Thursday, May 22, 2014

If we could only get liberty minded people in Congress... oh wait nevermind

Congress Passes Gutted Beyond Recognition Anti-NSA Bill; Original Co-Sponsor Votes "No"

Tyler Durden's picture

A for effort, L for losing it because nothing will ever change with these guys and gals in charge.  They can't even pass a bill that anyone who cares about personal privacy insists upon.  Instead they just confuse the issue, change the wording and pretend like they did something.  Disgusting.
Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
It’s shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country’s surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

- Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, original cosponsor of the USA Freedom Act
In what will come as no surprise to any of you, there are very few members of Congress I have even the slightest degree of respect for. However, Justin Amash is one of them.
Rep. Amash is 34 years old and was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has been on my radar screen for several years now as one of the few elected representatives who act more like statesmen than politicians. He has been on the right side of many civil liberties related issues, including his opposition to the NDAA’s provision that allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens without a trial. More recently, last summer he authored an anti-NSA amendment known as the “Amash Amendment,” which was defeated by establishment authoritarians in both political parties. I covered that story in my post: NSA Holds “Top Secret” Meeting to Stop Powerful Anti-Spying Amendment.
Being the fighter that he is, Amash regrouped and came back with an anti-NSA spying bill with some teeth to it: The USA Freedom Act. This bill concerned the establishment to such a degree that Senator Feinstein launched her own competing bill, which believe it or not, intended to codify the NSA’s unconstitutional practices into law.
In the end, what the status quo did was water down the once robust USA Freedom Act into oblivion. Don’t take my word for it, Justin Amash wrote the following on his Facebook page:
Today, I will vote no on ?#‎HR3361?, the ?#‎USAFREEDOMAct?.

I am an original cosponsor of the Freedom Act, and I was involved in its drafting. At its best, the Freedom Act would have reined in the government’s unconstitutional domestic spying programs, ended the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ private records, and made the secret FISA court function more like a real court—with real arguments and real adversaries.

I was and am proud of the work our group, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, did to promote this legislation, as originally drafted.

However, the revised bill that makes its way to the House floor this morning doesn’t look much like the Freedom Act.

This morning’s bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end “bulk collection” of Americans’ data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.

But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for “area code 616″ or for “phone calls made east of the Mississippi.” The bill green-lights the government’s massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans’ records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The bill does include a few modest improvements to current law. The secret FISA court that approves government surveillance must publish its most significant opinions so that Americans can have some idea of what surveillance the government is doing. The bill authorizes (but does not require) the FISA court to appoint lawyers to argue for Americans’ privacy rights, whereas the court now only hears from one side before ruling.

But while the original version of the Freedom Act allowed Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act to expire in June 2015, this morning’s bill extends the life of that controversial section for more than two years, through 2017.

I thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte for pursuing surveillance reform. I respect Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Rep. John Conyers for their work on this issue.

It’s shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country’s surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

The American people demand that the Constitution be respected, that our rights and liberties be secured, and that the government stay out of our private lives. Fortunately, there is a growing group of representatives on both sides of the aisle who get it. In the 10 months since I proposed the Amash Amendment to end mass surveillance, we’ve made big gains.
We will succeed.
So it is this watered down, toothless bill that passed this morning. Just in case you still had any doubt what the cretins in Congress are all about. As Mark Twain famously stated:
“There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress.”

The sky is falling, the sky is falling - Earth Day 1970 quotes

I wrote this song when I used to believe their lies and propaganda.  It's still a good song, but it's laughable that our planet cannot heal any damage that we as humans can do to it. 

Here are some of the hilarious, spectacularly wrong predictions made on the occasion of Earth Day 1970.
“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”
• Kenneth Watt, ecologist
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
• George Wald, Harvard Biologist
“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”
• Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist
“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
• New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day.
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
• Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day
“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
• Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University
“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
• Life Magazine, January 1970
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
Stanford's Paul Ehrlich announces that the sky is falling.
“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”
• Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.”
• Martin Litton, Sierra Club director
“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
• Sen. Gaylord Nelson
“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
• Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

Three percent - that's all it takes

Toys For Totalitarians - Enemy At The Gates (permalink)

Mike Vanderboegh is a smuggler. With a difference.
Joe Average smuggler hopes government officials won’t notice what he’s up to. Mike, on the other hand, wants them to notice. In fact, he smuggles some of his goods right into their offices.
If you hang around the gun-rights movement, you probably know Mike, at least by reputation. He blogs at Sipsey Street Irregulars. He’s the founder and rabble-rouser-in-chief of the Three Percent movement. (“Threepers” being the small but powerful portion of the citizenry who will eventually be willing and able to shoot tyrants.) With his friend David Codrea and brave whistleblowers, he was responsible for bringing the ATF’s Fast & Furious “gunwalking” scandal to light.
Mike’s been around a long time. He’s a divisive figure. He’s been denounced by Bill Clinton, Rachel Maddow, Eric Holder, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Some pro-gunners don’t like him either, mostly because of his attitude. Many activists believe that gun-rights fighters should always be polite and work within the system. Those people aren’t Mike.
So what’s he been smuggling? Well, mostly standard-capacity magazines—the ones that have been recently decreed illegal in Colorado and several statist hellholes. A little ammo on the side, perhaps.
In April 2013, in a speech in Hartford, Connecticut, he urged gun-rights supporters to “Defy. Resist. Evade. Smuggle.” Then he announced that he had just brought six 30-round AR-15 magazines into the state in defiance of Connecticut’s post-Sandy Hook diktat forbidding them. “Catch me if you can,” he taunted. The Connecticut magazine-smuggling total eventually went over 50.
Later, with the help of contributors, he put more than 100 “illegal” magazines into the hands of formerly law-abiding Coloradoans. This is a symbolic act, of course. No doubt there are already tens of thousands of such magazines quietly tucked away in Colorado homes. But it’s the thought that counts.
Some of his smuggling efforts were curtailed by something even worse than abusive government: cancer. For the last several years, Mike has been under constant treatment for cancer, a heart condition, and a host of related health problems. He has kept going through sufferings and debility that would have sent lesser people (including, emphatically, me) into idle self-pity. Maybe he missed a few deliveries of smuggled goods. But in December he embarked on a second round. Codrea dubbed this one “Toys for Totalitarians.”
Before, the emphasis had been on putting forbidden magazines and ammo into the hands of good people. The new program instead delivered standard-cap magazines into the hands of governors who’d signed recent laws making them illegal. Hickenlooper of Colorado. O’Malley of Maryland with the nice Irish message, “Póg mo thóin” (kiss my ass). Malloy of Connecticut. Cuomo of New York.
Then, as donations of money and magazines continued to come in, Mike mailed more magazines to media figures, lesser anti-gun politicians, and hoplophobe honchos—always sending along a “nice” note explaining the purpose of the gift.
“What a waste of perfectly good magazines!” you may be saying. But not to worry. The shipments were of two types: “Freedom Fighter Grade”—fully functional mags for ordinary citizens—and “Politician Grade”—old beater mags for most of the anti-gun celebrities. The only exceptions: Hickenlooper got a shiny new Magpul magazine in “honor” of having driven that company and its jobs out of his state. Malloy got the similarly dubious honor of a magazine manufactured by Ammunition Storage Components, a company that began planning its move from Connecticut as Malloy was signing the law banning its products.
Maryland’s O’Malley was so angry at “Póg mo thóin” that he was rumored to be convening a grand jury. But the biggest reaction came from Connecticut, where a reporter got wind of the smuggling. Shortly thereafter Mike, who lives in Alabama, received a call late one night from the Connecticut State Police. When he wisely didn’t answer, he found a bemused local sheriff’s deputy at his doorstep the next day, relaying the message that a Detective Goocher from Connecticut requested a callback. Mike ignored that too.
As I write this, it’s not clear what, if any, consequences Mike will pay for such public smuggling (or for the “conspiracy” he engaged in with the people who contributed mags and money). But he’s not worried.
He figures he signed up for trouble when he created the Three Percent movement. “However these petty tyrants react,” he says, “... regardless of politics, regardless of whatever friendly judgments they get from their black-robed partners in constitutional crime—there is no unconstitutional law that they can pass and enforce that we cannot defy, resist, evade and smuggle in answer to it.” And that’s the plain truth.
Respect him or hate him, this is a guy with guts. But what moves him? Why these guerrilla tactics instead of traditional political activism?
Mike told me, “I spent many, many years trying all the usual things. Arguments of law, history, common sense. Resort to the ballot box. Heck, I still do that today. But I came to the realization, probably because I used to be a collectivist myself, that such people would not ultimately be persuaded by argument but only would be deterred by credible threats of countervailing force, and by the absolute certainty that the Three Percent represents an irreducible determined minority that cannot be intimidated, cannot be persuaded, but only killed. By our defiance, we force those who evince an appetite for our liberty, our property and our lives to consider the personal costs to themselves of those tyrannical compulsions. Believe me, it is the only language they truly understand.”
And what keeps him plugging when he’d be justified in retiring from the fray? In part, his vision of God. Mike, who uses the label “Christian libertarian” when labels are needed, says, “In the past two years, the docs have told us twice that the odds were against me pulling out of a crisis. It’s impossible for me not to conclude that God isn’t done with me yet. I wear on my wrist the gift of a friend, a rubber bracelet that says ‘Deo Vindice’ (under God, our vindicator). I believe that as well. I don’t know if it makes me bolder, but I do know that it is a relief knowing that it is all in God’s hands and that whatever happens conforms to His plan.”
He also has plenty of human helpers—the Sipsey Street Irregulars—readers of Mike’s blog, some of whom live “behind enemy lines.” Mike credits them for “carrying out smuggling operations at greater risk to themselves than I bear. They really are magnificent in their own bravery and defiance.”
So far, Toys for Totalitarians hasn’t gotten the media coverage Mike hoped for—not in the scandalized mainstream press and (surprisingly) not in the online pro-gun media. But perhaps even that hints that the message is reaching its intended targets. Those who are targeted, Mike says, may simply be hoping that “more people won’t emulate our defiance and that if they ignore us, maybe it will work out in their favor.”
But that probably won’t turn out well for the pols. “Sooner or later, I will piss these proto-tyrants off enough to make them succumb to the darker devils of their nature and do something really stupid. They’re not scared of me, per se, but they are scared of folks adopting my attitude of open defiance. They count much on their ability to cow us with just the implied threat of their power. They have the universal tyrant’s fear of Romanian Rules (the Ceaucescu solution). When the smart ones see a picture of Mussolini and his mistress hanging by their heels in that gas station, they shudder. Personally. Every time. It is our duty, and in our interest, to remind them of that every chance we get. Only if they understand that their actions have personal consequences can we avoid civil war.
“In the ‘60s, there was a famous firearm rights bumper sticker I’m sure you recall: ‘You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands.’ Of course the defiance is great, but the transaction is acceptable to collectivists. They are more than happy to pry weapons from our dead hands. What Three Percenters propose is to rewrite the sentiment in tune for a new century that seems to be filling up with more wannabe tyrants: ‘If you send armed men to take our liberty, our property, and our lives, we’ll take their guns from their cold dead hands and turn them on you. And we’ll be happy for the transaction.’”
Read Mike Vanderboegh’s blog at

Occupy protestor goes to jail, bankers who caused the financial crisis get bonuses

Justice Is Dead In Amerika


Cecily McMillan is an Occupy protester who was seized from behind by a goon thug cop–a goon thug with a long record of abuse of authority–by her boobs. One was badly bruised. Cecily McMillan’s elbow reflexively and instinctively came up, and Cecily was arrested for assaulting a goon thug. The goon thug was not arrested for sexually assaulting a young woman.
False arrests of this sort are common in the US. Indeed, they are more common than justified arrests. The police and the courts are completely corrupted institutions that reek of injustice and evil.
Cecily was locked up in Rikers Island without bail by the judge who sees his role as protecting the abuse of police and prosecutorial power. The judge would not allow evidence in behalf of Cecily to be presented to the jury.
Nevertheless, the jurors, or 75% of them, understood that something was wrong and although they were coerced into convicting the young woman they sent a letter to the judge requesting that no prison time be imposed on Cecily. Nevertheless, the judge for whom all must stand in respect in the courtroom, gave the goon thug’s victim 90 days in prison and 5 years probation. This was Amerika’s sendoff of an idealistic young woman who was about to receive a master’s degree from an important educational education.
I have been concerned as a main focus of my work since the 1990s with American injustice. America’s injustice is a unique kind. American injustice has actually managed to completely destroy the achievements dating from Magna Carta that made law a shield of the people instead of a weapon in the hands of the state. Today America is pre-Magna Carta England.
My concern with the destruction of Justice in America was shared by my colleague, Lawrence Stratton. Together in 2000 we produced a book documenting the destruction of the achievement of liberty and the accountability of government to law under the publisher’s title of “The Tyranny of Good Intentions” (our title was, “How The Law Was Lost”). In 2008 a new edition was published.
The book was cited a few times by federal district court judges but had no influence on law schools’ worship of unaccountable executive power or on the appointment of Justice (sic) Department flunkies such as John Yoo and David Barron to prominent University law schools and federal courts. Yoo and Barron are the tyrants who justified in US Justice Department memos torture, despite US and international laws against it, and the murder of US citizens on suspicion alone without due process of law, an obvious violation of the US Constitution.
Judging from the legal arena’s response to our work, justice is no longer the purpose of US law and it is no longer thought necessary for the US government to be accountable to law. To insouciant Americans these might seem like extreme statements, but the conclusion is unavoidable.
In the United States there is no longer law. There is only retribution. Cecily McMillan by her non-violent protest against the looting of America and the world by Wall Street became “an enemy of the people.” The “people,” of course, are the one percent. The 99 percent do not count.
The jury in Cecily’s trial did not count. At least 75% of the jurors understood that they were being coerced into a conviction, which they sought to lighten by requesting the judge not to impose a prison sentence. But the judge represents the repressive state, not justice. The jurors were out to lunch. They had no idea of the corrupt nature of the criminal political system or else they lacked the courage to stand up to it.
This insouciance is true of the bulk of the American population. They are sheeple, unaware that they have been stripped of constitutional protections and that they are propagandized into supporting the evil actions of an unaccountable government. For example, as Gerald Celente demonstrates in the current issue of the Trends Journal, the onslaught of Washington’s propaganda against the Sochi Olympic Games, alleging terror attacks, a filthy city and hotel rooms, unsafe water, and so forth, resulted in a drop in TV ratings for the Olympics and in majorities of Americans acquiring negative attitudes toward Russia and Putin. Thus, when Washington set off the Ukraine crisis, “American minds had already been pre-programmed by propaganda. Facts would not get in the way. The stage for war and hate had been masterfully set.”
As John Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute says,
“If you have been paying attention to the news lately, you may have noticed that the building blocks for a police state are now in place: the surveillance networks, fusion centers and government contractors monitoring what is being said by whom; government databases tracking who poses a potential threat to the government’s power; militarized police, working in conjunction with federal agencies, coordinating with the federal government to round up troublemakers; and the courts which sanction the government’s methods, no matter how unlawful.
“Indeed, the government has been maintaining a growing list of ‘dangerous’ opinions and activities that might classify someone as an enemy of the state — a.k.a. an extremist — a.k.a. terrorist or sympathetic to terrorist activities — and thus qualify you for detention.
“Included in that list of ‘dangerous’ viewpoints are advocating for states’ rights, believing the government to be unnecessary or undesirable, ‘conspiracy theorizing’ (this applies to those who believe 9/11 might have been an inside job), concern about the government’s efforts to build domestic internment camps, opposition to war, organizing for ‘economic justice,’ frustration with ‘mainstream ideologies,’ opposition to abortion, opposition to globalization, and ammunition stockpiling.
“As you can see, anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re Left, Right or somewhere in between—is a target.”
When a sexually assaulted American citizen can be falsely arrested for assaulting a police officer, brought to trial by a corrupt prosecutor whose false case is endorsed by a corrupt judge and convicted by an insouciant jury, you know that justice is dead in America.The death of Justice is a huge problem. The US not only has the largest percentage of its population in prison of every country in the world, the US also has the largest absolute number of prison inmates, larger even than “authoritarian” China which has a population four times larger than the US. In China, despite Washington’s endless lies about “human rights abuses,” a citizen has a far lower chance of imprisonment than does a “freedom and democracy” American.
Chris Hedges and Cecily McMillan bring the story home. If you read their account below and do not weep, you are a brainwashed sheeple headed for the slaughter.
Chris Hedges
May 19, 2014: “Truth Dig” – RIKERS ISLAND, N.Y.—Cecily McMillan, the Occupy activist who on Monday morning will appear before a criminal court in New York City to be sentenced to up to seven years on a charge of assaulting a police officer, sat in a plastic chair wearing a baggy, oversized gray jumpsuit, cheap brown plastic sandals and horn-rim glasses. Other women, also dressed in prison-issued gray jumpsuits, sat nearby in the narrow, concrete-walled visitation room clutching their children, tears streaming down their faces. The children, bewildered, had their arms wrapped tightly around their mothers’ necks. It looked like the disaster scene it was.
“It’s all out in the open here,” said the 25-year-old student, who was to have graduated May 22 with a master’s degree from The New School of Social Research in New York City. “The cruelty of power can’t hide like it does on the outside. You get America, everything America has become, especially for poor people of color in prison. My lawyers think I will get two years. But two years is nothing compared to what these women, who never went to trial, never had the possibility of a trial with adequate legal representation, face. There are women in my dorm who, because they have such a poor command of English, do not even understand their charges. I spent a lot of time trying to explain the charges to them.”
McMillan says Grantley Bovell, who was in plainclothes and did not identify himself as a police officer, grabbed her from behind during a March 17, 2012, gathering of several hundred Occupy activists in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. In a video of the incident she appears to have instinctively elbowed him in the face, but she says she has no memory of what happened. Video and photographs—mostly not permitted by the trial judge to be shown in the courtroom—buttressed her version of events. There is no dispute that she was severely beaten by police and taken from the park to a hospital where she was handcuffed to a bed. On May 5 she was found guilty after a three-week trial of a felony assault in the second degree. She can receive anything from probation to seven years in prison.
“I am prepared mentally for a long sentence,” she told me this past weekend when I interviewed her at the Rikers Island prison in the Bronx. “I watched the trial. I watched the judge. This was never about justice. Just as it is not about justice for these other women. One mother was put in here for shoplifting after she lost her job and her house and needed to feed her children. There is another prisoner, a preschool teacher with a 1-year-old son she was breastfeeding, who let her cousin stay with her after her cousin was evicted. It turns out the cousin sold drugs. The cops found money, not drugs, that the cousin kept in the house and took the mother. They told her to leave her child with the neighbors. There is story after story in here like this. It wakes you up.”
McMillan’s case is emblematic of the nationwide judicial persecution of activists, a persecution familiar to poor people of color. Her case stands in contrast with the blanket impunity given to the criminals of Wall Street. Some 8,000 nonviolent Occupy protesters have been arrested. Not one banker or investor has gone to jail for causing the 2008 financial meltdown. The disparity of justice mirrors the disparity in incomes and the disparity in power.Occupy activists across the country have been pressured to “plea out” on felony charges in exchange for sentences of years of probation, which not only carry numerous restrictions, including being unable to attend law school or serve on a jury, but make it difficult for them to engage in further activism for fear of arrest and violating their probation. McMillan was offered the same plea deal but refused it. She was one of the few who went to trial.
“I am deeply committed to nonviolence, especially in the face of all the violence around me inside and outside this prison,” she said in the interview. “I could not accept this deal. I had to fight back. That is why I am an activist. Being branded as someone who was violent was intolerable.”
McMillan’s case is as much about our right to nonviolent protest as it is about McMillan. It is about our right to carry out such protest without being subjected to police violence intended to crush peaceful and lawful dissent. It is about our right to engage in political organization without our groups being monitored and infiltrated by the security and surveillance state. It is about our right of free speech and free assembly, guaranteed under the Constitution but effectively stripped from us in a series of judicial rulings and through municipal ordinances that make it impossible to protest in many U.S. cities.
Judge Ronald A. Zweibel was caustic and hostile to McMillan and her defense team during the trial. He barred video evidence that would have helped her case. He issued a gag order that forbade the defense lawyers, Martin Stolar and Rebecca Heinegg, to communicate with the press. And, astonishingly, he denied McMillan bail.
The judge also assiduously protected Bovell against challenges to his credibility. He refused to allow the jurors to hear about or see the excessive police violence that was used to clear the park the night McMillan was arrested—violence many activists say was the most indiscriminate and abusive ever inflicted during the Occupy movement. He hid Bovell’s history of misconduct as a police officer from the jury. Bovell has been investigated at least twice by the internal affairs section of the New York City Police Department, the Guardian newspaper reported. Bovell and his police partner, in one of the cases, were sued for allegedly using an unmarked police car to strike a 17-year-old fleeing on a dirt bike. The teenager said his nose was broken, two teeth were knocked out and his forehead was lacerated. The case was settled out of court for a significant amount of money. There is also a video that appears to show Bovell relentlessly kicking a suspect on the floor of a Bronx grocery. In addition, Bovell was involved in a ticket-fixing scandal in his Bronx precinct. And Austin Guest, 33, a Harvard University graduate who was arrested at Zuccotti Park on the night McMillan was assaulted, is suing Bovell and the NYPD because the officer allegedly intentionally banged his head on the internal stairs and seats of a bus that took him and other activists in for processing. The judge barred the running down of the teenager on the dirt bike and Bovell’s alleged abuse of Guest from being discussed in front of the jury.
The case has galvanized many activists, who see in McMillan’s persecution the persecution of movements across the globe struggling for nonviolent democratic change. McMillan was visited in Rikers by Russia human rights campaigners of the group Pussy Riot. Hundreds of people, including nine of the 12 jurors and some New York City Council members, have urged Judge Zweibel to be lenient. Some 160,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to intervene on her behalf. But so far pleas like these have failed to mollify the corporate state’s determination to use the McMillan case as a tool to prevent any new mass movements.
“I am very conscious of how privileged I am, especially in here,” McMillan said. “When you are in prison white privilege works against you. You tend to react when you come out of white privilege by saying ‘you can’t do that’ when prison authorities force you to do something arbitrary and meaningless. But the poor understand the system. They know it is absurd, capricious and senseless, that it is all about being forced to pay deference to power. If you react out of white privilege it sets you apart. I have learned to respond as a collective, to speak to authority in a unified voice. And this has been good for me. I needed this.”
“We can talk about movement theory all we want,” she went on. “We can read Michel Foucault or Pierre Bourdieu, but at a certain point it becomes a game. You have to get out and live it. You have to actually build a movement. And if we don’t get to work to build a movement now there will be no one studying movement theory in a decade because there will be no movements. I can do this in prison. I can do this out of prison. It is all one struggle.”
McMillan has been held in Rikers’ Rose M. Singer Center, Dorm 2 East B, with about 40 other women. They sleep in rows of cots. Nearly all the women are poor mothers of color, most of them black, Hispanic or Chinese. McMillan is giving lessons in English in exchange for lessons in Spanish.
McMillan has bonded with an African-American woman known as “Fat Baby” who ogled her and told her she had nice legs. Fat Baby threw out a couple of lame pickup lines that, McMillan said, “sounded as if she was a construction worker. I told her I would teach her some pickup lines that were a little more subtle.”
McMillan, who is required to have a prison activity, participates in the drug rehabilitation program although she did not use drugs. She is critical of the instructor’s feeding of “positive” and Christian thinking to the inmates, some of whom are Muslims. “It is all about the power of positive thinking, about how they made mistakes and bad choices in life and now they can correct those mistakes by taking another road, a Christian road, to a new life,” she said. “This focus on happy thoughts pervades the prison. There is little analysis of the structural causes for poverty and oppression. It is as if it was all about decisions we made, not that were made for us. And this is how those in power want it. This kind of thinking induces passivity.”
McMillan was receiving 30 to 40 letters daily at Rikers but during the week before the interview was told every day that she had none. She suspects the prison has cut off the flow of mail to her.
Because my pens and paper were confiscated during the two-hour process it took to enter the prison, after the visit I had to reconstruct the notes from our conversation, which lasted an hour and a half. The entry process is normal for visitors, who on weekends stand in long lines in metal chutes outside the prison. My body was searched and my clothing was minutely inspected for contraband, and I had to go through two metal detectors.
During the interview a guard asked McMillan to roll down her sleeves and admonished her once for crossing her legs. “You scratch a hole in the crotch,” McMillan said, running a fingernail up and down the crotch seam of her jumpsuit. “You make a small hole. And when the visitor slips you a cigarette you push up your vagina. I am learning a lot in prison. I have gotten very good at hiding books on my way to medical and stealing food to bring back to the dorm.”
“It is hard to read, it is hard to write,” she went on. “There is constant movement and constant noise.”
She was working Sunday on the statement she would read in court Monday. She said it draws heavily from Leo Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God Is Within You.”
McMillan had just finished writing a message to supporters who planned to rally in her support Sunday afternoon in New York City. She told them:I came to New York the summer of 2011 to go to school—Rikers Island was definitely not on my list of intended experiences. Though I did call myself “a radical” that title stretched only as far to include plans to start a socialist student chapter and study welfare policy with aims of improving it. Within 1 week, these plans were railroaded by the Occupy Wall Street Movement—and for the following 3 months, I did little else.
Like many, the eviction of Zuccotti left me lost, searching for that infectious energy that bound so many together in efforts to transform the world. Like many, I’ve spent the time since trying to understand what we had & striving to get back to it.
Like many I point to a lack of militancy in our movement—a commitment of one’s entire being—personally, politically, emotionally & physically—to the greater good. But I examined what action those beautiful words entailed, I exchanged “militancy” for the concept of “love ethic”—a distinction born of the belief that fights between “usses and thems” run counter to the collective “we”. “We” being human society with each person as an integral part—that must be seen, heard, felt & loved—in order to transform the whole.
Like many, I found my beliefs easy to come by but difficult to act on. I always strived, but often struggled, to see, hear, feel, to love—even as I expected as much in return. I began to question, “If it is such a struggle to solidify amongst a few, how can we hope to strengthen love ethic across the many?”
Unlike most, when my trial began: friends formed a support structure, comrades came to court, journalists reported injustices. When the verdict was read, cries of outrage were heard, the news spread, & sympathy was shared from around the world.
Unlike most, during my weakest hour, I had never felt more supported. Though I had never ever felt more oppressed, I had never felt so loved. I stand resolved to keep fighting, because your love ethic props me up and allows me to do so.
Unlike most, I am blessed with the support of so many. And though I am thankful, I am also thoughtful of the many forced to face such oppression alone. I know you have already done so much, but I’m going to ask for one thing more:
If you feel safe enough to share, please raise your hand if you have suffered police violence? If you have suffered sexual violence? If you have suffered the violence of the justice system? If you have suffered the violence of the prison system?
Oppression is rampant. Take a moment to try & really see, hear, feel the suffering of the many around you. Now imagine the power of your collective love ethic to stand against it.Only through the pervasive spread of such a love ethic by the many for the many—not just the privileged few—will we finally have ourselves a movement.
McMillan takes comfort from her supporters and her family and from those of her heroes who endured prison for a just cause. She reads and rereads the speech Eugene V. Debs made to a federal court in Cleveland before he went to prison for opposing the draft in World War I. His words, she said, have become her own.
“Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth,” Debs said. “I said it then, as I say it now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Progressives get it wrong by making wrong assumptions about history

Major Fallacies of Progressives: #1

Progressives mistakenly believe that the state enacted progressive legislation in order to control large corporations
Major Fallacies of Progressives: #1
by Michael S. Rozeff | | May 21, 2014        

I would not bother with pointing out fallacies of progressivism, because others have already done so, except that these fallacies are being used to criticize and mis-characterize libertarian thought as in this quotation (of Kim Messick): “It doesn’t occur to our libertarian fabulists that economic conflict in this world would not involve one yeoman farmer contending with another, but working- and middle-class Americans contending with — Wal-Mart. Or Bank of America. Or Exxon.”

Progressives mistakenly believe that the state enacted progressive legislation in order to control large corporations, and that to this day the state is what protects average Americans from large corporations that they term powerful and rapacious. Here’s a sample of such thinking:
“The modern state arose, in large part, in reaction to the modern corporation…Like it or not, the simple fact is that the federal government is the only institution of sufficient scale to interpose itself between multinational corporations and American families. To remove it from the picture…would leave average Americans utterly exposed to the tender mercies of a rapacious global capitalism.”
The reality is the opposite, as explained by Radosh and Rothbard in A New History of Leviathan:
“As Gabriel Kolko has remarked in The Triumph of Conservatism, we have had regulation not by, of, and for the mass of the people against large business; rather we have had regulatory mechanisms designed, operated, and staffed by the men who run the corporations themselves—a form of corporate-inspired self-regulation carried on under government aegis.
“Furthermore, liberal historiography has generally depicted twentieth-century America as a conflict between good-guy Democrats, leading a farmer-labor Populist coalition against big business, in conflict with laissez-faire, business-minded Republicans. This book demonstrates that both parties have been dedicated to a large, business dominated corporate state, with the Democrats perhaps a bit more sophisticated and intense about establishing and advancing the corporatist system.”
Now, a few words about the power of corporations. Here is a throughly confused progressive’s view of this (again Kim Messick and again spun so as to criticize libertarianism):
“Economic power occasions few qualms in libertarian circles. They sound alarms about ‘big government’ and the growth of federal ambitions, but seem untroubled by big business and the growth of multinational corporations. On its face this is puzzling. Power, after all, is power, and offhand there seems no reason why my freedom isn’t just as threatened by the enormous material resources of Exxon as it is by the depredations of the NSA or the ATF.”
Economic power is heavily criticized by libertarians whenever it stems from the use of political power. Everything from Clay’s American System to canal subsidies to railroad subsidies to central banks to the military-industrial complex to oil politics to fiat money and more has been brought to light by one libertarian writer after another. On this score, Messick ignores the relevant libertarian literature. But suppose, as he thinks, that great size arising from economic success is “power” and, again as he thinks, that this “economic power” can be equated to political power (“power, after all is power”). This conceptual equation is fallacious. Pure economic power caused by large revenues in free markets to consumers depends entirely on their demand. Not being coercive, it differs in kind from political power. The NSA and the War on Drugs cannot be vetoed by any individual voter, but any individual buyer can stop buying the products of Exxon.
To the extent that their revenues depend on providing goods and services to consumers that they want, large corporations have no power if the markets are open to entry and free from the kinds of government regulations and institutions that give these corporations power. But the latter conditions are exactly those that Radosh and Rothbard tell us do not exist.
Hence, we have one of the most prominent libertarians putting together an entire book analyzing corporate power and its relation to the modern Leviathan state while progressive Messick, unable to distinguish revenues attributable to products in demand from revenues brought about by exploiting political cartelism, falsely paints libertarians as untroubled by big business.

There is no taper, just another misdirection for the sheeple - #endthefed

Who Is The New Secret Buyer Of U.S. Debt?

Brandon Smith
Alt Market
May 21st, 2014
Reader Views: 706

Ministers Group Photograph
On the surface, the economic atmosphere of the U.S. has appeared rather calm and uneventful. Stocks are up, employment isn’t great but jobs aren’t collapsing into the void (at least not openly), and the U.S. dollar seems to be going strong. Peel away the thin veneer, however, and a different financial horror show is revealed.
U.S. stocks have enjoyed unprecedented crash protection due to a steady infusion of fiat money from the Federal Reserve known as quantitative easing. With the advent of the “taper”, QE is now swiftly coming to a close (as is evident in the overall reduction in treasury market purchases), and is slated to end by this fall, if not sooner.
Employment has been boosted only in statistical presentation, and not in reality. The Labor Department’s creative accounting of job numbers omits numerous factors, the most important being the issue of long term unemployed. Millions of people who have been jobless for so long they no longer qualify for benefits are being removed from the rolls. This quiet catastrophe has the side bonus of making it appear as though unemployment is going down.
U.S. Treasury bonds, and by extension the dollar, have also stayed afloat due to the river of stimulus being introduced by the Federal Reserve. That same river, through QE, is now drying up.
In my article The Final Swindle Of Private American Wealth Has Begun, I outline the data which leads me to believe that the Fed taper is a deliberate action in preparation for an impending market collapse. The effectiveness of QE stimulus has a shelf-life, and that shelf life has come to an end. With debt monetization no longer a useful tool in propping up the ailing U.S. economy, central bankers are publicly stepping back. Why? If a collapse occurs while stimulus is in full swing, the Fed immediately takes full blame for the calamity, while being forced to admit that central banking as a concept serves absolutely no meaningful purpose.
My research over many years has led me to conclude that a collapse of the American system is not only expected by international financiers, but is in fact being engineered by them. The Fed is an entity created by globalists for globalists. These people have no loyalties to any one country or culture. Their only loyalties are to themselves and their private organizations.
While many people assume that the stimulus measures of the Fed are driven by a desire to save our economy and currency, I see instead a concerted program of destabilization which is meant to bring about the eventual demise of our nation’s fiscal infrastructure. What some might call “kicking the can down the road,” I call deliberately stretching the country thin over time, so that any indirect crisis can be used as a trigger event to bring the ceiling crashing down.
In the past several months, the Fed taper of QE and subsequently U.S. bond buying has coincided with steep declines in purchases by China, a dump of one-fifth of holdings by Russia, and an overall decline in new purchases of U.S. dollars for FOREX reserves.
With the Ukraine crisis now escalating to fever pitch, BRIC nations are openly discussing the probability of “de-dollarization” in international summits, and the ultimate dumping of the dollar as the world reserve currency.
The U.S. is in desperate need of a benefactor to purchase its ever rising debt and keep the system running. Strangely, a buyer with apparently bottomless pockets has arrived to pick up the slack that the Fed and the BRICS are leaving behind. But, who is this buyer?
At first glance, it appears to be the tiny nation of Belgium.
While foreign investment in the U.S. has sharply declined since March, Belgium has quickly become the third largest buyer of Treasury bonds, just behind China and Japan, purchasing more than $200 billion in securities in the past five months, adding to a total stash of around $340 billion. This development is rather bewildering, primarily because Belgium’s GDP as of 2012 was a miniscule $483 billion, meaning, Belgium has spent nearly the entirety of its yearly GDP on our debt.
Clearly, this is impossible, and someone, somewhere, is using Belgium as a proxy in order to prop up the U.S. But who?
Recently, a company based in Belgium called Euroclear has come forward claiming to be the culprit behind the massive purchases of American debt. Euroclear, though, is not a direct buyer. Instead, the bank is a facilitator, using what it calls a “collateral highway” to allow central banks and international banks to move vast amounts of securities around the world faster than ever before.
Euroclear claims to be an administrator for more than $24 trillion in worldwide assets and transactions, but these transactions are not initiated by the company itself. Euroclear is a middleman used by our secret buyer to quickly move U.S. Treasuries into various accounts without ever being identified. So the question remains, who is the true buyer?
My investigation into Euroclear found some interesting facts. Euroclear has financial relationships with more than 90 percent of the world’s central banks and was once partly owned and run by 120 of the largest financial institutions back when it was called the “Euroclear System”. The organization was consolidated and operated by none other than JP Morgan Bank in 1972. In 2000, Euroclear was officially incorporated and became its own entity. However, one must remember, once a JP Morgan bank, always a JP Morgan bank.
Another interesting fact – Euroclear also has a strong relationship with the Russian government and is a primary broker for Russian debt to foreign investors. This once again proves my ongoing point that Russia is tied to the global banking cabal as much as the United States. The East vs. West paradigm is a sham of the highest order.
Euroclear’s ties to the banking elite are obvious; however, we are still no closer to discovering the specific groups or institution responsible for buying up U.S. debt. I think that the use of Euroclear and Belgium may be a key in understanding this mystery.
Belgium is the political center of the EU, with more politicians, diplomats and lobbyists than Washington D.C. It is also, despite its size and economic weakness, a member of an exclusive economic club called the “Group Of Ten” (G10).
The G10 nations have all agreed to participate in a “General Arrangement to Borrow” (GAB) launched in 1962 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The GAB is designed as an ever cycling fund which members pay into. In times of emergency, members can ask the IMF’s permission for a release of funds. If the IMF agrees, it then injects capital through Treasury purchases and SDR allocations. Essentially, the IMF takes our money, then gives it back to us in times of desperation (with strings attached).  A similar program called ‘New Arrangements To Borrow’ (NAB) involves 38 member countries.  This fund was boosted to approximately 370 billion SDR (or $575 billion dollars U.S.) as the derivatives crisis struck markets in 2008-2009.  Without a full and independent audit of the IMF, however, it is impossible to know the exact funds it has at its disposal, or how many SDR’s it has created.
It should be noted the Bank of International Settlements is also an overseer of the G10. If you want to learn more about the darker nature of globalist groups like the IMF and the BIS, read my articles, Russia Is Dominated By Global Banks, Too, and False East/West Paradigm Hides The Rise Of Global Currency.
The following article from Harpers titled “Ruling The World Of Money,” was published in 1983 and boasts about the secrecy and “ingenuity” of the Bank Of International Settlements, an unaccountable body of financiers that dominates thevery course of economic life around the world.
It is my belief that Belgium, as a member of the G10 and the GAB/NAB agreements, is being used as a proxy by the BIS and the IMF to purchase U.S. debt, but at a high price. I believe that the banking elite are hiding behind their middleman, Euroclear, because they do not want their purchases of Treasuries revealed too soon. I believe that the IMF in particular is accumulating U.S. debt to be used later as leverage to absorb the dollar and finalize the rise of their SDR currency basket as the world reserve standard.
Imagine what would happen if all foreign creditors abandoned U.S. debt purchases because the dollar was no longer seen as viable as a world reserve currency.  Imagine that the Fed’s efforts to stimulate through fiat printing became useless in propping up Treasuries, serving only to devalue the domestic buying power of our currency.  Imagine that the IMF swoops in as the lender of last resort; the only entity willing to service our debt and keep the system running.  Imagine what kind of concessions America would have to make to a global loan shark like the IMF.
Keep in mind, the plan to replace the dollar is not mere “theory”.  In fact, IMF head Christine Lagarde has openly called for a “global financial system” to take over in the place of the current dollar based system.
The Bretton Woods System, established in 1944, was used by the United Nations and participating governments to form international rules of economic conduct, including fixed rates for currencies and establishing the dollar as the monetary backbone. The IMF was created during this shift towards globalization as the BIS slithered into the background after its business dealings with the Nazis were exposed. It was the G10, backed by the IMF, that then signed the Smithsonian Agreement in 1971 which ended the Bretton Woods system of fixed currencies, as well as any remnants of the gold standard. This led to the floated currency system we have today, as well as the slow poison of monetary inflation which has now destroyed more than 98 percent of the dollar’s purchasing power.
I believe the next and final step in the banker program is to reestablish a new Bretton Woods style system in the wake of an engineered catastrophe. That is to say, we are about to go full circle. Perhaps Ukraine will be the cover event, or tensions in the South China Sea. Just as Bretton Woods was unveiled during World War II, Bretton Woods redux may be unveiled during World War III. In either case, the false East/West paradigm is the most useful ploy the elites have to bring about a controlled decline of the dollar.
The new system will reintroduce the concept of fixed currencies, but this time, all currencies will be fixed or “pegged” to the value of the SDR global basket. The IMF holds a global SDR summit every five years, and the next meeting is set for the beginning of 2015.
If the Chinese yuan is brought into the SDR basket next year, if the BRICS enter into a conjured economic war with the West, and if the dollar is toppled as the world reserve, there will be nothing left in terms of fiscal structure in the way of a global currency system. If the public does not remove the globalist edifice by force, the IMF and the BIS will then achieve their dream – the complete dissolution of economic sovereignty, and the acceptance by the masses of global financial governance. The elites don’t want to hide behind the curtain anymore. They want recognition. They want to be worshiped. And, it all begins with the secret buyout of America, the implosion of our debt markets, and the annihilation of our way of life. Delivered by The Daily Sheeple

Contributed by Brandon Smith of Alt Market.
You can contact Brandon Smith at:
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Please share: Spread the word to sheeple far and wide

There's Nothing At Stake (except the future of man) by The Liberty Bard

These are all original copyrighted lyrics by JJ3 the Liberty Bard.
Come take a tour of my blog -
Music by
I am looking to connect with liberty minded musicians who want to partner up with me and turn my lyrics into great Liberty music.  I hope to make money on a finished song by submitting to my movie production contacts as well.  FULL LYRICS BELOW:
Armed with knowledge I enter the lair
of a corrupt system feeling quite laissez faire,
A free market army is guarding my back,
as the mainstream media begins their attack,
silver and gold are my weapons of choice,
backed by the power of the truth in my voice,
My only chance for change is to awaken the masses,
It's time to take off all your rose colored glasses.
There's nothing at stake, except the future of man,
and all our bought leaders, they don't have a plan,
they just know there's profit in a war with Iran,
All men of good conscience must join me and stand.
Stand for your right for individual choice,
stand for your right to listen to any voice,
stand for your right to protect your family,
stand for your right to protest peacifully,
stand for your right for personal privacy,
stand for your rights, because the people are we.
Filled with fury, the further I go,
deeper down the rabbit hole, I find our true foe,
It came from Jekyll island in the dark of the night
the very creature our forefather's did fight.
A central banking system owned by the elites
wholly owned governments chained at their feet.
Their shackles of debt enslave the populations,
as their financial con games bankrupt our nation.
When bankers are gangsters, and lobbyists rule,
and they buy politicians, who just become tools,
to the corporate interests and the bubbles they blow,
and the government wants you to be too dumb to know,
all the ways that they steal the bread off our table,
and when you point it out, it's a fantastic fable,
but knowledge is golden, ain't that right Pony Boy,
and I know too much to share in the medias joy,
when they all point out that our economies fine,
Please don't ask questions, just get back in line,
But anger is just when it is righteous,
enough is enough, let's get off the back of the bus,
let liberty serve us, defend our constitution,
there's no time like right now
to start a revolution.

Do you dare to take the red pill? Read Rothbard and see the true nature of the STATE

Rothbard’s Red Pill

Waking up to the nature of the State


I remember when the scales fell from my eyes, and I saw the State for what it truly is, and has always been. I was sitting in my car in San Francisco, listening to a audiobook of For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard. My perception of the world would never be the same again.
The experience was similar to a great scene in the film The Matrix. The character Neo knows that something is deeply wrong with the world, but is unable to identify it. He asks the mysterious Morpheus about something that has been haunting him. What is the Matrix?
Morpheus answers, “It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”
“What truth?” asks Neo.
“That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.”
Morpheus then offers Neo a choice between two pills: one red, and one blue.
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill: the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Neo takes the red pill, which awakens him from the virtual reality dream he had been living all his life: a dream that has been uploaded directly into his brain while, in reality, his body has been a host to parasitic machines. These machines cultivate and feed off of the bodies of billions of dreaming humans in vast factory farms.
Rothbard was my Morpheus, as he has been to countless libertarians, and his writings were my Red Pill. Reading them woke me up to the fact that I, like Neo, was born into bondage: bondage to the State, which is a life-sucking, human-farming parasite that hides its true nature under a veil of normalcy and legitimacy, and through lies that it has force-fed my mind since I was a little child.
Rothbard’s analysis of the State followed in the tradition of Lysander Spooner, Franz Oppenheimer, Albert Jay Nock, and Frank Chodorov. This tradition built up a theory of justice that made no exceptions for the state, and a sociological analysis of the state that revealed its true nature and function.
Whatever expansive and benign functions state-worshipers have granted it, and whatever limited function that even liberal “social contract” philosophers like Locke have allowed it, those who actually wield the apparatus of state power have their own purposes. It is their use and development of the state that determines its true function. And that function has not been to, as Gouverneur Morris put it, take part of its citizenry’s property “for the security of the remainder.”
No, the state does not tax so it can protect. It (ineptly) protects so it can tax. It is an uncommon criminal who says to common criminals, “Hands off, those are my victims.” It is a “monopoly of crime,” in the words of Nock: a “highwayman,” in the words of Spooner, except even worse than a highwayman, who, for all his faults, at least “does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.” It is a conquering horde, as Oppenheimer explained, settling in and making itself at home, and prudentially limiting its extractions so as not to kill its host.
Rothbard built on and systematized these analyses, especially in his For a New Liberty (1973), Anatomy of the State (1974), and The Ethics of Liberty (1982). Rothbard showed how “the State is nothing more nor less than a bandit gang writ large…” One of his most important contributions to this tradition was to integrate with it the insights of Étienne de La Boétie, David Hume, and Ludwig von Mises to explain how such “bandit gangs” hide their criminal nature with a veil of legitimacy weaved by Court Intellectuals and draped, Matrix-like, over our eyes by public schools and state-dominated media. These lackeys bamboozle and indoctrinate the public in exchange for a share in the pelf.
Thus, the State is a provident predator, prudentially progressing to parasitism, propped up by propaganda.
Morpheus wisely warned Neo, “Remember. All I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” After all, the truth can be an awful thing to wake up to. Neo’s virtual life of office work, internet lurking, and clubbing was swept away as he awoke to a hellish reality of prison-pods and killer robots.
It may not be quite as visually dramatic as that, but Rothbard’s Red Pill also packs one hell of a punch, and can send you reeling. It is deeply unsettling to see the veils of legitimacy and euphemism lift off of formerly cherished institutions.
That precious public school you drive by each day stands revealed as an indoctrination and sedation camp, with creepy droning pledges of submission, and the inculcation of worshipful reverence for the State’s most blood-soaked past leaders.
The heroic cop in the car behind you stands revealed as a highway robber, slave catcher, and fascist brutalizer, who will mug you the first chance he gets, shackle and cage you for profit if you have the wrong kind of herbage on your person, and may beat you into the pavement or put a bullet in your head if you somehow piss him off.
The freedom-defending wars you see covered on cable news, even the “good wars” in your history textbook, stand revealed as a corrupt atrocities of mass murder and terrorism.
The “good guys” become bad guys, and many “bad guys” become victims, as your whole world inverts.
In The Matrix, the character Cypher deeply regrets not having taken the Blue Pill and actively seeks to rewipe his mind so he will forget reality and return to the dream. “Ignorance is bliss,” he says longingly. Similarly, the true nature of the State is far too harsh a reality for some to accept, even for many libertarians. Such people will often have a viscerally negative reaction to Rothbard, because he always gives you the Red Pill straight, with no adulteration or soft-pedaling.
For others, like Neo, living a pleasant, but deeply suspect lie is far more agonizing than looking reality, awful as it in some ways is, square in the face, and doing the hard work necessary to change it. Such individuals will even become invigorated by the moral clarity that naturally comes with dropping double-standards. This may partially explain Rothbard’s own ready joyous cackle (a far cry from Neo’s perpetual hangdog demeanor) and love for life as well as liberty.
Like Morpheus’s, Rothbard’s Red Pill offers the truth, and nothing more. But for many, the truth gives a natural high unlike any other.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The petrodollar will not last forever, and when it ends...

The birth of a Eurasian century: Russia and China do Pipelineistan

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.
Published time: May 20, 2014 13:44
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and China's President Xi Jinping attend an agreement signing ceremony during a bilateral meeting at Xijiao State Guest house ahead of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai on May 20, 2014.(AFP Photo /  Alexey Druzhinin)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and China's President Xi Jinping attend an agreement signing ceremony during a bilateral meeting at Xijiao State Guest house ahead of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai on May 20, 2014.(AFP Photo / Alexey Druzhinin)
A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.
And no wonder Washington is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to NATO; inside the G20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain. Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership.
This week should provide the first real fireworks in the celebration of a new Eurasian century-in-the-making with Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting Xi in Shanghai this Tuesday and Wednesday. You remember Pipelineistan,” all those crucial oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing Eurasia that make up the true circulatory system for the life of the region. Now, it looks like the ultimate Pipelineistan deal, worth $1 trillion and 10 years in the making, will be inked as well. In it, the giant, state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom will agree to supply the giant state-controlled China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 3.75 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas a day for no less than 30 years, starting in 2018. That’s the equivalent of a quarter of Russia’s massive gas exports to all of Europe. China’s current daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet a day, and imports account for 31.6% of total consumption.
Gazprom may still collect the bulk of its profits from Europe, but Asia could turn out to be its Everest. The company will use this mega-deal to boost investment in Eastern Siberia and the whole region will be reconfigured as a privileged gas hub for Japan and South Korea as well. If you want to know why no key country in Asia has been willing to isolate Russia in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis - and in defiance of the Obama administration - look no further than Pipelineistan.

Exit the Petrodollar, Enter the Gas-o-Yuan

And then, talking about anxiety in Washington, there’s the fate of the petrodollar to consider, or rather the “thermonuclear” possibility that Moscow and Beijing will agree on payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal not in petrodollars but in Chinese yuan. One can hardly imagine a more tectonic shift, with Pipelineistan intersecting with a growing Sino-Russian political-economic-energy partnership. Along with it goes the future possibility of a push, led again by China and Russia, toward a new international reserve currency -- actually a basket of currencies -- that would supersede the dollar (at least in the optimistic dreams of BRICS members).
BRICS leaders (From L) India Prime minister Manmohan Singh, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, pose for a family photo in Durban on March 27, 2013.( AFP Photo / Alexander Joe )
BRICS leaders (From L) India Prime minister Manmohan Singh, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, pose for a family photo in Durban on March 27, 2013.( AFP Photo / Alexander Joe )

Right after the potentially game-changing Sino-Russian summit comes a BRICS summit in Brazil in July. That’s when a $100 billion BRICS development bank, announced in 2012, will officially be born as a potential alternative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as a source of project financing for the developing world.
More BRICS cooperation meant to bypass the dollar is reflected in the Gas-o-yuan,” as in natural gas bought and paid for in Chinese currency. Gazprom is even considering marketing bonds in yuan as part of the financial planning for its expansion. Yuan-backed bonds are already trading in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and most recently Frankfurt.
Nothing could be more sensible for the new Pipelineistan deal than to have it settled in yuan. Beijing would pay Gazprom in that currency (convertible into rubles); Gazprom would accumulate the yuan; and Russia would then buy myriad made-in-China goods and services in yuan convertible into rubles.
It’s common knowledge that banks in Hong Kong, from Standard Chartered to HSBC - as well as others closely linked to China via trade deals - have been diversifying into the yuan, which implies that it could become one of the de facto global reserve currencies even before it’s fully convertible. (Beijing is unofficially working for a fully convertible yuan by 2018.)
The Russia-China gas deal is inextricably tied up with the energy relationship between the European Union (EU) and Russia. After all, the bulk of Russia’s gross domestic product comes from oil and gas sales, as does much of its leverage in the Ukraine crisis. In turn, Germany depends on Russia for a hefty 30% of its natural gas supplies. Yet Washington’s geopolitical imperatives - spiced up with Polish hysteria - have meant pushing Brussels to find ways to “punish” Moscow in the future energy sphere (while not imperiling present day energy relationships).
There’s a consistent rumble in Brussels these days about the possible cancellation of the projected 16 billion euro South Stream pipeline, whose construction is to start in June. On completion, it would pump yet more Russian natural gas to Europe - in this case, underneath the Black Sea (bypassing Ukraine) to Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Austria.
Bulgaria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have already made it clear that they are firmly opposed to any cancellation. And cancellation is probably not in the cards. After all, the only obvious alternative is Caspian Sea gas from Azerbaijan, and that isn’t likely to happen unless the EU can suddenly muster the will and funds for a crash schedule to construct the fabled Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, conceived during the Clinton years expressly to bypass Russia and Iran.
In any case, Azerbaijan doesn’t have enough capacity to supply the levels of natural gas needed, and other actors like Kazakhstan, plagued with infrastructure problems, or unreliable Turkmenistan, which prefers to sell its gas to China, are already largely out of the picture. And don’t forget that South Stream, coupled with subsidiary energy projects, will create a lot of jobs and investment in many of the most economically devastated EU nations.
Nonetheless, such EU threats, however unrealistic, only serve to accelerate Russia’s increasing symbiosis with Asian markets. For Beijing especially, it’s a win-win situation. After all, between energy supplied across seas policed and controlled by the US Navy and steady, stable land routes out of Siberia, it’s no contest.

Pick Your Own Silk Road

Of course, the US dollar remains the top global reserve currency, involving 33% of global foreign exchange holdings at the end of 2013, according to the IMF. It was, however, at 55% in 2000. Nobody knows the percentage in yuan (and Beijing isn’t talking), but the IMF notes that reserves in “other currencies” in emerging markets have been up 400% since 2003.
The Fed is arguably monetizing 70% of the US government debt in an attempt to keep interest rates from heading skywards. Pentagon adviser Jim Rickards, as well as every Hong Kong-based banker, tends to believe that the Fed is bust (though they won’t say it on the record). No one can even imagine the extent of the possible future deluge the US dollar might experience amid a $1.4 quadrillion Mount Ararat of financial derivatives. Don’t think that this is the death knell of Western capitalism, however, just the faltering of that reigning economic faith, neoliberalism, still the official ideology of the United States, the overwhelming majority of the European Union, and parts of Asia and South America.
As far as what might be called the “authoritarian neoliberalism” of the Middle Kingdom, what’s not to like at the moment? China has proven that there is a result-oriented alternative to the Western “democratic” capitalist model for nations aiming to be successful. It’s building not one, but myriad new Silk Roads, massive webs of high-speed railways, highways, pipelines, ports, and fiber optic networks across huge parts of Eurasia. These include a Southeast Asian road, a Central Asian road, an Indian Ocean “maritime highway” and even a high-speed rail line through Iran and Turkey reaching all the way to Germany.
In April, when President Xi Jinping visited the city of Duisburg on the Rhine River, with the largest inland harbor in the world and right in the heartland of Germany’s Ruhr steel industry, he made an audacious proposal: a new “economic Silk Road” should be built between China and Europe, on the basis of the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe railway, which already runs from China to Kazakhstan, then through Russia, Belarus, Poland, and finally Germany. That’s 15 days by train, 20 less than for cargo ships sailing from China’s eastern seaboard. Now that would represent the ultimate geopolitical earthquake in terms of integrating economic growth across Eurasia.
Keep in mind that, if no bubbles burst, China is about to become - and remain - the number one global economic power, a position it enjoyed for 18 of the past 20 centuries. But don’t tell London hagiographers; they still believe that US hegemony will last, well, forever.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and China's President Xi Jinping attend an agreement signing ceremony during a bilateral meeting at Xijiao State Guesthouse ahead of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai May 20, 2014.(Reuters / Carlos Barria)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and China's President Xi Jinping attend an agreement signing ceremony during a bilateral meeting at Xijiao State Guesthouse ahead of the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) summit, in Shanghai May 20, 2014.(Reuters / Carlos Barria)

Take Me to Cold War 2.0

Despite recent serious financial struggles, the BRICS countries have been consciously working to become a counterforce to the original and - having tossed Russia out in March - once again Group of 7, or G7. They are eager to create a new global architecture to replace the one first imposed in the wake of World War II, and they see themselves as a potential challenge to the exceptionalist and unipolar world that Washington imagines for our future (with itself as the global robocop and NATO as its robo-police force). Historian and imperialist cheerleader Ian Morris, in his book War! What is it Good For?, defines the US as the ultimate “globocop” and “the last best hope of Earth.” If that globocop “wearies of its role,” he writes, “there is no plan B.”
Well, there is a plan BRICS - or so the BRICS nations would like to think, at least. And when the BRICS do act in this spirit on the global stage, they quickly conjure up a curious mix of fear, hysteria, and pugnaciousness in the Washington establishment. Take Christopher Hill as an example. The former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and US ambassador to Iraq is now an advisor with the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm deeply connected to the White House and the State Department. When Russia was down and out, Hill used to dream of a hegemonic American “new world order.” Now that the ungrateful Russians have spurned what “the West has been offering” - that is, “special status with NATO, a privileged relationship with the European Union, and partnership in international diplomatic endeavors” - they are, in his view, busy trying to revive the Soviet empire. Translation: if you’re not our vassals, you’re against us. Welcome to Cold War 2.0.
The Pentagon has its own version of this directed not so much at Russia as at China, which, its think tank on future warfare claims, is already at war with Washington in a number of ways. So if it’s not apocalypse now, it’s Armageddon tomorrow. And it goes without saying that whatever’s going wrong, as the Obama administration very publicly “pivots” to Asia and the American media fills with talk about a revival of Cold War-era “containment policy” in the Pacific, it’s all China’s fault.
Embedded in the mad dash toward Cold War 2.0 are some ludicrous facts-on-the-ground: the US government, with $17.5 trillion in national debt and counting, is contemplating a financial showdown with Russia, the largest global energy producer and a major nuclear power, just as it’s also promoting an economically unsustainable military encirclement of its largest creditor, China.
Russia runs a sizeable trade surplus. Humongous Chinese banks will have no trouble helping Russian banks out if Western funds dry up. In terms of inter-BRICS cooperation, few projects beat a $30 billion oil pipeline in the planning stages that will stretch from Russia to India via Northwest China. Chinese companies are already eagerly discussing the possibility of taking part in the creation of a transport corridor from Russia into Crimea, as well as an airport, shipyard, and liquid natural gas terminal there. And there’s another “thermonuclear” gambit in the making: the birth of a natural gas equivalent to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that would include Russia, Iran, and reportedly disgruntled US ally Qatar.
The (unstated) BRICS long-term plan involves the creation of an alternative economic system featuring a basket of gold-backed currencies that would bypass the present America-centric global financial system. (No wonder Russia and China are amassing as much gold as they can.) The euro - a sound currency backed by large liquid bond markets and huge gold reserves - would be welcomed in as well.
It’s no secret in Hong Kong that the Bank of China has been using a parallel SWIFT network to conduct every kind of trade with Tehran, which is under a heavy US sanctions regime. With Washington wielding Visa and Mastercard as weapons in a growing Cold War-style economic campaign against Russia, Moscow is about to implement an alternative payment and credit card system not controlled by Western finance. An even easier route would be to adopt the Chinese Union Pay system, whose operations have already overtaken American Express in global volume.

I’m Just Pivoting With Myself

No amount of Obama administration “pivoting” to Asia to contain China (and threaten it with US Navy control of the energy sea lanes to that country) is likely to push Beijing far from its Deng Xiaoping-inspired, self-described peaceful development strategy meant to turn it into a global powerhouse of trade. Nor are the forward deployment of US or NATO troops in Eastern Europe or other such Cold-War-ish acts likely to deter Moscow from a careful balancing act: ensuring that Russia’s sphere of influence in Ukraine remains strong without compromising trade and commercial, as well as political, ties with the European Union - above all, with strategic partner Germany. This is Moscow’s Holy Grail; a free-trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok, which (not by accident) is mirrored in China’s dream of a new Silk Road to Germany.
Increasingly wary of Washington, Berlin for its part abhors the notion of Europe being caught in the grips of a Cold War 2.0. German leaders have more important fish to fry, including trying to stabilize a wobbly EU while warding off an economic collapse in southern and central Europe and the advance of ever more extreme right-wing parties.
Reuters / Stringer
Reuters / Stringer

On the other side of the Atlantic, President Obama and his top officials show every sign of becoming entangled in their own pivoting - to Iran, to China, to Russia’s eastern borderlands, and (under the radar) to Africa. The irony of all these military-first maneuvers is that they are actually helping Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing build up their own strategic depth in Eurasia and elsewhere, as reflected in Syria, or crucially in ever more energy deals. They are also helping cement the growing strategic partnership between China and Iran. The unrelenting Ministry of Truth narrative out of Washington about all these developments now carefully ignores the fact that, without Moscow, the “West” would never have sat down to discuss a final nuclear deal with Iran or gotten a chemical disarmament agreement out of Damascus.
When the disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea and between that country and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyou islands meet the Ukraine crisis, the inevitable conclusion will be that both Russia and China consider their borderlands and sea lanes private property and aren’t going to take challenges quietly - be it via NATO expansion, US military encirclement, or missile shields. Neither Beijing nor Moscow is bent on the usual form of imperialist expansion, despite the version of events now being fed to Western publics. Their “red lines” remain essentially defensive in nature, no matter the bluster sometimes involved in securing them.
Whatever Washington may want or fear or try to prevent, the facts on the ground suggest that, in the years ahead, Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran will only grow closer, slowly but surely creating a new geopolitical axis in Eurasia. Meanwhile, a discombobulated America seems to be aiding and abetting the deconstruction of its own unipolar world order, while offering the BRICS a genuine window of opportunity to try to change the rules of the game.

Russia and China in Pivot Mode

In Washington’s think-tank land, the conviction that the Obama administration should be focused on replaying the Cold War via a new version of containment policy to “limit the development of Russia as a hegemonic power” has taken hold. The recipe: weaponize the neighbors from the Baltic states to Azerbaijan to “contain” Russia. Cold War 2.0 is on because, from the point of view of Washington’s elites, the first one never really left town.
Yet as much as the US may fight the emergence of a multipolar, multi-powered world, economic facts on the ground regularly point to such developments. The question remains: Will the decline of the hegemon be slow and reasonably dignified, or will the whole world be dragged down with it in what has been called “the Samson option”?
While we watch the spectacle unfold, with no end game in sight, keep in mind that a new force is growing in Eurasia, with the Sino-Russian strategic alliance threatening to dominate its heartland along with great stretches of its inner rim. Now, that’s a nightmare of Mackinderesque proportions from Washington’s point of view. Think, for instance, of how Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser who became a mentor on global politics to President Obama, would see it.
In his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski argued that “the struggle for global primacy [would] continue to be played” on the Eurasian “chessboard,” of which “Ukraine was a geopolitical pivot.” “If Moscow regains control over Ukraine,” he wrote at the time, Russia would “automatically regain the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”
That remains most of the rationale behind the American imperial containment policy - from Russia’s European “near abroad” to the South China Sea. Still, with no endgame in sight, keep your eye on Russia pivoting to Asia, China pivoting across the world, and the BRICS hard at work trying to bring about the new Eurasian Century.
This article was first published at
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.