Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Visualizing The Stunning Truth About How Students Are Spending Loan Cash

Originally published at zerohedge.com


Over the last 15 years the starting salary for recent college grads has declined about $4000. Unfortunately, as ValueWalk.com details, the amount of student loan debt most students are graduating with has skyrocketed. You can now expect to graduate into a worse job market and with more debt than just a decade ago, which is leading to a serious financial crisis- the average debt load upon graduation is $37,000, and many people can’t even make their minimum payments.
Nearly 60% of student borrowers have no idea when their student loans will be paid off. Over half of borrowers have no idea what their monthly payments will be when they graduate. When you combine these facts with declining wages and rising housing rates, many people will find they just can’t make ends meet.
There are a few things students can do before graduation to ensure they aren’t set up for failure. Find out what your total costs will be and only take out the amount you need- financing a pizza every Friday night for four years can easily turn an expense of $1800 into $2291 when you have to pay interest over time. Try to seek out alternative ways to cover at least a portion of your expenses- a work-study program or part-time job can be a big help!
 
Student loans can never be bankrupted, so it’s important to pay them off as quickly as possible. Make payments while you are still in school on order to minimize your debt load upon graduation, and once you graduate try to make additional principal paymentswhenever possible to help accelerate your payoff schedule. Stay on top of payments and set up automatic payments if necessary so you never miss a payment- penalties can keep you on the hook much longer than you need to be. Learn more about lightening the student loan burden from this infographic!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Stakes for Trump and All of Us

By Paul Craig Roberts and originally published at paulcraigroberts.org  
We need to understand, and so does President Trump, that the hoax “war on terror” was used to transform intelligence agencies, such as the NSA and CIA, and criminal investigative agencies, such as the FBI, into Gestapo secret police agencies. Trump is now threatened by these agencies, because he rejects the neoconservative’s agenda of US world hegemony that supports the gigantic military/security annual budget. 
Our secret police agencies are busy at work planting “intelligence” among the presstitute media that Trump is compromised by “Russian connections” and is a security threat to the United States. The plan is to make a case in the media, as was done against President Nixon, and to force Trump from office. To openly take on a newly elected president is an act of extraordinary audacity that implies enormous confidence, or else desperation, on the part of the police state agencies. 
Here you can see CNN openly cooperating with the CIA in treating wild and irresponsible speculation that Trump is under Russian influence as if it is an established fact. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46476.htm 
The “evidence” provided by CNN and the CIA is a “report” by the New York Times that, with little doubt, was planted in the NYT by the CIA. 
This is so obvious that it is clear that CNN and the CIA regard the American people as so gullible as to be completely stupid. 
Glenn Greenwald explains to Amy Goodman that the CIA is after Trump, because Trump’s announced policy of reducing the dangerous tensions with Russia conflicts with the military/security complex’s need for a major enemy.
“The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.
“And you go—this is not just about Russia. You go all the way back to the campaign, and what you saw was that leading members of the intelligence community, including Mike Morell, who was the acting CIA chief under President Obama, and Michael Hayden, who ran both the CIA and the NSA under George W. Bush, were very outspoken supporters of Hillary Clinton. In fact, Michael Morell went to The New York Times, and Michael Hayden went to The Washington Post, during the campaign to praise Hillary Clinton and to say that Donald Trump had become a recruit of Russia. The CIA and the intelligence community were vehemently in support of Clinton and vehemently opposed to Trump, from the beginning. And the reason was, was because they liked Hillary Clinton’s policies better than they liked Donald Trump’s. One of the main priorities of the CIA for the last five years has been a proxy war in Syria, designed to achieve regime change with the Assad regime. Hillary Clinton was not only for that, she was critical of Obama for not allowing it to go further, and wanted to impose a no-fly zone in Syria and confront the Russians. Donald Trump took exactly the opposite view. He said we shouldn’t care who rules Syria; we should allow the Russians, and even help the Russians, kill ISIS and al-Qaeda and other people in Syria. So, Trump’s agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted. Clinton’s was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they’ve been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him. There’s claims that they’re withholding information from him, on the grounds that they don’t think he should have it and can be trusted with it. They are empowering themselves to enact policy.
“Now, I happen to think that the Trump presidency is extremely dangerous. You just listed off in your news—in your newscast that led the show, many reasons. They want to dismantle the environment. They want to eliminate the safety net. They want to empower billionaires. They want to enact bigoted policies against Muslims and immigrants and so many others. And it is important to resist them. And there are lots of really great ways to resist them, such as getting courts to restrain them, citizen activism and, most important of all, having the Democratic Party engage in self-critique to ask itself how it can be a more effective political force in the United States after it has collapsed on all levels. That isn’t what this resistance is now doing. What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, the CIA, with its histories of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup, where they take the elected president and prevent him from enacting his policies. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that. Even if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving. But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it. And yet that’s what so many, not just neocons, but the neocons’ allies in the Democratic Party, are now urging and cheering. And it’s incredibly warped and dangerous to watch them do that.”  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46476.htm 
The United States is now in the extraordinary situation that the liberal/progressive/left is allied with the deep state against democracy. The liberal/progressive/left are lobbying for the impeachment of a president who has committed no impeachable offense. The neoconservatives have stated their preference for a deep state coup against democracy. The media obliges with a constant barrage of lies, innuendos and disinformation. The insouciant American public sits there sucking its thumb.
What can Trump do? He can clean out the intelligence agencies and terminate their license granted by Bush and Obama to conduct unconstitutional activities. He can use anti-trust to breakup the media conglomerates that Clinton allowed to form. If Bush and Obama can on their own authority subject US citizens to indefinite detention without due process and if Obama can murder suspect US citizens without due process of law, Trump can use anti-trust law to break up the media conglomerates that speak with one voice against him. 
At this point Trump has no alternative but to fight. He can take down the secret police agencies and the presstitute media conglomerates, or they will take him down. Dismissing Flynn was the worse thing to do. He should have kept Flynn and fired the “leakers” who are actively using disinformation against him. The NSA would have to know who the leakers are. Trump should clean out the corrupt NSA management and install officials who will identify the leakers. Then Trump should prosecute the leakers to the full extent of the law.
No president can survive secret police agencies determined to destroy him. If Trump’s advisers don’t know this, Trump desperately needs new advisers.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Who Rules the United States?

By  and originally published at freebeacon.com  
Donald Trump was elected president last November by winning 306 electoral votes. He pledged to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C., to overturn the system of politics that had left the nation's capital and major financial and tech centers flourishing but large swaths of the country mired in stagnation and decay. "What truly matters," he said in his Inaugural Address, "is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people."
Is it? By any historical and constitutional standard, "the people" elected Donald Trump and endorsed his program of nation-state populist reform. Yet over the last few weeks America has been in the throes of an unprecedented revolt. Not of the people against the government—that happened last year—but of the government against the people. What this says about the state of American democracy, and what it portends for the future, is incredibly disturbing.
There is, of course, the case of Michael Flynn. He made a lot of enemies inside the government during his career, suffice it to say. And when he exposed himself as vulnerable those enemies pounced. But consider the means: anonymous and possibly illegal leaks of private conversations. Yes, the conversation in question was with a foreign national. And no one doubts we spy on ambassadors. But we aren't supposed to spy on Americans without probable cause. And we most certainly are not supposed to disclose the results of our spying in the pages of the Washington Postbecause it suits a partisan or personal agenda.
Here was a case of current and former national security officials using their position, their sources, and their methods to crush a political enemy. And no one but supporters of the president seems to be disturbed. Why? Because we are meant to believe that the mysterious, elusive, nefarious, and to date unproven connection between Donald Trump and the Kremlin is more important than the norms of intelligence and the decisions of the voters.
But why should we believe that? And who elected these officials to make this judgment for us?
Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year's election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump's nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.
How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and antidemocratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. "I can't think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this," a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured.
Opposition to this president takes many forms. Senate Democrats have slowed confirmations to the most sluggish pace since George Washington. Much of the New York and Beltway media does really function as a sort of opposition party, to the degree that reporters celebrated the sacking of Flynn as a partisan victory for journalism. Discontent manifests itself in direct actions such as the Women's March.
But here's the difference. Legislative roadblocks, adversarial journalists, and public marches are typical of a constitutional democracy. They are spelled out in our founding documents: the Senate and its rules, and the rights to speech, a free press, and assembly. Where in those documents is it written that regulators have the right not to be questioned, opposed, overturned, or indeed fired, that intelligence analysts can just call up David Ignatius and spill the beans whenever they feel like it?
The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution—its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.
The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the "least dangerous branch," now presume to think they know more about America's national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.
For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended. The two systems are now in competition. And the contest is all the more vicious and frightening because more than offices are at stake. This fight is not about policy. It is about wealth, status, the privileges of an exclusive class.
"In our time, as in [Andrew] Jackson's, the ruling classes claim a monopoly not just on the economy and society but also on the legitimate authority to regulate and restrain it, and even on the language in which such matters are discussed," writes Christopher Caldwell in a brilliant essay in the Winter 2016/17 Claremont Review of Books.
Elites have full-spectrum dominance of a whole semiotic system. What has just happened in American politics is outside the system of meanings elites usually rely upon. Mike Pence's neighbors on Tennyson street not only cannot accept their election loss; they cannot fathom it. They are reaching for their old prerogatives in much the way that recent amputees are said to feel an urge to scratch itches on limbs that are no longer there. Their instincts tell them to disbelieve what they rationally know. Their arguments have focused not on the new administration's policies or its competence but on its very legitimacy.
Donald Trump did not cause the divergence between government of, by, and for the people and government, of, by, and for the residents of Cleveland Park and Arlington and Montgomery and Fairfax counties. But he did exacerbate it. He forced the winners of the global economy and the members of the D.C. establishment to reckon with the fact that they are resented, envied, opposed, and despised by about half the country. But this recognition did not humble the entrenched incumbents of the administrative state. It radicalized them to the point where they are readily accepting, even cheering on, the existence of a "deep state" beyond the control of the people and elected officials.
Who rules the United States? The simple and terrible answer is we do not know. But we are about to find out.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Truth on Its Head

By Jill Carattini and originally published at rzim.org
G.K. Chesterton took the word “prolific” to a level that, as a writer, simply makes me feel tired. In his lifetime, Chesterton authored over one hundred books and contributed to two hundred others. He penned hundreds of poems, five plays, five novels, and some two hundred short stories, including the popular Father Brown detective series. He wrote over four thousand newspaper essays, including thirty years worth of weekly columns for The Illustrated London News, and thirteen years of weekly columns for The Daily News. He also edited his own newspaper, G.K.’s Weekly.
As one can easily imagine after such an inventory, G.K. Chesterton was always writing—wherever he found himself, and with whatever he could find to write on. So, in the tearoom he scribbled on napkins. On the train, in front of a bank teller, or in the middle of a lecture, he was known to jot hurriedly in a notebook, or even on the cuff of his sleeve.
Chesterton’s eccentric approach to writing, in fact, matched his eccentric approach to life in general. His public image was one out of a Shakespearean comedy. If he were not recognized in the streets of London by the flowing black cape and the wide brimmed top hat he always wore, he was given away instantly by the clamoring of the swordstick he always carried—for nothing more than the romantic notion that he might one day find himself caught up in some adventure where defending himself might become necessary.

Caricature of Chesterton by Max Beerbohm.
He rarely knew, from hour to hour, where he was or where he was supposed to be, what appointment he was to be keeping, or lecture he was to be giving. The story is often told of the time he telegraphed his wife with the note, “Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” His faithful wife, Frances, wired back, “Home,” knowing it would be most promising for all involved if she could physically point him in the right direction. Chesterton seemed to live out one of his own clever paradoxes: “One can sometimes do good by being the right person in the wrong place.”
In fact, paradox, in more ways than one, is an ample word for G.K. Chesterton. It was one of his favorite things to point out, stir up, and call to mind. He described paradox as “truth standing on its head to gain attention,” and often evoked such jestering truisms throughout his dialog. With declarations bizarre enough to escape defensive mindsets, but with a substance that could blow holes in fortresses of skepticism, G.K. Chesterton, as absentminded as he may have appeared to be, challenged the world to think. With humility, wonder, and genius, Chesterton taught us, in the words of Father Brown, that often it isn’t that we can’t see the solution; it’s that we can’t see the problem in the first place.
In his disarming manner, such that even his opponents regarded him with affection, Chesterton exposed the inconsistencies of the modern mindset, the unfounded and unnoticed dogmatism of the unbeliever, and the misguided guidance of the cults of comfort and progress. He marveled that religious liberty now meant that we were no longer allowed to mention the subject, and that “there are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.” To the convicted agnostic he said, “We don’t know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.” To the social Darwinist he said, “It is absurd for the Evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into everything.”
And to anyone who would listen, Chesterton devotedly pled the case for Christ: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
To everyone his life affected, and continues to affect, G.K. Chesterton, with and without words, made a boisterous point about delighting in life to the fullest; life that is fullest, first and foremost, because there is someone to thank for making it full. He writes:
You say grace before meals. 
All right. 
But I say grace before the play and the opera, 
And grace before the concert and the pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing; 
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
Chesterton was a man alive with the gusto of resurrection, the marvel of truth, and the thankful foresight of a coming King among us.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump Destroys Very Fake News, NSA Leaks on Trump the Real Story, Fed Scared to Death



By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com
The mainstream media (MSM) is in an absolute frenzy over the resignation of Michael Flynn, who was the top national security advisor for the Trump Administration. President Trump says Flynn was forced out because of illegal leaks.  In a press conference, Trump told the national media that it was “dishonest” and that CNN’s new name is now “very fake news” instead of simply “fake news.”  Trump also said the MSM is “full of hatred” and is biased against him and his administration.  Former U.N. Ambassador Michael Bolton says the left is “engaging in collective hysteria because it cannot make substantive arguments” against Trump and his new policies.
Wiki Leaks is charging that Trumps National Security advisor resigned after a “destabilizing campaign by U.S. spies, Democrats and the press.” Trump said the “real story is illegal leaks.” Former Democrat Congressman Dennis Kucinich issued a warning about the leaks and the power of the so-called “deep state,” or secret government. Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch, echoed those concerns.  Klayman got an injunction in federal court against the NSA for illegal data collection.  Now, Klayman says the leaks within the Trump Administration by the intelligence services are an “outrage beyond imagination and must be stopped.”  He also says the “intel agencies are more powerful than the President,” and illegally collected data and phone calls can be used to “blackmail people.”
Gregory Mannarino of TradersChoice.net says the Fed is “scared out of its mind” that people will crash the bond market with a massive selloff. Fed Head Janet Yellen says “economic growth is . . . weak and disappointing,” and yet she is still pushing the ideal of a needed rate hike.  Meanwhile, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard recently said there is no need to raise rates, at least through 2017.  There are record highs on all stock indexes, and the Fed is not celebrating.  Is the Fed keeping a lid on interest rates to prop up the bond market while letting the stock market explode?  Mannarino says yes, and it will all end badly.  We just don’t know exactly when it will end.
Join Greg Hunter as he looks at these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.
(There is much more in the video newscast.)

Friday, February 17, 2017

This Is One Of The Big Reasons Why So Many Families Are Feeling Extreme Financial Stress


By Michael Snyder and originally published at theeconomiccollapseblog.com
When the cost of living rises faster than paychecks do year after year, eventually that becomes a very big problem.  For quite some time I have been writing about the shrinking middle class, and one of the biggest culprits is inflation.  Every month, tens of millions of American families struggle to pay the bills, and most of them don’t even understand the economic forces that are putting so much pressure on them.  The United States never had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation until the debt-based Federal Reserve system was introduced in 1913.  Since that time, we have had non-stop inflation and the U.S. dollar has lost more than 98 percent of its value.  If our paychecks were increasing faster than inflation this wouldn’t be a problem, but in recent years this has definitely not been the case for most Americans.
And unfortunately inflation is starting to accelerate once again.  In fact, it is being reported that inflation rose at the fastest pace in four years in January…
The prices Americans pay for goods and services surged in January by the largest amount in four years, mostly reflecting a rebound in the cost of gasoline that’s taking a bigger chunk out of household incomes.
The consumer price index, or cost of living, rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in January, the government said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, our incomes have been incredibly stagnant.   In fact, we just learned that median household income did not go up at all during 2016.
This is one of the reasons why we consistently see families fall out of the middle class month after month.  Even if you keep the same job year after year, your standard of living is going to steadily go down unless your pay goes up.
The things that we all spend money on month after month just keep going up in price.  I am talking about food, housing, medical care and other essentials.  If there is one thing that we can always count on, it is the fact that things are going to cost more tomorrow than they do today.
Let’s talk about food for a moment.  Whenever I go to the grocery store, I am almost always shocked.  I still remember a time when I could get everything that I needed for an entire week for about 20 bucks, but these days you can’t even fill up one cart for 100 dollars.
That is because food prices have been rising aggressively for many years.  The following is a list that was posted on The Economic Policy Journal that shows how much some food and grocery items have increased over the past decade…
1. Tobacco and smoking products
-Price increase: 90.4%
2. Margarine
-Price increase: 63.6%
3. Uncooked ground beef
-Price increase: 46.3%
4. Shelf stable fish and seafood
-Price increase: 45.0%
5. Prescription drugs
-Price increase: 43.5%
6. Rice, pasta, cornmeal
-Price increase: 40.3%
7. Bread
-Price increase: 38.9%
8. Snacks
-Price increase: 38.4%
9. Miscellaneous poultry including turkey
-Price increase: 37.0%
10. Apples
-Price increase: 36.6%
11. Frankfurters
-Price increase: 35.8%
12. Canned vegetables
-Price increase: 35.3%
13. Salt and other seasonings and spices
-Price increase: 34.0%
14. Miscellaneous fats and oils including peanut butter
-Price increase: 34.0%
15. Miscellaneous processed fruits and vegetables including dried
-Price increase: 33.7%
16. Bacon and related products
-Price increase: 33.2%
17. Fresh whole chicken
-Price increase: 32.5%
18. Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies
-Price increase: 32.1%
19. Flour and prepared flour mixes
-Price increase: 32.1%
20. Canned fruits
-Price increase: 32.0%
And thanks to out of control government spending and reckless manipulation by the Federal Reserve, we have come to a time when inflation is starting to accelerate once again.
According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if honest numbers were being used the government would be telling us that inflation is rising at a 6 percent annual rate for the first time since 2011.
At the same time, evidence is mounting that U.S. consumers are simply tapped out.  Previously, I have explained that interest rates are going up, consumer bankruptcies are rising, and lending standards for consumers are really tightening up.
All of those are things we would expect to see if a new recession was starting.
And today we learned that the number of Americans refinancing their homes has fallen to the lowest level that we have seen since 2009
A slowdown in refinancing pulled down the total mortgage application volume last week as changes to certain government-loan programs made refinances less lucrative. Refinance volume now stands at its lowest level since June 2009.
If you will remember, we also saw a slowdown in mortgage refinancing just before the great financial crisis of 2008.
For mortgage applications overall, they are now down almost 31 percent from where they were a year ago…
Total mortgage application volume fell 3.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis last week from the previous week, and are nearly 31 percent lower than the same week a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
A 31 percent decline in a single year is catastrophic.
If this continues, it won’t be too long before everyone is talking about a new housing crash.
And we also learned this week that FHA mortgage delinquencies increased during the fourth quarter “for the first time since 2006″
Federal Housing Administration mortgage delinquencies jumped in the fourth quarter for the first time since 2006, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday. The FHA insures low down-payment loans and is a favorite among first-time homebuyers.
The seasonally adjusted FHA delinquency rate increased to 9.02 percent in the fourth quarter from 8.3 percent in the third quarter, MBA data show.
So many things are happening right now that we have not seen happen in many years, but most people are choosing not to see the red flags that are popping up all around us.
None of our long-term economic problems have been fixed.  And even though Donald Trump won the election, the truth is that our economy is in the worst shape it has been since the last financial crisis.  I continue to encourage all of my readers to get prepared for very hard times, but just like back in 2007 we are experiencing a wave of tremendous optimism right now and most people think that the party can somehow continue indefinitely.
Whether Donald Trump won the election or not, the truth is that a major economic downturn was going to come anyway.  You see, Donald Trump is not some magician that can just wave a wand and somehow make the consequences of decades of very foolish decisions instantly disappear.
We have been on the biggest debt binge in human history, and there is going to be a great price to pay when this immense debt bubble finally bursts.
Unfortunately, most people are not going to acknowledge the truth until it is too late.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Globalist Long Game - Redefine Liberty Activism As Evil "Populism"

By Brandon Smith and originally published at alt-market.com
One of the most favored propaganda tactics of establishment elites and the useful idiots they employ in Marxist and cultural-Marxist circles is to relabel or redefine an opponent before they can solidly define themselves.  In other words, elites and Marxists will seek to “brand” you (just as corporations use branding) in the minds of the masses so that they can take away your ability to define yourself as anything else.
Think of it this way: Say you want to launch an organization called “Movement Blue,” and you and others have gone through great struggle to grow this organization from the ground up.  However, just as your movement is about to achieve widespread recognition, someone else comes along, someone with extensive capital and media influence, and they saturate every outlet with the narrative that your movement is actually more like “Movement Red,” and that Movement Red is a terrible, no-good, bad idea.  They do such a good job, in fact, that millions and millions of people start calling you “Movement Red” without even knowing why, and they begin to believe all the negative associations that this label entails.
Through the art of negative branding, your enemy has stolen your most precious asset — the ability to present yourself to the public as you really are.
Negative branding is a form of psychological inoculation.  It is designed to close people’s minds to particular ideas before they actually hear those ideas presented by a true proponent of the ideas.  But beyond that, negative branding can also be used to trick groups and movements into abandoning their original identity.
For example, the concept of economic freedom for individuals –the freedom from overt government interference or government favoritism for certain people over others, the freedom to compete with ideas and ingenuity to build a better business and a better product, the freedom to retain the fruits of one’s labor — used to be widely referred to as “free markets”, as defined by Adam Smith.  The very basis of free market philosophy was to remove obstruction and economic oppression from the common man in order to inspire a renaissance in innovation and prosperity.  The problem is, you rarely hear anyone but libertarians talk about traditional "free markets" anymore.
Though Karl Marx did not coin the term “capitalism,” he and his followers (and editors) are indeed guilty of the pejorative version now used.  It has always been Marxist propagandists who have sought to redefine the idea of “free markets” in a negative way, and the use of the term capitalism is how they did it.  They have been so effective in their efforts that today even some free market proponents instead refer to themselves as “capitalists.”
While “free markets” denote freedom of the common man to pursue a better life through productivity and intelligence and merit, “capitalism” denotes a monstrous and blind pursuit of wealth and power without moral regard.  One gives the impression of fairness, the other gives the impression of tyranny.
Is there even such an animal as “capitalism?”  I can’t really say.  What I do know is that the system we have today, a hybrid mutation of corporatism and socialism, is certainly NOT a free market system if we are to follow the true definition and the original intent.  Yet, whenever cultural and economic Marxists attack the notion of economic freedom, they use the system we have now as an example of the failures of “free market capitalism.”
This is the magic of negative branding, and it is used in every facet of social life and geopolitics.
Now, before I get into the term “populist,” I recognize that people opposed to my position will immediately spring into a tirade about how liberty and sovereignty champions brand those against our ideals “in the exact same way.”  This is not quite true, though.
When we refer to “globalists” in a negative manner, we are taking a pre-existing label, something that they often call themselves, and pointing out that their philosophy is flawed and highly destructive based on historical evidence and verifiable facts.  We are not seeking to redefine them as anything other than what they already are.  We are merely exposing to the public what they OPENLY promote and believe and then offer our side and our evidence as to why their beliefs are wrong.
This is not what they do to us.  Instead, globalists and their cronies prefer that the public does not get to hear our views directly from us.  They rarely, if ever, actually use our publications as a source for their attacks on our principles.  They would much rather tell the public what we are and what we believe before they are ever exposed to us.  This is why you will often find that many participants in protest groups at events held by anti-globalists like Ben Shapiro or Milo Yiannopoulos have never actually seen or heard a single speech by the men in question.  They have no idea what we really stand for.  In fact, they protest our speakers, groups and movements based on what they were told we stand for by other biased sources.
This brings us to “populism.”
There has been a deep and concerted propaganda campaign taking place against liberty activists, sovereignty champions, anti-globalists, anti-SJW groups, and conservatives in general.  I noticed this particular campaign accelerating at the beginning of 2016, and it was the primary reason why I chose to take a hard stance on my predictions for Brexit passage and a Trump election win.  The propaganda narrative could be summarized as follows:
Since early 2016 (according to globalists and the mainstream publications featuring their opinions), there has been a rising tide of nationalists and “populists” in western nations.  This sudden surge in “populism” is inexorably tied to the Brexit movement and the support for candidates like Donald Trump.  Populism will overrun the existing “stability” of globalism and cause severe economic crisis in numerous countries.  It finds its roots in the “less educated” portions of the population, as well as in older generations that think they have something to lose if globalism succeeds.  It is also driven by an “irrational fear” of economic change, global interdependence and multiculturalism.  Populists are predominantly naive and desperate for “strongmen” leaders to fight for them.  Some of them are motivated by self interest, while others are motivated by racism.
You can see these sentiments expressed bluntly in numerous mainstream media outlets.  The Guardian has no qualms about linking the Brexit to “racism” and populism, for example.  The Washington Post also has had no problem linking the Tea Party and Trump supporters to racism and populism as well.
Beyond the paper-thin accusations of racism, the general thrust of the negative branding is clear; if you are against globalism (or elitism) and its major tenets, then you are a “populist.”  This is reiterated in recent articles from Bloomberg and The Guardian.
But in such publications, the most egregious argument is the one that is not directly made.  The insinuation is that “populism” is not just defined by a fear of corruption through organized elitism, but that this fear is UNFOUNDED.  Meaning, anyone who argues against the mechanizations of globalists, for instance, is not only redefined as a “populist,” but he/she is also, essentially, ignorant or insane.  See how that works?
The populist label is often used to describe a political movement built on the cult of personality, a sycophantic love affair with a celebrity dictator that tends to have ulterior motives.  Thus, the philosophical underpinnings of that particular movement are further eroded because they don’t even know why they are doing what they are doing; they are only playing a foolish game of follow the leader.
So, to recap, according to the establishment and their “press,” conservatives and sovereignty activists are actually “populists.” Our concerns over uncontrolled immigration and open borders are not based on rationalism and historic evidence of social and economic instability as well as the highly evidenced threats of terrorism; they are based on “xenophobia.”
Our concerns over the increasing fiscal weakness generated by the economic interdependence of globalism and our lack of self reliance are not based on math and logic, but our “lack of understanding” on how interdependence makes everything better.
Our concerns over rampant organized elitism and the corruption this entails are not based on numerous concrete examples, not to mention exposed documentation and the words of elitists themselves; they are based on a “fantasy world” of “tinfoil hatters” who just make stuff up while consuming heaping helpings of "fake news".
If this is the case, then I suppose I should fasten my own tinfoil hat tightly and note that this narrative is part of an ongoing long-game by globalists.  They are not attempting to achieve the demonization of conservatives and sovereignty advocates today or tomorrow.  This is about preparing the public for a near future, perhaps five to 10 years from now, after they have sufficiently sabotaged the global economy and scapegoated us for the crisis this will cause.
Not possible, you say?  By all means, read my article 'The False Economic Recovery Narrative Will Die In 2017' for further explanation.  If we are not careful, we will be redefined not just by establishment propaganda, but by a global calamity that will be gift wrapped with our name on it and tied around our collective necks.
In the meantime, how do we fight back against this disinformation campaign?
One factor that a “populist movement” generally does not have is the ability to remain self-critical.  Populism, at least according to the mainstream media, requires a mentality of mass blind faith in a cause that is misunderstood or a leader that is dishonest.  The liberty movement and conservative groups still have some members who are not afraid to point out when we are going astray in our logic or our actions.
We have not been silenced by our own peers, yet.  Given enough crisis, it is hard to say how people will react.  A major terrorist attack, an economic panic, a war; these kinds of rip-tides can inspire a lot of intolerance for contrary views.  We are not there at this point, and as long as members of our movement are able to retain a critical eye, we will never be “populists.”
Another method is to refrain from adopting the “branding” that the establishment tries to use against us.  Beware of anyone within our groups and organizations who begins referring to himself or us as “populists” as if this is a label of which we should be proud.
In the long run, people with ill intent will call us whatever they want to call us.  The real issue is, will those labels stick?  Will we help them to stick by losing our composure and acting the way the propagandists always said we would?
Negative branding is about burning a hole in the historical record, because memes last far longer than people.  In 100 years, how will we be remembered?  This is what the globalists value most — future impressions of today by generations not yet born.  Because wars are not just fought in one moment over one piece of ground or over one idea; they are fought in ALLmoments, for days not yet passed, for the posterity of all ideas, even those not yet thought of.  If we do not fight back with this in mind, winning will be impossible.