Kent Hovind is a creation-science evangelist and Baptist minister who has already served eight years of a ten-year prison sentence for alleged tax evasion. Kent has a master’s degree in education. He founded and operated Creation Science Evangelism and has traveled extensively presenting creation-science lectures. He has debated evolutionists in over one hundred debates across the country. Kent also operated Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, Florida. This was a very popular creation-science museum/theme park. Kent also produced scores of videos on the subject of creation-science that have circled the globe and been translated in over thirty languages. Many people affectionately refer to Kent as “Dr. Dino.” He and his wife have three children; and all three of their children (all grown) worked alongside of him in the ministry.
Kent and I were college classmates for one year in Michigan. I was a sophomore when Kent transferred to the school from Illinois. I transferred colleges after that year. Kent stayed and graduated from the college in Michigan. After graduation in 1975, my wife and I moved to Pensacola, Florida, to begin our ministerial work. Some years later, Kent and his family also moved to Pensacola. So, I’ve known Kent a long time.
Kent considered his ministry a church and the people who worked for him as missionaries. He did not incorporate under the 501c3 non-profit organization status. Of course, the Internal Revenue Code states that churches are not required to do so; that, as a church, they automatically have tax-exempt status. Accordingly, Kent believed his ministry was tax-exempt.
Nevertheless, in 2004, IRS agents raided Kent’s home and ultimately brought multiple counts of tax-evasion-type charges, including “structuring,” against him. “Structuring” means deliberately making cash deposits or withdrawals of just under the supposed reporting level of ten thousand dollars. (Egad! God forbid that the IRS not know the details of our banking transactions.) In 2006, Kent went to trial and was convicted on all counts and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. He has been there ever since.
But now the story gets bizarre. Federal prosecutors are currently bringing charges of mail fraud against Kent for using the mail system from inside prison to challenge the lien that the IRS placed upon his property. And, are you ready for this? They want Kent to serve an additional twenty to one hundred years in prison. Obviously, even if he received twenty years, this amounts to a life sentence.
See this report:
By contrast, the Rev. Al Sharpton is reported to owe nearly $1.5 million in overdue taxes and penalties from many years ago. But our federal government doesn’t put Mr. Sharpton in the Big House; it invites him to the White House instead.
See the report here:
Regardless of where one comes down on the whole tax-exempt status issue for churches and non-profit organizations, here is a very relevant fact: the average time spent behind bars for tax “crimes” is between two to five years. For instance, Pete Rose served five months; Chuck Berry served four months; Aldo Gucci served one year; Sun Myung Moon served eighteen months; and Leona Helmsley served four years. Kent has already served much more time than any of those people did.
To help put it in perspective even further, the infamous Chicago gangster, Al Capone, was released after eight years in prison. And, as everyone knows, the only reason the government put him prison for tax evasion was because they couldn’t obtain the evidence they needed to convict him of murder, racketeering, bribery, etc. Yet, our federal government wants to keep a Christian minister–who never committed an act of violence against anyone–in prison for the rest of his natural life. In truth, there are thousands of people who have been convicted of some form of homicide who have not spent as many years in prison as Kent has already.
Back in 2001, restaurant owner, fisherman, and ship builder, Frank Patti (also of Pensacola, Florida) was indicted on 24 counts of tax evasion of more than $12 million. He was sentenced to 79 months in prison and released after serving but 39 months. Kent has already served almost 100 months.
After witnessing the Frank Patti case, I wrote this in 2002: “The prospect of local businessman Frank Patti spending 8 years in federal prison for tax evasion causes me to once again reflect upon the justness of throwing people in jail for nonviolent crimes.
“I believe it is past time for America to examine its practice of locking people up for nonviolent crimes. Even though the United States is far from being the most populous country in the world, we incarcerate more people than any other nation. According to recent reports, there are more than two million people behind bars in U.S. jails and prisons [now the number exceeds six million]. Many of these people are there for crimes in which no one was physically injured or killed and, therefore, pose little or no threat to society.
“Furthermore, it seems that this infatuation with locking people up serves more the interests of ever-burgeoning government bureaucracies than the interests of justice. A breadwinner behind bars means more welfare, more food stamps, and more dependence upon government, not to mention more government jobs, of course.
“With the federal government increasingly encroaching into the area of crime and punishment and with an exploding number of new laws continually being created, more and more people are losing their freedom over crimes that have more to do with offending the powers of government than injuring the lives of innocent people. Such a system hardly promotes justice.”
These comments do not even take into account the question as to whether refusing to pay personal income taxes to Uncle Sam should even be regarded as a crime at all. The income tax was initially sold to the American people as being a “voluntary” tax, remember? Regardless, the federal government treats the income tax as obligatory and most jurors have the attitude, “If I have to pay taxes, so does this defendant,” which is why most juries never acquit folks charged with tax evasion.
In Kent’s case, the argument was that his ministry was a church and as such should have been automatically tax exempt.
What Kent’s case does show is that the IRS can make its own decisions as to who and what owes taxes, the 501c3 non-profit organization status for churches notwithstanding. Charges of tax evasion are very subjective to the whims of the IRS–as Al Sharpton proves. And let’s not forget the Lois Lerner version of selective tax enforcement that targeted conservative organizations. And there is nothing new about that. The federal government has been using the IRS to intimidate or silence individuals or groups it does not like for many, many years under both Republican and Democrat administrations.
While I will not elaborate on this issue here (I’ve done so many times already in this column), this is just another example of the danger of the 501c3 tax exempt status for churches. With the way the IRS can subjectively interpret and enforce the tax code with impunity, a church or so-called non-profit organization that accepts tax-exempt status, can literally be “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” It’s mostly to do with politics. Remember, it is the IRS–NOT THE CHURCH–that ultimately defines whether an organization is qualified to be tax-exempt. What the Internal Revenue Code stipulates about churches being automatically tax-exempt means NOTHING to the IRS. You must remember that!
In the case of Kent Hovind, one has to wonder if he is actually being treated as a political prisoner. A life sentence for tax evasion? Whoever heard of such a thing?
Then again, I am reminded of the way our government treated former Idaho Congressman George Hansen. His book “To Harass Our People” (about the IRS) should be regarded as a must-read for every lover of liberty. Then, after you read the book, find out how our federal government railroaded him into a prison sentence and how it mercilessly tortured him afterward. It will make your hair stand on end.
Then, after reading what our federal government did to one of its own congressmen, try to convince yourself that our federal government would NOT do almost anything to anyone. And if this is true for American citizens (and it is) imagine how our federal government (CIA, military Dark Ops, etc.) treats foreign governments–even those it once befriended. Come on, folks. Turn off FOX News long enough to start thinking for yourself a little bit.
If you would like to sound off regarding the obvious injustice being committed against Kent Hovind, there is a website set up for that purpose. See it here:
If enough people rally to Kent’s defense, the IRS might rethink its attempt to keep him in prison for the rest of his life. Like most dark forces, the IRS loves darkness and hates light. Whether you think Kent is guilty or not, eight years is enough! Please help spread a little light for Kent Hovind.
You’re not paranoid if you think the world feels more unstable — it is. There’s a dangerous confluence of political, economic, and military phenomena that is producing a very hazardous international situation. Heightened national tensions that lead to regional confrontations have become normal as economic and political winds constantly shift in the direction of instability and conflict.
At the center of each maelstrom is the U.S. Government, and instead of acting as a promoter of peace and stability the Obama administration has been a catalyst of confrontation and war.
Whether it be the Middle East, Asia, Russia’s border, or the world economy, the actions of the Obama administration have leaned towards various forms of provocation and aggression — economic sanctions, threats, funneling arms, etc. This dynamic makes an eventual regional conflict inevitable, beyond the one already occurring in Syria/Iraq, where a U.S.-led proxy war against Syria and Iran is dangerously close to a full-out regional war.
The U.S. public is dangerously ignorant about the significance of these various regional conflicts. To the extent that they’re even reported, the “news” has excelled at blaming others and sharpening conflict, rather than shedding light or presenting peaceful alternatives.
An especially combustible zone is the Ukraine, where the U.S. is engaged in what is becoming a full-fledged proxy war with Russia. The Obama administration’s decisive role in the Ukrainian conflict has received only a sliver of space from the U.S. media, even after an audio of Obama’s Under Secretary of State was leaked, exposing the U.S.’ direct leadership role in a coup that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
Obama’s allied boots on the ground in the Ukrainian coup were open fascists — the Svoboda and “Right Sector” — whose ideological hero, Stepan Bandera, was one of Hitler’s most reliable fascist allies during World War II.
The Obama administration has given crucial military and economic support to the anti-Russian Ukrainian government, and provided this fascist-friendly government with various forms of military assistance, and now is considering giving more “lethal” military aid to a government that cemented its coup power via questionable elections during the start of a civil war.
Former USSR president and media darling, Mikhail Gorbachev, is now disregarded by the U.S. media, since his words no longer promote U.S. foreign policy objectives. Gorbachev recently said:
“If we call a spade a spade, America has pulled us into a new cold war, trying to openly implement its general idea of triumphalism. Where will it take us all? The [new] cold war is already on. What’s next? Unfortunately, I cannot say firmly that the cold war will not lead to the hot one. I’m afraid that they might take the risk.”
This “new cold war” is warming quickly, since the U.S.-Russian proxy war in Ukraine shares a large chunk of Russia’s border, and like all wars borders are ignored when convenient. Gorbachev fears that the 5,000 dead Ukrainians and 1.5 million refugees may just be the detonator for a larger war between two fully nuclear countries. Meanwhile, the U.S. media completely ignores this very real threat, giving valuable political cover to Obama’s reckless actions.
Equally crazy is Obama’s longstanding policy in the Middle East, where his “no troops on the ground” mantra has led to non-stop drone bombing and a massive proxy war in Syria, which every nation in the region has directly contributed to. The 200,000 dead and millions of refugees have boiled political tensions across the region, and Obama’s dedication to regime change in Syria is partially due to his dedication to the two biggest pariah nations in the world — Saudi Arabia and Israel.
When Israel recently bombed Syria again — a now regular occurrence — an Iranian general and Hezbollah leader were killed in the attack, which was labeled an assassination. Soon after, it was finally revealed that in 2008 the U.S. and Israel organized a terrorist attack in Lebanon that killed a Hezbollah leader. Both events push the Syrian conflict to the tipping point of regional war, and Obama’s silence over Israel’s repeated bombings against Syria only encourage an extremely dangerous regional conflagration.
Equally reckless is that Obama’s Syrian proxy war relied on thousands of Islamic extremists from neighboring countries. Obama’s funding, training, and tolerating these extremists created the ideal conditions for a group like ISIS to rise from obscurity into a regional colossus.
To date the Obama administration has proposed no peace plan for Syria outside of “regime change.” When the Russian government recently organized a major peace conference to address the Syrian war, the U.S.-led Syrian National Coalition boycotted the talks, and Obama put no public pressure on his allies to attend, when he should have been publicly demanding it. Once the peace conference started neither Obama nor the U.S. media cared much to talk about the happenings, since continued fighting is the priority.
One shouldn’t forget Obama’s Africa policies, where his “successful” bombing campaign-turned regime change in Libya has ruined a country that previously had the highest standard of living on the continent. After Obama waged an illegal, aggressive war and assassinated the Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, Hillary Clinton said — while giggling — “we came, we saw, he died.”
Libya’s weapons were looted and are now, according to the U.N., being funneled throughout the Middle East and Africa, destabilizing neighboring countries and empowering the Islamic extremists that Obama allied with against Gaddafi (similar to the ones he allied with against Syria’s president).
When it comes to the global economy Obama has been launching financial weapons of mass destruction against his enemies. The economic sanctions against Iran, Russia, N. Korea, Venezuela, Syria, etc., are of course an act of war. This kind of war is described in the book, “Treasury’s War,” by former Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Juan Zarate, who glamorizes this “new” form of war that the U.S. has a monopoly over, given the U.S. dollar’s preeminence as the global reserve currency.
Another lethal non-military weapon Obama has recklessly used is his helping crash the price of oil. The U.S. media publicly discussed the anti-Russian motive behind Obama intervening in the oil markets, by selling the “strategic oil reserves” held by the U.S. government — intended to be used at times of severe shortages. But Obama started unloading the strategic reserves at a time when there was already increasing global supply. The oil price floor fell out when Obama persuaded Saudi Arabia to ramp up production, flooding the market with cheap oil.
And whereas the Obama administration has kept mum about the Saudi’s accomplice role in crashing the oil market, the Saudis themselves have been pretty open about using their oil weapon, which they’re using to force Russia to drop support for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The New York Times reported:
“Saudi Arabia has been trying to pressure President Vladimir Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using its dominance of the global oil markets at a time when the Russian government is reeling from the effects of plummeting oil prices.”
Russia’s economy is consequently in free fall, with Iran, Venezuela and every other oil-producing nation suffering massive economic consequences. All of this is barely mentioned in the complicit U.S. media, content with shrugging its shoulders over the subsequent political chaos that directly affects hundreds of millions of people globally, and threatens to boomerang back on the U.S. in the form of unemployment and economic disruption.
All of the above policies have directly created havoc internationally. And today’s world is more inter-connected than ever; the chaos in the oil markets has already caused layoffs in the U.S., and threatens a larger economic conflagration. Obama’s policies in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan have greatly increased the likelihood of another terror attack in the U.S.
In a world of increasing danger and threats of war, the Obama administration has been completely unable to champion any serious peace proposal. His main contribution to global affairs has been chaos and death — either by proxy (Syria and Ukraine), drones (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc.) dollars, gun trafficking, sanctions, or direct military intervention (Afghanistan and Libya).
Even the pathetic “peace process” Obama faked with Israel-Palestine was revealed as farce the second Israel decided to re-destroy the Gaza Strip: Obama gave crucial support to Israel in committing its numerous war crimes.
Obama is aided and abetted in his reckless actions by a media that cheer-leads the government’s every move, except when it encourages a more “aggressive” approach. In this way the above realities of U.S. foreign policy — and the very real dangers they present — are completely obscured from the American public. And when the next inevitable military combustion occurs, the public may be disorientated just long enough to fall victim to scapegoating and fear mongering that can lead to a bi-partisan military “solution.”
If This Doesn’t Make You Mad…
Why is the Fed threatening to raise interest rates when the economy is still in the doldrums? Is it because they want to avoid further asset-price inflation, prevent the economy from overheating, or is it something else altogether? Take a look at the chart below and you’ll see why the Fed might want to raise rates prematurely. It all has to do with the sharp decline in petrodollars that are no longer recycling into US financial assets. This is from Reuters:
“Energy-exporting countries are set to pull their ‘petrodollars’ out of world markets this year for the first time in almost two decades, according to a study by BNP Paribas. Driven by this year’s drop in oil prices, the shift is likely to cause global market liquidity to fall, the study showed…
This decline follows years of windfalls for oil exporters such as Russia, Angola, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Much of that money found its way into financial markets, helping to boost asset prices and keep the cost of borrowing down, through so-called petrodollar recycling.
This year, however, the oil producers will effectively import capital amounting to $7.6 billion. By comparison, they exported $60 billion in 2013 and $248 billion in 2012, according to the following graphic based on BNP Paribas calculations:
‘At its peak, about $500 billion a year was being recycled back into financial markets. This will be the first year in a long time that energy exporters will be sucking capital out,’ said David Spegel, global head of emerging market sovereign and corporate Research at BNP.
In other words, oil exporters are now pulling liquidity out of financial markets rather than putting money in. That could result in higher borrowing costs for governments, companies, and ultimately, consumers as money becomes scarcer.” (Petrodollars leave world markets for first time in 18 years – BNP, Reuters)
Can you see what’s going on?
Now that petrodollar funding has dried up, the Fed needs to find an alternate source of capital to keep the markets bubbly and to shore up the greenback. That’s why the Fed has been talking up the dollar (“jawboning”) and promising to raise rates even though the economy is still pushing up daisies. According to the Fed’s favorite mouthpiece, Jon Hilsenrath:
“Federal Reserve officials are on track to start raising short-term interest rates later this year, even though long-term rates are going in the other direction amid new investor worries about weak global growth, falling oil prices and slowing consumer price inflation…
Many Fed officials have signaled they expect to start lifting their benchmark short-term rate from near zero around the middle of the year. Recent developments in the economy and markets have caused some trepidation among Fed officials and, if sustained, could cause them to delay acting. However several have indicated recently they still expect to move this year and are withholding judgment on delay.” (Fed Officials on Track to Raise Short-Term Rates Later in the Year, Jon Hilsenrath, Wall Street Journal)
And we’re hearing the same from Reuters: “The Federal Reserve is still on track for a potential mid-year interest-rate increase, a top Fed official said on Friday, citing strong U.S. economic momentum and a falling unemployment rate.”
Notice the sudden change in tone from dovish to hawkish? Expect that to intensify in the months ahead as the major media tries to spin the data in a way that serves the Fed’s broader objectives. Like this article in Bloomberg titled, “Yellen Signals She Won’t Babysit Markets in Turmoil”:
“Janet Yellen is leaving the Greenspan ‘put”’behind as she charts the first interest-rate increase since 2006 amid growing financial-market volatility.
The Federal Reserve chair has signaled she wants to place the economic outlook at the center of policy making, while looking past short-term market fluctuations. To succeed, she must wean investors from the notion, which gained currency under predecessor Alan Greenspan, that the Fed will bail them out if their bets go bad — just as a put option protects against a drop in stock prices.
“The succession of Fed puts over the years has led to a wide range of distortions in financial markets,” said Lawrence Goodman, president of the Center for Financial Stability, a monetary research group in New York. “There have been swollen asset values followed by sharp declines. This is a very good time for the Fed to move away.
“Let me be clear, there is no Fed equity market put,” William C. Dudley, president of the New York Fed, the central bank’s watchdog on financial markets, said in a Dec. 1 speech in New York.” (She’s No Greenspan: Yellen Signals She Won’t Babysit Markets in Turmoil)
“There’s no Fed equity put”?
That’s ridiculous. Then how does one explain the way the Fed has launched additional rounds of QE every time stocks have started to sputter? And how does one explain the Fed’s $4 trillion balance sheet all of which was spent on financial assets?
Let’s face it, Central bank intervention has been the only game in town. It’s not just the main driver of stocks. It’s the only driver of stocks. Everyone knows that. Yellen is going to do everything in her power to keep stocks in the stratosphere just like her predecessors, Greenspan and Bernanke. The only that’s going to change, is her approach.
As for the economy, well, just a glance of the headlines tells the whole story. Like this gem from CNBC last week:
“U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest decline in six years in December and underlying inflation pressures were benign,…The Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index fell 0.4 percent last month, the largest drop since December 2008, after sliding 0.3 percent in November. In the 12 months through December, CPI increased 0.8 percent…
Darkening prospects for the global economy could also complicate matters for the U.S. central bank.
Inflation is running below the Fed’s 2 percent target, despite a strengthening labor market and overall economy.” (Consumer Price Index drops 0.4% in December, in line with estimates, CNBC)
Think about that for a minute: Consumer prices just logged their biggest drop since the freaking slump of 2008 and, yet, the Fed is still babbling about raising rates.
Talk about lunacy. Not only has the Fed not reached its inflation target of 2%, but it’s abandoned the project altogether. Why? Why has the Fed suddenly stopped trying to boost inflation when the yields on benchmark 10-year US Treasuries have just plunged to record lows (1.70%) and are blinking red? In other words, the bond market is signaling slow growth and zero inflation for as far as the eye can see, but the Fed wants to raise rates and slash growth even more?? It doesn’t make any sense, unless of course, Yellen has something else up her sleeve. Which she does.
Now get a load of this shocker on retail sales in last week’s news. This is from Bloomberg:
“The optimism surrounding the outlook for U.S. consumers was taken down a notch as retail sales slumped in December by the most in almost a year, prompting some economists to lower spending and growth forecasts.
The 0.9 percent decline in purchases …. extended beyond any single group as receipts fell in nine of 13 major retail categories.
Treasury yields and stocks fell as a deepening commodities rout and the drop in sales spurred concern global growth is slowing…
…average hourly earnings falling 0.2 percent in December from the month before in the first drop since late 2012. That limits the amount of spending consumers can undertake without dipping into savings or racking up debt.” (U.S. Retail Sales Down Sharply, Likely Cuts to Growth Forecasts Ahead, Bloomberg)
Remember when everyone thought that low oil prices were going to save the economy? It hasn’t worked out that way though, has it? Nor will it. Falling oil prices usually indicate recession, crisis or deflation. Take your pick. They’re usually not a sign of green shoots, escape velocity, or sunny uplands.
And did you catch that part about falling wages? How do you expand a consumer-dependent economy, when workers are seeing their wages shrivel every month? In case, you haven’t seen the abysmal stagnation of wages in graph-form, here’s a chart from American Progress:
Negative real wage growth means the amount of slack in the market is still considerable.
So while stock prices have doubled or tripled in the last 6 years, wages have basically been flatlining. That’s a pretty crummy distribution system, don’t you think. Unless you’re in the 1 percent of course, then everything is just hunky dory.
But at least Yellen can find some comfort in the fact that unemployment continues to improve. In fact, just two weeks ago unemployment dropped to an impressive 5.4%, the lowest since 2007. So if we forget about the fact that wages are stagnating, that management has nabbed all the productivity-gains for the last 40 years, and that another 451,000 workers dropped off the radar altogether in December, then everything looks pretty rosy. But, of course, it’s all just a bunch of baloney. Take a look at this from Zero Hedge:
“Another month, another attempt by the BLS to mask the collapse in the US labor force with a seasonally-adjusted surge in waiter, bartender and other low-paying jobs. Case in point… the labor participation rate just slid once more, dropping to 62.7%, or the lowest print since December 1977. This happened because the number of Americans not in the labor forced soared by 451,000 in December, far outpacing the 111,000 jobs added according to the Household Survey, and is the primary reason why the number of uenmployed Americans dropped by 383,000.
So, yeah, unemployment looks great until you pick through the data and see it’s all a big fraud. Unemployment is only falling because more and more people are throwing in the towel and giving up entirely.
Finally, there’s the rapidly-expanding mess in the oil patch where the news on layoffs and cut backs gets worse by the day. This is from Wolf Richter at Naked Capitalism:
“Layoffs are cascading through the oil and gas sector. On Tuesday, the Dallas Fed projected that in Texas alone, 140,000 jobs could be eliminated. Halliburton said that it was axing an undisclosed number of people in Houston. Suncor Energy, Canada’s largest oil producer, will dump 1,000 workers in its tar-sands projects. Helmerich & Payne is idling rigs and cutting jobs. Smaller companies are slashing projects and jobs at an even faster pace. And now Slumberger, the world’s biggest oilfield-services company, will cut 9,000 jobs.” (Money dries up for oil and gas, layoffs spread, write-offs start, Wolf Richter, Naked Capitalism)
And then there’s this tidbit from Pam Martens at Wall Street on Parade:
“In a December 15 article by Patrick Jenkins in the Financial Times, readers learned that data from Barclays indicated that “energy bonds now make up nearly 16 per cent of the $1.3 trillion junk bond market — more than three times their proportion 10 years ago,” and “Nearly 45 per cent of this year’s non-investment grade syndicated loans have been in oil and gas.” Raising further alarms, AllianceBernstein has released research suggesting that the deals were not fully subscribed by investors with the potential that “as much as half of the outstanding financing from the past couple of years may be stuck on banks’ books.” (The perfect storm for Wall Street banks, Russ and Pam Martens, Wall Street on Parade)
How do you like that? So nearly half the toxic energy-related gunk that was bundled up into dodgy junk bonds (and is likely to default in the near future) is sitting on bank balance sheets. Does that sound like a potential trigger for another financial crisis or what?
And, no, I am not trying to ignore the fact that third quarter GDP came in at a whopping 5 percent which vastly exceeded all the analysts estimates. But let’s put that into perspective. According to economist Dean Baker, the growth spurt was mainly “an anomaly” …”driven by extraordinary jump in military spending and a big fall in the size of the trade deficit that is unlikely to be repeated.” Here’s more from Baker:
“As usual, just about everything we’ve heard about the economy is wrong. To start, the 5.0 percent growth number must be understood against a darker backdrop: The economy actually shrank at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter. If we take the first three quarters of the year together, the average growth rate was a more modest 2.5 percent.” (Don’t Believe What You Hear About the US Economy, Dean Baker, CEPR)
So, the economy is growing at a crummy 2.5 percent, but Yellen wants to raise rates. Why? Does she want to shave that number to 2 percent or 1.5 percent? Is that it? She wants to go backwards?
Of course not. The real reason the Fed wants to raise rates, is to attract foreign capital to US markets in order to keep stocks soaring, keep borrowing costs low, and reinforce the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency. That’s what’s really going on. The petrodollars are drying up, so US markets need a new source of funding. Direct foreign investment, that’s the ticket, Ducky. All the Fed needs to do is boost rates by, let’s say, 0.5 percent and “Cha-ching”, here comes the capital. Works like a charm every time, just ask former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin whose strong dollar policy sent stock prices into orbit while widening the nation’s current account deficit by many orders of magnitude. (We never said the plan didn’t have its downside.)
The Fed’s sinister plan to raise interest rates (sometime by mid-2015) will push the dollar’s exchange rate higher thus triggering capital flight in the emerging markets which are already struggling with plunging commodities prices and an excruciating slowdown. The investment flows from the EMs to US financial assets and Treasuries will offset the loss of petrodollar revenue while expanding Wall Street’s ginormous stock market bubble. As for the emerging markets, well, they’re going to take it in the shorts bigtime as one would expect. Here’s a clip from an article by Ambrose-Evans Pritchard that lays it out in black and white:
“The US Federal Reserve has pulled the trigger. Emerging markets must now brace for their ordeal by fire. They have collectively borrowed $5.7 trillion in US dollars, a currency they cannot print and do not control. This hard-currency debt has tripled in a decade, split between $3.1 trillion in bank loans and $2.6 trillion in bonds. It is comparable in scale and ratio-terms to any of the biggest cross-border lending sprees of the past two centuries…
Officials from the Bank for International Settlements say privately that developing countries may be just as vulnerable to a dollar shock as they were in the Fed tightening cycle of the late 1990s, which culminated in Russia’s default and the East Asia Crisis. The difference this time is that emerging markets have grown to be half the world economy. Their aggregate debt levels have reached a record 175pc of GDP, up 30 percentage points since 2009…”
This time the threat does not come from insolvent states. They have learned the lesson of the late 1990s. Few have dollar debts. But their companies and banks most certainly do, some 70pc of GDP in Russia, for example. This amounts to much the same thing in macro-economic terms. ” (Fed calls time on $5.7 trillion of emerging market dollar debt, Ambrose-Evans Pritchard, Telegraph)
The Fed has been through this drill so many times before they could do it in their sleep. (” U.S. interest-rate hikes in 1980s and 1990s played a role in financial crises across Latin America and East Asia.” Foreign Policy Magazine) They’ve learned how to profit off every crisis, particularly the one’s that they themselves create, which is just about all of them. In this case, most of the loans to foreign businesses and banks were denominated in dollars. So, now that the dollar is soaring, (“The dollar’s value has risen about 15 percent relative to the euro and the yen just since the summer.” NPR) the debts are going to balloon accordingly (in real terms) which is going to push a lot of businesses off a cliff forcing sovereigns to step in and provide emergency bailouts.
Did someone say “looming financial crisis”?
Indeed. Bernanke’s “easy money” has inflated bubbles across the planet. Now these bubbles are about to burst due to the strong dollar and anticipated higher rates. At the same time, the policy-switch will send hundreds of billions of foreign capital flooding into US markets pushing stocks and bonds through the roof while generating mega-profits for JPM, G-Sax and the rest of the Wall Street gang. All according to plan.
Naturally, the stronger dollar will weigh heavily on employment and exports as foreign imports become cheaper and more attractive to US consumers. That will reduce hiring at home. Also the current account deficit will widen significantly, meaning that the US will again be consuming much more than it produces. (This took place under Rubin, too.) But here’s what’s interesting about that: According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis: “Our current account deficit has narrowed sharply since the crisis…The U.S. current account deficit now stands at 2.5 percent of GDP, down from more than 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005.” (BEA)
Great. In other words, Obama’s obsessive fiscal belt-tightening lowered the deficits enough so that Wall Street can “party on” for the foreseeable future, ignoring the gigantic bubbles they’re inflating or the emerging market economies that are about to be decimated in this latest dollar swindle.
If that doesn’t make you mad, I don’t know what will.
That America is spiraling on a collision course with calamity seems certain. We seem to be ignoring virtually all of the lessons of history, and, well, you know what one fellow said about the folly of doing that. I join the consensus of patriots and freedom-lovers throughout the country who believe America’s future is filled with all sorts of stormy weather. As a matter of fact, the storms are all around us already.
For one thing, most of the people who should be helping us in the freedom fight cannot see past the end of their ballot. They think, as long as they elect “conservatives” to public office, all is well with the world. And since the GOP now controls both houses of Congress in Washington, D.C., the vast majority of our good brothers and sisters are already all tucked in for extended hibernation. They will reemerge from under their blankets about three months before the general election in 2016 and start screaming their support for whomever the neocon candidate happens to be. Why, they are already ignoring the fact that the precious Republicans they just elected to the House and Senate a few weeks ago are already signaling that they will to do NOTHING to thwart Barack Obama’s executive amnesty, which was the single most defining issue that helped give the Congress to the GOP. Republicans on Capitol Hill are famous for doing NOTHING to fulfill the promises they made on the campaign trail to their constituents. And Republican voters are famous for reelecting them anyway. Good grief! Republicans in South Carolina can’t even get rid of Lindsey Graham; and Republicans in Arizona can’t even get rid of John McCain.
Even the great Republican “conservative,” Mitt Romney, is now on record saying that the GOP should “swallow hard” and pass a PERMANENT amnesty bill. And even though he says he is not running for President in two years, he continues to be the frontrunner in most of the GOP preference polls. What does that tell you?
See the report here:
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann had the guts to tell the truth about what the GOP plans to do regarding Obama’s blatantly illegal executive amnesty decision. Bachmann told Breitbart.com that House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP leadership have “no intention” of resisting Obama’s executive amnesty. And she is right.
See the report here:
Staunch anti-amnesty senator, Jeff Sessions, said this past Tuesday that the GOP House was about to break their 2014 campaign promises to stop Obama’s executive amnesty. Also on Tuesday, Breitbart.com reported that House Speaker Boehner appears ready to deal with Democrats in order to cut a deal to SAVE amnesty. See the report here:
Oh, we can expect Boehner and Company to blow a lot of smoke and pass some frivolous and toothless legislation or resolutions that will be designed to placate a gullible and naïve Republican constituency, but that will do absolutely NOTHING to stop Obama’s amnesty. The only thing John Boehner and his ilk in Congress don’t like is Obama beat them to the punch by issuing executive amnesty to illegals. GOP leaders were hoping to pass legislative amnesty. So, now that Obama has beaten them to the punch, Boehner and his fellow establishment Republicans will quickly fall in line.
But what the U.S. House of Representatives ought to do (if they had any guts, which they don’t) is impeach this President for his executive amnesty.
Barack Obama’s executive amnesty is the worst kind of abuse of power and illegal conduct. The President of the United States is charged with “executing” the laws of our country. He has no lawful authority to set those laws aside with an Executive Order, which is exactly what he did. Compared to the crimes of Barack Obama, the impeachment charges against Bill Clinton look pale. Then again, compared to the Congress of 1994, this Congress looks pale.
The effect of our government’s refusal to respect our nation’s borders and laws over the next several years will be devastating consequences to the very fiber and fabric of this once great republic. The toll on State and local budgets, education quality, crime rates, employment opportunities, and quality of life will be incalculable. And this is just one menace that the miscreants in Washington, D.C., are inflicting upon us.
For much of the Twentieth Century (and now into the Twenty-First Century), Americans repeatedly choose to elect irresponsible, power-hungry, egotistical, self-centered sycophants (from both major parties) to public office. In addition, most of our churches are little more than glorified social clubs, entertainment centers, playgrounds, and government corporations. Our major media, in both the national and most local markets, are largely government propaganda outlets–as are most of our educational institutions. Furthermore, Christians and unbelievers, pastors of all stripes, Republicans and Democrats, and conservatives and liberals alike, are sitting back passively and indifferently as our country is being turned into a humongous Police State. Absent a significant shift in the hearts and minds of the American people, our liberties cannot long endure.
However, with all of the above said, I still refuse to join the ranks of Chicken Little.
For some reason, known only to God, we still have a semblance of freedom in this land. Granted, it’s only a semblance, but the curtain has not yet fully fallen on liberty. God knows we don’t deserve even the semblance of freedom that we still enjoy. Over the last sixty-plus years, we have been doing our best to throw America into the garbage heap of history. But, for some reason, the curtain has not yet fallen completely.
I would like to proffer five suggestions as to why the curtain has not yet fallen on liberty.
1. I believe God is still honoring the faith, courage, commitment, and sacrifice of America’s Founding Fathers. If God would bless Old Testament Israel for the sake of Abraham, Moses, and David, I believe He would bless the United States for the sake of George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Samuel Adams.
From the days of the Pilgrims through the days of the Patriots, several generations of men and women were willing to pay, many times, a horrific price for liberty. There is no doubt in my mind that these modern generations of Americans are still clipping the coupons from the extraordinary faith and courage of our forebears.
2. More than one hundred million American citizens possess over three hundred million firearms. And a good percentage of these people not only possess a gun; they possess the mental, emotional, and spiritual resolve to use those weapons against any government that would seek to take them. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the deeply-rooted heritage of the American people to keep and bear arms has been largely responsible for the preservation of whatever liberties we have left. Without a heavily-armed populace within this country, there is absolutely no doubt that America (and the rest of the “free world”) would have been totally enslaved decades ago.
3. The Internet. For all of the baloney, malarkey, and rubbish that can be found on the Internet, there is absolutely no question that the Internet has very successfully circumvented and shattered the monopoly of the government shills of the mainstream media. For all intents and purposes, the Internet is to America today what the “Committees of Correspondence” were to Colonial America.
Many are even predicting that the major television news networks will be out of business within the next couple or three decades–as will many of America’s newspapers. CNN was once a cable dynasty; now it is barely broadcasting. MSNBC’s ratings are so poor that its days are also numbered. And while FOX NEWS is currently enjoying the zenith of its existence, more people are getting their news and newsworthy information from the Internet than from all of the above combined. For all of its negatives, the Internet is a huge net positive for freedom.
4. There is still a host, and I mean a huge host, of liberty-loving people in this country who have not (and will never) accept the shackles of tyranny around their hearts. Big-Government toadies can impugn them all they want, but people such as Ron Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Senator Mike Lee, Congressman Justin Amash, and millions like them, are keeping the torch of liberty burning.
The media would have us believe that old-fashioned, red-blooded freedomists have gone the way of the Brontosaurus. Or, that if any do yet exist, their numbers are so small as to be placed on the list of endangered species. Don’t you believe it!
In every occupation and vocation–including in our U.S. military and federal police agencies–in virtually every village and hamlet dotted across the fruited plain, and in every age bracket, reside innumerable freedom-loving Americans in whose hearts the love of liberty reigns. Before the chains of tyranny can be placed around a person’s neck, they must first be placed around their hearts. And the people I’m talking about will NEVER allow those chains to be placed around their hearts.
5. I believe the curtain has not completely dropped on liberty in this country because of the grace and sovereignty of our Creator-God. Thomas Jefferson (himself an unbeliever in the traditional sense) was exactly right when he said that liberty is the gift of God. That we still enjoy a semblance of freedom in this land indicates that His divine protection still rests upon us.
Those of us who have a Christian perspective realize that Holy Writ tells us: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) This means that the deeply-seeded love of liberty in our hearts was planted there by our Creator. Our WILL for liberty is God-breathed. That fact, by itself, demonstrates that it’s not over.
There is a line from the 2012 version of the movie “Red Dawn” that I really love. A U.S. Marine fighting with the “Wolverines,” said, “I’m still breathing, so, it’s not over.” Indeed. You and are still breathing, folks, so, IT’S NOT OVER.
“It’s not the underlying economics that’s driving things, it’s central bank liquidity.”
— Matt King, Citigroup
Soaring auto sales are not so much a sign of a strong economy as they are an indication of financial hanky-panky. We saw this same type of fakery play out in housing between 2004 – 2006, when prices went through the roof due to a mortgage-lending scam (“subprime”) that crashed the stock market and sent the economy reeling. Now the bigtime money guys are at it again, writing up auto loans for anyone who can sit upright in a chair and scribble an “X” on the dotted line. As a result, car sales have surged to over 16 million for the last 6 months. (A full 7 million more than the low point in January, 2009.) And it’s not hard to see why either. The finance gurus are packaging these sketchy subprimes into bonds, offloading them on eager investors, and recycling the profits into more crappy loans. It’s a perfect circle and it won’t end until the loans start blowing up, jittery investors head for the exits, and Uncle Sugar rides to the rescue with more bailouts.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First take a look at these charts by House of Debt which shows the disparity between auto spending and other types of spending since the end of the slump in 2009.
House of Debt: “New auto purchases have driven the consumer spending recovery to a large degree. The chart below shows the spending recovery for new auto sales and for all other retail spending…
From 2009 to 2013, spending on new autos increased by 40% in nominal terms. All other spending increased by only 20%. Further, excluding autos, 2013 saw lower growth in nominal retail spending than 2012…
The concern is that a lot of auto purchases are being fueled with debt, given a strong recovery in the auto loan market. Below is the net flow of auto loans from 2002 to 2013. It is a net flow because it includes pay downs in addition to new originations. As it shows, auto lending in 2012 and 2013 tops any other year during the previous expansion from 2002 to 2007 (although it is still below the amount of new auto loans in 2000 and 2001).
(“Another Debt-Fueled Spending Spree?” House of Debt)
How about that? So there’s a bigger debt bubble in auto loans today than there was before the bust. But why? Is it because demand is strong, jobs are plentiful, wages are rising, the economy is growing, and people are optimistic about the future?
Heck, no. It’s because rates are low, credit is easy, and dealers are ready to put anyone with a license and a heartbeat into a brand-spanking new car no questions asked. Here are the details from an article in the New York Times titled “In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates” by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery:
”Auto loans to people with tarnished credit have risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, with roughly one in four new auto loans last year going to borrowers considered subprime — people with credit scores at or below 640.
The explosive growth is being driven by some of the same dynamics that were at work in subprime mortgages. A wave of money is pouring into subprime autos, as the high rates and steady profits of the loans attract investors. Just as Wall Street stoked the boom in mortgages, some of the nation’s biggest banks and private equity firms are feeding the growth in subprime auto loans by investing in lenders and making money available for loans.
And, like subprime mortgages before the financial crisis, many subprime auto loans are bundled into complex bonds and sold as securities by banks to insurance companies, mutual funds and public pension funds — a process that creates ever-greater demand for loans.
The New York Times examined more than 100 bankruptcy court cases, dozens of civil lawsuits against lenders and hundreds of loan documents and found that subprime auto loans can come with interest rates that can exceed 23 percent. The loans were typically at least twice the size of the value of the used cars purchased, including dozens of battered vehicles with mechanical defects hidden from borrowers. Such loans can thrust already vulnerable borrowers further into debt, even propelling some into bankruptcy, according to the court records, as well as interviews with borrowers and lawyers in 19 states.
In another echo of the mortgage boom, The Times investigation also found dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, leading people who had lost their jobs, were in bankruptcy or were living on Social Security to qualify for loans that they could never afford.” (“In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates”, New York Times)
Can you believe that this kind of chicanery is going on in broad daylight without the regulators stepping in? Think about it for a minute: If the NYT’s journalists can find “dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment”, then why can’t the government regulators? It’s ridiculous. What we’re talking about here is a new version of “liar’s loans” where dealers are helping people who don’t have the means to repay the debt, to fudge the details on their loan application so they can drive off in a shiny new Impala.
Haven’t we seen this movie before?
Here’s more from USA Today: “In the first quarter of 2014, 24.9% of all new-car loans were 73 to 84 months long. Four years ago, less than 10% of loans were that long. In fact, such lengthy terms have pulled the average new-car loan to 66 months. That’s an all-time record.”
7 years to pay off a car? You got to be kidding me? It’s like a second mortgage. And there’s more, too. The average monthly payment and average amount financed hit record highs in the first quarter too. This is from Auto News:
“The average monthly new-vehicle payment was $474 in the first quarter, up 3.3 percent from a year ago. The average monthly used-vehicle payment was $352, up 1.1 percent, Experian Automotive said.
Also in the first quarter, the average amount financed on a new-vehicle loan was $27,612, an increase of $964, or 3.6 percent. For used vehicles, the average amount financed was $17,927, up $395 or 2.3 percent.”
So Americans are not just loading on more debt, they’re also assuming that they’re financial situation is going to be stable enough to make these large payments well into the future. Good luck with that.
It’s also worth noting that, in many transactions, dealers are actually lending more than the value of the vehicle. According to Reuters David Henry,
“The average loan-to-value on new cars rose to 110.6 percent… On used cars it rose to 133.2 percent…
Auto lenders often provide loans that exceed the value of cars they are financing because borrowers want cash to pay sales taxes and fees.”
(“U.S. car buyers borrow more as rates fall and standards loosen“, David Henry, Reuters)
Let me see if I got this straight: You walk onto a car lot without a dime in your pocket, and drive off in a brand new car with everything paid for upfront? Such a deal! Can you see why we think that the sales numbers are a big fake? This isn’t the sign of a strong economy. It’s the sign of another gigantic credit bubble rip-off. But what do the dealers get out of this thing? Is it really worth their while to botch the underwriting when they know that eventually they’ll have to repossess the vehicle? Sure, it is, because there’s big money in stuffing people into loans they can’t afford.
Here’s how the Times explains it: ”Auto loans to borrowers considered subprime, those with credit scores at or below 640, have spiked in the last five years. The jump has been driven in large part by the demand among investors for securities backed by the loans, which offer high returns at a time of low interest rates. Roughly 25 percent of all new auto loans made last year were subprime, and the volume of subprime auto loans reached more than $145 billion in the first three months of this year.”
Bingo. So not only do they make dough on the high interest rates they charge their subprime borrowers, (Sometimes 23 percent or more.) they also make it by selling the loan to investors who are eager to buy any manner of crappy bond provided it offers a better return than US Treasuries. This is the mess Bernanke created by fixing interest rates at zero for nearly 6 years. Zirp (zero interest rate policy) unavoidably leads to excessive risk taking by yield-crazed speculators. The voracious appetite for subprime securities (ABS–Asset-Backed Securities) has even surprised the bond issuers who are constantly beating the bushes looking for sketchier products. This is from the same article by the NY Times:
“Investors, seeking a higher return when interest rates are low, recently flocked to buy a bond issue from Prestige Financial Services of Utah. Orders to invest in the $390 million debt deal were four times greater than the amount of available securities.
What is backing many of these securities? Auto loans made to people who have been in bankruptcy.
An affiliate of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Prestige specializes in making the loans to people in bankruptcy, packaging them into securities and then selling them to investors.
“It’s been a hot space,” Richard L. Hyde, the firm’s chief operating officer, said during an interview in March. Investors are betting on risky borrowers. The average interest rate on loans bundled into Prestige’s latest offering, for example, is 18.6 percent, up slightly from a similar offering rolled out a year earlier…. To meet that rising demand, Wall Street snatches up more and more loans to package into the complex investments.” (NYT)
HA! Now there’s a good way to feather the old retirement fund; load up on bonds made up of loans to people who’ve gone bust.
This is the impact that zero rates have on investor behavior. The abundance of cheap and plentiful liquidity invariably leads to trouble. And there are victims in this Central Bank-authored gold rush too, namely the unsophisticated borrowers who pay prohibitively high rates on beater vehicles that are typically worth less-than-half the value of the loan. (Check the NYT article for examples.)
The Times also notes that the ratings agencies have been playing along with the finance companies just as they did during the subprime mortgage fiasco. Here’s more from the Times:
“Rating agencies, which assess the quality of the bonds, are helping fuel the boom. They are giving many of these securities top ratings, which clears the way for major investors, from pension funds to employee retirement accounts, to buy the bonds. In March, for example, Standard & Poor’s blessed most of Prestige’s bond with a triple-A rating. Slices of a similar bond that Prestige sold last year also fetched the highest rating from S.&P. A large slice of that bond is held in mutual funds managed by BlackRock, one of the world’s largest money managers.” (NYT)
Ask yourself this, dear reader: How are the ratings agencies able to give “many of these securities top ratings”, when the investigators from the Times found “dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, leading people who had lost their jobs, were in bankruptcy or were living on Social Security to qualify for loans that they could never afford”?
Let’s face it: The regulatory changes in Dodd-Frank haven’t done a damn thing to protect the victims of these dodgy subprime schemes. Borrowers and investors are both getting gouged by a system that only protects the interests of the perpetrators. The sad fact is that nothing has changed. The system is just as corrupt as it was when Lehman went down.
So, how long can this go on before the market implodes?
According to the Times:
“financial firms are beginning to see signs of strain. In the first three months of this year, banks had to write off as entirely uncollectable an average of $8,541 of each delinquent auto loan, up about 15 percent from a year earlier, according to Experian…
In another sign of trouble ahead, repossessions, while still relatively low, increased nearly 78 percent to an estimated 388,000 cars in the first three months of the year from the same period a year earlier, according to the latest data provided by Experian. The number of borrowers who are more than 60 days late on their car payments also jumped in 22 states during that period….” (NYT)
(According to Amber Nelson at loan.com: “In the second quarter, the value of all auto loans late by 60 days or more was more than $4 billion, up 27 percent from the prior year, according to Experian.”)
So, yeah, the trouble is mounting, but that doesn’t mean that this madness won’t continue for some time to come. It probably will. It’ll probably drag-on until the economy turns south and more borrowers start falling behind on their payments. That will lead to more defaults, heavier losses on auto bonds, and a hasty race to the exits by investors. Isn’t that how the subprime mortgage scam played out?
Indeed. But at least there are signs of hope on the regulatory front. Check out this clip from an article at CNBC:
“In August, both Santander Consumer and General Motors Financial Co. acknowledged receiving Justice Department subpoenas in connection with a probe over possible violations of civil-fraud laws. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission have both stepped up their scrutiny of the auto-loan market.” (“New debt crisis fear: Subprime auto loans“, CNBC)
So the SEC, the DOJ, and the CFPB are actually investigating the underwriting practices of these behemoth finance companies to see if they violated “civil fraud laws”?
Will wonders never cease?
Just don’t hold your breath waiting for convictions.
15 Reasons Why Americans Think We’re Still in a Recession…
1: Wage Stagnation: Why America’s Workers Need Faster Wage Growth—And What We Can Do About It, Elise Gould, EPI
Economic Policy Institute:
“The hourly compensation of a typical worker grew in tandem with productivity from 1948-1973. …. After 1973, productivity grew strongly, especially after 1995, while the typical worker’s compensation was relatively stagnant. This divergence of pay and productivity has meant that many workers were not benefitting from productivity growth—the economy could afford higher pay but it was not providing it.
Between 1979 and 2013, productivity grew 64.9 percent, while hourly compensation of production and nonsupervisory workers, who comprise over 80 percent of the private-sector workforce, grew just 8.0 percent. Productivity thus grew eight times faster than typical worker compensation…” (EPI)
(Note: Flatlining wages are the Number 1 reason that the majority of Americans still think we’re in a recession.)
2: Most people still haven’t recouped what they lost in the crash: Typical Household Wealth Has Plunged 36% Since 2003, Zero Hedge
“According to a new study by the Russell Sage Foundation, the inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36% decline… Welcome to America’s Lost Decade.
Simply put, the NY Times notes, it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.
The reasons for these declines are complex and controversial, but one point seems clear: When only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss. (chart)”
3: Most working people are still living hand-to-mouth: 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, CNN Money
“Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by Bankrate.com Monday.
Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all…
Last week, online lender CashNetUSA said 22% of the 1,000 people it recently surveyed had less than $100 in savings to cover an emergency, while 46% had less than $800. After paying debts and taking care of housing, car and child care-related expenses, the respondents said there just isn’t enough money left over for saving more.”
4: Millennials are Drowning in Red Ink: Biggest economic threat? Student loan debt, USA Today
“Total student loan debt has grown more than 150% since 2005… We have more than $1.2 trillion of student loan debt…
And while 6.7 million borrowers in repayment mode are delinquent, the sad fact is that many lenders aren’t exactly incentivized to work with borrowers. Unlike all other forms of debt, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Moreover, lenders can garnish wages and even Social Security benefits to get repaid…
In 2005 student loans accounted for less than 13% of the total debt load for adults age 20-29. Today, student loans account for nearly 37% of that group’s outstanding debt. Student loan debt’s slice of the total debt pie for the age group nearly tripled! The average loan balance for that age group is now more than $25,500, up from $15,900 in 2005.”
5: Downward mobility is the new reality: Middle-Class Death Watch: As Poverty Spreads, 28 Percent of Americans Fall Out of Middle Class, Truthout
“The promise of the American dream has given many hope that they themselves could one day rise up the economic ladder. But according to a study released those already in financially-stable circumstances should fear falling down a few rungs too. The study… found that nearly a third of Americans who were part of the middle class as teenagers in the 1970s have fallen out of it as adults… its findings suggest the relative ease with which people in the U.S. can end up in low-income, low-opportunity lifestyles — even if they started out with a number of advantages. Though the American middle class has been repeatedly invoked as a key factor in any economic turnaround, numerous reports have suggested that the middle class enjoys less existential security than it did a generation ago, thanks to stagnating incomes and the decline of the industrial sector.”
6: People are more vulnerable than ever: “More Than Half Of All Americans Can’t Come Up With $400 In Emergency Cash… Unless They Borrow“, Personal Liberty
“According to a Federal Reserve report on American households’ “economic well-being” in 2013, fewer than half of all Americans said they’d be able to come up with four Benjamins on short notice to deal with an unexpected expense…
Under a section titled “Savings,” the report notes that “[s]avings are depleted for many households after the recession,” and lists the following findings:
*Among those who had savings prior to 2008, 57 percent reported using up some or all of their savings in the Great Recession and its aftermath.
*39 percent of respondents reported having a rainy day fund adequate to cover three months of expenses.
*Only 48 percent of respondents said that they would completely cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money.
7: Working people are getting poorer: The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third, New York Times
“The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation.
Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially….“The housing bubble basically hid a trend of declining financial wealth at the median that began in 2001,” said Fabian T. Pfeffer, the University of Michigan professor who is lead author of the Russell Sage Foundation study.
The reasons for these declines are complex and controversial, but one point seems clear: When only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss.”
8: Most people can’t even afford to get their teeth fixed: 7 things the middle class can’t afford anymore, USA Today
“A vacation is an extra expense that many middle-earners cannot afford without sacrificing something else. A Statista survey found that this year 54% of people gave up purchasing big ticket items like TVs or electronics so they can go on a vacation. Others made sacrifices like reducing or eliminating their trips to the movies (47%), reducing or eliminating trips out to restaurants (43%), or avoiding purchasing small ticket items like new clothing (43%).
3–To pay off debt…
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “the U.S. spends about $64 billion each year on oral health care — just 4% is paid by Government programs.” About 108 million people in the U.S. have no dental coverage and even those who are covered may have trouble getting the care they need, the department reports.”
9: The good, high-paying jobs have vanished: Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones, New York Times
“The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants.
In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of anew report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery.
“Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal,” said Michael Evangelist, the report’s author. “If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?”
10: More workers are throwing in the towel: Labor Participation Rate Drops To 36 Year Low; Record 92.6 Million Americans Not In Labor Force, Zero Hedge
“For those curious why the US unemployment rate just slid once more to a meager 5.9%, the lowest print since the summer of 2008, the answer is the same one we have shown every month since 2010: the collapse in the labor force participation rate, which in September slid from an already three decade low 62.8% to 62.7% – the lowest in over 36 years, matching the February 1978 lows. And while according to the Household Survey, 232,000 people found jobs, what is more disturbing is that the people not in the labor force, rose to a new record high, increasing by 315,000 to 92.6 million!
Bottom line: Unemployment has gone down because more people aren’t working and have fallen off the radar.”
11: Nearly twice as many people still rely on Food Stamps than before the recession: Food-stamp use is falling from its peak, Marketwatch
“Food-stamp use is finally moving away from the peak. At 46.1 million people, total food-stamp usage is down about 4% from its high in December 2012 of 47.8 million. Only eight states in March (the latest data available) were up from the same month of 2013.
It’s still not great news, however, considering there were 26.3 million people receiving food stamps in 2007…”
12: The ocean of red ink continues to grow: American Household Credit Card Debt Statistics: 2014, Nerd Wallet Finance
Nerd Wallet Finance:
U.S. household consumer debt profile:
*Average credit card debt: $15,607
*Average mortgage debt: $153,500
*Average student loan debt: $32,656
In total, American consumers owe:
*$11.63 trillion in debt
*An increase of 3.8% from last year
*$880.5 billion in credit card debt
*$8.07 trillion in mortgages
*$1,120.3 billion in student loans
*An increase of 11.5% from last year
13: No Recovery for working people: The collapse of household income in the US, World Socialist Web Site
“The US Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, released last Thursday, documents a devastating decline in economic conditions for a large majority of the population during the so-called economic recovery.
The report reveals that between 2007 and 2013, the income of a typical US household fell 12 percent. The median American household now earns $6,400 less per year than it did in 2007.
Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances
Much of the decline occurred during the “recovery” presided over by the Obama administration. In the three years between 2010 and 2013, the annual income of a typical household fell by an additional 5 percent.
The report also shows that wealth has become even more concentrated in the topmost economic layers. The wealth share of the top 3 percent climbed from 44.8 percent in 1989 to 54.4 percent in 2013. The share of wealth held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33.2 percent in 1989 to 24.7 percent in 2013.”
14: Most people will work until they die: The Greatest Retirement Crisis In American History, Forbes
“We are on the precipice of the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world. In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly Americans, the Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty.
Too frail to work, too poor to retire will become the “new normal” for many elderly Americans.
That dire prediction… is already coming true. Our national demographics, coupled with indisputable glaringly insufficient retirement savings and human physiology, suggest that a catastrophic outcome for at least a significant percentage of our elderly population is inevitable. With the average 401(k) balance for 65 year olds estimated at $25,000 by independent experts …the decades many elders will spend in forced or elected “retirement” will be grim…
The signs of the coming retirement crisis are all around you. Who’s bagging your groceries: a young high school kid or an older “retiree” who had to go back to work to supplement his income or qualify for health insurance?”
15: Americans are more pessimistic about the future, Polling Report
According to a CNN/ORC Poll May 29-June 1, 2014:
“Do you agree or disagree? The American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.”
According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). April 23-27, 2014:
“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Because of the widening gap between the incomes of the wealthy and everyone else, America is no longer a country where everyone, regardless of their background, has an opportunity to get ahead and move up to a better standard of living.”Agree: 54%
Also, according to a CBS News Poll. Jan. 17-21, 2014. N=1,018 adults nationwide.
“Looking to the future, do you think most children in this country will grow up to be better off or worse off than their parents?”Better off: 34%
Worse off: 63%
The majority of people in the United States, no longer believe in the American dream, or that America is the land of opportunity, or that their children will have a better standard of living than their own. They’ve grown more pessimistic because they haven’t seen the changes they were hoping for, and because their lives are just as hard as they were right after the crash. In fact, according to a 2014 Public Religion Research Institute poll– 72 percent of those surveyed said they think “the economy is still in recession.”
Judging by the info in the 15 links above, they’re probably right.
“Financial markets are faced with uncertainty that isn’t going away. The slowdown in Europe is probably in the early innings, the Fed hasn’t begun to raise interest rates, and geopolitical crises seem to pop up by the day.” Jeff Cox, Finance editor, CNBC
Six years of zero rates and trillions of dollars of asset purchases couldn’t stop stocks from falling sharply on Wednesday. All three major indices moved deep into the red, with the Dow Jones leading the pack, dropping an eye-watering 460 points before rebounding nearly 300 points by the end of the session. Risk-free assets, particularly US Treasuries, rallied hard on the flight-to-safety move with the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield slipping to a Depression era 1.87 percent before climbing back above the 2 percent mark. US financials were the worst hit sector, taking it on the chin for 9 percent by mid-day, while Brent crude was soundly walloped, falling to a 47-month low on oversupply and deflation fears. Stock market gains for the year had nearly been wiped out before a miraculous about-face turned Armageddon into a so-so day with survivable losses. Even so, analysts have already started paring back their estimates for 4th quarter growth while traders stocked up on antacid for Thursday’s opening bell.
The proximate cause of Wednesday’s bloodbath was weaker than expected economic data from Europe–which is sliding towards its third recession in five years– droopy retail sales in the US, and a report from Department of Labor showing that wholesale prices for producers are edging closer towards deflation, the opposite of what the Fed is trying to achieve via its aggressive monetary policy.
But the real trigger for the selloff was not the dismal data, but the policies that have been in place since the Financial Crisis of 2008. While the Obama administration has steadily decreased demand by shaving the deficits which provide vital fiscal stimulus for the economy, (On Wednesday, the USG announced the budget deficit fell to $483 billion, the lowest since 2008) the Federal Reserve has been providing trillions of dollars of cheap money to the banks and brokerages. The result of this one-two combo has not only been the biggest transfer of wealth in human history, but also “a fundamental breakdown in the functioning of the global capitalist economy.” As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted in a recent paper on the global recovery: “a pickup in investment has not yet materialized…reflecting concerns about low medium-term growth potential and subdued private consumption.” Demand shortfalls in the advanced countries “could lead to sustained global economic weakness over a five-year period.” (IMF report records global economic breakdown, Nick Beams, World Socialist Web Site)
Simply put: The Fed’s policies have made investors richer, but they haven’t created opportunities for recycling profits, which is a critical part of capitalism’s so called virtuous circle. Anemic investment, means less hiring, less spending, weaker demand and slower growth, all of which are visible in today’s sluggish, underperforming economy. Pumping money into financial assets (QE) can fatten the bank accounts of rich speculators, but it doesn’t do jack for the economy. It just creates bubbles that burst in a flurry of panic selling. Here’s more from Larry Elliot at the Guardian:
“Six years after the global banking system had its near-death experience, interest rates are still at emergency levels. Even attaining the mediocre levels of activity expected by the IMF in the developed countries requires central banks to continue providing large amounts of stimulus. The hope has been that copious amounts of dirt-cheap money will find its way into productive uses, with private investment leading to stronger and better balanced growth.
It hasn’t happened like that. Instead, as the IMF rightly pointed out, the money has not gone into economic risk-taking but into financial risk-taking. Animal spirits of entrepreneurs have remained weak but asset prices have been strong. Tighter controls on banks have been accompanied by the emergence of a powerful and largely unchecked shadow banking system. Investors have been piling into all sorts of dodgy-looking schemes, just as they did pre-2007. Recovery, such as it is, is once again reliant on rising debt levels. Central bankers know this but also know that jacking up interest rates would push their economies back into recession. They cross their fingers and hope for the best.” (World leaders play war games as the next financial crisis looms, Larry Elliot, Guardian)
The policies implemented by the Obama administration and Fed have achieved precisely what they were designed to achieve; they’ve enriched the voracious plutocrats who run the system but left everyone else scraping by on less and less. An article in the Washington Post explains what’s going on in greater detail. Here’s a short excerpt from the piece titled “Why is the recovery so weak? It’s the austerity, stupid”:
“Welcome to Austerity U.S.A., where the deficit is back below 3 percent of GDP and growth is still disappointing—which aren’t unrelated facts.
It started when the stimulus ran out. Then state and local governments had to balance their budgets amidst a still-weak economy. And finally, there was the debt ceiling deal with its staggered $2.1 trillion of cuts over the next decade. Add it all up, and there’s been a big fiscal tightening the past few years, something like 4 percent of potential GDP. Indeed, as Paul Krugman points out, real government spending per capita has been falling faster now than any time since the Korean War demobilization. (chart)
Fiscal Impact Measure
Source: Hutchins Center
And, as you can see above, all this austerity has been hurting GDP growth since 2011. It shows the Hutchins Center’s new “fiscal impact measure,” which looks at how much total government tax-and-spending decisions have helped or harmed growth. The dark blue line is what policy has actually done, and the light blue one is what a neutral policy would have done. So, in other words, if the dark blue line is below the light blue one, like it has the last three years, then policy has subtracted from growth.” (Why is the recovery so weak? It’s the austerity, stupid. Washington Post)
By cutting the deficits, Obama reduced the blood flow to the real economy and weakened demand. That’s what torpedoed the recovery. In contrast, stocks and bonds have done remarkably well, mainly because the Fed pumped $4 trillion into financial assets which was a taken as a greenlight by risk takers everywhere to load up on everything from overpriced equities to low-yield junk. Now, after more than three years without as much as a 10 percent correction, the momentum has shifted, volatility has returned, earnings are looking wobbly, and the fear is palpable. Stocks appear to be headed for a major repricing event. Here’s how investment guru John Hussman sums it up in his Weekly Market Comment:
“Our concerns at present mirror those that we expressed at the 2000 and 2007 peaks, as we again observe an overvalued, overbought, overbullish extreme that is now coupled with a clear deterioration in market internals, a widening of credit spreads, and a breakdown in our measures of trend uniformity…
…it has become urgent for investors to carefully examine all risk exposures. When extreme valuations on historically reliable measures, lopsided bullishness, and compressed risk premiums are joined by deteriorating market internals, widening credit spreads, and a breakdown in trend uniformity, it’s advisable to make certain that the long position you have is the long position you want over the remainder of the market cycle. As conditions stand, we currently observe the ingredients of a market crash.” (The Ingredients of a Market Crash, John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Hussman Funds)
Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? And Hussman is not alone either. The bearish mood on Wall Street is gaining pace even among those who focus more on geopolitical issues than fundamentals, like the Bank for International Settlements’ Guy Debelle who said in an interview on CNBC on Tuesday that he was concerned about the possibility of a “violent” market drop, particularly in bonds.
“If I had told you that there were heightened tensions in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, uncertainty about the turning point in U.S. monetary policy, a succession of strong U.S. job numbers, uncertainty about the future direction of policy in Europe and Japan, as well as increased concern about the strength of the Chinese economy, you would not be expecting that to make for a benign time in financial markets,” Guy Debelle of the BIS said. “But that is what we have seen for much of this year.” (CNBC)
But stocks aren’t cratering because of tensions in the Middle East or Eastern Europe. That’s baloney. And they’re not falling because of decelerating global growth, plunging oil prices or Ebola. They’re falling because no one knows what the heck is going to happen when QE stops at the end of October. That’s what has everyone in a lather.
Keep in mind, that 20 percent of the current market cap (more than $4 trillion) is stock buybacks, that is, corporations that have bought their own shares to juice prices. Do you really think that corporate bosses are going to play as fast and loose after the Fed stops its liquidity injections?
Not on your life. They’re going to pull in their horns and see what happens next. And if things go sideways, (which they very well could) they’re going to cash in and call it a day. That’s going to drive down stock prices and send markets reeling.
Stocks have nearly tripled since March 2009 when the Fed started this “credit easing” fiasco. So if stocks rode higher on an ocean of Fed liquidity, then how low are they going to go when the spigot is turned off? There are some, like technical strategist Abigail Doolittle, who think the S and P 500 could suffer a major heart attack, dropping as much as 60 percent before equities touch down. Check it out from CNBC:
“(Abigail) Doolittle, founder of Peak Theories Research, has made headlines lately suggesting a market correction worse than anyone thinks is ahead. The long-term possibility, she has said, is a 60 percent collapse for the S&P 500.
In early August, Doolittle was warning both of a looming “super spike” in the CBOE Volatility Index as well as a “death cross” in the 10-year Treasury note.
And so it’s come to pass at least for the VIX, which has jumped 74 percent over the past three months and crossed the 20 threshold that historically has served as a dividing line between complacency and fear. That’s its highest level in nearly two years. From Doolittle’s perspective, the spike represents a bad-news/bad-news scenario … that the near-term selling action is likely to continue and even accelerate…
…she thinks “violent waves of selling action” could send the VIX all the way to 90—even beyond its peak during the financial crisis.” (CNBC)
Now maybe Doolittle is just exaggerating or paranoid, but her conclusions do seem to square with CNN Money. Here’s a clip from yesterday’s article:
“CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index is a good indicator of market momentum. Today it hit zero. That’s a huge red flag and showcases extreme fear in the stock market. The only other time the index ever touched that low point is in August 2011 — shortly after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. debt.
Volatility — or what some are calling “market whiplash” — is clearly back in the market. The VIX, an index that measures volatility and is one of the factors that goes into the Fear & Greed Index — spiked again today. It’s up a whopping 60% in the past week alone.” (Extreme Fear in stock market, CNN Money)
So fear and volatility are back, but liquidity has suddenly gone missing. That sounds like a prescription for disaster to me. So what can we expect in the weeks to come?
Well, more of the same, at least that’s how Pimco’s former chief executive officer Mohamed El Erian sees it. Here’s how he summed it up on Wednesday in a Bloomberg editorial:
“Though unlikely to be as dramatic as today, market volatility can be expected to continue in the days and weeks to come as two forces compete: first, the forced deleveraging of certain investors, particularly overstretched hedge funds registering big October losses; second, central banks scrambling to say all sorts of reassuring things. All of this will serve to reinforce October’s longstanding reputation as a threatening month for investors around the world.” (October’s Wild Ride Isn’t Over Yet, Mohamed A. El-Erian, Bloomberg)
Did he say “forced deleveraging”?
Uh huh. So, after a 6 year bacchanal, the Fed is finally going to take away the punch bowl and force the revelers to pay down their debts, clean up their balance sheets, and take a few less risks. Is that it?
Yep. It sure looks like it. But, that could change in the blink of an eye, after all, the Fed has its friends to think of. Which means that Ms. Yellen could announce QE4 any day now.
As our society bounces down ward, flowing this way now and that way a little later, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is happening until it has already overwhelmed us.
Almost everyone now knows that football stars Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are guilty of violence within their families; a video shows Rice knocking his wife unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator. Pictures of Adrian Peterson’s ten year of son with red switch welts on his back and legs have been widely circulated. Both are being disciplined by the National Football League.
Another one that still sticks in my mind happened way back in 1988, Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos (Jimmy the Greek Snyder), a popular 12 year employee of the CBS network was fired for contending at a lunch with TV reporter Ed Hoteling that African Americans were superior athletes because during slavery they had been bred to produce superior physical characteristics.
In July 2002 Phil Donahue, following a record 26 year stint of staring in his own show, returned to TV on MSNBC. His show was an immediate success but was terminated in slightly over six months ostensibly for opposing the Iraq War.
In 2003, Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Arnett was fired by NBC for spreading factual information about the Iraq war.
In 2004, Paul Craig Roberts was banned from the mainstream media for the crime of being critical of the George W. Bush Administration and the war in Iraq.
On January 26, 2009 Juan Williams was separated from National Public Radio for making this comment about First Lady Michelle Obama, “Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Charmichael in a designer dress thing going. If she starts talking…her instinct is to start with this blame America, you know, I’m the victim. If that stuff starts coming out, people will go bananas and she’ll go from being the new Jackie O to being something of an albatross”.
In 2007, Don Imus, pre-eminent New York radio shock-jock, for a flippant racial reference to a Rutgers Women’s Basketball player was fired in the syrupy sweet jargon of the lily white president of CBS, Leslie Moonves, who intoned “From the outset, I believe all of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air about the young women who represented Rutgers University in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship with such class, energy and talent. There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society. That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.”
In 2010, Lebanese journalist Octavia Nasr, a 20 year employee of CNN was fired for expressing admiration for fellow Lebanese Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah after she read his obituary.
In 2013 Paula Deen, a popular chef on the Food Channel, was summarily dismissed. A law suit by a Black employee for sexual harassment and discrimination resulted in her admission that she had used racial slurs in the past. Perfuse apologies were useless.
Crystal Dixon was dismissed from her job at the University of Toledo for expressing this bit of sound logic in a letter to the editor of a local paper. “I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims.’ Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman,” she wrote. “I am genetically and biologically a black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few.”
In 2014, Bob Eschliman, a Christian, lost his job as editor of the Newtown Daily News, an Iowa periodical, for criticizing the Queen James Bible Website. He was fired and publically castigated for expressing his opinion.
Additional examples of politically incorrect dismissals abound.
Some of these excoriations were at least partially a result of other behavior that offended the power structure. Jimmy the Greek once punched Brent Musburger in the face for calling him stupid. They were bitter enemies. He also brought Phyllis George to tears by insulting her husband. As popular as he was he did not fit into the media social structure.
Roger Goodell is a lonely Gentile in the midst of major sport commissioners. There may be an effort to replace him by criticizing his performance. Adrian Peterson is a professing Christian Any Christian is fair game.
When Phil Donahue joined NBC in 2002 Chris Matthews fancied himself the heart of the station. Matthews did not like the Donahue Show – it drew a larger audience and pursued peace. He was pro-war and also enjoyed and ethnic advantage.
Peter Arnette was just too honest to survive in the media sea of deception.
Paul Craig Roberts is a thinker, writer, and researcher. He is one of our nation’s most talented individuals but the American Media is monolithic and does not allow deviation from its unwritten and unacknowledged laws. Criticizing war and seeking peace when they support war and death is an affront to their superior agenda.
Juan Williams may have touched on a hidden truth with a conservative type statement. Either or both are no, nos. He is Black and is working again but if a White man had made the same statement he would be banned for life.
Don Imus referred to the Rutgers lady basketball players as “nappy-headed hos”, a racial slur against a race that is sacrosanct in press and media circles. He had friends that got him his job back.
Octavia Nasr expressed admiration for an enemy of the power elite. We must love what they love and hate what they hate.
Paula Deen’s situation was similar to that of Jimmy the Greek. Though she had a popular show and was herself a success story her family was a bit crude for the elite social structure.
Homosexuality is an idol of a high order in the educational hierarchy. Even though Crystal Dixon is Black, pointing in clear logic to the absurdity of comparing civil rights for Blacks to civil rights for homosexuals was unacceptable to the meritocratic humbugs at her university. Of course her reference to and tacit support of Christian organizations is damnable all by itself.
Christians are still naïve about the hate their religion engenders in those that control our press and media. Bob Eschliman found out.
When the powerful purveyors of news and entertainment forsook the Law given them by erstwhile religion they opened the door to the tyranny of their own power. They are now the determiners of good and evil within their sizeable dominions. Morality is now an arbitrary doctrine enforced by raw power.
We might blame the leadership which owns and controls most of the world’s press and media but that leadership is being supported by millions of American Christians and validated by others who support Zionism.
Humanism is the religion of the day. The oligarchs think of themselves as a superior race endowed with authority to exert their will on the world with physical force. They will use Evangelicals who support their wars but they will not abide God’s legal structure.
Questioning the authenticity of 9/11 or the validity of the War in the Middle East is not allowed. Conspiracy talk is squelched as is criticism of Blacks, Jews, The Media, the Iraq War, homosexuality and lesbianism. Christianity can be lambasted but never extolled or promoted. Even if the dismissal is a result of other behavior the elite power structure will look for one of the key “no noes” to re-enforce fear of future infractions.
Law is what the power elite say it is. Justice is a result of abiding by the immutable Law of our Creator – it has vanished from most of the earth. War and chaos have replaced justice and peace.
“To Learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Attributed to Voltaire
Norman Rockwell’s America carried incredible nostalgia for the way this country once operated. “Father Knows Best” captured our understanding of “family” in America. Jackie Gleason on the “Honeymooners” along with Andy Taylor and Barney Fife instilled our mutual belonging. Bill Cosby brought us together with the “Cosby Show.” Everyone spoke English and everyone enjoyed employment and hope.
From the 50s to the 70s, most people worked a job, our Congress made laws to ensure our well-being along with a viable nationhood. Even with our racial strife, women’s rights, gay rights and battles over Roe vs. Wade—America allowed every citizen the right to pursue “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
After my latest bicycle journey across America this summer, we unknowingly bear witness to the greatest racial and demographic shift ever self-inflicted on one country in the history of the world. By 2042, the Pew Research Center reports that the current European-American majority (down from 90 percent in 1960 to 54 percent in 2014) faces the new Latino majority within 28 years. All of it created by endless legal and illegal immigration.
During the next 36 years, Americans face an added 100 million legal immigrants from 150 countries around the globe. They stream into America at blinding speed via our invitations, chain migration and birth rates. How can we equate adding 100 million immigrants? Answer: that number equates to doubling the size of our 25 most populated cities. It means New York City jumps from 8.3 million to 16.6 million, Chicago from 5.1 million to 10.2 million and on down the line.
What does such an immigration invasion mean to our communities? Our way of life? Our quality of life? Our standard of living? Our environment? Our educational systems?
Answer: as the numbers rise to that 100 million level, everything in our society degrades, devolves, degenerates and worsens.
You cannot stop a fire by spraying gasoline on it. You can’t solve California’s drought or wildfires by adding another 20 million foreigners to that state via immigration. We cannot EVER catch up to exponential growth because it outruns our ability to solve its endemic and systemic consequences.
And, oxymoronically, we can’t solve our predicament by passing S744 Amnesty Bill that doubles legal immigration to 2.0 million annually.
What’s the final equation? Since I traveled through dozens of third world countries in the last 40 years, I noticed they couldn’t solve their problems, either. They face(d) horrific food and water contamination, disease and shortages. Just look at Ebola in Africa along with AIDS that killed 15 million thus far. Their citizens face endless illiteracy because they can’t install a viable educational system. They face conflict over resources.
As you notice in such areas as Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Bangladesh, Indochina, Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia and dozens of other countries—you see continual religious, resource, food and water conflicts.
That’s where the United States of America steams. You can see it in our ethnic conflicts today whether Ferguson, MO riots, Chicago featuring 50 gun fights over the 4th of July weekend, black on black killings into the tens of thousands over the past several decades, 76 percent dropout/flunkout rates for Detroit public schools, which creates over 60 percent illiteracy rates. Illiteracy remains the key indicator of a third world country. Once it takes hold, it becomes intractable.
One look at our welfare system shows 68 percent of African-American children reared by a single mother on welfare. We feed 48 million Americans and non-Americans with EBT or food stamps. We see a complete breakdown of our middle class with no way to fight joblessness, futility or obesity caused by illiteracy. Right now, obesity explodes as a national epidemic of health care nightmares for our citizens.
Question: how do you think any of our current sociological, environmental, water, energy, racial and growing religious strife can or will get better. With those 100 million legal immigrants, you may expect to see an increase of Muslims in our country from 7.5 million to well over 20-30 million by 2050. Sociologists reported that once Islam reaches 8 percent of the host nation’s population, they become violent, arrogant and use the system to back the host country down to agree to Sharia Law. Notice the riots in Sweden and two separate London’s. Look at France’s nightmare. Sharia law stands against every Western sensibility for women’s rights, gays’ rights, free speech, education, marriage choices and religious choice. Note that hundreds of Muslim-Americans signed up to join terrorists groups in the Middle East. What happens when they turn their terror toward us?
Australia discovered a major plot fomented by citizen Muslims to commit beheadings in the streets of Sydney this summer. If you think I am kidding, watch this short video:
Published on Sep 18, 2014: More than 800 Police in Australia have carried out anti-terror raids in Sydney (12 suburbs) sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic extremists were planning random killings (beheadings) in Australia:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0ctrDnM__4
Additionally, look for three major languages to create major chaos and loss of our national ethos in the coming decades. Look for linguistic confusion and separation from being a citizen of the United States because you speak Arabic, Spanish or English. In the end, we face becoming a nation of strangers.
What solutions might we enact to save ourselves?
- Immediate reduction of all legal immigration to less than 100,000 annually instead of the current 100,000 every 30 days from 150 countries around the globe.
- Immediate enforcement of our current work, rent and transport laws against employers of anyone illegally in the USA.
- Immediate discussion on “60 Minutes”; “Face the Nation” ; “Meet the Press” ; Charlie Rose; NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, CNN, Bill O’Reilly, Wolf Blitzer, Shepard Smith, Megyn Kelley and all talk radio shows on how many people can our country hold and what’s the point of adding another 100 million foreigners when we already face enormous problems with what we currently hold.
- Millions of Americans need to join www.NumbersUSA.org; www.CapsWeb.org and www.Fairus.org and www.TheSocialContract.com in order to grow you strength via collective empowerment.
Otherwise, we keep heading where we’re headed. And, we’ll end up just like any third world country. Crowded, scant opportunities, lack of education, water shortages, energy crisis, religious conflict, environmental degradation and worse. It’s inevitable if we fail to stop mass immigration. I am amazed that I am the only US journalist who sees this monster so clearly, yet I see no national movement to stop it. Result: we doom our kids to a very sobering future of a fractured and fragmented civilization that cannot right itself.
Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.
On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet.
On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.
Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:
The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence.
Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov
And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.
Has the United States ever set a bad example?
Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:
“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”
Thank you, George. Now take your pills.
I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations. But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.
This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”
The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy, American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014
Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.
Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.
The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
- Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.
This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.
So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.
Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.
After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.
Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.
And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.
We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.
The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.
Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!
But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.
So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”
Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.
The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.
In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.
Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.
I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.
In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?
It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.
- NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
- BBC, March 18, 2014
- Information Clearinghouse, “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
- Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
- See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower(2005), chapter 1
- Washington Post, August 28, 2014
- Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000
When the billionaire tech jet set decides to let down their hair, what do they talk about around the campfire? According to the New Your Times, “Google is sponsoring an elite conference this week at a golf resort in Sicily, with a guest list of chief executives, investors and celebrities, all of whom were invited to bring their families. On the agenda are high-minded discussions of global issues — along with relaxation by the Mediterranean Sea.” How quaint! . . . For the real scoop, Here’s What Went On At Google’s Exclusive Conference For The Rich And Famous In Sicily.
“Sicilian blogger Tony Siino talked to an attendee about what went on, and told Business Insider via email that the conference, dubbed “The Camp,” was three-days of intellectual discussions, relaxation, and sight-seeing.According to Siino’s source, morning discussions included a wide range of topics, including how to extend human life and the design of cities of the future.”
Reported by NBC local TV channel in the Bay Area has “guests include Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd C. Blankfein, executives from German and Spanish banks, Uber chief Travis Kalanick, Tesla boss Elon Musk, Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts and Snapchat boss Evan Spiegel. Also on hand is Ben Horowitz, venture capitalist with Marc Andreessen at make-or-break Silicon Valley fund Andreessen Horowitz.”
Spending quality time with the family between sessions in the next round of tech discoveries hardly seems to be the best use of time. Yet, time may well be the ultimate objective if you can uncover the mysteries of anti-aging research. Life Extension Magazine reports that Google Life Extension is investing in a venture called California Life Company, or Calico for short, and its goal is to extend human life by 20 to 100 years.
At this point, Google is being highly secretive about their plans for Calico. All Google would reveal is that Calico will focus “in particular on the challenge of aging and associated diseases.”
Calico could produce startlingly counterintuitive breakthroughs, as a result, of Google’s strengths in the following areas:
- Non-commercial dedication — rather than a focus on commercial marketing of mediocre drugs as pharmaceutical companies now do.
- Vast consumer access and core data-handling skills — with unprecedented data gathering, pattern-matching, and causal-relationship detection.
- Ability to attract the brightest minds — potentially preferring to work on life-and-death problems instead of cutesy apps and games.
Further speculation in an essay – How’s Google Dabbling in Health, Life, DNA, and Immortality? – cites areas of research has cutting-edge technology pushing the limits of the wheel of life itself.
“A CNN article listed a few common subjects, like cryonics (a process where the body is preserved in liquid nitrogen), cryotherapy (which exposes injured patients to very low temperatures for short periods of time), cloning and body part replacement, nanotechnology (deploying small robots to overcome the problem of incorrect DNA replication, one cause of aging), and even research into telomeres, the ends of a chromosome that protect cells against degradation.”
Hidden within a “feel good” sentiment behind the altruism to elevate the life span of the human race is an unconvincing skepticism. In an article like Google Wants You to Live 170 Years, just does not seem believable to a rational observer.
“What Google brings to the table is data. “Not just one set of data, multiple forms,” says Harry Glorikian, founder of life sciences consulting firm Scientia Advisors. “Search data, GPS data, all sorts of other pieces, electronic breadcrumbs that you produce all out there to get a picture of you.”This data could be paired with each person’s genome — a partial genome can be mapped today for $99 via 23andMe (another Google investment), but many are hoping a full genome will cost as much in the next few years.”
Even if such ambitious projections that life extension might become common-place for the masses, it does not guarantee that everyone will be a candidate for future “Camp” invitations. Google hardly needs to market the secrets of the gods in order to maintain or enhance their cash flow. The Globe and Mail describes the gathering, “Like the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland – an annual gathering of the elite at a snowy ski resort – the upstart conference from Google projects an aura of exclusivity. Its existence has not previously been disclosed.”
Following the example of other enigmatic elitist stratagems, “The Camp” shows no signs of a charitable motivation when the onion is peeled. Michael Downey in the account, Google Wants To Extend Your Life laments that not enough is being done to achieve the holy grail of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth.
“Tragically, while the government spends over $3 billion annually on “health concerns” of the elderly, it operates on the assumption that aging is not a disease. Corporations lack the longer-term view needed. And extremely few of the world’s 1,426 billionaires, with a total net worth of $5.4 trillion, have included anti-aging research in their charities.”
Do you really believe that the beautiful people, much less, the corporatist return on assets crowd, or the great democracies of the planet are eager to share any medical, genetic or nanotech leap forwards with the chattel serfs? Attending boot camp for the peasants is quite different from rubbing elbows with these Nouveau riche Sicilian Dons in the global technocratic mafia. The blueblood patricians of the banksters’ families will enlighten their newly made men into the rules and ways of the global syndicate.
The Calico family franchise promises to be more alluring than the temporary ecstasy of a drug high. Most godless souls want to live forever, since rejecting an afterlife is automatic to such atheistic masters of the universe. Google has proven to be a “New Age” android. Hence, it is natural for apps, developed to manage the life cycle, become part of the smart set. The key question is will the source code become available to the masses, or will the elites maintain the restricted knowledge only for their devil witch coven.
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and thus clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” - H.L. Mencken
Whenever I read stuff like this, all I can think is: “And they call Alex Jones paranoid.”
National Review’s David French wants us to join him in his fear, among other things, that ISIS will “raise the black flag [of jihad] over the White House.”
If anyone actually believes this, you are just as gullible as those who believed Obama was going to give America free health care.
Ever since 9/11, paranoia pimps of French’s ilk have wanted us to believe that “radical Islam’s stated goal” is complete global domination. Never mind that it has been several centuries since an Islamic country conquered a non-Islamic country.
Take two minutes and watch this video. Ever since Old Testament – old, as in the book of Genesis – times, the entire history of the Middle East has been one of empires rising and falling. None of them last forever.
And here’s a stated goal: I hereby state that I will be the winning pitcher for my beloved Dodgers in Game 7 of this year’s World Series.
I guess that means it is going to happen, right?
As for ISIS “wealth”, $2 billion is chump change. The U.S. military goes through $2 billion on an average day. To put $2 billion in perspective, retail sales in Paramus, New Jersey, last year were $5 billion.
Oh, sure, ISIS may have procured a few tanks. But even if they have, do they have the technical sophistication to maintain them for long, let alone manufacture new ones?
ISIS has no ships, planes or nukes. America, on the other hand, has 473 naval ships, over 8000 tanks and over 13,000 military aircraft. We have enough nuclear warheads to kill every person on the planet several times over. And we have 300,000,000 firearms in private hands.
And why is there so much concern all of a sudden for the plight of Iraqi Christians? No one gave a rip about the mass exodus during the Bush years. As horrible as Saddam was, Christians were not abandoning Iraq en masse until after his ouster by the United States in 2003. (No group supported this war more enthusiastically than American Christians.) And how many of the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of U.S. imposed sanctions in the 1990s were Christians?
And if the persecution of Christians in Iraq justifies American military action, what about the persecution of Christians in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, China and North Korea?
French says ISIS is to be more feared than Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda was only able to succeed on 9/11 because American airplane passengers were unable to defend themselves. Any fool knows that you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.
And, no, 9/11 did not happen because “they hate our freedom.” When you throw your weight around to the extent that the U.S. does, it is inevitable that a lot of people will hate you. And while third world countries can’t conquer you militarily, they will find other ways to make your life miserable.
I had an interesting conversation with a Swiss girl recently. I told her that her country does it right: they are armed to the teeth and they mind their own business. She said that it is indeed nice to live in such a country.
Right-wingers are just as prone as left-wingers to come unglued when certain buttons are pushed. To paraphrase the British historian and politician Lord Thomas Macaulay, there is no spectacle so ridiculous as the American public in one of its periodic fits of morality.
My Money’s On Putin…
“History shows that the United States has benefited politically and economically from wars in Europe. The huge outflow of capital from Europe following the First and Second World Wars, transformed the U.S. into a superpower … Today, faced with economic decline, the US is trying to precipitate another European war to achieve the same objective.”… Sergey Glazyev, Russian politician and economist
“The discovery of the world’s largest, known gas reserves in the Persian Gulf, shared by Qatar and Iran, and new assessments which found 70 percent more gas in the Levantine in 2007, are key to understanding the dynamics of the conflicts we see today. After a completion of the PARS pipeline, from Iran, through Iraq and Syria to the Eastern Mediterranean coast, the European Union would receive more than an estimated 45 percent of the gas it consumes over the next 100 – 120 years from Russian and Iranian sources. Under non-conflict circumstances, this would warrant an increased integration of the European, Russian and Iranian energy sectors and national economies.” Christof Lehmann,Interview with Route Magazine
The United States failed operation in Syria, has led to an intensification of Washington’s proxy war in Ukraine. What the Obama administration hoped to achieve in Syria through its support of so called “moderate” Islamic militants was to topple the regime of Bashar al Assad, replace him with a US-backed puppet, and prevent the construction of the critical Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. That plan hasn’t succeeded nor will it in the near future, which means that the plan for the prospective pipeline will eventually go forward.
Why is that a problem?
It’s a problem because–according to Dr. Lehmann–”Together with the Russian gas… the EU would be able to cover some 50 percent of its requirements for natural gas via Iranian and Russian sources.” As the primary suppliers of critical resources to Europe, Moscow and Tehran would grow stronger both economically and politically which would significantly undermine the influence of the US and its allies in the region, particularly Qatar and Israel. This is why opponents of the pipeline developed a plan to sabotage the project by fomenting a civil war in Syria. Here’s Lehmann again:
“In 2007, Qatar sent USD 10 billion to Turkey´s Foreign Minister Davotoglu to prepare Turkey´s and Syria´s Muslim Brotherhood for the subversion of Syria. As we recently learned from former French Foreign Minister Dumas, it was also about that time, that actors in the United Kingdom began planning the subversion of Syria with the help of “rebels”’ (Christof Lehmann, Interview with Route Magazine)
In other words, the idea to arm, train and fund an army of jihadi militants, to oust al Assad and open up Syria to western interests, had its origins in an evolving energy picture that clearly tilted in the favor of US rivals in the region. (Note: We’re not sure why Lehmann leaves out Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or the other Gulf States that have also been implicated.)
Lehmann’s thesis is supported by other analysts including the Guardian’s Nafeez Ahmed who explains what was going on behind the scenes of the fake civil uprising in Syria. Here’s a clip from an article by Ahmed titled “Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern”:
“In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had “cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations” intended to weaken the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria,” wrote Hersh, “a byproduct” of which is “the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups” hostile to the United States and “sympathetic to al-Qaeda.” He noted that “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria”…
According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business”, he told French television:
“I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”
… Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”
So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years”, starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.”
(“Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern“, The Guardian)
Apparently, Assad was approached by Qatar on the pipeline issue in 2009, but he refused to cooperate in order “to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally.” Had Assad fallen in line and agreed to Qatar’s offer, then the effort to remove him from office probably would have been called off. In any event, it was the developments in Syria that triggered the frenzied reaction in Ukraine. According to Lehmann:
“The war in Ukraine became predictable (unavoidable?) when the great Muslim Brotherhood Project in Syria failed during the summer of 2012. …In June and July 2012 some 20,000 NATO mercenaries who had been recruited and trained in Libya and then staged in the Jordanian border town Al-Mafraq, launched two massive campaigns aimed at seizing the Syrian city of Aleppo. Both campaigns failed and the ”Libyan Brigade” was literally wiped out by the Syrian Arab Army.
It was after this decisive defeat that Saudi Arabia began a massive campaign for the recruitment of jihadi fighters via the network of the Muslim Brotherhoods evil twin sister Al-Qaeda.
The International Crisis Group responded by publishing its report ”Tentative Jihad”. Washington had to make an attempt to distance itself ”politically” from the ”extremists”. Plan B, the chemical weapons plan was hedged but it became obvious that the war on Syria was not winnable anymore.” (“The Atlantic Axis and the Making of a War in Ukraine“, New eastern Outlook)
There were other factors that pushed the US towards a conflagration with Moscow in Ukraine, but the driving force was the fact that US rivals (Russia and Iran) stood to be the dominant players in an energy war that would increasingly erode Washington’s power. Further economic integration between Europe and Russia poses a direct threat to US plans to pivot to Asia, deploy NATO to Russia’s borders, and to continue to denominate global energy supplies in US dollars.
Lehmann notes that he had a conversation with “a top-NATO admiral from a northern European country” who clarified the situation in a terse, two-sentence summary of US foreign policy. He said:
“American colleagues at the Pentagon told me, unequivocally, that the US and UK never would allow European – Soviet relations to develop to such a degree that they would challenge the US/UK’s political, economic or military primacy and hegemony on the European continent. Such a development will be prevented by all necessary means, if necessary by provoking a war in central Europe”.
This is the crux of the issue. The United States is not going to allow any state or combination of states to challenge its dominance. Washington doesn’t want rivals. It wants to be the undisputed, global superpower, which is the point that Paul Wolfowitz articulated in an early draft of the US National Defense Strategy:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
So the Obama administration is going to do whatever it thinks is necessary to stop further EU-Russia economic integration and to preserve the petrodollar system. That system originated in 1974 when President Richard Nixon persuaded OPEC members to denominate their oil exclusively in dollars, and to recycle their surplus oil proceeds into U.S. Treasuries. The arrangement turned out to be a huge windfall for the US, which rakes in more than $1 billion per day via the process. This, in turn, allows the US to over-consume and run hefty deficits. Other nations must stockpile dollars to purchase the energy that runs their machinery, heats their homes and fuels their vehicles. Meanwhile, the US can breezily exchange paper currency, which it can print at no-expense to itself, for valuable imported goods that cost dearly in terms of labor and materials. These dollars then go into purchasing oil or natural gas, the profits of which are then recycled back into USTs or other dollar-denominated assets such as U.S. stocks, bonds, real estate, or ETFs. This is the virtuous circle that keeps the US in the top spot.
As one critic put it: “World trade is now a game in which the US produces dollars and the rest of the world produces things that dollars can buy.”
The petrodollar system helps to maintain the dollar’s monopoly pricing which, in turn, sustains the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It creates excessive demand for dollars which allows the Fed to expand the nation’s credit by dramatically reducing the cost of financing. If oil and natural gas were no longer denominated in USDs, the value of the dollar would fall sharply, the bond market would collapse, and the US economy would slip into a long-term slump.
This is one of the reasons why the US invaded Iraq shortly after Saddam had switched over to the euro; because it considers any challenge to the petrodollar looting scam as a direct threat to US national security.
Moscow is aware of Washington’s Achilles’s heel and is making every effort to exploit that weakness by reducing its use of the dollar in its trade agreements. So far, Moscow has persuaded China and Iran to drop the dollar in their bilateral dealings, and they have found that other trading partners are eager to do the same. Recently, Russian economic ministers conducted a “de-dollarization” meeting in which a “currency switch executive order” was issued stating that “the government has the legal power to force Russian companies to trade a percentage of certain goods in rubles.”
Last week, according to RT:
“The Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments. “The draft document between the Central Bank of Russia and the People’s Bank of China on national currency swaps has been agreed by the parties…..The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China,” the Russian regulator said.
Currently, over 75 percent of payments in Russia-China trade settlements are made in US dollars, according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.” (“De-Dollarization Accelerates – China/Russia Complete Currency Swap Agreement“, Zero Hedge)
The attack on the petrodollar recycling system is one of many asymmetrical strategies Moscow is presently employing to discourage US aggression, to defend its sovereignty, and to promote a multi-polar world order where the rule of law prevails. The Kremlin is also pushing for institutional changes that will help to level the playing field instead of creating an unfair advantage for the richer countries like the US. Naturally, replacing the IMF, whose exploitative loans and punitive policies, topped the list for most of the emerging market nations, particularly the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) who, in July, agreed to create a $100 billion Development Bank that will “will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar. The new bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size.
According to RT:
“The big launch of the BRICS bank is seen as a first step to break the dominance of the US dollar in global trade, as well as dollar-backed institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both US-based institutions BRICS countries have little influence within…
“This mechanism creates the foundation for an effective protection of our national economies from a crisis in financial markets,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.”
(“BRICS establish $100bn bank and currency pool to cut out Western dominance“, RT)
It’s clear that Washington’s aggression in Ukraine has focused Moscow’s attention on retaliation. But rather than confront the US militarily, as Obama and Co. would prefer, Putin is taking aim at the vulnerabilities within the system. A BRICS Development Bank challenges the IMF’s dominant role as lender of last resort, a role that has enhanced the power of the wealthy countries and their industries. The new bank creates the basis for real institutional change, albeit, still within the pervasive capitalist framework.
Russian politician and economist, Sergei Glazyev, summarized Moscow’s approach to the US-Russia conflagration in an essay titled “US is militarizing Ukraine to invade Russia.” Here’s an excerpt:
“To stop the war, you need to terminate its driving forces. At this stage, the war unfolds mainly in the planes of economic, public relations and politics. All the power of US economic superiority is based on the financial pyramid of debt, and this has gone long beyond sustainability. Its major lenders are collapsing enough to deprive the US market of accumulated US dollars and Treasury bonds. Of course, the collapse of the US financial system will cause serious losses to all holders of US currency and securities. But first, these losses for Russia, Europe and China will be less than the losses caused by American geopolitics unleashing another world war. Secondly, the sooner the exit from the financial obligations of this American pyramid, the less will be the losses. Third, the collapse of the dollar Ponzi scheme gives an opportunity, finally, to reform the global financial system on the basis of equity and mutual benefit.”
Washington thinks “modern warfare” involves covert support for proxy armies comprised of Neo Nazis and Islamic extremists. Moscow thinks modern warfare means undermining the enemy’s ability to wage war through sustained attacks on it’s currency, its institutions, its bond market, and its ability to convince its allies that it is a responsible steward of the global economic system.
I’ll put my money on Russia.
During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position where we had to defend the Soviet Union because the US government was using that country as a battering ram against us. Now we sometimes have to defend Russia because it may be the last best hope of stopping TETATW (The Empire That Ate The World). Yes, during Cold War One we knew enough about Stalin, the show trials, and the gulags. But we also knew about US foreign policy.
E-mail sent to the Washington Post July 23, 2014 about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:
Your July 22 editorial was headed: “Russia’s barbarism. The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state.”
Pretty strong language. Vicious, even. Not one word of hard evidence in the editorial to back it up. Then, the next day, the Associated Press reported:
Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for ‘creating the conditions’ that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. … the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.
Where were these words in the Post? You people are behaving like a rogue newspaper.
– William Blum
I don’t have to tell you whether the Post printed my letter. I’ve been reading the paper for 25 years – six years during Vietnam (1964-1970) and the last 19 years (1995-2014) – usually spending about three hours each day reading it very carefully. And I can say that when it comes to US foreign policy the newspaper is worse now than I can remember it ever was during those 25 years. It’s reached the point where, as one example, I don’t take at face value a word the Post has to say about Ukraine. Same with the State Department, which makes one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s wholly inconclusive and/or unsourced or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. Do they have something to hide?
The State Department’s Public Affairs spokespersons making these presentations exhibit little regard or respect for the reporters asking challenging questions. It takes my thoughts back to the Vietnam era and Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the reporters exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government,” Sylvester replied: “That’s exactly what I expect,” adding: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.”
Such frankness might be welcomed today as a breath of fresh air compared to the painful-to-observe double-talk of a State Department spokesperson.
My personal breath of fresh air in recent years has been the television station RT (formerly Russia Today). On a daily basis many progressives from around the world (myself included occasionally) are interviewed and out of their mouths come facts and analyses that are rarely heard on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox News, BBC, etc. The words of these progressives heard on RT are typically labeled by the mainstream media as “Russian propaganda”, whereas I, after a long lifetime of American propaganda, can only think: “Of course. What else are they going to call it?”
As for Russia being responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Flight 17, we should keep in mind that the current series of events in Ukraine was sparked in February when a US-supported coup overthrew the democratically-elected government and replaced it with one that was more receptive to the market-fundamentalism dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union. Were it not for the coup there would have been no eastern rebellion to put down and no dangerous war zone for Flight 17 to be flying over in the first place.
The new regime has had another charming feature: a number of outspoken neo-Nazis in high and low positions, a circumstance embarrassing enough for the US government and mainstream media to turn it into a virtual non-event. US Senator John McCain met and posed for photos with the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok (photos easily found on the Internet). Ukraine – whose ties to Naziism go back to World War Two when their homegrown fascists supported Germany and opposed the Soviet Union – is on track to becoming the newest part of the US-NATO military encirclement of Russia and possibly the home of the region’s newest missile base, target Moscow.
It is indeed possible that Flight 17 was shot down by the pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine in the mistaken belief that it was the Ukrainian air force returning to carry out another attack. But other explanations are suggested in a series of questions posed by Russia to the the Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly, accompanied by radar information, satellite images, and other technical displays:
“Why was a military aircraft flying in a civil aviation airway at almost the same time and the same altitude as a civilian passenger aircraft? We would like to have this question answered.”
“Earlier, Ukrainian officials stated that on the day of the accident no Ukrainian military aircraft were flying in that area. As you can see, that is not true.”
“We also have a question for our American colleagues. According to a statement by American officials, the United States has satellite images which show that the missile aimed at the Malaysian aircraft was launched by the militants. But no one has seen these images.”
There is also this intriguing speculation, which ties in to the first Russian question above. A published analysis by a retired Lufthansa pilot points out that Flight 17 looked similar in its tricolor design to that of Russian President Putin’s plane, whose plane with him on board was at the same time “near” Flight 17. In aviation circles “near” would be considered to be anywhere between 150 to 200 miles. Could Putin’s plane have been the real target?
There is as well other serious and plausible questioning of the official story of Russia and/or Ukrainian anti-Kiev militias being responsible for the shootdown. Is Flight 17 going to become the next JFK Assassination, PanAm 103, or 9-11 conspiracy theory that lingers forever? Will the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Syrian chemical weapons be joined by the Russian anti-aircraft missile? Stay tuned.
Will they EVER leave Cuba alone? No.
The latest exposed plot to overthrow the Cuban government … Oh, pardon me, I mean the latest exposed plot to bring democracy to Cuba …
Our dear friends at the Agency For International Development (USAID), having done so well with their covert sub-contractor Alan Gross, now in his fifth year in Cuban custody … and their “Cuban Twitter” project, known as ZunZuneo, exposed in 2012, aimed at increasing the flow of information amongst the supposedly information-starved Cubans, which drew in subscribers unaware that the service was paid for by the US government … and now, the latest exposure, a project which sent about a dozen Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of stirring up a rebellion; the travelers worked clandestinely, using the cover of health and civic programs, or posing as tourists, going around the island, on a mission to “identify potential social-change actors” to turn into political activists. Can you believe that? Can you believe the magnitude of naiveté? Was it a conviction that American exceptionalism would somehow work its magic? Do they think the Cuban people are a bunch of children just waiting for a wise adult to come along and show them what to think and how to behave?
One of these latest USAID contracts was signed only days after Gross was detained, thus indicating little concern for the safety of their employees/agents. As part of the preparation of these individuals, USAID informed them: “Although there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.”
It’s most ironic. The US government could not say as much about most of their allies, who frequently make use of physical abuse. Indeed, the statement could not be made in regard to almost any American police force. But it’s this Cuba that doesn’t beat or torture detainees that is the enemy to be reformed and punished without mercy … 55 years and counting.
The United States and torture
Two of the things that governments tend to cover-up or lie about the most are assassinations and torture, both of which are widely looked upon as exceedingly immoral and unlawful, even uncivilized. Since the end of the Second World War the United States has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders and has led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance and encouragement by American instructors, particularly in Latin America.
Thus it is somewhat to the credit of President Obama that at his August 1 press conference he declared “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”
And he actually used the word “torture” at that moment, not “enhanced interrogation”, which has been the euphemism of preference the past decade, although two minutes later the president used “extraordinary interrogation techniques”. And “tortured some folks” makes me wince. The man is clearly uncomfortable with the subject.
But all this is minor. Much more important is the fact that for several years Mr. Obama’s supporters have credited him with having put an end to the practice of torture. And they simply have no right to make that claim.
Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.”
The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, to name some of the known torture centers frequented by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business. The same for the Guantánamo Base in Cuba.
Moreover, the Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22, 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?
The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions.
After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had “left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ – picking terrorism suspects off the street and sending them to a third country. But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions ‘that violate our human values’.”
The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely because they were willing and able to torture them.
No official in the Bush and Obama administrations has been punished in any way for torture or other war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the other countries they waged illegal war against. And, it could be added, no American bankster has been punished for their indispensable role in the world-wide financial torture they inflicted upon us all beginning in 2008. What a marvelously forgiving land is America. This, however, does not apply to Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, or Chelsea Manning.
In the last days of the Bush White House, Michael Ratner, professor at Columbia Law School and former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, pointed out:
The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don’t see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable.
I’d like at this point to once again remind my dear readers of the words of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, which was drafted by the United Nations in 1984, came into force in 1987, and ratified by the United States in 1994. Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity.
The Convention Against Torture has been and remains the supreme law of the land. It is a cornerstone of international law and a principle on a par with the prohibition against slavery and genocide.
“Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.” – United States Attorney General Eric Holder, July 26, 2013
John Brennan, appointed by President Obama in January 2013 to be Director of the CIA, has defended “rendition” as an “absolutely vital tool”; and stated that torture had produced “life saving” intelligence.
Obama had nominated Brennan for the CIA position in 2008, but there was such an outcry in the human-rights community over Brennan’s apparent acceptance of torture, that Brennan withdrew his nomination. Barack Obama evidently learned nothing from this and appointed the man again in 2013.
During Cold War One, a common theme in the rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions, and did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the Communist state. As much as any other evil, torture differentiated the bad guys, the Commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the US system might be – we were all taught – it had civilized standards that the enemy rejected.
Just because you have a right to do something does not make it right.
The city of Detroit in recent months has been shutting off the supply of water to city residents who have not paid their water bills. This action affects more than 40% of the customers of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, bringing great inconvenience and threats to the health and sanitation of between 200 and 300 thousand residents. Protests have of course sprung up in the city, with “Water is a human right!” as a leading theme.
Who can argue with that? Well, neo-conservatives and other true believers in the capitalist system who maintain that if you receive the benefit of a product or service, you pay for it. What could be simpler? What are you, some kind of socialist?
For those of you who have difficulty believing that an American city could be so insensitive, allow me to remind you of some history.
On December 14, 1981 a resolution was proposed in the United Nations General Assembly which declared that “education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights”. Notice the “proper nourishment”. The resolution was approved by a vote of 135-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.
A year later, December 18, 1982, an identical resolution was proposed in the General Assembly. It was approved by a vote of 131-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.
The following year, December 16, 1983, the resolution was again put forth, a common practice at the United Nations. This time it was approved by a vote of 132-1. There’s no need to tell you who cast the sole “No” vote.
These votes took place under the Reagan administration.
Under the Clinton administration, in 1996, a United Nations-sponsored World Food Summit affirmed the “right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food”. The United States took issue with this, insisting that it does not recognize a “right to food”. Washington instead championed free trade as the key to ending the poverty at the root of hunger, and expressed fears that recognition of a “right to food” could lead to lawsuits from poor nations seeking aid and special trade provisions.
The situation of course did not improve under the administration of George W. Bush. In 2002, in Rome, world leaders at another UN-sponsored World Food Summit again approved a declaration that everyone had the right to “safe and nutritious food”. The United States continued to oppose the clause, again fearing it would leave them open to future legal claims by famine-stricken countries.
I’m waiting for a UN resolution affirming the right to oxygen.
- See various examples at RT.com, such as “Jen Psaki’s most embarrassing fails, most entertaining grillings”, or simply search the site for “Ukraine Jen Psaki”
- Congressional Record (House of Representatives), May 12, 1966, pp. 9977-78, reprint of an article by Morley Safer of CBS News
- “Letter dated 22 July 2014 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General”, released by the UN 24 July, Document No. A/68/954-S/2014/524
- “Pre-WWIII German Pilot Shocker, MH17 ‘Not Hit By Missile’”, Before It’s News, July 31 2014
- Associated Press, August 4, 2014
- Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
- New York Times, February 6, 2009
- Associated Press, November 17, 2008
- Associated Press, November 26, 2008
- Washington Post, November 18, 1996
- Reuters news agency, June 10, 2002
“In acting, sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” (George Burns)
Reality is a psychological operation.
Socio-political reality basically means some group has force, money, and access to fawning media. They can define what exists.
A psyop depends on being able to engineer one story line.
A psyop depends on selling one centralized story.
If, magically, overnight, you found yourself in possession of overwhelming force and a direct pipeline to elite media anchors, you could tell your story about what exists, and you would find millions of people believing you.
What would happen if the three major networks, each with considerable power, had come up with three vastly different versions of the Boston massacre?
CBS: “FBI and local police killed one terrorist and captured the other in what observers are calling one of the bravest days in the history of law enforcement in America.”
NBC: “After a violent gun battle on the streets of a great American city, during which a suspect in the Boston massacre was killed, an FBI source stunningly revealed the Bureau had shifted the blame on to their own cooperating informants. The source put it this way: ‘The Tsarnaev brothers were recruited by a secret Bureau unit to plant the bombs. The plan was to blame the bombing on so-called patriots, but that fell through, so the Bureau exercised their only option. They put their own informants front and center and called them terrorists…’”
ABC: “Today, the tragic loss of life and wounding of more than 180 persons at the Boston Marathon were partially redeemed, when, amazingly, Boston police traced three pipe bombs to a CIA storage locker in Maryland…”
Suppose, in the midst of an uproar heard and echoed around the world, the networks stood by their contradictory versions of events and wouldn’t back down?
A massive blow would hit psyop-land. Centralized story? Poleaxed.
People wouldn’t know what to do. They expect one story line and they get three, from the highest hypnotic and influential media giants.
In a literal, though unconscious, sense, familiar time and space begin to fall apart.
But actually, it’s far more surreal for the three major television networks to agree on the substance of every significant event than to come to radically different conclusions.
Unfortunately, people don’t see it that way. They don’t see that three behemoths dispensing the same information are key elements in thought-police fascism. They don’t see that the consensus is arranged.
“Bargain price! We’ll shave down your perceptual field so you can fit in with eight billion androids. You’ll never miss what you can’t see. On a scale from 0 to 10, your creative impulse will be coming in at about .06. That’ll cement you right into the limited spectrum, where all the action is. Yes, folks, there really is a sense of family in this reality. People liking people. We’re all in this together. Remember, life is better when you see what we want you to see! It takes the pressure off. Do you really care about what you think? Don’t you want to be fixed, so you can think what everybody else thinks? Now that’s a real program. Once we lock you in and reshuffle your electromagnetic fields, you’ll emerge with our new Sameness system. You’ll see what your friends see with just a bit of difference, to make it interesting…”
In a country in which art has little or no perceived value, there’s a sucker born every millisecond. Why? Because when consciousness of art is nil, people accept official art, which is always present, as the guiding and only reality. And of course, they don’t see it as art.
“Things can’t be any other way. This is it.”
Nowhere is this truer than in television news.
It’s not only the content of news that is embraced, it’s the style, the manner of presentation—and in the long run, the presentation is far more corrosive, far more deadly than the content.
The imitations of life called anchors are the arbiters of style. How they speak, how they look, how they themselves experience emotion—all this is planted deep in the brains of the viewers.
Most of America can’t imagine the evening news could look and sound any other way.
That’s how solid the long-term brainwashing is.
The elite anchors, from John Daly, in the early days of television, all the way to Brian Williams and Scott Pelley, have set the tone. They define the genre.
The elite anchor is not a person filled with passion or curiosity. Therefore, the audience doesn’t have to be passionate or filled with curiosity, either.
The anchor is not a demanding voice on the air; therefore, the audience doesn’t have to be demanding.
The anchor isn’t hell-bent on uncovering the truth. For this he substitutes a false dignity. Therefore, the audience can surrender its need to wrestle with the truth and replace that with a false dignity of its own.
The anchor takes propriety to an extreme: it’s unmannerly to look below the surface of things. Therefore, the audience adopts those manners.
The anchor inserts an actor’s style into what should instead be a relentless reporter’s forward motion. Therefore, the audience can remain content in its own related role: watching the actor.
The anchor taps into, and mimics, that part of the audience’s psyche that wants smooth delivery of superficial cause and effect.
Night after night, the anchor, working from a long tradition, confirms that he is delivering the news as it should be delivered, in both style and substance. The audience bows before the tradition and before him.
From their perch, the elite television anchors can deign to allow a trickle of sympathy here, a slice of compassion there.
But they let the audience know that objectivity is their central mission. “We have to get the story right. You can rely on us for that.”
This is the great PR arch of national network news. “These facts are what’s really happening and we’re giving them to you.” The networks spend untold millions to convey that false assurance.
The elite anchor must pretend to believe the narrow parameters and boundaries of a story are all there is. There is no deeper meaning. There is no abyss waiting to swallow whole a major story and reveal it as a hoax. No. Never.
With this conviction in tow, the anchor can fiddle and diddle with details.
The network anchor is the wizard of Is. He keeps explaining what is. “Here’s something that is, and then over here we have something else that is, and now, just in, a new thing that is.” He lays down miles of “is-concrete” to pave over deeper, uncomfortable, unimaginable truth.
The anchor is quite satisfied to obtain all his information from “reputable sources.” This mainly means government and corporate spokespeople. Not a problem.
Every other source, for the anchor, is murky and unreliable. He doesn’t have to worry his pretty little head about whether his sources are, indeed, trustworthy. He calculates it this way: if government and corporations are releasing information, that means there is news to report.
What the FBI director has to say is news whether it’s true or false, because the director said it. So why not blur over the mile-wide distinction between “he spoke the truth” and “he spoke”?
On air, the anchor is neutral, a castratus, a eunuch.
This is a time-honored ancient tradition. The eunuch, by his diminished condition, has the trust of the ruler. He guards the emperor’s inner sanctum. He acts as a buffer between his master and the people. He applies the royal seal to official documents.
Essentially, the anchor is saying, “See, I’m ascetic in the service of truth. Why would I hamstring myself this way unless my mission is sincere objectivity?” And the public buys it.
All expressed shades of emotion occur and are managed within that persona of the dependable court eunuch. The anchor who can move the closest to the line of being human without actually arriving there is the champion. These days, it’s Brian Williams.
The vibrating string between eunuch and human is the frequency that makes an anchor great. Think Cronkite, Chet Huntley, Edward R Murrow. Huntley was a just a touch too masculine, so they teamed him up with David Brinkley, a medium-boiled egg. Brinkley supplied twinkles of comic relief.
The public expects to hear that vibrating string. It’s been conditioned by many hard nights at the tube, watching the news. When Diane Sawyer goes too far and begins dribbling (alcohol? tranqs?) on her collar, that’s soap opera, and the audience loves soap opera, too.
The cable news networks don’t really have anyone who qualifies as an elite anchor. Wolf Blitzer of CNN made his bones during the first Iraq war only because his name fit the bombing action so well. Brit Hume of FOX has more anchor authority than anyone now working in network television, but he’s semi-retired, content to play the role of contributor, because he knows the news is a scam on wheels.
There are other reasons for “voice-neutrality” of the anchor. Neutrality conveys a sense of science. “We did the experiment in the lab and this is how it turned out.”
Neutrality gives assurance that everything is under control. And neutrality implies: the nation is so powerful we don’t need to trumpet our facts; we don’t need to become excited; our strength is that secure.
Neutrality implies: this is a democracy; an anchor is no more important than the next person (and yet he is—another contradiction, swallowed).
Neutrality implies: we, the news division, don’t have to make money (a lie); we’re not like the cop shows; we’re on a higher plane; we’re performing a public service; we’re like a responsible charity.
The anchor is the answer to the age-old question about the people. Do the people really want to suck in superficial cause and effect and surface detail, or do they want deeper truth? Do the people want comfortable gigantic lies, or do they want to look behind the curtain?
The anchor, of course, goes for surface only.
The anchor is so accustomed to lying and so accustomed to pretending the lies are true that he wouldn’t know how to shift gears.
“Well, folks, our top story tonight…it turns out that IG Farben, a famous chemical and pharmaceutical octopus that put Hitler over the top in Germany, was instrumental in planning what became the EU, the European Union. In other words, today’s United Europe is World War Two by other means.”
I don’t think Williams, Pelley, or Sawyer could deliver that line without going into a terminal paroxysm.
At the end of the Roman Empire, when the whole structure was coming apart, a brilliant and devious decision was made at the top. The Empire would proceed according to a completely different plan. Instead of continuing to stretch its resources to the breaking point with military conquests, it would attack the mind.
It would establish the Roman Church and write new spiritual law. These laws and an overriding cosmology would be dispensed, in land after land, by official “eunuchs.” Men who, distanced from the usual human appetites, would automatically gain the trust of the people.
These priests would “deliver the news.” They would be the elite anchors, who would translate God’s orders and revelations to the public.
By edict, no one would be able to communicate with God, except through these “trusted ones.” Therefore, in a sense, the priest was actually higher on the ladder of power than God Himself.
In fact, it would fall to the new Church to reinterpret all of history, writing it as a series of symbolic clues that revealed and confirmed Church doctrine (story line).
Today, people are believers because the popular stories are delivered by contemporary castrati, every night on the evening news.
If these castrati say a virus is threatening the world, and if they are backed up by neutral castrati bishops, the medical scientists, and if those medical scientists are supported by public health bureaucrats, the cardinals, and if the cardinals are given a wink and a nod by the President, the Pope, and if the Pope has just issued a missive warning that anyone with a lung infection can be isolated and quarantined, the Program is working.
Reality is a psyop.
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails atwww.nomorefakenews.com
Source: Jon Rappoport
And Why the Facts Matter Now…
Part One of Four…
“I’m not a journalist and the facts don’t matter.” - Rayelan Allen, RMN owner and editor
“All politics is personal,” or “the personal is political.” Early feminist sayings
In November of 2002 we had been lied to about Weapons of Mass Destruction, the reason given for invading Iraq, resistance to the war was waning. Standing in the way, though this was not publicly known at the time, was Saddam Hussein, who was very willing to leave Iraq forever – if he was paid.
Paying him off would have been far cheaper than the cost of the war. But it would not have accomplished the real goals.
The real drive for war was oil and the dollar. The details were carried out by a group of people who had no conscience, willing to lie themselves into power and lie, cheat, steal and kill, to keep it. Together, they have changed our world, bringing us to the precipice of destruction. These are the acts of individuals who behave in exactly the same way in their personal lives. I know.
The build up to war, constructed by the Bush White House, took place as events in my own life played out in shocking ways but which proved to be highly informative in a horrible way.
The strategies used by those I was forced to deal with personally were the same as those used by the NeoCons who were driving us to war. At the time, I was fighting to protect my daughter, Morgan, from the consequences of her life-long bad behavior and judgment. Later, I realized this was not possible.
She is a psychopath acting on the mistaken belief she can get away with anything. Harming others, or even killing them, was perfectly acceptable to her.
Our internal values determine all parts of our lives and for all parts we are responsible and accountable.
How many people died because of the War in Iraq and the lies told to us? At least a million and a half, though the total is probably higher.
How many people misdirected their life efforts through patriotic fervor incited by people who had intentionally used the symbols and language of honor to defraud us? The number is unbearably high.
How many of us have struggled to understand how this could have happened?
Hold the impact of the war and how this was accomplished in mind as we consider what happened from the time this story began in 1997 until the invasion of Iraq began in the spring of 2003.
I first became active in politics during the Goldwater campaign. My goal was to achieve social justice and individual empowerment. While pursing these goals I joined the Libertarian Party in 1974. I managed campaigns, ran for office, did fundraising and organized. I left when it was clear the Kochs had destroyed any potential for effective action in 1988.
I studied the problem of organizations while remaining active. In 1997 I was a Regent for the National Federation of Republican Women and coping with the continuing crises generated by my husband, Craig Franklin. Not filing his taxes, when he owed nothing, was typical of Craig’s irresponsible behavior. I wrote this article about what we called, “The Tax Crisis,” in 2008. You’re Not Paranoid – The IRS is out to get you.
After I solved the problem Craig decided to leave me and take all the money with him.
Beginning in 1997 Morgan, who had committed the incredibly ugly act of working with Craig to defraud me of millions of dollars during our divorce, had, in October of 1998, started a sexual relationship with an old boy friend of mine, John Fund, then on the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal. She wanted a rich husband and decided he would do.
Always ambitious, she had emerged from her childhood, which had traumatized her entire family, functionally illiterate – and her previous prospect for marital bounty,Eugene Volokh, had flown the coop the month before.
She was actually traveling with my estranged husband, on a tour of New York, London, and Paris, when she and John started their affair. Would she have hesitated if she had known how promiscuous John had become, enabled by the power accrued as a NeoCon operative? Probably not. But she might have played things differently.
John Fund was placed at the WSJ in 1984 by connections who maintained close ties with the people who were already working to put Bush in office by stealing the election in 2000. Positioned as a journalist he is actually a political operative, his first experiences in this coming through the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over the Libertarian Party.
Taking up with your mother’s former boy friend, someone you have referred to as ‘Uncle John’ since you were a child, is scandalous behavior, there is no other word for it. This type of behavior is normal for Morgan.
I had no idea this was going on because I was thousands of miles away caring for my oldest son, Arthur, who had attempted suicide by shooting himself through the brain on March 22, 1998. It would be another year before he would be able to even go to the bathroom himself. My entire focus was on his care.
Morgan and I were not talking because her deviousness and lies had included attempting to persuade me she needed a heart transplant in an attempt to get me to turn off her brother’s life support. She called me to ask for his heart. This happened, I later realized, soon after she had been paid $10,000 to do this by my estranged husband, Craig Franklin.
One of the reasons psychopaths get away with so much is our inability to believe the ugliness of their real motives. This is also true in politics.
When John started his liaison with Morgan he expected a job as speechwriter for the Bush administration, still two years in the future. They were already discussing war with Iraq. John would assist, pushing the agenda in the media.
After years of dealing with Morgan I knew not to believe her if she did not offer proof but I had no reason to distrust John. So, in September, 1999, for practically the only time in her life, Morgan told the truth, with proof.
Puzzled at the persistent rumors about a relationship between her and John, I called to ask him. John and I had been chatting regularly for over twenty years. Asked about the relationship he expressed shock. He denied it, saying he had fed her cat for her once or twice. I believed him. He was completely persuasive, giving the impression of absolute openness.
It was the WeaselSearch Tape, recorded by Morgan in September of 1999, which changed my mind.
This is a man who helped lie us into war. His personal ethics match the ones he uses professionally.
One afternoon that September Morgan called me to beg for help. She was broke and about to be evicted from her apartment in Jersey City. John, she said, had forced her to abort his baby the previous March and then dumped her. A heated discussion ensued as I relayed to her my recent conversation with John.
Hearing a call coming in, Morgan put me on hold. It was John. She recorded her conversation with him. You can listen to it on the tape above. A few minutes later I had heard the whole of it.
I was stunned and confronted him on the phone soon afterward. He hung up on me. His cover blown he moved to the next strategy, distancing.
As a result of a fax I sent to the WSJ moments later, the job as a speechwriter for the Bush White House, already being promised, vanished. The fax, I was told, was copied at least five times on its way to his office.
The illusion of family values needed to be retained.
Instead of a job in the White House, which John had earned through his work as an operative for the NeoCons, then coming to power, he was told to write a book about how liberals steal elections. This would provide cover for the electronic hacking about to begin.
Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, would be published September 24, 2004.
The relationship between John and Morgan seemed to stabilize for a while. Fund spent nearly half his time at the apartment I rented in NY at the Rivergate. I was rarely there. John told me he intended to marry Morgan, who he said really loved. I wished them well, glad they had come to some resolution.
But then, in December of 2000 Morgan realized he was sneaking into my empty room to call other women, including Federal judge Diane Sykes, late at night. He left emails where Morgan could find them.
I received copies of these from Morgan via email. This one, Fund sent on July 22 this same year, was typical.
Morgan’s relationship with John continued, headed for rockier and rockier ground as the number of ‘other women’ Morgan discovered increased.
Despite this, they moved in together in Jersey City in July of 2001, just days after Morgan had vented to John Connolly of Vanity Fair. From those interviews Connolly wrote an article titled, “Sex, Lies and the Tape.” Over my objections Morgan had given him a copy of the tape she had made in 1999.
The article was published September 4, 2001, along with the tape.
Connolly had arranged for the article to be published in Talk Magazine – but Fund intimidated Tina Brown into canceling the story by having his attorney, John J. Walsh, call and make threats. Walsh later billed for services, producing this letter. Morgan also found a Work Memo later.
Instead, the article was published only online on a site called WeaselSearch, from which it got its name. When the site folded it was hosted on American Politics Journal, where it is today.
What Fund did to stop publication is standard operating procedure for NeoCons. He used this later against me.
But because the article refuted the lies John had continued to tell, a scandal erupted anyway.
Understandably, this event did not contribute to bliss in John and Morgan’s relationship but the reasons were far more complex than just one little article.
Morgan called me, outraged. She had refurbished John’s apartment at his request and he was refusing to pay her back. When she moved in the utilities had been turned off because of his non-payment and the plumbing did not work. I made her produce the receipts since I still did not trust her. She kept track of payment for cleaning supplies and repairs, which were complete before she told me John was battering her in the later part of September.
The violence, she later said, had begun one evening after an event at the ALEC Conference in New York in early August.
I had hoped the relationship would work out. To say it didn’t vastly understates the case.
I did not believe her until I heard it happening over the phone, which happened in late September. When I heard John’s demonic glee as he pounded her I felt obligated to take action. As I have said, Morgan lies. Another friend of her’s, Eric Buchanan, confirmed he had also heard this taking place on another occasion. Both of us advised Morgan to leave him. She refused.
During this time Carol Divine Molin, a Republican Woman, called me to express concern for Morgan as a battered woman. She told me she counseled women who had been battered.
Then it came out that her motive was reigniting her brief fling with Fund by assisting him with Morgan. The fling had taken place some time earlier, after Fund spoke to a group to which Molin belonged. Liking what she saw, evidently, she took him home with her. Fund’s parting words were, by report, “You got to swallow.”
We learned Molin had complained to the management at the Wall Street Journal about how she had been treated the year before.
The beatings continued. Morgan filed police reports in New Jersey.
Morgan became aware John was still lying about their relationship, saying he barely knew her, while she was living with him. At one point she used her cell phone so I could hear him telling these lies to Lloyd Grove from the Washington Post.
Listening to him lie was stunning. Again, I begged her to leave.
After she found even more emails, from a growing list of other women, she agreed. The emails included these between him and Michele Davis, on January 13th and 18th, and this Email, revealing the sexual relationship he had begun with law professor Gail Heriot, also on the 13th of January.
Christine Hall Reis, a new bride, offered the services of herself and her friend, Julie Currie, from Kroll Opposition Research to John on January 21, 2002. Christine had sent an unusual photo of herself to John, which he printed and left on the floor, where Morgan found it.
Morgan moved out of the apartment in Jersey City and into an apartment I rented for her in New York around January 24 – 26, 2002. I breathed a sigh of relief, but it was not over. The craziness escalated.
John found out where Morgan was living and moved in with her. He left a litter of papers there, some of which Morgan scanned and sent me to prove this was happening. This letter from Fidelity Investments is dated January 25, 2002. Morgan picked it up off the floor in her Manhattan apartment after John left it there. Another incident of battery soon took place just moments before I arrived at the apartment. When I walked in I saw Morgan bloodied and bruised.
The New York police report was filed.
John had been told by his two closest friends, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, who occupied adjacent spaces on his speed dial, he needed to provide evidence Morgan had lied. Which she might well have done. But there were witnesses. Buchanan and I had heard beatings take place and were ignored by authorities. Neither of us were ever called though the authorities knew we were witnesses.
Fund received help from some of the other women in his life. A few of these were victims themselves, unaware of what was really happening and are not named. Others, like Gail Heriot, whose relationship with Fund began in a hotel room in December of 2001 or January of 2002, assisted in building the website Fund used to insert lies into public view and wrote letters for him, libeling both Morgan and myself.
Desperate, we sought help from people who were politically at odds with the NeoCons. One of these individuals was Sidney Blumenthal.
It was at this time Blumenthal put a keylogger on Morgan’s computer to steal information about Fund. He had refused to help, trying to persuade her it was enough to expose him politically. So Morgan returned the keylogger favor, against my advice.
While she can’t write a literate sentence Morgan was a wiz with computers. It was this act which would expose to us the strategy adopted by the Bush White House to ensure the War in Iraq was not stopped in November of 2002.
An attempt to kill Morgan took place in May, 2002. I heard this over the phone as the key turned in the door of her apartment. Morgan threw herself against it and engaged the dead bolt. I believed her. She is not that good an actress.
Then, she went into hiding with a couple in Georgia.
As the campaign to sell the fiction of Weapons of Mass Destruction was hammered into accepted fact Morgan was following Sidney via his emails and reading early chapters of his book, Clinton’s War. Occasionally she would forward me a copy.
By November war appeared to be inevitable. Then, Morgan called me and asked if U-Day was something like E-Bay. The keylogger had turned up something with more surprises than Blumenthal’s book.
Saddam, in communication with Blumenthal, wanted to cut a deal to be paid to leave so war would not be necessary. I had the origin of the email checked out and the expert said it had come from the Emirates and Baghdad was a likely source.
The appointed agents for insuring Saddam would stay put were the Clintons and their old friend, Sidney Blumenthal. This activism on their parts is likely the real source of the largess which flowed into the Clinton coffers, not Hillary’s public speaking abilities or investment savvy.
The previous January Fund had forced Morgan to sign a ‘confession’ saying no abuse had taken place. The documents were dated January 24, 2002, just before she moved out.
Evidently, Fund promised to pay her what he owned her if she signed and, stupidly, she did. Since an accounting of what Fund owed matched what was asked if you add in the outdated checks Morgan found while cleaning, which Fund had given her, it is likely Rove and Cheney decided this was not enough ‘proof’ to be persuasive.
Eric and I knew the statement was hogwash and would have so testified.
The real campaign to destroy our credibility began in 2003, after Fund’s friends realized they had more than one political operation to protect. They needed to protect John, a pivotal political operative, and the truth about Saddam.
So evidence was sought and obtained through trade with those holding it.
Craig, my former husband, was Senior Vice President of Green Hills Software, Inc. He and the company’s president, Dan O’Dowd, had made a deal in 1997 to defraud their partners. Dan would have a fake stock option agreement made to deny me a marital share during our divorce and Craig would lead a walk out to keep Glenn Hightower, Dan’s partner, from exercising his buy out option when Dan exercised it and made him an offer.
Morgan had supplied a recording of Craig gloating about this and in late 1999 I had filed a law suit. Morgan gave a deposition on February 22, 2001. The suit settled and the deposition was never certified, making it illegal to copy.
Green Hills Software, LLC. exchanged a copy of this deposition for defense contracts. Today, Green Hills Software, Inc. is a billion dollar company heavily into drone technology and supplying the Military Industrial Complex.
The campaign to destroy our credibility began in early 2003.
On January 23, 2003 Fund filed an answer to Morgan’s law suit in New York.
On April 1, 2003 Melinda’s webmaster received a threatening letter.
On April 3, 2003, Dan O’Dowd decided the desperate need for servicemembers was to provide a measly $5,000 for a child’s college education. He amount pledged, $100.000, with matching funds up to $250.000. The non-profit was incorporated on the 9th and announced publicly on April 10th. The is an embarrassingly minor contribution for a corporation which made billions from contracts flowing from the military.
On April 7, 2003 Craig Franklin handed an enveloped copy of Morgan’s Deposition to Anne
Fisher, his then girl friend, telling her it contained Morgan’s deposition. It was addressed to John Fund. It was a Green Hills envelope with the postage paid by the company in advance.
On April 8, 2003 RuthlessPeople was down.
On May 11, 2003, Mother’s Day morning, I wrote an email responding to questions received early that morning from Eric Alterman for an article which would be published on the 15th.
On May 15, 2003 Eric Alterman’s hit piece, “Who Framed John Fund?” was published in The
On May 16, 2003 Gene Gaudette, Editor of American Politics Journal, received a Letter via email from Gail Heriot, one of Funds many girl friends libeling us.
On June 21, 2003 JohnFund.com, a hit site, appeared online. The site came down sometime after May 19th this year. It can be viewed through the WayBackMachine.
On July 22, 2003 Wendy MacElroy, who calls herself a feminist but focuses her attack pieces on women, traded a hit piece on Morgan for a gig at Fox News. Wendy, who has known Melinda since the 1970s, failed to call her or Morgan. The article is titled, False Rape Charges Hurt Real Victims.
During this time Melinda received notice from the IRS claiming she owed money. The IRS refused to tell her why since her returns were produced by a CPA and documented all expenses.
Carried out this way, the NeoCon campaign was masked and did not appear to have any relationship with the War in Iraq. It was all ‘personal.’
But all parts of our lives reflect our values, which is why trying to separate the two in this was is wrong.
Clearly, everyone else had agendas which had nothing to do with the simple, provable fact John Fund committed domestic violence. This is a crime and should be prosecuted even if the victim has lied previously and is a jerk.
In 2004 I wrote GREED – The NeoConning of America, a lightly fictionalized autobiography framed around my daughter, not myself. I am now reissuing a non-fiction version, which includes “the Bunker in Georgia” Story. That story about Saddam began in Chapter 16 – A Signal from the Bunker, in subsection The Bunker in Georgia.
Saddam also knew too much.
No one read the book, though the reviews were very good.
I wonder what would have happened if I had understood the ruthless lack of conscience these people carry behind smiling, and lying, faces in both their personal and professional lives. What choices would I have made, personal and political?
The next years were given over to stark survival and caring for my son. Since Morgan had drained me of money this was much more difficult. I fought back because I had to, using the only tool I could afford, the truth.
Stay tuned for Part Two - What Happens When You Know Too Much