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The Dumb Man theory

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/05/2022 - 6:30am in



Or maybe it’s the Dumb Madman theory, which is even worse

Richard Nixon famously promoted the “madman theory” which held that if foreign leaders thought they were dealing with a warmongering madman they would be more careful since they could not predict what he would do. I’ve always thought there was something like that working with Trump. Only it wasn’t an act. It’s not that he was a warmongering madman. He was just incredibly stupid. And that is arguably even worse.

Fiona Hill had this to say about Trump:

Russian President Vladimir Putin often became frustrated with President Donald Trump over his lack of knowledge on geopolitical issues, Fiona Hill said, adding that this played into Moscow’s decision on the timing of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

One of the reasons Putin invaded Ukraine with President Joe Biden in the White House was that he expected the US to “sue for peace” and thought it would be better to deal with Biden than trying to negotiate with someone like Trump, whom the Russian leader had “to explain everything to all the time,” Hill, who served as the top Russia advisor on the National Security Council under Trump, said Tuesday at a Chicago Council on Global Affairs event.

“He thought that somebody like Biden — who’s a transatlanticist, who knows all about NATO, who actually knows where Ukraine is, and actually knows something about the history, and is very steeped in international affairs — would be the right person to engage with,” Hill said.

“You could see that he got frustrated many times with President Trump because he had to keep explaining things, and Putin doesn’t like to do that,” Hill said, adding: “Even though he loves to be able to spin his own version of events, he wants to have predictability in the person that he’s engaging with.”

A number of Trump’s former advisors have said the ex-president had a poor grasp of global affairs. The former national security advisor John Bolton, for example, said Trump once asked whether Finland was part of Russia.

Similarly, Trump’s former White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly also once said Trump “doesn’t know any history at all, even some of the basics on the US,” says Hill’s new book, “There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century,” which was published last year.

In the book, Hill writes that Trump’s meager comprehension of international affairs was a “major liability” for US national security.

“Whenever he got to meetings and the conversation started, it seemed like the first time he was hearing things from world leaders,” she writes. 

We are very, very lucky that nobody made a mistake. I have little doubt that if the rest of the world knew how impotent the entire government was under that ignorant president someone would have tried something. But like most Americans they almost certainly believed that Trump couldn’t possibly be a dumb as he seemed and they were unsure what the US was up to.

They know what he is now and if he wins the White House again they won’t be confused by any of it. He is an idiot and is easily manipulated. His accomplices are either crazy or equally stupid. It’s unlikely that things will unfold the same way they did in his first term.


They’re heading to Jonestown

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/05/2022 - 5:00am in



And you know where that leads

QAnon Part II:

You always want to cover up the Evil Apple, okay?”

The early-morning sun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, glints off the holographic stickers the vendor hands us as we fumble to remove our cell-phone cases. “They’re telling you, ‘You’re satanic, you’re Luciferian, you’re worshiping them.’ You’re bowing down to them right there. Do you see the Evil Apple? This is where it all started, guys.”

On this weekend in May, Christopher Key, who also goes by “Vaccine Police,” wears an off-white blazer over a faded red T-shirt cut low enough to reveal two New Age crystal necklaces resting on his tan skin. Also around his neck: something that looks from a distance like a plug-in bathroom air freshener. This device, he explains, creates an invisible four-foot bubble of purified air around the wearer.

A lively evening newsletter about everything that just happened.

The stickers, which he says neutralize our iPhones’ harmful and enervating frequencies, are free of charge. Key’s real product is Miracle Mineral Solution: a naturopathic all-purpose remedy that he says can eliminate all your medical troubles for good if you drink enough of it. “Chlorine dioxide!” he exclaims with an enormous smile as he swirls the mixture around in a Dixie cup. “This is the most amazing product in the world. Remember when President Trump said ‘Drink bleach’? This is it!” The customers lean forward excitedly. One takes out her pocketbook.

The ReAwaken America tour — a multicity event hosted by a man named Clay Clark and Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn — features rows of merchandise booths that sell everything from Trump playing cards to self-published apocrypha to bedazzled gun-shaped purses. But no table of any sort receives more traffic than Key’s MMS operation. As I walk past the table on the second day, I overhear a woman ask Key whether he thinks the bleach would work if mixed surreptitiously into someone’s coffee. Her husband, despite her pleading, has received the COVID-19 vaccine. She does not want him to die.

By this point, I understand her concern. Over the course of this conference, no fewer than ten people who call themselves doctors tell us the science is clear: This woman’s husband and I have both made a terrible mistake. The COVID vaccine has rewritten our DNA and sterilized us. Every shot we receive decreases our immune systems by 50 percent. Even if we somehow avoid infection, graphene nanoparticles are assembling themselves in our bronchial tubes and preparing to choke us to death. And that’s not even to mention the horrors the deep state has in store for us when it emits its 5G frequencies and triggers the release of HIV and the Marburg virus into our ruined bodies.

“This is sacrificing children to Moloch,” declares Christiane Northrup (who despite claiming to be a doctor does not have a current medical license) without a hint of irony. “You need to understand that this is the religion of the demonic cult that has been running the planet since the time of Genesis. And their time is up!”

If this all sounds like crackpot ravings from the very edge of society, you would be only half-right. This event may have more tinfoil per capita than a Reynolds Wrap warehouse, but it is anything but fringe. The speaker roster includes New Age healers, conspiracy podcasters, and self-declared prophets as well as trusted members of Trump’s inner circle. Kash Patel, a Trump loyalist once described as swinging “the biggest dick in D.C.,” speaks for half an hour on defeating the deep state. The two most infamous recipients of Trump’s last-minute presidential pardons are here: Roger Stone and Flynn, considered a scoundrel and a traitor in many corners of America but a persecuted hero here. Eric Trump is also in attendance — not exactly an A-lister but a Trump nonetheless. Halfway through the conference, Clark breathlessly announces that Donald Trump Jr. just signed on for an upcoming New York stop.

None of these men holds high office, but all of them have the ear of the man who controls a Republican Party in thrall to the idea that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Under such circumstances, what could be more useful than a movement fueled by prophecy and paranoia, ready to help a man chosen by God to fight a battle against ancient forces of darkness? Or, to translate it into the demented vocabulary of QAnon, a deep-state cabal of child-murdering pedophiliac elites?

Christopher Key, a.k.a. “Vaccine Police,” sells his Miracle Mineral Solution. Photo: Laura Jedeed

“If justice cannot take place in the Department of Justice and in the corrupt courts, then how can justice be served?” American Media Periscope founder John Michael Chambers asks the crowd, then answers his own question. “Gitmo!” he screams. “A new courtroom for war-crime trials at Guantánamo Bay. The stolen election will be exposed and then decertified.”

The crowd is on its feet, a roar filling the theater. “Freedom!” Chambers shouts. “It’s up to each and every one of us! Where we go one …”

Without a moment’s hesitation, the crowd completes the QAnon slogan: “We go all!”

You may think these people are just fringers but consider that Pennsylvania Republicans just nominated a full-blown QAnon Christian nationalist for Governor. Don’t assume they are fringe.


A Brasil Paralelo não quer que você leia esta entrevista

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/05/2022 - 4:05am in



Por R$ 99 ao mês, o assinante da plataforma de streaming Brasil Paralelo pode assistir a séries, filmes e fazer cursos como “Aborto: quem é a verdadeira vítima?” ou “Feminismo e marxismo”, este último apresentado pela deputada estadual bolsonarista Ana Campagnolo, do PSL – aquela que confessou destinar uma emenda parlamentar de quase R$ 250 mil para seu advogado e amigo. São conteúdos assim que conquistaram quase 300 mil assinantes de 2016 para cá, quando a empresa foi fundada.

Em um dos documentários originais da produtora, o sócio-fundador Filipe Valerim fala olhando para a câmera: “A Brasil Paralelo é uma organização 100% privada. Nosso objetivo é reverter as mazelas feitas na nossa cultura nos últimos anos”. Para levar esse lema adiante, a empresa parece estar disposta a muita coisa, inclusive amedrontar e tentar calar pesquisadores que resolvem torná-la seu objeto de estudo.

É o caso da historiadora paulista Mayara Balestro, de 26 anos, que tem sofrido uma série de ataques. Ainda em 2020, ela e um colega receberam uma notificação extrajudicial após a publicação de um e-book sobre a produtora. Intitulada “Nova direita, bolsonarismo e fascismo: reflexões sobre o Brasil contemporâneo”, a publicação chamou a atenção da BP. Por meio de seus advogados, a empresa pediu uma retratação, justificando que nada tinha a ver com o bolsonarismo ou o olavismo – o que é uma mentira.


O astrólogo de extrema direita Olavo de Carvalho é um dos entrevistados do documentário “1964: o Brasil entre armas e livros”.

Imagem: Reprodução/Brasil Paralelo

Em vídeo, um dos fundadores da produtora fala como Olavo de Carvalho foi fundamental na estruturação da empresa. “A gente teve uma conversa com o professor Olavo, e ele falou: ‘Você não podem perder a questão da militância. Vocês estão cumprindo um papel para o país, vocês estão prestando um serviço para a causa'”, contou, orgulhoso, Henrique Viana em uma palestra publicada no YouTube. O astrólogo e ex-guru de Jair Bolsonaro também é um dos entrevistados do documentário “1964: o Brasil entre armas e livros”, que foi disponibilizado pela BP no YouTube e soma quase 10 milhões de visualizações.

Balestro não está sozinha. Em dezembro, o Intercept revelou casos de outros pesquisadores que também foram alvos da ofensiva judicial da BP, que não quer seu nome vinculado a Jair Bolsonaro ou à extrema direita.

Na semana em que a historiadora defenderia sua dissertação de mestrado intitulada “Agenda conservadora, ultraliberalismo e ‘guerra cultural': ‘Brasil Paralelo’ e a hegemonia das direitas no Brasil contemporâneo” pela Universidade Estadual do Oeste do Paraná, ela conta que seu Facebook foi invadido e o link para a exibição da defesa foi hackeado e derrubado. Mas ela não desistiu. A defesa foi feita e recebeu nota máxima.

Tempos depois, veio a segunda onda de ataques: Leandro Ruschel, empresário bolsonarista e membro do conselho da BP, publicou fotos pessoais de Mayara dizendo ter sido caluniado por ela na dissertação de mestrado apresentada, despertando a fúria de seus quase um milhão de seguidores no Twitter, que foram atacá-la – obviamente.

O empresário bolsonarista e membro do conselho da BP Leandro Ruschel levou a dissertação de Mayara Balestro para o Twitter.

O empresário bolsonarista e membro do conselho da BP Leandro Ruschel levou a dissertação de Mayara Balestro para o Twitter.

Mayara recebeu uma enxurrada de críticas nas redes sociais e ficou preocupada com a situação. “Sou uma pesquisadora jovem, estou começando agora a carreira”, contou em entrevista para o Intercept. Leia abaixo nossa conversa.

Intercept – Como foi seu primeiro contato com a Brasil Paralelo?

Mayara Balestro – Há alguns anos, um amigo me indicou um dos vídeos mais famosos deles, que é “Brasil: a última cruzada”, feito em 2017. Ele disse que havia alguns problemas historiográficos e que talvez eu me interessasse em tentar entender esses grupos de extrema direita, da nova direita. Na época, eu já estava fazendo um projeto para compreender a atuação desses grupos em ascensão no Brasil contemporâneo.

Quando você assistiu a esse vídeo, o que achou?

Sou historiadora de formação e há alguns problemas de tentar reviver esse passado melancólico, monárquico, essa história vista de cima. É uma análise da escola metódica. Existem vários problemas historiográficos quanto a isso, principalmente a tentativa de apagar e silenciar as minorias, a participação das mulheres, dos negros, e tentar reescrever essa história vista de cima.

Quando você começou a pesquisar a Brasil Paralelo, o que mais chamou sua atenção?
A organização deles com grupos do empresariado. Por exemplo, em 2017, eles participaram do Fórum da Liberdade. Me chamou a atenção essa articulação da empresa Brasil Paralelo, dos sócios-fundadores, com o empresariado brasileiro, para além dos conteúdos produzidos. Acho que limita muito entender só o conteúdo produzido pela BP, mesmo que seja a forma principal que eles têm de tentar reescrever a história e seu modus operandi. Eles se organizavam em Porto Alegre, no Rio Grande do Sul, onde a BP foi fundada, mas não se limitavam a essa área. Tanto que foram para São Paulo e Rio de Janeiro. Eles sempre se organizavam e davam palestras com outras pessoas do grande empresariado para poder atuar e exibir esses materiais produzidos.

E como é essa articulação?

É a projeção deles em outros espaços para além da BP. O Hélio Beltrão, presidente do Instituto Mises, é uma das figuras chaves para compreender a BP. O Mises representa a ideologia da Brasil Paralelo e ressalta todo o discurso “meritocrático”. Em 2019, o Hélio Beltrão foi convidado por eles para ministrar uma palestra intitulado Fórum A Última Cruzada, em São Paulo. Nesse evento, ele ressaltou a importância das ideias do Mises Brasil.

‘Outra pesquisadora também ficou com medo e parou de pesquisar a BP. Ela acabou tomando outro rumo.’

Eles também cooptam empresários a participar dos vídeos deles. Para além disso, em 2019, eles realizaram um encontro em São Paulo dando palestras e se articulando com esse empresariado. O evento teve participação do Hélio Beltrão novamente, do Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Bragança [deputado federal pelo PL] e do Alexandre Borges [comentarista político]. É uma forma de legitimar o conteúdo que estão produzindo, as pautas e os discursos que eles estão puxando.

E quais são essas pautas? 

São sempre temas polêmicos e históricos. É uma forma de tentar reescrever a história. Eles estão buscando bastante pautas identitárias também. Recentemente, eles publicaram “O fim da beleza” [na verdade, é ‘A face oculta do feminismo’, que fala sobre o antifeminismo e que gera identificação na mulher que se diz antifeminista.

Quem é o público-alvo da BP?

No meu mapeamento, consegui identificar que são principalmente jovens entre seus 14 e 20 anos, e também educadores, sejam das ciências humanas ou das ciências exatas, na faixa dos 30 a 40 anos. O público é principalmente masculino e branco.

O que mais te incomoda nos conteúdos da BP?
Como eles querem reescrever a história silenciando as minorias. Aquele documentário, “1964”, deixa isso bem claro. Pessoas que participaram dele falam que quem pode escrever sobre a história da ditadura do Brasil é quem passou pela ditadura no Brasil. Isso fica bem evidente quando aparece o Olavo de Carvalho no filme dando depoimento sobre como as universidades são formadas por marxistas e que, a partir daí, a direita precisava retomar as universidades, a cultura. Aliás, em um dos vídeos, o Henrique Viana, sócio-fundador, fala: “Foi o professor Olavo de Carvalho que deu a ideia de sermos uma empresa militante. Porque, até então, a gente ia ser uma empresa normal, de entretenimento”.

A BP hoje é uma empresa rentável?

Dá um bom lucro, mas eles têm muitos gastos em anúncios. Inclusive, estou fazendo um levantamento sobre os gastos deles. A principal ferramenta deles para atrair público são os anúncios.

Anúncios daqueles que a gente vê antes de assistir um vídeo no YouTube?
Isso. Eu estou fazendo um levantamento desses anúncios por meio de uma plataforma com todas essas informações. Recentemente, eles gastaram R$ 200 mil por anúncio feito.

Quantos assinantes eles têm?

Atualmente, eles estão com quase 300 mil assinantes. Uma curiosidade é que eles também investem em anúncios em canais de esquerda. Eles investiram bastante também em grupos bolsonaristas no Telegram. Uma das estratégias é fazer uma produção deles passar no canal de um influencer bolsonarista famoso para depois poder fazer essa articulação.

A Brasil Paralelo atua fora do mundo digital?
Desde 2019, eles realizam algumas palestras em escolas e tentam fazer essa articulação em espaços públicos para poder se legitimar e se dizer apenas uma empresa de entretenimento e educação. Eles fizeram uma parceria em Paraisópolis com um líder comunitário para poder levar esse material da BP para as periferias de São Paulo.  Em 2019, vi na plataforma o comentário de uma diretora de escola dizendo que foi apresentado o documentário “1964: o Brasil entre armas e livros” na unidade que ela dirigia. Eles também já exibiram outro documentário, o “Congresso Brasil Paralelo” na Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto.

Recentemente, teve uma polêmica com o documentário “O fim da beleza” na UFPR, a Universidade Federal do Paraná, onde eles exibiram o filme. Teve pouquíssima gente assistindo. [Em março deste ano, a Brasil Paralelo foi alvo de protestos de alunos e professores ao tentar exibir a produção na universidade. A própria BP chamou o ato de “censura”.]

E como você começou a ser perseguida por pesquisar a BP?
A situação começou no final de 2020, quando eu publiquei um e-book com um colega de mestrado chamado “Nova direita, bolsonarismo, fascismo: reflexões sobre o Brasil contemporâneo”. Em fevereiro de 2021, eu participei de um evento com um colega e fomos atacados por pessoas que consumiam a BP. Foram várias formas de ataques e xingamentos. Em junho, recebi a primeira notificação extrajudicial da Brasil Paralelo. Eles enviaram a notificação para mim, para o meu amigo e também para a editora do e-book. Eles pediam uma retratação por parte da editora e dos organizadores. E, dentro dessa notificação extrajudicial, eles estavam falando que não tinham relação nenhuma com Olavo de Carvalho, com olavismo, com bolsonarismo ou com a extrema direita, sendo que dentro do documentário há várias falas do Olavo de Carvalho. O Olavo e o empresário Hélio Beltrão são os principais padrinhos da BP.

O que a notificação pedia?

Um direito de resposta dentro do e-book, que a editora acabou publicando. Eles também pediram uma retratação dos organizadores. Na época, a editora ficou com medo e um dos organizadores também ficou com medo. Um tempo depois, outro professor também foi notificado. Foi quando eu falei: “Olha, nós precisamos nos articular, criar uma rede para poder pensar em estratégias e poder lidar com essas perseguições da extrema direita”. Sou uma pesquisadora jovem, estou começando agora a carreira. A notificação extrajudicial não é nada, mas é a forma deles de tentar nos calar, nos silenciar. Eu não fui a primeira e meus colegas não foram os primeiros. Isso já estava acontecendo. Outra pesquisadora também ficou com medo e parou de pesquisar a BP. Ela acabou tomando outro rumo.

Depois de um tempo, próximo à minha defesa do mestrado, passei a ser perseguida quando participava de eventos que tinham a BP no meio. Eu sempre era atacada. Na semana da apresentação do meu mestrado, conseguiram derrubar o link da minha defesa. Tive o Facebook invadido.

Atacada e perseguida como? 

Recentemente, teve também o caso do Leandro Ruschel [empresário e membro do conselho da BP] no Twitter. Por ele ter uma rede grande de seguidores, eu recebi mensagens e xingamentos no Facebook falando da pesquisa, desqualificando a pesquisa por conta de erros ortográficos, e principalmente por conta das minhas escolhas metodológicas e referenciais teóricos de cunho marxista e gramsciano. Li entre os tuítes do Leandro Ruschel gente falando que as universidades estão tomadas de comunistas, questionando como a universidade pública financia pesquisas iguais a essa. Foram vários tipos de assédio. E principalmente no Facebook, que eu tentava bloquear, mas as pessoas iam lá e comentavam em alguma publicação minha que estava pública. E também no Messenger.

Mensagens recebidas por Mayara Balestro em seu Facebook.

Mensagens recebidas por Mayara Balestro em seu Facebook.

Teve uma mulher que comentou no Twitter do Ruschel que “uma pessoa dessa sai na rua e depois não sabe porque apanha”. Tiveram muitos comentários assim.

Acho que as pessoas precisam entender que, para além da pesquisadora Mayara Balestro, também há a filha de alguém, a amiga de alguém, existem sentimentos. Quando você vê esse tipo de ataque, entende o quanto isso é preocupante para o Brasil de hoje. O caminho é desanimador. Estou começando minha carreira acadêmica agora. Ler isso e a forma como a pesquisa foi desqualificada foi muito intenso. Foi terrível.

Em vídeo publicado e depois apagado do YouTube, Leandro Ruschel fala que a dissertação de Mayara foi uma das maiores calúnias e difamações que ele já sofreu.

Em vídeo publicado e depois apagado do YouTube, Leandro Ruschel fala que a dissertação de Mayara foi uma das maiores calúnias e difamações que ele já sofreu.

O Leandro Ruschel foi muito apelativo no Twitter. Ele mencionou sua pesquisa usando fotos pessoais suas. Qual sentimento você teve ao ver aqueles tuítes, sabendo que ele é um cara público, com muitos seguidores?
Ele tem quase um milhão de seguidores no Twitter. Fora o YouTube dele, onde fez um vídeo de quase meia hora desqualificando a pesquisa. É um sentimento horrível, né, porque você fica quase dois anos e meio fazendo uma pesquisa de que você gosta e na qual acredita. Foi um sentimento de “Que Brasil é esse? Qual rumo a gente quer para esse país?”. Eu estou fazendo ciência, não estou lendo referenciais e embasando a minha opinião. Ali tem fontes, tem horas de estudos, levantamento, discussão, embasamento científico. Então, quando você lê uma coisa assim, você fica sem rumo. É muito difícil lidar com isso.

Mas eu tive uma rede de amparo muito grande. E o que me motivou a levar em consideração o doutorado foi isso. Porque foi bem no momento em que eu iniciei o doutorado. Foi quando eu pensei: “Eu quero pesquisar isso mesmo? Qual é o limite da minha saúde mental para aguentar tudo isso?”. Eu não quero que seja um combate. É o meu objeto de estudo, e eu preciso lidar com isso.

Teve uma adolescente que veio me infernizar no Facebook falando que o professor dela de história passou o vídeo do Leandro Ruschel falando de mim na sala de aula. E essa adolescente começou a me xingar no Facebook, falando: “Você é uma professora burra”.

Leandro Ruschel postando fotos pessoais da pesquisadora no Twitter.

Leandro Ruschel postando fotos pessoais da pesquisadora no Twitter.

O Ruschel apagou os tuítes que fez sobre você. Ele também apagou o vídeo?

Parece que sim.

No seu doutorado, você vai seguir pesquisando a BP?
Sim, é a continuação do mestrado. Agora, eu vou tentar entender a articulação deles em espaços públicos e como eles atuam dentro da política de fato.

Correção: 23 de maio de 2022
O deputado Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Bragança é do PL, e não do PFL. Também foi adicionada uma nota sobre o documentário ‘A face oculta do feminismo’ em uma das respostas da historiadora.

The post A Brasil Paralelo não quer que você leia esta entrevista appeared first on The Intercept.

Free speech for dummies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/05/2022 - 3:30am in



Florida leads the parade

The right wing is very, very concerned about free speech these days. They whine incessantly that they are being cancelled for their views. Yet across the country they are banning books, censoring teachers, dictating what can and cannot be taught in classrooms. Trump must be allowed to use any platform he chooses to destroy democracy. But kids cannot be allowed to learn about Black history or celebrate gay rights.

Down in Florida, as you know, they have passed a law banning teachers from discussing any kind of gay topic in the lower grades. They insist it’s just to keep the innocent little kids from being tainted by sexuality. But the law is very vague and allows all schools, at any level, to ban these discussions if they can find a reason. In one high school, they have found them. And they are persecuting one young gay student for speaking out:

If you think the right isn’t coming for gay rights you’re sadly mistaken. They are “drawing the line” at trans rights but it’s just the beginning. The religious among them are immovably hostile to anything but traditional family arrangements. Don’t assume anything they hate is safe. And they hate a lot.


Term limit the Supremes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/05/2022 - 2:30am in



This system isn’t working

With all eyes on the Supreme Court following the leak of a draft opinion regarding abortion, Americans support 69 – 27 percent limiting the number of years a Supreme Court Justice can serve on the Supreme Court, according to a Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pea-ack) University national poll of adults released today. There is majority support among all party groups. Democrats (77 – 18 percent), independents (69 – 27 percent), and Republicans (61 – 36 percent) all support limiting how long a Supreme Court Justice can serve.

A majority of Americans (63 percent) say the Supreme Court is mainly motivated by politics, while 32 percent say the Supreme Court is mainly motivated by the law. There are stark divisions along party lines. Democrats say 86 – 11 percent and independents say 63 – 32 percent the Supreme Court is mainly motivated by politics, while Republicans say 53 – 42 percent the Supreme Court is mainly motivated by the law.

Having three justices on the Court under the circumstances by which they were appointed, five of them by men who didn’t win the popular vote, would have delegitimized the court regardless. But the Court’s actions ever since Bush v Gore have been partisan and increasingly radical to the point at which it’s now just another right wing affront to democracy. Republicans have rammed through a super-majority of right wing extremists without regard to precedent, norms or legitimacy. They know the country is changing and the Court is now just another illegitimate tool to undemocratically secure power for themselves.

Term limits are just one way to fix this problem and it isn’t entirely satisfactory. But it’s a start.


Constructing “ex ante” real interest rates on FRED

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/05/2022 - 11:00pm in



Interest rates are some of the most popular series on FRED. Almost all the interest rates on FRED are nominal interest rates, which reflect the annual cost of borrowing money. A nominal interest rate doesn’t account for the effects of inflation, though. For example, if a lender lends $100 for a year at 5% interest, the borrower repays the lender with $105 at the end of the year. But, if inflation has been 10% over that same year, the lender is actually able to buy less with the $105 repayment at the end of that year than they could have bought with the $100 originally loaned at the beginning of that year.

A real interest rate is an inflation-adjusted interest rate. You might think of a real interest rate as the price of borrowing in goods, not money. Because people and firms make decisions based on real quantities, not nominal quantities, real interest rates are more useful than nominal interest rates. For example, real interest rates are much more informative than nominal interest rates about the stance of monetary policy.

Technically, a gross real interest rate (1+r) is calculated as the ratio of gross nominal rates (1+i) to the gross inflation rate (1+π):

(1+r) = (1+i) / (1+π)

Suppose that candy bars cost $1 on January 1, 2022. The lender could use the $100 to buy 100 candy bars, but forgoes the purchase to make a loan of $100 instead. When the borrower repays the loan at 5% interest on January 1, 2023, the lender receives $105 dollars. If inflation has raised the price of candy bars by 10% by January 1, 2023, then each candy bar costs $1.10 and the lender can buy only 95 candy bars: 105/1.1 = 95.4545. The gross real rate of return equals the real goods one can buy with the payoff from the loan (95.4545 candy bars) over the initial real value of the loan (100 candy bars). So, the gross real rate of interest is 95.4545/100 = 1.05/1.10 = (1+i)/(1+π).

This is often approximated as the interest rate minus the inflation rate.

r ≅ i – π

This approximation is generally useful for relatively low rates of interest and inflation. With the example above, it would be -5% = 5% – 10%. And yes, real interest rates can be negative.

To calculate historical real interest rates, one can either use a forecast of inflation or the average rate of inflation that actually occurred over the period of the loan/bond. When one uses a forecast of inflation to construct a real rate, that measure is called an “ex ante” real rate, while using realized inflation produces “ex post” real rates. Because forecasts of inflation will generally differ from each other and from the average rate of inflation realized over a period, estimates of real interest rates for the same date and same horizon can differ from each other.

Despite the usefulness of real interest rates, FRED only has a few real interest rates: 1-month, 1-year, and 10-year real rates, all at the monthly frequency, constructed by the Cleveland Fed with a variety of data to estimate the expected rate of inflation.

FRED users can also construct daily historical series for real rates of interest with market-implied forecasts of inflation, called “breakeven” inflation rates derived from options prices. There are breakeven inflation rates on FRED for 5-, 7-, 10-, 20-, and 30-year horizons.

The FRED graph at the top compares the monthly Cleveland Fed 10-year real interest rate with a daily 10-year real rate derived from breakeven inflation. The two series track each other reasonably well for most of the sample, but diverge at times when the breakeven inflation rate is particularly volatile, such as during the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021.

Using the methods to construct the above graph, FRED users can investigate real interest rates in several ways.

  • It would be easy to compare the exact formula for a real interest rate r = ((1+i)/(1+π)-1) with the approximation (r ≅ i – π) by using the “add line” and “formula” functions to create another series. You will see that the lines are difficult to distinguish.
  • One could also compare the 10-year real interest rate above with the implied 5-year real interest rate from the 5-year constant maturity Treasury yield and 5-year breakeven inflation rate.
  • One could download yield and inflation data to construct “ex post” real interest rates in Excel or another application.

How this graph was created: Search for and select “10-year constant maturity Treasury yield” and choose “Market Yield on U.S. Treasury Securities at 10-Year Constant Maturity (DGS10).” From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Customize data” field to search for “10-year” and select “10-year breakeven inflation rate.” The 10-year yield (i.e., nominal interest rate) will be series “a” and the 10-year break-even inflation rate will be series “b”. From the formula bar, type in the following formula for a real interest rate: 100*((1+a/100)/(1+b/100) – 1) and click “Apply.” To compare this series with the Cleveland Fed 10-year real rate, use the “Add Line” tab at the top of the editing box to search for and select “10-year real interest rate” and click “Add data series.” The two series should now be displayed from 1982, but there will be no values for the constructed real rate until 2003. To see them over a common sample, set the sample to start on January 1, 2003.

Suggested by Christopher Neely.

American democracy is in crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/05/2022 - 11:00pm in



You’d think Democrats would campaign like it

You would be wrong.

The Republican Party has abandoned democratic principles. If it ever had any.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano is the GOP nominee for governor (Washington Post):

As a Pennsylvania state senator and gubernatorial candidate, Doug Mastriano railed against the rampant fraud that he believes was responsible for Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat.

He vowed to decertify voting machines in counties where he suspects the result was rigged.

And he asserted that the Republican-controlled legislature should have the right to take control of the all-important choice over which presidential electors to send to Washington.

Should he win in November, Mastriano will hand pick the secretary of state that signs off on presidential election returns and allocation of the state’s electoral votes.

Mastriano’s backers appear well aware of the stakes. A video posted to Telegram by election denial activist Ivan Raiklin from Mastriano’s victory party on Tuesday showed the candidate smiling as Raiklin congratulated him on his win and added, with a thumb’s up, “20 electoral votes as well,” a reference to the state’s clout in the electoral college.

“Oh yeahhhh,” Mastriano responded.

In Colorado, a GOP candidate for governor has a plan to eliminate the concept of one person, one vote from state-level elections (9NEWS-KUSA):

Former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, who holds the top line on the 2022 Republican primary ballot, says Colorado should create an electoral college system for electing candidates to statewide office.

The plan, which would be the first of its kind on the state level, would give far more voting power to Coloradans in rural, conservative counties and dilute the voting power of Coloradans in more populous urban and suburban areas. Even as turnout numbers vary over time, the sheer number of rural conservative counties would create a built-in advantage for Republicans.

9NEWS has audio.

“One of the things that I’m going to do, and I’ve already put this plan together, is, as governor, I’m going to introduce a conversation about doing away with the popular vote for statewide elected officials and doing an electoral college vote for statewide elected officials,” Lopez said.

Lopez said his electoral college plan would weight counties’ votes based on their voter turnout percentage to encourage turnout.

“I’ve already got the plan in place,” Lopez said. “The most that any county can get is 11 electoral college votes. The least that a county can get is three.”

Democrat Jared Polis won the last election for governor by double digits. Under Lopez’s plan, the race would have swung 30 points, handing the win to the Republican after winning a minority of votes.

Unconstitutional? Sure. Does Lopez care? No.

As Trumpists scheme to end the republic as we know it, Democrats nationwide, risk-averse as ever, continue to campaign on cruise control like Kevin Bacon’s character at the end of Animal House. They insist on campaigning on kitchen-table issues as if eveything is normal. “Remain calm! All is well!”

The Post’s Paul Waldman warned in February about Democrats relying on over-used metaphors like “bread-and-butter” issues:

It’s about a dangerous fantasy that has gripped Democrats for decades, the idea that they can drain the emotion out of politics by focusing on concerns that are immediate and mundane, and thereby stave off defeat.

Let’s say this as clearly as we can: If this is all Democrats do between now and November, they will fail.

Republicans are tearing holes in the ship’s hull while Democrats act as if this is politics as usual. The republic is at risk of sinking. Rearranging the deck chairs won’t save it.

● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Request a copy of For The Win, 4th Edition, my free, countywide get-out-the-vote planning guide for county committees at ForTheWin.us.
If in a position to Play to win in 2022 (see post first), contact tpostsully at gmail dot com.


Thinking like an Economist?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/05/2022 - 10:07pm in



from Peter Radford Thinking like an economist. What a horrible thought.  Can you imagine anything more restrictive and less imaginative?  It requires you to disengage from reality and enter a world constrained by absurd assumptions, odd definitions, and a lack of foundation.  The entire edifice of economics sits, in all its glory, suspended in mid-air and relying on […]

They want to control what?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/05/2022 - 9:00am in



They’ll decide what you can do with your body, not you

Maybe that performance by a bunch of male throwbacks explains this:

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that if a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate supports abortion rights, 41% of Americans say they are more likely to vote for that candidate, while 22% say they are less likely, and 36% say it does not make a difference.

It’s common sense. The people trying to control women’s bodies are very dumb.

This is what is at stake:


About that right wing terrorism thing

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/05/2022 - 7:00am in



It’s not unusual at all

The LA Times reports:

Years before law enforcement seized the contents of Ian Rogers’ safe, he earned a reputation as a talented mechanic and successful Napa Valley business owner. Rogers catered to an elite clientele of Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls-Royce owners inside a garage off Napa’s main drag, a street spotted with boutiques and high-end bed and breakfasts.

The 47-year-old from Sonoma County, who appeared to have a passion for guns according to Facebook posts where he dissed prominent Democrats, was also a loving husband and father who paid his bills on time, according to his family and friends.

In the fall of 2020, in the weeks after Joe Biden was declared the next president of the United States, Rogers sent an ominous text to someone he trusted, according to court records.

“Ok bro we need to hit the enemy in the mouth,” he messaged.

“Yeah so we punch Soros,” Rogers’ former employee and gym buddy, Jarrod Copeland, texted back, referring to billionaire investor George Soros.Sponsored

Copeland, a Kentucky native, was a mechanic at Rogers’ shop nearly a decade earlier.

“I think right now we attack democrats. They’re offices etc. Molotov cocktails and gasoline,” Rogers continued.

Copeland replied, “We need more people bro. Gonna be hard.”

The day after Thanksgiving, the chatter kindled a plan. Text messages contained in court records show the two men agreed to burn down the headquarters of the California Democratic Party in Sacramento, a building diagonal to the California Highway Patrol office tasked with protecting state lawmakers and daily visitors to the Capitol. Also nearby: a youth center, gym and popular bookstore.

Rogers: sent link to the address of the California Democratic Party office…
Copeland: Right next to CHP
Copeland: gotta be cautious
Rogers: Only takes 3 minutes
Rogers: Take a brick break a window pour gas in and light

The two men texted that they hoped hitting that particular target would send a message and ignite a movement. They viewed themselves as action film heroes, referencing “The Expendables,” a popular movie franchise.

Rogers: Scare the whole country
Rogers: Can you imagine cnn covering this haha !
Rogers: I’ll leave a envelope with our demands and intentions
Rogers: Basically saying we declare war on the Democratic Party and all traitors to the republic.
Copeland: That’s some expendables stuff.
Rogers: We need to send a message
Copeland: Yep I agree
Rogers: Start a movement

On Jan. 8, 2021, the two acknowledged they might die carrying out their plan. Rogers asked Copeland if he was ready to leave his wife.

Rogers: What I’m talking about we probably will die unfortunately
Copeland: She was crying yesterday and said to me “please don’t leave me I don’t know what to do without you” she was rubbing my back while I was watching…
Copeland: She knows how i run and she knows I will put myself in harms way for what I believe in

It never came to that.

Rogers and Copeland were arrested in January and July of 2021, respectively, according to court records.

The two are charged in federal court with conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used in interstate commerce, with Copeland facing an additional destruction of records in official proceedings charge for allegedly destroying evidence of his communication with Rogers.

Right wing political violence is the leading cause of terrorism in the US. And it’s pretty clear that mainstream GOP politicians see some benefit to it. They sure aren’t willing to buck the gun nuts, racists and anti-government crusaders. That would anger a large faction of their base.