Celebrate the Facts!
Donald Trump almost overthrew a legitimate government in 2020. Despite public statements, recordings, and other media, Trump and his many public enablers escaped with no consequences. Watch out, because next time Trump may indeed say ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy.’ With Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter, the odds of Trump’s return twitched up a touch.
The United States is in the middle of a revolution. The Democratic Party and its constituents seem to lack the political will to resist a seeming upwelling of Christian Nationalism, hatred, and bigotry. PG-rated ads, tribal television Infotainment, and serial television stand up comedy acts won’t get it done.
No intelligent or rational person has any doubt Donald Trump attempted a coup regardless of public representation. Multiple entities regardless of political alliance confirmed the election was conclusive and Joe Biden was the president-elect of the United States. Regardless, Trump attempted to install himself as president, and, quite possibly, intended to stay in office until deposed or dead.
The Democratic Party, with ancient leaders using even older strategies, has allowed a recent coup attempt to remain smoldering, and while a bit of a long shot, there’s a very real possibility the leaders of that insurrection and their enablers may return to power.
A key point in understanding white nationalist strategy is its stated strategies to insulate leaders from criminal charges. White nationalist Louis Beam prescribed the mechanism in his 1992 essay Leaderless Resistance. The piece recommended no longer planning in large groups but forming cells of one to six men, with little or no direct contact with nominal leadership. This methodology became standard among white nationalist groups, mitigating the ability of law enforcement to tie leaders to criminal acts.
Trump led the insurrection with his messaging. He provided a rationale, election fraud, and a means for the coup. He attempted to sway various arms of the federal and state governments to his side, and, on at least one occasion, was recorded in such effort. He called violent supporters to Washington DC to a rally he addressed and encouraged the mob to march on the Capitol building. The leaderless resistance concept insulated him, and his henchmen, including cultish paramilitary groups, such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers along with the mob of white trash at the Capitol, implemented the message.
While some wish to dismiss Trump as a dullard, such appears an erroneous conclusion. Trump has incredible intelligence about anything that benefits him. He has an uncanny sense of how far to push the law and still stay free of consequences. One might reasonably conclude anything else fails to capture his attention.
Trump’s genius is the use of media of various provenance to reach various audiences. Trump cobbled together a group of minority groups that often overlapped demographics. Mainstream Republicans couldn’t stomach voting for a Democrat and held their nose and pulled the Trump lever. Much of the rest of his support came from special interest groups including gun nuts, fervent Christians, people who were against abortion, racists, and disaffected white men and the women who love them.
While many of these special interest groups were very small minorities of the electorate, a few points were enough to make a difference in razor-thin elections and those groups pushed Trump into the presidency.
One of Trump’s challenges was overcoming his messaging of hate and reaching audiences who were undecided or could be swayed into his camp. Many of the media audiences were echo chambers with only like-minded consumers with Fox News perhaps being the best example.
Social media was one area that offered a bit of penetration into other audiences and was critical to Trump’s success with Facebook and Twitter providing the most effective platforms. Trump’s campaign organizations pumped many millions into advertising each. Both organizations removed Trump after the January 6, 2020 coup failure, and such was a perhaps fatal blow to his hopes for a political future.
Regardless, in the movies all monsters come back for sequels and Trump is no exception. There’s money in those political hills and Trump may come back to mine them again, and if he does, Elon Musk will be his resurrector.
Musk’s apparently successful buyout of Twitter is the end game of billionaire hubris. Musk is not an innovator. He didn’t invent the Internet or wire transfer of money, he merely put them together at PayPal. Musk didn’t come up with the idea for an electric car, lithium ion batteries, and upscale branding, he arranged for them to coincide with Tesla. Similarly Musk didn’t create spaceflight or underground tunneling. Musk puts money and other people’s ideas together in new packages.
Musk won’t innovate at Twitter either. What he will do is make money, and he will make a lot of money on Twitter. Musk has already dog whistled Trump’s return with his comments about free speech.
Twitter makes money on selling user engagement. No current political figure is more loved or more hated than Trump so Musk is certain to allow his return and Trump will reward him with elevated engagement. And engagement means higher advertising rates and more advertising and that means a whole lot more money.
And there’s apparently nothing Musk yearns for more than more money.
Twitter offers a lot more to Trump than merely reaching potential swing voters. Trump used Twitter to test drive ideas, often tweeting or retweeting dozens of times a day. Trump then used those analytics to gauge real-time audience response to themes.
Trump could then tailor his messages and stay current with his audiences rather than relying on surveys or anecdotal data. And analytics are almost instantaneous data so Trump could stay ahead of the competition with themes and responses that resonated best.
There’s a lot of ground to cover until the next presidential election cycle. The Russian war in Ukraine put a dent in Trump’s brand but it’s unlikely that will diminish his support among his true believers, regardless of Vladimir Putin’s brutality. Trump’s health as always is uncertain, particularly his mental health.
Regardless, Trump delivered on his commitments to his core constituencies. He gave them a Christian Nationalist Supreme Court that will certainly overturn Roe v Wade with a ruling in June 2022, thereby rewarding the Christians and anti-abortion crowd. He honored the white nationalists with praise and legitimacy. He gave mainstream Republicans their treasured corporate tax cuts.
While free speech advocates say all, or almost all, speech deserves to be aired and ideas will succeed or fail best debated in open forums, hatred and its sisters deceit and racism, are a birds of different feathers. And poking fun at them won’t put them to rest.
Liberal and progressive interests have long anticipated the expiration of Charles Koch, the remaining Koch brother. Unfortunately for them, their apparent heir shares the corrosive Libertarian ideologies and will likely continue the legacy of dark money and outsized influence on the political process. Chase Koch brands himself as a new breed of consensus-building philanthropist, but the facts suggest otherwise. Expect the Koch money to continue its prominent role in American politics.
The story of the Koch brothers and their influence on American politics and society is darkly fascinating. Charles Koch took over his father's business in the 1960s and rebranded it as Koch Industries. The company later diversified into finance, agriculture, and technology. By 2020, Koch Industries had revenue of $115 billion.
In 1980, David Koch, the other half of the Koch brothers duo, ran as the vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. David Koch sadly drew his last breath in August 2019. Charles Koch is now worth about $62 billion.
Fast facts about the Koch dynasty:
The Koch brothers were quick to jump on the lobbying bandwagon. They established their pet charitable foundation and named it Americans for Prosperity in 2004. Their agents registered it as a social welfare organization, along with its affiliates Americans for Prosperity Action, a super PAC, and Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
Americans for Prosperity states its purpose as promoting 'broad-based grassroots outreach to advocate long-term solutions' to issues including 'unsustainable government spending and debt, a broken immigration system, a rigged economy.' Americans for Prosperity claims it now has 38 statewide chapters and has recruited over 3.2 million activists and 100,000 financial supporters.
Americans for Prosperity is a 501(c)(4), meaning its purpose is for the 'promotion of social welfare,' and that it can spend less than half its annual budget on political activities. Under these rules, these organizations don’t have to do disclose their donors. In other words, it's a wellspring of dark money.
The Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court, Supreme Court ruling provided the on-ramp to the current political situation in the United States. Dark money groups have spent about $1 billion to influence elections since 2010. Dark money means political spending meant to influence the decision of a voter, where there is no requirement for donor disclosure or source.
Americans for Prosperity claims seminal roles in governance in the United States:
David Koch's death didn't stop the family from continuing its outsized and corrosive campaigns for the Koch interests, however.
Chase Koch is the ranking Koch heir. He's climbing the Koch Industries corporate ladder, no surprise given his surname. Chase Koch is Executive Vice President of Koch Ag & Energy Solutions and president of Koch Disruptive Technologies. His only sibling, Elizabeth, disengaged from the family's businesses, and David Koch's children are all much younger.
Chase Koch was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1997. In 1993, a Kansas court convicted a 16-year-old Charles Koch of misdemeanor vehicular homicide after his Ford Explorer hit and killed twelve-year-old Zachary Siebert at a cross-walk after he ran a red light in Wichita. His sentence was 18 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, completion of a defensive driving course, and payment for the victim's funeral.
Koch is now married and has fathered one child. The family lives on a 70-acre property in Wichita, Kansas.
Chase Koch has done a good job of grooming his public image to portray a kinder and gentler Libertarian leaning. The normally leftist Politico published a fawning article in 2018 that read almost like a product placement. Business Insider, a clickbait Internet publication, provided a similar article in 2019 that reads almost as if it were penned by a publications relation firm charged with polishing Chase Koch's brand. Media rarely gets a shot at Chase Koch, and it seems he's carefully grooming his future by dispersing favorable bits.
Any liberal hopes Chase Koch will change the direction of Koch dark money are vain.
Chase Koch's personal contributions to political candidates include:
Notably absent from Chase Koch's contributions is any evidence of contributions to Democrats. One can surmise, despite the smarmy media placements, that Chase Koch is but a younger version of his father and uncle and will continue the family's political traditions.
A huge question for American society is the incredible influence of individual billionaires on political discourse and societal evolution. Melinda Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros are the public face of an extensive billionaire class with an outsized vote in what is said and done in the United States. The uber-rich can donate to charity or form their charitable foundations and write the donations off their taxes, effectively having United States taxpayers co-fund their pet causes. They can use these ostensible charities to fund their political causes as well as enhance their public image through more palatable endeavors.
Simply being the spawn of wealthy parents or marrying big money and advocating for political causes requires a great deal of audacity. Chase Koch joins a group such as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in the club. Winning the genetic lottery or marrying a rich person is an easy way to a posh life. A privileged life with few worries, however, is no way any kind of qualification for much of anything, especially leading or influencing political movements.
The American hate personalities and movements are not known for any positive proposals or accomplishments. By nature, they are haters and live in a world of opposition. One of the bulwarks of the online hate community is a man named Cliff Kincaid. Kincaid isn’t just the right-wing conspiracy theorist relative-to-be-avoided at holiday gatherings. His work provides substantial support to the Christian Nationalist community and helps normalize the worst inclinations of humankind.
Kincaid is unusual among his colleagues in many respects. He is a white, middle-aged male Christian; however, he does not have a criminal record. Noteworthy by their absence from discussion of him is domestic violence or sexual harassment allegations, a seeming credential for his community. Kincaid was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1954 and had a modest educational record, graduating from the University of Toledo with a degree in journalism. He is married and lives in Owings, Maryland, a hamlet southeast of Washington, D.C.
Kincaid embarked on his journey into the right-wing fringes with affiliations with Oliver North’s Freedom Alliance foundation. North is the former president of the National Rifle Association and a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Kincaid’s next stop in 1978 was Accuracy in Media (AIM), a right-wing hate-based nonprofit founded in 1969. Kincaid maintains an active affiliation with AIM, having held numerous roles. AIM formally claims its mission is to use citizen activism and investigative journalism to expose media bias, corruption, and public policy failings. Unfortunately, AIM remains active in the right-wing Hateosphere, operating in dog-whistle land of homophobia, conspiracy theory, and white supremacy.
Recent articles published by AIM include:
Kincaid’s philosophical realm is an updated version of that espoused by the Christian Nationalist John Birch Society, founded in 1952. Kincaid spews dogmatic anti-communism, carries a metaphorical Christian cross, white (male) supremacy, vehement hatred of the LBGTQ community, and wraps it all with magical conspiracy thinking. Kincaid despises Catholics, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, communists, socialists, and, it seems, anyone who doesn’t look and act like him.
Kincaid is the author or co-author of several self-published books:
Kincaid also formed an organization called America’s Survival in 1997. America’s Survival is a web platform that posts Kincaid’s regular rants.
Recent blog posts on America’s Survival include:
Frustrated with his fruitless writing career, Kincaid pivoted to posting his own YouTube videos. He regularly publishes videos on YouTube on his channel named USA Survival. USA Survival is the video complement to his website America’s Survival.
Titles of his recent video posts include:
Kincaid is a thought leader in hatred of LBTGQ populations and avid in his attacks. Kincaid says homosexuals have infiltrated every community, including his treasured right-wing space. He thinks any divergence from antiquated sex roles is an existential threat to American society.
Among Kincaid’s homophobic comments:
One should not dismiss Kincaid and his ilk as the crazy old right-wing crank down the street. Kincaid is more dangerous and corrosive than that stereotype. He is a prolific writer and eagerly speaks in public on behalf of his ideologies. His work provides substantial support to the Christian Nationalist community and helps normalize conspiracy theories. These materials help substantiate erroneous views of history, normalize white supremacy, and give another voice to extremist echo chambers. Unfortunately, fellow purveyors of hate glam up his resume and self-publishing credentials, and some people may accept he is a legitimate journalist.
4/10/2022 2 Comments
Ukraine and its allies have used the terms war crime, genocide, and crimes against humanity since the Russian invasion in February 2022. Media reports substantiate credible allegations of horrific acts against civilians, and many of such appear within some of the international law’s definitions of crimes. Unfortunately, international law has no obvious way to penalize Vladimir Putin or his designees aside from limiting their international travel. Such prosecutions are an international relations matter and not a criminal prosecution. The beneficiaries of Putin’s misguided invasion appear to be Joe Biden, the Democratic Party, and the United States defense industry.
The international community set up a series of one-time courts to address war crimes after World War II. These include the Nuremberg trials to prosecute Nazi war criminals between 1945 and 1949. Later it established the tribunal that investigated war crimes during the break-up of Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to address those responsible for the genocide in Rwanda.
There is overriding international governance of war crimes. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 established the core principles of international humanitarian laws. The Rome Statute, following in 1998, established the International Criminal Court (ICC). These agreements protect civilians and prisoners of war, and the wounded. Attacks must be intentional or reckless to meet the definition of a war crime. Simply bombing a train station, hospital, or theater used for civilians does not meet the requirements, provided the act was an accident.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has jurisdiction over disputes between countries; however, it has no mandate to prosecute individuals. Ukraine has begun a case against Russia in the ICJ. If the ICJ rules against Russia, the UN Security Council (UNSC) would be responsible for enforcement. Still, Russia, one of the council's five permanent members, could veto any proposal to sanction it. While examining this case might benefit Ukraine by helping international support, prosecution appears impossible.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) rules over four types of crime: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the crime of aggression. The court has 123 member states, but neither Russia nor Ukraine is a party. The United States also does not participate nor endorse the ICC. Aside from diplomatic pressure on allies to press prosecutions against Russia, the United States has little leverage and no grounds to push prosecution.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine seems like a clear act of aggression by Russia against Ukraine. However, there is a catch to this, as the crime of aggression has a particular requirement. When the ICC amended its statutes to include the crime of aggression, the United States, Russia, and China lobbied to protect citizens of countries not a signatory to the ICC from prosecution. The United Nations Security Council can circumvent to refer the prosecution to the ICC with a vote. Russia has one of the five seats on the Security Council and can and certainly would veto it.
The ICC can only prosecute this crime if one member state commits an act of aggression against another. Unfortunately, neither Russia nor Ukraine is a member, so the ICC will never prosecute Russia for the crime of aggression. Instead, the ICC will focus on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The ICC opened a war crimes investigation against Russia based on a request from 39 member countries. Investigators will look at allegations dating back to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. If prosecutors conclude they have sufficient evidence for a trial, the ICC will issue arrest warrants for arrest. The ICC relies on individual states to arrest suspects.
There will be no trial of Putin or any other Russians at the ICC of Putin unless they appear in the courtroom. However, an ICC formal accusation of Putin with an international warrant for his arrest would make Putin’s overseas travel problematic and damage his credibility and Russia’s reputation.
A more elevated discussion of this topic might be a discussion of when war is a crime? Wars such as the Civil War waged over the fate of about four million enslaved people. World War II seemed necessary and morally defensible to stop the Nazi warfare and genocide machine.
However, many genocidal regimes have ruled unchallenged. For example, Turkey exterminated about 1.5 million Armenians in the first genocide of the 20th century waged between 1915 and 1923. The Stalinist USSR government murdered as many as 8 million Ukrainians in a state-induced famine in the early 1930s in the Holodomor genocide. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge regime killed as many as two million people between 1975 and 1979. The list of state-administered murders of their citizens seems endless, and genocide seems more of an innate human trait than a rare occurrence.
State interventions and the toppling of sovereign governments seem a grayer ethical zone. The United States' invasion and installation of puppet regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 seems a clear political and economic venture rather than a national security exercise. Both seem a direct corollary to the Soviet invasion in 1979 and occupation of Afghanistan until 1989. Similarly, both were futile exercises regardless of massive costs and never achieved their stated goals.
Aside from being brutalist and unprovoked, the Russian intervention in Ukraine seems remarkably uninformed and self-destructive. Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe and has strong defense ties to the United States. Moreover, the invasion instantly alienated Russia from trade partners necessary for economic and technological development. Russia’s primary asset, fossil fuels, is becoming increasingly irrelevant in a decarbonized world, and the growth of wealth inside Russia will be necessary to maintain any standard of living. Long-term, this isolation poses an existential threat to Russia.
Russia’s invasion also prompted NATO countries to increase military deployments in bordering countries, frustrating Russia’s stated desire to decrease those pressures. Germany announced a plan to beef up the German military, pledging about $113 billion for a one-time modernization of its armed forces, and confirmed its commitment to reach the 2% of gross domestic product spending on defense. Germany, of course, remains in Russian cultural memory as an immense military threat due to World Wars I and II.
Russia’s invasion also showed how ineffectual the Russian military is, with outdated equipment, poor planning and strategy, poorly trained soldiers, and unmotivated personnel. The Russian military budget of about $62 billion, smaller than India’s, did not buy them a seat at the table of world powers.
Regardless of those factors, success in invasion and supplanting sovereign governments is problematic, and there are no excellent precedents in recent history for success. Russia’s failure in Afghanistan helped topple the former Soviet Union.
Absent a diplomatic solution Russia appears bound to be bogged down in a long-term proxy war in Ukraine, costing it many lives and lots of money. The Biden Administration and a Congress bought and paid for by the defense industry will be delighted to continue to fund Ukraine with no risk in the United States.
Joe Biden and the Democrats are no doubt delighted with the domestic political ramifications of the Russian invasion. Facing an uphill battle to hold onto each house of Congress, the invasion is like found money. Biden can use arch-nemesis Donald Trump's historical fawning admiration of Putin against him and Republican opponents in mid-term elections. In addition, the Biden Administration just presented its record defense budget to Congress, and it will bloat even higher as representatives will be eager to add to it to show how they are strong on defense. Given Biden’s adept management of the situation, it appears this will be a significant asset in the upcoming elections, both in the 2022 mid-terms and the 2024 presidential election.
White nationalisms’ last spasms tear the United States apart, setting citizens against one another in partisan camps, often resulting in violence. The deferred national reckoning with American slavery and its offspring racism and bigotry continue to cost national dignity and economic development. Such suppression of a necessary reconciliation is a required predecessor to evolution as a society. While the public is aware of the horrors and brutality of institutionalized slavery in the United States, the even darker legacy of medical experimentation and murder of disabled slaves exists.
The Lost Cause myth inculcated thought and teaching of American History and colored the perception of slavery. This discredited concept presented an American South with large plantations owned by gentry who gently guided slave labor in a communal effort for the better good. The Lost Cause the cause of the Civil War was the collision of two economic systems: agricultural and industrial, and slavery, part of the causes, was not primary. In this fabled world, great political leaders such as Robert E. Lee, loyal to their home state, objected to federal rule and chose to declare a new republic, free of meddlesome governance. According to this magical scenario, the Civil War became an invasion of the South by an aggressive and brutalist North.
The Lost Cause myth also rests on the idea that slavery is a stage of a necessary evolution of every civilized society and so that the South, by extension, would have gradually evolved into a free culture. Both statements are false.
Large-scale slavery is rare, and there are only two significant examples of slavery persisting over a substantial time. The two instances are the Greek-Roman classical world and on the East coast of the Americas from Brazil to Virginia. Slavery was a minor feature in many places and times. Some historians consider Stalinist Russia’s slave labor camps and the concentration camps of Nazi Germany additions, but these fail the criteria because of the short time durations of each.
The idea that the South would have gradually evolved into a civilized society absent the Civil War and the North’s intervention is empirically false. The Union overcame the Confederacy in 1865 and implemented Reconstruction, where it enforced federal law at gunpoint until 1877. At various points in the Civil Rights era, federal authorities compelled adherence to federal court decisions and legislation. Despite such intervention, the American South remains plagued by racial discrimination and segregation, racial inequality, and African American voting rights repression. To argue the arc of Southern history would have followed better lines absent the Civil War is academically intriguing but fallacious.
Other facts refute the erroneous Lost Cause myth presentation. First, the war was indeed about slavery. The simmering results of deferral to address human bondage after the United States revolution exploded when an unlikely candidate, Abraham Lincoln, won the presidential election of 1860. Lincoln was a revolutionary figure, elected without a plurality, who led the Union to the annihilation of the Confederate government and freed about four million enslaved people in the process.
The horrors of slavery have entered the national discussion. Slave traders bought Africans and legally imported them until 1807, when the United States government outlawed such commerce. After that time, traders bootlegged them as the government rarely enforced that law. Their owners treated Africans and African Americans as semi-skilled livestock, separated, and sold family members, raped them, beat them, outlawed education, and murdered them. Enslavers controlled the marital status of enslaved African Americans to produce their ideal offspring for profit. Such discussion is excellent and healthy for the nation and cultural evolution in general, but some of the most abominable features, the practice of murdering old and disabled slaves and performing medical experiments on them, remain undiscussed.
Many physicians in the United States regarded African Americans as distinctly different in many qualities. North American physicians said African subjects' bodies, brains, and behaviors with quasi- notions of fundamental and inherent racial difference. These medical ideas racialized skin, bones, diseases, physical capabilities, and mental incapacities to justify and defend the institution of slavery.
These included resistance to tropical diseases, hardiness in the heat, resistance to the sun, lower intelligence, and a tendency to laziness. These physicians grew into a specialist grouping and built a group of ‘negro hospitals’ to service enslavers with the added diabolical feature of sketchy medical research. White doctors sent reports of their experiments on slave subjects to medical journals. Doctors often advertised in southern newspapers that they would pay cash for black people suffering from chronic disease. Often slave traders patronized these institutions to bolster their slaves’ appearance so they could command a higher price at auction.
The use of enslaved people for medical experimentation was frequent, with both doctors and medical students eager for experience with actual patients. One of these, Dr. E.S. Bennett, was keen to operate when he was a medical student. In 1817 Bennett attempted to remove a small tumor from the head of a two-year-old slave child owned by his father, and then published the results. Unfortunately, anesthesia was not widely available at this time, so a white subject would have been impossible to acquire.
In 1846 a Louisville, Kentucky physician named S.D. Gross removed half of the jaw of a nine-year-old slave girl named Kitty without anesthetic, tying her limbs down, and published the results. The paper concluded with a self-congratulatory note about how her master had informed him two years later that Kitty was able to chew and swallow.
The most infamous of all experimenters on slaves was J. Marion Sims of Alabama. His cheerleaders called him the ‘father of American Gynecology,’ primarily due to his development of a surgical procedure to address vaginal fistulas. What is less known about Sims is experimented on African American women to develop his procedure, and did not use anesthesia, although there were anesthetics widely used at the time of his work. Sims appeared to feel African American women were more resistant to pain and did not require such, despite frequently lamenting their struggles on the operating table during his surgical procedures.
In the nineteenth century, cadavers for medical education were rare because of religious prohibition, and sometimes procuring dead bodies was illegal. Bodies were so scarce that medical schools did not require a practical anatomy course for a diploma. Occasionally medical students and their instructors ended up robbing graves or simply paying for bodies. Usually, these were the bodies of enslaved people, but sometimes they were the remains of criminals and poor whites. Southern body snatchers often sent the bodies of African Americans to Northern medical schools. Rumors that murderous entrepreneurs murdered blacks and then sold their bodies for experimentation continued to circulate well after the days of slavery, although there is no evidence this was more than a legend.
Slaveholders placed disabled enslaved people in various duties in and out of plantation labor. Some plantation slaveholders assigned compliant elderly enslaved men as drivers for field labor, using the slave community’s respect for its older members to their benefit. Aged women sometimes watched children in the plantation’s nurseries. These nurseries freed valuable labor for other work and included children from one week to five years old. There were places for the aged in these societies, but such places also benefited the owner by freeing labor for more productive work elsewhere and the direct value of the endeavor.
Historians have discovered evidence that enslavers ordered the murder of elderly and disabled slaves who could no longer work. Contemporary evidence is scant but some of this is likely due to the unsavory nature of such acts and the possibility recordkeepers removed the information. Also, discovering historical documentation of anything slave-related from this time is difficult. Spotty census data, dispersed library records, and the lack of digital availability are factors in the difficulty of uncovering empirical data.
Some slavers set their elderly and disabled property free and sent them to Southern cities. This indirect manner of killing enslaved people meant abandoning them with no financial or community support. These people soon perished. Enslavers used this strategy was so much that strict legislation against manumission precluded this practice. This legislation ostensibly protected old and disabled slaves but also insulated the public from the expense of maintaining them.
Slaveholders also abandoned elderly and disabled slaves without sending them away from the plantation. Instead, when enslaved people could no longer work, mainly due to old age or blindness, their white keepers housed them in remote areas in primitive shelters to live alone and fend for themselves. Starvation and death due to disease or the elements were generally the outcome and likely intended to be.
Questions arise when one examines such repugnant episodes in the history of the United States. Repression of education of these truths further insulates people from a fulsome awareness of the history of slavery and race. Such endeavors now fall under the tribal discussion of critical race theory. Legislation outlawing instruction and debate about race bolsters white supremacy and its attendance illnesses. The stain of slavery and its spawn of racism and bigotry will not diminish until a full airing. Deferring such is akin to the series of iterative political compromises in the runup to the Civil War.
The presentation of Confederate symbols in the United States is particularly troubling and an affront to many parties. First, such an exhibition insults people of color and diminishes all humanity. Second, confederate flags are an implicit endorsement of slavery, eugenics, institutionally-sponsored murder, and an insult to all that is good about humanity. Third, preserving places of honor in public spaces for statues of famous Confederates provides an explicit state endorsement of such horrors.
The white nationalist excuse ‘heritage not hate,’ properly translated, means ‘heritage of hate.’
The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has recast Western perceptions of Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. History now scrutinizes past Western investments in Russia as the West implements draconian sanctions to dissuade Russia from further warfare. Of course, people in the West have long understood enterprises such as McDonalds and Starbucks. What is murkier is Western investment in Russia’s defense industry. Through a complex confluence of bond purchases, stock sales, joint ventures, and licensing of weapons manufacturing, Russia has been able to bolster its defense capabilities with outside money. Much of that has come from firms headquartered in nominally liberal Western democracies.
In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government transferred most assets to private companies. In the transition from a centralized command economy to private commerce, innovation and value chains disintegrated, and the output of the manufacturing sector, in particular its high-tech branches, cavitated.
This signaled the restoration of a state-controlled command economy led by state-owned companies. For the last 15 years, under Vladimir Putin-led ‘state capitalism,’ Russian state-owned corporations have had the responsibility for manufacturing in Russia. Roughly contemporaneously, the Russian government formed a military-industrial conglomerate called Rostechnologii (Rostec), including the state arms exporter, Rosobnoronexport, 450 other entities, and 180 state corporations. Most of these operated in the defense, machine building, aviation, auto manufacturing, and metallurgy sectors. Rostec’s portfolio now comprises over 800 subsidiaries.
The president of the Russian Federation appoints Rostec’s CEO, so the organization is under the direct oversight of Putin. Rostec is larger than similar international corporations like Airbus, Boeing, General Electric, and Samsung. The corporation’s annual arms exports total about $13 billion, up to 70% of Rostec’s revenue.
With its fighter jets and helicopters, the aviation sector represents the majority share. Russia consolidated its shipyards into the United Shipbuilding Corporation and its aircraft industry (such as the MiG, Sukhoi, and Tupolev companies) into the United Aircraft Corporation, later incorporated under Rostec.
Rostec generates revenues of between $21 to 25 billion annually from government contracts, military equipment exports, raw materials, and state subsidies. In addition, periodic Rostec subsidiary joint-stock companies issue stock to provide additional financing.
Russia is now the world’s second-largest arms exporter, behind the United States. Russia exports arms to over 45 countries and has a 20% share of global arms sales since 2016. Some of Russia’s arms clients back to the Soviet Union days.
Five countries buy most Russian arms exports: Algeria, China, Egypt, India, and Vietnam, with India being the largest importer of Russian weapons since 2016. Russia is attempting to broaden its client base and aggressively pursues new markets in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Russia exports military aircraft, air defense systems, naval vessels and submarines, radars, missiles, tanks, armored vehicles, small arms, and artillery. Aircraft make up 50% of Russian arms exports. Russia’s main sales pitch is that their weapons are less expensive to capitalize and more reliable because they are simpler and cheaper to maintain.
In 2019, Russia and India launched a dedicated joint venture, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited, to mass-produce AK-203 assault rifles in northern India. In addition, in mid-2020, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization signed a technology development contract to develop rocket ignition systems, rockets, and missiles. India and Russia jointly manufacture the BrahMos missile system, and India builds the Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft and T-90 tanks under license.
India and Russia assemble the Ka-226T light-weight multipurpose helicopter, designed by Rostec subsidiary Russian Helicopters, under license to India. India and Russia had a joint development program of the Sukhoi Su-57 military aircraft. However, India terminated the relationship ostensibly because Russia refused to share software and computer codes to operate the military aircraft.
The Ural Works of Civil Aviation is a subsidiary of Rostec and supplies helicopter engines and drones for the Russian military. Diamond Aircraft Industries (DAI) is an Austrian-based manufacturer of composite aircraft. The two operate a light aircraft manufacturing facility in Yekaterinburg (Ural) to provide aircraft for Russian civil aviation.
The Boeing Company (Boeing) created a titanium production joint venture with Rostec to provide the metal for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the 737 Next Generation, and the 737 MAX. The Ural Boeing Manufacturing is located about 1,100 kilometers east of Moscow in a region of the Ural Mountains called the Titanium Valley.
The Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Stan Deal said the Russian company had been a ‘reliable and valuable partner’ for nearly a quarter of a century. Boeing determined the long-term contracts would meet about 35% of Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ need for titanium. But, of course, the Russian military also uses titanium as a raw material for its defense industry, so Boeing’s support helped the Russian military develop capacity.
France's Safran SA, one of Europe's biggest aerospace firms, produces the engines, landing gear, and engine covers for the Sukhoi Superjet 100, a regional passenger jet, as part of a joint venture with UEC NPO Saturn, a Rostec subsidiary. Safran also has 24 plants with over 8,000 employees in America and is a major military supplier to every branch of the United States military. As a result, the Russian military benefited from the profits of these enterprises and technology transfer and manufacturing ability and knowledge.
Leonardo is an Italian multinational technology and defense firm with 7,000 employees in the United States. Leonardo DRS is a United States defense contractor and operates in Russia with a joint venture called HeliVert in the Moscow suburb of Tomilino has led to the creation of the AW-139 multipurpose helicopter.
HeliVert is a joint venture between Leonardo and two companies controlled by the Russian government - Russian Helicopters and Rosneft, with each Russian business owning a 30% stake in the venture. Russian Helicopters, a subsidiary of Rostec, mainly manufactures heavy helicopters for the Russian military, and Rosneft is a Russian energy company.
Novikombank is the core financial institution for Rostec, as it is a subsidiary. In addition, Novikombank assists in various fundraising activities for its parent and subsidiaries, issuing bonds and stock shares. The participation of Western investors is unknown, but one is inclined to speculate that wealthy investors, hungry for returns on stale capital, have significant investments in these enterprises, thereby helping to fund the Russian military-industrial complex efforts.
Western financial firms are still promoting investments in Russia, despite sanctions and the resultant uncertainty after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For example, in early March 2022, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, JPMorgan Chase strategists promoted the bonds of Russian companies with significant international operations as an investment strategy. In addition, western investors can still trade in the bonds of Russian companies that are not on the sanction list and have dollar bonds.
Money has no flag, and the picture of Western support for the Russian military is unknown and likely unknowable. Regardless, the situation is analogous to buying one’s murder weapon. Western sanctions will further tighten the pipeline of goods and technology and make it much more difficult for the Russians to garner technological imports necessary to make truly advanced weapon systems comparable to American standbys. That development presages further movement of alignment of Russia with China, if only for technical goods. Knowing China’s stomach for strengthening a historical rival requires a crystal ball and may only be a function of its desire to hobble the United States.
Hacktivism, or digital means to obtain data for political means, has changed the arc of political discourse and governmental power. Often presented as digital vigilantes and watchdogs serving progressive causes, these individuals and groups have much more nuanced agendas, including acting as self-appointed military and law enforcement organizations. Governments cannot affect hacktivists other than by legal threats, so they represent a wild card. Regardless, hacktivism is here to stay.
Hacktivism is computer hacking (as by infiltration and disruption of a network or website) done to further the goals of political or social activism. These digital vigilantes target large corporations, religious organizations, terrorists, drug dealers, and pedophiles. Government-sponsored cyberwar activities are entirely different.
Hacktivism is necessarily asymmetric. Hacktivist organizations are lone wolves, individuals, or small groups of loosely-aligned people collaborating on a common goal. These efforts are digital judo, where the opponent's strengths become their weaknesses. Large organizations require networks to connect users. The larger the organization, the more the users and the larger the digital infrastructure. However, the servers themselves are weak, and every virtual user, such as sales, operations, department, and employee, adds more weaknesses.
Hacktivism is a relatively new phenomenon dating from the 1980s. As hacktivism is a unique and evolving phenomenon, people struggle to define it and attempt to break it into discreet categories. These ‘splitters’ attempt to segregate strategies but the finiteness of this obscure understanding and clarity. ‘Lumpers’ tend to try to lump groups into broad categories and can blur deeper understanding. Intermediate approaches to hacktivism may be a better strategy.
Hacktivists can be civil disobedients with lofty and progressive motives. Depending on ones’ ideological viewpoint, their actions might be free speech acts founded on sincere political commitments. This gloss makes hacktivism a protest, like civil disobedience, in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. This scenario pits the noble revolutionary or crusading reporter against the power of a repressive state and seems positive, but obscures nuance.
Hacktivism and Whistle Blowing
Hacktivists can have an outsized effect on political discourse and may help check government overreach. A controversial example is the case of Edward Snowden, a now-exiled American computer specialist, and former CIA employee and National Security contractor. He leaked classified details of the top-secret United States and British government mass surveillance programs to the press. Snowden resides in Russia under political asylum and is a fugitive from American justice authorities. The United States charged him with espionage and theft of government property.
Chelsea Manning is another whistleblower case intersecting Wikileaks. In 2010 authorities arrested Chelsea Manning for disclosing information to Wikileaks, then published by The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel. In 2013 the court convicted Manning of 17 of the 22 charges but acquitted her of ‘aiding the enemy.’ President Barack Obama commuted all but four months of her sentence at the end of her term resulting in freedom in 2017.
Hacktivists as Law Enforcement and Quasi-Military Organizations
Hacktivists can be self-appointed law enforcement, paramilitary organizations, and citizen-militias. The Anonymous hacktivist collective has been bombarding Russia with cyber-attacks since declaring ‘cyber war’ on President Vladimir Putin in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. For example, anonymous hacktivists interrupted Russian television programming with a video clip with images of bombs exploding in Ukraine and soldiers talking about the horrors of the war. Other hacktivists temporarily disrupted the websites of the Moscow stock exchange, Russia’s federal security agency, and the country’s largest bank Sberbank. Anonymous also hacked darknet websites dedicated to pedophilia and publicized the user names of the sites.
A potential risk to these activities in the Ukraine conflict is a Russian interpretation of the hacktivist acts as sponsored by the United States government, a scenario the government has likely accounted for and developed contingencies to address. Whether the United States government is behind such activities is unknown, but certainly, cyberwarfare has been a significant amount of the research budget of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It is certainly plausible the United States government funds or otherwise assists some of these efforts.
One person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist and such is true in hacktivism. The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) is a group of computer hackers who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It initially emerged in April 2011 during the rise of anti-regime protests in Syria. The SEA disrupted the website of the Washington Post in 2013 and hacked social media accounts and websites associated with National Public Radio (NPR), the Associated Press (AP), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Al-Jazeera, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Hacktivists Attacking Bigotry
Hacktivists have also targeted white nationalists. For brief periods Hacktivists shut down Gab, a social network catering to white nationalists and other right-wing extremists. Distributed Denial of Secrets publicized information on the Oath Keepers, a Christian nationalist revolutionary group. That information included about 5 gigabytes of emails, chat logs, members and donor lists, and other files from the Oath Keeper servers.
These hacktivist attacks on Christian Nationalist groups date back to 2012 when Anonymous declared ‘Operation Blitzkrieg’ against neo-Nazi and other hate groups and caused havoc, including website disruptions and releases of the supporter’s personal information. In 2021 Anonymous pilfered and leaked data held by Epik, a website hosting firm popular with far-right organizations like the Proud Boys. The leak included 150 gigabytes of data from years of online activities from far-right groups.
Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, Anonymous focused its efforts on the Minneapolis Police Department. It used distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack to disable the department’s website. A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the regular traffic of a targeted server, service, or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic. Additionally, to further condemn police brutality, Anonymous crashed more police department sites around the country and defaced other networks.
When Liberals Collided with Hacktivism
One of the areas where ideologies collide with hacktivism is when the hacktivist action results in damage to a nominally liberal figure. The most famous is when Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, leaked a collection of emails between then-candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager. WikiLeaks is a whistle-blowing organization. As the name indicates, its preferred hacktivism attack type is leaks, and it has been a hosting domain of leaked documents since its launch in 2006. Most likely, a group of Russian hackers whose objective was to tilt the election in Donald Trump's favor provided the data to Wikileaks. The material affected media coverage of the Clinton campaign, with many blaming her loss mainly on the incident. The Department of Justice ultimately indicted 12 Russian hackers for the email hacks.
The United States government uses the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which initially targeted Mafia groups and anti-terrorism anti-treason statutes to suppress hacktivism. This mechanism is the primary check on the activities of these organizations. Defensive measures such as security also help passively, but the expertise of the hackers in these organizations is impressive and proven by the empirical results.
Dangers of vigilantism are inherent in their structures, and hacktivism is no exception. The small sizes combined with fervent political convictions can result in extremism. Unfortunately, this tendency is relatively unchecked and indeed not governed by a democratic process. On the other hand, the United States has a long history of whistleblowers and truth-tellers keeping power in check, and they often seem to provide beneficial results. Whether one agrees with these organizations, they appear here to stay.
Harry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio is a member of a group of social media actors who exploit and profit from their criminal and near-criminal conduct. Formerly a petty thief and perpetual underachiever, Tarrio became a co-founder of a white nationalist group called the Proud Boys. The FBI arrested Tarrio in Miami and charged him crimes related to the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol. Tarrio, a serial felon, has flipped before, and the United States Department of Justice will undoubtedly pressure him to flip again, provided he has meaningful information.
Tarrio, of Cuban descent, grew up in a dominantly Cuban area of Miami and is reasonably well-educated, with an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami. That sounds like an excellent launch to a middle-class lifestyle, but there is a much darker side to Tarrio, as he engaged in sequential criminal behavior descending toward his current situation.
Miami-Dade County successfully prosecuted Tarrio in 2004, when he was 20, on grand theft and dealing in stolen property for stealing a $55,000 motorcycle. The judge sentenced Tarrio to three years' probation, including community service and payment of restitution. Unfortunately, diversion and rehabilitation are not the forte of the American criminal justice system. In this case, it appears the system washed their hands of Tarrio, and unfortunately, the slap on Tarrio’s wrist failed to divert his maladaptive behavior.
Tarrio seems to have buckled down and graduated in 2009 graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in business. It is unlikely the University of Miami will ever feature him on their distinguished alumni lists. Tarrio represents he was District Manager of Nextel from 2003 to 2006. Tarrio’s LinkedIn profile says that he has been Chief Executive Officer at Spie Surveillance and Automation Technologies since that time.
The company’s rustic website claims it provides automated security system services. Given its amateurish presentation, one has trouble believing Tarrio generated much revenue via this avenue. Tarrio is the registered agent for several corporate entities in Florida, including Spie Security LLC, Fund the West LLC, Proudboys LLC, and Warboys LLC.
The FBI arrested Tarrio in 2013 and charged him with misbranding medical devices and possession of, conspiracy to sell, and transferring stolen goods. Tarrio and two other men re-labeled and sold diabetes test kits. Tarrio pleaded guilty and served 16 months in federal prison. The government cut his sentence almost in half because of his ‘substantial assistance in the prosecution of others.’ In other words, Tarrio flipped on his co-conspirators to garner a reduced sentence. Tarrio worked undercover for investigators after his arrest to earn the reduced sentence.
Despite his felony record, Tarrio ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 2020 in Florida's 27th congressional district and withdrew. He also obtained $15,000 in paycheck protection program loans in 2021.
Tarrio created a special chapter of the Proud Boys known as the Ministry of Self Defense. VICE Media co-founder Gavin McInnes founded the Proud Boys in 2016. The Proud Boys are a males-only group of self-described ‘Western chauvinists.’ Proud Boys members appeared conjointly with other extremist hate groups, including at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In February 2021, the Canadian government designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity, citing the role the group played in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Members of the group espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups.
Tarrio’s presentation, like the rest of the Proud Boys, is macho and militaristic. Tarrio’s branding includes a baseball cap, wraparound shades, and paramilitary gear. Tarrio is slight of build, bald, and has a potbelly, so underneath the costume, he is anything but imposing, like many of his overweight colleagues in white nationalist movements.
Two days before a mob of white trash stormed the United States Capitol Building in January 2021, Metropolitan Police in Washington, D.C. arrested Tarrio for a December 2020 incident in which he burned a Black Lives Matter flag, stolen from a historic Black church. Tarrio admitted to burning the flag, torn down from Asbury United Methodist, a misdemeanor crime. Prosecutors also charged Tarrio charged with weapons violations for possessing high-capacity firearm magazines. Tarrio publicly admitted he burned the flag, saying, ‘I didn’t do it out of hate ... I did it out of love.’ Tarrio, in this statement, either appears to be delusional or an inveterate liar, but the combination of the two traits is likely.
The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church filed on Tarrio and the Proud Boys for stealing a Black Lives Matter sign, identifying the act as a hate crime in a related civil suit. Regardless of a prison sentence, one might surmise that should the plaintiff prevail and get a damage claim; they will hobble both Tarrio and the Proud Boys in any future endeavors.
The Department of Justice indicted Tarrio on conspiracy and other charges related to the January 6, 2021 insurrection, and the FBI arrested Tarrio on March 8, 2022. In addition, the DOJ named him in a superseding formal indictment in the District of Columbia, including five previously charged defendants.
Tarrio and his co-defendants, all of whom were leaders or members of the Ministry of Self Defense, conspired to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote. The formal accusation says the defendants directed, mobilized, and led crowd members onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol, leading to dismantling of metal barricades, destruction of property, and assaults on law enforcement.
American society is dissonant in its reward and punishment systems. The nation's laws prohibit many antisocial and criminal behaviors, while much of its economic system arguably rewards such endeavors. A media system now dominated by social media and Infotainment is hungry for clicks and views and viewers and followers and reward inflammatory conduct with money. The best provocateurs such as Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson, and Mark Levin skate toward the edge of legality but remain relatively invulnerable from criminal prosecution and enrich themselves in the process.
The second tier of such folks, such as Alex Jones of Infowars and alt-right leader Richard Spencer get quite a bit closer to peril and, through their lack of insight and intelligence, gather gobs of civil judgments but stay out of prison through guile and luck.
The tertiary set of actors lacks the intelligence or self-control to manage their careers in the Hate-industrial complex and seem to run afoul of the law and face lengthy times alone in prison to reflect on their misdeeds. White nationalists cleverly insulate leaders from actual criminal acts by establishing cells and ‘leaderless resistance.’ Actors such as Tarrio and Elmer ‘Stewart’ Rhodes forgot this page from that playbook. Barring the reelection of Donald Trump in 2024, convictions in these cases send these guys to prison for a long time.
The consequences of the Trump presidency continue to reverberate through society. The reckoning with the results of the confluence of the awakening of racism among white Americans, the realities of the post-Caucasian United States, stagnant real incomes, and economic stagnation have yet to come.
The unfortunate reality is that most Americans face these brutal realities yet seem unable to talk about how to fix them. A corporate social and conventional media system that harvests the profits from the hate it fosters is unlikely to change until that becomes unprofitable. Social media systems gear algorithms designed to feed extremist views to audiences already inclined to consume them to help sell more advertisement revenue in the name of ‘shareholder value.’ These algorithms create an echo chamber of editorializing often absent facts that reinforces but does not challenge such views.
Tarrio seems more a pathetic and maladjusted person inclined to petty thievery than a revolutionary figure. Despite his claims of Afro-Latin ancestry and declaiming racist viewpoints, he is a leader of a white nationalist group that is all-male, proudly misogynistic, and racist, so by default, despite his statements, he is a white nationalist. He is also a serial convicted felon and looking at a long stretch in federal prison.
The DOJ is undoubtedly looking to flip Tarrio once again. They know his psychology and have flipped him before. Tarrio claimed indigence in his initial hearing, and the court appointed a public defender to represent him and absent some right-wing benefactor’s funding for a private attorney; Tarrio will get the defense he pays for. The DOJ will deal with Tarrio if he has meaningful information. Should Tarrio flip, the next one up the food chain could be more interesting.
The Chicago Cubs had a nice run and won a World Series in 2016, and their ownership appears to have taken a page out of the Chicago professional franchise owners’ playbook. Chicago Cubs fans hoping for a winning team better be young, as it appears it will be a long time until the next good Cubs team.
Chicago has four professional sports franchises: the Cubs and White Sox in baseball, the Bulls in basketball, the Bears in football, and the Black Hawks in hockey. In addition, Chicago is the third-largest media market and has a considerable population of affluent, loyal, and arguably masochistic fans. Unfortunately for Chicago sports fans, Chicago franchise owners appear to have developed a template for operations that include occasionally building a good team, reducing costs, and harvesting the profits for decades.
These franchises have a lot in common:
Jerry Reinsdorf, an 86-year-old worth $1.7 billion, is the public face of ownership of the Chicago Bulls. The Chicago Bulls, founded in 1966, won an NBA championship was 1998, giving them a 23-year drought. The Bulls are the fourth most valuable NBA team at about $3.7 billion.
The Chicago White Sox, also purchased by Reinsdorf in 1981, won the World Series in 2005, so now they’re going on a 17-year drought. The White Sox had gone 88 years without a championship, as they last won a title in 1906. The White Sox franchise is worth about $1.7 billion. Given the relative disparity in value between the Cubs and White Sox combined with Reinsdorf’ s advanced age, one might suspect the White Sox are next in line for investments and attendant titles.
The Chicago Bears had a dream team in 1985 that won the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Bears have now gone 37-years without a Super Bowl win. The Bears had gone 22 years as their previous league championship was in 1963. As outlined in an earlier investigation, the McCaskey family owns the Chicago Bears, but that will almost certainly change soon,
The Chicago Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup in 2015, winning three championships between 2010 and 2015. Their most recent title prior had been 1961, 49 years prior. The Wirtz family owns the Chicago Black Hawks, and they now have a net worth of $4.4 billion. The Chicago Blackhawks are the fourth-highest valued NHL franchise at $1.4 billion.
The Cubs won the World Series in 2016, after having gone 108 years without a championship team. The Rickets family bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009 and have a net worth of $4.5 billion. Ricketts bought 95% of the Cubs from the Chicago Tribune for $900 million and sold part ownership in 2014 to raise $150 million to help fund renovations to Wrigley Field.
Originally priced at $550 million, the investments are at least 100% over budget. Don’t cry a river for the Ricketts family as the Chicago Cubs are now worth about $3.4 billion, making them the fourth most valuable team in major league baseball. The Cubs trimmed their payroll to about $98 million for 2022 from about $144 million in 2021, a reduction of $46 million. Their payroll costs now rank 18th in a 30-team league.
The Ricketts family runs a real estate investment firm called Hickory Street Capital. They used this organization to develop a sports-industrial destination nested around Wrigley field. This development includes 93,000 square feet of office space, 85,100 square feet of retail space, a 173-room Hotel Zachary adjacent to the area, and an open-air entertainment plaza. These ancillary investments allow the Ricketts family to charge their organization for office leases and harvest the spin-off party culture around Wrigley Field.
Profit considerations have already determined the future of the Chicago Cubs. The Ricketts family purchased a moribund franchise from the Chicago Tribune in a fire sale at a bargain cost, then moved strategically to build infrastructure in and around the stadium while bringing the franchise back to winning status.
In the process, their project has been highly successful. The franchise value increase alone has yielded huge returns. Regardless Chicago Cubs officials paint a bleaker picture of operating losses. The Ricketts family does not have to open their books to the public, so these statements are open to question. Empirical evidence suggests that any narrative implying losses is erroneous.
The Ricketts family benefits from the losing money narrative in many ways. It allows them to maintain selling costs of tickets and concessions and reduce payroll investments.
Borrowing from the timeworn playbook, the Chicago Cubs organization will maintain a manager whose job appears to be more a media punching bag for poor performance than actual managing. Instead, marketing will likely combine nostalgia for past great teams and players with hopes for the future.
Future marketing messaging will glorify hopes for young arms and youthful bats combined with cheap aging castoff veterans. One can expect nostalgic banners of past Cub greats pasted all over Wrigley Field combined with hopes about the next title. Such might occur, but it will happen without attendant investments in payroll.
Regardless the Ricketts family fortune will continue to grow because of their canny business practices. But anyone who confuses franchise ownership in Chicago to commitment to winning needs a reality pill.
2/27/2022 0 Comments
The most dangerous person in the United States is Steve Bannon, an unabashed international revolutionary who aims to upset world economies and change government structure and purpose. Bannon has an essential populist appeal with a sloppy appearance and Midwestern demeanor. Bannon is a seminal figure in the ongoing American revolution.
Bannon is a combined entertainer, political provocateur, and clickbait mercenary. In writing and oratory skills, he is a poor man’s Pat Buchanan, translated to a later time with similar messages. Bannon is disheveled, obese, given to a grumpy, irrational emotionality.
Bannon was born in Virginia in 1953 of Irish and Germanic ancestry. Bannon’s father worked as a middle manager and a telephone lineman while his mother was a stay-at-home spouse. His parents were strict Christians. He studied urban planning at Virginia Tech and then served in the United States Navy for seven years as a second lieutenant. Bannon later got his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Bannon’s later biography is complex:
Tribal media, formally known as Infotainment, in its liberal form, presents Bannon as irrational, racist, nefarious, narcissistic, and a thought leader of an international Caucasian movement intended to unite white people across the globe. Infotainment loves to present Bannon’s reversals, particularly his two felony indictments. Bannon is no Mr. Nice Guy for certain.
Infotainment is by nature inclined to present parties in opposite roles as binary, one very good and the other villainous. While Bannon is difficult to like, he’s much more nuanced, complex, and intelligent than the alcoholic, obese, racist figure some tribal media depict. Bannon is the leader of a revolution and makes no bones about it.
Bannon aims to ‘deconstruct the administrative state.’ Understanding that word and Bannon’s use of it becomes critical to unraveling his philosophy. Clifford Waldo was an American political scientist who developed the phrase and intended it to mean Waldo argues the bureaucracies in democratic governments. professional and political bureaucracies and its goal is service to the public, not to be particularly efficient.
Bannon’s speeches however belie a unique and far different definition of the administrative state. Bannon defines the administrative state as an international conspiracy by wealthy liberal elites to manage sovereign governments. According to Bannon, during the 2008 financial crisis, the international liberal elites did what Stalin and Hitler could not do, and that was to unite the world into one, shadowy world government. Bannon refers to these liberal billionaires as the Party of Davos.
Bannon says the resultant debt load undertaken by governments was the socialization of the debts of the Party of Davos. Bannon theorizes these corrupt and incompetent global elites manipulate governments to maximize shareholder value to get even more money. The implementation of shareholder value mantras contributed to unfair trade agreements resulting in the deindustrialization of the United States.
According to Bannon, these international wealthy liberal elites suck the vitality of economies and suppress worker wages. Bannon correlates the rise of Chinese manufacturing with lower wages and the opioid crisis in the United States. The correlation is causation argument of course remains robust in analyzing that claim.
Bannon’s formal speeches tend to embrace race and ethnicity and unite working-class Americans. Bannon’s revolution envisions a renaissance of American manufacturing with attendant increases in wages for the American working class.
Woven throughout Bannon’s messages are elements of wishes to withdraw from international affairs. Bannon discusses the waste of money and lives in the United States wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bannon weaves populist messages throughout his presentations. In this instance, he laments the wasted contributions of the working class in those futile efforts.
Bannon’s recommendations, largely implemented during the Trump administration, include immigration controls to regain American sovereignty from the unseen global governance by the wealthy. Bannon maintains immigration undermines the wages of working-class Americans and such controls are explicitly are not racist as they protect the jobs and wages of Latin American workers in the southwest United States.
Contrary to his representations in formal addresses, Bannon’s statements in informal forums reveal a man who has disdain for the LBGTQ community. Erik Prince, a right-wing political personality and professional mercenary, joined Bannon on his podcast on February 23, 2022, where they praised Vladimir Putting for repressing the LGBTQ population in Russia.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is an organization founded in 1913, intending to ‘stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.’ The ADL indicated they were not aware of any antisemitic statements made by Bannon. Regardless, Bannon promotes conspiracy theories about George Soros, a liberal billionaire activist who is also Jewish. Soros figures in antisemitic circles as the leader of an international Jewish conspiracy so such insinuations are antisemitic dog-whistling.
Robert Mercer, a billionaire, and his family are the big money behind Breitbart, a right-wing extremist Internet platform. Mercer is a Christian conservative, gun enthusiast, a climate change denier, religious, small-government proponent, who aligns with Bannon’s goals. During Bannon’s tenure at Breitbart, the Infotainment publication published an enormous number of Islamophobic articles. The examination of Breitbart reveals editorial liberties with the truth laced with dog-whistling homophobia and racism.
After leaving the White House, Bannon opposed the Republican Party establishment and supported insurgent candidates in Republican primary elections. He also supports many national populist conservative political movements around the world, including creating a network of far-right groups in Europe.
Like Godzilla, a fictive movie villain who is an enormous, destructive, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation, Bannon seems to thrive on toxicity. Progressives revile him but he remains relevant, like his fellow right-wing shock jocks Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity if only through his foulness. But more than that, Bannon has activist philosophy which his fellow peddlers of hatred lack. He has combined being against progressive initiatives and proposes revolution.
At age 68 and exhibiting no outward signs of good health and fitness, one might surmise has a finite limit on his days of relevance. Even so, it doesn’t take a lot of vitality to talk on podcasts or make speeches at favorable venues. And it’s clear while Bannon’s logic appears sound at first blush, the connections required to construe the same outcome are unlikely. The solutions to the grievances Bannon inflame, however, take time and good governance to resolve. The United States doesn’t appear to have a lot of either.
Michael Donnelly investigates societal concerns with an untribal approach - to limit the discussion to the facts derived from primary sources so the reader can make more informed decisions.