Monday, February 08, 2021

The NPIG Has Been Waiting Since The Outset Of Its Panicdemic To Implement Covid Domestic Terrorism Strategery

house.gov |  Dear Assistant Secretary Neumann:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend American lifein new and unpredictable ways, we seek an understanding ofhow DHS is preparing for and mitigating potential homeland security threats from bad actors, such as violent extremists in the United States and abroad, who may seek to exploit vulnerabilities stemming  from this metastasizing crisis.

To  that  end, we would  like  to  know how  the  Office  of  Threat Prevention and Security Policy is coordinating DHS prevention efforts to account for the evolving threat landscape under the specter of COVID-19. Recent media reports have highlighted how white supremacist extremists across the world are discussing ways  to  take  advantage  of  the  COVID-19  pandemic  to  advance  violent  ends,  including,  in  some  cases, accelerating society toward mass violence by sowing chaos.

ISIS, too, appears to be interested in exploiting the  crisis: in  the  March  19,  2020,issue  of  the  ISIS  magazine Al-Naba’,  an  editorial  urged adherents to leverage the pandemic to free prisoners from the “prisons of the polytheists and the camps of humiliation,” arguing that Western countries’ security forces are preoccupied with the crisis and their financial resources are being drained.

Federal law enforcement entities have published similar warnings. The Federal Protective Service, under DHS,released  an  intelligence  brief, entitled  “White  Racially  Motivated  Violent  Extremists  Suggest Spreading the Coronavirus,” warning that white supremacist extremists have discussed the “obligation” to spread COVID-19 to law enforcement and minority communities.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s field office in New York reportedly released an alert warning local police agencies that white supremacist extremist groups were encouraging members to intentionally spread the virus to police officers and Jews.

Extremists have,  of course,long made calls  to  violence against vulnerable groups. However, as the uncertainty, fears, and anxiety engendered by this pandemic strain our social fabric in many ways, we must renew our efforts to guard against vulnerabilities that bad actors may exploit.The Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violencestates that DHS will “counter terrorists and violent extremists’ influence online” and “develop prevention frameworks... to identify and respond to individuals at risk of mobilizing to violence.”

We seek to understand how this framework is being  implemented across  the  Department in  light  of  the  reports highlighting  extremists’  interest  in exploiting the current crisis here and abroad. To that end, we respectfully request an overview of the Department’s efforts to address and prevent any exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic by violent extremists, including any efforts with foreign partners. In addition, we ask to receive any products that DHS has disseminated to state, local, tribal, and territorial partners regarding this threat. We look  forward  to  continuing  our  partnership with  you in  tackling these  serious  issues. Thank  you  for your attention to this important matter.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Dealing With The Bottom Rung Of Society Does Not Give You An Excuse To Do Whatever You Want?

theadvocate |  Kerr said he was done serving a system that doesn't care about people like him.

"You have no idea how hard it is to put a uniform on in this day and age with everything that's going on," he said.

"My entire life has been in the service of other people ... y'all entrust me to safeguard your little ones, your small ones, the thing that's most precious to you, and I did that well. I passed security clearance in the military ... but that has allowed me to see the inner workings of things."

The videos show a man who professed he was upset by the state of society: “I’ve had enough.”

Clyde Rudolph Kerr III was many things.

"Rudy" was a son of New Orleans, his dad the famed New Orleans jazz trumpeter and educator Clyde Kerr Jr., who passed away in 2010. Both men were St. Augustine High School Purple Knights.

Kerr was a soldier who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, a lawman, and a hero to the students at St. Genevieve School, where he was a school resource officer. Kerr joined the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office in June 2015 and had served as a patrol deputy and SWAT team member before joining the school resource officer program, according to a statement from the agency.

“My heart goes out to Deputy Kerr, his immediate family and to all of the brothers and sisters he has at the sheriff’s office. We will do everything in our power to support our employees as we all grieve,” Sheriff Mark Garber said in the statement.

Todd Dwyer and Kerr became friends after working at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Police Department together in the early 2000s. Kerr would visit the Dwyers’ home every week, playing with their 8 and 4-year-old children, cooking out or dreaming up his next big plan. Kerr was disciplined but also had an infectious energy, the kind of guy everyone wanted to know and be friends with, his friend said.

“No matter where he was in the world, what was going on, everybody was always smiling who was around him,” Dwyer said.

The construction safety specialist said Kerr was the friend he went to for difficult conversations and hard truths — about race, politics, religion and the world their children were growing up in. Dwyer said the men didn’t keep secrets from one another. He and his wife noticed a shift in Kerr in the last two weeks, but the lawman was never explicit about taking his life.

 

Facism Is Capitalism That Really Means It

counterpunch |   American prisons are warehouses for inconvenient populations. This makes them (definitionally) Concentration Camps.

The alliance of the American left with right-wing nationalist national security and surveillance state officials since 2016 in fighting ‘fascists’ seems inexplicable in ideological terms. The reason? The national security and surveillance states are corporate-state amalgams that exist to enforce an imperial world order. The attempted U.S. coup in Bolivia was to control lithium for liberal, green EVs (Electric Vehicles). The U.S. coup in Venezuela that is still under way is to control oil. The build-out of the surveillance state domestically is to secure control of domestic politics by and for capital. This is fascism.

One of the many good arguments against George W. Bush’s 2003 war against Iraq was that combat forces turn into reactionary armies when they return home. Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, was a veteran of the first Gulf War. The militia movement of the early 1990s was made up of veterans of U.S. dirty wars in Central America and the first Gulf War. Veterans returning from W. Bush’s Iraq fiasco were unable to find meaningful employment during the Great Recession. What this meant practically is a choice between becoming a cop or stocking shelves at Target for minimum wage.

Those most capable of inflicting harm amongst the Capitol invaders appear to be those who had military training combined with an alleged willingness to use it. That a lot of cops appeared sympathetic to the invaders more likely than not ties to real or imagined shared experience in the military. The militarization of the police includes the psychology of seeing others as enemy combatants, as well as a duty to commit violence for imagined right. This is manifested in varying solidarities including class and the residual detritus of American history, including race. What is missing from assertions of what people ‘are,’ fascist, racist, etc., is any notion of relative power.

Consider: do liberals really believe that the U.S. is trying to restore democracy in Bolivia or Venezuela by ousting democratically elected leaders and replacing them with hard-right pawns of the U.S.? Why then would the CIA care about democracy in the U.S.? The CIA brought Saddam Hussein to power in Iraq. The CIA helped install Pinochet in Chile. The CIA ousted Mosaddeq in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala. While it is a large and complex organization, some fair proportion of everything dark and evil that has taken place since 1948 can be laid at its feet.

The point: between the alliance of corporate and state interests reflected in the Iraq War and the Wall Street bailouts, and the CIA’s long history of destroying functioning democracies for the benefit of American business interests, lies the approximate locus of American power. Few of the players involved in these machinations are motivated by ideology. One of Howard Zinn’s contributions in A People’s History is his explication of the economic motives that powerful people and organizations hide with ideological explanations of their actions. In other words, what people are, e.g. racist, fascist, does little to explain history.

Now that Donald Trump is out of power, what do the liberal opponents of fascism intend to do to disentangle the corporate from political power that defines it? One of the early answers is to redefine it as exclusively the province of authoritarian leaders. In fact, the Nazis based much of their political economy on the American model. The Americans provided eugenics, slavery, genocide, the legal framework for Nazi race laws, and an industrial model that motivated some fair portion of German militarism. In the present, the Americans have mass incarceration, a militarized police force, a large and intrusive surveillance apparatus, political police (FBI) and a public-private domestic spying operation.

Nevada Governor Sisolak And The 21st Century Company Town/Store...,

reviewjournal |   If you’ve got enough money, acres upon acres of undeveloped land and an “innovative technology,” you soon could form a new local government in Nevada.

When Gov. Steve Sisolak last month announced his plan to launch Innovation Zones in Nevada to jump-start the state’s economy by attracting new tech companies, the details of how those zones would operate proved scarce.

According to a draft of the proposed legislation, obtained by the Review-Journal but not yet introduced in the Legislature, Innovation Zones would allow tech companies like Blockchains, LLC to effectively form separate local governments in Nevada, governments that would carry the same authority as a county, including the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and justice courts and provide government services, to name a few duties.

Sisolak pitched the concept in his State of the State address as his plan to bring in new companies that are at the forefront of “groundbreaking technologies,” all without the use of tax abatements or other publicly funded incentive packages that had previously helped Nevada bring companies like Tesla to the state.

During his speech last month, Sisolak specifically named Blockchains, LLC as a company that had committed to developing a “smart city” in the area east of Reno that would run entirely on blockchain technology, once the legislation passes.

The draft, which could change before it’s unveiled as a formal bill, provides the first look into the details behind the concept.

The draft language of the proposal says that the traditional local government model is “inadequate alone to provide the flexibility and resources conducive to making the State a leader in attracting and retaining new forms and types of businesses and fostering economic development in emerging technologies and innovative industries.”

It adds that this “alternative form of local government” is needed to aid economic development within the state.

 

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Spreading Of Disaffection Against The Government

Not like Modi's HinduNazi white-shirts with their big ass-whopping sticks and his policy of doing away with government purchase of produce at guaranteed rates - might engender any "disaffection" against his preposterous naked predatory imperial government?

NYPost |  Greta Thunberg accidentally shared a message showing she was getting told what to write on Twitter about the ongoing violent farmers’ revolt in India — sparking a police investigation and a political firestorm, according to reports.

The 18-year-old left-wing eco-activist shared — and then quickly deleted — a message that detailed a list of “suggested posts” about the ongoing protests, according to the posts that were saved by Breaking 911.

The list gave a series of tips on what to post, asking her to also repost and tag other celebrities tweeting about it, including pop star Rihanna.

As well as the Twitter storm, the “toolkit” she shared also suggested highlighting planned demonstrations at Indian embassies.

The campaign material and social media template was created by Canada’s Poetic Justice Foundation, which claims to be a grassroots group creating “events to provoke, challenge and disrupt systemic inequities and biases,” Times Now said. The group’s website confirms it is “most actively involved in the #FarmersProtest.”

The group then shared to Facebook a series of screenshots of the posts it appears to have gotten celebrities to share.

After deleting the list, Thunberg then shared a supposedly newer “toolkit” and a message saying, “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.”

India’s foreign ministry issued a rare statement accusing “foreign individuals” and celebrities of “sensationalism” and “trying to enforce their agenda.”

Delhi police on Thursday confirmed that it had launched “a criminal case against the creators of the ‘Toolkit document'” that Thunberg shared.

“The call was to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India,” police said of the plot supposedly taken up by the celebs.

The force filed a First Information Report (FIR) — a preliminary formal investigation — with a specialist cyber-crimes squad leading the investigation, according to NDTV.

Domestic Terrorism Is A Naked Predatory Imperial Government Without Restraint

bombthrower |  These days I’m reading Marco Papic’s Geopolitical Alpha, and in it, his core premise, is this:

“Preferences are optional and subject to constraints, whereas constraints are neither optional nor subject to preferences.”

By this he means: many investors factor their assumptions around how governments will impact their plans on what turn out to be policy preferences. But what actually happens, and what actually does impact their activities will be shaped by constraints, not preferences.

Said differently, a lot of capital gets allocated on what people think governments want to do, but what actually matters is what is preventing or constraining the government from doing what they want to do.

The five big constraints on governments are: political, economic, financial, geo-political and legal/constitutional.

Seen in this light, even if true, that governments wanted to impose a totalitarian communist regime globally, surely they are constrained from doing so. Right? RIGHT? They can’t just fscking do it. 

But… all kinds of things I thought governments couldn’t just come out and do over the last year…. well they just came right out and did it. And just to really mess with my head, Papic added two wildcard constraints to his list: terrorism and pandemics.

The problem is, those wildcards, they aren’t wildcard constraints – they’re wildcard enablers. Those two wildcards seem to have the ability to trump all normal constraints. Every one of those constraints went out the window because of the wildcards.

Where does that leave us?

Speaking for myself, I’m losing my moorings as I no longer have any clear idea what, if any, policy constraints exist anymore.

So I have no grounding in the arena of what’s possible, how arbitrarily policy makers can act, what’s to stop them from simply confiscating my wealth (except for my crypto), or nationalizing the business I’ve built up over 22 years, and doing the same to everybody else. This is Canada. We’re generally meek as fuck here.

Second passport and expat strategies won’t work if, as per the “World Debt Reset Program” outlined in the conspiracy theory, this happens simultaneously everywhere. Granted that seems farfetched, but the boundaries of the word “farfetched” have shifted dramatically since all this began.

The question I keep coming back to is “What’s to stop them from trying it?” One of my first articles that I wrote on my old blog said that:

“The ultimate goal of the State is to cultivate absolute dependency on it by its subjects. This is because until this happens there is a real danger that those governed will one day wake up and realize that the State is not only entirely unnecessary but actually malignant; a malevolent force actively impoverishing society to the benefit of it’s elites”

I think nation states do know this, and that the continuous iteration of failed policies painted all of them into a corner vis-à-vis the global economy and the financial system as we know it. As Daniel Dimartino Booth observed in a recent George Gammon podcast, (paraphrasing) “The central banks were screwed. They needed something like COVID because the financial system was coming unglued”.

Understanding that there is a real incentive for nation states to move in a drastic direction, combined with a conspicuous absence of restraints, is taking a huge psychological toll on the populace. As hypernormalization runs wild, a type of mass psychosis sets in which has been manifesting in rabid polarization, hysterical cancel culture, Reddit-driven stonk manias and myriad tribes of neo-Flagellants.

Something’s gotta give, but at the same time, I’m really worried that something’s about to give.

Sonderbehandlung (Special Treatment) Is Coming For Deplorables

NYTimes |  As a former overseas operative who has struggled both on the side of insurgents and against them, the past few days have brought a jarring realization: We may be witnessing the dawn of a sustained wave of violent insurgency within our own country, perpetrated by our own countrymen. Three weeks ago, it would have been unthinkable that the United States might be a candidate for a comprehensive counterinsurgency program. But that is where we are.

Overrepresented among the ranks of angry but ordinary citizens who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 were others, hardly ordinary, committed to violent extremism: the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers, “Christian” national chauvinists, white supremacists and QAnon fantasists, among others. Some of these groups may have planned their incursion in advance, but they could not have breached the Capitol if not for the wave of populist anger that swept them forward and over the barricades.

Given impetus and, they believed, political cover by former President Donald Trump, the capering idiots who filmed themselves in the Capitol seemed to think they were untouchable. They may be easy to identify and arrest now, but there are others — well armed, dangerous and now forewarned — who had a glimpse of what may be possible in the political environment Mr. Trump created.

There has long existed in this country a large, religiously conservative segment of the population, disproportionately (though not entirely) rural and culturally marginalized, that believes with some reason it is being eclipsed by a politically and culturally ascendant urban coalition of immigrants, minorities and the college-educated secular elites of tech and mainstream media. That coalition, in their eyes, abridges their religious freedoms, disparages and ‘cancels’ their most cherished beliefs, seeks to impose ‘socialism’ and is ultimately prepared to seize their guns.

This, in very general terms, is the core segment of the nation that has been unified, championed and politically energized by Donald Trump. 

Bridging the urban-rural cultural and political gap with facts, tolerance and empathetic sincerity is a vital national project, but one which has become effectively impossible. The sincere belief, reportedly held by a majority of Republicans, that the Democrats stole the recent national election through massive fraud has taken the longstanding fears and resentments of a large section of our fellow citizens to a new and qualitatively different level.

In context, their fury is understandable. If I believed as they do, I would be marching with them. The Big Lie perpetrated by Mr. Trump and his allies in the political class and among large elements of the right-wing media, preposterous as it may be, will have incalculable implications not just for long-term political comity in this country, but also for national security.

The violent demonstrations feared for Inauguration Week, in the face of extraordinary security precautions, didn’t materialize. Relatively few of our citizens would embark on a program of sustained violence in any case. But if popular anger has crested, left in its wake is a bitter, simmering restiveness, one that will provide a nurturing environment for the worst among us — the extremists who seek a social apocalypse. Their numbers may be relatively small, but even a small slice of a nation of over three hundred million is substantial. Without a program of effective national action, they and their new adherents are capable of producing endemic political violence of a sort not seen in this country since Reconstruction.

The challenge facing us now is one of counterinsurgency. Though one may recoil at the thought, it provides the most useful template for action, which must consist of three elements.

 

Deeply Compromised Senator Mark Warner Takes Over Official Senate Demonization Of Deplorables...,

NYTimes |  The Senate Intelligence Committee will examine the influence of Russia and other foreign powers on antigovernment extremist groups like the ones that helped mobilize the deadly attack on the Capitol last month, the panel’s new chairman said in an interview this week.

As the executive branch undertakes a nationwide manhunt to hold members of the mob accountable, Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virgina, said it would be vitally important for the influential committee to do a “significant dive” into antigovernment extremism in the United States, the ties those groups have to organizations in Europe and Russia’s amplification of their message.

With the power-sharing agreement between Democrats and Republicans in place, Mr. Warner took over this week as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after four years as its vice chairman. In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Warner outlined his priorities, such as the spread of disinformation, the rise of antigovernment extremist groups, Chinese domination of key technologies, Russia’s widespread hacking of government computer networks and strengthening watchdog protections in the intelligence agencies.

The White House has ordered the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to work with the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. on a new analysis of the threat from domestic extremist groups and the support they receive from foreign powers or overseas organizations.

The issue is a difficult one for the intelligence community. By law, the most influential agencies, including the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency, are not allowed to collect information domestically. But Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, has some oversight of the intelligence arms of the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security, which can collect information domestically. Other intelligence agencies look at foreign attempts to influence American groups.

While preliminary work by Ms. Haines’s office is underway, administration officials said that analysis was unlikely to be completed before April. But there appears to be significant interest in moving quickly on the issue in the Senate. At Ms. Haines’s confirmation hearing last month, a number of lawmakers raised the subject of domestic extremist groups.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will examine both white supremacist groups on the right, and antifascist, or antifa, groups on the left, though Mr. Warner was quick to say that the danger the groups posed was not the same. “I don’t want to make a false equivalency argument here,” he said, “because the vast preponderance of them are on the right.”

 

Friday, February 05, 2021

AOC Is An Attention-Whoring Liar Who Was Nowhere Near The Capital Building On January 6th

narrativesproject |  On February 1st, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez hosted an Instagram live-stream where she discussed her experience during the Capitol breach of January 6th. This morning the hashtag #AOClied began trending on Twitter.

Here’s part of the transcript*

*with filler words removed

And I go back to scrolling through lunch options for what we're gonna order, when all the sudden I hear "Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!" on my door. And then I hear these huge violent bangs on my door and then every door going into my office. Just "Bang! Bang!" [phone falls down] Shoot, see look I'm banging it over again [laughs]. "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!" like someone was trying to break the door down. And there were, there was no voices, there were no yells, no one saying who they were, nobody identifying themselves, and just "Boom! Boom! Boom!" And I just get up like this and I run over to the legislative office, and I run over to Gee [the legislative assistant]. And Gee just looks at me back, and he just goes "Hide! Hide! Run and Hide!" And so I, I run back into my office, I slam my door, there's another kind of like back area to my office, and I, I open it and there's a closet and a bathroom, and I jump into my bathroom and I close the door, and I just keep hearing these "Bang! Bang! Bang!" and I jump into my bathroom and I close the door and then I realize that I, the bathroom was the wrong choice, I, I should've jumped into the closet and so I start opening the the, the, I start opening the door to the bathroom so that I can—oh sorry you guys can't hear me [adjusts phone]. 

So I start, I hear these "bang bang bangs" and I start opening the door to my office and I start opening the door to my bathroom and I'm gonna run across to the closet—sorry you guys said I was a little bit muffled so let me repeat this part a little bit over again. Sorry this is a little bit hard to hear guys I'm trying to like, as you know my phone keeps falling.

And so basically I go into the back and there's a bathroom and then there's a closet, and I jump into the bathroom and I immediately realize that I shouldn't have gone into the bathroom I should've jump in the closet, and so I, I open the door when all of the sudden I hear that whoever was trying to get inside got into my office. And then I realized that it's too late, that it's too late for me to get into the closet, and so, I tried to kind of, I go back in and I, I hide back in, in the bathroom behind the door and then i just start to hear these yells of "Where is she?! Where is she?!" And I just thought to myself, "They got inside." And so I hide behind my door [stands up against the wall] like this. Like I'm here, and the bathroom starts going like this [gestures to her front] like the bathroom door's behind me or rather in front of me and I'm like this, and the door hinge is right here [sits back down]. And I just hear "Where is she?! Where is she?!" And this was the moment where I thought everything was over.

And the weird thing about moments like these is that you lose all sense of time. In retrospect, maybe it was 4 seconds. Maybe it was 5 seconds, maybe it was 10 seconds, maybe it was 1 second, I don't know. It felt like my brain was able to have so many thoughts in that moment between these screams and these yells of "where is she, where is she" and so I go down and I just. I mean I thought I was going to die. And I had a lot of thoughts. You have a lot of thoughts [laughs] I think when you're in a situation like that, and also one of those thoughts that I had was—I just happen to be a spiritual person and be raised in that context and I really just felt like if this is the plan for me, then people will be able to take it from hear. I had a lot of thoughts, but that was the thought that I had about you all. I felt that [voice wavers] if this was the journey that my life was taking, that I felt that things were going to be ok. And that I had fulfilled my purpose.

So far, this account sounds like a violent attacker is hunting the Congresswoman, and that she was within inches of her life. However, she continues:

Anyways, sorry you guys [wipes both eyes]. So anyways, as I'm hiding in this bathroom. I'm hiding in this bathroom, hearing these yells of these men, or just this a man. Just one man going "where is she, where is she," I start to look through the door hinge to see if I can see anything, and there's like a door here and like another door here so I'm like, I'm like trying to look through like two door hinges and so I look through this door hinge and I see this white man in a black beanie bump just open the door of personal office and come inside the personal office and yell again "Where is she?!"

And. I have never been quieter in my entire life. I was just, I don't even know if I held my breath but I was just, here, behind there [gestures door hinge] and I just start sliding down. And then all of a sudden my staffer Gee yelled out, and he, he's like, "Hey hey hey hey it's ok, come out! Come out!" So, I'm like, I don't know so deeply rattled, I'm still processing the end of my life when I come out, and I come out, and this man is a Capitol police officer.

The second part of this account clarifies that the Congresswoman was incorrect in thinking it was an intruder. However, it is not the part of the story that people have focused on. This is because “I incorrectly thought I was in danger” is a much less compelling story than “I was moments from being murdered.”

 

The First Rule Of The Big Club: Insiders Don't Criticize Other Insiders...,

persuasion |  Censorship is about who has the power to censor, and what checks are placed upon that power. Right now, tech companies have all the power, and they exercise it as a like-minded cartel. When we see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz voice similar concerns over what happened to WallStreetBets last week, we should realize that the politics of this issue in the post-Trump era will no longer divide along an axis of Left and Right, but of insider and outsider. 

Elizabeth Warren, when she started landing blows against Wall Street after the 2008 financial crisis, met with President Obama’s economics adviser, the former treasury secretary and Harvard president Larry Summers. He presented her with a choice: “I could be an insider or I could be an outsider,” she recalled in her 2014 memoir, A Fighting Chance. “Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People—powerful people—listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.”  

Occasional Cortex Fans tell themselves that AOC is positioning herself as an insider: “I will show you how to develop a base and raise money without going through Pelosi or the DNC.” They delude themselves into believing that she is the most interesting politician around right now.

It’s precisely this insider-protection scheme that the internet and social media have most disrupted. Insiders are massively powerful but few in number. Outsiders have always been numerous but unorganized. Social networking and online organizing have given the outsiders real power to effect change, and finally register their disgust at the way incompetent elites protect each other. The elites of Big Business, Big Media, Wall Street, and Washington are terrified of this, and will leverage any censorship power to keep the outsiders at bay. 

The Real “Big Lie”

After the storming of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, we heard a lot about the “Big Lie” perpetrated by Trump and his allies that the election was “stolen.” In reality, this narrative never got far. It was rejected by the media (including Fox News), thrown out by the courts, labeled by social networks as “disputed,” and dismissed by politicians, including Trump’s own vice president. Yes, some far-right groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers came to Washington to commit acts of violence, but they were roundly denounced. For a Big Lie to be successful, it has to have buy-in from the people in power, moneyed interests, the narrative-framers in the media generally, all of whom have to benefit from the lie and therefore repeat it. 

But what issue could possibly unite all of these constituencies? For several years, elites in the media, government, and now finance have denounced social media as a tool for propaganda, disinformation and hate. Social media was to blame for the Russian disinformation that supposedly elected Trump in 2016. Social media was fingered as the main culprit in an “insurrection” that attempted to overthrow an election. And now, WallStreetBets is accused without evidence of spreading hate and misinformation. We’ve even been told that social media is worse than cigarettes

What all of our elites have in common is a reason to fear social media. Legacy media hates social media for disrupting their business models and competing with them for influence. Wall Street has just learned that organized social networks can threaten their control of the Monopoly board. The party in power benefits from increased censorship and repression of political dissent by labeling it “hate speech” and “disinformation.” Ironically, the tech oligarchs benefit the least from the censorship they impose, but the threat of break-up keeps them in line. 

If there is a Big Lie in American politics right now, it is the idea that censorship of social media is necessary to save democracy. In his book The Square and the Tower, the historian Niall Ferguson describes the age-old tension between hierarchies and networks—between the rulers in the Tower and the people in the Square. The last thing that the rulers want to see when they look down is a teeming throng in the Square. And nobody benefits more than the rulers from malleable censorship rules that are easily weaponized to restrict, disrupt, or disband the Square. What the insiders fear is not the end of democracy, but the end of their control over it, and the loss of the benefits they extract from it. Ultimately, the battle over speech is just one aspect of a broader war for power amid a growing political realignment that is not Left versus Right, but rather insider versus outsider. Thanks to social media, the outsiders are threatening to replace who’s in the Tower, and the insiders have never been more scared.

Is The Elite Overreaction To Trump An Overtly Feminized Expression Of Fear?

TAC |  Let's not attribute to malice that which can be explained by an insecure elite stumbling back into a tenuous grasp on power.

There is a real question worth asking here, and it lies at the heart of our current political dysfunction: why do the people in power, in government and beyond, consistently act in a way that makes them look like part of some vast left-wing conspiracy? Why are tectonic policy shifts at the state level being arranged around the transfer of power at the federal? Why did the media and big business suddenly change their tune on the miracle date of January 20?

I think the answer is fairly simple, and a lot less nefarious than some of the alternatives.

We hear a lot of talk these days about “the politics of fear,” and it’s almost exclusively directed at the right (and almost exclusively in ridiculous ways): the only reason anyone possibly could have voted for Donald Trump is that they’re conditioned to fear Xi Jinping, or Jack Dorsey, or black people; the only reason to oppose progressive social policies is a fear of homosexuals, or of women, or of men who think they’re women; the only reason to reject the candidates of Wall Street—whose names are always tagged with a big, dark capital “D”—is fear that our backwards way of life will be ravaged by Kamala Harris’ lizard-people overlords; et cetera, et cetera, until it becomes apparent that the only possible explanation for any of the left’s electoral failures is some deep terror ingrained in the minds of half the voting public.

But it’s worth talking too about the fear that drives the left. There’s the obvious example of the pandemic—the hysteria that left most of Blue America hunkered down like it was a nuclear apocalypse, only to bravely emerge from their bunkers in droves on November 3. That’s the same kind of fear that underlies the really fanatical climate stuff. But there’s another kind too, and it essentially boils down to a fear of opposition, a fear of not being in power.

It’s a function of our adversarial politics: when you see no way of working with someone, when you can find no common ground, when the stated goals of that person go against everything you believe, you’re probably going to be terrified of any situation in which that person has power and you don’t. And it’s not fear of the extremes, either—call me an optimist, but I don’t think there are many people stupid enough to sincerely believe that Donald Trump is a fascist. We live in a world where four years of sometimes-successful administration by a scattershot, moderate conservative puts the fear of God in about 80 million people.

So why does everything change the second 45 gives way to 46? It doesn’t require Don Jr.’s hypothetical nefarious plot. All it requires is that people in positions of power—the people who are terrified of losing those positions—act exactly as we would expect them to act under the influence of that terror. That doesn’t just mean Democratic governors who overplayed their hands, and then rethought their moves the second they stepped into a post-Trump world. It means the huge companies that, for the first time (and likely the last time) in a long time, didn’t have a buddy in the White House and now are ready to dive back into the game. It means the legacy media that went through a well-earned hell over the past five years, and now get a little breathing room to lob softball questions at a friendly politician. It means every American who subscribes to the progressive culture and narrative that dominate our institutions, who worried just for a moment that maybe they wouldn’t always be in control.

 

 

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Hunter Biden's Memoir "Like A Pink Horse Riding Down Nightmare Alley"

AP |   Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden and an ongoing target for conservatives, has a memoir coming out April 6.

The book is called “Beautiful Things” and will center on the younger Biden’s well publicized struggles with substance abuse, according to Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Acquired in the fall of 2019, “Beautiful Things” was kept under wraps even as Biden’s business dealings became a fixation of then-President Donald Trump and others during the election and his finances a matter of investigation by the Justice Department.

“Beautiful Things” was circulated among several authors and includes advance praise from Stephen King, Dave Eggers and Anne Lamott.

“In his harrowing and compulsively readable memoir, Hunter Biden proves again that anybody — even the son of a United States President — can take a ride on the pink horse down nightmare alley,” King writes in his blurb. “Biden remembers it all and tells it all with a bravery that is both heartbreaking and quite gorgeous. He starts with a question: Where’s Hunter? The answer is he’s in this book, the good, the bad, and the beautiful.”

In a snippet released by Gallery, Biden writes in his book, “I come from a family forged by tragedies and bound by a remarkable, unbreakable love.”

The president and first lady released a statement Thursday saying, “We admire our son Hunter’s strength and courage to talk openly about his addiction so that others might see themselves in his journey and find hope.”

During one of last fall’s presidential debates, Joe Biden defended his son from attacks by Trump.

“My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem,” the Democratic candidate said. “He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it, and I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my son.”

Huntergate: My Dad Is Important, Here's What You'll Need To Blackmail Me To Get To Him

TAC |  I  read the files on Hunter Biden’s laptop. They paint a sleazy picture of multi-million dollar wire transfers, potential money laundering, and possible tax evasion. They raise serious questions about the judgment and propriety of Jim Biden, the president-elect’s brother, and Joe himself. Call it smoke not fire, but smoke that should not be ignored. The files were supplied to TAC by a known source previously established to have access.

Joe Biden is lucky a coordinated media effort kept Hunter out of the campaign. The FBI has had the laptop since 2019, when they subpoenaed the files in connection with a money laundering investigation. Federal investigators also served a round of subpoenas on December 8, a month after the election, including one for Hunter Biden himself. While the legal thrust of the investigation by the federal prosecutor in Delaware is taxes, the real focus seems to be on Hunter’s Chinese connections. This all comes after the FBI has had over a year to examine some of the same files TAC looked at.

In the final weeks before the election, Hunter’s laptop fell into Republican hands. The story went public in the New York Post, revealing that Hunter Biden introduced his father, then vice president, to a top executive at Ukrainian energy firm Burisma less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company. The meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, sent Hunter Biden about a year after Hunter himself joined the Burisma board at a salary of $83,000 a month with no obvious work duties past making such introductions.

Nice work if you can get it, and to get it your dad better be vice president. If all that alone does not meet the test of impropriety, we need a new test. Hunter Biden’s value to clients was his perceived access to the White House. His father Joe was at least a passive participant in the scheme, maybe more than that.

The problem was many Americans never heard this story. Twitter led a social media charge to not allow the information online. After years of salivating over every bit of Trump family gossip, the mainstream media claimed the Biden story did not matter, or was Russian disinfo. Surveys suggest the information could have swung the election if voters had known about it. One survey showed that enough people in battleground states would have changed their votes to give Trump 311 electoral votes and reelection.

No mind, really. As soon as it became clear Joe Biden was going to win, the media on all sides lost interest in the laptop. The story became about the story. It devolved into think pieces about the Orwellian role of social media and some online giggling about the sex tapes on the laptop. But our short attention spans have consequences. The laptop still has a lot to tell us.

Hunter’s laptop was chock-a-block with video that appears to show Hunter smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with a woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images. There’s evidence there that Hunter spent money on escorts, some $21,000 on cam sites, big plays on all sorts of depravities. There is also Joe’s car insurance information, Hunter’s SSN, pages of call logs, and lots of email addresses, bank account numbers, and personal information of prominent people. None of the material is encrypted, just dumped on a standard MacBook Pro using the password “Hunter02.” The machine was regularly connected to the internet and might as well have had an electronic sign on it saying “My dad is important, here’s what you’ll need to blackmail me and others to get to him.”

The Lesson Of The BLM Protests

caitlinjohnstone |  Remember when Americans shook the earth with massive protests demanding an end to the police state and the entire liberal establishment just kept saying “I hear you, I agree with you” and then did absolutely nothing to even reduce police brutality? It’s important to remember such lessons.

People would ask me “Why are you supporting Black Lives Matter Caitlin?? Don’t you see all the corporations and corporate Dems support it? Why would they do that if it didn’t serve them?” This is why they did it. Empty words of support can defuse a situation far easier than open opposition.

Imagine if all the plutocrats, pundits and politicians had just yelled at the BLM protesters and admonished them to stop? It would have only turned people against them with far more aggression, and it would have exposed the fact that they are the enemy. It’s much more effective to say “I hear you, I agree with you” with no intention of taking any real action.

And really this is all institutions like the Democratic Party exist to do: defuse left populism and crush grassroots activism not with opposition, but with empty words of agreement that have no intention of action behind them. They’re just a bottomless pit that tricks people into pouring their energy into it, thereby stopping all leftward movement.

A kid who doesn’t want to clean their room will tell their parents “No! I don’t wanna!” A very clever kid who doesn’t want to clean their room will say “Yes! I’ll get on that right away” and then enjoy hours of peace and relaxation without parental nagging, and without cleaning. It’s the exact same way with the powerful. It’s much more efficacious for them to pretend to be on your side than expose the fact that they’re not. In the end the result is the same: the kid doesn’t clean their room. But they don’t get the kind of pushback they’d get if they said no.

Manipulators are good at manipulation. The people who make their way to the top in a corrupt system are manipulators. You can’t take their words at face value, mustn’t mistake vapid placation for victory. They’ll happily give you a mountain of words in exchange for your real treasure.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

So, Blueballs Combined With Hopelessness And Angst....,

Commenter at Naked Capitalism called Amfortas the Hippie dropped this today, I'm copying it here apropos of nothing in particular....,

Anecdote on the vibe in north houston 2-3-2021…feels very germane to this part of the zeitgeist: cousin calls, and says he’s coming up…same worry in his voice as a year ago, when he came out here to hide from the pandemic and correlated uncertainty. (he stayed til late april).

This time, his worry is civil unrest, violence, insurrection.

He’s a self-described “manwhore”…never nailed down…having numerous women all over texas that he breezes though and stays with for a while when work brings him near(he’s a roofer and tree expert and heavy equipment operator…with ample talent in all of them). The women in question are all divorcees, and seem happy with the arrangement: playing happy married to a hot guy who leaves before he becomes a chore.

Anyway…lately, he’s been hanging around north houston…where we’re both from.
Woodlands, magnolia, tomball, etc.

He lives in his truck on a spread of pineywoods he inherited…and gets a hotel room off and on, for a week at a time.
He spends a lot of time in bars, beer joints, dancehalls and clubs. It is this part of his life where we find the Doom:
he says the clubs, etc are at best ¼ populated…and that the ratio of men to women is, at best, 3 to 1.
of course this is the pandemic, and all…we both understand that…although he chafes at the mandates more than I do.

The scary part is the sentiments of the remaining men in these stag halls: “f&&k it…i ain’t doing this any more…they’ve screwed us all…” etc.


the way he puts it:”they’re tired of everything…the pandemic, the half-assed attempts at mitigating the pandemic, the economic results of those half-assed attempts, the lack of material support to mitigate the half-assed mitigations…and on and on in that vein…”

I interject: “so…blue balls, combined with hopelessness and angst”

him:”exactly!”

so I ask what he thinks will become of this mood/vibe…

Everything About The Corporate Fascist OBidenBama Administration Is Fake

caitlinjohnstone |  A new exclusive from The Daily Beast titled “White House Reporters: Biden Team Wanted Our Questions in Advance” reports that the White House press corps is being pressured to provide briefing questions ahead of time in a way that makes even mainstream media journalists uncomfortable.

“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one White House correspondent told The Daily Beast. “That’s not really a free press at all.”

“It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [White House Correspondents Association] for them to deal with it,” another source reportedly said.

While Obama’s deputy press secretary Eric Schultz calls the move “textbook communications work” designed to ensure that Biden’s press secretary has answers ready instead of having to “repeatedly punt questions”, clearly the reporters on the job feel differently.

“The requests prompted concerns among the White House press corps, whose members, like many reporters, are sensitive to the perception that they are coordinating with political communications staffers,” writes the Beast.

Having questions in advance would indeed be a good way to help insulate press secretary Jen Psaki (for whom liberals are already developing an unwholesome celebrity crush) from hard questions. This would avoid sticky situations like when Psaki deflected inquiries about treasury secretary Janet Yellen’s conflict of interest with the Citadel controversy by babbling about Yellen being the first woman in her position and claiming that receiving $800,000 in speaking fees from that company is no reason for her to recuse herself.

So this is just one more item on the steadily growing pile of fake things about this administration. Everything about it is phony. This is the Astroturf Administration.

 

Respect Science Respect Expertise Respect Hierarchy KNOW YOUR PLACE!!!

mondediplo |  Worrying about the crisis of authority is what liberals do these days in the United States. Older concerns, like the economic problems of blue-collar whites, have become a subject for liberal sneering, but restoring the rightful hierarchy of credentialed expertise has become a matter of real moral urgency. ‘Respect Science’ say the signs and stickers you see in liberal neighbourhoods. Respect expertise. Respect hierarchy. Know your place.

Foreign policy, it is said, must be reclaimed by the foreign policy ‘community’. Central bank policy must be protected from the influence of farmers. From the consensus views of the relevant professions there can be no dissent, at least not in public. ‘Doubt,’ I read recently in the Washington Post, ‘is a cardinal virtue in the sciences ... But it can be disastrous in public health, where lives depend on people’s willingness to trust those same experts.’ Therefore it has to be kept quiet, if not removed from view altogether — a thought-suppressing logic that can be extended into any field of knowledge you care to mention.

This essay is not a brief for free speech absolutism or an effort to rationalise conspiracy theory or an attack on higher learning. It is about the future of the Democratic Party, the future of the left, and here is the suggestion I mean to make: the form of liberalism I have described here is inherently despicable. A democratic society is naturally going to gag when it is told again and again in countless ways, both subtle and gross, that our great national problem is our failure to heed the authority of traditional elites.

Worse, when those traditional elites come together with unprecedented unanimity to insist their high rank proves their correctness and justifies their privilege ... when they say we are in a new cold war against falsehood ... when the news media dumps its neutrality and likens itself to superheroes and declares it is mystically attuned to truth and legitimacy ... when they do those things and then get the biggest news story of the decade fabulously wrong, a society like ours is going to spot the hypocrisy. And we are going to resent it.

Which is to say that the effect of all this moral judgmentalism has been the opposite of what was intended. To spend four years scolding people in the shrillest notes of moral hysteria was perhaps the perfect recipe for convincing Trump supporters to redouble their dedication to this deluded and prejudiced man. It is well known that shaming people for failing to live up to your personal high standards of Covid hygiene is not a good strategy for changing their behaviour. Multiply that dynamic by 300 million and you’ve got America in the age of Trump. Ten per cent of a nation energetically scolding the other 90%.

If historians still exist in 30 years, they will look back upon these last four years with disgust and bewilderment. Disgust when they contemplate the loud, vain ignoramus who sat in the White House scarfing hamburgers and spinning conspiracy theories on Twitter while Covid burned through the nation.

But when they look at liberals, they will shake their heads with disbelief. How could they have thought it was wise to try to enlist the great economic and cultural powers of our time — the masters of Silicon Valley — to try to censor our opponents? Ira Glasser, the old ACLU chief, relates how liberal academics embraced speech codes because they ‘imagined themselves as controlling who the codes would be used against’. What these well-meaning liberals didn’t understand, he continued, was that ‘speech restrictions are like poison gas. It seems like it’s a great weapon to have when you’ve got the poison gas in your hands and a target in sight, but the wind has a way of shifting — especially politically — and suddenly that poison gas is being blown back on you.’

As Glasser’s metaphor suggests, this cannot end well. The mob attack on the Capitol frightened us all. But for Democrats to choose censorship (via the monopolists of Silicon Valley) as the solution to the problem is a shocking breach of faith. There are many words one might use to describe a party that, over the last 30 years, has shown itself contemptuous of working-class grievances while protective of the authority of the respected... but ‘liberal’ isn’t one of them.

 

Damn Skippy Libertarians Are Domestic Terrorists!!!

antiwar |  The Department of Homeland Security issued on Wednesday a nationwide terror alert lasting until April 30. The alert warns of potential terrorist attacks from Americans who are “ideologically motivated” and have “objections to the exercise of government authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.”

The language used in this alert suggests that millions of Americans are potential terrorists. Second Amendment supporting, antiwar, anti-tax, anti-politics, anti-militarization, pro-life, and anti-Federal Reserve activists certainly have “objections to the exercise of government authority.” They are certainly viewed by the political class and its handmaidens in big tech and the mainstream media as ideological extremists. Anyone who gets his news from sources other than mainstream media or big tech, or who uses certain “unapproved” social media platforms, is considered to have had his grievances “fueled by false narratives.” For something to be considered a false narrative, it need only contradict the “official” narrative.

The "domestic terrorist” alert is the latest sign that activities on January 6 on Capitol Hill, like the attacks of September 11, 2001, are being used to advance a long-standing anti-liberty agenda. Legislation expanding the federal government’s authority to use its surveillance and other unconstitutional powers against “domestic terrorists” is likely to soon be considered by Congress. Just as the PATRIOT Act was written years before 2001, this legislation was written long before January 6. The bill’s proponents are simply taking advantage of the hysteria following the so-called insurrection to push the bill onto the congressional agenda.

Former CIA Director John Brennan recently singled out libertarians as among the people the government should go after.

This is not the first time libertarians have been smeared. In 2009, a federally-funded fusion center identified people who supported my presidential campaign, my Campaign for Liberty, or certain Libertarian and Constitution parties candidates as potentially violent extremists.

The idea that libertarianism creates terrorists is absurd. Libertarians support the non-aggression principle, so they reject using force to advance their political goals. They rely instead on peaceful persuasion.

Libertarianism is being attacked because it does not support just reforming a few government policies. Instead, it presents a formidable intellectual challenge to the entire welfare-warfare state.


Tuesday, February 02, 2021

(B x C x D = AHH) Biological Knowledge X Computing Power X Data = Ability To Hack Humans

Reuters |  BGI Group, the world’s largest genomics company, has worked with China’s military on research that ranges from mass testing for respiratory pathogens to brain science, a Reuters review of research, patent filings and other documents has found.

The review, of more than 40 publicly available documents and research papers in Chinese and English, shows BGI’s links to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) include research with China’s top military supercomputing experts. The extent of those links has not previously been reported.

BGI has sold millions of COVID-19 test kits outside China since the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic, including to Europe, Australia and the United States. Shares of BGI Genomics Co, the company’s subsidiary listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, have doubled in price over the past 12 months, giving it a market value of about $9 billion.

But top U.S. security officials have warned American labs against using Chinese tests because of concern China was seeking to gather foreign genetic data for its own research. BGI has denied that.

The documents reviewed by Reuters neither contradict nor support that U.S. suspicion. Still, the material shows that the links between the Chinese military and BGI run deeper than previously understood, illustrating how China has moved to integrate private technology companies into military-related research under President Xi Jinping.

The U.S. government has recently been warned by an expert panel that adversary countries and non-state actors might find and target genetic weaknesses in the U.S. population and a competitor such as China could use genetics to augment the strength of its own military personnel.

BGI has worked on PLA projects seeking to make members of the ethnic Han Chinese majority less susceptible to altitude sickness, Reuters found, genetic research that would benefit soldiers in some border areas.

Elsa Kania, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank, who has provided testimony to U.S. Congressional committees, told Reuters that China’s military has pushed research on brain science, gene editing and the creation of artificial genomes that could have an application in future bioweapons. She added that such weapons are not currently technically feasible.

BGI’s pattern of collaboration with the Chinese military was a “reasonable concern to raise” for U.S. officials, said Kania.

 

The Existential Crisis Of The Global Useless Class

weforum |  In Davos we hear so much about the enormous promises of technology – and these promises are certainly real. But technology might also disrupt human society and the very meaning of human life in numerous ways, ranging from the creation of a global useless class to the rise of data colonialism and of digital dictatorships.

Automation will soon eliminate millions upon millions of jobs, and while new jobs will certainly be created, it is unclear whether people will be able to learn the necessary new skills fast enough. Suppose you are a fifty-years-old truck driver, and you just lost your job to a self-driving vehicle. Now there are new jobs in designing software or in teaching yoga to engineers – but how does a fifty-years-old truck driver reinvent himself or herself as a software engineer or as a yoga teacher? And people will have to do it not just once but again and again throughout their lives, because the automation revolution will not be a single watershed event following which the job market will settle down, into a new equilibrium. Rather, it will be a cascade of ever bigger disruptions, because AI is nowhere near its full potential.

Old jobs will disappear, new jobs will emerge, but then the new jobs will rapidly change and vanish. Whereas in the past human had to struggle against exploitation, in the twenty-first century the really big struggle will be against irrelevance. And it is much worse to be irrelevant than exploited.

Those who fail in the struggle against irrelevance would constitute a new “useless class” – people who are useless not from the viewpoint of their friends and family, but useless from the viewpoint of the economic and political system. And this useless class will be separated by an ever-growing gap from the ever more powerful elite.

This danger can be stated in the form of a simple equation, which I think might be the defining equation of life in the twenty-first century:

B x C x D = AHH!

Which means? Biological knowledge multiplied by computing power multiplied by data equals the ability to hack humans, ahh.

If you know enough biology and have enough computing power and data, you can hack my body and my brain and my life, and you can understand me better than I understand myself. You can know my personality type, my political views, my sexual preferences, my mental weaknesses, my deepest fears and hopes. You know more about me than I know about myself. And you can do that not just to me, but to everyone.
 

 

 

Monday, February 01, 2021

Short Seller Hedge Funds Were The Good Guys In Gamestop Pissant Insurrection...,

WaPo  |  The particular targets of the GameStop crowd are hedge funds and short sellers. Here, a couple of definitions may be useful. Generally speaking, a hedge fund is a small-to-medium-size company that makes money by choosing smart investments. There is nothing nefarious about this. To the contrary, if you don’t like too-big-to-fail banks that get backstopped by taxpayers, small-enough-to-fail hedge funds ought to be celebrated. If you worry about complex financial conglomerates with corrupting conflicts of interest, single-purpose investment boutiques are simpler and healthier. On the online forums where the GameStoppers congregate, you read complaints about hedge funds being bailed out during the crisis of 2008. Actually, banks, brokers, insurers, mortgage providers, money market funds and even car companies got rescues. Hedge funds got nothing.

What about short sellers? These are specialists who research stocks that might go down, sometimes because bosses are illegally covering up bad news about their companies. When short sellers identify a case of fraud or similar, they borrow and sell the stock, hoping to buy it back at a lower price later. Again, there is nothing evil about this. To the contrary, it’s a way of keeping prices honest. A market without short sellers is like a political system without investigative journalists.

This, however, is not how GameStoppers see things. They have gone after a short seller named Andrew Left, hacking into his social media accounts, sharing his personal information online, ordering dozens of pizzas to be delivered to his home in the middle of the night, and texting his children with threatening and profane language, according to the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps not surprisingly, Left has announced he will stop playing the game. Irrational stock prices will be that much likelier.

The worry is that the GameStoppers will now target others. Short sellers operate in the open: You can check short-selling volumes for any given stock on Yahoo. By whipping up frenzied buying of a heavily shorted company, speculators can cost the shorts billions and maybe put them out of business. Already, GameStoppers are buying other beaten-down companies, such as cinema giant AMC. A Goldman Sachs index of heavily shorted stocks is up sharply this month because the shorts have been routed.

Hedge funders and short sellers are out to get rich: They are certainly not angels. But there is a difference between trading based on evidence and research and trading based on conspiracy theories and mob tactics. Over the past week, it’s been tempting to celebrate the colorful rebels — they represent the democratization of finance, the revenge against the fat cats. Now it is time to remember that truth matters.

At Its Heart The Gamestop Story IS FICTION - And You Pissants Have Once Again Been Deceived...,

wired |  At its heart, the GameStop story is about small-time traders—many, according to press accounts, young and inexperienced—going up against established players and winning, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars a person (so far, at least). The WallStreetBets subreddit describes itself as “a gathering place of millions of unique individuals who are tired of being run over by the big guys and are each fighting back in their own way.” Its investors, who use the page to discuss strategy and timing, were exploiting the rigidity in “short” positions of hedge funds, who bet that GameStop’s stock would decline in value. Such “short” funds represent a commitment to provide a share of GameStop at a specific time, no matter the price, magnifying the profit potential if the redditors could push the stock in the other direction and send the hedge funds scrambling to meet their obligations.

This week, the GameStop story became a national talking point, particularly on Twitter, where users of all stripes and political persuasions cheered on the financial chaos. The billionaire entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Mark Cuban defended WallStreetBets, as did the left-wing representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, each pleased to see hedge funds undone by their own greedy ways. An arcane finance story became a class-warfare parable for the general public, with regular folks acting just as clinically as the hedge fund executives they were vanquishing—that is, being upfront about treating investments as mere manipulations, as opposed to some complex matter meant to assess the genuine value of a company. As Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter: “Gotta admit it’s really something to see Wall Streeters with a long history of treating our economy as a casino complain about a message board of posters also treating the market as a casino.”

On Thursday, Robinhood blocked the kind of speculative trades of GameStop stock that were used by the redditors to drive up its share price. Though the brokerage reportedly did this to protect its own finances, the move nonetheless seemed destined to backfire in ways similar to Egypt’s drastic internet shutdown, which ultimately helped the protests spread. Suddenly, the GameStop controversy changed from a revenge fantasy against hedge funds to a matter of economic fairness: Are the same tools available to all investors, no matter their wealth? (The comparison is obviously imperfect—unless you really see the Reddit day traders as freedom fighters. More to the point, by blocking speculative trades of GameStop, Robinhood could be seen as protecting new investors who seem destined to lose money when GameStop’s share price comes back to earth.)

Next up in this cycle, one imagines, is the recognition that this revolution, whether tolerated or quashed, won’t change much at all. And like the authoritarians who found their way back to power, the hedge fund managers are likely to rein in the trading apps and their mischievous fans, ensuring their hold on the markets.

That’s the thing about the internet—time and again, it has proven better for the top dogs. At the very least, it certainly won’t threaten them. If we are foolish enough, and heartless enough, to allow a financial system that so thoroughly separates wealth creation from work and genuine improvement to society, well then the internet will make this skewed system even more lucrative for those who play. The richest will reap the wealth and the poorest, least experienced traders will end up holding the bag. An empty bag, at that.

Is Marjorie Taylor Greene A Congressional Craziness Outlier?

caitlinjohnstone |   I really hope Americans get rid of that dangerous right wing lunatic in congress, by which I mean all of the people in congress.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is not more crazy than all the DC politicians who agree the US should maintain planetary hegemony using bombs, regime change ops, starvation sanctions and nuclear threats. She’s just a less popular genre of crazy.

There is an ideological struggle to determine whether the Republican Party will be the kind of bat shit crazy that believes in QAnon and Jewish Space Lasers or just the kind of bat shit crazy that believes in carpet bombing Iran and destroying the ecosystem for money.

Stop normalizing status quo politics.

Stop normalizing ecocide.

Stop normalizing imperialism.

Stop normalizing mass murder.

Stop normalizing nuclear standoffs.

Stop normalizing starvation sanctions.

Stop normalizing exploitation.

Stop normalizing oppression.

Stop normalizing the mainstream so-called “centrists” who promote these extremist evils.

If people could really grasp how horrific our status quo is, wingnut freaks like Marjorie Taylor Greene wouldn’t stand out against the background, because everyone who helps bolster this murderous and depraved status quo is also a wingnut freak. And there would be just as urgent a push to cast out all the other freaks as there is to cast out her.

The ruling class keeps Americans as poor as possible so they can’t use their money to do naughty things like fund leftist political campaigns or sabotage hedge funds.

People are like two clicks away from burning Wall Street to the ground and setting up guillotines and mainstream analysts are still wringing their hands about how gamer trolls might be compromising the integrity of the market somewhat.