How Sophomoric . . . or Is It?

Nobody wants to ban Shakespeare.  So don’t go wacko on me.

But if this were an isolated incident, something outside of all political contexts that one can imagine over the last year, ahem, sure, this theater-in-the-park would form an interesting mixture of art and politics.  And public figures, if such a thing exists, are expected to be the target of envious tax-payers.  In poor taste perhaps, but art nonetheless.  But it isn’t isolated, which makes this more than art. It is politics.  And politics is nasty.  I see Facebook pages of former colleagues, intelligent men and women, who in any lecture would condemn ad hominem attacks.  But because it is Donald Trump whose rhetoric flies to what resembles extreme for modern liberals, why these former colleagues feel liberated from circumspection not by hate but by outrage to stop the man in his oratorical tracks . . . or at least to counter them.  The Left really wants to get rid of Donald Trump.

The woman at the 1:10-minute mark who says that “I don’t think it’s disrespectful for the president to be assassinated on stage.  It’s not the president, it’s theater.  Everybody knows it’s theater” is clueless as to signaling.  Somebody is signaling.  I don’t think Trump is that big of a threat to the bureaucratic establishment.  I do think that the unwieldy debt crisis in this country is.  No one is addressing that.  And still Trump boosts the Pentagon’s budget.  But that woman in the video should cultivate a better historical context.  When JFK was murdered in Dallas back in 1963, leaflets were distributed by General Edwin A. Walker condemning JFK as a communist.  True it was found that Walker had zero to do with the assassination, which to some might make that a moot point.  But do we spike an inflammatory situation?  Do we escalate?  Is that just theater? Is that just independent journalism?  Is it Charlie Hebdo?   At a minimum it is signaling. What, words, scenes, acts have no meaning or intention or make no statement beyond the confines of the stage or curtain? How big of an idiot or prop is she?

Imagine if Hillary or Obama were the target of someone’s politic theater.

And the reaction is mixed.  Delta and Bank of America, the only two so far, have withdrawn their financial support . . . sort of .  Like I said the withdrawal is mixed. Time Warner still funding the festival.

New York’s Public Theater lost financial support from two high-profile corporate donors, Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, on Sunday amid intense criticism of its production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” which depicts the assassination of a Trump-like Roman ruler.

The companies’ decisions came after days of criticism online and in right-leaning media outlets that was amplified by Donald Trump Jr., a son of the president, who appeared to call into question the theater’s funding sources on Twitter on Sunday morning.

“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ at this summer’s free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” Delta said in a statement on Sunday night. . . .

Bank of America followed hours later, saying it would withdraw financial support from the production of “Julius Caesar” but would not end its financial relationship with the theater, which a bank spokeswoman, Susan Atran, said had lasted for 11 years.

I have no problem criticizing any administration, condemning their policies when they require it or praising policies and law abiding when that presents itself.  But to use the play as justification for contemporary relevance and a veiled threat like that is sophomoric.  You see this kind of play within a play at high schools where one group of teachers and students will collude to publicly humiliate, even threaten one of the teachers on staff.  Not nice.

Robert Wenzel says the Left is desperate.  Boy, are they!

The Left desperately wants a lefty in power. They have nothing else on their minds.

The Left is relentless. David Stockman, former Reagan OMB Director, thinks that the thousand knives are out for Trump and that he will be driven out by midterm elections, 2018. He draws an interesting comparison to Nixon, who actually won the popular vote, whereas Trump won only the electoral vote.  I hope that Trump sees a full term or even two.  Not because I am such a fan of Trump but that I do enjoy that he is a source of such displeasure to the establishment.

But it’s not like Americans win if Trump remains in office or if he is ultimately impeached.  I don’t think he’ll be removed from office.  What do the Democrats want, Pence?

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, assesses the bureaucratic establishment better than any politician I’ve ever heard.

 

From a nation of laws toward a nation of policies

According to Sophie McAdam, Edward Snowden alerts us that our smart phones can be taken over by government creeps. Big whoop!  How this is news or newsworthy is beyond me.  This is not news or newsworthy.  The surveillance state is well-known, and Snowden’s revelations are not revelatory let alone newsworthy. What should be newsworthy is how incompetent the surveillance products are in stopping terrorism.

William Binney, former U.S. Intelligence official, notes how in Nice, France a killer took a truck and mowed down scores of people in the promenade, killing over 80 people and injuring over 300 but nobody saw this coming.  Though I am glad that he is making the point that he is, I really I don’t trust these whistleblowers.  It’s as if the different intel agencies in the U.S. and Britain now have their spokesmen out of the company and out doing PR with the public, both good and bad, instructing us on behalf of the tools, tricks, and gadgets of the surveillance state.  To whom is this stuff useful?  Do any of the tools mentioned give us greater protections?  No.  It’s more like a salesman reviewing the latest line of tech gadgets, for which we’re all so fascinated, at the CIA’s or the NSA’s or any other security agency’s discretionary disposal to use against the American people or whomever.  It’s obfuscation at every turn.  To the different branches of the U.S. military, the American citizen is an enemy combatant who will now be subject to every wartime indignity under the radar of course.

Nonetheless, Binney raises some good points.  Namely that the amount of data is so vast that it renders the assemblage of building a solid profile incompetent. I can believe that there’s just too much data.  The NSA collects the data, but it is the CIA and FBI who use it. But aren’t there analysts trained to cipher this data? I mean if someone is part of a known terrorist cell, isn’t that an important detail versus, say, a kid growing up in San Jose working at UPS?  So I find that hard to believe.  Binney was not the only analyst. I am sure others were trained to cipher intelligence.  The software itself is programmed to spot details on a suspect or “person of interest” even before an analyst sees the particular data.  What about false flag terrorists, guys who are set up by the surveillance agencies, the FBI, the CIA, and others that incite, dare I say it, lead unsuspecting members of different groups to terror? Binney does admit that the software was designed with capability to be subverted, which it was, in order to spy not just on enemies, not just on Americans, not just on corporate CEO’s, but on the entire world.  This in effect turns every person on the globe into an enemy combatant, the term used by the military to justify state terror.

Further, at least in this interview, he keeps limiting the data to terrorists or criminals or drug dealing.  But the data is not limited; nothing is excluded, which means that any American is a target.  This is how the U.S. military treats its own people–as enemy combatants.  Further, what we are dealing with here is an agency that sets the criteria for enemy combatant or terrorist or criminal.  Binney did admit in that 2012 interview linked below that the central government defines what you’ve done wrong, not some local municipality.  Where is that criteria laid out for all Americans to see?

Who cannot help but remember National Security Agency Chief, Keith B. Alexander?

Alexander says nothing in this interview. Typical of military leaders. And Americans genuflect to these guys.

Here the Young Turks examines James Clapper’s lying testimony all the way back in 2009. Clapper is a retired lieutenant general in the United States Air Force and is the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (1991-1995) as well as Director of National Intelligence (2010–2017). Cenk Uygu references the PRISM program.  [In this 2012 interview, William Binney explains that the Narus device takes in the whole line of data–everybody.] But then Cenk Uygu goes off the rails saying “I’m glad at least someone in Congress was doing their job and holding you accountable.” That is truly reaching. But he amends it as he continues, “By the way, you violated the law there.  That’s clearly a violation. That’s perjury in front of Congress. In fact, Congressman Amash–he’s a Republican–said he should resign immediately because he committed perjury . . . committed a crime.  Of course, if you’re powerful in this country, you’re never held accountable–whether you’re the bankers, the Bush Administration, James Clapper . . . you’re free to go.  If you don’t have power, and you question the people in power, then they will hunt you down all across the globe.” Perhaps even more stunning is that fact that Senator Ron Weyden gave Clapper 24-hour notice of his question and after the hearing a day to amend his answer.  The enormity of it all.

“So that he would be prepared to answer, I sent the question to Director Clapper’s office a day in advance.  After the hearing was over my staff and I gave his office a chance to amend his answer.”  Senator Ron Weyden, (D-OR)

How is this not a Punch and Judy Show?  Or Kabuki Theater?  And Americans expect justice or restitution?  Good luck.

Then Binney tells the story–eight days later in Munich, a young man got a gun, shot and killed 9 and wounded over 30 people in a shopping center.  And nobody saw that coming.

“These are not isolated events but typical” he says. Most terrorist have no warning in advance despite the fact that we are more surveyed today than at any other time in the world.  There’s lots of data that’s just being collected.  The only time. Where was the surveillance then?

Compare Binney’s report with Sophie McAdam’s report about Snowden labeling the different capabilities Britain’s GCHQ has in hijacking your phone to turn it into a recorder or speaker for the benefit of data collection for the surveillance state.

Then there is the interview by the RT reporter, Gayane Chichakyan, of Thomas Andrew Drake, former NSA intelligence officer.  In this interview, he references the Trailblazer program used by the NSA to gather all internet data.  Amazing.  Each whistleblower comes out citing a different program that collects all the data.  How is this not like a barker at some exhibition?

foreign intelligence surveillance act.  NSA would be the executive agent for running surveillance on behalf of the United States.  SISPA?  Allow web service providers to funnel information from users to the government.  PATRIOT Act gives government unfettered access to online users.  It raises the specter of soft tyranny.  It raises the specter that you’re a suspect until proven innocent.  Raises the specter of a persistent, universal wiretap on every single person.  Or if not, they can create one.  What happens if they don’t like you?  What happens if you speak ill will against the government?  What happens if you say something they consider disloyal?  That’s not the country that he took an oath to defend in his government career.  And you also have the fear element.  Fear in itself is control.  What people will do when they’re fearful is begin censoring themselves. The National Security State has effectively become the state religion.  You don’t question it.  And if you do question it, then your loyalty is questioned.

Drake was asked about Julian Assange, and he said that the U.S. gov’t wants to get him. Drake himself got caught up in a criminal, national security investigation over the course of several years on how to bring an indictment against him.  “Speaking truth to power is very dangerous in today’s world.”  I always get suspicious with that phrase. Little is accomplished when one does speak truth to power, except as he said earlier they will destroy you.  “They don’t like dirty linen being aired.  They don’t like skeletons in the closet being seen. Not only do they object to it, they turn it into criminal activity.  His whistleblowing was criminalized by his own government.

She recognized that there’s a smear campaign against journalists who are critical against the drone strikes.  “They go after the messengers because they don’t want to deal with the message.  You’re talking about all the activities–the secret surveillance, the warrantless wiretapping, torture, rendition, drone strikes, enhanced interrogation, and a whole host of other measures. Going after the message becomes very uncomfortable.  What’s happened is that law . . . we’re moving away from a nation of laws and leaving it up to policy as a substitute, we’re travelling down a very slippery slope in the United States of America.”

Gayane Chichakyan raises the Flame virus, a malware, that the U.S. and Israel used to spy on Iran.  And then there’s the actual cyberweapon, the Stuxnet, which created havoc on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  We hear U.S. officials condemn cyber attacks all the time but it turns out that the U.S. itself is involved in cyber attacks.  These authoritative leaks means that somebody wants other governments and other nations what the United States is capable of doing.  This reminds me of what sociopaths do to their victims–they celebrate the torture that they’re conducting on their victim.  It is another form of warfare.  The Pentagon is on record for having said that if other countries do what this country has done, say with cyberweapons like Stuxnet, that is an act of war.  But if we’re doing it, it’s not an act of war.  It’s information acquisition or something.

Anybody whose paid any attention knows of the Eschelon database housed somewhere in Europe all the way back to the early 90’s.  Newsworthy would be products that people can buy to effectively keep military and government and private enterprise creeps out of your phone and out of your life.  That would be news.  It gets subjected to a whole host of other labels to make it into something from what it really is.

Then there is John Kiriakou, the only guy who’s been prosecuted with the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program.  Here is his crime, according to Wikipedia

He was a CIA analyst and case officer, senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, counterterrorism consultant for ABC News,[1] and author.[2][3] He was the first U.S. government official to confirm in December 2007 that waterboarding was used to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture.

To me it seems like the military or any of these government organizations honor no way in hell any service done by these agents on behalf of Americans.  The government just trashes people for the reason that Thomas Andrew Drake mentioned–to avoid addressing the message, they go after the messenger.  And though I am suspicious of all the attention given to whistleblowers, I can’t help but think that there are some good guys coming out against government policy willing to sacrifice their own careers to bring evil to light.

This is serious stuff, much more so than what Ms. McAdam covered in her story on the Snowden interview where he reveals the intelligence value of smurf code names.  I mean really.

  • “Dreamy Smurf”: lets the phone be powered on and off
  • “Nosey Smurf”:lets spies turn the microphone on and listen in on users, even if the phone itself is turned off
  • “Tracker Smurf”:a geo-location tool which allows [GCHQ] to follow you with a greater precision than you would get from the typical triangulation of cellphone towers.
  • “Paranoid Smurf”: hides the fact that it has taken control of the phone. The tool will stop people from recognizing that the phone has been tampered with if it is taken in for a service, for instance.

. . . revelations should worry anyone who cares about human rights, especially in an era where the threat of terrorism is used to justify all sorts of governmental crimes against civil liberties. We have willingly given up our freedoms in the name of security; as a result we have neither.

Human rights?  I do hate the extrapolation of writers who take meaningful topics, like property rights and turn them into abstractions like human rights.  Rothbard articulated this quite well

The basic flaw in the liberal separation of “human rights” and “property rights” is that people are treated as ethereal abstractions

He disclosed that government spies can legally hack into any citizen’s phone to listen in to what’s happening in the room, view files, messages and photos, pinpoint exactly where a person is (to a much more sophisticated level than a normal GPS system), and monitor a person’s every move and every conversation, even when the phone is turned off.
Should we be worried?  Did you hear what Thomas Drake said above?  Government is never going to be accountable to anything.  They do not like airing their dirty linens or making visible skeletons in their closet.  So what they do is collect dirt on their countrymen and other men and women around the world and do to them what they loath having done to them.  I don’t trust military brats or veterans.  They are trained to kill or hurt people, and some are quite good and adept at it.  Why would you want these folks snoopy into your personal life?
Her points only worry me more.

And as much as we convince ourselves how cool they are, it’s hard to deny their invention has resulted in a tendency for humans to behave like zombies, encouraged child labor, made us more lonely than ever, turned some of us into narcissistic selfieaddicts, and prevented us from communicating with those who really matter (the ones in the same room at the same time). Now, Snowden has given us yet another reason to believe that smartphones might be the dumbest thing we could have ever inflicted on ourselves.

Doesn’t mean that we have to engage with them; we can and should opt out of their designs on us.

The danger for law-abiding citizens who say they have nothing to fear because they are not terrorists, beware: many peaceful British protesters have been arrested under the Prevention Of Terrorism Act since its introduction in 2005.

This is disturbing.

She says that smartphones suck, “It’s one more reason to conclude that smartphones suck.”  They don’t suck.  They provide extraordinary value.  It’s just that the value lies more in the hands of the folks who enjoy sticking their nose in your business and try to destroy you.  Make no mistake about it–the snoopers are there to destroy you.  Why doesn’t McAdam mention any of this?  Instead, she sings that hackneyed lament about the loss of privacy and loss of freedom.  Get over it, honey.  We live in a police state, where the military and the police sell their tools to private enterprise who also uses these nefarious tools against anyone they deem fit, which is everyone.

Maybe courageous, maybe helpful, I do like what Snowden did I do think that his information is only marginally valuable.  It certainly hasn’t stopped the military or the NSA or Verizon from snooping on us.  Note, too, how his revelations came during the Obama Administration, the president who presided over the largest expansion of surveillance programs in U.S. history.  So there’s that.  And then there are the careers that have been destroyed by this whistleblowing trend.  Yet government has grown, not reduced.

One of the benefits of torture is that it creates false propaganda or fear that any government or group can use to scare and control others.  Drake’s remarks again play out.

Here is Judge Napolitano with a concise assessment of the situation in the U.S.  But remember, too, that the U.S. and British intelligence communities share tools.  So there’s that.

h/t Lew Rockwell

This site might be worthwhile.

Companies most exposed to Chinese competition create millions of jobs

Study Claims: China Took U.S. Jobs.  Chinese imports cost U.S. 2.4 million jobs in 12 years.  [Source: Autor: Dorn & Hanson, 2016.]  “The Chinese took our jobs and destroyed our economy.”  DEAD WRONG!

The U.S. economy loses almost 5 million jobs every month?  And who created most of those jobs?  The companies most exposed to Chinese competition.  Sure, they lost some jobs but they created more new jobs, in the areas where China is less competitive.

Firms exposed to Chinese competition expanded employment by 2% more per year than those not exposed.  [Source: Ildiko Magyari, 2017.]

“Sure, they took our jobs, but they gave us better jobs in return.”

 

 

[Jobs Are Not an End to Themselves.] “In a free market, employment is a value creation process”

But employment is not an end in and of itself. Rather, it is a means to an end: namely the increased standard of living that the worker obtains by trading his labor for wages.

In a free market, employment is a value creation process — with jobs stemming from the wants and needs of consumers as conveyed through the price system.

It is this productive nature of free-market jobs that make them desirable and capable of increasing a worker’s standard of living.

Wages spring directly from, and are proportional to, the degree in which a job creates wealth by helping to satisfy an unmet need. As is the case for all mutually-agreeable trades in a free market, both sides gain and wealth is created: the worker receives wages that he values more than his labor and the consumer receives a product or service he values more than its price.

This is fantastic.  It illustrates exactly the expectations in the workplace.  Too many folks look at jobs as though they’re being rewarded for their skills or past work history. Only marginally.  The fact is that the employer is taking a risk on you to create wealth and to add value to his enterprise.  Once you do that, then you’ll be rewarded if your position isn’t so redundant that a robot could take it over in 6 weeks.

Dysfunctional: Talented Kids Not Enrolled in Public Schools

Spell “dysfunctional.”

Definition: “A 6-year-old child who is not in a public school.”

–Gary North

By the way, I post this article not to poke fun at public school teachers, for I’s was one. Public school teachers work awfully hard, grading, teaching, managing almost two hundred students each day.  It is as impossible as it sounds.  Still, these heroic men and women show up to lay the groundwork in language, ethics, history, math, and science. And if some schools still have it, art, music, and drama.  It’s just that the environment seems so bad to me it seems to coerce folks to surrender their convictions and replace it with their obedience. Kind of cruel.

Hooray for Edith Fuller.

h/t Lew Rockwell

OXON HILL, Md. — Waiting on the stage with contestants twice her age, 6-year-old Edith Fuller is so small her feet don’t touch the ground. But wait until you see her foundation of knowledge — as seen in video from the National Spelling Bee, where they ask her to spell “nyctinasty.”

“Nyctinasty. Will you please give me the definition?” she asked.

“Nyctinasty is the movement of a flat plant part as the opening and closing of some flowers that is associated with daily changes of temperature or light intensity,” a Spelling Bee official said.

“Nyctinasty. Will you please give me the language of origin?” Fuller requsted.

“It’s made up of Greek elements that were probably first combined in German,” the official responded.

Then Fuller goes for the correct spelling.

“Nyctinasty. N-Y-C-T-I-N-A-S-T-Y, nyctinasty,” she said.

Keep reading . . . 

Skilled Jobs Are Available & Pay Well

Mike Rowe does a nice job of contrasting skills with schooling. Unfortunately, the skills you learn in school are, what’s the word, academic and not lucrative.

Kids are taught that manual-skilled jobs are not good jobs.  Talk about a disservice the schools are doing to kids.  With the help of guidance counselors, parents, etc., “We almost indoctrinate them to avoid a whole category of perfectly legitimate occupations.”

h/t Robert Wenzel

This is worth listening to too.

Success cannot be achieved without hard work.

“Iranian women have rights and political freedoms that are utterly unknown in Saudi Arabia.”

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation.

by Eric Margolis, posted @ LewRockwell.com

The Great White Father came to Saudi Arabia last week to harangue some 50 Arab and African despots on the glories of Trumpism, democracy and the need to fight what the Americans call terrorism.

Having covered the Mideast for many decades, I cannot think of a more bizarre or comical spectacle.  Here was Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most repressive regimes, hosting the glad-handing US president who hates Islam and the Mideast with irrational passion.

I was amazed to learn that Trump’s speech to the Arab and African attendees had been written by pro-Israel ideologue Stephen Miller, a young senior White House staffer from California who is an extreme Zionist.  How very bizarre.

Not only that, Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, who are also strongly pro-Israel, were with him. So too was the powerful commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, another ardent pro-Israel cabinet member with whom I spent a weekend last year.  Billionaire Ross performed the traditional Saudi sword dance with skill and verve.

Listening to Trump and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, blast Iran as the font of terrorism provided another big joke.  Trump’s tirade against Tehran was delivered in Saudi Arabia, a feudal monarchy that holds no elections, cuts off the heads of some 80-90 people annually, and treats women like cattle.  While claiming to be the leader of the Muslim world, the Saudi royal family funds mayhem and extreme Muslim obscurantism through the region.  The current wave of primitive violence by some self-professed Muslims – ISIS being the leader – was originally funded and guided by the Saudis in a covert struggle to combat revolutionary Iran.  I saw this happen in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Let’s recall 15 of the 18 men who attacked the US on 9/11 were Saudis.

Iran has the freest political system in the Mideast except for Israel.  Iranian women have rights and political freedoms that are utterly unknown in Saudi Arabia.  Iran just held a fair and open national election in which moderates won. Compare this to Saudi Arabia’s medieval Bedouin society.   I was once arrested by the religious police in Jeddah just for walking down a street with an Egyptian lady.

Today, US and British equipped Saudi forces are laying waste to wretched Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation.  As a result of a Saudi air, land and sea blockade, the UN now reports that famine has gripped large parts of Yemen.   US and British technicians are keeping the Saudi air force flying; the US and Britain supply the bombs.

President Trump arrived with a bag of $110 billion worth of arms (some already approved by the Obama administration), and a promise of $350 billion worth in ten years.   There was nothing new about this arms bazaar: for over a decade the Saudis have bought warehouses of US arms in exchange for keeping oil prices low and fronting for US interests in the Muslim world. Most of these arms remain in storage as the Saudis don’t know how to use them.

Many of America’s most important arms makers are located in politically important US states. The Saudis were so deeply in bed with the Republicans that their former ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar, was known to one and all as ‘Bandar Bush.’  Saudi money and influence has flowed far and wide across the US political landscape.  That’s how the Saudis get away with mass killing in Yemen, funding ISIS and ravaging Syria with hardly any peeps of protest from Congress.

By now, it’s perfectly clear that the long secret relationship between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates has finally come into the open.  Israel and its rich Arab friends all hate Iran, they oppose Palestinian rights, and fear revolution in the Arab world.

The two most reactionary Arab states, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are now close allies, though they compete over who will lead the Arab world.  Neither despotic regime has any right to do so.  Trump lauded the Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sissi who overthrew Egypt’s first ever democratically elected government (with Saudi help), gunned down hundreds of protestors, jailed and tortured thousands.  Suspects in Egypt are routinely subjected to savage beatings and anal rape.

As I tried to explain in my second book, ‘American Raj,’ the brutal, corrupt regimes we westerners have imposed on the Arab world and Africa are the main cause of what we call ‘terrorism.’  So too the wars we have waged in the region to impose our will and economic exploitation. It’s blowback, pure and simple. So-called terrorism is not at all about Islam as our politicians, led by Trump of Arabia, falsely claim.

But no shoes were thrown at Trump by his audience. They were too scared of their heads being cut off by our democratic ally.