Category Archives: Commentary

Editorial opinion on news and current events.

What you need to know about “Astroturfing”, otherwise known as organized lying.

“Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to the totalitarian state”

~ Noam Chomsky

I’m no fan of Noam Chomsky, but he got that right.

I suspect that a good deal of what we see, hear, and read in the public domain is manipulated.  I posted on one aspect of that, the kowtowing of media companies to the wishes of advertisers and sponsors, here: When Truth Doesn’t matter. (Come back to it later?)

Now, deliberate programs of mis-direction, mis-information, obfuscation, and ridicule have a name: “Astroturfing

Here’s Sharyl Attkisson (@SharlAttkisson) on the faking of grassroots movements as campaigns of propaganda in the service of political, corporate, or other special interests.

I dislike the term, but here it’s apt; this is “must see“.

As a take-away, here’s what you need to watch out for when you’re trying to work out whether some position, opinion, or argument is truth or lying propaganda:

Charged language.

The truth usually comes calm and factual.  Liars and spinners use emotive rhetoric to cloak their lack of facts and proof.

Ad Hominem attacks.

If you can’t beat the argument, attack your opponent’s character.  Ridicule, discredit, impugn.  Straight from the Saul Alinsky playbook.

Questioning those who question authority.

Classic misdirection.  If they’re not questioning “authority”, but rather, questioning those that do, you have to wonder about their motivation.

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And because I fear that there’s serious astroturfing going on at a macro-political level, we’ll give the last word to a master of lying big:

“We have made the Reich by propaganda”

~ Joseph Goebbels

When truth doesn’t matter.

Update ~ 25Feb15

Here’s a point-in-case of news being suppressed out of deference to a large-scale advertiser:

Peter Oborne quits Daily Telegraph over HSBC tax scandal reporting

That we don’t hear more often about journalists quitting over similar issues means either that that too is kept quiet or that most mainstream reporters value their paycheck more than their integrity.

See the original post (below) for the full context.

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I was under the impression that the “mainstream media” – the big TV news channels, metropolitan daily newspapers, national magazines, and their respective online presences – were essentially mouthpieces of the government because they’re mostly owned by the same small clique of vested-interest cronies.

While that may be at least partially true, I always questioned what that meant in terms of changing administrations.  Would not the government of the day seek a different editorial slant depending on which ideological propaganda (left or right) they wish to broadcast?

Listening to Paul Craig Roberts in an interview with Stefan Molyneux, I’ve learned there is another parameter at play.

It seems the major news media are controlled by a handful of companies, run now by executives whose goal is not journalism, but rather, advertising revenue.  They are dependent on the government for their broadcasting licenses, and so are beholden not only to whichever administration is in power, but to an entrenched bureaucracy, the constituents of which, by the nature of their upbringing, their education, and their zeitgeist, are left-leaning progressive liberals with a vested interest in keeping ‘the masses” uninformed, or worse, misinformed.

So, the government wants to operate nefariously with impunity and needs certain “open secrets” to remain unknown (to most).  Mainstream media is happy to “toe the line” because as long as they have “sensation”, they’re happy.  Truth is optional when it comes to attracting readers/viewers, and thereby ratings, and thereby advertising revenue.

How else can one explain the almost complete lack of coverage of the tapped conversation (see below) between US Assistant Secretary of State Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt, which clearly reveals that the current US administration is conspiring to steer events in the Ukraine?  Those using only legacy news media sources were titillated by the “sensational” revelation that Pyatt expressed rude disdain for the EU, while hearing nothing of the conspiratorial nature of the conversation.

It cannot be that any self-respecting journalist would not be eager to report the far more important essence of the story, so one can only assume that editorial teams were under instruction to misdirect attention to the cussing and to ignore the scheming.

Interested individuals could of course find the truth, but that doesn’t matter.  It never matters that a tiny minority knows the truth in politics, the truth in economics, the truth in philosophy.  When the entrenched politico-economic power has a megaphone blaring its propaganda 24/7, the voice of reason is not heard by enough to make a difference*.

*But that will never stop us from trying.

Yellen Janet and the Infinite Inflation

Update 21st June, 2014

Below I liken central banks’ monopoly on money creation to a Ponzi scheme.  Who’s raking in the benefits?  See Bill Bonner’s latest post at Acting-Man:

Proof the Stock Market Is Being Rigged

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Devalued US Dollar

If I said to you that the country needs a central bank, the goal of which is to issue money, smooth out the economic cycle, ensure full employment, and act as a buffer against bank runs, you’d rightly have some questions.  A good many of them, answered honestly, would negate the need for such an institution and put a swift end to the proposal.  Leaving those questions aside, assuming simply that I’ve convinced you that the problems I’ve enunciated are real and my “Federal Reserve Bank” is the remedy, there’s still one question you’d likely ask.  It has to do with the value of the notes that I issue as money – my “legal tender”.

One of the fundamental characteristics of any medium to be used as money is its ability to transmit value (purchasing power) safely, over distance, and over time.  You want to feel comfortable that the money you trade for today will be accepted later by anyone & everyone and at the same value as it is today.  So, a fair question for you to ask would be, “Will the notes you issue hold their purchasing power?  If I give up something today in exchange for your “Federal Reserve Notes”, will those notes buy me back that same something in the years to come?”  If I answered “No, in a century or so those notes will buy back about 2% of what you give for them today”, you’d reject my proposal out of hand.  If I answered “Yes”, I’d be lying.

So the real question now is: how is it that the currency issued by the US Federal Reserve has lost 98% of its purchasing power since the Fed began operations?  And, as long as we’re on the subject, where did that purchasing power go?

The sad truth is that the devaluation of the dollar has been concomitant to the transfer of purchasing power from the people who created the wealth, (that money was supposed to store), to the issuers of the fiat currency, their cronies, and sundry hangers-on; – the share-holders in the federal reserve banking system and their buddies in “well-connected” businesses, the recipients of “government benefits”, the multitude of beneficiaries of government-mandated “easy credit”, and a succession of government administrations and their army of bureaucrats, – all of whom have, over the last century or so, padded their nests nicely with wealth created by others.

The theft, which is what it is, is perpetrated via support from the trick of inflation.  Contrary to popular belief, inflation is not “rising prices”.  And contrary to a slightly more sophisticated view, inflation is not “an increase in the money supply”.  No, inflation, the reduction in purchasing power of the dollars in your pocket, is the result of an increase in counterfeit credit, which is what US Dollars (and every other fiat currency in the world), ultimately is.  Every US Dollar is an IOU, backed not by unconsumed wealth, as it should be, but by the US Government’s ability to borrow endlessly.  Its a Ponzi Scheme on the grandest of scales.  The notes of the Federal Reserve are created more or less out of thin air, and each new note issued takes a little of your purchasing power away.

So, when Janet Yellen says that “A high degree of monetary accommodation remains warranted…”, meaning that the US will continue to inflate its currency to a target of 2% per annum, remember what that means:  your dollars will buy you a little bit less every year.  Every dollar you possess, by its very nature, is slowly, but very surely, eroding your wealth.  You might also keep in mind that Ponzi Schemes, by their nature, sooner or later run out of suckers and collapse.

Related reading:  In case you didn’t click on the “counterfeit credit” link above, consider clicking here now.  It’s an article by Keith Weiner, explaining in detail and with far greater expertise than I, the true nature of inflation. 

May you live in interesting times – The Joker versus The Thief

Update 8th June, 2015

Maybe read the post below first, take a glance at the other updates, then click the link below.  Ignore the conspirator editorial slant, which may or may not have a basis in truth.  The important thing to know is that when the US Dollar loses it’s place as the world’s “reserve currency”, major change on a geopolitical scale will not be far behind.

Russia Gets Very Serious on De-dollarizing

Update 7th August, 2014

You might like to read the article first, starting below at “Interesting times indeed”.  If you’ve read it already, you’ll know that Putin’s main weapon against the west, albeit a self-destructive one, is to hasten the decline of the US Dollar as the World’s defacto reserve currency.  Looks like he’s drawing his gun.

Russia Sanctions Accelerate Risk to Dollar Dominance

Update 19th June, 2014

The currency war heat’s up.  Given the huge implications, the lack of coverage by the major agencies, (Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, etc.) is noteworthy.

Putin Advisor Proposes “Anti-Dollar Alliance” To Halt US Aggression Abroad

Update:  9th June, 2014

As alluded to below, it now seems Russia is playing its “currency card”, moving to alternatives to the Greenback.  Via The Financial Times, see:

Russian companies prepare to pay for trade in renminbi

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Interesting times indeed.

Watching the dual between Putin and Obama would be instructive (and amusing) if the consequences of the battle were not so dire.  Both are amoral, both are ideologically wrong, and both are tragic second-handers whose self-image is based on what others think.  It’s a fight that can only end in tears all around.

Young Putin V Obama 1.2

No matter who wins, we don’t.

In one corner you have Obama, the protected species; untouchable.  An inexperienced amateur bumbling his way through somehow, glossing the mess over with his silver tongue, and getting a hand-up from mainstream journalists raised on the same liberal-leftist fare, for whom Obama is the flag-bearer.

He’s got a good percentage (perhaps half) of the US electorate behind him, not because they share an ideology (they’re either too stupid or too skeptical to speak of ideology), but because they share in the loot that Obama and his cronies are dishing out.

He’s got Europe on side, though increasingly reluctantly.  They know somehow that he’s a fraud, but he’s only doing now what they’ve been admonishing America to do for decades.  Careful what you wish for – you might get it.

In the other corner is Putin, a professional bureaucrat, raised on subterfuge; a hard-nose bully.

And he is the hardest kind of bully.  Most, when someone finally stands up and slaps them down, shrink in shame and self-pity.  Putin though, is the rarer breed.  He means it and he’s tough.  You could whack him to the point of concussion and he’d still drag himself up and fight on.  The tighter the corner you back him into, the harder he’ll fight.  Worst of all, his small-penis-compensatory machismo endears him to a large majority of his countrymen, most likely because it embodies their own national insecurity; their yearning for the Motherland to be strong and prominent once more.

Third-man in is Europe… well, really Germany, who, as the “economic engine” increasingly dictates EU policy.  They would love to take Putin down; the echoes of 1938 are loud and frighteningly clear.  But, the principled stand required would leave them cold.  Literally.  Russia controls enough of their energy supply to make their winters very uncomfortable and very expensive.  For a generation raised on the pillow of welfare and under the blanket of US security, that kind of hardship is unthinkable.  And throwing principles like national sovereignty, justice, and honor under the bus in the name of “keeping the peace” is easy for a culture so thoroughly steeped in post-modern relativism.  When it’s “your truth” versus “my truth”, apathy, pragmatism and compromise reign supreme.

So how will it play out?

Russia may take Eastern Ukraine, make incursions into the “Stans”, start sniffing at Belarus; but these “geographic plays” are secondary.  The primary weapon Russia holds is financial.  The USD is on the brink of losing it’s status as the world’s reserve counterfeit money currency.  If Putin initiates acceptance of other currencies in payment for oil and gas, that will push the USD into the abyss.  It will be like removing the bottom-most layer in the house-of-cards that is our global monetary system.

My guess is the only reason that hasn’t yet happened, by Russian or any other hand (say, the Chinese), is that the resultant economic crash and societal chaos will make the Great Depression look benign.  Even the worst of bullies are loath to start a fire that is likely to burn them too.

But if Obama et al. continue to up the ante, sooner or later their bluff will be called.  And if they back-off, and “The West” capitulates, letting Russia off the hook this time (sacrificing some of Russia’s near neighbors in the process), the Sword of Damocles that is our massive, debt-driven ponzi-scheme of a monetary system will still be hanging by the thinnest of threads.  It will then be the next “crisis” in the Middle East, China or maybe even the US, that brings it crashing down.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, when the dust has settled, a good deal of your wealth is gone, and we’re resigned to a new era of dark-ages-like toil and hardship for “the masses”, don’t worry about Barry and Vlad.  They’ll no doubt be enjoying a little time-out together on Barry’s Hawaiian estate or Vlad’s Moscovy Dacha, with some of their pals from the UN, the IMF, and the World Bank.

Joker and Thief

A people get the leader they deserve.

Ayn Rand once observed that a people get the leader they deserve.  Personally, I find that in Obama and Putin that rings sadly true – the US has become frivolous, complacent, and image-obsessed; a Joker, while Russia is a force-driven, jingoistic bully with a chip on its shoulder; a thief.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd. Good Leader?

FOR NON-AUSTRALIANS who may not be aware of the saga, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently maneuvered himself back into the top job – some would say ruthlessly – after a lengthy and very strategic campaign of back-room deal-making, and a character assassination of Julia Gillard (who, to be fair, came to power in the same way, ousting Rudd in 2010).

I am non-partisan in politics because I see no good leaders on any side of the political divide, and because the ideological difference between Liberal/Labour, Republican/Democrat, Tory/Labour, is one of degree.  Fundamentally, they are all equally bad.

So, with apologies to those of you who might like or support Rudd, here’s a short video (6 minutes) vilifying his modus operandi.  I post it here as an example of what poor leadership looks like, and Rudd sure ticks a lot of “bad leader” boxes.

Didactic?  Check.

KR Selfie.  Probably not a good idea.

Nobody to blame but himself.

Bombastic and Rude?  Check.

Inaccessible and aloof?  Check.

Difficult to work with?  Check?

Micro-manager with inability to delegate?  Check?

Non-consultative?  Check.

False charm?  Check?

Poor negotiation skills?  Check.

No commitment or loyalty to team?  Check.

Power hungry?  Check.

Lack of integrity and trustworthiness?  Check.

On to the video; but: viewer caution advised.  You kids watching at home:  this is not a leadership example you want to follow.

Should leaders keep secrets? What goes on at #Bilderberg Meetings?

Secret society or amorphous self-selected elite?

Secret society or amorphous self-selected elite?

IF you worked for a company whose mission was unclear, whose leaders held secret meetings about which they refused to talk, but at which you suspected they might be making deals that you’d not want to be a party to, you’d rightly consider moving on; finding a more transparently run organization to engage with.

The leaders of private entities – corporations, clubs, and other non-public institutions – have the right to not be transparent;  to make deals and to collaborate in any way they please, so long as they do not violate anyone’s rights.

You have the right to engage with such organizations, or not, as you see fit.

Governments are another story…

Governments, and their bureaucratic functions, and all organizations funded by taxes, do not have that right.

Even government security departments and Intelligence agencies must operate in a fully recorded and transparent manner, though rightly their doings are held away from the light for several decades to protect sources, operatives and state security.

Government is a servant of the people and must be fully accountable, 24/7/365.  No secret deals, no unrecorded meetings.  With governments, everything is “on record”.

So what are we to make of the annual, “invite-only” Bilderberg meetings, at which representatives of government meet “off the record” with “captains of industry”, royalty, and the controllers of the world’s largest banks?

Should we as tax-payers not demand of our representatives that they disclose what must surely be discussions of far-reaching and momentous consequence?  Such a gathering of “luminaries” is not convened to discuss the weather.

Good leaders share information.

Good leaders pursue a vision that’s in-step with the desires of those they lead.  Good leaders do not presume to “know best” and to therefore keep secrets for “the good of the people”.  Good leaders are happy to speak on record, as they have nothing to hide.

We can only assume that those “leaders” attending Bilderberg meetings do have something to hide, and are pursuing a vision to which many of us would be opposed.

For 2015:

Attendees

Official Agenda

BBC Article  For what it’s worth.

Some interesting comment from the “New World Order” conspiracy perspective (I can’t vouch for Paul Joseph Watson):

Some truly alarming trends – the move towards “cashless economies”, limits on trading in precious metals, identification chips, global economic controls, and global intelligence gathering are all ominous developments and to be guarded against by those who value freedom and liberty.  Even if there’s no central guiding conspiracy, a civilization can just as easily stumble into the conditions for Totalitarianism.

Who’s in charge in North Korea?

The Puppet Tyrant

The Puppet Tyrant

I’M sure I’m not the only one who suspects that boy-tyrant Kim Jong Un is a puppet.  This article from AP shed’s light on who might be pulling the strings.

Circumstances in North Korea highlight one of the reasons why I dislike the term “influence” as a defining characteristic of leadership.  Who ever is in charge there, they certainly have influence.  Complete influence.

Influence implies something that one person has over another.  That may well be achieved through rational persuasion, but it may just as easily be, and so often is, achieved through force, coercion, threat, or bribery.

People should follow a leader not because of his or her influence on them per se, but rather because they are inspired by that person’s word and deed.  Inspiration that moves them to the conviction that the cause is good, that it aligns with their own causes, and that to unite is in their own rational self-interest.

Following out of a sense of self-preservation, whether trying to keep your job, a spot on the team, or, as is sadly the case for millions around the world, your life, is only ever a temporary course, and never leads to engagement.  How can you make common cause with a leader or an organization that leads you like that?

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