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[The Blog] Barletta to Casey: How dare you attack me over children’s cancer while my grandson gets treatment for it

"This is the lowest thing I've ever seen."

The post Barletta to Casey: How dare you attack me over children’s cancer while my grandson gets treatment for it appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/15/2018 8:14:52 PM
[Markets] Snyder: Americans Are More Radicalized Than Ever, Country Spiraling Toward Civil War

Authored by Michael Snyder via The American Dream blog,

Now that Brett Kavanaugh has officially been confirmed, it is a good time to reflect upon where we are at as a nation. 

And where we are at is a nation that is rapidly moving toward a state of civil war.  At one time we were a nation that was united by shared values, a shared purpose and a shared destiny, but now all of that has been replaced by anger, frustration, bitterness, strife and discord.  The left hates the right and vice versa, and both sides are becoming increasingly radicalized.  And without a doubt we are in a life or death battle for the future of America.  Eventually one side or the other will emerge victorious, and their ideology will become dominant in this country.

Up to this point, there has been a lot of screaming, yelling and protesting, but it isn’t going to take very much to push the nation over the edge into violence.

On a daily basis the pot is being stirred by our leading politicians and the mainstream media, and it is very difficult to see any way that this story is going to end well.

Early on Sunday, the Drudge Report was being headlined by an Axios story about “the radicalization of our public lives”…

It’s going to get worse. Virtually every major American institution is being radicalized — or being reshaped by the radicalization of our public lives.

You see this most vividly in politics, where the White House and Congress are often the cause and effect of the radicalization. You now see it in the courts and the Supreme Court, in particular, where a narrow, party-line vote made Brett Kavanaugh the next justice after a nasty, personal political brawl. Already, lawyer Michael Avenatti is calling for a new Democratic litmus test: increasing the size of the court to 11 from nine.

In particular, it is on the left where we have seen the most extreme radicalization.  This is something that President Trump commented on during his most recent rally

“Just imagine the devastation they would cause if they of their obtained the power they so desperately want and crave,” Trump added. “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob, and that’s what they have become.

Trump then used Kavanaugh’s example to illustrate why conservatives need to vote during the midterm elections in four weeks so that Democrats don’t take back the House:

“You have to vote,” Trump insisted. “On November 6 you will have the chance to stop the radical Democrats — and that’s what they have become — by electing a Republican House and a Republican Senate. We will increase our majorities. We need more Republicans. We need more Republicans.

“The Democrats have become too extreme and too dangerous to govern,” Trump continued. “Republicans believe in the rule of law not the rule of the mob.”

Of course if Hillary Clinton had won the election, there are millions upon millions of Americans that would not have been willing to be governed by her either.

We are rapidly getting to the point where America is simply going to be ungovernable.

In order for any government to function, a certain percentage of the population must be willing to recognize that government as legitimate.  For example, if everybody in the country suddenly decided to quit paying taxes there wouldn’t be too much that the federal government could do about it.  They could put some of us in prison to try to scare the rest of us back in line, but if the rest of us refused to be intimidated our system of taxation would collapse.

Every system of government depends upon the fact that most people will willingly submit to it, and we are rapidly getting to the point where a large portion of the population will not submit to being governed.

Just consider what just took place in Washington.  As Brett Kavanaugh was being sworn in, protesters were literally banging on and clawing the doors of the Supreme Court building…

But perhaps no incident better expressed the protesters’ tenuous hold on sanity than a demonstration at the Supreme Court, where protesters — mostly women — broke through a police line and barged to the Court’s chamber, where they proceeded to wail, gnash teeth, and pound at the doors while Kavanaugh was being sworn in inside.

Some of the protesters, who managed to get all the way through to the doors themselves, tried desperately to claw their way in, even though the doors were clearly locked (and look very heavy).

If you have not seen this yet, you can watch footage of this happening on Facebook right here.

And Chad Pergram is reporting that Republican senators had death threats texted to their personal phones…

Colleague Peter Doocy rpts a GOP senator says senators have had death threats texted to their person phones. Calls that “unusual.” Also says some senators who flew home after Kavanaugh vote were accompanied by police for protection

In a subsequent tweet, Pergram also reported that a gruesome beheading video was actually sent to the phone of Cory Gardner’s wife…

Amid Kavanaugh furor & threats to mbrs, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) tells Fox that his wife received a text with a video attachment showing a gruesome beheading. Someone has has also released the names of and addresses of his family members.

Can you imagine how you would feel if that happened to you?

Many of these leftist protesters are extremely passionate about protecting abortion rights.  To be honest, I wish that those on the right were just as passionate about defending the lives of the unborn.

Because the truth is that Brett Kavanaugh has never said that he intends to overturn Roe v. Wade.  In fact, during her speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate explaining why she was voting for Kavanaugh, U.S. Senator Susan Collins admitted that Kavanaugh essentially promised her that he would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade

Most notably, Collins said in her explanation of why she was not worried that Kavanaugh would overturn Roe that Kavanaugh had told her when they were discussing his nomination that he did not think five sitting justices—a majority of the nine member court—would be a sufficient number “to overturn long-established precedent.”

This was after he had testified, she noted, that Roe–upheld by Casey–was “precedent on precedent.”

“Finally, in his testimony, he noted repeatedly that Roe had been upheld by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, describing it as precedent on precedent,” said Collins in her floor speech. “When I asked him whether it would be sufficient to overturn a long-established precedent if five current Justices believed it was wrongly decided, he emphatically said no.”

Kavanaugh didn’t just say no.

He “emphatically said no“.

After everything that happened, the ironic thing is that Kavanaugh getting on to the Supreme Court is a loss for conservatives, but nobody on the right wants to admit this.  We got fooled by Justice Kennedy, we got fooled by Sandra Day O’Connor, we got fooled by David Souter, and now we have just been fooled again.

Kavanaugh clerked for Justice Kennedy, and he is cut from the exact same cloth as his mentor.  Kennedy was one of the key votes to uphold Roe v. Wade in the Casey decision, and he actually wrote the opinion for the case that legalized gay marriage in America.  It is rumored that Kennedy would not retire until he was assured that Kavanaugh would be nominated in his place, because he knew that Kavanaugh would be the exact same type of Supreme Court justice that he had been.

So conservatives should not be celebrating this “victory” at all.

But what this confirmation process did prove is that we are closer to chaos on the streets of America than ever before.  In fact, a recent New York Post articlesuggested that America “could be sleepwalking into a second civil war”…

To be clear, what we just witnessed, and what we have seen for two years, is not a case of mere political differences, which the Founders recognized as inevitable and even desirable.

Instead, we face something more akin to the combustible climate historian Christopher Clark described as the origins of World War I. In his book, “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914,” Clark illustrates how none of the great powers wanted war, but all felt free to escalate the build-up in the certainty that the other side would back down.

Something similar is happening here, and our nation could be sleepwalking into a second civil war. Even though justice and fairness prevailed this time, the stained confirmation process must serve as a wake-up alarm.

This time around, however, it won’t be a battle between two opposing armies from two distinct geographic regions.

Instead, it will be a conflict between two very different ideologies.  So far, it has mostly been a “cold war”, but as both sides become increasingly radicalized I fear for what the future may soon bring…

Published:10/9/2018 5:10:07 PM
[Entertainment] Alyssa Milano cheered on Matt Damon, the guy who defended Louis C.K. and Casey Affleck, for his portrayal of Brett Kavanaugh on SNL

Saturday Night Live brought in actor Matt Damon to portray Brett Kavanaugh for the cold open of last night’s season premiere: Now it’s time to hear from Judge Brett Kavanaugh (Matt Damon). #SNLPremiere pic.twitter.com/dvu1VgJZt5 — Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) September 30, 2018 That would be the same Matt Damon who defended Hollywood sickos […]

The post Alyssa Milano cheered on Matt Damon, the guy who defended Louis C.K. and Casey Affleck, for his portrayal of Brett Kavanaugh on SNL appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/30/2018 8:41:27 AM
[Entertainment] Shawn Mendes Takes Fans on the Road in His YouTube Documentary Shawn MendesThere's nothin' holding Shawn Mendes back. The superstar is the latest music superstar to be featured in YouTube Music's Artist Spotlight Story. Directed by Casey Neistat, it...
Published:9/28/2018 12:27:50 PM
[Apps] Instagram denies it’s building Regramming. Here’s why it’d be a disaster Instagram tells me Regramming, or the ability to instantly repost someone else’s feed post to your followers like a retweet, is “not happening”, not being built, and not being tested. And that’s good news for all Instagrammers. The denial comes after it initially issued a “no comment” to The Verge’s Casey Newton, who published that […] Published:9/21/2018 1:26:41 PM
[Politics] Pennsylvania Senate: Casey (D) 52%, Barletta (R) 38%

Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr. appears comfortably on his way to reelection in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.

The first Rasmussen Reports telephone and online survey of the race finds Casey with the support of 52% of Likely Pennsylvania voters to Republican Congressman Lou Barletta’s 38%. Two percent (2%) like some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project. Learn more about how you can contribute.

(Want a free daily email update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 800 Likely Voters in Pennsylvania was conducted on September 12-13, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:9/20/2018 2:41:31 AM
[Entertainment] Riverdale's Camila Mendes and Charles Melton Spark Romance Rumors Camila Mendes, Charles MeltonCamila Mendes and Charles Melton might be Riverdale's newest and hottest couple. The two Riverdale stars were spotted with their cast mates Casey Cott and Lili Reinhart at the movies...
Published:9/19/2018 10:06:21 PM
[Politics] Pennsylvania Senate: Casey (D) 52%, Barletta (R) 38%

Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr. appears comfortably on his way to reelection in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race.

The first Rasmussen Reports telephone and online survey of the race finds Casey with the support of 52% of Likely Pennsylvania voters to Republican Congressman Lou Barletta’s 38%. Two percent (2%) like some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project. Learn more about how you can contribute.

(Want a free daily email update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 800 Likely Voters in Pennsylvania was conducted on September 12-13, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:9/19/2018 11:00:38 AM
[8d3ed46f-a934-4393-b1fb-2ecd52729e0a] Casey Affleck calls brother Ben Affleck 'brave' for returning to rehab Casey Affleck called his brother Ben Affleck “brave” for returning to rehab and said he’s looking forward to seeing the actor “back on his feet.” Published:9/11/2018 9:12:59 AM
[Entertainment] Are #MeToo men ready for a comeback? Not all accused figures have slunk away in shame Nearly a year after the #MeToo movement exploded in the culture, a surprising number of the accused have suffered little career damage and are already back at work.
     
 
 
Published:8/28/2018 6:33:56 AM
[Markets] Not Just China Anymore: "Facial Biometrics" Scan Used To Catch Imposter At D.C. Airport

A year ago we explained how what at first seemed like creeping tip-toe incrementalism toward the use of biometric ID for travel is quickly becoming a warp-speed reality.

At that time DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that they would integrate government databases with a private company to speed up biometric processing in an experimental test program initially rolled out only at a couple of select airports. Since that time the program has exploded to include a dozen or more international airports

It's essentially what China has already implemented on a large, Orwellian scale, and involves plans for possible mandatory face scans for all travelers to foreign destinations. And US officials are now touting the technology's recent use at Washington Dulles International Airport to catch an alleged imposter traveling on a fake passport

According to the government and contract industry defense tech news site NextGov:

CBP officials at Washington Dulles International Airport Wednesday said the newly implemented facial biometric program identified a 26-year-old Congolese man attempting to enter the U.S. using a French passport.

The man, traveling from Sao Paulo, Brazil on Tuesday, went through the new international entry system at Dulles Airport, which brings travelers directly to a CBP officer for document inspection. While the documents are being scanned, a biometric camera analyzes the passenger’s face and compares it against records associated with the passport or other travel documents.

With this first successful case of flagging fake credentials based on the technology, the American public will likely soon be flooded with more "success stories" as federal authorities prepare the American public for more stringent security measures as citizens pass through airport checkpoints. 

In this particular case, the facial recognition technology was only in its third day of use. 

The NextGov report describes further that "In this instance, the system flagged the man as a mismatch for the passport on record and he was removed for additional screening. At that time, officers said he became visibly nervous and an authentic ID card showing he was a citizen of the Republic of Congo was found in his shoe."

Not missing an opportunity to soften American citizens' legitimate concern for privacy in what appears a Minority Report dystopian scenario where people's biometric data could be stored by the feds for all time (DHS officials and program-related documents have previously "promised" this won't happen, and hopes that people will simply take them at their word), DHS officials are hailing this as an "important step forward" in protecting Americans from terrorism and crime

“Facial recognition technology is an important step forward for CBP in protecting the United States from all types of threats,” says Casey Durst, director of CBP's Baltimore Field Office, in a public statement after the Dulles incident. “Terrorists and criminals continually look for creative methods to enter the U.S. including using stolen genuine documents. The new facial recognition technology virtually eliminates the ability for someone to use a genuine document that was issued to someone else.”

Noting that 14 more airports have integrated biometric procedures this summer alone, the NextGov report notes this not-too-comforting fact: "The programs are also extending beyond customs to the entire air travel system. A pilot program at JFK International Airport in New York was recently expanded to integrate the system with Transportation Security Administration checkpoints."

Facial recognition scan in action at TSA screening point. Image via NBC News

Meanwhile one notable outspoken critic of the program, Harrison Rudolph, who runs the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law School says the technology may actually at times falsely identify people, and that the potential permanent government database storage is a legitimate looming concern. 

The privacy researcher was cited by NPR last Spring"DHS doesn't seem to know whether its system will falsely reject folks," that is, be unable to match the face scan with photos it has in the system, at higher rates because of their race or gender. "That's a serious problem," he says.

Rudolph said further, "DHS hasn't issued a single rule under this program to protect Americans' privacy," and added, "So what DHS decides to do with this information tomorrow, I'm not sure. And without rules there may be few protections for Americans' privacy."

With such issues left completely unsettled, and with the government claiming it would never, never abuse such a technology... the consistent refrain in reports over the last year has been its fast coming to an airport near you.

Published:8/25/2018 7:07:13 PM
[Markets] "Facebook Enshrines Stupidity!" Doug Casey Dumps On Social Media's Ubiquity

Authored by Joel Bowman via InternationalMan.com,

Joel Bowman: G’day, Doug. Thanks for speaking with us today.

Doug Casey: No problem, Joel. It’s a pleasure to hear your Australian accent come across the ether from Mexico.

Joel: Let’s dive right in. A week or two ago, Facebook registered the largest single day loss for any one company in stock market history – roughly $122 billion. CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost around $15 billion himself, as much as the annual GDP of several resource-rich, West African nations.

Looking back to 2000, during the go-go days of the dot.com boom, Intel and Microsoft both registered staggering single-day losses, too… $90 billion and $80 billion, respectively. And we know what happened next in that case...

So, investors want to know… is past prologue? What’s next for Silicon Valley’s tech darlings?

Doug: Talking about losing multiple billions in a single day, it’s really a sign of the times. I remember when the only billionaires in the world were Howard Hughes, John Paul Getty and John Beresford Tipton-- the mythical billionaire on a 1950’s-era show called “The Millionaire.”

These days, however, it seems everyone’s a billionaire. In fact, there are several thousand billionaires roaming the planet today, with new ones being minted almost every day.

Of course, much of this so-called wealth is just paper. It’s not real. In fact, it’s pretty clear to me that we’re in a stock market bubble. Which is being driven by the bond market hyper-bubble. And that, in turn, is fueling a real estate bubble, which I believe is just now beginning to deflate in major cities around the world.

None of this augurs well for the stock market. You’ve got bubbles all over the place. Except in the resource market. That’s the one place that hasn’t inflated. In fact, it’s been going down since it’s last peak in 2011.

Getting back to Facebook, I hope it goes bankrupt. I hate it as an institution. I hate what it does. I don’t like its policies. I don’t like its management. I don’t like the fact that it’s causing people to destroy whatever privacy they have left. While turning their brains to mush sending out selfies all day.

Joel: You’ve put a lot on the table there, Doug. Let’s unpack a bit of that, starting with the general tendency toward cerebral rot…

Many younger readers may not remember this, but there actually existed a time before everybody knew everything, when people had to read books and discuss them, engage in healthy debate and rigorous dialectic in order to learn and develop intellectually.

Now that everyone apparently has plenty of time to Instagram their kale salads and “like” one and other’s cat pictures, are we to assume mankind has finally reached the End of Learning…some new Age of Enlightenment?

Or might Facebook and its (anti)social media cousins represent – in addition to the potential fallout for investors – another, hidden cost to society?

Doug: Perhaps humanity is bifurcating into the Morlocks and the Eloi at this point. It’s true that people used to go to libraries. But even the Library of Congress has only a tiny fraction the world’s data available; libraries are quaint and delightful, but they’re dinosaurs.

All the knowledge in the world is now at our fingertips on the Internet. The Internet is one of the greatest inventions in history, on a par with moveable type and the Gutenburg printing press. A few people are using it to educate and better themselves—but relatively few.

Most people just use it for trivial amusement, as you mentioned. Facebook adds very little value to the equation. In fact, I can’t see that it does much that’s productive. It’s basically a vehicle for gossip and watching cat videos.

Joel: And it’s less than that. Aside from the general degradation of public discourse, social media also represents a kind of unalterable historical record of bad jokes and regrettable moments, accessible to anyone who may wish to besmirch one’s character or skittle one’s reputation.

We’ve all said things we wish we hadn’t. To err is to be human, after all. What do you make of a world in which everyone’s worst moments are readily available to everyone else – including potential enemies – at the click of a mouse?

Doug: Facebook enshrines stupidity. A heavy Facebook user is, in effect, saying: “Look at me! I’m a thoughtless person who doesn’t have anything better to do with his time”. That’s on top of the fact that users are exposing their thoughts, actions, and whereabouts to the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and any of a hundred other nefarious agencies. In fact, there are credible allegations that Facebook, along with Google and Amazon, are willing tools of these intelligence agencies. No good can come of being a Facebookista.

But that’s about whether you should use Facebook. Whether you should own Facebook stock is a different question. Even after the recent selloff, Facebook still has a market cap of about $500 billion, which impresses me as a lot for a chat site cum advertising vehicle. Especially one where most of its growth is behind it. A lot of users are getting hip to the fact they’re not customers, they’re the product.

Facebook was a clever innovation ten years ago. But you know, there’s an old saying in the stock market: High Tech, Big Wreck!

Just as Myspace was displaced by Facebook, I predict Facebook 2.0 will come along and replace Facebook. My understanding is that kids now see Facebook as something used by old people-- people over 21 years of age. So if it’s going nowhere with the younger generation, where’s it’s future? Maybe it picks up a billion new users in the Third World. Ultimately, what’s that worth?

Facebook may not be a terminal short sale, but I certainly won’t be putting any of my own money into the stock.

Joel: Assuming you’re correct and Facebook 2.0 does displace the current market leader, are you hopeful that such a platform may serve to promote a heightened level of discourse? Perhaps people might find their way into “phyles,” that is, subgroups based on commonly shared values that actually have real world meaning?

Doug: I hope that, in a year or two, International Man itself grows into a community of like-minded people with above average I.Q.s, libertarian values, and real world experience. IM might, itself, even branch off to become its own kind of Facebook. A private version.

I know there’s a lot of talk about regulating FB, or breaking it up. That’s a bad idea; the government should have zero to do with business in general—and areas related to free speech in particular. I’m disgusted by the fact FB has kicked Alex Jones and others off their platform. But they have a right to do so, as a private company. Although, on the other hand, they’re almost a creature of the State.

But that’s not an excuse for the government to “step in”. What will happen is that a newer, better Facebook lookalike—or a dozen of them—will replace them. FB will self-destruct. It’s a non-problem.

To be frank, you and I don’t really have that much in common with most of the 7.3 billion people on this planet. In fact, while I like many individual humans, I despise humanity in general. The more people you put together in a group, the more they act like chimpanzees. Big groups force down the lowest common denominator.

There’s some cause for optimism, but only on a person-to-person basis. I prefer the company of people who value free minds and free markets—and I suspect most people who are reading this now feel the same way.

Joel: That’s probably a very good note to end this conversation on, Doug. Thanks, as always, for taking the time.

Doug: Meanwhile, we’ll look for something with the potential of Facebook in 2008… and stay away from Facebook today.

Published:8/18/2018 4:45:15 PM
[Entertainment] Casey Affleck on harassment allegations: 'I behaved in a way that was really unprofessional' Casey Affleck is apologizing for allowing an unprofessional atmosphere on set which led to two civil lawsuits from women he worked with that were later settled.
     
 
 
Published:8/9/2018 4:24:24 PM
[241c933b-24c1-4af1-a28d-93251014f28e] Casey Affleck addresses sexual misconduct claims: I was 'really unprofessional' and 'I'm sorry' With a new movie coming out this fall, "The Old Man & The Gun," Casey Affleck is speaking publicly about bowing out of presenting the best actress Oscar and past harassment allegations against him amid the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. Published:8/9/2018 3:53:03 PM
[Entertainment] Casey Affleck steps back into the spotlight Casey Affleck talks about acting opposite Robert Redford in "The Old Man and the Gun" and directing Elisabeth Moss in forthcoming movie "Light of My Life." (Aug. 9)
     
 
 
Published:8/9/2018 3:53:03 PM
[Politics] What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

President Trump, who is making a series of campaign stops for Republicans facing 2018 midterm election battles, will be in Central Ohio tonight stumping for Republican House candidate Troy Balderson. Trump on Thursday attended a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to back Representative Lou Barletta’s challenge for the Senate seat of Democrat Bob Casey.

Rasmussen Reports invites you to be a part of our first-ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project.  Learn more about how you can contribute.    

Published:8/4/2018 6:30:17 AM
[2018 Election] Key to the Keystone State (Scott Johnson) President Trump traveled to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to speak at one of his patented campaign-style rallies last night. In this case he spoke in support of Senate candidate Rep. Lou Barletta, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Bob Casey on the ballot in November. Barletta is the former mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania. Read all about it in the devastating City Journal essay by Bob McElwee, “Chain migration comes to Hazelton.” Barletta made Published:8/3/2018 7:52:59 AM
[World] Donald Trump Rally in Pennsylvania: Rips Bob Casey as Sleepin' Bob Supporting Lou Barletta

President Donald Trump ripped incumbent Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. at a rally for 2018 challenger Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazleton).

Published:8/2/2018 7:20:47 PM
[Markets] Debunking The Putin Panic With Stephen Cohen

Via TheRealNews.com,

Part 1

President Trump’s warm words for Vladimir Putin and his failure to endorse U.S. intelligence community claims about alleged Russian meddling have been called “treasonous” and the cause of a “national security crisis.” There is a crisis, says Prof. Stephen F. Cohen, but one of our own making...

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate.

The White House is walking back another statement from President Trump about Russia and U.S. intelligence. It began in Helsinki on Monday, when at his press conference with Vladimir Putin, Trump did not endorse the claim that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. After an outcry that played out mostly on cable news, Trump appeared to retract that view one day later. But then on Wednesday, Trump was asked if he believes Russia is now targeting the U.S. ahead of the midterms.

DONALD TRUMP: [Thank] you all very much. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.

REPORTER: Is Russia still targeting the U.S. [inaudible]. No, you don’t believe that to be the case?

DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much, everyone. We’re doing very well. We are doing very well, and we’re doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia. And there’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. All you have to do is look at the numbers, look at what we’ve done, look at sanctions, look at ambassadors. Not there. Look, unfortunately, at what happened in Syria recently. I think President Putin knows that better than anybody. Certainly a lot better than the media.

AARON MATE: The White House later claimed that when Trump said ‘no,’ he meant no to answering questions. But Trump’s contradiction of U.S. intelligence claims has brought the Russiagate story, one that has engulfed his presidency, to a fever pitch. Prominent U.S. figures have called Trump’s comments in Helsinki treasonous, and compared alleged Russian e-mail hacking and social media activity to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. Those who also question intelligence claims or warmongering with Russia have been dubbed traitors, or Kremlin agents.

Speaking to MSNBC, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul declared that with Trump’s comments, the U.S. is in the midst of a national security crisis.

MICHAEL MCFAUL: Republicans need to step up. They need to speak out, not just the familiar voices, because this is a national security crisis, and the president of the United States flew all the way to Finland, met with Vladimir Putin, and basically capitulated. It felt like appeasement.

AARON MATE: Well, joining me to address this so-called national security crisis is Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. His books include “Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Soviet Russia,” and “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.” Professor Cohen, welcome. I imagine that you might agree with the view that we are in the midst of a national security crisis when it comes to Russia, but for far different reasons than those expounded on by Ambassador McFaul.

STEPHEN COHEN: There is a national security crisis, and there is a Russian threat. And we, we ourselves here in the United States, have created both of them. This has been true for years, and now it’s reached crisis proportion. Notice what’s going on. A mainstream TV reporter shouts to President Trump, “Are the Russians still targeting our elections?” This is in the category “Are you still beating your wife?” There is no proof that the Russians have targeted or attacked our elections. But it’s become axiomatic. What kind of media is that, are the Russians still, still attacking our elections.

And what Michael McFaul, whom I’ve known for years, formerly Ambassador McFaul, purportedly a scholar and sometimes a scholar said, it is simply the kind of thing, to be as kind as I can, that I heard from the John Birch Society about President Eisenhower when he went to meet Khrushchev when I was a kid growing up in Kentucky. This is fringe discourse that never came anywhere near the mainstream before, at least after Joseph McCarthy, that the president went, committed treason, and betrayed the country. Trump may have not done the right thing at the summit, because agreements were reached. Nobody discusses the agreements. But to stage a kangaroo trial of the president of the United States in the mainstream media, and have plenty of once-dignified people come on and deliver the indictment, is without precedent in this country. And it has created a national crisis in our relations with Russia. So yes, there’s a national crisis.

AARON MATE: Let me play for you a clip from Trump’s news conference with Putin that also drew outrage back in the U.S. When he was asked about the state of U.S.-Russia relations, he said both sides had responsibility.

DONALD TRUMP: Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago. A long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward, along with Russia, and we’re getting together, and we have a chance to do some great things. Whether it’s nuclear proliferation, in terms of stopping, because we have to do it. Ultimately that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.

AARON MATE: That’s President Trump in Helsinki. Professor Cohen, I imagine that this comment probably was part of the reason why there was so much outrage, not Just of what Trump said about the claims of Russian meddling in the election. Can you talk about the significance of what he said here, and how it contradicts the, the entire consensus of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment?

STEPHEN COHEN: I did not vote for President Trump. But for that I salute him, what he just said. So far as I can remember, no wiser words or more important words have been spoken by the American president about Russia and the Soviet Union since Ronald Reagan did his great detente with Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s. What Trump just did, and I don’t- we never know, Aaron, how aware he is of the ramifications of what he says. But in this case, whether he fully understood it or not, he just broke with, and the first time any major political figure in the United States has broken with the orthodoxy, ever since at least 2000. And even going back to the ’90s. That all the conflicts we’ve had with post-Soviet Russia, after communism went away in Russia, all those conflicts, which I call a new and more dangerous Cold War, are solely, completely, the fault of Putin or Putin’s Russia. That nothing in American policy since Bill Clinton in the 1990s did anything to contribute seriously to the very dangerous conflict, confrontation we have with Russia today. It was all Russia’s fault.

What that has meant, and you know this, Aaron, because you live in this world as well, it has meant no media or public dialogue about the merits of American policy toward post-Soviet Russia from Clinton, certainly through Obama. It may be changing now under President Trump. Not sure. It means if we don’t have a debate, we’re not permitted to ask, did we do something wrong, or so unwise that it led to this even more dangerous Cold War? And if the debate leads to a conclusion that we did do something unwise, and that we’re still doing it, then arises the pressure and the imperative for any new policy toward Russia. None of that has been permitted, because the orthodoxy, the dogma, the axiom, is Putin alone has solely been responsible.

So you know, you know as well as I do what is excluded. It doesn’t matter that we moved NATO to Russia’s borders, that’s not significant. Or that we bombed Serbia, Russia’s traditional ally. Or that George Bush left the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which was the bedrock of Russian nuclear security and, I would argue, our own. Or that we did regime change by military might in Iraq and Libya, and many other things. Or that we provoked the Ukrainian crisis in 2004, and supported the coup that overthrew a legitimate, elected, constitutional president there. None of that matters. Oh, it was kind of footnotes to the real narrative. And the narrative is, is that a Russian leader Vladimir Putin in power was a horrible aggressor. Killed everybody, somehow, with secret poisons or thieves in the night who opposed him. And began this new cold or even worse war with the United States.

No historian of any merit will ever write the story that way. It’s factually, analytically, simply untrue. Now Trump has said something radically different. We got here in these dire circumstances because both sides acted unwisely, and we should have had this discussion a long time ago. So for that, two cheers for President Trump. But whether he can inspire the discussion that he may wish to, considering the fact that he’s now being indicted as a criminal for having met Putin, is a big question.

AARON MATE: So a few questions. You mentioned that some agreements were made, but details on that have been vague. So do you have any sense of what concretely came out of this summit? There was talk about cooperation on nuclear weapons, possibly renewing the New START Treaty. We know that Putin offered that to Trump when he first came into office, but Trump rejected it. There was talk about cooperating in Syria. And, well, yeah, if I can put that question to you first, and then I have a follow-up about what might be motivating Trump here. But first, what do you think concretely came out of this?

STEPHEN COHEN: Well, look, I know a lot, both as a historian, and I’ve actually participated in some about the history of American-Russian, previously Soviet, summits. Which, by the way, this is the 75th anniversary of the very first one, when Franklin Roosevelt traveled to Tehran to meet Stalin. And every president, and this is important to emphasize, every president since Roosevelt has met with the Kremlin leader. Some many times, or several times. So there’s a long tradition. And therefore there are customs. And one custom, this goes to your question, is that never, except maybe very rarely, but almost never do we learn the full extent and nature of what agreements were made. That usually comes in a week or two or three later, because there’s still the teams of both are hammering out the details.

So that’s exactly what happened at this summit. There was no conspiracy. No, you know, appeasement behind closed doors. The two leaders announced in general terms what they agreed upon. Now, the most important, and this is traditional, too, by meeting they intended to revive the diplomatic process between the United States and Russia which has been badly tattered by events including the exclusion of diplomats, and sanctions, and the rest. So to get active, vigorous diplomacy about many issues going. They may not achieve that goal, because the American media and the political mainstream is trying to stop that. Remember that anything approaching diplomatic negotiations with Russia still less detente, is now being criminalized in the United States. Criminalized. What was once an honorable tradition, the pursuit of detente, is now a capital crime, if we believe these charges against Trump.

So they tried to revive that process, and we’ll see if it’s going to be possible. I think at least behind the scenes it will be. Obviously what you mentioned, both sides now have new, more elusive, more lethal, faster, more precise nuclear weapons. We’ve been developing them for a long time in conjunction with missile defense. We’ve essentially been saying to Russia, you may have equality in nuclear weapons with us, but we have missile defense. Therefore, we could use missile defense to take out your retaliatory capacity. That is, we could stage the first strike on you and you would not be able to retaliate.

Now, everybody who’s lived through the nuclear era knows that’s an invitation to disaster. Because like it or not, we’ve lived with a doctrine called MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction, that one side dare not attack the other with a nuclear weapon because it would be destroyed as well. We were saying we now have this primacy. Putin, then, on March 1 of this year, announced that they have developed weapons that can elude missile defense. And it seems to be true. In the air and at sea, their dodgy, darty, quick thing- but they could avoid our missile defense. So where we are at now is on the cusp of a new nuclear arms race involving more dangerous nuclear weapons. And the current START, New START Treaty will expire, I think, in three or four years. But its expiration date is less important that the process of talking and negotiating and worrying officially about these new weapons had ended.

So essentially what Trump and Putin agreed is that process of concern about new and more dangerous nuclear weapons must now resume immediately. And if there’s anybody living in the United States who think that that is a bad idea they need to reconsider their life, because they may be looking into the darkness of death. So that was excellent. Briefly. What I hope they did- they didn’t announce it, but I’m pretty sure they did- that there had been very close calls between American and Russian combat forces and their proxies in Syria. We’re doing a proxy war, but there are plenty of native Russians and Americans in Syria in a relatively small combat cell. And there have been casualties. The Russians have said at the highest level the next time a Russian is killed in Syria by an American-based weapon, we will strike the American launcher. If Russia strikes our launching pads or areas, whether on land or sea, which means Americans will be there and are killed, call it war. Call it war.

So we need to agree in Syria to do more than, what do they call it, deconfliction, where we have all these warnings. It’s still too much space for mishap. And what I hope it think Trump and Putin did was to try to get a grip on this.

AARON MATE: Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus at at Princeton University and New York University, thank you. And stay tuned for part two. I’m Aaron Mate for The Real News.

*  *  *

Part 2

Via TheRealNews.com,

There is much to criticize the Russian president for, says Professor Stephen F. Cohen of Princeton and NYU, but many US political and media claims about Putin are false – and reckless...

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate. This is part two with Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton. In part one we talked about the uproar over the Trump-Putin summit, and Trump’s comments about the U.S. intelligence community and about cooperation with Russia. Now in part two we’re going to get to some of the main talking points that have been pervasive throughout corporate media, talking about the stated reasons for why pundits and politicians say they are opposed to Trump sitting down with Putin.

So let me start with Jon Meacham. He is a historian. And speaking to CNN, he worried that Trump, with his comments about NATO calling on the alliance to pay more, and calling into question, he worried about the possibility that Trump won’t come to the aid of Baltic states in the event that Russia invades.

JON MEACHAM: And what worries me most is the known unknown, as Donald Rumsfeld might put it, of what happens next. Let’s say Putin- just look at this whole week of the last five, six days in total. What happens if Putin launches military action against, say, the Baltics? What, what is it that President Trump, what about his comments that NATO suggest thar he would follow an invocation of Article 5 and actually project American force in defense of the values that not only do we have an intellectual and moral assent to, but a contractual one, a treaty one. I think that’s the great question going forward.

AARON MATE: OK. So that’s Jon Meacham speaking to CNN. So, Professor Cohen, putting aside what he said there about our intellectual values and strong tradition, just on the issue of Trump, of Putin posing a potential threat and possibly invading the Baltics, is that a realistic possibility?

STEPHEN COHEN: So, I’m not sure what you’re asking me about. The folly of NATO expansion? The fact that every president in my memory has asked the Europeans to pay more? But can we be real? Can we be real? The only country that’s attacked that region of Europe militarily since the end of the Soviet Union was the United States of America. As I recall, we bombed Serbia, a, I say this so people understand, a traditional Christian country, under Bill Clinton, bombed Serbia for about 80 days. There is no evidence that Russia has ever bombed a European country.

You tell me, Aaron. You must be a smart guy, because you got your own television show. Why would Putin want to launch a military attack and occupy the Baltics? So he has to pay the pensions there? Which he’s having a hard time already paying in Russia, and therefore has had to raise the pension age, and thereby lost 10 percentage points of popularity in two weeks? Why in the world can we, can we simply become rational people. Why in the world would Russia want to attack and occupy Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia? The only reason I can think of is that many, many of my friends love to take their summer vacations there. And maybe some crazy person thinks that if we occupy it, vacations will be cheaper. It’s crazy. It’s beyond crazy. It’s a kind-.

AARON MATE: Professor Cohen, if you were on CNN right now I imagine that the anchor would say to you, well, okay, but one could say the same thing about Georgia in 2008. Why did Russia attack Georgia then?

STEPHEN COHEN: I’m not aware that Russia attacked Georgia. The European Commission, if you’re talking about the 2008 war, the European Commission, investigating what happened, found that Georgia, which was backed by the United States, fighting with an American-built army under the control of the, shall we say, slightly unpredictable Georgian president then, Saakashvili, that he began the war by firing on Russian enclaves. And the Kremlin, which by the way was not occupied by Putin, but by Michael McFaul and Obama’s best friend and reset partner then-president Dmitry Medvedev, did what any Kremlin leader, what any leader in any country would have had to do: it reacted. It sent troops across the border through the tunnel, and drove the Georgian forces out of what essentially were kind of Russian protectorate areas of Georgia.

So that- Russia didn’t begin that war. And it didn’t begin the one in Ukraine, either. We did that by [continents], the overthrow of the Ukrainian president in [20]14 after President Obama told Putin that he would not permit that to happen. And I think it happened within 36 hours. The Russians, like them or not, feel that they have been lied to and betrayed. They use this word, predatl’stvo, betrayal, about American policy toward Russia ever since 1991, when it wasn’t just President George Bush, all the documents have been published by the National Security Archive in Washington, all the leaders of the main Western powers promised the Soviet Union that under Gorbachev, if Gorbachev would allow a reunited Germany to be NATO, NATO would not, in the famous expression, move two inches to the east.

Now NATO is sitting on Russia’s borders from the Baltic to Ukraine. So Russians aren’t fools, and they’re good-hearted, but they become resentful. They’re worried about being attacked by the United States. In fact, you read and hear in the Russian media daily, we are under attack by the United States. And this is a lot more real and meaningful than this crap that is being put out that Russia somehow attacked us in 2016. I must have been sleeping. I didn’t see Pearl Harbor or 9/11 and 2016. This is reckless, dangerous, warmongering talk. It needs to stop. Russia has a better case for saying they’ve been attacked by us since 1991. We put our military alliance on the front door. Maybe it’s not an attack, but it looks like one, feels like one. Could be one.

AARON MATE: OK. And in a moment I want to speak to you more about Ukraine, because we’ve heard Crimea invoked a lot in the criticism of Putin of late. But first I want to actually to ask you about a domestic issue. This one is it’s widely held that Putin is responsible for the killing of journalists and opposition activists who oppose him. And on this front I want to play for you a clip of Joe Cirincione. He is the head of the Ploughshares Fund. And this is what he said this week in an appearance on Democracy Now!.

JOE CIRINCIONE: Both of these men are dangerous. Both of these men oppress basic human rights, basic freedoms. Both of them think the press are the enemy of the people. Putin goes further. He kills journalists. He has them assassinated on the streets of Moscow.

Donald Trump does not go that far yet. But I think what Putin is doing is using the president of the United States to project his rule, to increase his power, to carry out his agenda in Syria, with Europe, et cetera, and that Trump is acquiescing to that for reasons that are not yet clear.

AARON MATE: That’s Joe Cirincione.

STEPHEN COHEN: I know him well. It’s worse than that. It’s worse than that.

AARON MATE: Well Yes. There’s two issues here, Professor Cohen. One is the state of the crackdown on press freedoms in Russia, which I’m sure you would say is very much alive, and is a strong part of the Russian system. But let’s first address this widely-held view that Putin is responsible for killing journalists who are critical of him.

STEPHEN COHEN: I know I’m supposed to follow your lead, but I think you’re skipping over a major point. How is it that Joe, who was once one of our most eminent and influential, eloquent opponents of nuclear arms race, who was prepared to have the president of the United States negotiate with every Soviet communist leader, including those who had a lot of blood on their hands, now decide that Putin kills everybody and he’s not a worthy partner? What happened to Joe?

I’ll tell you what happened to him. Trump. Trump has driven once-sensible people completely crazy. Moreover, Joe knows absolutely nothing about internal Russian politics, and he ought to follow my rule. When I don’t know something about something, I say I don’t know. But what he just said is ludicrous. And the sad part is-.

AARON MATE: But it’s widely held. If it’s ludicrous-. But widely held, yeah.

STEPHEN COHEN: Well, the point is that once distinguished and important spokespeople for rightful causes, like ending a nuclear arms race, have been degraded, or degraded themselves by saying things like he said to the point that they’re of utility today only to the proponents of a new nuclear arms race. And he’s not alone. Somebody called it Trump derangement syndrome. I’m not a psychiatrist, but it’s a widespread mania across our land. And when good people succumb to it, we are all endangered.

AARON MATE: But many people would be surprised to hear that, because again, the stories that we get, and there are human rights reports, and it’s just sort of taken as a given fact that Putin is responsible for killing journalists. So if that’s ludicrous, if you can explain why you think that is.

STEPHEN COHEN: Well, I got this big problem which seems to afflict very few people in public life anymore. I live by facts. I’m like my doctor, who told me not long ago I had to have minor surgery for a problem I didn’t even know I had. And I said, I’m not going to do it. Show me the facts. And he did. I had the minor surgery. Journalists no longer seem to care about facts. They repeat tabloid rumors. Putin kills everybody.

All I can tell you is this. I have never seen any evidence whatsoever, and I’ve been- I knew some of the people who were killed. Anna Politkovskaya, the famous journalist for Novaya Gazeta was the first, I think, who was- Putin was accused of killing. I knew her well. She was right here, in this apartment. Look behind me, right here. She was here with my wife, Katrina vanden Huevel. I wouldn’t say we were close friends, but we were associates in Moscow, and we were social friends. And I mourn her assassination today. But I will tell you this, that neither her editors at that newspaper, nor her family, her surviving sons, think Putin had anything to do with the killing. No evidence has ever been presented. Only media kangaroo courts that Putin was involved in these high-profile assassinations, two of the most famous being this guy Litvinenko by polonium in London, about the time Anna was killed, and more recently Boris Netsov, whom, it’s always said, was walking within view of the Kremlin when he was shot. Well, you could see the Kremlin from miles away. I don’t know what within the view- unless they think Putin was, you know, watching it through binoculars. There is no evidence that Putin ever ordered the killing of anybody outside his capacity as commander in chief. No evidence.

Now, did he? But we live, Aaron, and I hope the folks who watch us remember this. Every professional person, every decent person lives or malpractices based on verified facts. You go down the wrong way on a one-way street, you might get killed. You take some medication that’s not prescribed for you, you might die. You pursue foreign policies based on fiction, you’re likely to get in war. And all these journalists, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, from MSNBC to CNN who churn out daily these allegations that Putin kills people are disgracing themselves. I will give you one fact. Wait. One fact, and you could look it up, as Casey Stengel used to say. He was a baseball manager, in case you don’t know.

There’s an organization called the Committee to Protect American Journalists. It’s kind of iconic. It does good things, it says unwise things. Go on its website and look at the number of Russian journalists killed since 1991, since the end of the Soviet Union, under two leaders. Boris Yeltsin, whom we dearly loved and still mourn, and Putin, whom we hate. Last time I looked, the numbers may have changed, more were killed under Yeltsin than under Putin. Did Putin kill those in the 1990s?

So you should ask me, why did they die, then? And I can tell you the main reason. Corrupt business. Mafia-like business in Russia. Just like happened in the United States during our primitive accumulation days. Profit seekers killed rivals. Killed them dead in the streets. Killed them as demonstrations, as demonstrative acts. The only thing you could say about Putin is that he might have created an atmosphere that abets that sort of thing. To which I would say, maybe, but originally it was created with the oligarchical class under Boris Yeltsin, who remains for us the most beloved Russian leader in history. So that’s the long and the short of it. Go look at the listing on the Committee to Protect Journalists.

AARON MATE: OK. So, following up on that, to what extent- and this gets a bit into history, which you’ve covered extensively in your writings. To what extent are we here in the West responsible for the creation of that Russian oligarchal class that you mentioned? But also, what is Putin’s relationship to it now, today? Does he abet it? Is he entrenched in it? We hear, often, talk of Putin possibly being the richest person in the world as a result of his entanglement with the very corruption of Russia you’re speaking about. So both our role in creating that problem in Russia, but then also Putin’s role now in terms of his relationship to it.

STEPHEN COHEN: I’m going to give you a quick, truncated, scholarly, historical perspective on this. But this is what people should begin with when they think about Vladimir Putin and his 18 years in power. Putin came to power almost accidentally in 2000. He inherited a country whose state had collapsed twice in the 20th century. You’ve got to think about that. How many states have collapsed that you know of once? But the Russian state, Russian statehood, had collapsed once in 1917 during the revolution, and again in 1991 when the Soviet Union ended. The country was in ruination; 75 percent of the people were in poverty.

Putin said- and this obsesses him. If you want to know what obsesses Putin, it’s the word ‘sovereignty.’ Russia lost its sovereignty- political, foreign policy, security, financial- in the 1990s. Putin saw his mission, as I read him, and I try to read him as a biographer. He says a lot, to regain Russia’s sovereignty, which meant to make the country whole again at home, to rescue its people, and to protect its defenses. That’s been his mission. Has it been more than that? Maybe. But everything he’s done, as I see it, has followed that concept of his role in history. And he’s done pretty well.

Now, I can give you all Putin’s minuses very easily. I would not care for him to be my president. But let me tell you one other thing that’s important. You evaluate nations within their own history, not within ours. If you asked me if Putin is a democrat, and I will answer you two ways. He thinks he has. And compared to what? Compared to the leader of Egypt? Yeah, he is a democrat. Compared to the rulers of our pals in the Gulf states, he is a democrat. Compared to Bill Clinton? No, he’s not a Democrat. I mean, Russia-. Countries are on their own historical clock. And you have to judge Putin in terms of his predecessors. So people think Putin is a horrible leader. Did you prefer Brezhnev? Did you prefer Stalin? Did you prefer Andropov? Compared to what? Please tell me, compared to what.

And by the way, that’s how that’s how Russians-. You want to know why he’s so popular in Russia? Because Russians judge him in the context of their own what they call zhivaya istoriya, living history; what we call autobiography. In terms of their own lives, he looks pretty darn good. They complain out him. We sit in the kitchen and they bitch about Putin all the time. But they don’t want him to go away.

AARON MATE: All right. Well, on that front, we’re going to wrap this up there. Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton. His books include “Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Soviet Russia,” and “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.” Professor Cohen, thank you.

STEPHEN COHEN: You forgot one book.

AARON MATE: I did not say I was reading your, your complete bibliography.

STEPHEN COHEN: It’s called-. It’s called “Confessions of a Holy Fool.”

AARON MATE: Is that true? Or are you making a joke.

STEPHEN COHEN: Somewhere in between. [Thank you, Aaron.]

AARON MATE: Professor Cohen, thank you. And thank you for joining us on The Real News.

Published:7/30/2018 11:04:03 PM
[Entertainment] When Will Game of Thrones Return and More Updates from HBO Peter Dinklage, GOT, Game of ThronesGame of Thrones season seven is probably, most likely, hopefully, less than a year away! President of HBO Programming Casey Bloys spoke to reporters during HBO's summer TCA press tour...
Published:7/25/2018 12:27:08 PM
[Politics] Trump-Backed Brian Kemp Wins Republican Nomination in Georgia Governor’s Race

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp defeated Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle in Tuesday's primary runoff to earn the Republican Party's nomination for governor.

The post Trump-Backed Brian Kemp Wins Republican Nomination in Georgia Governor’s Race appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/25/2018 12:23:25 AM
[0bd35ff0-d85f-4865-a846-a6099935293b] Trump endorsement triggers landslide victory in Georgia for GOP gubernatorial hopeful Brian Kemp Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of Georgia, a Republican who spent most of the past 12 years building up political chits under two different GOP governors, expected to become governor himself this year. Published:7/24/2018 11:27:49 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Trump-backed Brian Kemp wins Georgia GOP runoff for governor Republican voters chose Trump favorite Brian Kemp over Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the Georgia gubernatorial primary runoff Tuesday, picking a social conservative over a favorite of the GOP establishment.
Published:7/24/2018 8:28:11 PM
[Politics] Trump-Backed Candidate Kemp Wins GOP's Georgia Governor Nomination Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp claimed the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday after winning late endorsements from President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.Kemp, serving his second term as secretary of State, defeated Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in a... Published:7/24/2018 7:58:26 PM
[2018 Election] A wild one in Georgia (Paul Mirengoff) Today is the runoff election in Georgia to select the GOP nominee for governor. It’s a fascinating and hugely contentious race between Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The winner will face Stacey Abrams, a state legislator who is African-American. If Abrams wins, she will become the first African-American female governor in U.S history. Cagle was considered the front-runner on the GOP side. He raised several Published:7/24/2018 11:50:11 AM
[Markets] Trump To Announce Multibillion Stimulus For Farmers

Earlier this month we reported that not everyone was happy with Trump's trade war, and as a result of plunging commodity prices, especially soy, one group emerged as especially hard hit by the administration's tariffs: farmers.

Two weeks ago, we quoted Casey Guernsey, a spokesman for Americans for Farmers and Families, who said that "China dealt its latest blow to American agriculture today with threats of even more tariffs on the horizon. Following Canada’s tariffs on U.S. products earlier this week, America’s farmers and families are staring down a dark path with no signs of relief in sight. We are counting on the administration and Congress to reach a resolution on responsible trade policies -- before we’re forced to shut down our operations for good."

Many others joined in, begging the administration for relief: John Heisdorffer, a soybean grower from Keota, Iowa, and president of the American Soybean Association, said in a statement on the website:

"Soybeans are the top agriculture export for the United States, and China is the top market for purchasing those exports, The math is simple. You tax soybean exports at 25 percent, and you have serious damage to U.S. farmers."

Cheese producers were also hard hit, forced to discount their products to keep customers, with many putting orders put on hold and resulting in the biggest cheese inventory in US history.

"We have seen large drops in our dairy product sales prices at all levels," said Catherine de Ronde, economist for the Agri-Mark Inc. dairy cooperative. "It will create a significant backup of dairy products."

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst appeared on CBS' "Face The Nation" warning that: "farmer ranchers are “always the first to be retaliated against” in these types of “trade negotiations," adding that farmers have been put in “very vulnerable position.”

Meanwhile, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said that "there are real issues in our trade relationship with China that need to be addressed, but Iowa agriculture cannot continue to bear the brunt of the retaliation from our trading partners."

In short, America's farmers were getting ever more angry with Trump's policies.

* * *

This morning, Trump responded and according to Politico  "the Trump administration is planning to ease fears of a trade war by announcing later Tuesday billions of dollars in aid to farmers hurt by tariffs." The Washington Post puts a number to the aid: $12 billion.

Under the White House plan, the money will be disbursed in at least three ways, coming through direct assistance, a food purchase and distribution program, and a trade promotion program.

The plan, which has been in the works for months, seeks to ensure U.S. farmers and ranchers — a key constituency for President Donald Trump and Republicans — don’t bear the brunt of an escalating trade fight with China, the European Union and other major economies.

Trump, back in April, directed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to devise a plan to mitigate any financial damage to U.S. agricultural producers’ bottom lines that could result from the ongoing trade battles. But the administration has so far offered few details on the amount of aid that would be provided and how it would be distributed.

And since subsidies are merely another facet of trade warfare, expect China - which has also revealed similar subsidies to its own exporters - and especially Europe, to respond in kind shortly, as the tit-fof-tat global trade war continues.

Published:7/24/2018 9:52:23 AM
[World] Where Anthony Kennedy and Brett Kavanaugh diverge

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and the mystery of human life."

— Retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

And, thus, we read some of the most vacuous nonsense ever uttered ... Published:7/15/2018 3:37:11 PM

[Markets] Papa John's Tumbles After Report Of Founder's Racist Remarks

Shares of Papa John's tumbled on Wednesday to $47.80, the lowest price since February 2016, after after outspoken chairman and founder John Schnatter came under fire following a report from Forbes that he used the N-word on a conference call in May designed by marketing agency Laundry Service as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus" after he waded into the debate over national anthem protests and made several inflammatory comments against the NFL.

Papa John chairman and founder John Schnatter

On the May call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. He responded by downplaying the significance of his NFL statement. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n-----s,” Schnatter allegedly said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.

Schnatter also reflected on his early life in Indiana, where, he said, people used to drag African-Americans from trucks until they died. He apparently intended for the remarks to convey his antipathy to racism, but multiple individuals on the call found them to be offensive, the source said. After learning about the incident, Laundry Service owner Casey Wasserman moved to terminate the company’s contract with Papa John’s. -Forbes

Shares in the pizza chain have dropped 25% since news of the remarks was made public. 

Papa John's did not dispute Forbes' report on Wednesday, however they noted that "Papa John’s condemns racism and any insensitive language, no matter the situation or setting. ... We take great pride in the diversity of the Papa John’s family, though diversity and inclusion is an area we will continue to strive to do better."

As Bloomberg adds, the company's new CEO, Steve Ritchie, who replaced Schnatter in January, sent an internal memo to team members, franchisees and operators on Wednesday addressing the event, though without mentioning Schnatter by name.

“You may have read the media reports today tied to our company culture. We want to make it clear to all of you that racism has no place at Papa John’s,” according to the memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

“The past six months we’ve had to take a hard look in the mirror and acknowledge that we’ve lost a bit of focus on the core values that this brand was built on and that delivered success for so many years,” Ritchie said. “We’ve got to own up and take the hit for our missteps and refocus on the constant pursuit of better that is the DNA of our brand.”

The 56-year-old Schnatter founded Papa John's in Jeffersonville, Indiana after he installed a pizza oven at his father's tavern. The business eventually grew to over 5,000 locations with annual revenues north of $1.7 billion. 

Following the NFL anthem controversy, Schnatter stepped down as CEO when comments he made during the company's third-quarter conference call blaming the league for slow sales sent shares spiraling down 11% after hours - knocking $70 million off his estimated $700 million net worth. The company later apologized for the “divisive” comments.

Published:7/11/2018 11:24:16 AM
[Markets] Secret 2006 US Gov't Document Reveals Plan To Destabilize Syria Using Extremists, Muslim Brotherhood, Elections

Authored by Brandon Turbeville via ActivistPost.com,

As the Syrian government makes massive gains across the country, many are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Western destabilization and attempt to destroy the secular government of Syria by the United States and the West. However, it must be remembered that the goal to impose hegemony across the world by the Anglo-financier system is not some fly-by-night venture that cropped up in 2011 to be easily abandoned in 2018. Indeed, the plan to destroy Syria has spanned nearly four decades, only moving into high gear in 2011 under the Obama administration.

While the destabilization initiative did begin in earnest under Obama’s watch, the truth is that previous administration were also heavily involved in the planning of Syria’s destruction.

For instance, in 2006, TIME revealed a leaked two-page document circulating amongst key figures in the Bush administration that openly stated that the U.S. was “supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists” in Europe. The document made no bones about expressing hope that “these meetings will facilitate a more coherent strategy and plan of actions for all anti-Assad activists.”

The document also stated, according to TIME, that Syria’s legislative elections which were going to take place in March of 2007, “provide a potentially galvanizing issue for... critics of the Assad regime.” The document expressed an open desire to take advantage of that opportunity by suggesting an “election monitoring” plan where “internet accessible materials will be available for printing and dissemination by activists inside the country [Syria] and neighboring countries.”

The document also advocates for providing money to at least one Syrian politician who was allegedly intending to run in the election against Bashar al-Assad. The document also called for the funding of and implementation of “voter education campaigns” and “public opinion polling,” the first being “tentatively scheduled in early 2007.”

As TIME reported in December 2006 in the articleSyria In Bush’s Cross Hairs,

American officials say the U.S. government has had extensive contacts with a range of anti-Assad groups in Washington, Europe and inside Syria. To give momentum to that opposition, the U.S. is giving serious consideration to the election-monitoring scheme proposed in the document, according to several officials. The proposal has not yet been approved, in part because of questions over whether the Syrian elections will be delayed or even cancelled. But one U.S. official familiar with the proposal said: “You are forced to wonder whether we are now trying to destabilize the Syrian government.”

Some critics in Congress and the Administration say that such a plan, meant to secretly influence a foreign government, should be legally deemed a “covert action,” which by law would then require that the White House inform the intelligence committees on Capitol Hill. Some in Congress would undoubtedly raise objections to this secret use of publicly appropriated funds to promote democracy.

The fact that “critics in Congress and the administration” believed that the plan should be labeled a “covert action” means clearly that the plan was kept from members of Congress legally obligated to be informed of the plan. That doesn’t mean that certain members of Congress or all members of the “intelligence committees” were not aware of the plan but that these individuals were simply never officially informed of the plan’s existence.

Nevertheless, TIME reports that the document advanced a proposal to fund the destabilization efforts through the National Salvation Front and, of course, the Muslim Brotherhood. TIME reported,

The proposal says part of the effort would be run through a foundation operated by Amar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based member of a Syrian umbrella opposition group known as the National Salvation Front (NSF). The Front includes the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that for decades supported the violent overthrow of the Syrian government, but now says it seeks peaceful, democratic reform. (In Syria, however, membership in the Brotherhood is still punishable by death.) Another member of the NSF is Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former high-ranking Syrian official and Assad family loyalist who recently went into exile after a political clash with the regime. Representatives of the National Salvation Front, including Abdulhamid, were accorded at least two meetings earlier this year at the White House, which described the sessions as exploratory. Since then, the National Salvation Front has said it intends to open an office in Washington in the near future.

“Democracy promotion” has been a focus of both Democratic and Republican administrations, but the Bush White House has been a particular booster since 9/11. Iran contra figure Elliott Abrams was put in charge of the effort at the National Security Council. Until recently, Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of the Vice President, oversaw such work at the State Department. In the past, the U.S. has used support for “democracy building” to topple unfriendly dictators, including Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic and Ukraine’s [Leonid] Kuchma.

The plan to make “election monitoring” work to America’s benefit, the document states clearly that the plan to do so would have to be kept secret. It says, according to TIME, that “Any information regarding funding for domestic [Syrian] politicians for elections monitoring would have to be protected from public dissemination.”

TIME adds,

But American experts on “democracy promotion” consulted by TIME say it would be unwise to give financial support to a specific candidate in the election, because of the perceived conflict of interest. More ominously, an official familiar with the document explained that secrecy is necessary in part because Syria’s government might retaliate against anyone inside the country who was seen as supporting the U.S.-backed election effort. The official added that because the Syrian government fields a broad network of internal spies, it would almost certainly find out about the U.S. effort, if it hasn’t already. That could lead to the imprisonment of still more opposition figures.

Any American-orchestrated attempt to conduct such an election-monitoring effort could make a dialogue between Washington and Damascus — as proposed by the Iraq Study Group and several U.S. allies — difficult or impossible. The entire proposal could also be a waste of effort; Edward P. Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria who worked on the Iraq Study Group report, says that Syria’s opposition is so fractured and weak that there is little to be gained by such a venture. “To fund opposition parties on the margins is a distraction at best,” he told TIME. “It will only impede the better option of engaging Syria on much more important, fundamental issues like Iraq, peace with Israel, and the dangerous situation in Lebanon.”

Others detect another goal for the proposed policy. “Ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which Syria opposed, the Bush Administration has been looking for ways to squeeze the government in Damascus,” notes Joshua Landis, a Syria expert who is co-director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “Syria has appeared to be next on the Administration’s agenda to reform the greater Middle East.” Landis adds: “This is apparently an effort to gin up the Syrian opposition under the rubric of ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘election monitoring,’ but it’s really just an attempt to pressure the Syrian government” into doing what the U.S. wants. That would include blocking Syria’s border with Iraq so insurgents do not cross into Iraq to kill U.S. troops; ending funding of Hizballah and interference in Lebanese politics; and cooperating with the U.N. in the investigation of the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Senior Syrian government officials are considered prime suspects in Hariri case.

According to the document, money for the “election-monitoring” proposal would be channeled through the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a State Department program. TIME wrote,

According to MEPI’s website, the program passes out funds ranging between $100,000 and $1 million to promote education and women’s empowerment, as well as economic and political reform, part of a total allocation of $5 million for Syria that Congress supported earlier this year.

MEPI helps funnel millions of dollars every year to groups around the Middle East intent on promoting reforms. In the vast majority of cases, beneficiaries are publicly identified, as financial support is distributed through channels including the National Democratic Institute, a non-profit affiliated with the Democratic Party, and the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is linked to the G.O.P. In the Syrian case, the election-monitoring proposal identifies IRI as a “partner” — although the IRI website, replete with information about its democracy promotion elsewhere in the world, does not mention Syria. A spokesperson for IRI had no comment on what the organization might have planned or under way in Syria, describing the subject as “sensitive.”

U.S. foreign policy experts familiar with the proposal say it was developed by a “democracy and public diplomacy” working group that meets weekly at the State department to discuss Iran and Syria. Along with related working groups, it prepares proposals for the higher-level Iran Syria Operations Group, or ISOG, an inter-agency body that, several officials said, has had input from Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, deputy National Security Council advisor Elliott Abrams and representatives from the Pentagon, Treasury and U.S. intelligence. The State Department’s deputy spokesman, Thomas Casey, said the election-monitoring proposal had already been through several classified drafts, but that “the basic concept is very much still valid.”

A plan to destabilize Syria by means of funding political “opposition” as well as physical “opposition” in the form of Sunni Wahhabists and the Muslim Brotherhood is incredibly familiar. And it should be.

As journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his article, “The Redirection,” in 2007,

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

“Extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam” who are “hostile to America and sympathetic to al-Qaeda” are the definition of the so-called “rebels” turned loose on Syria in 2011. Likewise, the fact that both Iran and Hezbollah, who are natural enemies of al-Qaeda and such radical Sunni groups, are involved in the battle against ISIS and other related terrorist organizations in Syria proves the accuracy of the article on another level.

Hersh also wrote,

The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said...

This time, the U.S. government consultant told me, Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”...

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah...

In January, after an outburst of street violence in Beirut involving supporters of both the Siniora government and Hezbollah, Prince Bandar flew to Tehran to discuss the political impasse in Lebanon and to meet with Ali Larijani, the Iranians’ negotiator on nuclear issues. According to a Middle Eastern ambassador, Bandar’s mission—which the ambassador said was endorsed by the White House—also aimed “to create problems between the Iranians and Syria.” There had been tensions between the two countries about Syrian talks with Israel, and the Saudis’ goal was to encourage a breach. However, the ambassador said, “It did not work. Syria and Iran are not going to betray each other. Bandar’s approach is very unlikely to succeed.”...

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week, killing between six thousand and twenty thousand people. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”...

There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

Hersh also spoke with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shi’ite Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. In relation to the Western strategy against Syria, he reported,

Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.” Nasrallah told me that he suspected that one aim of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer was “the destruction of Shiite areas and the displacement of Shiites from Lebanon. The idea was to have the Shiites of Lebanon and Syria flee to southern Iraq,” which is dominated by Shiites. “I am not sure, but I smell this,” he told me.

Partition would leave Israel surrounded by “small tranquil states,” he said. “I can assure you that the Saudi kingdom will also be divided, and the issue will reach to North African states. There will be small ethnic and confessional states,” he said. “In other words, Israel will be the most important and the strongest state in a region that has been partitioned into ethnic and confessional states that are in agreement with each other. This is the new Middle East.”

The trail of documentation and the manner in which the overarching agenda of world hegemony on the behalf of corporate-financier interests have continued apace regardless of party and seamlessly through Republican and Democrat administrations serves to prove that changing parties and personalities do nothing to stop the onslaught of imperialism, war, and destruction being waged across the world today and in earnest ever since 2001. Indeed, such changes only make adjustments to the appearance and presentation of a much larger Communo-Fascist system that is entrenching itself by the day, particularly in the Western world.

Published:7/9/2018 11:16:34 PM
[Politics] Sen. Casey Comes Out Against Trump Nominee Before Pick is Announced

Democratic Senator Bob Casey announced Monday morning he would be opposing President Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, even though the president's choice for the nomination wouldn't be revealed for several more hours.

The post Sen. Casey Comes Out Against Trump Nominee Before Pick is Announced appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/9/2018 3:10:30 PM
[Markets] "Dark Path Ahead": Why American Farmers Dread The Trade War

While automakers - and their dealerships - are getting most of the headlines this week, the effects of the escalating trade war (sorry, officially a trade tantrum, or trade discussion according to The White House) between Presidents Trump, Xi, and Putin are rippling across numerous US industries - directly, and indirectly.

Makers of whiskey, cheese, auto parts and more are contending with the global tariff battle - but it is US farmers that appear to be suffering the most.

Casey Guernsey, a spokesman for Americans for Farmers and Families, says in emailed statement that:

China dealt its latest blow to American agriculture today with threats of even more tariffs on the horizon,”

“Following Canada’s tariffs on U.S. products earlier this week, America’s farmers and families are staring down a dark path with no signs of relief in sight”

“We are counting on the administration and Congress to reach a resolution on responsible trade policies -- before we’re forced to shut down our operations for good”

And he was not alone, American farm groups, companies and officials reacted as China’s tariffs on agricultural products went into effect on Friday.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst appeared on CBS' "Face The Nation" warning that"

...farmers, ranchers are “always the first to be retaliated against” in these types of “trade negotiations," adding that farmers have been put in “very vulnerable position.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says in statement on website:

“The continued escalation of trade tensions with China is having a real impact on Iowa farmers and businesses,”

“We have seen a significant drop in prices for both crops and livestock and this is creating even more stress and uncertainty during what was already a difficult time for the ag economy

“There are real issues in our trade relationship with China that need to be addressed, but Iowa agriculture cannot continue to bear the brunt of the retaliation from our trading partners”

 Jim Heimerl, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a hog farmer from Johnstown, Ohio, says in statement:

Tariffs from China, Mexico mean “40 percent of total American pork exports now are under retaliatory tariffs, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of U.S. pig farmers."

“We now face large financial losses and contraction because of escalating trade disputes. That means less income for pork producers and, ultimately, some of them going out of business."

“We need these trade disputes to end”

U.S. Wheat Associates says in statement on its website:

“Unable to accept the risk of escalating import prices, Chinese customers stopped making new purchases of U.S. wheat last March,”

“The exchange of punitive tariffs between Washington and Beijing today represents the next phase of what could be a long and difficult struggle that will likely inflict more pain before we reach an unknown resolution”

“Farmers are eager to move past this dispute and start trading wheat and other agricultural products again soon”

John Heisdorffer, a soybean grower from Keota, Iowa, and president of the American Soybean Association, says in statement on website:

“Soybeans are the top agriculture export for the United States, and China is the top market for purchasing those exports,”

“The math is simple. You tax soybean exports at 25 percent, and you have serious damage to U.S. farmers”

Cheese producers have had to discount their products to keep customers; some have had orders put on hold. Companies will struggle to find customers quickly for the extra cheese, given high reserves in storage and international competition, producers and analysts said.

"We have seen large drops in our dairy product sales prices at all levels," said Catherine de Ronde, economist for the Agri-Mark Inc. dairy cooperative. "It will create a significant backup of dairy products."

"We are going to see more significant impacts to inventory," said Tom Bailey, executive director of dairy for Rabobank, a food and agricultural lender. "We will struggle to move this product into other markets."

All of which fits perfectly with the fact that US stocks soared as the trade tariffs struck home

The impact on agricultural community comes at a particularly painful time as the suicide rate among American farmers is already soaring.

Agriculture

Finances are probably the most pressing reason: Since 2013, farm income has been declining steadily according to the US Department of Agriculture. This year, the average farm is expected to earn 35% less than what it earned in 2013.

"Think about trying to live today on the income you had 15 years ago." That's how agriculture expert Chris Hurt describes the plight facing U.S. farmers today.

Farmers are at the mercy of extreme weather like hurricanes that threaten crops to agricultural commodity prices that have fallen below breakeven production levels. And prices will likely only continue to fall as America's trading partners slap tariffs on American agricultural products.

 

Published:7/8/2018 10:05:48 PM
[Entertainment] Casey Kasem’s daughter on Stan Lee, elder abuse warning signs Kerri Kasem, daughter of Casey Kasem, discusses Marvel's Stan Lee and describes warning signs of elder abuse. (June 30)
     
 
 
Published:6/30/2018 9:13:20 AM
[World] Benghazi Terrorist Trial: Charles Woods Says Khattala Got Light Sentence

The father of murdered CIA contract officer Tyrone Woods reacted to the Benghazi attack "mastermind" getting sentenced to only 22 years in prison.

As FoxNews.com reported

Ahmed Abu Khattala, 47, a Libyan national, was sentenced Wednesday to 22 years in prison on federal terrorism charges for the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Through a statement from the Justice Department, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper announced the sentence on Wednesday in Washington.

Published:6/29/2018 6:09:30 PM
[Legislation] S. 3036 – Keep Families Together Act [full text]

By R. Mitchell -

S. 3036 - Keep Families Together Act

115th CONGRESS 2d Session S. 3036 To limit the separation of families at or near ports of entry. IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES June 7, 2018 Mrs. Feinstein (for herself, Mr. Schumer, Ms. Harris, Mr. Leahy, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Wyden, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Reed, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Carper, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Sanders, Mr. Casey, Ms.Klobuchar, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Warner, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Schatz, Mr. Murphy, ...

S. 3036 – Keep Families Together Act [full text] is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:6/19/2018 3:46:50 PM
[Markets] Splitting California Into 3 Pieces Is Long Overdue

As we detailed earlier, it now looks like California voters will have the chance to vote on whether or not the state ought to be split up into three pieces.

The Los AngelesTimes reports :

If a majority of voters who cast ballots agree, a long and contentious process would begin for three separate states to take the place of California, with one primarily centered around Los Angeles and the other two divvying up the counties to the north and south.

As Ryan McMaken, via The Mises Institute, notes, this latest move is just one of many efforts over many decades to split California up, and make its constituent parts more responsive to the people who live there. This effort, however, is more successful than past ones — for example, the 2016 proposed ballot measure breaking up California into six states. That one failed to qualify for the ballot.

To say the least, breaking up California into smaller pieces is something that is long overdue. The population of California is a massive 39 million, making it larger than either Canada or Peru. And the GDP produced by that state is enormous as well. If California were an independent country, it would have an economy larger than that of the United Kingdom.

This means the California government - which can (and does) skim off substantial portions of that wealth - is among the richest governments in the world.

Moreover, the government holds a monopoly of power over a vast area which includes some of the best real estate in the world. Much of North America's best coastlines, mountains, natural harbors, forests, and mountains are contained within California.

And, here's one of the best things about being a huge state (from the government's perspective): the government can make it extremely inconvenient to escape it: "You don't like our policies? Well, then, feel free to move hundreds of miles away to Phoenix or Reno."

It's no wonder then, that the government of California has been able to abuse its taxpayers so freely. California has one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, and many leave the state because of it. More and more, the state is become a playground for the wealthy who have enough of a surplus to endure what ordinary people cannot. Thanks to endless regulations on development via environmental regulations and other measures, housing supply has been artificially limited, and thus the cost of housing in California has skyrocketed. This has led to a situation in which, as the Sacramento Bee put it "California exports its poor to Texas... while wealthier people move in." But California apparently isn't exporting all its poor — the state has the worst poverty rate in the nation when the cost of living is taken into account.

And yet, the opponents of the new "Three Californias" ballot measure will surely be telling us that the status quo is perfectly fine. We'll be told that the political establishment in Sacramento ought not be punished for decades of mismanagement, and that it would be too "extreme" to separate hard-left northern California from the more politically moderate areas of the south and east.

A State Divided

Indeed, the state isn't nearly as united in its love of the dominant political agenda as we're supposed to believe. As recently, as 2008, the vote on the same-sex marriage measure Proposition 8 illustrated some meaningful divisions in the state. Opposition to the measure (i.e., support for gay marriage) enjoyed a majority only in the northern parts of the state and along the central coast. A majority of voters in the south supported the measure, and even a majority in Los Angeles County voted for the measure. Whatever one's opinion on the subject of marriage, the vote reiterated what has long been known: what we regard as "progressive California" has long been pushed primarily by Californians centered around the Bay Area and Silicon valley. While it would be silly to call Southern California a bastion of right-wing thinking, that fact is that Southern California is less about Hollywood than it is about miles upon endless miles of suburban neighborhoods filled with middle class people who have better things to do than push for Dianne Feinstein's latest political hobbyhorse. A middle-class insurance worker in an unglamorous LA suburb with three kids has precious little in common with a pair of Princeton-educated Silicon Valley workers who live a dual-income-no-kids lifestyle, and who bring to the state the "enlightened" views we've come to expect from upper-middle-class suburbanites with expensive designer college degrees.

Moreover, this latter group has been increasingly growing as the influential majority both in terms of population, and in the wealth and resources it can bring to the political game.

So, it's hard to not be sympathetic to Californians who might be happy to break free of the current political stranglehold and perhaps embrace a smaller, more flexible political community that might be slightly more responsive to local taxpayers and citizens.

California is the Poster Child for Un-Responsive Government

And it's easy to see why many Californians might regard their political system as un-responsive to their particular personal and regional needs: California has, by far, the most unrepresentative state government in the United States.

For every state legislator, there are more than 310,000 California residents. Second-place Texas, with 139,000 residents per legislator, doesn't come close. These numbers aren't even in the same league, though, with quite a few other states — including especially safe, wealthy, and healthy ones — like Minnesota, Utah, and Massachusetts. Those states have 1 legislator for every 23,600; 23,500; and 33,000 residents, respectively.

This is what passes for political representation in California's government.

As Gerard Casey has pointed out, the very concept of political representation is built on a pretty shaky foundation as is. It's implausible enough to claim that one person can truly represent the interests of 50 or 100 other people. But 20,000 people spread out over numerous communities, geographies and ethnic groups?

In some circumstances involving fairly uniform populations, even that might be something many people could swallow. But 100,000 people? 3000,000? That mere suggestion of such a thing should be regarded as laughable. And yet that is the foundation on which California's "democracy" is based. Its government, politically speaking, relies on the acceptance of the idea that the state's legislature of 120 people can "represent" 39 million people spread across 163,000 square miles. 

In practice, however, this idea is totally implausible, and the practical downsides are numerous as well.1 With such an unrepresentative scheme:

  • Large constituencies increase the cost of running campaigns, and thus require greater reliance on large wealthy interests for media buys and access to mass media. The cost of running a statewide campaign in California, for example, is considerably larger than the cost of running a statewide campaign in Vermont. Constituencies spread across several media markets are especially costly.

  • Elected officials, unable to engage a sizable portion of their constituencies rely on large interest groups claiming to be representative of constituents.

  • Voters disengage because they realize their vote is worth less in larger constituent groups.

  • Voters disengage because they are not able to meet the candidate personally.

  • Voters disengage because elections in larger constituencies are less likely to focus on issues that are of personal, local interest to many of the voters.

  • The ability to schedule a personal meeting with an elected official is far more difficult in a large constituency than a small one.

  • Elected officials recognize that a single voter is of minimal importance in a large constituency, so candidates prefer to rely on mass media rather than personal interaction with voters.

  • Larger constituent groups are more religiously, ethnically, culturally, ideologically, and economically diverse. This means elected officials from that constituent group are less likely to share social class, ethnic group, and other characteristics with a sizable number of their constituents.

  • Larger constituencies often mean the candidate is more physically remote, even when the candidate is at "home" and not at a distant parliament or congress. This further reduces access.

California epitomizes all of this. And it's even worse when we consider the California's Congressional delegation. For each US Senator in California, there are 19 million Californians. How much do you suppose a Californian's single vote is worth to each senator? Approximately zero. (In California, each Congressional district, by the way, contains more than 600,000 residents for each member.)

So, when we consider California's enormous size, coupled with its tiny political class, it's easy to see that political decision making occurs within a tiny, distant, and remote minority well insulated from the lives of ordinary people.

This is true most places, of course, but California takes this reality to an extreme.

The Benefits of Splitting up the State

While it certainly not a panacea, splitting up California into smaller pieces would be a step in the right direction for many reasons.

First of all, it would provide more options and choice to people living in California right now. Most Californians no doubt consider themselves to be "pro-choice" people. So why not embrace more "choice" among political regimes along the West Coast. With three Californias, current residents would more easily be able to relocate to a state that better fits their personal needs, without having to relocated hundreds of miles away. As its currently proposed, a resident of Los Angeles County who seeks to change the state government he lives under may relocate to Orange County. This isn't totally convenient, of course, but it's certainly more convenient and less disruptive than having to move to Tucson or Dallas or Denver.

Decentralization has also often been shown to increase efforts to attract wealth and capital to each jurisdiction. This in turn limits the extent to which governments are willing to raise taxes and crush business with burdensome regulations. This, after all, is the model that has been working moderately well in Switzerland for centuries.

And finally, splitting up the state would help put a dent in California's utterly unrepresentative and unaccountable political class.

Even after the split-up, the three Californias would still each be among the largest states in the US — and that would still come with all the problems with noted above. But, it's a place to start.

Moreover, there's no reason each new California would have to adopt the model of a tiny 120-member legislature as "Old California" does now. Those who are unreasonably attached to the status quo would no doubt object to a 400-person House of Representatives as tiny New Hampshire has now. But even with a 200-person House, as Pennsylvania has , for each of the new Californias — each with approximately 13 million people — the state's power would become a little less centralized, a little less insulated, a little less lofty.

For More:

Published:6/15/2018 9:52:39 PM
[Markets] When Will Gold's "Summer Doldrums" End? History Says Pretty Soon

Authored by John Rubino via DollarCollapse.com,

This has been a uniquely boring stretch for gold and silver – especially considering all the things going on in the world that ought to light a fire under precious metals. In just the past few weeks, the US started a global trade war, Italy elected a populist governmentemerging markets descended into yet another crisis, and inflation has risen from the dead – all of which would be expected to spook normal financial markets and send capital pouring into safe havens. But not this time, which leaves precious metals under the control of seasonal factors that have over the years generated the “sell in May and go away” rule-of-thumb.

So when do the summer doldrums end? Based on recent history, December is a pretty good bet. The arrows on the following chart mark the beginning of each year since 2014. Note how gold’s price frequently starts moving up either then or a few weeks before, in early December. This seasonal strength is due to Asian buying in anticipation of weddings and harvests, and though you’d think traders would anticipate – and therefore cancel – the cycle’s impact, it still seems to operate.

Prior to 2014 the pattern was slightly different. Here’s a chart from Casey Research showing gold’s average performance for each month between 1975 and 2013. September was by far the best month to buy, with January the second best, implying a eight-month window beginning in July in which buying was rewarded with at least short-term gains.

If the second pattern re-emerges, then we really don’t have long to wait at all. Maybe one more month and at most three, and gold bugs can start having fun again.

As always, though, deciding when to buy precious metals is just the first in a series of challenges. Choosing the right dealer is paramount (see here for a list of reputable ones), followed by whether to take delivery and store the metal at home or seek secure vault storage for gold and silver.

And then there’s the bullion vs mining stock question. The former is money which will hold its value over long periods of time (thus preserving your purchasing power) while the latter are investments that can rise by multiples of their original cost or disappear without a trace. Jay Taylor’s newsletter is a good source for intelligence on the explorers, the riskiest and potentially most profitable segment of the mining market.

Published:6/12/2018 8:06:33 PM
[230d7a6d-1771-47c7-9d19-78e801f493e3] Casey Anthony's mother emotionally storms off set with husband in new A&E special Casey Anthony's mother, Cindy, gets very emotional to the point where she is triggered to walk off set in a new interview special with her husband, George, about the infamous death of their granddaughter, Cayleee, 10 years later. Published:5/29/2018 10:36:29 AM
[Markets] How To Honor Memorial Day

Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

Memorial Day should be a time of sober reflection on war’s horrible costs, not a moment to glorify war. But many politicians and pundits can’t resist the opportunity...

Originally published on 5/24/2015

How best to show respect for the U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and for their families on Memorial Day? 

Simple: Avoid euphemisms like “the fallen” and expose the lies about what a great idea it was to start those wars in the first place and then to “surge” tens of thousands of more troops into those fools’ errands.

First, let’s be clear on at least this much: the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq so far and the 2,350 killed in Afghanistan [by May 2015] did not “fall.” They were wasted on no-win battlefields by politicians and generals cheered on by neocon pundits and mainstream “journalists” almost none of whom gave a rat’s patootie about the real-life-and-death troops. They were throwaway soldiers.

And, as for the “successful surges,” they were just P.R. devices to buy some “decent intervals” for the architects of these wars and their boosters to get space between themselves and the disastrous endings while pretending that those defeats were really “victories squandered” all at the “acceptable” price of about 1,000 dead U.S. soldiers each and many times that in dead Iraqis and Afghans.

Memorial Day should be a time for honesty about what enabled the killing and maiming of so many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and the senior military brass simply took full advantage of a poverty draft that gives upper-class sons and daughters the equivalent of exemptions, vaccinating them against the disease of war.

What drives me up the wall is the oft-heard, dismissive comment about troop casualties from well-heeled Americans: “Well, they volunteered, didn’t they?” Under the universal draft in effect during Vietnam, far fewer were immune from service, even though the well-connected could still game the system to avoid serving. Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, for example, each managed to pile up five exemptions. This means, of course, that they brought zero military experience to the job; and this, in turn, may explain a whole lot — particularly given their bosses’ own lack of military experience.

The grim truth is that many of the crëme de la crëme of today’s Official Washington don’t know many military grunts, at least not intimately as close family or friends. They may bump into some on the campaign trail or in an airport and mumble something like, “thank you for your service.” But these sons and daughters of working-class communities from America’s cities and heartland are mostly abstractions to the powerful, exclamation points at the end of  some ideological debate demonstrating which speaker is “tougher,” who’s more ready to use military force, who will come out on top during a talk show appearance or at a think-tank conference or on the floor of Congress.

Sharing the Burden?

We should be honest about this reality, especially on Memorial Day. Pretending that the burden of war has been equitably shared, and worse still that those killed died for a “noble cause,” as President George W. Bush liked to claim, does no honor to the thousands of U.S. troops killed and the tens of thousands maimed. It dishonors them. Worse, it all too often succeeds in infantilizing bereaved family members who cannot bring themselves to believe their government lied.

Sheehan: Few like her. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Free Getty image)

Who can blame parents for preferring to live the fiction that their sons and daughters were heroes who wittingly and willingly made the “ultimate sacrifice,” dying for a “noble cause,” especially when this fiction is frequently foisted on them by well-meaning but naive clergy at funerals. For many it is impossible to live with the reality that a son or daughter died in vain. Far easier to buy into the official story and to leave clergy unchallenged as they gild the lilies around coffins and gravesites.

Not so for some courageous parents. Cindy Sheehan, for example, whose son Casey Sheehan was killed on April 4, 2004, in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, demonstrated uncommon grit when she led hundreds of friends to Crawford to lay siege to the Texas White House during the summer of 2005 trying to get Bush to explain what “noble cause” Casey died for. She never got an answer. There is none.

But there are very few, like Cindy Sheehan, able to overcome a natural human resistance to the thought that their sons and daughters died for a lie and then to challenge that lie. These few stalwarts make themselves face this harsh reality, the knowledge that the children whom they raised and sacrificed so much for were, in turn, sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, that their precious children were bit players in some ideological fantasy or pawns in a game of career maneuvering.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is said to have described the military disdainfully as “just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” Whether or not those were his exact words, his policies and behavior certainly betrayed that attitude. It certainly seems to have prevailed among top American-flag-on-lapel-wearing officials of the Bush and Obama administrations, including armchair and field-chair generals whose sense of decency is blinded by the prospect of a shiny new star on their shoulders, if they just follow orders and send young soldiers into battle.

This bitter truth should raise its ugly head on Memorial Day but rarely does. It can be gleaned only with great difficulty from the mainstream media, since the media honchos continue to play an indispensable role in the smoke-and-mirrors dishonesty that hides their own guilt in helping Establishment Washington push “the fallen” from life to death.

We must judge the actions of our political and military leaders not by the pious words they will utter Monday in mourning those who “fell” far from the generals’ cushy safe seats in the Pentagon or somewhat closer to the comfy beds in air-conditioned field headquarters where a lucky general might be comforted in the arms of an admiring and enterprising biographer.

A military band and flag-waving for America’s national religion at National Airport, Washington, May 26, 2018. (Photo by Joe Lauria)

Many of the high-and-mighty delivering the approved speeches on Monday will glibly refer to and mourn “the fallen.” None are likely to mention the culpable policymakers and complicit generals who added to the fresh graves at Arlington National Cemetery and around the country.

Words, after all, are cheap; words about “the fallen” are dirt cheap especially from the lips of politicians and pundits with no personal experience of war. The families of those sacrificed in Iraq and Afghanistan should not have to bear that indignity.

‘Successful Surges’

The so-called “surges” of troops into Iraq and Afghanistan were particularly gross examples of the way our soldiers have been played as pawns. Since the usual suspects are again coming out the woodwork of neocon think tanks to press for yet another “surge” in Iraq, some historical perspective should help.

Take, for example, the well-known and speciously glorified first “surge;” the one Bush resorted to in sending over 30,000 additional troops into Iraq in early 2007; and the not-to-be-outdone Obama “surge” of 30,000 into Afghanistan in early 2010. These marches of folly were the direct result of decisions by George W. Bush and Barack Obama to prioritize political expediency over the lives of U.S. troops.

Taking cynical advantage of the poverty draft, they let foot soldiers pay the “ultimate” price. That price was 1,000 U.S. troops killed in each of the two “surges.”

And the results? The returns are in. The bloody chaos these days in Iraq and the faltering war in Afghanistan were entirely predictable. They were indeed predicted by those of us able to spread some truth around via the Internet, while being mostly blacklisted by the fawning corporate media.

Yet, because the “successful surge” myth was so beloved in Official Washington, saving some face for the politicians and pundits who embraced and spread the lies that justified and sustained especially the Iraq War, the myth has become something of a touchstone for everyone aspiring to higher office or seeking a higher-paying gig in the mainstream media.

Campaigning in New Hampshire, [then] presidential aspirant Jeb Bush gave a short history lesson about his big brother’s attack on Iraq. Referring to the so-called Islamic State, Bush said, “ISIS didn’t exist when my brother was president. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out … the surge created a fragile but stable Iraq. …”

We’ve dealt with the details of the Iraq “surge” myth before both before and after it was carried out. [See, for instance, Consortiumnews.com’s “Reviving the Successful Surge Myth”;  “Gen. Keane on Iran Attack”; “Robert Gates: As Bad as Rumsfeld?”; and “Troop Surge Seen as Another Mistake.”]

But suffice it to say that Jeb Bush is distorting the history and should be ashamed. The truth is that al-Qaeda did not exist in Iraq before his brother launched an unprovoked invasion in 2003. “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” arose as a direct result of Bush’s war and occupation. Amid the bloody chaos, AQI’s leader, a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, pioneered a particularly brutal form of terrorism, relishing videotaped decapitation of prisoners.

Zarqawi was eventually hunted down and killed not during the celebrated “surge” but in June 2006, months before Bush’s “surge” began. The so-called Sunni Awakening, essentially the buying off of many Sunni tribal leaders, also predated the “surge.” And the relative reduction in the Iraq War’s slaughter after the 2007 “surge” was mostly the result of the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad from a predominantly Sunni to a Shia city, tearing the fabric of Baghdad in two, and creating physical space that made it more difficult for the two bitter enemies to attack each other. In addition, Iran used its influence with the Shia to rein in their extremely violent militias.

Though weakened by Zarqawi’s death and the Sunni Awakening, AQI did not disappear, as Jeb Bush would like you to believe. It remained active and when Saudi Arabia and the Sunni gulf states took aim at the secular regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria AQI joined with other al-Qaeda affiliates, such as the Nusra Front, to spread their horrors across Syria. AQI rebranded itself “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or simply “the Islamic State.”

The Islamic State split off from al-Qaeda over strategy but the various jihadist armies, including al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, [then] seized wide swaths of territory in Syria — and the Islamic State returned with a vengeance to Iraq, grabbing major cities such as Mosul and Ramadi.

Jeb Bush doesn’t like to unspool all this history. He and other Iraq War backers prefer to pretend that the “surge” in Iraq had won the war and Obama threw the “victory” away by following through on George W. Bush’s withdrawal agreement with Maliki.

But the crisis in Syria and Iraq is among the fateful consequences of the U.S./UK attack 12 years ago and particularly of the “surge” of 2007, which contributed greatly to Sunni-Shia violence, the opposite of what George W. Bush professed was the objective of the “surge,” to enable Iraq’s religious sects to reconcile.

Reconciliation, however, always took a back seat to the real purpose of the “surge” buying time so Bush and Cheney could slip out of Washington in 2009 without having an obvious military defeat hanging around their necks and putting a huge stain on their legacies.

Cheney and Bush: Reframed the history. (White House photo)

The political manipulation of the Iraq “surge” allowed Bush, Cheney and their allies to reframe the historical debate and shift the blame for the defeat onto Obama, recognizing that 1,000 more dead U.S. soldiers was a small price to pay for protecting the “Bush brand.” Now, Bush’s younger brother can cheerily march off to the campaign trail for 2016 pointing to the carcass of the Iraqi albatross hung around Obama’s shoulders.

Rout at Ramadi

Less than a year after U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi forces ran away from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, leaving the area and lots of U.S. arms and equipment to ISIS, something similar happened at Ramadi, the capital of the western province of Anbar. Despite heavy U.S. air strikes on ISIS, American-backed Iraqi security forces fled Ramadi, which is only 70 miles west of Baghdad, after a lightning assault by ISIS forces.

The ability of ISIS to strike just about everywhere in the area is reminiscent of the Tet offensive of January-February 1968 in Vietnam, which persuaded President Lyndon Johnson that that particular war was unwinnable. If there are materials left over in Saigon for reinforcing helicopter landing pads on the tops of buildings, it is not too early to bring them to Baghdad’s Green Zone, on the chance that U.S. embassy buildings may have a call for such materials in the not-too-distant future.

The headlong Iraqi government retreat from Ramadi had scarcely ended when Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ), described the fall of the city as “terribly significant” which is correct adding that more U.S. troops may be needed which is insane. His appeal for more troops neatly fit one proverbial definition of insanity (attributed or misattributed to Albert Einstein): “doing the same thing over and over again [like every eight years?] but expecting different results.”

As Jeb Bush was singing the praises of his brother’s “surge” in Iraq, McCain and his Senate colleague Lindsey Graham were publicly calling for a new “surge” of U.S. troops into Iraq. The senators urged President Obama to do what George W. Bush did in 2007 replace the U.S. military leadership and dispatch additional troops to Iraq.

But Washington Post pundit David Ignatius, even though a fan of the earlier two surges, was not yet on board for this one. Ignatius warned in a column that Washington should not abandon its current strategy:

“This is still Iraq’s war, not America’s. But President Barack Obama must reassure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the U.S. has his back, and at the same time give him a reality check: If al-Abadi and his Shiite allies don’t do more to empower Sunnis, his country will splinter. Ramadi is a precursor, of either a turnaround by al-Abadi’s forces, or an Iraqi defeat.”

Ignatius’s urgent tone was warranted. But what he suggests is precisely what the U.S. made a lame attempt to do with then-Prime Minister Maliki in early 2007. Yet, Bush squandered U.S. leverage by sending 30,000 troops to show he “had Maliki’s back,” freeing Maliki to accelerate his attempts to marginalize, rather than accommodate, Sunni interests.

Perhaps Ignatius now remembers how the “surge” he championed in 2007 greatly exacerbated tensions between Shia and Sunni contributing to the chaos now prevailing in Iraq and spreading across Syria and elsewhere. But Ignatius is well connected and a bellwether; if he ends up advocating another “surge,” take shelter.

Keane and Kagan Ask For a Mulligan

Jeb Bush: Sung his brother’s praises. (Sun City Center, Florida, on May 9, 2006. White House photo by Eric Draper)

The architects of Bush’s 2007 “surge” of 30,000 troops into Iraq, former Army General Jack Keane and American Enterprise Institute neocon strategist Frederick Kagan, in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned strongly that, without a “surge” of some 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops, ISIS would win in Iraq.

“We are losing this war,” warned Keane, who previously served as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. “ISIS is on the offense, with the ability to attack at will, anyplace, anytime. … Air power will not defeat ISIS.” Keane stressed that the U.S. and its allies have “no ground force, which is the defeat mechanism.”

Not given to understatement, Kagan called ISIS “one of the most evil organizations that has ever existed. … This is not a group that maybe we can negotiate with down the road someday. This is a group that is committed to the destruction of everything decent in the world.” He called for “15-20,000 U.S. troops on the ground to provide the necessary enablers, advisers and so forth,” and added: “Anything less than that is simply unserious.”

(By the way, Frederick Kagan is the brother of neocon-star Robert Kagan, whose Project for the New American Century began pushing for the invasion of Iraq in 1998 and finally got its way in 2003. Robert Kagan is the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the 2014 coup that brought “regime change” and bloody chaos to Ukraine. The Ukraine crisis also prompted Robert Kagan to urge a major increase in U.S. military spending. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”] )

What is perhaps most striking, however, is the casualness with which the likes of Frederick KaganJack Keane, and other Iraq War enthusiasts advocated dispatching tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers to fight and die in what would almost certainly be another futile undertaking. You might even wonder why people like Kagan are invited to testify before Congress given their abysmal records.

But that would miss the true charm of the Iraq “surge” in 2007 and its significance in salvaging the reputations of folks like Kagan, not to mention George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. From their perspective, the “surge” was a great success. Bush and Cheney could swagger from the West Wing into the western sunset on Jan. 20, 2009.

As author Steve Coll has put it, “The decision [to surge] at a minimum guaranteed that his [Bush’s] presidency would not end with a defeat in history’s eyes. By committing to the surge [the President] was certain to at least achieve a stalemate.”

According to Bob Woodward, Bush told key Republicans in late 2005 that he would not withdraw from Iraq, “even if Laura and [first-dog] Barney are the only ones supporting me.” Woodward made it clear that Bush was well aware in fall 2006 that the U.S. was losing. Suddenly, with some fancy footwork, it became Laura, Barney and new Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus along with 30,000 more U.S. soldiers making sure that the short-term fix was in.

The fact that about 1,000 U.S. soldiers returned in caskets was the principal price paid for that short-term “surge” fix. Their “ultimate sacrifice” will be mourned by their friends, families and countrymen on Memorial Day even as many of the same politicians and pundits will be casually pontificating about dispatching more young men and women as cannon fodder into the same misguided war.

[President Donald Trump has continued the U.S.’s longest war (Afghanistan), sending additional troops and dropping a massive bomb as well as missiles from drones.  In Syria he has ordered two missile strikes and condoned multiple air strikes from Israel.  Here’s hoping, on this Memorial Day 2018, that he turns his back on his war-mongering national security adviser, forges ahead with a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un rather than toy with the lives of 30,000 U.S. soldiers in Korea, and halts the juggernaut rolling downhill toward war with Iran.]

It was difficult drafting this downer, this historical counter-narrative, on the eve of Memorial Day. It seems to me necessary, though, to expose the dramatis personae who played such key roles in getting more and more people killed. Sad to say, none of the high officials mentioned here, as well as those on the relevant Congressional committees, were affected in any immediate way by the carnage in Ramadi, Tikrit or outside the gate to the Green Zone in Baghdad.

And perhaps that’s one of the key points here. It is not most of us, but rather our soldiers and the soldiers and civilians of Iraq, Afghanistan and God knows where else who are Lazarus at the gate. And, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

Published:5/28/2018 3:00:26 PM
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