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  • #46

    Trump acting Defense Secretary Miller says he 'did not' authorize Milley China calls, says he should resign

    EXCLUSIVE: Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who led the Pentagon from the period after the 2020 election through Inauguration Day, said that he "did not and would not ever authorize" Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to have "secret" calls with his Chinese counterpart, describing the allegations as a "disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination," and calling on him to resign "immediately."
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

    Leibniz

    Comment


    • #47
      This was already covered in the American Politics thread:

      Report: Fmr. SECDEF Esper ordered secret message to China before Milley’s secret call

      According to the outlet, Sec. Esper was concerned China’s misinterpretation of “bad intelligence” could lead to violent international conflict.

      “I think they [the Chinese] were getting bad intelligence…a combination of ‘wag the dog’ conspiracy thinking and bad intel from bad sources,” one of the sources said.

      As a result, Esper ordered his policy office to send a secret message to Chinese officials to reassure the communist nation that the United States did not intend to seek a military confrontation.

      “Don’t over-read what you’re seeing in Washington; we have no intention to attack; and let’s keep lines of communication open,” the message reportedly stated.

      The backchannel communication was executed several levels below Esper, one of the sources told Axios. After the initial communication, Milley followed up with a direct call to one of China’s top generals to reiterate Esper’s message, two of the sources confirmed.
      Side note: Esperanto, unlike Miller, was actually confirmed by Congress.
      Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

      Comment


      • #48
        2018

        As the political world anticipates an internal Justice Department review of misconduct by James Comey’s FBI related to the Trump campaign probe, hundreds of American parents await another report: Why Comey’s FBI delayed an investigation into one of the country’s most notorious child sex abusers, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. The Michigan State University osteopathic physician now is serving a 100-year minimum prison sentence for numerous crimes, including sexual assault of minors, sexual assault, and possession of child pornography.
        In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

        Leibniz

        Comment


        • #50
          Originally posted by TopHatter View Post

          This was already covered in the American Politics thread:



          Side note: Esperanto, unlike Miller, was actually confirmed by Congress.
          Both were legally SecDef and the second call was not authorized. The talks about nuclear release were patently illegal per the JCS own website that lists the relevant law. Not that you care, you're a statist at heart.

          Comment


          • #51
            Originally posted by zraver View Post
            Not that you care, you're a statist at heart.
            Fascinating delusions as always.

            I already said something similiar in the American Politics thread and I'll say it here too: If I was a statist, I'd be a Trump supporter like you.
            Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

            Comment


            • #52
              Anyhoo, back to topic

              apropo Durham's indictment

              The 26-page indictment of former cybersecurity attorney and Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann by special counsel John Durham is as detailed as it is damning on the alleged effort to push a false Russia collusion claim before the 2016 presidential campaign. One line, however, seems to reverberate for those of us who have followed this scandal for years now: “You do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag.”

              That warning from an unnamed “university researcher” captures the most fascinating aspect of the indictment in describing a type of Nixonian dirty tricks operation run by — or at least billed to — the Clinton campaign. With Nixon, his personal attorney and the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) paid for operatives to engage in disruptive and ultimately criminal conduct targeting his opponents. With Clinton, the indictment and prior disclosures suggest that Clinton campaign lawyers at the law firm of Perkins Coie helped organize an effort to spread Russia collusion stories and trigger an investigation.

              Durham accuses Sussmann of lying to the general counsel of the FBI in September 2016 when Sussmann delivered documents and data to the FBI supposedly supporting a claim that Russia’s Alpha Bank was used as a direct conduit between former President Trump's campaign and the Kremlin. According to Durham, Sussman told the FBI general counsel that he was not delivering the information on behalf of any client. The indictment not only details multiple billings to the Clinton campaign as the data was collected and the documents created; it claims Sussman billed the campaign for the actual meeting with the FBI. At the time, Perkins Coie attorney Marc Elias was general counsel for the Clinton campaign. Both men have since left the firm.

              The big trick in 2016 was the general effort to create a Russia collusion scandal with the help of Justice Department insiders and an eager, enabling media.

              It was only last October, for instance, that we learned that then-President Obama was briefed by his CIA director, John Brennan, on an intelligence report that Clinton planned to tie then-candidate Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” That was on July 28, 2016 — three days before the Russia investigation was initiated. NOTE: See next post

              The problem was that both the Steele dossier and the Alpha Bank allegations fell apart soon after being fed to the FBI. A key source for dossier compiler and former British spy Christopher Steele was viewed by American intelligence as a Russian agent, and it was believed that the Clinton campaign and the dossier were being used by Russian intelligence to spread disinformation.*

              According to Durham, the Alpha Bank allegation fell apart even before Sussmann delivered it to the FBI. The indictment details how an unnamed “tech executive” allegedly used his authority at multiple internet companies to help develop the ridiculous claim. (The executive reportedly later claimed that he was promised a top cyber security job in the Clinton administration). Notably, there were many who expressed misgivings not only within the companies working on the secret project but also among unnamed “university researchers” who repeatedly said the argument was bogus.

              The researchers were told they should not be looking for proof but just enough to “give the base of a very useful narrative.” The researchers argued, according to the indictment, that anyone familiar with analyzing internet traffic “would poke several holes” in that narrative, noting that what they saw likely “was not a secret communications channel with Russian Bank-1, but ‘a red herring,’” according to the indictment. “Researcher-1” repeated these doubts, the indictment says, and asked, “How do we plan to defend against the criticism that this is not spoofed traffic we are observing? There is no answer to that. Let’s assume again that they are not smart enough to refute our ‘best case scenario.’ You do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag to even make a very weak association.”

              “Researcher-1” allegedly further warned, “We cannot technically make any claims that would fly public scrutiny. The only thing that drives us at this point is that we just do not like [Trump]. This will not fly in eyes of public scrutiny. Folks, I am afraid we have tunnel vision. Time to regroup?”

              Clinton herself discussed the allegations as if they were the product of independent sleuths. Right before the 2016 election, she tweeted, “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.”

              The indictment details an operation that parallels the notorious Steele dossier, which also featured a pattern of working with FBI insiders while denying connections to the campaign.

              The Clinton team denied involvement in the creation of the Steele dossier throughout the 2016 campaign despite direct media inquiries. It was only after the election that mysterious expenses for its legal counsel led reporters to discover the truth. The payments for the dossier were masked as “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the law firm. According to New York Times reporter Ken Vogel, Elias categorically denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier; when Vogel tried to report the story, he said Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman later wrote that “folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.”

              According to the indictment, Sussman told the truth — and contradicted what he’d originally told the FBI general counsel — when interviewed under oath in December 2017 before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, telling them he did not hold the meeting of his own volition but at the request of a client.

              Notably, another Clinton figure pushing the Alpha Bank conspiracy was Jake Sullivan, who now weighs intelligence reports for President Biden as his national security adviser. Sullivan, a senior policy adviser to Clinton, declared in an official campaign press statement that the Alpha Bank allegation “could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow” and portrayed it as the work of independent experts: “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia. ... This line of communication may help explain Trump’s bizarre adoration of Vladimir Putin.”

              So the “very useful narrative” was delivered to the media and the FBI and, along with the dossier, was used to launch the Russia investigation, which led to the appointment of former special counsel Robert Mueller. The “bag of tricks” was supposed to be buried with the involvement of the Clinton campaign — until Trump Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham as a second special counsel.

              Durham’s indictment of Sussman seems to have revealed quite a bit about how scandals are manufactured and manipulated in Washington.From CREEP to Clinton, lawyers discovered themselves in legal jeopardy when special prosecutors found them holding a "bag of tricks." A dirty trick in politics can be a thing of beauty for a campaign — until it boomerangs on the tricksters.
              Last edited by Parihaka; 20 Sep 21,, 23:12.
              In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

              Leibniz

              Comment


              • #53
                Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Tuesday declassified notes of former CIA Director John Brennan showing that he briefed former President Obama on Hillary Clinton’s alleged “plan” to tie then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” My interest in this story is not simply the serious underlying allegation but the lack of coverage by major networks or media outlets. This was clearly released at this time for political purposes, but that does not make it a non-story. We have often discussed concerns over the active effort by many in the media to downplay stories that would either help President Donald Trump or hurt the Democrats in the upcoming elections. This would seem such a case. Whether this is true or a complete fabrication, it should be major news. In the meantime, the responses from Clinton allies have not addressed the substance of the document and have simply dismissed the entire story as groundless.



                Brennan’s handwritten notes would seem extremely serious on their face. It certainly indicates that Brennan considered the issue sufficiently serious to brief the President of the United States on July 28th. The notes state
                “We’re getting additional insight into Russian activities from [REDACTED]. . . CITE [summarizing] alleged approved by Hillary Clinton a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”

                There is also a notation reading “Any evidence of collaboration between Trump campaign + Russia” and margin references to “JC,” “Denis,” and “Susan.” If Brennan thought this was serious enough to brief the President, shouldn’t the media consider this sufficiently serious to investigate and report?

                While it would be dangerous to release documents without redactions, there is an obvious value to understanding the truth about these briefings and the underlying allegations.

                This release further supports a newly-declassified document with the Senate Judiciary Committee revealing that, in September 2016, U.S. intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral on Hillary Clinton purportedly approving “a plan concerning U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections” in order to distract the public from her email scandal.

                When asked about this referral involving a candidate for the presidency, then-FBI Director James Comey insisted that it “didn’t ring a bell.”

                Once again, my initial interest is in the utter blackout on the story. This would seem a major story regardless of the ultimate findings. If these notes have been fabricated or misrepresented, it would show a breathtaking effort to lie to the voters before the election. If these notes are genuine, it would indicate that the FBI was aware of an effort by the Democratic presidential candidate to tag Trump with a Russian collusion scandal. We know that Clinton’s campaign funded the Steele dossier and that Steele shopped the dossier with the media to try to generate coverage to influence the election.

                Throughout the campaign, and for many weeks after, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the dossier that was later used to secure a secret surveillance warrant against Trump associates during the Obama administration. Journalists later discovered that the Clinton campaign hid the payments to Fusion as a “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the law firm. New York Times reporter Ken Vogel at the time said that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias had “vigorously” denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. When Vogel tried to report the story, he said, Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman likewise wrote: “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.” Even when Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was questioned by Congress on the matter, he denied any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who reportedly said nothing to correct the false information given to Congress.

                Later, confronted with the evidence, Clinton and her campaign finally admitted that the dossier was a campaign-funded document that was pushed by Steele and others to the media.

                Making things worse is the fact that we know know American intelligence flagged Steele’s main source as a Russian agent and warned that the dossier was suspected of containing Russian disinformation from Russian intelligence agencies.

                Yet, even with this latest disclosure in Brennan’s own writing, we hear the familiar sound of crickets. It seems that journalism is suspended until after the election when reporters might be allowed a modicum of curiosity on such stories.
                So Brennan and the Clinton campaign continued to push the fake narrative, despite Brennan briefing Obama that it was fake, and both continued to use material when it was "believed that the Clinton campaign and the dossier were being used by Russian intelligence to spread disinformation." * from previous post
                In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

                Leibniz

                Comment


                • #54

                  From impeaching incitement to canceling conservatism


                  It wasn’t just President Trump’s detractors who felt a sudden sense of relief when they heard that Twitter was blocking his feed after the storming of the Capitol and the disruption of the reading of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6. While Trump’s exact words to the crowd on the Ellipse didn’t constitute a criminal incitement, they were uttered with a reckless disregard for the possibility they’d provoke violence that any reasonable person could find impeachable.

                  But a moment’s reflection should have left any believer in free speech feeling queasy about a private firm censoring the president of the United States and preventing him from effectively communicating with citizens over a chosen medium of universal reach. And especially queasy, since a large body of opinion sees this suppression of free speech by Big Tech monopolies not as a one-time exception but as the new rule.

                  Oliver Darcy of CNN wants its cable rivals to be held “responsible for the lies they peddle.” Law professors are surprisingly open to speech suppression, as Thomas Edsall reported in his New York Times blog. Yale’s Robert Post lamented that “the formation of public opinion is out of control”; California, Irvine’s Rick Hasen lamented “a market failure when it comes to reliable information voters need”; Columbia’s Tim Wu suggested “the weaponization of speech” makes the First Amendment jurisprudence “increasingly obsolete.”

                  Democratic worthies have been singing the same tune. Michelle Obama took the lead in urging the permanent ban on Trump, which Twitter promptly promulgated. Presidential candidate Andrew Yang called for cable news channels to be required to air competing views. Biden press aide Bill Russo wants Facebook to censor “misleading” information.

                  The law professors leave it ambiguous who would “control” information and decide what is “reliable information.” But Democrats obviously expect the decisions to be made by folks on their side of the political divide.

                  The speech restrictions and speech suppression by Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Google, including the expulsion from the cloud of Twitter competitor Parler, are all intended to benefit the Left and penalize the Right. These firms come as close as nongovernment actors could to canceling if not criminalizing at least certain strands of conservatism.

                  Many, if not most, believe that it is legal and praiseworthy to suppress “hate speech” in the U.S. But hate speech, unless it directly and explicitly incites violence, is protected by the First Amendment under long-standing Supreme Court precedent. Europeans, as Harvard law professor Noah Feldman points out, are comfortable banning “hate speech,” and it’s understandable that post-World War II Germany banned Nazi writing and images.

                  So, it’s interesting that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no pal of Trump’s, called Twitter’s permanent ban of Trump “problematic” and that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico, where the dominant TV network Televisa slavishly toed the government line for years, criticized Facebook’s blocking of the outgoing U.S. president, and that the Portuguese analyst Bruno Macaes thinks it’s “time to start a debate in Europe whether we want to stay tightly connected to a US internet where repression of speech will keep growing.”

                  “Yesterday,” wrote the American Conservative’s Rod Dreher late last week, “I predicted that the Left and the liberal Establishment would use the Beer Belly Putsch as an opportunity to begin to implement the rudiments of a social credit system, and to otherwise marginalize and suppress right-of-center discourse and people. Well, here we go.” The reference is to China’s system of surveillance and supervision, which uses consumer data, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and GPS tracking to identify regime critics and deny them access to everything from airline seats to bank credit. You don’t have to surf very long on your device to find self-described liberals calling for some such restrictions on Trump supporters or for major corporation CEOs delighted to go along.

                  Are such fears exaggerated? Big Tech assures us it stands for free expression. “Access to information and freedom of expression, including the public conversation on Twitter, is never more important than during democratic processes, particularly elections,” Twitter tweeted this week. But that was about providing information about an election in Uganda. In the U.S., not so much. Twitter joined other Big Tech firms in effectively suppressing the New York Post’s stories about Hunter Biden’s dodgy business dealings.

                  Big Tech suppression of speech, at one party’s urging but not government order, technically doesn’t violate the First Amendment. But, as CNN commentator Mary Katharine Ham tweeted, “It feels creepy and authoritarian.” It threatens to be the most effective speech suppression here since Democratic postmasters in the antebellum South deep-sixed anti-slavery material. That speech suppression didn’t ultimately prevail. How long the speech suppression by Big Tech and its liberal friends will prevail is unclear.
                  In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

                  Leibniz

                  Comment


                  • #55
                    Originally posted by Parihaka View Post

                    You might also recall me talking about the subversion of MSM, or legacy media, or whatever else you might wish to call it.
                    I recalled this one from the Tablet. It talks of vacine hesitancy but equally applicable for any of the other state approved narratives. and just as true for the Anglosphere as it is for the US.


                    Why Don’t They Believe Us?

                    You’re struggling to understand where all this vaccine hesitancy comes from. Let me help you.


                    Imagine you’re a normal person. The year is 2016. Rightly or wrongly, you believe most of what you see in the media. You believe polls are broadly reflective of public opinion. You believe doctors and scientists are trustworthy and independent. You’re a decent, reasonable person who follows the rules and trusts the authorities.

                    Imagine your shock, then, when Brexit, which you were assured couldn’t happen because it was a fringe movement led by racists for racists, happens. The polls, which widely predicted it wouldn’t happen, were wrong. The experts and pundits who told you day after day that it wouldn’t happen were also wrong. “Oh well,” you say, “these things happen.”

                    Imagine that soon after Brexit, Donald Trump is running for president. You are told by the most trustworthy media outlets that he is going to lose. Some experts say his opponent has a 99% chance of winning. Imagine waking up the morning after the election to discover that the pollsters, experts, and politicians you still trusted were wrong again. Now the racist monster who you were told would never get near the White House is the leader of the free world.

                    “How did this happen?” you ask yourself. How could everyone I rely on for good information be so wrong? “It was the Russians,” they tell you. “The Russians did Brexit, and they got Trump elected too.” Imagine that for the next three years, day after day, the media and politicians you still trust keep you up to date on this story of Trump’s collusion with Russia. They tell you the how, when, where, and why: the dossiers, the whistleblowers, the peeing prostitutes. Imagine your desperation for things to somehow make sense again.

                    Here comes the Mueller report. Hard evidence of foreign meddling in Brexit and the 2016 U.S. election is coming to set the world right again.

                    Imagine your shock, then, when you discover that Brexit had little to do with foreign meddling, and Robert Mueller has very little to report about Trump and the Russians. The collusion story, which dominated your news intake for the better part of three years, slowly dies down. Then it’s gone.
                    No one talks about it anymore. Imagine that bit by bit, you’re starting to feel that the events you were told would not and could not happen not only happened, but happened without some sort of malign interference. Instead, millions of your fellow citizens simply voted for them. In the American case, it turns out many of your fellow citizens who simply voted for Trump come from states that have been devastated by an opioid epidemic enabled by a corrupt system of incentives involving the Food and Drug Administration, doctors, and Big Pharma. (You might want to take note of this. It will come up again later.)

                    Again, you ask, “How could this happen?” And again, the media outlets and political representatives you’ve always trusted have the answer: racism.“Your country is racist,” they tell you. If you’re white, this may seem strange to you. Other than a handful of idiots, you’ve never met a racist. If you’re an ethnic minority immigrant like me, this seems even stranger. Why would people in one of the most welcoming, tolerant countries in the world want to convince themselves their country is racist when it’s so obviously not?

                    But the evidence is right there on your TV screen. Imagine your horror as a famous and beloved gay African American actor is assaulted by MAGA hat-wearing thugs who racially abuse him and put a noose around his neck. In a prime-time interview, he cries while talking about it.

                    Imagine your outrage as you see news reports of a bunch of MAGA hat-wearing kids from a religious school contemptuously confront a Native American elder. Professional, adult commentators on TV tell you the kid has a “punchable face,” and while you abhor violence, it’s hard to disagree. Imagine that for days you watch coverage of these events, with expert after expert, pundit after pundit, sharing and fueling your outrage. Maybe your country really is racist. Maybe you’re racist. Were you always just blind?

                    Imagine that soon after, however, the Jussie Smollett story turns out to be an attention-seeking hoax: He made it all up. Imagine you also quickly discover that the Native American elder was the one who confronted the kids, and not the other way around. “If this is such a racist country,” you ask yourself, “why would they need to make up stories of racism?” As you ponder this, you remember that for years now, you’ve been expected to go along with other, more elaborate make-believe stories.

                    You’re expected to understand that gender is not as binary as school, your eyes, and your own experience have led you to believe. Whatever you learned about biology growing up is not only wrong, it’s pathological and harmful, according to the American Psychological Association. You no longer know how many genders you’re expected to be able to recognize. You do know that asking questions is dangerous.

                    Imagine that you still want to believe the experts and the commentators, but now that requires you to believe your country is racist, that men are bad, and that gender is a social construct, which is an idea you still don’t really understand.

                    It’s at this point that a pandemic breaks out in China.

                    You are initially unconcerned, but as terrifying scenes increasingly emerge from Italy and other countries closer to home, it is clear that something big is happening. You watch nervously as politicians give press conference after press conference, flanked by experts, to explain the situation.

                    President Trump shuts down travel to the United States from China. He has been widely condemned as a racist repeatedly in the past, and the same explanation is given this time. It’s not just Americans who tell you Trump is racist for calling a virus that emerged in China a “Chinese virus.” In response, the mayor of Florence advises Italian citizens to fight Trump’s anti-Chinese bigotry by “hugging a Chinese person.” Shortly after, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the most respected and powerful Democrats in the country, visits Chinatown in San Francisco to explain that “there’s no reason tourists or locals should be staying away from the area because of coronavirus concerns.”

                    “Thank God there are some sensible, nonracist people who aren’t overreacting,” you say to yourself. Imagine watching as Trump doubles down on his racism by claiming the virus may have come from a lab in Wuhan. “Nonsense,” you think. You’re more concerned with how best to protect yourself and your family from this deadly disease than with its origins at this point anyway. You consider buying surgical masks, or using homemade ones—you’ve seen visitors and tourists from Asian countries wear them, and they’ve been through things like this before, so maybe it’s best to follow their lead.

                    But the country’s chief medical experts tell you not to wear masks, and to focus on washing your hands instead. As lockdowns are introduced around the world, you diligently follow all the rules. You stay at home. You only go out once, and live off savings or government grants. You do your best to keep your hands clean, to not touch other surfaces that other people touch. Some political representatives make the solemn decision to shut down beaches, parks, and playgrounds, encouraging everyone to stay indoors.

                    You are proud to be doing your part. Thanks to you and millions of your fellow citizens, the first wave of the pandemic overwhelms certain hot spots, but it does not devastate the health care system at a national level. While thousands sadly die, you’ve helped to protect those around you.

                    Imagine your confusion as the same people who spent three months telling you not only that masks don’t work, but that there are several reasons you shouldn’t wear or purchase them, suddenly introduce mask mandates. We’re “following the science,” they tell you. This seems to make little sense, but a pandemic is no time for questions. And who knows, maybe our understanding of the science evolved?

                    As you cautiously go to the supermarket, you notice that masks have made people less likely to socially distance. You remember reading somewhere that bicycle helmets work similarly: They give the wearer more confidence, and the result is often more accidents and injuries, not fewer. “Silly people,” you say to yourself. “If only they would follow the experts.”

                    You turn on your TV and learn that shoppers at your local supermarket aren’t the only ones who have been ignoring the rules. Nancy Pelosi arranged for a salon, shutdown by government decree, to open privately for her—then publicly blamed the business owner for violating the lockdown. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is seen eating dinner at one of the most expensive restaurants in America with a large group of unmasked people indoors. In the U.K., Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist whose projections were used as the basis for lockdowns, appears to have broken his own rules to get some action with his married lover. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, drove halfway across the country to ensure he had a better place to isolate. The journalists who berate him for this are later found to have attended an unmasked, indoor birthday party in breach of the rules. The lockdowns continue.

                    Then a man is killed in Minneapolis by a police officer arresting him for a petty crime. The man is African American. The officer is white. The arrest and murder are captured on video, which quickly goes viral around the world. Imagine your horror as you watch an officer of the law kneel on another man’s neck until he passes out and later dies. “This is disgusting,” you say to yourself. “I hope they throw the book at him.” Overnight, a huge campaign for racial justice springs up around the world.

                    No one explains what racism had to do with the incident, but they don’t need to. As you know by now, the West is racist, America is racist, and police are racist. Therefore any time a crime has a white perpetrator and an African American victim, there is only one possible motive. The fact that an identical incident led to the death of a white man named Tony Timpa in Dallas in August 2016 is never mentioned for context.

                    While the lockdown rules remain in place, the protests against injustice spill out into public spaces. Tens of thousands of people crowd into the streets of major cities. Few of them wear masks, and social distancing is nonexistent. Clashes with police ensue, and in the United States, protesters loot stores, destroy businesses, attack residents, and start fires. A retired African American police officer from St. Louis named David Dorn is among dozens of people who are murdered in the chaos.

                    Attempts to discuss the negative impacts of lockdowns on health and mental well-being, especially that of children barred from going to school, are suppressed.

                    The media describes these events as “mostly peaceful protests,” as broadcast reporters stand in front of burning buildings. After months of harsh restrictions, the media and political class offer no criticism of protests that violate every element of lockdown policy. After months of telling you to stay at home to avoid spreading COVID, doctors explain that rather than being a potential form of super spreading, “protest is a profound public health intervention.”

                    Big tech companies go into overdrive to stop the spread of what they call disinformation. Alternative points of view regarding the efficacy of masks and lockdowns, as well as the origins of the virus itself, are increasingly blocked, flagged, and censored. Attempts to discuss the negative impacts of lockdowns on health and mental well-being, especially that of children barred from going to school, are suppressed. As the year runs on, with a pivotal U.S. election looming, Trump promises a huge push to develop a vaccine. Then-Sen. Kamala Harris, running for vice president, says that if Trump advised people to take a vaccine, she wouldn’t take it.

                    On the eve of the election, a major media outlet releases a damaging report about Hunter Biden, son of presidential candidate Joe Biden. The story alleges corruption that may implicate his father, as well as drug use, paying for prostitutes, and more. Twitter and other social media platforms immediately prevent the story from being shared. The media lines up commentators to claim the story was, yet again, “Russian disinformation.” Once Hunter’s father wins the election, it becomes clear that several key elements of the story are likely accurate, and the laptop from which the information was recovered is not in fact a Russian decoy, but Hunter Biden’s laptop.

                    Meanwhile, in the U.K., the publicly available number of COVID patients and deaths nationwide turns out to have been inaccurate. For some time, any British citizen who died at any point for any reason after having tested positive for COVID was counted as dying from COVID, even if it was from a car crash. The official figure is later revised again. The number of people who are in hospital because of COVID also turns out to be incorrect.

                    Now that a bigot is no longer president of the United States, closing national borders to visitors from other countries is no longer considered xenophobic. In fact, it is widely advocated in the media. Likewise, it is no longer considered racist to detain people at the border, to put them in holding cells, to deport them, or to simply turn them away.

                    The supposedly racist conspiracy theory that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan is now also open for discussion. It even looks like the most credible explanation of the origins of the virus. Imagine your horror as you learn that the reason thousands of people died in the first wave of the pandemic was that elderly patients with COVID were allowed, and sometimes compelled, to be released back into nursing homes. In fact, it was a personal decision by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, brother of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. Gov. Cuomo’s publisher later suspends promotion of a book he wrote in the meantime. It’s about his leadership during the pandemic.

                    Meanwhile, Texas and Florida, which largely remained open and avoided draconian lockdowns, seem to have made out OK. Kids have been going to school, businesses have stayed open. You look at COVID death rates by state, and neither Florida nor Texas cracks the top half.

                    It is at this point that vaccines become the main focus of government policy and media commentary.

                    The same people who told you Brexit would never happen, that Trump would never win, that when he did win it was because of Russian collusion but also because of racism, that you must follow lockdowns while they don’t, that masks don’t work, that masks do work, that social justice protests during pandemic lockdowns are a form of “health intervention,” that ransacking African American communities in the name of fighting racism is a “mostly peaceful” form of protest, that poor and underserved children locked out of shuttered schools are “still learning,” that Jussie Smollett was a victim of a hate crime, that men are toxic, that there is an infinite number of genders, that COVID couldn’t have come from a lab until maybe it did, that closing borders is racist until maybe it isn’t, that you shouldn’t take Trump’s vaccine, that you must take the vaccine developed during the Trump administration, that Andrew Cuomo is a great leader, that Andrew Cuomo is a granny killer, that the number of COVID deaths is one thing and then another … are the same people telling you now that the vaccine is safe, that you must take it, and that if you don’t, you will be a second-class citizen.

                    Understand vaccine hesitancy now?
                    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

                    Leibniz

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