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Politics Is Never Having To Say You"re Sorry: Mayorkas Refuses To Apologize To Del Rio Agents

Politics Is Never Having To Say You're Sorry: Mayorkas Refuses To Apologize To Del Rio Agents Authored by Jonathan Turley, Over two years later, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas finally held a private meeting with the Border Patrol agents that he threw under the bus after they were falsely accused of whipping Haitain migrants near Del Rio, Texas. There was reportedly no apology from Mayorkas. We have discussed how Mayorkas was warned that the allegations were false, but still denounced them. Mayorkas failed to protect the agents even after the President promised that they would be punished before any investigation. Mayorkas joined the chorus of critics in condemning the agents as an example of “systemic racism” in the government. The media went into a frenzy despite a videotape showing that the story was clearly false. A photographer captured the scene, which showed agents using bridle reins to guide their skittish horses. The entire videotape clearly shows the agents using the reins on their mounts, not on the migrants. Not only did the photographer quickly deny seeing any officers whip migrants, the videotape clearly refuted that allegation. However, for many in politics and the media it did not matter because it played into a racial-justice claim of the “whipping (of) Haitian asylum seekers.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) condemned “the inappropriate use of what appear to be whips by Border Patrol officers on horseback to intimidate migrants.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) decried “images of inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants by Border Patrol — including the use of whips.”  Vice President Kamala Harris emoted on “The View” about how the brutality “invoked images of some of the worst moments of our history, where that kind of behavior has been used against the Indigenous people of our country, it has been used against African Americans during times of slavery.” Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) described the incident as “worse than what we witnessed in slavery” and “white supremacist behavior.” President Biden rushed to express his own revulsion and rage, too: “It was horrible what — to see, as you saw — to see people treated like they did: horses nearly running them over and people being strapped. It’s outrageous. I promise you, those people will pay.” At the time, some of us objected that the president had, once again, declared the guilt of accused persons without evidence or investigation. The possible innocence of these officers simply did not matter to the president or to many in the press. Now, with the passage of time, some of us had hoped that Mayorkas would apologize to the agents even if President Biden has refused to do so. He didn’t. The agents after all were just props used by the media and politicians. They do not have families or careers that need to be considered.  They whipped migrants on the water’s edge because the media and politicians needed them to be whipping migrants. Yet, Mayorkas wanted to convey his love for the agents in finally meeting with the men that he previously portrayed as Bull Connor’s on horseback. Fortunately, the global staff of investigative reporters at Res Ipsa was able to find a video of the Secretary meeting with the agents: Tyler Durden Fri, 12/01/2023 - 14:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 1st, 2023

Actually, Joe, All Your "Objectives" Were Failures

Actually, Joe, All Your "Objectives" Were Failures Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via American Greatness, “Name me a single objective we’ve ever set out to accomplish that we’ve failed on. Name me one, in all of our history. Not one!” -President Joe Biden, August 16, 2023 Joe Biden in one of his now accustomed angry “get off my grass” moods dared the press to find just one of his policies/objectives that has not worked. Silence followed. Perhaps it was polite to say nothing, given even the media knows almost every enacted Biden policy has failed. Here is a summation of what he should instead apologize for. Biden in late summer 2021 sought a 20th anniversary celebration of 9/11 and the 2001 subsequent invasion of Afghanistan. He wished to be the landmark president that yanked everyone out of Afghanistan after 20 years in country. But the result was the greatest military humiliation of the United States since the flight from Vietnam in 1975. Consider the ripples of Biden’s disaster. U.S. deterrence was crippled worldwide. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea almost immediately began to bluster or return to their chronic harassment of U.S. and allied ships and planes. We left thousands of allied Afghans to face Taliban retribution, along with some Western contractors. Biden abandoned a $1 billion embassy, and a $300 million remodeled Bagram airbase strategically located not far from China and Russia, and easily defensible. Perhaps $50 billion in U.S. weaponry and supplies were abandoned and now find their way into the international terrorist mart. All our pride flags, our multimillion gender studies programs at Kabul University, and our George Floyd murals did not just come to naught, but were replaced by the Taliban’s anti-homosexual campaigns, burkas, and detestation of any trace of American popular culture. Vladimir Putin sized up the skedaddle. He collated it with Biden’s unhinged quip that he would not get too excited if Putin just staged a “minor” invasion of Ukraine. He remembered Biden’s earlier request to Putin to modulate Russian hacking to exempt a few humanitarian American institutions. Then Russia concluded of our shaky Commander-in-Chief that he either did not care or could do nothing about another Russian invasion. The result so far is more than 500,000 dead and wounded in the war, a Verdun-stand-off along with fortified lines, the steady depletion of our munitions and weapon stocks, and a new China/Russia/Iran/North Korean axis, with wink and nod assistance from NATO Turkey. Biden blew up the Abraham accords, nudged Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States over to the dark side of Iran, China, and Russia. He humiliated the U.S. on the eve of the midterms by callously begging the likes of Iran, Venezuela, Russia, and Saudi Arabia to pump more oil that he had damned as unclean at home and cut back its production. In Bidenomics, instead of producing oil, the president begs autocracies to export it to us at high prices while he drains the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve for short-term political advantage. Biden deliberately alienated Israel by openly interfering in its domestic politics. He pursued the crackpot Iran Deal while his special Iranian envoy was removed for disclosing classified information. No one can explain why Biden ignored the Chinese balloon espionage caper, kept mum about the engineered Covid virus that escaped the Wuhan lab, said not a word about a Chinese biolab discovered in rural California, and had his envoys either bow before Chinese leaders or take their insults in silence—other than he is either cognitively challenged or leveraged by his decade-long grifting partnership with his son Hunter. Yet another Biden’s legacy will be erasing the southern border and with it, U.S. immigration law. Over seven million aliens simply crossed into the U.S. illegally with Biden’s tacit sanction—without audits, background checks, vaccinations, and COVID testing, much less English fluency, skills, or high-school diplomas. Biden’s only immigration accomplishment was to render the entire illegal sanctuary city movement a cruel joke. Given the flood, mostly rich urban and vacation home dwellers made it very clear that while they fully support millions swarming into poor Latino communities of southern Texas and Arizona, they do not want any illegal aliens fouling their carefully cultivated nests. Biden is mum about the 100,000 fentanyl deaths from cartel-imported and Chinese-supplied drugs across his open border. He seems to like the idea that Mexican President Obrador periodically mouths off, ordering his vast expatriate community to vote Democratic and against Trump. Despite all the pseudo-blue collar dissimulation about Old Joe Biden from Scranton, he has little empathy for the working classes. Indeed, he derides them as chumps and dregs, urges miners to learn coding as the world covets their coal, and studiously avoids getting anywhere near the toxic mess in East Palestine, Ohio, or so far the moonscape on Maui. Bidenomics is a synonym for printing up to $6 billion dollars at precisely the time post-Covid consumer demand was soaring, while previously dormant supply chains were months behind rebooting production and transportation. Biden is on track to increase the national debt more than any one-term president. In Biden’s weird logic, if he raised the price of energy, gasoline, and key food staples 20-30 percent since his inauguration without a commensurate rise in wages, and then saw the worst inflation in 40 years occasionally decline from record highs one month to the next, then he “beat inflation.” But the reason why more than 60 percent of the nation has no confidence in Bidenomics is because it destroyed their household budgets. Gas is nearly twice what it was in January 2021. Interest rates have about tripled. Key staple foods are often twice as costly—meat, vegetables, and fruits especially. Biden has ended through his weaponized Attorney General Merrick Garland the age-old American commitment to equal justice under the law. The FBI, DOJ, CIA, and IRS are hopelessly politically compromised. Many of their bureaucrats serve as retrieval agents for lost Biden family incriminating laptops, diaries, and guns. In sum, Biden criminalized opposing political views. Biden has unleashed the administrative state for the first time in history to destroy the Republican primary front runner and his likely opponent. His legacy will be the corruption of U.S. jurisprudence and the obliteration of the American reputation for transparent permanent government that should be always above politics, bribery, and corruption. If in the future, an on-the-make conservative prosecutor in West Virginia, Utah, or Mississippi wishes to make a national name, then he has ample precedent to indict a Democrat President for receiving bad legal advice, questioning the integrity of an election, or using social media to express doubt that the new non-Election-Day balloting was on the up-and-up, or supposedly overvaluing his real estate. The Biden family’s decade-long family grifting will likely expose Joe Biden as the first president in U.S. history who fitted precisely the Constitution’s definition of impeachment and removal—given his “high crimes and misdemeanors” appear “bribery”-related. If further evidence shows he altered U.S. foreign policy in accordance with the wishes from his benefactors in Ukraine, China, or Romania, then he committed constitutionally-defined “treason” as well. Defunding the police, and pandemics of exempted looting, shoplifting, smashing, and grabbing, and carjacking merit no administrative attention. Nor does the ongoing systematic destruction of our blue bicoastal cities, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. All that, along with the disasters in East Palestine or Maui are out of sight, out of mind from a day at the beach at Biden’s mysteriously purchased nearly 6,000 square-foot beachfront mansion. Biden ran on Barack Obama-like 2004 rhetoric (“Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America).” And like Obama, he used that ecumenical sophistry to gain office only to divide further the U.S. No sooner than he was elected, we began hearing from the great unifier eerie screaming harangues about “semi-fascists” and “ultra-MAGA” dangerous zealots, replete with red-and black Phantom of the Opera backdrops. What followed the unifying rhetoric was often amnesties and exemptions for violent offenders during the 120 days of rioting, looting, killing, and attacks on police officers in summer 2020.  In contrast, his administration lied when it alleged that numerous officers had died at the hands of the January 6 rioters. In addition, the Biden administration mandated long-term incarceration of many who committed no illegal act other than acting like buffoons and “illegally parading.” The message was exemptions for torching a federal courthouse, a police precinct, or historic church or attempting to break into the White House grounds to get a president and his family—but long prison terms for wearing cow horns, a fur vest, and trespassing peacefully like a lost fool in the Capitol. Finally, Biden’s most glaring failure was simply being unpresidential. He snaps at reporters, and shouts at importune times. He can no longer read off a big-print teleprompter. Even before a global audience, he cannot kick his lifelong creepy habit of turkey-gobbling on children necks, blowing into their ears and hair of young girls, and squeezing women far too long and far too hard. His frailty redefined American presidential campaigning as basement seclusion and outsourcing propaganda to the media. And his disabilities only intensified during his presidency. Biden begins his day late and quits early. He has recalibrated the presidency as a 5-hour, 3-day a week job. If Trump was the great exaggerator, Biden is our foremost liar. Little in his biography can be fully believed. He lies about everything from his train rides to the death of his son to his relationship with Biden-family foreign collaborators, to vaccinations to the economy. Anytime Biden mentions places visited, miles flown, or rails ridden, he is likely lying. Biden continues with impunity because the media feels that a mentally challenged fabulist is preferrable to Donald Trump and so contextualizes or ignores his falsehoods. Never has a U.S. president fallen and stumbled or gotten lost on stage so frequently—or been a single small trip away from incapacity. So, yes, Biden’s initiatives have succeeded only in the sense of becoming successfully enacted—and therefore nearly destroying the country. Tyler Durden Mon, 08/21/2023 - 18:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytAug 21st, 2023

Misinformation Is A Word We Use To Shut You Up

Misinformation Is A Word We Use To Shut You Up Authored by Daniel Klein via the Brownstone Institute, The policing of “information” is the stuff of Naziism, Stalinism, Maoism, and similar anti-liberal regimes. To repress criticism of their dicta and diktats, anti-liberals label criticism “misinformation” or “disinformation.” Those labels are instruments to crush dissent.  This paper offers an understanding of knowledge as involving three chief facets: information, interpretation, and judgment. Usually, what people argue fervently over is not information, but interpretation and judgment.  What is being labeled and attacked as “misinformation” is not a matter of true or false information, but of true or false knowledge—meaning that disagreement more commonly arises over interpretations and judgments as to which interpretations to take stock in or believe. We make judgments, “good” and “bad,” “wise” and “foolish,” about interpretations, “true” and “false.”  On that understanding, the paper explains that the projects and policies now afoot styled “anti-misinformation” and “anti-disinformation” are dishonest, as it should be obvious to all that those projects and policies would, if advanced honestly, be called something like “anti-falsehood” campaigns. But to prosecute an “anti-falsehood” campaign would make obvious the true nature of what is afoot—an Orwellian boot to stomp on Wrongthink. To support governmental policing of “information” is to confess one’s anti-liberalism and illiberality. The essay offers a spiral diagram to show the three chief facets of knowledge (information, interpretation, and judgment) plus a fourth facet, fact, which also deserves distinct conceptualization, even though the spiral reminds us: Facts are theory-laden. Introduction  Writing at Discourse, published by the Mercatus Center, Martin Gurri describes “disinformation” as follows: The word means, ‘Shut up, peasant.’ It’s a bullet aimed at killing the conversation. It’s loaded with hostility to reason, evidence, debate and all the stuff that makes our democracy great. (Gurri 2023) That is from Gurri’s excellent piece, “Disinformation Is the Word I Use When I Want You to Shut Up.” The piece prompted the present essay, the title of which is a variation on his.  With such titles, Gurri and I are being polemical, of course. Not all usages of “disinformation” and “misinformation” come from people intent on shutting someone up. But a lot are. The “anti-misinformation” and “anti-disinformation” projects now afoot or in effect are about shutting up opponents. In 2019 the Poynter Institute for Media Studies published “A Guide to Anti-misinformation Actions around the World.” There you survey examples of anti-misinformation and anti-disinformation projects and policies, which have no doubt soared further since 2019. The policing of ‘information’ is the stuff of Naziism, Stalinism, Maoism, and similar anti-liberal regimes. In my title “Misinformation Is a Word We Use to Shut You Up,” anti-liberals are the “We.” To repress criticism of their dicta and diktats, they stamp criticism as “misinformation” or “disinformation.” Those stamps are Orwellian tools that anti-liberals wield in the hope of stamping out Wrongthink—for example, on climate, election integrity, the origins of the Covid virus, therapeutics such as Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, the effectiveness of masking, the effectiveness of the Covid injections, the safety of the Covid injections, and the effectiveness of lock-downs. “Anti-misinformation” could be deployed in keeping with whatever the next THE CURRENT THING might be, with associated slogans against, say, China, Putin, Nord Stream, racists, white supremacists, MAGA Republicans, “deniers,” et cetera. And then, of course, there’s all that “misinformation” disseminated by “conspiracy theorists”. In speaking of “policing,” I mean government throwing its weight and its coercion around against “misinformation” or “disinformation.” And, besides government coercion, there are allies. These allies often enjoy monopolistic positions, stemming either from government handouts, privileges, and sweetheart deals, as with broadcasters, universities, and pharmaceutical companies, or from having cornered certain network externalities, as with certain huge media platforms. Allies of various sorts sometimes do the bidding of the despots because they themselves are threatened and intimidated. The ecosystem leads to their debasement.  To support governmental policing of “information” is to confess one’s anti-liberalism and illiberality. Even worse, it is to flaunt them. The motive is to make and signal commitment to anti-liberalism, in a manner parallel to how religious cults sets up rituals and practices for making and signaling commitments (Iannaccone 1992). Vice signals vice, the ticket in some spheres to promotion and advancement.  Also, vicious action spurs more of the same to defend against exposé and accountability for past wrongs. In protecting their rackets, the wrongdoers verge upon a downward spiral. Knowledge’s richness I wrote Knowledge and Coordination: A Liberal Interpretation (Oxford University Press, 2012). The book says knowledge involves three chief facets. Those facets help us see why “misinformation” and “disinformation” are words anti-liberals use to shut people up. The three chief facets are information, interpretation, and judgment:  Information exists within a working interpretation, natural to the context of the matter under discussion.  Interpretation takes us beyond the working interpretation. It opens things up to the marvelous generation and multiplying of interpretations; you now face a portfolio or menu of interpretations, and it is a portfolio that can always grow yet another interpretation.  Judgment is the action facet of knowledge. It is about, first, estimating interpretations and, second, taking stock in certain interpretations you estimate highly. Judgment involves a degree of commitment—belief—which propels you to act on the interpretations you take stock in. If you do not actually act on the interpretation you purport to take stock in, you are a hypocrite and a quack. If you are aware of your hypocrisy, you are a liar; if you are not aware of it, you are in denial, self-deluded. Lying, stubborn denial, self-delusion, and cynicism are features of baseness. When despots label opposition “misinformation” or “disinformation” they abuse language. They invoke presuppositions built into the word information, presuppositions that are false. When despots label opposition “mis-” or “disinformation, they are, at best, objecting in the interpretation and judgment dimensions of knowledge, or, at worst, they are speaking in a way that has abandoned civil engagement altogether, instead using words as instruments of wickedness.  Usually, what people argue fervently over is not information, but interpretations and judgments as to which interpretations to act on. What is being labeled and attacked as “misinformation” is not a matter of true or false information, but of true or false knowledge. The projects and policies now afoot styled “anti-misinformation” and “anti-disinformation” are dishonest, as it should be obvious to all that those projects and policies would, if advanced honestly, be called “anti-falsehood” or “anti-falseness” or “anti-foolishness” or “anti-untruth” campaigns. But to prosecute an “anti-falsehood” campaign would make obvious the true nature of what is afoot: The persecution and silencing of Wrongthink. In misrepresenting matters of interpretation and judgment as one of “misinformation,” they misrepresent the nature of their projects and dodge the responsibility to account for how they judge among vying interpretations.  Within the information dimension of knowledge, variance is resolved in a straightforward manner. Very little interpretative engagement and dialogue are called for. The question of whether a movie is in black-and-white or in color can almost always be readily decided, because we basically share an interpretation of “black-and-white” and “in color,” making the question a matter of information. If interpretative effort is called for, the matter is no longer within the information dimension—is Citizen Kane a better movie than Roman Holiday? Only to be ironic would someone say: Dad misinforms you when he says that Citizen Kane is better than Roman Holiday. The irony there would be in the implied high self-estimation, as the speaker sets up his own aesthetic sensibilities in judging movies as a standard so precise and accurate as to warrant “misinform” when Dad disagrees with that standard. The despots are without irony. They dodge interpretive engagement by labeling dissenting statements “mis-” or “disinformation.” They are simply bullying and intimidating their opponents. We notice that sometimes, as here, announcing BBC Verfiy, the despots use the novel term “mistruth,” which was scarcely ever used prior to a few decades ago (see here). The “mis-” prefix does not well fit on the word truth, which pervades knowledge river-deep, mountain-high. Think of  mistake, misspeak, misremember, misplace, mislay, misquote, misdirect, and so on. The prefix “mis-” is proper when the betterness of a readily identifiable alternative—the accurate quotation, for example—is hardly a matter of dispute. I doubt that much time will be spent by BBC Verify on correcting misquotations. Misinformed by the supermarket clerk I enter a supermarket and ask a clerk where the peanut butter is, and he responds, “Aisle 6.” I go there but don’t find it. I wander about and find it in Aisle 9.  The clerk was mistaken. He gave me false or bad information. The idea Peanut butter is in Aisle 6  is a matter of information, an idea sitting within a set of working interpretations. The working interpretations include those of ordinary human purpose and of ordinary trust and common decency. The clerk and I were not playing a game, nor was it April Fools’ Day. Importantly, the working interpretations include those of plain English—the semantic conventions of “peanut butter,” “6,” the syntactical conventions of English, and so on.  April Fools’ Day tricks depart from working interpretations. The tricks create an unexpected asymmetry between the interpretation of the targeted person—who wishes to add a dash of salt to his soup—and the trickster—who unscrewed the top of the salt shaker. The target interpreted the world as presenting a salt shaker with top screwed on as usual. The trickster relished her anticipation of the victim’s shock and surprise in discovering the faultiness of his interpretation of the world.  Asymmetric interpretation is essential to humor. Another form of humor is the put-on, as when the trickster feigns his own frustrations, and we enter into the asymmetric interpretations of the amused target of the trick, as in these Buster Keaton put-ons from Candid Camera. Likewise, humor often plays upon departures from semantic conventions, as in punning, “Knock, knock” jokes, and “Who’s on First” by Abbot and Costello. A precondition of humor is a certain trust and joint interest in the truths that humor gets at. Without those preconditions, there is no humor. Despotism conceals its designs. It conceals its true beliefs and intentions. By its nature, it abuses working interpretations. Despotism is untrustworthy. Its relationship with ordinary organic interpretation is never playful. That is why despotism is incapable of being humorous. It cannot make a joke, and it cannot take a joke. Adam Smith wrote:  Reserve and concealment…call forth diffidence. We are afraid to follow the man who is going we do not know where. Afraid, we attend the despot with diffidence. Despotism is grim. I take my peanut butter to the check-out line where the same clerk is working, and say, “I found it—but in Aisle 9!,” trying to be humorous as though a joke had been played on me. Being a mere matter of information, the mistake is readily accepted. The clerk responds, “Ah?! Sorry about that!” Unintentional and intentional When one person, Bob, misinforms another, Jim, without realizing that the information is false, the mistake is amendable to ready corrected, without fuss, assuming the falseness is realized by Jim or Bob. Such misinformation events are trifling; we don’t debate them or dwell on them. Misinformation is rather like a typo, corrected by a proof-reader.  Scarcely ever do we speak of the mistake with the five-syllable Latinate word misinformation. Heavy usage of the word misinformation so often occurs in reference to “anti-misinformation” projects, usage either by the perpetrators and cheerleaders of those projects or by those who fend off threats from the perps.  When Bob misinforms Jim intentionally, however, information mistakes are dishonest. They are lies. We dwell on them as lies, not as matters of misinformation. The misinformer is a liar. Some now promulgate the word disinformation.  In distinguishing misinformation from disinformation, Dictionary.com explains “the critical distinction between these confusable words: intent.” Wikipedia says the same. Its entry on Disinformation begins: “Disinformation is false information deliberately spread to deceive people. It should not be confused with misinformation, which is false information but is not deliberate.” According to those sources, then, disinformation is lying. It is false information spread by those who know that it is false information. To disinform is to lie. The distinction based on intent is not sharp. Is the misinformer who does not know that the information he spreads is false but who failed in performing basic due diligence against its falsity a perpetrator of disinformation? His discourse usually carries with it a claim to have done such due diligence, and that claim would be false. And if he knows he has not done due diligence, he is, once again a liar, though the lie is about his having performed due diligence, not about his knowing that the information is false. Out-and-out lying travels with a vast entourage of shabby norms and shabby understandings of the duties of due diligence. Related here would be the large topics of denial, self-deceit, self-delusion, and hypocrisy. (Adam Smith’s treatment of self-deceit is explained here.) The terminus is cynicism, baseness, and miserableness. In ordinary private-sector affairs, outside of politics and outside of heavily governmentalized affairs, lying at the level of information is naturally checked and counteracted. Again, the “information” implies reference to working interpretations. Getting things rights should not be difficult or tricky—issues there are all within the working interpretation. Sure, mistakes are made; but such mistakes are readily and easily corrected.  Liars about information lose the trust of their voluntary associates, whether those voluntary associates are friends, customers, trading partners, or employees. If liars lie about simple features of their products or their services, they could be subject to law suits from their trading partners, to public criticism, and to rival exposé by competitors. In ordinary private-sector affairs, everyone has reputational incentives not to lie systematically, and especially not to lie about information, and most of us have strong moral incentives within ourselves against lying. We dread the disapproval of “the man within the breast”—an expression Adam Smith used for the conscience. So, you might ask: If private actors without government privileges and immunities scarcely spread false information dishonestly and programmatically, is disinformation really a thing? Before addressing that question directly, let’s turn to the Godzilla of programmatic lying. Propaganda: Government’s programmatic lies It is government, especially, that lies programmatically. The lying can be at the level of information, but it usually makes more sense to say that its lying is at the level of interpretation: The government promotes interpretations—for example, The Covid virus came from nature—, interpretations that it, the government, itself does not particularly believe. It lies about the virus having come from nature, as it lies about many other big interpretations. It propagates big lies. And it lies with confidence. Government is the only player in society that initiates coercion in an institutionalized way. Its coercion is overt. What’s more, it does so on a colossal scale. That is the most essential feature of government. Every government is a Godzilla, and we must learn to live with our Godzilla and mitigate the destruction it wreaks. The traditional term for government’s programmatic lying is propaganda—a word that once did not necessarily imply falseness (instead meaning simply ideas propagated), but is now generally used in that necessarily-pejorative sense. The falsehoods of propaganda are typically lies, in that the propagandizers usually do not particularly believe the claims they propagate.  Government can lie programmatically because it does not depend on voluntary participation for its support. It subsists on coercion, including restrictions on competitors and opponents, and takings from taxpayers. Organizations in heavily governmentalized settings can also lie programmatically. Crony private-organizations sustain large programmatic lying only when they enjoy privileges, immunities, and protections from the government.  “Misinformation” and “disinformation” are weapons anti-liberals wield Again, Gurri suggested that, so often, “disinformation” “means, ‘Shut up, peasant.’ It’s a bullet aimed at killing the conversation.” The term “disinformation” scarcely existed before 1980, as shown in Figure 1. The figure contains data through 2019, and it is likely that the recent surge has continued. Source: Google Ngram Viewer link Gilbert Doctorow writes of “the introduction of the word ‘disinformation’ into common parlance.” Doctorow writes: The word “disinformation” has a specific context in time and intent: it is used by the powers that be and by the mainstream media they control to denigrate, marginalize and suppress sources of military, political, economic and other information that might contradict the official government narrative and so dilute the control exercised by those in power over the general population. (Doctorow 2023) Gurri and Doctorow are describing what is now the main way, or at least the most troubling and most terrible way, that “disinformation” is used. It must be noted, however, that the word has also been used simply as a synonym of propaganda—and thus something that governments, too, perpetrate. But, now, “misinformation” and “disinformation” are most conspicuously a propagandistic term used in the manner described by Gurri and Doctorow. In that sense, “disinformation” is not a general synonym for propaganda, but is, rather, a word that propagandists use to smear their opponents. Meanwhile, in fending off this new species of propaganda, honest people, too, resort to using “disinformation,” as a synonym for propaganda, to fling that specific word back onto the propagandists. Doctorow exemplifies what I mean, as he justly writes: In reality, it is these censorious states and the mass media that carry their messages with stenographic precision into print and electronic dissemination who are the ones that day after day feed disinformation to the public. It is cynically composed and consists of a toxic blend of ‘spin,’ by which is meant misleading interpretation of events, and outright lies. (Doctorow 2023) Time again we find ourselves having to use the degraded verbalisms of the anti- liberals to address and combat their abuses. Sometimes it seems like our civilization revolves around trying to keep the anti-liberals from burning down the house. Base humans tend to weaponize things But aren’t governments accountable to checks and balance, divisions of power, and the rule of law? Haven’t we learned to tame Godzilla, to chain down Leviathan?  It is true that the government of a rule-of-law republic, checked by an honest media, might be quite limited in its programmatic lying. But that’s not how it is today, where dissent is being tarred as “mis-” and “disinformation,” and where the legacy media is morally base in the extreme. Today, regimes are increasingly despotic, and despotic regimes are much less checked and limited.  The rule of law means, first and foremost, the government living up to the rules posted on its own website. Governments today don’t do that. Law is applied politically, that is, with extreme partiality, upon a double-standard. Laws are selectively enforced and punishments are selectively meted out. Despots avail themselves of show trials, kangaroo bodies, and galleries filled with stooges. The “anti-misinformation” agenda is misrule. Despotism despoils checks and balances. Despotism centralizes power formerly divided. It destroys the independency and autonomy that, theoretically, branches and units, divided and balanced, had once enjoyed. Despotism usurps powers once distributed and balanced. Despotism is unbalanced power. Under a despotic regime, the coercive institutions unique to government become weaponized by the despots and their allies. They turn them against their opponents. But weaponization is itself always somewhat constrained by cultural norms. The existence of government implies the existence of a governed society, and the existence of society implies the existence of some basic norms, for example against theft, murder, and lying. David Hume famously pointed out that the governed always vastly outnumber the governors, and hence government depends on “opinion”—if only the opinion to acquiesce to those governors: Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular. (Hume, Essays) I wonder whether the shut-them-up projects of Naziism, Stalinism, and Maoism tarred their opponents with labels akin to “misinformation” and “disinformation.” Even National Socialists and Communists gave some lip service to social norms, with their show trials and righteous objections to “the lying press” (Lügenpresse). But did their languages, at those times, have words that corresponded to the English words information, interpretation, and judgment, along the lines of the distinctions made here? (This ngram diagram makes me wonder.) Was their vocabulary for knowledge like that of English, and did they abuse the presuppositions involved in those distinctions the way that “anti-misinformation” projects do today? For help with this question, maybe we should turn to ChatGPT. The contested claims go far beyond information Disagreement usually arises over interpretations and judgments as to which interpretations to take stock in or believe. We make judgments, “good” and “bad,” “wise” and “foolish,” about interpretations, “true” and “false.” Again, “anti-misinformation” projects presuppose the information dimension where such a presupposition is inapt. When despots declare something to be “misinformation,” the discourser—say, John Campbell, Peter McCullough, Robert Malone—does not readily accept the supposed correction, unlike the clerk in the supermarket example. That is quite decisive proof that presuppositions of the information dimension do not apply. The matter is clearly beyond information. The despots tend to invoke certain organizations as the definitive, authoritative sources of “information.” They say, in effect: “The CDC, the WHO, the FDA says the mRNA injections are safe and effective, so anything that suggests otherwise is misinformation.” The farce here is pretending that everyone’s working interpretation consists of the dicta of some such particular organization. Never has an organization or agency had such a Mount-Olympus status for determining, throughout society, working interpretations of complex matters, and particularly not an organization with the foul characters and track-records of the CDC, WHO, FDA, and similar highly governmentalized organizations. The similitude to the Soviet Union under Stalin is obvious.  A big part of the interpretation dimension is the estimation of the wisdom and virtue of those who contend for authority. Government is a Godzilla; it is not a validator of an organization’s wisdom and virtue. To be worth a damn, estimations of wisdom and virtue must emerge from arrangements not heavily governmentalized, liberal arrangements, in society, in science, and in public discourse. We shall look not to Godzilla but to certain among the human beings who check Godzilla.  What the sincere human looks like I wrote above of “quite decisive proof that presuppositions of the information dimension do not apply,” in noting that Peter McCullough does not readily accept the supposed correction. But what if McCullough is a liar? Then it would be no surprise that he does not readily accept the purported correction. What, in other words, about the possibility of disinformation? An insincere disinformationist would stand by his informational statements and persist in misinforming his listeners. What does sincere engagement look like?  Sincere engagement is sincere in the desire to become better aligned with the larger good, which would correspond to a universally benevolent God. The sincere human does not claim to be universally benevolent. He does not even claim to be more benevolent than the average person. But, compared to the average person, the sincere human scrupulously strives to align his conduct with universal benevolence. The sincere human wants to be corrected. He welcomes correction. Sincerity is evident in the human’s openness to engagement. The sincere human welcomes deep-dive conversation, debate, and challenge. He is eager to learn.  If the sincere human rejects a purported correction, he is eager to explain the interpretations and judgments that motivate his rejection of the purported correction. He explains why he rejects it. And he welcomes a response to his explanation. He is agreeable to continuing the engagement. The sincere human wants to sit down, human-to-human, and hash things out. He wants to enter into the mind of his intellectual adversary and see why the adversary says what he says. The sincere human wants to hear about the adversary’s portfolio of possible interpretations. The sincere human is eager to compare the adversary’s portfolio to his own portfolio of interpretations.  In comparing the portfolios, the sincere human may see some interpretations that are not in his own portfolio, and wish to consider those as candidates for incorporation into his own. The sincere human wants to probe their soundness, their worthiness. The sincere human may also see that the adversary’s portfolio lacks certain interpretations that are in his own, and will want to understand why those are lacking from the adversary’s portfolio. By hashing things out, the two prattlers should aim to get the contents of their respective portfolios onto the table, making a larger union of the contents of the two portfolios of possible interpretations. They can then explore together the reasons, or causes, for their difference in how they judge among the possible interpretations. They try to dwell in one another’s mind, sympathetically, to get a feeling for the ways of the other’s judgment. After doing so, each can then make a moment in the other’s judgment into an object up for examination, an object for interpretation and estimation. “But why do you draw that conclusion?”  The sincere human is frank and open about the calls of his own judgment. He invites the other human to ask, “But why do you draw that conclusion?” Adam Smith wrote: “Frankness and openness conciliate confidence.” When two sincere humans disagree, it is as if they say to one another:  We both purport to orient ourselves upward, toward alignment with the good of the whole. We both understand that our thinking must focus on the most important things in the issue at hand. We both look at the same world—our interpretations are, as it were, interpretations of the signals presented to us in the book of nature. And yet we draw different conclusions. Let us explore the sources of that difference, in the hope that as a result there will be an improvement, for the good of the whole, in the joint effect of (your revised outlook and my revised outlook), after your outlook and my outlook have been revised by virtue of our conversation. That is what the sincere human looks like. He is open, frank, and eager to participate in conversation and debate with adversaries. He is eager to sit down and hash things out. He is eager to delve into the fine points, to nail down the details, to respond to challenges, to document the evidence, to continue the conversation. He relishes engagement as a sort of adventure of the mind. He takes joy in argumentation and scholarship, as actualization of the human potentiality for virtue—of serving God, as it were. The sincere human looks like—from what I can tell—Peter McCullough.  I single out Peter McCullough as exemplar simply to single out someone. All of those who are eager to engage adversaries illustrate the most salient feature of the sincere human, and the more that that eagerness fits the rest of my description above, the more sincere that human likely is. The sincere human loves life, and hence loves the most rewarding, most sublime of life’s experiences. For scholars, researchers, thinkers, and indeed for Man Thinking everywhere, as humans in continual discourse about our duties to the good and our dependence on interpreting the book of nature, one of the most rewarding, sublime experiences is the sort of civil engagement described above. The sincere human, then, holds the norms, practices, and institutions that foster and safeguard that sort of civil engagement to be sacred. The sincere human, therefore, is not only a liberal in the pre-political senses of the word, but also in the political sense christened “liberal” around the 1770s by Adam Smith and other Britons. That is the political outlook that best sacralizes the norms, practices, and institutions of sincere engagement.  What the unsincere human looks like We now turn to characters opposite of the sincere human. One would be insincere, but I wonder whether another is the human without either sincerity or insincerity. I will use “unsincere.” The features of the unsincere human are generally the opposite of the just-described ways of the sincere human. The unsincere human is not open. He is averse to sitting and hashing out differences with adversaries. He may issue brief, peremptory messages. He avoids challenges. He ignores criticism. He does not explain. He refuses engagement. The most vicious humans hate to see adversaries finding platforms and channels to challenge their projects; they work to shut them up. Other humans fall in with, or at least stays silent about, the assaults on liberal norms and institutions, such as “anti-misinformation” projects.  The unsincere human is illiberal, and he tends to subserve anti-liberalism, even if he does not himself mouth the slogans of anti-liberalism. Fact I return to elaborating an understanding of knowledge, because I think that getting the understanding across can be useful to sincere efforts to advance the good. (At the end of this paper is a listing of a few philosophers whose thinking my thinking dovetails with.) Again, the chief facets of knowledge are information, interpretation, and judgment. What about fact? Is fact not a facet of knowledge? Consider the saying, Facts are theory-laden, a saying that got started in the 1960s. To relate that saying to my terminology, think of “theory” as interpretation judged worthy or superior. Theory, then, refers to the dimensions of interpretation and of judgment.   Facts are theory-laden is a useful saying, for it reminds us that what one person calls “fact” can be opened up to examination and challenge by another person—or even by the same person, a moment later, after having called it “fact.” The simple truth is that we could, if we had cause to, dig interpretation and judgment out from underneath any of our facts. Facts are theory-laden, but when “we” all embrace the laden theory, we call the statements fact. To call something fact is to declare that the laden theory is not the matter under discussion. Fact, then, is a facet of knowledge, but not a chief one. Fact designates statements that no one among “Us” wishes at all to take issue with. Facts are noncontroversial, at least for the discussion within which they are treated as facts.  A diagram may be helpful. The spiral of knowledge Communication picks up midstream of human experience. We proceed upon working interpretations. “Information” is what we call the facts as seen within the working interpretation.  Figure 2: The spiral of knowledge, with four phases:  fact, information, interpretation, and judgment Source: The author’s creation Figure 2 offers four phases (or facets) of knowledge, shown in each loop of the spiral. “Facts” reside in a more basic interpretive frame—more basic than what I have called “the working interpretation”—in which “factual” statements are presumed acceptable to all parties of the communication. When Jane and Amy “argue over the facts,” they are, as it were, revisiting what is to be treated as factual.  The loops flow one into the next, through time, from outer loops to inner loops. We travel in the clockwise direction. The spiral image on your screen is two-dimensional, but imagine a third. We hope that the spiral winds upward in wisdom and virtue, such that the inner loops are higher than the outer loops.  Suppose we sit down together with a telephone book. We call the ink markings “the facts.” Neither of us thinks to dispute statements about the printed numbers on the pages. We then proceed to talk plainly of them as phone numbers. We often forget this working lens—interpreting the facts as phone numbers—because we see through it.  One of us, however, may propose another interpretation: Might the list of “phone numbers” contain secret knowledge encoded by spies?  Thus, we have multiple interpretations of the ink markings that some understand as “phone numbers.” Those quotation marks signal: what the facts are called when they are seen through the working interpretation. But we may more directly speak of multiple interpretations of the information, as opposed to multiple interpretations of the facts. Thus, rather than interpretively pivoting off the “fact”-level interpretation—that the line reads 678-3554—let’s pivot interpretively off of what I have called “the working interpretation”—that 678-3554 is a phone number—a level up from the factual, and there the pivot then turns to open up the interpretation dimension: “Maybe the phone number is a secret encoded message?” Again, universal acceptance among the “we” is built into “the facts”: None of us disputes that the line says 678-3554. Wherever you want to accommodate interpretive pivoting, move “factual” to somewhere down from there. Meanwhile, life rolls on, and we are called to act. The pitch races toward the plate. If the batter waits for a better interpretation, he may be called out on strikes. Again, the action facet of knowledge is judgment. As speaker, we judge of judgments—of our interlocutors and of agents existing within the descriptions we give of things. We convey our judgments of their judgments using judgmental terms.  If, among our circle of “we,” judgment is shared, then those judgments may now predicate a further conversation among us, and, thusly, those judgments present statements now treated as fact. Thus, we have completed the phases of the spiral and have moved from one loop to the next, where the sequence of phases may recur. Despotic contempt for our circle of “we” Again, what is labeled and attacked as “misinformation” or “disinformation” is not a matter of true or false information, but of true or false knowledge. Recognizing that knowledge, not merely information, is at issue is a matter of common decency.  The dignity of sincere discourse involves an openness, in principle a universal openness, to other human “we’s” and their pursuits upward in wisdom and virtue. As we can see, the chief facets of knowledge—information, interpretation, and judgment—operate both behind and ahead of our current position in the spiral. Trying to shut us up is to show a despotic contempt for our way of weaving through the phases of knowledge. It is contemptuous towards the development of the many loops within which our sense-making has made a home and now operates. By weighing interpretations and making judgments, we establish certain beliefs as fact, to predicate our further conversation. Those beliefs reflect a “we” with those beliefs. Meanwhile, in the wider world, different “we’s” are forming and are addressing the public at large, representing different sets of belief, different ways of making sense of the world. We might call a “we” a distinct sense-making community.  The sincere human of any one of these communities is eager to learn from other communities. The sincere human has certain commitments which make it belong to the sense-making community it belongs to, but it is not wedded to that community. In fact, the entire population of that community—that is, the set of people who currently share that way of sense-making—may remake their community’s way of sense-making. Those who learn from other communities may become leaders of intellectual change within their own community. Thus, sincere humans favor the freedom of speech and the norms of frank and open discourse for all communities. Besides favoring that freedom, they welcome engagement across communities, for all the reasons given earlier. The “anti-misinformation” despots show contempt for communities at odds with their dicta and diktats. Not only are the members of the “anti-misinformation” community unwilling to engage in civil debate, but they promulgate “anti-misinformation” propaganda so as to intimidate their adversaries, to crush dissent.  I have explained that the “misinformation” characterization of the disagreement is false. The anti-liberals are presupposing that it is a matter within the information dimension of knowledge, when clearly the disagreement involves contentions in the interpretation and judgment dimensions. Under pretense of combatting misinformation, they are really just stomping on adversaries. As I said at the outset, it is akin to Naziism, Stalinism, and Maoism, regimes that likewise showed despotic contempt for sense-making communities at odds with their own. “Anti-misinformation” projects are a sham, just as “anti-racism” projects are a sham. A few words about “hate” Just as “anti-misinformation” projects are despotic, so too are “anti-hate-speech” projects. The failure is again one of bad semantics and false presuppositions. “Anti-misinformation” despots tar their opponents with “misinformation,” making an “information” category error based on a false presupposition. “Anti-hate speech” projects tar their opponents with “hate,” again making a category error, for they treat hatred as necessarily hateful—that is, improper. Figure 3 shows the recent onset of “hate speech” and “hate crime.” But hatred is a necessary and organic part of any coherent system of morals. A coherent system of morals holds love and hate to be counterparts to one another. In a coherent system of morals, love is to be felt toward objects that are loveworthy, and hatred is to be felt toward objects that are hateworthy, although the bounds of propriety for the intensity and expression of the two respective feelings are importantly different, as Adam Smith explained (see esp. TMS, Part I, Sect. II, Chaps. 3 & 4 on the “unsocial” and “social” passions).  Moreover, the two respective sets of objects bear a counterpart relation to one another, for that which works systematically against the loveworthy is hateworthy. As Edmund Burke wrote: “They will never love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.” The implicit denial by anti-liberals that hatred is a necessary and organic part of any coherent system of morals is parallel to their implicit denial, in treating interpretive matters as informational matters, that asymmetric interpretation is a necessary and organic part of any coherent society of modern human beings. Just as “mis-” and “disinformation” are words they use to shut you up, “hate speech,” “hate group,” and “hate crime” are words they use to shut you up, ratified by show trials and kangaroo bodies. A proper court of hate would presuppose a distinction between proper hate and improper hate, just hate and unjust hate. In a liberal civilization such “courts” are not governmental. Rather, they remain in the judgment and interpretation of the individual’s own being. If hate is policed in the manner that outward action is policed by governments,  we should feel all the furies of that passion against any person in whose breast we suspected or believed such designs or affections were harboured, though they had never broken out into any actions. Sentiments, thoughts, intentions, would become the objects of punishment; and if the indignation of mankind run as high against them as against actions; if the baseness of the thought which had given birth to no action, seemed in the eyes of the world as much to call aloud for vengeance as the baseness of the action, every court of judicature would become a real inquisition. (Smith, TMS, italics added) Concluding remarks The “anti-misinformation” projects are obvious miscarriages of civility, decency, and the rule of law. We must rediscover the norms of openness, tolerance, and free speech that dignify humankind. Science depends on confidence, and confidence depends on those liberal norms. Those norms are the parents of good science, healthy sense-making, and civil tranquility. There are two roads here, namely: Freedom —> openness —> confidence —> truth-tracking —> dignity;  Despotism —> concealment —> diffidence —> bad science —> serfdom and servility.  Let’s get back to the right road. We must rediscover the norms of openness, tolerance, and free speech that dignify humankind. Science depends on confidence, and confidence depends on those liberal norms. Appendix: Philosophical affinities FWIW: My take on knowledge has affinities to the philosophizing of David Hume, Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, Michael Polanyi, Thomas Kuhn, Iain McGilchrist, and many others. It also has affinities to the pragmatists William James and Richard Rorty, but I regard pragmatism—seeing one’s belief as the product of one’s choosing an idea among alternative ideas, and seeing the chosen idea’s betterness (compared to actual alternatives, not compared to the past or to hypotheticals) as necessarily the chief basis for what one shall count as true—as a phase situated on one side of a spiral, counterposed by, on the other side of the spiral, an alternate phase that we may call Humean natural belief. Humean natural belief is belief that has emerged from depths beyond the loop in which we pass between the two phases; Humean natural belief is, within that loop, not to be treated in terms of choice; it is what we would call, as we dwell within that loop, brute reality. To open such brute reality up to the pragmatist phase would mean acceding to another loop of the spiral. But the spiral is indefinite, with no first (or lower-most) loop and no final (or upper-most) loop, so certain brute realities at some loop or level remain brutish for any finite conversation. And all conversations are finite. Selective References: Burke, Edmund. 2022. Edmund Burke and the Perennial Battle, 1789–1797. Eds. D.B. Klein and D. Pino. CL Press. Link Doctorow, Gilbert. 2023. The Western Media Disinformation Campaign: Fall of Bakhmut, a Case in Point. Gilbert Doctorow website. Link Gurri, Martin. 2023. Disinformation Is the Word I Use When I Want You to Shut Up. Discourse, March 30. Link Hume, David. 1994. Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary. Edited by Eugene F. Miller. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Link Iannaccone, Laurence. 1992. Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives. Journal of Political Economy 100(2): 271–291. Klein, Daniel B. 2012. Knowledge and Coordination: A Liberal Interpretation. Oxford University Press. Link Polanyi, Michael. 1963. The Study of Man. Chicago University Press. Smith, Adam. 1982 [1790]. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Edited by D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie. Oxford University Press/Liberty Fund. Link Daniel Klein is professor of economics and JIN Chair at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he leads a program in Adam Smith. He is also associate fellow at the Ratio Institute (Stockholm), research fellow at the Independent Institute, and chief editor of Econ Journal Watch. Tyler Durden Wed, 06/14/2023 - 23:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 15th, 2023

"I Don’t Want To Do Any Of This": IRS Whistleblower Defies Biden Administration And The Media

"I Don’t Want To Do Any Of This": IRS Whistleblower Defies Biden Administration And The Media Earlier this week, an insider at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) came forward and revealed his identity for the first time after filing an anonymous whistleblower complaint about the agency's handling of an investigation into Hunter Biden. The original whistleblower complaint from Gary Shapley, a 14-year veteran of the agency, was revealed in an April 19 letter to members of Congress. Since then, Shapley and his attorney, Mark D. Lytle, have alleged retaliation. In an interview with CBS News that aired Wednesday night, Shapley identified himself as an IRS supervisory agent, who says he was assigned to an investigation in January 2020 - the subject of which he said he couldn't legally identify due to tax secrecy laws, but which CBS said was the Hunter Biden case. Shapley and his legal team are simply calling it an "ongoing and sensitive investigation of a high-profile, controversial subject." Lytle says his client's disclosures contradict sworn testimony by a "senior political appointee," and involve "failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest." He added that the whistleblower disclosures show "examples of preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols that would normally be followed by career law enforcement professionals in similar circumstances if the subject were not politically connected." According to Shapley, "When I took control of this particular investigation, I immediately saw deviations from the normal process. It was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past." In March, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the U.S. Attorney in Delaware had full discretion in pursuing the Hunter Biden tax investigation and was “not restricted in his investigation in any way.” Shapley, however, has claimed that, in his investigation, “there were multiple steps that were slow-walked—were just completely not done—at the direction of the Department of Justice.” Shapley said he had never experienced “deviations” from the investigative process like those he has seen in this case. “And each and every time it seemed to always benefit the subject,” he said. -Epoch Times Shapley says he decided to file a whistleblower complaint following an Oct. 2022 meeting with federal prosecutors. JUST IN: During an exclusive interview with CBS News, IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley exposed the Department of Justice for interfering in the Hunter Biden criminal investigation. Why is the ‘equal justice under the law’ crowd so quiet right now? “When I took control of this… pic.twitter.com/If9MnTheE3 — Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) May 25, 2023 "It was my red-line meeting," he said. "I don’t want to do any of this. I took an oath of office and when I saw the egregiousness of some of these things, it no longer became a choice for me," he told CBS News. "It’s not something that I want to do. It’s something I feel like I have to do." A lawyer for an IRS supervisor sent a letter to lawmakers asking for whistleblower protection, writing his client has information suggesting an investigation is being influenced by "preferential treatment and politics." CBS News has learned it's the Hunter Biden tax investigation pic.twitter.com/1PTQ5H1K0V — CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) April 19, 2023 As Jonathan Turley notes, Shapley has every reason not to want to do any of this. After all, as President Joe Biden stated last year, “No one f–ks with a Biden.” For years, a Democrat-controlled Congress refused to investigate Biden family influence-peddling, and the press dismissed people raising Hunter’s laptop as spreading “Russian disinformation.” The media have worked hard to minimize the blowback after acknowledging the laptop’s authenticity and the growing evidence of millions in influence-peddling. Part of this effort at “scandal implosion” has been to dismiss any criminal charges as relatively minor tax violations unconnected to the president. Indeed, when the president recently agreed to a rare sit-down interview, the White House chose MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle. Before asking about his son Hunter’s scandal, Ruhle emphasized it was “something personal” with “no ties to you.” Many of us guffawed at the claim given multiple references on the laptop to President Biden, including possibly sharing in the proceeds from influence-peddling with foreign governments. The problem is Shapley suggests some uncomfortable questions on how Biden’s administration may have worked to minimize charges against his son and, according to Shapley, “slow-walked” the investigation. His interview explains why the Justice Department can indict figures like Rep. George Santos (R-NY) on a variety of fraud and money-laundering charges in a few months while spending years investigating Hunter Biden with no conclusion. “When I took control of this particular investigation, I immediately saw…it was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past.” — 14-year IRS veteran Gary Shapley, represented by Empower Oversight pic.twitter.com/bgulfsmaGu — Empower Oversight (@EMPOWR_us) May 25, 2023 Shapley made clear he had never seen this level of interference in his long service at the IRS and said it was done “at the direction of the Department of Justice.” And he said the interference began as soon as he “took control of this particular investigation”: “I immediately saw deviations from the normal process. It was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past.” Shapley did not rush forward or leak to the media. Rather, after watching decision after decision made to benefit Biden, Shapley reached a breaking point in what he called his “red-line meeting” when he and his team were removed from investigating the president’s son. The interference came from a familiar source. The Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland has been criticized for his refusal to appoint a special counsel to investigate the expanding allegations of Biden family influence-peddling — which include possible criminal charges from bribery to tax violations to money-laundering. The laptop included references to Joe Biden getting a 10% cut of one Chinese deal. Biden associates are warned not to use Joe Biden’s name but to employ code names like “the Big Guy.” At the same time, the president and first lady are said to have benefited from public office and received payments from Hunter. The emails also contradict the president’s repeated public declaration that he had no knowledge of his son’s foreign dealings — including by photos with his business associates and an actual audio tape referring to the deals. Garland refuses to appoint a special counsel who would then have the ability to write a report on the alleged massive influence-peddling operations the Bidens run. It is all part of the “incredible shrinking Merrick Garland,” who promised to prevent any political influence over his department. We now have multiple whistleblowers alleging interference from the Justice Department to slow-walk investigations or shield the president’s son. We also have questions raised by IRS agents’ visit to the home of Matt Taibbi, who helped expose the government-Twitter censorship program. They appeared on the very day Taibbi appeared before Congress and was attacked by Democratic members as a “so-called journalist.” (The subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Delaware Stacey Plaskett, later called for Taibbi’s possible arrest.) The IRS opened its probe of him on a Saturday — Christmas Eve last year, just weeks after his exposé. With the GOP controlling the House, there will now be congressional investigation and oversight into these allegations. But Shapley and other whistleblowers will soon learn that when it comes to many in the media and Congress, they also “don’t want to do any of this.” Jonathan Turley is an attorney and a professor at George Washington University Law School. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 10:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 26th, 2023

Chicago Dad Who Spoke Out Against Porn In Schools Faces Extra Security Screening En Route To CPAC

Chicago Dad Who Spoke Out Against Porn In Schools Faces Extra Security Screening En Route To CPAC Authored by Joseph Lord via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), A Chicago dad who found himself on a watchlist after opposing pornographic content in his kids’ school says he faced further harassment this weekend from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the way to and from the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in Maryland. Terry Newsome, a Chicago dad who found himself placed on a watch list by federal law enforcement, speaks during Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2022. (Courtesy of Terry Newsome) Terry Newsome of Chicago, found out in December 2022 that he had been placed on a terror watch list when he tried to fly from O’Hare Airport to Phoenix. On March 1, Newsome attempted to fly to Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport and learned that, despite positive signs to the contrary, his name remained on the watch list. Though he is still permitted to fly, having his name on the list—which federal law enforcement agencies have not explained—means invasive and embarrassing extra screening for Newsome. In spite of his efforts to have his name removed from the list, Newsome continues to wrangle with the labyrinthian bureaucracies of the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and TSA. Ongoing Battle With Cancer Since learning that he had been placed on the list, Newsome has worked incessantly to restore his good name even as he was undergoing “brutal” radiation therapy for stage four cancer. “A week and a half ago, I finished like seven weeks of intense radiation five days a week,” Newsome told the Epoch Times in an interview. The treatment left his immune system weakened and left him fatigued, he said, adding that he was worried about flying with his immune system so compromised by the radiation therapy. “I really shouldn’t have went anywhere because my immune system is pummeled from the radiation, right?” Newsome said. Despite his usual opposition to masks—quipping “I’m a Republican” to explain—Newsome said he took precautions and wore a mask on the plane to protect his health. Though the journey made him nervous, Newsome said he felt he had to go to CPAC as part of his ongoing mission to clear his name. Thus, despite his weakened state—and defying his family’s wishes that he not go—Newsome boarded a plane to Washington last week to attend CPAC, where he hoped to find more assistance with his TSA problem. Invasive Screening On his arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare on March 1, Newsome learned that his ticket still carried the “quad-S” (SSSS) designation, despite his being a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pre-check-approved flier for over a decade before. Earlier, the TSA had responded to a query by Newsome, indicating at the time that he would go through “standard screening protocol” moving forward. In addition to much more rigorous screening of bags, SSSS fliers are typically on the receiving end of a full-body pat down. They also have their hands (and sometimes, according to some reports) their feet swabbed to check for explosives. A photo of Terry Newsome’s boarding pass, marked with the “quad-S” classification, as he tried to board his flight out of Washington on March 4. (Photo courtesy of Terry Newsome) Just how invasive this search can be depends on circumstances, but fliers with the SSSS designation can also expect to be prodded on questions like whether they packed their own bag, where they’re headed, why they’re going there, and so on. Newsome said that the specifics of SSSS screening are minor on their own, but that the inconveniences add up. On Feb. 28, 24 hours before his flight was due to take off, Newsome attempted to check in for his flight on the American Airlines app. As an American Platinum Flier, Newsome is entitled to several cushy benefits, including the chance for his seat to be bumped up to first class depending on availability. When he tried to check in, however, Newsome realized he couldn’t—the first indication that his flight status had not been resolved. Upon arriving at the airport on March 1, Newsome found that he was still having trouble printing his ticket. As it happened in December, he was required to get federal approval before the airline could print his ticket. “For me, it’s not like I’m just an enhanced security whatever else it is,” Newsome said. “I can’t even—not only can I not enhance [my ticket], I can’t even get a boarding pass until there’s somebody from the government to give American Airlines the approval to print the ticket.” Realizing that he was still on the list, Newsome decided simply to check his bag in order to avoid the embarrassment of having all his clothing, medicines, and personal items taken out of his bag in front of everyone. After checking his bag and receiving his ticket, Newsome proceeded to the TSA checkpoint. When TSA agents began going through the line examining other fliers’ boarding passes, Newsome knew they were looking for him and told the TSA agents as much. At that point, he was pulled from the line and brought to an empty line for enhanced screening. Newsome described his experience, citing how embarrassing the extra screening was even knowing he had done nothing wrong. “They stopped the whole line,” Newsome said. “They actually made everybody get out … And they had supervisors come and took me through the enhanced screening. All these people were watching.” Newsome and his bag were brought through a metal detector and X-ray scanner, as is the norm for most fliers. However, they required much more of Newsome: “I had to take off my shoes. Then they take my bags and everything else and I stand there while they go through everything.” Newsome also had his crotch area patted down in view of other fliers. Newsome added later, “They swabbed everything for bombs.” Just 30 minutes later, a similar scene played out as Newsome was trying to board his flight. The TSA announced over a loudspeaker near his gate that they would be checking everyone’s passports, IDs, and boarding passes before they could get on the plane. At the same moment, several TSA agents, joined by what appeared to be an undercover agent wearing sunglasses and coordinating security procedures with the TSA agents, began screening all boarders’ documents. Several TSA agents crowd around Terry Newsome’s gate as he tries to board a flight at O’Hare International Airport on March 1. (Photo courtesy of Terry Newsome) “I just knew it was for me,” Newsome said. Thus, he drew attention to himself, telling a TSA agent, “It’s me, I’m the quad-S.” Newsome was pulled out of line at this point for further screening. Depriving him of yet another American Airline Platinum Flier benefit, Newsome was the last person to board; his ticket entitled him to be in the second group of boarders. Newsome said this was even more embarrassing for him than the first screening, as that could have been written off as a standard random search. ‘Anti-Porn, Not Anti-Gay’ Earlier, Newsome had been politically active in his school district after learning about sexually explicit images in a book at his children’s school library—activities which Newsome believes may be responsible for his placement on the list in the first place. Newsome had never been involved in school board meetings or politics until mid-2021, when he attended a district school board meeting after his then-eighth-grade son came home and said his teacher had told him that “there is no American dream.” Newsome, a descendant of Italian immigrants who himself had lived the American dream, was shocked to hear that. He called his children’s principal to discuss the issue, and suspected that these issues would only get worse when his kids, fraternal twins, got to high school. In July 2021, Newsome attended his first school board meeting at Downers Grove’s Community High School. Terry Newsome, dressed in Downers Grove South High School spirit wear, sits in the school auditorium where he spoke up about the book “Gender Queer” on Dec. 13, 2021. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times) Newsome immediately began a crusade on several hot-button topics, ranging from mask mandates to critical race theory, becoming the unofficial spokesman for several concerned mothers who were more hesitant to speak out. “The moms are so happy to have an aggressive, type-A-personality father to join them. They had mostly fought this battle alone, against the giant system of public schools,” Newsome told The Epoch Times. Newsome’s most controversial activism came with his opposition to the book “Gender Queer” by Mia Kobabe, a book containing sexually explicit images that teaches children about oral sex and controversial notions of gender identity. Selections from the book show a biological female adolescent struggling over her “gender identity.” The girl is also depicted wearing a device known as a “binder,” a tight-fitting brassiere-like garment meant to reduce breast size. At some points in the book, the girl is shown engaging in oral sex with another biological female identifying as male. Newsome’s opposition to the book led to his receiving a litany of ad hominem attacks from left-wing agitators in the Chicago area. However, he has insisted throughout his activist work that he and other parents are “anti-porn, not anti-gay or homophobic.” Newsome has coordinated events in his area with Gays Against Groomers, an organization made up of homosexual and transsexual people who have been outspoken against inundating minors with gender ideology. After Newsome began speaking out against the book and the left-wing ideology that had inundated his children’s schools, he began facing attacks from all corners, ranging from threats by Antifa to opposition by Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.). Two days after the publication of an Epoch Times article about his activism, Newsome found threatening messages against him on a locally run Twitter account called Antifascist Rumor Mill. “Action items announced soon in regard to Terry Newsome—time to Drop Pops and his hateful agenda,” the tweet read, referencing Newsome’s nickname “Pops.” “Terry trying to make a name for himself, look at his stupid face in the Epoch Times, the extreme #disinformation rag that echoed all the lies, the Big Lie, the ‘Plandemic’ lie, etc.,” said another tweet from the account. Newsome told The Epoch Times that many of those who have spoken against him and threatened him, including members of the school board, are in league with Casten. “The school board and the superintendent are all controlled by radical, radical leftists … that are very vocal in the Downers Grove Community and all supportive of Sean Casten,” Newsome said. “So anybody that speaks out with a different opinion is brutally attacked on social media and called racist, homophobic, and so forth, no matter the truth.” “To make a point, I’ve said it from the very beginning, through now: Me and the other parents are not anti-gay or homophobic—we’re anti-porn,” Newsome said. Judith Rose, communications director for the group “Gays Against Groomers,” told the Epoch Times that opposing gender ideology being imposed on children is not homophobic or bigoted. A Gays Against Groomers van parked is for an event in Anaheim, California. (Courtesy of Gays Against Groomers) Rose explained that the goal of the organization, a group made up of gay and transgender people, is to protect children from sexual content. “Our goals involve getting legislation put in place to make education more appropriate for children to keep adult material away from children [and] to classify drag shows like a burlesque or strip club type situation where they have to be away from children,” Rose explained. Asked about Newsome’s situation, Rose called it “heartbreaking.” “I think it’s really heartbreaking, that there’s this wedge being formed between parents and schools,” she said. “And I just think it’s awful what’s happening, trying to classify parents as terrorists for standing up for how they want their kids to be raised or educated. Sometimes it’s not always an option to homeschool your kids.” Rose argued that the gender push on children was also bad for LGBT adults, saying “it creates an even bigger wedge between our community and people who don’t necessarily approve of us,” Rose said. “I respect their beliefs; I understand. “However, I really wish that more people could see that it’s time to put our differences aside for the children—Gays Against Groomers represents a part of the LGBT community that understands not everyone is going to accept us or wants to accept us. They have their religious beliefs, whatever it is. We respect that,” she said. Rose continued, “We don’t want kids to be raised in an environment where they’re heavily saturated with ‘queer ideology’ or ‘queer culture.’ And every parent deserves the right to know what’s going on with their children.” “We have people on the far left and people on the far right who don’t like us. We’re trying to find that middle ground—that’s really all we want to do,” she stated. “At the end of the day, it’s about the kids: it’s not about us, or our feelings or our identities even. It’s about making a safe environment for children.” Jan. 6 Rally Some of Newsome’s critics have in the past pointed out that he was present at the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally. Newsome candidly admits that he attended the rally, but said he had no bad intentions and broke no laws that day. “I went to January 6, with my friend, a retired police officer,” Newsome said. According to Newsome, the FBI previously investigated his friend who attended the event, a retired Cook County police officer, and had cleared him of any wrongdoing. The officer, who asked that his name be excluded from the story, has been Newsome’s friend for decades. Asked whether he had observed Newsome committing any act that could be construed as a crime, he quickly said he had not, and that the two were together “100 percent of the time” in DC. Additionally, Newsome was undergoing immunotherapy for cancer at the time, leaving him in a weakened state. The day before, Newsome noted, “I had been on the IV for my cancer.” While, at the time, Newsome was undergoing immunotherapy rather than radiation treatments, he was nevertheless weakened by the treatments. He said at one point he felt so exhausted he had to lie down on the sidewalk for a few minutes before he could continue to the rally. Newsome and his friend said their only reason for attending the rally was to hear President Donald Trump speak and to ensure people were safe. “We went down there for two things, one to see our president speak. Two, because we’re both still big guys even though we’re older,” Newsome said. “We saw in November, December, families, parents overly attacked by Antifa [and] BLM in front of their hotels.” Newsome said he had left by the time order broke down at the rally. As proof, he provided time-stamped photos. Newsome’s companion backed up his story: “When the alleged insurrection happened we were already gone,” he said. “We were halfway to our hotel, which was approximately three quarters to a mile away. Halfway during the course of our walk, we saw a bunch of squad cars, lights and sirens on, going in the direction of the Capitol.” It was not until after the two men returned to their hotel that they learned about the Capitol breach, they said. Newsome’s photos and time stamps from that day show that he did not trespass on Capitol grounds and was gone before the breach ensued. Newsome said that he and his friend would not have attended the rally if they had known about the bad intentions some had that day. “It’s not a crime to have been in DC on Jan. 6, whatever the Nancy Pelosis and Liz Cheneys would like you to believe,” Ed Martin, a top attorney for Jan. 6 defendants, told the Epoch Times. “The American people are so disgusted by this stuff.” “If anyone that was there in Washington on Jan. 6 committed a crime in so doing, that’s a mockery of what America’s about. That’s not the standard and that’s not America.” Ambivalent Replies Newsome has gotten lukewarm or ambivalent replies, or none, from the federal agencies with which he has discussed the issue. Following his experience in December, Newsome sent a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to the FBI, seeking more information about his newly discovered status as an alleged terror risk. The FBI refused to discuss details with Newsome. The FBI letter Newsome received in response to his request, says in part: “The U.S. Government can neither confirm nor deny whether a particular person is on any terrorist watch list. Maintaining the confidentiality of government watch lists is necessary to achieve the objectives of the U.S. Government, as well as to protect the privacy of individuals who may be on a watch list for a limited time and later removed. If the U.S. Government revealed who was listed on any government watch list, terrorists would be able to take actions to avoid detection by government authorities. Thus, the FBI neither confirms nor denies the existence of your subject’s name on any watch lists pursuant to FOIA exemption.” Because the federal government refuses to so much as acknowledge that Newsome has been placed on a list, it is unclear why Newsome’s name was flagged for enhanced screening. Newsome told the Epoch Times that he thinks the addition of his name to the list may be in response to his past political activities. In their response to an Epoch Times inquiry about Newsome, the FBI’s press office insisted that the agency does not open investigations solely on the grounds of protected First Amendment activity. “The FBI can never open an investigation based solely on protected First Amendment activity,” the agency wrote. Told about this reply, Martin immediately pointed out the key word in that reply: “solely.” “The wiggle word is ‘solely,’ so that means they have to say something else,” Martin explained. “So it’s not solely because you asked about the pornography, it’s because you got a speeding ticket when you were 18 that wasn’t resolved, or because you were in January 6. “So it’s not ‘solely’—[the FBI is saying they] would never do it solely on constitutionally-protected grounds,” Martin said, adding that the FBI had effectively named itself “the judge of what adds up to something dramatic.” The FBI reply continued: “We cannot and do not investigate ideology. We focus on individuals who commit or intend to commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security.” After hearing this reply, Martin made another observation of what he called a “wiggle” phrase: “intend to commit.” “[The FBI is] saying here that they’re gonna read minds, and they’re gonna tell us who is intending to commit a crime,” Martin said. “They didn’t say ‘a propensity for crime.’ At least with a ‘propensity’ you can look at some factors—if you have a previous conviction, if you have were arrested multiple times, and others—so with the word ‘propensity’ you can at least make an argument. “They’re gonna be the mind readers? They’re gonna read the minds of the American people? That’s insanity,” Martin ruled. The spokesperson expressly refused to answer questions relating to the process of placing someone on a watch list, including questions about oversight of the FBI’s ability to place Americans on flight watch lists. “It’s just stupid, ya know?” Newsome said of the reply. “Clearly I already know I’m on the list, that’s why I’m writing to you.” Additionally, Newsome also reached out to the TSA. In his query, Newsome requested information and tried to get back on the TSA pre-check list. In its reply, the TSA said he was no longer eligible for its pre-check list, but suggested that Newsome would no longer be subject to enhanced screening. Newsome thought after receiving the letter that he had been removed from the list before his most recent flight. “As a result of recurrent checks and based on a comprehensive background check, TSA was unable to determine that you pose a sufficiently low risk to transportation and national security to continue to be eligible for expedited airport security screening through the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program,” the reply said. “As a result, TSA has determined that you are no longer eligible to participate in the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program. “This eligibility determination for the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program is within the sole discretion of TSA,” the letter added. “Although you have been found ineligible to continue your participation in the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program, you will continue to be screened at airport security checkpoints according to TSA standard screening protocols.” Told about these replies, Martin sighed, “The bureaucrats will all say ‘It’s not me, it’s not me.’ At this point do we even know who has the oversight for this? Part of the problem with this government is now, when an official says ‘I’m not in charge of that,’ we can’t believe it.” Newsome has been in contact with other legal and political figures as well, and remains committed to clearing his name. Tyler Durden Tue, 03/07/2023 - 22:45.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMar 8th, 2023

Chicago Dad Placed On Watchlist After Opposing Pornography In Schools

Chicago Dad Placed On Watchlist After Opposing Pornography In Schools Authored by Joseph Lord via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), A Chicago father has learned that he has been placed on a flight watchlist after opposing pornographic materials in his kids’ schools. Terry Newsome, a Chicago dad who found himself placed on a watchlist by federal law enforcement, speaks during Turning Point USA's AmericaFest 2022. (Courtesy of Terry Newsome) Over the summer of 2021, Terry Newsome—who described himself in comments to the Epoch Times as a “lifelong Democrat” until recently—was one of several parents in the 99th school district of Downer’s Grove, Chicago, who expressed opposition to books in his children’s library that had sexually explicit and pornographic content. In December, Newsome discovered he had been placed on a watchlist. On Dec. 16, 2022, he and his family attempted to board a plane en route to Turning Point USA’s “America Fest” convention in Phoenix, Arizona. Newsome, who travels a great deal for work, was shocked to learn that he had been placed on a watchlist and had to get substantially more screening before being allowed to board, causing him to miss his original flight. Initially, Newsome was told that he had been placed on the list by the FBI. On his return journey from Phoenix, he was informed that the classification originated from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Despite having been a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pre-check-approved flier for over a decade, upon his family’s arrival at O’Hare International Airport, Newsome learned about the new designation. Upon arriving at the airport, Newsome’s family found that they “couldn’t check in electronically like we normally did.” Initially, Newsome and his wife just chalked it up to the fact that they had minors traveling with them that were not their children. It was only later that Newsome learned he had been given the dreaded “quad-S” designation on his ticket, an acronym standing for Secondary Security Screening Selection (SSSS). Compared to the normal security guidelines for boarding, those with boarding passes marked SSSS must get far more screening. SSSS boarding pass holders are traditionally removed from the line and brought elsewhere for additional screening. This screening is nothing if not thorough—passengers are asked to remove all items from their bags, which are then examined individually while the bag is thoroughly searched. Terry Newsome, dressed in a Downers Grove South High School spirit wear, sits in the school auditorium where he spoke up about Gender Queer last month, on Dec. 13, 2021. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times) In addition to much stricter screening of bags, SSSS fliers are typically on the receiving end of a full-body pat down. They also have their hands (and sometimes, according to some reports) their feet swabbed to check for explosives. Just how invasive this search can be depends on circumstances, but fliers with the SSSS designation can also expect to be prodded on questions like if they packed their own bag, where they’re headed, why they’re going there, and so on. When he got to the airport, Newsome had no idea that he had been flagged with the SSSS designation. He first realized that something was amiss at the ticket desk, where he was told by the clerk that she couldn’t print his boarding pass. The issue was taking so long that Newsome told his family, who had already received their boarding passes, to go ahead without him. They did, but were pulled out of the line for additional screening. Newsome hurried over to the TSA desk when he saw this to learn what was going on. It was then that Newsome was told he had been flagged as a potential security threat. However, both he and the TSA staff, Newsome reported, assumed that the designation was an error and that the system had confused Newsome with someone else who shared his name. After the additional screening, Newsome finally got to the gate, where he was denied access to his flight because the extra screening had caused them to be late. Newsome’s family also failed to get on the flight due to the extra screening. At that point, Newsome was finally told what was going on when an airport employee told them, “Somebody put you on a list with some real bad people.” After missing their first flight, Newsome was able to find another flight for himself and his family. But before he could board, the airline had to get approval from the FBI for him to fly. The approval came through at the last moment, and Newsome’s family was finally able to start their trip to Phoenix. Newsome was the last person to board his plane. The same scene played out on the return journey, when Newsome learned he had been placed on the list by the DOJ. FBI Dismisses FOIA Request Following these experiences, Newsome sent a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to the FBI, seeking more information about his newly discovered status as an alleged terror risk. The FBI refused to discuss details with Newsome. In the letter he received replying to his request, the FBI wrote in part: “The U.S. Government can neither confirm nor deny whether a particular person is on any terrorist watch list. Maintaining the confidentiality of government watch lists is necessary to achieve the objectives of the U.S. Government, as well as to protect the privacy of individuals who may be on a watch list for a limited time and later removed. If the U.S. Government revealed who was listed on any government watch list, terrorists would be able to take actions to avoid detection by government authorities. Thus, the FBI neither confirms nor denies the existence of your subject’s name on any watch lists pursuant to FOIA exemption.” Because the federal government refuses to so much as acknowledge that Newsome has been placed on a list, it is unclear why Newsome’s name was flagged for enhanced screening. Newsome told the Epoch Times that he thinks the addition of his name to the list is in response to his past political activities. In their response to an Epoch Times inquiry about Newsome, the FBI’s press office insisted that the agency does not open investigations solely on the grounds of protected First Amendment activity. “The FBI can never open an investigation based solely on protected First Amendment activity,” the agency wrote. “We cannot and do not investigate ideology. We focus on individuals who commit or intend to commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security.” The spokesperson expressly refused to answer questions relating to the process of placing someone on a watchlist, including questions about oversight of the FBI’s ability to place Americans on flight watchlists. Additionally, Newsome also reached out to the TSA. In his query, Newsome requested information and attempted to be placed back on the TSA pre-check list. In its reply, the TSA said he was no longer eligible for its pre-check list, but suggested that Newsome would no longer be subject to enhanced screening. Newsome remains uncertain about his flight status. “As a result of recurrent checks and based on a comprehensive background check, TSA was unable to determine that you pose a sufficiently low risk to transportation and national security to continue to be eligible for expedited airport security screening through the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program,” the reply said. “As a result, TSA has determined that you are no longer eligible to participate in the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program. “This eligibility determination for the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program is within the sole discretion of TSA,” the letter added. “Although you have been found ineligible to continue your participation in the TSA Pre-[Check] Application Program, you will continue to be screened at airport security checkpoints according to TSA standard screening protocols.” Opposition to Porn in School Library Newsome had never been involved in school board meetings or politics until mid-2021, when he attended a district school board meeting after his then-eighth-grade son came home reporting that his teacher had told him that “there is no American dream.” Newsome, a descendant of European immigrants who had lived the American dream, was shocked to hear that. He called his children’s principal to discuss the issue, and suspected that these issues would only get worse when his kids, fraternal twins, got to high school. In July 2021, Newsome attended his first school board meeting at Downers Grove’s Community High School (District 99). Newsome immediately began a crusade on several hot-button topics, ranging from mask mandates to critical race theory, becoming the unofficial spokesman for several concerned mothers who were more hesitant to speak out. “The moms are so happy to have an aggressive, type-A-personality father to join them. They had mostly fought this battle alone, against the giant system of public schools,” Newsome told The Epoch Times. Newsome’s most controversial activism came with his opposition to the book “Gender Queer” by Mia Kobabe, a book containing sexually explicit images that teaches children about oral sex and controversial notions of gender identity. After Newsome began speaking out against the book and the left-wing ideology that had inundated his children’s schools, he began facing attacks from all corners, ranging from threats by Antifa to opposition by Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.). Two days after the publication of an Epoch Times article about his activism, Newsome found threatening messages against him on a locally run Twitter account called Antifascist Rumor Mill. “Action items announced soon in regard to Terry Newsome—time to Drop Pops and his hateful agenda,” the tweet read, referencing Newsome’s nickname “Pops.” “Terry trying to make a name for himself, look at his stupid face in the Epoch Times, the extreme #disinformation rag that echoed all the lies, the Big Lie, the ‘Plandemic’ lie, etc.,” another tweet from the account said. Newsome told The Epoch Times that many of those who have spoken against him and threatened him, including members of the school board, are in close league with Rep. Casten. “The school board and the superintendent are all controlled by radical, radical leftists … that are very vocal in the Downers Grove Community and all supportive of Sean Casten,” Newsome said. “So anybody that speaks out with a different opinion is brutally attacked on social media and called racist, homophobic, and so forth, no matter the truth.” “To make a point, I’ve said it from the very beginning, through now: me and the other parents are not anti-gay or homophobic—we’re anti-porn,” Newsome said. January 6 Rally Some of Newsome’s critics have in the past pointed out that Newsome was present at the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally. Newsome candidly admits that he attended the rally, but said that he had no bad intentions and broke no laws that day. “I went to January 6, with my friend, a retired police officer,” Newsome said. According to Newsome, the FBI previously investigated his friend who attended the event, retired officer Rob Waller, and had cleared him of any wrongdoing. Aside from an old Civil War-era sword, Newsome does not possess any weapons and was unarmed at the event. Additionally, Newsome was undergoing immunotherapy for cancer at the time, leaving him in a weakened state. Newsome said his only reason for attending the rally was to hear President Donald Trump speak and to ensure people were safe. “We went down there for two things, one to see our president speak. Two, because we’re both still big guys even though we’re older,” Newsome said. “We saw in November, December, families, parents overly attacked by Antifa [and] BLM in front of their hotels.” Newsome said he had left by the time order broke down at the rally, which he vindicated by providing time-stamped photos. Newsome’s photos and time stamps from that day show that he did not trespass on Capitol grounds and was gone before the Capitol breach began. Concerns of ‘Weaponization’ Of DOJ Newsome’s story comes amid concerns over the weaponization of the DOJ. In November, House Republicans unveiled a 1,050-page report detailing whistleblower findings. Since then, the party has authorized the creation of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which held its inaugural hearing on Feb. 9. In his opening remarks, Weaponization Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) read out a litany of findings from whistleblower testimony. For instance, on Nov. 18, 2021, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee were told that the FBI had created a “threat tag” for parents voicing their concerns at school board meetings. In May 2022, another whistleblower revealed that dozens of parents designated with a “threat tag” were being investigated by the agency. The same whistleblower said that the leadership of the FBI is “rotted at its core.” Following this, that whistleblower had his security clearance revoked and was suspended from the FBI.   In April 2022, another whistleblower told Republicans that FBI agents “were being run out of the bureau” for attending conservative political events while off duty. Jordan also cited whistleblower testimony previously included in the whistleblower report that claimed that the FBI had manufactured domestic violent extremism events (DVEs) to hit “self-created performance metrics.” Additional testimony in September 2022 revealed that Jan. 6 case files had been altered to make it appear that DVEs were on the rise, as Democrats and President Joe Biden have long claimed. The agent was later suspended. In September 2022, yet another whistleblower revealed to Republicans that the FBI views the Betsy Ross flag, the original design of the American flag with 13 stars, “as a terrorist symbol.” Additional testimony found that the FBI accepts personal data on users from Facebook “without the user’s consent.” Cara Ding contributed to this report.  Tyler Durden Wed, 02/15/2023 - 17:05.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytFeb 15th, 2023

Exclusive: Inside the extramarital affair and cash-fueled double life of Charles McGonigal, the FBI spy hunter charged with taking Russian money

"Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law enforcement world," his ex-lover told Insider. "He fooled them all." Charles F. McGonigal, who held one of the FBI's most sensitive positions, now faces criminal charges for his alleged ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch.Michael M. Santiago, Frédéric Soltan, Kirill Kudryavtsev/GettyImages; Arif Qazi/Insider;One morning in October 2017, Allison Guerriero noticed something unusual on the floor of her boyfriend's Park Slope, Brooklyn, apartment: a bag full of cash. There it was, lying next to his shoes, near the futon, the kind of bag that liquor stores give out. Inside were bundles of bills, big denominations bound up with rubber bands. It didn't seem like something he should be carrying around. After all, her boyfriend, Charles F. McGonigal, held one of the most senior and sensitive positions in the FBI."Where the fuck is this from?" she asked."Oh, you remember that baseball game?" McGonigal replied, according to Guerriero's recollection. "I made a bet and won."McGonigal had two high-school-age children and a wife — or "ex-wife" as he sometimes referred to her — back at home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He would return there once or twice a month. But McGonigal had led Guerriero to believe that he was either divorced or soon would be. She didn't question his story, nor did she question the story about the bag full of cash.A few days before, Guerriero had sat on the couch with McGonigal in the one-room garden sublet to watch McGonigal's Cleveland Indians beat the Yankees. Much later — after Guerriero's cancer diagnosis, their breakup, and McGonigal's retirement from the FBI — McGonigal would be indicted on suspicion of, among other things, accepting $225,000 in cash from a former employee of Albania's intelligence agency. That total includes one $80,000 chunk that was allegedly handed over in a parked car, outside a restaurant, on October 5, 2017. October 5 and 6 also happened to be the days when the Indians beat the Yankees in the first two games of the American League Division Series. Today, Guerriero no longer believes the bag of cash contained winnings from a sports bet.One of McGonigal's attorneys, Seth DuCharme, declined to comment.Guerriero was 44 when they met, a former substitute kindergarten teacher who volunteered for law-enforcement causes and was working as a contractor for a security company while living at home with her father. McGonigal, then 49 years old, had just started his new job at the FBI's New York office.Guerriero says their affair lasted for a little more than a year. McGonigal's Brooklyn sublet may have been modest, but he lived large. He courted Guerriero at high-end restaurants. He would give her gifts of cash — $500 or $1,000 — for her birthday and for Christmas. He once joked about framing his divorce papers for her, as a Christmas gift, but those papers never materialized. He took her to watch New Jersey Devils hockey games in a private box. She recalls that McGonigal once gave a hundred-dollar bill to a panhandler on the street. "I'm a little better off than him. I can spare a hundred dollars," Guerriero remembers McGonigal saying, after she expressed astonishment.That day in October wasn't the only time that Guerriero remembers McGonigal carrying large amounts of cash. After he brushed her curiosity aside, she tempered her suspicions. She told herself it was probably "buy money" for a sting operation, or a payoff for one of McGonigal's informants. She had dated federal law-enforcement officials before. She knew not to ask too many questions about work."Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law-enforcement world," Guerriero said, in an interview with Insider. "He fooled them all. So why should I feel bad that he was able to deceive me?"The dual indictments lodged against McGonigal earlier this week in New York and Washington, DC, are the culmination of a grand-jury investigation that Insider exclusively reported on last year, and they lay out breathtaking allegations of subterfuge and corruption. But Guerriero says that McGonigal's deceptions extended beyond his duties as a counterintelligence chief and into their personal life. Two sources who knew both McGonigal and Guerriero in New York told Insider that they believed Guerriero's account of the relationship, including her claim that McGonigal had led Guerriero to believe that he was effectively single. And Guerriero's father told Insider that McGonigal would regularly drive to his house, where Guerriero lived, to pick her up."I was deceived about it," Guerriero's father said. "He seemed to be a straight shooter. If I'd had known he was married, I would have said something."Federal prosecutors charged McGonigal with money laundering and making false statements in his mandatory employee disclosures to the FBI. He was also charged with taking money from a representative of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who McGonigal had once himself investigated, in violation of US economic sanctions against Russia; the indictment alleges that Deripaska paid him to investigate a rival oligarch. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.McGonigal was not an ordinary FBI agent. He led the WikiLeaks investigation into Chelsea Manning as well as a search for a Chinese mole inside the CIA. While working at FBI headquarters in Washington, he played a role in opening the investigation into the Trump campaign's Russia contacts that was later dubbed Operation Crossfire Hurricane.But it was McGonigal's final FBI job, special agent in charge of the counterintelligence division at the FBI's New York field office, that was his most important assignment at the bureau. It was his job to find enemy spies and recruit his own."New York City is a global center for espionage and counterespionage," says one senior law-enforcement insider who was closely familiar with the specifics of McGonigal's role. "You have visits from foreign business elites and politicians. You have the United Nations. You have ethnic populations. Who runs the pitches to recruit spies from all those other countries? The FBI. So the access you get in that job is extraordinary. It's almost bottomless. So if you're running FBI counterintelligence in New York, you can get your hands on almost anything you want, and you don't always have to make excuses for why you're asking for it."The impact of the McGonigal indictments is still rippling out through the law-enforcement world. The charges accuse an official at the heart of the Trump-Russia investigation of secretly selling his own access, accepting bundles of cash in surreptitious meetings with someone who had ties to Albanian intelligence. McGonigal, a top-tier member of the city's law-enforcement community, a man who had fully integrated himself into a powerful circle of trust where favors get swapped and sensitive intelligence gets circulated, is accused of himself being on the take. If the indictments are correct, McGonigal was leading a dangerous double life, right under the noses of some of the sharpest cops in America.But what might be most striking about the case against McGonigal is how cheaply he is alleged to have rented out his law-enforcement powers. One indictment suggests that for $225,000, McGonigal's associates got him to lobby the Albanian prime minister about the awarding of oil-field drilling licenses and then open an FBI investigation connected to a US citizen who had lobbied for one of the prime minister's political opponents. Arranging a meeting for an executive from a Bosnian pharmaceutical company with a US official at the United Nations was said to be a pricier item — $500,000, one indictment claims. It is unclear whether that money ever materialized.In September 2018, McGonigal left the FBI to work as a vice president at Brookfield Properties, a multibillion-dollar real-estate company. His salary there was most likely higher than what he made inside the government, but it wasn't anywhere near the C-suite or oligarch-scale money that courses through New York's penthouse condos and boardrooms. One law-enforcement source estimated that McGonigal stood to make roughly $300,000 to $350,000 a year, including annual bonuses. "He said he needed to make more money," said Guerriero, who was still in the relationship with McGonigal when he left the FBI. "He had two kids to put through college."The value that McGonigal is accused of providing — his access and his pull — are clear from the indictments. One of them alleges that he arranged for the daughter of a foreign contact, a college student, to get a VIP tour from the New York City Police Department. The indictment identifies that foreign contact as "Agent-1," an agent of the Russian oligarch Deripaska, former Russian diplomat, and rumored Russian intelligence officer. That description matches Evgeny Fokin, who works for En+, a Deripaska-owned energy company, and was already linked to McGonigal and an associate in a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing from November 2021.Agent-1's identity remains unconfirmed. Neither Fokin nor En+ responded to requests for comment. A person familiar with the NYPD's arrangement said the daughter was a guest, not an intern. She didn't have independent access to police facilities, they said, and was given no work to do.Guerriero recalls McGonigal using the FBI's resources for their relationship. Once, they had sex in an SUV that she understood to be federal government property. After she was found to have breast cancer, Guerriero recalls, McGonigal would occasionally send a junior agent in an FBI sedan to give her rides from New Jersey to her cousin's apartment in New York. Despite the ongoing deception about his marital status, McGonigal was "caring, loving, and concerned" during the period of her illness, she says.In late 2018, McGonigal and Guerriero broke up. She remembers receiving an anonymous and hostile note in the mail. Soon after, McGonigal told her he was still married and had no plans to divorce his wife. "I was shocked," she said. "I was very much in love with him, and I was so hurt." She started drinking heavily to cope. A few months later, Guerriero, after a bout of drinking, dashed off an angry email to William Sweeney, who was in charge of the FBI's New York City bureau, and who, she recalls, had first introduced her to McGonigal. She remembers telling Sweeney in the email that he should look into their extramarital affair, and also McGonigal's dealings in Albania. McGonigal had already befriended Albania's prime minister and traveled to the country extensively, dealings that would appear later in one of his indictments. Guerriero told Insider that she had deleted the email.Sweeney didn't reply to a request for comment made through Sweeney's current employer, Citigroup. Insider couldn't confirm that Guerriero had sent the email or that Sweeney had received it. Regardless, by November 2021, the FBI was looking into McGonigal. Two agents showed up at Guerriero's door, she says, showed her a picture of McGonigal with the Albanian prime minister, and interviewed her about their interactions. She also received a grand-jury subpoena requesting all of her communications with McGonigal as well as information about any "payments or gifts" he may have given her.Guerriero acknowledges that the combination of her alcohol abuse and her health problems led to some extreme behavior, including her sending hostile emails to McGonigal's family, the contents of which she says she cannot recall. "I really did go overboard," she said. "I harassed them. I'm not going to deny that. I was horrible to them."By her own account, Guerriero contacted one of McGonigal's children despite being prohibited from doing so by a court order, an incident that led to her spending the night in a New Jersey jail. The court order stemmed from a 2019 police report, obtained by Insider, that McGonigal's wife, Pamela, filed with the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland. The report states that McGonigal and Guerriero "had a relationship" and that Guerriero had repeatedly harassed her with unwelcome emails and phone calls — including 20 calls in one day — despite her asking Guerriero to stop.Guerriero confirmed that her contact with the McGonigal family led to a separate restraining order issued in New Jersey. "I am ashamed and embarrassed and sorry for my actions during the time that I was drinking," she said.Allison Guerriero knew Rudy Giuliani from law-enforcement circles. Giuliani let her stay in a guest room at his residence after Guerriero's father's house caught fire in 2021.Allison GuerrieroGuerriero's troubles worsened in early 2021, when she was badly burned during a fire at her father's house. She asked friends for help through a GoFundMe. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City, whom she knew from law-enforcement circles, let her stay in a guest bedroom. Since then, Guerriero has been a frequent on-air caller for Giuliani's radio shows. She maintains that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud, a belief pushed by Giuliani that has been repeatedly debunked. "Whatever Giuliani says about the 2020 election is what I believe," she said. During her relationship with McGonigal, Guerriero says, they never talked about politics. "I thought he was apolitical," he said, "which is something I continue to believe."The FBI declined to address the specifics of Guerriero's story. Instead, it sent a statement from Director Christopher Wray, who said the FBI holds employees to "the highest standard" and treats everyone equally, "even when it is one of our own." Insider spoke with three of McGonigal's former law-enforcement colleagues who expressed shock about the indictments. "It's heartbreaking," said one, who had worked alongside McGonigal at the FBI. "This is an incredible organization filled with truly dedicated men and women. This sets our image and reputation back."Guerriero's father said his view of the FBI had already been tarnished by the way that McGonigal treated his daughter. "I've always had huge admiration for the FBI," he said. "I idealized the agents that I saw in the movies. I thought these people were gods, that they never did anything wrong. It was so disappointing." He did say, however, that McGonigal had called him after the relationship ended to apologize for his behavior, and that he had accepted McGonigal's apology.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 27th, 2023

Exclusive: Inside the extramarital affair and cash-fueled double life of Charles McGonigal, the FBI spy-hunter indicted for allegedly taking Russian money

"Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law enforcement world," his ex-lover told Insider. "He fooled them all." Charles F. McGonigal, who held one of the FBI's most sensitive positions, now faces criminal charges for his alleged ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch.Michael M. Santiago, Frédéric Soltan, Kirill Kudryavtsev/GettyImages; Arif Qazi/Insider;One morning in October 2017, Allison Guerriero noticed something unusual on the floor of her boyfriend's Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment — a bag full of cash. There it was, lying next to his shoes, near the futon, the kind of bag that liquor stores give out. Inside were bundles of bills, big denominations bound up with rubber bands. It didn't seem like something he should be carrying around. After all, her boyfriend, Charles F. McGonigal, held one of the most senior and sensitive positions in the FBI."Where the fuck is this from?" she asked."Oh, you remember that baseball game?" McGonigal replied, according to Guerriero's recollection. "I made a bet and won."McGonigal had two high-school-aged children and a wife — or "ex-wife" as he sometimes referred to her — back at home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He would return there once or twice a month. But McGonigal had led Guerriero to believe that he was either divorced or soon would be. She didn't question his story, nor did she question the story about the bag full of cash.A few days before, Guerriero had sat on the couch with McGonigal in the one-room garden sublet to watch McGonigal's Cleveland Indians beat the Yankees. Much later — after Guerriero's cancer diagnosis, their breakup, and McGonigal's retirement from the FBI — McGonigal would be indicted for, among other things, allegedly accepting $225,000 in cash from a former employee of Albania's intelligence agency. That total includes one $80,000 chunk that was allegedly handed over in a parked car, outside a restaurant, on October 5, 2017. October 5 and 6 also happened to be the days when the Indians beat the Yankees in the first two games of the American League Division Series. Today, Guerriero no longer believes the bag of cash contained winnings from a sports bet.One of McGonigal's attorneys, Seth DuCharme, declined to comment.Guerriero was 44 when they met, a former substitute kindergarten teacher who volunteered for law enforcement causes and was working as a contractor for a security company while living at home with her father. McGonigal, then 49 years old, had just started his new job at the FBI's New York office.Guerriero says their affair lasted for a little more than a year. McGonigal's Brooklyn sublet may have been modest, but he lived large. He courted Guerriero at high-end restaurants. He would give her gifts of cash — $500 or $1,000 — for her birthday and for Christmas. He once joked about framing his divorce papers for her, as a Christmas gift, but those papers never materialized. He took her to watch New Jersey Devils hockey games in a private box. She recalls that McGonigal once gave a hundred-dollar bill to a panhandler on the street. "I'm a little better off than him. I can spare a hundred dollars," Guerriero remembers McGonigal saying, after she expressed astonishment.That day in October wasn't the only time that Guerriero remembers McGonigal carrying large amounts of cash. After he brushed her curiosity aside, she tempered her suspicions. She told herself it was probably "buy money" for a sting operation, or a payoff for one of McGonigal's informants. She had dated federal law enforcement officials before. She knew not to ask too many questions about work."Charlie McGonigal knew everybody in the national security and law enforcement world," Guerriero said, in an exclusive interview with Insider. "He fooled them all. So why should I feel bad that he was able to deceive me?"The dual indictments lodged against McGonigal earlier this week in both New York and Washington, DC, are the culmination of a grand jury investigation that Insider exclusively reported on last year, and they lay out breathtaking allegations of subterfuge and corruption. But Guerriero says that McGonigal's deceptions extended beyond his duties as a counter-intelligence chief and into their personal life. Two sources who knew both McGonigal and Guerriero in New York told Insider that they believed Guerriero's account of the relationship, including her claim that McGonigal had led Guerriero to believe that he was effectively single. And Guerriero's father told Insider that McGonigal would regularly drive to his house, where Guerriero lived, to pick her up."I was deceived about it," Guerriero's father said. "He seemed to be a straight shooter. If I'd had known he was married, I would have said something."McGonigal was charged by federal prosecutors with money laundering and making false statements in his mandatory employee disclosures to the FBI. He was also charged with taking money from a representative of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who McGonigal had once himself investigated, in violation of US economic sanctions against Russia; the indictment alleges that Derispaska paid him to investigate a rival oligarch. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.McGonigal was not an ordinary FBI agent. He led the WikiLeaks investigation into Chelsea Manning as well as a search for a Chinese mole inside the CIA. While working at FBI headquarters in Washington, he played a role in opening the investigation into the Trump campaign's Russia contacts that was later dubbed Operation Crossfire Hurricane.But it was McGonigal's final FBI job, special agent in charge of the counterintelligence division at the FBI's New York field office, that was his most important assignment at the bureau. It was his job to find enemy spies and recruit his own."New York City is a global center for espionage and counter-espionage," says one senior law-enforcement insider who was closely familiar with the specifics of McGonigal's role. "You have visits from foreign business elites and politicians. You have the United Nations. You have ethnic populations. Who runs the pitches to recruit spies from all those other countries? The FBI. So the access you get in that job is extraordinary. It's almost bottomless. So if you're running FBI counterintelligence in New York, you can get your hands on almost anything you want, and you don't always have to make excuses for why you're asking for it."The impact of the McGonigal indictments is still rippling out through the law enforcement world. According to the charges, one of the officials at the heart of the Trump-Russia investigation was secretly selling his own access, accepting bundles of cash in surreptitious meetings with someone who had ties to Albanian intelligence. McGonigal, a top-tier member of the city's law enforcement community, a man who had fully integrated himself into a powerful circle of trust where favors get swapped and sensitive intelligence gets circulated, was allegedly himself on the take. If the indictments are correct, McGonigal was leading a dangerous double life, right under the noses of some of the sharpest cops in America.But what might be most striking about the case against McGonigal is how cheaply he is alleged to have rented out his law enforcement powers. One indictment suggests that for $225,000, McGonigal's associates got him to lobby the Albanian prime minister about the awarding of oil field drilling licenses and then open an FBI investigation connected to a US citizen who had lobbied for one of the prime minister's political opponents. Arranging a meeting for an executive from a Bosnian pharmaceutical company with a U.S. official at the United Nations was allegedly a pricier item — $500,000, according to one indictment. It is unclear whether that money ever materialized.In September 2018, McGonigal left the FBI to work as a vice president at Brookfield Properties, a multibillion-dollar real estate company. His salary there was likely higher than what he made inside the government, but it wasn't anywhere near the C-suite or oligarch-scale money that courses through New York's penthouse condos and boardrooms. One law enforcement source estimated that McGonigal stood to make roughly $300,000 to $350,000 a year, including annual bonuses. "He said he needed to make more money," said Guerriero, who was still in the relationship with McGonigal when he left the FBI. "He had two kids to put through college."The value that McGonigal allegedly provided — his access and his pull — are clear from the indictments. One of them alleges that he arranged for the daughter of a foreign contact, a college student, to get a VIP tour from the New York City Police Department. The indictment identifies that foreign contact as "Agent-1," an agent of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, former Russian diplomat, and rumored Russian intelligence officer. That description matches Evgeny Fokin, who works for En+, a Deripaska-owned energy company, and was already linked to McGonigal and an associate in a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing from November 2021.  Agent-1's identity remains unconfirmed. Neither Fokin nor En+ responded to requests for comment. A person familiar with the NYPD's arrangement said that the daughter was a guest, not an intern. She did not have independent access to police facilities they said, and she was given no work to do. Guerriero recalls McGonigal using the FBI's resources for their relationship. Once, they had sex in an SUV that she understood to be federal government property. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Guerriero recalls that McGonigal would occasionally send a junior agent in an FBI sedan to give her rides from New Jersey to her cousin's apartment in New York. Despite the ongoing deception about his marital status, McGonigal was "caring, loving, and concerned," during the period of her illness, she says.In late 2018, McGonigal and Guerriero broke up. She remembers receiving an anonymous and hostile note in the mail. Soon after, McGonigal told her that he was still married and had no plans to divorce his wife. "I was shocked," she said. "I was very much in love with him, and I was so hurt." She started drinking heavily to cope. A few months later, Guerriero, after a bout of drinking, dashed off an angry email to William Sweeney, who was in charge of the FBI's New York City bureau, and who, she recalls, had first introduced her to McGonigal. She remembers telling Sweeney in the email that he should look into their extramarital affair, and also McGonigal's dealings in Albania. McGonigal had already befriended Albania's prime minister and traveled to the country extensively, dealings that would appear later in one of his indictments. Guerriero told Insider that she had deleted the email.Sweeney did not reply to a request for comment made through Sweeney's current employer, Citigroup. Insider could not confirm that Guerriero had sent the email or that Sweeney had received it. Regardless, by November 2021, the FBI was looking into McGonigal. Two agents showed up at Guerriero's door, she says, showed her a picture of McGonigal with the Albanian prime minister, and interviewed her about their interactions. She also received a grand jury subpoena requesting all of her communications with McGonigal as well as information about any "payments or gifts" that he may have given to her.Guerriero acknowledges that the combination of her alcohol abuse and her health problems led to some extreme behavior, including her sending hostile emails to McGonigal's family, the contents of which she says she cannot recall. "I really did go overboard," she said. "I harassed them. I'm not going to deny that. I was horrible to them."By her own account, Guerriero contacted one of McGonigal's children despite being prohibited from doing so by a court order, an incident that led to her spending the night in a New Jersey jail. The court order stemmed from a 2019 police report, obtained by Insider, that McGonigal's wife Pamela filed with the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland. The report states that McGonigal and Guerriero "had a relationship," and that Guerriero had repeatedly harassed her with unwelcome emails and phone calls — including 20 calls in one day — despite her asking Guerriero to stop.Guerriero confirmed that her contact with the McGonigal family led to a separate restraining order issued in New Jersey. "I am ashamed and embarrassed and sorry for my actions during the time that I was drinking," she said.Allison Guerriero knew Rudy Giuliani from law enforcement circles. Giuliani let her stay in a guest room at his residence after Guerriero's father's house caught fire in 2021.Allison GuerrieroGuerriero's troubles worsened in early 2021, when she was badly burned during a fire at her father's house. She asked friends for help through a GoFundMe. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom she knew from law enforcement circles, let her stay in a guest bedroom. Since then, Guerriero has been a frequent on-air caller for Giuliani's radio shows. She maintains that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud, a belief pushed by Giuliani that has been repeatedly debunked. "Whatever Giuliani says about the 2020 election is what I believe," she said. During her relationship with McGonigal, Guerriero says, they never talked about politics. "I thought he was apolitical," he said, "which is something I continue to believe." The FBI declined to address the specifics of Guerriero's story. Instead, they sent a statement from Director Christopher Wray, who said that the FBI holds employees to "the highest standard" and treats everyone equally, "even when it is one of our own." Insider spoke with three of McGonigal's former law-enforcement colleagues who expressed shock about the indictments. "It's heartbreaking," said one, who had worked alongside McGonigal at the FBI. "This is an incredible organization filled with truly dedicated men and women. This sets our image and reputation back."Guerriero's father said that his view of the FBI had already been tarnished by the way that McGonigal treated his daughter. "I've always had huge admiration for the FBI," he said. "I idealized the agents that I saw in the movies. I thought these people were gods, that they never did anything wrong. It was so disappointing." He did note, however, that McGonigal had called him after the relationship ended to apologize for his behavior, and that he had accepted McGonigal's apology.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 27th, 2023

We Must Have The Truth

We Must Have The Truth Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance I have been trying to tackle the “fringe” issues (read: the issues the mainstream won’t give way on) regarding Covid since the pandemic first began in 2020. So far, I think I’ve done a decent job in helping flesh out many “conspiracy theories” about Covid that instead, have turned out to be “conspiracy facts”. Among them, I’ve written about managing our Orwellian response to Covid, the notoriously sensitive nature of PCR testing, the CDC moving its data goalposts, the likely nature of Covid coming from a lab leak (here and here and here) and the U.S.’s role in said leak and the media’s hysterical coverage of ivermectin. Additionally, for those that haven’t heard it yet, in an attempt to continue the “other side” of Covid discourse, I published a new podcast with Dr. Peter A. McCullough, who has dozens of peer-reviewed publications on Covid-19 and has commented extensively on the medical response to the COVID-19 crisis in The Hill, America Out Loud, and cable networks like ABC and Fox News.  I am always happy to welcome new content from The Brownstone Institute, one of the last few beacons of common sense left in the world of actual journalism. This week they published a new piece on Covid and our response to it, called We Must Have The Truth. I reached out to the publication last year and requested permission to share their content when I enjoy it, in full, with my readers, which they kindly granted. If you’re interested in the topic - or simply just having a grasp on the objective truth - I believe it is a “must read”. The article is written by Pat Fidopiastis, who is a Professor of Microbiology at California Polytechnic State University. On April 2, 2020, a paddle boarder was chased by authorities and taken into custody. This event should have caused unanimous outrage over the absurdity of what happened – law enforcement arrested a lone paddle boarder on Santa Monica Bay for the crime of “flouting coronavirus closures.”  Traditional voices that could have questioned unscientific authoritarian policy instead provided cover. The Los Angeles Times justified law enforcement’s ridiculous response by quoting a scientist who made the claim (presumably with a straight face): “..[SARS-CoV-2] could enter coastal waters and transfer back into the air.” Setting aside the absurdity of this and every other justification for closing beaches, hiking trails, and parks, think of the narrative it perpetuated — the virus is so insidious that even those who dared to paddle board alone on the ocean might somehow spread it to the rest of us.  The paddler’s arrest was an early indication that something had changed in our country. A “new normal” was spawning from the chaotic, unscientific, politicized pandemic messaging mainly coming from biased news media and the once venerable Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci. The result was bitter contempt between two sides of the COVID-19 debate that metastasized into a deep distrust for science.  In an understatement of the century, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky recently summed up her agency’s role in promoting distrust in science by stating that they did not “reliably meet expectations.” Thus, it’s pretty clear that for their part, nothing much will change. Dr. Fauci proclaimed that because he “represents science” any criticism of him is a direct attack on science. Translation, we shouldn’t expect any productive capitulation from him either.  Although the CDC acknowledged playing a role in the growing distrust in science, none of their professed forms of atonement, such as promising to share data faster and doing a better job of translating science into policy will restore trust without a process that includes honest debate.  Over the past two years, the CDC cherry-picked data from articles rushed to print in their own journal (Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report) to justify a lot of bad policy, including masking schoolchildren, which is still happening today, or pushed the completely unscientific assertion that vaccine immunity is superior to natural immunity.  On the other hand, they buried data showing that upon reinfection, vaccinated people without prior COVID-19 diagnosis were at greater risk of hospitalization than the unvaccinated with prior COVID-19.  Dr. Walensky also boldly stated that, “Our data from the CDC today suggests that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick.” The untruthful messaging that vaccination stopped infection and transmission was justification for an appalling trend of people mocking the COVID-19-related deaths of the unvaccinated.  It’s unlikely the families targeted by such attacks will hear any apologies, even though Dr. Fauci’s four shots did not protect him from reoccurring COVID-19, or that Dr. Birx admitted that inflated vaccine efficacy claims were based on hope, not science.  Get 60% Off: If you enjoy pieces like this and you are still not a subscriber of QTR's Fringe Finance, here’s 60% off: Get 60% off forever At the start of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci told us not to buy masks because they do not work. When the politics changed, Fauci reversed himself and became the proponent of wearing not just one mask – but several. Dr. Fauci’s excuse for the flip-flop was his only truth on the matter – he admitted that he lied, albeit “nobly.” For his encore, Dr. Fauci confidently opined on the level of vaccine uptake required for herd immunity. Eventually he admitted to guessing at numbers to frighten people into compliance. To be clear, Dr. Fauci used deception, not science, to support his version of public health policy.  Anybody who was “on the fence” about trusting Fauci, the self-proclaimed embodiment of “the science,” should have been forcefully pushed off after his attempts to obfuscate when testifying to Congress on whether the US government funded “gain of function” research that very likely created SARS-CoV-2.  The loss of trust was greatly amplified by activist scientists and most of the news media. Dr. Fauci refused to say anything critical of the nationwide social justice protests that might have discouraged people from participating in behaviors known to spread respiratory viruses.  However, scientists and news sources eagerly reported alleged death tolls purportedly caused by Trump rallies, while claiming “no evidence of protest spread.”  How could scientists determine whether the protests caused any disease transmission or death if contact tracers were not allowed to ask if someone attended a protest? The weaponization of science to censor, persecute, delegitimize, and threaten those who had differing opinions has never happened on this scale in this country.  Fig. 1. Comparison of daily per capita cases between Texas (orange), which lifted its mask mandate in March 2021, California (red), and New York (Green), which continued their masking policies.  Even President Biden capitalized on the politicization of mask-wearing by accusing the elected leader (and by extension the citizens) of Texas of “Neanderthal thinking” for removing the mask mandate in 2021. Meanwhile, states such as California and New York were praised for “following the science.”  A simple comparison of the epidemic curves between these states did not justify the divisive rhetoric (Fig. 1). But rather than have these conversations, it was easier to just slander dissenters and censor intelligent discussion.  As the old saying goes, “a lie is halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on.” Thankfully, the truth finally has its boots on and is catching up on many fronts, such as the questionable effectiveness of mask mandates.  The “Neanderthal thinking” jab was uttered around the time the news media, outraged by Governor Ron DeSantis’ steady leadership in Florida, hoped to get “Ron DeathSantis” trending on social media.  Not surprisingly, the data told a different story about Florida (Fig. 2). It’s clear that “follow the science” was just a slogan. Politics, lies, and vindictive moral superiority are baked into our nation’s COVID-19 policy. Fig. 2. Age-adjusted COVID-19 deaths in Florida and California. The circles are proportional to state population. Although these states adopted dramatically different policies, they had comparable outcomes. Trust in science might never be restored in people who lost their livelihood to unscientific lockdowns or vaccine mandates. But, here’s some advice for people like Dr. Walensky and Dr. Fauci to get back some of the trust. 1) Go back to the basics of Public Health: “Voluntary measures are more likely to induce cooperation and protect public trust than coercive measures, and are more likely to prevent attempts to avoid contact with the healthcare system.”  2) Invite dissenting experts to the table for open policy debate. Excess malaria and opioid deaths in young people, while millions of children were thrusted into acute starvation, are examples of significant COVID-19 policy failures. Great Barrington Declaration scientists warned about such collateral damage, but were maligned and censored. At the very least, the public would have benefitted from a different perspective on the risk of catching COVID-19 from ocean spray.  3) Vindictive moral superiority is terrible public health messaging. Heed the advice from an article in The Atlantic: “Viruses are not moral agents, and infection is not a personal failure.”   4) Sincerely apologize to people who were fired, maligned, censored, or physically harmed, then tell us your justification for ignoring counter data and continuing policy that encouraged these unnecessary outcomes. 5) none of the above will matter if public health officials do not tell the truth, including the nuance, and trust that the American people can handle it. George Santayana famously said, “Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Let’s hope we’ve learned from our mistakes, because given the state of the world right now, we cannot afford to repeat them.  About The Brownstone Institute The Brownstone Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded May 2021. Its vision is of a society that places the highest value on the voluntary interaction of individuals and groups while minimizing the use of violence and force including that which is exercised by public or private authorities. This vision is that of the Enlightenment which elevated learning, science, progress, and universal rights to the forefront of public life. It is constantly threatened by ideologies and systems that would take the world back to before the triumph of the ideal of freedom. The motive force of Brownstone Institute was the global crisis created by policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. That trauma revealed a fundamental misunderstanding alive in all countries around the world today, a willingness on the part of the public and officials to relinquish freedom and fundamental human rights in the name of managing a public health crisis, which was not managed well in most countries. The consequences were devastating and will live in infamy. About the Author Pat Fidopiastis is a Professor of Microbiology at California Polytechnic State University. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/14/2023 - 15:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 14th, 2023

When The FBI Attacks Critics As "Conspiracy Theorists", It"s Time To Reform The Bureau

When The FBI Attacks Critics As "Conspiracy Theorists", It's Time To Reform The Bureau Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column in the Hill on the need for a new “Church Committee” to investigate and reform the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after years of scandals involving alleged political bias. In response to criticism over its role in Twitter’s censorship system, the FBI lashed out against critics as “conspiracy theorists” spreading disinformation. However, it still refuses to supply new information on other companies, beyond Twitter, that it has paid to engage in censorship. Here is the column: “Conspiracy theorists … feeding the American public misinformation” is a familiar attack line for anyone raising free-speech concerns over the FBI’s role in social media censorship. What is different is that this attack came from the country’s largest law enforcement agency, the FBI — and, since the FBI has made combatting “disinformation” a major focus of its work, the labeling of its critics is particularly menacing. Fifty years ago, the Watergate scandal provoked a series of events that transformed not only the presidency but federal agencies like the FBI. Americans demanded answers about the involvement of the FBI and other federal agencies in domestic politics. Ultimately, Congress not only investigated the FBI but later impanelled the Church Committee to investigate a host of other abuses by intelligence agencies. A quick review of recent disclosures and controversies shows ample need for a new Church Committee: The Russian investigations The FBI previously was at the center of controversies over documented political bias. Without repeating the long history from the Russian influence scandal, FBI officials like Peter Strzok were fired after emails showed open bias against presidential candidate Donald Trump. The FBI ignored warnings that the so-called Steele dossier, largely funded by the Clinton campaign, was likely used by Russian intelligence to spread disinformation. It continued its investigation despite early refutations of key allegations or discrediting of sources. Biden family business The FBI has taken on the character of a Praetorian Guard when the Biden family has found itself in scandals. For example, there was Hunter Biden’s handgun, acquired by apparently lying on federal forms. In 2018, the gun allegedly was tossed into a trash bin in Wilmington, Del., by Hallie Biden, the widow of Hunter’s deceased brother and with whom Hunter had a relationship at the time. Secret Service agents reportedly appeared at the gun shop with no apparent reason, and Hunter later said the matter would be handled by the FBI. Nothing was done despite the apparent violation of federal law. Later, the diary of Hunter’s sister, Ashley, went missing. While the alleged theft normally would be handled as a relatively minor local criminal matter, the FBI launched a major investigation that continued for months to pursue those who acquired the diary, which reportedly contains embarrassing entries involving President Biden. Such a massive FBI deployment shocked many of us, but the FBI built a federal case against those who took possession of the diary. Targeting Republicans and conservatives Recently the FBI was flagged for targeting two senior House Intelligence Committee staffers in grand jury subpoenas sent to Google. It has been criticized for using the Jan. 6 Capitol riot investigations to target conservative groups and GOP members of Congress, including seizing the phone of one GOP member. The FBI also has been criticized for targeting pro-life violence while not showing the same vigor toward pro-choice violence. Hunter’s laptop While the FBI was eager to continue the Russian investigations with no clear evidence of collusion, it showed the opposite inclination when given Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop. The laptop would seem to be a target-rich environment for criminal investigators, with photos and emails detailing an array of potential crimes involving foreign transactions, guns, drugs and prostitutes. However, reports indicate that FBI officials moved to quash or slow any investigation. The computer repairman who acquired the laptop, John Paul Mac Isaac, said he struggled to get the FBI to respond and that agents made thinly veiled threats regarding any disclosures of material related to the Biden family; he said one agent told him that “in their experience, nothing ever happens to people that don’t talk about these things.” The ‘Twitter Files’ The “Twitter Files” released by Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, show as many as 80 agents targeting social-media posters for censorship on the site. This included alleged briefings that Twitter officials said was the reason they spiked the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story before the 2020 election. The FBI sent 150 messages on back channels to just one Twitter official to flag accounts. One Twitter executive expressed unease over the FBI’s pressure, declaring: “They are probing & pushing everywhere they can (including by whispering to congressional staff).” We also have learned that Twitter hired a number of retired FBI agents, including former FBI general counsel James Baker, who was a critical and controversial figure in past bureau scandals over political bias. Attacking critics It is not clear what is more chilling — the menacing role played by the FBI in Twitter’s censorship program, or its mendacious response to the disclosure of that role. The FBI has issued a series of “nothing-to-see-here” statements regarding the Twitter Files. In its latest statement, the FBI insists it did not command Twitter to take any specific action when flagging accounts to be censored. Of course, it didn’t have to threaten the company — because we now have an effective state media by consent rather than coercion. Moreover, an FBI warning tends to concentrate the minds of most people without the need for a specific threat. Finally, the files show that the FBI paid Twitter millions as part of this censorship system — a windfall favorably reported to Baker before he was fired from Twitter by Musk. Criticizing the FBI is now ‘disinformation’ Responding to the disclosures and criticism, an FBI spokesperson declared: “The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.” Arguably, “working every day to protect the American public” need not include censoring the public to protect it from errant or misleading ideas. However, it is the attack on its critics that is most striking. While the FBI denounced critics of an earlier era as communists and “fellow travelers,” it now uses the same attack narrative to label its critics as “conspiracy theorists.” After Watergate, there was bipartisan support for reforming the FBI and intelligence agencies. Today, that cacophony of voices has been replaced by crickets, as much of the media imposes another effective blackout on coverage of the Twitter Files. This media silence suggests that the FBI found the “sweet spot” on censorship, supporting the views of the political and media establishment. As for the rest of us, the FBI now declares us to be part of a disinformation danger which it is committed to stamping out - “conspiracy theorists” misleading the public simply by criticizing the bureau. Clearly, this is the time for a new Church Committee - and time to reform the FBI. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/26/2022 - 20:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 26th, 2022

Biden Puts The "Total" In Totalitarianism

Biden Puts The 'Total' In Totalitarianism Authored by Roger Kimball via AmGreatness.com, America has come perilously close to the edge of the point of no return... Joe Biden certainly set the punditocracy abuzz with his neo-totalitarian performance piece at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Thursday. The significance of that speech can be broken down into three parts, two of which have already received abundant commentary.  The first has to do with the theater of the piece, its optics or stagecraft. As many commentators (myself included) noted, the feel of the event was distinctly, and distinctively, bombastic. The melodramatic red lighting, the presence of armed Marines flanking the president, and Biden’s hectoring, gesticulating delivery made the event seem eerily reminiscent of a speech by Stalin, Mao, or—the closest parallel—that diminutive former house painter who, for a few short years, mesmerized the world with his elaborately staged rallies before pushing ahead with more kinetic activities.  To those who object that I am flirting with Godwin’s Law by invoking old AH, I reply that the flirtation was not mine but the doing of Biden’s producers and puppeteers. The visual similarity between Joe Biden’s event and some nighttime events at Nuremberg are just too striking to be coincidental. Leni Riefenstahl, as someone noted, would have been proud. Those who point out that Biden’s speech took place on September 1, a fraught day on the Polish border anno domini 1939, may be too ingenious for this historically illiterate age, but who knows? Often these things are, as our Marxists friends like to say, no accident. There are wheels within wheels.  Which brings me to the question of the intent behind the theatrics. Was this exercise in garish, totalitarian kitsch a “gaffe,” as some are saying—an aesthetic miscalculation for which that blinking inarticulate muppet who is Biden’s press secretary will have to apologize? Apparently not, since she just said that the speech was “not political.”  The entertainment committee never sleeps.  A year or so back, I might have thought that the theatrics were inadvertent. I have changed my mind. Having watched Biden’s Justice Department morph into an American Stasi with the FBI conducting predawn raids against various Trump supporters, arresting former aides and confiscating the mobile phones and other property of his lawyers, I now think that the tactics of intimidation are part of a larger strategy. The FBI’s raid last month on Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach residence, belongs in this category, as of course do the hundreds of indictments and incarcerations of January 6 protestors. Almost all of those unfortunate souls wind up being charged with minor torts like “parading” in or around the Capitol, yet are nonetheless thrown in a special D.C. gulag for months before being found guilty by biased juries and subject to enhanced sentences handed down by Trump-hating judges. None of this is adventitious. Like the intimidating and slightly unhinged theatrics of Biden’s speech, they are all deliberate scare tactics, warnings to us all of what can happen to those who dissent. The spectacle of 87,000 newly minted IRS agents waiting in the wings is another part of that “shock-and-awe” campaign.  Beyond Theatrics So much for the theatrics of the speech. What about its substance? It was a tooth-and-claw attack on Donald Trump and the MAGA agenda. How sharp were those teeth and claws? Trump and his supporters, said Biden, shaking his fists, represent “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.” “The very foundations of our republic,” forsooth! A week earlier, he noted that the problem was “not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the . . . semi-fascism” of the MAGA agenda.  The response to this unprecedented attack by a sitting president against his predecessor—as well as against the tens of millions (more than 74 million we are told) of his predecessor’s supporters—has been so robust that Biden felt it necessary to walk back his remarks, sort of. “I don’t consider any Trump supporter a threat to the country,” he said Friday, after saying just that on prime-time television to the entire nation the night before.  But wait, what is the MAGA (or, to quote the results of the lucubrations of Biden’s focus group, “ultra-MAGA”) agenda that is supposedly so dangerous? It’s worth keeping the meanings of these epithets in mind. When Donald Trump first proposed his “Make America Great Again” formula, he specified several things that it encompassed.  At the top of the list were efforts to restore American prosperity, in part by exploiting our enormous energy resources, in part by abolishing mischievous and burdensome regulation, in part by cutting taxes and providing incentives for American business to hire Americans and produce their goods in America.  Also at the top of the list was the integrity of our southern border, stanching the flow of illegal immigration, and rebuilding a military that had been woefully neglected during the Obama years. Elsewhere on the domestic front, Trump battled against political correctness and what has come to be called “identity politics.” He largely remade the federal judiciary, seeing three Supreme Court justices and hundreds of lower court federal judges confirmed, all of whom were nominated because they subscribed to a Antonin Scalia-like judicial philosophy that limited the role of judges to interpreting the law in the light of the Constitution, not making law under the inspiration of their personal policy preferences.  In the sphere of foreign policy, the MAGA agenda meant “putting America first.” He insisted that our NATO allies begin to shoulder their stipulated financial burden, challenged China on trade and military adventurism, and scuttled the disastrous Obama-era nuclear deal (since renewed) with Iran. Trump also stood firmly against the democracy-exporting (or, more accurately, “democracy”-exporting) policies of the Bush era. America would go to war not to promulgate democracy but only to defend its own interests. His Abraham Accords brought peace to the Middle East, a world historical achievement for which Trump deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.  And how did all that work out? Pretty well, I’d say. By the time Trump left office, America was a net exporter of energy; illegal immigration had slowed to a trickle; before the onslaught of COVID, his policies had resulted in the lowest unemployment in decades, the lowest minority unemployment ever. Wages were rising, especially at the lower rungs, and the stock market was booming. All-in-all, MAGA meant American prosperity and success.  It did not, however, bode well for the elite globalist agenda which rested upon endless foreign wars, the neglect of American workers, and a disdain for traditional bourgeois values like hard work, family solidarity, and local initiatives.  Biden’s handlers have attempted to co-opt or usurp the epithet “MAGA” and transform it into something ominous. But what it means is not some existential threat to “the very foundations of our republic.” On the contrary, it is an affirmation of the principles of limited government and individual liberty that undergird the foundations of the American republic.  The Goal Is Control Which brings me to the third current of significance in Biden’s performance. There was a theatrical aspect, a substantive aspect—the attack on Trump, his supporters, and all things MAGA—and there is the long strategic game implied not just in Biden’s speech but in the extraordinary, overweening activity of his administration. In “Joe Biden and the Sovietization of America,” a column that will be published in the October edition of Spectator World (available online mid-September), I mention in passing the practice of Gleichschaltung, the attempt to bring all aspects of life into alignment with the governing philosophy of the state. The term was popularized in Germany in the late 1930s, but it describes a process that is common to all totalitarian societies (indeed, it describes the effort that puts the “total” in “totalitarian”). Among other things, it involves the politicization of all aspects of life, the surrender of individuality to ideology. George Orwell sketched the process in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Lenin and Stalin brought that fiction to real life in their iron-fisted control of life in the Soviet Union. Xi Jinping continues that legacy today in China. What we call “political correctness” hints at the program, for really to be politically correct is to suffuse every element of one’s life with the dogmas that the ruling consensus has defined as the correct orthodoxy. The fascistic formula “the personal is the political” gives one expression to this idea, since, taken seriously, it denies the legitimacy of the personal altogether.  The Biden regime is making great strides in this direction. As Josh Hammer observes in a penetrating column, Biden apparatchiks are moving on multiple fronts to abolish the distinction between the public sector and the private sector. Late last month, the world was treated to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg confessing on Joe Rogan’s podcast that, yes, the FBI did in fact put pressure on the social media giant to bury news about Hunter Biden’s “laptop from hell”—news that very likely would have changed the results of the 2020 election had it been allowed to circulate. Entities like Facebook and Twitter, Hammer points out, “no longer qualify as meaningfully ‘private’ and have instead simply become appendages of the state.” They are simply part of the propaganda machine of the ruling party. Citing Missouri Attorney General (and U.S. Senate candidate) Eric Schmitt, Hammer describes the “vast censorship enterprise” promulgated by the state. Former U.S. Representative Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) described aspects of this enterprise in his book Countdown to Socialism.  But the goal of total control involves more than censorship. It also involves the insinuation of the state into the most intimate areas of our private lives. One example is the Biden regime’s new weaponization of Title IX legislation. This brief statute, which, in just a couple of lines, says that institutions that receive federal funds may not discriminate on the basis of sex, has been enlisted in the campaign to abolish natural sexual identity and replace it with a polymorphous, “gender fluid” model. Among other things, this radical new interpretation of Title IX gives teachers priority over parents on matters of sex and gender, requiring, for example, that “K-12 schools support socially transitioning children to a different gender without requiring notice to parents, the involvement of medical professionals, or legal documentation.”  The late Andrew Breitbart liked to point out that politics is downstream from culture. Indeed it is. It saddens me to report, though, that the Left seems to have a livelier appreciation of this fact than the Right. Barack Obama came to office promising to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Obama laid the groundwork for that transformation. Now his bumbling, senescent protégé, aided by an army of Obama-era lieutenants, a compliant media, and a corrupt deep-state bureaucracy, is completing the job.  There is, I know, a point of no return, a point beyond which a society beset by totalitarian impulses must either rebel or succumb utterly. Are we there yet? I do not know. I do sense, however, that we have come perilously close to the edge. I pray that it is not too late.  Tyler Durden Sun, 09/04/2022 - 23:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 5th, 2022

State Farm Remains A "Creepy Neighbor" After Transgender Book Backlash

State Farm Remains A 'Creepy Neighbor' After Transgender Book Backlash Authored by Bill Pan via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), In light of a public backlash, State Farm has swiftly distanced itself from a collaborative book donation program that promotes transgender ideology among young children. The watchdog group that exposed the insurance giant’s involvement, however, said this is far from over. “They continue to not be a good neighbor, but a creepy neighbor,” said Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers’ Research, a nonprofit organization working to expose large companies that put “woke politics” ahead of their customers. Will Hild, executive director with Consumers’ Research, speaks with NTD in March 2022. (NTD News) In late May, Consumers’ Research brought national attention to State Farm’s partnership with transgender youth advocacy group The GenderCool Project, which sought to “increase representation of LGBTQ+ books” intended for readers as young as 5 years old. According to an internal email leaked to and publicized by Consumers’ Research, hundreds of State Farm insurance agents have been encouraged to participate in the program by donating a bundle of three GenderCool books to “their local teacher, community center or library of their choice.” Hild described these GenderCool titles—”A Kids Book About Being Transgender,” “A Kids Book About Being Non-Binary,” and “A Kids Book About Being Inclusive”—as “transgender-in-training books.” “They explain it in terms that would lead to confusion among your average 5-year-old,” Hild told NTD News. “For example, it’s implied that if you are a boy who likes playing with dolls, or playing dress-up, or a girl who likes playing sports—stereotypically something from the other gender, then you might be transgender.” “It even explicitly says that the doctor may have assigned you the wrong gender at birth, and that you need to question the doctor’s assessment of your sex,” he continued. “State Farm was asking their agents to give out these books without parents’ knowledge.” The exposure of the State Farm-GenderCool partnership has thrown the insurance company into “full panic,” Hild said. According to Hild, just four hours after being called out by Consumers’ Research on Twitter, State Farm sent out an internal email alleging a “misunderstanding” about the book donations. This was followed by another email, which announced that the partnership had ended, that the company’s top executives were unaware of the partnership, which they found inappropriate, and that they had only donated $40,000 to GenderCool. Even if this is true, it still means that GenderCool books worth a total of $40,000 might have made it into libraries, community centers, and schools across the country. “These books could be being read by students to deck in schools and libraries,” Hild said. “State Farm refuses to lift a finger to undo any of that.” In fact, a private school in Washington state received a donation of GenderCool books in April and posted a thank you message to State Farm on Facebook, according to the Washington Examiner, which first reported on the matter. Hild also rejected the claim that the higher-ups at State Farm didn’t know about the book donations, noting that he also obtained numerous email complaints that were sent to top executives by concerned employees. “There were emails of multiple agents, walking up the chain, complaining to higher-level executives that this is wrong,” he said, noting that he’s unable to publicize them without compromising the whistleblower’s anonymity. Hild said his organization will not end its “creepy neighbor” ad campaign against State Farm until the company takes action to undo the damage it has caused. Specifically, he demanded that State Farm hire a third-party auditor to examine “every program they have that targets children,” retrieve every one of these books that have been donated to a school, library, and community center, and have conversations with parents whose children have been exposed to such material. “Parents need to know if their kids were exposed to these materials by State Farm agents, and they can have a conversation to walk them out of the bizarre propaganda they were exposed to,” Hild said. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/09/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 9th, 2022

Harvard Won"t Say If It Supports Diversity Of Thought

Harvard Won't Say If It Supports Diversity Of Thought Authored by Albert Eisenberg via RealClear Politics (emphasis ours), In the summer of 2020, after the sensationalized killing of George Floyd burned the words “Black Lives Matter” onto America’s streets and television screens, American institutions of higher learning turned to their offices of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to pledge loyalty to the African American community with cookie-cutter press releases and affirmations. Harvard University, known as the beacon of American higher education, led the way. “Our community stands united in doing everything we can … to be agents of anti-racist social transformation,” wrote the dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health. The dean of Harvard College echoed that sentiment: “We stand with our Black alumni(ae), our Black faculty, our Black staff, our Black students, and other[s] … we unequivocally state our belief that Black Lives Matter.” But when it came to supporting one key black voice – somebody with something to teach the American public, and whose background and credentials could not be questioned – Harvard’s actions didn’t match its rhetoric. Just as the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining national prominence, a witch hunt-style cancellation of Harvard’s most prominent and promising black professor was taking place. Harvard’s suppression of Professor Roland Fryer, newly exposed in a 2022 film by documentarian Rob Montz and a score of articles from prominent thinkers such as Glenn Loury and Stuart Taylor (who wrote about this issue at RealClearEducation and appears in Montz’s documentary), is an egregious example of hypocrisy at work. Montz's documentary was screened this month at the Old Parkland Conference in Dallas, where scores of black academics, including Fryer himself, gathered to discuss social mobility, race in America, and other pressing issues. The story must be seen to be believed, because Fryer is exactly the type of academic whom elite institutions claim to champion. Abandoned by his mother shortly after birth and raised by his alcoholic father, his arrival and accomplishments at Harvard are an incredible success story. Fryer built a storied career using quantitative social science and common sense to investigate societal shibboleths such as the social effect of “acting white” among black students (it’s real) and the impact of racial bias in police shootings (you might be surprised – as Fryer himself was). His work on America’s most hot-button issues earned him headlines, and accolades: a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, honoree status from Time magazine, and the Clark Medal, making him the first African American to win it.  By the late 2010s, Fryer was an academic star, a generational voice at Harvard who pushed the boundaries of academic research to the benefit of the least advantaged Americans, and one who represented the true manifestation of the American dream. It was a long way from the housing projects of Daytona Beach, Florida. But his research upset the political apple cart – and Harvard would soon find occasion to muzzle him. University administrators, including Dean of Harvard’s Faculty Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay and Dean of Social Sciences Larry Bobo, were less than enchanted with Fryer’s findings and regularly attacked his work. Gay and Bobo were among his foremost critics when Fryer’s lab found no evidence of racial bias in police shootings, concluding that, statistically, police officers were less likely to shoot black suspects than white ones. In 2018, a former research assistant came forward with accusations of sexual harassment against Fryer. Most of her claims were dismissed by a neutral investigating committee, which recommended training for Fryer. But a small committee, including Deans Gay and Bobo, instead took the step of removing Fryer from the classroom for two years and shutting down his research lab. Dean Gay even lobbied Harvard’s president to revoke Fryer’s tenure – something that hadn’t been done at Harvard since the Civil War. Another former research assistant, Tanaya Devi, calls the sidelining of Fryer “the most cold-blooded murder I’ve ever seen.” I asked Harvard if there was any other example in the university’s history of a tenured professor being removed from the classroom and having his research shut down. The university refused to comment. Harvard also refused repeated requests for comment as to whether the university supports diversity of thought. Fryer’s case is a cautionary tale at the Ivies. Just last week, Princeton University took the extraordinary step of firing an eminent tenured classics professor, Joshua Katz, after a similar witch hunt led by campus bureaucrats. Princeton’s pretext is similar to Harvard’s, related to a years-old consensual relationship between Katz and a student. But it’s obvious to any neutral observer that the repeated inquiries and unusual punishments are due to the professor's opinions on race politics, not their workplace behavior. The Harvard Crimson reports that as of 2021, Fryer had served his two-year suspension and was back in the classroom – but his research and academic life are under the direct supervision of Dean Gay, who had made her opposition to Fryer’s work clear. Such a hostile working environment calls to mind the company boss from Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” who was “obeyed, yet he inspired neither love nor fear, nor even respect. He inspired uneasiness. That was it!” The message from Harvard is that Fryer should feel unease in his current position, for any misstep could land him back in academic jail. The chill of this potential punishment must affect the research Fryer is now conducting – robbing his students, and the American public, of an opportunity to learn more about our most complex social problems. Harvard is not alone in this campus censoriousness. But the institution is symbolic because it is America’s foremost center of learning and research. The university has suppressed its most prominent economist and now refuses to say whether it supports diversity of thought. Donors and alumni should take note. Tyler Durden Thu, 06/02/2022 - 20:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 2nd, 2022

Greenwald: The Demented - And Selective - Game Of Instantly Blaming Political Opponents For Mass Shootings

Greenwald: The Demented - And Selective - Game Of Instantly Blaming Political Opponents For Mass Shootings Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com, At a softball field in a Washington, DC suburb on June 14, 2017, a lone gunman used a rifle to indiscriminately spray bullets at members of the House GOP who had gathered for their usual Saturday morning practice for an upcoming charity game. The then-House Majority Whip, Rep. Steven Scalise (R-LA), was shot in the hip while standing on second base and almost died, spending six weeks in the hospital and undergoing multiple surgeries. Four other people were shot, including two members of the Capitol Police who were part of Scalise's security detail, a GOP staffer, and a Tyson Foods lobbyist. “He was hunting us at that point,” Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) said of the shooter, who attempted to murder as many people as he could while standing with his rifle behind the dugout. Buffalo Police on scene at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. At least 10 people were killed after a mass shooting at the store with the shooter in police custody. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images) The shooter died after engaging the police in a shootout. He was James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old hard-core Democrat who — less than six months into the Trump presidency — had sought to kill GOP lawmakers based on his belief that Republicans were corrupt traitors, fascists, and Kremlin agents. The writings he left behind permitted little doubt that he was driven to kill by the relentless messaging he heard from his favorite cable host, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and other virulently anti-Trump pundits, about the evils of the GOP. Indeed, immediately after arriving at the softball field, he asked several witnesses whether the people gathered "were Republicans or Democrats.” A CNN examination of his life revealed that “Hodgkinson's online presence was largely defined by his politics.” In particular, “his public Facebook posts date back to 2012 and are nearly all about his support for liberal politics.” He was particularly "passionate about tax hikes on the rich and universal health care.” NBC News explained that “when he got angry about politics, it was often directed against Republicans,” and acknowledged that “Hodgkinson said his favorite TV program was 'The Rachel Maddow Show' on MSNBC.” Indeed, his media diet was a non-stop barrage of vehement animosity toward Republicans: "His favorite television shows were listed as 'Real Time with Bill Maher;' 'The Rachel Maddow Show;' 'Democracy Now!’ and other left-leaning programs.” On the Senate floor, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) divulged that Hodgkinson was an ardent supporter of his and had even “apparently volunteered” for his campaign. A Sanders supporter told The Washington Post that “he campaigned for Bernie Sanders with Hodgkinson in Iowa.” The mass-shooter had a particular fondness for Maddow's nightly MSNBC show. In his many Letters to the Editor sent to the Belleville News-Democrat, reported New York Magazine, he “expressed support for President Obama, and declared his love for The Rachel Maddow Show". In one letter he heralded Maddow's nightly program as "one of my favorite TV shows.” While consuming this strident and increasingly rage-driven Trump-era, anti-GOP media diet, Hodgkinson “joined several anti-GOP Facebook groups, including ‘Terminate The Republican Party’; 'The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans’;, and 'Join The Resistance Worldwide!!'" Two of his consuming beliefs were that Trump-era Republicans were traitors to the United States and fascist white nationalists. In 2015, he had posted a cartoon depicting Scalise — the man he came very close to murdering — as speaking at a gathering of the KKK. Once Trump was inaugurated in early 2017, the mass shooter's online messaging began increasingly mirroring the more extreme anti-Trump and anti-GOP voices that did not just condemn the GOP's ideology but depicted them as grave threats to the Republic. In a March 22 Facebook post, Hodgkinson wrote: “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co." In February, he posted: “Republicans are the Taliban of the USA.” In one Facebook post just days before his shooting spree, Hodgkinson wrote: “I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.” As NBC News put it: “Hodgkinson’s Facebook postings portray him as stridently anti-Republican and anti-Trump.” Despite the fact that Hodgkinson was a fanatical fan of Maddow, Democracy Now host Amy Goodman, and Sanders, that the ideas and ideology motivating his shooting spree perfectly matched — and were likely shaped by — liberals of that cohort, and that the enemies whom he sought to kill were also the enemies of Maddow and her liberal comrades, nobody rational or decent sought to blame the MSNBC host, the Vermont Senator or anyone else whose political views matched Hodgkinson's for the grotesque violence he unleashed. The reason for that is clear and indisputable: as strident and extremist as she is, Maddow has never once encouraged any of her followers to engage in violence to advance her ideology, nor has she even hinted that a mass murder of the Republican traitors, fascists and Kremlin agents about whom she rants on a nightly basis to millions of people is a just solution. It would be madness to try to assign moral or political blame to them. If we were to create a framework in which prominent people were held responsible for any violence carried out in the name of an ideology they advocate, then nobody would be safe, given that all ideologies have their misfits, psychopaths, unhinged personality types, and extremists. And thus there was little to no attempt to hold Maddow or Sanders responsible for the violent acts of one of their most loyal adherents. The same is true of the spate of mass shootings and killings by self-described black nationalists over the last several years. Back in 2017, the left-wing group Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) warned of the “Return of the Violent Black Nationalist.” In one incident, “Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed Dallas police officers during a peaceful protest against police brutality, killing five officers and wounding nine others.” Then, “ten days later, Gavin Eugene Long shot six officers, killing three, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.” They shared the same ideology, one which drove their murderous spree: Both Johnson and Long were reportedly motivated by their strong dislike of law enforcement, grievances against perceived white dominance, and the recent fatal police shootings of unarmed black men under questionable circumstances, specifically the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota . . . Needless to say, the ideas that motivated these two black nationalists to murder multiple people, including police officers, is part of a core ideology that is commonly heard in mainstream media venues, expressed by many if not most of the nation's most prominent liberals. Depicting the police as a white supremacist force eager to kill black people, “grievances against perceived white dominance,” and anger over “the white supremacism endemic in America’s system of governance from the country’s founding” are views that one routinely hears on MSNBC, CNN, from Democratic Party politicians, and in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Yet virtually nobody sought to blame Chris Hayes, Joy Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Jamelle Bouie or New York Times op-ed writers for these shooting sprees. Indeed, no blame was assigned to anti-police liberal pundits whose view of American history is exactly the same as that of these two killers — even though they purposely sought to murder the same enemies whom those prominent liberals target. Nobody blamed those anti-police liberals for the same reason they did not blame Maddow and Sanders for Hodgkinson's shooting spree: there is a fundamental and necessary distinction between people who use words to express ideas and demonize perceived enemies, and those who decide to go randomly and indiscriminately murder in the name of that ideology. Since that 2017 warning from the SPLC, there have been many more murders in the name of this anti-police and anti-white-supremacist ideology of black nationalism. In June of last year, the ADL said it had “linked Othal Toreyanne Resheen Wallace, the man arrested and accused of fatally shooting Daytona Beach Officer Jason Raynor on June 23, to several extremist groups preaching Black nationalism." He had “participated in several events organized by the NFAC…best known for holding armed marches protesting racial inequality and police brutality.” He had a long history of citing and following prominent radical Black anti-police and anti-White ideologues." Also in June of last year, a 25-year-old man named Noah Green drove a car into a Capitol Hill Police Officer, killing him instantly. The New York Times reported that he follows black nationalist groups, while a former college teammate “recalled that Mr. Green would often talk to fellow players about strategies to save and invest, emphasizing the need to close the wealth gap between white and Black America.” Just last month, a self-identified black nationalist named Frank James went on a terrifying shooting spree in the New York City subway system that injured dozens. He had “posted material on social media linked to black identity extremist ideologies, including the Nation of Islam, Black Panthers, Black Liberation Army, BLM and an image of black nationalist cop-killer Micah Johnson.” Angie Speaks, the brilliant writer who voices the audio version of the articles for this Substack, reported in Newsweek that James had “posted prolifically on social media and hosted a YouTube channel where he expressed Black Nationalist leanings and racial grievances." In 2019, The New York Times reported that “an assailant involved in the prolonged firefight in Jersey City, N.J., that left six people dead, including one police officer, was linked on Wednesday to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement,” and had written “anti-police posts.” Most media outlets and liberal politicians correctly refused to assign blame to pundits and politicians who spew anti-police rhetoric, or who insist that the U.S. is a nation of white supremacy: the animating ideas of these murders. Yet in these cases, they go much further with their denialism: many deny that this ideology even exists at all. “The made-up 'Black Identity Extremist' label is the latest example in a history of harassing and discrediting Black activists who dare to use their voices to call out white supremacy,” claimed the ACLU in 2019. PBS quoted a lawyer for an advocacy group as saying: “We're deeply concerned about the FBI's 'black identity extremist' designation. This is mere distraction from the very real threat of white supremacy...There is no such thing as black identity extremism.” The same year, The Intercept published an article headlined “The Strange Tale of the FBI’s Fictional ‘Black Identity Extremism' Movement,” which claimed over and over that there is no such thing as black extremism and that any attempt to ascribe violence to this ideology is a lie invented by those seeking to hide the dangers of white supremacy. It is virtually impossible to find any ideology on any part of the political spectrum that has not spawned senseless violence and mass murder by adherents. “The suspected killer of Dutch maverick politician Pim Fortuyn had environmentalist propaganda and ammunition at his home,” reported CBS News about the assassin, Volkert van der Graaf. Van der Graaf was a passionate animal rights and environmental activist who admitted “he killed the controversial right-wing leader because he considered him a danger to society.” Van der Graaf was particularly angry about what he believed was Fortuyn's anti-Muslim rhetoric. As a result, “some supporters of Fortuyn had blamed Green party leader Paul Rosenmoeller for "demonizing Fortuyn before he was gunned down in May just before general elections.” In other words, simply because the Green Party leader was highly critical of Fortuyn's ideology, some opportunistic Dutch politicians sought absurdly to blame him for Fortuyn's murder by Van der Graaf. Sound familiar? During the BLM and Antifa protests and riots of 2020, an Antifa supporter, Michael Reinoehl, was the leading suspect in the murder of a Trump supporter, Aaron J. Danielson, as he rode in a truck (Reinoehl himself was then killed by federal agents before being arrested in what appeared to be a deliberate extra-judicial execution, though an investigation cleared them of wrongdoing, as typically happens when federal agents are involved). In 2016, The New York Times reported that “the heavily armed sniper who gunned down police officers in downtown Dallas, leaving five of them dead, specifically set out to kill as many white officers as he could, officials said Friday.” The Paper of Record noted that many believed that anti-police protests would eventually lead to violent attacks on police officers: it “was the kind of retaliatory violence that people have feared through two years of protests around the country against deaths in police custody.” Then there are the murders carried out in the name of various religions. For the last three decades at least, debates have been raging about what level of responsibility, if any, should be assigned to radical Muslim preachers or Muslim politicians when individuals carry out atrocities and murders in the name of Islam. Liberals insist — correctly, in my view — that it is irresponsible and unfair to blame non-violent Muslims who preach radical versions of religious or political Islam for those who carry out violence in the name of those doctrines. Similar debates are heard with regard to Jewish extremists, such as the Israeli-American doctor Baruch Goldstein who “opened fire in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, killing 29 Muslim worshippers.” Many insist that the radical anti-Muslim speech of Israeli extremists is to blame, while others deny that there is any such thing as “Jewish terrorism” and that all blames lies solely with the individual who decided to resort to violence. To be sure, there have been a large number of murders and other atrocities carried out in U.S. and the West generally in the name of right-wing ideologies, in the name of white supremacy, in the name of white nationalism. The difference, though, is glaring: when murders are carried out in the name of liberal ideology, there is a rational and restrained refusal to blame liberal pundits and politicians who advocate the ideology that animated those killings. Yet when killings are carried out in the name of right-wing ideologies despised by the corporate press and mainstream pundits (or ideologies that they falsely associate with conservatism), they instantly leap to lay blame at the feet of their conservative political opponents who, despite never having advocated or even implied the need for violence, are nonetheless accused of bearing guilt for the violence — often before anything is known about the killers or their motives. In general, it is widely understood that liberal pundits and politicians are not to blame, at all, when murders are carried out in the name of the causes they support or against the enemies they routinely condemn. That is because, in such cases, we apply the rational framework that someone who does not advocate violence is not responsible for the violent acts of one's followers and fans who kill in the name of that person's ideas. Indeed, this perfectly sensible principle was enshrined by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1982 unanimous free speech ruling in Claiborne v. NAACP. That case arose out of efforts by the State of Mississippi to hold leaders of the local NAACP chapter legally liable for violence carried out by NAACP members on the ground that the leaders’ inflammatory and rage-driven speeches had “incited” and “provoked” their followers to burn white-owned stores and other stores ignoring their boycott to the ground. In ruling in favor of the NAACP, the Court stressed the crucial difference between those who peacefully advocate ideas and ideologies, even if they do so with virulence and anger (such as NAACP leaders), and those who are “inspired” by those speeches to commit violence to advance that cause. “To impose liability without a finding that the NAACP authorized — either actually or apparently — or ratified unlawful conduct would impermissibly burden the rights of political association that are protected by the First Amendment,” ruled the Court. This principle is not only a jurisprudential or constitutional one. It is also a rational one. Those who express ideas without advocating violence are not and cannot fairly be held responsible for those who decide to pick up arms in the name of those ideas, even if — as in the case of James Hodgkinson — we know for certain that the murderer listened closely to and was influenced by people like Rachel Maddow and Bernie Sanders. In such cases, we understand that it is madness, and deeply unfair, to exploit heinous murders to lay blame for the violence and killings on the doorsteps of our political adversaries. But when a revolting murder spree is carried out in the name of right-wing ideas (or ideas perceived by the corporate press to be right-wing), everything changes — instantly and completely. In such cases, often before anything is known about the murderer — indeed, literally before the corpses are even removed from the ground where they lie — there is a coordinated effort to declare that anyone who holds any views in common with the murderer has “blood on their hands” and is essentially a co-conspirator in the massacre. A very vivid and particularly gruesome display of this demented game was on display on Saturday night after a white 18-year-old, Payton Gendron, purposely targeted a part of Buffalo with a substantial black population. He entered a supermarket he knew was frequented largely by black customers and shot everyone he found, killing 10 people, most of them black. A lengthy, 180-page manifesto he left behind was filled with a wide variety of eclectic political views and ideologies. In that manifesto, Gendron described himself as a "left-wing authoritarian” and “populist” (“On the political compass I fall in the mild-moderate authoritarian left category, and I would prefer to be called a populist”). He heaped praise on an article in the socialist magazine Jacobin for its view that cryptocurrency and Bitcoin are fraudulent scams. He spoke passionately of the centrality and necessity of environmentalism, and lamented that “the state [has] long since heavily lost to its corporate backers.” He ranted against “corporate profits and the ever increasing wealth of the 1% that exploit the people for their own benefit.” And he not only vehemently rejected any admiration for political conservatism but made clear that he viewed it as an enemy to his agenda: “conservatism is corporatism in disguise, I want no part of it.” But by far the overarching and dominant theme of his worldview — the ideology that he repeatedly emphasized was the animating cause of his murder spree — was his anger and fear that white people, which he defines as those of European descent, were being eradicated by a combination of low birth rates and mass immigration. He repeatedly self-identified as a "racist” and expressed admiration for fascism as a solution. His treatise borrowed heavily from, and at times outright plagiarized, large sections of the manifesto left behind by Brenton Tarrant, the 29-year-old Australian who in 2019 murdered 51 people, mostly Muslims, at two mosques in New Zealand. Gendron's manifesto included a long list of websites and individuals who influenced his thinking, but made clear that it was Tarrant who was his primary inspiration. Other than extensive anti-Semitic sections which insisted that Jews are behind most of the world's powerful institutions and accompanying problems, it was Tarrant's deep concern about what he perceived is the disappearance of white people that was also Gendron's principal cause: If there’s one thing I want you to get from these writings, it’s that White birth rates must change. Everyday the White population becomes fewer in number. To maintain a population the people must achieve a birth rate that reaches replacement fertility levels, in the western world that is about 2.06 births per woman…. In 2050, despite the ongoing effect of sub-replacement fertility, the population figures show that the population does not decrease inline with the sub-replacement fertility levels, but actually maintains and, even in many White nations, rapidly increases. All through immigration. This is ethnic replacement. This is cultural replacement. This is racial replacement. This is WHITE GENOCIDE. Within literally an hour of the news of this murder spree in Buffalo — far too little time for anyone to have even carefully read all or most of Gendron's manifesto, and with very little known about his life or activities — much of the corporate press and liberal pundit class united to reveal the real culprit, the actual guilty party, behind this murder spree: Fox News host Tucker Carlson. So immediate and unified was this guilty verdict of mob justice that Carlson's name trended all night on Twitter along with Buffalo and Gendron. Twitter trending topics, May 14, 2022 The examples of liberal pundits instantly blaming Carlson for this murder are far too numerous to comprehensively cite. “Literally everyone warned Fox News and Tucker Carlson that this would happen and they fucking laughed and went harder,” decreed Andrew Lawrence of the incomparably sleazy and dishonest group Media Matters, spawned by ultimate sleaze-merchant David Brock. “The Buffalo shooter… subscribed to the Great Replacement theory touted by conservative elites like Tucker Carlson and believed by nearly half of GOP voters,” claimed The Washington Post's Emmanuel Felton. “See if you can tell the difference between [Gerdon's manifesto on 'white Replacement’] and standard fare on the Tucker Carlson show,” said Georgetown Professor Don Moynihan. “The racist massacre in Buffalo rest [sic] at the feet of Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson, and the GOP,” decreed Hollywood's nepotism prince Rob Reiner. The shooter was inspired by “a white nationalist conspiracy theory that Tucker Carlson has defended on his show,” was the verdict of The Huffington Post's Philip Lewis less than six hours after the shooting spree began. And on and on. That Carlson was primarily responsible for the ten dead people in Buffalo was asserted despite the fact that there was no indication that Gendron even knew who Carlson was, that he had ever watched his show, that he was influenced by him in any way, or that he admired or even liked the Fox host. Indeed, in the long list of people and places which Gendron cited as important influences on him — “Brenton Tarrant, [El Paso shooter] Patrick Crusius, [California Jewish community center killer], John Earnest, [Norwegian mass murderer] Anders Breivik, [Charleston black church murderer] Dylann Roof, etc.” — nowhere does he even allude to let alone mention any Fox News host or Carlson. To the contrary, Gendron explicitly describes his contempt for political conservatism. In a section entitled “CONSERVATISM IS DEAD, THANK GOD,” he wrote: "Not a thing has been conserved other than corporate profits and the ever increasing wealth of the 1% that exploit the people for their own benefit. Conservatism is dead. Thank god. Now let us bury it and move on to something of worth.” In this hated of conservatism, he copied his hero Brenton Tarrant, who also wrote that “conservatism is corporatism in disguise, I want no part of it,” adding about conservatives: They don’t even BELIEVE in the race, they don’t even have the gall to say race exists. And above all they don’t even care if it does. It’s profit, and profit alone that drives them, all else is secondary. The notion of a racial future or destiny is as foreign to them as social responsibilities. So desperate and uncontrolled was this ghoulish attempt to blame Carlson for the Buffalo shootings that my email inbox and social media feeds were festering with various liberal pundits demanding to know why I had not yet manifested my views of this shooting — as though it is advisable or even possible to formulate definitive opinions about a complex mass murder spree that had just taken place less than five hours before. “Still working on your talking points to defend your buddy Tucker or are you holding off on trying out your deflections until the bodies get cold?,” wrote a pundit named Jonathan Katz at 6:46 pm ET on Saturday night in a highly representative demand — just four hours after the shooter fired his first shot. Demands to assert definitive opinions about who — other than the killer — is to blame for a mass murder spree just hours after it happened can be called many things; "journalistic” and "responsible” are not among them. As it happened, I was on an overnight international flight on Saturday and into Sunday morning; I deeply apologize for my failure to monitor and speak on Twitter twenty-four hours a day. But even if I had not been 40,000 feet in the air, what kind of primitive and despicably opportunistic mindset is required not only to opine so definitively about how your political opponents are guilty of a heinous crime before the corpses are even taken away, but to demand that everyone else do so as well? In fact, Katz was particularly adamant that I opine not just on the killings but on the list of pundits I thought should be declared guilty before, in his soulless words, “the bodies get cold” — meaning that I must speak out without bothering to take the time to try to understand the basic facts about the killer and the shootings before heaping blame on a wide range of people who had no apparent involvement. But this is exactly the morally sick and exploitative liberal mentality that drives the discourse each time one of these shooting sprees happen. Rachel Maddow had far more known connections to Scalise's shooter James Hodgkinson than Carlson has to Gendron. After all, as Maddow herself acknowledged, Hodgkinson was a fan of her show and had expressed his love and admiration for her. His animating views and ideology tracked hers perfectly, with essentially no deviation. And yet — despite this ample evidence that he was influenced by her — it would never occur to me to blame Maddow for Hodgkinson's shooting spree because doing so would be completely demented, since Maddow never told or suggested to anyone that they go out and shoot the political enemies she was depicting as traitors, Kremlin agents, plotters to overthrow American democracy and replace it with a fascist dictatorship, and grave menaces to civil rights and basic freedom. The attempt to blame Carlson for the Buffalo shootings depended entirely on one claim: Carlson has previously talked about and defended the view that immigration is a scheme to “replace” Americans, and this same view was central to Gendron's ideology. Again, even if this were true, it would amount to nothing more than a claim than the shooter shared key views with Carlson and other conservative pundits — exactly as Hodgkinson shared core views with Maddow and Sanders, or the numerous murderers who killed in the name of black nationalism shared the same views on the police and American history as any number of MSNBC hosts and Democratic Party politicians, or as Pim Fortuyn's killer shared core views with animal rights activists and defenders of Muslim equality (including me). But nobody is willing to apply such a framework consistently because it converts everyone with strong political views into murderers, or at least being guilty of inciting murder. But all bets are off — all such principles or moral and logical reasoning are dispensed with — when an act of violence can be pinned on the political enemies of liberals. If a homicidal maniac kills an abortion doctor, then all peaceful pro-life activists are blamed. If an LGBT citizen is killed, then anyone who shares the views that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had until 2012 about marriage equality is blamed. If a police officer unjustifiably kills a black citizen, all police supporters or those who dissent from liberal orthodoxy on racial politics are decreed guilty. But liberals are never at fault when right-wing politicians are murdered, or police officers are hunted and gunned down by police opponents, or an anti-abortion group is targeted with firebombing and arson, as just happened in Wisconsin, or radical Muslims engage in random acts of violence. By definition, "moral reasoning" that is applied only in one direction has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with crass, exploitative opportunism. Though it does not actually matter for purposes of assigning blame, it is utterly false to claim that Carlson's ideology — including on “replacement” — is the same as or even related to the views expressed by the killers in Buffalo or New Zealand. Indeed, in key respects, they are opposites. Both Tarrant and Gendron targeted citizens of the countries in which they carried out their murder spree. They justified doing so on the ground that any non-white citizen is automatically an "invader," regardless of how long they have been in the country or how much legal status they have. “It would have eased me if I knew all the blacks I would be killing were criminals or future criminals, but then I realized all black people are replacers just by existing in White countries,” Gendron wrote. To claim that Carlson ever said anything remotely like this or believes it is just an outright lie. Indeed, with great frequency, Carlson says that the priority of the U.S. Government should be protection of and concern for American citizens of all races. Tarrant and Gendron believe and explicitly say that any non-white citizen of a European country is automatically an “invader” who must be killed and/or deported to turn the country all-white. Carlson believes the exact opposite: that the proper citizenry of the United States is multi-racial and that Black Americans and Latin Americans and Asian-Americans are every bit as much U.S. citizens, with all of the same claims to rights and protections, as every other American citizen. His anti-immigration and "replacement” argument is aimed at the idea — one that had been long mainstream on the left until about a decade ago — that large, uncontrolled immigration harms American citizens who are already here. There is no racial hierarchy in Carlson's view of American citizenship and to claim that there is is nothing short of a defamatory lie. But even if these liberal smear artists were telling the truth, and Carlson's view of immigration and “replacement” were similar or even precisely identical to Gendron's, one could certainly say that Carlson holds immoral and despicable views. But he would still no more carry blame for the Buffalo murders than liberal pundits have blood on their hands for countless massacres carried out in the name of political causes they support and theories they espouse, whether it be animus toward the police or anti-imperialism or opposition to Israeli occupation of the West Bank or the belief that the United States is a fundamentally racist country or the view that the GOP is a fascist menace to all things decent. The distinction between peaceful advocacy even of noxious ideas and those who engage in violence in the name of such ideas is fundamental to notions of fairness, justice and the ability to speak freely. But if you really want to claim that a public figure has "blood on their hands" every time someone murders in the name of ideas and ideologies they support, then the list of people you should be accusing of murder is a very, very long one indeed. To support the independent journalism we are doing here, please subscribe, obtain a gift subscription for others and/or share the article Tyler Durden Sun, 05/15/2022 - 18:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 15th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

Exclusive: Russia-linked smear campaign against Hunter Biden began earlier than previously thought

A former KGB agent handed off a thumb drive with disinfo about Hunter Biden to a Trump official at a Claremont Institute gala. WASHINGTON, DC April 18, 2022: Hunter Biden during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn on April 18, 2022..Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesA former KGB agent handed a thumb drive with Hunter Biden disinformation to an aide for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a gala event in May 2019.The former KGB agent also presented the same disinformation to Justice Department officials in January 2019.The presentation marks the earliest known instance of a Russia-linked source pushing allegations about Hunter Biden and Burisma.A thumb drive handed by a foreign national to an aide traveling with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2019 suggests that efforts by Russia-linked actors to influence the 2020 US presidential election with Hunter Biden disinformation began earlier and were broader in scope than has previously been reported.According to two sources with direct knowledge of the incident, a thumb drive containing poorly sourced allegations about Hunter Biden and his work for Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, was thrust into the hands of one of Pompeo's aides at the conservative Claremont Institute's 40th anniversary gala in Beverly Hills on May 11, 2019. The man pushing the thumb drive was a citizen of an Eastern European country and a guest of Claremont. He was also, for a time, an FBI confidential informant, with the code name "Rollie." His true name is known to Business Insider, which is only identifying him as Rollie in order to protect sources who provided information for this story.Rollie, on the other hand, seemed unconcerned about potential exposure. At first, he denied knowing anything about Pompeo when contacted by Business Insider. But when BI sent him a photo of him at the gala with Pompeo, he admitted that he had been there. "You can publish," he wrote. "It's advertising for me."Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with "Rollie," a former KGB agent, at a Claremont Institute gala on May 11, 2019. That evening, Rollie passed a thumb drive containing disinformation about Hunter Biden and Burisma to a Pompeo aide.Photo obtained by BIRollie told associates and confirmed to Business Insider that he had once served in the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency, before swearing loyalty to the country where he now resides. The thumb drive that Rollie gave Pompeo's aide contained some of the same material that Rollie had presented weeks earlier, in January 2019, in a briefing to Justice Department officials in Los Angeles."I'm not interested in the past," Rollie said when asked over WhatsApp about the briefing. He denied that he gave anyone a thumb drive at the Claremont Institute event.Business Insider has obtained a copy of slides that accompanied Rollie's January 2019 presentation. They accuse Hunter Biden and his business associates of engaging in money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud. Rollie's slides offer a labyrinthine wire chart, clippings from old news articles, and a potpourri of links including various Ukrainian and Russian websites. President Biden's first name is repeatedly misspelled as "Josef." They contain no evidence of criminal activity.Nevertheless, according to a disclosure prepared by FBI whistleblower Johnathan Buma, Rollie's handler, the material was taken seriously enough to be passed on to FBI agents in Delaware who were investigating Hunter Biden. Also included were some Ukrainian-language backup materials which Business Insider has not reviewed. Rollie confirmed to Business Insider that he had prior contact with the FBI.The Rollie presentation sheds new light on the timeline of efforts by Russia and by operatives for Donald Trump to seed allegations about Joe Biden's relationship to Burisma with the media and government authorities. While questions about the propriety of Hunter's lucrative Burisma work in Ukraine were raised by the New York Times as early as 2015, and explored in a 2018 book by conservative author Peter Schweizer, they didn't explode into the forefront of the political conversation until March 2019. It was during that month that Rudy Giuliani gave Pompeo a folder of Hunter Biden material that he obtained from Ukraine, and right-wing investigative reporter John Solomon began publishing a series of columns about Hunter Biden and Burisma in The Hill. One month later, in April 2019, Hunter abandoned his laptop at a Delaware repair shop, eventually leading to a wave of revelations in October 2020 that included information about his business dealings in Ukraine.The Hunter-Burisma material that was presented in January 2019, and again on the thumb drive given to Pompeo's aide in May 2019, appears to be the earliest known case of Burisma-related disinformation of foreign origin being ingested and apparently taken seriously by members of the US intelligence community. It also suggests a third channel of 2020 disinformation moving from East to West, one that is separate from the previously known efforts that went through Giuliani and Alexander Smirnov, another FBI informant with ties to Russia and Eastern Europe. Smirnov was indicted last week for lying to the FBI about Hunter Biden. Prosecutors have claimed in court filings that Smirnov has extensive ties to Russian intelligence.It's easy to see why Hunter Biden's critics have focused on Burisma. The energy company paid Biden around $600,000 a year during a period that overlapped with his father's vice presidency. It's unclear what the company got for their money beyond the ability to brag about an indirect line into the White House. But almost five years after his departure from the board, Hunter Biden was never charged with any wrongdoing for his Burisma service. Instead, Special Counsel David Weiss has indicted Hunter for tax evasion and lying on a form to purchase a firearm.The revelation about Rollie's thumb drive comes shortly after the indictment of Smirnov, for allegedly making false statements about Hunter Biden in June 2020. Like Smirnov, Rollie's materials accuse Hunter Biden of involving his father in Burisma's business and committing a vast off-the-books fraud. Smirnov's alleged lies included the allegation that Burisma officials paid a $5 million bribe to Joe Biden, and were memorialized in an FBI form 1023, which records raw reporting from confidential sources, that was circulated by GOP Sen. Charles Grassley. The thumb drive incident raises further questions about the ease with which foreign actors can obtain access to the highest levels of the US government and then pass off rubbish as legitimate intelligence.A spokesperson for Pompeo did not respond to repeated requests for comment. There is no evidence to suggest that Pompeo or his aide did anything with the material on the thumb drive after receiving it.A former State Department official who served under Pompeo told BI that it was not unusual for officials to receive random material from people they meet at social events, and that there was a process in place for handing such materials off to in-house experts for evaluation.Business Insider reached out to the Claremont Institute, which was responsible for vetting the gala guest list, on Thursday and did not immediately receive a reply. After 2016, the Claremont Institute drifted from traditional conservative politics into more extreme territory. It granted a fellowship to MAGA troublemaker Jack Posobiec, who has used his online platform to spread conspiracy theories, and served as an organizing hub for the backlash to DEI initiatives in higher education.The FBI, the Justice Department, and a lawyer representing Buma did not immediately return requests for comment sent after hours.With reporting by Anastasiia Carrier.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nyt2 hr. 30 min. ago

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Sending National Guard To Border "Warzone"

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Sending National Guard To Border 'Warzone' Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (Emphasis ours), South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has ordered the state’s National Guard troops to deploy to the southern border to help Texas deal with record-shattering waves of illegal immigration. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the National Rifle Association annual convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas on May 27, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images) Ms. Noem, a Republican, said that 60 South Dakota National Guard soldiers will deploy to the U.S.-Mexico border later this spring, on a rolling basis over a period of three months. “The border in a warzone, so we’re sending soldiers,” Ms. Noem said in a Feb. 20 statement. South Dakota was the first state to deploy National Guard troops in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s call two-and-a-half years ago for help securing the border. Ms. Noem said the National Guard troops will assist with construction of a border wall. “These soldiers’ primary mission will be construction of a wall to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, drug cartels, and human trafficking into the United States of America,” she said. The newly announced deployment will be South Dakota’s fifth since Mr. Abbott issued the call for help. “Texas—with the support of America’s Governors—will fight to do the job Biden refuses to do,” Mr. Abbott said in a post on X, in which he noted that the U.S. Constitution gives states the right to “secure our borders against invasion.” Amid a surge in illegal immigration, Mr. Abbott in September declared an “invasion” at the southern border. He then ordered the Texas National Guard and state law enforcement agencies to secure the border, including by setting up razor wire and marine barriers. The Biden administration sued Texas, leading the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that federal agents could remove the razor wire. It’s estimated that over 10 million illegal immigrants have crossed the border since President Joe Biden took office. Texas Fights Back Texas officially started building its own state-funded border wall in December 2021, when Mr. Abbott alleged that President Joe Biden “refuses to enforce laws passed by Congress to secure the border and enforce immigration laws” and so “Texas is stepping up to do the federal government’s job.” That came after President Biden signed an executive order scrapping federal construction of a border wall, a signature project of former President Donald Trump. In a proclamation on Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden called the wall a “waste of money that diverts attention from genuine threats to our homeland security.” Following President Biden’s decision to axe the wall, Mr. Abbott announced he would seek funding for his state to build its own border barrier, which came as the influx of illegal immigrants into Texas swelled to near-record proportions. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses former President Donald Trump during a border security briefing to discuss further plans in securing the southern border wall in Weslaco, Texas, on June 30, 2021. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images) Roughly 450 miles of the larger border wall were built under President Trump, a project that was criticized by President Biden, though an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo contradicted this view, finding that physical barriers  are the most cost-effective tool to deter illegal border-crossing activity. President Biden has taken a dim view of his predecessor’s vision for a grand barrier, pledging while still a presidential candidate in 2020 that “there will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration.” On the day that he took office, President Biden issued a proclamation that rescinded the national emergency declaration that President Trump had relied on to divert some $10 billion from Pentagon coffers to border wall construction. The Biden administration later quietly auctioned off millions of dollars of border wall materials, for which it faced sharp criticism from Republican circles. Texas builds its own border wall in its effort to secure the border. (Courtesy Office of Greg Abbott) Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) sponsored a bill in May 2023 that would force the Pentagon to allow millions of dollars worth on unused border wall parts to be used to extend the wall in Texas and elsewhere along the southern border. Mr. Wicker’s legislative proposal (pdf) came after an investigation by the Armed Services Committee found that the Pentagon was spending $47 million per year to store the wall panels and other elements. Amid reports that the Biden administration was busy selling off border wall parts rather than allowing them to be used to build more barrier, Mr. Wicker called the development “outrageous, behind-the-scenes maneuvering.” “This sale is a wasteful and ludicrous decision by the Biden administration that only serves as further proof they have no shame,” he told The New York Post. In October 2013, the Biden administration did an about-face of sorts, waiving 26 federal laws in South Texas to allow for the construction of another 20 miles of border wall. President Biden explained at the time that the reason for resuming border wall construction was because the money had already been appropriated and attempts to redirect the funds to other projects failed. “There’s nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what it was appropriated for. I can’t stop that,” President Biden said at the time. Asked by reporters if he thought border wall was effective, he replied “no.” President Joe Biden speaks about the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 16, 2024. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP) A coalition of 27 states has formed to support Texas’s right to defend itself after the Supreme Court ruled that federal agents can remove the razor wire put up by Texas to prevent the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico. Other States Send Troops A handful of other states have sent National Guard troops to Texas to bolster local efforts to secure the southern border amid the Lone Star State’s ongoing dispute with the Biden administration over border security. In a recent move, Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican, said on Feb. 8 that his state would send 150 National Guard troops, who would work in three 50-man rotations, for a 90-day deployment to Texas. “Because the president will not do his job, because the federal government will not act, because Congress refuses to put in place a solid immigration plan that protects this country and allows people to come in and out of this country the way that it’s been done since the beginning, then the states are going to act,” he said at a press conference in Baton Rouge. Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry speaks during the start of the special session in the House chamber in Baton Rouge, La., on Jan. 15, 2024. (Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP, Pool) The deployment—scheduled for March at a cost of roughly $3 million—is needed to help Texas tackle issues such as cross-border human trafficking and the fentanyl crisis, he said. “There are 125,000 Americans that we are losing on an annual basis due to this crisis,” Mr. Landry said, citing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent announcement that 30,000 pounds of fentanyl had been seized at the border in Texas. “That’s enough to kill almost everyone in the country,” he said. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced plans to deploy even more National Guard, State Guard, and Highway Patrol officers to assist Texas in securing its southern border. “If we don’t have a border, then we are not a sovereign country,” Mr. DeSantis said in Jacksonville, Florida, on Feb. 1. “You either have a border, or you don’t. You’re either a sovereign country, or you’re not. Florida has been helping Texas secure its border since 2021, and has deployed more than 700 members of the state’s National Guard. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said on Feb. 9 that he had ordered the deployment of 50 Indiana National Guard troops to Texas to assist with border security efforts. “I am sending 50 #Hoosier Guardsmen to the southern border to support the Texas National Guard on their security mission,” Mr. Holcomb wrote in a social media post on the morning of Feb. 9. “These soldiers will begin mobilizing for the mission immediately and will arrive in Texas in mid-March.” Tyler Durden Wed, 02/21/2024 - 21:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytFeb 21st, 2024

14 Most Memorable Joe Biden Speeches

While President Joe Biden hasn’t yet completed his first term as president, the position comes with plenty of opportunities for memorable public appearances. This includes both inspiring speeches and embarrassing gaffes. While Biden is relatively new to the position, he is not new to politics. He has held an elected position in the United States […] The post 14 Most Memorable Joe Biden Speeches appeared first on 24/7 Wall St.. While President Joe Biden hasn’t yet completed his first term as president, the position comes with plenty of opportunities for memorable public appearances. This includes both inspiring speeches and embarrassing gaffes. While Biden is relatively new to the position, he is not new to politics. He has held an elected position in the United States for decades. But what are his most memorable speeches? Which ones will he be known for a hundred years from now? Nobody can say, but we can list his most memorable speeches so far and hope that there are more to come. Here are 14 of President Joe Biden’s most memorable speeches. #1 Inauguration Speech Democratic Presidential Debate. Joe Biden’s inaugural address was 2,514 words long and took 21 minutes to complete. Interestingly enough, like most previous inaugural addresses, it started when President Trump had seven minutes left in his term and passed into the first few minutes of Biden’s term. Every inaugural address is an opportunity for the incoming president to lay out their plan for their presidency and set the tone for their time in office. Anything they do or say after this moment will be compared to what they promised in their first presidential speech. Biden took office during a time of unprecedented political division and cultural upheaval. The New York Times called this speech a “direct rebuttal” to Trump’s inaugural address. Biden focused on the struggles that Americans were facing at the time and highlighted times of American strength in the past. He promised to “fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did”. #2 January 6 Anniversary Speech Joe Biden in 2021. According to the Washington Post, this is the best speech of Biden’s presidency. On the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s attack on the capitol on January 6, 2021, Biden addressed the nation on what was sure to be a tense day. While the focus was on the previous president’s actions and “web of lies”, Biden did not mention his predecessor by name. He highlighted the need for unity and constant effort to maintain a country we all want to live in. Notable lines in this speech include “With rights come responsibilities”, and “You cannot love your country only when you win”. #3 Oval Office Address Regarding Support for Ukraine and Israel Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center July 14, 2020. In October of 2022, President Biden called for more financial aid for Israel and Ukraine and urged Americans to stand in support of both nations. While the content of this speech has aged like milk while Israel’s genocide against Palestine continues into 2024, at the time it was regarded as one of his finest and most presidential speeches, and one of only two the president had delivered from his desk in the oval office. Even Fox News praised the speech, calling it one of the best of his speeches ever. Bret Baier of Fox News said, “I think it may be remembered as one of the best, if not the best, speeches of his presidency, […] He was firm, he was unequivocal, he was strong…” #4 Speech on the U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Joe Biden Accepts Party’s Nomination For President In Delaware During Virtual DNC. This speech is memorable not so much for the content or its impact, but for what it represents: an end to the United States’ aggression and occupation in Afghanistan. The day after U.S. troops left Afghanistan, Biden addressed the nation and called the evacuation an “extraordinary success.” He defended U.S. involvement in the nation and his decision to leave the country in the hands of the Taliban. The speech signaled the end of twenty years of military involvement in the country, the longest war in United States history. Whether the evacuation proves to be a blunder of historic proportions, or a step in the right direction, only time will tell, but this speech stands at a turning point in Afghanistan’s history. #5 2022 White House Correspondents’ Dinner Speech Presidential Nominee Joe Biden Holds Train Campaign Tour. The 2022 White House Correspondents’ Dinner was significant because it was the first dinner held after the start of the 2019 pandemic, and marked the return of the president after Donald Trump refused to attend any of the dinners during his presidency because it was “so boring, and so negative”. This was the first dinner since 2016 that a president attended.  During his speech, Biden seized the opportunity to poke fun at himself and roast his predecessor. Memorable lines from this speech include: “We had a horrible plague followed by two years of Covid,” and “If you’re at home watching this and you’re wondering how to do that, just contact your favorite Fox News reporter. They’re all here. Vaccinated and boosted. All of them.” #6 October 23 Speech to Combat COVID Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Debate In Atlanta, Georgia. On October 23, 2020, Biden gave a speech detailing his plan to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. While a necessary speech, the reason this speech resonated with people was because it highlighted the struggles that certain demographics were suffering at higher rates than affluent and white groups. In one refreshing part, Biden said “Imagine if you’re a member of a community that has been hit particularly hard, black, Latino, Asian Americans, or Native Americans. Imagine a public health and economic response that treats your needs as a priority, not as an afterthought.” #7 May 2015 Speech to Yale Graduates A Gun Safety Forum In Des Moines. On May 17, 2015, Vice President Biden addressed the graduating class of Yale and advised them to be willing to look foolish as long as they’re doing what matters to them.  The focus of this speech was on the 1972 car crash that claimed the lives of Biden’s wife and infant daughter and injured his sons Beau and Hunter.   Among the most memorable parts of the speech is when the Vice President said, “It’s not all that difficult, folks, to be compassionate when you’ve been the beneficiary of compassion in your lowest moments […] because when you know how much it meant to you, you know how much it mattered, […] It’s not hard to be compassionate.” #8 1994 Senate Floor Speech on Crime Joe Biden Speaks With Veterans In Florida. Much of the strongest criticism of Biden’s presidency focuses on his legislative history while serving in the Senate, his stance on crime and association with racist groups, and his support of laws that negatively impacted minorities. Among the most notable and memorable of his stances can be seen in this speech to the Senate.  In this speech, Biden likened himself to President Nixon and called to “lock the S.O.B.s up”, referring to those who commit crime in the United States, highlighting his lack of empathy and understanding of crime in America. Biden continued to side with hardline Republicans on issues of crime and police. #9 President-elect Victory Speech Joe Biden Delivers Economic Policy Speech In Scranton, PA. In an optimistic speech, ignorant of the storm of political and legal nonsense his predecessor would continue to create, President-elect Biden called for cooperation and healing. It was refreshing to hear the president say he would “spare no effort […] to turn around this pandemic,” after the previous administration refused to take it seriously. #10 2022 Speech in Warsaw Addressing Russian Aggression Joe Biden Speaks On His Economic Recovery Plan in Delaware. On March 26, 2022, President Bien addressed the world from Warsaw, Poland a month after Russia invaded Ukraine. The speech focused on the fight between democracy and autocracy and NATO’s obligation to defend itself.  The most divisive and memorable line from this speech was when Biden said “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Several world leaders disapproved of the statement. It was revealed later that Biden had improvised the line, and it was not part of the original written speech. For everyone else, however, it was refreshing to hear a world leader call out the need for Putin to be removed. #11 2012 Speech on Grief President Biden Delivers Remarks On Economic Growth, Jobs, And Deficit Reduction. In this speech, given to family and friends of military members who had died, Biden gave a candid account of his feelings while dealing with grief and loss. At the time he was mourning the loss of his 46-year-old son Beau. There are many emotional and impactful lines in this speech. Among them is this quote: “For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. I realized someone could go out — and I probably shouldn’t say this with the press here, but you’re more important — I realized how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide. Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts. Because they’d been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they’d never get there again, that it was never going to get — never going to be that way ever again.” #12 Keynote Speech on the 56th Anniversary of the Bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church Joe Biden at the Fourth of July Iowa Cubs game at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa. Citizens around the country praised this speech as one of Biden’s most significant ever as he condemned racism, called for action, and said that silence in the face of hatred is complicity. While highlighting recent acts of violent white supremacy, Biden said that “violence does not live in the past.” Biden also said, “There can be no realization of the American Dream without grappling with the original sin of slavery,” and “The domestic terrorism of white supremacy has been the antagonist of our highest ideals from before the founding of this country,” #13 Remarks on School Shooting in Uvalde, Texas The sun sets behind the memorial for the victims of the massacre at Robb Elementary School on August 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. On May 24, 2022, President Biden echoed the frustration and anger of millions of Americans when he called for reform to gun laws in the United States.  Biden announced “Let me be clear about something. If this Congress refuses to act, we need a new Congress.” He continued to say, “We will ban assault weapons in this country. We will ban multi-round magazines. We will hold gun makers liable. We will beat the gun industry.” Time will tell whether he lives up to his promise while innocent people continue to die. #14 January 6th Third Anniversary Speech Joe Biden, on stage at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival to end extreme poverty by 2030. In January of 2024, Joe Biden launched his reelection campaign and began with what many political followers call his best speech ever. Biden attacked his predecessor, and likely presidential opponent in a fiery and direct speech meant to set the tone for the upcoming election season. If Biden can continue with the passion and directness of this speech for the year, he is sure to be the candidate to beat in November. Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. The post 14 Most Memorable Joe Biden Speeches appeared first on 24/7 Wall St.......»»

Category: blogSource: 247wallstFeb 20th, 2024

Medicine Now Diagnoses The Non-White "Oppressed" With An Oppressive Case Of "Weathering"

Medicine Now Diagnoses The Non-White 'Oppressed' With An Oppressive Case Of 'Weathering' Authored by John Murawski via RealClear Wire, In 1986, an upstart public health researcher named Arline Geronimus challenged the conventional wisdom that condemned the alarming rise of inner-city teen pregnancies. While activist minister Jesse Jackson and health care leaders were decrying the crisis of “babies having babies” as a ghetto pathology, Geronimus contended that teenage pregnancy was a rational response to urban poverty where low-income black people have fewer healthy years before the onset of heart problems, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Although Geronimus’ claims gained little traction at the time, the concept she pioneered – “weathering” – eventually became a foundation for the social justice ideology that is now upending medicine and social policy. She has stated in interviews and in her writings that the term “weathering” was intended to evoke the idea of erosion and resilience. A white professor at the University of Michigan whom The New York Times hailed last year as an “icon,” Geronimus has combined race theory with data and statistics to argue that the chronic stress of living in an oppressive, white-majority society causes damage at the cellular level and leads to obesity and other health conditions, resulting in shorter life expectancies for African Americans. In more than 130 published studies, she has expanded the weathering hypothesis from an explanation of poverty harming one’s health into a dystopian sociological worldview that identifies middle-class assimilation and professional striving within the “American Creed” of hard work as the silent killers of people of color. “Living life according to the dominant social norms of personal responsibility and virtue is not universally health promoting,” Geronimus wrote in a Harvard Public Health essay last year. “On the contrary: if you’re Black, working hard and playing by the rules can be part of what kills you.” The subject of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and thousands of citations, the weathering hypothesis is now widely taught in public health schools and accepted as perhaps the most plausible scientific explanation of how American society grinds down black and brown bodies. And the weathering paradox – that “relatively young people can be biologically old” – is now influencing policy decisions at all levels of governance. Geronimus’ hypothesis was the foundation of many of the policy decisions of the White House COVID-19 health equity task force. In New Hampshire, the governor’s COVID-19 Equity Response Team issued a report and recommendations in 2020, citing weathering (and “racial battle fatigue”) as documented and established realities of American life. Weathering was recently extended beyond American people of color and accepted as evidence in federal courts to win early release of non-white detainees, some as young as their 30s, who were deemed to be prematurely aged and therefore at higher risk for COVID complications. Some critics are beginning to push back against what they see as the heavy-handed, COVID-era politicization of healthcare. Ian Kingsbury, research director at Do No Harm, a nonprofit that seeks to keep identity politics out of medicine, said the uncritical acceptance of the weathering hypothesis as factual science has created an aura of invincibility. “Unfortunately, judges and other policymakers look to academic journals to be authoritative and trustworthy voices on what is evidence and what is science,” said Kingsbury. “And so you sneak this stuff in there and, unfortunately, as far as a lot of people are concerned, you’ve created knowledge.” More broadly, Boston University public health dean Sandro Galea warned in a new book, “Within Reason: A Liberal Public Health for an Illiberal Time,” that his profession has veered into overcorrection and revolutionary excess. Galea doesn’t name names in his book, but he rebukes public health advocates for favoring political narratives over empirical data, denying the reality of social progress, and fixating on a utopian quest “to create a world free of risk.” Geronimus did not respond to emails requesting an interview for this article. The rise and reach of Geronimus’ weathering hypothesis – a once obscure and idiosyncratic idea that is becoming conventional wisdom in medicine – provides a window into how activist rhetoric and social justice ideology pioneered by feminist, queer, and critical race theorists are recasting healthcare as a Machiavellian power struggle between the privileged and the oppressed. The public health field has long focused on “social determinants of health,” such as one’s environment and socioeconomic status, as contributors to health outcomes. The weathering hypothesis takes political empowerment to the next level, by medicalizing social relations and politicizing medicine. Weathering prefigured the recent flood of medical research that centers race in public policy and supplies the rationale for such moves as 265 public authorities declaring racism as a public health crisis; health officials jettisoning colorblindness and prioritizing people of color for COVID vaccinations and heart treatment; and medical schools training future doctors in social justice activism. In her 2023 book, “Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society,” Geronimus sweeps across time and space, omnisciently diagnosing celebrities and public figures with weathering. She claims it explains why Martin Luther King Jr. had the damaged heart of a 60-year-old when he was assassinated at age 39 and why Fannie Lou Hamer died of breast cancer and complications of hypertension at age 59. She asserts that the trauma of being black in America is one reason why tennis greats Serena Williams had life-threatening blood clots at age 36, and why Arthur Ashe had a heart attack at age 36. “Success comes at a spectacularly high health cost for those who have to fight the hardest to achieve it in the context of a society that doesn’t value them,” Geronimus stated in her book. “Structural violence is insidious, pervasive, and fateful. It is the fundamental cause of weathering, and it is entirely ignored in the age-washing narrative.” It is amply documented that African Americans of all social classes have worse health outcomes, earlier onset of chronic diseases, and average life expectancies reported as five to six years less than whites. Weathering science, as Geronimus calls it, measures various biomarkers of what is presumed to be psychosocial stress – such as cortisol levels, telomere lengths, cytokine storms, and allostatic loads – to make the case that on average black adults are as much as 10 years older biologically than white people of a comparable chronological age. But the data is complicated, requires interpretation, and doesn’t always add up. For example, in a 2021 study, a gerontology scholar at the University of Southern California assessed 13 measures of epigenetic aging. It found that some of the measures indicate accelerated aging among African Americans, while others indicate slower aging for African Americans. Epigenetics refers to the way genes function or malfunction under environmental stress and cultural conditions; most of these “epigenetic clocks” associate accelerated aging with obesity and lifetime smoking. This research, noting “the lack of expected effects of race and ethnicity,” suggests that there is no gold standard for measuring premature aging, and that weathering research is highly sensitive to the variables and measures that researchers select. Nevertheless, Geronimus compares the African American experience of living and working among white people to the fight-or-flight adrenaline rush of a prehistoric human fleeing a cheetah – except, she says, that a 21st-century black person in a majority white society is trapped in that high-stress mode all day, every day, without reprieve, resulting in a flood of stress hormones that dysregulate the body. Fluent in the language of social justice activism, Geronimus describes American society as a relentless onslaught of “microaggressions,” “othering,” “existential insults,” “daily indignities,” “voice erasure,” “identity threat” and other forms of “cultural oppression” that lead to early death. In response to those ever-present dangers in “the privileged space known as whiteness,” black people are constantly forced to adopt “high effort coping strategies” that Geronimus describes as “identity management” and “identity safety.” In a 2015 study titled “Black Lives Matter,” Geronimus and her co-authors estimated that racism and weathering caused 2.7 million “excess black deaths” in the United States between 1970 and 2004, a death toll of genocidal proportions. This one-dimensional way of analyzing social relations has the effect of privileging the stress of those presumed to be oppressed, said Stanley Goldfarb, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school and founder and chairman of the Do No Harm nonprofit. “The problem with the theory is that these hormones and these stress responses don’t know what skin color you have,” Goldfarb said. “The point is: What’s unique about their stress? The point isn’t that stress is bad. The point is you decided that your stress is unique and different from everybody else’s stress.” Still, weathering is an attractive explanation to researchers because the link between psychosocial stress and physical wear and tear is consistent with lower life expectancy for African Americans and lower-income people. Moreover, the hypothesis is “very intuitive” to economists because of its similarity to modeling health depreciation, and to social scientists who seek explanations of differential outcomes, said economist Robert Kaestner, a University of Chicago public policy professor who co-authored a weathering study with Geronimus in 2009. However, weathering studies do not actually measure stress or racism, but only correlate biological metrics back to the weathering hypothesis. The scientific conundrum is that the same biological evidence that supports weathering could also be “consistent with a lot of other things,” Kaestner said in a phone interview. “It’s always a measurement problem.” “Weathering is a hypothesis, still in search of definitive evidence,” Kaestner said. “I’ve never seen one [study] – including my own – where it’s a definitive study that this really is a smoking gun that racism or prolonged psychosocial stress causes adverse health outcomes.” Stress and racism are assumed as the causes of overeating, smoking and other unhealthy habits, in large part because the public health field and medical research steer clear of explanations that are genetic, biological, behavioral or cultural – which would violate the rule that prohibits blaming the victim. “That the chronic cascade of stress hormones in the bloodstream may also physiologically propel us toward eating ‘comfort’ foods high in fats and sugars, or to turn to alcohol or other drugs for relief, only makes this problem all the worse,” Geronimus writes in her book. This leaves only one permissible option: structural oppression. A reader of these studies will be struck by the absence of alternative explanations. “They’re writing a story about weathering. I’m going to leave it at that,” Kaestner said. “It’s a widely held view that this is in fact what’s happening. There’s tons of these correlation studies that really don’t get anywhere near documenting a causal relationship, but if you write enough of them, it becomes conventional wisdom in the public health community.” Still, the hypothesis can exert hypnotic powers on acolytes. Last year, during a burst of media fascination in Geronimus’s book, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that Geronimus “presents a staggering accumulation of evidence to show how daily discrimination grinds people down and all too often leads to debilitating illness and early death.” Less than three weeks later, the Guardian ran another article about weathering, in which Geronimus convinced a black reporter that there’s no escape from the weathering trap without restructuring modern societies. “By the end of our conversation I feel trapped – hyperaware of all the ways my social identity as a member of a black minority exposes me to stressors,” the Guardian writer ruminated. “Am I trapped?” “I think there are things you can do that will make a difference, but you are stuck being weathered,” Geronimus responded. “And it really will take other kinds of structural changes for weathering not to happen.” Geronimus asserts that the totalizing nature of white society renders conventional prescriptions for good health – diet and exercise – as naive and possibly dangerous. “Exercise can be beneficial, but a Black person considering taking a run will be unlikely to forget that Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death while jogging because he was Black,” she writes in reference to a 2020 fatal policing incident in Georgia. “And how can a Black person relax into restorative sleep knowing Breonna Taylor was shot to death by police [in Louisville, Kentucky in 2020] as she slept in her own apartment?” Geronimus offers one possibility of a safe space for black people in a 2020 study, co-authored by one of her former students. The paper claims that black students who enroll or attend a historically black college or university are shielded from racism and therefore 35% less likely to develop obesity, diabetes or related cardiovascular symptoms than black kids who attend a “predominantly white institution.” The conclusions are extrapolated from a sample of 727 black participants in a national health survey. The health benefits, she reported, are even more pronounced for black people who grow up in racially segregated neighborhoods – a finding that flies in the face of decades of research that links racial segregation to racial disparities across a wide swath of measures, from education to net worth. The influence of the weathering hypothesis – especially the claim that racism has profound effects on biology and epigenetics – can even be seen in research that ostensibly challenges Geronimus’ hypothesis. In 2021, Harvard University sociologist Ellis Monk published a study concluding that black-on-black in-group prejudice – known as “colorism” – can have a pernicious effect on the physical health of African Americans for common conditions and ailments, such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart trouble, vision loss, hearing loss, cancer and kidney problems. One could interpret colorism as undermining the racial power theories of the weathering hypothesis, but Monk interprets colorism as a form of white supremacy. “One way that white supremacy proceeds, or racial domination proceeds, is by recruiting members of the stigmatized category as agents in the system,” Monk explained in a 2018 colloquium at Harvard, an interpretation repeated in his research. “That’s the way the system works.” Geronimus’ more recent research concludes that people of color are not the only victims of weathering. She has expanded the hypothesis to include working-class Appalachian whites who experience poverty and social stigma, and to Ashkenazi Jews who were persecuted in Europe or stigmatized by antisemitism in this country. She cites her father as an example, describing how he donned his psychological armor every day to go to work among gentiles at his bench job in a bacteriology laboratory, and died in his 60s of an inflammatory disease that affected multiple organs, including the lungs and heart. The continued expansion of the weathering hypothesis is gaining traction. Geronimus writes that in 2020 she was asked by immigration attorney Kari Hong to submit expert testimony on weathering in support of early release petitions for immigrant asylum seekers who were being held in detention. Hong argued to federal judges that these foreign-born detainees were “biologically older than their chronological age” and should be released “just as senior citizen detainees.” According to the New York Times, Hong won early release for “all seven detainees,” based on Geronimus’ weathering testimony. Those cases are sealed under federal court rules, and Hong did not respond to emails, but according to limited public information, most were Hispanic or African. And some were in their 30s and had no symptoms or diagnosis. Although weathering is still most commonly used in connection with African Americans, its expansion to other groups is both true to Geronimus’ original concept and a reflection of her growing influence. A hypothesis first developed to correct what she saw as moral judgment and victim-blaming of the black underclass developed into an expansive theory of the United States as a soul-crushing, body-destroying totalitarian hellscape she has ominously called “the surround.” In a 2015 paper she and her co-authors described the “the surround” as a clandestine program of cultural brainwashing that operates by means of “phantasms” that implant a virtual social reality into the brains of unsuspecting victims through the imposition of culture and power. The paper, does, however, suggest that health equity for the oppressed is attainable through a total immersion in social activism: “Counter narratives, oppositional gaze development (or critical consciousness raising), and protest.” Ultimately, the subject of weathering is linked to a whole range of progressive moral concerns – from the gender binary to climate change. And the solutions that Geronimus proposes in her book include a return to “collectivism” – in the form of extended, multigenerational, cross-household, women-centered kinship networks. “Contrary to popular opinion and accepted wisdom,” she writes, “healthy aging is a measure not of how well we take care of ourselves but rather of how well society treats and takes care of us.” Tyler Durden Wed, 02/14/2024 - 18:45.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytFeb 14th, 2024

Biden DHS May Release Thousands Of Detained Illegals Over $700 Million Budget Shortfall

Biden DHS May Release Thousands Of Detained Illegals Over $700 Million Budget Shortfall While Democrats and RINOs fight to send $75 billion to Ukraine and Israel, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning to release thousands of immigrants, and significantly curtail its ability to hold detainees, after the failure of a Senate border bill that would have erased a $700 million budget shortfall, according to the Washington Post, citing four officials at ICE and the Department of Homeland Security. In short: because Ukraine didn't get their money, Biden('s operatives who are actually running the government) - a good friend of Ukraine, is going to hurt America, as opposed to simply closing the border via Executive Order and diverting Pentagon funding like Trump did (until the liberal 9th Circuit in California ruled it unlawful). And recall, the Biden administration is fighting with Texas to remove razor wire. After the Ukraine bill failed, which contained $6 billion in supplemental funding for ICE enforcement operations, agency officials began circulating an internal proposal to slash costs by releasing thousands of detainees, and reducing the number of beds in detention centers from 38,000 to 22,000. Let's not forget that the failed Ukraine bill would also allow 5,000 migrants into the country daily. Not only does this bill codify 1.5 million illegal border crossings into law, but the "border emergency" that automatically gets implemented at 5,000 crossings per day in a week can be overturned by Joe Biden. And in case 1.5 million illegals isn't enough, it also locks in green… pic.twitter.com/pZRV4iymph — Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 5, 2024 All of this comes ahead of an expected annual spike in migration this coming spring. According to the report, DHS could try and plug the gap at ICE by diverting funds from the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or other agencies within the department. ICE officials tell the Post that the $700 million deficit is the largest projected shortfall the agency has had in recent memory. Some of the proposed cost savings in ICE detention would occur through attrition — deportations — but much of it would have to happen through the mass release of detainees, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations. Erin Heeter, a DHS spokesperson, said Congress has “chronically underfunded” the department’s “vital missions on the southwest border.” ... "A reduction in ICE operations would significantly harm border security, national security, and public safety." -WaPo Compounding matters, record crossings in late 2023 left DHS agencies burning through their budgets for the 2024 fiscal year which began Oct. 1. Propaganda everywhere! As an aside, while we wouldn't recommend voluntarily reading the Washington Post, their article is completely disingenuous - framing the failure to pass the $60 billion Ukraine (and a little for the border) bill as the GOP refusing to pass legislation that would help President Biden. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has drafted plans to release thousands of immigrants and slash its capacity to hold detainees after the failure of a Senate border bill that would have erased a $700 million budget shortfall... ... The bill’s failure produced a reversal of traditional partisan politics on immigration, with most Democrats embracing new border restrictions and funding for enforcement, while Republicans opposed the bill in part because it could benefit the incumbent president. ... “Most recently, Congress rejected the bipartisan national security bill out of hand, which will put at risk DHS’s current removal operations,” Heeter said in a statement. “A reduction in ICE operations would significantly harm border security, national security, and public safety." -WaPo No. It was a terrible deal which - in addition to allowing 1.5 million illegals to flow into the country each year, would have also allocated $2.3 billion towards NGOs and other organizations which traffic them, on top of the aforementioned foreign aid. The agreement was reached by Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), whose own state legislature censured him for striking such a crappy border deal. What's more, under the failed legislation President Biden could close the border with the stroke of a pen, right now, but refuses to do so until Ukraine and Israel money materializes. A lot more shady language in there. Allows "reprioritizing" funds originally earmarked for other uses. Way too much discretion and "reports" needed which allow 180 days or more stalling on things like border wall. Don't need to be an attorney to catch all the loopholes! — JustTheFactsMa'am (@BalistrariaFund) February 5, 2024 Wonder who they'll eventually vote for? Migrants walk along a road in a caravan heading to the U.S. border, in Tapachula, Mexico November 18, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Torres Tyler Durden Wed, 02/14/2024 - 11:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 14th, 2024

A fight over sewage is preventing Long Island from solving its crippling housing crisis

Many residents in Suffolk County, Long Island, are waking up to groundwater contamination and a housing affordability crisis. Aerial view of a mansion in Suffolk County, New York in 2022.James Conrad Williams/Getty ImagesSuffolk County, Long Island's heavy reliance on septic tanks is contaminating its groundwater.It's also restricting the construction of dense housing as home prices and rents soar.Sewer issues are sometimes used as an excuse to avoid building more housing, activists say.When you flush the toilet, you probably don't consider where its contents go. The people of Suffolk County, Long Island, need to start considering it. That’s because the county — which encompasses the eastern portion of the island, including the Hamptons — relies overwhelmingly on septic tanks and cesspools, rather than a public sewer system, and those outdated systems are contaminating its groundwater aquifers.And the sewer issue is also making another, much more politicized, problem worse: housing affordability.Like most of the suburbs surrounding New York City, Suffolk County is suffering from a major shortage of homes. The county makes it illegal to build anything but single-family homes in the vast majority of its residential neighborhoods, keeping supply low and prices inflated. Its inadequate sewer system makes it difficult or impossible to build denser housing in much the same way that its restrictive zoning laws do.Some housing advocates believe local officials are using the county's sewer issues as an excuse to prevent new and denser housing construction. Hunter Gross, president of a nonprofit pro-housing group in the town of Huntington on the county’s western edge, said local elected officials hide behind wastewater issues in order to dodge the housing debate.“They realize that if they do build the needed sewer system, then they would have to build the needed housing,” Gross said.No upzoning without sewers — and vice versaLong Island has public sewer lines, on-site sewage treatment plants, and individual septic tanks. But about 75% of Suffolk County properties rely on outdated septic systems that don’t remove nitrogen from the water, Newsday reported. Excess nitrogen in the water supply — which also comes from fertilizer runoff — can be dangerous to consume and disrupts ecological systems, causing harmful phenomena like algae blooms that poison wildlife, plants, and people.The county's traditional septic systems and cesspits are designed to allow treated sewage to safely seep into the ground soil, but when tanks aren't regularly emptied, the water table is high, or the system floods, untreated sewage pollutes nearby water.The most common reason local elected officials cite for not upgrading their wastewater management is cost. Even in a county where the median household income is almost $50,000 more than the national average, policymakers say they simply can’t afford it. Last summer, the Republican members of the county’s legislature squashed an effort to slightly increase the county’s sales tax to pay for sewer upgrades.But there's still hope for the effort. Earlier this month, Suffolk County’s recently elected executive, Ed Romaine, backed a similar measure raising the sales tax to fund the sewer system and individual septic tanks. In December, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced she'll send $59 million to Long Island to deal with water contamination and sewer upgrades.Romaine, a Republican, made housing affordability central to his agenda while campaigning and says he needs more state and federal funding to pay for the sewer and other infrastructure projects.“The governor has said she wants to see more housing on Long Island. Great, governor, you’ve got to give us money for sewage because the type of housing you want, we can't build,” he said, adding that he supported President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill. “How about some of that money? Why should Long Island get shortchanged?”Edmund Smyth, the town supervisor of Huntington, Suffolk County, said he’d like to see the federal government commit billions of dollars to expanding and upgrading sewer lines and treatment plants across the US to protect the water supply and boost development.“If the governor's plan requires the town to adopt certain housing policies, and that doesn't come with a very large infrastructure check along with it,” Smyth said, “there's nothing to talk about.”Long Islanders can't afford to live where they grew upAnti-development NIMBYism is rampant across Long Island, and its eastern half is no exception. Suffolk County has allowed less new housing to be built over the last 10 years than almost any other county in the US. It also has a higher proportion of single-family homes than nearly any other county — more than 80% of its homes are detached, single-family houses.Last year, Long Island public officials led the charge against Gov. Kathy Hochul’s effort to boost housing construction around transit hubs, end single-family zoning, and other measures to encourage development, particularly in the New York City suburbs. Last summer, opponents of allowing accessory dwelling units, like basement apartments, in Huntington warned against “changing the complexion of this beautiful community” and bringing in “migrants, pedophiles, or criminals.”But many residents, including homeowners who’ve benefited from soaring home values, are feeling the pain of the housing affordability crisis and want change. Businesses are struggling to attract workers, who can’t find decent housing. Baby boomers are concerned their own children and grandchildren can’t afford to live in the communities they grew up in.“We're creating a lot of jobs here, but that's not going to continue if we don't have places to live for the people who have those jobs,” said Ian Wilder, executive director of the nonprofit group Long Island Housing Services. “The only thing we're creating is a market in illegal and, some of it, dangerous housing because people have no choice about where to live.”Sewers tie into a long history of exclusionary housing policyLike many similar suburban regions, Long Island has a long history of enforcing racial segregation through housing policies. Levittown, the famous master-planned 1950s suburb designed for WWII veterans, excluded Black residents. In 1988, the Supreme Court found in a landmark case that the town of Huntington perpetuated racial discrimination with zoning laws that prohibited multi-family housing construction in largely white neighborhoods. While civil rights laws have since changed, the county is still one of the most segregated in the US. In 2019, Newsday published a three-year investigation finding that residential real estate brokers and agents regularly discriminated against Black, Hispanic, and Asian clients.   Infrastructure is just as key to expanding the housing stock as land-use laws are. Sewers and zoning are “two sides of the same coin,” said Nathan Cummings, a law clerk who published a paper in the Yale Law & Policy Review in 2022 on wastewater treatment and urban development. You can’t change land-use laws to allow for more density when the sewer capacity isn’t there, and you can’t build out the sewer system when the land-use laws don’t allow for more density.“It's very easy for local policymakers to fall into a trap where they say we can't upzone because we don't have infrastructure and we can’t build infrastructure because our zoning doesn't permit anything above a certain level of development,” Cummings said. “If you want to build more densely, it's a two-step process where you do both and ultimately what it takes is the political will.”The connection between anti-sewer and anti-housing activism isn’t limited to Long Island. Similar communities, like Old Lyme, Connecticut, have been accused of blocking wastewater projects in order to stymie denser housing construction and prevent lower-income people or people of color from moving into a community.Alarm bells go off for Cummings in cases where a community’s water is being contaminated by waste and it refuses both to build out its sewer system or install an alternative wastewater treatment system. “If you don't want either of those things, even as your groundwater is getting polluted, and you're having to pay the upkeep cost for your septic system, it just starts to look a little bit less rational,” he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 14th, 2024