Tuesday, October 17, 2017
By David Stockman and originally published at davidstockmanscontracorner.com
Yesterday we identified a permanent fiscal crisis as one of the quadruple witching forces arising in October 2017 which will shatter the global financial bubble. Today the Donald is on the cusp of making the crisis dramatically worse by decertifying the Iranian nuke deal, thereby reinforcing another false narrative that enables the $1 trillion Warfare State to continue bleeding the nation's fiscal solvency.
In a word, the whole notion that Iran is a national security threat and state sponsor of terrorism is just as bogus as the Russian meddling story or the claim that the chain of events resulting from the coup d' etat fostered by Washington on the streets of Kiev in February 2014 is evidence of Russian expansionism and aggression.
Likewise, it's part of the same tissue of lies which led to Washington's massive, destructive and counterproductive interventions in Syria and Libya -- when neither regime posed an iota of threat to the safety and security of the American homeland.
To the contrary, all of these false narratives are the cover stories which justify the Warfare State's massive draw on the nation's broken finances. We will get to the Big Lie about Iran momentarily, but first it is useful to demonstrate just how enormously excessive the nation's defense budget actually is, and why the denizens of the Imperial City---especially the neocon ideologues----find it necessary to peddle such threadbare untruths.
Spoiler alert: Iran has actually never attacked a single foreign nation in modern history whereas Washington has chosen to unilaterally intervene in or arm virtually every surrounding country in the region.
Here's some historical context that dramatizes our point about Washington's hideously excessive spending on defense. Back in 1962 on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US defense budget was $52 billion, which would amount to $340 billion in today's (2017$) purchasing power.
Needless to say, the world came to the brink of nuclear Armageddon at a time when the Soviet Union was at the peak of its power and was armed to the teeth. In addition to thousands of nuclear warheads deliverable by missiles and bombers, it had 50,000 tanks facing NATO and nearly 4 million men under arms.
The now open Soviet archives, of course, show that the Soviets had far more bark than bite and never conceived of attacking the US or even western Europe; they didn't remotely have the wherewithal or the strategic nerve.
Nevertheless, by 1962 false moves and provocations by both sides had created a state of "cold war" that was real. Yet even then, the $340 billion military budget was more than adequate to deter the Soviet threat. Nor is that our view as an armchair historian.
The 1962 defense budget was essentially President Dwight D. Eisenhower's budget, and it is one that he had drastically slashed from the $500 billion (in today's dollars) he had inherited from Truman at the end of the Korean War.
That is to say, the greatest general who ever led American forces had concluded that $340 billion was enough. And that came as he left office warning about just the opposite----the danger that the military/industrial complex would gain inordinate political power and pursue foreign policies which required ever larger military spending.
Unlike standard cold warriors, Ike believed that the ultimate national security resource of America was a healthy capitalist economy and that excessive government debt was deeply inimical to that outcome.
That's why he balanced the Federal budget three times during his tenure and presided over a fiscal consolidation---thanks to sharply reduced defense spending---that generated an average deficit of hardly 1 percent of GDP. That's an outcome scarcely imaginable at all in the present world.
Even then, the Soviet empire with all the captive republics that have become independent nations since 1991 (e.g. Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan etc.) had a GDP in 1960 that was estimated to be 50 percent the size of the US. So Ike's bet was that capitalist growth over time was the ultimate source of national strength; that a healthy domestic economy would eventually leave the centralized command-and-control Soviet economy in the dust; and that ultimately the Kremlin's brand of statist socialism and militarism would fail.
He was right. Russia today is a shadow of what Ronald Reagan called the Evil Empire. Its GDP of $1.3 trillion is smaller than that of the New York metro area ($1.6 trillion) and only 7 percent of total US GDP.
Moreover, unlike the militarized Soviet economy which devoted upwards of 40 of output to defense, the current Russian defense budget of $60 billion is just 4.5 percent of its vastly shrunken GDP.
So how in the world did the national security apparatus convince the Donald that we need the $700 billion defense program for FY 2018----12X bigger than Russia's---- that he just signed into law?
What we mean, of course, is how do you explain that---- beyond the fact that the Donald knows virtually nothing about national security policy and history; and, to boot, is surrounded by generals who have spent a lifetime scouring the earth for enemies and threats to repel and reasons for more weapons and bigger forces.
The real answer, however, is both simple and consequential. To wit, the entire prosperity and modus operandi of the Imperial City is based on a panoply of "threats" that are vastly exaggerated or even purely invented; they retain their currency by virtue of endless repetition in the groupthink that passes for analysis. We'd actually put it in the category of cocktail party chatter.
For crying out loud. Why is Russia considered a threat to the American homeland when it doesn't even have a blue water navy or any other basis to project offensive power to the North American continent?
Indeed, its "attack" fleet consists of a single, 40-year old smoke-belching aircraft carrier that could never get out of the Mediterranean bathtub ringed by overwhelming US forces.
Beyond conventional offensive power there is the non-power of its 1500 or so deployable nuclear warheads. Whatever you may think of Vlad Putin's kleptomania and hard-edged suppression of internal dissent, he is surely the "Cool Hand Luke" of the modern world. Do you think he would be rash or suicidal enough to threaten the US with nuclear weapons?
Or for that matter that Russia with its pipsqueak $1.3 trillion GDP and limited military capacity actually intends to invade and occupy Europe, which has a GDP of $17 trillion and sufficient military force---even without the US----to make such a project unthinkable
Likewise, so what if the Chinese want to waste money building sand castles (i.e. man-made islands with military uses)in the South China Sea. It's their backyard---just as the Gulf of Mexico is ours.
Besides, the great Red Ponzi is utterly dependent upon exporting $2 trillion per years of goods to the US, Western Europe, Japan, South Korea etc. Without those markets its massively leveraged, speculation-ridden, malinvested bubble economy would collapse in 6 months or less. So does anyone really think that the PLA (People Liberation Army) will be bombing 4,000 Wal-Marts in America any time soon?
The truth is, the US defense budget is hideously oversized for a reason so obvious that it constitutes the ultimate elephant in the room. No matter how you slice it, there just are no real big industrialized, high tech countries in the world which can threaten the American homeland or even have the slightest intention of doing so.
Indeed, to continue with our historical benchmarks, the American homeland has not been so immune to foreign military threat since WW II. Yet during all those years of true peril, it never spent close too the Donald's $700 billion boondoggle.
For instance, during the height of LBJs Vietnam folly (1968) defense spending in today's dollars was about $400 billion. And even at the top of Reagan's utterly unnecessary military building up (by the 1980s the Soviet Union was collapsing under the weight of its own socialist dystopia), total US defense spending was just $550 billion.
That gets us to the bogus Iranian threat. It originated in the early 1990s when the neocon's in the George HW Bush Administration realized that with the cold war's end, the Warfare State was in grave danger of massive demobilization like the US had done after every war until 1945.
So among many other invented two-bit threats, the Iranian regime was demonized in order to keep the Imperial City in thrall to its purported national security threat and in support of the vast global armada of military forces, bases and occupations needed to contain it (including the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf and US bases throughout the region).
The truth, however, is that according to the 2008 NIE ( National Intelligence Estimates) of the nation's 17 intelligence agency, the Iranian's never had a serious nuclear weapons program, and the small research effort that they did have was disbanded by orders of the Ayatollah Khamenei in 2003.
Likewise, what the Imperial City claims to be state sponsored terror is actually nothing more than Iran's foreign policy---something that every sovereign state on the planet is permitted to have.
Thus, as the leader of the minority Shiite schism of the Islamic world, Iran has made political and confessional allliances with various Shiite regimes in the region. These include the one that Washington actually installed in Bagdad; the Alawite/Shitte regime in Syria; the largest political party and representative of 40 percent of the population in Lebanon(Hezbollah); and the Houthi/Shitte of Yemen, who historically occupied the northern parts of the country and are now under savage attack by American weapons supplied to Saud Arabia.
In the case of both Syria and Iraq, their respective governments invited Iranian help, which is also their prerogative as sovereign nations. Ironically, it was the Shiite Crescent alliance of Iran/Assad/Hezbollah that bears much of the credit for defeating ISIS on the ground in Mosul, Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and elsewhere in the now largely defunct Islamic State.
In tomorrow's installment we will address the details of the Iran nuke agreement and why the Donald is making a horrible mistake in proposing to decertify it. But there should be no doubt about the consequence: It will reinforce the neocon dominance of the Republican party and insure that the nation's $1 trillion Warfare State remains fully entrenched.
Needless to say, that will also insure that the America's gathering fiscal crisis will turn into an outright Fiscal Calamity in the years just ahead.
Monday, October 16, 2017
Sunday, October 15, 2017
By Nathan Rittenhouse and originally published at rzim.org
When was the last time that you saw the Milky Way? We live on a planet that has a stellar view of the night sky. Our historical records show us that from our earliest drawings and writings humans have been gazing into the infinite expanse above our heads and pondering our own significance. Even though we all should be able to peer into the depths above us, there is actually a good chance that you have not clearly seen the night sky for quite some time. There are reasons for this. The first is that many people live in places that have enough smog to block our view of anything beyond what we have made. The second reason is that most of our time is spent bent forward consuming digital material on our devices rather than leaning back to enjoy the grandeur that transcends us. The third and final reason is the problem of proximity. The reason that most of us do not have a clear view of the stars is light pollution. We simply cannot see into the heavens because of all of the light that is constantly around us. Very few of us are ever in total darkness because there is always a light somewhere nearby or in our pocket.
This is all a bit silly. Just think, there are thousands of visible stars above my head that are incomprehensibly bright, and yet, I cannot see them because of a streetlamp 18 feet above my head that is a negligible fraction of a single star’s brilliance. There is a world of untold splendor twinkling above my head that the ancients stared into for years, and yet I can’t see the reflection of this beauty in my hand because of the dim glow of my phone. My inability to see this beauty is not a problem with the brilliance of their lights; rather it is the problem of my proximity to lesser lights.
The greater lights do not impose. They beckon our attention from a distance, but that means that they are often pushed to the margins of my thoughts by the little lights of life. This is light pollution.
We wouldn’t blame the indiscernibility of the greater lights on their distance. That would also be silly. It is actually a great blessing to live at a great distance from a star. If we were much closer to our nearest star, the sun, we would burn up in its all-consuming fire. I like to look at the sun, but never want to travel to there. It would cause too much pain.
People often ask, “Why isn’t God more obvious?” It could be smog. It could be sin. It could be that the byproducts of the brokenness we have produced in this world block our view of anything beyond what we have made. It could be that most of our time is spent bent forward distracting ourselves with the problems of our day rather than leaning back to ponder if there is a Grand One who transcends us and solves problems. It could be the problem of proximity. The majesty of an all-powerful God shines forth in creation and in our hearts but fades out in the little lights of items that beckon us to worship them.
This is all a bit silly. Just think, there is an all-powerful God that is the foundation of love and loves eternally, and yet I cannot see this God because of little loves in my proximity which function at a negligible fraction of divine love. There is an all-knowing eternal God that desires for me to know Him as God, but I cannot grasp it and so God seems distant because God isn’t provable within my definition of knowledge.
The Eternal Light, the one that specializes in creating order out of chaos, does not impose immediately. God calls for our unforced attention, but God’s voice is often pushed to the margins of my thoughts by the chaos of my life. This is light pollution.
It is actually a great short-term blessing to live at a great distance from a Holy God. If we were much closer, we would likely burn up in the all-consuming light of God’s holiness. I like to look at God, but I hesitate to want to be with God. It would cause too much pain. And yet, it seems that I was both made to “be with” and to want to “be known.” The problem of proximity is twofold. I cannot see clearly when I’m only close to little lights and I cannot live if I am too close to a big light. For me to truly live, either God must come to me in a form that I can handle, or God must do something to me to enable me to withstand his presence. It could be both. After all, “that which our hands have touched” also said, “I am the light of the world.”
Nathan Rittenhouse is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Friday, October 13, 2017
Thursday, October 12, 2017
By Daisy Luther and originally published at The Organic Prepper
"The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ~ George Orwell
A few years back, I was doing some research about the aftermath of some natural disasters that took place here in America. I was shocked to find that the articles I was looking for – ones that I had read in the past – were pretty hard to find, but articles refuting the sought-for pieces were rampant. Not just one event, but every single crisis aftermath that I looked up, had articles that were written after the fact stating in no uncertain terms that the hunger, chaos, and unrest never happened.
Apparently we, the preparedness community, are all wrong when it comes to the belief that after a disaster, chaos erupts and civic disorder is the rule of the day. That is only a disaster myth, and the public narrative belies it all.
Listen to the “experts” and they will confirm, it never happens.
Panic? What panic?
According to newspaper articles written after Superstorm Sandy devastated the East Coast and after Hurricane Katrina caused countless billions in damage in New Orleans, people were calm, benevolent and peaceful. Heck, they were all standing around singing Kumbayah around a campfire, sharing their canned goods, calming frightened puppies, and helping the elderly.
Apparently, studies prove that the fear of anarchy, lawlessness, and chaos is nothing but the “disaster myth”. Reams of examples exist of the goodness and warmth of society as a whole after disaster strikes. All the stories you read at the time were just that – stories, according to the mainstream media:
Yet there are a few examples stubbornly fixed in the popular imagination of people reacting to a natural disaster by becoming primal and vicious. Remember the gangs “marauding” through New Orleans, raping and even cannibalizing people in the Super-Dome after Hurricane Katrina? It turns out they didn’t exist. Years of journalistic investigations showed them to be racist fantasies. They didn’t happen. Yes, there was some “looting” — which consisted of starving people breaking into closed and abandoned shops for food. Of course human beings can behave atrociously – but the aftermath of a disaster seems to be the time when it is least likely. (source)
Looting? Only hungry people getting food from unmanned stores. Who wouldn’t do that?
Beatings and assaults? Didn’t happen. Disturbed people made these stories up for attention.
Gang rapes? No way. You watch too much Law and Order: SVU.
Murder, mayhem, and gangs of youth on the streets? Silly readers – we just made that up.
The Disaster Myth is a narrative created by the establishment and delivered by their stoolies in the mainstream media. The Disaster Myth points fingers at many of the things that are commonly believed to be true by the preparedness community. Included in this narrative:
- People do not panic after a disaster – instead, they pull together.
- The official government response is always speedy and appropriate – unless you are a person of color, in which case you will be denied assistance based on your race, because racism is the current agenda
- You will be taken care of if you simply comply peacefully with authorities.
- There is little increase in post-disaster crime.
These statements all stand in direct opposition to the stories we hear from news sources during the crisis. We heard terrible stories from eyewitnesses who suffered from hunger, thirst, and unsanitary condition in the Superdome after Katrina. We heard about citizens being robbed of their 2nd Amendment rights by police after the crisis, and we heard about gang rapes, looting, and mayhem. Fast forward to Sandy where people were defecating in the hallways of their high rise apartments and digging through garbage to find food just a few days after the storm. As for the official response, who can forget the FEMA shelter that closed because of inclement weather? Of course, the weather was inclement – it was a freaking weather-related disaster!
Mac Slavo of SHTFplan wrote of the unrest, discomfort, and mayhem after Superstorm Sandy ransacked the East Coast:
For tens of thousands of east coast residents that worst case scenario is now playing out in real-time. No longer are images of starving people waiting for government handouts restricted to just the third-world.In the midst of crisis, once civilized societies will very rapidly descend into chaos when essential infrastructure systems collapse.Though the National Guard was deployed before the storm even hit, there is simply no way for the government to coordinate a response requiring millions of servings of food, water and medical suppliesMany east coast residents who failed to evacuate or prepare reserve supplies ahead of the storm are being forced to fend for themselves.Frustration and anger have taken hold, as residents have no means of acquiring food or gas and thousands of trucks across the region remain stuck in limbo.Limited electricity has made it possible for some to share their experiences:Via Twitter:
- I was in chaos tonite tryin to get groceries…lines for shuttle buses, only to get to the no food left & closing early (link)
- I’m not sure what has shocked me more, all the communities around me destroyed, or the 5 hour lines for gas and food. (link)
- Haven’t slept or ate well in a few days. Hope things start getting better around here soon (link)
- These days a lot of people are impatient because they’re used to fast things. Fast food, fast internet, fast lines and fast shipping etc. (link)
- Glad Obama is off to Vegas after his 90 minute visit. Gas lines are miles long.. Running out of food and water. Great Job (link)
- Went to the Grocery store and lines were crazy but nail salon was empty so I’ve got a new gel manicure and some Korean junk food (link)
- So f*cking devastated right now. Smell burning houses. People fighting for food. Pitch darkness. I may spend the night in rockaway to help (link)
At the time of the event, even the mainstream reported on the affluent East Side residents dumpster diving in search of food. Was this NBC report, complete with video, a work of salacious fiction?
As far as civil unrest is concerned, the Twittersphere was jammed with people planning looting sprees in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Those who were already of criminal leanings saw the disaster as a great opportunity. In the great North American Edit, however, these tweets are said to be part of the myth – apparently, they were just kids playing around. Some reports pooh-poohed the very idea that looters had run amok.
This article from Prison Planet refutes all of the refuting and says that the civil unrest DID occur and that it generally does, given evidence from past events.
Legends from the past? Every single extreme weather event in recent years in the United States has been followed by looting.As MSNBC reported at the time, looting during Hurricane Katrina was so prevalent that it “took place in full view of police and National Guard troops.”Residents described the scenes as being like “downtown Baghdad” as looters filled garbage cans full of stolen goods and floated them down flooded streets.As Forbes’ Erik Kain points out, “looting and rioting…occur after most natural disasters,” including after Hurricane Irene as well as Hurricane Isaac.Looters also targeted victims of the Colorado wildfires earlier this year.
Does this sound familiar?
This revision of inconvenient history will sound quite familiar to anyone who has read George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984 (which was not meant to be an instruction manual, by the way.) In the novel, the main character, Winston Smith, worked for the Ministry of Truth, which was actually a department of propaganda whose job it was to rewrite any faction of history that did not make the government look omniscient.
In George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Ministry of Truthis Oceania’s propaganda ministry. It is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events. The word truth in the title Ministry of Truth should warn, by definition, that the “minister” will self-serve its own “truth”; the title implies the willful fooling of posterity using “historical” archives to show “in fact” what “really” happened. As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak, in which, for example, truth is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants.The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite history to change the facts to fit Party doctrine for propaganda effect. For example, if Big Brother makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, the employees of the Ministry of Truth go back and rewrite the prediction so that any prediction Big Brother previously made is accurate. This is the “how” of the Ministry of Truth’s existence. Within the novel, Orwell elaborates that the deeper reason for its existence is to maintain the illusion that the Party is absolute. It cannot ever seem to change its mind (if, for instance, they perform one of their constant changes regarding enemies during war) or make a mistake (firing an official or making a grossly misjudged supply prediction), for that would imply weakness and to maintain power the Party must seem eternally right and strong. (source)
We are watching narratives being created in front of our very eyes with the Vegas massacre. Every time something terrible happens, there’s a spin and that spin a) keeps us in the dark. b) encourages us to be dependent, and c) benefits someone.
So why the vast effort to expunge tales of mayhem and to make it seem like our own national disasters really weren’t that bad? There are a few reasons, like pandering to an audience that wants to be blissfully unaware, but primarily, it’s about control.
Those who live a self-sufficient lifestyle are a threat to the status quo that those in power would like to see. If you don’t NEED them, then there is no leverage to force you into compliance. You don’t NEED to go to Camp FEMA in order to have 3 squares a day. You don’t NEED to give up your guns in order to have a roof over your head and government supplied security. You don’t NEED to get some kind of chip implanted in your arm to be scanned in order to receive “benefits” like medical care, food, and even money.
Self-sufficiency means freedom. When you can feed yourself, clothe yourself, shelter yourself, and protect yourself, you are far less likely to need to cede your freedoms in order to stay alive. And in a police state that is frantically trying to withdraw our constitutional rights, this just won’t do. They need leverage.
So the establishment has created a narrative that tells us what we are doing is silly and unnecessary. They are rewriting history even though we only lived that history in the past decade. Even though we know the truth of the matter because we watched it live, they are changing the facts to make us doubt our own perceptions. They are catering to the people who have no interest whatsoever in taking care of themselves.
This narrative was created to make a society of anti-preppers – of people who believe that all will be right with the world, the government is kind and benevolent, potential disasters aren’t really that big of a deal, and those crazy preppers are stark raving lunatics. They want us to be perceived as extremists so that others are less likely to follow our examples. If they need a crazy bad guy at whom to point the finger, all they have to do is call someone a “Doomsday Prepper”. (Remember how poor Nancy Lanza was vilified after the Sandy Hook shooting?)
If this civil unrest is not occurring, why is the National Guard called to keep the peace? Why are state police riding around on tanks wearing body armor? Why were the guns of law-abiding citizens taken away in the aftermath of Katrina?
Which version of reality are you going to believe? The one that you actually witnessed or the perverted rewrite that the mainstream media is trying to push upon you?
Remember the things happening right now.
We have recently been hit with disaster after disaster in the United States. The aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit the mainland amidst stories of looters and people standing armed to protect homes and businesses. In the Carribean, lawlessness was rampant, and after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the danger from armed people robbing those who still had some supplies was constant. As I write this, there are uncontrolled wildfires tearing through California wine country, and looters are striking the homes of evacuees.
Of course, we are seeing reports of this now, but later will these stories be “debunked” by “experts” like the stories from Katrina and Sandy?
It’s entirely likely because most people would prefer to live smug in the belief that the police are only seconds away, their neighborhoods are immune to looters and vandals, and that America is a place of exceptional order and civilization. It comforts them to believe these things. They use it as ammunition so they can scoff at “doomsday” preppers and call them “conspiracy theorists.”
But we know differently, and today, bloggers and alternative media are also documenting these stories before history is erased. I have watched for years as supplemental links in stories I have written have disappeared. I have witnessed the changing narratives, and if you’re reading this, you probably have too.
So, don’t be discouraged in your efforts when you read all the “good news” stories that inevitably show up after a disaster. To be sure, there are some wonderful people out there helping their neighbors, but there is also a dark side that the media prefers to ignore.
You saw it when it was happening. You know the truth, even if the disaster myth narrative would have you believe otherwise.