VotePact Gives You Leverage Over the Duopoly

VotePact is a voting strategy that advocates that people vote for their actual preferences by pairing up with someone on the other side of the Democratic-Republican divide. So people can strategically vote for the candidates they most like without fear of helping those they most fear. Instead of effectively cancelling out each other -- one for Trump and one for Biden, they can both vote Libertarian or Green or whatever they want. 

It is effectively DIY ranked choice voting, which allows voters to list their preferences 1-2-3. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom just vetoed a RCV bill in California and Republicans in Maine are still trying to block voters from using RCV in the presidential election -- which is expected to be a historic first. 

Such attempts to limit voter choice are endemic to the establishment parties. indeed, much of our political and media system is designed to keep voters in perpetual subjugation to the Democratic and Republican parties: atomized, perpetually triggered by the latest outrage of 'the other side.' This effectively makes the establishment parties less and less accountable to the public since ironically, if each of the parties becomes worse, more fear kicks in spurring desperate support for the other. This creates a vicious cycle of fear and hatred and actually strengthens the duopoly. VotePact gives a strategic path out of this -- and even modest use of it could give the voting public leverage over the duopoly candidates since their votes can no longer be taken for granted."

While many establishment Democrats complain constantly that Green Party candidate Jill Stein 'took votes away' from Hillary Clinton and handed the 2016 election to Trump, they effectively block RCV reforms which would solve the problem. 

But unlike RCV and other institutional reforms, VotePact doesn't require waiting for governmental sign off that may never come. Anyone can do this right now with someone from the other side of the duopoly.

A related problem is polling. Most polls are phrased something like 'if the election were held today, which of the following would you vote for: Democrat Joe Biden, Republican Donald Trump, Libertarian Jo Jorgensen or Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate.' But that just echos the voting bind and doesn't get at voter preference.

If pollsters cared to measure actual voter preferences, they would ask people to rank candidates 1-2-3, RCV style. Or they can ask: "Biden, Trump, Jorgensen and Hawkins are in a four-way tie. You are the tie-breaker, the deciding vote. Who do you vote for?' That would get at actual voter preference. 

But voter preference and control are hindered, including by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a creation of the establishment Democrats and Republicans that is sponsoring what should be called a joint televised appearance Thursday night between Trump and Biden. Third party candidates are having their own debate with the group Free and Equal on Saturday. See my letter 'The Huge Problem with Polls' to Frank Newport of Gallup and the CPD. 

Some advocate that people voting third party in safe states and 'lesser evil' in swing states, which is certainly a positive step, but it obviously restricts voter choice in 'swing states,' is likely a recipe for muffling national advocacy of third parties -- and it's not scalable. That is, a third party candidate gaining traction would likely redefine which states are safe states, though that seems unlikely this year. VoteTrumpOut lists these as swing states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, or Wisconsin.

But VotePact can work with two people in any state and it doesn't advocate for any candidate, it is simply a tool anyone can use to strategically vote for their preferred candidate with the radical act of cooperating with someone from the other side of the partisan divide. If needed, the issue of trust in this election can be overcome by people filling out mail in ballots together. A PAC backing Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson rebranded VotePact as 'The Balanced Rebellion' in 2016, got 37 million views on Facebook with an entertaining video featuring 'dead Abe Lincoln' and helped Johnson score the biggest third party success since Ross Perot. However, most third party candidates seem to have no strategy for electoral success, the Greens this year are saying they are largely out to preserve their ballot access.

The Problem of Racism is Not Black and White

The Problem of Racism is Not Black and White
by Sam Husseini
[From the January/February 1998 issue of Poverty & Race]

In what was billed as one of President Clinton's most important speeches, he urged us to "begin" a dialogue on race relations. Clinton spoke of "the problem of race." There is no such thing — except for racists. There is the problem of racism, a word Clinton managed to use only once during his  speech.

President Barr

Barr is Cheney 2.0. He is CIA from way back. His father was OSS. His father hired Jeffrey Epstein to be a math teacher at the Dalton School. Barr was Attorney General when Bush I gave Christmas eve pardons to Elliott Abrams and others after Bush I was voted out of office in 1992.

Barr was brought into the Trump administration about the same time as Elliott Abrams. He basically declared that based on his reading of the Mueller report that there was no obstruction of justice. So Barr basically got to decide if Trump stays or goes. Trump has been serving at Barr's pleasure.

Recent interviews on the origins of the pandemic, misreporting, and the threat of biowarfare

Was just interviewed by the thoughtful Pat Thomas of the Organic Consumers Association

Earlier this month, I was interviewed by John Kirby and Libby Handros of "Perspectives on the Pandemic." Under a tight deadline, they did a great job of pulling together some visuals as well. Transcript attached (which I've not double checked as yet.) Unfortunately, some of their content is getting purged and my interview seems to be shadow banned

 

Averting our Gaze from Biowarfare: Pandemics and Self-fulfilling Prophecies

by Sam Husseini

Those bastards in their white lab coats
Who experiment with mountain goats
Should leave the universe alone
It's not their business, not their home
-- John Prine, "Lonesome Friends of Science"

People who are dismissing the possibility that the pandemic might have come from a lab -- either accidentally from a Wuhan lab or them being effectively framed, as we saw with the 2001 anthrax attacks -- are basically risking the future of humanity because they don't want to have an uncomfortable discussion.

On Feb. 11, I asked Anne Schuchat, the CDC's Principal Deputy Director, at the National Press Club if it were a "complete coincidence" that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus happened in Wuhan, a center of China's declared biowarfare/biodefence capacity. I didn't get a satisfactory answer. In fact, at the end it was remarkably evasive. She wouldn't answer my followup question about whether the claimed "zoonotic origin" precluded the outbreak from being caused pathogens from nature that then could be accidentally leaked from the labs.  

But such simple facts are not being given to the public. Take "Democracy Now," the ostensible flagship broadcast of progressive thought. A search on "Democracy Now" shows that the first time the program mentioned "Wuhan" and "lab" or "laboratory" was on April 6 -- to credit "the Wuhan lab that identified the coronavirus that causes COVID-19." Mainstream outlets at least reported the existence of the lab to their audiences in a somewhat timely manner, even if they distorted the information. 

And skew the info they did. 

Forbes (3/17/20) published the piece "No, COVID-19 Coronavirus Was Not Bioengineered. Here’s The Research That Debunks That Idea," which depends on a misreading of a strange and misleading Nature Medicine article to dismiss the notion that it came out of a lab. The Forbes senior contributor on health, Bruce Y. Lee writes: "it’s a lot easier to leak a pocket of air though your butt than a virus from a BSL-4 facility." Apparently this was supposed to be reassuring. 

Similarly CNN (4/6/20) mocked the notion of a lab leak when re-assessing the source of the pandemic, describing one possibility being that: "It leaked -- like a genie out of a bottle -- from a lab in an accident."

But even a cursory look at the record shows that these labs, where ever they exist, have a lot of accidents -- just from 2019, the New York Times (8/5/19) reported: "Deadly Germ Research Is Shut Down at Army Lab Over Safety Concerns" regarding Fort Detrick in Maryland: "Problems with disposal of dangerous materials led the government to suspend research at the military’s leading biodefense center." (The local paper, the Frederick News-Post has provided some coverage, including publishing letters by local activist Barry Kissin who has focused on the issue.)

USA Today had a reporter on this beat, Alison Young, but she left the paper. A sampling of her work: 

Contrary to claims, the pandemic may have come from a lab — and regardless, it exposes the threat of biowarfare arms race

[Originally published in Salon.]
By Sam Husseini

There is no scientific finding that the novel coronavirus was bioengineered, but its origins are not entirely clear. Deadly pathogens discovered in the wild can be studied in secret in labs — and sometimes made more dangerous. That possibility, and other plausible scenarios, have been incorrectly dismissed in remarks by some scientists and government officials, and in the coverage of most major media outlets.

Regardless of the source of this pandemic, there is considerable documentation that a global biological arms race going on outside of public view could produce even more deadly pandemics in the future.

While much of the media and political establishment have minimized the threat from such lab work, some hawks on the American right like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., have singled out Chinese biodefense researchers as uniquely dangerous. 

But there is every indication that U.S. lab work is every bit as threatening as that in Chinese labs. American labs also operate in secret, and are also known to be accident-prone.

The current dynamics of the biological arms race have been driven by U.S. government decisions that extend back decades. In December 2009, Reuters reported that the Obama administration was refusing even to negotiate the possible monitoring of biological weapons.

Much of the left in the U.S. now appears unwilling to scrutinize the origin of the pandemic — or the wider issue of biowarfare — perhaps because portions of the anti-Chinese right have been so vocal in making unfounded allegations. 

Governments that participate in such biological weapon research generally distinguish between "biowarfare" and "biodefense," as if to paint such "defense" programs as necessary. But this is rhetorical sleight-of-hand; the two concepts are largely indistinguishable. 

"Biodefense" implies tacit biowarfare, breeding more dangerous pathogens for the alleged purpose of finding a way to fight them. While this work appears to have succeeded in creating deadly and infectious agents, including deadlier flu strains, such "defense" research is impotent in its ability to defend us from this pandemic. 

The legal scholar who drafted the main U.S. law on the subject, Francis Boyle, warned in his 2005 book "Biowarfare and Terrorism" that an "illegal biological arms race with potentially catastrophic consequences" was underway, largely driven by the U.S. government.

For years, many scientists have raised concerns regarding bioweapons/biodefense lab work, and specifically about the fact that huge increases in funding have taken place since 9/11. This was especially true after the anthrax-by-mail attacks that killed five people in the weeks after 9/11, which the FBI ultimately blamed on a U.S. government biodefense scientist. A 2013 study found that biodefense funding since 2001 had totaled at least $78 billion, and more has surely been spent since then. This has led to a proliferation of laboratories, scientists and new organisms, effectively setting off a biological arms race. 

Following the Ebola outbreak in west Africa in 2014, the U.S. government paused funding for what are known as "gain-of-function" research on certain organisms. This work actually seeks to make deadly pathogens deadlier, in some cases making pathogens airborne that previously were not. With little notice outside the field, the pause on such research was lifted in late 2017.

During this pause, exceptions for funding were made for dangerous gain-of-function lab work. This included work jointly done by U.S. scientists from the University of North Carolina, Harvard and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This work — which had funding from USAID and EcoHealth Alliance not originally acknowledged — was published in 2015 in Nature Medicine

A different Nature Medicine article about the origin of the current pandemic, authored by five scientists and published on March 17, has been touted by major media outlet and some officials — including current National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins — as definitively disproving a lab origin for the novel coronavirus. That journal article, titled "The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2," stated unequivocally: "Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus." This is a subtly misleading sentence. While the scientists state that there is no known laboratory "signature" in the SARS-Cov-2 RNA, their argument fails to take account of other lab methods that could have created coronavirus mutations without leaving such a signature.

Questioning the CDC: Is it a Complete Coincidence That China's Only BSL4 Is in Wuhan? -- Audio and Video

I asked about the origins of the outbreak at a news conference with a Center for Disease Control representative at the now shuttered National Press Club on Feb. 11. I asked if it was a complete coincidence that the pandemic started in Wuhan, which seems a hub of Chinese biowarfare capacity -- with the only declared BSL4 (biosafety level 4 laboratory, which deals with the most deadly pathogens) while the bat caves (in Yunnan province) some have cited as the relevant source of bats are over 1,000 miles from Wuhan. I noted that controversial gain-of-function lab work results in more deadly pathogens (like making them airborne), and that major labs, including in the U.S., have had accidents. The CDC's Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat replied that based on the information she has seen, the virus was of "zoonotic origin." She also stated regarding gain-of-function lab work that it's important to "protect researchers and their laboratory workers as well as the community around them and that we use science for the benefit of people." 

I followed up, asking if an alleged natural origin didn't preclude it coming out of a lab, since a lab could have acquired a bat virus and been working on it. Schuchat replied to the assembled journalists that "it is very common for rumors to emerge that can take on life of their own," but didn't answer the question. She noted that in the 2014 Ebola outbreak, some pointed to nearby labs as the possible cause, claiming this "was a key rumor that had to be overcome in order to help control the outbreak." And she reiterated: "So based on everything that I know right now, I can tell you the circumstances of the origin really look like animals to human. But your, your question, I heard." 

But there's no rumor. It’s a fact: Labs work with dangerous pathogens. U.S. and China have such dual use biowarfare/biodefense programs. China has major facilities at Wuhan. There are leaks from labs. (See Preventing a Biological Arms Race, MIT Press, 1990, edited by Susan Wright -- see (partial) review in Journal of International Law (10/92).)

Notice of event is here. Full video here and my questioning begins at 41:41. Audio attached, my question begins at 6:10 on the audio. Full article to come. Transcript: 

Husseini: Obviously the main concern is how to stop the virus and deaths and so on. But I think that we should look into the origins of this. Is it the CDCs contention that there's absolutely no relation to the BSL4 lab in Wuhan? It's my understanding this is the only place in China with a BSL4 lab. We in the United States have I think two dozen or so and there have been problems and incidents. Some of them have been shut down out of concerns of leakage of potential pathogens. And it's an ethical struggle in the United States about gain of function research. That is, research that actually attempts to make pathogens more lethal. China is a very opaque society [with a] totalitarian regime. We have no idea, or I don't know, you tell me: Do you have any idea of what kind of research could potentially be done? I'm not contending that this was intentional in any way. I'm just asking is it a complete coincidence that this outbreak happened in the one city in China with a BSL4 lab and shouldn't we be having at least some of the discussion about the ethics of some of the research that happens here? Thank you.

Schuchat: Thank you for those comments. Based on everything that I know about what is going on with this outbreak and the research that's being conducted, well as the genomic sequences that have been posted and the comparison with animals strains, the pattern that we're seeing is quite consistent with emergence from animal to human acquisition and adaptability or mutations that permit the virus to be easily spread between people. There's some emerging research about, you know, the virus itself is related to bat viruses, that's what the SARS virus and the MERS virus. But there was an intriguing report about pangolin sequencing -- an animal that is apparently a large part of the wildlife trade around the world, with 99 percent similarity. But what our scientists tell us is you actually need more like 99.9 percent similarity for us to understand origin. The animal origins and the circumstances of the emergence of this virus are really important to understand and it's one of the key questions that the global community wants to look into.

Schuchat: In terms of the question about gain of function research and laboratory issues. Very important for us as a scientific community to have practices that protect researchers and their laboratory workers as well as the community around them and that we use science for the benefit of people. So I am closely involved in this response and everything that I've seen so far is very consistent with the animal to human spread that we've seen other zoonotic origin. 

Husseini: May I follow up on that -- just -- I mean, the two things don't necessarily preclude each other. That is, the Chinese lab could well have acquired the bat [virus]. It's one or two thousand miles away -- the caves where the bats are [from] that are allegedly the cause. So wouldn't -- the two things aren't mutually exclusive, are they?

Schuchat: Yeah, let me leave a comment. Information is critical and having the very best information available to those who -- to everyone, to be able to protect themselves, their families, their communities is essential. In the midst of new infections, it is very common for rumors to emerge that can take on life of their own. So as you mentioned, a laboratory in the center of what else is happening in that province -- I'm reminded of concerns we heard when I was in Sierra Leone in 2014 with the Ebola response. There was a concern that there was a hemorrhagic virus research center in Sierra Leone, and maybe that's where the virus had come from. It was a key rumor that had to be overcome in order to help control the outbreak. So based on everything that I know right now, I can tell you the circumstances of the origin really look like animals to human. But your, your question, I heard.