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The Great Gold Robbery of 1933

The Great Gold Robbery of 1933

gold1

It’s been 75 years since the federal government, on the spurious grounds of fighting the Great Depression, ordered the confiscation of all monetary gold from Americans, permitting trivial amounts for ornamental or industrial use. This happens to be one of the episodes Kevin Gutzman and I describe in detail in our new book, Who Killed the Constitution? The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush. From the point of view of the typical American classroom, on the other hand, the incident may as well not have occurred.

A key piece of legislation in this story is the Emergency Banking Act of 1933, which Congress passed on March 9 without having read it and after only the most trivial debate. House Minority Leader Bertrand H. Snell (R-NY) generously conceded that it was “entirely out of the ordinary” to pass legislation that “is not even in print at the time it is offered.” He urged his colleagues to pass it all the same: “The house is burning down, and the President of the United States says this is the way to put out the fire. [Applause.] And to me at this time there is only one answer to this question, and that is to give the President what he demands and says is necessary to meet the situation.”

Among other things, the act retroactively approved the president’s closing of private banks throughout the country for several days the previous week, an act for which he had not bothered to provide a legal justification. It gave the secretary of the Treasury the power to require all individuals and corporations to hand over all their gold coin, gold bullion, or gold certificates if in his judgment “such action is necessary to protect the currency system of the United States.”

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Afghan Correction

The Afghan Correction

Interventionistas never seem to learn these seven truths about war and ‘nation building.’

The chaotic rout of the U.S. in Afghanistan has got the chattering classes all agape and gawking.

One of the poorest countries in the world with virtually no GDP has defeated one of the richest.

OMG

A low-energy spender humbled a high-flying petro consumer.

WTF

Bearded men with time outwaited technocrats with ticking watches.

OMG!!

Another “weak actor” with AK 47s bested “a strong actor” with drones and AI.

WTF???

And on it goes.

But America’s disastrous intervention and ignoble retreat illustrates some uncomfortable if not random truths that are left out of the chatter.

They include the perils of intervention, cycles of imperial collapse, economic theft, energy limits, the power of demographics and ecological degradation.

Here are seven truths we have been taught, yet again, in Afghanistan.

1. Interventionistas by definition do harm.

The straight-talking philosopher and risk expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb lays out the disastrous hubris of interventionista thinking in his excellent book Skin in the Game. Interventionistas, he says, not only lack practical sense, but they never learn from history. They also fail at pure reasoning and cannot imagine complex interactions let alone consequences. (Author Wendell Berry called such unaccountable people “itinerant professional vandals.”) These vandals tend to symbolize the adage that experience is making the same mistake over and over again but with greater confidence.

American interventionistas, just like their Russian and Chinese counterparts, pretend that they can replace regimes, build nations, rewire economies and terrorize civilians with bombs and all without unforeseen consequences.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

War Is A Rich Man’s Game: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

War Is A Rich Man’s Game: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

War is always powerful people making up fake reasons for poor people to kill each other.

Capitalism is working great if you ignore how it’s about to destroy our ecosystem and kill everything.

Socialism is the collective’s best self-defense against sociopaths.

In the old days the rulers would kill those who criticized the dominant power structure. Now they just make sure such people never ascend to prominent platforms or positions of influence.

And, if that fails, they kill them.

Most of what gets called journalism today is really just advertising. Advertising imperialism, capitalism, status quo politics, status quo mindsets. All this fuss about journalists leaving for Substack and stuff is really just outrage over people leaving the advertising industry.

Imperialists see the American people as nothing more than local fauna who need to be kept from interfering in the business of the empire. That’s why keeping Americans poor and ignorant has so much institutional support; it keeps the local fauna away from the gears of the machine.

Supporters of western imperialism are always wrong because the western empire is always wrong. The western empire is always wrong because imperialism itself is immoral and requires the perpetration of great evils to maintain. It’s really a lot simpler than people make it seem.

The only way to justify support for western interventionist foreign policy is to believe that western interventionism is ever actually humanitarian in nature. The only way to believe western interventionism is ever humanitarian in nature is to be an intellectual infant.

Don’t buy into the narrative that Democrats are resisting leftward movement in order to appease Republicans. It’s so much worse than that: they’re not appeasing Republicans, they’re appeasing their own donors.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Lesson of a Crash that Cured Itself

The Lesson of a Crash that Cured Itself

If a government wishes to alleviate, rather than aggravate, a depression, its only valid course is laissez-faire—to leave the economy alone. Only if there is no interference, direct or threatened, with prices, wage rates and business liquidation, will the necessary adjustment proceed with smooth dispatch. — Murray Rothbard

The economic disruption caused by the government’s coronavirus clamp-down may lead to a deep recession or depression; arguably, it already has. President Trump’s $2.2 trillion relief package indicates what his answer to such an economic disaster will be: mega-spending on hand-outs and social projects. Trump is setting himself up as a modern version of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) whose New Deal programs defined 20th century America by diverting it from a largely free-market path down a largely statist one. Trump wants to be an activist president — the type that history books applaud. Congress’s near-unanimous support of the relief bill means that no real brake will be applied on the speed or depth of federal spending. Few voices even question the need for government to lift up the economy by its bootstraps.

The Great Depression of the 1930s is often viewed as the gold standard for a federal response to an economic crisis. And, yet, FDR’s strong-man policies ushered in a decade of economic misery that did not end until the jolt of a world war in which over 400,000 Americans were killed. Happily, a less bloody “success” story exists.

The financial analyst and historian James Grant offers the do-nothing alternative in his path-breaking book The Forgotten Depression. 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself. The crash of 1920-21 is called “the forgotten depression” because it has almost vanished from history books.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Did Covid-19 Just Pop All the Global Financial Bubbles

Did Covid-19 Just Pop All the Global Financial Bubbles?

Once confidence and certainty are lost, the willingness to expand debt and leverage collapses.

Even though the first-order effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still impossible to predict, it’s already possible to ask: did the pandemic pop all the global financial bubbles? The reason we can ask this question is the entire bull mania of the 21st century has been based on a permanently high rate of expansion of leverage and debt.

The lesson of the 2008-09 Global Financial meltdown was clear: any decline in the rate of debt/leverage expansion is enough to threaten financial bubbles, and any absolute decline in debt and leverage will unleash a cascade that collapses all the speculative bubbles in stocks, real estate, collectibles, etc.

What’s the connection between Covid-19 and the rate of debt/leverage expansion? Confidence and certainty: people will make bets on future growth and take on additional debt and leverage when they feel confident and have a high degree of certainty that the trends are running their way.

Over the past 20 years, the certainty that central banks would support markets has been high, as central banks stepped in at every wobble. Today’s 50 basis-points cut by the Fed sustains that certainty.

What’s now broken is the certainty that central bank interventions will lift risk assets and the real-world economy. Given the uncertainties of the eventual consequences of the pandemic globally, confidence in future trends has been either dented or destroyed, depending on your perspective and timeline.

Certainty that central bank interventions will push markets and real-world economies higher has also been dented. What happens if the market tanks after every 50 basis-points cut by the Fed?

We wouldn’t be in such a precariously brittle state if the global economy hadn’t been ruthlessly financialized to the point that market dependence on central bank intervention is now essentially 100%.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Politicians Live in a Parallel Universe

Politicians Live in a Parallel Universe

I’m convinced of it. Politicians definitely live in a parallel universe, one that could easily be called Bizarro World.

Just read a recent op-ed in the Washington Post by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It provides irrefutable proof that these people live in an alternative universe.

The title of McConnell’s article is “Withdrawing from Syria Is a Grave Mistake.” As you can tell from the title, McConnell, like the good little Republican he is, is an interventionist . That means he believes that the U.S. government should intervene in the affairs of other countries, like with coups, assassinations, invasions, bribery, extortion, sanctions, and embargoes, even while lamenting when foreign governments (e.g., Russia) intervene in the affairs of other countries in the same ways.

Okay, so Republicans are interventionists. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they live in a parallel universe. It just means that they are seriously misguided. The proof that McConnell lives in an alternative universe comes through the analysis he employs to justify his interventionism.

Number 1. McConnell says that that interventionism is necessary to combat “Islamic terrorism.”

What? Is he kidding? He obviously doesn’t get it. He still believes that the terrorists are targeting America because of their supposed hatred for America’s “freedom and values.” He still doesn’t understand that it is interventionism itself (which he ardently supports) that is the root cause of the anger and hatred that foreigners have toward the United States. Stop the interventionism and anti-American terrorism dissipates.

In McConnell’s universe, the “war on terrorism” goes on forever because,  in his mind, the Muslims will hate America forever. The Pentagon and the CIA will just have to continue inflicting death, suffering, and destruction on foreigners on a perpetual basis until the war is “won,” that is, when all the Muslim terrorists are finally eradicated, which just might be never, especially since the interventionism produces a never-ending stream of anger and hatred toward the United States.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Provoking World War III with Iran and a U.S. History of Provocation

Provoking World War III with Iran and a U.S. History of Provocation

In the history of the United States and its history of interventionism, the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman seem to be foreboding and ominous signs of what may come—an inevitable war with the Islamic Republic of Iran? To many who are watching the region closely, it is still unclear if Iran is behind such attacks. Moreover, and, thankfully, President Donald J. Trump backed away from bombing Iran after the Iranians allegedly and recently shot down a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

Even so, the bellicose rhetoric between President Trump (threatening Iran’s “obliteration”) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (calling Trump “mentally retarded”) have continued. Watching from the sidelines, everyone hopes diplomacy will prevail.

Let us examine U.S. interventionism past more closely. I know of four clear international instances where the United States intervened under dubious circumstances, initiating war.

The first happened just before the beginning of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). President James K. Polk sent American troops to the Rio Grande River under the command of Zachary Taylor. The Mexicans had believed that the border had been at the Nueces River, not the Rio Grande, the Nueces being significantly north of the Rio Grande. This move was provocative and incited Mexican forces to attack the U.S. Army at its fortifications on the Rio Grande in 1846. As the attacks on U.S. soldiers were reported by Taylor to Polk, the U.S. Congress promptly declared war on Mexico.

Yet, in understanding these incidents, we have to likewise understand the motivations of the historical actors. Polk strongly believed in the Manifest Destiny of the United States to conquer the territories west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Understanding the Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Albright Doctrine

Understanding the Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Albright Doctrine

Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob.

How to describe U.S. foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem appropriate.

Since 9/11, Washington has been extraordinarily active militarily—invading two nations, bombing and droning several others, deploying special operations forces in yet more countries, and applying sanctions against many. Tragically, the threat of Islamist violence and terrorism only have metastasized. Although Al Qaeda lost its effectiveness in directly plotting attacks, it continues to inspire national offshoots. Moreover, while losing its physical “caliphate” the Islamic State added further terrorism to its portfolio.

Three successive administrations have ever more deeply ensnared the United States in the Middle East. War with Iran appears to be frighteningly possible. Ever-wealthier allies are ever-more dependent on America. Russia is actively hostile to the United States and Europe. Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity.

Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors’ policies. For instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela.

U.S. foreign policy suffers from systematic flaws in the thinking of the informal policy collective which former Obama aide Ben Rhodes dismissed as “The Blob.” Perhaps no official better articulated The Blob’s defective precepts than Madeleine Albright, United Nations ambassador and Secretary of State.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Liberal Embrace of War

The Liberal Embrace of War

American interventionists learned a lesson from Iraq: pre-empt the debate. Now everyone is for regime change

An anti-government protester dressed as Lady Liberty, wearing the colors of Venezuela's flag, hugs a fellow protester during a demonstration near La Carlota airbase in Caracas, Venezuela, . Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is calling for Venezuelans to fill streets around the country Wednesday to demand President Nicolás Maduro's ouster. Maduro is also calling for his supporters to rallyPolitical Crisis, Caracas, Venezuela - 01 May 2019

The United States has just suspended flights to Venezuela. Per the New York Times:

CARACAS — The United States banned all air transport with Venezuela on Wednesday over security concerns, further isolating the troubled South American nation…

A disinterested historian — Herodotus raised from the dead — would see this as just the latest volley in a siege tale. America has been trying for ages to topple the regime of President Nicholas Maduro, after trying for years to do the same to his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

The new play in the Trump era involves recognizing Juan Guaidó as president and starving and sanctioning the country. Maduro, encircled, has been resisting.

The American commercial news landscape, in schism on domestic issues, is in lockstep here. Every article is seen from one angle: Venezuelans under the heel of a dictator who caused the crisis, with the only hope a “humanitarian” intervention by the United States.

There is no other perspective. Media watchdog FAIR just released results of a study of three months of American opinion pieces. Out of 76 editorials in the New York Times, Washington Post, the “big three Sunday morning talk shows” or PBS News Hour, zero came out against the removal of Maduro. They wrote:

“Corporate news coverage of Venezuela can only be described as a full-scale marketing campaign for regime change.”

Allowable opinion on Venezuela ranges from support for military invasion to the extreme pacifist end of the spectrum, as expressed in a February op-ed by Dr. Francisco Rodriguez and Jeffrey Sachs called “An Urgent Call for Compromise in Venezuela”:

“We strongly urge… a peaceful and negotiated transition of power rather than a winner-take-all game of chicken…”

So we should either remove Maduro by force, or he should leave peaceably, via negotiation. These are the options.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Some Common Criticisms Of My Work Addressed, By Caitlin Johnstone

Some Common Criticisms Of My Work Addressed, By Caitlin Johnstone

It’s a relatively slow news day so I thought it might be good to just tap out a few responses to common criticisms of the writing I’ve been doing since I started this gig two and a half years ago. I try to put all my cards on the table in full transparency so that people can decide if they trust me or like what I’m doing.

Obviously when you do what I do for a living you get truckloads of criticisms every day ranging from the reasonable and thoughtful to the downright bizarre, so I’ll only be able to focus on the most common ones:

“Caitlin touts the Kremlin line. Everything she writes is in accordance with Kremlin talking points.”

It is true that my foreign policy views often align with the foreign policy positions promoted by the Russian government, but this is only because I oppose US interventionism. Russia, like many other sovereign nations, also opposes US interventionism, because it is in their interests to do so. This is unrelated to my own reasons for opposing US interventionism, namely that it is consistently disastrous and unhelpful, and that US military violence serves as the glue which holds together a powerful empire which is oppressive, ecocidal, omnicidal, and increasingly Orwellian. More on this here.

For the record, I have nothing to do with the Russian government, and to my knowledge I have never received any money that came from the Kremlin. I’ve been offered to appear on various RT programs, but I’ve always declined because I don’t want my arguments tainted with any perception of loyalty to that network. I’m an entirely reader-funded writer, and I have my Patreon information on the most transparent settings available.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tulsi Gabbard Is Driving The MSM Bat Shit Crazy

Tulsi Gabbard Is Driving The MSM Bat Shit Crazy

When Tulsi Gabbard announced her plans to run in the 2020 presidential election, I predicted that it would disrupt war propaganda narratives and force a much-needed conversation about US interventionism, but I didn’t realize that it would happen so quickly, so ubiquitously, and so explosively. Gabbard officially began her campaign for president a mere three days ago, and already she’s become the front line upon which the debate about US warmongering is happening. Even if you oppose Gabbard’s run for the presidency, this should be self-evident to you by now.

This dynamic became more apparent than ever today in Gabbard’s appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, hosted by spouses Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. It should here be noted since we’re talking about war propaganda that in 2009 Scarborough turned down an easy run for the US Senate because he decided that he could have more influence on public policy as the host of Morning Joe than he could as one of 100 US senators, which tells you everything you need to know about why I focus more on US mass media propaganda than I do on US politics. It should also be noted that Brzezinski is the daughter of the late Carter administration cold warrior Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose influential ideas about US world domination, arming extremist factions to advance US interests, and hawkish agendas against Russia continue to infect US foreign policy to this day. Mika is part of a political dynasty, with both brothers being US political insiders as well.

So if you’ve ever wondered how outlets like MSNBC keep everyone on message and fully in alignment with the US war machine’s agendas, there’s a good insight into how.

Why All Anti-Interventionists Will Necessarily Be Smeared As Russian Assets

Why All Anti-Interventionists Will Necessarily Be Smeared As Russian Assets

When Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced her candidacy for the presidency on CNN last month, I had a feeling I’d be writing about her a fair bit. Not because I particularly want her to be president, but because I knew her candidacy would cause the narrative control mechanizations of the political/media class to overextend themselves, leaving them open to attack, exposure, and the weakening of their control of the narrative.

Mere hours before her campaign officially launched, NBC News published an astonishingly blatant smear piece titled “Russia’s propaganda machine discovers 2020 Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard,” subtitled “Experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard.” One of the article’s authors shared it on Twitter with the caption, “The Kremlin already has a crush on Tulsi Gabbard.”

The article reported that media outlets tied to the Russian government had been talking a lot about Gabbard’s candidacy, ironically citing as an example an RT article which documented the attempts by the US mainstream media to paint Gabbard as a Kremlin agent. The article’s authors cited the existence of such articles combined with the existence of “chatter” about Gabbard on the anonymous message board 8chan (relevant for God knows what reason) as evidence to substantiate its blaring headline. Even more hilariously, the source for its weird 8chan claim is named as none other than Renee DiResta of the narrative control firm New Knowledge, which was recently embroiled in a scandal for staging a “false flag operation” in an Alabama Senate race which gave one of the candidates the false appearance of being amplified by Russian bots.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

End All Interventionism, Not Just in Venezuela

END ALL INTERVENTIONISM, NOT JUST IN VENEZUELA

It truly is phenomenal. The massive death and destruction from U.S. interventionism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East isn’t even over with, and yet interventionist dead-enders are now shifting their sights to Venezuela. One almost gets the impression that the dead-enders are saying to America, “Please, give us one more chance. We promise we’ll get it right this time.” 

Obviously, the dead-enders are hoping that Americans forget the unmitigated disasters that interventionism has produced on this side of the world, such as in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba, Chile, and others. 

The time has come for the American people to raise their sights to a higher level, one that involves not only rejecting more interventionism in Venezuela but one that rejects interventionism entirely. It is the only solution to the foreign policy-woes in which interventionist dead-enders have mired our nation. 

That necessarily means the following:

  1. Bring home all U.S. troops from everywhere and discharge them into the private sector, since they will no longer be needed.
  2. Abandon all U.S. military bases in foreign countries, including the Pentagon’s and CIA’s torture and prison center in Cuba.
  3. End all foreign aid, including to pro-U.S. dictatorial regimes.
  4. Restore a limited-government republic to our land, which necessarily means the dismantling of the national-security state branch of the federal government (i.e., the Pentagon, military-industrial complex, CIA, and NSA).

If Americans were to do those four things, the United States would be well on its way toward achieving a peaceful, prosperous, harmonious, and free society, which, needless to say, would be completely different from the type of society in which we live today, thanks to those interventionist dead-enders.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Top 5 Dumbest Arguments Defending Trump’s Venezuela Interventionism

Top 5 Dumbest Arguments Defending Trump’s Venezuela Interventionism

Ever since the Trump administration announced that it was no longer recognizing the legitimacy of the elected government of Venezuela I’ve been arguing with people on social media about this president’s brazen coup attempt in that country. The people arguing with me in favor of Trump’s interventionism are almost exclusively Trump supporters, with leftists and antiwar libertarians more or less on my side with this issue and rank-and-file centrists mostly preferring to sit this one out except to periodically mumble something about it being a distraction from the Mueller investigation.

I engage in these arguments not because I enjoy fighting with strangers on the internet, but because it helps me get an idea of what propaganda narratives have been seeded throughout various political sectors. Take a stand online and you’ll quickly have people running up to you saying, in effect, “My media echo chamber told me I’m supposed to disagree with you about that,” and spelling out what they’ve been told to believe.

I have not received a single robust argument in favor of Trump’s Venezuela interventionism, but I have received a whole lot of really, really stupid ones. Here are the top five most common and most astonishingly idiotic of them:

1. “Socialism is bad!”

Me: US interventionism is always disastrous and it always lies about its reasons for targeting South American and oil-rich nations.
Tsunami of Trump supporters: SOCIALISM IS BAD THO

This one is easily the most common and most stupid of all the arguments I’ve been receiving. I’m not familiar enough with pro-Trump punditry to be able to describe how the MAGA crowd got it into their heads that attacking Venezuela has something to do with fighting socialism, but it’s clear from my interactions over the last couple of days that that is the dominant narrative they’ve got swirling around in their collective consciousness.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The True Nature of US Interventions

The True Nature of US Interventions

‘Make America Great Again’: Trump’s slogan seems both to yearn for a time when the United States had more influence, and to call for its pre-eminence to be restored. In its own way, it asserts that the US is – or should be – different.  In fact it was only Trump’s predecessor, Obama, who was the first president to talk regularly about American exceptionalism, yet to Trump it is something that is long lost and it is his job to recover it. Yet belief in the US’s exceptional nature has been a constant feature of the country’s history, whoever has been president, and continues right up to the present day.

Its starting point in the early nineteenth century was the ‘Monroe doctrine’, the assertion of the US’s pre-eminent power in the western hemisphere, replacing the old colonial powers such as Spain and Portugal. Its domestic counterpart was the US’s God-given ‘manifest destiny’, which justified settlement of the whole North American continent, regardless of the presence of the people to whom much of the land already belonged. Whereas the Monroe doctrine at first reflected a degree of respect for the then newly emerging Latin American nations, by the end of the century it only thinly disguised a new kind of imperialism which justified US intervention anywhere in the hemisphere.

Soon after the end of the second world war, the former ‘great powers’ began to give up those colonies that had not already been returned to their rightful owners. But, fuelled by the cold war, the US began a new phase of imperialism. Dan Kovalik, in his new book The Plot to Control the World, quotes a report, which he says is almost certainly an underestimate, that the US interfered in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. And even that number omits more serious interventions such as US-provoked coups, assassinations and invasions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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