Monday, March 31, 2014

The thing that really upsets me, is that I used to believe these liars...

United Nations Continues To Advance Its Depopulation Efforts: The Latest IPCC Report

Lizzie Bennett
Underground Medic
March 31st, 2014
Reader Views: 249


Scientific study to produce a comprehensive report means that all sides of an issue have to be looked at.
Bearing that in mind, how can the IPCC, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change state in their new, most comprehensive report to date, they have scientific evidence that climate change…on the warming side, is going to have major implications for the future of mankind?
Once again they have investigated global warming not climate change. If they had investigated climate change they would have looked at the possibility of the planet cooling and they have not. Looking at both sides of an issue is what makes a study scientifically sound, it’s what makes a report something that can be called comprehensive.
What we see once again from the IPCC is a one sided and biased view of the impacts of one sort of climate change only.
The report has been published just three weeks after real scientists warn that we may be entering an El Nino, and a strong one at that. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
  • El Nino cycles release massive amounts of tropical heat into the atmosphere and can raise global temperatures to record levels.
  • Above normal levels of rainfall hits many coastal areas such as California changing drought to flood in a short space of time.
  • Water evaporates more readily due to increased temperatures leading to shortages in some areas.
  • Hurricanes are suppressed
  • Ice melt due to elevated temperatures.
  • Winter snow is reduced to almost nothing in many usually snowy areas.
  • Crops can be ruined and harvests reduced on those that remain.
  • Pacific Northwest sees a decline in the amount of salmon caught and in the size of the fish.
All of these things are also on the IPCC list of events that signify climate change…AKA global warming.
This is the map that the BBC has produced based on the latest reports. Comparing it to the list above is interesting to say the least.
The timing of the IPCC report will mesh very nicely with the often intense heat an El Nino creates. Of course it’s possible that the favourable conditions will subside and  it will just fizzle out and the El Nino will not arrive at all.
We should assume that in order to save face that geoengineering methods  currently employed by the warmists will continue so as not to disrupt the accelerating One World Government movement that is being implemented by the elite.
By controlling the weather they will control the food, and by controlling the food they will control the people.
The IPCC is quite open about the fact that it doesn’t check on the science supplied to it by it’s ‘volunteer scientists’ and that it conducts no scientific research of its own. From the IPCC website:
The IPCC is a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.
So, scientists from around the world, send in their opinions about what is happening with the weather and the IPCC collate it and produce a report.
It’s rather like a kidnapper cutting letters out of various newspapers to form a ransom note. If you have enough small snippets you can assemble them to say anything you like. (source)
What I’d really like to see is a list of those scientists, you can bet your bottom dollar that the majority of them work for governments with a very vested interest in pushing the global warming agenda.
Take care
Washington Post
NOAA Delivered by The Daily Sheeple

Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.

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All men of good conscience must join me and stand...

Aid to Ukraine Is a Bad Deal For All

Ron Paul
March 31, 2014

Last week Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill approving a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine and more sanctions on Russia. The bill will likely receive the president’s signature within days. If you think this is the last time US citizens will have their money sent to Ukraine, you should think again. This is only the beginning.
This $1 billion for Ukraine is a rip-off for the America taxpayer, but it is also a bad deal for Ukrainians. Not a single needy Ukrainian will see a penny of this money, as it will be used to bail out international banks who hold Ukrainian government debt. According to the terms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-designed plan for Ukraine, life is about to get much more difficult for average Ukrainians. The government will freeze some wage increases, significantly raise taxes, and increase energy prices by a considerable margin.
But the bankers will get paid and the IMF will get control over the Ukrainian economy.
The bill also authorizes more US taxpayer money for government-funded “democracy promotion” NGOs, and more money to broadcast US government propaganda into Ukraine via Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. It also includes some saber-rattling, directing the US Secretary of State to “provide enhanced security cooperation with Central and Eastern European NATO member states.”
The US has been “promoting democracy” in Ukraine for more than ten years now, but it doesn’t seem to have done much good. Recently a democratically-elected government was overthrown by violent protestors. That is the opposite of democracy, where governments are changed by free and fair elections. What is shocking is that the US government and its NGOs were on the side of the protestors! If we really cared about democracy we would not have taken either side, as it is none of our business.
Washington does not want to talk about its own actions that led to the coup, instead focusing on attacking the Russian reaction to US-instigated unrest next door to them. So the new bill passed by Congress will expand sanctions against Russia for its role in backing a referendum in Crimea, where most of the population voted to join Russia. The US, which has participated in the forced change of borders in Serbia and elsewhere, suddenly declares that international borders cannot be challenged in Ukraine.
Those of us who are less than gung-ho about sanctions, manipulating elections, and sending our troops overseas are criticized as somehow being unpatriotic. It happened before when so many of us were opposed to the Iraq war, the US attack on Libya, and elsewhere. And it is happening again to those of us not eager to get in another cold — or hot — war with Russia over a small peninsula that means absolutely nothing to the US or its security.
I would argue that real patriotism is defending this country and making sure that our freedoms are not undermined here. Unfortunately, while so many are focused on freedoms in Crimea and Ukraine, the US Congress is set to pass an NSA “reform” bill that will force private companies to retain our personal data and make it even easier for the NSA to spy on the rest of us. We need to refocus our priorities toward promoting liberty in the United States!

Where were you when the lights went out, when your full faith in the system quickly turned to doubt?

12 Signs That Something Big Is Happening To The Earth’s Crust Under North And South America

Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse
March 31, 2014
Why are fault lines and volcanoes all over North and South America suddenly waking up?  Are we moving into a time when major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions will become much more common?  For the past several decades, we have been extremely fortunate to have experienced a period of extremely low seismic activity along the west coast of the United States.  You see, the west coast lies right along the infamous Ring of Fire. 
Image: Andes, Chile (Wiki Commons).
Approximately 75 percent of all the volcanoes in the world are on the Ring of Fire, and approximately 90 percent of all global earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.  Scientists tell us that it is inevitable that “the Big One” will hit California someday, but people have gotten very apathetic about this because things have been so quiet out there for so many years.  Well, now it appears that things are changing in a big way – and not just along the California coast.  The following are 12 signs that something big is happening to the earth’s crust under North and South America…
#1 The 5.1 earthquake that shook Los Angeles on Friday was the worst earthquake that the city had seen in many years.
#2 Following that earthquake, there were more than 100 aftershocks.
#3 A 4.1 earthquake shook Los Angeles on Saturday.  Scientists are hoping that this earthquake swarm in southern California will end soon.
#4 Earlier this month, a 4.4 earthquake rattled Los Angeles so badly that it caused news anchors to dive under their desks.
#5 A 6.9 earthquake just off the coast of northern California in early March was the largest earthquake to hit the west coast of the United States since 2010.
#6 Up in Oregon, Mt. Hood recently experienced more than 100 earthquakes over the course of just a few days.
#7 During the past month, there have also been some other very unusual geologic events that have been happening up in Oregon
  • Two large landslides – one in the Columbia River Gorge dumped about 2,000 cubic yards of rock and debris on highway I84 just 3 miles west of the Hood River, and another blocked US30 near Portland.
  • Loud booms and ground shaking reported by people from Lincoln to Tillamook Counties; some reported hearing a rumble, as well (No earthquakes recorded by the USGS in the area at the time.)
  • A 20 ft. deep sinkhole swallowed a woman and her dog in her Portland backyard.
#8 A 4.8 earthquake rattled Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, and there have been at least 25 earthquakes at Yellowstone since Thursday.
#9 Scientists recently discovered that the Yellowstone supervolcano is now releasing far more helium gas than they had anticipated.
#10 Over the past month, there have been more than 130 earthquakes in the state of Oklahoma.  This is highly unusual.
#11 There have been several dozen earthquakes in Peru over the past month, including a 6.3 earthquake that made headlines all over the globe.
#12 Earlier this month, the northern coast of Chile was hit by more than 300 earthquakes in a seven day stretch.  41 of those earthquakes were stronger than magnitude 4.5.
Fortunately, the quake that hit Los Angeles on Friday did not cause too much lasting injury.  But it sure did shake people up.  The following is how the Los Angeles Times described the damage…
The quake, centered near La Habra, caused furniture to tumble, pictures to fall off walls and glass to break. Merchandise fell off store shelves, and there were reports of plate glass windows shattered.
In Brea, several people suffered minor injuries during a rock slide that overturned their car. Fullerton reported seven water main breaks. Carbon Canyon Road was closed.
Residents across Orange and Los Angeles counties and the Inland Empire reported swinging chandeliers, fireplaces dislodging from walls and lots of rattled nerves. The shake caused a rock slide in Carbon Canyon, causing a car to overturn, according to the Brea Police Department.
Why this particular earthquake is of such concern is because it occurred along the Puente Hills fault line.  According to one seismologist, this is the fault line that would be most likely to “eat L.A.”
Experts said that the earthquakes occurred on the Puente Hills thrust fault, which stretches from the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles.
Last night’s quake was shallow, which ‘means the shaking is very concentrated in a small area,’ said Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson.
Hauksson revealed that the earthquake was unusual because the 5.1 quake was preceded by the weaker foreshock.
Scientists such as Hauksson are very concerned about the Puente Hills fault because it runs directly under downtown Los Angeles.
This is the fault that could eat L.A.,’ seismologist Sue Hough told The LA Times in 2003.
The fact that this fault appears to be waking up is really bad news.
According to seismologists, a major earthquake along this fault line could cause hundreds of billions of dollars of damage
Video simulations of a rupture on the Puente Hills fault system show how energy from a quake could erupt and be funneled toward L.A.’s densest neighborhoods, with the strongest waves rippling to the west and south across the Los Angeles Basin.
According to estimates by the USGS and Southern California Earthquake Center, a massive quake on the Puente Hills fault could kill from 3,000 to 18,000 people and cause up to $250 billion in damage. Under this worst-case scenario, people in as many as three-quarters of a million households would be left homeless.
For years, we have watched as the rest of the Ring of Fire has been absolutely ravaged by major seismic events.
We all remember the earthquakes that caused the Indonesian tsunami of 2004 and the Japanese tsunami of 2011.
And the world mourned when major earthquakes devastated New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Japan and the Philippines.
Scientists assured us that it was only a matter of time before the west coast started to become seismically active again, and now it is happening.
If you live on the west coast, I hope that you will consider these things very carefully.
Just because the earth under your feet has been relatively quiet for a very long time does not mean that it will always be that way.
Something big appears to be happening to the earth’s crust, and you won’t want to be in the “danger zone” when things finally break loose.

I just want a government that's sensible and follows a non-aggression principle

What Libertarianism Is, and Isn't


The explosive growth in the number of converts to libertarianism since Ron Paul first ran for president is one of the most exciting developments of my life. But I’d like to issue a note of caution.
There are several ways a young libertarian can distinguish himself. He can be an effective communicator of libertarian ideas as a writer or speaker. He can employ his unique talents — as an artist, animator, interviewer, or whatever — to convey the libertarian message in new and compelling ways. He can become a specialist in some area of scholarly inquiry relevant to libertarianism. Or he can add to the edifice of libertarian thought by solving a longstanding problem, critically reexamining an old question, or applying libertarian theory to new areas as technology develops and civilization evolves.
I can think of people who fit all these descriptions. What distinguishes them all is that they worked very hard to establish their well-deserved niche within the community of libertarian thinkers.
By contrast, people might establish niches for themselves by devising their own peculiar version of libertarianism, and claiming that their discovery alone is the real thing. Not only is this method easier than the ones I described above, but it also allows the creator the pleasure of rendering sanctimonious judgment on those benighted souls who cling to plain old libertarianism, with no labels, no caveats, and no apologies.
Might we gain the sympathy of the left by parroting their language of egalitarianism and loudly proclaiming our allegiance to the moral strictures of the state? It is not absolutely impossible, I suppose. But I consider it far more likely that the left will be amused at such transparent attempts at ingratiation, and go on viewing libertarians with the same contempt as before.
Of course, it’s wonderful to collaborate on important issues with people who have different perspectives from ours. I should not be understood as opposing that. You would be hard pressed to find a more eclectic libertarian website than LRC. Mr. Libertarian himself, Murray N. Rothbard, was happy to talk with and learn from anyone he could, as his wide-ranging library, owned by the Mises Institute, amply attests.
But if we expect to trick people into becoming libertarians, we will fail. And if we think libertarian flirtation with egalitarianism is a good idea, we have already failed.
Yes, we do believe in unfashionable things like the abolition of antidiscrimination law. If we didn’t, we would not be libertarians. Bound up in the principle of freedom of association is every defining libertarian principle: self-ownership, the meaning of property titles, and nonaggression.
It’s easy to defend the rights of people who are popular and whose views are in fashion. It is much more difficult – thankless, even – to defend the rights of those whom society despises. Libertarians need not endorse or actually be such people – I know of no one proposing such a thing – but if we do not defend their rights we are frauds.
Some of what we believe may be hard for people to accept when they first hear it. But in the long run, they are more likely to be persuaded by a consistent and principled libertarian than by one who is obviously trying to curry favor with them.
Consider the example of Ron Paul. He gave straightforward libertarian answers to whatever questions he was asked during his presidential campaigns. As we all should, he got a sense of his audience and explained those ideas in ways they were most likely to understand and appreciate. But he never backed down. Was he opposed to antidiscrimination law? Yes. Did he dissent from the received version of the Civil War, from which the regime derives much of its legitimacy? Yes. And so on down the line of unfashionable answers to the thought-controllers’ questions.
The result? The single greatest increase in youth interest in libertarianism in its entire history.
Ron always conducts himself as a gentleman, of course, and his kindly demeanor, coupled with his pure and unrehearsed remarks, certainly added to his appeal. But people were drawn to him because unlike his focus-grouped opponents, he told them the truth, and without shame or apology.
Libertarianism is concerned with the use of violence in society. That is all. It is not anything else. It is not feminism. It is not egalitarianism (except in a functional sense: everyone equally lacks the authority to aggress against anyone else). It has nothing to say about aesthetics. It has nothing to say about race or nationality. It has nothing to do with left-wing campaigns against “white privilege,” unless that privilege is state-supplied.
Let me repeat: the only “privilege” that matters to a libertarian qua libertarian is the kind that comes from the barrel of the state’s gun. Disagree with this statement if you like, but in that case you will have to substitute some word other than libertarian to describe your philosophy.
Libertarians are of course free to concern themselves with issues like feminism and egalitarianism. But their interest in those issues has nothing to do with, and is not required by or a necessary feature of, their libertarianism. Accordingly, they may not impose these preferences on other libertarians, or portray themselves as fuller, more consistent, or more complete libertarians. We have seen enough of our words twisted and appropriated by others. We do not mean to let them have libertarian.
As Rothbard put it:
There are libertarians who are indeed hedonists and devotees of alternative lifestyles, and that there are also libertarians who are firm adherents of “bourgeois” conventional or religious morality. There are libertarian libertines and there are libertarians who cleave firmly to the disciplines of natural or religious law. There are other libertarians who have no moral theory at all apart from the imperative of non-violation of rights. That is because libertarianism per se has no general or personal moral theory.
Libertarianism does not offer a way of life; it offers liberty, so that each person is free to adopt and act upon his own values and moral principles. Libertarians agree with Lord Acton that “liberty is the highest political end” – not necessarily the highest end on everyone’s personal scale of values.
Libertarians are unsuited to the thought-control business. It’s difficult enough trying to persuade people to adopt views dramatically opposed to what they have been taught throughout their lives. If we can persuade them of the nonaggression principle, we should be delighted. There is no need to complicate things by arbitrarily imposing a slate of regime-approved opinions on top of the core teaching of our philosophy.
Libertarianism is a beautiful and elegant edifice of thought and practice. It begins with and logically builds upon the principle of self-ownership. In the society it calls for, no one may initiate physical force against anyone else. What this says about the libertarian’s view of moral enormities ranging from slavery to war should be obvious, but the libertarian commitment to freedom extends well beyond the clear and obvious scourges of mankind.
Our position is not merely that the state is a moral evil, but that human liberty is a tremendous moral good. Human beings ought to interact with each other on the basis of reason – their distinguishing characteristic – rather Lew Rockwellthan with hangmen and guns. And when they do so, the results, by a welcome happenstance, are rising living standards, an explosion in creativity and technological advance, and peace. Even in the world’s partially capitalist societies, hundreds of millions if not billions of people have been liberated from the miserable, soul-crushing conditions of hand-to-mouth existence in exchange for far more meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Libertarianism, in other words, in its pure and undiluted form, is intellectually rigorous, morally consistent, and altogether exciting and thrilling. It need not and should not be fused with any extraneous ideology. This can lead only to confusion, and to watering down the central moral claims, and the overall appeal, of the message of liberty.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Get off your boredom binge and come join the lunatic fringe

The Taming of Deluded 'Conspiracy Theorists'
Pater Tenebrarum

Look who is warning us again about the great harm conspiracy theories are doing to the minds of impressionable citizens everywhere: Cass Sunstein has emerged at Bloomberg, to once again plead for 'correction' of the many conspiracy theories that are disseminated on that pesky new medium, the intertubes, seemingly without inhibition. Contrary to the infamous paper in which he described how to precisely combat the spreading of false information that lacks the government's seal of approval, he doesn't list his favored censorship and disinformation techniques outright this time, but it is certainly implied that 'something must be done'.
With regard to conspiracy theories, there is a long history of dangerous thought entering the minds of deluded citizens. There were people who long doubted the official version of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, or those who believed that the government's minions were capable of thinking up other 'false flag' activities such as 'Operation Northwoods', or the poor confused souls who argued that Iraq's 'weapons of mass destruction' were a trumped-up pretext for war based on thoroughly politicized intelligence, or the mean-spirited  traitors who charged that the US military killed a Reuter journalist and his helpers in Iraq and then covered it up, or the completely delusional paranoiacs who asserted for many years that the NSA was literally recording everything. Next they're going to say that the official version of the WTC attack lacks credibility, in spite of its enshrinement as unassailable truth following the government's decision to investigate itself!
We incidentally even know of certain people who routinely assert that the scientific and utterly wertfrei monetary policy enacted by well-meaning central banks is harmful and favors certain groups in society over others! Surely such highly dangerous attempts to foment popular dissent need to be properly suppressed before they irreparably disturb the social harmony of the Collective.
Also, consider for a moment the honest and well-intentioned politicians and bureaucrats who advanced the schemes listed above in the national interest. It was only their self-less concern for our well-being that drove them to make a tiny mistake here or there. By accusing them of nefarious motives, the conspiracy theorists have undoubtedly deeply hurt their feelings. It is an outrage crying out for rectification.

What 'Needs to Be Done'

Cass Sunstein certainly knows what needs to be done to ensure that the geistige Volksgesundheit is maintained. The intertubes simply must be corralled to reduce the great harm all this conspiracy theorizing inflicts. In his 2008 paper 'Conspiracy Theories' written with Adrian Vermeule, he proposed the following eminently reasonable measures:
  1. Government might ban conspiracy theorizing.
  2. Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories.
  3. Government might itself engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories.
  4. Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech.
  5. Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help."
Surely number (1) would be most effective and help to conserve resources. But where would be the fun in that? Intellectual combat with the deluded masses is surely more satisfying. We are therefore informed that
However, the authors advocate that each "instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5)”
We should be grateful that these social engineers are thinking up such excellent ways of protecting the already overloaded neural circuits of the citizenry. Incidentally, it seems actually quite possible that the NSA has heard about these useful proposals, considering that its agents “Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations” according to Glenn Greenwald. See, we are already protected!
As a result, have every reason to feel all 'snuggly and secure', as Mark Fiore points out in the video below, which nicely summarizes why we have absolutely nothing to fear.

Snuggly and secure! You have nothing to fear, citizen! As long as you have nothing to hide, are not blowing any whistles you treasonous leaker, or exhibit undue interest in the Bill of Rights.

Techniques of the Demagogue

Sunstein's recent Bloomberg article is quite interesting though in that it nicely demonstrates the demagogic techniques employed in advancing statist interests. One can immediately see that he has learned a few lessons from the push-back he received the first time around. As noted above, he refrains this time from telling us in detail what government should actually do in order to 'reduce the harm from conspiracy theories'.
He merely asserts that such harm exists, encouraging readers to think about  how it might be reduced. He mentions in closing that 'we' need to “persuade the conspiracy theorists to find their way around to the truth”,  but he doesn't say how.
Whenever an author invokes 'us', asserting that 'we' must do this or that, what he really means is actually that the government's apparatus of coercion and compulsion must be set into motion to attain certain goals the author approves of. In recent weeks we have e.g. heard that 'we' must bail out the Ukraine financially, or that 'we' must punish Mr. Putin and his henchmen with sanctions, but this is of course not a call to voluntarily engage in these activities. It is simply an announcement, informing us that those steering the government apparatus will do all these things. 'We' only figure in the sense that 'we' are going to pay for it all (and certainly not voluntarily).
So when Sunstein says that 'we' must 'help' those poor deluded conspiracy theorists, he is actually saying the same things he was saying before, only in a less direct manner. It means the government must intervene.
The other technique on display is the 'straw man' technique. Discussing conspiracy theories in detail, Sunstein deliberately lists many that can either be very easily disproved, or of which it can be assumed that most readers will immediately classify them as nonsense.
At one point he tries to assure us that his approach is evenhanded by conceding that a number of conspiracy theories have later turned out to be the truth, but he immediately reverts to his previous condescending tone, belittling those who show an interest in investigating government misdeeds. He lists three examples: the Watergate scandal, the CIA's MK Ultra program, and the fact that 'aliens have really landed in Roswell' -  in other words, he only lists two examples and immediately downplays their importance by adding a plainly ridiculous third one to the list.

Degrees of Harm

It could even be conceded arguendo that Sunstein succeeds in demonstrating that harm is sometimes inflicted, as e.g. in the context of conspiracy theories surrounding vaccines (we actually don't know what these theories assert, not having delved into the subject in detail; however, the history of modern medicine certainly suggests that a great many scourges that have plagued mankind have been successfully vanquished with the help of vaccines).
So it may be true that there are a small handful of cases when belief in a conspiracy theory might actually harm those believing it. But so what?
Sunstein's proposals as formulated in his original paper (and we have no reason to believe that he has changed his opinion on these points) are infinitely more harmful. Life is never without risks, but the wrongheaded belief held by social engineers that the government must eliminate every last one of them by intervening in every nook and cranny of our lives can ultimately only end in tyranny.
The ubiquitous and all-encompassing surveillance state that has been installed to allegedly 'protect us from terrorists' is actually an excellent example of how extremely misguided these attempts to shield us from every conceivable evil are. The reality is in this case that the threat is statistically minuscule; as we have previously noted, more Americans die from drowning in their bathtubs and even from merely falling off a chairs than from terrorist attacks. And yet, no-one has proposed to spend tens of billions every year to keep tabs on the citizenry's evil furniture, at least not yet. The danger that the gathering of every last scrap of data will be abused is orders of magnitude greater than the danger emanating from terrorists.
Central bank policy is yet another example: the attempt to spare us the pain of economic busts only leads to even bigger economic catastrophes down the road. This has only recently been demonstrated when the interventions following the bursting of the technology bubble resulted in its replacement by the housing bubble. In the end, a far more painful recession than the one the initial intervention sought to mitigate resulted. The same principle will be demonstrated again when the current echo bubble bursts at some point in the future.

The Conspiracy Theory of History

Finally, it should be clear that what one might term a 'conspiracy theory of history' often comes a lot closer to the truth than the officially approved line that is taught in public schools. The one thing that should be clear to every astute observer is that governments routinely lie. They sometimes even admit it, such as JC Juncker did in his function as president of the euro group of finance ministers (this incident serves as an example of how brazen the ruling class has become in modern times; they don't even care anymore how transparent they are).
The fact that governments are lying routinely and are keeping a great many of their activities secret in allegedly 'free societies' is what provides the fertilizer for conspiracy theories. Even in the rare cases when governments tell the truth, many people are no longer inclined to believe them. Distrust of government is however not akin to a mental disease – it is rather a sign that one is alert and keeping one's eyes open. It is also a necessary and healthy approach that provides a small, but important contribution to keeping government abuses in check.
“Anytime that a hard-nosed analysis is put forth of who our rulers are, of how their political and economic interests interlock, it is invariably denounced by Establishment liberals and conservatives (and even by many libertarians) as a "conspiracy theory of history," "paranoid," "economic determinist," and even "Marxist." These smear labels are applied across the board, even though such realistic analyses can be, and have been, made from any and all parts of the economic spectrum, from the John Birch Society to the Communist Party. The most common label is "conspiracy theorist," almost always leveled as a hostile epithet rather than adopted by the "conspiracy theorist" himself.
It is no wonder that usually these realistic analyses are spelled out by various "extremists" who are outside the Establishment consensus. For it is vital to the continued rule of the State apparatus that it have legitimacy and even sanctity in the eyes of the public, and it is vital to that sanctity that our politicians and bureaucrats be deemed to be disembodied spirits solely devoted to the "public good." Once let the cat out of the bag that these spirits are all too often grounded in the solid earth of advancing a set of economic interests through use of the State, and the basic mystique of government begins to collapse.”
(emphasis added)
And this, in a nutshell, is what is really behind Mr. Sunstein's concern with 'conspiracy theories'. It is all about preserving the State's perceived right to rule by letting nothing intrude on the notion that politicians and bureaucrats are 'disembodied spirits solely devoted to the public good' rather than people who pursue their own personal interests.

Paul Krugman's ideas would be funny if they weren't so dangerous

Paul "Contrafactual" Krugman: The Laureate Of Keynesian Babble

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by David Stockman of Contra Corner blog,
If you are not Professor Paul Krugman you probably agree that Washington has left no stone unturned on the Keynesian stimulus front since the crisis of September 2008. The Fed’s balance sheet started that month at $900 billion - a figure it had accumulated mostly in dribs and drabs over the course of its first 94 years. Bubbles Ben then generated the next $900 billion in 7 weeks of mad money printing designed to keep the tottering gambling halls of Wall Street afloat. And by the time the “taper” is over later this year (?) the Fed’s balance sheet will exceed $4.7 trillion.
So $4 trillion in new central bank liabilities in six years. All conjured out of thin air. All monetary vaporware issued in exchange for treasury and GSE paper that had originally financed the consumption of real labor, material and capital resources.
And if $4 trillion of monetary magic was not enough, the action on the fiscal front was no less fulsome. At the time in March 2008 that Goldman’s plenipotentiary in Washington, Secretary Hank Paulson, joined hands with the People’s Tribune from Pacific Heights, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to revive Jimmy Carter’s infamous $50 per family tax rebate, hoping America’s flagging consumers would be induced to buy a flat-screen TV, dinner at Red Lobster or new pair of shoes, the public debt was $9 trillion. It will be $18 trillion by the time the current “un-ceiling” on the Federal debt completes its election year leave of absence next March.
Yet $9 trillion of added national debt in six years is not the half of it. Even our Washington betters do not claim to have outlawed the business cycle, and we are now in month 57 of this expansion. Given that the average expansion during the ten “recovery” cycles since 1950 has been 53 months, it might be argued that we are already on borrowed time fiscally. That is, we have already used up the forward area on Uncle Sam’s balance sheet that is supposed to be available to absorb the predictable eruption of red ink that will occur during the next recession or financial bubble collapse or China melt-down etc.
In fact, peering at the future through its Keynesian goggles, the CBO assumes that the US economy will accelerate to  nearly 3.5 percent average GDP growth until it reaches “full employment” around 2017, and then will remain in that beneficent state for all remaining time, world without end!  Yet even then it projects a cumulative deficit of nearly $10 trillion under “current policy” (i.e. bipartisan can-kicking of expiring tax and spending giveaways) over the next decade.
Given the self-evident economic headwinds both at home and abroad, however, it  would not be unreasonable to set aside CBO’s Rosy Scenario 2.0—a delusion I have some personal familiarity with, having invented the original version 33-years ago to the day. Indeed, a more prudent 10-year macroeconomic scenario might be simply “copy and paste”. That is to say, take the average growth rate of GDP, jobs, income and investment over the past decade and assume that the inevitable macroeconomic bumps and grinds of the next decade will average out about the same.
To be sure, some pessimists might note that more than 27 million working age citizens have dropped off the employment rolls since 2000; that presently 10,000 more are retiring each and every day; and that the ingredients of future growth have been radically short-changed, given that real investment in business fixed assets has averaged less than 1% annually for the past 14 years. So “copy and paste” might be hard to achieve in the real world ahead, but even then the added cumulative Federal deficit would total $15 trillion over the next decade under current policy.
In other words, until the sleepwalking denizens of the Washington beltway “do something” about a fiscal doomsday machine that has been put on auto-pilot since the 2008 crisis, the nation is likely to end up with upwards of $35 trillion of national debt by the middle of the next decade, while a “copy and paste” growth rate of nominal GDP (2000-2013= 4.0%) would end up at $25 trillion. In short, what is built into our fiscal future right now is a Big Fat Greek debt ratio of 140%.
Now comes Professor Krugman proposing to “do something”:
 …. we should aggressively reverse the fiscal austerity of the last few years, getting government at all levels spending several points of GDP more to boost demand…. let’s say for the sake of argument that the right policy is two years of fiscal expansion amounting to 3 percent of GDP each year, plus a permanent rise in the inflation target to 4 percent. These wouldn’t be radical moves in terms of Econ 101 — they are in fact pretty much what textbook models would suggest make sense given what we have learned about macroeconomic vulnerabilities…
In short, Krugman wants to double-down on the lunacy we have already accomplished. His 4% inflation target is just code for re-accelerating the Fed’s money printing machine, thereby keeping real interest in deeply negative terrain for even more years beyond the seven-year ZIRP target the Fed has already promised. And while the Wall Street gamblers who prosper mightily from the free money carry trades enabled by this insult to honest financial markets might not even appreciate the favor, its possible that millions of Main Street households not “indexed” to Krugman’s beneficent 4% inflation target might well notice its impact.
The math is not promising. Under Krugman’s inflation RX, today’s median household income of $51,000 would compute out to $33,000 in constant dollars a decade hence—taking it back to pre-Korean War levels. But do not be troubled, of course, because right there in Krugman’s Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Model (i.e. DSGE) it shows that every Wal-Mart shift supervisor will get at least a 4% wage increase each year, and that all retirees with a decent bundle of lifetime cash savings will earn at least a 4% annual return by investing in Dan Loeb’s hedge fund.
If you do not understand the DSGE, however, you might say good luck with that. And you might say that wantonly adding another $1 trillion to the national debt over the next two years, as Krugman has also prescribed, amounts to carrying “bathtub economics” to a downright absurd extreme.
At the end of the day, Professor Krugman and his Keynesian acolytes believe in a mysterious economic ether called “aggregate demand”.  And through the wonders of their DSGE models they can measure the precise shortfall between aggregate demand under the nirvana of  ”full employment” and the actual level of aggregate demand ( i.e GDP or spending”) generated by 150 million workers and 300 million consumers struggling to make ends meet in today’s real world.  The whole point of fiscal and monetary ”stimulus”, therefore, is to insure that America’s economic bathtub is filled right up to the brim with aggregate demand, thereby insuring maximum growth of jobs, GDP and societal bliss.
Except that “aggregate demand” is a Keynesian fairy-tale that has now been playing for more than a half-century. In fact, spending or GDP cannot be conjured by the fiscal and monetary tricks of the state. Spending can only come from current income, which is the reward for current production; or it can come from borrowing, which is a claim on future income that will reduce borrowing capacity tomorrow  in order to have more spending today.
In fact, four decades of fiscal and monetary stimulus have essentially layered spending from a one-time credit expansion on top of spending from current income. Unfortunately, we are presently nigh onto “peak debt”; that is, the balance sheets of households, business and the public sector have been used up after the great debt party (i.e. national LBO) since 1980 has taken the US economy’s historic leverage ratio (total credit market debt to GDP) from 1.5 turns to 3.5 turns.
That’s evident even in the specious GDP numbers from Washington’s statistical mills. If you set the aside short-run stocking and destocking of inventories in the quarterly GDP figures, the year-over-year gain in final real sales for Q4 2013 was 1.9%; and that’s also close enough for government work to the 2.5% gain ending in Q4 2012; the 1.8% rate in Q4 2011; and the 2.0% gain in Q4 2010.
In short, there is no “escape velocity” because the Fed’s credit channel is broken and done. Going forward, the American people will once again be required to live within their means, spending no more than they produce.
By contrast, Professor Krugman’s destructive recipes are entirely the product of a countrafactual economic universe that does not actually exist. He wants us to borrow and print even more because our macro-economic bathtub is not yet full. And that part is true. It doesn’t even exist.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Excellent analysis on geopolitical affairs - who's the insane one?

‘The Madness of President Putin’
An excellent article, H/T to WRSA, examining Russia, the West, Ukraine and the implications.
Of all the various interpretations Western leaders and commentators have offered for why the president of the Russian Federation has responded the way he has to the events in Ukraine over the course of February and March of 2014—in refusing to acquiesce to the installation of a neo-fascist regime in Kiev, and in upholding the right of Crimea to self-determination—the most striking and illuminating interpretation is that he has gone mad. Striking and illuminating, that is, something in the West itself. 
In times past, the international landscape reflected a multipolar order, a multiplicity of competing ideologies, alternative schemes of social and economic organization. Back then the actions of another country could be understood in terms of its alternative ideology. Even extreme figures—Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot—calling them crazy was an example of hyperbole, an intensified way of describing the brazenness with which they pursued their rationally set political goals. But when Chancellor Angela Merkel asks whether Putin is living “in another world,” echoing a theme in the narrative presented by Western media, the question seems to imply something quite literal. 
We question someone’s sanity when we cannot explain their behavior or logic based on a common understanding of consensual reality. They become utterly unpredictable to us, capable of carrying on a normal conversation one moment and lunging at our throats the next. Their actions appear rash and disordered, as if they inhabit a world parallel to but completely different from the one we do. Putin is portrayed as a fiend, and the West acts baffled and scared. The feigned shock with which the West looks on at the developments in Crimea could be seen as a tactic designed to isolate and intimidate Vladimir Putin. The fact that this tactic is not only not working but actually backfiring changes feigned shock into real shock: Western meds aren’t working any more—on itself or anyone else. 
The West—that is, the United States and the European Union—have played the role of chief psychiatrist in the world insane asylum ever since the USSR fell apart. Prior to 1990 the world was neatly carved up into two competing ideologies locked in a nuclear standoff. But then Mikhail Gorbachev capitulated. He was a champion of “common human values” and wanted to resolve the superpower conflict peacefully, by combining the best of both systems (all the humanistic victories of Soviet socialism plus all the seductive, consumerist prosperity of American capitalism). 
But in effect Gorbachev capitulated; the USSR was dismembered and, over the course of the 1990s, Russia itself came close to being destroyed and dismembered. Although in the West, where he is still a popular figure, Gorbachev is credited with orchestrating a peaceful dissolution of the USSR, the chaotic aftermath of the collapse of the USSR was an extremely traumatic event, with massive loss of life. When Putin calls the collapse of the USSR “the largest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” he echoes the feelings of many Russians—who, by the way, like to call Gorbachev “Mishka mécheny” (“Mickey the marked”—marked by the devil, that is.) 
During the post-collapse period Russia could offer no competing ideology. In fact, it had no ideology at all, except for an implant of Western liberalism which, given a lack of a viable legal framework or traditions of private property and civil society, quickly turned into a particularly brutal brand of gangsterism. But then Putin came along and, using his experience in the KGB and connections with other post-Soviet “power ministeries,” he crafted a new order, which first decimated and either supplanted or absorbed the gangsters, and then imposed what Putin has termed “the dictatorship of the law.” This is the first important piece of the new Russian ideology: law matters and nobody can be above it—not even the United States. 
Now, compare the concept of the “dictatorship of the law,” domestic as well as international, as it is promulgated by Putin, to the sort of law which now prevails in the United States. In the US, there are now two categories of persons. There are those who are above the law: the US government and its agencies, including NSA, FBI, DOD, etc.; Wall Street financiers and shadowy government contractors who are never prosecuted for their crimes; the über-rich who are politically connected and can prevail legally against anyone simply by throwing money at lawyers. 
And then there are those who are below the law: everyone else. These are some of the most sheepish people in the world, living in constant fear of getting sued and stripped of their savings—or arrested, intimidated into accepting a plea bargain, and locked up. They can now be detained indefinitely without a charge. They can be kidnapped from anywhere in the world, transported to a “black site” and tortured. They can be put on trial without being informed of the charge and convicted based on evidence that is kept secret from them. Their communities can be placed under martial law without cause. Individually, they can be shot on sight with no provocation of suspicion of wrongdoing. Abroad, when wedding parties and funerals are taken out by misguided drone strikes, that’s a war crime—unless Washington is behind it, in which case it is just “collateral damage.” 
Thanks to the relentless NSA surveillance, we now have no privacy and can keep no secrets. For example, German Chancellor Merkel is definitely “below the law.” When, thanks to Edward Snowden, she discovered that the NSA was listening in on her cell phone conversations, she was outraged and complained bitterly. The NSA stopped listening in on her phone and… started listening in on the phones of everyone she talks to! Now, isn’t that cute? Notice, however, how Frau Merkel has stopped complaining. Unlike Putin, she isn’t “mad”: she is a willing participant in a consensual reality in which what Washington says is the law, and what she says is just noise, for the benefit of maintaining the illusion of German sovereignty. For her benefit, let’s ask her in her native German: “Frau Merkel, glauben Sie wirklich dass die amerikanischen Politiker Übermenschen und die Deutschen und Russen und Ukrainer Untertanen sind?” 
Putin’s second innovation is what he calls “sovereign democracy.” It is a system of representative democracy that is completely impervious to foreign political manipultion. Well, not completely impervious: just as it’s good to have a low-level inflammation somehwere once in a while to keep the immune system humming along, it’s considered healthy to have Moscow’s and St. Petersburg’s hipsters—many of whom, in their youthful folly, still worship the West—to go and get themselves roughed up by the riot police periodically. The worship appears mutual, and watching Wetern media worship a bunch of nobodys whose idea of public art is going into supermarkets and stuffing frozen chickens in their vaginas (“Pussy Riot,” that is) provides much-needed comic relief. But the firewall of Russian conservatism remains impervious to Western advances. (As Prof. Cohen recently pointed out, prior to Americans’ gay rights agitation, Russian gays used to be called “faggots”; now they are being called “American faggots,” and gay rights in Russia have taken a giant leap back.) 
Again, let’s compare it to the state of affairs that now prevails in the US, where President Obama announced during this year’s state of the union address that, since Congress won’t cooperate with him, he plans to rule by decree (“executive order,” in American bureaucratese). In response, Congress is now drafting legislation that aims to compel the Obama administration to enforce acts of Congress. Apparently, they misplaced all their copies of the US constitution, which already describes this very process in considerable detail. Their studied appearance of endless legislative gridlock appears to be a veil designed to obscure the real work of distributing misappropriated funds among their campaign donors—funds that now run into trillions of dollars a year. Add to this the fact that half of US Congress has pledged allegiance to Israel. In Russian eyes, the US is neither sovereign nor a democracy; it is the festering corpse of a democracy being fed on by the world’s fattest vultures. 
In contemporary Russian understanding, Ukraine is not sovereign either (it is open to blatant foreign manipulation) and therefore its government is illegitimate. The December 1991 referendum which gave Ukraine its independence was conducted in violation of the constutition that was in effect at that time, and Ukrainian independence is therefore illegitimate as well. Since the recent armed overthrow of Ukraine’s government was likewise contrary to the Ukrainian constitution, Ukraine no longer has a constitution at all. The Crimean referendum, on the other hand, is a legitimate expression of the will of the people in absence of any legitimate central authority, and therefore provides a solid legal basis for moving forward. The fact that the US government, and others following its lead, have declared the Crimean referendum illegal is neither here nor there: they do not have the power to invent laws on Russia’s behalf, and they are walled off from Russia’s internal politics. 
* * * 
One could mark the ascension of the US to the role world psychiatrist from around the end of the cold war. The Berlin Wall came down, and Western Capitalism, Democracy and Liberalism appeared to have won. The unified Western view of the way the world works, of what moves society forward, of what is the best and most productive form of economic, social, and political organization had prevailed over the entire planet. Francis Fukuyama published his inadvertently hilarious treatise on “The End of History.” In this context, in denying the Russian Federation the courtesy of allowing it to have a coherent alternative view, the US is attempting to claw back the illusion of its unquestioned supremacy, its absolute hegemony, its role as chief moralizer and arbiter of what counts as normal and abnormal in thought and behavior. Because either the world must have gone mad, or Putin must have. Prior diagnosis appears to have been faulty: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country,” said George W. Bush of President Putin at the Slovenia Summit in 2001. The patient expertly deceived the psychiatrist, making him believe that he is sane. And now the patient is running amok, and the West is desperately trying to drag him back into the asylum. 
Some sympathy for the wardens of this insane asylum is also due. The developments in Ukraine and Crimea are especially troubling for the West because they violate the West’s linear conception of history. On this account, the advanced first world Western nations are ahead of the pack, and trying, simply out of their great compassion, to encourage stragglers like Ukraine along the path toward EU and NATO membership, monetary union and a slow-moving, controlled national bankruptcy in the hands of the IMF. The fall of the Soviet Union was a key psychological breakthrough in this story they tell themselves. They thrive on this story, for it defines them and gives them their sense of meaning and purpose. Anything that undermines its basic premises and foundations is deeply disturbing. However, many examples of unmitigated failure in the 21st century have been hard to ignore and have made this narrative sound increasingly shaky. With highlights like 9/11, the fiasco in Afghanistan, the ongoing Iraqi civil war, the global financial meltdown of 2008, intractable unemployment and economic stagnation plaguing the West in these first 15 years of the 21st century, and then the serial fiascos in Libya, Syria, Egypt and now Ukraine, and it becomes easy to see the special significance that this particular confrontation with Vladimir Putin has for the fragile Western psyche. 
The West’s ascendant trip through linear history appears to be over. The paradox underneath this confrontation is that a situation with such low stakes—Crimea and the political leanings of a minor failed state—has taken on such vast proportions, and this suggests a deeper significance. The political turmoil that has taken root in the fertile soil dividing West and East, in Ukraine, which literally translates as the “borderland,” functions as a powerful symbol of the declining hegemony of the West. This confrontation continues to cast shadows of historical proportions because the authority of the world psychiatrist and world policeman is being openly challenged. The brief illusion of the triumph of the West is cracking. We have not entered into some post-historic phase, some fundamentally new future. The inmates are breaking free, and it looks as if the psychiatrist was the crazy one all along. 
Consider the asymmetry. What is Ukraine to the West but an impoverished Eastern European political pawn on the geopolitical chessboard, one that has to be prevented from joining up with Russia in line with the overall trend? But to Russia Ukraine is a historic part of itself, the place of the earliest Russian capital of Kievan Rus (from whence it was moved, eventually, to Moscow, then to St. Petersburg, then to Moscow again). It is a region with which Russia has eleven centuries of joint linguistic, cultural and political history. Half of Ukraine consists of Russian lands capriciously adjoined to it by Lenin and Khrushchev. I grew up thinking Kharkov was Russian (because it is) and was at one point amazed to discover that I would now need a visa to go there—because it got stuck on the wrong side of the border and renamed Kharkiv. (In case you are wondering, to convert to Ukrainian, you take Russian and replace ‘y’, ‘o’ and ‘e’ with ‘i’, ‘i’ with ‘y’, and ‘g’ with ‘h’. To convert back—you ask a Russian.) As of last December, the Russians in Kharkov and other Russian regions of Ukraine have been stuck on the wrong side of the border, as subjects of an unstable, dysfunctional and remarkably corrupt governent, for 22 years. It is little wonder that they are now waving Russian flags with wild abandon. 
Even the muddle-headed John Kerry was recently heard to concede that Russia has “legitimate interests” in Ukraine. In challenging Russia over Ukraine the West isn’t just crossing some imaginary “red line” that Obama is so fond of proclaiming again and again. In installing a neo-fascist, rabidly anti-Russian regime in Kiev, it has crossed the double-yellow, guaranteeing a head-on collision. Question is, which side will survive that collision: the Russian tank column, or John Kerry’s limo? The West’s opening gambit is to deny visas and freeze accounts of certain Russian officials and businessmen, who either don’t have bank accounts in the West or have already pulled the money out last Friday (to the tune of a couple hundred billion dollars) and aren’t planning to travel to the US. 
Russia promised to respond “symmetrically.” In its arsenal is: popping the huge financial bubble and causing a resumption of the financial collapse of 2008 by any number of means, from requiring gold instead of fiat currency as payment for oil and gas, to dumping US dollar reserves (in concert with China), to putting the EU on a fast track to economic collapse by giving the natural gas valve a slight clockwise twist, to leaving US and NATO troops in Afghanistan (who are about to start evacuating) stranded and without resupply by declaring force majeure on the cooperative arrangement currently in effect, where much of their resupply route is allowed to pass through Russian territory. That’s if Russia chose to act decisively. But Russia could also choose to do little or nothing, and then just the financial contagion from Ukraine’s forthcoming bond default and financial jitters over Ukrainian chaos disrupting natural gas deliveries to Europe could be enough to topple the West’s teetering financial house of cards. 
So what remains of Western global hegemony and of the West’s right to play the world’s psychiatrist? Make of it what you will, but some lessons seem quite clear. First, it now appears that, from Russia’s point of view, having good relations with Washington is quite optional, but that Ukraine is quite a bit more important. All Russia really needs from Washington is that Washington stop its meddling in world affairs. America is dispensable. Washington, on the other hand, needs Russian cooperation if it wants to pull its troops out of Afghanistan in one piece, or if it wants to keep visiting the International Space Station, and even if it just wants to save face after its endless blunders in places like Syria and Iran.
Second, the EU isn’t being asked to choose a new master, but slavish obedience to Washington’s dictates has led to mischief and may leave it shivering in the dark come next winter through no fault of Moscow’s, so the EU should start acting in accordance with its obvious self-interest rather than against it.
HERE on the Forum for open discussion.
About the Author - Max Velocity

Unintended consequences - ouch that hurts

Fact Or Fiction: G-7 Unable To Get Deposit Back On "G-8 Summer Getaway" T-Shirts

Tyler Durden's picture

THE HAGUE - Shortly after suspending Russia’s membership in the exclusive coalition of industrialized nations, the United States and the six other wealthy nations that compose the newly renamed Group of Seven reportedly found themselves unable to get their deposit back on a set of “2014 G8 Summer Getaway” T-shirts they had ordered for the body’s scheduled summit in June.

We placed an order for a box of medium- and large-sized crewneck tees back in February, but when we called to cancel this morning, the guy at the printing shop said the deposit is final and they don’t do any refunds,” said UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who explained that the forum of major global economies lost $80 on the order, which included matching yellow shirts featuring a stylized G8 logo and a pair of palm trees as well as a dozen custom-stitched “Scorchin’ In Sochi” hats.
Of course, Putin never gave us his $10 share, so we’re all going to have to cover that too. We’ll make sure everyone pays upfront when we order our new shirts, though we haven’t decided yet whether we want them to say ‘Brussels Bash ’14’ or ‘G7: Summer of Heaven.’ Plus, [Italian Prime Minister] Matteo [Renzi] is still really lobbying for us to pay extra and get tie-dyed ones.”
Cameron added that the world leaders were also left scrambling to revise their schedule of events for the upcoming meeting as the group’s downsizing had left German Chancellor Angela Merkel without a partner to participate in their annual three-legged race.

Source: The Onion


A Tale of Two Centuries by Sultan Knish

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Tale of Two Centuries

It's unfair to expect Obama to do anything about Ukraine when his biggest priority is convincing twenty-somethings to buy worthless health insurance policies by appearing on online comedy shows and deploying his March Madness bracket.

The Obama Twitter feeds are filled with desperate pleas to buy ObamaCare; harnessing every memeworthy bit of internet detritus from cat pictures to twerking in the hopes of convincing  healthy young people who don't want health insurance to buy it anyway.

On March 17th, Obama's Twitter linked to a statement on Ukraine and then it was back to "There's only 14 days to get coverage." It's currently down to 12 days. It's like holiday shopping, but with a $6,000 deductible.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) went to Ukraine, called Russia's invasion a "weak" and "panicky" reaction to Obama's strength, and then announced plans to speak about the "Between Two Ferns Effect". The "effect" is the sheer awesomeness of Obama's appearance on an internet comedy show to promote ObamaCare.

It's that kind of 21st century thinking that sets Barack apart from Vladimir's quaint 19th century hunger for territory. While a former KGB agent wastes time conquering countries, a former community organizer focuses on selling nationalized health care to young invincibles through a website that works about as well as a Soviet Yugo.

Putin's power rests on a shaky energy industry, but Obama's power rests on ObamaCare. Kerry scoffed at Russia's invasion as so 19th century. In the 21st century, power doesn't come from land or armies, but from online popularity. Online popularity took a radical Illinois State Senator and turned him into a world leader. Online popularity is the WMD that the State Senator is convinced will save ObamaCare.

Putin has a weakness for staged photo ops circulated over the internet, but they are more like Kaiser Wilhelm II chopping pre-cut logs while yearning for the return of the German monarchy than Obama's self-deprecating attempts to be all things to all people. The Russian government has no use for irony; it leaves such things to the opposition. In the post-modern America, leaders claim absolute power while making self-deprecating jokes. They discard the rule of law and then hawk nationalized healthcare in infomercials for an effect more surreal than a crony capitalist KGB man with a law degree taking off his tailored suit and $500,000 Tourbograph watch to play Great White Hunter.

Putin poses on horseback, in a wetsuit, in a hang glider, finding ancient urns in the sea or shooting tigers. Obama poses playing with a lightsaber, makes an unimpressed face with McKayla Maroney and unveils his March Madness picks. The Russian dictator strikes heroic poses straight out of the 19th century, while Obama struggles to hold the unstable attention span of 21st century millennials . Obama's poses are no less absurd than Putin's, but they are self-consciously absurd. Putin is playing the part of the great leader, while Obama disguises the enormous power he wields by acting more like Ellen; a talk show host endlessly cracking jokes and posing for goofy selfies.

It's easy to laugh at Putin's posturing, but Obama's public image is no less cynical. Both men are instinctive totalitarians with backgrounds in Marxism and little respect for the rule of law. Obama is a creature of a more modern media age catering to a demographic which prides itself on skepticism, at least where Western religion or nationalism are concerned, while being as gullible as any of the old ladies clutching red portraits of Stalin in Simferopol when it comes to the progressive agenda.

The difference between the two centuries and the two men is a matter of misdirection. Putin enhances the public perception of his power while Obama downplays it. Putin's base likes their red meat raw while Obama's base prefers a soy burger that looks and tastes exactly like meat so that they can have an ersatz imitation of the real thing that preserves their moral superiority. Putin's base values strength while Obama's base waters down their abuses of power with the appearance of cleverness and humor.

Obama delivers Putin's totalitarianism in soy form. It looks a lot like a burger, but it's really just an Asian legume. It looks a lot like tyranny, but it falls apart when confronting an actual tyrant. It's easy to raid guitar factories, lock up anti-Muslim filmmakers and send the IRS after political opponents, but that sort of pettiness is an ordinary day in Russia which just banned lacy underwear. The EPA, USDA and even the IRS are no match for Russian teenagers packing those dreaded assault rifles.

Obama's Mean Girls strategy for Putin is to make him unpopular. The various White House responses talk of isolating Russia. But Obama needs Russia to isolate Iran. He needs China to isolate Russia which will become inconvenient when China starts a shooting war with Japan. Obama can't isolate everyone. He can't isolate anyone. He has just now gotten around to kicking Syria out of the US after Russia and China prevented him from isolating Assad.

The Hills and Big Brother are poor models for international diplomacy. While Obama is figuring out how to convince Russia to stop talking to Iran and China to stop talking to Russia and everyone to stop talking to North Korea, these countries are moving their own agendas forward by doing things, instead of by tweeting them. 

The social network strategy for Russia will work about as well as it did for Syria or for ObamaCare. In the postmodern 21st century, Twitter mobs can destroy the lives of individuals who make racist jokes, but they're no match for a conquering army. The Facebook nerds who steal elections, the Twitter social justice activists who spread privilege checking hashtags, the Tumblr diarists who churn out memes about microaggressions are as useless as their leader.

Progressive nerd bullies are as vicious online as they are impotent in real life. Obama's plan to make Putin unpopular while he gobbles up countries isn't a brilliant show of strength; it's a passive aggressive display from the cyclist-in-chief who excels at putdowns, not at takedowns.

The left has been getting its own way for so long that it has forgotten that the Colbert Report isn't real life, that snide remarks are no substitute for strength and that there are some men who are not afraid of being mocked by Saturday Night Live.

The 21st century post-modern power that the left puts so much into isn't an evolution, but a devolution. It's a collapsing civilization's response to its own decline. The ironic poses of our post-modern dictators are a distancing effect for a culture that suspects sincerity but takes humorous denials at face value. The more indirect the path between motive, assertion and action, the more self-aware the modern totalitarian politician must be. And it is this show of self-awareness that is prized above all else including integrity, ethics and truth.

Romney was so despised because he was monotone, a black and white figure who said what he meant instead of layering it through infinite levels of irony. The age of the counterculture would have considered him a square. The grandchildren of that age saw him as equally unhip for his sincerity. The post-modern politician is serious by being unserious, he navigates deftly between jokes, personal narrative and the core message. He sells a brand, rather than a policy. An identity rather than an idea.

21st century branding is obsessed with the deft positioning of images and causes, but its practitioners are unable to apply the deft hijacking of memes to sell health insurance to the equally deft maneuverings of armored vehicles and armed men in Crimea. They have become social media shut ins, expert at navigating the narrow bubbles of online and offline elitist social networks, but blink in confusion when they are pulled away from the computer long enough to see lines of troops moving into another country.

The men and women in charge of our countries understand how to smear and to demean, how to build Twitter followers and tell self-deprecating jokes. They can't build a website, but they consider actually making things beneath them. They are critics of the culture, social justice commentators, public intellectuals who can make anything into propaganda, but can't hammer a nail into a board.

They treat every problem like an online debate. They assemble allies, pile on enemies, troll the opposition and then declare victory. But winning a debate doesn't make the tanks go away.

"The world has seen through Russia’s actions and has rejected the flawed logic behind those actions,” Joe Biden declared. That might be a winning line in a Facebook debate, but it doesn't do anything to move Russian forces out of Ukrainian cities.

Accusations of flawed logic, spell checks and saying, "You said literally when you meant figuratively" will not move a single piece of Russian armor out of Crimea.

Making Putin unpopular, a task already accomplished when he joined the organizers of the St. Patrick's Day parade and the Boy Scouts in refusing to jump on the gay rights bandwagon, is an impotent display of postmodern soft power. Meanwhile the failure to stop Putin will make him more popular in the places that truly matter, where no one buys ObamaCare and no one is impressed by accusations of flawed logic.

Putin has demonstrated to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria and China that America is weak, that it has become a nation living inside its own imagination, and he has shown Eastern Europe and the rest of the world that America is a bad friend while Russia is a dangerous enemy.

Obama's 21st century world is an imaginary place whose virtual territories depend on real infrastructure and energy. Underneath the glittering cities in the sky where everyone is part of a virtual community are the real roads and cities of stone and steel that can be taken by anyone with enough men and determination to capture them.

The Facebook strategy can sell health insurance, but it can't make ObamaCare financially viable. It can sneer at Putin, but it can't do anything to change the real world equations. The left has confused the overlay, its commentaries and memes, for reality. It has come to believe that The Daily Show is real news, that Obama is a real leader and that a Twitter hashtag is real power.

The Russian soldiers in Crimea are a reminder that, as Mao said, "Every Communist must grasp the truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." The Western left has forgotten the simple truth that no Eastern leftist has ever become decadent enough to forget. Power does not come from the "Two Ferns Effect" of self-deprecating irony, but from the Russian guns in Crimea.