JPMorgan manipulating silver prices?

It looks like we may finally discover what has been keeping silver prices so low for so long. Precious metals move in the opposite direction of the dollar: since the dollar has fallen so much, there should have been dramatic increases in the prices of gold and silver.  Silver especially should have jumped up because unlike gold, it is consumed in industrial use.

The government is launching civil and criminal investigations into JPMorgan’s activities with silver shorting. The last two paragraphs are just outstanding…

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Noam Chomsky: Anarchist

Noam Chomsky is an enigma.

The New York Times has called him “America’s greatest intellectual.”  That’s ironic, considering he has called the New York Times part of “the elite media, the agenda-setting ones,” whose real goal is to divert the public away from real issues and serve the interests of the power systems that own them.  Besides, to Chomsky, “liberal intellectuals” are  “the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice… they are the most dangerous in supporting power.”

Noam Chomsky then represents some different kind of intellectual, a conscientious kind who calls things like he sees them, regardless of what his colleagues might think.  For fifty years he has relentlessly gone after American imperialism and dogmatic foreign policy, while attacking the media as being a giant propaganda machine in books like his Manufacturing Consent. As a result, the world-renowned linguistics professor from MIT and foreign policy expert rarely gets “ink” from mainstream media; “Chomskyans” tend to be found online at sites with names like “guerillaunderground.org”  and “countercurrents.org.”

One of the most fascinating aspects of Chomsky’s political views is his belief in anarchism, which Chomsky says is probably not well-known because “little is known about (his) views on anything.” In a 1995 interview, Chomsky defined the point of anarchism as, “to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom…”

To hear Chomsky tell it in his singular, sensible way, anarchism does not sound like the thing to be feared that some would have us believe. Indeed, he said that the misrepresentation that has surrounded the theory of anarchism has been promulgated by the ones who have a vested interest in preventing public understanding on anarchy.  Instead of being chaos, true anarchy would mean “a highly organised society, integrating many different kinds of structures, but controlled by participants, not by those in a position to give orders…”

In today’s climate of Tea Parties and heightened distrust of government, Chomsky seems like the ideal candidate to lead a revolution of political thought and address the disenfranchisement many Americans feel.  For his part, Chomsky was recently quoted as saying the United States is lucky no truly charismatic yet honest leader has come along to capitalize on “the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger” that exists in America today, the likes of which he has never seen.

“The mood of the country is frightening,” he said. “The level of anger, frustration and hatred of institutions is not organized in a constructive way. It is going off into self-destructive fantasies.” He said people like Joe Stack are asking, “What is happening to me? I have done all the right things. I am a God-fearing Christian. I work hard for my family. I have a gun. I believe in the values of the country and my life is collapsing.”

As more and more Joe Stacks crop up, the public may become more inclined to give ear to philosophers like Chomsky who propose a new way of governing, however much the liberal intellectuals and media elite might like to keep such ideas under wraps.

Chomsky says, “More than ever, libertarian socialist ideas are relevant, and the population is very much open to them. Despite a huge mass of corporate propaganda, outside of educated circles, people still maintain pretty much their traditional attitudes… Intellectuals may tell a different story, but it’s not all that difficult to find out the facts.”

Something bigger than the truth

“A soldier dies in a black op mission some place we never admit it, the army calls his death an accident. Why? To protect the next one.  Another soldier dies slippin’ into a ditch, we call it a “combat death,” just to give it a meaning… My point is that sometimes the army has to be concerned with something bigger than the truth.”

That is a line from last year’s “The Messenger.”  It is delivered by Woody Harrelson’s Capt. Tony Stone, who is tasked with personally informing the next of kin when soldiers are killed.  It is a very moving film that almost no one saw- the film took in less than $1.5 million worldwide and cost $6.5 million to make. The fact that it sold few tickets is unfortunate but telling.

America has a very complicated relationship with its soldiers and the military.  The failure to win the war in Vietnam ushered in a new era of how we relate to our boys (and girls) in combat.  As Harvard Sitikoff said, by the time the troops returned from Vietnam, the American people no longer wanted to be reminded of our longest and costliest war, the only one we had ever lost.  Instead of being thanked, the soldiers themselves were shunned or branded murderers and psychos.  Virtually nothing was done to help them reintegrate into society.  It has been claimed that more men committed suicide after the war than died in it.

A new study found there are 950 veteran suicide attempts every day. Many reports have surfaced of the terrible quality of treatment given war veterans at VA hospitals and the military’s attempts to deny them and/or their families their due benefits.

So what does all this have to do with Capt. Tony Stone’s line?  The protagonist of “The Messenger” is Will Montgomery, a young war hero recently returned to the States.  The woman he loves is marrying a dorky rich Ivy-Leaguer type.  The best scene in the movie comes when Stone and Sgt. Montgomery crash the couple’s swanky engagement party, Montgomery’s wife-beater showing his tattoos.  They get drunk and make a scene, to the horror of the other, refined guests.  To try and diffuse the situation, the groom curses under his breath, then stands and makes a toast to “our troops.”

The movie is a heartbreaking look inside a horrible, private moment that some families have to go through.  But on a broader scale, the movie is about the chickens coming home to roost, so to speak, for all of us.  It’s not that we as the viewers get to see what getting that news would be like; it’s that we have to see.  We are like the other guests at the party- for us, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are academic. It’s just party talk.  We would rather not be confronted with the ugliness of the truth of what is done with our consent, whether by stated declaration or silent passivity.

The Army has been caught lying to us in the past: the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death by friendly fire.  The cover-up of torture in Guantanamo Bay.  The fabricated war heroics of Jessica Lynch.  Each of these stories caused an uproar, which is to say they dominated the headlines for a week or so and then faded from our memory when the next big news story hit.

Of course a low box office turnout for any movie could be because the movie is simply crummy.  But so few people saw “The Messenger” it makes one think there might be a deeper reason.  Could it be that we the people like having plausible deniability? Do we really want the truth or do we prefer to stay in the dark about the price of war?  Our treatment of war veterans seems to imply that we hope that by ignoring them they will go away.  But soldiers like Staff Sgt. Montgomery aren’t going anywhere.