What COVID-19’s Pandemic Revealed: a Morally Bankrupt Culture

Charles Hugh Smith | Of Two Minds

Hat Tip: Gulag Bound

Monopolies, quasi-monopolies, and cartels are inherently exploitive and thus evil.

Bill Gates, Francis Collins, Anthony Fauci

What was “normal” for the past two decades was to turn a blind eye to the moral and financial bankruptcy of the American culture, the rot at the heart of its social, political, and economic orders. The pandemic has shredded the putrid facade and revealed the rot, much to the dismay of the multitude of minions tasked with sanitizing the rot behind narratives promoting the normalization of predation, fraud, and exploitation.

What’s been absolutely verboten is to call legalized pillage and predation what they really are: evil. We’ve normalized exploitation and predation by the usual means: denial, legal justifications, making excuses for the predators and the system that defends predation, and by erasing the memory of a time when moral bankruptcy, predation, and institutionalized fraud were not yet normalized.

People have always been self-absorbed and greedy, so goes the excuse; or, greed is good because that’s the magic of the invisible hand at work.

By stripping fraud and predation of moral consequence, we’ve covered the putrid rot with a thoroughly modern amorality which we can summarize as anything goes and winner takes all. Monopoly, quasi-monopoly, and cartels (i.e. Warren Buffett’s entire portfolio) are presented as the natural order of things rather than an evil construct of predation and exploitation that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Nothing outrages the apologists and the lackeys enriching themselves in the dens of thieves more than accusations of evil, or indeed, anything smacking of moral standards or judgments. Anything goes not just for individual choices, but for capital’s choices as well, and so it’s simply not PC to question the morality of capital’s predations.

As for winner takes all, this legalized looting is presented as a form of economic Darwinism that is nothing but the healthy manifestation of a free market. This is the Devil’s handiwork, of course, presenting legalized looting that only benefits the few as the inevitable result of open markets.

John D. Rockefellers Sr. & Jr. in 1915, the year of David Rockefeller’s birth

The greater the outrage of the technocrats and monopolists at being called what they are–evil–the greater the confirmation that the accusation is spot-on. The predators, looters, and exploiters must strip away any moral assessment of their actions, as even the smallest shred of moral or karmic justice threatens their empires. And so economics has been reduced to bloodless quantifications of profits, costs and sales and obfuscatory mathematics designed to drain the risk of moral consequences from the parasitic pillage.

The greatest monopolist of early modern capitalism, John D. Rockefeller, struggled his entire life to reconcile his Christian values with the evils of his monopoly. He never fully succeeded, of course, ultimately using self-serving justifications of the “good” he’d done by stabilizing erratic markets and selling predictably priced oil products to the public (at prices fixed by his monopoly).

In effect, Rockefeller was praising the model of a public utility: an entity that is regulated to serve the public with essential products and services at a fair and stable price.

This is why I’ve proposed turning Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, et al. into public utilities via regulations that make it illegal to 1) collect users’ data and 2) sell the data. Each quasi-monopoly should be broken into competing pieces that cannot buy other pieces or pieces of other quasi-monopolies, or buy back their own shares.

Monopolies and cartels are evil because they are exploitive by their very nature. This is why the political system imposed anti-trust legislation in the early 20th century. And this is why technocrat apologists spew endless sophistries aimed at persuading us that these Big Tech monopolies aren’t actually monopolies and therefore anti-trust doesn’t apply to them. Their frantic efforts only confirm the truth: Big Tech monopolies are in fact monopolies, and therefore they are evil.

Public utilities are ultimately accountable to voters and taxpayers. Predatory private monopolies are only accountable to their predatory, parasitic owners, a truth that their immense armies of technocrat apologists, lackeys, and apparatchiks attempt to obscure.

Monopolies, quasi-monopolies, and cartels are inherently exploitive and thus evil, and so everyone profiting from these evils is also evil. Yes, “shareholder value” derived from monopolies, quasi-monopolies, and cartels is evil. No denial, no excuses. The karmic consequences– let’s call them moral dividends–are being readied for delivery. Professing ignorance or sainthood won’t stop or even delay the delivery. The Devil is chuckling at your deliciously ironic (now long departed) slogan, “don’t be evil.”

Dear shareholders and monopolists: the banquet of consequences is being served. Don’t choke on the cold serving of karma.

My COVID-19 Pandemic Posts

My recent books, audiobook edition now available:

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Ed.: first and second images added by GulagBound, AW.


J.B. Pritzker, the Jester who Would Be Coronavirus King

VirtualWright | COVID-19 | “Jester…”

Hat Tip: Gulag Bound

So, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced his five-step plan to reopen Illinois (i.e., the rest of us because he and his family don’t have to follow the rules). Here they are:

Phase 1 – Rapid Spread: The rate of infection among those tested and the number of patients admitted to the hospital is high or rapidly increasing. Strict stay at home and social distancing guidelines are put in place and only essential businesses remain open. Every region has experienced this phase once already and could return to it if mitigation efforts are unsuccessful.

Phase 2 – Flattening: The rate of infection among those tested and the number of patients admitted to the hospital beds and ICU beds increases at an ever slower rate, moving toward a flat and even a downward trajectory. Non-essential retail stores reopen for curbside pickup and delivery. Illinoisans are directed to wear a face-covering when outside the home and can begin enjoying additional outdoor activities like golf, boating, and fishing while practicing social distancing. To varying degrees, every region is experiencing flattening as of early May.

Phase 3 – Recovery: The rate of infection among those tested, the number of patients admitted to the hospital, and the number of patients needing ICU beds is stable or declining. Manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops, and salons can reopen to the public with capacity and other limits and safety precautions. All gatherings limited to 10 or fewer people are allowed. Face coverings and social distancing are the norm.

Phase 4 – Revitalization: The rate of infection among those tested and the number of patients admitted to the hospital continues to decline. All gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, restaurants and bars reopen, travel resumes, child care, and schools reopen under guidance from the IDPH. Face coverings and social distancing are the norm.

Phase 5 – Illinois Restored: With a vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period, the economy fully reopens with safety precautions continuing. Conventions, festivals, and large events are permitted, and all businesses, schools, and places of recreation can open with new safety guidance and procedures in place reflecting the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first two items actually are about closing Illinois, not reopening it. But they’re there as a threat that he might close it down again if we don’t behave.

Look at Phase 1. “Every region has experienced this phase once already and could return to it if mitigation efforts are unsuccessful.” Here is the breakdown of total deaths by county where he says all areas of Illinois have experienced rapid spread:

It’s hard to figure how all those counties who have experienced only one death could be lumped in with those at the top.

Now let’s talk about Phase 3, which he states no place in Illinois will reach until the end of May. The following three items need to be stable or declining:

  1. The rate of infection among those tested,
  2. the number of patients admitted to the hospital,
  3. and the number of patients needing ICU beds is stable or declining.

And here are those three metrics for the past two weeks, graphed from data on the Illinois Department of Health’s web site:

Beds are stable and the percentage of cases testing positive is clearly declining steadily. Here are the graphs on capacities from that website (from which I extracted some of the data for the above):

You can see that, statewide, there is plenty of capacity but there has been an increase in usage, but it is not due to COVID-19, it is due to other patients (probably those who were not willing to go to the hospital previously or perhaps they were declined admission because they were not considered important enough.

NBC Chicago reported the following:

“Restore Illinois is a public health plan to safely reintroduce the parts of our lives that have been put on hold in our fight against COVID-19,” he said. “This is also a data-driven plan that operates on a region-by-region basis, a recognition that reality on the ground looks different in different areas of our state.”

According to Pritzker, Illinois began phase two of its reopening plan on May 1, when a modified order took effect allowing some businesses to reopen. The earliest any location can begin entering phase three will be May 29.

The governor states that his plan is data-driven and that Phase 3 won’t be reached until the end of May, yet his own data shows we are already there.

This is a sham. He’s playing games and trying to misdirect us, hoping we won’t investigate for ourselves. And this court jester acts like he’s king. That he, and he alone, will decide when to reopen. He and he alone will interpret the data as to whether it will fit his criteria. And, if he and he alone feels like it, he’ll shut us all down again and throw us back to Phase 1.

Richard J. Wright, a chemist and information technology specialist, has been tracking the official Covid-19 epidemic (SARS-CoV-2 virus) data and assessing our government’s disease progression modeling, plus responses, at virtualwright.com.


Pensacola NAS Shooter Tied to AQAP

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, May 18, 2020

Attorney General William P. Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray Announce Significant Developments in the Investigation of the Naval Air Station Pensacola Shooting

Saudi gunman and at least 3 victims reported dead at NAS ...

Today, Attorney General William P. Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced significant developments in the FBI’s investigation of the December 6, 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola that killed three U.S. sailors and severely wounded eight other Americans.  On January 13, 2020, Attorney General Barr announced that the shooting was an act of terrorism and publicly asked Apple to help the FBI access the locked contents of two iPhones belonging to the deceased terrorist Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani.  The company declined to do so.

Attorney General Barr announced that the FBI recently succeeded in unlocking the phones of Alshamrani, who had attempted to destroy them while launching his attack.  The phones contained important, previously-unknown information that definitively established Alshamrani’s significant ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), not only before the attack but before he even arrived in the United States.  The FBI now has a clearer understanding of Alshamrani’s associations and activities in the years, months, and days leading up to the attack.

“Thanks to the great work of the FBI – and no thanks to Apple – we were able to unlock Alshamrani’s phones,” said Attorney General Barr.  “The trove of information found on these phones has proven to be invaluable to this ongoing investigation and critical to the security of the American people.  However, if not for our FBI’s ingenuity, some luck, and hours upon hours of time and resources, this information would have remained undiscovered.  The bottom line: our national security cannot remain in the hands of big corporations who put dollars over lawful access and public safety.  The time has come for a legislative solution.”

“I could not be prouder of the relentless dedication of the men and women at the FBI who worked for months under difficult conditions to access these devices,” said Director Wray.  “Their skill and persistence, and the sustained investigative efforts by FBI Jacksonville, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, and our many other federal, state, and local partners, have been nothing short of extraordinary in this case.  As we continue to seek answers around the December 6th terrorist attack that killed three American service members and wounded others, I want their families, and all Americans, to know that protecting the United States from those who seek to do us harm remains the FBI’s foremost priority.  Our work against the threat of terrorism never rests.”

Investigators sought and received court authorization to search the contents of Alshamrani’s iPhones within one day of the December 6, 2019, terrorist attack.  Unable to unlock the phones because of their security features, and having exhausted all readily available options, the FBI approached Apple for its assistance in early January 2020.  The company declined to assist.  FBI technical experts succeeded in accessing the phones’ contents over four months after the attack, revealing highly-significant evidence, including:

  • Alshamrani and his AQAP associates communicated using end-to-end encrypted apps, with warrant-proof encryption, deliberately in order to evade law enforcement.
  • Alshamrani’s preparations for terror began years ago.  He had been radicalized by 2015, and having connected and associated with AQAP operatives, joined the Royal Saudi Air Force in order to carry out a “special operation.”
  • In the months before the December 6, 2019 attack, while in the United States, Alshamrani had specific conversations with overseas AQAP associates about plans and tactics.  In fact, he was communicating with AQAP right up until the attack, and conferred with his associates until the night before he undertook the murders.

The evidence derived from Alshamrani’s unlocked phones has already proven useful in protecting the American people.  In particular, a counterterrorism operation targeting AQAP operative Abdullah al-Maliki, one of Alshamrani’s overseas associates, was recently conducted in Yemen.

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3

Response by DoD Secretary Esper:

Today, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced additional findings about the shooting on Dec. 6, 2019 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. This was a tragic day for our military and our deepest condolences are still with the friends and families of Ensign Joshua Watson, Airman Mohammed Haitham, Airman Cameron Walters, and with the eight others wounded in this terrorist attack.

The new information provided by Director Wray and Attorney General Barr underscores the threats to our nation posed by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and highlights the necessity of the security measures we take every day to protect the American people, our interests and our friends – as well as those that defend our nation.

”The Department of Defense is incredibly grateful for the diligent work by the FBI team investigating this horrific attack that took the lives of three American patriots,” said Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark. Esper. ”Based on the FBI findings, and in addition to already executed protective measures, the Department will take further prudent and effective measures to safeguard our people.”

In response to this terrorist attack, the Department of Defense took immediate action, ordering a stop to all International Military Student operational training at U.S. installations and directing a review of all vetting and security procedures. In January Secretary Esper went to Pensacola and met with Navy leadership, and with flight training students and first responders to hear first-hand the accounts of those on the scene. Within two weeks of the tragedy, the Secretary approved an extensive list of findings and recommendations and directed immediate implementation across all the military Services. These include additional measures for background checks and new physical security procedures, specifically:

  • New restrictions on IMS possession and use of firearms and ammunition.
  • New control measures for limiting IMS access to military installations and U.S. government facilities.
  • New standards for training and education on detecting and reporting insider threats.
  • Establishment of new vetting procedures that include capabilities for continuous monitoring of IMS while enrolled in U.S.-based training programs.
  • Acknowledgement of willingness to abide by these standards, committing to full compliance with all U.S. laws on-and off-duty.

We continue to work with the FBI as they uncover more information pertaining to the terrorist, his links with al-Qa’ida, and the methods he used to conceal this from us. At the same time, we continue to review our procedures to identify any additional vetting and security measures we can adopt.

Despite this tragic event, our military partnerships and the international military student program remain strong and are a vital component of our National Defense. Security cooperation directly contributes to U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives by helping allies and partners improve their defense capabilities and enhance their ability to participate in missions alongside U.S. forces. We will continue to work closely with them to counter the threats of international terrorism and protect our freedom.


Blood Brothers: Barack Obama, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain

By: Cliff Kincaid

President Trump once said about Senator Lindsey Graham that he “would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people’s wars.” This statement is critical to understanding why Senator Graham has announced that he won’t bring Barack Hussein Obama before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain his role in Russia-gate. Graham knows that Obama targeted Trump National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn because Flynn was opposed to the Obama policy of using the CIA to destabilize the Middle East and bring the Muslim Brotherhood and other Jihadist forces to power.

But here’s the kicker: Graham and the late Senator John McCain were blood brothers with Obama in promoting the “Arab spring” uprisings in the Middle East that left 560,000 dead in Syria alone when a civil war ensued. To make matters worse, the Russians won anyway.

This is a real scandal, in contrast to the phony allegations against Trump that Graham’s friend and collaborator John McCain gave to the FBI in the form of the Steele dossier. What’s more, it was Graham who actually encouraged McCain to go to the FBI with this bogus document, which was based on Russian disinformation.

Any simple Google search discloses many stories about the “secret” operations ordered by Obama and carried out by John Brennan’s CIA that sent arms through Saudi Arabia and Qatar into the hands of “rebels” in the Middle East that turned out to include Jihadists. The New York Times estimated the cost of the CIA program at $1 billion.

So-called “moderate” forces supported by the U.S. even admitted some of their weapons went to groups like al Qaeda and ISIS.

Incredibly, Graham and McCain turned on Obama only when he failed to escalate the wars even further. They had sought 20,000 more U.S. ground troops in Syria and Iraq in 2015.

These “dirty wars,” a major blot on America’s reputation and standing in the world, are critical to understanding Obama’s involvement in the plot to prevent Flynn from serving as Trump’s National Security Adviser. Remember that Obama had fired Flynn from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and then Flynn had campaigned for candidate Trump, who had promised an end to unwinnable foreign wars. This was a direct challenge to Obama’s legacy.

Flynn had been appointed Trump’s National Security Adviser when an illegal leak to the Washington Post made a “scandal” of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador. Flynn was forced out, framed by the FBI, and pleaded guilty under pressure to charges of lying. Belated recognition of the set-up has led the Justice Department to now drop the case against him (although a Clinton-appointed federal judge is trying to keep it alive).

Flynn has been unable to explain his side of the story because of the legal assault against him. But according to his writings and previously known public statements, Flynn considered America’s intelligence on the rise of Sunni terrorist groups in the Middle East to be flawed. Citing intelligence from the DIA, the agency he ran, he saw the Obama policies as producing more instability and chaos, even leading to the rise of the Islamic State or ISIS. In short, Obama’s policy was producing more terrorists.

When Trump ended this disastrous policy in mid-2017, the Washington Post reported the news in a story headlined, “Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow.” This was an attempt to keep Russia-gate, which was then underway, going full-speed ahead, by creating the impression that Trump was doing Moscow’s bidding. Echoing the Post, Lindsey Graham sent out a Tweet, saying that if the story were true and the CIA program was ending, “it would be a complete capitulation to Assad, Russia, and Iran.”

In fact, using the CIA to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria had already backfired by provoking a Russian military response, in the form of intervention on behalf of Syria in 2015. Assad is still in power to this day, consolidating his victory, and so are the Iranian mullahs.

Eventually, Trump made another smart move – withdrawing U.S. military support for the Kurds, a Marxist-led group seeking their own independent state in the region that claimed to be fighting ISIS.

Wisely, Trump left this problem to the Turks, fellow members of NATO, who opposed U.S. support for the Kurds with good reason, since Kurdish groups have been waging war on Turkish civilians for decades. Trump understood that the Turks were the best defense against Syrian and Russian expansionist designs in the region.

At the same news conference where he rejected Graham’s Middle East policies, Trump went on to say, “The people of South Carolina don’t want us to get into a war with Turkey, a NATO member, or with Syria. Let them fight their own wars. They’ve been fighting for a thousand years. Let them fight their own wars.”

Considering this tension between Trump and Graham (and Obama), Graham’s rejection of Trump’s request for Obama to testify at his upcoming Russia-gate hearings makes sense. He knows the truth would backfire on those who were co-conspirators in the Obama/CIA policy that led to so much death and destruction in the Middle East (and which Michael T. Flynn opposed). Clearly, Graham and McCain were on Obama’s side and bear some of the responsibility for the terrible loss of life in the region, not to mention the millions of refugees.

In order to deflect attention away from those “dirty wars,” the Steele dossier was peddled not only by the Democrats but by McCain and Graham to frame Flynn, Trump, and other officials as Russian agents. No matter how pro-Trump Graham today sounds, in his multiple appearances on Sean Hannity’s Fox program, the cold hard facts tell a different story.

Graham, who helped get Russia-gate started, is now going to hold hearings into how Russia-gate got started? That’s a joke. It’s even more laughable now that Graham says he won’t call Obama as a witness.  Clearly, he wants to protect Obama. And by protecting Obama, he hides his bloody hands in Syria and his anti-Trump maneuvers that started Russia-gate in the first place.

*Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. www.usasurvival.org.