Johnstone: US Officials Really, Really Want You To Know The US Is The World’s “Leader”

Johnstone: US Officials Really, Really Want You To Know The US Is The World’s “Leader”

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via,

In response to questions he received during a press conference on Monday about Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin cementing a “new era” in strategic partnership between China and Russia, the White House National Security Council’s John Kirby made no fewer than seven assertions that the US is the “leader” of the world.

Here are excerpts from his comments:

  • “The two countries have grown closer. But they are both countries that chafe and bristle at U.S. leadership around the world.”

  • “And in China’s case in particular, they certainly would like to challenge U.S. leadership around the world.

  • “But these are not two countries that have, you know, decades-long experience working together and full trust and confidence. It’s a burgeoning of late based on America’s increasing leadership around the world and trying to check that.”

  • “Peter, these are two countries that have long chafed, as I said to Jeff — long chafed at U.S. leadership around the world and the network of alliances and partnerships that we have.”

  • “And we work on those relationships one at a time, because every country on the continent is different, has different needs and different expectations of American leadership.”

  • “That’s the power of American convening leadership. And you don’t see that power out of either Russia or China.”

  • “But one of the reasons why you’re seeing that tightening relationship is because they recognize that they don’t have that strong foundation of international support for what they’re trying to do, which is basically challenge American leadership around the world.”

The illusory truth effect is a cognitive bias which causes people to mistake something they have heard many times for an established fact, because the way the human brain receives and interprets information tends to draw little or no distinction between repetition and truth. Propagandists and empire managers often take advantage of this glitch in our wetware, which is what’s happening when you see them repeating key phrases over and over again that they want people to believe.

We saw another repetition of this line recently at an online conference hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce, in which the US ambassador to China asserted that Beijing must accept the US as the “leader” of the region China happens to occupy.

US empire managers are of course getting very assertive about the narrative that they are the world’s “leader” because that self-appointed “leadership” is being challenged by China, and the nations which support it with increasing openness like Russia. Most of the major international news stories of our day are either directly or indirectly related to this dynamic, wherein the US is struggling to secure unipolar planetary domination by thwarting China’s rise and undermining its partners.

The message they’re putting out is, “This is our world. We’re in charge. Anyone who claims otherwise is freakish and abnormal, and must be opposed.”

Why do they say the US is the “leader” of the world instead of its “ruler”, anyway? I’m unclear on the difference as practically applied. Is it meant to give us the impression that the US rules the world by democratic vote? That this is something the rest of the world consented to? Because I sure as hell don’t remember voting for it, and we’ve all seen what happens to governments which don’t comply with US “leadership”.

I’m not one of those who believe a multipolar world will be a wonderful thing, I just recognize that it beats the hell out of the alternative, that being increasingly reckless nuclear brinkmanship to maintain global control. The US has been in charge long enough to make it clear that the world order it dominates can only be maintained by nonstop violence and aggression, with more and more of that violence and aggression being directed toward major nuclear-armed powers. The facts are in and the case is closed: US unipolar hegemony is unsustainable.

The problem is that the US empire itself does not know this. This horrifying trajectory we’re on toward an Atomic Age world war is the result of the empire’s doctrine that it must maintain unipolar control at all costs crashing into the rise of a multipolar world order.

It doesn’t need to be this way. There’s no valid reason why the US needs to remain in charge of the world and can’t just let different people in different regions sort out their own affairs like they always did before. There’s no valid reason why governments need to be brandishing armageddon weapons at each other instead of collaborating peacefully in the interest of all humankind. We’re being pushed toward disaster to preserve “American leadership around the world,” and I for one do not consent to this.

* * *

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Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 23:30

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Asian Voters Abandoning Woke Democrats As Crime Rises In Cities

Asian Voters Abandoning Woke Democrats As Crime Rises In Cities

You might have heard the recent story of a CNN news crew that had their car broken into while they were filming a segment on crime in San Francisco, CA.  While the irony of this is amusing to many of us, one group of people that is not laughing is Asian-Americans in the Bay Area who are growing weary of the overall damage done by leftist social justice policies.  That CNN crew was, in fact, shooting a story on the very issue of Asian voters who say they are moving away from progressive Democratic leadership and seeking out more moderate candidates, as well as Republican candidates.

The reasons for this shift are many. 

  • First, it has long been the assumption among leftist elitists that they own American minorities as a voting block and that “only whites” are conservative.  The arrogance of this thinking aside, Democrats often find themselves confounded by the percentage of minorities that are in fact moderate or conservative in their voting habits.  While many minorities might feel compelled by social pressure and propaganda to vote Democrat, the damage that is hitting their pocket books and making their streets unsafe cannot be hidden forever. 

  • Second, while leftists often claim that anti-Asian hate crimes are caused by “racist white conservatives”, a cursory glance at video footage and the prosecution records of the majority of the perpetrators of these attacks shows this is not the case.  In New York City in 2020 during the onset of the media hype on anti-Asian hate, only 2 out of 20 people arrested in connection with Asian attacks were white.   

  • Third, it has been social justice politics in places like San Francisco that have encouraged police defunding efforts while enabling criminals.  When the worst elements of society see leftist organizations like BLM and Antifa rioting in the streets and setting neighborhoods ablaze while being applauded by city politicians, they tend to feel empowered to act on their darkest impulses. 

In every single metropolis where woke politicians take control, the city starts to collapse.  From LA to New York, from San Francisco to Austin, from Portland to Seattle, the results are always the same, and now it’s not just conservatives pointing out the root problem.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 23:00

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

No, We Don’t Need More Nuclear Weapons

No, We Don’t Need More Nuclear Weapons

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Republicans and Democrats may quibble over how federal tax dollars might be spent on various social welfare programs like Medicaid and food stamps. But alongside Social Security, there is one area of federal spending that everyone can apparently agree on: military spending. Last year, the Biden administration requested one of the largest peacetime budgets ever, at $813 billion. Congress wanted even more spending and ended up approving a budget of $858 billion. In inflation-adjusted terms, that was well in excess of the military spending we saw during the Cold War under Ronald Reagan. This year, Joe Biden is asking for even more money, with a new budget request that starts at $886 billion. Included in that gargantuan amount—which doesn’t even include veterans spending—is billions for new missile systems for deploying nuclear arms, plus other programs for “modernizing” the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

Indeed, over the past year, the memo has gone out among the usual advocates of endless military spending that the US needs to spend much more on nuclear arms. This is a perennial position at the Heritage Foundation, of course, which has never met a military pork program it didn’t like. Moreover, in recent months, the Wall Street Journal has run several articles demanding more nuclear arms. The New York Post was pushing the same line late last year. Much of the rhetoric centers on the idea that Beijing is increasing its own spending on nuclear arms and thus the United States must “keep up.” For instance, last month, Patty-Jane Geller insisted that the US is in an “arms race” with China. Meanwhile, writers at the foreign-policy site 1945 claimed Congress must “save” the American nuclear arsenal.

Congress will surely be happy to cooperate. Such spending is an enormous cash cow for weapons manufacturers, although it has little to do with actual military defense. The US nuclear arsenal is huge, and China’s efforts to expand its own arsenal will have no effect on the already substantial deterrent effects of the US’s existing nuclear arsenal. Although the 1945 article insists that China soon “will field a peer or superior arsenal to the United States,” it’s difficult to see by what metric this is actually true.

Contrary to claims that the US nuclear arsenal needs to be “saved” or it will soon be eclipsed by the Chinese arsenal, the US remains well in the lead of every single nuclear power except Russia. Even if Beijing increases its arsenal to one thousand warheads, as the New York Post breathlessly predicts, the Chinese arsenal will remain well behind that of the US.

This is true even if we remove all the retired US warheads from the equation. In that case, Moscow retains the global lead with more than forty-four hundred weapons, and the US comes in second with more than thirty-seven hundred. Presently, Beijing has approximately 350 of these weapons, France has 290, and the rest of the world is well behind that.

Source: Data from Our World in Data, “Inventories of Nuclear Weapons.

Like Moscow, Washington has a full-blown and well-developed nuclear triad, complete with a fleet of nuclear subs that can launch up to twenty missiles—each containing multiple independently targeted warheads—land-based missile silos, and bombers. Each option provides ways to deliver hundreds of warheads. The submarine fleet, of course, is constantly mobile, ensuring first-strike survivability.

The Nonexistent Missile Gap

This won’t stop advocates of more spending from calling for more. They’ll always have reasons why there is some sort of missile gap. Lately, the obsession is with hypersonic missiles and having various forms of delivery, as well as the claim that the current gap between the US arsenal and rival arsenal is not sufficiently large.

There’s a reason US advocates of an aggressive nuclear posture invented the “missile gap” myth during the Cold War. It sows doubt about US security and ensures a certain level of paranoia about US nuclear capability. Nowadays, it’s acknowledged that the missile gap was always a myth, but this was much less known in the days when debates over US rocket technology were a frequent cause for alarm and debate. Nonetheless, the nonfactual basis of the “gap” was known at least as early as the 1960s, and then defense secretary Robert McNamara noted to John F. Kennedy:

There was created a myth in the country that did great harm to the nation. It was created by, I would say, emotionally guided but nonetheless patriotic individuals in the Pentagon. There are still people of that kind in the Pentagon. I wouldn’t give them any foundation for creating another myth.

How Much Do Numbers Matter?

The myth persists, however, and Geller claims: “Given the hundreds of new Chinese missile launchers and other new weapons, the U.S. will need more nuclear weapons to hold these targets at risk. In nuclear deterrence, numbers matter.”

How much do numbers really matter? Yes, in matters of deterrence, ten is certainly better than zero. But is three thousand better than one thousand, or even one hundred? That logic often works with conventional arms, but it makes little sense with nuclear arms, a single unit of which can destroy an entire city. As John Isaacs noted last year in the National Interest:

In the nuclear age, a country that deployed 1,000 nuclear weapons rather than an adversary’s 500 is not twice as powerful since a handful of weapons could devastate both countries. But the Pentagon and political leaders did not learn this critical lesson. This is a numbers game that may have been relevant for tanks and battleships before [the invention of nuclear weapons] but is not today.

What is key in nuclear deterrence is not simply numbers. Nuclear strategist Albert Wohlstetter identified this problem in the early 1960s and concluded that “the criterion for matching the Russians plane for plane, or exceeding them is, in the strict sense, irrelevant to the problem of deterrence.” Rather the key, Wohlstetter went on, is creating a force that is “survivable” to ensure the possibility of a retaliatory “second strike.” This is what establishes deterrence.

Wohlstetter certainly wasn’t the only one to come to this conclusion. In a 1990 essay titled “Nuclear Myths and Political Realities,” Kenneth Waltz—perhaps the most influential scholar of international relations of the past fifty years—concludes that the total number of missiles in these enormous arsenals is of little importance for nations that are already well above the threshold for achieving nuclear deterrence.

What really matters is the perception that the other side has second-strike capability, and this certainly exists in both US-Russia and US-China relations. Once each regime knows that the other regime has second-strike capability, the competition is over. Deterrence is established. Waltz notes:

So long as two or more countries have second-strike forces, to compare them is pointless. If no state can launch a disarming attack with high confidence, force comparisons become irrelevant. . . . Within very wide ranges, a nuclear balance is insensitive to variation in numbers and size of warheads.

The focus on second-strike capability is key because pro-arms-race policy makers are quick to note that if a regime’s first strike is able to destroy an enemy’s ability to retaliate in kind, then a nuclear war can be “won.”

Second-Strike Capability Evens the Score

But, as shown by Michael Gerson in “No First Use: The Next Step for U.S. Nuclear Policy” (2010) establishing second-strike capability—or, more importantly, the perception of it—is not as difficult as many suppose. Gerson writes:

A successful first strike would require near-perfect intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) to detect, identify, and track all of the adversary’s nuclear forces; recent events surrounding U.S. assessments of Iraq’s suspected WMD [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities forcefully demonstrate the challenges of reliable, accurate, and unbiased information. Intelligence regarding where an adversary’s nuclear weapons are located and if the state is actually planning to attack could be wrong or incomplete, and an attempted first strike based on inaccurate or incomplete information could have far-reaching negative consequences.

The threat of a successful first strike can be countered through a variety of methods, including secrecy and the ability to shift weapons delivery channels. This is why the US, Russian, and Chinese regimes have long been so enthusiastic about the so-called nuclear triad. It is assumed that if nuclear weapons can be delivered by submarine, aircraft, and land, then it is impossible for an opposing regime to destroy all three at once and achieve first-strike victory.

But even in the absence of a triad, an opposing regime that seeks a total first-strike victory has few grounds for much confidence. As Waltz shows, “nuclear weapons are small and light; they are easy to move, easy to hide, and easy to deliver in a variety of ways.” That is, if a regime manages to hide even a small number of planes, subs, or trucks, this could spell disaster for the regime attempting a successful first strike. Gerson explains:

A nuclear first strike is fraught with risk and uncertainty. Could a U.S. president, the only person with the power to authorize nuclear use and a political official concerned with re-election, his or her political party, and their historical legacy, ever be entirely confident that the mission would be a complete success? What if the strike failed to destroy all of the weapons, or what if weapons were hidden in unknown areas, and the remaining weapons were used in retaliation?

Nor must it be assumed that a large number of warheads is necessary to achieve deterrence. Waltz recalls that Desmond Ball—who advised the US on escalation strategies—convincingly asserted that nuclear deterrence could be achieved with as few as fifty warheads.

Proceeding on the assumption that an enemy has no warheads left following a first strike requires an extremely high level of confidence because the cost of miscalculation is so high. If a regime strikes and misses only a few of the enemy’s missiles, this could lead to devastating retaliation both in terms of human life and in terms of the first-strike regime’s political prospects.

This is why a rudimentary nuclear force can achieve deterrence even with a small but plausible chance of second-strike capability. A small nuclear strike is nonetheless disastrous for the target, and thus “second-strike forces have to be seen in absolute terms.” Waltz correctly insists that calculating an arsenal’s relative dominance is a waste of time: “the question of dominance is pointless because one second-strike force cannot dominate another.”

The US Is Already Far beyond the Deterrence Threshold

One could certainly debate how much the US nuclear stockpile could be cut without sacrificing deterrence. Given the enormous size of the stockpile, however, the answer is that “most of it” could be cut. Indeed, the US arsenal could be cut by 90 percent and still have hundreds of warheads available for silos, submarines, and bombers.

Moreover, reductions in the arsenal are prudent for reasons of avoiding unintended nuclear war. As Wohlstetter noted, a prudent policy also requires “strategic nuclear forces to be not only capable of riding out and operating coherently after an actual preemptive attack against them; but also completely controllable in times of peace, crisis, and war—and especially in the face of ambiguous warning—so as to avoid unauthorized operations, accidents, and war by mistake.” Having large numbers of nuclear warheads actually is imprudent because it creates more potential for accidents, mistakes, and unauthorized use. Maintenance remains expensive and risky.

In spite of all this, it remains popular among some to keep arguing for more nuclear expansion year after year. Surely, some of these advocates are true believers, but there is also a lot of money at stake for government contractors. Thus, in one form or another, the myth of the missile gap – and its modern variants – endures.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 22:30

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Ford’s “Blue Oval City” Aims To Open In 2025, Produce 500,000 Next Gen Electric Trucks A Year

Ford’s “Blue Oval City” Aims To Open In 2025, Produce 500,000 Next Gen Electric Trucks A Year

Ford is getting close to unveiling its next generation electric pickup plan at its BlueOval city mega-campus in West Tennessee.

An update from the company this week said that the new plant – which is designed to be radically efficient and carbon neutral – is “taking shape and preparing to build Ford’s next-gen electric truck, code named Project T3, in 2025”. 

The Project T3 is being called by the company “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionize America’s truck” as Ford, along with other legacy auto manufacturers continue to shift their business models from an ICE base to an EV base. 

Slated to start production in 2025, the plant will be capable of producing 500,000 EV trucks a year at full production – and most notably the next generation of Ford’s electric truck. Here’s a sneak preview of what the second gen pickup will look like:

Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chair said: “BlueOval City is the blueprint for Ford’s electric future around the world. We will build revolutionary electric vehicles at an advanced manufacturing site that works in harmony with the planet, aligning business growth and innovation with environmental progress.”

“Project T3 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionize America’s truck. We are melding 100 years of Ford truck know-how with world-class electric vehicle, software and aerodynamics talent. It will be a platform for endless innovation and capability,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO.

Ford’s PR reads:

Project T3 is short for “Trust The Truck” – a code name that stuck after the development team made it their rallying cry. The team’s single guiding principle has been to create a truck people can trust in the digital age – one that’s fully updatable, constantly improving, and supports towing, hauling, exportable power and endless new innovations owners will want.

The assembly plant will use carbon-free electricity from the day it opens. For the first time in 120 years, Ford also is using recovered energy from the site’s utility infrastructure and geothermal system to provide carbon-free heat for the assembly plant – saving about 300 million cubic feet of natural gas typically needed each year to heat similarly sized vehicle assembly plants.

Here’s the video stream of Ford’s update on the campus:

Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 22:00

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Military Officials: Diversity Training Makes Soldiers Feel “Included”

Military Officials: Diversity Training Makes Soldiers Feel “Included”

Authored by Eric Lundrum via,

Top military officials in the Biden Administration recently attempted to defend far-left “diversity” training in the military, claiming that such sessions make all soldiers feel more “included.”

As the Washington Free Beacon reports, Air Force Chief of Staff General C.Q. Brown gave an interview for Defense One defending the practice of diversity training, claiming that “when people join our military, they want to look around and see somebody who looks like them.”

“They want to be part of a team, and feel like they’re included,” Brown added.

Brown praised the practice for its alleged efforts to build “cohesive” teams for all service members, “no matter their background.”

Similarly, General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, claimed that he has seen “zero evidence” of any negative impact from such left-wing policies when it comes to the end result of making stronger Marines.

House Republicans are currently attempting to cut funding for such far-left practices in the military; other examples include a program in the Army for training soldiers on how to use “gender pronouns,” and a similar training video for the Navy discussing pronouns and “safe spaces.”

Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) declared that the Biden Administration’s efforts to force politics into the military are “shaping the Department of Defense into an institution that is spearheading toxic social policies instead of restoring military strength.”

“On the House Armed Services Committee, we are laser-focused on the threats we face and the capabilities we need to defeat them,” said Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

The fight over the politicization of the military comes as most branches struggle with reaching the appropriate levels of recruitment numbers in recent years. Last year, the U.S. Army missed its minimum recruitment goal by 15,000.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 21:30

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

North Korea Touts ‘Radioactive Tsunami’ Weapon Test At Sea

North Korea Touts ‘Radioactive Tsunami’ Weapon Test At Sea

North Korea claimed Friday to have tested a nuclear-capable underwater drone designed to generate a gigantic “radioactive tsunami” that would destroy naval strike groups and entire ports. Analysts were skeptical that the device presents a major new threat, but the test underlines the North’s commitment to raising nuclear threats.

But according to The Associated Press, analysts in the West are deeply skeptical of the claims or that the weapon presents a major new threat, at a moment the Pentagon has expanded its activity on the Korean peninsula.

Via 7 News Boston

State-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) described that the drone is designed to “stealthily infiltrate into operational waters and make a super-scale radioactive tsunami through an underwater explosion” – and that it can either be deployed directly from the coast or towed by ships.

KCNA said that North Korea is responding to this month’s joint US-South Korea drills, which it considers a huge provocation. The state media report described an ongoing “nuclear crisis” due to Washington’s “intentional, persistent and provocative war drills.”

Kim Jong Un has also promised to make his rivals “plunge into despair” if North Korea continues to be threatened. This week the North Korean government launched a major new recruiting drive, hosting events across the country while conducting near daily test launches of projectiles – including a test last Sunday which included a ‘mock nuclear warhead’ as a warning to Seoul and Washington.

State media described that “youth college students from universities in various places as well as high-end middle school students from all over the country” expressed their determination “to join forces in the fight…”

The KCNA report additionally cited citizens’ willingness “mercilessly wipe out the war maniacs” – in what’s also clearly a propaganda blitz and bit of signaling aimed at the south and at the west. At the same time, Pyongyang is apparently seeking to impress its enemies and the world by rolling out new high-tech weapons.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 21:00

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Taibbi: People Can Win

Taibbi: People Can Win

Authored by Matt Taibbi via Racket News (emphasis ours),

Earlier today Susan Schmidt and I published an article about a series of changes at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a creepy sub-division of the Department of Homleand Security. It turns out that CISA, which just a week or so ago was busted for scrubbing embarrasing text from its website by the Foundation for Freedom Online, quietly eliminated its so-called “MDM” or “Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation” subcommittee.

Just a year ago, the Department of Homeland Security was going all-in on the fight against “MDM.” The notion that America is fatally infected with “Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation” was in fact the animating idea begind the asinine plan the Biden administration announced last April to institute a “Disinformation Governance Board,” which was to be headed by Nina Jankowicz, a self-styled Mary Poppins of digital rectitude:

America took one look at Jankowicz and at most a few fleeting moments considering the “Disinformation Governance Board” plan before concluding, correctly, that it was a beyond-loathsome expression of aristocratic arrogance that needed shutting down before the first Jankowicz presser. Characteristically, the press lied about the public reaction, claiming that the only displeasure was heard from the “GOP.” In fact, all sane people across the spectrum were instantly nauseated, their distress loud enough that the DHS hit “pause” on Jankowicz and the batty MinTruth plan after just three weeks.

Even that might not have been fast enough, as was discovered by my co-author Sue Schmidt, who’s formerly of the Washington Post but joined Racket this month for a special report a team of us are preparing on what fellow #TwitterFiles reporter Michael Shellenberger calls the “Censorship-Industrial Complex.” (More on that later). Looking through the minutes of CISA’s subcommittee meetings last year, Sue found that the DHS’s little team of self-appointed information guardians was deeply worried about the “rollout” of their war against MDM, worrying repeatedly about how to “socialize” or “pre-socialize” various parties to the idea of a federal truth squad, realizing that just presenting the actual plan to a sentient person without lots of sweeteners wouldn’t go well.

One subcommittee member, whose name in the spirit of our times is of course redacted, seemed to realize the concept was too hot to discuss in public. She “suggested removing mention of MDM” — this, from a member of the “MDM subcommittee”! — and “framing” the subcommitee’s efforts more in terms of “directing people to clear information about elections procedures.” Another member recommended CISA “point more to state officials and state laws to make the authoritative source of information less controversial. In other words: “Let’s make it sound like someone other than the hated us is running this thing!”

Even two years ago, nobody was paying attention to this world and the public, if it cared at all, was probably inclined to welcome more “election procedures” (as CISA would later call them), not fewer. So the DHS, sensibly one must conclude, dissolved its incorrectly named “Countering Foreign Influence Task Force” — the group spent most of 2020 zapping domestic election posts — renamed it the MDM subcommittee, and began meeting and posting about the need to build “national resistance” to “domestic threat actors.” As Sue just reported, these folks saw “MDM” everywhere here at home, insisting “CISA should consider MD across the information ecosystem,” which included talk radio, cable news, mainstream media, and “hyper-partisan media.”

The architects of this plan not only genuinely believed themselves above such temptations, but saw nothing wrong with asking for massive sums of money — Joe Biden’s first economic proposal sought $690 million for CISA — to captain an open-ended war on American badthink, as defined by [names redacted]. Here again, take note of Jankowicz’s lyrics:

It’s like when Rudy Giuliani shared bad intel from Ukraine

Or when TikTok influencers said COVID can’t cause pain

They’re laundering disinfo and we really should take note

And not support their lies, with our wallet, voice or vote!

This was a group of self-described experts in an utterly fictitious “anti-disinformation” discipline who were so sure it was okay for them to tell you whom not to vote for, one of them sang about it. This, despite the fact that of the ones whose names we know, like Jankowicz, many were open swallowers of the dumbest Russiagate hokum, like the Alfa-Server story.

I spent a long time covering the 2008 Wall Street crash, which meant devoting large amounts of energy to some of the world’s most unredeeming people. These were swindlers who sold snake-oil mortgage products that put millions out of their homes and wiped out retirement funds of people who spent decades working as toll operators, firefighters, teachers. Such predators were awful, amoral people, but all the same, I occasionally found myself writing with something like admiration. These crooks were creators of truly ingenious schemes who did what they did out of lust, greed, jealousy, and other (at least identifiably human) forms of depravity.

These [name redacted] would-be censors are different. They have no sense of humor, no imagination, and exactly one distinguishing characteristic: they know what’s best for you. Anti-disinfo work suits them because they all have a Poppins streak that quietly gets off on binning your digital dirty bits (after the voyeuristic thrill of logging on to watch them in secret, with special credentials, which they rub with pleasure in evenings). They’re the vilest kind of snobs, and when they finally were forced to show their real selves to the public — and here I feel safe in thanking Elon Musk for making that possible, via the #TwitterFiles — the public rightfully recoiled from these arrogant power-worshipping mediocrities.

The Governance Board was already dead, and now the whole MDM mission is being wound down, which feels like a win. Perhaps they’re just publicly retreating from the concept for now, but at this point, I’ll take that. Moreover there are signs everywhere that people are losing their fear of departing from the orthodoxy such types would like to impose, and pushing for a return to normalcy, which for the first time in ages feels within reach.

There was a ridiculous scene at Stanford law school recently, in which a conservative judge was muffled by a gaggle of future lawyers who’d been led by an assistant Dean in a characteristically moronic shouting-down exercise. The current strain of Junior Anti-Sex League-type protesters who fill campuses from coast to coast now sure do love their “heckler’s veto…”

The Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez was brilliant in response. Instead of doing what the heads of organizations have been doing for years in such situations, instead of doing, frankly, what I did during my own cancelation episode — frantically over-apologizing to people who have no use for or interest in apologies — Martinez sternly called the students out as clowns, reminding them in a long, serious, punishing letter that if they ever become officers of the court, they will be held to a higher standard than “lay people,” swearing to conduct themselves “at all times with dignity, courtesy and integrity.”

Martinez went further, saying that on her watch, the school would not be doing the usual and committing itself to starter slates of political positions out of fear of reproach. “Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is not going to take the form of having the school administration announce institutional positions on a wide range of current social and political issues,” she wrote. The age of just giving in to mobs instead of insisting on our right to have different opinions and beliefs seems to be receding. It is beginning to dawn on sane, tolerant people everywhere that there are more of us than there are of them, and this still matters in a democracy.

There’s a reason why these people are so focused on technocratic solutions, from magic AI schemes to control information to deploying packs of Boston Dynamics robot-dogs, who’ll patrol suburban neighborhoods and peer in windows for visual confirmation of Alexa-overheard transgressions. General Mark Milley just said on a podcast that armies may be fully robotic in 15 years, arousing general neoliberal giddiness (Milley quoted Dylan). These people need tech, because you know what they don’t have? Friends. Organic support. Or, ways to win them, like art, music, literature, or comedy.

I have a theory about what happened to America in this regard. After 9/11, people were scared, and they fell for a succession of propaganda campaigns convincing them that the hole in Fortress America, the chink in our national armor, was our system of democratic rights.

The “MDM subcommittee” members think the same way: there’s a section in one of last year’s meetings in which a former Secretary of Washington State notes that the bad countries, “such as Russia, use the First Amendment effectively.” Moreover, in general, “our adversaries… use our Constitution effectively.” They’ve been telling us this stuff ever since the Towers came down. We were told our enemies will use even our open system of justice against us, so forget the admirable streak of America never having had an in-camera criminal trial. Let’s clear the court even for deportation hearings of suspected terrorists, they said. Let’s not even tell the public the names of the deported!

The era that dawned on September 11th, and the war against terrorism that has pervaded the sinews of our national life since that day, are reflected in thousands of ways” the Third Circuit Court wrote in 2002, adding: “Since the primary national policy must be self-preservation,it seems elementary that, to the extent open deportation hearings might impair national security, that security is implicated.”

It was the same with torture, rendition, watch lists, drones, whatever. To respond to terrorism, we were told, we needed to be more “nimble” than old-school democracy allowed. We couldn’t wait for congress to declare wars, or build probable cause, or afford the right to face one’s accusers. The stakes were too high for such luxuries. Even giving “enemy combatants” Geneva convention rights would confer legitimacy to the opposition it didn’t deserve, and we couldn’t afford to give that legitimacy. Our grip on safety was that tenunous.

No: the new era of a West infected with a borderless evil returned from the 8th century needed a bureaucracy of super-empowered minders, who’d do torturing if it needed doing, and quietly make lists of who gets to fly or open a bank account. Most of all, these minders would make those terrible decisions about who gets to live and die in a drone-patrolled world. The Imitation Game from 2014, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and telling the awful tale of Alan Turing’s quest to crack the Enigma code, was a great movie, but perhaps also the ultimate portrait of the Obama-era political class, whose members all saw themselves as misunderstood geniuses quietly saving civilization through endless mathematical murder, committed from afar, by remote control, without fanfare or appreciation.

America balked some at George W. Bush as “The Decider,” but was more than happy to let the Community Organizer head up those secret decisions. With the genial and patient-sounding Obama in office, the deciders assumed a new brand of business-casual cruelty. I vividly remember going to a ballgame with a longtime Justice source in those years, someone I liked, who casually told me in between bites of a hot dog that of course we should just drone Julian Assange, because he was a “terrorist,” and the “reality is, you just have to kill them.”

Each year, more and more of government became classified, and we had less and less access to information about where tax dollars were being spent, or what was going on at places like the Federal Reserve. We let it happen, abandoning the democratic responsibility to govern ourselves, in the process willing the world’s smuggest aristocracy into existence. It wasn’t the worst time — a lot of good TV was made in those years — but while we were napping, these people were turning America into a secret administrative state committed to endless war, mass surveillance, social credit scoring, censorship, and other horrors, a system that’s only just now beginning to show itself.

The managerial state was held in place for over a decade by a kind of magic spell, which works thanks to the public’s faith in the competence of our minders. That spell held by default for an extra four years while Trump was in office, but it’s been broken now, in part thanks to refuseniks like Musk (who caused all kinds of havoc by opting out of an airtight information-control cartel), but mainly because we’ve now had enough opportunities to examine up close the loathsome nanny-staters to whom we surrendered all those years ago. Whatever hold these people had on us, and it was real — I spent years worrying about regaining the favor of people who were denouncing me as a Russian asset even as they demanded my vote — it’s gone now, and we can start thinking about moving on to something better.

This is what I choose to think, this weekend evening. We don’t have to concede to a future of always being at war somewhere abroad, and with each other at home. We don’t have to put up with a government that doesn’t tell us anything. Most of all, we can go back to enjoying life, on our own terms, without stressing over an endless succession of panics invented by politically insecure losers. We can do so much better, and we will, because this place is ours to run, a fact the singing censors should never have let us remember.

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Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 20:30

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

Denver Suburb Caps Number Of Gas Stations To ‘Promote Electric Vehicles’

Denver Suburb Caps Number Of Gas Stations To ‘Promote Electric Vehicles’

A suburb of Denver, Colorado has voted to ban the construction of new gas stations in order to address ‘environmental concerns with the continued use of gasoline powered vehicles and equipment.’

The Louisville City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday in support of a 2022 ordinance limiting the number of gas stations to six – with an exception carved out for one more (for a total of seven) if big box stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club build a store that’s 80,000 feet or larger and includes a gas station.

The limitation includes existing gas stations.

A 79-page report of the ordinance issued by the City Council on the day of the vote in part states such caps on gas stations “is a growing trend for local municipalities due to health and environmental concerns with the continued use of gasoline powered vehicles and equipment.”

The reports also states gas station “bans may also be seen as promoting the use of electric vehicles.”Just the News

The report acknowledges that gasoline is still required for non-electric vehicles.

“The proposal for a cap but not a full ban on new gasoline and automobile service stations is in recognition that there will continue to be some demand for gasoline and automobile service stations as more EVs enter the market and gasoline vehicles are transitioned out of the market over time,” it reads.

The proposal included letters from the community in support of the ordinance.

I strongly support and encourage you to not allow the further construction of fossil fuel refueling stations (gas) in our community. All of us, not just the citizens of our community, need to move quickly away from fossil fuel consumption,” reads one letter from resident Channah Horst.

“If you are a climate denier then my plea falls on deaf ears. If you acknowledge the peril our planet is in then it is your responsibility to do what you can to help us make changes in the way we live. In other words–do not make it easier for me and my fellow residents to keep using gasoline.

Eric Lund, Executive Director of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce opposed the move, writing “If you limit the number of gas stations then competition could become an issue as our local residents will likely have to pay higher prices if open market competition is blocked by an ordinance of this type,” adding “I am not sure that there is a benefit by limiting the number of gas stations which typically also include retail stores and would be interested to understand the thought behind how this ordinance helps to support local businesses and our residents in the area.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 20:00

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

US State Department Lifts ‘Assignment Restrictions’ Used To Discourage Foreign Recruiting

US State Department Lifts ‘Assignment Restrictions’ Used To Discourage Foreign Recruiting

The US State Department has lifted so-called ‘assignment restrictions’ which prevented employees – some of whom would hold top-secret clearances – from serving in countries they had immigrated from, or have family or financial relationship with, after Democratic lawmakers said it was discriminatory – particularly against Chinese and Pacific Islander employees.

The move follows a 2021 bill introduced by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Andy Kim (D-NJ) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), who have discarded national security concerns to end a practice that “disproportionately impacts federal employees who can’t trace their heritage to the Mayflower and directly undermines the department’s goal of promoting diversity and inclusion,” Politico reports.

State Department data reveals that around 1,800 employees are subject to assignment restrictions – with the top four countries being China (196), Russia (184), Taiwan (84) and Israel (70).

According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the change came after he lifted more than half of the restrictions during his first year in office, which opened “new possible assignments” for hundreds of US diplomats.

“Today, I’m pleased to share that after a rigorous review, I have decided that, moving forward, the Department will end its practice of issuing new assignment restrictions as a condition placed on a security clearance.”

Those currently subject to assignment restrictions will be allowed to go through a new review and appeal process. That said, some restrictions will remain in place, such as those related to a situation “in which a foreign country may consider an employee to be one of their own nationals,” or when there are “assignments to posts rated critical for human intelligence threats.”

Perhaps all those millions of dollars which flowed from CCP-linked individuals to the Biden family are once again paying off?

Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 19:00

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

As We Sell Off Our Strategic Oil Reserves, Ponder This

As We Sell Off Our Strategic Oil Reserves, Ponder This

Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog,

One of Biden’s answers to combating higher gas prices has been to tap into America’s oil reserves. While I was never a fan of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) program, it does have a place in our toolbox of weapons. We can use the reserve to keep the country running if outside oil supplies are cut off. Still, considering how out of touch with reality Washington has become, we can only imagine the insane types of services it would deem essential next time an oil shortage occurs.

Sadly, some of these reserves found their way into the export market and ended up in China. We now have proof that the President’s son Hunter had a Chinese Communist Party member as his assistant while dealing with the Chinese. Apparently, he played a role in the shipping of American natural gas to China in 2017. It seems the Biden family was promising business associates that they would be rewarded once Biden became president. Biden’s actions could be viewed as those of a traitor or at least disqualify him from being President.

The following information was contained in a letter from House Oversight Committee ranking member James Comer, R-Ky. to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen dated Sept. 20. 

“The President has not only misled the American public about his past foreign business transactions, but he also failed to disclose that he played a critical role in arranging a business deal to sell American natural resources to the Chinese while planning to run for President.”

Joe Biden, Comer said, was a business partner in the arrangement and had office space to work on the deal, and a firm he managed received millions from his Chinese partners ahead of the anticipated venture. While part of what Comer stated had previously been reported in the news, the letter, cited whistleblower testimonies, as well as emails, a corporate PowerPoint presentation, and a screenshot of encrypted messages. These as well as  bank documents that committee Republicans obtained suggest Biden’s knowledge and involvement in the plan dated back to at least 2017.

The big point here is;

  • The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was established in 1975 due to the 1973 oil embargo, is now at its lowest level since December 1983.

In December 1975, with memories of gas lines fresh on the minds of Americans following the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, Congress established the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It was designed “to reduce the impact of severe energy supply interruptions.” What are the implications of depleting the SPR and is it still important?

The U.S. government began to fill the reserve and it hit its high point in 2010 at around 726.6 million barrels. Since December 1984, this is the first time the level has been lower than 450 million barrels. Draining the SPR has been a powerful tool for the administration in its effort to tame the price of gasoline. It also signaled a “new era” of intervention on the part of the White House. 

This brings front-and-center questions concerning the motivation of those behind this action. One of the implications of Biden’s war on high oil prices is that it has short-circuited the fossil investment/supply development process.  Capital expenditures among the five largest oil and gas companies have fallen as the price of oil has come under fire. The current under-investment in this sector is one of the reasons oil prices are likely to take a big jump in a few years. Production from existing wells is expected to rapidly fall.

The Supply Of Oil Is Far More Constant And Inelastic Than Demand

It is important to remember when it comes to oil, the supply is far more constant and inelastic than the demand. This means that it takes time and investment to bring new wells online while demand can rapidly change. This happened during the pandemic when countries locked down and told their populations and told them to stay at home. This resulted in the price of oil temporarily going negative because there was nowhere to store it.

Draining oil from the strategic reserve is a short-sighted and dangerous choice that will impact America’s energy security at times of global uncertainty. In an effort to halt inflationary forces, Biden released a huge amount of crude oil from the SPR to artificially suppress fuel prices ahead of the midterm elections. 

To date, Biden has dumped more SPR on the market than all previous presidents combined reducing the reserves to levels not seen since the early 1980s. In spite of how I feel about the inefficiencies of this program, it does serve a vital role. It is difficult to underestimate the importance of a country’s ability to rapidly increase its domestic flow of oil. This defensive action protects its economy and adds to its resilience. 

Biden’s actions have put the whole country at risk. Critics of his policy pointed out the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was designed for use in an emergency not as a tool to manipulate elections. Another one of Biden’s goals may be to bring about higher oil prices to reduce its use and accelerate the use of high-cost green energy.

Either way, Biden’s war on oil has not made America’s energy policies more efficient or the country stronger.

Tyler Durden
Sat, 03/25/2023 – 18:30

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden