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PPT

The Plunge Protection Team

 

“Well, what I wanted to talk about for a few minutes is the various efforts that are going on in public and behind the scenes by the Fed and other government officials to guard against a free-fall in the markets…”

– Former Clinton advisor George Stephanopolous on Good Morning America

 

Last week’s post served as an introduction to the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, better known to the public as the Plunge Protection Team.

It seemed good this week to spend a little more time on the same subject, as the existence and the activities of this organization are perhaps the most important, least understood, and most underreported factors driving financial markets today.

Financial markets such as the New York Stock Exchange are presented to the public as the very essence of free market capitalism. But in the opinion of this writer, the reality is something quite different.

Far from being a place where buyers and sellers meet to determine fair value for financial assets, today’s financial markets are a rigged game designed to mislead the public about the true nature of the financial condition of the West.

Some may wonder why a Christian blogger would delve into the subject of the Plunge Protection Team (PPT). It seems on the surface as if it’s a bit conspiratorial, a topic more appropriate for some tin foil hat blogger than for someone intent and spreading the light of truth. But to see the discussion of the PPT in this light is, at least in my view, a serious mistake.

That the PPT is a real entity with real power is a very easy matter to prove. The case that it has been and is being used by the powers that be to prop up favored markets and suppress those out of favor, though circumstantial in nature, is quite strong.

Exposing such chicanery is among the most important tasks a Christian financial writer can undertake. As University of Austin finance professor John Griffin recently noted, the Bible’s command to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them,” can be applied to outing the lies and fraudulent activities of powerful financial and governmental interests in the same way it can be applied to other evil deeds.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the PPT.

 

The Establishment of the Plunge Protection Team

Perhaps the most sensible place to begin our discussion of the PPT is with Executive Order 12631 of March 18, 1988. You may find it here in the Federal Register. But since it’s only a few hundred words long, I’ll reproduce it in full below.

Executive Order 12631–Working Group on Financial Markets

Source: The provisions of Executive Order 12631 of Mar. 18, 1988, appear at 53 FR 9421, 3 CFR, 1988 Comp., p. 559, unless otherwise noted.

By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and in order to establish a Working Group on Financial Markets, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Establishment. (a) There is hereby established a Working Group on Financial Markets (Working Group). The Working Group shall be composed of:

(1) the Secretary of the Treasury, or his designee;

(2) the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, or his designee;

(3) the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or his designee; and

(4) the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or her designee.

(b) The Secretary of the Treasury, or his designee, shall be the Chairman of the Working Group.

Sec. 2. Purposes and Functions. (a) Recognizing the goals of enhancing the integrity, efficiency, orderliness, and competitiveness of our Nation’s financial markets and maintaining investor confidence, the Working Group shall identify and consider:

(1) the major issues raised by the numerous studies on the events in the financial markets surrounding October 19, 1987, and any of those recommendations that have the potential to achieve the goals noted above; and

(2) the actions, including governmental actions under existing laws and regulations (such as policy coordination and contingency planning), that are appropriate to carry out these recommendations.

(b) The Working Group shall consult, as appropriate, with representatives of the various exchanges, clearinghouses, self-regulatory bodies, and with major market participants to determine private sector solutions wherever possible.

(c) The Working Group shall report to the President initially within 60 days (and periodically thereafter) on its progress and, if appropriate, its views on any recommended legislative changes.

Sec. 3. Administration. (a) The heads of Executive departments, agencies, and independent instrumentalities shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide the Working Group such information as it may require for the purpose of carrying out this Order.
(b) Members of the Working Group shall serve without additional compensation for their work on the Working Group.
(c) To the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of funds therefore, the Department of the Treasury shall provide the Working Group with such administrative and support services as may be necessary for the performance of its functions.

So what can we glean from this short but not so sweet E.O.?

For one, it’s a high-powered group. As Section one tells us, it is comprised of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.

In fact, one would have a hard time coming up with a higher powered group of financial overseers than the officers referred to above.

But it’s not just the group’s power that’s impressive. It’s also highly secretive.

Signing the GRA

FDR signs the Gold Reserve Act of 1934.

Consider the US Treasury Department, home to a powerful and secretive group known as the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF). The ESF was, as it were, born in monetary sin and shapen in financial iniquity, the seed capital of which was extracted out of the hides of the American public by the iniquitous Gold Reserve Act of 1934. As Investopedia notes,

The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 is an act that took away the title of all gold and gold certificates that were held by the Federal Reserve Bank. The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 made the trade and possession of gold a criminal offense for the citizens of the United States. Sole title of this gold was given to the U.S. Treasury. It was not until 1975 that Americans could again own or trade gold.

Article 1 Section 10 of the US Constitution reads, “No state shall…make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts,” but the after less than 150 years, the federal government decided it was proper to criminalize the possession of real money. In this writer’s opinion, that’s about all you need to know to properly assess the authoritarian character of the members of Congress who drafted the legislation and of Franklin D. Roosevelt who signed it in to law.

EO_6102_Gold Confiscation

FDR’s Executive Order 6102 forced Americans to turn in their gold, valued at the time at $20.67 per ounce.  In 1934, the Gold Reserve Act revalued gold at $35 dollars and ounce, causing Americans to lose 69% on the gold taken from them.

Worth noting is that Gold Reserve Act completed the transfer of wealth from the American people to the federal government that had begun the previous year with Executive Order 6102, which required Americans to turn in, “all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates now owned by them to a Federal Reserve Bank.” Roosevelt’s Executive Order required that this be done by May 1, 1933, with criminal penalties of a, “$10,000 fine or 10 years imprisonment, or both.”

“The main rationale behind the order,” Wikipedia notes, “was actually to remove the constraint on the Federal Reserve which prevented it from increasing the money supply during the depression.” In other words, the Fed couldn’t rob people effectively enough when they had gold in their possession. First they had to take the gold, then the powers that be could go about the nefarious business of plundering the people.

Once the government had the gold, it didn’t take long for them to finish their act of robbery. Another feature of the Gold Reserve Act (GRA) was that it revalued gold. Prior to the passing of the GRA, gold was valued at $20.67 per ounce. The GRA set the price of gold at $35 per ounce, meaning that upon its passing, Americans immediately suffered a loss of about 69% on the gold forcibly taken from them by the FDR’s 1933 Executive Order. 

Question:  So if the American people lost 69% on their gold, did that wealth just disappear?  Answer:  Of course not! The stolen wealth was merely transferred to the Treasury where it was used as seed capital for the ESF.

As Wikipedia rightly notes, “The resulting profit that the government realized funded the Exchange Stabilization Fund established by the Gold Reserve Act of 1934.”

The ESF has now been in business for 84 years, making it one of the longest running criminal enterprises in Washington D.C.And given the many outrageous crimes committed daily in the Swamp, that’s saying quite a lot.

The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, while more in the public eye than the ESF, still manages to operate to a large extent in secrecy. Several attempts have been made to audit the Fed over the years, but to date, the Fed has successfully resisted all attempts to open its books to public scrutiny.

Then Fed Chairman Janet Yellen’s letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is instructive on this point. In her letter dated November 16, 2015, Yellen objected to auditing the Fed, saying that subjecting the Fed to an audit would “politicize monetary policy decision…undermine the independence of the Federal Reserve,” and was “based on the false premise – that the Federal Reserve is not subject to an audit.”

While the Fed may be audited in some sense as Yellen argues, it’s not the type of thoroughgoing audit Ron Paul and Rand Paul have argued for over the years.

Yellen, as Fed Chairmen before her, and doubtless as those who will come after her such as current Fed Chairman Jay Powell, was jealous to guard the Fed’s “independence.” Translated into plain English, she wants to continue the ability of the Fed to serve the interests of the financial elite, principally the big banks that own the Fed, at the expense of the American people.

Evidence of the PPT’s Handiwork

For our purposes, I will not go in to a great deal of technical detail in an attempt to prove the case that the PPT manipulates markets. Rather, I shall rely on quotes from those who would know. Considering that these quotes come from highly placed and well-qualified individuals, their comments deserve serious consideration.

The term Plunge Protection Team can be traced to a 1997 article in the Washington Post of the same name. According to the piece, “The government has a real role to play to make a 1987-style sudden market break less likely.” So just how does the PPT do this? Well, the article doesn’t say specifically. It talks about ensuring communication between government agencies remains open. But does mere communication help stabilize markets in the midst of a crisis? Imagine the following conversation:

    Treasury Secretary: Hey, the S&P’s off 5% already and it’s only 11am!! What do you      think?

    Fed Chairman: Yep, darn if it’s not.

Talk, as they say, is cheap. And very obviously stabilizing markets requires more than just talk. Implied, though not explicitly stated, is that the Fed and probably the ESF will intervene in the financial markets to produce the sort of “almost miraculous” recovery that occurred the day after 1987’s Black Monday. After all, no one can see what the Fed or the ESF are doing with their vast financial resources. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” is not just a famous line from the Wizard of Oz, it’s the M.O. of these two groups. And they both have better curtains than did the wizard.

In short, of course the Fed and the ESF are rigging the markets. The Washington Post all but said so back in 1997. “But,” as the cheesy infomercials like to put it, “wait, there’s more!”

Consider the statement at the top of this post by George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. I’ve seen the date of his appearance as alternatively September 17, 2000 and September 17, 2001. If it was the later, this was the first day that the NYSE reopened after 9/11. In either case, this Clinton insider very clearly hints at governmental intervention in the financial markets to “guard against a free-fall.”

The quote from Stephanopoulos continues, “the Fed in 1989 created what is called the Plunge Protection Team, which is the Federal Reserve, big major banks, representatives of the New York Stock Exchange and other exchanges and they have been meeting informally so far, and they have a kind of an informal agreement among major banks to come in and start to buy stock if there appears to be a problem.”

In 2015, Dr. Pippa Malmgren who actually served on the PPT and whose father was a high level presidential advisor and scholar made this telling remark,” [T]here’s no price discovery anymore by the market…governments impose prices on the market.”

The New York Post’s John Crudele has written critically of the PPT for years. Typical of his work is this story from 2014, ” ‘Plunge protection’ behind market’s sudden recovery.”

In 2007, Crudele expressed his frustration with the lack of transparency by the US Treasury on the workings of the PPT, writing,

After a year and a half of stalling, the US Treasury finally complied with The Post’s requests for information about The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets – delivering 177 pages of crap.

In essence, the Treasury’s Freedom of Information officials said that the Working Group – affectionately nicknamed the Plunge Protection Team – doesn’t keep records of its meetings.

How interesting and convenient!

PhD. economist Paul Craig Roberts, former Undersecretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan and former Wall Street Journal Associate Editor, is another highly placed individual whose written extensively on the activities of the PPT. In his article “Do Financial Markets Still Exist?” he wrote, “For many decades the Federal Reserve has rigged the bond market…and for about a century, central banks have set [rigged] interest rates…It appears that…the Fed is rigging the stock market by purchasing S&P equity index futures in order to arrest stock market declines driven by fundamentals.”

In December 2008, widely watched market commentator Nouriel Roubini was quoted as saying, “The Fed (or Treasury) could even go as far as directly intervening in the stock market via direct purchase of equities as a way to boost falling equity prices.”

Nouriel Roubini was formerly an advisor to New York Fed governor Tim Geithner, a major figure in the 2008 financial crisis.

Market analyst Charles Biderman commented in 2009 that while the market cap of US stocks soared by more than $6 trillion, “We cannot identify the source of the new money that pushed stock prices up so far so fast.”

In the same article, Biderman quotes former Fed governor Robert Heller’s 1989 Wall Street Journal opinion piece where Heller wrote,

Instead of flooding the entire economy with liquidity, and thereby increasing the danger of inflation, the Fed could support the stock market directly by buying market averages in the futures market, thereby stabilizing the market as a whole.

Do you think a former Fed governor just might know a thing or two about what it takes to rig the stock market?

In a 2017 appearance on CNBC’s Smart Money, “Legendary vulture investor Asher Edelman, the 1980’s model for Gordon Gekko,” argued that, in his view, the PPT was the only thing propping up the market. He also expressed his concern about being in the market, saying that “I don’t know when the plug is going to be pulled.”

Finally, I come to my main man Dr. Ron Paul. Paul has commented many times over the years on the activities of the PPT. In a May 4, 2018 appearance on CNBC’s Futures Now, the good doctor had this to say,

I think the plunge protection team is alive and well. I think they’re involved and they do provide some protections. The world is engaged in that type of maneuvering. But eventually though, the market rules.

More examples could be provided, but I hope the above citations, all taken from prominent and respected people, will help the reader to see the PPT less as a myth or conspiracy theory and more as a reality, one which influences the public perception of the stock market and, hence, the entire US economy, and one that accomplishes this end by very dishonest, deceptive and immoral means.

Closing Thoughts

Investopedia, a mainstream, and in many ways helpful, provider of investment information, dismisses any notion of the PPT’s manipulating markets as conspiracy theory. As its article on the PPT puts it, “The name PPT was coined by the Washington Post in 1997. Although the team had a viable purpose when initially created, conspiracy theorists suspected that the team was created to shore up, or even manipulate, the markets.”

Now where would anybody get such an absurd idea? As the quotes above demonstrate, it’s not whackadoo weirdo conspiracy theorists who are the ones talking about the PPT’s market manipulations, it’s some of the most mainstream, most connected, most market savvy voices out there who believe this.

If the PPT is, in fact, manipulating financial markets, and it is the conviction of this author that this is what is happening, the PPT and its constituent organizations such as the US Treasury Department and the Fed are guilty of violating any number of Biblical and Constitutional principles of government.

The origins of the Fed and of the ESF should immediately alert anyone jealous of his liberty that these groups are up to no good. The Fed’s origin can be traced to a secretive meeting on Jekyll Island, Georgia in November 1910. The ESF was created by open fraud on the part of Congress and the Roosevelt administration with the cooperation of the previously mentioned Federal Reserve.

The Bible demands open meetings, but the Fed and the ESF love the darkness and will not come to the light, lest their evil deeds be exposed.

Such agencies, based as they are on lies and theft, never can bring forth good fruit. As Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount, “A bad tree bears bad fruit.” And if the Fed and the ESF work evil on their own, what shall we expect when they combine forces as parts of the PPT?

Is it much of a stretch to suppose that such agencies, having worked financial evil on their own, would produce even more evil when they combine forces in the PPT?

Should Americans expect transparency and honesty from such bad actors? Or would it be more reasonable to expect that they, like the rulers of the Gentiles in Jesus’ day, would “lord it over” the people.

In the opinion of this writer, the answer very obviously is the latter. And one of the ways these organizations “lord it over” the American people is to continually give them a false picture of the real economy by rigging markets to support the official narrative that everything in the economy is awesome, that the stock and bond markets are safe and stable and the best places for your money, and that you should never consider being so foolish as to put your money elsewhere such as gold and silver.

This official rosy scenario was encapsulated in Janet Yellen’s comment in June 2017 when she said that another 2008 like financial crisis is not likely “in our lifetime.”

To this I would reply, that really depends on whose lifetime you’re talking about.

(To be continued…)

PPT

The Plunge Protection Team.

“There’s no price discovery anymore in the market…governments impose prices on the market.”

– Dr. Pippa Malmgren, former member of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets

When I began writing this series on the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the 10th anniversary of which we marked last month, it seemed best to provide the reader with some context.

After all, we’re marking the 10th anniversary of the event, which for many people seems like ancient history already. So there’s that. But more importantly, to really understand the GFC and the Great American Bailout of 2008, a little history certainly helps provides some perspective.

The crash of 2008 did not happen in a vacuum. Rather, it was the inevitable result of prior decisions, some of which could be traced back to the 1987 Black Monday crash that wiped out over 22 percent of the value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in a single day.

Other contributing factors could be traced further back to the 1920’s and 1930’s, the years immediately preceding and following the stock market crash of 1929. Just as the 1920’s roared in large part due to excessive money printing by the Federal Reserve, the party ended in 1929 when the Fed, attempting to reduce the money supply that had created a financial bubble, instead crashed the stock market.

The 1930’s saw unprecedented governmental regulation of the financial markets and of the economy in general, the effect of which was to prolong the economic misery far longer than was necessary. During that decade, economist John Maynard Keynes supplied the needed intellectual justification for all this governmental regulatory interference in his 1936 book titled The General Theory.

In Keynes twisted world, it was savers who were causing all the problems in the industrialized economies of the West. What was needed was more debt. And if people wouldn’t go into debt on their own volition, then their governments needed to step up and do the spending for them.

Finally, one could trace the 2008 crisis back to the progressive era of the early 20th century, specifically, the creation of the Federal Reserve in the United States.

For the purpose of this series, it is not my intention to cover the creation of the Fed, the Great Depression or Keynesian economics in great detail. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note them here. Lord willing, I hope to address these topics in future series.

In last week’s installment, we left off discussing the October 1987 stock market crash, an event that has come to be known as Black Monday.

As part of our discussion, we noted that on the Tuesday following the big Monday crash, things were looking pretty shaky for major US markets. But just when things looked their worst, an event occurred which some observers described as almost miraculous, a huge and unexpected rally in the futures market that jump started a rally in the major market indices.

Some attributed the rally, “to a mysterious burst of bullish sentiment.” Such an explanation seems strained to this author. Why, in the midst of the worst market crash in history would there be a “bust of bullish sentiment.” One of the basic rules of stock trading is to avoid attempting “to catch a falling knife.” If the market’s tanking, let it tank and buy once it appears a bottom has formed.

More realistic is the view of some traders who chalked up the rally to manipulation of the futures market by a few major firms.

Although the article from which I drew this history, a Pulitzer Prize winning piece from the Wall Street Journal, did not specifically mention governmental or central bank intervention, it is the opinion of this author that ultimately it was the federal government in conjunction with the Fed that “saved” the day.

One of the reasons for my opinion is Executive Order 12631 which was signed by then President Ronald Reagan in March 1988, just a few short months after the big crash of October 1987. It established what is officially known as the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, a group better known by its more informal name, the Plunge Protection Team.

It is to this Executive Order that we now turn our attention.

Continue Reading »

Financial Crisis_2008_2

The New York Times headline from October 20, 1987, proclaiming the disastrous trading on the New York Stock Exchange the preceding day, an event which has come to be known as Black Monday.

I was talking to my stockbroker today and I said, “Waiter!”

– Jay Leno, October 1987

Jay Leno’s opening joke on the Tonight Show got a huge laugh from the audience, and with good reason.

That may sound a bit odd, but you need to consider the context. You see, his wisecrack came within days of the Monday, October 19, 1987 stock market crash, an event that has come be known as Black Monday.

On that fateful day, the Dow had dropped over 22%, a record one day percentage plunge exceeding even the big one-day percentage plunges that marked the 1929 stock market crash, and people were in the mood for some good comic relief.

To give a sense of what people were thinking at the time, TheStreet ran an article last year marking the 30th anniversary of Black Monday. In his piece, author Michael Brown noted, “Many thought the crash was the start of the next Great Depression and the headlines of the day reflect it.”

As it turned out, no Great Depression ensued. In fact, things got back to normal pretty quickly. Today, Black Monday is considered something of a one-off oddity. An interesting piece of investing trivia to be sure, but not something terribly relevant for today.

Continue Reading »

“I just lost $30,000,” replied the shaken caller after a long pause.

It was the fall of 2008, and I had just started work for a large financial services firm as a 401(k) telephone representative. Little did I know when I took the job a few months earlier that the US, and much of the Western, world, was on the cusp of what many would come to view as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

The Dow and S&P both were selling off hard, day after day, week after week. People were scared.

Many of the panicked calls that I took were people who wanted to know what the balance of their 401(k) account. In some ways, this struck me as a bit odd. After all, it was 2008 and the internet had established itself as a staple of American life over a decade earlier. “Why don’t these people just go online?,” I wondered to myself.

In retrospect, perhaps one reason people called was that, rather than just watch as the computer screen displayed years of hard won retirement savings evaporate as the morning dew, they just wanted to talk to someone. That’s certainly understandable.

Ten years on, much of the American public thinks of the 2008 crisis, if they think about it at all, as a ancient history. Just last week, the Dow hit a new record high and seems to be headed higher still.

President Trump tweeted out back in June, “In many ways this is the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job!”

American consumers seem to agree. According to the August results from The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, consumer confidence is closing in on a new record high. The record of 144.7 set in May 2000 is just a chip shot away from the August 2018 reading of 133.4. Considering that the Consumer Confidence Index dates back to 1967 and that this is a widely watch data series, a new record high in this index would represent a significant achievement.

If we look at the employment picture, everything appears to be headed in the right direction as well. The Washington Post reported in May, one suspects a bit grudgingly, that The U.S. now has a record 6.6 million job openings.

According to the article by Heather Long, “The United States now has a job opening for every unemployed person in the country, a sign of just how far the nation has turned around from the recession that cost so many Americans their jobs nearly a decade ago.”

Signs of economic success are so abundant that, as CNBC reports, “[Former] President Barak Obama has entered credit-taking mode on the economy.”

Politicians aren’t the only ones talking victory laps either. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and New York Fed President Timothy Geithner – the principal architects of the 2008 bailout of the financial system – gathered earlier this month at a forum in Washington D.C. to justify their actions of ten years ago.

According to CNBC’s report, “We stepped in before the banks had collapsed and we did some things to fix the financial system which are very hard to explain because they are objectionable things,” Paulson said. “In the United States of America there’s a fundamental sense of fairness that the American people have. …You don’t want to reward the arsonist.”

“However,” the article continues, “they [Bernanke, Paulson, and Geithner] said doing nothing would have caused the economy to capsize. They acknowledged that some of the terms were distasteful, but they were necessary given the options at hand.”

In essence, the big three argued that they had to do evil that good might come, a line of thinking condemned in the Scriptures but one that is all too commonly used by vested political and financial interests in midst of financial crises to convince a wary the public to go along with their latest scheme to enrich themselves at the people’s expense.

Indeed the moderator of this forum was Andrew Ross Sorkin, who, as the CNBC article notes, wrote the 2010 book Too Big To Fail, The inside story of how Wall Street and Washington fought to save the financial system – and themselves. described as a chronicle of the 2008 crisis from the inside. I have not read this book, but the subtitle does, I think, let the cat out of the bag on the true motives of the bailout.

Unlike the unctuous self-justifications of JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon, who recently argued that JP Morgan’s actions during the financial crisis were done “to support our country and the financial system,” Sorkin’s subtitle at least admits the too big to fail meme was all about bankers and politicians saving themselves, not the country.

This is not to fault politicians and bankers for having a sense of self-preservation. The Scriptures tell us that no man ever yet hated his own flesh, and this certainly includes those who run the political and financial systems.

No. The fault of bankers and politicians is not in their having a sense of self-preservation, it’s that they lie and steal to get what they want.

In capitalism, in a free market economy, in a nation governed by the rule of law, there is no such thing as too big to fail. In capitalism, banks have a God given right to make money…and a God given right to lose it.

But in our decadent, late stage of empire society, dominated as it is by crony capitalists and their supporting cast of politicians, the Wall Street masters of the universe believe themselves entitled to never ending profits, while losses, well, those are for the little people to bear.

It is the opinion of this author that the intertwined political and financial systems of this country, rather than reflecting anything remotely like a Christian ethic, have become the embodiment of what Jesus talked about when he took his disciples to school for their arguing about who was the greatest.

According to Jesus, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship [lord it over] them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors. ‘ ”

It would be impossible to find a better description of the words of Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner and Dimon than these. First, they conspired to rip off the American taxpayer by forcing machinations such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) through Congress as well as the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing (QE) program, about which the American people had no say at all, since it was decided upon by the Federal Reserve, an unelected body, paid for by private banking interests, that does not answer to the public.

TARP and QE were tools of a corrupt and inept financial and political elite, which they used to keep themselves ensconced in power at the expense of ordinary Americans. To put it another way, they lorded their power over the American people.

And, as if that weren’t bad enough, they then have the gall to turn around and act as if their actions were for the good of the country rather than for themselves. That is to say, they claim that, in the end, they’re really our “benefactors.”

And if you think the QE and TARP from 2008 is the end of the bailout road, think again. Wall Street Insiders reports that during the forum mentioned above, Tim Geithner, “called the effort to combat financial instability a ‘forever war.’ ” So we have more bailouts to look forward to. Strangely, this rhetoric is similar to what the advocates of the Global War on Terror say about their efforts, which today have proven largely ineffective.

Question, if your war on terror, financial instability or whatever has no end in sight, doesn’t that suggest you don’t know what you’re doing? Can anyone imagine George S. Patton saying such a thing? Just asking.

Enough of this nonsense!

It is the contention of this author that, contrary to all the self-congratulatory talk about how well the economy is doing, there are abundant signs that all is not well in the US economy. In fact, one could even argue that we’re in the midst of a slow-motion crash, but one that is concealed from public view by money printing, market manipulation and propaganda, what one market observer has called Management of Perspective Economics (MOPE).

Further, it is this author’s contention that, not only have the machinations of the political and financial elite not helped to bring stability to the financial system, they actually are the cause the current instability and all but guarantee a future crisis far bigger than the one in 2008.

Lord willing, it is my intention over the next few weeks to bring the light of Scripture to the 2008 financial crisis. It is my hope to take a look at what was done then, where we are now, and where we’re headed as a result of the decisions that have been made.


SMC_Facebook_2

Writing in his History of Protestantism, J.A. Wylie introduces his readers to a 12th century reformer by the name of Arnold of Brescia. According to Wylie,

Arnold took his stand in the streets of his native Brescia, and began to thunder forth his scheme of reform. His townsmen gathered around him. For spiritual Christianity, the men of that age had little value, but Arnold had touched a chord in their hearts…the suddenness and boldness of the assault seem to have stunned the ecclesiastical authorities; and it was not until the Bishop of Brescia found his entire flock, deserting the cathedral, and assembling daily in the marketplace, crowding round the eloquent preacher, and listening to his fierce sermons, that he bestirred himself to silence the courageous monk…Arnold was seized, sent to Rome under a strong escort, and burned alive (Except taken from Ryan Denton’s Christ in the Wild Facebook page).

For Protestants unfamiliar with Rome’s long history of torturing and murdering anyone who stands against the ambitions of its prelates, this quote probably comes as something a shock. But for Rome, its treatment of Arnold of Brecia was business as usual.

Now the reader may be asking himself why I’ve elected to begin this installment on the activities of the Tech Left with an historical account straight out of the middle ages. What has this account to do with our current day Silicon Valley censors?

Hopefully the connection between Rome’s actions against Arnold of Brescia and the activities of Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple aren’t too hard to see. For both the medieval Roman Church-State and the current day tech masters of the universe have this in common: They both seek to enforce the existing political, economic and social order by snuffing out the voices of anyone who dares challenge received opinion.

In truth, there’s little difference between the medieval Church of Rome and our present day techno tyrants. Yes, what Rome did was worse in that they physically arrested Arnold and brutally murdered him. At least for now, the Tech Left merely deletes your YouTube channel and bans you from Twitter.

But while no one currently is being burned alive, at least in the West, for writing a blog post challenging the Establishment opinion, Arnold of Brescia’s brutal execution serves as a stark reminder of why the preservation of free speech is so important, of why the framers of our Constitution prohibited Congress from infringing upon this right in the First Amendment, and of what could happen in the future if Americans, and in particular Christians, look the other way and remain silent while the Deep State, through its Big Tech proxies, attacks the free speech rights of conservatives, libertarians, and even progressives, who challenge the worldview put forth by the corporate media.

In last week’s installment, I discussed what Christians should not do in response to the Big Tech crack down on free speech. We should not:

  1. Fear: God is in charge, even of the Deep State.
  2. Forget that the problems we face ultimately are a spiritual battle.
  3. Fall for the lie that the Tech Left’s attack on free speech is merely a matter of private companies doing what they want with their own property. The Deep State, the permanent government represented especially by America’s intelligence agencies, is the one running the show.
  4. Not attempt to solve Big Tech censorship by calling for government regulation of the internet. To do this is to call for even bigger government to solve a problem created by big government in the first place.

Today in what I intend to be the final installment of this series, I would like to discuss what Christians should do about the Deep State’s use of Big Tech to regain control of the narrative – when I speak of controlling the narrative, I mean by this the ability to provide the context that gives meaning to current events;  as John Robbins has noted, events do not explain themselves, but themselves must be explained; by its ability to provide the context, the interpretive framework, the narrative through which the public views political, social and economic issues, the mainstream media has proven to be a powerful tool in the hands of elite interests which they use to further their own agenda by controlling what people think. 

For probably the first time in my life, the mainstream media, and by extension the elite interests who run it, lost narrative control during the run up to the 2016 Presidential election.  The result was President Trump.  By seeking to shut down down independent journalists and pundits, especially those with large audiences who write and speak on the big social media platforms, the elite are attempting to regain control of the narrative, and thus their ability to control the public’s worldview.

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SMC_Facebook_2Twitter Permanently Bans Alex Jones After New Violations ran the headline in the Wall Street Journal. A quick scan through the article informs the reader that it was due to a video Jones posted of his confrontation with a CNN reporter. The ban on Jones extended to Periscope, Twitter’s wholly owned video streaming service.

What the account does not tell you is that the CNN reporter Jones confronted, Oliver Darcy, has spent months essentially playing the role of tattletale, urging social media companies to remove Jones from their platform by alerting them about statements made by Jones that, at least in Darcy’s judgment, constitute a violation of the various platforms’ terms of service agreements.

On Septermber 8, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had pulled Infowars apps from its App Store for violations of the company’s app-developer guidelines. Apple noted that the guidelines precluded apps from delivering content that is “offensive, insensitive, upsetting…or in exceptionally poor taste.” The company noted content could be banned for “mean-spirited references or commentary” about religion, race, sexual orientation and gender.

BuzzFeed notes that Apple declined comment on its decision to pull the Infowars apps, pointing to its App Store Review Guidelines.

It’s hard to keep track of just how many sites Jones has been permanently banned from. To this writer’s knowledge, the list includes: iTunes, the Apple App Store, Spotify, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube, Facebook and MailChimp.

This past week, the New York Times ran an article which amounted to a victory lap, the headline gleefully announcing Alex Jones Said Bans Would Strengthen Him. He Was Wrong. This is what liberalism has come to, America’s “newspaper of record” now celebrates the shutting down of debate and free speech.

If anything exposes the rank hypocrisy and intellectual bankruptcy of the mainstream media and the liberal establishment whose interests it represents, this is it.

Now it was not my intention today to write about the ongoing travails of Alex Jones. It would seem that enough has been said on that subject already. But then again, it’s hard to overstate the remarkable evil represented by the campaign to shut him down.

As independent investigative journalist Lee Stranahan noted in a segment last week, the mainstream media (MSM) has spent months setting up Jones for a deplatforming, which now appears to be complete.

The treatment Jones has received should alarm any fair minded person, especially Christians. It matters not whether one likes Jones work, hates it, or is entirely indifferent to it.

When private companies such as Facebook join together with government sponsored organizations such as the Atlantic Council to strangle free speech, this represents a fascist – I use the term fascist in its technical sense here, which is the merger of state and corporate powers; the Deep State embedded in the US federal government is using Facebook and other social media outlets as front organizations to do what they cannot do openly, usurp the first amendment – threat to all.

And no one more so than those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who are commanded by Jesus himself to go and to make disciples, to baptize and to teach. For this to happen, Christians must be able to speak. And if we Christians remain silent while the MSM, the Tech Left and the Deep State silence Alex Jones, is there any reason to think our ability to evangelize and preach will be spared from some future crackdown?

With these things in mind, just how should Christians react? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But, as YouTuber and Christian journalist Greg Hunter likes to point out, God consistently tells believers in his Word to “fear not.”

As Christians, we are not to fear the power of the Deep State. Our task is to pray that God would give us understanding about what is happening in the world around us and get to work applying his Word to the challenges of the day.

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We are facing an unprecedented, coordinated campaign… of deplatforming, shadow banning, filtering and other foul means of putting dissenting voices into a digital gulag. While the mailed globe belongs to the tech giants and the executives, the hand inside is the government’s.

– Jim Jatras

SMC_Facebook_2Early Saturday morning while frequenting a favorite website, I came across a headline that read “Tech Tyranny: The Cries Are Becoming Screams From the Rooftops.”

Curious, I clicked on the link which took me to an article on big tech censorship. At the bottom of the article was an embedded video of Tucker Carlson’s program from Friday night. Carlson, as it happened, had dedicated his entire 8/31 show to big tech censorship.

Since Carlson is one of the few mainstream journalists who rises to the level of interesting, my curiosity was piqued. But when I went to play the video, instead of Tucker Carlson’s show, the only thing that appeared on my screen were the words “This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service.”

“How’s that for irony,” I said aloud to no one in particular. “YouTube just made Carlson’s point for him.”

In fairness, when I went back and checked today, Carlson’s video was back up. So, at least for now, the Silicon Valley Ministry of Truth has deigned to allow us minions to view the program.

Now in response to the increasingly aggressive censorship of conservative, libertarian and other dissenting voices, some people have argued that as private companies, the tech giants – and here I’m referring to companies such as Google (Google owns YouTube), Facebook, Twitter and Apple, all of which have had a hand in attempting to silence conservatives – have a right to police their own platforms and boot whomever they want.

As a staunch defender of property rights, I agree. If YouTube wants to ban Alex Jones, as a private company they have every right to do so.

But what if it’s not quite as simple as that? As John Robbins noted, events do not explain themselves, but must themselves be explained. The rise of the internet has allowed those who dissent from the official narrative.  What do I mean by narrative?  By this term I mean the context in which various world events are explained.  The power to explain events is the power to place them within a larger context, that is, within a larger narrative.

Mika Brzenziski of MSNBC famously let the cat out of the bag when she openly complained about Donald Trump’s challenging the mainstream media’s ability to control explanations. She was concerned that Trump had undermined the media’s messaging ability and that he was telling “people exactly what to think.” She continued, “That is our job [telling people exactly what to think].”

What if all the attacks on those who dissent from the official narrative as put forth by the government and the government’s willing accomplices in the press are not just a case of private firms using private means to police their platforms? What if this represents an attempt by the Deep State and by its establishment supporters to regain control of the narrative from independent online journalists by silencing them?

What if Jim Jatras is right and that the Tech Left’s, “unprecedented, coordinated campaign…of deplatforming, shadow banning, filtering and other foul means of putting dissenting voices into digital gulags,” is being done at the behest of powerful, vested interests in the government and the tech companies are merely the Deep State’s means of carrying out its attempt to regain narrative control?

If this is correct, then the deplatforming, shadow banning etc. we’ve seen over the past couple years, and especially the past few months, isn’t just a case of private companies behaving badly, but represents the merger of state and corporate powers – the merger of state and corporate powers is the classic definition of fascism – to control what people think.

It is the studied opinion of this author that this is precisely what is going on. Or as the quote from Jim Jatras at the top of this post reads, “While the mailed glove belongs to the tech giants and the executives, the hand inside is the government’s.”

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