Sunday 16th of May 2021

shell-shocked democratic paladin...


After taking the oath of office President Joe Biden may be tempted to resume policy as if it was January 20, 2017. But the nation and world with which he dealt as vice president no longer exist.


The first challenge will be political. There was no blue wave. Indeed, had President Donald Trump been only marginally less obnoxious, more competent, less offensive, or more empathetic, he would be returning for a second term and Biden would be the second shell-shocked Democratic paladin trying to understand how he had lost to such an ill-qualified and ill-regarded figure.

Far from suffering a collapse in support, Trump expanded his appeal in almost every demographic category, including Latinos and African-American males. The Republican Party likely will hold onto Senate control; the GOP also gained House seats, flipped two state legislative chambers, and won a governorship. The American people remain deeply divided and Biden could find early failure confronting bitter obstructionist Republicans, angry squabbling Democrats, and disappointed progressive activists.

The second challenge will be domestic. Foreign policy specialists have a long list of pressing priorities for the president. Biden, as a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, enjoys international affairs. However, ugly reality will force him to focus on matters at home.

Biden’s number one priority must be the COVID-19 pandemic. The most consequential event in American life for decades—only World War II, the Spanish flu epidemic, the Civil War, and Great Depression have transformed American life to a similar degree—much more remains to be done to stem rising infections, move vaccines into production, bolster the health care system, and spur economic recovery. Everything else, at home and abroad, other than a threat of nuclear war, pales in comparison.

The second most important issue for the incoming president will be restoring a modicum of fiscal solvency to the federal government. Tough choices must be made and difficult priorities must be set. Inaugurating grand new international adventures can’t rank high on the president’s list.


Read more:


the study of statesmanship....


On this edition of Empire Has No Clothes, Kelley, Daniel, and I speak to Justin Logan of the Center for the Study of Statesmanship. He discusses why the Middle East isn’t that important and whether anyone has the faintest idea what to do about China. We also talk about the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, troop withdrawals and a possible bombing of Iran.

Listen to the episode in the player below, or click the links beneath it to subscribe using your favorite podcast app. If you like what you hear, please give us a rating or review on iTunes or Stitcher, which will really help us climb the rankings, allowing more people to find the show.


See/hear more:



doing business with the commies...

American companies that do business and make their products in China are, by a majority, “optimistic” about a Joe Biden presidency, a new survey reveals.

The American Chamber of Commerce in a Shanghai, China, survey asked 124 business executives their opinions on a Biden presidency, to which a majority, nearly 63 percent, said they are “much more optimistic” or “more optimistic” about their doing business in the Communist country with the former vice president in the White House.

Likewise, the survey found that business executives do not expect Biden to impose more tariffs on China-made products — as President Trump did with billions of dollars worth of goods against the wishes of corporate interests.

CNBC reports:


“The majority of our respondents look at it as a positive,” Ker Gibbs, president of AmCham Shanghai, told CNBC in a phone interview. “The Biden administration would be a positive to the stability of the environment, the stability of the relationship.” [Emphasis added]

Under a Biden administration, only 5.6% of AmCham Shanghai survey respondents expect more tariffs. Instead, 70.2% anticipate new U.S. leadership will work more with other countries to put pressure on trade relations with China. [Emphasis added]


In August, Biden seemingly claimed he would repeal Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. Later, his campaign aides walked the statement back, and he has since not been definitive on whether he plans to keep the tariffs or throw them out.

Read more:

condescending to concede...

US President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed a move by the General Services Administration to start the US presidential transition process.

In a statement on Twitter, Trump thanked Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), for her "steadfast dedication and loyalty to our country," also noting that she has been "harassed, threatened and abused" throughout the US election ordeal.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020
​"I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same," Trump added, endorsing Murphy's submission earlier in the day to formally initiate the transition process to a Joe Biden presidency.

Following the GSA ascertainment, the Biden transition team released a statement calling Murphy's decision a "needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation."

— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) November 23, 2020

​Earlier Monday, Murphy prompted the transition process, noting she did not make a decision "out of fear or favoritism."

"Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts," Murphy wrote in a letter addressed to Biden, which was first obtained by CNN. "I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official - including those who work at the White House or GSA - with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination."

Murphy's formal acknowledgment of the results will release more than $6 million to the Biden transition team, USA Today reported.


Read more:


Murphy's law: if something can go wrong, it will go arse up...

since when do echo chambers care about the real world?...

"Hi welcome to the timeline where people call you a crazy radical extremist for saying your government should stop committing acts of mass murder."


By Caitlin Johnstone, an independent journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her website is here and you can follow her on Twitter @caitoz

'Joe Biden is China's puppet' is a well-worn trope weaponized by the American right wing. In the real world, Biden is staffing his cabinet with rabid China war hawks – but since when do echo chambers care about the real world?

Prior to the US election I wrote a couple of articles saying that, if Biden wins, he will be attacked by the right as a Xi Jinping puppet even as he escalates dangerous cold war aggressions with China, in exactly the same way Trump was attacked by Democrats as a Putin puppet even as he escalated dangerous cold war aggressions with Russia. This extremely obvious prediction is, of course, already coming true.

I'm still getting dopey wingnuts in my social media notifications telling me that Biden is a Xi Jinping puppet who is going to be soft on China, even as Biden packs his cabinet with virulent anti-China hawks:

  • Biden's expected Defense Secretary Michele Flournoy opined this past June that the US military needs a new arms race to obtain "the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China's military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours."

  • Biden's choice for Secretary of State Tony Blinken plans on undermining Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, reportedly wants to "tame" and "try to coalesce skeptical international partners into a new competition with" China, and said that the Biden administration will "fully enforce" the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, "including sanctions on officials, financial institutions, companies and individuals." Earlier this month The Economist reported that Republicans that are hawkish on China would be happy with a Secretary of State nomination for Blinken.

  • Biden's choice for National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was described by Forbes this past June as a "Peter Navarro-like China hawk" who believes that Beijing is “gearing up to contest America’s global leadership” and that those signs are “unmistakable, and they are ubiquitous.”

It's not hard to see where people of a certain ideological bent are getting the impression that Biden is going to be a sycophantic Beijing lackey, though, with influential rightist voices pounding that message into their skulls all day every day, despite all evidence to the contrary. Just today within hours of this writing you've got Republican congressman Dan Crenshaw tweeting that "Biden‘s plan is to let radicals destroy our economy, with little if any benefit for the environment, and huge benefits for China," right-wing pundit Paul Joseph Watson labeling the murderous war whore Blinken a "compromised SIMP for China," and bloodthirsty psychopath Tom Cotton proclaiming on no basis whatsoever that Biden is "surrounding himself with panda huggers who will only reinforce his instincts to go soft on China."

"Panda huggers." This is a sitting member of the US Senate.

As Bob Gates said, Joe Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” Now he’s surrounding himself with panda huggers who will only reinforce his instincts to go soft on China.

— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) November 23, 2020


This complete schism from reality, where you've got an incoming administration stacked with Beltway insiders who want to attack Chinese interests running alongside an alternate imaginary universe in which Biden is a subservient CCP lackey, is only made possible with the existence of media echo chambers. It's the same exact dynamic that made it possible for liberals to spend four years shrieking conspiracy theories about the executive branch of the US government being run by a literal Russian agent even as Trump advanced mountains of world-threatening cold warescalations against Moscow in the real world.

You see this dynamic at work in conventional media, where plutocrat-controlled outlets like Breitbart are still frantically pushing the Russiagate sequel narrative that Hunter Biden's activities in China mean that his father is a CCP asset. You also see it in social media, where, as explained by journalist Jonathan Cook in an article about the documentary The Social Dilemma, "as we get herded into our echo chambers of self-reinforcing information, we lose more and more sense of the real world and of each other."


"We live in different information universes, chosen for us by algorithms whose only criterion is how to maximise our attention for advertisers’ products to generate greater profits for the internet giants," writes Cook.

Because people are a lot more likely to click, read and share information which validates their pre-existing opinions and follow people who do the same, social media is notorious for the way it creates tightly insulated echo chambers which masturbate our confirmation bias and hide any information which might cause us cognitive dissonance by contradicting it. Whole media careers were built on this phenomenon during the years of Russiagate hysteria, and we see it play out in spheres from imperialism to Covid-19 commentary to economic policy.


Biden becoming president effectively makes the US a vassal state of China.


— Gavin Mario Wax (@GavinWax) November 22, 2020



Someone benefits from this dynamic, and it isn't you. As we've discussed previously, we know from WikiLeaks documents that powerful people actively seek to build ideological echo chambers for the purpose of propaganda and indoctrination, and there is surely a lot more study going into the subject than we've seen been shown. Splitting the public up into two oppositional factions who barely interact and can't even communicate with each other because they don't share a common reality keeps the populace impotent, ignorant, and powerless to stop the unfolding of the agendas of the powerful.

You should not be afraid of your government being too nice to China. What you should worry about is the US-centralized power alliance advancing a multifront new cold war conducted simultaneously against two nuclear-armed nations for the first time ever in human history. There are far, far too many small moving parts in such a cold war for things to happen in a safely predictable manner, which means there are far, far too many chances for something to go very, very wrong.

Whenever someone tells you that a US president is going to be "soft" on a nation the US government has marked as an enemy, you are being played. Always, always, always, always. It's just people manipulating you away from your natural, healthy inclination toward peace. Get out of your echo chamber, look at the raw information instead of the narratives, and stop letting the sociopaths manipulate you.


Read more:


Read from top.


See also: the bombers are back...

chinese attractors...

Chinese agents have stepped up their efforts to influence President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration, a US intelligence official has said.

William Evanina, from the office of the US Director of National Intelligence, said the Chinese were also focusing on people close to Mr Biden's team.

Mr Evanina said it was an alleged influence campaign "on steroids".

Separately, a justice department official said more than 1,000 suspected Chinese agents had fled the US.

In Wednesday's virtual discussion at the Aspen Institute think tank, Mr Evanina, chief of the Director of National Intelligence's counter-intelligence branch, said the Chinese had been attempting to meddle in the US efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and recent American elections.

He continued: "We've also seen an uptick, which was planned and we predicted, that China would now re-vector their influence campaigns to the new [Biden] administration.

"And when I say that, that malign foreign influence, that diplomatic influence plus, or on steroids, we're starting to see that play across the country to not only the folks starting in the new administration, but those who are around those folks in the new administration. 

"So that's one area we're going to be very keen on making sure the new administration understands that influence, what it looks like, what it tastes like, what it feels like when you see it."

Both Mr Biden and President Donald Trump traded bitter accusations during the recent White House campaign of being influenced by Beijing.

Mr Trump focused on business dealings by his rival's son Hunter Biden in China, while the Democratic candidate highlighted Mr Trump's Chinese bank account.

During the same think tank discussion on Wednesday, John Demers, chief of the justice department's national security division, said hundreds of Chinese researchers with ties to their country's military had been identified by FBI investigators over the summer.

Mr Demers said the inquiry began when US authorities arrested five or six Chinese researchers who had hidden their affiliation with the People's Liberation Army (PLA).


Read more:


Read from top.