Saturday, April 30, 2022

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine

At Amazon, Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Washington's 'Forever Flu' Fleeced Americans (VIDEO)

I don't say this kind of thing often, but this man is fucking brilliant. 

Bill Maher last night on "Real Time":

Bamby Saturday

 On Twitter.

And Julia.

And Sara.

'Apocalyptic' American Nationalist Tucker Carlson (VIDEO)

I quit watching Tucker sometime last year --- and mind you, this was after months of watching his show religiously during the thick of the "pandemic spring" 2020.

First, I was just bored. But then I saw people freakin' out about how he'd become a "New Right" extremeist. Once he went to Hungary to air his program with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, all of my interest tanked. I can take a lot of populist nationalism, up to a point, but Tucker crossed the line.

So now, it turns out, the New York Times has published the first part of an investigative series on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," now trending at Memeorandum

Here, "How Tucker Carlson Stoked White Fear to Conquer Cable":

Tucker Carlson burst through the doors of Charlie Palmer Steak, enfolded in an entourage of producers and assistants, cellphone pressed to his ear. On the other end was Lachlan Murdoch, chairman of the Fox empire and his de facto boss.

Most of Fox’s Washington bureau, along with the cable network’s top executives, had gathered at the power-class steakhouse, a few blocks from the office, for their annual holiday party. Days earlier, Mr. Carlson had set off an uproar, claiming on air that mass immigration made America “poor and dirtier.” Blue-chip advertisers were fleeing. Within Fox, Mr. Carlson was widely viewed to have finally crossed some kind of line. Many wondered what price he might pay.

The answer became clear that night in December 2018: absolutely none.

When “Tucker Carlson Tonight” aired, Mr. Carlson doubled down, playing video of his earlier comments and citing a report from an Arizona government agency that said each illegal border crossing left up to eight pounds of litter in the desert. Afterward, on the way to the Christmas party, Mr. Carlson spoke directly with Mr. Murdoch, who praised his counterattack, according to a former Fox employee told of the exchange.

“We’re good,” Mr. Carlson said, grinning triumphantly, as he walked into the restaurant.

In the years since, Mr. Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news — and also, by some measures, the most successful. Though he frequently declares himself an enemy of prejudice — “We don’t judge them by group, and we don’t judge them on their race,” Mr. Carlson explained to an interviewer a few weeks before accusing impoverished immigrants of making America dirty — his show teaches loathing and fear. Night after night, hour by hour, Mr. Carlson warns his viewers that they inhabit a civilization under siege — by violent Black Lives Matter protesters in American cities, by diseased migrants from south of the border, by refugees importing alien cultures, and by tech companies and cultural elites who will silence them, or label them racist, if they complain. When refugees from Africa, numbering in the hundreds, began crossing into Texas from Mexico during the Trump administration, he warned that the continent’s high birthrates meant the new arrivals might soon “overwhelm our country and change it completely and forever.” Amid nationwide outrage over George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer, Mr. Carlson dismissed those protesting the killing as “criminal mobs.” Companies like Angie’s List and Papa John’s dropped their ads. The following month, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” became the highest-rated cable news show in history.

His encyclopedia of provocations has only expanded. Since the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Carlson has become the most visible and voluble defender of those who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol to keep Donald J. Trump in office, playing down the presence of white nationalists in the crowd and claiming the attack “barely rates as a footnote.” In February, as Western pundits and politicians lined up to condemn the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, for his impending invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Carlson invited his viewers to shift focus back to the true enemy at home. “Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist?” Mr. Carlson asked. “Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?” He was roundly labeled an apologist and Putin cheerleader, only to press ahead with segments that parroted Russian talking points and promoted Kremlin propaganda about purported Ukrainian bioweapons labs.

Alchemizing media power into political influence, Mr. Carlson stands in a nativist American tradition that runs from Father Coughlin to Patrick J. Buchanan. Now Mr. Carlson’s on-air technique — gleefully courting blowback, then fashioning himself as his aggrieved viewers’ partner in victimhood — has helped position him, as much as anyone, to inherit the populist movement that grew up around Mr. Trump. At a moment when white backlash is the jet fuel of a Republican Party striving to return to power in Washington, he has become the pre-eminent champion of Americans who feel most threatened by the rising power of Black and brown citizens. To channel their fear into ratings, Mr. Carlson has adopted the rhetorical tropes and exotic fixations of white nationalists, who have watched gleefully from the fringes of public life as he popularizes their ideas. Mr. Carlson sometimes refers to “legacy Americans,” a dog-whistle term that, before he began using it on his show last fall, appeared almost exclusively in white nationalist outlets like The Daily Stormer, The New York Times found. He takes up story lines otherwise relegated to far-right or nativist websites like VDare: “Tucker Carlson Tonight” has featured a string of segments about the gruesome murders of white farmers in South Africa, which Mr. Carlson suggested were part of a concerted campaign by that country’s Black-led government. Last April, Mr. Carlson set off yet another uproar, borrowing from a racist conspiracy theory known as “the great replacement” to argue that Democrats were deliberately importing “more obedient voters from the third world” to “replace” the current electorate and keep themselves in power. But a Times analysis of 1,150 episodes of his show found that it was far from the first time Mr. Carlson had done so.

“Tucker is ultimately on our side,” Scott Greer, a former deputy editor at the Carlson-founded Daily Caller, who cut ties with the publication in 2018 after his past writings for a white nationalist site were unearthed, said on his podcast last spring. “He can get millions and millions of boomers to nod along with talking points that would have only been seen on VDare or American Renaissance a few years ago.”

That pattern is no accident. To a degree not broadly appreciated outside Fox, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is the apex of a programming and editorial strategy that transformed the network during the Trump era, according to interviews with dozens of current and former Fox executives, producers and journalists. Like the Republican Party itself, Fox has sought to wring rising returns out of a slowly declining audience: the older white conservatives who make up Mr. Trump’s base and much of Fox’s core viewership. To minimize content that might tempt them to change the channel, Fox News has sidelined Trump-averse or left-leaning contributors. It has lost some of its most respected news journalists, most recently Chris Wallace, the longtime host of Fox’s flagship Sunday show. During the same period, according to former employees and journalists there, Fox has leaned harder into stories of illegal immigrants or nonwhite Americans caught in acts of crime or violence, often plucked from local news sites and turbocharged by the channel’s vast digital news operation. Network executives ordered up such coverage so relentlessly during the Trump years that some employees referred to it by a grim nickname: “brown menace.”

A Fox spokeswoman rejected those characterizations of the network’s strategy, pointing to coverage of stories like President Biden’s inauguration and the war in Ukraine, where a Fox cameraman was killed in March while on assignment. In a statement, Justin Wells, a senior executive producer overseeing Mr. Carlson’s show, defended the host’s rhetoric and choice of topics: “Tucker Carlson programming embraces diversity of thought and presents various points of view in an industry where contrarian thought and the search for truth are often ignored. Stories in ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ broadcasts and ‘Tucker Carlson Originals’ documentaries undergo a rigorous editorial process. We’re also proud of our ongoing original reporting at a time when most in the media amplify only one point of view.”

Mr. Carlson has led the network’s on-air transformation, becoming Fox’s most influential employee. Outside Fox, Mr. Carlson is bandied about as a potential candidate for president. Inside the network, he answers solely to the Murdochs themselves. With seeming impunity, Mr. Carlson has used his broadcast to attack Fox’s own news coverage, helping drive some journalists off the air and others, like the veteran Fox anchor Shepard Smith, to leave the network entirely. In Australia, the editors of some Murdoch-owned newspapers watch Mr. Carlson’s show religiously, believing it provides clues to Mr. Murdoch’s own views. According to former senior Fox employees, Mr. Carlson boasts of rarely speaking with Fox’s chief executive, Suzanne Scott, but talking or texting regularly with Mr. Murdoch. And in an extraordinary departure from the old Fox code, Mr. Carlson is exempt from the network’s fearsome media relations department, which under Roger Ailes, Fox’s founder, served to both defend the channel’s image and keep its talent in line.

Mr. Carlson is powerful at Fox not merely because he is the network’s face but because he is also its future — a star whose intensity and paranoid style work to bind viewers more closely to the Fox brand, helping lead them through the fragmented post-cable landscape...

This is what the Times does, publish these lurid portraits of basically someone who is right now totally mainstream --- *the* mainstream. I mean, there's a reason he's the most popular cable host on T.V. 

And the Times will float off leftist conspiracy talking points and half-baked attacks that don't pass the most rudimentary fact checks. 

For instance, when asked during Senate testimony if there were chemical weapons biolabs in Ukraine, Victory Nuland --- the Biden administration's Undersecretary of State for Affairs --- confirmed Ukraine's research facilities, saying, "Ukraine has biological research facilities which, in fact, we are quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to, ah, gain control of --- so we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials to fall into the hands of, ah, Russia forces..."

You don't get more high-up confirmation on that unless it's coming out of the president's mouth himself. 

This woman is a State Department veteran going back two decades, and was Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. She knows *exactly* what's going on over there, and in fact, she's been one of the most important U.S. governmental officials entangling U.S. foreign policy in the Ukraine-Russia crisis' long-running morass. 

All of this is fresh-baked propaganda for the politicos and party hacks of the Democratic Party left. It's all battlespace preparation ahead of November. Fuck 'em.

Whatever, there's more at the link.

Also, "Inside the Apocalyptic Worldview of ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’." 


Heh, @Catturd2 made to #8 trending today.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Kara Swisher on Elon Musk

Following-up, "Space-X Falcon 9 Launches 53 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit (VIDEO)."

Via Twitter (and with Kara Swisher here). 

Space-X Falcon 9 Launches 53 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit (VIDEO)

Hey, the guy bought Twitter, but as the owner of Space-X and other big properties, can he keep all his balls in the air?


Stocks Skidded Friday, Dow Dropping More Than 900 Points in Broad Investor Selloff

Shoot, another week like this one and the Dow will be in correction territory. My funds squeaked out of the first quarter with a mild $500 loss, but if this keeps going, I'll be taken to the cleaners --- and imagine how everybody else feels! 

Oh boy this is going to be a rocky year, just in time for the November midterms!

At CNBC, "Dow plunges more than 900 points for its worst day since 2020, falls for a fourth straight week":

And at the Wall Street Journal, "Tech Rout Drags Nasdaq to Worst Month Since 2008":

Tech-heavy index slid more than 4% Friday, bringing its losses for month to 13%.

An April rout in technology stocks deepened Friday, dragging the Nasdaq Composite to its worst monthly performance in more than a decade, as soaring inflation and rising interest rates fanned worries of a recession.

The broad selloff has erased trillions of dollars in market value from the tech-heavy gauge, with investors souring on shares of everything from software and semiconductor companies to social-media giants.

The Nasdaq dropped 4.2% Friday, bringing its losses for the month to more than 13%, its worst showing since October 2008. The index is down 21% in 2022, its worst start to a year on record.

The broader S&P 500 has fallen for four consecutive weeks, shedding 8.8% in April and bringing its year-to-date losses to 13%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.9% this month and is down more than 9% this year. Both indexes logged their worst months since March 2020.

The punishing declines in tech and growth stocks mark a dramatic shift from recent years. Investors have ditched shares of some of the biggest tech companies, which had been stock-market darlings for much of the past decade and propelled the indexes’ gains from the pandemic lows.

Within just a few months, some of the most reliable winners morphed into losers. Netflix dropped 49% in April. Nvidia fell 32%. And PayPal Holdings declined 24%. All three stocks are down more than 35% in 2022.

Worries about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, soaring inflation and the path of the economy have brought stocks sharply lower from the record levels at which they started the year. Many pandemic-era winners also have come falling back to earth as consumer tastes have evolved since 2020. And recently, earnings season has been dotted with some high-profile disappointments, delivering head-spinning one-day stock moves following the reports.

“We’re going into a higher volatility regime, when fundamentals matter again,” said Aashish Vyas, investment director at Resonanz Capital. “It does seem like we are at a systemic shift.”

The FAANG stocks, consisting of the popular quintet of Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Apple,, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet, have collectively lost more than $1 trillion in market value this month, the most since Facebook started trading in May 2012.

Investors say they will be tracking the next batch of earnings results in coming days for signs of slowing growth from other companies. So far, corporate profits are on track to rise 7% for the quarter, according to FactSet, the lowest year-over-year earnings growth rate since the last quarter of 2020....

The latest gross domestic product data showed that the economy recently contracted for the first time since early in the pandemic. Meanwhile, inflation accelerated in March to its fastest pace since 1982, measured by the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge.

Despite higher prices, U.S. consumer spending for March increased 1.1% from the prior month, showing that American households are absorbing high inflation. Some investors say shares of some tech companies look attractive after the recent selloff, and that they would consider stepping in to buy shares. The Nasdaq is now down 23% from its high and trading at levels not seen since 2020.

Friday’s losses in the stock market accelerated into the closing bell, which some traders attributed to technical factors such as hedging activity and trading by leveraged exchange-traded products. The Dow sank more than 900 points, or 2.8%, and the S&P declined 3.6%...


Congressional Midterms: Democrats Weak on Key Issues; Republicans Perceived as Party Better Able to Deal With Top Issues

At Marist, "NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll: The 2022 Midterms & Biden’s Job Performance, April 2022":

The big question at this point is how many seats Republicans will gain. They picked up 64 seats in the House in 2010, and 54 in 1994. I haven't paid attention to the Senate. Can they pick up 10 seats and get to a filibuster-proof majority? This year's the year if there was one.

And from a couple of weeks ago, Larry Sabato, "Are Democrats Headed for a Shellacking in the Midterm Election?":

There appears to be a growing consensus among pundits and political observers that Democrats are likely to experience a shellacking in the 2022 midterm elections, especially in the House of Representatives. According to observers such as Chuck Todd and Mark Murray of NBC News, a number of indicators are now pointing toward major losses for Democrats, especially President Biden’s poor approval rating and the large proportion of Americans who believe that the country is currently on the wrong track or headed in the wrong direction...

Still more.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Adam Tooze, Shutdown

At Amazon, Adam Tooze, Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World's Economy.

Oh Brother, Here We Go: Los Angeles Coronavirus Cases Up 40 Percent in One Week

L.A. County kept its mask mandate in place longer than just about everywhere else in the state, and in fact, when the O.C. dropped its mandate, L.A. reimposed theirs (which was ridiculous; they wouldn't even sell me a book at the Burbank Barnes and Noble last summer, unless I masked up; so stupid).

And the City of Long Beach is also muthaf***ing strict, so my college keeps the indoor mask mandate right now. Oh brother. I can see yet another fall semester coming with all the students in face coverings. If you cannot see each others faces, it's much harder to learn. Everyone knows this. It's gotta be about power at this point, and that's shameful.

At LAT, "L.A. coronavirus cases up 40% in one week; hospitalizations rising, too":

Coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County rose by 40% over the past week and hospitalizations have started to creep up as well, underscoring how important it is for people to be up-to-date on their vaccines and boosters, as well as wear masks in indoor public settings, officials said.

Although neither the number of infections nor the patient census are setting off alarm bells just yet, the trendlines illustrate that the county is contending with reinvigorated coronavirus transmission. And for county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who called the increase in cases “pretty significant,” they reinforce the importance of taking individual actions to thwart the spread.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve all had to make choices about how to best protect ourselves and others from COVID-19,” she told reporters Thursday. “With cases on the rise, the potential for more contagious variants and lots of opportunities to be exposed, this is a great time to make a choice to get vaccinated or boosted and to wear a mask or respirator when you’re indoors and around others.”

Over the last week, L.A. County has reported an average of about 1,764 new coronavirus cases per day — up from 1,261 a week ago.

The latest number is double the 879 cases a day L.A. County was reporting in early April.

On a per capita basis, the county’s case rate has risen to 122 cases a week for every 100,000 residents. L.A. County’s case rate exceeded 100 over the weekend, meaning the nation’s most populous county is again experiencing a high rate of transmission for the first time since early March.

Perhaps more concerningly, the number of coronavirus-positive patients hospitalized countywide has also risen this week following months of steady decline.

On Wednesday, 249 such individuals were hospitalized countywide. Five days earlier, on Friday, the count was 209: the lowest single-day total for the county since the pandemic began, state data show.

Since the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus in December, officials have noted that many infections have tended to result in relatively mild illness — forging an environment where case counts were sky high, but the share of people being hospitalized with COVID-19 was lower than in the pandemic’s previous waves.

For instance, during the peak of the winter Omicron wave, 1.2% of coronavirus cases in L.A. County were hospitalized; by contrast, during last summer’s Delta wave, 5.6% of cases were hospitalized.

Nevertheless, the sheer infectivity of Omicron stretched some hospitals throughout the state to their limit. And in the months since the last surge subsided, new even-more-contagious subvariants of Omicron have emerged — including BA.2 and, more recently, BA.2.12.1.

BA.2 is the primary culprit behind the uptick in cases in L.A. County, accounting for at least 88% of cases here, officials say.

BA.2.12.1 has spawned similar increases elsewhere in the U.S., and accounts for a majority of coronavirus cases in New York and New Jersey. California officials have projected that BA.2.12.1 will also account for a majority of coronavirus cases in California within a few days, according to Ferrer.

BA.2.12.1 is estimated to be 25% more contagious than BA.2. “With that growth advantage, it could quickly become the dominant strain across the United States,” Ferrer said...

Barbara Ferrar, pfft. She's like a Soviet psychiatrist locking everyone up for "mental defects," i.e., wrong think. 

I guess the upside is that even in California people are over it and even lefty voters will be bringing the hammer when they hit the polls. I really can't wait until November.

Still more.

Inside Twitter, Fears Musk Will Return Platform to Its Early Troubles

Yep, there's a tremendous level of fear back at HQ. It's freaky. 

I mean, all this time our Twitter overlords were making the site a "safe space" for their cuckolds and non-binary gender non-conforming psychiatric outpatients (especially their confused, dsyphoric young women with social contagion). And now with Boss Elon recalibrating the shots, it's the end of the world as they know it.

Nah I say ... just wait till November, for the congressional midterm earthquake and concomitant tsunami that washes Pelosi and the Democrats out to sea. It'll be great --- all those 2016 crying-scream-memes were getting a bit old anyway.

At the New York Times, "Content moderators warn that Elon Musk doesn’t appear to understand the issues that he and the company will face if he drops its guardrails around speech":

Elon Musk had a plan to buy Twitter and undo its content moderation policies. On Tuesday, just a day after reaching his $44 billion deal to buy the company, Mr. Musk was already at work on his agenda. He tweeted that past moderation decisions by a top Twitter lawyer were “obviously incredibly inappropriate.” Later, he shared a meme mocking the lawyer, sparking a torrent of attacks from other Twitter users.

Mr. Musk’s personal critique was a rough reminder of what faces employees who create and enforce Twitter’s complex content moderation policies. His vision for the company would take it right back to where it started, employees said, and force Twitter to relive the last decade.

Twitter executives who created the rules said they had once held views about online speech that were similar to Mr. Musk’s. They believed Twitter’s policies should be limited, mimicking local laws. But more than a decade of grappling with violence, harassment and election tampering changed their minds. Now, many executives at Twitter and other social media companies view their content moderation policies as essential safeguards to protect speech.

The question is whether Mr. Musk, too, will change his mind when confronted with the darkest corners of Twitter.

“You have said that you want more ‘free speech’ and less moderation on Twitter. What will this mean in practice?” Twitter employees wrote in an internal list of questions they hoped to ask Mr. Musk, which was seen by The New York Times.

Another question asked: “Some people interpret your arguments in defense of free speech as a desire to open the door back up for harassment. Is that true? And if not, do you have ideas for how to both increase free speech and keep the door closed on harassment?”

Mr. Musk has been unmoved by warnings that his plans are misguided. “The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

He went on to criticize the work of Vijaya Gadde and Jim Baker, two of Twitter’s top lawyers. Ms. Gadde has led Twitter’s policy teams for more than a decade, often handling complicated moderation decisions, including the decision to cut off Donald J. Trump near the end of his term as president. A former general counsel for the F.B.I., Mr. Baker joined Twitter in 2020.

Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, did not directly respond to the criticism, but in a tweet he wrote, “Proud of our people who continue to do the work with focus and urgency despite the noise.”

Employees of Twitter and other social media companies said that Mr. Musk seemed to understand little about Twitter’s approach to content moderation and the problems that had led to its rules — or that he just didn’t care. Some of the suggestions he has made, like labeling automated accounts, were in place before Mr. Musk launched his bid.

“He’s basically buying the position of being a rule-maker and a speech arbiter,” said David Kaye, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who worked with the United Nations on speech issues. “That has been really fraught for everybody who’s been in that position.”

In its early years as a small start-up, Twitter was governed by one philosophy: The tweets must flow. That meant Twitter did little to moderate the conversations on its platform.

Twitter’s founders took their cues from Blogger, the publishing platform, owned by Google, that several of them had helped build. They believed that any reprehensible content would be countered or drowned out by other users, said three employees who worked at Twitter during that time.

“There’s a certain amount of idealistic zeal that you have: ‘If people just embrace it as a platform of self-expression, amazing things will happen,’” said Jason Goldman, who was on Twitter’s founding team and served on its board of directors. “That mission is valuable, but it blinds you to think certain bad things that happen are bugs rather than equally weighted uses of the platform.”

The company typically removed content only if it contained spam, or violated American laws forbidding child exploitation and other criminal acts.

In 2008, Twitter hired Del Harvey, its 25th employee and the first person it assigned the challenge of moderating content full time. The Arab Spring protests started in 2010, and Twitter became a megaphone for activists, reinforcing many employees’ belief that good speech would win out online. But Twitter’s power as a tool for harassment became clear in 2014 when it became the epicenter of Gamergate, a mass harassment campaign that flooded women in the video game industry with death and rape threats.

“If there are no rules against abuse and harassment, some people are at risk of being bullied into silence, and then you don’t get the benefit of their voice, their perspective, their free expression,” said Colin Crowell, Twitter’s former head of global public policy, who left the company in 2019.

In response, Twitter began expanding its policies...

More at that top link, and, on "Gamergate," see the Other McCain, "GamerGate And Why It Matters To Conservatives."

Deep Blue Babe

BUMPED: I needed to post this back up top, as I messed up Ms. Julia's link.


On Twitter.

Plus, MrsTrixie.

And Julia Rose.

Video Shows Moment Before 'Rust' Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins' Death (VIDEO)

On Twitter, "The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has released evidence related to the deadly shooting on “Rust” movie set in New Mexico last year. Included is this clip of the scene where the film’s cinematographer was killed by a gun in Alec Baldwin’s hands."

Baldwin is shown pulling the trigger without a doubt, contradicting his claims that "I didn't pull the trigger..."

And at the Los Angeles Times, "Hutchins family surprised by massive ‘Rust’ data dump, calls for discretion":

The family of Halyna Hutchins was taken aback by the extraordinary data dump from the “Rust” movie set shooting investigation released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office Monday.

The rising star cinematographer‘s final moments were captured on film released by the authorities, as she fought for her life after Alec Baldwin accidentally shot her on the set of the low-budget western last fall. Included in the haul were personal details such as social security numbers and home phone numbers of other crew members.

Lawyers for the Hutchins family, who have filed a wrongful-death suit against Baldwin and the production, called for restraint in sharing the footage.

“We were surprised by the decision of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office to release such a large amount of evidence given that the investigation is still ongoing and active,” Brian Panish, attorney for the Hutchins family, said in a statement. “We hope the press will exercise discretion in how they use the graphic images and videos of the fatal events.”

Hutchins’ death sent shockwaves through the film industry, which is still grappling with how to respond to the accident. Hollywood has not seen a case like this since 2014, when Sarah Jones, a camera assistant, was killed during unauthorized filming on a train track in Georgia.

The fact that a household name such as Baldwin pulled the trigger on the prop gun, killing the mother of one, has brought intense scrutiny to the investigation.

Legal experts said the amount of information released was unprecedented: It included a 204-page case report, several videos of witness interviews, dash cam footage from officers arriving at the set and crime scene photos.

“This is just something that you don’t see,” criminal defense attorney Joshua Ritter, a former prosecutor with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, said in an interview. “We’re not talking about a few hand-picked reports or videos, but it’s almost like they’ve released their entire file and it’s just remarkable to me.”

He added that the move would put the New Mexico district attorney in an “untenable” position. “They’ve almost invited public opinion to weigh in on whether or not they think criminal charges are strong or not,” Ritter said.

The Sheriff’s Office said that the release of the information was in reaction to requests for records, which it is required to comply with under New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act. The law requires that the public and media get access to public information.

“We had received many requests for the information since the beginning of the investigation back in October when the incident occurred and it took us a lot of time to compile the data,” Juan Rios, a spokesperson for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, said Tuesday. “When information is requested in New Mexico that is a public record, which these files are, we’re obligated to release them.”

The release, which included all the information the office has, was not any indication of the timing of any charges that might be filed, Rios said in an interview.

Not included in the release are FBI firearm and ballistic forensics along with DNA and latent fingerprint analysis, the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator findings report, and the analysis of Baldwin’s phone data, which the Sheriff’s Office has yet to receive.

The decision to release the documents was made by Sheriff Adan Mendoza, Rios said. He confirmed that the release included telephone numbers and social security numbers that had not been redacted and that anyone who had requested the records received them.

New Mexico has a victim’s rights law that requires that victims be treated with fairness and with dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice process, as well as timely disposition of the case. Rios said the data release was in compliance with New Mexico law.

Lisa Torraco, attorney for “Rust” assistant director David Halls, said the Sheriff’s Office was negligent in releasing the information.

“We are very very disappointed the sheriff released personal information,” Torraco said in a statement...

Keep reading.


College-Educated Workers Head to Amazon, Starbucks, Looking for Jobs

And REI as well.

Hey, "creative destruction," and all that!

The makings of a new American college-educated proletariat!

At the New York Times, "The Revolt of the College-Educated Working Class":

Over the past decade-and-a-half, many young, college-educated workers have faced a disturbing reality: that it was harder for them to reach the middle class than for previous generations. The change has had profound effects — driving shifts in the country’s politics and mobilizing employees to demand fairer treatment at work. It may also be giving the labor movement its biggest lift in decades.

Members of this college-educated working class typically earn less money than they envisioned when they went off to school. “It’s not like anyone is expecting to make six figures,” said Tyler Mulholland, who earns about $23 an hour as a sales lead at REI, the outdoor equipment retailer, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. “But when it’s snow storming at 11:30 at night, I don’t want to have to think, ‘Is the Uber home going to make a difference in my weekly budget?’”

In many cases, the workers have endured bouts of unemployment. After Clint Shiflett, who holds an associate degree in computer science, lost his job installing satellite dishes in early 2020, he found a cheaper place to live and survived on unemployment insurance for months. He was eventually hired at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, where he initially made about $17.50 an hour working the overnight shift.

And they complain of being trapped in jobs that don’t make good use of their skills. Liz Alanna, who holds a bachelor’s in music education and a master’s in opera performance, began working at Starbucks while auditioning for music productions in the early 2010s. She stayed with the company to preserve her health insurance after getting married and having children.

“I don’t think I should have to have a certain job just so I can have health care,” Ms. Alanna said. “I could be doing other types of jobs that might fall better in my wheelhouse.”

These experiences, which economic research shows became more common after the Great Recession, appear to have united many young college-educated workers around two core beliefs: They have a sense that the economic grand bargain available to their parents — go to college, work hard, enjoy a comfortable lifestyle — has broken down. And they see unionizing as a way to resurrect it.

Support for labor unions among college graduates has increased from 55 percent in the late 1990s to around 70 percent in the last few years, and is even higher among younger college graduates, according to data provided by Gallup. “I think a union was really kind of my only option to make this a viable choice for myself and other people,” said Mr. Mulholland, 32, who helped lead the campaign to unionize his Manhattan REI store in March. Mr. Shiflett and Ms. Alanna have also been active in the campaigns to unionize their workplaces.

And those efforts, in turn, may help explain an upsurge for organized labor, with filings for union elections up more than 50 percent over a similar period one year ago.

Though a minority at most nonprofessional workplaces, college-educated workers are playing a key role in propelling them toward unionization, experts say, because the college-educated often feel empowered in ways that others don’t. “There’s a class confidence, I would call it,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist of labor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. “A broader worldview that encompasses more than getting through the day.”

While other workers at companies like Starbucks and Amazon are also supportive of unions and sometimes take the initiative in forming them, the presence of the college-educated in these jobs means there is a “layer of people who particularly have their antennae up,” Ms. Milkman added. “There is an additional layer of leadership.”

That workers who attended college would be attracted to nonprofessional jobs at REI, Starbucks and Amazon is not entirely surprising. Over the past decade, the companies’ appetite for workers has grown substantially. Starbucks increased its global work force to nearly 385,000 last year from about 135,000 in 2010. Amazon’s work force swelled to 1.6 million from 35,000 during that period.

The companies appeal to affluent and well-educated consumers. And they offer solid wages and benefits for their industries — even, for that matter, compared with some other industries that employ the college-educated...

Still more.


U.S. Economy Shrank 1.4 Percent in Weakest Quarter Since 2020

Let's Go Brandon!

At the Wall Street Journal, "U.S. GDP Falls 1.4% as Economy Shrinks for First Time Since Early in Pandemic":

Supply disruptions weighed on the economy, but consumers and businesses continue to spend.

The U.S. economy shrank at a 1.4% annual rate in the first quarter as supply disruptions weighed on output, though solid consumer and business spending suggest growth will resume.

The decline in U.S. gross domestic product marked a sharp reversal from a 6.9% annual growth rate in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The first quarter was the weakest since spring 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic and related shutdowns drove the U.S. economy into a deep—albeit short—recession.

The drop stemmed from a widening trade deficit, with the U.S. importing far more than it exports. A slower pace of inventory investment by businesses in the first quarter—compared with a rapid buildup of inventories at the end of last year—also pushed growth lower. In addition, fading government stimulus spending related to the pandemic weighed on GDP.

Consumer spending, the economy’s main driver, rose at a 2.7% annual rate in the first quarter, a slight acceleration from the end of last year. Businesses also poured more money into equipment and research and development, triggering a 9.2% rise in business spending.

“The most important aspects of the domestic economy held up better than they did at the end of 2021, when growth was soaring,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, in a note.

Two years after the pandemic struck, the U.S. economy faces challenges, including supply disruptions related to the pandemic and Ukraine war, labor shortages and high inflation. Central bank officials lifted their benchmark rate in March by a quarter percentage point from near zero to tame inflation, and they have signaled more increases are likely to follow.

Many economists think that the economy can withstand higher interest rates and return to modest growth in the second quarter and beyond, in part because consumers and businesses are continuing to spend.

Americans are spending more on services amid lower Covid-19 case totals and the lifting of remaining pandemic restrictions. Travel is one key example: Hotel occupancy rates are up from January, and more people are also boarding planes.

George Lewis, co-owner of Brass Lantern Inn in Stowe, Vt., is seeing a surge in demand. Visits to his bed-and-breakfast on Maple Street are running strong with rooms selling out some weekends this spring, a sharp shift from earlier in the pandemic when the inn relied on small-business aid to survive.

“People have called up: ‘Are you really sold out?’ ” Mr. Lewis said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re really sold out.’ ”

Still, Mr. Lewis is more concerned about business next year. For one, it isn’t clear where inflation will be, he said. Prices have already risen briskly for heating oil to warm rooms, as well as for the cheddar cheese Mr. Lewis uses in egg strata, a breakfast casserole he serves up on Saturdays.

Consumer spending is another wild card, he added.

“We don’t know what people’s pocketbooks can accommodate after this year,” he said. “Some people are spending…independent of what the cost is.”

Looking ahead, economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate GDP rising 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2022 from a year earlier, matching 2019 annual growth, but logging in well below 5.5% growth recorded last year.

The labor market is a key source of economic strength right now. Jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—have been near historic lows and fell last week to 180,000 as employers clung to employees amid a shortage of available workers. Businesses are hiring and ramping up wages, supporting consumer spending.

High inflation, though, is cutting into households’ purchasing power. Consumer prices rose 8.5% in March from a year earlier, a four-decade high. Elevated inflation is wiping away pay gains for many workers: average hourly earnings were up 5.6% over the same period.

Fast-rising prices are also challenging many businesses...


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

MSNBC's Joy Reid Completely Tanked in April

I have actually never watched her show. I see too many people posting her deranged racist idiocy on Twitter. That's more than enough.

Turns out I'm not the only one. Maybe she's become even more deranged, racist, and idiotic in recent weeks, as it's become clear the left is in *a lot* of trouble this year.

At Fox News, "MSNBC’s Joy Reid has lowest-rated month ever, sheds 51% of debut audience from 2020: Poor viewership didn’t stop the MSNBC host from making headlines with outlandish comments."

How the Elites Lost the Twitter War

From David Auerbach, at UnHerd, "Elon Musk has sided with the rabble":

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is a litmus test of where you stand in the online ecosystem. To some, it means a dawn of “free speech” on a platform that has increasingly cracked down on unwanted views. To others, it means the takeover of a valuable public forum by a capricious and unaccountable oligarch.

Triumphalism and horror abound, but both responses are a distraction. While it is difficult to predict exactly what Musk will do with Twitter (he has announced his intention to soften content moderation and make the algorithm open-source, but only time can tell on both), what his purchase represents is considerably clearer: it is a major flashpoint in the shift from a centralised culture of public elites to a more decentralised, chaotic, and devolved world.

In this context, debates about free speech and accountability miss the point. There was nowhere near this much panic when Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post in 2013. Nor, for that matter, do people worry about the fact that Warner Bros Discovery owns CNN or that Comcast owns MSNBC. So why all the hoopla about Musk?

There are two reasons for the excitement. The first is related to Musk himself: his perceived character and affiliations. Elite media and progressive circles tend to regard him as more dangerous than Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos not because he is richer or more powerful, but because he is more culturally aligned with various deplorables, from crypto-bros to MAGA-heads to Joe Rogan.

This perception helps to explain the fretting over Musk’s claim to be a “free speech absolutist”, which human rights groups have warned could usher in a torrent of online hate. But whether or not you think unrestricted free speech is a good thing, it is unlikely to be put into practice. There is widespread agreement that unmoderated public forums are completely unmanageable due to trolling and abuse, and any administrator of any social media platform will have to engage in some filtering or censoring. The worry is about what kinds of speech he will and won’t let through.

The second reason relates to Twitter’s tenuous role in preserving an established national elite in an age in which the very idea of such an elite is dying. Twitter has in recent years, just like the internet itself, bifurcated into two broad strata: a national “overculture” of elites — academic, celebrity, political, or journalistic — and a more shadowy, disparate “underculture” of often-pseudonymous hoi polloi, who increasingly define themselves in opposition to the traditional elites.

For many years now, the undercultures of Reddit, 4chan, and other online forums have made the idea of a respectable, professionalised online discourse more difficult to maintain. And the ability of the underculture to mobilise masses of anonymous users to push against the elevated voices of the overculture has shaken the established media culture to the bone.

This dynamic was on display last week in the conflict between Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz and the formerly anonymous Libs of TikTok Twitter account...

Keep reading.

A Tyranny of Moral Minorities

From Sultan Knish, at FrontPage Magazine, "When the will of 2% of the country is imposed on the other 98%":

When pilots and flight attendants announced the end of the mask mandate in-flight, most passengers cheered. Everyone except the media which claimed the masked were the victims.

Biden, in an unexpected moment of sanity, said, "it's up to them” whether people wear masks.

But since Biden has as much impact on the policy of his administration as the shoeshine guy at Union Station, the DOJ and the CDC have triggered a legal challenge to the federal court ruling.

Biden and the entire D.C. elite don’t like wearing masks. Most people don’t. Universal masking is mandated to accommodate a vocal minority, most of whom are not immunocompromised or otherwise especially vulnerable, but who still demand that everyone accommodate them.

This tyranny of minorities has long since come to define the Democrat coalition which knits together single-issue victimhood voters whose pet issue, whether it’s police shootings, green energy, racial justice, men pretending they’re women, or the right of teachers to sexually indoctrinate kindergartners against the wishes of their parents, must take precedence.

That is why the Biden administration will fight for an otherwise unpopular mask mandate.

Democrat political authority comes from the moral authority of defending oppressed minorities. The old Democrat party which asserted that it represented an oppressed majority being kept down by men of wealth has made way for a coalition of increasingly implausible minorities.

That’s the wide gap between the party of Jackson and of Obama. And it’s Obama’s party now.

Beyond the racial minorities of the civil rights movement, the moral minority consists of wealthy white elites, their sexual fetishes, cultural obsessions, and neurotic tics. Masking is just the latest neurotic tic that the decadent element that makes up its ruling base demands of all of us.

From police defunding to mandatory masking to men roleplaying as women, the outré demands are a minority even within the Democrat coalition. But the minority of minorities, by banding together, take something that only 2% of the country might want and turn it into something that the 31% of Americans who identify as Democrats are obligated to support on the party line.

And if the Democrats win, the will of the 2% is ruthlessly imposed on the 98%.

Each minority horse trades intersectional political acceptance for its cause in exchange for supporting everyone else’s causes. The black nationalists get slavery reparations and police defunding while the men who wear dresses get to be on the women’s swim team. Feminists get abortion until the last nanosecond of birth and environmentalists can have the EPA regulate backyard puddles. And wealthy hipster remote workers can make everyone wear masks.

Everyone gets what they want but the tradeoff is they all get even more things they don’t.

Fanatics and extremists are willing to make that tradeoff while terrorizing everyone else. The echo chamber of cancel culture is really a cooperative of crazies acting in concert to protect their own special privilege because they know perfectly well that in a healthy society and political culture their brand of insanity would never receive a hearing, let alone a mandate.

And they know that their best offense is by destroying norms to normalize their insanity.

The minority of minorities coalition forces Democrats to accept crazy premises and then to vocally defend them even when they don’t believe in them. Civil rights, once rooted in recognizable arguments about racial equality, has soured into esoteric culture wars. The simplicity of lunch counter sit-ins has given way, as it was always going to, to deconstructionist lists of grievances written by academic committees with their own specialized vocabularies.

Leftists still speak with the moral authority of victimhood even when they’re millionaires, but the moral language, once so clear and simple, pitting workers against bosses, black protesters against fire hoses, continues to be appropriated for every new incomprehensible cause.

Obama’s rise promised to revive the old moral assertions of civil rights for a new generation, instead he buried them under new layers of irony, postmodern exercises in egotistical empowerment, and deconstructionism, delighting the media while alienating Americans.

In the Biden era, the moral assertions weaponized for social media have become fumblingly ineffective. The Left declares that it must wield power in order to protect the power of corporations like Disney and the right of teachers to push sex ed to kindergartners. The remoteness of these causes from any classic paradigm of the oppressors and the oppressed reflects the distance that the Democrats have traveled from any notion of democracy.

The tyranny of minorities also ‘minoritizes’ morality into siloed causes that few can relate to.

Intersectionality labors to sell the various causes to those who have already bought into the coalition. The entertainment industry rushes to turn the incomprehensible trending mishmash of causes categorized as identity politics talking points into songs and shows to sway the public.

Morality requires universally agreed on values which moral minorities attack at every turn. The great effort to transform the existence of moral minorities into its own moral authority through intersectionality requires unsustainable amounts of messaging and outright intimidation. Cancel culture terrorizes people into not speaking or even thinking for fear they’ll run afoul of constantly changing codes that no one except their cultural oppressors can even keep track of.

Totalitarian states deploy mass propaganda like this either at the height of enthusiasm for their revolutions or at their insecure decline when everyone is starting to lose faith in the revolution. And it’s been a generation since even the faithful believe in the cause rather than the anti-cause characterized by a rotating cast of conservative hate objects in the media and social media.

The best evidence that the minority of minorities cause has become incomprehensible even to its adherents is the extent to which it relies on anti-cause outrages rather than a utopian vision.

What does the Biden administration stand for? What are MSNBC, Jon Stewart, and their cast of celebrity activists fighting for? Tellingly, the very title of Stewart’s failed new Apple TV show, The Problem with Jon Stewart, signaled this inability to articulate a positive vision of his politics.

A country faced with real problems has less patience for the moral narcissism of elites.

The tyranny of moral minorities uses an assembly line of victimhood to assert their right to absolute power, but both the causes and the problems have become alien to the crises, inflation, crime, and despair, that threaten to dominate the American body and soul.

The Old Left could have met economic crises with class warfare, but the Postmodern Left has lost any tenuous hold it ever had on economic issues. Even its familiar prescriptions of social welfare are centered around the preoccupations of its coalition with green energy nuttery, racial equity supremacy, and gender and transgender politics so that mere economics takes a backseat to what has become the far more exciting Marxism that puts identity over money.

How can you do class warfare when you’ve become a movement of billionaires whose supreme causes are electric cars that cost more than the average annual income, the sexual fetishes of wealthy men, and the fussiness of remote workers who don’t like being around other people?

It’s getting increasingly hard to disguise the fact that leftist revolutions aren’t about liberating the majority, but about enslaving it to the cultural obsessions of a tiny minority.

You can only dress up the tyranny of an upper class in oppressed drag for so long.

The moral minorities aren’t out to liberate anyone, including themselves, but to force everyone to use the words they want, to eat and dress like them, and to live like them.

There’s a leftist term for that, it isn’t revolution or liberation: it’s colonialism.

When 2% of the country gets to tell everyone else how to live, that’s true oppression.

Now their masks, literal and metaphorical, are coming off and they fear that more than anything else because power can simply be defined as a question of who has to accommodate whom?

In the sky or on the ground, in the classroom or the office, the answer is all too clear.

Israel Lives

 Emily Schrader, on Twitter.

Just Keep It Off My Timeline!

It's the great Freddie DeBoer, "This really gives the game away, if you think for five minutes"...

There are plenty of models for where this site is likely headed. I'm on those sites all day. I cover extremism and lies for a living. You're not gonna like it.

Nowadays “left” opposition to free speech in principle is more or less explicit, though not coherent. As I’ve documented before, a core dynamic in left-of-center American politics is the transition from “lol that’s not happening” to “lol of course that’s happening and it’s good.” Extreme social justice ideals from cultural studies departments were never going to spread outside of campus, you dumb idiot, and then they did, and suddenly they always knew that would happen and were in favor of it. Free speech is in the awkward zone in between, where lots of liberals will dutifully argue that they’re the ones fighting for free speech while many of their fellow travelers are insisting that free speech is an inherently reactionary concept. The cool thing now is to put free speech in sneer quotes, which ensures that other left-of-center people know you’re one of the good ones. It does not, I’m afraid, represent clarity about what they actually believe the correct perspective on speech should be.

Anyway, it’s important to remember that the original justification for left censorship was that they were only interested in getting rid of the really noxious stuff - literal fascism, literal white supremacy. You don’t want literal fascism on the internet, do you?? You know how that movie goes: what they consider literal fascism just grew over time, so that things that were perfectly common conservative positions 10 years ago now fall under that umbrella, and whatever simplicity and limitation that rule contained is gone. It’s led us to a place where discussing factually correct reporting on Hunter Biden was banned on social networks, as was criticizing Anthony Fauci, whose leadership is certainly questionable and who by admission has worked on horrific experiments on lab animals. Meanwhile, as Collins’s tweet here points out explicitly, the most noxious stuff still flourishes online.

So here’s the question, Ben: if you acknowledge that far-right sentiment flourishes on the internet in many places, what does keeping it off of Twitter accomplish? If the ideas and arguments and symbolism of fascism and white supremacy can be traded on the internet elsewhere, what are you preventing from getting more and more censorious on major social networks? Do you think people are going to go to Twitter to treat it like Stormfront, find themselves censored, and just give up? People like Collins believe that far-right sentiment is very prevalent and dangerous, that’s his job description. So in what world does a Twitter ban function as any sort of check on that? What’s the idea here?

Last year I wrote a piece making the simple point that heavyhanded attempts to censor extremism are bound to fail because the flow of information cannot be stopped in the digital era - that we can’t ban ideas, as a matter of fact, so there’s no matter of principle to discuss. Should we stop the free flow of ideas is a meaningless question because we can’t. France and Germany’s decades-old laws against far-right arguments and organizations have failed entirely to prevent extremism in those countries. Drug cartels communicate around the world effortlessly. When ISIS was being pursued by the entirety of the Western military and intelligence establishment, they still actively recruited. In English! They got white middle-class teenagers to fly to goddamn Syria to sign up! And you’re telling me that tweaking Twitter’s terms of service is going to eliminate the ideology that wasn’t ended by a war that killed 4% of the world’s population? What the fuck are we talking about here?

No, liberals and leftists are afraid of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter not because they think it will contribute to right-wing extremism, which exists and always has and always will but which is also far more marginal than they like to pretend. They’re afraid because Twitter is where they perform the personalities they lack in real life, where they act like the confident and clever people they patently aren’t, and where they pretend to do politics by telling the same terrible jokes, over and over, while the political “movement” they represent remains totally powerless and reviled. Twitter, in other words, is where they wage busy little PMC lives. And they’d prefer that space be pleasant for them. They have eliminated the existence of any contrary opinion in their personal lives and private lives, and now they want to do the same in Twitter, which as sad as it is to say is the center of their emotional lives. Which is why it’ll never stop at “the really bad stuff.” The things that liberals believe should be eliminated from social media have grown and grown as time has gone on, and will continue to grow. Eventually people will say that those who disagree with them about the correct size of the Earned Income Tax Deduction are literal fascists...

Still more.


Change at New York Times Book Review

A great piece, at the Nation, "The New York Times Book Review at a Crossroads."

COVID-19 Policies Wrecked Public School Enrollment and Student Outcomes

See Matt Welch, at Reason, "The kids never came back to big-city public schools, and now districts face budgetary 'Armageddon'."

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Ilisa Barbash, Molly Rogers, and Deborah Willis, eds., To Make Their Own Way in the World

At Amazon, Ilisa Barbash, Molly Rogers, and Deborah Willis, eds., To Make Their Own Way in the World: The Enduring Legacy of the Zealy Daguerreotypes.

Harvard's Slave Photos Raise Many Questions

Following-up, "Harvard University Pledges $100 Million to Redress Past Ties to Slavery (VIDEO)."

At the New York Times, "The First Photos of Enslaved People Raise Many Questions About the Ethics of Viewing."

This is Renty below, in a very famous photograph you may have seen before.

From the article:

For a century, they languished in a museum attic. Fifteen wooden cases, palm-size and lined with velvet. Cocooned within are some of history’s cruelest, most contentious images — the first photographs, it is believed, of enslaved human beings.

Alfred, Fassena and Jem. Renty and his daughter Delia. Jack and his daughter Drana. They face us directly in one image and stand in profile in the next, bodies held fixed by an iron brace. The Zealy daguerreotypes, as the pictures are known, were taken in 1850 at the behest of the Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz. A proponent of polygenesis — the idea that the races descended from different origins, a notion challenged in its own time and refuted by Darwin — he had the pictures taken to furnish proof of this theory.

Agassiz wanted images of barbarity, and he got them — implicating only himself. He had hand-selected his subjects in South Carolina, seeking types — “specimens,” as he put it — but each daguerreotype reveals an individual, deeply dignified and expressive. Their hurt, contempt, fatigue, utter refusal are unequivocal. The photographer, Joseph T. Zealy, who specialized in society portraits, did not alter his method for the shoot; he carried on as usual, using the same light, the same angles, giving the images their unsettling, formal perfection.

Agassiz showed the pictures only once. They were then tucked away at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Rediscovered in 1976, they have been at the center of urgent debates about photography ever since...


Harvard University Pledges $100 Million to Redress Past Ties to Slavery (VIDEO)


Well one would think. They're sitting on a $53.2 billion endowment. I'm sure they can afford a chintzy $100 million to throw a sop for reparations. *Eye Roll.*

At the New York Times, "Harvard Details Its Entanglements With Slavery and Its Plans for Redress."

Plus, "The Major Findings of Harvard’s Report on Its Ties to Slavery":

Harvard University issued a 134-page report investigating its ties to slavery, and its legacy. Here are the key findings.

In 2019, Harvard’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, appointed a committee of faculty members to investigate the university’s ties to slavery, as well as its legacy. Discussions about race were intensifying across the country. Students were demanding that the names of people involved in the slave trade be removed from buildings. Other universities, notably Brown, had already conducted similar excavations of their past.

The resulting 134-page report plus two appendices was released Tuesday, along with a promise of $100 million, to create an endowed fund to “redress” past wrongs, one of the biggest funds of its kind.

Here are some of its key findings and excerpts.

Slavery Was Part of Daily Life at the University

The report found that enslaved people lived on the Cambridge, Mass., campus, in the president’s residence, and were part of the fabric, albeit almost invisible, of daily life.

“Over nearly 150 years, from the university’s founding in 1636 until the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found slavery unlawful in 1783, Harvard presidents and other leaders, as well as its faculty and staff, enslaved more than 70 individuals, some of whom labored on campus,” the report said. “Enslaved men and women served Harvard presidents and professors and fed and cared for Harvard students.”

Four Harvard Presidents Enslaved People

The committee found at least 41 prominent people associated with Harvard who enslaved people. They included four Harvard presidents, such as Increase Mather, president of the university from 1692 to 1701, and Benjamin Wadsworth, president from 1725 to 1737; three governors, John Winthrop, Joseph Dudley and John Leverett; William Brattle, minister of First Church, Cambridge; Edward Wigglesworth, professor of divinity; John Winthrop, professor of mathematics and natural philosophy; Edward Hopkins, founder of the Hopkins Foundation; and Isaac Royall Jr., who funded the first professorship of law at Harvard.

The University Benefited From Plantation Owners

While New England’s image has been linked in popular culture to abolitionism, the report said, wealthy plantation owners and Harvard were mutually dependent for their wealth.

“Throughout this period and well into the 19th century, the university and its donors benefited from extensive financial ties to slavery,” the report said. “These profitable financial relationships included, most notably, the beneficence of donors who accumulated their wealth through slave trading; from the labor of enslaved people on plantations in the Caribbean islands and in the American South; and from the Northern textile manufacturing industry, supplied with cotton grown by enslaved people held in bondage. The university also profited from its own financial investments, which included loans to Caribbean sugar planters, rum distillers, and plantation suppliers along with investments in cotton manufacturing.”

Integration Was Accepted Slowly

Early attempts at integration met with stiff resistance from Harvard leaders who prized being a school for a white upper crust, including wealthy white sons of the South.

“In the years before the Civil War, the color line held at Harvard despite a false start toward Black access,” the report said. “In 1850, Harvard’s medical school admitted three Black students but, after a group of white students and alumni objected, the school’s dean, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., expelled them.”

Faculty Members Spread Bogus Science Harvard faculty members played a role in disseminating bogus theories of racial differences that were used to justify racial segregation and to underpin Nazi Germany’s extermination of “undesirable” populations.

“In the 19th century, Harvard had begun to amass human anatomical specimens, including the bodies of enslaved people, that would, in the hands of the university’s prominent scientific authorities, become central to the promotion of so-called race science at Harvard and other American institutions,” the report said.

The bitter fruit of those race scientists remains part of Harvard’s living legacy today...

The Legacy of Slavery Lived On

Until as recently as the 1960s, the legacy of slavery lived on in the paucity of Black students admitted to Harvard...


More Hilarious Wailing at Elon Musk


At the Wall Street Journal, "Wait, you mean Twitter could ban one party’s political speech?":

My, what a progressive panic Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter has inspired. MSNBC host Ari Melber warns that Mr. Musk could hack the political debate by having the website “secretly ban one party’s candidate” or “turn down the reach of their stuff, and turn up the reach of something else, and the rest of us might not even find out about it until after the election.”

Uh, hello? Twitter has banned President Trump. A month before the 2020 election, it moved to “turn down the reach” of the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Those actions weren’t secret, but Mr. Melber’s alarm echoes what conservatives have been saying for years about big tech’s censorship. As long as the usual Silicon Valley overlords controlled all of social media, progressives didn’t mind. But Elon Musk buys Twitter, and suddenly freer speech is a national crisis...

The shoe's on the other foot, and it's hurting.

WATCH: "MSNBC's Ari Melber is worried that Elon Musk would use Twitter for partisan political purposes!"

Dems are scared, alright. 

Twitter's Top Lawyer -- Who Has Pushed for Ever More Censorship With the Indignant Fury of a Holy Inquisitor -- Cries In Meeting With Employees



More at London's Daily Mail, "Elon Musk slams Twitter's top lawyer who sobbed after he bought social media network and blasts her for 'incredibly inappropriate' censorship of Hunter Biden laptop story [PHOTOS]."

Ace suggests she's out. *Shrugs.*

Elon Musk Buys Twitter, Sparking Concern from Democrats

"Sparking concern," lol. 

That's putting it mildly, indeed. These people have lost their minds.

At Fox News, "Democrats worry Trump will return to Twitter":

Congressional Democrats sounded the alarm this week after Tesla CEO Elon Musk struck a deal to buy Twitter for roughly $44 billion and take the social media company private.

Among the lawmakers' chief concerns was that Musk could allow former President Donald Trump, who was permanently banned from Twitter in January 2021 after spreading misinformation about the 2020 election, back onto the platform.

While Musk has not said whether he plans to lift Trump's Twitter ban, the tech executive is a frequent citric of the platform, which he has previously accused of stifling free speech. In the past, Musk, who describes himself as a "free speech absolutist," has proposed relaxing Twitter content restrictions, fueling speculation that Trump could return to his onetime favorite social media website.

During a recent interview at a TED conference, Musk argued that social media networks should not remove comments that are offensive if they are still legal.

"If it's a gray area, let the tweet exist," Musk said...

Still more.

At at the Hill, "Musk buying Twitter alarms Democrats."

Musk Takes Twitter: Tyrants Won't Take Rejection Lightly

From Dana Loesch, on Substack, "It's Official: Elon Musk Takes Twitter":

"Tots and pears" to the apoplectic left.

More insanity.


Amazon Employees Melt Down Over Matt Walsh's Best-Selling Children's Book, 'Johnny the Walrus'

Frankly, I've never heard of the book until now, so this leaked video of Amazon employees completely melting down --- lying about the book and defaming Matt Walsh --- will definitely boost sales. 

At Twitchy, "Just INSANE: Amazon leaders hold ‘session’ for employees dealing with ‘trauma’ over Matt Walsh’s best seller, ‘Johnny the Walrus’ (watch)."

Insanity's a word I hear a lot these days with reference to the LGBTQIA8 left. 

Why I Love Watching the Meltdown Over Musk and Twitter

From Mike Solana, at Bari Weiss's Substack, "Elon Conquers The Twitterverse"

Our chattering class claims Musk is a supervillain. The truth is simpler: He wants free speech. They don't.

Three weeks ago, a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that Elon Musk, billionaire Shitposting God of Silicon Valley, had acquired over 9% of Twitter, making him the company’s largest shareholder and setting in motion a chain of events that led, ultimately, to yesterday’s outright purchase of the now $44 billion company. In a press release, Elon shared his goals for the platform, which echoed the goals he’s shared all month:

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

“Freedom,” “open source technology,” and “man, I really hate these spam bots.” The media’s reaction to these ambitions was instant and apoplectic. They were akin, we were told, to literal Nazism.

Welcome to the Clown World. Boy, do we have ground to cover.

The social internet is always a Dalí painting—surreal and horrifying and beautiful. A million crazy people screaming over nonsense, with funny jokes or anecdotes mixed in, fortune cookie observations, legitimate political happenings, and “words are violence” hall monitors from The Washington Post waging daily information war on trolls and Russian bots and okay actually just a lot of regular people with whom they disagree, or simply don’t like.

But even by the gutter standards we’ve come to accept from media, this has been a month for the books.

Out of the gate, it was incoherent fury, with no consensus motive. We were told that Elon, who explicitly opposes censorship, intended to deplatform, and ultimately destroy, all of his critics, who are themselves explicitly in favor of censorship. We were told that Elon was building a propaganda engine. We were told that Twitter, which was until last week apparently a peaceful, utopian haven for principled discourse, would now revert to some earlier, imagined world of carnage (very bad tweets). The case was made, with zero evidence, that Elon is a racist. It was all just table stakes, really.

After a week or so, in brutal, Darwinian competition for attention, arguments against Musk blossomed into something more colorful. From Axios, a company committed in writing to never sharing an opinion, it was “reported” that Elon, once likened to Iron Man, was now behaving “like a supervillain.” His ownership of Twitter would lead to World War III, the case was made elsewhere. In one of my favorite moments of derangement, NPR helpfully reminded us that Elon is an imperialist. The basis for such an incredible charge? In the tradition of America’s Apollo Moon landing, one of the most celebrated accomplishments in human history, Elon wants to settle Mars, an uninhabited desert planet 155 million miles from Earth. This is just like colonial-era Britain’s brutal conquest of half the world, when you think about it.

The takes were all extraordinarily stupid, and yes, I loved every single one of them...

Keep reading.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Richard Powers, Bewilderment

At Amazon, Richard Powers, Bewilderment: A Novel.

Emmanuel Macron Wins French Presidential Election, Beats Marine Le Pen (VIDEO)

Big story, at CNN, "Emmanuel Macron wins France’s presidential election."

But maybe a bigger story, here, WSJ, "Even in Defeat, Marine Le Pen Leads France’s Far Right Closer to Power":

Candidate won 41.5% of the vote, showing that her once-fringe party is a political contender.

PARIS—Marine Le Pen fell short of her goal of attaining France’s highest office, but her campaign laid the groundwork for the far right to become an enduring force in French politics.

With 41.5% of the vote, Ms. Le Pen won a greater share of the electorate than any far-right presidential candidate in France’s post-World War II era. In doing so, the 53-year-old politician transformed a party that was once a fringe insurgency into a real contender.

The result, Ms. Le Pen told her supporters Sunday, “represents a striking victory,” adding: “The French have shown tonight their desire for a strong check to the power of Emmanuel Macron.”

Ms. Le Pen’s 17-point loss to Mr. Macron was wider than some polls had estimated but it was a significant improvement on her 32-point loss to him five years ago.

Ms. Le Pen gained ground by hitting on a new strategy that focused on the economic problems of the French working class. She toned down her anti-immigrant rhetoric during the campaign. Ms. Le Pen also shifted her party’s anti-European stance, saying she no longer wants to withdraw from the European Union’s common currency, the euro, a move that has little popular support in France.

The approach allowed her to cobble together a broader coalition of middle- and working-class voters living outside France’s big cities, in areas where the forces of globalization have closed factories, wages are stagnant and the rising cost of living has hit households hard. Those voters include traditional conservatives and even some on the left drawn by Ms. Le Pen’s attacks on the economic and cultural elite.

“She represents so much for so many French people,” said Jérôme Auvray, a member of Ms. Le Pen’s party who lives in the outskirts of Paris. “She is still young…She should run again in five years.”

Still, Ms. Le Pen’s drive to broaden her party’s appeal faces deep skepticism among many French. Ms. Le Pen’s father, the far-right ideologue Jean-Marie Le Pen, co-founded the party in the 1970s, calling it the National Front and adopting the neofascist tricolor flame as its symbol. Ms. Le Pen changed the name in 2018 to National Rally. She kept the symbol.

“A cat can’t bark,“ said Ludovic Seynaeve de Daussé, a 55-year-old retired military man from northern France who didn’t vote in the runoff after casting a first-round ballot for far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon. ”The National Front will always be the National Front.”

Ms. Le Pen ran on a platform that would impose far-reaching changes long supported by the far right. She wanted to ban wearing the Muslim head scarf in public, claw back powers from the European Union and change the French constitution to give priority to French nationals over immigrants, including documented ones.

Ms. Le Pen said in February that she wouldn’t run again for president if she lost but also that she wouldn’t retire from politics. At the party’s election-night gathering in Paris on Sunday, Ms. Le Pen’s supporters, some in tears, grappled with another election loss. Many wanted Ms. Le Pen to run again.

Would-be successors are waiting in the wings, including Jordan Bardella, the 26-year-old acting president of National Rally, and Marion Maréchal, Ms. Le Pen’s niece. Eric Zemmour, the television pundit turned presidential candidate, made fighting immigration and Islamist influence his signature issues, seeking to wrest control of the far right from Ms. Le Pen. Mr. Zemmour fizzled in the first round of the elections, drawing only 7.1% of the vote.

On Sunday, Mr. Zemmour called on supporters of France’s conservative party, National Rally and other far-right movements to come together.

“We must forget our quarrels and unite our forces,” Mr. Zemmour said.

Sonia Peneloup, a painter and National Rally activist who attended Sunday night’s gathering, said she supported Mr. Bardella as a potential successor but wondered whether a change at the helm was enough to get the party over the hump. “Would it make a difference? Frankly, I don’t think the French are ready,” she said.

Ms. Le Pen’s defeat follows a decadeslong push by France’s far right to win the presidency. When her father founded the party, its strident anti-immigrant stance made it a fringe movement in European politics. Mr. Le Pen was convicted of anti-Semitism in the 1980s for describing Nazi gas chambers as a “detail of World War II history.”

A breakthrough came in 2002, when Mr. Le Pen shocked the world by qualifying for the presidential runoff. More than a million French people took to the streets to denounce Mr. Le Pen’s candidacy. The incumbent, Jacques Chirac, ended up trouncing Mr. Le Pen by a margin of 64 percentage points.

In 2011, Ms. Le Pen inherited the party and set about remaking its image, a process the party called “de-demonization.” She ousted her father from the party in 2015 after he repeated his comment about Nazi gas chambers.

In 2017, Ms. Le Pen reached the presidential runoff for the first time. Her campaign ran aground due to her unpopular push to drop the euro. She lost to Mr. Macron, then a political neophyte, in a 32-point landslide.

Ms. Le Pen focused her 2022 campaign on pocketbook issues such as her fight against inflation. She also zeroed in on the impact that the war in Ukraine was having on France’s economy, particularly the higher fuel prices that affect working-class commuters. She promised to slash taxes on fuel and other essentials if elected.

Ms. Le Pen began opening up about her personal life, softening her reputation as a hard-nosed ideologue. She mused publicly about her love of cats and discussed her childhood as the daughter of Mr. Le Pen. Ms. Le Pen was eight when a bomb targeting her father destroyed their apartment in Paris.

“I was made to pay for my father’s commitment,” she said at a rally in February.

“She is one of us,” said Isabelle Flouret, a 48-year-old widow from Hénin-Beaumont, a town in northern France where Ms. Le Pen cut her teeth on the municipal council. “My children call her Auntie Marine.”

Competition from Mr. Zemmour also softened Ms. Le Pen’s public image, because his fiery anti-immigrant rhetoric at times made her seem tame by comparison for some of the electorate...