From my post on the positive aspects of Trump for those who favor libertarianism and decentralization – certainly when compared with the alternatives – I offer one of the several positive items:
He questions trade deals. I understand the dilemma that this presents for libertarians and free market types, but we can’t have it both ways: we know that the so-called “free trade” foisted on us isn’t free trade, it is government management crony trade.
Matt Welch at Reason has since come out with a post precisely on this dilemma:
Libertarians have long been sensitive to the paradox near the heart of international tariff-reduction projects of the past seven decades. On one hand, increasingly free global trade flows have irrefutably played an outsized role in lifting a billion people out of poverty in the last quarter-century alone. On the other, multilateral trade agreements by definition create institutions, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), beyond the direct reach of sovereign democratic polities.
A reasonably good statement; unfortunately, not leaving well enough alone….
Those of us who have accepted that trade-off have found ourselves for decades having to both defend and try to improve from within the “Washington consensus” on liberalizing tariffs. But now that that consensus has been repudiated at the polls all over the Western world, it’s time for the other side of that intra-libertarian argument to make its free trade case within an imperfect vessel.
Why must those on “the other side of that intra-libertarian argument…make its free trade case within an imperfect vessel”? Commonly referred to as the Hegelian dialectic, why must libertarians (or anyone else) limit their arguments to a pre-determined set of boundaries?
So the ball’s in your court, Thomas Massie, Daniel Hannan, Ron Paul, and all the other libertarians who have argued for years that free trade agreements aren’t the same thing as free trade.
Welch is asking the impossible: play within these non-libertarian boundaries and come up with a libertarian solution. There is no libertarian solution within those boundaries: free trade agreements are not only not the same thing as free trade; they are not even free trade agreements.
Why didn’t Welch ask for Murray Rothbard to offer his arguments as to why (managed, but most certainly not) free trade agreements are not free trade? I will ask Murray:
I’m puzzled. I’d like to know why so many free-marketeers, so many free-market think-tanks and pundits, are not simply pro-Nafta, but are fervently, frantically, almost hysterically pro-Nafta.
To quote the king: is a puzzlement.
Look, I can understand, though not agree with, mild approval. An old libertarian friend of mine, for example, told me that he was mildly pro-Nafta but not really interested in the entire topic. That seems sensible.
I can understand mild approval as well; I also do not agree.
There is no libertarian answer within these pre-established boundaries. The only libertarian answer is to get government out of the trade business; this option isn’t offered. So on what libertarian basis would I disagree?
…as offered by Welch (cited above but also here for reference):
On the other [hand], multilateral trade agreements by definition create institutions, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), beyond the direct reach of sovereign democratic polities.
Multilateral trade agreements inherently require greater and greater centralization of government. Bi-lateral trade agreements (which, I believe, are somewhat more consistent with Trump’s view) do not. National solutions or international solutions: which one, in this world, is more libertarian?
Rothbard said this better 24 years ago:
The “free traders” for Nafta confront their biggest problem when we point out that, under Nafta, super-governmental commissions, unaccountable to any taxpayers, will be able to enforce and “upwardly harmonize” ever greater environmental and labor regulation standards against the wishes of the citizens of each country.
Rothbard offers that such warnings were labeled scare tactics by the Cato crowd at the time; yet, can anyone argue that this prediction did not, in fact, come true?
There is only one sensible interpretation of these “free marketeers”: that they are serving as a rather feeble figleaf for the naked seizure of power by international statism.
Rothbard is quite right, and when given the choice only of national statism vs. international statism, I will take the national version every time. Decentralize, decentralize, decentralize – it is the application of libertarian theory in the real world.
Rothbard offers a glimpse into why such “free marketeers” were (and perhaps still are) in such support of multilateral treaties like Nafta, pointing to the oil and gas billionaire Koch brothers:
Here is a possible clue to this puzzle. Take this seeming anomaly. On the one hand, in Annex 602.3 to Nafta, the allegedly “free-market” Salinas government of Mexico “reserves to itself,” in no uncertain terms, all possible provision of and investment in every aspect of the exploration, production, or refining of crude oil and natural gas.
Query: Does Koch Industries – which in November 1992 purchased 9,271 miles of natural gas pipelines to Mexico for $1.1 billion – expect to benefit heavily from Nafta?
The Libertarian Answer
There is only one libertarian answer to trade: it should be left to market participants. What does this mean in this world? Reduce import tariffs to zero. Nothing more is necessary. For those who fear that the US will be flooded with imported product and will, therefore, lose jobs, rest assured – those dastardly Chinese and Germans will have to spend those dollars somewhere – and that somewhere is in the good old USA.
Returning to Welch:
The postwar liberal trade order certainly has had its defects. Here’s hoping the additional sovereignty won’t come with an untenably protectionist price tag.
I hope so as well. However, arguing for crony trade deals that require ever-greater levels of centralization is not the solution. Instead of spending time arguing for ever-greater centralization, Matt Welch and Reason (and those who back Reason) can instead argue for the only free-market and decentralizing position – one that can be implemented unilaterally, and with no further role for state intervention and no role at all for supra-national agencies.
Remove all import tariffs. The market will take care of the rest.
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.
Traditional whitening practices have proven to be quite harmful to the longevity of our teeth.
Dental specialist Linda Greenwall has thoroughly investigated the harmful use of teeth whitening treatments, especially ones that include chlorine dioxide, and argues “these chlorine dioxide treatments are advertised as safe for teeth. It is certainly not the case.”
It remains difficult for people to find an effective and safe alternative to traditional teeth whitening practices — practices that cause serious and irreversible damage to the enamel of our teeth, which is what protects them, to begin with. Greenwall explains that chlorine dioxide whitening treatments can cause serious damage, including tooth etching, loss of tooth lustre, discoloration, stain absorption (due to loss of protective enamel), teeth feeling rough, and increased sensitivity (sometimes permanent).
Other risks include:
- Tooth fracture
- Gum irritation
- Enamel loss
If you are serious about getting whiter teeth safely, you need to first determine what is causing their discolouration to begin with. Coffee, tea, red wine, and cigarettes are all major culprits here, so start by cutting down or completely eliminating these four things.
These are the risks you face when choosing to go the conventional route. Fortunately, safer and more holistic alternatives are available.
1. Oil Pulling
This is a traditional Aryurvedic practice used to help detoxify and cleanse the body. Along with helping to whiten teeth, it also reduces tooth decay and gingivitis. Sesame oil is the traditional choice, but to see the best results, use coconut oil, which contains monolaurin, a very effective antimicrobial against the main bug implicated with tooth decay, strep mutants.
Be sure to use a high-quality oil. We often use this coconut oil due to its single origin quality. Start by taking a tablespoon of oil and swishing it in your mouth for 20 minutes. Move it through your teeth and the front and back of your mouth. Do not swallow! The longer it’s been in your mouth the more contaminated it will become, as it is literally pulling bacteria, fungi, and viruses into your mouth from your whole body. When you are done, spit it out (and brush your teeth if you’d like).
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda has a really low Relative Dentin Abrasivity, or RDA, score. The scale goes from 0 (no abrasivity) to 269 (high abrasivity), with baking soda ranking in at just 7.
How to use:
1. Take a pinch of baking soda and put it into a small glass or bowl.2. Add a small amount of purified water (ideally not tap water) to the bowl and mix it into the baking soda. The solution should be slightly runny, as you don’t want too many of the granules present. Dip your toothbrush in to get some of the solutions on the brush.3. Brush your teeth, starting with your molars and then moving to the facings and backs of your teeth.4. Optional: Once done, you can add some more water to the glass or bowl and swish it around your mouth. This will help keep your mouth alkaline.5. Rinse out your mouth with purified water as you normally would after brushing.
Other people place baking soda directly on their toothbrush and begin with the front teeth. When the solution is mixed with saliva, it becomes liquid.
White kaolin clay has a low abrasivity score and is effective as both a polish and stain remover. It is also high in calcium, silica, zinc, and magnesium, and safe for people with tooth sensitivity.
How to use:
Apply it directly onto your toothbrush, starting with your front teeth and then, as it mixes with your saliva, moving on to the rest of the mouth.
You can also combine this with baking soda.
4. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is not absorbed by the body but is itself highly absorbent, allowing it to easily remove toxins without harming the body. It is fantastic for people who have had a bout of food poising or have accidentally ingested something toxic. If you take this within 30 minutes of ingestion you should see results, but do not take it with other vitamins or supplements, as it will absorb those as well.
Be aware that while it can remove stains from teeth, it does stain clothes, tiles, counters, etc. It can also cause constipation and block mineral absorption, and should not be mixed with dairy. These are warnings in the case that you do ingest it.
How to use:
Wet your toothbrush and dip it into the charcoal. Put the charcoal covered toothbrush in the mouth (quickly to protect your sink) and brush in small, gentle circles for two minutes. Spit carefully and rinse really well. You can also mix the charcoal with water and swish with it for two minutes.
You can also combine this with oil pulling.
5. Diluted Hydrogen Peroxide
It’s important to dilute peroxide to between 1% and 1.5% concentration at the very most. Anything higher will damage your teeth, even a mere 3%.
Our body produces hydrogen peroxide primarily in the lungs, gut, and thyroid gland, and the presence of hydrogen peroxide calls the immune system to an injury. This may explain how diluted hydrogen peroxide aids someone who is fighting gum disease.
How to use:
Again, use a very low concentration and swish around the teeth for three to five minutes.
Just like activated charcoal, you need to be careful about where your turmeric lands! It will stain everything, including your toothbrush, so you may even need to have a designated turmeric brush. But we promise — it won’t stain your teeth!
Turmeric has extensive medicinal properties, including as a digestive aid and an anti-inflammatory. It has even been said to help prevent certain types of cancers.
How to use:
Wet your toothbrush and then dip it in 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder. Brush teeth as normal, but instead of rinsing when you’re done, allow the turmeric to sit on your teeth for three to five minutes. Follow this with a regular brushing to get rid of any excess yellow buildup.
You can also try this combo: 2 parts turmeric powder to 1 part coconut oil and 1 part baking soda. Mix together to form a paste, and keep in a cool place (coconut oil is liquid at around 74-76 degrees).
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which helps to make your teeth whiter. Use them to whiten teeth by crushing a few berries and then applying them to your teeth. Let it sit for about three to five minutes and then rinse out your mouth well.
Lemon has a solid bleaching power. Many use it to lighten their hair, but it can be used on your teeth as well. Squeeze lemon juice into a small bowl and add some sea salt to it. Grind it down to produce a soft paste. Apply that to your teeth and let sit for three to five minutes. Rinse well. It’s important to rinse this thoroughly, as you don’t want to let it sit over long periods of time and erode your enamel.
9. Banana Peel
This one is controversial and I personally wouldn’t say this should be your go-to option. Some health professionals say it works, while others say it doesn’t. In the end, the gritty surface, which is rich in magnesium and potassium, may polish teeth and help remove some stains on the enamel, but results vary widely. For this method, simply rub your teeth with the inside of a ripe banana peel for two to five minutes and rinse when finished. Do this twice daily.
Disadvantages of Whitestrips and Bleaching
There are a number of whitening options one can explore via dentists, whitening professionals, or the drugstore. These include bleaching trays, professional bleaching treatments, and products like Whitestrips. There is no doubt that these products do work, but there are reported disadvantages to these options that don’t exist with the above natural methods.
Often the treatments above utilize harsh ingredients that can have powerful effects on gums and teeth, creating prolonged sensitivity even after one use. For example, studies suggest that between one-third and one-half of all people who use Whitestrips will notice some degree of gum tissue irritation.  If you’ve tried these products in the past, you may have seen great results and had no irritation, but if you did experience irritation, try the options above for a more natural and sustainable approach.
Lifestyle and Diet Are Important
When using natural healing methods, it’s essential to remember that change does not happen overnight. If you want to get your teeth looking whiter naturally, you need to first understand that this will take time. Give yourself at least a month of combining the practices listed above with limiting discolouration factors (coffee, tea, red wine, smoking) and judge from there if this is working for you.
We live in an age that is almost ruled by coffee, which happens to be one of the biggest contributors to stained and yellow teeth. While step number one for whiter teeth would be to limit coffee intake, that may not be the desired option for some of us, so the above list of natural teeth whitening options should at least help mitigate the damage of coffee consumption.
Dental hygiene is important. It can be a contributing factor to many diseases in other areas of the body if not properly taken care of. One of the biggest ways we can damage our teeth is through acidic foods and drinks. In fact, a lot of times, yellow teeth are the result of an acidic diet, which wears at teeth enamel if teeth are not properly taken care of.
Reprinted with permission from Collective Evolution.
In our previous article on the subject, we explained why it was absolutely essential to the plotters of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that Vice President Lyndon Johnson and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover be involved in the plot at the very least to the point that they would have given it the green light. We also pointed out that they would have to have been assured of the complete cooperation of the American press. How that was so might be explained by a combination of my two poems, “Spook News and Views” and “Mister Big.”
Another key actor in the drama had to be, at the very least, neutralized. That was President Kennedy’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. My best guess is that a combination of methods was used to keep the younger Kennedy from upsetting the applecart. The most effective was probably just overwhelming him with the display of united power that was arrayed against him in the government and the press. And FBI Director Hoover would hardly have been above playing one of his favorite cards, blackmail. Just recently, new evidence hardly reported by the American press has come to light suggesting that Bobby really did have an affair with actress Marilyn Monroe. Hoover would certainly have made it his business to know about that. Monroe, herself, died very suspiciously on August 5, 1962.
In fact, Bobby Kennedy’s behavior in the wake of his brother’s assassination was very much like that of the title character in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. One can easily make the case that he was just biding his time until he could set things aright by attaining the presidency when the opportunity arose. He was still young. We explore that question to a degree in our 2014 article, “Did Lyndon Step Down So Bobby Could Be Killed?
Timing, it has been said, is everything in politics. Perhaps Bobby simply waited too long to make his move. He resigned as attorney general on September 3, 1964. The Warren Commission submitted its report to President Johnson on September 24, and it was made public three days later. Let us suppose that Bobby had postponed his resignation until some time after the commission had finished its work and then decided that it was time that he act more like Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar than like Hamlet. He might have requested national airtime for a speech, indicating to the powers-that-be that the blackmail had taken and that his intention was to put his seal of approval upon the Warren Commission’s conclusions. Even had his request been denied, had he made the following speech at a press conference, it is likely to have had a very great effect:
My fellow Americans, I come before you tonight to speak about the great efforts that your president and his appointed commission have made to lay to rest all the suspicions that have been raised about the death of my brother, John. As you have no doubt heard, many, if not all of the spectators who were present at Dealey Plaza in Dallas on that fateful day believe they heard shots fired from the front, or front-right of the presidential motorcade; the Secret Service driver of my brother’s limousine temporarily brought it to a virtual halt, as though he feared proceeding into the hail of bullets. But the president’s commission, led by the esteemed Chief Justice Earl Warren has assured us after very careful examination of the facts that the witnesses were all mistaken and that all the shots were fired from above and behind the car by a single gunman, and they are all very honorable men.
You might have heard as well that initially all the doctors at Parkland Hospital who treated my stricken brother described the bullet wound in his throat as an entrance wound. Early news reports explained that John must have turned his head to look to the rear at the crowds, and it must have been at that instant that the sniper high in the building to his right rear shot him. However, a film of the event came to light showing that the president was looking forward the entire time, and the doctors, doubtless with the encouragement of the outstanding agents of our Federal Bureau of Investigation, have changed their minds and have concluded that the wound in the throat was from the exiting of a bullet. Those doctors and those FBI agents, I can assure you, are all very honorable men, and there is little chance that the doctors have changed their stories because of pressure that might have been brought upon them.
Some people who would undermine confidence in our chosen leaders have been spreading the word that the rifle that was found near assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s perch on the 6th floor of the Texas Schoolbook Depository was a 7.65 mm German Mauser, not the 6.5 mm Italian Mannlicher Carcano that Oswald had obtained by mail order and used to shoot my brother with. While it is true that initial reports said the rifle was found on the 5th floor, not the 6th, and that Dallas police officer Seymour Weitzman, who discovered the rifle, described it as a 7.65 German Mauser in an affidavit, we were later assured by District Attorney Henry Wade that Weitzman was mistaken and that it was a Mannlicher-Carcano that he found (Wade, himself, was mistaken, Dallas authorities have told us, when he reported to the newspapers that a map had been found in Oswald’s room showing the motorcade rout, with a dotted line from the sniper’s perch to the presidential limousine. There never was any such map, they now say.) I am sure that any mistakes that officer Weitzman or District Attorney Wade might have made were honest ones. Mr. Wade spent many years working for the FBI, the finest law enforcement organization in the world, before assuming his current post, and he is an honorable man.
Though others might have changed their accounts, bringing them into closer accord with the objective findings of the commission, a key witness who has not done so is the fine governor of the state of Texas, John Connally, who was gravely wounded in the assault that killed my brother. To his credit, he has steadfastly maintained that he heard the initial shot, the one that struck my brother in the neck, and turned around to see John grasping his throat with both hands. At that point, he says, he felt a powerful blow to his back from the next shot, and, indeed, in the film of the event one can see his cheeks puff out as the second shot collapses his lung. One gunman with a bolt-action rifle could not have fired two shots so quickly, however, so the president’s commission has concluded that the bullet that struck my brother in the neck is the same one that passed through Governor Connally’s body. Although he stands by his story, Governor Connally has assured us that the members of the commission are all such honorable men that it is their conclusions rather than his experience that must be believed. And Governor Connally, at least by his lights, is himself an honorable man.
Someone else who apparently stuck by his story to the end is the young man, Oswald, who was arrested shortly after my brother’s murder. Even though he was interrogated for two days without a lawyer present, he apparently never wavered from his initial claim that he was just a patsy. Before he was able to defend himself in court, a man with many connections to the organized crime network that our administration had been vigorously pursuing killed him. Certain members of that crime network have also worked in close cooperation with our Central Intelligence Agency, and there is an abundance of evidence that Oswald was a relatively low level CIA operative. He had been allowed back into the country with a minimum of debriefing that we know of after he had defected to the Soviet Union. He had announced there that he would share important state secrets with his new host country, secrets that he had learned while stationed at a very sensitive U.S. Marine base in Japan. Not only was he never charged with any crime but he even found work in Texas that required a federal security clearance.
I have brought with me tonight another young man who will be available to answer your questions. As a PFC in the U.S. Army, he worked as a cryptographic clerk in Metz, France. His name is Eugene B. Dinkin. In October, the month before my brother’s trip to Dallas, he decoded messages between members of the CIA and organized crime that laid out specific plans for an assassination of the president. At great personal risk, he attempted to alert me of the plans by sending me a letter describing what he had heard of the plot. That letter, unfortunately, was intercepted, but after the assassination his mother informed me of what he had done and of the persecution that he has suffered for his futile attempt to change the course of history.
Not only did Private Dinkin attempt to warn me about the assassination plans, but he also attempted to warn the public by telling what he had learned to members of the American news media. He had no more success than I have had in alerting them to the cover-up of the murder plot that is taking place. That is why I am addressing you directly tonight.
So now, my fellow Americans, I ask you to support my office as we open a truly independent investigation, one that will bring all the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice, from the lowest to the highest. The course of our nation’s history must be changed from its current detour into the abyss. If we allow this horror, this affront to the fundamental tenets of truth and justice, to stand we invite even worse horrors to follow. Leader after leader could be struck down and our country and its people could be led off into one bloody foreign adventure after another on the most transparent of phony pretexts.
I am confident that you will do your duty.
Virtually all the information that is in the hypothetical speech was widely known at the time for anyone willing to navigate the thicket of propaganda. See Bertrand Russell’s “16 Questions on the Assassination” published on September 6, 1964. PFCDinkin’s experience was not known at the time, and we do not know if either he or his mother was successful in making contact with Robert Kennedy. We do know that they tried. See my “Abuse of Psychiatry in the Kennedy Assassination.”
The speech would have been almost as effective even without bringing in Dinkin. Furthermore, in his position it is highly likely that Bobby would have learned of testimony by other inconvenient witnesses such as Ralph Leon Yates, whom we talk about in “More Abuse of Psychiatry in the JFK Cover-up,” Richard Case Nagell, revealed by Dick Russell in his book, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Beverly Oliver, Mary Pinchot Meyer, or quite likely someone that we have never heard of even to this day. Even more likely is that other people with incriminating information would have emerged in the days after the speech with Bobby, at last, having given them someone to whom they could safely come forward.
Bobby Kennedy had the cards, but he waited too long to play them. He might have made such a speech as he accepted the nomination for president at the Democratic Convention in 1968 with the eyes of the nation upon him. We will never know, because it was not permitted to happen.
I have received this very incisive observation by Constitutional scholar Edwin Vieira:
At the moment of JFK’s assassination, RFK became potentially the most powerful man in this country. No one could have denied him his right, as Attorney General, to head up the investigation of the assassination, and to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. Would Johnson have dared to “fire” him? But, notwithstanding how “ruthless” he had been portrayed as being, RFK turned out to be a fool who lacked the insight and foresight to see that, if he failed to use the power he then had, “they” would deny him access to a new position of sufficient power later on. When he walked away from his duty as Attorney General, and to his own brother, and to his country, he sealed his own fate.
Vince Foster death case expert Hugh Turley, however, in response has suggested that Vieira reckons without the power of the press, which did its best from the very first day to persuade the public that Oswald was the lone assassin, and the limited time Bobby had as Attorney General to make his move. Lyndon Johnson established the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy by executive order exactly one week after the assassination to investigate the murder, superseding the authority of the Justice Department. To be motivated to assert his own authority Bobby also would have to have seen quickly and clearly that he was dealing with a massive plot that included Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, the CIA, key elements of the military, and the press. The power struggle that he would have faced would have been daunting, and it would have been very difficult for him to know whom around him he could trust.
One thing is certain. Any speech that he would have given under the Vieira scenario would have been very different from the one that I have imagined here.
By Dr. Mercola
Cancer is a disease that most people either have personal experience with, or know someone who does.
In this interview, Annie Brandt — herself a 16-year cancer survivor and author of “The Healing Platform: Build Your Own Cure!“— shares some of the support detailed in her book, which can give anyone challenged with cancer access to valuable resources.
We first met last year at Dr. Lee Cowden’s ACIM Conquering Cancer conference in Orlando. Brandt is also the coordinator of the Answers for Cancer Summit, an international cancer conference that will include many great speakers.
It’s scheduled for April 27 through April 29, 2017, in San Diego, California. You can purchase tickets on bestanswerforcancer.org.
From my perspective, a foundational strategy for anyone concerned about cancer is to address your diet. That’s my passion, and it got reignited once I understood that cancer is not a genetic, but a metabolic disease, primarily rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction.
In fact, this is the topic of my latest book, “Fat for Fuel,” which will be published in May. More information on this will be coming soon.
I think that’s the first step. However, for most people, diet alone will not solve the cancer riddle. It will likely prevent it, but may not solve it if you already have cancer. That’s where Brandt’s resources and The Healing Platform come in. They really are a great collaborative addition to a healthy diet, which I outline in “Fat for Fuel.”
Click HERE to watch the full interview!
By Dr. Mercola
Cancer is a disease that most people either have personal experience with, or know someone who does.
In this interview, Annie Brandt — herself a 16-year cancer survivor and author of “The Healing Platform: Build Your Own Cure!“— shares some of the support detailed in her book, which can give anyone challenged with cancer access to valuable resources.
We first met last year at Dr. Lee Cowden’s ACIM Conquering Cancer conference in Orlando. Brandt is also the coordinator of the Answers for Cancer Summit, an international cancer conference that will include many great speakers.
It’s scheduled for April 27 through April 29, 2017, in San Diego, California. You can purchase tickets on bestanswerforcancer.org.
From my perspective, a foundational strategy for anyone concerned about cancer is to address your diet. That’s my passion, and it got reignited once I understood that cancer is not a genetic, but a metabolic disease, primarily rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction.
In fact, this is the topic of my latest book, “Fat for Fuel,” which will be published in May. More information on this will be coming soon.
I think that’s the first step. However, for most people, diet alone will not solve the cancer riddle. It will likely prevent it, but may not solve it if you already have cancer. That’s where Brandt’s resources and The Healing Platform come in. They really are a great collaborative addition to a healthy diet, which I outline in “Fat for Fuel.”
Best Answer for Cancer Foundation
Brandt is more than a little familiar with cancer. She was diagnosed with end-stage metastatic cancer in 2001, and was given three months to live. She decided that if that’s all she had left, she would die as healthy as possible, “and as close to how God made me as I could,” she says.
She refused surgery, high-dose chemo and radiation. Instead, she tried to make her body as strong and healthy as possible, focusing first on detoxification.
“The way the [Best Answer for Cancer] foundation started was I kind of made a promise to myself that if, in fact, I lived doing all these natural healthy things, I would find a way to help people realize there were all of these options. That’s why I started the foundation,” Brandt says.
“[The foundation is also] trying to protect the rights of patients and doctors to use natural substances.”
Best Answer for Cancer Foundation was inaugurated in 2004, and became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2006. It’s a hybrid non-profit that services two different groups of people: an integrative physicians group, and a group for patients with cancer and other chronic disease.
They also hold two conferences per year, one for each group, featuring international experts. The conferences are open to anyone interested in learning more about alternatives to the conventional paradigm of cancer care.
The Answers for Cancer Summit (for patients/lay audiences) not only features great speakers and topics, but also offers hands-on learning events and exhibit booths with valid tools and therapies. This year, a ketogenic lunch is planned as an educational experience.
The Integrative Oncology Conference (for physicians) is a Continuing Medical Education (CME) Conference and includes pre- and post-conference training modules. It is a leader in medical education conferences.
Amazingly, oncology is the only specialty in medicine that is allowed and, may I say, encouraged to sell drugs at massive profits — typically in excess of 50 percent — and cancer drugs are, as a general category, the most expensive medications in all of medicine to begin with.
Oncologists actually get a commission for the chemotherapy drugs they sell, and with that type of incentive, it’s nearly impossible to imagine them actively seeking other alternatives.
As a result, patients are typically forced to go it alone if they don’t want to go the conventional route.
Oncologists are further constrained by the “standard of care” prescribed by oncology medical boards and the drug industry. If they go against the established standard of care, they’re susceptible to having their license reprimanded or even taken away.
Support Systems to Maximize Chances of Recovery
One of Brandt’s core principles is that treating the tumor is not enough. She also has a wide variety of options to support your body’s immune function and other systems, to maximize your chances of recovery.
“I came to the conclusion that the tumor was just a messenger,” Brandt says. “When you look at the tumor itself and think it’s a substance that forms around diseased cells, where do the diseased cells come from?
When you look at all the science behind cancer, they bring in mind, body, spirit, lifestyle, the immune system, diet and detoxification.
They’re very subtle. But over the years, I found these different modalities that actually address disease. When you think about the tumor, imagine it like the check engine light in your car, that’s how I think of it. When it comes on, you don’t take a hammer and beat the dash until the check engine light goes out.
You take your car to the garage and find out what’s wrong. We don’t do that. We want to get rid of the tumor as soon as possible. We want to beat the dash until the light goes out. Then we don’t look at what fed it, what created it.
That’s why I think there are a lot of reasons why cancer keeps recurring in certain people; they haven’t addressed the issues that are feeding it. When you look at what could be feeding it, you have to consider your whole life.
You have to consider the people around you, your job, stress, your environment, what you eat and, believe it or not, how you think. Are you getting enough rest, exercise and sunshine?”
The Importance of Detoxification
One of the strategies Brandt recommends in her book is a detox. I’m a big fan of full-spectrum low-EMF infrared sauna therapy, which is also a wonderful way to eliminate a great number of toxins from your body via sweating.
There are three types of saunas: traditional Finnish-style, far-infrared and near-infrared. Lawrence Wilson’s book, “Sauna Therapy,” discusses the importance of near-infrared heat lamp saunas, and actually details how to build one.
That may be the best types of sauna therapy because near-infrared is one of the most important biological frequencies we need for biological health. To learn more about this, see my most recent article on sauna therapy. However, it’s not just about cleansing your physical body. It’s equally important to address all the other toxins in your life, be it toxic thoughts, people or environments.
“If cancer patients don’t think they’re worth it, that is a toxic thought. You have to detox the mind. You have to detox the spirit, the emotions. Most cancer patients feel trapped. You have to detox every part of your life,” she says. “Don’t forget the environment. You need an air purifier to clean the air. You need water purifiers to clean the water. Get rid of your toxic chemicals under the sink. You’ve really got to do a lifestyle detox.”
Detoxing Your Mind and Eliminating Toxic Relationships
While psychotherapy can be valuable for some, many thoughts and beliefs are “embedded” in our very cells. Many are rooted in childhood traumas we cannot even consciously recall. So how do you get rid of those? Like me, Brandt favors energy psychology methods such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and eye movement desensitization reprogramming (EMDR).
The former releases these stored emotions by tapping into the acupuncture meridians in your body, whereas the latter balances the left and right brain and gets rid of the dysfunction. Meditation, visualization and positive affirmations can also be very helpful.
“I have positive affirmations everywhere, in my car, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, everywhere,” Brandt says. “It works. The body will listen. The mind will listen if you tell it enough times …
Another big thing about lifestyle changes — and this is one of the most difficult things to do for everybody, every patient — you have to minimize toxic relationships, negative relationships. Your life should be as positive as possible. Otherwise, you’re just not going to be happy here. What kind of life would you live if you’re not happy living?
I advocate looking at everything in your life, making sure it’s as positive as possible … All the negatives actually stimulate the part of the brain that creates the stress hormones, so they feed the cancer … I literally remade my life. How many chances do you have in your lifetime to remake yourself? This is not only permission; this is encouragement to remake your life. It’s really empowering, very joyful.”
Basic Strategies That Boost Your Immune Function
Another important component is boosting your immune function, as your immune system is the first line of defense against all disease, including cancer. A well-functioning immune system can typically fight off any malignant cells, preventing them from multiplying in the first place. Brandt had in fact been diagnosed with a dysfunctional immune syndrome in 1992, a decade before her “terminal” cancer diagnosis.
“These days, we have oncoimmunologists who can actually look at your immune system and tell you if it’s out of balance, which way it’s out of balance, and what to do. But there are some general things that you can start out with to boost and regulate it. Acupuncture helps, laughter, endorphins.
Endorphins can even be [produced by] knitting. I didn’t know that. You can knit and make endorphins … Laughter is really hard when you’ve got cancer and when it’s a death diagnosis … But you have to keep going. You have to find laughter because this is one way you can fix the imbalances …”
Other strategies that can help boost immune function include but are not limited to:
1.Sun exposure. Sunlight is a natural immune booster. Not only does your body produce vitamin D in response to sun exposure on bare skin, but sunlight also produces a number of other health benefits that are unrelated to vitamin D production. If you don’t have access to sun exposure in the winter, you can swallow oral vitamin D3. Although it’s not nearly as good, it will still support your immune function.
2.Improve your gut microbiome, which goes back to paying attention to your diet. My book, “Fat for Fuel,” goes into this in great detail. I’ve also written numerous articles on this topic. Your microbiome has enormous influence over the quality of your immune function.
3.Medical cannabis can also be used to stimulate and improve your immune function. Brandt recently found a group called United Patients Group, the mission of which is to investigate and verify the value and potential uses of medical marijuana, and to educate people about its medicinal uses.
“What my understanding is, so far, is that the medical cannabis in the right proportion [of THC and CBD] can regulate — not just boost, but regulate — the immune system. And each type of cancer has a specific proportion of THC and CBD that is effective for that cancer. Again, going back to diet, I almost consider medical cannabis part of a diet because it does nourish and detox,” Brandt says.
5.Proper amount of quality sleep, getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night if you’re an adult.
Addressing Metastasized Cancer Cells
Typically, if you have metastasized cancer, targeted cancer cells are floating around in your bloodstream, necessitating multiple strategies to get rid of the cancer. This is one of the reasons why most conventional cancer therapies are not that useful in this scenario, as they do not address these circulating cancer stem cells. You can get rid of the primary tumor, but cancer cells are still present in the body. As noted by Brandt:
“People don’t get that conventional medicine doesn’t have any way to stop metastasis or to treat metastatic stem cells. It’s these metastatic stem cells that kill … The stem cells are what conventional medicine cannot address, that I know of. But alternative medicine can.”
Products that are helpful against metastatic stem cells include:
Berberine and metformin have a similar mechanism of action. I prefer berberine because it’s a natural product. That said, metformin, as a drug, is probably one of the safer ones. Millions of people have been on it with relatively few side effects. It’s actually used for type 2 diabetes as an oral hypoglycemic.
I take berberine every day as a dietary supplement, as it has so many health benefits. Since its mode of action is very similar to metformin, I would encourage anyone taking metformin for type 2 diabetes or for longevity benefits (a lot of people take it for that) to switch to berberine. I also like pau d’arco.
It has a substrate called beta-lapachone, which is a powerful way to increase NAD+ intercellularly. This is an important component of improving mitochondrial ATP production, which is needed for health in general, but especially if you’re fighting disease.
Insulin Potentiation Therapy and Other Targeted Therapies
Insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) acts like a Trojan Horse in that it can achieve targeted delivery of low doses of chemo or other medicines to the diseased cell only.
“It’s an elegant delivery mechanism. That’s probably my favorite because it worked so well on me,” Brandt says. “I just watched the tumors shrink and disappear. There’s also high-dose vitamin C. The latest study we just got approval for is high-dose C with artesunate. Artesunate is an intravenous (IV) derivative of artemisinin (wormwood) … a Chinese herb that has been shown to kill cancer with very little side effects.”
Brandt’s book also includes a comprehensive description of systemic enzyme therapy, where enzymes are taken on an empty stomach — not to help with food digestion but to provide systemic benefits through your bloodstream. I personally rotate four different systemic enzymes on an empty stomach. She also addresses the importance of rotating or cycling through the supplements you take.
“The doctor that I first went to taught me about switching things around. He said, ‘Cancer builds immunities.’ I thought, ‘That’s right. Cancer builds immunities to things like chemo and radiation.
I need to keep it on its toes and switch things around.’ I had a chart for all my therapies … I could look at the calendar any day and see what I was doing … If you did Essiac tea for four weeks and you do red clover stillingia for two, then you do Essiac for five, red clover and stillingia for six. Just keep switching it around. No patterns.”
Indeed, variety is a really important biological principle. I’ve even integrated it into my nutritional ketosis protocol. In fact, I now believe people should not be in nutritional ketosis long-term. You do have to integrate variety, so a day or two per week you might have a fair amount of carbohydrates, say 100 to even 150 grams of net carbs instead of the recommended 20 to 60 grams. A sampling of other targeted therapies covered in her book include:
- Poly-MVA, a colloidal mineral complex that crosses the blood-brain barrier and helps re-nourish your body and brain at the cellular level. It also helps replace nutrients lost during chemotherapeutic and radiological treatments.
- AvéULTRA (Metatrol), a fermented wheat germ product.
- Selenium, vitamin D and iodine, as most cancer patients are low in these three nutrients. Since I do regular sauna therapy, I take 200 micrograms of SelenoExcell each day. (You tend to excrete selenium when sweating.) Selenium increases glutathione, an important metabolic antioxidant necessary for detoxification. It also catalyzes the conversion of thyroid hormone T3 to T4, so it can be beneficial if you have thyroid problems.
- Modified citrus pectin (MCP) has been shown to reverse cancer and stop metastatic cancer. Brandt recommends the brand ecoNugenics, as this is the one that has been scientifically studied and verified to work.
- Colloidal silver is a non-toxic, broad spectrum antimicrobial therapy with no known toxicity and no known mechanism for acquired resistance.
- Salicinium, a plant-based extract that inhibits production of nagalase — an enzyme produced by cancer cells — while simultaneously stimulating innate immune cells.
Best Answer for Cancer Summit
Whether you’re a cancer patient or a doctor, you’re welcome to join the Best Answer for Cancer Summit in San Diego, California. There are actually two separate conferences: The Integrative Oncology Conference, which is a three-day-long physician-only event (April 27-29) and the Answers for Cancer Summit, which is a two-day event open to the public (April 28-29).
“If you’re a physician watching this and you want to learn more about this area, this is a very important conference to go to. It’s also a conference for patients, if you’re a cancer survivor or you’re new to the diagnosis of cancer or chronic disease, or you just want to know more,” Brandt says.
Best Answer for Cancer Foundation is also in the process of creating a free online support group for cancer patients called The Chrysalis Group to identify with Rebirth: The Blossoming of the Butterfly. To join, write Brandt at: [email protected], as the site is currently under construction.
“We will have a virtual bulletin board and a chatroom. We’ll have a library with all the medical references, different therapies, different books they can read from different authors. I’m very serious about supporting patients because there were very few survivors in 2001 when I got diagnosed that I could find to talk to.”
Build Your Own Cure
Last but not least, pick up a copy of “The Healing Platform: Build Your Own Cure!” Taking a route other than the conventional one can be a frightening proposition, but these days there’s more help, support and resources available than ever before. That said, the fear of bucking the system, even when you’re convinced the system is fatally flawed and isn’t your best option, can be significant.
“I tell patients what I experienced. I say my family and friends were frantic, wanting me to do what everybody else does, the surgery, chemo, radiation. I said, ‘You know what? If I do what you want me to do and I die, I’ll be pissed. I might come back and haunt you. But if I do what I want to do and I die, well then that was my choice. I’m asking you to support my choice,'” Brandt says.
Her book can go a long way toward directing you to a wide variety of strategies you can use to create your own healing platform. As Brandt says:
“There is the opportunity for each of us to cure ourselves, I believe. I think we’re all individuals and therefore our answer for cancer should be tailored to us. I should have a unique answer. I’m a snowflake, totally different from the next person. Why should I do what everybody else is doing?
The book actually talks about how I got sick. You should see parallels in your life if you are sick. It helps you examine your entire life. Then it goes into the platform. Every chapter is a different healing modality, like spirituality, mind-body medicine, immunologic nutrition, detox, lifestyle changes and then targeted cancer therapies. Each one of those chapters is color coded so you can easily go to that chapter to look up a reference.
In addition, for each modality, for example, when you go into a detox, there’s a workbook on that modality. So it’s a workbook all the way through. It’s an interactive guide. You are actually challenged at the end of each chapter to write down your thoughts, your experiences, to help you determine what your “dis-eases” are.
The book is really easy to follow. I get calls all the time from patients just saying ‘Thank you. You gave me hope.’ ‘Thank you. There’s such good information here. I was frustrated at first because I wanted you to tell me what to do, but telling me that I’m an individual said that I needed to go and do my homework.’
I encourage you to get it, whether you have cancer or not. Buy it, read it, pass it on. Chronic disease, I think, is a precursor to cancer and cancer is a chronic disease. You don’t have to have cancer to be in danger of getting cancer.”
You can get more information at www.bestanswerforcancer.org.
Plenty of people consider themselves to be a whizz at spelling – but this latest quiz is sure to put even the most confident to the test.
The puzzle posted to Playbuzz by user Luna Pope, insists that just one per cent of the population will get every answer right.
While some of the 21 words may seem simple, others will prove far trickier and test even the brightest of minds.
FEMAIL have put the answers in the captions, so scroll down to see if you can truly call yourself a ‘spelling master’.
“Gentlemen! I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out!” – Andrew Jackson
“There is nothing the political establishment will not do, and no lie they will not tell, to hold on to their prestige and power at your expense. The Washington establishment, and the financial and media corporations that fund it, exists for only one reason: to protect and enrich itself. This is a crossroads in the history of our civilization that will determine whether or not We The People reclaim control over our government. The political establishment that is trying everything to stop us, is the same group responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration, and economic and foreign policies that have bled this country dry.
The political establishment has brought about the destruction of our factories and our jobs, as they flee to Mexico, China and other countries throughout the world. It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” – Donald Trump
Andrew Jackson was a bigger than life figure who lived from the early stages of the American Revolution until the country was on the verge of splitting apart over slavery and states’ rights issues. Born in the Carolinas shortly after his father died in an accident, he acted as a courier during the Revolutionary War. Andrew and his brother Robert were captured by the British and held as prisoners and nearly starved to death in captivity.
When Andrew refused to clean the boots of a British officer, the officer slashed him with a sword, leaving deep scars on his left hand and head. His brother died of smallpox and his mother from cholera in 1781, leaving him an orphan at the age of 14. He blamed the British for their deaths and held an intense hatred of the British for the rest of his life.
Jackson was a grudge holder. He was a courageous military hero, nicknamed Old Hickory by his troops because of his toughness. He was combative and vindictive. He was a self-made lawyer, military leader and statesman. He was a wealthy plantation owner and merchant. Over one hundred and fifty slaves worked on his plantation.
He fought Indians, the British, politicians, and bankers. He was scorned and ridiculed by the press. Establishment politicians cheated him out of a presidential victory, but that loss motivated him to crush his political enemies in the next election. He was a devoted dependable friend to his compatriots and a steadfast adversary to those who crossed him.
If you think the fake news media and vitriolic political campaigns, personally attacking the families of candidates was a modern day phenomenon, you would be badly mistaken. American politics sinking into the sewer and sensationalistic journalism existed from the earliest days of our country. Jackson’s controversial marriage to Rachel Robards made Jackson resentful towards any attack on her honor. He had mistakenly married her before her divorce was official. An attack on their honor published in a local Nashville newspaper led Jackson to challenge Charles Dickinson to a duel.
Charles Dickinson was considered an expert shot. Jackson decided to let Dickinson fire first, betting his aim might be off in his haste. Dickinson did fire first striking Jackson just below the heart. The musket ball remained lodged in his lung for the rest of his life. Under the rules of dueling, Dickinson had to remain still as Jackson took aim and killed him. Jackson’s behavior in the duel outraged men of honor in Tennessee, who called it a brutal, cold-blooded killing and saddled Jackson with a reputation as a violent, vengeful man. As a result, he became a social outcast.
Jackson’s wound didn’t keep him from becoming a national military hero nine years later by leading his outnumbered troops to an overwhelming victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. His hatred for the British going back to the Revolutionary War likely motivated him to defend New Orleans to the death. Jackson took command of the defenses, directing 5,000 militia from various Western states. He was a strict officer but was popular with his troops. Jackson’s soldiers won a crushing victory over 7,500 attacking British soldiers.
The British had 2,037 casualties: 291 dead (including three senior generals), 1,262 wounded, and 484 captured or missing. The Americans had 71 casualties: 13 dead, 39 wounded, and 19 missing. This victory propelled him to national prominence and spurred his presidential aspirations. The common man saw Jackson as a populist hero. He continued to build his militaristic resume by defeating the Seminole and Creek Indians in Florida, who were secretly supported by the British and Spanish.
My young friend Jack Kerwick in a column on townhall stated that protestors against Donald Trump who are destroying property and assaulting suspected Trump supporters are “not snowflakes but leftist thugs.” Jack is absolutely right in his description, although there is another qualification that I would add. Contrary to other commentaries that I see on the same website and on other Republican forums, the protestors aren’t “fascists.” They are exactly what Jack calls them, “leftist thugs.” Last year I published a carefully researched book on the uses and abuses of the term “fascist.” What motivated this project was first and foremost the tendency of journalists to call anything they didn’t fancy “fascist.” Those leftists, including a distinguished professor of European history at Yale University, Tim Snyder, who has gone after President Trump as a “fascist” or, even more ridiculously, as a “Nazi,” are using political terms with inexcusable recklessness. But then so are Republican publicists who hurl the same epithets at Democrats and who now refer to the anti-Trump protesters as fascists.
The word “fascist” has a definite historical reference point. It does not signify any group that engages in violent demonstrations or refuses to accept the election results of an American presidential contest. My book painstakingly distinguishes “fascists,” who came to power in Italy after World War One, from the German Nazis, who borrowed heavily from Stalinism as well as Latin fascism. Generic fascists came mostly out of a Latin Catholic cultures and favored a nationalist authoritarian government that would restore the glories of a partly mythic past. Fascism also served a counterrevolutionary function, as a force of resistance to revolutionary socialism. But fascists looked and acted in a sufficiently iconoclastic or disruptive manner to be mistaken for genuine revolutionaries. The German historian Ernst Nolte was on the mark when he characterized the fascists as “a counterrevolutionary imitation of the Left.”
In my book, I point out that the theory and reality of interwar fascism should not be equated with whatever a political partisan wishes to rant against. People can be violent without being fascists; and most contemporary advocates of an expanded administrative state are not trying to revisit the experiences of Mussolini’s Italy. Even less are they endorsing violence or big government for the reasons that the Nazis gave. Whatever we may say about Black Lives Matter and LGBT demonstrators, they are not glorifying Aryanism or calling for Lebensraum for Nordic man. Mind you, this does not make these demonstrators any less thuggish or repulsive. But they are, as Jack properly noted, distinctly leftist thugs—and neither fascists nor Nazis. The demonstrators want to destroy our constitutional freedoms and like all leftists, they are explicitly or implicitly totalitarian.
But they also stand for things that Western societies have been taught especially in the last fifty years taught us to revere such as egalitarianism and the interchangeability of all human beings. Even our supposedly conservative press does not attack Jack’s thugs for the ideals they profess but rather refer to these vandals as fascists or Nazis. It would be futile in today’s court of public opinion to defend such truly conservative notions as hierarchy and particularity. This may be the case despite the fact that classical conservative ideals are at least as necessary as their opposites for those who value social cohesion and cultural stability. But one rarely encounters the defenses of such ideals in public life anymore; and therefore anyone seeking to make leftists look bad paints them as racists, sexists, and anti-egalitarians.
In a memorable observation, English political theorist John Gray, writing in the London Times Literary Supplement (January 2, 2013) commented that intellectuals continue to deny “the radical evil that has come from the pursuit of progress.” Gray was noting not only the totalitarian direction of leftist attempts to reconstruct human nature. He was also underlining the unwillingness of intellectuals to recognize the inherent danger of those ideals that the Left embraces. We continue to celebrate ideals that have been carried to excess and which now operate without the stabilizing influence of opposing principles? One might also ask whether the Left’s triumphant ideals are better than those taught by defenders of custom and traditional authority, going all the way back to Confucius and Aristotle.
But what I’m offering is not so much a defense of conservative principles as an explanation for why our soi-disant conservatives call those they don’t like “fascists.” This is the same kind of stuff we encounter when conservative publicists try to blacken the current Democratic Party by identifying it with antebellum slave-owners? This morning a distinguished classical historian, who is beloved to our conservative establishment, Victor Davis Hanson, resorted to this shtik when he scolded California secessionists. Does Hanson, who is a well-educated scholar, really believe that the Cultural Marxists in California who want to pull their state out of Donald Trump’s America are the modern equivalents of the South Carolina planter class that seceded from the Union in 1861? This polemic and others of its kind cause me to wonder why our official conservatives don’t tell us that leftists are harmful because they are following specifically leftist ideals. Why do they have to link their debating partners to some antiquated Right? And even more curiously, why do they assume that talk about equality and human rights is specifically “conservative”?
Yes, I know the usual justification for such habits, namely that those who indulge them are trying to hang the Left on its own petard. But more may be going on here. The conservative establishment has trouble saying the obvious, that the Left holds harmful leftist beliefs and has been implementing these beliefs to the detriment of an inherited social order, for this among other reasons. So-called conservatives have absorbed so much of the Left’s rhetoric and historical thinking that sometimes it can’t distance itself, at least not on first principles, from what it criticizes.
This was first brought home to me dramatically when I read a column by Jonah Goldberg in National Review in 2002. In this commentary, Goldberg declaimed against the most illustrious European counterrevolutionary of the early nineteenth century, Joseph de Maîstre (whose name by the way he misspells). According to Goldberg, Maîstre was a toxic leftist thinker because in his Evening Conversations of Saint-Petersburg we find this statement: “There’s no man as such. I’ve only encountered Frenchmen, Italians, and Russians…” Goldberg tells us this illustrates the thinking that the Democrats are promoting when they support minority quotas. Maîstre, we are made to believe, was a precursor of our Left and the Democratic Party, a party that Goldberg would later profitably associate with fascism. It makes no difference to Goldberg (who presumably never read the actual text) that Maîstre’s aphorism was spoken in response to a discussion about the relation between governments and national traditions. Maîstre, who excoriated the French Revolution, from which he fled, was warning against revolutionaries who presumed to inflict their model of government on other countries. These revolutionaries were so fixated on their presumed superior model of government that they tried to make it fit the entire world.
For Goldberg, the fact that Maîstre stresses the distinctive nature of cultures and nations indicates that he was an early representative of the party that Goldberg has made a career out of blasting. Note that I’m not saying that Goldberg is not entitled to his views. But I don’t understand what makes those views “conservative” while the archetypically conservative understanding of human nature expressed in the Evening Conversations would show that Maîstre was an early advocate of Democratic identity politics. Moreover, Goldberg compares Maîstre to the feminist, black civil rights jurist, Lani Guiniere, who in 1993 was considered by Bill Clinton for the Supreme Court, before her name was withdrawn.
Like Goldberg, Guiniere, a Harvard Professor of Law, has repeatedly affirmed her belief in human rights. Unlike Goldberg, however, she also advocates in her writing an extensive program of minority quotas. She believes, rightly or wrongly, that we can advance these universal rights by treating preferentially those groups whom Guiniere considers to be historically disadvantaged. On this issue, I would come down on the side of Goldberg, because of my fear of the modern administrative state and its increasingly unchecked power. But I doubt that our philosophical concerns would be the same. (And I’m speaking not as a Maîstrean but as someone who can appreciate Maîstre’s insight). What separates Guiniere from Goldberg is a policy difference; what separates her and Goldberg from Maîstre is an entire worldview.
Posted at the Fabius Maximus website.
Summary: The “permanent drought” in California, like the now ended “permanent drought” in Texas, is ending. But like the panic about Texas, it is rich in lessons about our difficulty clearly seeing the world — and the futility of activists exaggerating and lying about the science. Of course, they should have learned this after 29 years of trying (starting from James Hansen’s 1988 Senate testimony).
Warnings of a permanent drought in California
Remember all those predictions of a “permanent drought” in California? Those were examples of why three decades of climate alarmism has not convinced the American people to take severe measures to fight anthropogenic climate change: alarmists exaggerate the science, and are proven wrong — repeatedly. When will the Left learn that doomster lies do not work?
Wired, May 2016: “Thanks El Niño, But California’s Drought Is Probably Forever“. “California is still in a state of drought. For now, maybe forever.” The article gives no support — none — for this clickbait claim. In January Wired attempted to weasel away from their claims by defining drought to mean needing more water than nature provides (“A Wet Year Won’t Beat California’s Never-Ending Drought“). Orwell nodded, unsurprised.
The NYT did no better in “California Braces for Unending Drought“, May 2016. The closest the article comes to supporting their headline is an odd statement by Governor Brown: “But now we know that drought is becoming a regular occurrence…” Drought has always been a regular occurrence in California. The governor also said that “California droughts are expected to be more frequent and persistent, as warmer winter temperatures driven by climate change reduce water held in the Sierra Nevada snowpack and result in drier soil conditions.” That is probable. But it is quite mad for the NYT to call more frequent droughts “an unending drought.”
Status of the California drought
“During the past week, a series of storms bringing widespread rain and snow showers impacted the states along the Pacific Coast and northern Rockies. In California, the cumulative effect of several months of abundant precipitation has significantly improved drought conditions across the state.”— US Drought monitor – California, February 9.
Precipitation over California in the water year so far (October 1 to January 31) is 178% of average for this date. The snowpack is 179% of average, as of Feb 8. Our reservoirs are at 125% of average capacity. See the bottom line summary as of February 7, from the US Drought monitor for California.
As painfully clichéd as it is to say, it really does seem as if Trump has built his inner circle with an Apprentice-like dynamic of two competing teams.
As Axios described it this weekend in a useful article, the dynamic is pitting “confrontationists v. conformists.” The confrontation side is led by Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and Stephen Miller, while the conformists are led by Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, and most of the cabinet that weren’t in the trenches during the campaign (Tillerson, Mattis, etc.) (I find Axios useful here because it was started by one of the Politico founders. While they shouldn’t be seen as a go-to for policy analysis, it is a great source for Beltway gossip.)
The confrontationists have an uphill battle for two big reasons.
1. They are outnumbered. Much of the other campaign staff has been dispersed inside various departments in below-cabinet level positions. For example, John Mashburn – one of the great Senate conservative bomb throwers – is placed highly in the Justice Department, but probably not high enough to regularly get in Trump’s ear. Most of the people added since the campaign have been those with the sort of gravitas that Trump likes to surround himself with. While most are undoubtedly accomplished, if they truly wanted to overthrow the table they would have been on board before November.
2. Every misstep by the confrontationists becomes the story of week for the media, whereas every misstep by the conformists blends into the status quo. The best example is how the media treated the immigration executive order compared to the military raid killing children in Yemen. (This still got more play than Obama’s term, but obviously not as much as the other.) Further examples are the amount of liberal pressure on Betsy DeVos compared to Steve Mnuchin.
Bannon clearly understands this, and has tried to go on the offensive. While bashing the media, he has also been aggressive playing it. He has been hiring his own communications people within the West Wing, including former Breitbart members, and has been using it to plant stories in various publications. Luckily the demand for copy and clicks means Bannon can bash the media as much as he wants and still get his side out, but he is never going to be given the benefit of the doubt in the press.
Bannon and Miller have clearly prioritized Trump’s signature campaign issue in the early days, immigration. This makes perfect sense given the natural ally in Sessions. Bannon is also obviously interested in establishing a foothold in foreign policy, which explains his seat at the table in the National Security Council. Unfortunately Bannon’s world view here is a bit less-than-ideal, he does have a record of more hawkish statements in regards to China and the Middle East, but it’s easy to take those positions when you’re not in the position he is now.
It will be interesting to see how the situation with Michael Flynn, regarding his direct talk with Russia over sanctions, resolves itself. Stephen Miller was sent out to the Sunday talk shows without anything to say regarding Flynn, which is probably a bad omen for the NSA director. Flynn was in the confrontationist camp, if he’s out it further weakens Bannon’s ranks there.
Perhaps most alarming is that all of this has pretty much given the conformists a free run in economic policy. After all, while Bannon’s economic understanding, particularly his views on bailouts and crony capitalism, is pretty strong from a libertarian standpoint (his desire to politicize jobs created by infrastructure projects aside), he can’t be everywhere and the rest of “his people” have specialties outside economics.
Given all of the recent Bannon press, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal ran profiles on Gary Cohn this weekend. My guess would be that this is a sign to the markets that “don’t worry about the immigration executive order, or Trump’s tweets, the grown-ups are in charge of economic policy.” It was made explicitly clear that Cohn’s influence will be greater-than-normal for the head of the National Economic Council. Both pieces also highlight Cohn’s ability to work around Trump’s tweet-by-tweet agenda and praised him for rolling up his sleeves and getting into the finer details of policy writing.
To be fair to Cohn, I know little about his public statements prior to assuming this position. Maybe it’s possible there was a high-ranking Goldman Sachs Democrat who had a grasp on economic policy outside of the mainstream – I just tend to doubt it. Steve Mnuchin similarly was a question mark who has proven to be constantly in the mainstream as the vetting process has played out.
I think one way this will present itself sooner rather than later will be in the battle over tax reform. Mnuchin has indicated he wants any reform to be revenue neutral, and I expect Cohn to make a similar argument. (Oy!)
If there is any hope to be had for confrontations to have a voice in the economic debates, it will be from Team Pence. I am happy to eat crow regarding the VP, I was not a fan at all when he was chosen, but he has been a true bright spot on this front. He helped make the case for Mick Mulvaney (a Fed critic who wants to cut defense spending) to be selected to head the Office of Management and Budget, was an advocate for John Allison at Treasury, and just hired a Mark Calabria as his top economist. (Calabria has long been a strong libertarian voice against financial regulation in Washington.)
So this may come down largely to how much influence Trump allocates to Pence on economic policy.
What will be very telling is how Trump ends up handling the Fed. Since he now has three vacancies on the board to fill, he has a big opportunity to shake it up. From what I’ve been told, John Allison had a strong performance interviewing for Treasury – so whether he is given a position will, I think, prove to be a strong indicator here. Since Cohn and Mnuchin are both anti-Dodd-Frank, Allison should be someone they can get behind for the Fed vice chair position overseeing regulation – in spite of him being from Raleigh rather than Wall Street. Should he not get an offer for that, it will be a bad sign going forward.
Lastly, I think Bannon’s relationship with Trump will be the true canary in the coal mine in terms of where the administration is going. There is a full out war being waged right now over Bannon, and people are going to do everything possible to poison that relationship.
The best example of this battle playing out is how Joe Scarborough has been treating Bannon. For weeks now, he has been constantly talking about how “surprised” he is at the amount of attention a White House staffer like Bannon is getting – strongly suggesting that Bannon is intentionally trying to overshadow Trump. While rarely is anything on MSNBC particularly relevant, Morning Joe is an exception because we know Trump watches it. Scarborough not only knows that, but he knows Trump personally. He also knows how to push his buttons. Trump doesn’t want to be overshadowed by anybody, and could be sold to view this as a betrayal from Bannon. We will see how this plays out, but I tend to think it could unfortunately be an effective strategy going forward. Especially since it’s one of the few things the media has direct control over.
Should Priebus end up outlasting Bannon, the Trump revolution will be over.
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban says his country will open its arms to west Europeans fleeing mass immigration and “the lords of globalist politics”.
“We shall let in true refugees”, Mr. Orban told a cheering audience: “Germans, Dutch, French and Italians, terrified politicians and journalists who here in Hungary want to find the Europe they have lost in their homelands.”
The populist leader has served as the de facto leader of the central and eastern European countries which have resisted the open borders policies of the European Union (EU) and leading member-states in the west of the continent.
Globalist politicians, Mr. Orban contended, are seeking to “sweep away a democracy of debate and replace it with a democracy of [political] correctness”, where “true power, decisions and influence [are] not held by elected governments, but [by] unelected global networks, media gurus and international organisations.”
He cited Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election in the United States as episodes in a wider popular revolt against the “arrogance and condescension” of global elites by ordinary people whose “mouths had been gagged” for too long.
Drugs are a charged subject everywhere. Longtime readers know that although I personally abstain from drugs and generally eschew the company of users, I think they should be 100% legal.
Few people consider how arbitrary the current prohibition is; up until the 1920s, heroin and cocaine were both perfectly legal and easily obtainable over the counter. Some people “abused” them, just like some today “abuse” fat and sugar (because they’re enjoyable).
But drugs are no more of a problem than anything else; life is full of problems. In fact, life isn’t just full of problems; life is problems. What is a problem? It’s simply the situation of having to choose between two or more alternatives. Personally, I believe in people being free to choose, and I rigorously shun the company of people who don’t.
Hysteria and propaganda aside, the fact is that most recreational drugs pose less of a health problem than alcohol, nicotine, or simple lack of exercise.
Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (of whom I’m a great fan) was an aficionado of opium products. Sigmund Freud enjoyed cocaine. Churchill is supposed to have drunk a quart of whiskey daily. Dr. William Halsted, the father of modern surgery and co-founder of Johns Hopkins University, was a regular user throughout his long and illustrious career, which included inventing local anesthesia after injecting cocaine into his skin.
Insofar as recreational drugs present a problem, it arises partly from overuse, which is not only arbitrary but can be true of absolutely anything. The problem comes, however, mainly from the fact that they’re illegal.
Alcohol provides the classic example. It wasn’t much of a problem in the US before the enactment of Prohibition in 1920, and it hasn’t been one since its repeal in 1933. Making a product illegal artificially and unnecessarily turns both users and suppliers into criminals.
Because illegality makes any product vastly more expensive than it would be in a free market, some users resort to crime to finance their habits. Because of the risks and artificially reduced supply, the profits to the suppliers are necessarily huge—not the simple businessman’s returns to be had from legal products.
Just as Prohibition of the ’20s turned the Mafia from a small underground group of thugs into big business, the War on Drugs has done precisely the same thing for drug dealers. It’s completely insane and totally counterproductive.
Frankly, if you want to worry about drugs, it would be more appropriate to be concerned about the scores of potent psychiatric drugs from Ritalin to Prozac that are actively pushed in the US, often turning users into anything from zombies, to space cadets, to walking time bombs. But that’s another story more relevant to address at some point—likely years in the future when it’s again time to consider whether US drug stocks are buys.
The whole drill impresses me as being so perversely stupid as to border on the surreal. Insofar as the Drug War diminishes the supply of product, it raises prices. The higher the prices, the higher the profits. And the higher the profits, the greater the inducement to youngsters anxious to get into the game. The more successful it is in imprisoning people, the more people it draws into the business.
Meanwhile, a trumpeted “success” tends to increase funding from the US government. Some of that money succeeds in driving up prices to the benefit of producers, but a lot of it finds its way into the pockets of officials. That further entrenches corruption at all levels.
The only answer to the War on Drugs is the same as that to the equally stupid and destructive War on Demon Rum fought during the ’20s—a repeal of prohibition.
These are arguments entirely apart from the most important one, which deals with ethics. The question is really whether you have a right to control your own body and what you ingest. There’s little question that caffeine, cocaine, nicotine, heroin, alcohol, marijuana, sugar and a thousand other things aren’t good for you, at least not in quantity. But I can’t see how that’s anybody’s business but your own. Once it becomes a matter of state concern, then everything becomes an equally legitimate subject of state attention. Which is pretty much where we are today—well on the way to a police state.
Reprinted with permission from Doug Casey’s International Man.
Submitted by Patrick Ceresna, Macrovoices.com
“Get prepared,” warns billionaire commodity guru Jim Rogers, “because we’re going to have the worst economic problems in your lifetime and a lot of people are going to disappear.” In this wide-ranging interview with MacroVoices’ Erik Townsend, the investing legend discusses everything from whether Russia is being scapegoated (“yes, ask Victoria Nuland”), the war against cash (“governments love it… they want to control everything”), to his views on gold and the demise of freedom.
Full podcast below:
Are Russians the bad guys?
Well I do know that during the last administration, Mr. Obama’s administration as you probably remember we started, we tried to pull of an illegal coup in Ukraine, we got caught at it, what’s her name, Victoria Nuland, whatever the woman’ name the State Department they have there several pieces of evidence where we know she tried to instigate an illegal coup then of course the Russians outsmarted us and so the State Department started blaming it on the Russians and the hype against the Russians has gotten bigger and bigger ever since after we started– or tried to start, tried to instigate the illegal coup Crimea and Ukraine.
So yes we are certainly at fault to some extent and obviously you then, when you’re caught you’ve got to keep the rhetoric up and keep throwing more and more accusations and so the State Department has done that.
I know that before the illegal coup Obama, Bush everybody was trying to be friends with the Russians rightly so, cold war had ended long ago, the Russians wanted to be friends with America. We didn’t need NATO anymore. Who needed the Cold War etc. all the money we were spending on some of these arms manufactures and soldiers so until the illegal coup took place we were all trying to be great friends you remember George Bush said I looked him in the eye and he’s a man I can admire and work with etc.
So now of course the Democrats especially since they lost the election are trying to blame it on the Russians. It’s unfathomable to me how the Russians could have determined the outcome of the elections. Maybe they planted a story a two but so what? It’s inconceivable to me that the Russians could influence much less determine the election.
I think if we start having investigations of the illegal voting I’m afraid we’re going to find more for the Democrats than for the Republicans places big cities in America won’t name names but so far the few investigations that have taken place we find that the voting irregularities are in big cities which are Democratic strongholds.
On the Greater Depression…
…get prepared because we’re going to have the worst economic problems we’ve had in your lifetime or my lifetime and when that happens a lot of people are going to disappear.
In 2008 Bear Stearns disappeared, Bear Stearns had been around over 90 years. Lehman Brothers disappeared. Lehman Brothers had been around over 150 years. A long, long time, a long glorious history they’ve been through wars, depression, civil war they’ve been through everything and yet they disappear.
So the next time around it’s going to be worse than anything we’ve seen and a lot of institutions, people, companies even countries, certainly governments and maybe even countries are going to disappear. I hope you get very worried.
when you start having bear markets as you I’m sure well know one bad thing happens and another bad thing happens and these things snowball just like in bull markets good news comes out then more good news comes out the next thing you know you’re five or six or seven years into a bull market.
Well bear markets do the same thing and so we have a lot of bad news on the horizon. I haven’t even gotten to war. I haven’t even gotten to trade war or anything like that but you know things do go wrong.
On Trump and the possibility of trade wars…and real wars
Mr. Trump has also said he’s going to have trade war with China, Mexico, Japan, Korea a few other people that he has named. He swore that on his first day in office he would impose 45% tariffs against China. He’s been there three weeks, two or three weeks and he hasn’t done it yet but he still got it in his head I’m sure or maybe he’s just another politician like all the rest of them. He says one thing and he doesn’t mean it at all but he does have at least three people in high levels in his group who are very, very keen to have trade wars with China and other people.
If he does that Eric, it’s all over. I mean history is very clear that trade wars always lead to problems, often to disaster, sometimes even to real war, a shooting war. So I don’t know, I’m not sure Mr. Trump knows. He said so many things and many of the things are contradictory. Now if he’s not going to have trade wars with various people then chances are for a while happy days are here…
[The dollar is] going to go too high, may turn into a bubble, at which point I hope I’m smart enough to sell it because at some point the market forces are going to cause the dollar to come back down because people are going to realize, oh my gosh, this is causing a lot of turmoil, economic problems in the world and it’s damaging the American economy. At that point the smart guys will get out. I hope I’m one of them.
On governments continued war against cash…
Governments are always looking out for themselves first and it’s the same old thing you know Eric this has been going on for hundreds of years. The Indians recently did the same thing they withdrew 86% percent of the currency in circulation and they have now made it illegal to spend more than, I think it’s about $4000 in any cash transaction. In France you cannot use more than, I think it’s a €1000.
Many countries are already doing this. Some states in the U.S. you cannot make cash transactions above a certain amount. Governments love it. Then they can control you. If you want to go and buy a cup of coffee they know how many you drink, where you buy them etc. if they can all put it into electronic formats and they will the world is all going electronic. My children will probably never go to a bank when they’re adults, maybe never go to a post office maybe even never to a doctor or rarely to a doctor when they’re adults.
So the Internet and the computers changing everything that we know, money can certainly be easily converted to computers not today because there are still, some people who don’t have computers and the system is not ready it but it can be done and when it’s done the governments are going to be very, very happy they going to say they’re doing it for our own good Eric, this is not them, this is for our good. That they’re doing this, but it’s coming and it’s going to be a whole different world in which we live. Probably we are not going to have as many freedoms as we have now even though we are already losing our freedoms at a significant pace.
On the demise of freedom…
…history shows that people always would like a little more safety and a willing to “give up some things for more safety and security.” Benjamin Franklin said well anybody who would give up some freedoms for security is going to wind up with neither security nor freedom and they deserve to lose both and of course that’s the way it is.
I’m not the first to realize that people who are rising to become dictators start taking away freedoms first in Germany they took away the guns, they wouldn’t let people have guns in Germany and lots of places have done that or things like that.
In America now you and I probably remember when we were kids, you had to have a search warrant, now they can just break your door down if they have what they consider enough good reasons, they don’t even have to go to the court and get a search warrant anymore.
So it’s already happening and if you said to somebody that you know they could break your door down they say they’re not going to break my door down I’m not a terrorist or a drug dealer, well that’s how it all starts people say it’s OK but then the next thing you know they’re breaking your door down too.
So it’s already happening do I like it? No I don’t like it but I’m not the first– what was his name Goebbels the German who said if you say something to people enough times they believe it no matter how absurd it is and you and I have certainly seen it in the news in America you say something enough times people believe it and it becomes politically correct and then you can’t even say something that’s not politically correct in America any more.
Reprinted with permission from Zero Hedge.
Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza extols Senator Marco Rubio for his recent Rodney King-like speech (“Can’t we all just get along?”). These are the main statements reporter Cillizza excerpted from Senator Rubio’s speech:
* “I don’t know of a civilization in the history of the world that’s been able to solve its problems when half the people in a country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country.”
* “We are becoming a society incapable of having debate anymore.”
* “We are reaching a point in this republic where we are not going to be able to solve the simplest of issues because everyone is putting themselves in a corner where everyone hates everybody.”
* “What’s at stake here tonight … is not simply some rule but the ability of the most important nation on earth to debate in a productive and respectful way the pressing issues before it.”
But there is nothing more to say, Senator Rubio. Democrats object to the appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general because he could soon be prosecuting them and putting them in jail. Yes. Hillary Clinton in jail. That is a point that doesn’t come out in Senate confirmation hearings. It is not about whether he is, was, or might be a racist.
The appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary doesn’t need further debate. The left-wing socialist rainbow, global warming, LGBT, pro-vaccination, same-sex marriage curriculum would be in jeopardy with her confirmation.
The backlash is that the left-wing progressives now urge parents to home school at a time when homeschooling has grown from 850,000 (2009) to 1.8million (2012), largely due to Christians pulling their kids out of public schooling. Progressives want the whole population of school kids indoctrinated in their worldview, or else. If they don’t get their way, they are thinking of pulling their kids out of public schools and opting for home schooling.
So the bottom line here is that this is a battle of worldviews, not over test scores or whether Common Core should be used to teach mathematics.
The repeated question to Betsy DeVos was whether kids in America were going to be able to obtain an equal educational experience. But there was probably not a Senator in the room that is not or did not send his or her children to some private elite school. The demand for equality breeds mediocrity. It breeds indoctrination, not education. It was Winston Churchill who said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
Not a word how America is going to address educational curriculums in a technology-driven world that is moving so fast that we must prepare kids for careers that don’t exist yet. Not a question addressed to DeVos about how to prepare kids for an age of robots with only those with high-tech skills getting meaningful jobs beyond flipping burgers and serving pizzas.
Should kids who really don’t get good grades and really don’t qualify for admission to universities waste their time and money to participate in an educational experience that is watered-down for them? Should they start their own lives with a mountain of school debt instead of earning and saving? Bring on the real questions, Senator Rubio.
Are we as a nation going to have free markets with the opportunity to start free enterprises so young people can chart their own future? Shall we just throw out the Judeo-Christian work ethic and work for the government or just get on the government welfare dole?
And while we are talking about education, when are American school systems going to educate kids about where the money comes from, how it is distributed, and the real value (or imagined value) of paper money?
Rubio’s speech posits a junior-high school understanding to surface issues, not the real underpinnings of the core issues of contention.
Stalin wasn’t all bad, you know.
Sure he was a murderous thug responsible for around 50 million deaths while reducing the rest of the population to a state of misery, poverty, and near-permanent terror. Sure his collective farming policy turned breadbaskets into famine-starved hellholes where cannibalism was rife and his Five Year Plans destroyed what was left of the Russian economy after Lenin.
But let’s not forget the upsides: he “ended the exploitation of peasants by greedy landlords and to rid of the greedy and troublesome kulaks”‘ and he “helped peasants work together”.
This, amazingly, is what children are being taught in British schools. The quotations come from the GCP GCSE Modern World History revision guide and indicate the kind of answers kids are expected to give in their history exams when talking about Stalin’s collectivisation of farms.
Apparently, this is part of a method where they are expected to discuss the Pros and Cons of each issue.
Like me, Bartholomew is an ardent believer in a minimal state. That is, he thinks that whenever the government tries to make things better it almost invariably makes things worse and that the state is, therefore, best cut out of the equation as often as humanly possible.
That history is teaching lunacy is a fairly typical consequence of excess government. In a free education market, where anyone could set up a school, it’s somewhat unlikely that the history curriculum would allow the promulgation of such outrageous left wing propaganda.
Stalin was loathsome – directly responsible for more deaths even than Hitler. Yet schools that – as Bartholomew notes – would never dream of asking kids to talk about the Pros of the Holocaust somehow feel it’s OK to look for some of the positives in this sadistic Communist tyrant. Why?
Partly because in Britain – as in the U.S., where Betsy DeVos has arrived as Education Secretary not a moment too soon – schools have been skewed by the values of the public sector which, like those of public sectors everywhere, are unerringly left wing.
Very few parents would wish their child to be taught that Stalin had his upsides. But few get much choice in the matter because there is no competitive market in schools: bad teachers are rarely sacked (as they would be in private sector industries, but not in the heavily unionised state sector) and if the school in your area is failing and teaching your children badly there’s probably nowhere else nearby you can move them.
Volvo – the famously Swedish car company now owned by the Chinese – was famous once upon a time for the crashworthiness of its vehicles. You may recall. They were built heavy and boxy, specifically designed to withstand rollovers (the roof would support the weight of the car) and to be survivable in wrecks that would probably not be in lighter, less sturdy cars.
They were also stodgy and (generally) not speedy – things esteemed by parents of first-time teenaged drivers.
Volvo sold safety – and it sold very well. It built the company.
But now all cars are Volvos.
“Safety” is everywhere – because the government requires it. All cars must have roofs capable of supporting the weight of the car if it rolls over. They must have a half dozen airbags, backup cameras, and tire pressure monitors; they are subjected to frontal, side and offset barrier crash testing which they have to pass. It is why all new cars have bulbous, up high butts and (generally) less glass and more metal surrounding the interior “bathtub” of the passenger compartment.
And it’s the major reason why most new cars look mostly the same – from the side in particular.
This, of course, is a problem for Volvo – which must now try to sell something other than “safety.”
So Volvo is trying to build cars more like those sold by BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and other high-tier brands, which Volvo aspires to. They sell style and sex appeal, tech features and performance.
“Safety,” too – but it’s way down the list of major touts. Because it’s become a given.
Volvo is also returning to wagons – which the company used to sell a lot of when other brands weren’t selling any (or very few). Now they are selling them, too.
It’s a much tougher room.
Maybe they’ll make it – maybe not. But it’s interesting to note that it wasn’t necessary for the government to force car companies to sell “safe” – that is, crashworthy – cars. This is a common misconception, not unlike the superstitious belief of a rainforest savage that if he fails to kowtow before the totem pole, the sky god will be angered and the rains will not come.
Volvo made hay selling particularly crashworthy cars.
No one made any hay selling “unsafe” cars.
But there was a buyer demographic that particularly esteemed crashworthiness more than other criteria and Volvo catered to that demographic while other brands focused on things like sexy looks or high performance or low price or high mileage.
Today, everyone knows that every new car is “safe” – which kind of blurs Volvo out.
But “safety” is a relative thing – even today. A ’70s-era S-Class Mercedes is still a safer car to be in than a brand-new Smart car. And a brand-new full-size (and heavier) car is still generally more able to protect the people riding inside than a smaller (and lighter car) even though both meet government “safety” requirements.
Thomas Jefferson was a radical. He was also a conservative. His life represented a series of seemingly unorganized contradictions. He rooted his political philosophy in a consistent defense of federalism, an idea older than the British North American colonies. He was an American aristocrat who held opinions of society and man consistent with most of the prevailing racial and social attitudes of his day. Yet, Jefferson also sought to reform Virginia—his country—and tear down the established religious and educational hierarchy that had remained static for nearly two hundred years, a class system that while undemocratic produced most of the greatest statesmen of the founding generation. Jefferson thought his vision of republicanism would help advance the natural aristocracy and eliminate the pitfalls of ancient hereditary order, even an order that brought him to prominence.
That Jefferson can be many things makes him both more endearing and problematic for modern American society. Kevin Gutzman’s Thomas Jefferson—Revolutionary attempts to bring these competing visions of Jefferson into focus. As Gutzman writes, “if he [Jefferson] had been a pointillist painter, there would be enough dots on his canvas for the viewer to be able to make out a clear image.” For Gutzman, that neo-impressionist Jefferson is a consistent advocate of a political and social philosophy that can be traced to his days as a student at William and Mary. Jefferson’s principles never wavered. That alone speaks volumes about the man.
Gutzman contends that every political rumination that passed Jefferson’s lips should be viewed through the lens of federalism. “The principle of decentralization,” Gutzman asserts, “always struck Jefferson as essential to popular government…” and “Whether in the highest federal offices or as a private citizen, he held the federal government to this principle until his very end.” Indeed, Gutzman dedicates nearly one-third of the book to this important topic, though the other issues he discusses—religious liberty, “assimilation,” “colonization,” and education—were also undergirded by Jefferson’s eye-level gaze with his mountains. Jefferson’s work in codifying religious liberty, for example, never expanded beyond Virginia, and his effort to establish a university to rid Virginians of the “dark Federalist mills” of the North was a component of his greater concern for a complete revision of Virginia’s educational system. But only in Virginia. Jefferson never believed he had a mandate to interfere with the local concerns of New England.
Gutzman spills a great deal of ink explaining how Jefferson’s 1774 “A Summary View of the Rights of British America” outlined his general political philosophy. To Jefferson, the colonies had always been the masters of their own domain. This, in turn, relegated the Parliament and king to external concerns of defense and international trade. Jefferson wove that belief in local self-government into the Declaration of Independence and his many statements on the proper role of the general government vis-à-vis the States. While most historians have considered Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 to be a defense of free speech and the press, Gutzman argues that Jefferson intended that effort to be a defense of federalism. After all, he opened with an explanation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. The regulation and punishment of speech and press were powers reserved to the people of the States, not the general government.
Gutzman’s crisp writing buttresses this forcefully argued tome. His work is not intended to be a complete biography but a thorough sketch of the mind of perhaps the most misunderstood member of the founding generation. Gutzman aptly shows that the American tradition would be nothing without Jefferson, but more than anything, he has rescued and revitalized Jefferson’s resolute defense of federalism. That alone is worth the price of the book.
While the MSM is still in full “attack Trump” mode, breathlessly reporting each of his tweets, attacking his cabinet picks, gleefully celebrating how the most liberal court in the land, as well as the one that has the most over-turned rulings by the Supreme Court, has temporarily blocked the immigration pause, we see that one of the biggest bombshells was dropped on February 4, 2017, yet major outlets like Washington Post, New York Times and other mainstream outlets, has either downplayed it or simply hidden it from their audience.
Three Pakistani brothers, are under criminal investigation for unauthorized access into congressional computers. The suspects had access to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’, most sensitive information.
Brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were barred from computer networks at the House of Representatives Thursday, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.
Three members of the intelligence panel and five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs were among the dozens of members who employed the suspects on a shared basis. The two committees deal with many of the nation’s most sensitive issues and documents, including those related to the war on terrorism.
All three brothers were employed by Democrats.
Maria Bartiromo of Fox News discusses this issue in the short clip below.
How sensitive is the information these men had access to? That is explained in detail by FrontPage:
The offices that employed them included HPSCI minority members Speier, Carson and Joaquín Castro. Congressman Castro, who also sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, utilized the services of Jamal Moiz Awan. Speier and Carson’s offices utilized Imran Awan.
Abid A. Awan was employed by Lois Frankel and Ted Lieu: members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also on the committee is Castro. As is Robin Kelly whose office employed Jamal Awan. Lieu also sits on the subcommittees on National Security and Information Technology of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Tammy Duckworth’s office had also employed Abid. Before Duckworth successfully played on the sympathy of voters to become Senator Tammy Duckworth, she had been on the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces of the Armed Services Committee.
Gwen Graham, who had also been on the Armed Services Committee and on the Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee, had employed Jamal Awan. Jamal was also employed by Cedric Richmond’s office. Richmond sits on the Committee on Homeland Security and on its Terrorism and Cybersecurity subcommittee. He is a ranking member of the latter subcommittee. Also employing Jamal was Mark Takano of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Imran had worked for the office of John Sarbanes who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees, among other things, the nuclear industry. Other members of the Committee employing the brothers included Yvette Clarke, who also sits on the Bipartisan Encryption Working Group, Diana DeGette, Dave Loebsack and Tony Cardenas.
But finally there’s Andre Carson.
Carson is the second Muslim in Congress and the first Muslim on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and, more critically, is the ranking member on its Emerging Threats Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Department of Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture Subcommittee.
The post Congressional Dems Go Diverse on Their Classifed Data appeared first on LewRockwell.
After three weeks as president, Donald Trump has turned out to be “same as the old boss,” definitely when it comes to US foreign policy. The short explanation is every US president merely plays a puppet figurehead role, taking his orders directly from the New World Order elite and their neocon surrogates, fast moving us towards one world government tyranny that will be the ultimate outcome of a simultaneous collapse of the global economy timed with the launch of another world war.
Just as there was no difference between the same neocon interventionist aggression displayed under Obama and the war crime-ridden Bush-Cheney administration, President Trump is now also marching quickstep down that same seamless path towards world war as did Obama. Regardless of who or what party occupies the White House, the one constant is an aggressive foreign policy delivered by deep state neocons entrenched in Washington power for many decades now. And the neocons take their orders from the ruling elite.
Trump, the candidate promised a major shift in US foreign policy towards a far more sensible, even planet-saving, non-interventionist, “America first” approach, avoiding the constant meddling entanglements in other nations’ internal affairs that only polarizes the geopolitical chessboard towards increasing global conflict. It appeared as though the United States might finally be free of the near four decade-long bipartisan neo-conned control bent on maintaining US Empire at all cost, insisting on the status quo of unipolar sole world superpower hegemony and full frontal military dominance. The neocons refuse to live in a world where power is shared with emerging regional players Russia and China.
And since neocons are still in control in Washington, after just three weeks in the White House, it’s already disturbingly clear that the Trump presidency will be no different from the rest, racing full speed ahead, plunging the earth straight into a homicidal if not suicidal course toward World War III. Be it through escalating existing wars in Syria and Ukraine that lead to bigger wars with Iran, China and Russia, the Bush-Obama-Trump regime seems hell bent on world destruction. Meanwhile, even at home, Washington’s ever-rising authoritarian control and the violent anti-Trump mania are creating conditions ripe for even a domestic civil war to break out.
Evidence of this disastrous road we’re already traveling at breakneck speed on is overwhelming. Just the fact that Elliot Abrams, a neocon from way back to the Reagan-Bush senior-Iran Contra days is currently up for consideration as deputy secretary of state, speaks volumes that we’re about to be pushed off the doomsday cliff.
This presentation will focus on specific actions that the Trump administration has already completed that provide more than enough proof that we’re perhaps just weeks if not months away from escalating yet more catastrophic war. This analysis addresses the likelihood of imminent global war based on the three-year-old violent conflict in Ukraine ratcheting up now, and how that hotspot is being used to undermine, neutralize and effectively reverse promises that Trump the candidate made to cooperate with Putin. The bottom line is neocon forces greater than the president still holds the agenda to continue to demonize Putin in their race to global war.
Reminiscent of the tag team duo of the corporate press working in tandem with the federal government, first we had Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham over in Ukraine egging on the US illegally installed puppet neo-Nazi regime in Kiev to launch yet another offensive into the former Ukraine eastern provinces, now the Donbass region on January 2nd as a new year’s prelude of what’s to come in 2017. Then like predictable, synchronized clockwork, US mainstream media as typically represented by a February 1st Foreign Policy article was quick to claim that Putin delivered the Trump administration its first foreign policy test. The hit piece falsely charged Russia with firing off the countless rocket and artillery rounds at Ukrainian forces, killing a dozen Kiev soldiers the last few days of January. Another MSM war propaganda headline, this time Newsweek’s, read “While Trump Fiddles, Putin Steps Up The War In Ukraine.”
These articles emphasize that the renewed volley of Russian “aggression” came just one day after Trump and Putin’s hour long first phone conversation agreeing to work peaceably together as partners fighting the common ISIS/al Qaeda enemy as well as forging a plan to diminish hostilities in Ukraine. As is typical of Western press to vilify Putin, Foreign Policy conspicuously plants the notion that Putin launching artillery strikes in Ukraine has already proven he is betraying Trump’s trust.
The piece goes on to report that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) contends that Russia unilaterally stepped up its shelling against Kiev forces to the extent that after 2600 counted rounds fired on January 29th, so many came later that OSCE lost track. As far back as a decade ago Putin exposed OSCE as a propaganda front for Western aggression in Ukraine as well as throughout Eastern Europe to further its own imperialistic and geopolitical interests to encircle, isolate and weaken Russia. Of course, that has been the US foreign policy all along with both Russia and China.
The 2014 conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine after the Russian ethnic majority residing in Donetsk and Lugansk voted in a spring referendum for their independence from Ukraine, prompting the Kiev government to invade the Donbass region to oppose the freedom fighting separatists. Once again the West backing Ukraine is lined up on the wrong side of history as Kiev has engaged in ethnic cleansing and as of two years ago killed over 10,000 civilians in Donbass. In the meantime, Kiev has made repeated accusations that OSCE is failing its assigned task as a neutral monitoring observer but instead favors the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) military. This underlying dynamic may contribute to OSCE now pointing the finger at Putin as the latest aggressor, as a demonstration to Kiev and the West that it can act “impartially.”
In any case, an anonymous defense official reiterated the Pentagon’s position that it was anticipating Putin aggression in Ukraine designed to assess what he could get away with early on in the Trump administration. The US defense propagandist stated to FP:
This is all very calculated to have this open, bleeding sore on Ukraine’s body politic that will allow [Russia] to manipulate the situation and the politics of the country, and thereby keep Ukraine in this post-Soviet kleptocratic orbit.
The FP article goes on to innocuously slip in a sentence that’s clearly intended to soften Ukraine’s long planned Donbass offensive backed by US war hawks McCain and Graham, clearly violating the 2014 Minsk cease-fire agreement:
Ukrainian forces also appear to be advancing into the no man’s land separating government-controlled territory from rebel-held areas…
Reports from on the ground indicate that the real aggressor on January 28th was the Ukrainian army that began shelling DPR forces. The Kiev military moved on the offensive south of Donetsk, only to encounter minefields, in large part accounting for the couple dozen fatalities. Accusing DPR of a false flag attack was mainly to recruit Western sympathy, material support and more mercenaries for the unstable Poroshenko regime that’s steeped in political corruption and economic upheaval.
Earlier in the month the McCain-Graham envoy had promised additional support for another campaign into Donbass despite never having any legal authority, as still acting President Obama at least officially did not send them abroad. Thus, the bobsy twins may have in effect violated the Logan Act of 1799 which prohibits Americans in foreign countries operating outside presidential authority to interfere with foreign policy as set by the president. For their undermining the Trump presidency and ceaseless warmongering, even Trump called them out for their latest devious ploy to trigger World War III.
The fact that Trump has made statements during his campaign indicating that he would be open to normalizing relations with Moscow, lifting sanctions and advocates disbanding NATO poses a serious threat to the likes of the two treasonous senators and their nucleus of neocon policymakers who’ve been consistently aiming to provoke war against Russia for over three years now. Ever since the February 2014 US induced Kiev coup and a month later Putin’s legal annexation of Crimea after the ethnic Russians in Crimea voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia (which from 1783-1954 Crimea had always been part of Russia). And then even from 1954-1990, Crimea was part of the Soviet Union as a USSR state within Ukraine, but still belonged to the nation that was the USSR.
While Obama was still president and the chicken hawk senators snuck over to Ukraine, Kiev then waited till after Trump’s inauguration before unleashing its greenlighted invasion further into Donbass. The Kiev military incursion has far more to do with testing what Western-backed Ukraine can get away with on both Trump and Putin’s watch than any Putin testing of Trump waters. After all, Putin once again is not the aggressor. The offensive was solely executed so Empire neocons could sabotage the Trump-Putin relationship and prevent peace from breaking out. Only war is permitted by the Washington evildoers.
As part of the anti-Moscow propaganda to justify the latest Kiev military campaign, the Ukraine defense minister accused a Russian oil rig in the Black Sea of firing upon and damaging a Ukraine Navy transport plane. A Russian defense ministry spokesperson denies any Russian ground fire occurred, reporting that the Ukrainian plane was merely warned with four flash signals by rig security that the plane was flying too low, endangering Russian personnel working on two oil rig platforms and nearly hitting a rig tower in two simulated fly-overs. These types of aerial aggression stunts are common forms of intimidation and provocation used for propaganda purposes as yet another false flag to further justify war escalation and retaliation. The just retired NATO deputy secretary general pounced on it, claiming the incident proves that Russia is not at all interested in peace with Ukraine. In his words:
[The Kremlin] may be trying to test the new administration to see if they distance themselves from Kiev, and tell [Ukraine President] Petro Poroshenko that he has to make the best deal with Russia, which of course would destroy him politically.
Last week formerly disgraced CIA director General David Petraeus testified before the House Armed Services Committee. It’s a bad sign when Congress seeks the “expert” testimony from a top US spy who lied to the FBI after violating the Espionage Act, breaching national security by handing over highly classified material to his mistress. Prior to that crime, the war criminal was a military war commander on two fronts. Petraeus was singularly the most responsible general for causing the sectarian civil war in Iraq that eventually led to the ISIS Sunni invasion as well as contributed to the US still ongoing military defeat in Afghanistan. Petraeus trained Shiite death squads that killed thousands of Sunnis who later became Islamic State terrorists.
And it was Petraeus who wrote the war bible – the US Army Counter-Insurgency (COIN) manual – that strategically defined how America’s twenty-first century wars would be fought and lost, at enormous costs and wastes replacing many military functions with private civilian security contractors (such as hired mercenaries like Blackwater) in a failed “nation-building” attempt to imperialistically “democratize” the Middle East, proving a complete humiliating disaster in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But Petraeus’ notorious career of abject failures has now apparently earned him the status of a foreign policy guru. On February 1st the guru warned the House:
[Putin] understands that, while conventional aggression may occasionally enable Russia to grab a bit of land on its periphery, the real center of gravity is the political will of major democratic powers to defend Euro-Atlantic institutions like NATO and the EU.
You can see where all this is going. Petraeus reporting that Russia, China, Iran as well as the terrorists all pose an “unprecedented threat” is part of the staged war prepping narrative. The Washington political war machine is in full swing, ensuring that an alliance with Russia can never happen, despite whatever Trump the candidate may have uttered. That was then, this is now. So war in Ukraine once again becomes the bogus rallying cry to ensure the US-EU-NATO glue sticks together against those “imperialistic, warring” Russians bent on splintering centuries’ old allies. The elite and their neocons will not allow Brexit, strained Washington-Brussels relations or Trump nationalism ever get in their way.
Western press explains the enormous troop buildup of US-NATO forces complete with US-German-NATO tanks amassed along the Baltic state-Russian border to “protect” NATO allies from big bad Russian expansion. This again is all fabricated prewar propaganda prepping us for the war to come. Trump the candidate grumbled how once he becomes president, Europe will need to pay for its own defense. The former secretary general of NATO called that “a breach of solidarity” with Europe, warning:
The Russians would see that as a bonanza that they would try and exploit by convincing countries like Bulgaria and the Czech Republic that the US couldn’t be counted on.
Another lockdown to prevent thawed Russia-US relations is the rigid adherence to extending economic sanctions against Russia over Crimea and Donbass. After Trump the candidate had hinted to lift the sanctions, UK Prime Minister Theresa May rushed to Washington to ensure they stay in place and that Trump renews US commitment to NATO. GOP faithful like McCain threatened to pass laws to codify the sanctions should Trump let up. So you can see that the anti-Putin vilification and cold war still rage on with the latest lying rhetoric and external threats brought to bear against the US president to stay with status quo or else.
And to prove that Trump the president has succumbed to holding the anti-Russian hardline, Trump’s brand new UN ambassador Nikki Haley on her very first day at the office sounded the alarm at the UN Security Council, mimicking the same broken record as her neocon predecessor Samantha Power:
I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. It is unfortunate because it is a replay of far too many instances over many years in which Unites States representatives have needed to do that… Unites States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.
In response a Russian senator tweeted:
It looks like the new US representative at the UN came with remarks that were written by Power.
Nikki Haley obviously received her orders from above to slam Russia despite the US-Kiev collusion to recently renew aggression towards the citizens of Donbass. She also showed ignorance in failing to know that Crimea’s Ukrainian history was short. It was illegally annexed by Ukraine in 1990, thus the Black Sea peninsula was forcibly part of Ukraine for less than a quarter century. Yet the entire pretext for the US condemning Russia over Ukraine is completely based upon a lie. So are the sanctions, and so will the coming war. Again, this entire anti-Russian false narrative is such a nauseatingly tiresome US theme.
American exceptionalism means the murderous world bully can continue operating with total impunity while wrongly accusing Russia constantly, or any other nation in its crosshairs, of the exact same sinful crimes that Empire perpetrates every single day of the year. Empire’s European vassals and smaller intimidated countries must silently toe the line or else they too will be unjustly targeted with lies and punishment in the form of illegal invasions and wars (be it US boots on the ground or proxy allied mercenary terrorists), inhumane economic sanctions, trade embargoes, regime change coups and assassinations.
The only guilty nation that remains judge, jury, and executioner in this world of other countries is the United States. And Trump has already demonstrated as the White House figurehead that he is not in control but follows his globalist marching orders. Thus Trump is powerless to change rigid foreign policy still being dictated by the neocons. Nothing will change in Ukraine except more death and violence will escalate to the larger arena. Russia is still the West’s scapegoat as is every other nation that asserts its own will and independence free of the killing Empire. Only the US has invaded dozens of sovereign nations, initiated more wars and maintained the most aggressive foreign policy of any nation on earth over the last century. But it’s always Russia that’s the falsely accused aggressor that Washington and its corporate media endlessly hype in order to further justify Empire aggression and violence. After all, war has always been an American agenda.
Grant Williams pieced together some of the same things I did in my Russia piece which you ran last April, about why the Russians are buying gold (when economists are advising them to sell it) and why Russia’s balance sheet is in great shape compared to those of Western nations. The ruble’s recovery still confounds the mainstream! But Grant takes the analysis a step further to show that oil may be trading in gold terms again, tying its price action to the proposed Shanghai crude oil futures contract (which has been delayed) and the Shanghai gold market. When that oil futures contract goes live, basically the countries that have been cut out of the USD-based financial system by sanctions will be able to sell oil for gold in Shanghai. This will be a very big deal, and few mainstream economists will understand why! No one knows the timing, of course, but it’s certainly worth watching because it’s an important piece of the geopolitical and financial puzzle.
From Zero Hedge:
In December, Grant Williams, author of “Things That Make You Go Hmm…” offered the most comprehensive analysis yet of the rise and inevitable fall of the petrodollar (and implicitly US hegemony). In the following presentation, from Mines & Money Conference in London in December 2016, Williams focuses on gold’s performance in 2016, the reaction to Donald Trump’s election and joins a series of dots that may lead to the end of the petrodollar system and a new place for gold in the global monetary system.
Grab a glass fo wine – turn off Trump’s twitter feed for 30 minutes and enjoy. Here is the full presentation – “Get It. Got It. Good”
The story begins in the 1970s when Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon struck a deal with the House of Saud — a deal which gave birth to the petrodollar system.
The terms were simple The Saudis agreed to ONLY accept U.S. Dollars in return for their oil and that they would reinvest their surplus dollars into U.S. treasuries.
In return, the U.S. would provide arms and a security guarantee to the Saudis who, it has to be said, were living in a pretty rough neighbourhood. As you can see, things went swimmingly (chart below)
Saudi purchases of treasuries grew along with the oil price and everyone was happy. (We’ll come back to that blue box on the right shortly)
The inverse correlation between the dollar and crude is just about as perfect as one could expect (until recently that is… but again, we’ll be back to that).
And, as you can see here, beginning when Nixon slammed the gold window shut on French fingers and picking up speed once the petrodollar system was ensconced, foreign buyers of U.S. debt grew exponentially.
Having the world’s most vital commodity exclusively priced in U.S. dollars meant everybody needed to hold large dollar reserves to pay for it and that meant a yuuuge bid for treasuries. It’s good to be the king.
By 2015, as the chart on the next page shows quite clearly, there were treasuries to the value of around 6 years of total global oil supply in the hands of foreigners (if we assume a constant 97 million bpd supply which I think is a pretty reasonable estimate).
Now… with that brief background on the petrodollar system, here’s where I need you to stick with me. I promise you it’ll be worth the mental effort
Ready? Here we go.
Now, back in 2010, then-World Bank President Robert Zoellick caused something of a commotion when he suggested that an entirely new global monetary system maybe wasn’t such a bad idea.
The system he had in mind involved a freely-convertible Yuan and, controversially was constructed around gold as its central reference point:
(Robert Zoellick, November 8, 2010): …the G20 should complement this growth recovery programme with a plan to build a co-operative monetary system that reflects emerging economic conditions. This new system is likely to need to involve the dollar, the euro, the yen, the pound and a renminbi that moves towards internationalisation and then an open capital account.
The system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values. Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today.
In seemingly unrelated news, two years later, Iran began accepting Yuan in payment for its oil amid US sanctions. The transactions were conducted through Russian banks:
(Financial Times, May 2012): Iran is accepting renminbi for some of the crude oil it supplies to China…
…Tehran is spending the currency, which is not freely convertible, on goods and services imported from China…
The trade is worth as much as $20bn-$30bn annually according to industry estimates…
The renminbi purchases began some months ago…much of the money is transferred to Tehran through Russian banks, which take large commissions on the transactions…
Beijing has been trying to get its trading partners to use the renminbi, in effect transferring the exchange rate risk to its counterparties, since the price of crude is set in US dollars. It also frees Beijing of the need to hold as many dollars in its reserves.
The crucial part of this deal was that, by diversifying their purchases in this way, the Chinese had found a path towards not only needing to hold fewer U.S. dollar reserves, but to circumventing the petrodollar system altogether.
By 2013, the penny had clearly dropped at the PBoC who declared an end to the era of their accumulation of U.S. treasuries:
(Bloomberg, November 2013): The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.
“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range
Yes, it was, apparently “no longer in China’s interest” to accumulate foreign exchange reserves.
Sure enough, in 2014, global FX reserves began to decline at the fastest rate in 80 years as you can see from this chart:
That same year, another piece of the puzzle was laid in place when Xu Luode, the Chairman of the newly-founded Shanghai Gold Exchange, explained that gold would be priced and sold in Yuan as a step towards what he called the “internationalization of the renminbi” (for those of you confused by Yuan and Renminbi, just think of them as the Chinese equivalent of ‘Pound’ and ‘Sterling’):
(Xu Luode, Speech to LBMA, May 2014): Foreign investors can directly use offshore yuan to trade gold on the SGE international board, which is promoting the internationalization of the renminbi…
Shanghai Gold will change the current gold market “consumption in the East priced in the West” situation.
When China will have a right to speak in the international gold market, pricing will get revealed…
Interestingly, Luode acknowledged what he accurately described as the “consumption in the East, priced in the West” situation and assured the world that the ‘real’ price of gold would become apparent once China took its rightful place at the centre of the gold market.
We can but hope he is correct. When that day comes, the change on the world’s gold markets will be unprecedented.
In 2015, another announcement slipped by the world when it was revealed that Russia’s Gazprom would also begin selling oil to the Chinese in exchange for yuan and that they were negotiating further agreements to use rubles and yuan to settle natural gas trading directly, without the need for dollars:
(Moscow Times, June 2015): “Two state energy companies, gas producer Gazprom and its oil arm Gazprom Neft, said they would use more Chinese currency in trade, while Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, has also promoted the use of the yuan…
Gazprom Neft announced that it began settling shipments of oil to China in yuan. And previously, the head of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, said in a TV interview that the company was negotiating with China to use yuan and rubles for gas deliveries via a planned pipeline in Western Siberia.
OK… hands up if you’re still with me… great!
Oh… you’re reading this so I can’t see you but hopefully you’re following the dots…
For those of you who aren’t, here’s a little recap of where we are so far to help you get things into the right order before we push on to the end:
Get it? Got it? Good.
So… here we are, in 2016 and, as it turned out, April was a hell of a month if you were paying attention.
Firstly, the Saudis threatened to sell almost a trillion dollars of U.S. assets—including over $300 billion of treasury bonds—should a bill be passed by the congress allowing the Saudis to be held responsible for the 9/11 attacks:
NY Times, April 16, 2016): Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the 9/11 attacks.
Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi would be forced to sell up to $750B in treasury securities & other assets in the US before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the bill was subsequently passed before being vetoed by President Obama who then had to watch in ignominy as he suffered the first veto override of his presidency.
Just days later, the Saudis were the cause of a seemingly surprise failure by OPEC to agree a production cut as the oil price languished in the low-$30s:
(Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2016): DOHA, Qatar—Oil producers that supply almost half the world’s crude failed Sunday to negotiate a production freeze intended to strengthen prices.
The talks collapsed after Saudi Arabia surprised the group by reasserting a demand that Iran also agree to cap its oil production.
Oil prices had rallied in recent weeks on speculation that Saudi Arabia might successfully lead an initiative between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia, which joined the talks.
A deal would have marked a new level of cooperation between non-OPEC countries and OPEC members that producers hoped would keep prices above January lows of $26 a barrel.
Just 48 hours after that surprise, the Chinese finally launched their twice daily gold fixing, setting the price at 256.92 yuan per gram:
(Bloomberg, April 19, 2016): China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of gold, started a twice-daily price fixing on Tuesday in an attempt to establish a regional benchmark and bolster its influence in the global market.
The Shanghai Gold Exchange set the price at 256.92 yuan a gram ($1,233.85 an ounce) at the 10:30 a.m. session after members of the exchange submitted buy and sell orders for metal of 99.99 percent purity.
“This is a very important development and will obviously be very
closely watched,” said Robin Bhar, an analyst at Societe Generale SA in London. “But as long as it exists inside a closed monetary system it will have limited global repercussions. It could be a very important development if the new benchmark is a precursor to greater use of gold in the Chinese monetary system, Kenneth Hoffman…said by e-mail on Monday. It may also boost interest in the Shanghai free-trade zone, he said.
As Soc Gen’s Robin Bhar correctly identified, if the ability to trade gold for yuan exists within a closed monetary system, its importance will be limited BUT, as Bloomberg’s Ken Hoffman also correctly pointed out, if this was the thin end of the wedge, things could get very interesting indeed. Now, this chart shows the oil price going back to before the U.S. Civil War:
Between 1865 and 1973, the price of oil was incredibly stable against a backdrop of perhaps the greatest simultaneous economic, demographic and technological expansion in human history.
How was that possible?
Well simply put, because oil was effectively priced in gold.
Once the gold window closed and the petrodollar system was implemented, the price of oil soared 50-fold in just 35 years.
The move on the right? With the question mark against it? We’re getting there, I promise.
Now, you remember this next chart and the yuuuuuge supply of treasuries which exists compared to oil now? Well, when we add in the roughly $100 trillion in boomer entitlements that will need to be paid for by issuing—you guessed it, more treasuries—the chart changes somewhat:
That red circle down at the bottom of the second chart is the spike you see on the first chart.
It’s safe to say that, relative to even oil, and without any infrastructure spending by Donald Trump, treasuries are going to be…. abundant in the coming years.
Conversely, if we look at the value of gold relative to foreign-held treasuries, we see an altogether different story unfold.
During Reagan’s presidency, US treasuries were backed 132% by the market value of the country’s gold reserves.
Today, that number has fallen to just 4.7%
If we do the same thing and account for the $100 trillion in entitlement promises, as you can see from the chart on the next page, the number falls to 0.3% in 2025.
So the second chart (below, right) should come as no surprise to anybody.
Yes, the Chinese have started to do what they promised to start doing, when they promised to start doing it.
Now, this next part of the presentation was a rattle through a whole bunch of charts showing the recent activity in the U.S. treasury, corporate bond, agency bond and securities markets so you’ll have to brace yourself.
The charts will appear on the next page.
Chinese sales of US treasuries (1) have been consistent for the last three years…
…as have their sales of US securities (2) since 2015 after plateauing in 2013 when treasury divestiture began Concurrently, Chinese sales of corporate bonds (3) have accelerated over the same period…
…though agency sales (4)—despite a few periods of consistent selling—have yet to follow suit.
But now, as tensions rise and the cross-currents get harder to discern, guess who else has showed up as a seller?
That’s right, the Saudis are now steady sellers of US treasuries (5)…
…and even more aggressive sellers of U.S. securities (6)…
Meanwhile, taking a broader view, net foreign purchases of treasuries, according to the TIC data, have been in a clear downtrend since 2009 (7) and have been largely outflows for the last three years.
If we look at the 12-month sum of sales (8), we see an even sharper decline…
…and if we take the trailing net official demand chart for treasuries back to 1979, the scale and extent of the change is evident—as are the catalysts for the acceleration (and we’re back on this page once again):
Take a long, hard look at that last chart folks—particularly within the context of the bond bull market and the ‘bid’ for treasuries we’ve seen throughout 2015 and 2016…
Meanwhile, the Russians—who, as we’ve seen are now selling oil for yuan to the Chinese, remember?— have been picking up the pace of their accumulation of gold reserves yet again, with the most recent monthly data setting yet another record…
…and the pick up in pace is evident when we look at average monthly purchases prior to 2013 and post the agreements put in place around that time between the various parties. Now, the next chart (top of the following page) is crucial to understand because a look at the market value of Russia’s gold reserves shows just how crucial their ongoing accumulation of bullion has been for the country’s finances over the last two years…
…and that increase in value has cushioned the effects of, amongst other things, the bailing out of the ruble.
As you can see from the green line, Russia’s gold reserves in Ruble terms have soared as the country’s currency has weakened—something which confounded all the doommongers who called Game Over for Russia amidst sharply declining oil revenues:
(Bloomberg, April3, 2015): Here’s why Governor Elvira Nabiullina is in no haste to resume foreign-currency purchases after an eight-month pause: gold’s biggest quarterly surge since 1986 has all but erased losses the Bank of Russia suffered by mounting a rescue of the ruble more than a year ago.
While the ruble’s 9 percent rally this year has raised the prospects that the central bank will start buying currency again, policy makers have instead used 13 months of gold purchases to take reserves over $380 billion for the first time since January 2015.
Now, crucially, being given the ability to sell oil to the Chinese for yuan and buy gold with that same yuan directly through the Shanghai Exchange has completely changed the game for the Russians and those changes are being reflected where they matter most—in the energy markets, the supply/ demand dynamics of which are quietly morphing in plain sight.
By Augu of this year, Russia had overtaken Saudi Arabia as the largest exporter of oil into China…:
(Al Awsat, August 3, 2016): During the first seven months of this year, China imported about 30.5 million metric tons of Saudi oil, a 0.4% decrease than that of last year. Whereas, China imported about 29.5 million metric tons of Russian oil with 27% increase than last year.
…and that wasn’t something the Saudis could take lying down:
Amid this fierce competition, it is important for Saudi Arabia to fortify its oil position in China with more political and strategic support
On the contrary, they rededicated their efforts to increase what they call “political and strategic support” for China.
Now, I hope you’re all still with me because here’s where we get to the final piece of this glorious puzzle—the piece that ties all these seemingly unrelated threads together: China’s own crude oil futures contract, to be priced in Yuan and traded at the Shanghai International Energy Exchange—a yuan contract which will be made fully convertible:
(Bloomberg, November 5, 2015): By the end of 2015, China, the world’s No. 1 oil importer as of April, may start its own crude futures contract.
The idea is to establish a Chinese rival to the world’s two most traded oil contracts: West Texas Intermediate, housed on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and Brent Crude Futures, owned by ICE Futures Europe in London.
The yuan-based contract will trade on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange and will be among the first Chinese commodity contracts available to foreign investors as China promotes global use of its currency…
Participation will be open to all foreign investors and the yuan will be fully convertible under the contract, according to Song Anping, the chairman of the Shanghai Futures Exchange.
As you can see from the date of the article, this contract has been postponed several times— ostensibly for reasons such as stock market volatility in China, but perhaps there is more going on behind the scenes that is causing the delay because, once this contract is in place, things change.
In the interim, China has supplanted the U.S to become the world’s biggest importer of oil, which serves to increase both its importance in the oil markets and the likelihood of it launching its own yuan-denominated contract at some point in time:
(Bloomberg, October 13, 2016): China is now the world’s biggest oil importer, unseating the U.S. The country’s crude imports climbed to a record 8.08 million barrels a day in September, a year-on-year increase of 18 percent, customs data released Thursday showed.
So, the world’s largest exporter of oil is now dealing with the largest importer directly in yuan and it has the ability to convert those yuan proceeds into physical gold through the Shanghai exchange— which the data suggest it is doing as fast as possible.
Currently, the bilateral oil for gold trade is only available to what the U.S. would no doubt consider a ‘basket of deplorables’ in Iran and Russia…but just think what happens once that fully convertible oil contract is up and running…?
Suddenly, the availability to price oil in gold is available to everybody and, given rising Saudi/U.S. tensions and the Middle East nation’s recent rededication to providing “political and strategic support” to China it’s easy to see why this would be attractive to the Saudis, for example.
Whatever happens, opening that contract creates a market-wide arbitrage opportunity which affords anybody with oil to sell the ability to exchange said oil for gold and anybody wanting oil to acquire it cheaply by buying cheap gold in the West and shipping it to Shanghai or HK where it can be sold for yuan.
Already, places like Tokyo, Seoul and Dubai are opening physical gold markets and discussing linking their nascent markets for bullion to the Shanghai exchange which has rapidly become the largest physical delivery market in the world.
Now, were this arbitrage to begin happening in any meaningful size, with the market for oil far bigger than that for gold, it would immediately be evident in the ratio between the two commodities…
…which, interestingly, is precisely what has happened since the peak of global reserves in 2014 and the Sino-Russian agreement to essentially transact oil for gold. With those conditions in place, the gold/oil ratio has broken out to its highest level in 80 years (chart, next page):
…which brings us right back to the question mark on the second chart which we left hanging like a matzah ball earlier in this presentation
The recent move in the oil price looks to me suspiciously like a sign that a move has started to return to pricing oil in gold.
That move, if indeed it is happening beneath the surface, allied with the endless possibilities enabled by the potential full convertibility of the yuan under the Shanghai-based oil contract leaves oil producing nations with a rather obvious choice for the first time in almost half a century—a choice made perfectly clear by the two charts on the next page:
If you are an oil producing country, do you…:
MINIMIZE your production in order to MAXIMIZE your holdings of one of the most abundant and easily-produced commodities in the world—U.S. treasuries—as has been the case for the last 40 years… knowing full well that, with the level of entitlements due in the next decade, more will need to be printed like crazy?
Do you MAXIMIZE production in order to gain the largest possible market share in the biggest oil market in the world and, through the ability to buy gold for yuan, thereby maximize your reserves of a scarce, physical commodity which is impossible to produce from thin air and which happens to be not only the most undervalued asset on the planet, but is trading at its most undervalued relative to U.S. treasuries in living memory?
With an annual production of $170bn, gold is by far the largest metal market by value.
However, that figure is dwarfed by the oil market which is 10x the size of the gold market on an annual production basis.
If we throw in the average annual foreign holdings of U.S. treasuries over the last 2 years, we see that the ‘other’ commodity is at a different magnitude altogether.
So, which one of these commodities has any scarcity value? Given the choice, which one would you seek to maximize your holdings of?
U.S. treasuries which can be conjured out of thin air by the U.S. government and which, are described thus by The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association:
Because these debt obligations are backed by the “full faith and credit” of the government, and thus by its ability to raise tax revenues and print currency, U.S. Treasury securities – or “Treasuries” – are generally considered the safest of all investments. They are viewed in the market as having virtually no “credit risk,” meaning that it is highly probable your interest and principal will be paid fully and on time.
Or how about oil? Which the Saudis, for example, can simply print pull out of the ground at will at a cost of a little under $10/barrel?
Or gold? A commodity which is limited in availability, trading at its all-time low relative to U.S. treasury supply and is not only getting harder and more expensive to produce, but which is also catching the eye not only of the central banks of the world’s two largest producers, but of the largest importer and largest exporter of oil?
* * *
Much more in the full PDF below
Misery loves company. Americans who have been suffering the agonies of advanced Trumpitis can now turn to France and share a good cry.
France’s presidential politics are as crazy and sleazy as America’s, and equally depressing.
French politics run the gamut from the noblest aspirations of the 1789 revolution to today’s gutter fighting and back-stabbing. The lust for power is always thus.
A late 19th-century French president, Jean Casimir-Perier, aptly quipped, “government is a constant conspiracy.” He was also a former banker.
Today, we observe the doleful spectacle of France’s politicians locked into a sordid demolition derby that disgusts many voters and heaps opprobrium on the great nation of France which, we should not forget, helped birth the American Republic.
The race began when President Francois Hollande, a dreary little Socialist apparatchik who always looks about to burst into tears, wisely decided not to run for a second term. His polls had nosedived to 4%. Amusingly, the only time they went up in recent memory was a 2% blip when photographers caught ‘Monsieur le president’ sneaking off to a ‘cinq-a-sept’ afternoon dalliance with a young movie actress.
This left political big wigs Nicholas Sarkozy, the respected Alain Juppé, and Hollande’s former prime minister, Manuel Valls (he’s from Barcelona), and Sarkozy’s long-suffering former prime minister Francois Fillon to slug it out. To general amazement, straight-arrow Catholic Fillon soundly beat Valls, Juppé, and Sarkozy in a primary last month.
Sarko was just indicted for illegal fund-raising and faces further charges of taking illegal cash payments from Libya’s late strongman, Muammar Khadaffi. Critics claim Sarkozy organized the murder of Khadaffi to shut him up. He denies the charge.
From darkest left field came two veteran leftists, Bernard Hamon and Jean-Luc Melanchon. Both dreary Maxists looked like they stepped off a stage with Josef Stalin. After five years of Hollande, France’s Left is exhausted and down in the dumps. Their chance of winning is considered nil.
Out of an elegant Louis-XIV box jumped Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year old investment banker who had been working for the mighty Rothschild Bank. Running as a non-party independent, Macron vowed a ‘middle way’ to French disgusted by their politics. His chances look good. The Rothschilds are ‘tres content.’
All these candidates are facing `walkure’ Marine Le Pen and her Front National party. I’ve never interviewed Madame Le Pen but I did spend a good deal of time with her dear old dad, Jean-Marie Le Pen who founded the hard-line, far-right party. Papa Le Pen is a vintage Catholic right-winger along the lines of France’s wartime Vichy government. He wanted Muslims, Jews, and other emigrants out of France and a return to the ‘good old’ days of the 1950’s.
So, too, Marine but she does not say this openly any more. She suppressed the party’s more extreme elements and kicked her dad out in a successful effort to soften the party’s image. She is doing very well in the polls and may even win the first election round in April of the two-round election. Le Pen calls US-led sanctions against Russia, ‘completely stupid’ and has nice things to say about Trump and Russia’s Putin. In fact, her party has received loans from Russian banks.
She promises to exit the European Union, bring back the French franc and adopt Trumpian-style economic nationalism. Problem is, France’s Socialist-engineered regulations make it almost impossible to profitably make industrial products in France. Bully-boy unions can paralyze the nation in a day. Breaking their death-grip on France’s economy will take a near war. Ditching the EU would be a disaster for Europe.
Fillon looked set to win the spring vote thanks to his clean image and support from Catholic voters. But then a satirical newspaper revealed that he had paid his wife and two of his children some one million euros over a decade, supposedly for `administrative’ duties. While such payola is legitimate and common among the political class, this revelation shocked even jaded French. The lily-white Fillon sank to third place.
One was quickly reminded of France’s priapic former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was arrested in New York in 2011 for allegedly assaulting a hotel maid. He had been a shoe-in to become French prime minister until the scandal erupted. Many French, and this writer believe that his rival Nicholas Sarkozy was somehow involved in this honey-trap affair.
Until last week, Emmanuel Macron held the lead. That was until some Russian magazines started accusing him of being a closet homosexual. French are pretty easy-going about the sex of all kinds, but Macron’s image of being Mr. Clean was tarnished.
French centrists are now calling on Fillon to stay in the race, or for his rival, former PM Alain Juppé, to re-enter the contest. Sarkozy can’t because he is facing trial. Juppé would be the best candidate and would clobber Le Pen in the second vote.
But who knows what’s next? Certainly, the French Republic deserves better than this comedy.
Waiter! Quickly, Another bottle of Bordeaux.