Kung Flu: Who will we trust the next time?

Fauci_Elton_PelosiShould a pendemic strike again, where will you turn for guidance?

The government?

The lack of preparedness at every level of government (federal, state, and local) has nothing to do with a lack of funding or inadequate staffing. Instead, it has everything to do with governments’ bloat, mismanagement, cronyism, and poor focus. That’s particularly true of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The agency’s failure to understand the severity of this virus, to provide useful advice to the American people and to political leaders, and to deliver appropriate testing capabilities has been widely documented.

The experts?

Take Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, London — arguably the single most influential person in the world right now: it was on the basis of his doomsday report that both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Trump were frightened, against their liberty-leaning instincts, into instituting the lockdowns which are killing jobs, businesses and the economy.

But it has since emerged that Ferguson has a track record of getting things spectacularly wrong. For example, his recommended response to the UK’s 2001 Foot and Mouth epidemic is now widely recognised as having led to the needless slaughter of millions of animals. (What’s the word for such an unnecessarily zealous response? Oh yes. ‘Overreaction’)

His modelling has been described by critics as ‘not fit for purpose.’ Worse — a breach of the most basic scientific etiquette — he has been reluctant to share the code which he used to model his doomsday conclusions.

The media?

Not only is there no price paid for getting things wrong, there really is no financial incentive to be a grounded, straight-down-the-line, unbiased journalist these days. It’s the Jim Acostas and Philip Ruckers of the world who get the book deals and big followings, not the diligent journalists poring over documents and offering serious, context-rich reporting.

There are plenty of solid reporters, but the most of the big-name journalists are only big names because they are granted a perch by powerful corporations. Most of best-known reporters aren’t especially talented writers, or especially knowledgeable, or especially good interviewers, or especially adept at ferreting out important stories. They have access. They break stories because insiders with hostility toward an administration hand them incriminating or damaging information. All they have to do is show a modicum of skepticism and judiciousness in reporting those facts. Many rarely do.

The elites?

While money can’t yet buy vaccines for COVID-19, it can buy luxurious amenities to stave off doomsday anxiety and make isolation more comfortable. For rich New Yorkers, that means summer has come early.

“We’re headed to the Hamptons with my whiskey and Lysol wipes,” Upper East Sider Julie Macklowe says. Accommodations in a Cold War bunker and private jets are also now in high demand thanks to the novel and even faster-traveling virus.

The politicians?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday continued to spread the lie about President Trump amid the Coronavirus pandemic. “The president is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs.” “Nancy Pelosi remembers to stock her $24K refrigerators with $13 ice cream but forgot to restock the Paycheck Protection Program for our small businesses,” tweeted Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw last week. Touché.

Let’s watch together:

No, we will be on our own, as we always have been.

~ Portcullis

The Donald vs the Intelligence Agencies

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It was no coincidence that Richard Nixon, who was forced out of the White House, had decided to do battle with the rapidly growing administrative state. John Marini, professor of political science at the University of Nevada and author of Unmasking the Administrative State. The Crises of American Politics in the Twenty-First Century, says:

In his second term, Nixon attempted to decentralize political and administrative power, returning it to the states and local governments. He failed. Some forty years later, it appears that Donald Trump has attempted to restore political rule, under conditions far less favorable than those faced by Nixon. That outcome remains to be seen.

Three writers develop this idea, in particular with regard to the intelligence agencies, and they reveal a rather frightening state of affairs.

‘The Interagency’ Isn’t Supposed to Rule. Witness after witness in last month’s House impeachment inquiry hearings referred to “the interagency,” an off-the-books informal government organization that we now know has enormous power to set and execute American foreign policy.

When the war on terror opened, with all the secret activity it required, professional cadres in the diplomatic corps, the military and the nation’s many intelligence agencies were able to transform interagency cooperative agreements that had existed since the Cold War into a de facto agency—a largely informal and virtual bureaucracy—with the assumed power, if need be, to determine and execute a foreign policy at odds with the intent of the president and Congress.

Welcome to the Potemkin Village of Washington Power. Don’t be misled: elected officials are subjugated to the national security firmament. Trump is just exposing it. What American constitutional government most urgently needs at present is for our Madisonian institutions—the presidency, the Congress, and the courts—to wrest back control of national security policy from an unelected and increasingly rogue national security establishment. 

In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times by retired Admiral William McRaven, in which he brashly warned that unless Trump jumped aboard the Forever War bandwagon, he must be removed, and “the sooner the better.” McRaven argued that it is “the American military…the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press,” all unelected institutions, that now embody the true American civic religion and protect its “ideals.”

As the deep state attacks Trump to rave media reviews, don’t forget its dark side. “Thank God for the deep state,” declared former acting CIA chief John McLaughlin recently while appearing on a panel at George Mason University. A year ago, the deep state was routinely reviled as a figment of paranoid right-wingers’ imagination. But much of the news media are now conferring the same sainthood on the deep state that was previously bestowed on special counsel Robert Mueller.

The Trump-deep state clash is a showdown between a presidency that has become far too powerful versus federal agencies that have become fiefdoms that enjoy immunity for almost any and all abuses. Regardless of the outcome of the congressional impeachment investigation, can the political system pull in the reins on imperious agencies? It is unlikely.

~ Makebate