Berkeley Riots at Milo Yiannopoulos

Who stood to gain from the violence?

The leftie protesters certainly didn’t, they were unwittingly and innocently caught in the crossfire. The violence was perpetrated by a highly organized group who were coordinated, wearing uniforms and carrying weapons (fireworks and rocks) designed to cause maximum disruption and incite clashes with police. Wasn’t this, in fact, exactly what the event organizers were after?

Nobody really wanted to, or expected to, sit around and listen to some vacuous neo-Nazi spewing racist filth. The organizers are UC Berkeley students, whatever their politics, surely a couple of hours of infantile name calling of various minority groups is beneath their intellectual taste. The whole point was to provoke a protest and make it look as if their first amendment rights were being attacked by an intolerant and hypocritical left. This wasn’t a one off, the same thing had already happened in several places. It was entirely predictable, and that presented an opportunity.

But regular protests fly under the radar in the era of Trump. And UC Berkeley didn’t swallow the bait, going out of their way to allow the event to go ahead. It needed to be ramped up into something a bit special. And where better than the crucible of free speech and so many famous protests?

The strength of the alt-right hierarchy is in its ability to manipulate the disaffected man-on-the-street. Would it surprise anyone to find that they had a hand in this coordinated infiltration of the protest? It played directly into their hands, and very much against everybody else’s. Just as they use the alt-right base’s racism to manipulate them, they can use the anarchist’s nihilism to manipulate them. This is what they do. They don’t care what the pawns think, only how that allows them to be manipulated. The stolen psychographics tools used by Cambridge Analytica (Bannon is a major stakeholder) can identify, by analyzing social media data etc., anyone’s affiliation to political groups, propensity to be suckered by certain types of fake news and hate sites, and character weaknesses that can be exploited to manipulate them. This is the tool that allows highly personalized propaganda to be targetted into social media feeds that swing elections.

It’s straight out of Josef Goebbels’ playbook:

“There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyways always yield to the stronger, and this will always be ‘the man in the street.’ Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology.”

This is how come Bannon is now de facto president of the USA and sits, with no qualifications or experience (or votes), on the Security Council; throwing rocks and fireworks into the Middle East.

It worked well. Look at people on the right’s initial FB reaction: They blamed ‘liberal students’, complained about free speech and called out the hypocrisy. They’re still hopping mad – not because of the free speech thing, they’re over that – but  because they couldn’t get the dirt to stick to those damn PC liberals. People on the left found themselves defending this neo-Nazi’s right to hate speech. Either those damn anarchists accidentally scored an unexplainably well coordinated own goal and turned up the volume on what would otherwise have been an insipid non-event, or they were manipulated by the same machine that brought us – entirely against our own interests – Trump, Brexit, the rise of the Front Nationale, alternative facts, gag orders across several branches of government, the wall, the Muslim ban, a movement to collapse the EEC, and the rise of several far right movements in Europe.


Trump’s Secret

Money in politics is the elephant in the room.

It’s why the GOP stopped looking out for the good of the people years ago, and instead just looks out for the good of their wealthy and corporate donors. But that doesn’t work in a democracy, they need votes; and looking after 5% of the people doesn’t buy you many. So they set out to manipulate social right wing groups one by one: There’s the religious right, the gun lobby, racists, xenophobes and the bigots – a.k.a. the deplorables. These aren’t all natural alignments of conservative politicians; these are manufactured alignments, designed to win  large chunks of votes over to their financial conservative positions, as dictated by their corporate sponsors, in a deal with the devil.

That’s what the GOP has become: Pragmatic Libertarians. They serve all the same financial interests as the Libertarians (that’s how they get funded), and they realize that they have to live with all that social conservative BS to buy the votes they need (that’s how they get power).

The money people don’t care for the social stuff much either, it’s just part of the price they need to pay for the votes. And votes mean getting away with corruption and more money, so they’re happy to let it slide.

Democrats have had to do the same in order to compete. And some Democrats have found it very lucrative and a lot more attractive than they should have. One of the reasons that Clinton finds herself neck and neck with a completely unqualified, racist sex offender, is that she has taken so much money that she’s now more like one of them than a real progressive. She’s just more of the same. And this year the social conservative groups have woken up, ‘more of the same’ isn’t going to cut it, they want to take over the asylum. And the real lefties, the burnt out Berners, are feeling the same way; they had their hands on a real solution, the great grey hope, and feel it was taken from them by the establishment to favor one of their own.

What Trump has done is change the GOP approach of appealing to these deplorables via a dog-whistle – because it’s too abhorrent to actually own the message – and upgraded it to a bull-horn. He has no shame and that’s his big advantage. Instead of buying their votes with regressive hate policies, in exchange for taking their vote for financial policies that are the opposite of their self interests; he’s shouting out hate and fear from the rooftops and finally putting this previously crushed majority front and center of the GOP platform. They’re no longer being fobbed off with someone pretending to support their agenda while delivering their financial ruin, they think they’re finally being heard and in control.

Of course Trump’s a demagogue, he’s just playing the crowd and telling them what they want to hear for his personal advancement. And all that hate and bile is not disgusting enough to put off the less extreme conservatives, because they can point at Hillary and at her genuine corruption. She’s taken Wall Street money, handled overseas money through a foundation that has yet to fully open its books. She’s become very wealthy. And she’s provided pay-to-play access to wealthy donors. Of course she’s corrupt. So they don’t have – in their thinking – a better choice.

She’s no worse than many, including Obama and Elizabeth Warren, who have also taken money from sources that most lefties would consider highly tainted. Very few even on the left are taint free – Bernie being one of very few who can make any such claim. But does that make her equally bad/corrupt/tainted as Trump? Nowhere near – in my opinion – yet it’s enough for people who deal only in black and white, or who are afraid of joined-up thinking, to see them on equal terms. We all do it, we allow our own biases to minimize our own dirty laundry and magnify the other side’s. In exactly the same way that people justified the ‘A’ bomb.

And there are those who do see a real difference but who think they still can’t vote for Hillary. Again, they aren’t thinking it through fully. The race is down to two – you pick the best available, all the other options are fairy tales at this stage. Suck it up and influence what you can, rather than imagining changes you can’t make.

Just as so many on the left would still line up behind Clinton if the GOP had come up with a principled, old school, Republican who hadn’t been bribed. They’d find some dirt on him, anything would do, and hold that up as good enough to stick with their party.

When the Democrats chose Clinton over Bernie they set themselves up for a tight race, one that they could easily lose. They gave the GOP every excuse to simply hold a mirror back to the Dems whenever Trump is accused of anything. It requires a false equivalence, but politics lives with false equivalences and confirmation biases all the time. Clinton lets the Dems maintain the connection (money flow) from Wall Street. It was a risk that ‘the establishment’ wasn’t prepared to take – even though it’s in the interests of the real left long term. To cut ties with Wall Street [which I’m using as shorthand for all big money interests] and risk billions of dollars sweeping them out of office in 4 years was just too much.

The deal is this:

You can’t do any good if you’re not in office.

You can’t get into office unless you’re on the take.

So we’re on the take.

… it sort of works, if you forget that Bernie was about to do it.

Just as the GOP lies to its deplorables, the Democrats lie to their left wing about fighting corruption and money in politics. And the winner is……. the fucking Libertarians [by which I mean the money interests behind the GOP]. It doesn’t come cheap, they have to buy both parties, but they get most of what they want and it’s – relatively speaking – peanuts to them. Money ‘in’ politics hardly does justice to the problem; it’s that money ‘is’ politics. If the Dems aren’t prepared to risk fixing it then the only hope is that the Supreme Court fixes it. If only a couple more SCJs would die, Hillary wins ‘bigly’ and takes the Senate, and they FINALLY do their  job to restore a real democracy.

If Bernie could have found a palatable way to tell all those people who he was about to help that they have to let go of their sacred cows; that they can be free to live by their own religious rules but that they can’t impose that on everyone else; that the constitution takes precedence. It really was that close. He’d have been looking not only at a landslide this election but at a genuine revolution and a cleaning up of so much corruption – be it driven by money, the belief that John Wayne movies are real life, or by religious manipulation.

As Robert A Heinlein put it: “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.” That’s always been a disadvantage for the left, since they can’t go down that route without alienating their base. Perhaps the left needs to play the game, start with the churches, convince them that the only way to keep their religious freedom is to agree that church stops interfering with the constitution and then the constitution will stop interfering with them. Because if that huge group can be saved from manipulation by the right, separated from automatically voting for Libertarian interests, then democracy has a chance… maybe that’s why they literally wrote that into the constitution.

Who Lies Wins.

It’s not just about who wins, it’s about what they do after they win.

50 Republican senators recently voted to deny that man made climate change is real. None of them actually believe it. All of them realize that the money poured into their party from major fossil fuel producers is something they rely on and is probably the difference between a majority and a minority. They all lied and it was directly related to political bribes.

By adopting this lie, Republicans (and maybe the odd Democrat) wins a massive donation that can swing a tight election.

Man made climate change and the prediction that it will be catastrophic if not dealt with, is now settled science. Anyone denying this – at least anyone educated – is being disingenuous for political reasons or because they place short term profit above any other concerns. 97% of scientific papers on the subject agree (99% of independent scientific papers).

Another major influence is free trade. Any country that attempts to tackle climate change unilaterally would have to regulate against trade involving dirty energy to avoid a short term business disadvantage. Free market proponents can’t allow that. The easiest way to fight it is to lie; pay for fake scientific papers and bribe politicians to vote against it.

Without money in politics the argument becomes genuine, a case of trading the business costs against the environmental costs. That’s something that both sides can deal with and find solutions. Whether it’s investment in sustainable energy, restrictions on trade involving dirty energy or simply putting your fingers in your ears and denying it – it’s directly linked to money in politics.

Of course people can simply refuse to have a sensible discussion around climate change. It’s a long and drawn out debate – far too large for here – and it’s something from which it’s very easy to walk away. So here’s a first class justification by real scientists, dumbed down just enough to make it palatable, presented by a couple of climate specialists and a couple of physicists – none of whom have any business interests that might get in the way of objectivity – just the science. Go ahead, see if you can poke any holes in it…

Did Clinton flip-flop for cash?

Everyone’s seen Elizabeth Warren’s take down of Clinton in the 2004 Bill Moyers interview by now ( ). Pretty damning stuff. Many will also have heard Clinton’s rebuttal. But what’s the truth? We may never know for sure, but it doesn’t look good. I’m still not convinced by Clinton’s explanation on this one.

  • In ’98 she took Warren’s advice and advocated against the bill.
  • In 2001, after a significant contribution from the banks and some tweaks, she voted to advance it.
  • In 2005, she actually didn’t vote at all, although she did talk against it.

The key vote was the 2001 version of the bill, that’s the one following the Wall Street contribution to her campaign. But what was the pro-single mother’s amendment that she says was pivotal? While it did technically allow women to pursue child support it also allowed credit card companies to do the same, using the ‘distributions’ mechanism, these are virtually never paid. And women would have to compete directly with credit card companies – meaning that the chances of women actually getting paid were negligible. That was still Warren’s position as well as the position of most women’s advocacy groups. It was a technical concession only, which was impractical and therefore still prevented women from getting child support payments. While a bank, with limitless resources can use this process, single mothers who rely on child maintenance check, on the whole, can’t. 

2001 was also significant because the senate at that time was split 50:50, so they really needed Clinton’s vote. By 2005 the Republicans had a strong majority (55) and no longer needed Clinton’s vote – which gave her an opportunity to flip-flop her stated position while having no effect on the bill. She was presented with a political get-out-of-jail opportunity.

The influence of dirty money in politics is almost impossible to prove – that’s the beauty of it. You can read the above whichever way you want to see it – and let confirmation bias take you whichever way it will. Both cases are technically possible. But someone with the inside scoop, a fellow woman Democrat and a Professor of Law with a specialty in Bankruptcy Law, who’d personally advised Clinton (I’d say that uniquely qualifies her expertise), clearly saw foul play. It also plays out intuitively – that someone might change a vote for funding – it’s something she herself routinely calls out when Republicans do it and something she claims to be campaigning against. Why else would the banking sector be handing over cash? They might be many things but one thing they are not is stupid; they tend to pay only for what they get.

Clinton only talks about banning ‘hidden’ contributions, she’s actually in favor of money in politics – it’s fair to say it’s one of her strengths. She’s clearly in favor of using it to buy this nomination over a candidate who isn’t taking it. She fundraises for her own super pacs and has her previous campaign manager at the head of the big one. That’s about as close to admitting illegal control as it gets – but that’s for another rant.

At the final chance to vote against the bill in 2005, Clinton didn’t vote – she only spoke against it, as she was in the hospital visiting Bill at the time of the vote. Convenient but also suspicious. If you’ve sold your vote it’s certainly a clever (read politically skilled) way out: It’s going to pass anyway, save face and re-align with your party, but skip the vote. Hats off, that is politically astute.

It’s so difficult to prove the corrupting effects of money in politics but we all know it happens and we’re happy to point it out when Republicans block vote against things like the accepted science of Climate Change etc.. We don’t allow sports players to bet on their own game, because the chances of corruption are so glaringly obvious – so why do we accept the same from politicians?  Remember, Clinton is not advocating taking money out of politics; she just wants to remove the hidden contributions (which are already largely banned). She’s inserted the word ‘hidden’ each time if you listen to the debates.

Even if we take her at her word, it wasn’t a smart thing to do, leaving her open to suspicion – with her attempts to disprove it showing a failure to grasp a truly pragmatic picture of the impractical amendment she claims that it all hangs on. Not exactly the political savvy she claims is her big advantage.

At best, money in politics allows banks and big corporations to influence who gets elected; that’s a type of corruption in itself. There can be no doubt that it often goes further than that and influences particular votes and laws – even if that’s easier to acknowledge when Republicans do it. Under no reasonable analysis can anyone claim that it is not a corruption of the system that claims to be one-vote one-person, of and for the people.

Look at the money that flooded into politics from Wall Street after the crash, for both sides. That was bail-out money, yours and my taxes. And then look at how all those vying for their blood backed down and walked away without a single arrest or prison sentence. Compared to the treatment of some ‘unconnected’ guy selling loose cigarettes for loose change.

This was just one case, Clinton is in the hole for hundreds of millions of Wall Street money. So are virtually all Republicans and most Democrats, unfortunately. There’s only a handful who aren’t. This example is paradigm because it has Warren’s considerable insight and it shows the effect of money even in Clinton’s sweet spot – working against women and against women’s advocacy groups and against everything she stands for.

Another terrible side coming out of this, is that the contribution was just $140,000. That’s a lot for you and me but it’s irrelevant to a bank. For peanuts they are able to influence decisions that pay them back thousands of times over; in this case giving them the right to pursue hundreds of millions in credit card debt (that they’d issued unwisely) even after bankruptcy. It reminds me of that viral meme of John Boehner wearing a Nascar suit showing all his sponsors, where the total only came to like $300,000. Could you really get a few hundred well-heeled Democrats in a room, pass round a hat, and actually buy a Senator’s honesty?

Even if you’re still unconvinced in this case, you know it’s true elsewhere. There is only one real solution: Ban ALL political contributions, not petty little tweaks here and there but outright, level up the playing field and go back to government that represents the will of the people. Even Republicans would be able to govern responsibly under those conditions.

Did either side prove its case: No.

Is there a possible innocent explanation: Yes.

Is that probable: Not in a million years.

Is this just a smear and innuendo: No, it’s a lot more than that and comes as close as you’re ever likely to see to a proof of corruption.