Washington, D.C.: With the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence scheduled to vote tomorrow on John Brennan’s nomination to become the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, it has become clear that Senators simply do not have all the information necessary for an informed decision on so sensitive an appointment. In an effort to illuminate the nominee’s shortcomings that demand – but have yet to receive – close scrutiny, the Center for Security Policy convened a virtual press conference featuring video-taped comments by six of the country’s preeminent experts on, among other things, the threat of Islamism and Brennan’s blindness to it.
The video includes powerful statements by Steve Emerson, Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism; Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy; Chris Farrell, Vice President for Investigations and Research for Judicial Watch; Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, USA Ret., former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; Andrew C. McCarthy, former federal prosecutor and author of The Grand Jihad and Spring Fever; and Stephen Coughlin, Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and author of the forthcoming book, Catastrophic Failure.
The video, National Security Experts Warn: Reject Brennan, compliments the Center’s other efforts to educate the public, media and policymakers about the dangers of a possible Brennan tenure at the CIA, including a collection of Brennan-related resources and several investigative pieces.
Andrew McCarthy–who successfully prosecuted the Blind Sheikh who, twenty years ago yesterday, conspired to blow up the World Trade Center–said:
Making John Brennan the director of the Central Intelligence Agency is the most monumental mismatch of man and mission that I can imagine. The point of having our intelligence agencies is to make sure that we have a coherent, accurate idea of the threats that confront the United States. Unfortunately, Mr. Brennan’s career, and certainly the signature that he has put on the national security component of the Obama administration has been to blind the United States to the threats against us.
Steve Emerson, one of the country’s preeminent counter-terrorism experts added:
John Brennan, CIA director nominee, is uniquely unqualified to be the CIA director as evidenced by him being the architect of the outreach program to the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States as well as in the Middle East. In the course of the investigation conducted by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, we discovered that there were at least four hundred visits in the three years between 2009 and 2012 to the White House of radical Islamic groups, some of whom were unindicted co-conspirators in terrorism trials, but all of whom had been involved in establishing radical Islamic rhetoric, including support for Hamas, Hezbollah, denigrating the US, calling this a war against Islam by the United States.
Zuhdi Jasser, a leader of anti-Islamist Muslims in America, warned that:
…The reports put out from [John Brennan’s] counter-terrorism office at the White House…did not recognize the [Islamist] ideology. They noted a “radical ideology,” but didn’t name what it was — even though the word ‘ideology’ was mentioned twenty times. Our American-Islamic Leadership Coalition, that includes over 20 different reform-based organizations that are anti-Islamist, were not consulted. And, you can see from the report, that it seems to be very similar to things put out by groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America. Unfortunately, John Brennan has had a very cozy relationship to these groups and has often used their talking points when speaking out about Islam, Islamism, jihad, and the threat…. In every position Brennan has been it, he has been more a facilitator of Islamist groups rather than a counterweight to them, in order to oppose them and confront them.
The Center today also released a letter signed by fifteen conservative leaders – many of whom have extensive experience with national security policymaking and practice – calling on congressional leaders to launch a bicameral select committee to investigate the Benghazigate scandal. John Brennan’s involvement in the run-up to the murderous attack on September 11, 2012, his conduct during that seven-hour engagement and his role in the subsequent cover-up must be addressed before he is allowed, as Rep. Trent Franks recently put it “anywhere near the CIA, let alone running it.”
National Security Experts Warn: Reject Brennan
Center for Security Policy
I’m Frank Gaffney with the Center for Security Policy. We’ve brought together several of the country’s leading experts on national security, intelligence, and related matters to discuss in a kind of virtual press conference what is at stake in the nomination of John Brennan to become the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. And what, if anything, are the implications of the Benghazi-gate scandal for the Brennan nomination on the one hand and the national security, more generally. I hope you’ll enjoy the comments of our colleagues and the thought-provoking recommendations they’re making.
Investigative Project on Terrorism
John Brennan, CIA director nominee, is uniquely unqualified to be the CIA director as evidenced by him being the architect of the outreach program to the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States as well as in the Middle East. In the course of the investigation conducted by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, we discovered that there were at least four hundred visits in the three years between 2009 and 2012 to the White House of radical Islamic groups, some of whom were unindicted co-conspirators in terrorism trials, but all of whom had been involved in establishing radical Islamic rhetoric, including support for Hamas, Hezbollah, denigrating the US, calling this a war against Islam by the United States. Urging its adherents not to talk to the FBI, claiming the FBI invented and fabricated charges of terrorism against terrorism suspects, of course Muslim. And John Brennan was the man who oversaw the invitation to all of these groups by these lieutenants.
Number two, Mr. Brennan was the man who opened the dialogue with radical Islamic groups as evidenced by his speeches to groups at NYU, including the Muslim Students Association, the NYU Muslim Student, law student group. And answering questions in which he responded to, by saying there was no such thing as holy war in Islam. That jihad meant peace and love. And that there was no such thing as a jihadi. He absolutely went beyond that when he praised groups like Islamic Relief which has demonstrable ties to terrorism and is under investigation by the Treasury for years for its ties to actual Hamas terrorism. He was the architect also of the purge policy at the FBI under FBI director Mueller, embarked on a campaign to purge the FBI and all of its bureaus around the country as well as its Quantico library, any book, pamphlet, paper, power point, picture, of anything that was considered to be, quote, anti-Islam. And who made the criteria? Radical Islamic groups. That was an order handed down initially from Brennan to Holder to Mueller in this. In pursuit of that order, there was literally a literal book burning, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1933. In addition to which, Mr. Brennan openly agreed with Muslim Advocates, a radical Islamist front group that believes that the United States has no right to prosecute Islamic terrorists because they’re all innocent.
He wrote a letter back to a leader of that group, Farhana Khera, claiming that she was right in her critique of US counter-terrorism policy, that the Patriot Act was in violation of civil rights. That there was abuse of – by the FBI agents of the rights of Muslims when there wasn’t any. That there was excessive surveillance and that in fact Islamic terrorist charities should not have been shut down. This was a disgrace. The letter was released by us to Breitbart News which they published. It was never meant for public consumption. And that was the beginning of the purge policy.
In addition to which [Brennan] has overseen the policies of outreach and embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Mr. Morsi, who is nothing but a terrorist thug, has been the darling of Mr. Brennan’s policy. Mr. Brennan openly advocated that in the White House the sale of the F-16s and the two hundred tanks to a regime that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
So all together, considering his open embrace of radical Islam, his embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, his policy of appeasing these groups by eviscerating the national security of the United States, not only makes him disqualified to be the CIA director, it disqualifies him from the position he currently occupies on the National Security Council as counter-terrorism director. I think his nomination and any subsequent approval by the Senate would put our national security in shambles and make us a disgrace in the world, at least in the eyes of moderate Muslims who depend upon the United States for their support. Unfortunately, who have not gotten it, as evidenced by the absence of support to the Green Revolution in the first two years of the Iranian underground revolution during Obama’s term. And now we see the absence of support to the democratic liberal oppositions in Morsi. A policy again designed by Brennan.
So when we look at his policies about the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist groups in the United States, that are against the US, that deny US interests, that promote terrorism, and how he’s embraced them and how he’s embraced the larger Muslim Brotherhood groups in the Middle East, I can only tell you as someone who is not partisan, someone who would be willing to criticize any party for putting up such a nominee, this appointment should be adamantly and unanimously opposed first by the Senate intelligence committee and by the Senate itself. Thank you. I’m Steve Emerson from the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
American-Islamic Forum for Democracy
My name is Zuhdi Jasser. I’m the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. And I’m joining my colleagues in speaking out against the nomination of John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
I’ll tell you, as somebody who’s dedicated my life to countering political Islam and exposing the link between Islamism or political Islam and the threat, the security threat globally, I can’t think of a more important position in countering that threat than the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. And in fact, that CIA has had a center for the strategic analysis of political Islam and has really, with that center been one of the only government agencies in the United States that has recognized the importance of political Islam or Islamism in driving the radicalization of Muslims around the world. And the supremacism of the concept of the Islamic state and the ascendancy of Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and their ability to feed into groups all over the world and create al-Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Jamaat al-Islamiyya and all the other hundreds of permutations of radicalism.
Unfortunately, the choice of John Brennan is clearly inappropriate. He has, in his position at the White House, has demonstrated the inability to make that decision, and I’ve been actually disappointed that he’s not been confronted on his position on that. And he’s demonstrated an inability to make that connection with a number of aspects. Number one, he – in the reports put out from the counter-terrorism office at the White House, for example, last summer they put out a report on their strategy and they did not even recognize what the ideology is. They noted a radical ideology, but they didn’t name what it was, even though the word ideology was mentioned twenty times. Our American Islamic leadership coalition that includes over twenty different reform based organizations that are anti-Islamist were not consulted and in fact you can see from the report that it seems to be very similar to things put out by groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America. And unfortunately, John Brennan seems to have a very cozy relationship with these groups. And has often used their talking points about, when speaking out about Islam, Islamism, jihad and the threat, and he’s made comments about jihad that I would find very concerning, in many ways apologizing for it and not confronting the ideology that we’re faced with domestically and globally.
Secondly, the facilitation of these organizations by his position at the White House has demonstrated that he not only doesn’t get the ideology, but works with the wrong groups. And if the future head of the CIA is unable to pick which groups to work with, and without – I am very concerned that we will thus be facilitating the growth further of groups that are very anti-American, antisemitic, and look to progress ideas such as the ascension of the Islamic state in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood or in Saudi Arabic with Wahaabis and others. And in every position John Brennan has been in, it has almost been as if he has been more of a facilitator of Islamist movements rather than a counterweight to them in order to oppose then and confront them. And if there is anyone I think that will be ill suited and has demonstrated an inability to confront the ideology and the threat before us, it’s John Brennan. So I’d ask those who are looking to vote for or against him, to vote against this nomination and find an appropriate head that would keep our country safe abroad against the real threat of Islamism and all of its permutations around the world.
My name is Chris Farrell. I’m the director of investigations and research for Judicial Watch.
When it comes to the appointment of Mr. Brennan as CIA director, Judicial Watch has several concerns. Many of them focused around the Benghazi attack of September 11th, 2012. In that regard, we’ve focused very carefully, very heavily, on Benghazi, on the attack. On the State Department and the national security apparatus and what they were doing or not doing concerning the safety and security of the special mission consulate at Benghazi and the safety, of course, of Ambassador Stevens and his crew, the three other folks who died with him at the embassy. Or at the consulate.
In that regard, we have reason to believe that Mr. Brennan not only had active participation and knowledge of what was going on as Benghazi began to unfold, but perhaps was even instrumental in the administration’s initial cover story. That somehow the attack was related to this fictitious, now proven to be ridiculous story that there was an internet video that somehow went viral and inflamed the populace in Benghazi. Something the administration repeated endlessly. And so there’s substantial reason to believe Mr. Brennan not only had knowledge of that, but perhaps participated in crafting that phony cover story. In pursuing that and not just the cover story and Ambassador Rice’s appearances on five different shows to repeat that lie over and over again, to include the president repeating that lie at the United Nations, we have sued the office of the director of national intelligence to obtain the original talking points that Ambassador Rice supposedly relied upon. And again, the reason we mention this is because it’s our belief that Brennan either had knowledge of or participation in that story. It would be hard to explain how he wouldn’t know about it. So exactly what his role is, what he did or didn’t know, how that policy or how that story came to be crafted, we think it’s very important to get his understanding, his knowledge, his role in exactly what was going on in Benghazi – the ground truth of what was occurring on the ground at Benghazi as well as whatever stories were crafted by the administration to get around that to try to cover that or explain it away, a lie that they were clearly caught in.
So we’ve engaged in Freedom of Information Act requests, FOIA requests. We have a number of them pending with the State Department. I just told you we have sued the director of national intelligence to get the talking points. We’ve also asked for both still and video recordings of what was going on in Benghazi during the attack. We have asked for the security assessments of the compound there. Again, these are all things that would have come under Mr. Brennan’s review, either at the time of the attack or shortly thereafter. And it all plays into his knowledge, his participation, and being honest and forthcoming, not just with other government officials, but of course to the American public who he would be accountable to ultimately.
Along those lines, also, we have created a special report. It’s called The Benghazi Attack of September 11th, 2012. This special report that we’ve produced isn’t just some academic articulation of unknown points or questionable policies by these virtues. It’s not a product of the faculty lounge. It’s a report that is authored by a defense – excuse me, a diplomatic security service special agent and RSO, a regional security officer, someone who served in embassies as the chief security officer in places like Afghanistan and Israel among others. And a very experienced, very seasoned state security service specialist with thirty-plus years of service. So our expert, our analyst, produced this report, came to us and gave us his analysis based on thirty years of experience on the ground and asked some very important, very penetrating questions, many of which, frankly, should be asked of Mr. Brennan because there’s no way to reasonably assume he wouldn’t know the issues and the topics discussed in our special report.
So Mr. Brennan has a – to call it, to be generous, a somewhat checkered professional lead up to the point where he is now being recommended as the CIA director. There are more unanswered questions than there are answered questions. And unlike Hillary Clinton, who blustered at the senators and said, what difference does it make, why does it matter, which frankly shocked me because the senators were cowed by her outburst of temper. Someone should have spun it around and said, well, exactly. It does make quite a big difference. Answer the question. But in this case, Mr. Brennan really is subject to the same line of questioning. And hopefully, he will not bluster and cow the senators into submission by losing his temper.
There are legitimate questions and they need to be answered. We’ve spent an awful long time looking at Benghazi and trying to unravel that. And he certainly should have knowledge of it and be able to explain not just his role and his position in it and his knowledgeability, but also the broader question of what was going on in the administration as this unfolded. And it is directly on point, it is directly – it goes directly to his position that he’s vying for, to be CIA director. Because of course there is a large operational base co-located with the consulate in Benghazi. So it’s relevant, it’s timely, it is literally a matter of life and death and it touches on a subject that Mr. Brennan owes the American public an answer on.
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, US Army (Ret.)
Family Research Council, former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
My name is Jerry Boykin. I spent thirty-six years in the US Army and I want to say that I’m very concerned about the nomination of John Brennan as the next CIA director.
This post at CIA is so critical to the security of our nation. The CIA director has to be an individual that is not only experienced in intelligence, but clearly understands the threats against America. My concern is that John Brennan is not a man who has demonstrated that he truly understands the full magnitude of the threats against this nation today. His unwillingness to recognize the Muslim Brotherhood is operating in America and poses an existential threat to our Constitution and consequently to our freedoms and liberty I think disqualifies him.
It was John Brennan who forced the purging of some very accurate information in the FBI’s curriculum that talked about what the Koran and the hadiths say about the basic tenets of the Islamic religion, but more importantly the aspects of Islam that deal with their geopolitical system, their determination to perform jihad, their financial system, their legal system called shariah. John Brennan is one who has not publicly recognized that that’s a problem for Americans, for our Constitution. I’m also very concerned about the fact that John Brennan has yet to recognize that Israel is one of our very strong and closest allies. Brennan still calls Jerusalem al Quds, which is the terminology of the jihadists, the people who want to destroy Israel. He has also called Israel Palestine. That further reflects his sentiments towards the nation of Israel and I believe the Jewish people as well.
This nomination I think portends a weakness in American intelligence if he is confirmed. The fact that we would have a man who does not recognize the enemies of America, a man who has been very active in trying to downplay the role of the authoritarian Islamic theology with regards to what’s happening in our nation, and the successes that the Muslim Brotherhood is having in our nation I think is really a bad thing and something that Americans need to pay attention to.
This man is not the right man to be the CIA director. And I hope that Republicans and Democrats will recognize that this is not good for America. In fact, it will increase the threats to America if John Brennan is in fact confirmed.
Former federal prosecutor, author of Willful Blindness, the Grand Jihad and Spring Fever
Making John Brennan the director of the Central Intelligence Agency is the most monumental mismatch of man and mission that I can imagine. The point of having our intelligence agencies is to make sure that we have a coherent, accurate idea of the threats that confront the United States.
Unfortunately, Mr. Brennan’s career, and certainly the signature that he has put on the national security component of the Obama administration has been to blind the United States to the threats against us. I think the most important of the missteps that he has made in his tenure is to participate in what I call the purge of intelligence materials that are used to give instruction to our agents, whether they’re law enforcement, military, or intelligence agents–the components of government that we rely on to protect the national security of the United States.
There has been an extraction from those teaching materials of information about Islamist ideology on the grounds that it is unflattering to Muslims in the view of leaders of Islamic organizations, some of which were shown in a Justice Department prosecution just a few years ago, the Holy Land Foundation, some of those organizations found to be very hostile to the United States, part of a Muslim Brotherhood movement that, by its own terms, aims to eliminate and destroy Western Civilization from within by sabotage. Mr. Brennan’s participation in this effort has not only been to – as I understand it – order the extraction of materials, but that extraction was done in consultation with leaders of Islamist organizations. Some of which may have Muslim Brotherhood ties. I have to qualify that by saying may have because unbelievably we haven’t been able to find out exactly who it is that the administration has been consulting with in arriving at what should be in the training packages that are given to our agents. They’ve refused to give that information, Brennan has refused to give that information, and unfortunately, Congress has not effectively pressed for that information.
So we not only have a situation where our intelligence agencies and our intelligence agent trainees are being blinded in terms of their understanding of Islamist ideology, which is something it’s vital for them to know if we’re going to go and continue to protect the country, but we also don’t get a read on exactly who it is that has been invited into the councils of government to make the determination about what the agent we rely on to protect us should know about the threat and the many threats that are arrayed against the United States.
Brennan has been involved in this purge effort. He has been very explicit in – in an interpretation of Islamist ideology that is designed to make our enemies appear to be harmless to us. So, for example, he has claimed publicly that jihad – which is a challenge that the United States has been dealing with on our homeland, now, for twenty years – is not actually a military threat against the United States, but is instead an internal struggle among Muslims, the Muslim person or the Muslim community, to become a better person. To purify oneself or to purify one’s community. Authoritative Muslim teaching, including a manual of shariah law called Reliance of the Traveler, completely and directly refutes Brennan’s interpretation of jihad. It says explicitly that jihad is a holy war against non-believers in Islam. But even on its own – face of Brennan’s interpretation, he’s wrong. Because there is no consensus about what the good is between Western Civilization and Islamic civilization. So when Muslim theorists talk about purifying oneself or purifying one’s community, they’re not talking about making it better in the sense that we would all understand better means. To become a more purified individual Muslim means to become a better, more shariah compliant Muslim. To purify one’s community doesn’t mean to, you know, drive out the drug dealers and the criminal elements. What it actually means is to drive out non-Islamic influences from one’s community. It’s a very, very different idea than the one that Brennan has suggested. And it may be perfectly fine for – in some component of government to have someone who is something of a cheerleader for elements that are hostile to the United States. But the one place we can’t afford to have that is at the top level of our premier intelligence service.
The intelligence community is what we rely on to protect the United States. And in order to fulfill its mission, the intelligence community has to be completely removed from political correctness, has to be removed from ideology, and has to be able to scrutinize both sides or multiple sides of any questions in order to know precisely what the threats against the United States are. To have Mr. Brennan, who refused to acknowledge a jihadist threat that even Secretary Clinton in one of her last appearances before Congress acknowledged was one of the most profound challenges against the United States, would just be very, very counter-productive for our national security.
Center for Security Policy, former DOD counterterror analyst and author of the forthcoming book, Catastrophic Failure
Hello, my name is Stephen Coughlin. I’m here to discuss my concerns about the approval of Mr. John Brennan for the director of central intelligence.
My concern stems from the fact that it seems that with his tenure, the intelligence collection effort, collection of facts that could paint a better and more valid picture of the nature of the threat in the war on terror have been subordinated to a politically correct policy and has had the net effect of leaving us unaware at a time where I think we face great peril from enemies and threats that we confront in the world. Among those – among the activities that I find has been greatly concerning is back in October 19th, 2011, a series of members from the Muslim – from Muslim Brotherhood front groups wrote a letter to Mr. Brennan at the White House and they made certain demands. Now these are groups like MPAC, Muslim Public Affairs Council, CAIR, Council on American/Islamic Relations, ISNA, Islamic Society of North America, ICNA, Islamic Circle of North America, and AMANA. Well, these groups are – many of these groups were identified in a 1991 document called the explanatory memorandum as Muslim Brotherhood front groups. Now this explanatory memorandum was admitted into evidence in a court of law to state that it reflected the strategy of these groups and was used to convict those parties. And this explanatory memorandum flat out said that their goal in America is a grand jihad to eliminate America through a subversion process that required them to get our senior leaders to subvert our way of life for them.
Now, I was one of the people named in this document. Some statements were made or purported to be said about what I said at some briefings that are just simply not true. And I was never given a chance, no due process to affirm what I said. What is very concerning about that memo that was sent to Mr. Brennan back in October, 2011, is that it called for a purge of all government training material and basically individuals, the implementation of retraining, reviews, personal reviews to be conducted against people, quality control measures that ended up being measures that were basically under the direction of these same Muslim Brotherhood front groups. Directly or indirectly.
We have an affirmative duty to take in the facts. And those facts have to take us where they go. If we were going after the Ku Klux Klan and they hid behind a religious facade, we would get past that religious facade. In fact, we have done that many times. But the fact of the matter is, is the people we’re confronting in this war say they fight jihad according to Islamic law. And even if it is true that they are incorrect about their understanding of Islam, it is still true that is why they fight. And we need to get a factual, professional handle on that. This is something that we’re not able to do right now. Because since that letter was written a purge has been implemented where the FBI, DHS, the Department of Defense have gone after people.
In fact, we can take a look at a June 20th, 2012 Reuters article where they talked – titled, Military Instructor Suspended Over Islam Course. Where a military instructor at the joint forces staff college was removed, relieved of his duties, on the allegation that he was briefings things that actually was not true. And in fact we know that that was not true. It called – the article made it clear that they were looking for disciplinary action, retraining, and counseling. So what we’re looking at right now, we’re looking at it in bold, bold form, is the fact that there’s a witch hunt going on. Where there’s no due process. People are not being asked, given the chance to defend their work product. They’re not being able to – they’re not even being told who these people are who are getting word of their – or purging their documents and making judgments. Where is the due process? Mr. Brennan, this is not the Soviet Union. This is the United States.
And I must say if you’re banning materials or you’re overseeing the banning of materials that could show a factual nexus to be made, this causes a grave compromise of our national security. And it doesn’t matter whose religious views that might – that might make uncomfortable.
Our job is the defense of the Constitution and against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And we follow the evidence where it goes. So my objection against the approval of Mr. Brennan is it seems that he is willing to compromise the collection efforts of our intelligence systems for non-professional reasons. And thereby hurt our understanding of the nature of the threat in the war on terror.
Center for Security Policy
Clearly, there is considerable information that has yet to come to light in the course of these Senate deliberations about John Brennan’s confirmation to become the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. We believe those questions are of sufficient magnitude, especially as they relate to Islamism and the Benghazi-gate scandal to justify a much more serious drill-down by the Senate committees. Specifically the Senate select committee on intelligence needs to have outside witnesses like those you’ve just heard to illuminate the problems with this nomination and the necessity for a course correction. Not the confirmation of John Brennan. And in addition, a number of prominent conservative leaders have come together to call on the Congress on a bicameral basis to convene a select committee with full subpoena and deposition powers to explore what really went on in the run up to, during, and after the attack on our facilities in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012. Congress needs to get to the bottom of this. And so do we.
Wealth is not Created at the Top: It is Only Devoured There
The UK has left the EU and we can argue about the minutiae of Wealth until we’re blue in the face. But the overriding factors are apparent and in one of the richest countries in the world it is shocking that so many people can’t even be sure if they are going to be able to eat enough today or provide for their loved ones.
These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have “made it”. By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurial-ism that are helping to advance the whole world – Opinion by Rutger Bregman
… across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top and so entrenched is this assumption that it’s even embedded in our language. When economists talk about “productivity”, what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like “welfare state”, “redistribution” and “solidarity”, we’re implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.
Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook … a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they’re sucking the rest of us dry
In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. Meanwhile, a growing share of those we hail as “successful” and “innovative” are earning their wealth at the expense of others. The people getting the biggest handouts are not down around the bottom, but at the very top. Yet their perilous dependence on others goes unseen. Almost no one talks about it. Even for politicians on the left, it’s a non-issue.
To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our “human capital” in economic terms) to create something new, whether that’s a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth.
But there is also a second way to make money. That’s the rentier way: by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others’ expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.
But here comes the rub. Most rentiers are not as easily identified as the greedy banker or manager. Many are disguised. On the face of it, they look like industrious folks, because for part of the time they really are doing something worthwhile. Precisely that makes us overlook their massive rent-seeking…
The problems we face are that the politicians are firmly in the hands (pockets) of the uber wealthy. We live in a corporate plutocracy and those holding all the wealth and therefore power have no intention of changing the status quo, even if it isn’t sustainable. They remind me of bacteria (or cancer) devouring the host body more and more even though eventually it will kill them too.
Donald Trump Forgets Important Lesson From Grandad:
Harper’s Magazine reprints an interesting letter from US President Donald J. Trump’s own grandfather that may get you thinking. Here is it then:
The Emigrants – By Friedrich Trump – From a letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Trump had been ordered to leave Bavaria for failing to complete mandatory military service and to register his initial emigration to the United States twenty years earlier.
Prince Luitpold rejected Trump’s request for repatriation; the family later settled in New York. Translated from the German by Austen Hinkley.
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,
… Well then. Long ago, yes.. Still applies? You tell me.
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ObamaCare Threw This Burn Victim Out Of The Hospital After 3 Days!
The Federal Government cannot micromanage and nowhere is that made clearer than with ObamaCare. Recently, John, a Floridian man visiting...
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ObamaCare Threw This Burn Victim Out Of The Hospital After 3 Days!