Thursday, August 20, 2020

Speaking Of Turns At Nutsacks, Hillary Clinton Gave Ghislaine Maxwell's Nephew A Plum State Dept. Gig

thedailybeast |  Now the celebrity tabloid OK! Magazine is reporting that ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “gifted” Maxwell’s nephew, Alexander Djerassi, a position within her department when he was just out of college and gave him “special treatment.”

The Daily Beast could not confirm details of Djerassi’s appointment with the State Department nor if the role was in fact "gifted" by Clinton.

The reports come as Maxwell, 58, awaits trial in a Brooklyn federal lockup for allegedly grooming and trafficking girls for Epstein.

The report also appears to reference Djerassi’s LinkedIn profile, which lists his role as chief of staff for the “Office of the Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs” from May 2011 to June 2012. Djerassi served as special assistant to the office from May 2009 to May 2011, his online profile says.

Djerassi’s name also popped up in a collection of Clinton’s emails hacked via WikiLeaks. In a November 2011 message, Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman referred to his “special assistant, Alex Djerassi.” Feltman mentioned Djerassi again in a January 2012 email, according to WikiLeaks.

Djerassi was also a nonresident associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A biography on the endowment’s website states Djerassi’s research “focused on Tunisia and U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East and North Africa.” The bio adds, “From 2009 to 2012, Djerassi was chief of staff and special assistant in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, covering U.S. relations with Arab states, Israel, and Iran. He worked on matters relating to democratization and civil society in the Arab world, the Arab uprisings, and Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

“Djerassi has served as a U.S. representative to the Friends of Libya conferences, Friends of the Syrian People conferences, U.S.-GCC Strategic Coordination Forum, and several UN General Assemblies,” the profile concludes.

The role at the State Department wasn’t the nephew’s only Clinton-related gig.

From September 2007 to June 2008, Djerassi was a policy associate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. He listed his job duties as such: “Researched and drafted memos, briefings, and policy papers for candidate, senior staff, and news media on wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues. Prepared for more than 20 debates.” (In late 2007, Epstein was under investigation for trafficking girls in Palm Beach and working on a secret plea deal with federal prosecutors. Maxwell is believed to be one accomplice who was protected under the controversial agreement.)

The Yale and Princeton alum—the son of Maxwell’s sister Isabel—apparently returned for Clinton’s 2016 presidential run.

Djerassi lists a job as “national security policy planner” for the “Clinton-Kaine Presidential Transition Team” in 2016.

Seth Rogan Tried To Man Up, Now He's Next In Line For A Turn At Sheldon Adelson's Nutsack...,

counterpunch |  Just how much erosion has support for Israel suffered among Western Jews under the age of 40? The polls are not much help, because they tell contradictory stories. However, in anecdotal terms, there is a strong sense that the gap is growing between an increasingly rightwing and racist Israeli society and younger, liberal/progressive Western Jews. The well-publicized recent interview with Seth Rogen, a comedian and filmmaker with an “ability to capture the Jewish cultural conversation,” and a fan base among Jewish millennials (i.e., those born between 1981 and 1996), may be a case in point.

On 27 July 2020 Rogen was interviewed on fellow Jewish comedian Marc Maron’s “insanely popular podcast” WTF. While on Maron’s program, Rogen questioned why those with “a secular Jewish identity” should feel “any cultural identification with the state of Israel.” Indeed, he admitted that the notion of a Jewish state made little sense to him. He said “Jewish statehood was the result of an “antiquated thought process” and was in truth, counterproductive. “Encouraging all Jews to live in one Jewish state is a nonsensical strategy for the preservation of Jewish peoplehood.”

How did Rogen come to these conclusions? He credited his outlook to overcoming an incomplete and deceitful Jewish educational process. He explained that he had been “fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life. You know, they never tell you, that oh by the way, there were people there.” In other words, the history of Israel he was taught never mentioned the Nakba, Occupied Territories, and collective imprisonment of the residents of the Gaza Strip and the like. It was just the story of “only democracy in the Middle East” and the “most moral army in the world.” As Marc Maron would say, 


Asked why a famous guy like himself had not previously spoken publicly about Israel, he noted that “I’m afraid of Jews. I’m 100 percent afraid of Jews.” Presumably not all Jews, just those allied to the State of Israel. Who can blame him? Most of the U.S. Congress feels the same way.

Reaction from the Right: Standard Tropes
A few days after Rogen’s interview appeared, a quick retort appeared in the Jewish publication the Forward. Weirdly entitled “Dear American Jewish boys, Please, please, take your Oedipal rage and find another outlet for it.” It was written by Dr. Shany Mor, a researcher at, among other places, the Israel Democracy Institute. Mor’s objections to Rogen’s positions are reflections of standard Zionist tropes.

Standard Trope One: As Mor’s title implies, his initial reaction to Rogen’s statements is that they must reflect some form of self-hatred. The “self-hating Jew” is an established, if rather despicable, Zionist trope. Mor now uses it against Rogen, accusing him of being motivated by “Oedipal rage” that is hatred of his parents because they did not tell him about Israel’s bellicose origins. This is a ridiculous ad hominem attack. It should be noted that it is probably the case that a majority of Jewish children in the West, post 1948, were either lied to or left in ignorance about the Palestinians and their fate. That some of them should now express resentment is not evidence of some personality flaw on their part. It is rather an expression their dismay of Zionists’ inability to admit to their own criminal behavior.

FISA Warrant On Carter Page Enabled Obama Surveillance Of The Entire Trump Team

tabletmag  |  A few weeks ago, Americans learned, from a letter sent by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, that Rice had sent herself an unusual “email for the record” on Barack Obama’s last day in office. In the email, Rice claimed to be memorializing a high-level meeting of Obama officials in January 2017, at which they discussed whether to limit the information they were sharing with President-Elect Donald Trump on the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, writing at National Review Online, concluded that the purpose of this meeting was to keep Trump in the dark about the extent to which he himself was under investigation. He concludes from the fact of the email’s existence and its odd timing that the device of briefing Trump on limited portions of the documentation was a tactic —one intended to obscure the fact that Trump was a target of the investigation, even if he was not technically the subject of it. In fact, McCarthy wrote, given the type of investigation, Trump was effectively the main target.
In establishing this, McCarthy alluded to an aspect of counterintelligence investigations and surveillance that Americans tend to know little about. This is McCarthy’s key passage (emphasis in original):
Whether eavesdropping is done for national-security purposes under FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] or for law-enforcement purposes under criminal statutes, the objective is always the same: to uncover the full scope of a conspiratorial enterprise. 
The point is to identify all of the conspirators, and especially to establish the complicity of the most insulated leaders. Carter Page may have been the surveillance target named in the FISA warrant, but he was of low rank in the alleged conspiracy. The point of monitoring Page was to determine exactly what he was doing and, just as crucial, who was directing him.
McCarthy’s point here means that the surveillance authorized by the FISA warrant wasn’t limited to the personal communications of Carter Page; it only began there. To understand the “conspiratorial enterprise,” investigators and analysts have to follow up on all the entities Carter Page is in contact with.
And they don’t stop there. A conspiratorial enterprise is bound to involve communications beyond Carter Page’s first circle of direct contact, so investigators need to look at the next circle as well. They may need to look further, depending on the communications patterns they find in the first two circles radiating from their named target. But under current rules, it’s the first two that government investigators can routinely gain access to in order to “uncover the full scope of a conspiratorial enterprise,” without needing to apply for further warrants.
This convention is referred to as the “two-hop” rule, and, like many provisions of surveillance law, has come in for criticism by civil libertarians. The original FISA was passed in 1978, before the internet age. After 9/11, information technology enabled surveillance operators under the Patriot Act, which complemented and in some ways overlapped FISA surveillance, to inaugurate a “three-hop” rule exploiting computer-networked communications to look well beyond the first-order contacts of a central subject (under Patriot Act surveillance, a terror suspect). This was done via presidential order and came as an unwelcome surprise to the public when the practice was revealed, and initially dubbed “warrantless wiretapping,” in 2005.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Will Justice Now Be Served?

realclearpolitics |  News reports have downplayed the significance of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith’s guilty plea, acknowledging he altered an official document in the government’s Trump-Russia collusion probe. There has been some coverage, mainly because it is so rare to see FBI agents charged with a felony and because it is the first tangible result of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s sprawling investigation of the investigators. But mainstream news outlets have minimized its importance. It’s only one count, they say, and it deals with a relatively minor crime by a mid-level figure.

That’s spin, and it’s wrong. This plea is like finding water seeping from the base of a dam. The problem is not one muddy puddle. The problem is that it foreshadows the dam’s failure, releasing a torrent. That’s what the Clinesmith plea portends.

What Did Clinesmith Admit?
Clinesmith acknowledges he altered an email from the CIA to the FBI, answering a question about Carter Page. Page is an American citizen and a Naval Academy graduate who spent considerable time in Russia. His time abroad raised a question for the FBI’s counter-intelligence division. Was Page a Russian agent? Or was he on our side, helping the U.S. gather intelligence about the Kremlin? The CIA would know.

The answer mattered because the FBI and Department of Justice were preparing warrants to spy on Page as a hostile foreign agent. The CIA gave them a clear answer in August 2016, before the first warrant was issued: Page was working for us. That answer was given to a still-unnamed FBI case agent, and we don’t know what he did with it. Did he show it to those preparing the warrant applications? Why else would he even ask the CIA for the information?

In 2017, after Clinesmith was tasked to the Mueller investigation, their team asked him to clarify Page’s relationship with U.S. intelligence. That’s when he took the CIA document and added a single word, “not.” The altered document said Carter Page was not a CIA asset. It was a deliberate lie.

What Happened To Joltin Joe Obidenbama?

thehill |  President Trump’s reelection campaign in a new ad is attacking presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s mental acuity, a frequent target of the president’s. 

The ad, timed to coincide with the virtual Democratic National Convention, contrasts footage of Biden speaking in 2015 and 2016 with clips of him seemingly losing his train of thought in 2020.
"Did something happen to Joe Biden?" reads the opening text of the ad, which then juxtaposes Biden in 2015 saying in a speech that “he went and became president, I didn’t go and I’m still vice president” and Biden in 2020 stuttering and repeating “in addition to that” in an interview.

“You know there’s a, during World War II, uh, you know, Roosevelt came up with a thing that, uh, you know, was totally different than a, than the, he called it a, you know...” Biden says in a later clip from a 2020 interview.

Trump himself has repeatedly suggested Biden is in cognitive decline and touted his own performance on a neurological test in contrast. However, some within the Trump campaign were reportedly hesitant to incorporate the attack into campaign messaging, according to Axios. Several campaign advisers reportedly warned the line of attack could offend senior citizens, a demographic with which most polling shows Biden in the lead. 

Ultimately, however, those in favor of the attack won out. "We think it's very important that voters fully assess Joe Biden's qualifications and fitness to be president," a senior campaign official told Axios. “Our data show that people are concerned about his ability to do the job.” 

The official declined to provide the data in question to Axios. "Donald Trump is spectacularly failing every conceivable strategic test by ramping up mentions of this subject at all," Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in response to the ad.nbsp;

How Dare Devin Nunes Kwestin His Bettors At The Brookings...,

strategic-culture |  As investigative journalist Paul Sperry rigorously lays out in his report, a major piece of the Russiagate puzzle was revealed when it became known that the primary source used by Christopher Steele in shaping his dodgy dossier was not the high level Kremlin insider which the world was told, but rather a former Brookings Institute employee named Igor Danchenko.

This young Russian-born analyst who hadn’t been to Russia in decades admitted to the FBI in January 2017 that he had no contacts with any notable Russian operatives anywhere near the Kremlin (or even Russia itself it seems), and was totally confused when he was asked why he believed Steele hired him to put together an intelligence dossier on Trump in the first place!

Such admissions didn’t seem to bother the FBI at this time, who ignored the evidence of the dossier’s fraudulent foundations and proceeded to use the Steele/Danchenko material to acquire FISA warrants on Carter Page. This dossier also fueled the fires of the Russiagate inquisition and first gave voice to the narrative that Russia “hacked” the DNC emails (which have been completely refuted by former NSA insider Bill Binney).

The firestorm of revelations surrounding the Brookings Institute, have induced Rep. Devin Nunes to announce a long-awaited probe on the powerful liberal think tank which has acted as a controlling force in America’s deep state for decades and the powerful figure of the Institute’s former president Strobe Talbott.

Nunes stated:
“You may remember that the State Department was involved and there were additional dossiers that weren’t the Steele dossier- except that they mirrored the Steele dossier. And we think there is a connection between the [former] president of Brookings and those dossiers that were given to the State Department.”\

Strobe Talbott not only led Brookings for years, but served as former Deputy Secretary of State of the Clinton White House, former director of the Council on Foreign Relations, was a member of the Trilateral Commissions executive committee and also acted as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Policy Board of the Obama White House. It was Talbott who deployed Danchenko’s Brookings Institute mentor Fiona Hill to acquire a job at the National Security Council in 2017 where she not only advanced an anti-Russian war plan but testified in Trump’s impeachment trial in 2019.

Hill, who had known Christopher Steele since 2006 and were in frequent discussion since 2016, co-authored two Brookings Institute intelligence reports with Danchenko and endorsed him as a “creative and accomplished analyst and researcher” which was posted on his Linkedin account.

The “additional dossiers that weren’t the Steele dossier” addressed by Nunes is a reference to a lesser known dodgy dossier produced by Brookings-affiliated journalist Cody Shearer (brother-in-law of Strobe Talbott) which was crafted explicitly to validate the wildly unsupported claims found in Steele’s dossier.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

So What Is The Role Of The Christian In All This?!?!

medium |  Bernie Sanders thinks that we need a political revolution. I think that we are going to get one whether we want one or not. And not the nicey nicey 1932 kind where we get health care and education. I want a full scale revolution as much as I want a category five hurricane, but here we are.
The sad fact is that our corporate elites are deliberately sabotaging our political system in the hope of bringing about a Pinochet style dictatorship. They have been working at this for a long time.

We live in a society where people die of easily treatable diseases and others are driven to bankruptcy by the high cost of for-profit health care. Before 1982 homelessness was so rare you needed a trained eye to see it. Now we see armies of homeless people, half of whom are employed but who cannot afford the rent in the city where they live. We live in a society where people are murdered everyday because we value guns more than human life.

Now coronavirus is heightening all the contradictions of American finance capitalism. It is no longer possible to deny that our society has become dysfunctional, almost a failed state. Coronavirus promises to do for American finance capitalism what World War One did for royal autocracy.

So what is the role of the Christian in all this? First of all we must commit to the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount. No one can live up to all that, but if we are honest with ourselves, we are not even trying. I am referring to that part of the Christian community that is serious about their faith, and exclude the greedy televangelists and their delusional followers. We have been letting ourselves off too easily. What is coming down from the pulpit that makes us OK with baby prisons, endless war, and armies of homeless people? Why do we keep reelecting politicians who enable these things? 

Why do we keep making excuses for ourselves? Our moral crisis goes way beyond electoral politics (although I would be the first to agree that we are called to participate in electoral politics).

Christians must recommit to the values of the Sermon on the Mount. No more nobody can do that, so I will just continue with business as usual and throw myself on the mercy of Christ. We have to at least try. We must put aside delusional thinking and, as a minister of mine once said, live fearlessly in truth.

So what would that look like? What would it look like if we really committed to living out the values of the Sermon on the Mount?

No Lives Matter: SecDEF Esper Wants To Cut $2.2 Billion From Military Healthcare Budget

politico |  Esper rolled out the results of the first iteration of the defense-wide review in February, revealing $5.7 billion in cost savings that he said would be put toward preparing the Pentagon to better compete with Russia and China, including research into hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, missile defense and more.

But the proposed health cuts, in the second iteration of the defense-wide review, would degrade military hospitals to the point that they will no longer be able to sustain the current training pipeline for the military’s medical force, potentially necessitating something akin to a draft of civilian medical workers into the military, the two defense officials said.

The second official noted the challenge in finding outside doctors given longstanding complaints from some U.S. hospitals and researchers that there aren’t enough physicians to serve civilians.

“How’s a 'draft' even going to work?” the official said “The U.S. is dealing with a doctor shortage.”

As a result, the proposed reductions would hurt combat medical capability without actually saving money, the officials argued. The Pentagon is already significantly overspending on private sector care and TRICARE because patients are being pushed out of undermanned military health facilities to the private health care network, they said. The cuts also would follow nearly a decade of the Pentagon holding military health spending flat, even as spending on care for veterans and civilians has ballooned.

The officials blamed the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, or CAPE, under the leadership of John Whitley, who has been acting director since August 2019, for the cuts. CAPE conducts analysis and provides advice to the secretary of defense on potential cuts to the defense budget.

During Whitley's confirmation hearing to be the permanent CAPE director last week, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) pressed him on the health cuts.

“Folks in my state have expressed some concern and opposition to some of the policies, which allow only active-duty service members to visit military treatment facilities,” Jones said. “What do I tell those folks?”

“The department does have work to do on expanding choice and access to beneficiaries,” Whitley responded. “Sometimes that’s in an MTF, sometimes that’s in the civilian health care setting.”
Whitley has specifically tried to eliminate the Murtha Cancer Center as an unnecessary expense, said one senior official.

Last fall, Whitley and CAPE also sought to close the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which prepares graduates for the medical corps, as part of the defense-wide review, the people said. Although at the time Esper denied the proposal, CAPE is now seeking major cuts to USU as part of the $2.2 billion. The reductions include eliminating all basic research dollars for combat casualty care, infectious disease and military medicine for USU, as well as slicing operational funds.

Rapid Testing - An Amenity Reserved For Lives That Matter

NYTimes |  Hosts are hiring doctors to screen guests before they attend their gatherings, or children coming in from out of town for sleepovers. Other people are getting tests to provide peace of mind after a particularly wild night. Event companies are offering rapid testing as a service to clients alongside catering and music. Instagram influencers are even touting the service.

Still, these rapid tests aren’t totally reliable, said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, New York City’s deputy commissioner of disease control. “Negatives are not definitive,” he said. (And there certainly have been false positives.)

“No test is 100 percent,” Dr. Rashid said. “A negative test does not preclude one to not be carrying the virus.”

Indeed, one reason rapid tests aren’t in widespread use is that they require additional testing to confirm. “We have to retest all of our negatives, so you’re doing two tests for everyone who is negative,” said Dr. Daskalakis. “It’s a resource issue.”

He also warned that the virus can take some time to show up in a test result; though some test positive 48 hours after exposure, the two-week possible incubation period that has dictated quarantine is generally accepted. So if you were exposed to the virus even 10 days before your test, the outcome is still uncertain. “You can’t go to a house party the week before you see Grandma,” Dr. Daskalakis said. “That test doesn’t matter.”

Ryan Choura, the founder of Choura, an event and experience production company in Torrance, Calif., that arranges the tenting and furniture for the U.S. Open golf tournament and the BeachLife Festival, believes so strongly that all events should incorporate rapid testing that he created an arm of his company to do it.

 But as any public-health expert will tell you, individual test results are not an all-access pass to Life as It Was Before. “There is a false confidence you get when you use a test for social decisions,” Dr. Daskalakis said. “This is one of those things I lose sleep over.”

Nonetheless. receiving rapid testing for the virus has become a mark of status and, ergo, a trending topic on social media.

Tasha Todd, 40, is a medical assistant in Dallas. When her former office, a concierge medical group, first received the rapid testing kit, she posted about it on Instagram, where she has nearly 28,000 followers, to hype up the service. “I wanted to try to bring more business into the company,” Ms. Todd said. “Not that we could have handled much more volume. We were seeing 30 people a day, 25 of which were in for Covid testing.”

“I got a lot of feedback,” she said. “A lot of people were messaging about the prices, where the office was, what the difference was between that and a regular test, and how quickly the results come in.” 

Her office charges $150 for a test, but she knows of other clinics in Dallas that charge $500 or more.
Ms. Todd said she felt frustrated that many of her followers wouldn’t be able to afford one. “I would say rapid testing right now is for the rich. It’s too expensive,” she said. “Who has 150 to 500 dollars just lying around in the middle of the recession?”

Monday, August 17, 2020

If You Have Enough Money To Endow Foundations Why Not Pay More Wages And Taxes?

tabletmag |  Big Philanthropy. Today’s Silicon Valley and Wall Street tycoons who endow foundations bearing their names—Gates, Bloomberg, Milken—are little different from Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller a century ago.

In his 1889 essay “The Gospel of Wealth,” Andrew Carnegie, the immigrant Scottish American steel magnate who built his fortune on brutal treatment of American workers and the suppression of organized labor, declared that society was better off when the benevolent rich were allowed to spend their fortunes on charitable causes than when they were taxed to pay for public spending directed by politicians. Recently Bill Gates made a nearly identical argument, claiming that governments are so incompetent that large-scale spending decisions are best entrusted to enlightened billionaires like himself: “Philanthropy is there because the government is not very innovative, doesn’t try risky things and particularly people with a private-sector background—in terms of measurement, picking great teams of people to try out new approaches. Philanthropy does that.”

For a century labor leaders and populists have replied to such self-serving arguments by asking arrogant plutocrats like Carnegie and Gates an obvious question: “If you have enough money to endow a foundation, why don’t you pay your employees more?”

Theodore Roosevelt, who despised Carnegie, observed privately: “All the suffering from Spanish war comes far short of the suffering, preventable and non-preventable, among the operators of the Carnegie steel works, and among the small investors, during the time that Carnegie was making his fortune ...”

Modernism in the arts. Even in matters of art and fashion, American business elites and the working-class majority have been at odds for a century. America’s 20th-century managers and capitalists as a rule have been more avant-garde in their tastes than most of their fellow citizens. The Rockefellers and other plutocrats patronized the Museum of Modern Art, which during and after WWII dismissed the kinds of figurative art and traditional architecture that the working class liked as “kitsch” (trash) and smeared it by comparing it to Nazi and Soviet propaganda. Despising popular figurative painters like Norman Rockwell and later Thomas Kinkade has been a marker of ruling class membership for nearly a century. Vulgar, rich arrivistes like Donald Trump may favor traditional architectural ornament, but the taste-makers in the business community for decades promoted sterile glass-box International Style architecture and abstract painting and sculpture as the more or less official style of corporate America and the Free World.

Now more than a century old, the modern style long ago ceased to be modern. Herbert Hoover’s ultramodern house, now owned by Stanford University, was built in 1919-20. The ambition of many corporate executives and professionals of the mid-20th century was to live in a home inspired by the Glass House of Philip Johnson, the court architect of the Rockefeller dynasty. The protoplasmic blob in an abstract painting on the wall would gaze lovingly at a Noguchi coffee table, a glass amoeba with two wooden pseudopods that bore The Joy of Sex on its back next to the latest issue of the New Yorker.

The post-New Deal new normal, then, is very similar to the pre-New Deal old normal. The present is not a rerun of the age of the age of robber barons after the Civil War, but of the subsequent age in which university-credentialed corporate elites have usually favored free markets and free love and freedom from organized labor, while working-class populations, white and nonwhite, have typically favored a mix of moral traditionalism with pro-labor protectionism in economic policy.

This is not the second Gilded Age. It is the second Jazz Age. And from the perspective of America’s disfranchised and alienated working-class majority of all races, that is bad enough.

Coronavirus Is A Poor Person's Virus

vanityfair |  “All these rich people can’t stop themselves,” one person who is close to a number of wealthy tech CEOs and venture capitalists told me. “They just can’t stop themselves from throwing parties and going on their jets and socializing as if everything was normal.”

In many respects, to them, things are better than normal. Those on the top billionaire lists have only grown richer over the past five months, as tech has soared on the S&P and NASDAQ, helping push the markets back to their pre-COVID numbers, and adding double-digit billions to some tech CEOs’ personal net worths in a single day. Look no further than Apple or Amazon as a prime example. While 16.3 million Americans are unemployed, Apple is now nearing a $2 trillion market cap and Amazon just posted record profits of $5.2 billion in the last quarter—double last year’s goal.

So what are these elite tech founders doing with their wealth? Mostly living life as they did before coronavirus. I’ve spoken to numerous people who’ve described countless billionaires hitting the road, flying around the country to wherever case numbers are lowest. One investor worth several billion who has several homes told a friend—who then parlayed the information to me in tones of shock and awe and more than a tinge of jealousy—that he was in Miami when the numbers were lowest at the start of the pandemic; hopped over to Los Angeles when Florida got a bit dicey; and now that California is a hotbed, is in New York enjoying the season’s outdoor dining. Another billionaire in Los Angeles has been hosting lavish dinner parties (no social media allowed) where an on-site nurse administers 15-minute coronavirus tests outside as guests drink cocktails, and allows them in to dine once their test comes back negative. And yet another investor told me about some of his colleagues who chipped in for a massive $50,000-a-month compound in Palm Springs that’s being used as a group party house. (I’ve heard about similar setups in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.)

For those who don’t want to be in America (and let’s be frank, who really wants to be in America right now?), there’s an easy solution. A report last week found that the superrich are paying as much as $2.6 million for international citizenships, then zipping out to said country on their private jets. Not everyone owns their own jet, or “P.J.,” as they’re called. As a result, jet rentals are skyrocketing. A spokeswoman for NetJets, a private-jet rental company, told me that inquiries for flights shot up from the previous year, and have only continued to grow as the pandemic has stretched on. In April, for example, calls to NetJets was up 60% for the year prior, as of June, it was 195%, the spokeswoman said.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Cancel Adolph Reed? Many On The Left Have A Militant Objection To Thinking Analytically

NYTimes |  “An obsession with disparities of race has colonized the thinking of left and liberal types,” Professor Reed told me. “There’s this insistence that race and racism are fundamental determinants of all Black people’s existence.”

These battles are not new: In the late 19th century, Socialists wrestled with their own racism and debated the extent to which they should try to build a multiracial organization. Eugene Debs, who ran for president five times, was muscular in his insistence that his party advocate racial equality. Similar questions roiled the civil rights and Black power movements of the 1960s.

But the debate has been reignited by the spread of the deadly virus and the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And it has taken on a generational tone, as Socialism — in the 1980s largely the redoubt of aging leftists — now attracts many younger people eager to reshape organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America, which has existed in various permutations since the 1920s. (A Gallup poll late last year found that Socialism is now as popular as capitalism among people aged 18 to 39.)

The D.S.A. now has more than 70,000 members nationally and 5,800 in New York — and their average age now hovers in the early 30s. While the party is much smaller than, say, Democrats and Republicans, it has become an unlikely kingmaker, helping fuel the victories of Democratic Party candidates such as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, who beat a longtime Democratic incumbent in a June primary.

In years past, the D.S.A. had welcomed Professor Reed as a speaker. But younger members, chafing at their Covid-19 isolation and throwing themselves into “Defund the Police” and anti-Trump protests, were angered to learn of the invitation extended to him.

“People have very strong concerns,” Chi Anunwa, co-chair of D.S.A.’s New York chapter, said on a Zoom call. They said “the talk was too dismissive of racial disparities at a very tense point in American life.”

Professor Taylor of Princeton said Professor Reed should have known his planned talk on Covid-19 and the dangers of obsessing about racial disparities would register as “a provocation. It was quite incendiary.”

They Just Want You To Hurry Up And Die Already - CAN YOU DIG IT?!?!?!

newrepublic |  For a variety of completely unacceptable reasons, federal and state governments have proven unwilling to provide adequate relief that would have allowed more Americans to avoid the more severe impacts of the pandemic. Lawmakers could have paid workers to stay home, provided ongoing support to industries that cannot safely open, or offered financial assistance to parents for child care instead of rushing them back to school. These sensible options weren’t on the table. After the first round of paltry relief expired at the end of July, nothing has happened. Like someone breaking their diet with one extra cookie and deciding they might as well go HAM on a whole sleeve of Milanos, the nation’s leaders have blown past their deadline and have thrown up their hands. 

They’ve tried nothing and they’re all out of ideas, man.
As many have observed, the United States is broken, barely a country anymore. Tens of millions of people are in truly desperate need of help. Some need protection from eviction. Others require a rescue from the dangerous conditions of nursing homes and prisons. Many more just need the unemployment money that the state owes them. A portion of this country larger than many European nations has been abandoned to life-ruining chaos. Less than two weeks since the extra unemployment benefit expired, lawmakers have quit the scene and the media has largely moved on to covering Kamala Harris. 
The question of why there are not widespread, large-scale protests or riots specifically about this is worth considering. Perhaps it should be surprising that no one has burned down an unemployment office. The elusive detail is that we’re talking about people who have long been left to wither; many were left abandoned during the last financial crisis and its aftermath. Millions of ordinary Americans have lived their lives as the frogs boiling in the water of austerity and neoliberal neglect. Instead of channeling their rage into a broken political system that has been unresponsive to their needs, they post about committing suicide on Reddit. 
There is obviously a major problem in our political system, where the ongoing disaster unfolding does not necessarily translate into an electoral threat for the Republicans. As my colleague Osita Nwanevu noted recently, the Republican Party is insulated from its own mistakes by the absurdity of the Senate as an institution and their general success in structuring the political system around their continued victory. Like the rich boss’s nephew who gets an internship and spends it fucking around on the internet and harassing his coworkers, the party knows what it can get away with and by how much. Our democracy has been warped such that one of the parties in charge in Washington can flamboyantly embrace the mass death of impoverished Americans, knowing that the consequences will be too minor to be of any real concern.

Po Folk Best Behave Themselves If They Want Any Of This Food!!!

theweek  |  Over the last week, just under 1 million people filed for ordinary unemployment benefits, plus another half-million under the special pandemic unemployment program for people who don't ordinarily qualify, a substantial decline from some of the numbers seen since the beginning of the pandemic. At this rate, by mid-September or so, new unemployment claims will be merely as bad as they were during the worst of the Great Recession.

Those unemployment benefits, however, because this country has systematically stripped and sabotaged its safety net, are extremely meager and often nearly impossible to actually get. Hundreds of thousands of private citizens who have lost their jobs are flocking to Reddit for help and advice, as state unemployment bureaucracies are so janky and swamped they often can't deal with the flood of applications.

In the past week, the r/unemployment subreddit has taken a dark turn with the expiration of the CARES Act's super-unemployment and the failure of Republicans to even come to an agreement about what they want in the next round of pandemic relief. It's become a de facto support group for people whose lives are collapsing around them for simple lack of income or jobs, and talk of suicide is common.

One wonders: Is America about to see bread protests, or even riots?

People around the country have been testifying how they are down to their last dollar or flat broke, facing eviction or living on the street, unable to afford vital prescriptions or even food. "I've got $18.91 in my bank account this morning. My cupboards are getting low, my dog will have to eat whatever me and my kids eat and my gas light will be back on shortly," wrote one Redditor recently

"My car payment was due today and I'm still $200 short, 500 counting last month's. My phone bill is due in a few days. I'm a month behind on the electric bill. I have about $60 to my name, I'm not going to make rent and my [landlords] have already said they will not be giving any allowances," wrote another. "Well I've waited and now my power turns off at the end of today, in a house where my entire family has moved in with me … worst of all I have two toddlers and virtually nowhere to go. 

'Rona and the government have picked off my family one by one and this seems to be the final nail in the coffin," wrote a third.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Soft White Underbelly: Hidden Realms Of American Squalor

WaPo |  “I’m just one guy with a camera,” Laita said. He monetized his YouTube channels days ago.
Laita will give between $20 and $40 to people who are willing to tell their stories, he said. Those who are more at risk of being exposed, such as pimps, drug dealers or prostitutes, sometimes want more, costing him up to $100.

On any given day, up to eight people line up willing to share a personal history that Laita uses only his gut to check, he said.

“I am certain that not every dollar I’ve given to somebody on the street has been spent on a blanket or a tent or shoes. What I’m doing is not foolproof,” he said, considering his work to be a tool for awareness and education.

Compensating his subjects shows a sign of respect for their time and the intimate details they’re willing to share, said Amy Turk, chief executive for Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles, the main service provider for women who live on Skid Row.

The line of exploitation can be a thin one to balance if not done well, and it can be “emotionally dangerous to have someone reveal so much deep complexity about their life and walk away,” she said.

Turk, a licensed clinical social worker, said the best way for someone to get involved is to find an organization that’s aligned with their desire to help and that matches their skills with a need.
“It’s about understanding that something has happened to them,” she said, adding that some people on her staff have heard of Laita’s channel and saw a video of a woman the organization has assisted in the past. “Sounds like [that’s] what Mark is tapping into.”

Stephany Powell, executive director for the Van Nuys, Calif.-based nonprofit Journey Out, which helps women who have survived sexual exploitation, watched Kelly’s story after the video popped up on her Facebook feed. She was instantly concerned for Kelly’s safety because of her identity being known and the amount of money raised for her.

“If she’s vulnerable enough to be trafficked, she might be vulnerable enough for a guy to befriend her,” she said.

People are growing more aware about human trafficking, and Kelly seemed like a likable person whom people perceived as undeserving of what had allegedly happened to her, Powell said, contemplating why Kelly’s story resonated with so many people compared with others on Laita’s channel.

The retired Los Angeles Police Department sergeant said she’s heard stories like Kelly’s too often in her years of service and now as leader of Journey Out.

“A lot of times it is not unusual for victims to not depict themselves as victims or how some people think victims should present themselves,” she said.

Money isn’t curative for the type of trauma someone like Kelly experienced, Powell said. She needs assistance with finding housing, securing employment and attending counseling to help her cope with pain. People like Kelly need a community that consists of professionals and former sex-trafficking survivors to pull her forward, she said.

“You can give her that $30,000. If she blows through it, then what?” Powell asked.

Kamala Devi Is "Evolving" - Especially Toward Money And Power...,

Friday, August 14, 2020

Career Sugar Babies Are The Emptiest Suits And The Snuggest Sock Puppets

lamag  |  Influential California politician Willie Brown inserted himself into Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign this week, penning an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle detailing his romantic relationship with her in the 1990s. The relationship was never a secret, but the public acknowledgement ignited new criticisms of Harris. Commentators began to imply she benefitted professionally from the personal relationship, possibly even only getting to where she is today because of their liaison.

Willie Brown was a fixture in California politics for years, serving as speaker of the state assembly for 15 years, and known as something of an unofficial deal-maker and influencer. He first met Harris in 1994, when she was an assistant district attorney in Alameda County. He was 60 years old at the time, and had been estranged from his wife, Blanche Brown, since 1981.

In his capacity as speaker, Brown appointed Harris to two political positions. The first was a six-month appointment to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board; the second was a role on the Medical Assistance Commission, a body tasked with negotiating contracts to control Medi-Cal costs. At the time, Brown had a reputation for filling many openings with his personal associates and inner circle; when Harris vacated the Appeals Board gig, he replaced her with his longtime buddy Philip S. Ryan.

Harris ended the relationship–which was conducted in the open and frequently reported on at the time–in late 1995, shortly before Brown was sworn in for his first of two terms as mayor of San Francisco.

Eric Weinstein Is Peter Thiel's Sugar Baby Public Intellectual...,

art-19 |  One of the pillars of the American Dream has been that of seeing your children go to college. And, for the many families that can't afford the cost of soaring university tuitions, a new controversial institution has arisen to address the problem. That institution is Sugar Baby University, a tuition assistance campaign that attempts to allow attractive young women, and a smaller number of handsome young men, find generous older men to date in the quest to complete a new version of the American Dream by graduating debt free in an era which has made it all but impossible to discharge student debt even in personal bankruptcy since 2005.

This year, Sugar Baby University is 'graduating' it's fifth class with thousands of alumni in its network that stretches from coast to coast and includes institutions of higher education from local community colleges to research universities and ivy league colleges. If you know many young graduates, the chances have been increasing that one of them has quietly matriculated in response to the crisis of crushing debt payments. Yet despite widespread awareness of the program on campuses by students and financial aid advisors via word of mouth, the world of Universities and mainstream media news outlets have tacitly given their approval to the campaign by remaining strangely silent as tuitions have continued to climb an unbelievable average of 8-9% per year.

In this episode we do not pass judgement on Sugar Baby University, it's parent company 'Seeking Arrangement' or it's spokesperson Kimberly De La Cruz, who is our guest. Rather, we celebrate their openness to discuss the situation, and question, instead, the universities, politicians, media, and the lending industry, who have quietly created the desperate need for this program which they do not openly discuss and prefer not to address at all. 

Even With Rose-Tinted Coverage By The Media, Kamala Harris Can ONLY Hurt Biden...,

thehill |  Biden broke the cardinal rule in selecting Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate.

The selection first and foremost should “do no harm.”

Harris is not able from day one to be President of the United States.

She barely got to the U.S. Senate in 2017 when she began running for president. Before serving in the Senate, she was the attorney general of California, and before that district attorney in San Francisco. 

She has zero foreign policy experience and no economic gravitas.

At a time when even some Democrats are questioning Biden’s competence to be president in light of his advanced age and cognitive abilities — the vice-presidential running mate becomes even more important to voters. Before you even get to her policies, Harris doesn’t pass the qualifications test.

The other rule Biden violated was that a running mate should bring something to the table other than gender, race or ethnicity. The running mate should bring Electoral College appeal. Harris is from the bluest of blue states: California — a state that Trump has no shot of winning. Harris will not appeal to swing states because she is from California, and her record — and those of California Democrats generally — is abysmal on taxes, immigration, law and order, climate, energy… and the list goes on.

California is a liberal laboratory of bad governance and incompetence.

A Biden-Harris ticket is very good news for the Trump-Pence campaign. The contrast between Pence and Harris will be stark in resume, ability and record.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Cautionary Submission In The Context Of The Vulnerable World Hypothesis Predictive Panopticon Proposal

I don't believe it's controversial to state that President Donald John Trump is one of THE WHYTEST WHYDTE MEN IN AMERICA. He's like an exemplar. Whatever else one might opine about the man, he's also a low-level baller, something at least approaching billionaire, and not a No Lives Matter, Left Behind, Little Man like you and I.  That said, these 9% muhuggahs here done put DJT through the ringer and then some, seriously.  The level of sustained, public ni****ization to which he has been subject is unprecedented in U.S. history. If what has been done to Trump is any indication of what the panopticon is willing to do to a political adversary, then TRUST and BELIEVE that you and I don't have even the barest iota of a prayer.

Sally Yates, Rod Rosenstein, Jim Comey and everyone who signed the Carter Page FISA application also be indicted for perjury? They signed a FISA application and made representations to the secret FISC on the basis of false information. Shouldn't representations to FISC need double verification since the accused has no opportunity to defend themselves or confront their accuser?

An average American doesn't get the option of saying I signed under penalty of perjury but I didn't know what I was signing.

What about James Clapper who lied under oath to Congress? The same crime for which Roger Stone was indicted and convicted.

And the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had no idea that they were involved in anything out of the ordinary? As long as they crossed the i's and dotted the t's this was just a routine case like hundreds of others and how could they have known the thing was a fix? Poor trusting souls, misled so badly by such bad people. 

Utter bullshit. They were only dealing with what must have been the most explosively sensitive issue ever to come before them. We're expected to believe they were innocents misled? 

Sometimes not asking the right questions, and searching questions too in such a high profile case as this, shows complicity just as much as if they'd been assisting.

McCabe's wife was an out-of-the-blue candidate who ran for public office (VA State Senator) in 2015, during which she reportedly received over $650,000 in support from Clinton crony, then VA Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Her candidacy was suspicious in that she had no previous political experience (she's a physician who was on record as having voted in a Republican primary!) and it was promoted over the local VA Democratic Party's recommended candidate, a well-known retired Army colonel, attorney and party activist.

And yet McCabe, during this same time, was rapidly promoted to #3 in the FBI and didn't recuse himself from the Hillary Clinton email scandal investigation until one week before the 2016 election (and months after the infamous Comey press briefing in July when he declared Clinton would not be prosecuted), after the $650,000 donation came to light.

It's obvious why there are some who would think the very generous political contribution to McCabe's wife was in fact a backdoor bribe to her husband.

turcopelier |  I will be very clear up front--I have no inside information about what John Durham is going to do. But if he is simply following the facts and the evidence, Andrew McCabe will be one of the first to fall in the probe into the failed coup to destroy the Presidency of Donald Trump. The record on this is indisputable. He lied in three separate instances--1) He lied to FBI investigators, according to Michael Horowitz, 2) He lied to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and 3) He lied to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

McCabe's record of lying starts with questions put to him by FBI investigators about leaks of sensitive FBI evidence to the media in the fall of 2016:

Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe faced scorching criticism and potential criminal prosecution for changing his story about a conversation he had with a Wall Street Journal reporter. Now newly released interview transcripts show McCabe expressed remorse to internal FBI investigators when they pressed him on the about-face. 

In the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, the Journal broke news about an FBI investigation involving then-candidate Hillary Clinton, describing internal discussions among senior FBI officials.

The apparent leak drew scrutiny from the bureau’s internal investigation team, which interviewed McCabe on May 9, 2017, the day President Donald Trump fired James Comey from his post as FBI director. The agents interviewed him as part of an investigation regarding a different media leak to the online publication Circa, and also asked him about the Journal story. 

In that interview, McCabe said he did not know how the Journal story came to be. But a few months later, his story changed after he reviewed his answer. 

McCabe's actions as an Artful Liar did not result in a prosecution. The Trump Justice Department reportedly decided to take a pass on that front, conceding that McCabe might prevail by insisting he just misremembered.

But subsequent statements by McCabe before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees expose him as a terminal liar.