The leaders of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), released a draft bill on Sunday that would provide explicit government guarantees on mortgage-backed securities (MBS) generated by privately-owned banks and financial institutions. The gigantic giveaway to Wall Street would put US taxpayers on the hook for 90 percent of the losses on toxic MBS the likes of which crashed the financial system in 2008 plunging the economy into the deepest slump since the Great Depression. Proponents of the bill say that new rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) –which set standards for a “qualified mortgage” (QM)– assure that borrowers will be able to repay their loans thus reducing the chances of a similar meltdown in the future. However, those QE rules were largely shaped by lobbyists and attorneys from the banking industry who eviscerated strict underwriting requirements– like high FICO scores and 20 percent down payments– in order to lend freely to borrowers who may be less able to repay their loans. Additionally, a particularly lethal clause has been inserted into the bill that would provide blanket coverage for all MBS (whether they met the CFPB’s QE standard or not) in the event of another financial crisis. Here’s the paragraph:
“Sec.305. Authority to protect taxpayers in unusual and exigent market conditions….
If the Corporation, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, determine that unusual and exigent circumstances threaten mortgage credit availability within the U.S. housing market, FMIC may provide insurance on covered securities that do not meet the requirements under section 302 including those for first loss position of private market holders.” (“Freddie And Fannie Reform – The Monster Has Arrived”, Zero Hedge)
In other words, if the bill passes, US taxpayers will be responsible for any and all bailouts deemed necessary by the regulators mentioned above. And, since all of those regulators are in Wall Street’s hip-pocket, there’s no question what they’ll do when the time comes. They’ll bailout they’re fatcat buddies and dump the losses on John Q. Public.
If you can’t believe what you are reading or if you think that the system is so thoroughly corrupt it can’t be fixed; you’re not alone. This latest outrage just confirms that the Congress, the executive and all the chief regulators are mere marionettes performing whatever task is asked of them by their Wall Street paymasters.
The stated goal of the Johnson-Crapo bill is to “overhaul” mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so that “private capital can play the central role in home finance.” (That’s how Barack Obama summed it up.) Of course, that’s not really the purpose at all. The real objective is to hand over the profit-generating mechanism to the private banks (Fannie and Freddie have been raking in the dough for the last three years) while the red ink is passed on to the public. That’s what’s really going on.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill will
“construct an elaborate new platform by which a number of private-sector entities, together with a privately held but federally regulated utility, would replace key roles long played by Fannie and Freddie….”
“The legislation replaces the mortgage-finance giants with a new system in which the government would continue to play a potentially significant role insuring U.S. home loans.” (“Plan for Mortgage Giants Takes Shape”, Wall Street Journal)
“Significant role”? What significant role? (Here’s where it gets interesting.)
“The Senate bill would repurpose the firms’ existing regulator as a new “Federal Mortgage Insurance Corp.” and charge the agency with approving new firms to pool loans into securities. Those firms could then purchase federal insurance to guarantee payments to investors in those bonds. The FMIC would insure mortgage bonds much the way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. provides bank-deposit insurance.”
Unbelievable. So they want to turn F and F into an insurance company that backs up the garbage mortgages created by the same banks that just ripped us all off for trillions of dollars on the same freaking swindle?
You can’t be serious?
More from the WSJ: “Mortgage guarantors would be required to maintain a 10% capital buffer against losses and to have that capital extinguished before the federal insurance would be triggered.”
10 percent? What the hell difference does 10 percent make; that’s a drop in the bucket. If the banks are going to issue mortgages to people who can’t repay the debt, then they need to cover the damn losses themselves, otherwise they shouldn’t be in the banking biz to begin with, right?
This is such an outrageous, in-your-face ripoff, it shouldn’t even require a response. These jokers should be laughed out of the senate. All the same, the bill is moving forward, and President Twoface has thrown his weigh behind it. Is there sort of illicit, under-the-table, villainous activity this man won’t support?
Not when it comes to his big bank buddies, there isn’t. Now check out this clip from an article by economist Dean Baker. Baker refers to the Corker-Warner bill, but the Crapo-Johnson fiasco is roughly the same deal. Here’s Baker:
“The Corker-Warner bill does much more than just eliminate Fannie and Freddie. In their place, it would establish a system whereby private financial institutions could issue mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that carry a government guarantee. In the event that a large number of mortgages in the MBS went bad, the investors would be on the hook for losses up to 10 percent of its value, after that point the government gets the tab.
If you think that sounds like a reasonable system, then you must not have been around during the housing crash and ensuing financial crisis. At the peak of the crisis in 2008-2009 the worst subprime MBS were selling at 30-40 cents on the dollar. This means the government would have been picking up a large tab under the Corker-Warner system, even if investors had been forced to eat a loss equal to 10 percent of the MBS price.
The pre-crisis financial structure gave banks an enormous incentive to package low quality and even fraudulent mortgages into MBS. The system laid out in the Corker-Warner bill would make these incentives even larger. The biggest difference is that now the banks can tell investors that their MBS come with a government guarantee, so that they most they stand to lose is 10 percent of the purchase price.” (“The disastrous idea for privatizing Fannie and Freddie”, Dean Baker, Al Jazeera)
Just ponder that last part for a minute: “The bill would make these incentives even larger.”
Do you really think we should create bigger incentives for these dirtbags to rip us off? Does that make sense to you? Here’s more from Baker:
“The changes in financial regulation are also unlikely to provide much protection. In the immediate wake of the crisis there were demands securitizers keep a substantial stake in the mortgages they put into their pools, to ensure that they had an incentive to only securitize good mortgages. Some reformers were demanding as much as a 20 percent stake in every mortgage.
Over the course of the debate on the Dodd-Frank bill and subsequent rules writing this stake got ever smaller. Instead of being 20 percent, it was decided that securitizers only had to keep a 5 percent stake. And for mortgages meeting certain standards they wouldn’t have to keep any stake at all.
Originally only mortgages in which the homeowner had a down payment of 20 percent or more passed this good mortgage standard. That cutoff got lowered to 10 percent and then was lowered further to 5 percent. Even though mortgages with just 5 percent down are four times as likely to default as mortgages with 20 percent or more down, securitizers will not be required to keep any stake in them when they put them into a MBS.”
Hold on there, Dean. You mean Dodd Frank didn’t ”put things right”? What the heck? I thought that “tough new regulations” assured us that the banks wouldn’t blow up the system again in five years or so. Was that all baloney?
Yep, sure was. 100% baloney. Once the banks unleashed their army of attorneys and lobbyists on Capital Hill, new regulations didn’t stand a chance. They turned Dodd Frank into mincemeat and now we’re back to square one.
And don’t expect the ratings agencies to help out either because they’re in the same shape they were before the crash. No changes at all. They still get paid by the guys who issue the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) which is about the same as if you paid the salary of the guy who grades your midterm exam. Do you think that might cloud his judgment a bit? You’re damn right, it would; just like paying the ratings agencies guarantees you’ll get the rating you want. The whole system sucks.
And as far as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, well, you guessed it. The banks played a role in drafting the new “Qualified Mortgage” standard too, which is really no standard at all, since no self-respecting lender would ever use the same criteria for issuing a loan or mortgage. For example, no banker is going to say, “Heck, Josh, we don’t need your credit scores. We don’t need a down-payment. We’re all friends here, right? So, how much do you need for that mortgage old buddy, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000. You name it. The sky’s the limit.”
No down payment? No credit scores? And they have the audacity to call this a qualified mortgage?
Qualified for what? Qualified for sticking it to the taxpayers? The real purpose of the qualified mortgage is to protect the banks from their own shifty deals. That’s what it’s all about. It provides them with “safe harbor” in the event that the borrower defaults. What does that mean?
It means that the government can’t get its money back if the loan blows up. The qualified mortgage actually protects the banks, not the consumer. That’s why it’s such a farce, just like Dodd Frank is a farce. Nothing has changed. Nothing. In fact, it’s gotten worse. Now we’re on the hook for whatever losses the banks run up peddling mortgage credit to anyone who can fog a mirror.
We’ll leave the last word for Dean Baker, since he seems like the only guy in America who has figured out what the hell is going on:
“In short, the Corker-Warner plan to privatize Fannie and Freddie is essentially a proposal to reinstitute the structure of incentives that gave us the housing bubble and the financial crisis, but this time with the added fuel of an explicit government guarantee on the subprime MBS. If that doesn’t sound like a great idea to you then you haven’t spent enough time around powerful people in Washington.”
The Johnson-Crapo bill doesn’t have anything to do with “winding down” Fannie and Freddie or “overhauling” the mortgage finance industry. It’s a bald-face ripoff engineered by two chiseling senators who are putting the country at risk to beef up Wall Street’s bottom line.
It’s the scam of the century.
Abenomics has been great for stock speculators and corporate bigwigs, but for everyone else, not so much. The fact is–despite all the media hype and monetary fireworks–Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-pronged strategy to end 20 years of deflation has been a total bust. But don’t take my word for it, check out this clip from Reuters and see for yourself:
“In the fourth quarter of last year, Japan’s economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.7 percent, revised figures show, slower than the initial estimate of 1.0 percent on weaker business investment and consumption….” (Japan fourth-quarter growth, external balance suffer blow in test for Abenomics, Reuters)
See? Japan’s economy is dead as a doornail. No sign of life at all. What more proof do you need than that?
And Abenomics won’t end deflation either. That’s another fiction. The weaker yen is just going to force working people and retirees on fixed income to reduce their consumption which will intensify the slump. Heck, even the IMF has figured that one out. Take a look at this clip from one of their recent pieces:
“The average Japanese worker has been dipping into his savings to finance consumption growth. But there’s a limit to how far he can do this. The savings rate as a percent of disposable income has declined from around 5 percent a decade ago to close to zero today, leaving little further room for spending from savings….Looking forward, real wages are set to come under even greater pressure this year and next with higher underlying inflation and successive increases in the consumption-tax rate.” (Abenomics—Time for a Push from Higher Wages, IMF-direct)
It sounds to me like the IMF is telling old Shinzo that his plan sucks, doesn’t it?
Whoever thought that dumping trillions of dollars into the financial system would end deflation had a couple screws loose. That’s not how it works. The Fed loaded up on $4 trillion in financial assets and inflation is still hovering at a measly 1 percent. So if the theory doesn’t work in the US, why would it work in Japan?
It won’t. The way to generate inflation is by circulating money in the economy and increasing the velocity. That means full employment and higher wages. That means fiscal stimulus and redistributive taxation. That means fixing the damn economy. But Abe’s not going to do that because it doesn’t jibe with his class war strategy which is what drives the current policy. Now check this out from Roger Arnold at The Street:
“The essential policy tools of Abenomics are massive monetary and fiscal stimulus aimed at forcing the yen lower, which should cause exports to rise and domestic production to increase, leading to increased domestic job production and consumption: the virtuous cycle. In the process, Japan also increased sovereign debt, which must be serviced by the government. The servicing of that debt is supposed to come from an increase in tax receipts to be made available by the increased domestic production and consumption.
But it isn’t working.
The failure of Abenomics to stimulate economic activity and raise tax receipts enough to pay for the stimulus is now causing the government to double back on these programs with a counter-cyclical consumer tax increase of about 3%, which will be implemented in April. In other words, Abenomics is making the real economic and fiscal situations in Japan worse, not better. They are digging a bigger sovereign debt hole and accelerating the trajectory toward insolvency…Investors would be wise to avoid Japan altogether now, and probably permanently.” (Arnold: Abenomics’ Failure Is the Global Canary, The Street)
That’s probably good advice, although I think Japan’s implosion will take much longer than Arnold seems to believe. But that’s beside the point. What matters is the that policy doesn’t work. The economy isn’t growing, personal consumption is weak, the trade deficit, the current account deficit and the national debt are all ballooning at the same time, and the Japanese people are growing more pessimistic. And on top of it all, a 3 percent sales tax is set to kick in at the beginning of April which is going to send the economy stumbling back into recession. (Abe pushed through the tax hike to placate his right-wing constituents even though the risks to the economy were obvious.)
So, it’s all bad, unless you’re high-flying stock trader or a money-grubbing corporate CEO, that is. Then things have never been better. Get a load of this in the Wall Street Journal:
“While Japan Inc. may be whistling a happy tune on the back of robust profit growth and a weaker yen thanks to the pro-business agenda of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a key survey released Wednesday shows that consumers aren’t in a similar Abenomics-induced state of rapture.
The Cabinet Office’s monthly Consumer Confidence Index contracted for the third straight month in February to 38.2. That’s the worst reading since Mr. Abe entered office in January 2013 and the lowest since September 2011. Respondents were even more pessimistic than during Mr. Abe’s year-long term as prime minister between September 2006 and September 2007…
Even though recent data showed the basic earnings of workers in the world’s third-largest economy rose for the first time in almost two years in January, respondents in the February survey were less optimistic about their income growth, the value of their assets, and their overall livelihood than they were a month earlier.
The downbeat reading prompted the government to downgrade its assessment, saying it is “on a weak note.” (Japanese Consumer Pessimism Hits New High Under Abe, WSJ)
To say the Japanese are depressed, would be an understatement. Your average Joe is “even more pessimistic” than he was when Abe stepped down in 2007 and the economy was on the brink of rigor mortis. Does that sound like the “Happy Days are here again” blabber you’ve been reading in the media or hearing from liberal pundits like the madcap Dr. Krugman?
Also, according to a Cabinet Office survey that appeared in the Japan Times on Saturday, only 22 percent of respondents “think the economy is headed in the right direction”, while 76 percent are worried about the impact the consumption tax will have on the economy.
How’s that for a ringing endorsement of Abe’s Kamikazenomics? The only people who still believe in Abe’s song and dance are the ivory tower set at Princeton and Yale. Everyone else has thrown in the towel.
Abenomics is a public relations scam designed to shift more payola to voracious stock speculators and their thieving corporate counterparts. It’s a fraud wrapped in a lie. That’s all there is to it. But there are victims, that’s for dang-sure. Just check out this article in Bloomberg and you’ll see what I mean:
“Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks set to drive an indicator of economic hardship to a 33-year high by increasing taxes and prices amid stagnant wages. The misery index, which adds the jobless rate to the level of inflation, will climb to 7 percentage points in the three months starting April 1 when Japan raises its sales levy to 8 percent from 5 percent, based on the median estimates of economists in Bloomberg News surveys of unemployment and consumer prices. That would be the highest level for the measure since June 1981 when Japan was emerging out of depression after the oil shocks in the 1970s.
Bank of Japan monetary stimulus designed to spur economic growth and achieve 2 percent inflation has weakened the yen by 6.8 percent in the past 12 months, eroding the value of wages to a record low. Abe, the son of an ex-foreign minister who grew up in a house with servants, is under fire from the opposition party after the cost of living surged to a five-year high.
“Inflation is really tough,” said Kiyoshi Ishigane, a senior strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co., which oversees more than $77 billion. “Those who speak favorably about inflation might have been born in wealthy families and never experienced the hardship that inflation brought.” (Misery Index Rising to 33-Year High on Abenomics: Japan Credit, Bloomberg)
The Misery Index is peaking and all you hear in the US is a bunch of baloney about glorious Abenomics and the miraculous effect of money printing. What a joke. People are hurting big-time in Japan, and shifty Shinzo is only adding to their pain with his monetary Hara-kiri. It’s madness. Wages dropped for 19 months in a row before they got a “one-off” bump-up last month of 0.1 percent, which is a big nothingburger. The overall trend is down, down, down. On top of that, roughly 35 percent of Japan’s workforce is part-time employment; no pension, no bennies, no job security, no nothing. Things slow down, and you get booted down the stairwell with not as much as a “Goodbye, Charlie!” They probably don’t even bother with the perfunctory pink slip. Just grab your lunchbox, and “out you go.”
So how does Abe figure he’s going to generate inflation when workers are flat on their backs and don’t have enough scratch to buy the widgets that Japan Inc produces?
The whole thing is a non starter, which is why I think this “fighting deflation” trope is a big freaking smokescreen to hide what’s really going on, which is a massive transfer of wealth to the investor class via asset inflation. That’s what’s really happening, right? Abenomics is just a way to produce fat returns during extended periods of slow growth and deepening stagnation. The big boys figured out how to overcome the very conditions that they created with their unbounded avarice. I guess they figure that, just because everyone else has to suffer through a goddamn Depression, doesn’t mean they have to too.
You got to hand it to these guys, they think of everything.
“I never thought I’d live to see the day when the US State Department whitewashed the neo-Nazi views and heritage of a gang of thugs who had seized power in a violent coup d’état. In Iraq, Libya, and Syria, US policymakers empowered radical Islamists of one sort or another. That was bad enough. Today, however, in Ukraine they are empowering the heirs of Adolf Hitler. How is this not a scandal?”
–Justin Raimondo, From Iraq to Ukraine: A Pattern of Disaster
The Obama administration suffered its worst foreign policy defeat in 5 years on Sunday when the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to reject Washington’s Nazi-backed junta government in Kiev and join the Russian Federation. The balloting, in which more than 93 percent of voters “approved splitting off and joining Russia” reflects the strong ethnic, cultural and historic ties its people share with Moscow as well as the understandable fear that being “liberated” by the US could lead to grinding third world poverty and widespread mayhem the likes of which are manifest in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
The Obama administration rejected the nearly-unanimous referendum opining that they would not accept the results and would push for economic sanctions on Russia as early as Monday. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the referendum “complied with international law” and that he would honor the will of the people. Putin, who was attending the Paralympic games in Sochi, has wisely stayed above the fray throughout the crisis brushing off the hysterical accusations and threats issued almost daily by President Obama or his vaudevillian sidekick John Kerry, the most incompetent buffoon to ever serve as US Secretary of State. Between Obama, Kerry and the irascible John McCain, who traipses from one media venue to the next spouting his cold war fulminations like an old man shooing kids off the front lawn, the US has made a spectacular hash of things leaving US foreign policy in a shambles. The Crimea fiasco shows that while Team Obama may be chock-full of fantasists, spin-doctors and crystal-gazing globalists it is sadly lacking in geopolitical pragmatists with a solid grasp of the way the world works. Obama has been no match for Putin who has tromped him at every turn. Here’s a clip from an article by the Associated Press:
“Moscow… called on Ukraine to become a federal state as a way of resolving the polarization between Ukraine’s western regions — which favor closer ties with the 28-nation EU — and its eastern areas, which have long ties to Russia.
In a statement Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged Ukraine’s parliament to call a constitutional assembly that could draft a new constitution to make the country federal, handing more power to its regions. It also said country should adopt a “neutral political and military status,” a demand reflecting Moscow’s concern about the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO.” (Crimea declares independence, seizes property, AP)
So, this is how Putin intends to play the game, eh; by using basic democratic institutions to block Washington from implementing its plan to deploy NATO and US missile bases in Ukraine? It sounds like a smart move to me.
Once again, Putin has made every effort to downplay his role in deciding policy so as not to embarrass the bungling Obama claque who seem determined to make themselves look foolish and impotent at every opportunity. Here’s how analyst Michael Scheuer summed up Putin’s behavior in an article at the Ron Paul website:
“The difference in the Ukraine intervention from others the West has conducted is that the terminally adolescent political leaders who run the West have run smack dab into a decisive, realistic, and nationalistic adult, in the person of Vladimir Putin, and they do not know what to do. They are learning that the Ukraine is not Libya or Egypt in that Putin will not to let the West make of Ukraine — or at least of Crimea — the same unholy mess its earlier unwarranted interventions made of Egypt and Libya. Putin has a very clear view of Russia’s genuine national interests, and reliable access to the Crimean base of the Black Sea fleet is one of them, it has been for centuries, and it will remain so in the future…
U.S. and Western leaders should be lining up to thank Vladimir Putin for a painful but thorough lesson in how the adult leader of a nation protects his country’s genuine national interests.” (Russia Annexing Crimea is the Cost of US/EU intervention in Ukraine, Michael Scheuer, Ron Paul Institute)
Putin realizes that derailing Washington’s strategy to control the Crimea will have serious consequences. He must now prepare for the typical litany of asymmetrical attacks including covert operations, special ops, arming Tatar jihadis to incite violence in Crimea, US-backed NGOs fomenting unrest in Moscow, etc etc, as well as stepped up US military and logistical support for Kiev’s thriving fascist element which has already morphed into the imposter-government’s security apparatus, a scary remake of Hitler’s Gestapo. Here’s the rundown from the World Socialist Web Site:
“On Thursday, the Ukrainian parliament voted to establish a 60,000-strong National Guard recruited from “activists” in the anti-Russian protests and from military academies. The force will be overseen by the new security chief, Andriy Parubiy, a founder in the early 1990s of the neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine. His deputy, Dmytro Yarosh, is the leader of the paramilitary Right Sector. It is the Ukrainian equivalent of Hitler’s storm troopers.
In addition to aiding the West in its provocations against Moscow, the main responsibility of these elements will be to carry through a social onslaught against the Ukrainian working class at the behest of international capital…” (What the Western-backed regime is planning for Ukrainian workers, World Socialist Web Site)
And here’s a bit more from the same article on the radical austerity program the IMF is planning to impose on Ukraine in order to shrink the government, reduce pensions, cut social services, and leave the country in a permanent state of Depression:
“Behind incessant rhetorical invocations of a “democratic revolution,” Ukraine’s newly-installed government of former bankers, fascists and oligarchs is preparing draconian austerity measures.
The plans being drawn up are openly described as the “Greek model,” i.e., the programme of savage cuts imposed on Greece by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) that has caused Greece’s economy to collapse by nearly 25 percent in five years and produced a massive growth in unemployment and poverty…” (“What the Western-backed regime is planning for Ukrainian workers, World Socialist Web Site)
So, Putin definitely has his work cut out for himself. Fortunately, he appears to be getting sound advice from his political and military advisors who have avoided pointless grandstanding, gamesmanship or incendiary rhetoric the likes of which erupt from the White House and State Department on a daily basis.
Despite the fact that the Kremlin does not want to see Washington “lose face”, sometimes events make that impossible, as the astute political analysts at Moon of Alabama pointed out on Sunday. Here’s a blurb from a post at MoA that shows how Washington has essentially capitulated to Moscow and accepted its basic framework for resolving the crisis while trying to dupe the public into thinking the policy was their idea. Here’s the excerpt:
“There was another phone call today between Secretary of State Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. The call came after a strategy meeting on Ukraine in the White House. During the call Kerry agreed to Russian demands for a federalization of the Ukraine in which the federal states will have a strong autonomy against a central government in a Finlandized Ukraine. Putin had offered this “off-ramp” from the escalation and Obama has taken it. The Russian announcement:
(Reuters) – “Lavrov, Kerry agree to work on constitutional reform in Ukraine: Russian ministry…
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed on Sunday to seek a solution to crisis in Ukraine by pushing for constitutional reforms there, the Russian foreign ministry said.
It did not go into details on the kind of reforms needed except to say they should come “in a generally acceptable form and while taking into the account the interests of all regions of Ukraine”.
“Sergei Viktorovich Lavrov and John Kerry agreed to continue work to find a resolution on Ukraine through a speedy launch of constitutional reform with the support of international community,” the ministry said in a statement.” (Ukraine: U.S. Takes Off-Ramp, Agrees To Russian Demands, Moon of Alabama)
Can you believe it? The goofy Obama team wants the public to believe that the whole “constitutional reform”-thing was their idea so people don’t notice that the clunker administration and President Featherweight have run up the white flag and headed for the hills. This is classic Barack “lead from behind” Obama trying to make a full-blown retreat look like a victory.
“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good.” - Harold Pinter, Nobel Acceptance Speech
“Obama is just a willing executioner. From the ruling class’s point of view, he’s the perfect figurehead because his mere appearance confuses and disarms so many. He seems to have spent his whole life trying to get chosen to play Judas. And that’s all there is in his resume.” -bevin, Comments line, Moon of Alabama
According to a newly-released Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Barack Obama’s job-approval ratings have dipped to a new low of 41 percent with a full 54 percent of respondents saying they “disapproved” of the job he’s doing. Obama’s handling of the economy, health care and foreign policy were particular areas of concern for most respondents. On health care, Obama is seen as having strengthened the for-profit insurance industry with little benefit for ordinary working people. The survey also showed “the lowest-ever approval” for the president’s handling of foreign policy. And, on the economy, the results were even more shocking; a full 57% of the people polled “believe the U.S. is still in a recession” while “65 percent think the country is on the wrong track”. Widespread disappointment in Obama’s performance has weakened his support among blacks, Hispanics and women, traditionally, the most loyal groups in the Party’s base.
There’s no doubt that Obama has been hurt by the anemic recovery or by focusing on deficit reduction instead of job creation. High unemployment, flat wages and shrinking incomes have weighed heavily on expectations, which has put a damper on consumption and growth. Gallup’s Economic Confidence index now shows a “sharp decline in the outlook for the future” …”with some 57 percent of the respondents saying things are getting worse, not better.”
Indeed, things have gotten worse under Obama, much worse, which is why many of his most ardent supporters are falling off the bandwagon. And the disappointment is not limited to economic policy either. Recent surveys confirm what most people already know, that the public is tired of the interventions, the provocations, the meddling and the endless wars. The American people are increasingly isolationist and want the government to disengage from foreign conflicts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent survey by PEW that sums up the mood of the country:
“For the first time since 1964, more than half (52%) agree that the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own;” 38% disagree, according to a survey conducted Oct.-Nov. 2013. Similarly, 80% agree with the statement, “We should not think so much in international terms but concentrate more on our own national problems and building up our strength and prosperity here at home.” (U.S. Foreign Policy: Key Data Points from Pew Research, PEW Research Center)
The PEW poll merely expands on the findings in other surveys like this from the LA Times:
“Two thirds of Americans questioned in a recent poll said the 12-year war fought in Afghanistan…hasn’t been worth the price paid in lives and dollars…
The survey conducted for the media by Langer Research Associates of New York found that disillusionment with the U.S.-led war was expressed by a majority of all political leanings. Overall, 66% of respondents said the war hasn’t been worth it. Those who identified themselves as liberals were most unhappy with the military investment: 78% said the war was a mistake.” (Poll: Two thirds of Americans say Afghan war not worth fighting, LA Times)
The same is true of Iraq. The war wasn’t worth fighting. Check this out on ABC News:
“Ten years after U.S. airstrikes on Baghdad punctuated the start of the Iraq war, nearly six in 10 Americans say the war was not worth fighting – a judgment shared by majorities steadily since initial success gave way to years of continued conflict.
Nearly as many in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say the same about the war in Afghanistan. And while criticisms of both wars are down from their peaks, the intensity of sentiment remains high, with strong critics far outweighing strong supporters.” (A Decade on, Most are Critical of the U.S.-Led War in Iraq, ABC News)
And that brings us to today and the looming prospect of a war with Russia over developments in the Crimea. Here’s what people are thinking according to a survey in the Washington Post:
“A new poll suggests Americans have very little appetite for any real involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. Only 29 percent of Americans would like for the Obama administration to take a ‘firm stand’ against Russia’s incursion into its neighbor, according to the Pew Research Center poll, while nearly twice as many — 56 percent — prefer the United States not to get too involved in Ukraine.
The poll reflects a war-weary American public that is still very reticent to get involved in international conflicts. The American people were similarly opposed to military intervention in Syria last year, despite President Obama calling for the use of force and seeking congressional approval for action.” (Few Americans want ‘firm stand’ against Russia in Ukraine, Washington Post)
Of course, Obama doesn’t care the American people want. He’s going to do what he signed-on to do; crack down on civil liberties, strangle the economy, and spread war across the planet. As far as the warmongering goes–he’s doing an even better job than Bush. Don’t believe me? Just check out this clip from the International Business Times:
“In their annual End of Year poll, researchers for WIN and Gallup International surveyed more than 66,000 people across 65 nations and found that 24 percent of all respondents answered that the United States “is the greatest threat to peace in the world today.” Pakistan and China fell significantly behind the United States on the poll, with 8 and 6 percent, respectively.” (In Gallup Poll, The Biggest Threat To World Peace Is… America?, IBT)
There you have it, the Obama presidency in a nutshell: “The United States is the greatest threat to peace in the world today.” Keep in mind, this survey wasn’t taken during the Bush years. Oh no. This is all Obama’s doing, every bit of it.
Let’s summarize: The majority of Americans think Obama is doing a lousy job. They think the economy stinks, and they think their financial situation is getting worse. They also think the country is on the wrong track, that America is a threat to world peace, and that they don’t want anymore goddamned wars.
Check, check, check, check and check.
So, what do you think the Obama administration’s reaction to this public outpouring has been?
I’ll tell you what it’s been. They’re happy. That’s right, they’re happy. Despite the plunging poll numbers and dwindling public support, the Obama team feels vindicated by the fact that they’re not as widely reviled as the Bush administration. That’s their benchmark: Bush. And they could be on to something too, after all, who would have thought that a president could repeal habeas corpus, destroy the economy, launch wars and coups like they’re going out of style, vaporize hundreds of innocent people in drone attacks, intensify surveillance on every man, woman and child in the United States, and claim the right to assassinate US citizens without due process, without inciting millions of enraged Americans to grab their pitchforks and head to Washington?
That’s what would have happened if Bush was still in office, right? But Obama gets a “pass”. Why? Because he’s an articulate, charismatic black man who the vast majority of Dems still admire. Can you believe it?
Obama represents everything these people profess to hate–war, drone attacks, Gitmo, austerity, Wall Street (no prosecutions), indefinite detention, executive privilege (to assassinate) etc–and yet they still put the man on a pedestal. Which is why we think that Obama is the greatest public relations invention of all-time; a beaming, exuberant, galvanic paragon who embodies all the laudatory characteristics of leadership and who–at the same time– is able to carry out the most despicable, inhuman acts without the slightest hesitation or remorse. He is man who feels nothing towards his fellow human beings, neither empathy, compassion, or mercy. What matters to Obama is that he faithfully follow the script that’s been written for him by his miscreant handlers, that odious amalgam of cutthroat corporatists, bank mandarins and loafing ivy league silver-spooners who make up America’s iniquitous Kleptocracy. The best description of Obama I’ve ever read was in the comments section of a foreign policy blogsite called Moon of Alabama by a blogger named “bevin”. Here’s what he said:
“I think that Obama is completely empty of scruples…just a willing executioner. From the ruling class’s point of view he is the perfect figurehead because his mere appearance confuses and disarms so many. He seems to have spent his whole life trying to get chosen to play Judas. And that is all there is in his resume…
They present him as negligent, never responsible, never intentionally connected to an evil act, never drawn into the acts of duplicity by a conscious intent. This is the false image, the disinformation projected about who he is…
It strikes me that Obama is all those things. And that this is the core of the evil in him- that he is without conscience or principle, just an ordinary butcher going about his business, fulfilling the terms of his employment, doing what he was asked to do…
You see him as focused and intentional.
I see him as someone who will sign a stack of death warrants without reading them, or thinking about them again. Remember just after November 2008, waiting to take office, how the Israelis attacked Gaza, obviously to show him who is boss? Didn’t you sense that even they were surprised at the insouciance with which he watched those extraordinary massacres pass before his eyes?
He didn’t care. And he was, at last, relieved of the chore of pretending that he did care about such things.
That’s really what he likes about being President: he can relax while the killing goes on, he doesn’t need to pretend it bothers him, he doesn’t need to pass any kind of moral judgment.
Remember when he asked his step-father “Have you ever killed men?”
The reply he got was “Only men who were weak.”
He has adhered to that moral standard ever since.” (bevin, Moon of Alabama)
That perfectly summarizes the man; an empty gourd who never had any intention of fulfilling his promises, who has utter disdain for the fools that voted for him, and who finds it as easy to kill a man, his family and his kids, as to swat a fly on his forearm. As bevin notes Obama “is a pure confidence man and a sociopath.”
And now the sociopath has focused his attention on Ukraine where he’s determined to draw Russia into a conflict over the Crimea even though Moscow has assisted the US in the War on Terror, removed its heavy weapons from the Western part of Russia, reduced its conventional military by 300,000 troops, and fulfilled all its obligations under the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe (ACAF).
Moscow has done everything that was asked of it. And what has Washington done in return. Here’s how Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of The Voice of Russia’s Reality Check, sums it up on the Testosterone Pit website:
“Washington has defaulted on all of its key agreements made with USSR/Russia during the last 30 years. Gorbachev was promised that Eastern Europe would not be taken into NATO. Country by country became part of NATO and Yugoslavia was dismantled despite Russia’s objections. The US acted as the winner of the Cold War and guided its policies by the famous principle of “Vae victis!” Woe to the vanquished!” (Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of The Voice of Russia’s Reality Check, From now on, No compromises are possible with Russia, Testosterone Pit)
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the US has surrounded Russia with military bases, trained troops in Georgia that were eventually used to fight Russia in South Ossetia, instigated numerous color-coded revolutions in former Soviet states, and started to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe that will give Washington first-strike nuclear weapons capability that will destroy “the strategic equilibrium in the world” and force Putin to resume the arms race.
That’s how Washington makes friends; by stomping their face into the pavement every chance it gets. Sound familiar?
On Wednesday, Obama met with Ukraine’s imposter prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at the White House in a attempt to lend credibility to the coup leader’s Nazi-strew government. Obama used the White House event to applaud the putsch and to promise support for the aggressively anti-Kremlin government. Shortly after Obama finished his statement, blogsites released copies of a resolution that was issued by the European Parliament just 15 months earlier condemning the groups which are now part of the US-backed Ukrainian government. Here’s a blurb from the text of that resolution:
“The European Parliament…Is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.” (Moon of Alabama)
How do you like that? So the European Parliament saw the danger of these groups and denounced them before they had a change of heart and realized that these died-in-the-wool, neo-Nazi, jackboot-thugs might be able to help them advance their foreign policy objectives. Now the EU nations are lining up behind Obama who’s doing his level-best to provoke Putin so he can push NATO to Russia’s borders, take control of critical pipeline corridors and vital resources, and install weapons systems on Russia’s perimeter. These are the administration’s goals despite the threat they pose to democracy, security, and regional stability, not to mention the possibility of a third world war.
Bottom line: You don’t get to be “the greatest threat to world peace” without really applying yourself.
Obama wants to prove he’s up to the task. Regrettably, we think he is.
A few days ago, a prominent attorney asked me a question: can religious liberty and the growing demands of government and others occupy the same space? And if not, who wins?
This is, perhaps, not quite the right question.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter, aka “Hannibal the Cannibal” in The Silence of the Lambs asked a more fitting one:
First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: What is it in itself? What is its nature?
Most pundits observing what has gone on recently in Arizona and other states regarding same-sex marriage have concluded, “We are witnessing a clash between religious and civil liberties.” While many nod their heads in agreement, this analysis is wrong.
The fact is that what the left is demanding now through our courts, through legislatures, and at ballot boxes around the country does not constitute “rights” at all, or at least not in the historical sense.
This is not a “clash of religious and civil rights.” This is a clash of freedom and untenable, outrageous demands.
There is something much, much deeper going on here.
Same-sex marriage is a trial balloon of sorts, being used to test how far Americans will allow their consciences to be suppressed by the State.
“If Christians can be compelled to lend a craft to something their conscience objects to, what can’t they be compelled to participate in? We’re talking about precedent; and the cases before us are bellwether test cases about whether private actors can be forcibly mandated to go against their conscience” (“Of Consciences and Cakes,” First Things, Feb. 20, Andrew Walker).
A couple years ago, the Health and Human Services Contraceptive and Abortifacient Mandate served the same purpose, leading the way to where we now are. When the State can get away with abusive behavior and strong-arm tactics toward even The Little Sisters of the Poor, let alone privately owned businesses such as Hobby Lobby, then statists know that the time is ripe to take another big step.
This battle is much bigger than anybody thinks it is. We cannot see the forest for the trees. We are not witnessing a clash of rights; we are in the middle of a massive social experiment. This is a test for the viability of incremental totalitarianism. Nothing less.
In a kind of Cloward-Piven Strategy, the assault – or “test,” or however you want to identify it – is occurring on many different fronts and on many different levels simultaneously. In addition to same-sex marriage and the health care mandate(s), we have the IRS targeting of conservative groups, constant Second Amendment attacks, voter photo ID initiatives labeled as racist by the DOJ, and state initiatives to curb abortions labeled a “War on Women.”
Perhaps most chilling is the way that federalism is being undermined from within the states themselves. State judges are now routinely overturning the expressed will of the people, acting unilaterally to impose novel viewpoints on entire state populations.
The fifty states, which are supposed to be laboratories for experimentation – conducting trial runs, so to speak – are being stripped of that function.
The beauty of America is our diversity, much of which is still reflected in the personalities of each of our states. If the reach of the national government extends too far and we become thoroughly homogenized, we inevitably start moving toward a type of tyranny. If the rules and the standards are exactly the same in every state, where can one go either for respite or advantage? As the force of the national government grows, this key element of our American liberty recedes, perhaps to be lost forever.
The Economist magazine once described the wonderful functioning of our local governance very nicely:
America has 50 states with 50 sets of laws. Virginia will never ban hunting, but even if it did, there are 49 other states that won’t. In America, people with unusual hobbies are generally left alone. And power is so devolved that you can more or less choose which rules you want to live under.
If you like low taxes and the death penalty, try Texas. For good public schools and subsidized cycle paths, try Portland, Oregon. Even within states, the rules vary widely. Bath County, Kentucky is dry. Next-door Bourbon County, as the name implies, is not. Nearby Montgomery County is in between: a “moist” county where the sale of alcohol is banned except in one city. Liberal foreign students let it all hang out at Berkeley; those from traditional backgrounds may prefer a campus where there is no peer pressure to drink or fornicate, such as Brigham Young in Utah. (Dec. 19, 2009)
If all our laws and regulations are essentially nationalized, there will be no choices left to us other than the single choice to comply. The very thing that makes the United States such a wonderful success – E pluribus unum, “out of many, one” – is being destroyed. Ironically, in the name of diversity, we are squashing diversity, trampling out opinions anathema to progressive ideology.
Statists are tickled pink that they are able to make headway on this. And for the most part, the media are willing collaborators, as pointed out by Mollie Hemingway in The Federalist:
Religious liberty is a deeply radical concept. It was at this country’s founding and it hasn’t become less so. Preserving it has always been a full-time battle. But it’s important, because religion is at the core of people’s identity. A government that tramples religious liberty is not a government that protects economic freedom. It’s certainly not a government that protects conscience rights. A government that tramples religious liberty does not have expansive press freedoms. Can you think of one country with a narrow view of religious liberty but an expansive view of economic freedom, freedom of association, press freedoms or free speech rights? One?
A media less hostile to religious liberty would think less about scoring cheap political points, creating uncivil political climates, and disparaging institutions that help humans flourish. A media with a higher regard for truth would, it turns out, have a higher regard for religious liberty.
Sadly, we seem to have left the world of reason and tolerance. Could our media climate demonstrate that any better? And what lies ahead, if left uncorrected, is illogical and tyrannical. Freedom of religion was the central principle in the moral case of our country. Once that’s gone, how long can the Republic stand?
Returning to Dr. Lecter’s question, “what is it in itself? What is its nature?”
Its nature is this: totalitarianism.
The current visible clash of religious and asserted civil “rights” is secondary – a symptom, not an actual cause.
In fact, the logical conclusion for the trajectory we are now on is the eventual squashing of both civil and religious rights, and this will occur because we have allowed a powerful government to play us one group against another.
What can each of us do?
The only way to stop the advancement of totalitarian measures is for the grassroots of each state to bravely stand up to the bullying, silencing tactics of out-of-touch, frightened judges, legislators, corporate cronies, and media collaborators, as they lead us down a path of decreased liberty and increased totalitarianism.
Stand up for social issues that you know in your gut to be true. Don’t allow yourself to be silenced by political correctness. Stand up for marriage. Stand up for life. Stand up for the right of children to be born and to have both a mom and a dad.
Stand up also for constitutionally limited government and fiscal responsibility.
You have Truth with a capital T on your side. You are right, and they are wrong, so do not be afraid.
Don’t make the mistake of remaining quiet until you are certain you have a winning argument. That is not your responsibility, and that is what the totalitarian left is hoping you will do. All you are responsible for is to speak truthfully and to let others know your beliefs. We outnumber them. We can overwhelm them with Truth, if only each of us would open our mouths and proclaim the Truth at every opportunity.
Remember: be not afraid.
Cast your mind back to the fall of 2008. Lehman Bros. had just failed, and for those in Washington, it was thought all the banks were about to go up in smoke.
Of all the radical policies that were enacted in response to the crisis, one of the stealthiest was the Fed’s decision to begin paying banks interest on their “excess reserves.”
This change, begun in October 2008, has netted the banking industry billions of risk-free dollars over the last five years. It’s been nothing more than a pure government subsidy. And the majority of the public has been blissfully unaware.
There are signs, however, that the Fed’s gift to the banks may be coming to an end. Below, we discuss the implications of such a move on you and your savings.
Before we do that, we must first explain what “excess reserves” are.
Commercial banks are required a keep a certain amount of money on deposit at the Fed based on how much a bank holds in customer deposits. Bankers normally keep as little money at the Fed as possible. They prefer to use those funds to make loans or buy securities and earn interest.
Any extra cash held at the Fed over and above what they’re required to hold is known as excess reserves.
Up until the fall of Lehman Bros. in September 2008, banks’ excess reserves at the Fed were essentially zero. Back then, lending money as fast as possible was the name of the game.
But a month later, the central bank began paying 0.25% interest to banks on any excess reserves. The result? Five years later, banks have $2.5 trillion in excess reserves sitting at the Fed.
This means the Fed pays banks $6.25 billion a year in interest courtesy of a policy change made in a panic.
But this policy may be about to change.
In October, the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting included a discussion of excess reserves. Specifically, it was noted that “Most participants thought that a reduction by the Board of Governors in the interest rate paid on excess reserves could be worth considering at some stage.”
Alan Blinder, though, who was once the vice chairman at the Fed, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that he interpreted the minutes’ tea leaves to really mean the voting members “love the idea” of reducing the rate being paid on these reserves.
Changing this policy would be significant and it has the potential to unleash a torrent of liquidity through the commercial banking system.
When the Fed quits paying this interest, the banks will have no reason to leave their cash at the Fed. The most reasonable option is to lend the $2.5 trillion instead. And through the power of fractionalized banking, the money supply could then be increased by up to 10 times that amount.
Needless to say, $25 trillion is a gargantuan quantity of money. The total money supply as measured by M2, for example, was just short of $11 trillion in December. Now, it’s unlikely to see the money supply triple if the Fed were to stop paying interest on these reserves. But it’s easy to imagine a significant jump in money creation if it were lent out into the economy instead of sitting idle at the central bank.
And if that happens, inflation will follow.
Watching the Fed, however, is only part of the inflation story. Investors who want to protect themselves must also keep a close eye on what the commercial banks are doing. And we’re beginning to see that bankers, after five years of licking their wounds, are starting to say yes again after turning potential borrowers away en masse since the crash. In other words, the commercial banking system is also beginning to light the fuse to ignite the inflationary tinder created by the Federal Reserve.
This is important because, according to Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at John Hopkins University, commercial banks create 85% of the money supply, while the remaining 15% is created by the Fed.
And there’s evidence that commercial bank lending is heating up. In December, bank credit was up 5.9% according to the latest H.8 numbers from the Federal Reserve. This is the largest increase we’ve seen since the crash. Just as a reminder, bank credit fell 6.7% in 2009. The big December increases were in the commercial and industrial loan category, which jumped 14.1%, and consumer loans, which increased 6.4%.
Commercial real estate lending is also making a comeback. “More banks are now on the offense, not on defense anymore, when it comes to commercial real estate,” said bank analyst Anthony Polini.
Compass Point Research & Trading analyst Kevin Barker says that commercial real estate is “definitely becoming a significant driver of loan growth [and] to the extent that the banks can take advantage, it could be a tail wind to earnings.”
While investors worry about Fed tapering and rising interest rates, it’s exactly what banks need. Higher rates provide banks the incentive to lend, which will spur money creation in the commercial banking system.
Meaning as banks start to lend and rates begin to rise, the money supply could begin to grow, and in turn, price inflation could rear its ugly head.
While gold and silver are the traditional hedges to central bank inflation, it helps to think outside those metallic boxes. This can be as simple as stocking up on items that you know you’ll need in the future. Last month in The Daily Reckoning, for example, Addison Wiggin, made the case for buying five years’ worth of razor blades. (See “3 Ways to Make Your Portfolio Inflation-Proof”)
At last year’s Agora Financial Symposium in Vancouver, I mentioned stocking up on real things like cigarettes and liquor too. You may not smoke, drink, or shoot — but you can always sell or trade cigarettes, booze, and ammunition.
There are currently shortages of ammo (.22 caliber rounds sell out in minutes in my town each week), and bullet prices have exploded. Cigarettes and liquor are demonized, taxed, and seem to always increase in price.
All of these physical goods should be on your “buy” list.
Source: The Daily Reckoning
Their al Qaeda terrorists soundly defeated by Hezbollah forces in Syria, the City of London Illuminati banksters have turned their sights on resource-rich Ukraine. They knew Russian President Vladimir Putin would be distracted by the Sochi Olympics, along with the barrage of threats and propaganda being hurled his way by these demonic Zio-fascists and their Western media lapdogs.
With unlimited time and money at their disposal, this is the bankster modus operandi. They attack where they see opportunity, retreat when defeated, then attack another sector of the planet within days based on vulnerability and resources.
Ukraine declared independence from the old Soviet Union in 1990. In 2004-2005 Western NGOs worked with CIA/Mossad/MI6 assets to stage the phony Orange Revolution. Victor Yuschenko became Prime Minister but was poisoned during the campaign. Western media blamed it on the Russians, but it was likely a Mossad operation since he was succeeded by more bankster-friendly right-wing billionaire Yulia Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko had co-led the Orange Revolution and is one of Ukraine’s richest people. In 2005 Forbes named her the third most powerful woman in the world. In 2007 she traveled to the US to meet with Vice-President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condaleeza Rice to talk energy. Tymoshenko became rich as an executive at a natural gas company.
Ukraine was being plugged into Cheney’s crooked Energy Policy Task Force, which opened the planet to unregulated oil & gas exploration, including fracking. Tymoshenko privatized over 300 state industries during her reign,
But the Ukrainian people smelled a rat.
In 2010 they voted in Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych with 48% of the vote. His Party of Regions again defeated Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party in parliamentary elections of 2012.
Tymoshenko was convicted of embezzlement of state funds and abuse of power. She was given a seven year prison sentence and fined $188 million. The crimes occurred in the natural gas sector.
Two weeks ago Tymoshenko was released from prison as part of a deal hatched at a secret meeting between Yanukovych, EU, NATO and Russian officials first reported by William Engdahl in an article for Veterans Today. Soon after her release all hell broke loose.
Mossad’s Fascist Friends
On February 22nd snipers opened fire from rooftops on Kiev’s square. Engdahl says these snipers were members of a far-right fascist terror cell known as Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self Defense (UNA-UNSO).
Led by Andriy Shkil, the group has ties to the neo-Nazi German National Democratic Party. According the Engdahl’s intelligence sources UNA-UNSO is part of a secret NATO Gladio cell and was involved in conflicts ranging from Georgia to Kosovo to Chechnya as part of a strategy of tension aimed at Russia.
Shkil also has direct ties to Tymoshenko, as does newly installed Prime Minster Oleksandr Turchynov, a Baptist preacher and former Tymoshenko advisor who took over after Yanukovych fled under threat to his life to Russia.
In 2006 state prosecutors opened a criminal case against Turchynov, who was accused of destroying files which showed Tymoshenko’s ties to organized crime boss Semion Mogilevich. With Turchynov as Prime Minister Ukraine is now under the thumb of fascist organized criminals known collectively as Right Sector.
It came as no surprise then, when Press TV reported that both Haaretz and the Times of Israel openly bragged of how a group of “former” Israeli soldiers known as the Blue Helmets of the Maidan had led the “protesters” in Kiev’s square under the leadership of a man code-named Delta. According to Paul Craig Roberts, these “protestors” were also being paid by the EU and US.
A Mossad coup brought Right Sector to power, pushing aside more moderate voices being funded and backed by the US, as revealed in the now-infamous YouTube video showing Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussing with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt (both Israeli assets within the State Department) who they would want to install as Ukrainian Prime Minster once they got rid of Yanukovych.
A Resource Grab
As usual this Rothschild-led bankster putsch is all about resources. Ukraine lies in a highly strategic geographic location, fronting both the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Ukraine is the bread basket of the Eastern Hemisphere. In 2011 it was the world’s 3rd largest grain exporter. It ranks in the top 10 countries in the world for sought-after farmland.
Ukraine has the 2nd largest military in Europe after Russia and the NATO Rothschild tool would love nothing better than to run out theRussian Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol – a symbol of Russian naval power since the 18th century.
Ukraine has vast natural gas deposits, an advanced industrial base and is a highly strategic crossroads for oil & gas pipelines connecting Four Horsemen Caspian Sea energy fields with European consumers. In 2009 a dispute between Putin and Tymoshenko over Russia’s trans-Ukrainian gas supplies caused a huge spike in gas prices in Europe.
In October 2013 the IMF met with Ukrainian officials to discuss the country’s alleged “budget crisis”. The bankster enforcer arm demanded that Ukraine double consumer prices for natural gas and electricity, devalue its currency, slash state funding for schools and the elderly, and lift a ban on the sale of its rich farmland to foreigners. In return for this Ukraine was promised a measly $4 billion.
Yanukovych told the IMF to take a hike and Russia soon stepped in promising cheaper energy and stating it would buy $15 billion in Ukrainian bonds. Yanukovych was now on the bankster hit list, and the rest is history.
Russia has responded to the Ukrainian coup by sending troops into the Crimea to protect its mostly Russian-speaking population and the Black Sea Fleet. It was here 160 years ago where Catherine the Great launched a major campaign to seize the Crimea from Ottoman sultans.
During WWII ethnic Tatars in Crimea collaborated with Hitler in seizing the region briefly, before Stalin routed them and expelled the Tatar separatists. Many have since returned.
As this drama unfolds, look for the banksters’ Western media tool to make up some “humanitarian crisis” involving the Tatars. There will be more trouble in Crimea.
But the Russians have responded swiftly, as has the alternative media. It ain’t like the good old days, where bankster coups went unquestioned and unnoticed. The Ukrainian people will not stand for these fascists for long either. They saw the empty promises brought forth by the last bankster “event”- the Orange Revolution. They have experience in the field.
The demonic City of London Illuminati banksters may have unlimited time and money. But the people are awakening. The human spirit has unlimited potential. We are much closer to the beginning of this story than to the end.
Dean Henderson is the author of four books: Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Stickin’ it to the Matrix, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve and The Federal Reserve Cartel.
Source: Dean Henderson
It was during the Ides of March 51 years ago that the God of the Bible set this stumbling man on his feet and with much Grace began to grow him into the person He intended him to be. In those early days of my Christian walk there was much talk about the end times and the soon return of the Savior. “Jesus is Coming Again” was written in 1957 by John Peterson.
Marvelous message we bring,
Glorious carol we sing,
Wonderful word of the King -
Jesus is coming again!
Coming again, Coming again;
Maybe morning, maybe noon,
Maybe evening and maybe soon!
Coming again, Coming again;
O what a wonderful day it will be -
Jesus is coming again!
Forest and flower exclaim,
Mountain and meadow the same,
All earth and heaven proclaim -
Jesus is coming again!
Standing before Him at last,
Trial and trouble all past,
Crowns at His feet we will cast -
Jesus IS coming again!
Tragically, thousands of Christians got stuck on the emotional ecstasy of praise and it became the core of many Charismatic churches. Praise and great gratitude are stored in the hearts of all real Christians but when we approach Jesus like a human friend we fail to exhibit the awe and fear that should be accorded to the King and Judge of creation. When we stand before Jesus at last we will be standing before the Judge.
The God of the Bible is sovereign; He is still on His throne and He rules the world and all of His creation including the human species created in His own image. Yes, we do possess a form of free will. We can disobey God’s directives and we can decide to oppose His Will, but when He selects a particular individual He draws him to Himself, changes his thoughts and desires, and makes him useful for His purposes. During the process the person seems to be making decisions independently and often fails to recognize God’s miraculous hand until much later, if at all.
God selects His servants and though they may have misgivings (Moses), they become servants and do His bidding. Sometimes He selects servants who turn out to be unfaithful and disobedient (Saul). Other times He selects servants who have a deep devotion but suffer from serious character defects (David). He sometimes selects and changes people who hate Him (Paul) and other times He chooses men who love Him but are troubled by fear and disloyalty (Peter). Sometimes His choice is someone strong and faithful other times He chooses a weak unpopular person and makes him strong and authoritative. No man comes to Christ unless the Father draws him.
All of God’s blessings are contingent on obedience. Though He can make us obedient He rewards us for choosing to be obedient. When we choose to be disobedient we suffer; when we choose to be obedient we set the stage for peace, freedom, and prosperity. We can set the stage but blessing is a gift, as with all gifts we cannot demand it.
God made a New Covenant by sacrificing His only Son that we might be saved in spite of our sin. His original Covenant with ancient Israel involved Grace and Law and His New Covenant also involves Grace and Law. When the original Covenant was broken and twelve tribes of Israel were rejected following the crucifixion of Christ, the New Covenant passed to Christians and the Christian Church.
Salvation allows sinners to approach the throne of God as sinless servants. It allows God to hear our prayers. It does not remove the requirement of obedience. Obedience is the foundation of Godly living and sets the stage for the blessed existence God intends for His people. God’s Law is a reflection of God’s character, when we flaunt it we flaunt God and bring His judgment.
Rev. Billy Graham’s crusades have provided an arena for thousands of conversions. Rev. Graham requests that his listeners “make a decision for Christ” and thousands of converts respond and are saved. But there is a serious theological problem: If the creature can “make a decision for Christ” he can also make a decision against Christ which means He is a sort of god over God making the Creator and ruler of the universe subject to his decision. This is not only an arrogant assumption but an irrational conclusion. Thousands have been converted in Graham crusades but each of them was chosen by God before going forward. God is sovereign.
As the frenzy to resist despotic government continues, keeping guns (The Second Amendment to our Constitution) to protect our family and property is a serious concern. We watch helplessly as the land of the free falls under the authority of a power laden tyrannical regime; some of our citizens like ostriches bury their heads in the sand; others seek to offer resistance but are stymied by a creeping progression that leaves them without a stationary target.
There is a third category made up of pragmatic sycophants who go along with the lies and illegal maneuvers to protect themselves or to further their careers. Included in this group would be the end times believers who though they claim to be Christians act like heathen.
In his commentary on” Numbers” R. J. Rushdoony writes, “Two motives now govern men. One is egocentrism whereby the individual judges all things by himself. In terms of Genesis 3:5 he sees himself as a god empowered to judge and determine what is good and evil in terms of himself. The other motive is group centrism: the criterion for judgment becomes one’s social, racial, or special interest group. In either case, no higher law is seen as binding on all. The political process then becomes a clash of false and petty centers, all determined to destroy the totality if their will is not done.”
Tragically, not only the elite would be world rulers but the people they intend to rule have fallen into the condition Rushdoony so aptly describes. In our times all are “determined to destroy the totality if their will is not done”. We have millions of pseudo-Christians who believe they can stem the advance of the police state by electing the proper political figures. Their striving is being successfully countered by the wily elite power brokers who actually have the power to control the political apparatus. It is a meager group that seeks to forsake the entire mess, accept, obey and defend the Law of the Creator, and leave the solution in His hands.
Christians have been lackadaisical; living with and accommodated sin without confronting, resisting, and exposing it. The Christian Church has failed to confront evil and obey God’s Law. When President Wilson broke his anti-war promise and allowed the wealth of the nation to be raped by the criminal Federal Reserve the Christian Church failed to confront the immorality and dishonesty involved. We did the same when President Franklin D. Roosevelt set up a Socialist Government. We were too involved in our own self-centered agenda to pay proper attention to the enemy in the house.
When sin begins to blossom it can easily be removed but if it is ignored and the blossoms become branches and entangling vines cutting off a strand has not effect on the entire plant. This is where we are, we are surrounded by massive entangled sin that we have allowed to grow but that we can no longer control. From a human standpoint our situation is hopeless.
In his commentary on Numbers R. J. Rushdoony writes, “The modern state hides its evils in a vast bureaucracy of endless rules and regulations which make for anonymity. The anonymity of cowardice now surrounds us and all too many men are silent. We do not advance in history by means of any natural force or pendulum, but only by faith and moral courage. This is the great need of our time.”
We can elect another liar to the Presidency but he will forsake his promises and continue to allow the puppeteer to dictate his behavior. We can continue to fight a losing battle against an overwhelming power structure, we can work for a revolution that will result in another oppressive government, or we can put our head in the sand and go along to get along. These are the alternatives. But there is another. God can restore this nation. We cannot untangle the mess but He can. He can restore freedom to the world!
It was the God of the Bible that miraculously freed His people from Egyptian captivity. We worship that same miracle working, powerful and merciful God. “When my people humble themselves—the ones who are called by my name—and pray, seek me, and turn away from their evil practices, I myself will listen from heaven, I will pardon their sins, and I will restore their land.”
Christians often quote this verse from Second Chronicles 7:14 but the promise is contingent on obedience and we have failed to obey. First, God is referring to His Church, “my people – the ones who are called by my name” must humble themselves. Humility is not a wishy-washy condition. Being humble means being subservient to the Living God – understanding that He is God and we are His servants enjoined to do His Will. With a humble spirit we are to seek Him in two ways: One, we are to pray. Two, we are to repent and turn from our evil ways.
It is the second requirement that sets the foundation for the restoration. Turning from our evil ways means that we will stop disobeying God. In order to obey God we must turn to His Law. We are evil; we suffer from the same urge to disobey that overcame Adam in the book of Genesis. We want to be God. We are unable to determine how to obey God without referring the His Law. We must go back to the Torah and the Law God gave to Moses. There is no way to gain a better understanding of the character and desires of the God we worship than to read the Laws He gave to Moses.
God’s Law sets the foundation for the society He seeks for His people. We are saved by the Blood of Jesus; by the sacrifice of God’s Son our sins are forgiven – forgiven but not forgotten. The results of sin cross into the next couple of generations. The sooner we repent and begin to obey God’s Law the sooner we and our posterity will begin to enjoy the righteousness, peace, freedom, and prosperity that obedience produces..
We must humble ourselves and pray, seek God with a contrite heart, and begin to learn and obey His Law. Then He will restore us to our land. Do you realize, gentle reader, that our land is being stolen from us through government ownership and United Nations control? Land is a gift from God to be subdued and cultivated for our sustenance. It is not to be acquired by despotic governments and returned to wilderness.
How do we pray? We pray for forgiveness from our sins and the sins of our fathers. We ask God to forgive us for putting the nation ahead of His Kingdom. We ask to be forgiven for making an idol of politicians and political parties. We repent from being the arbiter of our faith and vow to treat His Word with humility and reverence. We agree to obey His Law to the best of our ability and we thank Him for the provision He has provided by sacrificing His Son. We seek forgiveness for supporting illegal wars with a macho desire for victory and promise never to engage in armed conflict without His willing assistance. We agree to promote obedience in our sphere by confronting evil with righteousness. And we pray all this with the understanding that it is God who has brought the United States of America to this juncture and only He can turn it around.
It is time to acknowledge that we cannot redeem our nation; that human efforts are useless against a powerful opaque enemy who has control of all of the power centers. We can carp at the results of this hidden adversary but we have no way of confronting the forces that are slowly robbing us of our freedom.
I believe God has divorced the mainline Christian Churches, the Charismatic congregations, the independent mega churches, and many of the Evangelical Churches. These organizations have become social centers and theological aberrations. They are useless in the battle for redemption.
The Catholic Church has maintained an authoritative center but it has allowed heretical traditions to distort its theology and sexual sin to stain and pollute its heart. It supports world government and is a significant part of the problem.
The Protestant Church has allowed Antinomianism to destroy its theological base to the point where it can hardly be called a Christian organization. Lawless Evangelical and Charismatic churches do not worship the God of the Bible. The Law is a reflection of the character of God. Christians who deny the Law worship a different god. Rushdoony writes, “To despise God’s law is to despise God.”
Real Christians can no longer support organized churches. If we wish to be servants to the Living God we must leave organized churches.
The God of the Bible, The One True God, seeks an obedient people. He knows our frailties but wants us to do our utmost for His Highest. Our duty is to seek to obey His Commandments in every phase of our lives and to work to bring all of His creation under His dominion. His power and blessing will enforce that effort.
In his comments on Christ’s High Priestly prayer in “Systematic Theology” R. J. Rushdoony quotes a sterling description of a real church by D. Douglas Bannerman,http://www.docs.is.ed.ac.uk/
I am an old man and my energies are waning but I have often dreamed of having an anti-establishment blog in every city. The Blog would specifically counter the slanted news produced by our press and media. These Blogs would correct and add to the news that is always distorted and truncated allowing citizens to read a realistic description of the issues. It would provide the rest of the story that is often found on various internet sites but never in the controlled media. There are good writers who regularly write for the net without compensation. Extensive computer savvy would be required but the cost would be minimal – a few bumper stickers would suffice for advertising.
God may already have rejected the Christian Church. It has been an ineffective organization for many years and efforts to awaken it leaders have failed. Real Christians need to begin to network and work on projects that resist the massive evil entanglements. The objective is to bring the world under God’s control through willing obedience to His Commandments.
Rushdoony list three requirements of the covenant people “law, obedience, and love”.
There it is: Repent, regroup, pray, and work to bring the light of righteousness back into the world. Leave the end times and the Second Coming in the hands of God and begin to do the work God intended for us. When the Mighty God of All Creation is on our side victory is assured.
There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false.
The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category. The transcripts (1,865 pages) reveal the details of 14 emergency meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 2008, when the financial crisis was at its peak and the Fed braintrust was deliberating on how best to prevent a full-blown meltdown. But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized.
What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time. They take advantage of the fact that people simply forget a lot of what happened during the crisis and, as a result, absolve the Fed of any accountability for what is likely the crime of the century. It’s an accomplishment that PR-pioneer Edward Bernays would have applauded. After all, it was Bernays who argued that the sheeple need to be constantly bamboozled to keep them in line. Here’s a clip from his magnum opus “Propaganda”:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
Sound familiar? My guess is that Bernays’ maxim probably features prominently in editors offices across the country where “manufacturing consent” is Job 1 and where no story so trivial that it can’t be spun in a way that serves the financial interests of the MSM’s constituents. (Should I say “clients”?) The Fed’s transcripts are just a particularly egregious example. Just look at the coverage in the New York Times and judge for yourself. Here’s an excerpt from an article titled “Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”:
“The hundreds of pages of transcripts, based on recordings made at the time, reveal the ignorance of Fed officials about economic conditions during the climactic months of the financial crisis. Officials repeatedly fretted about overstimulating the economy, only to realize time and again that they needed to redouble efforts to contain the crisis.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)
This quote is so misleading on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.
First of all, the New York Times is the ideological wellspring of elite propaganda in the US. They set the tone and the others follow. That’s the way the system works. So it always pays to go to the source and try to figure out what really lies behind the words, that is, the motive behind the smokescreen of half-truths, distortions, and lies. How is the Times trying to bend perceptions and steer the public in their corporate-friendly direction, that’s the question. In this case, the Times wants its readers to believe that the Fed members “misread the crisis”; that they were ‘behind the curve’ and stressed-out, but–dad-gum-it–they were trying their level-best to make things work out for everybody.
How believable is that? Not very believable at all.
Keep in mind, the crisis had been going on for a full year before the discussions in these transcripts took place, so it’s not like the members were plopped in a room the day before Lehman blew up and had to decide what to do. No. They had plenty of time to figure out the lay of the land, get their bearings and do what was in the best interests of the country. Here’s more from the Times:
”My initial takeaway from these voluminous transcripts is that they paint a disturbing picture of a central bank that was in the dark about each looming disaster throughout 2008. That meant that the nation’s top bank regulators were unprepared to deal with the consequences of each new event.”
Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? Of course, the Fed knew what was going on. How could they NOT know? Their buddies on Wall Street were taking it in the stern sheets every time their dingy asset pile was downgraded which was every damn day. It was costing them a bundle which means they were probably on the phone 24-7 to (Treasury Secretary) Henry Paulson whining for help. “You gotta give us a hand here, Hank. The whole Street is going toes-up. Please.”
Here’s more from the NYT:
“Some Fed officials have argued that the Fed was blind in 2008 because it relied, like everyone else, on a standard set of economic indicators. As late as August 2008, “there were no clear signs that many financial firms were about to fail catastrophically,” Mr. Bullard said in a November presentation in Arkansas that the St. Louis Fed recirculated on Friday. “There was a reasonable case that the U.S. could continue to ‘muddle through.’ (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)
There’s that same refrain again, “Blind”, “In the dark”, “Behind the curve”, “Misread the crisis”.
Notice how the Times only invokes terminology that implies the Fed is blameless. But it’s all baloney. Everyone knew what was going on. Check out this excerpt from a post by Nouriel Roubini that was written nearly a full year before Lehman failed:
“The United States has now effectively entered into a serious and painful recession. The debate is not anymore on whether the economy will experience a soft landing or a hard landing; it is rather on how hard the hard landing recession will be. The factors that make the recession inevitable include the nation’s worst-ever housing recession, which is still getting worse; a severe liquidity and credit crunch in financial markets that is getting worse than when it started last summer; high oil and gasoline prices; falling capital spending by the corporate sector; a slackening labor market where few jobs are being created and the unemployment rate is sharply up; and shopped-out, savings-less and debt-burdened American consumers who — thanks to falling home prices — can no longer use their homes as ATM machines to allow them to spend more than their income. As private consumption in the US is over 70% of GDP the US consumer now retrenching and cutting spending ensures that a recession is now underway.
On top of this recession there are now serious risks of a systemic financial crisis in the US as the financial losses are spreading from subprime to near prime and prime mortgages, consumer debt (credit cards, auto loans, student loans), commercial real estate loans, leveraged loans and postponed/restructured/canceled LBO and, soon enough, sharply rising default rates on corporate bonds that will lead to a second round of large losses in credit default swaps. The total of all of these financial losses could be above $1 trillion thus triggering a massive credit crunch and a systemic financial sector crisis.” ( Nouriel Roubini Global EconoMonitor)
Roubini didn’t have some secret source for data that wasn’t available to the Fed. The financial system was collapsing and it had been collapsing for a full year. Everyone who followed the markets knew it. Hell, the Fed had already opened its Discount Window and the Term Auction Facility (TAF) in 2007 to prop up the ailing banks–something they’d never done before– so they certainly knew the system was cratering. So, why’s the Times prattling this silly fairytale that “the Fed was in the dark” in 2008?
I’ll tell you why: It’s because this whole transcript business is a big, freaking whitewash to absolve the shysters at the Fed of any legal accountability, that’s why. That’s why they’re stitching together this comical fable that the Fed was simply an innocent victim of circumstances beyond its control. And that’s why they want to focus attention on the members of the FOMC quibbling over meaningless technicalities –like non-existent inflation or interest rates–so people think they’re just kind-hearted buffoons who bumbled-along as best as they could. It’s all designed to deflect blame.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying these conversations didn’t happen. They did, at least I think they did. I just think that the revisionist media is being employed to spin the facts in a way that minimizes the culpability of the central bank in its dodgy, collaborationist engineering of the bailouts. (You don’t hear the Times talking about Hank Paulson’s 50 or 60 phone calls to G-Sax headquarters in the week before Lehman kicked the bucket, do you? But, that’s where a real reporter would look for the truth.)
The purpose of the NYT article is to create plausible deniability for the perpetrators of the biggest ripoff in world history, a ripoff which continues to this very day since the same policies are in place, the same thieving fraudsters are being protected from prosecution, and the same boundless chasm of private debt is being concealed through accounting flim-flam to prevent losses to the insatiable bondholders who have the country by the balls and who set policy on everything from capital requirements on complex derivatives to toppling democratically-elected governments in Ukraine. These are the big money guys behind the vacillating-hologram poseurs like Obama and Bernanke, who are nothing more than kowtowing sock puppets who jump whenever they’re told. Here’s more bunkum from the Gray Lady:
”By early March, the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.
Financial firms, particularly in the mortgage business, were beginning to fail because they could not borrow money. Investors had lost confidence in their ability to predict which loans would be repaid. Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, sold itself for a relative pittance to Bank of America. Bear Stearns, one of the largest packagers and sellers of mortgage-backed securities, was teetering toward collapse.
On March 7, the Fed offered companies up to $200 billion in funding. Three days later, Mr. Bernanke secured the Fed policy-making committee’s approval to double that amount to $400 billion, telling his colleagues, “We live in a very special time.”
Finally, on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)
This part deserves a little more explanation. The author says “the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.” Uh, yeah; because the whole flimsy house of cards came crashing down when investors figured out Wall Street was peddling toxic assets. So the money dried up. No one buys crap assets after they find out they’re crap; it’s a simple fact of life. The Times makes this sound like this was some kind of unavoidable natural disaster, like an earthquake or a tornado. It wasn’t. It was a crime, a crime for which no one has been indicted or sent to prison. That might have been worth mentioning, don’t you think?
More from the NYT: “…on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.”
Yipee! Free money for all the crooks who blew up the financial system and plunged the economy into recession. The Fed assumed blatantly-illegal powers it was never provided under its charter and used them to reward the people who were responsible for the crash, namely, the Fed’s moneybags constituents on Wall Street. It was a straightforward transfer of wealth to the Bank Mafia. Don’t you think the author should have mentioned something about that, just for the sake of context, maybe?
Again, the Times wants us to believe that the men who made these extraordinary decisions were just ordinary guys like you and me trying to muddle through a rough patch doing the best they could.
Right. I mean, c’mon, this is some pretty impressive propaganda, don’t you think? It takes a real talent to come up with this stuff, which is why most of these NYT guys probably got their sheepskin at Harvard or Yale, the establishment’s petri-dish for serial liars.
By September 2008, Bernanke and Paulson knew the game was over. The crisis had been raging for more than a year and the nation’s biggest banks were broke. (Bernanke even admitted as much in testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2011 when he said “only one ….out of maybe the 13 of the most important financial institutions in the United States…was not at serious risk of failure within a period of a week or two.” He knew the banks were busted, and so did Paulson.) Their only chance to save their buddies was a Hail Mary pass in the form of Lehman Brothers. In other words, they had to create a “Financial 9-11″, a big enough crisis to blackmail congress into $700 no-strings-attached bailout called the TARP. And it worked too. They pushed Lehman to its death, scared the bejesus out of congress, and walked away with 700 billion smackers for their shifty gangster friends on Wall Street. Chalk up one for Hank and Bennie.
The only good thing to emerge from the Fed’s transcripts is that it proves that the people who’ve been saying all along that Lehman was deliberately snuffed-out in order to swindle money out of congress were right. Here’s how economist Dean Baker summed it up the other day on his blog:
“Gretchen Morgensen (NYT financial reporter) picks up an important point in the Fed transcripts from 2008. The discussion around the decision to allow Lehman to go bankrupt makes it very clear that it was a decision. In other words the Fed did not rescue Lehman because it chose not to.
This is important because the key regulators involved in this decision, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Timothy Geithner, have been allowed to rewrite history and claim that they didn’t rescue Lehman because they lacked the legal authority to rescue it. This is transparent tripe, which should be evident to any knowledgeable observer.” (“The Decision to Let Lehman Fail”, Dean Baker, CEPR)
Here’s the quote from Morgenson’s piece to which Baker is alluding:
“In public statements since that time, the Fed has maintained that the government didn’t have the tools to save Lehman. These documents appear to tell a different story. Some comments made at the Sept. 16 meeting, directly after Lehman filed for bankruptcy, indicate that letting Lehman fail was more of a policy decision than a passive one.” (“A New Light on Regulators in the Dark”, Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times)
Ah ha! So it was a planned demolition after all. At least that’s settled.
Here’s something else you’ll want to know: It was always within Bernanke’s power to stop the bank run and end to the panic, but if he relieved the pressure in the markets too soon (he figured), then Congress wouldn’t cave in to his demands and approve the TARP. Because, at the time, a solid majority of Republicans and Democrats in congress were adamantly opposed to the TARP and even voted it down on the first ballot. Here’s a clip from a speech by, Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in September 2008 which sums up the grassroots opposition to the bailouts:
“The $700 bailout bill is being driven by fear not fact. This is too much money, in too short of time, going to too few people, while too many questions remain unanswered. Why aren’t we having hearings…Why aren’t we considering any other alternatives other than giving $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren’t we passing new laws to stop the speculation which triggered this? Why aren’t we putting up new regulatory structures to protect the investors? Why aren’t we directly helping homeowners with their debt burdens? Why aren’t we helping American families faced with bankruptcy? Isn’t time for fundamental change to our debt-based monetary system so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the US Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?”
But despite overwhelming public resistance, the TARP was pushed through and Wall Street prevailed. mainly by sabotaging the democratic process the way they always do when it doesn’t suit their objectives.)
Of course, as we said earlier, Bernanke never really needed the money from TARP to stop the panic anyway. (Not one penny of the $700 bil was used to shore up the money markets or commercial paper markets where the bank run took place.) All Bernanke needed to do was to provide backstops for those two markets and, Voila, the problem was solved. Here’s Dean Baker with the details:
“Bernanke deliberately misled Congress to help pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He told them that the commercial paper market was shutting down, raising the prospect that most of corporate America would be unable to get the short-term credit needed to meet its payroll and pay other bills. Bernanke neglected to mention that he could singlehandedly keep the commercial paper market operating by setting up a special Fed lending facility for this purpose. He announced the establishment of a lending facility to buy commercial paper the weekend after Congress approved TARP.” (“Ben Bernanke; Wall Street’s Servant”, Dean Baker, Guardian)
So, there you have it. The American people were fleeced in broad daylight by the same dissembling cutthroats the NYT is now trying to characterize as well-meaning bunglers who were just trying to save the country from another Great Depression.
I could be wrong, but I think we’ve reached Peak Propaganda on this one.
(Note: By “good” propaganda, I mean “effective” propaganda. From an ethical point of view, propaganda can never be good because its objective is to intentionally mislead people…..which is bad.)
President Obama’s Kansas speech is a remarkable document. In calling for more government controls, more taxation, more collectivism, he has two paragraphs that give the show away. Take a look at them.
there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes–especially for the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.
Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.
Though not in Washington, I’m in that “certain crowd” that has been saying for decades that the market will take care of everything. It’s not really a crowd, it’s a tiny group of radicals–radicals for capitalism, in Ayn Rand’s well-turned phrase.
The only thing that the market doesn’t take care of is anti-market acts: acts that initiate physical force. That’s why we need government: to wield retaliatory force to defend individual rights.
Radicals for capitalism would, as the Declaration of Independence says, use government only “to secure these rights”–the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. (Yes, I added “property” in there–property rights are inseparable from the other three.)
That’s the political philosophy on which Obama is trying to hang the blame for the recent financial crisis and every other social ill. But ask yourself, are we few radical capitalists in charge? Have radical capitalists been in charge at any time in the last, oh, say 100 years?
I pick 100 years deliberately, because it was exactly 100 years ago that a gigantic anti-capitalist measure was put into effect: the Federal Reserve System. For 100 years, government, not the free market, has controlled money and banking. How’s that worked out? How’s the value of the dollar held up since 1913? Is it worth one-fiftieth of its value then or only one-one-hundredth? You be the judge. How did the dollar hold up over the 100 years before this government take-over of money and banking? It actually gained slightly in value.
Laissez-faire hasn’t existed since the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. That was the first of a plethora of government crimes against the free market.
Radical capitalists are just beginning to have a slight effect on the Right wing. The overwhelming majority on the Right are eclectic. Which is a nice way of saying inconsistent.
The typical Republican would never, ever say “the market will take care of everything.” He’d say, “the market will take care of most things, and for the other things, we need the regulatory-welfare state.”
They are for individualism–except when they are against it. They are against free markets and individualism not only when they agree with the Left that we must have antitrust laws and the Federal Reserve, but also when they demand immigration controls, government schools, regulatory agencies, Medicare, laws prohibiting abortion, Social Security, “public works” projects, the “social safety net,” laws against insider trading, banking regulation, and the whole system of fiat money.
Obama blames economic woes, some real some manufactured (“inequality”) on a philosophy and policy that was abandoned a century ago. What doesn’t exist is what he says didn’t work.
Obama absurdly suggests that timid, half-hearted, compromisers, like George W. Bush, installed laissez-faire capitalism–on the grounds that they tinkered with one or two regulations (Glass-Steagall) and marginal tax rates–while blanking out the fact that under the Bush administration, government spending ballooned, growing much faster than under Clinton, and 50,000 new regulations were added to the Federal Register.
The philosophy of individualism and the politics of laissez-faire would mean government spending of about one-tenth its present level. It would also mean an end to all regulatory agencies: no SEC, FDA, NLRB, FAA, OSHA, EPA, FTC, ATF, CFTC, FHA, FCC–to name just some of the better known of the 430 agencies listed in the federal register.
Even you, dear reader, are probably wondering how on earth anyone could challenge things like Social Security, government schools, and the FDA. But that’s not the point. The point is: these statist, anti-capitalist programs exist and have existed for about a century. The point is: Obama is pretending that the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society were repealed, so that he can blame the financial crisis on capitalism. He’s pretending that George Bush was George Washington.
We radical capitalists say that it was the regulatory-welfare state that imploded in 2008. You may disagree, but let’s argue that out, rather than engaging in the Big Lie that what failed was laissez-faire and individualism.
The question is: in the messy mixture of government controls and remnants of capitalism, which element caused the Great Depression and the recent financial crisis?
By raising that question, we uncover the fundamental: the meaning of capitalism and the meaning of government controls. Capitalism means freedom. Government means force.
Suddenly, the whole issue comes into focus: Obama is saying that freedom leads to poverty and force leads to wealth. He’s saying: “Look, we tried leaving you free to live your own life, and that didn’t work. You have to be forced, you have to have your earnings seized by the state, you have to work under our directions–under penalty of fines or imprisonment. You don’t deserve to be free.”
As a bit of ugly irony, this is precisely what former white slave-owners said after the Civil War: “The black man can’t handle freedom; we have to force him for his own good.” The innovation of the Left is to extend that viewpoint to all races.
Putting the issue as force vs. freedom shows how the shoe is on the other foot regarding what Obama said. Let me re-write it:
there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The government will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just pile on even more regulations and raise taxes–especially on the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the losers are protected by more social programs and a higher minimum wage, if there is more Quantitative Easing by the Fed, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle up to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle up, well, that’s the price of the social safety net.
Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our intellectuals’ collectivism and Paul Krugman’s skepticism about freedom. That’s in Harvard’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the Soviet Union. It’s not what led to the incredible booms in India and China. And it didn’t work when Europe tried it during over the last decades. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this statist theory.
How does that sound? That’s blaming an actual, existing condition–government controls and wealth-expropriation–not a condition that ended in the late 19th century.
So which is the path to prosperity and happiness–freedom or force? Remember that force is aimed at preventing you from acting on your rational judgment.
Obama’s real antagonist is Ayn Rand, who made the case that reason is man’s basic means of survival and coercion is anti-reason. Force initiated against free, innocent men is directed at stopping them from acting on their own thinking. It makes them, under threat of fines and imprisonment, act as the government demands rather than as they think their self-interest requires. That’s the whole point of threatening force: to make people act against their own judgment.
The radical, uncompromised, laissez-faire capitalism that Obama pretends was in place in 2008 is exactly what morality demands. Because, as Ayn Rand wrote in 1961: “No man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others. . . . To claim the right to initiate the use of physical force against another man–the right to compel his agreement by the threat of physical destruction–is to evict oneself automatically from the realm of rights, of morality and of the intellect.”
Obama and his fellow statists have indeed evicted themselves from that realm.
Previous articles discussed Obama’s rogue agenda in detail. His destructive pattern continues unabated. Throughout his tenure, he did what supporters thought impossible.
He exceeded the worst of George Bush. His policies replicate Republican hardliners. Neocons infest his administration.
He’s waging war on humanity. He’s doing at home and abroad.
He wrecked America’s economy. He looted the nation’s wealth. He handed Wall Street crooks multi-trillions of dollars. He gave trillions more to war profiteers.
Other corporate favorites benefitted hugely. So did super-rich elites. Ordinary Americans struggle through protracted Depression level conditions.
Hard times keep getting harder. They persist. They show no signs of ending. Growing millions face impoverishment without jobs or futures.
Freedoms are disappearing in plain sight. Police state ruthlessness targets dissent. Abuse of power is institutionalized.
Multiple regime change fronts target foreign leaders. Independent ones aren’t tolerated. Obama wants Syria’s Assad replaced.
He’s waging proxy to oust him. He’s responsible for three years of bloody conflict. Mass slaughter, destruction and unspeakable human misery define it.
Millions of internally and externally displaced Syrians attest to his ruthlessness. War rages without end.
Peace talks are more pretense than real. Full-scale US intervention may follow their failure. They’re currently deadlocked. They’re going nowhere.
Syrians want their sovereign rights protected. Obama wants unconditional surrender. He wants pro-Western puppet governance replacing Assad. He wants similar stooges in charge elsewhere.
So-called Iranian nuclear talks may fail. Pursuing them is red herring cover for regime change.
Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful. It has no military component. Washington hardliners claim otherwise. So does Obama.
Saying so flies in the face of hard evidence. Annual US intelligence assessments affirm Iran’s peaceful program. So do IAEA inspectors.
Regime change matters more. So does eliminating an Israeli rival. Perhaps Obama plans more war to do it. Maybe he intends manipulating nuclear talks to fail as pretext.
Maybe he’ll attack Iran jointly with Israel. Maybe he’ll risk regional war doing it. Imagine the unthinkable.
Imagine humanity threatening nuclear war. Bush administration’s 2001 Nuclear Policy Review asserted first strike nuclear policy strategy.
His 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategies reaffirmed it. In 2010, Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review was old wine in new bottles.
Rhetoric changed, not policy. Obama “reserves the right” to use nuclear weapons preemptively. He does so based on real or invented threats.
He does it against non-nuclear power states. His land/sea/air triad offensive can be activated on his call alone.
He can order bombs away against any country. He can claim preemptive defense against a nonexistent existential threat. He can risk mushroom-shaped cloud denouement doing so.
Total war risks what no responsible leader would dare. Obama waged multiple direct and proxy wars throughout his entire tenure.
He’s got other targets in mind. How many more millions will suffer on his watch? How many more will perish? How much more human suffering is too much?
America’s super-weapons include the Mother of All Bombs. It has globe-circling delivery systems. It has arsenal strength able to extinguish human life in hours. Days at most.
It’s perhaps lawless enough to try. Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (1904 – 2005) said human intelligence doesn’t guarantee survival.
Beetles and bacteria stand a better chance than humans. They may become the only species ever to self-destruct.
Hubris produces bad endings. America faces the same fate as all previous empires. None survived.
America’s denouement may take humanity with it. Imagine having leaders willing to risk it. Imagine ending life on earth.
Waging war on Syria risks regional war. Attacking Iran risks the unthinkable. Plans were readied years ago. Updating followed.
Bombs away could happen with push button ease. Is Obama foolhardy enough to risk it?
Ukraine is targeted for regime change. The battle for its soul continues. Same old, same old reflects US policy.
Obama wants another independent leader toppled. He wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing him.
He wants opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk leading it. On Sunday, he addressed supporters publicly. He did so in Ukraine’s Independence Square.
President Viktor Yanukovych extended an olive branch earlier. Yatsenyuk rejected his offer to become prime minister. He’s forming his own government, he said.
He wants Ukraine’s 2004 constitution reinstated. It calls for combined parliamentary/presidential rule.
Obama wants Ukraine colonized for profit. He wants its resources plundered. He wants ordinary Ukrainians turned into serfs. He wants Russia increasingly weakened and isolated.
He’s in league with ultranationalist extremists. He’s involved in inciting continuing violent clashes.
He wants all former Soviet republics transformed into subservient US satellites. He wants America’s war machine encroaching on Russia’s borders.
Imagine challenging the only other nation able to match America’s nuclear might blow for blow.
Imagine the potential mother of all conflicts. Imagine the possible mother of all bad endings.
Imagine an irresponsible US leader willing to risk the unthinkable. Imagine bipartisan complicity doing nothing to stop him. Imagine strong anti-war sentiment absent on streets protesting.
Imagine America again getting away with mass murder. Imagine it on the most unspeakable of ugly scales.
Imagine risking humanity’s survival in the process. Imagine imperial madness exceeding everything preceding it.
Imagine targeting Venezuela at the same time. Imagine wanting Bolivarian social justice destroyed.
Imagine trying for the past 15 years to extinguish it. Imagine new schemes following failed ones.
Imagine wanting control of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves. They’re the world’s largest. Big Oil has its eye on the prize it covets.
Obama killed Chavez. He was either poisoned or infected with cancer causing substances.
Maduro believes he’s targeted the same way. He knows Obama wants him ousted. He wants fascist governance replacing him.
US manipulated violence continues on Venezuelan streets. On Sunday, President Nicolas Maduro addressed thousands of supporters.
“You want to see people in the streets? We’ll give you people in the streets,” he said. Thousands cheered him.
“I’m not going to give one millimeter of the power the Venezuelan people have given me.”
“Nothing will stop me from building this revolution which comandante Chavez left us.”
Maduro denounced protesters as coup d’etat fascists. Responsible parties will be prosecuted according to the full letter of the law, he said.
He accused former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe of fomenting unrest. He called him an “enemy of Venezuela.”
So is anti-Bolivarian fascist politician Leopoldo Lopez. He heads
Venezuela’s hard-right Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party.
He incited violence. “There cannot be peace,” he said. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
He’s charged with murder, terrorism, conspiracy, incitement to crime, setting fire to a public building, damaging public property, public intimidation, and inflicting serious injuries.
Maduro called him “the face of fascism.” He threatens Venezuelan freedom. He’s against Bolivarian fairness. So are other likeminded extremists.
On Sunday, Venezuelan Minister of Interior and Justice Miguel Rodriguez Torres spoke publicly. He condemned opposition-provoked street violence.
“(V)andalism protests, he called them. Popular Will party extremists incite them. John Kerry issued an outrageous one-sided statement. In didn’t surprise. In part, he said:
“We are particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protestors and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.”
“These actions have a chilling effect on citizens’ rights to express their grievances peacefully.”
He ignored Washington’s role in inciting violence. He condemned what he supports.
Doublespeak duplicity defines US policy. Kerry called on Venezuela’s government “to provide the political space necessary for meaningful dialogue with the Venezuelan people…”
He urged restoration of calm. He called “(f)reedoms of expression and peaceful assembly…universal rights.”
Venezuela “has an obligation to protect” them,” he said.
Bolivarian principles champion them. America systematically trashes rule of law principles. It’s waging economic, political and street clash war on Venezuela. Don’t expect Kerry to explain.
Obama has three years left in office. How many more independent governments does he plan to target?
How much more street violence will he cause? How many more wars will he wage? How much more carnage will follow?
How much longer will Americans tolerate his lawlessness? The only solution is nonviolent revolution.
Resisting tyranny is a national imperative. America’s Declaration of Independence endorsed it, saying:
“(W)hever any form of government (threatens) life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”
Jefferson, Madison and other notable Americans supported doing so. Tyranny is too unjust to tolerate. Good people are obligated to resist.
It’s a noble tradition. It’s a universal right for justice. It’s high time Americans got some. The alternative is perhaps perish.
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.
When Major General Smedley Butler made his case,”War is a Racket” he did not pull any punches. “The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! That is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let’s get it.” The business of military procurement has multiplied since his fateful revelations.Not satisfied with fair profits or feasible competition, the practices of the defense corporatists illustrate one aspect of waste, graft and systemic bribery. William D. Hartung describes the consolidation and expanse of a select group of companies in the paper, The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited: Shifting Patterns of Military Contracting in the Post-9/11 Period
“Many of the same companies that benefited from increased Pentagon and war spending were top contractors for other security related agencies. For example, Lockheed Martin was not only the top contractor for the Pentagon, but it also ranked number one at the Department of Energy; number eight at the Department of Homeland Security (Boeing was number one); number two at the State Department; and number three at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Contracts let by these agencies were only a fraction of the levels awarded by the Pentagon, but they were significant nonetheless. For example, the Department of Homeland Security issued $13.4 billion in contracts in FY2008, NASA $15.9 billion, the State Department $5.5 billion, and the Department of Energy $24.6 billion.”
This dramatic growth in budgets is even more significant, when viewed in the context of world expenditures of other counties. Leaving aside the relative merits of the dangers and risk of external threats, the gigantic enterprise of fostering the biggest military apparatus in history has made select factions rich at the expense of the many.
Jonathan Turley in Pentagon Plugs: New Study Finds Pentagon Has Hidden Trillions In Missing Money And Equipment, references an example on how the overall avoidance of financial accountability, outright fraud and intentional concealment operates.
“A new report has detailed how the military has cooked the books to hide trillions, that’s right trillions, in missing money and equipment. The military calls them “plugs,” a curious term for fraud. These are knowingly fake figures used to hide the fact that there is no accurate record of the money.
The plugs are generally the work of the office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency. Required to complete an audit, the staff simply faked the numbers.”
Reuter’s reports on a Special Report: The Pentagon’s doctored ledgers conceal epic waste.
“Over the past 10 years, the Defense Department has signed contracts for the provision of more than $3 trillion in goods and services. How much of that money is wasted in overpayments to contractors, or was never spent and never remitted to the Treasury, is a mystery. That’s because of a massive backlog of “closeouts” – audits meant to ensure that a contract was fulfilled and the money ended up in the right place.”
Now trillions are sums that are unimaginable The Department of the Treasury acknowledges that U.S. gold reserves (if you believe their figures) total $11,041,059,958.16 as of their Current Report: January 31, 2014.
An eleven billion dollars equivalent is a mere drop in the bucket to the monies allocated to the military and homeland security. Taxpayers are regularly deceived about the costs. Congress is kept in the dark about black programs. And the war racket keeps funneling and siphoning off unknown sums to accounts that only a super computer can track.
Corporatocracy: How the Corporate Welfare State Divides and Conquers is a video by James Corbertt that provides an insightful analysis which establishes a surreal account how the oligarchy operates. The financial shenanigans of corporatists contribute to the interlocking directorates, which run the money pit that keeps the empire operating.
A rational reform of a depraved money laundering arrangement is impossible without a fundamental repudiation of the internationalist foreign policy doctrines that permeates the State Department. Funding advance technological warfare platforms that are unheard of to even congressional oversight is profoundly unconstitutional.
When such practices become routine, the economic incentives breed crooked abuses. The obligations for responsible public policy are methodically destroyed, when transparency is eliminated.
The Washington Blog provides several useful sources that document the extent of the problem in “$8.5 TRILLION In Taxpayer Money Doled Out By Congress To The Pentagon Since 1996 … Has NEVER Been Accounted For” and sums up with a bleak assessment.
“The Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year.”
Evidently, the elites that benefit from bilking appropriations and the board members that steer the defense contractors want the con to continue. For all the money directed towards maintaining the war machine, our actual security become less secure.
Banks laundry ill-gotten gain, as prevailing practice, in the normal course of business because the arm merchants are protected players in the trade. The reprehensible circle that the dogs of war unleash the cash flow from their illicit drug sales, through arms sales, allows for the smooth transfer of hidden blood money into number accounts.
Such an organized system of mutual payoffs greases the ever growing industry of fear and destruction. All the missing money is buried in the unknown cashes of subterranean tyranny. Creating false flag threats allows for imaginary scourges to be new enemies. Protection from such manufactured foes is the real business of the military-industrial-complex.
So, when more details surface about the lost and unaccounted military funding money, it is just part of the price of keeping you safe.
Many benefit programs have gone high tech with debit cards and J.P. Morgan Chase and others are making a pretty penny charging users fees. What is there to be done?
The Agricultural Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama last Friday, includes $8 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade. One way the bill proposes to accomplish these savings is by reducing food stamp fraud. When the new farm bill is enacted, many of America’s hardest working families will experience cuts in services and have trouble putting food on their family’s table. But there will be major gains for an industry that most Americans might not expect: banking.
Banks reap hefty profits helping governments make payments to individuals, business that only got better when agencies switch from making payments on paper—checks and vouchers—to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. EBT cards look and work like debit cards, and by 2002, had entirely replaced the stamp booklets that gave the food stamp program its name. SNAP is the most well-known program delivered via EBT, but they also carry payments for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); childcare subsidies; state general assistance; and many other programs. EBT use is widespread, from the corner store to the supercenter. According to a 2012 USDA report, SNAP funds, averaging $133 per family member per month, can be spent at more than 246,000 authorized stores, farmers’ markets, farms, and meal providers nationwide.
Not only are the operating costs of delivering benefits by EBT lower—no paper checks to cut, envelopes to stuff, or postage to pay—but electronic forms of payment allow banks to multiply opportunities for revenue generation. Banks hold contracts with federal, state, and municipal agencies to provide EBT cards and services, collect interest on federal reserve money held for government programs (though not on SNAP funds), charge transaction fees for merchant use of bank technology and infrastructure, and levy penalties on users for EBT card loss, out-of-network use, and balance inquiries. Banks make money distributing government benefits if the economy is bad, because more people sign up for assistance; they make money if the economy is good, because rising interest rates mean more profit on the money they hold to distribute to beneficiaries.
Distributing government benefits is a lucrative industry. According to theGovernment Accountability Institute, J.P. Morgan Chase, which currently controls EBT contracts in 21 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, made more than half a billion dollars between 2004 and 2012 providing government benefits to U.S. citizens. In New York alone, J.P. Morgan Electronic Financial Services (EFS) holds a nine-year, $177 million EBT services contract with the State Office of Temporary and Disability Services (OTDA). New York currently pays $0.95 per month for each its 1.7 million SNAP cases. In addition, J.P. Morgan EFS collects penalties and fees from benefit recipients: $5 to replace a lost EBT card, $0.40 for each balance inquiry, $0.50 each time their cards are declined for insufficient funds, and $1.50 per withdrawal if they use ATMs to get cash more than once a month. While information about profit margins on EBT contracts is neither collected at the national level nor released by banks, EBT is a significant growth area for big banks. Last year, the Federal Reserve Payments Study reported that the number of EBT transactions more than doubled since 2006.
Electronic benefits delivery is such a rewarding business that banks seem to fear only two things: policy changes and bad publicity. The publicity problems of EBT programs became obvious over the last three months of 2103 when three major EBT system failure scandals erupted. The threat of policy change is perhaps less visible. New regulations could take distribution of these benefits out of the hands of for-profit banks, limit the fees they are able to collect, or mandate a switch from EBT cards to different kinds of electronic funds transfer with fewer opportunities for generating revenue, such as direct deposit. But banks have nothing to fear in the new Agricultural Act; it’s only good news for the finance sector.
The new farm bill lowers benefit levels somewhat, exempts new categories of people—college students, ex-felons, and lottery winners—from SNAP eligibility, and prohibits advertising to increase enrollment of eligible individuals, like radio and television campaign launched by the USDA in 2004. But the bill’s sponsor, Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), and other members of the House Committee on Agriculture seem to trust that detecting and preventing fraud will accomplish much of the hoped-for savings. The new Act includes numerous fraud-fighting provisions, including those that:
- Require merchants to maintain unique terminal identification numbers for point of sale machines, further restrict the kinds of food that can be bought with SNAP, and bar manual sales of food items without bar codes;
- Improve procedures and technologies to facilitate state-to-state and state-to-federal information sharing;
- Invite federal-state collaborative pilot projects to “identify, investigate, and reduce fraud” by merchants; and
- Set aside $40 million to help the USDA store information, such as food purchase data from chain stores and loyalty card companies, and data-mine it, by linking store sales and EBT transaction data at the household level to uncover purchasing patterns, for example.
In short, the SNAP fraud provisions will increase the ability of state and federal agencies to track who bought what food, where, and for how much. A vast amount of information on the purchases of millions of U.S. citizens will be collected by state agencies and private entities, stored by the USDA, and data-mined for patterns of EBT use that indicate fraud.
Why will this intensified focus on fraud work out so well for banks? First, banks innovate and control the most cutting-edge technologies that detect and prevent fraud in electronic funds transfer. The financial sector employs armies of computer programmers, IT specialists, and software engineers, and banks hold dozens of patents on biometric technology, data-mining systems, and payment tracking software. State and federal agencies can develop fraud-fighting code and procedures themselves, but many lack sufficient capacity and choose instead to contract with banks. Florida, for example, piloted an eight-month EBT abuse detection project in 2012 that was staffed by both J.P. Morgan and state employees, as Peter Schweizer reported in The Daily Beast. The anti-fraud provisions of the farm bill, thus, provide a significant opportunity for more, and more lucrative, contracts for banks.
Second, fraud in food stamps, despite public perceptions, is already low, and getting from very little fraud to zero fraud is prohibitively expensive. This is especially true for trafficking—the trading of SNAP benefits for cash—the most common form of SNAP fraud. Merchants and recipients must work together to traffic SNAP benefits. Recipients approach a merchant, who might offer 50 cents on the dollar to convert food stamps to cash. The merchant runs the EBT card, hands over cash, and then reports sales for reimbursement by the Treasury. Current fraud detection and prevention focuses on suspicious patterns—merchants who claim lots of even-dollar sales, recipients who spend all of their SNAP benefits in the first week of the month—but traffickers have adjusted quickly, learning to input odd dollar amounts and to spread requests for reimbursement over time.
The USDA estimates that the amount of SNAP benefits being trafficked has been reduced by 145 percent since 1993. According to a March 2011 Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) report, for the period of 2006-2008, trafficking diverted about 1 cent of each benefit dollar. Trafficking is difficult to detect and prevent, because retailers and recipients who commit fraud adapt as fast as banks, states, and the USDA can develop new data-mining and investigative procedures. This fraud-detection arms race is expensive and time-consuming for government agencies and contractors, and adds cumbersome limits and procedures for users—both merchants and recipients—most of whom aren’t committing fraud.
What cost are we willing to bear to reduce SNAP fraud to less than a penny per dollar? Federal and state government agencies invest astronomical sums in high-tech tools to address a financially negligible problem. For comparison’s sake, while we lose $330 million a year to SNAP trafficking, Ashlea Ebeling of Forbesestimates that the U.S. government loses $40 to $70 billion a year to offshore tax evasion. Nevertheless, in 2012, the FNS conducted 4,396 undercover investigations of retail grocers suspected of fraud, at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers, identifying violations in about 40 percent of cases. In 2011, Alabama’s RFP for EBT services strongly encouraged potential vendors to “recommend the use of new and innovative technologies” to “improve detection and prevention of fraud” and integrate biometrics in their proposals for the state’s SNAP program. The five-year Alabama contract, worth $51 million, went to Xerox, the same company that denied SNAP users in 17 states access to food for several hours when they shut down their EBT system without any warning last October.
Third, only three firms handle the majority of EBT contracts with states and U.S. territories: J.P. Morgan EFS (23 contracts); Xerox State and Local Solutions, Inc. (17 contracts); and eFunds Corporation, a subsidiary of FIS Global (11 contracts). On February 10, J.P. Morgan confirmed that it plans to sell its prepaid card business, including U.S. Public Sector and EBT programs, after suffering a serious data breach on debit cards used at Target stores and facing inquiries from Connecticut and New York about its lack of sufficient privacy safeguards and high card fees. This may leave even fewer players in the mix, and that’s a bad thing, according to Michele Simon, author of the report, “Food Stamps, Follow the Money: Are Corporations Profiting From Hungry Americans?”, who provided a copy of the New York/J.P. Morgan EBT contract for this story. When so few firms control such significant market share, it implies limited competition and excessive market power. Simon suggests, in fact, that the recent changes to SNAP represent a large, mostly overlooked corporate subsidy. “The real policy challenge in SNAP is not fraud. It is the fact that we have an $80 billion a year program that does not solve hunger, and certainly does not provide good nutrition, but instead is a boon for banks, big box retailers, and junk food companies.”
If banks are secret winners, the losers are pretty clear: taxpayers, particularly those who receive nutritional support through the SNAP program. That’s one in seven Americans at this moment, and 52 percent of all Americans at some point in their lifetimes, according to Mark Rank, author of One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All. Put simply, the Agricultural Act of 2014 takes money from a program that serves the majority of Americans and gives it to banks and high-tech companies.
But it does something else. These provisions improve a system meant to collect information on the food purchases of more than half of the U.S. population, and fund the development of increasingly sophisticated technology to sift and analyze it. In the same year that we expressed shock and outrage that the NSA is collecting meta-information on our cellphone calls and Google searches, why are we acquiescing, even welcoming, a sophisticated new program to collect American consumer information? Do we really want the federal and state governments data-mining our grocery lists?
We need a solution that contains bank profits and prevents this kind of mass surveillance. The answer’s simple: stop trying to predict fraud, eliminate complicated rules about what can and cannot be bought with food stamps, and switch to direct deposit.
A key challenge of this solution is connecting benefits recipients with affordable bank accounts, because for-profit banks are not particularly interested in low-balance, high-transaction customers. But, according to Aleta Sprague, policy analyst in the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, strategies that focus on eliminating barriers to bank accounts will provide significant benefits for poor and working Americans. Connecting benefits recipients to the financial mainstream poses real challenges to both the public assistance system and current financial practices, but there are intriguing experiments already underway. In Washington state, for example, a collaboration of the Department of Commerce and Burst for Prosperity is connecting households on public assistance with affordable banking services and requiring that no-fee accounts be included in future EBT provider contracts.
“Instead of seeking to monitor and regulate every purchase a low-income consumer makes,” says Sprague, “we should recognize and capitalize on the potential of the public assistance system to serve as a mechanism for financial inclusion. That way, rather than constructing the safety net around distrust of the poor, we would leverage the system to increase families’ financial autonomy and capabilities.”
Direct deposit is more efficient, cheaper, and requires less administrative oversight. That’s why the IRS, Social Security, and Unemployment Insurance encourage us to use it. What direct deposit would not allow is paternalistic rules about how public assistance beneficiaries choose to use their resources to best support their families. Treating SNAP recipients like the reasonable, hard-working adults they are is not only simpler and less expensive; it is most just.
“Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” – John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
It’s too bad Keynes isn’t around today to see how the toxic combo of financial engineering, central bank liquidity and fraud have transformed the world’s biggest economy into a hobbled, crisis-prone invalid that’s unable to grow without giant doses of zero-rate heroin and mega-leverage crack-cocaine. This is exactly what the British economist warned about more than half a century ago in his magnum opus, “The General Theory…”, that you can’t build a vital, prosperous economy on the ripoff, Ponzi scams of Wall Street charlatans, mountebanks and swindlers. It can’t be done. And, yet– here we are again– in the middle of another historic asset-price bubble conceived and engineered by the bubbleheaded crackpots at the Federal Reserve. Go figure?
Just take a look at housing, which is at the end of an astonishing 18-month run that was entirely precipitated by what?
Consumer confidence, bigger incomes, credit expansion, growing revenues, pent-up demand?
No, no, no, no and no. Economic fundamentals played no part in the so called housing rebound. In fact–as everyone knows–the economy stinks as bad today as it did 4 years ago when the government number-crunchers announced the end of the recession. The reason prices have been rising is because of the Fed’s loosy-goosey monetary policy (fake rates and QE), inventory suppression, bogus gov mortgage modification programs, and unprecedented speculation. (mainly Private Equity and investors groups) Those are the four legs of the stool propping up housing. Only now it looks like a couple of those legs are in the process of being sawed off which is going to put downward pressure on sales and prices. Take a look at this from DS News:
“A majority of experts surveyed by Zillow and Pulsenomics expect large-scale investors will pull out of the housing market in the next few years…
Out of 110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists surveyed in Zillow’s latest Home Value Index, 57 percent said they think institutional investors will work to sell the majority of homes in their portfolios “in the next three to five years.” These investors are largely credited with propping up housing during its recession, helping to keep sales volumes from plummeting too far.
While their withdrawal will most certainly affect today’s still-fragile market—79 percent of those surveyed said the impact would be “significant or somewhat significant” should investor activity curtail this year.”
Experts Predict Level Playing Field as Investors Withdraw, DS News
This is what we were afraid of from the very beginning, that the big PE firms would pack-it-in and move on once they’d made a killing, which they have, since prices soared 12 percent in one year. Now they want to get out while they getting is good, which means that–in some of the hotter markets where investors represented upwards of 50 percent of all purchases–there will have to be a new source of demand. Unfortunately, the demand for housing has never been weaker.
Sales are down, purchase applications are down, and the country’s homeownership rate has slipped to levels not seen since 1995, 18 years ago. The Fed’s $1 trillion purchase of mortgage backed securities (MBS) and zero rates have done nothing to stimulate “organic” consumer demand. Zilch. No “trickle down” at all. All the policy has done is generate a temporary surge of speculation that’s distorted prices and created conditions for another big bust. Get a load of this article from Housing Perspectives:
“Although household growth is the major driver of housing demand, getting an accurate picture of recent trends in this measure is difficult…In its recent release, the HVS reported annual household growth of just 448,800 in 2013. This represents a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession (Figure 1).
Source: US Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey
Repeat: “…a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession.”
Do you really think there are enough firsttime homebuyers in out there in Mortgageland to fill that gap?
In your dreams! Keep in mind, that a lot of firsttime homebuyers are collage grads who want to start a family and put down roots. Regrettably, nearly half of those potential buyers have been scrubbed from the list due to their burgeoning student loans which now exceed $1 trillion. These kids will probably never own a home, let-alone have a positive impact on sales in 2014. Ain’t gonna happen.
Maybe this is why the banks are suddenly speeding up their foreclosure filings, because they want to offload more of their distressed inventory before prices fall. Is that it? Check out this article on Housingwire:
“Monthly foreclosure filings — including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — reversed course and increased 8% to 124,419 in January from December, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.
This marks the 40th consecutive month where foreclosure activity declined on an annual basis, with filings down 18% from January…
As a whole, 57,259 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in January, rising 10% from December…
…this month’s foreclosure starts increased from a year ago in 22 states, including Maryland (up 126%), Connecticut (up 82%), New Jersey (up 79%), California (up 57%), and Pennsylvania (up 39%).
Scheduled foreclosure auctions jumped 13% in January compared to the previous month.”RealtyTrac: Monthly foreclosure filings reverse course, rise 8%, Housingwire
Like most articles on housing, you have to sift through the bullshit to figure out what’s really going on, but it’s worth the effort. The banks have been dragging their feet for 40 months now, slowing down the foreclosure process (and adding to the shadow supply of distressed homes.) in order to push up prices hoping to ignite another boom. Now–after 3 and a half years of blatant collusion–they’ve done a 180 and started speeding up foreclosures. Why?
It’s because they agree with the above-mentioned “110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists” who think that “institutional investors” are going to call-it-quits and move on to greener pastures. That’s going to push down prices, which means they’re going to lose money. So they want to get ahead of the curve and dump more houses on the market before the stampede. That way, they lose less money.
Keep in mind, the banks are up-to-their-eyeballs in distressed inventory. Even conservative estimates of shadow backlog puts the figure of 90-day delinquent or worse, above 3 million homes. But if you review the gloomier prognostications, the sum could easily exceed 6 million homes, enough to suck the entire bleeding banking system into a black hole of insolvency. There was an interesting article on the topic in Bloomberg last week. It seems that, “bond king” Jeffrey Gundlach has been warning mortgage-backed security purchasers that they should to pay more attention to underlying collateral in MBSs (vacant homes, that is) which have been “rotting away” for “six years” or more. Here’s a clip from the article:
“The housing market is softer than people think,” Mr. Gundlach said, pointing to a slowdown in mortgage refinancing, shares of homebuilders that have dropped 13% since reaching a high in May, and the time it’s taking to liquidate defaulted loans…
About 32% of seriously delinquent borrowers, those at least 90 days late, haven’t made a payment in more than four years, up 7% from the beginning of 2012, according to Fitch analyst Sean Nelson.
“These timelines could still increase for another year or so,” Mr. Nelson said, leading to even higher losses because of added legal and tax costs, and a greater potential for properties to deteriorate.”
Gundlach Counting Rotting Homes Makes Subprime Bear, Bloomberg
Let me get this straight: The number of “seriously delinquent borrowers” has actually gone up in the last year? Not only that, but many of these people “haven’t made a payment in more than four years”?
That’s a mighty fine recovery you got there, Mr. Bernanke. Sheesh.
Keep in mind, the backlog of unwanted homes could be a lot bigger than most people think. Way bigger. I was reading an article by Keith Jurow the other day, (“The Coming Mortgage Delinquency Disaster”, Keith Jurow, dshort.com) that paints a pretty grim picture of what is really going on behind the faux inventory numbers. Jurow–who has done extensive research on pre-foreclosure notice filings in New York state– says: “The number of monthly foreclosure filings in Suffolk County on Long Island …(were) more than 180,000 (while) fewer than 1,000 foreclosure filings had been served each month in (the last 4 years). By this calculation, Jurow figures that there should have been 1,192,000 foreclosures in New York state while the actual percentage of homes that have been repossessed remains in the single digits. (Read the whole article here.)
Chew on that for a minute. So, that’s a total of 180,000 homeowners who would have faced foreclosure under normal conditions, while less than 48,000 have actually been foreclosed. That’s 132,000 fewer foreclosures than there should have been IN JUST ONE COUNTY IN ONE STATE ALONE.”
The reason the prodigious shadow stockpile continues to balloon is quite simple, as Jurow points out in his piece: “Servicers do not foreclose on seriously delinquent borrowers throughout the entire NYC metro area. Completed foreclosures have actually declined rather dramatically throughout the nation in the past two years. The difference is that in the NYC metro, the servicers have not been foreclosing since the spring of 2009.”
So, there you have it; the banks haven’t been foreclosing because it hasn’t been in their interest to foreclose. Foreclosure sales push down prices which batters balance sheets and scares shareholders. Who wants that? So the game goes on. Only now, the dynamic is changing. Skittish investors are eyeing the exits, QE is winding down, and housing prices have peaked. The recovery has reached its zenith, which is why the bankers want get off on the top floor before the elevator begins its bumpy descent.
People who are thinking about buying a house in the near future, should watch developments in the market closely and proceed with extreme caution. No one wants to get burned in another bank swindle.
When pondering our obsession with immigration, I’m reminded of how people in the ridiculous dystopian film Idiocracy were watering their crops with an energy drink called Brawndo. And even though the crops weren’t growing, the suggestion to try water instead was met with the following conditioned response in the drink’s defense: “It’s got what plants crave! It’s got electrolytes!” No one knew what electrolytes were. No one could explain why they were in Brawndo. It was all sloganeering.
And so it is with immigration. Why do we have immigration? “Because it’s got what America craves! It’s got people!” But why does the US, the world’s third most populous country, need more people? “Because they’re in immigration! It’s got what America craves!”
The problem with a blanket advocacy of “immigration” is that, as with “ideology,” it is a category, not a creed. If someone proclaimed, “We need ideology!” we should ask, will any one do? Will liberalism, conservatism, libertarianism, Nazism, Marxism or socialism all serve equally well? Likewise, we should ask about immigration: would importing 10 million liberals, conservatives, libertarians, Nazis, Marxists or socialists all serve the US equally well? (Mind you, the majority of today’s new immigrants are socialist minded.) Would importing 10 million Russian nationalists, Chinese nationalists, Iranian nationalists or Mexican nationalists be as wise as having 10 million more American nationalists? Hey, who needs discernment?
No one, apparently, when in the grip of a certain simplistic dogma of our time, “immigrationism.” This is the belief that immigration is always good, always necessary and always above reproach — at least in Western nations. Nobody ever seems to ask why Japan has no immigration.
Nobody, for instance, asks where Japan will get the needed skilled workers, even though this is a popular question posed in the wake of the Swiss vote to limit their demographic upheaval. In answering this question, note that a nation — in the true sense of the word — is an extension of the tribe, which itself is an extension of the family. Now, what if your family needs to have pipes fixed and no one within your home has the requisite skills? You hire someone with the necessary expertise, pay him his fee, and then he leaves when the job is done.
You don’t adopt a plumber.
In other words, work visas will suffice.
Yet much of what justifies immigration is purely ideological. For example, there is a certain argument made by certain political partisans, often, it seems, because they think it makes them sound clever, cosmopolitan and cool. It is that people of European heritage came to this continent and dominated its native peoples, so it’s merely karma if the same now happens to us. The cry is, “What about the Indians?!” Two things leap to mind here. First, how does allowing our nation to be Balkanized and to descend into tyranny help the Indians? A falling tide grounds all boats. Second, this hate-America-first position is the prattle of a child, someone having a temper tantrum and talking about how he hates mommy and will run away from home. But it’s all just theoretical. It’s easy to look forward to our 476, to Rome’s impending fall, when sitting in your warm house with a stuffed refrigerator on your equally stuffed derrière and sending your puerile Internet messages on the latest iPad. But the reality of Goths breaking down your door would shatter that fantasy world fast.
Speaking of the Indians, some have the notion that “we” (and the critics are talking about white folks here) aren’t the first Americans, anyway. But as Sitting Bull grandson Ernie LaPointe mentioned after Barack Obama cited the legendary Indian as a great American hero in his children’s book Of Thee I Sing, Sitting Bull did not consider himself an American; he was a Lakota. No doubt. Remember that “America” is of European origin — derived from Italian Amerigo Vespucci’s name — and these United States were a product of a founding document crafted by European-descent people. You can debate whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. But it is a factual thing.
Nonetheless, it is true that “we” dominated the Indians. And the Etruscans for a time dominated the Romans, who later dominated other groups on the Italian peninsula and ultimately were dominated by “barbarians” in the West and Muslims in the East. The Aztecs dominated other tribes as did Shaka Zulu in Africa. All sorts of European groups were dominated and subsumed as well, which is why you don’t hear about Goth, Frank, Lombard, Alan, Burgundian, Gaul and Frisii lobbying groups. Heck, the painfully politically correct documentary series The West pointed out that the Lakota justified their dominance of other tribes to the U.S. government by saying that they were only doing what “we” were doing. This is true. A modern-day Lakota featured in the series framed their conquest this way (I’m paraphrasing), “We were very good at what we did.” This is also true.
And the Europeans were better.
I could leave it at that, were I content to operate by the principle might makes right. But since it’s more true that right makes might, let’s delve further.
Since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” should we humans just commit mass suicide to atone for our manifold trespasses, with the West leading by example? Better virtue shorn than a goodness evil born? Sure, we shouldn’t forget that most all civilizations found their genesis in blood and conquest. And we should remember, as Genesis informs, that God brings good out of bad.
The point is that we have a civilization here, now, today, and the question is always the same: is it worth preserving? No? Then, fine, scrap it. But you’d better be sure of your judgment, not only because dead civilizations, like dead men, stay dead, but because something will take your civilization’s place. And that something will not be forged by seraphim and cherubim; it will be something very human and, though I repeat myself, very flawed.
And if the answer is yes, our civilization is worth preserving? Then you take the necessary measures to do so. And to the hate-America-first crowd you say: if death is preferable to enjoying the fruits of a painfully human past, then you lead by example and drink the hemlock. Leave the rest of us to do the work of adults.
Of course, any culture can be improved. But thinking that cultural relativists — who can’t effectively differentiate between good and evil because they’ve convinced themselves everything is gray — are equal to this task is like thinking that a dietary relativist could improve your diet. Since the latter would be blind to the laws (the truth) of human nutrition and would then have nothing but taste as a guide, he just might steer you toward junk food — and maybe worse. Those colorful berries on that bush are awfully pretty, you know.
The real lesson to be learned from North America’s second great migration (the first being the Paleoindians’ arrival approximately 20,000 years ago) is this: say what you will about the Indians, they fought the good fight. They didn’t invite millions of unassimilable foreigners into their lands, give them special privileges, and then justify it all by saying that they were just here to do jobs Indians wouldn’t do (like colonize Indians).
A discussion of immigration today is nothing less than a debate about what your nation is going to be tomorrow. Will it be relegated to the history books like the Alans, Angles, Franks, Frisii and Goths, or will it continue to write history? Is it worthy to do so? These are legitimate questions that should be tackled by legitimate thinkers, not people who hide a visceral hatred of Western civilization inside a Trojan horse proclaiming the equality of all peoples.
Secret Tape Reveals US-backed Plot to Topple Ukraine’s Democratically-Elected President…
Secret Tape Reveals US-backed Plot to Topple Ukraine’s Democratically-Elected President…
“In the latest debacle for the US State Department and the Obama Administration, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was caught on tape micro-managing Ukraine opposition party strategies with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. That the Ukraine regime-change operation is to some degree being directed from Washington can no longer be denied….The taped conversation demonstrates in clear detail that while Secretary of State John Kerry decries any foreign meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, his State Department is virtually managing the entire process.”
– Daniel McAdams, “‘F**k the EU’: Tape Reveals US Runs Ukraine Opposition“, Ron Paul Institute
Washington is at it again, up to its old tricks. You’d think that after the Afghanistan and Iraq fiascos someone on the policymaking team would tell the fantasists to dial-it-down a bit. But, no. The Obama claque is just as eager to try their hand at regime change as their predecessors, the Bushies. This time the bullseye is on Ukraine, the home of the failed Orange Revolution, where US NGOs fomented a populist coup that brought down the government and paved the way for years of social instability, economic hardship and, eventually, a stronger alliance with Moscow.
That sure worked out well, didn’t it? One can only wonder what Obama has in mind for an encore.
Let’s cut to the chase: The US still clings to the idea that it can dominate the world with its ham-fisted military (that hasn’t won a war in 60 years) its scandalized Intel agencies, its comical Rambo-style “Special Ops” teams, and its oh-so-brilliant global strategists who think the days of the nation-state will soon be over hastening the onset of the glorious New World Order. Right. Ukraine is a critical part of that pipe dream, er, strategy which is why the US media puts demonstrations in Kiev in the headlines while similar protests in the US are consigned to the back pages just below the dog food ads. In any event, the crisis is likely to intensify in the months ahead as Washington engages in a no-holds-barred tug-o-war with Moscow over the future of civilization.
For bigwig strategists, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ukraine is a war that Washington must win to maintain its position as the world’s only superpower. As he sees it, the US must establish outposts throughout Eurasia to diminish Russia’s influence, control China, and capitalize off the new century’s fastest growing region. Here’s how Brzezinski sums it up in Foreign Affairs in an article titled “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”:
“America’s emergence as the sole global superpower now makes an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia imperative…Eurasia is home to most of the world’s politically assertive and dynamic states. All the historical pretenders to global power originated in Eurasia. The world’s most populous aspirants to regional hegemony, China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the potential political or economic challengers to American primacy…
Eurasia is the world’s axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world’s three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa…
What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and historical legacy.” ( “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Foreign Affairs, 1997)
Okay, so the not-so-subtle Brzezinski is telling US policymakers that if they want to rule the world, they’ve got to take over Eurasia. That’s pretty clear. It’s the Great Game all over again and Ukraine is one of the biggest trophies, which is why the US has allied itself to all kinds crackpot, rightwing groups that are stirring up trouble in Kiev. It’s because Washington will stop at nothing to achieve its objectives. Of course, there’s nothing new about any of this. The US frequently supports violent, far-right organizations if their interests coincide. Here’s a little background on the topic from Eric Draitser in an article in CounterPunch titled “Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism”:
“In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists. Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States. The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia. And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel. There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.” (Ukraine and the rebirth of Fascism“, Eric Draitser, CounterPunch)
Death squads here, jihadis there; what difference does it make to the big shots in Washington?
Not much, apparently.
But, wait, what’s all this talk about the US being on the side of anti-Semites and fascists in Ukraine? Is that true?
It sure looks that way. In fact, there was a funny story in the World Socialist Web Site about Assistant Secretary of State Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland which shows how far these people will go to achieve their objectives. In this case, Nuland, who — according to the WSWS — is “the grand-daughter of Jewish immigrants who fled to America to escape pogroms in Tsarist Russia”…was seen “handing out cookies in Maidan square to Svoboda thugs who venerate the mass murderers of Hitler’s SS.” (“Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism“, Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Web Site)
Nice, eh? So Vickie was having a little snacktime with guys who’d probably shove a knife in her back if they were given half a chance. That’s what you call dedication. By the way, Nuland’s “husband is Robert Kagan, the right-wing foreign policy pundit who served as the founding chairman of the Project for a New American Century, the neo-conservative Washington think tank that played a key role in the political and ideological preparation for the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The fact that Obama and Co. are directly involved in this latest would-be coup, doesn’t surprise anyone. According to a recent poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center, “almost a half (45%) of Russian citizens think that protests in Ukraine have been provoked by Western special services.” By “special services” we presume the survey’s authors mean US Intel agencies and US-funded NGOs which have a long history of poking their noses in other country’s affairs. Here’s a statement by Rep Ron Paul in 2004 to the US House International Relations Committee which helps to throw a little light on the issue:
“It is clear that a significant amount of US taxpayer dollars went to support one candidate in Ukraine. …. What we do not know, however, is just how much US government money was spent to influence the outcome of the Ukrainian election.
Dozens of organizations are granted funds under the PAUCI program alone, (Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative, which is administered by the US-based Freedom House.) and this is only one of many programs that funneled dollars into Ukraine. We do not know how many millions of US taxpayer dollars the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) sent to Ukraine through NED’s National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute. Nor do we know how many other efforts, overt or covert, have been made to support one candidate over the other in Ukraine.
That is what I find so disturbing: there are so many cut-out organizations and sub-grantees that we have no idea how much US government money was really spent on Ukraine, and most importantly how it was spent.” (“What has the NED done in Ukraine?“, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell)
The fact is, the USG gives away tons of money to all types of shady groups who carry out their agenda. As far as Ukraine is concerned, we actually have a better idea of the money that’s been spent than Paul thinks. Check out this video of Nuland addressing various industry groups and admitting that, “Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government…We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals.” (“Washington’s cloned female warmongers“, Finian Cunningham, Information Clearinghouse)
5 billion smackers to topple a democratically-elected government in Ukraine while 8 million Americans still can’t find a damn job in the US. That tells you a lot about Obama’s priorities, doesn’t it?
Last week’s fiasco surrounding Nuland’s leaked phone conversation has clarified what’s really going on behind the scenes. While the media has focused on Nuland’s obscenity, (“Fuck the EU”) it’s the other parts of the conversation that grabbed our attention. Here’s a brief summary by the WSWS’s Bill Van Auken:
“The call (exposes) the criminal and imperialist character of US policy in Ukraine …What the tape makes clear, is that Washington is employing methods of international gangsterism, including violence, to effect a political coup aimed at installing a regime that is fully subordinate to US geo-strategic interests…
The precise goal of US efforts is to shift political power into the hands of a collection of Western-aligned Ukrainian oligarchs who enriched themselves off of the private appropriation—theft—of state property carried out as part of the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In doing so, it aims to turn Ukraine into a US imperialist beachhead on the very border of Russia, whose territory it also wants to divide and subjugate to neocolonial status as part of its drive to assert American hegemony throughout the strategic landmass of Eurasia…
Nuland makes clear that behind the scenes, Washington is dictating which leaders of the opposition…should enter the government to swing it behind Washington and what role the others will play…”(“Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism“, Bill Van Auken, World socialist Web Site)
Same old, same old. Like we said earlier, there’s nothing new here, nothing at all. All the blabber about “democracy” is just public relations crappola. It means nothing. US elites want to trim Moscow’s wings, set up shop in Eurasia, control China’s growth, be a bigger player in the continent’s oil and natural gas markets, export its financial services model, and make as much money as possible in the 21st century’s hottest market, Asia. It’s all about profits. Profits and power.
But then, you probably knew that already.