Henri Matisse Bathers by a River 1910
Making Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation an election issue may not be the smartest move ever for the Dems.
But not as bad as Hillary again blaming her loss on the Russians. Look, people don’t like you. Go home. Stay home. Like Joe.
lmaoooo i audibly snorted at the 0:44 mark in this lincoln project ad. pic.twitter.com/xhczTjavVj
— tsar becket adams (@BecketAdams) October 27, 2020
Why Hinter matters. pic.twitter.com/j7YAGQL6yS
— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) October 27, 2020
Nothing is ever my fault.
Failed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is claiming Trump “basically stole the election” from her four years after her loss, a statement that is earning her plenty of ridicule on social media. In an interview with journalist Kara Swisher’s podcast for the New York Times Opinions network released on Monday, Clinton spoke about losing in 2016 because of a “disinformation campaign” run by then-Republican candidate Donald Trump and “Russian media.” She even claimed the election was “stolen” from her. “I think that Trump and a lot of the people around him know that his victory was not on the up and up. They had an extensive campaign to suppress black voters. We now know much more about that than we did,” the former secretary of state said.
She also blamed third party voters who handed Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein historic results for their parties and claimed they were “boosted” by “Russian media.” “They had third party candidates boosted, particularly by Russian media. And the lies and ridiculous stories made up about me were meant to either keep you at home, or drive you third party if they couldn’t get you to vote for Trump,” she said. Trump, she said, holds a presidency that has an “air of illegitimacy,” something she has said many times over the past four years. She now drives Trump and Republicans “crazy” because “I was the candidate that they basically stole an election from.”
Here, have some more deplorables.
We recently discussed how Vanderbilt professor and historian Jon Meacham gave a quiz in his course on the 2020 Election in which students were asked “Was the Constitution designed to perpetuate white supremacy and protect the institution of slavery?” You had to answer “yes” or get points deducted. It appears that the final exam in the class could prove even more demanding for any intellectually honest student if Meacham asks about the voters themselves. The NBC analyst this week declared that President Trump and his supporters are examples of being controlled by what is called “the lizard brain”. It only got worse from there.
Meacham addressed a simple question of whether Trump helped himself with his base in the second presidential debate Thursday night. It is impossible on NBC, however, to refer to Trump voters without some derisive or insulting precursor. Meacham did not disappoint his audience. “I think Trump did himself good with his base tonight,” Meacham said. “The question for America is how big that base is. There is a lizard brain in this country. Donald Trump is a product of the White man’s, the anguished, nervous White guy’s lizard brain.” Meacham was referring to a primitive part of the brain in psychological literature: “Many people call it the ‘Lizard Brain,’ because the limbic system is about all a lizard has for brain function. It is in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing up, and fornication.”
Of course, even with the lead held by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the polls, roughly half of this country still supports Trump (or at least rejects Biden, who Meacham has endorsed). That is a lot of lizard people. What is striking is that Meacham is supposed to give what NBC, MSNBC and PBS present as neutral, scholarly analysis. But his comment about Trump supporters having lizard brains captures why conservative or independent voters view the networks as biased and gratuitously insulting. Indeed, these comments show that networks like NBC are now focusing entirely on Democratic and liberal viewers — writing off half of the American people as gag lines.
[..] I have watched the stereotyping of Trump supporters at media conferences for years. It suggests that roughly 63 million people in this country who voted for Trump in 2016 are knuckle-dragging racists. The media have simply never tried to see any nuance or gain any insight into what is motivating Trump supporters. It is easier to dismiss them as a whole as racists and lizard people. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin has declared that Trump supporters as a whole are racists. That common stereotyping of Trump supporters is uncontested, even as the media object to Trump’s generalizations about other groups. Miami Herald columnist and NBC analyst Leonard Pitts wrote a column headlined: “No, it’s not the economy, stupid. Trump supporters fear a black and brown America.”
I know we use the term ‘election year’, but I don’t think it was ever meant to be used in this sense. It was always ‘election day’.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a request by Wisconsin Democrats to allow an extension for mail-in ballots that are received after Election Day. In a 5-3 ruling, the justices refused to reinstate a lower court order that called for mailed ballots to be counted if they are received up to six days after the Nov. 3 election. A federal appeals court had already put that order on hold. Democrats argued that the flood of absentee ballots and other challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic makes it necessary to extend the period in which ballots can be counted. Wisconsin is one of the nation’s hot spots for COVID-19, with hospitals treating a record high number of patients with the disease.
Republicans had opposed extending the Nov. 3 deadline, saying that voters have plenty of opportunities to cast their ballots by the close of polls on Election Day and that the rules should not be changed so close to the election. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said that more than 201,000 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had approved a six-day extension of a deadline for absentee ballots to be received in Wisconsin. Absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day would have been counted as long as they came in before Nov. 9. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with his conservative colleagues. Justice Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
“He insists Democrats can change the system to guarantee Republicans “will never win another election..”
The vote on Monday to make Judge Amy Coney Barrett the 115th Supreme Court justice will be more than a confirmation. It will be a dispensation, according to former Vice President Joe Biden and various Democratic senators. They have cited the vote as relieving them of any guilt in fundamentally changing the court to manufacture a liberal majority. Like school kids daring others to step over a line as an excuse to fight, Democrats insist that filling this vacancy will invite changes ranging from “packing” the court to stripping it of authority to rule in certain cases. The problem is that the line the Senate will step over is set by the Constitution, while the proposals by Democrats would retaliate against the use of a power granted by the Constitution. Democrats are floating a parade of horribles to “reform” the Supreme Court and negate its growing conservative majority.
Biden said this week that the court is “out of whack” and, as president, he would assemble a commission of “experts” to explore “a number of alternatives that go well beyond packing.” The commission would report to him 180 days after his inauguration. Polls show almost 60 percent of Americans oppose the court packing scheme supported by Democrats, including Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris. One person not polled was the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who denounced such a scheme as guaranteeing the court’s destruction. A New York Times and Siena College poll found only 31 percent favor court packing. That is a familiar figure: For the last four years, the same 30 percent of both parties have supported the most destructive political measures and rhetoric.
Those extremes continue to control our politics, while the vast majority of us in the middle watch in disbelief as virtually every Democratic senator embraces one of the most reviled tactics in American history. Those senators are not alone. A host of professors (who likely will be on the short list for Biden’s commission) are giving credibility to court packing. Harvard professor Michael Klarman attacked the foundations of Congress before attacking the foundations of the court. Klarman condemned a “malapportionment” in the Senate that he believes gives Republicans greater power, and referred to their refusal to vote on Obama court nominee Merrick Garland as “stealing a seat.” While controversial (and I was among those calling for a vote on Garland), that decision was clearly constitutional.
Yet Klarman illogically calls it “court packing” to justify any act of retaliation: “Democrats are not initiating this spiral. They are simply responding in kind.” He then says not to worry about Republicans responding with their own court packing when they return to power. He insists Democrats can change the system to guarantee Republicans “will never win another election,” at least not without abandoning their values. Of course, Klarman concedes “the Supreme Court could strike down everything I just described” so the court must be packed in advance to allow these changes to occur. Here are some of the other wacky ideas to get the court back into “whack.”
Only needed to read the headline to understand why.
I recently published an article discussing why “recessions” are a good thing by reverting debt buildups excesses during expansions. The argument against debt reversions is always the same in that “debt-to-income” ratios low. To wit: “One reason (of many) we don’t need a debt reversion is that household debt service costs (interest etc.) as a % of household incomes are currently at a 40 year low.” – S. Porter If you look at a chart, it certainly would seem that would be the case. But, like most data from the Federal Reserve, you have to dig behind the numbers to reveal the real story. So let’s do that, shall we?
Every year, most Americans go further into debt just to “sustain” their standard of living. To wit: “In 1998, monetary velocity peaked and began to turn lower. Such coincides with the point that consumers were forced into debt to sustain their standard of living. For decades, WallStreet, advertisers, and corporate powerhouses flooded consumers with advertising to induce them into buying bigger houses, televisions, and cars. The age of ‘consumerism’ took hold.“
The idea of “maintaining a certain standard of living” has become a foundation in society currently. The average American believes they are “entitled” to a specific type of house, car, and general lifestyle. Such includes living necessities such as food, running water, electricity, and the latest mobile phone, computer, and high-speed internet connection. (Really, what would be the point of living if you didn’t have access to Facebook every two minutes?) However, maintaining this “entitled” lifestyle requires money, and as shown above, when income and savings run short, debt fills the gap.
Are all COVID patients tested for flu?
Even as worries persist over increasing COVID-19 cases in the United States, cases of another virus — influenza — have plummeted relative to their number a year ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FluView influenza tracker lists an influenza-positive test percentage of 0.3% for week 42 of 2020 — a total of 33 positive tests out of 10,809 specimens. That’s down sharply from 2.4% during the same week last year. Visits to healthcare providers for “influenza-like illnesses” during week 42 were also down this year from the last, though not as sharply: This week that rate was 1.2% of all such visits, while last year it was 1.7%.
Sharp drops in influenza have also been observed elsewhere throughout the world over the past several months. World Health Organization global flu surveillance shows a severe dropoff in flu cases starting in early April; whereas in past years flu cases are sustained at a steady plateau over the mid-year months — driven by the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season — WHO observation has cases more or less disappearing from April onwards. “Globally, influenza activity remained at lower levels than expected for this time of the year,” the WHO wrote earlier this month, “though increased detections were reported in some countries.”
[..] Some experts have, perhaps unsurprisingly, cited the still-ongoing lockdowns, mitigation measures, mask mandates and social distancing orders as possible explanations for reduced flu rates worldwide. “It does seem that the rates are lower,” Phyllis Kanki, an infectious disease professor at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Just the News. “I think COVID mitigation measures are likely to lower levels. Some of these mitigation measures may have been particularly effective for high-risk groups for flu, like the elderly and immunosuppressed.” Nevertheless, she acknowledged, at this point there are “more questions than answers.”
[..] Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, is skeptical about the conventional wisdom that COVID mitigation efforts suppressed this year’s flu. “I think we can dismiss out of hand that that masks and social distancing are responsible for the decline in flu incidence this season,” he told Just the News, while also confessing to being uncertain as to why levels were so low. “First, why would they work for the flu, but not for COVID? Second, there is randomized evidence that those interventions do not work to suppress influenza incidence.” Bhattacharya was referring to a substantial body of evidence indicating that masks do not stop the spread of influenza. A World Health Organization review from last year found “no evidence” that masks helped to stop influenza transmission.
Does this mean they’ll ban Bitcoin?
China is inching closer to the launch of its own sovereign digital currency by giving it a legal foundation in an upcoming law revision, while the central bank is also addressing problems that emerged in pilot tests for the digital yuan. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) published a draft law on Friday that would give legal status to the Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) system, and for the first time the digital yuan has been included and defined as part of the country’s sovereign fiat currency. The draft law would also forbid any party from making or issuing yuan-backed digital tokens to replace the renminbi in the market.
Mu Changchun, head of the central bank’s digital currency research institute, said on Sunday at the Bund Summit in Shanghai that the DCEP will be allowed to circulate and be converted like physical banknotes and coins. “Its centralised management will be good to fight against cryptocurrencies and global stablecoins and prevent their erosion of currency-issuance rights,” he said. China released its design framework for the digital yuan soon after Facebook unveiled its ambitious Libra token project in the summer of last year, with plans for a two-tier issuance structure and a focus on small retail application scenarios. China appears to be the front runner in the race to issue the world’s first digital currency, having conducted a series of trials in four cities – Suzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Xiongan – as well as at venues for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Earlier this month, a district in Shenzhen, just across the mainland border from Hong Kong, gave away 50,000 digital “red packets”, totalling 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million), to local residents in the largest-scale test so far. The central government has made it clear that the goals of the DCEP include replacing cash, maintaining government control over the currency and creating as many small retail application scenarios as possible. China is also looking to internationalise the yuan by enhancing its use in international settlements.
“..dissemination of chaos by ‘self-media’“. Don’t think I’ve seen that term before.
China’s top cyber authority said on Monday it would carry out a “rectification” of Chinese mobile internet browsers to address what it called social concerns over the “chaos” of information being published online. China’s strict internet censorship rules have been tightened numerous times in recent years and in the latest crackdown, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has told firms operating mobile browsers that they have until Nov. 9 to conduct a “self examination” and rectify problems. The problems include the spreading of rumours, the use of sensationalist headlines and the publishing of content that violates the core values of socialism, it said in a statement.
“For some time, mobile browsers have grown in an uncivilised way … and have become a gathering place and amplifier for dissemination of chaos by ‘self-media’,” the CAC said, referring to independently operated social media accounts, many of which publish news. “After the rectification, mobile browsers that still have outstanding problems will be dealt with strictly according to laws and regulations until related businesses are banned.” The campaign will initially focus on eight of the most influential mobile browsers in China, including those operated by Huawei, Alibaba Group Holding’s UCWeb and Xiaomi Corp, it said.
We all heard of Big Brother. We just never understood who he is.
Western publics are waking up very belatedly to the undemocratic power social media wields over them. But if we wish to understand where this ultimately leads, there is no better case study than the very different ways Israelis and Palestinians have been treated by the tech giants. The treatment of Palestinians online serves as a warning that it would be foolish indeed to regard these globe-spanning corporations as politically neutral platforms, and their decisions as straightforwardly commercial. This is to doubly misunderstand their role. Social media firms are now effectively monopolistic communication grids – similar to the electricity and water grids, or the phone network of a quarter of a century ago.
Their decisions are therefore no longer private matters, but instead have huge social, economic and political consequences. That is part of the reason why the US justice department launched a lawsuit last week against Google for acting as a “monopoly gatekeeper for the internet”. Google, Facebook and Twitter have no more a right to arbitrarily decide who and what they host on their sites than telecoms companies once had a right to decide whether a customer should be allowed a phone line. But unlike the phone company, social media corporations control not just the means of communication, but the content too. They can decide, as the Hunter Biden story shows, whether their customers get to participate in vital public debates about who leads them.
The Hunter Biden decision is as if the phone company of old not only listened in to conversations, but was able to cut the line if it did not like the politics of any particular customer. In fact, it is even worse than that. Social media now deliver the news to large sections of the population. Their censoring of a story is more akin to the electricity company turning off the power to everyone’s homes for the duration of a TV broadcast to ensure no one can see it.
At least Merkel said she was angry. But after that, crickets.
As its publisher remains in prison awaiting judgment on his extradition case, we continue our series of looking at WikiLeaks’ significant revelations contributing to the public’s right to know. On Feb. 6, 2017, WikiLeaks released documents detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s espionage program in the months leading up to and following France’s presidential election in 2012. The agency used spies and cyberweapons to infiltrate and hack into the major political parties with competing candidates — the Socialists, the National Front and the Union for a Popular Movement. Their candidates — respectively François Hollande, Marine Le Pen and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy — were also spied upon individually, as were many other prominent political figures.
The objectives of the program included ascertaining the contending parties’ political strategies and platforms, their views of the U.S., and their relations with the European Union, with other European nations (Germany, Britain) as well as Israel, Palestine, Libya, Syria, and others. The CIA’s French operation lasted 10 months, beginning in November 2011 and enduring until September 2012, several months after Hollande won the election and formed a Socialist government. WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the agency’s project bears a special irony: It was just as WikiLeaks published this material in 2017 that the CIA helped propagate unsubstantiated (and later discounted) “intelligence” that Russian hackers and propagandists were interfering with France’s presidential election that year.
Similar allegations (similarly lacking in evidence) were floated as the European Union held parliamentary elections in May 2019. As WikiLeaks reported at the time of the releases on the CIA’s covert activities in France, those revelations were to serve “as context for its forthcoming CIA Vault 7 series.” WikiLeaks’ apparent intent was to display a CIA’s hacking operation in action. Vault 7, the subject of this latest report on the history of WikiLeaks disclosures, stands as the most extensive publication on record of classified and confidential CIA documents. Never before and not since have the agency’s innumerable programs and capabilities been so thoroughly exposed to public scrutiny.
“People who knowingly lied us into the war like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, the Beltway neocon “experts,” and most of the media, faced neither punishment nor professional shaming for their acts.”
The purpose of journalism is to uncover truth – especially uncomfortable truth – and to publish it for the benefit of society. In a free society, we must be informed of the criminal acts carried out by governments in the name of the people. Throughout history, journalists have uncovered the many ways governments lie, cheat, and steal – and the great lengths they will go to keep the people from finding out. Great journalists like Seymour Hersh, who reported to us the tragedy of the Mai Lai Massacre and the horrors that took place at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, are essential. Ten years ago last week, Julian Assange’s Wikileaks organization published an exposé of US government wrongdoing on par with the above Hersh bombshell stories.
Publication of the “Iraq War Diaries” showed us all the brutality of the US attack on Iraq. It told us the truth about the US invasion and occupation of that country. This was no war of defense against a nation threatening us with weapons of mass destruction. This was no liberation of the country. We were not “bringing democracy” to Iraq. No, the release of nearly 400,000 classified US Army field reports showed us in dirty detail that the US attack was a war of aggression, based on lies, where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and injured. We learned that the US military classified anyone they killed in Iraq as “enemy combatants.” We learned that more than 700 Iraqi civilians were killed for “driving too close” to one of the hundreds of US military checkpoints – including pregnant mothers-to-be rushing to the hospital.
We learned that US military personnel routinely handed “detainees” over to Iraqi security forces where they would be tortured and often killed. Ten years after Assange’s brave act of journalism changed the world and exposed one of the crimes of the century, he sits alone in solitary confinement in a UK prison. He sits literally fighting for his life, as if he is successfully extradited to the United States he faces 175 years in a “supermax” prison for committing “espionage” against a country of which he is not a citizen. On the Iraq war we have punished the truth-tellers and rewarded the criminals. People who knowingly lied us into the war like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, the Beltway neocon “experts,” and most of the media, faced neither punishment nor professional shaming for their acts. In fact, they got off scot free and many even prospered.
Julian Assange explained that he published the Iraq War Diaries because he “hoped to correct some of the attack on truth that occurred before the war, and that continued on since that war officially ended.” We used to praise brave journalists not afraid to take on the “bad guys.” Now we torture and imprison them.
Assange 10 years later
“Nearly every war that has started in the past 50 years has been a result of media lies.”
Ten years ago, Wikileaks published the Iraq War Files exposing US war crimes
Yet today Julian Assange is the one being punished while the war criminals are rewarded pic.twitter.com/v11ltYTaJv
— Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo) October 26, 2020
Read it twice, still can’t decide if it’s serious.
The US has cancelled plans to offer Santa Claus performers early access to a coronavirus vaccine in exchange for their help in promoting it publicly. Those who perform as Mrs Claus and elves would also have been eligible for the jabs. The festive collaboration was part of a $250m (£192m) government campaign to garner celebrity endorsements of vaccinations once they are approved. But health authorities confirmed the advertising campaign had been scrapped. Ric Erwin, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, called the news “extremely disappointing.”
“This was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won’t happen,” he told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has since confirmed the existence of the Santa plan to the New York Times. The idea was initially conceived by Michael Caputo, a former assistant secretary at the department. Mr Caputo announced last month that he would be going on leave, shortly after posting a video to Facebook where he accused government scientists of engaging in “sedition” against President Donald Trump.
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The main difference between government bailouts and smoking is that in some rare cases the statement “this is my last cigarette” holds true.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Bed of Procrustes
To become a philosopher, start by walking very slowly.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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