Friday, September 23, 2016

She's your humble servant -- not the debaters

As the tension mounts for the upcoming presidential debate I suggest we keep one fact foremost in mind.  The two candidates are, in truth, and at best, fools.  They believe, as do the voters evidently, that they can run other people’s lives, and for that reason want to tower over the lives and livelihoods of some 320 million Americans.

But wait, you say — the president doesn’t simply impose his will on the nation.  He carries out a program concocted by faces both seen and unseen.  And of course you’re right.  Those faces constitute what some call the Deep State and others the National Security State and still others the Secret Government.  And others Big Brother.  Policy is enacted through horse trading carried out in back rooms.  And untouchable bureaucracies issuing decrees.

Voters know this if you press them on it, but they go to the polls anyway because if no one did we’d collapse into tyranny.  So voters vote believing they’ve got this thing called the federal government in their hands and dismiss any suggestion that by voting it’s the other way around.  We’re still a free people, even if the US president can jail or kill anyone on his own discretion.  The president needs this power to safeguard our freedom. 

So, imagine, you Trump-haters out there, if he wins the jackpot.  Will you be targeted?  Same with you Hillary-haters.  Based on what you’ve seen and heard in the campaigns, do you think either one will repeal this power?  Do you think either one would hesitate to use it?  Or expand on it?

Whatever you’re voting for this November, it ain’t freedom.

But there is one bright voice available who lives in your pocket or purse.  She’s incapable of assassinating you.   She can’t bail out the big shots.  She can’t issue executive orders.  She can't tell you how to run your business.  She can’t tax you.  She can’t dilute the purchasing power of the dollars you spend.  She can't create financial crises.  She can’t send your kids overseas to fight in an undeclared war.  Or a declared one.  She can't create a false flag operation.  Unlike a politician she’s almost always at your beck and call.  She’s a loyal servant, not your master.  

As a politician, therefore, she’s completely inept.  

She’s knowledgeable but doesn’t pretend to be all-knowing.  She can speak languages from Arabic to Turkish.  She can guide you on a trip from point A to point B.  If you make a wrong turn she can get you back on course quickly.  She’s better at math than most people.  She can even tell a joke.

Which is better, Hillary (or Trump) in the White House, exposed to God-knows-what corrupt forces — or Siri in your pocket, helping you through your day?

And it’s “you,” not “us.”  It’s not one person organizing a nation like a herd of livestock.  She’s an algorithm with a pleasant voice answering your questions, addressing your needs.

Sure, she could be better at helping you — much better.  But at least she exists for that purpose.  What about the candidates on Monday night — what will they do for you?  Kill more foreigners?  Print more money?  Arrest more people?  Tell more lies?  

Siri doesn’t kill, print, arrest, or lie.  Fatal shortcomings for a politician.  All she does is try to answer your questions. 

Ever since her debut there have been those who grouse about her inadequacies.  We also heard complaints about the state of medical care in the country.  Siri keeps getting better.  And medical care?  ObamaCare drove my PCP into early retirement.

The betting sites are alive with action on who will win in November.  Meanwhile, Siri and other digital personal assistants approach the prime of their digital lives, threatening the political class with extinction.  

For those who think a truly helpful Siri is too far in the future, consider how she responds to questions put to her today.


  

















   
   
  











Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another day in government's office

Today as I do every day I went to my website’s many RSS feeds and read reports and commentaries that have become painfully familiar.  Here are some items I found:

David Stockman’s hard-hitting article that urges Donald Trump to slam the Fed in the upcoming presidential debate for its crucifixion of what Stockman calls Flyover America.  “The Fed’s core policies of 2% inflation and 0% interest rates . . . are based on the specious academic theory that financial gambling fuels economic growth and that all economic classes prosper from inflation and march in lockstep together as prices and wages ascend on the Fed’s appointed path.”  Stockman adds: “Putting the wood to the Fed is the right answer for what ails the American economy. Monday night would be a good place for the Donald to line-up with the 90% who have been left behind.”

Unfortunately, putting the wood to the Fed doesn’t mean eliminating it, in Stockman’s view.  

Ron Paul’s Liberty Report that featured former state department official Peter Van Buren as a guest discussing the Snowden movie and the nightmare surveillance state in which we have been caged in the name of protecting us.  You better not become a “person of interest” if you’ve ever so much as given the appearance of venturing from morally approved paths.  If Big Brother takes an interest in you, no part of your life, past or present, will be hidden from its all-seeing eyes.

But wait — you say you’re a good guy, have done nothing wrong, have nothing to hide, and therefore don’t care that BB is watching your every move?

Think again.

Who says you’ve done nothing wrong?  As security expert Bruce Schneier wrote in 2006, “the government gets to define what's wrong, and they keep changing the definition."  Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ("Who watches the watchers?”)  

And you have nothing to hide?  Words can be taken out of context.  Intended humor can be misconstrued.  Someone may have it in for you.  The issue is not security versus privacy.  It’s privacy versus control.  Schneier, quoting Cardinal Richelieu: ”If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.”

The frightening but unsurprising trend of tech companies amplifying the war-making powers of government through ever more powerful autonomous killer robots.  “When it comes to lethal autonomous systems, proponents argue that they could one day save lives, precisely targeting only opposing soldiers and machines while leaving civilians safe from harm.”  Right.  And who determines what those soldiers will look like?  US enemies have a nasty habit of dressing like civilians.  Safer to wipe out everyone than risk not killing a “terrorist.” 

Lew Rockwell’s speech on War and the State, and the many ways it has distorted our lives and the lives of others.  “War and [war propaganda] encourages us to think of other peoples as dispensable or simply beneath us. A wedding party is blown to smithereens in Afghanistan, and Americans yawn. But we’d certainly pay attention if the federal government blew away a wedding party in Providence, Rhode Island.”

Robert Wenzel’s report on former Speaker John Boehner joining the law and lobby firm Squire Patton Boggs.  

“With Speaker Boehner joining our team, we're better positioned than ever to grow our brand throughout the world and to fully capitalize on our integrated global platform,” said Squire Patton Boggs CEO Mark Ruehlmann in a statement.  Boehner’s “former deputy chief of staff, Dave Schnittger, and former policy adviser, Natasha Hammond, already work at Squire Patton Boggs.”  Nothing like a revolving door to capitalize on an “integrated global platform.”

The Guardian reports on Donald Trump’s plan to take the oil from all the states controlled by ISIS, particularly Iraq.  Starve the savages.  Quoting Trump: “We go in, we spend $3tn, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then … what happens is we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils.”  And: “You’re not stealing anything,” Trump said. “We’re reimbursing ourselves … at a minimum, and I say more. We’re taking back $1.5tn to reimburse ourselves.”   

Let’s see.  The Iraq invasion of 2003 was a war based on lies. Writes Amy Goodman:
Just one year after the invasion, at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association annual dinner in Washington, D.C., President Bush joked to the hundreds of journalists at the gathering, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere.” Slides of Bush crouched on the floor of the Oval Office, looking for WMDs under the furniture, accompanied his comedy routine. As dead U.S. service members were brought back to Dover Air Force Base, where photographing the body bags was banned, and while Iraqi corpses piled up in streets and morgues, Bush’s behavior was unfathomable.
After the government’s killing, maiming, and rendering homeless tens of thousands of Iraqis and destroying their infrastructure, a Trump administration would find a way to steal the country’s oil.  Is that not like murdering a man then cleaning out his bank account?  

Might as well strip the US government from all moral pretenses.  Make the Iraqi’s pay for the US government’s mendacity, death and destruction.   That will certainly cast a healing pall over the devastated Middle East. 

Jacob Hornberger comments on the recent blowback in New York City and New Jersey.  “U.S. foreign interventionism in the Middle East has been the motivating factor for every act of anti-American terrorism since 1993, when terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center,” he writes.  

The US government has killed people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya, yet Americans are shocked and puzzled over why some of them retaliate.  In Hornberger’s words:
Under no circumstances can the U.S. killing of people in the Middle East be permitted to stop. 
The reason is simple: The national-security branch knows that if the troops were to be brought home today, anti-American terrorism would evaporate. 
What would that mean? It would mean no more “war on terrorism.” After all, if there is no more anti-American terrorism, then why do we need a “war on terrorism”? Why do we need a PATRIOT Act, an assassination program, Gitmo, secret surveillance schemes, indefinite detention, and perpetual state of emergency?
And so on.    

This is the US deep state at work.  It’s been doing this for as long as it could get away with it, which goes back no later than the Spanish American War in 1898.  And on Monday night, September 26, there will be a debate between the latest candidates to serve this rogue institution.  A record number of viewers is predicted by some experts, even though it will be competing with another major entertainment event, Monday Night Football.  

Paraphrasing Russell Crowe as fighter James J. Braddock in Cinderella Man, at least football players can see who’s hitting them.  American voters cannot. 

If by chance you find the news and candidates appalling and want some assurance that dawn might be approaching instead of an oncoming freight train, consider this inspirational video: “Surgeons in Oxford have used a robot to operate inside the eye - in a world first. A team at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital used the device, controlled via a joystick, to remove a membrane one hundredth of a millimetre thick. Patient Bill Beaver, 70, said it was "a fairytale”.”  Mr. Beaver was going blind in his right eye, which the surgery corrected.

Better a “fairy tale” surgery than a nightmare presidential campaign.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Choose your elections wisely

So, you’re planning to be a responsible American on Election Day and cast your vote.  Fine, but ask yourself why.   Is it any more than a ritual?  Is the engine of government something you can control through elections you don’t control?   Do you think if you put a voice for liberty in the Oval Office that voice would last long?  Are any of the candidates even selling liberty?  Are you looking to buy it, or do you just want in on the scam?

Further, what would motivate an institution — government — which is fundamentally anti-liberty to surrender any of its power?  Government has been for sale to the highest bidders for a long time.  Nothing gets changed without their approval.  Are you one of those highest bidders?  Probably not.

On November 22, 1963, when Lee Harvey Oswald declared himself a patsy in the murder of President John F. Kennedy, he provided a clue about the power center of this country.  It isn’t the president, it isn’t Congress or the Court.  It most definitely is not the voters.

Boston Globe journalist Jordan Michael Smith explains:
Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, [political scientist Michael] Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy. (emphasis added)
How did this “double government” come about?

William Norman Grigg provides a summary:
Following World War II, there was no general demobilization in the United States — something that had never happened before in the nation’s history. In 1947, Congress passed the National Security Act, which created the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and created the framework for a permanent, globe-spanning military establishment under the aegis of what was now called the Department of Defense. Five years later, the National Security Agency, which originated as the US Army’s Cipher Bureau and Military Intelligence Branch in World War I, was given institutional permanence as well. 
These initiatives grew out of the open-ended Cold War conflict with the Soviet Union, which was described as a crisis of sufficient magnitude to justify putting the United States on a permanent war footing.
The National Security State 
During the 1950s, under the direction of Allen Dulles, the CIA coordinated “extremely bloody coups throughout the world,” writes Ben Terrall, in a review of David Talbot’s The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government.  If overthrowing governments sounds made to order for Nazis, you would be correct.  Terrall, quoting Talbot, writes:
Like many convicted Nazi criminals in the early Cold War years, a number of the Nuremberg defendants sentenced to prison were later the beneficiaries of politically motivated interventions and early releases; few of the many thousand convicted Nazis were still in prison after 1953. A number of those interventions on behalf of fortunate war criminals could be traced to the quiet stratagems of Allen Dulles.
Allen and his brother John, who served as Secretary of State, “used the Cold War to protect the interests of their law firm’s clients, and they used it to enhance the power and budgets associated with their high positions in government,” writes Paul Craig Roberts.  
Whenever a reformist democratic government appeared in Latin America the Dulles brothers saw it as a threat to the holdings that their law firm’s clients had in that country. These holdings, sometimes acquired with bribes to nondemocratic governments, diverted the country’s resources and wealth into American hands, and that is the way the Dulles brothers intended to keep it. The reformist government would be declared Marxist or Communist, and the CIA and State Department would work together to overthrow it and place back in power a dictator in bed with Washington. 
The Cold War was pointless except for the Dulles brothers’ interests and those of the military/security complex. The Soviet government, unlike the US government today, had no world hegemonic aspirations. Stalin had declared “Socialism in one country” and purged the Trotskyists, the advocates of world revolution. 
Peace with communists?  A national security threat
At the time of JFK’s assassination French reporter Jean Daniel, acting as an emissary for the president, was in Cuba conducting private peace negotiations.  But the CIA already knew what needed to be done about Kennedy.   

Over the final months of JFK’s presidency [Talbot writes], a clear consensus took shape within America’s deep state: Kennedy was a national security threat. For the good of the country, he must be removed. And Dulles was the only man with the stature, connections, and decisive will to make something of this enormity happen. He had already assembled a killing machine overseas. Now he prepared to bring it home to Dallas.

Jacob Hornberger, in The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State, addresses the issue of national security and what it has cost not just Americans but people everywhere:
Four separate amendments in the Bill of Rights address the power of the federal government to take people, both Americans and foreigners, into custody and to inflict harm on them: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. Due process of law, right to counsel, grand-jury indictments, trial by jury, search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishments, bail, speedy trial — they are all expressly addressed, reflecting how important they were to our American ancestors and to their concept of a free society. 
In the age of national security, all of those protections have been rendered moot. They have all been trumped by the concept of national security. 
Ironically, the term isn’t even found in the Constitution. One searches in vain for some grant of power anywhere in that document relating to “national security.”
One also searches it vain for a precise definition of “national security.”  It is, as Hornberger says, “whatever the government says it is.”  It’s at once nonsense and the most important term in our lives.
One of the most fascinating aspects of all this is how successful the government has been in convincing Americans of two things: that all this is necessary to keep them safe and, at the same time, that America has continued to be a free country notwithstanding the fact that the government has acquired and has exercised totalitarian powers in order to preserve national security. . . .
When Americans read that the Soviet government rounded up its own people and sent them into the Gulag, they recoil against the exercise of such totalitarian powers. . . . 
But when the U.S. government does such things or even just claims the authority to do them — in the name of national security — the mindset of the average American automatically shifts. . .
The main components of the national security establishment, he tells us, are the military-industrial complex and the CIA.  
They are the entities that enforce the sanctions and embargoes and engage in the invasions, occupations, regime-change operations, coups, assassinations, torture, indefinite incarcerations, renditions, partnerships with totalitarian regimes, and executions — all in the name of “national security.”
The national security establishment is the godfather of what Doug Casey refers to as the Deep State, which “is a real, but informal, structure that has arisen to not just profit from, but control, the State.”
The Deep State has a life of its own, like the government itself. It’s composed of top-echelon employees of a dozen Praetorian agencies, like the FBI, CIA, and NSA…top generals, admirals, and other military operatives…long-term congressmen and senators…and directors of important regulatory agencies. 
But Deep State is much broader than just the government. It includes the heads of major corporations, all of whom are heavily involved in selling to the State and enabling it. That absolutely includes Silicon Valley, although those guys at least have a sense of humor, evidenced by their “Don’t Be Evil” motto. It also includes all the top people in the Fed, and the heads of all the major banks, brokers, and insurers. Add the presidents and many professors at top universities, which act as Deep State recruiting centers…all the top media figures, of course…and many regulars at things like Bohemian Grove and the Council on Foreign Relations. They epitomize the status quo, held together by power, money, and propaganda.
The free market versus the State

We hear a lot of talk about how good democracy is.  But is it?  What’s the distinction between political democracy and what has been called market democracy?  Government is bureaucratic.  It promotes “the leveling of the governed,” or as Gary North puts it, 
"the flattening of the voters." They are flat on their bellies. The bureaucrats walk over them. 
On the free or even semi-free market companies have to answer to their customers.  Those that don’t, including the Big Boys, find themselves in trouble.  North writes:
Kodak's executives refused to develop digital cameras because they feared that the new cameras would destroy their business. They feared cannibalizing their own company. But as Steve Jobs famously said, "If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will."  
Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012.

Then there’s the famous case of IBM.  Personal computers?  They were toys, distractions for the little people.  Fancy calculators at best.  The IBM PC sold well in the early eighties, but the company balked at supporting newer chips.  Compaq didn’t, and snatched the PC market lead from IBM.  As North tells us, “IBM finally sold its PC line to China in 2005: Lenovo.”

Governments, of course, work differently than markets.  They are not subject to market forces of profit and loss.  Government's revenue stream is theft.  As government bureaucracies manifest their incompetence and/or corruption, they become eligible for new management and bigger budgets.   Recall Katrina and FEMA.

This is the heart of the matter.  The market, we’re told, is evil, powered by selfish impulses of survival and profit.  Never mind that under a system of property rights this creates an Invisible Hand that promotes peace, prosperity and harmony.  Government, we’re forever reminded, is good, has only the best intentions as it forever makes life worse, leaving us with perpetual wars, debt and divisiveness. 

Election Day for presidents comes every four years.  “Elections” on the market are around-the-clock affairs.  “The free market is a genuine democracy that offers all the benefits supposedly found in democratic political systems without their drawbacks,” says Matt McCaffrey.  I strongly recommend reading his article.

Go ahead and vote but choose your elections wisely.