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The Man Without A Plan

Barack Obama is a man without a plan.  When you are young, they often tell you to “fake it until you make it”, but Barack Obama is taking this to ridiculous extremes.

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Barack Obama is a man without a plan.  When you are young, they often tell you to “fake it until you make it”, but Barack Obama is taking this to ridiculous extremes.  Barack Obama has absolutely no idea what he is doing when it comes to the economy, and yet he continues to give speeches in which he declares that he is the man for the job.  The State of the Union speech the other night was just abysmal.  The federal government is spending way too much money, and yet Barack Obama is proposing even more government spending.  Entrepreneurs and small businesses are being taxed into oblivion and yet Barack Obama is proposing even higher taxes.  Our economy is being strangled to death by crippling regulations, and yet Barack Obama is proposing a vast array of new regulations.  Barack Obama always gives a nice speech, but it has become appallingly evident that he is totally out of ideas.  So our country will continue to drift aimlessly along without a direction and without a plan until the next financial tsunami comes along and makes things even worse.

And the American people are starting to clue in to the fact that Obama does not have a plan and does not have anything new to say.  Just check out how the audiences for his State of the Union addresses have declined each year….

2009: 52.3 million

2010: 48 million

2011: 42.8 million

2012: 37.8 million

His ratings are falling almost as fast as the ratings for American Idol are.

It is amazing how Barack Obama can use so many words to say so very little.

He always tickles our ears but then he never delivers the goods.  Toward the beginning of his speech the other night, he made the following statement….

“Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last—an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values”

Well, that sounds pretty good.  Except for the fact that everything he has done for the past 3 years has been the exact opposite of that.

It is almost as if he woke up that morning and decided that he would try the whole “do the opposite” thing once made famous by George Costanza on Seinfeld.

Obama says that our employment situation is getting better, but that is not really true.  The only way that the federal government can claim that there is an 8.5 percent unemployment rate is because they have decided that millions of Americans that have been unemployed for a long time should not be considered “part of the workforce” any longer.

If the number of Americans that were considered to be part of the workforce was the same today as it was back in 2007, the “official” unemployment rate put out by the U.S. government would be up to approximately 11 percent.

Sadly, the number of Americans that are dependent on the government continues to soar even higher.

Since Barack Obama took office, the number of Americans on food stamps has actually increased by 14 million.

Things have not gotten better for average Americans.

They have gotten worse.

In fact, 10 million more Americans have fallen below the poverty line since 2006.  And in 2010, more Americans fell into poverty than ever before.

A lot of people out there are really hurting, and the American people deserve some real answers.

But instead, Obama was saying stuff like this the other night….

“I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place”

Oh really?

What is Obama actually doing about the things that caused the last financial crisis?

The “financial reform” bill was a complete and total joke.  Obama has been shamefully soft on the big Wall Street banks that caused the last crisis.

Today, the “too big to fail” banks are larger than ever.  The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

So now they are more of a danger to the financial system than ever.

And not a single Wall Street executive has gone to jail for what they did during the last financial crisis.

Thanks Obama.

But of course Obama was never going to seriously go after Wall Street.

After all, they are the ones that fund his campaigns.

Most Americans don’t realize this, but 3 of the top 7 donors to Obama’s campaign in 2008 were “too big to fail” banks.

And the Obama administration has been absolutely packed with ex-Wall Street bankers.  Last year, Michael Brenner wrote the following about the composition of the Obama administration….

Wall Street’s takeover of the Obama administration is now complete. The mega-banks and their corporate allies control every economic policy position of consequence. Mr. Obama has moved rapidly since the November debacle to install business people where it counts most. Mr.William Daley from JP Morgan Chase as White House Chief of Staff. Mr. Gene Sperling from the Goldman Sachs payroll to be director of the National Economic Council. Eileen Rominger from Goldman Sachs named director of the SEC’s Investment Management division. Even the National Security Advisor, Thomas Donilon, was executive vice president for law and policy at the disgraced Fannie Mae after serving as a corporate lobbyist with O’Melveny & Roberts. The keystone of the business friendly team was put in place on Friday. General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt will serve as chair of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

During his State of the Union address, Obama also promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to America….

“Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs”

That sounds great, except for the fact that Obama has been doing everything he can to get more American jobs shipped out of the country.

The Obama administration has been aggressively pushing new “free trade” agreements with Panama, South Korea and Colombia.  The Obama administration has also made the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“the NAFTA of the Pacific“) an extremely high priority.

And of course we have all seen how wonderfully the first NAFTA worked out.

Our “free trade” policies have been an absolute nightmare for the American worker.

During 2010, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day shut down in the United States.  Overall, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have shut down since 2001.

We are bleeding jobs at a pace that is hard to believe.

Amazingly, the United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Yet Obama promises more of the same and that is  supposed to help?

During his speech, Obama correctly noted that many foreign manufacturers are heavily subsidized….

“It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours, only because they’re heavily subsidized”

So are we going to deeply penalize those that have been cheating?

Are we going to warn them that we will stop trading with them unless they stop?

Of course not.

Obama is going to do next to nothing to stop what China and other predatory nations are doing to us.

Today, the United States spends approximately 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States, and the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010 was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

But the Obama administration doesn’t seem to care much about these things.

In fact, just check out what U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told Tim Robertson of the Huffington Post about the Obama administration’s attitude toward keeping manufacturing jobs in America….

Let’s increase our competitiveness… the reality is about half of our imports, our trade deficit is because of how much oil [we import], so you take that out of the equation, you look at what percentage of it are things that frankly, we don’t want to make in America, you know, cheaper products, low-skill jobs that frankly college kids that are graduating from, you know, UC Cal and Hastings [don’t want], but what we do want is to capture those next generation jobs and build on our investments in our young people, our education infrastructure.

Oh, but Obama now says that he is going to toughen up on trade….

“I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections”

Oh boy – “inspections” – yeah, that is really going to have the Chinese shaking in their boots.

Meanwhile, the Chinese just keep hitting us with new tariffs.  According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States will now cost about $85,000 in China thanks to these new tariffs.

So is Obama going to hit China with tough new tariffs in return?

Of course not.

Meanwhile, our economy continues to bleed businesses and jobs.  According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.

But if you listen to Obama, he makes it seem like many of our industries are in better shape than ever….

“We bet on American ingenuity, and tonight the American auto industry is back.”

Yes, the American auto industry is no longer on the brink of bankruptcy, but it is not “back”.  Just consider the following stats….

*In 1970, General Motors had about a 60 percent share of the U.S. automobile market.  Today, that figure is down to about 20 percent.

*Back in 2000, about 17 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.  During 2011, less than 13 million new automobiles were sold in the United States.

*Japan builds more cars than anyone else on the globe.  Japan now manufactures about 5 million more automobiles than the United States does.

*Since Alan Mulally became CEO of Ford, the company has reduced its North American workforce by nearly half.

*In the year 2000, the U.S. auto industry employed more than 1.3 million Americans.  Today, the U.S. auto industry employs about 698,000 people.

Obama bailed out the auto industry, and they responded by sending even more of our jobs overseas.

During his speech, Obama declared that there will be no more bailouts….

“No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”

That is kind of funny because Obama is basically the all-time champion of handing out bailouts.

If Barack Obama and John McCain had not aggressively pushed for the Wall Street bailouts back in 2008, they never would have happened.

And once Obama became president, there was a seemingly endless parade of bailouts and “stimulus packages”.

So what do you honestly think he will do when the next financial crisis happens?  Do you think he would actually be able to resist the temptation for more bailouts?

Obama also says that he wants to spend more money on training for American workers….

“Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.”

But the American people already have enough training.  There are tons of college-educated Americans that are among the ranks of the unemployed right now.

What the American people need are jobs.

Unfortunately, jobs are leaving this country at an unprecedented pace.

Back in the year 2000, more than 20 percent of all jobs in America were manufacturing jobs.  Today, about 5 percent of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs.

Not only that, but our incomes are also going down.  Because U.S. workers now have to compete for jobs with workers that make slave labor wages on the other side of the globe, pay in this country continues to decline.

A recent White House reported entitled “Investing in America: Building an Economy That Lasts” actually bragged that our trade policies have driven wages in America down.  The following chart is from that report….

The Obama administration has been very good for the largest corporations.

For the rest of us, not so much.

But Obama now says that he wants America to be a place that encourages entrepreneurs and small businesses to thrive….

“It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.”

Unfortunately, the reality is that the federal government is strangling entrepreneurs and small businesses to death with taxes and crippling regulations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006.  Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.

That is not a good trend.

And right now small businesses are extremely hesitant to bring on new workers.

One recent survey found that 77 percent of all U.S. small businesses do not plan to hire any more workers in the coming year.

So obviously what the Obama administration is doing is not working.

During his speech, Obama also spoke of developing our own energy resources….

“A future where we are in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world.”

Hopefully most of those watching laughed when they heard this, because this had to have been a joke.

America is absolutely swimming in oil and natural gas, and yet the Obama administration has blocked the development of those resources at every turn.

Instead, Obama has been very busy trying to push green energy companies on us, but they have had a nasty habit of going bankrupt.

During his speech, Obama also spoke of the need for “comprehensive immigration reform”.

But apparently Obama’s idea of “immigration reform” is to grant “backdoor amnesty” to the vast majority of the illegal immigrants in the United States and to continue to leave our borders completely wide open.

The consequences of such a policy are very serious.  As I wrote about the other day, there are now 1.4 million gang members living inside the United States, and that number has risen by an astounding 40 percent since 2009.

The last thing we need is more “immigration reform” from Barack Obama.

Of course the “class warfare” part was the centerpiece of Obama’s speech the other night.

Referring to it as the “defining issue of our time”, Obama said that now is the time to hit the wealthy with higher taxes….

“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

This is going to be what Barack Obama is going to base his entire 2012 campaign on.  He is going to try to tap into the economic frustrations of the poor and the middle class and he is going to try to get them to blame the rich and the “party of the rich” (the Republicans).

But taxing the rich is not going to solve our problems.  If Bill Gates donated his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.

The truth is that the ultra-wealthy are always several steps ahead of the U.S. government.  The global elite are hiding 18 trillion dollars in offshore banks, and they are absolute experts at avoiding taxes.

No, the people that always get hit when taxes are raised are small business owners that try to do things “by the book” and middle class families that are barely scraping by.

What we need to do is to get rid of the income tax system entirely.  It is deeply corrupt and it is full of thousands of loopholes.

Trust me, I know.  I used to study this stuff.

But Obama seems to think that taxing the rich is the solution to all of our problems….

“We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to their country’s future, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit.”

Oh really?

If we just accept Obama’s plan the deficit will be fixed?

That worked out so well during his first term.  During the first three years of the Obama administration, the U.S. government accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

The truth is that Obama does not plan to fix anything.  Barack Obama’s proposed 2012 budget projects that the national debt will rise to 26 trillion dollars a decade from now.  And his budget numbers are ridiculously optimistic.

Not that our tax system does not need reform.

If we are going to have an income tax system (which we should not), then it should at least be fair.

There is no way in the world that General Electric and Mitt Romney should pay a lower tax rate than you and I do.

In a previous article, I noted some of the big corporations that have made enormous profits and yet have paid less than zero in taxes in recent years….

What U.S. corporations are able to get away with is absolutely amazing.

The following figures come directly out of a report by Citizens for Tax Justice.  These are combined figures for the tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

During those three years, all of the corporations below made a lot of money.  Yet all of them paid net taxes that were below zero for those three years combined.

How is that possible?  Well, it turns out that instead of paying in taxes to the federal government, they were actually getting money back.

So for these corporations, their rate of taxation was actually below zero.

If you have not seen these before, you are going to have a hard time believing some of these statistics…..

*Honeywell*

Profits: $4.9 billion

Taxes: -$34 million

*Fed Ex*

Profits: $3 billion

Taxes: -$23 million

*Wells Fargo*

Profits: $49.37 billion

Taxes: -$681 million

*Boeing*

Profits: $9.7 billion

Taxes: -$178 million

*Verizon*

Profits: $32.5 billion

Taxes: -$951 million

*Dupont*

Profits: $2.1 billion

Taxes -$72 million

*American Electric Power*

Profits: $5.89 billion

Taxes -$545 million

*General Electric*

Profits: $7.7 billion

Taxes: -$4.7 billion

Are you starting to get the picture?

Hopefully we can all agree that there is something seriously wrong with those numbers.

But fixing holes in the tax system is one thing – blaming America’s economic ills on the wealthy is another.

During his speech, Obama made the following statement….

“You can call this class warfare all you want”

And yes, we will hear the term “class warfare” over and over again for the rest of 2012.

Obama actually believes that “blaming the 1%” can get him sent back to the White House again.

But that isn’t going to solve any of our problems.

Instead, we should be focusing on the root causes of our economic problems.

I would love to see a president get up during a State of the Union address and declare that we need to shut down the Federal Reserve.

Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. dollar has lost over 95 percent of its purchasing power.

Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

Thanks to the debt-based Federal Reserve system, we are going into debt at a pace that is unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Right now, the federal government is stealing 150 million dollars an hour from our children and our grandchildren.

But Barack Obama loves the Federal Reserve.

In fact, he actually nominated Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve Chairman even though Bernanke has a track record of incompetence that is legendary.

So no, nobody should be applauding Barack Obama for his absolutely abysmal speech the other night.

He is a man without a plan and he has been an absolute disaster for America.

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6 Things That Can Make or Break The Stock Market In 2018

Credit Suisse is out early with its forecasts for US stocks and the economy next year, and they are bullish. 

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Credit Suisse is out early with its forecasts for US stocks and the economy next year, and they are bullish.

The firm’s equity strategists see the S&P 500 rising to 2,987 by year-end, implying an annualized gain of about 11%. They forecast earnings-per-share growth of 6% to 7% over the next two years, from $130 this year to $147 in 2019.

“Our market views are predicated on a supportive economic backdrop, with benign recessionary risks and a pickup in near-term indicators,” said the US equity strategists led by Jonathan Golub, in a note on Tuesday. “While we expect more muted longer-term growth, this has focused corporations on cost containment and the return of capital to shareholders, extended the business cycle and lowered discount rates.”

Credit Suisse is also betting on the continued outperformance of favored sectors in 2017. The tech sector remains the team’s favorite even though it’s expensive relative to earnings. And, they expect financials to outperform due to deregulation.

“Our forecasts are built upon the most historically important drivers of corporate profits and stock prices,” Golub wrote. “That said, many things can alter the market’s path over the near term.”

Trump policy

Trump policy

Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

The group of stocks that would benefit the most from a corporate-tax cut surged after the election but slid only until recently. This suggests investors were doubtful about President Donald Trump’s plan.

“We expect that the proposed tax plan will be difficult to pass, or will have less of an impact than hoped for,” Golub said.

“While we believe that the market would initially applaud such actions, we anticipate that the investment conversation would quickly shift toward higher potential deficits and wage inflation, both negatives for stocks.”

New Fed leadership

Trump said two weeks ago Friday that he would make an announcement on who will lead the Fed after Chair Janet Yellen’s term ends in February. He is reportedly considering policy hawks including Kevin Warsh and John Taylor.

“We believe that there are two key issues surrounding Yellen’s replacement that could unsettle the market: (1) a change in the perceived independence of the Fed, and (2) an end to the period of uber-dovish policy.”

Volatility

Stocks have historically rallied when the CBOE Volatility Index is very low.

“Market volatility has been extremely low throughout the recovery, with the VIX currently reading 9.7,” Golub said. “This has led many pundits to characterize investors as complacent and the market vulnerable to a pullback. We disagree with these assertions.”

Currency

Currency

Credit Suisse

The trade-weighted dollar has slumped 9% this year.

“Our work indicates a 10:1 ratio between currency moves and corporate profits (in the opposite direction). Unfortunately, the dollar’s move is much more muted when measured on a year-over-year basis [-3.3%], and is therefore a much smaller consideration in our forecasts.”

North Korea

North Korea

Credit Suisse

The concern is not a North Korean attack — which investors aren’t expecting — but what happens if the US government punishes one of its major trading partners: China.

“While such actions would likely be targeted, with little economic impact, they have the potential to escalate, disrupting global growth.”

The chart shows that the recent improvement in China’s economy has benefitted US companies.

Hurricanes

The impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, and the recovery efforts, will skew many economic indicators over the next few months.

“Separately, we would not be surprised to see some companies using these natural disasters as an opportunity to conveniently take write-downs,” Golub said.

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Is White-Collar Crime a Threat to Wall Street?

The stock market has had nightmares in the past and we cannot rule that out from happening again in the future, not even with the introduction of new financial regulation policies designed to prevent a financial crisis like the one witnessed in 2008-09.

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The stock market has had nightmares in the past and we cannot rule that out from happening again in the future, not even with the introduction of new financial regulation policies designed to prevent a financial crisis like the one witnessed in 2008-09.

While only one person, Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) executive Kareem Serageldin, was convicted in relation to the global financial crisis of 2008, investigations over the years have revealed  there probably should have been more. According to findings, the financial crisis of 2008 had more to do with white-collar crime than a natural market meltdown.

The biggest issue when it comes to white-collar crime however, especially in securities fraud, is there are a lot of gray areas. Since markets are unpredictable, it has often proven difficult to pin these malpractices on individuals.

In most cases, the company, its shareholders and even employees are the ones who suffer the consequences.

For instance, in a Financial Times feature on Eric Ben-Artzi, the Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) whistleblower who exposed the bank’s improper accounting practices, the bank’s former risk management officer accused the SEC of performing a disappointing investigation. Ben-Artzi actually turned down the $8.25 million offered to him by the SEC for his role in exposing the company.

In the article, Ben-Artzi argues that by forcing the bank to pay $55 million rather than prosecuting the individuals involved in the crime, the SEC had allowed top executives at the bank to retire with “multimillion-dollar bonuses based on the misrepresentation of the bank’s balance sheet.” On the flipside, the bank’s shareholders and general employees ended up suffering the consequences as they were forced to bear the burden of their managers’ accounting treachery.

This is a clear example of what happens when things go wrong in these so-called “too big to fail” companies. Top executives who are often at fault for planning and executing such malpractices are also deemed “too big to jail,” thereby transferring the burden to the company, the shareholders and rank-and-file employees. This happens on Wall Street, in multinational institutions and even within the confines of government parastatals.

According to Vikas Bajaj, a criminal defense attorney who regularly defends people accused of white-collar crimes, corporate fraud is often pinned on the wrong victims and at times can “devastate personal and professional life for a very long time, making it difficult to secure employment, rent a home, secure a government student loan or obtain a professional license.” However, gathering the right evidence and speaking to the right people can help to strengthen the defense, while getting a white-collar crime defense attorney can ensure the true story emerges, thereby protecting the rights and the future of the accused, notes Bajaj.

But as we have seen, investigators do tend to go for the least protected individuals when it comes to white-collar crime. This does not rectify the long-term impact on the company in question and we have witnessed many companies go down the drain due to major financial malpractices.

While most people view corporate fraud as any practice that wrongly represents the financial position of a company or anything that results in money being lost without a trace, sometimes ignorance and negligence can amount to white-collar crime. For instance, banks are mandated to perform thorough credit checks before issuing loans to individuals and businesses. Yet, defaults from loans and mortgages are what fueled the magnitude of the 2008 global financial crisis.

In short, lenders did not do their homework before issuing loans. It was high-risk lending fueled by the then-booming housing market, which was shortly followed by several credit defaults and then the global financial crisis. While various financial regulations like the Dodd-Frank Act and Basel III Rules have since been introduced to avert the possibility of another financial crisis triggered by the banking sector, accounting misrepresentation like in the case of Deutsche Bank could end up taking the market back to those dark times.

Had it not for Ben-Artzi, who knows whether the malpractice at Deutsche Bank would ever have been uncovered? Who knows how many more companies are doing the same thing on Wall Street? According to World Finance‘s Emily Cashen, “the same reckless behavior behind the 2008 global crash continues to run rampant on Wall Street and unless this vicious cycle can somehow be broken, the global banking system may spiral into fresh disaster.”

Conclusion

White-collar crime on Wall Street is real and could be one of the biggest undetected threats the financial markets could be facing. The various regulatory bodies tasked with the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting the individuals responsible seem to be reluctant to do so on the belief of some being “too big to jail.” Often, the innocent and defenseless end up bearing the burden of their managers’ crimes, losing their jobs and even being put behind bars.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned in this article.

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Is It Wrong To Question The Official Story When Tragedy Strikes?

Of course, when there is news, it should be reported. Today it is reported sensationally, as entertainment. Is it meant to inform, or induce?

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via The Daily Bell

The media says, “Jump.” And the public responds in unison, “How high?”

“As high as you ever have jumped before, except maybe after 9/11, or the Kennedy assassination.”

Of course, when there is news, it should be reported. Today it is reported sensationally, as entertainment. Is it meant to inform, or induce?

Which came first, the media’s obsession with violence, or the public demand for violence? In the 1990’s as violent crime in America dropped, the media filled more and more time slots with stories about violence.

By the end of the 90’s the public was clamoring for the government to do somethingabout what they assumed was a rising trend in violent crime.

Was that orchestrated? The government certainly benefits from a hysterical public begging them to help. It certainly gives the government an important role in the daily life of an average citizen. But this alone doesn’t mean that it was a conspiracy. Acknowledging that the government benefitted from the media’s overreporting of crime is not the same as suggesting the government actively pushed the media to do so.

But why not wonder? Exercise those thought processes.

It is a known fact that thousands of journalists were at one time on the payroll of the CIA. It was called Operation Mockingbird, and agents would place false stories in publications like the New York Times, and Time.

So when it comes to the case of the fake 90’s crime wave, it makes sense to wonder if a similar program still exists. The courts have ruled that FBI agents can legally impersonate journalists in the course of an investigation.

Do we need to discover the actual program in order to speculate? Well, I certainly wouldn’t say that it is happening without knowing for sure. But we can acknowledge a historical fact and draw a parallel between that and a similar contemporary trend. In such circumstances, it makes sense to be skeptical.

Either way, we shouldn’t fall prey to the media’s manipulations about such things, regardless of the catalyst. So why not remind people that in the past, lies from the government shaped public opinion?

But there are some cases when questioning, wondering, and speculating is considered downright wrong.

When it is most important to speak freely, you can’t.

How do I walk the line between my inherent mistrust of the government media complex and sincere compassion and empathy for victims of tragedy?

Is it wrong to question official narratives after a tragic event? Is it disrespectful to wonder if there isn’t more to the story? Should I censor myself to avoid appearing insensitive, when I want to talk about inconsistencies in the media tale, or the motives that various groups could have to lie about such events?

I think it is especially important to be able to talk freely when it comes to tragedy. The more potential an event has for exploitation, the more possibilities should be explored.

If we are conditioned to hold our tongues, to suppress our curiosity and skepticism when it comes to tragedy, then the worst actors in any given situation win. Those in power need only create a tragedy, and it becomes impossible to question the official narrative. Otherwise, you are disrespectful and uncaring.

When someone is gravely wounded, you don’t slap a band-aid over it. You’ve got to clean out the wound. And that hurts in the moment. But in the long run, it is necessary to prevent infection.

We should wonder if 9/11 was a false flag attack. I don’t think it is disrespectful to the victims to do so. I think it would be more disrespectful to unquestioningly believe the official story. The official story comes from the people who have the most to gain.

Did the terrorists who carried out the attack on the twin towers have anything to gain? Well maybe if they believed the whole 72 virgins thing. But in real life, they died. Suiciding bombing is a thing that people do, however, so it certainly can’t be ruled out.

Did Osama Bin Laden have a lot to gain? Well again, it is tough to understand the motivation of terrorists. Apparently, they think killing innocent people accomplishes something. But now he is dead.

And what about the official storytellers, the ones who investigated, and revealed the true culprits behind 9/11?

Their gains remain. They gained the power to easily declare wars and conduct military operations. Money was poured into the defense budget. Agencies like Homeland Security and the TSA sprang into existence.

Attention was diverted from missing money at the Pentagon. The PATRIOT Act was passed. Due process was no longer a concern.

“Mission Accomplished” in Iraq; the glory of killing Bin Laden. The public became desensitized to war. America helped toppled regimes in Libya and Egypt, and support a civil war in Syria.

These things alone don’t prove anything. But it looks awfully suspicious. The ones who we rely on for information about what happened had the most to gain from the attack. They are the ones who will “solve” the problems.

It is a conflict of interest even if the official story is true. It just so happens that their recommendations on the best course of action were the very things that would grow their power, expand their budget, and swell their ranks.

Again we have a historical fact to turn to for comparison. The Joint Chiefs of Staff under Kennedy floated the idea of carrying out a false flag against American citizens to get them involved in a war with Cuba. It was called Operation Northwoods. Kennedy told them if they ever mentioned the idea of murdering innocent Americans again, he would have them tried for treason.

Well, we all know what happened to Kennedy, but that is a whole rabbit hole of its own. What we know for sure, is that as early as the 1960’s people in the U.S. government wanted to commit false flag attacks against Americans to provoke war. And the leader most vehemently opposed was assassinated.

Incidentally, the Kennedy Administration approved of Operation Mockingbird.

May I Speak Freely?

I want to wonder, and I want to speculate. I get as angry and sad as anyone else with a properly developed conscience when horrible things happen. I want those responsible held accountable. And it is against my skeptical nature to accept an official story without digging for more evidence. Horror does not paralyze my desire to question the official narrative and wonder about inconsistencies.

One thing that strikes me about all of the mass shootings of the past few years, is the great diversity in location and venue.

A college in Virginia. An elementary school in Connecticut. A mall in Washington. A nightclub in Florida. A church in North Carolina. A movie theater in Colorado. A political meet and greet in Arizona. The streets of California. A concert on the Vegas strip.

If someone wanted to strike fear into the hearts of Americans, they could not have chosen a better range of targets. The message would be whatever place you live, wherever you go in public, whatever your age, job, or social status, you are not safe.

Maybe that is the truth. And maybe it is random.

We are told these were all carried out by lone a lone gunman–or a married couple in one case.

But why are there so often witness reports of a second gunman? Could it be chalked up to confusion?

The victims tragically lost their lives. Their families lost loved ones, which will impact them for the rest of their lives. The American people lose their sense of security and their rights. Relationships deteriorate as bitter disagreements turn personal, blame abounds, fingers point, defenses go up.

And after so many tragedies, the culprit is left dead. Is that justice?

Who benefits? The dead guy on the 32nd floor?

The Democrats who want gun control? The Republicans who want militarized police? The media who get a bump in ratings? The Generals who want war? A government that “never let(s) a good crisis go to waste”?

I want this madness to stop. We know how the media wants it to play out. They will get their ratings with division and bitter disagreement. The government always gets more power, more relevance, more opportunity to insert itself into the everyday lives of Americans.

That is why it is so necessary to look deeper, to ask those tough questions that we don’t even want to consider as a possibility. We can’t sit by silently wondering if we are being told the truth or fed lies. It is not disrespectful to question the official story. It would be a miscarriage of justice to accept it without protest, as we are told is what should be done in times of crisis.

The only other option is to play into the hands of the media and government, whether they be orchestrators or opportunists. When we replay the same old arguments and put forth the same stale solutions, when we look to them for information and solutions, they win.

Question everything. Clean out the wounds. It may hurt to get in there deep. But if we don’t, the infection will grow and fester, as it always has before.

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