Monday, September 21, 2020

Irrational Actors


  I've had to revisit the battlefield of masks and social-distancing vs civil-liberties in America again. 
I wear masks for practical medical reasons. 
I also understand that the pandemic response is being manipulated by financial/power elites to keep pawns from effectively taking their own side in the current elite power struggle. 

  This elite power struggle is one fundamental cause of the partisan divide in American society. 
These divides happen in history when essential resources become scarcer.
The threats are not as they are presented in the media. Pawns (our status) are being manipulated to support one or another elite oligarchic faction. 
Pawns are not supposed to take the side of "other" pawns, which would disrupt the power structure. 
Pawns provide meat, blood and work.

  We might call the battling elite factions "nationalists" and "globalists". All terms are flawed and inaccurate, but these names will do.
The Military-Industrial-Deep-State-Complex is so overarching, that it's elimination is not part of the power struggle; out of the question.
Which faction will control the narrative is the issue, globalists or nationalists.

  There is really not enough swag for all of the elites and swag is projected to decrease and decrease and decrease, both domestic swag, and especially swag from the periphery of empire, since the projected "unipolar world" is clearly not feasible, and has been evidently infeasible for at least a decade. Unipolarity both has momentum, and is crumbling at all the edges.

  The push to accelerate the "new world order" project of global financial/military empire, jumped a level as the Soviet Union began collapsing in the late 1980s. Unipolar Empire was seen as a fait-accomplis. 
Progression to absolute "unipolar power" was disrupted by the resurgence of both China and Russia,
Multiple failures of the imperial plans of conquest were clear by 2010. Obama (factotum) could not do what Bush II (factotum) could not do.
General Wesley Clark famously explained the "7 countries in 5 years" plans that the Pentagon already had ready to go as a working plan at the time of 9/11/01.

  A faction in the military-"security" complex arm of the empire has been seeing this aggressive agenda perform badly for those 19 years.
This hidden faction might be called "rationalists", since they are not altruistic or compassionate, but foresee a greater collapse of imperial power if there is not accommodation for the reality of a multipolar world. 
Zbigniew Brzezinski, essentially the author of unipolarity, gave up on it well over a decade ago: file:///C:/Users/John.MEADOWS/Downloads/697895.pdf 

  The cooperation of the pawns-at-home is necessary for the empire, which "America" has become, but the wholehearted participation of the top 10% is really necessary. They are the technocrats, specialists, "experts", managers, factota and "compliance officers".
  That is what is currently contested. The "American" economy and national budget have been funded, at least 40%, by external inputs from the "ROW" (rest of world), which are expected to fall off rapidly, and even reverse course in the next presidential term. That's a poisoned-chalice for the next president. The ROW will not keep buying every dollar printed, as the structure of global trade/finance changes dramatically.
  "Reversing flow" means increased American export of goods/services, as dollars "come back to America", and Chinese goods don't. 
That means more dollars-in-circulation and less cheap stuff at Wal-Mart, which means massive consumer price inflation. 
"Stagflation" can be dealt with by "basic income" (increase the dole), job programs and minimum wage increases. Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan had to do stuff after the last devaluation of the dollar, when Nixon defaulted on the gold standard in 1971. 
It's going to be worse. There will have to be some new default on the dollar. In 1971 (after DeGaulle sent a French destroyer to New York to get France's gold) Nixon quite exchanging foreign-held  dollars for US gold, due to dollars/gold bleeding out through external expenditures in Indochina, during the Vietnam war. This was determined to be the inevitable case in around 1967 by Michael Hudson.

  This is a complex, overarching view of "the western empire", and the current inflection point in world-history. 
From this vantage, it is easier to see the factions whose fear is most focused upon viral pandemic, and whose fear is most focused upon tyranny coming home to roost. 

Jacobin, last year, had this good "left-nationalist" (if I may) read of the truism that "you can't have democracy at home and empire abroad". 
Bernie Sanders is presented as basically an honest left-nationalist (2019) who said in 2016, "Henry Kissinger is no friend of mine", a profoundly strong political statement against imperialism.

  There is desperation in the waning left-imperialist (unipolar world) elite faction, actual desperation. Flailing, extreme moves reflect desperation, not strength. Power-elite desperation is extremely dangerous to life forms. 
The real risk is that Yemen comes to Oregon and New York. The imperial policies ignored in the heartland of empire can be used against the heartland of empire in elite desperation. History shows this.

  Right-nationalists are acutely aware of this threat being positioned by left globalists, and brought up to speed by riots that destroy national production infrastructure ("American businesses"). The left-globalists have been in power since at least Bush I (imperialist-deep-state), and it has been an unbroken succession until Trump-the-disruptor, whose backers remain hidden from public view, for the most part. He does appear protected. He is alive, unlike John Kennedy, who was inadequately protected. 
(Nixon was acutely aware of what happened to Kennedy, and would not directly do business with the CIA. Nixon was "peacefully removed". Nixon followed Kissenger's counsel, at any rate.)

  Texas Tribune, which I review daily for Texas coronavirus details, has this graph, emblematic of the falling percent positive rate of SARS-CoV-2 tests, falling hospitalizations, falling case numbers and falling deaths since late July. All are now at June levels and falling steadily, despite ongoing relaxation of building capacity restrictions.

  The week before last, 3 weeks into the semester, a snapshot of UT students showed 8% SARS-CoV-2 positivity rate on fairly random sampling, presumably asymptomatic, or minimally symptomatic students, wanting football tickets. 
  Approximately 3,000 UT-Austin students who purchased football season tickets were required to take COVID-19 tests Friday and test negative before they could attend the game. The same precautions, however, were not required of the thousands of other fans.
  Among the 1,198 students who got tested, 1,103 were negative and 95 were positive, John Bianco, a spokesperson for the university's athletic department, said in an email.

  This means novel-coronavirus is just going through the young adult population rapidly and without event, like an ordinary coronavirus.
There is not an attempt in Texas to curtail that process.  
  Without fanfare, Governor Abbot has followed a policy of linking public isolation measures and masking to hospital acuity, the limiting factor. This keeps the spread of virus through non-nursing-home populations at the maximum that will not overload hospitals. 
Nursing homes and hospital inpatients have been in a specially-isolated category of high-vulnerability. 
This managed-encouragement-of-herd-immunity was publicized with those words, but has been really consistent since early May, when it was adopted with politically-approved words. 
This article presents this policy objective as new. It's not new.
Analysis: Texas reopenings tied more to COVID-19 severity than to spread
Leaving behind their focus on the spread of the coronavirus, Texas leaders now say hospitalizations will guide their decisions on how to regulate social distancing at businesses and cultural centers.

  There have been 2 competing theoretical models of the spread of novel coronavirus, particularly US spread, which is different from countries outside of North America, due to the fact that all 4 previously existing strains of coronavirus were already endemic in the US/North-America, unlike any other region in the world, where 1-3 strains were endemic.
  The two theories are:
1) This is a new virus. Nobody is immune. Herd immunity will be reached at 70-80% population infection.
2) This is a variant of a family of viruses, broadly endemic in the US, to which family-immunity exists at a significantly high level in many segments of the population, as well as innate-immunity in almost all who are under 30 (means stopping the virus in nasopharynx , before it spreads to lungs and bloodstream). Herd immunity will be reached somewhere between 20-25% population infection rate.

  It should be clear to expert analysts by now that the zero-immunity model has been grossly inaccurate, overestimating deaths by a factor of 3-4 times, which is most in keeping with the second model. I believe (based on available information) that this modeling divergence has been clear at the levels of US decision makers since late June, and especially clear since late July. 
Political positions already staked-out, cannot be changed for political reasons, but may be pushed less hard (Tony Fauci is a case in point).

  We are all flying with imperfect data, but the balance of data is tremendously clearer than it was in spring. One must pick a model upon which to act. Some people have much more pressure to take actions, while facing operational risk, than to others. 
(As little as I think of the moral integrity and political stances of Greg Abbot, I must openly admire his rationality in making political decisions this year. Allowing the strip clubs to re-open recently as "restaurants" galls me.)

  It is almost impossible for most people to hold 2 opposing views as equally valid in their minds. It takes way too much processing capacity. 
It locks-up the computer. It creates painful "cognitive dissonance".
As a protection against cognitive-dissonance, people "split the alternatives", once they have chosen-a-side. All that was difficult, which argued against the side they chose, for political/social or rational reasons, becomes minimized, disparaged, to comfort their mind, and allow their operational capacity to be applied to daily problems, as usual.

  There is a wide range of cognitive styles inherent in any gene-pool of any society. A small percentage of outliers benefit the gene pool in times of business-not-usual, by considering "contrarian" or "avant-garde" or "independent" analysis of available information about trends, changes, constraints and "reality". (This is a population-genetics model. Science is "not-completely-real", but that's an issue regarding "useful models".)

  Anthropologists and historians take an approach which does not necessitate being on a side, but looks at the flows, currents and turbulence of human relationships with other humans and the changing environment, especially as the environment is more, then less able to support human population's growth. That kind of viewpoint seems easy for me, partly because I personally serve all strata of society, and I have that 5% kind-of mind that is happy enough to hold concepts in abeyance, while forgetting names of people and things. 
(I've got a visual-flows-oriented kind of brain, and empathy. I have apparently always had these characteristics, according to mom, and as grandparents used to inform me.) 
We all have to pick-what's-better daily, but I was always mostly motivated by, "how's that thing work?".

  Using the rational-actor political model, the camps of pawns are pushed to be more afraid of viral-pandemic, or loss-of-autonomy, through global-imperialism. 
Each rational actor discounts the position of the other, due to splitting-of-alternatives, to the point of seeing the other as irrational, incomprehensible, or "bad".

  Elite players do not need to believe what they propound. 
They are fighting battles in a power-struggle. They use the weapons at hand. 
For some, it may be easier to believe what they say, but many lie without any discomfort or cognitive dissonance at all. 
(When Karl Rove infamously bragged about "creating reality", he flashed that hand.)
  There are different paths to the talent of pathological-lying, though some are apparently born with it.
Some operators, managers and factota for the elites are not "live-players", but merely taking orders. 
They will usually "believe" what makes their jobs easiest. 
The live-players who operate them know that and try to make their work easier for them with comforting lies.
It can be hard to tell live players from factota in the short term. Some US presidents have been factota. 
(I think one Bush was a live player, an the other was a factotum, for instance.)

  I hope this is useful. It may or may not be useful. 
All players are "rational" in this model. There are myriad "understandings" , which are all incomplete models. Some models serve the user, and other models serve the upper-level "live-players" to manipulate the model-user. 
The longer any model is in operation, the more information will be available to assess it's utility to any class of users. 

Caitlin Johnstone: 
  If you understand that America has a two-headed one-party system designed to shrink the spectrum of acceptable debate down to arguments about how oligarchic agendas should be facilitated rather than if they should, what you see is a single entity threatening to take away your civil liberties if you don’t support it. A single establishment threatening to punch you with its right hand if you don’t let it punch you with its left.
  What is the correct response to such a situation? Is it to give the two-headed monster what it wants? Is it to give your energy to supporting the same establishment which is threatening to take away your civil rights?

Most people HATE cognitive dissonance.
Not everybody, though...
I think Buddha could sit with it.

Physicist: The Entire Universe Might Be a Neural Network

Rational Vegetable Gardener


  1. "hospital acuity"

    I can't parse that. Is acuity supposed to be capacity?

    1. Hospital acuity basically means demand for services within a hospital.
      It's much higher in the operating rooms, ICU, labor and delivery. It's not just number of beds filled by patients. I habitually use the term like everybody knows it.,according%20to%20raw%20patient%20numbers.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank You. I blogged it all in real-time as it happened.