Democrats and Neocons have to be blowing the paranoia about Russia that existed in the 1950's out of the water right now. And, it should be noted, McCarthy was at least partially vindicated (ahem, Alger Hiss, ahem Harry Dexter White).
On the other hand, as I've noted, the evidence for RussiaGate (other than them paying for a handful of Black Lives Matter ads on Facebook and deviously meddling with the US election through Pokemon Go) is really, really weak.
Nevermind that though, on the cusp of releasing the dreaded Nunes memo, MSNBC's John Heilemann asked Senator Chris Murphy if it's possible that Devin Nunes is a "Russian agent?" Yes, I'm quite serious, see for yourself:
Good God, even McCarthy would be disgusted by this (especially since McCarthy actually had some evidence whereas Heilemann is just bloviating nonsense).
Indeed, Russophobe Adam Schiff made the rounds fearmongering about how this 4-page memo would threaten national security. That, of course, was completely false.
And it's all the more ridiculous since if what the memo says is true, it's an incredibly damning to the Clinton campaign, the DNC, many in the FBI and the FISA courts. And, guess who was literally on RT, Russia's state sponsored television station, talking about the need to make the FISA courts accountable:
Ladies and gentlemen, I have plenty of problems with Donald Trump (see here and here), but in case you didn't know, Russia is a nuclear power. They're also not a state sponsor of terrorism. Furthermore, it's mostly been the West and the United States that have inflamed tensions with them since the Cold War ended by pushing NATO up to their door step.
This rhetoric and fearmongering is ridiculous and needs to stop. We just can't risk a confrontation with Russia because the Democrats can't get over the fact they lost an election.
So I got around to reading Between the World and Me, which is a short book that received an incredible amount of acclaim. I wasn't impressed.
I will say that Ta-Nehisi Coates has a good way with words and can craft some poetic sentences. But that "poetry" if you want to call it that, is hollow.
First and foremost, there is the ever present obsession with "bodies," particularly "black bodies" and particularly the violence that "those who believe they are white" or "dreamers" do to those poor "black bodies." The whole thing reeks of some sort of pseudo-intellectualism. At one point he writes that white society was saying "we were inferior and therefore our bodies were inferior." Yeah, that would quite obviously follow.
The book would have read exactly the same had it not been with this odd contrivance that borders on a fetishization. But that's sort of the problem the entire book has. For example, take this sentence,
"You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body."
I guess this is supposed to mean that violence is done to black bodies based using a scientific-sounding, but ultimately racist rationale. Or something.
But there in lies the biggest problem with this book. Yes, it's meant as a letter to his son, but the whole thing is an argument by assertion. Controversial police shootings, such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were simply shot in cold blood by white people and let off because the system of white supremacy hates black bodies or something.
Nevermind that George Zimmerman is Hispanic or that the evidence strongly points to Martin attacking Zimmerman first and the whole "hands up, don't shoot" narrative being fraudulent in the case of Brown, Coates asserts those shootings were unjustified. So they are.
The sames goes as Coates dives into Afrocentrism and once again simply asserts the ancient Egyptians were black, even though modern Egyptians aren't black and this "fact" lies somewhere between not settled and wrong.
This is all splitting hairs of course. Really, who cares? But that leads to the next problem. Us white people are "dreamers" or "those who believe they are white." After all, the Irish weren't considered white, right?
Yeah, no. Eight of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were Irish. Yes, the Irish had a bad reputation during the 19th century, but that had to do with ethnic tensions, the fact they were Catholic and some of the rough and tumble ways they brought with them. And that reputation gradually diminished to the point of being all but forgotten.
Diminishing the importance of racial differences as has been done with ethnic differences doesn't seem to be Coates goal though. Indeed, at times this brief book reads like something close to a declaration of war. While he takes pride in all the accomplishments of black people, he refers to whites repeatedly as "those who think they are white." Again, this is supposed to mean something, I guess. Whites think they are descended from Europeans. So he gets a race to be proud of and identify with but whites, or "dreamers" must do what to assuage their inherited guilt? Become raceless? No real solution is given.
As others have said before, it's either identity politics for everyone or identity politics for no one. This philosophy of rationalized hypocrisy will just lead to more and more racial tension. Coates effectively blames the destitution of the black community entirely on whites and particularly on the suburbs which were "built on black bodies." There is little if any nuisance here. Black poverty, unemployment and black on black violence is white people's fault. Coates and his ilk might as well be rocket fuel for the Alt Right.
Yes, whites have done horrible things to blacks. But as Coates himself notes at the beginning, there's nothing unusual about the crimes of European ancestors when you look at what else has been done in the world. (Take for example, the crimes of the Ottoman Empire.) America calls itself "exceptional" however, so Coates says he will hold it to an exceptional level. And to what end? To vilify one group that can only cleanse its Original Sin by becoming raceless (or whatever implied solution he had in mind).
In the end, the book is little more than a pseudo-intellectual, bitter rant.
So we had to endure another celebrity award show, this time the Grammy's, as a bunch of multimillionaires bravely spoke truth to power by regurgitating what everyone else there said and thought.
In the middle of this, Hillary Clinton got a cameo reading from Michael Wolff's new book Fire and Fury. Sure, Wolff has been caught stating multiple dubious claims and admits he doesn't even know if what he wrote was true, but whatever. The point here is that no matter how hard you try, you just can't make Hillary Clinton cool.
Presidents and politicians certainly don't have to be cool. But for some reason, the Left has tried to shove down our throats that a sick, awkward (or possibly drunk), pandering yet vacuous individual is "cool" or "hip."
Yes, her husband--despite his womanizing and perhaps rapey ways--was quite charismatic. Bill seems down-to-earth and like a guy you would like to get to know (although never leave your daughter alone with). Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is about as fake and hollow as you could imagine. It's incredible that the mainstream Left can't see that.
It really screams that the mainstream is out of touch. What used to be cool; MTV, celebrities, etc. are now just a bunch of virtue signaling millionaires who whine about nameless trolls on social media who say mean things. Perhaps conservatism really is the new counterculture and Leftwing celebrities are the new church ladies telling us that rock music is the work of the Devil.
I never thought it would have come to the point that the Right is "cool" of even coolish, but here we are.
A while back, I made a "rule" that stated if "If a policy being proposed was that policy held by the United States or Britain at the time they defeated Nazi Germany and literally Hitler, it cannot be referred to, in and of itself, as fascist."
Now I may have to make another as it appears that a whole bunch of blacks and Hispanics are racist, xenophobic, nativist, white supremacist "literally Hitlers." According to a new Harvard-Harris poll,
"Most Americans support a much lower level of immigration – currently well over one million immigrants per year. Sixty-three percent of Americans support a level of less than 500,000 immigrants per year, including 55 percent of Hispanics, 63 percent of African Americans and 79 percent of Republicans."
In fact more Americans support zero immigration (9 percent) versus maintaining the current level (7 percent). And the vast majority want to favor immigrants who are educated and skilled,
"Nearly eight out of 10 voters think that U.S. immigration policy should favor those coming to the U.S. with specific skills or education, and not just based on the fact that they have a relative in the U.S. The support for skills-based immigration was even higher among African Americans, who supported a system based on personal merit by 85 percent. Hispanic voters also strongly support merit-based immigration over the status quo, with a solid 72 percent majority."
But the Left can always fall back to this argument:
I just finished reading the great, albeit incredibly depressing book Dreamland by Sam Quinones. The book outlines what had been a silent epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction that has and is actually concentrated amongst middle class whites.
The CDC estimates that between 1999 and 2016, 200,000 people died of an overdose on prescription opioids. Many more died from heroin and as Dreamland notes, as many as 80 percent of those addicted to heroin started off as prescription opioid users.
It started with the "pain revolution" where many in the medical establishment were trying to liberalize the use of opioids for those with chronic pain. The concern, of course, was addiction. But then came a one paragraph letter to the editor in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 by two doctors, Porter and Jick, who had no intent of proving anything. It read in its entirety as follows,
"Recently, we examined our current files to determine the incidence of narcotic addiction in 39,946 hospitalized medical patients who were monitored consecutively. Although there were 11,882 patients who received at least one narcotic preparation, there were only four cases of reasonably well documented addiction in patients who had no history of addiction. The addiction was considered major in only one instance. The drugs implicated were meperidine in two patients, Percodan in one, and hydromorphone in one. We conclude that despite widespread use of narcotic drugs in hospitals, the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction."
No serious person could think that one doctor relaying his experience in a controlled environment should count for much if anything. But this became the rationale (excuse?) to open the flood gates on prescribing OxyContin and other opioids en masse. Pretty soon, this paragraph was being referenced as a "landmark study" and was cited over 600 times in medical journals.
Perdue Pharma lead the way in basically prescribing different versions of heroin to people, often for relatively minor injuries. More and more got hooked. Then Mexican drug cartels, particularly from one small town named Jalisco started created franchises of sorts all over the United States. This match made in Hell pushed the opioid scourge throughout middle America.
Things may finally be turning, hopefully. There have been several large lawsuits against Perdue Pharma and others and doctors are becoming more careful about prescribing these drugs. President Trump has also declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. But the malice and stupidity that allowed it to get this far are truly incredible.
I've noted before that I think the whole Russiagate thing is basically nonsense. Now it seems like Robert Mueller and his team are continually trying to prove me correct.
"The FBI mysteriously “failed to preserve” five months of text messages between a senior FBI agent who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation and his mistress, an FBI lawyer."
Yeah, that's totally normal.
"Strzok, as a senior FBI official, worked on both the Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations. He became the top investigator on the Trump-Russia case in July 2016 just weeks wrapping up his work as one of the top investigators in the Clinton probe.
"He was removed from Mueller’s investigation last summer after the DOJ inspector general learned of anti-Trump text messages he had exchanged with Page, whom he was having an extramarital affair with.
"Page was also a part of Mueller’s team, but left before the text messages were discovered."
Nothing to see here folks. Move along.
And somehow, it gets even worse than that. From Fox News,
"The Justice Department has given various congressional committees nearly 400 pages of additional text messages between two FBI officials who were removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
"One of the newly discovered messages, lawmakers said, appeared to indicate that Peter Strzok and Lisa Page knew that charges would not be filed against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as a result of the investigation into her email server -- before Clinton was interviewed by the bureau."
Absolutely Bush league (or perhaps criminal). I kind of believe government is always incompetent, but this kind of gross negligence even shocks a cynic like me.
So the Luddites were a 19th century group of English factory workers who destroyed weaving machines because "they took our jobs." Ever since, those who fear technology will increase unemployment and lower wages have been referred to as such. So far, their batting average is a respectable 0.000.
But things never happen until they do. After all, if we ever became so advanced that we created artificially intelligent cyborgs, it's hard to imagine we would have any jobs left, right? It might not matter, as we would be incredibly wealthy. But we would have to rethink economics, find something for people to do and prevent a sort of "techno-feudalism" from arising.
And everyday, I feel more and more that that is the future we are heading towards.
"Attention Seattle shoppers: Amazon is about to open its long-promised convenience store with zero checkout lines.
"Customers must scan the Amazon Go app upon entering the store. Sensors will then track their movements and charge shoppers' Amazon accounts for the items they grab. Customers just walk out of the store. No cashiers needed.
"Amazon Go's offerings include groceries, ready-to-eat meals, cold drinks and meal prep kits.
No employees will be necessary..."
For a more in depth look at this problem, check out the book Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford. It's disconcerting, although, given the amount of abundance such technology could bring, encouraging too, if we handle it correctly.
I just finished reading Drive by Daniel Pink and I must say that it is one of the best business and psychology books I've ever read!
The book discusses what Pink refers to as the "failure of Motivation 2.0." Basically, Motivation 1.0 is to find food, water, shelter, not get eaten by mountain lions, etc. Motivation 2.0 came to be around the time the firm was established. It was a simple matter of carrots and sticks. If you do good things, you get rewards, if you do bad things, you get punishments.
Turns out that this is not a very good way to do things. Indeed, Pink notes an analysis of 51 studies on performance based bonus incentives showed they actually hurt performance.
Pink offers seven reasons these carrot and stick rewards usually fail. The two that stuck out to me the most were:
1) They encourage cheating.
2) They can turn fun or interesting things into what feels like work.
He recommends trying to motivate people by inspiring their "intrinsic interest." This could be by challenging them, offering opportunities to learn and grow, to move up, etc. It's a lot trickier than the old carrot and stick model, but the research shows it is also a lot more effective.
So I have published my first article on ThinkRealty.com (and have an article set to be published in the print edition as well, I believe in March). The article discusses the pros and cons of managing yourself or hiring a property manager. The pros for hiring a manager:
- Save Time
- They Know More About Management (usually)
- Structure Already in Place
- Outsource Headaches
- Easier to say "No" (to tenants that is)
And for managing yourself:
- Save Money
- Gain Experience
- More Control
- Avoid Being Ripped Off (by unseemly managers, of which, unfortunately, there are a few)
- You Care the Most
As I conclude, "No matter what you decide to do, it’s important to put pen to pad and come up with the positives and negatives for each approach." Namely, you should know what you are getting into.
Check it out.
So they're finally going to audit the Pentagon, finally. The Pentagon had been the only federal department exempt from an audit and the reasons are becoming obvious,
"Earlier this year, a Michigan State University economist, working with graduate students and a former government official, found $21 trillion in unauthorized spending in the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015."
The work was done by Mark Skidmore who got interested because of, well, I'll quote the article again,
"Skidmore got involved last spring when he heard Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, refer to a report which indicated the Army had $6.5 trillion in unsupported adjustments, or spending, in fiscal 2015. Given the Army’s $122 billion budget, that meant unsupported adjustments were 54 times spending authorized by Congress. Typically, such adjustments in public budgets are only a small fraction of authorized spending."
It reminds me of back in 2001 when Donald Rumsfeld admitted the Pentagon "cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions."
Memo to hawkish fiscal conservatives: The military is just as bloated and inefficient as any other government agency.
"Every day is a new life to the wise man."
The Righteous Mind
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