Wednesday, September 20, 2017
“The US Economy Is Dead in the Water”
by Bill Bonner
"We are spending a couple of days with friends out on a tiny and charming island in the Atlantic, Île d’Yeu. We took the ferry from the Fromentine harbor, near the city of Nantes, on Sunday. Since then, we’ve been enjoying the salt-soaked air.
The old castle on Île d’Yeu
The castle you see in the photo was built in the 14th century and attacked many times - by Spaniards, Arabs, and English pirates. But locals claim it was never taken by force. The engineers who built it were either geniuses, lucky, or both.
‘In World War II, it was used by the Germans,’ explained a friend. ‘The Nazis were convinced that the Allies would try to land near here on the mainland. So they put thousands of troops on the island with long-range artillery. It was probably the best assignment any German soldier ever had. It’s a tiny island. And nothing happened. There was no resistance here. There was nothing much to do. The D-Day landing happened in Normandy, hundreds of miles away. After spending the war here…fishing, drinking, taking in the sun on warm days…the German troops got on boats and went back to Germany. And the fortress kept its reputation as impregnable.’
Inherently unstable: Meanwhile, back in the US… Business revenues (sales) are becalmed, growing at less than 1% a year over the past 10 years. And that’s before you account for inflation! And business profits are going nowhere. They’re rising at a rate of about 2% a year, or roughly equal to the rate of inflation. Household incomes and hourly wages - though subject to a lot of fudging - are dead in the water, too. Officially, they are now back to where they were at the end of the last century.
But for some segments of the population - men with no college education - the situation is catastrophic; they’ve lost real income for the last 50 years. A dead man lies immobile for a long time. But a debt-fuelled economy cannot even sit down. It is inherently unstable. It must move forward, or collapse. Consumers spend money now they hope to earn later on. The feds, too, promise benefits they can afford only if the economy - and tax revenues with it - grows fast enough.
Over the next 10 years, the US government is on course to spend $10 trillion it doesn’t have. It has also committed to a further $80 trillion in entitlements for which it has no known source. Only growth can save it. But like a bicycle that has slipped its chain, you can pedal as hard as you like; you still won’t get anywhere. The only thing that may help the economy now is a major tax reform. But that is almost impossible…
Strutting and squawking: President Trump, elected by Republicans but now charting his own course, teams up with the Democrats on important issues. There is no way Democratic Deep State pols are going to vote to cut one of their major sources of funding.
‘What I admire about Mr Trump,’ we told our friends here on the island, ‘is that he understood - instinctively, perhaps - that he didn’t need to be tied to any party, policies, or programs. The details are too complex and unknowable. Are we fighting the Sunnis or the Shiites? Who can remember? And who knows what is on page 997 of the Obamacare act? And what difference does it make? The important decisions are made by the entrenched Deep State insiders. The president and the voters don’t have much effect on them.’
The military junta - Generals Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly - control foreign policy. And a sordid cabal of Democrats and Republicans, cronies and zombies, controls domestic spending. All squawk and strut shamelessly about monuments, transgender bathrooms, racism, immigration, and other symbolic issues. Fans in the cheap seats take sides. They are red. Or they are blue. They are for Trump. Or they are against him. It scarcely matters. The bicycle slows. Soon, it will fall over.”
"Freedom Is a Myth:
We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village"
by John W. Whitehead
"We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy. We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people's Villages, but we are all prisoners.” - Patrick McGoohan
"First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, "The Prisoner"- a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”- confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.
Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, "The Prisoner" (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village.
The Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers. The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six. “I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of "The Prisoner," which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.
In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six is told that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.” Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.
Number Six refuses to comply. In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”
Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough. Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.” Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.
The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy. As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”
The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable. The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower. Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.
Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence. Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Instagram, etc.).
We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.
This is the electronic concentration camp- the panopticon prison- the Village- in which we are now caged. It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way. Even now, the Trump Administration is working to make some of the National Security Agency’s vast spying powers permanent. In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing for Congress to permanently renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows government snoops to warrantlessly comb through and harvest vast quantities of our communications. And just like that, we’re back in the Village, our escape plans foiled, our future bleak.
Except this is no surprise ending, as I make clear in my book "Battlefield America: The War on the American People": for those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior, we never stopped being prisoners.
So how do we break out? For starters, wake up. Resist the urge to comply. Think for yourself. Be an individual. As McGoohan commented in 1968, “At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves. As long as people feel something, that's the great thing. It's when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that's tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”
We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World. You want to be free? Break out of the circle.”
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
by Wolf Richter
"OK, this had to happen. It’s not a surprise. It’s just a fact of life. We live in a world of scammers, and when there is a crisis, for them, there’s opportunity. There are scams and frauds to take advantage of any crisis, its victims, and people trying to do the right thing. The Equifax hack is no exception. And the scams have already started. “Don’t panic. But be vigilant,” suggests Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the Consumer Federation of America. “With this breach, criminals have everything they need to victimize you.”
I normally don’t post articles about consumer scams. But the Equifax hack has made 143 million Americans more vulnerable. So here are some of the scams you might encounter … and how to deal with them.
Equifax isn’t calling. Someone else is. “This is Equifax calling to verify your account information.” When you hear this on the phone, hang up, says Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, Attorney at the Federal Trade Commission. “Don’t tell them anything,” she says. “They’re not from Equifax. It’s a scam. Equifax will not call you out of the blue.” “Other calls might try to trick you into giving your personal information,” she says and offers these tips for recognizing and preventing phone scams and imposter scams:
•Don’t give personal or financial information unless “you’ve initiated the call and it’s to a phone number you know is correct.”
•Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers spoof numbers all the time.
•Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any key to speak to an operator. This will only trigger more robocalls.
•Too late? You already gave out your info to a scammer? Immediately change passwords, account numbers if you can, and security questions. And check your accounts for strange stuff.
Fake news articles linking to fake Equifax websites. “Immediately after the announcement of the data breach, articles began circulating that contained a link that lets you find out if your data was stolen,” according to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). But the links lead to pages that are a phishing scam trying to collect your personal information.
In my articles on the Equifax hack, I verified every link to make sure it went to where it was supposed to go, including the link to Equifax where you can find out if your data was stolen (used it myself). But the ITRC warns that “it takes no work at all for scammers to create their own link, request your information for ‘verification’ purposes, and then steal your data.”
So before clicking on the link, hover over it with the mouse to display the URL and make sure it leads to the company’s website you’re trying to visit. Once on that page, and before entering any data, check the URL in the address bar in your browser to make sure it actually belongs to the company you want to reach.
Emailed phishing attacks have arrived. The ITRC warns, “There are already scam emails in circulation that suggest you check your credit report by using their handy link.” This link will lead to a site where you’re asked to enter your most sensitive data, including Social Security number. Don’t go there. Delete the email.
And by the way, if you see an online ad to that effect, don’t click on it. Instead, to get your free credit report, go to the FTC website. It shows you where and how to get your free credit report. You have a right to one free copy per 12-month period; you can get more, but you have to pay.
Be vigilant, but don’t panic. The ITRC recommends: “Because genuine information was stolen, be extra diligent about monitoring your account statements, looking for unauthorized charges, tracking and reporting any suspicious activity, and keeping a close eye on your credit reports. If you do experience any strange activity on your accounts, report it immediately, no matter how minor it might seem at first.”
And for crying out loud, never provide any data when asked in an emailed warning or alert to do so for “verification purposes.” For example, if your bank is Citibank, and you get an emailed warning from “Citibank” asking you to click here and provide your account number, etc., for “verification purposes,” delete the email. Then go to the Citibank website, log into your account, and if there is an alert, you will see it. Or call the Citibank number you’ve been using for years and find out.
We’re going to get swamped with this crap. The Equifax hack and the justified worries and fears resulting from it are a great opportunity for scammers to make a buck at consumers’ expense. There is no reason to panic. But we do need to be vigilant — more than ever before.
Carson Block – the short-seller who peeled back the layers covering up Valeant’s murky business schemes and crushed its shares and made a ton of money, was one of the 143 million Americans whose data was stolen in the Equifax hack. And he sued Equifax. Read… "Lawsuits Against Equifax Pile Up. But Where Are the Handcuffs?”
“Stress: Are You Sick With Worry?”
by Jordan Lite
“You're probably familiar with the insidious effects of stress on your sleep quality and its link to anxiety and depression. Now growing body of evidence suggests that stress can take a physical toll, too, damaging everything from your heart to your immune system. It may even shorten your lifespan. "Chronic emotional stress can affect virtually every organ system in negative ways," says Dean Ornish, M.D., founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif. "But stress is not simply a function of what you do. It's also a function of how you react."
While scientists are just beginning to untangle the hows and whys of stress-related illness, they believe that certain hormones are involved. Three of those brain chemicals - cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine - that are released when we're stressed seem to have damaging effects on the body. "When you're under chronic stress, your body tenses up to prepare for battle in the fight or flight response," Ornish says, describing that hormone rush, "so the same mechanisms that are really protective can themselves become harmful and even lethal when they're chronically activated."
Cortisol seems to "tune down" the immune system and make it less able to fight infection, says Esther Sternberg, M.D., director of the integrative neural immune program at the National Institute of Mental Health. Various studies by Ohio State University (OSU) scientists have found that dementia caregivers have poorer immune function and suffer more sick days, especially respiratory illnesses, than other people. Even immunizations don't offer them as much protection as they do noncaregivers: Caregivers of Alzheimer's and dementia patients make fewer antibodies (disease-fighting proteins) when they're vaccinated against the flu, making them more susceptible to catching the virus, the OSU researchers and scientists at the University of Bristol in England found. In the case of cancer, epinephrine and norepinephrine can cause tumors to spread by increasing their ability to promote the growth of blood vessels that increase the cancer's supply of blood and nutrients, according to 2006 research on lab mice at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
And when we comment that a president's hair seems to have gone white overnight, it turns out that stress really may be aging him. OSU researchers have found that genetic material that's responsible for helping to repair cells is biologically "older" in caregivers than it is in other people. While there's no proof that this genetic aging shortens one's lifespan, that cell aging is associated with many cancers, heart disease and the body's disease-fighting abilities, Ornish says. (Separate research has, however, found that caregivers who are emotionally stressed out have higher rates of mortality than other people.) Stress can also have a physical effect on our health if it leads us to behave in unhealthy ways, such as over eating or drinking too much alcohol, a 2007 commentary in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" noted.
Stress doesn't affect us equally. "The greater the stress, the more prolonged, the more severe, the more likely you are to become ill," Sternberg says. And while some studies suggest that women report more stress and symptoms of it, they may also manage it better, suggesting that how we cope with stress can influence whether it makes us sick.
Research at Carnegie Mellon University has shown that people with strong social networks tend to be healthier. There may also be a gender difference: females of many species, including humans, are apt to "tend and befriend" in times of stress by taking care of children and other adults, according to UCLA psychologist Shelley Taylor, Ph.D. That trend was borne out in Hungary after the fall of the Soviet Union: Both men and women there were affected by unemployment at that time, but despite the economic changes, women's social networks in their towns and churches remained the same. Men, however, suffered more heart disease and death, possibly because they were more psychically affected by economic stresses, according to a 2004 study published in "Brain Research Bulletin."
In addition to having friends to lean on, listening to music, exercising and practicing yoga and meditation all have been shown to reduce stress. And there's reason to believe those strategies can make a difference to your health. Ongoing research by Ornish suggests that stress - management techniques such as exercise, yoga, meditation and support from others - along with a low-fat diet - are associated with lowered LDL or "bad" cholesterol, as well as a "turning off" of genes that promote cancer growth. Those activities also were associated with increased production of telomerase, a protein that repairs the genetic material that controls aging. "You can't get rid of stress, you can't get rid of negative events in your life, but you can do things to cushion yourself from them," Sternberg says. And that, Ornish says, is "a very empowering and optimistic message."
X22 Report, “The Entire Economic Recovery Is One Big Myth”
Related followup report:
X22 Report, “Behind The Scenes, The US, China And North Korea Are Talking”
IL Divo & Celine Dion, “I Believe In You”
"The 16th century Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the Clouds of Magellan, now understood to be satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy. About 160,000 light-years distant in the constellation Dorado, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here in a remarkably deep, colorful, image.
Click image for larger size.
Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is the most massive of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies and is the home of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A. The prominent patch below center is 30 Doradus, also known as the magnificent Tarantula Nebula, is a giant star-forming region about 1,000 light-years across."
"Home Is Where the Heart Is, Wherever You Are"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM
"A turtle carries its home on its back, as humans we carry our home in our heart. The word “home” has a wide variety of connotations. To some, home is merely a place where basic needs are addressed. To others, home is the foundation from which they draw their strength and tranquility. Still, others view home as a place inexorably linked to family. Yet all these definitions of home imply somewhere we can be ourselves and are totally accepted. There, we feel safe enough to let down our guard, peaceful enough to really relax, and loved enough to want to return day after day. However, these qualities need not be linked to a single space or any space at all. Home is where the heart is and can be the locale you live in, a community you once lived in, or the country where you plan to live someday. Or home can be a feeling you carry inside yourself, wherever you are.
The process of evolution can require you to undergo transformations that uproot you. Moving from place to place can seem to literally divide you from the foundations you have come to depend on. Since your home is so intimately tied to the memories that define you, you may feel that you are losing a vital part of yourself when you leave behind your previous house, city, state, or country. And as it may take some time before you fashion new memories, you may feel homeless even after settling into your new abode. To carry your home with you, you need only become your own foundation. Doing so is merely a matter of staying grounded and centered, and recognizing that the pleasures you enjoyed in one place will still touch your heart in another if you allow them.
Your home can be any space or state of being that fulfills you, provided you are at peace with yourself and your surroundings. A person can feel like home to you, as can seasons and activities. If you feel disconnected from what you once thought of as home, your detachment may be a signal that you are ready to move one. Simply put, you will know you have found your home when both your physical environment and energetic surroundings are in harmony with the individual you are within.”
These graphics are from the late Thomas Kinkade, AKA "The Painter of Light",
whose work is truly magnificent...
Google Images: - https://www.google.com/
"A goal or a dream that doesn't challenge the dreamer to become more than they've ever been, to go where they've never gone, and to feel things they've never felt, is actually like wishing for a giant life-snooze button. Wanting abundance without an exchange of services, or love without loving, is like wanting an aquarium without fish, a leash without a dog, or a frame without a picture. Tacky."
"To the hills,"
"Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!"
“Take My Arm”
by Chet Raymo
“I'm sure I have referenced here before the poems of Grace Schulman, she who in inhabits that sweet melancholy place between "the necessity and impossibility of belief." Between, too, the necessity and impossibility of love. Belief and love. They have so much in common, yet are as distinct as self and other.
How strange that two people can hitch their lives together, on a whim, say, or wild intuition, knowing little if nothing about the other's hiddenness, about things that even the other does not fully understand and couldn’t articulate even if he did. Blind, deaf, dumb, they leap into the future, hoping to fly, and, for a moment, soaring, like Icarus, sunward.
The necessity of wax. The impossibility of wax. We "fall" in love, they say. Schulman: "We tramp the road of possibility. Give me your arm."
"7 Ways to Support Others During Tough Times"
by Lexi Behrndt
"Life is fragile. Hard times are inevitable. At one time or another, we will all go through a difficult time, whether we deal with sickness, catastrophe, crisis, or relational breakdown. In those times, we need each other more than ever, but it's not just enough to be surrounded by people. We, as supporters, need to be educated in the best way to love our friends and family through tough times.
1. Silence speaks louder than words misspoken. Don't ignore them. Plain and simple. If you don't know what to say, don't avoid them. Say something. Ninety nine percent of what you could say is better than saying nothing at all. Instead, if you had a relationship with them, even if it was 10 years ago, a simple, "I'm so sorry," or "I'm thinking of you," or "I'm praying for you."
2. Don't make them ask you for help. Do they need help? Absolutely. Do they want to ask? Absolutely not. There is nothing more humbling than having to admit that you don't have your life under control, and for all the people pleasers out there, asking people for something as simple as meals or free babysitting is something we'd rather avoid. We'd rather tough it out than beg. Instead, offer your help, and offer specific ways that you would like to help.
3. Don't rush them through their pain. Saying things like "I know exactly how you feel" or telling me a story of your cousin's boyfriend's aunt's struggle and how she made it through. While we may say things with good intentions, it can also serve to minimize their issues and urge them to stifle their pain. Yes, what they are going through has probably been faced before. Yes, people do survive. Yes, things might get better. Yes, to all the things.
People need to know that the pain they feel is real and they need to move through it. They need to get a little messy and be a little more honest and feel a little more, because if they move through it too quickly or try to avoid their feelings, they might not heal just the right way. A doctor doesn't just give a sling with no cast to someone who has severely broken their arm. The doctor gives a cast. The doctor prescribes time for healing, because they know that if the healing is rushed, the bone may also not heal properly. In the same way, we need to give time for others to move through their pain rather than rush them. Instead, sit with them. Listen. Let them be honest when life is hard. Let them be angry. Let them be whatever they need to be, and resist the urge to fix them, heal them, or placate them. Just be with them.
4. Don't give unsolicited advice. Even if you have been in the situation before, support, but don't preach. This includes all cliche and trite phrases and platitudes. You may have heard them said before, but that doesn't mean they are helpful. Instead, listen, love, give. Give time, energy, resources... give yourself. Just don't give advice when they haven't asked.
5. Don't give them magic formulas. If they stand on their head, count to 30, twice and backwards, confess everything they have ever done, change their past mistakes, then this tough situation would no longer be happening to them. There is no magic formula. Life is hard and messy and it doesn't negate the goodness in this world, but it does assign blame and guilt to the situation, one of the last things that someone who is suffering needs is to be shamed. Instead, let them know you are thinking of them, praying for them, loving them, and cheering them on.
6. Don't make it about yourself. Essentially, don't complain about how your friend's tough time makes you feel. If you are close, you will be affected, but if they are closer to the problem than you, then they are not the person to whom you should vent. Instead, you should offer them support. Check on them. Love them. Let someone else support you. Instead, focus on supporting them. For more on this, do yourself a favor and read this article by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman for the LA Times.
7. Don't forget the person. With all of the above tips, don't just follow them like a black-and-white guide. The beauty in each of us is that we are unique individuals with different backgrounds, personalities, experiences, and circumstances. Instead, consider the recipient. Some people want hugs. Some people aren't touchy-feely. Some people want company. Some people prefer to sit alone. Some people want you to do things without asking, some people want you to run it past them first. Some people want someone to cry with and talk to, some people reserve that trust for a select few. Consider who they are before you act, and support them accordingly.
The bottom line? Love them selflessly and support them unconditionally, or as I remind myself... Say a little less. Love a little more. Life can be messy, but with love, we can help each other survive even the toughest times.”
"The Best Speech Yet From Any U.S. President"
by David Swanson
"In planning an upcoming conference aimed at challenging the institution of war, to be held at American University September 22-24, I can’t help but be drawn to the speech a U.S. president gave at American University a little more than 50 years ago. Whether or not you agree with me that this is the best speech ever given by a U.S. president, there should be little dispute that it is the speech most out of step with what anyone will say on Capitol Hill or in the White House today. Here’s a video of the best portion of the speech:
President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a time when, like now, Russia and the United States had enough nuclear weapons ready to fire at each other on a moment’s notice to destroy the earth for human life many times over. At that time, however, in 1963, there were only three nations, not the current nine, with nuclear weapons, and many fewer than now with nuclear energy. NATO was far removed from Russia’s borders. The United States had not just facilitated a coup in Ukraine. The United States wasn’t organizing military exercises in Poland or placing missiles in Poland and Romania. Nor was it manufacturing smaller nukes that it described as “more usable.” Nor was it threating to use them on North Korea. The work of managing U.S. nuclear weapons was then deemed prestigious in the U.S. military, not the dumping ground for drunks and misfits that it has become. Hostility between Russia and the United States was high in 1963, but the problem was widely known about in the United States, in contrast to the current vast ignorance. Some voices of sanity and restraint were permitted in the U.S. media and even in the White House. Kennedy was using peace activist Norman Cousins as a messenger to Nikita Khrushchev, whom he never described, as Hillary Clinton has described Vladimir Putin, as “Hitler.” Even the U.S. and Soviet militaries were communicating with each other. Not anymore.
Kennedy framed his speech as a remedy for ignorance, specifically the ignorant view that war is inevitable. This is the opposite of what President Barack Obama said in Hiroshima last year and earlier in Prague and Oslo, and what Lindsey Graham says about war on North Korea.
Kennedy called peace “the most important topic on earth.” He renounced the idea of a “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war,” precisely what both big political parties now and most speeches on war by most past U.S. presidents ever have favored. Kennedy went so far as to profess to care about 100% rather than 4% of humanity: “… not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women– not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”
Kennedy explained war and militarism and deterrence as nonsensical: “Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.”
Kennedy went after the money. Military spending is now over half of federal discretionary spending, and Trump wants to push it up toward 60%. “Today,” said Kennedy in 1963, “the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles– which can only destroy and never create– is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.”
In 2017 even beauty queens have shifted to advocating war rather than “world peace.” But in 1963 Kennedy spoke of peace as the serious business of government: “I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war–and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task. Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament– and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude– as individuals and as a Nation– for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward– by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.”
Can you imagine any approved speaker on corporate media or Capitol Hill suggesting that in U.S. relations toward Russia a major part of the problem might be U.S. attitudes?
Peace, Kennedy explained in a manner unheard of today, is perfectly possible: “First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable– that mankind is doomed– that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade–therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable– and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal. Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace– based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions– on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace– no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process–a way of solving problems.”
Kennedy debunked some of the usual straw men: “With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor– it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors. So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.”
Kennedy then laments what he considers, or claims to consider, baseless Soviet paranoia regarding U.S. imperialism, Soviet criticism not unlike his own more private criticism of the CIA. But he follows this by flipping it around on the U.S. public: “Yet it is sad to read these Soviet statements– to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it is also a warning– a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats. No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements– in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture and in acts of courage. Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland– a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.”
Imagine today trying to get Americans to see a designated enemy’s point of view and ever being invited back on CNN or MSNBC afterward. Imagine hinting at who actually did the vast majority of winning World War II or why Russia might have good reason to fear aggression from its west!
Kennedy returned to the nonsensical nature of the cold war, then and now: “Today, should total war ever break out again– no matter how– our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war, which brings burdens and dangers to so many nations, including this Nation’s closest allies– our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty, and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons. In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours– and even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are in their own interest.”
Kennedy then urges, outrageously by the standards of some, that the United States tolerate other nations pursuing their own visions: “So, let us not be blind to our differences– but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
Kennedy reframes the cold war, rather than the Russians, as the enemy: “Let us reexamine our attitude toward the cold war, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had the history of the last 18 years been different. We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists’ interest to agree on a genuine peace. Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy– or of a collective death- wish for the world.”
By Kennedy’s definition, the U.S. government is pursuing a death-wish for the world, just as by Martin Luther King’s definition four years later, the U.S. government is now “spiritually dead.” Which is not to say that nothing came of Kennedy’s speech and the work that followed it in the five months before he was murdered by U.S. militarists. Kennedy proposed in the speech the creation of a hotline between the two governments, which was created. He proposed a ban on nuclear weapons testing and announced the unilateral U.S. cessation of nuclear testing in the atmosphere. This led to a treaty banning nuclear testing except underground. And that led, as Kennedy intended, to greater cooperation and larger disarmament treaties.
This speech also led by degrees difficult to measure to greater U.S. resistance to launching new wars. May it serve to inspire a movement to bring the abolition of war to reality.”