When Corporate Power Is Your Real Government, Corporate Media Is State Media

When Corporate Power Is Your Real Government, Corporate Media Is State Media

Tyler Durden

Fri, 07/31/2020 – 19:25

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

The New York Times published an astonishingly horrible article the other day titled “Latin America Is Facing a ‘Decline of Democracy’ Under the Pandemic” accusing governments like Venezuela and Nicaragua of exploiting Covid-19 to quash opposition and oppress democracy.

The article sources its jarringly propagandistic claims in multiple US government-funded narrative management operations like the Wilson Center and the National Endowment for Democracy-sponsored Freedom House, the extensively plutocrat-funded Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the United States Naval Academy.

The crown jewel of this piece of State Department stenography reads as follows:

“Adding to these challenges, democracy in Latin America has also lost a champion in the United States, which had played an important role in promoting democracy after the end of the Cold War by financing good governance programs and calling out authoritarian abuses.”

Whoa, nelly.

The fact that America’s most widely regarded newspaper feels perfectly comfortable making such a spectacularly in-your-face lie on behalf of the US government tells you everything you need to know about what the mass media in America really are and what they do.

The United States has never at any time been a champion of democracy in Latin America, before or since the Cold War. It has intervened hundreds of times in the continent’s affairs throughout history with everything from murderous corporate colonialism to deadly CIA regime change operations to overt military invasions. It is currently trying to orchestrate a coup in Venezuela after failing to stage one during the Bush administration, it’s pushing regime change in Nicaragua, and The New York Times itself admitted this year that it was wrong to promote the false US government narrative of electoral shenanigans in Bolivia’s presidential race last year, a narrative which facilitated a bloody fascist coup.

This is propaganda. There is no other word for it. And yet the only time western politicians and news reporters use that word is to talk about nations like Russia and China.

Why is propaganda used in an ostensibly free democracy with an ostensibly free media? Why are its news media outlets so consistently in alignment with every foreign policy objective of US government agencies no matter how destructive and inexcusable? If the media and the government are two separate institutions, why do they so consistently function as though they are not separate?

Well, that’s easy. It’s because they aren’t separate. The only thing keeping this from being seen is the fact that America’s real government isn’t located where people think it is.

In a corporatist system of government, where no hard lines are drawn between corporate/financial power and state power, corporate media is state media. Since bribery is legal in the US political system in the form of corporate lobbying and campaign donations, America’s elected government is controlled by wealthy elites who have money to burn and who benefit from maintaining a specific status quo arrangement.

The fact that this same plutocratic class also owns America’s media, which is now so consolidated that it’s almost entirely run by just six corporations, means that the people who run the government also run the media. This allows America’s true rulers to set up a system which promotes narratives that are favorable to their desired status quo.

Which means that the US has state propaganda. They just don’t call it that themselves.

Strip away the phony two-handed sock puppet show of US electoral politics and look at how power actually moves in that country, and you just see one more tyrannical regime which propagandizes its citizens, brutally cracks down on protestersdeliberately keeps its populace impoverished so they don’t get powerful enough to change things, and attacks any nation which dares to disobey its dictates.

Beneath the thin layer of narrative overlay about freedom and democracy, the US is just one more despotic, bloodthirsty empire. It’s no better than any of the other despotic, bloodthirsty empires throughout history. It just has good PR.

Plutocrats not only exert control over America’s media and politics, they also form alliances with the secretive government agencies whose operators remain amid the comings and goings of the official elected government. We see examples of this in the way new money tech plutocrats like Jeff BezosPeter Thiel and Pierre Omidyar have direct relationships with the CIA and its proxies.

We also see it in the sexual blackmail operation which was facilitated by the late Jeffrey Epstein in connection with billionaire Leslie Wexner and Israeli intelligence, along with potentially the FBI and/or other US intelligence agencies. Today the internet is abuzz as newly unsealed court documents relating to Epstein and his co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell reveal witness testimony regarding underage sex trafficking, with such high-profile names appearing in the documents as Alan DershowitzBill Clinton, and Prince Andrew.

The Overton window of acceptable political discourse has been shrunk into such a narrow spectrum of debate that talking about even well-known and extensively documented facts involving the real nature of America’s government and media will get you laughingly dismissed as a conspiracy theorist, which is itself a symptom of tight narrative control by a ruling class which much prefers Americans thinking they live in a free democracy whose government they control with their votes.

In the old days you used to be able to tell who your rulers were because they’d sit on thrones and wear golden crowns and make you bow before them. Human consciousness eventually evolved beyond the acceptability of such brazen indignities, so it became necessary for rulers to take on more of a background role while the citizenry clap and cheer for the illusory puppet show of electoral politics.

But the kings are still among us, just as cruel and tyrannical as ever. They’ve just figured out how to mask their tyranny behind the facade of freedom.

But 2020 has been a year of revelations, a trend which seems likely to continue accelerating. Truth cannot stay hidden forever.

* * *

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Seattle Moves To Replace ‘Racist’ Police With ‘Trauma-Informed, Gender-Affirming, Anti-Racist’ Organizations

Seattle Moves To Replace ‘Racist’ Police With ‘Trauma-Informed, Gender-Affirming, Anti-Racist’ Organizations

Tyler Durden

Fri, 07/31/2020 – 19:05

The Seattle City Council advanced legislation on Friday which would replace the ‘racist institution of policing’ with a civilian-led activities and organizations under a new ‘Department of Community Safety & Violence Prevention.’

The bill justifies the move by pointing to the prevalence of ‘white supremacy culture’ and the Seattle PD’s role in ‘perpetuating racism and violence.’

“WHEREAS, the Council is committed to confronting the structural and institutional racism as a fundamental step towards addressing the racist institution of policing,”

Whereas, these protests forced many nationwide and in Seattle to confront the racism that has been plaguing the Black community for centuries and spread to other communities of color, the harmful impacts of white supremacy culture, and the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) role in perpetuating racism and violence.

The organizations replacing the SPD will need to demonstrate several characteristics, including:

  • Culturally-relevant expertise rooted in community connections
  • Well versed in de-escalation skills and mental health support
  • Trauma-informed, gender-affirming, anti-racist praxis
  • Connected to resources like housing, food security, and other basic needs

Read the proposed bill here

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Daily Briefing – July 31, 2020

Daily Briefing – July 31, 2020


Tyler Durden

Fri, 07/31/2020 – 18:55

Senior editor Ash Bennington hosts Real Vision favorite Mike Green of Logica Capital Advisors. Mike Green gives a strategic update on the markets, and, through the lens of his renowned critique of passive investing, analyzes flow data on ETFs and mutual funds to conclude that the markets could be due for some turmoil in the coming months. Green and Bennington also discuss today’s interview with Green and Rob Arnott, one of the world’s leading quantitative investors. Green also shares his views on “volmaggedon” and the similarities between short-vol and bonds. In the intro, Jack reviews recent FAANG earnings and gives a preview of Jason Buck’s three-part “Ahead of the Curve,” a deep-dive into volatility featuring interviews with Chris Cole, Jerry Haworth, and Bastian Bolesta.

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The World’s Largest Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is Finally Being Built

The World’s Largest Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is Finally Being Built

Tyler Durden

Fri, 07/31/2020 – 18:45

Authored by Alex Kimani via OilPrice.com,

What do The Dark Knight Rises, Back to the Future, Oblivion, and Interstellar have in common

They are sci-fi megahits that showcase a technology that scientists consider the Holy Grail of Energy: Nuclear fusion.

Since the 1950s, moviegoers, scientists, and clean-energy buffs everywhere have obsessed about the vast possibilities of harnessing the almost inexhaustible supply of energy locked within atoms by creating our own miniature suns. Unfortunately, practical nuclear fusion technology has remained just that–a dream and a far-off mirage.

That is, until now. 

After 35 years of painstaking preparation and countless delays, scientists have finally broken ground by kicking off the five-year assembly phase of the massive International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world’s largest fusion reactor, in Saint-Paul-les-Durance, France.

Funded by six nations, including the US, Russia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, ITER will be the world’s largest tokamak fusion device with an estimated cost of ~$24 billion and capable of generating about 500 MW of thermal fusion energy as early as 2025. 

Practical Fusion Power

Initially, the United States and the former Soviet Union were the first countries to conduct fusion research due to its potential for the development of atomic weapons. Consequently, fusion technology remained classified until the 1958 Atoms for Peace conference in Geneva. Fusion research became ‘Big Science’ in the 1970s thanks to a breakthrough at the Soviet tokamak.

However, it soon became clear that practical nuclear fusion would only make the desired progress through international cooperation due to high costs and the complexity of the devices involved.

Nuclear fusion basically involves smashing together hydrogen atoms hard enough to form helium and release energy in the E=MC2 mass-energy equivalence. Fusion is the process through which all stars, from red dwarfs through the Sun to the most massive supergiants, generate vast amounts of energy in their cores by rising to temperatures of 4,000,000 K or higher. 

Nuclear fusion generates four times as much energy from the same mass of fuel as nuclear fission, a technology that involves splitting atoms that is currently employed in the world’s nuclear reactors. Massive gravitational forces in the Sun and stars create the right conditions for fusion to proceed at considerably lower temperatures; however, earth’s much smaller mass (1/330,000th of the Sun’s mass) and smaller gravity means that much higher temperatures in the order of hundreds of millions of Kelvin are required to kickstart the process of nuclear fusion and sustain it.

Unfortunately, every fusion experiment so far has been energy negative, taking in more energy than it generates.

ITER is a nuclear power plant designed to demonstrate that carbon-free, energy-positive fusion energy can become a commercial reality. ITER plans to use tokamak reactors to confine a deuterium-tritium plasma magnetically. 

The big fundamental challenge here is for ITER to achieve a rate of heat emitted by a fusion plasma higher than the rate of energy injected into the plasma. It is only natural to wonder what is so different this time around that makes researchers confident that ITER will not be just another expensive experiment that will end up in nuclear fusion’s trash heap.

In a past article, we reported that ITER scientists have successfully developed a new superconducting material–essentially a steel tape coated with yttrium-barium-copper oxide, or YBCO, which allows them to build smaller and more powerful magnets. This lowers the energy required to get the fusion reaction off the ground.

According to Fusion for Energy–the EU’s joint undertaking for ITER–18 niobium-tin superconducting magnets, aka toroidal field coils, will be used to contain the 150 million degrees celsius plasma. The powerful magnets will generate a powerful magnetic field equal to 11.8 Tesla, or a million times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field. Nearly 3,000 tonnes of these superconducting magnets will be connected by 200km of superconducting cables and kept at -269C by the world’s largest cryostat manufactured in India.

Europe will manufacture ten of the toroidal field coils with Japan manufacturing nine. 

The 23,000-ton tokamak is designed to produce 500 MW of fusion power from 50 MW of input heating power, thus making it energy positive.

Cleaner Than Fission?

The world’s 440 nuclear fission reactors generate about 10% of global electricity needs. A similar amount of fusion reactors could theoretically replace all coal-powered power plants, which currently supply nearly 40% of the world’s electricity.

But other than their absurd power capabilities, fusion reactors have been touted as a perfect energy source since they cannot melt down and produce much less radioactive waste unlike fission reactors, which have in the past proven catastrophic from uncontrolled chain reactions.

But here’s the irony of it all: Fission nuclear reactors remain the only reliable source of tritium for use in fusion reactors.

The deuterium-tritium reaction is favored by fusion developers over deuterium-deuterium mainly because its reactivity is 20x  higher than a deuterium-deuterium fueled reaction, and requires a temperature only a third of the temperature required by deuterium-only fusion. Unlike deuterium, which is readily available in ordinary water, tritium is rare in nature, mainly because this hydrogen isotope has a half-life of only 12.3 years.

If successful, ITER will become the world’s first source of electrical power that does not exploit a naturally occurring fuel.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether ITER and subsequent fusion power plants will incur the same ignominy that conventional nuclear energy has struggled to shake off.

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American Citizen Gunned Down In Pakistan Courtroom During ‘Blasphemy’ Trial

American Citizen Gunned Down In Pakistan Courtroom During ‘Blasphemy’ Trial

Tyler Durden

Fri, 07/31/2020 – 18:30

An American citizen who was being tried in a Pakistani court on charges of blasphemy has been gunned down and murdered in open court by a young man seeking ‘vengeance’ over profaning the name of Muhammad.

Local media describes the shooting happened in a crowded courtroom Wednesday. US national Tahir Ahmed Naseem, 47, had been in Pakistani custody since 2018, charged under the country’s strict blasphemy laws. Specially he stood accused of “defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad” after allegedly claiming to he was a messiah sent by God in social media messages, according to Reuters.



Protests in Pakistan by hardline Islamists, via Reuters.

Naseem was shot six times by a young man who smuggled a gun into the court, after protests in the region led by hardline Islamists over the case had already been raging. Naseem died at the scene.

“As Naseem’s arraignment began before the judge, a young man in the room pulled out a handgun and shot him in the head, officials and witnesses said. The young man was arrested on the spot,” Reuters reports.

The whole incident, as well as clearly lax security, has outraged the US embassy. “We urge Pakistan to take immediate action and pursue reforms that will prevent such a shameful tragedy from happening again,” the US State Department said in a tweet.

The US State Department had also said officials were “shocked, saddened, and outraged” by Naseem’s death. Per CNN:

The statement said that Naseem had been “lured to Pakistan from his home in Illinois by individuals who then used Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to entrap him.”

Though we wonder why more pressure and action apparently wasn’t applied even before the bloody courtroom killing.

Latif Afridi of Peshawar High Court Bar Association subsequently told Reuters of the gunman: “The young man who shot him had no remorse, and said he saw the Prophet Muhammad in a dream the night before.”

And Afridi further said the killer likely had inside help in getting the gun into the court, despite no less than three security checkpoints:

“It is likely someone who can go without being checked, perhaps a police officer or a lawyer, handed the shooter the gun after he entered,” he said.

Naseem had been arrested in Peshawar when it appears a student at an Islamic school reported him for his messages which police said constituted “blasphemy”.



Tahir Ahmad Naseem

Over the past three decades it’s estimated that close to 100 people have been killed in mob and other extra-judicial violence in Pakistan related to accusations of anti-Islamic blasphemy. Christians have especially been targeted by what are often the flimsiest of accusations, yet enough to gem up popular anger. 

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Vermont Profs, Students “Demand” Full “Abolition” Of Campus Police, BLM Flag To Be Flown

Vermont Profs, Students “Demand” Full “Abolition” Of Campus Police, BLM Flag To Be Flown

Tyler Durden

Fri, 07/31/2020 – 18:10

Authored by Jessica Custodio via Campus Reform,

A student-led initiative at the University of Vermont is calling not only for the university to cut ties with city police, but also to defund and disarm its own campus police.

The letter demanding that the school rid itself of police was written by five students and signed by 50 people, 39 of them being UVM faculty members, according to The Vermont Cynic. This included Vermont City Councilor Jane Stromberg.

“WE DEMAND That The University Of Vermont Campus Police Department Ceases ANY PARTNERSHIPS & FUNDING With The Burlington Police Department IMMEDIATELY,” reads the letter.

The letter goes on to demand that “rescue and social workers” be “paid as first responders” instead of police officers. 

“WE DEMAND The Annual $100,000 Paid To The Burlington Police Department From UVM’s Pockets To Cease,” the letter continues.

The group also insists that the school disarm campus police and eventually abolish the department altogether.

“WE DEMAND The Disarmament Of Campus Police. In No Uncertain Terms, No more Firearms, Batons, OC Spray, And Tasers On The University of Vermont Campus,” wrote the group adding,

“WE DEMAND The Gradual Abolition Of The University Of Vermont Campus Police Department In Order To Replace Them With A More Equitable System Of Managing Student Situations.

The demands also included that a Black Lives Matter Flag be permanently flown outside one of UVM’s main buildings.

The students compared their initiative to a 2018 series of past student activism by a group called NoNamesforJustice.  

Campus Reformcovered an incident in 2018 wherein NoNamesforJustice blocked a major intersection, chanting “Black lives matter!” and delaying ambulances.

University of Vermont spokesperson Enrique Corredera confirmed to Campus Reform that “Provost [Patricia] Prelock has met with students who submitted the demands to facilitate a discussion about their concerns.”

“We anticipate we will continue to engage with the students,” Corredera added.

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Noble Files For Bankruptcy One Month After Rushing To Pay Executive Bonuses

Noble Files For Bankruptcy One Month After Rushing To Pay Executive Bonuses

Tyler Durden

Fri, 07/31/2020 – 17:50

Two weeks ago we wrote that “Executives Of Bankrupt Companies Made $131 Million In Bonuses This Year.” Well, it time to add a few more million to it, courtesy of Noble Corporation’s very generous shareholders.

Back on July 2, in an 8-K discussing the “Departure of Directors or Certain Officers; Election of Directors; Appointment of Certain Officers; Compensatory Arrangements of Certain Officers” Noble Corp. announced that:

In response to the ongoing significant market uncertainty, the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of Noble Corporation plc, a public limited company incorporated under the laws of England and Wales (the “Company”), approved modifications to the Company’s overall compensation program on June 26, 2020 to more appropriately retain and motivate its key employees during this period of uncertainty and increased workload. The Board worked with compensation and other advisors to design and appropriately align the revised program.

This happened even though Bloomberg Javier Blas reminds us, just weeks earlier, in late May, Noble shareholders already opposed, “on an advisory basis”, the compensation of the company’s named executive officers (75.3m votes against executive compensation, 74.1m votes in favor):

To many, this accelerated ramming of an exec bonus was the clearest sign yet that a bankruptcy was inevitable. And sure enough, fast forward to today when Noble, the giant offshore drilling contractor (not to be confused with Noble Energy), filed a prepackaged bankruptcy plan with which it hopes to cut more than $3.4 billion of debt after a crash in crude prices made undersea oil wells too expensive.

The Chapter 11 filing in Texas bankruptcy court would eliminate all of the company’s bond borrowings by swapping debt for equity, the company said in a statement.

Noteholders agreed to invest $200 million of new capital through second-lien notes, and Noble has lined up a $675 million secured revolving credit facility backed by current lenders including JPMorgan Chase & Co. Noble reported both assets and liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion, according to the bankruptcy petition; the company expects to emerge from Chapter 11 before the end of the year, and will continue operating while in bankruptcy.

According to Bloomberg, the London-based company, one of the biggest owners of offshore rigs, failed to cope with a glut of floating drilling capacity that was a decade in the making, as exploration companies shifted focus to cheaper inland shale. The plunge in crude prices made any near-term recovery in offshore drilling even less probable.

Noble’s filing adds to the more than 200 bankruptcies by oilfield service companies dating from 2015, according to the law firm, Haynes and Boone.

Noble follows competitor Valaris Plc announcing Thursday that it may file for Chapter 11, while Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. filed for bankruptcy in April.

More importantly, Noble also follows dozens of other companies in rushing out executive bonuses for a “job well done” just weeks or even days before a bankruptcy filing, just to make sure the team that led the company into bankruptcy is “incentivized” enough to stay on board during the Chapter 11 (or 7) proceedings, even though that should be on the bondholders dime and not by draining the company’s prepetition coffers.

 

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Is the Senate Filibuster a ‘Jim Crow Relic’ That Should Be Abolished in the Name of Democracy?

Obama-John-Lewis-funeral-7-30-20-Newscom

During his eulogy yesterday for Rep. John Lewis (D–Ga.), a leading figure in the civil rights movement, former President Barack Obama expressed support for eliminating the Senate filibuster, which he called a “Jim Crow relic.” That position contradicted the one Obama took as senator in a chamber controlled by Republicans, and his historical framing was more than a little misleading. The filibuster, which in its current form prevents a vote on legislation without 60 votes to cut off debate, was first used in 1837 during the controversy over the Second Bank of the United States, and it has been deployed many times since for reasons having nothing to do with government-enforced white supremacy.

It is true that segregationists used the filibuster to oppose civil rights legislation in the 1950s and ’60s. Most famously, Sen. Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat representing South Carolina, spoke for more than 24 hours to impede passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which aimed to protect the voting rights of African Americans in the South. Southern legislators—including Sen. Robert Byrd (D–W.Va.), an ardent defender of Senate traditions—also used the filibuster in an unsuccessful attempt to block the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned segregation in public schools and racial discrimination in voting requirements, employment, and places of public accommodation.

But that is just a snapshot of the filibuster’s potential uses, which can be either malign or beneficial, depending on the target and one’s view of the legislation’s merits. Just as the principle of federalism does not qualify as a “Jim Crow relic” simply because segregationists invoked it, the filibuster cannot be deemed irredeemable simply because they found it useful. Like other restraints on the majority’s will—including those mandated by the Constitution, such as requiring bicameral approval of legislation and the president’s assent in the absence of a congressional supermajority—the filibuster is an ideologically neutral obstacle that makes it harder to pass laws. Whether you think its net impact is good or bad is apt to depend not only on which party happens to be in power but also on your general view of the work that Congress does.

The filibuster was not part of the original constitutional design. It arose from a rule change that Vice President Aaron Burr urged in 1805. As George Washington University political scientist Sarah Binder explained during a 2010 Senate hearing, Burr thought the chamber’s rule book was cluttered with unnecessary provisions, including what was known as the “previous question” motion, which it turned out could be used to close debate with a simple majority. Unlike the Senate, the House of Representatives retained that rule.

“Today, we know that a simple majority in the House can use the rule to cut off debate,” Binder said. “But in 1805, neither chamber used the rule that way. Majorities were still experimenting with it. And so when Aaron Burr said, ‘Get rid of the previous question motion,’ the Senate didn’t think twice. When they met in 1806, they dropped the motion from the Senate rule book.” In other words, “the filibuster was created by mistake.”

However inadvertent its inception, the filibuster has proven useful to legislators of various parties during the last two centuries, as its persistence demonstrates. And while the very term filibuster—derived from the French flibustier, referring to pirates in the West Indies—suggests a lawless hijacking, there is nothing illegitimate about the tactic, since it is authorized by the Senate’s rules.

When they are in the majority, senators may complain that the filibuster is undemocratic. But the same could be said of many constitutional provisions that prevent a legislative majority from doing whatever it wants, including the restrictions imposed by the Bill of Rights, not to mention the basic principle that Congress may exercise only those powers it has been explicitly granted.

Three decades elapsed between the Senate’s rule change and the first recorded use of the filibuster. In 1837, Whig senators used the tactic in an attempt to keep Democrats from expunging an 1834 resolution that censured President Andrew Jackson for removing federal funds from the Second Bank of the United States. The Democrat-controlled Senate nevertheless nullified the resolution by a five-vote margin.

While “there were very few filibusters before the Civil War,” Binder noted, they were common by the 1880s, deployed against civil rights legislation but also against election law changes, nominations, and the appointment of Senate officers. In 1917, Woodrow Wilson, outraged by Republican senators’ filibustering of his proposal to arm merchant ships as a deterrent to German U-boats, demanded reform to disempower this “little group of willful men.” The Senate responded by adopting Rule 22, which empowered a two-thirds majority to cut off debate—a compromise between Democrats who favored a simple-majority rule and Republicans who resisted any change. In 1975, the Senate reduced the majority required for cloture from two-thirds to three-fifths, or from from 67 to 60 votes in a chamber with 100 members.

“Adoption of Rule 22 occurred because Wilson and the Democrats framed the rule as a matter of national security,” Binder noted. “They fused procedure with policy, and used the bully pulpit to shame senators into reform.” While that description suggests senators who opposed American involvement in World War I were engaged in shameful obstruction, a more skeptical view of that senseless and disastrous conflict suggests otherwise, and the defeat of the Wilson-backed bill inspired a chapter of Profiles in Courage.

Whatever your view of Wilson or World War I, it is indisputable that senators have used the filibuster for what they sincerely believed were sound, public-spirited reasons going beyond petty partisan interests. To take an example that appeals to libertarians, Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) protested the Obama administration’s policy of “targeted killing” via drone with an old-fashioned 13-hour talking filibuster against the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan in 2013. Those of a different political persuasion may admire the eight-and-a-half-hour filibuster that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) pulled off in 2010 to protest the extension of federal tax cuts.

Both Democrats and Republicans have used filibusters or the threat of them to block the nomination of judges and justices whose records they found alarming. That option was largely foreclosed in 2013, when a Democrat-controlled Senate, frustrated by Republican opposition to Obama’s judicial picks, approved a rule that allowed a simple majority to end debate on almost all presidential nominations except for the Supreme Court—an exception that was eliminated four years later, after Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014 and Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Both changes were accomplished via the “nuclear option,” a parliamentary maneuver that allows a simple majority to approve rule changes.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–Nev.), who had opposed the nuclear option as a threat to venerable Senate norms when George W. Bush was president and Republicans ran the Senate, switched positions in 2013. So did Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.), who as the majority whip during the Bush administration had threatened to make the rule change that Reid resisted.

McConnell warned Democrats that they would regret their shortsighted move. And presumably they did once McConnell, converting again, greased the skids for Trump’s Supreme Court nominees and the president began reshaping the federal judiciary. As the Cato Institute’s Gene Healy noted in 2013, “Serious political movements shouldn’t try to knock down all the barriers to power whenever they temporarily enjoy it, because nothing is permanent in politics save the drive for more federal power, and the weapons you forge may someday be detonated by the other side.”

When politicians are in the mood to defend filibusters (i.e., when their party is not in charge of the Senate), they often say that preserving the tactic helps ensure that the minority’s views receive adequate consideration as legislation is crafted. Bipartisanship for its own sake is a dubious goal. Joe Biden, who is trying to replace Donald Trump as the guy who gets to make nominations without worrying about filibusters, has famously cited his collaboration with Strom Thurmond—yes, the same senator who tried to block a civil rights bill with the longest filibuster in U.S. history—as an inspiring example of bipartisanship. That collaboration produced the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, a godawful piece of legislation that set the pattern for a decade of indiscriminately punitive criminal justice policies.

Still, there is something to be said for mechanisms that require the majority to slow down, reflect a bit, and maybe even read legislation before passing it. Biden used to think so. Last February, while he was competing for the Democratic nomination, he said he was against eliminating filibusters. But this week, contemplating a victory that looks increasingly likely, he is having second thoughts.

Despite his adulation of compromise and consensus, Biden now thinks it may be time to remove this impediment to presidential agendas. “It’s going to depend on how obstreperous [Republicans] become,” Biden told reporters on Monday. “But I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.”

The situational ethics of filibusters could be seen as evidence that the time-honored tradition is nothing more than a tricky maneuver that members of both major parties praise when it’s convenient and condemn when it’s not. But the relevant question is whether that tricky maneuver, on balance, gives us better or worse government. When you think about the gratuitous, pernicious, and blatantly unconstitutional legislation that Congress manages to pass even when the filibuster option is available, it is hard to imagine that eliminating this obstacle would improve the situation.

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Is the Senate Filibuster a ‘Jim Crow Relic’ That Should Be Abolished in the Name of Democracy?

Obama-John-Lewis-funeral-7-30-20-Newscom

During his eulogy yesterday for Rep. John Lewis (D–Ga.), a leading figure in the civil rights movement, former President Barack Obama expressed support for eliminating the Senate filibuster, which he called a “Jim Crow relic.” That position contradicted the one Obama took as senator in a chamber controlled by Republicans, and his historical framing was more than a little misleading. The filibuster, which in its current form prevents a vote on legislation without 60 votes to cut off debate, was first used in 1837 during the controversy over the Second Bank of the United States, and it has been deployed many times since for reasons having nothing to do with government-enforced white supremacy.

It is true that segregationists used the filibuster to oppose civil rights legislation in the 1950s and ’60s. Most famously, Sen. Strom Thurmond, then a Democrat representing South Carolina, spoke for more than 24 hours to impede passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which aimed to protect the voting rights of African Americans in the South. Southern legislators—including Sen. Robert Byrd (D–W.Va.), an ardent defender of Senate traditions—also used the filibuster in an unsuccessful attempt to block the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned segregation in public schools and racial discrimination in voting requirements, employment, and places of public accommodation.

But that is just a snapshot of the filibuster’s potential uses, which can be either malign or beneficial, depending on the target and one’s view of the legislation’s merits. Just as the principle of federalism does not qualify as a “Jim Crow relic” simply because segregationists invoked it, the filibuster cannot be deemed irredeemable simply because they found it useful. Like other restraints on the majority’s will—including those mandated by the Constitution, such as requiring bicameral approval of legislation and the president’s assent in the absence of a congressional supermajority—the filibuster is an ideologically neutral obstacle that makes it harder to pass laws. Whether you think its net impact is good or bad is apt to depend not only on which party happens to be in power but also on your general view of the work that Congress does.

The filibuster was not part of the original constitutional design. It arose from a rule change that Vice President Aaron Burr urged in 1805. As George Washington University political scientist Sarah Binder explained during a 2010 Senate hearing, Burr thought the chamber’s rule book was cluttered with unnecessary provisions, including what was known as the “previous question” motion, which it turned out could be used to close debate with a simple majority. Unlike the Senate, the House of Representatives retained that rule.

“Today, we know that a simple majority in the House can use the rule to cut off debate,” Binder said. “But in 1805, neither chamber used the rule that way. Majorities were still experimenting with it. And so when Aaron Burr said, ‘Get rid of the previous question motion,’ the Senate didn’t think twice. When they met in 1806, they dropped the motion from the Senate rule book.” In other words, “the filibuster was created by mistake.”

However inadvertent its inception, the filibuster has proven useful to legislators of various parties during the last two centuries, as its persistence demonstrates. And while the very term filibuster—derived from the French flibustier, referring to pirates in the West Indies—suggests a lawless hijacking, there is nothing illegitimate about the tactic, since it is authorized by the Senate’s rules.

When they are in the majority, senators may complain that the filibuster is undemocratic. But the same could be said of many constitutional provisions that prevent a legislative majority from doing whatever it wants, including the restrictions imposed by the Bill of Rights, not to mention the basic principle that Congress may exercise only those powers it has been explicitly granted.

Three decades elapsed between the Senate’s rule change and the first recorded use of the filibuster. In 1837, Whig senators used the tactic in an attempt to keep Democrats from expunging an 1834 resolution that censured President Andrew Jackson for removing federal funds from the Second Bank of the United States. The Democrat-controlled Senate nevertheless nullified the resolution by a five-vote margin.

While “there were very few filibusters before the Civil War,” Binder noted, they were common by the 1880s, deployed against civil rights legislation but also against election law changes, nominations, and the appointment of Senate officers. In 1917, Woodrow Wilson, outraged by Republican senators’ filibustering of his proposal to arm merchant ships as a deterrent to German U-boats, demanded reform to disempower this “little group of willful men.” The Senate responded by adopting Rule 22, which empowered a two-thirds majority to cut off debate—a compromise between Democrats who favored a simple-majority rule and Republicans who resisted any change. In 1975, the Senate reduced the majority required for cloture from two-thirds to three-fifths, or from from 67 to 60 votes in a chamber with 100 members.

“Adoption of Rule 22 occurred because Wilson and the Democrats framed the rule as a matter of national security,” Binder noted. “They fused procedure with policy, and used the bully pulpit to shame senators into reform.” While that description suggests senators who opposed American involvement in World War I were engaged in shameful obstruction, a more skeptical view of that senseless and disastrous conflict suggests otherwise, and the defeat of the Wilson-backed bill inspired a chapter of Profiles in Courage.

Whatever your view of Wilson or World War I, it is indisputable that senators have used the filibuster for what they sincerely believed were sound, public-spirited reasons going beyond petty partisan interests. To take an example that appeals to libertarians, Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) protested the Obama administration’s policy of “targeted killing” via drone with an old-fashioned 13-hour talking filibuster against the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan in 2013. Those of a different political persuasion may admire the eight-and-a-half-hour filibuster that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) pulled off in 2010 to protest the extension of federal tax cuts.

Both Democrats and Republicans have used filibusters or the threat of them to block the nomination of judges and justices whose records they found alarming. That option was largely foreclosed in 2013, when a Democrat-controlled Senate, frustrated by Republican opposition to Obama’s judicial picks, approved a rule that allowed a simple majority to end debate on almost all presidential nominations except for the Supreme Court—an exception that was eliminated four years later, after Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014 and Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Both changes were accomplished via the “nuclear option,” a parliamentary maneuver that allows a simple majority to approve rule changes.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–Nev.), who had opposed the nuclear option as a threat to venerable Senate norms when George W. Bush was president and Republicans ran the Senate, switched positions in 2013. So did Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.), who as the majority whip during the Bush administration had threatened to make the rule change that Reid resisted.

McConnell warned Democrats that they would regret their shortsighted move. And presumably they did once McConnell, converting again, greased the skids for Trump’s Supreme Court nominees and the president began reshaping the federal judiciary. As the Cato Institute’s Gene Healy noted in 2013, “Serious political movements shouldn’t try to knock down all the barriers to power whenever they temporarily enjoy it, because nothing is permanent in politics save the drive for more federal power, and the weapons you forge may someday be detonated by the other side.”

When politicians are in the mood to defend filibusters (i.e., when their party is not in charge of the Senate), they often say that preserving the tactic helps ensure that the minority’s views receive adequate consideration as legislation is crafted. Bipartisanship for its own sake is a dubious goal. Joe Biden, who is trying to replace Donald Trump as the guy who gets to make nominations without worrying about filibusters, has famously cited his collaboration with Strom Thurmond—yes, the same senator who tried to block a civil rights bill with the longest filibuster in U.S. history—as an inspiring example of bipartisanship. That collaboration produced the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, a godawful piece of legislation that set the pattern for a decade of indiscriminately punitive criminal justice policies.

Still, there is something to be said for mechanisms that require the majority to slow down, reflect a bit, and maybe even read legislation before passing it. Biden used to think so. Last February, while he was competing for the Democratic nomination, he said he was against eliminating filibusters. But this week, contemplating a victory that looks increasingly likely, he is having second thoughts.

Despite his adulation of compromise and consensus, Biden now thinks it may be time to remove this impediment to presidential agendas. “It’s going to depend on how obstreperous [Republicans] become,” Biden told reporters on Monday. “But I think you’re going to just have to take a look at it.”

The situational ethics of filibusters could be seen as evidence that the time-honored tradition is nothing more than a tricky maneuver that members of both major parties praise when it’s convenient and condemn when it’s not. But the relevant question is whether that tricky maneuver, on balance, gives us better or worse government. When you think about the gratuitous, pernicious, and blatantly unconstitutional legislation that Congress manages to pass even when the filibuster option is available, it is hard to imagine that eliminating this obstacle would improve the situation.

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You Can Now Be Fined, Jailed, & Assaulted For Not Wearing A Mask In America

You Can Now Be Fined, Jailed, & Assaulted For Not Wearing A Mask In America

Tyler Durden

Fri, 07/31/2020 – 17:30

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, risks to your prosperity… and on occasion, inspiring poetic justice.

Governors proclaim chicken wings are not a meal

The pandemic has made Governors so power hungry that they are now telling restaurants what counts as a meal.

States like California and New York are forcing restaurants and bars to only serve alcohol with meals.

That prompted some establishments to add special menu items so that patrons who just wanted a drink didn’t have to order an entire meal.

But now that tactic has caught the eye of Comrade-Governors Newsom and Cuomo.

They have decided that not only is it within their power to tell restaurants if they are allowed to serve drinks and food, but these Governors also claim the power to dictate what counts as a meal.

The dictator of California officially decreed that buffalo chicken wings are not a meal.

Nor are reheated frozen entrees, “pizza bites (as opposed to a pizza)”, or “any small portion of a dish that may constitute a main course when it is not served in a full portion or when it is intended for sharing in small portions.”

And the dictator of New York said the food available has to be “More than just hors d’oeuvres, chicken wings, you had to have some substantive food. The lowest level of substantive food were sandwiches.”

There you have it, sandwiches are a meal, chicken wings are not. So says the politburo.

Click here to read the full story.

A&E loses half its viewers after canceling “Live PD”

Amid calls for police accountability, A&E canceled its reality TV show “Live PD” to try to appease the Twitter mob.

Does this seem counterintuitive to you? It does to me. Following cops around with a camera seems like it would INCREASE police accountability.

But A&E seems to think that if they stop filming the police, then transparency and accountability will improve. In other news, 2+2 = 5.

But it turns out bowing to the Twitter mob isn’t necessarily good for business.

A&E’s total prime time viewership dropped by over 50% in the week after the show was cancelled.

And the channel has hardly recovered since then. Compared to this time last year, A&E has suffered a 36% total decline in viewers.

“Live PD” and its spin-offs were by far the most successful shows on A&E and sometimes made up 85% of its programming.

The shows brought in almost $300 million last year in advertising revenue.

Oops.

Click here to read the full story.

California State Universities now require Social Justice course

The California State University system is adding its first new general education requirement in 40 years.

Students at all 23 college campuses will now be required to take a class on either social justice, or ethnic studies.

But this new requirement was met with ANGER by the California Faculty Association.

They said it was “deplorable and disrespectful” that this requirement was passed without the consultation of CSU Council of Ethnic Studies.

And they were disappointed that the new rule didn’t go far enough, because some of the classes that fulfill the requirement are not closely enough related to ethnic studies.

This is a great reason to absolutely NEVER try to appease the Twitter mob– they won’t be satisfied, they will always want more. And YOU might even become a target for being the wrong kind of woke.

But this is a great way to truly mark the point where a college degree becomes worthless (especially when you are paying full tuition for online classes).

Click here to read the full story.

Woman pepper-sprays couple for not wearing masks during picnic

A couple went to a San Diego park to have lunch.

They set up their picnic, properly socially distanced from other park-goers, and removed their masks to eat.

That’s when they began being harassed by an older woman. She flipped them off, and yelled obscenities about them not wearing masks in public.

Then this woman walked up to the picnicking couple and pepper sprayed them.

It was all caught on camera by another person at the park. As the culprit walked off, she claimed she was defending herself… against people in an outdoor park, minding their own business, eating lunch.

So now, because of the Covid hysteria, people think it’s “defense” to physically attack strangers for not wearing a mask. That’s where we are as a society.

Click here to read the full story.

Indiana Executive Order carries 6 months in jail for no mask

First it was individual towns threatening jail time over not wearing masks.

Now the entire state of Indiana will force residents to wear masks anytime they are in public, with the threat of jail hanging over anyone who does not comply.

The Governor of Indiana thinks six months in jail is appropriate for people who don’t wear a mask in public.

But he said, “We are going to continue to try to appeal to Hoosiers to do the right thing… mask police will not be patrolling Hoosier streets.”

So then what’s that six months in jail for?

Click here to read the full story.

… but Mask Police WILL be patrolling Miami streets

The mask police have formed a 39-officer-strong unit in Miami to look for violators showing their dirty faces in public.

Anyone caught without a mask will be charged $50 for a first offense, then $100.

A third offense comes with a $500 fine, and arrest.

Click here to read the full story.

… yet somehow Federal employees are exempt from wearing masks

You can now be fined $1,000 in Washington DC for not wearing a mask in public.

But the Mayor exempted lawmakers, judges, and federal employees from the order. So apparently federal employees are unable to spread the virus?

That must be why the laws only apply to peasants like us, not to the important people making and enforcing the laws.

Click here to read the full story.

*  *  *

On another note… We think gold could DOUBLE and silver could increase by up to 5 TIMES in the next few years. That’s why we published a new, 50-page long Ultimate Guide on Gold & Silver that you can download here.

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/3k3krKS Tyler Durden