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>Putting Some Lipstick on the Bailout Rip Off Pig

>I’m not sure what is worse: having your life savings and future stolen by armed criminals or having to endure the charade of a Congressional debate that attempts to portray the theft as something that is in the best interest of the victims. In case you have become distracted by all of the theater, allow me to state clearly what is happening right now. The federal government has taken the “liberty” of confiscating trillions of dollars from the citizens whose property they have sworn to protect. This has been done for no other reason than to prop up their failed monetary system so that they can continue to siphon off the wealth of the productive members of society – rich, poor, and middle class alike – and direct it to the privileged few who would not prosper in a truly free market. Regardless of the endless minutiae that is thrown at the American public over the next several days, weeks, or months, this is the REALITY of the government’s response to the predictable meltdown of their socialist monetary and financial system.

If a little diversion is necessary to distract people when an ordinary crime is being perpetrated, then obviously an extraordinary diversion is needed when you are perpetrating the greatest heist of all time. In this respect, for once, our federal government did not let us down. It began routinely enough, with Chairman “Mao” Bernanke attending a hearing in Congress to answer questions on the details of the heist, including how the loot would be split up, etc. Of course, it was immediately assumed by all in attendance that the bailout was going forward. So, in an attempt to appear to be “fighting for their constituents,” many of the Congressmen began arguing for a clause in the bill that would limit the compensation of CEO’s of companies that made use of the stolen money. The extent to which this was debated was practically insufferable, as the underlying assumption was that the American people are so stupid as to believe that saving tens or hundreds of millions of dollars would make some significant difference when they were being divested of trillions. Still, for decorum’s sake, somebody had to put some lipstick on this bailout, rip-off pig.

There was also some discussion about the clause in the proposed bill that would give the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve unchecked power to spend the money any way they want, without oversight by Congress. Under the pretense of them representing “the people,” many of the Congressmen blustered that unelected officials could not be entrusted with this much money without oversight by the people’s representatives. Of course, anyone that has seen The Godfather movies, Goodfellas, or Casino knows that infighting is common inside criminal organizations. What this really represented was a power struggle over how the loot would be split up, or at least who would decide how it will be done. The most laughable part of this is that even if Congress gets oversight into the bill, they have already demonstrated while squandering the other $3 trillion dollars that they stole from us this year that they are going to roll over and agree to whatever the executive branch wants to do anyway, no matter how unconstitutional or even criminal (is there a difference?) the policy may be.

Finally, there was also some discussion about not appropriating the entire $700 billion all at once. Honestly, some of the Congressman seemed genuinely concerned about the calls that they were getting from their constituents. Apparently, significant segments of the population in some districts had not slept through this one, and were letting them know that they weren’t happy about this latest scam. False Prophet of Freedom Charles Schumer suggested that perhaps Treasury could pilfer $150 billion now, and return at a later date to collect the rest. There are always those who lose their nerve in every crew.

At this point, it is probably clear that never was there going to be a debate about WHETHER OR NOT THE MONEY SHOULD BE STOLEN FROM THE PEOPLE AT ALL. By the end of the news coverage of the congressional hearings, the debate had been framed to focus on whether or not to let CEO’s share some of the loot, who would decide how it was divided, and whether or not it would be stolen all at once. Of course, the media outlets for both major parties (Fox for the Republicans and MSNBC for the Democrats) immediately took their cues and tried the best they could to characterize these trivialities as “weighty issues.” However, there was still a feeling of uncertainty in the air about whether or not the syndicate could actually get away with this. Never fear, because the best theater was saved for last.

I have to give some credit to the political professionals that are running John McCain’s campaign. I wouldn’t have given him a chance to win this election six months ago, when it became apparent that he would be the Republican nominee. Somehow, his campaign has managed to convince a significant amount of people that this man, who barely graduated from college, whose mental stability has legitimately been questioned on many occasions, and who literally cannot be trusted to give an unscripted statement within range of a microphone, should be the next president of the United States. His selection of Sarah Palin as running mate seemed to swing momentum to his side at a time when Obama was poised to distance himself in the polls. After more McCain blundering at the podium had revived Obama once again, giving him a six point lead in the latest national polls, the McCain campaign pulled off its greatest coup to date. John McCain was suspending his presidential campaign, and calling on Barack Obama to do the same. There was a danger that the heist wouldn’t come off without their help, and McCain was heading immediately to Washington.

Finally, this was the diversion that the plot needed. The media was energized. Fox’s Carl Cameron appeared onscreen literally out of breath (I hope he was acting) with the scoop on McCain’s startling decision. Now, the debate had really been framed. Should Obama follow McCain’s lead, or was this just a political move? Should the debates go forward? Who actually called who first? McCain or Obama? There was simply no longer time to argue dry, philosophical issues, such as property rights for instance. No, there was now high drama in the presidential campaign charade and a prime time television event that was in jeopardy of being cancelled. The heist was on, and all that was left was to make sure that Stacks didn’t fall asleep in the getaway truck.

While without question a political stunt, and what will probably prove to be a very successful one, there was a little sincerity amidst all of the theater. McCain called for a presidential commission including Republicans and Democrats. It was time to put politics aside. Obama said that this was “no longer a Republican or Democratic problem, but an American problem.” I would only add one word. It is not a Republican or Democratic problem, but an American Oligarchy problem. The oligarchy is in some jeopardy here, with its phony monetary and financial system in danger of collapse, and it is time to put the pretense of being ideologically different aside and work together to save it. I was reminded of Mel Brooks in the classic “Blazing Saddles,” when he said, “We’ve got to protect our phony baloney jobs!” If there was ever a question of whether we are ruled by “Republicrats,” that question has been answered now that the chips are down.

There is some hope, though. For once, Ron Paul was not the only one calling the system into question. Jim DeMint actually said that he was disturbed that free market capitalism was being blamed for the crisis when in actuality it was entirely caused by government. Richard Shelby said that he was opposed to the bailout, as did Jim Bunning, who has been vocally critical of the Federal Reserve. Most importantly, even though the media jumped right in line with the Republicrat spin to frame this debate away from the real question – can the government actually steal this money from the American people – they were nevertheless forced to report that large sections of the American public are ANGRY about this. Unfortunately, they don’t know exactly what to be angry at, and are probably going to be quite easily manipulated to focus that anger in the wrong direction. But they’re pissed, and they are not being quiet about it anymore. One thing is true: the American people have been poorly educated, misinformed, lied to, manipulated, and conditioned to a certain extent, but they are not stupid. They know something smells about this and they are starting to figure out what direction the odor is coming from. Once they rediscover their individual rights – the rights that cannot be bought with fiat money nor voted away in an election – the criminal gang is going to be in grave danger. This may be their last score.

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Conspiracies? They Don’t Matter

800px-harold_pratt_house_004Immediately after an official story is created, there is usually an alternate or “underground” theory about the same events, purporting to be the “real story” that somebody doesn’t want us to know. This instinct to question the official story is very healthy, and should not be discouraged. Skepticism is the prime motivation behind critical thinking and analysis. Certainly, many of the “official stories” we’ve heard to explain major news events do little to dissuade those that immediately call them into question. The result is often what have come to be known as “conspiracy theories,” a moniker used with contempt by the establishment and mainstream media and even avoided by those alleging a conspiracy themselves. Conspiracy theorists are immediately branded as paranoid by the establishment, for whatever reasons, and some say that this is a media conspiracy in itself.

Conspiracy theories are usually compelling. Conspiracy theories give meaning to tragic events that would otherwise be more horrifying because there was no one to blame, no cause to invoke, or no reason for the death and destruction. For example, if lightning strikes an airplane and it crashes, killing all aboard, it is only worthy of our attention for a day or so. However, if a theory arises that it was not really lightning, but a bomb or sabotage that brought down that plane, that story has legs for years, especially if the theory accuses what we perceive as a villainous establishment of victimizing innocents. No one wants to face the fact that suffering occurs due to unfortunate accidents or random forces of nature. Everyone wants to hear that there was a sinister force behind the tragedy, because then we can solve the mystery, bring the perpetrators to justice, and prevent the dastardly event from every occurring again. While researching his role in the 1997 movie “Conspiracy Theory,” Mel Gibson interviewed many “conspiracy theorists,” acknowledging that the longer he spoke with them the more believable their theory seemed to become.

None of this is intended to suggest that conspiracies do not exist. Let us not forget the wise axiom, “just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get me.” However, it is important to recognize that there is a strong motivation for us to see conspiracies where they may not exist, and also to see conspiracies as much more vast than they may really be. Ockham’s razor is best not forgotten, that, all things being equal, the simplest explanation is often the right one. The same critical thinking, analysis, and skepticism should be applied to the contrarian or conspiracy theory as to the official story, addressing evidence to the contrary of the theory as fairly as evidence in support of it. Too often, neither the official story nor the conspiracy theory attempts to do so.

Ultimately, I believe that conspiracy theories are often harmful to the cause of achieving political change or reform, because they distract the great majority of people from focusing on the problem itself and its solution, and instead focus all of the intention on ferreting out conspirators. That is not to say that understanding the cause of a problem cannot help with its solution. However, in many cases, the cause is irrelevant. In a representative republic with officials chosen by majority vote, the solution ultimately lies in winning over the majority of the citizens, not in finding the culprits behind dark plots or conspiracies.

The Council on Foreign Relations is a perfect example. The basic tenet of this conspiracy theory is that the CFR is a front for a conspiracy by international bankers to secretly corrupt the United States with a socialist agenda, undermine the sovereignty of the United States, and ultimately bring the American people under the rule of one world socialist government. Books have been written about this conspiracy, political organizations have been formed to fight it, infiltrators have attempted to expose it, and, at one time or another, most of the world’s problems have been attributed to it.[1] I don’t know if these allegations are true or not. Like Mel Gibson, I find that the more I listen to people arguing for this conspiracy theory, the more believable it sounds. In the end, it really doesn’t matter.

Doesn’t matter? An organization bent on corrupting the American people with socialism and bringing them under international rule doesn’t matter? No, their “conspiracy,” if that is what people want to call it, doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not the American people will give it their consent. Ultimately, this is still a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. If you think that the American people do not want socialism, then try to get signatures on a petition to phase out Social Security and Medicare. Once it’s time to give up the promises of government benefits, the missionary zeal against socialism dissipates rather quickly, even amongst the so-called “Constitutionalists.” Conversely, if 70% of the American people DEMANDED that their representatives introduce legislation to phase these programs out or face unemployment by the next term, the legislation would be introduced and passed with all of the self-righteous blustering with which they presently give us more socialism.

Ultimately, the American people get what they demand. Right now, most Americans are demanding some type of government “solution” to healthcare. Similarly, when the unemployment rate goes up, Americans typically DEMAND that their government does something about it, instead of demanding that government cease interfering with the free market. The unfortunate reality for conspiracy theorists is that the majority of people AGREE with the CFR agenda. Without that agreement, it would be powerless.

Another popular conspiracy theory concerns the past two presidential elections. It alleges that the Republican Party stole or fixed the vote in crucial states (Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004) to give George Bush a victory over his opponents. Again, I don’t purport to know whether this conspiracy theory is true or not. However, to me it is again irrelevant. While I agree that the candidate who gets the most votes should be the winner, no matter how narrow the margin of victory, the Bush presidency is still one that is basically the result of an equally divided nation. No one alleges that Al Gore or John Kerry won Florida or Ohio by a landslide. Everyone acknowledges that both elections were extremely close when it comes to overall votes. They were so close that in most statistical models they would have been considered an even draw. However, proponents of the conspiracy theory tend to characterize the Bush presidency as one that was obtained by a great fraud, against the will of the majority of Americans. The ugly truth is that about half of American voters WANTED George Bush in office – twice! Certainly if he had only obtained 25% of the vote, it wouldn’t have mattered much how hard those chads were to poke out. Today he would be where he belongs, shoveling out stable stalls in Crawford.

A final example is of the mythical conspiracy by “Big Oil.” This one is popular among the disgruntled from every political party, race, color, and creed. “Big Oil” is blamed for fixing the price of oil and gouging the American public, suppressing alternative energy innovations to maintain their monopoly, carrying out assassinations, coup d’états, and all manner of diabolical intrigue. “Big Oil” is behind most of our problems, until a few facts are examined. For one, government-owned oil companies account for about 70% of the world’s oil supply. The American oil companies play a very small part, with the largest, Exxon, accounting for only 2% of world supply. Oil prices are set on an exchange, just like the prices of stocks, so the buyers really have a lot more control than the sellers. Most importantly, the publicly traded “Big Oil” companies are not owned by a shadowy group of billionaires – we own them! Over 98% of Exxon is owned by average Americans, in their 401K retirement accounts. The ultimate irony – WE ARE “Big Oil.” In the end, this one doesn’t even stand up to critical analysis. Monetary inflation necessitated by government spending on those social programs we aren’t ready to give up is a much better place to lay the blame for high gasoline prices than on the mythical ogre, “Big Oil.”

I do not condemn the conspiracy theorists. I do not know whether the conspiracies are real or not. I suspect that many of them are partly true, that none of them are wholly true, and that a few of them are just plain nuts. However, the vast conspiracies that are accused of being at the root of our problems here in America all have one thing in common: they need our consent in order to succeed. If “the bankers” are conspiring against us, they can be completely defeated with legislation requiring a 100% reserve requirement. If there is a socialist conspiracy, it can be defeated by legislation to phase out the social programs and reinstitute property rights. If the American people want these things, the government can still be made to give them to us.

However, we must recognize that right now, the American people are not demanding these things. In fact, the American people are actually demanding more socialism, and as recently as the last presidential election, about half of them were still behind the war in Iraq. While the conspiracy theorist is searching for cryptic documents and incriminating photographs to prove his conspiracy, he is not convincing his neighbor next door not to go to the Barack Obama rally and cheer while Obama promises universal healthcare. Therein lies the problem. It was suggested by one Break the Matrix member that conspiracy theories themselves were a conspiracy – to distract us from taking the action necessary to solve our problems. That’s probably the most dangerous conspiracy of all.

Tom Mullen

[1] One objection I have to the idea of this being a “conspiracy” is that it doesn’t fit the definition. According to Webster, a conspiracy has to be a secret agreement, and I don’t believe anything about the CFR is a secret. You can go to their website (http://www.cfr.org) and read their very public positions on most of the issues, and their long term goals are hardly shrouded in mystery.

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