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American Political ‘Elites’ Have Lost, Almost, All Touch with Reality: 3

August 27, 2020 5 comments

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about how there is no significant difference between establishment Republicans and Democrats when it comes to their overall worldview. Sure.. one group pretends to care about a woman’s right to choose and “systemic racism” while the other pretends to be interested in “banning abortion” and upholding the 2nd amendment, but this is all crappy window-dressing to cover the fact that both are equally subservient to the interests of big corporations and very rich. In that post, I also pointed out the almost everyone in current crop of Democratic party establishment is a D-list actor who are incapable of anything beyond mouthing empty platitudes and pretending to care about useless cultural issues such as “gun control” and “diversity”. I do plan to devote a future post to why the ranks of leadership, both political and non-political, in west is increasingly made up of incompetent but credentialed D-list actor types.

Anyway.. back to the topic. As I have written in numerous recent posts- the way establishment Democrats, and their Republican equivalents, have reacted to the ongoing immiseration of many tens of millions due to COVID-19 fallout has shone a lot more light on their almost total loss of touch with reality. Readers might also remember that I recently wrote about how establishment Democrats (and Republicans) have no realistic plan to completely reopen and reboot economy. But have you ever wondered why one bunch of dummies are just as clueless as the other? Well.. there are a bunch of intersecting reasons which have a lot to do with how the composition of political (and other) leadership changes in late capitalism aka neoliberalism aka financialism. But rather than go on another deep dive into underpinnings of this change, let me use a few simple-to-comprehend examples to illustrate the various factors that go into creating this mess.

Have you noticed that political and technical elites in west have lost the ability to assess information rationally and make thoughtful decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are a few examples.. Remember how face masks were supposed to be useless until they suddenly changed their mind sometime in May or June? Given that the pandemic was well underway in China by early January AND caused by a virus from well-characterized family, isn’t it odd that the elites had no clue about whether wearing face masks in public was worthwhile as late as May? Here is a hint: masks without special filters, at best, reduce the size of inoculum rather than prevent airborne viral infections. But it gets worse.. much worse. Let us talk about how western political elites displayed a total lack of understanding about whether the virus was transmitted outdoors or indoors. Once again, it was obvious as early as February and March that the vast majority of viral transmission occurred indoors and in cramped quarters.

In China and South Korea, it became obvious within a couple of months that majority of those who were infected got it from their family, co-workers or others in very close proximity at indoor markets etc. Yet, we still see western political elites pretending that outdoor gatherings (such as beaches, parks etc) carry the same risk as being cooped up in the same house, apartment or crowded workplace. Need I remind you that the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in USA have occurred in nursing homes, ships, submarines, prisons, meat-packing plants and crowded low-income urban housing complexes. Some of you might think that this is a sign of elite malfeasance rather than incompetence, and you are welcome to keep believing that, but I think otherwise because it is just one more in a long series of similar occurrences that strongly suggest incompetence. And this brings me to the next example of incompetence- namely, an inability to comprehend the statistics of risk, mortality, immunity, asymptomatic rate etc.

I have looked through the available mortality statistics for this infection in many west-European countries (Italy, Spain, Germany) and others such as Canada and South Korea. Here is what we know.. in countries with lots of testing and low positive rates, mortality from this infection among people under 50 is less than 1 in 2000, rising to about 1 in 1,000 for those between 50 and 60 and about 1 in 300 for those between 60-70. Note that hospitalization and ICU utilization rates are also pretty low until the patients are over 65. In every single one of these countries over 80% of deaths occur in people who are over 80 AND in assisted-living facilities. My point is that for everybody below 60 or 70, COVID-19 pandemic does not have a higher mortality than influenza pandemics of 1957-58 and 1968. Sure.. we should certainly protect people over 65 or 70 by providing them free N95 masks, hand sanitizer, food and grocery delivery etc. But let us not pretend that COVID-19 is more dangerous for most people than a bad strain of Influenza.

Of course, this display of incompetence does not end here.. is just the beginning. Consider the bullshit about testing for antibodies as a proxy for exposure to this virus. First, the political elite pretended to believe that available tests were not accurate enough. Once it became hard to keep up that brainless charade, they pretended to believe that antibody tests accurately captured the infection rates in population. Newsflash- anybody with more than a basic understanding of medical microbiology knows this is not the case. Let me explain.. see, antibody titres are most important when considering immunity to infections by bacteria that produce potent toxins or those with protective capsules etc. As far as viral infections are concerned, the development of specific memory cells which can survive for decades in body and start production of antibodies and kickstart immune response as soon as they encounter the antigen in question is what matters! This class of cells is, for example, why your body can produce specific antibodies etc many decades after a measles infection or MMR vaccine if you are re-exposed to virus.

To make a long story short, antibody titres after viral infections are fairly mediocre indicators of immunity. However we still use them since tests to measure antibody titres are much cheaper and simpler than those for measuring presence of memory cells. But that is also why we require clinical trials of vaccines for viral diseases rather than just measure the antibody response to them. This is also why sub-clinical reinfection which does not progress to clinical disease is quite common with viral diseases, even if you have immunity to that disease. Now you understand why reinfection, but not clinical disease, is possible even if you are immune to COVID-19 and almost any other viral infection. Also note that we know from a wide variety of veterinary coronavirus diseases that they almost exclusively cause acute infections with one notable example of a sub-acute infection (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) in some cats. Now tell me.. did you notice political, or other, elites mentioning these facts? If not, why not?

Some of you might think, once again, that this is part of a “bigger plan”. To which my answer is.. just read the transcripts of how political elites and “credentialed experts” talk about these issues. It is as if they don’t understand the subject matter in any detail, and this is not surprising since the types of elites who rise through system under neoliberalism do so because they are D-list actors who are good at court intrigue. Here is another example of incompetence. You might have heard about long-term effects of COVID-19. Here is the truth. Anybody sick enough to end up in ICU and under mechanical ventilation for more than a day WILL take a few weeks or months to recover completely. This occurs whether you end up in that situation because of a car accident, post-surgery complications or COVID-19. Invasive positive pressure ventilation (PPV) beyond a couple of days WILL cause some lung damage even if you didn’t have any to begin with. It usually resolves in a few weeks to months, though some never completely recover from it.

Similarly, most viral infections beyond common colds and minor stomach bugs WILL cause elevated levels of systemic inflammation in a decent minority of people for a few weeks after recovery. This phenomena has been fairly well studied in children with viral coup and asthma, young adults who experience upper-respiratory and systemic symptoms for up to 2-3 months after recovering from a bad lower-respiratory tract infection or people developing temporary joint issues after recovering from a bad case of salmonellosis. It should also be understood that many sensitive tests for measuring heart damage and systemic inflammation will come back mildly positive for up to a couple of months after recovery from moderately bad infections. Now tell me,, how much of this very well known (if somewhat specialized) knowledge factors in the series of bad decisions made by western elites since the beginning of COVID-19 crisis? Why not?

In the next part, I will go back to what I was originally going to write for this part- namely, how establishment Republicans are not that different from their Democrat counterparts when it comes to privileging corporate interest over their voters.

What do you think? Comments?

PS: I also hope to soon write a quick piece about my thoughts on what is going on in Kenosha, especially its longer-term indirect social and political effects.

American Political ‘Elites’ Have Lost, Almost, All Touch with Reality: 2

August 21, 2020 10 comments

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about how the pathetic response by american political (and other) elites to the COVID-19 crisis is yet another example of their disconnect with reality. As I also mentioned, their rapidly growing disconnect from reality was first obvious almost two decades ago, but it took a number of subsequent developments such as their inept response to 2008 GFC and election of Trump in 2016 etc for this phenomenon to become unignorable. The ongoing and incredibly dysfunctional response by american political elites to COVID-19 pandemic should therefore be seen, in it its right context, as the latest obvious sign of their loss of touch with reality. To be fair the political elites of other western countries have not done much better than their american counterparts, so this isn’t strictly an american thing.

As some of you might know, I recently wrote a series about how the COVID-19 crisis exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals (aka most american elites) and another about how their inept response will result in a public backlash. Let us take the points made in those posts and pursue them further. As many of you might have noticed the “response” (if you can call it that) to the COVID-19 pandemic and its sequelae fall along partisan lines. Establishment Democrats and their brain-dead LIEbral supporters are all in for stupid and ineffectual measures such as indefinite lockdowns, closing down schools and universities, mandatory face masks and other pandemic theater without grounding in reality. The “other side” aka Establishment Republicans and their delusional CONservative supporters want to open everything without any plan to mitigate the possible negative consequences of doing so.

Did you notice a few big fucking problems with both courses of action, apart from the fact that they are both bonkers. In case you haven’t.. let me spell it out for you. Firstly, neither Democrats nor Republicans have any worthwhile plan to make the tens of millions who have lost financially during the shutdowns whole again. Now people such as MikeCA might mutter something about financial help contained in some bill that is being held up by the Republican-dominated senate. To which my answer is.. bullshit! Democrats passed some bills in the house to convince dumb folks that they are “doing something”. They did it with full knowledge that those bills would never be passed by senate and become law. You might remember the Republican equivalent of this being their many attempts to rescind Obamacare during 2012-2016 even though they knew that those bills would never pass and become law. It is all Kayfabe, a feature of politics in dying empires.

And this brings up the inevitable followup question- namely, why are the political elites of both parties so clueless about the massive negative impact of lockdowns due to COVID-19 panic on the already precarious financial situation for tens of millions of their fellow citizens and millions of small business? I mean.. hadn’t things already become pretty bad for the younger age-groups over past decade manifested by decreases in house + auto sales and opioid epidemic? Also note that this apparent cluelessness is not just restricted to their lack of understanding effect of shutdowns on tens of millions. It extends to many other areas such as the lack of realistic plans to limit mortality due to pandemic, reboot the economy and much much more.

In fact, the types of speeches you are seeing at the hilariously bad Democrat convention simply bolster my claim. Have you noticed how these D-rate actors aka political elites are spouting all that bullshit about “decency and norms”, “democracy is under threat”, “our international image”, “what will the children think” and “identity politics”, while almost totally ignoring the horrible socio-economic effects of this shutdown on average voters? How can they continue spouting policy- and governance- free drivel about how people should vote for them because Trump is a bad.. bad.. man. It is as if they learnt nothing from 2016, or maybe they do not want to learn anything from that humiliation because even the act of acknowledging that it happened makes them look totally incompetent. How do you lose to a reality show clown who was constantly mocked by corporate media and had less than half the funds as your candidate?

But it gets worse.. much worse. Have you noticed that Establishment Democrats have no realistic plan about how to reopen schools, universities and the rest of economy. If you ask them about their plan, those pathetic circle-jerkers will say something about “follow the science”, “wear masks all the time”, “e-learning for all”, “constant testing” and tons of other bullshit that is not practical in real-life. They have no plan about the hundreds of millions of people who depend on public schools for what is essentially baby-sitting their kids. They have no feasible plans about how to reopen universities, many of which are already in a pretty precarious financial situation. How many universities, even many state ones, can survive a year of being basically closed for undergraduate teaching- which is essentially their main source of income.

Do they think that students are going to keep paying tens of thousands for zoom lectures during the fall and especially winter sessions? Democrats want people to believe that electing Dementia Joe in November will somehow magically change everything. Do they think that people who have become very cynical over years in addition to being immiserated because of decisions by political class will forgive them? Don’t they remember what happened in 2016? Perhaps they think that keeping schools and universities closed for next few months will somehow create enough chaos to create a popular revolt against Trump? If so, this is a very stupid and short-sighted decision since most schools in Republican-controlled states are going to be kept open by September and it will quickly become obvious that risks to the young are essentially non-existent.

Ironically, this stupid Democrat-promoted policy to keep schools and universities closed for next few months is going to hurt the economy of ‘blue’ states far more than ‘red’ states. And that is just the tip of iceberg, since all the other stupid ‘social distancing’ and other bullshit policies are already destroying small to medium sized business in ‘blue’ states far more than ‘red’ ones. Do you think all the people whose livelihoods and business are getting destroyed are going to care about “following credentialed experts” and all that other bullshit to contain a disease which kills less than 1 in 2,000 people under 50 and about 1 in 500 of those between 50-70? Also don’t forget that Establishment Democrats are already talking about implementing economic austerity if they win in 2020. Talk about being more stupid and delusional than Trump..

And it gets even worse, if you can believe that. have you noticed that in addition to blathering about “values and decency”, “our international image” and other coastal bourgeoisie bullshit, they are promoting plans that no sane party which wants to election in the current environment would even dare to mention. You know.. things like referring to Hispanics as LatinX, talking incessantly about ‘gun control’, supporting bullshit causes such as transitioning children, killing oil and gas sector jobs and many other brainfarts which are not popular outside certain coastal zipcodes. Notice everything is missing from that list? What about plans for a comprehensive universal single-payer healthcare system, higher minimum wage, taxpayer funded higher education, less expensive childcare, changes to zoning codes to allow the construction of more affordable housing. But wait, there is more.. much more.

Establishment Democrats have still not put forth a feasible plan (one which does not involve hand-waving and invoking underpants gnomes) to reopen the economy completely. Think about it.. even after four months of the ongoing bullshit, they still don’t have a feasible plan to reopen the economy. But why not? Here is my theory.. because they are intellectually bankrupt. One of the most interesting and universal effects of a country adopting neoliberalism is that its ruling class gets increasingly filled with conartists, shysters, mountebanks, careerists and other creatures who are incapable of original and independent thought. This is why, for example, why Democrats could not use their electoral victory of 2008 to pass any major changes that would make them more popular. This is also why the recent DNC circle-jerk fest looked like a bad infomercial filmed in 1992. My point is that establishment Democrats are actually incapable of thinking in ways which have not been preapproved by the incestuous social bubbles they inhabit.

In the next part, I will tell you about how establishment Republicans are not that different from their Democrat counterparts- especially when it comes to privileging corporate interest over those of the vast majority of their voters.

What do you think? Comments?

American Political ‘Elites’ Have Lost, Almost, All Touch with Reality: 1

August 14, 2020 14 comments

Throughout recorded history, one of the most consistent and definitive signs of the impending end for any empire is the disconnection of its political (and other) elites from reality. Some of the most famous examples of this from the past century include the incredibly and consistently bad decisions made by pre-1917 revolution elites in Russia, the highly dysfunctional decision making in last two decades of Austro-Hungarian empire, the unbelievably dumb decisions made by the three pashas and their flunkies in WW1-era Ottoman empire, the very stupid decision by British elites to get involved in WW1 etc. My point is that, regardless of the continent, ethnicity of people or historical era.. all dying empires end up being led by elites who have lost touch with reality. While I have theories about the reasons behind this pattern, it is best discussed in another post.

This post will focus on the many signs that american political elites, like their many predecessors in other dying empires, have lost all touch with reality. Some of you might think that losing touch with reality is the same as being stupid or incompetent. Well.. it isn’t. Losing touch with reality is something which occurs when the person in question has such faith in their own mental model of the world that they disregard any external evidence that it is incorrect. In other words, they keep making decisions based on a mental model of world that has increasingly tenuous connections to reality. While they might have some initial partial success due to system inertia, sooner or later their luck always runs out and a series of bad decisions end up sealing their fate. One of the most interesting features of this disconnect from reality is that, faced with increasingly bigger defeats, elites of dying empires double and triple down on the very positions causing their losses.

So what about 2020 makes me think the elites in this country have lost touch with reality? Well.. a whole fucking lot! And let us be clear about something else, their loss of connection with reality has been increasingly obvious since September 12, 2001. However, it has become too hard to ignore for the past decade and is a thoroughly bipartisan affair, with both major political parties and the deep state fully behind this disastrous trend. Since I have to start from somewhere, let us begin by talking about the decision of Democratic party establishment to nominate a person with visible signs of dementia (Joe Biden) as their candidate for the presidency. If they didn’t want Bernie (a spineless pushover) to win the nomination, they could at least have got a hack without dementia such as John Kerry to be the establishment’s favorite in primary.

But the Democratic establishment, like its Republican equivalent, is too intellectually bankrupt and lazy to pull off this shit in a semi-competent manner. Their selection of Kamala Harris, a black establishment politician marginally less slimy than HRC, as the “safe” choice for VP position in Democratic ticket simply shows more of their intellectual bankruptcy. Let me remind you that when Kamala Harris dropped out of the Democrat party primary, she was polling at 3-4% and ended up in 4th or 5th position in the state she currently represents as a senator. It is as if the Democratic party learnt nothing from their clobbering at the hands of Orange Man in 2016. Why else would they think that a black female version of Tim Kaine was the best choice for VP slot on their party ticket? Do they think that repeating 2016 will yield different results this time?

It appears that this is the case, and these dumbfucks believe that the result of 2016 election was an aberration rather than due to a buildup of popular discontent with the course of electoral politics over past three decades. They are delusional enough to believe that “racism” was the biggest reason Trump won in 2016 even though many swing voters who voted for him in the Midwest had previously voted for Obama.. twice. But intellectual bankruptcy and delusion is not a monopoly of Democratic party. Establishment Republicans are just as dumb and delusional as their Democratic counterparts. Witness their inability to stop a “reality show” clown from snatching the Republican party nomination from many establishment favorites in 2016 primaries. Do you remember how easily Trump ran over establishment favorites such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and many others.

But it gets worse.. remember what Republicans did after Orange Man was elected in 2016? Well.. they tried to repeal Obamacare without replacing it with anything better. While Obamacare is a sloppy blowjob to insurance companies, it was at least marginally better for many people than the web of shit which preceded it. MikeCA might not agree, but the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare was the main reason they got thrashed in 2018 mid-terms. So what have Republicans achieved since 2016? Not much, other than passing tax cuts for corporations and rich + getting lots of right-wing federal judges appointed to further the interests of corporations and rich + supporting wars in far off countries (the last two actions being bipartisan). In other words, they did exactly what you would expect establishment Republicans to do.

But how is any of this a sign of losing touch with reality? For the past thirty years, the Republican party has increasingly become a party of white people, especially of the working class type. So what promises does the Republican party offer the majority of its loyal voters? Well.. in addition to professed support for social conservatism (banning abortion, opposing homosexuality, upholding gun rights etc), they offer working class whites the promise of making sure that non-white people have a shittier life than them. But note that most Republican voters are actively opposed to most Republican economic policies such as free trade, job outsourcing, allowing corporations to become monopolies etc. This scam worked for about twenty years, though it had started to wear thin by the mid-2000s. Over the past ten years, changes such as legalization of gay marriage + inability to reverse Roe Vs Wade etc have made a mockery of their alleged social conservative platform, except perhaps for delusional old white people.

My point is the support for wedge issues based in social conservatism (with notable exception of gun rights) has become untenable. At the same time, the quality of life for white working class has decreased a lot over past two decades, but especially in aftermath of GFC of 2008. There is a reason why white working class has been doing so much methamphetamine, opioids and alcohol over past 10-15 years. This is also why the (empty) promises of Trump to restore manufacturing and similar jobs for this group resonated so much with that group during the electoral campaign of 2016. Given the changing racial demography of this country, the smart thing for Republican party to do would be courting this base with economic populist policies (not unlike Democrats under FDR) instead of fixating on social wedge issues that have been pretty much decided.

The white working class voter of 2020 cares far more about having a job, rising costs of housing, education and healthcare rather than banning abortion or gays. But Republican establishment, like its Democratic equivalent, is in thrall of corporations and ultra-rich. It is therefore unable and unwilling to read the writing on wall and adjust its positions. Luckily for them, the Democratic establishment, which is paid by same groups, has no desire or ability to exploit this weakness. But as Trump showed in a very spectacular manner in 2016, and politician willing to break away from the neoliberal economic orthodoxy (if only in words) can effectively steamroll the Republican establishment. You can bet that a few young Republican politicians (Cotton, Hawley, Rubio), who are smarter than Trump, have already internalized this message.

But how is any of this manifesting itself in 2020? For starters, both Democrats and Republicans have been unable (and unwilling) to understand how badly the COVID-19 shutdown has affected the economy, and not just in the short-term. While the relief package offered by Republicans is laughably inadequate, even the somewhat more generous one proposed by Democrats is quite inadequate. There is something darkly comic about Republicans showing contempt for working class people who have lost their jobs while Democrats pretend to care about budget deficits and maintaining collegiality with Republican counterparts. While somewhere between 30-50 million people in this country are either officially unemployed or cannot collect unemployment even though they have lost their jobs, politicians from both parties are attacking each other on social issues which almost nobody cares about right now.

Trump and his coterie of dumbfucks are promising a rapid return to normality, without the means or capability to do so. Democrats, for their part, are promising open-ended lockdowns which will mysteriously end if Dementia Joe wins on 3rd of November. Neither groups has any worthwhile plans on reopening the economy completely, procuring enough doses of an effective and safe vaccine let alone do anything about compensating the millions of small business that have been devastated and will likely shutdown forever by the time this shitshow is over. But what do you hear on Clinton News Network (CNN), MSDNC and Faux or read in establishment rags such as NYT and WP? Well.. it is mostly the latest clickbait scare news about COVID-19, bullshit about political manoeuvring and “norms” that very few outside the incestous political types care about, articles supporting the latest american wars and unsuccessful attempts at foreign intervention, more stuff about how Trump is a liar, stupid, evil etc. Notice what is minimized or missing?

These corporate news outlets either completely ignore or devote very little space to issues such as the socio-economics of reopening schools and universities, the tens of millions without jobs who are increasingly unable to pay rent or mortgages and in some cases afford to buy food and medicine, the millions whose small business or gig jobs have gone under, the total inadequacy of current government programs for helping the unemployed, the rapidly growing loss of confidence among people about “epidemiologists” and “experts”, the massive increase in rates of opioid overdoses in many economically distressed regions of country, the long-term effects of university lockdowns on finances of those institutions, the effect of revenue loss due to small business closure on local and state governments + the general loss of faith in the future of this country.

The political “elites” and their catamites in corporate media have their head too far up their behinds to actually notice that the country they pretend to lord over is rapidly coming apart. They keep on playing the stupid old games they know because they are intellectually bankrupt and therefore totally incapable of actually solving problems. I will write more about what the almost complete mishandling of COVID-19 crisis says about the american elite in the next post. I also hope to tackle how the willingness of this country to start conflicts all over the world without the wherewithal to actually win them is another sign of its loss of touch with reality.

What do you think? Comments?