Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Great Pause Week 28: Politicizing Pandemic


"Einstein observed that great powers do not act on the basis of facts only but manufacture the facts to serve their purposes."

 


Demonic forces feed on ignorance 
 — I Ching

Wengui Guo, who sometimes goes by Miles Kwok, is a mysterious, narcissistic, and some would say schizophrenic Chinese oligarch. His personal story reads more like Fred Trump than the real estate scion’s famous son, but there are elements Guo shares with the latter. His first fortune came when, barely 20, he put himself in the right place at the right time and started building city high rises on borrowed money. He soon learned that the better position in that proposition was to be the lender in pin-striped suit, not the borrower in hard hat. He formed a string of capital investment groups to tap into the largest cashflows of China’s great 20th Century expansion, legally and illegally. He had the good sense to get out before the anti-corruption reforms introduced by Xi Jinping caught up to him and he fled with his money to Hong Kong, New York, and the French Riviera. 

Guo’s New York apartment is a 9,000-square-foot residence along Central Park that he bought for $67.5 million in 2015. …Guo had picked his apartment for its location, its three sprawling balconies and the meticulously tiled floor in the entryway. He has the best apartment in London, he said; the biggest apartment in Hong Kong. His yacht is docked along the Hudson River. He is comfortable and, anyway, Guo likes to say that as a Buddhist, he wants for nothing. If it were down to his own needs alone, he would have kept his profile low. But he has a higher purpose. He is going to save China.

 — The New York Time

According to the Times and other sources, a former female employee alleges in an ongoing lawsuit that he repeatedly raped her, a charge he disputes. The woman says Guo lured her to the U.S. from China to work as his assistant and then kept her prisoner for three years, repeatedly assaulting and raping her. The suit says she escaped while in London and went to the Chinese embassy, where she filed a criminal complaint with Chinese authorities. China was unsuccessful in extradition because Guo claimed political persecution as an opponent of Xi.

“Utilizing his world-wide publicity, high profile, social media accounts, and seemingly endless financial means, Defendant Guo regularly uses his public platform and power to defame and harass his enemies,” says a defamation complaint filed by former Trump crime family confidant Sam Nunberg. Nunberg is among many unhappy former Guo associates who have sued the billionaire after he reneged on their deals and slandered them. 

But there are darker similarities between Guo and the Donald than rape, theft, and slander. It was on Guo’s yacht that the FBI arrested former campaign manager and White House political advisor Steve Bannon, holding a lit cigar and wearing a blue polo shirt with the collar turned up, on allegations Bannon siphoned “Build the Wall” donations into his private accounts. There is a separate FBI investigation, set in motion by the New York State Attorney General and the Securities, and Exchange Commission, into GTV Media Group, a company formed by Bannon and Guo. 

A YouTube video shows Wengui Guo putting his arm around the sunburned Bannon aboard the yacht as the former campaign chairman denounces the Chinese government and extols the alleged benefits of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. 

Let’s file all that away for a moment and turn to the recent backflip by the CDC over mask efficacy and a controversial paper recently making the rounds in the Alt-pandemic Bizarro world. 

Concerning the CDC, it is now apparent that the agency was hijacked months ago and perverted to serve as an agent of mass infection rather than internationally-respected sentinel of health protection. Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Reports were edited over the objections of their authors or withheld entirely, as with an issue describing the Covid susceptibility of youth. Last week CDC issued detailed guidance noting that the principal transmission mode was airborne droplets and recommending masks as potentially even more effective in arresting spread than a vaccine. This week the White House handlers yanked that guidance and POTUS went on the campaign trail railing against masks, distancing, and the idea that CoV-2 could infect anyone but the very elderly. “Young people have great immune systems,” he said, “amazing immune systems.”

As we have been saying in this space for several months, since at least the date the US Attorney General testified under oath before Congress that the White House had a plan to invalidate vote-by-mail ballots by finding loopholes in state law, this POTUS has had no intention of being limited to one term, or even two. Over and over again, he has spelled it out in off-the-cuff remarks that make his handlers wince.

(During a Sept. 23 news conference) “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that. I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster….We want to have — get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very trans- — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly; there’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it.”
(Sept. 23 Oval Office comments) “But in terms of time, we go to January 20th. But I think it’s better if you go before the election because I think this — this scam that the Democrats are pulling — it’s a scam — this scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4–4 situation is not a good situation, if you get that.”
(At a Sept. 13 rally) “The Democrats are trying to rig this election because that’s the only way they’re going to win.”
(At an Aug. 20 rally) “So this is just a way they’re trying to steal the election, and everybody knows that. Because the only way they’re going to win is by a rigged election.”
(At an Aug. 17 rally) “We are going to win four more years. And then after that, we’ll go for another four years because they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years.”
(At a Sept. 13 rally) “And 52 days from now we’re going to win Nevada, and we’re going to win four more years in the White House. And then after that, we’ll negotiate, right? Because we’re probably — based on the way we were treated — we are probably entitled to another four after that.”
(During a July 19 Fox News Sunday interview) “No. I have to see. Look you — I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes.’ I’m not going to say ‘no.’ And I didn’t last time, either.”
 (In a July 30 tweet) “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Mr. Trump wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

On September 14, an article popped up on Zenodo, a website for scientists and academics to upload their work before it has gone through any formal peer-review process. The paper was authored by four Chinese virologists, Yan Li-Meng, Kang Shu, Guan Jie, and Hu Shanchang, entitled, Unusual Features of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probable Synthetic Route. According to the researchers, 

“the origin of SARS-CoV-2 has remained mysterious and controversial. The natural origin theory, although widely accepted, lacks substantial support. The alternative theory that the virus may have come from a research laboratory is, however, strictly censored on peer-reviewed scientific journals. Nonetheless, SARS-CoV-2 shows biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a naturally occurring, zoonotic virus. In this report, we describe the genomic, structural, medical, and literature evidence, which, when considered together, strongly contradicts the natural origin theory.” 

Top virologists have examined the claims of Yan, et al, and found them wildly untethered to basic principles of immunology and genetics. In many cases their conclusions are so absurd as to be laughable. “It’s deeply speculative, and the scenarios proposed are not very believable,” said Alina Chan, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and MIT’s Broad Institute. Of course, none of that matters in the fact-free environment of Fox News, where one of POTUS’s most valued advisors, Tucker Carlson, welcomed the lead Chinese researcher to prime time and gave her not just any platform, but the most widely watched news channel in the United States. On a September 15 segment on Fox Business, host Lou Dobbs and the Hudson Institute’s Michael Pillsbury — an informal adviser to Trump on China — spent time praising Yan’s work. POTUS retweeted Dobbs’s tweet of the clip.

The fake news was also picked up by figures on the left, such as Andrew Kimbrell, founder of the Nader-supported International Center for Technology Assessment. Kimbrell announced

After considerable research, including a thorough review of the selected research materials and discussions with experts in the field, we have come to agree with the view that the virus causing COVID-19 did not evolve naturally but rather is the product of one of the high-security bio-medical laboratories in Wuhan, China. 
We believe that there is a preponderance of circumstantial and scientific evidence demonstrating that the ‘laboratory virus’ hypothesis is not only possible but probable. By contrast, recent refutation of the hypothesis that the virus originated at a Wuhan wet market and new findings that the virus has not been found in nature despite significant effort to do so, makes the view that the virus evolved naturally unlikely. 

But whom, exactly, was behind the misleading “research” of Yan, Kang, Guan and Hu? Richard Condit, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Florida, followed the breadcrumbs. They led him to the yacht of Wengui Guo, scented by the smoke of Bannon’s cigars and the coconut aroma of sunburn cream. The original article was published by Zenobo with the affiliations of its authors excised but the downloadable PDF reveals the paper was sponsored jointly by the Rule of Law Foundation, a 501(c)(3) educational charity founded by Guo, and the Rule of Law Society, a 501(c)(5) lobbying group with Steve Bannon as its chairman.


Behind Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani can be seen lead author Yan Kang, reflected in the mirror, and Steve Bannon

“This all plays into Bannon’s larger argument about China and the threat it poses to everybody on the planet,” said Michael Swaine, an expert on Chinese security issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “It just serves his interests.”

Rule of Law Foundation’s website says it is accepting tax-deductible donations to create a free society in China, but the organization’s exempt status was revoked by the IRS some years ago. 

All of this is of a piece with the politicization of the pandemic, the legalistic machinations to give POTUS a second term by limiting the vote to only those heedless enough of Covid to vote in person, and the triumph of mass hysteria over science (historically concomitant with pandemics but now weaponized by clickbait social media), but there is an even darker side.

As someone who has lost a number of childhood and college friends to the War in Indochina, the faked Gulf of Tonkin episode in August, 1964 left, for me, a lasting impression. It was more tangible, say, than reading about other causa belli in history classes — the Boston Tea Party, cross-border provocations against México and the annexation of California, the sinking of the USS Maine, the assassination of ArchDuke Ferdinand, the sinking of the Lusitania, or cross-border provocations against North Korea in 1950. Small wonder, then, that as an adult I immediately saw in modern events — the invasion of Grenada in 1983 or Panama in 1989, the 9/11 attack, the supposed nuclear weapons program in Iraq, the Sarin gas bombing in Syria, or the disinformation campaigns against Cuba, Venezuela, or Crimea and Eastern Ukraine merely ongoing pretexts for brazen wars of aggression.

 

After his regretful experience with the Manhattan Project, ending in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Albert Einstein observed that great powers do not act on the basis of facts only, but manufacture the facts to serve their purposes and to force their will upon smaller nations. The facts being manufactured by Breitbart, Fox, Dobbs, Carlson, Kimbrell, and the Pompeo State Department place the US on a war footing with China; they push a narcissistic president to respond forcibly to a purported Chinese bio-weapons attack that killed 200,000 Americans and wrecked the global economy. 

That new “super-duper” nuclear capability the president bragged about to Bob Woodward and in his UN General Assembly address this week is unlikely to have the first strike needed to destroy China’s missile launch ability, never mind two billion Chinese, since it appears by analysts to be merely a midgetization of the W76–2, a Trident 1 SLBM warhead modified to reduce its explosive power for more flexible tactical use. To retaliate for the dastardly “China Virus,” POTUS might more likely rely upon submarine-launched W88s and Minuteman III LGM-30s, ensuring his “standing tall” legacy within the party of Reagan and W. Faked science about a laboratory origin of CoV-2 provides a committed narcissist all the false pretext he needs to start World War III. To those in his inner circle, nothing says second term more than a shooting war.

This is where pandemic denialism, fueled by social media tribalism, spills over into a Near Term Extinction event. Since the presidential election may be foregone, the single most important action USAnians can take in November would be to vote out these 23 less-shielded crime family members and hope, simultaneously, his generals hide the football when the old man is on a tear.

Alaska: Dan Sullivan (2.2% victory margin in last election)
Arizona: Martha McSally 13.7%
Arkansas: Tom Cotton 17.0%
Colorado: Cory Gardner 1.9%
Georgia: David Perdue 7.7%
Georgia: Kelly Loeffler 13.8%
Idaho: Jim Risch 30.6%
Iowa: Joni Ernst 8.3%
Kansas: Pat Roberts 10.6%
Kentucky: Mitch McConnell 15.5%
Louisiana: Bill Cassidy 11.8%
Maine: Susan Collins 36.2%
Mississippi: Cindy Hyde-Smith 7.2%
Montana: Steve Daines 17.7%
Nebraska: Ben Sasse 32.9%
North Carolina: Thom Tillis 1.5%
Oklahoma: Jim Inhofe* 39.5%
South Carolina: Lindsey Graham 15.7%
South Dakota: Mike Rounds 20.9%
Tennessee: Bill Hagerty 
Texas: John Cornyn* 27.2%
West Virginia: Shelley Moore Capito 27.6%
Wyoming: Mike Enzi 54.8%

* In 2005 when the Senate passed a resolution 90–9 barring the use of “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” in CIA and military interrogations, these Senators voted in favor of torture as the official policy of the United States.

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