Monday, November 16, 2020

Caren An'Em About To Get REAL On The Mask Covidian Compliance Front...,

thefederalist  |  Lockdowns were once called an “unproven” hypothesis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its models of efficacy being unvalidated by “empirical data.” The World Health Organization called forced isolation and quarantine “ineffective and impractical.” Yet despite the devastating effects of banning “nonessential” businesses and social activities, countries around the world locked down.

Groupthink on non-pharmaceutical interventions spurred an uncontrolled drift away from scientific justifications toward hasty generalized rules predicated on an “abundance of caution” and straight-up fear. Fear quickly turned into a tool for maintaining political power and an opportunity for self-righteous snitches to exercise control over their fellow countrymen. Snitch-level devotion to harsh government mandates devolved into a religion in its own right, and now we must suffer oppression not just from authorities, but from private companies and our fellow citizens.

One can draw numerous examples of Covidian jihad from any given week of these hellish past six months, but the progression is obvious. In April, a father was arrested for playing softball with his family in an open field in compliance with state orders. In July, a woman was berated by a fanatical old lady at the superstore for not masking her children, who are a risk approaching zero for spreading the virus.

Now heading into fall, some people are being asked to wear masks alone in their own homes, out in open parks, and while exercising. They’re supposed to strap them onto infants and toddlers, who are essentially at zero risk for spreading the Wuhan virus, and they aren’t ever supposed to complain about dental problems, headaches, or dizziness while mask-wearing — because every good COVID fanatic knows masks are harmless.

This is our world in 2020. Ironically, not even the experts can keep pro-lockdown, pro-mask fanatics from harassing and endangering others. If you want to prevent this reality from becoming permanent, stand up to the bullies and stand firm on the science — including voting out politicians who’ve abandoned science and recalling those who aren’t up for re-election in November.

Defense Strategic Communication Group: Free Society Or Propagandized Society - But Not Both

ottowacitizen |  The Canadian Forces wants to establish a new organization that will use propaganda and other techniques to try to influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of Canadians, according to documents obtained by this newspaper.

The plan comes on the heels of the Canadian Forces spending more than $1 million to train public affairs officers on behaviour modification techniques of the same sort used by the parent firm of Cambridge Analytica, as well as a controversial and bizarre propaganda training mission in which the military forged letters from the Nova Scotia government to warn the public that wolves were wandering in the province.

The new Defence Strategic Communication group will advance “national interests by using defence activities to influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of audiences,” according to the document dated October 2020. Target audiences for such an initiative would be the Canadian public as well as foreign populations in countries where military forces are sent.

The document is the end result of what Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance has called the “weaponization” of the military’s public affairs branch. The document is in a draft form, but work is already underway on some aspects of the plan and some techniques have been already tested on the Canadian public.

But the office of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Sunday that the plan, at least for now, is not authorized to proceed. Sajjan has raised concerns about some of the activities related to such influence and propaganda operations. “No such plan has been approved, nor will it be,” Floriane Bonneville, Sajjan’s press secretary, said after being asked by this newspaper about the initiative.

But a series of town halls were already conducted last week for a number of military personnel on the strategies contained in the draft plan.

The report quotes Brig.-Gen. Jay Janzen, director general military public affairs, who stated, “The motto ‘who dares, wins’ is as applicable to strategic communication as it is to warfare.”


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Highly Educated And STILL Fully Enslaved...,

technologyreview |  In July, Joseph Giaime, a physics professor at Louisiana State University and Caltech, gave me a tour of one of the most complex science experiments in the world. He did it via Zoom on his iPad. He showed me a control room of LIGO, a large physics collaboration based in Louisiana and Washington state. In 2015, LIGO was the first project to directly detect gravitational waves, created by the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion light-years away. 

About 30 large monitors displayed various aspects of LIGO’s status. The system monitors tens of thousands of data channels in real time. Video screens portrayed light scattering off optics, and data charts depicted instrument vibrations from seismic activity and human movement.  

I was visiting this complicated operation, on which hundreds of specialists in discrete scientific subfields work together, to try to answer a seemingly simple question: What does it really mean to know anything? How well can we understand the world when so much of our knowledge relies on evidence and argument provided by others? 

The question matters not only to scientists. Many other fields are becoming more complex, and we have access to far more information and informed opinions than ever before. Yet at the same time, increasing political polarization and misinformation are making it hard to know whom or what to trust. Medical advances, political discourse, management practice, and a good deal of daily life all ride on how we evaluate and distribute knowledge.

We overstate enormously the individual’s ability to amass knowledge, and understate society’s role in possessing it. You may know that diesel fuel is bad for gas engines and that plants use photosynthesis, but can you define diesel or explain photosynthesis, let alone prove photosynthesis happens? Knowledge, as I came to recognize while researching this article, depends as much on trust and relationships as it does on textbooks and observations. 

Thirty-five years ago, the philosopher John Hardwig published a paper on what he called “epistemic dependence,” our reliance on others’ knowledge. The paper—well-cited in some academic circles but largely unknown elsewhere—only grows in relevance as society and knowledge become more complex. 

One common definition of knowledge is “justified true belief”—facts you can support with data and logic. As individuals, though, we rarely have the time or skills to justify our own beliefs. So what do we really mean when we say we know something? Hardwig posed a dilemma: Either much of our knowledge can be held only by a collective, not an individual, or individuals can “know” things they don’t really understand. (He chose the second option.) 

MIT Has Become A World Economic Forum "On Script" Disinformation Source...,

technologyreview  |  Hundreds of thousands of Americans are dead in a pandemic, and one of the infected is the president of the United States. But not even personally contracting covid-19 has stopped him from minimizing the illness in Twitter messages to his supporters. 

Meanwhile, suburban moms steeped in online health propaganda are printing out Facebook memes and showing up maskless to stores, camera in hand and hell-bent on forcing low-paid retail workers to let them shop anyway. Armed right-wing militias are patrolling western towns, embracing online rumors of “antifa” invasions. And then there’s QAnon, the online conspiracy theory that claims Trump is waging a secret war against a ring of satanist pedophiles. 

QAnon drew new energy from the uncertainty and panic caused by the pandemic, growing into an “omniconspiracy theory”: a roaring river fed by dozens of streams of conspiratorial thinking. Researchers have documented how QAnon is amplifying health misinformation about covid-19, and infiltrating other online campaigns by masking outlandish beliefs in a more mainstream-friendly package. “Q,” the anonymous account treated as a prophet by QAnon’s believers, recently instructed followers to “camouflage” themselves online and “drop all references re: ‘Q’ ‘Qanon’ etc. to avoid ban/termination.” Now wellness communities, mothers’ groups, churches, and human rights organizations are trying to deal with the spread of this dangerous conspiracy theory in their midst. 

When Pew Research polled Americans on QAnon in early 2020, just 23% of adults knew a little or a lot about it. When Pew surveyed people again in early September, that number had doubled—and the way they felt about the movement was split down party lines, Pew said: “41% of Republicans who have heard something about it say QAnon is somewhat or very good for the country.” Meanwhile, 77% of Democrats thought it was “very bad.”

Major platforms like Facebook and Twitter have started to take aggressive action against QAnon accounts and disinformation networks. Facebook banned QAnon groups altogether on Tuesday, aiming directly at one of the conspiracy theory’s more powerful distribution networks. But those networks were able to thrive, relatively undisturbed, on social media for years. The QAnon crackdown feels too late, as if the platforms were trying to stop a river from flooding by tossing out water in buckets.

Politics Is Sticking To The Script While Pretending To Fight For Your Base

mises  |   The 2020 election has revealed jaw-dropping levels of "liberal" or progressive bias in the media, from the increasing ascendance of woke language, enforced by the thought police, to deliberately ignored issues and information considered uncongenial to those dominating the agenda. To many, it seems as if the power being exercised against freedom of uncoerced and uncensored expression had metastasized full-blownout of almost nowhere. However, that ignores the fact that the bias extends beyond the media, to think tanks and “research” devoted to creating ammunition for the left/progressive conclusions the media loves to reach, and this bias has been around for a substantial period of time.

An excellent example of the production of the groundwork for the bias infusing media today is “research” published in 2003, in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin. Supported by $1.2 million in federal money, “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition” supposedly provided an “elegant and unifying explanation” for political conservatism. If you have been paying attention this year, some of its themes will seem familiar.

The authors found resistance to change and tolerance for inequality at the core of political conservatism. While proclaiming their findings to be nonjudgmental, they also concluded that conservatism was “significantly linked with mental rigidity and close-mindedness, increased dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity, decreased cognitive complexity, decreased openness to experience, uncertainty avoidance, personal needs for order and structure, need for cognitive closure, lowered self-esteem; fear, anger, and aggression; pessimism, disgust, and contempt.”

The researchers also equated Hitler and Mussolini with Ronald Reagan as “right-wing conservatives…because they all preached a return to an idealized past and favored or condoned inequality in some form.” And the types of inequality conservatives supposedly favored included the Indian caste system, South African apartheid, and segregation in the US.

Of course, according to the study, that “does not mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled.” But its authors certainly implied it.

Unfortunately, the hit-piece “research” overlooked crucial distinctions.

“Conservative” and “liberal,” as well as “progressive,” are adjectives that have been converted into nouns. But adjectives modify something else. That means the questions that must be addressed if bias is to be avoided include what it is someone is trying to conserve, in what ways whether we are liberal is to be judged, and what is to be considered progress.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

NO ONE Is Above Woke Consensus Restraints On Thought And Speech!!!

slate |  On Thursday night, Justice Sam Alito delivered the keynote address at this year’s all-virtual Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention. The Federalist Society, a well-funded network of conservative attorneys, has come under unusual scrutiny after Donald Trump elevated scores of its members to the federal judiciary. Its leaders insist that it is a mere debate club, a nonpartisan forum for the exchange of legal ideas. But Alito abandoned any pretense of impartiality in his speech, a grievance-laden tirade against Democrats, the progressive movement, and the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alito’s targets included COVID-related restrictions, same-sex marriage, abortion, Plan B, the contraceptive mandate, LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws, and five sitting Democratic senators.

Ironically, Alito began his prerecorded address by condemning an effort by the U.S. Judicial Conference to forbid federal judges from being members of the Federalist Society. He then praised, by name, the four judges who spearheaded a successful effort to defeat the ban—or, as Alito put it, who “stood up to an attempt to hobble the debate that the Federalist Society fosters.” Alito warned that law school students who are members of the Federalist Society tell him they “face harassment and retaliation if they say anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy.”

These comments revealed early on that Alito would not be abiding by the usual ethics rules, which require judges to remain impartial and avoid any appearance of bias. The rest of his speech served as a burn book for many cases he has participated in, particularly those in which he dissented. Remarkably, Alito did not just grouse about the outcome of certain cases, but the political context of those decisions, and the broader cultural and political forces behind them. Although the justice accused several Democratic senators of being unprofessional, he himself defied the basic principles of judicial conduct.

For instance, the justice criticized state governors who’ve issued strict lockdown orders in response to COVID-19, referring to specific cases that came before the court. Alito said these “sweeping” and “previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty” have served as a “constitutional stress test,” with ominous results. The government’s response to COVID-19, Alito continued, has “highlighted disturbing trends that were already present before the virus struck.” He complained about lawmaking by an “elite group of appointed experts,” citing not just COVID rules but the entire regulatory framework of the federal government.

Alito also warned of a broader, ongoing assault on religious liberty. “In certain corners,” he alleged, “religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.” Alito condemned the Obama administration’s “ protracted campaign” and “unrelenting attack” against the Little Sisters of the Poor, which refused to submit a form to the federal government opting out of the contraceptive mandate. The group alleged that submitting this notice burdened its religious exercise. Alito also disparaged Washington state for requiring pharmacies to provide emergency contraception—which, he claimed, “destroys an embryo after fertilization.” (That is false.) Finally, Alito rebuked Colorado for attempting to compel Jack Phillips to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.* He noted that the couple was given a free cake and supported by “celebrity chefs.”


The Alternative Is Internet Originalism - No Censorship

jonathanturley  |  We have been discussing the calls for top Democrats for increased private censorship on social media and the Internet.  President-elect Joe Biden has himself called for such censorship, including blocking President Donald Trump’s criticism of mail-in voting. Now, shortly after the election, one of Biden’s top aides is ramping up calls for a crackdown on Facebook for allowing Facebook users to read views that he considers misleading — users who signed up to hear from these individuals.  Bill Russo, a deputy communications director on Biden’s campaign press team, tweeted late Monday that Facebook “is shredding the fabric of our democracy” by allowing such views to be shared freely.

Russo tweeted that “If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a problem during our election, just wait until you see how it is shredding the fabric of our democracy in the days after.” Russo objected to the fact that, unlike Twitter, Facebook did not move against statements that he and the campaign viewed as “misleading.” He concluded. “We pleaded with Facebook for over a year to be serious about these problems. They have not. Our democracy is on the line. We need answers.”

For those of us in the free speech community, these threats are chilling. We saw incredible abuses before the election in Twitter barring access to a true story in the New York Post about Hunter Biden and his alleged global influence peddling scheme. Notably, no one in the Biden camp (including Biden himself) thought that it was a threat to our democracy to have Twitter block the story (while later admitting that it was a mistake).

I have previously objected to such regulation of speech. What is most disturbing is how liberals have embraced censorship and even declared that “China was right” on Internet controls.


Collectivism Is The Manipulation Of The Many By The Few

outofthecave  |  Never before in history have we seen such fertile ground and incentives toward groupthink and mass histrionics as we have today with total saturation of social media. Once our mobile phones were converted into near Star Trek level tricorders, and WiFi became ubiquitous we found ourselves swimming in “The Spew”, without even realizing that we had become like fish in a digital aquarium.

While I would be loathe to dispute the benefits the advent of the Internet bestowed on humanity, those of us who have watched it evolve over the past few decades or even had a minor hand in shaping and building it can’t help but wonder if somewhere along the way, things took a bad turn.

The great enablers of digitized groupthink are the social media platforms.

All that time you spend on Facebook, arguing politics with people you’ll never meet or care about. It can take over your life and you end up having those same arguments with the  people who truly matter in your own life: your friends and family.

All of that time, all those threads, tweetstorms, pile-ons, trending hashtags, updating your avatar in conformance with the issue de jour, at some point you have to ask yourself why you are expending the bulk of your mental energy chiming in with your opinion on things that are for the most part completely out of your control and that you’ll never be able to impact in any meaningful way.

Whose ends are you serving by participating in that? Certainly not your own. You don’t actually gain anything from going along with this, and if you actually consider the opportunity cost you begin to see the possibilities of what you could accomplish in your own life, for yourself and your family, if you spent your time doing something else.

What is the difference?

Or, how can you tell the difference between participating in some online social movement that you are told benefits the greater good vs. acting in your own rational self interest?

When you click or “like” or share or block or comment  you are generating data for the platform and the platform is not the greater good. It is not the collective will of the people, it is aggregated data that can and will be manipulated by the few to move the many  in the direction that serves the aims of other people, not you.

You see this exposed when the platform overtly signals what it desires to be amplified versus what it seeks to attenuate. In a truly digital collective” the will of the aggregate would simply be expressed in the unfiltered propagation of certain narratives over others.

But that doesn’t happen and in it not happening the veneer of legitimacy is removed from collectivism in totality, revealing it for what it really is.

Collectivism is not community, it is not the greater good, and it is not cooperation. There is only The Collective in the rhetorical or symbolic sense, but in reality Collectivism is the manipulation of the many by the few. That’s it. It’s basically marketing at the level of the psyche except the payload isn’t brand awareness as much as they are incentives for compliance and disincentives for wrongthink.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Epistemological Crisis...,

Propaganda works: As many democrats believe in Russiagate

As Trump supporters believe this election was not conducted fairly...,

Shall We Pretend That Bill Barr Doesn't Understand The Iron Law, The Deep State, Or The PMC?

turcopolier  |  There are a lot of Trump supporters who are very frustrated, even angry, with the silence of Attorney General Bill Barr in the wake of last Tuesday’s attempted Democrat heist of the Presidential election. But there are indications that Barr, who understands what it takes to fight the entrenched bureaucracy that is aligned with a conspiracy that involves the media, tech companies and computer software companies supplying voting machines, is preparing to move in a dramatic, far reaching strike to expose this fraud.

I have a dear friend who knows Barr very well. Rarely does he show this kind of visceral anger. I find it difficult to believe that in the ensuing two months, Barr has decided to curl up into a fetal position and allow the Republic to be eviscerated.

Now look at the actions on Monday. Barr, following DOJ protocol, sent a letter authorizing federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities. That same day, the DOJ official in charge of voter fraud investigations, Richard Pilger, resigned.

Pilger is a compromised deep stater. I believe his resignation was, at a minimum, encouraged by Barr.

No Indictments Because Durham And His Deputy Dannehy Are Deep State PMC...,

NYMag |  On September 10, Nora Dannehy resigned as the deputy to John Durham, the federal prosecutor investigating the government’s probe into the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Dannehy left her post and the Justice Department in part because of Attorney General William Barr’s pressure on Durham to release a report on his investigation’s findings before Election Day, according to a person familiar with her thinking. Trump had long been hoping a report out this fall would damage Democrats, including Joe Biden, and help him win reelection. In Trump’s terminology, Durham’s report would reveal an “attempted overthrow” of his administration by Democratic insiders. But Justice Department guidelines restrict prosecutors from taking such actions within 60 days of an election because they might affect the outcome of the election. Both Durham and Dannehy believed that if they complied with Barr’s demands they would be violating this doctrine, according to two people familiar with their thinking.

Durham, who is the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, and Dannehy were also troubled that Barr had purposely misrepresented their work in numerous public comments, the two people said. According to two sources familiar with the probe, there has been no evidence found, after 18 months of investigation, to support Barr’s claims that Trump was targeted by politically biased Obama officials to prevent his election. (The probe remains ongoing.) In fact, the sources said, the Durham investigation has so far uncovered no evidence of any wrongdoing by Biden or Barack Obama, or that they were even involved with the Russia investigation. There “was no evidence … not even remotely … indicating Obama or Biden did anything wrong,” as one person put it.

Shortly after the resignation of his prized deputy and with the election looming on the horizon, Durham phoned Barr. He forcefully told the attorney general that his office would not be releasing a report or taking any other significant public actions before Election Day, according to a person with knowledge of the phone call. Dannehy’s resignation constituted an implied but unspoken threat to Barr that Durham or others on his team might resign if the attorney general attempted to force the issue, according to a person familiar with Durham’s thinking.

After hearing from Durham in September, Barr informed the president and allies that there would be no October surprise, causing Trump to lash out. “Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes — the greatest political crimes in the history of our country — then we’re going to get little satisfaction unless I win,” he told Fox Business last month. “[These] people should be indicted, this was the greatest political crime in the history of our country. And that includes Obama and it includes Biden.”


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Pelosi's Professional Managerial Gamesmanship Under The Iron Law Of Institutions

billmoyers  |  This is known as the Iron Law of Institutions: “The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself.” McConnell wants to retain power personally, and is thinking past the upcoming loss of power for the party. (I’ve noted how he’s setting up for a re-run of post-Obama Republican dominance as well.)

What’s been less understood is how the Iron Law of Institutions is affecting Nancy Pelosi’s decision-making as well.

Pelosi’s appearance with Wolf Blitzer was an absolute train wreck, with her blasting him for being a GOP “apologist” when all he said over and over again was “people are hurting, can’t you come to a deal?” When you get in a fight with someone so unintelligent that he broke the record for negative dollar amounts on Celebrity Jeopardy, and you lose that badly, something is wrong with your messaging. Yet Pelosi proudly displayed the transcript on her website anyway.

What was she really doing in that interview? She was defending her committee chairs, who she has put out front and center as objecting to this and that part of the White House’s $1.8 trillion counter-offer. Writ large, your macro-economic pundit might see the objections as pretty trivial. But I guarantee you they’re important to one committee or one sub-caucus or one bloc of Democrats. For example, money for child care, which Pelosi has consistently called to light, is critical for women of color, who make up a near-majority of providers. Things like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit (which Pelosi wants increased and made useful for the pandemic tax year) are pet projects of Ways and Means Committee members. These are things that Pelosi can point to and tell House Democrats that she’s fighting for their objectives.

Underlying that is the fact that this is a purely theoretical exercise. Pelosi taking or not taking the deal will not matter as to whether stimulus reaches the American people. McConnell is the roadblock, and the mission is doomed. So the only thing Pelosi needs to protect is her status among the Democratic caucus.

So far, practically nobody inside the caucus has disagreed with her position. One of the truly terrible after-effects of the pandemic has been the dissolution of Congress as a legislative body. All lawmaking has funneled up to the Speaker; the bulk of the House has been prevented from governing. There’s something darkly comic in progressives fighting so hard to upset incumbents and gain additional members of the Squad, so they can sit around too until Pelosi tells them to vote for something.

But it’s up to the caucus to be mad about that, not me. And all indications are that they’re not mad. Pelosi’s imperiousness may have been a problem at points during the pandemic. But people have short-term memories, and on this negotiation, Pelosi is trying pretty hard to show that the objections are caucus-wide, and picking out little provisions that likely matter to key members.

The other backdrop to all of this is that Pelosi wants one last term as Speaker with a Democratic trifecta, one last chance at a burst of policymaking. She made a deal in 2018 that earned her the Speaker’s gavel in this Congress, but only for two terms. And in that second term, she needs two-thirds support of the caucus to win the Speaker’s race. It took a lot of hustle for Pelosi to secure majority support in 2018. So, in keeping with the Iron Law of Institutions, she’s tending to her caucus as well.

Inexcusable Oxygen Theft By The Professional Managerial Class

The professional managerial class lives in an Atlassian/Tableau fantasy world (formerly Powerpoint and Excel) Their ability to ‘model’ and then ‘pitch’ (and fund) a decision (read, allocation of Other People’s Money), using an elaborate smokescreen of elementary finance and decision science that masks a few dumbed down operating assumptions (or worse, ‘benchmarks and kpi's’) carries a far higher paycheck and prestige than the hard work, expertise and experience required to discover real world inputs.
In fact, real world experience is actively harmful in PMC world. After all, it tends to result in ‘FUDs’ (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt), and therefore no greenlight and no remunerative follow on workstreams (see ‘Bu!!sh!t Jobs)

Having a degree does not make one a member of the PMC, it is being in an institutional or professional setting where you are subject to pressure about your work product and process, despite the appearance of some degree of autonomy by virtue of elite status. It most certainly is not just about credentials or pay. And you don’t have to be senior either. 
Increasingly, if you want to get and hang on to a PMC job, that job will involve dishonesty or exploitation of others in some way. Industries such as finance have seized and held onto larger and larger proportions of the economy.  The same disproportionate growth can be seen in financialised healthcare and finacialised education.
In other words, being a member of the PMC critically includes that you are sufficiently not in control of your work process or product that if you object to widespread practices (either in the industry or at your place of employment) that you find morally offensive, you can expect to suffer serious career or income costs. Most people believe they can’t afford that and so go along with the program.

nakedcapitalism  |  In the years 2016-2020:

1)The Professional Managerial Class (PMC) attained class consciousness.

2) The PMC was and is embubbled by a domestic psyop.

3) The press replaced reporting with advocacy.

4) Election legitimacy is determined by extra-Constitutional actors.

5) “Fascism” became an empty signifier, not an analytical tool.

Let us look at each of these claims.

1) The PMC attained class consciousness. As Thomas Frank has shown (Listen, Liberal!), the PMC has replaced the working class as the Democrat Party base[1]. During the period 2016-2020, the PMC, collectively, experienced Trump’s election as literal, actual trauma (as pain, as an energy suck, as constant stress, as depression, etc. Parents wept to tell their children, and so forth. That the burden of such trauma is — with respect to the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by, say, soldiers. abuse victims, or the homeless — quite slight may lead some — well, me — to mock it (“How was brunch?”), but the trauma is deeply felt and real). Importantly, as Steve Randy Waldman has urged, the class position — and hence the class consciousness — of the PMC is marked by “predatory precarity“; the predation comes from what a professional must do to maintain their class position in a financialized economy driven by rent-seeking; the precarity comes from the fact that their class position is maintained, not by the ownership of capital, or the inheritance of a title, but by expensive “positional goods” like credentials. Trump’s right-wing populism, with its distrust of experts — the same meritorious experts whose Esq.s were on every foreclosure notice or dunning letter, and whose M.D.s were on every surprise medical bill — struck directly at both exposed nerves. Not only might they not be consulted on how best to rule, their very credentials might turn out to be worthless. Hence the rage, the fear, the hate, certainly universally expressed in the press, but also in such organizations as Indivisible, the Women’s March, etc. The PMC as a class came to consciousness screaming Make it stop!

2) The PMC was and is embubbled by a domestic psyop. Make it stop! was, however, followed hard upon by I didn’t do it! Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, in Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, describes how Robbie Mook deployed RussiaGate to delegitimize the newly elected President in a meeting with the rest of the defeated Clinton camp the day after Election Day 2016. RussiaGate became the Goebbelsian propaganda operation that it was — if there had been anything to it, Pelosi would have impeached Trump for it, Mueller Report or no[2] — through an unholy alliance of the Democrat Party apparatus, the intelligence community, and the press. All were variously motivated — “There in stately splendor, far removed from the squalid village below, they fight their petty battles over power and money” (Bob and Ray) — but the effect on the PMC was extraordinary: To this very day, any opposing or dissenting force to the liberal Democrat orthodoxy of the day can be dismissed with a one-liner about Putin! I’ve never seen anything like it.[3] Both (1) and (2) combined to drive turnout, voluntering, donations, and everything else. (That the Democrat base is too slim to rule on its own is another issue entirely.)

State And Local Governments About To Get A Self-Inflicted Shit-Hammering...,

jacobin |  Centrist Democrats are tacking hard right on the shaky premise that calls for Medicare for All and policing reform flattened the anticipated “blue wave.” And in statehouses, that wave proved less than a ripple: Republicans now control both legislatures in thirty states and have a “trifecta” stranglehold (claiming the governor’s office, too) in twenty-three of those.

All this will make it harder to address one of the starkest failures of the government’s response to the COVID-19 economic crisis: the sustained neglect of state and local finances. State and local governments are directly responsible for providing essential services, including education and public health. And they are an important source of (mostly) good jobs, employing almost 20 million people — or about one in eight workers — when the virus struck.

The CARES Act included $150 billion in aid to state and local governments, but with the proviso that it could only be used to defray the unanticipated costs of fighting the pandemic — not for any “regular” budgetary lines. In some states, governors either skirted these limits (using federal funds, for instance, to fill potholes) or made dubious decisions as to who to protect. Both Arizona and Iowa used large chunks of their CARES grants to backfill their unemployment insurance trust funds — shielding employers from future tax increases even as their workers lost access to extended or expanded unemployment benefits.

The only other assistance was an effort to financialize state and local desperation. The CARES Act authorized the Federal Reserve (through a new Municipal Liquidity Facility) to buy state and local bonds. This line of credit just kicked the crisis down the road. And the loan terms and costs were so onerous that, as the Center for Popular Democracy concluded in June, all but a handful of the jurisdictions that met the program’s population thresholds were “functionally excluded.”

As summer spilled into fall, it became clear that no further federal money was on the way. The Heroes Act earmarked more than $1 trillion for state and local aid for any pressing needs (including shoring up revenues) but the Republican response — not a penny for state and local governments and sweeping immunity for business from COVID-related lawsuits — ground negotiations to a halt.

Recessions always savage state and local budgets, but this one — given its suddenness and severity — has been especially rough.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Represent Constituents?!?!?! Silly Tlaib - We Have A Mandate From Paying Donors!!!

dailycaller |  “Despite an obvious preference by Democratic leadership to focus on the suburbs and former Republican voters rather than working-class communities of color, progressives like Stacey Abrams, Rep. Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib are showing us – through turnout results in their states and cities – where Democrats must invest to build the party,” the memo says.

“We’re not going to be successful if we’re silencing districts like mine,” Tlaib said, according to Politico. “Me not being able to speak on behalf of many of my neighbors right now, many of which are black neighbors, means me being silenced. I can’t be silent.” 

“We are not interested in unity that asks people to sacrifice their freedom and their rights any longer,” Tlaib continued. “And if we truly want to unify our country, we have to really respect every single voice. We say that so willingly when we talk about Trump supporters, but we don’t say that willingly for my Black and brown neighbors and from LGBTQ neighbors or marginalized people.”

Progressives are pushing for power in the Joe Biden administration, despite the criticism from moderate Democrats. Tlaib reportedly wants to see a public educator and labor advocates in top positions. Progressives and left-wing strategists don’t want Biden to work across the aisle with Republicans, although Biden has expressed his desire to create a sense of unity by doing so.

“If [voters] can walk past blighted homes and school closures and pollution to vote for Biden-Harris, when they feel like they don’t have anything else, they deserve to be heard,” Tlaib said, choking up as she expressed frustration near the end of an interview this week. “I can’t believe that people are asking them to be quiet.”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for an “unapologetic agenda” that is distinct from the GOP “instead of trying to play to notions of civility,” Politico reported. Specifically, Ocasio-Cortez wants the Democratic Party to establish a cohesive message on racism because “Democrats don’t want to talk about race.”


They'll Be Fooling No One And It Will Only Add To The Rage

straightlinelogic |  The idea of individual rights protected by the government was the foundation of the American experiment. It was and has been imperfectly realized; it is an ideal and humanity rarely attains its ideals. Government is and always will be the antithesis of that still revolutionary ideal. The US government’s massive expansion has been at the cost of the people’s liberty and has destroyed most of their rights. That destruction has been ongoing since the beginning of the republic and Trump has done nothing to stop or reverse i. Philosophical insight and consistency are not among his virtues.

Nevertheless, a Biden administration will be worse, much worse. The Democrats now openly aspire to the collectivist ideal—the complete subjugation of the individual to the state. We’ve gotten a preview of coming attractions with coronavirus totalitarianism, which has obliterated the few freedoms and joys left to Americans. For the millions of Americans who voted for him, including me, Trump represented the last, best hope for what we consider the American way of life.

There’s no going back, and the way forward is for those who cherish the American ideals of individual rights, freedom, limited government, the rule of law, and equality before that law to break away from Washington’s and it’s aligned states’ corruptocracy and sunder the ties that bind us. Nations and governments are not cast in stone for time and all eternity.

Certainly the bankrupt dis-United States and its government aren’t. The bill is coming due for the debt orgy and an unprecedented and catastrophic global economic cataclysm will take down whomever is unlucky enough to be the president. A defeated Trump would dodge that bullet. The resulting chaos will be unmanageable by a government that produces only debt, can steal little or nothing from a bankrupt economy, cannot borrow at anything but ruinous interest rates, and which must cover its soaring budget deficits with scrip it either prints or creates via computer entries, whether or not it outlaws real money (gold) or forces its increasingly worthless scrip to stay in the banking system.

At that time, an organized secession movement has a real chance. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Collapse will be freedom’s staunchest ally if the moment is seized. It won’t be easy and it won’t be without blood. Until it happens, prepare for the worst, it is assuredly coming and coming soon, but work towards a brighter future in a nation that does not yet exist.

For those who don’t want to wait, almost six years ago (January 7, 2015) I published “Revolution in America,” which presents a nonviolent way to take down the government by attacking it at its weakest point. It requires the collective action of millions of people and at that time I believed the recommended course of action would remain hypothetical. Things change. Although the hour is late, any significant fraction of Trump’s rightfully enraged 71 million voters could still put the plan into effect. The article merits a second look. Please pass it, and this article, on.

So What Will The Deplorables Do?

Asia Times |  US intel is very much aware of well-documented instances of election fraud. Among them: NSA software that infiltrates any network, as previously detailed by Edward Snowden, and capable of altering vote counts; the Hammer supercomputer and its Scorecard app that hacks computers at the transfer points of state election computer systems and outside third party election data vaults; the Dominion software system, known to have serious security issues since 2000, but still used in 30 states, including every swing state; those by now famous vertical jumps to Biden in both Michigan and Wisconsin at 4am on November 4 (AFP unconvincingly tried to debunk Wisconsin and didn’t even try with Michigan); multiple instances of Dead Men Do Vote.

The key actor is the Deep State, which decides what happens next. They have weighed the pros and cons of placing as candidate a senile, stage 2 dementia, neocon warmonger and possible extorsionist (along with son) as “leader of the free world”, campaigning from a basement, incapable of filling a parking lot in hs rallies, and seconded by someone with so little support in the Dem primaries that she was the first to drop out.

The optics, especially seen from vast swathes of the imperial-interfered Global South, may be somewhat terrible. Dodgy elections are a prerogative of Bolivia and Belarus. Yet only the Empire is able to legitimize a dodgy election – especially in its own backyard.

Welcome to the New Resistance

The GOP is in a very comfortable position. They hold the Senate and may end up picking up as may as 12 seats in the House. They also know that any attempt by Biden-Harris to legislate via Executive Orders will have…consequences.

The Fox News/ New York Post angle is particularly enticing. Why are they suddenly supporting Biden? Way beyond internal family squabbles worthy of the Succession saga, Rupert Murdoch made it very clear, via the laptop from hell caper, that he has all sorts of kompromat on the Biden family. So they will do whatever he wants. Murdoch does not need Trump anymore.

Nor, in theory, does the GOP. Former CIA insiders assure of serious backroom shenanigans going on between GOP honchos and the Biden-Harris gang. Trade-offs bypassing Trump – which most of the GOP hates with a vengeance. The most important man in Washington will be in fact GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Still, to clear any lingering doubts, a vote recount would be absolutely necessary in all 6 contested states – WI, MI, PA, GA, NV and AZ. Through hand counting. One by one. The DoJ would need to act on it, immediately. Not gonna happen. Recounts cost a ton of money. There’s no evidence Team Trump – on top of it short of funds and manpower – will be able to convince Daddy Bush asset William Barr to go for it.

While relentlessly demonizing Trump for spreading “a torrent of misinformation” and “trying to undermine the legitimacy of the US election”, mainstream media and Big Tech have declared a winner – a classic case of pre-programming the sheep multitudes.

This Is Not About Biden, It's About The Crime Syndicate Behind Him

theautomaticearth |  With Biden you don’t get Biden, you get the entire cabal that went after Trump, the Democratic Party, the media, the intelligence agencies. And yes, Biden was and is very much part of that cabal. How people do not find that a whole lot scarier than Donald Trump is beyond me.

If -and no that is not when- Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20 2021, that cabal will take over the country. And we’ve seen plenty indications that they intend to make it impossible for the Republicans to ever get one of their own elected as president again. Moreover they will not be investigated for what they concocted over the past 4-5 years.

How the Hillary campaign and the DNC leaked things to the FBI, and the FBI to the MSM, how they lied in courtrooms to get FISA applications on Trump campaign people like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. How they set up Lt.-Gen. Michael Flynn so he wouldn’t be Trump’s National Security Adviser, because Flynn knew too much.

It’s a scheme so full of illegal actions that it will be devastating for the entire American political system if it is never investigated, or even if it isn’t investigated very very thoroughly, by an impartial party. And it won’t be if Biden becomes president.

The cabal wants you to think this is about Trump, and any given way to get rid of him is justifiable no matter what, but that is a very dangerous way of thinking. If crimes have been committed, they must be brought into daylight and before a court.

Problem is, of course, that at least half the nation has no idea of what’s been going on. Because they get their news and information from those media that are in on the whole deal. They won’t know that the DNC paid for the Steele Dossier, or that is was just a bunch of lies, or that the FBI knew this even before Rosenstein appointed Mueller as Special Counsel. All that has been kept away from them.

And yes, 4 years ago Trump said he would fight the swamp, but landed right in the middle of it. Early in his presidency he found himself surrounded by the likes of McMaster, John Kelly, Tillerson, and many other swamp creatures, and today he still has people like Mike Pompeo. But at least Trump is an outsider, and if anything can ever be done to drain the swamp, it will have to come from an outsider. That it may take more than 4 years is something we have to take for granted.

The swamp has fought back, and they may yet win. Joe Biden is the face of that. But people who celebrate that victory should think again, whether they like Trump or not. The swamp is not good for you, and it’s not good for your country, your rights, your freedoms. Its entire MO is to take all these away from you. This is not a partisan thing; the fat ass of the swamp easily fits and sits across the divide.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

$15 - $25 Trillion? The True Wild-Assed Guess Cost Of Transitioning To Renewables

oilprice |  This is the amount of money to be invested in new power capacity globally over the next three decades. Most of this—80 percent—will be poured into renewables. This certainly makes the energy transition far from cheap, but no one—at least no one reputable—ever said going green would be cheap. Yet the amount of investments to be directed towards expanding wind, solar, and associated systems will not be the only costs to be borne during the transition. There may well be steep environmental costs as well.

BloombergnNEF, which conducted the analysis that resulted in the investment estimate for the next 30 years in energy, also said that between 2020 and 2050, another $14 trillion will be invested in the grid, likely to adapt it for a surge in solar and renewable power deployments, which, according to the analysis, will constitute 56 percent of total global generation capacity by 2050. And it will have spurred a mini golden age in mining.

Wind power, like solar power, requires a lot of metals and other minerals to produce essential components for the installations. Therefore, as the demand for wind turbines and blades jumps, so will the demand for the metals they are made of. It’s the same with the metals and minerals necessary for the production of a solar panel.

Here’s just one example that could perhaps illustrate the trend: according to a 2017 report by the World Bank, demand for silver could soar from the then-current 24,000 tons annually to more than 400,000 tons. And that’s under a best-case scenario that features a greater penetration of silver-free thin-film PV panels in the energy mix, at the expense of crystalline silicon panels that use silver. Under a worst-case scenario, demand for silver could top 700,000 tons.

This is quite an increase that will require a major expansion in mining and mining is an energy-intensive, not particularly environmentally friendly way of getting finite resources out of the ground, as investor Sam Kovacs writes in an article for Seeking Alpha addressing the challenges of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables. Now add to silver a host of other metals used in renewable energy installations, and the mining expansion becomes even more substantial, adding economic, social, and environmental costs to the transition.

Then there is energy storage. Without it, the transition will simply not happen. In fact, some are questioning whether it could happen given the current stage of development of energy storage technology. Two years ago, an article by James Temple for the Massachusetts Technology Review questioned the viability of the energy transition precisely because of energy storage, which, Temple argued, was still prohibitively expensive in light of the scale, to which such storage would need to be developed.


Go To Sleep Little Sheep - The World You Know Is Ending...,

theguardian  |  Normalcy and the restoration of a modicum of decorum to the White House: that is what many elite supporters of Joe Biden hope for now that he has won the election. But the rest of us are turned off by this meagre ambition. Voters who loathe Trump celebrate his loss, but the majority rue the return to what used to pass as normal or ethical.

When Trump contracted Covid-19, his opponents feared he might benefit from a sympathy vote. But Trump is not a normal president seeking voters’ sympathy. He doesn’t do sympathy. He neither needs nor banks on it. Trump trades on anger, weaponises hatred and meticulously cultivates the dread with which the majority of Americans have been living after the financial bubble burst in 2008. Obscenities and contempt for the rules of polite society were his means of connecting with a large section of American society.

The reason 2008 was a momentous year wasn’t just because of the magnitude of the crisis, but because it was the year when normality was shattered once-and-for-all. The original postwar social contract broke in the early 1970s, yielding permanent real median earnings stagnation. It was replaced by a promise to America’s working class of another route to prosperity: rising house prices and financialised pension schemes. When Wall Street’s house of cards collapsed in 2008, so did this postwar social contract between America’s working class and its rulers.

After the crash of 2008, big business deployed the central bank money that refloated Wall Street to buy back their own shares, sending share prices (and, naturally, their directors’ bonuses) through the stratosphere while starving Main Street of serious investment in good-quality jobs. A majority of Americans were thus treated, in quick succession, to negative equity, home repossessions, collapsing pension kitties and casualised work – all that against the spectacle of watching wealth and power concentrate in the hands of so few.

By 2016, the majority of Americans were deeply frustrated. On the one hand, they lived with the private anguish caused by the permanent austerity to which their communities had been immersed since 2008. And, on the other, they could see a ruling class whose losses were socialised by the government, which defined the response to the crash.

Donald Trump simply took advantage of that frustration. And he did so with tactics that, to this day, keep his liberal opponents in disarray. Democrats protested that Trump was a nobody, and thus unfit to be president. That did not work in a society shaped by media which for years elevated inconsequential celebrities.

Even worse for Trump’s opponents, portraying him as incompetent is an own goal: Donald J Trump is not merely incompetent. George W Bush was incompetent. No, Trump is much worse than that. Trump combines gross incompetence with rare competence. On the one hand, he cannot string two decent sentences together to make a point, and has failed spectacularly to protect millions of Americans from Covid-19. But, on the other hand, he tore up Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agreement that took decades to put together. Remarkably, he replaced it swiftly with one that is certainly not worse – at least from the perspective of American blue-collar workers or, even, Mexican factory workers who now enjoy an hourly wage considerably greater than before.

Moreover, despite his belligerent posturing, Trump not only kept his promise to not start new wars but, additionally, he withdrew American troops from a variety of theatres where their presence had caused considerable misery with no tangible benefits for peace or, indeed, American influence.