Surveillance and the Police State Let Us Hold It to Account

06/30/2013

http://www.globalresearch.ca/surveillance-and-the-police-state-let-us-hold-it-to-account/5340786

 By Colin Todhunter

”If you are a law-abiding citizen of this country, going about your business and your personal life, you have nothing to fear.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague, responding to the revelations of mass surveillance in the US and the UK (BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on 9 June).

What does William Hague take the British public for?

This bureaucrat politician stands in front of the cameras time and again setting out to mislead with his self righteous platitudes. He did it over Libya and tens of thousands lost their lives. His is doing it over Syria with similar results. And he is doing it over mass surveillance by the state.

Do not believe we have nothing to fear. We have much to fear.

Take the case of Stephen Lawrence, for example, who was lawfully ‘going about his business’ in April 1993, when white racists murdered him while he was waiting for a bus. It has now emerged that, after the murder, four London Metropolitan police officers were deployed to spy on the Lawrence family and Stephen’s friends. The Lawrences were just ‘law-abiding citizens going about their business’. But undercover police were used to smear the Lawrence family’s fight for justice (1). One of those the spies says he job was to hunt for disinformation and dirt in order to stop the Lawrence’s justice campaign in its tracks. Nothing to fear from the state Mr Hague.

And then there are the numerous well-documented cases of the police and/or intelligence agencies infiltrating legitimate campaign and protest groups (2) and ‘investigating’ political parties or prominent figures (3)(4) in order to subvert or discredit them. Let us not forget too (how could we?) the massive police cover ups, none more prominent than the Hillsborough case (5). Still nothing to fear Mr Hague?

But let’s not be too harsh on Hague. The same ‘terror threat/nothing to fear’ script is being read out to the public in the US. Politicians elsewhere are using ‘terror’ as an excuse for spying on the public at large as well. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is convinced that Germany has to protect itself against potential terrorist attacks by using mass surveillance:

“We are dependent on being able to act and not being entirely at the mercy of the terrorists. And today, it’s on the Internet that communication takes place.” (6)

Alexander Dix, data protection commissioner for the city of Berlin, is a lot more skeptical. He calls for more restraint in the collection of data:

“You don’t have to follow conspiracy theories in order to suspect that data collected for fighting terrorism will also be used in other areas.” (6)

It’s all very convenient for politicians to pull out the magic phrase ‘war on terror’ in a futile attempt to stop any discussion on surveillance in its tracks. If the US-led alliance really wanted to stop or drastically reduce terrorism, it should listen to journalist Nir Rosen’s advice: stop committing it (7).

We need more monitoring and surveillance

The likes of Obama, Kerry, Hague or Cameron have become experts in churning out their fear-mongering platitudes by using some abstract notion of ‘we’ to imply ‘the nation’ or the ‘national interest’. But ‘we’ – the ordinary folk – need to hold power to account, to question its legitimacy and to challenge it when it is illegitimate.

We need to do this to help guarantee our safety, our common interests, our freedoms and threats to democracy. How about more but bottom-up monitoring and surveillance in terms of transparency within government and accountability to ensure decisions are properly scrutinized and genuinely open to pubic debate. In the absence of this, we have corruption, profiteering and the revolving door between government and big business, which all ensure that the powerful and wealthy get away with murder, quite literally when it comes to their illegal wars and mass killing.

In the absence of real democracy, we have food safety/regulation authorities being hijacked by corporate interests in order to feather their own nests. We have armaments companies using politicians as their sales lackeys. We have police and intelligence agencies infiltrating, harassing or subverting legitimate groups that have every right to protest, dissent and oppose. We have a wide range of powerful corporate players that lobby, threaten or buy their way towards casting the world in their own self-serving nuclear, retail, biotech, petro-chemical or pharmaceutical image. And we have banks, industries and whole economies that are undemocratically owned and controlled.

We also have ‘stuff’ being sprayed onto us without our consent (or very often knowledge) and have no power to stop ‘stuff’ from being sprayed onto us (8).

But we are told all this top-down surveillance and all of the increasing un-freedoms are for our own good. We are told that public servants serve us by bowing down to elite interests. We are told that an incredible mass media is credible even though it serves a corporate agenda.

Based on his research for the book Who Killed Diana?, the late journalist Simon Regan stated that it is (paraphrased):

Whitehall that really runs the country with a close-knit Mafia-like clique… made up of a handful of powerful, but low-key, City brokers and financiers; the top brains at the Foreign Office, the Treasury, the Ministry of Defense and the Trade Department. Key figures in the security forces… and… at least one key member of the prime minister’s secretariat… the police and judiciary… through the Home Office… can certainly be manipulated. The Super-Establishment’s power is based upon its ability to manipulate the level below it – the individuals that most people believe are governing our country. The elected government is almost irrelevant… The world in which the Super-Establishment exists is a grey and murky world in which sensitive matters of state are planned and executed in gentlemen’s clubs. It is where manipulation plots are hatched, whether it is manipulation of a certain minister towards a certain viewpoint, or the wholesale orchestration of a Foreign Office ploy to bring down a foreign government… It is almost the divine mission of the secret services to protect the status quo, and hitherto it has been their full intention to thwart anyone who tried to disrupt it. The actual existence of the Super-Establishment is not a flight of fancy. It is entirely manipulative and exercises a great deal of power behind the scenes. (9)

The elite, the oligarchs, the ruling class, the one percent – call it how you will. Yet it is we, the people, who are spied on and monitored by them for their good, to serve their interests and to feather their highly privileged and secretive world, a world built on the stolen wealth of both past and present deeds.

But don’t worry about any of this. There is no need. If that nice Mr Hague says we’ve nothing to fear, he must be right.

Notes

1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2013/jun/24/undercover-police-stephen-lawrence-video

2) http://towardfreedom.com/europe/2337-the-political-policing-of-dissent-in-the-uk

3) http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/articles/rrtalk.htm

4) http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/06/mi5-union-leaders-surveillance

5) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_disaster

6) http://www.dw.de/how-much-surveillance-do-we-need/a-16888265

7) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW0eiPiuUuk

8) http://www.countercurrents.org/todhunter260613.htm

9) http://shoestring911.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/british-establishment-revealed.html

Copyright © 2013 Global Research

OLDDOGS COMMENTS

I have no idea how many articles on this subject are on my hard drive, but I can firmly state there are many more than is needed to justify every man woman and child to demand a full turnover in our federal government. Unless this comes to pass, and the majority of America stands up and demands their freedom from constant surveillance, this Nation is going to cease to exist, and in its place will be a country where murder is an on-going  pandemic. Either we regain our freedom from this bunch of scumbags, or all hell is going to break out. I suggest every man woman and child makes ready for self defense immediately. Time is running out for the scumbags! Let Us hold them to Account!

10 13 11 flagbar


What the Hell Is Wrong with Obama?

06/29/2013

Casey Research Daily Dispatch

David Galland

Managing Director
Casey Research

In recent polls, 65% of Americans said they were against the US government becoming involved in Syria. Yet, the Obama administration has made it abundantly clear that it will now actively support the rebels there.

Disturbingly, our so-called allies in this fight – the anti-Assad rebels – are the sort of people who use suicide bombers to achieve their goals. Which is not surprising given that Al-Qaeda has openly taken a leading role in the opposition the Obama administration now sees fit to support.

And so it is that the very same Al-Qaeda that the US claims is Enemy #1 will soon be receiving weapons from the US, and probably already has.

In one particularly notable display of the world view of our new friends, a prominent rebel leader named Sunni al-Hamad was videotaped snacking on the lung of a dead enemy soldier. The highly placed member of the intelligence community whom I briefly referenced in my last missive told me that the most favorable interpretation of this barbaric act the analysts could come up with was that the fellow was actually trying to eat the heart, but ate the lung instead. This was taken as “favorable” because Commander Cannibal’s lack of basic human anatomy suggested that eating internal organs was not a regular practice among our new BFF.

Now, as to the “bad guy” in this entire drama … he is the son of Hafez al-Assad, the man who in 1973 changed the constitution of Syria to drop the provision that only Muslims could be president… triggering a running battle against Muslim extremists demanding that the country be Muslim and not secular.

In 1987, Syria actually participated in the so-called willing countries in supporting the US invasion of Iraq.

In 2000 Bashar Assad, the second son of Hafez, succeeded to power after his father’s death and five months later ordered the release of hundreds of political prisoners.

Now, that’s not to say that Assad is a wonderful fellow. No one would argue the fact that he’s accustomed to using a hard hand to keep the discontented in line. And given that those discontented are dominated by the sort of folks willing to blow themselves up in pursuit of religious goals (or, at least encourage the more gullible into doing so), the actions of the Assad government have, on occasion, been uncompromising.

As an aside, you may remember that in 2006 our current allies, the radical jihadists that Assad has also been trying to keep a lid on, attacked the US embassy in Damascus… and now we’re on the same side. Funny how a little time heals all wounds, eh?

Even so, until this latest phase in the conflict blew up in 2011, the level of violence was relatively minor.

But that was then. Now, with the place in flames, the death toll has soared with the latest body count at over 100,000 and counting.

Which brings me back to the question above, what the hell is wrong with Obama? Or, more accurately, what the hell is the US government thinking to interject itself in the conflict? Why would we want to hand the largely secular country over to the jihadists? Who wins?

I thought this quote out of an article on the situation by the folks at CATO worth sharing.

Those most serious about intervention, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, want to do everything. Their joint statement demanded: “provisions of arms to vetted Syrian opposition groups, targeted strikes against Assad’s aircraft and SCUD missile batteries on the ground, and the establishment of safe zones inside Syria.” Graham also argued that “you’ve got to get on the ground” to seize chemical weapons stockpiles.

Sound familiar?

Though I am not privy to any special information on the political calculations of Washington, it sure seems like we are following the script set down by the neocons (Kristol, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Abrams, et al.) that years ago infiltrated the US military-political complex. This is the “Might is right” crowd who believe in exercising US power proactively to knock down the dominos of all Middle Eastern countries Israel feels threatened by, with the end goal of remaking the Middle East as a region dominated by friendly democracies (or, in the case of Saudi Arabia, friendly dictatorships). Failing functioning democracies, turning the outcast countries into failed states that pose no real threat to US or Israeli interests in the area also works.

It’s never been a secret that Syria is a prominent domino: as recently as 2009, Israel bombed a site in Syria where they claim secret nuclear research was being conducted. According to the script, after Syria the US will escalate its targeting of Iran.

Given the hostile neighborhood it’s in, it’s understandable that Israel feels the need to act aggressively to dull the threat. Like individuals, nation-states possess finely honed survival instincts.

I do, however, blame President Obama and the State Department and all the many sycophants in government and parasites in businesses that profit from war for once again entangling the country in a foreign conflict. That they do so in the face of overwhelming opposition among the public reveals “government of the people, for the people” as the meaningless platitude it has become.

That our new allies are jihadists who upon taking power will oppress the country like Assad never did, then turn their weapons against the Great Satan that provided them, makes our support of them not just a bad joke but spectacularly bad karma.

Then there’s the tens of thousands of innocents who will suffer and die before this is over. But, hey, it’s the Middle East where life is priced very low, so why should anyone care? The neocons certainly don’t.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: the constant turmoil in places like Syria, and the hardships it causes to the civilian population, is a damn shame, but it’s not our damn shame. Left to their own devices, maybe – just maybe – they’d finally get their act together.

That the Obama administration would ignore the will of the people and deliberately make the troubles in Syria our own, and freakishly do so in an alliance with jihadists, strikes me as highly suspect and even treasonous.

One can only hope that one shiny day not too far down the road, these people would be held accountable for their actions. Maybe starting by impeaching the president?

I’m not holding my breath.
Death of (the Retirement Dreams of) a Salesman

Last week I played in a semi-serious golf tournament hereabouts. It’s only the second such tournament I’ve played in, and I had great reservations about doing so again. Mainly because of the stress associated with playing tournament golf. As one’s state of mind has a huge effect on one’s state of play, undue stress can result in all manner of bad outcomes. In this tournament, my usually reliable putting went out for coffee and didn’t come back until near the end of the third match, at which point it was way too late.

Even so, I mostly enjoyed the experience and didn’t mind losing as the competition played significantly better than I and were nice fellows, to boot.

I mention this only to set the context of a rather revealing conversation I had over a consolatory beer in the clubhouse. The fellow who so kindly bought me that beer was a sales manager who, over the course of the conversation, revealed to me that he was hoping to retire in the coming year in order to spend his golden years doing little more than playing golf.

Without any urging, he then expressed some concern that the amount of money he had saved up might not be enough to see him through his retirement.

It’s a valid concern: with a steady stream of advances in medicine and the fact that he is a fit 64 years old, his retirement could easily last twenty years. And thirty or even forty years isn’t out of the question.

That’s a lot of time, and a lot of money.

In the way of idle conversation, I asked him how much of his assets he has in the stock market. The answer, “Something over 90%,” made my eyebrow inadvertently twitch.

“What sort of stocks are you in?”

“I don’t know, stuff my broker said I should own. I think I have some stuff in the health industry, but I’m not sure.”

“Have you looked into how the companies you own might fare under ObamaCare?”

“No, I sure hope my broker does, it does kind of worry me.”

“What kind of broker do you use?”

“A full-service one. He’s kind of a friend.”

“And you keep all your money with a single broker?”

“Yes.”

“How much commission do you pay on a trade?”

“Ah, um…”

“You don’t know?”

“No, but I seem to recall it’s around 2%.”

“Does your broker live in a pretty nice house? Better than yours?”

“Yeah, he’s very successful.”

As I didn’t want things to get awkward or spoil his happy day, I nudged the topic in a different direction.

Yet when I got home, I couldn’t help but shake my head at the idea that someone could be so unmindful about the funds he is relying on for retirement. Which, reading between the lines, is an amount just a bit over $1,000,000 – the rewards of a lifetime of hard work.

In fact, as far as I could tell, he had committed what might be called the 7 Commandments of Investing.

Thou Shalt Not Over-Concentrate. For starters, his portfolio is way over-concentrated in a single asset class.

Thou Shalt Not Be Ignorant About What You Own, and Why. His portfolio is made up entirely of investments that he doesn’t even know the names of, let alone the basic metrics related to their underlying value or financial soundness 3.Thou Shalt Not Fail to Rebalance After Big Run-Ups. The sector in which he is so heavily invested, US equities, has already had a big run-up. As you can see from the chart here, it is looking perilously close to a near-term top. As an aside, the pattern evident in the chart suggests a trading pattern you might want to use to your advantage. It should continue for awhile – maybe even until the entire Fed-led Ponzi scheme collapses the economy.

 Thou Shalt Not Keep Too Much of Your Money in a Single Institution. Effectively, he has all of his money in a single financial institution. As the investors with money on account at MF Global will attest, in today’s world that’s just plain reckless. Very few banks and brokerage houses aren’t entangled in the obscure and impenetrable web of derivatives markets and so are at risk. (This is a topic that David Webb will be addressing in depth at our only Casey Research Summit in 2013, Oct. 4 – 6 in Tucson, Arizona. Details here, registration is limited. )

Thou Shalt Not Blindly Rely on the Advice of a Commissioned Broker. It’s their job to get you to trade. It’s how they earn the money to buy that nice house. Sure, if a commissioned broker provides real value, then they have earned their commission. But you need to do your own homework and not just acquiesce to their every recommendation. That’s how you end up with 90% of your retirement assets at risk in a single investment sector. As an alternative for those who want to leave their investing to a pro, a pure fee-based money manager can make sense as their only goal is (or should be) to impress you so you’ll continue to retain their services.

Thou Shalt Not Fail to Watch Your Investment Expenses. In this case, a full-service broker has been charging him 2% (and maybe more) to under-perform in the sector he has him in up to his ears. And, I suspect, does a fair bit of trading. Essentially, the client takes all the risk and the brokerage house earns a bigger net return. Additionally, if the broker is aggressive, then there’s a good chance he’s not particularly attentive when it comes to short- versus long-term capital gains.

Thou Shalt Not Be Ignorant About Managing Money. Anyone who hopes to maintain and increase their portfolio over time needs to have at least passing familiarity with the fundamentals of investing and managing money. Otherwise you are likely to violate the preceding commandments. And you need to keep yourself informed about the macro-picture for the economy and for the primary asset classes in which you are invested.

These are not easy times to be an investor.

Especially when you consider that global stock markets are now rallying on bad economic news – as that is (correctly) taken as providing an excuse for the Fed to continue the money printing. That should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the big picture.

As Terry Coxon, co-editor of The Casey Report, recently put it, “The stock market is levitating on QE. When QE ends, the stock market falls to earth.”

Thus, your investment returns depend not only on investing in the right individual asset, but on whether the Fed in all its infinite wisdom (or proven lack thereof) decides to withdraw liquidity… or, as was the case recently, ponders doing so.

Simply put, we will see a lot of volatility between now and when the vultures finally come to rest on the bones of this crisis (either through a deflationary collapse, but more likely an inflationary one). In the interim, the “right” investment for the long term might turn out to be a very wrong investment for the short and medium term.

As to the longer term, again quoting from Terry Coxon, the smartest person I know on central banks and matters related to monetary policy…

“The Fed is not going to exit the business of monetary easing. They may pause now and then, but when they see the results, they will resume. Every hyperinflation has been punctuated with pauses during which the central bank resolved to stop printing, to avoid destroying the currency.”

At the end of the day, for any of us to successfully make it to the other side of this crisis with our assets intact is going to require diversification, bullet-proof income investments, a fair bit of cash, a focus on quality, and, while it may not seem the case at the moment, gold. Of course, we’ll be addressing all those topics and a whole lot more at our Casey Research Summit this October 4 – 6 in Tucson. Hope to see you there.

(Because gold has been much in the news this week, and because he’ll be participating as a faculty member side by side with the audience over the three days of our Summit in Arizona, I thought you might enjoy this quick clip of Jim Rickards sharing his outlook for gold.)

Speaking of the Summit, one of the panels will feature Ron Paul and Doug Casey, among others, addressing the topic of “Politics Gone Wild.” This topic is of no small importance, as the entire world is currently locked into a destructive paradigm of sick nation-states committed to doing “whatever it takes” to maintain the status quo.

Yet, as the result of decades of irresponsible governance driven by political expedience and vote gathering, the underpinning of the status quo has been shattered, and there’s no easy way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Consequently, it’s all but certain we’re going to go through social, as well as financial, hardships before this thing is over.

Which delivers me somewhat seamlessly to the next item catching my eye this week…
Failed Expectations, Failing States

There is a parable about a Southern farmer who takes up the challenge of capturing a herd of particularly aggressive feral hogs. The story proceeds with him putting out some food where he knows the hogs will find it. He then continues putting the food out day after day while, at the same time, slowly building a pen around the feeding spot. The story ends with the farmer simply closing the newly constructed gate on the hogs while they are snout-deep in their slops.

If one so desired, however, one could continue the parable as follows…

Some months later, the farmer found himself facing hard financial times and decided he could no longer afford to keep feeding the hogs at the same level. The decision made, the next day he cut back the quantity of their rations and substituted the higher-quality feed he had been dishing out with far less tasty tidbits.

For a few days the hogs waited patiently for their usual rations, but when the farmer failed to come through, the hungry hogs began to fight over the reduced slops provided.

It was not long after that the farmer – confident that the hogs were properly domesticated – let himself into the pen only to find himself surrounded by angry hogs who made him what’s for lunch.

The moral to the longer-version story is that the domesticated hogs will remain docile only for as long as you keep them snout-deep in slops.

Which brings me to the riots in Brazil, the latest footnote on the continuum of the slow-motion global financial collapse now underway.

Simply, years of expanding politically motivated social welfare programs around the world have raised the expectations of the masses to the point where they simply can’t be met.

The results are that growing segments of the previously submissive masses, seeing their slops reduced in both quantity and quality, are now drifting back towards a more feral state. (Note the Mad Max hair in the photo above… yet another example of life mimicking art.)

You can see the problem in this chart showing the federal government’s expenditures by function. While the chart is a little out of date, the trend couldn’t be clearer… or more concerning.

The rapid increase in social spending reflects the unintended consequences of the “chicken in every pot” promises that have become the basis of every election campaign for decades now. This is a picture of what happens when you train the masses to look to the government, and not the free markets, to solve every problem, water every plant, kiss every boo-boo.

Thanks to the surge in socialism, this pattern is mirrored the world over. It’s now projected that Italy will need a bailout from the EU within six months – again due to its unfunded and non-payable social obligations.

Since the latest crisis began, we have seen governments around the world “socialize” the bad debts of failing financial institutions by transferring those debts from private balance sheets to those of the governments (and the central banks). This has only exacerbated an already impossible situation, requiring the widespread adoption of global monetary madness.

Seriously, who in their right mind could possibly think creating trillions in new monetary units in order to support virtually unchecked government spending is a sound and sustainable policy?

Yet that’s exactly the operating model of the leadership in most of the world’s largest economies. I suspect this is so only because they simply don’t see any other way to delay the inevitable.

Flash riots in places like Brazil only encourage these governments to continue acting like monetary sluts in order to keep the public slops flowing. And to the extent that it helps even temporarily mollify the expectations of the masses, expect other equally counter-productive measures as well. In the case of Brazil, its government is seriously levying yet another tax on the successful to pay for the social spending being demanded by the rioters.

And the global economy continues to spiral around the drain.

When might the hard truths become unavoidable? For an answer, I turn to Ayn Rand’s classic Atlas Shrugged

“Do you wish to know when that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.”

–Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged, p. 385 (1957)

If Rand is right, we’re getting close.

Meanwhile, for those of you deluded enough to believe the US government will someday soon get its fiscal house in order, the social and political consequences of doing so be damned, here’s a quick snippet from USA Today last week…

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House failed to pass a sweeping five-year farm bill with sharp cuts to food stamps, a surprising development that sets the stage for an uphill fight in Congress to craft a new law.

The Republican-led House soundly rejected a $500 billion measure by a vote of 195-234, failing to muster enough support from conservative Republicans concerned about costs and Democrats and concerned about deep cuts to the country’s popular food stamp program.

Of course, per the above parable, when it comes to keeping hogs and people happy, a steady supply of food is essential. So, do you really think the US government is going to cut back the food stamps now being provided to 1 in 5 households (approximately 50 million people)? Hardly.

The simple reality is that “We the people” took the slops, and the consequences of passing our personal responsibilities to the nation-state are yet to be paid in full.

As the nation-states have no path open to them to continue to meet their obligations – at least no path that doesn’t end in widespread pain – expect things to get very, very bizarre in the months and years just ahead.

Remain vigilant.

Friday Funnies

A Lesson in Irony… Apropos to the Above Article

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the US DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever, to 46 MILLION PEOPLE.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the US Department of the Interior, asks us, “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is: “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”

THUS ENDS TODAY’S LESSON IN IRONY.

Leno on the Scandals

“I was going to start off tonight with an Obama joke, but I don’t want to get audited by the IRS.”

On NSA surveillance: “We wanted a president who listens to all Americans – now we have one.”

On a new IRS commissioner: “He’s called ‘acting commissioner’ because he has to act like the scandal doesn’t involve the White House.”

On closing the Guantanamo prison for terrorists: “If he really wants to close it, turn it into a government-funded solar power company. The doors will be shut in a month.”

Concerning the Benghazi, Associated Press, and IRS scandals: “Remember in the old days when President Obama’s biggest embarrassment was Joe Biden?”

On Obama saying he didn’t know about the IRS scandal: “He was too busy not knowing anything about Benghazi to not know anything about the IRS.”

“The White House has a new slogan about Benghazi: Hope and change the subject.”

“It’s casual Friday, which means that at the White House, they’re casually going through everybody’s phone calls and records.”

“It is not looking good for President Obama. Today his teleprompter took the fifth.”

“FOX News has changed its slogan from ‘Fair and Balanced’ to ‘See, I told you so!'”

“These White House scandals are not going away anytime soon. People in Kenya are now saying he’s 100 percent American. That’s how bad it’s gotten.”

On Obama’s commencement address: “He told the young graduates their future is bright – unless, of course, they want jobs.”

On a Chicago man who set a record for riding a Ferris wheel: “The only way to go around and around in a circle that many times is to read the official report on Benghazi.”

On White House claims of ignorance on the scandals: “They took ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ out of the Pentagon and moved it into the White House.”

Concerned about NSA Spying?

Here’s one (funny) solution: everyone should begin speaking like a terrorist… here’s the video link.

More Irony

Donald Grove, The Casey Report‘s man in Washington, sent along the following, which, though true, properly belongs in the Friday Funnies section.

Here’s the text of his email:

“The White House is on a roll this morning. The audacity of this administration! That it would suggest that it has any credibility for instilling financial responsibility in young people just takes my breath away. The secretary of the Treasury will have oversight. That will keep it on the up and up, won’t it?”

Don is referring to the Obama administration’s Executive Order earlier this week establishing The Presidential Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans (or TPACOFCFYA, for short).

Quoting from the Executive Order…

“By starting early, young people can begin to learn the difference between wants and needs, the importance and power of saving, and the positive and productive role money can play in their lives. Having a basic understanding of money management from an early age will make our young people better equipped to tackle more complex financial decisions in their transition to adulthood, when critical decisions about financing higher education and saving for retirement can have lasting consequences for financial security. Strengthening the financial capability of our young people is an investment in our nation’s economic prosperity.”

Don adds, “How about advising young people to observe the fiscal and monetary practices of the federal government and simply do the opposite at every turn?”

Sounds about right to me.

A Good Laugh

My golf buddy Frank sent this along a few minutes ago. Even though the Friday Funnies is longer than usual, I just had to share it.

It’s the voice of a man leaving a message for his boss when he witnesses a car accident… and the incredible events that then follow. It’s really funny. Here’s a link to the recording.
What the Hell Is Wrong with Obama? – Part Two

This week, the Panderer-in-Chief moved forward with his initiative to curb carbon emissions.

Underscoring the global warming purportedly caused by excessive carbon, a clearly overheated Obama dramatically wiped his face with a white hanky during his out-of-doors announcement. Given that summer in Washington DC is famously hot and humid, maybe some staff member should have scheduled an air-conditioned room for the announcement… oh, wait… silly me, the whole sweating thing was staged! Duh! (Do these people really think that the public consists entirely of gullible morons?)

Quoting Bloomberg on the president’s announcement…

Saying that science had put to rest the question about whether the planet was warming, Obama vowed to use his executive powers to act, arguing that limiting emissions would spur technological advancement and new jobs.

“I don’t have much patience for anyone that denies that this challenge is real,” Obama said in the speech at Georgetown University. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.”

The irony here is that, at least as far as I can tell, the science tells us nothing of the kind. In fact, for the last seventeen and a half years – a period over which the climate alarmists tell us the planet has been dangerously warming – the planet has shown no warming. Quoting a recent article by Christopher Monckton on the always excellent Wattsupwiththat.com site…

Superimposing the temperature curve and its least-squares linear-regression trend on the statistical insignificance region bounded by the means of the trends on these published uncertainties since January 1996 demonstrates that there has been no statistically significant warming in 17 years 4 months:

And here’s a link to another analysis by a serious scientist that shows just how far off the predictions of global warming have been when compared to actual temperatures.

Sticking with fact versus self-serving fiction, the Centre for Ocean and Ice plotted the daily mean temperature for the Arctic (you know, where the warming is supposedly causing widespread ice melting and a die-off of polar bears) for the period between 1958 and 2013. It, too, found no statistically meaningful deviation from the mean in 2013. Here’s the link.

So, let me ask again… what the hell is wrong with Obama?

Why would he use the powers of the executive to unleash yet another bungling army of bureaucrats and foist yet another expensive body of regulations upon the nation – and do so at such a precarious time for the economy… a period when businesses need help, not hindrance?

I can only assume he is doing so not because he is ignorant about the science, but because he is pandering to the “progressives” (a misnomer that, corrected, would read “regressives”) and others his party needs the support of in order to prevail in the next election.

Fortunately, slowly and steadily the truth will come out. My favorite recent public turnaround was delivered by the mayor of London, the straight-talking Boris Johnson, in an article he penned for the Telegraph titled, The Weather Prophets Should Be Chucked in the Deep End.

A relevant quote:

For more than 20 years now, we have been told that this country was going to get hotter and hotter and hotter, and that global warming was going to change our climate in a fundamental way. Do you remember that? We were told that Britain was going to have short, wet winters and long, roasting summers. It was going to be like 1976 all over again, with streakers at Lord’s and your Mr Whippy melting before you could even lick it, and Hyde Park scorched into a mini Kalahari.

They said we were never going to have snow again, and that we should prepare for southern England to turn gradually into a Mediterranean world. There were going to be olive groves in the Weald of Kent, and the whole place was going to be so generally broiling in summer that no one would be able to move between noon and 4pm, after which people would come out to play boules and sip pastis, to the whine of a mandolin, in the dusty square that had once been a village green.

That’s what they said: the BBC, and all the respectable meteorologists – and I reckon there were tens of thousands of people who took these prophecies entirely seriously. Omigod, they said to themselves, we are all going to fry.

He goes on to suggest, tongue-in-cheek, that every English homeowner who anticipated taking advantage of the pending warmer climate by building a swimming pool should be able to file a claim against the government for reimbursement.

In that same vein, I would propose that the tab for hundreds of billions in wasted taxpayer funds on electric cars, solar, and so forth be divided up and sent for payment to Obama, Al Gore, and anyone else found to have profited – financially or politically – from climate alarmism.

Some of the money collected could be spent trying to deprogram a generation of state-schooled students who now unquestionably accept the bad science of manmade climate warming, despite the huge body of science pointing to the contrary.

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Obama: The Worst of Nixon Bush II Writ Large

06/28/2013

 http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Article/136876-2013-06-22-obama-the-worst-of-nixon-bush-writ-large.htm?From=News

10-18-2011 7-10-19 PM

By Stephen Lendman

Obama: The Worst of Nixon/Bush II Writ Large

by Stephen Lendman

Obama’s a war criminal multiple times over. He bears full responsibility for genocidal crimes.

In a May London Guardian interview, Cornel West said:

“We elected a black president and that means we are less racist now than we used to be. That’s beautiful.”

“But when you look at the prison industrial complex and the new Jim Crow: levels of massive unemployment and the decrepit unemployment system, indecent housing: white supremacy is still operating in the US, even with a brilliant black face in a high place called the White House.”

Obama’s “tied to Wall Street. And at this point he is a war criminal. You can’t meet every Tuesday with a killer list and continually have drones drop bombs.”

“You can do that once or twice and say: ‘I shouldn’t have done that, I’ve got to stop.’ But when you do it month in, month out, year in, year out – that’s a pattern of behavior.”

“I think there is a chance of a snowball in hell that he will ever be tried, but I think he should be tried and I said the same about George Bush.”

“These are war crimes. We suffer in this age from an indifference toward criminality and a callousness to catastrophe when it comes to poor and working people.”

“I would rather have a white president fundamentally dedicated to eradicating poverty and enhancing the plight of working people than a black president tied to Wall Street and drones.”

Ralph Nader called Obama a “war criminal who has been more aggressive than George W. Bush.”

Noam Chomsky told Russia Today he wants Obama “taken before the ICC for the war on terror.”

He highlighted Magna Carta rights. He called Nuremberg Principles, Judgement and the Charter “part of the foundation of modern international law.”

“It defines aggression as the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes, and it encompasses all of the evil it follows. The US and British invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression.”

So was Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, numerous proxy wars, and covert ones. Obama bears full responsibility for global aggression on his watch. He’s guilty of crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. He’s waging war abroad and at home.

Volumes are needed to document them. Numerous previous articles explained them. They’re too egregious to ignore. They continue out-of-control. They demand accountability.

Jeremy Scahill’s new book “Dirty Wars” calls planet earth a battlefield. Covert and raging hot wars persist. America claims a unilateral right to commit mass slaughter, destruction, torture, and unspeakable atrocities.

Might justifies rights. Nations are destroyed to liberate them. Terrorism is what they do, not us. Code language conceals dark motives.

Reasons why imperial wars are waged are suppressed. Wealth, power, and privilege alone matter. Sacrificing human lives and freedoms are small prices to pay. Humanity’s at risk but who cares.

Scahill reported from global hot spots. He and another journalist “were shot at together on rooftops in Modadishu,” he said, “slept on dingy floors in rural Afghanistan, and traveled together in the netherlands of Southern Yemen.”

America claims a unilateral right to bludgeon humanity into submission. Murder, Inc. reflects US policy. Obama escalated Bush war crimes to higher levels.

America’s addicted to war. Obama’s committed to wage it. Noncombatants are fair game. Official policy targets them.

Innocent men, women, children, the elderly and infirm are slaughtered. Winning alone matters. Unchallenged global dominance is policy.

America’s war on terror reflects waging it on humanity. Wherever US forces intervene, death, destruction, instability, displacement, impoverishment, and unspeakable human misery follow.

Obama’s values aren’t like yours or mine. He wants fundamental laws subverted for greater aims. He wants state-sponsored murder legalized. He wants new rules giving him clear authority.

He’s comfortable about killing. He has no qualms about doing so. He wants unchallenged diktat power. He wants it for targeted assassinations and war. He’s heading America for waging it globally.

Last December, Francis Boyle said US militarism threatens WW III. A century after earlier imperial aggressions, “neoconservative Republican Bush Junior administration and the neoliberal Democratic Obama administration are now threatening” global war.

In “international legal terms, the United States government is guilty of serial wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany.”

Nazism lasted 12 years. America waged war on humanity for generations. Countless millions perished. Lawlessness exceeds levels never imagined.

Worse lies ahead unless stopped. Accountability is sorely lacking. Mass annihilation threatens everyone. So does institutionalized tyranny. It’s coming to a neighborhood near you. Humanity may not survive Obama’s watch.

He finds more ways to commit new crimes. On June 10, Haaretz headlined “The return of Richard Nixon,” saying:

He “was a conservative national security hawk.” Obama promised progressive change. He exceeded the worst of his predecessor. He’s done so unapologetically.

“Both were terrified by leaks and recruited the government into the struggle against them. With Nixon, they eavesdropped on conversations of key journalists and officials who were suspected of being their sources.”

Obama exceeds the worst of Nixon’s lawlessness. He’s got technological tools Nixon lacked. He uses them and much more. He does so recklessly with abandon.

Nixon left Washington ingloriously. Obama’s free to wage war on humanity. He monitors everyone. He does so to choose targets. He’s listening to you now.

He reads your emails. He checks web sites you visit. He knows your medical and financial history. He knows what company you keep. He watches every move you make. He knows what you do, where and when.

He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows everything you do he disapproves of. He’s making a list you don’t want your name on.

He’s intolerant of less than total subservience. He rules by what he say goes. Obey or else reflects policy.

Haaretz said ” ‘Tricky Dick,’ who left this world on the verge of the Internet age, could only fantasize about the technological power (Obama) enjoys.”

Nixon spied the old fashioned way. He did it selectively. Obama does it globally. He does it with technological ease. Virtually everyone is monitored all the time every day.

Everyone potentially is suspect. Alleged terror threats are pretexts for darker motives.

Haaretz claimed both presidents reacted differently when caught. Not so. They both lied. Nixon did it his way. Obama chose his own. Each disclaimed responsibility. Both ducked admitting guilt.

Obama did Nixon one better. He did that and much more. Nixon was complicit in breaking and entering, burglary, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and other garden variety crimes.

Obama violated fundamental constitutional law. It’s the supreme law of the land. He did so without admitting culpability. He lied alleging otherwise.

He’s waging war on constitutional rights. He targets anyone revealing information people have a right to know he wants kept secret. He threatens imprisonment or perhaps worse.

He usurped diktat power. He decides who lives or dies. His kill list chooses targets. He designated himself judge, jury and executioner.

He heads America’s Murder, Inc. agenda. Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world. Americans are vulnerable like others. They can be disappeared, eliminated or killed for any reason or none at all.

Obama has final say. Enemies of the state are ones he names. Until last weekend, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning topped his list.

Edward Joseph Snowden perhaps replaced them as public enemy number one. He’s a wanted man. His life’s in danger. If caught, he’ll be prosecuted or killed. Perhaps China, Russia, or other countries will offer him political asylum.

Doing so doesn’t assure safety. Snowden knows he’s vulnerable everywhere. “You can’t come up against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk,” he said.

He’ll live with it for the rest of his life, he added – “however long that happens to be. I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end. There’s no saving me.”

Nixon’s domestic crimes paled compared to Obama’s. He did what supporters thought impossible. He matched Star Trek. He went where no administration went before.

He exceeded the worst of all his predecessors and then some. He remains unaccountable to commit more crimes. They’re too horrendous to ignore. Impeaching him is a national imperative. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/obama-the-worst-of-nixonbush-writ-large/

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Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

06/26/2013

http://www.activistpost.com/2013/06/should-we-stay-or-should-we-go.html

 By Dave Hodges

Are you tired of living under relative tyranny where every email is read, every phone call is recorded and your every movement is tracked and dissident journalists are harassed and even murdered by federal agencies such as the rogue NSA, CIA and IRS? Are you thinking about escaping our corrupt and criminal government?

Americans are leaving the country at record speed and the annual rate of expatriation is growing as over 150,000 Americans departed the former land of liberty for greener pastures overseas in the past year. In fact, there are now over five million Americans who are choosing to live outside the United States. Just why are Americans leaving this land of “freedom” and opportunity in record numbers, with no end in sight? 

Would you renounce your U.S. citizenship if it meant you’d be sending less of your hard-earned dollars to Uncle Sam? Do you want affordable health care? Do you desire to live a long and healthy life? Do you want your children to have an affordable college education? Do you want to retire in relative comfort? Do you desire to live your life with more freedoms that you presently enjoy and not have to worry about government harassment? On balance, should most Americans stay or go?

There are reasons and myths which both favor and discourage expatriation. Below, I have listed a set of generalized statements about the viability of leaving America and these notions are examined.

The Highest Taxes In the World

The number one reason that Americans are fleeing the country is because of high taxes. The income tax rate rose this year to 39.6% from 35% for individuals earning more than $400,000 a year and married couples earning more than $450,000. Also, 77% of Americans will pay higher federal tax rates because the cuts in Social Security payroll taxes expired when Congress passed its tax package this past New Year’s Day. The Tax Policy Center estimates that those who earn more than $1 million would pay an average of $170,341 more in taxes. If you are middle class or poor, you may not have the means to leave, and your taxes have not been as dramatically impacted as the wealthy. It is a fact that expatriation does favor the upper middle class because one has to have a significant income to benefit from a potential move. In other words, if you are the owner of an Obama phone, you are better off staying in the country because you have little to tax.

We Complain About Loss of Freedom, but This Is Not the Real Motivation To Leave

Because of the manufactured terror threat, we have lost Habeus Corpus, free speech rights to the United Nations, and every form of due process that we once cherished under our Constitution. And if you don’t like the unfolding criminal enterprise brand of government which has suddenly appeared before our collective eyes, please be aware that the bankers have rolled out a technocratic police state which would make Stalin envious. Both the emerging police state and the impending martial law advocates are bolstered by the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has purchased 1.6 billion rounds, oops, make that 2.2 billion rounds of high tech bullets engraved with the names of citizens who dare to oppose this tyranny! However, if freedom was the main motivator to get people to act either by escaping the government or by standing up to the criminal elements in the government, there would have been a civil war a long time ago. The loss of liberty is rarely a primary motivator for ordinary citizens to act.

We may complain about the loss of liberty, but it is not motivating many, if any, American citizens to leave the country for these reasons.

We Can’t Leave Our Great US Pensions Behind

It is a myth that America has a good set of retirement systems. You are not getting the best pension package compared to other Western nations as America ranks dead last in overall pension benefits. And this is in the backdrop of the nothing-to-lose, second-term Obama Administration, who is preparing to seize your 401k pensions. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew has already raided federal pension funds this past month so the government does not exceed the debt ceiling.

America, your money is not even safe in the bank, as witnessed by the fact that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals who just ruled that banks can steal the money of its depositors and it is legal!

There are no golden years in America unless you are in the infamous 1%.

Americans Stay for Higher Pay

Americans no longer live in the highest salary paying country in the world. In fact, the United States does not even crack the top ten list of the highest salary paying countries on the planet in which Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom round out the top ten and pay their workers more than workers in the United States. In fact, the United States only ranks 20th in terms of overall gross pay! One would be very naive to call America the land of opportunity.

If We Leave Our Children’s Education Will Suffer

The Education Policy Institute assessed the affordability of higher education costs and found that the United States ranks 13th in higher education affordability. At a time when our schools are producing students which are performing last in math and science as compared to other industrialized nations, leaving the country, in many cases, would benefit a child’s educational attainment. And do not forget, this next year the Common Core Standards come online and they will dramatically increase the dumbing down of American students.

Most Americans mistakenly think they will help their children to rise above the rest by going to college. That type of thinking can be a financial death trap. To those who think your children can borrow their way to a degree, think again. Today’s U.S. college loan practices, which serve to underwrite much of the cost of a college education, are the most predatory in the world. As of last year, bankruptcy cannot cancel out a student loan debt, and delinquent college students can now go to jail for nonpayment. In fact, several federal agencies have even “SWAT teamed” many delinquent student loan defaulters. Nowhere else in the world can we find evidence of these types of predatory practices being used against college students as we do here in the United States.

Even those who are degreed and/or skilled in fields such as engineering or information technology skills, are really wasting their time working in the United States. Eight of the world’s ten highest-paying countries for information technology (IT) managers are in Western Europe, according to a new survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. The survey found that Swiss managers are paid the most, followed by those in Germany and Denmark. In fact, IT management is another field where U.S. workers fail to crack the top ten in income, the United States ranks 14th in IT management compensation. Even debt-ridden Spain, Italy and Greece pay their IT managers more than what Americans earn on average. If your child is striving to become a high tech employee, they would be better leaving the country. We Cannot Leave This Good Health Care Behind

The United States spends more than the next 12 nations for health care. However, it seems as if we are spending more and enjoying it less as, despite our exorbitant spending on health care, the United States ranks 50th in the world in life expectancy.Cuba, Puerto Rico and Spain have higher life expectancies than the United States. Americans live in the only country in the world where its citizens cannot bargain shop for its medicines in foreign countries because the pharmaceuticals have convinced Congress to establish a pharmaceutical monopoly over U.S. citizens. Death by doctor has increased to 225,000 per year. Healthcare would be an excellent reason to leave.

Other Factors to Consider

Although our education is substandard, our earning power is substandard, our tax rates are exorbitant and we increasingly live in a rapidly emerging police state, there are emotional factors to consider before one truly contemplates leaving the country.

In a study done on the nature of tweeting and tweets expressing happiness, it was found that happy tweets decline significantly when people are more than 62 miles from their original home. Home is where the heart is, and it will hard for many of us to leave our attachments behind as we immigrate to a foreign country.

According to a University of California Riverside research study, about 40% of our capacity for happiness is actually within our power to change. This speaks strongly to the notion that life is what you make it.

Twenty percent of wealthy Americans’ happiness levels would not be impacted by the coming economic catastrophe according to happiness researchers. If a person is in the upper portion of the 80% which would be impacted in a dire economic downturn, they might benefit from expatriation. However, for the majority of the 80%, they do not have the means to expatriate and to maintain their present standard of living. For the non-elite who would be expatriating, they do so because they want their children to have a better life than they would if they stayed in America.

Just how happy are Americans? In a research study comparing the answers to the following happiness question, countries were ranked. See where America falls on the list.

“Taking all things together, would you say you are: very happy, quite happy, not very happy, or not at all happy?”

Happiest Countries

1. Iceland
2. Denmark
3. Sweden
4. Netherlands
5. Australia
6. Ireland
7. Norway
8. Norway
9. UK
10. Venezuela
11. Philippines
12. Belgium
13. United States

SourceWorld Values Survey 2011

America is not the happiest nation on the earth, but we are happier than 180 other nations. Leaving our shores to an undetermined future will not guarantee happiness. And don’t forget the immigration rule of thumb. Generally, the first immigration generations suffers economically, socially and politically. The real gains are usually realized by the second generation in the immigrant class. So, leaving will not necessarily be a panacea.

The real game changer on whether an increasing number of Americans should leave comes down to the intentions of the powers that be and their willingness to engage in mass detentions and/or mass murder as the present tyranny is fully implemented. Certainly, with the NDAA, Executive Order 13603, the Military Commissions Act and add to the fact that we are now witnessing the persecution of whistleblowers; and we are now seeing the murder of investigative journalists like Andrew Breitbart and Michael Hastings, members of the alternative media should consider leaving before martial law is imposed.

As some of us try and determine the real intentions of the banksters who have hijacked our government with regard to how they will deal with the majority of watch dog journalists, this is the deciding factor on whether some of us should leave the country and fade into oblivion. Will the coming martial law bring genocide to our shores for the masses who cannot or will not be “re-educated”? It is clear with DHS arming themselves to the teeth as we are seeing the roll out of all the precursors needed to impose a brutal martial law (e.g. presence of massive amount of foreign troops in our country). It would be remiss to not thoroughly assess this possibility.

Using the perspective of history combined with an analysis of contemporary events, a threat analysis to various segments of the population will be offered in a future article.

Dave is an award winning psychology, statistics and research professor, a college basketball coach, a mental health counselor, a political activist and writer who has published dozens of editorials and articles in several publications such as Freedoms PhoenixNews With Views and The Arizona Republic.

OLDDOGS COMMENTS

I predict that the lifetime love of country propaganda we have been exposed to all of our lives will result in a massive loss of life in America and I fully expect to be one of them. I have the means to escape to a safer government, but not the willingness to escape the fight, as the love of what I was taught America was, still burns bright in my soul. At my age, I prefer to go down fighting for what I believe in as apposed to adjusting to being an immigrant somewhere else. Make no mistake about it folks, there is not going to be many places where American’s are welcomed with open arms, and only very wealthy people will have the resources to protect themselves from that factor. Buying my future safety, is repugnant to my nature, and so is running from a good fight!

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Intelligence Corporatism and the Dance of Death

06/26/2013

http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/intelligence-corporatism-and-dance-of.html

 BY ARTHUR SILBER

You may at first think the following is a bad joke, but I assure you it is not a joke at all. At the very end of this NYT story about Booz Allen and the complex interconnections between nominally “private” business and the national intelligence community, we read:

But the legal warnings at the end of its financial report offered a caution that the company could be hurt by “any issue that compromises our relationships with the U.S. government or damages our professional reputation.”

By Friday, shares of Booz Allen had slid nearly 6 percent since the revelations. And a new job posting appeared on its Web site for a systems administrator in Hawaii, “secret clearance required.”

Yes, that appears to be Edward Snowden’s old job.

Crappy spy fiction doesn’t look quite so crappy now, does it? In many respects — in fact, I would argue in every critical respect — the spy business is actually that dumb.

In an earlier post about the NSA/surveillance stories, I discussed the profoundly offensive elitism involved in the argument that “special” people in both government and journalism, people endowed with understanding and judgment that is the envy of the gods and forever denied to all us ordinary schlubs, should decide what information will be provided to the motley mass of humans who merely pay for all of it, and for whose benefit all this godlike work is supposedly undertaken. Talk about idiocies: “We’re doing all this for you! You’re too stupid to be told most of what we’re doing!” Put it on a bumper sticker, baby, so we can throw rotten eggs at it.

I also talked about how especially unconvincing the insistence on secrecy is, given the numbers of people who have access to Top Secret information. The NYT story helpfully offers some numbers. Booz Allen “boasts that half its 25,000 employees have Top Secret clearances…” Wait, that’s nothing:

Of the 1.4 million people with Top Secret clearances, more than a third are private contractors. (The background checks for those clearances are usually done by other contractors.)

The biggest open secret all these creepy jerks are hiding is the secret of corporatism (or what Gabriel Kolko calls “political capitalism“):

There is nothing in the world that can’t be turned into a huge moneymaker for the State and its favored friends in “private” business, at the same time it is used to amass still greater power. This is true in multiple forms for the fraud that is the “intelligence” industry.

The pattern is the same in every industry, from farming, to manufacturing, to every aspect of transportation, to the health insurance scam, to anything else you can name. In one common version, already vested interests go to the State demanding regulation and protection from “destabilizing” forces which, they claim, threaten the nation’s well-being (by which, they mean competitors who threaten their profits). The State enthusiastically complies, the cooperative lawmakers enjoying rewards of many kinds and varieties. Then they’ll have to enforce all those nifty regulations and controls. The State will do some of it but, heck, it’s complicated and time-consuming, ya know? Besides, some of the State’s good friends in “private” business can make a killing doing some of the enforcing. Give it to them! Etc. and so on.

It is for these reasons, among others, that I have stated:

[G]iven the nature of the State and its manner of operation, it simply isn’t possible for any enterprise to become and remain notably successful …without becoming enmeshed in the State apparatus. It’s possible that a company may escape more complex involvement with the State in its early years, but if a company maintains its dominance over a significant period of time, it necessarily must be the recipient of State favoritism.

And so, as but one minor example, the Times tells us that “background checks for those clearances are usually done by other contractors.”

But that’s chump change. The real money is elsewhere — in, for instance, foreign policy itself. You probably thought foreign policy was about dealing with threats to “national security,” spreading democracy, ensuring peace, and whatever other lying slogans they throw around like a moldy, decaying, putrid corpse. The State’s foreign policy efforts are unquestionably devoted to maintaining the U.S.’s advantages — but the advantages they are most concerned about are access to markets and, that’s right, making huge amounts of money. Despite the unending propaganda to the contrary, they aren’t terribly concerned with dire threats to our national well-being, for the simple reason that there aren’t any: “No nation would dare mount a serious attack on the U.S. precisely because they know how powerful the U.S. is — because it is not secret.”

How does the public-“private” intelligence industry make foreign policy? The NYT story offers an instructive example in its opening paragraphs:

When the United Arab Emirates wanted to create its own version of the National Security Agency, it turned to Booz Allen Hamilton to replicate the world’s largest and most powerful spy agency in the sands of Abu Dhabi.

It was a natural choice: The chief architect of Booz Allen’s cyberstrategy is Mike McConnell, who once led the N.S.A. and pushed the United States into a new era of big data espionage. It was Mr. McConnell who won the blessing of the American intelligence agencies to bolster the Persian Gulf sheikdom, which helps track the Iranians.

“They are teaching everything,” one Arab official familiar with the effort said. “Data mining, Web surveillance, all sorts of digital intelligence collection.”

See how perfect this is? All the special people are making tons of money —and, when the day arrives that the U.S. wants to ramp up its confrontational stance with Iran, well, there’s the UAE helping to “track the Iranians” with all the tools that the U.S. has given them and taught them to use. And how easy would it be to get the UAE to provide the U.S. with just the right kind of new and disturbing “intelligence” that would get lots of people screaming about the “grave Iranian threat”? You know the answer to that: easy peasy. A wink and a nod — and off the U.S. goes, with bombing runs or whatever it decides to do. But whatever it does will be determined in greatest part not by a genuine threat to U.S. national security (there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Iran’s leaders are all suicidal), but by what will make the most money for the State and its good friends.

I remind you once again of what I call The Higgs Principle. As I have emphasized, you can apply this principle to every significant policy in every area, including every aspect of foreign policy. Here is Robert Higgs explaining it:

As a general rule for understanding public policies, I insist that there are no persistent “failed” policies. Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.

When you do so, I believe you will find U.S. policies in the Middle East to have been wildly successful, so successful that the gains they have produced for the movers and shakers in the petrochemical, financial, and weapons industries (which is approximately to say, for those who have the greatest influence in determining U.S. foreign policies) must surely be counted in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

So U.S. soldiers get killed, so Palestinians get insulted, robbed, and confined to a set of squalid concentration areas, so the “peace process” never gets far from square one, etc., etc. – none of this makes the policies failures; these things are all surface froth, costs not borne by the policy makers themselves but by the cannon-fodder masses, the bovine taxpayers at large, and foreigners who count for nothing.

How much is the intelligence-security industry worth? The NYT story offers this toward the end:

Only last month, the Navy awarded Booz Allen, among others, the first contracts in a billion-dollar project to help with “a new generation of intelligence, surveillance and combat operations.”

The new push is to take those skills to American allies, especially at a time of reduced spending in Washington. So while the contract with the United Arab Emirates is small, it may be a model for other countries that see cyber-defense — and perhaps offense — as their future. The company reported net income of $219 million in the fiscal year that ended on March 31. That was up from net income of $25 million in 2010, shortly after Mr. McConnell returned to the company.

They’re just getting started. Note that the $219 million is net income. Earlier, the Times told us that “more than half its $5.8 billion in annual revenue [is] coming from the military and the intelligence agencies.” The story also informs us that: “Booz Allen is one of many companies that make up the digital spine of the intelligence world, designing the software and hardware systems on which the N.S.A. and other military and intelligence agencies depend.”

It’s all about wealth and power. Here and there, in episodes notable only for their rarity, “the intelligence world” might actually provide a small piece of information actually related to “national security.” Again, I turn to Gabriel Kolko:

It is all too rare that states overcome illusions, and the United States is no more an exception than Germany, Italy, England, or France before it. The function of intelligence anywhere is far less to encourage rational behavior–although sometimes that occurs–than to justify a nation’s illusions, and it is the false expectations that conventional wisdom encourages that make wars more likely, a pattern that has only increased since the early twentieth century. By and large, US, Soviet, and British strategic intelligence since 1945 has been inaccurate and often misleading, and although it accumulated pieces of information that were useful, the leaders of these nations failed to grasp the inherent dangers of their overall policies. When accurate, such intelligence has been ignored most of the time if there were overriding preconceptions or bureaucratic reasons for doing so.

The incessant chatter about the indispensable, critical importance of “intelligence” to “national security” is marketing, the time-tested phrases that the ruling class knows are so popular with most Americans. And Americans dearly love the marketing:

So all of the feigned bafflement and incessant caterwauling about the supposedly indecipherable actions of the United States — Why, oh why, did we invade Iraq?, and Why, dear God, are we in Afghanistan? — represent only the capitulation of the purported critics to precisely those arguments U.S. leaders hope you will engage. They want you to spend all your time on those arguments, because they’re only marketing ploys having nothing at all to do with their actual goals. As I said the other day, if you want to stop this murderous madness — and I dearly hope you do — forget about what they say their goals are (fostering “democratic” governments, “regional stability,” “security,” and all the associated claptrap), and focus on the real problem: the carefully chosen policy of U.S. geopolitical dominance over the entire globe.

In the midst of the rush of revelations concerning the NSA and surveillance, almost everyone forgets that the “intelligence” industry is founded on one of the most momentous lies in the history of statecraft. As I write this, I see the following:

National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander told a House committee Tuesday that 50 terror threats in 20 countries have been disrupted with the assistance of two secret surveillance programs that were recently disclosed by former defense contractor Edward Snowden.

Ooooohhhhh! 50 terror threats in 20 countries, and “At least 10 of the plots targeted the U.S. homeland.” These guys suck stylistically, too. It’s exactly 50! And exactly 20! But kinda around 10 that targeted the “homeland.” C’mon, Keith. Precision is important in propaganda. Emulate a master: “I have here in my hand a list of 205 terror plots…!!”

Of course, they will never provide any evidence to prove the truth of these claims. You’re too stupid to be trusted with such information. You just have to take their word for it. Right. I wonder how many of these frightening plots were ones dreamed up by government agents themselves. And I wonder how many of them were, in fact, discovered by mundane, old-fashioned “police work.” Not incidentally, I wonder how many of these plots occurred at all.

I repeat again, for approximately the fiftieth time, that “intelligence” is almost always wrong. Don’t take my word for it: read the excerpt from Chalmers Johnson here. Read this. And this. See all the articles linked at the conclusion of this article. I’ve been writing about this subject for almost a decade. With the exception of 14 or 15 people, no one listens to a goddamned word I say on this subject (or on any other; don’t worry, I don’t love you any less — but I suggest you keep in mind that the least charitable interpretation of that last statement is the correct one). Many of you are now commencing to piss me off in a serious way.

The intelligence-security industry isn’t about protecting the United States or you, except for extraordinarily rare, virtually accidental occurrences. It’s about wealth and power. Yet every politician and every government functionary speaks reverently of the sacred mission and crucial importance of “intelligence” in the manner of a syphilitic preacher who clutches a tatty, moth-eaten doll of the Madonna, which he digitally manipulates by sticking his fingers in its orifices. Most people would find his behavior shockingly obscene, if they noticed it. But they don’t notice it, so mesmerized are they by the preacher with his phony awestruck words about the holy of holies and the un- grasp ably noble purpose of his mission. Even as the suppurating sores on the preacher’s face ooze blood and pus, his audience can only gasp, “We must pay attention to what he says! He wants only the best for us! He’s trying to save us!”

What the preacher says — what every politician and national security official says on this subject — is a goddamned lie. The ruling class has figured out yet another way to make a killing, both figuratively and literally. They want wealth and power, and always more wealth and power. That’s what “intelligence” and “national security” is about, and nothing else at all. When you hear Keith Alexander, or James Clapper, or Barack Obama talk about “intelligence” and surveillance, how your lives depend on them, and why you must trust them to protect you if you wish to continue existing at all, think of the preacher. Think of his open sores, of the blood and pus slowly dribbling down his face.

All of them are murdering crooks running a racket. They are intent on amassing wealth and power, and they’ve stumbled on a sure-fire way to win the acquiescence, and often the approval, of most people. They are driven by the worst of motives, including their maddened knowledge that there will always remain a few people and events that they will be unable to control absolutely. For the rest of us, their noxious games are a sickening display of power at its worst. For us, on a faster or slower schedule, in ways that are more or less extreme, their lies and machinations are only a Dance of Death.

OLDDOGS COMMENTS

Now this is the kind of reporting we need more of, and I only hope his next article will be on instigating a covert strike on the Bankers by any and everyone willing to make a difference in this clusterf%$k we call government. To kill a snake, cut off it’s damn head! Who do you think puts all of these scumbags in office????YOU! VOTING IS A WAY OF MAKING YOU LIKE GETTING SCREWED.

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Tyranny BY Neal Ross

06/26/2013

By Neal Ross

Tyranny is defined as many things. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines it as oppressive power, while dictionary dot com says it is arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power. Whatever definition you choose to use, I believe that we do, in fact, live in a nation where our rulers are exercising arbitrary and unrestrained power, and that we are being oppressed.

It was just over a decade, eleven years to be exact, after our Constitution, based upon the rule of law, preserving the rights of man, that tyranny reared its ugly head in America. With the threat of a possible war with France, President John Adams signed into law what has come to be known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. Thomas Jefferson feared that “unless arrested at the threshold,” the Alien and Sedition Acts would “drive these states into revolution and blood.” Jefferson was not calling for peaceful protests, he was saying that these acts might, in fact, lead to open rebellion against the government, of which he was, at the time, Vice President.

I find it a bit ironic that it was John Adams who enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, as he is quoted as once saying, “The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.” These were the very things Adams sought to restrict by passage of these Acts.

Seventy years later, during the Civil War, tyranny once again raised its ugly head when Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus and went after the freedom of the press to squelch anti-war sentiments in the North. Thousands were arrested and imprisoned just for speaking out against his policies while the, widely held belief that states could secede from a voluntary agreement to the Union were shattered at the cost of over 600,000 lives.

With the loss of State’s Rights and the passage of the 14th Amendment, making us ALL U.S. citizens, tyranny has always been there, lurking in the shadows, seeking new opportunities to expand the powers of government, and at the same time, restrict our freedom.

Look at us now, we have a government which clearly oversteps the powers granted it by the Constitution, while we have all these governmental agencies which ENFORCE their will upon us, often at the end of the barrel of a gun. Think about it, the ATF, the DEA, the FBI, the Dept. of Homeland Security all can enforce their will upon us, and if we resist we can be imprisoned or killed. Then there is the IRS which can go after your money, or property, if you disobey the tax laws enacted by Congress. Yet by their own bylaws Congress is required to pass an annual budget and they have not done so in years, instead they pass various spending resolutions while our nation sinks further and further into the black hole of debt.

These agencies, these law enforcement officers, are enforcing laws which limit our rights, the very ones protected by the Bill of Rights. Yet they claim to be simply doing their job, following orders. Does it matter not that in obeying orders your are enforcing the will of tyrants? Jefferson once said “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

I honestly don’t know why it is not plainly obvious to all what is happening in this country. Why is it that some can see it while others are blind to the fact that we are turning into a police state with our rights all but gone? Is it that you have been indoctrinated by the public education system into believing that your government can do these things? My God people, the truth is out there to learn if you would just open your eyes and read it! Or do you simply not care, are your concerns for self-gratification and entertainment more important to you than your liberty?

Whatever it is, by your actions, [your continued voting for candidates who clearly don’t understand the limits the Constitution imposes upon them], you have allowed government to grow into this beast that basically watches over you, listens to your every conversation, tells you what you can say, where you can say it, and has begun telling what you can and cannot eat. Doesn’t this worry you in the slightest?

You know, I’m almost 55 years old now. I have seen MY rights, MY freedom become so limited in this half century of existence that I look around and say, “This cannot be America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.” If the government of Dwight D. Eisenhower or John F. Kennedy, [Presidents at the time of my birth and infancy], had suddenly enacted all the laws that we now live under, there would have been a revolution, IMMEDIATELY!

But because these laws have been enacted incrementally, because they have been enacted during times of crisis to assure the people that the government has their safety and security in mind, we have allowed them to turn us from free men into mere serfs.

I catch hell from both sides, Republicans and Democrats. Both tell me that I do not love my country, while some go as far as calling me a traitor or treasonous in my speech. Yet, from my perspective, I feel I love my country more than they do because I support the principles it was founded upon, while they support the platform of the political party of their choice.

My last article may have struck a nerve with some, especially those whose eyes have been opened and see what is happening. I hope I did not come across as insulting to them as it was intended more for those who continue to believe in a system that is clearly broken and no longer gives one iota about preserving our rights and liberty. It was written more out of frustration because I see the end of the country I love on the horizon, and nobody else I talk to does. Even worse, I don’t see any means of preventing it.

For those who still have faith in the system, believe it is doing exactly what it is that it was intended to do, if you would just turn off your TV’s for awhile, put down your cellphones and your silly video games, and pick up a copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and read them. Learn what it is your government is supposed to do, then compare that to what it IS doing. Then stop voting for treasonous bastards…AT ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT!

For cryin out loud, how can people like Harry Reid, John McCain, and Dianne Feinstein continually get reelected? The ONLY reason is because the people want the things they promise them. They want to feel safe, secure, and fed…all at the expense of being free. Well if you want those things, you can go to prison, because there you will be fed, sheltered, and given free medical care…BUT YOU WON’T BE FREE!

But, keep one thing in mind, I won’t go along with it if this country continues on its current path, and neither will others. We will not go quietly into bondage, no matter how willing YOU are! As Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.”

Many of us, at some point in our lives, have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution and bear true allegiance to the same. That oath has no expiration date, and if needs be, we WILL honor it with our lives. Can you say the same about your beliefs?

Comments may be sent to: bonsai@syix.com

or posted on my blog at: http://www.zombie-slayer.com/neal/

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The 441 TRILLION Dollar Interest Rate Derivatives Time Bomb

06/25/2013

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/the-441-trillion-dollar-interest-rate-derivative-timb-bomb

6-25-2013 11-56-58 AM

By Michael Snyder

Do you want to know the primary reason why rapidly rising interest rates could take down the entire global financial system?  Most people might think that it would be because the U.S. government would have to pay much more interest on the national debt.  And yes, if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rose to just 6 percent (and it has actually been much higher in the past), the federal government would be paying out about a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.  But that isn’t it.  Nor does the primary reason have to do with the fact that rapidly rising interest rates would impose massive losses on bond investors.  At this point, it is being projected that if U.S. bond yields rise by an average of 3 percentage points, it will cause investors to lose a trillion dollars.  Yes, that is a 1 with 12 zeroes after it ($1,000,000,000,000).  But that is not the number one danger posed by rapidly rising interest rates either.  Rather, the number one reason why rapidly rising interest rates could cause the entire global financial system to crash is because there are more than 441 TRILLION dollars worth of interest rate derivatives sitting out there.  This number comes directly from the Bank for International Settlements – the central bank of central banks.  In other words, more than $441,000,000,000,000 has been bet on the movement of interest rates.  Normally these bets do not cause a major problem because rates tend to move very slowly and the system stays balanced.  But now rates are starting to skyrocket, and the sophisticated financial models used by derivatives traders do not account for this kind of movement.

So what does all of this mean?

It means that the global financial system is potentially heading for massive amounts of trouble if interest rates continue to soar.

Today, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasury bonds rocketed up to 2.66% before settling back to 2.55%.  The chart posted below shows how dramatically the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has moved in recent days…

6-25-2013 11-57-44 AM

Right now, the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is about 30 percent above its 50 day moving average.  That is the most that it has been above its 50 day moving average in 50 years.

Like I mentioned above, we are moving into uncharted territory and this data doesn’t really fit into the models used by derivatives traders.

The yield on 5 year U.S. Treasuries has been moving even more dramatically…

6-25-2013 11-58-07 AM

Last week, the yield on 5 year U.S. Treasuries rose by an astounding 37 percent.  That was the largest increase in 50 years.

Once again, this is uncharted territory.

If rates continue to shoot up, there are going to be some financial institutions out there that are going to start losing absolutely massive amounts of money on interest rate derivative contracts.

So exactly what is an interest rate derivative?

The following is how Investopedia defines interest rate derivatives…

A financial instrument based on an underlying financial security whose value is affected by changes in interest rates. Interest-rate derivatives are hedges used by institutional investors such as banks to combat the changes in market interest rates. Individual investors are more likely to use interest-rate derivatives as a speculative tool – they hope to profit from their guesses about which direction market interest rates will move.

They can be very complicated, but I prefer to think of them in very simple terms.  Just imagine walking into a casino and placing a bet that the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries will hit 2.75% in July.  If it does reach that level, you win.  If it doesn’t, you lose.  That is a very simplistic example, but I think that it is a helpful one.  At the heart of it, the 441 TRILLION dollar derivatives market is just a bunch of people making bets about which way interest rates will go.

And normally the betting stays very balanced and our financial system is not threatened.  The people that run this betting use models that are far more sophisticated than anything that Las Vegas uses.  But all models are based on human assumptions, and wild swings in interest rates could break their models and potentially start causing financial losses on a scale that our financial system has never seen before.

We are potentially talking about a financial collapse far worse than anything that we saw back in 2008.

Remember, the U.S. national debt is just now approaching 17 trillion dollars.  So when you are talking about 441 trillion dollars you are talking about an amount of money that is almost unimaginable.

Meanwhile, China appears to be on the verge of another financial crisis as well.  The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers

China is on the verge of a “Lehman” moment as its shadow banking system implodes. China had pumped roughly $1.6 trillion in new credit (that’s 21% of GDP) into its economy in the last two quarters… and China GDP growth is in fact slowing.

This is what a credit bubble bursting looks like: the pumping becomes more and more frantic with less and less returns.

And Chinese stocks just experienced their largest decline since 2009.  The second largest economy on earth is starting to have significant financial problems at the same time that our markets are starting to crumble.

Not good.

And don’t forget about Europe.  European stocks have had a very, very rough month so far

The narrow EuroStoxx 50 index is now at its lowest in over seven months (-5.4% year-to-date and -12.5% from its highs in May) and the broader EuroStoxx 600 is also flailing lower. The European bank stocks pushed down to their lowest in almost 10 months and are nowin bear market territory – down 22.5% from their highs. Spain and Italy are now testing their lowest level in 9 months.

So are the central banks of the world going to swoop in and rescue the financial markets from the brink of disaster?

At this point it does not appear likely.

As I have written about previously, the Bank for International Settlements is the central bank for central banks, and it has a tremendous amount of influence over central bank policy all over the planet.

The other day, the general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, Jaime Caruana, gave a speech entitled “Making the most of borrowed time“.  In that speech, he made it clear that the era of extraordinary central bank intervention was coming to an end.  The following is one short excerpt from that speech…

“Ours is a call for acting responsibly now to strengthen growth and avoid even costlier adjustment down the road. And it is a call for recognizing that returning to stability and prosperity is a shared responsibility. Monetary policy has done its part. Recovery now calls for a different policy mix – with more emphasis on strengthening economic flexibility and dynamism and stabilizing public finances.”

Monetary policy has done its part?

That sounds pretty firm.

And if you read the entire speech, you will see that Caruana makes it clear that he believes that it is time for the financial markets to stand on their own.

But will they be able to?

As I wrote about yesterday, the U.S. financial system is a massive Ponzi scheme that is on the verge of imploding.  Unprecedented intervention by the Federal Reserve has helped to prop it up for the last couple of years, and there is a lot of fear in the financial world about what is going to happen once that unprecedented intervention is gone.

So what happens next?

Well, nobody knows for sure, but one thing seems certain.  The last half of 2013 is shaping up to be very, very interesting.

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