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TEMPERATURES will continue a slight warming trend through Sunday, remaining around seasonal norms. A strong cold front will move across the area late Monday, ushering in much colder temperatures, rain and mountain snow, and occasionally gusty winds. (NWS)
IMPORTANT HALLOWEEN SAFETY INFO
Dear Mendocino County,
As we celebrate one of the first holidays of the season, Halloween, I want to share some important safety reminders that are critical to our students, staff, and families. It is important that as a community, we look out for one another and provide the best environment for our children to learn and succeed. Halloween Safety
Halloween is a fun time for families to walk around their community. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shares Halloween safety tips that can save lives:
• Ensure costumes are not flammable.
• Add reflective tape to items and glowsticks.
• Ensure Halloween makeup is non-toxic and test on a small patch of skin before using.
• Ensure masks do not obscure vision.
• Instruct children to travel only in familiar and well-lit areas.
The lack of visibility and low lighting in neighborhoods can cause tragedies. Responsible adults should accompany young children on neighborhood routes and agree on time to return home. Drivers should always take precautions, especially on Halloween.
As we approach the holiday breaks, it is important to know that the days off from school can disrupt normal routines for students. Children may feel unsafe due to a change in their food security and social interaction. Teachers and parents should always look for signs of depression or anxiety in children. We encourage families to seek support from a mental health professional if children are showing symptoms of depression or anxiety, including the following:
• Fears interfering with school, home, or school activities, such as separation anxiety, social anxiety, and being worried about bad things happening in the future.
• Children become sad or uninterested in things they used to enjoy and feel helpless or hopeless in situations they can change.
• Changes in energy, sleep patterns and eating patterns.
• Having a hard time paying attention, feeling useless or worthless, feeling self-destructive.
Traffic and Pedestrian Safety
The safety of our students also extends to basic traffic and pedestrian safety. Every morning and evening, our students, staff, and families travel to and from school. Now that daylight savings is ending, there will be more dark mornings and nights. In Mendocino County, many roads do not have good lighting or sidewalks. We ask drivers and motorists to be extremely careful around schools, bus stops, and on the road in general. The National Association for Pupil Transportation shares valuable information about School Bus Safety. It is critical for both bus riders and drivers sharing the road to practice good pedestrian and driving habits, including the following:
• Please arrive at the bus stop on time with your children at the bus stop where the bus driver can see you.
• Never run across traffic to reach a bus, and always look both ways before crossing the street.
• Student backpacks should be securely closed. Anything that falls out of your hands or your backpack near the school bus should not be picked up. Please alert the driver about your item, but do not attempt to run around a bus or reach underneath it.
• For parents who walk their young children to the bus stop, be sure to teach and narrate good pedestrian habits along the way, including demonstrating looking both ways before crossing the street.
• Drivers should always stop when red bus lights are flashing, and never pass a school bus in case students are crossing the street.
COVID-19 safety continues to be a priority. Mendocino County Public Health shares an important COVID-19 health advisory: Everyone should receive the Bivalent COVID-19 booster and flu shot, available to be scheduled through MyTurn. Please take COVID-19 tests if you experience illness symptoms and stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19.
The safety of our community is our collective responsibility. I appreciate efforts to make our school days safe and productive for everyone in our district. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.
Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools
FIRST FRIDAY AT GRACE HUDSON
On November 4th, Grace Hudson Museum will be open for First Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. The evening will focus on National Native American Heritage Month, featuring the sounds of Ojibwe/Anishinaabe flute player Thayne Hake.
It's a perfect time to view the Museum's current exhibition, "Gathering Time: Pomo Art During the Pandemic," a groundbreaking show featuring the artwork of 15 different contemporary Pomo artists. Little Bear and friends will also be on hand with their interactive table of Native American tools and toys. Light refreshments will be served.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.
MARILYN DAVIN: The non-report about the wonderfulness of Mendo’s public schools cleverly avoids actually revealing the state’s annual student test scores, which aren’t pretty. As just one example of scores for Mendocino County’s 14 schools, Anderson Valley’s scores were by far the lowest: a shocking 19.52% drop in English scores, a drop of 15.73% in math. The only district to show improved scores for English were Leggett and Point Arena. Yea, we know, the pandemic, the new fall guy for all the state’s ills – so terrible, so (importantly) beyond our mortal control. And yet… many of the state’s districts showed impressive gains in academic achievement, some in poor districts. It’s all good and well to rhapsodize about how grades don’t matter so much, that a school’s “supportive atmosphere” and parent participation are equally (or more) important. Tell that to college registrars when it comes time to apply to post-graduation schools. Like it or not, grades are a key measure of success to pass through the rapidly narrowing door to what’s left of the middle class.
THE ATTACK ON THE PELOSIS
The degree of tension surrounding national elections has ratched up alarmingly. Today an intruder armed with a hammer broke into the San Francisco home of U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. She is number 3 in Presidential succession line to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Speaker Pelosi’s husband, Paul, happened to be home at the time. The assaulter tied him up, but he was able to call 9-11.
According to msnbc news Mr. Pelosi was hit at least several times with the hammer in the head. At present, 12:46 PM, the Speaker’s husband is now undergoing brain surgery at a SF hospital. Hopefully, he may survive.
This incident is not the only attack on democracy currently going on. Voters in Arizona have been filmed and threatened by armed men with their faces hidden but clothed in military gear like vest protectors and helmets carrying assault style weapons. Election officials and officials at the federal and state government levels are also being threatened.
We must stand up for our rights to vote in this midterm election and in every election to come. Do not let Donald Trump’s henchmen and stooges take over our Constitutional right to vote. What happened in Germany in the early 1930s can be repeated here.
Frank H. Baumgardner, III
MOTA: GOOD NIGHT RADIO LIVE FROM FRANKLIN ST. ALL NIGHT TONIGHT!
Deadline to email your writing for tonight's (Friday night's) MOTA show is about 5:30pm. Or send it whenever it's done and I'll read it on the radio next week. Or call and read your story in your own voice, since we got the phone thing fixed. The number in the Franklin Street studio is 707-962-3022.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio is every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg as well as anywhere else via TuneIn.com or KNYO.org.
Any day or night you can go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and hear last week's MOTA show. By Saturday night the recording of tonight's show will also be there.
Besides all that, there you'll find an open unguarded container of suspicious Halloween candy to worry about the aftertaste of until showtime, or any time, such as:
The story of Deadsy.
Horrible horror of the "irrigation system sprinkler valve air pressure hissing sound"!
This is just like fights of people bitching at each other on the MCN Announce listserv, each one in the right and everyone else in the wrong, and somehow no-one in the fracas is ever able to stop punching himself in the nose and simply go on about his business, so involved is he in the comical dispute.
And a thorough history of Halloween. (100 min.)
p.s. GLORIANA MUSICAL THEATRE RETURNS with the fabulous show /Addams Family Young At Part./ A large cast of kids, all singing, all dancing. Thank you for supporting youth theatre in our community! 7pm Saturday night, Portuguese Hall, across the street from Rossi's Hardware in Fort Bragg.
— Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
CATCH OF THE DAY, Thursday, October 28, 2022
CHARLES BLUNT, Ukiah. Narcotics for sale, conspiracy, offenses while on bail.
JOHN BOLTON, Willits. Domestic battery, DUI. (Frequent flyer.)
LUIS BUENROSTRO, Ukiah. Loaded handgun-not registered owner, criminal street gang member with loaded firearm.
AARON BULCKE, Windsor/Ukiah. Burglary.
ANDREW CEDILLO, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, cruelty to child with infliction of injury.
CRYSTAL CHARLES, Willits. Evasion, probation revocation.
CESAR DELCAMPO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-intoxicating drug & alcohol.
RITA LAVENDUSKEY, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
TRINIDAD MAGDALENO-PULIDO, Ukiah. Petty theft, probation revocation.
CHARLENE MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Narcotics for sale, conspiracy, probation revocation.
LORENZO MARTINEZ, Willits. Stolen property, theft by use of access card, getting credit with another’s ID, ammo possession by prohibited person, felon-addict with firearm, conspiracy, county parole violation, failure to appear.
ESTHER PRECIADO, Windsor/Ukiah. Burglary.
SOYRIA RAMOS, Hopland. Grand theft-dog, Stolen property, theft by use of access card info, getting credit with another’s ID, conspiracy.
COMEDY is now legal on Twitter.
— Elon Musk (Oct 28, 2022)
JERRY LEE LEWIS HAS DIED
A wild and wooly outrage like Jerry Lee Lewis will never be seen among us again. I always thought his music was, like himself, a force of nature. I loved it. Was listening to him sing Pink Cadillac in the car on my way home yesterday. Loud, and with the windows open. He will be missed.
THE PELOSI ATTACK
by Shawn Hubler
SAN FRANCISCO — Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was violently assaulted by a man who broke into the couple’s home in San Francisco early Friday morning, the police said. The authorities identified the suspect as David Depape, 42, and said they were investigating a possible motive.
The San Francisco Police responded to a break-in at the Pelosi residence at 2:27 a.m. on Friday, Chief William Scott said in a news conference. The assailant pulled a hammer from Mr. Pelosi and “violently attacked” him in front of police officers, the chief said.
The intruder was in search of Speaker Pelosi, according to a person briefed on the attack, and confronted Mr. Pelosi in the couple’s home shouting: “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”
A spokesman for the speaker said in a statement that Mr. Pelosi, 82, was taken to the hospital, “where he is receiving excellent medical care.” The suspect was also at a hospital, and will be charged with attempted homicide and other crimes, the authorities said.
A person with the same name as the suspect posted a number of conspiracy theories on social media, although it could not be confirmed whether the posts were linked to the intruder.
Ms. Pelosi was in Washington, D.C., with her protective detail at the time of the break-in, the Capitol Police said.
Brooke Jenkins, the San Francisco district attorney, said on Twitter that the investigation into the “horrific attack” on Paul Pelosi was ongoing, but that she planned to charge the suspect with several felonies, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and elder abuse.
Senator Ben Sasse, a retiring Republican, said in a statement that “every single American needs to be lowering the temperature. This is increasingly obvious: Disturbed individuals easily succumb to conspiracy theories and rage — the consequences are bloody and un-American.”
The attack reveals vulnerabilities in security for members of Congress.
The attack at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco reveals vulnerabilities in the security surrounding members of Congress. House and Senate leaders have their own security details, including plainclothes officers and armored vehicles. But the security officers stay with the lawmakers, who often travel from their districts to the Capitol and elsewhere.
Pantea Grover, 40, whose home in San Francisco is across the street from the Pelosis’, said that when Ms. Pelosi was in Washington, her husband, Paul Pelosi, did not have personal protection available. “When she’s not in town, her security isn’t here for Paul,” Ms. Grover said.
Security concerns have grown so pressing that many members of Congress are dipping into their own official or campaign accounts to protect themselves. They have spent a total of more than $6 million on security since the start of last year, according to an analysis by The Times published in October of campaign finance and congressional data.
Spending on personal security by Ms. Pelosi has been relatively modest: some $34,000 from January 2021 to September this year. More than 20 other House members spent more, with Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, in the top spot, pouring nearly $400,000 into personal security in the same time period.
The Capitol Police force has struggled to adjust to the rise in threats, rushing in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 assault to ramp up its response amid severe strains on the department. J. Thomas Manger, the Capitol Police chief, testified in January that his force needed to double the number of agents who work threat cases against lawmakers.
A police spokesman said the department had met that goal.
The department has opened two field offices in Florida and California, whose congressional representatives receive the most threats. It has also hired a new intelligence director, tasked with improving data collection and sharing. And the department now provides security assessments on members’ homes and district offices.
Rank-and-file members of Congress, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said the process of receiving additional security from Capitol Police is opaque and inconsistent. It took over two years for the force to deem a threat her office submitted to the agency as sufficient to justify giving her additional protection.
In an interview in September, she said that when the decision finally came, she asked herself, “Why now?”
Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, has become somewhat of an activist on the matter. She led a meeting for the House Democratic caucus on resources she used to secure her home and information she learned from Capitol Police after dealing with a series of unwanted visits from an angry constituent who was armed in one instance, according to police reports.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California denounced the attack on Paul Pelosi as an example of the consequences of divisive and hateful political rhetoric. “Our leaders should never fear for their safety and the safety of their families in serving the people they were elected to represent,” Mr. Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco, said in a statement. “Not in their homes, not at the U.S. Capitol, not anywhere.”
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT DAVID DEPAPE, Man Accused Of Attacking Paul Pelosi With A Hammer
by Rachel Swan, Dustin Gardiner, Sarah Ravani
Law enforcement has identified David DePape, 42, as a suspect in the Friday morning home invasion violent attack on Paul Pelosi. Officers said that when they arrived at the Pelosis’ home at 3 a.m. they found a man and Pelosi — the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — holding a hammer.
The assailant allegedly wrested the hammer from Pelosi’s hands and beat him with it. DePape was booked on suspicion of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse. Here is what we know about him so far:
1. He was tapped to be the best man in a 2013 nudist wedding at San Francisco City Hall. David DePape was known as a “father figure” in a three-bedroom Victorian flat in Berkeley, where famed nudist activist Gypsy Taub lived with her three children and fiance Jaymz Smith prior to the wedding she had planned to hold on the steps of City Hall. The couple had tapped DePape, a hemp jewelry maker who lived with them in the crowded home, to be their best man.
2. He listed himself as a member of the Green Party. Voting records show DePape listed himself as a member of the Green Party years ago.
3. He was a nudist activist. State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, recognized DePape as one in a number of nudist activists who took to the streets in 2011, and 2012. Many of them tried to antagonize Wiener, at that time a San Francisco city supervisor representing the Castro and Noe Valley areas, who successfully pressed for a ban on public nudity.
4. He kept a blog with screeds about “the ruling class,” right-wing conspiracy theories and racial slurs. “The elites/ruling class never censor themselves,” DePape wrote in a WordPress blog he apparently maintained and kept updating through August 28 — the date of the last post. With the domain “godisloving.wordpress.com” and banner “Welcome to Big Brothers Censorship Hell,” the blog, which lists DePape as an author, is larded with conspiracy theories about elites — including government officials, tech companies and media outlets — who he accuses of censorship.
It features a series of entries with headlines that invoke conservative beliefs or conspiracy theories promoted in far-right circles. On Aug. 25, DePape created posts with such headlines as “Communist Voodoo science” and “Feminist gets owned.” A post on Aug. 25 titled “The woke are Racists with a guilty conscience” has no text or links in the body.
Another post on Aug. 24 titled “Q” refers to a far-right Q-Anon theory with images of convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. A post published the same day includes a meme that states “Give us your children to indoctrinate into our satanic pedophile communist cult.”
The blog is laden with bigoted and derogatory statements against immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ people and Muslims.
5. Family members say he was estranged. Ron DePape, who said David DePape is his brother’s stepson from a previous marriage, said his family completely lost touch with the man.
“He refused contact with any family,” Ron DePape said in a phone interview Friday from his home in Powell River, British Columbia. At one point DePape lived in Powell River, but according to Ron DePape, he left at a young age to follow a girlfriend who lived in the U.S.
“He just kind of disappeared,” Ron DePape said.
6. He spewed antisemitic theories about the war in Ukraine. A person who identified himself as David DePape wrote a series of erratic and bigoted posts on the website frenlyfrens.com. In an entry published days before the hammer attack, he suggested the war in Ukraine was a ploy to benefit Jewish people.
HOW ABSOLUTELY and disgracefully has Major League Baseball turned its back on black America in favor of developing talent in the Caribbean and Central American countries? For the first time since 1950, three years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, there will be no U.S.-born Black players on either roster in this year’s World Series.
— Jeff St. Clair
REMEMBERING MIKE DAVIS
by Forrest Hylton
Mike Davis’s work reached my generation of radical readers in the 1990s, in the context of the fall of the USSR, the rise of Clintonist third-way triage, the EZLN in Chiapas, and the interpenetration of capital across the Pacific. I caught onto him in Portland, Oregon. There was something in his writing that had the immediacy and raw rage of punk or hip hop.
He spoke to us in a way that few of his generation could have, because he was listening so closely to young people, especially as he patrolled the meaner streets of LA to learn about them, comparing what he knew of previous generations in the city to what he was hearing from the young and imagining for their future.
Throughout the time I knew him personally, for most of the last two decades, he maintained his sense of urgent responsibility and debt towards the generations coming after him, and even a certain optimism about defining democratically feasible and ecologically sustainable forms of social transformation. He thought in revolutionary terms. A third of the country had always been more or less fascist, he said.
What we had to do was organize and fight. But how, and with whom? Like Marx, Mike devoted much of his time and energy to explaining what, exactly, we were up against: Reaganism, for instance. The Democratic Party under the DLC. And so on.
Mike once said he always wrote expecting to have to report back to an imaginary Central Committee of a non-existent Communist Party. This approach helped move some readers in activist directions, and others, organizers, to think more strategically – and more internationally – about US capitalism. It probably turned some into writers as well.
Homo academicus was basically alien to Mike, and, perhaps more important, of minimal interest. ‘Most of them suffer from a mysterious disease called elephantiasis of the reputation,’ he said, ‘for which there is as yet no cure.’ He cared about what was happening in public high schools, community colleges, the Cal State system, prisons. This was not a pose. An astonishing range of other worlds beyond the university were of interest to Mike, whose curiosity knew few limits. Towards the end of his life, he taught writing first at UC-Irvine and then at Riverside, and was deeply dismayed at the privatization of the UC system, firing off pithy yet incendiary messages to senior administrators. No wonder UCLA refused him his PhD and most of the US academy never tried to hire him.
Mike helped and encouraged me in my own writing. He was practical: he wanted to know who he could call or write to; specific agents or editors. He didn’t want or need followers or disciples – there is no ‘Mike Davis School’ ... not yet, anyway. Like any original thinker, he wanted people to think for themselves, not to follow someone else, much less him. There was to be no routinization of charisma if he had anything to say about it.
In spring 2001 I was a PhD student with a newborn son and (as yet) no union contract. NYU then paid its grad students a stipend that covered just over half the cost of what it took to live in poverty, according to its own studies.
I met Mike at Verso’s old offices on Varick Street, through a Lebanese organizer, Bilal El-Amine, who had left the ISO with a group of activists and was publishing a new magazine called Left Turn, for which Mike had agreed to write an article. Bilal had asked me to submit something on Colombia for the same issue.
Mike was in town to speak at an event organized by NYU students before sending some of their number off to Montreal to battle the robocops and protest against the neoliberal free trade agenda. Mike quoted from Francis Parkman’s eight-volume work on the French colonization of Quebec to help orient us towards Montreal and the history of First Nations and popular struggles in the region. It was hard to find a part of the globe, or a serious writer, that didn’t interest Mike in some way or other. Parkman was far from the obvious choice in such a setting, but he repays close study.
Before the event, between Verso’s offices and Washington Square, Mike, Bilal and I had stopped off at a bar. Mike picked up the tab gladly, and was glad to have the money with which to do so (he later told me, utterly without regret, that he had blown most of the MacArthur money he got in 1998 on his kids).
We talked about Colombia: the recent spike in massacres, the paramilitary death squads, the urban guerrillas in Medellín and Barrancabermeja. (The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were lurking around the corner: in both theatres, Colombian soldiers and mercenaries trained US clients in counter-insurgency.) Mike asked me if I could write it up for New Left Review.
The piece appeared in 2003, not long after the US invaded Iraq and just before the national-popular insurrection overthrew the US-backed government in Bolivia, where I was doing doctoral research. At the end of Planet of Slums, Mike mistakenly suggested that I had manned the barricades in La Paz (barricades did go up; I did not man them). He asked me to write a second volume with him but we never finished it. His health went south some time around 2007-8, and his doctor told him to quit writing books or die. Amazingly, he obeyed: after appearing on the Bill Moyers show in 2009, he stayed away from public life (until the pandemic put him on Zoom), though he kept writing essays.
Mike was always telling me about the defense industry jobs he might be able to get near where he lived if he were ever laid off by the University of California. He called his gigs at UC Irvine and Riverside ‘cushy’, and meant it, even though they involved endless hours of commuting and listening to rightwing talk radio in his truck, which he drove like the professional he had once been.
He thought you had to be prepared to work crappy working-class jobs in order to maintain your independence (though this wasn’t a quasi-Maoist call to proletarianism); that’s what being a radical intellectual meant, along with arrests, jail time, beatings, defeat and exile. Again, it has to be stressed that this was not a pose, although Mike loved to tell tall tales, and, like the late Aijaz Ahmad (1941-2022), who was also a formidable storyteller, told them as if he had written and edited them first.
Fully-formed paragraphs and even whole pages poured forth, sometimes achingly slowly, in his Southern California drawl (he never smoked weed, but it was hard to tell). He was once tasked with bringing Chilean wine from London for comrades exiled in Glasgow, but couldn’t find any that wasn’t connected to the Pinochet regime, and was embarrassed by his failure, but brought the best he could find anyway. The comrades told him he had not failed but, on the contrary, by trying, he had in fact succeeded. Salud, che!
In 2009 my (now ex) wife, Lina Britto, and I were in San Diego for a workshop and Mike drove us all over the place, including the Museum of Scientology in El Cajón. He took us for lunch at a favorite BBQ restaurant, told gruesome stories of violent incidents from his hot-rodding days in the late 1950s and early 1960s, pointed out a horse ranch Reagan had once had nearby, and related a bizarre detail about Reagan’s unhinged belief system. Lina sat up front and struggled to understand his accent and intonation, and he struggled to hear her, but he seemed to be having a blast as he gave us the tour he gave everyone who visited. Most people would have been flagging by the late afternoon – I know I was – but Mike, who had once worked as a bus driver and tour guide, seemed to be hitting his stride as the sun began to slant.
As we got close to his ‘Marxist bunker’, where he lived with his wife, the curator Alessandra Moctezuma, and their twin children, I asked if we could go and have a look at the Pacific, as Lina had never seen it in the US. Mike, or ‘Dr. Mojito’, as his comrade Danny Widener used to call him, said that certainly we could see it – from his deck, which meant he was ready to pulverize mint, and maybe add basil or something to the rum and soda. He had a secret ingredient, and really enjoyed hogging it; he didn’t share his mojitos.
Mike loved big bands from the 1930s and 1940s, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman, and I may have insisted on playing some of the stuff Benny Moré recorded with Chano Pozo in LA after the war. We talked about Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus and the scene on Central Avenue, which made it into City of Quartz.
‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’, Mingus’s elegy for Lester Young, now makes me think of Mike – Adam Perez took a series of photographs of him recently, in which he is wearing one. And what Mingus – who was raised in Nogales, Arizona, and remained an ungovernable border subject – did for big band composition is perhaps analogous to what Mike did for historical materialist writing about human and non-human life, as well as inorganic matter, on planet earth, in our time, when independent nationalism, social democracy and communism had all collapsed, and neoliberalism morphed into its current, necrotic form; he did it as well as he, or anyone, possibly could, and spared nothing, not even his health, in the effort.
(London Review of Books)
YOU READ SOMETHING which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important.
— James Baldwin
AN ELECTION, IF YOU CAN HOLD IT
by James Kunstler
Can our country begin to get its head screwed back on with the midterm election? The cynicism ‘out there’ is monumental. Even if the perfidious Party of Chaos gets thrashed unto near death at the polls, awful pitfalls and frightful quandaries await whatever regime coalesces into a legislative majority of the center and right.
And there remains in place the ghastly figure of “Joe Biden,” the waxwork “president” fronting the coterie of Jacobin crazies still aiming to drag Western Civ into the dumpster of history. One thing a congressional committee might probe posthaste: who exactly has been running the executive branch for two years? My guess would be Barack Obama by way of Susan Rice, Director of the Domestic Policy Council (office in the White House) whose activities are never, ever discussed in the news media. In fact, her mere presence is unacknowledged. I doubt that one-in-a-thousand people in Times Square could tell you who she is and what she does. How many times a day is Ms. Rice on-the-horn with the Gentleman of Kalorama? Are there logs of her calls? Does she use an endless supply of cheap untraceable burner phones? Or does she limo across town regularly to get orders in person?
Is there some penalty for running a shadow government, perhaps something in the sedition or treason folders of federal law? The degree of malign policy coordination throughout Western Civ also suggests that outside actors exert some heavy influence on our affairs. Is Mr. Obama running “Joe Biden” according to a WEF playbook, as appears to be the case with WEFfer implants Justin Trudeau of Canada and Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand? It would help explain how so many measures and actions outside our national interest have played out lately — the Gestapo-ization of the FBI, the overt censorship, the wide-open border, draining the strategic petroleum reserve, the drag queen shindigs, the foolish effort to “weaken” Russia in Ukraine, the climate change hysteria, the fiscal idiocy, and everything about-and-around Covid-19.
Of course, the rule-of-law has become a pitifully squishy thing in our time. Nobody is accountable for anything these days. The federal agencies can act however they like in the way of persecuting their political opponents, or inflicting immense harm on the public — like the CDC, FDA, and other public health agencies insanely pushing deadly mRNA vaccines on the public, despite massive evidence that the shots have killed and disabled hundreds of thousands. It’s likely that we will see aggressive hearings into all sorts or government misconduct come January, and it is important to determine who did what to drive America so badly off the rails, but that won’t mitigate the pitfalls and quandaries ahead.
There is a re-set underway for sure with every teeter of industrial civilization, but it doesn’t have to resolve on the side of high-tech tyranny and super-centralized global governance by elitist maniacs. In fact, it can’t. The bottlenecks of resources — energy, commodities, metals, all material things — plus the growing scarcity of real capital (as in representations of genuine wealth), guarantee that nothing organized at the gigantic scale will be able to continue — certainly not any global political administration. The WEF is a fantasy factory; all it can really produce is chaos and misery.
Many national governments may not survive the great discontinuities ahead. Everything we do has to get finer, smaller in scale, and more local. Many, maybe most, of our high-tech systems will be crippled by energy shortages and supply line breakdowns. The business models for everything — from the oil industry to commercial aviation to running mega-cities — no longer pencil out. And as economist Herb Stein observed years ago: things that can’t go on, stop.
Every attempt to maintain the status quo of our withering globalist arrangements will be an act of futility, including the wars that our elites seem to be yearning for. If we squander our remaining resources on kinetic conflict, that will only drag out the journey to new arrangements, destroy more lives, and break more things that still have value.
In theory, a new Congress could get rid of both “Joe Biden” and Kamala Harris via established procedure (impeachment) and install the next Speaker of the House as president — but it would require the most extreme degree of bipartisan cooperation imaginable to get convictions in the Senate.
Perhaps “JB” and the Veep could both be induced to resign. It’s certain that the Biden Family’s crimes of global bribery will be laid out in every sordid detail which, on top of his obvious incompetence, would ensure “JB’s” removal. Ms. Harris can answer for the border crisis. She was so lax and mindless in office that she didn’t even bother passing the buck on the responsibility she’d accepted for managing the border. She never even went down there to look around.
If the election actually happens — the cynical doubt it — it’ll be gratifying for sure to see a loathsome cast of characters swept away in the chem-trail of history. But the winners will have to get the country’s head screwed back on to face the tremendous task of making new arrangements for the continuation of daily life under harsh and alarming conditions. Or else the election may be the last thing we do as the country that we were.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY to Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), Welsh poet and prose writer whose work is known for its comic exuberance, rhapsodic lilt, and pathos. His personal life, punctuated by reckless bouts of drinking, was notorious.
"Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light"
"Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion."
"The only sea I saw Was the seesaw sea With you riding on it. Lie down, lie easy. Let me shipwreck in your thighs."
"Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea."
"And now, gentlemen, like your manners, I must leave you."
UKRAINE, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28
Russia's decision to end the draft, which had been met with protests, appeared aimed at maintaining support for the war among Russians.
Russia’s defense minister says the recent draft is finished, and no more are planned.
Kyiv’s forces press their advance in the south and work to hold off a Russian assault in the east.
The U.S. announces more military aid for Ukraine, including guided rockets and artillery ammunition.
Moscow adds 1,000 troops to defend the key city of Kherson, Ukraine’s military says.
A U.S. program aims to keep sensitive weapons in Ukraine.
In some of his sharpest remarks yet, Germany’s president condemns Putin for upsetting the world order.
A government-connected Kremlin critic’s flight from Russia raises questions about who is still safe.
CRITICIZING THE EXTENSIVELY DOCUMENTED western aggressions that led to this war is not the same as saying the invasion is good or that Vladimir Putin is a wonderful person. If this isn't obvious to you, it's because US propaganda has turned your brain into soup.
It's absolutely insane how literally any criticism of the indisputable well-documented western provocations in Ukraine gets shouted down and raged at. You're only allowed to say this war is completely unprovoked and began solely because Vladimir Putin is evil and hates freedom.
If discussing facts and criticizing the foreign aggressions of the most powerful government in the world is taboo, you might be ruled by tyrants and surrounded by their brainwashed human livestock. If you spend your time raging and yelling at those who advocate peace, you might just be pro-war.
— Caitlin Johnstone
THE GROWING CHORUS FOR PEACE IN UKRAINE
Thanks to the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the U.S. mass media, most Americans have no inkling of the deceptive way that Biden and his bubble-headed British allies cornered Zelenskyy into a suicidal decision to abandon promising peace negotiations in favor of a long war that will destroy his country.
The horrors of the war, the contradictions in Western policy, the blowback on European energy supplies, the specter of famine stalking the Global South and the rising danger of nuclear war are provoking a worldwide chorus of voices urgently calling for peace in Ukraine. If you’re on a media diet of the thin gruel that passes for news in America these days, you may not have heard the calls for peace from UN Secretary General Guterres, Pope Francis or the leaders of 66 countries speaking at the UN General Assembly in September, representing the majority of the world’s population.…
THE CONSORTIUM IMPOSING THE GROWING CENSORSHIP REGIME
by Glenn Greenwald
The rapid escalation of online censorship, and increasingly offline censorship, cannot be overstated. The silencing tactic that has most commonly provoked attention and debate is the banning of particular posts or individuals by specific social media platforms. But the censorship regime that has been developed, and which is now rapidly escalating, extends far beyond those relatively limited punishments.
The Consortium of State and Corporate Power
There has been some reporting — by me and others — on the new and utterly fraudulent “disinformation” industry. This newly minted, self-proclaimed expertise, grounded in little more than crude political ideology, claims the right to officially decree what is “true” and "false” for purposes of, among other things, justifying state and corporate censorship of what its “experts” decree to be "disinformation.” The industry is funded by a consortium of a small handful of neoliberal billionaires (George Soros and Pierre Omidyar) along with U.S., British and EU intelligence agencies. These government-and-billionaire-funded “anti-disinformation” groups often masquerade under benign-sounding names: The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensics Research Lab, Bellingcat, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. They are designed to cast the appearance of apolitical scholarship, but their only real purpose is to provide a justifying framework to stigmatize, repress and censor any thoughts, views and ideas that dissent from neoliberal establishment orthodoxy. It exists, in order words, to make censorship and other forms of repression appear scientific rather than ideological.
That these groups are funded by the West's security state, Big Tech, and other assorted politically active billionaires is not speculation or some fevered conspiracy theory. For various legal reasons, they are required to disclose their funders, and these facts about who finances them are therefore based on their own public admissions. So often the financing is funneled through well-established front groups for CIA, the State Department and the U.S. National Security State, such as “National Endowment for Democracy.”
As has always happened with censor-happy tyrants throughout history, the more centers of power inject themselves with the intoxicating rush of silencing their adversaries, the more intense the next hit has to be. Every movement that has wielded censorship as a political weapon tells itself the same story to justify it. In ordinary times, they will casually recite, free speech is a vital value. But these are no ordinary times in which we are living. Our enemies and their ideas are different. They are uniquely hateful, false, inflammatory, and dangerous. The ideas they espouse will destabilize society, cause direct harm to others, deceive people, and incite violence against institutions of authority and their followers. Thus, they reason, we are actually not censoring at all. We are simply preventing evil people from doing harm to society, the government, and to citizens.
Look to any government or society in which censorship prevailed — either today or throughout history. This narrative about why censorship is not just justified but morally necessary is always present. Nobody wants to think of themselves as a censorship supporter. They need to be supplied with a story about why they are something different, or at least why the censorship they are led to support is uniquely justified.
And it works because, in the most warped sense possible, it appeals to reason. If one really believes, as millions of American liberals do, that the U.S. faces two and only two choices — either (1) elect Democrats and ensure they rule or (2) live under a white nationalist fascist dictatorship — then of course such people will believe that media disinformation campaigns, censorship, and other forms of authoritarianism are necessary to ensure Democrats win and their opponents are vanquished. Once that self-glorifying rationale is embraced — our adversaries do not merely disagree with us but cause harm with the expression of their views — then the more suppression, the better. And that is exactly what is happening now.
Banishment From the Financial System
One of the latest, and perhaps most disturbing, new frontiers of censorship is the escalating means of excluding citizens from the financial system as extra-judicial punishment for expressing views or engaging in political activism disapproved of by establishment power. In one sense, this is not new.
In 2012, I co-founded the group Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) — along with the Oscar-winning CitizenFour director Laura Poitras, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others. The creation of that group was in response to the 2010 demands made by then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, along with other war hawks in both parties, that financial services companies such as the online payment processor PayPal, credit card companies MasterCard and Visa, and the Bank of America all terminated the accounts of WikiLeaks as punishment for the group's publication of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs: a trove of documents which proved systemic war crimes and lying by the U.S. Security State and its allies. Watching U.S. national security state officials pressure and coerce private companies over which they exert regulatory control to destroy their journalistic critics is exactly what is done in the tyrannies we are all conditioned to despise.
All of those corporations obeyed, thus preventing WikiLeaks from collecting donations from the public even though the group had never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes. Amazon then booted WikiLeaks off of its hosting platform, removing the group from the internet for weeks. This was nothing less than extra-legal banishment of WikiLeaks from the financial system. We created FPF in order to circumvent that ban by collecting donations for WikiLeaks and then passing those funds to the group. When I announced the group's creation in a 2012 Guardian article, and while reporting on these pressure campaigns against WikiLeaks in a separate Guardian article, I explained how dangerous it would be if the U.S. Government could simply prohibit any journalistic groups it dislikes from participating in the financial system without even charging them with a crime:
So this was a case where the US government - through affirmative steps and/or approving acquiescence to criminal, sophisticated cyber-attacks - all but destroyed the ability of an adversarial group, convicted of no crime, to function on the internet. Who would possibly consider that power anything other than extremely disturbing? What possible political value can the internet serve, or journalism generally, if the US government, outside the confines of law, is empowered - as it did here - to cripple the operating abilities of any group which meaningfully challenges its policies and exposes its wrongdoing?. . . In sum, [by forming FPF], will render impotent the government's efforts to use its coercive pressure over corporations to suffocate not only WikiLeaks but any other group it may similarly target in the future.
Last week — in response to numerous reports this year of PayPal's expanding use of expulsion from the financial system as punishment for what it deems “extremist” political views and activities — the tech investor Stephen Cole recalled this then-unprecedented 2010 silencing campaign against WikiLeaks that was led by PayPal. Cole wrote: “I was an engineer at eBay/PayPal when PayPal censored donations to Wikileaks in 2010. That’s the first time I remember wondering… are we sure we’re the good guys?”
Back in 2010, this ominous tactic was depicted as just a one-time exception, an isolated case for a particularly threatening group (WikiLeaks). But in the last year, there is no question that exclusion from the financial system is becoming the tool of choice for Western censors in both the public and private sector, who work together — just as Big Tech and the U.S. Security State do — to identify and punish dissidents too dangerous to be permitted to speak.
The most alarming harbinger of this tactic came in February of this year when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued an emergency decree granting himself the power to freeze the bank accounts of any Canadian citizen who he determined, in his sole discretion, was participating in or otherwise supporting the truckers’ protest against vaccine mandates and passports. As a result of Trudeau's extraordinary seizure of unchecked power, “Canadian banks froze about $7.8 million (US $6.1 million) in just over 200 accounts under emergency powers meant to end protests in Ottawa and at key border crossings.” The BBC called this tactic “unprecedented,” as it empowers the Prime Minister to freeze the personal bank accounts of anyone “linked with the protests …. with no need for court orders.” If it is not considered "despotic” for a political leader to wield the power to unilaterally seize the personal funds of citizens as punishment for peaceful protests against the government's policies, then nothing is.
But this tactic worked to end the peaceful protest which Trudeau opposed — people cannot survive if they cannot access their funds or participate in the financial system — and it is thus now being aggressively expanded. Perhaps the leading weaponizer is PayPal. Last year, PayPal announced a new partnership with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a once-respected group that battled anti-Semitism and defended universal civil liberties, before becoming yet another standard liberal Democratic Party activist group devoted to censoring adversaries of neoliberal orthodoxy (the ADL has, just as one example, repeatedly demanded the firing of America's most-watched host on cable news, Fox News's Tucker Carlson). The stated purpose of this PayPal/ADL partnership was “to investigate how extremist and hate movements in the United States take advantage of financial platforms to fund their criminal activities,” with the ultimate goal of “uncovering and disrupting the financial flows supporting [what the ADL claims are] white supremacist and anti-government organizations.”
But predictably — indeed, by design — this “partnership” was nothing more than an ennobling disguise to enable PayPal to begin terminating all sorts of accounts of people and businesses who expressed political views disliked by its executives. Over the past year, a wide range of individuals have had their PayPal accounts canceled due solely to disapproved political views and activism.
The lesbian activist Jaimee Michell was notified by PayPal last month that the account of her activist group, Gays Against Groomers, was being immediately canceled due to unspecified rules violations. Moments later, the group — created by gay men and lesbians to oppose attempts by trans activists to teach trans dogma and highly controversial gender ideology to young schoolchildren — was notified that their account with PayPal's subsidiary, Venmo, was also canceled immediately, leaving them with few options to continue to collect donations. Around the same time, the British anti-woke and right-wing commentator Toby Young, who had created a group called the Free Speech Union to oppose speech-based cancellations of accounts, was notified by PayPal that the group's account, used to accept donations, was also being cancelled; though PayPal refused to notify Young of the reason for the cancellation, it told The Daily Mail "it was trying to balance ‘protecting the ideals of tolerance, diversity and respect’ with the values of free expression.”
At the time of his PayPal expulsion, Young had become a vocal opponent of the U.K. Government's escalating involvement in the war in Ukraine. Two of the sites on which this long-time right-wing figure relied for his opposition to NATO involvement in Ukraine were MintPress and Consortium News, two populist left-wing sites long devoted to anti-war and anti-imperialism policies. Several months earlier, those two anti-establishment left-wing sites were notified by PayPal that their accounts were being immediately closed, and that the balances in their account would be seized and may never be returned. PayPal refused to tell either news site, or Coinbase, which reported on the account closures, what its reasons were. It was just an arbitrary decree by unseen authorities who not only closed their accounts but threatened to seize their donations without bothering to provide a reason. Now that is real tyrannical power. MintPress writer Alan MacLeod said that “this is a warning shot fired at anyone even remotely antiestablishment,” adding that “alternative media operations run on shoestring budgets and rely on enormous corporations like PayPal to operate correctly. If they can do this to us, they can do it to you.”
Earlier this month, PayPal announced that it would fine account holders $2,500 if, in PayPal's sole discretion, it was determined that those users were guilty of “promoting misinformation.” In other words, PayPal would just steal their own users’ funds from their account as extra-judicial punishment for the expression of views that PayPal — presumably working in conjunction with liberal activists groups such as ADL and billionaire-funded “disinformation experts” — decrees to be false or otherwise unacceptable. When this new policy provoked far more anger than PayPal evidently anticipated, they claimed it was all just a big mistake — as if some PayPal computer on its own accidentally manufactured a policy advising users about this seizure of funds. Regardless of whether PayPal returns to this policy — and there are, as Forbes noted, some unconfirmed reports that it is starting to do so — the intent is clear, because it is so consistent with so many other new frameworks: fortifying a multi-faceted regime of state and corporate power to silence and punish dissent.
Union of Big Tech, U.S. Security State and Corporate Media Giants
In May, the Department of Homeland Security's attempted appointment of a clearly deranged partisan fanatic, Nina Jankowicz, to effectively serve as “disinformation czar” sparked intense backlash. But liberal media corporations — always the first to jump to the defense of the U.S. Security State — in unison maligned the resulting anger over this audacious appointment as “itself disinformation,” without ever identifying anything false that was alleged about Jankowicz or the DHS program.
Though anger over this classically Orwellian program was obviously merited — it was, after all, an attempt to assign to the U.S. National Security State the power to issue official decrees about truth and falsity — that anger sometimes obscured the real purpose of the creation of this government program. This was not some aberrational attempt by the Biden administration to arrogate unto itself a wholly new and unprecedented power. It instead was just the latest puzzle piece in the multi-pronged scheme — created by a union of U.S. Security State agencies, Democratic Party politicians, liberal billionaires, and liberal media corporations — to construct and implement a permanent and enduring system to control the flow of information to Western populations. As importantly, these tools will empower them to forcibly silence and otherwise punish anyone who expresses dissent to their orthodoxies or meaningful opposition to their institutional interests.
That these state and corporate entities collaborate to control the internet is now so well-established that it barely requires proof. One of the first and most consequential revelations from the Snowden reporting was that the leading Big Tech companies — including Google, Apple and Facebook — were turning over massive amounts of data about their users to the National Security Agency (NSA) without so much as a warrant under the state/corporate program called PRISM. A newly obtained document by Revolver News’ Darren Beattie reveals that Jankowicz has worked since 2015 on programs to control “disinformation” on the internet in conjunction with a horde of national security state officials, billionaire-funded NGOs, and the nation's largest media corporations. Ample reporting, including here, has revealed that many of Big Tech's most controversial censorship policies were implemented at the behest of the U.S. Government and the Democratic-controlled Congress that openly threatens regulatory and legal reprisals for failure to comply.
Every newly declared crisis — genuine or contrived — is immediately seized upon to justify all new levels and types of online censorship, and increasingly more and more offline punishment. One of the core precepts of the Russiagate hysteria was that Trump won with the help of Russia because there were insufficient controls in place over what kind of information could be heard by the public, leading to new groups devoted to "monitoring” what they deem disinformation and new policies from media outlets to censor reporting of the type that WikiLeaks provided about the DNC and Clinton campaign in 2016. This censorship frenzy culminated in the still-shocking decision by Twitter and Facebook to censor The New York Post's reporting on Joe Biden's activities in China and Ukraine based on documents from Hunter Biden's laptop that most media outlets now acknowledge were entirely authentic — all justified by a CIA lie, ratified by media outlets, that these documents were “Russian disinformation.”
The riot at the Capitol on January 6 was used in similar ways, though this time not merely to un-person dissidents from the internet but also to use Big Tech's monopoly power to destroy the then-most-popular app in the country (Parler) followed by the banning of the sitting elected President himself, an act so ominous that even governments hostile to Trump — in France, Germany, Mexico and beyond — warned of how threatening it was to democracy to allow private monopolies to ban even elected leaders from the internet. Liberal outlets such as The New Yorker began openly advocating for internet censorship under headlines such as “The National-Security Case for Fixing Social Media.”
The COVID pandemic ushered in still greater amounts of censorship. Anyone who urged people to use masks at the start of the pandemic was accused of spreading dangerous disinformation because Dr. Anthony Fauci and the WHO insisted at the time that masks were useless or worse. When Fauci and WHO decided masks were an imperative, anyone questioning that decree by insisting that cloth masks were ineffective — the exact view of Fauci and WHO just weeks earlier — was banned from Big Tech platforms for spreading disinformation; such bans by Google included sitting U.S. Senators who themselves are medical doctors. From the start of the pandemic, it was prohibited to question whether the COVID virus may have leaked from a lab in Wuhan — until the Biden administration itself asked that question and ordered an investigation to find out, at which point Facebook and other platforms reversed themselves and announced that it was now permissible to ask this question since the U.S. Government itself was doing so.
In sum, government agencies and Big Tech monopolies exploited the two-year COVID pandemic to train Western populations to accept as normal the rule that the only views permitted to be heard were those which fully aligned with the views expressed by institutions of state authority. Conversely, anyone dissenting from or even questioning such institutional decrees stood accused of spreading "disinformation” and was deemed unfit to be heard on the internet. As a result, blatant errors and clear lies stood unchallenged for months because people were conditioned that any challenging of official views would result in punishment.
We are now at the point where every crisis is seized upon to usher in all-new forms of censorship. The war in Ukraine has resulted in escalations of censorship tactics that would have been unimaginable even a year or two ago. The EU enacted legislation legally prohibiting any European company or individual from broadcasting Russian state-owned broadcasters (including RT and Sputnik). While such legal coercion would (for now) almost certainly be banned in the U.S. as a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech and free press rights, non-EU companies that decided in the name of open debate to allow RT to be heard — such as Rumble — have faced a torrent of threats, pressure campaigns, media attacks and various forms of retribution.
One of the easiest and surest ways to be banned these days from Big Tech platforms is to reject the core pieties of the CIA/NATO/EU view of the war in Ukraine, even if that dissent entails simply affirming the very views which Western media outlets spent a decade itself endorsing, until completely changing course at the start of the war — such as the fact that the Ukrainian military is dominated by neo-Nazi battalions such as Azov, especially in the Eastern part of the country. Regardless of one's views on the Biden administration's involvement in this war, surely it requires little effort to see how dangerous it is to try to impose a full-scale blackout on challenges to U.S. war policy, especially given the warning by Biden himself that this war has brought the world closer to nuclear armageddon than at any time since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
It cannot be overstated how closely aligned Big Tech censorship is with the agenda of the U.S. Security State. And it is not hard to understand why. Google and Amazon receive billions in contracts from the CIA, NSA and Pentagon, and, as we reported here in April, the most vocal lobbyists working to preserve Big Tech monopoly power are former Security State operatives. Illustrating this alignment, Facebook — at the start of the war in Ukraine — implemented an exception to its rule banning praise for Nazi groups by exempting the Azov Battalion and other neo-Nazi Ukrainian militias.
This regime of censorship is anything but arbitrary. Its core function is to shield propaganda that emanates from ruling class centers of power from critique, challenge and opposition. It is designed to ensure that Western populations hear only the assertions and proclamations of state and corporate elites, while their adversaries and critics are at best marginalized (with warnings labels and other indicia of discredit) or banned outright.
Pro-Censorship Corporate “Journalists”
No discussion of this growing and limitlessly dangerous censorship regime would be complete without noting that central role played by the West's largest media corporations and their largely-millennial, censorship-obsessed liberal employees who bear the deceitful corporate Human Resources job title of “journalist.” The most beloved journalists of modern-day American liberalism are not those who divulge the secret crimes of CIA, or the chronic lies that emanate from the Pentagon and other arms of the U.S.'s endless war machine, or monopolistic abuses of Big Tech. Indeed, journalists who do that work — challenging and exposing the secrets of actual power centers — are the ones most hated by liberals in light of their adoration for those institutions. That is what explains their support for Julian Assange's ongoing imprisonment and Edward Snowden's ongoing exile as the only way to avoid the same fate as Assange is suffering.
Today's journalistic icons of American liberalism are not those who confront establishment power but rather serve it: by relentlessly attacking ordinary citizens as punishment for expressing views declared off-limits by these journalists' establishment masters. As I have previously reported, there is a horde of corporate employees at media behemoths with the classic mindset of servants of petty tyrants, whose only function — and passion — is to troll the internet searching for upsetting dissent, and then agitate for its removal by centers of corporate powers: NBC News’ disinformation unit employees Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny; The Washington Post's “online culture” columnist Taylor Lorenz; and the New York Times’ tech reporters (Mike Isaac, Ryan Mac and countless others). At the time I first reported on what they are assigned to do, I dubbed this “tattletale journalism": the fixation with demanding the immediate cessation of “unfettered conversations” and the constant attempt to confront and expose ordinary citizens for the crime of expressing prohibited views.
In September, Matthew Price, CEO of Cloudflare — a major tech company that provides services constituting the backbone of the internet, including security protections — refused to capitulate to the pressure campaign to cancel the site called KiwiFarms. The cancellation demands were based in the claim that the forum was allowing "harassment” and doxing of a Twitch streamer named "Keffals,” whom Lorenz in The Washington Post — under the headline “The trans Twitch star delivering news to a legion of LGBTQ teens” — had months earlier christened the Patron Saint of Trans Victimhood. Price, the CEO, warned that because Cloudflare is a security company and a hosting service, not a social media site, it would be extremely dangerous for them to start closing accounts based on public dislike of the content that appears on those sites. This is how he explains the company's steadfast refusal to capitulate to censorship demands — such cancellations, he explained, would be akin to demanding that AT&T refuse telephone service to right-wing commentators by arguing that they use their telephones to spread harmful views:
Some argue that we should terminate these services to content we find reprehensible so that others can launch attacks to knock it offline. That is the equivalent argument in the physical world that the fire department shouldn't respond to fires in the homes of people who do not possess sufficient moral character. Both in the physical world and online, that is a dangerous precedent, and one that is over the long term most likely to disproportionately harm vulnerable and marginalized communities.
Today, more than 20 percent of the web uses Cloudflare's security services. When considering our policies we need to be mindful of the impact we have and precedent we set for the Internet as a whole. Terminating security services for content that our team personally feels is disgusting and immoral would be the popular choice. But, in the long term, such choices make it more difficult to protect content that supports oppressed and marginalized voices against attacks.
But Cloudflare's refusal to capitulate to censorship advocates infuriated NBC News’ Ben Collins — whose primary purpose in life is to agitate for greater and more repressive control over the intent to stifle views that deviate from establishment liberalism — and, along with his NBC colleague and fellow censorship advocate Kat Tenbarge, used the massive corporate platform of NBC News to pressure Cloudflare to obey, claiming Cloudflare's refusal to censor on command endangers trans people. Within less than 24 hours of the publication of Collins’ article — blasted to millions of people across the various platforms owned by NBC and Collins’ corporate owner, the Comcast Corp. — the CEO of this powerful company reversed himself, groveling before the media's censorship advocates and vowing that this would be a one-time exception. “This is an extraordinary decision for us to make and, given Cloudflare's role as an Internet infrastructure provider, a dangerous one that we are not comfortable with,” he wrote, as he announced that he would do it anyway (it will, needless to say, be the opposite of a one-time exception, since any millennial censor at The Huffington Post or Vox can now easily force Cloudflare to keep censoring by exploiting this new precedent with new articles about their censorship target using the “worse-than-Kiwifarms” formulation).
And thus did this corporate "journalist” once again usher in a brand new escalation in the strengthening censorship regime: tinkering with the infrastructure of the internet to expel sites and people anathema to liberal pieties. As usual, not just liberals but also the left cheered this forced capitulation, as they are somehow convinced that the world will be a better place when the power to silence voices and ideas is in the collective hands of the U.S. Security State, their oligarchical partners who own Big Tech, and their servants who masquerade as "journalists” deep within the bowels of the West's largest media corporations. Polls leave no doubt that Democrats are vastly more supportive of internet censorship not only by large corporations but also by the state, and that is the mindset that asserts itself over and over to cheer these censorship schemes by the West's most powerful institutional actors.
This is the regime of censorship whose tentacles grow each month and whose power expands inexorably. Like all censors, the consortium that controls and funds this regime recognizes that whoever controls the flow of information will wield unchallenged power, and that few powers are more potent and tyrannical than the ability to relegate one's critics to the most distant fringes or to silence them altogether.