Nov 082020
 


David Hockney The Pond in Autumn 1 November 2020

 

Winner of Trump-Biden Race Will Be Determined By Courts (Jenna Ellis)
Nov. 7 – Biden Hasn’t Won Yet; Trump Has A Path(s) (McCann)
Life Under Biden (Jim Rickards)
Another Election Computer Glitch In Michigan Reversed (JTN)
The GOP Did Not Carry 71,000,000+ Votes, President Trump Did (sundance)
The Kafka Election: Finding a Way Out of the Maze (Miele)
Speedy COVID19 Healers Keep Producing Antibodies After Infection (F.)
The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test (Sacré)
The Narrative Problem After Peak Oil (Watkins)

 

 

Since the US had no official institution to call an election soon after the polls have closed, and people want a result fast, it has befallen on the media to make the announcement. And by and large, this hasn’t been that big a deal. But when those same media have for 4 years relentlessly hounded one of the two candidates, it should be obvious that this “system” should not be applied. If only because it has no legal status whatsoever.

However, people both in the US and abroad don’t appear to be aware of this. So when the New York Times et al declare a winner, this is seen as an “official” announcement. It is not. That won’t come until the Electoral College gathers in December (8-14th?!). And at least until then, Trump will have every right to contest the election in court. Still, “world leaders” are congratulating the “next president”. Do they really not know how this works?

The idea behind it all is obvious, of course: to make Trump look like a sore loser, and Biden the president-elect, a title the media claim they can bestow upon him. Do remember that both Biden’s and Kamala’s campaign were considered dead in the water at one point, before they were magically resurrected by the party machine, which ensured that two people very unpopular in their own party now lead the ticket. Be careful what you wish for.

In that light. I found this intriguing. Twitter adds a warning to this Trump tweet: “Official sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted”. I haven’t seen one instance where they attached the same warning to tweets about Biden winning and being President Elect. But wouldn’t that be the same thing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

From one of Trump‘s lawyers.

Winner of Trump-Biden Race Will Be Determined By Courts (Jenna Ellis)

Despite projections by many news organizations Saturday that former Vice President Joe Biden has won the presidential election and defeated President Trump, the media don’t have the power to decide the outcome of American elections. Legal challenges by the Trump reelection campaign, where I serve as a legal adviser, are still before the courts and we await judicial rulings on our challenges. In other words, as the late baseball great Yogi Berra said in 1973, referring to the National League pennant race: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” We all want to know who will be president for the next four years. But all Americans should want accurate results above all, no matter who they supported in the race.

So it’s important for everyone to realize that Trump campaign legal challenges must be resolved in the courts before we have an official and legally binding decision on who won the 2020 presidential election. President Trump will continue fighting to ensure a fair and accurate election result. He is right to do this, because it’s vital that we keep our elections free and fair. As Americans, we should all be able to recognize that our rule of law governs and our election process works accurately. For President Trump, the Trump 2020 campaign and the Republican National Committee, the rule of law, fundamental fairness and accuracy in election results are the goals. None of the legal fights we are waging are novel arguments or anything more than an effort to ensure a fair and accurate election outcome.


Our nation went through a legal challenge to the results in Florida during the 2000 presidential election between then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore, for example. Twenty years ago, some news organizations prematurely said Gore won that very close election and would become the next president of the United States. Those news organizations later pulled back their projections. Legal challenges by the Bush campaign went all the way to the Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court determined that George W. Bush won the election. Imagine how different history would have turned out if Bush has simply thrown in the towel as soon as he heard someone on TV say Gore won the race.

Bill Binney

Read more …

Molly McCann is on Sidney Powell’s team.

Nov. 7 – Biden Hasn’t Won Yet; Trump Has A Path(s) (McCann)

The media called the election today, as many predicted would happen. As noted yesterday, the media and the Democrats were desperate to call it. They want to shift momentum to Biden and frame Trump as a sore loser, and worse, a despot attempting a coup. This election is still in play. Arizona is not fully in yet, and Trump continues to close his margin there. The latest results were still breaking for Trump with the margins he needs to close the gap and take the state. We’ll see. Georgia is going to go to a recount no matter what. Pennsylvania is a disaster zone…for the Democrats. I’m not sure if the 100,000 provisional ballots have been counted yet, but they hadn’t been counted when they called the election for Biden. Those could swing Trump back into the lead in PA. There is still so much at play. Are we looking at razor-thin margins? Yes. Has Biden won yet? No. If we could hold Georgia and Arizona outright, I think we could knock out Pennsylvania at SCOTUS. This is the actual electoral map right now:

So, does Trump have a path forward? Yes. First of all, Trump could still win in a relatively traditional manner. Because remember, even though the media is demanding Trump concede, recounts in elections happen with relative regularity. People contest results and we go through processes to make sure everything is above board. 2020 is election insanity on an unprecedented scale (I think), but procedurally, this is not some crazy aberration in politics or elections. So, Trump might still be able to win traditionally, and I pray he does. But it might take more than that.


If we lose Arizona and Georgia and Pennsylvania, then Trump will have to kick it up a notch. He’ll need to block certification and pursue more aggressive measures to win. It should go without saying that I am advocating legal aggressive measures, but given the present circumstances, perhaps best to clarify. I hope he pursues some of those options sooner rather than later.

Read more …

“Biden is running for president in name only. He has never been that bright. He has accomplished little in his almost fifty years in public service. He is physically frail and clearly suffering acute cognitive decline.”

Life Under Biden (Jim Rickards)

This was a historic, turning-point election. Turning-point elections are the most historic because they put the country on a different path: Party Politics in 1800, Populism in 1828, Civil War in 1860, Liberalism in 1932, and Conservatism in 1980. Every 100 years, America gets a president who shakes the establishment and cleans out the Washington sewers. In the 1800s it was Andrew Jackson. In the 1900s it was Teddy Roosevelt. In the 2000s, it’s Donald Trump. There is no doubt that Trump and Biden would lead America in almost opposite directions with profound consequences for the future of the country and for future elections. If Trump had won, we would have gotten more of the same, which is saying a lot.

Trump would offer more tax cuts (or at least preserve the tax cuts we’ve received). He’d offer less regulation, a major accomplishment of his first term. Trump would continue the trade war with China and expand it in ways that would move jobs back to the United States (or at least get them out of China into friendlier countries such as Vietnam and India). He would also curtail Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property and cut off Chinese tech investment in the United States. Trump has also stopped foreign installation of sensitive 5G telecommunications systems from Huawei and ZTE, which are hidden arms of the Chinese military. Trump built alliances to constrain Chinese expansion efforts. His main breakthrough was the Quad Alliance of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India that effectively surrounds and can interdict China’s sea lanes to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Trump also made great strides toward Middle East peace with the first two Israeli-Arab peace treaties in twenty-five years – one with the UAE and one with Bahrain. Other peace treaties with Israel may have followed. Finally, Trump was imposing crippling sanctions on Iran that would have forced it to negotiate in good faith on its nuclear program or crush its economy in ways that would also impede its efforts at terrorism and nuclear weapons. With Trump, what you see is what you get: Lower taxes, less regulation, more jobs, no new wars, peace in the Middle East, and peace through strength in confronting Iran and China. With four more years, Trump could have accomplished his goals and perhaps be ranked among the ten most significant presidents of all time.

Biden is another matter entirely. First of all, Biden is running for president in name only. He has never been that bright. He has accomplished little in his almost fifty years in public service. He is physically frail and clearly suffering acute cognitive decline. If Joe Biden does win, he’ll be 78 years old when sworn in and 82 years old at the end of his first term. Both marks are the oldest in U.S. history for a president. Some individuals are still sharp in their late 70s. Biden is not one of them. The result is that Biden will never be president de facto. With Trump out of the picture, Democrats wouldn’t need him anymore. Steps would be taken at some point to remove him from office on the grounds of mental incapacity under the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Nancy Pelosi recently proposed legislation to set up a commission to do just that as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution.

But while he remains in office, who will be the real president in a Biden administration? There are three camps contending for power: The first camp is the Biden family led by Joe Biden’s wife Dr. Jill Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden’s brothers Jim Biden and Frank Biden. These are the individuals who have been enriched through association with Joe Biden by using or selling access to Biden’s power to win lucrative investment management roles, consulting engagements, construction contracts and other remunerative pursuits. The Biden family will want to keep Joe in power (with Jill Biden pulling the strings) in order to keep their shakedown operation intact and avoid scrutiny.

The second camp is led by Kamala Harris and those who control her, including the Obama crew and the Resistance. If Biden is removed under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, Harris becomes Acting President. If Biden resigns under threat of removal, Harris becomes the president. She would be a front for the Obamas and Valerie Jarrett who would operate through a cabinet consisting of Obama family retainers including Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Sally Yates and Eric Holder.

The third camp is led by the extreme left wing of the party including Bernie Sanders, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (and The Squad), Elizabeth Warren and radical organizations such as BLM. This group is already embedded in the Biden campaign as part of a deal whereby Bernie Sanders agreed to end his primary campaign and endorse Joe Biden in exchange for Biden adopting most of the Sanders platform. The most likely outcome is that the Obama crew and the Bernie Bros will join forces and run the Biden family off the road. The Bidens will be allowed to keep their Chinese and Russian money and will not face any scrutiny or prosecution in exchange for going away quietly.

Healing- “burn down the Republican Party” – Jennifer Rubin

Read more …

“County Worker Reportedly Submitted Two Sets Of Absentee Ballots Twice”

Another Election Computer Glitch In Michigan Reversed (JTN)

A Michigan Republican received a welcome shock when his apparent loss at the polls was reversed due to the county’s fix of a “technical glitch” that originally had him losing the election. Adam Kochenderfer was originally declared the loser in his race against Democrat Melanie Hartman for a position on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. The narrow race appeared to end with Hartman the winner by just 104 votes. Yet the county clerk soon discovered that a set of absentee ballots had actually been reported in the voter totals twice. Once the duplicate set was removed, Kochenderfer came out ahead by 1,127 votes.


“This is proof that our process of checks and balances works,” County Clerk Lisa Brown said after the discovery. “A methodical canvass is an essential tool to ensure an accurate count and precise results.” Kochenderfer’s was the second race in Michigan so far in which a glitch was revealed to have displayed the incorrect outcome of a race. An alleged software glitch in Antrim County, Michigan earlier this week incorrectly awarded thousands of winning votes to Joe Biden; a recount of ballots subsequently revealed Trump was the county winner.

Soros voting machines

Read more …

Can Trump set up that long-awaited third party?

The GOP Did Not Carry 71,000,000+ Votes, President Trump Did (sundance)

As the republican establishment contemplates positioning themselves amid President Trump’s resolute intent to highlight a 2020 election filled with with demonstrable fraud, they would be prudent to check their political ego. President Trump has created a movement and collected the largest factual constituency of voters in the nation. This is the hill we stand upon, there is no other fallback position. As of this writing the indefatigable leader of the MAGA movement gathered 71 million votes for his re-election, and still climbing. Subtract the fraudulent and manipulated ‘mail-in’ ballots from the Biden operation and you have a reality of 71 million MAGA army members staring toward an opposition front containing battalions of cardboard cutouts.

No amount of media spin is going to change the reality of that political landscape. Regardless of whether Donald Trump’s legal arsenal is able to overcome the entrenched media operations drum-beating a deafening noise to distract from the 2020 fraud, that MAGA army is solidly behind our leader…. so consider this: If President Trump takes that army into a new political party of his choosing, that new party is structurally set to lay waste to any candidate within both wings of the Democrat and Republican assembly. A Trump inspired new political party can wipe out the illusion of the Democrat/Republican two-party system; specifically because much of the Trump movement consists of former democrats and brand new voters.


The MAGA coalition is the most diverse, widest and deepest part of the entire American electorate. President Trump’s army consists of every creed, color, race, gender, ethnicity and orientation. It is a truly color-blind coalition of middle America patriots and middle-class voters that cuts through the political special interest groups. Quite simply Trump’s MAGA army is the ultimate political splitter party. No Republican will ever hold office in the next decade without the blessing of President Trump; and there is absolutely no current confidence that President Trump will not lay waste to the system if the GOP acquiesces to the transparent fraud that exists behind the Biden-Harris sham.

Read more …

“News channels don’t count a damn thing. They just report numbers shipped out by election offices in various counties across the country, and if CNN or any other news outfit were actually doing their jobs, they would be alert for patterns suggesting fraud in the numbers..”

The Kafka Election: Finding a Way Out of the Maze (Miele)

The 2020 election is a nightmare from which I — along with millions of others — am trying to awake. Like many dark dreams, it is uncertain exactly what is happening. Phantasmic ballots come and go. Seemingly insurmountable Republican victories disappear into the mouth of a vote-munching machine and come out the other side as excremental — oops, I mean incremental — Democratic leads just beyond the reach of a recount. And as in any nightmare worth its salt, just when you think it’s about to end, a new trap door opens and you fall into yet one more level of confusion and chaos in a maze with no exit in sight. But this is America. It’s not supposed to be a Kafka novel.

So how did we get to a place where, days after the election was held, despite many proclamations by news organizations to the contrary, we still don’t know who won, we don’t know who voted, and we don’t know for sure whether the rules were followed in either voting or counting? Various irregularities have been reported in five big cities, all in strategic states, and particularly in Detroit, Mich.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Atlanta, Ga.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Las Vegas, Nev. The allegations range from mysterious ballot drops that seem to show tens of thousands of votes for Joe Biden and zero votes for President Trump, inexplicable record turnouts in late-counting counties (all Democrat-dominated) that far surpass turnouts in counties in other states where the votes were counted on a timely basis; and of course the illegal banning of election observers in those very counties where the most outrageous anomalies are reported.

Democrats tell us that there is nothing to see here, and the compliant media dutifully moves along, unwilling to investigate on its own or even express any concern about potential wrongdoing. Even Fox News has turned into a lapdog for the Democrat Party, calling Arizona for Joe Biden long before anyone could know for sure which way the state would turn. On Thursday night, as Fulton County was just about to swing Georgia into the Biden column, CNN’s John King arrogantly lectured Donald Trump: “Guess what, Mr. President? We’re gonna count the votes, and if they favor you, we’re gonna show that. And if they don’t, we’re gonna show that. That’s how democracy works. We’re just counting the votes.”


Um, no, that’s not the way it works. News channels don’t count a damn thing. They just report numbers shipped out by election offices in various counties across the country, and if CNN or any other news outfit were actually doing their jobs, they would be alert for patterns suggesting fraud in the numbers they report. If “just counting the votes” were all that it took to have a democracy, then Vladimir Putin’s Russia would be a glorious example of democracy, as would the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Read more …

We’re 11 months into a pandemic. And still we know so little.

Speedy COVID19 Healers Keep Producing Antibodies After Infection (F.)

New research has identified a group of Covid-19 patients who are capable of speedy recoveries and can produce protective antibodies for months after their initial infection, a finding that runs counter to a lot of recent research showing that antibody levels — and, potentially, immunity — rapidly decline following infection and points to the possibility that some people have immune systems that are better able to fight the virus. Researchers, led by a team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that almost one in five coronavirus patients sustained antibody production for several months after infection, in contrast with other patients who experienced a rapid decline in antibody levels.

These patients also tended to recover faster than other Covid-19 patients, cutting their recovery time by about a third, as well as showing differences in two types of immune cell that play key roles in the immune system, the researchers wrote in Cell, a top scientific journal. It is unclear whether the findings are representative of the population as a whole, and the researchers themselves stressed that future investigations must look beyond the limited demographic they studied, with most volunteers being adult white women with mild Covid-19. Dr. Duane Wesemann, one of the researchers and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said the immune response of these quick healers was like an insurance policy — “it’s the immune system’s way of adding a potential layer of protection against future encounters with the virus,” he said.

Wesemann added that it was possible the findings “point to a type of immune response” that is better at dealing with Covid-19, which could be important in the fight to control the virus. Understanding how the immune system responds to Covid-19 over time is a vital component in controlling the pandemic, underpinning public health measures, treatments, and how vaccines are developed and administered. A lot of early attention has focused on antibodies, proteins produced by the immune system that can lock onto the virus, with research generally showing sharp declines following infection. These are relatively easy to study, but do not give a complete picture of the body’s immune system.


There is a lot that remains unknown about how immunity to Covid-19 works and how that changes over time. To date, many studies show sharp declines in antibody levels in the months following infection, though antibodies, or the lack thereof, do not necessarily indicate immunity to infection. Reinfections, though rare, have been reported, with some reports suggesting that the second infection is worse than the first.

Read more …

This is good. A bit long and opinionated and all over the place, but a lot of useful information.

The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test (Sacré)

All current propaganda on the COVID-19 pandemic is based on an assumption that is considered obvious, true and no longer questioned: Positive RT-PCR test means being sick with COVID. This assumption is misleading. Very few people, including doctors, understand how a PCR test works. RT-PCR means Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction. In French, it means: Réaction de Polymérisation en Chaîne en Temps Réel. In medicine, we use this tool mainly to diagnose a viral infection. Starting from a clinical situation with the presence or absence of particular symptoms in a patient, we consider different diagnoses based on tests.

In the case of certain infections, particularly viral infections, we use the RT-PCR technique to confirm a diagnostic hypothesis suggested by a clinical picture. We do not routinely perform RT-PCR on any patient who is overheated, coughing or has an inflammatory syndrome! It is a laboratory, molecular biology technique of gene amplification because it looks for gene traces (DNA or RNA) by amplifying them. In addition to medicine, other fields of application are genetics, research, industry and forensics. The technique is carried out in a specialized laboratory, it cannot be done in any laboratory, even a hospital. This entails a certain cost, and a delay sometimes of several days between the sample and the result.

Today, since the emergence of the new disease called COVID-19 (COrona VIrus Disease-2019), the RT-PCR diagnostic technique is used to define positive cases, confirmed as SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus responsible for the new acute respiratory distress syndrome called COVID-19). These positive cases are assimilated to COVID-19 cases, some of whom are hospitalized or even admitted to intensive care units. Official postulate of our managers: positive RT-PCR cases = COVID-19 patients. This is the starting postulate, the premise of all official propaganda, which justifies all restrictive government measures: isolation, confinement, quarantine, mandatory masks, color codes by country and travel bans, tracking, social distances in companies, stores and even, even more importantly, in schools.


This misuse of RT-PCR technique is used as a relentless and intentional strategy by some governments, supported by scientific safety councils and by the dominant media, to justify excessive measures such as the violation of a large number of constitutional rights, the destruction of the economy with the bankruptcy of entire active sectors of society, the degradation of living conditions for a large number of ordinary citizens, under the pretext of a pandemic based on a number of positive RT-PCR tests, and not on a real number of patients.

Read more …

A long review of an old topic.

The Narrative Problem After Peak Oil (Watkins)

For most of the last decade, we have been sold a techno-utopian fairy tale about “peak oil demand.” Instead of “running out” of oil, the problem for the oil industry, we were told, was that the switch to “clean energy” and to technologies like electric cars and hydrogen-powered buses meant that demand for oil was declining. Within a decade or so, they claimed, our need for oil would disappear entirely as we ushered in a “fourth industrial revolution” based around digital products and services powered by renewable energy.


As with all narratives, there is just enough truth in this story to give it a veneer of credibility. Per capita demand for oil – and, indeed, for fossil fuels generally – has been declining. So that is you are a middle class metropolitan liberal – the kind of people who edit and write for the establishment media – you look around and notice your friends driving electric cars; you uncritically swallow the press statements of the windfarm owners; and you observe the declining per capita consumption of oil; and you tell yourself that this is peak oil demand in action. The data says something very different:

Despite a Herculean effort to bring non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies online, they still account for less than five percent of global primary energy consumption. Worse still, they have not replaced fossil fuels; they have just been added to the global mix. And while developed states like Germany and the UK have gone a long way toward decarbonising their domestic electricity generation, a large part of their true pollution has been offshored to Asia. Only if they are prepared to forego all of the fossil-fuel powered goods they import can they truly claim to be embarking upon a new industrial revolution. Until then, the “green new deal” is just another name for the same old imperialism that they have always practiced.

Peak oil – including from fracking and tar sands – finally occurred in 2018. Hardly anyone noticed because – as happened in the USA in 1970 – everyone assumed that it would be a temporary blip. Oil extraction in 2019 was not substantially lower than 2018; but there was no month in 2019 when extraction was higher than it had been in November 2018. And, of course, in 2020 the world discovered more urgent issues to worry about. Nevertheless, oil extraction – and oil demand – plummeted as a result of the various state responses to the pandemic. Some wells will be shut permanently as the cost of reopening them is too high. Others will reopen, but only if the price of oil rises considerably. Pipelines and refineries will also have to be repaired. On the demand side, even the most optimistic economists and politicians have ceased talking about “V-shaped recoveries.” With Europe and parts of the USA embarking on pre-Christmas lockdowns, demand across the global economy is expected to be crushed. This spells lower rather than higher oil prices in the next couple of years.


It is in this that we glimpse the part of the peak oil story that was often overlooked by the first peak oilers. The simple assumption that falling oil production would lead to higher oil prices failed to examine the impact of oil prices on the wider economy. Nevertheless, the economy is primarily an energy system upon which the secondary financial economy is merely a claim. Rather than examining the price of oil, we have to understand its energy cost. If we begin with a certain amount of energy, then a fraction must be devoted to securing future energy. Another fraction must be set aside for maintaining the infrastructure required to keep the system running. A third fraction must be set aside to invest in the future energy supply. These, though, will only account for a small part of the energy available to us. The remainder will power the much larger, non-energy economy

Read more …

 

 

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Michelle Malkin

 

 

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Nov 052020
 


Pablo Picasso Bull plates I-XI 1945

 

Trump Goes To Supreme Court, Files Lawsuits To Stop Vote Counting In PA (F.)
Trump Assembling All-star Legal Team To Mount Election Challenges (JTN)
US Inability To Count Votes is a National Disgrace. And Dangerous (Greenwald)
How The GOP Retook House Seats From Democrats (F.)
House Democrats Fall Way Short In Disappointing Night (Hill)
Statehouse Wins Position GOP To Dominate Redistricting (Pol.)
Election Update, 9:50 am Weds Nov 4 (Jim Kunstler)
Michigan Finds 138,339 Ballots, Every Single One Has Biden’s Name on It (RS)
For Stocks, Any Election Outcome is Now the Best Outcome (WS)
ECB May Cut Support For Indebted Countries In Nudge Towards EU Loans (R.)
COVID Testing: We’ve Been Duped (AT)
England Underestimates The Costs Of Lockdown At Its Peril (Jonathan Sumption)
Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited To US But Can Also Appeal (BBC)
Bayer Takes Over $10 Billion Write-Down Over Monsanto Roundup Weed Killer (RT)

 

 

There is this odd divide between the presidential vote, which Biden may win, and all the other votes, where the GOP candidates are doing much better than expected, and taking back House seats. How is that possible?

 

 

 

 

Happy lawyers.

Trump Goes To Supreme Court, Files Lawsuits To Stop Vote Counting In PA (F.)

The Trump campaign is filing multiple lawsuits in Pennsylvania targeting the state’s rules for election observers and mail-in ballots, as well as intervening in an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the state’s mail-in ballot deadline, the campaign said Wednesday, ramping up the GOP’s legal efforts in the battleground state as the race between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden narrows. The Trump campaign said in a statement Wednesday that it is suing Pennsylvania to stop the state from “hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers,” specifically mentioning a policy that requires poll watchers to stand 25 feet from where the counting process is taking place.

The campaign is appealing a case that previously failed in a lower court in Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which alleged an election observer could not “observe the writing on the outside of the ballots.” The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee sued state and local officials over a practice in which mail-in voters are allowed to provide proof of identification after the ballot deadline if it was initially missing, which Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar recently extended by an additional three days to November 12. Republicans claim allowing voters to provide identification through that date will “create a high risk of jeopardizing the integrity” of the election by delaying election results, and are calling for the court to throw out any ballots where the voter’s identification isn’t received by the original deadline of Nov. 9.

The Trump campaign also filed a motion to intervene in an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the state’s mail-in ballot deadline, which allows mail-in ballots to be counted if they’re delivered up to three days after Election Day.The Supreme Court previously declined to overturn the extended deadline before Election Day—in a 4-4 ruling before Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court—but several conservative justices said the court could still revisit the ruling and invalidate the deadline, which would result in any late-arriving ballots being rejected.

Trump to win Arizona

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“President Trump’s campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process.”

“President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.”

Trump Assembling All-star Legal Team To Mount Election Challenges (JTN)

President Trump’s campaign on Wednesday began assembling an all-star legal team to file challenges to election regularities in several battleground states, starting with a Court of Claims lawsuit in Michigan. Among the lawyers the president is activating include his private attorney Jay Sekulow, who will help campaign lawyers with matters before the Supreme Court as well as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, officials said. Sidney Powell, the lawyer for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, may also be called upon, officials said. The legal team’s first stop was Michigan, where the campaign filed an action in the Court of Claims seeking to halt vote counting until irregularities are addressed, campaign manager Bill Stepien announced.


“As votes in Michigan continue to be counted, the presidential race in the state remains extremely tight as we always knew it would be. President Trump’s campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law,” Stepien said. “We have filed suit today in the Michigan Court of Claims to halt counting until meaningful access has been granted. We also demand to review those ballots which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access. President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.”

Read more …

“..the monumental failures of the polling industry and the data nerds who leech off it, for the second consecutive national election, only serve to sow even further doubt and confusion..”

US Inability To Count Votes is a National Disgrace. And Dangerous (Greenwald)

Nations far poorer and less technologically advanced have no problem holding quick, efficient elections. Distrust in U.S. outcomes is dangerous but rational. The richest and most powerful country on earth — whether due to ineptitude, choice or some combination of both — has no ability to perform the simple task of counting votes in a minimally efficient or confidence-inspiring manner. As a result, the credibility of the voting process is severely impaired, and any residual authority the U.S. claims to “spread” democracy to lucky recipients of its benevolence around the world is close to obliterated. At 7:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the day after the 2020 presidential elections, the results of the presidential race, as well as control of the Senate, are very much in doubt and in chaos.

Watched by rest of the world — deeply affected by who rules the still-imperialist superpower — the U.S. struggles and stumbles and staggers to engage in a simple task mastered by countless other less powerful and poorer countries: counting votes. Some states are not expected to finished their vote-counting until the end of this week or beyond. The same data and polling geniuses who pronounced that Hillary Clinton had a 90% probability or more of winning the 2016 election, and who spent the last three months proclaiming the 2020 election even more of a sure thing for the Democratic presidential candidate, are currently insisting that Biden, despite being behind in numerous key states, is still the favorite by virtue of uncounted ballots in Democrat-heavy counties in the outcome-determinative states.

[One went to sleep last night with the now-notorious New York Times needle of data guru Nate Cohn assuring the country that, with more than 80% of the vote counted in Georgia, Trump had more than an 80% chance to win that state, only to wake up a few hours later with the needle now predicting the opposite outcome; that all happened just a few hours after Cohn assured everyone how much “smarter” his little needle was this time around].

NYT’s predictive needle for Georgia at 8:40 pm ET, Tuesday night.

https://twitter.com/TravisAllen02/status/1323855693359861762

NYT’s predictive needle for Georgia less than four hours later, at 12:12 a.m., early Wednesday morning.


Given the record of failures and humiliations they have quickly compiled, what rational person would trust anything they say at this point? A citizen randomly chosen from the telephone book would be as reliable if not more so for sharing predictions. And the monumental failures of the polling industry and the data nerds who leech off it, for the second consecutive national election, only serve to sow even further doubt and confusion around the electoral process. A completely untrustworthy voting count is now the norm. Two months after the New York state primary in late June, two Congressional races were in doubt by what The New York Times called “major delays in counting a deluge of 400,000 mail-in ballots and other problems.” In particular: Thousands more ballots in the city were discarded by election officials for minor errors, or not even sent to voters until the day before the primary, making it all but impossible for the ballots to be returned in time.

Read more …

“..a 2020 election night awash with Democratic disappointment..”

How The GOP Retook House Seats From Democrats (F.)

Republicans wrested at least seven U.S. House seats from Democrats this year, retaking districts the party lost in 2018 and expanding slightly into blue territory, a surprising set of victories that could narrow the House’s thin 14-vote Democratic majority. Republicans have won back six moderate rural and suburban districts that Democrats took from the GOP in 2018 — in New Mexico, South Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Iowa — reversing some of the Democrats’ gains from two years ago.In two of those districts, this year’s races were rematches of 2018, featuring the same candidates but different outcomes: Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) defeated Republican Maria Elvira Salazar in 2018 but lost to her in 2020, and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) lost to Republican Yvette Herrell despite winning against her two years ago.

Republicans also took Minnesota’s rural, conservative-leaning seventh district, ousting moderate 30-year incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson (D) after a tough re-election battle. Meanwhile, Democrats picked up just two seats in North Carolina, defeating Republican nominees in a pair of new urban and suburban districts created after a court-ordered redistricting effort last year. Dozens of House districts remained too close to call Wednesday morning, as officials rush to count mail-in ballots. In particular, Republicans are vying to win back former Republican strongholds like Orange County, Calif. and Staten Island, N.Y.

Democrats flipped dozens of congressional districts from red to blue in 2018, part of a wave election that propelled the party to a House majority. Many of those suburban and rural districts were traditionally conservative but changed hands amid nationwide leftward momentum, making their status as Democratic seats tenuous at best. Still, Democrats hoped to extend those gains in 2020 by flipping several moderate seats, and pre-election polls indicated most voters favored Democrats over Republicans in local House races. But on a 2020 election night awash with Democratic disappointment, the party’s hopes of another Democratic wave in the House quickly faded, and Republicans ended up regaining some ground.

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“The spate of Democratic losses were not limited to any one geographic region.”

House Democrats Fall Way Short In Disappointing Night (Hill)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her invigorated caucus charged into Tuesday with an energized base, a sharp fundraising advantage and hopes to flip anywhere from five to 15 Republican seats on election night. Instead, it was the Republicans who scored big — at least in the early counting — knocking out at least a half dozen vulnerable Democrats with several more clinging to the ropes. It was a reversal of fortunes for the Democrats, who had led big in the polls and the money race and were betting that President Trump at the top of the ticket would be a drag on GOP lawmakers all the way down the ballot. With gushing optimism, Democrats were expecting Tuesday night would give them a chance to pad their 232-197 majority next year.

“We’re well-positioned to have a good night,” Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), head of the Democrats’ campaign arm, told reporters hours before polls closed Tuesday. As the sun came up Wednesday morning, however, there appeared few bright spots for Bustos’s party. While Democrats will retain their majority, a handful of their front-line members — incumbents facing the toughest races — had been defeated. And after boasting about how they’d expanded the map and were playing “deep into Trump country,” they’d failed to pick off even a single House Republican running for reelection. Democrats did manage to pick up a pair of GOP-held open seats in North Carolina, where redistricting had made the districts much bluer, and a third in Georgia after the retirement of vulnerable GOP Rep. Rob Woodall.

The spate of Democratic losses were not limited to any one geographic region. In rural Minnesota, Rep. Collin Peterson (D), a 15-term veteran and chairman of the Agriculture Committee, was clobbered by the state’s former lieutenant governor, who’d linked Peterson to the liberal Pelosi. In the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Rep. Kendra Horn (D), a first-term moderate, was defeated by Republican Stephanie Bice, a state senator, in one of the country’s most contested races. On New Mexico’s southern border, Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D), a 36-year-old centrist also in her first term, fell to Yvette Herrell, a former state legislator, in a rematch of 2018. And in South Carolina, first-term Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) was ousted by state Rep. Nancy Mace (R).

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And this is what comes next.

Statehouse Wins Position GOP To Dominate Redistricting (Pol.)

Here’s something else Republicans can be happy about after Tuesday. An abysmal showing by Democrats in state legislative races on Tuesday not only denied them victories in Sun Belt and Rust Belt states that would have positioned them to advance their policy agenda — it also put the party at a disadvantage ahead of the redistricting that will determine the balance of power for the next decade. The results could domino through politics in America, helping the GOP draw favorable congressional and state legislative maps by ensuring Democrats remain the minority party in key state legislatures. Ultimately, it could mean more Republicans in Washington — and in state capitals.

By Wednesday night, Democrats had not flipped a single statehouse chamber in its favor. And it remained completely blocked from the map-making process in several key states — including Texas, North Carolina and Florida, which could have a combined 82 congressional seats by 2022 — where the GOP retained control of the state legislatures. After months of record-breaking fundraising by their candidates and a constellation of outside groups, Democrats fell far short of their goals and failed to build upon their 2018 successes to capture state chambers they had been targeting for years. And they may have President Donald Trump to blame. “It’s clear that Trump isn’t an anchor for the Republican legislative candidates. He’s a buoy,” Christina Polizzi, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said Wednesday.

“He overperformed media expectations, Democratic and Republican expectations, and lifted legislative candidates with him.” Democrats had a disappointing night in congressional and state legislative races across the country, as they realized the suburban revolt against Trump did not extend in 2020. Republicans appear poised to hold on to the Senate, gain seats in the House and pick up a governorship in Montana, defying expectations. But it is the victories they won in state legislatures could be the most consequential of all, giving the GOP outsize influence over the congressional and legislative redistricting process that begins early next year.

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“Let’s not forget the rather reckless remark made by PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Halloween night that “if all the votes are added up, Mr. Trump is going to lose.“

Election Update, 9:50 am Weds Nov 4 (Jim Kunstler)

The election has rolled out as expected here – that is, not resolved the morning after, with Antifa and BLM rioters already moiling in the streets of Washington D.C.Portland, Oregon, remains in continual uproar after four months of violence and destruction, and Mayor Ted Wheeler won reelection against “Antifa candidate” Sarah Iannarone. Lucky Portland. Outside the swing states still in play, the margins were strikingly lopsided. Joe Biden’s radiant charisma worked in the usual blue coastal states — Cal 65% to 33%, NY 55% to 33% — but Mr. Trump’s margins were equally lopsided in the flyover red states — OK 65% to 32%, TN 60% to 37%, MO 56% to 41%. Mr. Biden won thumpingly in VA once the Deep State bedroom counties next to DC came in late at night. But the president won convincingly in FLA, OH, and TX.

For now, at 9 a.m. Weds, the race hinges on the usual suspects. Mr. Trump is up a half a percent in Michigan with 91% of votes counted; Mr. Biden is seven-tenths up in Wisconsin, with 95% in… awaiting Green Bay results (delayed, apparently, because a vote-processing machine ran out of ink (!). Similar close margins in NC… not so close in GA, with the president ahead a healthy 2 percent, and finally the dark maw of mischief, PA, where Mr. Trump was up by more than ten full percentage points (@700,000 votes) this morning, but awaiting more than a million mail-in ballots. Let’s not forget the rather reckless remark made by PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Halloween night that “if all the votes are added up, Mr. Trump is going to lose.” Sounded pretty sure of himself.

Now, as I understand it, the PA state supreme court ruled recently that counties could continue to process mail-in votes until Friday, and, more importantly, that they did not require postmarks or signature authentication — which would appear an easy invitation to simple ballot fraud. The president vowed late Tuesday night to take a case to the US supreme court where, I expect, that PA ruling will be tossed out as self-evidently unsound. Can the forces of Dem Lawfare work around that? I don’t see how, but I’m not a constitutional lawyer. The Dems have worked hard in recent years to manufacture the inane and false narrative that any kind of voter-ID procedure amounts to “suppression.” America needs to get its mind right about that. Does Lawfare have other tricks up its sleeve? I rather expect so, but the president has had months to plan his own defense against the threat of a Lawfare coup, so now we will see the game play out. Meanwhile, we await mayhem in the streets, condoned and encouraged by Joe Biden’s party, as though that will endear him to nation.

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Standing next to 17,000 simulated ballots

Michigan Finds 138,339 Ballots, Every Single One Has Biden’s Name on It (RS)

Saying that this is an impossible thing wouldn’t be right as statistically, the early vote combined with mail-in voting was always heavily Democrat-leaning. The catch here is that it’s definitely not probable. The idea that not one of them is a Trump vote seems a little off. However, what should really make people suspicious is the fact that not one of these votes leans toward a third-party vote. While people voting for Trump definitely wanted their votes counted by showing up in person, third-party voters didn’t particularly follow the same idea as some of these were leftists as well. Not one vote for the Green Party candidate? Not one for Jo Jorgenson of the Libertarian Party?

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Second hand car salesmen.

For Stocks, Any Election Outcome is Now the Best Outcome (WS)

At first, long ago, the narrative was that a Trump victory would boost stocks. And then when this became more uncertain, the narrative was that a Biden victory would also boost stocks, and that a “Blue Wave” would boost stocks hugely because it would trigger the mother of all stimulus packages, which would spread trillions of dollars directly and indirectly to these companies, which would be good for stocks. And so it was that a victory by either presidential candidate would boost stocks, and that only a disputed election outcome with a long drawn-out legal battle or a split government would derail stocks.

And now, that Trump is already disputing the still unknown election outcome and is threatening a long-drawn-out legal battle if he loses – with Biden leading in electoral votes but millions of mail-in ballots left to be counted – even the threat of a disputed election and a long-drawn-out mess is now boosting stocks. And even funnier: The only remaining outcome that would not boost stocks, and by some measures would be the worst possible outcome during these times – namely a split government, with the Senate remaining under Republican control and Biden in the White House, and therefore no stimulus package – is suddenly a distinct possibility.

But it now too is seen as boosting stocks because it would mean, according to the newly fashioned narrative, that the absence of a Blue Wave would be good for Big Tech because it would be less threatened by antitrust pressures. These narratives are funny. They change and adapt constantly, like a weather vane. Major investment banks come out with reports to create and support these narratives, and adjust them as probabilities of outcomes change, with the purpose being that whatever happens, and no matter how it happens, and regardless of why or when it happens, it has to boost stocks, according to the narratives.

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Nice little country you have there…

ECB May Cut Support For Indebted Countries In Nudge Towards EU Loans (R.)

The European Central Bank could offer less generous support for indebted governments when it puts together a further stimulus package next month, to push them to apply for European Union loans tied to productive investments, sources told Reuters. The ECB promised last week to introduce more measures in December to help euro zone countries cope with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, including new lockdowns that will curtail economic activity. The four sources who spoke to Reuters said policymakers were debating whether the ECB should extend its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), which gives it unprecedented flexibility in buying bonds from any country in distress, or its regular Asset Purchase Programme (APP), under which purchases should mirror the relative size of each country.


This is because PEPP has driven down borrowing costs for indebted governments such as Spain and Portugal so much that they are shunning EU loans tied to digital and green investments in favour of raising no-strings cash on the bond market. The composition of the package should be decided at the ECB’s Dec. 10 policy meeting and the sources said a compromise could be on the cards, with both PEPP and APP being expanded but the former remaining the main instrument. The difference between the two programmes is material and the decision will have implications for how much help the ECB might give to the bloc’s most indebted countries. The ECB has significantly overbought Italian and Spanish bonds under PEPP since the first wave of the pandemic in the spring, helping lower their bond yields to pre-pandemic levels — a welcome relief for their governments at a time of stress. But in doing so, it has made borrowing from the EU’s Next Generation fund less attractive.

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Most stunning is there has been hardly any movement in the whole thing. Where are the better and faster tests?

COVID Testing: We’ve Been Duped (AT)

During a considerably quieter time, back in 2007, the New York Times featured a very interesting exposé on molecular diagnostic testing — specifically, the inadequacy of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in achieving reliable results. The most significant concern highlighted in the Times report is how molecular tests, most notably the PCR, are highly sensitive and prone to false positives. At the center of the controversy was a potential outbreak in a hospital in New Hampshire that proved to be nothing more than “ordinary respiratory diseases like the common cold.” Unfortunately, the results wrought by the PCR told a different story.

Thankfully, a faux epidemic was avoided but not before thousands of workers were furloughed and given antibiotics and ultimately a vaccine, and hospital beds (including some in intensive care) were taken out of commission. Eight months later, what was thought to be an epidemic was deemed a non-malicious hoax. The culprit? According to “epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists … too much faith in a quick and highly sensitive molecular test .. led them astray.” At the time, such tests were “coming into increasing use” as maybe “the only way to get a quick answer in diagnosing diseases like … SARS, and deciding whether an epidemic is under way. Nevertheless, today, the PCR test is considered the gold standard of molecular diagnostics, most notably in the diagnosis of COVID-19.

However, a closer analysis reveals that the PCR has actually been pretty spotty and that false positives abound. Thankfully, the New York Times is once again on the case. “Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive; Maybe It Shouldn’t Be,” according to NYT reporter Apoorva Mandavilli. Essentially, positive results are getting tossed around way too frequently. Rather, they should probably be reserved for individuals with “greater viral load.” So how have they’ve been doing it all this time you ask? “The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample . .. the more likely the patient is to be contagious.”

Unfortunately, the “cycle threshold” has been ramped up. What happens when it’s ramped up? Basically, “huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus” are deemed infected. However, the severity of the infection is never quantified, which essentially amounts to a false positive. Their level of contagion is essentially nil. How are they determining the cycle threshold? If I didn’t suspect that it was based on maximizing the amount of “cases,” I would find the determination pretty arbitrary. More than a few of the professionals on record for Times report appear pretty perplexed on this vital detail which is essentially driving “clinical diagnostics, for public health and policy decision-making.”

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They don’t know what they’re doing.

“Lockdowns temporarily reduce infections and associated deaths. But they do so only by deferring them to the period after they are lifted.”

England Underestimates The Costs Of Lockdown At Its Peril (Jonathan Sumption)

Suppose there is nothing that governments can do to stop the spread of Covid-19. What then? It is not a hypothetical question, as England is discovering. “We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” the prime minister observed in Saturday’s Downing Street press conference. But humility learns from experience, and there was no sign of that in the measures he then went on to announce. In my opinion, the problem with lockdowns is that they are indiscriminate, ineffective in the long term, and carry social and economic costs that outweigh their likely benefits. Lockdowns temporarily reduce infections and associated deaths. But they do so only by deferring them to the period after they are lifted. Members of the government’s Sage group pointed this out back in February.

“Measures which are too effective,” they said, “merely push all transmission to the period after they are lifted, giving a delay but no substantial reduction in either peak incidence or overall attack rate.” In the meantime, these restrictions prolong the crisis, slow down the process by which the population acquires a measure of natural immunity, and cause immeasurable collateral damage. This is what we are experiencing now. Lockdowns are indiscriminate because they do not distinguish between different categories of people whose vulnerabilities are very different. Some are young, some old. Some have had the disease and enjoy a measure of immunity while others do not. Some live alone and are starved of company, others have their families around them. Some live in rural Cornwall, where the reproduction rate is low, others in Liverpool, where it is high.

Allowing people to make their own judgments, tailored to their own circumstances and those of the people around them, is not only a more humane and rational response to the pandemic. It also directs resources to where they are actually needed. Instead, ministers treat the entire population as an undifferentiated mass. This one-size-fits-all approach is irrational. The result is to inflict an appalling injustice on the young, who are unlikely to become seriously ill but are bearing almost all the burden of the counter-measures. The average age at which people die with Covid-19 is over 82. As of 3 November, the Office for National Statistics reports that 49,420 out of 55,311 deaths involving Covid-19 were among people aged 65 or older. The risk of death for young people is very small. They are not the ones who are filling NHS beds.

Yet their job prospects are being snuffed out. The spectacle of bright engineering graduates and talented musicians forced into unemployment, or to take jobs in which their training will go to waste, is a savage indictment of current policies. It is the old and vulnerable whom we should be protecting from the virus. Care homes should be better managed and resourced. Older people who live outside such institutions may shield themselves from infection, if they choose to, though some may prefer to take the risk. But the young and healthy should not be deprived of the ability to live fulfilling and productive lives simply to spare the old and vulnerable from taking precautions for their own safety. The lower proportion of positive test results from older people since the summer suggests that many of them are already doing so.

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Political persecution?!

Kim Dotcom Can Be Extradited To US But Can Also Appeal (BBC)

A long-running effort to extradite file-sharing site mogul Kim Dotcom to the US has been left in limbo after a Supreme Court decision in New Zealand. The court ruled that he can be returned to the US to face copyright charges – but has also overturned another lower court’s decision, effectively granting him the right to appeal. Mr Dotcom himself described the ruling as a “mixed bag”. The legal wrangling is likely to continue. The court ruled that Kim Dotcom and his three co-accused were liable for extradition on 12 of the 13 counts the FBI is seeking to charge them with. But it also ruled that the Court of Appeal had erred in dismissing judicial review requests from Mr Dotcom, and granted him the right to continue with them.

The FBI alleges that Megaupload facilitated copyright infringement on a huge scale, but Mr Dotcom’s lawyers argue that the website was never meant to encourage copyright breaches. If he is extradited, he faces a lengthy jail term. In response to the ruling, he tweeted a statement from his lawyers which read: “For the Dotcom team, and especially for Kim and his family, it is a mixed bag.” “There is no final determination that he is to go to the United States. However, the court has not accepted our important copyright argument and in our view has made significant determinations that will have an immediate and chilling impact on the internet.”

The controversial figure founded file-sharing site Megaupload in 2005, and made millions of dollars from advertising and premium subscriptions. At one point, he boasted that it was responsible for 4% of internet traffic. In 2012, he was arrested when armed police stormed his Auckland home in a dramatic dawn raid, which was later to become the subject of its own legal enquiry, when Mr Dotcom sued for damages. A district court in New Zealand ruled in 2015 that he could be extradited, but a series of appeals and judicial reviews followed. Lawyers for Mr Dotcom argued that his actions did not amount to criminal offences in New Zealand, and were therefore not extraditable.

Read more …

And who goes to jail?

Bayer Takes Over $10 Billion Write-Down Over Monsanto Roundup Weed Killer (RT)

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer said it’s facing a double hit from a higher legal bill for claims relating to weed killer Roundup and €9.25 billion ($10.8 billion) in impairments on Monsanto-related agriculture businesses. According to the company, the write-downs were driven by weaker demand from farmers due to low biofuel prices and an increase of about $750 million in the costs of settlement terms with US plaintiffs over Roundup. As a result, the losses before interest and tax amounted to €9.4 billion ($10.9 billion) in the third quarter. “The impact of the (coronavirus) pandemic is placing additional strain on our Crop Science Division. We are also facing negative currency effects,” Chief Financial Officer Wolfgang Nickl said as quoted by Reuters.


Nickl explained that a massive depreciation of the Brazilian real was weighing heavily on the firm’s business in the world’s second-largest agricultural market. Bayer said it was unable to say what part of the impairment was attributable to legacy Monsanto businesses, saying only that two-thirds of the write-downs were due to currency and interest rate effects. Bayer has been under fire and facing a wave of lawsuits in the US over Roundup since its 2018 takeover of Monsanto for about $63 billion. The deal made Bayer the world’s largest supplier of seeds and pesticides. In June, Bayer struck an $11 billion outline agreement with US plaintiffs’ lawyers, but a judge later took issue with a side arrangement on future cases that may yet be lodged, known as a class plan.

Read more …

 

 

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Jul 282015
 
 July 28, 2015  Posted by at 6:38 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Jack Delano Chicago & North Western Railroad locomotive shops 1942

As the “Varoufakis Files” provide everyone interested in the Greek tragi-comedy with an additional million pages of intriguing fodder -we all really needed that added layer of murky conspiracy, re: the Watergate tapes-, a different question has been playing in my head. Again. That is: Why are economists discussing politics?

Why are the now 6 month long Greece vs Troika discussions being conducted by the people who conduct them? All parties involved are apparently free to send to the table whoever they want, and while that seems nice and democratic, it doesn’t necessarily make it the best possible idea. To, in our view, put it mildly.

For perspective, please allow me to go back to something I wrote 3,5 months ago, May 12 2015:

Greece Is Now Just A Political Issue

[..] the EU/troika anno 2010 decided to bail out German and French and Wall Street banks (I know there’s an overlap) – instead of restructuring the debts they incurred with insane bets on Greece and its EU membership- and put the costs squarely on the shoulders of the Greek population.

This, as I said many times before, was not an economic decision; it was always entirely political. It’s also, by the way, therefore a decision the ECB should have fiercely protested, since it’s independent and a-political and it can’t afford to be dragged into such situations. But the ECB didn’t protest. [..]

The troika wants the Syriza government to execute things that run counter to their election promises. No matter how many people point out the failures of austerity measures as they are currently being implemented in various countries, the troika insists on more austerity. Even as they know full well Syriza can’t give them that because of its mandate. Let alone its morals.

It’s a power game. It’s a political game. It always was. But still it has invariably been presented by both the –international- press and the troika as an economic problem. Which has us wondering why this statement by ECB member and Austrian central bank head Ewald Nowotny yesterday, hasn’t invited more attention and scrutiny:

ECB’s Nowotny: Greece’s Problem Isn’t Economic

The Greek problem is more a political question than an economic one, a member of the European Central Bank said Monday. Discussions with political parties such as Greece’s left-wing Syriza and Spain’s Podemos may be refreshing by bringing in new ideas, “but at the end of the day, they must [end in] results,” ECB member Ewald Nowotny said, adding discussions are “not about playing games.”

The central banker declined to speculate on how to solve Greece’s financial problem saying the issue “is much more a political question than an economic question.” Mr. Nowotny also doesn’t see the ECB’s role as creating a federalized financial government inside the euro zone. “We cannot substitute the political sphere,” he said.

That seems, from where we’re located, to change the discussion quite a bit. Starting with the role of the ECB itself. Because, for one thing, and this doesn’t seem to be clear yet, if the Greek problem is all politics, as the central bank member himself says, there is no role for a central bank in the discussions. If Greece is a political question, the ECB should take its hands off the whole Greek issue, because as a central bank, it’s independent and that means it’s a-political.

The ECB should provide money for Greece when it asks for it, since there is no other central bank to provide the lender of last resort function for the country. Until perhaps Brussels calls a stop to this, but that in itself is problematic because it would be a political decision forced on an independent central bank once again. It would be better if the ‘union’, i.e. the other members, would make available what Greece needs, but they -seem to- think they’re just not that much of a union.

In their view, they’re a union only when times are good. And/or when all major banks have been bailed out; the people can then fight over the leftover scraps.

The IMF has stated they don’t want to be part of a third Greek bailout. Hardly anyone seems to notice anymore, but that makes the IMF a party to political decisions too. Lagarde et al claim they can’t loan to countries that don’t take the ‘right’ measures, but who decides which measures are the right ones? [..] Moreover, if we take Mr. Nowotny on his word, why are there still finance ministers and economists involved in the Greek issue negotiations? Doesn’t that only simply lead to confusion and delay?

It seemed crystal clear to me then, and does even more so today, but nothing has really changed, other than Greece having replaced one economist with another as finance minister. Which never really could help discussions in the eurogroup alone, because, as Ian Parker writes in his long must read “V” (for Vendetta) portrait, the rest of them are still not economists, and therefore have no appetite for discussing matters from that angle:

The Greek Warrior

At the level of the Eurogroup, Varoufakis told me, the conversation was “all about the rules.” It was not a forum in which to discuss debt unsustainability, or the rarity of economic growth under austerity conditions. Varoufakis told me that he was “accused of talking about economics.” Once, Varoufakis was asked what Greece’s target surplus should be, if not 4.5% of GDP. He “had to give a lecture” about the variables that made the question unanswerable in that form. “They’re not economists,” Varoufakis said. “Most of them are lawyers.”

At a certain point, it’s hard to escape the idea that it’s all like if you have a politically volatile discussion about building an airport, or ‘just’ a runway (commonplace issues), and the entire discussion is controlled by architects, or builders, instead of politicians. It makes no sense, and it can only possibly lead to undesirable outcomes. Because you got the wrong people in the wrong venue.

Moreover, unlike architecture, economics has huge credibility issues to begin with. Which is why politicians need to provide very specific instructions to their economists, or the entire exercise risks being watered down in no time to a battle between one economic stream of faith vs another. Keynes vs Mises, that kind of thing.

If we can agree with Nowotny (and I very much do) that this is a political issue, it’s the politicians who should make the decisions, on political grounds, and the economists should fill in the specifics after the fact.

Economists, and eventually lawyers, should fill in the details, but lawyers and economists posing as finance ministers should not be left in charge of the political decisions.

And no, here’s looking at Athens, naming an economist as finance minister does not make him a politician. Nor should it. An economist has his/her own place in the proceedings. But then, that’s where we hit upon the major conundrum: what makes a body a politician?

Turns out, that’s a hard one to answer. Because anyone can pretend to be a politician, and many do pretend just that. But how then, when we can agree that a certain issue is a political rather than an economical one, do we select the proper people to make decisions on the issue?

The simplest bit of deduction teaches us that putting economist Yanis Varoufakis on opposite ends of the same table with eurogroup finance ministers who are lawyers and don’t know diddly-squat about economics, doesn’t work. All a lawyer knows how to do is point to pre-conceived rules and regulations. It’s what lawyers do, it’s what enabled them to get their law degree.

But you might as well put a Chinese farmer and a West Virginia gun dealer together. They don’t speak the same language. Other then perhaps possibly that of compassion, but that’s the one quality lawyers are sure to lack once they get to be finance ministers.

Still, once you acknowledge that something is a political issue, you must make sure that only political arguments drive the talks, not economic ones, not even legal ones. And that’s what seems to be the little big 800-pound thingy, doesn’t it? They all just choose to pretend they speak the same language even if they know they don’t.

So all the eurogroup only possibly can do is to vent as little flexibility as possible. If they veer even an inch off the prescribed path, they would be instantly lost. Lawyers…

But that also, and very much so, means we need to wonder why Syriza insisted on prolonging the eurogroup talks all this time. The eurogroup, whatever it may be, and whatever we may think of it, is not a political forum. It’s evidently not an economic one, either, but that’s another story altogether.

Why did Varoufakis go back into that forum time after time, even after Nowotny said what he did? He must have known from that moment, and long before, that as an economist he had nothing to gain there. He might as well have sent his cleaning lady. And she might have come up with a better result to boot.

Why did Syriza never insist that the people involved be changed, and the venue, to be limited to Merkel and Hollande and Tsipras?

The question that lingers is why these talks are set up the way they are, where failure is all but certain. Is that intentional, as in where the lawyers are sent in because they are supposed to halt all sensible discussion no matter what?

Or, arguably more interesting, is it that when it comes to purely political issues, nobody really knows who to put forward? Who can really discuss exclusively political issues other than actual political leaders?

Well, we know it’s not economists, and we can count out cleaning ladies (though we could get lucky). We also know we shouldn’t let lawyers do the trick. They’re too narrow in their range. So who? I would almost say there’s no-one, but that automatically leads to the only possible option: the highest political ‘functionaries’.

Which in the case of the Troika vs Greece means Merkel, Hollande, perhaps Renzi, and Tsipras. The people who’ve been elected (or quasi) to be their nations’ top-notch political leaders. No Dijsselbloem, or Schäuble, or any of those guys. No Varoufakis either.

The ECB is both a participant in the talks and a creditor, a stakeholder. That pushes it painfully close to being a political participant, something a central bank should never ever be.

But the breaching of red lines and grey areas has become so ubiquitous in the whole ‘discussion’ that nobody seems to notice anymore, or wants to notice, for that matter.

The same goes for the role of the IMF. What do they think they’re doing? The Fund should stay far away from any political discussion, or it loses its credibility.

Both the ECB and the IMF try to keep up the illusion that their decisions are a-political and within their respective mandates, but that idea can only be maintained if and when the Greece issue were an economical one. We’ve already seen it’s not.

We end up concluding that the entire process has been a disaster, unless one’s aim from the get-go was to gut the Greek economy even more, and the outcome is -therefore- a disaster too.

But it’s still economists who keep holding the talks. The “technical experts” from the Troika that re-enter Athens as we speak may be a bit more knowledgeable when it comes to economics that the EU finance ministers, but still, they are loaded with their own issues.

If I were Tsipras I’d refuse to have any of my people talk to any Troika ‘negotiators’ from here on in, and insist on direct talks with Merkel and Hollande only (I’d have done that a long time ago, too). See what the real intentions are amongst those that have real power, and only after that, have staff, like economists and lawyers, discuss specifics and fill in details.

Things have been moving the 180º other way around now, and it could never even possibly have led to a positive result. You can’t start with the details.

Here’s still wondering why they all insist on doing things that way. Isn’t it obvious? Or has the whole thing simply been intentional all along?

Oh, and before I forget, most commentaries on the Greek issue in the media also come from economists. Some of those are palatable, even smart. But at the same time, they haven’t yet gotten the message either: it’s all about politics. If it were just economics, Greece would be solved in 2 seconds flat.

But it’s not. And there’s a reason for that which lies way beyond economics.