Two Live Jews Discuss The Rise Of Christian Nationalism (10-6-22)

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Raven Rock: the story of the U.S. Government’s secret plan to save itself-while the rest of us die

Here are some highlights from this 2017 book by Garrett M. Graff:

* Beyond the physical infrastructure, a major concern in the national evacuation plans was precisely how smoothly those “host areas” would absorb their new residents. Racial tensions were to be anticipated—particularly in areas that would see large influxes of minority evacuees, like Ulster County, New York, which would see nearly half a million minority Bronx residents descend on its nearly entirely white town. These tense questions around integration were a particular concern of Reagan’s first appointee to head FEMA , Louis Giuffrida, who as a colonel in 1970 had written his Army War College thesis on how the government could establish internment camps for “Black Nationalists” in the event that revolutionaries tried to seize control of America’s inner cities. The agency Giuffrida inherited in 1981 had spent its recent years studying similar issues about the problems of evacuees upsetting the racial balance of their “host areas.” “There could be a lot of opposition because a lot of the white people [in Virginia] don’t want a lot of the black people,” D.C.’s head of emergency planning, John Colbert, explained. The head of FEMA ’s predecessor agency, the DCPA , in 1978 had been asked by a reporter: “How are you going to keep those people there from shooting the people coming in?”
“That’s tough,” Bardyl Tirana said, simply.
“Since you’ve studied the problem, you no doubt have an answer to this?”
“Don’t assume that,” Tirana replied.
A FEMA study, done just as the Reagan administration was taking office, laid out myriad problems with evacuating “Blacks, Hispanics, and Orientals” during a national emergency. The fifty-seven-page report, Special Problems of Blacks and Other Minorities in Large-Scale Population Relocation , found that emergency management officials thought minority populations would require “more attention (education) to achieve comparable levels of understanding and recognition of the reality and necessity of crisis relocation.” Beyond that, they were likely to have a “lower rate of public compliance,” less access to both private transportation and private shelters, and have “a greater problem in being accepted in crisis relocation host areas.”

* CNN , which first broke word of the scheme in the 1990s, reported that planners believed “to protect the United States’ unique Constitutional form of government from the ultimate threat it was necessary to have this alternate system of succession.” As one National Program Office employee told the news channel, “We have to go on the premise that we have enough alternates in enough locations to do the job.” William Arkin, a nuclear weapons scholar who had become one of the nation’s leading experts on COG programs, concurred that the Constitution simply didn’t allow for the flexibility necessary to execute and survive a nuclear war—particularly a surprise attack. “The tension cannot be resolved,” he told CNN . “As long as we have nuclear weapons, we’re going to have to fudge on the Constitution.”
But that left the big question: Given the secrecy around the program, if someone from PS3 emerged from a nuclear disaster as the “president,” who among the American public or world leaders overseas would respect that leader? As Duke University law professor William Van Alstyne explained, “If no one knows in advance what the line of succession is meant to be, then almost by hypothesis no one will have any reason to believe that those who claim to be exercising that authority in fact possess it.”
Indeed, after realizing that the systems for authenticating a successor were lacking, the Reagan administration began to institute elaborate mechanisms with FEMA and the Pentagon to ensure a successor’s legitimacy. The plan called for special coded communications that could prove a successor’s identity and establish the highest-ranking official still alive within the government.

* Then, to establish that the remote PS3 teams were, in fact, controlling the government, the plan called for military demonstrations that proved a new president’s authority to foes and allies. “Sometimes, you order U.S. forces to do something,” Clarke says. “You say to the adversary in advance, ‘I’m going to order our forces to do X. You will observe that. That’s how you know that I’m in charge of U.S. forces.’ ” One option was to have the new “president” order an American submarine up from the depths to the surface of the ocean as a clear sign that the successor was in full control of U.S. military forces. The Soviet Union or U.S. allies could then independently verify, either by satellite surveillance or firsthand visual confirmation, that such an action followed.

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The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet’s Rise

David Kushner writes in this 2019 book:

Sitting back in his office in Tijuana, Cohen readily spun his story on the phone to anyone who’d listen. “When Kremen filed this lawsuit, he did us a big favor,” Cohen told Luke Ford, who wrote a widely read blog about the online porn business, “because if you don’t sue someone within a period of time, it can be construed as giving implied permission. We decided at that point, instead of fighting forty lawsuits by people using the name, to take care of Kremen.” This included both Fantasy Man and Warshavsky, whom Cohen considered part of Kremen’s team. “We’ve got Warshavsky’s tit in a wringer,” he went on. “We’ve got him cold. He’s fucked.”
Cohen slipped into his pedantic mode, deriding the other dot-com moguls as technological neophytes overinflating their claims. “We have 8,799,232 members,” he told Ford. “The other adult internet sites are not even in the ballgame. Most people do not understand the internet. You get these fools like Seth Warshavsky who claims he’s doing all these millions of dollars’ worth of business. If writers were more technical they could check out the information.”
Cohen told Ford to do a WHOIS search for, and waited as he heard Ford’s fingers rattle across his keys. He wanted to show Ford proof that he was dominating Warshavsky’s traffic. “Do you see the number 11083?” he asked. “That’s an autonomous system number. That means you report to more than one place. That means that more than one ISP feeds you.” The implication was that needed more than one internet service provider to handle all its eyeballs.
He had Ford then type in the address of Warshavsky’s site, Club Love. “Hear that noise in the background?” Cohen asked, as he put the phone up to his own computer, which played back a fuzzy sound like TV static. “Club Love’s internet provider is cable and wireless,” he went on. “He’s running out of an IP address of Club Love is registered as JNS Communications Inc. and the address is He only has one ISP. He’s probably running less than a T3 line, and yet he claims he’s doing all this business. From what I can see he’s not running more than a couple of T1s. His claims of millions of dollars are all BS.
“Now, let’s take a look at Cybererotica. Cybererotica is fed by IGallery. IGallery. Cybererotica is running greater than T3. About 60–70 megs, probably two T3s. It looks like they have a big video stream coming through. Clublove is a dinky site. Cybererotica doesn’t even have an autonomous system number. Bandwidth is not indicative of how much money you make. You can make millions of dollars with TI if you’re running nothing but text. But once you start doing video and pictures, it eats up more bandwidth. For every dollar made, how much is kept? Cybererotica does lots of webhosting and buying of other people’s traffic. He has great gross but shitty net. While has tremendous gross and a 98% net, I don’t need to buy traffic. That is what separates the men from the boys.”

Author David Kushner lacks basic reading comprehension. The following actions and comments he attributes to me are clearly attributed on my 1999 blog to a “Vegas Lee”, who is definitely not me.

Curious to learn more, Ford drove down across the border to meet the man once and for all. “I wanted to see this infamous Cohen everyone always talks about,” as he blogged soon after. Once in Tijuana, he came to a busy thoroughfare with a median of palm trees. Strip malls with UPS stores, tanning salons, and dentist offices lined either side of the road. He pulled into one spot along Diego Rivera Avenue, and went into a brand-new office building, where he was greeted by Jim Powell, Cohen’s gray-haired associate of many years. Powell showed Ford around the computer room, which buzzed with servers and wires and heat. It seemed impressive, but, then again, he had no idea who owned what. But the man himself was nowhere to be found, having gone to Vegas, he was told.
Before long, Ford had had enough. He considered the industry leaders his friends, he later wrote, and descending into the belly of a beast, where Cohen and his cronies were suing everyone into oblivion, was making him feel queasy. “These people are into a very heavy revenge trip that goes well beyond scary and it seems to me they do not care about the harm to our industry that they will cause,” he later wrote. “I felt so sick after seeing what I saw that I just made an excuse and left Tijuana.”

I wonder how many other stupid mistakes the author made?

Here is his bio at the back of the book:

David Kushner is an award-winning journalist and author. His books include Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture; Jonny Magic & the Card Shark Kids: How a Gang of Geeks Beat the Odds and Stormed Las Vegas; Levittown: Two Families, One Tycoon, and the Fight for Civil Rights in America’s Legendary Suburb; Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto; and Alligator Candy: A Memoir. Kushner is also author of the graphic novel Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D , illustrated by Koren Shadmi; and the ebook, The Bones of Marianna: A Reform School, a Terrible Secret, and a Hundred-Year Fight for Justice. Two collections of his magazine stories are available as audiobooks, The World’s Most Dangerous Geek: And More True Hacking Stories and Prepare to Meet Thy Doom: And More True Gaming Stories.

A contributing editor of Rolling Stone , Kushner has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, The New York Times Magazine, New York, Esquire , and GQ , and has been an essayist for National Public Radio. His work is featured in several “best of” anthologies: The Best American Crime Reporting, The Columbia Journalism Review’s Best Business Writing, The Best Music Writing, and The Best American Travel Writing.

He is the winner of the New York Press Club award for Best Feature Reporting. His ebook The Bones of Marianna was selected by Amazon as a Best Digital Single of 2013. NPR named his memoir, Alligator Candy, one of the best books of 2016. He has taught as a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

Here are some highlights from the book:

* Among those who were seeking Cohen out was Yishai Hibari, an Israeli musician turned adult webmaster who wanted to take out ads on the site. Word was that Cohen was doing three times the traffic. Among the porn stars in bikinis and guys with greased-back hair, he saw what he recalled to be “a funny chubby guy with an important look on his face,” walking a small white Chihuahua with a red ribbon around its neck. Cohen was always chatty, and chummy, friends never saw him in a bad mood.

* It didn’t take long for the success to go to Cohen’s head. He became known for wandering porn shows with a smug smile, and a polo shirt embroidered with the logo. Even among the rulers of the Wild Porn West online, he soon gained an unseemly reputation. Just as he had done for years, he put his amateur trademark attorney scam to use by suing anyone, and everyone, who had the word sex in a domain name. Serge Birbair, the owner of, was among those who, as he put it, was “harassed by Stephen Cohen.” When hit with Cohen’s lawsuit, he didn’t have the money to fight back against the traffic king—and chose instead to relent, and hand over to Cohen. “It cost me money to defend myself, and it cost me a lot of grief,” as one pornmaster put it after caving in. “Eventually, I decided it ain’t worth the fight.”
Cohen reveled in the power. No one could stop him with on his side—not even the guy who claimed to own it. One day, Cohen received a certified letter from Kremen’s attorney, demanding he not only cease and desist using, but send the money he’d earned from the site Kremen’s way. Cohen had one response. Kremen could go fuck himself. He’d been selling sucking and fucking online since the 1980s, and was rightfully his. As he later told Kremen’s attorney, “If anybody stole it, it was Gary Kremen stealing it from me.”

* While Kremen busied himself with new investments and consulting work, he hired a young attorney, Sheri Falco, to navigate the uncharted waters of a potential lawsuit. Falco, an intellectual property attorney, found Kremen doing a million things, as usual, in his office—starting an incubator, making calls, surfing the net. It didn’t take long poking around for her to find out that Cohen was on a lawsuit tear of his own, riding on the back of the trademark protection he filed. She hit back, filing a trademark opposition to put his on hold.
Going on the public record against Cohen had another unintended effect. It got the attention of the many enemies he was making in the online porn industry. And, before long, Falco got a call from the two biggest, and most powerful, ones of all, Ron “Fantasy Man” Levi and Seth Warshavsky, who had an urgent message for Kremen. They wanted to help him take Cohen out.
They were good friends to have. Fantasy Man was considered by many to be the godfather of the online porn business. A dark-haired, imposing strongman, he lived in a ten-thousand-square-foot California mansion. Fantasy Man had been hustling since learning to shoot pool from the basis of the movie The Hustler himself, Fast Eddie, when he was just fourteen. With a knack for business and a passion for technology, Fantasy Man made his first fortune in audiotext, or phone sex, and parlayed that into the first large network of adult sites on the internet, Cybererotica.

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Wired: The High Cost of Living Your Life Online

From Wired:

Without the ability to find out how their identity is ricocheting around the virtual world, people often feel a fight-or-flight response when they’ve been online for many hours—and even after they’ve logged off.

“It’s kind of an adapted hyper-vigilance. As soon as you send something out into the virtual world, you’re sort of sitting on pins and needles waiting for a response,” Lembke says. “That alone—that kind of expectancy—is a state of hyperarousal. How will people respond to this? When will they respond? What will they say?”

It would be one thing if only you saw any negative reactions, Lembke says, but they’re often available for everyone to see. She says this exacerbates feelings of shame and self-loathing that are already “endemic” in the modern world.

We are social creatures, and our brains evolved to form communities, communicate with each other, and work together.

I think most of this anxiety has to do with whether or not you live in reality, have friends, community and a solid sense of self with the ability to self-validate, and whether or not you have over-arching positive purpose to your life. If you are not contributing, then it would be best to live in the cave.

I have over-arching purpose to what I do online. One purpose is to learn. Another purpose is to laugh. Another purpose is to stay in touch with friends and family. Another purpose is to make money. Another purpose is thinking socially. At age 56, I realize that when I just go off on my own with an intellectual fixation, it’s often divorced from reality. I’m not unique here. We are evolutionarily adapted to being extraordinarily good at seeing through other people’s attempts to manipulate us and we tend to be terrible at evaluating our own thinking (excessive self-confidence is adaptive because it holds the feeling of insignificance at bay). So when an idea grabs me, I want to talk about it, and the more smart people I can talk to, the more wisdom I get. I think better when I think socially. Because I have an ego and I don’t want to get unnecessarily humiliated online, I try to think things through reasonably and responsibly and then I listen carefully to the feedback I receive.

I like to explore dissident ideas that the MSM reflexively dismisses and demeans. This is one way I feel significant. I have a niche and I do it well. I like to discuss the forbidden without being reflexively pro or con. I have no sacred cows (though I do have interests in addition to values and these interests and values shape my choices online and off). My audience seems to be about 80% dissidents and I think they appreciate that I neither loathe them nor snow them. I’m not a pundit nor a syndicated radio host who makes his living telling people what they want to hear. I’m not a populist. I don’t believe that wisdom resides with the people. I’m not an elitist either. I don’t believe wisdom resides with the elite. I don’t believe any group or class is consistently wise. I believe both sides of the political spectrum are normal natural reflections of evolutionary adaptations. In some situations, the conservative approach is more adaptive, and in other situations, a more radical approach is more adaptive.

I think about what I say publicly, and I try to say it in ways that people can hear me without getting unnecessarily hurt. Since I started blogging in 1997, I’ve had a sense that I want to keep at least 51% of my audience on my side.

Wired says: “Constantly posting content on social media can erode your privacy—and sense of self.”

So one needs to use good judgment about what one shares, whether online or off. The more important someone is to me, the more reluctant I am to talk about them publicly or privately. For example, when good friends of mine get gossiped about, I rarely defend them because it doesn’t do any good and I don’t want to reveal too much of myself. If I really like a woman, I rarely talk about her. I have a few intense friendships and I don’t usually discuss them. In Judaism, the more sacred something is, such as a Torah scroll, the more protection it generally enjoys.

People who constantly post online seem to lack a sense of self. There’s an air of desperation about their production. They need other people to tell them who they are. On the other hand, there are great scholars such as Marc B. Shapiro who post many videos online and I don’t see anything dysfunctional there.

Wired says: “TO BE ONLINE is to be constantly exposed.”

It depends upon what you are exposing. If you are exposing the rabbinic response to the rise of Reform Judaism, I don’t see a lot of downsides.

Wired says: “It can sometimes feel like the whole world has its eyes on you.”

Then you are doing it wrong and you need to step away. This problem is but a symptom of a deeper problem.

Wired: “Being observed by so many people appears to have significant psychological effects.”

Exposure is not for everyone whether it is online or off. Some people are better off with a low-key moderately paying job than a high-stress high visibility job.

Wired: “He says people are receiving dozens of notifications every day and that they often feel they can’t escape their online lives.”

I rarely experience this because I have my notifications turned off. I also don’t suffer from the delusion that everyone is checking out what I say online. At the same time, when I speak online, I try to have in mind that anyone I come in contact with may have tuned in to me. I know it is unlikely to be true, but I find it a reasonable and responsible attitude for my online production. I like the idea that everyone knows everything. I find it sobering and it helps me to make better decisions. There’s not much in my life that I’m hiding and so I don’t usually feel great anxiety posting online.

Wired: “Even when you’re not on the screens, the screens are in your head.”

Yes. Even when you’re not playing golf, golf can be in your head. Even when you’re not having sex, sex can be in your head. Even when you’re not looking at porn, porn might be in your head. Even when you’re not at work, work might be in your head. Even when you’re not facing your rabbi, your rabbi’s face might be in your head. We are porous (in the traditional view). We’re not buffered autonomous strategic agents driven by our reason (the liberal view).

Everything we do affects us. The online world is as real as any other part of our life. How you conduct yourself online will feed back into your regular life just as how you conduct yourself at work will affect how you speak online.

I have a dozen 12-step sponsees. Even when I am not directly working with them, I carry a sense of them with me through my day. I ask myself before taking an action, “How would my sponsees feel about this? Would this look like recovery to them? Would members of my community see this as a good thing?” I have an infinite ability to fool myself, but fooling a community is more difficult.

Wired: “One value of privacy is that it gives us space to operate without judgment. When we’re using social media, there are often a lot of strangers viewing our content, liking it, commenting on it, and sharing it with their own communities. Any time we post something online, thus exposing a part of who we are, we don’t fully know how we’re being received in the virtual world. Fallon Goodman, an assistant professor of psychology at George Washington University, says not knowing what kind of impression you’re making online can cause stress and anxiety.”

Yes, we all need privacy. Over-sharing is usually maladaptive. There need to be sacred spaces.

Wired: ““When you post a picture, the only real data you get are people’s likes and comments. That’s not necessarily a true indication of what the world feels about your picture or your post,” Goodman says. “Now you’ve put yourself out there—in a semi-permanent way—and you have limited information about how that was received, so you have limited information about the evaluations people are making about you.””

If you live in reality, you’ll likely have a fairly accurate understanding of how your picture was received.

Wired: “we construct our identities through how we’re seen by others. Much of that identity is now formed on the internet, and that can be difficult to grapple with.”

Yes, so you have to pay attention to shifting social norms. What was acceptable to say one year is unacceptable the next year. Also, you need to pay attention to who you value. The five people closest to us are going to be a fairly accurate reflection of ourselves. If you have five people who love you, the opinions of strangers won’t matter as much.

Wired: “This virtual identity is a composition of all of these online interactions that we have. It is a very vulnerable identity because it exists in cyberspace. In a weird kind of way we don’t have control over it. We’re very exposed.”

We’re very exposed off-line as well as online. The world is a more dangerous place than we think. And we’ve never had the power to control what other people think of us. Our reputations do not belong to us because they reside in the minds of others.

Wired: “Without the ability to find out how their identity is ricocheting around the virtual world, people often feel a fight-or-flight response when they’ve been online for many hours—and even after they’ve logged off.”

The more solid your off-line identity, the less vulnerable you’ll be to the opinions of strangers. If you are furiously building a false identity online to feel important, that’s a symptom of a deeper problem — a lack of self.

Wired: “It’s kind of an adapted hyper-vigilance. As soon as you send something out into the virtual world, you’re sort of sitting on pins and needles waiting for a response. That alone—that kind of expectancy—is a state of hyperarousal. How will people respond to this? When will they respond? What will they say?”

The more solid my off-line life, the less I experience this. On the other hand, sometimes I feel apathetic and the easiest way for me to get aroused is to post something. Knowing the dangers of posting online, I’m incentivized to do this carefully. The danger gives me a burst of adrenaline, a shot of power and agency, and I think I usually do more good than harm with these efforts.

Wired: “We are social creatures, and our brains evolved to form communities, communicate with each other, and work together. We have not evolved to expose ourselves to the judgment of the whole world on a daily basis. These things affect everyone differently, but it’s clear many people regularly feel overwhelmed by this exposure level.”

Sometimes we benefit from more exposure and sometimes we benefit from less. Whatever level of exposure you choose, it will come with a price. There’s no right or wrong answer here. There are only trade-offs.

I’ve been blogging since 1997 and livestreaming since 2015. It seems to me that more than 90% of the people I’ve interviewed for my blog have not regretted it, while most people who’ve come on my livestreams would be better off with less exposure, and only a few guests would benefit from more exposure. On the other hand, I notice people are more likely to get into trouble for what they write rather than for what they say on a stream.

I enjoy swimming in the ocean, but it’s not for everyone. I enjoy public speaking, but it’s not for everyone. Most people would happily go their entire lives without ever giving a speech.

Incidentally, most of the time I am online, I am not posting anything. I am just working, learning and enjoying.

The best book I’ve read on this topic is Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality by Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist in Silicon Valley.

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Biden Favors Lawyers Over Economists

From the Washington Post:

The change captures a shift in the party — also spurred by Trump — as Democrats pay more attention to powerful gestures and less to following the intellectuals and policy savants often perceived as out of touch with political currents. In the Obama administration, Summers helped shoot down some of then-Vice President Biden’s proposals to revive manufacturing for blue collar workers that he viewed as likely to prove ineffective, although the two worked together on the same side of the Detroit auto bailout. But critics say there are significant risks to this newer approach, pointing to soaring inflation — which Summers warned of, only to be ignored — as evidence.

“The economists are in a much more reactive position than they were in the Obama administration,” said one senior Biden administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reflect internal dynamics. “They are being told, ‘Here’s what the policy is.’ There may be some flexibility to change things on the edges, but in general, by the time they weigh in, the policy has already been set.”

This article misses the point that Trump didn’t just make gestures for his audience, he created concrete benefits. Real wages for the least educated rose at the most significant rate in 50 years. In 2020, Trump crushed illegal immigration with his remain in Mexico program.

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