Friday, January 29, 2016
From the program:
"Join Babylon 5 star Jason Carter in a unique experience you're not soon to forget. Jason Carter brings to you his wealth of experience in the acting field in an hour and a half acting workshop. The experience is geared to all levels of interest, from the serious beginner to someone who is just curious in what techniques and exercises actors use to prepare for various roles. The workshop is interactive and entertaining to all who attend!"
This event was always my favorite at MegaCon the years that it was there...
Thursday, January 28, 2016
We all know them: friends and relatives, even media personalities, who we thought were hardline conservatives are now swooning over Donald Trump, the next great savior of the Republic.
Over Thanksgiving dinner and many texts since, one relative explained his allegiance to Trump with exuberance. Appeals to how his belief in property rights doesn’t match Trump’s enthusiasm for eminent domain, requests for explanations on why Trump has contributed to the successful elections of such far-Left Democrats as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, or why Trump used to be a Democrat, met obfuscation.
Perhaps if the Trump fans heard it from the Donald himself, they might be willing to reconsider their support. So here are five instances Trump told us all he is actually a liberal.
Trump expounded on his favorite subject, immigration, during the CNN Republican primary debate. Sandwiched in between many “right-wing” fantasies was a seemingly conservative idea, but upon closer examination, it reveals a very liberal premise: “A woman gets pregnant. She’s nine months, she walks across the border, she has the baby in the United States, and we take care of the baby for 85 years? I don’t think so.”
I guess we (the taxpayers via the government) are supposed to take care of everyone from the moment they’re born to the moment they die.
A conservative or libertarian would recognize that welfare is as much a drag on the economy as anti-immigrant activists claim immigration is, if not more so. Yet Trump accepts our welfare state as an unchangeable, natural part of how the government cares for its people.
In an interview on “60 Minutes” this September, Trump opened up on his not-so-conservative ideas for healthcare reform. Maintaining that Obamacare, which gave the federal government much greater control over the health insurance industry, was a disaster, he said about healthcare that “the government’s gonna pay for it.”
Here’s an excerpt, as covered by John Nolte from Breitbart (emphasis his and mine):
Donald Trump: Obamacare’s going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what’s going on with premiums where they’re up 40, 50, 55 percent.
Scott Pelley: How do you fix it?
Donald Trump: There’s many different ways, by the way. Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, ‘No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private. But–‘
Scott Pelley: Universal health care.
Donald Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.
Scott Pelley: The uninsured person is going to be taken care of. How? How?
Donald Trump: They’re going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably–
Scott Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it?
Donald Trump: –the government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it’s going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.
Of course, this is nothing new from Trump. The Donald has supported Hillary’s single-payer ideas in the past, and though he downplayed his support for single payer during the GOP Fox debate by saying “it could have worked in a different age,” (15 years ago, when he stated his support for single payer in the United States) when he’s pressed, he betrays his true convictions about the role of government in our lives.
Oh, and if they like their plans and doctors, they can keep their plans and doctors. Sound familiar?
In 2007, Trump responded to Wolf Blitzer’s prompt on Hillary’s most recent iteration of universal healthcare: “I think it was very good. It’s a very very complex setup for things going on right now in terms of healthcare, but she came out with an idea, sounds like a pretty good idea, and a lot of people like it and embraced it. “
Also, too, from one of Trump’s books (“The America We Deserve”), he confesses his affinity for a single-payer system like that of Canada: “The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than America…We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.”
Some call Trump’s plans a “clash with Republican orthodoxy,” but it’s not just that—it’s an embrace of liberal orthodoxy.
In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Trump opined on the subject of eminent domain,(the power of government to seize private property, with compensation, and give it to another private party for development): “Eminent domain for massive projects, for instance, if you’re gonna create thousands of jobs, and you have somebody that’s in the way, and you need a house in a certain location…because you’re going to build this massive development and going to employ thousands of people…that without this little house you can’t build the factory, I think eminent domain is fine.”
As long as the developer believes he’s going to improve the local economy, it’s totally fine to take someone’s private property.
In other words, as long as the developer believes he’s going to improve the local economy, it’s totally fine to take someone’s private property. Not for building a highway for public use, mind you, which is the other example Trump said was “wonderful,” but for another private entity to take and develop for private purposes. Such a position is neither constitutional (according to a literal reading), nor conservative.
Want illegal immigrants deported? You can have all of them sent packing, never to return, for one low price of $400 billion!
What does your package include? According to Reason, around 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers that would constitute yet another layer of expensive and tedious bureaucracy. For every new “frontline” enforcement officer, there is a chain of command involving even more salaried and pensioned employees, and plenty of bureaucratic red tape holding it together.
You can have all of them sent packing, never to return, for one low price of $400 billion!
Trump’s official position paper quotes the president of the ICE Officers Council on immigration:
“Only approximately 5,000 officers and agents within ICE perform the lion’s share of ICE’s immigration mission…Compare that to the Los Angeles Police Department at approximately 10,000 officers. Approximately 5,000 officers in ICE cover 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam, and are attempting to enforce immigration law against 11 million illegal aliens already in the interior of the United States…Since 9-11, the U.S. Border Patrol has tripled in size, while ICE’s immigration enforcement arm, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), has remained at relatively the same size.”
Those who actually believe one of government’s core problems is inefficiency and believe in the power of free markets should recognize that Trump’s policy is based on his faith that government can make it all better. Government can save your job, government can root out all the criminals, government can. But in fact, in most areas of our lives, government cannot.
Young people don’t know what socialism is.
Recent polls have suggested that millennials are far more positive to socialism than older cohorts. For instance, the Pew Research Center found that 43 percent of 18-29 year olds had a positive reaction to the word socialism, compared to 33 percent of 30-49 year olds, 23 percent of 50-64 year olds, and 14% of 65+. The older you get the more you hate socialism.
But do young people even know what socialism means?
Perhaps not. A new Reason-Rupe report on millennials finds that young people are more favorable to the word “socialism” than a government-managed economy, even though the latter is lessinterventionist. Millennials don’t like government intervention in the economy when you spell it out precisely, rather than use vague terms like “socialism.”
In fact, a 2010 CBS/New York Times survey found that when Americans were asked to use their own words to define the word “socialism” millennials were the least able to do so. According to the survey, only 16 percent of millennials could define socialism as government ownership, or some variation thereof. In contrast, 30 percent of Americans over 30 could do the same (and 57% of tea partiers, incidentally).
Millennials simply don’t know that socialism means the government owning everybody’s businesses. They don’t understand that socialism means the government owns the banks, the car companies, Uber, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc. They don’t even want the government taking a managerial role over the economy, let alone nationalizing private enterprise.
In fact, millennial support for a government-managed economy (32%) mirrors national favorability toward the word socialism (31%). Millennial preferences may not be so different from older generations once terms are defined.
Millennials’ preferred economic system becomes more pronounced when it is described precisely. Fully 64 percent favor a free market economy over an economy managed by the government (32%), whereas 52 percent favor capitalism over socialism (42%). Language about capitalism and socialism is vague, and using these terms assumes knowledge millennials may not have acquired.
Millennials didn’t grow up during the Cold War in which the national enemy was a socialist totalitarian regime like the Soviet Union. Since this time, the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” may have taken on different meaning in the minds of millennials. For instance, socialism could imply protecting the vulnerable from the vicissitudes of capitalism, and capitalism could mean government favoritism instead of a free market.
Many friends of mine — people who have worked for the progress of liberty for years — are mightily encouraged by the popularity of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. My friends point out that they are both radicals of a sort, people who represent a threat to the established political order. We too are against the establishment, so their rise suggests rising discontent with the status quo. That’s a step in the right direction, they say.
As far as it goes, I see the point, and I sympathize. In fact, on these pages, I’ve drawn parallels between the Tea Party and the Occupy movement: both oppose the status quo in ways partisans of liberty can appreciate.
But there’s a problem. The state power we oppose is not identical to the establishment we reject. You can overthrow the establishment and still be left with a gigantic machinery of legalized exploitation. All the agencies, laws, regulations, and powers are still in place. And now you have a problem: someone else is in charge of the state itself. You might call it a new establishment. It could be even more wicked than the one you swept away.
Indeed, it usually is. Maybe always.
What is an establishment? It is a network of large and cooperating interest groups that have developed a stable relationship with state power. It includes finance, organized labor, public bureaucrats, government contractors, big businesses with quid pro quo relationships with regulators and politicians, political families with a strong stake in the election process, intellectuals at state-friendly think tanks and universities, and so on.
Czarist Russia had a deeply entrenched establishment: the church, business, government, aristocracy all working together in a stable relationship. The corruption was obvious. Then it became intolerable with the war draft and rampant inflation. The establishment failed and was overthrown. What came it its place was a transitional government and finally Bolshevik rule.
Weimar Germany had an entrenched establishment: banking, government, corporations, bureaucracy all working together. The corruption was obvious. Then it became intolerable with hyperinflation and deep economic retrenchment. People were suffering and looking for answers. Most people regarded Hitler as a non-ideal messenger, but he was fine in a pinch. No one expected the results.
The list of failed establishments replaced by still more wicked states is long indeed: Mexico, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Venezuela in the last century, and Iraq, Syria, and Libya in our own times.
The conflation of the state and the establishment has caused countless revolutionary movements to go wrong. Eastern Europe overthrew its establishments in 1989 but kept their states, resulting in mixed-economy social democracies. Russia got rid of the Bolsheviks in 1990 and created an authoritarian oligarchy in its place. To be sure, the results in these cases were better than before. But as the Italian, Russian, French, and German cases illustrate, that is not always the case. The results differ according to the plans and designs of the new power holders.
You might point to the American Revolution as a contrary case. We tossed out the British monarchy and invented freedom! But think again. The war itself created a new establishment consisting of politicians, military generals, bond dealers, and influential landholders. Twelve years after the Declaration of Independence, these groups got together and formed a new government that, in time, became as oppressive and restrictive — and in some ways, more so — as the one the revolutionaries overthrew. And this occurred despite the existence of classical liberal political norms and intellectual culture.
Nonetheless, in our times, freedom lovers have become so enraptured with the idea of opposing the establishment as such that many have lost sight of the actual goal of establishing freedom. It’s for this reason that so many have fallen for Donald Trump’s claim that he deserves support solely because he owes nothing to anyone. Therefore, he is not part of the establishment.
Why is that good for liberty? He has said nothing about dismantling power. Indeed, he is on record with his desire to radically expand the power of the state. He wants surveillance, controls on the internet, religious tests for migration, war-like tariffs, industrial planning, and autocratic foreign-policy power. He’s praised police power and toyed with ideas such as internment and killings of political enemies. His entire governing philosophy boils down to arbitrary, free-wheeling authoritarianism.
As for Sanders, everything that is bad about the current establishment he promises to make worse with more programs, bureaucracy, taxes, controls, and government power in order to making life fair, just, and equitable. He speaks as if he’s never heard of the failed history of socialism and certainly hasn’t learned anything from it.
Some of these ideas are so extreme that, it’s true, the establishment doesn’t like them. That’s a good thing. Establishments are as Machiavelli described: stable machines that keep competitors at bay but otherwise seek to make the system work for themselves. They resist rampant populism that would lead to a pillaging of the nation that is serving them so well.
To understand Machiavelli, realize that his black beast was the cleric Savonarola, Florence’s quasi-dictator who led a mass movement of crazed pietists who pillaged and burned material possessions as a pathway to heaven. The Bonfire of the Vanities of 1487 was one result. This is exactly the kind of mania that establishments exist to keep at bay.
It is the height of political naivete and historical ignorance to believe that anti-establishment populism and the cause of human liberty are united in the same struggle. They are not.
Not that there is anything wrong with “the people” as such. As Trump might say, “I love the people.” They are great as consumers using their own property, as workers and entrepreneurs creating value, as family members, as managers of their own lives. But the people as absolute rulers over the political system? That’s a different matter. For instance, polls show that many people (30% of Republicans, 19% of Democrats) support bombing Agrabah, the fictional country in Disney’s “Aladdin.”
Did you wonder why the Chicago Police dashcam video that showed the fatal (and brutal) shooting of Laquan McDonald didn’t have any sound? Its microphone was not working, and as DNAinfo in Chicago has discovered, the police department seems to have a bit of a problem with officers’ dashcams and microphones cutting out, sometimes due to what was classified by the department itself as “intentional damage”:
Maintenance records of the squad car used by Jason Van Dyke, who shot and killed Laquan McDonald, and his partner, Joseph Walsh, show months-long delays for two dashcam repairs, including a long wait to fix “intentional damage.”
On June 17, 2014, police technicians reported fixing a dashcam wiring issue in police vehicle No. 6412, the squad shared by Van Dyke and Walsh, about three months after it was reported broken, records show.
A day later, the same vehicle’s dashcam system was reported busted again. It took until Oct. 8, 2014, to complete repairs of what technicians deemed “intentional damage,” according to reports.
Just 12 days later, on Oct. 20, 2014, dashcam video recorded from squad car No. 6412 on the night Van Dyke shot and killed McDonald did not record audio. The video that went viral showing Van Dyke killing Laquan was taken from a different squad car, but it, too, had no audio.
DNAInfo notes that four other police cars on the scene failed to record audio and only two of the five cars that had dashcams actually caught any video.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Nineteenth-century Europe abounds with conspiracy both ghastly and mysterious. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian priests are strangled with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate black masses by night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies, lies just one man?
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Hillary Clinton went into damage-control mode when news broke that the inspector general of the intelligence agencies had identified additional classified emails on her private server, including ones containing intelligence on covert “Special Access Programs.” Her campaign even accused the inspector general — an Obama appointee confirmed by a Democratic-controlled Senate — of engaging in a “coordinated leak” with Republicans “for the purposes of hurting her campaign.”
Lash out as she might, Clinton’s constantly changing email story is rapidly falling apart. First, Clinton claimed there was “no classified material” on her private server — which turned out to be untrue. Then she claimed none of the intelligence on her server was “classified at the time” — which also turned out to be untrue. Now, in a National Public Radio interview last week, Clinton said there was no information that was “marked classified.”
But this is not a defense.
It is against the law to remove classification markings from classified information and enter it into an unclassified system — which is the only way this information could have found its way into more than 1,300 emails on Clinton’s personal server. There is no way to “accidentally” send classified information by unclassified email. Senior officials have separate computers in their offices for classified and unclassified information. The two systems are not connected. The only way information from the classified system can make it onto an unclassified system is for someone to intentionally put it there — either by taking a document that is marked classified and typing the information without markings into an unclassified email, or by putting a thumb drive into their classified computer, downloading information and then putting that thumb drive into an unclassified computer, as Edward Snowden did. In either case, it is a crime.
So Clinton’s defense that the information was not “marked” classified does not absolve her of wrongdoing. Quite the opposite, it puts her in greater legal jeopardy.
The revelation that the intelligence on her private server included discussions of Special Access Programs makes the situation even more serious. Having any classified information on your private server is against the law. But Special Access Programs contain information so sensitive, it is given a secret “codeword” and placed into a “compartment” to which only a small number of specially cleared people have access. To see this information, it is not enough to have Top Secret security clearance; you have to be cleared for that specific compartment.
Having that kind of super-sensitive, codeword-protected, compartmented information on her unsecured server in her Chappaqua, N.Y., basement put U.S. national security in grave danger — because foreign powers could easily hack into her system and get it. In August, NBC News reported that “China’s cyber spies have accessed the private emails of ‘many’ top Obama administration officials . . . and have been doing so since at least April 2010. The email grab — first codenamed ‘Dancing Panda’ by U.S. officials, and then ‘Legion Amethyst’ — was detected in April 2010 . . . [and] is still going on.” We also know that Russian hackers successfully penetrated the State Department’s computer systems. Does anyone believe they did not target Clinton’s unsecured private server as well?
Paul adviser Steve Grubbs, who is heading up his Iowa operation, recently spoke about it toBreitbart news:
“Seventeen to twenty-seven thousand votes is win, place or show” Paul’s top Iowa adviser Steve Grubbs told Breitbart News, coming off a rally attended by 150 Iowans. Grubbs is the former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. He previously led Bob Dole and Steve Forbes to great success in the Iowa caucus. Now he’s working at the top of Rand PAC.
“We have 1,019 precinct campaigns in every corner of the state,” Grubbs said. “He’s peaking at just the right time. Four years ago, Rick Santorum was in last place 23 days out. He rose to win it. There’s been a lot of movement here in the last three weeks. If you want to be in the right place at the right time, you need to have the ground game ready to go.”
“For the first time since 2000, the caucus will occur while college is in session,” Grubbs said. “We have campus organizations at more than twenty University of Iowa colleges and universities.
“They’ll register at the caucus,” Grubbs said of his younger libertarian-minded voters. “It’s better to register the day of the caucus. If you register January 10 at your local county auditor, then they’ll pull the punch list on caucus day and your name won’t be there. Because they’re just using the most recent list they have from the state of Iowa, and that’s a government! How often do they refresh? Then if your name isn’t there, there’s a challenged ballot.”
Paul himself recently pointed out that the campaign has a goal of turning out 10,000 college students:
In an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill on Thursday, the Kentucky Republican said that his campaign has a “real shot” of reaching its goal to draw 10,000 students to the polls next month — an ambitious goal for any GOP candidate, including the current front-runners, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and real estate developer Donald Trump.
The campaign is targeting students “on campus, really trying to organize dorm by dorm,” Paul said. “We have a really good ground game.”
Paul said his campaign has placed 500,000 phone calls to voters across Iowa and has 1,000 precinct chairs in the state, more than any of his GOP rivals, with two weeks to go before voting begins.
Note: Since Paul’s interview a few days ago, the campaign has reached 700,000 phone callsand has a goal of 1 million.
Paul has some strong outside help that adds yet another layer to his impressive organization. PurplePac reserved $500,000 in ads for him earlier this month. But perhaps more impressive have been the efforts of Concerned American Voters, lead by Matt Kibbe (formerly of FreedomWorks) and Young Americans for Liberty President Jeff Frazee. CAV has had at least40 full-time, paid staffers since it started in June.
Frazee recently gave an update on the notable progress his PAC has made:
“We’re waiting for Rand to catch fire,” Frazee said. “If that happens in Iowa, there are millions of dollars sitting on the sidelines, waiting for him.”
Concerned American Voters got off the ground in June, and since then it has made 1.1 million voter contacts in Iowa to identify 37,352 likely caucus goers. They’ve been marked as certain to support, likely to support, or maybe to support Paul.
Overall, the Paul organization-both the campaign and outside support-is extremely impressive. And the goal of forging a winning coalition cannot be understated.
Though Paul has focused heavily on the college vote, he hasn’t neglected rural areas of the state. While some candidates such as Donald Trump have taken to pandering on ethanol mandates, Paul has been emphasizing his strong opposition to eminent domain:
He spoke to a crowd of about 80 in Oskaloosa at an event billed as an eminent domain town hall. The Kentucky senator said while he is in favor of creating energy independence by building domestic pipelines, he is opposed to any land being taken from private property owners without proper compensation.
“One of the worst powers, one of the most egregious powers you can give a government is the power to take your property,” he said. “And we have a government that’s grown too large in this sense.”
Monday, January 25, 2016
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is looking to curb the size of the federal government by targeting redundant or wasteful programs.
Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, on Wednesday introduced two pieces of legislation that he says could help scale back spending.
One bill, backed by Republican Sens. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.), would limit authorizations to four years, though lawmakers could request a longer authorization for a specific program.
The legislation would also add hurdles before Congress can authorize a new program, including identifying the objective, any areas of potential duplication with existing programs and what potential alternatives were studied.
Enzi said the legislation would force Congress “to reexamine what we are actually funding in order to improve or eliminate government programs not delivering results.”
Under the legislation, any program that is allowed to expire would then go through a two-year drawdown.
Paul also introduced a separate proposal that would require the Obama administration find $10 billion in savings by eliminating and consolidating government programs within 150 days of the legislation being signed into law.
The administration would use reports from the Government Accountability Office on overlap and duplication to help guide their decisions on which programs to cut or merge.
It would also require the president recommend to Congress any changes that are needed to help consolidate or get rid of federal programs and require that the Congressional Budget Office report to lawmakers when a piece of legislation would create a program or office that is duplicative.
Rand Paul will host the ‘Revolution Continues Rally’ at the University of Iowa on Sunday, January 31, 2016. Rand Paul will be joined by special guest Ron Paul, and together they will focus on energizing the youthful base by discussing the importance of protecting the entire Bill of Rights and being boldly for conservative ideals that limit the powers of the Washington Machine.
Rand’s unique message of liberty can unite Constitutional conservatives, young voters, and independent voters, which will lead to a successful showing on caucus night.
Aside from his father, Rand will also be joined by over a dozen family members who will host their own events throughout the state and speak at caucuses on the evening of Monday, February 1st.
Details of this joint appearance can be found below. Additional events and availabilities will be announced soon.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016
WHAT: The Revolution Continues Rally
TIME: 7:00 pm CT
WHO: Rand Paul & Ron Paul
WHERE: University of Iowa- Iowa Memorial Union, Main Lounge
125 North Madison Street
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Friday, January 22, 2016
There they were in the midst of what looked like a spooky old-growth forest (Princess Park, actually, mere blocks from upscale suburban homes here), surrounded by clumps of moss, overgrown ferns and gigantic Douglas firs, looking for clues of yet another allegedly paranormal crime, the kind they used to solve almost every week. They addressed each other, as they always had, by only their last names.
“Mulder,” said Gillian Anderson, reprising her role as the F.B.I. agent Dana Scully, the look on her face instantly recognizable; part reprimand, part in-spite-of-herself affection.
“Scully,” David Duchovny responded in character, somehow managing to mock her just by saying her name.
They were shooting the much-anticipated six-episode revival of “The X-Files,” which begins Sunday, Jan. 24 on Fox, back in Vancouver, where the original series’s first five seasons were filmed. It’s been 14 years since an original episode aired, almost 23 years since the show began. In 1993, the two actors had no idea they were about to start a phenomenon that would propel them to worldwide recognition, demonstrate the power of genre television and mark them, whether they liked it or not, as Mulder and Scully for the rest of their working lives.
“For a very long time, I just could not think about it anymore; I was so ready to be done,” Ms. Anderson said, remembering the grind of doing about 25 episodes a year for nine seasons. Virtually unknown and only 24 years old when she landed the part, she worried for years that the role would swallow her entire career. When the series ended, she moved to England and made a point of taking parts in higher-brow productions such as the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’s “Bleak House.”
Only in recent years has the idea of returning to the Scully character seemed enjoyable. “If I was to look at the bell curve of my ego, I would say that it would have been harder at other times to do this series again, had I not proved to myself — and to other people — in the interim that I could do other things,” Ms. Anderson said.
When it first aired, “The X-Files” was not a sure thing. The initial audience (an average of 11 million viewers per episode in the first season) was small but intensely loyal, invested in not only the supernatural stories but also the dynamics of the Scully-Mulder relationship. By its fourth season in 1996-97, the series had exploded into a mainstream hit, 11th in Nielsen ratings and averaging 20 million viewers per episode. (It also spawned two films, “The X-Files” in 1998 and “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” in 2008, the last time they played Mulder and Scully.)
“Without ‘The X-Files,’ you don’t have shows like ‘Lost’ or ‘Heroes’ or even ‘Bones,’” Mr. Duchovny said. “There were all these tributaries that came out of the show, this whole Comic Con-ization of the world.”
He added: “I think it became more than any of us saw, certainly more than I saw. I was not interested in aliens, and that’s what I assumed the show was about. So I was completely wrong.”
Chris Carter, the creator of “The X-Files” and still its driving force, didn’t care much about aliens, either. But he was fascinated by how many other people seemed to be. In the early ’90s, supermarket tabloids like Weekly World News and airport paperbacks like Whitley Strieber’s “Communion” were filled with tales of U.F.O.s and alien abductions. The idea of a show about conspiracies, real and imagined, appealed to him. It took several tries before he could persuade Fox, where Mr. Carter had a development deal, to give the concept a shot.
The underlying premise, Mr. Carter believes, is even more relevant now. “There’s something in the wind right now,” he said in a telephone conversation. “People seem concerned, more than ever, about whether the government is really looking out for their best interest. It’s always been there. But lately it’s ratcheted up.”
The new “X-Files” episodes will touch on matters of high-tech surveillance, cabals, government conspiracies and, yes, U.F.O.s. But, as in the original series, there will also be stand-alone “Monster of the Week” episodes. The one they were shooting this particular day, written and directed by Darin Morgan, is called “Mulder and Scully Meet the Weremonster.”
Mr. Duchovny, 55, and Ms. Anderson, 47, seem more comfortable playing Mulder and Scully than they ever have. Their on-screen chemistry, always obvious, has only increased, and their off-camera relationship has changed. They weren’t really friends when the show began. Now, they tease each other between takes, sometimes breaking into giggles and falling into each other’s arms. When Ms. Anderson botches a line, she lets loose with a barrage of hilariously obscene self-criticism, using words that Dana Scully would never, ever say.
“I think both of us are able to savor things more, to appreciate how lucky we are to have had this experience,” Ms. Anderson said. It had not always been that way. Mr. Duchovny was the one who instigated moving the show’s production from Vancouver to Los Angeles in 1998, partly so he could be better positioned for feature film roles. There were arguments. There were lawsuits. There were days when it wasn’t fun.
“In the beginning, it was a big struggle for him,” Ms. Anderson said, “and there was often a sense that he’d rather be somewhere else.”
By the time the series ended in 2002, Mr. Duchovny, who was only in half the episodes of the final season, was clearly ready to move on. “I wanted to have other things in my life and the show was all-consuming,” he said. “But it wasn’t because I was tired of the character. I always thought I’d play Mulder again.”
And it was Mr. Duchovny who initiated the show’s return, reaching out to Ms. Anderson and Mr. Carter early last year, and once they were on board, approaching executives at Fox.
None of this would have happened, Mr. Carter said, if not for the continued urging of online fans, many of whom are too young to have seen the show in its original run. At Comic-Con 2013, a 20th anniversary “X-Files” panel drew one of the largest, most enthusiastic crowds of the sprawling event.
Former presidential candidate Ron Paul will return to Iowa a day before the caucuses to campaign for his son.
Ron and Rand Paul will host a “The Revolution Continues Rally” at the University of Iowa on Jan. 31. The younger Paul is a Kentucky senator who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
It will be the first time Ron Paul has appeared on the campaign trail to stump for his son this cycle.
The event will be held at 7 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union, 125 N. Madison St., in Iowa City.
Absent from the small screen nearly 14 years, The X-Files is back on Sunday on Fox right after the NFC Championship Game. With tens of millions of eyeballs likely on the football game, the event series starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson is, as my video review above says, planting a flag in America 2016 even as it wonderfully resurrects much of what made it such pivotal TV back during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Strikingly serious and silly at the same time, the six episodes are actually a lot like the original X-Files — you either go with it or you don’t. And if you want to believe (to paraphrase the poster Duchovy’s Fox Mulder had up in the duo’s FBI HQ basement office in the original series), this X-Files is well worth opening up.
Besides Mulder and Anderson’s Dana Scully, a lot of the old gang are back from Mitch Pileggi as FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner; William B. Davis as the seemingly all-knowing and all-powerful Smoking Man; conspiracy theorists the Lone Gunmen; and of course creator Chris Carter, who wrote and directed the first episode.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
In 2010, I ran for office because I was tired of being misled by Republicans who promised conservative government and instead gave us bank bailouts and more debt. I was tired of watching Wall Street profit at the expense of Main Street with each and every new round of Washington’s tax-and-spend and tax-and-print policies.
The Tea Party Movement has grown exponentially over the past five years, but Congress hasn’t changed a bit. We now spend roughly $7 million per minute and face a debt of over $18 trillion. These reckless spending habits have led our debt to match our GDP. As a result, a smaller percentage of the United States is working now than at any time since the Jimmy Carter administration. More Americans are projected to have been laid off last year than at any time since the Great Recession.
Never quite learning from their past mistakes, the Republican-controlled Congress recently passed yet another fiscally irresponsible omnibus bill, which will add $700 billion in new debt.
It is sad and discouraging to know that our representatives would agree to any new spending. Some $3 trillion comes in to the U.S. Treasury in taxes. Couldn’t we survive on just $3 trillion?
We’ve spent taxpayers’ money on everything from an unusable $43 million gas station in Afghanistan to a $15 million grant allowing a golf club maker to do research in space. Don’t you think there might be some room for cuts within our budget?
What’s even worse than your representatives agreeing to $700 billion in new debt is the fact that they didn’t even know what they were spending the money on. Speaker Ryan’s omnibus bill was 2,242 pages long, and it wasn’t plopped onto our desks until a couple of days before the vote was scheduled — giving us just days to sift through thousands of pages of complicated legislation.
In hindsight, one thing is for certain: This spending bill was a Democrat’s pipe dream, and Republican lawmakers let it become law.
Conservatives allowed the Obama administration to extend cutthroat environmental regulations over the private property of our farmers, ranchers and businessmen. Many farmers and ranchers will now be faced with costly permits and evaluation fees for the man-made ditches that exist on their own property. Lawsuits in at least 31 states have sprung up as a result of this controversial EPA rule, and yet your Republican-controlled Congress let it slide right past them.
And that’s not all. This 2,242-page spending bill fully funds Obamacare and sanctuary cities, while also granting $1.6 billion for the president’s refugee program — bringing an additional 15,000 refugees from high-risk areas into this country, all while failing to improve the vetting process.
I believe that a lot of these negative bills pass through Washington because our congressional representatives don’t have enough time to see what is inside of them. That’s why I introduced the Read the Bills Act — so that our representatives have the opportunity to govern as effectively as possible. If passed, this legislation would require Congress to delay votes by one day for every 20 pages of legislation.
But even forcing our representatives to read the bills isn’t enough to halt all of Washington’s recklessness. Unfortunately, many of our so-called conservative congressmen aren’t voting to increase spending because they don’t have time to closely study the legislation — they are voting that way because they are not really all that conservative.
The Iowa caucus is less than two weeks away and Rand Paul’s team is organizing under the radar.
While Donald Trump and Ted Cruz duke it out over ethanol subsidies and the definition of birthright citizenship, Paul’s Iowa campaign has appointed 1,000 precinct captains and claims to have made an astounding 500,000 get-out-the-vote calls.
Rare spoke with Senator Paul about his campaign efforts and why he believes his showing in the Iowa Caucus might shock those who underestimate him.
“These are feats that have been unheralded by the media,” said Paul, noting his supporters’ on-the-ground organizing and his well-attended campaign events.
Paul explained that Iowa has approximately 1,600 precincts and that his campaign has appointed captains in over two-thirds of them. “What outsiders don’t realize is that some people show up and aren’t sure who they’re supporting. They can be convinced by the captains who stand up and speak in their precincts,” he said.
Paul also noted that captains help recruit others and bring them to the caucus. “I think we’re in a good position to turn our people out,” he said.
According to Paul, several of his rival candidates lack an operation with the same level of sophistication. “Trump is just starting to get a ground game but it’s yet to be seen,” said Paul, noting that Trump holds large rallies, but that it’s not clear he’s teaching people to caucus.
Paul also said that he’s seen very little organizing from Rubio’s campaign in Iowa.
Another factor that could give Paul an edge is his reliance on a secret weapon other candidates have overlooked: The youth vote. “We have 22 college campuses organized,” said Paul, “And we’re having a rally at Iowa State University just preceding the caucus.” Paul said the rally will serve as a launching point for students who will then travel to the caucus.
Paul told Rare that this is a unique opportunity because most Iowa caucuses, including 2008 and 2012 when his father Ron Paul was a candidate, took place while students were off-campus for Christmas break.
“If your goal is to capture the youth vote, it’s easier when you have people organizing each dorm and hallway. It’s also easier to get people out when they’re all in one location,” Paul said.
Paul has also been drawing sizable crowds. “In Iowa and New Hampshire our Students for Rand rallies average anywhere from 300 to almost a thousand,” said Paul’s Creative Director Marianne Copenhaver. “Our town hall events have almost all had standing room only crowds, averaging around 300 people each,” she added.
“By live streaming almost every rally on Facebook and Twitter” Copenhaver said, “we’ve been able to reach about 40 thousand people online during each broadcast.” “The crowds, in person and online, are enthusiastic, she said. “Most everyone seems genuinely appreciative to hear a candidate actually discuss policy specifics and answer tough questions.”
“It’s a stark contrast for the people who have seen other candidates in person,” she added.
In addition to the groundwork Paul’s campaign has laid, they’re getting an indirect assist from Concerned American Voters, a Super PAC backing him that has made 1.1 million voter contacts, and raised $3 million last fundraising quarter.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Apple hasn’t sold the iPod Classic since September 2014, when it trimmed the iPod lineup down to the iPod Touch, iPod Nano, and iPod Shuffle. The message from Apple was clear: the iPod, that famously “perfect thing” that was designed to hold your music library in your pocket, no longer made sense in a world where when tens of millions of songs were now merely an app away.
But for some music fans, the high cost of mobile data, and a desire to have their whole library on their person at all times, has them returning to the old standby.
A quick search on eBay finds several vendors selling refurbished models of old iPods that include brand new batteries and storage drives. The drives in these refurbished models, which tend to go for around $300 to $400, are typically high-capacity solid state drives (SSDs) with as much as 256GB of space—enough for more than 50,000 songs encoded at typical bitrates.
The tax-cut deal inked by President Obama and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month has put a major dent in the federal budget, helping send the deficit soaring by 24 percent, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.
The $544 billion deficit projected for 2016 marks the first year since 2009 that the red ink has grown, and it powers the deficit back up over the half-trillion mark, where it had been for most of Mr. Obama’s tenure.
And the rest of the decade will only get worse, the CBO said, with Social Security beginning to draw down its trust funds in 2018, and overall deficits surging back above the $1 trillion mark by 2022.
Struck by the grim news, budget watchdogs said politicians needed to heed the wake-up call.
“Turning a blind eye to the problem, as so many congressional and presidential candidates have done, merely means they are passing the buck to the next generation as concerns about political damage outweigh policy advantages,” said Steve Bell, senior director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
CBO projections contained some good news, with the economy showing signs of solid growth in 2016 and 2017, finally overcoming some of the “slack” that built up during the 2008 Wall Street collapse and the Great Recession. Analysts said more people will be enticed back into the labor force, but inflation and interest rates will also rise as the economy ticks along.
But spending and taxes remain the biggest problem for the budget, with the twin deals at the end of last year to break the sequester budget caps that had held spending in check, and to extend a series of special interest tax breaks.
Combined, they meant the government needed more money than ever — but had less flowing in.
Overall, spending will spike by 6 percent in fiscal year 2016, to reach $3.9 trillion. That amounts to 21.2 percent of the country’s output as measured by gross domestic product.
By contrast the government will collect just $3.4 trillion in taxes, or 18.3 percent of GDP.
That Trump would appeal to authoritarians should come as no surprise. His campaign is focused solely on results and seemingly has little interest in legal or moral barriers to the process of getting from point A to point B. So when a piece from Politico over the weekend, written by a Matthew MacWilliams, a political science student studying authoritarianism, with the clickbait headline “The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You Are A Trump Supporter,” started showing up in my social media newsfeeds from friends on both the left and the right, I didn’t bat an eye.
For those who didn’t see the piece, MacWilliams polled 1,800 registered voters and determined that among those Republicans who were supporting Trump over other candidates, there were only two variables they seem have in common. It wasn’t race, wealth, education, or age or typical demographics: It was how strongly authoritarian MacWilliams calculated them to be and how much they feared terrorism.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Monday, January 18, 2016
In his 1967 address to Stanford University, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of two Americas. He described them as, “two starkly different American experiences that exist side by side.”
In one America, people experienced “the opportunity of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in all its dimensions.” In the other America, people experienced a “daily ugliness” that dashes hope and leaves only “the fatigue of despair.”
The uneasy coexistence of the two Americas is brought to bear by the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
Although I was born into the America that experiences and believes in opportunity, my trips to Ferguson, Detroit, Atlanta, and Chicago have revealed that there is an undercurrent of unease.
Congressman John Lewis, who heroically marched in Selma, still sees two Americas. He writes: “One group of people in this country can expect the institutions of government to bend in their favor, no matter that they are supposedly regulated by impartial law.”
The other group: “[C]hildren, fathers, mothers, uncles, grandfathers . . . are swept up like rubbish by the hard unforgiving hand of the law. They are offered no lenience, even for petty offenses, in a system that seems hell-bent on warehousing them by the millions . . . while others escape the consequences of pervasive malfeasance scot-free.”
We need to notice and be aware of the injustices embedded in our criminal system. However, we shouldn’t be misled to believe that excessive force is the norm, not the exception. I believe that most police are conscientious and want only to provide safety for us.
The blame should be directed to the laws and the politicians who order police into untenable positions, that insist on “taking down” someone for selling a couple of untaxed cigarettes.
Our pursuit of justice should not obscure the fact that on many occasions, good people do step forward to find justice.
This past fall, Helen Johnson was desperate to feed her two daughters and their small children who had gone two days without food. When she got to the store, she discovered that the $1.25 she had was not enough to buy eggs. She was a mere fifty cents short, so she stuffed the eggs in her pocket.
Helen didn’t even make it out of the store before the police were notified.
When Police Officer William Stacy arrived, something special happened. Instead of handcuffing Helen and taking her to jail, he used discretion and compassion to mete out justice. He warned Helen not to steal again and he bought her the eggs himself. Helen saw Officer Stacy again on Thanksgiving Day. He delivered a truckload of groceries to Helen’s home. Her grandchildren were overjoyed and proclaimed that they had never seen so much food in all their lives.
It isn’t hard to find injustice around us, but we must not let injustice smear the good deeds that do occur everyday.
Jacksonville has settled a lawsuit by a Highway Patrol trooper who said two police officers used a database available for police investigations to find information about her for their personal use.
That agreement should prevent a court fight between city attorneys and the U.S. Justice Department over the city’s argument that the law Trooper Donna Jane Watts sued under was unconstitutional.
Watts sued police around Florida after being harassed with phone calls and prank pizza deliveries following her 2011 arrest of a Miami police officer she logged driving 120 mph on his way to an off-duty job.
Information including her home address is supposed to be confidential under state laws written to protect police.
But information Watts received from the state through a public records request showed that after the arrest, about 90 officers in dozens of agencies looked up information about her in a database of driver’s license records.
Watts argued those police — whom she said included Brijin Pemberton and Pamela Abboud of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office — violated the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which limits access to private data.
While Watts settled some cases, Jacksonville decided to fight, arguing she didn’t have a legal reason to sue.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court earlier ruled the law Watts cited is constitutional, city attorneys said the law was written to prevent companies buying and selling drivers’ personal information, so the law regulated commerce, which the Constitution allows Congress to do.
What police agencies do with the same information isn’t commerce, the city argued, so using that law to restrict police activity would require power that Congress doesn’t have.
A federal judge rejected a similar argument when the Orange County Sheriff’s Office used it, but the city argued that judge had misunderstood the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The Justice Department disagreed, sending a notice at the end of December that its attorneys would argue the point in Jacksonville, if needed.
Why are so many students convinced that they should receive better grades for the papers they’ve spent so much time writing? It’s not a belief about the quality of those papers; it’s a belief about the hours and hours spent working on them.
This fundamental misunderstanding about the value of labor is at the center of the Marxist critique of capitalism.
For thousands of years, humans were sure that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun revolved around it. With the advent of systematic inquiry, scientists had to develop more and more complex explanations for why their observations of the universe did not fit with that hypothesis. When Copernicus and others offered an alternative explanation that was able to explain the observed facts, and did so more clearly and concisely, the heliocentric model triumphed. The Copernican revolution changed science forever.
There is a similar story in economics. For hundreds of years, many economists believed that the value of a good depended on the cost of producing it. In particular, many subscribed to the labor theory of value, which argued that a good’s value derived from the amount of work that went into making it.
Much like the geocentric view of the universe, the labor theory of value had some superficial plausibility, as it does often seem that goods that involve more labor have more value. However, much like the story in astronomy, the theory got increasingly complicated as it tried to explain away some obvious objections. Starting in the 1870s, economics had its own version of the Copernican revolution as the subjective theory of value became the preferred explanation for the value of goods and services.
Today, the labor theory of value has only a minuscule number of adherents among professional economists, but it remains all too common in other academic disciplines when they discuss economic issues, as well as among the general public. (The labor theory of grades is, as I noted above, particularly popular among college students.)
One reason the theory is still the implicit explanation of value in many other disciplines is because they rely on the theory’s most famous adherent for their understanding of economics: Karl Marx. Marx was hardly the only economist to hold this view, nor is the labor theory of value unique to socialists. Adam Smith believed in a somewhat weaker version of the theory as well.
Without the labor theory of value, it is not clear how much of Marx’s critique of capitalism remains valid.
For Marx, the theory was at the center of his view of the problems of capitalism. The argument that capitalism exploited workers depended crucially on the view that labor was the source of all value and that the profits of capitalists were therefore “taken” from workers who deserved it. Marx’s concept of alienation focused on the centrality of labor to making us human and the ways in which capitalism destroyed our ability to take joy in our work and control the conditions under which we created value. Without the labor theory of value, it is not clear how much of Marx’s critique of capitalism remains valid.
Part of the problem for Marx and others who accepted the theory was that there were so many seemingly obvious objections that they had to construct complex explanations to account for them. What about the value of land or other natural resources? What about great works of art that were produced with a small amount of labor but fetched extremely high prices? What about differences in individuals’ skill levels, which meant that there would be different amounts of time required to produce the same good?
The classical economists, including Marx, offered explanations for all of these apparent exceptions, but, like the increasingly complex explanations of the geocentricists, they began to feel ad hoc and left people searching for a better answer.
In economics, that answer came when, much like Copernicus, several economists realized that the old explanation was precisely backward. This point was clearest in the work of Carl Menger, whose Principles of Economics not only offered a new explanation for the nature of economic value but also founded the Austrian school of economics in the process.
What Menger and others argued was that value is subjective. That is, the value of a good is not determined by the physical inputs, including labor, that helped to create it. Instead, the value of a good emerges from human perceptions of its usefulness for the particular ends that people had at a particular point in time. Value is not something objective and transcendent. It is a function of the role that an object plays as a means toward the ends that are part of human purposes and plans.
Thus, according to the subjectivists, land had value not because of the labor that went into tilling it, but because people believed that it could contribute to the satisfaction of some direct want of their own (such as growing crops to eat) or that it would contribute indirectly to other ends by being used to grow crops to sell at the market. Works of art had value because many people found them to be beautiful no matter how much or how little labor went into producing them. With value being determined by human judgments of usefulness, the variations in the quality of labor posed no trouble for explaining value.
Indeed, economic value was a completely separate category from other forms of value, such as scientific value. That’s why people pay money to have someone give them a complete horoscope reading even though astrology has no scientific value whatsoever. What matters for understanding economic value is the perception of usefulness in pursuit of human purposes and plans, not some “objective” value of the good or service.
But the real Copernican revolution in economics was how the subjective theory of value related to the value of labor. Rather than seeing the value of outputs being determined by the value of the inputs like labor, the subjective theory of value showed that it’s the other way around: the value of inputs like labor were determined by the value of the outputs they helped to produce.
The high market value of well-prepared food is not the result of the value of the chef’s labor. Rather, the chef’s labor is valuable precisely because he is able to produce food that the public finds especially tasty, beautiful, or healthy.
On this view, labor gets rewarded according to its ability to produce things that others value.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Ali Reynolds begins the summer thinking her most difficult challenge will be surviving a six-week-long course at the Arizona Police Academy. Then an acquaintance from her old news broadcasting days in California shows up with an alcohol problem and an unlikely story about a missing fiancé. Ali reluctantly agrees to help.
The man posing as former anchorwoman Brenda Riley’s husband-to-be is revealed to be a cyber-sociopath. When he turns up dead, Brenda becomes the prime suspect, having vanished without a trace after breaking into his home days earlier. Attempting to clear her friend’s name, Ali is quickly drawn into a web of online intrigue that threatens to lead to a real-world fatal error.
The launch of the first operational flight of the SpaceX Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on board the SpaceX Falcon 9. As seen from the Melbourne, Florida area...
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) is proud to announce the endorsement of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) for the Republican presidential nomination. In a crowded field of candidates, most of whom show little genuine commitment to individual liberty, cutting spending or reducing the size of government, Senator Paul stands out as a consistent champion of the values of the Republican Liberty Caucus: limited government, free enterprise and personal liberty.
An RLC presidential endorsement requires a candidate to secure a two-thirds vote of the RLC state charters. Only a few presidential candidates have earned this honor in the 25 year history of the organization. While Rand Paul won the straw poll in New Hampshire at the RLC National Convention last October, the formal endorsement is the product of a more involved and controlled process engaging directly with RLC state charters and members.
“The RLC is a 100% grassroots, bottom up organization, and this endorsement indicates Senator Paul is the candidate of choice among our state charters and membership at large,” said RLC National Chairman Matt Nye. “Senator Paul has been a consistent favorite with our members since he announced his candidacy, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to formally endorse him.”
Senator Paul has been one of the strongest voices for liberty in the Senate, and has consistently opposed government abuse and the trampling of individual rights under the Obama administration. Paul has led on efforts for sentencing reform, to audit the Federal Reserve, to protect the Bill of Rights and to control spending. A President Paul would be the standard bearer for the GOP on issues like these on the national stage.
“The Republican Party is changing and we need dynamic new leaders like Paul to end the divisive rhetoric and dangerous policies being promoted by other candidates,” said RLC National Vice Chairman Dave Nalle.
Fox’s upcoming and eagerly awaited revival of The X-Files is updating its conspiracy theories — only this time, the sci-fi series might cause more controversy than when the show told tales of government-aided UFO cover-ups during its initial 1990s run.
In the first return episode screened for reporters (trailer below), paranormal investigators Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) team up with a charming web-series host named Tad O’Malley (played by the usually comedic Joel McHale, here in a dramatic role). The character, loosely based on conservative online personalities Alex Jones and Glenn Beck, bashes the “liberal media” in the episode; at one point, Mulder compares O’Malley to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly (“What Bill O’Reilly knows about the truth can fill an eyedropper,” O’Malley retorts).
Now we don’t want to reveal too much about the episode, or how the conspiracy relates to the show’s existing labyrinthine mythology. What we will report – and stop reading if you don’t want to know anything about the first hour – is that O’Malley eventually sways Mulder and Scully to adopt a new conspiracy that lays a framework for the six-episode revival. The theory involves global warming, war in the Middle East, NSA spying, chem-trails (here called “aerial contaminants”), police militarization, supposed FEMA prison camps, and the eventual military “takeover of America” by a UN-like group of “multinational elites.” The conspiracy theory plays a bit like Oliver Stone during his JFK fever pitch — only if his source material was Infowars instead of UFO lore.
“We live in a CitizenFour world now,” says creator Chris Carter, referring to the documentary on NSA leaker Edward Snowden. “We’ve given up certain rights and freedoms because we want the government to protect us after 9/11. We see the admitted spying by the government. These are not things we’re making up and it informs everything Mulder and Scully and doing are doing.”
Carter describes himself as a “mostly interested observer” in the conspiracy world, and notes he researched the new show by combing through conspiracy websites and attending a conspiracy convention.
“I’ve kept my finger to the wind and trying to figure out what’s relevant and possible credible,” Carter says. “People know the show deals with science and fact and also deals with far-flung theories about not only the supernatural but government conspiracies. It throws out as many questions as it does answers. And I have to say what it’s done for me and the writers it has given us a whole new open field which to run. It’s given the show an interesting new life and context that it might not have had in 2002.”
The U.N. takeover threat, however, is something Carter suggests is credible. “The idea of a New World Order is relevant,” Carter says. When we suggest the show is embracing “right-wing” theories, Carter counters, “It’s not necessarily. I don’t see Alex Jones as right-wing, I see him as libertarian … [and O’Malley is] a character who casts everything in doubt.”
Monday, January 11, 2016
Top progressive senators are running away from a bill authored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to audit both the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy operations and millions of foreclosures. Their aversion could doom any chance for public transparency surrounding the widespread abuse that banks deployed against homeowners in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Both Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and her fellow financial reform advocate, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, have come out against Paul’s proposal, which would for the first time provide a public accounting of the central bank’s monetary policy maneuvers and its transactions with foreign central banks.
“Sen. Brown has supported recent actions that have brought historic levels of transparency to the Federal Reserve,” spokeswoman Meghan Dubyak told The Huffington Post. “But he does not see how this legislation will benefit working Americans.”
Warren and Brown insist they’re on board with more transparency in the Fed’s regulatory operations, but they’re drawing the line at monetary policy.
“I oppose the current version of this bill because it promotes congressional meddling in the Fed’s monetary policy decisions, which risks politicizing those decisions and may have dangerous implications for financial stability and the health of the global economy,” Warren said in a statement provided to HuffPost.
Still, this idea of “political independence” is difficult to reconcile with basic principles of democratic accountability. It’s also a distortion of the concept underlying the 1913 law that created the Fed.
“That independence is of course independence from the executive branch,” University of Texas economist James Galbraith testified at a House hearing in 2009. “It is not and cannot be independence from the Congress itself. The Federal Reserve may be delegated certain functions by the Congress, but the Congress can always choose to hold it accountable … It’s a legal independence of a kind that other regulatory institutions have had over the course of our history. It’s not an independence which is specific to monetary policy per se.”
The Fed is the world’s most powerful economic institution, and its monetary policy operations are its strongest tools, setting interest rates that have tremendous influence over U.S. growth, inflation and the prices of key assets. The Fed’s arrangements with foreign central banks and governments even give it a significant role in foreign policy. Yet despite its vast political reach, the Fed is far less accountable to the democratic process than other policy-setting agencies in the American government.
While the Fed’s Board of Governors, based in Washington, D.C., is a public agency, the central bank’s 12 regional branches are private-sector entities. Two-thirds of the directors of each regional branch are selected by commercial banks in the region, and many of those directors help select the presidents of each branch. Many of these regional presidents, in turn, play a role in setting monetary policy alongside the Board of Governors.
There have always been political dimensions to the Fed’s activities. During the financial crisis, Ben Bernanke, then Federal Reserve chairman, and Tim Geithner, then president of the New York Fed, worked closely with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on various bailout activities, with Bernanke even helping sell Congress on a $700 billion bailout bill.
Regional Fed Presidents, meanwhile, have never been immune to political thinking. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher ran for Senate as a Democrat before joining the Clinton administration as a trade official. San Francisco Fed President John C. Williams has been a career Fed economist, but also served as senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota signed a petition organized by the libertarian Cato Institute opposing President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan a few months before he took office.
On Jan. 12, Congress is scheduled to vote on the “Audit the Fed” legislation (H.R. 24/S. 264), which, if passed, would bring to an end to the Federal Reserve’s unchecked—and even arguably unconstitutional—power in the financial markets and the economy.
We aren’t the first to be wary of the powers of central banks. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson viewed the powers of central banks as being contrary to the protections of the Constitution. As Jefferson wrote: “I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
In a similar vein, the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises also recognized that limiting government power in the realm of money was a matter of liberty, not merely economics. Mises explained that “the idea of sound money … was devised as an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments. Ideologically it belongs in the same class with political constitutions and bills of rights.”
How far we have come as a country that these words from Jefferson and Mises sound so foreign today. Perhaps we have all been blinded by the credit and equity bubbles that surround us. But what better wake-up call to rally support for legislation that would shine a bright light on the government institution that today has created these bubbles, subsidizes small subsets of the population (thus amplifying wealth inequality), and enables endless government debt?
The Fed was intended to be an apolitical body, a concession to placate the naysayers. But today, the Fed isn’t even shy about entering the political fray: witness Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s income inequality speech riddled with Democratic talking points during the 2014 elections.
The Fed is, indeed, a political, oligarchic force, and a key part of what looks and functions like a banking cartel. During the 2007-08 financial crisis, the Fed’s true nature was clear to anyone paying attention. As the Treasury began bailing out the investment banks from the consequences of their profligate risk-taking (and in some cases fraudulent schemes), the Fed moved in tandem, further purchasing the underwater assets of these institutions, as well as actually paying interest to the commercial banks (hemorrhaging from risky loans) for reserves they kept parked at the Fed.
To be sure, Fed officials came up with opaque jargon to describe such operations, but the stark reality is that the Fed was treating risky assets as good collateral, and in the fall of 2008 began literally paying banks to not make loans to their customers.
Even today, the recent policy announcement has doubled the rate of this massive implicit taxpayer subsidy to the banks—what they call “interest on reserves.” In the textbook rate-hike case, the Fed sells off assets (or slows the rate of purchases) in order to reduce the supply of reserves. Then, the equilibrium price of borrowing reserves (i.e., fed funds rate) rises. In contrast, now and for the foreseeable future, as indicated by the Fed’s guidance statements, the Fed is raising rates by increasing interest on reserves.
As of Dec. 17, the Fed is paying 50 basis points on both required and excess reserves. So the Fed, itself, is increasing how much it will pay to “borrow” reserves from the commercial banks. Given the estimated $2.6 trillion in excess reserves, at 50 basis points that means the Fed will be paying commercial banks some $13 billion in annual income. Right now, the Fed is paying the same on required and excess reserves, though that in principle could differ.
As the Fed keeps raising interest rates through this same mechanism, the amount paid to commercial banks will only mushroom. You can forgive analysts for not discussing this; it was not even mentioned in the Fed’s Dec. 16 announcement.
As the Fed pays commercial bankers more in interest payments, there is dollar-for-dollar less for the Treasury; in other words, for a given level of federal expenditures, the deficit is that much higher. Therefore, the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing commercial banks to not make loans to their customers—or rather bribing them to charge their customers higher interest rates on loans. And, the U.S. taxpayer is going deeper into debt to provide this bank subsidy.
Friday, January 8, 2016
Thursday, January 7, 2016
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Monday, January 4, 2016
Senator Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says he is “appalled” by the recent revelation that the National Security Administration eavesdropped on Israeli leaders, American-Jewish groups, and members of Congress.
“I’m appalled by it,” Paul said on Fox News’ Fox and Friends. “This is exactly why we need more NSA reform.”
Paul said that since the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the NSA debate has been focused on more surveillance.
“Since the San Bernardino shooting everybody’s saying ‘oh, we need more surveillance of Americans’” Paul said. “In reality what we need is more targeted surveillance.”
“I’m not against surveillance” Paul added. “But I am against indiscriminate surveillance.”
“It’s a real invasion of our privacy,” said Paul. “You can see how we stifle speech if you’re going to eavesdrop on congressmen, and that it might stifle what they say or who they communicate with. And this is a big, big problem.
Yes, it is that time again. The 2016 presidential election is already underway. We always hear the typical promises for prosperity and security by both Democrats and Republicans. However, do we really look at the policies and positions of these candidates? There seems to be this hype about Senator Bernie Sanders among people of my age. He promises a restoration of the middle class but only at the expense of going to war with the upper class. You cannot create wealth by having a bureaucracy take it from one class and give it to another. Senator Sanders is an enemy of economic freedom and capitalism. He suggests that the wealthy should be taxed at 90 percent. Just let that settle for a minute. He believes that if I make a million dollars I should only keep 10 percent of it. Some would argue that the 90 percent would go to a better cause than what I would use it for. Senator Sanders wants the 90 percent of my income to be distributed to the lower and middle class in the form of more welfare and increased dependency on the government. Why doesn’t Senator Sanders just go ahead and tax my income at 100 percent? It seems like to me it would be easier for him to do so.
The United States of America is $19,000,000,000,000 in debt. We are on the verge of a debt crisis similar to Greece. We can either learn from the Greeks or become the Greeks. Greece is socialism at its very best. You see, Senator Sanders wants us to become Greece. A nation that spends record amounts on pensions, taxes at unbelievably high levels, and still manages to tank its economy. I think Senator Bernie Sanders’ slogan for the economy should be “Crash and Bern” because that’s exactly what will happen if he’s elected.
The United States will only be restored to economic prosperity if it follows the guidance of the Constitution. I believe there is only one candidate who will adhere to true economic liberty. That candidate is Senator Rand Paul.
It is no secret that the Federal Reserve’s unchecked printing press causes recessions and increases income inequality. Allowing the Fed to inflate our money supply will artificially keep interests rates low, but at what cost? Their acts can no longer go unchecked, which is why I am proud to carry forth my father’s original ‘Audit the Fed’ legislation, which will receive a vote in the Senate in early January.
In 2009, Senator Cruz drafted a legal brief praising President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a stimulus bill that increased deficit spending by over $800 billion. In the brief, Senator Cruz argued that the bill’s handouts will “directly impact the economy” and “further the greater purpose of economic recovery for America,”
Earlier this month, Cruz then blamed the Great Recession not on the Federal Reserve’s artificial lowering of interest rates, but on its failure to continue pushing them down in a timely manner. Cruz said that the Federal Reserve’s decision to “[shift] to a tighter monetary policy…set the stage for the financial crisis.”
On the campaign trail, Senator Cruz has further demonstrated his unwillingness to rein in artificial credit expansion by repeatedly calling for the Fed to follow “rules-based” monetary policy. This means that he still wants to control the money supply in order to meet the requirements of a mandate or equation.
I couldn’t disagree more strongly. No true fiscal conservative should ever support the artificial lowering of interest rates—not in 2008, not now, not ever. Doing so is the equivalent of signing a death warrant for our country’s low income earners.
Former Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh refers to the Fed’s easy-money policies as the reverse Robin Hood effect. “If you have access to credit—if you’ve got a big balance sheet—the Fed has made you richer,” he said in an interview. “This is a way to make the well-to-do even more well-to-do.”