Thursday, March 22, 2018

Facebook - Why Bother?

For Reference: Here's what & how Cambridge Analytica did what they did: it's likely not how you thought they did what they did.  Equally impressive and scary at the same time ... Cambridge Analytica: What The Media Won’t Tell You

It's time to protect yourself — and your friends — from Facebook

The Problem Is Facebook, Not Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica CEO Caught On Camera Offering Bribes And Sex Workers To Entrap Political Opponents 

"Where's Mark?" CEO's Silence On Cambridge Analytica Is Making Facebook Employees Uneasy 

Facebook Shares Extend Plunge After FTC Probe Revealed 

Meet Facebook's Biggest Holders Who Are Having A Very Bad Day (Or Two)

Obama's Former Campaign Director Makes Bombshell Claim: Facebook Was "On Our Side" 

Former Facebook-er: Cambridge Analytica-Style Data-Harvesting Was "Shockingly Routine"

Opening Pandora's Box: Facebook To Brief Congress On What Happened

Facebook COO Sandberg To John Podesta: "I Want Hillary To Win Badly"

Second Undercover Cambridge Analytica Video Drops: Claim They "Won Election For Trump" 

Lawsuits Pile Up As #DeleteFacebook Movement Spreads

Zuck Made Him A Billionaire, Now WhatsApp Founder Urges Users To Delete Facebook

Direct from the Department of No Shit, Really? Zuckerberg Issues Statement On Cambridge Analytica: "We Made Mistakes"

New: "Can We Trust Facebook?" Mark Zuckerberg's Non-Answer Says It All 

New: Zuckerberg To Appear On CNN At 9PM; Is Summoned By UK Over Growing Scandal

Absolutely Covers It

Yeah, Cause of Course This Is Within The Mission Scope

Syrian War Report – March 20, 2018: U.S. Building Military Garrison To Control Largest Syrian Oil Field. Sheeple.  The American people have no idea what goes on in their name.

The Military Industrial Complex Wants a Raise I Guess

STRATCOM General Warns: US Is Powerless Against Hypersonic Missile Attacks From China, Russia.  Nothing will get money into government coffers like fear.  My question is this: what protects us from politicians and war mongering crony capitalists?

The Cost Of War ...

... is borne by so very few. A moving, powerful piece from Major Danny Sjursen, Wake-Up Call: Damaged Vets, Unnecessary War, and the Price We Pay.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Covers It!

So It Is

Naming America’s Wars Is A Scary Enterprise by W.J. Astore (one of my new favorite writers):
At, Andrew Bacevich asks a pregnant question: What should we call America’s no-name wars?  (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and so on.)  It used to be the GWOT (global war on terror), sometimes shortened to War on Terror and favored by the Bush/Cheney administration.  The Obama administration punted, preferring the anodyne label of “overseas contingency operations.”  Other names and concepts have been floated, such as “generational war” and “long war,” and the U.S. military itself, which is quite expert at creating acronyms, has used terms like MOOTW (military operations other than war).  Indeed, the fact that America’s wars lack a commonly accepted name points to the lack of a common theme or strategy.  Put differently, when you can’t name something accurately, how can you understand it, let alone fight it smartly and win it?
Forgive me for being flippant, but I can think of a few less than reverent names that serve to highlight the folly of America’s nameless wars.  How about these?
  1. “Perpetual Preemptive War”: Preemptive war was the great idea of the Bush/Cheney administration. Remember how we couldn’t allow the smoking gun of Iraqi WMD to become a mushroom cloud? We had to preempt the non-existent WMD, hence the disastrous Iraq war(s).
  2. “Generational War for Generals”: General David Petraeus has spoken of a generational war against terror in countries like Afghanistan, comparing it to America’s 60+ year commitment to South Korea. Waging that war should keep a lot of U.S. generals busy over the next few decades.
  3. “Bankrupt Strategy to Bankrupt America”: America’s total national debt just reached $21 trillion (you read that right), with perhaps $6 trillion of that due to America’s wars since 9/11. If we keep up this pace of spending, we will soon conquer ourselves to bankruptcy. Mission accomplished!
  4. “The Wars to End All Peace”: Woodrow Wilson had “the war to end all wars” with World War I. Bush/Obama/Trump can say that they have the wars to end all peace, since there simply is no prospect of these wars ever ending in the foreseeable future.
  5. “Endless War to End Democracy”: FDR had the Four Freedoms and a real war to end Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan as threats to world peace. We now have endless war to end democracy in America.  As James Madison wrote,
Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.  War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debt and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.  In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.  The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both.  No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare …

In short, instead of fighting for Four Freedoms, we’re now waging a permanent war that will end freedom.

Small wonder we avoid naming our wars – their theme and meaning are too frightening to nail down with precision.

I'd like to add my own names:
  • "Wars to Kill Other People's Children"

What, You're Surprised To Learn The ...

NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users Since 2013, New Snowden Documents Reveal? Really? Anything can be done in the name of "national security". And it is.

Sadly, It Doesn't Sound Crazy At All

A World War Might Sound Crazy, but It Could Be America’s Last Act of Desperation. Those in high places, powerful people, who literally have no skin in the game when it comes to war, want to take this country into yet more conflict.  Somewhere. Anywhere.  Read the entire piece, but what follows is a truly scary quote:
Donald Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review entails that, as Katrina vanden Heuvel noted in an article published in the Washington Post:

“The United States reserves the right to unleash nuclear weapons first in ‘extreme circumstances’ to defend the ‘vital interests’ not only of the United States but also of its ‘allies and partners’ — a total of some 30 countries. ‘Extreme circumstances,’ the review states explicitly, include ‘significant non-nuclear attacks,’ including conventional attacks on ‘allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure.’ The United States also maintains a ‘portion of its nuclear forces’ on daily alert, with the option of launching those forces ‘promptly.’ [emphasis added]
Think about that for a minute: "some 30 countries".  America "reserves the right to unleash" what amounts to Armageddon in defense of the "vital interests" of 30 other nations in addition to itself! Someone, somewhere has to explain the idea of moral hazard to these knuckleheads.

Quote of The Day

"It matters less who fills the position of Secretary of State or CIA director when the real issue is that both federal agencies are routinely engaged in activities that are both unconstitutional and anti-American. It is the current Executive Branch overreach that threatens our republic more than the individuals who fill positions in that Executive Branch. As long as Congress refuses to exercise its Constitutional authority and oversight obligations – especially in matters of war and peace – we will continue our slide toward authoritarianism, where the president becomes a kind of king who takes us to war whenever he wishes." - Ron Paul, Pompeo and Haspel are Symptoms of a Deeper Problem

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What's Happening To My China?!

Well, I suppose nothing is happening to the country China, but the state that runs it? Well, that's a different story. People will soon be getting a "social credit score" and it's downright scary shit, really!  Then again, it can happen because the government has a monopoly on power, on the use of sanctioned violence.

A Fine Letter to the Publisher of the NYT

Skip past Tom's preamble, and read Andrew Bacevich's letter to the new publisher of the New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger: On Seeing America’s Wars Whole Six Questions for A.G. Sulzberger

It's Getting Hotter and Closer to ....

War.  US Planning a Terrorist False Flag Chemical Attack to Justify Bombing Syria: Russia Says It Will Respond. Government manipulation via the media, of the sheeple it calls citizens.

Quote of the Day

"Nothing will say more about who we are, across three American administrations - one that demanded torture, one that covered it up, and one that seeks to promote its bloody participants - than whether Gina Haspel becomes director of the CIA." - Peter Van Buren, Gina Haspel: As If Nuremberg Never Happened

And So It Begins

New: Turkey's Erdogan Vows New Military Operations Into Eastern Syria And Sinjar, Iraq

Ukraine Gets Official NATO Status: Weighing Up the Pros and ConsTightening the noose on Russia.  Not a good move.

Russia Threatens Military Action Against US If Washington Strikes Syria

Trump Seeks Congressional Funding For 60,000-Man Army To Overthrow Assad

Turkey Threatens to Invade Greece

US may open path for Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons

Israel and Iran: Inching Toward Armed Conflict

Turkish Warships Threaten To Sink Italian Drillship In Cypriot Waters

US-Led Coalition Warplanes Strike Syrian Regime Forces

War Preparation: Romania Orders $1 Billion Of U.S. HIMARS Missile Launchers.  The Romanians can't be left out of the game, right? Don't ya love it when the "ordering" of machines of death reads as ordinary as "ordering a pizza"? The military-industrial-congressional-security complex wins another "order"!  Hurray!

Dancing to US Tune: NATO Creates Military Schengen and Launches Iraq Mission.  The world's 2nd leading warmongering organization after the USG.

India To Build Major Overseas Military Base Off Africa To Combat China.  Sure, why not?

Navy Deploys Destroyers To Black Sea To "Desensitize" Russia To US Presence Nothing says "desensitize" like "Destroyer".  

Israel and Iran: Inching Toward Armed ConflictPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to hurry before he's arrested for bribery or other such political crimes.  Nothing like a war to take the attention away from one's indiscretions

Syrian Fighters Enter Afrin; Turkey Retaliates With Immediate Bombardment Sending Turkish Lira, Stocks TumblingFriggin' need a scorecard to keep up with the happenings in the ME!

Tokyo Holds "First Ever" Missile Attack Drills.  Just for the exercise I'm sure.

US Coast Guard Adds Cruise Missiles To Ice-Breakers As Battle For The Arctic Begins.  'Cause you know, ice-breakers gotta break ice, right?

Turkish Tanks Cross Into Syria As Ground Offensive Against US-Backed Militia Begins.

Turkish Warplanes Begin "Massive Bombing" Of US-Backed Syrian Kurds.  War.  The game where scumbag politicians send the children of those they "represent", to their deaths.  Cause you know, they can.

Estonia To Issue 'How To Prepare For War' Leaflets To 1.3 Million Citizens.  Sure, why not?

Supersonic Air Drills: Russia's Pacific Fleet Prepares For Enemy Incursion.  Can't leave the Russia's out, right?

WW3 Preparations: Amidst Drought North Korean Officials Raid Homes And Farms To Feed Army.  The Hermit Kingdom must prepare for ... something ...

US, Turkish Troops Headed For Military Showdown In Syria

Taiwan Holds Live-Fire War-Drills Amid Fears Of China Invasion.  As if Taiwan could do anything if the PRC decided to invade.

Ukraine Tests Fires First-Ever Cruise Missile Aimed At Neutralizing "Russian Aggressors". As if Ukraine could do anything if Russia decided to invade .. hey, wait a minute, did I just say this?

This is kinda' sorta' like a 'WTF' headline ... Pentagon Prepares For Next Global Conflict Which Could Start In Outer Space.  'Cause, you know, ISIS could terrorize space and all ...

US-Led Coalition Bombs Syrian Forces Following Israeli Strike Near Damascus.  'Cause you know, why not?

Turkey Warns US Troops In Northern Syria May Be Targeted By Its Army

China Deploys 300,000 Soldiers To N.Korean Border In "Preparation For Potential War"

Israel "Preparing For War In North", Boosts Air Defenses; Warns Iran

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Vows "Hell To The Zionists" As Putin Warns Netanyahu

Iran Unveils Two Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles After Israel Attack On Syria

Pentagon Sending Heavily Armed Marine Units To East Asia To "Counter China Threat"

Admiral Warns US Must Prepare For Possible War With China

Turkish Forces Hit Kurds With Toxic Gas After Crossing Into Syria: Report

Interesting Read on What Contributed to the Fall of Soviet Communism

Capitalist technology sustained the failed economic experiment of Soviet Communism by Philip Vander Elst.  Here's the conclusion:

The final verdict of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

As always, the central truth of the matter was stated most lucidly and clearly by Russia’s greatest 20th century writer and dissident, the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in a speech in 1975 to American trade unionists:

“The Soviet economy has an extremely low level of efficiency…It cannot deal with every problem at once: war, space (which is part of the war effort), heavy industry, light industry, and at the same time the necessity to feed its own population. The forces of the entire Soviet economy are concentrated on war…everything which is lacking…they get from you. So indirectly you are helping them to rearm. You are helping the Soviet police state.”

Let those embracing Marxism in our colleges and universities ponder these things and ask themselves whether the cause they are now embracing is truly worthy of their energy and idealism.

Occupational Licensing Is a Scourge Upon Entrepreneurs

Reason Readers and Ajit Pai Helped Memphis Barber Pay His Absurd Licensing Fine. Occupational licensing is nothing but protectionism.  Period.  It's the worst kind of protectionism: government defined and enforced, all at the behest of entrenched interests.  It's nothing but a governmental imposed barrier to entry, and, it disproportionately impacts minorities. This is a damn disgrace and the people of Memphis should be ashamed at what the government does in their name, purportedly for the safety of the public.  

The Unrestrained Power of (Local) Government

How this even passed the smell test is amazing.  This reads like a piece from the Onion, seriously!  Lastly, tell me this mayor isn't planning something bigger.  How can government do this? Simply this: first, because they can and secondly, they can because they have the power. Raw unrestrained, unchecked power. Here's Maryland City Raises Property Tax on Businesses by 800 Percent, in Bid to Attract More Businesses:
Here's a good rule of thumb: If you want more of something, don't tax the dickens out of it. This principle appears to have eluded the town of Seat Pleasant, Maryland, which jacked up five businesses' property taxes by 800 percent as part of a scheme to attract more businesses to the community.

Now two of the targeted companies are suing, claiming the small suburb—located just outside D.C—violated everything from their own charter to the U.S. Constitution when it imposed the tax.

"It is backward economic thinking. It's borderline racketeering," says Steven Franco, who owns and operates the Discount Mart and is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

Franco saw his property taxes shoot up from less than $6,000 to over $55,000 in less than a year. This, he says, has had an "extremely adverse impact" on his business. "People's schedules have been cut. Profits have been almost depleted....One guy had to get laid off."

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include married couple Si Quang Chen and Chang Lin Chen, who own a Chinese restaurant next to Franco's store. Their property tax bill went from $3,482 to $31,180.

In May 2017, the Seat Pleasant council passed a yearly budget that included a special assessment to fund a "Special Revitalization District for Businesses." The tax was supposed to bring in about $252,864 a year, which would be used to spur economic development and develop a "stronger financial portfolio" for the city.

According to Seat Pleasant's charter, a special assessment like the one levied on Franco and the Chens must be spent on specific improvements to the targeted taxpayers' properties—for example, by adding a sidewalk or sewer main. The city must also hold a public hearing on the assessment and give affected property owners a chance to appeal.

But the budget document makes it clear that the assessment is intended to benefit the entire town. Meanwhile, the lawsuit alleges that Franco and the Chens received neither a public hearing nor a chance to appeal. The suit also claims that the tax violates the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on taking property without due process of law.

Mayor Eugene Grant, named as a defendant in the lawsuit, tells the local NBC affiliate that "all of these dollars are necessary for us to provide efficient and effective services for the residents of Seat Pleasant."

Grant is a controversial politician, who held court for several months in a tent outside the Seat Pleasant City Hall after the city council voted to bar him from the building because of alleged hostile behavior toward city staff. In 2016, he engineered a takeover of the city council with a slate of candidates favorable to himself, in an election that sparked accusations of voter fraud.

Grant has expressed a desire to redevelop the area occupied by the businesses that were hit by the assessment. Franco thinks the tax is intended to force him to sell his property to the city, which already owns sizable nearby lots. Grant had previously floated the idea of using eminent domain to seize Franco's property, according both to the lawsuit and to texts supposedly sent between Grant and Franco. (The texts have been posted to the website

Franco, whose store sells everything from milk to computers to school uniforms, says that Seat Pleasant is already a difficult place to do business, setting aside the special assessment.

Most Maryland personal property taxes—a tax paid on furniture, tools, and other movable property used in a business—are levied at less than 2 percent, with many towns and counties charging less than 1 percent or having no personal property tax period. Seat Pleasant's personal property tax, by contrast, is 15 percent, over six times the Maryland jurisdiction with the next-highest rate.

Franco says that such high tax rates, plus the treatment he and other business owners have experienced, will only discourage the economic development that local officials say they want to create.

"Anyone who is considering coming in to do business is going to have serious second thought," Franco says. "Seat Pleasant could be a great place, but their policies are backward economic thinking."

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for April 2.

Today's WTF Headline

Top US General Says American Troops Should Be Ready To Die For Israel.  Let that sink in a bit.

So It Is

Unmitigated Failure: Operation Iraqi Freedom, 15 Years Later by Major Danny Sjursen.  Please, read this!

Good, And May He Soon Run Out of Road

Former CIA Chief Brennan Running Scared.  Another "national security" scumbag. This should send chills down the spines of Americans. To threaten the POTUS and get away with it borders on the sublime.  The subtle and not-so-subtle insinuations of having to "play ball or else" just blows my mind. Here's the piece: [emphasis mine]
What prompted former CIA Director John Brennan on Saturday to accuse President Donald Trump of “moral turpitude” and to predict, with an alliterative flourish, that Trump will end up “as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history”? The answer shines through the next sentence in Brennan’s threatening tweet: “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe [former FBI Deputy Director fired Friday night] but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

It is easy to see why Brennan lost it. The Attorney General fired McCabe, denying him full retirement benefits, because McCabe “had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor – including under oath – on multiple occasions.” There but for the grace of God go I, Brennan must have thought, whose stock in trade has been unauthorized disclosures.

In fact, Brennan can take but small, short-lived consolation in the fact that he succeeded in leaving with a full government pension. His own unauthorized disclosures and leaks probably dwarf in number, importance, and sensitivity those of McCabe. And many of those leaks appear to have been based on sensitive intercepted conversations from which the names of American citizens were unmasked for political purposes. Not to mention the leaks of faux intelligence like that contained in the dubious “dossier” cobbled together for the Democrats by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

It is an open secret that the CIA has been leaking like the proverbial sieve over the last two years or so to its favorite stenographers at the New York Times and Washington Post. (At one point, the obvious whispering reached the point that the Wall Street Journal saw fit to complain that it was being neglected.) The leaking can be traced way back – at least as far as the Clinton campaign’s decision to blame the Russians for the publication of very damning DNC emails by WikiLeaks just three days before the Democratic National Convention.

This blame game turned out to be a hugely successful effort to divert attention from the content of the emails, which showed in bas relief the dirty tricks the DNC played on Bernie Sanders. The media readily fell in line, and all attention was deflected from the substance of the DNC emails to the question as to why the Russians supposedly “hacked into the DNC and gave the emails to WikiLeaks.”

This media operation worked like a charm, but even Secretary Clinton’s PR person, Jennifer Palmieri, conceded later that at first it strained credulity that the Russians would be doing what they were being accused of doing.

Magnificent Diversion

On April 6, 2017 I attended a panel discussion on “Russia’s interference in our democracy” at the Clinton/Podesta Center for American Progress Fund. In my subsequent write-up I noted that panelist Palmieri had inadvertently dropped tidbits of evidence that I suggested “could get some former officials in deep kimchi – if a serious investigation of leaking, for example, were to be conducted.” (That time seems to be coming soon.)

Palmieri was asked to comment on “what was actually going on in late summer/early fall [2016].” She answered:

“It was a surreal experience … so I did appreciate that for the press to absorb … the idea that behind the stage that the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton was too fantastic for people to, um, for the press to process, to absorb….

“But then we go back to Brooklyn [Clinton headquarters] and heard from the – mostly our sources were other intelligence, with the press who work in the intelligence sphere, and that’s where we heard things and that’s where we learned about the dossier and the other story lines that were swirling about; and how to process … And along the way the administration started confirming various pieces of what they were concerned about what Russia was doing. … So I do think that the answer for the Democrats now … in both the House and the Senate is to talk about it more and make it more real.”

So the leaking had an early start, and went on steroids during the months following the Democratic Convention up to the election – and beyond.

As a Reminder

None of the leaking, unmasking, surveillance, or other activities directed against the Trump campaign can be properly understood, if one does not bear in mind that it was considered a sure thing that Secretary Clinton would become President, at which point illegal and extralegal activities undertaken to help her win would garner praise, not prison.

But she lost. And a month ago, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) threw down the gauntlet, indicating that there could be legal consequences, for example, for officials who misled the FISA court in order to enable surveillance on Trump and associates. His words are likely to have sent chills down the spine of yet other miscreants. “If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial,” he said. “The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”

John Brennan is widely reported to be Nunes’s next target. Does one collect a full pension in jail?

Unmasking: Senior national security officials are permitted to ask the National Security Agency to unmask the names of Americans in intercepted communications for national security reasons – not for domestic political purposes. Congressional committees have questioned why Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power (as well as his national security adviser Susan Rice) made so many unmasking requests. Power is reported to have requested the unmasking of more than 260 Americans, most of them in the final days of the administration, including the names of Trump associates.

Deep State Intimidation

Back to John Brennan’s bizarre tweet Saturday telling the President, “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe but you will not destroy America … America will triumph over you.” Unmasking the word “America,” so to speak, one can readily discern the name “Brennan” underneath. Brennan’s words and attitude are a not-so-subtle reminder of the heavy influence and confidence of the deep state, including the media – exercised to a fare-thee-well over the past two years.

Later on Saturday, Samantha Power, with similar equities at stake, put an exclamation point behind what Brennan had tweeted earlier in the day. Power also saw fit to remind Trump where the power lies, so to speak. She warned him publicly that it is “not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is dutifully playing its part in the deep-state game of intimidation. The following excerpt from Sunday’s lead article conveys the intended message: “Some Trump allies say they worry he is playing with fire by taunting the FBI. ‘This is open, all-out war. And guess what? The FBI’s going to win,’ said one ally, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. ‘You can’t fight the FBI. They’re going to torch him.’” [sic]

The Post, incidentally, waited until paragraph 41 of 44 to inform readers that it was the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility and the Inspector General of the Department of Justice that found McCabe guilty, and that the charge was against McCabe, not the FBI. A quite different impression was conveyed by the large headline “Trump escalates attacks on FBI” as well as the first 40 paragraphs of Sunday’s lead article.

Putting Down a Marker

It isn’t as though Donald Trump wasn’t warned, as are all incoming presidents, of the power of the Deep State that he needs to play ball with — or else. Recall that just three days before President-elect Trump was visited by National Intelligence Director James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Michael Rogers, Trump was put on notice by none other than the Minority Leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer. Schumer has been around and knows the ropes; he is a veteran of 18 years in the House, and is in his 20th year in the Senate.

On Jan. 3, 2017 Schumer said it all, when he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, that President-elect Trump is “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities:

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told Maddow. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.” Did Maddow ask Schumer if he was saying President of the United States should be afraid of the intelligence community? No, she let Schumer’s theorem stand.

With gauntlets now thrown down by both sides, we may not have to wait very long to see if Schumer is correct in his blithe prediction as to how the present constitutional crisis will be resolved.

Simply, True

The Two Types of Socio-economic Problems by Robert Higgs, so short, simple and to a very compelling point.  Makes me recall a quote, possibly form Henry Hazlitt, that goes something like this: "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is large enough to take away everything you have.":
Socio-economic problems take two forms: one form is fake; the other is real.

The fake problems are bandied about by special interests, chief among which is the government itself, in a quest to acquire greater power and wealth at your expense. Obviously, in a just and sensible world, the government should never undertake to solve fake problems. Its doing so is at best wasteful, at worst destructive.

The real problems themselves take two forms: one form is attended by calls for the government to “do something” to solve the problem; the other form is not attended by such calls. This latter form is, in our time, quite rare, the prevailing assumption being that the government should involve itself in solving any and all real problems, even minor, mostly contrived, and trivial ones.

If the problem is real and the government undertakes to solve it, the result in nearly every case will be that special interests, especially the government itself, will be further empowered and enriched and, on top of this insult to justice and prosperity, the real problem will be made worse rather than solved, setting in motion further calls for government intervention and creating an endless chain of action and reaction leading toward a leviathan state.

So, regardless of the nature of the perceived problem, the default preference of those who cherish their freedom and seek to retain the wealth they have legitimately acquired is that the government do nothing. Cases in which this default option is not optimal are probably too few to merit much consideration.

No It Wasn't, Was It?

Not Always Like This by Walter Williams:
One of the unavoidable tragedies of youth is the temptation to think that what is seen today has always been. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in our responses to the recent Parkland, Florida, massacre. Part of the responses to those murders are calls to raise the age to purchase a gun and to have more thorough background checks — in a word, to make gun purchases more difficult. That's a vision that sees easy gun availability as the problem; thus, the solution is to reduce that availability.

The vision that sees "easy" availability as the problem ignores the fact of U.S. history that guns were far more available yesteryear ( With truly easy gun availability, there was nowhere near the gun mayhem and murder that we see today. I'm tempted to ask those who believe that guns are today's problem whether they think that guns were nicer yesteryear. What about the calls for bans on the AR-15 so-called assault rifle? It turns out that according to 2016 FBI statistics, rifles accounted for 368 of the 17,250 homicides in the U.S. that year. That means restrictions on the purchase of rifles would do little or nothing for the homicide rate. Leaders of the gun control movement know this. Their calls for more restrictive gun laws are part of a larger strategy to outlaw gun ownership.

Gun ownership is not our problem. Our problem is a widespread decline in moral values that has nothing to do with guns. That decline includes disrespect for those in authority, disrespect for oneself, little accountability for anti-social behavior and a scuttling of religious teachings that reinforced moral values. Let's examine elements of this decline.

If any of our great-grandparents or even grandparents who passed away before 1960 were to return, they would not believe the kind of personal behavior all too common today. They wouldn't believe that youngsters could get away with cursing and assaulting teachers ( They wouldn't believe that some school districts, such as Philadelphia's, employ more than 400 school police officers. During my primary and secondary schooling, from 1942 to 1954, the only time one saw a policeman in school was during an assembly period where we had to listen to a boring lecture on safety. Our ancestors also wouldn't believe that we're now debating whether teachers should be armed.

There are other forms of behavior that would have been deemed grossly immoral yesteryear. There are companies such as National Debt Relief, CuraDebt and LendingTree, which advertise that they will help you to avoid paying all the money you owe. So after you and a seller agree to terms of a sale, if you fail to live up to your half of the bargain, there are companies that will assist you in ripping off the seller.

There are companies that counsel senior citizens on how to shelter their assets from nursing home care costs. For example, a surviving spouse may own a completely paid-for home that's worth $500,000. The costs of nursing home care might run $50,000 a year. By selling her house, she could pay the nursing home costs, but her children wouldn't inherit the house. There are firms that come in to shelter her assets so that she can bequeath her home to her heirs and leave taxpayers to foot the nursing home bill. In my book, that's immoral, but it is so common that most of us give it no thought. There is one moral failing that is devastating to the future of our nation. That failing, which has wide acceptance by the American people, is the idea that Congress has the authority to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American. That is nothing less than legalized theft and accounts for roughly three-quarters of federal spending. For the Christians among us, we should consider that when God gave Moses the commandment "Thou shalt not steal," he probably didn't mean thou shalt not steal unless you get a majority vote in the U.S. Congress.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Only 74%? Ah The Beauty That Is Ignorance

74% Of Americans Believe The "Deep State" Is Running The Country

Yeah, Guns Are the Problem, Yep

Parkland Authorities Had Recommended Committing Florida Shooter To Psychiatric Facility.  Here's the conclusion, but please, read the entire piece: [emphasis in original]

FBI investigators could have then called the Broward County Sheriff's department and found out about the 23 times deputies responded to Cruz's home over a seven year period for emergencies including a "mentally ill person, " "child/elderly abuse", "domestic disturbance," and "missing person." 
The last call received by Broward County Sheriff's office on November 30, was a warning a caller who warned that  Cruz is collecting guns and knives. Concerned he will kill himself one day and believes he could be a school shooter in the making."
To top things off, a young woman close to Cruz warned the FBI she was concerned he would "get into a school and just shoot the place up," according to a leaked transcript of her call to the bureau's tip line one month before the massacre.
You know, its just so much, said the caller. I know he's going to explode. The woman said she was making the call because she wanted a clear conscience if he takes off and, and just starts shooting places up, according to the transcripts which were reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. 
Two different people specifically told authorities from two different agencies that Cruz might shoot up a school, and the school resource officer who fled the shooting failed to have him committed to a psychiatric unit. 
Furthermore, had Cruz been properly arrested and prosecuted for holding a gun to his brother and mother's head, threatening them - he would have likely been charged with a felony, and also been unable to legally obtain weapons.
And sadly, student "puppets" from Parkland have been trotted out on national television to discuss gun control, not mental health, after what was perhaps the world's most preventable school shooting. 

Absolutely Nails It!

Edward Snowden: Facebook Is A Surveillance Company Rebranded As "Social Media".  There are several superb Twitter snapshots from both Snowden and Kim Dotcom included in the post. I exited Facebook many years ago and I'm glad I did. My primary reason was due to the political echo chamber it had become and the verbal violence of people who barely were capable of a "hello" in person. Next, I thought about the platform quite a bit and realized that so much personal information is available to whomever, especially governments, and especially our own, information that under most circumstances would require a search warrant to obtain, and yet I was giving it away for free. Granted, I use Google platforms, including this one of course, so much, if not all of what I do is still available, yet I convince myself it may take a bit more effort to connect the dots. My next mission is to revisit Tor and stop using Gmail.

Finally, Some Truth To Power

Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia: Top Three Stunning Admissions From the Top U.S. General in the Middle East:
Assad has won, Iran deal should stand and Saudis use American weapons without accountability in Yemen: head of U.S. military’s Central Command's stunning Congressional testimony.

All-righty then ... time to pack up and come home and stop selling arms to the Saudis.  Don't ever recall hearing of U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, but I like him (granted, the sample set is small, but I'm will to grasp at any straw at the moment)

Quote of the Day

“One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.”  - Thomas Sowell

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Health 101

A health repository for superb articles on health, exercise and medicine.  [Be sure to check out Nutrition 101 and Mindfulness and Supplements 101]

Check back often - your health depends on it!  Look for the items marked "New"


Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's Strengthens

Walking While Counting Backward Could Diagnose Dementia

 You May Not Get Alzheimer’s Disease, But You May Still Die Prematurely Because Of It

Scientists Discovered What Causes Dementia

Brain inflammation sows the seeds of Alzheimer’s

Gut bacteria may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease

ReCODE: The Reversal of Cognitive Decline

  Do We Have A Cure For Alzheimer’s Disease?

 The Strange Connection Between Vision Loss and Alzheimer’s

  Alzheimer's Disease: New Genetic Culprit Found

People with a history of cancer are less likely to get Alzheimer's, while people with Alzheimer's are less likely to get cancer.  Source

Alzheimer’s Deaths Exceed Half a Million a Year in the US

  Aluminum DOES cause Alzheimer's

Lost memories might be able to be restored, new UCLA study indicates

 What If You Could Prevent Alzheimer’s? [yes, it's about sugar & HFCS]  

 Prevent Alzheimer's Disease By Drinking Beer? [Drink up!] 

Alzheimer's breakthrough 

How Sugar Harms Your Brain Health and Drives Alzheimer’s Epidemic (aka "Sugar Kills and You Won't Even Know It - Literally")

Study: Popular Over-The-Counter Drugs May Increase Dementia Risk  The potential culprit are anticholinergics.  More needs to be done on this of course, since remember: correlation does not mean causation.

Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Dementia Confirmed  

Fasting diets like the 5:2 'can help prevent diabetes by reducing cholesterol after 10 to 12 hours'

Is Alzheimer’s Caused by an Infection?

High-Carb Diet May Increase Your Risk of Dementia

Vitamin D: Low levels ‘can double dementia risk’  


New: Is Cancer Caused By Unbalanced Chromosomes Rather Than Gene Mutations?

Suicide molecules kill any cancer cell

Vitamin C Stops Cancer

Chemo may spread tumors

 Johns Hopkins researchers say they've unlocked key to cancer metastasis and how to slow it

Eating These Foods May Help Stop Prostate Cancer In Its Tracks

 Why cancer patients must look for their own clinical trials 

Immunotherapy drug opens a new era of precision medicine for cancer

Cancerous Critters: 4 Easy Ways to Control Your Microbiome

Cancer is Dead: The Quest to Make Cancer Obsolete 

  T-Cell Therapy

The Metabolic Theory of Cancer and the Key to Cancer Prevention and Recovery

Tackling Cancer With a New Paradigm

Must Read: Ketogenic diet beats chemo for almost all cancers Note: Doctor Thomas Seyfried is no quack!


 Monsanto Mayhem

 Don't Feed Your Child Cheerios

Gut Health

 Go With Your Gut

  Fiber Is Good for You. Now Scientists May Know Why

Black Tea is Great for Your Gut

Are Omega-3s The Secret To Better Gut Health?

Gut bacteria may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease

 Gut Bacteria a Key to Health

Chronic Fatigue and Parkinson's Now Linked to Gut Bacteria

Feed Your Gut Microbes Well, Lest They Feed on You

Medicine / Drugs

  Common Pain Relievers Are Causing Heart Attacks
[note: my father died at 50, due to an MI]

Fallacies in Modern Medicine: Statins and the Cholesterol-Heart Hypothesis

Fluoride / Teeth

 Fluoride - A Little Bit at the Wrong Time Is Devastating

 EPA Urged to Ban Water Fluoridation

 Fluoride: Poison on Tap

Fluoridated Water Destroys Your Brain and Teeth

Does Sickness Smell?

What Is the Best Position for Sleep?

Health Effects Associated With Chronic Constipation and Foods That Help Relieve It

Why the Blood-Brain Barrier Is So Critical (and How to Maintain It)

The Health Benefits of Nattokwinase

The Fat-Burning Hormone

How Improper Sterilization of Endoscopes Could Put Your Health at Risk

The Primal Laws: 8 Honorable Mentions  &  The Primal Laws: 7 More Honorable Mentions

Practical Tips For a Healthier Life

So Do You Even Need Antioxidants?

The Super Antioxidant Revealed  & The Best Kind of Water to Drink

This Turns Back the Clocks in Your Cells

Zen and the Art of Calisthenics 

The Brutally Honest 6 Reasons You Are Still Overfat

The 82% Fat Diet!! It's Not the Fat That's Killing Us, It's the Carbs!

Foods and Other Lifestyle Factors That Will Shorten Your Lifespan

7 Factors to Consider if You’re Told Your Cholesterol Is Too High

Chronic Psychitis by Scott Alexander, whose blog I recommend as a daily read to everyone!

Scientists Only Just Figured Out Where Fat Goes When You Lose Weight

Pineapple Compound Bromelain Trumps Colonoscopy for Colon Health

Vitamin C Antidote To All Known Toxins Thomas Levy, MD

Metabolism Boosting Tips to Optimize Your Weight 

This Mineral Found to Reduce ‘All Cause Mortality’ Dramatically

Looks Like The Medical Establishment Was Wrong About Fat

Basic Tips For Being Healthy

Brushing and flossing are good for your brain?  [Answer hint: YES!!!!]

5 Surprising Factors That Make You Pack on Pounds

Walking More May Be Key for a Longer, Healthier Life

To Protect Your Heart, Your Sodium to Potassium Ratio Is More Important Than Your Overall Salt Intake

7 Tips to Ignite and Maintain Your Digestive Fire [note: I'm not so keen on #7, i.e., while I support the need for fiber, I'm not convinced of "whole grains" being the best source]

Why Do People Gain Weight? (aka "Never Eat in These 11 Situations" - also explains the "freshman 15" though not explicitly)

9 Signs You Need to Eat More Fat

Maybe We Don't All Need Annual Physicals

Are These the Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat?

Top Ten Ways the American Health Care System Fails

The Importance of Vitamin D for Normalizing Your Cholesterol Levels

How To Workout At Home Without Equipment Or Weights  I liked this, but the language is unnecessary IMHO.  I guess I'm just getting old.

Hero’s Workout Styles You Can’t Miss My favorite set of exercises.  These come courtesy of Neila Rey's Free Visual Workouts

80% of Strokes Are Preventable

The Best Exercise There Is, Hands Down  easy, here it is:
The single best exercise there is, hands down, is the one you’ll do.

69 Kettlebell Exercises That Quickly Help You Get in Shape

7 Simple Ways To Be Healthy And Avoid Getting Sick [watch the video on sugar!]

7 Benefits of the Bulgarian Split Squat

Can exercising for just 60 seconds a week transform your health? 

How To Lose Fat Fast

Free Visual Workouts

Set Goals by Time Instead of Distance or Quantity  [IMHO this is the critical success factor to getting back into an exercise routine.  Don't set distance or quantity goals, i.e., '2 miles' or '20 reps'. It works]

15 Reasons to Sprint More This Year

Placebo Effect Dictates Therapeutic Effect of Headache Medication

Flame Thrower: Top 10 Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation