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One brutal sentence captures what a disaster money in America has become
« Reply #3780 on: May 24, 2019, 05:07:06 AM »
Quote
"The bottom half of Americans combined have a negative net worth," Ben Steverman wrote in a recent Bloomberg article.

The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich

Thirty-two-year-old French economist Gabriel Zucman scours spreadsheets to find secret offshore accounts.


By
Ben Steverman

Gabriel Zucman started his first real job the Monday after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Fresh from the Paris School of Economics, where he’d studied with a professor named Thomas Piketty, Zucman had lined up an internship at Exane, the French brokerage firm. He joined a team writing commentary for clients and was given a task that felt absurd: Explain the shattering of the global economy. “Nobody knew what was going on,” he recalls.

At that moment, Zucman was also pondering whether to pursue a doctorate. He was already skeptical of mainstream economics. Now the dismal science looked more than ever like a batch of elaborate theories that had no relevance outside academia. But one day, as the crisis rolled on, he encountered data showing billions of dollars moving into and out of big economies and smaller ones such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He’d never seen studies of these flows before. “Surely if I spend enough time I can understand what the story behind it is,” he remembers thinking. “We economists can be a little bit useful.”

relates to The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich
Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, May 27, 2019. Subscribe now.
PHOTOGRAPHER: CAYCE CLIFFORD FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

A decade later, Zucman, 32, is an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley and the world’s foremost expert on where the wealthy hide their money. His doctoral thesis, advised by Piketty, exposed trillions of dollars’ worth of tax evasion by the global rich. For his most influential work, he teamed up with his Berkeley colleague Emmanuel Saez, a fellow Frenchman and Piketty collaborator. Their 2016 paper, “Wealth Inequality in the United States Since 1913,” distilled a century of data to answer one of modern capitalism’s murkiest mysteries: How rich are the rich in the world’s wealthiest nation? The answer—far richer than previously imagined—thrust the pair deep into the American debate over inequality. Their data became the heart of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s stump speech, recited to the outrage of his supporters during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

Zucman and Saez’s latest estimates show that the top 0.1% of taxpayers—about 170,000 families in a country of 330 million people—control 20% of American wealth, the highest share since 1929. The top 1% control 39% of U.S. wealth, and the bottom 90% have only 26%. The bottom half of Americans combined have a negative net worth. The shift in wealth concentration over time charts as a U, dropping rapidly through the Great Depression and World War II, staying low through the 1960s and ’70s, and surging after the ’80s as middle-class wealth rolled in the opposite direction. Zucman has also found that multinational corporations move 40% of their foreign profits, about $600 billion a year, out of the countries where their money was made and into lower-tax jurisdictions.

Share of U.S. Wealth Held by the Top 1%

Data: Gabriel Zucman

Like many economists, Zucman and Saez have embraced the political implications of their research. Unlike many, they champion policy recommendations that are bold and aggressive. Before Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren started her 2020 presidential campaign by proposing a wealth tax, she consulted the pair, who estimated that her tax would bring in $2.8 trillion over the next decade. She conferred with them again before floating a corporate tax on profits above $100 million, which they calculated would raise more than $1 trillion over 10 years. Sanders came looking for their advice on his estate tax plan, which would establish rates as high as 77% on billionaires. And when New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed on 60 Minutes to hike the top marginal tax rate to as much as 70% on income above $10 million, Zucman and Saez were fast out with a New York Timesop-ed in support.

The pair has now written a cookbook of sorts for any 2020 candidate looking to soak the rich. The Triumph of Injustice, to be published by W.W. Norton & Co. early next year, focuses on how wealth disparity can be fought with tax policy. The tools Zucman has identified to date challenge a series of assumptions, fiercely held by many economists and policymakers, about how the world works: That unfettered globalization is a win-win proposition. That low taxes stimulate growth. That billionaires, and the superprofitable companies they found, are proof capitalism works. For Zucman, the evidence suggests otherwise. And without taking action, he argues, we risk an economic and political backlash far more destabilizing than the financial crisis that sparked his work.

The Wealth Detective
The Wealth Detective

America’s top wealth detective probes the secrets of the super rich in a tidy, white-walled office with an enviable view of the San Francisco Bay. His methods are unusually brute-force compared with those of recent-vintage U.S. economists, relying not on powerful computers, regression analyses, or predictive models, but on simple, voluminous spreadsheets compiling the tax tables, macroeconomic datasets, and cross-border-flow calculations of central banks. He does it on his own, only rarely outsourcing to graduate students.

“You can conduct this detective work only if you do it to a large extent yourself,” he says. “The wealth is not visible in plain sight—it’s visible in the data.” Lately, he adds, the Bay Area humming outside his window, “I see more of Silicon Valley in my Excel spreadsheets, especially in the amount of profits booked in Bermuda and Ireland.”

Born and raised in Paris, Zucman is the son of two doctors. His mother researches immunology, and his father treats HIV patients. Politics was a frequent dinnertime topic. He says the “traumatic political event of my youth” occurred when he was 15. Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front party, edged out a socialist candidate to win a spot in the final round of 2002 presidential voting. Zucman remembers joining the spontaneous protests that followed. “A lot of my political thinking since then has been focused on how we can avoid this disaster from happening again,” he says. “So far, we’ve failed.” (Le Pen’s daughter made the presidential runoff in 2017 and won almost twice as many votes as her father.)

Zucman met his future wife, Claire Montialoux, in 2006, in a university economics class. She’s now finishing her Ph.D. dissertation, which shows how the U.S.’s expansion of the minimum wage in the late 1960s and ’70s helped black workers, narrowing the racial earnings gap. “We share the same vision for why we are doing social sciences,” Zucman says. “The ultimate goal is how can we do better?”

His own graduate work in Paris saw him compile evidence that the world’s rich were stowing at least $7.6 trillion in offshore accounts, accounting for 8% of global household financial wealth; 80% of those assets were hidden from governments, resulting in about $200 billion in lost tax revenue per year. At the same time, he was helping his adviser, Piketty, pull together more than 300 years of wealth and income data from France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. They co-authored a paper on the numbers, which became a key part of Piketty’s surprise 2014 bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The following year, Zucman’s doctoral research was also published as a book, The Hidden Wealth of Nations.

He arrived in the U.S. in 2013, the same year President Obama was declaring inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” Zucman had been recruited to Berkeley by Saez, winner of economics’ prestigious John Bates Clark Medal in 2009 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010. They took up offices next to each other and set about trying to solve the riddle of America’s hidden wealth, unveiling their estimates as a draft paper the following year.

relates to The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich
Saez
PHOTOGRAPHER: CAYCE CLIFFORD FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

None of it was easy. Tax collectors such as the IRS generally require taxpayers to report income, not wealth. And much of the world’s wealth is held in forms—homes, art, retirement accounts, non-dividend-paying stocks—that produce no income prior to a sale. A real estate mogul with a billion-dollar property portfolio and billions more in cash stashed overseas can still report a tiny income. Most inequality researchers therefore rely on voluntary surveys, which often fail to identify enough of the very richest, or data on the estate tax, which has gotten easier and easier to avoid.

Zucman and Saez started with the IRS. The agency opens its doors to researchers under strict conditions, and only Saez, a U.S. citizen, was allowed inside a facility, where he downloaded anonymized statistics up to the extreme end of the income scale. The duo then translated the data into wealth estimates. Saez had had the idea for a while. “I was doubting how that could actually be done, because there are so many complications,” he says. “And then Gabriel came along.” With each asset class, from equities and real estate to pensions and insurance, they painstakingly estimated the relationship between income and wealth in the U.S., checking and tweaking based on data from external sources.

They found that something cataclysmic happened around 1980. As Ronald Reagan was winning the White House, the top 0.1% controlled 7% of the nation’s wealth. By 2014, after a few decades of booming markets and stagnant wages, the top 0.1% had tripled its share, to 22%, a bit more wealth than the bottom 85% of the country controlled. The data showed the extent of the problem and the absence of a solution: In the aftermath of the financial crisis, while middle-class Americans were burdened by job losses and debt, the rich had swiftly resumed their party. Wealth that had vanished from financial markets after Lehman’s collapse had reappeared, doubling and tripling the portfolios of well-off investors.

Some eminent economists, including the University of Chicago’s Amir Sufi and Nobel laureate and New York Timescolumnist Paul Krugman, endorsed the findings, but others were skeptical. The new numbers were much higher than previous estimates, including those of the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, which is based on detailed responses provided by Americans and is widely considered the best measure of U.S. wealth.

The disputes over Saez and Zucman’s methodology were highly technical. Fed economists said the Berkeley pair were underestimating the investment returns the very rich were earning, which had the counterintuitive effect of overestimating the fortunes from which they drew their income. Saez and Zucman rejected that criticism but made other adjustments to their method and updated the numbers to reflect revised macroeconomic data. Their estimate of the 0.1%’s wealth share dropped a couple of percentage points, to about 20%, still a startling figure. Then, in 2017, the Fed released a survey incorporating methods it said better captured the wealth of the very rich; the central bank cited Zucman and Saez’s work in an accompanying paper. Its latest figures showed a jump in inequality, with the top 1%’s share rising from 36% in 2013 to 39% in 2016, matching the pair’s estimate.

At conferences and seminars, Zucman’s peers still occasionally sound baffled by his work. Economists often aim for precise, unassailable conclusions, but he’s “comfortable getting a ‘rough justice’ answer to a question” if it helps fill in a big gap in knowledge, says Reed College economics professor Kimberly Clausing, an expert on corporate profit shifting. “I admire the fact that he’s willing to look at these harder questions.” Saez says Zucman’s “defining characteristic is that he’s not moored to the traditional economic model.” In the end, Saez adds, “that gives him tremendous power to make progress.”
 

Economists argue over the timing and size of the U.S.’s inequality surge, but few deny the broader trend. We live in an age in which the richest man in modern history is reduced by divorce to merely the richest man alive and in which even the most generous billionaires can’t give away money faster than they’re bringing it in. The debate now raging is over how inequality deepened to this extent and what, if anything, to do about it.

On one hand are those who argue that great wealth is somehow natural, the result of technology, globalization, and pro-growth policies bestowing outsize rewards on the smartest and most resourceful. Returning to postwar marginal tax rates of 70% or higher, they say, would discourage innovation and hurt the economy. Ken Griffin, a hedge fund manager who made news in January by dropping $360 million on two abodes in London and New York, told Bloomberg News the following month that such tax hikes would represent attempts to “destroy the wealth creators of our society.”

Others see these types of proposals as necessary to address the economic and political distortions that lead to wealth stratification. In her campaign announcement, Warren described President Trump as “the latest and most extreme symptom of what’s gone wrong in America, a product of a rigged system that props up the rich and the powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else.” Even some billionaires have gotten the religion. In April, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, called the widening U.S. economic divide a “national emergency” that, left unaddressed, will lead to “some form of revolution.”

Zucman sees ominous signs in the rise of the far right—the threat that has preoccupied him since he was a teenager on the streets of Paris. Inequality, he says, paves the way for demagogues. The causes he’s identified for the widening gap in the U.S. are a host of policy changes that started in the 1980s: lower taxes on the wealthy, weaker labor protections, lax antitrust enforcement, runaway education and health-care costs, and a stagnant minimum wage. America’s skyrocketing wealth disparity, he says, reflects that “it’s also the country where the policy changes have been the most extreme.”

When Reagan cut the top marginal tax rate from 70% to 28% across eight years, and later, when Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush slashed tax rates for investors, they were doing so on the advice of economists. The prevailing belief, backed by theoretical models, was that lower taxes on the wealthy would stimulate more investment and thus more economic growth. The real world hasn’t been kind to those theories.

Since the era of liberalization and globalization began about 40 years ago, America’s economic growth has been markedly slower than it was the four decades prior. And though Zucman acknowledges that gross domestic product has risen faster in the U.S. than in other developed countries, he points out that the same is true of population. Measured in GDP per person or national income per adult, U.S. growth since 1980 is hard to distinguish from the pace in France, Germany, or Japan. Meanwhile, the typical worker was better off abroad. From 1980 to 2014, for example, incomes for the poorest half of Americans barely budged, while the poorest half in France saw a 31% increase. “The pie has not become bigger” in the U.S., Zucman says. “It’s just that a bigger slice is going to the top.”

Share of Wealth Within Select Countries, 2014

Data: World Inequality Database

The actual effect of lower taxes on the rich, he argues, isn’t to stimulate the economy but to further enrich the rich and further incentivize greed. In his analysis, when the wealthy get tax breaks, they focus less on reinvesting in businesses and more on hiring lobbyists, making campaign donations, and pursuing acquisitions that eliminate competitors. Chief executive officers, for their part, gain additional motivation to boost their own pay. “Once you’ve created a successful business and the wealth is established and you own billions of dollars, then what these people spend their time doing is trying to defend that position,” Zucman says.

Even some inequality researchers question his and Saez’s proposal to restore postwar tax rates, though. Columbia University’s Wojciech Kopczuk, who once studied estate tax data with Saez, says citing inequality as grounds for such changes sounds “like an ex post facto justification of things you would want to do anyway.” The consequences of these policies, he notes, might include causing truly innovative entrepreneurs to lose control of their businesses. “Once you start naming these problems, you realize there are other solutions,” he says. He suggests the U.S. would be better off aggressively enforcing antitrust laws or tightening campaign finance laws.

Zucman says the response to inequality must be aggressive because wealth is self-reinforcing. The rich can always earn more, save more, and then spend more than everyone else to get their way. He considers Trump’s 2017 tax law—which slashed rates on corporations, created a new deduction for business owners, and made the estate tax even easier to avoid—to be a textbook example. After decades of rising inequality and policies favorable to the top 0.1%, the U.S. delivered the rich a boatload of new goodies. “It’s hard not to interpret that as a form of political capture,” Zucman says.
 

Inside a Berkeley lecture hall in February, Zucman stepped 100 or so undergraduates through a few centuries of inequality, from slavery and the Industrial Revolution to the internet and climate change. Dressed in black, bearded, and pacing the front of the lecture hall, he approvingly quoted the classical 18th century economist Adam Smith on trade’s powerful impact on growth. This, he pointed out, is how countries such as China and South Korea pulled themselves up from poverty—an example of how at least one form of inequality, between nations, was addressed.

For someone whose policy prescriptions are occasionally cast as radical, Zucman’s demeanor and rhetoric tend to the mild. He peppered the class with questions, urging reluctant undergraduates to offer their own explanations for economic history and stumbling briefly, despite his excellent English, over a student’s use of the expression “two heads are better than one.” He warned everyone that if the trends continue, their future could resemble the distant past.

In the slow-growing, hierarchical societies leading up to the 20th century, he said, the most important factor determining your economic prospects was the class into which you were born; from Italy to India, the poor stayed poor and the rich stayed rich. By the mid-20th century, though, the most crucial factor was the country of your birth. In the U.S. and Western Europe, rags-to-riches stories became common, if not routine. Maybe, Zucman warned, the 20th century was an egalitarian anomaly and inherited wealth would again dominate. The question, he said, is “how to have a meritocratic society when so much of wealth comes from the past.”

That day he also met with Saez to talk about a website the two were building. It had been a few weeks since Warren unveiled her wealth tax, and the men were creating a customizable tool to show the math underlying her proposal and let others formulate plans of their own. Saez mostly ran the meeting, but Zucman offered one suggestion: Give users the option of setting the rates as high as possible. Saez smiled and agreed.

Polls suggest that voters like Warren’s wealth tax, which would levy 2% on fortunes greater than $50 million and 3% on those higher than $1 billion. But the idea of taxing wealth, rather than income, alarms some policy experts and more than a few billionaires. Speaking on NPR, Howard Schultz, former Starbucks Corp. CEO and a potential independent presidential candidate, called Warren’s proposal “ridiculous,” adding, “You can’t just attack these things in a punitive way.”

Others question how the government would value the assets of the rich, including their private businesses. Ideas such as Warren’s “work very poorly in practice,” Columbia’s Kopczuk says. “There is a reason why many countries get rid of wealth taxes.” At least 15 European countries have tried them; all but four have repealed them, most recently France.

Zucman responds that most European wealth taxes are poorly designed and that the practical issues can be resolved. For starters, such taxes must be created without loopholes allowing money to be stashed in trusts or offshore accounts. Then, with the legal regime in place, data technology could help tax collectors such as the IRS track and value wealth. A worldwide financial registry—or, failing that, the collection agencies—could require the rich to report all their transactions, exposing their holdings to scrutiny while providing the data needed to valuate similar assets. “Too many people just start from the assumption that it’s impossible,” he says.

The scope of the possible started widening after the financial crisis, as the U.S. and then the European Union moved to crack down on offshore shelters. The Panama Papers, a leak of millions of documents from a Central American law firm, pushed policymakers further. “We’ve won the argument,” says Alex Cobham, CEO of Tax Justice Network, an independent international advocacy group. “More or less everyone thinks banking secrecy should be finished.”

In recent months, Zucman has devoted a great deal of energy to the question of how multinational corporations avoid taxes. He’s produced papers and policy briefs showing that U.S. multinationals shift almost half of their overseas profits to five havens—Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, and the Greater Caribbean, which includes Bermuda. “That is a huge problem for the sustainability of globalization,” he says. Countries and territories are engaged in a race to the bottom, Zucman argues, offering ever-lower corporate rates in the fear that companies will shift their profits elsewhere. He proposes to “annihilate” such competition by apportioning profits based on where sales were made.

These ideas might be nonstarters today, but Zucman professes to take the long view. Remember, he points out, that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the income tax unconstitutional in 1895; it took a constitutional amendment to legalize it in 1913. “There’s a lot of policy innovation ahead of us,” he says.

When Zucman and Saez’s site, wealthtaxsimulator.org, went live in March, it sparked some of that hoped-for innovation. One proposal, posted on Twitter by Adam Bonica, a political science professor at Stanford, was for a 100% tax on wealth beyond $500 million. He based it on what he called “Beyoncé’s rule,” which he explains as, “Think of the most talented and hardest-working person you know, and think about how much money they have and how much money they deserve.” Queen Bey, he tweeted, has an estimated net worth in the neighborhood of half a billion dollars. “Let’s have Howard Schultz explain to us why he should be worth more than Beyoncé.”

« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 05:08:46 AM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: The Surlynewz Channel
« Reply #3781 on: May 24, 2019, 05:28:06 AM »
I ran into this stashed cash situation with crooked Joe from Germany during my real estate days.

I always got paid by him in old, old, Benjamin's. He had suitcases full of benny's from his euro clients. That's how they roll.....
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why youíre here. Youíre here because you know something. What you know you canít explain, but you feel it. Youíve felt it your entire life, that thereís something wrong with the world.
You donít know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

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9 People Showed Up for a KKK Rally in Dayton, Ohio. They Were Drowned Out by 600 Protestors

BY TARA LAW
UPDATED: MAY 26, 2019 11:29 AM ET | ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: MAY 25, 2019

Plans for a Ku Klux Klan rally in Dayton, Ohio set the city on edge and attracted national attention. But only nine people showed up for the rally Saturday, and their slogans were drowned out by 500 to 600 protesters who gathered to show their opposition to the hate-group’s message.

The Dayton police took a number of precautions to keep the protests from getting out of hand. Cara Neace, a Dayton police public information specialist, said that more than 350 police officers were assembled to keep the peace.

The Klan-affiliated group was confined to the courthouse square, and the members were separated from protestors by a fence. In the end, however, the protest remained peaceful and there were “no arrests, no citations and no use of force,” Neace said.

The Dayton chapter of the Black Panthers protest against a small group from a KKK-affiliated group during a rally in Dayton, Ohio, May 25, 2019.
The Dayton chapter of the Black Panthers protest against a small group from a KKK-affiliated group during a rally in Dayton, Ohio, May 25, 2019.
SETH HERALD—AFP/Getty Images
Between 500 and 600 protesters gathered to protest a rally for a KKK-affiliated group at Courthouse Square on May 25, 2019 in Dayton, Ohio.
Between 500 and 600 protesters gathered to protest a rally for a KKK-affiliated group at Courthouse Square on May 25, 2019 in Dayton, Ohio.
Matthew Hatcher—Getty Images

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein told the Dayton Daily News that the KKK rally cost the city about $650,000 in personnel and materials.

Anti-Klan protesters, including some dressed to support the Black Panthers and the Antifa, shouted slogans such as “band against the Klan,” according to local media reports. Signs seen in the crowd included, “You Are Not Welcome Here” and “Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat to Justice Everywhere.”

“There is a great crowd of people down here on Main Street,” City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild told WHIO TV7. “This is probably Dayton at its best.”

Police officers and Highway State patrol officers keep careful watch over the various activities occurring during a rally held by a KKK-affiliated group on May 25, 2019 in Dayton, Ohio.
Police officers and Highway State patrol officers keep careful watch over the various activities occurring during a rally held by a KKK-affiliated group on May 25, 2019 in Dayton, Ohio.
Matthew Hatcher—Getty Images

Local Dayton businesses also showed their support for the anti-Klan protest, with “Get your hatin’ out of Dayton” a popular slogan.

An anti-Klan protestor holds a sign at a small rally of a KKK-affiliated group that gathered in Dayton, Ohio, on May 25, 2019.
An anti-Klan protestor holds a sign at a small rally of a KKK-affiliated group that gathered in Dayton, Ohio, on May 25, 2019.
SETH HERALD—AFP/Getty Images

After the protests, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley shared her relief that the day had proceeded peacefully in a message on Twitter. She said that the event has helped to highlight persistent problems with segregation in Dayton.

“This ugly chapter is over, but it means we have to get back to the real work – making sure that no matter what you look like, where you come from, or who you love, that you can have a great life here in Dayton,” Whaley wrote.

Write to Tara Law at tara.law@time.com.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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These fucking guys.

ďThe demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.Ē
Physicist, William Happer, who serves on the National Security Council as the presidentís deputy assistant for emerging technologies

Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science

The Huntington Canyon coal-fired power plant in Utah. The White House, already pursuing major rollbacks of greenhouse-gas emission restrictions, is amplifying its attack on fundamental climate-science conclusions.CreditBrandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times
Image
The Huntington Canyon coal-fired power plant in Utah. The White House, already pursuing major rollbacks of greenhouse-gas emission restrictions, is amplifying its attack on fundamental climate-science conclusions.
Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump has rolled back environmental regulations, pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, brushed aside dire predictions about the effects of climate change, and turned the term “global warming” into a punch line rather than a prognosis.

Now, after two years spent unraveling the policies of his predecessors, Mr. Trump and his political appointees are launching a new assault.

In the next few months, the White House will complete the rollback of the most significant federal effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, initiated during the Obama administration. It will expand its efforts to impose Mr. Trump’s hard-line views on other nations, building on his retreat from the Paris accord and his recent refusal to sign a communiqué to protect the rapidly melting Arctic region unless it was stripped of any references to climate change.

And, in what could be Mr. Trump’s most consequential action yet, his administration will seek to undermine the very science on which climate change policy rests.

Mr. Trump is less an ideologue than an armchair naysayer about climate change, according to people who know him. He came into office viewing agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency as bastions of what he calls the “deep state,” and his contempt for their past work on the issue is an animating factor in trying to force them to abandon key aspects of the methodology they use to try to understand the causes and consequences of a dangerously warming planet.

As a result, parts of the federal government will no longer fulfill what scientists say is one of the most urgent jobs of climate science studies: reporting on the future effects of a rapidly warming planet and presenting a picture of what the earth could look like by the end of the century if the global economy continues to emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels.

The attack on science is underway throughout the government. In the most recent example, the White House-appointed director of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific assessments produced by that office use only computer-generated climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of the century, as had been done previously.

President Trump has pushed to resurrect the idea of holding public debates on the validity of climate science.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Scientists say that would give a misleading picture because the biggest effects of current emissions will be felt after 2040. Models show that the planet will most likely warm at about the same rate through about 2050. From that point until the end of the century, however, the rate of warming differs significantly with an increase or decrease in carbon emissions.

The administration’s prime target has been the National Climate Assessment, produced by an interagency task force roughly every four years since 2000. Government scientists used computer-generated models in their most recent report to project that if fossil fuel emissions continue unchecked, the earth’s atmosphere could warm by as much as eight degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. That would lead to drastically higher sea levels, more devastating storms and droughts, crop failures, food losses and severe health consequences.

Work on the next report, which is expected to be released in 2021 or 2022, has already begun. But from now on, officials said, such worst-case scenario projections will not automatically be included in the National Climate Assessment or in some other scientific reports produced by the government.

“What we have here is a pretty blatant attempt to politicize the science — to push the science in a direction that’s consistent with their politics,” said Philip B. Duffy, the president of the Woods Hole Research Center, who served on a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the government’s most recent National Climate Assessment. “It reminds me of the Soviet Union.”

In an email, James Hewitt, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency, defended the proposed changes.

“The previous use of inaccurate modeling that focuses on worst-case emissions scenarios, that does not reflect real-world conditions, needs to be thoroughly re-examined and tested if such information is going to serve as the scientific foundation of nationwide decision-making now and in the future,” Mr. Hewitt said.

However, the goal of political appointees in the Trump administration is not just to change the climate assessment’s methodology, which has broad scientific consensus, but also to question its conclusions by creating a new climate review panel. That effort is led by a 79-year-old physicist who had a respected career at Princeton but has become better known in recent years for attacking the science of man-made climate change and for defending the virtues of carbon dioxide — sometimes to an awkward degree.

The Beaufort Sea in the Arctic, a region that is warming rapidly. The United States recently declined to sign a communiqué on protecting the Arctic unless it omitted references to climate change.
CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

The Beaufort Sea in the Arctic, a region that is warming rapidly. The United States recently declined to sign a communiqué on protecting the Arctic unless it omitted references to climate change.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

“The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” the physicist, William Happer, who serves on the National Security Council as the president’s deputy assistant for emerging technologies, said in 2014 in an interview with CNBC.

Mr. Happer’s proposed panel is backed by John R. Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, who brought Mr. Happer into the N.S.C. after an earlier effort to recruit him during the transition.

Mr. Happer and Mr. Bolton are both beneficiaries of Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the far-right billionaire and his daughter who have funded efforts to debunk climate science. The Mercers gave money to a super PAC affiliated with Mr. Bolton before he entered government and to an advocacy group headed by Mr. Happer.

Climate scientists are dismissive of Mr. Happer; his former colleagues at Princeton are chagrined. And several White House officials — including Larry Kudlow, the president’s chief economic adviser — have urged Mr. Trump not to adopt Mr. Happer’s proposal, on the grounds that it would be perceived as a White House attack on science.

Even Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House strategist who views Mr. Happer as “the climate hustler’s worst nightmare — a world-class physicist from the nation’s leading institution of advanced learning, who does not suffer fools gladly,” is apprehensive about what Mr. Happer is trying to do.

“The very idea will start a holy war on cable before 2020,” he said. “Better to win now and introduce the study in the second inaugural address.”

But at a White House meeting on May 1, at which the skeptical advisers made their case, Mr. Trump appeared unpersuaded, people familiar with the meeting said. Mr. Happer, they said, is optimistic that the panel will go forward.

William Happer, who serves on the National Security Council, is pushing to create a climate review panel that would question scientific consensus.CreditPool photo by Albin Lohr-Jones
William Happer, who serves on the National Security Council, is pushing to create a climate review panel that would question scientific consensus.CreditPool photo by Albin Lohr-Jones

The concept is not new. Mr. Trump has pushed to resurrect the idea of a series of military-style exercises, known as “red team, blue team” debates, on the validity of climate science first promoted by Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator who was forced to resign last year amid multiple scandals.

At the time, the idea was shot down by John F. Kelly, then the White House chief of staff. But since Mr. Kelly’s departure, Mr. Trump has talked about using Mr. Happer’s proposed panel as a forum for it.

For Mr. Trump, climate change is often the subject of mockery. “Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!” he posted on Twitter in January when a snowstorm was freezing much of the country.

His views are influenced mainly by friends and donors like Carl Icahn, the New York investor who owns oil refineries, and the oil-and-gas billionaire Harold Hamm — both of whom pushed Mr. Trump to deregulate the energy industry.

Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka made a well-publicized effort to talk him out of leaving the Paris accord in 2017. But after being vanquished by officials including Mr. Bannon, Mr. Pruitt, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II, there is little evidence she has resisted his approach since then.

The president’s advisers amplify his disregard. At the meeting of the eight-nation Arctic Council this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismayed fellow diplomats by describing the rapidly warming region as a land of “opportunity and abundance” because of its untapped reserves of oil, gas, uranium, gold, fish and rare-earth minerals. The melting sea ice, he said, was opening up new shipping routes.

“That is one of the most crude messages one could deliver,” said R. Nicholas Burns, who served as the NATO ambassador under George W. Bush.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismayed fellow diplomats by describing the Arctic as a land of “opportunity and abundance” as a consequence of global warming.CreditMandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismayed fellow diplomats by describing the Arctic as a land of “opportunity and abundance” as a consequence of global warming.CreditMandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

At the National Security Council, under Mr. Bolton, officials said they had been instructed to strip references to global warming from speeches and other formal statements. But such political edicts pale in significance to the changes in the methodology of scientific reports.

Mr. Reilly, the head of the Geological Survey, who does not have a background in climate change science, characterized the changes as an attempt to prepare more careful, accurate reports. “We’re looking for answers with our partners and to get statistical significance from what we understand,” he said.

Yet scientists said that by eliminating the projected effects of increased carbon dioxide pollution after 2040, the Geological Survey reports would present an incomplete and falsely optimistic picture of the impact of continuing to burn unlimited amounts of coal, oil and gasoline.

“The scenarios in these reports that show different outcomes are like going to the doctor, who tells you, ‘If you don’t change your bad eating habits, and you don’t start to exercise, you’ll need a quadruple bypass, but if you do change your lifestyle, you’ll have a different outcome,’” said Katharine Hayhoe, the director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University and an author of the National Climate Assessment.

Not all government science agencies are planning such changes. A spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, asked if its scientists would limit the use of climate models, wrote in an email, “No changes are being considered at this time.”

The push to alter the results of at least some climate science reports, several officials said, came after November’s release of the second volume of the National Climate Assessment.

While the Trump administration did not try to rewrite the scientific conclusions of the report, officials sought to play it down — releasing it the day after Thanksgiving — and discredit it, with a White House statement calling it “largely based on the most extreme scenario.”

This summer, the E.P.A. is expected to finalize the legal rollback of two of President Barack Obama’s most consequential policies: regulations to curb planet-warming pollution from vehicles and power plants.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

This summer, the E.P.A. is expected to finalize the legal rollback of two of President Barack Obama’s most consequential policies: regulations to curb planet-warming pollution from vehicles and power plants.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Still, the report could create legal problems for Mr. Trump’s agenda of abolishing regulations. This summer, the E.P.A. is expected to finalize the legal rollback of two of President Barack Obama’s most consequential policies: federal regulations to curb planet-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes and power plant smokestacks.

Opponents say that when they challenge the moves in court, they intend to point to the climate assessment, asking how the government can justify the reversals when its own agencies have concluded that the pollution will be so harmful.

That is why officials are now discussing how to influence the conclusions of the next National Climate Assessment.

“They’ve started talking about how they can produce a report that doesn’t lead to some silly alarmist predictions about the future,” said Myron Ebell, who heads the energy program at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an industry-funded research organization, and who led the administration’s transition at the E.P.A.

A key change, he said, would be to emphasize historic temperatures rather than models of future atmospheric temperatures, and to eliminate the “worst-case scenarios” of the effect of increased carbon dioxide pollution — sometimes referred to as “business as usual” scenarios because they imply no efforts to curb emissions.

Scientists said that eliminating the worst-case scenario would give a falsely optimistic picture. “Nobody in the world does climate science like that,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton. “It would be like designing cars without seatbelts or airbags.”

Outside the United States, climate scientists had long given up on the White House being anything but on outlier in policy. But they worry about the loss of the government as a source for reliable climate research.

“It is very unfortunate and potentially even quite damaging that the Trump administration behaves this way,” said Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “There is this arrogance and disrespect for scientific advancement — this very demoralizing lack of respect for your own experts and agencies.”

« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 03:28:58 PM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Bannon described Trump Organization as 'criminal enterprise', Michael Wolff book claims

Former White House adviser says financial investigations will take down president in sequel to Fire and Fury

Donald Trump along with his children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr arrive for a press conference at Trump Tower in New York in 2017.
Donald Trump along with his children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr arrive for a press conference at Trump Tower in New York in 2017. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The former White House adviser Steve Bannon has described the Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his political downfall, when he is revealed to be “not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag”.

The startling remarks are contained in Siege: Trump Under Fire, the author Michael Wolff’s forthcoming account of the second year of the Trump administration. The book, published on 4 June, is a sequel to Fire and Fury: Trump in the White House, which was a bestseller in 2018. The Guardian obtained a copy.

In a key passage, Bannon is reported as saying he believes investigations of Donald Trump’s financial history will provide proof of the underlying criminality of his eponymous company.

Assessing the president’s exposure to various investigations, many seeded by the special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation of Russian election interference, Wolff writes: “Trump was vulnerable because for 40 years he had run what increasingly seemed to resemble a semi-criminal enterprise.”

He then quotes Bannon as saying: “I think we can drop the ‘semi’ part.”

Bannon, a leading promoter of far-right populism, was a White House adviser until August 2017, when he was removed. He was a major source for Fire and Fury, also first reported by the Guardian. Among other claims in that book, he labelled as “treasonous” an infamous Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer.

Amid publicity surrounding Fire and Fury, Bannon was ejected from circles close to Trump and his position at Breitbart News.

In Siege, Wolff pays close attention to Trump’s financial affairs. Investigations into Trump’s business dealings, spearheaded by the southern district of New York, have shuttered the president’s charity and seen the Trump Organization chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, receive immunity for testimony in investigations of Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney and fixer who is now in jail in New York.

This month, the New York Times obtained tax information that showed Trump’s businesses lost more than $1bn from 1985 to 1994.

The newspaper subsequently reported that in 2016 and 2017, Deutsche Bank employees flagged concerns over possible money laundering through transactions involving legal entities controlled by the president and Kushner. Some of the transactions involved individuals in Russia.

The bank did not act but Congress and New York state are now investigating its relationship with Trump and his family. Deutsche Bank has lent billions to Trump and Kushner companies. Trump has attempted to block House subpoenas for his financial records sent to Deutsche Bank.

In Siege, Wolff quotes Bannon saying investigations into Trump’s finances will cut adrift even his most ardent supporters: “This is where it isn’t a witch hunt – even for the hard core, this is where he turns into just a crooked business guy, and one worth $50m instead of $10bn.

“Not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag.”

Wolff also details a 2004 Palm Beach property deal involving the now disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and the Putin-friendly oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev that, the author writes, earned Trump “$55m without putting up a dime”.

Epstein, he writes, invited Trump to see a $36m Palm Beach mansion he planned to buy. According to Wolff, Trump went behind Epstein’s back to buy the foreclosed property for around $40m, a sum Epstein had reason to believe Trump couldn’t raise in his own right, through an entity called Trump Properties LLC, which was entirely financed by Deutsche Bank.

Epstein, Wolff writes, knew Trump had been loaning out his name in real estate deals for a fee and suspected that in his case Trump was fronting for the property’s real owners. Epstein threatened to expose the deal. As the dispute increased, he found himself under investigation by the Palm Beach police.

According to Wolff, Trump made only minor improvements and put the house on the market for $125m. It was purchased for $96m by Rybolovlev, part of a circle of government-aligned industrialists in Russia, thereby earning Trump $55m without risking any of his own money.

Wolff presents two theories as to how the deal worked: first, perhaps “Trump merely earned a fee for hiding the real owner – a shadow owner quite possibly being funneled cash by Rybolovlev for other reasons beyond the value of the house”.

Second, he suggests the real owner of the house and the real buyer were one and the same. “Rybolovlev might have, in effect, paid himself for the house, thereby cleansing the additional $55m for the second purchase of the house.”

“This,” Wolff writes, “was Donald Trump’s world of real estate.”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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How to Make the Perfect Milkshake for Throwing at Fascists
« Reply #3785 on: June 01, 2019, 06:18:51 AM »
How to Make the Perfect Milkshake for Throwing at Fascists
Combining the public humiliation of racists and one of natureís most delicious frosty treats is pure poetry in motion.




A good milkshake is a terrible thing to waste. It truly is a most perfect dessert: a drinkable marriage of cream, milk, and sugar, served whipped and cold and just dense enough for a straw to stand at attention within. Its primary ingredients and preparation are accessible enough that even the most overworked and underpaid members of the laboring classes could, conceivably, grab one after work, or whip one up as a weekend treat between shifts of capitalist wage slavery.

The best milkshakes involve chocolate and peanut butter (this is an immutable fact, and not debatable, sorry), but many other flavors are acceptable, and experimentation is encouraged. For example, the banana and salted caramel milkshake is an unorthodox but inspired flavor choice, one that made its international debut via a guest appearance on British political hack Nigel Farage’s face.

1559059198812-GettyImages-1150500796
Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

“Milkshaking”—quite literally, the practice of chucking milkshakes at and, ideally, on famous far-right figures when they slither into public places—is the latest trend that’s swept the young anti-fascist players of the British left. It started with Stephen “Tommy Robinson” Yaxley-Lennon, the former leader of the English Defense League, who has had milkshakes thrown on him by anti-racist protestors on multiple occasions. Alt-right UKIP politician Carl Benjamin—best known for disgusting comments he made about raping a female member of Parliament—has been milkshaked four times this month. Now, Nigel Faragehas joined the rogue’s gallery of milky (and eggy) far-right knobheads who have been utterly and completely owned by people willing to give up their precious cups of blended ice cream for the cause.

Of course, there’s nothing wasteful about fighting fascism.

Milkshaking’s power lies in the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. Someone’s thrown a milkshake at you! A milkshake! That’s silly as hell! As a direct action—an instance in which political activists or regular-ass people who are fed up with the state of things takes matters into their own hands, through either violent or nonviolent means—milkshaking is both effective and sophisticated, robbing its target of any dignity while emphasizing the illegitimacy of their noxious views. No one’s getting injured (though the New Republic has noted that throwing milkshakes qualifies as assault in some jurisdictions). Its very absurdity is the joke, and the fascist jagoffs who find themselves subjected to this creamy deluge are rendered powerless; if they react aggressively, they’ve been successfully “triggered,” that beloved byword of the worst kinds of people. If they sit there and take it, they look like a weakling. If, like Farage did, they call the cops (or retreat to the safety of a double-decker bus), they look even worse—the big strong “man of the people” who couldn’t handle getting a little egg on his face.

As much as the Piers Morgans and Ricky Gervaises and other assorted useless commentators of the world enjoy hand-wringing and bloviating over how nasty the left is being and how rude and terrible it is to temporarily inconvenience powerful men, there should be no debate over the importance of eradicating fascism, and of confronting its agents when they poke their ugly heads out into the commons. That the latest means of doing so involves both the public humiliation of racists and one of nature’s most delicious frosty treats is pure poetry in motion.

It’s time to live deliciously, comrades.

1559058171050-milk4

To make a milkshake, you'll need:

½ pint vanilla ice cream
¼ cup milk
About 4 tablespoons chocolate syrup

Set a glass in the freezer to chill while you make the rest of the milkshake. Warm an ice cream scoop slightly in a tall glass of hot water. Neither of these steps is strictly necessary, but will keep your drink frostier and will make scooping much easier, respectively.

1559057989040-milk1

Scoop the ice cream into the base of a blender jar, and top with milk. Pulse the blender a couple times to incorporate, then add the chocolate syrup and pulse until combined, pushing the ice cream down the sides if necessary. If you blend for too long, the blender heats up and melts the ice cream, making the shake unideal for drinking but perfect for throwing.

Adjust the texture as needed with more milk or ice cream, pulsing after each addition.

Remove the chilled glass from the freezer and pour the milkshake in. Serve (or throw, if legal in your jurisdiction and at your own risk) immediately.


Editor's Note: VICE condones only the drinking of milkshakes.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: How to Make the Perfect Milkshake for Throwing at Fascists
« Reply #3786 on: June 01, 2019, 07:33:30 AM »
You could also jerk off for a week or so and save it up.  In the porn bizness, this is called the "Money Shot".

Tempted as I am to put up an animated gif for this, I shall refrain since it would violate the CoC.  :(  Gotta stick to the rules.

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Re: How to Make the Perfect Milkshake for Throwing at Fascists
« Reply #3787 on: June 01, 2019, 09:25:03 AM »
You could also jerk off for a week or so and save it up.  In the porn bizness, this is called the "Money Shot".

Tempted as I am to put up an animated gif for this, I shall refrain since it would violate the CoC.  :(  Gotta stick to the rules.

RE

Thatís really perceptive.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: How to Make the Perfect Milkshake for Throwing at Fascists
« Reply #3788 on: June 01, 2019, 12:55:33 PM »
You could also jerk off for a w ::)eek or so and save it up.  In the porn bizness, this is called the "Money Shot".

Tempted as I am to put up an animated gif for this, I shall refrain since it would violate the CoC.  :(  Gotta stick to the rules.

RE

Thatís really perceptive.

It's a Gift.  ::)

RE
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How Fascism Made a Fool Out of†You
« Reply #3789 on: June 01, 2019, 08:18:07 PM »
You could also jerk off for a week or so and save it up.  In the porn bizness, this is called the "Money Shot".
RE

We find ourselves square in the middle of a propaganda war. One ideal way to defeat the fascists is to make them appear ridiculous. No bully can bear mockery for long, and it triggers red-faced outrage and a spate of new absurdist rules-making. One of the worst things we can do, as Umair's article illustrates, is to adopt a pose of bored cynicism and smug seen-it-all-before-edness. Or giving up, a la Dr. Guy's acolytes.

You haven't. Fascism is rising-- quickly-- all over the world.

Martin Niemoller put it best--
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak outó

     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak outó
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak outó
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for meóand there was no one left to speak for me.


But you just keep whacking. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

How Fascism Made a Fool Out of You
Why You Believed It Couldnít Happen Here ó and Maybe Still Do




This is going to be a strange, difficult, and complicated essay to read. And yet, if I am successful, perhaps you will understand the world — and your part and place in it — a little better. But that is for you to judge. Let me begin here.

I used to say that the rise of fascism would be the defining event of our adult lifetimes. And I wouldn’t blame you if, when I said it five years ago, you laughed and thought I was a little strange, when I said it three years ago, you frowned and rolled your eyes, when I said two years ago, you bickered, and when I said it one year ago, still, you nitpicked.

Glimpse the world today. Is there still really any doubt, my friends, that a a planetary mega-tsunami of fascism is roaring across the globe — wrecking everything in its path? A proud fascist just won the election in Brazil. In America, political mass violence by paranoid delusional fantasists — whose masters pretend to have nothing to do with it— is now a grim reality. (Do you see yet how these two things are linked? Denial — and impotence? Where does complicity’s line lie, exactly? But my purpose isn’t to make you feel ashamed, or to pretend I am especially smart — I am not. It is just to go on thinking, asking questions, forming crude, incomplete answers to share with you.)

Let me do so by way of another observation. This juncture of history, right now, is the fascist moment, the moment when democracy shatters for a generation, when the world’s path to war and atrocity is sealed, when the future is written, the mouldering dead’s graves already dug by the hand of folly. And so perhaps it is time to begin asking another question: why were you made such a fool of? So much so that you assented to minimizing and pooh-poohing the rise of fascism away — “come on, don’t be hyperbolic! It can’t happen here!” — at the precise moment you needed to safeguard your society against it most?

Enough of us, many of us, perhaps most of us have — if we are brave enough to admit our own folly — badly underestimated the swiftness, severity, and intensity with which fascism grows. Snap! Two years — and mass murders, genocide, infant trials, and camps are realities in America. Unimaginable — or predictable? What about in Brazil — the world’s fourth largest democracy? We thought fascism would be like the flu — but it is more like Ebola. We thought it would be like a broken window, easily repaired — but it is more like a house burning down.

And so the simple truth is that if you feel frightened by all this, the truth is you are not frightened enough. If you feel angry about it, the truth is that you are not yet angry enough. You should be angry at them for the violence they do — but also at yourself, for the fool they have made of you. And you should be frightened not just of them, but also of your very own worse self, the lies it too eagerly believed, which were what allowed the monsters to rise out of the darkness.

(I say that as gently as I can — not to condemn, or to blame, or to belittle, but only to illuminate, and you are most welcome to argue that you are no such person. Let us then discuss the enough of us who were precisely such people — good and just and fair, no doubt, only perhaps not wise enough, or not told enough, to see how they were being played for fools, and why.)

Why did we think all this — that it couldn’t happen here, at precisely the moment that we should have been on guard for precisely the opposite? That is, why were we made fools of? We fell victim to, as people so often do, a stupid, wicked lie — that because it was soothing, mollifying, relieved us of our fright. But our fright also carries our moral power, because hidden in that which we are frightened of is also the precise wrong we must overcome. The bad guys, then, fell prey to the lie of fascism — “those dirty subhumans are responsible for your decline!” — but that doesn’t mean the good guys emerge from this wreckage absolved.

The good people, it seems to me, fell for another, different lie. “They won’t come for you, and even if they do, what does it matter? You are not really threatened. Fascism is an overstatement — it’s something that happens to other people,and you are not one of them. Lesser people.” The point is that this kind of thinking is how is led to believe that “it can’t happen here” — to believe that, one must first suppose that “they won’t come for me, and people like me, they will only come for lesser people, and therefore, it can’t happen here.”

How strange, how funny, how tragic — do you see how this, “the lesser people”, hidden in the good lie, is a precise mirror image of the other lie, the bad lie, the fascist lie? But I’ll come back to that.

Do you still feel that way? That all of this will never really affect you? Or are now beginning to suspect, to feel deep in your bones, to know, that they will come for you, no matter who the “you” is — the immigrant and refugee, for being a parasite, the gay and woman, for being filthy and dirty — and even you, the proud, strong man, the moment that you dare to say that all that is reprehensible, wrong, and repellent. Are you beginning to know, despite not wanting to know it, that they will come for you, too?

Wham!! Fascism means you are to be met with violence for not accepting and endorsing and conducting violence — and nobody, my friends, is given a pardon or an exemption in this grotesque war against civilization, freedom, and decency. Is it clear yet that they will come for you, and those you love — no matter how safe and protected you imagine yourself to be? But why did it take you so long to know this? Why did you resist this knowing so much, so often, so intensely — when it is what history was shouting for you to understand it?

The lie that they would never come for us, when “us” meant those above the immigrant and refugee and migrant and other — now that they are mass murdering elderly, peaceful Jews and beating people on the streets — should feel like just that. A stupid and terrible lie, which made fools of us. One which we allowed to make fools of us — if we wish to be morally accurate. But what does it really mean? Why did we believe it?

We believed it because hidden in it is another lie, still. It is the formative lie of this age. It is capitalism’s lie. We are never to care for another person. It is every person for themselves — in a brutal and vicious race for domination, mastery, and power. If they cannot afford safety — healthcare, education, transport, shelter, food — well, then that is their problem, not mine. It means they are weak, and the weak must perish, so that the strong can survive. WE are just little individualistic atoms in a Darwinian machine of violence — but that is how fitter humans are produced, isn’t it?

Wrong, my friends. The despair of those failed by capitalism is not just their problem at all. It is everyone’s problem — because that despair is what ignites the fascist implosion. And that is what we are learning the hard way. When people feel genuinely threatened, exposed, fragile, they will turn to strongmen, and the whole fascist sequence — which is utterly predictable, demagogues, demonization, scapegoating, camps, mass murder, laughter, all of which America has followed with eerie, unerring, precise accuracy so far, since it never changes — will begin.

Capitalism degenerates into fascism, time and again. Why? It teaches the good people, too, that everyone is a self-reliant individual. But if that is true, then the weak are parasites, and the infirm are predators. Wait — aren’t we already in the realm of fascist logic? Do you see how, at an intellectual level, there is scarcely any difference between capitalism and fascism whatsoever?

The only difference, really, is that fascism twists capitalist logic upon itself — as a form of self-preservation. The fascist comes along and tells falling middle classes, proles from the supreme tribe, who expected to be rich and powerful and dominant, but ended up poorer and less powerful, that they are not the weak — they have just forgotten how to be vicious and cruel enough. If only they abuse those even more powerless than them — then they will be strong and respected, and maybe even rich and fortunate. Bang! The sequence starts — but can it be stopped? See the point: all the prole has to do is switch positions in the mental framework he has been taught. Anyone needing assistance, help, succour, support is a predator and a parasite. But such a person is now, thanks to the demagogue, not him — it is the one below him. Now, having a target to hate, perhaps to murder, he can prove he is fearsome. First, with dehumanization. Then, with rage. And finally, through violence.

(Yet all along the prole has been taught by capitalism that the weak must perish, for the sake and benefit of the strong. Only he was the weak one — and capitalism was therefore unsurvivable for him. Bang! Along comes fascism and tells him all that he has to do is make the weaker perish, whether by killing them, or applauding and tolerating their murder, and he will be the strong, feared, and mighty one. He will then have the power, respect, and status capitalism promised him all along. Do you see what a simple, elegant, and wickedly beautiful solution this is? Nothing has to really change at all — except the crossing of one last line, which is violence.)

Snap! Democracy begins to judder and break now. The rule of violence is being established now, as the sole organizing principle of society. The most violent men rise — and to prove that they are, they must inspire, demand, command, violence that is a little more gruesome, widespread, visible, and terrible every day.

Now. I am not saying that you fell for that terrible, repugnant logic. Probably, you didn’t. You found it repellent and grotesque, whenever a demagogue proclaimed it, and their throngs cheered, like mindless automatons, beginning to celebrate and applaud more and more vehement calls for ritualized violence.

But the point is this. Even at that very moment, you probably still thought “it can’t happen here!” And that is because beneath that, you probably stull thought “they will not come for me — they’ll come for the weak, the powerless, lesser humans.” The lesser humans. How funny. Isn’t that precisely what the demagogues were training their masses to believe? That they had to come for everyone, beginning with the lesser humans, to prove that they were strong and ruthless, not weak and insignificant — in order to make the moral law true: the strong should survive, and the weak should perish.

So while you might not have fallen for the logic above, that was not nearly good enough — because you were probably still quite happy believing it would never happen to you, that such a thing was impossible, that fascist violence would never arrive on your doorstep, which is precisely how it did.

It would have been wiser, I think, to unpick all the above. But America does not have intellectuals of that caliber, really — sadly. It’s thinkers only really study capitalism and violence as desirable and permanent solutions, not as epic and society-wrecking problems. So who was teaching people to see how the downwards spiral of fascist violence really worked?

Let me sum up how it does. The fascist can only prove his moral law by doing violence, in the end, to you, too. So violence gathers force, vehemence, and rage, the kind that is intent, lethally, on arriving at your doorstep, too. And yet good people believing that only “lesser beings” will receive such violence is exactly what legitimizes it. It is the belief that “violence will never affect me, only those others” that normalizes, tolerates, and ignores it — so that it races upwards, rises like a great fire burning down a society. When the lesser being is a thing to whom fascist violence is acceptable, then violence grows in intensity and frequency, until it is murdering you, too, and raping your wife — or demanding your submission and obedience to carrying out, tolerating, and cheering such things. And at that point, is there much of a difference between the good and bad people?

They came for the refugees, then they came for the Mexicans, they came for the Arabs. Then they came for the Jews, and the women. They will come for you, too. They were always going to. Why would you be exempt? They have to — because their moral law demands that you are the sacrifice by which their demon gods are made real. The name of their gods are murder, rape, genocide , my friends. Let us spare no quarter for the foolish lies we have been told, and arrive upon the shores of an unfamiliar reality. They will kill you, laugh, and say, “why, we had nothing to do with this? Us? We are innocent! We are not violent people, we are peaceful ones! We only wish a land of the clean and the pure!”. And then they will celebrate openly while your fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and wives and children lie bleeding in the streets, and you cradle their bodies in your helpless arms, your soul shattering into a million pieces. Just as they have done all weekend long.

So now you have a choice. You might not believe the lie of the bad guys — “those dirty, filthy animals, they’re the problem!” But that is easy. It is not nearly enough. Too low a bar for an intelligent and thinking person to use, and too convenient and easy a moral test to pass. It absolves us of complicity, folly, and stupidity, at precisely the moment we must examine ourselves for it much more deeply and seriously. The real question is this. You don’t believe the vicious lie of the bad guys — so what? — do you still believe the soothing lie of the good guys? “It can’t happen here — because they’ll never come for me, and the people I love. Not me! Not us. We’re above this. Violence? By fascists? That’s something that happens to other people. Mexicans, refugees, immigrants. You know, lesser people.”

Uh-oh. Do you see how perilously close we have come to believing just the same lie as the bad guys — not out of malice, but out of reassurance? How strange, how funny, how terrible. Two lies, which seem so different one the surface. Yet they bring us to shores of the same river. Violence is something that is happens to them, not me. Violence is something to be done to them, not to me.

Aren’t these exact mirror images of folly — the kind that leads a society straight down a bottomless abyss of violence? The problem is that many of us in America, if we are honest, have bathed ourselves in such folly until we lay paralyzed, neck-deep, in ignorance. This is where we are now, my friends. And so the choice to grow and mature into wisdom, as always, is yours.

Umair
October 2018

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Milkshaking Has Finally Landed in the U.S.
« Reply #3790 on: June 03, 2019, 01:14:29 AM »

Milkshaking Has Finally Landed in the U.S.



A newly minted British tradition—throwing milkshakes at idiot conservatives—has arrived on the shores of the New World at last. That’s right: milkshaking has come to the good old US of A.

The target of said milkshake attack, which conservatives are already bemoaning as a sign of the end of civilization, was Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was pelted with a shake in his Florida district on Saturday, according to WKRG. Don’t worry, there’s video.

At the time of the milkshake attack, Gaetz was leaving a town hall in Pensacola, FL. As he walked outside, the Congressman was surrounded by protestors. Then one of them absolutely nailed him with a milkshake.

Police arrested Amanda L. Kondrat’yev, a 25-year-old protester who allegedly threw the milkshake, and charged her with battery. Her mugshotis pretty good.

Gaetz, a right-wing Trump supporter, is truly one of the worst people in Congress. He’s currently in major legal trouble for threatening Michael Cohen on Twitter before he testified to Congress about Trump. But even aside from that, Gaetz had distinguished himself among his colleagues as a racist hawker of conspiracy theories who tends to lose it in public. In April, he also hired as a speechwriter a man who was fired from the Trump administration for having ties to white nationalists.

This is all to say that Gaetz was a prime candidate to be the first American victim of milkshaking. The trend started in the UK when far-right activist Tommy Robinson took a milkshake to the head on May 1st. He was milkshaked again just the next day. UKIP member Carl Benjamin and leader Nigel Farage were both milkshaked soon afterwards. Later in May, Farage was unable to leave his bus during a campaign stop in Kent due to fear of milkshakers lurking outside.

Of course, milkshaking has produced a predictable discourse, from accusing milkshakers of political violence, to calls for civility, to people saying everyone needs to get over it. It’s Nazi punching all over again. 

Now, inevitably, milkshaking has come to the U.S. Racists everywhere better start wearing raincoats.

« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 01:25:24 AM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Milkshaking Has Finally Landed in the U.S.
« Reply #3791 on: June 03, 2019, 02:17:04 AM »
Buy stock in Ben & Jerry's!

No video on Utoob yet I can find.  :(

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Re: Milkshaking Has Finally Landed in the U.S.
« Reply #3792 on: June 03, 2019, 02:30:01 AM »
I hereby nominate the first person to nail Trumpovetsky with a Milkshake for the Diner Congressional Medal of Honor.

Surly, you should photoshop this one up.

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Re: Milkshaking Has Finally Landed in the U.S.
« Reply #3793 on: June 03, 2019, 03:08:35 AM »
Buy stock in Ben & Jerry's!

No video on Utoob yet I can find.  :(

RE

There was a tweet with video on Twitter. Follow the link on the original article to see it, but it is pretty indistinct.
Tweets never embed well.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Milkshaking Has Finally Landed in the U.S.
« Reply #3794 on: June 03, 2019, 03:25:45 AM »
Buy stock in Ben & Jerry's!

No video on Utoob yet I can find.  :(

RE

There was a tweet with video on Twitter. Follow the link on the original article to see it, but it is pretty indistinct.
Tweets never embed well.

I want full 4K vid!  No bullshit smartphone shit!

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