Friday, September 22, 2017

Civilizational Disaster - By Jørn K. Baltzersen

225 years ago, September 21, 1792, the French revolutionaries proclaimed France a “republic.” It is what is known historically as the French “First Republic.” A monarchy over nine centuries old was simply scrapped.
The modern man likes to think of this as progress. It is what freed the French from the tyranny of the monarchy; it is what gave the French their rights; and subsequently it freed the rest of the West as well.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn tells us otherwise:
One shouldn’t forget that much of what may appear positive to us today – liberality, intellectuality, humanitarianism – had all been already brought to us by the liberal, courtly absolutism, while the French Revolution which used all these words in reality did nothing more than brutally extinguish them.
We certainly are subject to a conveying of history that makes us look a bit too mildly upon the French Revolution. And that is putting it very diplomatically.
The French Revolution has given much inspiration to later tyrannies, especially the extreme totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, a century Murray Rothbard once called for the repeal of. Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s book Leftism Revisited is helpful in elaborating exactly this inspiration.
Lew Rockwell asks: Democracy u2013 The Go...Hans-Hermann HoppeBest Price: $33.10Buy New $38.29(as of 06:40 EDT - Details)https://www.lewrockwell.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/amazon-ad-link-lr/img/buy-from-tan.gif
Is it too much to say that since the French Revolution, the left has been the source of virtually all political evils, and continues to be so in our day?
Now we’re here in 2017. We have an American president who praises the Bastille Day celebrations of the French Revolution and its military parades. He now even apparently wants to bring that part of the French Revolution to America, a tradition that dates back only to after the monarchy restorations of the 19th century.
The same president also has threatened to strike a neighbor country of the only country in the world that has ever been stricken with nuclear weapons with total annihilation.
And we are supposed to think that this is the best of all worlds; the best we can do?
Ah yes, it’s just the wrong guy in the White House. If it only were that well! If only!
If you’re still convinced modern democracy is good or you need debating ammunition to convince others it’s not, there are quite a few sources, of which a selection is in the following.
We have H.L. Mencken and some collected witty material in Notes on Democracy. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, while not considered directly opposed to democracy, has some great insights on the perils of democracy. Notes on DemocracyH.L. MenckenBest Price: $19.99Buy New $295.60(as of 08:04 EDT - Details)https://www.lewrockwell.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/amazon-ad-link-lr/img/buy-from-tan.gif
W.E.H. Lecky was an Irish Member of Parliament in Westminster. He wrote Democracy and Liberty at the end of the 19th century. He even claimed that the American Revolution was caused by Parliament assuming too much power from the King.
Then we have the aforementioned Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, whose main work on promoting monarchy over democracy is Liberty or Equality. He also tackles the issue in articles and in Leftism Revisitedand other works.
Nicholas Henshall challenges the standard view of absolute monarchy in The Myth of Absolutism, in which he specifically clears up a misunderstanding of the phrase absolute monarchy, showing us that France was not as centralized in the person of the King, nor in Versailles or Paris, as we typically believe. Frenchman Bertrand de Jouvenel has a similar perspective of monarchy and state power in On Power and in Sovereignty.
The Rise and Decline of the State by Martin van Creveld also offers a good overview and details in how government has grown, amongst other things, showing us that the government’s control of the money system is connected with the depersonalization of government power.
Bionic Mosquito has done a good job as well in bringing enlightening posts on the growth of government power, decline of Western Civilization, and democracy from time to time. Myth of Absolutism, TheNicholas HenshallBest Price: $9.08Buy New $139.26(as of 08:04 EDT - Details)https://www.lewrockwell.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/amazon-ad-link-lr/img/buy-from-tan.gif
But perhaps the best statement on the transition from monarchy to democracy is from Hans-Hermann Hoppe, author of Democracy – The God That Failedwhen he says:
From the vantage point of elementary economic theory and in light of historical evidence, then, a revisionist view of modern history results. The Whig theory of history, according to which mankind marches continually forward toward ever higher levels of progress, is incorrect. From the viewpoint of those who prefer less exploitation over more and who value farsightedness and individual responsibility above shortsightedness and irresponsibility, the historic transition from monarchy to democracy represents not progress but civilizational decline.
Hoppe is also known for saying that democracy is a soft variant of Communism, and that democracy rarely in the history of ideas has been seen as anything else.
The French Revolution, roughly speaking, marked the beginning of the transition from monarchy to democracy, a transition which, again roughly, was ended by World War I. There are some shining starts left, notably Liechtenstein and Monaco.
But remember when Donald Trump wants to bring Bastille Day military parades to America, the French Revolution is nothing to be proud of.
J.K. Baltzersen [send him mail] writes from the capital of the Oil Kingdom of Norway. He is the editor of the book Grunnlov og frihet: turtelduer eller erkefiender? (in Norwegian and Swedish; translated titleConstitution and Liberty: Lovebirds or Archenemies?), with Cato Institute’s Johan Norberg amongst the contributors. Follow him on Twitter.

Previous article by Jørn K. Baltzersen: A Day of Betrayal


After Its Caliphate Fails - By Thierry Meyssan

While the Syrian Arab Army, the Russian aviation and Hezbollah are preparing to finish off Daesh, the Pentagon is planning a new war against Syria, this time with Kurdish troops. Just as the mission of the Caliphate was to create a Sunnistan straddling Iraq and Syria, so the mission of « Rojava » is to create a Kurdistan straddling the two states, as the Pentagon has been publicly stating for the last four years.
JPEG - 34.1 kb
This map was published by Robin Wright nine months before the offensive by Daesh into Iraq and Syria. According to this Pentagon researcher, it rectifies the map published in 2005 by Ralf Peters for the reshaping of the Greater Middle East.
According to US grand strategy, as defined by Admiral Cebrowski in 2001, and published in 2004 by his assistant Thomas Barnett, all of the Greater Middle East must be destroyed except for Israël, Jordan and Lebanon.
Consequently, the imminent victory against Daesh will change nothing of the Pentagon’s intentions.
President Trump is against the manipulation of the jihadists. He has stopped the financial and military support that his country was giving them, and has managed to convince Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to do the same. He has modified NATO policies in the matter. However, nothing yet hints as to whether or not he will also oppose the Pentagon’s grand strategy. As far as the US Interior is concerned, the whole of Congress is in league against him, and he has no possibility of preventing a procedure for destitution other than negotiating with the Democratic Party.
Donald Trump has composed his administration of ex-senior civil servants from the Obama administration, a number of opportunistic politicians, many improvised representatives, and very very few trustworthy personalities.
His special representative against Daesh, Brett McGurk, is an ex-collaborator of President Obama and is supposed to serve Trump’s new policy. On 18 August, he organised a meeting with the tribal leaders to « fight Daesh ». However, the photographs he published attest to the fact that, on the contrary, several of Daesh’s leaders also participated in the meeting.
In the same vein, helicopters of the US Special Forces exfiltrated two European leaders of Daesh and their families from the outskirts of Deiz ez-Zor, before they could be taken prisoner by the Syrian Arab Army on 26 August. Two days later, they also exfiltrated about twenty more Daesh officers.
Everything looks as though the Pentagon were storing away its jihadist structure and conserving it for other operations elsewhere. Simultaneously, it is preparing a new episode against Syria with a new army, which, this time, will be composed around Kurdish forces.
This war, like the war against the Caliphate, was announced four years ago in the New York Times, by Robin Wright, a researcher at the US Institute of Peace (equivalent to the NED for the Pentagon). It also planned to divide the Yemen into two states, potentially shared between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi – and finally, last but not least, to dismember Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the « Rojava » project corresponds to Israëli strategy, which, since the end of the 1990’s and the development of missiles, is no longer concentrated on controlling its border regions (the Sinaï, the Golan and South Lebanon), but on taking its neighbours from behind (hence the creation of South Sudan and eventually, Greater Kurdistan).
The recruiting drive for European soldiers for the « Rojava » project has only just begun. A priori, it could assemble as many combatants as there were for the jihad, insofar as the members of the anarchist groups which provide manpower are as numerous in Europe as common law prisoners.
Indeed, the jihadist network began in French prisons before becoming a generalised « crusade ». It is probable that the recruitment within the anarchist movement will also spread as the conflict goes on. Washington, London, Paris and Berlin, who organised this recruitment, planned in the long term. I use the word « crusade » deliberately, because these wars in the Middle Ages, like the one we have just experienced, were, in fact, European imperialist operations against the people of the Greater Middle East. It is just as grotesque to claim that there is a link between the message of Christ and the crusades as to claim a link between the Prophet and jihadism. In both cases, the commanders were « Westerners » [1], and these conflicts exclusively served Western imperialism. The successive crusades bled across two centuries, and the majority of Christians in the Levant fought alongside their Muslim compatriots against the invaders.
Not long ago, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, publicly declared that President Assad « did not deserve to be on Earth », and confirmed that the jihadists were doing a « good job ». Many young people answered his call by joining Al-Nusra (Al-Qaïda), then Daesh. Today, the French ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, publicly announced that France would support the creation of the state which would include Iraqi Kurdistan and the corridor to the Mediterranean via Syria. A few young Europeans have already answered this call, and many others will follow.
Today, as in 2011-12, the Western Press has taken the side of this new anti-Syrian army, supported by their governments. It will never question the treachery of Abdullah Öcalan, who renounced Marxist-Leninism for anarchy. It will repeat that Kurdistan has already been recognised by the Sèvres Conference, in 1920, but it will avoid looking at the documents which specify its boundaries. It will believe it to be legitimate in Iraq and Syria, although it is currently situated in Turkey. It will ignore the fact that the frontiers, in fact, correspond to nothing other than the plans developed by the Pentagon.
The referendum for the independence of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan and the territories annexed with the help of Daesh will launch the beginning of this operation, on 25 September. As in 2014, it will be intended to simultaneously destroy Iraq and Syria, this time without creating a « Sunnistan » from Rakka to Mossul, but a « Kurdistan », on a territory linking Erbil and Kirkuk to the Mediterranean.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/09/thierry-meyssan/after-the-caliphate-rojava/

Trump, We Hardly Knew Ye - By Donald Jeffries

It was probably pretty naive to ever suspect that a billionaire reality television star could actually be any kind of populist. Before his 2016 presidential campaign, I felt the same way about Donald Trump that I feel about every billionaire, and was repelled by his sleazy, arrogant public persona.
But candidate Trump said some things that no other presidential candidate ever has. He criticized the embarrassing state of our crumbling infrastructure. He called out the media for its blatant dishonesty, and made the term “fake news” a national sensation. He was the first politician since before World War II to declare that we should take care of America’s many problems first. He lambasted a foreign policy bent on nation building and lamented the waste of trillions of dollars on senseless wars.
Trump became the first presidential candidate in any party, major or minor, to make illegal immigration one of the centerpieces of his platform. He spoke out on behalf of families who’d lost loved ones to illegal immigrant criminals that were somehow permitted to remain in this country despite a slew of violent crimes. He promised to end the diabolical H 1-B Visa worker program. Creating a masterful symbol for crowds to rally around, Trump promised to build a wall, and that Mexico would pay for it.
Trump brought up the clear and obvious connections between vaccines and autism, and stories broke early into his administration that he was forming a special commission to investigate these connections, chaired by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He even promised to audit the Federal Reserve, and apparently mentioned the collapse of Building 7, which was a primary signal to those in the know that he harbored at least some “truther” sentiments.
What really appealed to me, and many others, was Trump’s willingness to boldly call out corrupt public officials for what they are. His references to “crooked Hillary” resulted in loud cries of “lock her up” wherever he spoke. And perhaps the central theme of Trump’s campaign was his promise to “drain the swamp.” Survival of the Riches...Donald JeffriesBest Price: $16.07Buy New $14.67(as of 02:53 EDT - Details)https://www.lewrockwell.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/amazon-ad-link-lr/img/buy-from-tan.gif
Now, some ten months after his shocking election, President Trump appears to be a pathetic shell of the man he was. His waffling on every issue finally forced his supporters to recently begin burning their “Make America Great” hats in protest of his seeming consideration of amnesty for Obama’s unconstitutional DACA program, designed to protect the “dreamer” children of illegal immigrants.
I certainly was skeptical about Trump even after he said some of the most radical things any major presidential candidate has said in my lifetime. This was because, in the next breath, he’d talk about instituting national “stop and frisk” procedures, and continued to stress how we needed to build up our already gargantuan, bloated military. When he picked a typical mainstream neocon, Mike Pence, as his vice president, many of us could still rationalize that he was trying to shore up a wing of his party, much as John F. Kennedy had tried to do by choosing Lyndon Johnson.
When Trump gave a rousing, truly historical inaugural address, many of us remained hopeful that perhaps finally someone was going to drain this odious, corrupt swamp. But then he disappointed all those supporters still shouting “lock her up” by calling Hillary Clinton a “good person,” and actually quieting those who continued to chant this mantra with “we don’t need that now.” Not long after that, the man who’d derided “globalism” over and over again, claimed that he was now both a nationalist and a globalist.
From there, things just kept unraveling. Trump, who’d blasted NATO, now claimed that it was a good thing. The candidate who’d dared to point out the bogus nature of official unemployment figures, began to brag about them and claimed they revealed that his administration was creating a multitude of new jobs. His appointments were putrid, neocon types that would have fit perfectly into a Jeb Bush cabinet, except for General Mike Flynn, who was unceremoniously and unfairly forced out before he could do anything, because his son was a high profile “conspiracy theorist.”
Trump opened the door for his justice department to prosecute Julian Assange, the courageous whistleblower in exile, whose leaks had played an instrumental part in getting him elected. He defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ antiquated and politically stupid emphasis on cracking down on marijuana users, and supported his campaign to actually strengthen law enforcement’s criminal abuse of asset forfeiture laws. Later, he would characteristically begin publicly criticizing Sessions, as if he himself hadn’t approved of all his actions and non-actions.
Because of the undeniable fact that Trump surrounded himself with not only those who hadn’t supported him, but actually a large number of vocal “Never Trumpers,” his promise to “drain the swamp” became truly laughable. Trump never even tried to get a single outsider nominated to any position in his cabinet. Instead, he remained glued to his keyboard, as the tweeter-in-chief, producing one 140 character or less tweet after another, often in an astonishingly juvenile manner.
But the greatest disappointment came when Trump bombed Syria for absolutely no reason at all. He then bombed Afghanistan for good measure, again for no logical reason. Spurred on by his Never Trump United Nations Ambassador, the loud war monger Nikki Haley, he began an unprecedented bit of frightening saber rattling with North Korea. Never before had an American president directly threatened to nuke another nation. Predictably, when Trump bombed Syria, he received the first positive press of his presidency. Everyone in the swamp loves war.
Trump has unfortunately proven to be exactly what his detractors claimed he was; immature, egotistical, unprincipled, vain, elitist. This certainly doesn’t make most of his critics any less offensive than they are. Indeed, that is the lone redeeming value of Trump’s administration; he continues to have all the right enemies. The threats of violence, even assassination, from every pillar of the establishment almost make one want to continue to defend him. Almost.
At this point, the only question I have left in my mind is whether or not Trump ever had any sincerity, or whether he ever meant anything he said during his campaign. I think it’s virtually a certainty that we will never see that vaccine-autism commission, an audit of the fed, a massive infrastructure rebuild, an end to DACA or any other aspect of our mindless immigration policy, an end to our reckless foreign adventurism, or a draining of even the shallowest part of the swamp.
The saddest part of the Trump phenomenon is that it may very well make it impossible for any major candidate to ever raise the important issues of immigration, dishonest media, putting America first, or official corruption ever again. In fact, when some candidate even alludes to some of Trump’s populist themes, he or she is likely to be met with derisive comparisons to the failed and disgraced President Donald Trump.
If Trump was ever sincere, his election has proven that one person simply cannot fight this corrupt system, this horrid swamp. Trump the reformer, the unlikeliest of knights in shining armor, is gone. The renegade billionaire striking fear into the heart of the establishment lasted a brief shining moment, like Camelot.
Donald Jeffries [send him mail] is the author of the best seller "Hidden History: An Expose of Modern Crimes, Conspiracies, and Cover-Ups in American Politics," published in November 2014 by Skyhorse Publishing. Author of the 2007 sci-fi/fantasy novel "The Unreals," which has been described as a cross between The Wizard of Oz and The Twilight Zone, and compared to A Confederacy of Dunces and classic Russian literature. A second edition of "The Unreals" was published in February 2015 by Pocol Press. Long time JFK assassination researcher. Marketing more fiction and nonfiction, including a book about bullying and the social hierarchy, and a book about the Natalee Holloway case. His latest book is Survival of the Richest.
Copyright © 2017 Donald Jeffries
Previous article by Donald Jeffries: Reading Regime History Books Makes You Dumber


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Household Wealth Hits A Record $96.2 Trillion... There Is Just One Catch | Zero Hedge

In the Fed's latest Flow of Funds report, today the Fed released the latest snapshot of the US "household" sector as of June 30, 2017. What it revealed is that with $111.4 trillion in assets and a modest $15.2 trillion in liabilities, the net worth of US households rose to a new all time high of $96.2 trillion, up $1.7 trillion as a result of an estimated $564 billion increase in real estate values, but mostly $1.23 trillion increase in various stock-market linked financial assets like corporate equities, mutual and pension funds, and deposits as the market soared to new all time highs thanks to some $2 trillion in central bank liquidity injections this year.
Total household assets in Q2 rose $1.8 trillion to $111.4 trillion, while at the same time, total liabilities, i.e., household borrowings, rose by only $15 billion from $15.1 trillion to $15.2 trillion, the bulk of which was $9.9 trillion in home mortgages.
The breakdown of the total household balance sheet as of Q2 is shown below.
And the historical change of the US household balance sheet.
And while it would be great news if wealth across all of America had indeed risen as much as the chart above shows, the reality is that there is a big catch: as shown previouslyvirtually all of the net worth, and associated increase thereof, has only benefited a handful of the wealthiest Americans.
As a reminder, from the CBO's latest Trends in Family Wealth analysis published last year, here is a breakdown of the above chart by wealth group, which sadly shows how the "average" American wealth is anything but.
While the breakdown has not caught up with the latest data, it provides an indicative snapshot of who benefits. Here is how the CBO recently explained the wealth is distributed:
  • In 2013, families in the top 10 percent of the wealth distribution held 76 percent of all family wealth, families in the 51st to the 90th percentiles held 23 percent, and those in the bottom half of the distribution held 1 percent.
  • Average wealth was about $4 million for families in the top 10 percent of the wealth distribution, $316,000 for families in the 51st to 90th percentiles, and $36,000 for families in the 26th to 50th percentiles. On average, families at or below the 25th percentile were $13,000 in debt.
In other words, roughly 75% of the $1.8 trillion increase in assets went to benefit just 10% of the population, who also account for roughly 76% of America's financial net worth.
It also means that just 10% of the US population is worth $73 trillion, while half of the US population was worth just ~$9.6 trillion.
Even worse, when looking at how wealth distribution changed from 1989 to 2013, a clear picture emerges. Over the period from 1989 through 2013, family wealth grew at significantly different rates for different segments of the U.S. population. In 2013, for example:The wealth of families at the 90th percentile of the distribution was 54% greater than the wealth at the 90th percentile in 1989, after adjusting for changes in prices.
  • The wealth of those at the median was 4 percent greater than the wealth of their counterparts in 1989.
  • The wealth of families at the 25th percentile was 6 percent less than that of their counterparts in 1989.
  • As the chart below shows, nobody has experienced the same cumulative growth in after-tax income as the "Top 1%"
The above is particularly topical at a time when either party is trying to take credit for the US recovery. Here, while previously Democrats, and now Republicans tout the US "income recovery" they may have forgotten about half of America, but one entity remembers well: loan collectors. As the chart below shows, America's poor families have never been more in debt.
The share of families in debt (those whose total debt exceeded their total assets) remained almost unchanged between 1989 and 2007 and then increased by 50 percent between 2007 and 2013. In 2013, those families were more in debt than their counterparts had been either in 1989 or in 2007. For instance, 8 percent of families were in debt in 2007 and, on average, their debt exceeded their assets by $20,000. By 2013, in the aftermath of the recession of 2007 to 2009, 12 percent of families were in debt and, on average, their debt exceeded their assets by $32,000.

The increase in average indebtedness between 2007 and 2013 for families in debt was mainly the result of falling home equity and rising student loan balances. In 2007, 3 percent of families in debt had negative home equity: They owed, on average, $16,000 more than their homes were worth. In 2013, that share was 19 percent of families in debt, and they owed, on average, $45,000 more than their homes were worth. The share of families in debt that had outstanding student debt rose from 56 percent in 2007 to 64 percent in 2013, and the average amount of their loan balances increased from $29,000 to $41,000.
And there - as we say quarter after quarter- is your "recovery": the wealthy have never been wealthier, while half of America, some 50% of households, own just 1% of the country's wealth, down from 3% in 1989, while America's poor have never been more in debt.

Artificial intelligence pioneer calls for the breakup of Big Tech - Axios

Yoshua Bengio, the artificial intelligence pioneer, says the centralization of wealth, power and capability in Big Tech is "dangerous for democracy" and that the companies should be broken up.
Why it matters: Bengio is a professor at the University of Montreal and a member of the three-man "Canadian Mafia" that pioneered machine learning, the leading method used in AI. His remarks are notable because of his influence in the AI community and because he or his peers all either directly lead or consult for Big Tech's AI programs. Says Bengio: "Concentration of wealth leads to concentration of power. That's one reason why monopoly is dangerous. It's dangerous for democracy."
The AI pioneers: Bengio consults for IBM and his colleagues Geoffrey Hinton consults for Google and Yann LeCun for Facebook. Ruslan Salakhutdinov, a protege of Hinton's, runs Apple's AI research effort.
Benigo said the concentration of resources, talent and knowledge among giant tech companies is only increasing and governments must act. "We need to create a more level playing field for people and companies," Bengio told Axios at an AI conference in Toronto last week.
In recent years, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have amassed a towering lead in AI research. But now, they are subject to growing scrutiny because of their outsized influence on society, politics and the economy. I asked Bengio if the companies should be broken up. He harrumphed and responded that anti-trust laws should be enforced. "Governments have become so meek in front of companies," he said.
"AI is a technology that naturally lends itself to a winner take all," Bengio said. "The country and company that dominates the technology will gain more power with time. More data and a larger customer base gives you an advantage that is hard to dislodge. Scientists want to go to the best places. The company with the best research labs will attract the best talent. It becomes a concentration of wealth and power."
When some of the young people gathered around him looked a bit dejected, Bengio responded, "Don't despair — fight."
https://www.axios.com/artificial-intelligence-pioneer-calls-for-the-breakup-of-big-tech-2487483705.html