Two for Tuesday

Paris

Sa-Roc

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The War on Reality

By CJ Hopkins

Source: Consent Factory, Inc.

So, the War on Reality is going splendidly. Societies all across the world have been split into opposing, irreconcilable realities. Neighbors, friends, and even family members are bitterly divided into two hostile camps, each regarding the other as paranoid psychotics, delusional fanatics, dangerous idiots, and, in any event, as mortal enemies.

In the UK, Germany, and many other countries, and in numerous states throughout the US, a “state of emergency” remains in effect. An apocalyptic virus is on the loose. Mutant variants are spreading like wildfire. Most of society is still shut down or subject to emergency health restrictions. People are still walking around in public with plastic face shields and medical-looking masks. The police are showing up at people’s homes to arrest them for “illegally gathering outdoors.” Any deviation from official reality is being censored by the Internet corporations. Constitutional rights are still suspended. Entire populations are being coerced into being injected with experimental “vaccines.” Pseudo-medical segregation systems are being brought online. And so on … you’re familiar with the details.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, and a few other countries, and in various other states throughout the US, there is no apocalyptic pandemic. People are just going about their lives as normal. OK, sure, there is a nasty virus going around, so people are taking common sense precautions, as people typically do for any nasty virus, but there is no “state of emergency” in effect, and no reason to radically transform society into a paranoid, pathologized-totalitarian dystopia.

This state of affairs, in which two contradictory, mutually-exclusive realities exist, is … well, it’s impossible, and so it cannot continue. Either there exists a devastating global pandemic that justifies a global “state of emergency,” the suspension of constitutional rights, and the other totalitarian “emergency measures” we have been subjected to since March of 2020 or there doesn’t. It really is as simple as that.

Except that it isn’t as simple as that. It is easy to forget, given the last 16 months, that people have been bitterly divided, and inhabiting mutually-exclusive realities, and regarding people who don’t conform to their realities as enemies for the last five years. I’m not talking about political disagreements, or even socio-cultural differences. I’m talking about contradictory realities. Things that actually happened, or didn’t happen. Things that exist, or do not exist.

I’m not going rehash the whole War on Populism — I covered it extensively at the time — but that’s when the current global-capitalist War on Reality was officially launched. It wasn’t just the usual lies and propaganda. It was a full-scale ideological assault. By the end of it, people actually believed that (a) Donald Trump was a Russian agent, (b) that he was literally Hitler, and so was going to stage some sort of “coup,” declare himself American Führer, and launch the “Trumpian-White-Supremacist Fourth Reich,” and (c) that he had actually attempted this by sending a few hundred unarmed protesters — violent domestic extremist grandmothersfather-and-son kill squads, and bison hat loonies — to “storm the Capitol” and overthrow the government during the so-called “January 6 Insurrection.”

So, when GloboCap rolled out the “New Normal” reality, they weren’t exactly starting from scratch. Millions of people — not just Americans, because the War on Populism was a global campaign — were already living in a new reality in which facts no longer mattered at all, where things that never happened officially happened, and other things that obviously happened never happened, not officially, or were “far-right extremist conspiracy theories,” “fake news,” or “disinformation,” or whatever, despite the fact that people knew that they weren’t.

But the goal of GloboCap’s War on Reality isn’t simply to deceive the masses and divide them into opposing camps. Rulers have been deceiving the masses and dividing them into opposing camps since the dawn of human civilization. This time, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

OK, bear with me now, because this gets kind of heady.

The War on Reality is not an attempt to replace reality with a fake reality. Or it is that, but that is only one part of it. Its real goal is to render reality arbitrary, to strip it of its epistemological authority, to turn it into a “floating signifier,” a word that has no objective referent, which, of course, technically, it already is. You cannot take a picture of reality. It is a concept. It is not a physical object that exists somewhere in time and space.

But let’s leave that last point for a later discussion. This is not the time to get lost in semiotics. For most people, for most practical purposes, reality is … well, reality. It’s objective. Material. It actually exists. It exists independent of our beliefs. It isn’t just an arbitrary, empty signifier that doesn’t actually refer to anything, but which we use, strategically, to assert authority, or to impose ideology on society. If that were the case, there would be no reality. Nothing would be true, everything would be permitted … which is a bunch of postmodern Marxist nonsense.

But just imagine, for a moment, if that were the case … if what determined reality was actually just a question of power rather than facts. Imagine that reality was just a concept that we used to mark the current limits of our knowledge and ideological beliefs. Our doctors — oncologists and virologists, for example, but they could be any kind of doctors or scientists — would be not all that different from medieval alchemists, who totally believed in their reality at the time, as did the patients they were treating, but which we know now was not reality at all, because our reality is the real reality. I mean, it’s not as if people, five hundred years from now, are going to look back at our medical practices and scientific knowledge, and laugh, like we do at those medieval alchemists, right?

Sorry, I got a little off track there. I was trying to explain the ultimate purpose of this global-capitalist War on Reality, and I wandered off into an ontological swamp, which isn’t going to get us anywhere. So, let’s get back to imagining reality, not as what we all know it is (i.e., an actual, material thing that exists), but as a construct people use to validate certain officially-sanctioned beliefs and perceptions and invalidate other beliefs and perceptions, more or less like a system of morals, except instead of dividing things into to “good” and “evil,” it divides things into “real” and “fake.”

Now imagine that you were an immensely powerful, globally hegemonic ideological system, and you wanted to impose your ideology on as much of the entire world as possible, but you didn’t have an ideology per se, or any actual values at all, because exchange value was your only real value, and so your mission was to erase all ideologies, and values, and truths, and belief systems, and so on, and transform everything and everyone in existence into de facto commodities that you could manipulate any way you wanted, because they had no inherent value whatsoever, because their only real value was assigned by the market.

How would you go about doing that, erasing all existing values, religious, cultural, and social values, and rendering everything a valueless commodity?

Well, you wouldn’t want to destroy reality completely, because people wouldn’t stand for that. They would freak right out. Things would get ugly. So, instead, you might want to go the other way, and generate a lot of contradictory realities, not just contradictory ideologies, but actual mutually-exclusive realities, which could not possibly simultaneously exist … which would still freak people out pretty badly.

Naturally, there would be one official reality that you would force everyone to rigidly conform to at any given moment in time, but you would change the official reality frequently, and force everyone to conform to the new one (and pretend that they’d never conformed to the old one), and then, once they had settled into that one, you would change the official reality again, until people’s brains just shut down completely, and they gave up trying to make sense of anything, and just tried to figure out what you wanted them to believe on any given day.

If you repeated that process long enough, eventually, nothing would mean anything anymore, because everything could potentially mean anything … at which point, you could basically tell people anything you wanted and they would go along with it, because what the hell difference would it make? A narcissistic billionaire ass-clown could be a Russian agent and literally Hitler. A half-assed riot could be an “insurrection.” Children could be born “systemically racist.” Men could menstruate. But wait … it’s gets better.

You could stage an apocalyptic global pandemic that only happened in certain countries, or in certain parts of certain countries, and that more or less mirrored natural mortality, and that didn’t drastically increase historical death rates, but was nonetheless totally apocalyptic.

Perfectly healthy people could become “medical cases.” You could count anyone who died of anything as having died of your apocalyptic virus. You could tell people in no uncertain terms that medical-looking masks will not protect them from viruses, and then turn around and tell them that they will, and then, later, publicly admit you were lying in order to manipulate them, and then deny you ever said that, and tell them to wear masks.

You could experimentally “vaccinate” millions of people whose risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from your apocalyptic virus was minuscule or non-existent, and kill tens or hundreds of thousands in the process, and the people whose brains you had methodically broken would thank you for murdering their friends and neighbors, and then rush out to their local discount drugstore to experimentally “vaccinate” their own kids and post pictures of it on the Internet.

At that point, you wouldn’t really have to worry about “populist uprisings,” or “terrorism,” or any other type of insurgent activity, because the vast majority of the global population would be scramble-headed automatons who were totally incapable of independent thought, and who had no idea what was real and what wasn’t, so just repeated whatever new script you fed them like customer-service representatives on Haldol.

It doesn’t get much better than that for globally hegemonic ideological systems!

OK, sorry, I think I got lost there again. I’m not sure what I was trying to say. I’ve been a little foggy lately. I’m not sleeping so well. It’s probably Long Covid. Or maybe it’s just that time of month. Whatever. It’s not like it matters anyway. Still, I think I’ll go down to my former local bookshop and get myself tested.

Have a nice day in … you know, reality!

Posted in Authoritarianism, civil liberties, consciousness, Corporate Crime, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, Empire, Health, news, Philosophy, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Big Delta Scare

By Raul Ilargi Meijer

Source: The Automatic Earth

Why the Delta scare? As a virus mutates, it becomes more contagious and less lethal. And then eventually it mostly disappears. Many voices claim that Delta will be with us for a very long time, but we should be so lucky. It’s way more likely that it will soon be followed by a next variant that will in turn become dominant. And more contagious and less lethal.

And no, that’s not because of unvaccinated people, or at least there’s no logic in that. If most people are not vaccinated, the virus has no reason to mutate. If many people are, it does. So this CNN piece is suspect. Vaccinated people are potential variant factories, just as much, if and when the vaccines used don’t stop them from being infectious, as the present vaccines don’t, far as we know.

Unvaccinated People Are “Variant Factories,” Infectious Diseases Expert

Unvaccinated people do more than merely risk their own health. They’re also a risk to everyone if they become infected with coronavirus, infectious disease specialists say. That’s because the only source of new coronavirus variants is the body of an infected person. “Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN Friday. “The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply,” Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said. “When it does, it mutates, and it could throw off a variant mutation that is even more serious down the road.”

“Even more serious”? Well, yes, it can become more contagious, but then it loses lethality. Maybe that’s what we want. Maybe we want a virus that everyone can be infected by, and build resistance to, without serious consequences. Maybe that’s even what we should aim for. And also, maybe that’s what we already have, with survival rates of 99.99% among most people.

And maybe, just maybe, a one-dimensional “solution” in the shape of an experimental vaccine is the worst response of all. Because it doesn’t protect from anything other than more severe disease, while unleashing potential adverse effects for decades to come in the inoculated. Maybe one dimension simply doesn’t cut it. Maybe we should not refuse to prevent people from becoming infected, or to treat them in the early stages of the disease.

Maybe the traumatic effects of lockdowns and facemasks should be part of “benefits and risks” models. And maybe we should start trying vitamin D, ivermectin and HCQ on a very large scale. No research, you say? There’s more research for those approaches than for the vaccines. But it’s largely been halted in the west to maintain the viability of the one-dimension “solution”; the medical Siamese twin of the Trusted News Initiative, one might say. Of which The Atlantic is also a valued member, look at this gem:

The 3 Simple Rules That Underscore the Danger of Delta

2. The variants are pummeling unvaccinated people.

Vaccinated people are safer than ever despite the variants. But unvaccinated people are in more danger than ever because of the variants. Even though they’ll gain some protection from the immunity of others, they also tend to cluster socially and geographically, seeding outbreaks even within highly vaccinated communities.

The U.K., where half the population is fully vaccinated, “can be a cautionary tale,” Hanage told me. Since Delta’s ascendancy, the country’s cases have increased sixfold. Long-COVID cases will likely follow. Hospitalizations have almost doubled. That’s not a sign that the vaccines are failing. It is a sign that even highly vaccinated countries host plenty of vulnerable people.

[..] And new variants are still emerging. Lambda, the latest to be recognized by the WHO, is dominant in Peru and spreading rapidly in South America. Many nations that excelled at protecting their citizens are now facing a triple threat: They controlled COVID-19 so well that they have little natural immunity; they don’t have access to vaccines; and they’re besieged by Delta.

First, the vaccines don’t confer immunity on the jabbed, there is no evidence of that. Second, a large majority of healthy people have an immune system strong enough to fight off the infection, even without ever being infected. So to suggest that unvaccinated people might “gain some protection from the immunity of” the vaccinated is simply nonsense.

As for “Delta’s ascendancy”, yes, cases are rising in the UK and Israel, two highly vaccinated countries. Not that anyone would acknowledge a possible connection there: it’s all despite the vaccines, not because of them. But as the graph below shows, while cases there are up a lot, hospitalization and deaths are not over the past month. They barely register.

On January 20, the UK had 1,823 deaths. Today, they had 15.

I even enlarged the hospitalizations a bit, or you wouldn’t see anything.

“Hospitalizations have almost doubled”, says The Atlantic. Yeah, but they’re still very low, as are deaths. And perhaps that’s not all that surprising, because the Delta variant doesn’t appear to be the big killer that everyone wants to close their borders and restaurants for again. There’s no conclusive evidence, it’s too early, but this is what we know today.

Rand Paul Cites 0.08% Delta Variant Death Rate Among Unvaccinated

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul is telling Twitter followers to not let the ‘fearmongers’ win, amid growing concerns about the newest delta variant of the coronavirus. Paul, who is a doctor with a degree in medicine from Duke University, cited a study of the strain that shows only a 0.08% death rate among unvaccinated people. “Don’t let the fearmongers win. New public England study of delta variant shows 44 deaths out of 53,822 (.08%) in unvaccinated group. Hmmm,” he tweeted Tuesday to his 3.2 million followers. The variant, which has caused virus outbreaks in Australia and other countries, has resulted in officials reimposing recently lifted health-safety orders including mask-wearing.

In another graph, the Delta variant Case Fatality Rate in the UK even appears 8 times higher among the fully vaccinated than the unvaccinated. Maybe the press should pay a little more attention to that, instead of the Great Big Delta Scare. All they do today is sell fear and vaccines, but that will backfire, promise.

And what goes for the press is also valid for politicians and their “experts”: there will come a day that people realize you could have focused on prophylactics and early treatment, but chose not to. And that this cost a lot of lives and other misery. What are you going to do then? Apologize?

Let’s not miss this from the past week: strong immune systems kill the virus before antibodies are formed. Which means an antibody test won’t show anything, but a PCR test will come back positive because there are dead virus bits. And everyone will cry: vaccinate! vaccinate!

Maybe it’s finally time for some real science, instead of clickbait and fear and gene therapy.

Pre-existing polymerase-specific T cells expand in abortive seronegative SARS-CoV-2 infection

Individuals with likely exposure to the highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 do not necessarily develop PCR or antibody positivity, suggesting some may clear sub-clinical infection before seroconversion. T cells can contribute to the rapid clearance of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections1–5 . We hypothesised that pre-existing memory T cell responses, with cross-protective potential against SARS-CoV-26–12, would expand in vivo to mediate rapid viral control, potentially aborting infection.

We studied T cells against the replication transcription complex (RTC) of SARS-CoV-2 since this is transcribed first in the viral life cycle13–15 and should be highly conserved. We measured SARS-CoV-2-reactive T cells in a cohort of intensively monitored healthcare workers (HCW) who remained repeatedly negative by PCR, antibody binding, and neutralisation for SARS-CoV-2 (exposed seronegative, ES).

16-weeks postrecruitment, ES had memory T cells that were stronger and more multispecific than an unexposed pre-pandemic cohort, and more frequently directed against the RTC than the structural protein-dominated responses seen post-detectable infection (matched concurrent cohort). The postulate that HCW with the strongest RTC-specific T cells had an abortive infection was supported by a low-level increase in IFI27 transcript, a robust early innate signature of SARS-CoV-2 infection16.

We showed that the RNA-polymerase within RTC was the largest region of high sequence conservation across human seasonal coronaviruses (HCoV) and was preferentially targeted by T cells from UK and Singapore pre-pandemic cohorts and from ES. RTC epitope-specific T cells capable of cross-recognising HCoV variants were identified in ES. Longitudinal samples from ES and an additional validation cohort, showed pre-existing RNA-polymerase-specific T cells expanded in vivo following SARS-CoV-2 exposure, becoming enriched in the memory response of those with abortive compared to overt infection. In summary, we provide evidence of abortive seronegative SARS-CoV-2 infection with expansion of cross-reactive RTC-specific T cells, highlighting these highly conserved proteins as targets for future vaccines against endemic and emerging Coronaviridae.

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Overcoming the Hypnosis of Fear

By Julian Rose

Source: Waking Times

You are a Universal Being. Your body is just a vehicle for the manifestation of this Universal Being here on Earth. As a Universal Being your ‘essence’ lives forever. Start identifying your Self as a Universal Being, merged with the source of all existence. The more you live in this Self – the Real You – during this lifetime – the more seamless is the passage onwards at the time of passing.

Say:

“I am a spiritual entity and nothing can harm me, because ‘I’ am not this physical body which carries me through this third density existence experienced here on Earth. ‘I’ am soul, ether, spirit, plasma – and I chose to come back to planet Earth and to be reborn into a human body in order to perform valuable tasks and help realign Earthly existence with Cosmic existence – and thereby create harmony and balance.”

Repeat this – and feel the fear fall away. Feel it dissolve like the sun-burned morning mist.

Fear is a state of mind. A cramped mind. Every part of it is alien to us save that useful bit that warns us not to do some crazy act – like jump over the edge of a cliff under the illusion that one will sprout wings and fly away into the blue horizon!

Yes, the ‘real you’ can fly. The ether/spirit you. But the physical you is a gravity respecting entity here on dear mother Earth. Respect this type of fear, for it is a God given preservation instinct.

So, you are not convinced? You hold onto your fear because it seems ‘real’, doesn’t it? You quite like it, a sort of drug. After all every TV, newspaper, radio and neighbour is telling you ‘to be afraid.’ It’s easier to give in than not to. There are so many things you need to fear, they say, so many that there is almost no room left for anything else to get you going in a positive direction.

We live in a culture of fear, imposed by those we elect and allow to manage our lives. Think about it – so determined are most of us to avoid taking true responsibility for our lives and the lives of other living beings that we allow our minds to say to us “OK, that’s fine, leave it to the politicians, bankers and corporate board members to run our affairs for us.” Then we turn around and curse them for introducing a despotic top-down police-state agenda that makes a misery out of our lives!

How foolish can one get?

All the while ‘the elected ones’ (by us) learn better and better how to manipulate those who elected them, so that they can hold onto the power. They are addicted to power – and use it to make us addicted to fear. So we shrink, while they expand.

How very foolish so much of mankind is. Both parties, the purveyors of fear and the fearful, bogged-down in a rail siding leading to nowhere. Both sides bogged-down in a rail siding completely terminating our natural evolutionary instinct and putting in its place a state of perpetual self-imprisonment.

“Fear not!” say I, for anyone reading this is not heading for the end of the line or the gallows; is not busy constructing a hangman’s noose to stick his/her neck in. Nobody reading this can suffer the delusion that to profit from worldly riches is superior to profiting from the flow of Divine uplift. An ecstatic state which comes from rejecting fear and ceasing to hide in the shadows of a frightened ‘little me’.

This ‘little me’ is a hypnotised being who has convinced himself/herself that one can never step forward and take responsibility for one’s destiny, or make a valuable contribution on the stage of life.

Out you go ’little me’ – and stay out. No place for you in the unfolding age of Truth. For as has been said, You are not a cipher, You are a Divine eminence – and is that a quality to hide away under a cloak of self impoverishment? Well, is it?

After what seems like an interminable pause, an answer emerges: ‘NO’

And immediately, as if shot from a cannon, the Real You bursts upon the scene – soul-burden immeasurably lightened! Yes, I can see this Real You, right now, and I can tell you – you are an outstanding being with enough potential to single-handedly transform both yourself and your community into manifestations of an age of instant enlightenment!

Yes, my friend, I’m not talking about someone else, it’s you who is transformed. ‘Little me’, who was that? Never mind, gone forever.

Now you stand single, strong, proud, all traces of fear banished forever. Maybe for the first time, you are free, out of jail, ready to be intoxicated by the sweet scent of the wild rose, the symphonic triumph of the dawn chorus, the illustrious beauty of awakened nature calls you forth – rejoice in her and act in her defence!

Proudly step forward to defend her precious wealth of vital diversity, so cruelly sterilised by vampires wearing carefully pressed city suits and a fixed smile on their faces. They and their clan scared you once, didn’t they? But no more, you now see the fake smile for exactly what it is.

You are metamorphosed and stand shining, a ray of the living sun. Use your new gifts well, my friend, millions need the support of your awakened powers to themselves be awakened and freed from the hypnosis of fear. These are the builders of the New Society which is our imperative to create – and no one else’s.

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Saturday Matinee: Kingpin

Why I love Kingpin – A crude comedy about horrible people

The Farrelly brothers’ reached their vulgar, freewheeling peak with this 1996 bowling comedy.

By James Oddy

Source: Single White Lies

Irecently bombed a job interview that seemed a sure thing. It was a job I wanted and, even worse, a job I needed. I got the rejection call, then I missed my bus and had to wait in the rain. Then I lost my wallet. I felt like a real Munson. A born loser. Give me a wide berth.

So I went home and (re)watched the Farrelly brothers’ 1996 film Kingpin. I know what you’re thinking, it’s not the most obvious candidate for a feel good film. Actually, it may be one of the scuzziest films ever produced by a major studio. For the uninitiated, it tells the story of former “man-child” bowling prodigy Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson). An alcoholic, and devoid of his bowling hand after an unfortunate incident involving nemesis Ernie “Big Ern” McCraken (Bill Murray), Munson believes he’s found his ticket out of poverty with Ishmael (Randy Quaid), an Amish man hailing from rural Pennsylvania.

Subtlety isn’t this film’s strong point – most of the jokes concern some bodily function or another, or slapstick violence involving someone’s testicles, sometimes at the same time. What really sets it apart from other ’90s gross out comedies is how genuinely nasty the characters are. At the time of its release many critics, even the ones that liked it, described it as tasteless, vulgar and crude. In one of his most underrated performances, Harrelson is simply hilarious as the stupid, lazy and self-serving Munson.

Meanwhile, Bill Murray ad-libs almost every time he is on screen, giving a masterclass in smart arse performance as the womanising sleaze ball Ernie. Farrelly bros’ regular Rob Moran somehow manages to be even more unpleasant as a domestically abusive “bowling enthusiast” and sometime gangster called Stanley. Vanessa Angel’s Claudia is a born grifter and a bowling groupie. Even Ishmael is all too eager to abandon his Amish ways to enjoy the earthly pleasures of coffee and cigarettes. Along with a colourful supporting cast, this is one of the most glorious collections of freaks and weirdoes you’re ever likely to see on screen.

Kingpin also has a refreshing, freewheeling approach to genre. It’s a romantic comedy, a clash of cultures played for laughs, a buddy movie, a road movie and a underdog sports story all rolled into one 113-minute caper. It should also be noted that this is very much a film for adults, with explicitly adult themes. Yet it’s undercut with the universal message that, just maybe, everything will be okay in the end.

Ultimately, this is a story of redemption. A film that says you can always turn things around, that it’s always worth persevering. The 1990s and early 2000s saw a rise in “adult genres”, allowing filmmakers to take greater risks on mid-sized studio films. Kingpin is one of the finest examples of that trend, a film in which nobody involved is particularly interested in focus groups or target markets. It is what it is, warts and all.

After Kingpin, the Farrelly brothers began to scale back the sleaze, retreating to the safer shores of more formulaic rom-coms like There’s Something About Mary and Shallow Hal. But we’ll always have Munson to remind us that you never know when an Amish bowling prodigy might walk into your life and change everything.

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Humor, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Inflation “Transitory”? Here’s Your Simple Test

By Charles Hugh Smith

Source: Of Two Minds

Is inflation “transitory” in your household budget? Really? Where?

The Federal Reserve has been bleating that inflation is “transitory”–but what about the real world that we live in, as opposed to the abstract funhouse of rigged statistics? Here’s a simple test to help you decide if inflation is “transitory” in the real world.

Let’s start with some simple stipulations: price is price, there are no tricks like hedonics or substitution. Nobody cares if the truck stereo is better than it was 40 years ago, the price of the truck is the price we pay today, and that’s all that matters.

(Funny, the funhouse statistical adjustments never consider that appliances that used to last 30 years now break down and are junked after 3 years–if we adjusted for that, the $500 washer would be tagged at $5,000 today because it has lost 90% of its durability over the past 30 years.)

Second, inflation must be weighted to “big ticket” nondiscretionary items. The funhouse statistical trickery counts a $10 drop in the price of a TV (which you buy every few years at best) as equal to a $100 rise in childcare, which you pay monthly. No, no, no: a 10% rise in rent, healthcare insurance and childcare is $400 a month or roughly $5,000 a year. A 10% decline in a TV you buy every three years is $50. Even a 50% drop in the price of a TV ($250) is $83 per year–absolutely trivial, absolutely meaningless compared to $5,000 in higher big-ticket expenses.

You can forego the new TV but not the rent, childcare or healthcare. That’s the difference between “big ticket” nondiscretionary and discretionary (meals out, 3rd TV, etc.).

Third, we jettison the painfully obvious manipulation of “owners equivalent rent” for housing costs. Housing costs are the prices we pay for rent, owning a home and paying property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs to own the home. (Have you priced having a new roof put on your house by a licensed, reputable contractor? No? Well, it’s become a lot more expensive than it was a few years ago. Where is that enormous price leap in “owners equivalent rent”? Just how stupid does the Fed reckon we are?)

OK, here’s the test: let’s say markets finally take a deflationary dive from overvalued heights. Housing, stocks and other risk assets fall 30%. Trillions of dollars in “wealth” (that didn’t exist prior to the Everything Bubble inflating) has vanished, generating a reverse wealth effect as all the owners of these assets feel poorer and less inclined to borrow and spend. This is classically considered highly deflationary: demand drops, prices drop.

The three billionaires who own more assets than the bottom 50% of Americans (165 million Americans) will be crying, but how does life change for the 165 million Americans who own a vanishingly thin slice of these assets? Does their rent drop? No, for the reasons I explained in The Fed Is Wrong: Inflation Is Sticky: the big corporate landlords have to keep rents high to placate their lenders. (And let’s not forget greed: the greedy never want to lower prices, preferring to cling to the Fed’s fantasy of “transitory” trouble.)

Now let’s ask about the higher-income 150 million Americans who own homes and pay property taxes, who pay healthcare insurance, college tuition and fees, childcare and elderly care. Even if there is a deflationary crash in stocks and housing, what are the odds the overall costs of owning and maintaining your home will drop significantly?

What are the odds that local government will let property taxes drop with valuations? Shall we be honest and say zero? If real estate valuations plummet, then property tax rates will rise to compensate. Or other “creative” fees will be imposed to make up the shortfall in tax revenues.

What about childcare? What are the odds that childcare costs will drop 30%? Shall we be honest and say zero? The costs paid by childcare providers only go up, and so those who don’t charge enough (marginal providers) will close down, generating a shortage of supply that elevates prices.

What about elderly care? Will assisted living facilities suddenly drop 30% just because asset bubbles pop? No. The costs of assisted living march higher regardless of what asset valuations and interest rates do.

What about healthcare? Will all those costs drop 30% because assets declined? No. Everyone exposed to real-world pricing of healthcare will be paying more.

But what about the roofing contractor? Won’t they charge 30% less? The biggest expenses for the contractor are workers compensation insurance, liability insurance, disability insurance, FICA (Social Security and Medicare) and healthcare insurance, and none of those will drop a single dollar even if stocks drop 30%.

Just as 85% of local government expenses are labor-related, most of the expenses of the roofing contractor are labor-related. The roofing materials dropping a few bucks might lower the cost by a few percentage points, but the material costs are based on the costs of the manufacturers, distributors, truckers, etc., and these are also based on labor-related expenses, taxes, insurance and healthcare–none of which will drop a dime, regardless of what asset prices do.

Economist Michael Spence elucidated the difference between tradable and untradable goods and services. If you want your washer repaired, that service in untradable, as shipping your broken washer to China for repair is not financially viable. As labor costs rise in China and other offshore economies, that raises costs even for tradable goods.

The majority of essential services are untradable and the costs are dependent on “big ticket” expenses which cannot go down without imploding the economy and government: taxes, insurance, healthcare, childcare, elderly care, etc. cannot drop 30% because they’re based on labor costs, highly profitable systemic friction (Big Pharma, the Higher Education Cartel, Big Ag, healthcare and other quasi-monopolies) and the need for ever-higher tax revenues to provide services which the public demands.

Let’s also ponder the consequences of the extreme concentration of wealth and income in the top 5% of U.S. households. The top 10% own roughly 85% of all wealth, and the top 1% own more than half the financial wealth.

Any significant drop in financial assets will have almost no effect on the bottom 90% because they don’t own enough of these assets to be consequential. So the deflationary effect of the reverse wealth effect will be concentrated in the discretionary spending of the top 10%: the luxury imported vehicles, the $100 per plate dinners (those $60 bottles of wine add up), the $500/day resort vacation, the $2,500/week AirBnB rental, etc.

The declines in the cost of these discretionary luxuries may well be noteworthy, but there are thresholds below which prices cannot drop. The high-end restaurant has equally high-end expenses, and so marginal providers will close, leaving only those few who can maintain profitability as demand for luxury dining craters.

The resort has high expenses as well, and once profitability has been lost, resorts will close just like other marginal providers. Supply shrinks along with demand, and the survivors keep prices high enough or they too will close.

So the essential “big ticket” costs will keep rising and the discretionary luxuries only the top 10% can afford will drop–but not by much as all those luxury providers have the same high fixed costs.

So to recap the test: what are the odds of these “big ticket” expenses dropping 30% if asset prices drop 30%?

Taxes: zero.

Healthcare: zero.

Childcare: zero.

Elderly care: zero.

Costs of doing business: zero.

As for housing: the mortgage doesn’t drop if the market value of the house drops 30%, and any declines in insurance will be modest. The costs of maintenance won’t drop much, either, and might actually increase as the supply of skilled workers declines. (Nothing is more expensive than the “cheap” repair that has to be redone correctly.)

Rents may drop in areas nobody wants to live anymore, but rents will rise in places people do want to live.

The larger point here is the long economic cycles have turned. The 40-year decline in interest rates has turned, whether we admit it or not. The 40-year decline in the prices of goods due to financialization (lower interest rates, higher speculative assets) and globalization has turned. The 40-year expansion of the workforce has turned. The 40-year decline of oil/fuel/resources prices has turned. The 40-year fantasy that we can depend on other nations for our essential resources and components is drawing to a close.

Untradable goods and services, cost thresholds, resource security, the end of financialization / globalization and declining interest rates matter. The fantasy that the top 10% can prop up the economy by borrowing and spending the phantom wealth of insanely overvalued asset bubbles is drawing to a close.

Is inflation “transitory” in your household budget? Really? Where?

Posted in culture, Economics, elites, Financial Crisis, Housing Crisis, Inequality, Neoliberalism, news, Oligarchy, Recession, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

George Orwell’s 1984 Has Become a Blueprint for Our Dystopian Reality

By John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead

Source: The Rutherford Institute

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” George Orwell, 1984

Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell (Jun. 25, 1903-Jan. 21, 1950) has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state.

It’s been more than 70 years since Orwell—dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm—depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984.

Who could have predicted that so many years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, “He loved Big Brother,” we would come to love Big Brother.

“To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone— to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!”—George Orwell

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.”

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”―George Orwell

Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.” Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.”

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state—which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report—we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality.

Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes, facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness—a philosophy that discourages diversity—has become a guiding principle of modern society.

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”―George Orwell

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”―George Orwell, Animal Farm

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the “security/industrial complex”—a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance—has come to dominate the government and our lives.

Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.

Orwell understood what many Americans are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs.

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” ― George Orwell

Even our ability to speak and think freely is being regulated.

In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons.

In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

In my debut novel The Erik Blair Diaries, the dystopian future that George Orwell predicted for 1984 has finally arrived, 100 years late and ten times as brutal. In this post-apocalyptic world where everyone marches to the beat of the same drummer and words like “freedom” are taboo, Erik Blair—Orwell’s descendant and unwitting heir to his legacy—isn’t volunteering to be anyone’s hero. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go according to plan. To save all that he loves, Orwell will have to travel between his future self and the past.

And in Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.” Orwell’s Big Brother relies on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary.

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”—George Orwell

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government.

“Big Brother is Watching You.”―George Orwell

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity. 

“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.” ― George Orwell

Here’s what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it’s not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We’ve already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called “hateful” thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter. 

Say hello to the new Thought Police.

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA has been working on an artificial intelligence system designed to anticipate your every move. Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence) has been designed to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS.

What we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw. Just look at what happened to Julian Assange.

So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?

We’re running out of options.

Whether you’re dealing with fact or fiction, as I make clear in Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in my new novel The Erik Blair Diaries, we’ll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Posted in Art, Authoritarianism, civil liberties, Corporate Crime, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, freedom of speech, Law, Militarization, Oligarchy, police state, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Is A “Terrorist” In Biden’s America?

Far from being a war against “white supremacy,” the Biden administration’s new “domestic terror” strategy clearly targets primarily those who oppose US government overreach and those who oppose capitalism and/or globalization.

By Whitney Webb

Source: Unlimited Hangout

In the latest sign that the US government’s War on Domestic Terror is growing in scope and scale, the White House on Tuesday revealed the nation’s first ever government-wide strategy for confronting domestic terrorism. While cloaked in language about stemming racially motivated violence, the strategy places those deemed “anti-government” or “anti-authority” on a par with racist extremists and charts out policies that could easily be abused to silence or even criminalize online criticism of the government.

Even more disturbing is the call to essentially fuse intelligence agencies, law enforcement, Silicon Valley, and “community” and “faith-based” organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, as well as unspecified foreign governments, as partners in this “war,” which the strategy makes clear will rely heavily on a pre-crime orientation focused largely on what is said on social media and encrypted platforms. Though the strategy claims that the government will “shield free speech and civil liberties” in implementing this policy, its contents reveal that it is poised to gut both.

Indeed, while framed publicly as chiefly targeting “right-wing white supremacists,” the strategy itself makes it clear that the government does not plan to focus on the Right but instead will pursue “domestic terrorists” in “an ideologically neutral, threat-driven manner,” as the law “makes no distinction based on political view—left, right or center.” It also states that a key goal of this strategic framework is to ensure “that there is simply no governmental tolerance . . . of violence as an acceptable mode of seeking political or social change,” regardless of a perpetrator’s political affiliation. 

Considering that the main cheerleaders for the War on Domestic Terror exist mainly in establishment left circles, such individuals should rethink their support for this new policy given that the above statements could easily come to encompass Black Lives Matter–related protests, such as those that transpired last summer, depending on which political party is in power. 

Once the new infrastructure is in place, it will remain there and will be open to the same abuses perpetrated by both political parties in the US during the lengthy War on Terror following September 11, 2001. The history of this new “domestic terror” policy, including its origins in the Trump administration, makes this clear.

It’s Never Been Easier to Be a “Terrorist”

In introducing the strategy, the Biden administration cites “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” as a key reason for the new policy and a main justification for the War on Domestic Terror in general. This was most recently demonstrated Tuesday in Attorney General Merrick Garland’s statement announcing this new strategy. However, the document itself puts “anti-government” or “anti-authority” “extremists” in the same category as violent white supremacists in terms of being a threat to the homeland. The strategy’s characterization of such individuals is unsettling.

For instance, those who “violently oppose” “all forms of capitalism” or “corporate globalization” are listed under this less-discussed category of “domestic terrorist.” This highlights how people on the left, many of whom have called for capitalism to be dismantled or replaced in the US in recent years, could easily be targeted in this new “war” that many self-proclaimed leftists are currently supporting. Similarly, “environmentally-motivated extremists,” a category in which groups such as Extinction Rebellion could easily fall, are also included. 

In addition, the phrasing indicates that it could easily include as “terrorists” those who oppose the World Economic Forum’s vision for global “stakeholder capitalism,” as that form of “capitalism” involves corporations and their main “stakeholders” creating a new global economic and governance system. The WEF’s stakeholder capitalism thus involves both “capitalism” and “corporate globalization.” 

The strategy also includes those who “take steps to violently resist government authority . . . based on perceived overreach.” This, of course, creates a dangerous situation in which the government could, purposely or otherwise, implement a policy that is an obvious overreach and/or blatantly unconstitutional and then label those who resist it “domestic terrorists” and deal with them as such—well before the overreach can be challenged in court.

Another telling addition to this group of potential “terrorists” is “any other individual or group who engages in violence—or incites imminent violence—in opposition to legislative, regulatory or other actions taken by the government.” Thus, if the government implements a policy that a large swath of the population finds abhorrent, such as launching a new, unpopular war abroad, those deemed to be “inciting” resistance to the action online could be considered domestic terrorists. 

Such scenarios are not unrealistic, given the loose way in which the government and the media have defined things like “incitement” and even “violence” (e. g., “hate speech” is a form of violence) in the recent past. The situation is ripe for manipulation and abuse. To think the federal government (including the Biden administration and subsequent administrations) would not abuse such power reflects an ignorance of US political history, particularly when the main forces behind most terrorist incidents in the nation are actually US government institutions like the FBI (more FBI examples hereherehere, and here).

Furthermore, the original plans for the detention of American dissidents in the event of a national emergency, drawn up during the Reagan era as part of its “continuity of government” contingency, cited popular nonviolent opposition to US intervention in Latin America as a potential “emergency” that could trigger the activation of those plans. Many of those “continuity of government” protocols remain on the books today and can be triggered, depending on the whims of those in power. It is unlikely that this new domestic terror framework will be any different regarding nonviolent protest and demonstrations.

Yet another passage in this section of the strategy states that “domestic terrorists” can, “in some instances, connect and intersect with conspiracy theories and other forms of disinformation and misinformation.” It adds that the proliferation of such “dangerous” information “on Internet-based communications platforms such as social media, file-upload sites and end-to-end encrypted platforms, all of these elements can combine and amplify threats to public safety.” 

Thus, the presence of “conspiracy theories” and information deemed by the government to be “misinformation” online is itself framed as threatening public safety, a claim made more than once in this policy document. Given that a major “pillar” of the strategy involves eliminating online material that promotes “domestic terrorist” ideologies, it seems inevitable that such efforts will also “connect and intersect” with the censorship of “conspiracy theories” and narratives that the establishment finds inconvenient or threatening for any reason. 

Pillars of Tyranny

The strategy notes in several places that this new domestic-terror policy will involve a variety of public-private partnerships in order to “build a community to address domestic terrorism that extends not only across the Federal Government but also to critical partners.” It adds, “That includes state, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as foreign allies and partners, civil society, the technology sector, academic, and more.” 

The mention of foreign allies and partners is important as it suggests a multinational approach to what is supposedly a US “domestic” issue and is yet another step toward a transnational security-state apparatus. A similar multinational approach was used to devastating effect during the CIA-developed Operation Condor, which was used to target and “disappear” domestic dissidents in South America in the 1970s and 1980s. The foreign allies mentioned in the Biden administration’s strategy are left unspecified, but it seems likely that such allies would include the rest of the Five Eyes alliance (the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand) and Israel, all of which already have well-established information-sharing agreements with the US for signals intelligence.

The new domestic-terror strategy has four main “pillars,” which can be summarized as (1) understanding and sharing domestic terrorism-related information, including with foreign governments and private tech companies; (2) preventing domestic terrorism recruitment and mobilization to violence; (3) disrupting and deterring domestic terrorism activity; and (4) confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism.

The first pillar involves the mass accumulation of data through new information-sharing partnerships and the deepening of existing ones. Much of this information sharing will involve increased data mining and analysis of statements made openly on the internet, particularly on social media, something already done by US intelligence contractors such as Palantir. While the gathering of such information has been ongoing for years, this policy allows even more to be shared and legally used to make cases against individuals deemed to have made threats or expressed “dangerous” opinions online. 

Included in the first pillar is the need to increase engagement with financial institutions concerning the financing of “domestic terrorists.” US banks, such as Bank of America, have already gone quite far in this regard, leading to accusations that it has begun acting like an intelligence agency. Such claims were made after it was revealed that the BofA had passed to the government the private banking information of over two hundred people that the bank deemed as pointing to involvement in the events of January 6, 2021. It seems likely, given this passage in the strategy, that such behavior by banks will soon become the norm, rather than an outlier, in the United States. 

The second pillar is ostensibly focused on preventing the online recruitment of domestic terrorists and online content that leads to the “mobilization of violence.” The strategy notes that this pillar “means reducing both supply and demand of recruitment materials by limiting widespread availability online and bolstering resilience to it by those who nonetheless encounter it.“ The strategy states that such government efforts in the past have a “mixed record,” but it goes on to claim that trampling on civil liberties will be avoided because the government is “consulting extensively” with unspecified “stakeholders” nationwide.

Regarding recruitment, the strategy states that “these activities are increasingly happening on Internet-based communications platforms, including social media, online gaming platforms, file-upload sites and end-to-end encrypted platforms, even as those products and services frequently offer other important benefits.” It adds that “the widespread availability of domestic terrorist recruitment material online is a national security threat whose front lines are overwhelmingly private-sector online platforms.” 

The US government plans to provide “information to assist online platforms with their own initiatives to enforce their own terms of service that prohibits the use of their platforms for domestic terrorist activities” as well as to “facilitate more robust efforts outside the government to counter terrorists’ abuse of Internet-based communications platforms.” 

Given the wider definition of “domestic terrorist” that now includes those who oppose capitalism and corporate globalization as well as those who resist government overreach, online content discussing these and other “anti-government” and “anti-authority” ideas could soon be treated in the same way as online Al Qaeda or ISIS propaganda. Efforts, however, are unlikely to remain focused on these topics. As Unlimited Hangout reported last November, both UK intelligence and the US national-security state were developing plans to treat critical reporting on the COVID-19 vaccines as “extremist” propaganda.

Another key part of this pillar is the need to “increase digital literacy” among the American public, while censoring “harmful content” disseminated by “terrorists” as well as by “hostile foreign powers seeking to undermine American democracy.” The latter is a clear reference to the claim that critical reporting of US government policy, particularly its military and intelligence activities abroad, was the product of “Russian disinformation,” a now discredited claim that was used to heavily censor independent media. This new government strategy appears to promise more of this sort of thing. 

It also notes that “digital literacy” education for a domestic audience is being developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Such a policy would have previously violated US law until the Obama administration worked with Congress to repeal the Smith-Mundt Act, thus lifting the ban on the government directing propaganda at domestic audiences. 

The third pillar of the strategy seeks to increase the number of federal prosecutors investigating and trying domestic-terror cases. Their numbers are likely to jump as the definition of “domestic terrorist” is expanded. It also seeks to explore whether “legislative reforms could meaningfully and materially increase our ability to protect Americans from acts of domestic terrorism while simultaneously guarding against potential abuse of overreach.” In contrast to past public statements on police reform by those in the Biden administration, the strategy calls to “empower” state and local law enforcement to tackle domestic terrorism, including with increased access to “intelligence” on citizens deemed dangerous or subversive for any number of reasons.

To that effect, the strategy states the following (p. 24):

“The Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Homeland Security, with support from the National Counterterrorism Center [part of the intelligence community], are incorporating an increased focus on domestic terrorism into current intelligence products and leveraging current mechanisms of information and intelligence sharing to improve the sharing of domestic terrorism-related content and indicators with non-Federal partners. These agencies are also improving the usability of their existing information-sharing platforms, including through the development of mobile applications designed to provide a broader reach to non-Federal law enforcement partners, while simultaneously refining that support based on partner feedback.”

Such an intelligence tool could easily be, for example, Palantir, which is already used by the intelligence agencies, the DHS, and several US police departments for “predictive policing,” that is, pre-crime actions. Notably, Palantir has long included a “subversive” label for individuals included on government and law enforcement databases, a parallel with the controversial and highly secretive Main Core database of US dissidents. 

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas made the “pre-crime” element of the new domestic terror strategy explicit on Tuesday when he said in a statement that DHS would continue “developing key partnerships with local stakeholders through the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) to identify potential threats and prevent terrorism.” CP3, which replaced DHS’ Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention this past May, officially “supports communities across the United States to prevent individuals from radicalizing to violence and intervene when individuals have already radicalized to violence.” 

The fourth pillar of the strategy is by far the most opaque and cryptic, while also the most far-reaching. It aims to address the sources that cause “terrorists” to mobilize “towards violence.” This requires “tackling racism in America,” a lofty goal for an administration headed by the man who controversially eulogized Congress’ most ardent segregationist and who was a key architect of the 1994 crime bill. As well, it provides for “early intervention and appropriate care for those who pose a danger to themselves or others.”

In regard to the latter proposal, the Trump administration, in a bid to “stop mass shootings before they occur,” considered a proposal to create a “health DARPA” or “HARPA” that would monitor the online communications of everyday Americans for “neuropsychiatric” warning signs that someone might be “mobilizing towards violence.” While the Trump administration did not create HARPA or adopt this policy, the Biden administration has recently announced plans to do so.

Finally, the strategy indicates that this fourth pillar is part of a “broader priority”: “enhancing faith in government and addressing the extreme polarization, fueled by a crisis of disinformation and misinformation often channeled through social media platforms, which can tear Americans apart and lead some to violence.” In other words, fostering trust in government while simultaneously censoring “polarizing” voices who distrust or criticize the government is a key policy goal behind the Biden administration’s new domestic-terror strategy. 

Calling Their Shots?

While this is a new strategy, its origins lie in the Trump administration. In October 2019, Trump’s attorney general William Barr formally announced in a memorandum that a new “national disruption and early engagement program” aimed at detecting those “mobilizing towards violence” before they commit any crime would launch in the coming months. That program, known as DEEP (Disruption and Early Engagement Program), is now active and has involved the Department of Justice, the FBI, and “private sector partners” since its creation.

Barr’s announcement of DEEP followed his unsettling “prediction” in July 2019 that “a major incident may occur at any time that will galvanize public opinion on these issues.” Not long after that speech, a spate of mass shootings occurred, including the El Paso Walmart shooting, which killed twenty-three and about which many questions remain unanswered regarding the FBI’s apparent foreknowledge of the event. After these events took place in 2019, Trump called for the creation of a government backdoor into encryption and the very pre-crime system that Barr announced shortly thereafter in October 2019. The Biden administration, in publishing this strategy, is merely finishing what Barr started.

Indeed, a “prediction” like Barr’s in 2019 was offered by the DHS’ Elizabeth Neumann during a Congressional hearing in late February 2020. That hearing was largely ignored by the media as it coincided with an international rise of concern regarding COVID-19. At the hearing, Neumann, who previously coordinated the development of the government’s post-9/11 terrorism information sharing strategies and policies and worked closely with the intelligence community, gave the following warning about an imminent “domestic terror” event in the United States:

“And every counterterrorism professional I speak to in the federal government and overseas feels like we are at the doorstep of another 9/11, maybe not something that catastrophic in terms of the visual or the numbers, but that we can see it building and we don’t quite know how to stop it.”

This “another 9/11” emerged on January 6, 2021, as the events of that day in the Capitol were quickly labeled as such by both the media and prominent politicians, while also inspiring calls from the White House and the Democrats for a “9/11-style commission” to investigate the incident. This event, of course, figures prominently in the justification for the new domestic-terror strategy, despite the considerable video and other evidence that shows that Capitol law enforcement, and potentially the FBI, were directly involved in facilitating the breach of the Capitol. In addition, when one considers that the QAnon movement, which had a clear role in the events of January 6, was itself likely a government-orchestrated psyop, the government hand in creating this situation seems clear. 

It goes without saying that the official reasons offered for these militaristic “domestic terror” policies, which the US has already implemented abroad—causing much more terror than it has prevented—does not justify the creation of a massive new national-security infrastructure that aims to criminalize and censor online speech. Yet the admission that this new strategy, as part of a broader effort to “enhance faith in government,” combines domestic propaganda campaigns with the censorship and pursuit of those who distrust government heralds the end of even the illusion of democracy in the United States.

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