Prohibition And The Socialist Ideal

Submitted by Tho Bishop via The Mises Institute,

Under the capitalistic system the ultimate bosses are the consumers. The sovereign is not the state, it is the people. And the proof that they are the sovereign is borne out by the fact that they have the right to be foolish. This is the privilege of the sovereign. He has the right to make mistakes, no one can prevent him from making them, but of course he has to pay for his mistakes. If we say the consumer is supreme or that the consumer is sovereign, we do not say that the consumer is free from faults, that the consumer is a man who always knows what would be best for him. The consumers very often buy things or consume things they ought not to buy or ought not to consume.

But the notion that a capitalist form of government can prevent people from hurting themselves by controlling their consumption is false. The idea of government as a paternal authority, as a guardian for everybody, is the idea of those who favor socialism. In the United States some years ago, the government tried what was called “a noble experiment.” This noble experiment was a law making it illegal to buy or sell intoxicating beverages. It is certainly true that many people drink too much brandy and whiskey, and that they may hurt themselves by doing so. Some authorities in the United States are even opposed to smoking. Certainly there are many people who smoke too much and who smoke in spite of the fact that it would be better for them not to smoke. This raises a question which goes far beyond economic discussion: it shows what freedom really means.

Granted, that it is good to keep people from hurting themselves by drinking or smoking too much. But once you have admitted this, other people will say: Is the body everything? Is not the mind of man much more important? Is not the mind of man the real human endowment, the real human quality? If you give the government the right to determine the consumption of the human body, to determine whether one should smoke or not smoke, drink or not drink, there is no good reply you can give to people who say: “More important than the body is the mind and the soul, and man hurts himself much more by reading bad books, by listening to bad music and looking at bad movies. Therefore it is the duty of the government to prevent people from committing these faults.”

And, as you know, for many hundreds of years governments and authorities believed that this really was their duty. Nor did this happen in far distant ages only; not long ago, there was a government in Germany that considered it a governmental duty to distinguish between good and bad paintings—which of course meant good and bad from the point of view of a man who, in his youth, had failed the entrance examination at the Academy of Art in Vienna; good and bad from the point of view of a picture-postcard painter, Adolf Hitler. And it became illegal for people to utter other views about art and paintings than his, the Supreme Führer’s.

Once you begin to admit that it is the duty of the government to control your consumption of alcohol, what can you reply to those who say the control of books and ideas is much more important?

Freedom really means the freedom to make mistakes. This we have to realize. We may be highly critical with regard to the way in which our fellow citizens are spending their money and living their lives. We may believe that what they are doing is absolutely foolish and bad, but in a free society, there are many ways for people to air their opinions on how their fellow citizens should change their ways of life. They can write books; they can write articles; they can make speeches; they can even preach at street comers if they want—and they do this in many countries. But they must not try to police other people in order to prevent them from doing certain things simply because they themselves do not want these other people to have the freedom to do it.

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Struggling Euro Zone Nations Increasingly Forced To Turn To Hedge Funds For Debt Funding

With pensions around the world increasingly reallocated funds to equity markets in a desparate effort to close funding gaps amid recklessly low central banking rates, and traditional banks tapped out by regulatory restrictions on their balance sheets, struggling Euro Zone countries are increasingly being forced to turn to hedge funds to fill their debt issuances.  As Reuters points out, struggling nations like Spain, Italy, Belgium and France have seen a 3x increase in debt issuance allocations to hedge funds.

With banks playing a less active part in the sovereign debt market because of pressures on their balance sheets, several countries have turned to hedge funds to sell their targeted amount of bonds, according to data, officials and bankers.

 

Spain, Italy, Belgium and France have sought to lock in record-low borrowing rates this year with 50-year bond issues for 3-5 billion euros ($3.2-$5.3 billion). Each of them reported a historically high allocation of 13-17 percent to hedge funds.

 

By contrast, just three years ago, Spain, Italy and Belgium were selling only 4-7 percent of their syndicated bond sales to that community of investors, according to data from IFR, a Thomson Reuters company. There is no comparable data for France, which does not routinely record hedge funds’ allocation.

 

“Hedge funds have grown in importance,” said Damien Carde, head of public-sector syndication for RBS, which handles bond issues for several euro zone countries. “If you need to bring a large syndication to the market it is always a plus to have that community on board.”

Euro Zone

 

And while hedge fund money is great so long as it’s helping to fill out primary issuance order books, the long-term volatility impacts on secondary trading could be disastrous for a region that has narrowly survived several debt crises since 2007.

He warned, however, that the tag of “fast money” still applied to hedge funds. “They have a very active investment approach, they will invest when they anticipate to make a decent short-term return. But as soon as the prospect of earnings disappears, they will leave.”

 

“Certainly any asset class where there is fast money being brought in that might bring added volatility and displacement of prices that aren’t real, that is unwelcome,” said Darren Ruane, head of fixed interest at Investec Wealth & Investment.

 

“Hedge funds could engage in yield-curve trades, say anticipating higher yields at the short end and either higher or lower yields at the long end, depending on their view of whether long-term inflation can be controlled,” he added. “When that unwinds that is really unhelpful.”

Of course, the risk of bond market volatility is exacerbated by the rising populist tide around the world that has already resulted in BREXIT and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.  As the Wall Street Journal points out, as Italians are set to go to the polls on December 4th to vote on their own referendum the negative consequences of bond market volatility are already starting to surface there.

A populist revolt that propelled Donald Trump and the Brexit vote is sweeping the developed world and threatens to unseat established leaders in an Italian referendum next month, and Dutch, French and German elections in 2017.

 

Any such political shocks, compounded by rising bond market volatility, could potentially trigger a sell-off – a risk that stirs painful memories of the region’s debt crisis in 2010-2012 when a bond rout led to several countries unable to pay their debts and raised fears the euro zone could unravel.

Italy

 

Perhaps Europeans would be wise to review Aesop’s Fables?

Euro

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THAAD Is Coming To China’s Doorstep (But Beijing Has A Plan To Push Back)

Submitted by Nan Li via Strategic-Culture.org,

After months of negotiation, the United States and South Korea announced on July 8 their decision to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea. During a press briefing, China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said that Beijing is “firmly opposed to the proposed THAAD deployment… and will take necessary measures to maintain national strategic security as well as regional equilibrium”.

Why Is China Opposed to THAAD Deployment?

Chinese analysts are particularly concerned about THAAD’s X-band radar. Even though it would be configured as a fire-control radar with a detection range of 600 km, it perhaps could be reconfigured as an early-warning radar, which allows a detection range exceeding 2,000 km. Such a range suggests that China’s missile activities on land and at sea in northern and eastern China may be mostly exposed. The radar allegedly can see the critical processes where warheads and decoys are released during China’s strategic missile tests. In times of war, it can undermine the reliability of China’s strategic deterrent because in comparison with Alaska-based radars, it is believed to be capable of acquiring more than ten minutes of early warning time against China’s strategic ballistic missiles. It can also differentiate real warheads from decoys. If integrated into the U.S. national missile defense network, this radar allegedly can increase the odds of success in intercepting Chinese missiles even at their “boost phase,” reducing further the reliability of China’s already small strategic deterrent and tilting the strategic balance in favor of the United States.

Moreover, Chinese analysts believe that the Korean Peninsula has historically been a nearby sphere critical to China’s security. They worry that by deploying THAAD, South Korea could share data with the United States and Japan on air traffic control, air defense, and early warning. This may help to integrate South Korea-based systems with U.S. and Japanese sensors and sea-based Aegis systems, with the goal of forming a trilateral strategic alliance to contain China at China’s door steps. Chinese analysts believe that North Korean nuclear tests were only an excuse used by the United States to deploy THAAD, the real U.S. intention being to drive a wedge between South Korea and China at a time when China-South Korea relations were improving substantially, as reflected in the countries’ booming bilateral trade and Park Geun-hye’s attendance at the Victory Day Parade in Beijing in September 2015. THAAD deployment would bring the United States and South Korea closer at the expense of China’s security. This could help the United States to stabilize U.S.-South Korea relations and prevent the possible loss of the U.S. military foothold on the Korean Peninsula.

Furthermore, Chinese analysts believe that THAAD deployment in South Korea may encourage Japan to import THAAD to compensate for the range deficiencies of its PAC-3 missile defense systems. They also believe that South Korea’s decision would not only harm South Korea-China relations, but also harm South Korea itself by removing its “strategic flexibility” in balancing among major powers and in handling North-South relations. By directly challenging China’s strategic security interests, some argue, South Korea has also set a bad example for China’s neighbors to follow if no substantial cost is incurred to South Korea. Finally, Chinese analysts claim that THAAD deployment would not deter North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, but instead may drive it to develop more and better nuclear weapons and missiles.

What Countermeasures Might China Take?

Chinese analysts have proposed a wide range of countermeasures to retaliate against the THAAD deployment. They argue that it is time to integrate technologies into Chinese medium-range ballistic missiles that can reinforce their penetration capabilities (????), such as those that can enhance mid-course or terminal maneuverability of warheads to dodge intercepting missiles. These technologies and measures also include integrating decoys to mislead the intercepting missiles, hardening warheads, and building more missiles. They also propose electronic countermeasures to jam THAAD radar. Some believe that China’s flight-tested DF-ZF supersonic missile delivery vehicle, which allegedly can reach the speed of Mach 10, can “turn all missile defense systems obsolete in one night.” Some also argue that in times of war, China should “at the first moment” launch strikes to destroy THAAD. To elude South Korea-based THAAD, Chinese analysts propose to deploy China’s strategic nuclear submarines to the Pacific Ocean for routine patrol. Being highly mobile and more concealed than China’s land-based nuclear deterrent, these submarines can enhance the survivability of China’s sea-based nuclear force, thus enhancing the credibility of China’s second strike nuclear capabilities.

Chinese analysts argue that to restore regional “strategic balance,” China should cooperate with Russia in developing strategic offensive weapons, particularly in developing “penetration” technologies that can defeat missile defense. Other proposed countermeasures include concealment and redeployment of China’s strategic capabilities to reduce their exposure to the THAAD radar, and accelerated development of China’s own missile defense systems.

A Moderate View?

While a majority calls for sanctions, there also exists a minority view based on a more nuanced and moderate interpretation of the THAAD deployment. On the effectiveness of THAAD to intercept short-range missiles, this view agrees that a launched North Korean Scud missile targeting Seoul may fly lower than 40 km because of the short range. This missile cannot be intercepted by THAAD because such low altitudes do not match the interception altitudes of THAAD, even though it can be intercepted by South Korea’s Patriot PAC-2/3 interceptors. But if a Scud missile is fired to hit a South Korean target 300 km away, it would reach the maximum height of 80 km and then descend to 40 km in slightly more than a minute, which matches the interception altitudes of THAAD. For this school of thought, a major challenge for South Korea is how to acquire sufficient defenses against North Korean missiles, while at the same time not undermining China’s strategic security. The best option, according to these analysts, is for South Korea to replace the current AN/TPY-2 radar with the Israeli Green Pine radar, which has an effective search range of 500 km. Such a range can provide South Korea sufficient protection against North Korean missiles, while posing no threat to China’s strategic missiles.

A Critique

China’s security analysts have offered great insights into why China is opposed to THAAD deployment in South Korea, and what countermeasures China might take to “maintain national strategic security as well as regional equilibrium.” However, a few important issues may require closer scrutiny in order to gain a balanced understanding of THAAD deployment in South Korea.

As pointed out by Chinese analysts, it is probably true that the interception altitudes of THAAD match the “terminal phase” of longer-range Chinese ballistic missiles, or those with ranges exceeding 3,500 km, including China’s ICBMs. Of note, however, is that these Chinese missiles are not intended for targets in East Asia. If launched, they are unlikely to have their “descending” or “terminal phase” in this region. So they are less likely to be intercepted by South Korea-based THAAD.

South Korea-based THAAD is more likely intended to intercept China’s medium-range ballistic missiles, or those with ranges between 1,000 and 3,500 km, including China’s DF-21 and DF-26 missiles. This is because these missiles may aim at military targets in the Asia-Pacific region, including U.S. military bases in Japan and on Guam, and its aircraft carrier strike groups deployed in this region. But because North Korea is also developing and deploying medium-range ballistic missiles, it is reasonable to assume that THAAD is intended to intercept both North Korean and Chinese medium-range ballistic missiles.

As mentioned earlier by some Chinese analysts, THAAD can be effective in intercepting a North Korean short-range ballistic missile attempting to hit a South Korean target 300 km away, because its “terminal phase” matches the interception altitudes of THAAD. It is also known that the North Korean ballistic missile arsenal consists mainly of hundreds of modified Scud missiles with ranges between 300 and 700 km. Because these missiles can hit any South Korean target beyond the Seoul area (which is protected by Patriot PAC2/3 interceptors), the primary objective for deploying THAAD in South Korea is in all likelihood for defending against short-range ballistic missiles from North Korea.

Chinese analysts believe that the X-band radar can gain more than ten minutes of early warning time compared to Alaska-based radars against Chinese strategic missiles flying toward the United States, which undermines the reliability of China’s already small strategic deterrent. Assuming this radar can easily be converted to an early-warning radar, however, whatever extra time it can contribute to early warning against Chinese missiles may become less significant for two reasons. One is that the two Japan-based X-band radars can also see the flight paths of Chinese missiles early and provide somewhat similar extra early warning time. The other is that the U.S. ballistic missile early-warning systems based on constellations of satellites, either deployed or under development such as the Space-Based Infrared System, may also be capable of provide early warning time sufficient to marginalize the contribution of the South Korea-based X-band radar.

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When It Comes To Fake News, The U.S. Government Is The Biggest Culprit

Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth.”—Former New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg

Let’s talk about fake news stories, shall we?

There’s the garden variety fake news that is not really “news” so much as it is titillating, tabloid-worthy material peddled by anyone with a Twitter account, a Facebook page and an active imagination. These stories run the gamut from the ridiculous and the obviously click-baity to the satirical and politically manipulative.

Anyone with an ounce of sense and access to the Internet should be able to ferret out the truth and lies in these stories with some basic research. That these stories flourish is largely owing to the general gullibility, laziness and media illiteracy of the general public, which through its learned compliance rarely questions, challenges or confronts.

Then there’s the more devious kind of news stories circulated by one of the biggest propagators of fake news: the U.S. government.

In the midst of the media’s sudden headline-blaring apoplexy over fake news, you won’t hear much about the government’s role in producing, planting and peddling propaganda-driven fake news—often with the help of the corporate news media—because that’s not how the game works.

Why?

Because the powers-that-be don’t want us skeptical of the government’s message or its corporate accomplices in the mainstream media. They don’t want us to be more discerning when it comes to what information we digest online. They just want us to be leery of independent or alternative news sources while trusting them—and their corporate colleagues—to vet the news for us.

Indeed, the New York Times has suggested that Facebook and Google appoint themselves the arbiters of truth on the internet in order to screen out what is blatantly false, spam or click-baity.

Not only would this establish a dangerous precedent for all-out censorship by corporate entities known for colluding with the government but it’s also a slick sleight-of-hand maneuver that diverts attention from what we should really be talking about: the fact that the government has grown dangerously out-of-control, all the while the so-called mainstream news media, which is supposed to act as a bulwark against government propaganda, has instead become the mouthpiece of the world’s largest corporation—the U.S. government.

As veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, who along with Bob Woodward blew the lid off the Watergate scandal, reported in his expansive 1977 Rolling Stone piece, “The CIA and the Media”:

“More than 400 American journalists … in the past twenty?five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence AgencyThere was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services… Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters… In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.”

Bernstein is referring to Operation Mockingbird, a CIA campaign started in the 1950s to plant intelligence reports among reporters at more than 25 major newspapers and wire agencies, who would then regurgitate them for a public oblivious to the fact that they were being fed government propaganda.

In some instances, as Bernstein shows, members of the media also served as extensions of the surveillance state, with reporters actually carrying out assignments for the CIA.

Executives with CBS, the New York Times and Time magazine also worked closely with the CIA to vet the news. Bernstein writes: “Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps?Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald?Tribune.”

For example, in August 1964, the nation’s leading newspapers—including the Washington Post and New York Times—echoed Lyndon Johnson’s claim that North Vietnam had launched a second round of attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. No such attacks had taken place, and yet the damage was done. As Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon report for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “By reporting official claims as absolute truths, American journalism opened the floodgates for the bloody Vietnam War.”

Fast forward to the early post-9/11 years when, despite a lack of any credible data supporting the existence of weapons of mass destruction, the mainstream media jumped on the bandwagon to sound the war drums against Iraq. As Los Angeles Times columnist Robin Abcarian put it, “our government … used its immense bully pulpit to steamroll the watchdogs… Many were gulled by access to administration insiders, or susceptible to the drumbeat of the government’s coordinated rhetoric.”

John Walcott, Washington bureau chief for Knight-Ridder, one of the only news agencies to challenge the government’s rationale for invading Iraq, suggests that the reason for the media’s easy acceptance is that “too many journalists, including some very famous ones, have surrendered their independence in order to become part of the ruling class. Journalism is, as the motto goes, speaking truth to power, not wielding it.”

If it was happening then, you can bet it’s still happening today, only it’s been reclassified, renamed and hidden behind layers of government secrecy, obfuscation and spin.

In its article, “How the American government is trying to control what you think,” the Washington Post points out “Government agencies historically have made a habit of crossing the blurry line between informing the public and propagandizing.”

Thus, whether you’re talking about the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the government’s invasion of Iraq based upon absolute fabrications, or the government’s so-called war on terror, privacy and whistleblowers, it’s being driven by propaganda churned out by one corporate machine (the corporate-controlled government) and fed to the American people by way of yet another corporate machine (the corporate-controlled media).

“For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it,” writes investigative journalist Nick Davies. “The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news.”

But wait.

If the mass media—aka the mainstream media or the corporate or establishment media—is merely repeating what is being fed to it, who are the masterminds within the government responsible for this propaganda?

Davies explains:

The Pentagon has now designated “information operations” as its fifth “core competency” alongside land, sea, air and special forces. Since October 2006, every brigade, division and corps in the US military has had its own "psyop" element producing output for local media. This military activity is linked to the State Department's campaign of "public diplomacy" which includes funding radio stations and news websites.

This use of propaganda disguised as journalism is what journalist John Pilger refers to as “invisible government… the true ruling power of our country.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we no longer have a Fourth Estate.

Not when the “news” we receive is routinely manufactured, manipulated and made-to-order by government agents. Not when six corporations control 90% of the media in America. And not when, as Davies laments, “news organizations which might otherwise have exposed the truth were themselves part of the abuse, and so they kept silent, indulging in a comic parody of misreporting, hiding the emerging scandal from their readers like a Victorian nanny covering the children’s eyes from an accident in the street.”

So let’s have no more of this handwringing, heart-wrenching, morally offended talk about fake news by media outlets that have become propagandists for the false reality created by the American government.

After all, as Glenn Greenwald points out, “The term propaganda rings melodramatic and exaggerated, but a press that—whether from fear, careerism, or conviction—uncritically recites false government claims and reports them as fact, or treats elected officials with a reverence reserved for royalty, cannot be accurately described as engaged in any other function.”

So where does that leave us?

What should—or can—we do?

I’ll close with John Pilger’s words of warning and advice:

Real information, subversive information, remains the most potent power of all — and I believe that we must not fall into the trap of believing that the media speaks for the public. That wasn’t true in Stalinist Czechoslovakia and it isn’t true of the United States. In all the years I’ve been a journalist, I’ve never known public consciousness to have risen as fast as it’s rising today…yet this growing critical public awareness is all the more remarkable when you consider the sheer scale of indoctrination, the mythology of a superior way of life, and the current manufactured state of fear.

[The public] need[s] truth, and journalists ought to be agents of truth, not the courtiers of power. I believe a fifth estate is possible, the product of a people’s movement, that monitors, deconstructs, and counters the corporate media. In every university, in every media college, in every news room, teachers of journalism, journalists themselves need to ask themselves about the part they now play in the bloodshed in the name of a bogus objectivity. Such a movement within the media could herald a perestroika of a kind that we have never known. This is all possible. Silences can be broken… In the United States wonderfully free rebellious spirits populate the web… The best reporting … appears on the web … and citizen reporters.

The challenge for the rest of us is to lift this subjugated knowledge from out of the underground and take it to ordinary people. We need to make haste. Liberal Democracy is moving toward a form of corporate dictatorship. This is an historic shift, and the media must not be allowed to be its façade, but itself made into a popular, burning issue, and subjected to direct action. That great whistleblower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and the ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the Bastille of words. That time is now.

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Equity Market Melt-Up Continues: Dow Futures Top 19,000, S&P Breaks 2,200

In the words of the great philosopher Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond.” Oil’s incessant liftathon – on hopes that a production freeze at record highs will seriously impact a record seasonal glut – appears to have sparked more panic-buying in stocks overnight as no news whatsoever has the machines incessantly bidding futures, pushing Dow futures over 19,000 and S&P futures over 2,200. Bonds are flat, USDJPY is flat, and offshore yuan is modestly weaker once again.

 

After the squeeze-fest from the Trump win, oil is now in charge tick for tick of stocks…

 

Just another manic-monday-melt-up…

 

Leaves stocks once again pushing to new record highs post-Trump lows…

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Minimum Wage Protesters Call For “Day Of Disruption” In 340 US Cities

In what may be an early crisis test for the president-elect, on November 29, the nationwide campaign to increase the federal minimum wage in the United States has calling for a “Day of Disruption”, namely strikes and civil disobedience, on November 29 in the latest push to raise the minimum wage in the US to $15.

The Fight for 15 group is preparing to protest in 340 cities across the United States, and is calling for airport and fast-food workers to strike.

Group representatives have stated that they expect subcontracted service staff at roughly 20 airports to participate. It is anticipated to be the largest day of protest in the organization’s four year history, coinciding with the anniversary of the launch of the movement.

“Tuesday, November 29, the #FightFor15 is staging a national day of disruption. We won’t back down,” the Fight for 15 Twitter account posted on Monday morning.

On its website, the campaign writes the following statement: “For too long, McDonald’s and low-wage employers have made billions of
dollars in profit and pushed off costs onto taxpayers, while leaving
people like us – the people who do the real work – to struggle to
survive. That’s why we strike.”

Fight for 15 began in New York City, as fast-food workers went on strike demanding $15-an-hour pay, as well as union rights. The movement was successful, and in April of this year NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law to increase wages to a $15 minimum by the end of 2018 in New York City, and by 2021 in other counties, including Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.

For the rest of the state, the minimum wage will be raised to $12.50 by the end of 2020.

The movement has since spread to over 300 cities on six different continents, and has seen additional successes, winning $15 an hour in the state of California, and in large cities such as Seattle. Other cities, including Portland and Chicago, have seen significant minimum-wage increases.

While previously the group’s demands have been ignored at the Federal level, in a potential complication this July, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump broke from his party’s platform, promising to increase the federal minimum wage, which may boost the leverage of the protesting organization.

However, Trump acknowledged that states with more expensive urban regions need to have a higher minimum wage than lower-cost rural areas.

Minimum-wage regulations, Trump noted, are most feasible when they are based on the living costs in each particular area, rendering the federal wage level regulations largely irrelevant to the economic reality in different regions of the US.

With a $10/hour federal minimum wage, individual states, he claims, could go above that threshold. “I would leave it and raise it somewhat. You need to help people and I know it’s not very Republican to say but you need to help people,” Trump said in his July interview.

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Why America Called ‘Bullshit’ On The Cult Of Clinton

Submitted by Brendan O'Neill via Reason.com,

The one good thing about Trump’s win? It shows a willingness among Americans to blaspheme against saints and reject the religion of hollow progressiveness.

If you want to see politics based on emotionalism over reason and a borderline-religious devotion to an iconic figure, forget the Trump Army; look instead to the Cult of Clinton.

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidential election, all eyes, and wringing hands, have been on the white blob who voted for him. These "loud, illiterate and credulous people," as a sap at Salon brands them, think on an "emotional level." Bill Moyers warned that ours is a "dark age of unreason," in which "low information" folks are lining up behind "The Trump Emotion Machine." Andrew Sullivan said Trump supporters relate to him as a "cult leader fused with the idea of the nation."

What's funny about this is not simply that it's the biggest chattering-class hissy fit of the 21st century so far — and chattering-class hissy fits are always funny. It's that whatever you think of Trump (I'm not a fan) or his supporters (I think they're mostly normal, good people), the fact is they've got nothing on the Clinton cult when it comes to creepy, pious worship of a politician.

By the Cult of Hillary Clinton, I don't mean the nearly 62 million Americans who voted for her. I have not one doubt that they are as mixed and normal a bag of people as the Trumpites are. No, I mean the Hillary machine—the celebs and activists and hacks who were so devoted to getting her elected and who have spent the past week sobbing and moaning over her loss. These people exhibit cult-like behavior far more than any Trump cheerer I've come across.

Trump supporters view their man as a leader "fused with the idea of the nation"? Perhaps some do, but at least they don't see him as "light itself." That's how Clinton was described in the subhead of a piece for Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter. "Maybe [Clinton] is more than a president," gushed writer Virginia Heffernan. "Maybe she is an idea, a world-historical heroine, light itself," Nothing this nutty has been said by any of Trump's media fanboys.

"Hillary is Athena," Heffernan continued, adding that "Hillary did everything right in this campaign… She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second."

That's a key cry of the Cult of Hillary (as it is among followers of L. Ron Hubbard or devotees of Christ): our gal is beyond criticism, beyond the sober and technical analysis of mere humans. Michael Moore, in his movie Trumpland, looked out at his audience and, with voice breaking, said: "Maybe Hillary could be our Pope Francis."

Or consider Kate McKinnon's post-election opening bit on SNL, in which she played Clinton as a pantsuited angel at a piano singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," her voice almost cracking as she sang: "I told the truth, I didn't come to fool ya." Just imagine if some right-leaning Christian celeb (are there any?) had dolled up as Trump-as-godhead and sang praises to him. It would have been the source of East Coast mirth for years to come. But SNL's Hallelujah for Hillary was seen as perfectly normal.

As with all saints and prophets, all human manifestations of light itself, the problem is never with them, but with us. We mortals are not worthy of Hillary. "Hillary didn't fail us, we failed her," asserted a writer for the Guardian. The press, and by extension the rest of us, "crucified her," claimed someone at Bustle. We always do that to messiahs, assholes that we are.

And of course the light of Hillary had to be guarded against blasphemy. Truly did the Cult of Hillary seek to put her beyond "analysis for even one more second." All that stuff about her emails and Libya was pseudo-scandal, inventions of her aspiring slayers, they told us again and again and again.

As Thomas Frank says, the insistence that Hillary was scandal-free had a blasphemy-deflecting feel to it. The message was that "Hillary was virtually without flaws… a peerless leader clad in saintly white… a caring benefactor of women and children." Mother Teresa in a pantsuit, basically. As a result, wrote Frank, "the act of opening a newspaper started to feel like tuning in to a Cold War propaganda station."

Then there was the reaction to Clinton's loss. It just wasn't normal chattering-class behavior. Of course we expect weeping, wailing videos from the likes of Miley Cyrus and Perez Hilton about how Clinton had been robbed of her moment of glory; that's what celebs do these days. But in the media, too, there was hysteria.

"'I feel hated,' I tell my husband, sobbing in front of the TV in my yoga pants and Hillary sweatshirt, holding my bare neck," said a feminist in the Guardian. Crying was a major theme. A British feminist recalled all the "Clinton-related crying" she had done: "I've cried at the pantsuit flashmob, your Saturday Night Live appearance, and sometimes just while watching the debates." (Wonder if she cried over the women killed as a result of Hillary's machinations in Libya? Probably not. In the mind of the Hillary cultists, that didn't happen—it is utterly spurious, a blasphemy.)

Then there was Lena Dunham, who came out in hives—actual hives—when she heard Clinton had lost. Her party dress "felt tight and itchy." She "ached in the places that make me a woman." I understand being upset and angry at your candidate's loss, but this is something different; this is what happens, not when a politician does badly, but when your savior, your Athena, "light itself," is extinguished. The grief is understandable only in the context of the apocalyptic faith they had put in Hillary. Not since Princess Diana kicked the bucket can I remember such a strange, misplaced belief in one woman, and such a weird, post-modern response to someone's demise (and Clinton isn't even dead! She just lost!).

It's all incredibly revealing. What it points to is a mainstream, Democratic left that is so bereft of ideas and so disconnected from everyday people that it ends up pursuing an utterly substance-free politics of emotion and feeling and doesn't even realize it's doing it. They are good, everyone else is bad; they are light itself, everyone else is darkness; and so no self-awareness can exist and no self-criticism can be entertained. Not for even one second, in Heffernan's words. The Cult of Hillary Clinton is the clearest manifestation yet of the 21st-century problem of life in the political echo chamber.

Mercifully, some mea culpas are now emerging. Some, though not enough, realize that Hillaryites behaved rashly and with unreason. In a brilliant piece titled "The unbearable smugness of the liberal media," Will Rahn recounts how the media allowed itself to become the earthly instrument of Clinton's cause, obsessed with finding out how to make Middle Americans "stop worshiping their false god and accept our gospel."

Indeed. And the failure to make the gospel of Hillary into the actual book of America points to the one good thing about Trump's victory: a willingness among ordinary people to blaspheme against saints, to reject phony saviors, and to sniff at the new secular religion of hollow progressiveness. The liberal political and media establishment offered the little people a supposedly flawless, Francis-like figure of uncommon goodness, and the little people called bullshit on it. That is epic and beautiful, even if nothing else in recent weeks has been.

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After Trump Win, Ad Agencies Admit They’re Clueless On How To Market To Midwest Consumers

Donald Trump’s election taught politicians several valuable lessons, including, but certainly not limited to, the following:

  1. More spending doesn’t necessarily equate to victory
  2. You can speak your mind without alienating voters…actually, a lot of voters kind of like/respect it
  3. The American electorate is smart enough to see through blatant pandering based on race, gender, etc.
  4. Rural populations in “flyover states” are absolutely fed up with the ruling elites of the establishment

But politicians aren’t the only ones learning valuable lessons from Trump’s stunning victory as advertising agencies have also been forced to admit that they have no idea how to market to the Midwest.  As the CEO of McCann Worldgroup pointed out the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s victory highlighted the error of gearing marketing programs exclusively “toward metro elite imagery” saying that future efforts need to incorporate a bit more “Des Moines and Scranton” and a little less NYC and Los Angeles.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president with a wave of support from middle American voters, advertisers are reflecting on whether they are out of touch with the same people—rural, economically frustrated, elite-distrusting, anti-globalization voters—who propelled the businessman into the White House. Mr. Trump’s rise has them rethinking the way they collect data about consumers, recruit staff and pitch products.

 

“Every so often you have to reset what is the aspirational goal the public has with regard to the products we sell,” said Harris Diamond, McCann’s CEO. “So many marketing programs are oriented toward metro elite imagery.” Marketing needs to reflect less of New York and Los Angeles culture, he said, and more of “Des Moines and Scranton.”

Midwest

 

Like the large hedge funds and investment banks of wall street, most the people employed by the large, successful ad agencies happen to reside in NYC and Los Angeles.  And, while those offices are well staffed to target consumers in the large metropolitan cities of the U.S. , they are uniquely unqualified to speak to the hearts and minds of people living in the “flyover” states that they loathe to visit.  As one advertising CEO points out, a diversity hire “can be a farm girl from Indiana as much as a Cuban immigrant who lives in Pensacola.”

Some marketers, concerned that data isn’t telling them everything they need to know, are considering increasing their use of personal interviews in research. Meanwhile, some ad agencies are looking to hire more people from rural areas as they rethink the popular use of aspirational messaging showcasing a ritzy life on the two metropolitan coasts. One company is also weighing whether to open more local offices around the world, where the people who create ads are closer to the people who see them.

 

“This election is a seminal moment for marketers to step back and understand what is in people’s heads and what actually drives consumer choice,” said Joe Tripodi, chief marketing officer of the Subway sandwich chain.

 

Even as many ad agencies try to improve their gender and racial diversity, industry executives say they also need to ensure their U.S. employees come from varied socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds.

 

A diversity hire “can be a farm girl from Indiana as much as a Cuban immigrant who lives in Pensacola,” said John Boiler, chief executive of the agency 72andSunny, whose clients include General Mills Inc. and Coors Light. The agency plans to expand its university recruitment programs to include rural areas.

Like the pollsters who completely missed Trump’s victory, advertising agencies admit that their customers will likely reduce spending over the next several months as everyone “re-calibrates” their models to reflect the fact that not everyone lives in NYC, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Advertising executives also said the surprising outcome to the election would likely hamper advertising spending next year, as marketers try to figure out what implications the new administration’s decisions will have on businesses.

 

WPP’s GroupM, the largest ad buying firm in the world, had been anticipating U.S. ad spending would grow 3% to $183.9 billion next year. Kelly Clark, global CEO of GroupM, now said he anticipates ad spending growth in the U.S. will likely decline a few percentage points over the next six months. “We do believe that investment decisions will be delayed,” said Mr. Clark.

 

If agencies internalize the societal changes the election reflected, the content or tone of advertising could change, some ad executives predicted.

 

“The election will have spooked the liberal elite away from high concept, ‘make the world a better place’” advertising to “a more down-to-earth ‘tell me what you will do for me’ approach” said Robert Senior, worldwide chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi, a creative firm owned by Publicis Groupe.

Isn’t it just glorious to see the Ivy League-educated, coastal elites admit that they know absolutely nothing about roughly 50% of the people residing in their own country?

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Japanese Troops Deploy To South Sudan Risking First Overseas Conflict Since World War II”

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

The re-miliarization of Japan has been on my radar and caused me much concern in recent years. I’ve covered the topic on several occasions, with the most recent example published over the summer in the post, Japanese Government Shifts Further Toward Authoritarianism and Militarism. Here are the first few paragraphs:

One of the most discomforting aspects of Neil Howe and William Strauss’ seminal work on generational cycles, The Fourth Turning (1997), is the fact that as far as American history is concerned, they all climax and end with massive wars.

 

To be more specific, the first “fourth turning” in American history culminated with the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the second culminated with the Civil War (1861-1865), while the third ended with the bloodiest war in world history, World War II (1939-1945). The number of years between the end of the Revolutionary War and the start of the Civil War was 78 years, and the number of years between the end of the Civil War and the start of World War II was 74 years (76 years if you use America’s entry into the war as your starting date). Therefore, if Howe & Strauss’ theory holds any water, and I think it does, we’re due for a major conflict somewhere around 75 years from the end of World War II. That brings us to 2020.

 

The more I look around, the more signs appear everywhere that the world is headed into another major conflict. From an unnecessary resurgence of a Cold War with Russia, to increased tensions in the South China Sea and complete chaos and destruction in the Middle East, the world is a gigantic tinderbox. All it will take to transform these already existing conflict zones into a major conflagration is another severe global economic downturn, something I fully expect to happen within the next 1-2 years. Frighteningly, this puts on a perfect collision course with the 2020 area.

Although I felt World War 3 was a virtual lock under Hillary Clinton, the election of Trump does not negate historical cycles or current geopolitical trends, and the world continues to move in a very dangerous direction.

While the below snippet from a Reuters article published today may not seem like a big deal, it’s just a small part of a much larger trend.

Via Reuters:

A contingent of Japanese troops landed in South Sudan on Monday, an official said – a mission that critics say could see them embroiled in their country’s first overseas fighting since World War Two.

 

The soldiers will join U.N. peacekeepers and help build infrastructure in the landlocked and impoverished country torn apart by years of civil war.

 

But, under new powers granted by their government last year, they will be allowed to respond to urgent calls for help from U.N. staff and aid workers. There are also plans to let them guard U.N. bases, which have been attacked during the fighting.

 

The deployment of 350 soldiers is in line with Japanese security legislation to expand the military’s role overseas. Critics in Japan have said the move risks pulling the troops into conflict for the first time in more than seven decades.

All it would take is a sharp global economic downturn to push world “leaders” towards overseas conflict in order to distract from problems at home. The risk is very real.

 

*  *  *

For prior articles on the trend toward militarization in Japan, see:

Unusually Massive Protests Erupt in Japan Against Forthcoming “War Legislation”

Video of the Day – Brawl Breaks Out in Japanese Parliament Over “War Bill”

How Japan’s “Stealth Constitution” Destroys Civil Rights and Sets the Stage for Dictatorship

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