Mar 082021





I can’t NOT do something with a piece my long time friend Jim Kunstler wrote recently, see below, since he so completely encapsulates the ghost of our time. I can’t, because this goes to my heart. It started out a year ago with people wanting to tear down statues, and now we have progressed to world literature, and even Looney Tunes. Jim turns to Winnie the Pooh because he’s sort of the ultimate anti-bad guy.

I mailed Jim to give him my compliments for the piece, and tell him of Automatic Earth commenter V. Arnold’s “That Kunstler piece is just…just…just…just incredibly excellent… I never in my life read such an excellent piece of literature…aimed at todays world… Kunstler rules…Thanks Ilargi…”, and he replied: “Raul – Why thank you for that lavish compliment. I felt a little insecure about the Winnie burlesque. Very reassuring to hear that it was appreciated.”

What I said about the statues “cancelling” when it happened was that it would be endless, and therefore useless. But literature is way worse. Literature, books, made me who I am, just like watching Rembrandt and van Gogh, and listening to Mozart and Bach, and yes, people may have had different views 400 or 2,000 years ago, but this is our history, this is where we come from, this is who we are. And trying to deny who we are won’t make us any less so.

I’m not particularly in favor of erecting statues of Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao, but trying to erase the worst of mankind from our memories won’t make them go away. A slaveholder will still always be the first president of the United States, and its capital will also still be named after him. And this is repeated in a million places and names around the world, and perhaps we should leave all those things and aim to do better today, instead of cancelling and erasing yesterday, because that may well increase the risk that such acts will rise again, and we’ll have nothing left to remind us.


But I care more about literature than I do about statues of US civil war generals. Though at the same time I do wonder what it would take to lead some people to start questioning Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci, or Rodin, and then we would be back at square one anyway, this thing is truly endless. And there’s always something that people in the past have said or thought or done that someone in 2021 can find fault with. And that may leave them to find fault in 2021, when black and brown girls and boys are still bombed into oblivion.

In essence, it’s simply a question of nobodies trying to cancel the work of geniuses, until we’re all nobodies. Art is the ultimate expression of what the human mind is capable of, other than love and compassion. What we’ve recently seen “attempting to be cancelled” are fantastic works like To Kill a Mockingbird, Odyssey, Dr. Seuss, and you wonder when they’ll get around to Shakespeare and the Bible. They will.

And yesterday we see the cancel culture targeting Pepé Le Pew. Good golly, Batman, once you start going through the Looney Tunes catalogue, it’s hard to see how any of it would survive. And how about Disney? Meanwhile, today’s kids are playing “Grand Theft Auto” and “Call of Duty”. How lost are we? Do I want my MTV, or do I want my Dostojevsky? Well, I want it all. And the classics, and the Bard.

And I don’t want you to cancel culture any of it away from me. Because it’s what made me who I am. And I know what’s good about it, and what’s not. I can think, and I don’t need or want you to think for me. This is so important to me that I find it hard to find both the rationale and the emotion to express it. Cut it out. As I said the other day, there’s no difference between book banning and book burning.


From his site,, here’s Jim Kunstler’s ultimate, brilliant take on it:





The Trial of Winnie the Pooh



A solemn silence turned collective gasp in the District of Columbia Woke Circuit courtroom as two bailiffs entered the door beside the jury box with the small cream-colored bear suspended between them, his stumpy hind legs wheeling fruitlessly to seek purchase in the unavailing air. The Queen of Hearts, presiding, banged her gavel as the little bear was seated at the table for the defense beside another rather small, darkish, furtive figure.

The Queen of Hearts peered over her half-glasses at the defendant and snarled, “State your full name and residence.”

“Winnie-the-Pooh,” the defendant said. “From the Hundred Acre Wood.”

“What is your personal pronoun?”

The bear looked perplexed. “Oh, bother,” he said. “Nobody I know has such a thing?”

“Of course they do,” the Queen said.

“Perhaps it’s ‘the’,” the bear said.

“That is a definite article, not a pronoun!” the Queen barked. “Are you an imbecile?”


“I’m not sure. Maybe it’s ‘dear’”—

“That’s enough out of you!” the Queen said. “And let’s have no more impertinence! Do you have counsel?”

“Why, yes,” the bear said. “Mr. Kafka, who is seated beside me.”

“You are mistaken,” the Queen said. “That is a cockroach seated beside you, and the court is displeased to see it. Bailiff, please remove that disgusting cockroach from my court.”

Mr. Kafka, gesticulating in protest with all six arms and legs, had to be dragged out.

“First witness!” the Queen screeched. “Counsel for the prosecution….”

“Calling Uncle Remus,” said the prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, famous for his exploits in the Enron case and with The Mueller Team in the old Russia collusion days.

An elderly gentleman-of-color with white beard and a kindly face limped forward and took the witness stand.

“Do you know this bear?” Weissmann asked.

“I knows a Brer B’ar,” Uncle Remus said. “But he a black b’ar. Dishyere one a white b’ar.”

“Exactly!” Weissmann said. “Dismissed.”

“Dat all?” Uncle Remus asked.

“It’s plenty,” Weissmann retorted and smirked at the jury, composed of members from the United Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Antifa, who all nodded amongst themselves.

“A white bear!” Weissmann repeated for emphasis, shaking his head. “And not a polar bear, either. A white bear. From England. Think about it…!”

The jurors emitted growls of opprobrium.

“Next witness,” the Queen cried.

“Calling N-Word Jim,” Weissmann said.

A strapping middle-aged gentleman-of-color, dressed in ragged clothes, strode to the witness chair.

“You reside in libraries all over the world, is that correct?” the attorney asked.

“Yassuh, dat is so. But I’se originally fum Hannibal, Missouri.”

“Are you acquainted with the defendant?”

“I done seen him on many a shelf ‘round de worl’.”

“How much shelf space does he occupy compared to you?”

“Well, fur as I knows, ‘bout double.”

“Does that seem fair to you?”

“Way I sees it, he in mebbe twice as minny books as me and Huck.”

“Huck! Who is this Huck?”

“White boy I done made a journey down de ribber wif one time.”

“What is your experience with white folks, Jim?”

“Well, dey runs mos’ everything, I ‘spect. Leas’ as fur as I kin see.”

“Exactly!” Weissmann argued. “Is it not white privilege to — as you say — run everything?” he added, shaking his head gravely. “Hegemonizing and colonizing literature everywhere you look.”

“Say, what…?” the witness rejoined and pulled his chin.

“You can go back to your raft, Jim,” Weissmann said. “Dismissed. Calling Mr. Christopher Robin.”

A very old man, bent and trembling, shuffled forward to the stand, leaning on his brass-headed cane.

“You’ve been acquainted with the defendant for how many years?”

“Oh, yes, many, since…let’s see… uh, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, I’d say.”

“In all those years, did he ever… touch you?”

“We held hands. And hugged frequently.”

“I see,” Weissmann sneered. “And this ‘touching’ started when you were, what? About five years old?”

“I suppose. Yes. It was a very long time ago.”

“Do you recall an incident involving the defendant, a person named Piglet, and a broken balloon?”

“Yes… yes, I do!”

“That was not really a balloon, was it, Mr. Robin?”

“At the time, I thought…”

“You thought!” Weissmann barked. “We all think, don’t we? Sometimes maybe a little too much! I’ll tell you what I think: I think the jury can see exactly what was going on between you and the defendant, this very privileged bear. And if they think the way I do — that is, as a normal person with healthy morals — they’ll think that this was depraved behavior on the part of this bear, routinely abusing a five-year-old boy, year after year after year!”

The jury members all nodded avidly and buzzed between themselves.

Christopher Robin looked up at the bench.

“Balloon, indeed!” the Queen snorted, wagging her finger at both the bear and Christopher Robin. “I think we’ve heard enough.”

“No! I have one other witness,” Weissmann said. “Calling Peter Pan….”

A figure wearing a leaf-green tunic and tights, and a feathered cap, flew across the room and landed in the witness seat.

“You’ve had occasion to work at the Disney Studios with the defendant, have you not?”

“I would see him around the lot on lunch breaks,” Pan said. “But we weren’t on the same pictures — except one time for a TV Christmas special where we all did cameos.”

“And what was your impression of this bear?”

“He made a crack about not believing in fairies. I didn’t know if he was kidding or not.”

“Were you hurt by that remark?”

“Not personally, but I saw what it did to my sidekick, Tinkerbelle. Her light almost went out.”

“Your honor, ladies, gentlemen, and non-binaries of the jury, We have definitely heard enough.”

“The defense rests!” the Queen of Hearts screeched. “Mr. Pooh, you have led a life of disgusting racism, colonialism, hate-ism, white supremacy, and depravity. I am directing the jury to find you guilty as charged and sentence you to be cancelled.” She pounded the bench with her gavel.

“Oh, bother,” Winnie the Pooh said, still perplexed and bewildered.

“Take him out, burn all those wicked books of his, and put him on top of the fire.”

“Lawks a’mercy,” Uncle Remus cried from the back of the room.

“See you up in sweet Beulah-land, Pooh, honey,” N-Word Jim said.

“Next case!” the Red Queen yelled above the commotion. “The people versus Robin Hood and his so-called Merry Men.”

Roll credits.

Fade to black….




We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.



Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.


Mar 022021
 March 2, 2021  Posted by at 10:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  26 Responses »

Pablo Picasso Acrobat 1930


“Did You Agree To This? Everybody’s Locked Up” – Edward Snowden (ZH)
Coronavirus Crisis Unlikely To Be Over By The End Of The Year – WHO (G.)
WHO Panel: Hydroxychloroquine Should Not Be Used To Prevent COVID-19 (Hill)
Data On Long Covid In UK Children Is Cause For Concern, Scientists Say (G.)
A Return To Normalcy Seen In November (K.)
Party Like It’s 1984 (Jim Kunstler)
US, EU Set To Impose Sanctions On Russia (NBC)
Duckworth Calls For Russian Bounties Intelligence To Be Declassified (Hill)
Stefan Halper’s Role In Crossfire Hurricane Larger Than Previously Known (ET)
Halper Reports Reveal Wider-Ranging Operation To Spy On Trump Campaign (JTN)
Bernie Sanders Vows To Force Vote On $15 Minimum Wage (Hill)
Joe Biden Says His Hands Are Tied On $15 Minimum Wage. That’s Not True (Sirota)
Finance As Culture (Luttig)
Mob Justice May Be Poetic Justice, But Cuomo Deserves Due Process (Turley)
Cuomo Swears He Always Kept Mask On While Sexually Harassing Women (BBee)
Odyssey Banned for Violence, Sexism; Is this the End of World Classics? (GR)



Update: as you may notice, we’re experimenting with ads a bit.








“Did You Agree To This? Everybody’s Locked Up” – Edward Snowden (ZH)

A new video montage of recent interviews with former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden exposes how the global COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns – which have been particularly severe and far-reaching in Western countries like the UK, Canada, and in a number of major US cities – coupled with the already immense power of Silicon Valley and its allies in the national security state, has served to keep individuals and entire populations ‘gated off’ from one another. “This is just the beginning,” Snowden warns of these unprecedented times. “All of these things today have consequences which we are not informed about.” “I would say this is sort of unusual… we’re all spread all over the world in different rooms, everybody’s locked up… but for me this is how I’ve always lived.”

He narrates that so much of our life is “intermediated by the screens.” Increasingly our lives are “intermediated by these screens. We spend less time outside and more and more time staring into glass or through glass to connect with that larger world – something beyond ourselves.”Ultimately he poses the following questions as a warning in the video entitled, “Edward Snowden 2021: The Most VICIOUS HONEST 10 Minutes of your LIFE!”… “Increasingly it feels something distinct from us, something apart from us – something that we are witnessing rather than participating in. Ask yourself: Is this your will? Is this what you want? Did you agree to this? Is this consistent with the vision of the future you want to see?

Snowden continues, “The institutional powers of our day… which have assumed for themselves some mandate – whether to conduct business, whether its to govern the lives of others, whether it’s to make war, .. these institutional powers don’t seem to particularly care about your answer to that question: is this what you wanted? Is this OK? Did you agree to it?” The answer is frequently “you don’t have a choice” as to whether you agree or not… “because they have the gun, they have the baton. And Facebook would say ‘Click OK to continue’ – and if you don’t you can’t do anything…”

Read more …

the “virus is very much in control”…

Coronavirus Crisis Unlikely To Be Over By The End Of The Year – WHO (G.)

Despite the spread of Covid-19 being slowed in some countries due to lockdowns and vaccination programs, it is “premature” and “unrealistic” to the think the pandemic will be over by the end of the year, the World Health Organization’s executive director of emergency services has said. Speaking at a press briefing Geneva, Dr Michael Ryan said while vaccinating the most vulnerable people, including healthcare workers, would help remove the “tragedy and fear” from the situation, and would help to ease pressure on hospitals, the “virus is very much in control”. “It will be very premature, and I think unrealistic, to think that we’re going to finish with this virus by the end of the year,” Ryan said.

“If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalisation, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic.” The number of new global infections rose last week for the first time in almost two months. Reported cases increased in four of the WHO’s six regions: the Americas, Europe, south-east Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. “This is disappointing, but not surprising,” said the director general of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We’re working to better understand these increases in transmission. Some of it appears to be due to relaxing of public health measures, continued circulation of variants, and people letting down their guard.” He said while vaccines would help to save lives, “if countries rely solely on vaccines, they’re making a mistake”.

Read more …

Meawhile in Greece…

A Return To Normalcy Seen In November (K.)

Greek authorities’ main concern is now the timeline for a return to normalcy, after a year of the pandemic. The economy cannot withstand many more months of lockdowns and increasing coronavirus fatigue is gripping the population. Experts say the return to normalcy will happen when “herd immunity” is achieved. For that to happen, they say, 70% of the population must be vaccinated. Then, of course, there are questions of how long the immunity lasts, whether the disease will recur, and so on. According to a team of researchers at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki who have developed a Covid-19 risk evaluation model, the vaccination of 70% of the population, and thus herd immunity, will be achieved in November, provided there are 1 million vaccinations per month.

Under this caveat, the percentage of the vaccinated population, now standing at 9%, will reach 30% at the end of May, 38% in June, 46% in July, 54% in August and 62% in September. By the end of May, a “wall of immunity” for the most vulnerable groups – the elderly and those suffering from serious underlying diseases – will have been built, the researchers say. “[The wall] doesn’t mean complete freedom but at least means the likelihood of lockdown becomes remote,” says Dimosthenis Sarigiannis, professor of environmental engineering at Aristotle University.

Read more …

Ok, let’s see the trials.

WHO Panel: Hydroxychloroquine Should Not Be Used To Prevent COVID-19 (Hill)

The anti-inflammatory drug hydroxychloroquine should not be used to prevent COVID-19, according to a new recommendation from the World Health Organization. Multiple clinical trials of more than 6,000 people showed the drug had no meaningful effect on death or admissions to the hospital in people who had no prior exposure to COVID-19. The trials showed a “moderate certainty” that not only did hydroxychloroquine have no meaningful effect on laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection, it also probably increased the risk of adverse effects.

The WHO’s recommendation was published in The BMJ, a medical journal. A WHO expert panel is studying different drugs that could be used to prevent COVID-19 infection, and the hydroxychloroquine recommendation is the first that the panel has published. “The panel considers that this drug is no longer a research priority and that resources should be used to evaluate other more promising drugs to prevent COVID-19,” the WHO said in a statement. The recommendations are meant “to provide trustworthy guidance on the management of COVID-19 and help doctors make better decisions with their patients,” the WHO said.

Read more …

No word on how many children are affected. If it’s just five, maybe they should tell us.

Data On Long Covid In UK Children Is Cause For Concern, Scientists Say (G.)

Scientists have warned that emerging data on long Covid in children should not be ignored given the lack of a vaccine for this age group, but cautioned that the evidence describing these enduring symptoms in the young is so far uncertain. Recently published data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has caused worry. The data suggest that 13% of under 11s and about 15% of 12- to 16-year-olds reported at least one symptom five weeks after a confirmed Covid-19 infection. ONS samples households randomly, therefore positive cases do not depend on having had symptoms and being tested.

With schools in England poised to reopen on Monday – Prof Christina Pagel, a member of the Independent Sage committee and director of clinical operational research at University College London – in a Twitter post suggested that although emerging data on long Covid in children was uncertain, it should not be ignored, particularly given there was no licensed vaccine for these age groups, and there probably won’t be until the end of this year or early next year. Although children are relatively less likely to become infected, transmit the virus and be hospitalised, the key question is whether even mild or asymptomatic infection can lead to long Covid in children, said Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London.

[..] Some children are initially asymptomatic or have mild symptoms but then it might be six or seven weeks before they start experiencing long Covid symptoms, which can range from standard post-viral fatigue and headaches to neuropsychiatric symptoms such as seizures, or even skin lesions. At the moment there is no consensus on the scale and impact of long Covid in adults, but emerging data is concerning. For children, the data is even more scarce. Recent reports from hospitals in Sweden and Italy have generated concern, but this data is not from national trials – they are single-centre studies – and include relatively small patient numbers, said Sir Terence Stephenson, a Nuffield professor of child health at University College London.

Stephenson was awarded £1.36m last month to lead a study investigating long Covid in 11- to 17-year-olds. “I don’t have a scientific view on what long Covid is in young people is – because frankly, we don’t know,” he said.

Read more …

Of course, steers and cows are easier to push around than bulls, and the technology for transforming bulls into steers — or men in to eunuchs — is not that complex or nuanced..

Party Like It’s 1984 (Jim Kunstler)

Chalk up a fatal blow to The Patriarchy. That avatar of toxic masculinity, Mr. Potato Head has been dumped into the same humid chamber of perdition where the ghosts of Nathan Bedford Forrest, Theodore Bilbo, and Phyllis Schlafly howl and squirm — liberating the billions of potatoes world-wide from the mental prison of binary sexuality. The move by Hasbro (bro? really??) may yet disappoint the legions in Wokesterdom as a-bridge-not-far-enough while they await the debut of Transitioning Potato Head, complete with play hormone syringe and play scalpel, so that the under-six crowd can begin to map out their own gender reassignments without the meddling of Adult 1 and Adult 2, formerly known as Mommy and Daddy.

Was it mere coincidence that the action in Toyland happened the same week that one Rachel Levine was grilled in hir Senate confirmation hearing for the post as Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services? The hearing tilted toward transphobia when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) asked zie, a little too aggressively, if they were in favor of pubescent children opting for sexual reassignment in opposition to xyr parents. The nominee, who hirself transitioned from “male” to “female” in 2011, answered that transgender medical issues are “complex and nuanced.” True (perhaps). And probably more than a Senator who transitioned from ophthalmologist to politician might appreciate.

Such are the great preoccupations of American leadership in these late days of empire. Are their any “historic firsts” left for Progressives to achieve in the march to a transhuman nirvana? An “undocumented” president? Animal representation in the House and Senate? A-I “entities” qualifying for public office — Governor Smartphone? Let’s face it, the pitiful old school humans in charge of things for so long are making a hash of our affairs. A cash register could probably do a better job as Chairman of the Federal Reserve than the always-waffley Jerome Powell. And a MacBook Pro might make a better president than Joe Biden in the brief daily operational hours before his managers a “call a lid.” We’d have to come up with some new personal pronouns for them, of course.

Pundits and observers-of-the-scene have warned us that all this artificially-generated turmoil over the sex-of-things is but one part of the prelude to a “Great Reset” in which people the world over are to be herded into corrals of ultra-regulated behavior. Of course, steers and cows are easier to push around than bulls, and the technology for transforming bulls into steers — or men in to eunuchs — is not that complex or nuanced. The question is: will enough American men submit to castration, either chemical, financial, political, or literal? Maybe not.

Read more …

Oh, cut it out already.

US, EU Set To Impose Sanctions On Russia (NBC)

The U.S. and the European Union are expected to impose coordinated sanctions on Russia as early as Tuesday for the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his arrest and detention that followed, three sources familiar with the planning said. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not otherwise authorized to speak to the media. The sanctions will be the first to target Moscow since Joe Biden became president and opened a comprehensive review of U.S.-Russia policy, including the Kremlin’s actions against Navalny, interference into the U.S. election, the Solar Winds hack and reported bounties offered to Taliban-linked groups to target U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Trump administration declined to take action against Russia for the attempted assassination of Navalny.

The U.S. is expected to use legal authorities to impose sanctions on Russia for its use of a chemical nerve agent against Navalny in August, said a senior administration official, a congressional aide and a Western diplomat. Toxicology tests conducted in Germany, France and Sweden and by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that Navalny was poisoned with a novel form of the Novichok nerve agent in violation of the international Chemical Weapons Convention. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the attack. Upon his return to Russia in January, Navalny was arrested and sentenced to more than two years in jail. He has been transferred to a penal colony. The E.U. has taken action against Russia for poisoning Navalny, restricting travel and freezing the assets of six Russians in October, but this week’s sanctions would be the first issued under the E.U.’s new human rights regime.

E.U. Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told the Atlantic Council last week that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had asked the E.U. to coordinate with the U.S. on the new sanctions. The E.U.’s procedural vote to formally adopt the sanctions will close at noon Tuesday Brussels time. “I wouldn’t want to speak to any measures that we may have coming, but suffice it to say that we have coordinated very closely,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday about the cooperation between the U.S and the E.U. Price did not elaborate on the timing of the sanctions but added, “We’ve been working on it as an urgent challenge.” An investigation by U.N. experts released Monday found that the attack against Navalny falls within a wider trend, observed over several decades, of arbitrary killings and attempted killings of Russian citizens and government critics, both within Russia and extraterritorially.

Read more …

I said cut it out!

Duckworth Calls For Russian Bounties Intelligence To Be Declassified (Hill)

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Monday called for the Biden administration to declassify intelligence related to reports that the Kremlin offered bounties to Taliban forces for targeting U.S. troops in Afghanistan. “While any intelligence assessment on this matter is understandably sensitive, the American public, and Gold Star Families in particular, have a pressing need to know if there is any truth to these claims,” Duckworth wrote in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines first obtained by Politico. “I believe such a finding may be presented while protecting classified information.” The intelligence, first reported last year, was dismissed as a “hoax” by then-President Trump.

Last September, Gen. Frank McKenzie, who oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said the military was still investigating, adding that the report “has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me.” Haines has been tasked with reviewing intelligence on recent Russian activity, including the alleged bounty initiative. In her letter, Duckworth asked for Haines to publish an unclassified report to “provide urgently needed transparency on this grave matter.” Duckworth, a veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, was one of the leading voices calling for action in response to the report last year. In July, she led a letter from Senate Democrats asking to see the then-president’s intelligence briefings relating to the alleged bounties.

“Despite my persistent attempts to bring transparency to these alarming reports, the Trump administration failed to provide an official response to basic questions: did the United States Government or our partners assess the likelihood of the existence of the GRU bounty payment activity, and did the United States Government find evidence indicating correlation or causation between GRU bounty payments and deadly attacks on U.S. troops by Taliban-linked militants?” Duckworth wrote in the letter on Monday, referring to Russia’s secretive military intelligence agency.

Read more …

Always thought his role was quite substantial.

Stefan Halper’s Role In Crossfire Hurricane Larger Than Previously Known (ET)

Newly released FBI documents shed light on two meetings between FBI Agent Stephen Somma and FBI source Stefan Halper, providing further insight into the wide scope of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign—and the active role played by Halper, who acted as a confidential human source (CHS) for the FBI. Although Halper was not considered an official CHS for the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation prior to these meetings, Somma had known Halper since 2011, according to the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on FISA Abuse. Additionally, Somma had served as Halper’s handler from “2011 through 2016” as part of Somma’s “regular investigative activities.”

The FBI’s meetings with Halper on Aug. 11 and 12, 2016, were done at the proposal of Somma, who said he “lacked a basic understanding” of political campaigns. Somma said that he selected Halper because he knew that Halper had been “affiliated with national political campaigns since the early 1970s” and “might have information about, and potentially may have met, one or more of the Crossfire Hurricane subjects”—Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Somma said that he did not initially tell Halper that there was already an open FBI investigation or who the subjects were, nor, he told the IG, did he tell Halper of the conversation between Papadopoulos and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, which was the FBI’s claimed reason for opening Crossfire Hurricane.

Somma was proven to be prophetic, as Halper already had direct knowledge of two of the three people considered subjects of Crossfire Hurricane. And Halper would later fashion a meeting in London with Papadopoulos, the one person he didn’t already know. Halper also managed a meeting with Sam Clovis from the Trump campaign. Additionally, based on the FBI documents obtained by Just The News, it appears that Halper was responsible for pushing Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as a “person of interest” to the FBI with what appears to have been a false story that the FBI failed to immediately verify—and then later failed to correct as the story gained traction in the media during a crucial period of the Trump presidency.

Read more …

Problem remains: who will investigate the investigators?

Halper Reports Reveal Wider-Ranging Operation To Spy On Trump Campaign (JTN)

Once-secret reports show the FBI effort to spy on the Trump campaign was far wider than previously disclosed, as agents directed an undercover informant to make secret recordings, pressed for intelligence on numerous GOP figures, and sought to find “anyone in the Trump campaign” with ties to Russia who could acquire dirt “damaging to Hillary Clinton.” The now-declassified operational handling reports for FBI confidential human source Stefan Halper — codenamed “Mitch” — provide an unprecedented window both into the tactics used by the bureau to probe the Trump campaign and the wide dragnet that was cast to target numerous high-level officials inside the GOP campaign just weeks before Americans chose their next president in the November 2016 election.

Among the revelations, the memos make clear that: Almost immediately after the FBI opened a Russia collusion probe on July 31, 2016 narrowly focused on the foreign lobbying of a single Trump campaign aide named George Papadopoulos, agents pressed Halper for information on more than a half dozen other figures, including future Attorney General Jeff Sessions, foreign policy adviser Sam Clovis, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, economic adviser Peter Navarro, future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser Carter Page. Halper provided significant exculpatory evidence to the FBI — including transcripts of conversations he recorded of targeted Trump advisers providing statements of innocence — that was never disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that approved a year of surveillance targeting the Trump campaign, and specifically Page.

While current FBI Director Chris Wray has insisted the bureau did not engage in spying on the Trump campaign, Halper’s taskings include many of the tradecraft tactics of espionage, including the creation of a fake cover story (he wanted a job at the Trump campaign), secret recordings, providing background on targets, suggested questions to ask and even contact information for potential targets. But the memos’ most explosive revelations are the sheer breadth of the FBI’s insufficiently predicated dragnet targeting the Trump campaign, and the agents’ clearly stated purpose of thwarting any Trump campaign effort to get dirt from Russia that could hurt his Democratic rival.

“The Crossfire Hurricane investigative team is attempting to determine if anyone in the Trump campaign is in a position to have received information either directly or indirectly from the Russian Federation regarding the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton,” one of the early FBI electronic communications (ECs) from Halper’s undercover work stated. Ordinarily, FBI counterintelligence investigations that target Americans legally must be predicated on specific allegations that narrowly focus the bureau’s spy powers on limited targets to avoid unnecessary infringement of privacy and civil liberties. But the Halper documents reveal a large, unfocused FBI search with little substantiation of alleged wrongdoing, and significant evidence that undermined the core allegations, experts told Just the News.

Read more …

Bernie vs Ol’ Joe.

Bernie Sanders Vows To Force Vote On $15 Minimum Wage (Hill)

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says Democrats should “ignore” the recent ruling of the Senate parliamentarian and is vowing to force the Senate to vote this week on an amendment to set the federal minimum wage at $15 an hour. Sanders on Monday declared he would not back down on his signature wage initiative after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled last week that a provision setting the federal minimum wage at $15 an hour would not be eligible under special budget rules Democrats are using to avoid a filibuster while passing their coronavirus relief bill. “My personal view is that the idea that we have a Senate staffer, a high-ranking staffer, deciding whether 30 million Americans get a pay raise or not is nonsensical.

“We have got to make that decision, not a staffer who’s unelected, so my own view is that we should ignore the rulings, the decision of the parliamentarian,” Sanders told reporters. Sanders added, “Given the enormous crises facing this country and the desperation of working families, we have got to as soon as possible end the filibuster.” “We cannot have a minority of members define what the American people want,” he said. Sanders said he will force a vote on an amendment raising the federal minimum wage this week. “To the best of my knowledge, there will be a vote on the minimum wage, and we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I intend to offer the bill that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and we’ll see how the votes go.” “If we fail in this legislation, I will be back,” he warned. “We are going to keep going. “We are going to raise that minimum wage very shortly to $15 an hour,” he said.

Read more …

LBJ did it.

Joe Biden Says His Hands Are Tied On $15 Minimum Wage. That’s Not True (Sirota)

When a Republican is president, Democratic politicians, pundits and activists will tell you that the presidency is an all-powerful office that can do anything it wants. When a Democrat is president, these same politicians, pundits and activists will tell you that the presidency has no power to do anything. In fact, they will tell you a Democratic president cannot even use the bully pulpit and other forms of pressure to try to shift the votes of senators in his own party. A tale from history proves this latter myth is complete garbage – and that tale is newly relevant in today’s supercharged debate over a $15 minimum wage. In that debate so far, we have seen Democratic senators prepare to surrender the $15 minimum wage their party promised by insisting they are powerless in the face of a non-binding advisory opinion of a parliamentarian they can ignore or fire.

That explanation is patently ridiculous and factually false, so Democratic apologists are starting to further justify the surrender by suggesting that even if the party kept a $15 minimum wage in the Covid relief bill, conservative Democrats such as Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would block it anyway. The White House itself is now falling back on the idea that it doesn’t have the votes to do much of anything, insinuating that Joe Biden – who occupies the world’s most powerful office – somehow has no power to try to change the legislative dynamic. And this spin is being predictably amplified across social media. [..] it is laughable and preposterous to argue that a newly elected president has zero power to even try to shift the dynamic.

And yet, whether you call this all deliberate deception or learned helplessness, this fantastical myth of the Powerless President will inevitably be used to shield Biden from criticism for abandoning his pledge to fight for a $15 minimum wage. The apologism is particularly absurd because unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, who was a relative newcomer to politics, Biden’s major selling point was that he knows “how to make government work”. The guy explicitly pitched himself as the best Democratic presidential candidate by suggesting that in an era of gridlock, he knows how to make the Democratic agenda a reality and Get Things Done™, like master of the Senate Lyndon Baines Johnson. That’s where LBJ himself comes in to destroy the narrative that Democratic presidents in general – and Biden specifically – are inherently helpless.

Read more …

Memes “R” Us.

Finance As Culture (Luttig)

In practice, what does financialization look like? We’ve all heard the institutional narrative. The US stock market has nearly tripled in the past 10 years. The FIRE sector (finance, insurance, real estate) now accounts for 20% of US GDP, versus 10% in 1947. S&P buybacks nearly doubled in the 2010s. IPOs grew 2.5x in 2020. But financialization is no longer purely institutional; it has seeped into our culture. A combination of low interest rates, a historic tech bull run, and the resulting torrent of fomo has tethered us to our monitors to watch candlestick charts. The financialization of culture has manifested in two primary ways: lottery culture and equity culture. We’ve always had lottery culture, in which people trade assets hoping to make money without understanding or conviction of their fundamental value.

In the summer of 1929, for example, Joe Kennedy’s shoe shine boy gave him stock tips, signaling the market peak. But lottery culture has exploded in the past few years. Robinhood has achieved its vision of democratizing access to financial markets, boasting over ten million monthly active users and exponential growth. Retail investor trading as a percentage of stock market volume has more than doubled since 2010. When “stocks only go up”, people realize the stock market is a casino with much better payouts. Gamified trading has tethered us to our phones and bank accounts. Through GameStop, even protest became financialized. At the peak of the GameStop saga, millions of Americans owned GME, arming themselves against hedge funds.

This was part protest, part nihilistic hail mary to get rich. The number of subscribers to the wallstreetbets (WSB) subreddit certainly spiked in 2021, but the exponential compounding for years beforehand implies a degree of inevitability. Memes took lottery culture to new heights. Stocks popular among a retail audience, like Apple, have historically traded at higher multiples than others in their category. Tesla accelerated the divergence between retail excitement and fundamentals: TSLA revenue grew 50% over the past two years, but meme culture helped its market cap grow by 12x. GameStop completed the meme-fundamentals duality: investors don’t even pretend that the company’s fundamentals will ever substantiate its market cap.WSB revealed where Robinhood culture was headed all along: a nihilistic lottery. It was historically viewed as a disorganized and degenerate mob, but the mob has evolved into a laser-focused and motivated militia.

Read more …

So do the people who died in care homes.

Mob Justice May Be Poetic Justice, But Cuomo Deserves Due Process (Turley)

In 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before at Northwestern University Law School to announce President Obama’s “kill list” policy, under which he reserved the right to unilaterally order the death of any American deemed an imminent threat. After all, Holder explained, “the Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” The response was as chilling as the message: The audience of judges, lawyers and law students applauded an attorney general who just told them that any of them could be killed tomorrow on the president’s order. Some of us denounced the “kill list” policy, which foreshadowed what has become a campaign against due process. In our hair-triggered culture of Twitter attacks and “canceling” opponents, due process is treated as hopelessly arcane and inconvenient.

Our political discourse must now be tweet-worthy — less than 280 words — and delivered in a news cycle measured in minutes. Due process, like free speech, is rarely valued until its loss becomes personal. Take Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.). Cuomo advanced his political career by positioning himself at the front of every mob pursuing political rivals, as during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. Before hearing the defense of now-Justice Kavanaugh, Cuomo described the allegations against him by Christine Blasey Ford as presumptively true. He not only effectively called Kavanaugh a rapist, without any due process, but demanded that Kavanaugh take a polygraph as a condition to be believed. Cuomo was not alone. Many Democratic leaders insisted that “women must be believed” when raising sexual harassment allegations and declared Kavanaugh guilty before hearing any testimony.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) dismissed due process concerns for Kavanaugh, adding: “When we talk about … due process and justice, it must focus on the victim.” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said Kavanaugh was not entitled to a presumption of innocence and that men should “just shut up” and accept the allegations. Last year, when Lindsey Boylan’s allegations went public, I wrote a column asking if Cuomo would presume himself guilty, absent a polygraph. Now, after Boylan added details of Cuomo’s alleged kissing and propositioning her, many are struggling with his (and their) prior positions against due process. While CNN, MSNBC and other networks blacked-out the story or barely covered it, others — including many on the right — have declared Cuomo to be guilty and dangerous.

Cuomo deserves due process, despite loudly denying it for others. Simply because Boylan made the allegations is not proof of guilt. Both sides have a right to be heard — not a right to be believed solely on their word. Due process allows us to determine who is a victim — not, as AOC suggested, to vindicate one party as the declared victim. [..] Of course, as Gov. Cuomo has learned, one can lead a mob one day only to be pursued by the mob on the next. It would be easy to leave him to the mob and call it poetic justice, but that is not justice of any kind. Cuomo should receive all of the due process he denied to others — not because he deserves it, but because he embodies the costs of ignoring it.

Read more …

He’ll be arrested any day now.

Cuomo Swears He Always Kept Mask On While Sexually Harassing Women (BBee)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized this weekend for his long-standing habit of sexually abusing young women he holds power over. And while that all sounds quite bad, Governor Cuomo did make it clear to the public that he always wore a mask and socially distanced during these interactions– a fact that has some folks saying he should get off free. “I have the greatest respect for my employees,” Cuomo explained during a press conference. “Especially the girls—we’ve got a lot of young girls on staff who do a really good job.” Cuomo paused for a moment and seemed to wink at someone offscreen.

“And I can guarantee you right now, sure I might be a sexual predator, but not once did I remove my mask, never once broke the six-foot rule during conversations with my girls– at least in 2020. Isn’t that right, Kelly?” Cuomo went on to explain how some of his sexual jokes may not have landed with the women since they couldn’t see his facial expressions. He also claimed that the women may have misheard him since his words were muffled by his mask and they were standing so far apart. “Do I regret making those comments?” Cuomo asked as he stood up to leave the press conference. “No. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve got some strip poker, er– I mean poker, to play.”

Read more …

Ban the Bible!

Odyssey Banned for Violence, Sexism; Is this the End of World Classics? (GR)

Odyssey, Homer’s classic of world literature written in the time of Ancient Greece, was recently banned in Lawrence, Massachusetts for portraying ideas that do not conform to modern norms of behavior. The move, reported recently by the Wall Street Journal, appears to stem from a “social justice” movement, created by Twitter users, called #DisruptTexts. Its proponents believe that any world literature that does not portray the norms that they hold today in terms of gender roles, violence and racial equality must be banned in the interest of shaping a new generation that will not be allowed to come into contact with concepts that they consider repugnant — or even just outdated.

Penelope, sitting at her loom patiently for twenty years while hubby Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War, is not the model of female behavior that teachers who espouse this new type of book banning want their students to emulate. But not only do they not want their students to emulate these behaviors — they want to ban books that contain they want to ban books that portray violence, traditional gender roles and racism, making sure that future generations will never learn about the many adventures of Odysseus and his companions as they made their way across the sea, fought against Troy and wended their way back home after twenty years away.

Books such as this, which provide a treasury of historical references and form the basis of educated peoples’ understanding of the Classical world, naturally contain violent images of battle and strife and portray the social milieu of the day. Until recently, however, teachers would focus on the tremendous literary and historical merit of the world of Homer and other ancient writers, leaving their students to come to their own conclusions as to whether or not they would like to wage warfare or alternatively sit at home weaving while the husband is away at battle.

[..] But the politically-correct rush to judgment, which began in recent years with the banning of American classics such as Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and even more recent works such as How to Kill a Mockingbird — for the use of the n-word — has come back to bite society now that the floodgates have been opened. Originally, the pendulum swung the other way, and it was conservative Americans who were originally guilty of banning books — despite the freedom of speech and expression explicitly enshrined in the Constitution. The first book to be officially banned in America was Thomas Morton’s “New English Canaan,” published in 1637.

A massive, three-volume work, it contained not only Morton’s insightful observations about Native Americans, but also — raising the ire of those who had settled Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Company — a biting satire of the Puritans. As the centuries went on, it wasn’t just political positions that drew the ire of book banners, it was more often portrayals of sex that attracted the eye of censors and caused works of literature to come under scrutiny. And the list of banned books in America is shamefully long, including Peyton Place,The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Beloved, and The Lord of the Flies.

Read more …



We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.



Tulsi Syria





Support the Automatic Earth in 2021. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.