Sunday, 28 February 2021

The inequality crisis, the real unemployment rate, and space empire

Redacted Tonight: The inequality crisis, the real unemployment rate, and space empire (Podcast)

The richest people in the world have stolen trillions from average Americans over the last four decades. Lee Camp takes a look at the redistribution of wealth that our ruling class loves and what we can do about it. The rich have been stealing from the public coffers for too long and taking that money back isn’t a radical proposition. In ‘Taking the News from Behind’, Lee exposes the real unemployment rate, Amazon stealing tips from delivery drivers, and the environmental impact of modern society’s addiction to meat.
Anders Lee reports on the corporate fight to commercialize space. Elon Musk has made his name on privatized space travel and he has been successful. If the trends continue, we might be looking toward a future of space fascism. Natalie McGill and Lee discuss Joe Biden’s plans to turn the US-Mexico border into a full-surveillance zone, a study on how Big Pharma kills medical progress, and more.
Redacted Tonight.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

The next Covid-19 vaccine hurdle: Convincing millions of Americans they want the shot

[But] public health experts are increasingly warning of what may come as America inches closer to the finish line in its vaccine campaign: After the majority of people who want a vaccine get one, there’s a large minority of people who have voiced skepticism in public surveys. And if these people don’t change their minds in the coming months, they could doom any chance the US has of reaching herd immunity.

“There’s going to be a point … where there’s going to be vaccine available, and getting people to take it will be the primary issue,” Emily Brunson, a medical anthropologist at Texas State University, told me.

To reach herd immunity, experts generally estimate that we’ll need to vaccinate at least 70 to 80 percent of the population — though it could be more or less, because we don’t really know for sure with a new virus. Yet according to a recent AP-NORC survey, 32 percent of Americans say they definitely or probably won’t get a Covid-19 vaccine. If that holds and the herd immunity estimates are correct, it would make herd immunity impossible.

Public health experts say there are ways to make people more willing to get vaccinated, but such efforts have to be flexible to match the different concerns about a vaccine different communities and individuals may hold. What might sway skeptical white Republicans who don’t see Covid-19 as a threat won’t necessarily work for Black communities that are distrustful of a medical establishment that has long neglected and even abused them.

Whatever anti-hesitancy campaigns take shape, though, must happen quickly. With every day the coronavirus continues to spread across America, the country sets itself up for hundreds if not thousands more deaths a day — not to mention the constant need for social distancing, a weakened economy, and potentially harsher restrictions on daily life. Each day of uncontrolled spread also brings the risk of new, more dangerous coronavirus variants, as each replication of the virus carries the risk of a mutation that catches on more widely.

Now, the days when hesitancy becomes the top vaccine problem may still be up to months away. But if the pandemic should have taught us anything, it’s that it’s better to be proactive than reactive. It’s not too late to get ahead of this problem before it becomes the next major bottleneck in America’s efforts to end its outbreak.

Vox.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Simulation Theory by Muse

Watch the whole film here (BBC iPlayer).
Conceived and filmed at London's O2 Arena in September 2019 the film directed by Lance Drake, (who also directed all the promo videos for Simulation Theory album) and Produced by Muse, Pulse Films, Lance Drake, Jesse-Lee Stout and Matthew Bellamy, follows a team of scientists as they investigate the source of a paranormal anomaly appearing around the world. Blurring the lines between narrative and concert film, virtual and reality, Muse's most theatrical tour to date launches the viewer through a supernatural spectacle, questioning the world around us.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Breaking! Sales of blackfacing stuff skyrocket as CoCa Cola tells staff to be 'less white'!

Photos of Coca-Cola's online training seminar were shared on social media this week, showing slides that featured tips on how "to be less white," including being "less ignorant," and "less oppressive."

The Sun (frothing at the mouth!)

Surely this is a vicious attack by the Woke tribe to try and induce as many aneurysms/strokes in theConservative tribe? I mean, It's gotta be... a Woke Bomb! Saucier than a direct hit on a Heinz factory!

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Radical anti-vaccine faction that shut down Dodger Stadium says it is not done

A year ago, before coronavirus changed the world, stand-up comedian Jason Lefkowitz was shopping a script, working three nights a week as a Beverly Hills waiter and posting on social media about Bernie Sanders (like), high-fructose corn syrup (dislike) and the Philadelphia Eagles (love).

Now, he supports Donald Trump, believes there is an elite ring of pedophiles running loose in Hollywood and Washington and led a protest that shut down the vaccine clinic at Dodger Stadium last week.

“I want my life back. I want to go to work. I don’t want government checks,” Lefkowitz said in an interview with The Times Wednesday. “They have made me what I am.”

Lefkowitz contends that his group did not intend to shut down the vaccine site Saturday, and he was surprised when fire authorities closed the gates, blocking cars from entering for about an hour in what city officials later described as a precaution to allow vaccinations to continue inside. But he also felt pride when he realized what the group had done, believing it had saved lives by stopping the shots.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this is totally going to make the news now. This is going to cause a big stink,’” he said.

The Dodger Stadium protest, said Lefkowitz and others, isn’t the last.

Across California, motivated activists are turning energy once directed at federal politics towards more local concerns. Loosely connected online through causes such as ending COVID-19 shutdowns, the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, conspiracies fostered by QAnon and even far-right takes on Christianity, they all agree that government at every level is oppressive and must be resisted.

Ignoring public health orders and the coronavirus deaths of 450,000 Americans, they are entering stores without masks, eating at restaurants that refuse to shut down, hosting curfew-breaking parties at the beach — and thinking of ways to go bigger.

“I believe things are going to become much more local and vocal,” said Peggy Hall, an Orange County activist who champions those who would contest orders for business closures, masks and vaccinations.

Though she said she doesn’t protest herself, she is a frequent speaker and event promoter who has worked with Nari Choi, who ran the Facebook group Shop Mask Free Los Angeles, which promoted the vaccination site demonstration. The end of Trump’s presidency as a rallying point will not deter those who championed his causes, she said. She envisions continued activism, and believes this is a high point in American civic engagement.

“People like drama. They like to be in the fight. They like to be in the frame. They want to be in the thick of things,” Hall said.

The Californians who turned out at Dodger Stadium came from as far away as Sacramento but they shared the combativeness and theatricality Hall points out. The CDC has deemed the two available vaccines safe and effective, but anti-science activists put little stock in such findings.

Omar Navarro went on Facebook Live outside Dodger Stadium the morning of Jan. 30 and said he was concerned L.A. residents were being forced to take a coronavirus vaccine “that they don’t need.”

“The left has instilled fear in every American in this country,” said Navarro, a conservative media figure who has run against and lost to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) multiple times, and who once backed out of speaking at a far-right rally after accusing his then-girlfriend of doing cocaine and sleeping with the Proud Boys. He also pleaded guilty in 2016 to a misdemeanor charge related to illegally placing a tracking device on his estranged wife’s car, and in 2020 was sentenced for a felony count of stalking and a misdemeanor count of making criminal threats, according to the San Francisco district attorney’s office.

“If you think about it, what they’re doing right here is a mass, mass, massive, massive indoctrination,” Navarro said. “They want to basically hurt people because this vaccination is definitely not good.”

Navarro then denounced Gov. Gavin Newsom, saying that he has destroyed the state’s economy and calling him a hypocrite for attending a dinner at the Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant in November.

Siaka Massaquoi, an actor who has played bit parts on shows including Fox’s “Lethal Weapon,” according to IMDb, also filmed himself protesting at Dodger Stadium last Saturday.

He panned his camera to a line of cars outside the vaccination site, saying that the gates had been closed because authorities are “afraid that us here who are protesting will come and attack,” referring to the storming of the U.S. Capitol last month. A woman near him carried a poster that said, “This sign tested positive for covid-19.”

In the video, he spoke with Nick Yaya, an actor and host “The Free America Podcast” which on its website describes itself as “a show that was created to destroy the lies and disinformation perpetuated by the Mainstream Media.” Yaya, dressed in what appeared to be a white lab coat, hosted Lefkowitz on his show earlier this month.

“Essentially, what they’re doing right now is a big experiment with people,” Yaya said, of vaccination efforts.

On his Instagram account, Massaquoi also expressed support for an effort to recall Newsom. In a video posted in late December, he urged local businesses to “take back California” and open up on Jan. 1. A written post accompanying the video said that “tyrannical lockdowns” were not supported by data and science.

Massaquoi did not respond to a request for an interview. Yaya also said protesters did not intend to stop vaccinations, but were there to educate those waiting that the shots are “potentially deadly.”

Lucas Reese Isturiz was another of those present Saturday, prompted, he said in an interview with The Times, by his conservative Christian beliefs. A self-declared citizen journalist who films anti-lockdown events for his YouTube channel, Isturiz is also a follower of ultra-conservative Los Angeles pastor and radio and webcaster Jesse Lee Peterson. Peterson preaches that men are being feminized by current culture.

He has recently tweeted that new U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s only qualification is that he is “shamelessly & openly ‘GAY,’” and that “Men should never listen to women.”

“I don’t even call myself a Trump supporter or a Republican, I am just a patriot,” Isturiz said. “I am just trying to keep order in America.”

Isturiz was also cited for failure to disperse on Jan. 6 at a pro-Trump rally in downtown Los Angeles where a Black woman was assaulted in what is being investigated as a hate crime, according to police records. Isturiz said he spoke with the woman who was attacked that day to warn her not to approach those with whom he was protesting after “she gave me the stink eye,” he said, but he was not involved in the attack.

Siaka Massaquoi, an actor who has played bit parts on shows including Fox’s “Lethal Weapon,” according to IMDb, also filmed himself protesting at Dodger Stadium last Saturday.

He panned his camera to a line of cars outside the vaccination site, saying that the gates had been closed because authorities are “afraid that us here who are protesting will come and attack,” referring to the storming of the U.S. Capitol last month. A woman near him carried a poster that said, “This sign tested positive for covid-19.”

In the video, he spoke with Nick Yaya, an actor and host “The Free America Podcast” which on its website describes itself as “a show that was created to destroy the lies and disinformation perpetuated by the Mainstream Media.” Yaya, dressed in what appeared to be a white lab coat, hosted Lefkowitz on his show earlier this month.

“Essentially, what they’re doing right now is a big experiment with people,” Yaya said, of vaccination efforts.

On his Instagram account, Massaquoi also expressed support for an effort to recall Newsom. In a video posted in late December, he urged local businesses to “take back California” and open up on Jan. 1. A written post accompanying the video said that “tyrannical lockdowns” were not supported by data and science.

Massaquoi did not respond to a request for an interview. Yaya also said protesters did not intend to stop vaccinations, but were there to educate those waiting that the shots are “potentially deadly.”

Lucas Reese Isturiz was another of those present Saturday, prompted, he said in an interview with The Times, by his conservative Christian beliefs. A self-declared citizen journalist who films anti-lockdown events for his YouTube channel, Isturiz is also a follower of ultra-conservative Los Angeles pastor and radio and webcaster Jesse Lee Peterson. Peterson preaches that men are being feminized by current culture.

He has recently tweeted that new U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s only qualification is that he is “shamelessly & openly ‘GAY,’” and that “Men should never listen to women.”

“I don’t even call myself a Trump supporter or a Republican, I am just a patriot,” Isturiz said. “I am just trying to keep order in America.”

So they did. About two months ago, Lefkowitz said he began joining “shoppings” organized by others. They went to the Ralphs on La Brea Avenue, and a nearby Trader Joe’s. At first nervous, they entered in pairs and small groups, keeping their masks on for a minute or two before roaming around.

Entering stores mask free has become a common tactic for protesters across California and the U.S. At some of of the mask-free demonstrations locally, such as one Jan. 23 at a Family Dollar in Riverside County, participants harassed and berated store employees and even shoppers, and, after refusing to leave the property, were arrested on allegations of trespassing.

In late December, Lefkowitz took the lead for the first time, bringing about two dozen compatriots to force their way into the Erewhon market in the Fairfax district. When staff tried to block the door, they swarmed and pushed their way in.

Lefkowitz said he was surprised they weren’t more welcoming — he believed with their counterculture ethos, the Erewhon staff would be sympathetic to the group’s position. Police were called, however, and Lefkowitz and the others left peacefully. He said he believes mask-wearers are brainwashed.

“They look at you and they think you are the enemy,” he said. “I feel sad for them.”

Like Isturis, Lefkowitz said he receives death threats and has been stalked online. But he is undeterred.

“For me personally, I am going to try to focus on some bigger things,” he said. “This all plays into my stand-up background. I have no stage fright and I don’t care what people think of me.”“I don’t even call myself a Trump supporter or a Republican, I am just a patriot,” Isturiz said. “I am just trying to keep order in America.”

Isturiz was also cited for failure to disperse on Jan. 6 at a pro-Trump rally in downtown Los Angeles where a Black woman was assaulted in what is being investigated as a hate crime, according to police records. Isturiz said he spoke with the woman who was attacked that day to warn her not to approach those with whom he was protesting after “she gave me the stink eye,” he said, but he was not involved in the attack.

Isturiz said that he has received death threats for attending rallies and has been harassed online.

For Lefkowitz, the path to becoming the leader of the disparate group on Saturday began with the death of baseball legend Hank Aaron on Jan. 21. A week before the home-run king passed away, Aaron received his COVID-19 vaccination to help allay fears in the Black community about its safety.

“It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country,” Aaron said at the time.

But Lefkowitz has suspicions that the vaccine killed Aaron. With his mind circling around baseball and vaccines, he said, he hit on the idea of protesting at Dodger Stadium.

The event was the culmination of a year that has turned him from a Hollywood striver to a conservative agitator. When the shutdown happened last spring, he lost his waiter job. A comedy show he was headlining was canceled, and two production companies that were interested in his script put plans on hold, he said. Stuck at home, he began to do what he describes as online research.

He said he quickly found seemingly alarming information about sex trafficking. Many of those conspiracies, often labeled as #savethechildren, are related to QAnon and have been debunked numerous times. But Lefkowitz saw stories of villains and heroes led by Trump, fighting against “one big nasty party” of child abusers, he said.

“A man is supposed to protect women and children,” he said.

So he went to a rally against sex trafficking in front of the CNN building in Hollywood. Within a few months, he was at a “freedom” rally in Beverly Hills, and a protest in front of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s house demanding that he reopen L.A. He began to gravitate toward those in attendance without masks, making new acquaintances and sharing their frustrations. “We were like, we have got to go shopping and take our masks off.”

So they did. About two months ago, Lefkowitz said he began joining “shoppings” organized by others. They went to the Ralphs on La Brea Avenue, and a nearby Trader Joe’s. At first nervous, they entered in pairs and small groups, keeping their masks on for a minute or two before roaming around.

Entering stores mask free has become a common tactic for protesters across California and the U.S. At some of of the mask-free demonstrations locally, such as one Jan. 23 at a Family Dollar in Riverside County, participants harassed and berated store employees and even shoppers, and, after refusing to leave the property, were arrested on allegations of trespassing.

In late December, Lefkowitz took the lead for the first time, bringing about two dozen compatriots to force their way into the Erewhon market in the Fairfax district. When staff tried to block the door, they swarmed and pushed their way in.

Lefkowitz said he was surprised they weren’t more welcoming — he believed with their counterculture ethos, the Erewhon staff would be sympathetic to the group’s position. Police were called, however, and Lefkowitz and the others left peacefully. He said he believes mask-wearers are brainwashed.

“They look at you and they think you are the enemy,” he said. “I feel sad for them.”

Like Isturis, Lefkowitz said he receives death threats and has been stalked online. But he is undeterred.

“For me personally, I am going to try to focus on some bigger things,” he said. “This all plays into my stand-up background. I have no stage fright and I don’t care what people think of me.”

LA Times.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Child of the Exceptional Nation: Douchebag Erik Prince

Trump ally Erik Prince violated Libya arms embargo: UN report

Confidential report finds Prince supplied renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar with weapons and foreign mercenaries.

Private security contractor Erik Prince, a close ally of former US President Donald Trump, violated a United Nations arms embargo on Libya, UN investigators have found in a report detailed by US media.

The confidential report to the Security Council, obtained by The New York Times and The Washington Post, and partly seen by Al Jazeera, said on Friday that Prince deployed a force of foreign mercenaries and weapons to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, who has fought to overthrow the UN-recognised Libyan government, in 2019.

The $80m operation included plans to form a hit squad to track and kill Libyan commanders opposed to Haftar – including some who were also European Union citizens, The New York Times said.

Prince, a former Navy SEAL and brother of Trump’s education secretary Betsy Devos, drew infamy as the head of the Blackwater private security firm, whose contractors were accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

Four who were convicted were pardoned by Trump last year.

The accusation exposes Prince to possible UN sanctions, including a travel ban, the Times said.

Prince did not cooperate with the UN inquiry and his lawyer declined to comment to The New York Times, it added.

[...]

Moar words!

Friday, 19 February 2021

'Framing Britney Spears' review – a sobering look at sexism and celebrity

The hit documentary arrives on Sky and Now TV and explores the feeding frenzy that has surrounded the popstar since she was 10 years old

The measure of Britney Spears’ celebrity can be taken by the fact that Sky has brought the New York Times documentary about the singer’s life to the UK so quickly after it became a huge hit and talking point in the US. And by the near-certainty that it was already too late. Social media had instantly filled with advice on how and where to watch the programme illegally online and everyone who wanted to has done so – easily at first, as someone posted the entire thing on YouTube almost the minute the official broadcast was over, and with slightly more difficulty after it was taken down.

It’s also a measure of her celebrity that the documentary was made at all. Spears has been a star in the celebrity firmament since, alongside the likes of a tiny Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling, she was cast in The Mickey Mouse Club, Disney’s all-singing, all-dancing children’s TV show, in 1992 at the age of 11. She went supernova at 16 with her debut single (and album), … Baby One More Time, and has remained a superlative performer and tabloid fodder ever since.

The ostensible motivation of Framing Britney Spears is to investigate the controversy surrounding the conservatorship (a kind of imposed power-of-attorney-on-steroids) given to her father, Jamie, after Spears was involuntarily committed to a hospital psychiatric ward in 2008. “The only thing he ever said to me was: ‘My daughter’s gonna be so rich she’s gonna buy me a boat,’” recalled Spears’ record marketing director. “And that’s all I’m going to say about Jamie.”

This investigation was done relatively poorly, given the power and resources of the NYT, even in these journalistically straitened times. It mostly pulled together the information already out there – either generally, about this extreme form of control over a person’s life and assets, or specifically, about Spears’ circumstances.

Most of this had already been done by a group of fans who began a successful (in terms of its virality and traction-gaining) online protest campaign under the hashtag #FreeBritney. To express their support, they have gathered outside the Los Angeles court where Spears has begun a push to get her father replaced as conservator by an independent administrator. But the NYT was unable to verify the source of the anonymous voicemail that, claiming to be from a paralegal who had worked on the case, had given so much impetus to the movement. Nor was there anything else offered to solidify the long-felt discomfort and “common sense” distrust of Jamie’s motivations. His lawyer recently said: “Jamie Spears has diligently and professionally carried out his duties as one of Britney’s conservators, and his love for his daughter and dedication to protecting her is clearly apparent to the court.”

What the documentary did provide was a reconstruction of Spears’ career through a modern, post #MeToo lens. There is nothing stranger, of course, than the recent past – nor, in certain areas, more appalling. One moment from one of her earliest TV appearances – on the TV show Star Search, belting out Love Can Build a Bridge at the age of 10 with preternatural power, musicality and poise – could stand for the whole. After her barnstorming performance, the sexagenarian host Ed McMahon tells her she has pretty eyes and asks if he could be her boyfriend. You can see bafflement, discomfort and a desire to be polite chase across the child’s face. Politeness wins out. “Well,” she says. “It depends.”

"Stronger (my loneliness ain't killing me mo more)"

Questions about her breasts (implants? No implants? The world needed to know) and virginity (she grew up in the Bible belt and her image initially traded in all-American dream-girl tropes) followed as she grew up. And once the “bad boyfriend” years, marriage(s) and pregnancies followed, so did paparazzi pursuits and tabloid narratives about promiscuity, unfit motherhood and all the vicious rest. Then came the notorious – heavily papped – head-shaving breakdown, which only stoked the fire.

This was a well-curated assemblage of interview footage and commentary from people there at the time – one who had worked with most big boybands noted that not one of their members was ever scrutinised to anything like the degree Spears was. It comprehensively showcased the overt and systemic misogyny Spears (and by extension any young, female performer) faced and faces, within the industry as well as beyond. Rehearsal footage shows a young Spears replying loudly but calmly to an unheard voice: “I am not a diva. I just know what I want.”

The complicity of us all in feeding the frenzy that has surrounded her for 30 years, and the power we hand to the men in charge remain, even and especially as we assure ourselves that a sober documentary cannot be part of it. A point to ponder.

"My prerogative"

Source text.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Dumbocreeps 0, Orange Moron 2!

Trump can now rightly claim to be the only US President to have been acquitted TWICE of an impeachment! Dumbocrats opened their mouth and promptly and firmly put their foot in it too, AGAIN! TWICE: what a coinky-dinky!

Go on, give that man a Nobel Peace Prize! I mean, if we're going to empower/embolden Trump and his Trumpfites, why not?

Saturday, 6 February 2021

The Hoppean Snake...

WHAT THE FAR-RIGHT FASCINATION WITH PINOCHET’S DEATH SQUADS SHOULD TELL US

When Trumpists use images of the “Hoppean Snake,” offering “free helicopter rides,” they’re advocating a program of extermination.

AMONG THE PANOPLY of bizarre memes that far-right extremists flash at Trump rallies and share obsessively online, one of the more disturbing for its frightening historical reference is that of the “Hoppean Snake.” The image typically consists of a coiled serpent sporting the officer’s cap of notorious Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet. In the background fly childlike depictions of helicopters from which stick figures are jettisoned to their death, crying “Aaaahhh” in a barely legible scrawl. In one of its many variants, the snake-as-Pinochet proclaims with a sardonic smirk, “I’m evil for throwing people out of helicopters? False. Commies aren’t people.” It’s unclear why Pinochet is depicted as a snake, though it may be inspired by the recalcitrant snake on the Gadsden flag that warns “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Far from being a joking homage to Pinochet — putschist, tyrant, torturer, mass murderer, puppet of the CIA, and hater of all things socialist, who ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990 — the fetishized totem of the Hoppean Snake has dire significance for U.S. paramilitaries. When Boogaloo Bois, Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, armed Trumpists, and the like wear T-shirts that offer “free helicopter rides,” they are referencing a program of extermination.

Following Pinochet’s 1973 coup d’├ętat, which ended the short-lived and turbulent administration of Chile’s democratically elected president Salvador Allende, an avowed Marxist, thousands of Allende’s supporters were killed, tens of thousands of perceived enemies of the putschist regime were tortured, and thousands of others were disappeared, often after being flown in a military helicopter and toppled from the sky. Sometimes this free helicopter ride included splitting open the guts of kidnapped victims while they were still alive so that their bodies wouldn’t float when dumped in the sea.

“The Hoppean Snake is utilizing Cold War-era anti-communist imagery of a once-hidden history of right-wing brutality and terror that utilized U.S. military hardware,” said Portland-based investigative photojournalist Jeff Schwilk, who has documented the iconography of the alt-right since 2016. “Pinochet specifically hearkens to the heyday of U.S.-backed death squads in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, from the Phoenix Program in Vietnam to Suharto in Indonesia to the Contras in Nicaragua. It is a direct threat of the intention of deadly mass violence and future death squads targeting the left in the United States and anyone else deemed an enemy. It reveals the true nature of this ideology.”

On January 27, the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism advisory bulletin warning of the ongoing threat from far-right domestic extremists. The January 6 assault on the Capitol was said to be mere prologue, with “DVEs” — domestic violent extremists — now “emboldened … to target elected officials and government facilities.” The Homeland Security bulletin further warned of threats “against critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors.”

In the wake of Allende’s election in 1970, right-wing elements in Chile formed a paramilitary group called Patria y Libertad, or Fatherland and Liberty. Patria y Libertad was not too different in spirit from the militias now common on the right in the U.S., though it had foreign funding and training, courtesy of the CIA. The group engaged in arsons, assassinations, and disruptions of infrastructure — exactly what the Department of Homeland Security warns we should expect from violent domestic extremists today.

I FIRST CAME across the image of the Hoppean Snake while editing Schwilk’s 2020 book of essays and photography, “Unflattering Photos of Fascists: Authoritarianism in Trump’s America.” Schwilk’s intention was to find a modicum of humor in the costumed display and ostentation of the alt-right, and in the Hoppean Snake, there is something at first glance that’s comedic: the smiling crayon-colored reptile and the plunging stick figures, the deluded implication of a communist threat in U.S. politics (Who are these commies? I ask myself. The corporate capitalist dollar-drenched Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer?), all of it suggestive of ignorant, harmless folk propaganda. But this imagery, and the history it evokes, is far from harmless.

The origin of the name, when Schwilk first related it, seemed to strain belief. Prior to his entrance into the limelight of the epic realm of far-right struggle, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, a German-born immigrant to the United States, was a mostly forgotten libertarian economist who served out his days in the dungeons of academia at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Hoppe’s claim to fame in the small world of libertarian economics was as second-stringer and all-around gopher to his hero and intimate friend, Ludwig von Mises, who was considered, alongside Friedrich August von Hayek, one of the leading lights of the so-called Austrian school of economics. The Austrian school posited that there was no such thing as society except as a concatenation of individual choices in the marketplace. The individual was all; society was a mere afterthought of the many atomized creatures in it, and any attempt to aggregate the interests of the clashing atoms — say, in the form of democratic decision-making via universal suffrage — was a form of oppressive statist intervention. Hoppe’s contribution to the Austrian school was his 2001 book, “Democracy: The God That Failed,” whose title basically was the message.

That the snake is “Hoppean” begins to make a kind of conspiratorial sense when you consider the career of Mises’s intellectual brother, Hayek, who died in 1992. Hayek was a big fan of Pinochet, visiting Chile in 1975 to meet with the dictator to celebrate and advise on the dismantling of the country’s programs of social welfare, the massive privatization of public goods, and the deregulation of corporate interests. Along with Milton Friedman, Hayek was among the ambassadors of neoliberalism in fascist Chile described by Naomi Klein in “The Shock Doctrine.” As historian Greg Grandin writes, “Hayek glimpsed in Pinochet the avatar of true freedom, who would rule as a dictator only for a ‘transitional period,’ only so long as needed to reverse decades of state regulation.” The concern of the libertarians — Hayek, Friedman, and their ilk — was the liberty of business to make more money but not at all the humans who were being murdered and tortured to further the great project of corporate freedom.

What garnered Hoppe the far right’s honor of associating him with Pinochet’s homicidal regime, however, was not the introduction of neoliberalism in Chile but specifically his musings about the democratic god that failed. Hoppe contends that the “physical removal” of undesirable citizens will be required in a putative libertarian “compact.” “There can be no tolerance,” he writes, “toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They — the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism — will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”

When I wrote Hoppe to ask, as I put it in an email, about his name “being associated with a meme that celebrates mass murder,” he replied, “Your question — and insinuation — indicates that you are completely ignorant regarding my person and intellectual work. Even by the low intellectual standards of most contemporary journalists and journalism, then, [it] strikes me as scandalous and impudent. As even a cursory study of my website would reveal, for more than 40 years I have been an intellectual champion of private property right, free markets, freedom of contract and association, and peace.”

When I pressed him about the tying of his ideas to the snake meme, he wrote back, “What do I know? There are lots of crazy people out there!” Perhaps he should communicate this to the extremists who have adopted him as an avatar for a doctrine of terror.

By Christopher Ketcham

Friday, 5 February 2021

Trump: Faux Revolutionary

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Now for the second event. When pro-Trump protesters invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, they also did the right thing for the wrong reason: they were right in protesting the US electoral system with its complicated mechanisms whose aim is to render impossible a direct expression of popular dissatisfaction (this was clearly stated by the Founding Fathers themselves). But their attempt was not a Fascist coup. Prior to taking power, Fascists make a deal with big business, but now “Trump should be removed from office to preserve democracy, business leaders say.” So did Trump incite the protesters against big business? Not really — recall that Steve Bannon was thrown out of the White House when he not only opposed Trump’s tax plan but openly advocated raising taxes for the rich to 40 percent; he also argued that rescuing banks with public money is “socialism for the rich.” [my emph.] Trump advocating ordinary people’s interests is like the titular character from Orson Welles’ classic movie Citizen Kane. When a rich banker accuses Kane of speaking for the poor mob, he answers that, yes, his newspaper speaks for the poor ordinary people in order to prevent the true danger, which is that the poor ordinary people will speak for themselves.
As Yuval Kremnitzer demonstrated, Trump is a populist who remains within the system. Like any populism, today’s also distrusts political representation, the pretense of speaking directly for the people. It complains about how its hands are tied by the “deep state” and financial establishment, so its message is “If only we didn’t have our hands tied, we would be able to do away with our enemies once and for all.” However, in contrast to old authoritarian populism (like Fascism), which is ready to abolish formal-representative democracy and really take over and impose a new order, today’s populism doesn’t have a coherent vision of some new order. The positive content of its ideology and politics is an inconsistent bricolage of measures to bribe “our own” poor, to lower the taxes for the rich, to focus hatred on immigrants and our own corrupt elite outsourcing jobs, etc. That’s why today’s populists don’t really want to get rid of the established representative democracy and fully take power. “Without the ‘fetters’ of the liberal order to struggle against, the new right would actually have to take some real action,” and this would render obvious the vacuity of their program. Today’s populists can only function in the indefinite postponement of achieving their goal since they can only function as opposing the “deep state” of the liberal establishment: “The new right does not, at least not at this stage, seek to establish a supreme value — for instance, the nation, or the leader — that would fully express the will of the people and thereby allow and perhaps even require the abolition of the mechanisms of representation.”
What this means is that the true victims of Trump are his ordinary supporters who take seriously his babble against liberal corporate elites and big banks. He is the traitor of his own populist cause. His liberal critics accuse him of seemingly controlling his supporters ready to violently fight for him, while he is really at their side, inciting them to violence. But he is NOT really on their side. On the morning of Jan. 6 he addressed the rally on the Ellipse: “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” However, when the mob did this and approached the Capitol, Trump retreated to the White House and watched on television as the violence unfolded on Capitol Hill.
Did Trump really want a coup d’├ętat? Unambiguously NO. When the mob penetrated the Capitol, he made a statement: “’I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.” Trump blamed his opponents for the violence today and praised his supporters, saying, “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you; you’re very special.” And when the mob began to disperse, Trump posted a tweet defending the actions of his supporters who stormed and vandalized the Capitol: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.” He concluded his tweet with: “Remember this day forever!” Yes, we should — because it displayed the fakeness of US democracy as well as the fakeness of the populist protest against it. Just a few elections in the US really mattered, such as the California gubernatorial election in 1934, when Democratic candidate Upton Sinclair lost because the entire establishment organized an unheard-of campaign of lies and defamations. (Hollywood announced that, if Sinclair won, it would move to Florida.)

Slavoj Zizek.

H/T Farmer.