Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How To Fix The Country

Due to all of the talk and histrionic hyperbole over the debt ceiling, you'd think the apocalypse was imminent.  The truth of the matter is that we have two political parties who can't cut spending in a meaningful way because they are bought and paid for by interests who depend on that spending to bolster their bottom line.  There are plenty of areas to cut spending, but there are also plenty of areas to raise revenue. 

Americans by and large have benefited from 40 years of irresponsible bookkeeping.  The great problem of our republic is that Americans don't have a problem with entitlements.  In point of fact, they rather like their entitlements.  They just don't want to pay for them.  The bottom 51% of taxpayers pay no federal income taxes on average.  If you're getting a tax credit for your children, chances are you'll take in far more in refunds than you ever paid in to the system in taxes. 

Debt is as American as apple pie, and what most Americans don't realize is just how bad the problem has been over our nation's history.  From the dawn of our republic, our government has run deficits left and right.  There are two attitudes towards this: one which says that this historical reality is proof positive that deficits don't really matter; and another which says that deficits are just philosophically wrong because you should pay as you go with government programs. 

It is a great irony of our two major entitlements that they are pay as you go programs with withholding taxes specifically designated to fund their operation.  Social Security and Medicare are paid for upfront out of withholding taxes that are taken out of the paychecks of current workers in order to fund the benefits that go out to current retirees.  As a man who does not believe in redistribution schemes, I object to both programs on those grounds.  I call redistribution what I believe it to be: theft.  You take from Peter to pay Paul, with the justification that Paul was once plundered to pay James back when Paul was a young man who was still working.  Only in politics can two wrongs give rise to a right. 

However, the fundamental soundness of the two programs cannot be doubted.  Unless you have chronic high unemployment, the two are self-funding and self-sustaining.  In point of fact, both would have a huge windfall right now if it weren't for the fact that under Reagan, the hike in withholding generated a surplus that is loaned to Congress automatically by law.  As a result, in addition to our catastrophic national debt of some $14 trillion, we have an IOU to Social Security of over $2.5 trillion.  If that $2.5 trillion had been locked away, managed and invested properly in steady yields, we wouldn't be questioning the long-term solvency of Social Security. 

Americans need to understand that they can have whatever they want so long as they pay for it; moreover, they need to understand that even in the event they pay for it upfront, they'll have to keep a vigilant eye on Congress, whose members are always looking for more money to plunder in order to cover their deficits and overruns.  We have 535 elected thieves, and if Social Security were a private retirement program, all 535 of its overseers would be in jail right now for breaching their fiduciary duty and embezzling the surpluses of the retirement fund they bore a fiduciary duty to oversee. 

Having 535 career thieves overseeing your money is never a good move, especially when those thieves are elected in a system that on average returns over 90% of their peers to office when election time comes.  Incumbency is a problem, and an indicator of just how difficult it is to effectuate change in Washington. 

Likewise, we don't tend to look at a significant portion of our federal budget as an entitlement, but the truth of the matter is that all federal funding becomes an entitlement in one way or another over time.  Our defense budget is nothing more than a gigantic subsidy to defense contractors.  Given the sheer size of our military spending, and its relationship to our deficits and overall debt, our military is a threat to our economy.  Allow me to explain what I mean. 

The American economy depends largely on private investment to grow and renew itself.  When the federal government spends money it doesn't have, it has to borrow money from the marketplace that would otherwise go to investment in private enterprises.  That money doesn't go towards starting new businesses, or research and development into new products or ideas; instead, it goes to perpetuate a metastasizing federal government that consumes nearly a quarter of our GDP.  Combined with state and local governments, government spending consumes a little over half of everything we produce in this country.  Since much of that is financed with deficit borrowing, the bill is actually much more substantial, because it has to be paid back over time with interest. 

Our military spending exceeds the entire military expenditure of every other country in the world combined. Our navy is bigger than the next 13 navies combined, and 11 of those navies are possessed by our allies.  We are told that we must spend so much money because we are threatened by enemies abroad, and those enemies are funded by nations like Iran, Syria, and North Korea.  The significance of those three nations in this argument is simple: their combined military expenditures do not total more than 1/60th of our military expenditures. 

9/11 cost $500,000.  The greatest military and intelligence apparatus in the world was undone by a group of men whose entire operation cost a mere half a million dollars.  Due to the political sensitivity of our relationship with Saudi Arabia, we couldn't trust our government to follow the money trail wherever it would lead.  As a result, there are responsible parties who played a role in funding the deadliest attack on American soil in history who are at large and they are likely funding more attacks as we speak. 

You don't need more money to combat that.  You need common sense and willingness to pursue American interests without regard for the relationships between the Carlyle Group and the Bin Laden family.  Our government has thrown gobs of money at a War on Terror that has done little to address the issue of terror.  In point of fact, humanitarian aid is siphoned off by the Taliban in Afghanistan to the tune of $1 billion a year.  That's how much we pay the Taliban to allow us to shuttle humanitarian aid through the portions of Afghanistan we don't control.   It's counterproductive to our national security, and an insult to the American taxpayer. 

We've thrown a dollar at a problem that required a dime spent wisely.  Wise spending has never been our government's strong suit.  It took us almost nine years to get Osama bin Laden, when he was living in a mansion in Western Pakistan for three of those years. 

I have a government whose agencies can listen in on the conversations of anyone in the world due to their sophisticated communications surveillance abilities, but it took them nine years to locate the world's most famous terrorist leader.  We can take pictures of license plates from outer space with satellite reconnaisance.  We know where all the terror training camps are located because our ability to surveil using satellites, but we aren't taking them out.  Are we really that concerned with the national sovereignty of Pakistan, so much so that our own national security and interests have to be placed on a backburner to appease a regime whose leaders and establishment offer aid and comfort to our enemies? 

It's absurd.  The problems that confront us are not insignificant, but they are also not as complicated or intractable as our leaders make them out to be.  It's not like we don't know how to go about solving the issues that confront our nation, either fiscally or militarily. The problem is that the personal agendas and partisan interests of our elected officials, appointed bureaucrats, and government employees are making it virtually impossible to steer the ship of state in any direction conducive to America's long-term interests and short-term needs. 

Let me give you a few illustrations of where we might begin to cut our nation's spending:

We have a Pentagon who failed to prevent 9/11, failed to prevent the first World Trade Center bombing, failed to prevent or foresee either of those two attacks plus the African embassy bombings or the attack on the U.S.S. Stark.  We have an intelligence apparatus in the NSA and the CIA whose employees did not generate enough actionable intelligence to prevent the aforementioned attacks, or the Christmas Day bomber.  Ordinary Americans prevented that young man from detonating a bomb in his underwear.  We have an ATF in Tuscon, Arizona that is smuggling guns over the border to the Mexican drug cartels.  We have a DEA that has failed miserably at making a dent in the drug trade over the past thirty years.  We have a Minerals Management Service whose employees were too busy sleeping with the employees of the companies they were supposed to be overseeing.  They were also doing crystal meth and watching porn on the job, which explains why they failed to prevent an ecological disaster at the Deepwater Horizon. 

We have the Securities and Exchange Commission, whose employees were too busy watching porn at work to foresee and prevent the financial crisis.  Back at the Pentagon, the employees were busy watching and swapping child pornography in a scandal that also reached over to NASA employees.  We also have a Pentagon that lucked up on 9/11, because on 9/10, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had to admit before the press that Pentagon couldn't account for $2.3 trillion in spending.  That's right, they lost more money than the entire federal budget outlayed in 2001. 

We have the United States Postal Service, which hemorraghes some $4 billion a year on average.  We could take that money and invest in making the United States a WiMax hotspot, virtually rendering the Postal Service even more obsolete than it already is.  I can pay my bills online, e-file my taxes, communicate instantaneously with any friend or relative on Facebook, and the Post Office isn't relevant to my life.  I can do this at any coffeeshop or bookstore I frequent for free.  At most, I can buy a drink for a buck or two, and pay every bill I owe in a month, an act which would cost me at least three dollars in stamps if I chose to mail those bills. 

We have the Department of Education, whose leadership got into hot water for paying columnists to praise No Child Left Behind in speeches, editorials, and on television as pundits.  As a former teacher, I can tell you the legislation should have been entitled Every Child Held Back.  The federal government essentially passed the legislation and then failed to fund it for a couple of years, which effectively meant that states had to come up with the funding to meet the regulatory requirements of the legislation on their own.  We spend more money than any other OECD nation per pupil on education, only to rank in the thirties on our outcomes. 

We have the NSA, which, as I mentioned before, could tell you about my online habits right down to my jaunts over to to watch a little porn every now and then, but that agency could not have told you a damned thing about the 9/11 hijackers and their phone communications that would have prevented 9/11.  They can read your emails, listen in on your phone calls, and access your private information, and they did so in violation of federal law quite frequently during the Bush Administration. They also wasted over a billion dollars on a search program that didn't pan out before going back to an earlier program developed in house that cost exponentially less.  Oh, and their directors and upper management were going back and forth between the NSA and the private contractor who developed that waste of a billion dollars program. 

We have the FBI, which now creates homegrown terrorists by soliciting alienated teenagers to engage in bomb plots in Washington state.  This is reminiscent of that ATF program which used your tax dollars to run guns over the border to the Mexican cartels, and one of those guns was used to kill a Border Patrol agent, just so you know.  We have a Department of Homeland Security, under whose auspices the TSA now gropes six year old girls, searches infants in diapers, and engages in naked X-ray surveillance of airline passengers.   The TSA had a little problem when one of its employees got a little angry at his coworkers for making fun of his small penis after they saw his goods during a training session on the scanner. 

We also have the reality that our FBI and our financial  regulators knew that fraud was rampant in the lead up to the mortgage crisis, but did little to utilize their considerable resources and legal authority to prosecute those responsible before they imploded the world economy.   We have a government that spent $23.7 trillion in loans, guarantees, and outright giveways to bail out bad mortgages that totaled a little over $7 trillion. The entire U.S. mortgage market is a tad north of $21 trillion.   The reason they had to do that was the fact that our government legalized rampant securitization of those mortgages, thereby exacerbating the problem. 

In the aftermath of those bailouts, every major bank is still massively leveraged and their profits are nothing more than an accounting trick, one that is now legal courtesy our regulators that enables the banks to avoid reporting their toxic assets.  We have 9% official unemployment, and real unemployment in the neighborhood of 16-20% . 

In essence, it's not that we don't have places to cut, given the fact that we're clearly overspending for a product that doesn't deliver as promised.  We have plenty of places to cut, but we can't because the great impetus for government spending or cutting comes not from the hoi polloi, but rather from the faux capitalists who line our corporate boardrooms. 

Everytime someone slides their debit card to spend their welfare benefits, J.P. Morgan gets a fee because J.P. Morgan administers the debit card in various states.  State welfare programs are administered by defense contractors like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.  If you think that these companies are going to support cutting welfare programs when those programs are generating fees for their stockholders, think again. 

However, like everyone else, these companies don't want to pay for the gravy train. They avoid the corporate income tax rate of 35% and pay on average some 20%.  In fact, some of them make a profit on their taxes by getting billions of dollars in refunds, like G.E.  Now, as someone who proposes abolishing the corporate income tax altogether in order to avoid the situations we had under George W. Bush, where we took in $150 billion or so in corporate tax revenues while giving out $170 billion in corporate welfare, I was surprised at how resistant businessmen are to getting a free ride on their taxes.  They want those refunds, and they're willing to keep the existing corporate taxation regime in place to keep their spots at the public trough. 

All of the posturing, and all of the bloviating, and all of the rhetoric is just nonsense on both sides of the partisan divide.  This country needs an enema.  We have plenty of places to cut spending, and we have plenty of places to raise revenue by eliminating graft and waste.  We also have the ability to raise revenue by closing tax loopholes and turning away from gimmickry like mortgage tax credits that underwrite the down payments of people who arguably shouldn't have been buying a house in the first place...because they lacked a down payment! 

Democrats and Republicans alike are going to have to come to terms with the fact that the enemy is the political class.  There are a few decent people on Capitol Hill, but the fact of the matter is that they aren't effective at doing anything other than highlighting the obvious.  If you aren't getting the job done, you don't need to be on the job.  It's time for us to eliminate this issue once and for all by banning remuneration for elected representatives.  That's right, being a representative or a senator is a volunteer proposition.  You're doing it for free.  And while we're at it, we can eliminate the conflicts of interest by requiring those who do get elected to divest themselves of all investments.  As it turns out, members of Congress do a lot better than average investors in the stock market, and I wonder why that is, given that they sit in oversight positions of the companies they invest in and have access to information average investors do not have access to.  Martha Stewart served  time for insider trading, but given the rates of return most Congressmen achieve in their investing, it's common sense to assume that something foul is afoot.  And term limits need to be imposed as well, given that we have a 90% or higher reelection rate on average over the past 50 years to both houses of Congress. 

No pensions, no healthcare, nothing. If you want to go to Washington, D.C., and serve as an elected representative, you'd better have an additional source of income.  I'll be reasonable and propose a daily per diem for Congressmen who are in session, much like we had in the early years of our nation. It wasn't until 1855 that Congressmen started making an annual salary. Given that our Congress doesn't really stay in session for more than half a year, and many Congressmen miss their obligations during that time to go schmooze at fundraisers and golf junkets, I don't think we need to be paying them $174,000 a year.  Maybe we could have dormitories for them. 

It's time for our government to change it's attitude and it's time for us to reclaim that government.  It won't happen overnight, but the best message we can send in 2012 is a message against incumbents.  Vote them all out, regardless of their affiliations and your personal feelings.  Send them home, because they aren't getting the job done and they haven't for some time. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Conspiracy Theories: The Utter Implausibility of Mainstream Narratives Part VI

You don't say...

Author's Note: Due to the fact that various materials I've sought and located are late in arriving for my research, I've had to delay this series several times. To those of you who read regularly, my deepest apologies.  I will have new material up as soon as I can verify central points with the material once I have it in my possession.

What Witnesses Saw (cont'd from Parts II & III)

Brenda Wells

If there is a mystery figure in the story of Diana's death, it is one London native working as a secretary in Paris by the name of Brenda Wells.  A 40 year old Londoner, Wells told police that she was forced off of the road by a motorcycle following Diana's Mercedes.  She also indicated she had seen a black car, possibly a Fiat Uno, enter the tunnel after the Mercedes carrying Diana and Dodi.  She also stated that there "very strong lights like flashes," an observation consistent with the witness accounts of Francois Levistre and Brian Carey Anderson.

Ms. Wells also indicated that it wasn't until after the crash that paparazzi on motorcycles arrived.  According to Ms. Wells, there were five or six motorcycles that showed up after the crash with photographers who began taking photos and shouting that it was Diana in the crash.

However, in the immediate aftermath of Diana's death, Ms. Wells vanished.  Moreover, though internet report after internet report refers to a Daily Mirror article on her witness statements, the Internet has effectively been scrubbed of any original articles whatsoever.  The Daily Mirror has no archived mentions of Brenda Wells on its website.  There are rumors that Mrs. Wells simply sojourned temporarily to the French countryside in order to escape the media crush, but her whereabouts are uncertain at best.

Brenda Wells has effectively been relegated to an urban legend, a figure whose name appears on any number of conspiracy oriented websites but who has no trace of her existence beyond those sites.  According to the various accounts given, Wells was located on the slip road just before the tunnel entrance when she was blocked and run off of the road by motorcycles.  We know that Wells existed because she appears in the Paget Report and is mentioned in the inquests into Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed's death.

Her original statement in regards to the accident appeared in The Daily Mirror, but that article and every reference to Wells has since been excised from The Daily Mirror and every reputable mainstream news site.  Here is what Wells allegedly had to say to police:

'After a party with my friends, I was returning to my home. A motorbike with two men forced me off the road. It was following a big car. Afterwards in the tunnel there were very strong lights like flashes. After that, a black car arrived. The big car had come off the road. I stopped and five or six motorbikes arrived and started taking photographs. They were crying 'It's Diana' Brenda's evidence calls into question initial claims that pursuing paparazzi were to blame. She makes the first mention of photographers after the accident when 'five or six' paparazzi arrived and took pictures. But last night, despite extensive inquiries in the Paris suburb of Champignay sur Marne where she told police she lived, Brenda could not be located."

Wells' statement is yet another indication that there were extremely bright flashes in the tunnel before the crash that killed Henri Paul, Dodi Al-Fayed, and Princess Diana.  However, almost immediately after her original statements appeared in both The Daily Mirror and Agence-France-Presse, Wells was gone.  Moreover, in the years that followed her statements would be overlooked or ignored by subsequent investigations.  

To get another indication of how badly Wells' statements were mangled by the press in the immediate aftermath of Diana's death, consider the following three versions of those statements that appeared in various news outlets: 

"The whereabouts of a British secretary driving in the tunnel at the time of Diana's crash were also shrouded in mystery yesterday. London-born Brenda Wells, 40, told police how she was forced off the road by a motorbike following Diana's Mercedes at high speed. Ms. Wells also saw a dark-coloured car - possibly the Fiat Uno which has now become the focal point of the French probe into the crash. In her statement she claims: 'After a party with my friends, I was returning to my home. A motorbike with two men forced me off the road. It was following a big car. Afterwards in the tunnel there were very strong lights like flashes. After that, a black car arrived. The big car had come off the road. I stopped and five or six motorbikes arrived and started taking photographs. They were crying 'It's Diana.'.' Brenda's evidence calls into question initial claims that pursuing paparazzi were to blame. She makes the first mention of photographers AFTER (emphasis in original) the accident when 'five or six' paparazzi arrived and took pictures. But last night, despite extensive inquiries in the Paris suburb of Champigny sur Marne where she told police she lived, Brenda could not be located." 

                                               -The Daily Mirror

"…The Sunday Mirror meanwhile quoted a British secretary living in Paris who said she had seen a dark-coloured car following Diana's Mercedes. Brenda Wells said that she was driving toward the Alma tunnel when she was forced off the road by two motorbikes chasing a large car and that she then saw a black car pass her." 


 "The Mirror also said that another British witness, Londoner Brenda Wells, 40, told investigators she was driving back from a party and was forced off the road by a motorbike pursuing a big black car. Then came the crash. 'The big car had come off the road. I stopped and five or six motorbikes arrived and started taking photographs. They were crying, 'It's Diana.' The newspaper quoted her as having testified." 

                                               -Associated Press

Three different versions of the same event, appearing in three different print outlets, and there are three contradictory stories as to the number of motorcycles, flashes in the tunnel, and whether or not there were one or two cars that passed before her into the tunnel.  Yet both the Agence-France-Presse and Associated Press stories cite the Mirror, while subtly shifting the facts therein ever so slightly.  

Moreover, Brenda Wells never testified before the British inquest into the crash.  Despite the fact that she was at the slip road just before the opening of the Alma Tunnel, she was never called to testify before the inquest. Then again, over 500 pieces of evidence were kept from the jury at the British inquest into the crash that killed Diana, Dodi, and Henri Paul.  

Between the omission of critical evidence from the inquest, and the myriad variations on eyewitness testimony within the media, the mainstream narrative became a convoluted one at best.  Though many of the mainstream news reports drew on the same original sources, the facts that were presented varied down to critical details.  

The Details and the Devils: A Segue

It is not altogether unusual for governments to interfere with the news media when bureaucrats and officials decree it to be necessary.  In the report SUPPLEMENTARY DETAILED STAFF REPORTS ON INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES AND THE RIGHTS OF AMERICANS, dated April 23, 1976, the Select Committee To Study Governmental Operations found that Army personnel engaged in the following behavior:

"(2) Posing as Newsmen/Covert Photography. -- Army intelligence agents frequently posed as newsmen in order to photograph and interview "dissident" personalities. Photographing participants in political activities itself became a widely used intelligence technique.

During the Democratic National Convention of 1968, the Army, for the first time, sent undercover agents, disguised as television news reporters from a nonexistent television news company, to videotape interviews with leaders of the demonstrations. 100 This technique was repeated during subsequent demonstrations in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Baltimore. 101

A representative of the Reporter's Committee on Freedom of the Press also stated in congressional testimony that Army agents, posing as newsmen, interviewed H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael in New York in 1967; interviewed staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1968; and covered the 1969 Inaugural parade. 102

The Army began using photographers to take still and motion pictures of the participants in political demonstrations in 1967 during the March on the Pentagon. 103 This rapidly became an accepted collection technique for Army agents across the country."

In 1948, the Office of Special Projects, which would later be rechristened the Office of Policy Coordination, was ushered into existence under the direction of Frank Wisner.  Wisner created a program in late 1948, and the name of that program was Operation Mockingbird.  The goal of Mockingbird was to influence media coverage, both foreign and domestic.  Wisner worked with Washington Post figure Phillip Graham to recruit and run Mockingbird from within the domestic media, with great success.  A 1977 article in Rolling Stone named names where Mockingbird was concerned, and implicated Joseph Alsop, Stewart Alsop, Ben Bradlee, James Reston, Charles Douglas Jackson, Walter Pincus, William C. Baggs, Herb Gold, and Charles Bartlett.  These journalists wrote stories for the CIA, and were provided with classified information in order to achieve Mockingbird's stated goal of shaping public policy through the manipulation of the free press.  

To give you an idea of how influential Operation Mockingbird was, Joseph Alsop wrote articles for over 300 publications.  The men listed above were writers and editors for publications such as Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, and the Miami News.  Their readers never had any idea that the stories they were reading, and the viewpoints presented therein, were the direct result of an intelligence agency interfering with journalistic independence and objectivity.  People make their votes and cast their support for various programs and initiatives based on what they read in the newspapers and hear on the news.  

Mockingbird also served to facilitate U.S. support of various leaders and organizations in foreign countries, all without any real Congressional oversight, review, or accountability.  Its operatives could hand U.S. taxpayer money to candidates and organizations overseas with impunity.  In 1976, the Church Committee found that the CIA's activities with Operation Mockingbird and its various programs were costing taxpayers $265 million a year.  

Simply put, there is no such thing as an independent or free media, and there hasn't been for decades.  The great secret of our time is that we live in a totalitarian state, where the media presents a mainstream narrative in accordance with the purposes of those who govern.  This is still ongoing, given the Bush Administration's payments to journalists so that their No Child Left Behind agenda would be promoted in the media.  The payments were illegal, and these were not isolated incidents.  The Bush Administration used taxpayer dollars to create and disseminate video news releases that looked like actual news reports, only the news reporter, one Karen Ryan, was an actor.  Nothing in the videos identified them as creations of the Department of Education or the Department of Health and Human Services.  No one who saw the video news releases would not have connected them to the government, nor would they have had reason to point to the footage and call it for what it was: pure propaganda.  

Given these realities, you can view the mainstream narrative, with all of its contradictions and inconsistencies, in a context that better explains why those contradictions and inconsistencies exist.  The mass media isn't in the business of telling the truth or exposing real malfeasance.  It's in the misinformation business, and the mainstream narratives that we accept as truth very often depend on the promotion and maintenance of lies.  Some of those lies are obvious, and others are subtle.  However, to challenge the mainstream narratives is to challenge the massive propaganda apparatus that puts for the misinformation in the first place.  It is to set yourself up as a pariah, a crackpot, and a fringe lunatic.  

Why don't the details match up in the various reports?  Because they don't have to.  You may get bits and pieces of the truth, and acknowledgment that intelligence agencies were wiretapping Princess Diana in the days and weeks leading up to her death, but between the conflicting reports and the secondhand obfuscation of eyewitness testimony, what you have in the end is a Gordian knot of confusion.  

There's a term for it: the Mighty Wurlitzer.  Frank Wisner referred to his Operation Mockingbird apparatus as a Mighty Wurlitzer because he could control narratives from a centralized location, disseminating information and misinformation at will through the conduits and channels of the media, whose trusted figures he bribed and recruited to do his bidding.  

This is why a conspiracy theory is a conspiracy theory, rather than an alternative hypothesis.  The basic narrative is engineered by a central command, disseminated through the corporate-owned and intelligence community aligned media, and through the sheer might and scale of its power, all inconsistencies are rendered meaningless.  Anyone who attempts to fashion an alternative explanation is vilified as a crackpot or a lunatic, but most conspiracy theories begin with the identification of inconsistencies within the mainstream narrative.  The error begins when theorists try to solve the mystery by assigning blame.  

It's hard to avoid the impulse to crack the case, but one must be realistic.  If you accuse someone without proof, you've opened yourself up for charges of defamation.  Your identification of cracks in the foundation may be dead-on, but it will obscured by the legitimate criticisms you encounter for proceeding irresponsibly and unfairly.  It is enough to identify the holes in the existing theory, and to harp on those inconsistencies and obvious deceits over and over again until the theory collapses or is discredited.  You are not responsible for ferreting out the guilty parties.  You don't have the resources or the ability to do so in many cases, but what you do have is the ability to utilize common sense and the publicly available evidence to poke holes in the narrative put forth by the mainstream media and the power structure they represent.  

In doing so, you can discredit that power structure, and you can promote an attitude of wariness and distrust towards the government, the media, and the organs utilized by the power structure to promote their narratives.  You can plant the seeds for meaningful, albeit incremental, change.  Oftentimes old lies will simply be replaced with new lies, and your task of debunking will begin anew.  But what you must learn to do is simple: approach everything with a critical eye and deep suspicion.  You must be willing to divorce yourself from ideology and partisan loyalties to understand one basic flaw and impulse universally held by human beings: to lie in order to advance their cause.  Things that may be immoral or unethical in one context can be defended and justified in another context.  

We're all relativists in some way or another; it's just a matter of recognizing that each of us is fighting the same demon: a hubris which assures us of our basic rightness when we should be still searching for verification and a higher certainty than we currently and legitimately possess.  Test all things, holding fast to that which is true, and then test that which is true.  You may have made an error.  

The details are nothing compared to the devils within us all.  

What If?  

If we know that intelligence operatives have successfully posed as journalists, covered mainstream news events, and interviewed public figures in the past, how much of a stretch is it to believe that there were a few intelligence operatives in the pack of paparazzi who waited Princess Diana's departure from the Hotel Ritz?  It's not a stretch at all to entertain the possibility.  In point of fact, it's perfectly logical.  However, what would be a stretch would be alleging that this actually happened.  We have no proof that intelligence operatives had infiltrated the pool of paparazzi that night.  

We certainly don't know who any intelligence operatives might have been working for if they did in fact go to work that night.  We don't know why, either.  We must be careful about what we directly allege, and what we indirectly insinuate.  What we have are eyewitness accounts that indicate that Diana and Dodi were followed aggressively on their final day in Paris by what appeared to be paparazzi.  We have consistent reports that they were blocked from taking their original route up the Champs Elysee at the Place de la Concorde.  We have multiple reports that they encountered motorcycles and another vehicle on the way to the Alma Tunnel, and we have multiple reports that there was a flash in the tunnel before the crash occurred.  

We also have conflicting reports as to the color of the car they encountered, the number of motorcycles, and the behavior of those motorcycles.  What we have is a mainstream narrative so riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions as to be implausible on its face.  What if is the detour we are tempted to take, but what is is the relevant path we must stay on in order to continue discrediting the narrative.  

Next: A French Anglophile, a Fiat, And A Hole In The Head From Fire

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Fistful of Dollars: Lobbying and the Financial Crisis IMF Report

The IMF report "A Fistful of Dollars: Lobbying and the Financial Crisis" sums up the issue with the financial crisis quite nicely: the more money a bank spent on lobbying before the crisis, the worse its loans performed during and after the crisis.  Here, for your perusal and information, is that report in PDF format.  Enjoy.  



Afistfulofdollars10. Download this file

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