30 October 2019

Clown World Impeachment

After three years of hoaxes and hysteria, the Democrats are finally bringing forward an impeachment inquiry resolution in the House of Representatives.

Sort of.

The resolution comes roughly one month after Nancy Pelosi officially "announced" an impeachment inquiry and delegated it to the endlessly duplicitous Adam Schiff and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

To give credit where credit is due, the resolution at least pays lip service to the virtues of transparency and fidelity to due process of law.  However, it does condition rights of the minority upon the concurrence of the committee chair and makes no provision for the participation of President Trump's various counsel. It presents plenty of opportunity for Adam Schiff to make more of his trademark mischief.

Strangest of all, while Adam Schiff's Intelligence Committee is running the inquiry, Congressman Jerry Nadler and the House Judiciary Committee is the group the resolution tasks with drafting articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Given the high degree of chaos and confusion that surrounds both committees and their chairs, how this division of duties will facilitate an expeditious process remains a mystery.

Update (10/31/2019): The House passed the impeachment resolution on a strict party line vote, with two Democrats defecting to vote "No".

Also of note: During debate on the rules portion of the resolution, the House Rules Committee voted down an amendment calling for any exculpatory material to be turned over President Trump and his attorneys--a rule similar to the "Brady" rule that exists in the Federal court system. That is not a stance that comports with existing standards of due process within American law.

Yet the resolution is not the most significant hurdle the Democrats have to overcome on impeachment. Regardless of the committee, regardless of the rules, regardless of their level of respect or contempt for due process, at some point, the Democrats have to make the case for impeachment.  

What sort of case can they make?

Let us begin with the basic background of the current impeachment imbroglio.  Only July 25, 2019, President Trump had a telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which it has been alleged that President Trump coercively and corruptly pressured Zelensky to provide what the Russians call "kompromat"--"dirt", in the American idiom--on presumptive 2020 Presidential opponent Joe Biden. The crux of the material Trump is alleged to have sought involves son Hunter Biden's directorship with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, during Joe Biden's tenure as Vice President. That Hunter Biden held a directorship with Burisma at the time Joe Biden was the Obama Administration's "point man" on Ukrainian policy is documented fact.

I shall concede an obvious point: if the allegation against Donald Trump is true, that he did use military aid to coerce dirt on Joe Biden from the Ukrainians, that would be an ugly and potentially impeachable abuse of power, even if it could not be shown to be a criminal act in and of itself.

Yet we must also acknowledge something else equally obvious: In order for a Ukrainian investigation to be unwarranted, there must be no question of impropriety by Joe Biden with respect to the Obama Administration's Ukrainian policy. An investigation can only count as "dirt" if it is inappropriate and unwarranted. If there is any potential for impropriety, President Trump, as the nation's chief executive and charged with the faithful execution of the laws, is well within his Constitutional prerogative to have an investigation into possible improprieties by the Bidens. The Democrats must thus exonerate Joe Biden before they can impeach Donald Trump--at least, presuming they wish to maintain a fidelity to the rule of law and due process of law.

Is there cause to investigate Joe Biden, either by the US Department of Justice or by the Ukrainian state prosecutors? Quite probably.

18 USC 208 sets forth a legal basis for determining conflicts of interests for government officials. It specifically precludes government officials from participating in any process, even in an advisory capacity, where said official or a family member has a financial interest. The statute forbids involvement purely on the basis of that financial interest, and does not require there be any corruption or malfeasance behind the financial interest itself. Hunter Biden's directorship at Burisma almost certainly qualifies as a conflict of interest under this statute.

(Update: it should be noted that the Vice President is specifically excluded from the legal strictures of 18 USC 208 via an exception in 18 USC 202(c), but while this does relieve the Vice President from legal consequence it cannot alter the definitive conflict of interest that arises. But for Joe Biden's status as Vice President, Hunter Biden's Burisma directorship was a textbook 18 USC 208 violation)

Moreover, Joe Biden's repeated insistence that Hunter Biden did not do anything wrong is irrelevant, regardless of whether the assertion is true or false. The ethical and potentially legal malfeasance raised by Hunter Biden's Burisma directorship is that Joe Biden had a clear and unmistakable conflict of interest per 18 USC 208 and took no action to remediate it: he did not recuse himself from Ukrainian matters, nor did he request Hunter Biden to resign the directorship, nor is there any indication of a waiver being either sought or granted with respect to Hunter Biden and Burisma.

18 USC 208 is a criminal statute, and criminal penalties apply when it is violated; moreover, even if Joe Biden is not subject to criminal sanction by virtue of being Vice President, such cavalier disregard for even the appearance of a conflict of interest creates a significant ethical if not legal issue. Is it inappropriate for the US Department of Justice to investigate the Bidens with this statute in mind (we should also keep in mind that the Vice President has few official duties beyond presiding over the Senate; an argument that Joe Biden, during his diplomatic work with Ukraine, was not acting as Vice President but as special envoy and thus subject to 18 USC 208 prohibitions is a matter for a court to adjudicate)? That would be unlikely; the conflict of interest is as factual as Hunter Biden's Burisma directorship, and would, by itself, occasion a complaint of official corruption.

As a matter of simple logic and examination of irrefutable fact, we cannot conclude that Donald Trump was looking for "dirt" on Joe Biden. An investigation into the Bidens is easily justifiable under US law. The extent to which Hunter Biden's activities might run afoul of Ukrainian corruption laws (on the Ukrainian side of things, Hunter Biden would have largely the same conflict of interest as Joe Biden) is an unknown, but if there were to be a corruption investigation by the Department of Justice, arguing that Ukraine should not have a coordinated investigation of aspects falling within their jurisdiction seems a rather tenuous and uncertain position to take.

Can seeking the investigation itself be corrupt? No. President Trump is charged per the Constitution to see that US laws are faithfully executed. He is, by the nature of the office, the United States' chief law enforcement official. In that capacity, directing and facilitating investigations is part of the job, albeit one almost entirely delegated to the Attorney General and the Department of Justice. Corrupt purpose cannot be inferred from exercise of legitimate statutory or Constitutional authority.

There is an argument to be made that seeking such investigations by the Ukraine is not a good policy position for the United States, but differences on matters of policy by definition cannot be corruption. Policy matters are, in a democracy, both to be expected and to be discussed publicly. Policy matters are not fit material for either articles of impeachment or criminal indictments. Congress would be well within its rights to object to Trump's pursuit of an investigation, even to the extent of passing a resolution of censure of the President. Indeed, if the policy differences are significant and relevant, one could even argue it is the duty of Congress to lodge such opposition and disapproval. Yet opposition and disapproval are not themselves proof of corruption, nor even intimation of corruption. In a democracy, people will disagree; that is the order of things.

Without a corrupt act, a charge of abuse of power is unsustainable, as a matter of logic and as a matter of law.

This is the quandary in which the Democrats find themselves. Before they can impeach Donald Trump--before they can plausibly hope to persuade the Senate to convict on articles of impeachment--regarding his July 25 telephone call to the Ukrainian President, they must exonerate Joe Biden of any and all impropriety. At the moment, they are not even considering Biden's activities in the Ukraine, and they certainly are not establishing they are in any way interested in scrutinizing those activities.

Perversely, one could argue the Mueller report has a more substantive case for obstruction of justice than the current impeachment inquiry has for abuse of power. The Democrats' inaction on the Mueller report since its release is a fair proof the Democrats do not believe in its case for impeachment, which makes their current faith in impeachment on abuse of power a mystery.

Thus we have a true Clown World Impeachment. We have an impeachment inquiry without a defined impeachable offense, without investigation to lay a proper foundation for even a single article of impeachment, without an efficient and effective inquiry process from which to draw articles of impeachment, yet with Democrats professing all the certitude that President Trump's malfeasances are both damning and amply established, all the while remaining studiously ignorant of the most crucial facts essential to their allegations against President Trump.

Orwell and Kafka would both be quite impressed by today's Democrats. Clown World has outdone them both.

27 October 2019

Clown World Without End

To call today's seminal news event "significant" would be a study in ironic understatement. The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an attack by US Special Forces is a major blow to the ISIS terrorist organization, and quite possibly the death knell for any thought of the ISIS caliphate reconstituting itself within the territories of Iraq and Syria.

For any advocate of Western culture and Western civilization, the death of al-Baghdadi is a sobering moment, but a positive one. al-Baghdadi was a terrorist, and a particularly vile and violent terrorist, responsible for the deaths of thousands in cruel and barbaric fashion. It is no exaggeration to say that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was an evil human being, and an enemy of all mankind. While I generally refrain from celebrating the demise of another human being, it would be difficult not to acknowledge the good his death will do in the Middle East.

My own sentiments are summarized in my post on Gab:

Washington, DC, for its part, alternated between congratulatory praise (mostly from Republicans), to somewhat predictable pouting from Democrats at having been kept out of the loop until after the attack was concluded.

Yet while we congratulate the US Military and President Trump for this undeniable victory, we must ask a troublesome and troubling question:

What on Earth is wrong with the legacy media?

As my Gab posting shows, Bloomberg had a rather anodyne obituary of al-Baghdadi. Not to be outdone, the Washington Post went even farther in sanitizing the bloody legacy of the ISIS leader, rewriting their initial obituary headline, removing "terrorist-in-chief" in favor of "extremist leader of Islamic State".
The original headline as of this morning

The headline as of this writing

Congressman Steve Scalise captured the repugnant irony of the Washington Post headline revision perfectly on Twitter:

The cynical view of this is that the legacy media, and in particular the Washington Post, is engaging in clickbait journalism. Their headline revisions have the absolutely foreseeable effect of making the paper's coverage of the story part of the story. The Twitterverse is replete with many online commentators, including several political figures, weighing in, not on the killing of al-Baghdadi, which is a legitimate news event, but on the Washington Post's headline, which is anything but legitimate news--and I will acknowledge the irony in decrying the headline as illegitimate "Fake" news even as I comment at length on it here.

It takes no great stretch of imagination to envision the Washington Post driving a few more mouse clicks, and a few more bits of ad revenue, by creating this controversy. It is speculation, of course, and I do not claim any inside information about this, but it is a speculation that fits the available facts, and the known tendencies of the legacy media to pursue clickbait narratives at the expense of the facts and contexts of a particular story. It is a perfectly proper logical conclusion to impute the outcomes of an action as the intended outcome, and so it is fair to presume, with the evidence of controversy surrounding the Post, that this was the intended outcome.

Clown World, it seems, is to be eternal. Narratives for the sake of revenue truly are the business model of the legacy media, and not even a major news event will motivate them to break away from that profit-driven strategy to treat serious news seriously, with at least some objectivity and some effort to contain biases.

That may be their choice. It is a bad choice. Worse, it is an unnecessary choice.

ISIS has been sufficiently in the minds of Americans--and indeed people around the world--that this event would grab everyone's attention even without clickbait. al-Baghdadi's demise is, ultimately, a positive event for the Western world, but also for the moderate portions of the Islamic world. al-Baghdadi had a bloody hand in bringing about the bloody civil war that has afflicted Syria for years, and on that basis alone a great many Muslim people arguably have cause to breathe a sigh of relief at his passing.

Surely this is interest enough to drive enough mouse clicks, and generate enough ad revenue, to satisfy the heads of the legacy media companies?

For everyone else, the Washington Post headline, and Bloomberg's sanitizing of al-Baghdadi's past, are yet another reminder of how untrustworthy the legacy media truly is, and how skeptical we should be of everything they report. It is no longer an exaggeration to say that if the Washington Post reports the sun rising in the east tomorrow, the smart reader will be up at the crack of dawn to visually confirm the statement.

With many more important news stories out there than the death of the ISIS leader, this disregard for credibility by the legacy media will only serve to drive the readership of alternative media and alternative publications. Organizations such as Breitbart, One America News Network, and The Epoch Times all rightly deserve modest praise for at least acknowledging the reality of ISIS and of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In the wake of the Russian Collusion Hoax, and in the growing mudfest its sequel, "Russian Collusion 2: Ukrainian Boogaloo", this failure by the legacy media to capture a moment by reporting the facts and not their hyperpartisan anti-Trump narratives only serves to underscore how lacking in legitimacy and credibility the legacy media is. 

Truly, the case is being made by the legacy media that to read the legacy media is to be misinformed. With or without clickbait journalism, that is not an image that will sustain the legacy media very far into the future.

26 October 2019

Curtain Call: When Clown World Ends

By now it is virtually a given that the legacy media has abandoned serious journalism and objective reporting in favor of clickbait and propaganda. The evidences are too numerous to deny.

Yet even clickbait and propaganda must yield to the persistence of reality. Write one hundred news articles about the sun rising in the west and tomorrow the sun will still rise in the east. Write one hundred news articles ignoring empirical fact and all one hundred will still be discredited once the facts become clear.

The fatal flaw in the business model of clickbait and propaganda, is that reality always sets in. When it does, we must address the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.

Several events in the past forty-eight hours stand as grim reminders of the inevitability of reality:

1. The Federal Reserve Is Losing Control Of Financial Markets And The Money Supply

A story the legacy media has scrupulously kept off the front page of late has been the slightly panicked efforts of the Federal Reserve to keep liquidity in the inter-bank lending ("repo"--for "repurchase agreement") markets, even to the extent of restarting Quantitative Easing (money printing), without calling it Quantitative Easing.

The Fed is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Fed's own data shows they have pursued a relentlessly loose money supply since 2008, and their money printing accounts for nearly all financial market gains since 2009. Inspection of the data shows unequivocally the degree to which the Federal Reserve has more or less willfully inflated asset prices, with neither obvious rhyme nor apparent reason. 

Nor is the Fed alone in their lunacy, as Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank has been flooding Europe with new currency while simultaneously pushing interest rates into the negative, an interest rate structure that is quite toxic to any bank operating on a fractional reserve basis.

These events underscore how little control the Federal Reserve has over financial markets, and hint at how little control the Federal Reserve has ever had. Far from the post-2009 narrative of central bankers "saving" the world economy from collapse and catastrophic deflation, we are seeing a very real possibility central bankers may be the cause of the next economic dislocation. Their heroic acts of salvation are being revealed as the doom they have always been hoping to avoid.

2. Lieutenant General Flynn Was Set Up By The FBI

Many commentators, myself included, have argued at length about the injustice attendant on Mueller's persecution-as-prosecution treatment of General Flynn. To that chorus we can now add Sydney Powell,  Flynn's new defense counsel and a longtime critic of prosecution tactics within the Department of Justice. In her latest court filings, she is making a case for a dismissal on all charges against General Flynn, based on outrageous (and arguably criminal) prosecutorial misconduct.

The core of Powell's argument is that former FBI lawyer and former Peter Strzok mistress Lisa Page had a hand in "editing" the form 302 Strzok by law was required to complete after meeting with General Flynn, and that the original notes of Strzok's interview differ dramatically from the narrative contained within the 302--so much so that Powell makes a clear inference the FBI lied to the court.

Without delving deeply into the merits of Sydney Powell's application to the court on behalf of General Flynn, the materials she references point to a disturbing truth: the FBI Form 302 is an edited document. It is not the notes of an interview, but is a report constructed from those notes--and, at least in General Flynn's case, revised to satisfy elements of the "Deep State". 

Nor is this the first time this criticism has been raised. In July of 2011, criminal defense and civil liberties attorney Harvey Silverglate raised substantially similar arguments about the propriety of the 302, and the power it has within Federal prosecutions. 

Do we know how many 302 forms have been substantially rewritten to satisfy a prosecutor's agenda, not just as regards President Trump's Administration but across the whole of the Federal criminal justice system? We do not, but it is hardly a leap of logic to postulate it is more than one--and to postulate that more than one Federal prosecution is potentially tainted by the FBI essentially manufacturing evidence against a defendant. If Sydney Powell prevails (as I am not an attorney, I do not have an opinion as to whether she will or will not), how many criminal cases might ultimately have to be overturned as a result of establishing FBI malfeasance in a case?

Far from a narrative of the Mueller Investigation proving the corruption of Donald Trump, the facts of the Mueller Investigation are proving the corruption of the FBI and the reality of the Deep State within the bureaucracy of the Federal government.

3. US Attorney John Durham Is Opening A Criminal Investigation Into The Russian Collusion Hoax

Narratives notwithstanding, the Mueller Investigation into what must now be acknowledged as the Russian Collusion Hoax was an unmitigated disaster for the legacy media and those deeply invested in that narrative. Robert Mueller drove a stake through the heart of any theory President Trump colluded, conspired, or cooperated with Russian government actors. He did not.

What Mueller did establish by demolishing the narrative of Russian Collusion was that there were those within and without the Federal government willing to deceive, dissemble, and outright lie in order to bring down the Trump Presidency. Even as Mueller failed to follow up with indictments of Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the investigation did reveal the corruption and mendaciousness behind the efforts to unseat President Trump.

Politicians attempting to sabotage and upstage their opponents is nothing new.  What is at the very least "different", however, is the extent to which people were willing to go in that sabotage, all dutifully written up by a compliant legacy media. US Attorney John Durham is accumulating evidence of that extent, and has reached a tentative conclusion that there was a bit of criminality involved. As the Russian Collusion narrative collapses, people find themselves running afoul of the very laws they casually dismissed.

The media pursued and peddled the myth of Russian Collusion from well before the start of the Mueller investigation until Mueller's sad denouement before the House Judiciary Committee. Mueller's ultimate debunking of that hoax shredded the legacy media's credibility, even as it cost them dearly in terms of ratings and viewers.

Those who pursued the narrative of Russian Collusion relentlessly are now at risk of seeing that narrative boomerang directly back at them.

Narrative is fiction. Consequences are reality. 

This is the eternal danger of narrative: regardless of the fictions spun in pursuit of the narrative, the consequences are firmly bound to reality.

Narrative is fiction. Consequences are reality. 

This has always been so. As Matt Taibibi notes in his deconstruction of the media hysteria surrounding the Russian Collusion Hoax, the narrative of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction was fed by government bureaucrats wanting an excuse to invade Iraq. The consequence was an invasion of Iraq, with thousands of American soldiers dead, thousands more horribly injured, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed and injured, and a country that is barely governed, and has given succor to the likes of ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists.

Nor is this a recent phenomenon: The 1898 sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor helped propel the United States into war with Spain, driven in large part by salacious and sloppy reporting by the "Yellow Press" of the day. The narrative of Spanish sabotage and sloganeering resulted in real war, with thousands of real deaths.

Narrative is fiction. Consequences are reality.

This is the constant caution we must heed as we read and watch either the legacy media or the alternative media bidding to replace it. News stories are, first and foremost, stories. At best they are a restatement of reality, one journalist's reinterpretation of facts as he or she observes them to be. At worst, they are a departure from reality. Most lie somewhere in between.

What no story in the media, legacy or alternative, can ever be is reality itself. A news report quoting an individual is not the reality of either that individual or that quote, but merely a citation of the fact that said individual made said quote. Whether the story contains sufficient nuance, sufficient context, to frame such quote properly is inherently problematic. All media reporting operates within that limitation.

Every story, be it objective reporting or Clown World propaganda, must come to an end. After that final paragraph, after that closing statement, reality invariably sets in. The real world returns in full force, every time. It is in the real world that we must live, and it is in the real world that we must choose, decide, and act. It is in the real world that consequences will apply.

Narrative is fiction. Consequences are reality.

We are well advised to be mindful of the consequences, not only to ourselves but to the central characters of any narrative. If a government official becomes a "whistleblower", what will become of him? If a Congressman or Senator becomes embroiled in controversy, what outcomes are just and proper? If American troops are dispatched into an overseas conflict, how many of them will not come back alive?

The news events of the past week have been a stark reminder that narratives end, that Clown World must end. What remains is the equally stark reality--the reality of the parlous nature of our economy, the reality of prosecutorial abuse of General Flynn, the reality of the crimes committed in advancing the Russian Collusion Hoax. That the legacy media is shamelessly starting new narratives, new arcs for their propaganda, will not change the reality by so much as a punctuation mark.

The curtain call comes for every drama. The denouement awaits every narrative. Clown World must end. Reality will prevail--every time. Be prepared for reality, not for Clown World.

Narrative is fiction. Consequences are reality.

19 October 2019

Welcome To Clownworld

America must love a good cat fight.

How else can we view the latest lunacy of the legacy media, which is giving serious treatment to the latest conspiracy theory to emerge from the one-time Queen of the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton: flailing and wholly irrelevant Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian asset.

CNN believes this is actually "news". Seriously.

Even the alternative media weighed in on the circus, as ZeroHedge summarized the Twitter "war" that arose when Tulsi Gabbard responded by tweeting out that Hillary Clinton was the "queen of the warmongers":

Welcome to clownworld.

Let us be clear about this much: Whatever her politics, Tulsi Gabbard serves in the National Guard, has deployed multiple times to combat zones, in addition to being a four-term Congresswoman from Hawaii. The claim that she is in league with the Russian government, or of any government hostile to the interests of the United States, is an extraordinary one for which extraordinary evidence must be provided before the claim can be taken seriously. Hillary Clinton has provided no such evidence.

Since Hillary's claim cannot be taken seriously on its face, we are quite justified in considering what alternative motivations might exist for such a claim. We do not need to look very far, merely as far as the forefront of the Democratic 2020 contenders: Elizabeth Warren.

It is known that Hillary Clinton has been having behind the scenes meetings with Elizabeth Warren, the substance of which is not publicly disclosed. It is widely assumed among Democrats that a lack of support for Warren from Hillary Clinton would be "counterproductive." Hillary Clinton's public commentary in this Presidential cycle has not mentioned Elizabeth Warren at all.

Then we have the impact of Hillary's comments. This is the relative news search interest among Tulsi Gabbard, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren the day before Hillary made her remarks:

Note that Warren and Biden are in rough parity, in keeping with their status as co-frontrunners in the race.

Consider the change in News Search interest in just 24 hours:

With a single conspiracy theory, Hillary Clinton pushed both Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren right off the front page pretty much everywhere. With "friends" like Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren surely has no need of enemies.

It is purely speculation on my part, but I venture to say that talks between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton have not gone well.

What is not speculation is that I have just provided more evidence that Hillary Clinton is actually attacking Elizabeth Warren than Hillary Clinton has provided regarding Tulsi Gabbard's presumed ties to Russia, something I pointed out on Gab at the time.

There is an alternate conspiracy theory to consider: Tulsi Gabbard needs notoriety to stay in the hunt for the Democratic nomination.  Part of her response to Hillary Clinton's intemperate attack has been to make another plea for campaign contributions. Given the fact that, as of this moment, the hashtag "#IAmTulsi" is the number two trening topic on Twitter within the United States, the notion this was instigated by Tulsi Gabbard cannot be dsimissed.

What can be dismissed is that Tulsi Gabbard is in any position to contemplate any sort of independent run for President. With between 1% and 3% support in the polls making up the RealClearPolitics aggregate, Tulsi Gabbar has almost no following or constituency to support her bid for the Presidency.

What should not be dismissed are the news stories the legacy media is ignoring while it focuses on the inane and irrelevant.

While the legacy media pontificates over the Clinton-Gabbard catfight, the alternative media is exploring the shrinking global market for automobiles, and the recessionary impacts this has.

While the legacy media swoons over Tulsi Gabbard tweeting back smack to counter Hillary Clinton, alternative media outlet Human Events is documenting the plight of the Uyghurs in western China, and Beijing's campaign of genocide against them.

While the legacy media marinates in melodrama, ZeroHedge highlighted the constant struggle the Federal Reserve has had the past several weeks maintaining liquidity in this country's financial systems. If you only read the legacy financial media outlets you would not know America's financial systems are flirting with a 2008-style lockup, and the Federal Reserve is unable to get ahead of the problem--a rather significant oversight by the legacy media.

There is news people need. There are stories that must be told. There are stories of profound human interest that should prick our collective conscience. A twitter cage match between Tulsi Gabbard and Hillary Clinton is not one of those stories. Nor is a twitter blood feud between Tulsi and the legacy media over their "smears" directed towards her and her campaign.

The legacy media would rather cover Tulsi vs Hillary than provide actual news. The legacy media would rather serve up digital "bread and circuses" than meaningful, substantive content.

I will keep beating the same drum as in my last post, for the message is that important:
Read broadly. Read critically. Read for quality, and reward quality. Set high expectations for those who would call themselves "journalists". Critique, criticize, and challenge everything and everyone.
I will be blunt: clickbait works. I know clickbait works. Even I phrase my tweets and Gabs and other social media with an eye towards attracting intention and inviting response. Like every other blogger and would-be commentator and journalist, I want to be noticed. I will not be so much the hypocrite as to pretend otherwise.

Yet I want to be noticed for having something to say. I want to be noticed for having provoked a bit of thought, an occasional discussion, an inspiration to research independently and explore with a critical eye the world around us.   

I want people to know all the stories that are out there, A people cannot be truly free if they are not accurately and fully informed. Throughout the evolution of this blog, presenting information and encouraging discussion and debate have always been the overarching theme (I leave it to the reader to decide how well I succeed in this objective).

Sadly, the legacy media no longer appears to share this objective, if indeed it ever did. The extent to which the alternative media shares this objective is problematic, with some independent journalists such as Tim Pool, creator behind Subverse, striving to remove the spin and the clickbait from journalism, while other commentators preferring to wallow in various episodes of melodrama. This is a shame, for the world is rich with stories to tell--some good, some bad, some uplifting, some depressing, all important and relevant to everyone.

The warning and the caveat remains: If we are to once again have a truly free press, the one thing we must absolutely stop doing is trusting the press. Doubt and skepticism must become our cardinal virtues whenever we read anything that would presume to present "the news".

Do not trust anything. Verify everything. And look beyond the legacy media to see all that is happening in the world.

15 October 2019

All The World's A Stage. All The Media Are Very Bad Actors

What are people to do when the legacy media DELIBERATELY LIE?

Are any of them capable of telling the truth about #Syria? Or anything else?

Never trust the media. Verify instead.

This was the question I posed on social media earlier, after reading Paul Joseph Watson's Summit News article about journalist Kurt Eichenwald using a phony image to promote a false narrative regarding President Trump's recent decisions to pull back in Syria.

Sadly, this was not the only outright lie told by the legacy media on this story. ABC News spread a video of a live-fire display at a Kentucky military show as footage of actual combat in Syria. They were quickly forced to retract the video and tweet out an apology of sorts.

Additionally, while it is difficult to confirm, the media's reports of massacred Christians and Kurds in Syria by the invading Turkish army are at least somewhat contradicted by other reports claiming no such massacres have occurred.

Nor is Syria the only recent example of deliberate Fake News. A recent Fox News poll purportedly showing a significant upsurge in support for the impeachment and removal of President Trump was so obviously and ham-handedly skewed that even Fox News commntators felt obliged to call it out.

The legacy media is also the mendacious media. The legacy media is the lying media.

Why do they lie?

Certainly ratings is one reason. Some media organizations, such as McClatchy, have latched on to Fake News as a means of financial survival. They've made the conscious decision that tabloid trash is more reliable revenue than objective journalism.

Personal biases and hatreds is another. As Project Veritas documents in their "Expose CNN" piece, Jeff Zucker, the head of CNN, hates President Trump with a passion, and so all CNN news is targeted against Donald Trump, facts and journalism be damned.

If malice is not enough motive, there is also stupidity--witness the New York Times trundling out yet again the ludicrous and discredited notion the 25 Amendment is a substitute for actual impeachment.

The legacy media is not merely getting stories wrong. These are not accidents. These are deliberate efforts to misinform and misguide the public. These are deliberate efforts to ignore important stories and essential contexts to promote demonstrably false narratives. 

While the legacy media is pushing their propaganda, they are also ignoring central banks openly discussing the possibility of a financial system collapse and a return to the gold standard.

While the legacy media is pushing their propaganda, they are ignoring a growing body of real, verifiable evidence contradicting every aspect of the Democrats latest machination to impeach Donald Trump.

While the legacy media is pushing their propaganda, they remain committed to ignoring the dangers and potentials for harm their narratives can bring, as one young woman improperly given transgender hormonal therapies discovered to the permanent detriment of her health.

While the legacy media is pushing their propaganda, they shamelessly ignore other aspects of complex stories such as Brexit, only to be caught flat-footed when the EU blinks and admits that it needs a Brexit deal perhaps even more than the UK.

What the legacy media is showing is that it is not enough to merely have a free press. A free society must have a free press that is committed to freedom. A free society must have a free press that seeks to inform even as it seeks to increase its revenue streams. People cannot make wise and informed decisions if they are prevented from having all relevant and available information, and what we are witnessing is the intentional efforts by the legacy media to withhold or corrupt that information.

Without a commitment to a full presentation of the facts, and honest coverage of all stories, not just the preferred narratives. we do not have a truly free press. By promoting propaganda, the legacy media are chained to propaganda.

What can the ordinary reader do about this? That was the question posed initially, and that is the question that must be answered.

Of course there is the obvious response: "Never trust. Verify instead."  No reader should blithely trust any media source. As i have stated, and as alt media journalist Tim Pool states repeatedly, "fact check me." Challenge what journalists, analysts, and commentators say, whether they are legacy media or alt media.

Accept that every media source is biased. CNN obviously is, and so is the New York Times. So is Tim Pool. So am I. Anyone presenting information will always present it through the lens of his own perceptions and perspectives. Anyone saying they are completely "objective" is lying, including to themselves.

Recognize there is a difference between "infotainment" and actual news. The first seeks only to entertain, while the second seeks to educate and inform. The bulk of the legacy media, particularly the online cable television shows, falls under the catgory of infotainment. Approach it with caution.

Recognize also that what matters most are the facts. It does not matter if a quote appears in the New York Times, or CNN, or in WND, or in the Epoch Times. It does not matter where a bit of commentary or analysis resides, be it this blog or the Washington Post or even Infowars. The facts are what they are, and opinions are as they are.  Take all of them with a grain of salt, and formulate your own opinions, your own understanding of things.

Understand that narratives frame the news. Narratives are never the news, and should not be taken as news. It might be entertaining to watch Hannity air his opinions for an hour every night, but his opinions about the evils of the Democrats or the virtues of Donald Trump are simply that--his opinions. The same holds true for Rachel Maddow, Laura Ingraham, and even the alt media personalities such as Wayne Dupree and Tim Pool.

Note that observation is not criticism. I follow both Wayne Dupree and Tim Pool on social media, and I pay attention to what they have to say. I take note of Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham as well. I do not disparage them by saying their content is primarily opinion, I merely acknowledge the limitations inherent in such content. My own material suffers from the same limitations. These are my thought, my ideas, my opinions; they are never more nor less than this.

As a side note, please recognize that I am deliberately not linking to any of the media personalities I mention here. All are readily found online, and I encourage one and all to look them up, along with the many others a simple search engine query will reveal. Their mention is not an endorsement of either their content or their views, merely an acknowledgement they exist.

Which is the final recommendation I have for confronting a mendacious and duplicitous legacy media. Recognize that alternative outlets and sources do exist. Do not shy away from Breitbart, or the Epoch Times, or CNS, or One America News Network, merely because they fall outside that pool of media sources collectively termed "legacy media". If they present good arguments built on good information using good logic their material is as worthy of consideration as any celebrity talking head on Fox, CNN, or MSNBC. The one thing the Internet has brought all of us is a proliferation of choices--seek out and embrace all of it.

Read broadly. Read critically. Read for quality, and reward quality. Set high expectations for those who would call themselves "journalists". Critique, criticize, and challenge everything and everyone.

All the world is indeed a stage. Sadly, all the media are indeed very bad actors upon that stage. All the media is susceptible to the perils of shoddy presentation, inadequate research, and incomplete analysis. All the media is susceptible to the corruption of coin--clickbait is often more lucrative and easier to produce than solid fact-based news.

If we are to once again have a truly free press, the one thing we must absolutely stop doing is trusting the press. Doubt and skepticism must become our cardinal virtues whenever we read anything that would presume to present "the news".

Do not trust anything. Verify everything.

12 October 2019

Look For Rumors Not Just Of War, But Also Recession, Trial, And Tribulation

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

This caution by Jesus to His disciples stands as one of the most eloquent reminders that bad things happen, and whatever else one must not panic. Not every piece of bad news is a sign of imminent Rapture.

"Don't Panic" is good advice even without mentioning End Of Days or Climate Change (no apologies to Saint Greta of Thunberg, who delights in calling for panic). Very little that is either productive or helpful arises from panic.

Yet we should not confuse calm with complacency. We should remain calm, always, but we must also acknowledge we have plenty about which to be concerned.

We have war, of course: Not only is there seemingly endless war in Syria even as President Trump seeks to disengage from that perpetual conflict, but Iran and Saudi Arabia are enjoying endless proxy war, lately expressing itself in tit for tat strikes--Iran's tankers have been attacked in the Red Sea just weeks after Saudi Arabia's main oil processing facility was attacked by Iranian drones and cruise missiles.

We have rumors of war, particularly in Hong Kong, as Chinese President Xi Jinping hints at but stops short of threatening the pro-democracy protesters .there with an invasion. We have the foreign minister of Pakistan prattling about "accidental war" with neighbor and sworn enemy India.

Yet these are merely the most superficial layer of distressing news. Peel these back and we such much, much more.

Worried about epidemic disease? We have the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Africa spreading from the Congo all the way to Dar es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania. Also, the so-called "Pig Ebola" (African Swine Fever) outbreak in China is putting a serious strain on China's food supply.

War, Famine, and Pestilence.  The rumor mill is churning out three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Looking for rumors of looming if not imminent financial collapse? We have those in abundance, as both the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve engage in monetary madness.

That is not even considering the many warning signs that global recession is either upon us, about to be upon us, or perhaps never truly left us. Not only is small business formation in the United States in serious decline, but the soon-to-be-completed Brexit process of the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union is projected to inflict significant job loss continent-wide. South Korea's exports--primarily of semiconductors and microprocessors--are in significant decline. Germany's manufacturing base appears to be in full blown recession and is already pulling the rest of the EU along with it.

Wars. Rumors of war. Rumors of just about everything else, as well--recession threats, trials, and tribulations abound.

You will be forgiven if you were not aware of some of these items. With the exception of the situation in Hong Kong and the flare-up of violence in Syria, very little of this has received front-page attention by the legacy media. The Tales of Trump, including the latest installment of the Democrats' impeachment drama, "Russian Collusion 2: Ukrainian Boogaloo" has been the chosen narrative of the moment. The sad and sober truth of the legacy media is that narratives involving President Trump are more revenue-enhancing than other, arguably more serious and consequential stories, of which I have outlined but a few.

Perversely, even just highlighting some of these news items might seem to be a call to panic, because without the mass publication of these stories by the legacy media, the call to attention easily becomes the call to alarm. Yet a moment's reflection suffices to demonstrate this is not so. The call to attention is merely the constant reminder that, to be well and truly informed, one must get the facts.

Indeed, if there is one thing about which we should be alarmed it is that these rumors of recession, trial, and tribulation, these reminders that the Four Horsemen are never far behind us, are studiously ignored by the legacy media. Deliberately, they choose to hype the Tales of Trump and Democrat Impeachment Coup nonsense.

How else to explain The New York Times rolling out yet another installment of the "Trump Is Crazy" canard, invoking yet again the mysterious magic of the 25th Amendment to allow Democrats to overrule the voters?

How else to explain that presumably "conservative" and "pro Trump" Fox News published a poll purporting to show broad support for impeaching President Trump and removing him from office, a poll so skewed, so obviously biased and even manufactured, even Fox commentators such as Greg Gutfeld were compelled to call it out as an example of "Fake News"?

How else to explain McClatchy's repeated decision to run demonstrably false anti-Trump news stories as a means to prop up the newspaper chain's failing finances?

Rather than report facts, the legacy media promotes "narrative". They peddle propaganda. They hype hysteria. They promote panic. Indulgence in alliteration notwithstanding, this is not an exaggeration nor an hysterical suggestion. The facts support this--and only this--logical assessment of the legacy media.

The legacy media has made panic the center of its clickbait business model. I submit it is for this reason they make a media sensation out of 16-year old Greta Thunberg and her obsessions with climate change, without regard to her complete lack of substantive commentary on the topic.  I submit it is for this reason the legacy media chooses to dwell on their reality-show-news political dramas "The Tales of Trump" and "Russian Collusion 2: Ukrainian Boogaloo" rather than give any serious attention to any of the news stories I have mentioned here. 

The legacy media want you to panic. They want you to believe that the United States government is crumbling under the assault of Donald Trump and his fascist family. They want you to believe the Earth will burst into flames at any minute. They want you to believe that behind every smile of every person past a certain age lies unspeakable hatred, anger, and violence. They want you to obsess over the Tales of Trump and ignore these other, more relevant, more meaningful news stories.

They want you to panic. I want you to not panic.

Fight back against the media-manufactured hysteria. Fight back against the media's call for panic. Fight back by not panicking. 

Fight back by calmly reading and listening to entire stories. Fight back by asking questions,  Fight back by pursuing all worthy stories--and fight back also by developing a keen eye for when a news story is not backed up by the facts. Fight back by learning the facts.

Above all, fight back by seeking out the stories the media does not want to tell you, the stories the government does not wish you to know. Learn the contexts, seek out the nuance. Look for the rumors not just of war, but also recession, trial, and tribulation. Look for those rumors, those neglected stories, and take the time to research the actual facts behind those stories. 

Read, observe, and, most especially, think. Lead the media where you want the reporting to go. Demand they report on the stories that are relevant to you. Demand they report on the rumors, not just of war but also recession, trial, and tribulation.

Never panic. Never trust. Always verify instead.