December 31, 2011

Scientists Fear H5N1 will Mutate into a Form Readily Transmissible between Humans, with the Potential to Cause Millions of Deaths

Not necessarily ruling out EMP, but perhaps suggesting concurrent disasters. I agree, prophets looking to our day have almost universally warned of plagues and pestilences. However in the event of EMP much of our infrastructure currently in place might become defunct. Imagine living in a city with hundreds of thousands of people and no source of clean water or means of reliable sanitation. Disease would be a very real issue, especially if so many people were dying that bodies began piling up in the streets and nobody was taking it upon themselves to dispose of them. No source of clean water, sewage building up, untended bodies, would lead to a huge risk of disease, as well as all manner of pests proliferating. Flies, rats, roaches, etc. Edit: missed that vital word in your post, "catalyst" :). I agree, there are plenty of scenarios in which disease could strike first, leading to other disasters. The modern day Gadiantons likely favor disease as a tool just like they favor EMP, in that both provide a chance to get rid of or subdue unwanted population while leaving valuable infrastructure and resources intact. - Fairminded, Joel Skousen Forum, October 13, 2011

WHO 'Deeply Concerned' by Mutant Bird Flu

December 31, 2011

AFP - The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was "deeply concerned" about research into whether the H5N1 flu virus could be made more transmissible between humans after mutant strains were produced in labs.

Two separate research teams -- one in the Netherlands and the other in the United States -- have found ways to alter the H5N1 avian influenza so it could pass easily between mammals.

Two top scientific journals said on Tuesday they were mulling whether to publish full details on how Dutch scientists mutated the H5N1 flu virus in order for it to pass from one mammal to another.

Scientists fear H5N1 will mutate into a form readily transmissible between humans, with the potential to cause millions of deaths.

"The WHO takes note that studies undertaken by several institutions on whether changes in the H5N1 influenza virus can make it more transmissible between humans have raised concern about the possible risks and misuses associated with this research," the Geneva-based United Nations body said.

"WHO is also deeply concerned about the potential negative consequences.

"However, WHO also notes that studies conducted under appropriate conditions must continue to take place so that critical scientific knowledge needed to reduce the risks posed by the H5N1 virus continues to increase."

The WHO said research which could improve the understanding of such viruses was a scientific and public health imperative.

"While it is clear that conducting research to gain such knowledge must continue, it is also clear that certain research, and especially that which can generate more dangerous forms of the virus than those which already exist, has risks.

"Therefore such research should be done only after all important public health risks and benefits have been identified and reviewed, and it is certain that the necessary protections to minimize the potential for negative consequences are in place."

The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has thus far proven fatal in 60 percent of human cases, although only 350 people have died from the disease to date, largely because it cannot yet be transmitted between humans. Indonesia has been the worst-hit country.

Most human cases have involved direct contact with infected birds. China is considered one of the nations most at risk of bird flu epidemics because it has the world's biggest poultry population and many chickens in rural areas are kept close to humans.

A man is in critical condition after testing positive for the H5N1 virus in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, state media said on Saturday.

53.7 Percent Chance that Democrats Could Control Washington in 2012

What’s the Likelihood that Democrats Could Control Washington in 2012?

December 31, 2011

David Rothschild, The Signal - As of December 31, 2011 the likelihood of the Democrats retaining the Presidency is 53.7 percent, retaining the Senate is 20.7 percent, and taking the House is 32.7 percent. This is compiled from Betfair, Intrade, and Iowa Electronic Market prediction market data.

The chart shows how these three main predictions have shifted during the course of the year.

Obama had a small spike when Osama Bin Laden was captured, but otherwise he's been on a slow decline for most of the summer and early fall, with a slow resurgence in the late fall and early winter.

The Senate has been relatively steady with small spikes corresponding to shifts in specific seats, including retirements and announcements of new candidates. The House has shown the most flux with a steep decline that mirrored the President's, but continued longer into the fall. Yet, it has taken a sharp turn towards the Democrats in recent weeks:

Likelihood of Democratic Victory in President, Senate, and House_Dec 31

Sources: Betfair, Intrade, and Iowa Electronic Market

Obama has been polling well against both the generic Republican and the specific Republicans (with Mitt Romney being the most likely opponent, followed by Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum). The Real Clear Politics aggregated polling trend has him up 1.6 percentage points on Romney and down 0.5 percentage points on the "generic Republican." Other data, including approval numbers and economic indicators, have been moving in his direction, but are still far from ensuring his reelection. Key indicators, however, are still a few months away—they will come at the end of the first and second quarter of the election year.

What does that 53.7 percent mean for Obama? Not too much at this moment. With the election 10 months away, markets are going to be conservative. Still, markets are predicting that numbers will continue to move in his favor.

As for holding on to the Senate, it is not looking good for the Democrats. The Democrats control 23 of 33 seats up for election and are facing slew of retirements, including Ben Nelson from Nebraska this week.

In the House, things have been looking up for the Democrats lately, yet the Republicans are still likely to retain control. The census-induced redistricting of House seats likely helps the Republicans in the House. Yet, the recent Democratic creep forward is likely a result of record low Congressional approval numbers. It also coincides Republican squabbling over the payroll tax issue, which stemmed from lack of cohesion in the Republican-controlled House. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board called this a fiasco that could help Obama get reelected, but the reverberations for this type of event may be felt in House elections as well.

David Rothschild is an economist at Yahoo! Research. He has a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation is in creating aggregated forecasts from individual-level information. Follow him on Twitter @DavMicRot and email him at

4.0 Earthquake Strikes in Northeast Ohio, the 11th Earthquake to Strike There in 2011

4.0 Earthquake Strikes in Northeast Ohio

December 31, 2011

AP - The latest in a series of minor earthquakes in northeast Ohio hit on Saturday, sending some stunned residents running for cover as bookshelves shook and pictures and lamps fell from tables.

The 4.0 magnitude quake struck Saturday afternoon in McDonald, outside of Youngstown, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Area residents said a loud boom accompanied the shaking, but sheriff's dispatchers from several counties in the area said there were no immediate reports of damage.

A few miles from the epicenter, Charles Kihm said he was preparing food in his kitchen when he heard a noise and thought a vehicle had hit his Austintown home.

"It really shook, and it rumbled, like there was a sound," said Kihm, 82. "It was loud. It didn't last long. But it really scared me."

The area has experienced at least 10 minor quakes in 2011, though Saturday's temblor appeared to be stronger than others, which generally had a magnitude of 2.7 or lower. This time, some residents reported feeling trembling farther south into Columbiana County and east into western Pennsylvania.

Many of the quakes have struck near an injection well used to dispose of brine water that's a byproduct of oil and gas drilling. Thousands of gallons of brine are injected into the well daily, and much of it is shipped in from out of state.

Its owner, Northstar Disposal Services LLC, has agreed to stop injecting brine into the earth as a precaution while authorities assess any potential links to the quakes. The head of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said research hadn't led to a direct correlation with the injections but officials wouldn't gamble with public safety.

There are 177 similar injection wells around the state, and the Youngtown-area well has been the only site with seismic activity, the department said.

Patti Gorcheff, who lives about 15 miles from the epicenter, said her dogs started barking inexplicably Saturday and the ornaments on her Christmas tree began to shake. Her husband thought he heard the sound of some sort of blast.

"This is the biggest one we've had so far," said Gorcheff, a North Lima resident who has raised concerns about quakes and drilling-related activity in the region. "I hope this is a wake-up call."
Earthquake hits third inning of Cleveland Indians game 8-23-2011 (starting about 30 seconds into the video):


December 30, 2011

Average Americans are Deeply, Deeply Concerned About Unemployment, Debt, the Housing Crash and the Steady Decline in the Standard of Living (But Government Employees and Contractors are Still Living the Good Life, for Now)

The Number One Catastrophic Event That Americans Worry About: Economic Collapse

December 30, 2011

The Economic Collapse - Can you guess what the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is? There are certainly many to choose from:

  • Many Americans are deathly afraid of a major terrorist attack.
  • Others live in constant fear of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes.
  • Still others are incredibly concerned that a massive pandemic will break out at any time or that World War III will erupt in the Middle East.
Yes, there are certainly a lot of potential catastrophic events that one can worry about in the times in which we live, but the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is actually "economic collapse". At least that is what a recent survey conducted by Leiflin Inc. for the EcoHealth Alliance found. But this goes along with what so many other polls have found over the past few years.

Over and over again, opinion polls have found that the number one issue that American voters are concerned about is the economy. The truth is that average Americans are deeply, deeply concerned about unemployment, debt, the housing crash and the steady decline in the standard of living.

It has been years since the U.S. economy has operated at a "normal" level, and many Americans are afraid that things could soon get a whole lot worse.

In the new survey mentioned above, those contacted were asked to select the top three potential catastrophes that worry them the most. The following results come directly from the survey....

  • Economic Collapse: 63%
  • Natural Disaster: 46%
  • Terrorist Attack: 44%
  • Global Disease Outbreak: 33%
  • Global War: 27%
  • Nuclear Accident: 25%
  • Global Warming: 22%
  • Fuel Shortage: 15%
  • Cyber War: 8%
  • Famine: 8%
  • Oil Spill: 6%
  • Industrial Accident: 5%

As you can see, "economic collapse" was the winner by a wide margin. So are there good reasons for the American people to be concerned about an economic collapse? Of course there are.

Back in 2008, a financial crisis that began on Wall Street was felt in the farthest corners of the globe.

This time, ground zero for the financial crisis is going to be in Europe. As I have written about previously, the European financial system is rapidly coming apart at the seams. The euro continues to drop like a rock, and banking stocks continue their long-term decline.

Many people expect a "financial collapse" to happen on a particular day. But that is not how it happens usually. Instead, it is often like a snowball that starts rolling downhill very slowly at first but that eventually become a huge avalanche.

Right now, we are seeing the financial world come apart in slow motion. A recent article posted on Automatic Earth included a list of the year-to-date performance of some of the most prominent global banking stocks. These numbers are absolutely staggering....

  • BofA: -60.38%
  • Citi: -44.76%
  • Goldman Sachs: -46.41%
  • JPMorgan: -23.03%
  • Morgan Stanley: -45.24%
  • RBS: -50%
  • Barclays: -34.32%
  • Lloyds: -63.02%
  • UBS: -29.33%
  • Deutsche Bank: -28,55%
  • Crédit Agricole: -56.04%
  • BNP Paribas: -37.67%
  • Société Générale: -59.57%

But because these numbers happened over the course of a year and not on a single day it doesn't feel quite as much like a "collapse".

Unfortunately, things are about to get a whole lot worse. Global credit markets are really freezing up - especially in Europe.

Considering the fact that the entire global financial system is based on credit and debt, that is a very bad thing. Our system simply does not work when banks do not want to lend money to each other or to businesses. Just yesterday there was an article in the Guardian that talked about how it looks like the credit crunch may be getting even worse....

"If European banks are still this concerned, it's not a good sign," said Karl Schamotta, senior markets strategist with Western Union Business Solutions. "That underlines the possibility that this liquidity crunch is getting worse and will continue into the new year."

When banks cut back on lending, that causes the money supply to shrink. When the money supply shrinks substantially, it is almost impossible to avoid a recession. A recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard detailed how the money supply in many eurozone nations is shrinking at a very rapid pace right now....

Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said "narrow" M1 money – which includes cash and overnight deposits, and signals short-term spending plans – shows an alarming split between North and South.

While real M1 deposits are still holding up in the German bloc, the rate of fall over the last six months (annualised) has been 20.7pc in Greece, 16.3pc in Portugal, 11.8pc in Ireland, and 8.1pc in Spain, and 6.7pc in Italy. The pace of decline in Italy has been accelerating, partly due to capital flight.

"This rate of contraction is greater than in early 2008 and implies an even deeper recession, both for Italy and the whole periphery," said Mr Ward.

Those are very, very frightening numbers. About the only thing propping up European banks right now is the fact that the European Central Bank is loaning them gigantic piles of cheap money. But there is a big problem. European banks are running out of collateral for those loans as an article in the Wall Street Journal recently noted....

Even after the European Central Bank doled out nearly half a trillion euros of loans to cash-strapped banks last week, fears about potential financial problems are still stalking the sector. One big reason: concerns about collateral.

The only way European banks can now convince anyone—institutional investors, fellow banks or the ECB—to lend them money is if they pledge high-quality assets as collateral.

Now some regulators and bankers are becoming nervous that some lenders' supplies of such assets, which include European government bonds and investment-grade non-government debt, are running low.

So what happens when banks all over Europe start running out of collateral and can't get any more loans? The answer should be obvious.

As I detailed a few days ago, many prominent voices in the financial world now believe that we could be looking at a financial crisis that will be even worse than 2008. If you want to see what happens when a collapse happens and a depression begins, just look at what is happening in Greece....

  • 100,000 businesses have been closed since the beginning of the crisis.
  • About a third of the nation is now living in poverty.
  • The unemployment rate for those under the age of 24 is 39 percent.
  • The number of suicides has increased by 40 percent in the past year.
  • Thefts and burglaries nearly doubled between 2007 and 2009.

Things have gotten so bad that hundreds of families in Greece are abandoning their children. Some are taking their children to charitable institutions and others are handing them directly over to the government.

The following sad story of one Greek family comes from an article in the Guardian....

"Psychologically we were all in a bit of a mess," said Gasparinatos. "We were sleeping on mattresses on the floor, the rent hadn't been paid for months, something had to be done."

And so, with Christmas approaching, the 42-year-old took the decision to put in an official request for three of his boys and one daughter to be taken into care.

"The crisis had killed us. I am ashamed to say but it had got to the point where I couldn't even afford the €2 needed to buy bread," he told the Guardian. "We didn't want to break up the family but we did think it would be easier for them if four of my children were sent to an institution for maybe two or three years."

Does that seem shocking to you?

Well, all of this is coming to America eventually.

  • Someday we will see American parents abandoning their children because they cannot take care of them anymore.
  • Someday we will see suicides absolutely skyrocket in America because people have lost all hope.
  • Someday we will see thefts and burglaries soar to unprecedented heights as millions of desperate people attempt to try to find some way to survive.
It is all coming.

The federal government cannot pile up a trillion dollars of additional debt every year indefinitely.

We cannot afford to see an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day in the United States shut down. Eventually there won't be anymore factories to shut down.

We cannot afford to keep putting millions more Americans on welfare. At this point the government is feeding 46 million Americans a month. Will the government eventually be feeding most of us?

The U.S. economy is getting weaker and weaker and weaker. All of the long-term trends are absolutely nightmarish. We are accumulating debt faster than ever, and our ability to produce wealth is diminishing faster than ever.

There is no way that things are going to be okay if we stay on the path that we are currently on.

So the truth is that Americans should be very concerned about an economic collapse.

It is coming and it is going to be very painful.

National Effort to Recall Members of Congress Who Voted for the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 (NDAA)

Oath Keepers Launches Effort to Recall Members of Congress

December 30, 2011

The New American - In response to the passage by the House and the Senate of the National Defense Appropriations Act of 2012 (NDAA), Stewart Rhodes (left), founder of Oath Keepers, announced a national effort to recall every member who voted for the act.

Oath Keepers was founded by Rhodes to encourage current members of the military services and veterans to keep their oath to protect and defend the Constitution against “all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Members commit to following certain “orders we will not obey,” including, as especially relevant to NDAA, Number Three:

We will NOT obey any order to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal.

One of the causes of the American Revolution was the denial of the right to jury trial, the use of admiralty courts (military tribunals) instead, and the application of the laws of war to the colonists. After that experience, and being well aware of the infamous Star Chamber in English history, the Founders ensured that the international laws of war would apply only to foreign enemies, not to the American people. Thus, the Article III Treason Clause establishes the only constitutional form of trial for an American, not serving in the military, who is accused of making war on his own nation. Such a trial for treason must be before a civilian jury, not a tribunal.

The international laws of war do not trump our Bill of Rights. We reject as illegitimate any such claimed power, as did the Supreme Court in Ex Parte Milligan (1865). Any attempt to apply the laws of war to American civilians, under any pretext, such as against domestic “militia” groups the government brands “domestic terrorists,” is an act of war and an act of treason.

What appears to be reasonable on the surface is complicated by the actual “Oath of Enlistment” sworn by members of the military, to wit:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Oath Keepers has taken the position that when the President gives an order not in compliance with the Constitution, their members should ignore the order and follow the Constitution. Accordingly, when Congress gives powers that it doesn’t possess or that violate the Constitution to the Executive branch, it must be brought to justice.

As Rhodes noted in his announcement,

“We consider the NDAA of 2012 to be a declaration of war on the American people, and an act of treason Oath Keepers … across the nation will lead or assist efforts in their states to remove any member of Congress, regardless of party, who voted for this monstrosity.”
He added:

These politicians from both parties betrayed our trust, and violated the oath they took to defend the Constitution. It’s not about the left or right, it’s about our Bill of Rights. Without the Bill of Rights, there is no America. It is the Crown Jewel of our Constitution, and the high-water mark of Western Civilization.

As two time Medal of Honor winner Marine General Smedley Butler once said, “There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.” [It is] time to fight.

Rhodes defends his strong stand by reminding those who will listen that claims by any administration to be able to arrest an American citizen without charge and hold that person in military detention without access to legal counsel and then try that person by a military tribunal are utterly without merit and basis in law. He says,

“Such a practice is a direct violation not just of the right to Grand Jury indictment and jury trial under our Bill of Rights, but [it] also violates the Article III Treason Clause…”

He recommends reading Antonin Scalia’s dissent in the Supreme Court case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld where the majority held that “there is no bar to this Nation’s holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant.” Scalia’s dissent confronts the core of the constitutional protections against Executive claims that security overrides freedom:

The Founders well understood the difficult tradeoff between safety and freedom. “Safety from external danger,” Hamilton declared, “is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war; the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty, to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they, at length, become willing to run the risk of being less free.” The Federalist No. 8, p. 33.

The Founders warned us about the risk, and equipped us with a Constitution designed to deal with it.

Many think it not only inevitable but entirely proper that liberty give way to security in times of national crisis — that, at the extremes of military exigency, inter arma silent leges [in times of war, the law falls silent]. Whatever the general merits of the view that war silences law or modulates its voice, that view has no place in the interpretation and application of a Constitution designed precisely to confront war and, in a manner that accords with democratic principles, to accommodate it. Because the Court has proceeded to meet the current emergency in a manner the Constitution does not envision, I respectfully dissent.

When questioned about when would be the appropriate time that “we the people” should rise up against the pending dictatorship and imposition of martial law that the NDAA implies, Rhodes responded:

We veterans will exhaust all peaceful and lawful means left to us before we ever consider taking up arms. As Jefferson said in our Declaration of Independence:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

In an interview at The Daily Bell in November, Rhodes noted that membership in Oath Keepers exceeds 10,000 dues-paying members, with hundreds more joining every month. But he said that what really matters is that for every member, “there are thousands of others who are of like mind, but who are part of the unknown and unknowable mass below the surface of the “Oath Keepers iceberg.”

Obama Says His Election Odds are Better in 2012 Than 2008

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

It's pretty clear now that the Republican field isn't strong enough. Don't give me this Ron Paul crap either. Ron Paul is too intellectual for the masses in a general election. Obama will present a simple, fatherly image to the voters and get re-elected on simplicity, much like Bush did, rather than change. Obama will beat Romney easily, too. With 50% of Americans on the big government dole things don't look good for the workers who pay for them. The MSM and the democrat dependents (43%) will still vote for him. This percentage has not changed since the days of Bill Clinton. In order to defeat Obama, the other 57% has to vote for the other guy. - anonymous

Obama: Election Odds Better in 2012 Than 2008

September 15, 2011

ABC News - At a campaign fundraiser Thursday night in Washington, D.C., President Obama said he believes his chances of being reelected in 2012 are “much higher” than they were in 2008.

“Over the last couple of months there have been Democrats who voiced concerns and nervousness about, well, in this kind of economy, isn’t this just — aren’t these just huge headwinds in terms of your reelection?” Obama said.

“And I just have to remind people that, here’s one thing I know for certain: the odds of me being reelected are much higher than the odds of me being elected in the first place.”

Obama made the remarks before a gathering of 50 donors to his reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee who each paid $35,800 to attend.

The event was held at the Georgetown home of former U.S. ambassador to Portugal Elizabeth Frawley Bagley.

“We remain very confident about our ability to win a contest of ideas in 2012,” Obama said, “as long as we can get the message out.”
Obama's confidence in reelection is eerily similar to that of George W. Bush:

Lousy Economy Won't Sink Obama

June 6, 2011

The Daily Beast - Unemployment has edged up again two months in a row, and economic conditions are bad for most Americans, but the president’s strong personal approval ratings and a roster of weak potential GOP opponents mean he will win a second term, writes Peter Beinart.

For a couple of years now, optimists about Barack Obama’s reelection prospects (myself included) have peddled the Ronald Reagan analogy. Reagan, you may remember, won 49 states in 1984 with the unemployment rate at 7.4 percent. The lesson: a president overseeing a weak economy can still win reelection—easily—if people believe the worst is over and prosperity is about to return.

The recent jobs numbers make that analogy less convincing. In 1982, when Reagan got shellacked in the midterm elections, the unemployment rate was near 11 percent. But it dropped sharply in 1983 and 1984. This March, when unemployment dipped to less than 9 percent (from almost 10 last November), it looked like Obama might benefit from a similar trajectory. But now that unemployment has edged up again for two months in a row, that looks unlikely. The best bet is that when voters go to the polls next fall the economy won’t be in free fall, as it was when Obama took office. But neither will it have turned the corner. For most Americans, it will have been lousy for as long as Barack Obama was president, and there will be no tangible evidence that it will get any better in his second term.

So why do I still think Obama will win in 2012? Because if the Ronald Reagan analogy may not exactly hold, the George W. Bush analogy just might. Unemployment wasn’t particularly high when Bush sought reelection in 2004, but Americans were in a sour mood nonetheless. Throughout the summer and fall of 2004, a clear majority of Americans said the country was on the wrong track. The numbers, in fact, were only marginally better then than they are now. So how did Bush win? For one thing, people’s feelings about him outpaced their feelings about the state of the country. Despite saying the country was on the wrong track, a slight majority of Americans approved of his job performance, and he was reelected by essentially that margin.

One explanation is that some portion of Americans simply liked Bush personally, even though they didn’t think America was faring very well on his watch. For some, it may have been his personal rectitude after Bill Clinton. For others, it was his religiosity. For others, it was the sense that he was a regular guy. Obama enjoys a similar dynamic. Maybe it is intelligence and eloquence. Maybe it is the fact that he, like Bush, seems comfortable in his own skin. Maybe it is his own reputation for rectitude, a reputation buttressed by the lack of scandals in his administration. Maybe it is a lingering pride in what his election says about America. This isn’t true for all presidents. Americans never thought very highly of Bill Clinton as a person even as they acknowledged that the country was thriving under his leadership. But for whatever reason, Americans seem a little softer on Obama than the hard economic realities would suggest.

The second thing that helped Bush was a weak opponent. From the beginning of the race, Bush’s advisers insisted that the 2004 election was a choice between him and his opponent, not a referendum on his presidency. And they succeeded in making John Kerry’s alleged flip-flopping a dominant factor in the race. We don’t know who the Republicans will nominate in 2012, but a strong candidate will need to appear:

1) up to the job,
2) like a person of conviction,
3) able to relate to ordinary Americans and
4) ideologically mainstream.

Right now, Mitt Romney struggles with numbers 2 and 3. Tim Pawlenty struggles with number1. Newt Gingrich struggles with number 3. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and Herman Cain struggle with numbers 1 and 4.

Perhaps one of them will overcome those deficiencies, and perhaps Jon Huntsman will turn out to have none of the weaknesses, but as of now, it looks like a field of substantially flawed candidates. And by 2012, they may look even more flawed. In a party as ideologically charged as today’s GOP, it’s enormously difficult to win over base voters—and bring them to the polls in November—while also appearing ideologically mainstream. Obama will exploit that.
The happier Rush Limbaugh is with the Republican nominee, the easier it will be for Obama to galvanize Democrats to go to the polls.
Yes, liberals are not as passionate about Obama as they once were. But conservatives were not as passionate about Bush either, and he got a larger base turnout in 2004 than 2000, largely because in this hyper-polarized age, it’s not hard to scare your core voters about the other side.

Many things could upend this analysis. It depends on Obama running as good a campaign as he did last time and performing as well in debates. And it depends on the economy merely stagnating, not collapsing. But in this moment of sudden pessimism about Obama’s chances, it’s worth remembering that presidential elections are not exercises in econometrics. Candidates matter, and so far, at least, it looks likely that the better one will be the guy occupying the White House right now.

Facebook 'Like' Buttons Raise Serious Privacy Concerns for Online Reading Habits

Think Before You 'Like' on Facebook

December 30, 2011

Reuters - Annie Scranton has a little problem.

The founder and president of New York City's Pace Public Relations is a successful and sober-minded individual, but when it comes to this one thing, she has a definite compulsion. It's the "Like" button on Facebook -- she just can't stop clicking it.

"I'm totally obsessed with it," says the 31 year old. "Just like a lot of people I know. My friends and I call it 'Like-Bombing', where you go online and like everything."

So it's a good thing for serial "Likers" like Scranton that there are more and more rewards for consumers who click that button.

Hotel chain Marriott, for instance, is currently offering prizes totaling 10 million reward points for those who Like its Facebook pages, including two grand prizes of a million points each.

Think of it as a social-media arms race among corporations, to see which can amass the greatest number of online followers.

"It's become a real competition between companies to grow the size of that number, and to have more fans than your rivals," says Matt Simpson, marketing director for Phoenix-based Bulbstorm, which develops social-media apps for companies such as NBC and World Wrestling Entertainment.

"Over the last year, we've been seeing more and more of it, and it's been driven largely by promotional applications like sweepstakes."


If you "Liked" Toys 'R Us before Thanksgiving, for instance, you got a shot at a limo ride, a $1,000 shopping spree, and exclusive store access before its doors opened for Black Friday sales.

Travel site Expedia, meanwhile, hosted a 'FriendTrips' sweepstakes for those who Liked its Facebook page, offering voyages to one of 13 different destinations.

As a result, in the third quarter of this year, an average of 100 million "Like" buttons were being clicked on Facebook every day. That's double the amount of liking going on, compared with the same period last year.

Corporations are doing this for a reason, of course. They're building marketing lists, they're aiming to boost sales, and they're planting themselves in users' news feeds.

When Coca-Cola has more than 36 million Likes, and Disney has more than 29 million, they've assembled a ready-made audience that can be tapped at any time.

And here's a little secret: While companies are certainly happy to have you as a fan, what they're really interested in isn't you; it's your friends.

Because if you officially Like Starbucks, your friends see that you've liked Starbucks, and they become more likely to spend there as well.

"Friends of fans represent a much larger set of consumers than the brand's own fans," says Elisabeth Diana, Facebook's manager of corporate communications. "In fact they're 81 times the size of the actual fan base, so Likes are a way to reach those people as well."

The promotional pushes seem to be paying off.

Expedia's FriendTrips campaign, for instance, garnered 900,000 new Likes for the company. And while Marriott's contest is ongoing until the end of the year, its new Marriott Rewards Facebook page has already gone from zero to more than 170,000 Likes.

"We've surpassed all other hotel rewards programs in under three weeks," says Michelle Lapierre, Marriott's senior director of customer relationship marketing, taking a slap at rivals Hilton, Starwood and Hyatt.


Of course, once you have an army of online followers, that's not the end of the marketing road. Then there's the question of what to do with them all.

That's why companies are now proceeding to Phase Two of the Like operation: Figuring out how to engage and entertain consumers on an ongoing basis, with a flurry of polls and quizzes and games.

"Collecting Likes by giving away prizes is a great way to build a fan base, but it's not the be-all and end-all of Facebook marketing," says Bulbstorm's Simpson, who himself won a 10-day trip to Hawaii from just such an online promotion.

"Savvy brands are starting to focus on things with more entertainment value, to keep you around longer than the seven seconds it takes to fill out a form."

Beware, though, that Liking something publicly makes companies keenly interested in who you are and where you're surfing.

Not only that, but Facebook is rolling out so-called 'Sponsored Stories' of such activity. In other words, if you officially like Target's Facebook page, your friend Jim might get a Sponsored Story in his news feed announcing that thrilling development. So if you're uncomfortable with your personal business being public, then maybe Like-Bombing isn't your best online strategy.

"Facebook 'Like' buttons are increasing in prevalence across the Web, raising serious privacy concerns for those who value the privacy of their online reading habits," says Rainey Reitman, activism director for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"This collection of information about one's Web browsing habits may violate many users' expectations of privacy. Our reading habits can be incredibly sensitive, and Facebook has a long history of playing fast and loose with user privacy."

Facebook reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in November, agreeing to get users' permission before altering privacy settings and submitting to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years.

As for Pace's Annie Scranton, though, she has no plans to rein in her Like campaign - especially since it's brought her a number of new business prospects. So if you get Liked by her, don't be all that surprised.

"My business is inextricably linked to social media, so if I wasn't constantly Liking things, my clients wouldn't be happy," she says. "Even when I'm working, I'm on Facebook all day long. You can never do enough Liking."

The writer is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

December 29, 2011

Fake Twitter and Facebook Profiles Used by Department of Homeland Security to Spy on Americans

Tweeting the Word 'Drill' Could Mean Your Twitter Account is Read by U.S. Government Spies

The Department for Homeland Security announced plans to scan social networks for keywords such as 'human to animal', 'outbreak', 'strain' and 'drill', and then identify users, claims an online privacy group
  • List of keywords flags 'danger' signal
  • DHS may attempt to identify users from their accounts
  • Keywords include 'virus', 'drill' and 'illegal immigrant'
December 28, 2011

Daily Mail - The Department for Homeland Security announced plans to scan social networks for keywords such as 'human to animal', 'outbreak', 'strain' and 'drill', and then identify users, claims an online privacy group

The Department of Homeland Security makes fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for 'sensitive' words - and tracking people who use them.

Simply using a word or phrase from the DHS's 'watch' list could mean that spies from the government read your posts, investigate your account, and attempt to identify you from it, acccording to an online privacy group.

The words which attract attention range from ones seemingly related to diseases or bioweapons such as 'human to animal' and 'outbreak' to other, more obscure words such as 'drill' and 'strain'.

The DHS also watches for words such as 'illegal immigrant'.

The DHS outlined plans to scans blogs, Twitter and Facebook for words such as 'illegal immigrant', 'outbreak', 'drill', 'strain', 'virus', 'recovery', 'deaths', 'collapse', 'human to animal' and 'trojan', according to an 'impact asssessment' document filed by the agency.

When its search tools net an account using the phrases, they record personal information.

It's still not clear how this information is used - and who the DHS shares it with.

How much is a Twitter account worth? Landmark case as man is sued by bosses for taking 17,000 Twitter followers with him when he left his job

An online privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre has requested information on the DHS's scans, which it says the agency announced in February.

The privacy group has requested information on the DHS, and contractors it claims are working with the agency to scan social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The group says that the government has used scans of social media before to analyse specific events - such as the 2010 BP oil spill - but this general 'watching' of social media using fake profiles is new.
'The initiatives were designed to gather information from 'online forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards,' to store and analyze the information gathered, and then to 'disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local, and foreign governments and private sector partners,' the group said in a court filing.
The group claims that a request under the Freedom of Information Act to access the documentation has gone unanswered.

Corporate Psychopaths Occupy Positions of Power

Brian Basham: Beware Corporate Psychopaths – They are Still Occupying Positions of Power

In an unregulated world, the least-principled people rise to the top

December 29, 2011

Independent - Over the years I've met my fair share of monsters – rogue individuals, for the most part. But as regulation in the UK and the US has loosened its restraints, the monsters have proliferated.

In a paper recently published in the Journal of Business Ethics entitled "The Corporate Psychopaths: Theory of the Global Financial Crisis", Clive R Boddy identifies these people as psychopaths.

"They are," he says, "simply the 1 per cent of people who have no conscience or empathy." And he argues: "Psychopaths, rising to key senior positions within modern financial corporations, where they are able to influence the moral climate of the whole organisation and yield considerable power, have largely caused the [banking] crisis'.

And Mr Boddy is not alone. In Jon Ronson's widely acclaimed book The Psychopath Test, Professor Robert Hare told the author:

"I should have spent some time inside the Stock Exchange as well. Serial killer psychopaths ruin families. Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies."

Cut to a pleasantly warm evening in Bahrain. My companion, a senior UK investment banker and I, are discussing the most successful banking types we know and what makes them tick. I argue that they often conform to the characteristics displayed by social psychopaths. To my surprise, my friend agrees.

He then makes an astonishing confession:

"At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles."

Here was one of the biggest investment banks in the world seeking psychopaths as recruits.

Mr Ronson spoke to scores of psychologists about their understanding of the damage that psychopaths could do to society. None of those psychologists could have imagined, I'm sure, the existence of a bank that used the science of spotting them as a recruiting mechanism.

I've never met Dick Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers and the architect of its downfall, but I've seen him on video and it's terrifying. He snarled to Lehman staff that he wanted to "rip out their [his competitors] hearts and eat them before they died". So how did someone like Mr Fuld get to the top of Lehman? You don't need to see the video to conclude he was weird; you could take a little more time and read a 2,200-page report by Anton Valukas, the Chicago-based lawyer hired by a US court to investigate Lehman's failure. Mr Valukas revealed systemic chicanery within the bank; he described management failures and a destructive, internal culture of reckless risk-taking worthy of any psychopath.

So why wasn't Mr Fuld spotted and stopped? I've concluded it's the good old question of nature and nurture but with a new interpretation. As I see it, in its search for never-ending growth, the financial services sector has actively sought out monsters with natures like Mr Fuld and nurtured them with bonuses and praise.

We all understand that sometimes businesses have to be cut back to ensure their survival, and where those cuts should fall is as relevant to a company as it is, today, to the UK economy; should it bear down upon the rich or the poor?

Making those cuts doesn't make psychopaths of the cutters, but the financial sector's lack of remorse for the pain it encourages people to inflict is purely psychopathic. Surely the action of cutting should be a matter for sorrow and regret? People's lives are damaged, even destroyed. However, that's not how the financial sector sees it.

Take Sir Fred Goodwin of RBS, for example. Before he racked up a corporate loss of £24.1bn, the highest in UK history, he was idolised by the City. In recognition of his work in ruthlessly cutting costs at Clydesdale Bank he got the nickname "Fred the Shred", and he played that for all it was worth. He was later described as "a corporate Attila", a title of which any psychopath would be proud.

Mr Ronson reports:

"Justice departments and parole boards all over the world have accepted Hare's contention that psychopaths are quite simply incurable and everyone should concentrate their energies instead on learning how to root them out."

But, far from being rooted out, they are still in place and often in positions of even greater power.

As Mr Boddy warns:

"The very same corporate psychopaths, who probably caused the crisis by their self-seeking greed and avarice, are now advising governments on how to get out of the crisis. Further, if the corporate psychopaths theory of the global financial crisis is correct, then we are now far from the end of the crisis. Indeed, it is only the end of the beginning."

I became familiar with psychopaths early in life. They were the hard men who terrorised south-east London when I was growing up. People like "Mad" Frankie Fraser and the Richardson brothers. They were what we used to call "red haze" men, and they were frightening because they attacked with neither fear, mercy nor remorse.

Regarding Messrs Hare, Ronson, Boddy and others, I've realised that some psychopaths "forge careers in corporations. The group is called Corporate Psychopaths". They are polished and plausible, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous.

In attempting to understand the complexities of what went wrong in the years leading to 2008, I've developed a rule:

"In an unregulated world, the least-principled people rise to the top."
And there are none who are less principled than corporate psychopaths.

See: The Establishment (Those Corporate Psychopaths) Does Not Want Ron Paul on the Presidential Ticket

Obama Uses Drones for Targeted Killings of Suspected Terrorists and Stealth Surveillance of Other Adversaries

Under Obama, an Emerging Global Apparatus for Drone Killing

December 28, 2011

The Washington Post - The Obama administration’s counterterrorism accomplishments are most apparent in what it has been able to dismantle, including CIA prisons and entire tiers of al-Qaida’s leadership. But what the administration has assembled, hidden from public view, may be equally consequential.

In the space of three years, the administration has built an extensive apparatus for using drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of other adversaries. The apparatus involves dozens of secret facilities, including two operational hubs on the East Coast, virtual Air Force cockpits in the Southwest and clandestine bases in at least six countries on two continents.

Other commanders in chief have presided over wars with far higher casualty counts. But no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.

The rapid expansion of the drone program has blurred long-standing boundaries between the CIA and the military. Lethal operations are increasingly assembled a la carte, piecing together personnel and equipment in ways that allow the White House to toggle between separate legal authorities that govern the use of lethal force.

In Yemen, for instance, the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command pursue the same adversary with nearly identical aircraft. But they alternate taking the lead on strikes to exploit their separate authorities, and they maintain separate kill lists that overlap but don’t match. CIA and military strikes this fall killed three U.S. citizens, two of whom were suspected al-Qaida operatives.

The convergence of military and intelligence resources has created blind spots in congressional oversight. Intelligence committees are briefed on CIA operations, and JSOC reports to armed services panels. As a result, no committee has a complete, unobstructed view.

With a year to go in President Barack Obama’s first term, his administration can point to undeniable results: Osama bin Laden is dead, the core al-Qaida network is near defeat, and members of its regional affiliates scan the sky for metallic glints.

Those results, delivered with unprecedented precision from aircraft that put no American pilots at risk, may help explain why the drone campaign has never attracted as much scrutiny as Bush-era detention or interrogation programs. Although human rights advocates and others are increasingly critical of the drone program, the level of public debate remains muted.

Senior Democrats barely blink at the idea that a president from their party has assembled such a highly efficient machine for the targeted killing of suspected terrorists. It is a measure of the extent to which the drone campaign has become an awkward open secret in Washington that even those inclined to express misgivings can only allude to a program that, officially, they are not allowed to discuss.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman of the intelligence committee, described the program with a mixture of awe and concern. Its expansion under Obama was almost inevitable, she said, because of the technology’s growing sophistication. But the pace of its development, she said, makes it hard to predict how it might come to be used.

“What this does is it takes a lot of Americans out of harm’s way . . . without having to send in a special ops team or drop a 500-pound bomb,” Feinstein said in an interview in which she was careful to avoid explicit confirmation that the programs exist. “But I worry about how this develops. I’m worried because of what increased technology will make it capable of doing.”

Another reason for the lack of extensive debate is secrecy. The White House has refused to divulge details about the structure of the drone program or, with rare exceptions, who has been killed. White House and CIA officials declined to speak for attribution for this article.

Inside the White House, according to officials who would discuss the drone program only on condition of anonymity, the drone is seen as a critical tool whose evolution was accelerating even before Obama was elected. Senior administration officials said the escalating number of strikes has created a perception that the drone is driving counterterrorism policy, when the reverse is true.

“People think we start with the drone and go from there, but that’s not it at all,” said a senior administration official involved with the program. “We’re not constructing a campaign around the drone. We’re not seeking to create some worldwide basing network so we have drone capabilities in every corner of the globe.”

Nevertheless, for a president who campaigned against the alleged counterterror excesses of his predecessor, Obama has emphatically embraced the post-Sept. 11 era’s signature counterterrorism tool.

When Obama was sworn into office in 2009, the nation’s clandestine drone war was confined to a single country, Pakistan, where 44 strikes over five years had left about 400 people dead, according to the New America Foundation. The number of strikes has since soared to nearly 240, and the number of those killed, according to conservative estimates, has more than quadrupled.

The number of strikes in Pakistan has declined this year, partly because the CIA has occasionally suspended them to ease tensions at moments of crisis. One lull followed the arrest of an American agency contractor who killed two Pakistani men; another came after the U.S. commando raid that killed bin Laden. The CIA’s most recent period of restraint followed U.S. military air strikes last month that inadvertently killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border. At the same time, U.S. officials have said the number of “high-value” al-Qaida targets in Pakistan has dwindled to two.

Administration officials said that the expansion of the program under Obama has largely been driven by the timeline of the drone’s development. Remotely piloted aircraft were used during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, but only in recent years have they become advanced and abundant enough to be deployed on such a large scale.

The number of drone aircraft has exploded in the past three years. A recent study by the Congressional Budget Office counted 775 Predators, Reapers and other medium- and long-range drones in the U.S. inventory, with hundreds more in the pipeline.

About 30 of those aircraft have been allocated to the CIA, officials said. But the agency has a separate category that doesn’t show up in any public accounting, a fleet of stealth drones that were developed and acquired under a highly compartmentalized CIA program created after the Sept. 11 attacks. The RQ-170 model that recently crashed in Iran exposed the agency’s use of stealth drones to spy on Iran’s nuclear program, but the planes have also been used in other countries.

The escalation of the lethal drone campaign under Obama was driven to an extent by early counterterrorism decisions. Shuttering the CIA’s detention program and halting transfers to Guantanamo Bay left few options beyond drone strikes or detention by often unreliable allies.

Key members of Obama’s national security team came into office more inclined to endorse drone strikes than were their counterparts under President George W. Bush, current and former officials said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former CIA director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan seemed always ready to step on the accelerator, said a former official who served in both administrations and was supportive of the program. Current administration officials did not dispute the former official’s characterization of the internal dynamics.

The only member of Obama’s team known to have formally raised objections to the expanding drone campaign is Dennis Blair, who served as director of national intelligence.

During a National Security Council meeting in November 2009, Blair sought to override the agenda and force a debate on the use of drones, according to two participants.

Blair has since articulated his concerns publicly, calling for a suspension of unilateral drone strikes in Pakistan, which he argues damage relations with that country and kill mainly mid-level militants. But he now speaks as a private citizen. His opinion contributed to his isolation from Obama’s inner circle, and he was fired last year.

Obama himself was “oddly passive in this world,” the former official said, tending to defer on drone policy to senior aides whose instincts often dovetailed with the institutional agendas of the CIA and JSOC.

The senior administration official disputed that characterization, saying that Obama doesn’t weigh in on every operation but has been deeply involved in setting the criteria for strikes and emphasizing the need to minimize collateral damage.

“Everything about our counterterrorism operations is about carrying out the guidance that he’s given,” the official said. “I don’t think you could have the president any more involved.”

Yemen has emerged as a crucible of convergence, the only country where both the CIA and JSOC are known to fly armed drones and carry out strikes. The attacks are aimed at al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based affiliate that has eclipsed the terrorist network’s core as the most worrisome security threat.

From separate “ops centers” at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and Fort Bragg, N.C., the agency and JSOC share intelligence and coordinate attacks, even as operations unfold. U.S. officials said the CIA recently intervened in a planned JSOC strike in Yemen, urging its military counterpart to hold fire because the intended target was not where the missile was aimed. Subsequent intelligence confirmed the agency’s concerns, officials said.

But seams in the collaboration still show.

After locating Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen this fall, the CIA quickly assembled a fleet of armed drones to track the alleged al-Qaida leader until it could take a shot.

The agency moved armed Predators from Pakistan to Yemen temporarily, and assumed control of others from JSOC’s arsenal, to expand surveillance of Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric connected to plots including the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

The choreography of the strike, which involved four drones, was intricate. Two Predators pointed lasers at Awlaki’s vehicle, and a third circled to make sure that no civilians wandered into the cross hairs. Reaper drones, which are larger than Predators and can carry more missiles, have become the main shooters in most strikes.

On Sept. 30, Awlaki was killed in a missile strike carried out by the CIA under so-called Title 50 authorities, which govern covert intelligence operations, even though officials said it was initially unclear whether an agency or JSOC drone had delivered the fatal blow. A second U.S. citizen, an al-Qaida propagandist who had lived in North Carolina, was among those killed.

The execution was nearly flawless, officials said. Nevertheless, when a similar strike was conducted just two weeks later, the entire protocol had changed. The second attack, which killed Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, was carried out by JSOC under Title 10 authorities that apply to the use of military force.

When pressed on why the CIA had not pulled the trigger, U.S. officials said it was because the main target of the Oct. 14 attack, an Egyptian named Ibrahim al-Banna, was not on the agency’s kill list. The Awlaki teenager, a U.S. citizen with no history of involvement with al-Qaida, was an unintended casualty...

Flashback: Globalists Plan to Dismantle the Middle Class With a UN Tax

Globalists Plan to Dismantle Middle Class With UN Tax

September 19, 2010 - Globalists representing 60 nations will meet at the UN this coming week to push a tax on world financial transactions in the name of solving poverty and climate change, formally launching a massive program to bankrupt the middle class and enrich the coffers of global government.

“Spearheaded by European Union countries, the so-called “innovative financing” proposal envisages a tax of 0.005 percent (five cents per $1,000), which experts estimate could produce more than $30 billion a year worldwide for priority causes,” reports CNS News.

As Ira Stoll, editor of, points out, new taxes always start off small so as to not be resisted by the people forced to pay them, and are then always gradually increased.

“When people suggest taxes, they always start out ‘small,” said Stoll.

“But once the door is opened to the idea of ‘global taxes,’ you can bet they won’t end small. Never mind all the issues about whether development aid actually helps poor countries or just winds up empowering corrupt local dictators and their cronies.”

The call for a global transaction tax arrives in the aftermath of a leaked UN blueprint which outlined how elitists plan to re-brand global warming in an effort to dismantle the middle class by instituting a “global redistribution of wealth” via carbon taxes.

The aim is to “limit and redirect the aspirations for a better life of rising middle classes around the world” — in other words, to reduce the standard of living for the middle classes in Western Europe and America.

However, as was uncovered during the Copenhagen summit, the program of “global redistribution of wealth” and transaction taxes largely centers around looting the wealth of the middle classes in richer countries and then using that money to bankroll the construction of world government. As the leaked “Danish text” revealed, the money generated from consumption taxes will go directly to the World Bank, not to developing countries to lower carbon emissions or alleviate poverty.

Under the terms of this proposal, poorer countries will not simply be handed the money pillaged from richer nations, instead they will be forced to accept “green loans” in the name of combating climate change, a policy that would land the already financially devastated third world with even more debt, payable to globalist institutions such as the IMF.

Even if you accept that global institutions who have proven to be completely corrupt time and time again should be empowered to steal from the rich and give to the poor, these proposals don’t even do that. This is all about bankrolling the expansion of world government and creating a giant slush fund that will be used to coerce smaller countries into allowing themselves to be ruled and regulated by a global bureaucracy funded by increasingly destitute taxpayers in the west.

We warned that globalists were embarking on a global financial transaction tax back in December when Lord Monckton obtained the draft proposals for the Copenhagen summit.

As Monckton revealed at the time, the end game is to “tax the American economy to the extent of 2 percent GDP, to impose a further tax of 2 percent on every financial transaction….and to close down effectively the economies of the west, transfer your jobs to third world countries.”

The tax, which was vehemently supported by President Obama in Copenhagen, will cost American families already laboring under the greatest financial collapse for generations at least $3,000 a year just for starters.

There can no longer be any denial that a world government is preparing to plunder the west by enforcing myriad different global consumption taxes, from financial levies to a carbon tax which will do absolutely nothing to address real environmental issues and will be used solely to expand the power of the World Bank, the IMF and the United Nations.

Allied to the global tax assault is the newly published IMF strategy document that calls for the implementation of a global currency, called the “bancor”, which will be pushed through by means of draconian regulatory measures that eviscerate sovereignty rights of nation states and hand complete economic control of the global economy over to a tiny and despotic ruling elite. The “bancor” will hand the IMF the power to manipulate exchange rates and determine the eventual collapse of the dollar.

Massive resistance must be focused around rejecting the institution of global taxes paid to the United Nations and the formation of a global currency otherwise the last tattered shreds of American sovereignty will be flushed down the toilet for good.

December 28, 2011

Our Last Christmas in the Old America

Our Last Christmas in the Old America

December 26, 2011 - As the world celebrates the birthday of the Prince of Peace, the Lord of War looms large over the land. The shrikes and talking heads are screeching for Iranian blood, and there are ominous signs in the stars. The war god’s acolytes flood the airwaves with “a complex of vaunting and fear,” as an old prophet once put it, and men of peace are disdained as “weak,” “dangerous,” and “extreme.”

Who will save us from the coming slaughter?

There is no savior, no man on a white horse or divine sacrificial offering who can stop or appease the gathering demons: they will quaff their chalice of blood, have their pound of flesh, these cannibals of the spirit who demand human sacrifice as the price of propitiation. Blood, honor, “national security,” “world leadership,” the “free world” – these are the words they will invoke, the ritual prayers to the great god Mars that will excuse the thousands killed, tens of thousands maimed – and for what?

  • For Israel – which must be saved at all costs, even at the price of its very soul.
  • For the authority of the United Nations – a “den of thieves,” as Lenin rightly called it, and Robert Welch agreed.
  • For the reelection of a failed president – who would gain the opportunity to blame Iran for the economic catastrophe we brought upon ourselves.

In the end, it boils down to pure economics, and the numbers add up to … war. How else to mask the Depression behind the veil of wartime “necessity”? Can you think of a better way to channel the righteous anger of a slowly-awakening people away from the warlords of Washington and toward some foreign Enemy? Before the peasants with pitchforks come marching up the hill, better to put a sign on the road: TRAFFIC DIVERTED – NO ENTRY.

A cowed people will obey it – at least so our rulers hope and pray. That’s the only time they do pray, come to think of it: not even the war-god is honored by their invocations. They worship him in silence, in secret caverns under the earth, accompanied only by the twin devils of hubris and bloodlust.

In public they are advocates of peace, and more: “world peace,” which they mean to impose by force of arms. “World leadership” – which they tout as a divine gift from God. “Benevolent world hegemony” – which they proclaim as a duty, and a destiny. Their delusions are global in scope, along with their sins.

The warlords of Washington don’t thinks small: their vision is Napoleonic – or don’t you mean Satanic? I suppose it all depends on if you’re the victor or the vanquished. Yet all Americans are vanquished by their Pyrrhic “victory.” That’s the irony of our conundrum; in “victory,” the seeds of our impending defeat are sown, as the tendrils of decline creep steadily over the skyscrapers and monuments of our great cities, slowly pulling them down….

It’s a bare-bones Christmas for many in the US: the only ones to get presents are the banks – which have been bailed out and are still being bailed out – and the politically-connected, including especially our old friends of the Military-Industrial Complex, the croniest of the crony-capitalists. Villains prosper while the rest are fired, foreclosed, and foreordained to suffer for the sins of their rulers.

Yet rebellion is in the air. Without bread, Americans will be consoled by circuses for only so long. One more bailout, another high-ranking government official caught with his hand in the till, one more indication that the Marie Antoinettes who inhabit the District of Columbia believe themselves above the law – and then watch out. It could get ugly.

Under these circumstances, the call to bring the troops home may be taken up by some in Washington – who will need them here to deal with another kind of insurgency.

This may well be our last Christmas in the old America – an America untouched by serious civil turmoil since the era of Lincoln, unbowed by the business cycle since the days of FDR. We are living out the very last hours of the American Century, and all of Mitt Romney’s appeals to nostalgia and belligerent nationalism cannot reconstruct what has been lost. The peerless engine of American economic supremacy has run out of gas, and is sputtering on the false fuel of fiat money.

In the end, we will find what we already knew: that we cannot print out way out of debt – not without destroying our currency, and ourselves, in the process. In the end, the only way out is war – or Empire’s end.

The invocation of a wartime” emergency” is precisely what our rulers require at this particular moment in our history: for them, war would be a blessing. Are prices hitting the roof – has inflation impoverished us all – is it getting nearly impossible to live? Well then, we can blame our “leaders” or we can blame some Foreign Devil? Which story will the “mainstream” media be peddling – and on whose behalf? To pose the question is to answer it.

The window is closing rapidly, but we still have a choice of roads: we can reject the path taken by our government, and the leadership of both parties, and venture into the nearly uncharted wilderness, down a little-known trail leading to deflation. This means a radical contraction, in every sense – one that allows us to revamp, retool, and redeem ourselves, while ridding ourselves of the burden of empire and debt. The sins of past profligacy and overweening pride must be paid for: there is no avoiding that. Delaying the day of reckoning will only prolong the pain – and block the path to full recovery. Is there a leader who will tell us what we do not want to hear, and summon the bravery to inspire endurance?

This is a decision our rulers will never make, for reasons I needn’t bother going into: they would sooner commit mass suicide than give up their delusions of grandeur, which infuse the very air of Washington, D.C., and induce hallucinations in its drugged inhabitants. Especially prevalent is the hallucination of “American exceptionalism” – the self-infatuated idea that we, alone among the nations of the world, are exempt from the wrath of the gods, who would normally punish such hubris as ours.

We will learn too late there are no exceptions to the natural laws of morality and economics: that wars of conquest invite “blowback” and that bankrupt empires don’t last long.

It’s your last Christmas in the old, prosperous, untouched America – a benevolent land of plenty, where opportunity was limited only by ambition and the knowledge of tyranny and privation was second-and -third hand. So please, by all means make it a memorable one.