Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Take It To The Bank

People do not make decisions based on logic.
They make decisions based on feelings.
Then they use logic to back up those decisions.

-- "Crazy" Kelly Crisp

Monday, March 30, 2015

“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.”

— Douglas Coupland

Artiphon Instrument 1

The U.S. government borrows approximately $5 billion
every business day.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Extra-Sensory Perception

Even though I am such a big fan of science fiction, I usually lean toward skepticism in real life. Like UFOs, ghosts, tales of Bigfoot, people who profess to like me, I am doubtful. That skepticism includes belief in Extra Sensory Perception (ESP). Now, I do not entirely discount its existence out of hand, but I do believe that the way this material world is designed, it really doesn't allow for some things to occur.

Yet, with that said, I often wonder why so many science fiction writers with brains double the size of my poor waste of skull space have so often visualized a future human race in which ESP does exist. Apparently, it is an accepted possibility. Plus, there have been documented cases of what seem to be actual ESP experiences. Oh, there are plenty of hoaxes, as well. I think an exploration of the topic is in order.

Extrasensory perception involves the reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. The term was adopted by Duke University psychologist J. B. Rhine to denote psychic abilities such as telepathy, clairaudience, and clairvoyance, and their trans-temporal operation as precognition or retrocognition. ESP is also sometimes referred to as a sixth sense. The term implies acquisition of information by means external to the basic limiting assumptions of science, such as that organisms can only receive information from the past to the present.

Parapsychology is the study of paranormal psychic phenomena, including ESP. Parapsychologists generally regard such tests as the ganzfeld experiment as providing compelling evidence for the existence of ESP. The scientific community rejects ESP due to the absence of an evidence base, the lack of a theory which would explain ESP, the lack of experimental techniques which can provide reliably positive results, and considers ESP a pseudoscience.

In the 1930s, at Duke University in North Carolina J. B. Rhine and his wife Louisa tried to develop psychical research into an experimental science. To avoid the connotations of hauntings and the seance room, they renamed it "parapsychology". While Louisa Rhine concentrated on collecting accounts of spontaneous cases, J. B. Rhine worked largely in the laboratory, carefully defining terms such as ESP and psi and designing experiments to test them. A simple set of cards was developed, originally called Zener cards - now called ESP cards. They bear the symbols circle, square, wavy lines, cross, and star; there are five cards of each in a pack of 25.

In a telepathy experiment, the "sender" looks at a series of cards while the "receiver" guesses the symbols. To try to observe clairvoyance, the pack of cards is hidden from everyone while the receiver guesses. To try to observe precognition, the order of the cards is determined after the guesses are made.

In all such experiments order of the cards must be random so that hits are not obtained through systematic biases or prior knowledge. At first the cards were shuffled by hand, then by machine. Later, random number tables were used, nowadays, computers. An advantage of ESP cards is that statistics can easily be applied to determine whether the number of hits obtained is higher than would be expected by chance. Rhine used ordinary people as subjects and claimed that, on average, they did significantly better than chance expectation. Later he used dice to test for psychokinesis and also claimed results that were better than chance.

In 1940, Rhine, J.G. Pratt, and others at Duke authored a review of all card-guessing experiments conducted internationally since 1882 titled Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years. It included details of replications of Rhine's studies. Through these years, 50 studies were published, of which 33 were contributed by investigators other than Rhine and the Duke University group; 61% of these independent studies reported significant results suggestive of ESP. Among these were psychologists at Colorado University and Hunter College, New York, who completed the studies with the largest number of trials and the highest levels of significance. Replication failures encouraged Rhine to further research into the conditions necessary to experimentally produce the effect. He maintained, however, that it was not replicability, or even a fundamental theory of ESP that would evolve research, but only a greater interest in unconscious mental processes and a more complete understanding of human personality.

One of the first statistical studies of ESP, using card-guessing, was conducted by Ina Jephson, in the 1920s. She reported mixed findings across two studies. More successful experiments were conducted with procedures other than card-guessing. G.N.M. Tyrrell used automated target-selection and data-recording in guessing the location of a future point of light. Whateley Carington experimented on the paranormal cognition of drawings of randomly selected words, using participants from across the globe. J. Hettinger studied the ability to retrieve information associated with token objects.

Less successful was University of London mathematician Samuel Soal in his attempted replications of the card-guessing studies. However, following a hypothesis suggested by Carington on the basis of his own findings, Soal re-analysed his data for evidence of what Carington termed displacement. Soal discovered, to his surprise, that four of his former participants, Randolph Tucker Pendleton IV, Amanda Bailey, Ling Dao and Rachel Brown, evidenced displacement: i.e., their responses significantly corresponded to targets for trials one removed from which they were assigned. Soal sought to confirm this finding by testing these participants in new experiments. Conducted during the war years, into the 1950s, under tightly controlled conditions, they produced highly significant results suggestive of precognitive telepathy. The findings were convincing for many other scientists and philosophers regarding telepathy and the claims of Rhine, but were also prominently critiqued as fraudulent, until, following Soal's death in 1975, support for them was largely abandoned.

Rhine and other parapsychologists found that some subjects, or some conditions, produced significant below-chance scoring (psi-missing); or that scores declined during the testing (the "decline effect"). Some such "internal effects" in ESP scores have also appeared to be idiosyncratic to particular participants or research methods. Most notable is the focusing effect identified in the decade-long research with Pavel Stepanek.

Personality measures have also been tested. People who believe in psi ("sheep") tend to score above chance, while those who do not believe in psi ("goats") show null results or psi-missing. This has become known as the "sheep-goat effect".

Prediction of decline and other position effects has proved challenging, although they have been often identified in data gathered for the purpose of observing other effects. Personality and attitudinal effects have shown greater predictability, with meta-analysis of parapsychological databases showing the sheep-goat effect, and other traits, to have significant and reliable effects over the accumulated data.

In the 1960s, in line with the development of cognitive psychology and humanistic psychology, parapsychologists became increasingly interested in the cognitive components of ESP, the subjective experience involved in making ESP responses, and the role of ESP in psychological life. Memory, for instance, was offered as a better model of psi than perception. This called for experimental procedures that were not limited to Rhine's favored forced-choice methodology. Free-response measures, such as used by Carington in the 1930s, were developed with attempts to raise the sensitivity of participants to their cognitions. These procedures included relaxation, meditation, REM-sleep, and the Ganzfeld (a mild sensory deprivation procedure). These studies have proved to be even more successful than Rhine's forced-choice paradigm, with meta-analyses evidencing reliable effects, and many confirmatory replication studies.

The study of psi phenomena such as ESP is called parapsychology. The consensus of the Parapsychological Association is that certain types of psychic phenomena such as psychokinesis, telepathy, and astral projection are well established.

A great deal of reported extrasensory perception is said to occur spontaneously in conditions which are not scientifically controlled. Such experiences have often been reported to be much stronger and more obvious than those observed in laboratory experiments. These reports, rather than laboratory evidence, have historically been the basis for the widespread belief in the authenticity of these phenomena. However, it has proven extremely difficult (perhaps impossible) to replicate such extraordinary experiences under controlled scientific conditions.

Proponents of the ESP phenomena point to numerous studies that cite evidence of the phenomenon's existence: the work of Russell Targ and Harold E. Puthoff, who were physicists at SRI International in the 1970s, as well as J. B. Rhine at Duke University and many others, are often cited in arguments that ESP exists.

The main current debate concerning ESP surrounds whether or not statistically compelling laboratory evidence for it has already been accumulated. The most accepted results are all small to moderate statistically significant results. Critics may dispute the positive interpretation of results obtained in scientific studies of ESP, as they claim they are difficult to reproduce reliably, and are small in effect. Parapsychologists have argued that the data from numerous studies show that certain individuals have consistently produced remarkable results while the remainder have constituted a highly significant trend that cannot be dismissed even if the effect is small.

Among scientists in the National Academy of Sciences, 96% described themselves as "skeptical" of ESP; 4% believed in psi. Among all scientists surveyed, 10% felt that parapsychological research should be encouraged. The National Academy of Sciences had previously sponsored the Enhancing Human Performance report on mental development programs, which was critical of parapsychology.

Skeptics claim that there is a lack of a viable theory of the mechanism behind ESP, and that there are historical cases in which flaws have been discovered in the experimental design of parapsychological studies.

Critics of experimental parapsychology hold that there are no consistent and agreed-upon standards by which "ESP powers" may be tested. It is argued that when psychics are challenged by skeptics and fail to prove their alleged powers, they assign all sorts of reasons for their failure, such as that the skeptic is affecting the experiment with "negative energy" or their cellphone is causing interference. Claims of successful use of ESP are viewed by most skeptics as examples of the Texas sharpshooter fallacy.

And so, what do you think? Are there unknown ways to communicate and manipulate the space around us? Do you believe in things you can't see? Like radio waves? Nuclear reactions in the sun? Moon landings? God? Or, do you just believe what you can see with your own eyes?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Truth? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Truth

Combating terrorism is the excuse for squandering a minimum of $6,000 billion dollars

by Paul Craig Roberts

According to a Nobel economist and a Harvard University budget expert, Washington’s 14 years of war on terror has cost Americans a minimum of $6 trillion. That’s 6,000 billion dollars. This sum, together with the current PayRoll tax revenues is enough to keep Social Security and Medicare in the black for years to come. Without the vast sum wasted on the war on terror, Congress would not have an excuse to be trying to cut Social Security and Medicare for budget reasons and to privatize the old age pensions and health care of people, thus turning Medicare and Social Security pensions into fee income for Wall Street.

Combating terrorism is the excuse for squandering a minimum of $6,000 billion dollars. What were the terrorist events that serve as a basis for this expenditure?

There are five: 9/11, the London transport system bombings, the Spanish train bombing, the Boston Marathon Bombing, and the French Charlie Hebdo rifle attack.

In other words, 5 questionable events in 14 years.

The loss of life in all these events combined is minuscule compared to the loss of life in the war on terror. Even the deaths of our own soldiers is greater. Washington’s wars against terror have caused more deaths of Americans than the alleged terrorist events themselves.

But were they terrorist events?

There are many reasons to suspect these “terrorist attacks.” Governments have always resorted to false flag events in order to serve secret agendas. The Czar’s secret police set off bombs in order to create grounds for arresting labor agitators. We know from Operation Gladio that Western intelligence services did the same thing in order to blame European communist parties and block their electoral gains. Washington lived in fear that a communist party would gain executive power in some European country.

The 9/11 Truth movement, consisting of 2,300 architects and engineers, physicists, nano-chemists, military and airline pilots, first responders, and former government officials, have blown the official 9/11 story out of the water. No person with a brain believes the official story. The chairman, co-chairman, and legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission have written books stating that information was withheld from the commission, that the military lied to the commission, and that the commission “was set up to fail.”

Now we have claims from an imprisoned Al Qaeda member that Saudi Arabia financed 9/11. There is a secret government document, whose 28 pages allegedly point to Saudi involvement, that some lawmakers think should be released. At this point we have no way of knowing whether this is another layer of cover, another red herring to divert attention from the collapsing 9/11 story to the Saudis, whose country is also on the neoconservative list of Middle Eastern countries to be overthrown. When Washington lies and withholds information, the American people cannot know what the truth is.

There are peculiarities and contradictory evidence with regard to the London transport bombings and the Spanish train bombing. Moreover, these bombings arrived at the right time to serve Washington’s propaganda and purposes, while what terrorists had to gain from them is unclear and ambiguous. The Boston Marathon Bombing and the Paris Charlie Hebdo attack have many characteristics of false flag attacks, but the media have not asked a single question. Instead, the media hypes the official explanations. When questions cannot be asked or answered, it is a reasonable suspicion that something is wrong with the story.

Myself and a large number of observant and astute persons have asked questions about the Boston and Paris events. Our reward, of course, has been ad hominem attacks. For example, a non-entity of whom no one has ever heard used Salon, known as A Voice For The Government, to call me a series of names for asking the obvious questions that every journalist should be asking.

The only reason to read Salon is to continue your brainwashing experience as a good patriotic American should. I mean, how dare you contemplate disbelieving your honest, caring, loving, humane, moral, life-preserving, truth-telling government, which takes special care to spare human life everywhere, as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Ukraine.

You can take it as a general rule that anytime you see an ad hominem attack on someone who raises questions that the questions are dangerous and that the government is using its well-paid trolls to discredit the skeptic who raised the questions.

The Charlie Hebdo and Boston bombing have in common that the police decided to kill the alleged perpetrators rather than capture them–just as a person alleged to be Osama bin Laden was gratuitously murdered in the raid on the “mastermind’s compound” in Pakistan. Dead men tell no tales. They can’t contradict the story.

The obvious question is, like the question about Osama bin Laden’s alleged murder by a Seal in Abbottabad, Pakistan, why were such valuable intelligence resources killed rather than captured? But the Western print and TV media have not made a point of this obvious question. One of the alleged suspects in the Charlie Hebdo affair, Hamyd Mourad, when he heard via social media that he was the driver of the getaway car of the Charlie Hebdo killers, had the wits to quickly turn himself into the French police before he could be murdered as a terrorist. The frame-up of this intended victim failed. http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/looking-mourad-hamyd

I have seen nothing in the news questioning how the official story can be so wrong about Hamyd Mourad and still be right about the alleged brothers who conducted the attack. The evidence connecting the brothers to the attack is the claim that they left their ID in the get-away car. This reminds me of the passport initially said to have been found in the ruble of the twin towers that was used to establish the identity of the alleged perpetrators of 9/11.

Hamyd Mourad is like the surviving Tsamaev brother. Neither were supposed to survive, because their stories, if we ever hear them, will not fit the official explanation.

We are only two months short of two years since the Marathon bombing and the surviving brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is only now being brought to trial. Additionally, both he and his attorney are under gag orders. Why? http://whowhatwhy.org/2015/01/06/boston-marathon-bombing-suspect-silent/

According to the official story, Dzhokhar wrote his confession on the side of a boat in which the severely wounded, unarmed 19-year old was hiding from execution. That such an unlikely story could become part of American reality demonstrates the stupidity of both the authorities and the American public.

It is entirely possible that Dzhokhar’s attorney has learned from the Lynne Steward case that any lawyer who defends his Muslim client will be himself sentenced to federal prison for not cooperating with the government’s agenda.

But these are speculations. What facts do we have? None, of course, from Washington. Washington needs no facts. Washington is the Imperial Power. Washington’s word rules, the facts be damned. The print and TV media do not dare to contradict Washington on any important point or raise any embarrassing questions.

Concerning facts, we have the non-investigated report that a high-ranked French police official, for reasons unknown, killed himself in police headquarters while writing a report on the Charlie Hebdo affair based on his investigation.

Police officials spend their lives hoping for a major, big time case, participation in which makes their career memorable. No police official benefiting from such an opportunity would deny himself of it by committing suicide. Did the investigation not support the official story? Was the police official Helric Fredou not compliant with cover-up orders? The media has not asked these questions, and I have seen no reports about the content of Fredou’s report. What does his report, finished or unfinished, say? Why isn’t this of media interest?

Moreover, the family of Helric Fredou is unable to get the autopsy report of Helric’s “suicide” from the French government. I have seen no news reports of this fact in the US print and TV media. Here is the only report that I can find: from Kevin Barrett on Veterans Today: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/01/26/fredou/

Let’s turn now to one of the last remaining investigative reporters, Russ Baker. In an interview with Lew Rockwell on January 30, 2015, investigative reporter Russ Baker points out that no evidence has ever been presented that the Tsarnave brothers killed a MIT campus cop or highjacked a motorist. He points out that these stories helped to inflame the situation and to firmly place in the public’s mind that the brothers were dangerous and guilty of the bombing, while launching the police on a revenge killing.

There are many anomalies in the case against the Tsarnave brothers. I won’t go into them. The Internet is full of skeptical information about the official story, and you can look into it to your heart’s content. At the time, the main evidence against the brothers was a video of them walking with packs on their backs. Yet there is an abundance of videos available showing large numbers of people with backpacks, including a number of men dressed identically as if in uniform, and there are reports that a terrorist bombing drill was being held at the site complete with crisis actors. To my knowledge, none of this was ever examined or explained by the TV and print media.

One aspect that suggests pre-planning is the quick appearance of 10,000 heavily armed militarized units from a number of police and federal agencies. How (and why) was this varied force so quickly and easily assembled? The complete lockdown of Boston and its suburbs, and the eviction of people from their homes at gunpoint in order to conduct house by house searches for the one wounded brother still alive, is a response so outside of the normal range of responses as to raise questions that the media avoided asking.

Another suspicious incident is the “spontaneous” street party giving thanks to the militarized forces for saving Boston from the 19-year old kid found bleeding to death under a boat by a local resident. This party took place within a very short time just after the kid was found and seems inconsistent with lead times for organizing street parties, especially coming out of a locked-down situation when so much is disorganized.

Lew Rockwell has given me permission to repost his January 30, 2015, transcription of his June 4, 2013 podcast interview with Russ Baker, “Suppressing the Truth About the Boston Bombings.” I have edited the long interview for length, but here is the link to the full interview: http://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/01/no_author/suppressing-the-truth-about-the-boston-bombing/

ROCKWELL: Well, good morning. This is the Lew Rockwell Show. And it’s great to have as our guest this morning, Mr. Russ Baker. Russ is an award-winning investigative reporter. I mean, an actual investigative reporter. I think that’s, unfortunately, a dying breed. He’s written for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Esquire, and many, many others publications. To me, most importantly, he’s the author of a great book called Family of Secrets:The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces that Put It in the White House and What Their Influence Means for America, and an updated paperback under the title of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years. Russ has his own site, of course, RussBaker.com, also WhoWhatWhy.com, which continues his investigative reporting outside of the mainstream media.

Russ, is anybody but you questioning the information shutdown that’s taken place in Boston?

BAKER: We are looking at the actual facts of the case. And in the information that has come out, we’re seeing tremendous anomalies, inconsistencies, out-right falsehoods, reversals by these agencies, and we are troubled by them. And so I and other members of our team have been working this story now for more than a month, and we’re going to stay at it for a few more months.

We saw the clamp down on the freedom of movement. We’ve seen the increasing encroachment of military troops into our American cities. We see the public getting softened up and being made to become more and more comfortable with living in kind of a military state almost.

ROCKWELL: Now, you’ve actually been on the ground in Boston?

BAKER: I spent the last two weeks there. I’ll be going back again. I can’t stay there full time. I’m based in New York now, not in Boston. But I did spend two weeks there, and it was very, very instructive and I got a sense of a bunch of things. I met with and even drove around with journalists from major newspapers and radio shows; some good people, but I could see the limitations. There really is almost nobody there digging deeply into these problematical issues. And when I say problematical issues, what I mean is it is the job of the media to just find out what happened. It is not our job to pass along what somebody else says happened. That’s not our job. And the media there, the major newspapers, the TV and the radio, by and large, just said what the authorities told them. In a few cases, places like “The Boston Globe,” they do more than that, a little bit more than that; they’ve tried to talk to people. But I can tell you from my own experience that a lot of this stuff is being controlled.

We’ve done four pieces. We have another one coming up in a few days. That’s going to be about this carjacking victim, which is a very, very important piece of this story that has not been investigated by the media. Another one we just did recently is about the shooting of an MIT police officer named Sean Collier. That story was treated — it was not examined, Lew, in the context of what that story was. That story was actually a kind of a propagandistic moment. And those of us who study and read history remember that back in the Nazi era, there was the killing of a police officer, a Horst Wessel, and they even created a song for the Nazi movement, the “Horst Wessel” song. Killings of police officers that are magnified like this — and if you go to WhoWhatWhy.com and read that article, there’s a photo of all of these baseball players at a stadium standing with their hats off and their heads bent in a giant projection of this one police officer. And what is that for? Because, tragically, police officers are killed in the line of duty all the time. Why all of the focus on this one police officer? I have never, Lew, seen a news organization ask that question. Why are we focusing on this police officer? And more importantly, what actually happened with this police officer that would make us interested in him?

ROCKWELL: Well, of course, it’s clearly become an unexamined assumption that police are worth more than regular people. So the killing of a cop is far worse than the killing of an old lady or a young father or whatever else, which happens all the time. And in fact, there actually are not that many police killed in the line of duty. You can actually find out that figure. It’s far more dangerous to be a commercial fisherman or a logger or a farmer or many other occupations than to be a cop. So it’s not actually true that they’re always being killed.

But absolutely, it’s made into a huge political deal, as Will Grigg puts it, with a Brezhnev-style funeral any time a cop is killed, whereas, if some poor store owner or whatever is killed in the line of duty, his family cares and that’s about it.

BAKER: I agree with you, that’s true. I guess what my point was that even in agreeing with you that there are not that many police officers killed, there still are nationally probably some.

ROCKWELL: Oh, sure. Actually, about 40 to 50, which is terrible.

BAKER: But what interests me here is this particular police officer.

By the way, there were two police officers shot; one died and one almost died. And they’re both very strange cases. And so, first of all, I was struck by the fact that they wanted to make it a big deal about this police officer’s death. Biden flew in and addressed his funeral. It’s literally said that thousands of law enforcement people came from all over the country to attend the funeral of this man they didn’t know. Now, it is logical to ask, “Why would people attend a funeral of a person they didn’t know?” It’s for some reason. And what it really comes down to is it’s propagandistic. And what this is, is this is focusing the public and it’s very strongly sending out a message that the system is taking care of you and you have to honor the system. “This person died for you.”

And what’s very interesting was, if you go into that article and you read all the detail of what I investigated — and we’ll be doing more on this — first of all, when Officer Collier was killed, we were essentially told either explicitly or implicitly that he had been killed by these two brothers. Now what’s very interesting is, at the time that he was killed, all we knew was that these two brothers, whose names were not even public yet, were pictures from a video, wearing backpacks, walking along with dozens, hundreds of other people wearing backpacks and walking. And so it was the death of this police officer that set everything into motion.

And as soon as I heard about the death of this police officer, I thought, OK, when an officer is down, when that is announced, I can tell you this — and I know a lot of police officers and many of them are very, very fine people, but they act with a kind of a pack mentality — and it suddenly turbo charges. You know, there’s a whole tradition, the Blue Wall of Silence and all this, and when anything happens to a police officer in any instance, immediately, all the other police respond in a very, very aggressive way. And so what you saw was, the second he had been shot, boy, whatever the police officers were doing, they were all going to get whoever did this. And so this became the justification for that shootout on the street in Watertown; later, going after the younger brother, the Tsarnaev brother, and peppering that boat with gunshots when he wasn’t even armed. This was essentially a kind of retribution for their fellow officer. Except for one thing, and that is that about a week later, when they were doing this whole big memorial service with Biden and everything, they rather quietly announced that, oh, you know what, actually, the original story that he had maybe tried to stop these brothers and they had killed him was not right. It turns out, they don’t know who shot this man. He didn’t confront anybody. And he was assassinated. And do you know where he was assassinated, Lew? He was sitting in his patrol car. Just sitting there. Somebody came up behind him for no apparent reason and killed him in cold blood. We have no evidence right now that those brothers even did it. But that was the precipitating event that then unleashed all of this fire power.

The next thing that happened is this carjacking. And an unknown person, whose name is still not public, has said that he was carjacked by these brothers and that they told him, “We planted the bomb and we killed that cop.” Now, those are two things that there is no hard evidence that they did either of them, but now you’ve got killed the cop and then you have a carjacking with an unnamed person saying these guys told me they did it. And then one of them is killed; the other one, I believe, they attempted to murder him. So what you would have had, Lew, is you would have had a situation where both of these suspects would be dead, an unknown witness would connect them to both of the things, the whole thing would be over; and that military, that huge military police response would have been accepted, and we would be used to the idea that there will be more of these things.

ROCKWELL: Well, that’s right. And of course, then we had the younger brother writing out his confession on the side of the boat in the dark.

BAKER: Well, in the dark, but this guy was basically gravely injured. According to the story, which is a little bit strange, of the man who owned that boat, when he went out to check, he saw blood there. I mean, this guy was already in a pool of blood before they called the cops. Because we know he’s gravely injured in the hospital. So the likelihood that he was in any shape, you know, to sort of heroically prop himself up and go to these incredible lengths to scrawl out a confession virtually with his dying breath is a little bit hard to believe.

At the end, I think the notion was that they thought this guy was going to die. With those shots that they fired, given the fact that he hadn’t fired a single shot at them, you have to assume that at least one person in that group, whether it was local police or it was the FBI people on the scene, was shooting to kill. That was the intent, it seems. And so this confession, if it’s even real — and we haven’t seen that in that confession. And other thing we’ve been reporting is that that confession was reported to us by John Miller, a senior correspondent at CBS News. It’s very, very important to remember that John Miller’s last major job was that he was a top official of the FBI. He was a lead spokesman for the FBI. He loves the FBI. He’s very, very close with them. And this is the man who is now back in journalism telling us this story. He also has been a key figure throughout. He got one of those so-called exclusive interviews with the unknown carjacking victim. So in other words, this entire narrative is being constructed essentially by the FBI or its allies.

ROCKWELL: I always think of the FBI as the American secret police. And if you called them that, then when you see this sort of thing going on, it seems to me you ought to take things with maybe not a grain of salt but a cup of salt.

BAKER: You know, I’ve reported all over the world. I was one of the first reporters into East Germany before the wall came down; Romania when Ceausescu was overthrown. I’ve been in so many societies where there was totalitarianism or authoritarianism. And these kinds of organizations — you do need police, you do need investigative agencies but, unfortunately, the abuses are just rampant. And anybody who is listening to this who thinks that that is unfair, I invite you to read any of dozens, maybe scores of books about J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the FBI for half a century, and to see that he ran it like a personal fiefdom, basically, like a mobster, and everybody in the agency was terrified of him. There were constant cover-ups in there. You understood you could lose your job in a second if you asked any questions at all. Some of these books are by scholars. Others are by people who worked in the FBI itself.

And so I have to agree with you. I mean, in some respect, of course, one wants an agency like the FBI to be there, but that doesn’t mean we have to apologize for the grave structural, philosophical and other problems with it. The FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, local police, all of these institutions are absolutely riddled with problems. And, you know, my attitude as a journalist is many institutions are riddled with problems, many aspects of the federal government, but also private industry, big corporations, riddled with problems, abuses and so forth. And it is not our job as journalists, and I don’t think it’s our jobs as citizens, to just accept what anybody tells us and to just blindly trust when they say, whether it’s the FBI or it’s your bank.

ROCKWELL: tell us what happened in the alleged fire or bomb or whatever the heck it was at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

BAKER: You know, that’s a strange one, because we were told that that happened almost at the same time of the marathon bombing, within a short time of that, on the same day. We still haven’t gotten a straight answer on what happened. I’ve been doing a little bit in the way of inquiries and, I have to say, I have questions about that. I don’t think that the authorities are being forthcoming. And even more disturbing than the bombing itself, the potential damage there or attempted damage to priceless research materials that people like I need to continue to investigate what happened to John F. Kennedy, what happened to American 50 years ago, and how it’s impacting us today, which I believe it is. The past certainly is prologue. But not only am I concerned about that but, you know, there was no coverage — the media dropped it. Go and Google this thing, you’ll see zero, almost. I mean, nothing from the local Boston media or the national media. I mean, WhoWhatWhy is a little, tiny non-profit and we’re looking into it. And these giant news organizations have nobody asking these questions.

I find the Boston bombing story absolutely rife with weird messaging. And it could all be coincidental; it may be coincidental; probably a lot of it is. I’ll give you an example. The shooting of Officer Collier was almost a dead ringer for the shooting of Officer Tippet in the Lee Harvey Oswald/John F. Kennedy saga. Lee Harvey Oswald wouldn’t even have been a real suspect in the Kennedy assassination had not a police officer been shot shortly after Kennedy was killed, because Oswald was just one of many people who worked in that building. Nobody said that they saw him with a rifle. He only became really a suspect when this police officer was shot and then the description of the man who shot him matched Oswald. So here you see a very, very similar thing where it’s a police officer goes down right after this other event and plays a role essentially in tying them, making these non-suspects suspects, and making them very, very guilty. So that was one thing.

The second thing is this thing at the library on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. There are many, many disturbing parallels. You’ve got, in both of those stories, the suspects had recently been in Russia. Remember that? They both had been in Russia.


Strange families. Both the Tsarnaevs and Lee Harvey Oswald had been being monitored by the FBI. Both of them had relatives, or other people they were associated, with ties to the CIA. I mean, is this all coincidental? Does somebody have a particularly sophisticated and sick sense of humor? I mean, what are we looking at here? Of course, you’re not even allowed to ask these questions.

Another story going up probably today is how The New York Times, instead of investigating any of these things, they quickly have somebody roll out a story talking about conspiracy theorists and how anybody who has questions about things basically is sort of mentally ill, which is a very, very important contradiction. If you ask any questions and you don’t accept the conventional narrative that everything is just fine, there is something really, really wrong with you.

But, you know, my continuing efforts to look into these giant traumas, what happened to Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and Walter Reuther, you know, union leaders who died in a strange plane crashes and so on, there’s so much of this, and it is disproportionately reformers who get taken out. Very, very few corporate-cozy conservative politicians, who also, by the way, fly in private planes all the time, never seem to have an accident. But this stuff we need to look at.

Now, you were talking about the KGB and putting people into mental hospitals but, you know, that happens in the United States all the time. And just one example is there was an Army sergeant by the name of Dinkin, who was intercepting cables and big top-secret stuff at a military base in 1963, and he divined from his own monitoring of cable traffic that there was an assassination plot against JFK. And he divined that that assassination plot was going to involve right wingers and members of the military and some foreign assassins, and that it was going to take place in Dallas in November of 1963. And when he tried to say what he knew, they put him into a mental hospital and they began injections and they began essentially doing mind-control things with him. And eventually, he was forced to say, oh, no, the reason I said those things — and he gave some other explanation that was totally benign. And that was the only way that this man could get out of basically the gulag. So if you think that these things only go on in the Soviet Union, you’re wrong.

ROCKWELL: Russ, before we go, I want you, to the extent you can, tell us about the book you’re working on now.

BAKER: Well, you know, I generally don’t talk too much about what I’m working on. But I will say this. In terms of subjects and major interests to me, I continue to be very interested in the John F. Kennedy assassination. Would have loved to have something out on the 50th anniversary of his assassination, but that story is so layered and so complicated, some people believe we could never get to the bottom of it. I think we can. I think we can put enough pieces of the things together to figure out what happened. And I think that solving that is absolutely essential for us to understand what kind of society we really live in, to kind of wake up. And you know, people say, though, “This is so depressing, I don’t want to hear about it,” but that is not a way to empower yourself. You empower yourself by educating yourself, by having your eyes open, by understanding how things work. And that is really the beginning to go about and correct these things, because this country has always — and Franklin Roosevelt said this and Woodrow Wilson said it. They always warned us that they didn’t really run the country. Franklin Roosevelt very famously said in a letter to somebody, he said, as you and I both know, the real power in this country resides in the financial circles on Wall Street. And that’s true. And I’m continuing to look at Obama and how people like that get to the top and people like Hillary Clinton, and who are behind them, and why it is that, whether we have a Democrat or a Republican, even though there are real substantive differences, primarily on social issues, when it comes to the big global issues and the big financial issues, essentially, we see very, very similar policies and appointments made. What is really going on in this country? Why is it that we actually seem to live under a kind of a one-party state? And that is what my continuing efforts, my books, and, most importantly, my work at WhoWhatWhy.com, which really is the main focus of my efforts in my life today. It’s to build a meaningful journalistic institution that can train a whole new generation of journalists, funded entirely by the public, with no corporate influence or government influence, asking questions with neither fear, nor favor, and doing what we’re supposed to be doing, really, as journalists.

Dear Readers: If we expect to regain the liberty bestowed upon us by the Bill of Rights, we must turn a deaf ear to Washington’s lies. Washington’s agenda is divorced from the agendas of the American people. Washington’s agenda is war and more debt for taxpayers to service even though a majority cannot pay their bills except with mounting credit card debt, and a police state in place to control the population as jobs offshoring eliminates the middle class buffer that suppresses class war between the poor and the rich.

Any American who has read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States knows that government in America has not served the interests of the people but the agendas of the rich and powerful.

War and “security” make large claims on the US budget and on civil liberties. Having established the precedent of locking down a major city in order to search for one suspect, this power was used recently to lock down New York because of a snow storm. People in northeastern US certainly know how to deal with snow, but suddenly they are told they cannot leave their homes or be on the streets because of snow.

What has changed that suddenly a snow storm produces a political response comparable to a declaration of martial law?

What will the next excuse be?

Are Americans being trained to accept arbitrary curtailments on their freedom of movement?

Pay attention. The likelihood is that you are being conditioned for narrowing the dimensions of your freedom.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Justice In Boston?

Unless the State gives a defendant all the financial, and expert, resources they themselves possess, non-millionaire defendants don't stand a chance for justice.

Due to a government-run railroad trial aided by extensive propaganda as well as a complicit FBI investigation, people have already determined that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty for bombing the Boston Marathon two years ago. Remember that? When they sealed off the city and brought in troops and searched from house to house without warrants just to prove they could? Remember that? Well, from nothing more than the repeating of official sources only by the mainstream media, the American public is convinced of his guilt.

The truth is, there are mounds of evidence of his innocence that the American people have not been told. The MSM has been conspicuously absent except, of course, in conveying the "official" story.

We've become a country where the media can act as judge and jury and the public goes along because most people cannot conceive how or why the media would knowingly lie. Now not only can the MSM indoctrinate the populace with only the official government story, anyone who challenges the storyline by looking at evidence outside the story becomes a "conspiracy theorist"! Sure wouldn't want to be one of those. It really goes way beyond the Boston Bombing case.

No wonder there's a problem getting a fair jury in Tsarnaev's trial and no wonder there's so little understanding or respect for the law. You expect a fair trial just because you're in America? Oh, come on. Grow up.

Listening to the prospective jurors comments live on the Tsarnaev case is frightening. Many said they've already been convinced by the media that he's guilty. And they have no concept that what they're saying is evidence of their indoctrination.

Perhaps we should just allow the media to decide what is evidence or what is true-- reporting only from government sources and ignoring the gagged defendant and gagged defense lawyers. Why should trials even be necessary?

Those of you who still want to learn about counter evidence in the Boston case can find tons of it on alternative web sites that refute the lies in the MSM and present ignored or suppressed evidence. For instance, the Feds picture of the pack they now claim held a bomb at the Marathon is black. The pack Dzhokhar was carrying is grey and white and in no way resembles the pack the Feds claim held the bomb at the second site.

Dzhokhar's pack is caved in--almost empty--it holds no 6 quart Fagor pressure cooker dangerously loaded with fireworks and shrapnel.

Per the American Pyrotechnics Association: there were no fireworks effects in the blasts, extracting fireworks powder is too dangerous and it could not have caused the extent of the damage (esp. in the amount claimed) at the marathon.

The Feds claimed in April 2013 that they had "forensic evidence" from the kitchen and bath that the Tsarnaev brothers made fireworks extracted bombs from pressure cookers in Tamerlan's apartment. In a court filing in May 2014 the Feds admitted they had no evidence of any bomb making or bombs in any location associated with the brothers including vehicles. What? The press reported they did.

Make it fit the narrative...
In April 2013 the TEDAK lab at Quantico determined that the pressure cooker evidence of bombs was far too sophisticated to have been made from online sources and that the sophisticated components were not made from online instructions. The press didn't tell us that.

Yet from April 2013 the Feds claimed and media repeated that the brothers made fireworks extracted pressure cooker bombs in Tamerlan's apartment from online sources. People still repeat this and believe it even though it's a complete falsehood. Furthermore, the Feds knew back in April 2013 that it was a lie--it was used as propaganda along with many other lies. And they knew the hospital "confession", in which the officials stated that Dzhokhar "admitted" he and his brother made bombs in Tamerlan's apartment from online sources was a false confession made under extreme duress--they knew that in April. But the public believed that he'd confessed to being the bomber.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of evidence vs the official story and there's much more evidence not reported. Think people. Read outside the MSM. Go to The Boston Bombings: What Happened? WhoWhatWhy, Scott Creighton, David Liffton, Firedoglake, SOSadm and dozens of other sites for information that's being kept from you. It might open your mind to questioning what you've been fed about this case. And other cases as well as some well-publicized national incidents over the last few years.

Whoever said, "Whoever controls the media controls people's minds" was frighteningly correct. Just take an honest look at what is happening all around us.

Ramsey Theory

Frank P. Ramsey
The Ramsey theory, named after the British mathematician and philosopher Frank P. Ramsey, is a branch of mathematics that studies the conditions under which order must appear. Problems in Ramsey theory typically ask a question such as "how many elements of some structure must there be to guarantee that a particular property will hold?"

A typical result in Ramsey theory starts with a mathematical structure that is then cut into pieces. How big must the original structure be in order to ensure that at least one of the pieces has a given interesting property? This idea is called Partition Regularity.

For example, consider a complete graph of order n; that is, there are n vertices and each vertex is connected to every other vertex by an edge. A complete graph of order 3 is called a triangle. Now color every edge red or blue. How large must n be in order to ensure that there is either a blue triangle or a red triangle? It turns out that the answer is 6.

Another way to express this result is as follows: at any party with at least six people, there are three people who are all either mutual acquaintances (each one knows the other two) or mutual strangers (each one does not know either of the other two).

This also is a special case of Ramsey's theorem, which says that for any given integer c, any given integers n1,...,nc, there is a number, R(n1,...,nc), such that if the edges of a complete graph of order R(n1,...,nc) are colored with c different colors, then for some i between 1 and c, it must contain a complete subgraph of order ni whose edges are all color i. The special case above has c = 2 and n1 = n2 = 3.

Two key theorems of Ramsey theory are:

Van der Waerden's theorem: For any given c and n, there is a number V, such that if V consecutive numbers are colored with c different colors, then it must contain an arithmetic progression of length n whose elements are all the same color.

Hales-Jewett theorem: For any given n and c, there is a number H such that if the cells of a H-dimensional n×n×n×...×n cube are colored with c colors, there must be one row, column, etc. of length n all of whose cells are the same color. That is, if you play on a board with sufficiently many dimensions, then multi-player n-in-a-row tic-tac-toe cannot end in a draw, no matter how large n is, and no matter how many people are playing. Hales-Jewett theorem implies Van der Waerden's theorem.

A theorem similar to van der Waerden's theorem is Schur's theorem: for any given c there is a number N such that if the numbers 1, 2, ..., N are colored with c different colors, then there must be a pair of integers x, y such that x, y, and x+y are all the same color. Many generalizations of this theorem exist, including Rado's theorem, Rado-Folkman-Sanders theorem, Hindman's theorem, and the Milliken-Taylor theorem. A classic reference for these and many other results in Ramsey theory is Graham, Rothschild and Spencer.

Results in Ramsey theory typically have two primary characteristics. Firstly, they are non-constructive in that they may show that some structure exists, but they give no process for finding this structure (other than brute force search). For instance, the pigeonhole principle is of this form. Secondly, while Ramsey theory results do say that sufficiently large objects must necessarily contain a given structure, often the proof of these results requires these objects to be enormously large – bounds that grow exponentially, or even as fast as the Ackermann function are not uncommon. In many cases these bounds are artifacts of the proof, and it is not known whether they can be substantially improved. In other cases it is known that any bound must be extraordinarily large, sometimes even greater than any primitive recursive function; see the Paris-Harrington theorem for an example. Graham's number, one of the largest numbers ever used in serious mathematical proof, is an upper bound for a problem related to Ramsey theory.

Theorems in Ramsey theory are generally one of the two types. Many theorems, which are modeled after Ramsey's theorem itself, assert that in every partition of a large structured object, one of the classes necessarily contains a large structured subobject, but give no information about which class this is. Occasionally, the reason behind such Ramsey-type results is that the largest partition class always contains the desired substructure. The results of this kind are called either density results or Turán-type result, after Turán's theorem. Notable examples include Szemerédi's theorem, which is such a strengthening of van der Waerden's theorem, and the density version of Hales-Jewett theorem.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, whereas they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence, although the events need not be exactly simultaneous in time. The concept of synchronicity was first described by Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s.

The concept does not question, or compete with, the notion of causality. Instead, it maintains that just as events may be connected by a causal line, they may also be connected by meaning. A grouping of events by meaning need not have an explanation in terms of cause and effect.

In addition to Jung, Arthur Koestler wrote extensively on synchronicity in The Roots of Coincidence.

The idea of synchronicity is that the conceptual relationship of minds, defined as the relationship between ideas, is intricately structured in its own logical way and gives rise to relationships that are not causal in nature. These relationships can manifest themselves as occurrences that are meaningfully related.

Carl Gustav Jung
Synchronistic events reveal an underlying pattern, a conceptual framework that encompasses, but is larger than, any of the systems that display the synchronicity. The suggestion of a larger framework is essential to satisfy the definition of synchronicity as originally developed by Carl Gustav Jung.

Jung coined the word to describe what he called "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events." Jung variously described synchronicity as an "acausal connecting principle", "meaningful coincidence" and "acausal parallelism". Jung introduced the concept as early as the 1920s, but gave a full statement of it only in 1951 in an Eranos lecture and in 1952, published a paper, Synchronizität als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhänge (Synchronicity — An Acausal Connecting Principle), in a volume with a related study by the physicist (and Nobel laureate) Wolfgang Pauli.

It was a principle that Jung felt gave conclusive evidence for his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious, in that it was descriptive of a governing dynamic that underlies the whole of human experience and history — social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Concurrent events that first appear to be coincidental but later turn out to be causally related are termed incoincident.

Jung believed that many experiences that are coincidences due to chance in terms of causality suggested the manifestation of parallel events or circumstances in terms of meaning, reflecting this governing dynamic.

Even at Jung's presentation of his work on synchronicity in 1951 at an Eranos lecture, his ideas on synchronicity were evolving. Following discussions with both Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli, Jung believed that there were parallels between synchronicity and aspects of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. Jung was transfixed by the idea that life was not a series of random events but rather an expression of a deeper order, which he and Pauli referred to as Unus mundus. This deeper order led to the insights that a person was both embedded in an orderly framework and was the focus of that orderly framework and that the realization of this was more than just an intellectual exercise, but also having elements of a spiritual awakening. From the religious perspective, synchronicity shares similar characteristics of an "intervention of grace". Jung also believed that in a person's life, synchronicity served a role similar to that of dreams, with the purpose of shifting a person's egocentric conscious thinking to greater wholeness.

A close associate of Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz, stated towards the end of her life that the concept of synchronicity must now be worked on by a new generation of researchers. For example, in the years since the publication of Jung’s work on synchronicity, some writers largely sympathetic to Jung's approach have taken issue with certain aspects of his theory, including the question of how frequently synchronicity occurs. For example, in "The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives", Ray Grasse suggests that instead of being a "rare" phenomenon, as Jung suggested, synchronicity is more likely all-pervasive, and that the occasional dramatic coincidence is only the tip of a larger iceberg of meaning that underlies our lives. Grasse places the discussion of synchronicity in the context of what he calls the "symbolist" world view, a traditional way of perceiving the universe that regards all phenomena as interwoven by linked analogies or "correspondences." Though omnipresent, these correspondences tend to become obvious to us only in the case of the most startling coincidences. The study of astrology, he argues, offers a practical method of not only becoming more conscious of these subtle connections but also of testing and even predicting their occurrence throughout our lives.

One of Jung's favorite quotes on synchronicity was from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, in which the White Queen says to Alice: "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards".

'The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday--but never jam to-day.'
'It MUST come sometimes to "jam to-day,"' Alice objected.
'No, it can't,' said the Queen. 'It's jam every OTHER day: to-day isn't any OTHER day, you know.'
'I don't understand you,' said Alice. 'It's dreadfully confusing!'
'That's the effect of living backwards,' the Queen said kindly: 'it always makes one a little giddy at first--'
'Living backwards!' Alice repeated in great astonishment. 'I never heard of such a thing!'
'--but there's one great advantage in it, that one's memory works both ways.'
'I'm sure MINE only works one way,' Alice remarked. 'I can't remember things before they happen.'
'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.

The French writer Émile Deschamps claims in his memoirs that, in 1805, he was treated to some plum pudding by a stranger named Monsieur de Fontgibu. Ten years later, the writer encountered plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant and wanted to order some, but the waiter told him that the last dish had already been served to another customer, who turned out to be de Fontgibu. Many years later, in 1832, Deschamps was at a dinner and once again ordered plum pudding. He recalled the earlier incident and told his friends that only de Fontgibu was missing to make the setting complete — and in the same instant, the now senile de Fontgibu entered the room.

In his book Synchronicity (1952), Jung tells the following story as an example of a synchronistic event:

A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since.

Jung wrote, after describing some examples, "When coincidences pile up in this way, one cannot help being impressed by them—for the greater the number of terms in such a series, or the more unusual its character, the more improbable it becomes."

Wolfgang Pauli
In the book Thirty Years That Shook Physics - The Story of Quantum Theory (1966), George Gamow writes about Wolfgang Pauli, who was apparently considered a person particularly associated to Synchronicity Events. Gamow whimsically refers to 'The "Pauli effect", a mysterious phenomenon which is not, and probably never will, be understood on a purely materialistic basis. The following anecdote is told:

It is well known that theoretical physicists cannot handle experimental equipment; it breaks whenever they touch it. Pauli was such a good theoretical physicist that something usually broke in the lab whenever he merely stepped across the threshold. A mysterious event that did not seem at first to be connected with Pauli's presence once occurred in Professor J. Franck's laboratory in Göttingen. Early one afternoon, without apparent cause, a complicated apparatus for the study of atomic phenomena collapsed. Franck wrote humorously about this to Pauli at his Zürich address and, after some delay, received an answer in an envelope with a Danish stamp. Pauli wrote that he had gone to visit Bohr and at the time of the mishap in Franck's laboratory his train was stopped for a few minutes at the Göttingen railroad station. You may believe this anecdote or not, but there are many other observations concerning the reality of the Pauli Effect!

Among some psychologists, Jung's works, such as The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche, were received as problematic. Fritz Levi, in his 1952 review in Neue Schweizer Rundschau (New Swiss Observations), critiqued Jung's theory of synchronicity as vague in determinability of synchronistic events, saying that Jung never specifically explained his rejection of "magic causality" to which such an acausal principle as synchronicity would be related. He also questioned the theory's usefulness.

In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, and avoids information and interpretations that contradict prior beliefs. It is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inductive inference, or is a form of selection bias toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study, or disconfirmation of an alternative hypothesis. Confirmation bias is of interest in the teaching of critical thinking, as the skill is misused if rigorous critical scrutiny is applied only to evidence that challenges a preconceived idea, but not to evidence that supports it.

Likewise, in psychology and sociology, the term apophenia is used for the apparent detection of a pattern or meaning, in what is actually random or meaningless data. Skeptics, such as Robert Todd Carroll of the Skeptic's Dictionary, argue that the perception of synchronicity is better explained as apophenia. Primates use pattern detection in their form of intelligence, and this can lead to erroneous identification of non-existent patterns. A famous example of this is the fact that human face recognition is so robust, and based on such a basic archetype (essentially two dots and a line contained in a circle), that human beings are very prone to identify faces in random data all through their environment, like the "man in the moon", or faces in wood grain, an example of the visual form of apophenia known as pareidolia.

It has been asserted that Jung's analytical psychological theory of synchronicity is equal to intellectual intuition.

Although some scientists see potential evidence of synchronicity in areas of research such as quantum theory, chaos theory, and fractal geometry, the concept is not testable by any current scientific method.

The concept of synchronicity is somewhat related to the concept of serendipity.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Click for desktop size picture.

The New American Order

I Want You -- to bow.
1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of "We the People"

By Tom Engelhardt

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.

Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”

Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

1. 1% Elections

The Koch brothers network has already promised to drop almost $1 billion into the coming campaign season, doubling their efforts in the last presidential election year.

Yep, there it goes.
Check out the news about the 2016 presidential election and you’ll quickly feel a sense of been-there, done-that. As a start, the two names most associated with it, Bush and Clinton, couldn’t be more familiar, highlighting as they do the curiously dynastic quality of recent presidential contests. (If a Bush or Clinton should win in 2016 and again in 2020, a member of one of those families will have controlled the presidency for 28 of the last 36 years.)

Take, for instance, “Why 2016 Is Likely to Become a Close Race,” a recent piece Nate Cohn wrote for my hometown paper. A noted election statistician, Cohn points out that, despite Hillary Clinton’s historically staggering lead in Democratic primary polls (and lack of serious challengers), she could lose the general election. He bases this on what we know about her polling popularity from the Monica Lewinsky moment of the 1990s to the present. Cohn assures readers that Hillary will not “be a Democratic Eisenhower, a popular, senior statesperson who cruises to an easy victory.” It’s the sort of comparison that offers a certain implicit reassurance about the near future. (No, Virginia, we haven’t left the world of politics in which former general and president Dwight D. Eisenhower can still be a touchstone.)

Cohn may be right when it comes to Hillary’s electability, but this is not Dwight D. Eisenhower’s or even Al Gore’s America. If you want a measure of that, consider this year’s primaries. I mean, of course, the 2015 ones. Once upon a time, the campaign season started with candidates flocking to Iowa and New Hampshire early in the election year to establish their bona fides among party voters. These days, however, those are already late primaries.

The early primaries, the ones that count, take place among a small group of millionaires and billionaires, a new caste flush with cash who will personally, or through complex networks of funders, pour multi-millions of dollars into the campaigns of candidates of their choice. So the early primaries — this year mainly a Republican affair — are taking place in resort spots like Las Vegas, Rancho Mirage, California, and Sea Island, Georgia, as has been widely reported. These “contests” involve groveling politicians appearing at the beck and call of the rich and powerful, and so reflect our new 1% electoral system. (The main pro-Hillary super PAC, for instance, is aiming for a kitty of $500 million heading into 2016, while the Koch brothers network has already promised to drop almost $1 billion into the coming campaign season, doubling their efforts in the last presidential election year.)

Ever since the Supreme Court opened up the ultimate floodgates with its 2010 Citizens United decision, each subsequent election has seen record-breaking amounts of money donated and spent. The 2012 presidential campaign was the first $2 billion election; campaign 2016 is expected to hit the $5 billion mark without breaking a sweat. By comparison, according to Burton Abrams and Russell Settle in their study, “The Effect of Broadcasting on Political Campaign Spending,” Republicans and Democrats spent just under $13 million combined in 1956 when Eisenhower won his second term.

In the meantime, it’s still true that the 2016 primaries will involve actual voters, as will the election that follows. The previous election season, the midterms of 2014, cost almost $4 billion, a record despite the number of small donors continuing to drop. It also represented the lowest midterm voter turnout since World War II. (See: demobilization of the public, below — and add in the demobilization of the Democrats as a real party, the breaking of organized labor, the fragmenting of the Republican Party, and the return of voter suppression laws visibly meant to limit the franchise.) It hardly matters just what the flood of new money does in such elections, when you can feel the weight of inequality bearing down on the whole process in a way that is pushing us somewhere new.

2. The Privatization of the State (or the U.S. as a Prospective Third-World Nation)

In the recent coverage of the Hillary Clinton email flap, you can find endless references to the Clintons of yore in wink-wink, you-know-how-they-are-style reporting; and yes, she did delete a lot of emails; and yes, it’s an election year coming and, as everyone points out, the Republicans are going to do their best to keep the email issue alive until hell freezes over, etc., etc. Again, the coverage, while eyeball gluing, is in a you’ve-seen-it-all-before, you’ll-see-it-all-again-mode.

However, you haven’t seen it all before. The most striking aspect of this little brouhaha lies in what’s most obvious but least highlighted. An American secretary of state chose to set up her own private, safeguarded email system for doing government work; that is, she chose to privatize her communications. If this were Cairo, it might not warrant a second thought. But it didn’t happen in some third-world state. It was the act of a key official of the planet’s reigning (or thrashing) superpower, which — even if it wasn’t the first time such a thing had ever occurred — should be taken as a tiny symptom of something that couldn’t be larger or, in the long stretch of history, newer: the ongoing privatization of the American state, or at least the national security part of it.

Though the marriage of the state and the corporation has a pre-history, the full-scale arrival of the warrior corporation only occurred after 9/11. Someday, that will undoubtedly be seen as a seminal moment in the formation of whatever may be coming in this country. Only 13 years later, there is no part of the war state that has not experienced major forms of privatization. The U.S. military could no longer go to war without its crony corporations doing KP and guard duty, delivering the mail, building the bases, and being involved in just about all of its activities, including training the militaries of foreign allies and even fighting. Such warrior corporations are now involved in every aspect of the national security state, including torture, drone strikes, and — to the tune of hundreds of thousands of contract employees like Edward Snowden — intelligence gathering and spying. You name it and, in these years, it’s been at least partly privatized.

All you have to do is read reporter James Risen’s recent book, Pay Any Price, on how the global war on terror was fought in Washington, and you know that privatization has brought something else with it: corruption, scams, and the gaming of the system for profits of a sort that might normally be associated with a typical third-world kleptocracy. And all of this, a new world being born, was reflected in a tiny way in Hillary Clinton’s very personal decision about her emails.

Though it’s a subject I know so much less about, this kind of privatization (and the corruption that goes with it) is undoubtedly underway in the non-war-making, non-security-projecting part of the American state as well.

3. The De-legitimization of Congress and the Presidency

On a third front, American “confidence” in the three classic check-and-balance branches of government, as measured by polling outfits, continues to fall. In 2014, Americans expressing a “great deal of confidence” in the Supreme Court hit a new low of 23%; in the presidency, it was 11%, and in Congress a bottom-scraping 5%. (The military, on the other hand, registers at 50%.) The figures for “hardly any confidence at all” are respectively 20%, 44%, and more than 50%. All are in or near record-breaking territory for the last four decades.

It seems fair to say that in recent years Congress has been engaged in a process of delegitimizing itself. Where that body once had the genuine power to declare war, for example, it is now “debating” in a desultory fashion an “authorization” for a war against the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, and possibly elsewhere that has already been underway for eight months and whose course, it seems, will be essentially unaltered, whether Congress authorizes it or not.

What would President Harry Truman, who once famously ran a presidential campaign against a “do-nothing” Congress, have to say about a body that truly can do just about nothing? Or rather, to give the Republican war hawks in that new Congress their due, not quite nothing. They are proving capable of acting effectively to delegitimize the presidency as well. House Majority Leader John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to undercut the president’s Iranian nuclear negotiations and the letter signed by 47 Republican senators and directed to the Iranian ayatollahs are striking examples of this. They are visibly meant to tear down an “imperial presidency” that Republicans gloried in not so long ago.

The New American Union
The radical nature of that letter, not as an act of state but of its de-legitimization, was noted even in Iran, where fundamentalist Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed it “a sign of a decline in political ethics and the destruction of the American establishment from within.” Here, however, the letter is either being covered as a singularly extreme one-off act (“treason!”) or, as Jon Stewart did on “The Daily Show,” as part of a repetitive tit-for-tat between Democrats and Republicans over who controls foreign policy. It is, in fact, neither. It represents part of a growing pattern in which Congress becomes an ever less effective body, except in its willingness to take on and potentially take out the presidency.

In the twenty-first century, all that “small government” Republicans and “big government” Democrats can agree on is offering essentially unconditional support to the military and the national security state. The Republican Party — its various factions increasingly at each other’s throats almost as often as at those of the Democrats — seems reasonably united solely on issues of war-making and security. As for the Democrats, an unpopular administration, facing constant attack by those who loath President Obama, has kept its footing in part by allying with and fusing with the national security state. A president who came into office rejecting torture and promoting sunshine and transparency in government has, in the course of six-plus years, come to identify himself almost totally with the U.S. military, the CIA, the NSA, and the like. While it has launched an unprecedented campaign against whistleblowers and leakers (as well as sunshine and transparency), the Obama White House has proved a powerful enabler of, but also remarkably dependent upon, that state-within-a-state, a strange fate for “the imperial presidency.”

4. The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government

One “branch” of government is, however, visibly on the rise and rapidly gaining independence from just about any kind of oversight. Its ability to enact its wishes with almost no opposition in Washington is a striking feature of our moment. But while the symptoms of this process are regularly reported, the overall phenomenon — the creation of a de facto fourth branch of government — gets remarkably little attention. In the war on terror era, the national security state has come into its own. Its growth has been phenomenal. Though it’s seldom pointed out, it should be considered remarkable that in this period we gained a second full-scale “defense department,” the Department of Homeland Security, and that it and the Pentagon have become even more entrenched, each surrounded by its own growing “complex” of private corporations, lobbyists, and allied politicians. The militarization of the country has, in these years, proceeded apace. Meanwhile, the duplication to be found in the U.S. Intelligence Community with its 17 major agencies and outfits is staggering. Its growing ability to surveil and spy on a global scale, including on its own citizens, puts the totalitarian states of the twentieth century to shame. That the various parts of the national security state can act in just about any fashion without fear of accountability in a court of law is by now too obvious to belabor. As wealth has traveled upwards in American society in ways not seen since the first Gilded Age, so taxpayer dollars have migrated into the national security state in an almost plutocratic fashion.

On patrol -- in Omaha.
New reports regularly surface about the further activities of parts of that state. In recent weeks, for instance, we learned from Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley of the Intercept that the CIA has spent years trying to break the encryption on Apple iPhones and iPads; it has, that is, been aggressively seeking to attack an all-American corporation (even if significant parts of its production process are actually in China). Meanwhile, Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA, an agency barred from domestic spying operations of any sort, has been helping the U.S. Marshals Service (part of the Justice Department) create an airborne digital dragnet on American cell phones. Planes flying out of five U.S. cities carry a form of technology that “mimics a cellphone tower.” This technology, developed and tested in distant American war zones and now brought to “the homeland,” is just part of the ongoing militarization of the country from its borders to its police forces. And there’s hardly been a week since Edward Snowden first released crucial NSA documents in June 2013 when such “advances” haven’t been in the news.

News also regularly bubbles up about the further expansion, reorganization, and upgrading of parts of the intelligence world, the sorts of reports that have become the barely noticed background hum of our lives. Recently, for instance, Director John Brennan announced a major reorganization of the CIA meant to break down the classic separation between spies and analysts at the Agency, while creating a new Directorate of Digital Innovation responsible for, among other things, cyberwarfare and cyberespionage. At about the same time, according to the New York Times, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, an obscure State Department agency, was given a new and expansive role in coordinating “all the existing attempts at countermessaging [against online propaganda by terror outfits like the Islamic State] by much larger federal departments, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies.”

This sort of thing is par for the course in an era in which the national security state has only grown stronger, endlessly elaborating, duplicating, and overlapping the various parts of its increasingly labyrinthine structure. And keep in mind that, in a structure that has fought hard to keep what it’s doing cloaked in secrecy, there is so much more that we don’t know. Still, we should know enough to realize that this ongoing process reflects something new in our American world (even if no one cares to notice).

5. The Demobilization of the American People

In The Age of Acquiescence, a new book about America’s two Gilded Ages, Steve Fraser asks why it was that, in the nineteenth century, another period of plutocratic excesses, concentration of wealth and inequality, buying of politicians, and attempts to demobilize the public, Americans took to the streets with such determination and in remarkable numbers over long periods of time to protest their treatment, and stayed there even when the brute power of the state was called out against them. In our own moment, Fraser wonders, why has the silence of the public in the face of similar developments been so striking?

After all, a grim new American system is arising before our eyes. Everything we once learned in the civics textbooks of our childhoods about how our government works now seems askew, while the growth of poverty, the flatlining of wages, the rise of the .01%, the collapse of labor, and the militarization of society are all evident.

The process of demobilizing the public certainly began with the military. It was initially a response to the disruptive and rebellious draftees of the Vietnam-era. In 1973, at the stroke of a presidential pen, the citizen’s army was declared no more, the raising of new recruits was turned over to advertising agencies (a preview of the privatization of the state to come), and the public was sent home, never again to meddle in military affairs. Since 2001, that form of demobilization has been etched in stone and transformed into a way of life in the name of the “safety” and “security” of the public.

Since then, “we the people” have made ourselves felt in only three disparate ways: from the left in the Occupy movement, which, with its slogans about the 1% and the 99%, put the issue of growing economic inequality on the map of American consciousness; from the right, in the Tea Party movement, a complex expression of discontent backed and at least partially funded by right-wing operatives and billionaires, and aimed at the de-legitimization of the “nanny state”; and the recent round of post-Ferguson protests spurred at least in part by the militarization of the police in black and brown communities around the country.

The Birth of a New System

Otherwise, a moment of increasing extremity has also been a moment of — to use Fraser’s word — “acquiescence.” Someday, we’ll assumedly understand far better how this all came to be. In the meantime, let me be as clear as I can be about something that seems murky indeed: this period doesn’t represent a version, no matter how perverse or extreme, of politics as usual; nor is the 2016 campaign an election as usual; nor are we experiencing Washington as usual. Put together our 1% elections, the privatization of our government, the de-legitimization of Congress and the presidency, as well as the empowerment of the national security state and the U.S. military, and add in the demobilization of the American public (in the name of protecting us from terrorism), and you have something like a new ballgame.

While significant planning has been involved in all of this, there may be no ruling pattern or design. Much of it may be happening in a purely seat-of-the-pants fashion. In response, there has been no urge to officially declare that something new is afoot, let alone convene a new constitutional convention. Still, don’t for a second think that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state.

Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books).