Category Archives: Uncategorized

Whistle Blower Reveals Systemic Public School Corruption

Charlotte Iserbyt served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, during the first Reagan Administration and has been blowing the whistle on a major technology initiative which has controlled curriculum in America’s classrooms ever since.

Source: TheBreakAway

Cook County Illinois Suffers Largest Population Drop In US

Illinois voters are voting with their feet. Not only are people scrambling to get out of Cook County, but the entire state is suffering.

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Illinois Policy Institute writer Michael Lucci explains in this guest post on Cook County Migration.

Cook County has Largest Population Loss of Any County in U.S.

Cook County lost more population than any other county in the United States from July 2015 to July 2016, according to a new data release from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Cook County shrank by 21,324 people. The county had more births than deaths and gained 18,434 people from international immigration. However, Cook County had a net loss of 66,244 people to other parts of the United States, which more than offset the components of population growth.

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However, the people leaving Cook County aren’t showing up in other parts of Illinois when the net movements of people are considered.

In fact, most of Illinois is depopulating – 93 of Illinois’ 102 counties are experiencing net out-migration, and 89 of Illinois’ 102 counties have shrinking populations. Illinois’ dysfunctional government, weak job creation, and ever-increasing tax burden help explain why. A Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll released in October 2016 found that taxes were the No. 1 reason people want to leave Illinois.

Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry, Will counties see net out-migration to other parts of the U.S.

The major driver of Cook County’s shrinking population is that the county’s domestic migration losses have doubled over the last five years, while international gains have remained flat and gains from more births than deaths have declined.

The flow of people out of Cook County did not result in net in-migration for the collar counties. Cook County’s net out-migration of 66,244 people was followed by net out-migration of 9,171 people from DuPage; 5,179 from Lake; 1,824 from Kane; 1,589 from McHenry; and 1,253 from Will. Kendall County is the nearest to Cook to have net inflows, with Kendall gaining 553 more people than it lost to other parts of the country.

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The out-migration from Cook, DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties was large enough to make all those counties shrink in total population. Kane County and Will County managed to have population gains despite their out-migration problems.

It should worry policymakers in Chicago and Cook County that out-migration and population loss were already so strong in the July 2015 – July 2016 timeframe. That’s because Chicago and Cook County’s major property and sales tax hikes had not yet taken effect at the time of this out-migration. When those tax hikes are in place, the Chicago area will likely lose more population due to taxation. And the economic effects of increased taxation will be felt a few years later, with fewer jobs and economic growth than would have occurred without the tax hikes. Population loss in the Chicago area is likely to get worse.

Not just the collar counties: All of Illinois is seeing population losses

The problem is not just with Cook and the collar counties: The majority of Illinois counties are shrinking. Eighty-nine of Illinois’ 102 counties are shrinking in total population. Northeast Illinois is shrinking most in terms of total population, but many downstate counties are shrinking and seeing more out-migration as a percentage of population. For example, Rock Island and Peoria counties both have more out-migration as a percentage of population than Cook County.

https://mishgea.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/cook-county-lucci-3.png?w=767&h=750

Most of Illinois’ metropolitan statistical areas are also shrinking due to large migration losses to other parts of the country, with only Elgin and Champaign showing slow population growth. The Chicago metro division saw a net migration loss of nearly 78,000 people, driving a population decline of more than 19,000 people for the Chicago metro division.

Elgin had net migration losses to other parts of the country. However, Elgin’s population growth is attributable to an unusually high birth rate and a solid gain of international immigrants. Champaign similarly relies on international immigration to avoid a shrinking population size. Champaign showed a large gain from international immigration, likely a flow of international students to the University of Illinois.

https://mishgea.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/cook-county-lucci-4.png?w=625

The U.S. Census Bureau’s report does not come as a surprise, but it should serve as a warning to state and local governments. Illinois is depopulating, and no area is immune from its effects. Downstate communities are especially stressed due to the loss of manufacturing jobs and other blue-collar industries. And the Chicago area is likely to face additional stress as nearly $2 billion dollars in tax hikes are phased in over the next few years.

Lawmakers can take on two key measures to give taxpayers hope. The first is to freeze property taxes statewide so Illinoisans can feel secure in their homes. The second is to pass a balanced budget without any tax increases to give residents confidence that lawmakers can rein in out-of-control spending and not repeatedly hit up taxpayers for more of their hard-earned dollars.

Before considering any more tax increases, policymakers statewide should consider the sobering reality of how quickly people are leaving the state.

Michael Lucci

Mish Getaway

People keep asking “When are you leaving?” Rest assured plans are in progress and have been for some time.

But some people are stuck here. Others want to be here for personal reasons even though they are fed up with the state of affairs.

IPI Push

  1. Give Illinoisans much-needed property tax relief
  2. Consolidate Illinois’ many layers of duplicative government
  3. Cut burdensome regulations to attract businesses and jobs to Illinois

The Illinois Policy Institute is fighting on your behalf every day in Springfield. Please consider Making a Contribution to Illinois Policy Institute.

I am an unpaid senior fellow at the IPI and receive no part of donations. My benefit is the same as yours. The IPI is fighting on our behalf.

The Illinois Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Few organizations work as hard as the IPI to support Illinois taxpayers.

By Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Following The Path Of One Mr. Black

 

In the cold valley of the dead…
Where the moon refuses to rise…

The beaten and the damned…
Slowly walk, with lifeless eyes…

Carrying their sinful burden…
Weighed down by their crimes…

Committed in the knowledge…
That there would come a time…

Payment would be expected…
For the sullied lives they led…

And for each dark indiscretion…
A strand of soul would be shed…

Leading them to this silent place…
Where there is no form of mercy…

Where their devils and their demons…
Became jailers in this purgatory…

Injecting visions into their heads…
Replaying flashbacks of the past…

A constant and daily reminder…
A mental punishment that will last…

Ensuring the blood on their hands…
Will never wash clean in the river…

And permanently staining their sight…
So whenever they search in a mirror…

They witness the horror before them…
See the monsters they’ve become…

And in their descent into this evil…
Became property of the snakelike one…

Who must carry their deepest secrets…
Beyond earth’s unforgiving cold grave…

Understanding they are lost forever…
With no chance that someone will save…

As it was part of the deal they signed…
Which was then sealed by their actions…

And the small print in the contract…
Prevented any last ditch retraction…

From the cold valley of the damned…
Where the sinners will always rise…

Once their time on earth is over…
And silver coins cover their eyes…

Source: Eye Will Not Cry

Why’s Facebook Enabling Hard Core Child Abuse Across it’s Platform?

While Facebook facilitates facial recognition and vacuums up user data by the exa-byte (look it up), they draw the line at being asked to clamp down on child porn being passed around on its servers.

In a shocking story putting the massive social network in a very seedy light, Gizmodo reported last week, “When BBC journalists discovered child porn on the network and sent those images to Facebook last week, the company reported the BBC to police in the UK for the distribution of illegal images.”

That’s right. When informed that pedophiles were passing around pictures of children in the vilest, most unholy ways, Facebook shot the messenger. Well, Facebook asked police to do it for them — metaphorically of course.

Investigative reporters from the BBC have a long history of tracking down the perverts that seem to pervade the Internet. After discovering that there was a significant amount of such images floating around Facebook, the network notified executives at the company, offering to sit down and show Facebook’s representatives the evidence of pedophilia collected by BBC reporters.

 

Again, from Gizmodo:

Simon Milner [a Facebook representative], finally agreed to sit down for an interview about moderation tools on the network. There was just one condition: Facebook asked that the BBC reporters send the company images that they’d found on Facebook’s secret groups that the BBC would like to discuss.

The BBC complied with Facebook’s request, sent the images to the company, and then, almost unbelievably, Facebook backed out of the scheduled sit down and reported the BBC to the police!

In explanation of its extraordinary actions, Facebook issued a statement explaining, “It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation.”

Imagine informing your neighbor that you saw someone break into his house and then offering to show him the evidence of the crime and then he calls the police, claiming you were the criminal!

Facebook says it is sufficiently policing child pornography and pedophilia by providing a “Report Button” on the site whereby users can identify potential pedophiles and “nudity and other sexually suggestive content.”

A report button. That’s multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s answer to demonstrable accusations of pedophilia rings maintained on Facebook’s servers and classified as “secret” groups.

BBC apparently considered the “Report Button” likely to prove unreliable, therefore the news organ conducted its own experiment on its effectiveness. The BBC reports:

To test Facebook’s claim, the BBC used the report button to alert the company to 100 images which appeared to break its guidelines. They included:

• pages explicitly for men with a sexual interest in children

• images of under-16s in highly sexualised [sic] poses, with obscene comments posted beside them

• groups with names such as “hot xxxx schoolgirls” containing stolen images of real children

• an image that appeared to be a still from a video of child abuse, with a request below it to share “child pornography.”

Of the 100 images only 18 were removed.

Facebook told the BBC that the other 82 images didn’t cross the company’s “inappropriate” threshold.

Undeterred, the BBC continued its test of Facebook’s accountability on the issue of child pornography and pedophilia:

Facebook’s rules forbid convicted sex offenders from having accounts.

But the BBC found five convicted pedophiles [sic] with profiles, and reported them to Facebook via its own system. None of them were taken down.

“I find it very disturbing, I find that content unacceptable,” said Mr Collins in response.

“I think it raises the question of how can users make effective complaints to Facebook about content that is disturbing, shouldn’t be on the site, and have confidence that that will be acted upon.”

David Jordan, the BBC Director of Editorial Policy, is concerned about the cause of Facebook’s bizarre reaction to receiving undeniable evidence of pedophilia and child pornography on its servers.

“The fact that Facebook sent images that had been sent to them, that appear on their site, for their response about how Facebook deals with inappropriate images … the fact that they sent those on to the police seemed to me to be extraordinary,” he said.

“One can only assume that the Facebook executives were unwilling or certainly reluctant to engage in an interview or a debate about why these images are available on the Facebook site.”

Facebook’s disregard of disgusting content on its site seems to be nothing new. Consider this story published by FoxNews.com on September 28, 2010:

The world’s largest pro-pedophilia advocacy group uses Facebook to connect with its members throughout the world; to find and exchange photos of children; to hone its members’ predatory behavior; and to identify, target and reel in child victims, an investigation by FoxNews.com reveals.

The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is a revolting organization devoted to providing opportunities for pedophiles to find children to exploit.

FoxNews.com’s investigation revealed:

Facebook says it has a strict policy against the posting of content that supports groups engaged in child exploitation, yet a simple, five-second search on Facebook, conducted on Sept. 23, yielded dozens of pages devoted to the infamous North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). Many of those pages featured numerous photos of unnamed boys, some of whom appeared to be too young for kindergarten.  

The same day, FoxNews.com found hundreds of links to NAMBLA’s website on Facebook, which has more than half a billion users worldwide. And posts on known pedophile blogs and chat rooms show an organized effort by pedophiles to use the social networking site to prey on children.

Why would Facebook and its executives and managers permit such perversion on its site, a site accessed by over one billion people every day?

A better, more relevant question would be why conservatives, Christians, and others of strong moral character continue to patronize a site so reluctant to run perverts off its site?

“Facebook has been recognized as one of the best platforms on the internet for child safety,” Facebook said in a statement.

That’s a position seemingly impossible to prove. What is certain, though, is that when offered evidence of the vilest perversion being passed around on its servers, Facebook called the police on the whistle blowers.

Source: The International Reporter

Lang May Yer Lum Reek

Lang may yer lum reek (Long may your chimney smoke or May you live long and keep well)

Two paddies were working for the city public works department. One would dig a hole and the other would follow behind him and fill the hole in. They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, then moved on to the next street, working furiously all day without rest, one man digging a hole, the other filling it in again.

An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but couldn’t understand what they were doing. So he asked the hole digger, “I’m impressed by the effort you two are putting in to your work, but I don’t get it – why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?”

The hole digger wiped his brow and sighed, “Well, I suppose it probably looks odd because we’re normally a three-person team. But today the lad who plants the trees called in sick.”

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Yer aff yer heid!

Illinois General Assembly Retirement System Only 13.52% Funded

Despite a massive rally in the stock market, Illinois public pension liabilities continue to grow.

GARS, the Illinois General Assembly Retirement System, is only 13.52% funded, down from 17% funded in 2013. How long can GARS last?

Meanwhile, Illinois has accrued a combined net pension liability of roughly $130 billion on which it assumes a 7% return.

Effectively, that is an interest liability of $9.1 billion a year even though that liability technically does not bear interest.

This is a guest post from Michael Lucci at the Illinois Policy Institute.

Interest on Illinois’ Pension Debt is $9.1 Billion Per Year

Illinois isn’t covering the interest payments on its pension debt. Those interest payments total $9.1 billion a year.

This is the reason Illinois’ pension debt continues to grow. As with personal credit card debt, until the interest is paid off none of the actual debt gets erased. Illinois’ pension debt is so large that it’s unlikely payments will cover the interest on the pension debt until 2028, according to a November 2016 special pension briefing from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

Illinois politicians have known for years about the state’s pension crisis, even if they have not taken serious steps to address the problem. Gov. Bruce Rauner recently spoke out on the cost of interest on the pension debt. Former Gov. George Ryan weighed in as well, saying:

“First off, the biggest problem we got with the budget right now is the interest they are paying on the debt. If I were the governor, … I’d say we are never going to be able to pay the full debt back, so let’s eliminate half the debt right now and write it off.

“If that’s not constitutional, it might be worth changing the constitution. That would dramatically reduce the amount of interest that they’re paying. The bond ratings would go up and the interest would go down.”

Ryan seemed to be referring to the annual “interest cost” on Illinois’ pension debt, which is about $9.1 billion per year, or $25 million per day. The portion of interest cost that isn’t covered each year is simply added to the debt.

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Why Illinois’ pension debt keeps growing

Illinois has about $78 billion in assets on hand to pay for pensions. But the present value of the state’s accrued liability is $208 billion. That leaves a difference of $130 billion, which is money the state owes – but doesn’t have.

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Illinois pension math assumes an annual investment return rate of just over 7 percent on $208 billion in pension assets. If pension assets end up returning less than 7 percent per year, then the actual pension liability will end up being much larger than is currently assumed.

However, $130 billion of that accrued pension liability doesn’t exist, which is considered the pension debt. This debt does not bear interest like a bond does – but it functions the same way in reality. Because $130 billion is missing, Illinois will automatically miss out on the 7 percent annual investment return on that nonexistent $130 billion. This “missed” investment return is about $9.1 billion per year, and is essentially the interest cost on the $130 billion pension debt.

Illinois’ type of payment plan, which fails to cover interest, is called “negative amortization.” The debt principal continues to grow because the pension payment does not cover the interest cost. The portion of the interest payment that isn’t covered is added to the debt.

As actuary Tia Goss Sawhney explained, a full pension payment is made up of three parts:

Full payment = Employer normal cost + interest cost + principal reduction payment

However, Illinois’ scheduled pension payments are too small to cover the normal cost and interest cost, causing the unfunded liability to go up. For example, in fiscal year 2018, Illinois will make an $8.9 billion pension payment, which will cover the $2.1 billion employer normal cost and $6.8 billion of annual interest cost. However, the annual interest cost is actually $9.1 billion, meaning that after the employer’s portion of the normal cost, Illinois will come up $2.3 billion short on the interest payment. The unpaid portion of the interest cost is added to the debt, just as if a person didn’t cover the full interest payment on a home loan or credit card. In Illinois’ case, that $2.3 billion shortfall will be added to the pension debt.

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The reason the principal reduction payment is negative is because the debt grows.

Illinois needs a constitutional amendment to allow for real pension reform

As Ryan pointed out, Illinois’ pension math might never add up without reducing the $130 billion pension debt, which the Illinois Constitution currently protects from being restructured. Even though Illinois is already overtaxed, and pension costs are driving up taxes more each year, the state still can’t cover the interest cost on the pension debt until 2028. On top of that, many local communities like Chicago have pension problems that are even more severe than the state’s problems. And the math gets even worse if Illinois doesn’t hit investment returns of 7 percent per year.

A golden rule of finance is this: Debt that can’t be paid won’t be paid. The state should develop a contingency plan to repeal the Illinois Constitution’s pension protection clause and restructure pension obligations to pull Illinois out of a potential death spiral should the need arise. Such a plan should preserve benefits for government workers with modest pensions while means-testing the richer pension benefits. This would almost certainly be challenged as a violation of the contracts clause of the U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. Supreme Court might ultimately decide the matter.

Illinois might be one serious recession away from a financial death spiral. A deep recession would reduce the value of pension assets while also causing tax revenues to decline. Illinois’ pension obligations would increase just as tax revenues dried up. After such a recession ended, out-migration would likely surge as Illinoisans increasingly realized the impossibility of financing their government’s spending promises. If financial assets fall and do not recover, Illinois’ pension math might be doomed.

The battered ship of Illinois’ finances is lurching toward a rocky shore. Lawmakers should develop a contingency plan for an emergency situation, and be prepared to enact it in order to salvage the state’s finance.

Michael Lucci

Start Mish Comments – Death Spiral

Lucci noted: Illinois might be one serious recession away from a financial death spiral.”

He is too optimistic. Illinois’ pension is in a financial death spiral whether a recession hits or not.

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Despite a massive rally, state of Illinois pension liabilities grew. It will not take a recession for a crisis to hit. Illinois is in a crisis now.

That crisis will be obvious to everyone when a big correction hits the stock market. Like it or not, a big correction is guaranteed at some point.

Blowing Bubbles

Thanks to the monetary policies of the Fed, ECB, Bank of China, Bank of Japan, and central banks in general, stock markets have now surpassed the 1929 high in bubbliness.

Only the dot-com bubble was bigger.

John Hussman has an excellent write-up of the bubble in When Speculators Prosper Through Ignorance.

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Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man blog continues the discussion with Speculative Blow-Offs in Stock Markets – Part 2

Destructive Bubbles

Central banks’ seriously misguided attempts to fight routine consumer price deflation, fueled very destructive asset bubbles that eventually collapse.

Worse yet, many pension plans did not even benefit from the speculative boom, but they sure will participate in the next collapse.

GMO 7-Year Forecast

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As of the end of 2016, GMO forecast real (inflation-adjusted) losses in both US stocks and bonds for the next seven years!

Things are so bubbly now, that GMO now foresees nominal losses in US equities. At this juncture, even gains of say 3.5% for the next seven years would sink the system.

Pension Reality

Public unions are already screaming for tax hikes to bail them out. Giving in to such an approach would do nothing but further drive businesses and wealthy Illinoisans out of the state, compounding the problem.

It’s time to admit reality: The Illinois pension system is insolvent, and not just at the state level. Illinois cities are also impacted.

Illinois Cure

  • At the municipal level, we need bankruptcy legislation so that cities and municipalities can shed liabilities in bankruptcy proceedings.
  • At the state level, we need pension reform. I propose taxing pension benefits above a certain level at a high enough rate to make the system solvent.

How likely is that?

For the answer, please recall my opening remarks: GARS, the Illinois General Assembly Retirement System, is only 13.52% funded, down from 17% funded in 2013.

Illinois is in a pension crisis. Forced admission of that fact will soon be thrust on Illinois politicians who will undoubtedly have an eye on your pocketbook. In fact, they already do: Mary Pat at Stump reports Illinois wants to tax ALL THE THINGS!

National Problem

Lest you think only Illinois is affected by this mess please consider:

  1. Dallas on Verge of Bankruptcy Due to Pensions; Just a Matter of Time (For Dallas, Houston, LA, Oakland, Chicago, etc)
  2. Criminal Witch Hunt in Dallas Pension Fiasco
  3. In Search of a Fix (When None is Possible): What Happens?

National Cure

Every state in the union will be affected as soon as the stock rally subsides. Even flat returns for seven years would bankrupt most state pension systems.

Corrupt states like Illinois will never address the problem properly.

We need national bankruptcy legislation to allow municipal bankruptcies in every state, national right-to-work legislation, and the end of prevailing wage laws to lower cost burdens on cash-strapped cities and states.

By Mike “Mish” Shedlock | Mish Talk

What’s Left To Defend If America Has Become The Enemy Of Civil Liberties And Democracy?

The Conflict within the Deep State Just Broke into Open Warfare

The battle raging in the Deep State isn’t just a bureaucratic battle–it’s a war for the soul, identity and direction of the nation.

When do the unlimited powers of the Intelligence/Security agencies threaten America’s domestic and global national interests? The CIA and its political enablers claim the agency’s essentially unlimited powers, partially revealed by Wikileak’s Vault 7, pose no threat to America’s interests, since they are intended to “defend” American interests.

This is the rationale presented by neocon CIA allies in both political parties: the CIA can’t possibly threaten America’s interests because the CIA defines America’s interests.

This is the wormhole down which civil liberties and democracy have drained. It is an extraordinarily defining moment in American history when the director of the FBI publicly declares that there is no such thing as “absolute privacy” in the U.S.

In effect, privacy is now contingent on the level of interest the Security State has in the private conversation/data. If we read the U.S. Constitution, we do not find such contingencies: civil liberties are absolute. Post-1790 presidents have temporarily mooted civil liberties in time of war, and the CIA-led camp of the Deep State has justified its unlimited powers by effectively declared “a state of war is now permanent and enduring.”

So what’s left to defend if America has become the enemy of civil liberties and democracy, i.e. become a totalitarian state ruled by Security Services and their political henchmen and apologists?

I have long suggested that the tectonic plates of the Deep State are shifting as the ruling consensus has eroded. Some elements of the Deep State–what I call the progressive wing, which is (ironically to some) anchored in the military services– now view the neocon-CIA (Security State)-Wall Street elements as profoundly dangerous to America’s long-term interests, both domestically and globally.

Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)

I have suggested that this “rogue Deep State” quietly aided Donald Trump (by subtly undermining Hillary Clinton’s campaign) as the last best chance to save the nation from the neocon’s over-reach that the Establishment’s Wall Street-funded leadership (Bush, Clinton, Obama, et al.) has overseen–including granting the CIA and its allies virtually unlimited powers unhindered by any effective oversight.

Does a Rogue Deep State Have Trump’s Back? (January 18, 2017)

This profound split in the Deep State has now broken into open warfare. The first salvo was the absurd propaganda campaign led by Establishment mouthpieces The New York Times and The Washington Post claiming Russian agents had “hacked” the U.S. election to favor Trump.

This fact-free propaganda campaign failed–having no evidence didn’t work quite as well as the NYT and Wapo expected– and so the propaganda machine launched the second salvo, accusing Trump of being a Russian patsy.

The evidence for this claim was equally laughable, and that campaign has only made the Establishment, its propaganda mouthpieces and the neocon Deep State look desperate and foolish on the global and domestic stages.

The desperate neocon Deep State and its Democratic Party allies went to absurd lengths to undermine Trump via the “Boris and Natasha” strategy of accusing Trump of collaborating with the Evil Russkies, even going so far as to briefly exhume former President G.W. Bush from deep-freeze to make a fool of himself, saying the Trump-Evil Russkies connection should be “investigated.”

Now the rogue elements have launched a counterstrike–Vault 7. Here is one example of how quickly the CIA’s over-reach has been absorbed by the body politic:

https://i0.wp.com/www.oftwominds.com/photos2017/FB-CIA.jpg

I highly recommend reading Wikileak’s summary of Vault 7: Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed.

We now know that the CIA maintained a special program (UMBRAGE) to mimic Russia-based hackers and create false trails back to fictitious “Russian hackers.” A number of highly experienced analysts who reviewed the supposed “Russian hacks” had suggested the “evidence” smelled of false trails– not just bread crumbs, but bread crumbs heavy-handedly stenciled “this is Russian malware.”

The body count from Vault 7 has not yet been tallied, but it wouldn’t surprise me if former President Obama and his team eventually end up as political casualties. Non-partisan observers are noting all this over-reach occurred on Obama’s watch, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that one of Obama’s last executive orders stripped away the last shreds of oversight of what could be “shared” (or invented) between the Security Agencies.

Indeed, the entire leadership of the Democratic Party seems to have placed all their chips on the increasingly unviable claim that the CIA is the squeaky clean defender of America.

Vault 7 is not just political theater–it highlights the core questions facing the nation: what is left to defend if civil liberties and democratically elected oversight have been reduced to Potemkin-village travesties?

If there are no limits on CIA powers and surveillance, then what is left of civil liberties and democracy? Answer: nothing.

The battle raging in the Deep State isn’t just a bureaucratic battle–it’s a war for the soul, identity and direction of the nation. Citizens who define America’s interests as civil liberties and democracy should be deeply troubled by the Establishment’s surrender of these in favor of a National Security State with essentially no limits.

Americans tasked with defending America’s “interests” globally should be asking if a CIA/NSA et al. with unlimited power is detrimental to America’s soft and hard power globally, and toxic to its influence.

The answer is obvious: a CIA with unlimited power and the backing of a corrupt Establishment and media is more than detrimental to America’s soft and hard power globally–it is disastrous and potentially fatal to America’s interests, standing and influence.

Those of us on the sidelines can only hope that the progressive wing of the Deep State, the rogue elements who see the terrible danger of an unlimited National Security State, will succeed in undermining the powerful political support for this toxic totalitarian regime.

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print). For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.

By Charles Hugh Smith | Of Two Minds