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Memorial Day

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“Slavenas is dead, Mike, Brian is dead.”

I was in the law school career services center when I got the call from a friend of mine from OCS. Brian Slavenas, this friend who called, and I were buddies during OCS. We didn’t really fit in as we found the military disciple and f*ck-f*ck games stupid. Every month we’d meet up and deal with the stupidity. (We were in the National Guard at the time, and OCS was divided over 18 months rather than the all-at-once 12 week program at Ft. Benning.)

In military units you have squares, criminals, and non-conformists. The squares act as little drill instructors and yell at their fellow soldiers for not following The Book. Criminals are the scum bags in the military you’re not allowed to ever talk about, because it would be unpatriotic to stop pretending that everyone who enlists is a regular GI Joe. Non-conformists, which Brian and I were, are people who break the rules but not in an overtly morally wrong way.

My friend would listen to self-hypnosis CDs using a smuggled player and I got into it with the TAC officers after telling them I wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer. (Most of them were law enforcement.)

Brian would pack his Captains of Crush grippers. The three of us were all into strength training and strong man style training, so we’d bond over reps and sets.

To become a Captain of Crush, you had to send in a picture of yourself closing the #3 gripper, which required nearly inhuman levels of strength.

Brian could close the #2 10 times, and was so close to closing the #3.

Whenever I think about Brian, I wonder if he ever managed to close the #3.

Brian was an unusual person in every positive sense of the word. Some reports of his death listed him at 6’5″, but he seemed taller, as he’d walk up every other step in a normal stride as I picked up the pace to keep up. Muscular like a bodybuilder, he was an Engineering major and bright. And also incredibly insecure.

Imposter Syndrome hadn’t caught on in the TED talk set yet, but Brian was no better example of someone who had it all but felt inadequate for no rational reason.

His shyness, especially when it came to girls, led to my friend and I teasing him often. “Brian, if I looked like you, imagine what I’d do!”

(Brian Slavenas, pictured at far left.)

After OCS, I left for law school in California.

Brian was shot down flying troops home on a rest and relaxation leave.

Brian’s mother took the loss hard, as one would expect, and she didn’t want any of his friends from the military to attend his funeral.

  • Brian’s father had taken it for granted that there would be a formal military funeral, but Brian’s designated next of kin—and thus the person entitled to make such a decision—was his mother. Rosemarie Slavenas said that it was her responsibility to give her son the funeral that was appropriate for his life. The service she arranged, at the Faith United Methodist Church, in Genoa, was a civilian service, with flowers rather than an American flag on the casket, and no weapons in sight. Afterward, addressing some reporters and cameramen gathered outside the church grounds, Rosemarie Slavenas said, “George Bush killed my son. I believe my son Brian died not for his country but because of our country’s lack of a coherent and civilized foreign policy.”
  • Eric Slavenas, a strong supporter of the war, had said that not having “Taps” and a flag-draped casket at Brian’s service amounted to “spikes in my dad’s and my heart.”

The Slavenas family fracture captures the sentiment of many of those who served or lost those who served.

“When they needed blood, they called it Patriotism. However, let those same yokels and suckers try to express those feelings in ways that didn’t involve killing strangers….then The Powers That Be had The Talking Heads resurrect the specter of the long-dead Third Reich and trot out cliched shaming language with words like Nationalism.” – Samuel Finlay, Breakfast with the Dirt Cult.

The reporters who lied about WMDs in Iraq kept their jobs. The chickenhawks who cried for war received promotions and became leaders of the conservative and neoliberal establishments.

On Memorial Day you’re supposed to Honor the Fallen. And on Veteran’s Day you’re supposed to Thank You for Your Service. What day do we get to tell the war mongers to fuck off?

When will we have a national holiday where we line up Bill Kristol, the editorial staff of the New York Times, Bill O’Reilly, Dick Cheney, and the the rest of these war criminals and chickenhawks and make them hold their heads in shame?

Parallel worlds.

In cognitive psychology there’s a concept known as survivorship bias. When one person survives (usually this means they succeeded or had a major investment gain), we reason backwards to explain why they lived.

Brian died and I lived. There’s no good reason for this. I moved onto law school as planned, with no knowledge that 9/11 would happen. Brian continued his studies and served as an aviator.

There’s no reason one man lives and other dies.

And by any objective measure, Brian deserved to live more than I did, and certainly more than most others. He was one of the men who are legitimately good people.

Adding to the sense of tragedy is that Brian and I pulled off what seems an unlikely feat. Both of were profiled in the New Yorker.

Me for living, and him for dying.

Like Brian’s mom I share a special contempt for the war mongers, as I told a reporter:

“Some people say they hate Beltway insiders and establishment media types, but it’s actually sour grapes,” Cernovich said. “Deep down, they want the cool kids to love them. I actually fucking detest those people.” He grew up in Kewanee, a farming town in Illinois. Not long ago, he said, “I started looking into who these neocon policy wonks are. Every backstory was the same—East Coast, Harvard, trust fund, nepotism. Look, if the experts decide tomorrow that we’re going to war with Russia, who’s gonna fight that war? Jonah Goldberg and Ross Douthat? Fuck no. It’ll be guys I know from Kewanee.”

On Memorial Day I don’t want to hear a thing about service or freedom from those who stayed home while sending others off to die.

For those who have lost, may God bless you and let their memories be a blessing.

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Culture

Is “Kung Flu” the latest Media Hoax?

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Several White House reporters confronted Trump regarding his decision to call the coronavirus (or COVID-19) the China Virus.  One reporter asked him about a White House administration official who is alleged to have called the coronavirus Kung Flu.

When the reporter was asked the name of the official, the reporter said she didn’t know.

The original claim regarding Kung Flu comes from CBS reporter Weijia Jiang. On March 17th, she Tweeted:

This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back.

Ms. Jiang has not identified the official.

One reason could be because this official does not even exist.

Under American defamation law, you can lie all you like.

You can’t lie about a person by name.

If no White House official called the coronavirus Kung Flu, or if there is some important context missing, then Jiang could be sued.

You can watch the Kung Flu exchange in this video here:

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The Stafford Act Text Message Announcing an Emergency Quarantine is a Hoax

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By now you or someone you know has received a hoax text announcing martial law. With some minor variations, the texts all read the same:

  • In 48 to 72 hours the president will evoke what is called the Stafford act. Just got off the phone with some of my military friends in DC who just got out of a two hour briefing. The president will order a two week mandatory quarantine for the nation. Stock up on whatever you guys need to make sure you have a two week supply of everything. Please forward.

 

The National Security Council issued a rare public statement warning the public that the Stafford act text was a hoax.

How can you tell the Stafford Act Text is a Hoax?

Even if you refuse to accept the NSC’s word on the matter, the text message has some telltale signs of a hoax.

First, the text promises secret insider knowledge. “Just got off the phone with some of my military friends in DC who just got out of a two hour briefing.” This is a vague enough proclamation that it sounds plausible.

Second, no specifics of these friends are given. Who are these friends? Why did they call this specific person?

Third, the hoaxers ask you to spread the message. Why would anyone acting in good faith want to incite a panic?

If an emergency quarantine were able to be declared, the plan would be Top Secret. No one’s friends would just get out of a briefing and start alerting people. THEY WOULD GO TO PRISON FOR LEAKING CLASSIFIED INFORMATION.

If such an emergency plan were in the works and higher command wanted the story to get out, they’d leak it to a credible outlet. Not share chain-letter style text messages.

There’s also tradecraft involved in sharing classified information.

None of the telltale signs (and no I won’t share how to leak classified secrets here) were present in that alert.

UPDATE: Other outlets are now reporting that the Stafford Act text is a foreign disinformation campaign:

The Trump administration is alleging that a foreign disinformation campaign is underway aimed at spreading fear in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, three U.S. officials said Monday. On Sunday, federal officials began confronting what they said was a deliberate effort by a foreign entity to sow fears of a nationwide quarantine amid the virus outbreak.

Agencies took coordinated action Sunday evening to deny that any such plans were put in place, as they tried to calm a nation already on edge by disruptions to daily life caused by the virus.

 

——-

Read More about Mike Cernovich here.

Who is Mike Cernovich?

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How Trump Drafted Google into the War Against Coronavirus

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Elvis Presley served in the Army after he was drafted, and in American history it was common for celebrities to serve their country during times of national crisis. Noblesse oblige, or the duty the noble and rich owed to society, arouse perhaps out of morality or maybe simple self-preservation. If you’re getting while the getting is good, giving something back goes a long way to avoid class resentment.

Those thoughts were perhaps on Trump’s mind (or more likely his instinct) when he announced that Google was taking massive action to help America fight the coronavirus.

Google at first pushed back at the suggestion that it, a nearly trillion dollar mega-corporation, actually doing something to help the users it profits from.

Why should Google help save lives? Why should Google do anything other than operate as an amoral, blood-sucking corporation that violates user privacy and exploits children?

The media bros were quick to rush to save Google. Poor Google! They were being bullied by the ORANGE MAN BAD.

Google’s media errand boys like Jake Tapper and others were quick to publish stories attacking Trump for suggesting that Google actually do something.

Some like your humble correspondent Mike Cernovich saw right away was Trump was doing.

Trump was drafting Google into the war against coronavirus.

Google, whatever its motivations, answered the draft.

Public pressure must intensify.

The corporations make billions of dollars a day by spying on users.

The least they can do is use that data to find out where coronavirus hot spots are, share that information with the CDC, and get information shared with the sick.

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