Situational Unawareness

Suddenly it's clear not everyone benefitted from the era of Hope and Change. The Washington Post reports that "for the first time in more than two decades, life expectancy for Americans declined last year". Princeton economist Anne Case said  “this is singular. This doesn’t happen."

Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death. ... Death rates rose for white men, white women and black men. They stayed essentially even for black women and Hispanic men and women. ...

"This doesn’t happen." But it did happen and inconveniently coincided with president Obama's term of office.  It was not the only disappointment in the rear view mirror . Suddenly there's news that Afghanistan may be falling, Iran has expanded its missile arsenal, North Korea has viable nuclear missiles,  Assad has come back from political death and is poised to wipe out US backed rebels in Aleppo.

The administration in its last days is now providing the press with a list of secret wars.  The president himself the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Tweeted that "on January 20th I will become the first President of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war", without ever once revealing the definite identity of just who America has been at war with.

It is as if the actual contents on the Obama box didn't match the packaging. However it is domestic decline that appears most linked to voter frustration.  Hope turned out to be dope.  The Washington Post noted that that support for Donald Trump was highest in counties with "the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates".  It was the revenge of the despairing.

Hillary lost because people who weren't supposed to be dying registered their defiance at the polls.   Yet the Narrative could not accept the possibility they had miscalculated and continued to talk about "fake news".   The Washington Post,  Hillary Clinton and even Britain's MI6 blamed rumors from little known Internet sources not only for the Democratic defeat but as posing a serious threat to Western Democracy and public order.

Hillary Clinton on Thursday decried the spread of fake news online, calling it an “epidemic” that Congress should take action against.

“The epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year — it’s now clear the so-called fake news can have real-world consequences,” Clinton said during a speech on Capitol Hill. ...

“Lives are at risk — lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days, to do their jobs, contribute to their communities.”

“It’s a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly,” she said.

"Lives are at risk," she intoned.

Indeed they might be, but not for the reason she thinks.  The most dangerous fake news may not be the stuff churned out by Macedonian teenagers but that promulgated by official sources. "China’s statistics chief admits some economic data are false," according to the Financial Times. "Foreign economists and investors have long expressed doubts about China’s economic data. Most prominent are concerns about gross domestic product figures."  The Chinese economic miracle, like Obamacare, the recovery of the last 8 years and "smart foreign policy" may be less impressive than it's cracked up to be.

The possibility that data is being manipulated not only by China but even by the West was raised by the political disasters which met Clinton and Brexit.  After all, they based their strategies on "real news" and that information led them to the crash. How much of what we think is true it fake; what proportion of our portfolio of Hope is real if even Hillary can be fooled?  Just how completely they were snookered is exemplified by Lawrence O'Donnell who genuinely perplexed at Hillary Clinton's loss, argued that America had been steadily going up, up, up when SUDDENLY everyone decided on Nov 8, 2016 to cut their own throats and betray their best interests. He expressed the hope that Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris will restore the electorate to sanity in 2020.

Nowhere does he explain why, if people's lives had indeed been going up, up, up -- in Brexiteer Europe, in Trump America -- voters should have suddenly decided to commit collective hara-kiri unless the world has been seized by madness.  What must have happened was people were in actual despair, reeling under falling incomes but that fact was undetected by the elite until they rudely discovered it via the ballot box.

Following Sherlock's dictum that when you have eliminated the impossible, what remains however improbable must be accepted, the only explanation is that O'Donnell's 'progress', the last 8 years of it at least, was illusory. He had bought into the illusion of gain perhaps because it was consistent with his own.  He relied on it and trusted it and it betrayed him.  In consequence never saw the disaster coming and neither did Hillary.

When the best informed establishment figures wreck their careers by relying on "real news" it raises the possibility that public policy and economic management is based upon a information corrupted by years of political manipulation. It would be like an airline pilot realizing, as he is hurtling down the runway, that the view through the windshield was a  matte painting and not real.  That means the world could potentially be flying blind with jagged terrain just beneath it without anyone knowing how close it is because we have filtered it out.

That is intolerably dangerous. The facts are necessary for safety.  They are necessary for survival.  We must learn how to face the truth again and calculate upon it, however hard and ugly it may be. No more Narratives. Never again should we have Narratives, either of the Left or Right variety.

Follow Wretchard on Twitter


Support the Belmont Club by purchasing from Amazon through the links below.

Books:

The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World, by Abigail Tucker. A lively adventure through history, natural science, and pop culture in search of how cats conquered the world, the Internet, and our hearts.

Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts. This book is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the French publication of Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, allowing us to see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, and surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife, Josephine. Roberts also traveled to fifty-three of Napoleon’s sixty battle sites, discovered crucial new documents in archives, and even made the long trip by boat to St. Helena to produce a biography worthy of its subject.

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company, by Bryce G. Hoffman. The inside story of the epic turnaround of Ford Motor Company under the leadership of CEO Alan Mulally; a book the NYT says "... reads more like a thriller than a business book".

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton. Every page shows how strange and marvelous the world really is. With compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, charts, and maps for every region of the world. Tagged as addictive by readers.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson. Larson captures the sheer drama and emotional power of the sinking of the luxury ocean liner Lusitania during WWI, a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides. In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. This book tells the story of USS Jeannette, an official US naval expedition to reach the Pole by a group of seafarers led by a young officer named George Washington De Long and their desperate and heroic struggle for survival in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.

Tech/Gadgets:

ASUS ZX53VW 15.6" Gaming Laptop NVIDIA GTX 960M 4GB Intel Core i56300HQ 8GB DDR4 512GB SSD

Amazfit Equator Activity + Sleep Tracker

Sphero Star Wars BB-8 App Controlled Robot with Star Wars Force Band


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the Belmont Club