There’s nothing like a glass of cool, clear water to quench one’s thirst. But the next time you or your child reaches for one, you might want to question whether that water is in fact, too toxic to drink. If your water is fluoridated, the answer may well be yes.
For decades, we have been told a lie, a lie that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the weakening of the immune systems of tens of millions more. This lie is called fluoridation. A process we were led to believe was a safe and effective method of protecting teeth from decay is in fact a fraud. For decades it’s been shown that fluoridation is neither essential for good health nor protective of teeth. What it does is poison the body. We should all at this point be asking how and why public health policy and the American media continue to live with and perpetuate this scientific sham.
The Latest in Fluoride News
Today more than ever, evidence of fluoride’s toxicity is entering the public sphere.The summer of 2012 saw the publication of a systematic review and meta-analysis by researchers at Harvard University that explored the link between exposure to fluoride and neurological and cognitive function among children. The report pooled data from over 27 studies- many of them from China- carried out over the course of 22 years. The results, which were published in the journal Environmental Health Sciencesshowed a strong connection between exposure to fluoride in drinking water and decreased IQ scores in children. The team concluded that “the results suggest that fluoride may be a developmental neurotoxicant that affects brain development at exposures much below those that can cause toxicity in adults.” 1
The newest scientific data suggest that the damaging effects of fluoride extend to reproductive health as well. A 2013 study published in the journal Archives of Toxicology showed a link between fluoride exposure and male infertility in mice. The study’s findings suggest that sodium fluoride impairs the ability of sperm cells in mice to normally fertilize the egg through a process known as chemotaxis. 2 This is the latest in more than 60 scientific studies on animals that have identified an association between male infertility and fluoride exposure.3
Adding more fuel to the fluoride controversy is a recent investigative report by NaturalNews exposing how the chemicals used to fluoridate United States’ water systems today are commonly purchased from Chinese chemical plants looking to discard surplus stores of this form of industrial waste. Disturbingly, the report details that some Chinese vendors of fluoride advertise on their website that their product can be used as an “adhesive preservative”, an “insecticide” as well as a” flux for soldering and welding”.4 One Chinese manufacturer, Shanghai Polymet Commodities Ltd,. which produces fluoride destined for municipal water reserves in the United States, notes on their website that their fluoride is “highly corrosive to human skin and harmful to people’s respiratory organs”. 5
The Fluoride Phase Out at Home and Abroad
There are many signs in recent years that indicate growing skepticism over fluoridation. The New York Times reported in October 2011 that in the previous four years, about 200 jurisdictions across the USA moved to cease water fluoridation. A panel composed of scientists and health professionals in Fairbanks, Alaska recently recommended ceasing fluoridation of the county water supply after concluding that the addition of fluoride to already naturally-fluoridated reserves could pose health risks to 700,000 residents. The move to end fluoridation would save the county an estimated $205,000 annually. 6
The city of Portland made headlines in 2013 when it voted down a measure to fluoridate its water supply. The citizens of Portland have rejected introducing the chemical to drinking water on three separate occasions since the 1950’s. Portland remains the largest city in the United States to shun fluoridation.7
The movement against fluoridation has gained traction overseas as well. In 2013, Israel’s Ministry of Health committed to a countrywide phase-out of fluoridation. The decision came after Israel’s Supreme Court deemed the existing health regulations requiring fluoridation to be based on science that is “outdated” and “no longer widely accepted.”8
Also this year, the government of the Australian state of Queensland eliminated $14 million in funding for its state-wide fluoridation campaign. The decision, which was executed by the Liberal National Party (LNP) government, forced local councils to vote on whether or not to introduce fluoride to their water supplies. Less than two months after the decision came down, several communities including the town of Cairns halted fluoridation. As a result, nearly 200,000 Australians will no longer be exposed to fluoride in their drinking water.9
An ever-growing number of institutions and individuals are questioning the wisdom of fluoridation. At the fore of the movement are thousands of scientific authorities and health care professionals who are speaking out about the hazards of this damaging additive. As of November 2013, a group of over 4549 professionals including 361 dentists and 562 medical doctors have added their names to a petition aimed at ending fluoridation started by the Fluoride Action Network. Among the prominent signatories are Nobel Laureate Arvid Carlsson and William Marcus, PhD who served as the chief toxicologist of the EPA Water Division.10
The above sampling of recent news items on fluoride brings into sharp focus just how urgent it is to carry out a critical reassessment of the mass fluoridation campaign that currently affects hundreds of millions of Americans. In order to better understand the massive deception surrounding this toxic chemical, we must look back to the sordid history of how fluoride was first introduced.
How to Market a Toxic Waste
“We would not purposely add arsenic to the water supply. And we would not purposely add lead. But we do add fluoride. The fact is that fluoride is more toxic than lead and just slightly less toxic than arsenic.” 11
These words of Dr. John Yiamouyiannis may come as a shock to you because, if you’re like most Americans, you have positive associations with fluoride. You may envision tooth protection, strong bones, and a government that cares about your dental needs. What you’ve probably never been told is that the fluoride added to drinking water and toothpaste is a crude industrial waste product of the aluminum and fertilizer industries, and a substance toxic enough to be used as rat poison. How is it that Americans have learned to love an environmental hazard? This phenomenon can be attributed to a carefully planned marketing program begun even before Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first community to officially fluoridate its drinking water in 1945. 12 As a result of this ongoing campaign, nearly two-thirds of the nation has enthusiastically followed Grand Rapids’ example. But this push for fluoridation has less to do with a concern for America’s health than with industry’s penchant to expand at the expense of our nation’s well-being.
The first thing you have to understand about fluoride is that it’s the problem child of industry. Its toxicity was recognized at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when, in the 1850s iron and copper factories discharged it into the air and poisoned plants, animals, and people.13 The problem was exacerbated in the 1920s when rapid industrial growth meant massive pollution. Medical writer Joel Griffiths explains that “it was abundantly clear to both industry and government that spectacular U.S. industrial expansion and the economic and military power and vast profits it promised would necessitate releasing millions of tons of waste fluoride into the environment.”14 Their biggest fear was that “if serious injury to people were established, lawsuits alone could prove devastating to companies, while public outcry could force industry-wide government regulations, billions in pollution-control costs, and even mandatory changes in high-fluoride raw materials and profitable technologies.” 15
At first, industry could dispose of fluoride legally only in small amounts by selling it to insecticide and rat poison manufacturers. 16 Then a commercial outlet was devised in the 1930s when a connection was made between water supplies bearing traces of fluoride and lower rates of tooth decay. Griffiths writes that this was not a scientific breakthrough, but rather part of a “public disinformation campaign” by the aluminum industry “to convince the public that fluoride was safe and good.” Industry’s need prompted Alcoa-funded scientist Gerald J. Cox to announce that “The present trend toward complete removal of fluoride from water may need some reversal.” 17 Griffiths writes:
“The big news in Cox’s announcement was that this ‘apparently worthless by-product’ had not only been proved safe (in low doses), but actually beneficial; it might reduce cavities in children. A proposal was in the air to add fluoride to the entire nation’s drinking water. While the dose to each individual would be low, ‘fluoridation’ on a national scale would require the annual addition of hundreds of thousands of tons of fluoride to the country’s drinking water.
“Government and industry especially Alcoa strongly supported intentional water fluoridation… [it] made possible a master public relations stroke one that could keep scientists and the public off fluoride’s case for years to come. If the leaders of dentistry, medicine, and public health could be persuaded to endorse fluoride in the public’s drinking water, proclaiming to the nation that there was a ‘wide margin of safety,’ how were they going to turn around later and say industry’s fluoride pollution was dangerous?
“As for the public, if fluoride could be introduced as a health enhancing substance that should be added to the environment for the children’s sake, those opposing it would look like quacks and lunatics….
“Back at the Mellon Institute, Alcoa’s Pittsburgh Industrial research lab, this news was galvanic. Alcoa-sponsored biochemist Gerald J. Cox immediately fluoridated some lab rats in a study and concluded that fluoride reduced cavities and that ‘The case should be regarded as proved.’ In a historic moment in 1939, the first public proposal that the U.S. should fluoridate its water supplies was made not by a doctor, or dentist, but by Cox, an industry scientist working for a company threatened by fluoride damage claims.” 18
Once the plan was put into action, industry was buoyant. They had finally found the channel for fluoride that they were looking for, and they were even cheered on by dentists, government agencies, and the public. Chemical Week, a publication for the chemical industry, described the tenor of the times: “All over the country, slide rules are getting warm as waterworks engineers figure the cost of adding fluoride to their water supplies.” They are riding a trend urged upon them, by the U.S. Public Health Service, the American Dental Association, the State Dental Health Directors, various state and local health bodies, and vocal women’s clubs from coast to coast. It adds up to a nice piece of business on all sides and many firms are cheering the PHS and similar groups as they plump for increasing adoption of fluoridation.” 19
Such overwhelming acceptance allowed government and industry to proceed hastily, albeit irresponsibly. The Grand Rapids experiment was supposed to take 15 years, during which time health benefits and hazards were to be studied. In 1946, however, just one year into the experiment, six more U.S. cities adopted the process. By 1947, 87 more communities were treated; popular demand was the official reason for this unscientific haste.
The general public and its leaders did support the cause, but only after a massive government public relations campaign spearheaded by Edward L. Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud. Bernays, a public relations pioneer who has been called “the original spin doctor,” 20 was a masterful PR strategist. As a result of his influence, Griffiths writes, “Almost overnight…the popular image of fluoride which at the time was being widely sold as rat and bug poison became that of a beneficial provider of gleaming smiles, absolutely safe, and good for children, bestowed by a benevolent paternal government. Its opponents were permanently engraved on the public mind as crackpots and right-wing loonies.” 21
Griffiths explains that while opposition to fluoridation is usually associated with right-wingers, this picture is not totally accurate. He provides an interesting historical perspective on the anti-fluoridation stance:
“Fluoridation attracted opponents from every point on the continuum of politics and sanity. The prospect of the government mass-medicating the water supplies with a well-known rat poison to prevent a nonlethal disease flipped the switches of delusionals across the country as well as generating concern among responsible scientists, doctors, and citizens.
“Moreover, by a fortuitous twist of circumstances, fluoride’s natural opponents on the left were alienated from the rest of the opposition. Oscar Ewing, a Federal Security Agency administrator, was a Truman “fair dealer” who pushed many progressive programs such as nationalized medicine. Fluoridation was lumped with his proposals. Inevitably, it was attacked by conservatives as a manifestation of “creeping socialism,” while the left rallied to its support. Later during the McCarthy era, the left was further alienated from the opposition when extreme right-wing groups, including the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan, raved that fluoridation was a plot by the Soviet Union and/or communists in the government to poison America’s brain cells.
“It was a simple task for promoters, under the guidance of the ‘original spin doctor,’ to paint all opponents as deranged and they played this angle to the hilt….
“Actually, many of the strongest opponents originally started out as proponents, but changed their minds after a close look at the evidence. And many opponents came to view fluoridation not as a communist plot, but simply as a capitalist-style con job of epic proportions. Some could be termed early environmentalists, such as the physicians George L. Waldbott and Frederick B. Exner, who first documented government-industry complicity in hiding the hazards of fluoride pollution from the public. Waldbott and Exner risked their careers in a clash with fluoride defenders, only to see their cause buried in toothpaste ads.” 22
By 1950, fluoridation’s image was a sterling one, and there was not much science could do at this point. The Public Health Service was fluoridation’s main source of funding as well as its promoter, and therefore caught in a fundamental conflict of interest. 12 If fluoridation were found to be unsafe and ineffective, and laws were repealed, the organization feared a loss of face, since scientists, politicians, dental groups, and physicians unanimously supported it. 23 For this reason, studies concerning its effects were not undertaken. The Oakland Tribune noted this when it stated that “public health officials have often suppressed scientific doubts” about fluoridation.24 Waldbott sums up the situation when he says that from the beginning, the controversy over fluoridating water supplies was “a political, not a scientific health issue.”25
The marketing of fluoride continues. In a 1983 letter from the Environmental Protection Agency, then Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, Rebecca Hammer, writes that the EPA “regards [fluoridation] as an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them.” 26 A 1992 policy statement from the Department of Health and Human Services says, “A recent comprehensive PHS review of the benefits and potential health risks of fluoride has concluded that the practice of fluoridating community water supplies is safe and effective.” 27
According to the CDC website, about 200 million Americans in 16,500 communities are exposed to fluoridated water. Out of the 50 largest cities in the US, 43 have fluoridated water. 28
To help celebrate fluoride’s widespread use, the media recently reported on the 50th anniversary of fluoridation in Grand Rapids. Newspaper articles titled “Fluoridation: a shining public health success” 29 and “After 50 years, fluoride still works with a smile” 30 painted glowing pictures of the practice. Had investigators looked more closely, though, they might have learned that children in Muskegon, Michigan, an unfluoridated “control” city, had equal drops in dental decay. They might also have learned of the other studies that dispute the supposed wonders of fluoride.
The Fluoride Myth Doesn’t Hold Water
The big hope for fluoride was its ability to immunize children’s developing teeth against cavities. Rates of dental caries were supposed to plummet in areas where water was treated. Yet decades of experience and worldwide research have contradicted this expectation numerous times. Here are just a few examples:
In British Columbia, only 11% of the population drinks fluoridated water, as opposed to 40-70% in other Canadian regions. Yet British Columbia has the lowest rate of tooth decay in Canada. In addition, the lowest rates of dental caries within the province are found in areas that do not have their water supplies fluoridated. 31
According to a Sierra Club study, people in unfluoridated developing nations have fewer dental caries than those living in industrialized nations. As a result, they conclude that “fluoride is not essential to dental health.” 32
In 1986-87, the largest study on fluoridation and tooth decay ever was performed. The subjects were 39,000 school children between 5 and 17 living in 84 areas around the country. A third of the places were fluoridated, a third were partially fluoridated, and a third were not. Results indicate no statistically significant differences in dental decay between fluoridated and unfluoridated cities. 33
A World Health Organization survey reports a decline of dental decay in western Europe, which is 98% unfluoridated. They state that western Europe’s declining dental decay rates are equal to and sometimes better than those in the U.S. 34
A 1992 University of Arizona study yielded surprising results when they found that “the more fluoride a child drinks, the more cavities appear in the teeth.” 35
Although all Native American reservations are fluoridated, children living there have much higher incidences of dental decay and other oral health problems than do children living in other U.S. communities. 36
In light of all the evidence, fluoride proponents now make more modest claims. For example, in 1988, the ADA professed that a 40- to 60% cavity reduction could be achieved with the help of fluoride. Now they claim an 18- to 25% reduction. Other promoters mention a 12% decline in tooth decay.
And some former supporters are even beginning to question the need for fluoridation altogether. In 1990, a National Institute for Dental Research report stated that “it is likely that if caries in children remain at low levels or decline further, the necessity of continuing the current variety and extent of fluoride-based prevention programs will be questioned.” 37
Most government agencies, however, continue to ignore the scientific evidence and to market fluoridation by making fictional claims about its benefits and pushing for its expansion. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “National surveys of oral health dating back several decades document continuing decreases in tooth decay in children, adults and senior citizens. Nevertheless, there are parts of the country and particular populations that remain without protection. For these reasons, the U.S. PHS…has set a national goal for the year 2000 that 75% of persons served by community water systems will have access to optimally fluoridated drinking water; currently this figure is just about 60%. The year 2000 target goal is both desirable and yet challenging, based on past progress and continuing evidence of effectiveness and safety of this public health measure.” 38
This statement is flawed on several accounts. First, as we’ve seen, research does not support the effectiveness of fluoridation for preventing tooth disease. Second, purported benefits are supposedly for children, not adults and senior citizens. At about age 13, any advantage fluoridation might offer comes to an end, and less than 1% of the fluoridated water supply reaches this population. And third, fluoridation has never been proven safe. On the contrary, several studies directly link fluoridation to skeletal fluorosis, dental fluorosis, and several rare forms of cancer. This alone should frighten us away from its use.
Biological Safety Concerns
Only a small margin separates supposedly beneficial fluoride levels from amounts that are known to cause adverse effects. Dr. James Patrick, a former antibiotics research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, describes the predicament:
“[There is] a very low margin of safety involved in fluoridating water. A concentration of about 1 ppm is recommended…in several countries, severe fluorosis has been documented from water supplies containing only 2 or 3 ppm. In the development of drugs…we generally insist on a therapeutic index (margin of safety) of the order of 100; a therapeutic index of 2 or 3 is totally unacceptable, yet that is what has been proposed for public water supplies.”39
Other countries argue that even 1 ppm is not a safe concentration. Canadian studies, for example, imply that children under three should have no fluoride whatsoever. The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association states that “Fluoride supplements should not be recommended for children less than 3 years old.” 40 Since these supplements contain the same amount of fluoride as water does, they are basically saying that children under the age of three shouldn’t be drinking fluoridated water at all, under any circumstances. Japan has reduced the amount of fluoride in their drinking water to one-eighth of what is recommended in the U.S. Instead of 1 milligram per liter, they use less than 15 hundredths of a milligram per liter as the upper limit allowed. 41
Even supposing that low concentrations are safe, there is no way to control how much fluoride different people consume, as some take in a lot more than others. For example, laborers, athletes, diabetics, and those living in hot or dry regions can all be expected to drink more water, and therefore more fluoride (in fluoridated areas) than others. 42 Due to such wide variations in water consumption, it is impossible to scientifically control what dosage of fluoride a person receives via the water supply.43
Another concern is that fluoride is not found only in drinking water; it is everywhere. Fluoride is found in foods that are processed with it, which, in the United States, include nearly all bottled drinks and canned foods. 44 Researchers writing in The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry have found that fruit juices, in particular, contain significant amounts of fluoride. In one study, a variety of popular juices and juice blends were analyzed and it was discovered that 42% of the samples examined had more than l ppm of fluoride, with some brands of grape juice containing much higher levels up to 6.8 ppm! The authors cite the common practice of using fluoride-containing insecticide in growing grapes as a factor in these high levels, and they suggest that the fluoride content of beverages be printed on their labels, as is other nutritional information. 45 Considering how much juice some children ingest, and the fact that youngsters often insist on particular brands that they consume day after day, labeling seems like a prudent idea. But beyond this is the larger issue that this study brings up: Is it wise to subject children and others who are heavy juice drinkers to additional fluoride in their water?
Here’s a little-publicized reality: Cooking can greatly increase a food’s fluoride content. Peas, for example, contain 12 micrograms of fluoride when raw and 1500 micrograms after they are cooked in fluoridated water, which is a tremendous difference. Also, we should keep in mind that fluoride is an ingredient in pharmaceuticals, aerosols, insecticides, and pesticides.
And of course, toothpastes. It’s interesting to note that in the 1950s, fluoridated toothpastes were required to carry warnings on their labels saying that they were not to be used in areas where water was already fluoridated. Crest toothpaste went so far as to write: “Caution: Children under 6 should not use Crest.” These regulations were dropped in 1958, although no new research was available to prove that the overdose hazard no longer existed. 46
Today, common fluoride levels in toothpaste are 1000 ppm. Research chemist Woodfun Ligon notes that swallowing a small amount adds substantially to fluoride intake. 47 Dentists say that children commonly ingest up to 0.5 mg of fluoride a day from toothpaste. 48
This inevitably raises another issue: How safe is all this fluoride? According to scientists and informed doctors, such as Dr. John Lee, it is not safe at all. Dr. Lee first took an anti-fluoridation stance back in 1972, when as chairman of an environmental health committee for a local medical society, he was asked to state their position on the subject. He stated that after investigating the references given by both pro- and anti-fluoridationists, the group discovered three important things:
“One, the claims of benefit of fluoride, the 60% reduction of cavities, was not established by any of these studies. Two, we found that the investigations into the toxic side effects of fluoride have not been done in any way that was acceptable. And three, we discovered that the estimate of the amount of fluoride in the food chain, in the total daily fluoride intake, had been measured in 1943, and not since then. By adding the amount of fluoride that we now have in the food chain, which comes from food processing with fluoridated water, plus all the fluoridated toothpaste that was not present in 1943, we found that the daily intake of fluoride was far in excess of what was considered optimal.” 49
What happens when fluoride intake exceeds the optimal? The inescapable fact is that this substance has been associated with severe health problems, ranging from skeletal and dental fluorosis to bone fractures, to fluoride poisoning, and even to cancer.
When fluoride is ingested, approximately 93% of it is absorbed into the bloodstream. A good part of the material is excreted, but the rest is deposited in the bones and teeth, and is capable of causing a crippling skeletal fluorosis. This is a condition that can damage the musculoskeletal and nervous systems and result in muscle wasting, limited joint motion, spine deformities, and calcification of the ligaments, as well as neurological deficits.
Large numbers of people in Japan, China, India, the Middle East, and Africa have been diagnosed with skeletal fluorosis from drinking naturally fluoridated water. In India alone, nearly a million people suffer from the affliction. 39 While only a dozen cases of skeletal fluorosis have been reported in the United States, Chemical and Engineering News states that “critics of the EPA standard speculate that there probably have been many more cases of fluorosis even crippling fluorosis than the few reported in the literature because most doctors in the U.S. have not studied the disease and do not know how to diagnose it.” 50
Radiologic changes in bone occur when fluoride exposure is 5 mg/day, according to the late Dr. George Waldbott, author of Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma. While this 5 mg/day level is the amount of fluoride ingested by most people living in fluoridated areas, 51 the number increases for diabetics and laborers, who can ingest up to 20 mg of fluoride daily. In addition, a survey conducted by the Department of Agriculture shows that 3% of the U.S. population drinks 4 liters or more of water every day. If these individuals live in areas where the water contains a fluoride level of 4 ppm, allowed by the EPA, they are ingesting 16 mg/day from the consumption of water alone, and are thus at greater risk for getting skeletal fluorosis. 52
According to a 1989 National Institute for Dental Research study, 1-2% of children living in areas fluoridated at 1 ppm develop dental fluorosis, that is, permanently stained, brown mottled teeth. Up to 23% of children living in areas naturally fluoridated at 4 ppm develop severe dental fluorosis. 53 Other research gives higher figures. The publication Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride, put out by the National Academy of Sciences, reports that in areas with optimally fluoridated water (1 ppm, either natural or added), dental fluorosis levels in recent years ranged from 8 to 51%. Recently, a prevalence of slightly over 80% was reported in children 12-14 years old in Augusta, Georgia.
Fluoride is a noteworthy chemical additive in that its officially acknowledged benefit and damage levels are about the same. Writing in The Progressive, science journalist Daniel Grossman elucidates this point: “Though many beneficial chemicals are dangerous when consumed at excessive levels, fluoride is unique because the amount that dentists recommend to prevent cavities is about the same as the amount that causes dental fluorosis.” 54 Although the American Dental Association and the government consider dental fluorosis only a cosmetic problem, the American Journal of Public Health says that “…brittleness of moderately and severely mottled teeth may be associated with elevated caries levels.” 45 In other words, in these cases the fluoride is causing the exact problem that it’s supposed to prevent. Yiamouyiannis adds, “In highly naturally-fluoridated areas, the teeth actually crumble as a result. These are the first visible symptoms of fluoride poisoning.” 55
Also, when considering dental fluorosis, there are factors beyond the physical that you can’t ignore the negative psychological effects of having moderately to severely mottled teeth. These were recognized in a 1984 National Institute of Mental Health panel that looked into this problem.
A telling trend is that TV commercials for toothpaste, and toothpaste tubes themselves, are now downplaying fluoride content as a virtue. This was noted in an article in the Sarasota/Florida ECO Report, 56 whose author, George Glasser, feels that manufacturers are distancing themselves from the additive because of fears of lawsuits. The climate is ripe for these, and Glasser points out that such a class action suit has already been filed in England against the manufacturers of fluoride-containing products on behalf of children suffering from dental fluorosis.
At one time, fluoride therapy was recommended for building denser bones and preventing fractures associated with osteoporosis. Now several articles in peer-reviewed journals suggest that fluoride actually causes more harm than good, as it is associated with bone breakage. Three studies reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed links between hip fractures and fluoride. 575859 Findings here were, for instance, that there is “a small but significant increase in the risk of hip fractures in both men and women exposed to artificial fluoridation at 1 ppm.” In addition, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that people given fluoride to cure their osteoporosis actually wound up with an increased nonvertebral fracture rate. 60 Austrian researchers have also found that fluoride tablets make bones more susceptible to fractures.61 The U.S. National Research Council states that the U.S. hip fracture rate is now the highest in the world. 62
Louis V. Avioli, professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, says in a 1987 review of the subject: “Sodium fluoride therapy is accompanied by so many medical complications and side effects that it is hardly worth exploring in depth as a therapeutic mode for postmenopausal osteoporosis, since it fails to decrease the propensity for hip fractures and increases the incidence of stress fractures in the extremities.” 63
In May 1992, 260 people were poisoned, and one man died, in Hooper Bay, Alaska, after drinking water contaminated with 150 ppm of fluoride. The accident was attributed to poor equipment and an unqualified operator. 55 Was this a fluke? Not at all. Over the years, the CDC has recorded several incidents of excessive fluoride permeating the water supply and sickening or killing people. We don’t usually hear about these occurrences in news reports, but interested citizens have learned the truth from data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Here is a partial list of toxic spills we have not been told about:
July 1993 Chicago, Illinois: Three dialysis patients died and five experienced toxic reactions to the fluoridated water used in the treatment process. The CDC was asked to investigate, but to date there have been no press releases.
May 1993 Kodiak, Alaska (Old Harbor): The population was warned not to consume water due to high fluoride levels. They were also cautioned against boiling the water, since this concentrates the substance and worsens the danger. Although equipment appeared to be functioning normally, 22-24 ppm of fluoride was found in a sample.
July 1992 Marin County, California: A pump malfunction allowed too much fluoride into the Bon Tempe treatment plant. Two million gallons of fluoridated water were diverted to Phoenix Lake, elevating the lake surface by more than two inches and forcing some water over the spillway.
December 1991 Benton Harbor, Michigan: A faulty pump allowed approximately 900 gallons of hydrofluosilicic acid to leak into a chemical storage building at the water plant. City engineer Roland Klockow stated, “The concentrated hydrofluosilicic acid was so corrosive that it ate through more than two inches of concrete in the storage building.” This water did not reach water consumers, but fluoridation was stopped until June 1993. The original equipment was only two years old.
July 1991 Porgate, Michigan: After a fluoride injector pump failed, fluoride levels reached 92 ppm and resulted in approximately 40 children developing abdominal pains, sickness, vomiting, and diarrhea at a school arts and crafts show.
November 1979 Annapolis, Maryland: One patient died and eight became ill after renal dialysis treatment. Symptoms included cardiac arrest (resuscitated), hypotension, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a whole gamut of intestinal problems. Patients not on dialysis also reported nausea, headaches, cramps, diarrhea, and dizziness. The fluoride level was later found to be 35 ppm; the problem was traced to a valve at a water plant that had been left open all night. 64
Instead of addressing fluoridation’s problematic safety record, officials have chosen to cover it up. For example, the ADA says in one booklet distributed to health agencies that “Fluoride feeders are designed to stop operating when a malfunction occurs… so prolonged over-fluoridation becomes a mechanical impossibility.” In addition, the information that does reach the population after an accident is woefully inaccurate. A spill in Annapolis, Maryland, placed thousands at risk, but official reports reduced the number to eight. 65 Perhaps officials are afraid they will invite more lawsuits like the one for $480 million by the wife of a dialysis patient who became brain-injured as the result of fluoride poisoning.
Not all fluoride poisoning is accidental. For decades, industry has knowingly released massive quantities of fluoride into the air and water. Disenfranchised communities, with people least able to fight back, are often the victims. Medical writer Joel Griffiths relays this description of what industrial pollution can do, in this case to a devastatingly poisoned Indian reservation:
“Cows crawled around the pasture on their bellies, inching along like giant snails. So crippled by bone disease they could not stand up, this was the only way they could graze. Some died kneeling, after giving birth to stunted calves. Others kept on crawling until, no longer able to chew because their teeth had crumbled down to the nerves, they began to starve….” They were the cattle of the Mohawk Indians on the New York-Canadian St. Regis Reservation during the period 1960-1975, when industrial pollution devastated the herd and along with it, the Mohawks’ way of life….Mohawk children, too, have shown signs of damage to bones and teeth.” 66
Mohawks filed suit against the Reynolds Metals Company and the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in 1960, but ended up settling out of court, where they received $650,000 for their cows. 67
Fluoride is one of industry’s major pollutants, and no one remains immune to its effects. In 1989, 155,000 tons were being released annually into the air, and 500,000 tons a year were disposed of in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. 68
Numerous studies demonstrate links between fluoridation and cancer; however, agencies promoting fluoride consistently refute or cover up these findings.
In 1977, Dr. John Yiamouyiannis and Dr. Dean Burk, former chief chemist at the National Cancer Institute, released a study that linked fluoridation to 10,000 cancer deaths per year in the U.S. Their inquiry, which compared cancer deaths in the ten largest fluoridated American cities to those in the ten largest unfluoridated cities between 1940 and 1950, discovered a 5% greater rate in the fluoridated areas. 69 The NCI disputed these findings, since an earlier analysis of theirs apparently failed to pick up these extra deaths. Federal authorities claimed that Yiamouyiannis and Burk were in error, and that any increase was caused by statistical changes over the years in age, gender, and racial composition. 70
In order to settle the question of whether or not fluoride is a carcinogen, a Congressional subcommittee instructed the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to perform another investigation. 71 That study, due in 1980, was not released until 1990. However, in 1986, while the study was delayed, the EPA raised the standard fluoride level in drinking water from 2.4 to 4 ppm. 72 After this step, some of the government’s own employees in NFFE Local 2050 took what the Oakland Tribune termed the “remarkable step of denouncing that action as political.” 73
When the NTP study results became known in early 1990, union president Dr. Robert Carton, who works in the EPA’s Toxic Substances Division, published a statement. It read, in part: “Four years ago, NFFE Local 2050, which represents all 1100 professionals at EPA headquarters, alerted then Administrator Lee Thomas to the fact that the scientific support documents for the fluoride in drinking water standard were fatally flawed. The fluoride juggernaut proceeded as it apparently had for the last 40 years without any regard for the facts or concern for public health.
“EPA raised the allowed level of fluoride before the results of the rat/mouse study ordered by Congress in 1977 was complete. Today, we find out how irresponsible that decision was. The results reported by NTP, and explained today by Dr. Yiamouyiannis, are, as he notes, not surprising considering the vast amount of data that caused the animal study to be conducted in the first place. The results are not surprising to NFFE Local 2050 either. Four years ago we realized that the claim that there was no evidence that fluoride could cause genetic effects or cancer could not be supported by the shoddy document thrown together by the EPA contractor.
“It was apparent to us that EPA bowed to political pressure without having done an in-depth, independent analysis, using in-house experts, of the currently existing data that show fluoride causes genetic effects, promotes the growth of cancerous tissue, and is likely to cause cancer in humans. If EPA had done so, it would have been readily apparent as it was to Congress in 1977 that there were serious reasons to believe in a cancer threat.
“The behavior by EPA in this affair raises questions about the integrity of science at EPA and the role of professional scientists, lawyers and engineers who provide the interpretation of the available data and the judgements necessary to protect the public health and the environment. Are scientists at EPA there to arrange facts to fit preconceived conclusions? Does the Agency have a responsibility to develop world-class experts in the risks posed by chemicals we are exposed to every day, or is it permissible for EPA to cynically shop around for contractors who will provide them the ‘correct’ answers?” 74
What were the NTP study results? Out of 130 male rats that ingested 45 to 79 ppm of fluoride, 5 developed osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. There were cases, in both males and females at those doses, of squamous cell carcinoma in the mouth. 75 Both rats and mice had dose-related fluorosis of the teeth, and female rats suffered osteosclerosis of the long bones.76
When Yiamouyiannis analyzed the same data, he found mice with a particularly rare form of liver cancer, known as hepatocholangiocarcinoma. This cancer is so rare, according to Yiamouyiannis, that the odds of its appearance in this study by chance are 1 in 2 million in male mice and l in 100,000 in female mice. He also found precancerous changes in oral squamous cells, an increase in squamous cell tumors and cancers, and thyroid follicular cell tumors as a result of increasing levels of fluoride in drinking water. 77
A March 13, 1990, New York Times article commented on the NTP findings: “Previous animal tests suggesting that water fluoridation might pose risks to humans have been widely discounted as technically flawed, but the latest investigation carefully weeded out sources of experimental or statistical error, many scientists say, and cannot be discounted.” 78 In the same article, biologist Dr. Edward Groth notes: “The importance of this study…is that it is the first fluoride bioassay giving positive results in which the latest state-of-the-art procedures have been rigorously applied. It has to be taken seriously.” 71
On February 22, 1990, the Medical Tribune, an international medical news weekly received by 125,000 doctors, offered the opinion of a federal scientist who preferred to remain anonymous:
“It is difficult to see how EPA can fail to regulate fluoride as a carcinogen in light of what NTP has found. Osteosarcomas are an extremely unusual result in rat carcinogenicity tests. Toxicologists tell me that the only other substance that has produced this is radium….The fact that this is a highly atypical form of cancer implicates fluoride as the cause. Also, the osteosarcomas appeared to be dose-related, and did not occur in controls, making it a clean study.” 79
Public health officials were quick to assure a concerned public that there was nothing to worry about! The ADA said the occurrence of cancers in the lab may not be relevant to humans since the level of fluoridation in the experimental animals’ water was so high. 80 But the Federal Register, which is the handbook of government practices, disagrees: “The high exposure of experimental animals to toxic agents is a necessary and valid method of discovering possible carcinogenic hazards in man. To disavow the findings of this test would be to disavow those of all such tests, since they are all conducted according to this standard.” 73 As a February 5, 1990, Newsweek article pointed out, “such megadosing is standard toxicological practice. It’s the only way to detect an effect without using an impossibly large number of test animals to stand in for the humans exposed to the substance.” 81 And as the Safer Water Foundation explains, higher doses are generally administered to test animals to compensate for the animals’ shorter life span and because humans are generally more vulnerable than test animals on a body-weight basis. 82
Several other studies link fluoride to genetic damage and cancer. An article in Mutation Research says that a study by Proctor and Gamble, the very company that makes Crest toothpaste, did research showing that 1 ppm fluoride causes genetic damage.83 Results were never published but Proctor and Gamble called them “clean,” meaning animals were supposedly free of malignant tumors. Not so, according to scientists who believe some of the changes observed in test animals could be interpreted as precancerous. 84 Yiamouyiannis says the Public Health Service sat on the data, which were finally released via a Freedom of Information Act request in 1989. “Since they are biased, they have tried to cover up harmful effects,” he says. “But the data speaks for itself. Half the amount of fluoride that is found in the New York City drinking water causes genetic damage.” 46
A National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences publication, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, also linked fluoride to genetic toxicity when it stated that “in cultured human and rodent cells, the weight of evidence leads to the conclusion that fluoride exposure results in increased chromosome aberrations.” 85 The result of this is not only birth defects but the mutation of normal cells into cancer cells. The Journal of Carcinogenesis further states that “fluoride not only has the ability to transform normal cells into cancer cells but also to enhance the cancer-causing properties of other chemicals.” 86
Surprisingly, the PHS put out a report called Review of fluoride: benefits and risks, in which they showed a substantially higher incidence of bone cancer in young men exposed to fluoridated water compared to those who were not. The New Jersey Department of Health also found that the risk of bone cancer was about three times as high in fluoridated areas as in nonfluoridated areas. 87
Despite cover-up attempts, the light of knowledge is filtering through to some enlightened scientists. Regarding animal test results, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, James Huff, does say that “the reason these animals got a few osteosarcomas was because they were given fluoride…Bone is the target organ for fluoride.” Toxicologist William Marcus adds that “fluoride is a carcinogen by any standard we use. I believe EPA should act immediately to protect the public, not just on the cancer data, but on the evidence of bone fractures, arthritis, mutagenicity, and other effects.” 88
The Challenge of Eliminating Fluoride
Given all the scientific challenges to the idea of the safety of fluoride, why does it remain a protected contaminant? As Susan Pare of the Center for Health Action asks, “…even if fluoride in the water did reduce tooth decay, which it does not, how can the EPA allow a substance more toxic than Alar, red dye #3, and vinyl chloride to be injected purposely into drinking water?” 89
This is certainly a logical question and, with all the good science that seems to exist on the subject, you would think that there would be a great deal of interest in getting fluoride out of our water supply. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. As Dr. William Marcus, a senior science advisor in the EPA’s Office of Drinking Water, has found, the top governmental priority has been to sweep the facts under the rug and, if need be, to suppress truth-tellers. Marcus explains 90 that fluoride is one of the chemicals the EPA specifically regulates, and that he was following the data coming in on fluoride very carefully when a determination was going to be made on whether the levels should be changed. He discovered that the data were not being heeded. But that was only the beginning of the story for him. Marcus recounts what happened:
“The studies that were done by Botel Northwest showed that there was an increased level of bone cancer and other types of cancer in animals….in that same study, there were very rare liver cancers, according to the board-certified veterinary pathologists at the contractor, Botel. Those really were very upsetting because they were hepatocholangeal carcinomas, very rare liver cancers….Then there were several other kinds of cancers that were found in the jaw and other places.
“I felt at that time that the reports were alarming. They showed that the levels of fluoride that can cause cancers in animals are actually lower than those levels ingested in people (who take lower amounts but for longer periods of time).
“I went to a meeting that was held in Research Triangle Park, in April 1990, in which the National Toxicology Program was presenting their review of the study. I went with several colleagues of mine, one of whom was a board-certified veterinary pathologist who originally reported hepatocholangeal carcinoma as a separate entity in rats and mice. I asked him if he would look at the slides to see if that really was a tumor or if the pathologists at Botel had made an error. He told me after looking at the slides that, in fact, it was correct.
“At the meeting, every one of the cancers reported by the contractor had been downgraded by the National Toxicology Program. I have been in the toxicology business looking at studies of this nature for nearly 25 years and I have never before seen every single cancer endpoint downgraded…. I found that very suspicious and went to see an investigator in the Congress at the suggestion of my friend, Bob Carton. This gentleman and his staff investigated very thoroughly and found out that the scientists at the National Toxicology Program down at Research Triangle Park had been coerced by their superiors to change their findings.”91
Once Dr. Marcus acted on his findings, something ominous started to happen in his life: “…I wrote an internal memorandum and gave it to my supervisors. I waited for a month without hearing anything. Usually, you get a feedback in a week or so. I wrote another memorandum to a person who was my second-line supervisor explaining that if there was even a slight chance of increased cancer in the general population, since 140 million people were potentially ingesting this material, that the deaths could be in the many thousands. Then I gave a copy of the memorandum to the Fluoride Work Group, who waited some time and then released it to the press.
“Once it got into the press all sorts of things started happening at EPA. I was getting disciplinary threats, being isolated, and all kinds of things which ultimately resulted in them firing me on March 15, 1992.”
In order to be reinstated at work, Dr. Marcus took his case to court. In the process, he learned that the government had engaged in various illegal activities, including 70 felony counts, in order to get him fired. At the same time, those who committed perjury were not held accountable for it. In fact, they were rewarded for their efforts:
“When we finally got the EPA to the courtroom…they admitted to doing several things to get me fired. We had notes of a meeting…that showed that fluoride was one of the main topics discussed and that it was agreed that they would fire me with the help of the Inspector General. When we got them on the stand and showed them the memoranda, they finally remembered and said, oh yes, we lied about that in our previous statements.
“Then…they admitted to shredding more than 70 documents that they had in hand Freedom of Information requests. That’s a felony…. In addition, they charged me with stealing time from the government. They…tried to show…that I had been doing private work on government time and getting paid for it. When we came to court, I was able to show that the time cards they produced were forged, and forged by the Inspector General’s staff….”
For all his efforts, Dr. Marcus was rehired, but nothing else has changed: “The EPA was ordered to rehire me, which they did. They were given a whole series of requirements to be met, such as paying me my back pay, restoring my leave, privileges, and sick leave and annual leave. The only thing they’ve done is put me back to work. They haven’t given me any of those things that they were required to do.”92
What is at the core of such ruthless tactics? John Yiamouyiannis feels that the central concern of government is to protect industry, and that the motivating force behind fluoride use is the need of certain businesses to dump their toxic waste products somewhere. They try to be inconspicuous in the disposal process and not make waves. “As is normal, the solution to pollution is dilution. You poison everyone a little bit rather than poison a few people a lot. This way, people don’t know what’s going on.”
Since the Public Health Service has promoted the fluoride myth for over 50 years, they’re concerned about protecting their reputation. So scientists like Dr. Marcus, who know about the dangers, are intimidated into keeping silent. Otherwise, they jeopardize their careers. Dr. John Lee elaborates: “Back in 1943, the PHS staked their professional careers on the benefits and safety of fluoride. It has since become bureaucratized. Any public health official who criticizes fluoride, or even hints that perhaps it was an unwise decision, is at risk of losing his career entirely. This has happened time and time again. Public health officials such as Dr. Gray in British Columbia and Dr. Colquhoun in New Zealand found no benefit from fluoridation. When they reported these results, they immediately lost their careers…. This is what happens the public health officials who speak out against fluoride are at great risk of losing their careers on the spot.”
Yiamouyiannis adds that for the authorities to admit that they’re wrong would be devastating. “It would show that their reputations really don’t mean that much…. They don’t have the scientific background. As Ralph Nader once said, if they admit they’re wrong on fluoridation, people would ask, and legitimately so, what else have they not told us right?”
Accompanying a loss in status would be a tremendous loss in revenue. Yiamouyiannis points out that “the indiscriminate careless handling of fluoride has a lot of companies, such as Exxon, U.S. Steel, and Alcoa, making tens of billions of dollars in extra profits at our expense…. For them to go ahead now and admit that this is bad, this presents a problem, a threat, would mean tens of billions of dollars in lost profit because they would have to handle fluoride properly. Fluoride is present in everything from phosphate fertilizers to cracking agents for the petroleum industry.”
Fluoride could only be legally disposed of at a great cost to industry. As Dr. Bill Marcus explains, “There are prescribed methods for disposal and they’re very expensive. Fluoride is a very potent poison. It’s a registered pesticide, used for killing rats or mice…. If it were to be disposed of, it would require a class-one landfill. That would cost the people who are producing aluminum or fertilizer about $7000+ per 5000- to 6000-gallon truckload to dispose of it. It’s highly corrosive.”
Another problem is that the U.S. judicial system, even when convinced of the dangers, is powerless to change policy. Yiamouyiannis tells of his involvement in court cases in Pennsylvania and Texas in which, while the judges were convinced that fluoride was a health hazard, they did not have the jurisdiction to grant relief from fluoridation. That would have to be done, it was ultimately found, through the legislative process. Interestingly, the judiciary seems to have more power to effect change in other countries. Yiamouyiannis states that when he presented the same technical evidence in Scotland, the Scottish court outlawed fluoridation based on the evidence.
Indeed, most of Western Europe has rejected fluoridation on the grounds that it is unsafe. In 1971, after 11 years of testing, Sweden’s Nobel Medical Institute recommended against fluoridation, and the process was banned.93 The Netherlands outlawed the practice in 1976, after 23 years of tests. France decided against it after consulting with its Pasteur Institute64 and West Germany, now Germany, rejected the practice because the recommended dosage of 1 ppm was “too close to the dose at which long-term damage to the human body is to be expected.” 84 Dr. Lee sums it up: “All of western Europe, except one or two test towns in Spain, has abandoned fluoride as a public health plan. It is not put in the water anywhere. They all established test cities and found that the benefits did not occur and the toxicity was evident.”94
Isn’t it time the United States followed Western Europe’s example? While the answer is obvious, it is also apparent that government policy is unlikely to change without public support. We therefore must communicate with legislators, and insist on one of our most precious resources pure, unadulterated drinking water. Yiamouyiannis urges all American people to do so, pointing out that public pressure has gotten fluoride out of the water in places like Los Angeles; Newark and Jersey City in New Jersey; and 95Bedford, Massachusetts. 46 He emphasizes the immediacy of the problem: “There is no question with regard to fluoridation of public water supplies. It is absolutely unsafe…and should be stopped immediately. This is causing more destruction to human health than any other single substance added purposely or inadvertently to the water supply. We’re talking about 35,000 excess deaths a year…10,000 cancer deaths a year…130 million people who are being chronically poisoned. We’re not talking about dropping dead after drinking a glass of fluoridated water…. It takes its toll on human health and life, glass after glass.” 96
There is also a moral issue in the debate that has largely escaped notice. According to columnist James Kilpatrick, it is “the right of each person to control the drugs he or she takes.” Kilpatrick calls fluoridation compulsory mass medication, a procedure that violates the principles of medical ethics. 97 A New York Times editorial agrees:
“In light of the uncertainty, critics [of fluoridation] argue that administrative bodies are unjustified in imposing fluoridation on communities without obtaining public consent…. The real issue here is not just the scientific debate. The question is whether any establishment has the right to decide that benefits outweigh risks and impose involuntary medication on an entire population. In the case of fluoridation, the dental establishment has made opposition to fluoridation seem intellectually disreputable. Some people regard that as tyranny.” 98
Source: Dr. Gary Null, PhD
What is more frightening, then the loss of your money. Since most people have, some meager amount held in some form of a financial institution, the prospect of the banksters’ cabal placing a charge against your account for the mere privilege of maintaining a deposit, is horrible. The Business Insider warns, In The Future, You May Have To Pay The Bank To Hold Your Money, and raises a very dreadful prospect.
“In recent weeks, economists have discussed the idea of how to implement a negative interest rate while preventing people from hoarding paper currency. Economist Miles Kimball has discussed creating an electronic currency and having an exchange rate between it and dollar bills. Others have discussed going cashless and eliminating paper currency altogether.”
Negative interest rates simply mean it will cost you, in fees or service charges, to hold money in banking accounts. Examine Professor Kimball’s ivory tower justification for seizing the value and purchasing power of your savings.
“University of Michigan economist Miles Kimball has developed a theoretical solution to this problem in the form of an electronic currency that would allow the Fed to bring nominal rates below zero to combat recessions. He’s been presenting his plan to different economists and central bankers around the world. Kimball has also written repeatedly about it and was recently interviewed by Wonkblog’s Dylan Matthews.”
Now dig deep into the mind of a mentally ill pseudo intellectual to see just how far from rational money policy such monetary eggheads go to provide cover for the fractional reserve central bankers.
“If we repealed the “zero lower bound” that prevents interest rates from going below zero, there would be no need to rely on the large scale purchases of long-term government debt that are a mainstay of “quantitative easing,” the quasi-promises of zero interest rates for years and years that go by the name of “forward guidance,” or inflation to make those zero rates more potent.”
This threat is a continuation from the initial trial balloon that appeared in the Financial Times. A video rant about, Banks to Start Charging You on Deposits, goes ballistic with outrage that the money-centered banks are emboldened as to telegraph their intentions of raiding the nest egg savings of depositors. While the justifiable emotion is understandable for a beleaguered public, the economic aftermaths of interjecting massive QE reserves is explained well by Zerohedgein recent reports with the accompanied chart.
“Furthermore, contrary to what the hypocrite banker said that ”the danger is that banks are pushed into riskier assets to find yield“, banks are already in the riskiest assets: just look at what JPM was doing with its hundreds of billions in excess deposits, which originated as Fed reserves on its books – we explained the process of how the Fed’s reserves are used to push the market higher most recently in “What Shadow Banking Can Tell Us About The Fed’s “Exit-Path” Dead End.”
What the real danger is, is that once the Fed lowers IOER and there is a massive outflow of deposits, that banks which have used the excess deposits as initial margin and collateral on marginable securities to chase risk to record highs (as JPM’s CIO explicitly and undisputedly did) that there would be an avalanche of selling once the negative rate deposit outflow tsunami hit.”
Hence, this move to prepare the bank customer for another hosing by imposing negative rates actually is a desperate attempt to keep the derivative “day of reckoning” from hitting. This strategy will not work. In the Negotium article, Low Interest Rates Impoverish Savers, makes the point: “Designed lowering of our standard of living is visible at every turn. The money-centered banks recapitalized their balance sheets at the expense of the passbook accounts customers.”With the expectation that bank accounts will actually experience debit fees for parking money will result in a massive outflow of capital. Where will the money go? Will the banks allow the return of your deposits in cash or will they impose significant costs and delay withdrawals?
Consider that under a banking system, which automatically reduces your balances, the acceleration of stripping your net worth goes into high gear. No sane individual would accept this theft willingly. However, the transition to a cashless economy might well inflict a call back of cash (Federal Reserve Notes) in circulation for an enforced substitute legal tender. Or else some variation of the “killer” Kimball electronic compulsory account may be imposed under strict governmental supervision.
Under such a circumstance, the mandatory medium of exchange strips all personal ownership from the individual. Money, in whatever form it takes, no longer will be your own property.
Negative interest rates institutionalize systemic inflation into every transaction. Throughout history, usury is condemned for charging interest on lending. What term should be used for paying no interest on capital saved? Anthony Migchels argues in Our Chains are Forged by Usury, that the objective is to create an interest-free money supply. Much like the Kimball electronic currency, the Migchels alternative resides in his own twisted hermitage, read accordingly.
“The problem is not the creation of money! Quite the opposite: it’s marvelous that we never need to have a shortage of money. The problem is when the bookkeeper starts raping the debitor with interest for no other reason than the associated minus.”
While debt is the central issue in all financial bubbles, the solution is not to destroy wealth creation through capital saving. Until a universal model of wizardry or alchemy is adopted that creates a stable store of value, independent from work, ingenuity or greed; expectations of an interest free currency are pipe dreams.
The benefits from negative interest rates all go to the banksters. The borrower never sees FREE interest loans, nor does the saver earn a fair rate of return. The maxim remains, Those with the Gold, Make the Rules, is no different in the age of the New World Order of central banking. Starving the saver is negative for the rest of us.
For a country founded upon the purpose of establishing religious freedom, the state worship establishment deems that their Supreme Court tribunal will announce its papal bull in the lawsuit, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
The SCOTUS blog explains the Issue: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.The first words in the Bill of Rights Amendment I, states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof“. Somehow, the barrister bar sees fit to ignore the highest law of the land, because robe magistrates deem that their rulings are a flowing and living privilege that easily conflicts with a dictionary reading of language.
Understanding the context of this case starts with an analysis by Lyle Denniston from the official SCOTUS blog.
“This time, the Court will be focusing only on whether the pregnancy-related care coverage can be enforced against profit-making companies – or their individual owners, when that is a very small group – when the coverage contradicts privately held religious beliefs.”
Jeremy Weber from Christianity Today reports that - Hobby Lobby explained in a statement that its Green family owners “have no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives required under the HHS mandate and do so at no additional cost to employees under their self-insured health plan.”
However, Mr. Denniston describes that the Court will look at the extent that government has preference over religious beliefs of a corporate ownership.
“It is already clear, of course, that individuals – whether they own businesses or not – do have religious beliefs that the government may not try to regulate. But it is not yet clear, and these cases will test the issue, whether they have a right – constitutional or based on a 1993 federal law – to rely upon those beliefs in refusing to provide a kind of health care coverage that they say violates the tenets of their faith.”
Therefore, it seems that the high court will revisit the First Amendment rights of corporations, most recently expanded in their Citizens United decision, with the twist that religious freedom might well be quite different from political free speech.
Compelling a business enterprise to obey the “pro choice” regulations within Obamacare is certainly the objective from the record of this administration’s hostility towards traditional Christian religious practices.
Mr. Denniston describes the nature of this conflict.
“On the other hand, it is not clear that a business that is formed as a corporation, and engages in a strictly commercial kind of activity, can have religious beliefs and can actually base its commercial actions upon such faith principles (separate from the religious beliefs of its owners). The Court has never ruled on that issue, but that is one of the core issues it has now agreed to consider.
In the government case – that is, the one involving the arts and crafts retailer, Hobby Lobby – the answer to questions about both the individual owners of a closely held business and the business itself as a separate entity arises under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That law specifies that the government cannot impose a “substantial burden on a person’s exercise of religion,” unless the government can prove that the burden serves “a compelling governmental interest” and that it is also “the least restrictive means” of doing that.”
Here is the crux of shredding religious protection, ”a compelling governmental interest“. After the absurd and bizarre flip-flop from Chief Justice John Roberts on the original Obamacare decision, who could ignore the determination that the Affordable Care Act is a legal tax constitutes a compelling governmental interest?
In Part 8 – CORPORATIONS and LAW of the Totalitarian Collectivism series cites, “The 1886 case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, is often cited that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations are “persons” having the same rights as human beings based on the 14th Amendment.”Concluding, Mr. Denniston admits the inherent legal problem of granting corporate personhood.
“The Court, in confronting that issue, probably will have to decide whether the business itself is “a person” under RFRA. If it decides that Congress did not mean to include a corporation as “a person” under RFRA, that could be the end of the corporation’s RFRA claim.
There is no doubt that the individual owners are persons. But the Court must decide whether the pregnancy-related insurance coverage does, in fact, put a burden on the individual owners, or whether any burden is on the business itself, rather than its owners. That is the issue so far as individual owners’ claim under RFRA goes.”
Reasonable speculation envisions the Supreme Court splitting the baby in favor of a narrow decision that preserves corporate personhood, but not in this case since religious freedom is not a belief of a business company. Since reviewing the actual constitutional basis of corporate personhood is not part of this action, it is rational to presume that the establishment will be pleased.
Religion is a distant petitioner in the august chambers of state-capitalism. So when, Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore labeled the decision “the most important religious liberty question in recent years”, it is a major jump of faith to believe that the Supreme Court thinks it answers to a higher power.In a press release for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, he writes:
“We cannot accept the theology lesson that the government has sought to teach us, that religion is merely a matter of what happens during the scheduled times of our services, and is left there in the foyer during the rest of the week. Our religious convictions aren’t reduced to mere opinions we hide in our heart and in our hymns. Our religious convictions inform the way we live.
“I pray the Supreme Court recognizes what the founders of this country saw, that religious liberty isn’t a gift handed to us by Uncle Caesar. Religious liberty is given to us by God and is inalienable. Let’s pray for the justices as they think through this monumentally important case.”
The eternal truth in Mr. Moore’s invocation is noble and accurate. Nevertheless, the world that places governmental interest over God’s law is a legal system that loses all legitimacy and authority. Hobby Lobby is not challenging the fundamental First Amendment declaration of exercising their belief as an absolute right. No, for the obvious practical legal strategy, the argument seeks relief under the same hideous corporate personhood status.
Unfortunately, the religious objections of the Green family are conditional by court decree. Look no further, for the basic reason why America is doomed, when the legal system defies the intent and meaning of the very constitution that each judge swears and affirms to uphold. Hobby Lobby deserves our respect for practicing their religious faith in their business.
Moses appears eight times in carvings that ring the Supreme Court Great Hall ceiling. Yet the building is government property and the presences of Yahweh’s laws in SCOTUS decisions are purely accidental. Only if it serves the interests of the state, will the court adorn a fig leaf of obedience. It is time to repent, bring back God into the public square and more importantly, into the law of the land.
“The First Amendment to the Constitution reflects that concept recognized in the Ten Commandments, that the duties we owe to God and the manner of discharging those duties are outside the purview of government.” – Roy Moore
Should we trust Obama to be honest in his peace talks with Iran and Syria? His lightning shift from warmonger to peacemaker surprised everyone, including his closest regional allies — Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — not to mention the entire U.S. congress, many of whom seem intent on sabotaging the Iran peace talks by imposing more war-provoking sanctions.
Let’s not forget that Obama was minutes away from blasting Syria into the Stone Age, but as he stared into the abyss of war he blinked at the last moment. Obama hid the consequent humiliation behind a hastily agreed upon chemical weapons deal proposed by Russia, which served to buy him time to think about the regional war he damn near started.
And now suddenly Obama is acting uncharacteristically rational. He’s agitating for peace among his anti-Syria coalition of close regional allies, namely Turkey and the Gulf Monarchy Sunni Islam dictatorships (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, etc.). Obama is pressuring them to stop sending money, arms, and Sunni Islamic extremist fighters into Syria to topple Assad, so that peace can be pursued instead, a 180 degree shift in strategy. This has already seemed to have had an effect with Qatar and Turkey.
It’s crucial to remember that Obama could have pursued a peaceful path for well over a year, when Russia and Syria first proposed peace talks. Obama ignored the proposals and John Kerry publicly ridiculed them, so confident they were that the U.S.-backed rebels would topple Assad. This strategy pushed Syrian civilization into barbarism, and peace talks were again proposed last spring — but Obama’s rebels boycotted the talks, since Obama had a plan to help the rebels topple the regime via a Libyan-style U.S. military bombing campaign.
So Syrian blood was allowed to keep flowing. For at least two years Obama oversaw and coordinated — via the CIA — the Syrian “arms trafficking pipeline” — as The New York Times called it — which has helped drive the death count to over 100,000 and made millions more refugees.
Without the massive support from the U.S., its allies, and “private donors” (oil-rich “royalty” from the Gulf state monarchies), this “civil war” would have unquestionably ended long ago.
It was only after Obama decided not to bomb Syria — and shifted towards peace talks — did his prized Syrian rebels agree to go to the negotiating table (keep in mind that Obama’s rebels are mostly talking heads with no real power on the ground; the Islamic extremist rebels dominate the ground and continue to boycott negotiations).
Obama had long insisted that “Assad must go,” but Assad is still in power and stronger than ever, with large sections of the population — though especially the ethnic and religious minorities — choosing him over the Islamic extremist rebels who would come to power in his place — the same rebels who are fighting to transform Syria into a Taliban-era Afghanistan.
The rebels already have a mini-Afghanistan in portions of the “liberated” areas of Syria where Raqqa is considered to be the largest city ever administered by al-Qada-style Islamic extremists. Shockingly, there remain some stubborn holdouts among the political left who consider these extremist-controlled areas to be “liberated” proof of a “revolution” in Syria.
Now, the U.S.-Russia initiated “Geneva II” Syria peace accords appear to be serious negotiations, not only because Obama’s rebels were finally encouraged to participate, but also because Obama’s regional allies are furious, Saudi Arabia and especially Israel, who expressed its anger by using fighter jets to yet again bomb Syria, the fourth time this year.
Ultimately, Obama will have to prove via action that he is sincere in peace talks. It’s entirely possible that the peace talks are a mere tactic intended to engage in a more strategic war.
For example, if the Syrian government can be blamed for the possible failure of the Geneva II peace talks, a new war motive will be ready-made for Obama to sell to the American public, more convincing than the prior chemical weapons attack.
How will we know Obama is pursuing peace talks with good intentions? If he puts forth proposals that are universally accepted as reasonable, as opposed to provocative.
If he makes unreasonable demands on the Syrian government, we’ll know he intends to bait Assad into rejecting the proposal in an attempt to prime the U.S. and European public for war. Identifying such a provocative proposal will be easy: the purpose of such peace negotiations would be to copy the conditions on the battlefield and paste them to a peace treaty; the side winning the war wins the peace.
The Syrian government is in the dominant position on the battlefield, and thus has huge leverage in sincerely conducted peace talks. But if Obama demands that a precondition to any talks is the removal of President Assad, this will be an obvious provocation to ruin the talks. Obama has recently implied that he’s backing off of this proposal that’s popular among the rebels, but it’s still possible that he may make a similarly unrealistic proposal with the intention of provoking a rejection, with the intention to wage war.
It’s possible that Obama recently attempted this aggressive negotiating tactic against Iran during the ongoing nuclear talks. The initial peace deal that was offered — that Iran was willing to accept — was a bad deal for Iran, proving that Iran was overeager for peace and sanctions relief.
It is also possible that by offering such a lousy deal Obama meant to provoke Iran — as Peter Lee recently suggested in an excellent article — but the failure of the talks fell on the French, who at the last minute ruined the deal by making additional unreasonable demands which the Iranians did not accept. This suggests that events didn’t go as Obama intended, since he’d prefer that Iran be blamed for any failure rather than the French.
If Obama is acting honestly about completing peace talks with Iran and Syria, the entire Middle East will have to change as a consequence, since U.S. allies in the region went “all in” against Syria at Obama’s request, upsetting their domestic populations via massive war-immigration flows and fighting that spilled over the borders of Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.
Political and social tension rose throughout the Middle East, infecting several countries with heavy doses of religious sectarianism, the main weapon used against the Syrian Government. Even if peace is secured for the moment, the thousands of foreign fighters in Syria will return home as heroes to many, destabilizing their countries as happened after the Afghanistan Jihad that gave birth to al-Qada and the Taliban — also backed by the U.S. and the Gulf monarchies.
Shifting the entire Middle East back to a peaceful status quo won’t be easy; Obama used U.S. foreign power as a lever that pivoted the entire Middle East against Syria and Iran, and pivoting back isn’t so simple. Close allies have lost faith in the promises of the U.S. and will be less willing in the future to follow Obama into wild adventures that destabilize the Middle East with absolutely nothing to show for it, except blood, corpses, and general misery.
Obama’s peace talks could be easily sabotaged — even if he is acting with sincerity. Several recent events in the region were likely conducted with the intention of undermining the talks. The recent terrorist bombing near the Iranian embassy in Lebanon, the continued Israel airstrikes against Syria, and the possibility of more U.S. sanctions against Iran could undermine any potential peace, while strengthening the right wing of Iran, Israel, and the U.S, which would inevitably lead back to yet another pivot, shifting back to the path of war and a resumption of a U.S. bombing campaign against Syria.
Even if talks are successful, the Middle East will remain a turbulent region, as long as competing world powers — the U.S., EU, China, and Russia — are competing for raw materials, markets, and other profitable business activity. In fact, the shift in strategy is only a different means to accomplish the same end: to push Russian and Chinese influence out of the region all the while maintaining U.S. hegemony.
If Obama is serious about peace talks, he must prove it by pressuring his regional allies publicly and privately to do what’s necessary for peace, as well as condemning Israel in front of the world stage if it continues to act provocatively, while also publicly denouncing the Democrats and Republicans if they try to provoke war with fresh sanctions.
Only this kind of consistency is capable of ensuring a temporary peace with Iran and Syria, and anything less will prove that Obama is implicitly pursuing the path of war by other means.
John Kennedy An Unlikely President
John Kennedy was never a perfect man and his exploits with many beautiful and often controversial women, such as Ingrid Arvid, Judith Exner and Marilyn Monroe speaks to JFK’s imperfections. In fact, the present day corporate controlled media has continually revealed JFK’s womanizing ways as an attempt to remove any sympathy for the slain President.
JFK had the dubious legacy of being born into a family of very active criminality. His father, the former ambassador to England, stock market insider trader and mafia bootlegger, Joseph Kennedy, used his underworld ties to convince Meyer Lansky as well as key members of the Chicago mafia to steal the Cook County, IL., presidential election of 1960.
Illinois was the ultimate swing state. If JFK had not carried Cook County, Illinois, the presidency would have fallen to Nixon. Nixon was the insider’s choice. As Vice-President, he circumvented Ike and exacerbated the crisis situation in Southeast Asia on behalf of the furtherance of the CIA’s heroin trafficking through the infamous “Golden Triangle”. Nixon was in bed with the military industrial complex as Ike called it in his farewell address. Nixon was subservient to the whims of the Federal Reserve and ran interference for them, often to the chagrin of Ike, who desperately wanted to dump Nixon from the 1956 Republican ticket. Nixon was the elite’s errand boy, however, what the elite did not count on was the dramatic impact that the combination of television and JFK’s personal charm would play in the outcome of the 1960 election.
In the famous Nixon-Kennedy debates, which were simulcast on radio and television, Nixon actually won among radio listeners. However, among the largest audience, the television audience, JFK won hands down and history was changed. JFK’s charismatic appeal was something that the elite had underestimated. The insiders were left to deal with the son of a criminal and most likely they thought they could work with the son of the Adolph Hitler supporting and bootlegging thug.
JFK Became a Changed Man
When JFK entered the White House, his party ways came with him, but there would soon be a series of events that would make John Kennedy a changed man. In 1961, the CIA and director Dulles circumvented JFK by launching a secret invasion of Cuba in the Bay of Pigs fiasco. It was only at the last moment did JFK discover the unfolding events in which he refused to provide air cover and the invasion failed on the beach. Kennedy fired Dulles and threatened to break the CIA into a thousand pieces. This even marked the beginning of the bifurcation between JFK and the elite because the CIA had become their errand boy. The elite and their mafia partners desperately wanted Cuba back under their control and JFK blocked their ambitions. The following year, as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK had another chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the elite and again he failed. It did not matter that JFK had averted WWIII, he failed to put boots on the ground in Cuba and again, the elite and their designs for Cuba were thwarted.
Simultaneous to the events in Cuba, JFK was dragging his feet on Vietnam. He was reluctantly continuing on the path of allowing combat advisers to continue to operate in South Vietnam.
Vietnam was potentially a huge cash cow to the establishment elite. Chrysler Corporation received 90% of all US defense contracts in 1963, mostly in a middleman capacity. Bell Helicopter and Chase Manhattan Bank would reap record profits from the Vietnam War. Unfortunately for the elite, JFK was growing more isolationist. He became a changed man following the Cuban Missile Crisis as this event shook him to his core. He feared putting the US in military situations that could result in another confrontation with the Soviets. In 1963, JFK had announced that he was bringing home all combat advisers in 1965. JFK and South Vietnamese President, Diem, agreed that America would never send ground troops to Vietnam. Diem and his brother were assassinated by the CIA and 21 days later, JFK was dead. Nine months following these assassinations, America sent 100,000 ground troops to South Vietnam following the now discredited Gulf of Tonkin incident and the elite bathed in their blood money.
JFK had been so shaken by the real possibility of WWIII, that he and the Soviet Premier were actually having discussions regarding the capping of nuclear arms production. The elite could not have any part of this unprofitable course of action. There is no money to be made in peace especially if you are Martin Marietta (today known as Martin Lockheed). The establishment elite wanted to continue down the path arming America’s nuclear arsenal to the teeth. JFK had become a major impediment to profits in this regard.
The Changed Man Takes Center Stage
JFK, no doubt motivated by the fear of WWIII, was blocking Vietnam and was going to kill the cash cow of nuclear arms production. No doubt, JFK saw the establishment elite as the enemy of humanity. They were willing to take the country to war so that they could fatten their wallets.
JFK began to take action against the elite. He was taking away half of their unwarranted oil depletion allowance. JFK stuck a big stick in the eye of the Federal Reserve by printing over $4 billion dollars of silver backed money, thus threatening the stranglehold the Federal Reserve had enjoyed over the country for the past 50 years.
JFK began making speeches, very damning speeches, in which he called out the establishment elite and their “secret societies” and then JFK signed his death warrant with his American University speech in which he announced, among other things, a desire to pursue peace with the Soviets. Once again, there is no money in peace.
On behalf of “the greater good”, JFK had to be eliminated and he was. However, I have often wondered if JFK had survived, how would America have been changed.
If JFK Had Lived
If JFK had lived, so too, would have 58,000 Americans and untold millions of Vietnamese. If JFK had lived, we would not have spent two trillion dollars on nuclear arms. The money could have been spent, as JFK suggested, on education. America might not have become the hopelessly dumbed down nation that it has become. If JFK had lived the Federal Reserve would have eventually gone the way of the two previous central banks in the United States. The US Congress would have retaken the constitutional power of coining money, interest free money. America would have remained solvent.
If JFK had lived, he would have continued to confront the oil companies and today, we might have achieved energy independence and could be paying about a buck for a gallon if gas. Alaska would be the new Middle East and the petrodollar, which threatens to plunge us into a world war over Syria and Iran, would no longer be a problem. The world would be coming to the US for its energy needs and our economy would be booming.
If JFK had lived, the people would have had their true representative in the White House. The events in Cuba so changed John Kennedy, that he became a true Ron Paul in the last two years of his life. It was the last time, that anyone, outside the elite establishment, had anyone in top level government that cared for them.
The day that John Kennedy died, November 22, 1963, was the beginning of the end for America. These same forces, the interlocking directorates of the military industrial complex, the Federal Reserve, the major oil companies and the media that they control, continued to suck the life out of America to the point of where we stand today, a shell of our former country.
If in the last year of JFK’s presidency, he hadn’t offered such hope to the American people and to the future of the country, I would have lost interest in the life of JFK and his subsequent assassination a long time ago.
I falsely held out the hope that the 50th Anniversary of his death would rekindle a curiosity about who killed JFK and why and then subsequently link that knowledge into today’s America. This could have been the impetus for change in America. Alas, the elite controlled the narrative this fall with plethora of documentaries which lead away from the truth that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. As a result, the country’s interest will continue to wane and with it, the belief that JFK was killed as a result of a conspiracy.
In 1993, 80% of the country believed that JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy. With the rash of media propaganda, that number has reduced to 61%. The elite have weathered the storm and continue unabated on their journey towards sucking the life out of this country. They will continue to do so until there is nothing left and we are thrown onto the junk pile of history.
There will be no 51st anniversary recognition as the JFK researchers have approached their twilight. Soon the JFK assassination will carry the same weight as the assassination of McKinley. Who? That’s my point. The King is dead, long live the King.
On November 23rd, as we turn our collective eyes back on our future, we might want to begin to prepare for adaptation for there will be no great awakening because your future and your very lives are being threatened by forces that John Kennedy foresaw over 50 years ago in his “Secret Societies” speech.
Source: The Common Sense Show
We came, we saw, we stayed. Forever. That’s the essence of the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to be struck between the Obama administration and Afghanistan – over 12 years after the start of the never-ending War on Terror.
President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry define it as a ‘strategic partnership’. If that’s the case, it’s one of the most lopsided in history; Afghan President Hamid Karzai is no more than a sartorially impeccable American puppet.
Kerry announced the so-called BSA in Washington on Wednesday even before a Loya Jirga (‘Grand Council’, in Pashto) of 2,500 Afghan tribal leaders, clerics, members of parliament and merchants started their four-day deliberations in a tent on the grounds of the Polytechnical University in Kabul on Thursday.
But then Karzai, probably in his last major speech as president, pulled off a fabulous stunt. He knows he is, and will be, accused of selling Afghanistan down the (Panjshir) river. He knows he is sacrificing Afghan sovereignty for years to come – and there will be nasty blowback for it.
So once again he channeled Hamid the Actor, and played his best honest broker impersonation, stressing the BSA should be put off until the Afghan presidential elections in April 2014, and be signed by his successor.
It was high drama
“There’s a mistrust between me and the Americans. They don’t trust me and I don’t trust them. I have always criticized them and they have always propagated negative things behind my back,” he claimed.
I have been to Jirgas in Afghanistan; even looking at those inscrutable, rugged tribal faces is a spectacle in itself. So what were they thinking in Kabul? Of course they did not trust the Americans. But did they trust Karzai? Could they see this was all an act?
A consultative Loya Jirga cannot veto the BSA. Even the Jirga chairman, Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, stressed Karzai may sign without any consultation. Yet Karzai insists he will not sign without the Loya Jirga’s approval.
Many members of the Afghan parliament and the entire Afghan opposition already voted with their feet, boycotting the Jirga. Not to mention the Taliban – essential to any agreement on the future of Afghanistan – and the still fully weaponized Hezb-e-Islami. Everyone is eagerly waiting to hear Taliban supremo Mullah Omar’s take on the whole kabuki.
The BSA ‘negotiation’ has been like an extended Monty Python sketch. Washington has always insisted US soldiers can break into Afghan homes at will and remain immune to any sort of Afghan prosecution. Otherwise the Americans will leave for good at the end of 2014, leaving just the poorly trained and largely corrupt Afghan National Army (ANA) to fight the Taliban.
Up until Karzai’s latest stunt, the Obama administration considered the deal was in the bag. Just look at the letter Obama sent to Karzai.
And by the way, no apologies. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Washington does not need to apologize for killing and injuring tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan since 2001, not to mention occupying vast swathes of the country. Earlier, a Karzai spokesman said that would be the case.
If in doubt, just listen to super-hawk US Senator Lindsay Graham, who told Reuters, “I’m stunned. Apologize for what? Maybe we should get the Afghan president to apologize to the American soldiers for all the hardship he’s created for them.”
There’s nothing ‘residual’ about a US occupation to be disguised as ‘forces’ necessary to train and ‘advise’ the roughly 350,000 soldiers and police which are part of ANA, built from scratch over the last few years.
And what we’re talking about here is a deal starting in 2015 and in effect up to 2024 ‘and beyond’.
The final agreement is not much different from this previously leaked working draft. An update has been circulating this week in the Pentagon and the US Congress. The Pentagon, via Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, justifies the whole thing by the proverbial need to ‘maintain Afghanistan’s security’ and make sure foreign aid is not being squandered (as it has always been).
There will be plenty of US military outposts and bases; Afghan bases and other bases of which the US has ‘exclusive use’. Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif are inevitably on the list. Once again, this is the US Empire of Bases – so well characterized by the late Chalmers Johnson – in pristine form.
Marine General Joseph Dunford, the current US/NATO military commander in Afghanistan, wants up to 13,000 troops to stay, not including security guards and the cream of the crop, the counterterrorism gang. In theory, these forces won’t engage in combat “unless otherwise mutually agreed.” The draft text emphasizes, “US military operations to defeat Al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate in the common fight against terrorism.”
Translation: a future festival of raids by Special Forces, and a counter-terror free-for-all.
The draft text only mentions, vaguely,” full respect for Afghan sovereignty and full regard for the safety and security of the Afghan people, including in their homes,” as Obama also mentioned in his letter to Karzai.
And there’s absolutely nothing on the critical issue of drones based in Afghan bases that have been used for incinerating the odd commander but also scores of innocent civilians in the Pakistani tribal areas.
All about pivoting to Asia
The Maliki government in Baghdad had the balls to confront the Pentagon and veto the immunity for US forces – effectively kicking out the occupying force in Iraq. Hamid Karzai, for his part, caved in on virtual every US demand. The key question in the next few months is for what; Mob-style protection if he stays in Afghanistan, or the equivalent of the FBI’s witness protection program if he moves to the US?
Even assuming the Loya Jirga endorses the BSA (not yet a done deal) and Karzai’s successor signs it (with Karzai removing himself from the tight spot), to say this opens a new Pandora’s box is an understatement.
The occupation, for all practical purposes, will continue. This has nothing to do with fighting the War on Terror or jihad. There’s no Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The few remnants are in Waziristan, in Pakistani territory. The US is – and will remain – essentially at war with Afghan Pashtuns who are members of the Taliban. And the Taliban will keep staging their spring and summer offensives as long as there are any foreign occupiers on Afghan soil.
The drone war will continue, with the Pentagon and the CIA using these Afghan bases to attack Pashtuns in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Not to mention that these US bases, to be fully operational, need unrestricted access to the Pakistani transit routes from the Khyber Pass and the Quetta-to-Kandahar corridor. This means Islamabad keeps profiting from the scam by collecting hefty fees in US dollars.
No one knows yet how the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will respond to this. Not only Russia and China – who are adamantly opposed to US bases in Afghanistan – but also Iran and India, SCO observers and two countries that can sway Afghanistan away from the Taliban in a non-military way.
We just need to picture, for instance, a practically inevitable future development; Washington deciding to deploy the US missile defense system in Afghanistan (it already happened in Turkey). Russia and China already see that the US may have lost the economic race for Central Asia – as China clinches deal after deal in the context of expanding its New Silk Road(s) grand strategy. What’s left for Washington is – guess what – bits and pieces of the same old Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, as in military bases to ‘monitor’ both China and Russia very close to their borders.
What’s certain is that both Russia and China – not to mention Iran – all see this Operation Occupy Afghanistan Forever for what it is; yet another (military) chapter of the American ‘pivoting to Asia’.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.
“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly,” said Abraham Lincoln. It’s ironic that Barack Obama has claimed to pattern himself after Lincoln, because his modus operandi is just the opposite: perpetuate a bad law by enforcing it loosely.
Or in a targeted fashion that suits political necessities.
With millions losing health coverage Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Gang promised they could keep and with the ObamaCare rollout a washout, the president’s answer to his bad law is quintessential Obama. Don’t end it. Don’t mend it.
His latest expedient: Give insurance companies the option to let people keep health plans that the government claims are “substandard” for another year. Note that Obama doesn’t want to do this legislatively. Rather, in a move that even screaming socialist Howard Dean suggests is unconstitutional, the king will grant you a stay of execution. Of course, this only delays the inevitable.
But Obama has done this before. He proceeds with the confidence of a man who says, “My law is so darn good that it doesn’t work when actually enforced.” Thus did the president early on offer more than 1000 ObamaCare waivers to various entities.
Have clout? Waiver.
Can grease palms? Waiver.
Little guy with bupkis? Don’t ever waver.
That is, until throwing the commoners a few crumbs accomplishes something. What would that be? Consider that a one-year waiver would delay the inevitable until just after the 2014 mid-term elections.
Obama has done this before, too. While ObamaCare was passed in 2010, its implementation was delayed a few years until — also coincidentally, I’m sure — Obama had safely won re-election.
This brings us to a little thought exercise. If 2012 had seen ObamaCare’s rollout, how badly would the president have been rolled over? Forget about Mitt Romney — Obama would have lost to Clint Eastwood’s chair.
The truth is that Obama’s one-year-stay offer is a cynical ploy. The president couldn’t care less about the people who’ve lost insurance; he knows well that he needs them and others to pay higher premiums so that their wealth can be redistributed throughout the system. Obama’s law is Dr. Kevorkian-writ-large and needs, as he would put it, “fundamental” change to have hope, yet he won’t even tweak it. But he will tweak the enforcement of it — especially when an election is nigh.
Perhaps Obama is smart enough to understand that where revolutionary change boils violently, evolutionary change is a slow simmer. The people are that proverbial frog in a frying pan full of water: full implementation of Dr. Kevorkian-writ-large is a high flame that might provoke a jump for the safety of repeal. Gradual implementation, however — with malleable law enforcement — is an incremental burner increase that can allow the people to become inured to the new healthcare normal. That’s the idea, anyway.
Moreover, will “permitting” insurance companies to maintain the old plans for a year do even a year’s worth of good? I’d think that since they now have to cover people with pre-existing conditions (which is like having to offer fire “insurance” to a guy whose house is already burning down), they’ll have to recoup the money that costs by raising premiums on the low-risk pool.
But the one-year stay does do some good — for Obama. After all, the president can now say when insurance providers cancel people’s policies, “Hey, these companies had the option to let you keep your plan, but while you’re needy they’re greedy.” All these policies would have to be canceled a year from now, but it suits Obama to have the insurance companies do as much of his dirty work as possible “voluntarily” in the interim.
If a law is worth making, it’s worth enforcing; and if it’s not worth enforcing, it’s not worth making. So my solution here is Lincoln’s:
Enforce Dr. Kevorkian-writ-large strictly.
To the letter.
No, this isn’t a cynical ploy to give the GOP a perhaps unassailable 2014 election advantage at the expense of the common man. The fact is that unless the ObamaCare dragon is slain, its fiery breath will consume all the current low-cost plans one way or another, sooner or later. And all delaying the inevitable does is give Obama the chance to slow-boil that frog.
And, really, why should there be any argument? Contrary to Nancy Pelosi’s wisdom, you don’t find out what’s in a law by passing it. You find out by implementing it. Let the voters find out, now — with a full dosage. Then they can decide at election time if the Republicans should get the Dr. Kevorkian treatment — or if Dr. Kevorkian-writ-large itself should.
As U.S. corporate profits soar to record highs, food stamps for the neediest were quietly cut. The politicians who are demanding endless cuts to social programs — Democrats and Republicans alike — insist that the U.S. is broke, all the while conveniently ignoring the mountains of tax-free wealth piling up in the pockets of the super rich.
This newest flood of cash for the nation’s wealthiest 1% is a blatant government subsidy: the Federal Reserve continues to pump out an extra $75 billion a month, the vast majority of which fattens the already-bursting overseas bank accounts of the rich. Since Obama has been president this pro-corporate policy has helped funnel 95 percent of the nation’s new income to the wealth-soaked rich.
And while it’s true that the global super rich have an estimated $32 trillion [!] stashed away abroad in off shore tax havens, an even newer way to avoid taxes has gripped the endlessly-greedy minds of U.S.-based billionaires.
Instead of shielding themselves behind the classic ‘C’ corporation structure — and all the burdensome taxes and regulations associated with it — two-thirds of new corporations have “evolved” into pseudo-legal “partnership” structures, commonly referred to as “pass throughs,” the idea being that the corporate-partnership instantly passes the profits through to the shareholders, no corporate tax necessary.
The most common form of pass throughs are “innovative” variations of a Limited Liability Company, a tax structure created in 1975 for narrowly regulated purposes. But now rich investors are performing accounting and legalistic somersaults to exploit the tax structure, practices that were illegal before the regulators were “captured” by the big banks.
The pro-billionaire Economist magazine recently discussed the pass through fad:
“A mutation in the way companies are financed and managed will change the distribution of the wealth they create…The corporation is becoming the distorporation…More businesses are now twisting themselves into forms that allow them to qualify as pass throughs.”
So, for example, imagine that nine rich guys get together and call themselves a pass through corporation of some variety. They do this because they want to avoid personal liability in case things go awry. Their partnership only buys and sells stocks and goes on to make billions, while paying zero corporate taxes. When their risky bets go bust and the partnership is sued by hoodwinked investors, the company instantly declares bankruptcy, since all profits were quickly “passed through.” The partners (the nine guys) cheerfully go home to swim through their sea of cash.
In real life shady pass throughs make massive wealth. Richard Kinder, who co-founded the biggest pass through, named Kinder Morgan, personally received $376 million in dividends last year alone [!], according to the Economist.
The pass through fad is on track to becoming the dominant way that the super rich get together to make huge amounts of money — pass throughs were 63 percent of all corporate profits in 2008, and are likely higher now, since many of the big private-equity companies making a killing by the cheap fed dollars are organized under pass through umbrella structures.
There is a huge society-wide risk for this type of behavior, which resembles the reckless gambling that destroyed the economy in 2008. As an ever-larger share of wealth is poured into these risky, non-regulated vehicles, the potential grows for them to self-destruct and pull down the broader economy with them. Pass throughs — which include most private-equity firms — function “efficiently” when the government is handing them cheap money; when interest rates go up, the pass throughs go bust, with predictable outcomes.
“But wait,” the billionaire will protest, “we pay individual taxes, which help fund social services.” Not necessarily. If the billionaire investor paid their legal obligation of “capital gains” taxes, they’d already be paying far less than the average worker. But the pass-through billionaires excel at avoiding all taxes. The Economist again:
“For a [pass through] partner a payout can be considered merely a return of capital rather than a profit, and consequently no tax is due until the sale of the underlying security. When tied to nuances of estate law, this may mean no tax at all.”
This type of blatantly criminal behavior used to be actually illegal, but as Wall Street bought Congress, the rules were either bent or ignored.
The Economist explains:
“The limitations on becoming [a pass through] seem to be tied more to legal dexterity [!] and influence [buying politicians] than any underlying principle. Politicians want to extend the benefits of [pass through] partnerships to industries they have come to favor either on the basis of ideology [of the corporate type], or astute lobbying [bribery], or a bit of both.”
The rest of society is affected because public services are being starved of funds, while these new pass throughs face vastly less regulation than the standard C corporations, and push wealth inequality to new heights while threatening a deeper recession.
Historically, government began regulating corporations because everyone realized the profound effects these institutions were having on the rest of society; the nation was becoming more unequal, the labor force more exploited and the environment torn to shreds.
As the super wealthy organized themselves into corporations they took most of society’s wealth with them; government realized that a semi-functioning country would need to tax these institutions and regulate their behavior, since the “natural” behavior of the capitalist — greed — was capable of pushing the rest of society into the dregs.
The new pass through fad is also indicative of the current state of U.S. capitalism; instead of investing profits in a company to buy machines or hire new workers, all the cash is either sitting in overseas bank accounts, or is being instantly funneled, via pass throughs, into the hands of ever-richer billionaires, who are proving to everyone that there is no bounds to the amount of cash they can accumulate. Where there are barriers to accumulation (regulations and taxes), they will supersede them while paying politicians of both major parties to ignore it or make it legal.
This dynamic occurs, in part, because the wealthy are basically refusing to invest in the real economy, as they fear the unstable economic conditions are not safe enough to make long term investments, which they believe won’t yield long term higher rates of profits. Safer to speculate on risky stocks, pocket the money and be the first one out when things go bust, as they did in 2008.
Of course the big name C corporations are up to their eyes in fraud too. Apple made big news when it only paid 2 percenttaxes on $74 billion in profits, by “declaring” its profits in Ireland, a corporate tax haven.
This occurs while other giant companies simply use clever accounting tricks to pay zero taxes, including giants like WellsFargo, Boeing, Verizon and General Electric. In fact, General Electric even finagled a rebate.
When it comes to oversea tax havens, it’s estimated that the U.S. national budget is annually starved of $280 billion in tax revenue.
Politicians have been struggling with ways to deal with the problem, since even in their mind some amount of tax collection needs to happen, if only to fund the military, provide more subsidies to corporations, and please the public by appearing to try to reduce the billionaire’s obscene behavior.
One popular idea among the politicians is to declare a corporate “tax holiday,” where the trillions of off-shore profits can be ceremoniously brought back to the U.S. while the feds look the other way. The idea is that, once the money is actually back in the U.S., the wealthy will want to spend it on something which will eventually help the economy — trickle down economics at its finest.
What seems certain to happen is that lowering corporate taxes will be a central piece of any “grand bargain” that eventually emerges, since there is a clear bi-partisan consensus that corporations need to pay lower taxes.
Some argue that if corporate taxes are low enough — and regulations removed — the corporations will reward the nation by not stockpiling their profits abroad and not creating pass through loopholes.
Of course all of this implies that the wealthy have a stranglehold over the U.S. economy. It’s telling that politicians want to deal with corporate tax evasion by lowering the corporate tax rate, instead of actually sending the IRS after them and throwing them in jail, as they do with working and middle class people.
The above dynamics create an ever-increasing wealth inequality that claws at the thinning strings holding society together. The bankruptcy and social disintegration of Detroit is a foreshadowing event for the rest of the country, unless this dynamic is stopped.
When the next crash happens the nation will have learned its lessons: the big banks and wealthy investors who destroyed the economy in 2008 are back at it, encouraged by Obama’s pro-corporate behavior and the Federal Reserve’s money flooding.
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that breaking the power of the super wealthy is the first step towards balancing the budget, job growth, protecting the safety net, and creating a semblance of a rational society. Until then the U.S. will lurch from one crisis to another, while blaming everyone but the real culprits.
November 7 and 8 nuclear talks at most may offer Iran modest temporary relief in return for major concessions.
How they’re presented remains to be seen. How they’re implemented is another matter.
Longstanding anti-Iranian hostility remains unresolved. Washington wants it that way. So does Israel.
Netanyahu wants no concessions offered. He calls any deal a bad one. It’s “very dangerous for peace and the international community,” he claims. It’s hard imagining more convoluted thinking.
Temporary modest relief, if offered, is too little. Reports suggest Washington may unfreeze a portion of billions of dollars of Iranian assets held in foreign banks. It may allow some international trade.
In return, reports say stiff demands require Iran to halt uranium enrichment to 20%, render most of its nuclear fuel unusable, agree not to use high speed IR-2 centrifuges, and not activate its Arak facility when completed.
Details aren’t finalized. Terms discussed are temporary. They represent step one along a long road toward resolving longstanding anti-Iranian hostility.
John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Britain’s William Hague and Germany’s Guido Westerwelle arrived in Geneva. They participated in Friday talks.
A November 8 State Department statement said:
“In an effort to help narrow the differences in negotiations, Secretary Kerry will travel to Geneva, Switzerland today at the invitation of EU High Representative Ashton to hold a trilateral meeting with High Representative Ashton and Foreign Minister Zarif on the margins of the P5+1 negotiations.”
On arrival, Fabius said “(t)here has been progress, but nothing is hard and fast yet.” Late afternoon Friday Geneva time, Kerry added:
“I want to emphasize there is not an agreement at this point. I don’t think anybody should mistake that there are some important gaps that have to be closed.”
Precisely what emerges remains to be seen. Most important is what follows.
Agreements are easily broken. Washington’s history reflects duplicity. It’s word isn’t its bond. Hold the cheers.
Headlines may belie reality. US rapprochement with Iran isn’t likely. Why after all these years? Why now?
Why after five years of deep-seated Obama administration hostility? Why in an administration infested with hardliners? Why despite a change in Iranian leadership?
Positive reports overstate reality. What’s given can easily be taken away. America’s so-called deal is reversible. Ahead of arriving in Geneva, John Kerry said:
“We are asking them to step up and provide a complete freeze over where they are today. Iran knows that if they don’t meet the standards of the international community, the sanctions could be increased and even worse.”
Iran’s good intentions may not matter. Washington and Israel are obstacles. On November 8, Haaretz headlined “Netanyahu warns Kerry: Israel not bound by any deal between Iran and West.”
They met in Jerusalem. They did so before Kerry left for Geneva. Netanyahu said “Israel utterly rejects” a deal. It’s “not obliged” to respect one.
It’ll “do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people.” Iran threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. Israel and Western officials know it. They claim otherwise.
On Wednesday, Obama said negotiations “are not about easing sanctions. (They’re) about how Iran begins to meet its international obligations and provide assurances not just to us but to the entire world.”
An administration spokesperson said:
“In the months since the Iranian election, we have continued to pursue our unwavering goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
“We have not let up on vigorous sanctions enforcement one iota.”
“This includes new designations of sanctions evaders as well as other steps to address potential sanctions evasion.”
Anti-Iranian organizations are masters at inventing nonexistent threats.
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) calls itself “the most influential group on the issue of US-Israel military relations.”
It supports Israel’s worst crimes. It’s in lockstep with its hegemonic regional agenda.
Its Iran Task Force includes a rogue’s gallery of members. Its October 29 Los Angeles Times op-ed headlined “How to negotiate with Iran,” saying:
“The most pressing national security threat facing the United States remains preventing a nuclear-capable Iran.”
Washington “should only pursue an agreement within certain parameters:”
(1) “Iran must resolve outstanding international concerns.”
(2) It must “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.”
(3) “(D)eny Iran nuclear weapons capability.” Doing so involves severely restricting its legitimate operations.
(4) Mandate “strict inspections.”
(5) Negotiate “from a position of strength.” Doing so requires intensified sanctions, leaving open a military option, “initiat(ing) new military deployments,” and supporting “Israeli military action if conducted.”
(6) Don’t “waste time. Iran will likely attain an undetectable nuclear capability by mid-2014, and perhaps earlier.”
Imposing “a strict deadline for talks can dissuade Iran from using diplomacy as a cover while sprinting for the bomb, and reassure Israel so it does not feel compelled to act alone.”
Negotiators “must walk away from any agreement” deviating from the above terms.
An earlier JINSA commentary called sanctions “dangerously ineffective.” It urged military force at an “optimal time regardless of elections or other political considerations.”
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) exerts enormous influence in Washington. It’s pro-business, pro-war and pro-unchallenged US dominance. It’s militantly anti-Iranian.
Danielle Pletka is vice president for foreign and defense studies. On November 7, sheheadlined ”A Lousy Iran Deal,” asking:
“What’s a ‘modest rollback’ exactly? How much ‘suspension’ is suspension?” Why isn’t a total “freeze” imposed?
“What will the Iranians have given? Nothing. Every single offer reportedly out there from the Iranians is less than what was offered mere months ago in earlier negotiations.”
“In exchange, every concession contemplated by the Obama team is more than what was offered in earlier negotiations. Who’s the better negotiator here? Did you have any doubt?”
Reports suggest Washington demands major concessions. In return, Iran appears being offered modest, temporary relief at best.
Obama has little wiggle room on congressionally imposed sanctions. He can’t stop stiffer ones if enacted. They’ll stick with a virtual two-thirds or greater majority in both houses assured to pass them.
Congressional hardliners from both parties want them. Perhaps they’ll be forthcoming regardless of Geneva’s outcome.
Imposing them will unravel whatever is agreed on. Maybe Obama plans it that way. He can say we tried. We failed. He’ll blame Iran for US duplicity. It won’t surprise.
Sanctions imposed under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) are at Obama’s discretion. They include frozen Iranian assets.
He can lift them all with a stoke of his pen. Doing so would send an important signal. Unfreezing a modest amount temporarily is much different.
It’s tokenism. It can be withdrawn with the same pen stroke. It can happen without warning. It can be with no justification.
According to Pletka, Iranian concessions merely slow its nuclear program. She wants significant rollback.
“(S)low down is fine with Iran,” she says, “because it has EVERYTHING IT NEEDS FOR A NUCLEAR WEAPON, or even several.”
What once was “a demand to end (its) entire nuclear weapons program has become a demand to make it smaller and hide it better.”
Pletka and likeminded hardliners know Iran’s nuclear program has no military component. They duplicitously claim otherwise. They’re in lockstep with longstanding US and Israeli policy.
They want the Islamic Republic eliminated. They want it replaced. They want Western control restored. They want war short of other ways to get it.
They’ll support an Israeli attack. It’s unlikely but possible. America and Israel have longstanding plans readied. Both countries represent the greatest threat to world peace.
In June 1981, Israeli warplanes attacked Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. It was under construction. It was nearly completed.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, and other hardliners called Iraq an existential threat. Independent observers said otherwise.
Anticipatory self-defense doesn’t wash. It’s lawless. George Bush asserted America’s right to “impose preemptive, unilateral military force when and where it chooses.” Obama governs by the same standard.
In 1981, the Security Council said ”the military attack by Israel was in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct.”
It didn’t matter. Recrimination didn’t follow. America gets away with murder and then some. So does Israel.
Iraq was a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory since 1968. It remains one. Israel is a nuclear outlaw. It falsely calls Iran an existential threat.
Will a future attack follow? Will Washington support it? Will they attack together? Dick Cheney calls war on Iran inevitable. He urges it. He’s not alone.
Lunatics infest Washington. Likeminded ones govern Israel. Anything ahead is possible. Both countries want sovereign independent Iran eliminated. So do rogue regional allies.
An interim deal at best delays possible military force. Employing it remains on the table.
So does potentially striking Iran with bunker buster or other nuclear weapons.They’re deployed close by. They’re ready to be launched on command.
Iran’s under no illusions. Washington and Israel can’t be trusted. Neither country negotiates in good faith. They’re all take and no give.
Agreements they reach are often breached. Regional tensions remain high.
Israeli German-supplied submarines carry nuclear missiles. Its warplanes are equipped to launch them. So can its long range missiles.
In mid-October, the IDF held war games. They included long-range warplane exercises. Air-to-air refueling was practiced. Drills over the Mediterranean were unusually extensive.
War games aren’t unusual. At the same time, practicing offensive tactics are worrisome. Israel notoriously attacks preemptively. It struck Syrian targets five times this year.
Perhaps it plans something major against Iran. If not now, maybe later. Maybe jointly with Washington.
Maybe at a more strategic time. Nuclear talks may be more subterfuge than real. The fullness of time will tell.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
I realize it is hard for some people to understand (especially those holding political office), but in the United States, “We the People” are the sovereigns. America has no king. In America, “We the People” are Caesar. Someone rightly said, “In America, the people rule; they have the power of the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” Amen. And in this land of liberty, nothing is more important than the jury box. The right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers is a benchmark principle of a free land.
Juries have immeasurable power. Not only do they have power over the fate of the accused, they have power over the accusers. No one has more authority than a jury–not even the judge. And without hyperbole I can say that a constitutionally literate, fully informed jury is pretty much all that stands between the ballot box and the cartridge box.
In a letter to Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I consider [trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.” And two years before the first musket shot was fired that started America’s War for Independence, a Boston lawyer by the name of John Adams said, “Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty. Without them we have no other fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swine and hounds.”
All of the rhetoric of modern judges notwithstanding, juries have a constitutional duty and obligation to judge, not only the merits of the case before them, but also the merits of the law which brought the accused before them. And America’s Founding Fathers agree with what I just said.
John Adams said, “It is not only his [the juror’s] right, but his duty…to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” Again, this is from one of our country’s most celebrated attorneys, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and America’s second President. America’s first Supreme Court Chief Justice agreed with Adams. John Jay wrote, “The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”
The rest of America’s founders agreed with Adams, Jay, and Jefferson. US Supreme Court Justice and signer of the Declaration, Samuel Chase, wrote, “The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.” Patrick Henry said, “Why do we love this trial by jury? Because it prevents the hand of oppression from cutting you off…This gives me comfort, that, as long as I have existence, my neighbors will protect me.”
Protect its neighbors is exactly what a jury in Liberty County, Florida, recently did. The neighbor in the case was none other than the county sheriff, Nick Finch. Infowars.com covers the story:
“Nick Finch, the Florida sheriff arrested in June after he defended the Second Amendment, has been declared ‘not guilty’ of the charges brought against him by the State of Florida, according to [former Graham County, Arizona, Sheriff] Richard Mack.
“The Liberty Co. sheriff was charged with felony ‘official misconduct’ and ‘falsifying public records’ after he released a suspect arrested on an unconstitutional gun charge and removed the arrest file.
“After closing arguments by prosecutors and the defense, the jury took less than 90 minutes to reach its verdict.”
The report continues saying, “During the trial, the sheriff testified that he released Floyd Eugene Parrish, who was arrested for unlawfully carrying a firearm, because he believed the Second Amendment trumped all state gun laws.
“As we reported back in June, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement accused Finch of covering up the arrest of Floyd Eugene Parrish after releasing him from the Liberty County Jail.
“On March 8, Sgt. James Joseph Hoagland of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office arrested Parrish during a traffic stop after finding a .25 automatic pistol in Parrish’s right front pocket and a holstered revolver in his car, according to court records.
“Parrish was then taken to the county jail.
“After being notified of Parrish’s arrest, Finch took the arrest file and told jailers that Parrish would be released with no charges, according to investigators.
“Finch also ordered both the pistol and revolver be returned.”
See the report here:
This verdict is one of the most important jury decisions in modern history; and how many reports did you see about it in the mainstream media? Where was ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, or FOX News?
Sheriff Finch is a modern-day Daniel. He stood for his principles, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people of his county; and he was thrown into a den of lions by Republican Governor Rick Scott and the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement). But an eight-person jury acquitted him of all charges and the sheriff was reinstated.
This is what a jury is supposed to do: protect its neighbors from the oppression of unlawful government. And that is exactly what that Liberty County jury did. They deserve the gratitude of liberty-loving people all over the United States.
It is pathetic and sad that Governor Scott did not stand with Sheriff Finch as he should have done. Scott threw this modern-day Daniel into the lion’s den, but God delivered him. Now the people of Florida should throw Governor Scott into the lion’s den (as King Darius did to Daniel’s accusers) by impeachment and removal from office for not defending the US Constitution, as he took an oath to do. I guarantee you that Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Chase, and John Jay would have stood with Sheriff Finch. And so would US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Justice Holmes said, “The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact.”
And bringing “a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact” is exactly what a Liberty County, Florida, jury did. They upheld the constitutional right of people to keep and bear arms, and they repudiated the Florida State gun-control laws that abridge that right under the rubric of license.
In truth, every law-abiding citizen in this country has a right under the US Constitution to carry his or her arms–concealed or open. It is past time for county sheriffs, State governors, and local juries to follow the example of Sheriff Finch and this Liberty County, Florida, jury. It is time for freedom-loving people in all 50 states to demand that these copious State and local gun-control laws that prohibit or restrict the right of the people to keep AND BEAR arms be expunged. That means, if you are called upon to serve on a jury in a case involving a law that restricts the Second Amendment right to freely keep and bear arms, you should do what this Liberty County, Florida, jury did and acquit the accused.
All over America, sheriffs and governors pretend to be supporters of the Constitution. All over America, sheriffs and governors give lip service to the Second Amendment. It is time the American people start demanding more than lip service from their elected officials. We need sheriffs like Nick Finch. And we need governors like…well, like PATRICK HENRY. (Sadly, I can’t think of a single governor today to use as an example.)
Patrick Henry said he depended on his neighbors, when sitting as a jury, to protect him. Happily, Sheriff Finch has some good neighbors. But in truth, juries do more than protect individuals; they protect liberty itself. Any law that infringes on or contradicts the Bill of Rights should be considered null and void by any citizen-jury. In this way, it is the citizen-jury, not the Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter of a law’s constitutionality. Without the veto power of the jury (call it nullification, if you will), America is not a country of, by, and for the People: but a country of, by, and for the politicians and judges.
Kudos to Sheriff Finch and the people of Liberty County, Florida.
If you would like to send personal kudos to Sheriff Finch, here is the website with his contact information:
Linguistic chaos and tension…
As a reminder validating the reason for this series: demographic experts project the United States adding 100 million immigrants to this country by 2050—a scant 37 years from now. All totaled, since we reached 300 million in October of 2007, we will add 138 million people by 2050 to total 438 million people—enough to duplicate 20 of our top cities’ populations to our country. The Pew Research Center, U.S. Population Projections by Fogel/Martin and the U.S. Census Bureau document those demographic facts.
From the dawn of time, ethnic tribes created languages to fit their understanding of their surroundings. Eskimos created words that defined ice, cold, caribou, whales and frozen seasons. Tribes in Africa created languages that described their trees, rivers, monkeys, elephants and zebras. Tribes in the desert of the Middle East formed entirely different languages based on heat, camels and sand storms.
Each language not only allowed tribes to communicate, language defined their “worldview” or how they perceived existence. That same language also formed their religions. They created their religions based on their fears of the unknown—to give them a sense of hope, community and purpose. Each language defined how a tribal member understood and interpreted the meaning of life.
Language also allowed human beings to become self-aware, pursue understandings of the world around them and form family and community bonds. It served them well and humanity advanced in word, thought and concepts.
Language also separated tribes because they could not understand one another. Back in those times, civilizations grew, but never mixed because few seldom stepped outside their territorial boundaries. However, when they stepped out of their “turf”, they fought in wars for dominance. History reads as one Great War or conflict after another right up to 2013. In the last 10 years, the USA fought two wars. Another 20 wars wage in different areas of the planet as you read this series.
Isolation of tribes changed with mass transportation first with the sailing ship, locomotive, automobile and finally the airplane. Today, we see cultures, civilizations and individual humans crossing over onto all seven continents.
The one thing they take with them with a powerful sense of meaning remains their culture and their language. It defines them and offers them meaning.
However, when they cross over into countries with totally different languages, cultures and meanings—they become ostracized, confused, marginalized, out of place and ultimately, angry.
No multicultural and multilingual country in the world today enjoys a peaceful state of being. Today, Canada struggles with French, Arabic, Chinese and other Asian languages overwhelming their schools via immigration.
Belgium, Lebanon and Malaysia suffer conflicts and tension from multiple languages. In those countries, minorities with different languages vie for autonomy. Pakistan separated from India and Cyprus divided because of language, religion and culture. Nigeria suppressed ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, Corsicans and a growing Muslim demographic.
With hundreds of languages in the world today, we see a clashing of civilizations, which ultimately come down to culture and language. A country without a single language in the 21st century faces ultimate disintegration of its culture, worldview and language.
With different languages come different ideas on how political “things” should proceed in a country. Some languages suppress all women’s rights. Other languages condone “honor killings” of women as a normal way of life.
Immanuel Kant said, “Language and religion are the great dividers.” You can see his wisdom working all over the planet in violent confrontations: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sweden, France, UK, Tunisia and many more.
A country, culture and language constitute more than a place to live. A language creates a state of mind, a worldview and distinct understanding of a person’s standing in life. His or her culture defines how he or she operates in the world. If a person in a country loses language and culture—they lose their ability to function in a viable manner.
If you notice all the terrorist attacks on the USA in the last 11 years, they came from people who speak other languages, come from other cultures—yet injected themselves into America via our immigration policies. From the 9/11 maniacs, to the Fort Dix Six, to the Times Square Bomber, to the Shoe Bomber, to the Underpants Bomber, to the Denver bomber, to the Fort Hood killer, to the Korean shooter at Virginia Tech, to the Boston Marathon Bomber, to the New Jersey Muslim who beheaded and be-handed two people last year—all of them arrived from a different language.
Unfortunately, at the present rate of 1.0 million legal immigrants annually and the proposed 2.0 million immigrants annually via Senate Bill 744 Amnesty, Americans guarantee themselves more bombings, more mass murderers and more language breakdown that descends on this country at blinding speed. Especially in education! Once we lose our literacy, we lose our ability to maintain a first world civilization.
Already, America faces a complete language change with Spanish when the Mexican tribe becomes the new majority in 2042, a scant 29 years from now. You can bet they will force their language onto America. In 2013, every business in America offers a phone recorder with “Press 1 for Spanish” and “Press 2 for English.” Already in Detroit, Michigan, a recorder says, “Press 1 for Arabic.”
This linguistic chaos speeds into America at such a rate of speed, that once it lands in greater numbers, we will not be able to turn back. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he sealed his face. If we citizens allow Congress to pass S744, we seal our fate as a multicultural and multi-linguistic nation guaranteed to fracture every community, our culture and our future.
You see, as former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm said, “Different languages create a deeper and more intractable separating factor. America has been successful because we have become one people. Language is the social glue, shared history and uniting symbols that tie us together.”
We need one language to bind us, one culture to sustain us. When a host country such as Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Europe and Holland lose their language, they lose their foundation.
If we continue on this current path, by 2050, America faces 100 million more immigrants with at least 100 to 150 new languages and they will press for their right to speak, learn and establish their languages in their tribal enclaves. They will crush English, crush our schools and create chaos in our culture. By 2050, America cannot help but become a multicultural morass, linguistic battlefield and suffer 100 million immigrants attempting to make their language THE language of America. It’s not going to be pretty for anybody because no one will be able to understand anyone else.
If you remember the Biblical Tower of Babel, God changed one language into multiple languages. They disagreed, fought, separated and finally abandoned the tower.
America faces the same fate with multiple languages.
You would have thought you were at a Harvest Festival.
The road leading up to the gated city is lined with food and refreshment booths. Other tables feature small, inexpensive toys. Bouquets of flowers are for sale, everywhere. The usual hawkers-for-donations circulate through the throngs, Red Cross dominating the polite requesters for money, young men in white shirts shaking their red and white containers at passersby. I drop in a few pesos.
You walk through these gates, however, and you enter another world. It is a gated compound, the city of the dead in San Cristobal de las Casas. Today, the doors to the tiny houses are flung open. Relatives sit on the small porches and share lunch, their faces gentled and softened. Candles flicker on the inside of the crypts. Through a door, I see one of the crypts has a bed in its spacious interior. It is empty.
Yellow and orange bouquets line the streets, bloom in the window boxes of the tiny houses and are extravagantly strewn on top of the smaller gravesites. Children squeal as they race between the houses. Their parents have brought special food, in remembrance of the residents of this city. Someone has left an uncorked bottle of champagne in front of one of the houses. You might think this was homecoming, or even Thanksgiving.
Last night, white crosses were laid out in the Center Square of the city, in remembrance of those killed in the Zapatista uprising. Each cross bore the name and age of the individual remembered. One cross was for a girl, age nineteen. Another cross was for a child, eight years old when the bullet stopped his breath.
Today, the rain has paused and the sun shines down on the festivities in the gated city. My tears are flowing freely now and I am unable to thwart them. I have no loved one here; I have no loved one.
Buried side by side in a manicured cemetery in Riverside County, her grave bears no marker. I cannot visit her there, my tears will not ever fall on American soil. Her name was Amalie, she was dark haired and amber eyed. She loved immoderately and with absolute conviction. Even the neighborhood strays knew there would always be food at her door. She was only one of many stuck down in the fullness of her years, robbed of the comforts of kin, ripped from her home and hidden from her own daughter and my tears are no longer silent, a cry rises in my throat and the names are rushing out
And there will be no memorial for America’s murdered elders, no day of mourning for those killed by their rapaciously greedy guardians, there will be no day carved out in time where we, the sons and daughters of murdered parents, can come together, bring flowers and their favorite chocolate brownies and sit with the others and bask in the tendrils of beauty they left behind. We have been silenced, too.
The clock is spinning wildly, round and round. What drives this world has gone amok, the esoteric blend of blood and money and I say the clock must stop. Not one more murdered child in Chiapas, not one more murdered mother in Riverside.
These tiny houses cast their shadows. I pick my way through the darkness of the day, through the memories of flowers, back to the city of the living, where I still claim a foothold. The cats are waiting in the garden when I get home and I fill their dishes. It is the very best I can think to do.
Iran to Follow?
Damascus – Additional easing of Syrian sanctions is expected by mid-November according to staff at the US Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Asset Control (OFAC).
Pressure on Obama from Putin is part of the ‘price tag’ for Russia’s role in bailing out the American president, whose chemical weapons ‘redline’ became something of an albatross. But another reason for the relaxation is that the White House believes it needs to communicate to Damascus that prospects for better relations, and possibly even some cooperation, are not completely dead, despite the 32-month crisis still raging in the Syrian Arab Republic.
This second easing of sanctions will show more balance and neutrality than those of last June, which were perceived as supporting Saudi and Gulf aid to the rebels while weakening the Assad government just as the Syrian Army had begun gaining back ground from the rebels. At that time, licenses for exports of certain goods related to reconstruction of infrastructure were allowed in areas held by the rebels. Specifically, OFAC indicated that license applications would be accepted for commodities, technology and software related to water supply and sanitation, agricultural production and food processing, power generation, oil and gas production, construction and engineering, transportation, and educational infrastructure. Most benefited would be rebel-controlled areas.
No doubt it is with a deep patriotic spirit of wanting to help out their fellow Americans, that the US Treasury Departments heavily pro-Zionist OFAC asks US citizens to “consult our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to find answers to your most commonly-asked questions about how Syrian and Iranian sanctions may affect your own families and your business.”
That is unlikely to be easy given the obfuscatory legalize of the sanctions texts.
There are currently three types of sanctions that the U.S. government has imposed against Syria. The most comprehensive sanction, called the Syria Accountability Act (SAA) of 2004, prohibits the export of most goods containing more than 10% U.S.-manufactured component parts to Syria. Another sanction, resulting from the USA Patriot Act, was levied specifically against the Commercial Bank of Syria in 2006. The third type of sanction contains many Executive Orders from the President that specifically deny certain Syrian citizens and entities access to the U.S. financial system due to their participation in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, association with Al Qaida, the Taliban or Osama bin Laden; or destabilizing activities in Iraq and Lebanon.
Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act
In May 2004, the President signed E.O. 13338 implementing the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SAA) which imposes a series of sanctions against Syria for its support for terrorism, involvement in Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction programs, and the destabilizing role it is playing in Iraq.
In addition, the Treasury Department’s Statement of Policy indicated that OFAC would consider on a case-by-case basis applications to permit certain services in the agricultural sector, as well as in the Syrian telecommunication industry, enabling private citizens better access to the Internet, while certain petroleum transactions benefiting rebel forces were also authorized. OFAC also revised Syria General License 11 and replaced it with General License 11A authorizing NGOs to engage in activities to preserve the cultural heritage of the country, including museums, historic buildings and archaeological sites.
The new lifting of sanctions, tentatively scheduled to be announced next month, will help the Assad government because international banking and trade prohibitions are expected to be reduced. At the same time, US officials are discussing with their Russian “partners” a number of proposals that would acknowledge the right of the Syrian people to choose who to support in next year’s Presidential elections without Washington insisting that Syrian President Bashar Assad step down as part of a “transition to democracy.”
In addition, the White House is telling Congressional leaders, loudly enough for all to hear, that the president’s recent waiving of restrictions on supplying arms to Syrian rebels was much more limited than depicted in mainstream media reports. In fact, the waiver—on certain portions of the Arms Export Control Act—authorizes only specific transfers to “vetted” members of the opposition and to NGOs in Syria. The defense items to be provided are described as those “necessary for the conduct of …operations inside or related to Syria, or to prevent the preparation, use, or proliferation of Syria’s chemical weapons.” Who was to be responsible for “vetting” the opposition members was not specified, nor were the particular articles detailed. But significantly the White House claims this is not a general waiver, but rather one with regard to a single specific contemplated transaction. Defense companies do not now have a blanket license to ship their wares to the Syrian opposition. This is because Section 40(g) of the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2780 (g), specifically gives the President authority to waive the provisions of the Act with respect to a specific transaction should he find that the waiver is “essential to the national security interests of the United States” and should he make the requisite report on the waiver to Congress. His determination on that finding directs the Secretary of State to make the required report to Congress.
The main opposition to White House plans to lessen the civilian targeting sanctions comes, as usual, from the US Congressional Zionist lobby. Israel’s supporters in Congress seek to prevent any lessening of US sanctions—against Iran first, and Syria second. Two days of talks are about to begin in Vienna between experts from the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) and their Iranian counterparts, who will discuss technical issues relating to Tehran’s nuclear program and international sanctions. The meeting will help lay the groundwork for the next round of diplomatic negotiations, scheduled to take place in Geneva on November 7-8, and it is anticipated that the White House will accede to EU and Russian proposals to send a reciprocal good faith response to Tehran by lifting some of the sanctions targeting Iranian civilians. Although the P5+1 and Tehran have agreed to keep the contents of their negotiations secret, the general aim of the talks has been for Iran to reduce its capacity to enrich uranium and certain other nuclear activities in return for relief from the sanctions regime, which is strangling the nation’s economy. The main hurdles include verification of any concessions Iran makes and the sequencing of any reduction in sanctions.
Signs of progress were visible earlier this week in comments made after separate talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. In a rare joint statement, both sides called the talks “very productive”—a significant departure from eleven previous meetings in recent years, all of which failed to achieve progress in resolving what the IAEA has called the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. The new joint statement also indicates that a document discussed in past meetings has been set aside and a new approach taken.
Eager as it is for negotiations to succeed, the Obama administration has also echoed the Zionist lobby’s contention that “no deal is better than a bad deal.” Yet if the talks fail, international support for sanctions will likely begin to fall apart, reducing U.S. leverage even further.
The world is watching, particularly U.S. allies in Europe and Asia, as well as regional “friends” like Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Though reportedly interested in lifting some of the sanctions on Syria and Iran, the White House is facing stiff opposition from Tel Aviv and Riyadh, with both governments criticizing the US for its lack of resolve in Syria and its presumed conciliatory attitude toward Iran.
Secretary of State John Kerry is reportedly slated to continue meetings with Saudi-Israeli officials in an attempt to tamp down their growing angst.
He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. Who’s still utterly, terrifyingly human.
From the darkness of a box in the Nevada desert, he watched as three men trudged down a dirt road in Afghanistan. The box was kept cold—precisely sixty-eight degrees—and the only light inside came from the glow of monitors. The air smelled spectrally of stale sweat and cigarette smoke. On his console, the image showed the midwinter landscape of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province—a palette of browns and grays, fields cut to stubble, dark forests climbing the rocky foothills of the Hindu Kush. He zoomed the camera in on the suspected insurgents, each dressed in traditional shalwar kameez, long shirts and baggy pants. He knew nothing else about them: not their names, not their thoughts, not the thousand mundane and profound details of their lives.
He was told that they were carrying rifles on their shoulders, but for all he knew, they were shepherd’s staffs. Still, the directive from somewhere above, a mysterious chain of command that led straight to his headset, was clear: confirmed weapons. He switched from the visible spectrum—the muted grays and browns of “day-TV”—to the sharp contrast of infrared, and the insurgents’ heat signatures stood out ghostly white against the cool black earth. A safety observer loomed behind him to make sure the “weapon release” was by the book. A long verbal checklist, his targeting laser locked on the two men walking in front. A countdown—three…two…one…—then the flat delivery of the phrase “missile off the rail.” Seventy-five hundred miles away, a Hellfire flared to life, detached from its mount, and reached supersonic speed in seconds.
It was quiet in the dark, cold box in the desert, except for the low hum of machines.
He kept the targeting laser trained on the two lead men and stared so intently that each individual pixel stood out, a glowing pointillist dot abstracted from the image it was meant to form. Time became almost ductile, the seconds stretched and slowed in a strange electronic limbo. As he watched the men walk, the one who had fallen behind seemed to hear something and broke into a run to catch up with the other two. Then, bright and silent as a camera flash, the screen lit up with white flame.
Airman First Class Brandon Bryant stared at the scene, unblinking in the white-hot clarity of infrared. He recalls it even now, years later, burned into his memory like a photo negative: “The smoke clears, and there’s pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there’s this guy over here, and he’s missing his right leg above his knee. He’s holding it, and he’s rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it’s hitting the ground, and it’s hot. His blood is hot. But when it hits the ground, it starts to cool off; the pool cools fast. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him. I watched him become the same color as the ground he was lying on.”
That was Brandon Bryant’s first shot. It was early 2007, a few weeks after his twenty-first birthday, and Bryant was a remotely-piloted-aircraft sensor operator—a “sensor” for short—part of a U.S. Air Force squadron that flew Predator drones in the skies above Iraq and Afghanistan. Beginning in 2006, he worked in the windowless metal box of a Ground Control Station (GCS) at Nellis Air Force Base, a vast sprawl of tarmac and maintenance hangars at the edge of Las Vegas.
The airmen kept the control station dark so they could focus on controlling their MQ-1B Predators circling two miles above the Afghan countryside. Bryant sat in a padded cockpit chair. He had a wrestler’s compact build, a smooth-shaved head, and a piercing ice blue gaze frequently offset by a dimpled grin. As a sensor, his job was to work in tandem with the drone’s pilot, who sat in the chair next to him. While the pilot controlled the drone’s flight maneuvers, Bryant acted as the Predator’s eyes, focusing its array of cameras and aiming its targeting laser. When a Hellfire was launched, it was a joint operation: the pilot pulled a trigger, and Bryant was responsible for the missile’s “terminal guidance,” directing the high-explosive warhead by laser to its desired objective. Both men wore regulation green flight suits, an unironic Air Force nod to the continuity of military decorum in the age of drone warfare.
The Air Force’s go-to drone: The MQ-1 Predator.
Since its inception, the drone program has been largely hidden, its operational details gathered piecemeal from heavily redacted classified reports or stage-managed media tours by military public-affairs flacks. Bryant is one of very few people with firsthand experience as an operator who has been willing to talk openly, to describe his experience from the inside. While Bryant considers leakers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden heroes willing to sacrifice themselves for their principles, he’s cautious about discussing some of the details to which his top-secret clearance gave him access. Still, he is a curtain drawn back on the program that has killed thousands on our behalf.
Despite President Obama’s avowal earlier this year that he will curtail their use, drone strikes have continued apace in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan. With enormous potential growth and expenditures, drones will be a center of our policy for the foreseeable future. (By 2025, drones will be an $82 billion business, employing an additional 100,000 workers.) Most Americans—61 percent in the latest Pew survey—support the idea of military drones, a projection of American power that won’t risk American lives.
And yet the very idea of drones unsettles. They’re too easy a placeholder or avatar for all of our technological anxieties—the creeping sense that screens and cameras have taken some piece of our souls, that we’ve slipped into a dystopia of disconnection. Maybe it’s too soon to know what drones mean, what unconsidered moral and ethical burdens they carry. Even their shape is sinister: the blunt and featureless nose cone, like some eyeless creature that has evolved in darkness.
For Bryant, talking about them has become a sort of confessional catharsis, a means of processing the things he saw and did during his six years in the Air Force as an experimental test subject in an utterly new form of warfare.
Looking back, it was really little more than happenstance that had led him to that box in the desert. He’d been raised poor by his single mom, a public-school teacher in Missoula, Montana, and he struggled to afford tuition at the University of Montana. In the summer of 2005, after tagging along with a buddy to the Army recruiting office, he wandered into the Air Force office next door. His friend got a bad feeling and bailed at the last minute, but Bryant had already signed his papers. In short order he was running around at Lackland Air Force Base during Warrior Week in the swelter of a Texas summer. He wasn’t much for military hierarchy, but he scored high on his aptitude tests and was shunted into intelligence, training to be an imagery analyst. He was told he would be like “the guys that give James Bond all the information that he needs to get the mission done.”
Most of the airmen in his intel class were funneled into the drone program, training at Creech Air Force Base in the sagebrush desert an hour north of Las Vegas. Bryant was told it was the largest group ever inducted. His sensor-operator course took ten weeks and led into “green flag” exercises, during which airmen piloted Predators and launched dummy Hellfires at a cardboard town mocked up in the middle of the desert. The missiles, packed with concrete, would punch through the derelict tanks and wrecked cars placed around the set. “It’s like playing Dungeons & Dragons,” says Bryant. “Roll a d20 to see if you hit your target.” His training inspector, watching over his shoulder, would count down to impact and say, “Splash! You killed everyone.”
Within a few months he “went off” to war, flying missions over Iraq at the height of the conflict’s deadliest period, even though he never left Nevada.
His opening day on the job was also his worst. The drone took off from Balad Air Base, fifty miles outside Baghdad in the Sunni Triangle. Bryant’s orders, delivered during a pre-shift mission briefing, were straightforward: a force-protection mission, acting as a “guardian angel” over a convoy of Humvees. He would search out IEDs, insurgent activity, and other threats. It was night in the U.S. and already daylight in Iraq when the convoy rolled out.
From 10,000 feet, Bryant scanned the road with infrared. Traffic was quiet. Everything normal. Then he spotted a strange circle, glowing faintly on the surface of the road. A common insurgent’s technique for laying IEDs is to douse a tire with gasoline, set it afire on a roadway, and dig up the softened tar beneath. The technique leaves a telltale heat signature, visible in infrared. Bryant, a fan ofThe Lord of the Rings, joked that it looked like the glowing Eye of Sauron.
Flying a drone can feel like a deadly two-person video game—with a pilot (left) and sensor (right).
Bryant pointed the spot out to the pilot, who agreed it looked like trouble. But when they tried to warn the convoy, they realized they couldn’t. The Humvees had activated their radio jammers to disrupt the cell-phone signals used to remotely detonate IEDs. The drone crew’s attempts at radio contact were as useless as shouting at the monitor. Brandon and his pilot patched in their flight supervisor to brainstorm a new way to reach them. They typed frantically back and forth in a group chat, a string of messages that soon included a cast of superiors in the U.S. and Iraq. Minutes passed, and the convoy rolled slowly toward the glowing circle. Bryant stared at the screen, heart pounding, scarcely breathing. The lead Humvee rolled across the eye. “Nothing happens,” says Bryant. “And we’re kind of like, maybe it was a mistake. Everyone’s like Whew, good on you for spotting it, but we’re glad that it wasn’t what you thought it was.” He remembers exhaling, feeling the nervous tension flow out of him.
“And the second vehicle comes along and boom.…”
A white flash of flame blossomed on the screen. Bryant was zoomed in as close as he could get, toggling his view between infrared and day-TV, watching in unblinking horror as the shredded Humvee burned. His headset exploded with panicked chatter from the ground in Iraq: What the fuck happened? We’ve got guys down over here! Frantic soldiers milled around, trying to pull people out of the smoldering wreckage. The IED had been tripped by either a pressure plate or manual detonation; the radio jammers would have done nothing to prevent it. Three soldiers were severely wounded, and two were killed.
“I kind of finished the night numb,” Bryant says. “Then you just go home. No one talked about it. No one talked about how they felt after anything. It was like an unspoken agreement that you wouldn’t talk about your experiences.”
The pace of work in the box unraveled Bryant’s sense of time. He worked twelve-hour shifts, often overnight, six days a week. Both wars were going badly at the time, and the Air Force leaned heavily on its new drone fleet. A loaded Predator drone can stay aloft for eighteen hours, and the pilots and sensors were pushed to be as tireless as the technology they controlled. (Bryant claims he didn’t get to take leave for the first four years he served.)
Even the smell of that little shed in the desert got to Bryant. The hermetically sealed control center was almost constantly occupied—you couldn’t take a bathroom break without getting swapped out—and the atmosphere was suffused with traces of cigarette smoke and rank sweat that no amount of Febreze could mask. One bored pilot even calculated the number of farts each cockpit seat was likely to have absorbed.
Mostly the drone crews’ work was an endless loop of watching: scanning roads, circling compounds, tracking suspicious activity. If there was a “troops-in-contact” situation—a firefight, ground troops who call in a strike—Bryant’s Predator could be called to the scene in minutes with its deadly payload. But usually time passed in a haze of banal images of rooftops, walled courtyards, or traffic-snarled intersections.
Sitting in the darkness of the control station, Bryant watched people on the other side of the world go about their daily lives, completely unaware of his all-seeing presence wheeling in the sky above. If his mission was to monitor a high-value target, he might linger above a single house for weeks. It was a voyeuristic intimacy. He watched the targets drink tea with friends, play with their children, have sex with their wives on rooftops, writhing under blankets. There were soccer matches, and weddings too. He once watched a man walk out into a field and take a crap, which glowed white in infrared.
Bryant came up with little subterfuges to pass the long hours at the console: sneaking in junk food, mending his uniforms, swapping off twenty-minute naps with the pilot. He mastered reading novels while still monitoring the seven screens of his station, glancing up every minute or two before returning to the page. He constructed a darkly appropriate syllabus for his occupation. He read the dystopian sci-fi classic Ender’s Game, about children whose violent simulated games turn out to be actual warfare. Then came Asimov, Bryant pondering his Three Laws of Robotics in an age of Predators and Hellfires. A robot may not injure a human being….
Bryant took five shots in his first nine months on the job. After a strike he was tasked with lingering over a site for several haunting hours, conducting surveillance for an “after-action report.” He might watch people gather up the remains of those killed and carry them to the local cemetery or scrub the scene by dumping weapons into a river. Over Iraq he followed an insurgent commander as he drove through a crowded marketplace. The man parked in the middle of the street, opened his trunk, and pulled two girls out. “They were bound and gagged,” says Bryant. “He put them down on their knees, executed them in the middle of the street, and left them there. People just watched it and didn’t do anything.” Another time, Bryant watched as a local official groveled in his own grave before being executed by two Taliban insurgents.
Keepsakes from Bryant’s service are proudly displayed in his mother’s classroom.
In the early months Bryant had found himself swept up by the Big Game excitement when someone in his squadron made “mind-blowingly awesome shots, situations where these guys were bad guys and needed to be taken out.” But a deep ambivalence about his work crept in. Often he’d think about what life must be like in those towns and villages his Predators glided over, like buzzards riding updrafts. How would he feel, living beneath the shadow of robotic surveillance? “Horrible,” he says now. But at first, he believed that the mission was vital, that drones were capable of limiting the suffering of war, of saving lives. When this notion conflicted with the things he witnessed in high resolution from two miles above, he tried to put it out of his mind. Over time he found that the job made him numb: a “zombie mode” he slipped into as easily as his flight suit.
Bryant’s second shot came a few weeks after targeting the three men on that dirt road in Kunar. He was paired with a pilot he didn’t much like, instructed to monitor a compound that intel told them contained a high-value individual—maybe a Taliban commander or Al Qaeda affiliate, nobody briefed him on the specifics. It was a typical Afghan mud-brick home, goats and cows milling around a central courtyard. They watched a corner of the compound’s main building, bored senseless for hours. They assumed the target was asleep.
Then the quiet ended. “We get this word that we’re gonna fire,” he says. “We’re gonna shoot and collapse the building. They’ve gotten intel that the guy is inside.” The drone crew received no further information, no details of who the target was or why he needed a Hellfire dropped on his roof.
Bryant’s laser hovered on the corner of the building. “Missile off the rail.” Nothing moved inside the compound but the eerily glowing cows and goats. Bryant zoned out at the pixels. Then, about six seconds before impact, he saw a hurried movement in the compound. “This figure runs around the corner, the outside, toward the front of the building. And it looked like a little kid to me. Like a little human person.”
Bryant stared at the screen, frozen. “There’s this giant flash, and all of a sudden there’s no person there.” He looked over at the pilot and asked, “Did that look like a child to you?” They typed a chat message to their screener, an intelligence observer who was watching the shot from “somewhere in the world”—maybe Bagram, maybe the Pentagon, Bryant had no idea—asking if a child had just run directly into the path of their shot.
“And he says, ‘Per the review, it’s a dog.’ ”
Bryant and the pilot replayed the shot, recorded on eight-millimeter tape. They watched it over and over, the figure darting around the corner. Bryant was certain it wasn’t a dog.
If they’d had a few more seconds’ warning, they could have aborted the shot, guided it by laser away from the compound. Bryant wouldn’t have cared about wasting a $95,000 Hellfire to avoid what he believed had happened. But as far as the official military version of events was concerned, nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The pilot “was the type of guy to not argue with command,” says Bryant. So the pilot’s after-action report stated that the building had been destroyed, the high-value target eliminated. The report made no mention of a dog or any other living thing. The child, if there had been a child, was an infrared ghost.
The closest Bryant ever got to “real” combat—the roadside bombs and mortar fire experienced by combat troops—was after volunteering to deploy to Iraq. He spent the scorching summer and fall of 2007 stationed at the airfield in Balad, flying Predators on base-defense missions—scanning the area for insurgents. Some troops thanked the drone crews for being “angels in the sky,” but more often they were the butt of jokes, mocked as “chair-borne rangers” who would “only earn a Purple Heart for burning themselves on a Hot Pocket.”
Bryant struggled to square the jokes with the scenes that unfolded on his monitors. On one shift, he was told by command that they needed coordinates on an insurgent training compound and asked him to spot it. There was a firing range, and he watched as a group of fighters all entered the same building. One of the issues with targeting insurgents was that they often traveled with their families, and there was no way to tell who exactly was in any given building. Bryant lasered the building as he was ordered. Moments later, smoke mushroomed high into the air, a blast wave leveling the entire compound. An F-16, using Bryant’s laser coordinates as guidance, had dropped a 1,000-pound bomb on the building—ten times the size of a Hellfire. “They didn’t actually tell us that they were gonna blow it up,” says Bryant. “We’re like, ‘Wow, that was nice of you to inform us of that.’ ”
In 2008, Bryant was transferred to a new post in “the shittiest place in the world,” a drone squadron out of Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico, where, Bryant says, “the air is not oxygen, it’s basically cow shit.” He continued as an operator for several more years, but his directive had changed. He was now mainly tracking high-value targets for the Joint Special Operations Command—the same secret-shrouded branch of the service that spearheaded the hunt for Osama bin Laden. “We were going after top dudes. They started showing us PowerPoint presentations on who these people are,” he says. “Why we’re after him, and what he did. I liked that. I liked being able to know shit like that.”
Bryant has never been philosophically opposed to the use of drones—he sees them as a tool, like any other, that can be used for good ends, citing their potential use to fight poachers, or to monitor forest fires. For him it’s about who controls them, and toward what ends. “It can’t be a small group of people deciding how they’re used,” he says. “There’s got to be transparency. People have to know how they’re being used so they’re used responsibly.”
Transparency has not been the defining feature of U.S. drone policy over the last decade. Even as Bryant was being trained to operate drones in our very public wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a parallel and clandestine drone war was being waged in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Since 2004, the CIA has carried out hundreds of strikes in Pakistani territory, cutting secret deals with Pakistani intelligence to operate a covert assassination program. Another covert CIA drone base was operated from Saudi Arabia, launching strikes against militants in the lawless and mountainous interior of Yemen. While Bryant never flew for the CIA itself, their drone operators were drawn directly from the Air Force ranks.
While stationed in Clovis, among the highest-value targets Bryant’s squadron hunted was Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born Yemeni imam and Al Qaeda recruiter. Al-Awlaki was ultimately killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September 2011 (as was his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, a few weeks later). But Bryant claims his Air Force squadron “did most of the legwork” to pinpoint his location.
By 2011, Bryant had logged nearly 6,000 hours of flight time, flown hundreds of missions, targeted hundreds of enemies. He was in what he describes as “a fugue state of mind.” At the entrance to his flight headquarters in Clovis, in front of a large bulletin board, plastered with photographs of targets like al-Awlaki, he looked up at the faces and asked: “What motherfucker’s gonna die today?”
It seemed like someone else’s voice was speaking, some dark alter ego. “I knew I had to get out.”
By the spring of 2011, almost six years after he’d signed on, Senior Airman Brandon Bryant left the Air Force, turning down a $109,000 bonus to keep flying. He was presented with a sort of scorecard covering his squadron’s missions. “They gave me a list of achievements,” he says. “Enemies killed, enemies captured, high-value targets killed or captured, stuff like that.” He called it his diploma. He hadn’t lased the target or pulled the trigger on all of the deaths tallied, but by flying in the missions he felt he had enabled them. “The number,” he says, “made me sick to my stomach.”
Total enemies killed in action: 1,626.
Since speaking out about drones, Bryant has been a target.
“After that first missile hit, I didn’t really talk to anyone for a couple weeks.” Bryant spoke to me while driving his beat-up black Dodge Neon in looping cursive circles around his hometown of Missoula. A yellow support-the-troops sticker on his bumper was obscured by a haze of road salt. The car’s interior was festooned with patches from the different units he’d served with; in the back seat was a military pack stuffed with equal parts dirty laundry and bug-out gear. The gray midwinter sky weighed on a procession of strip malls and big-box stores; the snowy crenellations of the Bitterroot Range stretched far away to the south. He stared ahead as though watching the scene of his shot on an endless loop. “I didn’t know what it meant to kill someone. And watching the aftermath, watching someone bleed out, because of something that I did?”
That night, on the drive home, he’d started sobbing. He pulled over and called his mother. “She just was like, ‘Everything will be okay,’ and I told her I killed someone, I killed people, and I don’t feel good about it. And she’s like, ‘Good, that’s how it should feel, you should never not feel that way.’ ”
Other members of his squadron had different reactions to their work. One sensor operator, whenever he made a kill, went home and chugged an entire bottle of whiskey. A female operator, after her first shot, refused to fire again even under the threat of court martial. Another pilot had nightmares after watching two headless bodies float down the Tigris. Bryant himself would have bizarre dreams where the characters from his favorite game, World of Warcraft, appeared in infrared.
By mid-2011, Bryant was back in Missoula, only now he felt angry, isolated, depressed. While getting a video game at a Best Buy, he showed his military ID with his credit card, and a teenage kid behind him in line spoke up. “He’s like, ‘Oh, you’re in the military; my brother, he’s a Marine, he’s killed like thirty-six dudes, and he tells me about it all the time.’ And I turn around and say, ‘If you fucking ever talk like this to me again, I will stab you. Don’t ever disrespect people’s deaths like that ever again.’ ” The kid went pale, and Bryant took his game and left.
At the urging of a Vietnam veteran he met at the local VA office, Bryant finally went to see a therapist. After a few sessions, he just broke down: “I told her I wanted to be a hero, but I don’t feel like a hero. I wanted to do something good, but I feel like I just wasted the last six years of my life.” She diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
It was an unexpected diagnosis. For decades the model for understanding PTSD has been “fear conditioning”: quite literally the lasting psychological ramifications of mortal terror. But a term now gaining wider acceptance is “moral injury.” It represents a tectonic realignment, a shift from a focusing on the violence that has been done to a person in wartime toward his feelings about what he has done to others—or what he’s failed to do for them. The concept is attributed to the clinical psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who in his book Achilles in Vietnam traces the idea back as far as the Trojan War. The mechanisms of death may change—as intimate as a bayonet or as removed as a Hellfire—but the bloody facts, and their weight on the human conscience, remain the same. Bryant’s diagnosis of PTSD fits neatly into this new understanding. It certainly made sense to Bryant. “I really have no fear,” he says now. “It’s more like I’ve had a soul-crushing experience. An experience that I thought I’d never have. I was never prepared to take a life.”
In 2011, Air Force psychologists completed a mental-health survey of 600 combat drone operators. Forty-two percent of drone crews reported moderate to high stress, and 20 percent reported emotional exhaustion or burnout. The study’s authors attributed their dire results, in part, to “existential conflict.” A later study found that drone operators suffered from the same levels of depression, anxiety, PTSD, alcohol abuse, and suicidal ideation as traditional combat aircrews. These effects appeared to spike at the exact time of Bryant’s deployment, during the surge in Iraq. (Chillingly, to mitigate these effects, researchers have proposed creating a Siri-like user interface, a virtual copilot that anthropomorphizes the drone and lets crews shunt off the blame for whatever happens. Siri, have those people killed.)
In the summer of 2012, Bryant rejoined the Air Force as a reservist, hoping to get into the famed SERE program (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape), where he would help train downed pilots to survive behind enemy lines. After so much killing, he wanted to save people. But after a severe concussion in a training accident, he dropped out and returned once more to Missoula. He walked with a cane, had headaches and memory lapses, and fell into a black depression.
During the worst of it, Bryant would make the rounds of Missoula’s dozens of roughneck bars and drink himself to blackout on whiskey and cokes, vanishing for days or weeks on end. Many of those nights he would take his government-issued minus-forty-degree sleeping bag and pull into a parking lot in the middle of town next to the Clark Fork river. There’s a small park with a wooden play structure there, built to look like a dragon with slides and ladders descending from it. He would climb to the little lookout deck at the top, blind drunk, and sleep there, night after night.
He doesn’t remember much of that hazy period last summer, but his mother, LanAnn, does. Several times he had left a strange locked case sitting out on the kitchen table at her house, and she had put it back in the closet. The third day she woke to find the case open, with a loaded Sig Sauer P226 semi-automatic pistol lying out. Terrified that he might kill himself, she gave it to a friend with a locked gun safe. She’d only told her son about it a week earlier. He had no memory of any of it.
“I really thought we were going to lose him,” LanAnn Bryant says now.
Something needed to change. Bryant hoped that by going to the press, people would understand drone crews’ experience of war, that it was “more than just a video game” to them. In the fall, he spoke to a reporter for the German newsweekly Der Spiegel. The story was translated into English, and the British tabloid Daily Mail picked it up, posting it with the wildly inaccurate headline drone operator followed orders to shoot a child…and decided he had to quit. The story went viral.
The backlash from the drone community was immediate and fierce. Within days, 157 people on Bryant’s Facebook page had de-friended him. “You are a piece of shit liar. Rot in hell,” wrote a former Air Force comrade. In a sort of exercise in digital self-flagellation, Bryant read thousands of Reddit comments about himself, many filled with blistering vitriol and recrimination. “I read every single one of them,” he says. “I was trying to just get used to the negative feelings.” The spectrum of critics ranged from those who considered drone warfare a crime against humanity to combat veterans who thought Bryant was a whiner. He’d had death threats as well—none he took seriously—and other people said he should be charged with treason and executed for speaking to the media. On the day of one of our interviews, The New York Times ran an article about the military’s research into PTSD among drone operators. I watched as he scanned a barrage of Facebook comments mocking the very idea that drone operators could suffer trauma:
>I broke a fucking nail on that last mission!
>Maybe they should wear seatbelts
>they can claim PTSD when they have to do “Body Collection & Identification”
And then Bryant waded in:
>I’m ashamed to have called any of you assholes brothers in arms.
>Combat is combat. Killing is killing. This isn’t a video game. How many of you have killed a group of people, watched as their bodies are picked up, watched the funeral, then killed them too?
>Yeah, it’s not the same as being on the ground. So fucking what? Until you know what it is like and can make an intelligent meaningful assessment, shut your goddamn fucking mouths before somebody shuts them for you.
Bryant’s defense—a virtual battle over an actual war—left him seething at his keyboard. He says that when flying missions, he sometimes felt himself merging with the technology, imagining himself as a robot, a zombie, a drone itself. Such abstractions don’t possess conscience or consciousness; drones don’t care what they mean, but Bryant most certainly does. Now he plans to study to be an EMT, maybe get work on an ambulance, finally be able to save people like he always wanted. He no longer has infrared dreams, no longer closes his eyes and sees those strange polarized shadows flit across them.
Bryant closed his laptop and went out into the yard, tossing a tennis ball to his enormous bounding Japanese mastiff. Fingers of snow extended down through the dark forests of the Bitterroot, and high white contrails in the big sky caught the late-afternoon sunlight. The landscape of western Montana, Bryant observed, bears a striking resemblance to the Hindu Kush of eastern Afghanistan—a place he’s seen only pixelated on a monitor. It was a cognitive dissonance he had often felt flying missions, as he tried to remind himself that the world was just as real when seen in a grainy image as with the naked eye, that despite being filtered through distance and technology, cause and effect still applied. This is the uncanny valley over which our drones circle. We look through them at the world, and ultimately stare back at ourselves.
After the U.S. government shutdown you’d expect Republicans and Democrats to remain at each others’ throats, so different was their vision for the country, or so it appeared.
In reality, however, only a bit of the political theater was reserved for “Tea Party” Republicans to invest in their political future by denouncing Obamacare, which they know will enrage millions of people forced to buy shoddy corporate health care; many of these future victims of Obamacare will become diehard Teapartiers.
But the real intent behind the government shutdown was lost on the mute American media. The Republicans were once again allowed to use the threat of government default to steer the Obama administration to the right — the right-leaning tail wagging the dog of government in the direction of a “Grand Bargain” to cut “entitlement” programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and other public services.
But like real dogs, government body and tail cannot be separated: the Democrats are allowing themselves to be “wagged” because they fully agree with the Republican’s neoliberal agenda.
The essence of neoliberalism can be reduced to the following: government should be used exclusively to help big business and the wealthy with tax cuts, subsidies, privatizations, anti-labor laws, etc., while all government programs that help working and poor people should be eliminated. It’s really that simple.
In practice, Obama’s neoliberalism is blatant: after bailing out the banks he continues to approve of the printing of thousands of billions of Federal Reserve dollars to give to the wealthy and big banks who are racking in record profits, while the jobs crisis is ignored and public services slashed on a state by state level without hope of a government bailout.
Since Obama has been in office, a shocking 95 percent of income gains went to the richest 1%. This is not the blind hand of the free market, but government policy, which can be adjusted to reflect the priorities of working people.
Obama dodges responsibility for his neoliberal policies by giving empty speeches about “hope” and whining about the very wealth inequality that he creates via policy. He gives speeches to labor unions about how it’s “unfair” that the rich just happen to be getting richer, while working people continue to suffer. Working people learned long ago to ignore Obama’s “progressive” blather, while the leaders of national unions drink in his words as if gulping from the Holy Grail.
The first steps of the coming Grand Bargain have already been taken: the “sequester” — massive cuts to national social programs including Medicare — have been extended as a result of government shutdown “negotiations.” And now the media is casually reporting that a Grand Bargain that further “reduces entitlements” is inevitable, but it will be only a “small” bargain, so no need to worry.
The New York Times reports:
“Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to mitigate those [military sequester] cuts by spreading them among various social programs, like education and Social Security…”
Obama has said several times that he’s more than prepared to use Social Security as a bargaining chip in his Grand Bargain.
At a time when more services are needed, they will be cut instead. Aside from the suffering it will cause millions of people, a “small” Grand Bargain will also create a precedent for even more “bargains” in the future, since the first step in creating negative social change is often the hardest, but once the foot is in the door the process accelerates.
Neoliberalism has already advanced on a state-by-state basis in the U.S., with Democrat and Republican governors in bi-partisan agreement that has drastically cut education and other social services, attacked the wages and benefits of state workers, while lowering the state taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
Large scale neoliberalism on a national level — like the coming Grand Bargain — is sometimes referred to as a “structural reform,” meaning that a major component of a nation’s economic policy is shifted, or eliminated.
For example, Social Security and Medicare are two bedrock social programs that constitute a major piece of U.S. budget spending, affecting hundreds of millions of people.
The attacks on Social Security, Medicare, and public education are neoliberal-style ”structural reforms,” essentially a corporate attempt to change the underlying social compact of U.S. society that was created under Franklin D. Roosevelt and expanded under Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs.
How was the U.S. social compact formed? Like all social policy, it was a reflection of power, specifically the balance of forces between the corporate and working classes in the U.S. In the 1930s and 1940s, massive strike waves led to an ever-larger unionized workforce that repeatedly flexed its muscles by demanding living wages, health care, and other social programs.
These demands were backed up by waging mass demonstrations and industry-wide actions along with sympathy strikes. After WWII a third of the U.S. workforce was organized in labor unions, which shifted the entire labor market in favor of all working people, while also shifting the ground on which national social policy was created. A semblance of democracy was not possible without recognizing the demands of the powerfully organized working class.
When arch-conservative Richard Nixon famously declared “we’re all Keynesians now,” he was merely recognizing the balance of power that existed in the U.S. political system, and the unwillingness of the elites to challenge this social pact for fear of the destabilizing effects that would result.
This Keynesian consensus was essentially a truce declared in the U.S. class war, where the power of both sides — capital and labor — were balanced, both independently strong enough to repel attacks from the other. In response, Nixon’s economic policies make Obama seem like a right-wing neoliberal fanatic.
But while Nixon agreed to the Keynesian consensus at home, he gave his blessing to the radical right-wing economist Milton Freidman to “reform” the economy of Chile under the bloody dictator, Pinochet, whom the U.S. brought to power over the corpse of the democratically elected President Salvador Allende, as well as the thousands of his supporters who were butchered. Chile was essentially a neoliberal experiment that, if successful, would be transferred to the United States.
Due to the Keynesian consensus, Milton Freidman’s radical pro-corporate doctrine was at the time viewed as right-wing fanaticism, which it is. Now, however, with labor’s faltering power, the corporations feel confident enough to flex their muscles unhindered. To enhance their new power they needed an accompanying ideology — Friedman’s neoliberalism, free market capitalism unleashed.
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan’s “revolution” ushered in the neoliberal transformation of the U.S. after seeing the “success” of the Chilean economy. Chile successfully increased corporate profit rates by removing “barriers” to profits, such as trade unions, socialists, and any democratic voice that opposed the “restructuring” of the Chilean economy to reflect the interests of the rich, finally unshackled from the “constraints” of wealth accumulation. Reagan and Thatcher followed in lock-step, targeting unions for destruction, lowering tax rates for the rich, and preaching the virtue of neoliberal “trickle down” economics.
Implementing the neoliberal shock doctrine breaks the social contract and thus ends the truce of the class war. The first shots were fired by Reagan and the onslaught has continued under the two Bush’s as well as under Bill Clinton. The 2008 recession has pushed both parties to double down on neoliberalism as their solution to the ongoing economic crisis.
Naomi Klein’s book, “The Shock Doctrine,” tells in gruesome detail the brutality that has accompanied the “implementation” of neoliberal reforms across the globe over the last 30 years. And while the U.S. has slow played this process since 2008, U.S. politicians are slated to follow the example of the European Union elites by accelerating the cuts on a national level.
The labor and community groups that have tried to deal with the corporate attack by hiding from it still have time to unite their forces to fight for full funding for a national jobs program, expanded Social Security, Medicare for all, accessible, quality public education, and other public services, all to be paid for by taxing the rich and corporations.
Cars on the Obamacare Express jumped the track and began piling up as soon as the Healthcare.gov website went live on Oct. 1, and the expected Obamacare train wreck continues to create its carnage.
Of course, the carnage is just beginning. Obamacare is a socialist death trap of graft and corruption. It was created by lobbyists for the medical industrial complex as a way of growing its consumer base with the guarantee of benefit payments from the Federal Treasury. It’s a redistributive system that steals from the producers in order to feed the corporatocracy.
Nothing about Obamacare is healthcare. It is simply medical tyranny created under the guise of political doublespeak. It sounds great to promise free or low-cost health insurance for everyone until people begin to learn the true cost of “free” government programs.
America’s healthcare system is a profit-driven, disease-oriented death system. It is a system of conflict of interest, tainted research, greed for money, deceived and pretentious doctors and scientists, lying, cheating, invasion by the morally bankrupt marketing automatons of the drug industry, greedy power-hungry politicians, and Federal and State regulators. It is all about money generated on the sick and the dying.
I will quickly give you a valid exception, and that is if one needs trauma care. It is generally and quickly available and most of the time life-saving. But this is a very small part of medical practice in America.
The sick care industry is not only profiting from the sick and dying; it is the greatest cause of sickness and premature death. And it is a U.S. government industry. It is sponsored and financed by the U.S. government. There would not be a single hospital in the United States without Federal funny money and the insurance business.
In fact, it’s very deceptive to call Obamacare socialized healthcare as Obamacare has nothing to do with healthcare. It’s just the opposite. It’s sickness care.
The Nazis had their gas chambers and America has “medical care,” which is the most sophisticated killing machine that demented minds can create.
Americans are mentally dependent on the “medical” brainwash. When our dumbed-down people hear the trigger word “medical care,” they go blind and hyperventilate. They do not know a scam from a sham.
The great debate going on is spurious in its entirety. There is no truth to be found in it. It’s a comedy. As the paper money regime collapses, the money creators are speeding up the printing presses in a desperate ploy to transfer the wealth of the American people before it becomes worthless anyway. It is disguised warfare against the American people.
It reminds one of the last days of the Nazi regime. As the cities were reduced to rubble, German citizens were being shot for “treason.” In the last days of any regime, the process of oppression of citizens is intensified.
In the United States, stepped-up oppression is being done under the cloak of benevolency called healthcare.
In fact, there is now very high risk in going to the hospital. Besides the hundreds of thousands of drug-induced deaths (iatrogenic deaths), there are people who check into hospitals and unexpectedly die of viral pneumonia that antibiotics can’t help. Tuberculosis has returned to America, including drug-resistant strains. Drug-resistant bacteria are rampant. One in 20 hospital patients now picks up an infection he didn’t have when he arrived. Even what appears to be the old common cold is lasting for months.
“There are about 2 million people who acquire infection from the hospital each year and become sick,” said Charlottesville, Va., infectious disease expert Barry Farr, M.D. “Most don’t die, but some do.” About 100,000 die each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obamacare locks you into this system with no way out. Once the government is in the business of determining approved treatments and payments, alternative treatment regimens are prohibited. And failure to follow the prescribed treatment will result in fines or imprisonment. (This sort of medical tyranny has already manifested itself in the treatment of children’s ailments; see here and here for just two such examples.)
And it seems the Obamacare system permanently captures you as well. Those few who have managed to access the deeply flawed system have learned that deleting an account and the personal information entered is impossible.
And what is that information? Everything the government needs to know to confiscate your wealth from you completely in the event of noncompliance.
Everyone is forced to sign up for a system that is unavailable to them because of the failure of the Healthcare.gov website — which some computer experts believe was either designed to fail or built by a team of incompetent chimpanzees.
About 90 percent of those who tried to enroll say they were not able to get signed up. And of those, about 50,000 people who were able to get through in the system’s first 11 days, only about 1 percent have submitted enough information to be successfully enrolled, according to health industry executives.
Nationwide, there are 11.6 million people ages 18 to 34 who are uninsured, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Obamacare is a Ponzi scheme designed to sit on the backs of the young and healthy. But they aren’t interested in it once they learn their premium costs will run in the hundreds of dollars per month, deductibles are $5,000 or more per year and the copays are outrageously high.
The lack of support from young people is ominous. “The entire Rube Goldberg apparatus depends on young, healthy people signing up to cross-subsidize more expensive patients and prevent health plans from going into a death spiral in which premiums don’t cover claims,” said The Wall Street Journal. “Good luck getting millennials to sign up when plans aren’t merely more expensive but when the exchanges malfunction, or doctors don’t accept exchange coverage because someone checked the wrong box, or any number of myriad administrative problems.”
Yet despite all this and despite the fact that a vast majority of Americans want no part of it (hence, the mandate requiring everyone to sign up under penalty of fines and forfeiture of as-yet undetermined amounts of personal property), every effort to repeal or defund Obamacare has been backed by only a handful of non-statists and opposed by the regime and the statists who are more interested in control, power, pleasing the medical cartel and sapping Americans of their wealth and health than in doing what’s right for Americans and following the Constitution.
Source: Bob Livingston | Personal Liberty Digest