Gold ETFs vs. Physical Gold - Dangers Of Exchange Traded Funds
Gold ETFs vs. Physical Gold - Dangers Of Exchange Traded Funds
by Olivier Garret on Forbes
Gold ETFs are rising in popularity due to their convenience. They’re easy to trade, there’s no need to store anything, and no one is going to break into your house to steal your GLD shares.
Full article on Forbes
Gold and Silver Bullion - News and Commentary
Gold steady as markets await U.S. healthcare vote (Reuters.com)
Swiss gold exports to India top the table in February (SharpsPixley.com)
Gold prices settle lower to end a multisession rise (MarketWatch.com)
Struggling with dore imports, MMTC Pamp banks on domestic gold scrap (Business-Standard.com)
UBS charges customers to deposit euros (BBC.com)
South Africa, Once World's Top Gold Producer, Has Seen Output Plunge (Bloomberg.com)
A New Blast May Have Forged Cosmic Gold (QuantaMagazine.org)
There Is Gold in Seawater, But We Can’t Get at It (AtlasObscura.com)
Massive earthquake could plunge large parts of California into the sea (USAToday.com)
Euro Will "Cease To Exist" and Will See "Financial Chaos" - Doug Casey Interview (InternationalMan.com)
Get Ready for the Investor Stampede Back into Gold - Commerzbank (MarketWatch.com)
Gold Prices (LBMA AM)
24 Mar: USD 1,244.00, GBP 996.20 & EUR 1,150.82 per ounce
23 Mar: USD 1,247.90, GBP 997.95 & EUR 1,157.93 per ounce
22 Mar: USD 1,246.10, GBP 999.50 & EUR 1,154.76 per ounce
21 Mar: USD 1,232.05, GBP 989.21 & EUR 1,141.37 per ounce
20 Mar: USD 1,233.00, GBP 993.92 & EUR 1,146.57 per ounce
17 Mar: USD 1,228.75, GBP 991.85 & EUR 1,140.53 per ounce
16 Mar: USD 1,225.60, GBP 998.74 & EUR 1,143.24 per ounce
Silver Prices (LBMA)
24 Mar: USD 17.63, GBP 14.11 & EUR 16.31 per ounce
23 Mar: USD 17.55, GBP 14.04 & EUR 16.27 per ounce
22 Mar: USD 17.58, GBP 14.12 & EUR 16.30 per ounce
21 Mar: USD 17.31, GBP 13.88 & EUR 16.01 per ounce
20 Mar: USD 17.23, GBP 13.92 & EUR 16.03 per ounce
17 Mar: USD 17.40, GBP 14.08 & EUR 16.21 per ounce
16 Mar: USD 17.46, GBP 14.21 & EUR 16.28 per ounce
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Access Daily and Weekly Updates Here
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Published:3/24/2017 8:15:12 AM
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Has The Deep State Begun Its Revenge On Trump?
Authored by Nick Giambruno via InternationalMan.com,
The Deep State is set to prick the largest bubble in human history today…
The Deep State is the permanently entrenched “national security” bureaucracy - the top tier of the military, the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. It also includes the Federal Reserve, the quintessential Establishment institution.
They all hate President Trump. They did everything possible to stop him from taking office. None of it worked. They fired all of their bullets, but he still wouldn’t go down.
Of course, the Deep State could still try to assassinate Trump. It’s obvious the possibility has crossed his mind. He’s taken the unusual step of supplementing his Secret Service protection with loyal private security.
But for now, anyway, the Deep State’s next move is to pin the coming stock market collapse on Trump. He’s the perfect fall guy.
When people think “Greater Depression,” they’ll think “Donald Trump.”
Right now, the Federal Reserve is the Deep State’s weapon of choice.
The economy has been on life support since the 2008 financial crisis. The Fed has pumped it up with unprecedented amounts of “stimulus.” This has created enormous distortions and misallocations of capital that need to be flushed.
Think of the trillions of dollars in money printing programs, euphemistically called quantitative easing (QE) 1, 2, and 3. Meanwhile, with zero and even negative interest rates in many countries, rates are the lowest they’ve been in 5,000 years of recorded human history.
On top of that, the too-big-to-fail banks are even bigger than they were in 2008. They have more derivatives, and they’re much more dangerous.
If the Deep State wants to trigger a stock market collapse on par with 1929, it just has to pull the plug on the extraordinary life support measures it’s used since the last crisis.
This outcome is already baked in the cake. It’s just a matter of when… and there’s a good chance “when” is today.
Source: Ben Garrison
In December 2015, the Fed raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade, from 0% to a mere 0.25%. It kept rates there until last December, when it raised them to 0.50%.
The Fed also announced it would accelerate rate hikes throughout 2017 - three in total. It will probably announce these rate hikes during the seven remaining Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings scheduled for 2017.
This means the Deep State could trigger its controlled demolition today.
Yesterday's Fed rate hike (which will likely be the weakest period of economic growth for a rate-hike since 1980) could help prick the massive bubble in the stock and bond markets.
Trump recently said:
What happens if that interest rate goes up 2, 3, 4 points? We don’t have a country.
In any case, I think some of this year’s rate hikes will be much bigger than the 0.25% most expect. The Fed could pull a series of 0.50% rate hikes… or go even bigger.
Anything greater than the normal 0.25% tempo would shock the market—and seem designed to hurt Trump.
Trump seems aware of the situation. He recently said, “They’re keeping the rates down so that everything else doesn’t go down.”
He’s also said that “we have a very false economy” and the stock market is a “big, fat, ugly bubble.”
During the campaign, Trump called Fed Chair Janet Yellen “highly political.” At that point, he said the Fed should raise interest rates but wouldn’t because of “political reasons.” (Raising rates before the election would have hurt Hillary Clinton.)
Now, even a small rate increase is a lethal threat to the US budget. The US government currently needs over $400 billion from taxpayers just to pay the interest on its debt. Tax receipts are just over $2 trillion.
If interest rates rise…
1%, the government would need over $600 billion to pay the interest on its debt.
2%, it would need over $800 billion.
3%, it would need $1 trillion.
4%, it would need over $1.2 trillion, or over half of what it currently snatches from taxpayers—again, just to pay the interest.
Clearly, none of this is sustainable.
The Deep State is planning moves during Trump’s first 100 days in office that could change everything in sudden and unexpected ways.
* * *
Doug Casey and I put together this time-sensitive video explaining how it could all go down. You must see this urgent video before the Establishment makes its next move. Click here to watch it now.
Published:3/16/2017 9:47:31 PM
Casey Anthony Says She Doesn't "Give a S--t" What People Think About Her as She Opens Up About Caylee's Death: Watch
Casey Anthony is opening up about the passing of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, nine years after her death.
In a new series of interviews with the Associated Press, Casey discusses...
Published:3/7/2017 7:16:34 PM
A Timeline of Casey Anthony's Life in the Public Eye
Until 2008, Casey Anthony was just a regular person who became a mom to daughter Caylee Anthony. Eventually, that changed. In June 2008, Caylee was seen for the last time, but she wasn't...
Published:3/7/2017 1:49:11 PM
Casey Anthony Speaks Out 9 Years After Caylee's Death: "I Sleep Pretty Good at Night"
Nine years after the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Casey Anthony has given a rare interview in which she again denied knowing much about how Caylee Anthony passed away.
Published:3/7/2017 7:47:23 AM
Casey Anthony Speaks Out Associated Press Interview Caylee Anthony Death
Casey Anthony has spoken out for the first time since she was acquitted for the murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee.
Published:3/7/2017 6:46:52 AM
CNN Dusts Off Its Approach to the News With YouTuber Casey Neistat
Starting on March 15, Casey Neistat will host a new show live on YouTube every day at 5PM.
Published:3/2/2017 6:45:59 AM
Casey Affleck Speaks Out About Sexual Harassment Allegations Following 2017 Oscars Win
Casey Affleck is aware that not everyone was excited about his 2017 Oscars win.
On Sunday night, Hollywood applauded the actor's performance in Manchester by the Sea. At the same...
Published:2/28/2017 10:33:06 PM
Making The Same Mistakes Again (Remember The 'Lord Clive')
Via Jeff Thomas of InternationalMan.com,
The image above is of the 18th-century home of friends in Colonia, Uruguay. Today, sitting on their back patio on the Rio de la Plata, I looked out at a small yellow buoy in the harbour that marks the final resting place of the Lord Clive, a large, 60-gun British warship from the 18th century.
In 1763, we British, already at war with Spain, decided to expand the venture to the New World. The Lord Clive arrived in Colonia, Uruguay, and began firing into the tiny town. With her heavy contingent of cannon, her captain was confident that he could do enough damage to make the Spanish inhabitants surrender. After extensive bombardment, the Spanish had still not raised the white flag; however, the crew of the Lord Clive had managed to set fire to their own ship. The crew abandoned ship.
Local accounts of the event have it that, swimming ashore, the English crew apologized for bombarding the town and asked for mercy. Not surprisingly, the Spanish killed them.
Of course, this is not the outcome that’s described in English history books. Although the defeat of the British on that day is acknowledged, the folly is not. Although historians will generally acknowledge a defeat, they’re often reluctant to mention any idiocy on the part of their own military. And so any English-language version of the story tells a different tale from the account above.
This is a great pity, as much can be learned from historical idiocy. Since it’s rarely taught, military leaders often make the same idiotic mistakes that their predecessors made.
As an example, we can look at the adventures of the US today and observe their serial invasions over the last fifteen years in the Middle East and elsewhere. These adventures are being pursued ostensibly “to make the world safe for democracy.” However, whenever the US takes over a foreign country, it puts in place a puppet government—not exactly the textbook definition of “democracy.”
And, of course, warfare is very costly. Choosing to invade multiple countries at the same time, as the US has been doing over the last fifteen years, is even more costly.
And the US government never misses an opportunity to portray the Russians as evil aggressors—an appellation far more suited to the US. On one occasion after another, Russia has sought to tone down the level of aggression, whilst the US has been conducting a shoving match with the Russians, goading them into conflicts.
This is extraordinarily foolish, as it would take very little to light the fuse of direct warfare between the US and Russia. Over the centuries, quite a few countries have challenged Russia, but Russia has always proven to be a very hard country to defeat. Although American films about World War II tend to portray the US as having won the war against the Germans, it was the Russians who did the lion’s share of the job. Even when poorly armed and poorly prepared, Russia simply throws another ten or twenty million men at the problem and ultimately wears out any attacker. Russians don’t necessarily like war any more than any other people, but they do have astonishing staying power. They’ll grimly see a war through, long after their opponents have lost heart.
In addition, China and others have stated their support for Russia, should the US get carried away with its aggression in the Middle East. Both China and Russia have stated that, should the US move on Iran, they will join the fray on Iran’s side.
It would be foolhardy in the extreme for the US government to assume that it could take these powers on and come out of the fight victorious.
But what does this have to do with the burning of the Lord Clive?
Well, as stated above, the captain of the Lord Clive had a massive warship capable of doing a great deal of damage as he bombarded houses, including the one pictured above. But the crew became so caught up in their zeal for destruction that they failed to extinguish a fire on board the ship and had to dive overboard, surrendering to the Spanish, who by that time were understandably not feeling particularly merciful.
The US is in a similar situation. It’s not exactly in the best shape at home. The economy is on the ropes, and a financial collapse may be imminent. The government is rapidly becoming more autocratic, and a police state is likely to be instituted in the near future. It will be needed as funds for entitlements dry up and those who now praise the nanny state find that they’ve been lied to all this time. Pension funds also are beginning to fail, and people in both the private and public sectors will be more than a bit peevish when they discover that this rug, too, has been pulled out from under them.
If we were to imagine the worst possible future for the US, it might go something like this:
The US invades Iran or directly attacks Russian forces in Syria or another country.
Russia retaliates and the world takes up sides as World War III begins.
For the first time in their history, the American people are angrier at their own government than they are at the trumped-up enemy their government has chosen to oppose.
The US government finds that it must fight a full-blown foreign war at a time when it’s fighting a second one at home.
All of the above takes place at a time when the US is broke and is economically unable to sustain a fight on either front.
The world turns against the US for causing this fiasco, and, for the first time, there’s no one standing on the same side as the US.
The US effort collapses and, like the crew of the Lord Clive, the US, in effect, abandons ship and asks for forgiveness from those it has invaded.
In the above scenario, we can imagine that the US would have created a situation that would maximize enmity from the rest of the world. (In 1919, Europe forced the Treaty of Versailles on Germany, not out of necessity, but out of vengeance. It served to cripple the German people for decades thereafter—both socially and economically.)
A final thought: Every night on American television news programmes, pundits, politicians, and retired generals perform their sabre rattling, stating that the world at large had better cooperate with the US or else. Whilst this bravado may appeal to a segment of the American population, the programming is also available to the rest of the world. We who aren’t American and don’t reside in the US listen to the threatening rhetoric and find it decidedly unsettling. More to the point, the world’s leaders are also observing these programmes. They have a similar tone to the Nazi buildup in the 1930s. To those outside the US, US leaders are becoming increasingly dangerous.
If this does play out along the lines of the sinking of the Lord Clive, it will be the American people who will pay the price for their leaders’ reckless behaviour.
* * *
An unpopular foreign war, an unwinnable fight with Russia, friendly nations turning on the US, economic collapse at home… Given the current political climate, it’s not hard to see how this “worst possible future” could quickly and easily become reality. In fact, New York Times bestselling author Doug Casey thinks it’s just a matter of time before the next crisis hits the US. Doug thinks the situation is so critical that he put together this groundbreaking video. Click here to watch it now.
Published:2/28/2017 6:38:09 PM
See the Vanity Fair 2017 Oscars After-Party Portraits
After sitting in their seats for hours at the 2017 Oscars, the celebrities needed to let loose.
Per tradition, many headed to the Vanity Fair after-party, where some stopped to pose in...
Published:2/27/2017 7:55:05 AM
7 Biggest Jaw-Droppers at the 2017 Oscars
Who's still a little bit shaken up from the Miss Universification of the 2017 Oscars?
Over the years, the Academy Awards stage has born witness to all manner of historic, memorable...
Published:2/27/2017 7:24:46 AM
Casey Affleck Regrets Not Thanking His Kids in His Oscars Speech
Casey Affleck forgot to thank two very important people in his 2017 Oscars acceptance speech: His children.
He and ex Summer Phoenix are parents to sons Indiana, 12, and Atticus,...
Published:2/27/2017 12:54:20 AM
Amazon’s ‘Manchester by the Sea’ and ‘The Salesman’ take home three Oscars
So this isn’t the Oscar moment that everyone’s talking about, but it’s also kind of big deal: Manchester by the Sea and The Salesman, both distributed by Amazon Studios, won a collective three Academy Awards tonight. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos even got a shoutout in Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue. Manchester by the Sea won for Best Actor (Casey Affleck, who won… Read More
Published:2/27/2017 12:24:29 AM
Casey Anthony Seen at Anti-Trump Rally Florida
Casey Anthony, found not guilty of murder in the death of her daughter, was seen Saturday at an anti-Trump rally in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Published:2/7/2017 7:20:00 AM
[Bretton Woods system]
When The Money Supply Dries Up
Submitted by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
In 1944, the US had been the primary supplier for arms for the allies during World War II and, as such, exited the war with more wealth than any of the other nations that had entered the war earlier, draining their treasuries of money. Since payment was largely demanded in gold, the US held three-quarters of the world’s gold and therefore was in a position to call the shots with regard to the free world’s economic future.
At Bretton Woods, the US took advantage of this situation, setting up the World Bank and the IMF and declaring the dollar to be the default currency for all countries concerned. From that point on, the US was in the catbird seat, able to dictate economic terms to other countries and even to behave irresponsibly, eventually creating previously unheard-of levels of debt, thereby inspiring other nations to do their best to create their own debt in order to keep pace as best they could.
Eventually, of course, such irresponsible economics will cause any country, no matter how powerful, to collapse economically, no matter how many Keynesian economists such as Thomas Piketty, Paul Krugman, and Larry Summers declare otherwise.
Beginning in 1944, the US became the world’s foremost empire, for the strongest of reasons—it held the world’s wealth. This advantage led to a period of great power and, in the latter years, as the empire began to stumble economically under its own great weight, led to the creation of organisations and legislation designed to bring in new revenue, as the old forms of revenue declined.
In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of the extraordinary assumption that “money laundering” (the practice of protecting one’s wealth from rapacious governments), should be regarded as a crime. As such, “tax havens”—those jurisdictions that provide freedom from governmental usurpation—have also been vilified as being somehow criminal because they recognize the basic right of freedom to prosper.
Along the way, we’ve witnessed the creation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a euphemistic appellation that might rightfully be termed the “Organization for Forced Compliance with Arbitrary Taxation Diktat by Powerful Nations.” This US-led organisation has served to periodically threaten freer nations to comply with the less free nations, so that citizens in the latter group cannot escape being stripped of the fruit of their labours. In addition, the US has created the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which is ostensibly intended to enforce taxation of US citizens abroad, but which has been used almost entirely to bilk foreign banks that have US citizens as clients. (Again, the rules are arbitrary and ever-changing, and banks that fail to satisfy the US are fined enormous sums in a rather colossal Mafia-style shakedown.)
Along the way, the US has increasingly created legislation restricting the international movement of money by its people in addition to such a patchwork quilt of laws that every citizen is likely to break several laws each day, simply by existing normally.
All of this is taken for granted as a “given” by both Americans and those of us who view the US from afar. However, we rarely, if ever, take the time to reflect on the fact that, historically, this is nothing new. This is, in fact, quite the norm for an empire in decline. From the latter days of the Roman Empire, such practices (if in a less sophisticated form) have been implemented in order to have a last squeeze of the lemon before economic collapse takes place.
So, what then, in these many instances, has been the deciding factor that ends such draconian usurping of private wealth? Well, in fact, what tends to occur is that enforcement increases serially, right up until the moment when such enforcement can no longer be funded. Sooner or later, the amount that’s being bilked from those who are productive is insufficient to force them to continue to be bilked.
In ancient Rome, once the system had deteriorated to the point that the military was almost entirely mercenary, all that was needed was for the government to fail to provide full, regular payment to the troops. Once “the cheques began to bounce,” the military turned on their former benefactors. In addition to the cessation of enforcement, the military itself was now a threat to the leadership.
And of course, we have seen this in other empires since that time. Even with all the gold that Spain was pulling out of the New World in the 16th century, it wasn’t sufficient to pay for the excessive foreign military adventures of Philip II and eventually the coffers ran dry, collapsing his ability to even maintain control at home. When even the interest on the debt could not be serviced, the ability to maintain control not only ceased to advance—it went into reverse.
Whenever the ability to enforce draconian legislation goes into decline, the people of a nation suddenly realise that they’ve been living in fear of a paper tiger. It doesn’t take long before some people choose to defy the system. When they’re seen to succeed, others follow in droves.
So, what does this say of the US and its power? Well, as Doug Casey has been known to say, “Countries fall from grace with remarkable speed.” Quite so.
On an international level, this means that international leaders will be watching the economic decline of the US closely. Countries such as China and Russia have been loading up on precious metals in preparation for a collapse in fiat currency. In addition, they’ve created their own version of the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and have been hard at work inking deals with other nations for international settlement in currencies other than the dollar.
Most people in the world today cannot remember a time before Bretton Woods, yet they may soon witness the Bretton Woods agreement becoming a dead duck.
But, if we extend this premise, we also should be questioning the other constructs of the postwar period that have become dinosaurs. What of the United Nations? This organisation was once meant to be a body for arbitration and world planning, but has in latter decades become a quagmire of bickering and gainsaying—with its decisions rarely being adopted by the nations in question. And yet the US alone pays some $8 billion annually to keep the UN afloat. Surely, when the world at large ceases its willingness to carry further US debt, the US government will jettison the expense for the UN before it cuts either its military spending or its entitlement programmes.
Similarly, NATO, which requires $2.8 billion annually (with only five of its 28 members currently meeting the recommended payments) would experience a similar fate.
With the above entities heading south, the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which has since 1992 been the basis of US aggression policy, would become unachievable.
In addition to the decline or cessation of the above international adventurism, enforcement of revenue pursuit in the guise of FATCA and OECD schemes would equally suffer from a loss of funding. It would not be a question of whether the empire still wished to squeeze the lemon more than ever before—it would. But once the funds to do so dried up, the US and EU would find themselves in the situation that we currently observe in Venezuela: The money to pay for the enforcement is simply not there anymore. The decline would begin with bounced cheques, followed by massive layoffs in the enforcement departments, followed by a decline in receipts, necessitating further layoffs, and continuing in a downward spiral.
At present, countless people live in fear of the present empires and their ever-increasing efforts at usurpation. However, as history shows, once debt has reached its nadir and begins its rapid fall, so does the empire’s ability to enforce draconian confiscations.
Published:2/7/2017 3:18:05 AM
Casey Anthony Participated in An Anti-Trump March to Mar-a-Lago
The post Casey Anthony Participated in An Anti-Trump March to Mar-a-Lago appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
Published:2/6/2017 9:22:15 PM
Ten Democratic Senators Voting on Neil Gorsuch Stand for Re-Election in States That Trump Won, or Nearly Won, in 2018
There is some risk of walking the plank for the lunatics. The Senate Democrats who are likely to sweat this vote include Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly...
Published:2/6/2017 2:45:38 PM
Switzerland's Gold Exports To China Surge To 158 Tons In December
Switzerland's Gold Exports To China Surge To 158 Tonnes In December
Switzerland's gold bullion exports to China saw a huge jump in December, climbing to 158 tons versus a much lower 30.6 tons in November - a jump of 416%.
According to Eddie van der Walt as reported on the Bloomberg terminal this morning, total Swiss gold exports surged to 287.6 tons in December (valued at CHF 10.8b) according to data on the website of the Swiss Federal Customs Administration.
Switzerland's gold exports had already been very robust in November coming in at 191.4 tons. This means that total Swiss gold exports rose by over 50% from November to December due to global and particularly Chinese demand. Another indication of this global gold demand is that Swiss gold imports increased to 323.6 tons vs 220.5 tons - likely due to refinery demand and investors opting to store gold in Switzerland.
There was increased demand from China ahead of the Chinese New Year and due to concerns about the continuing devaluation of the yuan. This accounts for much of the rise but uncertainty regarding the election of President Trump may also have contributed to the strong rise in Swiss gold exports.
Gold exports to China in December "were the highest since at least January 2014" according to Bloomberg. Most of the exports to China are in the form of investment grade gold bars in the one kilogramme gold bar format which is used by Chinese investors, institutions, exchange traded funds (ETF) and indeed the Shanghai Gold Exchange.
Gold "exports to India dropped to 20.6 tons vs 63.2 tons in November and shipments to Hong Kong fell to 38 tons vs 45.8 tons."
Gold bullion imports from the U.K. jumped to 148 tons vs 48.4 tons meaning that Swiss gold imports from the U.K. "were the highest since December 2015." The London gold market continues to see outflows as gold continues to move from the London gold market to strong hands in China via the Swiss refineries. There are also flows to retail and high net worth investors including companies and family offices choosing to store gold in Switzerland and other safer jurisdictions.
Gold and Silver Bullion - News and Commentary
Dow Tops 20,000 as Earnings Feed Rally, Bonds Fall (Bloomberg.com)
Dow Jones ends above 20,000 for first time (RTE.ie)
Gold steadies near 1-1/2-week lows, equities rally pressures (Reuters.com)
Gold ETF Lures Most Money Since ‘12 as Europe Frets on Trump (Bloomberg.com)
Investors pile into gold as Trump signals weaker dollar (Nikkei.com)
Rubin’s mantra of “a strong dollar’ is retooled for the Trump era (MarketWatch.com)
Gold smashed on eve of options expiration - GATA (Gata.org)
Ireland's gold reserves - Basic information concealed (TheDailyCoin.org)
Doug Casey: Comparing the 1930s and Today (InternationalMan.com)
Three days in and Trump has already kept one pledge (PaulCraigRoberts.org)
Gold Prices (LBMA AM)
26 Jan: USD 1,191.55, GBP 945.14 & EUR 1,111.95 per ounce
25 Jan: USD 1,203.50, GBP 956.90 & EUR 1,119.62 per ounce
24 Jan: USD 1,213.30, GBP 972.22 & EUR 1,130.07 per ounce
23 Jan: USD 1,213.75, GBP 974.03 & EUR 1,130.12 per ounce
20 Jan: USD 1,199.10, GBP 974.87 & EUR 1,127.03 per ounce
19 Jan: USD 1,203.35, GBP 976.76 & EUR 1,129.34 per ounce
18 Jan: USD 1,212.50, GBP 984.91 & EUR 1,134.78 per ounce
17 Jan: USD 1,217.50, GBP 1,003.59 & EUR 1,141.65 per ounce
16 Jan: USD 1,202.75, GBP 997.56 & EUR 1,135.40 per ounce
Silver Prices (LBMA)
26 Jan: USD 16.86, GBP 13.39 & EUR 15.71 per ounce
25 Jan: USD 16.93, GBP 13.46 & EUR 15.74 per ounce
24 Jan: USD 17.10, GBP 13.73 & EUR 15.92 per ounce
23 Jan: USD 17.14, GBP 13.78 & EUR 15.97 per ounce
20 Jan: USD 16.89, GBP 13.73 & EUR 15.87 per ounce
19 Jan: USD 16.95, GBP 13.75 & EUR 15.89 per ounce
18 Jan: USD 17.12, GBP 13.93 & EUR 16.01 per ounce
17 Jan: USD 17.00, GBP 13.91 & EUR 15.87 per ounce
16 Jan: USD 16.82, GBP 13.94 & EUR 15.87 per ounce
13 Jan: USD 16.76, GBP 13.76 & EUR 15.74 per ounce
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- Gold Lower Before Trump Presidency – Strong Gains Akin To After Obama Inauguration
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Published:1/26/2017 4:11:46 PM
Fakewood EXPOSED: Where Fake News began
With the internet rife with "Fake News" - Fake Profiles, fake comments, and fake just about everything; let's do what an intelligence analyst should do (that is, analyze and not just do whatever his client pays him to do). And, the first step before collecting current information is to understand the history. In our case, the history of "Fake News" in USA at least, goes back to the days of WW1 (that's World War 1) and became mainstream, during WW2. Fake News as they are calling it, has since then been part of an information arsenal in any ground based propaganda campaign, even before the days of Edward Bernays. Taking the most basic first step, let's look at Wikipedia under the entry "Propaganda":
The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down (guns, gunpowder, cannons, steel, etc.), the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens". The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.
While they 'abandoned' the use of 'Propaganda' this later became 'marketing' - geniuses like Edward Bernays would then come into play, with their understanding of psychological nuances that can split hairs on fleas. Use of the English language in particular, combined with hidden images in photography, and other dirty tricks, can lull any average IQ citizen into believing whatever the campaign says. Take a look at what "Propaganada" used to look like:
OK, it was WW1 but still, they've come a long way, baby!
Today's Propaganda is 3d in real time. The CIA has video technology by the way, rumored to be used to make Bin Laden videos when they knew he was dead, that could create a lifelike "Bin Laden" or whatever character to speak and say what they type in real time in 3d (but actually it's broadcast on 2d, making it look all that more realistic).
This article is about Propaganda you say? What are some "Fake News" events of the day, back in the day?
Orsen Wells War of the Worlds Alien Invasion
Fake News started World War 1 - "Zimmerman Telegram"
Fake News "Weapons of Mass Destruction Found in Iraq" remember that one?
Here's an NY Times history of "Fake News" although they are not the most credible news agency to create such a list, being guitly of peddling it themselves.
The real "Fake News" industry however, began in Hollywood, California.. around the time of WW2 and continues to this day. It was the epic creation of creative producers, filmed at the big studios. One secret agreement it's rumored:
"If you can help us fake the moon landing, we'll put one of yours in the White House [Ronald Reagan]" - unknown CIA agent.
The amount of Propaganda and Fake News created by Hollywood in that time is so large, there's an entire topic on the subject here, with many films listed on a list "Allied Propaganda Films". You see, during that time, Propaganda was considered a good thing, because it was 'good for the country' to 'help people realize' how important it was to go to war! It wasn't until the 60's when the youth started to 'tune in, drop out' that the dark side of Propaganda was exposed for what it was. And with all the Nazi scientists now living and working in the USA, there wasn't any 'evil empire' anymore, so it was soon realized that 'our good propaganda' was not much different than Hitler's 'evil' propaganda except that of course, it was in English.
Hollywood's connection to Washington is explained well in films like "Wag the Dog" and we elaborated on that in this article here on Zero Hedge. But it goes MUCH DEEPER than that. Where to begin?
In every major newsroom in America, major meaning like the biggies like CNN not your local weather channel - there's a paid CIA/NSA employee sitting near the editor keeping an eye on the content. They send out daily 'talking points' to journalists to include certain 'keywords' in their speech. This was used during the election in full force.
In films, especially those about business, war, the government, or rights issues - there's always a 'military consultant' who is again, part of the same department, at CIA/NSA.
Have you noted recently, in Hollywood films, and TV series - over the last few years there's been a large amount of "Russian/Ukrainian" villians and they're always bad people? As 10 years ago it was always Mussamad Bin Galafi Turban? That's because the Terrorist script has run it's course, now that Bin Laden was 'killed' in spirit anyway, new enemies needed to foment, and the new enemies are Russians. Hollywood contributed more to the anti-Russian sentiment in America now than the current 'Fake News' about the Russian hacking.
How it works. 90% of Americans have a TV and watch it, even if they don't (it's on in the house). Maybe the kids watch a show, or movie - there's a Russian character who is evil, horrible, person. He speaks with a deep, rough, raspy voice as if he just finished his third pack of smokes for the day, hasn't shaven, and uses foul language. It's a character anyone would hate! And truely, the character is portrayed as a terrible person, people should hate him. That's how Television "Programming" works. So then weeks later, on CNN they broadcast "Russia Hacks the DNC" and the unsuspecting parent, not consciously knowing what is going on in their subconscious mind, thinks "Oh, I know the type, like in this film. Dirty Scoundrels!"
Don't take our word for it, listen to Larry Johnson, retired CIA:
US animosity directed at Russia is misdirected anger, said Larry Johnson, retired CIA and State Department official. The propaganda plays upon the ignorance of US people, who know little of Russia and the history of its relations with the US, he added.
Even the MSM picked up on this, asking in 2014 "Why are RUSSIANS always the bad guys?"
From a sadistic former KGB operative in The Avengers to the Russian evildoers in A Good Day to Die Hard, there’s certainly been no shortage of Russian villains on screen recently. Russian politicians and filmmakers have now made clear their displeasure with the US movie industry’s ongoing depictions of Russian characters as villains. There has even been the threat of a Russian boycott of Hollywood movies, highlighting the risk studios take when they demonise a nationality.
And finally - "Thrillist" of all publications put a timeline on it, yes, it started in 2010. "Why are Russians the greatest Villians of all time?"
Since 2010 alone, Russian bad guys have appeared in such action flicks as John Wick, The Equalizer, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The November Man, A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher, Limitless, Salt, The Drop, and The Tourist. Hell, even The Muppets piled on with Tina Fey's gulag guard in Muppets Most Wanted. And this month we have two more: the Casey Affleck vehicle Triple 9, featuring the Russian mob, and Zoolander 2, featuring what appears to be a Russian Kristen Wiig.
It's one year before the official 'capture' Fake News event regarding Bin Laden. You see, Bin Laden was like the Villian of a big comic book story, so the Hollywood script writers knew that there would be no replacing Bin Laden. He was just bigger than life. So they needed to plant the seeds while they planned operation capture & kill Bin Laden.
Connect the dots - it's not so hard! Hollywood, or should we call it FakeWood, has been the Prime Mover of the "Fake News" movement.
For some FREE documents and tools about how the CIA/NSA operates with Hollywood, checkout Global Intel Hub's Library.
To learn how this impacts the markets, checkout Splitting Pennies - Understanding Forex. Learn how big news agencies create "Fake News" that drops the Great British Pound - only to make a few quid!
Published:1/22/2017 9:09:42 PM
Doug Casey Warns "Every American Needs To Be Concerned Right Now"
Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,
Making The Chicken Run, Part 1
“Making the chicken run” is what Rhodesians used to say about neighbors who packed up and got out during the ’60s and ’70s, before the place became Zimbabwe. It was considered “unpatriotic” to leave Rhodesia. But it was genuinely idiotic not to.
I’ve written many times about the importance of internationalizing your assets, your mode of living, and your way of thinking. I suspect most readers have treated those articles as they might a travelogue to some distant and exotic land: interesting fodder for cocktail party chatter, but basically academic and of little immediate personal relevance.
I’m directing these comments toward the U.S. mainly because that’s where the problem is most acute, but they’re applicable to most countries.
Now, in 2017, the U.S. is in real trouble. Not as bad as Rhodesia 40 years ago—and definitely a different kind of trouble—but plenty serious. For many years, it’s been obvious that the country was eventually going to hit the wall, and now the inevitable is rapidly becoming imminent.
What do I mean by that? There’s plenty of reason to be concerned about things financial and economic. But I personally believe we haven't been bearish enough on the eventual social and political fallout from the Greater Depression. Nothing is certain, but the odds are high that the U.S. is going into a time of troubles at least as bad as any experienced in any advanced country in the last century.
I hate saying things like that, if only because it sounds outrageous and inflammatory and can create a credibility gap. It invites arguments with people, and although I enjoy discussion, I dislike arguing.
It strikes most people as outrageous because the long-running post-WWII boom has been punctuated only by brief recessions. After 70 years, why should it ever end? The thought of a nasty end certainly runs counter to the experience of almost everyone now alive—including myself—and our personal experience is what we tend to trust most. But it seems to me we're very close to a tipping point. Ice stays ice even while it’s being warmed—until the temperature goes over 32° F, where it changes very quickly into something very different.
First, the Economy
That point—economic bankruptcy accompanied by financial chaos—is quickly approaching for the U.S. government. With deficits over a trillion dollars per year for as far as the eye can see, the U.S. Treasury will very soon be unable to roll over its maturing debt at anything near current interest rates. The only reliable buyer will be the Federal Reserve, which can buy only by creating new dollars.
Within the next 24 months, the dollar is likely to start losing value rapidly and noticeably. Foreigners, who own over 6 trillion of them (including T-bills and other IOUs), will start panicking to dump them. So will Americans. The dollar bond market, today worth $40 trillion, will be devastated by much higher interest rates, a rapidly depreciating dollar, and an epidemic of defaults.
And that will be just the start of the trouble. Since the U.S. property market floats on a sea of debt (and is easy to tax), it’s also going to be hit very hard, again, this time by stifling mortgage rates. The next step is up for interest rates. Forget about property owners paying their existing mortgages; many won’t be able to pay their taxes and utilities, and maintenance will be out of the question.
The pain will spread. Insurance companies are invested mostly in bonds and real estate; many will go bankrupt. The same is true of most pension funds. If the stock market doesn’t collapse, it will only be because money is looking for a place to hide from inflation. The payout for Social Security will drop significantly in real terms, if not in dollars. The standard of living of most Americans will fall.
This rough sequence of events has happened in many countries in recent decades, and they’ve survived the tough times. But it has the potential, at least in relative terms, to be more serious in the U.S. than it was in Argentina, Brazil, Serbia, Russia, Mozambique, or Zimbabwe for two main reasons.
First, many people in those countries knew they couldn’t trust their government and acted accordingly, even in contravention of the law, by accumulating assets elsewhere. So, there was a significant pool of capital available for rebuilding. Americans, on the other hand, tend to be much more insular, law-abiding, and trusting in their government. When they lose their U.S. assets, they'll have lost everything.
Second, those societies were significantly more rural than the U.S. is today. As in the America of 100 years ago, much of the population lived quite close to the land and had practical skills and habits that helped them get through the tough times. For 21st-century Americans, it's a different story. Shortages and disorder are going to hit commuters who live in suburbs, and urban dwellers who think milk appears in cartons magically, like a ton of bricks.
One thing you can absolutely count on is that everyone will look to the government to “do something.” Americans really do think governments control the way the world works. Another certainty is that the U.S. government will “step in” massively, because everyone will want them to, and the politicians themselves believe they should. This will greatly aggravate the crisis and make it last much longer than necessary.
Then It Gets Serious
But that’s just over the short run. The long run is much more serious because the next chapter of the Greater Depression has every chance of radically, and at least semi-permanently, overturning the basic character of American life. Ice turned to water—suddenly and unexpectedly—in Russia in 1918, Germany in 1933, China in 1949, Vietnam in 1954, Cambodia in 1975, and Rwanda in 1995. Those are just the first examples that come to mind. There are scores more.
The economic events I’ve outlined are going to mean serious hardship and unpleasantness for many people. But that doesn't concern me nearly as much as the social and political reaction.
* * *
Doug says we're on the edge of a genuine precipice. The economy is crumbling… and there's a good chance things will only get worse. This is exactly why Doug and his team put together a time-sensitive video explaining how it could all go down. A financial shock far greater than 2008 could strike America during Trump's first 100 days in office. It could either wipe out a big part of your savings... or be the fortune-building opportunity of a lifetime. Click here to watch it now.
Published:1/21/2017 7:32:57 PM
Ben Affleck on writing his own sex scenes: 'Why else go into directing?'
He also talked about his brother Casey Affleck's recent success.
Published:1/13/2017 8:40:01 AM
[Entertainment and Hobbies]
WATCH: World’s Largest Homemade Drone – Casey Neistat
Casey discusses the drone he used to make the original flying snowboarder video. And, here’s the entire original video:
Published:12/24/2016 7:55:42 AM
[American people of German descent]
Doug Casey Warns "We're Going To Have Financial Chaos... It's A Dangerous Situation"
Submitted by Mac Slavo via SHTFPlan.com,
Doug Casey is the founder of Casey Research and well known for his forecasting prowess, having accurately called the crash of 2008 and many other trends over the last four decades. In his latest interview with Future Money Trends Casey explains what a Donald Trump Presidency will mean for financial markets, economic stimulus, and geo-politics. As he’s noted previously, 2008 was just the first part of the storm and we are rapidly approaching the trailing edge of the hurricane. This time around it’s going to last much longer and be much worse than what we experienced before.
In short, as Casey succinctly explains:
The one thing I feel very confident of is we’re going to have financial chaos in years to come and that’s going to drive people into gold and to a lesser degree into silver.
There’s absolutely no reason from fundamental point of view for bonds and stocks to be as high as they are right now… We’re in for a huge political, financial, demographic and military upset… these people might start World War III or seem like they’re trying to with the Russians… It’s a very dangerous situation.
(Watch At Youtube)
With Donald Trump set to take office in late January 2017, Casey believes his infrastructure initiatives will be a boon for the commodities industry:
I really believe him. I think that they’re going to push for doing lots of infrastructure in the U.S. and that’s going to take a lot of metals, so that’s a favorable short-term influence for metals… I can be talked into buying a copper or zinc or cobalt stock, but I want to stick with gold… and also uranium… I really think that the future of power generation is going to be in solar related things…. but at the present moment, by far the cheapest, the cleanest and the safest form of mass power generation is still nuclear… that’s exactly the opposite of what everybody is told… but especially if we have a de-regulated environment in the future, nuclear is going to do well… There are about 150 new nuclear plants under construction around the world… most of them in China and India… I’m very bullish on uranium… it’s selling below the cost of production.
But despite President Trump’s best efforts, says Casey, he won’t be able to stop the bloodbath coming in the bond market, a preview of which has been available for all to view in China, where the government halted trading last week following a record bond market crash.
People forget that the last peak in interest was between 1980-1982 when T-Bills were yielding over 16%… since then interest rates have been in a 35 year bear market going to below zero, which i thought was metaphysically impossible… So, interest rates are going to go up… Low interest rates and negative interest rates are actually destructive of capital and civilization because it discourages people from savings.
It doesn’t matter what these stupid governments do… interest rates are headed up… and I think they’re headed way up for a long time at this point… so if you own bonds sell them… hit the bid.
Ever the skeptic when it comes to information, disinformation and misinformation emanating from the mainstream media, Casey warns that the narratives being spun to divide Americans are dangerous to the stability of the nation and could lead to civil war:
Published:12/22/2016 3:03:07 AM
It’s extremely serious.. The real fake news is what you hear on CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox… I don’t trust anything I hear… the mass media is basically the mouthpiece of the deep state… these people that have the money and have the power and basically treat the rest of the country as peons… they’re very dangerous… I actually think that the U.S. is on the ragged edge of a civil war… because the people that elected Trump are hated on a visceral level by the preachers that are around the Democratic Party and the Deep State, and that includes Republicans…
A Voice In The Wilderness?
Submitted by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
In 2007, Vladimir Putin spoke at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy. Far from being a diatribe, Mister Putin spoke eloquently and without the bluster that we tend to expect from political leaders.
He began by stressing the need for all countries to benefit within the global economy, overcoming poverty, maintaining economic security and developing an ongoing dialogue. He then addressed the increasing threat of warfare in the world, quoting American President Franklin Roosevelt as having said, “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.”
He warned against a “unipolar” world and aspirations of world supremacy by a single uber-government, saying,
However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to…one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making… And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within. And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority.
Incidentally, Russia—we—are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves. I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today's…world...the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation… Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems. Moreover, they have caused new human tragedies and created new centres of tension. Judge for yourselves: wars as well as local and regional conflicts have not diminished…even more are dying than before.
He goes on to describe the growing US disdain for the basic principles of international law, stating pointedly that,
One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?
Of course, it’s true that, worldwide, there’s growing concern that the US sees itself as the world’s policeman—providing largesse to those governments that kowtow to US interests, whilst attacking those that don’t. It claims that it does so to make the world “safe for democracy” yet, in recent years, it has invaded more countries than ever before in its history, destroying well-functioning governments and replacing duly-elected leaders with puppet governments or, worse, with nothing at all.
Mister Putin goes on to state that,
of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe… Moreover, significantly new threats…have appeared, and today threats such as terrorism have taken on a global character. I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security. And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue. Especially since the international landscape is so varied and changes so quickly—changes in light of the dynamic development in a whole number of countries and regions…
The need for principles such as openness, transparency and predictability in politics is uncontested and the use of force should be a really exceptional measure, comparable to using the death penalty in the judicial systems of certain states. However, today we are witnessing the opposite tendency, namely a situation in which countries that forbid the death penalty even for murderers and other dangerous criminals are airily participating in military operations that are difficult to consider legitimate. And as a matter of fact, these conflicts are killing people—hundreds and thousands of civilians!…
[I]t represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our Western partners made?
Mister Putin also describes the opportunism by the US to profit from aggression, saying,
one hand distributes charitable help and the other hand not only preserves economic backwardness but also reaps the profits thereof. The increasing social tension in depressed regions inevitably results in the growth of radicalism, extremism, feeds terrorism and local conflicts. And if all this happens in, shall we say, a region such as the Middle East where there is increasingly the sense that the world at large is unfair, then there is the risk of global destabilisation.
It is obvious that the world's leading countries should see this threat. And that they should therefore build a more democratic, fairer system of global economic relations, a system that would give everyone the chance and the possibility to develop… But this does not mean interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and especially not imposing a regime that determines how these states should live and develop. It is obvious that such interference does not promote the development of democratic states at all. On the contrary, it makes them dependent and, as a consequence, politically and economically unstable…
Russia is a country with a history that spans more than a thousand years and has practically always used the privilege to carry out an independent foreign policy. We are not going to change this tradition today. At the same time, we are well aware of how the world has changed and we have a realistic sense of our own opportunities and potential. And of course we would like to interact with responsible and independent partners with whom we could work together in constructing a fair and democratic world order that would ensure security and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all.
Mister Putin’s words in 2007 were those of the leader of one of the world’s greatest powers, yet his tone (as the reader can attest after reading his words) was that of a leader seeking mutual respect, partnership and cooperation. His message rings true today, yet the US government has consistently sought to present him to the American people as a tyrant—one who seeks dominance over other jurisdictions, when, in fact, it is the US that has been the world’s foremost aggressor.
Since this speech was made, the US has annually either continued or increased its aggression against sovereign nations and duly-elected leaders. There can be little doubt that the danger that the US government is placing the American people in is reckless in the extreme. Were the American people to view Mister Putin’s speeches nightly on their televisions, in place of endless rants from neocons with ties to the military–industrial complex, it’s altogether likely that they’d favour backing off rather than pursuing more mischief abroad.
Unfortunately, Mister Putin’s speeches are never heard by the vast majority of Americans, which ensures that they’ll be left in the dark. Just as Americans have been tricked into endorsing past military adventures from the Spanish–American War onward, we can expect that, given enough prodding, they will once again concede that, although they do not seek further aggression, the media and the government have demonstrated that it’s “necessary.”
Although Mister Putin’s speeches are not heard in America, it’s important to note that they are heard by the rest of the world. Those of us who are not American and live outside the US have greater access to balanced reporting on world events and, like Mister Putin, we fear the unparalleled interference by the US government.
To us, he seems at present to be a voice in the wilderness—countering the US when necessary, but repeatedly seeking peaceful solutions, only to be rebuffed by the US government time and time again—presented as an evil warmonger.
History is replete with the tales of empires that sought to gobble up the world—to subject all people to the whims and dictates of one central government. Never has this been truer than today, when so many American leaders have touted the supposed necessity of a “One World Government” or “New World Order” in which the US reigns supreme.
Historically, each of these empires has gone through a period when its power base spread dramatically, yet each one, in turn, collapsed through excessive warfare on numerous fronts, coupled with increasing debt at home. In each case, the empires have collapsed under their own weight and, in so doing, found themselves without allies, as the world breathed a sigh of relief at the downfall of the latest Goliath.
When this comes to pass with regard to the US empire, Mister Putin’s pleas for each country to have had the freedom to decide its own fate will be remembered. He will cease to be a voice in the wilderness and will be remembered as a statesman.
It is eternally true that our loyalty and patriotism should not be bestowed upon any particular government simply because we were born there.
* * *
Unfortunately most people have no idea what really happens when a government goes out of control, let alone how to prepare… The coming economic and political collapse is going to be much worse, much longer, and very different than what we’ve seen in the past. That’s exactly why New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent video. Click here to watch it now.
Published:12/21/2016 1:34:02 AM
The CIA, Washington Post, And Russia: What You're Not Being Told
Submitted by Carey Wedler via TheAntiMedia.org,
According to an unsubstantiated article by the Washington Post, anonymous CIA officials have confirmed that the Russian government hacked the United States election to favor Donald Trump. Though it’s entirely possible the Russian government attempted to influence the election, the Post has been widely criticized — for the second time in a month — for its failure to follow basic journalistic practices. Nevertheless, the narrative is sticking.
But the outlet’s behind-the-scenes relationship with the CIA is nothing new. In 2013, a conflict of interest arose shortly after Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, purchased the newspaper. As the Nation reported at the time:
“[Jeff Bezos] recently secured a $600 million contract from the CIA. That’s at least twice what Bezos paid for the Post this year. Bezos recently disclosed that the company’s Web-services business is building a ‘private cloud’ for the CIA to use for its data needs.”
As this occurred, a petition calling on the Washington Post to disclose its new ties to the CIA when reporting on the agency garnered 30,000 signatures. According to the RootsforAction petition:
“The Post often does reporting on CIA activities. The coverage should include full disclosure that the owner of the Washington Post is also the main owner of Amazon — and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.”
Robert McChesney of the Institute for Public Accuracy pointed out the glaring conflict of interest:
“If some official enemy of the United States had a comparable situation—say the owner of the dominant newspaper in Caracas was getting $600 million in secretive contracts from the Maduro government—the Post itself would lead the howling chorus impaling that newspaper and that government for making a mockery of a free press. It is time for the Post to take a dose of its own medicine.”
In its most recent article on the CIA’s claims of a Russian hack, the Post made no mention of its ties to the CIA. But while this connection calls into serious question the validity of a newspaper that claims to be a purveyor of “great journalism,” the connections are not enough to prove nefarious collaboration.
Unfortunately, however, history reveals actual collusion between the CIA and news outlets, including the Washington Post.
In 1977, Carl Bernstein, a former Post journalist, wrote about the CIA’s efforts to infiltrate the news media, often with the assistance of top management at the papers. In total, Bernstein reported, over 400 journalists were involved:
“Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services—from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go?betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners, distinguished reporters who considered themselves ambassadors without?portfolio for their country…In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.”
Though Bernstein failed to name the Post as an offender in his article, according to Tim Weiner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the CIA worked directly with the Washington Post, among many other outlets. In his comprehensive history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, Weiner wrote of the CIA’s first official chief, Allen Dulles:
“Dulles kept in close touch with the men who ran the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the nation’s leading weekly magazines. He could pick up the phone and edit a breaking story, make sure an irritating foreign correspondent was yanked from the field, or hire the services of men such as Time’s Berlin bureau chief and Newsweek’s man in Tokyo.”
“It was second nature for Dulles to plant stories in the press. American newsrooms were dominated by veterans of the government’s wartime propaganda branch, the Office of War Information.”
Dulles’ tenure lasted throughout the 1950s, and in 1954, for example, papers like the Washington Post and the New York Times promoted the narrative that Guatemala’s democratically-elected leader had ties to the Soviet Union and needed to be dealt with accordingly. The American news media helped create public support for a coup covertly backed by the CIA (interestingly, the Times also recently came out with an anonymously-sourced article claiming the CIA has determined Russia hacked the election). At the time, Frank Wisner, chair of the CIA’s Directorate of Plans — and whom Bernstein named as a key operator in the CIA’s relationship with news outlets — directly praised the Post’s piece.
Given this historical relationship, it’s no surprise that the Post and CIA have worked together in more recent decades.
In the 1990s, then-CIA Director Bill Casey appointed a man named Max Hugel as chief of the clandestine service, a small department within the CIA. But some agents disagreed with the appointment. Weiner explained:
“They dug up dirt on him, fed it to the Washington Post, and forced him out in less than two months.”
Whether or not the Post knew it was being used as a tool of intrigue by agents within the CIA is of little consequence. At best, they acted as “useful idiots” for schemers within the agency; at best, they knowingly aided the internal machinations of a spy agency.
The Post again served as a platform for warring factions within the CIA during the Bush years, when agents rebelled against Porter Goss, the director who replaced George Tenet after he resigned. Goss had vowed to repair the agency’s broken reputation but angered other agents with his seemingly radical approach. According to Weiner, agents took to the Los Angeles Times to criticize Goss (the Los Angeles Times recently faced backlash after one of its journalists was caught sharing stories with CIA agents before publication). The agents also took to the Washington Post to smear Goss:
“John McLaughin, who had held the agency together as acting director after Tenet’s resignation, delivered another riposte. The CIA was not ‘a dysfunctional and rogue agency,’ he wrote in the Washington Post. ‘The CIA was not institutionally plotting against the president.’”
Weiner notes that “in all the years that the agency had been battered in the press, never had the director been attacked in print, on the record, by the most senior veterans of American intelligence.”
The CIA also used its power in the media to silence a story published in the 1990s regarding the agency’s potential involvement in drug trafficking and the emergence of crack cocaine in black communities. Journalist Gary Webb had written an explosive investigative piece linking the agency to Contra fighters and the domestic drug market. Though the piece had shortcomings and reported on some already known information, as Peter Kornbluh of the Columbia Journalism Review noted, it was able to “revisit a significant story that had been inexplicably abandoned by the mainstream press, report a new dimension to it, and thus put it back on the national agenda where it belong[ed].”
Six weeks after the story broke, the CIA’s PR machine struck back. The Intercept notes the “CIA watched these developments closely, collaborating where it could with outlets who wanted to challenge Webb’s reporting.”
The Intercept summarized the account of Nicholas Dujmovic, who was a staffer at the CIA Directorate of Intelligence at the time:
“The agency supplied the press, ‘as well as former Agency officials, who were themselves representing the Agency in interviews with the media,’ with ‘these more balanced stories,’ Dujmovic wrote. The Washington Post proved particularly useful. ‘Because of the Post‘s national reputation, its articles especially were picked up by other papers, helping to create what the Associated Press called a “firestorm of reaction” against the San Jose Mercury News.’ Over the month that followed, critical media coverage of the series (‘balanced reporting’) far outnumbered supportive stories, a trend the CIA credited to the Post, The New York Times, ‘and especially the Los Angeles Times.’”
Given the CIA’s history of using media to accomplish both internal and external political goals, it’s possible — though admittedly wholly unconfirmed — this Post piece on Russia serves as yet another example of the clandestine agency using the paper as a tool to achieve its own ends.
Regardless, the Post continues to treat anonymous statements from the agency as fact, leading the way as countless other mainstream outlets parrot their narrative. Though it’s possible Russia did attempt to intervene in the U.S. election, there is little reason to trust information from an outlet with a history of collaborating with the agency spreading these claims.
Should any actual evidence of Russian hacking be produced, however, it’s likely the Post will be among the first to let us know.
Published:12/20/2016 6:45:40 PM
Doug Casey: "Sell All Your Bonds"
Via Casey Daily Despatch,
[The following essay originally appeared in this month’s issue of The Casey Report.]
So, Trump has won the election. Of course anything can happen between now and his presumed inauguration on January 20. Maybe the Swamp Creatures will succeed in causing a recount in so-called Purple States that could change the number of electors in Hillary’s favor. Maybe they’ll somehow influence Trump electors to vote for Hillary. None of this would have been an issue if Baby Bush II, Jeb, had been the Republican nominee, as was supposed to have happened. It all just shows what a transparent (a word these people love to use) fraud “democracy” has become.
Let the hoi polloi cast a meaningless vote, so they have the illusion of being in control. Instead of seeing themselves as subjects, they’ll think they’re “we the people,” who actually have some say in what happens. That way they’ll pay their taxes willingly, enthusiastically sign on to aggressive wars on the other side of the world against people they know nothing about, and generally do as they’re told. Because it’s supposed to be patriotic. “Democracy” is a much more effective scam for controlling the plebs than kingship or dictatorship.
That said, the Establishment, the Deep State, was genuinely shocked and appalled by Trump’s victory. As Baby Bush the First would have said, they misunderestimated how angry the average voter was. That’s because the Coastal Democratic Elite are totally out of touch with the common man. But they needn’t fret too much. They’ll be re-installed, with a vengeance, in four years.
That will likely be true for two reasons:
Simple demographics. The groups that vote Democrat (e.g., blacks, Hispanics, urban dwellers, immigrants, Millennials) are growing in numbers faster than those who vote Republican. Republicans are older people, and the Boomers (born 1946–1966) and the Silent Generation (1926–1946) are dying off. More people are moving to the cities, and that influences them to vote Democratic. More people (still, idiotically) are pursuing higher education, and that also influences them to vote Democrat.
The Greater Depression. One definition of a depression is a period of time when distortions and misallocations of capital are liquidated. A time when bubbles caused by monetary expansion are popped. A time when unsound businesses fail. I re-emphasize this because the party on whose watch it happens is automatically kicked out. So, the Democrats actually got quite lucky not to be in office when the time bomb goes off. Trump could easily go down as Herbert Hoover II.
What could change things? A serious war, much bigger than the sport wars the US is currently engaged in, is the biggest danger. That’s much less likely with Trump than Hillary, but these things have a life of their own. My guess for the next president is either a left-wing general (because Americans love and trust their military), or a left-wing populist, like Elizabeth Warren.
But that’s crystal balling at this point. Let’s proceed on the assumption Trump is actually going to be the president for at least the next four years. Although problematical, he’s a vast improvement over Hillary. What will it mean for the US and the world? More importantly, what will it mean for your personal finances and freedom? Let’s look at the possibilities.
Bonds—With bonds, we’re at the peak of the biggest financial bubble in world history. This is a very big deal.
Interest rates move in very long cycles. They went up from the mid-1940s to the early ’80s, when long-term government bonds peaked at close to 16%, and T-Bills at over 16%. I thought they hit bottom years ago, but the cycle overshot.
My guess is that they’re headed up in earnest now. And Trump, as someone who understands business (even though he doesn’t understand economics), will likely (I think…) do what he can to send them higher. Why? He understands the country needs to save, to rebuild capital. And higher rates will encourage saving and discourage debt.
The risk is that, with all the debt that’s been put on in the last decade, debtors will be hard-pressed to service it. That includes the USG with $20 trillion of on-balance-sheet debt, and a lot more in the way of off-balance-sheet debt, guarantees, and contingent liabilities. Much of it will be activated if higher rates cause a lot of defaults.
What should you do? Sell all your bonds.
Real Estate—Property, at least in the English-speaking world, floats on a sea of debt. Interest rates go up, real estate prices go down. The economy goes down, so do property prices. Add to that the aging US population, which isn’t good for property; as people age, they downsize. Add to that the fact we’re in another real estate bubble, similar to what we saw in the mid-oughts. After bonds, property is likely the worst place to be. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say the great post–World War II property boom is at an end—but that’s a subject for another time. There’s not much that Trump can do to fix this.
What should you do? Lighten up on property. Make sure any mortgages you keep are at fixed rates.
Stocks—If Trump only follows through with his promise to cut taxes, and eliminate two old regulations for every new one, it would be wonderful for the economy. But the economy and the stock market are two different things; they only correlate over the long run. I suppose he’ll follow through with his promise to build lots of new infrastructure. Government deficits will soar, and only the Fed will be on hand to buy all that new debt.
Infrastructure companies will get a fat slug of the newly printed money. But I find it hard to get enthusiastic for the stock market. In terms of dividends, P/E ratios, or book value, it’s already at one of the highest levels ever. Bear in mind that well-selected stocks can still go up, even if the market as a whole goes down.
That said, I feel more comfortable with shorts than longs at this point.
Gold and Commodities—Frankly, where do you put your money when almost everything is overpriced? Commodities are coming out of a five-year-long bear market. They’re about the only thing that’s cheap. That’s true relative to their cost of production (farmers, ranchers, and miners are breaking even, at best, all over the world). And it’s true relative to their history (they’re down 50% from the peak of 2011).
In other words, commodities are a much safer place for your capital than stocks, bonds, or real estate (excepting agricultural property) for the foreseeable future. The problem is that it’s hard to hold a carload of wheat or ten tonnes of sugar.
Remember that gold and other commodities aren’t “investments.” An investment is something that acts to create new wealth. They’re simply assets. Sometimes they can be excellent speculations. Gold, however, is money, and will remain so long after the US destroys its currency.
I recommend, therefore, that you accumulate gold and silver instead of plunging into conventional investments. Check with the dealers we list in The Gold Book to see who you prefer to work with. [Editor's note: The Gold Book is exclusive to readers of The Casey Report, which you can sign up for at the end of today's essay.] But if you don’t have a significant position in the metals already, please get going.
A final thought. It’s usually a mistake to count on any head of state to make things in a country better. It can certainly happen—as with Erhard in Germany after WW2, Pinochet in Chile, Thatcher in Britain, or even Reagan in the US. Maybe it will be true of Trump. He’s got a much stronger personality than Reagan, for openers. But the bigger and older a State gets, the harder it is to change. It’s comparable to trying to stop a fully loaded supertanker.
Published:12/15/2016 8:43:11 PM
[Randy Barnett] Abandoning Defensive Crouch Conservative Constitutionalism
Back on May 6th on Balkinization, Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet had some advice for “liberals” entitled: Abandoning Defensive Crouch Liberal Constitutionalism. It provides a useful road map to what Democrats had in store for us had Hillary Clinton been elected. But it also serves as a guide to what a conservative Court should–and should not–be doing now that this constitutional bullet has been dodged. So let’s see what Tushnet had to say:
Several generations of law students and their teachers grew up with federal courts dominated by conservatives. Not surprisingly, they found themselves wandering in the wilderness, looking for any sign of hope. The result: Defensive-crouch constitutionalism, with every liberal position asserted nervously, its proponents looking over their shoulders for retaliation by conservatives (in its elevated forms, fear of a backlash against aggressively liberal positions).
I am not sure what “retaliation” he had in mind here. In law schools where there are, at best, a single right-of-center public law professor on the faculty? (At Georgetown Law we now have 3 out of 125, which makes us more diverse than most; Yale has zero.) Generations of law students and their teachers feared “retaliation” from federal courts? This seems like projection to me.
It’s time to stop. Right now more than half of the judges sitting on the courts of appeals were appointed by Democratic presidents, and – though I wasn’t able to locate up-to-date numbers – the same appears to be true of the district courts. And, those judges no longer have to be worried about reversal by the Supreme Court if they take aggressively liberal positions. (They might be reversed, but now there’s no guarantee.) And, we shouldn’t focus on the Court’s docket this year, which was shaped by conservative justices thinking that they could count to five on a bunch of cases. The docket will look quite different if they can’t see that path to five votes when they decide which cases to review.
Yes, despite current complaints about supposed Republican obstruction of Obama administration judicial appointees, Hans von Spakovsky reports that “President Barack Obama has actually had almost the same number of district, appellate, and Supreme Court judges confirmed as George W. Bush did during his entire eight years in office. Indeed, Obama is one up on Bush, 325 confirmations to 324.” And “Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees now occupy 38.19 percent of all federal judgeships — an almost identical percentage to that attained by George W. Bush (38.21 percent) by the end of his presidency.” A runaway progressive inferior federal judiciary unconstrained by the Supreme Court was what we had in store had Senate Republicans not held fast and let the voters decide how to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia, or had voters then decided to elect Hillary Clinton. Tushnet continues:
What would abandoning defensive-crouch liberalism mean? (I’ve blogged about some of these points before.)
1 A jurisprudence of “wrong the day it was decided.” Liberals should be compiling lists of cases to be overruled at the first opportunity on the ground that they were wrong the day they were decided. My own list is Bakke (for rejecting all the rationales for affirmative action that really matter), Buckley v. Valeo (for ruling out the possibility that legislatures could develop reasonable campaign finance rules promoting small-r republicanism), Casey (for the “undue burden” test), and Shelby County. (I thought about including Washington v. Davis, but my third agenda item should be enough to deal with it.) Others will have their own candidates. What matters is that overruling key cases also means that a rather large body of doctrine will have to be built from the ground up. Thinking about what that doctrine should look like is important – more important than trying to maneuver to liberal goals through the narrow paths the bad precedents seem to leave open.
We are about to hear a lot about “judicial minimalism” and adhering to hallowed post-New Deal precedents of SIXTY YEARS OR MORE! (Tushnet himself favored taking the Constitution away from the courts.) And I have long maintained that, beginning with the Rehnquist Court, conservative justices adopted a “this far and no farther, except for…” approach to New Deal precedents (see here). Mainly, the “New Federalism” represented was some special (nonoriginalist) carve outs of post-New Deal federal power for state governments (under the rubric of the 10th and 11th Amendments) and establishing a distant outer boundary on the use of the commerce power. (Wickard v. Filburn et al were left untouched.) This approach could fairly be called “defensive crouch conservative constitutionalism,” when what was really called for was a fearless originalist constitutionalism that adhered scrupulously to the text of the Constitution rather than the texts of New Deal decisions.
As Tushnet helpfully previewed, had Clinton been elected, thirty years of “conservative” tinkering-at-the-margin was going to be swept away and much, much more. No doctrine of stare decisis or “precedent” would have stood in the way. The left side of the Court has never conceded the precedential value of the past 30 years of “conservative” decisions. In constitutional law, the doctrine of stare decisis is a ratchet and ratchets only go one way, and that way is towards increased national power, and delegation to the Administrative-Executive State–qualified only by judicially-selected “fundamental rights” and protected “suspect classes.”
But Tushnet was right in principle. As I have long maintained (see here), the law of the Constitution should take priority over the mistaken rulings of previous justices. What Tushnet and I disagree about is what the Constitution means. He thinks it means progressive results; I think it means what it says. If New Deal, Warren and Burger court decisions were–in Tushnets words–“wrong the day they were decided,” then they should be reversed and replaced by the original meaning of the Constitution itself.
Of course, as I have also insisted, very little of what the Supreme Court does involves applying the original meaning of the Constitution directly to individual cases and controversies. Rather, it develops implementing doctrines or rules–called “constitutional law“–that puts this meaning into effect. Such doctrines rightly evolve over time as new circumstances arise. In this way, constitutional law is evolving and “living” when putting into effect the original meaning of the text. And such doctrines should be followed as precedents by the Supreme Court and by inferior courts until their limitations are revealed by subsequent litigation.
But where the text has itself been misinterpreted, or where doctrine is not implementing the text in good faith–that is, consistent not only with its letter but also with its spirit–then that doctrine should be reversed. This does not mean relitigating and changing the outcomes of previous decisions upholding this program or that agency. Rejecting stare decisis when previous decisions conflict with the Constitution does not mean rejecting res judicata. But it does mean refusing to consider the reasoning of these decisions to be “precedents” to be applied by extension to new cases and controversies arising in the future. (Following precedents in this way is what creates slippery slopes.)
It is high time for conservative justices to follow Tushnet’s advice for progressive judges and reconsider cases they know full well to be in conflict with the Constitution’s original scheme (as amended). If they conflict with the original meaning of the Constitution, these cases were “wrong on the day they were decided.”
2 The culture wars are over; they lost, we won. Remember, they were the ones who characterized constitutional disputes as culture wars (see Justice Scalia in Romer v. Evans, and the Wikipedia entry for culture wars, which describes conservative activists, not liberals, using the term.) And they had opportunities to reach a cease fire, but rejected them in favor of a scorched earth policy. The earth that was scorched, though, was their own. (No conservatives demonstrated any interest in trading off recognition of LGBT rights for “religious liberty” protections. Only now that they’ve lost the battle over LGBT rights, have they made those protections central – seeing them, I suppose, as a new front in the culture wars. But, again, they’ve already lost the war.). For liberals, the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. That’s mostly a question of tactics. My own judgment is that taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all. Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.) I should note that LGBT activists in particular seem to have settled on the hard-line approach, while some liberal academics defend more accommodating approaches. When specific battles in the culture wars were being fought, it might have made sense to try to be accommodating after a local victory, because other related fights were going on, and a hard line might have stiffened the opposition in those fights. But the war’s over, and we won.
While Tushnet attributes the origination of the “culture war” metaphor to Justice Scalia, Scalia was only candidly acknowledging and labeling an already existing “state of war,” not declaring a new one. And in stark contrast with Tushnet, Scalia was faulting judges for taking sides in the culture war taking place outside the courts. Contrary to Scalia, then, Tushnet wants the courts to ram his side of the culture war down the throats of any recalcitrant Americans he calls “losers.” But the Trump victory represents a repudiation of Tushnet’s claim that the culture war has already been won by the Left. The “losers” have struck back.
To be clear, I strongly support the fundamental liberties and equal rights of all, including LGBT. But I also support the liberty of those with different moral and religious views. Moving on:
3 Aggressively exploit the ambiguities and loopholes in unfavorable precedents that aren’t worth overruling. Take Wal-Mart: Confine it to its unusual facts (a huge nation-wide class, a questionable theory of liability), and don’t treat it as having any generative power in other cases. Or Washington v. Davis, which said that disparate racial impact wasn’t enough to trigger strict scrutiny, but that sometimes such an impact could support an inference of impermissible motive: Play the “sometimes” for all its worth. Defensive-crouch liberalism was afraid to be aggressive about the precedents because of a fear of reversal by higher courts. That fear can now be put aside. (Judge Reinhardt’s essay on habeas corpus, in the Michigan Law Review, is an exemplary discussion of how liberals can exploit ambiguities and loopholes.)
Another reminder of what we were going to experience if Clinton won: aggressive progressive constitutionalism nation-wide and at all levels while the Supreme Court looked the other way. But still good advice for conservative judges. ‘Nuff said.
4 Related: Remember that doctrine is a way to empower our allies and weaken theirs. Conservative decisions on class-action arbitration should be understood as part of a long-term project of defunding the left. Much of the current Court’s voting rights jurisprudence strengthens Republican efforts selectively to shrink the electorate. Similarly with campaign finance jurisprudence. I don’t mean that these doctrines are consciously designed by the justices to have those effects, but outsiders – academics and activists – should understand that that’s what they do. (Nor do I mean that the efforts always succeed – see Evenwel for a failure.)
hereas he’s a legal realist and a Crit, I believe in the rule of law, which realists dismiss as “formalism.” So I do not agree with him about politicizing judicial decisions. (While I am a libertarian who makes constitutional claims, I reject the label I am often given as a “libertarian constitutional theorist.” I strive as best I can, however imperfectly, to interpret the Constitution in good faith, subject to the same confirmation biases as everyone else.) Conservative judges should remain above politics in their decision making.
But adhering to the fundamental principles of limited federal powers–which has the effect of empowering states–or the separation of powers–which has the effect of undermining the legitimacy of the progressives’ Administrative-Executive State, is not being “political.” It is following the letter and spirit of the Constitution itself–the parts that have had to be redacted from the text to get constitutional law to confirm with the progressive vision of governance. By the same token, neither should conservatives redact the Ninth Amendment or Privileges or Immunities Clause as they are wont to do because of their distaste for protecting unenumerated liberties like the right to raise your own child as you see fit (which is not expressly stated in the Constitution).
5 Our models are Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, not David Souter or John Marshall Harlan. With some ambivalence I’d add Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the list, the reluctance arising from the fact that her work as a judge has been shaped more than it should be by defensive crouch constitutionalism, particular in her sensitivity to the possibility of backlash. Still, when the votes are there, she’s been much like Brennan and Marshall (personality aside). Famously, Brennan said that he’d been around long enough to know what it was like to win, and what it was like to lose, implying that “this too shall pass,” though it’s taken a long time. (Or, channeling Sophie Tucker [or Mae West, or Beatrice Kaufman], he ‘d been a winner and a loser, and winning is better.)
I don’t have many heroes among past justices and find all to be flawed, so I cannot name many “role models.” But conservatives would do far worse than to follow the first Justice John Marshall Harlan–a Kentucky Republican–who solo-dissented in the Civil Rights Cases and in Plessy v. Ferguson (the way Justice Scalia solo-dissented in Morrison v. Olson). In both cases, Harlan came far closer than the majority to the original meaning of the 13th and 14th Amendments. Even in Lochner, Justice Harlan did not wholly abandon rationality and arbitrariness review under the Due Process of Law clauses altogether. Instead, Harlan placed the burden to show irrationality on the challenger, but a burden that presumably could still be met (as even the New Deal Court reaffirmed in U.S. v. Carolene Products). It was not until the Warren Court that Holmesian fictitious “rational basis review” supplanted rationality and arbitrariness review in Williamson v. Lee Optical, the approach that has been unquestioningly adopted by modern judicial conservatives. (See here)
So far as modern role-models go, Clarence Thomas has been the justice most willing to put the original meaning of the Constitution above previous decisions of the Court. He could use some help.
6 Finally (trigger/crudeness alert), fuck Anthony Kennedy. I don’t mean that liberals should treat him with disrespect. But defensive-crouch liberalism meant not only trying to figure out arguments that would get Kennedy’s apparently crucial vote (not so crucial any more), but also trying to milk his opinions – and more generally, obviously conservative opinions – for doctrines that might be awkwardly pressed into the service of liberal goals. (Think here of how liberal constitutional scholars treated Kennedy’s [truly silly] concurring opinion in Parents Involved [“You can deal with the consequences of segregated housing patterns by locating new school construction carefully” – in districts that are closing rather than building schools], or his “views” about affirmative action, or recasting the Court’s federalism cases as actually good for liberals.) There’s a lot of liberal constitutional scholarship taking Anthony Kennedy’s “thought” and other conservative opinions as a guide to potentially liberal outcomes if only the cases are massaged properly. Stop it. (See agenda items 1 and 3 for how to treat those opinions.)
This is the respect you get from the Left when you bend over backwards to accommodate them. So “stop it.” Just follow the Constitution and stop worrying about the perceived “legitimacy” of the Court. The more you worry about perceived legitimacy, the more you undermine it. And as for Justice Kennedy’s constitutional approach: No justice is more motivated by a commendable commitment to individual liberty than is Justice Kennedy. (See here.) And I, for one, found Justice Kennedy’s concurrence in Parents Involved to be far from silly. Consciously situating schools to foster racial integration in light of existing housing patterns is qualitatively different in principle from labeling students by race and sending them to schools on that basis. Agree or not, dismissing this distinction as “truly silly” is truly silly.
I just wish Justice Kennedy viewed adhering to the original meaning of the text as the best means to the end of protecting that liberty, as well as being the only proper role of judges who have taken an oath to uphold “this Constitution.” But while Justice Kennedy often reaches results that can be justified on originalist grounds, regrettably that has not been his methodology.
Here now are Tushnet’s concluding words:
Of course all bets are off if Donald Trump becomes President. But if he does, constitutional doctrine is going to be the least of our worries.
Perhaps. But if Donald Trump should replace Justice Scalia with a “conservative” who is committed to enforcing the original meaning of the whole Constitution, and nothing but the Constitution–a justice who will abandon “defensive crouch conservative constitutionalism”–perhaps not.
I had a dream in which the conservative justices in the run up to Hillary Clinton’s impending and inevitable victory looked back on 30 years of conservative judicial decisions and–like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol–they suddenly realized it was all going to be for naught. Soon it would be as though it never happened. They got that feeling you get in the pit of your stomachs when you know you’ve messed up.
Then on November 9th, they got what felt like a stay of execution and reprieve. Then, like the Alberta oil men who vowed “Dear God, give us another oil boom and, this time, we promise we won’t piss it away,” in my dream these justices vowed to themselves that, in the future, they would finally do something that could not be reversed overnight by “liberal” judges following Mark Tushnet’s premature advice. They resolved to take the steps necessary to restore our lost Constitution in ways that cannot so easily be reversed when the political worm eventually turns as it always does.
Well, I did say it was a dream.
Published:12/12/2016 8:47:21 AM
Chicago Fire's 100th Episode Has a Major Moment for Dawsey Fans
Dawsey fans, this is your moment. The Chicago Fire 100th episode is pivotal for many characters, but especially for Dawson (Monica Raymund) and Casey (Jesse Spencer) as they share a major moment...
Published:12/6/2016 11:22:48 AM
Tomorrow's Vote In Italy Will Be A "Wide-Ranging F**k Off", And It's Just The Start...
Submitted by Nick Giambruno via InternationalMan.com,
Tomorrow, December 4, Italy is holding a referendum that will determine the fate of the entire European Union.
Donald Trump’s victory—which shocked Europe’s political and media elite—gives the populists backing the “No” side of Italy’s referendum the political rocket fuel they need for a virtually guaranteed win.
That momentum will be all but impossible to reverse. Anti-elite sentiment is rising on both sides of the Atlantic. And I bet the global populist revolution will continue.
If Italians buck the establishment—and it looks like they will—it will clear a path for a populist party to take power and for Italy to exit the euro.
If that happens, the fallout will be catastrophic for global markets. The Financial Times recently put it this way:
An Italian exit from the single currency would trigger the total collapse of the eurozone within a very short period.
It would probably lead to the most violent economic shock in history, dwarfing the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008 and the 1929 Wall Street crash.
If the FT is even partially right, we’re looking at a possible stock market crash of historic proportions. This is why we’re watching the December 4 referendum so closely.
The referendum is meant to concentrate more power in Italy’s central government. On that point alone, everyone should oppose it. The centralization of power never leads to good things.
A “Yes” vote is effectively a vote of confidence in the current pro-EU Italian establishment. This is what the global elite wants.
A “No” vote is how the average Italian can give the finger to the faceless EU bureaucrats in Brussels, whom many blame—quite correctly—for their problems.
Trump’s win has been a double whammy for Italy’s pro-EU establishment.
First, it emboldens the populist forces fighting the referendum.
Second, it humiliates and politically castrates Matteo Renzi, the current Italian prime minister. Renzi took a rare step when he openly endorsed Hillary Clinton. He was the only European leader to do so.
As one of Renzi’s rivals said after Trump’s victory, “Matteo Renzi is politically finished from today, he’s a dead man walking.”
Other Italian politicians are furious that he weakened Italy’s standing with the new Trump administration.
It’s hard to see how Renzi could get himself out of the hole he’s dug.
It Started as a Joke
In 2007, Beppe Grillo, an Italian actor and comedian, launched Vaffanculo Day. “Vaffanculo” is Italian for “f*** off.”
Grillo and his followers used V-Day to bluntly express their displeasure with Italian establishment politicians, using imagery from the movie V for Vendetta.
Now, what started out as a joke has become Italy’s most popular political party…
V-Day helped organize Italians frustrated with their political system. It gave birth to the Five Star Movement, Italy’s new populist political party.
Grillo’s Five Star Movement—or M5S, its Italian acronym—is anti-globalist, anti-euro, and anti-establishment. It doesn’t neatly fall into the left–right political paradigm.
According to the latest polls, M5S is now the most popular party in Italy. It won mayoral elections in Rome and Turin earlier this year.
M5S is riding a wave of populist anger at entrenched political elites over economic stagnation. Italy has had virtually no productive growth since joining the eurozone in 1999.
M5S blames Italy’s chronic lack of growth on the euro. A large plurality of Italians agrees.
M5S has promised to hold a vote to leave the euro and return to Italy’s old currency, the lira, as soon as it’s in power. Under the current circumstances, it would probably pass.
After the Brexit vote and Trump’s win, M5S has joyfully predicted that Renzi will be the next casualty in the global populist revolution.
Grillo recently wrote:
It's crazy. This is the explosion of an era. It's the apocalypse of the media, TV, the big newspapers, the intellectuals, the journalists… This is a wide-ranging F*** off. Trump has pulled off an incredible V-Day… There are similarities between this American story and the Movement.
A “No” vote in the December 4 referendum means M5S could come to power in a matter of months.
Melting Like a Gelato in the August Sun
A populist tsunami is about to wash through Europe. It will drastically change the Continent’s political landscape in a way not seen since before World War II.
This wave will flush away traditional “mainstream” parties and usher in anti-establishment populists who want to leave the European Union.
It’s already hit the UK in the form of Brexit, killing David Cameron’s pro-EU government in the process.
Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, and Greece already have populist, Eurosceptic—or “non-mainstream”—parties in power.
Italy is the next flashpoint.
A “No” vote in Italy is virtually assured at this point.
But it won’t be the end of the anti-elite surge. Voters in Europe’s biggest countries could soon throw out their “mainstream” parties in favor of populist and Eurosceptic alternatives.
Here’s the rundown…
Austria is holding a presidential election, also on December 4. It’s actually a redo of an election held in May, where a populist candidate, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party, barely lost.
Austrian courts found irregularities in the results and ordered a prompt new election. But when opinion polls showed the populist candidate in the lead, the government delayed the vote until December 4, giving a lame excuse about faulty adhesive on absentee ballots. Despite the foot-dragging, Mr. Hofer looks set to win the December 4 vote.
France has a presidential election next spring. There’s a chance that Marine Le Pen, leader of the Eurosceptic National Front party, will do better than many expect. After more than a decade of disappointment under presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, French voters are clamoring for something different.
Spain recently re-elected incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. However, Spanish voters fled traditional political parties en masse for new populist upstarts Podemos and Ciudadanos. So Rajoy was unable to form a majority government.
Rajoy now leads a severely weak minority government. The political power of the Spanish populist parties is only expected to grow.
Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, embodies the European establishment more than any other politician. Her party suffered a series of stinging defeats in regional elections this year, mostly because of her signature lax immigration policies, which have flooded Germany with migrants.
Merkel’s troubles have only helped the Alternative for Germany, a new populist party surging in popularity. The party could pose a real problem for Merkel in the 2017 federal elections.
As the Netherlands approaches elections in March, Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom, which advocates leaving the EU, is basically tied in opinion polls with the establishment parties.
How to Profit from the Tsunami…
As populist, Eurosceptic parties surge, the entire European Union is looking shakier by the day.
One Italian politician correctly put it this way: “The euro is melting away like a gelato left out in the August sun.”
Our thesis for the collapse of the EU not only stands… it’s getting stronger and stronger.
There are potentially severe consequences in the currency and stock markets. We are approaching a global financial meltdown of historical proportions. It could strike America on December 4, 2016, as Italian voters decide the fate of the European Union itself.
It could either wipe out a big part of your savings... or be the fortune-building opportunity of a lifetime.
New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and I just released an urgent video with all the details. Click here to watch it now.
Published:12/3/2016 8:37:11 PM
Crunch Report | Casey Neistat’s Beme Acquired by CNN
Casey Neistat’s Beme gets acquired by CNN, how did Black Friday 2016 do?, getting iCloud spam calendar invites?, Uber China gets its own app and San Francisco’s Muni gets hacked. All this on Crunch Report. Read More
Published:11/28/2016 10:16:00 PM
[Bank of America]
Meet The Real "Fake News"
In its attempt to redirect the public's attention from its historic failure to deliver unbiased, objective, factual reporting in the context of the presidential election in which virtually every single mainstream media outlet was revealed (courtesy of the hacked Podesta emails) and acted as a Public Relations arm for the Clinton campaign, said media has opened a new can of worms by ushering in the topic of "fake news" - a purposefully vague, undefined term meant to deflect and scapegoat by "exposing" propaganda websites, which in the latest incarnation of the narrative, are now allegedly serving to further Russian propaganda in the US.
As we reported earlier, none other than the Washington Post - a company owned by Jeff Bezos, who for the past year has been involved in a famous media spat with president-elect Donald Trump - pounced on a list created by a website that was created (according to its whois profile) on August 21 using godaddy.com as registrar and had its first tweet on November 2, and which among others, lists Drudge Report and Zero Hedge as representatives of "Russian propaganda." This is how the "scientists" at the Goebbels-esque "PropOrNot" describe their qualifications in determining and recommending which websites are fit to be burned (starting with a plea for investigations by the Obama administration) in a post "fake news" world:
PropOrNot is an independent team of computer scientists, statisticians, national security professionals, journalists, and political activists dedicated to identifying propaganda - particularly Russian propaganda targeting a US audience. We collect public-record information connecting propaganda outlets to each other and their coordinators abroad, analyze what we find, act as a central repository and point of reference for related information, and organize efforts to oppose it.
We work to shine a light on propaganda in order to prevent it from distorting political and policy discussions, to strengthen our cultural immune systems against hostile influence, and to improve public discourse generally.
Many of our contributors wish to stay anonymous, in light of possible Russian retaliation, as has happened in Finland and elsewhere.
In other words, while attacking the anonymity of so-called "Russian propaganda" websites (websites which chose to remain anonymous knowing this kind of retaliation was inevitable), the public servants and experts devoted to rooting out Russian propaganda in the US opt, themselves, to remain anonymous.
To be sure, we have no interest in uncovering who may be behind this particular organization (which conveniently stepped in after a similar list was floated last week by a discredited liberal professor, who likewise defined Zero Hedge as "fake news"). We do, want, however to warn readers about who the real source of documented fake news in the US traditionally has been. The US government itself, through its vast espionage and counterespionage apparatus.
But please don't take our word for it.
Back in 1975, the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities found in 1975 that the CIA submitted stories to the American press, and that as part of the CIA's playbook was the usage of disinformation tactics against America's own population:
Question: "Do you have any people being paid by the CIA who are contributing to a major circulation — American journal?"
Answer: "We do have people who submit pieces to American journals."
Question: "Do you have any people paid by the CIA who are working for television networks?"
Answer: "This I think gets into the kind of uh, getting into the details Mr. Chairman that I'd like to get into in executive session."
Question: "Do you have any people being paid by the CIA who are contributing to the national news services — AP and UPI?"
Answer: "Well again, I think we're getting into the kind of detail Mr. Chairman that I'd prefer to handle at executive session."
One can imagine what was said later during the "executive session." Then-CBS President Sig Mickelson goes on to say that the relationships at CBS with the CIA were long established before he ever became president, and that "entirely in order for correspondents to make use of CIA station chiefs and other members of the executive staff of CIA as sources of information."
"I thought that it was a matter of real concern that planted stories intended to serve a national purpose abroad came home and were circulated here and believed here because this would mean that the CIA could manipulate the news in the United States by channeling it through some foreign country," Democratic Idaho Senator Frank Church said at a press conference surrounding the hearing. Church chaired the Church Committee, a precursor to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was responsible for investigating illegal intelligence gathering by the NSA, CIA and FBI.
This exact tactic — planting disinformation in foreign media outlets so the disinfo would knowingly surface in the United States as a way of circumventing the rules on domestic operations — was specifically argued for as being legal simply because it did not originate on U.S. soil by none other than CIA Director William Casey in 1981.
Former President Harry S. Truman, who oversaw the creation of the CIA in 1947 when he signed the National Security Act, later wrote that he never intended the CIA for more than intelligence gathering. "I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations," Truman penned in 1963 a year after the disastrous CIA Bay of Pigs operation.
Of course, there was also the whole "Operation Mockingbird" fiasco:
"After 1953, the network was overseen by Allen W. Dulles, director of the CIA. By this time, Operation Mockingbird had a major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies. The usual methodology was placing reports developed from intelligence provided by the CIA to witting or unwitting reporters. Those reports would then be repeated or cited by the preceding reporters which in turn would then be cited throughout the media wire services. The Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was funded by siphoning off funds intended for the Marshall Plan [i.e. the rebuilding of Europe by the U.S. after WWII]. Some of this money was used to bribe journalists and publishers."
As contributor "George Washington" adds, In 2008, the New York Times wrote:
During the early years of the cold war, [prominent writers and artists, from Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to Jackson Pollock] were supported, sometimes lavishly, always secretly, by the C.I.A. as part of its propaganda war against the Soviet Union. It was perhaps the most successful use of “soft power” in American history.
A CIA operative told then-Washington Post owner - yes, ironic - Philip Graham the following, in a conversation about the willingness of journalists to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories:
You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.
Famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein wrote in 1977:
More than 400 American journalists … in the past twenty?five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters.
In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.
Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were [the heads of CBS, Time, the New York Times, the Louisville Courier?Journal, and Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include [ABC, NBC, AP, UPI, Reuters], Hearst Newspapers, Scripps?Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald?Tribune.
In November 1973, after [the CIA claimed to have ended the program], Colby told reporters and editors from the New York Times and the Washington Star that the Agency had “some three dozen” American newsmen “on the CIA payroll,” including five who worked for “general?circulation news organizations.” Yet even while the Senate Intelligence Committee was holding its hearings in 1976, according to high?level CIA sources, the CIA continued to maintain ties with seventy?five to ninety journalists of every description—executives, reporters, stringers, photographers, columnists, bureau clerks and members of broadcast technical crews. More than half of these had been moved off CIA contracts and payrolls but they were still bound by other secret agreements with the Agency. According to an unpublished report by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Representative Otis Pike, at least fifteen news organizations were still providing cover for CIA operatives as of 1976.
Those officials most knowledgeable about the subject say that a figure of 400 American journalists is on the low side …. “There were a lot of representations that if this stuff got out some of the biggest names in journalism would get smeared” ….
How ironic that in the end it was the Washington Post itself which would get smeared.
* * *
An expert on propaganda testified under oath during trial that the CIA now employs THOUSANDS of reporters and OWNS its own media organizations. Whether or not his estimate is accurate, it is clear that many prominent reporters still report to the CIA.
A 4-part BBC documentary called the “Century of the Self” shows that an American – Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays – created the modern field of manipulation of public perceptions, and the U.S. government has extensively used his techniques.
Former Newsweek and Associated Press reporter Robert Parry notes that Ronald Reagan and the CIA unleashed a propaganda campaign in the 1980’s to sell the American public on supporting the Contra rebels, utilizing private players such as Rupert Murdoch to spread disinformation. Parry notes that many of the same people that led Reagan’s domestic propaganda effort in the 1980’s are in power today:
While the older generation that pioneered these domestic propaganda techniques has passed from the scene, many of their protégés are still around along with some of the same organizations. The National Endowment for Democracy, which was formed in 1983 at the urging of CIA Director Casey and under the supervision of Walter Raymond’s NSC operation, is still run by the same neocon, Carl Gershman, and has an even bigger budget, now exceeding $100 million a year.
* * *
Perhaps the most damning evidence, as highlighted by @pierpont_morgan, can be found inside the Final report of the abovementioned Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, published in Aptil, 1976, in which several sections stand out.
One admits explicitly how the press had been extensively captured by the CIA and how dozens of American journalists collaborated with the CIA to fabricate, create and distribute dake news:
The Committee has also found a small number of past relationships that fit this category. In some cases the cover arrangement consisted of reimbursing the U.S. newspaper for any articles by the CIA agent which the paper used. In at least one case the journalistic functions assumed by a CIA staff officer for cover purposes grew to a point where the officer concluded that he could not satisfactorily serve the requirements of both his (unwitting) U.S. media employers and the CIA, and therefore resigned from the CIA. He maintained contact, however, with the CIA and continued, very occasionally, to report to the CIA from the countries in which he worked.
(2) Of the less than ten relationships with writers for small, or limited circulation, U.S. publications, such as trade journals or newsletters, most are for cover purposes.
(3) The third, and largest, category of CIA relationships with the U.S. media includes free-lance journalists; "stringers" for newspapers, news magazines and news services; itinerant authors; propaganda writers; and agents working under cover as employees of U.S. publishing houses abroad. With the exception of the last group, the majority of the individuals in this category are bona fide writers or journalists or photographers. Most are paid by the CIA, and virtually all are witting; few, however, of the news organizations to which they contribute are aware of their CIA relationships.
(4) The fourth category of covert relationships resembles the kind of contact that journalists have with any other department of the U.S. Government in the routine performance of their journalistic duties. No money changes hands. The relationships are usually limited to occasional lunches, interviews, or telephone conversations during which information would be exchanged or verified. The difference, of course, is that the relationships are covert. The journalist either volunteers or is requested by the CIA to provide some sort of information about people with whom he is in contact. In several cases, the relationship began when the journalist approached a U.S. embassy officer to report that he was approached by a foreign intelligence officer ; in others, the CIA initiated the relationship.
Another section of the report focuses on how the CIA co-opted academics, reporting that "the Central Intelligence Agency is now using several hundred American academics who in addition to providing leads and, on occasion, making introductions for intelligence purposes, occasionally write books and other material to be used for propaganda purposes abroad. Beyond these, an additional few score are used in an unwitting manner for minor activities.
These academics are located in over 100 American colleges, universities, and related institutes. At the majority of institutions, no one other than the individual concerned is aware of the CIA link. At the others, at least one university official is aware of the operational use made of academics on his campus. In addition, there are several American academics abroad who serve operational purposes, primarily the collection of intelligence.
There is also the admission that the CIA used books explicitly for propaganda purposes:
The Committee has found that the Central Intelligence Agency attaches a particular importance to book publishing activities as a form of covert propaganda. A former officer in the Clandestine Service stated that books are "the most important weapon of strategic (long-range) propaganda." Prior to 1967, the Central Intelligence Agency sponsored, subsidized, or produced over 1,000 books; approximately 25 percent of them in English.... The Committee found that an important number of the books actually produced by the Central Intelligence Agency were reviewed and marketed in the United States.
Oh, the CIA particularly enjoyed using the NYT and Washington Post for "repeat propaganda" (from page 200 of the report):
CIA records for the September-October 1970 propaganda effort in Chile indicate that "replay" of propaganda in the U.S. was not unexpected. A cable summary for September 25, 1970 reports:
Sao Paulo, Tegucigalpa, Buenos Aires, Lima, Montevideo, Bogota, Mexico City report continued replay of Chile theme materials. Items also carried in New York Times, Washington Post. Propaganda activities continue to generate good coverage of Chile developments along our theme guidance. . .
And so on, and on, for over 670 pages of details how it was the CIA - not Russia, not Putin - that has been the primary creator and distributor of misleading, propaganda material in the US, also known as "fake news."
* * *
Of course, all of the above remains largely under the radar; it will never be branded "fake" news in a polite setting. Meanwhile, anyone who dares to challenges the status quo - as we have seen in recent days - is immediately labeled a purveyor of “fake news", or worse - a servant of the Kremlin.
Contributor "George Washington" has some topical thoughts on this particular issue, noting that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the freedom of the press from censorship by government. Indeed, the entire reason that it’s unlawful for the government to stop stories from being printed is because that would punish those who criticize those in power.
Why? Because the Founding Father knew that governments (like the British monarchy) will always crack down on those who point out that the emperor has no clothes.
But the freedom of the press is under massive attack in America today. For example, the powers-that-be argue that only highly-paid corporate media shills who will act as stenographers for the fatcats should have the constitutional protections guaranteeing freedom of the press.
A Harvard law school professor argues that the First Amendment is outdated and should be abandoned. When financially-savvy bloggers challenged the Federal Reserve’s policy, a Fed official called all bloggers stupid and unqualified to comment. And the government is treating the real investigative reporters like criminals … or even terrorists:
- The government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws (and here). For example, after Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge
- In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of the bank’s wrongdoing, the Department of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this)
* * *
With the (failing) mainstream media now desperate to focus the public's attention to the fake "fake media" to divert attention from the real "fake media", those Washington Posts and New York Times who have traditionally served as vessels for the government apparatus to brainwash the public, expect an even greater backlash as the American population realizes that none of this is actually new, and that it has always been the US government that was directly responsible for the blanket propaganda that has covered the US for decades: something which the government itself has confirmed on countless occasions in the past - one just needs to do the effort of stepping away from the information they are spoon-fed, and do their own research and analysis.
Which, incidentally, is what this latest round in the eternal war for information and influence, is all about.
Published:11/25/2016 4:48:09 PM
Casey Affleck Auditioned How Many Times for To Die For?
It's a good thing Casey Affleck isn't a quitter because his breakout role in 1995's To Die For didn't come easy.
"I read six times," Affleck recalls of auditioning...
Published:11/16/2016 10:27:47 AM
Justice Kennedy: the Once and Future Swing Vote
The biggest winner from the election may be Justice Anthony Kennedy. With Merrick Garland’s nomination to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat dead and President-elect Trump expected to nominate a conservative, Kennedy will almost certainly regain his customary status as the Court’s swing vote.
“The cases swing, I don’t,” Kennedy protested during an appearance last year at Harvard Law School. Fair enough: however much scholars and pundits pull their hair out trying to understand Justice Kennedy, it’s not really opportunism or flip-flopping that drives them crazy. That might have described his predecessor as the court’s “swing justice,” Sandra Day O’Connor, the former state legislator, but it’s hard to tar Kennedy with that brush: inscrutability doesn’t necessarily mean political calculation.
Still, anyone with even a passing interest in the Supreme Court knows that this soft-spoken lawyer from Sacramento provides the deciding vote in all the close rulings that rile the nation. In those cases that break down on “ideological” lines, all eyes are on Justice Kennedy. On abortion, affirmative action, Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, voting rights, and immigration—that was just this past term!—his views become the law of the land. The statistics bear this out: In every term but two since Samuel Alito replaced O’Connor a decade ago, Kennedy was the “winningest” justice, typically in the majority over 90 percent of the time.
But what does this mean for understanding Kennedy’s approach? Is he simply a “moderate” who agrees with conservatives on some issues and progressives on others? Or perhaps he’s a libertarian, which in this context might amount to the same thing? Kennedy has agreed with the legal positions of the libertarian Cato Institute more than any other justice.
In a sense, these labeling questions are the wrong ones to ask. By definition the jurist at the “center” of any particular court will split the difference and wind up prevailing more than anyone else. Such simplifications don’t say anything about Kennedy’s thought process, predict his vote in future cases, or instruct on how best to appeal to him. Because lord knows the Supreme Court bar tries to do that, filing “Kennedy briefs” that cite his greatest hits and otherwise try to activate the justice’s affinity sensors. Take the brief that superlawyers Ted Olson and David Boies—rivals in Bush v. Gore (2000) but comrades in the fight for gay marriage—wrote in Hollingsworth v. Perry(2013), whose introduction focuses on dignity and personal autonomy, as well as “love, commitment, and intimacy,” all buzzwords in the Kennedy lexicon.
Excellent on speech, generally good but frustrating on race and federal power, bad on statutory interpretation, and ugly on everything else, Kennedy is a sui generis enigma at the heart of the modern Supreme Court.
The “Kennedy Court”?
In 2009, two political scientists coincidentally published books on Kennedy that remain the most detailed exegeses of his legal philosophy. Frank Colucci of Purdue University-Calumet looked at all of the justice’s public writings, including materials beyond legal opinions, to produce a readable analysis called Justice Kennedy’s Jurisprudence: The Full and Necessary Meaning of Liberty. Colucci’s thesis is that Kennedy strives to interpret constitutional text in a way that properly respects the liberty that is its highest value, trying to reconcile the Founders’ intent with contemporary values. This understanding, and the book’s title, echoes Kennedy’s explication at his 1987 confirmation hearing of the judicial role “to insure that the word liberty in the Constitution is given its full and necessary meaning, consistent with the purposes of the document as we understand it.”
Helen Knowles of SUNY-Oswego took a less sweeping approach, while trying to prove a narrower point: at least in some key areas of law, Kennedy is “modestly libertarian.” In The Tie Goes to Freedom: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on Liberty, Knowles argues that Kennedy’s “requirement that governmental actions pass far more stringent tests when they impinge upon liberty in ways that demean the individual, negatively affect a person’s dignity, diminish personal responsibility, or treat people in a particular way because of their race is entirely consistent with the tenets of libertarian thought.” Still, she acknowledges that the justice doesn’t “subscribe to a jurisprudence that is heavily influenced by political theory,” agreeing with Colucci that his methods seem to be at the intersection of originalism and living constitutionalism.
While exhaustive and nuanced, and recommended reading, these books are still unsatisfying precisely because Kennedy’s rulings defy categorization into standard judicial methodologies (originalism, textualism, purposivism) or modes (restraint, pragmatism, engagement). It’s striking that the leading books about this man who has so long played the central role in our legal world were written by assistant professors in small political-science departments, rather than top law professors or legal journalists at elite publications. Maybe the subject matter is just too frustrating to craft into an easy narrative.
Yet Kennedy famously wrestles with legal doctrine and tries to maintain internal consistency. Just because someone’s body of work is unconventional doesn’t mean it’s incoherent or unimportant.
In June 2012, as the nation awaited Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage, Time put Kennedy on its cover with the screaming-caps headline, “The Decider.” In that cover story, Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, who clerked for Kennedy and now heads his clerkship-screening committee, is described as explaining that “Kennedy’s agonized thought process is a sign of open-mindedness and empathy, not indecision.” “His way of making up his mind in tough cases frequently was for him to try out an idea for size, like trying on a hat,” Kozinski said in his own colorful style. “Wearing it for a day, saying, ‘Well, maybe I don’t look so good in a Stetson. I think I’ll try a sombrero instead.’”
Regardless of the correct headgear, perhaps court watchers are overdoing it in giving all their attention to this Hamlet on the Hill, too hasty in labeling this the “Kennedy Court.” After all, it was John Roberts who provided the deciding vote to save Obamacare in 2012 and again in 2015, and it was Roberts who would delay the court’s ruling on gay marriage by finding a procedural way to dismiss Perry. And the chief justice is the face of the politicized voting-rights case Shelby County v. Holder (2014). More tellingly, while Kennedy wrote the opinion in arguably the most controversial case of the last two decades, Citizens United v. FEC (2010), his vote there was never in any doubt: It’s Roberts who dictates how far the court goes on campaign finance and it was Roberts’s concurrence regarding stare decisis—evaluating when it’s appropriate to overturn precedent—that set the tone for the ruling.
Nevertheless, take away the two Obamacare cases and Roberts wouldn’t really be in this conversation—not because his brand of minimalism and deference hasn’t put a stamp on the court or because he doesn’t write other important opinions, but because nobody can accuse Roberts of being generally “moderate.” Kennedy, on the other hands, abides in the middle in a way that more often than not shapes the court’s direction. Since the court’s current roster was set by Justice Kagan’s arrival in 2010, Kennedy has been on the winning side of 84 percent of cases that have split 5–4—while his colleagues are clustered between 45 and 61 percent.
As SCOTUSblog founder and frequent Supreme Court advocate Tom Goldstein put it, “it’s Justice Kennedy’s world and we just live in it.” So let’s look at the areas of law where Anthony Kennedy has made his mark—free speech, gay rights, race, government power, and abortion—to glean his overall approach.
Defender of Free Speech
While Justice Kennedy is no free-speech absolutist like Justice Hugo Black, he more than anyone else has no tolerance for content-based restrictions. According to a study by First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh, in the latter half of the Rehnquist Court, Kennedy took the pro-speech position three-quarters of the time, by far the most. (Thomas and Souter were the next “best” at about 60 percent.) But if jurists as diverse as Kennedy, Thomas, and Souter are doctrinal lodestars, can the underlying constitutional provision be described as coherent? Actually, yes, says the libertarian éminence grise, Richard Epstein, in his seminal article “Property, Speech, and the Politics of Distrust.” Kennedy’s jurisprudence here aligns with three major arguments against content-based speech restrictions: (1) anti-paternalism—the government should not be deciding which views are harmful; (2) the protection of individual liberty and autonomy by preventing the government from “distorting” the public discourse; and (3) efforts at content-based speech restriction are often driven by suspicious government motives.
In case after free-speech case, Kennedy shows the importance of tolerance in the free market of ideas. In Texas v. Johnson (1989), the flag-burning case, he concurred to say that “sometimes we must make decisions we do not like.” In Simon & Schuster v. Crime Victims Board (1991), he concurred in striking down a New York law designed to prevent criminals from profiting from the publication of their memoirs by noting that “the sole question is, or ought to be, whether the restriction is in fact content based.” In Hill v. Colorado (2000), he dissented from a six-justice majority that upheld a 100-foot abortion-clinic buffer zone, writing that the rule was purely content-based and that providing women with information about abortion “makes a fundamental contribution to their ability to responsibly exercise their liberty.” (In an earlier buffer-zone case, Madsen v. Women’s Health Center (1994), Kennedy had joined a similar dissent by Justice Scalia, and recently in McCullen v. Coakley (2014), he joined Chief Justice Roberts’s majority opinion along the same lines.)
In Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), Kennedy dissented from an anomalous ruling that for the first and only time upheld a campaign-finance restriction on a basis other than the interest in preventing quid pro quocorruption. Twenty years later, of course, he would have the opportunity to make that dissenting view into the court’s holding. “If the First Amendment has any force,” he wrote in Citizens United, “it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”
Kennedy has taken consistently similar positions in other political-speech cases such as Davis v. FEC (2008), Arizona Free Enterprise PAC v. Bennett(2011), and McCutcheon v. FEC (2014). He’s also voted to strike down laws restricting campaign solicitations by judicial candidates, as well as those targeting commercial speech, animal “crush” videos, violent videogames, funeral protests, and false claims of military awards.
“The First Gay Justice”
As important as Kennedy’s contributions are to the First Amendment, he is now most identified with 2015’s landmark ruling on gay marriage. Indeed, Obergefell v. Hodges was the fourth case involving sexual orientation in which Kennedy not only voted to strike down a restriction, but wrote the opinion. In Romer v. Evans (1996), where the court ruled against a Colorado constitutional amendment that prohibited antidiscrimination laws regarding sexual orientation, Kennedy began his opinion with a quote from Justice John Marshall Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)—intimating that sexual minorities are no less entitled to equality than racial ones.
In Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Kennedy led the charge in striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law, a result he found so obvious that he wrote the opinion in one weekend. Professor Randy Barnett—the intellectual godfather behind the constitutional challenge to the individual mandate—called LawrenceKennedy’s “libertarian revolution” because the opinion was grounded in “personal liberty” rather than “privacy.” But other libertarians and originalists were certainly displeased that he grounded this promising analysis in the tired substantive-due-process rubric.
Alas Kennedy’s opinions in United States v. Windsor (2012)—which struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples—and Obergefell were even more of a doctrinal mess. Windsor combined elements of federalism and equal protection to ultimately find that DOMA violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause by depriving married couples of the “dignity and protection” that some states had given them. In Obergefell, meanwhile, what to my mind should’ve been an easy case about the propriety of certain marriage-licensing schemes, instead became a purple disquisition on . . . I’m not sure what. Kennedy tried to write for the ages, but rather than making an epochal statement about the equality of gays and lesbians, he produced a meditation on how the Constitution protects “a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.” The rule of Obergefell seems to be that you take a scoop of due process clause and a cup of equal protection, wrap them in some dignity, and away you go.
That’s not law. For one thing, the due process clause should have nothing to do with this case. The right to “due process of law” means that the government can’t take away your life, liberty, or property for no good reason. It’s the equal protection clause that says the government can’t treat people differently for no good reason. While the clauses can overlap—to be discriminated against for no good reason can be a sort of arbitrary state action—they often don’t, because the discrimination might concern something that’s not life, liberty, or property.
Such is the case here: there’s no natural right to the state recognition of marriage. Marriage—the civil institution, not the religious rite—is a kind of government benefit. To put it in the context of injustices perpetrated against gay people, marriage is not like the right to have sex with a consenting partner. Obergefell thus differed from Lawrence, but also from Loving v. Virginia (1967), which banned, again under penalty of criminal law, interracial cohabitation. Justice Thomas was correct to point this out in his dissent, which easily poked holes in Kennedy’s flim-flam. After all, a logical extension of Kennedy’s understanding of the fundamental right to marriage is that states are constitutionally prohibited from getting out of the marriage business altogether. That can’t be right.
Perhaps Kennedy’s synthesis can best be called “equal liberty”: a rejection of the conservative idea that people seeking protection for their intimate conduct must find it in the legislature—because such bodies can discriminate against minorities for reasons that aren’t civically salubrious. Regardless, these rulings have led some to call Kennedy the “first gay justice”—in the same way Bill Clinton was the “first black president.” It’s an odd appellation for the genteel country-club Republican—one who in 1980 ruled against three seamen discharged from the Navy for homosexual conduct—but it’ll stick until someone who’s openly gay reaches the high court.
Generally Against Racial Preferences
Moving to an area in which Justice Kennedy is in somewhat better alignment with judicial conservatives, on race-conscious state action he stays within equal-protection doctrine rather than escaping into a nebulous reading of liberty. Kennedy is no color-blind absolutist like Justice Scalia was, but he views with great skepticism laws that treat people differently based on race. He acknowledges, for example, that encouraging racial diversity—particularly in higher education—is a constitutionally legitimate goal. At the same time, until this year’s quixotic Fisher v. UT-Austin II,he’d never voted to uphold a policy that attempts to achieve that goal.
As Kennedy wrote in the school-busing case Parents Involved v. Seattle School District (2007), the government can’t force diversity on society by “[reducing] an individual to an as-signed racial identity for differential treatment.” “To be forced to live under a state-mandated racial label,” he continued, “is inconsistent with the dignity of individuals in our society.” But he wrote these things in a concurrence, declining to join the chief justice’s famous plurality opinion—“The way to stop discrimination based on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”—because it was “too dismissive of the legitimate interest government has in ensuring all people have equal opportunity.” At the same time, he found Justice Breyer’s dissent too deferential to the government on this sensitive matter.
So it went in Kennedy’s vehement dissent from a 5–4 ruling upholding of an FCC policy that gave preferential treatment to minority-owned broadcasters in Metro Broadcasting v. FCC (1990). There he unfavorably compared the majority’s deferential review to Korematsu—the 1942 Japanese-internment case—and warned that equating race to broadcast content set the government on the “tortuous path to racial favoritism.” A decade later, in Rice v. Cayetano (2000), he wrote the opinion against race-based voting for the trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, because they rested on “on the demeaning premise that citizens of a particular race are somehow more qualified than others to vote on certain matters.” “One of the principal reasons race is treated as a forbidden classification is that it demeans the dignity and worth of a person to be judged by ancestry instead of by his or her own merit and essential qualities.” (If that sounds familiar, it’s because last Thanksgiving, Kennedy stopped a similar election that an OHA contractor was running, which stay the full court would confirm 5–4.)
Metro Broadcasting and Rice set the stage for the major role that Justice Kennedy has played regarding affirmative action. In the 2003 University of Michigan cases, Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, the court struck down the college’s policy of giving admissions points by race but upheld the law school’s use of race as one of several factors that create a “critical mass” of minorities. Justice O’Connor provided the key vote there, finding that the law school’s “individualized, holistic review” was sufficiently tailored to the valid state interest in educational diversity (at least for 25 years). Kennedy expressed frustration that the court didn’t apply real scrutiny and that basic protections against nefarious uses of race would be suspended for an arbitrary length of time. While sympathetic to the diversity goal, he labeled the concept of critical mass a “delusion used by the Law School to mask its attempt to make race an automatic factor in most instances and to achieve numerical goals indistinguishable from quotas.”
That brings us to the Fisher saga, in which an applicant to the University of Texas sued the school for being rejected based on her race. In Fisher I (2013), the court seemed ready to throw out UT’s admissions program and put virtually out of reach the standard that universities have to meet to consider race in admissions. This result would have aligned perfectly with what seemed to be Kennedy’s view of racial preferences: feasible in theory, unconstitutional in practice. After sitting on the case the entire term, however, the court, writing through Kennedy, issued a meek 14-page opinion joined by all but Justice Ginsburg (with Justice Kagan recused) that told the lower court to be less deferential to the administrators’ representations. Joan Biskupic’s reporting later revealed that a vehement dissent that Justice Sotomayor circulated had persuaded Kennedy and the conservatives to pull back.
After the Fifth Circuit essentially rubber-stamped its previous opinion, the justices took the case again and the conventional wisdom was that in Fisher IIwe’d see Kennedy herald the beginning of the end of affirmative action. Instead, he simply seemed to tire of the case, deeming “good enough” the university’s attempt to justify the unjustifiable in order to be rid of it—deferring to educrats despite having previously told lower courts not to defer to them. I have a more sanguine view of this ruling than most of my fellow critics, if only because UT’s admissions program is unique in the country. But it was certainly Kennedy’s most surprising swing vote of his entire tenure in that role.
This is a good place to discuss Kennedy’s approach to statutory interpretation. There’s a reason that the justice is known for his constitutional writings: he’s better at—and seems to enjoy more—that sort of first-principles thinking than he is at trying to deduce often convoluted legislative or regulatory text. In the area of race, for example, it’s hard to reconcile his opinion in Ricci v. DeStefano (2009) with that in Texas Department of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project (2015).
Ricci held that the City of New Haven violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it invalidated the results of a firefighter-promotion test because none of those who passed were black. Officials feared that if they certified the results, they would be sued under the controversial “disparate impact” theory of liability, but Kennedy found that rationale to be insufficient to justify “disparate treatment” of the denied white and Hispanic test-takers. In Inclusive Communities, meanwhile, he accepted that the Fair Housing Act allowed disparate-impact claims even without allegations of direct racial discrimination. Kennedy did provide good language for defense lawyers, but he kept the door open for the paralysis that developers, financial companies, and housing agencies face in sued-if-you-do, sued-if-you-don’t situations.
That’s but one statutory case—another is King v. Burwell (2015), which read federal healthcare exchanges as being “established by the state”—that makes you believe the third-hand anecdote I heard about Kennedy’s opening a window in his office and yelling out towards the Capitol, “what did you mean?”
Structure Means Liberty
Returning to firmer ground, Justice Kennedy has assembled a relatively solid record on the Constitution’s structural protections for liberty—though not one without soft spots. Especially after Windsor, commentators discovered that Kennedy has a vision of federalism that supports individual rights. But federalism existed long before progressives decided that it might be a useful tool in the battle over gay marriage. Separating powers vertically, not just horizontally, is a key part of the Founding project, as is the principle of dual sovereignty—the idea that the state and federal governments shouldn’t interfere in each other’s respective spheres.
Kennedy connected these theories in his concurrence in United States v. Lopez(1995), where the court struck down a federal law criminalizing possession of firearms near schools because it wasn’t a regulation of interstate commerce. “The theory that two governments accord more liberty than one requires for its realization two distinct and discernable lines of political accountability,” he explained, “one between the citizens and the Federal Government; the second between the citizens and the States.” When the court continued its short-lived federalism revolution in United States v. Morrison (2000)—invalidating the federal Violence Against Women Act because, again, there was no interstate commerce—Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s majority opinion picked up on many of Kennedy’s points.
In between those two cases, Kennedy wrote majority opinions that limited Congress’s power to create new rights that have to be honored by the states (City of Boerne v. Flores, 1997) and struck down a federal law that stripped states of their sovereign immunity (Alden v. Maine, 1999). He also joined in two important rulings that enshrined the “anti-commandeering” principle—New York v. United States (1992) and Printz v. United States (1997)—which holds that the federal government can’t compel state officials to enforce federal law.
Kennedy also strongly supports the dormant commerce clause—reading the commerce clause as not only a “sword” by which Congress can facilitate interstate commerce, but as a “shield” that prevents states from passing laws that discriminate against out-of-state interests. “The central rationale for the rule against discrimination is to prohibit state or municipal laws whose object is local economic protectionism, laws that would excite those jealousies and retaliatory measures the Constitution was designed to prevent,” he wrote in C & A Carbone, Inc. v. Town of Clarkstown (1994). In this, Kennedy is a stronger defender of economic liberty than Scalia and Thomas, who consider the dormant commerce clause to be inconsistent with the Constitution’s original meaning and thus a “judicial fraud.”
The clearest exposition of Kennedy’s federalism views came in United States v. Bond (2011), wherein the government bizarrely prosecuted a woman for violating the federal law that implements the international Chemical Weapons Convention. “Federalism is more than an exercise in setting the boundary between different institutions of government for their own integrity,” he wrote for a unanimous court, it “protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.”
Using the judicial power to stop government abuse was the theme of Justice Kennedy’s magnum opus in this area, the joint dissent he authored with Scalia, Thomas, and Alito in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012), otherwise known as the (first) Obamacare case, which concludes:
The values that should have determined our course today are caution, minimalism, and the understanding that the Federal Government is one of limited powers. But the Court’s ruling undermines those values at every turn. In the name of restraint, it overreaches. In the name of constitutional avoidance, it creates new constitutional questions. In the name of cooperative federalism, it undermines state sovereignty.
I was in the courtroom when the ruling was announced from the bench, including Kennedy’s dramatic summary of that dissent. The starkness of his language and passion in his voice could have made you mistake him for Scalia. It was his finest hour—and really makes you wonder how the same jurist could have signed onto Gonzales v. Raich (2005), which ratified the federal government’s power to regulate plants you grow in your backyard for your own use.
Justice Kennedy’s most famous judicial act—at least until Obergefell—was his switch from the tentative five-justice majority set to overrule Roe v. Wade(1972) to joining O’Connor and Souter to co-author the plurality opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) that upheld Roe’s “essential holding.” The trio crafted an “undue burden” test, which invalidates laws if they have “the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.” Kennedy has played the key role in applying this test in later cases, finding constitutional protection for a woman’s liberty to end her pregnancy but recognizing that, as Knowles put it, “this is a liberty that is bounded by important state interests . . . that permit the state to require the woman to exercise her liberty in an informed and responsible manner.”
Casey involved a challenge to five provisions of Pennsylvania’s abortion law, and only its three authors joined every part of the ruling—which struck down a spousal notification requirement but upheld the other rules. Tellingly, this was not an opinion about privacy rights, opening instead with “[l]iberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt” and concluding with similarly lofty language. It’s this kind of rhetoric that gets Kennedy in trouble not just with conservatives who disagree with outcomes, but with originalists, textualists, and others opposed to judicial pontification. In what has become derisively known as the “sweet-mystery-of-life” passage, Kennedy explained: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.” Still, this grandiloquence was to be checked by certain boundaries. Although the court’s duty is “to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code,” abortion is a “unique act,” not one that a woman can make without considering the “consequences for others.”
Justice Kennedy’s bounded-liberty rubric was even more on display in the partial-birth-abortion cases, Stenberg v. Carhart (2000) and Gonzales v. Carhart (2007). In Stenberg, a five-justice majority overturned Nebraska’s ban on partial-birth abortion because it wasn’t limited to late-term abortions and had no exception for maternal health. Kennedy dissented, finding that the law survived Casey’s level of scrutiny and that the majority “repudiates this understanding [of the state’s role in legislating on abortion] by invalidating a statute advancing critical state interests, even though the law denies no woman the right to choose an abortion and places no undue burden upon the right.” In Gonzales, Kennedy wrote the opinion for a different five-justice majority—after Alito replaced O’Connor—upholding a federal partial-birth abortion ban that likewise lacked a maternal health exception.
After taking heat from conservatives for Casey, Kennedy now took heat from liberals for seeming to contradict his own Casey opinion—as well as for disingenuously reconciling Gonzales with Stenberg rather than recognizing that he would have to overrule Stenberg to achieve his desired result. There’s some validity to the former criticism—the word “liberty” is absent from his Gonzales opinion—and the latter can only be resolved by pointing to the higher legislative craftsmanship and technical precision in the federal law than in Nebraska’s.
Finally, this past term’s Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt represents a sort of inverse Fisher II: for the first time in nearly 25 years (since Casey), Kennedy voted to strike down an abortion law, Texas’s rule that clinics must meet the safety standards of surgical centers and have physicians with nearby hospital-admitting privileges. Uncharacteristically, however, it was Breyer who wrote for the court here—even though Kennedy was the senior justice in the majority and so could have taken the opinion himself. Perhaps he was also tired of this case.
Thus we’re left with an outcome whereby abortion rights are now both stronger and narrower than before Kennedy got his hands on them; in this area more than any other, he can please no one.
So Is He a Libertarian?
Excellent on speech, generally good but frustrating on race and federal power, bad on statutory interpretation, and ugly on everything else—I’ve left out subjects like capital punishment—Kennedy is a sui generis enigma at the heart of the modern Supreme Court. The Colucci and Knowles books, and shorter writings, have helped us better understand the man’s “sweet mystery” by deconstructing his faint-hearted libertarianism, but at bottom his jurisprudence is a constant struggle to balance freedom and responsibility—ordered liberty, if you will.
This balancing of liberty against other concerns can sometimes amount to an imposition of Kennedy’s life philosophy rather than either being bound by ancient text or leaving the decision to the political process. That approach, to be sure, would be decidedly not libertarian. As Jeffrey Rosen once noted in a piece for the (old) New Republic, for example, Kennedy tends to use “dignity” and “equality” in a paternalistic way, not to enhance freedom. Kennedy may thus be better described as favoring good government—one with liberty as a positive and welcome externality but that requires his workmanlike beneficence to bring the majestic law to the people.
A recent extra-judicial development sheds more light: Kennedy’s 2013 release of a “reading list for young people” titled “Understanding Freedom’s Heritage: How to Keep and Defend Liberty.” This list includes the following canonical choices: the Funeral Oration of Pericles, Magna Carta, Edmund Burke, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, Churchill’s speech after the Dunkirk retreat, Kennedy’s inaugural address, King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Reagan’s speech at the Berlin Wall. It also contains some less obvious but perfectly appropriate interdisciplinary picks: Marc Antony’s funeral oration in Julius Caesar, Zola’s “J’Accuse,” Longfellow’s “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields,” Charlie Chaplin’s closing speech in The Great Dictator (declining the dictatorship), Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
But then it veers into selections that seem cribbed from an American Studies syllabus: Huckleberry Finn, Lou Gehrig’s “Farewell to Baseball,” Robert Frost’s “The Road not Taken,” Don McLean’s “American Pie,” Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery,Reese Witherspoon’s commencement address in Legally Blonde. I might like to take that class, but I’m not sure what it has to do with how the commerce clause and Fourteenth Amendment secure and protect our liberties. What’s really interesting, and explains why Kennedy is no libertarian of any recognizable mold, is what’s absent. There’s no Hobbes or Locke, no Mill (On Liberty!), Hayek, Nozick, or even Rawls.
Those absences make sense, because Kennedy seems to view liberty from a different angle than would be expected from a classic liberal or modern libertarian—who would focus on the individual, the party whose rights are impacted by illegal government action. Kennedy approaches the issue from the viewpoint of society at large, the perpetrator of the contested law. His central concern, especially where the constitutional or statutory text is unclear, is whether it has a noble or dignified purpose. It’s why he told lawyers at an ABA conference that they should strive to achieve “honorable” outcomes.
There’s a definite parallel here to Kennedy’s gay-rights tetralogy. The constant theme in Romer, Lawrence, Windsor, and Obergefell is the ignoble motivation behind the laws at issue—the way they denigrate a certain class of people and thus devalue our democracy. That’s a Portia approach (her famous “quality of mercy” speech from Merchant of Venice is also on Kennedy’s list): The law should be opposed because it represents a character flaw in those who support and enforce it. And where Kennedy is concerned for the well-being of people affected, he’s concerned for their dignity, not necessarily their rights. A libertarian can’t accept a judicial philosophy that allows oppressive laws to stand if there’s a “noble purpose,” but Kennedy the bürgermeister has a certain sense of noblesse oblige. Look at Kennedy’s silent acquiescence in Raich and his opinion in National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab (1989), in which five justices—over dissents written by Scalia and Thurgood Marshall!—upheld the suspicionless drug testing of government employees against Fourth Amendment challenge. The only way to explain these votes is that Kennedy doesn’t see any nobility to drugs, so their users merit little constitutional protection even if they don’t hurt anybody and are confined to their homes.
This is why those who despair at the state of religious liberty post-Obergefellhave nothing to fear from Kennedy. While the one paragraph he devotes to the issue is rather cursory and reads like an afterthought—and mentions advocacy and teaching but not “exercise”—I highly doubt that this mild-mannered Catholic would affirm the persecution of wedding vendors or force social-service organizations out of business. Indeed, he sided with Hobby Lobby inthat company’s fight for exemption from Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate and almost certainly would’ve done the same in the consolidated religious-nonprofit cases on which John Roberts engineered a punt this term, Zubik v. Burwell. It’s pretty clear that Kennedy sees a distinction between public and private action and hopes that both sides in the gay-marriage debate now respect each other’s liberties and recognize that we live in a pluralistic society.
The perception that Justice Kennedy is a libertarian is purely a function of his role as the linchpin between the court’s progressive and conservative wings. A libertarian position is unlikely to prevail at the Court unless Kennedy agrees with it. Thus, any time there’s a libertarian “win,” he’s almost certainly in the majority—and his seniority and the fear that he might defect result in a fair number of those cases being assigned to him to write. But even as Kennedy is most often on the libertarian side in result, his reasoning is rarely libertarian: too many observers are outcome-sensitive and process-blind.
Now, if the idea of an enlightened magistrate deciding conflicts based on what he thinks is righteous, noble, and good, sounds uncomfortably familiar, it should come as no surprise that one of the first works Kennedy included on his reading list is the Allegory of the Cave. There Plato argues that it is the duty of “enlightened” philosophers—who alone among men have knowledge of what is truly good—to better the lot of the ignorant, out of pity if nothing else. This is the basis for Plato’s “philosopher kings,” who rule based on their love of honor.
But rules coming from a jurist’s special access to truth—whether empiric or moral—are incompatible with the republican state. We are thus inevitably drawn to the question of how faithful Kennedy is to the rule of law, which is a stronger measure of consistent, principled jurisprudence. The rule of law comprises values such as predictability and transparency; if a black box makes all of society’s key decisions, it’s not legitimate governance even if the results typically appeal to a majority.
Regardless of how convincing anyone’s explanation of his jurisprudence may be, if the general perception is that Kennedy decides cases in some inscrutable manner, whether based on policy preferences or some unrecognizable legal theory, he’s no better than that black box. Or, put another way, he becomes a sort of prophet who tries to convey the will of the Founding gods—which can only result in a decline in the congregation’s faith in the law.
Nevertheless, until someone replaces Justice Kennedy—who’s 80 but seems to be in excellent health—he will continue to fascinate and frustrate as he decides those cases that swing around him.
Ilya Shapiro is a fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review.
Published:11/15/2016 12:01:01 AM
Casey Neistat’s Beme launches Exit Poll, an app to share who you voted for and why
Beme, the social media app founded by Casey Neistat, is getting involved in the election by launching an app called Exit Poll. The concept is simple: You download the app, tap who you are voting for (the options are Hillary or Donald or decline to answer), what state you are in and record a short video explaining your reasoning. Exit Poll then will collate these videos into a Facebook Live… Read More
Published:11/7/2016 7:08:51 PM
Should I Vote Repocrat Or Demublican?
Submitted by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
The US is approaching a major election and voters are trying to figure out who will best lead them. As in most countries in the developed world, there are only two real contenders, each the representative of one of the two leading political parties.
One party states as its platform that it seeks to expand social freedoms (gay rights, abortion rights, etc.), and seeks to legislate to limit economic freedom (increased banking legislation, increased taxation for the rich and powerful, etc.). The other party states the opposite as its platform.
And, of course, the two candidates are verbally adamant in their every speech, that they intend to present legislation to assure that their respective platforms become a reality for the American people.
As in any country where there is a “two-party system,” the voters tend to be determinedly in one camp or the other. Rarely do their beliefs cross over. For example, when a libertarian candidate arises who espouses both social freedom and economic freedom, he is deemed interesting, but voters from the two primary camps do not rush to support him. Each group is dedicated to its choice of freedom and its choice of suppression.
And the two parties do their level best to convince voters that they must be unanimous in their support of one party or the other. Like football fans, voters should take an “us versus them” approach. In the US, as in many other countries, this results in such hatred amongst one team’s voters against the other team’s voters that they frequently refuse to even socialize with one another and, on occasion, the discord can result in violence.
But of course, as voters will say, they’re passionate about their parties and are so dedicated to party principles that they could never support a candidate that deviates in any way from them.
So, what happens when candidates veer dramatically from this nicely-packaged programme? For example, recently a billionaire Wall Street CEO put forward a new retirement tax bill to be passed after the coming election. The bill would create a 3% payroll tax that would immediately be funneled to Wall Street firms. Liberals are already angry that the greedy Wall Streeters are ripping them off. Surely, this bill could only have been put forward by the heartlessly greedy conservative party. Yet it is a Democratic bill and is supported by the Democratic presidential candidate.
The candidate has, in fact, been known to have received enormous amounts of money from Wall Street and is clearly in their pocket. And yet, somehow, Democratic voters gloss over this fact, along with all the other facts about their candidate that suggest that she is not at all representative of her party’s principles.
Over in the Republican camp, we see the same. The candidate is so far from representing the party for which he is running that many old-line incumbents are seething at the prospect that he could actually win. Some have vowed to vote Democrat to avoid the possibility of his presidency.
So, what’s going on here? Well, generally, political parties begin in one of two ways. The first begins with a charismatic individual who puts forward a set of principles that ends up attracting a large number of followers. The second begins with an individual or group that seeks power and needs to espouse a position on some issue or issues in order to gain general support. Either way, in virtually every case, the longer a party has existed, the more likely it is to have devolved into cronyism, backroom deals, opportunism and abuse of both the public purse and public rights.
Along the way, party “principles” become a mere remnant to be trotted out at election time, but are rarely followed except when they can be used as an opportunity to create greater power for the party. The party invariably comes to represent the very worst traits of mankind and is made up of the most reprehensible citizens.
In the US, the rot set in early – two years before George Washington became president.
The US Constitution makes no mention of political parties, yet parties cropped up as early as 1787 under the Federalists, who wished to have a strong, all-powerful central government that the states would then answer to.
As a reaction, those who opposed the Federalists, led by Thomas Jefferson, came to call themselves the Democratic-Republican Party. They, in turn, eventually fought amongst themselves, splitting the party in two in 1824 and, as any American will know, the two resulting parties are still going after each other in every way possible nearly 200 years later.
As Judge Andrew Napolitano has been known to say (quite accurately), the two primary American parties are merely “two wings of the same bird of prey.” The reason for presenting them as being morally or philosophically different only extends itself as far as is useful into coercing votes out of the electorate.
So, is there any reason to vote? Actually (sadly), no. Today, the average voter is saying (unconsciously), “I know both parties are thoroughly corrupt, but at least our candidate is less offensive to my sensibilities than the other party’s.” He’s aware that the apple is rotten, but still takes some pleasure in believing that his choice of which bad seed goes forth as the figurehead of the uni-government will make some sort of difference.
And, of course, that’s about all it boils down to. The trouble is, both parties are equally “owned” by those who provide the greatest payoffs, which is to say that the same banks, military goods suppliers, oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, etc. make the largest donations to both parties. Therefore, their needs will be followed no matter who is elected. The two parties are therefore interchangeable.
In every case in which a voter makes a choice for “change,” he has wasted his time in showing up at the polling station, as the various directions his government takes will not only be unaffected by his vote, it will be unaffected by all votes.
So, what’s left for the voter to do? Well, if he can ever bring himself to recognize openly that, whilst the Repocrats and the Demublicans may differ a bit as individuals, they all work for the same organization and that is where their real loyalty lies. (As a comparison, if you were slated for execution, it would matter little whether your executioner was a Baptist or a Methodist. The outcome would be the same.)
It‘s important to note that the Americans did not invent party politics. The idea has been around since long before the US came into being and the concept generates the same results no matter where the “democratic process” exists.
There is, however, a benefit to be gained through self-honesty as regards the charade of political parties. Once it becomes clear that the system is what it is and that the political leaders have zero concern for their constituents, except as indentured servants (or as Doug Casey so aptly puts it – “milk cows”) – once the voter recognizes that the next election holds no vain hope for redemption – the voter may begin to see his true position more objectively. Rather than devote his time to any election campaign, waste his time observing the endless rhetoric in the media, seek to ingratiate himself to authorities or (God forbid) send his children off to the latest senseless war, he may refocus on what his government actually does for him in return for his obeisance and tax dollar. Once he recognizes that he is in fact an indentured servant, he may well reassess whether he wishes to continue the relationship.
At this point, he may, without a loss of misapplied patriotism, decide whether another country may be a better place in which to invest, consider citizenship, store wealth or even reside – part-time or full-time.
Published:11/7/2016 6:42:20 PM