Tuesday, February 19, 2019

“An Unavoidable Global Recession”

“An Unavoidable Global Recession: The Warnings Get 
Louder As Worldwide Economic Numbers Continue To Deteriorate"
by Michael Snyder 

"Economic numbers all over the world continue to get worse, and as you will see below, even New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is now warning of “an unavoidable global recession”. Unfortunately, most Americans still have absolutely no idea that this is happening. Most ordinary citizens are still under the impression that everything is going to be just fine, but the numbers suggest otherwise. The Baltic Dry Index just plummeted to the lowest level that we have seen in three years, and this is yet another indication that the global trade war is causing widespread economic pain. And according to Bloomberg, global economic growth has now dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since the Great Recession: "The global economy’s loss of momentum has left expansion now looking like its weakest since the global financial crisis, a development that’s already sparked a dramatic shift among central banks. A UBS model suggests world growth slowed to a 2.1 percent annualized pace at the end of 2018, which it says would be the weakest since 2008-2009."

Unfortunately, it appears that things are getting even worse during the first few months of 2019. In North America, Europe and Asia, signs of a major downturn are seemingly everywhere: "Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much sign of that. China car sales dropped in January, and data last week showed U.S. retail sales posted their worst drop in nine years in December. In Europe, where the slowdown has been particularly marked, sentiment indicators continue to weaken, and the latest OECD leading indicator has also declined.

The numbers coming out of China are particularly striking. Experts were stunned this week when it was announced that Chinese car sales had plunged 17.7 percent: "Car sales in China continued to decline in January after their first full-year slump in more than two decades, adding to pressure on automakers who bet heavily on the market amid waning demand for cars from the U.S. to Europe. Passenger vehicle wholesales fell 17.7 percent year-on-year, the biggest drop since the market began to contract in the middle of last year, while retail sales had their eighth consecutive monthly decline, industry groups reported Monday." That is an absolutely disastrous number, and it is a sign that this will be a very, very tough year for the global auto industry.

Meanwhile, German industrial production is falling at a pace that we haven’t seen since the last global recession“Unexpectedly,” German industrial production fell 3.9% in December 2018 compared to December 2017, after having fallen by a revised 4.0% in November, according to German statistics agency Destatis Thursday morning. These two drops were steepest year-over-year drops since 2009. Even during the European Debt Crisis in 2011 and 2012 – it hit Germany’s industry hard as many European countries weaved in and out of a recession, with some countries sinking into a depression - German industrial production never fell as fast on a year-over-year basis as in November and December."

But as bad as things are in Germany, they are even worse in Italy. Italy’s economy has already fallen into a recession, and their debt problems continue to grow with each passing day. Watch Italy, because it is going to be a key to the drama that is currently unfolding in Europe.

Here in the United States, we are still doing relatively better than much of the rest of the world, but our economy is slowing down too.  U.S. retail sales just suffered their “biggest drop in more than nine years”, and the stunning bankruptcy and liquidation of Payless ShoeSource has made front page news all over the nation: "Payless ShoeSource confirmed Friday that it will close its 2,100 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and start liquidation sales Sunday. The company is also shuttering its e-commerce operations. The closings mark the biggest by a single chain this year and nearly doubles the number of retail stores set to close in 2019."

So what does all of this mean? What all of this means is that this is the beginning of the end for the global economic bubble. It is time to start getting serious about the economy again, and it is time to get prepared for the tough years that are ahead.

At this point, even the most clueless pundits in the mainstream media can see what is coming. For example, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is now warning that we are heading for “an unavoidable global recession” either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year: "Professor Paul Krugman has warned a series of isolated downward economic trends around the world will spiral into an unavoidable global recession towards the end of 2019 or the beginning of next year. Mr Krugman said there is not “one big thing” prompting the stark forecast but instead blamed a number of incidents happening at the same time. He said a slump in the eurozone combined with the long-running US-China trade war, President Trump’s tax policy and world leaders’ lack of preparedness are increasing the risks of a worldwide economic slowdown."

If even Paul Krugman can see what is happening, then you know that time is short. Prior to the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, most people never would have imagined that we were about to enter a terrible global economic downturn. Here in the U.S., it seemed like the economy was buzzing along quite nicely, and the vast majority of us had absolutely no idea what was really going on behind the scenes.

Similarly, right now most of us are conducting our lives as if nothing is going to change. To most people, the system seems to be functioning normally and there appears to be no cause for alarm. Unfortunately, things are not that simple.

Rubber bands can keep stretching for quite a while, but if you put too much pressure on them they will eventually snap. At this point there is an enormous amount of pressure on our global economic bubble, and someday it will “snap” too. It is just a matter of time."

Monday, February 18, 2019

Musical Interlude: Vangelis, “Hymn”

Vangelis, “Hymn”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Sunlight ripples through a dark sky on this Swedish summer midnight as noctilucent or night shining clouds seem to imitate the river below. In fact, the seasonal clouds often appear at high latitudes in corresponding summer months. Also known as polar mesospheric clouds, they form as water vapor is driven into the cold upper atmosphere. 
Click image for larger size.
Fine dust supplied by disintegrating meteors or volcanic ash provides sites where water vapor can condense, turning to ice at the cold temperatures in the mesosphere. Poised at the edge of space some 80 kilometers above, these icy clouds really do reflect sunlight toward the ground. They are visible here even though the Sun itself was below the horizon, as seen from Sweden's Färnebofjärdens National Park.”

The Poet: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "A Psalm of Life"

"A Psalm of Life"

"Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait."

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Why You Don't Know Your Own Mind"

"Why You Don't Know Your Own Mind"
by Alex Rosenberg

"It is often said that we can never truly know the minds of others, because we can't "get inside their heads." Our ability to know our own minds, though, is rarely called into question. It is assumed that your experience of your own consciousness clinches the assertion that you "know your own mind" in a way that no one else can. This is a mistake. 

Ever since Plato, philosophers have, without much argument, shared common sense's confidence about the nature of its own thoughts. They have argued that we can secure certainty about at least some very important conclusions, not through empirical inquiry, but by introspection: the existence, immateriality (and maybe immortality) of the soul, the awareness of our own free will, meaning and moral value. In a Stone column Gary Gutting explained how this tradition continues to manifest itself in contemporary philosophy as the search for "a 'transcendental' or 'absolute' consciousness that provides the fuller significance of our ordinary experiences." Thomas Nagel has invoked the same source to trump science in this publication as well. 

Introspection, "the mind's eye," assures us with the greatest confidence that it is the best, in some cases the only authority on how the mind works, because we all think it has direct, first person access to itself. We're all very confident that we just know what's going on in our own minds, from the inside, so to speak. 

Yet research in cognitive and behavioral sciences increasingly undermines that confidence. It seems hardly a week goes by without another article in the media reporting counterintuitive laboratory findings by empirical psychologists studying cognition, emotion and sensation. What makes many of these results remarkable is their consistent violation of expectations, assumptions and prejudices forced on us by our own conscious awareness. 

In fact, controlled experiments in cognitive science, neuroimaging and social psychology have repeatedly shown how wrong we can be about our real motivations, the justification of firmly held beliefs and the accuracy of our sensory equipment. This trend began even before the work of psychologists such as Benjamin Libet, who showed that the conscious feeling of willing an act actually occurs after the brain process that brings about the act — a result replicated and refined hundreds of times since his original discovery in the 1980s. 

Around the same time, a physician working in Britain, Lawrence Weiskrantz, discovered "blindsight" — the ability, first of blind monkeys, and then of some blind people, to pick out objects by their color without the conscious sensation of color. The inescapable conclusion that behavior can be guided by visual information even when we cannot be aware of having it is just one striking example of how the mind is fooled and the ways it fools itself. 

Meanwhile, philosophy has largely persisted in its centuries-long Cartesianism — following Descartes' insistence in his "Meditations" (1641) that our knowledge of our own minds' nature is more reliable than any other belief. Galen Strawson recently illustrated this centuries-old conviction in a recent essay in The Stone: "We know what conscious experience is because the having is the knowing: Having conscious experience is knowing what it is." He writes "It is in fact the only thing in the universe whose ultimate intrinsic nature we can claim to know." 

Despite these assurances from philosophy, empirical science has continued to build up an impressive body of evidence showing that introspection and consciousness are not reliable bases for self-knowledge. As sources of knowledge even about themselves, let alone anything else human, both are frequently and profoundly mistaken. 

To see the mistake we need to recognize another mistake Descartes made: his denial that other animals have any mental lives at all. Careful field observation by primatologists beginning with Jane Goodall revealed that apes have well developed "theories of mind." They engage in "mind reading" to make (sometimes good) guesses about the future behavior of others. Mind reading is psychologists' shorthand for treating other animals as having something like desires and beliefs that work together to produce choices in behavior. 

After a certain point in the evolutionary past, organisms began needing to predict whether others posed threats in order to protect themselves, and later needed to coordinate to attain outcomes not achievable alone. This environment strongly selected for mind reading. Had variation in cognitive abilities not hit on this adaptation, puny creatures like us would never have survived in the face of savanna megafauna. 

Mind reading, even in our own hands, is a very imperfect tool: We have to go on others' behavior (including verbal behavior). We can't really tell with much precision exactly what others believe or want, because we can't get inside their heads. So our predictions are often pretty vague and frequently false. Like other Darwinian adaptations, mind reading is an imperfect, "quick and dirty" solution to a "design problem." It was just good enough that, equipped with this theory of mind, we managed to gradually climb to the top of the food chain. We were able to do so in large part because once mind reading was in place human language, which requires it, became possible. 

FMRI research, the study of autism, and experiments on infant "false-belief" detection have shown that mind reading is a relatively well-localized module in the human brain, innate in structure, subject to breakdown — often genetically caused, and identifiable in infant/toddler development. 

Most important, there is compelling evidence that our own self-awareness is actually just this same mind reading ability, turned around and employed on our own mind, with all the fallibility, speculation, and lack of direct evidence that bedevils mind reading as a tool for guessing at the thought and behavior of others. When, as David Hume said, we look into ourselves, all we ever see are images, all we ever hear is silent speech-sounds. These sensations (along with emotions) are the only contents of consciousness, the only things introspection can use to figure out what we are thinking. The resources of introspection are exactly the same as the resources our minds work with to explain and predict the actions of others: sensory data provided by sight, hearing, smell, touch (and sometimes taste, too). 

Of course we have a lot more sensory data — images and silent speech instead of visual experience and heard speech — to go on in trying to figure out our own desires and beliefs than what other people's behavior reveals about what is going on in their minds. That's part of what makes for the illusion that we know our own minds so much better. But the difference is only the amount of data, not its quality or source. We never have direct access to our thoughts. As Peter Carruthers first argued, self-consciousness is just mind reading turned inward. 

How do we know this? Well, Hume would have answered that introspection tells us so. But that won't wash for experimental scientists. They demand evidence. Some of it comes from the fMRI work that established the existence of a distinct mind-reading module, more from autistic children, whose deficits in explaining and predicting the behavior of others come together with limitations on self-awareness and self-reporting of their own motivations. Patients suffering from schizophrenia manifest deficiencies in both other-mind reading and self-mind reading. If these two capacities were distinct one would expect at least some autistic children and schizophrenics to manifest one of these capacities without the other. 

That we read our own minds the same way we read other minds is evident in what cognitive science tells us about consciousness and working memory — the dual imagistic and silent-speech process that we employ to calculate, decide, choose among options "immediately before the mind." The most widely accepted psychologist's theory of consciousness identifies it as a mode of "global broadcast" solely from sensory modalities to "executive"— deciding, and "affective"— feeling systems that act on this sensory input. Self-consciousness has nothing else to work with but the same sensory data we use to figure out what other people are doing and are going to do. 

The upshot of all these discoveries is deeply significant, not just for philosophy, but for us as human beings: There is no first-person point of view. 

Our access to our own thoughts is just as indirect and fallible as our access to the thoughts of other people. We have no privileged access to our own minds. If our thoughts give the real meaning of our actions, our words, our lives, then we can't ever be sure what we say or do, or for that matter, what we think or why we think it. 

Philosophers' claims that by reflecting on itself thought reliably reveals our nature, grounds knowledge, gives us free will, endows our behavior with moral value, are all challenged. And the threat doesn't stem from some tendentious scientistic worldview. It emerges from the detailed understanding of the mind that cognitive science and neuroscience are providing." 

Alex Rosenberg is co-director of the Center for Social and Philosophical Implications of Neuroscience in the Duke Initiative for Science and Society. His second novel, "Autumn in Oxford" will appear in August.

Related:

"1984 vs. 2019: It Wasn’t Meant to be an Instruction Manual!"

"1984 vs. 2019: It Wasn’t Meant to be an Instruction Manual!"
by Mark Angelides

"There appears to be a persistent popularity among those that strive to avoid the machinations of the MSM of George Orwell’s novel "1984." It fits in well with those that distrust the “Big State” and who prize personal freedom above all else. And although it is studied in many schools across the world, the lessons and warnings that we can take from it are being largely ignored. Supposed freethinkers and “Liberals” are actively engaged in practices that have almost exact parallels with Orwell’s dystopian classic.

This is essentially a list of parallels that those familiar with the book will likely recognize; those of you haven’t read "1984", download it free below.

Telescreens vs. Smart TVs: With the Wikileaks revelation regarding the microphones and cameras that are installed in basic Smart TVs through CIA operations, the parallels with 1984’s Telescreens are almost exact. A screen that not only broadcasts propaganda, but can watch your every move and listen to each conversation; and for most homes, it is situated as the room’s focal point.

2 Minute Hate vs. Social Media Frenzy: On large screens, the protagonists of 1984 were invited to feel their “justified rage” against enemies of their beliefs. They are asked to released their anger and scream their hatred at “the other”. In our version, Social Media users are encouraged to vent their anger, disgust and hatred towards those that don’t agree with the Status Quo. In an incredibly dangerous fashion, we are being invited to view “the other” as evil, and therefore open to both verbal and physical assault.

NewSpeak vs. Censorship: In 1984, the Party was restructuring the language with the aim of making revolutionary thought an impossibility. The destruction of language was seen as a “beautiful thing” and ultimately, the population would not even understand the concept of “free”. Today’s censorship of free speech is very much an exact parallel. Free speech is limited to free speech zones, people can be prosecuted and jailed for “hate speech”, the twisting of language makes it almost impossible to safely posit an idea without first considering what recent cultural taboos you may be breaking. It is designed to make the population fear not only what they may say, but what they may think.

The destruction of language through the destruction of thought (and vice versa), was a popular theme throughout Orwell’s works. In his prophetic essay "Politics and the English Language," he shows how we have been forced to talk in catechisms and poor ready-made structures. You can read the full essay here,* consider carefully how smart our political leaders profess to be after reading; you may be surprised.

I leave you with my favorite passage about politicians: “When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases- bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder- one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself.”
Yeah... Ignorance Is Strength...
"From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy and disease could be eliminated within a few generations. But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction - indeed, in some sense was the destruction - of a hierarchical society. The most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance... Ignorance is Strength.

What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect.

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself - that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink.

He wondered, as he had many times wondered before, whether he himself was a lunatic. Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one. At one time it had been a sign of madness to believe that the earth goes round the sun; today, to believe believe that the past is unalterable. He might be alone in holding that belief, and if alone, then a lunatic. But the thought of being a lunatic did not greatly trouble him; the horror was that he might also be wrong.

Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
- George Orwell, "1984"

Freely download "1984", by George Orwell here:
- http://www.planetebook.com/1984.asp

The Daily "Near You?"

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"Fools And Knaves..."

"In the mass of mankind, I fear, there is too great a majority of 
fools and knaves; who, singly from their number, must to a certain
degree be respected, though they are by no means respectable."
- Philip Stanhope

"7 Rules Of Life"

"The World Is One Giant Classroom..."

“Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.” 
 -  Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Everyone is better than you at something. This is a fact of life. Someone is better than you at making eye contact. Someone is better than you at quantum physics. Someone is better informed than you on geopolitics. Someone is better than you are at speaking kindly to someone they dislike. There are better gift-givers, name-rememberers, weight-lifters, temper-controllers, confidence-carriers, and friendship-makers. There is no one person who is the best at all these things, who doesn’t have room to improve in one or more of them. So if you can find the humility to accept this about yourself, what you will realize is that the world is one giant classroom. Go about your day with an openness and a joy about this fact. Look at every interaction as an opportunity to learn from and of the people you meet. You will be amazed at how quickly you grow, how much better you get."
Ryan Holiday,

"How It Really Is"

"There Is A Twilight..."

 "As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both
instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged.
And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air -
however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
- Justice William O. Douglas

Rule by Fiat: National Crises, Fake Emergencies and Other Dangerous Presidential Powers"

"Rule by Fiat: National Crises, Fake Emergencies 
and Other Dangerous Presidential Powers" 
By John W. Whitehead


“When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
 - Richard Nixon

"Who pays the price for the dissolution of the constitutional covenant that holds the government and its agents accountable to the will of the people?
 
We all do.
 
This ill-advised decision by President Trump to circumvent the Constitution’s system of checks and balances by declaring a national emergency in order to build a border wall constitutes yet another expansion of presidential power that exposes the nation to further constitutional peril.
 
It doesn’t matter that the legal merits of this particular national emergency will be challenged in court.
 
The damage has already been done.
 


As reporter Danny Cevallos points out, “President Donald Trump only had to say ‘national emergency’ to dramatically increase his executive and legal authority. By simply uttering those words, Trump immediately unleashed dozens of statutory powers available to a president only during a state of emergency. The power of the nation's chief executive to declare such an emergency knows few strictures - it was designed that way.”
 
We have now entered into a strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents - empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace - rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law.

This attempt by Trump to rule by fiat merely plays into the hands of those who would distort the government’s system of checks and balances and its constitutional separation of powers beyond all recognition.
 
This is about unadulterated power in the hands of the Executive Branch.
 
This is about corporate greed disguised as a national need.
 
Most of all, however, this is about the rise of an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny and power grabs in the so-called name of national security.
 


This is exactly the kind of concentrated, absolute power the founders attempted to guard against by establishing a system of checks of balances that separates and shares power between three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.
 
“The system of checks and balances that the Framers envisioned now lacks effective checks and is no longer in balance,” concludes law professor William P. Marshall. “The implications of this are serious. The Framers designed a system of separation of powers to combat government excess and abuse and to curb incompetence. They also believed that, in the absence of an effective separation-of-powers structure, such ills would inevitably follow. Unfortunately, however, power once taken is not easily surrendered.”
 


The Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers: to serve as Commander in Chief of the military, grant pardons, make treaties (with the approval of Congress), appoint ambassadors and federal judges (again with Congress’ blessing), and veto legislation.
 
In recent years, however, American presidents have anointed themselves with the power to wage war, unilaterally kill Americans, torture prisoners, strip citizens of their rights, arrest and detain citizens indefinitely, carry out warrantless spying on Americans, and erect their own secretive, shadow government.
 
The powers amassed by each past president and inherited by each successive president - powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler - empower whomever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability.
 


Consider some of the presidential powers—which have been acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and can be activated by any sitting president - that have allowed past presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution.
 


• The power to kill. As the New York Times concluded, “President Obama, who came to office promising transparency and adherence to the rule of law, has become the first president to claim the legal authority to order an American citizen killed without judicial involvement, real oversight or public accountability.” Obama’s kill lists - signature drone strikes handpicked by the president - have been justified by the Justice Department as lawful because they are subject to internal deliberations by the executive branch. “In other words,” writes Amy Davidson for the New Yorker, “It’s due process if the President thinks about it.”
 


• The power to wage war. Ever since Congress granted George W. Bush the authorization to use military force in the wake of 9/11, the United States has been in a state of endless war without Congress ever having declared one. Having pledged to end Bush’s wars, Barack Obama extended them.
 

• The power to torture. Despite the fact that the Bush Administration’s use of waterboarding as a torture tactic was soundly criticized by Obama, the Obama Administration refused to hold anyone accountable for participating in the rendition and torture programs. In the absence of any finding of criminality, the authorization of such torture tactics remain part of the president’s domain - should he or she ever choose to revive it.
 


• The power to spy on American citizens. In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to carry out surveillance on Americans’ phone calls and emails. The Bush Administration claimed that the Constitution gives the president inherent powers to protect national security. The covert surveillance continued under Obama and is full force under Trump.
 


• The power to indefinitely detain American citizens. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring that all Japanese-Americans be held in internment camps. While that order was later rescinded, the U.S. Supreme Court declared it to be constitutional. The ruling has never been overturned. Pointing out that such blatantly illegal detentions could happen again - with the blessing of the courts - Justice Scalia warned, “In times of war, the laws fall silent.” In fact, each National Defense Authorization Act enacted since 2012 has included a provision that permits the military to detain individuals - including Americans citizens - indefinitely without trial.
 

•
 The power to strip American citizens of their constitutional rights. The Bush Administration claimed it could strip American citizens of their constitutional rights, imprison them indefinitely, and deny them legal representation simply by labeling them as enemy combatants. While the Obama Administration jettisoned the use of the term “enemy combatant,” it persisted in defending the president’s unilateral and global right to detain anyone suspected of supporting terrorist activities.


• The power to secretly rewrite or sidestep the laws of the country. Secret courts, secret orders, and secret budgets have become standard operating procedure for presidential administrations in recent years. A good case in point is Presidential Policy Directive 20, a secret order signed by President Obama as a means of thwarting cyberattacks. Based on what little information was leaked to the press about the clandestine directive, it appears that the president essentially put the military in charge of warding off a possible cyberattack.
 


 • The power to transform the police into extensions of the military and indirectly institute martial law. What began in the 1960s as a war on drugs transitioned into an all-out campaign to transform America’s police forces into extensions of the military. Every successive president since Nixon has added to the police’s arsenal, tactics and authority. In fact, the Trump Administration has accelerated police militarization by distributing military weapons and equipment to police and incentivizing SWAT team raids and heavy-handed police tactics through the use of federal grants and asset forfeiture schemes.
 


• The power to command the largest military and intelligence capabilities in the world and, in turn, “wag the dog.” As Professor Marshall points out: "In his roles as Commander-in-Chief and head of the Executive Branch, the President directly controls the most powerful military in the world and directs clandestine agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency. That control provides the President with immensely effective, non-transparent capabilities to further his political agenda and/or diminish the political abilities of his opponents. Whether a President would cynically use such power solely for his political advantage has, of course, been the subject of political thrillers and the occasional political attack. President Clinton, for one, was accused of ordering the bombing of terrorist bases in Afghanistan to distract the nation from the Lewinsky scandal, and President Nixon purportedly used the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate his political enemies. But regardless whether such abuses actually occurred, there is no doubt that control of covert agencies provides ample opportunity for political mischief, particularly since the inherently secretive nature of these agencies means their actions often are hidden from public view. And as the capabilities of these agencies increase through technological advances in surveillance and other methods of investigation, so does the power of the President.

• The power to declare a national emergency. The seeds of this present madness were sown more than a decade ago when George W. Bush stealthily issued two presidential directives that granted the president the power to unilaterally declare a national emergency, which is loosely defined as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions." Moreover, that national emergency can take any form, can be manipulated for any purpose and can be used to justify any end goal - all on the say so of the president. For instance, back in 1952, President Harry S. Truman tried - and failed - to use a national emergency declaration to seize control of the country’s steel mills. He lost when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer against the presidential power grab.

Be warned: none of these powers expire at the end of a president’s term. They remain on the books, just waiting to be used or abused by the next political demagogue.
 
All of these imperial powers amassed by Trump’s predecessors - to kill American citizens without due process, to detain suspects (including American citizens) indefinitely, to strip Americans of their citizenship rights, to carry out mass surveillance on Americans without probable cause, to wage wars without congressional authorization, to suspend laws during wartime, to disregard laws with which he might disagree, to conduct secret wars and convene secret courts, to sanction torture, to sidestep the legislatures and courts with executive orders and signing statements, to direct the military to operate beyond the reach of the law, to establish a standing army on American soil, to operate a shadow government, to declare national emergencies for any manipulated reason, and to act as a dictator and a tyrant, above the law and beyond any real accountability - have become a permanent part of the president’s toolbox of terror.
 
Thus, Trump is not the first president to weaken the system of checks and balances, sidestep the rule of law, and expand the power of the president. He is just the most recent.
 


To our detriment, every successive occupant of the Oval Office since George Washington, who issued the first executive order, has expanded the reach and power of the presidency and made our republic that much more vulnerable to those who would abuse those powers in the future.
 
As Professor Marshall explains, “every extraordinary use of power by one President expands the availability of executive branch power for use by future Presidents.” Moreover, it doesn’t even matter whether other presidents have chosen not to take advantage of any particular power, because “it is a President’s action in using power, rather than forsaking its use, that has the precedential significance.”
 
In other words, each successive president continues to add to his office’s list of extraordinary orders and directives, granting him- or herself near dictatorial powers.
 
There’s no point debating which politician would be more dangerous with these powers.
 
As I point out in my book "Battlefield America: The War on the American People", the fact that any individual - or branch of government - is empowered to act like a dictator is danger enough."

"In This Life..."

“Many people don’t fear a hell after this life and that’s because hell is on this earth, in this life. In this life there are many forms of hell that people walk through, sometimes for a day, sometimes for years, sometimes it doesn’t end. The kind of hell that doesn’t burn your skin; but burns your soul. The kind of hell that people can’t see; but the flames lap at your spirit. Heaven is a place on earth, too! It’s where you feel freedom, where you’re not afraid. No more chains. And you hear your soul laughing.”
- C. JoyBell C.

"Do You Believe In The Deep State Now?"

"Do You Believe In The Deep State Now?"
The revelation that top Justice officials considered 
unseating Trump should answer that question for good...
by Robert Merry

"Be afraid. Be very afraid. That’s a natural reaction to the revelation of Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy FBI director, that top Justice Department officials, alarmed by Donald Trump’s firing of former Bureau director James Comey, explored a plan to invoke the 25th Amendment and kick the duly elected president out of office.

According to New York Times reporters Adam Goldman and Matthew Haag, McCabe made the statement in an NBC 60 Minutes interview to be aired on Sunday. He also reportedly said that McCabe wanted the so-called Russia collusion investigation to go after Trump for obstructing justice in firing Comey and for any instances they could turn up of his working in behalf of Russia.
  
The idea of invoking the 25th Amendment was discussed, it seems, at two meetings on May 16, 2017. According to McCabe, top law enforcement officials pondered how they might recruit Vice President Pence and a majority of cabinet members to declare in writing, to the Senate’s president pro tempore and the House speaker, that the president was “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” That would be enough, under the 25th Amendment, to install the vice president as acting president, pushing aside Trump.

But to understand what kind of constitutional crisis this would unleash and the precedent it would set, it’s necessary to ponder the rest of this section of the 25th Amendment. The text prescribes that, if the president, after being removed, transmits to the same congressional figures that he is indeed capable of discharging his duties, he shall once again be president after four days. But if the vice president and the cabinet majority reiterate their declaration within those four days that the guy can’t govern, Congress is charged with deciding the issue. It then takes a two-thirds vote of both houses to keep the president removed, which would have to be done within 21 days, during which time the elected president would be sidelined and the vice president would govern. If Congress can’t muster the two-thirds majority within the prescribed time period, the president “shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”

It’s almost impossible to contemplate the political conflagration that would ensue under this plan. Citizens would watch those in Washington struggle with the monumental question of the fate of their elected leader under an initiative that had never before been invoked, or even considered, in such circumstances. Debates would flare up over whether this comported with the original intent of the amendment; whether it was crafted to deal with physical or mental “incapacitation,” as opposed to controversial actions or unsubstantiated allegations or even erratic decision making; whether such an action, if established as precedent, would destabilize the American republic for all time; and whether unelected bureaucrats should arrogate to themselves the power to set in motion the downfall of a president, circumventing the impeachment language of the Constitution.

For the past two years, the country has been struggling to understand the two competing narratives of the criminal investigation of the president. One narrative - let’s call it Narrative A - has it that honorable and dedicated federal law enforcement officials developed concerns over a tainted election in which nefarious Russian agents had sought to tilt the balloting towards the candidate who wanted to improve U.S.-Russian relations and who seemed generally unseemly. Thus did the notion emerge, quite understandably, that Trump had “colluded” with Russian officials to cadge a victory that otherwise would have gone to his opponent. This narrative is supported and protected by Democratic figures and organizations, by adherents of the “Russia as Threat” preoccupation, and by anti-Trumpers everywhere, particularly news outlets such as CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times

The other view - Narrative B - posits that certain bureaucratic mandarins of the national security state and the outgoing Obama administration resolved early on to thwart Trump’s candidacy. After his election, they determined to undermine his political standing, and particularly his proposed policy toward Russia, through a relentless and expansive investigation characterized by initial misrepresentations, selective media leaks, brutal law enforcement tactics, and a barrage of innuendo. This is the narrative of most Trump supporters, conservative commentators, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal editorial page, notably columnist Kimberley Strassel.  

The McCabe revelation won’t affect the battle of the two narratives. As ominous and outrageous as this “deep state” behavior may seem to those who embrace Narrative B, it will be seen by Narrative A adherents as evidence that those law enforcement officials were out there heroically on the front lines protecting the republic from Donald J. Trump. And those Narrative A folks won’t have any difficulty tossing aside the fact that McCabe was fired as deputy FBI director for violating agency policy in leaking unauthorized information to the news media. He then allegedly violated the law in lying about it to federal investigators on four occasions, including three times while under oath.

Indeed, Narrative A people have no difficulty at all brushing aside serious questions posed by Narrative B people. McCabe is a likely liar and perjurer? Doesn’t matter. Peter Strzok, head of the FBI’s counterespionage section, demonstrated his anti-Trump animus in tweets and emails to Justice official Lisa Page? Irrelevant. Christopher Steele’s dossier of dirt on Trump, including an allegation that the Russians were seeking to blackmail and bribe him, was compiled by a man who had demonstrated to a Justice Department official that he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and…passionate about him not being president”? Not important. The dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party? Immaterial. Nothing in the dossier was ever substantiated? So what?

Now we have a report from a participant of those meetings that top officials of the country’s premier law enforcement entity sat around and pondered how to bring down a sitting president they didn’t like. The Times even says that McCabe “confirmed” an earlier report that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire in meetings with Trump to incriminate him and make him more vulnerable to the plot.

There is no suggestion in McCabe’s interview pronouncements or in the words of Scott Pelley, who conducted the interview and spoke to CBS This Morning about it, that these federal officials ever took action to further the aim of unseating the president. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that they approached cabinet members or the vice president about it. “They…were speculating, ‘This person would be with us, this person would not be,’ and they were counting noses in that effort,” said Pelley. He added, apparently in response to Rosenstein’s insistence that his comments about wearing a wire were meant as a joke, “This was not perceived to be a joke.”

What are we to make of this? Around the time of the meetings to discuss the 25th Amendment plot, senior FBI officials also discussed initiating a national security investigation of the president as a stooge of the Russians or perhaps even a Russian agent. These talks were revealed by The New York Times and CNN in January, based on closed-door congressional testimony by former FBI general counsel James Baker. You don’t have to read very carefully to see that the reporters on these stories brought to them a Narrative A sensibility. The Times headline: “F.B.I. Opened Inquiry into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia.” CNN’s: “Transcripts detail how FBI debated whether Trump was ‘following directions’ of Russia.” And of course, whoever leaked those hearing transcripts almost surely did so to bolster the Narrative A version of events.

The independent journalist Gareth Porter, writing at Consortium News, offers a penetrating exposition of the inconsistencies, fallacies, and fatuities of the Narrative A matrix, as reflected in how the Times and CNN handled the stories that resulted from what were clearly self-interested leaks. Porter notes that a particularly sinister expression in May 2017 by former CIA director John O. Brennan, a leading Trump antagonist, has precipitated echoes in the news media ever since, particularly in the Times. Asked in a committee hearing if he had intelligence indicating that anyone in the Trump campaign was “colluding with Moscow,” Brennan dodged the question. He said his experience had taught him that “the Russians try to suborn individuals, and they try to get them to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.”

Of course you can’t collude with anybody unwittingly. But Brennan’s fancy expression has the effect of expanding what can be thrown at political adversaries, to include not just conscious and nefarious collaboration but also policy advocacy that could be viewed as wrongheaded or injurious to U.S. interests. As Porter puts it, “The real purpose…is to confer on national security officials and their media allies the power to cast suspicion on individuals on the basis of undesirable policy views of Russia rather than on any evidence of actual collaboration with the Russian government.”

That seems to be what’s going on here. There’s no doubt that McCabe and Rosenstein and Strzok and Brennan and Page and many others despised Trump and his resolve to thaw relations with Russia. They viewed him as a president “who needed to be reined in,” as a CNN report described the sentiment among top FBI officials after the Comey firing. So they expanded the definition of collusion to include “unwitting” collaboration in order to justify their machinations. It’s difficult to believe that people in such positions would take such a cavalier attitude toward the kind of damage they could wreak on the body politic.

Now we learn that they actually sat around and plotted how to distort the Constitution, just as they distorted the rules of official behavior designed to hold them in check, in order to destroy a presidential administration placed in power by the American people. It’s getting more and more difficult to dismiss Narrative B.”

"Scott Pelley Commits Career Suicide"

"Scott Pelley Commits Career Suicide"
by James Howard Kunstler
"Finally, you’re left with image of Scott Pelley sucking on his eyeglass frames as if he was trying to impersonate a character who might be called The Ole Sage TV Journalist, after neatly disgracing both himself and TV journalism in his puffy chat-up with Andrew McCabe, the ex-Deputy FBI Director who stage-managed the cover-up of the RussiaGate fiasco in both of its phases - first to interfere with the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, and then to oust the winner of the election, Mr. Trump.

Perhaps Mr. Pelley was ruminating on all the topics he forgot to ask about, such as what Mr. McCabe meant by an “insurance policy” in his conversations with counter-intel agent Peter Stzrok and DOJ lawyer Lisa Page; or whether Mr. McCabe launched the Russia collusion investigation on the basis of the Steele dossier, which was already known at the time to be material furnished by the Hillary Clinton campaign; or whether the contents of said dossier had ever been verified via established FBI protocol (the “Woods” procedure), which they never were.

The audience was informed at the very end that Mr. McCabe’s case had been “referred” to the federal courts by the DOJ Inspector General. That was a nice way of saying that Mr. McCabe has been singing to a grand jury. If so, then he’s an early bird, because many of his feathered friends will be following him into the grand jury chamber and then we’ll have the great Battle-of-the-Alibis.

Mainly what the McCabe interview accomplished was CBS tripling-down on the empty Russia collusion “narrative” that has nourished the crusade to dump Mr. Trump by any means necessary for more than two years. Mr. McCabe describes the “chaos” in the C-suites of the FBI after the President fired Director James Comey in May 7 of 2017, “because we had lost our leader… it was an unbelievably stressful time,” he said.

Yes, I’m sure. Because so many top officers in the Bureau were desperate to cover their asses since Mrs. Clinton’s unbelievable election loss meant that all the FBI emails and official memoranda documenting their behavior either had to be shoved down the memory hole illegally or left to be discovered by Mr. Trump. Indeed, some of it was illegally destroyed, for instance the government-issued cell phones of Ms. Page and Mr. Stzrok, smashed to bits on Robert Mueller’s instructions.

Apparently, one of the main objectives in the 60-Minutes story was to paint Mr. McCabe as an heroic patriot defending America against the wicked, shape-shifting, all-powerful Russia, which had made Mr. Trump its captive. The 60-Minutes piece happens to coincide exactly with the release of Mr. McCabe’s ass-covering book: "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump." (Real superheroes fight both.)

It also sets up a nice contrapuntal battle between the enigmatic Rod Rosenstein and Mr. McCabe vis-à-vis the idea of “wearing a wire” to record the President en route to running him over with the 25th Amendment. According to Mr. McCabe, there was a lot of lively discussion around this plan. Mr. Rosenstein has brushed it off as a gag. Mr. McCabe, apparently, thought it was dead serious. They never did get their stories straight. In the meantime, Mr. McCabe’s own colleagues in the FBI’s ethics office and its Inspector General charged him with lying repeatedly about his role this matter.

You had to wonder whether the attempt by CBS-News to sell “the sterling career” story of Andrew McCabe (as Mr. Pelley put it), is really just a way for the network to cover its own ass in acting as a propaganda patsy in the long-running RussiaGate affair. The 60-Minutes segment also coincided with William Barr’s confirmation last week by the senate as the Attorney General, as well as official reports issued by both house and senate committees stating that they found no evidence for the Trump / Russia collusion story. The ground is shifting under all this seditious hugger-mugger.

Whether you are a Trump cheerleader or not (I’m not), there is a reality-based chain of events behind the FBI’s actions from early 2016 on - and the actions of other official players in government - that can only be clarified now in the courts, and chances are pretty good that they will be. It concerns me because the specter of massive institutional failure in federal law enforcement and the news media bodes very darkly for this country’s future."
"Andrew McCabe: The Full 60 Minutes Interview"