Archive for the ‘The ‘Narrative’’ Category

via The most perilous time in world history got worse

The Most Perilous Time In World History Just Got WORSE! Posted By Luther Blissett: By Stephen Lendman: Intrepid Report 03/19/18: https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/03/19/the-most-perilous-time-in-world-history-got-worse/ Or: https://randrewohge.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/the-most-perilous-time-in-world-history-just-got-worse/

Events ongoing should terrify everyone—things likely heading for greater war than already.

Most Americans, Brits, and others in NATO countries are unaware of the danger posed by hardline Western extremists in charge of policy-making—notably in Washington, London and Israel, the Jewish state an alliance Mediterranean Dialogue member.

Businessman Trump was co-opted to be a warrior president—neocon generals in charge of geopolitical policies, their agenda hardened by Mike Pompeo replacing Rex Tillerson at State, along with torturer-in-chief Gina Haspel appointed new CIA director.

An unholy alliance of US extremist policymakers allied with like-minded ones in partner countries risks war winds reaching gale force, a terrifying prospect if confrontation with Russia, Iran or North Korea occurs—the possibility increased by recent events.

Earlier this week, US Defense Secretary Mattis and UN envoy Haley threatened Russia and Damascus.

Russia vowed to retaliate against US attacks on Syrian forces in East Ghouta or elsewhere endangering its personnel in the country.

Anti-Russia hysteria in Britain over the Sergey Skripal poisoning affair, most certainly Moscow had nothing to do with, soured bilateral relations more than already.

In response to British PM Theresa May demanding swift Russian answers to questions posed about the incident, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman (speaking for her government) replied sharply saying, “One does not give 24 hours notice to a nuclear power,” adding the “Skripal poisoning was not an incident but a colossal international provocation,” adding not a “single international legal mechanism [exists] to probe the Skripal case.”

Russia’s embassy in London said “Moscow will not respond to London’s ultimatum until it receives samples of the chemical substance to which the UK investigators are referring.”

“Britain must comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention which stipulates joint investigation into the incident, for which Moscow is ready.”

“Without that, there can be no sense in any statements from London. The incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia.”

“Any threat to take ‘punitive’ measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.”

“Not only is Russia groundlessly and provocatively accused of the Salisbury incident, but apparently, plans are being developed in the UK to strike Russia with cyber weapons.”

“Judging by the statements of the prime minister, such a decision can be taken at tomorrow’s meeting of the National Security Council.”

Given the gravity of the situation, the above comments by Russian diplomats were uncharacteristically strong.

Sergey Lavrov warned Washington that “[i]f a new [US] strike . . . takes place [against Syrian forces], the consequences will be very serious,” adding, “I simply don’t have any normal terms left to describe all this.”

What’s coming remains to be seen. Hostile rhetoric from US and UK officials, along with hawkish extremists Pompeo in charge at State and Haspel appointed new CIA chief likely signal more war, not less.

What’s ongoing assures no possibility of improving dismal bilateral relations with Russia, China, Iran and other sovereign independent countries.

Talks with North Korea could either be scuttled or confrontational if they take place.

Given very disturbing ongoing events, the perilous state of world conditions reached a new low.

Be scared about what may follow—be very scared!

via The Military Industrial Complex Strikes Again: War Spending Will Bankrupt America

The Military Industrial Complex Strikes Again: War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Posted By Luther Blissett By John W. Whitehead: The Rutherford Institute 03/06/18: https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/03/06/the-military-industrial-complex-strikes-again-war-spending-will-bankrupt-america/ OR: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3574

“Why throw money at defense when everything is falling down around us? Do we need to spend more money on our military (about $600 billion this year) than the next seven countries combined?

Do we need 1.4 million active military personnel and 850,000 reserves when the enemy at the moment-ISIS-numbers in the low tens of thousands?

If so, it seems there’s something radically wrong with our strategy.

Should 55% of the federal government’s discretionary spending go to the military and only 3% to transportation when the toll in American lives is far greater from failing infrastructure than from terrorism?

Does California need nearly as many active military bases (31, according to militarybases.com) as it has UC and state university campuses (33)?

And does the state need more active duty military personnel (168,000, according to Governing magazine) than public elementary school teachers (139,000)?”— Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times

Mark my words, America’s war spending will bankrupt the nation.

For that matter, America’s war spending has already bankrupted the nation to the tune of more than $20 trillion dollars.

Now the Trump Administration is pushing for a $4.4 trillion budget for fiscal year 2019 that would add $7 trillion to the already unsustainable federal deficit in order to sustain America’s military empire abroad and dramatically expand the police state here at home.

Trump also wants American taxpayers to cover the cost of building that infamous border wall.

Truly, Trump may turn out to be, as policy analyst Stan Collender warned, “the biggest deficit- and debt-increasing president of all time.”

For those in need of a quick reminder:

“A budget deficit is the difference between what the federal government spends and what it takes in.

The national debt, also known as the public debt, is the result of the federal government borrowing money to cover years and years of budget deficits.”

Right now, the U.S. government is operating in the negative on every front: it’s spending far more than what it makes (and takes from the American taxpayers) and it is borrowing heavily (from foreign governments and Social Security) to keep the government operating and keep funding its endless wars abroad.

This is how military empires fall and fail: by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome.

It’s happening again.

Not content to merely police the globe, in recent decades, America has gradually transformed its homeland into a battlefield with militarized police and weapons better suited to a war zone.

Since taking office, President Trump—much like his predecessors—has marched in lockstep with the military.

Now Trump wants $716 billion to expand America’s military empire abroad and billions more to hire cops, build more prisons and wage more profit-driven war-on-drugs/war-on-terrorism/war-on-crime programs that eat away at the Fourth Amendment while failing to make the country any safer.

Even the funds requested for infrastructure will do little to shore up the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, railways, highways, power grids and dams.

No matter how your break it down, this is not a budget aimed at perfecting the Union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting general welfare, or securing the blessings of liberty for the American people.

No, this is a budget aimed at pandering to the powerful money interests (military, corporate and security) that run the Deep State and hold the government in its clutches.

So much for Trump’s campaign promises to balance the budget and drain the swamps of corruption.

The glaring economic truth is that at the end of the day, it’s the military industrial complex—and not the sick, the elderly or the poor—that is pushing America towards bankruptcy.

As investigative journalist Uri Friedman puts it, for more than 15 years now, the United States has been fighting terrorism with a credit card, “essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

The illicit merger of the armaments industry and the Pentagon that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us against more than 50 years ago has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation’s fragile infrastructure today.

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $15 billion a month (or $20 million an hour)—and that’s just what the government spends on foreign wars.

That does not include the cost of maintaining and staffing the 1000-plus U.S. military bases spread around the globe.

Incredibly, although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world’s population, America boasts almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure, spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined.

In fact, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

War is not cheap.

Although the federal government obscures so much about its defense spending that accurate figures are difficult to procure, we do know that since 2001, the U.S. government has spent more than $1.8 trillion in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (that’s $8.3 million per hour).

That doesn’t include wars and military exercises waged around the globe, which are expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053.

Mind you, these ongoing wars—riddled by corruption, graft and bumbling incompetence—have done little to keep the country safe while enriching the military industrial complex—and private defense contractors—at taxpayer expense.

Just recently, for example, a leading accounting firm concluded that one of the Pentagon’s largest agencies “can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending.”

Just consider the fact that it costs American taxpayers $2.1 million per year for each soldier deployed in Afghanistan.

Imagine what you could do with that money if it were spent on domestic needs here at home.

Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen anytime soon, not as long as the money interests in Washington keep calling the shots and profiting from the spoils of war.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire, is one of its best buyers and sellers.

Not only does the U.S. have the largest defense budget, it also ranks highest as the world’s largest arms exporter.

The American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth.

For example, while erecting a security surveillance state in the U.S., the military-industrial complex has perpetuated a worldwide military empire with American troops stationed in 177 countries (over 70% of the countries worldwide).

In the process, billions have been spent erecting luxury military installations throughout the world.

For example, the U.S. Embassy built in Iraq, dubbed “Fortress Baghdad,” covers 104 acres and boasts a “city within a city” that includes six apartment buildings, a Marine barracks, swimming pool, shops and 15-foot-thick walls.

Camp Anaconda in Iraq, like many U.S. military bases scattered across the globe, was structured to resemble a mini-city with pools, fast food restaurants, miniature golf courses and movie theaters.

While most Americans can scarcely afford the cost of heating and cooling their own homes, the American government spends $20 billion annually just to provide air conditioning for military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In essence, what we’re doing is “we’re air conditioning the desert over there in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places,” noted retired brigadier general Steven Anderson, a former chief logistician for Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq.

Think about that for a minute.

There’s a good reason why “bloated,” “corrupt” and “inefficient” are among the words most commonly applied to the government, especially the Department of Defense and its contractors.

For instance, a study by the Government Accountability Office found that $70 billion worth of cost overruns by the Pentagon were caused by management failures.

To put that in perspective, that equates to one and a half times the State Department’s entire $47 billion annual budget.

Fraud is rampant.

A government audit, for example, found that defense contractor Boeing has been massively overcharging taxpayers for mundane parts, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overspending. As the report noted, the American taxpayer paid:

$71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents;

$644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a 5,100 percent increase in price.

$1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase.

$71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.

Price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire.

And if you think gas prices at home can get high, just consider what the American taxpayer is being forced to shell out overseas: once all the expenses of delivering gas to troops in the field are factored in, we’re paying between $18-30 per gallon for gas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Incredibly, despite reports of corruption, abuse and waste, the mega-corporations behind much of this ineptitude and corruption continue to be awarded military contracts worth billions of dollars.

The rationale may keep changing for why American military forces are in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, but the one that remains constant is that those who run the government are feeding the appetite of the military industrial complex.

What began in 2001 as part of an alleged effort to root out al Qaeda has turned into a goldmine for the military industrial complex and its army of private contractors.

Just consider: the Pentagon in 2008 spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earned in a year.

Yet Congress and the White House want taxpayers to accept that the only way to reduce the nation’s ballooning deficit is by cutting “entitlement” programs such as Social Security and Medicare?

As Martin Luther King Jr. recognized, under a military empire, war and its profiteering will always take precedence over the people’s basic human needs.

Simply put, we cannot afford to maintain our over-extended military empire.

“Money is the new 800-pound gorilla,” remarked a senior administration official involved in Afghanistan.

“It shifts the debate from ‘Is the strategy working?’ to ‘Can we afford this?’

And when you view it that way, the scope of the mission that we have now is far, far less defensible.”

Or as one commentator noted, “Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it.”

Inevitably, military empires collapse.

As Cullen Murphy, author of Are We Rome? and editor-at-large of Vanity Fair writes:

A millennium hence America will be hard to recognize.

It may not exist as a nation-state in the form it does now—or even exist at all.

Will the transitions ahead be gradual and peaceful or abrupt and catastrophic?

Will our descendants be living productive lives in a society better than the one we inhabit now?

Whatever happens, will valuable aspects of America’s legacy weave through the fabric of civilizations to come?

Will historians someday have reason to ask, Did America really fall?

The problem we wrestle with is none other than a distorted American empire, complete with mega-corporations, security-industrial complexes and a burgeoning military.

And it has its sights set on absolute domination.

Eventually, however, all military empires fail.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military.

Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise.

As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways.

Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy.

Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire.

Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

I would suggest that what we have is a confluence of factors and influences that go beyond mere comparisons to Rome.

It is a union of Orwell’s 1984 with its shadowy, totalitarian government—i.e., fascism, the union of government and corporate powers—and a total surveillance state with a military empire extended throughout the world.

As we have seen with the militarizing of the police, the growth of and reliance on militarism as the solution for our problems both domestically and abroad affects the basic principles upon which American society should operate.

We must keep in mind that a military empire will be ruled not by lofty ideals of equality and justice but by the power of the sword.

Those in the military are primarily trained to conduct warfare, not preserve the peace.

Here’s the kicker, though: if the American empire falls and the American economy collapses—and with it the last vestiges of our constitutional republic—it will be the government and its trillion-dollar war budgets that are to blame.

Of course, the government has already anticipated this breakdown.

That’s why the government has transformed America into a war zone, turned the nation into a surveillance state, and labelled “we the people” as enemy combatants.

For years now, the government has worked with the military to prepare for widespread civil unrest brought about by “economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters.”

Having spent more than half a century exporting war to foreign lands, profiting from war, and creating a national economy seemingly dependent on the spoils of war, the war hawks long ago turned their profit-driven appetites on us, bringing home the spoils of war—the military tanks, grenade launchers, Kevlar helmets, assault rifles, gas masks, ammunition, battering rams, night vision binoculars, etc.—and handing them over to local police, thereby turning America into a battlefield.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America:

The War on the American People, this is how the police state wins and “we the people” lose.

More than 50 years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned us not to let the profit-driven war machine endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

We failed to heed his warning.

As Eisenhower recognized in a speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, on Apr. 16, 1953, the consequences of allowing the military-industrial complex to wage war, exhaust our resources and dictate our national priorities are beyond grave:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people…

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.

Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

via Bill Gates vs. freedom

Bill Gates Versus Freedom-You DO NOT Want To Skip Reading This…You NEED To Know What It Is Warning You About
By Jon Rappoport 03/06/18: https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/bill-gates-vs-freedom/ OR: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3571

“Under the surface of this global civilization, a great and secret war is taking place.

The two opponents hold different conceptions of Reality.

On one side, those who claim that humans operate purely on the basis of stimulus-response, like machines; on the other side, those who believe there is a gigantic thing called freedom.

Phase One of the war is already over.

The stimulus-response people have won.

In Phase Two, people are waking up to the far-reaching and devastating consequences of the Pavlovian program.” (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)

“From the moment the first leader of the first clan in human history took charge, he busied himself with this question:

‘What can I say and do that will make my people react the way I want them to.’

He was the first Pavlov.

He was the first psychologist, the first propagandist, the first mind-control boss.

His was the first little empire.

Since then, only the means and methods have changed.” (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)

A thought-form is a picture-plus concept in the mind that tends to guide behavior.

A dominant thought-form in Earth civilization today is: universal rule through gigantic, highly organized structures; e.g., mega-corporations that owe no allegiance to any nation.

Imagine a few thousand such corporations with interlocking boards and directorates; colluding with super-regional governments and their honeycombed bureaucracies; combined with regional armies, intelligence agencies and technological elites; hooked to a global surveillance operation; in control of media; cooperating with the largest organized religions on Earth.

Imagine all this as essentially one organization—and you see the thought-form in its wide-screen version.

Top-down as top-down has never been before.

Functions and compartments defined and specialized at every level, and coordinated in order to carry out policy decisions.

As to why such a thought-form should come to dominate human affairs, the simplest explanation is: because it works.

But beneath that answer, for those who can see, there is much, much more.

Individuals come to think that “effective” and “instrumental” and “efficient” are more important than any other issues.

Keep building, keep expanding, keep consolidating gains—and above all else, keep organizing.

Such notions and thought-forms replace life itself.

The Machine has come to the fore.

All questions are now about how the individual sees himself fitting into the structure and function of The Machine.

Are human beings becoming social constructs?

Populations are undergoing a quiet revolution.

We can cite some of the reasons: television; education; job training and employment requirements; the Surveillance State; government organizations who follow a “zero tolerance” policy; inundation with advertising.

Yes, it’s all geared to produce people who are artificial constructs.

And this is just the beginning.

There are a number of companies (see, for example, affectiva.com) who are dedicated to measuring “audience response” to ads and other public messages.

I’m talking about electronic measuring.

The use of bracelets, for instance, that record students’ emotional responses to teachers in classrooms, in real time. (Bill Gates shoveled grant money into several of these studies.)

Then there is facial recognition geared to the task of revealing how people are reacting when they sit at their computers.

Push-pull, ring the bell, watch the dog drool for his food.

Stimulus-response.

It’s not much of a stretch to envision, up the road a few years, whole populations more than willing to volunteer for this kind of mass experimentation.

But further than that, we could see society itself embrace, culturally, the ongoing measurement of stimuli and responses.

“Yes, I want to live like this. I want to be inside the system.

I want to be analyzed.

I want to be evaluated.

I want to accept the results.

I want to be part of the new culture.

Put bracelets on me.

Measure my eye movements, my throat twitches that indicate what I’m thinking, and my brain waves.

Going to a movie should include the experience of wearing electrodes that record my second-to-second reactions to what’s happening on the screen.

I like that.

I look forward to it…”

In such a culture, “Surveillance State” would take on a whole new dimension.

“Sir, I want to report a malfunction in my television set.

I notice the monitoring equipment that tracks my responses to programs has gone on the blink.

I want it reattached as soon as possible.

Can you fix it remotely, or do you need to send a repair person out to the house?

I’ll be here all day…”

People will take pride in their ongoing role as social constructs, just as they now take pride in owning a quality brand of car.

The thought process behind this, in so far as any thought at all takes place, goes something like:

“If I’m really a bundle of responses to stimuli and nothing more, then I want to be inside a system that champions that fact and records it…I don’t want to be left out in the cold.”

Here is a sample school situation of the near future: for six months, Mr. Jones, the teacher, has been videotaped, moment by moment, as he instructs his class in English.

All the students have been wearing electronic bracelets, and their real time emotional responses (interest, boredom, aversion) have also been recorded.

A team of specialists has analyzed the six months of video, matching it up, second by second, to the students’ responses.

The teacher is called in for a conference.

“Mr. Jones, we now know what you’re doing that works and what you’re doing that doesn’t work.

We know exactly what students are positively reacting to, and what bores them.

Therefore, we’re going to put you into a re-ed seminar, where you’ll learn precisely how to teach your classes from now on, to maximize your effectiveness.

We’ll show you how to move your hands, what tone of voice to use, how to stand, when to make eye contact, and so on…”

Mr. Jones is now a quacking duck.

He will be trained how to quack “for the greater good.”

He is now a machine toy.

Whatever is left of his passion, his intelligence, his free will, his spontaneous insights, his drive to make students actually understand what they’re learning…all subordinated for the sake of supposed efficiency.

Think this is an extreme fantasy?

See the Chicago Tribune, June 12, 2012, “Biosensors to monitor students’ attentiveness”:

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an ‘engagement pedometer.’

Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.”

“The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall [2012].”

“The biometric bracelets, produced by a Massachusetts startup company, Affectiva Inc, send a small current across the skin and then measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the sympathetic nervous system responds to stimuli.

The wireless devices have been used in pilot tests to gauge consumers’ emotional response to advertising.”

“Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out.”

“Existing measures of student engagement, such as videotaping classes for expert review or simply asking kids what they liked in a lesson, ‘only get us so far,’ said Debbie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation.

To truly improve teaching and learning, she said, ‘we need universal, valid, reliable and practical instruments’ such as the biosensors.”

“The Gates Foundation has spent two years videotaping 20,000 classroom lessons and breaking them down, minute by minute, to analyze how each teacher presents material and how those techniques affect student test scores.”

“Clemson received about $500,000 in Gates funding.

Another $620,000 will support an MIT scientist, John Gabrieli, who aims to develop a scale to measure degrees of student engagement by comparing biosensor data to functional MRI brain scans [!] (using college students as subjects).”

When you boil it down, the world-view represented here has nothing to do with “caring about students.”

It has everything to do with the Pavlovian view of humans as biological machines.

What input yields what response?

How can people be shaped into predictable constructs?

As far as Gates is concerned, the underlying theme, as always, is: control.

In this new world, the process of thinking and comparing and independently judging, and the freedom to make individual choices…well, for whatever that was worth, we can’t encourage it for a whole society.

It’s too unpredictable.

We don’t have time for that sort of thing.

No, we have to achieve reduction.

We have to seek out lowest common denominators.

This is what universal surveillance is all about; the observation of those denominators and the variances from them—the outlying and therefore dangerous departures from the norm.

“Well, we’ve tracked Mr. Jones’ classroom for a year now, and we’ve collated all the measurements of reactions from the students.

It was a wonderful study.

But we did notice one thing.

All the students showed similar patterns of reactions over time…except two students.

We couldn’t fit them into the algorithms.

They seemed to be responding oppositely.

It was almost as if they were intentionally defecting from the group.

This signals some kind of disorder.

We need a name for it.

Is it Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or is it new?

We recommend attaching electrodes to those two students’ skulls, so we can get a better readout of their brain activity in real time.”

You see, everything must be analyzed on the basis of stimulus response.

Those two students are suffering from a brain problem.

They must be.

Because if they aren’t, if they have the ability to choose and decide how to respond, then they have free will, and that can’t be measured.

Much deeper, that also suggests an X-factor in humans, wherein the flow of chemicals and atoms and quarks and mesons and photons don’t tell the whole story.

The rest of the story would imply the existence of something that is…non-material…above and beyond push-pull cause and effect.

The gatekeepers of this world are obsessed with ruling that out.

They guard Reality itself, which is to say, their conception of Reality.

They are willing to spend untold amounts of money to make that Pavlovian conception universally accepted and universally loved.

Because they own that conception.

They are the self-appointed title holders.

They are the kings of that domain.

I feel obligated to inform them that their domain is much, much smaller than they think it is.

And in the fullness of time, which is very long, the domain is going to fall and crack and collapse and disintegrate.

And all their horses and all their men won’t be able to put it back together.

Eventually, a man like Bill Gates will be forgotten.

He’ll be a small footnote on a dusty page in a crumbling book in a dark room on a remote island.

A morbid venal fool who chased, for a brief moment, fool’s gold.

There is an irreducible thing.

It’s called freedom.

It is native to every individual.

Sometimes it rears its head in the middle of the night, and the dreamer awakes.

And he asks himself: what is my freedom for?

And then he begins a voyage that no device can record, measure, or analyze.

If he pursues it long enough, it takes him out of the labyrinth.

Pavlov wrote:

“Mankind will possess incalculable advantages and extraordinary control over human behavior when the scientific investigator will be able to subject his fellow men to the same external analysis he would employ for any natural object…”

Basically, Pavlov was promoting the idea that whatever an individual perceives and feels about his own experience is a confused mess and an obstruction.

Rather, the individual should ignore all that tripe, and instead, allow himself to be a “natural object,” see himself as a clean and simple response mechanism, as planned inputs cause him to behave in various ways.

In other words, then he will have no life.

Bill Gates and other elite planners are working toward this end.

When Ray Kurzweil talks about hooking brains up to super-computers, he is envisioning a process of downloading that goes beyond choice.

Somehow, automatically, the brain and the individual (he apparently believes they are the same thing) will receive inputs that translate into knowledge and even talent.

This is another fatuous version of Pavlov.

In Brave New World, Huxley wrote:

“Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels.

Coolness was wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays.

By the time they were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold.

They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner[s] and acetate silk spinners and steel workers.

Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies.

‘We condition them to thrive on heat’, concluded Mr. Foster.

‘Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it’.”

Stimulus-response.

If researchers developed this technology, who could doubt that elite planners would push it forward?

It would be the culmination of their dream.

The freedom of the individual, his innate capacity to make wide-ranging choices, is the monkey wrench in the program.

It is anti-stimulus-response.

This is why you would have to search far and wide to find, in one school, anywhere, on any level, a course that examines and promotes individual freedom.

It is anathema to the plan.

It is the silver bullet for the vampire.

Freedom comes from Within the individual, not from Without.

On the level of political control, freedom emerged and broke through during centuries of struggle.

Now, and in the future, every individual carries that torch.

So it is incumbent on the individual to understand the scope and meaning and power of his own freedom, and to decide for himself what his freedom is FOR.

What will he choose to launch from that great space?

via Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans

Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans
Posted By Luther Blissett-By Henry Farrell: Boston Review 03/02/18: https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/03/02/philip-k-dick-and-the-fake-humans/ Or https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3564

(Editor’s note: on this 36th anniversary of the passing of Philip K. Dick, it seems an appropriate time to note the relevance of his work to our current dystopia as Henry Farrell does in the following essay. Unfortunately the author is less astute regarding the ways in which the dystopias of Orwell and Huxley are equally relevant to our current milieu.)

This is not the dystopia we were promised.

We are not learning to love Big Brother, who lives, if he lives at all, on a cluster of server farms, cooled by environmentally friendly technologies.

Nor have we been lulled by Soma and subliminal brain programming into a hazy acquiescence to pervasive social hierarchies.

Dystopias tend toward fantasies of absolute control, in which the system sees all, knows all, and controls all. And our world is indeed one of ubiquitous surveillance.

Phones and household devices produce trails of data, like particles in a cloud chamber, indicating our wants and behaviors to companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

Yet the information thus produced is imperfect and classified by machine-learning algorithms that themselves make mistakes.

The efforts of these businesses to manipulate our wants leads to further complexity.

It is becoming ever harder for companies to distinguish the behavior which they want to analyze from their own and others’ manipulations.

This does not look like totalitarianism unless you squint very hard indeed.

As the sociologist Kieran Healy has suggested, sweeping political critiques of new technology often bear a strong family resemblance to the arguments of Silicon Valley boosters.

Both assume that the technology works as advertised, which is not necessarily true at all.

Standard utopias and standard dystopias are each perfect after their own particular fashion.

We live somewhere queasier—a world in which technology is developing in ways that make it increasingly hard to distinguish human beings from artificial things.

The world that the Internet and social media have created is less a system than an ecology, a proliferation of unexpected niches, and entities created and adapted to exploit them in deceptive ways.

Vast commercial architectures are being colonized by quasi-autonomous parasites.

Scammers have built algorithms to write fake books from scratch to sell on Amazon, compiling and modifying text from other books and online sources such as Wikipedia, to fool buyers or to take advantage of loopholes in Amazon’s compensation structure.

Much of the world’s financial system is made out of bots-automated systems designed to continually probe markets for fleeting arbitrage opportunities.

Less sophisticated programs plague online commerce systems such as eBay and Amazon, occasionally with extraordinary consequences, as when two warring bots bid the price of a biology book up to $23,698,655.93 (plus $3.99 shipping).

In other words, we live in Philip K. Dick’s future, not George Orwell’s or Aldous Huxley’s.

Dick was no better a prophet of technology than any science fiction writer, and was arguably worse than most.

His imagined worlds jam together odd bits of fifties’ and sixties’ California with rocket ships, drugs, and social speculation.

Dick usually wrote in a hurry and for money, and sometimes under the influence of drugs or a recent and urgent personal religious revelation.

Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together.

As Dick described his work (in the opening essay to his 1985 collection, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon):

The two basic topics which fascinate me are “What is reality?” and “What constitutes the authentic human being?”

Over the twenty-seven years in which I have published novels and stories I have investigated these two interrelated topics over and over again.

These obsessions had some of their roots in Dick’s complex and ever-evolving personal mythology (in which it was perfectly plausible that the “real” world was a fake, and that we were all living in Palestine sometime in the first century AD).

Yet they were also based on a keen interest in the processes through which reality is socially constructed.

Dick believed that we all live in a world where “spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups—and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into heads of the reader.” He argued:

“The bombardment of pseudo-realities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly, spurious humans—as fake as the data pressing at them from all sides.

My two topics are really one topic; they unite at this point.

Fake realities will create fake humans.

Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves.

So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans.”

In Dick’s books, the real and the unreal infect each other, so that it becomes increasingly impossible to tell the difference between them.

The worlds of the dead and the living merge in Ubik (1969), the experiences of a disturbed child infect the world around him in Martian Time-Slip (1964), and consensual drug-based hallucinations become the vector for an invasive alien intelligence in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965).

Humans are impersonated by malign androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) and “Second Variety” (1953); by aliens in “The Hanging Stranger” (1953) and “The Father-Thing” (1954); and by mutants in “The Golden Man” (1954).

This concern with unreal worlds and unreal people led to a consequent worry about an increasing difficulty of distinguishing between them.

Factories pump out fake Americana in The Man in the High Castle (1962), mirroring the problem of living in a world that is not, in fact, the real one.

Entrepreneurs build increasingly human-like androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, reasoning that if they do not, then their competitors will.

Figuring out what is real and what is not is not easy.

Scientific tools such as the famous Voight-Kampff test in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (and Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie based loosely on it) do not work very well, leaving us with little more than hope in some mystical force—the I Ching, God in a spray can, a Martian water-witch—to guide us back toward the real.

We live in Dick’s world—but with little hope of divine intervention or invasion.

The world where we communicate and interact at a distance is increasingly filled with algorithms that appear human, but are not—fake people generated by fake realities.

When Ashley Madison, a dating site for people who want to cheat on their spouses, was hacked, it turned out that tens of thousands of the women on the site were fake “fembots” programmed to send millions of chatty messages to male customers, so as to delude them into thinking that they were surrounded by vast numbers of potential sexual partners.

These problems are only likely to get worse as the physical world and the world of information become increasingly interpenetrated in an Internet of (badly functioning) Things.

Many of the aspects of Joe Chip’s future world in Ubik look horrendously dated to modern eyes: the archaic role of women, the assumption that nearly everyone smokes.

Yet the door to Joe’s apartment—which argues with him and refuses to open because he has not paid it the obligatory tip—sounds ominously plausible.

Someone, somewhere, is pitching this as a viable business plan to Y Combinator or the venture capitalists in Menlo Park.

This invasion of the real by the unreal has had consequences for politics.

The hallucinatory realities in Dick’s worlds—the empathetic religion of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the drug-produced worlds of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, the quasi–Tibetan Buddhist death realm of Ubik—are usually experienced by many people, like the television shows of Dick’s America.

But as network television has given way to the Internet, it has become easy for people to create their own idiosyncratic mix of sources.

The imposed media consensus that Dick detested has shattered into a myriad of different realities, each with its own partially shared assumptions and facts. Sometimes this creates tragedy or near-tragedy.

The deluded gunman who stormed into Washington, D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong pizzeria had been convinced by online conspiracy sites that it was the coordinating center for Hillary Clinton’s child–sex trafficking ring [likewise, the masses may have been convinced by mainstream media that a real child-sex trafficking ring never existed].

Such fractured worlds are more vulnerable to invasion by the non-human.

Many Twitter accounts are bots, often with the names and stolen photographs of implausibly beautiful young women, looking to pitch this or that product (one recent academic study found that between 9 and 15 percent of all Twitter accounts are likely fake).

Twitterbots vary in sophistication from automated accounts that do no more than retweet what other bots have said, to sophisticated algorithms deploying so-called “Sybil attacks,” creating fake identities in peer-to-peer networks to invade specific organizations or degrade particular kinds of conversation.

Twitter has failed to become a true mass medium, but remains extraordinarily important to politics, since it is where many politicians, journalists, and other elites turn to get their news.

One research project suggests that around 20 percent of the measurable political discussion around the last presidential election came from bots.

Humans appear to be no better at detecting bots than we are, in Dick’s novel, at detecting replicant androids: people are about as likely to retweet a bot’s message as the message of another human being.

Most notoriously, the current U.S. president recently retweeted a flattering message that appears to have come from a bot densely connected to a network of other bots, which some believe to be controlled by the Russian government and used for propaganda purposes.

In his novels Dick was interested in seeing how people react when their reality starts to break down.

A world in which the real commingles with the fake, so that no one can tell where the one ends and the other begins, is ripe for paranoia.

The most toxic consequence of social media manipulation, whether by the Russian government or others, may have nothing to do with its success as propaganda.

Instead, it is that it sows an existential distrust.

People simply do not know what or who to believe anymore.

Rumors that are spread by Twitterbots merge into other rumors about the ubiquity of Twitterbots, and whether this or that trend is being driven by malign algorithms rather than real human beings.

Such widespread falsehood is especially explosive when combined with our fragmented politics.

Liberals’ favorite term for the right-wing propaganda machine, “fake news,” has been turned back on them by conservatives, who treat conventional news as propaganda, and hence ignore it.

On the obverse, it may be easier for many people on the liberal left to blame Russian propaganda for the last presidential election than to accept that many voters had a very different understanding of America than they do.

Dick had other obsessions—most notably the politics of Richard Nixon and the Cold War.

It is not hard to imagine him writing a novel combining an immature and predatory tycoon (half Arnie Kott, half Jory Miller) who becomes the president of the United States, secret Russian political manipulation, an invasion of empathy-free robotic intelligences masquerading as human beings, and a breakdown in our shared understanding of what is real and what is fake.

These different elements probably would not cohere particularly well, but as in Dick’s best novels, the whole might still work, somehow.

Indeed, it is in the incongruities of Dick’s novels that salvation is to be found (even at his battiest, he retains a sense of humor).

Obviously, it is less easy to see the joke when one is living through it. Dystopias may sometimes be grimly funny—but rarely from the inside.

via Incredible vaccine lies from the Ministry of Truth

Incredible vaccine lies from the Ministry of Truth Feb
By Jon Rappoport 02/18/18 [https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/incredible-vaccine-lies-from-the-ministry-of-truth/] Or[https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3550]

For many years as a reporter covering medical stories, I have taken to task public health agencies, such as WHO and the CDC.

I’m used to their lies.

In that regard, I came across a mind-boggling CDC quote dug up by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, who has done terrific work researching vaccine dangers.

The quote comes from the 6th edition of Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, published by the CDC.

It’s an attempt to squelch debate about the DPaT vaccine, which is given to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

Over the years, much has been written about the severe adverse effects of this combination vaccine—e.g., brain damage, seizures, very high fever, death.

The CDC quote asserts that, generally, there is no definable disease “syndrome” caused by vaccines.

It then makes several more astonishing claims.

“There is no distinct syndrome from vaccine administration, and therefore, many temporally associated adverse events probably represent background illness rather than illness caused by the vaccine…

The DTaP may stimulate or precipitate inevitable symptoms of underlying CNS [Central Nervous System] disorder, such as seizures, infantile spasms, epilepsy or SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome].

By chance alone, some of these cases will seem to be temporally related to DPaT.”

Read the quote several times to absorb the full force of its message.

It reminds me of the attempts to shunt aside deaths caused by AZT, the AIDS drug, which viciously attacks the immune system.

In that case, the doctor or researcher will say, “The patient didn’t die from the effects of AZT.

The destructive action of AIDS, by coincidence, simply speeded up after the drug was given.”

The CDC is claiming the DTaP vaccine stimulates a PRE-EXISTING CONDITION in a baby:

The baby already had a life-threatening central nervous system illness.

The illness was temporarily on hold.

The vaccine brought it to light, and then the baby died.

Suddenly—with no evidence offered—vaccines have this magical ability to cause underlying illness to jump into action.

The vaccine isn’t at fault.

The baby was already on the road to brain damage or death.

I’ve seen some pretty wild excuses offered for vaccine-induced destruction, but this one takes the cake.

Whoever cooked it up should receive some sort of medical prize for Bald-Faced Lying.

Then he can be arrested for contributing to negligent homicide.

Generally speaking, the untested medical assumption is this:

“We know vaccines cause no harm.

Therefore, if a vaccine recipient becomes ill or dies, the cause must reside in the patient.”

In the field of logic, this is called assuming what you are trying to prove.

I have written many times about the 100,000 people who die every year, in the US, as a result of correctly administered FDA-approved medicines.

Perhaps the CDC or the National Institutes of Health could issue a statement blaming all these deaths on underlying, pre-existing illness that was stimulated by these drugs.

Surgical errors could be accounted for in this way, too.

“Yes, we did remove the patient’s testicles while we were doing the appendectomy.

But you see, we knew he had testicular cancer, so we needed to take care of that while we were in the area.

What’s that?

How did we know he had testicular cancer?

Well, we would never remove his testicles by mistake.

Therefore, we must have known we had a legitimate reason to take them off.

Can’t you see that?”

via Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village

Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/02/16/freedom-is-a-myth-we-are-all-prisoners-of-the-police-states-panopticon-village/]
Posted By Luther Blissett By John W. Whitehead: The Rutherford Institute 02/16/18

“We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we’re at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people’s Villages, but we are all prisoners.”— Patrick McGoohan

First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village.

The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

Number Two, the Village administrator, acts as an agent for the unseen and all-powerful Number One, whose identity is not revealed until the final episode.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six meets Number Two, who explains to him that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.

In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks to Number Two.

“I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.”

Still, he refuses to give up.

“Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.

As journalist Scott Thill concludes for Wired, “Rebellion always comes at a price. During the acclaimed run of The Prisoner, Number Six is tortured, battered and even body-snatched: In the episode ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ his mind is transplanted to another man’s body.

Number Six repeatedly escapes The Village only to be returned to it in the end, trapped like an animal, overcome by a restless energy he cannot expend, and betrayed by nearly everyone around him.”

The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”

The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower.

Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.

Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham envisioned the panopticon prison to be a cheaper and more effective means of “obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”

Bentham’s panopticon, in which the prisoners are used as a source of cheap, menial labor, has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Instagram, etc.).

Government eyes are watching you.

They see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government—i.e., the law, or whatever a government official deems the law to be—and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.

When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing.

The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.”

And technology has furthered muddied the waters.

However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors.

It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.

Unfortunately, George Orwell’s 1984—where “you had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized”—has now become our reality.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Stingray devices mounted on police cars to warrantlessly track cell phones, Doppler radar devices that can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, license plate readers that can record up to 1800 license plates per minute, sidewalk and “public space” cameras coupled with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology that lay the groundwork for police “pre-crime” programs, police body cameras that turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras, the internet of things: all of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

As French philosopher Michel Foucault concluded in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, “Visibility is a trap.”

This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.

It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.

As Glenn Greenwald notes:

“The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what [government officials] do: that’s why they’re called public servants.

They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals.

This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed.

Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more.

Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function.

That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end.

No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”

Even now, the Trump Administration is working to make some of the National Security Agency’s vast spying powers permanent.

In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing for Congress to permanently renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows government snoops to warrantlessly comb through and harvest vast quantities of our communications.

And just like that, we’re back in the Village, our escape plans foiled, our future bleak.

Except this is no surprise ending: for those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior, we never stopped being prisoners.

So how do we break out?

For starters, wake up.

Resist the urge to comply.

The struggle to remain “oneself in a society increasingly obsessed with conformity to mass consumerism,” writes Steven Paul Davies, means that superficiality and image trump truth and the individual.

The result is the group mind and the tyranny of mob-think.

Think for yourself.

Be an individual.

As McGoohan commented in 1968:

“At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves… As long as people feel something, that’s the great thing. It’s when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that’s tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”

In a media-dominated age in which the lines between entertainment, politics and news reporting are blurred, it is extremely difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.

We are so bombarded with images, dictates, rules and punishments and stamped with numbers from the day we are born that it is a wonder we ever ponder a concept such as freedom.

As McGoohan declared, “Freedom is a myth.”

In the end, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are all prisoners of our own mind.

In fact, it is in the mind that prisons are created for us.

And in the lockdown of political correctness, it becomes extremely difficult to speak or act individually without being ostracized.

Thus, so often we are forced to retreat inwardly into our minds, a prison without bars from which we cannot escape, and into the world of video games and television and the Internet.

We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World.

As cultural theorist Neil Postman observed:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books.

What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.

Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

Orwell feared we would become a captive audience.

Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture.

Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble-puppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”

In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us.

Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

You want to be free?

Break out of the circle.

via Corporate giant Unilever demands crackdown on oppositional Internet content

Corporate Giant Unilever Demands Crackdown On Oppositional Internet Content
Posted 02/15/18 By Luther Blissett By Will Morrow: WSWS.org [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/02/15/corporate-giant-unilever-demands-crackdown-on-oppositional-internet-content/; https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3541%5D

The drive to censor the Internet took another step this week with a public statement by Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer for the London-based multinational Unilever, threatening to withdraw advertising from social media platforms if they fail to suppress “toxic content.”

Weed reportedly told an annual leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Palm Desert, California that the company “will not invest in platforms or environments” that “create divisions in society, and promote anger or hate.”

He added, “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”

Excerpts of Weed’s remarks—the most explicit of their kind from a major corporate executive—were leaked to several media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian.

They were immediately featured on NBC News and other major American news outlets on Sunday.

The Journal’s report was accompanied by an interview with Weed.

The coordinated release was designed to escalate the propaganda offensive by the Democratic Party and US intelligence agencies, together with the corporate media, for Internet censorship.

The fraudulent premise for this assault on freedom of speech, both in the US and across Europe, is the claim that political opposition and social tensions are the product not of poverty, inequality and policies of austerity and militarism, but of “fake news” spread by Russia through social media.

Weed’s statements preceded yesterday’s US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, which witnessed a series of hysterical denunciations of Russia by politicians and intelligence agents.

The Democratic vice-chairman of the committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, declared that Russia “utilized our social media platforms to push and spread misinformation at an unprecedented scale.”

Facebook responded to Weed’s threats by declaring, “We fully support Unilever’s commitments and are working closely with them.”

The Journal stated that Unilever “has already held discussions” with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon “to share ideas about what each can do to improve.”

Weed absurdly framed his demand for censorship, made on behalf of a multibillion-dollar global corporation, as the expression of popular anger over the supposed spread of “fake news.”

He referred to research showing a decline in trust in social media and a “perceived lack of focus” in the form of “illegal, unethical and extremist behavior and material on” social media platforms.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, he claimed to be articulating the concerns of consumers over “fake news” and “Russians influencing the US election.”

In reality, the intervention by Unilever—a consumer products behemoth with a market capitalization of $157 billion and annual revenues of $65 billion, more than the gross domestic product of many countries—only highlights the economic and political forces driving the censorship campaign: an alliance of the military/intelligence apparatus, giant technology firms and the corporate-financial oligarchy.

Unilever’s annual marketing outlays of nearly $9 billion place it in the top five companies in that category globally.

It owns dozens of brands used by some 2.5 billion people around the world, including Dove soap, Rexona deodorant and food products Cornetto, Magnum and Lipton.

Weed’s statements amount to a declaration that Unilever will use this economic power to filter what the world’s population can and cannot read online.

This is in line with a long and reactionary tradition.

Large advertisers played a significant role in enforcing the McCarthyite witch hunt of socialist and left-wing figures in the US during the late 1940s and 1950s. General Motors, DuPont, Reynolds Tobacco and other major companies were backers of the notorious anticommunist periodical Counterattack, which published names of suspected communist sympathizers and forced the removal of targeted performers and critical content from programs they sponsored.

In one of many such cases, the blacklisted Jean Muir was dropped from the television show “The Aldrich Family” after General Foods, the program’s sponsor, told NBC it would not sponsor programs featuring “controversial persons.”

In another development, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube (owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet), told a Code Media conference in Los Angeles that Facebook “should get back to baby pictures and sharing.”

The statement is a reference to Facebook’s announcement last month that it is deprioritizing news content on its News Feed in favor of “personal moments.”

The change is one of a number of recent measures to prevent Facebook users from accessing news and analysis outside of officially sanctioned corporate outlets.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Tuesday released a government-developed application that uses machine-learning algorithms to automatically detect ISIS-related content in videos so that it can be censored.

The BBC wrote that the tool was seen by the government as a way to demonstrate that its “demand for a clampdown on extremist activity was not unreasonable.”

Rudd stated, “The technology is there. There are tools out there that can do exactly what we’re asking for,” i.e., identifying and censoring video content. The new application will be provided free of charge to smaller video hosting companies, and the government will consider making its use legally mandatory.

The Washington Post, which along with the New York Times has been at the forefront of the censorship campaign, linked the UK government’s announcement to the intervention of Unilever, writing that it came “amid mounting pressure on social media companies to do more to remove extremist content from their platforms.”

via Trilateral conspirators out in the open—and Donald Trump

Trilateral Conspirators Out In The Open-And Donald Trump-An Interview That Will Live In Infamy: https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/trilateral-conspirators-out-in-the-open-and-donald-trump/ And: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3538
By Jon Rappoport 02/13/18

Note: I wrote this article long before Donald Trump appeared on the scene.

Love him, hate him, trust him, don’t trust him, he has spoken against Globalism and for Nationalism.

Those sentiments have taken hold and reverberated across the planet, crossing swords with Elites who are bent on destroying separate nations and ruling one collectivist world from above.

Therefore, whether or not Trump means what he says, he must be taken down.

The genie must be put back in the bottle.

Who is in charge of destroying economies?

One group has been virtually forgotten.

Its influence is enormous.

It has existed since 1973.

It’s called the Trilateral Commission (TC).

Keep in mind that the original stated goal of the TC was to create “a new international economic order.”

In the run-up to his inauguration after the 2008 presidential election, Obama was tutored by the co-founder of the Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

In 1969, four years before birthing the TC with David Rockefeller, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote:

“[The] nation state as a fundamental unit of man’s organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force. International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation state.”

Goodbye, separate nations.

Any doubt on the question of TC goals is answered by David Rockefeller himself, the founder of the TC, in his Memoirs (2003):

“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure—one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”

Patrick Wood, author of Trilaterals Over Washington, points out there are only 87 members of the Trilateral Commission who live in America.

Obama appointed eleven of them to posts in his administration.

For example:
* Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary;
* James Jones, National Security Advisor;
* Paul Volker, Chairman, Economic Recovery Committee;
* Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence.

Here is a stunning piece of forgotten history, a 1978 conversation between a US reporter and two members of the Trilateral Commission. (Source: Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management; ed. by Holly Sklar, 1980, South End Press, Pages 192-3).

The conversation was public knowledge at the time.

Anyone who was anyone in Washington politics, in media, in think-tanks, had access to it.

Understood its meaning.

But no one shouted from the rooftops.

No one used the conversation to force a scandal.

No one protested loudly.

The conversation revealed that the entire basis of the US Constitution had been torpedoed, that the people who were running US national policy (which includes trade treaties) were agents of an elite shadow group.

No question about it.

And yet: official silence.

Media silence.

The Dept. of Justice made no moves, Congress undertook no serious inquiries, and the President, Jimmy Carter, issued no statements.

Carter was himself an agent of the Trilateral Commission in the White House.

He had been plucked from obscurity by David Rockefeller, and through elite TC press connections, vaulted into the spotlight as a pre-eminent choice for the Presidency.

The following 1978 conversation featured reporter, Jeremiah Novak, and two Trilateral Commission members, Karl Kaiser and Richard Cooper.

The interview took up the issue of who exactly, during President Carter’s administration, was formulating US economic and political policy.

The careless and off-hand attitude of Trilateralists Kaiser and Cooper is astonishing. It’s as if they’re saying, “What we’re revealing is already out in the open, it’s too late to do anything about it, why are you so worked up, we’ve already won…”

NOVAK (the reporter): Is it true that a private [Trilateral committee] led by Henry Owen of the US and made up of [Trilateral] representatives of the US, UK, West Germany, Japan, France and the EEC is coordinating the economic and political policies of the Trilateral countries [which would include the US]?

COOPER: Yes, they have met three times.

NOVAK: Yet, in your recent paper you state that this committee should remain informal because to formalize ‘this function might well prove offensive to some of the Trilateral and other countries which do not take part.’ Who are you afraid of?

KAISER: Many countries in Europe would resent the dominant role that West Germany plays at these [Trilateral] meetings.

COOPER: Many people still live in a world of separate nations, and they would resent such coordination [of policy].

NOVAK: But this [Trilateral] committee is essential to your whole policy. How can you keep it a secret or fail to try to get popular support [for its decisions on how Trilateral member nations will conduct their economic and political policies]?

COOPER: Well, I guess it’s the press’ job to publicize it.

NOVAK: Yes, but why doesn’t President Carter come out with it and tell the American people that [US] economic and political power is being coordinated by a [Trilateral] committee made up of Henry Owen and six others? After all, if [US] policy is being made on a multinational level, the people should know.

COOPER: President Carter and Secretary of State Vance have constantly alluded to this in their speeches. [a lie]

KAISER: It just hasn’t become an issue.

This interview slipped under the mainstream media radar, which is to say, it was buried.

US economic and political policy run by a committee of the Trilateral Commission—the Commission had been created in 1973 by David Rockefeller and his sidekick, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

When Carter won the presidential election (1976), his aide, Hamilton Jordan, said that if after the inauguration, Cy Vance and Brzezinski came on board as secretary of state and national security adviser, “We’ve lost. And I’ll quit.”

Lost—because both men were powerful members of the Trilateral Commission and their appointment to key positions would signal a surrender of White House control to the Commission.

Vance and Brzezinski were appointed secretary of state and national security adviser, as Jordan feared.

But he didn’t quit.

He became Carter’s chief of staff.

Now consider the vast propaganda efforts of the past 40 years, on so many levels, to install the idea that all nations and peoples of the world are a single Collective.

From a very high level of political and economic power, this propaganda op has had the objective of grooming the population for a planet that is one coagulated mass, run and managed by one force.

A central engine of that force is the Trilateral Commission.

How does a shadowy group like the TC accomplish its goal?

One basic strategy is: destabilize nations; ruin their economies; send millions and millions of manufacturing jobs off to places where virtual slave labor does the work; adding insult to injury, export the cheap products of those slave-factories back to the nations who lost the jobs and further undercut domestic manufacturers, forcing them to close their doors and fire still more employees.

And then solve that economic chaos by bringing order.

What kind of order?

Eventually, one planet, with national borders erased, under one management system, with a planned global economy, “to restore stability,” “for the good of all, for lasting harmony.”

The top Trilateral players, in 2008, had their man in the White House, another formerly obscure individual like Jimmy Carter: Barack Obama.

They had new trade treaties on the planning table.

After Obama was inaugurated for his first term, he shocked and astonished his own advisors, who expected him, as the first order of business, to address the unemployment issue in America.

He shocked them by ignoring the number-one concern of Americans, and instead decided to opt for his disastrous national health insurance policy—Obamacare.

Obama never had any intention of trying to dig America out of the crash of 2008.

That wasn’t why he was put in the Oval Office.

He could, and would, pretend to bring back the economy, with fudged numbers and distorted standards.

But really and truly, create good-paying jobs for many, many Americans? Not on the TC agenda.

Not in the cards.

It was counter-productive to the TC plan: torpedo the economy further.

Eight years later, along came Trump.

Judge him in any way you want to.

At the very least, he became a symbol for dismantling Globalism.

And that was enough to trigger alarm bells in Elite circles and centers.

And the word went out: destroy Trump by any means necessary.

Put the Trilateral Plan back on track—make the whole world One Nation, and erase the memory of America…

So that, one day, a student will ask his teacher, “What happened to the United States?”

And the teacher will say, “It was a criminal enterprise based on individual freedom. Fortunately, our leaders rescued the people and taught them the superior nature of HARMONY.”

via The mandate to overthrow mainstream news

The Mandate To Overthrow Mainstream News
By Jon Rappoport 0/12/18 https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/the-mandate-to-overthrow-mainstream-news/

Pick just one global issue—vaccination.

There is an elite movement underway to install universal shots for everyone, and the voices of major media are relentless and brutal in demanding this, while attacking those who know something is terribly wrong and harmful in the program.

The media are voices of, yes, anti-science.

They do what they do best—fake it.

On a grand scale.

They are the lunatics, leading generations to their toxic doom.

They are urging humankind over a cliff.

They are the Final Solution to health—as in: destroying it.

Take the issue of expanding the number of shots given in a short period of time.

NO proper studies have been done to assess the safety/danger of injecting children and adults with multiple toxins, such as aluminum, mercury, and formaldehyde.

Any reasonable human would insist that such studies be done, prior to increasing the toxic load on the body.

The media conveniently overlook and ignore this obvious necessity.

At what point does their blindness pass from being depraved indifference to active participation in a universal crime?

We are long past that point.

And still, the media pretend they are “the friends of humanity.”

That attitude has always been the tactic of tyrants.

“Take this poison. It is life-affirming and life-giving.”

That pose is sufficient to warrant a mandate: overthrow mainstream news.

Expose it, gut it, shine a light on its liars and fakers.

Don’t let up.

Don’t give up.

Media leaders and apparatchiks have sold their souls to the vaccine cartel.

They are the faceless bureaucrats of a death machine.

Recognize them for who they are.

Depict them for who they are.

Men and women with blood on their hands.

No amount of posturing and primping and claims of authority will change that.

The media say—“experts at the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization assure us…”

More posturing.

The experts are trained liars.

They are no more qualified to offer advice than monkeys living in trees.

You could say the entire explosion of independent media is based on one insight: why should we believe the so-called experts?

From that flow thousands of discoveries.

In my 35 years of working as a reporter, I’ve seen the faces of mainstream journalists who have left the fold.

I’ve seen those ugly and self-entitled faces riven with decay come back to life.

I’ve seen the deep guilt and grief lift in a new dawn.

I’ve seen those men and women pick up the sword of truth, finally, and turn into heralds of a new era.

You want magic?

This is magic.

This is the turning of the tide.

—No longer playing defense. Instead, going on the attack—

For several of these reporters, the turning point was the 14-year smallpox eradication campaign waged in Africa, with a highly dangerous and destructive vaccine even “the experts” were nervous about.

The experts knew the vaccine, given to people whose immune systems were already compromised, would cause smallpox and death—and they knew many of the 100 million vaccinations in Africa were given to people whose immune systems were, in fact, already teetering on the edge of oblivion.

The reporters also knew that, after the World Health Organization celebrated the eradication of smallpox in Africa, the searing truth came out in a secret meeting in Geneva.

The vaccine must never be used again.

It was causing smallpox.

One reporter told me, “There was no coming back from that. Once I found out what happened, I had to get out of the news business.”

He “went independent.”

Some years ago, a reporter told me no amount of “negative information” would ever convince him to stop defending vaccination.

I wrote to him:

“Someday, up the line, it’s going to hit you like a ton of bricks.

You’re going to listen to the people who really know—the mothers who watch their health happy babies fold up and leave the world after getting a shot.

You’re going to experience something you never thought possible.

And yet, in contrast to the mothers, it will be nothing.

You’ll feel like a fish yanked out of the water and forced to breathe air.

One thing will save you.

The truth.

Pick it up.

Use it…”

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By Jon Jeter 02/02/18 [https://www.mintpressnews.com/its-not-the-dow-stupid-underpaid-workforce-imperils-us-and-global-economies/237090/]  https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3530

Over a period of 40 years, capitalists like Rockefeller, Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have completely rearranged the financial universe — all but eradicating inflation, and radically devaluing work relative to capital.

NEW YORK — “It’s Not a Roar,” read the first-edition headline for the New York Times business article published January 27, “but the Global Economy is Finally Making Noise.”

A death rattle, perhaps?

Try as they may, the mainstream media simply cannot prepare for public viewing the gaping wound to the head that murdered the U.S. economy.

Never mind the Dow, the Fed Funds rate, or Apple’s latest earnings report, the cause of death is really quite simple: work is underpaid.

If we are to raise the economy from the dead, the American worker needs a raise.

For all intents and purposes, when adjustment is made for inflation, workers in the private sector haven’t had a pay increase in nearly 30 years.

That’s not just a problem for wage-earners who find they have too much month left at the end of their paycheck, but for an entire global economy that depends on consumer demand in the U.S.

With our paychecks shrinking, the workforce in the U.S. has resorted to borrowing more and more money — to buy a new car, fix a broken tooth, or finance the kids’ college education — to make up for the loss in buying power. Such forced borrowing, at the interest rates typically charged by lenders, only deepens the consumer cash crunch.

Poor & Getting Poorer

Said Jane, who raises chickens with her husband at their central Texas ranch: “Everyone I know is poor and getting poorer.”

As we struggle to pay down the mountains of credit-card debt, monthly insurance premiums, car loans, or skyrocketing utility bills, we spend less and less on new stuff.

Rosa Luxemburg called this cycle “underconsumption;” more modern economists call it debt deflation.

What it all means is that Laura of New Jersey makes very few new purchases these days.

The monthly premiums on the state exchange she, her husband and two sons enrolled in increased last month from $1,750 to $2,350.

Well actually, that’s not quite true. It would’ve cost that much had she and her husband continued with the same plan but, with college tuition for their second son bearing down on them, they decided to downgrade to a less expensive plan, which costs only $2,000 a month.

And that’s only for catastrophic coverage; they have a $6,000 deductible — and, even when coverage does kick in, it only pays for half their health care costs.

“So we send our kids to the doctor,” Laura told MintPress. But she and her husband “do not go.”

When her oldest son went off to college four years ago, he was fortunate enough to receive scholarships that paid about half of the $50,000 annual bill, leaving Laura and her husband to foot the rest.

Her youngest son starts college in the fall, and they are looking at adding possibly another $60,000 in annual expenses.

“Most of our woes came from the economic crash of 2008,” she said, when her husband lost his job in publishing.

“We just never recovered.”

Only creditors have. Since onerous debts triggered the 2008 meltdown, households, businesses and governments have merely borrowed 43.8 trillion more dollars, Sonja Gibbs, Senior Director of Global Capital Markets for the Institute for International Finance, told MintPress.

Happy Days Are Here Again-For Whom?

The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets have joined President Trump in his State of the Union Speech in cuing up “Happy Days are Here Again” because their high-rolling advertisers and constituents are heavily invested in restoring consumer confidence — if not income levels — and encouraging more shopping sprees to grease the wheels of a dried-up demand economy.

The contradiction is that the mainstream media have consistently been a cheerleader of the very policies that have robbed American consumers of their buying power.

Despite their proclamations to the contrary, the country has never recovered from the financial ruin of 2008 that was triggered by the collapse of an overpriced real estate market.

It is true, as the Obama Administration claimed, that many banks had become “too big to fail,” although he failed to mention that that development was the result of laissez-faire government enforcement of antitrust and anti-monopoly regulations.

But rather than force banks to accept a “haircut” or write down the loans on their balance sheets to help jumpstart consumer spending, Obama’s Treasury department did just the opposite — effectively pouring gasoline on a fire by loaning the banks billions in low-interest loans to re-inflate the asset bubble that popped in 2008.

The result is the best-of-times, worst-of-times quality that characterizes the relationship between the country’s wealthiest 1 percent and everyone else, with stock market indexes — and poverty rates — at or near historic highs.

The Plutocrats Rearrange The Financial Universe

What’s important to note is that the dispossession of workers in the U.S. is a man-made catastrophe, and is the culmination of the plutocrats’ concerted 45-year effort to undo the stagflation crisis of 1973, and, if possible, ensure that it never happened again.

At the heart of the crisis was inflation, caused by pay hikes for the U.S. workforce, that was running as high as nine percent year-over-year at that time.

Workers, generally, don’t mind moderate levels of inflation because they have more cash in their pockets — and indeed, poverty levels in 1973 were at an all-time low.

Conversely, creditors consider inflation a type of financial fraud in which they loan a borrower $100 but get only $95 back.

“It is clear to me,” David Rockefeller wrote in 1971 to his fellow Chase Manhattan board members, “that the entire structure of our society is being challenged.”

As many labor historians — most notably, Kim Phillips-Fein – have documented, today’s savage inequalities are rooted in that epoch when labor unions were strong, factories were humming, oil prices high, and wages were causing inflation to climb.

Over a period of 40 years, capitalists like Rockefeller, Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have completely rearranged the financial universe, all but eradicating inflation, which hasn’t increased by more than 3 percent annually in nearly 30 years.

But, as theorists as diverse as Hegel and Luxemburg have noted, this reversal of fortune is a case of Wall Street biting its nose to spite its face.

As the Marxist economist Richard Wolff notes in describing Hegel’s master-slave dialectic, an employer reflexively moves to pay his workers as little as possible, and yet his prosperity is wholly dependent on workers earning enough money to buy his products and services.

With workers’ buying-power in decline, big business has had to resort to smoke-and-mirrors to generate profits.

Stock prices for companies such as Apple, for example, aren’t skyrocketing because of robust sales, but because the company is borrowing money at low-interest rates to repurchase its own stock and drive up the price.

One Great Economic House Of Cards

In his latest book, The End of Normal, University of Texas Economics Professor James Galbraith — the son of the great Keynesian economist John Kenneth Galbraith — asserts that the 2008 crisis wasn’t just part of a normal macroeconomic cycle but the culmination of a political economy that lost its way beginning in the 1980s. Galbraith told MarketWatch last month:

I think there are really major changes in the structure of the economy going forward.

The share of business investment has been quite low, share of construction has been very low, and that means the economy is being driven increasingly by the consumer.

The consumer is dependent upon the access to debt, auto loans, consumer loans and student loans.

Those things will build up over time until such time as there is a crack and households decide that they no longer wish to access the credit — at which point this phase of the expansion will end.”

It might, in fact, be time to ask the New York Times the question that a reporter for Fortune Magazine, Bethany McClean asked Enron’s Chief Financial Officer in March of 2001.

Suspecting that the now-discredited energy-services firm was cooking its books, McClean — according to the 2005 documentary on Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room — asked the chief financial officer in a telephone call a question he could not answer, setting in motion a chain of events that revealed that the whole enterprise was a house of cards:

“How exactly does Enron make its money?”