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The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols

Experts on a subject can and do make mistakes. However, they are far more right about their field of expertise than laymen. One would think this would be obvious. But it’s not. Someone who has spent decades studying their field gets challenged by a yahoo on Twitter who spent five minutes googling the subject. Given our crazed social media atmosphere, the yahoo often gets supporters, because, a yahoo’s opinion is just as valid as an expert, right?

Wrong. And if you disagree with that, then please, have your knee replacement surgery done by your buddy Joe who knows nothing about surgery, and not by a surgeon who has done hundreds of such surgeries. Let me know how it turns out.

Tom Nichols explores the delusion that every opinion is equally valid. They are not. Some say the earth is flat and will belligerently argue with those who say otherwise. Yet, the earth is not flat. The opinion of flat earthers should be ignored, and not treated as golly, maybe we should let them have their say too.

The problem here is that while we do live in a republic where everyone has an equal vote, that does not conflate to saying all opinions are equal and worthy of discussion. This leads to junk news, fake news, a Tower of Babel – and an uniformed electorate. That’s the real danger, an electorate that thinks it is deeply learned about many things but can’t find Venezuela on a map or thinks we live in a democracy, not a republic (assuming they even know what a republic is.)

Such willful ignorance can lead to our institutions being jacked by nativist populists or Silicon Valley technocrats who know what is best for us.

Nichols is a professor at the Naval War College, a major Never Trumper on Twitter (@radiofreetom), and does not suffer fools gladly.

Amazon:

As Tom Nichols shows in The Death of Expertise, this rejection of experts has occurred for many reasons, including the openness of the internet, the emergence of a customer satisfaction model in higher education, and the transformation of the news industry into a 24-hour entertainment machine. Paradoxically, the increasingly democratic dissemination of information, rather than producing an educated public, has instead created an army of ill-informed and angry citizens who denounce intellectual achievement.

Nichols has deeper concerns than the current rejection of expertise and learning, noting that when ordinary citizens believe that no one knows more than anyone else, democratic institutions themselves are in danger of falling either to populism or to technocracy-or in the worst case, a combination of both. The Death of Expertise is not only an exploration of a dangerous phenomenon but also a warning about the stability and survival of modern democracy in the Information Age.

The superseding indictment: Manafort and Gates are now road kill


Why did Ukraine pay Manafort and Gates so much – $75 million in total – and what did they do to earn the money. Where did the money come from, what banks were involved in laundering it, and who were the final recipients of the money?

The superseding indictment today against Manafort and Gates has 32 charges involving tax evasion, money laundering, bank fraud, failure to report, and more. These guys are toast. Manafort is 68 and could easily die in prison. Unless he cooperates.

MANAFORT and GATES acted as unregistered agents of a foreign government and foreign political parties. Specifically, they represented the Government of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine (Victor Yanukovych, who was President from 2010 to 2014), the Party of Regions (a Ukrainian political party led by Yanukovych), and the Opposition Bloc (a successor to the Party of Regions after Yanukovych fled to Russia).

MANAFORT and GATES generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work. From approximately 2006 through the present,MANAFORT and GATES engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities, while enjoying the use of the money. During the first part of the scheme between approximately 2006 and 2015, MANAFORT, with GATES’ assistance, failed to pay taxes on this income by disguising it as alleged “loans” from nominee offshore corporate entities and by making millions of dollars in unreported payments from foreign accounts to bank accounts they controlled and United States vendors. MANAFORT also used the offshore accounts to purchase United States real estate, and MANAFORT and GATES used the undisclosed income to make improvements to and refinance their United States properties.

Manafort was campaign manager for Trump from June to August 2016, while the second part of their scheme was happening. Gates was an aide to Manfort on the Trump campaign.

In the second part of the scheme, between approximately 2015 and at least January 2017, when the Ukraine income dwindled after Yanukovych fled to Russia, MANAFORT, with the assistance of GATES, extracted money from MANAFORT’s United States real estate by, among other things, using those properties as collateral to obtain loans from multiple financial institutions. MANAFORT and GATES fraudulently secured more than twenty million dollars in loans by falsely inflating MANAFORT’s and his company’s income and by failing to disclose existing debt in order to qualify for the loans.

We are into serious felonies here, for tax evasion and money laundering, as well stiff IRS penalties for back taxes. Further, this kind of tax evasion is easy enough to prove because the feds can get the bank records.

MANAFORT and GATES hid the existence and ownership of the foreign companies and bank accounts, falsely and repeatedly reporting to their tax preparers and to the United States that they had no foreign bank accounts

Ukraine:

In 2011, MANAFORT created DMP International, LLC (DMI) to engage in work for foreign clients, in particular political consulting, lobbying, and public relations for the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions, and members of the Party of Regions. DMI was a partnership solely owned by MANAFORT and his spouse. GATES worked for both DMP and DMI and served as MANAFORT’s right-hand man.

The Party of Regions was a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. Beginning in approximately 2006, it retained MANAFORT, through DMP and then DMI, to advance its interests in Ukraine, the United States, and elsewhere, including the election of its slate of candidates. In 2010, its candidate for President, Yanukovych, was elected President of Ukraine. In 2014, Yanukovych fled Ukraine for Russia in the wake of popular protests of widespread governmental corruption.

Tax evasion. The indictment lists all the entities and bank transfers. Manafort also transfered money to purchase real estate and did not pay taxes on it, and used sham loans to avoid paying taxes. Gates tranfered money to accounts he controlled and didn’t pay taxes. Both failed to report foreign accounts containing more than $10,000, as they are legally required to do, and lied about it on tax returns. They also inflated and falsified loan documents so they would get the loans.

They are both road kill now.

MANAFORT And GATES’ Wiring Money From Offshore Accounts Into The United States 14. In order to use the money in the offshore nominee accounts of the MANAFORT–GATES entities without paying taxes on it, MANAFORT and GATES caused millions of dollars in wire transfers from these accounts to be made for goods, services, and real estate. They did not report these transfers as income.

From 2008 to 2014, MANAFORT caused the following wires, totaling over $12,000,000, to be sent to the vendors listed below for personal items. MANAFORT did not pay taxes on this income, which was used to make the purchases.

Bernie Sanders seems evasive about Russia bots, influence

Sanders didn’t know early on that Russian bots were promoting his campaign? How very strange. Plenty of us Never Trumpers on Twitter did. And then he did nothing once he knew, apparently? (Except to blame Hillary???)

Bernie’s comments are evasive. Nothing is ever his fault apparently. And why oh why was Tad Devine the chief strategist for his campaign? Devine worked with Manafort in Ukraine promoting the presidency of now-exiled Kremlin puppet Viktor Yanukovych. Well, as Hunter Thompson once said, “lie down with the pigs and they’ll call you swine everytime.”

And while we’re on the subject, Jill Stein, “the goofy grandma,” was mighty nervous and twitchy on the Sunday talk shows this past weekend.

If Stein, Sanders, or anyone in their campaigns took any type of help from sources they knew to be Russian, then they are in big trouble.

(PS. I was a delegate for Sanders in the Nevada primary)

Excerpts from the indictment of the Russians

Given the size and sophistication of Russian interference in the election, it is not credible that at least some members of presidential campaigns did not know they were dealing with foreign entities, and that is illegal.

My comments are prefaced with an * and are in italics. These quotes are from the indictment.

Page 2.
From in or around 2014 to the present, Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.

Page 12.
The conspiracy had as its object impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States by dishonest means in order to enable the Defendants to interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

*They began in 2014. Let that sink in…

Starting at least in or around 2014, Defendants and their co-conspirators began to track and study groups on U.S. social media sites dedicated to U.S. politics and social issues.

Page 14.
Defendants and their co-conspirators, through fraud and deceit, created hundreds of social media accounts and used them to develop certain fictitious U.S. personas into “leader[s] of public opinion” in the United States.

Defendants and their co-conspirators also created thematic group pages on social media sites, particularly on the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. ORGANIZATION controlled pages addressed a range of issues, including: immigration (with group names including “Secured Borders”); the Black Lives Matter movement (with group names including
“Blacktivist”); religion (with group names including “United Muslims of America” and “Army of Jesus”); and certain geographic regions within the United States (with group names including “South United” and “Heart of Texas”). By 2016, the size of many ORGANIZATION-controlled groups had grown to hundreds of thousands of online followers.

Starting at least in or around 2015, Defendants and their co-conspirators began to purchase advertisements on online social media sites to promote ORGANIZATION-controlled social media groups, spending thousands of U.S. dollars every month. These expenditures were included in the budgets the ORGANIZATION submitted to CONCORD.

*Louise Mensch was the first to out @TEN_GOP as a Russian front, yes she was.

36. Defendants and their co-conspirators also created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts designed to appear as if U.S. persons or groups controlled them. For example, the ORGANIZATION created and controlled the Twitter account “Tennessee GOP,” which used the handle @TEN_GOP. The @TEN_GOP account falsely claimed to be controlled by a U.S. state political party. Over time, the @TEN_GOP account attracted more than 100,000 online followers.

Page 17.
They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.

a. On or about February 10, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators internally circulated an outline of themes for future content to be posted to ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on “politics in the USA” and to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them).”

Page 18.
In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their ORGANIZATION-controlled personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.

On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Woke Blacks” to post the following message: “[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”

On or about November 3, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased an advertisement to promote a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Blacktivist” that read in part: “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”

Starting in or around the summer of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators also began to promote allegations of voter fraud by the Democratic Party through their fictitious U.S. personas. and groups on social media. Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased advertisements on Facebook to further promote the allegations.

Page 19.
Starting in approximately June 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized and coordinated political rallies in the United States. To conceal the fact that they were based in Russia, Defendants and their co-conspirators promoted these rallies while pretending to be U.S. grassroots activists who were located in the United States but unable to meet or participate in person. Defendants and their co-conspirators did not register as foreign agents with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Page 23
Media reporting on or about the same day as Facebook’s disclosure referred to Facebook working with investigators for the Special Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department of Justice, which had been charged with investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Defendants and their co-conspirators thereafter destroyed evidence for the purpose of impeding the investigation. On or about September 13, 2017, KAVERZINA wrote in an email to a family member: “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with the colleagues.” KAVERZINA further wrote, “I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”

*I’ll be real interested to know what banks were involved and if they did due diligence in opening the accounts. Some of the accounts were opened with fake and stolen ID. Which makes me even more suspicious of the banks, who apparently just had no clue.

Page 31
The conspiracy had as its object the opening of accounts under false names at U.S. financial institutions and a digital payments company in order to receive and send money into and out of the United States to support the ORGANIZATION’s operations in the United States and for self enrichment.

Nikolas Cruz, Florida shooter, and the far right


Mentally unbalanced people often look for extremist political and religious ideologies as a way to explain / turn off the voices in their heads. The cult, and these usually are cults, explain to their newbies why their problems are caused by whatever the cult opposes. The newbie finds a home and friends. The cult, which often actively recruits the unbalanced, has new pliable cannon fodder to work with.

Nokolas Cruz was not a member of white supremacist Republic of Florida. Jordan Jereb, a member of the group, concocted the story to get media attention. The story emerged out of alt-right 4chan, which delights in pranking and hoaxing mainstream media. In addition, law enforcement said they found no links between Cruz and ROF.
However, classmates of Cruz and his own online postings indicate he was racist. So, he got his views from somewhere and was pretty clearly seeking out those with similar extremist views. The internet makes this easy to do and also makes it easy for a lunatic fringe to recruit. This must always be opposed.

Seven classmates of Cruz told The Daily Beast he expressed extreme political views and disturbing behavior when he attended the high school he is now accused of attacking with a high-powered rifle.

“He would always talk about how he felt whites were a bit higher than everyone,” Charo said. “He’d be like, ‘My people are over here industrializing the world and starting new things, while your people [meaning blacks and Latinos] are just taking up space.’”

The prescient Lunatic Fringe, from 1981