Category Archives: financial crisis

Judges figure in this, too

Who Could Possibly Know…

whether a $60 million pain and suffering award was “too much” and needed to be cut in half?

The Appellate Division, First Department. That’s who.

It’s a lot of money either way, of course. At least, in context it is.

But we’ll just say here what we have said before: there is no principled reason why the appellate court should adjust the jury’s award at all. There are only unprincipled reasons, such as we can’t have municipalities or insurance companies being forced to make such big payouts to the rabble.

Alas, we are once again repeating ourselves.

Ugh.

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Finally

Someone, other than us, points out that the SCOTUS really shouldn’t be getting a pass.

Although it isn’t just SCOTUS favoritism to the police that poses a threat to the Republic, as it were. As if we had anything even remotely resembling a Republic or a democracy at this point here in the USA.

SCOTUS is just relentlessly establishmentarian across the board. Somehow, with all the federal government overreach since the 1930’s, SCOTUS finally decides to put its foot down so that people – including children – can be evicted and made homeless. It’s not that we even disagree with the principle here at LoS. It’s that principle has nothing to do with it.

The threat of homelessness is an essential ingredient of the status quo, the “status quo” being more or less a modern version of serfdom. We went over this a couple of years ago, to the usual effect – which is to say none.

We have lost our capacity for self-government. Or, it’s been taken from us. Maybe it was never all it was cracked up to be anyway.

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Collectivism

Just a little musing here this morning.

We were thinking back, in world-historical terms, and reminding ourselves of our now long ago educational experience as an undergrad, where for a time we were infatuated with the ideas of GWF Hegel.

Hegel was not a communist – he predated communism – but some of his ideas were preludes, as it were.

For example, communism is known for its “dialectical materialism”. Hegel wasn’t a reductionist/materialist at all, but damned if he didn’t virtually invent this notion of “dialectic”: thesis, antithesis, synthesis, doncha know.

But not being a materialist, there was this spiritual gloss over the whole thing, and it had a name: weltgeist. Literally, “world ghost”.

What was, or is, the weltgeist? Sort of a “spirit of the age” kind of thing. But Hegel imbued it with a personality, an independent identity, and it became in his mind and the minds of his followers a spirit that moved things and determined events in the world. Its methodology? Why, the dialectic, of course!

It can be thought provoking to view certain historical events through this prism, and particularly this: those periods where we make the transition from one century to the next.

Which brings us to the title of this post.

As the world transitioned from the 19th century to the 20th we were reaching a crescendo of a certain weltgeist that might be termed the industrialization and collectivization trend, which in turn produced mass armed conflict that we called the “Great War” at the time, until there was another one a decade or so later, whereupon we called both of them “World Wars”. Weltkriegs, Hegel might have said.

As we may have said elsewhere, there was then push back against the collectivist trend – kind of a decentralizing trend, we probably opined – in which we figured the internet was a prominent piece. A profoundly decentralizing medium, we think we put it at the time.

So now we a roughly at the point in time in the 21st century where the world had just put the Great War behind itself, and lo what do we have? A Great Pandemic, and some sort of “Great Reset” in the offing. And the internet, which we had originally described as a profoundly decentralizing medium – well, we might have been mistaken about that. Because there is a powerful trend afoot now to exert a rather profound centralizing effect on the world wide web, where it seems to be more of a collective hive mind than a free-for-all.

So the point this morning is this: the centralization weltgeist of the 19th to 20th century transition that led to the collectivist phenomena of world wars is duplicated in the centralization weltgeist of the 21st century transition that has led to the phenomena of one continual, collectivist public health “emergency” in which all are compelled to participate, much as men were drafted to fight the collectivist wars of the 20th century.

And this outlook somewhat explains the sort of natural ideological division that surrounds the pandemic. The people who reflexively or instinctively approve of the collectivist action on the pandemic do so because they are, basically, collectivists more than anything else and in the first place. And the people who reflexively or instinctively recoil at the same phenomenon are more individualists.

So that is our morning musing on the state of things in the world. It’s all about Hegel. And collectivism. And the weltgeist.

And, you know, religion. But that part will have to wait.

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Cause And Effect

Two items this morning remind us of how difficult it can be to focus on what causes what.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc. It makes sense to infer that what comes right after something else was caused by the something else. But of course it’s a logical fallacy.

Scott Greenfield is looking at the same phenomena we are – the civil unrest, the calls for abolishing the police, and so on – and attributes the problems to the police themselves. And of course to an extent he is correct. Certainly the police as a group are not blameless in the situation they find themselves in.

But we focus on the legal profession and the courts. We figure that constitutionally speaking, these are the check on the police, so if the police are failing the cause would be there, and not just the police themselves. We also figure that chain-of-command speaking, we are the supervisors of the police, and the problems people are now perceiving with the police are nothing if not problems of poor supervision. Or a lack of supervision, if you prefer.

Indeed this blog started more than 10 years ago focusing on the same thing and was, for the most part, shouted down by other members of the profession, Mr. Greenfield himself perhaps the most prominent among them.

Is he right, or are we? A little of both, probably.

Our habit, it turns out, is thinking things through. And when you think things through, you often go back further, and forge deeper, before you declare that you have found the cause of some observed thing.

Another example of that in our approach to things even on this little blog itself is our proposals regarding the “financial crisis”, which we have usually cautioned should be referred to as a “rule of law” crisis.

Almost as long ago, we proposed that the solution to the problem was a jubilee and a return to the gold standard, and figured the only way to get there was with a constitutional amendment. At least in the US.

We had no takers then. Now? There’s a lot of talk about debt forgiveness. There is talk of a “reset” in the wake of the current pandemic, and some people believe it will involve a currency restructuring.

But it won’t be by a constitutional amendment and it almost certainly will not involve a return to the gold standard.

It seems to us that before a solution a problem can be devised, the correct cause of the problem must be identified. And that, it seems, is usually a tougher task than any posed by the problem itself.

Ugh.

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Immunity

There’s a lot of talk about immunity lately. To end the “pandemic” we are advised that enough people need to be inoculated that “herd immunity” will be reached.

Then there is “qualified immunity”, which has nothing to do with vaccines or pandemics but is rather an immunity from civil liability granted to all public officials except for prosecutors and judges.

And that’s only because prosecutors and judges enjoy absolute immunity with no “qualifications” whatever.

But this morning we see in our news feed that they are taking up the immunity thing in the Congress, as we suggested Congress should do over nine years ago. The Congress is focused on cops, of course, and so all that seems to be on the table is what the courts have extended to cops, and that is the immunity of the “qualified” kind.

As usual, the Congress should be hearing from us. Clearly we were way ahead of this curve – nine years ahead of it – and again as usual we are chagrined that for some reason the powers that be haven’t beaten a path to our door.

But never mind. It seems the Republic can’t be saved anyway.

And we’re not really chagrined. That’s just a figure of speech. And just used it because we like the soft “ch” sound. So French-ish!

In any event, here’s something to ponder about all this SCOTUS-invented immunity business. The immunity comes on top of the summary judgment remedy and the 12(b)(6) standards of Iqbal and Twombly, which already pretty much guarantee that any lawsuit brought by the rabble will be thrown out without ever seeing a jury. Immunity is on top of that. It actually doesn’t really add that much. The deck is already stacked.

It says a lot about our system that it can be so heavy handedly one sided.

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Certiorari Courts

So, you’d think with all the talk about expanding the number of SCOTUS Justices at some point rationality would settle in and we’d take a close, sober and objective look.

Nothing doing. This is the United States in post Trump world and we don’t do rational or sober or objective.

But we at LoS are going to make the effort, as we so often do, by ourselves.

There are nine Supreme Court Justices, a number that apparently hasn’t changed since 1869. In 1870 the population of the US was about 38 million. In 2021 it’s about 330 million. If we’re going to start talking about expanding the number of Justices, then, these figures suggest a number. But that number – 90 or thereabouts – is, you know, completely unworkable.

Not to mention, a ten fold increase in population does not necessarily generate, or even suggest, a 10 fold increase in the number of legal claims or legal issues. It does say something, we think. But that’s for another post.

What we’d like to focus on this morning is that the SCOTUS, however dysfunctional it may be – and we think it is quite dysfunctional – doesn’t really do a lot, because with 9 Justices in a country of 330 million it really couldn’t possibly. In practical terms the SCOTUS is less important than other institutions, and less important even than other courts.

Which brings us to the point of this post, and not some future post we may or may not ever get around to writing.

Let’s look at some other numbers, just in the federal courts. There are 673 authorized US District Court judges. This does not seem like a lot for a country of 330 million. And there are only 179 authorized judges on the federal appeals courts. Same observation there.

According to wikipedia, the number of these lower federal court judges have substantially increased since, say, 1950: three fold for District Court judges and two fold for the appeals courts.

But let’s focus on the appeals courts for now.

We submit that the number of these judges is way too low. There are 13 such courts, mainly distributed geographically across the US and its territories, and what has happened with them over the last few decades is disturbing. Their primary function is to review the judgments of the District Courts, but they do not do that in any serious way. At one point a 7th circuit judge (Judge Posner) admitted this but the published article in which he did has disappeared from the internet.

Instead, these courts have become certiorari courts like the SCOTUS. Which is to say, they pay close attention to only a small number of the appeals that are brought to them. For the SCOTUS this is out in the open, and the SCOTUS has its criteria and practitioners know what they are and work within those parameters. But the courts of appeal cannot admit that they are certiorari courts even though they function exactly like that at this point.

And what are the criteria for deciding which cases go in the “A” pile and get serious attention and the vast majority – the “B” pile – which get no attention at all? Because the courts cannot be open about how they are really functioning, the answer is…nobody really knows. Some criteria are predictable: there’s a lot of money involved, or prestigious law firms are involved, or the government is a party and in a hen’s teeth rare occurrence actually lost at the District Court level.

Now that we think about it, those are pretty much the criteria. With a few others we may mention elsewhere. In that other post we may get to someday.

We think one of the biggest problems with the federal judicial system is the absence of meaningful review on appeal, and one of the primary drivers of that is….not enough appeals court judges. It takes at least three of them on a panel to entertain an appeal, so functionally there are only 60 panels to hear appeals from 673 District Court judges. To have meaningful appellate review for the cases that warrant it, we’d hazard a guess that that 60 number should double.

At least double.

We noted elsewhere a study that we can no longer find indicating that one of the primary obstacles to expanding the number of federal appeals court judges surprisingly comes from the judges themselves, who apparently feel that such a move would diminish their prestige.

That says a lot right there. And we can’t say more, this morning, so we may have to return to the subject at another time to expand upon these themes. We know our readers (all three of them!) will be impatient with this gap, but we have no alternative at the moment and pledge our best efforts.

In other words, to be continued………

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Class Warfare

So back in December we wrote about a case the SCOTUS took up, lamenting the waste of time and resources thrown at the issue and asserting our view that the Petitioners benefit from SCOTUS snobbery.

The case will be argued on Monday. It gets attention not from the mainstream press, which is preoccupied with 78 year old President Biden’s first news conference and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; but rather from the specialized legal profession press. Like Law.com. (paywall alert!)

One part of this is rich however. The issue deals in part with the boilerplate representations in its securities disclosures that Goldman Sachs “…puts its clients’ interests first.” Goldman is arguing, apparently without embarrassment and without being called on it in either the financial press or the mainstream media, that the falsehood of such a generic representation doesn’t matter and that it cannot form the basis for a class certification.

We seem to recall that there was a good deal of email traffic from Goldman Sachs back in the day demonstrating, rather excruciatingly, that the company’s culture was all too aware of the false nature of this representation, that high up corporate officers actually held their “clients” in contempt and believed in exploiting them to enhance corporate profits and their own career advancement, an actual and pervasive concern that clearly trumped the puffery directed at duping the hapless clients.

Indeed, Goldman Sachs was pushing its ostensibly cherished clients to buy into investments it was shorting. Now it wants the SCOTUS to hold that there is yet another reason – beyond the ridiculous Iqbal and Twombly, and beyond the already horrible and grossly establishment favorable summary judgment rules – to keep that kind of question from a jury.

We understand. Goldman Sachs might not survive a few jury verdicts informed by the kind of information that a trial would involve.

If there’s any semblance of perspective – to say nothing of a sense of justice – left at the SCOTUS, Goldman Sachs’ lawyers should have a pretty rough time on Monday.

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Cuomo, Sex Abuse And The History of the NY AG Office

Sometimes a sea change occurs and no one notices. Actually, a lot of times. Especially in politics and the legal profession. Especially in the last few decades. Especially in the United States of America, and even within that, especially in New York State.

In our youth as a lawyer in New York we had the notion that the Attorney General was an office of high integrity and professional responsibility and the “lawyer’s lawyer” who, because he was elected independently from the governor, would stand up to political pressure and do the right thing. We thought, in particular, that if a lawyer had a problem with a prosecutor the Attorney General’s office was the go-to.

Was this naive?

The history of the office over the last half century or so is interesting. Currently, it seems the AG is the heir apparent to the governorship, a virtual governor in waiting. But this is not the tradition. See here. Starting with John Bennett in 1931 no New York AG went on to the governorship until Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo both did so in the first decade of this century. In between, Louis Lefkowitz was AG for 22 years and apparently never even thought about running for governor. Bob Abrams went almost four terms as AG, resigned, and never ran for governor. Although he thought about it. Apparently.

What do we make of this? We think it amounts to a trend towards increasing politicization of the AG’s office, especially within the last 20 years. And what does that mean? It means an office that bows to political pressure. Who can effectively bring political pressure?

Police unions.

And as we have noted many times, there is no countervailing political pressure. There is no lobby for criminal defendants.

What is the net result of this politicization, a politicization that tends in only one direction and which in the end favors institutional litigants and especially the government? Many things, we suppose. But from a professional perspective, it represents a profound loss, at least when measured against our earlier and apparently naive impression that the AG’s office was in part there to weigh in to check prosecutorial excesses like this.

The AG’s response to that, by the way, has been rote and reflexive opposition. Mindless, really.

Then of course there is this. Does the AG’s office care about sexual abuse? No. Not per se. Only when there is an apparently advantageous political angle.

So getting back to the latest kerfuffle over now governor Cuomo – who, like governor Spitzer before him, incubated in the NY AG’s office and now likewise finds himself fending off allegations of sexual misconduct* – we can confidently conclude that the current occupant of the office has a political agenda dressed up as a moral purpose, not an actual moral purpose.

And we can also confidently conclude that in Rochester if the AG had wanted – really, truly wanted – to get an indictment against one or more police officers involved in the now infamous Daniel Prude scandal, she would have been able to do so.

This is the inevitable loss of trust that ensues when political and career considerations supplant moral and professional obligations.

What is Letitia James’ agenda? Presumably the governor’s mansion. But we’ll see.

___________________________________________________________________

*Lest we overlook an important tidbit, we should also recall Eric Schneiderman.

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The SCOTUS And Its Subtleties

So we have this Amy Coney Barrett stuff going on, will she or won’t she let’s have a confirmation hearing abortion health care blah, blah, blah.

None of this really matters. The SCOTUS surely affects the country – not in a good way, we submit, and we’re certainly not alone in that perspective, as a few links will demonstrate – but the effect is actually quite subtle, and accordingly quite difficult to address because basically to get to the nub of the problem you have to dig deep and in the US we are not good at that. We never were, really, but in the last few decades we’re not able to do it at all.

We allude to an odd practice in federal courts as directed by the SCOTUS: even though the death penalty, however you or I might feel about it, has never been and can never be found unconstitutional by the SCOTUS, the federal court system – including the SCOTUS – requires that all cases involving the death penalty be flagged and put on a separate track. Since there is no legal reasoning that justifies this special treatment, the special treatment must be justified, if indeed it is, by something else. What, then?

This: a political, professional and class determination that across-the-board opposition to the death penalty is a legitimate professional position and should be heard whenever it arises, even though the position itself is legally unjustifiable. Put differently, a significant portion of the chattering classes abhors the death penalty (for reasons not relevant at the moment) and the chattering classes have influence at the SCOTUS, and so they get special treatment.

It’s favoritism shown to the chattering classes, not just at the SCOTUS but throughout the federal court system.

Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing will not address this legally unjustifiable “death penalty is different” anomaly. Maybe it shouldn’t. The death penalty is such a rarity anyway. But the real reason it won’t come up and never comes up is that everyone participating in the hearing, and everyone reporting on it, are members of the chattering classes, and they don’t out themselves. It’s not in their interest to admit their favored litigant status out in the open where the correspondingly disfavored litigants might see it and start complaining. Or worse.

We’ve pointed this out before. Transcending the treatment of any particular case or issue, the SCOTUS communicates under the radar, so to speak, that certain litigants and certain positions get favored treatment, and everyone gets it and follows along.

Sometimes they say revealing things, though. Chief Justice John Roberts famously said at his confirmation hearings – speaking of confirmation hearings – that “If the constitution says the little guy should win, the little guy’s going to win in court before me…” He was probably responding to an accusatory question, but still: why is it necessary to say that? This is a problem in and of itself.

You can go back a long way, to the late 1970’s, to find “scholars” noticing that something disturbing had happened at the SCOTUS in terms of our former ideal of “equal justice under the law”. As time has gone on, more and more scholars have noticed.

But identifying how this, well, what shall we call it – institutional failure has come about involves paying attention to subtle details. We recently had some public awareness of the SCOTUS invented “qualified immunity” issue, which is good. QI is a problem. But arguably absolute immunity is more of a problem and that wasn’t even discussed.

A long time ago we had a case where a smart young man, while working for an employer, had come up with an important and potentially very valuable invention in connection with his employment. Figuring out who owns what in that situation should not be difficult, at least in the United States, because of Article I, section 8 of the constitution.

What did the employer argue about why he should own all rights to his employee’s invention? The uninteresting argument was that he had paid for the facilities and the time and he should benefit from his own investment, which at one time was addressed by giving employers what became known as a “shop right”. But that’s not important right now.

The interesting – really, kind of astonishing – argument was that the employee had signed away his right in anything he invented at the beginning of his employment when he signed his employment agreement. The “agreement” did in fact provide for that, but it was drafted by the employer and also provided that no matter what else the agreement said, the employer-employee relationship was “at will”, meaning that either party could terminate the employment relationship at any time for any lawful reason.

This was an astonishing argument because there are two kinds of employment: a) at will; and b) contractual. In other words, in an at will employment arrangement there is no contract. To have a provision in an employment contract to the effect that it’s an employment at will arrangement is completely incoherent, the two categories are mutually exclusive. But if you can clear that hurdle – the incoherence hurdle – it does let the employer, a favored litigant in a battle with an employee, have it both ways: he gets all the advantages of an employment contract with none of the disadvantages. He can fire his employee any time for any lawful reason. And keep the rights to his employee’s inventions.

This is a pretty outrageous position for the employer to take, but the fact is, employment “contracts” of this type are always upheld specifically to deprive inventors of their ownership right to their own inventions, which is flagrantly unconstitutional.

Has the SCOTUS done anything to address this problem? Is the SCOTUS even aware of it? No, not so far as we know, and if they ever did take up a case about this we suspect it would come out wrong, because “inventors” who fight their employers over their inventions fall under the “disgruntled employee” category and are hugely disfavored.

Chief Justice Roberts said the little guy would win if he deserved to because instead of being a given that’s an issue. And once it’s an issue there can only be arguments about it. And arguments are cheap, and what really matters is “policy”, and policy tells you that employers are more socially important and responsible than some pesky inventor, because once you’ve met a few inventors you know that they’re indeed pesky.

So as with too many situations, and however sincere Chief Justice Roberts was in saying what he said, the truth is that the deck is stacked against the little guy. Stacked heavily, and that’s especially true of the SCOTUS.

The real problem in this country is not Donald Trump being president. It’s that the courts and the legal profession have failed the country. Miserably.

Ugh.

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The Fed (Updated)

It’s basically on track to own a lot of American real estate. Residential real estate. Peoples’ homes.

As has been the case for more than a decade now, we are in uncharted monetary territory. We’ve been musing about it all along, such as here (from six years ago).

Interest rates continue to languish in the lower bound range long after they should have risen, long after everyone predicted they would except, possibly – as our 2014 post demonstrates – we here at LoS.

We get no credit but we try, and keep trying, laboring in obscurity with a little analysis here and there.

Regarding the simple fact that the federal government, through the Fed, now has a superior interest in many of the homes Americans believe they themselves own, we are not alarmed because it has been that way for a long time. Essentially, American “home ownership” has been a disguised form of serfdom, easily since WWII and arguably before that.

We have offered a couple of solutions, the simplest one here.

But it’s a pipe dream.

Collectively, history shows over and over that human beings are not capable of self-government no matter how much they delude themselves into believing otherwise. “Democracies” are never that, and we may as well admit that monarchy is the natural and therefore best form of government.

A monarchy could elevate its people out of serfdom far more easily than a “democracy” and thus is far more likely to do so. Not to mention that here we are in 2020 and our supposed democracy in the US has offered its people as an electoral choice for their “leader” two men who are plainly unsuited to the position. Occasionally in a monarchy you wind up with a child monarch; but at least there is hope that the child will one day be capable.

Ugh.

Update: The monetary world just keeps getting more bizarre.

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David Graeber, RIP

Apparently he died yesterday in Venice at the age of 59.

We and Dr. Graeber shared unorthodox views on debt, and ran into each other during the “Occupy Wall Street” phenomenon of the early 2010’s. Graeber, of course, was a highly credentialed academic; we are merely a lawyer. So, whereas Dr. Graeber’s thoughts were very influential in the halls of officialdom ours have never received so much as a polite mention, even when we beat the entire world to the punch on the “section 4 of the 14th amendment” issue, to the extent it ever really was an issue.

But this sounds like jealousy. An ugly digression under the circumstances, yet at the same time we are pleased to recall that Dr. Graeber did at one point comment on one of our posts, wishing us well in our endeavors.

We appreciated that at the time. We appreciate it now. And we are sorry that Dr. Graeber has passed. He was a unique, thoughtful, principled and fearless thinker who managed to thrive in academia. That’s no mean feat.

Our heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.

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National Security?

We don’t know why it has become such a Thing in DC that pandemics have to be a matter of national security. But that it has, in fact, become a Thing is undeniable, the spin machine is working overtime to convince us:

Swamp dweller grills swamp dweller wannabe about pandemics being a matter of “national security”

The point of posting the vid is not to embarrass Mr. Ratcliffe – although it could certainly be said that his performance here is pretty embarrassing – but rather to draw our readers’ (all three of them!) attention to the nature of the opening question, which posits that “of course” pandemics are matters of “national security”.

Can an argument be made that pandemics are a matter of national security? Sure. Our military personnel could become ill and temporarily unable to perform their duties, leaving us vulnerable to attack. That’s one argument.

Problem is, this sort of argument could be made to put pretty much anything into the “national security” box. Defective manufacture of sunglasses? This could deprive our military personnel of eye protection that might render them temporarily helpless in the defense of the country. It’s a national security issue. Of course! Look at the vid! Senator Harris says “of course”.

Thesis: this is basically an effort enhance the DC importance – “importance” in DC meaning much power, much money, much visibility – of bureaucrats in the health related fields, who apparently have not historically had sufficient DC importance. Why them, and why now?

Could have something to do with increasing skepticism regarding our bloated “health care system” and the availability, not to say the popularity, of “alternative medicine”. There’s a a fairly intense swamp effort afoot to silence Joseph Mercola, for example. Whatever your views on alternative practitioners like him, it seems he should be able to ply his trade and people can make their own decisions.

Some people see nothing at all wrong with lobbying the government to benefit themselves and their industry. Defense contractors, for instance. There are a lot of pitfalls leading to corruption in such a scenario, of course, but the players tell themselves that overall, they are acting to benefit others.

Because “national security”.

National security mojo is the currency of choice in DC. Maybe this is what the COVID-19 reaction is all about.

Ugh.

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Mouthpieces Of The Ruling Class….

…..writing in the Wall Street Journal, confirm our previous post, where we were incorrect about the Biden VP pick but – we gather from the WSJ article – peculiarly perceptive about the nature of this pandemic thing.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the swamp, recognizing in their bones, as it were, the decline of the US military and relative diminution of funding for the MIC going forward, has arrived at the conclusion – again, as if by instinct – that we must have new dragons to slay, and they have come up with …. viruses.

The “new normal” is going to be more of the same, but with a different face. A masked face, of course.

Ugh.

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Revenge Of The Swamp Creatures

Okay, here is a plausible scenario that’s kind of been lurking out there since this COVID thing started. 

You may have heard here and there that President Trump disbanded the “pandemic response team”. Apparently such a team was established by the Obama administration – in 2015.  Pretty much a brand new thing. Surprisingly, it was not housed in the CDC or the HHS; it was actually housed in…the NSC!  So the “disbanding”, or whatever you want to call it, happens in 2018.

And then of course we have the massive pandemic panic in 2019-2020.

The plausible scenario, then, because of the way swamp dwellers think and act – and especially those associated with the intelligence agencies like the NSC – is “We’ll show them how important we are to national security!”, national security being beyond debate or budgetary restraints once it is invoked.  

Another thing that would be in play once you create a pandemic response team in the NSC is the unholy marriage between the NSC and ……the pharmaceutical industry, which relationship now takes on the character of the defense contractor type companies like Raytheon and McDonnell Douglas, a constant and ever expanding government apparatus commanding ever more funding, contracts and positions of power and prestige for people like Fauci.  It’s like a new iteration of the MIC.  Tantalizing for swamp dwellers!  Some rogue president had better not touch it!! 

But then he did.

In other words, this whole COVID thing is an entirely plausible (although its scope and audacity is pretty unusual) swamp reaction to actual cuts.  Remember how “cuts” in swamp culture refer only to decreases in the rate of increase, and that actual cuts in anything are unthinkable and drive the swamp crazy?

I’m afraid it may be every bit as stupid, petty and basically subversive as that. 

Another tell: Susan Rice. She’s an impressive person in a lot of ways, but she is also…..a swamp dweller on steroids. She could easily take the phrase “Drain the Swamp” as the most pointed personal attack imaginable.

She actually established the “pandemic response team” within the NSC when she was the director.

Now she is certain to be Biden’s running mate.

Got the message, American electorate? This is what happens when you cross the swamp and elect a president the swamp doesn’t approve of.

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The COVID

We haven’t really dealt with the worldwide development over here on the blog. Maybe that’s because it’s not really lawyer type stuff, but then again it could be. In any event, we have commented elsewhere and for what it is worth we reproduce some of our thoughts here. We provide a link to what appears to us to be solid data from the CDC as well, so our readers – all three of them! – can make up their own minds if they are so inclined, which we hope they are:

It seems like the NYT is taking some firm data and spinning, but it’s interesting that they are focusing on the same “deaths from all causes” data. The CDC has these two tables, one showing week by week deaths nationwide that clearly show a noticeable increase from “expected” for some weeks starting in April. The second table shows deaths by location, which clearly shows some areas experiencing more deaths while others are even less than “expected”. The results in the second table are more ambiguous and raise some questions about why, outside NYC which is a national anomaly, there is much variation at all. Or come to think of it, there really isn’t that much variation, and not that much in the way of elevated deaths. If any, because the problem I’m seeing with the “data” has to do with “expected” deaths, which is based on only three years of history. Obviously, much, much more data is available to the CDC. They could go back decades if they wanted and adjust for population increase. That might yield a very different number of “expected” deaths, which in turn would paint a very different picture, although even so the picture now is not unambiguously as dire as the NYT article is advancing. You also have all these scare stories from Fauci, et al, about the “extraordinary variety” of symptoms the COVID causes, only to find with a brief google that every single scary unusual symptom has also been attributed to the flu in years past, before all this got so politicized – organ failure, brain damage, lung damage, and on and on – it’s a big world and diseases affect different people in different ways and lo, you can always find some outlier, but the rule is that the flu is like a bad cold for almost everyone and it looks like the COVID is like a bad flu for almost everyone. And it’s hard to make the argument that somehow this particular bug warrants any “public” reaction at all, unless we begin defining “grave public health threat” so loosely that we’ll be facing grave public health threats continuously from now on, and submit all of our interpersonal behaviors in public to the, let’s face it, central committee of public health experts, which raises an issue not of convenience or minor discomfort but something far, far deeper. At least for me it does. But I’ve gone round with you, and…… others on this and in truth I don’t have a comfortable level of certainty either way. As I’ve said, I recognize that there must be a line that gets crossed at some point and then we do indeed have a grave public health threat and we should hand ourselves over to the central committee for some period of time. But we have not identified that line. It’s important to do that, this provides an opportunity to do that but as a nation we’re just bickering about it rather than engaging in systematic, rational thought.

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Filed under epistemology, financial crisis, Media incompetence/bias