Back Stories (click title for full report)
February 11, 2021
“The Buzz” Market Affecting Events that No One Believes Can Happen
Reconstruction is not the Second American Civil War. Rather it is the abject failure leading to one.
After the American Civil War, the federal government started in 1865–1877 a process called Reconstruction, which aimed to restore the South to the Union and update the federal and state governance in accordance with the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Due to the severity of the social, political, and constitutional challenges and conflicts of the Reconstruction Era, the Reconstruction is sometimes called the “Second Civil War”. The term was cemented by the American Experience episode “Reconstruction: The Second Civil War” and made its way to the school curriculum.
How Trumpism Is Becoming America’s New “Lost Cause”
The idea of a new Civil War has been coursing through the national conversation lately, as Americans try to make sense of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, or the polls showing a majority of Republicans still don’t recognize Joe Biden’s election. Fox News segments have warned that Democrats want to force a “new version of Reconstruction” on an unsuspecting public.
Overblown? Maybe. But one of America’s preeminent historians of that era thinks there’s good reason for the comparison. “We really have arrived at, it appears, two irreconcilable Americas with their own information systems, their own facts, their own story, their own narrative,” says David Blight, the legendary Yale historian whose work studying the Civil War and Reconstruction Era won him a Pulitzer Prize.
The threat he sees isn’t that there will be another literal war: It’s the threat of two rival stories about America taking root, as they did after the Civil War. One of them, a heroic “Lost Cause” narrative of a noble Confederacy whose soldiers sacrificed themselves for honor and tradition, flourished for decades, justifying the fight for slavery and continuing to distort American politics to this day.
As Donald Trump’s more extremist followers cling to his bogus claims of a stolen election, wrapping Trump’s complaints into a nationalist counternarrative driven by racial anxiety and anger at the government, they risk creating a legacy that will divide the country long after the man himself leaves the stage. “In search of a story—in search of a history, in search of a leader, in search of anything they can attach to—lost causes tend to become these great mythologies whose great conspiracy theories tend to explain everything,” says Blight.
Witness, for instance, the bizarre staying power of QAnon—the baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory that imagined Trump would remain in power after January 20 as he fought off a cabal of Satanic pedophiles who secretly control the government. January 20 came and went. Joe Biden was sworn in. And while some QAnon devotees found themselves humiliated and questioning their beliefs, others doubled down, moving the goal posts—it’s all part of the plan, just wait and see.
“At the heart of a lost cause, if it has staying power, is its capacity to turn itself into a victory story,” says Blight. “Can Trumpism ultimately convert itself into some kind of victory story? We don’t know that yet.”
Especially in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, cries for unity have been heard throughout Washington, as the need to come together feels more urgent than it has in years. Here, Blight sees a useful lesson to be found in history: “In all the work I’ve done on the Civil War and public memory, the central thing I’ve learned is that you can’t have healing without some balance with justice,” says Blight. “You have to have both. The justice has to be just as real as any kind of healing.”
How does America move forward? Who gets to decide how we, as a public, remember our shared history? POLITICO Magazine spoke with Blight this week. A condensed transcript of that conversation follows, edited for length and clarity.
It seems that many Americans have the Civil War era on their minds, especially since the insurrection and the first nonpeaceful transfer of power since the 1860s. You know that era better than almost anyone. Do 2020 and 2021 remind you of 1860 and 1861?
The threat of domestic terrorism remains high, says US Homeland Security, with Donald Trump supporters ’emboldened’ by Capitol attack
The threat of a violent attack in the United States is likely to remain high for a number of weeks, with extremists and angry Donald Trump supporters “emboldened” by the deadly US Capitol riots and seizing on COVID-19 misinformation.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a “terror advisory” on Wednesday (local time), warning the risk of violence and terrorism “will persist in the weeks following the successful presidential inauguration”.
It did not specify any particular threat.
“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fuelled by false narratives, could continue to mobilise to incite or commit violence,” the alert said.
The Threat of Authoritarianism In The U.S. Is Very Real, And Has Nothing To Do With Trump: Greenwald
The dominant strain of U.S. neoliberalism — the ruling coalition that has now consolidated power again — is authoritarianism. They view those who oppose them and reject their pieties not as adversaries to be engaged but as enemies, domestic terrorists, bigots, extremists and violence-inciters to be fired, censored, and silenced. And they have on their side — beyond the bulk of the corporate media, and the intelligence community, and Wall Street — an unprecedentedly powerful consortium of tech monopolies willing and able to exert greater control over a population that has rarely if ever, been so divided, drained, deprived and anemic.
All of these authoritarian powers will, ironically, be invoked and justified in the name of stopping authoritarianism — not from those who wield power but from the movement that was just removed from power. Those who spent four years shrieking to great profit about the dangers of lurking “fascism” will — without realizing the irony — now use this merger of state and corporate power to consolidate their own authority, control the contours of the permissible debate, and silence those who challenge them even further. Those most vocally screaming about growing authoritarianism in the U.S. over the last four years were very right in their core warning, but very wrong about the real source of that danger.
How America Changed During Donald Trump’s Presidency
Trump’s status as a political outsider, his outspoken nature and his willingness to upend past customs and expectations of presidential behavior made him a constant focus of public attention, as well as a source of deep partisan divisions.
Even before he took office, Trump divided Republicans and Democrats more than any incoming chief executive in the prior three decades.1 The gap only grew more pronounced after he became president. An average of 86% of Republicans approved of Trump’s handling of the job over the course of his tenure, compared with an average of just 6% of Democrats – the widest partisan gap in approval for any president in the modern era of polling.2 Trump’s overall approval rating never exceeded 50% and fell to a low of just 29% in his final weeks in office, shortly after a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol.
Republicans and Democrats weren’t just divided over Trump’s handling of the job. They also interpreted many aspects of his character and personality in fundamentally opposite ways. In a 2019 survey, at least three-quarters of Republicans said the president’s words sometimes or often made them feel hopeful, entertained, informed, happy and proud. Even larger shares of Democrats said his words sometimes or often made them feel concerned, exhausted, angry, insulted and confused.
Hedge Fund CIO: “The Truth Is That America’s Self-Destructive Odyssey Has Only Just Begun”
From Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management
Dusted off an anecdote from my discussion with a Nobel Laureate on thought viruses, memes, idea-microbes, contagion (see below). After generations of relative social calm, when the things that drove markets were petty bumps in unemployment/inflation and periodic crises of our own creation, we must reorient our trading/investing around societal narratives. Because, as much as those hoping for a return to normalcy try to see today’s DC drama as the final chapter in a short story, the truth is that America’s self-destructive odyssey has only just begun.
And like all our great nation’s harrowing wanders through the wilderness, the reward will be renewal – but not for a decade.
An Ominous Sign: Americans Have Begun Stealing Food To Survive
If you’ve been waiting for a sign that things are really bad economically in the United States, here it is. Americans who never would have contemplated shoplifting before are stealing food to survive.
One of the things that we often say in preparedness circles as we watch chaotic Black Friday scenes or fiery riots unfold is, “You think it’s bad now? Just wait until people are hungry!” Well, guess what? People are hungry. Food insecurity and hunger
DHS Issues New Terror Advisory On “Domestic Violent Extremists” Who “Object To Presidential Transition”
On Wednesday the Department of Homeland Security issued a new “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” or NTAS for the United States.
But the newest DHS posting emphasized the “domestic threat” of “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” with objections to “the presidential transition” — a clear reference to the Capitol Hill riot of January 6, as well as to the “predicted” follow-up mass demonstrations and assaults on D.C. which never materialized (resulting in thousands of bored National Guardsmen sauntering around Washington).
Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”
Jack F. Cahn, CMT
Contrary Thinker since 1989,
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October 29, 2020
The Stock Market is Not the Economy
Whatever happens to the economy – jobs, wages, the hardships so many are facing – the stock market seems to be in a world of its own. Why?
The primary answer is simple. Stock values roughly reflect profits, especially anticipated profits. When profits are expected to rise, stock prices trend upward.
But that only raises a deeper question: How can profits be trending upward when jobs and wages are doing so badly?
Because of a disconnect in the American economy that began way before the pandemic – about 30 years ago.
Before the 1980s, the main driver of profits and the stock market was economic growth. When the economy grew, profits and the stock market rose in tandem. It was a virtuous cycle: Demand for goods and services generated more jobs and higher wages, which in turn stoked demand for more goods and services.
But since the late 1980s, the main way corporations get profits and stock prices up has been to keep payrolls down. Corporations have done whatever they can to increase profits by cutting jobs and wages. They’ve busted unions, moved to “right-to-work” states, outsourced abroad, reclassified workers as independent contractors, and turned to labor-saving automation.
Prior to 1989, economic growth accounted for most of the stock market’s gains. Since then, most of the gains have come from money that would otherwise have gone into the pockets of workers.
Meanwhile, corporations have used their profits and also gone deep into debt to buy back shares of their own stock, thereby pumping up share prices and creating an artificial sugar-high for the stock market.
All this has made the rich even richer. The richest 1 percent of American households own 50 percent of the value of stocks held by American households. The richest 10 percent own 92 percent.
But it’s had the opposite effect for everyone else. More and more of the total economy is going into profits and high stock prices benefiting those at the top, while less and less is going into worker wages and salaries.
America’s CEOs and billionaires are happy as ever because more and more of their earnings come from capital gains – increases in the prices of their stock portfolios.
Meanwhile, the Fed has taken on the debts many corporations generated when they borrowed in order to buy back their shares of stock – in effect bailing them out, even as millions of Americans continue to struggle.
So the next time you hear someone say the stock market is a reflection of the economy, tell them that’s rubbish! The real economy is jobs and wages
October 24, 2020
The new Borat film will be released on Friday on Amazon. (IMDB) Rudy Giuliani has defended himself after being shown in a compromising position in a hotel room with a young actress pretending to be a television journalist in Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest mockumentary. The scene in the new Borat sequel, shot in a New York hotel room in July, includes a moment when Mr Giuliani is seen lying […]
[…,] tucking in his shirt with his hand down his pants with the young woman nearby.
Mr Giuliani, who is US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, went to the hotel room thinking he was being interviewed about the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response.
The young woman is flirtatious with him and invites him to the bedroom, which is rigged with hidden cameras.
The young woman is flirtatious with him and invites him to the bedroom, which is rigged with hidden cameras.
Mr Giuliani then asks for her phone number and address. He lies back on the bed to tuck in his shirt and has his hands in his pants when Baron Cohen rushes in wearing an outlandish outfit.
October 17, 2020
Chris Christie says he was given ‘a false sense of security’ at the White House after testing positive for coronavirus
Always consider the source. The Trump Admin is nothing more than a power play to create truth from a lie.
Mr Christie is one of several Trump allies to test positive for coronavirus in recent weeks. (AP: Julio Cortez) Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie says he was given “a false sense of security” that the people he was interacting with at the White House had been tested for the coronavirus. “It was a mistake,” Mr Christie told ABC’s Good Morning America in an interview where he detailed his […]
October 5, 2020
How soon they forget Contrary Thinker’s headlines.
Today 9/3/2020, the markets are flashing “DANGER,” and no one is paying attention, NO ONE.
Today 9/10/20, the majority continue to find a rationalization for more bull market.
Yet a full month later, the boogie-man-month of September is done and dusted, hence an all-clear for the bull market. Contrary Thinker sees the next range day lower that exceeds 4% without an intervening new high etching in stone that the market is in a long term bear market. The Summaries below support that expectation and the Chart Gallery to follow.
As a general observation of all the primary markets, they all peaked on panic buying in August – based on the TE Model. Such action, as previously observed, is easy to stop and will be flipped at least back to the point where the highly emotional buying began. However, given the age of the uptrends, the flip, the reversal should take prices very much below that point. Read More
September 16, 2020
“The top spokesman at Health and Human Services accused scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of “sedition” for their response to the coronavirus pandemic and warned people to buy guns and ammo because an insurrection led by Democrats could start on Inauguration Day if President Trump refuses to “stand down,” according to a report Monday.”
Health and Human Services Spokesman Michael Caputo
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images