Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Repealing Godwin’s Law August 3, 2014 | 02:22 pm

Memetic drift has changed Godwin’s Law from a wry observation, to an indication that useful conversation is over, to a statement that discussing Fascism at all is verboten. Discussion of Fascism at all has been fraught for some time- most people seem to think the definition of “fascist” is “someone I don’t like”. Which is why Obama can be both a communist and a fascist (and if your proof that this makes sense is that the Nazi’s had the word “socialist” in their party name, then North Korea is a Democracy).

Which is unfortunate, because there are a lot of lessons from that era that need learning. One that has been weighing on my heart a lot lately is just this: The final solution was not the first solution tried. The history most people remember has the Nazis gaining power, and then one day going “Hey, I know: let’s kill all the jews!” There is no logic to the decision, no progressions, and certainly no parallels to any other situations- just the innate evilness of nazis.

But first, let me back up and ask a simple question: what was the problem to which the final solution was a (proposed) solution? In the most general terms, the problem was one of having an existing subculture you’ve decided is a problem. The very existence of this subculture is harming you (you think). By striping the problem of it’s specific cultural aspects, it becomes more obvious that the holocaust was not unique, that many other countries/cultures have faced the same problem. Two other examples I want to point at this juncture is the American (US) and apartheid South Africa’s behavior towards blacks, and our behavior to the Native Americans (especially in the 19th century).

Now the question is: if the final solution was not the initial solution tried, what where the previous (non-final) solutions tried? And why did they fail, and how does that lead to the final solutiom?

I count four steps on this express lane to hell. Step one is ghettoization. So, you have a subculture- jews, blacks, native Americans, doesn’t matter- who a problem, you quarantine them. They have their own parts of the city, or their own land over there, and you make sure they don’t come over here. It’s no coincidence that ‘ghetto’, a term which originally described the jewish sections of european cities also got applied to the black sections of US cities. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Of course, there turns out to be two problems with this. First, it’s hard to make sure they stay over on their land/neigborhoods. As the saying goes, a 10 foot wall just sells 12 foot ladders (“Mr. Perry, tear down this wall!”). But the bigger problem is just that land is expensive. Especially city property- gee, you have this neighborhood which is only a 45 minute commute from Wall Street? Guess what- Harlem gets gentrified. Even forcing the problem subculture into waste land that no one wants now only works until oil or uranium or something is found under the land, as the Native Americans can well attest.

So, as ghettoization fails, the solution number two presents itself: deportation. Pack up the problem subculture and send them somewhere else. Of course, this fails as well. As a general rule, everyone has more than enough problems of their own, and aren’t interested on taking on someone else’s problems.

So deportation fails, which leads to solution number three: incarceration. Round up the problem subculture and put them in jail. It’s a gray line between extreme ghettoization and actual incarceration- but the line gets crossed when the subculture gets packed so tight that some form of support from the majority culture is needed. Of course, now you’re responsible for feeding, clothing, and housing the entire subculture. You can try to make them productive by forcing them to work- but prison labor is never worth it (in terms of productivity, it’s generally worthwhile to simply have the guards do the work, and get rid of the prisoners). And as soon as things get tight (and they will always get tight, sooner or later), the cost of maintaining the subculture in the prisons will become unsustainable, and some way to reduce the cost of keeping them in jail.

At which point we reach the final solution: just kill them. And welcome to hell, and deservedly so. But hey, at least it really solves the problem of the subculture.

There is an inevitable logic to the situation, which is not at all specific to Germany in the 1930′s. With the US and Blacks, we’ve gone at least to step 2 (look up the history of Liberia), and arguably to step 3 (consider the War on Some Drugs). And the path is not always walked cleanly or discreetly- for example, during World War 2, the US skipped steps 1 and 2 and went right to step 3 with respect to Japanese Americans. And the US again skipped step 3 with the native Americans, and went directly to step 4 (small pox blankets? Really? You expect me to not see through that ploy?).

But the logic still applies. The only way off is to redefine the problem. Stop labelling the subculture as a problem, make the subculture no longer “them” but now just a part of “us”. This may require a redifinition of what your culture is. Germany, for example, would have had to give up it’s vision of being a Christian Aryan nation, and admitted it’s plurality. The US had (has) to give up it’s vision of itself as a european and christian nature, and admit it’s pluralistic nature- that Native Americans and Japanese Americans and African Americans are all, first and foremost Americans. Just like Irish Americans, German Americans, French Americans, Italian Americans, Polish Americans, Chinese Americans, Mexian Americans, etc., are.

The holocaust was not the result of unqiue circumstances in Germany in the 1930′s. It was the inevitable and logical result of bigotry. And anywhere where bigotry flurishes, against anyone, there is the possibility of a new holocaust. This is the true problem with Godwin’s law, the shouting down of anyone talking about Fascism, especially in relationship to anything else. The lesson not taught is the lesson learned the hard way. Not talking about the Fascists means the Fascists will rise again.

Happy Armistice Day from Smedley Butler! November 11, 2012 | 10:38 am

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

—Major General Smedley Butler, USMC (Ret), War is a Racket

What My Pacifism is NOT September 29, 2012 | 09:48 pm

There are a lot of people out there who want to tell you what pacifism is. This is a noble and constructive project, but it’s not the one that I need most often. Most often, I need a good explanation of what pacifism is not, because most of the reaction that people have towards my pacifist claims are reactions to positions that I do not hold. So let me be very clear about what I do not believe.

  • My pacifism is not passive-ism. Although there are purportedly some out there who believe in the utter non-resistence to evil, I am not one of them, and I don’t recall ever actually encountering a person like that. Often, however, well-intentioned but misguided anti-war rhetoric comes off attempting to portray the world as less bad than it is, or as though we should not act to oppose things that are genuinely evil. This is not my belief. I believe in the active resistence of evil. I’m simply unimpressed with the track record of violence and hatred on solving the problem of evil, and so I look to alternative approaches.
  • My pacifism is not the denial of violence. If anything, pacifism takes more seriously the reality of violence. In every war we have ever fought, our military has killed innocent people. People who had no reason to die ended up killed by our troops. This will happen in every war we fight in the future. That is a violent reality which my pacifism takes seriously, but which is intentionally overlooked when the war drums start beating, and then gets brushed under the rug as “collateral damage”. Yet the reality is that before we deploy any troops, we need to ask ourselves: “How many innocent people is it worth slaughtering to accomplish our goal?” We know innocent people will die when we go to war. We are certain this will happen. We know we will do this, and we will bear sole responsibility. So how many innocent lives is it worth cutting down for our cause? I will not ignore this violence.
  • My pacifism is not the denial of interpersonal violence. I simply prefer risking the possibility of violence happening towards me in the hope that the violence can be avoided completely. Pacifism is not ignorance about violence, but instead the embracing of vulnerability and the faith that human vulnerability has its own amazing power to ensure safety. This sounds backwards and crazy, but it actually works. The vulnerable assertion of dignity—both of yourself and the would-be perpetrator violence—is surprisingly effective in avoiding situations that would otherwise escalate to violence.
  • My pacifism does not reject violence as a solution in some situations. There are times when a doctor has to break bones for healing. This is the “madman with a sword” scenario that Gandhi presented, and even he granted that violence may be a solution in that scenario. If I came across a situation where violence was occurring and violence was truly the only way I had to stop it, I would use violence. To this end, training in martial arts and even martial weaponry can be viewed as in line with pacifism, because they are both learning to minimize the application of violence in the unfortunate situation where it is necessary. (The threat, of course, is that familiarity and availability with methods of violence will entice their use in scenarios where other solutions may be better.) The difference is that pacifism recognizes that my violence is a sign of my own failing (why didn’t I have other options?), as well as a failing of the situation (what was broken that allowed the situation to reach violence in the first place?). The violence is something to mourn, to recover from, and to work to repair. The violence is just the beginning of addressing the problem, and it is definitely not something to be lauded, valorized, and romanticized. It’s certainly not something to joke about or take lightly or treat as though it will actually resolve issues.
  • My pacifism is not an individual claim. My pacifism is not simply something I believe. My pacifism is an underlying reality that demands a response, but which we spend huge amounts of time and effort trying to obscure, because the response is scary, threatening, and counter-cultural. It is, however, also demanded by truth.

I am a pacifist because I can’t sit by and do nothing while people suffer September 28, 2012 | 07:57 pm

I am a pacifist. I am a pacifist because it means actively opposing the cycle of violence instead of passively participating within it. I am a pacifist because the moral high ground is not just a nice place to be, but is a weapon against misery and self-hatred and self-destruction.

I am a pacifist because Jesus said to be one. Peter echoed him. I am a pacifist because they were pretty clear about what they were saying, and I take scripture seriously.

I am a pacifist because nineteen hundred years after Jesus ended his life dedicated to his pacifism, Gandhi proved that returning love for evil can conquer evil empires. I am a pacifist because there was a man who suffered for glory through Gandhi’s pacifism and who loved Jesus’ teachings, and he created a new way of thinking about economics which is more sustainable than our system that needs endless consumption and malignant growth.

I am a pacifist because groups like the Nonviolent Peaceforce and movements like Arab Spring demonstrably do more for the long-term welfare of a region than any amount of arming rebels.

I am a pacifist because, like General Eisenhower, I recognize that every bomb or missile or battleship that is built is ultimately a theft from the welfare of our nation. I am a pacifist because, like General Smedley Butler, I understand that the armies follow the dollars of the corporations, not the heart of the nation. I am a pacifist because I believe in freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and forcing citizens to give up money to illegal and unjust wars against their conscience is an immoral and unconstitutional act. I am a pacifist because I do not want to be a part of any group that coerces and compels other people to damage their bodies and souls and to kill innocents on our command—even if that group calls itself a government.

I am a pacifist because it is time that we recognize that compassion is not a just sentiment: it is the basis of a very real and proven spiritual technology. I am a pacifist because studies in mirror neurons, meditation, and interconnected sustainability are scientifically validating the pacifist claims of centuries of mystics and philosophers, and I take both science and mysticism seriously. I am a pacifist because the more we discover about our world on all fronts, the more we discover that active, loving responses to those around us work out for the best for all of us.

For more information, I’d encourage you to read The Search for a Nonviolent Future.

Choose Your 9/11 September 11, 2012 | 06:00 am

Each year, when 9/11 rolls around, we are given a choice between two 9/11s. One is a 9/11 which is borne on and fuels hatred and division in our world. The hatred and division of September 11th expressed itself by transforming planes full of innocent people into missiles of war. Airplanes, instruments of peace and industry, became instruments of war and death — plowshares turned into swords.

The instantaneous creation of three thousand victims shocked us. It led the politicians of the United States of America, like the elders of Israel in 1 Samuel 8, to call for a strong leader who could lead us into war. In the face of so many innocent deaths, we offered patriotic prayers. We turned to violence and war. We would eradicate the hatred of us by killing those who hate us.

Like Samuel, some prophets of our age warned us about what we were doing, what we were giving up, and what we were taking on. The prophets warned us that succumbing to fear would transform the USA into a country where hate and bigotry become powerful and influential forces. They warned us that the economic toll of the military’s needs would be disastrous to our nation’s struggling livelihood. They warned us that the consolidated power would be abused, invasive, and turned to the ends of the powerful against the good of the populace. They warned us that thousands upon thousands would join the three thousand who died on that day. Despite warnings, we still called for a strong leader to lead us to war: someone who could save us from this threat, who would keep us safe and be our salvation. Just as when the Israelites were calling for a king, God granted us our wish and the prophetic warnings have come to pass.

On this anniversary, the wounds are fresh again. The images of terror and panic are new in our minds all over again. Relived traumas reinforce the pain. We also have the additional weight of our past decisions that tripled the count of dead through our direct actions. The weight presses the pain deeper into our psyche. It is oppressive.

On this anniversary, we have a chance to take a new choice. We cannot change the past, but we can take the pain we feel in the present and use it to make a better future: one of peace, one powered by a force more powerful than hatred and division. We can learn how to do that by looking to another anniversary commemorated today. The other anniversary is of an event one hundred and six years ago today.

One hundred and six years ago today, another war started. This war was a new kind of war, a war that demonstrated that there was a force more powerful than tanks and mortars. The new war was based on faith in God, on faith in the power of martyrdom and truth to prevail over the most despicable and systematic acts of humanity’s sin.

The Muslim people who make up Afghanistan were key and powerful soldiers in this faithful war. This war drew one hundred thousand Muslims of the area into a movement called the Servants of God, dedicated to building up the destitute and to gaining freedom against a deadly oppressor. This new way of waging war converted the people of Afghanistan, then violent resistors and victims of oppression, into a force for peace and social betterment. This new way of waging war all started one hundred and five years ago, on the other 9/11.

The other 9/11 is when a man named Mohandas Ghandi launched of a new kind of war: one called “Clinging to Truth”. Believing that people are fundamentally relational, this war is based on exposing the truth of a situation and forcing people to cope with it. Exposing the truth of a situation may mean accepting violence done upon you without returning any in kind, a shocking concept in our age of industrialized state-advocated killing. Yet there is a tremendous and well-proven power in the witness of innocents, and in the power of innocence to triumph over death. Waging war through witness and relationship freed three hundred and fifty million people, and rippled throughout the twentieth century, especially informing the careers Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. To paraphrase XKCD: “Peace. It works, Brothers.”

So on this 9/11, we have a choice. We can myopically focus on the pain of the last decade and victimize ourselves all over again, or we can see the pain of these last years in light of the revelation of a century before. We can choose to entrust our salvation to a strong earthly leader and the ways of the nations, or we can choose to put our faith in the empowerment of that of God in people.

If you would like more information about the other 9/11, see the Metta Center’s Hope Or Terror?: Gandhi and the Other 9/11.

Time for More Tor: How to Set It Up August 11, 2011 | 09:24 am

It is looking like the US government is going to pass a bill which requires your ISP to track everything you do on the internet and store that information for 12 months: see here for more. This means that every website you visit and every plaintext password you send across the internet will be tracked. If you or a website you visit sends anything across HTTP, it’ll be tracked. And God knows how the ISPs might be compelled to try to hack your HTTPS/SSL connections: Bruce Schneier has a lot of evidence that SSL isn’t safe, especially if your ISP is the one hacking it. (On this note, also see here.)

So, here’s a guide on how to circumvent your ISP’s ability to record all your personal information. I’m using OS-X and Firefox, and I’m assuming you are, too. If you’re on Windows, I’m sorry, and hopefully you can figure it out. If you’re on Linux, clearly you’re too smart to need a guide like this.

The first thing to do is install Tor. Y’know that common scene in the movies (e.g. Mission Impossible) where the l33t h4x0r has routed their connection all over Hell and back, and it’s a pain in the ass for the evil police officers to track down? Yeah, that’s Tor. Tor (which is short for The Onion Router) routes your traffic through a series of other servers in a nice, encrypted format. It starts by connecting to an “Entry Node”, then running through a series of routers, and finally the “Exit Node” proxies your request to the website. This means that instead of your traffic coming from your computer, it is (from a security and practical standpoint) coming from the Exit Node. Your ISP can no longer track what you’re doing. Pretty nifty.

The problem is that you have to have a minimal amount of trust for the Exit Node. And, of course, you have no real reason to do that. So we have to take a few more steps to really protect ourselves.

First, Tor requires a bit of configuration. With Tor off, edit your torrc file. On OS-X, it will be in ~/Library/Vidalia/torrc. Change the ControlPort setting to anything other than its default value: anything in the 9xxx or 10xxx range is usually free, and changing it protects against a simple attack an Exit Node can launch against you. Second, you don’t really want to deal with an Exit Node in certain countries (e.g. China, North Korea), so add a line which reads:
ExcludeExitNodes {cn},{kp}
You can add other countries to the list if you’d like: just look up their two-digit ISO country code and add it in brackets to the comma-seperated list. Keep in mind that this only limits the exit nodes, not the entry or intermediate nodes, but since intermediate nodes don’t know either where the traffic is coming from or where it is ultimately going, that’s fine. If you want to specify a particular country for your exit node, you can do that, too:
ExitNodes {us}
There’s no security benefit to limiting your exit node to a particular country, but it may make certain websites work a bit better if you limit the exit nodes to country whose primary language is one you can read. There may also be certain advantages to making sure your exit node and your computer are on as disparate networks as possible (especially where “disparate” means “not subject to the same police force”), but at the point when you’re worrying about that, you’re in a situation which is more dire/paranoid than this guide can help with.

Here are some other settings you can add to your torrc file, which may improve performance:

# Use hardware acceleration if you have it (does nothing if you don't)
HardwareAccel 1
 
# Don't write to disk if you can avoid it (important for SSD)
AvoidDiskWrites 1
 
# Number of seconds to wait for a circuit to be built
# In newer versions of Tor, this is an adaptive number, so it's really only a hint
CircuitBuildTimeout 20
 
# How many seconds to wait before we clean up unused circuits  
CircuitIdleTimeout 3600
 
# Number of seconds before we give up on a circuit and try a different one
CircuitStreamTimeout 240
 
# How often to consider building a new circuit
NewCircuitPeriod 10
 
# How old can a circuit get in seconds
MaxCircuitDirtiness 28800
 
# How long do we divorce host/exit node associations in seconds
# Lower values randomize your connections more often (which may be more secure) 
# Higher values are better for performance
# Default is 1800 (30 minutes)
TrackHostExitsExpire 300
 
# The number of long-term entry nodes we use (default 3)
NumEntryGuards 5
 
# Set this to the number of CPUs that you have on your hardware
NumCPUs 4

If you are running a computer which is on for extended periods of time (i.e. not a laptop), then you actually get significantly better security by running a relay. The following instructions are just for OS-X: in the Vidalia Control Panel (that thing that pops up when you click on the onion in the menu bar and select “Control Panel”), click “Settings”. Under “Sharing”, click “Relay Traffic for the Tor network”, and give yourself an awesome name (without spaces) in the “Nickname” field below. Then click “OK”. You can muck about with the other settings later. The advantage of doing this is that you are now generating traffic which is not yours from your computer. So if you ever access the internet from outside of Tor, there’s at least effort required to determine if that access is on your behalf or on the behalf of someone on the Tor network. More information and discussion of possible security downsides are here: Do I get better anonymity if I run a Tor relay?

Next up: configuring Firefox. First of all, go into Tools > Add-Ons > Torbutton > Preferences > Security Settings > Start-Up and have your Firefox boot immediately into Tor. You simply don’t want to do anything else. Once you’ve got that set up, go poke around at the other options and set it to work the way you’d like. If you don’t understand an option, then leave it checked if it is marked as “crucial” or “recommended”, or leave it as the default if it is any other way.

Now, to deal with that pesky Exit Node trust problem. There are two parts to this solution: first, install HTTPS Everywhere by going that link and clicking the big “Encrypt the Web: Install HTTPS Everywhere” image. (I know it doesn’t look like a button or link, but it is. Usability fail.) Once you’ve got HTTPS Everywhere installed, you’re automatically going to start creating SSL links to a variety of popular services. This SSL provides an added layer of security. And, although it is possible for a particular Exit Node to try to launch an attack against your SSL connection, the fact that your network exit node is indeterminate and transitory helps security quite a bit. This brings us to the second part of the solution: STOP ACCEPTING BROKEN HTTPS CERTIFICATES. Everyone does it (including Bruce Schneier), but as soon as you do that, just assume the information you are sending across the connection is broadcast everywhere, because it may as well be.

If you want to go really hardcore, you can add a few more HTTPS Everywhere rules by grabbing my rules from my GitHub repo and extracting them into ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/*/HTTPSEverywhereUserRules. That adds quite a few more rules.

For the final step of configuring Firefox, follow Tor’s own instructions on improving Firefox performance (the “Procedure 1″ bit). This changes a few defaults to more proxy-friendly options, and makes a substantial improvement in Firefox’s speed when running in Tor mode.

Other plug-ins I’d recommend for Firefox are BetterPrivacy and AdBlock Plus, both of which help with privacy. Set Firefox to log you out of every site when you are closing down. Master Password can help by allowing you to have one password on your Firefox and then it will store your totally random passwords used for all the other websites: you won’t need to memorize them, because Master Password will have taken care of it.

What about things other than web browsing? To get other programs to use Tor (I’m particularly fond of routing DropBox/SugarSync through Tor), find their Preferences pane, then try to find the “Connection” or “Proxy” window. Set it up as an HTTP proxy running through the host localhost at the port 8118. To get command line systems to use Tor, set the HTTP_PROXY system property to the value “http://localhost:8118″.

At this point, as long as you’re running from within Tor and over SSL, you’re reasonably secure. Yes, there are still attacks that can get you: welcome the internet. But at least you’ll wiggle out from underneath the kind of blanket surveillance that the U.S. government seems to think is a great idea. Anything you access from HTTP (not HTTPS) is still a problem, so shift to using HTTPS-protected log-ins (e.g. OpenID, Facebook Connect) for non-HTTPS sites as a minimal step to protect your account. And if you ever see a website whose security certificate used to work but is suddenly broken, close your browser, click “New Identity” under the onion in the menu bar, and then fire your browser back up.

Nuclear Rationality March 20, 2011 | 08:24 pm

In the wake of Fukushima, an awful lot of irrationality has been going around about nuclear power. Some of it, I’ll grant, is on the anti-nuclear side of things. Especially with people thousands of miles away being terrified of radiation. But, at least from what I’ve seen, far more of it has been on the pro-nuclear side of the debate. I keep seeing the same fallacious arguments tossed around, the same straw man attacks, and I have to rebut them.

Read the rest of this entry

Why does this ad make me more inclined to vote for Rand Paul? October 16, 2010 | 03:18 pm

This ad.

As you read this, please remember that I strongly disagree (and that’s putting it nicely) with Libertarianism, and that I’m a liberal, progressive, and staunch Democrat (if I leave the Democratic party, it’ll be to the left). But yeesh…

You know what? I support canceling all faith-based initiatives too. Why? Separation of church and state, that’s why. I don’t want my tax money going to fund your church. Or if we are going to provide some services via the church, then all religions should be included- the satanists and wiccans and atheists all get to play as well. But we all know that’s not how it works- only good protestant-christian, and maybe the odd catholic or jewish, denominations need apply.

Why was he a member of a secret society? Probably for the same reason that George W Bush and John Kerry were. Why was it banned for mocking christianity and calling the bible a hoax? Religious discrimination.

Why did he tie a girl up and make her say stupid things? If something criminal went on, bring charges already- but post Monica Lewinsky, I get a little bit queasy every time we start dragging a politicians sex life into the picture.

More to the point, why should any of this matter? The constitution explicitly forbids a religious qualification for office, the first amendment provides for the freedom of speech and prevents the establishment of religion, and most of the rest is nobody else’s business.

It matters because it might work. The attitudes to religion in that region of the country is disturbingly similar to the attitudes towards religion in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. By casting Rand Paul as the scary atheists/satanist/other, it switches the race from being a policy-oriented one, to being about tribalism- and Rand Paul is not of the tribe. This is exactly the crap I hate the Republicans for pulling- it’s exactly the same thing when Republicans go on about Obama being Muslim or Kenyian, casting Obama as the scary other, not a member of the tribe of good, white, Christian, “real” murkins.

As a side note, Republicans- that is exactly why you have no right to complain. Pot, kettle, black.

But still. I now can’t help but think I’ve lost this race, no matter who wins it. If Rand Paul wins, it’ll be because the people’s support of the libertarian ideology remains strong. But now, if Jack Conway wins it, it’ll be because he played what is effectively the race card. Heads I lose, tails they win. Unlike Markos Moulitsas, my political goal isn’t just to have as many elected officials as possible with (D) after their names, it’s to promote a specific ideology (liberalism). This ad does not help, not the least bit.

Sigh.

Ten Million Dead- a response about H1N1 October 9, 2010 | 05:27 pm

This will be a short (and hopefully not too incoherent) post, as I’m still recovering from a cold. But I have to respond to Robert’s post on the overhyping of the H1N1 Avian flu.

First of all, there’s a reason why the CDC has kittens every time flu season rolls around. This is because the CDC (unlike most Americans) knows their history. In 1918, a variation of the same flu that’s still going around killed over 50 million people world wide, or about 3% of the 1.6 billion world population. If it hit today, that means the US would have almost 10 million dead alone, of about 200 million world wide. And here’s the important part: we’re still not sure why. We’re not sure why that variant had such a high fatality rate. We’re not sure what genetic drift triggered the higher fatalities. What we do know is that it can happen again.

So now we see the cleft fork the CDC is in. So a new, unexpected strain of the flu shows up. Only a dozen or so cases so far, but a higher percentage than normal have died of it. Do you sound the warning, and step on the new flu outbreak while it’s still small and containable, or do you not? If you do sound the warning, and it turns out that the early deaths were just chance and the flu is no more dangerous than normal, then you’re shilling for corporate profits. But if you don’t raise the warning, and it turns out to be another 1918 and 10 million Americans die…

What is surprising to me is how rarely the CDC screws up, and calls things wrong. But they’re human, which means they will screw up and call things wrong. It’s inevitable. At which point you have to ask yourself which error would you rather they make: accidentally generating some extra profits to the pharma corps, or accidentally allowing 10 million people die?

By the way, there is no evidence in any of the links provided by Robert, that the intention of the CDC/WHO was to line the pockets of the pharma corporations, and not simply a screw up. I mean, to state the case baldly: 1) The CDC and WHO trumpeted the dangers of N1H1, 2) N1H1 turned out to be not as deadly as stated/feared, 3) Corporations made profits from distributing the vaccines, therefor, it was all a giant conspiracy to feed the profits of the pharma corporations. This is a conspiracy theory I would be ashamed to promote. Flu vaccines aren’t all the profitable at the end of the day- they simply aren’t that expensive. Really, how much money do you think they’re making on a $20 shot, given the costs of producing the vaccine, distributing it, paying the people to give out the shots and collect the $20, etc.

But there’s another aspect to Robert’s post that annoys me even more- and that is that he is feeding the anti-vax trolls. Children are dying, even as we speak, because their parents believe that all vaccinations are just scams by the pharma corporations to line their pockets. Whooping cough is making a big comeback. So is Polio. The only reason Small Pox isn’t making a come back is because we managed to eradicate it before we as a society came down with a case of the dumbs. Robert didn’t intend to feed the anti-vax story line, and thus aid and abet causing the preventable deaths of children, but that’s exactly what he did.

H1N1 Swine Flu “Pandemic” Was Commercially-Constructed Fear Mongering October 8, 2010 | 12:05 pm

Back when the fear of the Swine Flu was at its highest, I was calling shenanigans. It seemed just too coincidental that the flu vaccine was generated just in time for a flu to surface which was going to kill us all—unless we get the vaccine and thereby lined the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, of course. I also remembered the Avian Flu, and how that came to nothing. So despite the government’s warnings and the media’s hysterics, I dismissed the Swine Flu completely. Craziness!

Except that it turns out that I was right. The regular flu season and the H1N1 swine flu season weren’t particularly different:

In adults and children over age 6 months, the H1N1 swine flu was no more severe — and posed no greater risk of serious disease — than recent seasonal flu bugs. (cite)

As the hype trailed off (roughly trailing vaccine sales), a few reports started to surface, including the head of Homeland Security (who isn’t exactly known for being a source of reassurance):

“What the epidemiologists are seeing now with this particular strain of U.N. is that the severity of the disease, the severity of the flu — how sick you get — is not stronger than regular seasonal flu,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday (cite)

So where did the fear of the pandemic come from? The CDC and the WHO both were freaking the Hell out. And why?

The H1N1 virus has spawned widespread panic and fear throughout the world. However, upon closer examination, many of the claims made by the World Health Organization (WHO) seem to be based on weak and incomplete data. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created and used data to grossly exaggerate the need for an expensive and unnecessary vaccine aimed at creating profits for the pharmaceutical industry—not protecting Americans. (cite)

Shocking.

Moral of the story: when faced with mass panic, the winning bet is that it’s caused by your media and your government shilling for the profit of large corporations.