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A Pretty Good YouTube Spoof about Hillary Clinton: Sep 28, 2016

September 28, 2016 2 comments

Here is a pretty good, and actually quite deep, spoof about Hillary Clinton. And yes.. I know that it is by Jenna Marbles- but look at the quality of content not the creator.

The spoof skewers HRCs pathetic and sad attempts to get millennials to vote for her. It also lampoons her health issues, general elitism, canned lawyerly responses to questions and general inability to talk convincingly about issues most people actually care about. Best of all, it goes after her sense of entitlement for becoming president.

What do you think? Comments?

Categories: Current Affairs, LOL, YouTube

Why Hillary Clinton is Losing in Polls to Donald Trump: 2

September 25, 2016 3 comments

In the previous post of this series, I put forth the idea that HRC’s continued downward slide in polls against Trump is largely due to unanimous support of her candidacy by elites and their upper-middle class enablers. I also mentioned that widespread loss of public faith in elites and their flunkies is not unique to USA and infact is one of the major trends that has arisen throughout the west in the previous decade. You might remember that I first predicted the rise of Donald Trump in a post on Aug 31, 2015– when the vast majority of journalists, talking heads and other elite flunkies thought it was a joke or a ploy to get a new reality show. I also subsequently wrote more than a few posts about the factors that have made Donald Trump’s remarkable success possible.

And all of this brings us the inevitable question- Why is HRC such a remarkably unpopular politician? While more than a few of you will list a litany of reasons behind her lack of popularity, a close look at her public record and persona make her lack of popularity kinda odd. There is nothing about her public record or persona that makes her especially despicable compared to your average successful establishment politician in USA or anywhere else in the west. She is certainly not any more slimy or corrupt than other big name politicians such as Harry Reid, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Bush43, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio.. well you get the picture. She also compares very favorably to hucksters like Ted Cruz and pretty much any other republican governor.

538-sep-24-2016-01

By all counts, her nomination as the democratic candidate and subsequent win in the presidential election should have been ridiculously easy. But as many of you remember, it has anything but easy for her to win the democratic primary against Bernie Sanders, a 74-year old independent senator from Vermont. Infact the DNC had to rig the entire primary process for her to “win” the democratic nomination. It is also noteworthy that Bernie Sanders was able to raise almost 250 million dollars in small donations from democrats and independents in order to campaign against HRC. So why were democrats and democrat-leaning independents willing to put so much money and energy to stop the coronation of a candidate who was not that much worse than other establishment democrat politicians and, at least on paper, much better than establishment republican politicians.

The establishment narrative and explanation for the remarkable fragility of her presidential campaign is based on the idea that people hate her because she is a woman. But is that really the case? Is her gender anything more than peripherally involved in her remarkable unpopularity among the democratic base and democratic-leaning voters? I should also point out that she was not always seen as an especially corrupt and dishonest politician. As late as 2008, she was seen as a very viable if moderately flawed candidate for the presidency. She also had far lower negative ratings during the 2008 democratic campaign than she has now. So what happened in the intervening 8 years? How did a reasonably well-regarded and fairly popular politician become somebody with extremely high negative ratings?

So, what changed?

Let us start by talking about what has NOT changed since 2008. HRC, you see, has not changed since 2008.. 2000.. 1996.. 1992.. who knows. She is acting like an establishment politician was supposed to in the early-1990s to early-2000s timespan. Her executive style and worldview are also deeply rooted in the late-1980s-early-2000s era when it was cool and very profitable to be an establishment neoliberal. Infact for most of the 1990s, many in the west seriously believed that neoliberalism was the only way. Moreover, the relative peace and high growth rates enjoyed by people in the 1990s (especially in the USA) were able to paper over the many systemic flaws and defects of that ideology. The first large-scale problems with the neoliberal status quo (9/11, Invasion of Iraq etc) only started becoming obvious in the early 2000s, but a credit and real-estate bubble was able to keep the lid on things till 2008.

But that by itself was not sufficient to make HRC, and others like her, so unpopular. I believe it was the response of the establishment (specifically the government) in USA to the 2008 financial crisis that put the proverbial ‘nail in the coffin’ for popularity of neoliberal politicians. As many of you know, Obama (and the democrats) promised a lot of reform in legally deniable language during the 2008 presidential campaign. We all know how that worked out for the 90-99%. The government in USA (and other western countries) used the 2008 financial crisis to bail out their financial backers and transfer the costs of doing so on everybody else. The post-2008 era has also seen corporations using “laws” and “rules” to speed up the financialization-driven exploitation of people in areas that were traditionally regulated or moderated to prevent that outcome. Furthermore, they also sped up the rate of replacing well-paying with low-paying precarious jobs often with no benefits- all thanks to various secret “free trade” treaties.

Consequently most people in USA (and other western countries) have increasingly come to view establishment politicians as irredeemable and incompetent liars who are incapable of improving the lives of the vast majority of those who voted them into office. While the public image of politicians throughout history has always been a bit sketchy, their voters did expect them to.. for the lack of a better expression.. not piss on them. Which brings us to the most important reason behind Hillary Clinton’s abyssal favorability ratings. Most voters, you see, expect her to renege on every single promise she made about making their lives better. They expect her to work only for her extremely rich donors (domestic and foreign) and further enrich them while pauperizing everybody else. It does not help that her lawyerly parsing of words, or as I call it “anodyne” communication, is now seen as one of the main indicators of systemic and irredeemable dishonesty.

What do you think? Comments?

Why Hillary Clinton is Losing in Polls to Donald Trump: 1

September 24, 2016 7 comments

One of the more interesting aspects of the 2016 presidential election is that Donald Trump is now either very close to Hillary Clinton, or beating her in battleground “swing”states, in multiple recent polls. Hillary’s widespread slide in poll numbers in September has caused much consternation and hand-wringing among establishment democrats and their financiers- not to mention many white middle-aged women with desk jobs living in coastal cities. The HRC campaign has been in full panic mode since the first week of September.. and that was before her collapse at the 9/11 memorial service. Her campaign is now trying desperate tactics such as sending the cast of the preachy “west wing” TV to campaign for her in Ohio, more pathetic attempts to appeal to hip millennials and appearing with Zach Galifianakis on ‘Between Two Ferns’.

Many democrat faithfuls are now openly starting to wonder why Hillary Clinton is almost tied in multiple polls with Donald Trump in late September, especially after supposedly besting him by 8-10% percentage points barely a month ago. I mean.. how can an intelligent woman with such a long history of “public service” and “policy experience” lose against a person who, in their eyes, has more in common with your used car salesman alcoholic uncle than anything approaching “presidential material”. Hillary’s supporters in the media, who are legion, have spent much effort trying to find factors for her seemingly irresistible downward slide in the polls. They have so far identified a number of potential culprits ranging from millennial idealism, Bernie Sanders, the low intelligence of the average american voter, white racism… you get the picture.

Now, I do not deny that some of these factors have had a negative impact on her poll numbers. It is however clear to me that her downward slide has occurred despite her campaign and supporters spending almost 250 million dollars (to date) on media ads against Donald Trump. It has also occurred despite HRC having almost unanimous support from the media in her campaigns attempt to denigrate Trump and simultaneously minimize the spread of negative information about her. In other words- massive amounts of negative advertising directed at her opponent AND the unanimous support of elites, mainstream media and pretty much every semi-famous person in good standing with the ‘system’ has not helped her poll numbers. Infact, this very high level of establishment support seems to have had a negative effect on her standing vis-a-vis Donald Trump.

538-sep-24-2016-02

But why is this happening? Isn’t the USA full of conformist people who blindly follow authority while pretending to be rebellious and individualists? Shouldn’t all these highly paid pundits, opinion manipulators, focus group experts and other assorted credentialed assholes be able to sell HRC to the american public- especially when the other option is supposedly a used car salesman who was lucky enough to be born to rich parents? And to be fair, while Trump has plenty of street smarts and media savvy- he isn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the room. Why are so many people willing to give Trump a chance? Conventional theories about the popularity of, and momentum behind, Trump are based on one or more of three core beliefs: 1] His supporters and perhaps half of the american electorate are racist and stupid- aka the “basket of deplorables” 2] HRC is a really bad candidate for the presidency, especially at a time when establishment types have become unpopular throughout the west. 3] Trump is a master psychological manipulator – aka the Scott Adams theory.

Personally, I think that Trump’s popularity is partly due to a combination of 1] and 2] plus economic insecurity. However the major part of Trump’s successes is due to a much larger phenomenon that has to do with general loss of trust in institutions and professionals both public and private that has been going on for previous two decades. This trend was barely perceptible even in the late-1990s, and it started becoming obvious only in the early-2000s. However, even then, it was not exactly a major trend. It started accelerating around 2005-2006 and has now become one of the dominant trends of our times. While there are many reasons for its acceleration and spread, especially the growth of the internet, the single biggest factor propelling its growth is that people can no longer ignore evidence that western elite are incompetent, fraudulent, malicious and supremely corrupt.

It does not take a genius to figure out supposedly useful, objective and trustworthy institutions from universities and schools to hospitals and large corporations are run by people who are incompetent, short-sighted and frequently malicious. Similarly it is obvious that supposedly respectable professions from teachers, professors, doctors to people running non-profits and governments are full of barely competent and incredibly greedy people- frequently with some version of the ‘god complex’. It is therefore no surprise that people distrust ideas and people supported by elites and their upper-middle class enablers. In other words, the waning of public support for HRC is mostly due to the fact that she is strongly supported by elites and their upper-middle class flunkies. The failure of her attempts to paint Trump as a dangerous idiot is largely due the fact that people simply do not care for the opinions of those they actively distrust.

What do you think? Comments?

On Hillary Clinton’s Little “Health Episode” Earlier Today: Sep 11, 2016

September 11, 2016 7 comments

As most of you have read or seen by now, Hillary had a little.. “health episode” earlier today. Apparently, she felt “unwell” at the 9/11 remembrance event in NYC and had to leave early, conveniently keeping her press entourage in the dark and leaving them behind. Now this would have the end of that story in the pre-smartphone (and pre-YouTube, pre-Twitter) age, but in 2016 almost everyone and their dog have smartphones with HD movie capture capability.

And then this happened..

I will write more about this incident later. Till then, have a look at something related I found on the interwebs.

w-a-h

What do you think? Comments?

On Ties between Politicians in USA and Saudi Officials Involved in 9/11

September 10, 2016 3 comments

Since it is almost September 11, let me ask an inconvenient but very relevant question. As many of you know, the government recently had to release the 28 (actually 29) pages redacted from the original 9/11 report. As many of you also know, the contents of the hitherto totally redacted pages strongly suggested that employees of prominent members of the Saudi royal family actively helped the perpetrators of 9/11. Indeed, available evidence suggests that people personally employed by certain prominent members of the Saudi royal family might have gone so far as to help conduct multiple dry runs of the 9/11 attack almost two years before it occurred.

It is also no secret that elected officials, both republican and democratic, worked tirelessly to suppress the content of those pages for over a decade. It is also very likely that their efforts were adequately compensated by the Saudis. Many of you might recall that the two countries invaded by USA subsequent to 9/11 had either no role in that incident (Iraq) or were at best peripherally involved (Afghanistan) in it. You might also remember that USA-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan turned out to be extremely costly disasters which led to further destabilization of an already unstable part of the world.

My point is that there is enough evidence to strongly suggest that elected officials in the USA deliberately ignored the very extensive role played by Saudi Arabia in the terrorists attacks of 9/11.

And this brings me to the preamble of my inconvenient question. How much money did the Saudi royal family pay both republican and democratic politicians, over all these years, to ensure that they would keep suppressing information about the extent of official Saudi involvement in 9/11? How many other non-elected officials in the government were ,directly or indirectly, the beneficiaries of similar compensation by the Saudis? Perhaps most importantly, how many electoral campaigns in USA subsequent to 9/11 were the recipient of Saudi largess? Did, for example, the participants in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections (directly or indirectly) receive campaign contributions to ensure that they towed their line?

All of this leads to my inconvenient question- Have either of the two major candidates in the 2016 presidential election (especially HRC) been the beneficiary of direct and indirect monetary contributions intended to keep them towing the official Saudi line?

What do you think? Comments?

On the Inability of USA to Stop North Korean Nuclear Weapon Program

September 9, 2016 3 comments

As many of you might have heard by now, North Korea conducted another nuclear test explosion yesterday. Some of you might ask yourself- How can a country like N. Korea, which is supposed to be poor and largely isolated from the rest of the world, keep on developing nuclear weapons. Perhaps more importantly- Why is the USA, and the supposedly all-powerful west, unable to stop them?

Well.. here are the reasons.

1] The technology to develop nuclear weapons is not particularly complicated, especially if you are a sovereign nation with more resources and manpower than those available on a small island or archipelago. Regardless of what some pretentious white guys spouting technical jargon might make you believe, the technology and tools necessary to design and make a few viable nuclear weapons have been fairly commonplace since the late 1970s. Obtaining enough fissile material that is either enriched beyond a certain percentage (for U-235)or with impurities below certain levels (for Pu-239) is the single largest technical constraint.

Any nation-state with a decent level of industrial capacity and access to uranium ore can either enrich U-235 or build nuclear reactors to create Pu-239. It is therefore really about the willingness to do so..

2] Some politicians in the USA suggest that it is possible to exert pressure on North Korea through China. I however see this belief as an example of wishful american thinking. Think about it- Why would China care about what USA wants in this particular situation? What do they have to gain by playing along with such an american request? The reality is that China is too large and powerful a country to be bullied by the USA. Furthermore, there is an interesting precedent for their unwillingness to stop supporting the North Korean nuclear program. China, you see, is the single biggest reason for the success of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program. It also goes without saying that a nuclear capable North Korea is no real threat to China.

In other words, ensuring that North Korea has a modest nuclear weapon capacity is far more strategically useful to China than towing the american line and pressuring them to stop developing nuclear weapons.

3] Most people in USA believe that North Korea is very isolated from the rest of the world, except for maybe China. While that is true- as far as most of its citizens/ subjects are concerned, the government itself is pretty pragmatic about having restricted mutually beneficial ties with certain countries. It is therefore not surprising that the North Korean nuclear and missile program have ties with equivalent programs in other countries such as Pakistan and Iran. Some of you might be aware that the missile program of Pakistan received considerable help and support from its equivalent in North Korea. It is hard to believe that such an exchange was one-sided, if you know what I mean. Similarly there is some evidence that the Iranian nuclear program did benefit from the assistance of North Korea and once again, it is unlikely that there was no quid-pro-quo.

To put it another way, the government of North Korea is not made up of ideologically driven nutjobs who lack any significant contact with reality. They may be evil, but they are not stupid.

4] There are many advantages for sovereign states possessing nuclear weapons. For one, it makes you immune from any serious military attack from other sovereign states, such as the USA. It is no secret that possessing nuclear weapon capacity is the best way to protect your country and the elite system within it. The elites in North Korea know that they have no future if they allow the USA to pressure them into capitulating before their populace. They know what happened to Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. They know that the USA would not have to be cause the current situation in Syria if that country possessed nuclear weapons. They know that Pakistan can get away with what they do largely because they have nuclear weapons. They know that USA would never be able to pressure Iran like it did, if it already had nuclear weapons.

Simply put, the benefits of having nukes far outweigh the problems associated with developing and having them- especially for the North Korean elites.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: Sep 1, 2016

September 1, 2016 1 comment

Here are links to a few interesting articles I came across recently. They are all about how the “security” or “law and order” agencies in the USA (and other western countries) have become addicted to uncontrollable growth- with openly voracious and cannibalistic behavior. One of the linked pieces also makes the point that such growth creates new vulnerabilities for the host society which are far worse than the problem this growth was supposed to solve.

Link 1: Former Anti-Terror FBI Employee now finds Himself a Target

As a FBI surveillance employee, Ray Tahir spent the last decade tailing Muslims in counterterrorism cases. Among the investigations whose surveillance Tahir led were those of the charity Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in Texas and North Carolina’s Daniel Patrick Boyd, who with others was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to commit murder, maiming, and kidnapping overseas. Both FBI cases had their critics. The American Civil Liberties Union described the prosecution of Holy Land Foundation as “discriminatory enforcement of counterterrorism laws.” In the Boyd case, as in other informant-led FBI stings, there are questions about whether the men convicted would have done anything at all were it not for the FBI’s involvement. As the FBI targeted Muslims in the United States following the 9/11 attacks, Tahir was among the front-line employees who made some of these cases possible. Now, he alleges, he has become a target himself.

Link 2: Leaked Catalogue reveals a Vast Array of Military Spy Gear offered to U.S. Police

A Confidential, 120-page catalogue of spy equipment, originating from British defense firm Cobham and circulated to U.S. law enforcement, touts gear that can intercept wireless calls and text messages, locate people via their mobile phones, and jam cellular communications in a particular area. The catalogue was obtained by The Intercept as part of a large trove of documents originating within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where spokesperson Molly Best confirmed Cobham wares have been purchased but did not provide further information. The document provides a rare look at the wide range of electronic surveillance tactics used by police and militaries in the U.S. and abroad, offering equipment ranging from black boxes that can monitor an entire town’s cellular signals to microphones hidden in lighters and cameras hidden in trashcans. Markings date it to 2014. Cobham, recently cited among several major British firms exporting surveillance technology to oppressive regimes, has counted police in the United States among its clients, Cobham spokesperson Greg Caires confirmed.

Link 3: Hacking the US with only a Sound

Unlike the classic example of yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater, this panic can be induced by anything that sounds/looks/feels like a threat rather than the claim of a specific threat (like “fire”). Nearly anything can set them off. Here’s three examples of that over the last two weeks (there have been many more): JFK Airport- Unfounded reports of gunfire led to an evacuation of terminals. Police march passengers out of the terminal with their hands up. Police speculate that it was started by load fans of the Rio Olympics. CrabTree Valley Mall (NC)- Unfounded reports of an active shooter leads to a panicked evacuation of the mall. LAX Airport- Unfounded reports of a shooter led to people storming the jetway doors and spilling out onto the tarmac, people barricading themselves into bathrooms in multiple terminals, and more.

This public reactiveness may become the new normal both here and in Europe. If so, we can expect people take advantage of it. Here’s how. All it takes is a single audio clip. Like this or this either near a public space or done remotely on a timed playback device is all it would take to ignite the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that leads to a large-scale evacuation. In fact, people are so reactive now, I suspect it wouldn’t even take a sound that is explicit, only something that sounds similar. Think about this for a moment. The ability to shut down a public space for hours: anytime (just walk in and play the sounds); remotely (low-cost playback device on timer/remote activation); or on a large-scale (thousands of people playing the sounds on their smart phones in public spaces simultaneously)

What do you think? Comments?