As almost every one of you knows by now, Bernie Sanders resounding victory in the New Hampshire democratic primary has left Hillary Clinton and her cronies shaken, if not overtly panicking.. at least yet. The fact that this overwhelming victory comes on the heels of a technical and shady tie in the Iowa democratic caucus has suddenly made Hillary look far more vulnerable than she would have preferred. Most of you might have also heard all those noises coming from Clinton supporters and protegees about how Hillary will still win the democratic because of her alleged popularity among “Black” and “Hispanic” democratic voters.
But what if the course of events don’t work out that way in 2016? What if her professional supporters and protegees are lying to others or being self-delusional? What if her public viewpoints from the 1990s come back to wreck her quest for the “Black” and “Hispanic” vote in 2016? In other words, could her campaign to win non-white voters in 2016 be sunk by widespread public dissemination of her public views about those groups in the 1990s?
Let us look at the facts..
It is a matter of public record that her husband, Bill Clinton, actively supported laws that caused disproportionate damage to the Black and Hispanic community when he was president. He also promoted laws that caused a lot of damage to the black community as a whole. While he has recently acknowledged many of the racially biased laws passed during his presidency were a “mistake“, it means little to the millions of non-whites who life has been irreversibly damaged by these inherently racist laws.
Now some of you might say that a wife cannot be held accountable for the actions of her husband. Well.. that would be a reasonable line of argument if Hillary was a politically uninvolved 1950s-era housewife- but as you all know, she was anything but apolitical. In fact, there are tons of video clips of her actively defending her husband’s policies- whether they were about increasing levels of racially targeted incarceration or supporting welfare “reform” policies that targeted non-whites. To put it another way, she was a willing and enthusiastic collaborator in the design and support of policies that destroyed the lives of millions of black citizens.
And that is a big problem for her, especially in an era where media is no longer centralized and under the control of a few people and corporations. A recent and widely shared article by Michelle Alexander openly points out that the Clintons have done nothing to deserve the votes of black people. Even a borderline Clinton shill like Ta-Nehisi Coates has now found it hard to openly support Hillary Clinton. It does not take a genius to figure out that we will be soon seeing tons of official and unofficial attacks ads and articles which use public positions taken by the Clinton’s in the 1990s against them in 2016.
The continuation of Black and Hispanic support for Hillary is therefore heavily dependent on suppression of their public positions from the 1990s. While doing so was trivial in an era with three TV networks, a few cable channels and a handful of national newspapers- doing that today is impossible. In fact any attempt to suppress such facts today would achieve the reverse- a phenomenon known as the Streisand effect.
It is also worth mentioning that Blacks and Hispanics in 2016, unlike many of their counterparts from the 1990s, are no longer naive enough to strive for respectability and acceptability by an aging and declining white population. Furthermore, the growth and ubiquity of the internet (and smartphones) have exposed the gross and systemic racial inequalities in the treatment of Blacks and Hispanics in the USA. It is no exaggeration to say that Blacks and Hispanics born after 1970 have a very different view of the 1980s and 1990s than their parents.
To summarize, any serious public exposure of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s views and actions during the 1990s would make Hillary repulsive to non-white voters- especially those born after 1970.
What do you think? Comments?
The previous 2-3 years have seen an interesting, but largely ignored, trend in the western media’s reporting about Russia. You might have noticed that almost every week, we keep seeing shoddily recycled “news” stories about socio-economic problems in Russia, musings about how Putin’s underlings are unhappy with him or how the Russian military intervention in Syria and Ukraine is “not working”. Such “news” stories are usually followed with jingoistic chest thumping by keyboard jockeys in the comment sections of said articles and wild speculation about how the USA would “win” against Russia.
Meanwhile in the real world- Putin’s popularity and approval rating in Russia remains extraordinarily high. Even more oddly for many in the west, he seems to be able to achieve all his stated objectives – whether it is destabilizing the west-backed leadership in Ukraine or helping the Alawites win the Syrian civil war with impunity. So what is going on? Why is Putin’s popularity so high? Why is his grasp on power so firm? And why is he able to achieve his objectives with far more success than his western counterparts?
Well.. it comes down to a few reasons.
Reason 1: Russians in 2016 have no illusions about life in the west, especially the USA.
In the pre-1991 era, very few Russians (as a percentage of the population) had ever interacted with people in the west (especially the USA) outside of settings that did not somehow involve diplomacy, trade or propaganda. Few in that country had personal experience with or insight into the worldview of people in the west. The repressive political climate, ugly architecture, sclerotic institutions and general lack of consumer culture that characterized day-to-day life in Russia in the 1970s and 1980s made them susceptible to western propaganda that life in the west was intrinsically better than in Russia. While it is certainly true that the mindset of sclerotic leader and institutions in Russia during those two decades made it an unpleasant place to live in, the appearance of general prosperity in the west during that period had more to do with prevailing socio-economic trends than anything fundamentally better about the western way.
Post-1991, many Russians were able to travel and live abroad for extended lengths of time. Consequently they were able to observe, first-hand, how things in the west (especially the USA) really worked. It is no secret that many were less than happy with what they saw and experienced. The mental image of the west as created by the minds of Russians in the pre-1991 era had little or no similarity to what they actually saw and experienced. The actual product was a shadow of what was promised in all those colorful advertisements. Living in the west also allowed them see and experience the less savory, and previously hidden, aspects of capitalist societies- such as poverty, economic insecurity, homelessness, high healthcare costs etc. In other words- the posed, lighted and photo-shopped images of the heavily madeup woman had little resemblance to what she looked like in real life.
Reason 2: Russians finally saw, for themselves, that the USA always wanted to marginalize them.
In the pre-1991 era, many Russians believed the hostility of USA towards them was based in ideology as opposed to a simple desire to marginalize, impoverish and destroy them as a people. However actions by the USA after 1991 such as the first Iraq war, expansion of NATO to include former eastern-bloc countries, support of Islamic terrorism in Russia and economic policies that caused the impoverishment of Russians in the 1990s have made most of them realize that the hostility of USA towards the USSR was based less in ideology that the simple desire to marginalize, impoverish and destroy Russians as a people. It is therefore not surprising that they would stand behind and support leaders who demonstrated their nationalistic credentials. A large part of Putin’s popularity is due to the fact that most Russians in 2016 know something that their counterparts in 1991 did not- namely that the USA will not stop until it has marginalized, impoverished and destroyed them.
Russians have also seen the USA has little or no interest in actually cooperating with Russia on solving any problems that affect both countries. For example- Russia had its own problems with Saudi-financed Islamic terrorism in Russia in the 1990s. After September 2001, many Russians thought that the USA might finally decide to work together with them against a common adversary. Well.. after what appeared to a promising start, the USA went back to its old ways and turned a blind eye to Saudi-funded Islamic terrorism in other countries- while simultaneously pursuing the doomed strategy of regime change and military invasions of countries in the middle-east. Perhaps more importantly, they kept trying to destabilize neighboring east-european countries and install puppet pro-USA regimes in them. In other words, most Russians have now come to the conclusion that the USA will always be a hostile country.
Reason 3: Russians can now see that the USA is not omnipotent or invincible.
As I have previously mentioned, many Russians in the pre-1991 era admired and envied the USA. They used to see the USA as a place where even the average person had an existence that was materially comfortable and relatively free from ideological conformity. While that was never more than partially true, the general belief that things in the USA were better created a halo of “competence” around all things from that country- from the military and institutions to its economy. Events in the first few years after 1991 such as the outcome of the first gulf war and rapid development of the internet appeared to support this generally favorable image of the abilities and capabilities of the USA. The inability of Russian leaders in the 1991-1999 era to stand up against economic abuse by the USA also helped prop up the idea that the USA was almost omnipotent and invincible.
Then reality intervened..
Sometime between 2000-2002, it slowly started becoming obvious to people in the rest of the world that the USA was not omnipotent nor invincible. The events of September 2001 and their aftermath- especially the reaction of american government and populace, was the beginning for the exposure of its actual abilities and capabilities. As it turned out- both were substantially inferior to what everyone, including people in the USA, had hitherto believed. The disastrous invasions and subsequent occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan did not make things any better- to put it mildly. By 2005 it became obvious that the USA was incapable of winning against diffuse groups of poorly organised insurgencies in countries they had occupied for a few years- even after it spend trillions of dollars trying to do so. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina also exposed the inability of USA to competently address large problems in inside its own territory.
The economic crisis which began in 2008-2009 also exposed the complex and hitherto hidden masquerades that had allowed the USA to prop up its economic system. It is possible to make the argument that by 2010 many of the younger educated people in the rest of the world (including Russia) had come to the realization that the primacy of the USA in technology and economics was largely a good smoke-and-mirror show. Developments in the subsequent years have provided even more evidence that a lot of the supposed competencies of the USA- from civic institutions, higher education, scientific research, health care etc are based in complex scams which use proxy markers of function, progress and competence to cover up the appalling reality. Furthermore, almost every product associated with a materially comfortable and modern existence is now manufactured in countries such as Mexico and China.
To make a long story short- Russians now see the USA as a serial scam artist who does not actually posses most of the abilities or capabilities it pretends to possess.
To summarize, the continued high levels of public support for Putin in Russia are the result of a combination of factors including a much wider understanding of the reality of life in the west and the long-term agenda of USA towards Russia in combination with a much more objective assessment of the actual capabilities of that country.
What do you think? Comments?
This post is one of the many I started writing about a year ago, but never managed to finish till today. I also predict that it will get more than a few comments- especially from thin-skinned SJWs. But then again, I am not known for being especially concerned about what others think of my professed beliefs. As many of you have seen or heard- a number of women comedians have suddenly become famous and rich in the last 2-4 years.
Now, this is not exactly a new trend as women comedians have been steadily gaining prominence in popular culture over the last two decades. Just to be clear- I am NOT claiming that women comedians are intrinsically inferior to their male counterparts. Nor am I claiming that any field of human endeavor, including comedy, is a meritocracy. This post is therefore about whether the majority of contemporary famous female comedians in the anglosphere are actually funny- as opposed to whether women can ever be funny. Let me also say that I do not believe that most famous male comedians are actually funny- but that is another entirely different issue.
So, why am I focusing on famous and in my opinion mediocre and hacky female comedians as opposed to their male counterparts? Well.. as you will see, the archetypes of famous female comedians and their material says a lot more about the people who promote them and celebrate them than the comics themselves. Let us now talk about the archetypes or categories of contemporary famous female comedians especially those who have come to prominence within the last five years.
Category 1: The ones that are actually funny.
While I might not agree with the material or views or these female comedians, it hard to deny that some women comedians are talented and actually funny. Curiously, they do not have much in common with each other- stylistically or otherwise. Examples include Aisha Tyler, Maria Bamford, Wanda Sykes, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. The ones in this category stand apart from the ones in the other groups because their comedy acts and characters have the ability to be somewhat introspective, less than perfect and relatable aka human.
Category 2: The ones whose acts are mostly about hating men, other women and casual racism.
It is interesting to note that almost every woman comedian in this category is a thin, harsh-faced white woman. Coincidence.. I think not. These women use the fact that they are thin, white and moderately attractive to basically trash men, other women, minorities.. basically everybody other than them. It is often hard to say whether people enjoy their comedy or the controversies surrounding their acts and personalities. Examples include Iliza Shlesinger, Whitney Cummings, Jen Kirkman, Natasha Leggero and Chelsea Handler.
Category 3: The ones whose acts center around their obesity, disability, race or personal tragedy.
A somewhat more diverse category than the previous one, it contains female comedians whose acts are mostly driven by some combination of rage, jealousy, humiliation, casual racism or reaction to racism. The default persona of most performers in this category is a fat loud woman who spends too much time talking their weight or men of other races. Alternatively it is a woman with marginal talent but who has survived some personal tragedy making the audience feel sorry for her. Examples include Margaret Cho, Tig Notaro, Lisa Lampanelli and Melissa McCarthy.
Category 4: The ones whose act is to be the girl next door who talks dirty and insults everybody.
Probably the most recent but prominent category containing some of most overexposed comedians. The default persona of comedians in this category is a reasonably OK looking woman whose claim to fame is based on saying “shocking” things and insulting other people and minorities. They differ from those in category 3 by not being obese or ugly. Examples include Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer and some from category 2 such as Whitney Cummings and Chelsea Handler. They are similar to those in Category 2- but are far more focused on conventional success and fame.
Category 5: The ones whose acts are essentially exaggerated quirkiness.
This category includes women whose act is almost exclusively centered around their quirky looks and/or voice. In other words, their act would not be funny if it was done by somebody who did not look or sound quirky. This is basically the female counterpart of the retarded clown-type acts among male comedians. Examples include Kristen Schaal, Jenny Slate, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.
Category 6: The ones whose looks make up for the quality of their comedy.
Female comedians in this category are largely known for their good looks. While some exhibit flashes of actual talent, their careers are highly dependent on their looks. In other words, most people would not pay money to see their acts if they looked average. Examples include Nikki Glaser, Anjelah Johnson, Kate McKinnon and ex-lookers such as Chelsea Handler (pre-2003) and Natasha Leggero (pre-2008).
Category 7: The ones whose fame is largely due to who they are dating or related to.
Well.. these are the ones who are incredibly bad at their craft but somehow keep on getting TV gigs and specials. One of the best example in this category is Chelsea Peretti- a “comedian” whose inexplicable success becomes more understandable once you realize that her brother is Jonah Peretti (one of the founders of Buzzfeed) and is currently dating Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame).
What do you think? Comments?
In a series of previous posts, I had made the claim that human beings are predominantly motivated by a seemingly unquenchable desire to hurt, abuse, enslave or kill others- even if they do not stand to gain from such actions. I also showed how my model of human motivations is a far more rational (if distinctly unpleasant) explanation for supposedly inexplicable human behaviors such as the desire to accumulate extremely large amounts of money, risk your life for fighting wars that enrich a few or exhibit strong belief in any religious ideology. I will now extend that particular line of thinking to show you how public morality is based in the fundamental human desire to harm others. To be clear, I am defining public morality as a set of beliefs or worldview forced by some people on others to achieve some supposedly positive goals, ranging from creating “stable” social systems or “improving” some aspect of the general state of humanity to “saving” the world. The short version of my theory is as follows:
All types and forms of public morality (religious or secular) are grounded in the human desire to hurt, abuse, enslave or kill other people.
Here are two examples of what I am talking about..
Inspite of what of its defenders still say, practice of the caste (jati) in India was and still is the largest and best example of an entire region of the world systemically screwing itself for no rational gain. While we can debate about the role of Muslim and British rule in shaping certain aspects of system, especially as it appears today, it is clear that practice of caste (jati) had severely damaged civil society in India many centuries prior to the rise of non-indigenous rulers. Infact, I would argue that Muslim and British conquest of India was almost entirely possible because the system had inhibited development of functional societies which could support united action against external invaders.
There is a lot of historical evidence which suggests that Indians tried hard not to learn from either their military success or setbacks, let alone history. Nor did they want to be involved in doing anything that was considered “foreign”- and that included making quality guns, wearing tailored clothes, building better ships or using the printing press. It is no secret the considerations of caste (jati) and “ritual purity” were largely behind these and many other disastrous decisions made by the overwhelming majority of indians for many centuries. So, how do you rationally explain the enthusiastic willingness of hundreds of millions over a period of more than a thousand years to deliberately ignore the proverbial writing on the wall? Also, why would any non-retarded person buy into and enthusiastically defend a mindset and worldview that was plainly inadequate?
While traditionalist types have long argued that the caste system provided public morality goods such as “stability” and “order”, there is a lot of evidence which shows that system was almost never able to provide either as illustrated by the innumerable accounts of wanton murder and plunder by muslim and british rulers. So what did it really provide to its ardent believers and supporters? Well.. based on it worked in real life, it is clear that the system was consistently able to consistently provide just one product to its believers, namely a pre-made worldview which allowed them to justify horrendous levels of neglect, abuse and mistreatment of other people. Moreover, unlike classical racism (which makes it kinda hard to blatantly fuck over against someone in your own large group) the presence of a large number of castes, sub-castes and jatis make it possible for almost everyone to participate in the game of fucking over somebody else.
In other words, the caste (jati) system was incapable of providing its believers anything beyond a justification for the neglect, abuse and mistreatment of other people. We therefore have to seriously consider the possibility that extensive and long-lived social systems which impose significant negative costs on its believers can be kept alive and fueled almost entirely by the apparently widespread (but hidden) human desire to hurt, abuse, enslave and kill other people. As you will see, this phenomena is hardly restricted to one particular traditional belief system or region of the world.
Example 2 : Monotheism, especially its Judeo-Christian-Islamic version
As I previously mentioned- the human desire to hurt, abuse, enslave or kill others is hardly restricted to those who claim to believe in multiple “gods”. Infact, the history of monotheistic faiths provides some of the most compelling examples of religion being a force for evil. Just think of all the innumerable acts of personal violence, wars and genocides performed under the guise of supporting the “one true faith” and “one true god” who just so happens to be one the perpetrators of the said actions worship. But all this talk about the history of religion-inspired violence raises an important, but often ignored, class of questions.
Why did so many people who had no real hope of material gain from participating in such acts nevertheless enthusiastically participate in them? Why were so many desperately poor and deprived people so willing to fight against people they barely knew? Why were so many people willing to suffer serious injury or death for highly dubious causes? What did so many gain from participating as the enthusiastic cannon fodder?
The conventional explanation for the willing and enthusiastic participation of most people in such acts is that they were gullible idiots who were brainwashed by the “high IQ” elites into doing all those things. But was that ever the case? Were most people stupid enough to believe that a god unable to help them feed their chronically ill and hungry children was real? Were they stupid enough to believe that those who ruled them were actually good human beings? Were they incapable of observing that conflicts and wars always hurt people like them far more than the few who profited from them? I mean.. what did they really gain from all this bullshit?
My alternative explanation is that religion simply provided a cover for all those people to indulge their appetite for hurting, abusing, enslaving and killing other people. They kept on participating in such behavior and actions even when it caused them considerable personal losses. In other words, even a significant risk of personal hardship, losses or even death (in addition to the lack of personal material gain) is not enough to stop most people from indulging their appetite of hurting and killing other people.
Upcoming posts in this series will look at a number of everyday and supposedly “normal” examples of public morality- from why certain things are NSFW, what actually is behind the public support for the USA-led war on Drugs, why religious conservatives oppose abortion, why many men oppose prostitution to why those most negatively affected by capitalism and the nation-state are often their most enthusiastic supporters. I will also talk about how supposedly do-gooder movements such MADD, PETA etc and the whole panoply of movements to “stop” global climate change are actually driven by the need to screw over other people rather than help them.
What do you think? Comments?
Here are links to a few interesting articles I recently came across. They are about the massive systemic problems inherent in large centralized and corporatized institutions-especially those run by incestuous coteries of scammers.
A former AT&T executive who had taught marketing at Harvard Business School, McGovern pledged to make the tough choices that would revitalize the Red Cross, which was chartered by Congress to provide aid after disasters. In a speech five years ago, she imagined a bright future, a “revolution” in which there would be “a Red Cross location in every single community.’’ It hasn’t worked out that way. McGovern and her handpicked team of former AT&T colleagues have presided over a string of previously unreported management blunders that have eroded the charity’s ability to fulfill its core mission of aiding Americans in times of need. Under McGovern, the Red Cross has slashed its payroll by more than a third, eliminating thousands of jobs and closing hundreds of local chapters. Many veteran volunteers, who do the vital work of responding to local fires and floods have also left, alienated by what many perceive as an increasingly rigid, centralized management structure.
Despite the failure of the plan, the former AT&T executive who McGovern brought in to run the division and other top managers were awarded bonuses last year, one former official recalled. Employee morale has been damaged by the repeated layoffs — or “right sizing,” as McGovern calls it — as well as by the perception that the Red Cross is increasingly focused on image over substance. A marketing department created by McGovern tried to lift spirits by crafting what it termed the Red Cross’ “internal brand essence.” The slogan, designed “to remind and guide us as we work,” was “Sleeves up. Hearts open. All In.” — an homage to the Friday Night Lights television show’s signature: “Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.” The rallying cry hasn’t worked. An internal survey of Red Cross employees obtained by ProPublica found just 35 percent responded favorably to the statement, “I trust the senior leadership of the American Red Cross.”
On Monday morning, Eric Jackson, manager of hedge fund SpringOwl, sent a brutal 99-page presentation to Yahoo’s board, outlining his case for why the company should drop Marissa Mayer as CEO and find new management. Jackson points out that Yahoo has burned through $3 billion on M&A in the past three years since Mayer took the reins, which contributes to $10 billion in what Jackson calls Yahoo’s misallocated capital. The value of all of those startups Yahoo has acquired, Jackson says, is worth nothing at Yahoo’s current stock price. Jackson also points out that Yahoo has a history of buying up startups run by former Google APM members.
While at Google, Mayer started the company’s elite associate product-manager program. Of the 49 acquisitions Yahoo has made under Mayer’s leadership, six were startups founded by ex-Googlers. The total cost of these six acquisitions is $319 million, according to Jackson’s slide deck. Yahoo bought Polyvore in July for $230 million. Polyvore, a social commerce site that lets users make artistic collages of clothes and accessories…But Jackson does not mince words when it comes to Yahoo’s decision to spend shareholder money acquiring Polyvore and companies like it. “It’s not acceptable to pay $230M for zombie companies run by former APM members,” he says, pointing out that Polyvore had raised $22 million in VC funding, was 8 years old, and had gone through multiple pivots. For all intents and purposes, it looked like a goner until Yahoo bought it.
Stanford University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and other prestigious medical research institutions have flagrantly violated a federal law requiring public reporting of study results, depriving patients and doctors of complete data to gauge the safety and benefits of treatments, a STAT investigation has found.The violations have left gaping holes in a federal database used by millions of patients, their relatives, and medical professionals, often to compare the effectiveness and side effects of treatments for deadly diseases such as advanced breast cancer.The worst offenders included four of the top 10 recipients of federal medical research funding from the National Institutes of Health: Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of California, San Diego. All disclosed research results late or not at all at least 95 percent of the time since reporting became mandatory in 2008.
The FDA, which regulates prescription drugs, is empowered to levy fines of up to $10,000 a day per trial for late reporting to ClinicalTrials.gov. In theory, it could have collected $25 billion from drug companies since 2008 — enough to underwrite the agency’s annual budget five times over. But neither FDA nor NIH, the biggest single source of medical research funds in the United States, has ever penalized an institution or researcher for failing to post data.Even the agency’s own staff scientists have violated the reporting law three-quarters of the time.Collins said NIH research shows reporting rates by both industry and academia have improved over the past several years due to greater awareness, and NIH’s own scientists are now reporting their results about 90 percent of the time. “Of course I would like to see all of these rates reach 100 percent,” Collins said.Data from ClinicalTrials.gov reviewed by STAT show NIH scientists’ reporting of results within the legal deadline peaked at 38 percent in 2013. Counting results reported late, NIH staff performance reached 90 percent for studies due in 2012 but has dropped since then.
What do you think? Comments?