31 December 2019

2020: New Year, Old Problems

By any measure, 2019 has been an extraordinary year. 

Interesting Times

For the world, 2019 was the year that Brexit became official--while the final separation between Great Britain and the European Union is not until the end of January, 2020, Boris Johnson and the Tories' commanding electoral victory has been yet another affirmation of British desire to stand apart from the rest of Europe. 

2019 was also the year that Hong Kong defied the fascist oligarchy of Beijing, staging an ongoing series of large scale protests which culminated in a local council election that was a staggering rejection of the pro-Beijing candidates. These elections were made all the more remarkable by the relative inaction of President Xi Jinping, who defied expectations by not turning Hong Kong into a repeat of the infamous 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre

For the United States, 2019 was the year that Democrats impeached a President in arguably the most partisan fashion ever--even more partisan than the 1868 impeachment of Andrew Johnson, and the year that saw the Democrats argue urgency of impeachment only to hold up transmitting the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. 2019 was the year that Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally admitted that Russian Collusion was a hoax, and the year that the promoters of that hoax, both in and out of government, began to receive serious (and overdue) scrutiny.

For financial markets, 2019 was the year the Federal Reserve abruptly reversed course on interest rates, closing out the year with a blast of liquidity into the interbank "repo" markets to stave off a funding collapse (a "repocalypse"), while insisting that the growth of the Fed balance sheet was not a return to "quantitative easing".

For this blog, 2019 was a year of working to grow in both readership and substance. In addition to taking the first baby steps at monetizing my work, becoming established on Patreon as well as the alternative Buy Me A Coffee, seeking the generosity of you, the readers, to help fund taking my efforts to the next level. What began as a hobby is becoming a considerably more serious endeavor--you, the reader, will decide how successful that effort is.

2019 has been the most interesting of times.

The Most Important Stories Ignored By The Legacy Media

As interesting as 2019 has been, by far the most disturbing trend has been the apparently willful blindness of the legacy media to important stories. 

There is a growing body of evidence that the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons fudged--perhaps even falsified--its report on the alleged April 2018 chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria, in which the regime of dictator Bashir al-Assad as identified as being responsible. Internal communications from within the OPCW suggests the attack may never even have occurred, yet it was used as justification for a massive multi-national cruise-missile strike against Assad's forces, with the OPCW official report providing political cover for the action. There has been almost no coverage of this developing scandal.

Given equally short shrift in the legacy media has been the global pandemic of African Swine Fever--commonly known as "pig Ebola". An incurable disease among pigs--which comprise the world's favorite source of animal protein and constitute an essential element of the global food supply--it has reduced the world's swine population by 25%, has reduced China's pig population by over 50%, and appears not to have been fully contained yet. The economic repercussions of that large a shock to protein availablility particularly in China is only just now beginning to be felt, with some nations facing a very real threat of food shortages in the near future, as chicken and beef producers scramble to fill the demand.

In a year of political protests, outside of the demonstrations in Hong Kong, the world failed to take much note of significant uprisings against established authority, all but ignoring the "Gilets Jaunes" protest movement against the administration of French President Emmanuel Macron, despite it having been going on for over a year. Iran, Iraq, and Bolivia were other nations where protests against the established governments were largely ignored by the legacy media.

In a supreme irony, perhaps the greatest story ignored by the legacy media has been the legacy media itself. 2019 is the year the media got all the big stories wrong. 2019 is the year it was made painfully obvious the legacy media had abandoned all pretense of journalism and objectivity, and was only interested in pursuing propaganda, click bait, and rage bait. 2019 is the year the legacy media stopped being the free press upon which the nation's polity depends.

Alternative Media Coming Into Its Own?

With the legacy media collapsing under its own corruption and sheer incompetence in 2019, 2019 may also hearken the rise of the alternative media ("alt-media"). News outlets such as One America News Network and The Epoch Times, along with smaller sites such as Telegraph Local, are gaining new visibility, having successfully avoided the credibility-shredding fiascos such as The Russian Collusion Hoax. Independent commentators and media critics such as Tim Pool have moved to fill the space vacated by the ministries of propaganda at The New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, and elsehwere.  Even Breitbart and  The Gateway Pundit, sites long derided by the legacy media as being partisan promoters of "conspiracy theories", have seen their credibility rise as the legacy media's has fallen--a partisan edge in reporting is not quite so damning a sin as factual inaccuracy and blatant misrepresentation.

Even A Voice Of Liberty has seen its traffic grow, the most encouraging sign yet that, regardless of what the legacy media does, there is still great interest for reason, discussion, and factually grounded debate. My goal has always been to elevate public discussion, presenting facts, occasionally (often?) taking a contrarian view hoping to explore aspects of issues that deserve greater attention than others have been willing to provide. 

Free Speech remains the moral imperative, and the Free Press remains the best guarantor of Free Speech. As the legacy media has abandoned its perch as the acme of a Free Press, alternative media has gradually started to step up to take over that role, with the usual successes and failures attendant upon first learning to walk.

It is too soon to say the Alternative Media has come into its own, but it is not too soon to say there are encouraging signs, and a hope the trend continues.

Core Problems Remain

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  For all the drama-filled news of 2019, the year closes with many of the same challenges with which it began.

The United States still displays a disturbing enthusiasm for endless regime change war in the Middle East, with the saber-rattling shifting from Syria to Iran. American soldiers are still dying in lands distant and for causes even more distant.

Big Tech is increasingly brazen in its efforts to censor and suppress speech with which it disagrees, going so far as to attempt to censor even President Trump

The "Surveillance State" is being augmented by the "Surveillance Society", as schools and other entities put more and more effort into monitoring people's movements. Seemingly, anyone with a cell phone can be tracked by just about anyone--legally.

Governments are still interfering in global trade in the name of "free trade", with the trade dispute becoming a favored tool of statecraft.

Slavery and exploitation are still far too much a part of the global economy. Too many companies deprive people the blessings of liberty in pursuit of still greater profit.

Globalist entities and organizations are still reaching for power at the expense of ordinary people. Virginia has visions of disposing of the US Constitution's protections for fundamentals rights, seeking to grab literally every gun in the state. Even the UN is making a power grab for Chinese-style control over the global Internet.

Injustice anywhere continues to threaten justice everywhere. Power continues to corrode and corrupt. Greed continues to demean and debase.

New Year, New Hope? Or Old Failures?

What shall the coming year bring the world?  

Will 2020 be a year in which the legacy media rediscovers what journalism is? Or will the legacy media continue down its dark path of censorship and propaganda?

Will alternative media continue its rise to prominence? Will journalism be thus reborn?

Will we continue to have endless war in the Middle East, or will people finally decide to give peace a chance?

Will we challenge the growing power of Big Tech and Big Government to spy on us?

Will we continue to let governments regulate and legislate away all chance for prosperity and freedom, or will 2020 be the year the evils became no longer sufferable?

Will 2020 be the year the financial markets finally collapse under the weight of too much debt and not enough substance?

Will 2020 be a year of change, or merely a change of years?

2019 is the present now soon to be past, and 2020 is the future almost now present. The passage of time is one certainty we all share. What is uncertain is what we will make of the new year, or even of the new day. No one knows what choices we will make, merely that we will be making choices, large and small.

2020 will be as 2019 has been -- a time for choosing.

I hope people choose wisely in all things.

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