coded slurs. These terms don’t signal to them that they’re doing something wrong, but that their supposedly racist attitudes (which they would deny having at all) are a justification for lawmakers and other elites to ignore their problems.

Imagine, for example, a white man who lost a factory job due to globalization and saw his sister die from a drug overdose due to the opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic — situations that aren’t uncommon today. He tries to complain about his circumstances. But his concerns are downplayed by a politician or racial justice activist, who instead points out that at least he’s doing better than black and brown folks if you look at broad socioeconomic measures.

Maybe he does have some level of white privilege. But that doesn’t take away from the serious problems he sees in his world today.

This is how many white Americans, particularly in working-class and rural areas, view the world today. So when they hear politicians and journalists call them racist or remind them about their privilege, they feel like elites are trying to distract from the serious problems in their lives and grant advantages to other groups of people. When Hillary Clinton called half of Trump voters “deplorable,” she made this message explicit.

“Telling people they’re racist, sexist, and xenophobic is going to get you exactly nowhere,” said Alana Conner, executive director of Stanford University’s Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions Center. “It’s such a threatening message. One of the things we know from social psychology is when people feel threatened, they can’t change, they can’t listen.”

Has Political Correctness Become a Codeword for Hate?

WaPo |   I will never again use the term “political correctness.” Whatever rhetorical value the term may have once had is far more than offset by what has been unleashed in the name of resistance to it since the presidential election.

I have made no secret over the years of my conviction that the sensitivities of individuals or members of various group should not be permitted to chill free speech on college campuses. I have the scars to show for speaking out against overdoing the idea of microaggression, the regulation of Halloween costumes and the prosecution of students for taking part in sombrero parties – all of which have struck me as “political correctness” run amok.

But the events of the last week are giving me pause about that term and its usage and the complex issues underlying it. It’s not that I now think speech codes are wise or that we should stamp out microaggressions wherever they are perceived. Rather, my reaction is to the way President-elect Donald Trump has been heard during the campaign and the terrifying events his election has set off.

The fight for academic freedom and for ideological diversity on college campuses should and will go on. But given what opposition to “political correctness” has licensed, it time to retire the term.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Justice Requires Heads on Poles - Granny Goodness Would Be a GREAT Start

freep |  Speaking at President Gerald Ford's alma mater, The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for President Obama to issue a blanket pardon to Hillary Clinton before he leaves office, just like Ford did for Richard Nixon.

Stopping short of saying Clinton did anything wrong, Jackson told a large crowd of University of Michigan students, faculty and administrators gathered at daylong celebration of his career that Obama should short-circuit President-elect Donald Trump's promised attempt to prosecute Hillary Clinton for use of a private e-mail server.

"It would be a monumental moral mistake to pursue the indictment of Hillary Clinton," Jackson said. He said issuing the pardon could help heal the nation, like Ford's pardon of Nixon did.

"President Ford said we don't need him for trophy. We need to move on. President Nixon wasn't convicted of a crime. He didn't apply for a pardon. (Ford) did it because he thought it would be best for the country.

"Hillary Clinton has not been tried, but there are those who want to drag her for the next three years. It will not stop until they find a reason to put her in jail. That would be a travesty."

In 1974, Ford, a University of Michigan alumnus, issued a full and complete pardon of Nixon for any crimes he may have committed. He said the pardon was in the best interests of the nation.

Jackson's comments came at the end of a long day in Ann Arbor, which included him dropping in on an anti-Trump rally held by students on campus.

There's Nothing But Scum in the DNC Swamp

unz |  In her Wednesday morning post mortem speech, Hillary made a bizarre request for young people (especially young women) to become politically active as Democrats after her own model. What made this so strange is that the Democratic National Committee has done everything it can to discourage millennials from running. There are few young candidates – except for corporate and Wall Street Republicans running as Blue Dog Democrats. The left has not been welcome in the party for a decade – unless it confines itself only to rhetoric and demagogy, not actual content. For Hillary’s DNC coterie the problem with millennials is that they are not shills for Wall Street. The treatment of Bernie Sanders is exemplary. The DNC threw down the gauntlet.

Instead of a love fest within the Democratic Party’s ranks, the blame game is burning. The Democrats raised a reported $182 million dollars running up to the election. But when Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and other candidates in Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania asked for help. Hillary monopolized it all for TV ads, leaving these candidates in the lurch. The election seemed to be all about her, about personality and identity politics, not about the economic issues paramount in most voters’ minds.

Six months ago the polls showed her the $1 billion spent on data polling, TV ads and immense staff of sycophants to have been a vast exercise in GIGO. From May to June the Democratic National Committee (DNC) saw polls showing Bernie Sanders beating Trump, but Hillary losing. Did the Democratic leadership really prefer to lose with Hillary than win behind him and his social democratic reformers.

Hillary doesn’t learn. Over the weekend she claimed that her analysis showed that FBI director Comey’s reports “rais[ing] doubts that were groundless, baseless,” stopped her momentum. This was on a par with the New York Times analysis that had showed her with an 84 percent probability of winning last Tuesday. She still hasn’t admitted that here analysis was inaccurate.

What is the Democratic Party’s former constituency of labor and progressive reformers to do? Are they to stand by and let the party be captured in Hillary’s wake by Robert Rubin’s Goldman Sachs-Citigroup gang that backed her and Obama?

If the party is to be recaptured, now is the moment to move. The 2016 election sounded the death knell for identity politics. Its aim was to persuade voters not to think of their identity in economic terms, but to think of themselves as women or as racial and ethnic groups first and foremost, not as having common economic interests. This strategy to distract voters from economic policies has obviously failed.

When the Deep State and the Presidency First Collided

lewrockwell |  Mary’s Mosaic” is several things at once: an insightful and sensitive biography of both Mary Meyer and her one-time husband, CIA propaganda specialist Cord Meyer; a murder mystery; a trial drama; an expose of secret knowledge and cover-ups inside the Washington D.C. Beltway during the 1950s and 1960s; and of course, a love story about the late-developing relationship between President John F. Kennedy and Mary Pinchot Meyer, whom he had first met at an Ivy League prep school dance when she was only 15 years old. Their paths had crossed briefly once again in the Spring of 1945, at the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco. (Mary, her new husband Cord Meyer, and John F. Kennedy all attended the conference as journalists reporting on the events there, at the birth of the United Nations.)

Peter Janney’s own father, a World War II Naval aviator and a recipient of the Navy Cross, was also a CIA man, and Peter grew up amidst the CIA culture in Washington. Mary Meyer’s son Michael was his best childhood friend. He knew Mary Meyer as his best friend’s mother. He was therefore perfectly placed to write this book, for his own family had frequent social contacts with Cord and Mary Meyer, James Angleton, Richard Helms, Tracy Barnes, Desmond FitzGerald, and William Colby. Janney’s knowledge of the CIA Cold War culture in our nation’s capital in the 1950s and 1960s is very well-informed, on a personal level.
Janney compellingly relates how the D.C. metropolitan police and the U.S. Justice Department attempted to railroad an innocent black man, Ray Crump, for the mysterious murder of Mary Meyer in October of 1964, just three weeks after the Warren Report was issued. Due to the heroic efforts of African American female attorney Dovey Roundtree, Janney explains how against all odds, Crump was acquitted. Peter Janney reveals the likely motive for her murder—she was about to publicly oppose the sham conclusions of the Warren Report as a fraud. Furthermore, she had kept a private diary which presumably recorded details of her relationship with President Kennedy (and perhaps even of affairs of state). In October of 1964, she was literally “the woman who knew too much.” This book reveals the numerous lies and falsehoods told about her diary (and its disposition) by Ben Bradlee, James Jesus Angleton, and others, in a way not adequately covered by   previous articles and books. The media in this country, misled by the CIA and by former acquaintances of Meyer’s who had much to hide, has consistently distorted the true story of what likely happened to her diary, and Peter Janney lays all of this out in a way that anyone can understand.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Election 2016: What Happened and Why?

nakedcapitalism |  Even though this assessment of the Trump win and the implications for American politics going forward is long, it’s also meaty and very much worth your attention. Mark Blyth was virtually the only person to call a Trump victory from the get-go (a colleague who spends a lot of time outside the Acela corridor is another member of that club) but also correctly gamed out how the stock market would react.

Everything Blyth says is incisive, colorful, and on the mark. By contrast, it’s frustrating listening to Schiller because she is invested heavily in Dem orthodoxy, and not even in the plausible parts: the Hillary scandals were manufactured by Republicans, Sanders would have lost if he were the Democratic candidate, Clinton was a victim of being a woman with a long political career (hello?). Similarly, towards the end, Blyth says, “There is no left left. It’s already had its lunch eaten,” and explains why, and then Schiller begs to differ by trying to depict the Democrats as still a real force and capable of being “renovated”. Help me. But she does have some random insightful remarks. 

In other words, you can run the video and tune your attention in and out, although you may then want to go back and listen to just the Mark Blyth remarks a second time. There’s a lot of solid material here.

World’s Biggest Real Estate Frenzy Is Coming to a City Near You

bloomberg |  If they were anywhere else in Beijing, the five young women in cowboy hats and matching red, white, and blue costumes would look wildly out of place.

But here at the city’s biggest international property fair -- a frenetic gathering of brokers, developers and other real estate professionals all jockeying for the attention of Chinese buyers -- the quintet of wannabe Texans fits right in. As they promote Houston townhouses (“Yours for as little as $350,000!”), a Portugal contingent touts its Golden Visa program and the Australian delegation lures passersby with stuffed kangaroos.

Welcome to ground zero for the world’s largest cross-border residential property boom. Motivated by a weakening yuan, surging domestic housing costs and the desire to secure offshore footholds, Chinese citizens are snapping up overseas homes at an accelerating pace. They’re also venturing further afield than ever before, spreading beyond the likes of Sydney and Vancouver to lower-priced markets including Houston, Thailand’s Pattaya Beach and Malaysia’s Johor Bahru.

The buying spree has defied Chinese government efforts to restrict capital outflows and shows little sign of slowing after an estimated $15 billion of overseas real estate purchases in the first half. For cities in the cross-hairs, the challenge is to balance the economic benefits of Chinese demand against the risk that rising home prices spur a public backlash.

“The Chinese have managed to accumulate very large amounts of wealth, and the opportunities to deploy that capital in their own market are somewhat restricted,” said Richard Barkham, the London-based chief global economist at CBRE Group Inc., the world’s largest commercial property brokerage. “China has more than a billion people. Personally, I think we have just seen a trickle.”

Capitalism as Power Model of the Stock Market

bnarchives |  Most explanations of stock market booms and busts are based on contrasting the underlying ‘fundamental’ logic of the economy with the exogenous, non-economic factors that presumably distort it. Our paper offers a radically different model, examining the stock market not from the mechanical viewpoint of a distorted economy, but from the dialectical perspective of capitalized power. The model demonstrates that (1) the valuation of equities represents capitalized power; (2) capitalized power is dialectically intertwined with systemic fear; and (3) systemic fear and capitalized power are mediated through strategic sabotage. This triangular model, we posit, can offer a basis for examining the asymptotes, or limits, of capitalized power and the ways in which these asymptotes relate to the historical and ongoing transformation of the capitalist mode of power.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Running His Mouth Reckless was the ONLY Miracle Scot Free Could Actually Accomplish...,

internationalman |  Mister Trump has, however, stated that he will diminish direct taxation. The highest earners would pay 33 percent and the corporate tax rate would drop to 15 percent. Yet, he offers no explanation as to how he will make up for the shortfall. Nor does he explain how he will deal with the mushrooming national debt.

What this tells us is that, despite the euphoria that is presently being felt by Mister Trump’s supporters, the fundamentals that plague the US economy remain present and not only is it impossible for him to reverse the pre-existent slide toward economic collapse, it’s not really even a part of the agenda.

Under Mister Trump, the US will still see inflation for the US dollar and larger deficits.

At the same time, we’re approaching a wave of corporate debt default for the record books. The huge volume of junk bonds that were issued in recent years will begin to come to maturity in 2017. 2018 will be more severe and 2019 worse still. Highly leveraged companies will go belly-up.

National debt, corporate debt and personal debt are peaking and there will be nowhere to turn for a meaningful bailout. Although there will be quantitative easing and confiscation of private wealth in the coming years, no president, either liberal or conservative, can stop the debt bulldozer that’s now rumbling down the street.

None of this is to say that there may not be significant benefits to a Trump presidency. He’s likely to take a less collectivist approach, will diminish taxation and most importantly, will be less likely to take the US into another world war. This fact alone is reason to be grateful for his ascendancy.

But, regardless of who won the American presidential election, market collapses, debt defaults and an eventual currency collapse were baked in the cake. It’s safe to say that, should they occur in the next four years, as would seem likely, they would be blamed on the president, as they would happen on his watch.

This being the case, in addition to the fact that conservative thinkers are aging and being replaced by collectivists, it’s very likely that the US is looking at its last Republican president. For those who oppose collectivism, the future may look a bit more promising after the recent election, but the outcome will be essentially the same. On the road trip into the future, the scenery may be a bit more palatable than it would have been had Mrs. Clinton been elected, but the fundamental outcome will be the same.

The Defeated Establishment Elites Used Political Correctness to Fragment the Precariat and Unecessariat

oftwominds |  Combine identity politics with political correctness, and the New Nobility/Oligarchy can laugh their way to the bank while their pawn-serfs fight over how many politically correct angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I have long held that our economy is, stripped of propaganda, nothing but an updated version of feudalism, i.e. neofeudal: a vast class of precarious laborers (i.e. precariats--precarious proletariats) who own little to no wealth-producing capital ruled by a New Nobility/Oligarchy that owns the vast majority of wealth-producing capital and control of the political system. 

I explained this structure in America's Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy (April 29, 2014), Neofeudalism 101: Strip-Mining the Upper Middle Class (April 8, 2015) and The Class War Has Already Started (November 14, 2015). 

In the Marxist analysis, there are only three classes: those who must sell their labor to earn a livelihood, those who earn their livelihood from owning wealth-generating capital, and the dispossessed/ marginalized who are dependent on the state (bread and circuses) or who scrape out a living on the margins of the lawful economy. 

In this view, there is no meaningful class difference between the well-paid liberal technocrat with the $1 million (mortgaged) house on the Left/Right Coast and the rural conservative "deplorable" wage earner. Both must sell their labor and neither earns a livelihood from wealth-generating capital. 

If we extend this analysis, we find that the entire self-described "middle class" is in fact nothing but the better paid slice of the working class, i.e. the class who must sell their labor to pay their rent/mortgage, buy food, etc. 

Both are precarious, but not equally so. The well-paid technocrat believes his skills will protect him from unemployment, and he is equally confident that the "wealth" in his mortgaged house and stocks/bonds 401K retirement account is secure and permanent.

He feels superior to the "deplorable" wage earner, but this superiority is contingent on 1) asset bubbles never popping (ahem, which they always do, eventually; 2) software that's eating the world will not eat his job or the premium he is currently being paid, and 3) the skills he currently has won't become over-supplied as the global work force expands into the sectors that require high levels of education.

So what inhibits the awareness of shared class membership and interests? Two dynamics come to mind: the liberal/conservative ideological divide, and the politically correct speech acts that differentiate the two.

The urban liberal technocrat feels morally superior to the "deplorable" wage earner because he 1) considers himself a "winner" and the "deplorable" a loser and 2) he has mastered the politically correct speech acts that signify his superior "progressive" status.

Chief Strategist: King of the Internet Trolls or Dr. Strangelove?

NYTimes |  Mr. Bannon is in some ways a perplexing figure: a far-right ideologue who made his millions investing in “Seinfeld”; a former Goldman Sachs banker who has reportedly called himself a “Leninist” with a goal “to destroy the state” and “bring everything crashing down.” He has also called progressive women “a bunch of dykes” and, in a 2014 email to one of his editors, wrote of the Republican leadership, “Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that’s the ONLY thing that will make them do their duty.”

A few conservatives have spoken out against Mr. Bannon. Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart News editor who resigned in protest last spring, said Mr. Bannon was a “vindictive, nasty figure.” Glenn Beck called him a “nightmare” and a “terrifying man.”

But most Republican officeholders have so far remained silent. Some have dismissed fears about Mr. Bannon. Other Republicans have praised him, like Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, whom Mr. Trump announced as his chief of staff on Sunday, and who said Mr. Bannon could not be such a bad guy because he served in the Navy and went to Harvard Business School. Some saw the pick of Mr. Priebus as evidence that Mr. Trump would not be leaning so much on Mr. Bannon. But don’t be fooled by Mr. Priebus’s elevated title; in the press release announcing both hires, Mr. Bannon’s name appeared above Mr. Priebus’s. In a little more than two months Mr. Bannon, and his toxic ideology, will be sitting down the hall from the Oval Office.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump Supporters Not Rioting - Yet They Are the Radicalized Extremists...,

theatlantic |  Facebook, where nearly half of Americans get their news, has borne the brunt of the ire, both for creating echo-chambers of partisan news and for failing to promote high-quality information over false drivel. But online extremism researchers say America’s misinformation problem is bigger than Facebook. They are also pointing fingers at sites like 4chan, Twitter and Reddit, online free-for-alls that lack Facebook’s relatively strict stance on hate-speech and have allowed racist communities to flourish in recent years. These forums have grown angrier and more multitudinous since Trump announced his candidacy, and while it’s not yet clear how much they contributed to the triumph of Trump, they certainly lined up behind him.

“When we talk about online radicalization we always talk about Muslims. But the radicalization of white men online is at astronomical levels,” the journalist Siyanda Mohutsiwa, who said she has been following the so-called “alt-right” forums on Reddit for years, wrote in a Twitter thread earlier this week. “These online groups found young white men at their most vulnerable & convinced them liberals were colluding to destroy white Western manhood.”

 Groups that oppose immigration and political correctness, such as neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and the “alt-right,” have bloomed online in recent years. (It’s worth noting that these groups consider themselves distinct, and most don’t use the term “racist;” at most, they prefer the term “racialist.”) A study published in September by George Washington University extremism researcher J.M. Berger found “major American white nationalist movements on Twitter added about 22,000 followers since 2012, an increase of about 600 percent.” Berger found that people who followed white nationalists on Twitter referenced Trump “more than almost any other topic.”

Krugman Admitted He's Clueless...,

mishtalk |  In Thoughts for the Horrified Paul Krugman takes an unusual step of admitting he is clueless.

Let’s take a look.
So what do we do now? By “we” I mean all those left, center and even right who saw Donald Trump as the worst man ever to run for president and assumed that a strong majority of our fellow citizens would agree.
I’m not talking about rethinking political strategy. There will be a time for that — God knows it’s clear that almost everyone on the center-left, myself included, was clueless about what actually works in persuading voters.
Tuesday’s fallout will last for decades, maybe generations.
I particularly worry about climate change. We were at a crucial point, having just reached a global agreement on emissions and having a clear policy path toward moving America to a much greater reliance on renewable energy. Now it will probably fall apart, and the damage may well be irreversible.
Vacation in the Head
Krugman went on to say “I myself spent a large part of the Day After avoiding the news, doing personal things, basically taking a vacation in my own head.”

After taking a vacation in the head, he came back with the wrong answer.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Did Organized Crime Just Now Do This In America?

globalguerillas |  This year, an open source insurgency formed in the US and it took control of the White House.  I didn't write much about it this fall because it hit too close to home.  I knew what would happen.

What is an open source insurgency?  An open source insurgency is how a very large and very diverse group of people empowered by modern technology and without any formal organization, can defeat a very powerful opponent.

I first started writing about open source insurgencies during the war in Iraq over a decade ago.  During that war, over 100 insurgent groups with different motivations for fighting (tribal interests, pro-Baathist, pro-nationalist, pro-Saddam, and lots of jihadi flavors) used the dynamics of open source warfare to fight a global superpower to a standstill.  We saw it again a few years later in the political world, when during the Arab Spring an open source fueled protest toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.

Open source insurgencies and protests can arise spontaneously and they are very hard to stop once they get going since they are impervious to most forms of repressive counter-attack and political subversion.  For example, the open source movement propelling Trump forward made him impervious to attacks on his character.  It also eliminated any need for "ground game" or standard political organization and obviated any need for information disclosure and detailed policy papers. 

Of course, that doesn't mean you can't defeat an open source insurgency.  You can, but it requires a different approach.

Elected Officials are NOT an Accurate Representation of Voters’ Wishes.

medium |  The thing that has become the most clear to us this election year is that we don’t agree on the fundamental truths we thought we did.

I went to college in the part of Pennsylvania that definitely flipped the state for Trump. A good number of my friends are still living there, and have posted messages from what seems at this moment in history to be a completely different country.

Over the last several weeks I have watched dozens of my friends on Facebook de-friend one another. I have seen plenty of self-righteous posts flow across my news feed, along with deeply felt messages of fear, anger and more recently — existential despair.

On the other side I see reflections of joy, levity, gratitude and optimism for the future. It could not be more stark.

The thing that both groups have in common is very apparent: A sense of profound confusion about how the other side cannot understand their perspective.

This seemed to be building on a trend in social media that hit full tilt in the lead up to the election: Political divisions between us are greater than they ever have been, and are still getting worse by the day.

I don’t believe that the Media Elite, Donald Trump or the Alt Right are to blame for the state of our politics. They peddle influence and ideas, but they don’t change the actual makeup of our country. Elected officials are still a fairly accurate representation of voters’ wishes.

I also don’t believe this is inherently a reaction to the political overreach of the status quo. This discontent is part of something felt outside of our borders too. You do not have to look far to see this rising tide of hyper-nationalism going international.

The reason is much more subversive, and something we really haven’t been able to address as humans until now. I believe that the way we consume information has literally changed the kind of people we are.


NYTimes |  On Aug. 19, 2015, shortly after midnight, the brothers Stephen and Scott Leader assaulted Guillermo Rodriguez. Rodriguez had been sleeping near a train station in Boston. The Leader brothers beat him with a metal pipe, breaking his nose and bruising his ribs, and called him a “wetback.” They urinated on him. “All these illegals need to be deported,” they are said to have declared during the attack. The brothers were fans of the candidate who would go on to win the Republican party’s presidential nomination. Told of the incident at the time, that candidate said: “People who are following me are very passionate. They love this country, and they want this country to be great again.”

That was the moment when my mental alarm bells, already ringing, went amok. There were many other astonishing events to come — the accounts of sexual violence, the evidence of racism, the promise of torture, the advocacy of war crimes — but the assault on Rodriguez, as well as the largely tolerant response to it, was a marker. Some people were outraged, but outrage soon became its own ineffectual reflex. Others found a rich vein of humor in the parade of obscenities and cruelties. Others simply took a view similar to that of the character Botard in Ionesco’s play: “I don’t mean to be offensive. But I don’t believe a word of it. No rhinoceros has ever been seen in this country!”

In the early hours of Nov. 9, 2016, the winner of the presidential election was declared. As the day unfolded, the extent to which a moral rhinoceritis had taken hold was apparent. People magazine had a giddy piece about the president-elect’s daughter and her family, a sequence of photos that they headlined “way too cute.” In The New York Times, one opinion piece suggested that the belligerent bigot’s supporters ought not be shamed. Another asked whether this president-elect could be a good president and found cause for optimism. Cable news anchors were able to express their surprise at the outcome of the election, but not in any way vocalize their fury. All around were the unmistakable signs of normalization in progress. So many were falling into line without being pushed. It was happening at tremendous speed, like a contagion. And it was catching even those whose plan was, like Dudard’s in “Rhinoceros,” to criticize “from the inside.”

Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else. This is not a process that began a week or month or year ago. It did not begin with drone assassinations, or with the war on Iraq. Evil has always been here. But now it has taken on a totalitarian tone.

At the end of “Rhinoceros,” Daisy finds the call of the herd irresistible. Her skin goes green, she develops a horn, she’s gone. Berenger, imperfect, all alone, is racked by doubts. He is determined to keep his humanity, but looking in the mirror, he suddenly finds himself quite strange. He feels like a monster for being so out of step with the consensus. He is afraid of what this independence will cost him. But he keeps his resolve, and refuses to accept the horrible new normalcy. He’ll put up a fight, he says. “I’m not capitulating!”

Want to Understand How Trump Happened? Study Quantum Physics

qz |  Donald Trump’s election victory is only a shock if you have been looking at the world through simple equations. Classical physics is rooted Newton’s three laws, where an action has an equal reaction, objects at rest tend to stay there, and force equals mass times acceleration. Newton describes the observable world in ways that are logical. But long ago, scientists showed the underlying physical world can’t be explained with algebra. To understand the universe, classical physics had to incorporate quantum mechanics, which describes a micro-world of uncertainty and ambiguity that is harder to measure but defines our true reality. Likewise, as recent geopolitical shocks have proven, outdated methods are no longer capable or sufficient to explain global society’s complex and interconnected systems.

Quantum mechanics’ principles are actually quite clear: Units are difficult to quantify, and they’re in perpetual motion; invisible objects can occupy space; there are no causal certainties, only correlations and probabilities; gravity matters more than location; and meaning is derived relationally rather than from absolutes. Relatively is the rule. Indeed, the principles of quantum mechanics are, when explained in art, quite clear. Take this example:

Michael Frayn’s award-winning play Copenhagen presents multiple versions of what might have transpired when German physicist Werner Heisenberg paid a visit to his Danish mentor Niels Bohr in late 1941. Against the backdrop of an intense arms race between the US and Germany to develop atomic weapons that could determine the outcome of World War II, the two Nobel laureates debated the scientific aspects of nuclear fission and the psychology of nuclear deterrence, seamlessly blending physics and geopolitics in their discourse.

Seventy years later, another Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Leon Cooper of Brown University, began using Frayn’s play as a medium to instruct his undergraduate students. He recruited an ensemble of faculty, including the respected international-relations theorist Thomas Biersteker and a European historian, to co-teach the course. Uniquely, each class featured a live performance of scenes from the play by members of the Trinity Repertory Company of Providence, Rhode Island. Cooper issued a challenge to his students from the outset: “Can you understand the play if you don’t understand the physics?”

Today, in the wake of the Trump win, there is no more important question that we can ask about the emerging world order than this: Can we understand geopolitics if we don’t understand its physics?