Aug 18

Today’s News 18th August 2017

  • The Death Of A Nation

    Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

    Every living nation needs symbols. They tell us who we are as one people, in what we believe, and on what basis we organize our common life.

    This fact seems to be very clear to the current leadership in Russia, particularly to President Vladimir Putin, in restoring and reunifying a country rent by three generations of Red and White enmity to achieve a national synthesis. With regard to things spiritual, this meant first of all the world-historic reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church, between the Moscow Patriarchate and the New York-based Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. It also meant the rebuilding of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior dynamited by the communists 1931, not coincidentally the recent target for desecration by degenerates hailed by western «democracy» advocates.

    Civic and military symbols matter as well. After 1991 there were those who wanted landmarks of the communist era to be ruthlessly expunged the way the Bolsheviks had themselves sought (in Solzhenitsyn’s description) to rub off the age-old face of Russia and to replace it with a new, ersatz Soviet image. Instead, wisdom prevailed. The national anthem adopted in 2001 retains the Soviet melody but with new lyrics (written by Sergey Mikhalkov, who with Gabriel El-Registan had penned the original lyrics in 1944!) – Lenin and Stalin are out, God is in. The old capital is again Saint Petersburg, but the surrounding district still bears the name Leningrad. The red star marks Russia’s military aircraft and vehicles, while the blue Saint Andrew’s cross flies over the fleet. The red stars likewise are still atop the Kremlin towers while the Smolensk icon of Christ once again graces the Savior Gate. The red banner that was hoisted triumphantly on the Reichstag in 1945 is carried on Victory Day. The remains of exiled White commanders like Anton Denikin and Vladimir Kappel were repatriated and reburied at home with honor.

    I may be wrong, but I would like to think that perhaps Russia took a lesson from what until recently had been the American example. In his Second Inaugural Address in March 1865, as the «brothers’ war« was drawing to a close, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the need to «bind up the nation’s wounds». In striving to do so, nothing was more important than our honoring the heroes of both the Blue and the Gray, perhaps most poignantly demonstrated decades later in the veterans’ reunions at Gettysburg. «Unconditional Surrender» Grant and «Marse Bobby» Lee, «Uncle Billy» Sherman and «Stonewall» Jackson, naval legends David «Damn the torpedoes» Farragut and Raphael «Nelson of the Confederacy» Semmes, cavalrymen «Fightin’ Phil» Sheridan and J.E.B. Stuart, and many, many others – these names belong to all of us. As Americans.

    To say this is not to avoid the centrality of slavery in the southerners’ attempted secession or to address the constitutional question of whether they were legally entitled to do so. (Maybe California will have better luck heading for the exit. ¡Adios, amigos!) Nor does it sugarcoat white southerners’ perception of Reconstruction as a hostile, armed occupation or of the institution of Jim Crow racial segregation after federal troops were withdrawn and the Democratic Party assumed power. But the fact is that the mythos of North-South reconciliation in a reunited American nation was a foundation of our becoming an economic giant by the late 19th century, a world power at the beginning of the 20th (at the expense of the decrepit Spanish empire, with the celebrated military participation of former Confederates), and a dominant power after two victorious world wars.

    That America may soon be gone with the wind. The violence at Charlottesville, the pulling down of a Confederate memorial by a mob in Durham, the removal of four monuments from Baltimore (which has one of America’s highest homicide rates) under the cowardly cloak of night, and calls for getting rid of many more are simultaneously the death throes of the old America built on one national concept and the birth pangs of a new, borderless, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, multisexual, ahistorical, fake «America» now aborning in violence and lawlessness.

    He who says A must say B. When one accepts demonization of part of our history and placing those who defend it beyond the pale of legitimate discourse, one should hardly be surprised when the arrogant fury of the victors is unleashed. That takes two forms: the nihilist street thugs of «Antifa» and «Black Lives Matter», and the authorities (both governmental and media, a/k/a the Swamp) who confer on them immunity for violent, criminal behavior. The former are the shock troops of the latter.

    They’ve been at it for months, well before Charlottesville, across the country, with nary a peep from the party that supposedly has uniform control over the federal government. Our First Amendment rights as Americans end where a black-clad masked thug chooses to put his (or her or indeterminate «gender») fist or club. To paraphrase U.S. Chief Justice Roger Taney in Dred Scott, loyalists of the old America have no rights which the partisans of the new one are bound to respect. Where’s the Justice Department probe of civil rights violations by this organized, directed brutality? (Or maybe there will be one, including looking into George Soros’s connection. If not, what’s the point of having RICO?)

    To be sure, the spectacle of genuine racists on display in Charlottesville provided the perfect pretext for these people, but they’re not the cause. Far from forestalling the violent, revolutionary abolition of the historic America (definitively described by Pat Buchanan) by inciting some kind of white backlash – perhaps in the form of a race war as some of them despicably hope – the «Unite the Right» organizers at Charlottesville have accelerated the revolution. It’s a revolution that dovetails with the anti-constitutional «RussiaGate» coup in progress against President Trump, who is the last hope for preserving the historic American nation. If he is removed (is he the only one, even in his own Administration, fighting back?) and the nice respectable anti-Trump Republican party is restored, they’ll gladly join hands with their Democratic and media Swamp buddies in dragging what remains of America down.

    If anyone is tempted to think that the new America will be more peaceful in world affairs, think again. It’s no coincidence that the same forces that want to bring Trump down and also redefine our country’s identity coincide almost entirely with those who want America aggressively to impose «our values« – meaning their values – on the globe. As I put it almost 20 years ago in a somewhat different context, this fake «America» is the vanguard of Rainbow Fascism, at home and abroad.

    No doubt the same terrible sense of foreboding, even worse, must have occurred to Russians in 1920, when they saw their country bloodily sacrificed on the altar of a crazed, internationalist ideology. Somehow, after paying an unimaginable price in war and repression, they emerged three quarters of a century later still remembering how (as the late General Aleksandr Lebed put it) «to feel like Russians again».

    If we fail to avoid the impending long night, will we Americans be so lucky?

  • How Can We Learn From The Past If We Erase History?

    Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

    Removing monuments from the Civil War to erase history is a mistake.

    This won’t be a popular opinion, and I’m okay with that. Because for now, we still have freedom of speech.

    While I can understand why some people would strongly disagree, I’d like to respectfully offer a different perspective. My opinion that those monuments should be left alone isn’t because I support the horrible things that have been done in our history. It’s exactly the opposite.

    Every country’s history has a dark spot in it. More than one, if we’re being honest. But the fact that we aren’t still mired in those dark places means that we have made strides toward becoming better. Erasing history, though, is a dangerous path because it means that the truth becomes something malleable that has been created instead of recorded.

    Rewriting history is positively Orwellian, and a terribly dangerous path.

    After President Trump won the election, his opponents began snapping up copies of 1984 so quickly that Amazon sold out of the classic. At that point, I was hopeful that it meant people would find some common ground.

    Amazon has sold out of copies of George Orwell’s authoritarian classic, 1984, and they won’t have more until Feb. 2nd. The book was the number one bestseller on Tuesday and Wednesday. The publishing company, Penguin, is rushing more copies to print.

     

    This surge in sales came after Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway used the creepy term “alternative facts” to explain away some misleading statements in White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s statement to the press. (source)

    Alas, my hope was short lived.

    All sorts of breathless articles were penned, comparing President Trump to Big Brother. (This one, for example.) But then, something else happened. And it isn’t good.

    1984 has become an instruction manual.

    Despite the initial furor, now it seems like these folks have decided to instead use 1984 as a how-to manual. As you watch people destroying monuments of Southern Civil War generals, renaming streets, and planning to deface the side of a mountain with their faces on it, let this chilling quote ring in your ears.

    “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” (George Orwell, 1984)

    Without our history, good or bad, who are we? If we don’t remember where we came from, how can we hope to continuously improve? If we can’t learn from the mistakes of the past, and if the truth is “created” by the vocal minority, then how does the truth even exist anymore?

    History teaches us important lessons.

    We’ve all heard that quote, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” So what happens when we completely erase it?

    When my daughter and I took a road trip to explore American history last year, we stopped and visited many of these historic markers that are now pending demolition. We discussed the hypocrisy of a man who was responsible for resounding words of freedom in the US Constitution keeping hundreds of slaves. Her curiosity was piqued by the old homesteads. Her heart was saddened by walking into old slave quarters and seeing the shocking difference of their cramped quarters to the huge mansions beside them. Nothing you can read about in a book could possibly compare to walking through those doors and seeing the real thing.

    We looked up information about General Lee and General Jackson. We learned of the famous battles where thousands of Americans from the North and the South died. When in California, we visited Manzanar, the site of an internment camp for Americans of Japanese heritage. She learned so much about our country’s ugly past and about how our ideals as a nation were changed for the better.

    We also spent a lot of time at various civil rights monuments, in particular, the Harriet Tubman Museum and the Underground Railroad Byway. (My daughter has been fascinated by Tubman since she read her biography in third grade.) After seeing the old plantations and the slave quarters, Tubman’s heroism was suddenly writ large. Would her heroic acts have made so great an impression if my daughter hadn’t learned the backstory? Heroism doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

    Erasing the negative part of history doesn’t make it go away Sanitizing the facts doesn’t mean that they never happened. It just means no one can learn from them.

    Our very language is being rewritten.

    Everything has now become so politically correct that most of us have no idea what to say in certain situations, lest we be chastised as horrible bigots. The schools are systematically brainwashing children and the indoctrination is completed in our colleges and universities.

    “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” (George Orwell, 1984)

    By manipulating language, opinions are manipulated, as is a sense of right and wrong.

    Newspeak is real.

    “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.

     

    By 2050, earlier, probably – all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron – they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like ‘freedom is slavery’ when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking – not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” (George Orwell, 1984)

    How can anyone not see this is happening right before our very eyes.

    It isn’t Donald Trump who is bringing in an Orwellian future. It’s the rabid politically-correct thought police.

    Where will it end?

    It isn’t likely to end with the removal of icons related to the Civil War. Ajamu Baraka, the Green Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2016 suggests that all memories of Trump, Washington, and Jefferson should also be erased.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Good, bad, and ugly, this is part of our national story. Tearing down everything that was related to the sordid parts doesn’t mean that they never happened.

    I strongly denounce these groups who are filled with hatred for their fellow Americans.

    While I believe these historic monuments should not be destroyed, I certainly could never align myself with the neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the Alt-Right people who are protecting them, because they’re doing so out of hatred and a misplaced sense of glory. Nor would I ever align myself with the Antifa, the most ironic group ever in existence that proclaims to be against fascism but noisily and brutally stifles the First Amendment rights of those with whom they disagree.

    These groups all represent what is worst about our country. Violence, vandalism, hatred, and terror are wrong, no matter who is perpetrating those acts.

    In any argument, it’s always the loudest people who get heard, but that doesn’t mean they speak for everyone. We must be careful not to over-generalize when it comes to these groups.

    The Alt-Right and the neo-Nazis cannot be confused with every conservative Republican out there any more than the Alt-Left and the Antifa can be confused with every liberal Democrat. All of these labels are divisive and painting everyone with a broad brush is a lazy generalization. But this isn’t what the media is telling us. Instead, the mainstream media is pouring gasoline on this fire on a daily basis and they’re polarizing our country even more.

    Most of us are decent human beings who have no argument with our fellow Americans. We have a lot more in common than this noisy minority and if we could respectfully find those points of agreement, we could, perhaps, find peace amongst our neighbors once again.

    I only hope that we haven’t gone so far down this road that there’s no way back.

  • "He's A Greedy Little Man" And A "Snake" – Transcripts Of Shkreli Jury Hearings Emerge

    Martin Shkreli’s lawyers reportedly had to interview more than 250 prospective jurors before agreeing on 12. At the time, media reports hinted at some of the funnier reasons given by prospective jurors to get out of serving (one individual said he was biased against Shkreli because he had “disrespected the Wu Tang Clan"). Ultimately, the jury found the former hedge fund manager and pharmaceutical company CEO guilty on three out of eight counts of fraud.

    Now, Harper’s Magazine has published transcripts from the Voir Dire hearings. The transcripts offer insight into how the trial of "the most hated man in America" came together. In most cases, the prospective juror offers some version of "he's terrible" and is promptly excused.

    When asked if he was aware of the defendant, one juror said yes and “I hate him,” before calling Shkreli “a greedy little man.”

    “The court: The purpose of jury selection is to ensure fairness and impartiality in this case. If you think that you could not be fair and impartial, it is your duty to tell me. All right. Juror Number 1.

     

    Juror no. 1: I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him.

     

    Benjamin Brafman: I’m sorry.

     

    Juror no. 1: I think he’s a greedy little man.

     

    The court: Jurors are obligated to decide the case based only on the evidence. Do you agree?

     

    Juror no. 1: I don’t know if I could. I wouldn’t want me on this jury.

     

    The court: Juror Number 1 is excused. Juror Number 18.”

    One guy said he felt biased against Shkreli as soon as he saw his face.

    “Juror no. 40: I’m taking prescription medication. I would be upset if it went up by a thousand percent. I saw the testimony on TV to Congress and I saw his face on the news last night. By the time I came in and sat down and he turned around, I felt immediately I was biased.

     

    The court: Sir, we are going to excuse you. Juror Number 47, please come up.”

    Another juror equated Shkreli with Bernie Madoff who, let’s remember, stole $70 billion from his clients.

    “Juror no. 47: He’s the most hated man in America. In my opinion, he equates with Bernie Madoff with the drugs for pregnant women going from $15 to $750. My parents are in their eighties. They’re struggling to pay for their medication. My mother was telling me yesterday how my father’s cancer drug is $9,000 a month.

     

    The court: The case is going to come before you on evidence that you must consider fairly and with an open mind.

     

    Juror no. 47: I would find that difficult.

     

    The court: And that’s based on your parents’ experience with medication?

     

    Juror no. 47: It’s based on people working very hard for their money. He defrauded his company and his investors, and that’s not right.

     

    The court: Ma’am, we’re going to excuse you. Juror Number 52, how are you?”

    One guy said he didn’t know who Shkreli was, but after taking one look at him said he looks like a "snake."

    “Juror no. 52: When I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not knowing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.

     

    Brafman: So much for the presumption of innocence.

     

    The court: We will excuse Juror Number 52. Juror Number 67?”

    One prospective juror said he’d “never be able to forget” how Shkreli raised the price of Daraprim.

    "Juror no. 67: The fact that he raised the price of that AIDS medication, like, such an amount of money disgusts me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget that. Who does that, puts profit and self-interest ahead of anything else? So it’s not a far stretch that he could do what he’s accused of.

     

    The court: Please go to the jury room and tell them you have been excused. Juror Number 70.”

    One person described Shkreli as “the face of corporate greed in America," and that he'd need to be convinced of his innocence because he assumes Shkreli is guilty.

    “Juror no. 77: From everything I’ve seen on the news, everything I’ve read, I believe the defendant is the face of corporate greed in America.

     

    Brafman: We would object.

     

    Juror no. 77: You’d have to convince me he was innocent rather than guilty.

     

    The court: I will excuse this juror. Hello, Juror Number 125.”

    Juror number 144 said Shkreli “looks like a dick.”

    “Juror no. 144: I heard through the news of how the defendant changed the price of a pill by up-selling it. I heard he bought an album from the Wu-Tang Clan for a million dollars.

     

    The court: The question is, have you heard anything that would affect your ability to decide this case with an open mind. Can you do that?

     

    Juror no. 144: I don’t think I can because he kind of looks like a dick.

     

    The court: You are Juror Number 144 and we will excuse you. Come forward, Juror Number 155.”

    One juror said he couldn’t understand whether Shkreli was stupid, or just greedy.

    “Juror no. 28: I don’t like this person at all. I just can’t understand why he would be so stupid as to take an antibiotic which H.I.V. people need and jack it up five thousand percent. I would honestly, like, seriously like to go over there.

     

    The court: Sir, thank you.

     

    Juror no. 28: Is he stupid or greedy? I can’t understand.

     

    The court: We will excuse you. Juror 41, are you coming up?”

    Shkreli is totally guilty, another juror said…and he disrespected the Wu Tang Clan.

    “Juror no. 59: Your Honor, totally he is guilty and in no way can I let him slide out of anything because…

     

    The court: All right. We are going to excuse you, sir.

     

    Juror no. 59: And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.”

    While no date has been set, Shkreli is expected to be sentenced by federal judge Kiya Matsumoto some time during the coming months. Though Shkreli said on one of his post-trial livestreams that he expects to only serve a few months, possibly under house arrest. But legal experts believe that the sentencing is when Shkreli’s past demons will come back to haunt him in the form of a lengthy stay in federal prison. He could also be on the hook for millions of dollars in fines. After all, Shkreli has mocked not only the Brooklyn prosecutors who tried him, but members of Congress. It wouldn’t exactly look like a prosecutorial victory if they just let him walk away.
     

  • Privatize The Public Monuments

    Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

    When I was a student at the University of Colorado, I regularly walked by the Dalton Trumbo memorial fountain which was named after the communist Stalin-sympathizing novelist and screenwriter. 

    Once upon a time, the fountain had been simply known as "the fountain," but around 25 years ago, it was unnecessarily renamed after a controversial person. 

    The reason for the renaming was the same as with any memorial or monument designed to honor a person or idea — to create an emotional connection and familiarity with the person or idea connected to the place; to communicate a certain view of history. 

    The renaming of the fountain followed an earlier renaming controversy. One of the University's dorms, Nichols Hall, was named after a participant in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre. Even in its own time, the massacre had been denounced, earning condemnation from Indian fighters like Kit Carson. Not surprisingly, the dorm that bore Nichols's name was eventually renamed "Cheyenne Arapahoe" in honor of the Indian tribes whose members Nichols had helped attack.

    As with the Trumbo fountain, the dorm's name was changed in order to send subtle messages — messages about what is valued, what is good, and what is bad. 

    There's nothing inherently wrong with this, of course. The problem only arises when we begin to use taxpayer funded facilities and institutions to carry out these attempts at education. 

    Thus, in a sense, when approaching the problem of government monuments and memorials, we  encounter the same problem we have with public schools. Whose values are going to be pushed, preserved, and exalted? And, who's going to be forced to pay for it? 

    Ideology Changes Over Time 

    This problem is further complicated by the fact that these views change over time.

    Over time, the "good guys" can change as majority views shift, as new groups take over the machinery of government institutions, and as ideologies change. 

    In 1961, when Nichols Hall was named, few people apparently cared much about the Sand Creek Massacre. 25 years later, however, views had changed considerably among both students and administrators. 

    For a very obvious illustration of how these changes takes place, we need look no further than the schools. 

    In the early days of public schooling — an institution founded by Christian nationalists to push their message — students were forced to read the King James Bible. Catholics were forced to pay taxes so schools could instruct students on how awful and dangerous Catholicism was. Immigrant families from Southern and Eastern Europe were forced to pay for schools that instructed their children on the inferiority of their non-Anglo ethnic groups.

    A century later, things have changed considerably. Today, Anglo-Saxons are taught to hate themselves, and while Catholics are still despised (but for different reasons), they now are joined in their pariah status by most other Christian groups as well. Italians and Eastern Europeans who were once treated in public schools as subhuman are now reviled as members of the white oppressor class

    Similar changes have taken place in art and in public monuments and memorials. 

    Public Memorials Serve the Same Function as Public Schools 

    But the principle remains the same, whether we're talking about public schools or public monuments: we're using public funds and facilities to "educate" the public about what's good and what's not. 

    This has long been known by both the people who first erected today's aging monuments, and by the people who now want to tear them down. The leftist who support scrapping certain monuments actively seek to change public monuments and memorials to back up their own worldview because they recognize that it can make a difference in the public imagination. They're fine with forcing the taxpayers to support their own worldview, of course, and actively seek to use public lands, public spaces, public roads, and public buildings to subsidize their efforts. They already succeeded in doing this with public schools decades ago. 

    The Answer: Privatize the Monuments

    In a way, the combined effect of public memorials, monuments, streets, and buildings function to turn public spaces into a type of large open-air social studies class, reinforcing some views, while ignoring others. 

    Libertarians have long noted the problem of public education: it's impossible to teach history in a value-neutral way, and thus public schools are likely to teach values that support the state and its agendas. Even some conservatives have finally caught on. 

    To combat this problem, those who object to these elements within public schooling support homeschooling, private schooling, and private-sector alternatives that diminish the role of public institutions. 

    Governmental public spaces offer the same problem as public schools. 

    In both cases the answer is the same: minimize the role of government institutions in shaping public ideology, public attitudes, and the public's view of history. 

    Rather than using publicly funded thoroughfares, parks, and buildings as a means of reinforcing public "education" and "shared history" as we do now, these government facilities should be stripped down to their most basic functions. Providing office space for administrative offices, providing streets for transport, and providing parks for recreation. (The last thing we need is a history lesson from the semi-illiterates on a typical city council.)

    Some might argue that all these properties and facilities should be privatized themselves. That's fair enough, but as long as we're forced to live with these facilities, we need not also use them to "honor" politicians or whatever persons the current ruling class happens to find worthy of praise. 

    The nostalgia lobby will react with horror to this proposition. "Why, you can't do that!" they'll complain. "We'll be robbed of our heritage and history." Even assuming these people could precisely define exactly who "we" is they still need to explain why public property is necessary to preserve this alleged heritage. 

    After all, by this way of thinking, the preservation of one's culture and heritage relies on a subsidy from the taxpayers, and a nod of assent from government agencies. 

    Preserving and Promoting Culture Through Private Action 

    Once upon a time, however, people who actually valued their heritage did not sit around begging the government to protect it for them. Many were willing to actually take action and spend their own money on preserving the heritage that many now rather unconvincingly claim is so important to them.

    A good example of the key role of private property in cases such as this can be seen in the work of the Catholic Church in the US — which has never enjoyed majority support from the population or from government institutions. If Catholics were to get their symbols and memorials in front of the public, they were going to have to build them on private property, and that's exactly what they did.

    In Denver, for example, the Catholics of the early 20th century knew (correctly) that no public park or government building was going to erect any Catholic-themed art or memorials on their property. So, the Catholics proceeded to erect an enormous cathedral on a hilltop one block from the state capitol. The new cathedral was highly visible and provided easy access to religious ceremonies for the few Catholic politicians and officials who worked at the capitol. It provided meeting space. It contained stained-glass art created by German masters. Moreover, the new building served as a huge symbolic middle finger to the anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan which was growing in importance in Denver at the time.

    So, did Church officials sit around whining about how there was no crucifix on the front lawn of the State Capitol? Did they demand that the taxpayers pay to maintain a central town plaza featuring a statue of Saint Peter? Some probably did. Those who made a difference, though, took action and acquired real estate in prominent places throughout the city. They put universities on that land, and cemeteries, and convents, and friaries, and schools, and even some memorials and statues. Today, next to the cathedral, on a busy street corner, is a large statue of a Catholic pope: John Paul II. It's on private property. It's seen by thousands every day. 

    5755374557_271075ae66_z.jpg

    Source. 

    And why should the self-appointed protectors of American "traditional" values think they deserve anything different? Indeed, we'd all have been saved a lot of trouble if the organizations that demanded statues of Confederate generals everywhere had put them on private land instead of in public parks. We'd all be better off if the private owners of the Stone Mountain monument hadn't sold it to the State of Georgia because they were too cheap to maintain it themselves. 

    In the past, had the purveyors of publicly-funded culture instead taken a principled and successful stand against using public lands and funds to push a certain view of history, no one would have to now waste his time sitting through city council meetings where politicians decide who deserves a statue, and who is to be thrown in the dustbin of history. Were we to quit using public parks as showcases for public indoctrination, we wouldn't have to worry about the Church of Satan erecting a monument in the "free speech area" of a public park — as they recently did near Minneapolis. 

    The next time someone wants a statue of some politician, artist, or intellectual — whether they be communists, Confederates, or satanists — they ought to be told to buy a nice little plot of land somewhere — perhaps along a busy street or next to an important street corner in town — and put their statue there. 

  • "It Is A Battle Between Data And Theory" – Fed PhDs Second-Guess Inflation Model After 5 Years Of Failure

    Federal Reserve officials are finally waking up to the fact that there’s something wrong with their inflation models. It only took them five years.

    As Bloomberg points out, the minutes from the Fed’s July policy meeting, released yesterday, included a debate about whether the models that help the central bank set its inflation target are no longer functioning properly.

    “Federal Reserve officials are looking under the hood of their most basic inflation models and starting to ask if something is wrong.

     

    Minutes from the July 25-26 Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed a revealing debate over why the economy isn’t producing more inflation in a time of easy financial conditions, tight labor markets and solid economic growth.

     

    The central bank has missed its 2 percent price goal for most of the past five years. Still, a majority of FOMC participants favor further rate increases. The July minutes showed an intensifying debate over whether that is the right policy response.”

    Some economists worry that if the Fed begins to publicly question their methods, it could ruin what little credibility the central bank has left.

    “These minutes to me were troubling,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies LLC in New York. “They don’t have their confidence in their policy decisions; and they don’t have confidence that they can provide the right kind of guidance.”

    Of course, Fed officials did everything in their power to communicate that these questions were being raised by a small minority on the FOMC, and didn’t represent anything resembling an official opinion.

    “In several passages, the minutes asserted that “most” officials were sticking with a forecast that higher inflation would eventually show up. However, the debate over resource slack models and whether standard data sources were telling them the whole story also showed convictions about their forecast are fraying.”

    As Bloomberg explains, prices have been resistant to any upward movement even as the US unemployment rate has fell to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent in July. The U.S. consumer price index rose 1.7 percent for the 12 months ending July, while the PCE price index, the Fed’s preferred measure, which is tied to consumption, rose 1.4 percent in June. Another gauge calculated by the Dallas Fed, which trims index outliers to highlight the underlying price trend, rose 1.7 percent for the 12 months ending June. That was the same as May, which was down from 1.74 percent in April.

    A few officials pointed out what many investors have believed for years: That the Fed's inflation forecasting model is totally useless.

    “The minutes said “a few” officials described resource slack models as “not particularly useful” while “most” thought the framework was valid.

     

    Members also questioned whether there’s another theory that might better explain the inertia in prices.

     

    The committee also pondered a number of theories as to why inflation wasn’t responding to tightening labor resources, such as “the possibility that slack may be better measured by labor market indicators other than unemployment.”

    One notable economist described it as “a battle between data and theory.”

    “It is a battle between data and theory,” said Ethan Harris, head of global economic research at Bank of America Corp. in New York.

    But it almost doesn’t matter that the Fed’s vaunted inflation models no longer make any sense, because, the Fed is going to keep hiking no matter what now that the risks have struck the “appropriate balance” – at least that’s what one member of the leadership (probably Chairwoman Yellen) believes.   

    “The minutes also included an unusual signal that someone – possibly a member of the committee’s leadership – saw additional rate increases as striking the “appropriate balance” on policy goals, dedicating two sentences to the views of “one participant.”

     

    “That seems like an awful lot of air time as well as a very definitive answer coming from a mere ‘one participant’ – unless that single person happened to be someone really important – like, I don’t know, maybe the Chair?,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities in New York, wrote in a note to clients, referring to Janet Yellen.”

    Maybe in whatever model they concoct to replace this one, the Fed should include a metric probably more relevant today than economists realize: The amount of time Americans’ spend on Instagram per day.
     

  • "Let's Blow Up Mount Rushmore" Says Vice

    We may have hit peak media crazy here. A prominent online news publication says, “Let's blow up Mt. Rushmore.” No, this is not al-Qaeda's "Inspire" magazine or the Islamic State's "Dabiq" propaganda publication – it's Brooklyn based Vice News.

    On the same day a barbaric terror attack takes place in Barcelona, resulting in 13 deaths and 100 people injured, the popular liberal news org known for its edgy investigative approach and stylistic "cooler than thou" appeal to millennials tweeted out an article which advocates for blowing up Mount Rushmore. 

    Vice initially titled the article, authored by Vice Senior Editor Wilbert L. Cooper, as follows:

    After fierce online push back on a day there was a literal terror attack unfolding across the Atlantic, Vice hastily deleted the tweet and changed the article title to the toned down, Let's Get Rid of Mt. Rushmore – this time with an editor's note at the bottom of the page attempting to explain the change: 

    Editor's note: The headline and URL of this story have been updated. We do not condone violence in any shape or form, and the use of "blow up" in the original headline as a rhetorical device was misguided and insensitive. We apologize for the error.

    Rhetorical device? The content of the article still supports destroying America's most celebrated and iconic historic monument dedicated to American presidents. The author literally states he is "onboard" should there ever be "a serious push to blow up Rushmore":

    With the president of the United States basically justifying neo-Nazism, it seems unthinkable that we will ever see a day when there is a serious push to blow up Rushmore and other monuments like it. But if that moment ever arrives, I suspect I'd be onboard.

    Cooper further (not so) eloquently calls for leveling the whole place, and presumably all monuments devoted to past US "cults of personality" (as he calls them):

    Demystifying the historical figures of the past, pulling them off the great mountain top back down to Earth where they shat, farted, spit, pissed, fucked, raped, murdered, died, and rotted seems like important business for this country. As long as we allow those men to be cults of personality who exist beyond reproach, we're never going to be able to see them for all of their good and all of their evil. 

    Disturbingly, the call for leveling such monuments is contained in the conclusion of an article with repeat references equating President Trump with neo-Nazis:

    Trump and his white supremacist cohorts believe the reverence some Americans have for these statues is simply respect for history, and that tearing them down is tantamount to ripping pages out of a textbook.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Ironically, the article does acknowledge the truthfulness of Trump's recent words that we are headed towards a dangerously iconoclastic slippery slope set to end in the demolishing of American history. But the Vice article at the outset essentially says… yes! Let's do just that:

    Donald Trump says removing confederate statues is a slippery slope that could get out of control. Maybe he's right—would that be such a bad thing?

    And if a private citizen said "let's blow up Mount Rushmore" and published an article which seriously explored destroying the site – an article which was clearly "pro" dynamiting the monument? It doesn't take much imagination to know who would come knocking if this were anything but a $5.7 billion news organization.

  • Krieger Warns "Nazi Fears & 'Hate Speech' Hysteria Are Being Amplified To Attack Civil Liberties"

    Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

    It doesn’t take courage to denounce Nazism. Moreover, it appears many of the people incessantly proclaiming how anti-Nazi they are, happen to be the same folks who have the most to answer for when it comes to all sorts of transgressions against the world over the past couple of decades.

    That said, I’ll give my my quick two cents on the Nazi, white supremacist hysteria currently being amplified by the corporate media.

    The general proclivity to obsess about how one’s group, whether it be a nation, political tribe, or race/religion is superior to all others represents such a immature and unconscious way of seeing the world, it’s really is hard for me to believe so many people still see reality through such a lens. This type of thinking tends to attract very insecure people. People who cannot look at themselves individually and be proud of the person they see. As such, they scurry around looking for a group with an established superiority myth which they can then latch themselves onto in order to feel better about themselves.

    The good news when it comes to Nazism/white supremacy, at least here in the U.S., is that most people appear to be at least conscious enough not to fall for the most basic and primal type of tribalism — i.e., finding a race-based superiority cult attractive. In contrast, the more nuanced superiority cults, such as those based on mindless nationalism or political identity, are far more entrenched here at home, and present a much greater danger to our future.

    Before some of you lose it, I wrote “mindless” nationalism for a reason. I think it’s completely normal and healthy for everyone to love and appreciate their own national/regional culture, this is not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about the hordes of mindless automatons who simply fly the American flag and constantly profess their super-sized patriotism, while being completely unaware of the multitude of evil and anti-American actions being done both at home and abroad in their names. It doesn’t seem to matter to these type that their government is acting in total opposition to the Constitution they ostensibly claim to uphold. These people might be less shallow than an self-professed Nazi, but they are far more dangerous to decent, ethical Americans at home, and billions of innocent people abroad. Political party tribalists represent a similar threat, as I’ve discussed on many occasions.

    To summarize, Nazism has become almost as discredited as slavery within the minds of most humans. Meaning, it’s such a patently grotesque, childish and unconscious ideology, it can and will only attract very small pockets of people. In fact, given the rampant corruption, wealth inequality and societal decay we’re experiencing in these United States, I’m somewhat encouraged that the movement is as small and insignificant as it is. Of course, I could be wrong about all of this (we’ll have to see how things unfold if the empire collapses chaotically), but that’s how I see it at the moment. Should that ever change, of course I will fight Nazism, or anything similar with all my energy. In contrast, I think other forms of mindless tribalism, political and nationalistic, are far more likely to cause major disasters in the years ahead.

    If I’m right about what I wrote above, why is the corporate media acting so hysterically in response to this small collection of hateful misfits? Let me share a few tweets I wrote yesterday to start the conversations.

     

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    You can probably tell where I’m going with this. Namely, a lot of really terrible people are trying to reinvent themselves by hyping up the Nazi threat. I’ve discussed this dangerous phenomenon in recent posts, but it’s important enough to keep hammering home. The examples are pretty much everywhere you look. Here’s a particularly shameless example I came across earlier today:

     

    Sarah’s not exaggerating. Here’s the exact quote Madeline Albright made on 60 Minutes:

    Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

     

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.

     

    60 Minutes (5/12/96)

    Lesson number one. Don’t let terrible people get away with moral preening about some relatively insignificant Nazi threat when these are the very same people who have run this country and much of the world into the toilet bowl.

    Lesson number two. Don’t allow authoritarians to manipulate your emotions about white supremacy (or any other threat for that matter) as an excuse to take away cherished civil liberties. These types have been selling us on giving away our rights since 9/11, and they continue to use any threat they can to take away those that remain. Free speech is the holy grail for tyrants, and anyone who suggests we give up speech to protect ourselves presents a threat to us all. I came across two examples of this today in the normal course of my reading.

    First, an attorney who works for UCLA named K-Sue Park, wrote an op-ed published in The New York Times titled, The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech. It’s one of the most incoherent, authoritarian pieces I’ve read in a while and, although a painful read, you should definitely check it out. It doesn’t take much logic to recognize that her call for the government to decide which speech is acceptable and which is not, is actually far more dangerous to society than a few hundred Nazis getting together in Virginia, irrespective of the terrible loss of life.

    Another example of this authoritarian impulse was penned by Leonid Bershidsky in his Bloomberg article, Facebook and Twitter Are Too Big to Allow Fake Users. To be fair, this article was written before the Charlottesville attack, so I would not characterize him as using the attack to push this narrative, but it’s a wildly dangerous view nonetheless. He writes:

    Social networks should be obliged to ban anonymous accounts. If they refuse to do so voluntarily, government regulators should force the issue.

    This is a completely unhinged response to the problems of “trolling, fake news and cyberbullying,” which he identifies. It’s the equivalent of taking a nuclear bomb to a knife fight. As someone who spends a great deal of time on Twitter, I can tell you that some of the most insightful and humorous accounts I follow are anonymous. This makes total sense because most people have jobs, and people with jobs can be easily fired or ostracized. Not because they’re writing pro-Nazi tweets, but because everything is essentially political these days, and if your boss happens to be a member of a different political tribe, it could affect your career. Did we already forget what happened to James Damore?

    If social media companies suddenly banned anonymous accounts, the entire internet and discourse on it would instantly become 90% less interesting, creative and dynamic. Much of the promise of the web would be crippled by such a policy, and humanity would be far worse off for it.

    Such a policy would crush political speech online, and limit it largely to those who create political content professionally. I could see why people in power would want to do this, but I can’t grasp how anyone else could be so naive to support such a agenda.

    As Patrick Chovanec (who lived and worked in China), so insightfully tweeted:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Ultimately, we need to recognize that fear is our biggest enemy. The corporate media tries to keep us in a constant state of fear, because it’s in a state of fear where we are most vulnerable and hence easily manipulated. Don’t succumb to fear. Stand strong, be courageous and don’t every give up liberties because some pundit tells you it’s what you need to do to fight whatever enemy they happen to be hyping at the moment.

    Finally, let’s finish with a classic clip from the late Bill Hicks, who I consider to be an American prophet. He said it much better than I ever could.

  • Millennials Are Using Financing To Pay For $450 Blenders

    Low wages, mounting student debt and rising rents in the trendy urban centers where millennials prefer to live leave young people with little to spend on luxuries like an iPhone, or tickets to Fyre Festival pt. II. So, since millennials can’t seem to buy anything outright, payment companies are partnering with businesses to offer financing options for goods that, in the past, would’ve gone straight on the credit card, according to MarketWatch.

    With interest rates ranging from 0% to 30%, compared with the average rate of 17% on credit cards, millennials are increasingly financing purchases from airplane tickets to luxury bedsheets with loans from payment companies like PayPal and Affirm. Indeed, millennials' seeming inability to pay for anything outright has caused revolving debt in the US to balloon past $1 trillion.

    Millennials want luxury sheets, Peloton exercise bikes and music festival tickets, but they don’t always have enough cash or a desire to put them on a credit card. So they are turning to an even more expensive method of payment: financing. In recent years, payment companies including PayPal, Affirm and Bread have created installment plans for retailers that give consumers the option to finance the weirdest purchases over time.”

    PayPal works with retailers to offer financing to consumers, who typically use it to pay for a range of goods, from guitars to luxury handbags. If borrowers don’t pay down their balance within an agreed-upon timeframe, they could see interest rates on the purchase rise as high as 20% APR.

    “PayPal offers two types of credit, both as part of a program called PayPal Credit. One option is to wait six months without paying anything, and no interest on purchases over $99 from select retailers. The other option is an installment payment plan called Easy Payments: Consumers pay interest at an APR of 19.99% if they don’t first pay off their balance within the term they select.

     

    Before shoppers are approved for either product, PayPal does a hard credit inquiry, which can result in a few points docked from consumers’ scores, temporarily. But once approved, PayPal doesn’t need to do a second one for future products. Consumers finance luxury handbags, guitars from Dave’s Guitars, pots and pans from Sur La Table and blenders from Vitamix, said Dana Warren, PayPal’s senior director of merchant distribution for PayPal Credit.”

    Holly Hacker, Vitamix’s director of direct sales and customer experience, told MarketWatch that if you can’t afford one of their blenders, don’t buy one. But would young single people buy a nearly $500 blender if they couldn't finance it?

    “Vitamix blenders start at $450, an easier purchase for higher-income households, but “out of range” for some who are younger, said Holly Hacker, Vitamix’s director of direct sales and customer experience.

     

    Shoppers have also financed items including Cartier bracelets, worth $5,000 to $6,000 and Chanel wallets, worth about $1,700 to $1,900 from Linda’s Stuff, a luxury consignment website run by Linda Lightman, the company’s founder and CEO.”

    Of course, personal-finance experts say consumers should avoid financing “discretionary” purchases like the examples mentioned above.

    “However, personal-finance experts typically warn against making purchases, even on a financing plan, that consumers can’t afford. “You want to avoid financing these types of discretionary purchases,” said Nick Clements, the co-founder of personal-finance company MagnifyMoney, who previously worked in the credit-card industry. “If you’re looking for a way to finance discretionary purchases, look at your budget and ask yourself the hard question: Why.’”

    Affirm, another financing company, says the most common type of purchase they help finance is travel, followed by home wares and apparel. That fits with millennials' penchant for valuing experiences like travel over physical goods. And what happens when a consumer doesn’t pay? Affirm takes a writeoff and sells the debt to a collections agency, then disqualifies the borrower from their service. With millennials showing.

    Most millennials came of age during a period when interest rates were at rock bottom. But now that interest rates are slowly moving higher, will young people stop relying on debt to fund everyday purchases? Or will they slowly see their balances creep higher as they find it increasingly difficult to pay down what they owe, causing aggregate debt levels to soar?
     

  • Caught On Tape: Spanish Police Kill Five Suicide Bombers In Separate Terrorist Plot

    Update: The police force for Spain’s Catalonia region says its troopers shot and killed four suspects and wounded a fifth in a resort town south of Barcelona to “respond to a terrorist attack.” The regional police said in a tweet that they are investigating whether the Cambrils suspects were wearing explosive vests. Its officers planned to carry out several controlled explosions. The force says it is working on the theory that the Cambrils suspects were linked to the Barcelona attack, as well as to a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

    Subsequently, the police said the fifth suspect shot in the resort town of Cambrils has died and six civilians have been injured. Police earlier Friday morning had said four suspects had been killed in the town south of Barcelona during a police operation to “respond to a terrorist attack.”

    * * *

    Spanish police have shot and killed four people while carrying out an operation in response to what was reportedly another terrorist attack in a town south of Barcelon .

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    The regional police for the Catalonia region said on Twitter early on Friday that officers are in Cambrils, a seaside resort town about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Barcelona, where they are dealing with a “possible terror attack.”

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Videos capturing the shooting and the immediate aftermath were distributed on twitter:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    The military operation was announced around midnight local time, when the Catalonia emergency service tweeted: “IF YOU’RE NOW IN £Cambrils avoid going out. Stay home, stay safe. Police operation ongoing.”

    The service urged people in the town not to go out on the streets.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    As AP reports citing Spain’s RTVE, regional police troopers killed four people and injured another seven. The broadcaster added that the police suspected they were planning an attack in Cambrils just hours after a van swerved onto a pedestrian promenade in Barcelona, killing 13.

    It also adds that according to police sources, “the terrorists carried explosives attached to the body.” The broadcaster said the suspects tried to carry out a similar attack to the one in Barcelona.

    Which begs the question: has Spain become the focal point of another suicide bombing terrorist cell?

    Developing.

Digest powered by RSS Digest

%d bloggers like this: