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[2020 Presidential Election] Leftward Ho!—Over the Cliff? (Steven Hayward) I have a simple theory about why the Democrats’ 2020 presidential field is lurching so far and fast to the left. Now I know what you’re thinking: “It’s in their DNA, dummy!” Yes, this is true, but that hasn’t kept clever Democrats in the past like Bill Clinton, and even Obama to a large extent, from attempting—often with success—to conceal their leftism. This current crop of Democratic White House hopefuls Published:10/3/2019 11:18:14 AM
[Markets] Hillary Finally Admits She's A 'Real' Witch Hillary Finally Admits She's A 'Real' Witch

Perpetually aggrieved two-time presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is apparently an actual witch!  

Hillary, who has yet to endorse a Democratic presidential candidate amid rumors that she may throw her hat in the ring, now says that the renewed State Department investigation into her private server - which was allegedly blind-copying a Gmail address bearing the name of a Chinese company - is the 'real' Witch Hunt. Thus, making her a witch!

"It's a witch hunt," Clinton told NowThis News. "It's a real one, unlike the kind of things Trump talks about."

"It is meant to raise the specter about my emails, which were investigated endlessly," she said - adding the probe was "crazy like a fox" (perhaps because it would cast a shadow over her plans for a third bite at the apple?).

"If the Republicans and Trump and his supporters in the media can muddy the waters and raise all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories, then maybe people won't pay attention to the danger he poses to our country," Hillary added - apparently unaware that the country had been put through more than two years of investigation based on a "crazy conspiracy theory" about President Trump and Russia, which was aided by an infamous dossier she bankrolled. 

According to the Washington Post, the State Department has contacted approximately 130 officials whose emails which went through Clinton's special server have been retroactively classified and may now pose potential security violations - an investigation which began under President Obama

"This has nothing to do with who is in the White House," said a senior State Department official. "This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about 3½ years." And while the State Department said they are bound by law to adjudicate any violations, former Obama administration officials say the probe is a 'remarkably aggressive crackdown.' 

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, says it's a 'real' witch hunt.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/03/2019 - 08:33
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Published:10/3/2019 7:46:47 AM
[Entertainment] Barack and Michelle Obama's Love Story Isn't What You Thought It Was--It's Even Better Barack Obama, Michelle ObamaIf behind every great man there's an even greater woman, what sort of superlative should be reserved for Michelle Obama? Well, the former first lady might implore you to turn it down...
Published:10/3/2019 5:45:43 AM
[Markets] Brandon Smith: Trump Cannot Be Anti-Globalist While Working With Global Elites Brandon Smith: Trump Cannot Be Anti-Globalist While Working With Global Elites

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

In the summer of 2016 during the election campaign I examined the Trump phenomenon and how it relates to the globalist narrative. I concluded that Trump would be president based on the fact that having a (supposedly) hardcore nationalist and populist conservative in the White House over the next four years would in fact be highly beneficial to the elites. At the time the Federal Reserve was getting ready to tighten liquidity, which would inevitably lead to market volatility and a crash in fundamentals. By the end of Trump's first term, or perhaps at the beginning of his second term, the recessionary crisis would become obvious to the general public. Trump, and all conservatives, would be blamed for the resulting disaster that the banking elites engineered.

During the election it was unclear to me if Donald Trump was a puppet of the elites. He could have simply been a convenient scapegoat for the coming crash. Today, it is obvious that he is indeed controlled opposition.

As I've noted in numerous articles, Trump's associations with the globalists go way back. He was saved by the Rothschild banking family from crippling debts in multiple property developments in Atlantic City during the 1990's. The Rothschild agent that handled Trump's bailout was none other than Wilbur Ross, the senior managing director of Rothschild New York. Ross is now Trump's Commerce Secretary, which indicates that his relationship to the Rothschilds continues to this day.

In 2016 Trump offered positions in the White House to a vast array of global elitists, some of them from the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank whose stated goals include the erasure of borders and the end of national sovereignty. These members include:

Elaine Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation

Jamie Dimon, Member of Strategic and Policy Forum

Jim Donovan, Deputy Treasury Secretary

Larry Fink, Member of Strategic and Policy Forum

Neil M. Gorsuch, Supreme Court Justice

Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward, National Security Advisor (declined appointment)

Trump then went on to bring in long time elites with ties to the globalist establishment and the Federal Reserve such as John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Robert Lighthizer, Larry Kudlow, and Steve Mnuchin, etc. The list goes on and on...

During the campaign, Trump consistently (and rightly) criticized Hillary Clinton's many ties to the banking cabal, including her close relationship with internationalist banks like Goldman Sachs. He also made multiple criticisms against globalism.  Then, he argued that the economic recovery under Obama was actually a massive financial bubble – the markets were artificially propped up by the Federal Reserve's stimulus and low interest rates, and indicators like unemployment stats were rigged.  Again, this was all true.

Yet, after his election Trump proceeded to saturate his cabinet with the same banking elites he once attacked, and then he took FULL CREDIT for the markets and the fake employment and GDP numbers only months later.

Once in office, Trump suddenly abandoned his promise to indict the Clintons, and any pursuit of fighting the globalists fell by the wayside. Instead, Trump turned all his attention on China, opening the door to an economic war as a useful distraction for the globalists while they continued to pull the plug on financial life support. If Trump was going to do battle with the globalist establishment, why would he surround himself with so many elites and why would he hold up China as a primary threat instead of global banking institutions?

We still hear Trump talk about how the Federal Reserve is run by ignorant people, and how the “future belongs to patriots, not globalists”, but Trump's hyperfocus on the markets and the trade war with China do nothing to combat the globalist agenda. In fact, these actions help the globalists immensely.

Trump is sticking to the pattern of criticizing the Fed's higher interest rates as the cause of the economic downturn while AT THE SAME TIME continuing to take full credit for the same fraudulent economic data and the market bubble he once admonished.  What does this accomplish?  Well, Trump's job is to undermine conservatives and the liberty movement by pretending to be one of us.  His attacks on the Fed, while legitimate (in part), are meaningless if he maintains that he is the sole reason why the economy and the markets move.

In essence, the globalists are using Trump to delegitimize anti-Fed arguments by attaching him to those arguments AND the failing economy simultaneously.  As he falls from fiscal grace, the intent is that all anti-fed and anti-globalist arguments will die with him.  Who would want to take the same ideological stance as the man who brought the global economy to ruin?  Currently, the mainstream media is focusing on Trump's hypocrisy in demanding a weaker dollar after calling for a STRONGER dollar during his campaign.  They are also insinuating that Trump is trying to deflect blame onto the Fed while his trade war is the "real cause" of the recession.  I've been warning about this outcome for quite some time, and now it's happening.

Trump's bizarre behavior vindicates my deepest suspicions during the election – Trump is not just an unwitting scapegoat, he is a participant in the game, playing a theatrical role, a bumbling villain. In the script, he is the anti-globalist who trips over his own hubris and causes the downfall of the American empire. He is playing the pig-headed conservative that proves once and for all why conservative philosophy is “evil” and why the leftists were right all along. Part of his job is to co-opt the liberty movement, redirect its energies into pointless pursuits, and to make us look ridiculous or dangerous by the end of his presidency.

However, there is a bit of a conundrum forming for the elites...

Trump's true nature is slowly being revealed as we cross the point of no return on the economy and the "global economic reset".  When Trump openly supports Red Flag gun laws designed to usurp gun rights through back door confiscation, or when he commits to a military buildup by sending troops to Saudi Arabia in an obvious first step towards war with Iran, this causes many conservatives in the liberty movement to question Trump's loyalties (as they should).  The elites have to find a way to keep conservatives and liberty activists blindly riding the Trump train for as long as possible, for if we begin to question the narrative too soon, it becomes harder for them to draw us into supporting actions which will be blamed for the burgeoning economic and geopolitical crisis.

To be sure, some people in the liberty movement have attached themselves to Trump so completely that there is no escape.  They will now be tempted to double down on their defense of his actions and his associations, forever claiming that Trump is "playing 4D chess" and that he is "keeping his enemies close", no matter how insane these assertions are.  Some have even argued that conservatives should "go to war" if Trump is impeached.  This is foolish.  Most of us are NOT interested in fighting a civil war over Trump.  If we fight a civil war, it will certainly not be over a puppet of the banking establishment.

Some of these activists are well meaning, but they are playing right into the hands of globalists.  Others are so desperate to maintain relevancy that they will say anything to get attention.

It is vital that liberty activists understand that the Trump presidency is a psyop aimed first and foremost AT THEM. As the leftist media outlet Bloomberg once happily predicted in an editorial titled 'The Tea Party Meets Its Maker', Trump could absorb conservative movements (those they called the “Tea Party”) and destroy them once and for all.

Recent events and Trump's rhetoric are carefully staged to make him appear anti-globalist, but the aggressive nature of this propaganda was predictable. The elites have to draw conservatives back into the fold somehow, and so they are throwing as many crumbs as they can from Trump's table without him actually accomplishing anything in our favor.

Getting rid of John Bolton was the beginning of the latest psyop campaign, as Bolton represents a hated element among many liberty activists and the establishment had no choice but to finally reduce his footprint in the White House. However, this was too little too late, as many conservatives are already well aware of the many other elites permeating Trump's cabinet. He would have to get rid of ALL of them in order to impress us. And so, the elites moved on to phase two...

The latest Ukrainian scandal and the potential impeachment of Trump is a perfect example of globalist reverse psychology. Like Russiagate, the impeachment inquiry will likely go nowhere, and it's not meant to go anywhere.  The elites have no intention of removing Trump from office and they never did.  The purpose of the Ukraine scandal is actually twofold: 

First, it will indeed pull many conservatives back onto the Trump train as they assume the establishment is “out to get him” even though he is working directly with them.

Second, the Ukraine scandal will blow back on Joe Biden, removing him from the Democratic running for president, leaving the door open for either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.  The elites do not appear to want Biden in 2020 and are constructing a narrative in which he bows out of the race or loses extensive ground in the primaries.  I continue to predict, as I did in July, that Elizabeth Warren will be the Democratic candidate in 2020 (some people laughed when I suggested this in July...I don't see too many of them laughing now as Warren pulls into a virtual tie with Biden in the polls).  Whether or not this will translate to a second term for Trump, or the end of the line, it is too early to tell.

I would note, however, that Warren was the first Democratic candidate to suggest that an economic crash was on the horizon, and I believe this is setting the stage for her to become an "I told you so" candidate in 2020.  If this is the case, then Trump is probably slated to lose the election.

Another crumb thrown to conservatives is the sudden reopening of discussion on the Clinton emails.  This will lead some liberty activists to assume that MAYBE, this time, Trump is going to follow through on his claim that he would investigate and prosecute the Clintons.  I say this, though I think many reading this already know:  Trump is not going to touch the Clintons. But he will pretend he is looking into the matter if it helps lure conservatives back into the false narrative, but that is all.

Trump's UN speech in which he criticized globalism was the latest and perhaps the most blatant attempt to sucker conservatives into thinking maybe Trump is indeed “playing 4D chess”. He's not. Rather, Trump is playing the role he has always played, just as he played his role on WWE Wrestling, or his role in The Apprentice; it is Trump's JOB to attack the globalists, and it is their job to PRETEND to attack him. All the while the real targets of attack are conservatives, sovereignty activists and freedom advocates.

What is the purpose of this facade, this fake wrestling match between Trump and the elites? To get conservatives invested in a false paradigm, to co-opt our movement and our momentum, and ultimately to chain us to Trump's reputation and then drown us when he goes down. While activists wait around for Trump to take action against the globalists, they sit idle accomplishing very little. While activists put all their hopes in Trump as a solution to the globalist problem, they remain unprepared for the fallout when it's revealed that he was a complete waste of time. The masterstroke of the elites using Trump as a weapon is that ONE MAN might be able to nullify the activism of millions.

The solution?  To remain continually vigilant of Trump's rhetoric and policies and to call him out when he does anything that violates constitutional principles or anything that aids the globalists in their efforts to trigger an economic reset.  I have to laugh, because the globalists may have made a fatal error in relying on Trump as a means to bring down conservatives and the liberty movement.  By placing all their eggs in one basket (or all their strings on one puppet), they have left themselves open to influence by liberty activists.  The more we call out Trump on his strange behaviors, his connections to the establishment and his flip flopping, the less useful he is to them.  They will have to continually adapt their tactics to us (they already have been), or perhaps even postpone efforts to crash the markets or implement draconian Red Flag laws.  By our investigative efforts, we can buy time for the movement to grow, and this bodes ill for the elites in the long run.

*  *  *

If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE.

Tyler Durden Thu, 10/03/2019 - 00:15
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Published:10/2/2019 11:15:28 PM
[Markets] Key Words: Apple’s Tim Cook urges Supreme Court to preserve DACA In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Wednesday, top executives at Apple Inc. urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold DACA, the Obama-era law protecting the immigration status of those who came to America as the children of undocumented immigrants.
Published:10/2/2019 7:15:37 PM
[World] The political power debate about among those of faith looms large for Trump

The debate about political power and authority among those who profess the Christian faith has raged since the 1st century. In modern America, the debate raged throughout Jimmy Carter’s presidency and more recently through the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The debate now looms large for Donald Trump.

...
Published:10/2/2019 2:48:40 PM
[Markets] Ukraine Launched July Probe Of Military Hardware Sales By Adam Schiff Fundraiser Ukraine Launched July Probe Of Military Hardware Sales By Adam Schiff Fundraiser

Authored by retired Naval Intelligence officer J.E. Dyer via Liberty Unyielding (emphasis ours)

Igor Pasternak (L), Adam Schiff. Pasternak: Capitol Intelligence Ukraine video, YouTube

On Sunday 29 September, a theme was going viral on social media that a Ukrainian-American arms merchant, Igor Pasternak, has held fundraising events for Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).  Some other allegations about Pasternak – e.g., that he is closely tied to George Soros – don’t seem to have a paper trail that could be verified with online research.  But the report that Pasternak has done fundraising for Schiff is documented.

Although the widely-cited 2013 fundraiser was in Washington, D.C., Igor Pasternak’s company headquarters is in Montebello, California, on the east side of Los Angeles.  It’s near Schiff’s CA-28 congressional district, which lies to the north of it and encompasses major suburbs like Burbank and a chunk of Glendale.  Pasternak started the company in Ukraine in 1992, but immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 and established his California-based company, Aeros/Worldwide Aeros Corporation, shortly thereafter.

Aeros makes lighter-than-air (LTA) airships via its Aeroscraft arm.  That is its signature niche in the general aviation industry as well as its entrée to defense contracting.  Aeros has had contracts with the U.S. Defense Department to develop surveillance airships and cargo-delivery airships.  Pasternak, an engineer by training, has had a lifelong interest in what can be done with LTA vehicles.

The story about him as it stands right now is that he did little, if anything, in Ukraine in the 20 years between 1994 and 2014 (links below).  Then, when the Maidan Revolution erupted in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014, he went back to Ukraine and started cultivating ties with the defense industry there.  At that point, as is obvious from the document announcing the 2013 fundraiser, Pasternak was already giving aid and comfort to Adam Schiff.

In the Ukrainian political sorting after the invasion and partitioning of Crimea, one of the major developments in Kyiv has been reorganizing the government-directed defense industry conglomerate, known by its acronym Ukroboronprom.  Ukroboronprom coordinates the arms industry in Ukraine, in the same manner as similar entities in Russia, China, and a number of other countries.  Its centralized nature and arms portfolio mean it is always rife with corruption, but at the moment, the point is simply to introduce it to the reader.

In the course of establishing project-worthy contacts in Ukraine, Pasternak’s Aeroscraft had a couple of scores that, from the Aeros perspective, were big ones.  One is a joint project with an Ukroboronprom subsidiary industry group, Ukroboronservis, to produce a Ukrainian version of the M4 used by the U.S. armed forces (here and here).  That project is eye-catching because it involves producing rifles – not something Aeros has had a background in.

It’s a thing that makes you go, Hmm: inherently dubious, and on the face of it, one of the hallmarks of cronyism, like Hunter Biden being put on the board of an energy company when he has zero background in the field.

Perhaps it’s just a new tack for Aeros, into which Pasternak is putting zeal, energy, and investment dollars.  But it’s easy to imagine there were at least half a dozen other U.S. companies it would have made more sense to build NATO-ready rifles with.  (I’ve been unable to determine if Aeros simply subcontracted with one of them, and functioned chiefly as a go-between because of Pasternak’s Ukrainian background.)

The second project was right up Aeros’s alley, however.  It involved designing and installing an aerial surveillance infrastructure for a section of the Ukrainian border, in conjunction with another Ukroboronprom enterprise, SpetsTechnoExport.  Aeros had been working on such a project (link above) using aerostats, for the U.S. DOD.  The network installed in Ukraine ended up being mounted on towers in Mariupol, overlooking the Sea of Azov, rather than being deployed in an aerostat flotilla.  Petro Poroshenko, then president of Ukraine, was there for the inauguration ceremony of this border surveillance system in January 2017.

Igor Pasternak (R) at Ukroboronprom media event for inauguration of the border early warning and surveillance system installed for Ukraine by Aeros. Jan 2017. YouTube video

Fast-forward to July 2019, however, and the happy-face buzz about the border surveillance system wasn’t quite so happy anymore.  Some noteworthy developments occurred in the meantime, one of the most significant being a commitment by Ukraine to have corruption-ridden Ukroboronprom audited by an independent, outside firm; in particular, one of the global “Big Four” in which foreign investors would most readily put their trust (Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG).

On 2 July 2019, the Kyiv Post reported that in spite of the change of government with the 2019 elections (which brought Volodymyr Zelensky in to replace Poroshenko), and many months of preparatory work, both before and after the presidential election, the long-sought independent audit had not yet even started.

I ask you to remember that date: 2 July.  We’ll need it again for reference shortly.

Then, on 22 July 2019, Ukrainian media reported that the procurator for military investigations in the Ukrainian prosecutor-general’s office was probing the purchase by Ukraine of the Aeros border surveillance systemAdam Schiff’s sometime fundraiser found one of his two big projects in Ukraine under investigation for corruption: specifically, it appears, for an allegation that the system itself was not necessary for the procurement purpose; for an allegation that it had functionality problems; and for an allegation that the transaction involved embezzlement (although the latter charge doesn’t seem to be directed at Aeros).

It seems doubtful that President Trump knew about this relatively obscure development when he had his 25 July phone call with President Zelensky.  But it’s a strong bet that a lot of Democrats in the U.S. knew (such as political activist Alexandra Chalupa and her Ukraine-embedded network, which was so active in seeking dirt on Trump during the 2016 campaign).  As the link above indicates, Igor Pasternak had already posted a statement about the investigation at the Aeros company website (the date of the statement is 24 July).

Without judging the merits of the case one way or another – not even possible from outside the circle of facts and evidence – we can nevertheless suppose that this is a sensitive matter for Americans heavily invested in links with Ukraine.  It would color how such persons saw any push from the president, especially a president from the opposing political party, for more robust investigations by Ukraine.  It would be a reason to dislike or even fear such investigations.

It could be a reason for the paranoid to assume the investigations were meant to damage their interests.  It would have been on the minds of at least some Democrats when the “whistleblower” complaint was forwarded to Adam Schiff in the 12 August 2019 letter.  And, of course, if some of them already knew the complaint was coming before that date, they had that information and the knowledge of the Aeros transaction probe in Ukraine.  Make of that what you choose.

Arms, precise details, corruption, and the calendar

As the full timeline on this emerges, it’s important to keep some things straight.  They’re being obfuscated with reporting that seesaws between slovenly and tendentious, and I want to take a moment here for a reset.

The place to start is with the allusion to Javelin antitank missiles made by Zelensky in the 25 July phone call.  And the key point – a reference point for organizing our thinking about the whole matter – is that the sale of Javelins is not military aid to Ukraine.

I don’t recall ever seeing quite so much of a to-do made over one battlefield system as has been made over Javelin missiles in the last week.  The Javelins have been discussed repeatedly as if they are (a) part of the military aid package for Ukraine, and (b) the key to Ukraine’s survival, a weapon system of such occult indispensability that it would be unconscionable for the president to discuss it at all as if it were an unsavory political matter between heads of government.

First Javelin antitank missile launch in Ukraine, 2018. News from Ukraine video

The silliness of the latter proposition – point (b) – ought to go without saying.  But it has been a long time since people’s ears were attuned to the real sound of bilateral state-to-state relations.  The media and the public have been conditioned to listen for the mode of a benevolent superpotent United States dispensing favors, rather than the age-old give and take between governments seeking mutual interests and bargains – by far the more prevalent mode in such matters since the onset of the Westphalian era.

The sound of those dynamics is not that of a mob extortion (as opposed to the sound of Joe Biden’s account of getting the Ukrainian prosecutor fired – wherever it may have taken place –  which is, precisely, that of a mob extortion).

But since the inauguration of the UN, in the long period of the Pax Americana after 1945, we have lost touch with the simple normality of the sound of friendly bargaining.   The U.S. doesn’t give things away without strings or reciprocity in state relations.  We don’t expect other nations to either.  The sound of bargaining has been heard every day since 1945, in our negotiations for hundreds of state-to-state agreements around the world, even if it hasn’t been heard by the average American.

In the same interim, however, Americans have been taught to believe that with UN-oriented internationalism, global relations shifted to a more elevated plane where the virtuous don’t bargain, but instead proclaim lofty principles and assume attitudes, as if pragmatic national interests simply tend themselves.

Presidents like Reagan, Nixon, and Truman were actually tough, interest-tending bargainers, with friends as well as foreign adversaries.  That’s why each of them put such a stamp on geopolitics and international relations.  Far from being unthinkable, it’s not even unusual for a chat between heads of government to have the penumbras of incentive and reciprocity hanging over it.

It’s point (a), however, that we can nail down with the simple persuasion of clean documentation.  There is a military aid package for Ukraine that includes lethal weaponry in it.  It’s the one with $250 million worth of weapons and supplies in each of 2019 and 2020, and I discussed it here last week.

But the Javelins aren’t military aid.  We aren’t giving them to Ukraine; Ukraine is buying them.  There is a foreign military sales (FMS) case for them, which was approved in March 2018, and which yielded an initial delivery in late April 2018.

In the July phone call, Zelensky (not Trump) brought up the Javelins.  He brought up equipment that we are selling to Ukraine.  Neither Zelensky nor Trump even mentioned the aid package.  (Zelensky might be said to have alluded to it obliquely when he spoke of “your great support in the area of defense” – although he immediately continued with the single specific point about buying Javelins.)

There’s a good reason why the Javelins in particular would have been on Trump’s mind, as well as Zelensky’s.  On 7 July, the new U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Ukraine, William Taylor, told the media that Ukraine, under Zelensky’s leadership only since 20 May 2019, had just made its first major request for an arms purchase from the United States.  (Taylor was sent to assume the position of Chargé in June 2019, after the former ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, appointed by Obama in 2016, was recalled in May 2019.)

The best-known item in that July arms request, as confirmed by reporting about a month later on 9 August 2019, was the tranche of additional Javelins Kyiv would like to buy, above and beyond the initial purchase agreed to in 2018.

For completeness, note that in July 2018, a Javelin production agreement was signed by DOD and the Raytheon-Lockheed Javelin partnership that would support future sales to foreign clients including Ukraine.  The issue has been an active one in the Trump administration.

Now we have every data point we need to understand why there were good reasons, unrelated to the Ukrainian investigations Trump mentioned in the phone call, why the Trump administration might put a hold on the delivery of FY2019 aid to Ukraine.

The two big ones are the information that Ukraine had failed to even begin the promised independent audit of Ukroboronprom (deploy your bookmarked 2 July reference date here), and that Ukraine, under a new president, had made a major arms purchase request, the first of its kind (and a significant issue for review because of the plan to make Ukraine interoperable with NATO forces).

The time-stamps on those developments – early July – certainly suggest an explanation for why the Trump administration put a hold on the military aid in early July, as we have now been told several times.  If Ukraine wanted to buy more arms from the U.S., that alone was a reason to sit down and look at both the aid package and the purchase request together.  Add in the policy factors of the NATO compatibility push and Ukraine’s unresolved corruption problem in the defense industry – and add in the “X” factor of the leadership change at the embassy, certifying all these matters with a fresh look – and there’s a stack of good reasons at work.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Trump, Sep 2018. PBS News video

Keep in mind, the public doesn’t know what all was on Ukraine’s wish list for the arms purchase request Chargé Taylor spoke of in July.  You don’t have to favor Russia, and you certainly don’t have to trust Russia any further than you could throw Vladimir Putin, to want to do a full review of the arms the U.S. is flowing to Ukraine.  Such a review would be commonsensically indicated, in light of the arms request, the regional situation, and the interests of the U.S. and NATO vis-à-vis the expected concerns of Russia.  Far from being evidence of suspicious bias, holding such a review would be basic statecraft.

That’s something plenty of pundits would have been able to articulate as little as 25 years ago.  They would have known they should be looking for it; they would have recognized the signs in readily available media reports.  To point it out as a plausible explanation – an obvious act of ordinary housekeeping in global security management – wouldn’t have been considered special pleading.  It would have been considered sanity.

A hiatus from “history” has discombobulated our sense for these atmospheric realities.  That seems to make it easier for narrative-spinners in the mainstream media to take over the public dialogue with garbled tales of Javelins, treason, and plot.

It remains to be discovered what it means in all of this, that a fundraiser for a top House Democrat found his company’s arms sale to Ukraine under investigation there in July 2019.  For that, pointed questioning under oath may be required.  But it’s not Mr. Pasternak who needs to be questioned.

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/02/2019 - 11:00
Published:10/2/2019 10:13:23 AM
[Markets] Guns-For-Hire: No, The Government Shouldn't Be Using The Military To Police The Globe Guns-For-Hire: No, The Government Shouldn't Be Using The Military To Police The Globe

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison

Eventually, all military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome.

It’s happening again.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its best buyers and sellers. In fact, as Reuters reports, “[President] Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry.”

Under Trump’s leadership, the U.S. military is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

This follows on the heels of President Obama, the so-called antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who waged war longer than any American president and whose targeted-drone killings resulted in at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror.

Most recently, the Trump Administration signaled its willingness to put the lives of American troops on the line in order to guard Saudi Arabia’s oil resources. Roughly 200 American troops will join the 500 troops already stationed in Saudi Arabia. That’s in addition to the 60,000 U.S. troops that have been deployed throughout the Middle East for decades.

As The Washington Post points out, “The United States is now the world’s largest producer — and its reliance on Saudi imports has dropped dramatically, including by 50 percent in the past two years alone.”

So if we’re not protecting the oil for ourselves, whose interests are we protecting?

The military industrial complex is calling the shots, of course, and profit is its primary objective.

The military-industrial complex is also the world’s largest employer.

America has long had a penchant for endless wars that empty our national coffers while fattening those of the military industrial complex.

Aided and abetted by the U.S government, the American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth.

Although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world's population, America boasts almost 50% of the world's total military expenditure, spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined. Indeed, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

Unfortunately, this level of war-mongering doesn’t come cheap to the taxpayers who are forced to foot the bill.

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $32 million per hour.

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year.

With more than 800 U.S. military bases in 80 countries, the U.S. is now operating in 40 percent of the world’s nations at a cost of $160 to $200 billion annually.

Despite the fact that Congress has only officially declared war eleven times in the nation’s short history, the last time being during World War II, the United States has been at war for all but 21 of the past 243 years.

It’s cost the American taxpayer more than $4.7 trillion since 2001 to fight the government’s so-called “war on terrorism.” That’s in addition to “$127 billion in the last 17 years to train police, military and border patrol agents in many countries and to develop antiterrorism education programs, among other activities.” That does not include the cost of maintaining and staffing the 800-plus U.S. military bases spread around the globe.

The cost of perpetuating those endless wars and military exercises around the globe is expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053.

The U.S. government is spending money it doesn’t have on a military empire it can’t afford.

As investigative journalist Uri Friedman puts it, for more than 15 years now, the United States has been fighting terrorism with a credit card, “essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

War is not cheap, but it becomes outrageously costly when you factor in government incompetence, fraud, and greedy contractors.

For example, a leading accounting firm concluded that one of the Pentagon’s largest agencies “can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending.”

Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t much better for the spending that can be tracked.

Consider that the government lost more than $160 billion to waste and fraud by the military and defense contractors. With paid contractors often outnumbering enlisted combat troops, the American war effort dubbed as the “coalition of the willing” has quickly evolved into the “coalition of the billing,” with American taxpayers forced to cough up billions of dollars for cash bribes, luxury bases, a highway to nowhere, faulty equipment, salaries for so-called “ghost soldiers,” and overpriced anything and everything associated with the war effort, including a $640 toilet seat and a $7600 coffee pot.

A government audit found that defense contractor Boeing has been massively overcharging taxpayers for mundane parts, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overspending. As the report noted, the American taxpayer paid:

$71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents; $644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a 5,100 percent increase in price. $1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase. $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.

That price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire is a sad statement on how little control “we the people” have over our runaway government.

There’s a good reason why “bloated,” “corrupt” and “inefficient” are among the words most commonly applied to the government, especially the Department of Defense and its contractors. Price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire.

It’s not just the American economy that is being gouged, unfortunately.

Driven by a greedy defense sector, the American homeland has been transformed into a battlefield with militarized police and weapons better suited to a war zone. Trump, no different from his predecessors, has continued to expand America’s military empire abroad and domestically, calling on Congress to approve billions more to hire cops, build more prisons and wage more profit-driven war-on-drugs/war-on-terrorism/war-on-crime programs that pander to the powerful money interests (military, corporate and security) that run the Deep State and hold the government in its clutches.

Mind you, this isn’t just corrupt behavior. It’s deadly, downright immoral behavior.

Essentially, in order to fund this burgeoning military empire that polices the globe, the U.S. government is prepared to bankrupt the nation, jeopardize our servicemen and women, increase the chances of terrorism and blowback domestically, and push the nation that much closer to eventual collapse.

Making matters worse, taxpayers are being forced to pay $1.4 million per hour to provide U.S. weapons to countries that can’t afford them. As Mother Jones reports, the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Finance program “opens the way for the US government to pay for weapons for other countries—only to ‘promote world peace,’ of course—using your tax dollars, which are then recycled into the hands of military-industrial-complex corporations.”

Clearly, our national priorities are in desperate need of an overhauling.

As Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez rightly asks:

Why throw money at defense when everything is falling down around us? Do we need to spend more money on our military (about $600 billion this year) than the next seven countries combined? Do we need 1.4 million active military personnel and 850,000 reserves when the enemy at the moment — ISIS — numbers in the low tens of thousands? If so, it seems there's something radically wrong with our strategy. Should 55% of the federal government's discretionary spending go to the military and only 3% to transportation when the toll in American lives is far greater from failing infrastructure than from terrorism? Does California need nearly as many active military bases (31, according to militarybases.com) as it has UC and state university campuses (33)? And does the state need more active duty military personnel (168,000, according to Governing magazine) than public elementary school teachers (139,000)?

The illicit merger of the global armaments industry and the Pentagon that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us against more than 50 years ago has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation’s fragile infrastructure today.

The government is destabilizing the economy, destroying the national infrastructure through neglect and a lack of resources, and turning taxpayer dollars into blood money with its endless wars, drone strikes and mounting death tolls.

This is exactly the scenario Eisenhower warned against when he cautioned the citizenry not to let the profit-driven war machine endanger our liberties or democratic processes:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

We failed to heed Eisenhower’s warning.

The illicit merger of the armaments industry and the government that Eisenhower warned against has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation today.

What we have is a confluence of factors and influences that go beyond mere comparisons to Rome. It is a union of Orwell’s 1984 with its shadowy, totalitarian government—i.e., fascism, the union of government and corporate powers—and a total surveillance state with a military empire extended throughout the world.

This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the growth of and reliance on militarism as the solution for our problems both domestically and abroad bodes ill for the constitutional principles which form the basis of the American experiment in freedom.

After all, a military empire ruled by martial law does not rely on principles of equality and justice for its authority but on the power of the sword. As author Aldous Huxley warned: “Liberty cannot flourish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near-war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government.”

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/02/2019 - 00:05
Published:10/1/2019 11:09:26 PM
[Politics] Ari Fleischer Hits Hillary on Ukraine Quip on Colbert Show Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer slammed Hillary Clinton for joking she never had to advise former President Barack Obama not to restrict aid to foreign allies for negative information on political opponents, Newsmax's Todd Beamon reports. Published:10/1/2019 6:07:08 PM
[Security] 3 Obama Judges Deliver String of Losses to Trump’s Agenda on Illegal Immigration

Three Obama-appointed judges ruled in one day against immigration initiatives by the Trump administration, dealing blows to the president’s effort to contain the border crisis.... Read More

The post 3 Obama Judges Deliver String of Losses to Trump’s Agenda on Illegal Immigration appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:10/1/2019 5:07:48 PM
[Markets] The Conspiracies Are Broad And Deep The Conspiracies Are Broad And Deep

Authored by Doug “Uncola” Lynn via TheBurningPlatform.com,

The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition

– Saul Alinsky, “Rules for Radicals”

Accuse your enemy of what you are doing, as you are doing it to create confusion.

– Marxist maxim

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

– George Orwell, “1984”

I’m just a normal guy who started a blog three years ago, so I won’t claim to be officially credentialed for political commentary. I’m not a boots-on-the-ground reporter or even a writer, per se, although I was published nationally before my blogging career; just primarily pursuant to business and technical concerns.  Regardless, given our times, I feel I’d be remiss for not sharing my personal observations – even if that is all I have: observations.  Hence, the blog.

In past articles, such as “Breakfast Club: Dining with Friends”, and “The Persistence of Their Delusion is Despicable”, and “The Rants of the Libtards Ring Hollow then Echo”, I’ve written about my conversations with friends who are politically liberal; or, at least, more liberal than I.  This past weekend, another such conversation began during breakfast with a snide remark about the “deep state impeaching Trump”.  Of course, my democratic and Republican in Name Only (RINO) friends don’t believe in the deep state. But they do believe everything written in The New York Times and The Washington Post and that yours truly is an extreme right-wing, tinfoil-hat adorned, conspiracy theorist.

As I passionately decimated their arguments, they kept saying “let me speak…, let me speak” right up to the point a thirty-something young lady dining at an adjacent table with her husband and young children jumped to my defense and yelled at my friends:  “You are the ones who keep interrupting HIM!”

I had to laugh at that, because at that point I was discussing how San Fran Nan (Pelosi) may have inconsolably angered the silent majority with her latest impeachment gambit derived from “Operation Ukraine”. And, this, just as the “Socialist Clown Show” plays nationwide during the Democratic Presidential Primaries.

I said: 

The Democrats have nothing. Absolutely nothing real to offer.”

The RINO kept trying to pin me down on the transcript of Trump’s July 25, 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with questions like:

“Did Trump, at first, financially hold up what Zelensky desired?”

“Did Trump request a favor from a foreign power that could be used against his U.S. political opponent, Joe Biden?”

“Was an agreement made?”

The main thrust being, according to the RINO, that these violated the U.S. Constitution, which the Democrat at our table claimed Pelosi was trying to protect.

Beyond the risibility of Pelosi’s concern for the Constitution, I refused to accept their premise that Trump was acting solely to benefit his 2020 election chances. He was, instead, I argued, on a mission to discover the origins of the now-debunked Russiagate Operation as well as rooting out the Obama Administration’s corrupt past involvement in Ukrainian affairs.

And this really goes to the heart of the American divide on Operation Ukraine. 

  • For those on the Political Left, who view Trump as a self-seeking traitor, this latest effort is merely the continuation of Operation Russiagate. 

  • For Trump supporters, however, the transcript of Trump’s phone call revealed a seemingly earnest effort to fulfill his 2016 campaign promises of draining the swamp and making America great again.

The American rift is, indeed, very real and the breach is growing wider.  In fact, it now appears to be a matter of survival for those on both sides of the political aisle and Trump’s mere single mention of the word “CrowdStrike” to the Ukrainian President is akin to the first shot being fired at Fort Sumter during the beginning of America’s first civil war.  For those unaware, CrowdStrike is the cybersecurity firm located dead center within the U.S. Intelligence Agencies’ Russiagate Operation which has maliciously undermined Donald Trump’s presidency for the last three years. The phony Russian “golden shower” dossier and unsubstantiated reports from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) contractor, CrowdStrike, represent what one might call razor thin or hanging by a thread “proof” of Russia’s alleged hacking of the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election.

Yet, exactly like Russiagate, the psychological defense mechanisms of Projection and Displacement are being utilized in this latest initiative, with the whistleblower in Operation Ukraine being the new “dirty dossier” of Operation Russiagate’s former glory days.

Furthermore, there is no doubt  that Operation Ukraine’s Whistleblower’s Complaint was quite carefully crafted with the vague legal objective of forcing Attorney William Barr to recuse himself from any ongoing investigations; or perhaps only from those inquiries regarding the involvement of U.S. intelligence officials colluding with foreign nations toward the goal of overturning a U.S. Presidential Election.  Or, it could be said that Operation Ukraine, at the very least, is meant to simultaneously defang Attorney General Barr both legally and in the eyes of the American public prior to any forthcoming Russiagate disclosures by Inspector General Michael Horowitz and U.S. Attorney John Durham.

In any event, like Russiagate’s dirty dossier, the carefully constructed CIA Whistleblower’s Complaint within Operation Ukraine is evidence of collusion and, in fact, meets the threshold for the text-book definition of “conspiracy”.

Still, most Americans remain fooled.

At a get together in a church on Sunday, I listened to an elderly gentleman and “youngish” female boomer lament the “toxicity” in Washington D.C.  Although no specific names were mentioned, it seemed to me they both blamed Trump – the woman in particular because she commented on how “diversity was a good thing” because, after all, her son-in-law worked at a plant that employed many people from India.  Nice people.  Good people.

Of course, so many Americans, including my breakfast friends, believe unity is obtained through diversity. Yet, at the same time, they eschew ideological diversity in favor of psychological conformity; even taken to the extremes whereupon melanin and genitalia supercede disparate thoughts and perspectives.

Just as many people today seek salvation through their tiny houses and smart cars, the Unity via Diversity crowd are self-justified by their virtue signaling. It really is like a religion. But a new religion that makes national borders immoral, parochial, and out of style.

And this is why Trump is considered to be a selfish pig by those who currently desire a new president.  Trump is a divider; a xenophobic racist. He builds walls instead of bridges.

Indeed, this last weekend was a reminder regarding the logic of the mob, as well as the difference between propaganda and conspiracy.  Most people don’twant to believe in conspiracy. Or, dare I say: “critical thinking”.  It’s just another reason why the intelligence of the American Body Politic should never be overestimated.

For many years now, Joe Biden’s maleficence in Ukraine has been known by anyone with a computer, an internet connection, and a modicum of curiosity; including, yours truly, a genuine nobody who wrote about it near 2.5 years ago in a piece entitled “Dogs of War: Fight to the Death”.  That article was posted just hours before the nation of Syria was bombed by Trump for the first time and my main point, now, is this:  If I (and others) knew about these events so many years ago, then that should remove anydoubt in anyone’s mind as to the continuing complicity of the Orwellian Media in these odious international affairs (then and now):

In November of 2013 when, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned an agreement on closer trade ties with the European Union and, instead, sought closer co-operation with Russia, it began a series of events which then transitioned into the natural gas wars of 2014, and the Ukrainian coup in February, 2014 during the winter Olympics of that year.

This all, in turn, caused Russia to make the decision to annex Crimea in March 2014. Then, Russia signed a $400 billion “Holy Grail” gas deal with China in May and this gave the Petrodollar a nice kick in the nuts.

In June of that year, Ukraine, at the behest of the Western globalists, refused to pay its gas bill to Moscow’s Gazprom, so Russia cut off their gas. Soon after that MH17 was shot out of the sky and Joe Biden’s son’s company began preparing to drill for shale gas in eastern Ukraine.

The “memory hole” in George Orwell’s 1984 was a chute connected to an incinerator and served as the mechanism by which the Ministry of Truth would abolish historical archives.  With Operation Ukraine, today’s Ministry of Truth needed to accomplish two primary goals:  First, to magnify Trump’s guilt while, secondly, whitewashing former Vice President Joe Biden (and son’s) previous “involvement” in Ukraine.

And this is exactly what has happened.  Trump has, once again, been slandered as guilty by the Orwellian Media just as Biden & Son were concurrently vindicated via articles such as these:

The gas tycoon and the vice president’s son: The story of Hunter Biden’s foray into Ukraine

‘Enough’: Trump’s ex-homeland security adviser ‘disturbed,’ ‘frustrated’ by Ukraine allegations, says president must let 2016 go

Former Ukraine prosecutor says he saw no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden

All of these headlines emerge on hundreds of millions of cell phones and devices, as the spin machines ceaselessly cycle.  At the time of this writing, stories are being generated about how Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, plans to hold President Trump “accountable”:

“The president used that opportunity to try to coerce that leader to manufacture dirt on his opponent and interfere in our election,” Schiff told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, referring to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“I can’t imagine a series of facts more damning than that.”

But, paradoxically, in 2018, Schiff was caught red-handed colluding with a foreign-power in order to undermine the President of the United States. The fact the congressman was pranked by Russian comedians is beside the point.  Schiff clearly cooperated with whom he perceived as foreign assets.  Why is this not considered relevant by the Orwellian Media? Obviously, some questions answer themselves.

Orwell’s memory-hole works overtime in America today, as propaganda reigns. These are, in fact, a double-whammy.  A one-two punch.

And most people don’t stand a chance.

Even if desktop reporters and internet sleuths wanted to discover the truth today, they would find it quite difficult. One reason, in the example of Operation Ukraine, is because search engines answering queries for “Biden’s Son” or “Hunter Biden” favor the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, which states the following about the gas company, “Bursima Holdings”, that previously employed Hunter Biden:

There is no evidence that Hunter Biden was ever under investigation by the government of Ukraine, or that Vice President Biden sought the removal of [prosecutor Viktor] Shokin to protect Hunter Biden or Burisma Holdings.

Now, if you research the online link-attribution listed at the end of that Wikipedia statement, you will see articles sourced to a think-tank identified as The Annenberg Public Policy Center as well as other Orwellian Media outlets.   The Annenberg Public Policy Center is subsidized by the University of Pennsylvania, and the Annenberg Foundation, with an office in Washington DC – and describes FactCheck.org as one of its “most notable initiatives”.

Fair and balanced? Probably not.

Furthermore, it is interesting that on Wikipedia’s “Hunter Biden/Bursima Holdings” section, the online encyclopedia very conveniently posts a “more information” link to their “Trump–Ukraine controversy” page – which has been growing every day, even now to the point of addressing various “conspiracy theories”.  These conspiracies include speculations regarding the leftist mogul George Soros, the CIA “whistleblower”, and the DNC cyber-security contractor Crowdstrike.  Accordingly, it appears very determined digital fingers are pointed at Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani as well as “right-wing discussion forums on the Internet” engaging in “disorganized speculation, racism and misogyny”; all the while very cautiously minimizing the Ukrainian shenanigans of the Biden boys.  Of course, the page is rife with many additional citations from The Washington Post and The New York Times as well.

No matter where one stands today in regards to American politics, one thing is very clear:  We are in the midst of a narrative war.

On September 27, 2019 Fox News host Tucker Carlson discussed Operation Ukraine in a direct way.  But if one searches Google or YouTube, it appears they have scrubbed it from their internet pages.  Here is the episode linked on another site, but if you search “Tucker Carlson tonight 9/27/19” you will see many disconnected clips all shortened to between 1 to 42 seconds; even if Tucker’s 9/27/18 full show (on the Kavanaugh affair!), past episodes, and tonight’s episode, all remain available on YouTube in their entirety.

It is possible the entire Operation Ukraine, also known as Russiagate Part Deux, could be the result of panic on behalf of The Establishment?  Could this be because Team Trump is about to go on offense?  Is Trump playing for real this time? Or, will the president just tweet away while the nation burns?

Projection and hypocrisy are, indeed, the standard modi operandi of both deep state operatives and wild-eyed collectivists. But one wonders how much of the silent majority actually understands what is happening now. Some recent polls showing Trump hovering around 50% could be indicating sympathy for the ever-harassed president among the great unwashed; even as CNBC has reported support for Trump’s impeachment inquiry rising.

And now it appears the stakes are higher than ever before as recent revelations seemingly illustrate Team Trump’s diligence in discrediting Operation Russiagate and the bogus investigation of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

One also wonders if these new Operation Ukraine allegations against Trump could be just another scene from the ongoing, never-ending, reality TV series that has, once again, been taken off “pause”.

Regardless, the plot thickens as things are just beginning to really heat up.

In January 2019, Nancy Pelosi’s strategic new rules for the 116th Congress created “her own mini DOJ inside the legislative branch” in order to ease congressional impeachment efforts against President Trump.  But also interesting, was how fast Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fast-tracked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s resolution to hand the CIA Whistleblower’s complaint to congressional intelligence committees:

One of the most pressing questions of the hectic Tuesday involved why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chose to counter his block-everything legacy and fast-track the resolution. (McConnell chose to “hotline” the motion, meaning he bypassed normal Senate procedures to move Schumer’s request to a vote without floor debate.)

It has also been reported that the U.S. Intelligence community “eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers must provide first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings” just weeks after Trump’s July 25, 2019 “Crowdstrike” phone call to the Ukrainian President.  Although, Wikipedia, and The Washington Post, and the Office of the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community has since labeled the alleged form change as a fake news conspiracy theory. This is because Operation Ukraine’s CIA Whistleblower used a “new form” utilized since May 24, 2018 that did “not require whistleblowers to possess first-hand information in order to file a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern” and that the CIA Whistleblower also claimed to possess “both  first-hand  and  other  information”.

Seems legit, right?

Nevertheless, is it possible Operation Ukraine is a trap? Obviously, but for whom?  Because if impeachment efforts fail, then the optics will be very bad for the Deep State and the Democrats – which could, very likely, result in Trump winning the 2020 Presidential Election.

Or it could all just be another Red vs. Blue cage fight as the exit doors are locked before the arena burns.

Stay frosty.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/01/2019 - 16:25
Tags
Published:10/1/2019 3:36:44 PM
[Markets] 5 Stories The Media Ignored While Dividing The Country With Greta Thunberg 5 Stories The Media Ignored While Dividing The Country With Greta Thunberg

Authored by Matt Agorist via ActivistPost.com,

The term pedophrasty is a relatively new word - not currently accepted by an official dictionary - but that has a powerful meaning in today’s political and media environment. Pedophrasty is an “argument involving children to prop up a rationalization and make the opponent look like an asshole, as people are defenseless and suspend all skepticism in front of suffering children: nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.” We have seen this tactic employed by both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum and it is, unfortunately, highly effective.

If you turned on your television last week, you likely saw 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. No one here at the Free Thought Project are climate scientists, so we will abstain from commenting on her agenda. However, neither is she. But I digress. The political and mainstream media machine’s exploitation of Thunberg is a perfect example of pedophrasty.

If Thunberg’s activism actually wakes people up to pollution and incites a peaceful and a voluntarily implemented environmental benefit — without ushering in a tyrannical climate change police state — we fully support her endeavors. Wanting to save the world is a noble cause and if children want to try to do that, by all means, have at it—just don’t take away anyone’s life or liberty in the process.

The subsequent sh*t storm that was sparked online by Thunberg’s coverage — entailing both support and hatred — however, is a different story.

It served as a perfect distraction to things that actually matter in our lives. As videos of Thunberg meeting with Barack Obama went viral (I’ll get to that irony in just a second), extremely important events unfolded around us, which were entirely ignored by the mainstream media.

Before I list these major stories passed over by the media, I would be remiss if I failed to point out the irony of the Obama/Thunberg meeting. Sorry.

Barack Obama advocated for, approved, and oversaw eight wars in various different countries which brought death and destruction to millions of innocent people. Under his watch, tens of thousands of warheads fell all over the Middle East ensuring a lifetime of pollution and suffering for the people who managed not to be blown up by them. What’s more, under his (and yes, Trump’s too) presidency, the US military contributed more pollution to the planet than 140 countries, combined. This has made the United States military the largest polluter on the planet. But, by all means, he fist-bumped Greta, so, all good man.

Back to the point.

As the media circus distracted and divided the masses, major stories unfolded and we felt it necessary to cover them. Below is that list.

1. CNBC Anchor Admits Building 7 Brought Down in ‘Controlled Implosion’

As Americans fought over who hated or who liked Thunberg more, a bombshell revelation on 9/11 was made.

On the 18th anniversary of 9/11 earlier this month, CNBC senior analyst and former anchor Ron Insana went on Bernie and Sid In the Morning on New York’s 77 WABC Radio to share his experience of being at Ground Zero on that horrifying day in American history.

As A&E for 9/11 Truth reports, approximately eight minutes into the interview, Insana made a statement regarding the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 — which collapsed late in the afternoon of 9/11 — that is truly stunning, especially considering his access to the scene and his job as a prominent news anchor:

Well, remember 7 World Trade had not yet come down. And so when I went down to the [New York Stock] Exchange that Wednesday morning [September 12], I was standing with some military and police officers, and we were looking over in that direction. And if it had come down in the way in which it was tilting, it would have wiped out everything from where it stood to Trinity Church to the Exchange to, effectively, you know, the mouth of the Hudson. And so there were still fears that if that building had fallen sideways, you were going to wipe out a good part of Lower Manhattan. So they did manage for one to take that down in a controlled implosion later on. And the Exchange was up and running the following Monday. [Emphasis added.]

To read why this is so important, click here.

2. Senator Behind Child Abuse Reform Arrested for Possessing, Distributing Child Porn

As Thunberg calls on politicians to implement climate change reform to save the planet for the future children, we’d be willing to bet she has no idea how many of these politicians couldn’t care less about the well-being of children. In case after horrifying case, the people responsible for implementing legislation that may or may not benefit the environment, are caught preying on children.

Proving this notion, this month, Senator Mike Folmer, from Pennsylvania, who was an advocate for child abuse reform—was busted distributing and possessing horrific child porn. Authorities launched their investigation into Folmer after they received a tip that he was uploading child porn to the popular website Tumblr.

The senator now faces a multitude of charges including sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility.

3. Instead of Arresting a Homeless Population, City Paying Them to Pickup Trash

As politicians argue over how to clean up their cities and help the homeless populations, one town stopped arguing and started doing. In a win win situation, homeless folks in Arkansas can get paid to clean up the city. Imagine that.

The Bridge to Work program started in April in Little Rock, Arkansas and pays homeless individuals $9.25 an hour to tidy up the metropolis and capitol city of the state.

Canvas Community Church runs the program which was only slated to last 6 months but it was extended due to its overwhelming benefit to both the homeless population and the environment. See what happens when you stop begging the government to make laws and start taking action yourself? It is pretty damn powerful.

4. Report Reveals DMVs Across the US are Selling Your Personal Info and Making Millions

The same government that people are calling on to “fix the planet” is the same government that wages endless wars and illegally spies on their citizens. Oh, and that largest polluter in the world thing mentioned above too. Somehow people keep forgetting these facts when asking the State to fix something.

A perfect example of this corruption surfaced this month as a new report showed that the power-tripping bureaucrats at DMVs across the country are selling your data to private entities.

This extremely personal information is easily obtained by private investigators, credit agencies, and data leeching companies like LexisNexis. According to its website, LexisNexis sells dozens of various reports to anyone who wants it, all of which contain information on you.

But we can totally trust these same people to help stop pollution, right?

5. A US Drone Massacred Dozens of Afghan Farmers as They Slept

Back to the war machine. You know, the largest polluter on the planet which the environmentalists are begging to fix the climate? Yeah, that one.

Earlier this month, after hundreds of pine nut farmers laid down to rest for the night, drone missiles rained down on them. The attack slaughtered 30 innocent civilian farmers as they rested from a long day’s work and mangled dozens of others. This attack ensured the future creation of terrorists, therefore ensuring years of war to come, all in a days work, I mean murder, yeah, murder.

Perhaps if we simply drone bomb the folks who want to drive gas cars, maybe then we can solve the problem of climate change. Who knows, it may be worth a shot. Fist bump, Obama?

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/01/2019 - 11:15
Published:10/1/2019 10:36:08 AM
[Markets] "Shoot. Me. Now.": New Insight Into Obama-Biden Relationship Offers Clues On Former President's Refusal To Endorse "Shoot. Me. Now.": New Insight Into Obama-Biden Relationship Offers Clues On Former President's Refusal To Endorse

An upcoming book chronicling the relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden reveals that the 'bromance' the two grew to share during the White House years has fizzled in the post-White House years, according to "Barack and Joe: The Making of an Extraordinary Partnership." 

Written by the Washington Post's nonfiction editor, Steven Levingston, Barack and Joe sheds light on trials and tribulations between the two very different politicians, which may explain Obama's refusal to endorse Biden's 2020 bid for the White House, according to the Daily Mail

The obvious answer is that Obama worked with the guy for eight years and knows he's a gaffe-prone, gropey, hair-sniffing racist with political baggage - but feel free to continue reading. 

While the two men did develop a strong affection for one another,  there were times Biden drove Obama over the edge as the book reveals a younger Obama once rolled his eyes at Biden's constant babbling, sending a note to his adviser saying: 'Shoot. Me. Now.' 

And it was a political embarrassment for Biden when Obama failed to step up and support his former vice president in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential races. -Daily Mail

In 2016, Joe was passed over in favor of Hillary Clinton - as Obama was reportedly more concerned about what a GOP victory would mean for his doomed health care program, among other things. 

"Joe, despite his many virtues, was just another white guy, one in a long line of American presidents — hardly the symbol of the Teutonic change that Obama hoped would mark his place in the history books," writes Levingston. 

"Barack had placed his bet on Hillary, the one he believed would confirm his revolutionary stamp on American's political culture - the first black president passing the baton to the first woman president.

As far as the 2020 election, Obama said in January 2019 that Democratic party leadership needed "new blood." 

Biden, meanwhile, said he doesn't want Obama's endorsement - stating that "Whoever wins the nomination should win it on their own merits," after Obama declined to support him. 

That said, Obama has met with other potential presidential candidates, including Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, prior to Biden's decision to run. 

What had been an unprecedented closeness between a president and vice president had changed.

'Now they were two high profile politicians considering their own futures' — and no longer brothers in arms they once were.

In the beginning, 'from a gaffe-meister, Biden had shaped himself into a conscientious, well informed partner to the president emerging as the heart to Obama's brain', write the authors.

Biden always had his eye on the Oval Office and made a promise to his son, Beau, when he was dying of brain cancer in 2015, that he would try for a third run for the presidency despite his lousy track record. -Daily Mail

The rest of the Daily Mail's article - along with Levingston's book - rattles off Obama and Biden's on-again / off-again trials and tribulations, such as the time Biden said of Obama "I mean you got the first sort of mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," to which Obama noted that there had been prior black presidential candidates - all of whom were (arguably) articulate - Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm and Al Sharpton.  

When Obama picked Biden as his running mate, he said "I love this guy and he's got heart." 

Now, Biden has nothing but problems - and there's no sign of Obama's aforementioned love for him.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/30/2019 - 21:25
Tags
Published:9/30/2019 8:34:01 PM
[Markets] Jim Kunstler Warns "Civil War On!" Jim Kunstler Warns "Civil War On!"

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Someone in Impeachmentville is not paying attention. Of course, diverting the rubes is exactly the point of the latest CIA operation to negate the 2016 election. Has nobody noticed that there is treaty between Ukraine and the USA, signed at Kiev in 1998 and ratified by the US Senate in 2000. It’s an agreement on “Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.” Here, read the cover letter for yourself:

What part of the following do Nancy Pelosi and the news media not understand?

The Treaty is self-executing. It provides for a broad range of cooperation in criminal matters. Mutual assistance available under the Treaty includes: taking of testimony or statements of persons; providing documents, records, and articles of evidence; serving documents; locating or identifying persons; transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes; executing requests for searches and seizures; assisting in proceedings related to restraint, confiscation, forfeiture of assets, restitution, and collection of fines; and any other form of assistance not prohibited by the laws of the requested state… ([etc].

How does this not permit Mr. Trump asking the president of Ukraine for “assistance” in criminal matters arising out of “collusion with Russia,” as specified within the scope of Robert Mueller’s special prosecutor activities? For instance, the matter of CrowdStrike. The cybersecurity firm was co-founded by Russian ex-pat Dmitri Alperovitch, who also happens to be a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, an anti-Russian think tank funded by Ukrainian billionaire, Viktor Pinchuk, who donated at least $25 million to the Clinton Foundation before the 2016 election. Crowdstrike was the company that “examined” the supposedly hacked DNC servers, while somebody in the Obama administration prevented the FBI from ever seeing them. Does this sound a little like part of the origin story of RussiaGate? Is that not exactly the potential criminal matter that the current attorney general, Mr. Barr, is officially investigating?

Perhaps, under the year 2000 treaty, Mr. Trump was within his rights to ask the new President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, for assistance on that. And also, the question of former vice-president Joe Biden’s levering US aid to Ukraine in his demand to fire the prosecutor investigating the company, Burisma Holdings, that just happened to hire his son, Hunter, to a $64,000-a-month seat on the board of directors, not long after the younger Mr. Biden was kicked out of the US Navy reserve for cocaine use — what a sterling fellow!

The foregoing ought to be self-evident. Speaking of failures to pay attention, Director of National Security (DNI) Joseph McGuire testified in Rep. Adam Schiff’s House Intel Committee last Thursday that the “Whistleblower” and his or her allies in the Intelligence Community who fomented the latest crisis “acted in good faith.” Admiral McGuire omitted to mention that the IC’s Whistleblower complaint rules were surreptitiously changed sometime around August 2019 to allow second-hand hearsay in Urgent Matter” complaints, where formerly it had been prohibited. The change was only posted on an IC website on Sept 24. Did Admiral McGuire not get the memo on that? Was he out of the loop? After all, he is merely in charge of the entirety of US Intelligence operations. Who kept him in the dark?

Now there is yet another new “bombshell” out of the CBS 60-Minutes show (reported by Scott Pelley) alleging that the “Whistleblower” had been placed under federal protection due to “threats” made against him or her. We’re to infer that the “Whistleblower” is in a safe space— perhaps hiding out in the CIA’s Diversity and Inclusion offices, with some teddy bears, crayons, and chips ahoy to keep the heebie-jeebies away. Only, one of the “Whistleblower’s” own lawyers, Mark S. Zaid released a letter today saying that the 60-Minutes report was “not accurate and misinterpreted the contents of our [earlier] letter.” Mr. Zaid added in a tweet that CBS was “literally making stuff up.”

Well, let CBS and the “Whistleblower’s” pro bono lawyers slug that one out in some safe space. More to the point, how long do you suppose the charade of protecting the “Whistleblower’s” identity will go on? If impeachment moves to a trial in the senate, Mr. Trump will enjoy the right of being faced by his accuser. But I don’t think we will have to wait that long. Rep. Schiff (D-CA) has already declared that this person will be called into a closed session of his committee. The chance is about zero that his or her identify will remain unknown. By and by, the “whistleblower’s” confederates in the CIA will also become known and the perfidy of this latest CIA operation in the ongoing coup will be understood.

UkraineGate is the equivalent of Fort Sumter in Civil War 2.0. Charges have been flying and tempers flaring for three years now, much as they did between 1858 and 1861. Once again, what seems to be at stake is the integrity of the Union. As in the previous enactment, one side is dangerously deluded, and that is liable to lead to its destruction.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/30/2019 - 13:40
Published:9/30/2019 1:00:54 PM
[Politics] 39% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending September 26.

This week’s finding is down four points from a week ago. By comparison, this number ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

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

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from September 22-26, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 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:9/30/2019 11:30:33 AM
[Markets] Hunter Biden Must Be Investigated According To Former Ukraine PM Hunter Biden Must Be Investigated According To Former Ukraine PM

Ukraine's former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has called for an investigation into Hunter Biden and his role as a highly compensated board member at a Ukrainian gas company while his father was the sitting US Vice President, Azarov told Reuters

Two months after he was kicked out of the navy for cocaine use (and before he had sex with his dead brother's wife, and returned a rental car with a crack pipe to an Arizona Hertz), Hunter - who had no experience in the energy sector, was appointed to the board of Burisma for $600,000 per year, where he sat alongside career CIA spook Joseph Cofer Black - Sen. Mitt Romney's (R-UT) 2012 pick for national security adviser in his failed presidential run against Barack Obama. 

Hunter Biden’s role in the company, Burisma Holdings Limited, is in focus after the White House released a memo showing U.S. President Donald Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a July phone call to get prosecutors to look into his activities. Zelenskiy agreed.

“It’s a fact (his directorship and fees) and not made up. It should be investigated so that the ‘i’s can be dotted and the ‘t’s crossed,” Azarov told Reuters. -Reuters

On Friday, Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau said that it was investigating Burisma's activities between 2010 and 2013, though it was not looking into the period which includes 2014 when Hunter Biden joined its board, leaving in 2018 according to corporate filings.  

Azarov served as prime minister from 2010 - 2014, and is himself under investigation by Ukrainian authorities for allegations that he abused his office. A 2015 Interpol red notice issued at the request of Ukrainian authorities during the (Biden / Obama - friendly) Poroshenko administration accuses Azarov of embezzlement and misappropriation. He has denied all wrongdoing, while Reuters said they could not determine whether there was an active investigation going on. 

Azarov said he was not aware of any evidence suggesting wrongdoing on Hunter Biden’s part, but said it was in the Ukrainian public interest to ascertain the legality of his activities.

In particular, he said it was important to investigate what Biden had done for Burisma to justify his remuneration from Burisma.

The younger Biden has said he consulted for Burisma, but critics have suggested he was not doing actual work in return for his compensation, an allegation he denies. -Reuters

"I think it’s essential (he’s investigated)," Azarov told Reuters from Moscow, where he fled after the pro-Russia President Yanukovych (Paul Manafort's client) was ousted in 2014. 

"If, using his knowledge, he played an active role then there’s nothing scandalous about it," Azarov added. "But if he was simply on the books and getting money, then that could be seen as a violation of the law."

We're sure if Donald Trump Jr. was a cocaine addict making $600K on the board of a Russian company with no obvious qualifications, and Trump Sr. had a foreign prosecutor investigating his company fired, the media would attack Biden instead of looking into the Trumps. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/30/2019 - 11:20
Published:9/30/2019 10:33:50 AM
[Markets] Biden Campaign Demands TV Networks Stop Booking Rudy Giuliani Biden Campaign Demands TV Networks Stop Booking Rudy Giuliani

The feud between "Middle Class" Joe and "Mayor" Rudy is getting intensely personal.

Joseph Biden's presidential campaign reached out to top television anchors and networks on Sunday to "demand" they stop booking Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, because of what it called misleading comments and "debunked conspiracy theories" about the Biden family and Ukraine.

"We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump," top Biden campaign advisers, Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, wrote in the letter.

The note was sent to executives and top political anchors at ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC, including interviewers like Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd and Chris Wallace. In it, the Biden campaign argues that Giuliani’s appearances on television allow him to mislead the viewing public.

“We write to demand that in service to the facts, you no longer book Rudy Giuliani, a surrogate for Donald Trump who has demonstrated that he will knowingly and willingly lie in order to advance his own narrative," the letter continued. “Giving Rudy Giuliani valuable time on your air to push these lies in the first place is a disservice to your audience and a disservice to journalism,” the advisers wrote.

“Giuliani is not a public official, and holds no public office that would entitle him to opine on the nation’s airwaves,” the Biden campaign wrote. “The decision to legitimize his increasingly outlandish and unhinged charges and behavior -- calling it ‘news’ -- rests solely with you.”

The letter, as Bloomberg noted, marked an escalation from Biden’s campaign. The former vice president, at a news conference in Delaware on Tuesday, dismissed allegations of about wrongdoing in Ukraine as a "smear."

The full letter is below:

Dunn and Bedingfield said comments made by Giuliani about the work the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, and suggestions that Biden had improperly intervened in the affairs of Ukraine to protect his son, were “baseless.”

Giuliani, whose name featured in the letter by the infamous CIA whistleblower, made public last week and which confirmed that it was merely a collection of third party speculation and hearsay with virtually no actual first-person observations, has been a ubiquitous presence on television news in recent days, including several appearances on Sunday. Advocating on Trump’s behalf, Giuliani has repeatedly alleged that Biden, while serving as vice president, intervened in Ukraine to assist his son Hunter Biden’s business interests. While no evidence has surfaced that Mr. Biden intentionally tried to help his son in Ukraine, Biden has been recorded on tape admitting he would withhold $1 billion in aid for Ukraine under the Obama admin, unless the prosecutor tasked with probing his son was fired.

It was unclear why Biden was taking an approach seeking to silence Rudy - the former vice president could slap him with a libel or slander lawsuit if Giuliani is distorting the truth, or he could simply appear on networks to defend himself, prompting some to ask what is "Biden so afraid of."

Incidentally, as the Daily Wire's Ryan Saavedra also points out, the flipside to Giuliani's complaint is that since Biden's campaign put the demand in writing "it all but guaranteed that the networks would have to invite Guiliani on because if the letters ever got out the networks would be accused of colluding with the Democrats."

Indeed, as Trump’s personal lawyer, however, Mr. Giuliani remains a highly newsworthy figure and a coveted booking for television journalists covering the burgeoning impeachment inquiry, which centers on Mr. Trump’s attempts to seek information on Mr. Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, as the Democrat impeachment juggernaut rolls on, questions about the Bidens' role in Ukraine continue to grow, despite the less than impartial media's attempts to squash any potential investigation into the role Obama's vice president played in the corrupt former Soviet nation.

 

Then, just after 6pm, Rudy Giuliani tweeted his response: "Joe and Hunter Biden are clearly rattled by the affidavit showing there is a named accuser and not an anonymous source. The Bidens have played the influence game for years and now the American people are demanding answers!"

This however was quickly deleted moments later, and replaced by the following:

"The Bidens are clearly rattled by the affidavit showing there is a named accuser and not an anonymous source, who is ready to testify! Reminds me of the reaction to the corrupt pols of the 70’s and 80’s. They have their Dem media trying to destroy my reputation and silence me!"

Whatever happens next, it is safe to say that the feud between the Bidens and the man who took down New York's crime families is only just starting.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/29/2019 - 18:05
Tags
Published:9/29/2019 5:27:20 PM
[Markets] After Trump Accused Of Cover-Up, Susan Rice Admits Obama Put Transcripts On Top Secret Server Too After Trump Accused Of Cover-Up, Susan Rice Admits Obama Put Transcripts On Top Secret Server Too

After President Trump was accused of a cover-up for moving details about his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a separate, highly secured computer system, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice admitted that Obama did the same thing

The difference? Rice says that Trump's conversation didn't meet the threshold to justify that level of classification, according to The Federalist

"We never moved them over unless they were legitimately, in the contents classified," Rice said at the Texas Tribune Festival when asked how often the Obama administration engaged in this practice - without explaining the methodology used to determine what qualified.

Rice's revelation may soften arguments of a cover-up by the Trump administration to "lock down" the conversation. 

The revelation from Rice comes amid media reports and comments from political leaders that have painted the use of this top secret server as proof that Trump was trying to cover up the contents of his conversation with the Ukrainian leader, a full transcript of which the administration has now released to the public.

While Rice admitted that the Obama administration also used this server to protect sensitive presidential phone calls, she left open the question of whether the Trump administration used the server in this particular case to save the president from damaging, perhaps even impeachable, comments he made to Zelensky regarding investigations into political rival Joe Biden. -The Federalist

What's more, The Federalist notes that "reporting from ABC News shows that this practice of securing presidential phone transcripts has been in use in the White House since early 2017, after sensitive conversations with foreign leaders were leaked to the press." 

In an August 12 letter, a CIA 'whistleblower' claimed that President Trump had inappropriately pressured Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, after the elder Biden bragged about forcing Ukraine to fire its lead prosector 'or else' $1 billion in US loan guarantees would be pulled. Moreover, Democrats have also pointed to the Trump administration pausing nearly $400 million in US military aid as a bargaining chip. 

Both Trump and Zelensky have denied that there was any pressure, which was made clear when Trump released a transcript of the call in question. In addition, Zelensky had no clue the $400 million was being withheld until a month after the call, according to the New York Times' Kenneth Vogel in a Wednesday tweet. 

The Trump administration says the call with Zelensky was only added to the top secret server after guidance from a National Security  Counsel attorney.  

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/29/2019 - 11:30
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Published:9/29/2019 10:53:52 AM
[Markets] Clinton Emailers Rattled After State Department Fires Off 'Culpability Letters' For Homebrew Server Messages Clinton Emailers Rattled After State Department Fires Off 'Culpability Letters' For Homebrew Server Messages

The State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security has finally finished sifting through millions of emails from Hillary Clinton's controversial 'basement server' - many of which were classified, and/or blind-copied to a Gmail address bearing the name of a Chinese company according to intelligence community inspector general (ICIG) Frank Rucker. 

While State Department investigators began contacting former officials around 18 months ago, the probe actually began under President Obama. In recent weeks, the State Department has contacted approximately 130 officials whose emails which went through Clinton's special server have been retroactively classified and may now pose potential security violations, according to the Washington Post

"This has nothing to do with who is in the White House," said a senior State Department official. "This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about 3½ years."

The flood of letters which began in August read "You have been identified as possibly bearing some culpability" regarding "security incidents," according to the report. 

The list of State officials being questioned includes prominent ambassadors and assistant secretaries of state responsible for U.S. policy in the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. But it also includes dozens of current and former career bureaucrats who served as conduits for outside officials trying to get important messages to Clinton.

In most cases the bureaucrats and political appointees didn’t send the emails directly to Clinton, but passed them to William Burns, who served as deputy secretary of state, or Jake Sullivan, the former director of policy planning at the State Department. Burns and Sullivan then forwarded the messages to Clinton’s private email. -WaPo

President Trump's opponents will likely take WaPo's editorialized cue and accuse the president of targeting political adversaries - like the Obama administration did with the IRS. Note how WaPo is lying in order to bolster the new narrative behind the Clinton email revival - claiming that Trump "used multiple levers of his office to pressure the leader of Ukraine," when the leader of Ukraine announced on Wednesday "Nobody pushed me" to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden - nor did he know about $400 million in US military aid Trump paused prior to a July 25 phone call.

To many of those under scrutiny, including some of the Democratic Party’s top foreign policy experts, the recent flurry of activity surrounding the Clinton email case represents a new front on which the Trump administration could be accused of employing the powers of the executive branch against perceived political adversaries.

The existence of the probe follows revelations that the president used multiple levers of his office to pressure the leader of Ukraine to pursue investigations that Trump hoped would produce damaging information about Democrats, including potential presidential rival Joe Biden. -WaPo

So while the State Department said they are bound by law to adjudicate any violations, former Obama administration officials say the probe is a 'remarkably aggressive crackdown.' 

"It is such an obscene abuse of power and time involving so many people for so many years," said one former US official of the inquiry, adding "This has just sucked up people’s lives for years and years." 

WaPo lies again in suggesting that President Trump has no grounds to pursue Clinton associates as he has "improperly disclosed classified information to foreign officials." Except that the president has an inherent constitutional authority to declassify information at will, meaning the rules of disclosure of classified information don't apply to him

Back to the Clinton email saga, WaPo reports that in many cases, "the incidents appear to center on the sending of information attributed to foreign officials, including summaries of phone conversations with foreign diplomats — a routine occurrence among State Department employees."

There is no indication in any of the materials reviewed by The Post that the emails under scrutiny contained sensitive information about classified U.S. initiatives or programs. In one case, a former official was asked to explain dozens of messages dating back to 2009 that contained messages that foreign officials wanted relayed rapidly to Washington at a time when U.S. Foreign Service officers were equipped with BlackBerrys and other devices that were not capable of sending classified transmissions. The messages came in through “regular  email” and then were forwarded through official — though unclassified — State Department channels. -WaPo

And while The Post may have no indication that any of the emails contained sensitive information about classified US initiatives or programs, they don't disclose how many of the underlying emails they reviewed, or who they came from

According to the report, many of those contacted in the probe have been found "not culpable" - with many letters reading that investigators "determined that the [security] incident is valid," but that the person did not "bear any individual culpability." 

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/29/2019 - 10:30
Tags
Published:9/29/2019 9:55:57 AM
[Politics] Susan Rice: Obama Stored Transcripts on Server Susan Rice, who served on President Barack Obama's Cabinet as national security adviser, says the previous administration also stored communications on a top-secret server though only if the document was classified.Rice was speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival Friday... Published:9/29/2019 9:26:49 AM
[Markets] Trump, FDR, And War Trump, FDR, And War

Authored by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

President Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran reminds me of President Franklin Roosevelt’s similar campaign against Japan prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

After England declared war on Germany, owing to the latter’s invasion of Poland, the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to entry into the war. That was because they recognized that U.S. interventionism into World War I, which cost the lives and limbs of tens of thousands of American soldiers and severely infringed on the liberty of the American people, had accomplished nothing.

Americans had no interest in doing it again. Their mindsets were similar to those of our American ancestors, whose founding foreign policy was to avoid involvement in Europe’s forever wars.

In his 1940 campaign for president, Roosevelt told the American people that he was with them in their opposition to foreign wars. He said to them, “I’ve said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

The problem is that FDR was lying.

In fact, his secret aim was to circumvent the will of the American people and somehow maneuver the United States into the war.

During that time, U.S. presidents were still complying with the provision in the Constitution that prohibits the president from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. FDR knew, however, that securing such a declaration was impossible, given the overwhelming sentiment against getting involved in another European war.

So, FDR, who is widely recognized as one of the craftiest politicians in U.S. history, began figuring out a way by which he could embroil the nation in the war despite the fierce opposition of the American people. He decided that if he could provoke Germany into attacking U.S. ships, Congress would give him his desired declaration of war under the principle of self-defense.

So FDR embarked on a campaign of helping Great Britain in its war against Germany, such as by providing it with food, oil, and weaponry under the program called “Lend Lease” and also by using U.S. Naval vessels in assist British forces in the Atlantic. Much to Roosevelt’s chagrin, Germany, however, refused to take his bait and refrained from attacking U.S. Navy vessels.

A back door to war

That caused the wily FDR to look toward the Pacific, with the aim of provoking Japan into “firing the first shot.” His hope was that a war with Japan would provide a “back door” to getting involved in the European war.

So FDR embarked on a campaign aimed at preventing Japan from securing oil for its war machine in China, a plan that might well be serving as a model for Trump’s actions against Iran. FDR’s plan consisted of three main things: Place a tight oil embargo on Japan; seize Japanese assets in the United States; and place humiliating terms on the Japanese in “peace negotiations.”

As FDR tightened the embargo noose around Japan’s neck, Japan was left with three choices: capitulate to whatever FDR dictated, withdraw its military forces from China, or strike the United States militarily in the hope of breaking FDR’s oil embargo.

Japan chose the third option. That’s what its attack on Pearl Harbor was all about. It wasn’t the first stage in a Japanese attempt to take over America, as U.S. officials maintained. Instead, it was a way, it was hoped, to impede the U.S. Navy from interfering with Japan’s military takeover of oil fields in the Dutch East Indies.

Of course, FDR played the innocent. We’ve been attacked, he exclaimed. It’s a big surprise for us, he insinuated. We are shocked! Shocked! We had no idea that this was coming! We are totally innocent! We were just minding our own business! This is a day that will clearly live in infamy!

But it's all a lie. In fact, FDR’s plan had worked brilliantly. He had gotten what he wanted — U.S. involvement in the European war — and with overwhelming support of the American people, most of whom who did not comprehend what Roosevelt had done to embroil the United States in the war.

Trump’s scheme

Trump’s brutal economic embargo on Iran brings to mind what FDR did to Japan. The difference, however, is that Trump’s objective seems different from that of Roosevelt. Seemingly, he isn’t targeting the Iranian people for death with his embargo in the hope of being provided an excuse for attacking Iran. Instead, he seems to be using his embargo simply as a means to force Iranian rulers to comply with his dictates, specifically to force them to agree to his terms for a new nuclear accord.

When Trump withdrew the United States from the accord that it had entered into with Iran under the Obama administration, it was with the aim of arriving at a new accord. Trump figured that by squeezing the economic life out of the Iranian citizenry with his embargo, he could induce Iran’s rulers to return to the bargaining table and enter into a new agreement, one that would be satisfactory to Trump, which he could then trumpet in his campaign for reelection.

What Trump didn’t figure on, however, was the unwillingness of the Iranian regime to go along with his scheme. Their position was quite logical: We have already entered into an agreement with the United States and we have upheld our end of that bargain. Therefore it is up to you to live up to your end rather than asking us to renegotiate what we have already agreed to.

It is also increasingly clear that Iran does not intend to capitulate, no matter how many Iranian citizens Trump and his forces kill with their sanctions. And it certainly shouldn’t surprise anyone if Iran was responsible for the destruction of those Saudi oil facilities. Given that Trump is preventing Iran from selling its oil, why would it surprise anyone that Iran decides to prevent Trump’s close ally, the tyrannical and murderous Saudi regime, from selling its oil?

Ironically, Trump’s plan to squeeze the Iranian people to death with his embargo in the hope of securing a new nuclear accord with Iran might well end up with the same result — war — as FDR’s scheme to squeeze the Japanese with his oil embargo.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/28/2019 - 22:30
Published:9/28/2019 9:50:26 PM
[General] Joe Biden pulls the Obama card again, but not everyone shares his nostalgia

Yes, Joe Biden, we do remember when we had a president we could look up to. We miss Reagan.

The post Joe Biden pulls the Obama card again, but not everyone shares his nostalgia appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/28/2019 4:49:35 PM
[Markets] 10 Reasons Democrats' Impeachment Argument Is Falling Apart 10 Reasons Democrats' Impeachment Argument Is Falling Apart

Authored by Tom Elliott via Grabien.com,

On Wednesday Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) offered a compelling case for impeaching President Trump. Describing his actions as a “classic mafia shakedown of a foreign leader,” Schiff said Trump in a phone call with the Ukrainian president threatened to withhold aid if he didn’t produce comprising intelligence on his 2020 political rival, Joe Biden. 

“The president communicates to his Ukrainian counterpart that the United States has done a lot for Ukraine; we’ve done an awful lot for Ukraine, more than the Europeans or anyone else has done for Ukraine, but there’s not much reciprocity here. This is how a mafia boss talks. What have you done for us? We’ve done so much for you. But there’s not much reciprocity. I have a favor I want to ask you. And what is that favor? Of course the favor is to investigate his political rival, to investigate the Bidens.”

It sounds bad.

Schiff’s painting a picture — using invented dialogue, a trick he tried again in a subsequent congressional hearing — of a president manipulating U.S. foreign policy to wrest personal favors from foreign leaders. But as more evidence comes to surface, that picture is quickly fading.

Here are 10 ways Democrats’ original impeachment argument is coming apart:

1. No quid pro quo. Despite Democrats’ initial claim, there was no quid pro quo. The call transcript shows the topic of aid only came up in reference to how well the U.S. treats Ukraine, particularly as compared to Euro nations, most specifically Germany. At no point does Trump threaten to withhold anything, as even some of Trump’s media critics conceded. 

2. Ukrainians weren’t pressured. Democrats and the media have repeatedly insisted President Trump “acted like a mob boss” in applying pressure on President Volodymyr Zelensky. He, however, defended Trump, saying he felt no pressure. “ I think you read everything,” he told reporters in New York this week. “So I think you read text. I’m ... I am sorry but I don’t want to be involved to democratic open, uh, hum... ??????e... elections of U.S.A. You’ve heard we had, um, I think good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things and I thought so. And I think and you read it that nobody push it, pushed me.” 

3. Timeline. Politico’s Ken Vogel reported that the Ukrainian delegation hadn’t even been made aware aid was held up until a month after the Trump call. It’s hard to see they could feel they’re being “extorted,” as Democrats keep saying, if they weren’t even aware of the pressure supposedly being applied.

4. No Illicit Favors. When the White House released the call transcript, readers noticed that after some initial mutual flattery, Zeleznsky brings up buying more Javelin missiles; President Trump then asks for a favor and requests additional information into 2016 election meddling. Rep. Adam Schiff suggested Trump’s request for a “favor” actually referenced wanting dirt on Joe Biden, but Biden only comes up later in the conversation, and in a separate context. Nonetheless, the major media almost uniformly reported the “favor” line from Trump’s call in the same inaccurate fashion.

5. Whistleblower Complaint Lacks Credibility. This complaint, which Democrats for some reason insisted was more important than the call transcript itself, was basically a version of that original call that had been run through a game of telephone. The report had the basic story reasonably accurate, but then supplemented that synopsis with additional accumulated gossip. At least three key details in the complaint have since been shown to be false. As the document is itself a product of hearsay — the self-described whistleblower admits at the beginning of his report that he never witnessed anything — and the fact it contains demonstrable inaccuracies, its importance should certainly be subjugated to the call transcript itself. 

6. Fake News, Bad Polls. The media outlets driving the story have thrown into question their credibility after a series of major mistakes. The Washington Post reported the director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, threatened to resign if he weren’t allowed to speak publicly about the whistleblower report. Maguire responded and emphatically called the Post’s report untrue, repeating that insistence while under oath during subsequent congressional testimony. ABC News and Axios both reported that an adviser to the Ukraine president said their delegation was aware in advance that aid money was being used as leverage; unfortunately for these media outlets, their source wasn’t actually an adviser to the president and the outlets had to issue updates.

Democrats are pointing to a growing number of Americans supporting impeachment to buttress their argument, but it’s a safe bet these numbers will shift after the dust on this story starts to settle. 

7. Adam Schiff. Two weeks before Congress was notified of an intelligence community whistleblower report, Adam Schiff was already tweeting out the thrust of the accusation:

How was Schiff made aware of this report before Congress? Who in the intelligence community was Schiff in contact with? Did he have any role in helping engineer the report’s entry into Congress? These are questions Americans deserve having answered before they can fairly consider the merits of impeaching President Trump.

8. Origins. The Federalist reported late Friday that the intelligence community adjusted rules related to whistleblower complaints so that hearsay evidence could now be accepted. Whereas historically a whistleblower actually has to witness the conduct to file a report about it, a month before this report was sent to Congress, the intelligence community dropped this long-standing requirement and the “whistleblower” was subsequently able to file his report. A spokesman for the DNI refused comment to the Federalist for why the change was made.

This awfully convenient timing surely requires further investigation before lawmakers can be expected to fairly adjudicate the accusations against Trump.

9. Rudy. It’s widely reported Rudy Giuliani was Trump’s go-to guy for actually carrying out this conspiracy. On his call, Trump told the Ukraine president to speak with Rudy (as well as AG Barr), about the investigation into an oil company on whose board sat Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son. But Giuliani first communicated with his Ukrainian counterparts more than a year before Biden entered the race. Yes, it’s possible they anticipated Biden eventually entering the race; but it’s also possible Trump actually thought there might be legitimate corruption worthy of investigating. Giuliani tries to prove this point by noting the State Dept. was helping coordinate his communications. This may be unseemly, and perhaps even unethical, but it’s not entirely different from the role (as some have pointed out) Sidney Blumenthal played when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. At the least, a lot more information is needed before establishing Trump’s use of Rudy clearly demonstrates any kind of impeachable conduct.

10. Coverup? Democrats say the White House has engaged in a pattern of obstruction and coverup to hide their wrongdoing. But is this true? DNI’s Maguire only opted against releasing the report to Congress after the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel said the report did not concern conduct within the intelligence community and was thus “statutorily deficient.” Maguire was following the law, but Democrats rebelled, and ultimately the report was released anyway. The White House also released a transcript of the call itself. It’s hard to see how the White House is guilty of a coverup when they’ve already released the primary documents.

Other media speculators pointed toward the whistleblower report alleging the (now public) transcript having apparently been transferred to a “more secure” server. On Friday night, former National Security Adviser to President Obama, Susan Rice, said that the Obama Administration likewise moved occasionally transcripts to this server (though she said, somewhat unsurprisingly, that when they did it there was a compelling reason). CNN additionally reports that the Trump Administration has been placing all of these foreign call transcripts on this server for more than a year in an effort to contain leaks.

Democrats say they want to move as expeditiously as possible through this impeachment inquiry. And it’s no wonder why. As the more information comes out, the less credible the core of their original claim becomes. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/28/2019 - 16:30
Tags
Published:9/28/2019 3:48:51 PM
[Markets] Galloway: "Markets Are Emerging From A Psychotic Break With Reality" Galloway: "Markets Are Emerging From A Psychotic Break With Reality"

Authored by Scott Galloway via ProfGalloway.com,

Malcolm Gladwell writes about a fascinating episode in history.

Neville Chamberlain's first plane ride was a trip to meet Adolf Hitler. The British Prime Minister was taken by Hitler's charisma. He believed the German leader when he promised not to invade Czechoslovakia. After his triumphant return from Germany, Chamberlain took the non-aggression pact Hitler had signed and waved it from his window at 10 Downing Street. Five months later, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. The people who understood Hitler, who got it right, never met him. 

George W. Bush, after meeting with Putin, said, "I looked the man in the eye. I found him very straightforward and trustworthy — I was able to get a sense of his soul." Our intelligence officials, who never got to hang with Vlad, had to rely on his actions instead of his soul. They were less convinced. 

The boards of Theranos and WeWork included former and future Secretaries of Defense, Supreme Allied Commanders, and billionaire CEOs of iconic firms. These individuals can assess geopolitical markers, troop movements, and business trends better than anybody on the planet, maybe in history. But put a young woman from Stanford in a black turtleneck, or a guy with great hair, in the same room, and these global leaders couldn't recognize blatant fraud. 

According to CNBC, this week the We board fired CEO Adam Neumann. No, the board didn't fire him. The media, academics, and math fired him. The board enabled him and either was a co-conspirator in the fraud, or they were just idiots. Who did they replace him with? Art Minson, co-president and CFO, and Sebastian Gunningham, vice chair of the board. Their first act? Art and Sebastian announced they’re selling the $60 million Gulfstream 650 that they had bought/approved.

The board appointed two of their own to fix the problem of their own making. This lack of self-awareness as a governing body is evidence that We's coworking spaces have kombucha, and the board room has MDMA. Art is the Ruth Madoff of the unicorn class. She either knew what was going on, or she's an idiot. I’m hoping CNBC will report Ruth Madoff has been appointed managing partner for SoftBank's Vision Fund 3. 

Perhaps they are being advised by JPM, who told the board the valuation range on the IPO was $40-60 billion, or Goldman, who valued it at $60-90 billion. Goldman has been aggressively pitching me to manage my money for the last five years. They invited me to the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is definitely worth 1 percent a year on my assets. So, as my new wealth managers, would Goldman have piled me into We stock if, on the IPO, they were able to get in at the low-low valuation of $47 billion? Is Goldman more focused on the short-term underwriting fees ($130 million) vs. serving as a fiduciary for their wealth management clients? Or are they just idiots? I’ve been trolling the worst after-hours lounges in Jersey City to track down CEO David Solomon / DJ D-Sol to find out. Mr. Solomon is an awful DJ, and a worse fiduciary. 

The Yogababble Index®

The brand era manufactured the notion that inanimate objects could take on animate characteristics. Objects and companies could be personified — likable, young, cool, patriotic. Corporate comms execs began to scale the charisma and vision of the founder. Overpromise and underdeliver has become a means for access to cheap capital ("We'll have a million autonomous Teslas on the road within 12 months"). You could fake it till you make it. The lines between charm, vision, bullsh*t, and fraud have become so narrow as to be one line.

The MDMA of capitalism is the corporate communications exec. According to LinkedIn, there are more corporate comms personnel working for Bezos at Amazon (969) than journalists working for Bezos at the Washington Post (798). When firms are still searching for a viable business model, the temptation to go full yogababble gets stronger, as the truth (numbers, business model, EBITDA) needs concealer. When I show up at MSNBC, they put some crazy foundation syrup in a plastic bottle attached to a hose, ask everyone to stand back, and spray my head as if the makeup artist were the last line of defense against reactor 2 at Chernobyl. 

So, we looked at the S-1 language of a bunch of tech firms and made a qualitative assessment of the level of bullsh*t. Then we looked at their performance one year post-IPO. We believe there is an inverse correlation that may be a forward-looking indicator for a firm’s share performance. 

Yogababble scale 1-10: 
1/10: I’m a professor of marketing who likes dogs.
5/10: I’m the Big Dawg.
10/10: I am a spirit Dawg that unlocks self-actualization.

Zoom

Mission: “To make video communications frictionless.”

This is accurate. Zoom is a video communications company. It offers less friction, as demonstrated by a higher NPS score (62) than Webex (6).

Bullsh*t rating: 1/10

Stock return 6 months post-IPO: +122%

Spotify

Mission: “To unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by these creators.”

OK, sort of. Hard to see how Celine Dion is unlocking human creativity.

Bullsh*t rating: 5/10

Stock return 1 year post-IPO: +9%

Peloton

Mission: “On the most basic level, Peloton sells happiness.”

Nope, similar to Chuck Norris, Christie Brinkley, and Tony Little, you sell exercise equipment.

Bullsh*t Rating: 9/10

Stock return 1 day post-IPO: –11%

The chart below summarizes our research.

The markets appear to be emerging from a psychotic break from reality. The ugly process of repricing risk has begun. The market's reaction to Uber and Lyft was the Monday morning sunrise ending a young Robert Downey Jr. Miami weekend binge. The shelving of the We and Endeavor IPOs was the market preemptively taking keys away, arresting the bender before it starts. 

Adam Neuman’s real innovation, so far, is cooking a drug that appears to have no hangover or side effects. WeChrist shat in the punch bowl. People in hazmat suits showed up, gave him $700 million, and asked him to leave — they’ll take it from here and try to clean up his mess. Mr. Neuman wasn’t fired, he was liberated. The con artist formerly known as Adam is leaving with more money ($700 million) than the firm is currently worth.

I can relate to the mix of hubris, success, and Christ complex that leads you to believe your business efforts deserve a vision worthy of your genius - if not to distract you and your investors from the reality of how hard it is to build an entity that takes in more money than it spends, while growing.

When the board, CEO, and bankers transfer the vicious hangover to retail investors, the distraction becomes malfeasance.

My new firm, Section4, was going to "Restore the Middle Class." My colleagues rolled their eyes so hard I wondered if they’d been coached by my 12-year-old son. Then we were "NSFW Business Media" or "Streaming MBA." We’re trying to figure it out. Next week, I'll tell my board we've assembled a group of talented people, are producing short-form video and podcasts, and hope to educate and inform. We’ll go from there. 

I’ve come to the realization that we’re not bringing joy to the universe. We are not Chipotle.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/28/2019 - 13:30
Published:9/28/2019 12:47:54 PM
[Entertainment] With a brass band blaring, artist Kehinde Wiley goes off to war with Confederate statues Obama portrait creator unveils his new equestrian statue in Times Square. In December, it will be installed in Richmond, with those of Civil War generals nearby. Published:9/27/2019 6:43:14 PM
[Markets] Employer Health-Benefit Costs Soared Past $20,000 Per Worker - "The Price Of An Economy Car" Employer Health-Benefit Costs Soared Past $20,000 Per Worker - "The Price Of An Economy Car"

Brace yourself, because this stat is about to be utilized by Democrats in every debate and speech between now and November 2020. The average cost of employer-provided health coverage passed $20,000 for a family plan this year, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Premiums rose 5% to $20,576 for the employer-provided plans in 2019. On average, 71% of that cost is borne by the businesses while the rest is paid by the employee.

But why is this number such a milestone? As economist Drew Altman told WSJ: "It's the cost of buying an economy car, but buying it every year."

Though employers still bear a larger percentage of the overall cost of health-insurance plans, costs for families rose even more swiftly than costs for employers this past year, with an 8% jump (to $6,015 a year). Singletons fared slightly better: Premiums for the individual plans increased by just 4% (to $7,188).

The disappointing fact is that, for many companies, a 5% annual increase in health-benefit-related costs isn't new, according to WSJ. And some firms are instituting new policies, like a $250 penalty for employees who get imaging scans without checking a price-transparency system.

At Elkay Manufacturing Co., a closely held company in Oak Brook, Ill., with around 1,500 US employees, the cost of coverage has been going up around 5% to 6% a year, said Carol Partington, senior manager of total benefits. For 2019, the company introduced its first high-deductible plan, and put in place a new $250 penalty for employees who get imaging scans without checking prices through a price-transparency program.

Elkay, which makes products including sinks and faucets, and does interior design work, tries to keep workers’ share of health costs at roughly 20%, with the company bearing the rest, Ms. Partington said.

"If our costs go up, theirs is going to go up in that same proportion."

And another trend: The rising cost of employee health benefits continued to exceed inflation and wage growth, according to the Kaiser foundation, squeezing workers despite a low unemployment rate, which should, in theory, press companies to raise wages and sweeten benefit packages.

"For some workers, employer-based coverage isn’t such a great deal," because of the high costs they have to bear, said Gary Claxton, a senior vice president of the Kaiser foundation.

At companies that employ a lot of low-wage employees, the low-wage earners are often forced to shoulder a larger percentage of their health-care costs.

"For some workers, employer-based coverage isn’t such a great deal," because of the high costs they have to bear, said Gary Claxton, a senior vice president of the Kaiser foundation.

But why is this stat so important to the election cycle? As one political expert said, health-care policy is playing a big role in the Democratic debates thanks to the party's embrace of Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All ("M4A") plan.

"Health-care affordability is generally the No. 1 issue for voters," said Dan Mendelson, a founder of a health-care consulting firm and former federal official who is now an operating partner at a private-equity firm. "The issue is the costs that consumers actually see, including deductibles, copays and the cost of prescription drugs."

Remember: Joe Biden has endorsed a plan that would effectively create a public option by letting consumers buy into Medicaid.

Though Democratic Socialists like to complain about the immense profits that the health-care industry is raking in, the biggest driver of these higher insurance costs is simply the rising price that insurers and employers pay for health care.

"The vast majority of this can be explained by prices," particularly for hospital care, said Niall Brennan, chief executive. Consolidation by hospital systems has in many cases given them a larger share of their local markets, which "enables them to engage in pretty unconstrained pricing behavior," he said.

A report published earlier this year from the Health Care Cost Institute found that between 2013 and 2017, average health care prices increased 17.1%, while health-care utilization declined 0.2%.

Of course, this number might also benefit President Trump, too; it's just one more thing that he can blame on Obama.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/27/2019 - 18:05
Published:9/27/2019 5:17:24 PM
[] The Morning Rant "I'm tired of hearing news that the IG's office, or the DOJ, or some other federal agency, has determined that James Comey or John Brennan or other Obama administration officials are lying, or broke this or that law, or lied... Published:9/27/2019 10:18:02 AM
[765ca899-10df-5007-bbed-9488431bd97d] Andrew McCarthy: Dems hold Trump to double standard – What was OK for Obama isn’t OK for Trump In “Ball of Collusion,” I outline some of the extensive evidence that in 2016, the Obama administration’s law enforcement agencies pressured their Ukrainian counterparts to revive a dormant corruption investigation of Paul Manafort. Published:9/27/2019 6:40:09 AM
[World] 'No, your gun rights aren't actually safe with Trump'

For gun owners like me, it’s hard to forget President Trump’s promise on his 99th day in office, proclaiming that President Obama’s “eight year assault” on our Second Amendment rights had come to a “crashing end.” But in the years since Mr. Trump took his seat in the Oval Office, ... Published:9/26/2019 2:45:55 PM

[Markets] Prof Blasts Tom Brady's "White Male Omnipotence" For "Buttressing American White Supremacy" Prof Blasts Tom Brady's "White Male Omnipotence" For "Buttressing American White Supremacy"

Authored by Celine Ryan via CampusReform.org,

A University of Rhode Island (URI) professor published a book chapter in September focused entirely on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his supposed relationship to white supremacy. 

URI Kinesiology professor Kyle Kusz also dabbles in gender and race theory, as evidenced in a chapter, a full copy of which was obtained by Campus Reform, that the professor authored in a recently published book titled The Palgrave Handbook of Masculinity and Sport.

Titled “Making American White Men Great Again: Tom Brady, Donald Trump, and the Allure of White Male Omnipotence in Post-Obama America,” the chapter attempts to provide evidence to back up Kusz’s suggestion that, like President Donald Trump, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has gained popularity due to the “latest wave of white rage and white supremacy” that he says developed since the Obama presidency alongside a “disturbing racial reaction among white conservatives in response to the idea that a black man would be [president].”

The professor’s work analyzes Brady in two ways: his representation in the media and his “relationship with Trump,” seeking to determine what these factors can “tell us about the specific ways that white masculinity is being re-coded and re-centered in post-Obama American culture.”

Kusz zeroes in on “the complex racial, gender, and class meanings that have been articulated with Brady’s body and his performances of white masculinity in the context of a backlash against the Obama presidency” and of “Trumpism,” which he claims is also rooted in both race and gender.

In addition to Brady’s representation as the epitome of “omnipotent, white masculinity” in his various media appearances, advertisements, and movie cameos, Kusz also focuses on Brady’s public image as it relates to what he calls “American myths of meritocracy and individualism,” which he says are “commonly used in sporting adverts.” 

Among other media appearances, he specifically cites Brady’s appearance in a 2015 Under Armour commercial, which he claims “would not seem out of place in Leni Reifenstahl’s infamous Nazi propaganda film, ‘Triumph des willens,’” because of its military references and red and black colors.

Kusz told Campus Reform that it was this commercial that drove him to investigate Brady’s whiteness further. 

“I decided to research Trump and Brady's public performances of their white masculinities and how they connect with broader debates about race and gender politics after a student in one of my classes brought the UnderArmour commercial to my attention and it piqued my interest,” the professor said.

Kusz also took issue in the chapter with a Beautyrest mattress commercial in which the camera angle is pointed upward at Brady so that the “viewer is compelled to see him as superior,” as well as Brady’s partnership with “upscale companies” like UGG and Aston Martin. 

“In each of these sites, Brady is figured as an unconflicted and unapologetic embodiment of upper-class white exceptionality and manly omnipotence.”

Kusz also points to the “myths” of meritocracy present in “The Brady 6,” a documentary about the quarterback and his rise to stardom.

“By subtly coding Brady as a version of the 97 lb weakling in ‘The Brady 6,’ his subsequent transformation into Brady—the five-time Super Bowl champion and ‘G.O.A.T’—enables him to be easily read as an athletic variation of the self-made man,” Kusz writes, adding that “the self-made man is [a] seductive and potent ideological figure of American liberalism long used to mask the systemic privileges afforded to, and enjoyed by, white men, especially those with economic means.”

The professor also asserts that Patriots fans who backed Brady during the infamous “Deflategate” scandal were angry with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for “breaking the unspoken bonds of white brotherhood to leverage the NFL’s institutional authority” against Brady.  The “Free Brady” T-shirts sold by barstoolsports.com at the time combined humor with “reverse racism” and “political dissidence,” according to Kusz.

In addition to the media’s representation of Brady being “figured through conventional codes of upper-class elitism that are often exclusively associated with, and embodied by, white men,” Kusz also takes issue with the company Brady chooses to keep, mainly focusing on the quarterback’s relationship with Trump, but also pointing out the fact that Brady often takes “boys only” trips with “white majority groups” to the Kentucky Derby.

Kusz claims that since Brady “plays in a sport where 67% of the players are African-American,” the fact that most of the individuals whom he brings with him to the Kentucky Derby are white “tell[s] a more particular story about the racial company he chooses to keep.”

“It is a vision of Brady as a wealthy, white man who unapologetically enjoys, and has even made a habit out of, spending time with other wealthy white men who treasure time ‘with the boys’ over all others,” adding that the choice of the Kentucky Derby “suggests his performance of white masculinity shares much in common with President Trump’s” in that the Derby is a “class-exclusive leisure activity” where most of the attendees are white.

Kusz also focuses on the quarterback’s refusal to denounce his friendship with Trump, which began when Brady judged a Miss USA beauty pageant, or as Kusz puts it, “an activity centered on judging women as sexual objects.” The setting in which they first met, in conjunction with the fact that the two men often golf together, “presumably” spending time together in locker rooms, “begs questions about Brady’s own appetite and tolerance for boorish, misogynistic talk and behavior,” according to Kusz.

Brady’s regimented diet and exercise routines are also supposedly a function of how his “white masculinity is repeatedly constructed,” according to Kusz. 

“In short, Brady is positioned as the master of his own fate. His white masculinity is represented as deserving of public veneration not only for his success and self-discipline, but because he enjoys it all without apology or any trace of shame or guilt. In other words, part of Brady’s pub- lic appeal rests in his ability to signify a guilt-free, omnipotent white male who unabashedly embraces the idyllic life that his wealth and white manliness provide.”

Kusz concludes his chapter by reiterating how “cultural representations” of Brady as being “unashamed about privilege” and being “superior and worthy of deference,” as well as his “preferring the pleasures of white fraternal bonds” serve to “buttress American white supremacy” and appeal largely to the “alt-right.”

As further apparent evidence of his claim, Kusz cites a tweet from alt-right leader Richard Spencer, calling Brady an “Aryan Avatar”  and closes the chapter with a personal anecdote about seeing a man in a Tom Brady Patriots jersey during a “far right ‘free speech’” rally in Boston.

Kusz told Campus Reform that he became interested in Tom Brady within the context of white masculinity after moving to New England. 

“After moving here for work I became fascinated by the idolatry given to Brady, especially after Trump began to name-drop and use white sportsmen as surrogates during his 2016 campaign,” the professor said, noting that he takes an interest in the stories being told about race and gender in today’s society” and how they “reflect broader struggles about social power.”

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/26/2019 - 15:05
Published:9/26/2019 2:07:23 PM
[Politics] 2020 Primary and Caucus Cancellations Through the Lens of Recent History By Josh Putnam
KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE

— Republicans in several states have canceled primaries and caucuses in 2020 as President Trump seeks renomination.

— To be sure, the Trump campaign and various state GOP organizations are working to smooth the president’s path to renomination and attempting to reduce any divisiveness within the Republican primary electorate and ultimately the Republican general election coalition.

— However, the cancellation of primaries and caucuses is not unprecedented, as a review of the two most recent nomination cycles involving incumbent presidents (George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2012) reveals.

Published:9/26/2019 7:54:59 AM
[Markets] Dropbox overhauls product line, welcomes Michelle Obama Dropbox Inc. is jazzing up its product lineup for the second time in three months to give its sagging stock a jolt. An appearance by former First Lady Michelle Obama later in the day might be the additional buzz it’s looking for.
Published:9/25/2019 4:00:41 PM
[Markets] Desperate Democrats Dig Deep: "Throwing Joe Biden Under The Bus" Desperate Democrats Dig Deep: "Throwing Joe Biden Under The Bus"

Authored by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

Earlier today, I wrote: “What is an impeachable offense? Turns out, it’s anything the Democrats can get enough votes for.” And I realize saying that gets rid of half my possible audience, but it’s still the impression I’ve gotten over the past -less than- 24 hours.

After 2+ years of her fellow party members and Congress(wo)men riding on the now-defunct Robert Mueller train and clamoring non-stop for impeachment of Donald Trump, the man who stole the 2016 election from their candidate, God’s own candidate Hillary, the one who deserved to win, after 2+ years Nancy Pelosi does a 180 and joins the chorus. So as not to end up as fish food.

And sure, if she’s finally spotted an impeachable offense, that would make sense. But she herself states she joined because of Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s Zelensky, and we know Pelosi doesn’t know what was said in that call, nor what’s in the opaque whistleblower complaint linked to it, a complaint moreover that’s based solely on hearsay.

Making the contents of the call public would set a dangerous precedent, because no foreign leader would ever again speak freely to a US president. Even sharing it ‘only’ with Capitol Hill would make them cautious. In that regard, the White House reluctance to share both the call and the complaint makes a lot of sense.

We’re talking many decades of carefully crafted tradition, whose importance cannot be overestimated. Wars have been avoided by these calls. But then again, as Trump said, he’s sure everybody and their pet intelligence hamster is listening in the talks already, so what’s the use anymore?

Democratic Party members smell something, and they think they’re sure is blood, without ever contemplating it might be their own. They’ve all been thinking impeachment for a long time, and now more than ever, because they appear to realize it might be the only way to get rid of Trump and get their people in charge, that the ballot box may well not deliver that outcome.

Ryan Grim’s piece for the Intercept provides a a good picture of what is going on in Dem Camp, not because it’s so well written, it’s actually quite shaky, but because between the lines the despair seeps through. Do read the whole thing, it’s worth the while because it tells a story nobody really talks about.

That is, on various levels of the US political system, Democratic party candidates have become increasingly fearful of losing their seats, and impeachment must bring them ‘salvation’. You get the idea it’s not even so much about what Trump does, but squarely about him standing in their way, like he stood in Hillary’s.

Why The House Democratic Caucus Was Able To Move So Rapidly Toward Impeachment

[..] as Democrats prepped for a series of private meetings, it was clear that nerves had been frayed. August had been a challenge for the party’s rank-and-file, as activists and angry citizens back home browbeat them at town halls, grocery stores, and local events for the party’s unwillingness to impeach President Donald Trump.

“We spent all summer getting the shit kicked out of us back home,” said one Democrat who received such treatment. The day before, former Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski had made a mockery of the Judiciary Committee’s interview of him, betraying open contempt for the process and the people running it.


Swing district freshmen Democrats known as frontliners, meanwhile, had spent the last few weeks vocally decrying the pressure on them to call for impeachment, claiming it was putting them in a political jam. Democrats were debating publicly whether the hearings Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., was running at his Judiciary Committee were or were not in fact the launch of impeachment proceedings.

I’m not sure to which extent to believe this. Do Democrat voters really pester their local politicians about impeaching Trump? Or are they making this up because they need something to blame for their own failures?

[..] The members without official primary challenges were by no means safe, either, as they might soon draw a challenge unless the trajectory of the politics changed. Freshman Lori Trahan from Massachusetts, for instance, came out for impeachment after Dan Koh, whom she beat in a primary by 147 votes in 2018, called on her to do so, with the clear threat that he may run again.


The seats of upward of 200 Democrats were being put at risk to protect a handful of loud frontliners, Raskin argued, and it wasn’t obvious that the strategy was actually protecting them from anything. Grassroots activists were demobilizing, Democrats across the board were facing primary challenges, and somehow, someway, Democrats seemed to be losing, again, to Trump. Something had to give.

“Democrats seemed to be losing, again, to Trump. Something had to give.” That sums it up. And we now know what it was that had to give. That doesn’t make it a winning strategy, though. And then came the Ukraine “news”. It was god-given. The “new” Kavanaugh story a few days before had seemed to, but it was false. Now, however….

[..] That something came later that night, in the form of a Washington Post scoop about a whistleblower complaint from a member of the U.S. intelligence community about a promise Trump had made to a foreign leader. Then, on Thursday evening, the Post reported that the country involved was Ukraine.

The news had landed like a bomb in a Democratic caucus that was already ready to explode. Calls to impeach Trump rained down from the party’s left flank and its presidential candidates. On Friday evening, Democrats were bracing for a backlash back home. “It’s going to be a brutal weekend for a lot of people, especially those who haven’t spoken for impeachment,” one Democrat predicted. Indeed it was.


Democrats, including frontliners, spent the weekend furiously texting and calling each other as they worked through how to respond to Trump’s latest lawlessness. “People are pissed,” said another Democrat over the weekend. “Frontliners are pissed! And not even the ‘progressive’ frontliners either.”

It’s a feeding frenzy inside an echo chamber. All quite rational, of course. And Pelosi had no choice but to join in, or she would have been fish food.

Pelosi didn’t seem to understand the shift that was taking place under her feet. Reporter John Harwood asked an aide to Pelosi over the weekend if the news changed her calculus on impeachment and got back the reply: “no. see any GOP votes for it?”


Jon Favreau, a speechwriter for President Barack Obama who now serves, from his perch at Pod Save America, as something of a tribune for the volunteer-resistance army that phone banked and door-knocked Democrats into the majority, was apoplectic. “This is insane,” he said. “This is pathetic. This is not what we worked so hard for in 2018.” By Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi was calling for impeachment proceedings to begin.

We want impeachment, and we’ll figure out later what for. There are Democrats right now, after recognizing nobody knows what is in either the call or the complaint, who say it’s about Trump’s entire body of work, about months and months of violating the constitution etc. I think they’ll have to be more specific than that for the inquiry, however.

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the constitution,” Pelosi said in a formal address in Washington on Tuesday evening.

“The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

I swear, one of these days I’m going to lose it over the next person who says “No one is above the law.” That must be the emptiest statement in politics, ever, but certainly these days.

Now, of course, lest we forget, that plenty Democrats ‘support’ impeachment doesn’t mean much of anything. There’s about a zero Kelvin chance of getting it through the Senate. Plus, you need a specific reason for impeachment, and we’ve already seen the Ukraine isn’t it, because nobody even knows what was said.

Which makes me think Pelosi’s heart can’t be in it, and that makes her a weak advocate for the issue. So what other grounds for impeachment will they come up with? That can only be things that happened in the past, and things Pelosi never thought were impeachable, or at least wouldn’t get enough votes. Why should they now?

As an aside, the Democrat candidates and frontliners -and Nancy Pelosi as per last night- are throwing Joe Biden under the bus, who’s still their leading candidate. Because there’s no way Biden will survive a thorough investigation into Ukraine. That is so obvious I’m wondering if they meant to get rid of him all along.

And then there are the ‘technicalities’. 

“In his response to the Democrats’ move, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said: “Speaker Pelosi happens to be the Speaker of this House, but she does not speak for America when it comes to this issue.” “She cannot unilaterally decide we’re in an impeachment inquiry,” he added.”

And I absolutely love this bit:

 “In her announcement Ms Pelosi said the six congressional committees already investigating Mr Trump would continue their work, but now under the umbrella of a formal impeachment inquiry.”. That says Heads of the Five Families to me, right there. You got your Tattaglia, your Barzoni etc.

There are 6 different active investigations into Trump. Well over two years after Robert Mueller started his $40 million utter failure of an investigation. Why? Impeachment. And they have all come up empty so far.

Love this bit too from the BBC on Ukraine media

“Some argue that the timing could not be worse for President Zelensky, who is scheduled to meet Donald Trump in New York later on Wednesday. Public TV station Pershy describes the controversy as a “trap” for Ukraine. “It would be stupid to start playing into the hands of either Democrats or Republicans,” said one of the channel’s commentators. Others contend that the Ukrainian president has US politicians over the barrel. “Zelensky has two pistols in his hands: one pointing at Trump, and the other at Biden,” reports Pryamy TV.

There’s no way to end this without yet another shout-out to Tulsi Gabbard, who made the October Democratic debate after ‘missing’ the September one, and who has no qualms going against the official DNC-sponsored party line party on this either if she thinks it’s wrong.

She told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday that she’ll remain consistent to her message that the road to 2020 can only be found in a clear victory and mandate, saying it’s for “the American people… making that decision” of who is in the White House, not impeachment.

“I believe that impeachment at this juncture would be terribly divisive for the country at a time when we are already extremely divided. The hyperpartisanship is one of the main things driving our country apart,” Gabbard told host Brian Kilmeade. “I think it’s important to beat Donald Trump, that’s why I’m running for president,” she said.

“But I think it’s the American people who need to make their voices heard making that decision.”

We need to get Tulsi her own party, right? Because right now, she’s not fighting Trump, she’s fighting the DNC and the rest of her ‘own’ party. What a waste of time and money, and conviction and talent.

*  *  *

Support The Automatic Earth blog on Patreon.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/25/2019 - 14:50
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Published:9/25/2019 2:00:51 PM
[2019 News] Trump’s Ukraine call transcript: Read the document   Trump’s Ukraine call transcript: Read the document. Yep, that’s it, there it is. Note the Democrats don’t talk about Obama telling Medvedev that he’ll be more flexible after the election or Biden extorting the Ukrainians to fire a prosecutor investigating his son. Published:9/25/2019 9:38:57 AM
[Markets] What History Tells Us About Trump's 2020 Chances What History Tells Us About Trump's 2020 Chances

Authored by Onar Am via LibertyNation.com,

A recent business survey showed that two-thirds of top business executives believe that President Donald Trump will be re-elected. Is this an outlier? Along with his historical advantage as an incumbent, other factors seem to be mobilizing the president toward the winner’s circle. Among those are popularity polls, campaign enthusiasm, and a potential unformidable opponent. Consider that despite what the mainstream media are desperately trying to convey, most indicators point toward a victory for Trump in 2020.

Momentum

History has shown that most sitting presidents are re-elected. In recent memory, only Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr. served a single term. Trump likely goes into the 2020 election as an incumbent propelled by a booming economy. Usually, these two factors alone are enough to secure a win.

More Popular Than Obama

What modern-times leader has received more negative press than Trump? In the media, any Democrat candidate enjoys the home-team advantage, and Trump faces unimaginably stiff headwinds. Can all the negativity lavished on the president be a deciding factor?

Poll numbers suggest not. On Sept. 16, Trump’s average approval rating on Real Clear Politics surpassed that of President Barack Obama on the same day during his first term. Rasmussen often has the president outshining his predecessor. Obama was re-elected on those numbers, which suggests that Trump can be in line for a second term.

Enthusiasm

Another significant indicator is campaign enthusiasm. Trump has so far raised more money than all the Democratic candidates combined. Even in deep-blue California, he recently raised $15 million in a single day. By comparison, California’s presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has raised only $12 million in three months.

Sent to Democratic strongholds in Minnesota, CNN reporters were stunned to learn that many folks are turning to Trump. You would have to go back to Richard Nixon to find a time when that state voted Republican, but in 2016 the race was close, with Trump losing to Clinton by a meager 44,000 votes. Don’t be surprised if Minnesota turns red in 2020.

Panic

Many Democrats are slowly waking up to the fact that Trump may likely win re-election in 2020. Their top candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, is beginning to exhibit a lack of energy and focus, and even party stalwarts openly speculate about his fitness for office. Recently, former President Carter perplexed reporters by suggesting that there should be an age limit of 80 years to become president and talked about the importance of being able to concentrate. He did not mention Biden by name, but he is the only candidate who would run into this proposed age limit during his presidency.

Despite his repeated gaffes and often incoherent speech, Biden remains the most popular Democrat in the race. This may not be a display of party strength but perhaps one of desperation. A significant number of Democratic voters are so dismayed by the ultra-progressive positions taken by the other candidates that they are willfully blind to Biden’s multiple weaknesses in the hopes that he has a shot at unseating the incumbent.

Trump is no ordinary president, so the course of his second run may defy the precedents of the past. But if the traditional political playbook holds sway, Trump is on his way to a second term.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/25/2019 - 09:50
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Published:9/25/2019 9:04:26 AM
[Issues] Obama-era Scheme Illegally Paid $227 Million to State As A Result of Miscalculations

The federal government incorrectly paid states hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to expand health care coverage before Obamacare's implementation.

The post Obama-era Scheme Illegally Paid $227 Million to State As A Result of Miscalculations appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/25/2019 4:31:02 AM
[2020 Election News] RNC Calls On Biden To Release Transcripts Of Discussions He Had With Ukraine While Vice President

By Chris White -

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is calling on former Vice President Joe Biden to release transcripts of conversations he had with Chinese and Ukrainian officials while he served in the Obama White House. McDaniel’s requests come after President Donald Trump decided to release the transcript of his call with Ukrainian ...

RNC Calls On Biden To Release Transcripts Of Discussions He Had With Ukraine While Vice President is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:9/24/2019 4:26:56 PM
[Markets] Buchanan: Will "Ukraine-Gate" Imperil Biden's Bid? Buchanan: Will "Ukraine-Gate" Imperil Biden's Bid?

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

With the revelation by an intel community “whistleblower” that President Donald Trump, in a congratulatory call to the new president of Ukraine, pushed him repeatedly to investigate the Joe Biden family connection to Ukrainian corruption, the cry “Impeach!” is being heard anew in the land.

But revisiting how this latest scandal came about, and how it has begun to unfold, it is a good bet that the principal casualty could be the former vice president. Consider:

In May 2016, Joe Biden, as Barack Obama’s designated point man on Ukraine, flew to Kiev to inform President Petro Poroshenko that a billion-dollar U.S. loan guarantee had been approved to enable Kiev to continue to service its mammoth debt.

But, said Biden, the aid was conditional. There was a quid pro quo.

If Poroshenko’s regime did not fire its chief prosecutor in six hours, Biden would fly home and Ukraine would get no loan guarantee. Ukraine capitulated instantly, said Joe, reveling in his pro-consul role.

Yet, left out of Biden’s drama about how he dropped the hammer on a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor was this detail.

The prosecutor had been investigating Burisma Holdings, the biggest gas company in Ukraine. And right after the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the pro-Russian government in Kiev, and after Joe Biden had been given the lead on foreign aid for Ukraine, Burisma had installed on its board, at $50,000 a month, Hunter Biden, the son of the vice president.

Joe Biden claims that, though he was point man in the battle on corruption in Ukraine, he was unaware his son was raking in hundreds of thousands from one of the companies being investigated.

Said Joe on Saturday, “I have never spoken to my son about his various business dealings.”

Is this credible?

Trump and Rudy Giuliani suspect not, and in that July 25 phone call, Trump urged President Volodymyr Zelensky to reopen the investigation of Hunter Biden and Burisma.

The media insist there is no story here and the real scandal is that Trump pressed Zelensky to reopen the investigation to target his strongest 2020 rival. Worse, say Trump’s accusers, would be if the president conditioned the transfer of $250 million in approved military aid to Kiev on the new regime’s acceding to his demands.

The questions raised are several:

Is it wrong to make military aid to a friendly nation conditional on that nation’s compliance with legitimate requests or demands of the United States? Is it illegitimate to ask a friendly government to look into what may be corrupt conduct by the son of a U.S. vice president?

Joe Biden has an even bigger problem: This issue has begun to dominate the news at an especially vulnerable moment for his campaign.

Biden’s stumbles and gaffes have already raised alarms among his followers and been seized upon by rivals such as Cory Booker, who has publicly suggested that the 76-year-old former vice president is losing it.

Biden’s lead in the polls also appears shakier with each month. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just taken a narrow lead in a Des Moines Register poll and crusading against Beltway corruption is central to her campaign.

“Too many politicians in both parties have convinced themselves that playing the money-for-influence game is the only way to get things done,” Warren told her massive rally in New York City: “No more business as usual. Let’s attack the corruption head on.”

Soon, it will not only be Trump and Giuliani asking Biden questions abut Ukraine, Burisma and Hunter, but Democrats, too. Calls are rising for Biden’s son to be called to testify before congressional committees.

With Trump airing new charges daily, Biden will be asked to respond by his traveling press. The charges and the countercharges will become what the presidential campaign is all about. Bad news for Joe Biden.

Can he afford to spend weeks, perhaps months, answering for his son’s past schemes to enrich himself through connections to foreign regimes that seem less related to Hunter’s talents than his being the son of a former vice president and possible future president?

“Ukraine-gate” is the latest battle in the death struggle between the “deep state” and a president empowered by Middle America to go to Washington and break that deep state’s grip on the national destiny.

Another issue is raised here - the matter of whistleblowers listening in to or receiving readouts of presidential conversations with foreign leaders and having the power to decide for themselves whether the president is violating his oath and needs to be reported to Congress.

Eisenhower discussed coups in Iran and Guatemala and the use of nuclear weapons in Korea and the Taiwan Strait. JFK, through brother Bobby, cut a secret deal with Khrushchev to move U.S. missiles out of Turkey six months after the Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba.

Who deputized bureaucratic whistleblowers to pass judgment on such conversations and tattle to Congress if they were offended?

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/24/2019 - 10:35
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Published:9/24/2019 9:54:00 AM
[US News] As Bernie Sanders declares ‘billionaires shouldn’t exist,’ Obama’s Ebola Czar points out that his math just doesn’t add up

Elderly socialist Bernie Sanders unveiled a new wealth tax on Monday to target billionaires who he says “should not exist” in America: Billionaires should not exist. https://t.co/hgR6CeFvLa — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 24, 2019 He really hates billionaires: There is no justice when three billionaires are able to own more wealth than the bottom half […]

The post As Bernie Sanders declares ‘billionaires shouldn’t exist,’ Obama’s Ebola Czar points out that his math just doesn’t add up appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/24/2019 9:24:17 AM
[] The Morning Report - 9/24/19 Good morning kids. Tuesday and both the latest attempt to take down President Trump and the ongoing stench stemming out of the original Clinton/Obama coup attempt top the headlines. Based on an alleged "whistleblower's" testimony about the President colluding... Published:9/24/2019 6:23:28 AM
[Law] The fiction of non-partisan judges and Justices (Paul Mirengoff) In a talk at Brigham Young University, Justice Neil Gorsuch denied that the Supreme Court is split along partisan lines. Chief Justice Roberts has made a similar denial. He disputes the idea that there are Obama judges and Trump judges. Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative jurist who would like to join Gorsuch on Roberts on the Supreme Court, has echoed the Chief Justice’s view. At a conference at the College Published:9/23/2019 7:31:34 AM
[Iran] Team Iran (Scott Johnson) If you want to understand the current state of play with Iran, there is nothing better to read than Lee Smith’s “Team Iran. This long Tablet column extricates us from the fog of stupidity that permeates the subject among Democrats and their mainstream media adjunct. I would only add this note. Lee credits Obama with decent motives for realigning foreign policy consistent with Iranian interests. Michael Doran’s 2015 analysis of Published:9/21/2019 11:36:20 AM
[US News] Barack Obama encourages young people to take action on climate change (and he’s obviously confident they will)

"He'll have an oceanfront view of the apocalypse."

The post Barack Obama encourages young people to take action on climate change (and he’s obviously confident they will) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/21/2019 8:33:22 AM
[] Polling Average: Trump's Approval Rating Higher Than Obama's at This Point In Presidency From Newsweek, which still exists. Sort of. President Donald Trump's job approval rating this week averaged across major polls surpassed that of his predecessor President Barack Obama at the same time eight years ago, giving some actual good news to... Published:9/20/2019 3:03:35 PM
[Markets] Trump Whistleblower Drama Puts Biden In The Hot Seat Over Ukraine Trump Whistleblower Drama Puts Biden In The Hot Seat Over Ukraine

For days we've been treated to MSM insinuations that President Trump may have betrayed the United States after a whistleblower lodged an 'urgent' complaint about something Trump promised another world leader - the details of which the White House has refused to share.

Then, we learned it was a phone call.

Then, we learned it was several phone calls.

Now, we learn it wasn't Russia or North Korea - it was Ukraine!

Here's the scandal; It appears that Trump, may have made promises to newly minted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky - very likely involving an effort to convince Ukraine to reopen its investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, after Biden strongarmed Ukraine's prior government into firing its top prosecutor - something Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have pursued for months. There are also unsupported rumors that Trump threatened to withhold $250 million in aid to help Ukraine fight Russian-backed separatists.  

And while the MSM and Congressional Democrats are starting to focus on the sitting US president having a political opponent investigated, The New York Times admits that nothing Trump did would have been illegal, as "while Mr. Trump may have discussed intelligence activities with the foreign leader, he enjoys broad power as president to declassify intelligence secrets, order the intelligence community to act and otherwise direct the conduct of foreign policy as he sees fit." 

Moreover, here's why Trump and Giuliani are going to dig their heels in; last year Biden openly bragged about threatening to hurl Ukraine into bankruptcy as Vice President if they didn't fire their top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin - who was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into a natural gas firm whose board  Hunter Biden sat on. 

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. -The Hill

"I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko. 

"Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," Biden said at the Council on Foreign Relations event - while insisting that former president Obama was complicit in the threat. 

In short, there's both smoke and fire here - and what's left of Biden's 2020 bid for president may be the largest casualty of the entire whistleblower scandal. 

And by the transitive properties of the Obama administration 'vetting' Trump by sending spies into his campaign, Trump can simply say he was protecting America from someone who may have used his position of power to directly benefit his own family at the expense of justice. 

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, are acting as if they've found the holy grail of taking Trump down. On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) interviewed inspector general Michael Atkinson, with whom the whistleblower lodged their complaint - however despite three hours of testimony, he repeatedly declined to discuss the content of the complaint

Following the session, Schiff gave an angry speech - demanding that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire share the complaint, and calling the decision to withhold it "unprecedented." 

"We cannot get an answer to the question about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress," said Schiff, adding "We’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is to make sure that the national security is protected."

According to Schiff, someone "is trying to manipulate the system to keep information about an urgent matter from the Congress … There certainly are a lot of indications that it was someone at a higher pay grade than the director of national intelligence," according to the Washington Post

On thursday, Trump denied doing anything improper - tweeting "Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself."

"Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call.

Giuliani, meanwhile, went on CNN with Chris Cuomo Thursday to defend his discussions with Ukraine about investigating alleged election interference in the 2016 election to the benefit of Hillary Clinton conducted by Ukraine's previous government. According to Giuliani, Biden's dealings in Ukraine were 'tangential' to the 2016 election interference question - in which a Ukrainian court ruled that government officials meddled for Hillary in 2016 by releasing details of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's 'Black Book' to Clinton campaign staffer Alexandra Chalupa.

And so - what the MSM doesn't appear to understand is that President Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Biden over something with legitimate underpinnings.

Which - of course, may lead to the Bidens' adventures in China, which Giuliani referred to in his CNN interview. And just like his Ukraine scandal, it involves actions which may have helped his son Hunter - who was making hand over fist in both countries.

 

Journalist Peter Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash and now Secret Empires discovered that in 2013, then-Vice President Biden and his son Hunter flew together to China on Air Force Two - and two weeks later, Hunter's firm inked a private equity deal for $1 billion with a subsidiary of the Chinese government's Bank of China, which expanded to $1.5 billion

Meanwhile, speculation is rampant over what this hornet's nest means for all involved...

"As the 2020 election draws closer, President Trump and his personal attorney appear to have increased pressure on the Ukrainian government and its justice system in service of President Trump’s reelection campaign, and the White House and the State Department may be abetting this scheme," wrote the chairman of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees wrote in a letter, citing media reports over the alleged threat to withhold $250 million.

House Democrats are also looking into whether Giuliani flew to Ukraine to 'encourage' them to investigate Hunter Biden and his involvement with Burisma. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/20/2019 - 08:10
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Published:9/20/2019 7:27:44 AM
[Markets] No Matter Who Wins In 2020, There Will Be Blood No Matter Who Wins In 2020, There Will Be Blood

Authored by William Gensert via The American Thinker,

The machinations of an illiberal left, on display in its ever-increasing violence accompanied by the ululations of a propagandist media in contravention of an imaginary “white supremacist” right, have riven the nation into diametrically opposed camps.

The right will never accept socialism, while the left will accept nothing less.

Trump Wins

Those on the left will not allow a Trump victory, even should he win the popular vote and the Electoral College.  They are used to getting what they want and like spoiled brats, have learned that tantrums work.

Should Donald Trump prevail in his bid for a second term, the left will go insane, deploying every “insurance policy” weapon at their disposal to negate four more years of the Orange Man.  What Obama, Comey, and Brennan et al. did to Trump in his first term will seem mild in comparison to what the left is planning should he win.

Antifa, the military arm of the Democratic Party, has not spent the last three years practicing and organizing merely to sit on the sidelines.  They have used the interregnum to mobilize and learn tactics, while probing to find what government will allow, media will trumpet, and the public will endure.

The skirling “resistance” has morphed from pajama-boy blobs of perpetually offended little dictators and pussy-hat sporting shriekers into balaclava-wearing avengers who crave the opportunity to put deplorables in their place and give them the government they deserve good and hard.  They will flood the streets after a Trump victory in their Antifa costumes looking to bust the heads of anyone near enough to become part of their 15 minutes of YouTube fame.

It will start in the cities — the Democrat-run cities, of course — where the political leadership will provide them a measure of protection against identification and arrest.  Seattle, Portland, LA, San Francisco, NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, and Baltimore, among others, will become flashpoints of unrest.

The riots will be portrayed by the media and the Democrats as a groundswell of support for deposing a racist president.  They will bemoan the necessity of the violence, destruction, and loss of life, but remind Americans that “the people have spoken.”  Some among the Antifa will be championed.  In lockstep, both the New York Times and the Washington Post will run headlines calling them: “The New Founding Fathers.”  People who fight back will quickly grow in number — even as the media label them “white supremacists.”  Blood will be spilled.

China, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela will plead for calm and offer to mediate the evolving humanitarian crisis…

Trump Loses

The right will never believe the Democrats didn’t cheat their way to victory; in addition to understanding that a Democratic President will undemocratically implement policies by executive order that are inimical to their interests and desires.

Many on the right are weary of leaders who prioritize good press over good policy, and who prefer losing gracefully over winning ugly.  They believe they did build that and that they have not yet made enough money and are fed up with being portrayed as ignorant and evil just because of political disagreements.  Eight years of Obama and three years of watching his slow-motion coup have made them angry.

Tone-deaf to this silent majority and emboldened by victory, the new president will borrow Barry’s “pen and phone” and start issuing executive orders throwing open our borders, banning fossil fuels, and of course, implementing “common sense” gun control.  Buoyed by media, the new president will start with universal background checks and a gun registry.

Eventually, the president will overreach, signing an order for gun confiscation, euphemistically called, “mandatory buybacks.”  Antifa and their ilk will flood the streets in support of seizing these “weapons of war.”  Media will declare, “It’s the will of the people.”

And for the right, that will be the last straw (plastic or paper).

The left doesn’t understand that every gun owner is a single-issue-voter; millions will refuse to give up their guns.  And, many gun owners in this country will not go “meekly into the night,” there will be “rage” against what they will see as a usurpation of their constitutional rights.

Confiscation will go well at first, with gun owners in the cities acquiescing to the knock on the door in the middle of the night and the intimidation of, “Papers please.”

But in flyover country, a different scenario will play out.  Most gun owners will hide their weapons and most local police departments will accept that, not wanting to jail their neighbors.  Resistance will be broad, perhaps encompassing hundreds of millions of Americans.  Barack Obama, for once in the dismal history of his efforts to kill the America we love, will be proven correct.  Americans do “cling to their guns.”

The media will call it “white supremacy,” but a still unregulated internet will be rife with videos of an out of control government battling its own citizens.

The president will call for mobilizing the National Guard.  Some governors will refuse, and army units now overseas will be sent home to deal with the growing unrest.  Mistakes will be made and there will be gunfire in the streets; people will die on both sides.  The  president will desperately call for martial law.

Many Army, National Guard, and police will defect, or desert, or simply refuse orders.

What will happen after that is anybody’s guess.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 17:45
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Published:9/19/2019 4:53:31 PM
[The Blog] Obama exploits teen activist to promote his foundation

"We're a team"

The post Obama exploits teen activist to promote his foundation appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/19/2019 10:27:49 AM
[Markets] Who Really Benefits From The "Iran Attacked Saudi Arabia" Narrative? Who Really Benefits From The "Iran Attacked Saudi Arabia" Narrative?

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

After 9/11, the concept of the “false flag attack” gained prominence in American culture, and ever since, more and more people are starting to question the official narrative whenever new crisis events occur. It is possible that this is why there has not been another attack in the US on the scale of 9/11 since 2001; not because the government is doing a better job with security (there was ample security in operation on 9/11 that for some reason was not utilized), but because it's harder for government agencies to get away fabricated disasters or scapegoating the wrong people as the culprits.

That said, sometimes governments don't need to create a false flag from scratch. Sometimes disasters not of the government's making can be turned into false flags, as long as they can pin the blame on the target they most want to attack.

The elites only need to get away with one major false flag every couple of decades to push the populace into a war or a cultural crisis which can be exploited.

This was essentially the strategy outlined by the “Project For A New American Century”, a foreign policy think tank in the 1990's made up of Neo-Cons and ghouls from the Council On Foreign Relations which called for a “new Pearl Harbor” that would give the US a rationale to enter the Middle East militarily and change the entire political landscape. As Rahm Emanuel once said, “You never want a serious crisis go to waste...”

Of course, they got their Pearl Harbor, but contrary to popular opinion I think it's wrong to assume that the PNAC was designed to open the door to American hegemony. Rather, I think the intention was to cause the opposite – the eventual fall of American geopolitical influence. After all, what happened to the Soviet Union after they bungled into a land war in Afghanistan? Only a long and costly quagmire that ultimately contributed to their economic downfall. This is exactly what is happening to the US today. Are we to believe the elites are completely unaware of this outcome?

To put it another way, perhaps the real goal of efforts toward American hegemony is to sabotage the US image over time, as well as sink it into bankruptcy? But let's examine the underlying factors a little further...

US involvement in the Middle East thus far has led to nothing but disaster. While total financial costs are often debated, general estimates of the combined costs of US involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan are in the area of $5 trillion (a conservative estimate in my opinion). The civilian body count from the Iraq war alone stands at around 208,000 people according to Iraqbodycount.org. US, Israeli and Saudi Arabian covert agencies involved in Libya and Syria trained, funded and armed the same militants that would eventually give rise to ISIS under a program called Timber Sycamore. And, though we continually hear about Trump's intentions to pull US troops out of the region, tens of thousands of soldiers and private contractors remain in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria to this day.

No person in their right mind could claim that US foreign policy in the Middle East has been successful. In fact, the US has lost considerable face and economic stability during these conflicts, which have been perpetuated by BOTH Republican and Democratic administrations. And now, the potential for a war in Iran is rising; a war that could devastate the US economy once and for all.

I would point out here that whatever a person might believe about the details surrounding 9/11, Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with it and the US invaded the nation on false pretenses.  Evidence was faked, the only WMD's the Iraqis had were those the US sold to them in the 1980's, and Saddam had no verifiable ties to Al-Qaeda.  The claims of Western intelligence agencies cannot be taken seriously after such a farce, and we must apply the same skepticism to any accusations they make against Iran.

John Bolton, a primary advocate of the PNAC, was the National Security Adviser to Donald Trump until only a few days ago. I hardly find it coincidental that Iran, one of the final targets on the PNAC hit list, is now being blamed for the latest attack on Saudi Arabian oil production right after Bolton exits the White House. It is often the case that elitists within an administration will jump ship right before their agendas are implemented so that they can redirect any blame for the consequences.

Needless to say, just because John Bolton has left the building doesn't mean his schemes are gone, or that the supposed “disagreement” between Trump and Bolton was even real. Bolton is but one of many puppeteers controlling the Trump Administration...

Wars are not always started through Pearl Harbor-like ambushes on the American people – sometimes they are started through alliances and engineered confrontations on the other side of the world designed to drag the American people kicking and screaming into conflict. The attack on Saudi Aramco's oil processing plants, the largest processing plants in the world, stands as another potential “linchpin”, as RAND Corporation would call it.  An event that sets a domino effect in motion that leads to a global crisis. In this case, it is probably a linchpin that is being exploited as a crisis of opportunity. Or to put it it another way, it is a linchpin because the establishment is MAKING IT into a linchpin.

Initial reports of the attack indicated that it was launched by Yemeni Houthi rebels using drones. The Houthis have publicly accepted responsibility for the attacks. The Houthi rebellion started out as a protest movement against the hard line Yemeni government, which has long been a proxy for Saudi interests in the region. The Houthis demanded free speech rights and greater representation in government. The government responded by trying to imprison the protesters and killing their leadership.

This is not to say that I agree with the Houthi ideology, but I can see the reasoning in their revolt. The Saudi and US drone strikes and bombings in Yemen against the Houthis have been relentless and go widely unreported by the mainstream media. US officials claim that the strikes are aimed at “fighting Al-Qaeda”, but Al-Qaeda is used as a convenient label for just about any group that stands against US interests or allies.

US strikes on the Houthis accelerated under the Obama Adminsitration after a supposed “failed missile attack” on the destroyer USS Mason. The Houthis denied any involvement in the attack, saying it did not originate from their area of control. US strikes in Yemen have continued under Trump.

Political opponents in Yemen and the Saudis have consistently accused the Houthis of being proxies for Iran, and while Iran has publicly supported the Houthi rebellion, the Houthis have ignored Iranian advice on numerous occasions, indicating they are not as controlled as some would like the Western public to believe. I would note that the same media outlets that are screaming today about Iran as the villainous mastermind behind the Houthi insurgency were arguing against that claim only a couple years ago.

The narrative of “state controlled” insurgents is a common one for governments to use when faced with a rebellion they cannot defeat outright. In the war of propaganda, the last thing any establishment controlled dictatorship wants is for the public to view the rebels fighting them as common people and “heroic underdogs”. So, they conjure a story in which the rebellion is actually an evil conspiracy forged by a foreign power. Many conservatives and liberty activists might be able to relate to this, as numerous leftist media outlets have recently accused us of being nothing more than an “astro turf” movement created by the Russians, or at the very least, unwitting dupes manipulated by the Russians.

One of the most important aspects of a rebellion against the establishment is the ability to raise public awareness of the establishment's crimes, but once they are successfully pigeon-holed as a proxy controlled by a foreign power, few in the public will listen to what they have to say no matter how factual it may be.

Saudi Arabia and the US have been exposed for funding and training militants (ISIS) in Syria to start a violent revolution against Bashar al-Assad, so it is a bit hypocritical of them to demonize Iran for any influence they may have with the Houthis. Last I checked, at least the Houthis aren't guilty of committing genocide, cannibalism, nor are they guilty of large scale attacks on civilian targets (though there are plenty of unsupported accusations of attacks on civilians by the Saudi government).  Frankly, if they were responsible for the attack on Saudi oil production as they claim, this represents a strike against a legitimate military target, not a terror attack.

But the real point here is that it does not matter if the Houthis are legitimate, or that they have real grievances against Saudi Arabia, or that they take full credit for the attack on Saudi Aramco – The establishment is going to rewrite the narrative to fit their agenda anyway.

Currently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named Iran directly as being the culprit behind the strikes on Saudi Arabia (still no hard evidence available to verify this). Even though the Saudis stated right after the attack that 10 drones were used, and this corroborates what the Houthis have stated, the story is being quickly “adjusted”. Now, US officials claim that the attack was accomplished with 17 or more “cruise missiles” that originated from the direction of Iran. How the Saudis were able to confuse cruise missiles for drones remains a mystery.

The new official story is being tweaked everyday to counter any predictable skepticism.  For example, the new claim of "terrain hugging" cruise missiles helps to counter anyone who asks how the attack could have thwarted the billions in American Patriot missile systems on Saudi soil?  Patriots are not specifically designed to stop low flying missiles.

However, the Saudis have also purchased AN/TPQ-53 Quick Reaction Capability Radar systems from the US.  This is next gen radar technology that is able to track low flying missiles, aircraft and drones.  But still, the Saudi radar net was somehow defeated?  If this is the case and the accusations are true, then one would have to conclude that Iran has military hardware capable of slipping past some of the best defense technology the US has to offer.

The bottom line is, a Houthi drone attack just doesn't do it for the establishment.  Even if they could substantiate hard military ties between Iran and the insurgents in Yemen, they would not be able to justify war based on the relationship alone.  They have to connect Iran to the attack directly.

Clearly, the goal of this narrative is to create a rationale that allows the Trump Administration to commit to a war with Iran, probably starting with limited air strikes and escalating from there.  When Trump finally gives his statements on evidence that supposedly points to Iran, I suspect he will not say much in terms of what the US reaction will be.  The public (and the markets) will be left to assume that nothing substantial will happen and that it will all fade away.  We will simply wake up one morning to discover that initial strikes against Iranian targets have been launched and that war has begun.  The only other scenario that makes sense at this stage is that another strike against Saudi Arabia will take place within the next couple of weeks and that this will be used as the "final straw".

It was only a matter of time. With the heavy influence of globalists in Trump's cabinet, every major event in the region has been somehow tied to Iran, from attacks on random oil tankers to Palestinian and Lebanese opposition to Israel and so on.

Trump could not use a downed drone to start a war, that was not enough to convince the American public. Those people who applauded Trump as some kind of peacemaker for not initiating strikes on Iran for a single downed drone missed the bigger picture. War with Iran is baked into the cake; it is simply a matter of finding the right trigger.  Perhaps skyrocketing oil prices in the face of “Iranian sponsored terrorism” will be exactly what the globalists needed.

Is it coincidence that this event is being hyped by the establishment as an Iranian agenda right after John Bolton leaves the White House? Is it a coincidence that it is being hyped after Russia recently warned that oil might drop to $25 a barrel on falling global demand? Is it a coincidence that it is being hyped right after Iran announced it was utilizing advanced Uranium centrifuges? Is it a coincidence that Trump now has an excuse to not reopen negotiations on Iran sanctions?

And, as noted at the beginning of this article, if you believe as I do that the globalists are seeking to completely destabilize the US with Donald Trump at the helm in order to destroy the image of the conservative movement and sovereignty activists by association, then a war with Iran would surely do the trick.

As covered in my article 'Globalists Only Need One More Major Event To Finish Sabotaging The Economy', published in May, a conflict with Iran would be a perfect catalyst for a final plunge in US markets in the midst of trade war tensions and tight Fed liquidity. Also, a war in Iran would inevitably lead to a shutdown of the Strait of Hormuz through which around 30% of the global oil supply flows, increasing oil prices exponentially along with international anger at the US. It would further galvanize China and most of the world to decouple from the US economically and eventually dump US treasuries and the dollar as the world reserve currency.

At the same time, the globalists will have effectively exploited the Trump Administration, which they may not intend to remain in office after 2020 anyway, as a tool for launching a war they have long wanted but could not trick the American public into supporting.  Right now, it doesn't matter if the American public agrees or not.

This is the true strategic brilliance of using Trump as a puppet president. Under Trump, the globalists can take actions they have always wanted to pursue and then lay all blame at the feet of conservatives. With Trump, it's irrelevant if the White House loses face. He has been built up as a “populist” and anti-globalist, therefore any disaster he oversees will become the fault of populists and anti-globalists. This is why people should expect war in Iran in the near term. The temptation for the globalists to light the fuse with Trump as president must be overwhelming.

To understand why the elites would want the fall of the US, I suggest reading my article on the globalist end game HERE. While OPEC may benefit from higher oil prices in the face of dwindling global demand, and the Neo-Cons may benefit from seeing their PNAC plans for destabilizing the Middle East come to fruition, it is truly the globalists that have the most to gain by linking Iran to the Saudi Aramco attack and plunging the US into a war it cannot survive economically.

Simply put, they see crisis and chaos as the fastest stimulants of fear, and the most useful engines for global change. They are seeking to kill two birds with one stone – Break down the old world order to make way for their "new world order" while wrapping the catastrophic effects on the populace around the necks of their biggest ideological enemies.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Wed, 09/18/2019 - 23:55
Published:9/18/2019 11:19:41 PM
[Markets] Gun Store Runs Out Of "Beto Special" Named After Gun-Grabbing Communist Gun Store Runs Out Of "Beto Special" Named After Gun-Grabbing Communist

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

A gun store in Arizona has run out of both the AR-15 and the AK-47 rifles they put on a sale named the “Beto Special.”

This gun sale was in response to threats made by Communist Beto O’Rourke, who said: 

“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

Much like totalitarians and communists before him, O’Rourke has threatened to use force and violence to disarm innocent people to accumulate guns in the hands of those in the government.  History has an uncanny way of repeating itself and humanity never seems to learn the hard lessons.

Barack Obama used to be a great gun salesman, but it appears that upping the commie ante has propelled O’Rourke past the former president. But free people who reject authority over their lives took action. Alpha Dog Firearms Owner Matt Boggs was outraged after O’Rourke’s threat. In an interview with The HolloNet, Boggs said: 

“I saw the comments that he made, and I was kinda like, ‘You know what: the Hell with this guy!” Boggs said O’Rourke’s threats of theft and violence against innocent people made him determined to sell more guns even if it meant losing money on them.

Alpha Dog Firearms was so overwhelmed with customers, that they ended up selling 200 rifles in two hours.   That prompted Boggs to post an afternoon update on Facebook that read:

UPDATE: SOLD OUT. More deals will be on the website soon. Y’all broke our internet today!!!

According to a report by CNS News, Boggs and Alpha Dog Firearms are no strangers to colorful promotions. On Sunday, Alpha Dog hosted an “Area 51 Invasion Training” event at a local shooting range. “Come out to the Alien Shoot,” Boggs says in a Facebook video live from the event.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/18/2019 - 21:15
Published:9/18/2019 8:19:32 PM
[Markets] Obama weighs in on Big Data, privacy in Silicon Valley fireside chat The slippery slope of data has never been more crucial, former President Barack Obama warns in a far-ranging fireside chat at a tech conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Published:9/18/2019 3:57:41 PM
[Trump Administration] Trump Touts Decision To End California’s Ability To Set Its Own Emission Rules

By Chris White -

Donald Trump success

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter his move to end California’s authority to craft emission regulations that are stricter than federal rules, a move that comes as the president continues roll back Obama-era regulations. “The Trump Administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less ...

Trump Touts Decision To End California’s Ability To Set Its Own Emission Rules is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:9/18/2019 10:52:05 AM
[] The Morning Rant "The Obamas just plunked down nearly $15 million for a mansion located in, of all places, Martha's Vineyard, one of the hoitiest-toitiest areas in the country. I suppose I could ask how, on his salary, President Obama was able to... Published:9/18/2019 10:18:40 AM
[Markets] A View Of The U.S. From Across The Atlantic A View Of The U.S. From Across The Atlantic

Authored by Andrew Asjh via The Gatestone Institute,

  • My friends assured me there were terrible, terrible things that would become apparent in the ensuing months.

  • Even in the extended echo-chamber of social media, there appeared to be a seemingly pathological fear of anything even remotely resembling a balanced view.

  • The only thing that has not changed is the Democrats' make-believe view that President Trump and the Russians were somehow trying to rig the election, when it was, in fact, they themselves who were doing that.

Before the advent of online news, residents of the UK had to rely on the British press to report on the minutiae of the American political system -- something that didn't happen all that often. In politics what went on in the USA, stayed in the USA, most of it at least. Beyond a major political upheaval, or the swearing in of a new president, news reportage was more concerned with the cut and thrust of our own routine domestic politics.

Only the bickering between the Democrats and Republicans rang a familiar note, mirroring as it did, our British Punch and Judy stereotype, with the stuffy old Tories on one side, and the loony-left Labour on the other.

By 2008, along with the advent of social media, and a growing awareness of international affairs, it became increasingly impossible not to notice the apparently out of proportion intensity driving the Democrat-Republican voter divide. Heralded in by the arrival of the US's first president "of colour", Barack Obama, and coinciding with the rising usage of Twitter and Facebook, the "Left" seemed to jump at the chance of embracing the one-dimensional limitations of an "echo chamber". The "echo-chamber" served not only to widen the chasm between left and right, but -- even to the outsider -- noticeably amplified the animosity between the two sides. Compared to the almost polite political rivalry between voters and parties in Britain, the political division in the US began looking distinctly engineered.

My American friends, in an effort to help me try and understand their conclusions, sent a raft of articles from the US mainstream media, which, in their bias, displayed the same lack of integrity as my friends'. Even in the extended echo-chamber of social media, there appeared to be a seemingly pathological fear of anything even remotely resembling a balanced view.

Then, along came the 2016 election and the arrival of presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Whilst the UK was not looking, war seemed to have broken out. If I was not prepared forthrightly to dismiss Trump as the white supremacist he so obviously and professedly was, it was clear that if I was not careful, I would be tarred by the same brush.

My friends assured me there were terrible, terrible things that would become apparent in the ensuing months. The problem was, they never once articulated any of them. Their suspicions all appeared to be hysterical unfounded inferences.

The evident reluctance by left-wing media outlets to condemn a -- by now -- extremely guilty-looking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now seemed unfair. Much of the media seemed all too happy to turn a blind eye to the Benghazi affair, her "unusual" email practices and other seemingly incriminating pranks. The media also seemed to ignore the treasure-trove of information on the suspect machinations of the DNC and its incumbents and other dubious goings on, including truncated FBI investigations, the "controversial" resignation of Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the sudden departure from CNN of Donna Brazile after having fed questions to Clinton prior to the televised presidential debates, and so on.

The potential skulduggery seemed never ending. How come my friends had never mentioned any of this? Surely, they knew? The echo chamber, it appeared, was hermetically sealed. Even then US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her "secret" meeting with former President Bill Clinton aboard the Justice Department's jet just before she was due to deliver her verdict on his wife, failed to raise an eyebrow. How was that possible?

One would never have known the depths of the corruption taking place right under everyone's noses, or indeed, the lengths to which their top brass representatives were willing to go to manipulate an election. It was not just a couple of dodgy individuals, working overtime for their own self-enrichment; there was a whole bunch of them at it. Worse, it seemed they had been doing it for a very long time -- and all of it under the auspices of their beloved president.

A hardened, contemptible cynic might even have thought that the 2016 presidential election result was meant to have been a foregone conclusion, with no suspicious activity ever exposed.

It was hard by now not to be intrigued by this murky, cloak and dagger world of deceit. The farther down the rabbit hole one looked in this saga, the harder it became not to surmise that, for all their faults, the Republican party, and in particular, Mr. Trump, were the "good guys." One half of the country was deliberately being pitted, with fake information, against the other. This division seems to be one that the mainstream media have, ever since, been trying to blame on Donald Trump, despite it clearly being a war that they themselves had cooked up.

As the story grows, and more of the players become exposed -- Andrew McCabeJames ComeyPeter StrzokLisa PageJohn BrennanJames Clapper, Rod RosensteinAndrew WeissmannSally YatesSamantha PowerSusan Rice, and even President Obama -- the list goes on and on -- my interest in US politics has soared to levels I never thought possible, and for all the wrong reasons. The only thing that has not changed is the Democrats' storybook view that President Trump and the Russians were somehow trying to rig the election, when it was, in fact, they themselves who were doing that.

When then President Obama was asked about the possibility of rigging the 2016 elections, he told then-candidate Trump to "stop whining":

"There is no serious person out there who would suggest that you could even rig America's elections, in part because they are so decentralized. There is no evidence that that has happened in the past, or that there are instances that that could happen this time."

It then turned out that Secretary Clinton and the DNC had also been rigging the Democrats' presidential primaries and nomination process against Senator Bernie Sanders, as well.

After all that has emerged over the past couple of years, during investigation after investigation, it seems impossible that these officials could honestly be sincere. For now, I am not holding my breath that my friends on the left might one day wake up and do some research of their own; but as an impartial observer with no dog in this fight, I know which side I would rather back.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/17/2019 - 02:00
Tags
Published:9/17/2019 1:11:16 AM
[Markets] Escobar: We Are All Hostages Of 9/11 Escobar: We Are All Hostages Of 9/11

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Saker blog,

After years of reporting on the Great War on Terror, many questions behind the US attacks remain unresolved...

Pakistanis raise their weapons in the border town of Bajour as they shout anti-US slogans before leaving for Afghanistan in October 2001. Thousands from this tribal area go to join the Taliban in its ‘holy war’ against the US. Photo: AFP /Tariq Mahmood

Afghanistan was bombed and invaded because of 9/11. I was there from the start, even before 9/11. On August 20, 2001, I interviewed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of the Panjshir,” who told me about an “unholy alliance” of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the ISI (Pakistani intel).

Back in Peshawar, I learned that something really big was coming: my article was published by Asia Times on August 30. Commander Massoud was killed on September 9: I received a terse email from a Panjshir source, only stating, “the commander has been shot.” Two days later, 9/11 happened.

And yet, the day before, none other than Osama bin Laden, in person, was in a Pakistani hospital in Rawalpindi, receiving treatment, as CBS reported. Bin Laden was proclaimed the perpetrator already at 11am on 9/11 – with no investigation whatsoever. It should have been not exactly hard to locate him in Pakistan and “bring him to justice.”

In December 2001 I was in Tora Bora tracking bin Laden – under B-52 bombers and side by side with Pashtun mujahideen. Later, in 2011, I would revisit the day bin Laden vanished forever.

One year after 9/11, I was back in Afghanistan for an in-depth investigation of the killing of Massoud. By then it was possible to establish a Saudi connection: the letter of introduction for Massoud’s killers, who posed as journalists, was facilitated by commander Sayyaf, a Saudi asset.

Saudi-born alleged terror mastermind Osama bin Laden is seen in a video taken at a secret site in Afghanistan. This was aired by Al-Jazeera on Oct. 7, 2001, the day the US launched bombing of terrorist camps, airbases and air defense installations in its campaign against the Taliban for sheltering bin Laden. Photo: AFP

For three years my life revolved around the Global War on Terror; most of the time I lived literally on the road, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and Brussels. At the start of ‘Shock and Awe’ on Iraq, in March 2003, Asia Times published my in-depth investigation of which neo-cons concocted the war on Iraq.

In 2004, roving across the US, I re-traced the Taliban’s trip to Texas, and how a top priority, since the Clinton years all the way to the neo-cons, was about what I had baptized as “Pipelineistan” – in this case how to build the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, bypassing Iran and Russia, and extending US control of Central and South Asia.

Later on, I delved into the hard questions the 9/11 Commission never asked, and how Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign was totally conditioned by and dependent on 9/11.

Michael Ruppert, a CIA whistleblower, who may – or may not – have committed suicide in 2014, was a top 9/11 analyst. We exchanged a lot of information, and always emphasized the same points: Afghanistan was all about (existent) heroin and (non-existent) pipelines.

In 2011, the late, great Bob Parry would debunk more Afghanistan lies. And in 2017, I would detail a top reason why the US will never leave Afghanistan: the heroin rat line.

Now, President Trump may have identified a possible Afghan deal – which the Taliban, who control two-thirds of the country, are bound to refuse, as it allows withdrawal of only 5,000 out of 13,000 US troops. Moreover, the US ‘Deep State’ is absolutely against any deal, as well as India and the rickety government in Kabul.

But Pakistan and China are in favor, especially because Beijing plans to incorporate Kabul into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and have Afghanistan admitted as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, thus attaching the Hindu Kush and the Khyber Pass to the ongoing Eurasia integration process.

Praying for a Pearl

Eighteen years after the game-changing fact, we all remain hostages of 9/11. US neocons, gathered at the Project for the New American Century, had been praying for a “Pearl Harbor” to reorient US foreign policy since 1997. Their prayers were answered beyond their wildest dreams.

Already in The Grand Chessboard, also published in 1997, former National Security Adviser and Trilateral Commission co-founder Zbigniew Brzezinski, nominally not a neocon, had pointed out that the American public “supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”

So, Brzezinski added, America “may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.”

As an attack on the homeland, 9/11 generated the Global War on Terror, launched at 11pm on the same day, initially christened “The Long War” by the Pentagon, later sanitized as Overseas Contingency Operations by the Obama administration. This cost trillions of dollars, killed over half a million people and branched out into illegal wars against seven Muslim nations – all justified on “humanitarian grounds” and allegedly supported by the “international community.”

Year after year, 9/11 is essentially a You Have The Right to Accept Only The Official Version ritual ceremony, even as widespread evidence suggests the US government knew 9/11 would happen and did not stop it.

Three days after 9/11, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that in June 2001, German intelligence warned the CIA that Middle East terrorists were “planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture.”

In August 2001, President Putin ordered Russian intel to tell the US government “in the strongest possible terms” of imminent attacks on airports and government buildings, MSNBC revealed in an interview with Putin that was broadcast on September 15 that year.

No US government agency has released any information on who used foreknowledge of 9/11 in the financial markets. The US Congress did not even raise the issue. In Germany, investigative financial journalist Lars Schall has been working for years on a massive study detailing to a great extent insider trading before 9/11.

While NORAD sleeps

Discrediting the official, immutable 9/11 narrative remains the ultimate taboo. Hundreds of architects and engineers engaged in meticulous technical debunking of all aspects of 9/11’s official story are summarily dismissed as “conspiracy theorists.”

In contrast, skepticism rooted in Greek and Latin tradition came up with arguably the best documentary on 9/11: Zero, an Italian production. Just as arguably the most stimulating book on 9/11 is also Italian: The Myth of September 11, by Roberto Quaglia, which offers a delicately nuanced narrative of 9/11 as a myth structured as a movie. The book became a huge hit in Eastern Europe.

Serious questions suggest quite plausible suspects to be investigated regarding 9/11, far more than 19 Arabs with box cutters. Ten years ago, in Asia Times, I asked 50 questions, some of them extremely detailed, about 9/11. After reader demand and suggestions, I added 20 more. None of these questions were convincingly addressed – not to mention answered – by the official narrative.

World public opinion is directed to believe that on the morning of 9/11 four airliners, presumably hijacked by 19 Arabs with box cutters, traveled undisturbed – for two hours – across the most controlled airspace on the planet, which is supervised by the most devastating military apparatus ever.

American Airlines Flight 11 deviated from its path at 8.13am and crashed into the first World Trade Center tower at 8.57am. Only at 8.46am did NORAD – the North American Aerospace Defense Command – order that two intercepting F-15s take off from Otis military base.

A hijacked commercial plane crashes into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 in New York. Photo: AFP / Set McAllister

By a curious coincidence a Pentagon war game was in effect on the morning of 9/11 – so air-controllers’ radars may have registered only ‘ghost signals’ of nonexistent aircraft simulating an air attack. Well, it was much more complicated than that, as demonstrated by professional pilots.

‘Angel was next’

World public opinion is also directed to believe that a Boeing 757 – with a wingspan of 38 meters – managed to penetrate the Pentagon through a six-meter-wide hole and at the height of the first floor. A Boeing 757 with landing gear is 13 meters high. Airliners electronically refuse to crash – so it’s quite a feat to convince one to fly five to 10 meters above the ground, landing gear on, at a lightning speed of 800 kilometers an hour.

According to the official narrative, the Boeing 757 literally pulverized itself. Yet even after pulverization, it managed to perforate six walls of three rings of the Pentagon, leaving a two-meter wide hole in the last wall but only slightly damaging the second and third rings. The official narrative is that the hole was caused by the plane’s nose – still quite hard even after pulverization. Yet the rest of the plane – a mass of 100 tons traveling at 800 kilometers an hour – miraculously stopped at the first ring.

All that happened under the stewardship of one Hani Hanjour, who three weeks before had been judged by his flight instructors to be incapable of piloting a Cessna. Hanjour, nonetheless, managed to accomplish an ultra-fast spiral descent at 270 degrees, aligning at a maximum 10 meters above ground, minutely calibrating the trajectory, and keeping a cruise speed of roughly 800 kilometers an hour.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, left, and US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld brief reporters at the Pentagon on Oct. 8, 2001 following the US bombing raids on Afghanistan in response to 9/11 attacks. Photo: AFP / Luke Frazza

At 9.37am, Hanjour hit precisely the Pentagon’s budget analysts’ office, where everyone was busy working on the mysterious disappearance of no less than $2.3 trillion that Defense Secretary Donald “Known Unknowns” Rumsfeld, in a press conference the day before, said could not be tracked. So, it’s not only Boeings that get pulverized inside the Pentagon.

World public opinion is also directed to believe that Newtonian physics was suspended as a special bonus for WTC 1 and 2 on 9/11 (not to mention WTC 7, which was not even hit by any plane). The slower WTC tower took 10 seconds to fall 411 meters, starting from immobility. So it fell at 148 kilometers an hour. Considering the initial acceleration time, it was a free fall, not the least impeded by 47 massive, vertical steel beams that composed the tower’s structural heart.

World public opinion is also directed to believe that United Airlines Flight 93 – 150 tons of aircraft with 45 people, 200 seats, luggage, a wingspan of 38 meters – crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and also literally pulverized itself, totally disappearing inside a hole six meters by three meters wide and only two meters deep.

Suddenly, Air Force One was “the only plane in the sky.” Colonel Mark Tillman, who was on board, recalled:

“We get this report that there’s a call saying ‘Angel’ was next. No one really knows now where the comment came from – it got mistranslated or garbled amid the White House, the Situation Room, the radio operators. ‘Angel’ was our code name. The fact that they knew about ‘Angel,’ well, you had to be in the inner circle.”

This means that 19 Arabs with box cutters, and most of all their handlers, surely must have been “in the inner circle.” Inevitably, this was never fully investigated.

Already in 1997, Brzezinski had warned, “it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America.”

In the end, much to the despair of US neocons, all the combined sound and fury of 9/11 and the Global War on Terror/Overseas Contingency Operations, in less than two decades, ended up metastasized into not only a challenger but a Russia-China strategic partnership. This is the real “enemy” – not al-Qaeda, a flimsy figment of the CIA’s imagination, rehabilitated and sanitized as “moderate rebels” in Syria.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 23:45
Published:9/16/2019 11:08:52 PM
[a0d1be06-027a-5b2f-b49e-8b98320ae45b] Trump suggests investigation into Barack and Michelle Obama's books, Netflix deals President Trump targeted both of Barack Obama's post-presidency deals in a series of tweets on Monday, calling for an investigation into the former president's book and Netflix projects. Published:9/16/2019 11:08:52 PM
[Markets] Incentives (And Sociopaths) Rule The World Incentives (And Sociopaths) Rule The World

Authored by Michael Krieger via The Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Ryan Murphy, an economist at Southern Methodist University, recently published a working paper in which he ranked each of the states by the predominance of—there’s no nice way to put it—psychopaths. The winner? Washington in a walk. In fact, the capital scored higher on Murphy’s scale than the next two runners-up combined.

“I had previously written on politicians and psychopathy, but I had no expectation D.C. would stand out as much as it does,” Murphy wrote in an email…

On a national level, it raises the troubling question as to what it means to live in a country whose institutions are set up to reward some very dubious human traits. Like it or not, we’re more likely than not to wind up with some alarming personalities in positions of power.

– From last year’s Politico article, Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America

One of the most frustrating aspects of modern American politics - and the culture in general - is our all encompassing fixation on the superficial. It’s also one of the main reasons I have very little interest in presidential politics, which basically consists of a bunch of billionaire friendly puppets auditioning to become the next public face of imperial oligarchy. Though I understand the desire for quick fixes, our focus on highlighting and mitigating only the symptoms of societal decay as opposed to the root causes, ensures we’ll never achieve the sort of positive paradigm-level shift necessary to bring humankind forward.

The truth of the matter is incentives rule the world, and if we look at some of the most pernicious and predatory areas of our socio-economic reality, including (but not limited to) the financial sector, the defense industry, intelligence agencies and healthcare, we find a slew of incentives that handsomely reward sociopathic behavior, while penalizing ethical, conscious action beneficial to society at large. Notice it’s always the whistleblowers who end up imprisoned or hunted down.

In the economic realm, if we think about the idea of a competitive free market, the primary reason the profit incentive exists and is widely accepted is the implicit understanding that people should be incentivized to create a product or service that benefits the public at large. While we still have remnants of this at play within the modern U.S. economy, much of the “wealth” attained these days is a direct consequence of rent-seeking, parasitic behavior and corruption of one kind or another. The reason is pretty simple. It’s incentivized.

When you have a financial fraud crime spree like the one witnessed earlier this century and your response is to bail out the criminals and ensure no executives go to jail, it’s essentially a gigantic bell ringing in the ears of every scoundrel on the planet. It’s open season for sociopaths. The Obamas weren’t super wealthy when Barack became President, yet they’re now worth an estimated $40 million (likely more given the size of their real estate purchases). The same thing happened to the Clintons. They’ve reportedly earned $240 million since Lolita express frequent flier Bill left office.

The most surefire way to succeed in America today is to be a high-functioning sociopath who scratches the backs of other high-functioning sociopaths. As such, the most pressing problem at a root level is that our economy and society incentivizes sociopathic behavior by systematically funneling sociopaths into positions of unaccountable power. If this sounds insane it’s because it is. The very structure of how our society functions is in fact insane.

These are the people running the show. They infect every country, every industry, every government. All the halls of power. Until we figure out a way to marginalize humanity’s sociopaths rather than hand them the reins of power globally, we’ll continue to repeat the current pointless, destructive cycle.

I’m certain the current mainstream political discussion in the U.S. isn’t serious because so few people are focused on the structure of society itself. There’s very little focus on incentives, on the fact that our entire economy functions as a promotion mechanism for sociopaths. No amount of tinkering around the edges is going to dramatically transform the human experience into something more positive until we figure out a way to make society itself resistant to sociopath takeover.

Significantly, one of the most in your face examples of sociopath dominance relates to imperial military policy, which has nothing to do with national defense and everything to do with national offense. It’s simply about utilizing state murder to advance power and profit for a few. The incentives are completely backwards, which is why it never gets better.

There are few things a human being can do more evil and depraved than lying a nation into war, yet that’s precisely what the proponents of the Iraq war did. More significantly, what consequences have befallen the proponents of that war? Increased fame and fortune in most cases. In fact, one of them is currently the leading contender for the Democratic Party nomination for President.

When you incentivize murderous behavior, you get more of it. Those who stand to benefit most from war should also have the most to lose, but our current system functions in the exact opposite way.

All that said, perhaps the most concerning instance of perverse incentives in society today can be found in the relationship between the national security state and average citizens. The way it works, and it’s rapidly getting worse, is you the individual have zero right to privacy while the national security state can classify what the CIA director ate for lunch. Those with the most power are subject to the least transparency, while the powerless masses are subject to mass surveillance. This unaccountable, authoritarian structure will continue to ensure the worst people alive end up in the highest echelons of power. What self-respecting sociopath wouldn’t be attracted to a system where you get to exercise total dominance over hundreds of millions of people with zero accountability? It’s like bees to honey.

If you build a house with a bad foundation you’re going to have problems. The same thing can be said about civilizations. We need to admit we live a world that incentivizes the worst amongst us to attain all meaningful positions of power.

Begging a sociopath for scraps of food might help you survive another day, but it won’t result in sustainable long-term progress. We need to see sociopaths for the societal cancer they are and completely reorient our incentive structure in order to reward conscious, cooperative behavior as opposed to ruthless parasitism. Change the incentives and you’ll change the outcome.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 22:25
Published:9/16/2019 9:39:41 PM
[Markets] Russia Absolutely Pwn3d The FBI During Obama Years: Report Russia Absolutely Pwn3d The FBI During Obama Years: Report

Shortly before the Obama administration approved a deal granting Russia 20% of America's uranium, US intelligence agencies discovered that the Kremlin had "dramatically improved their ability to decrypt certain types of secure communications and had successfully tracked devices used by elite FBI surveillance teams," according to Yahoo News, which interviewed 50 current and former intelligence and national security officials. 

Part of the Russian Federation's riverfront compound on Maryland's Eastern Shore. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

In September 2011, Vladimir Putin announced the launch of his third presidential campaign, only to be confronted during the following months by tens of thousands of protesters accusing him of electoral fraud. Putin, a former intelligence officer, publicly accused then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of fomenting the unrest.

It was around this time that Putin’s spies in the United States, operating under diplomatic cover, achieved what a former senior intelligence official called a “stunning” technical breakthrough, demonstrating their relentless focus on the country they’ve long considered their primary adversary. -Yahoo News

Here are the core claims: 

  • Around 2012, US officials realized that Russians had massively breached the FBI's communications - including "hacking into computers not connected to the internet," and compromising the FBI teams' "cellphones outfitted with “push-to-talk” walkie-talkie capabilities" used as backup communications devices. 
  • "Russians were able to intercept, record and eventually crack the codes to FBI radio communications." 
  • The intelligence allowed Russian spies in American cities "including Washington, New York and San Francisco" key insights into how FBI surveillance teams were operating
  • The intercepted communications likely contained the "actual substance of FBI communications," and "opportunities to potentially shake off FBI surveillance and communicate with sensitive human sources, check on remote recording devices and even gather intelligence on their FBI pursuers."
  • "Mobile listening posts" were deployed in which "Some Russian intelligence officers, carrying signals intelligence gear, would walk near FBI surveillance teams. Others drove vans full of listening equipment aimed at intercepting FBI teams’ communications." 
  • The Russians could only crack "moderately encrypted communications," not the strongest types of encryption employed by the US government for sensitive transmissions. 
  • After the breach was discovered, the FBI switched back to encrypted radios - and "expensive venture" according to one former counterintelligence official. 
  • The revelations caused the CIA to curtail certain types of communications with overseas sources, and "had to resort to a whole series of steps" to prevent Russian eavesdropping. 
  • The Russians primarily operated out of government compounds in Maryland and New York - both shuttered by the Obama administration in response to 2016 election hacking allegations - played a central role in the espionage. They were "basically being used as signals intelligence facilities," according to the report - citing a former senior national security official. 

How did this happen?

According to the report: "A former senior counterintelligence official blamed the compromises on a “hodgepodge of systems” ineffective beyond the line of sight. “The infrastructure that was supposed to be built, they never followed up, or gave us the money for it,” said the former official. “The intelligence community has never gotten an integrated system.”

The limitations of the radio technology, said the former senior officials, led the FBI’s surveillance personnel to communicate on the backup systems.

Eventually they switched to push-to-talk cellphones,” said a former counterintelligence executive. “The tech guys would get upset by that, because if they could intercept radio, they might be able to intercept telephones.”

That is indeed what happened. Those devices were then identified and compromised by Russian intelligence operatives. (A number of other countries’ surveillance teams — including those from hostile services — also transitioned from using radios to cellphones during this time, noted another former official.)"

Fallout and damage control

In addition to embarking on sweeping and expensive technology upgrades, 'unnerved' US officials scrambled to shore up holes in our security - switching back to encrypted radios - an "expensive venture." 

Once the compromises of FBI communications devices were confirmed, U.S. officials scrambled to minimize the exposure of mobile surveillance team operations, quickly putting countermeasures in place, according to former senior officials. There was a “huge concern” about protecting the identities of the individuals on the teams — an elite, secret group — said the former senior counterintelligence official. U.S. officials also conducted a damage assessment and repeatedly briefed select White House officials and members of Congress about the compromise. -Yahoo News

"Anytime you find out that an adversary has these capabilities, it sets off a ripple effect," said one former senior national security official. "The Russians are able to extract every capability from any given technology. ... They are singularly dangerous in this area."

Mark Kelton, who served as the chief of counterintelligence at the CIA until he retired in 2015, declined to discuss specific Russian operations, but he told Yahoo News that “the Russians are a professionally proficient adversary who have historically penetrated every American institution worth penetrating.”

This remains a core worry for U.S. spy hunters. The number of ongoing espionage investigations into U.S. government personnel — at the CIA, the FBI and elsewhere — including those potentially recruited by Russia, “is not a little, it’s a lot,” said another former senior counterintelligence official. -Yahoo News

What's more, FBI officials were concerned that some of its assets had been compromised - consequently cutting off contact with some of its Russian sources. 

Meanwhile, some of the FBI's Russian sources stopped cooperating with their American handlers. "There were a couple instances where a recruited person had said, ‘I can’t meet you anymore," revealed a former senior intelligence official. 

"We didn’t understand that they were at political war with us already in the second term once Putin was reelected and Obama himself was reelected," said Obama's former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, Evelyn Farkas (of "spilling the beans" Russiagate fame). 

Read the rest of the report here

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 20:05
Published:9/16/2019 7:12:17 PM
[The Blog] Castro once praised Obama’s tough “enforcement” on immigration

Those were the days

The post Castro once praised Obama’s tough “enforcement” on immigration appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/16/2019 3:37:35 PM
[2019 News] Apparently Russia Had FBI’s Number Under Obama, Were Defeating Surveillance Techniques, And May Have Breached Counterintelligence Agency Communications Apparently Russia Had FBI’s Number Under Obama, Were Defeating Surveillance Techniques, And May Have Breached Counterintelligence Agency Communications. So evidently ‘Russia-Russia-Russia’ was about Obama and Comey being asleep at the wheel, not Trump. Published:9/16/2019 2:36:13 PM
[Markets] Johnstone: Biden's Brain Is Swiss Cheese And It's Creepy That We're Not All Talking About It Johnstone: Biden's Brain Is Swiss Cheese And It's Creepy That We're Not All Talking About It

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

I didn’t watch the last Democratic presidential primary debates because I figured that without Tulsi Gabbard in there shaking things up it would be a boring, vapid parade of insubstantial verbal foam, and I love myself too much to go through such a horrible ordeal. By all accounts my prediction was correct, but I did miss one thing that’s been making the rounds in video clips for the last couple of days which I find absolutely bizarre.

Most of you have probably heard about Biden’s infamous “record player” comment by now, but for those of you who missed it, Biden was asked by debate moderator Linsey Davis to defend some comments he made about America’s problems with racism in the 1970s, and he responded by essentially saying that Black people don’t know how to raise their kids so they need to be taught how by social workers. Biden has been receiving mainstream criticism for his racist and paternalistic position, along with plenty of mockery for saying that parents need to be told to “make sure you have the record player on at night” so that kids hear enough words in early childhood.

It is pretty clear that Biden was trying to communicate an idea that is premised on a deeply racist and condescending worldview, so it’s to be expected that people would want to talk about that. It’s also to be expected that people would be making jokes about how the cute old man said “record player” like a grandpa. But what isn’t being discussed nearly enough is the fact that what Biden said was also a barely coherent, garbled word salad stumbling out of a brain that is clearly being eaten alive by a very serious neurological disease.

I’ve typed out a transcript of what Biden actually said, verbatim. There are no typos. I’ve also noted where Biden closes his eyes, probably to concentrate, which he does whenever he seems to be struggling especially hard to string words together. Try to read through it slowly, word-for-word, resisting the instinct to mentally re-frame it into something more coherent:

“Well they have to deal with the — Look, there is institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved I started dealing with that. Redlining. Banks. Making sure that we’re in a position where — Look, talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title 1 schools, triple the amount of money we spend from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise that equal [closes eyes] raise to getting out — the sixty-thousand dollar level.

“Number two: make sure that we bring into the help the — [closes eyes] the student, the, the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home. We need — We have one school psychologist for every fifteen hundred kids in America today. It’s crazy. The teachers are reca — Now, I’m married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. [Closes eyes briefly] We have make sure that every single child does in fact have three, four, and five year-olds go to school — school, not daycare. School. We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t wanna help, they don’t want — they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television, [closes eyes tightly] the — ‘scuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the-the-the-the phone, make sure the kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school, [closes eyes] a very poor background, will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.”

Notice how it gets more garbled the longer he speaks. The response I transcribed was about eighty seconds in length. That was just one small part of a debate in which the former vice president performed no better and forgot three of his fellow candidates’ names.

Compare this befuddled, incoherent mess with footage of a younger Biden, like his famous quip about how Rudy Giuliani only ever mentions “a noun and a verb and 9/11” in a sentence, or this clip where he said if Israel didn’t exist America would have to invent it to protect its interests in the Middle East. Biden has always been notoriously gaffe-prone, but he was also sharp, alert, and articulate enough to deliver a punchline. As journalist Michael Tracey has been pointing out, what we’re consistently seeing over and over again from the former vice president now are not “gaffes”, but clear signs of cognitive decline. Contrast the difference between Biden’s younger footage and what was seen at the last debate with footage of Bernie Sanders throughout the decades, who has remained virtually identical save for appearance and hoarseness. Age does not account for this difference. Biden’s brain is dying.

It is certainly understandable that people are concerned about the presidential frontrunner having a racist worldview. But what’s really weird and creepy is how few people are discussing the obvious fact that the presidential forerunner is also clearly suffering from the early stages of some kind of dementia. The brain that spouted the gibberish transcribed above would probably score poorly on a basic test for the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, yet discussion of his inability to complete a coherent sentence is relegated to the margins of political discourse. This is someone who is campaigning to have access to the nuclear codes, yet we’re only talking about how he’s kind of racist and not about the fact that his brain is turning into Swiss cheese right before our eyes. It’s freaky.

It’s freaky, but it kind of makes sense. One common difficulty in getting early treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease is that those suffering from it often go to great lengths to hide their impairments, and another difficulty is that their families are often deeply in denial about their loved one’s mental decline. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Some people hide their symptoms, or family members cover for them. That’s easy to understand, because Alzheimer’s dementia is associated with loss, such as loss of independence, loss of a driving privileges and loss of self.”

I think we’re seeing precisely this happening, both with Biden, and with his supporters. Biden himself is clearly doing everything he can to feign mental competency, and as a powerful politician aiming to accomplish a lifelong ambition to become the US president he’d certainly have a lot egoically invested in doing so. His supporters seem to be doing all kinds of denial mental gymnastics around his cognitive decline as well; just check out the responses to this Washington Post tweet for its article about Biden’s “record player” response.

Here are a few examples:

“Don’t pretend you didn’t understand what he was saying.”

“Actually, I recently saw a turntable for sale at Best Buys & vinyl records are back on the market. Try to keep up, WaPo.”

“My 22 year old son and all his friends play records on record players these days. If you’re insinuating that Joe is out of touch, you’re out of touch.”

“Actually currently, there are some people playing record players because they find the vinyl record has better sound quality. I think you are just picking and choosing who to go after.”

“He was saying they not hearing enough words. We did. We were read to. We listened to children’s albums. We had conversations. He was trying to get at the importance of those things. He didn’t do a great job on communicating it but he was right.”

“Twitter snark aside, there are studies to back up that claim.”

“He got 80% of the way through the debate without an embarrassing gaffe that highlights his age. Of course, Trump couldn’t get halfway through a debate without threatening his opponent with imprisonment.”

“Honestly…so what. I got the sentiment.”

“Not sure why people are being so condescending. Vinyl outsold CD last year, so, you know, record players are everywhere these days. You could say he’s stuck in the past or you could say he’s trending. Be kind.”

We saw this same impulse to protect and compensate for Biden’s mental decline from audience members during the debate, who gasped out loud when Julian Castro suggested that Biden had forgotten what he’d said two minutes ago. Many rank-and-file Democrats are so desperate for an end to an administration that is making them increasingly anxious and neurotic that they find it cognitively easier to compartmentalize away from the obvious fact that Biden is in a state of mental decline than to turn and face that reality. So they make excuses and pretend that his demented word salads are perfectly rational, hip references to the resurging popularity of vinyl records.

The only people who are absolutely acutely aware of Biden’s cognitive decline and yet still want him to become president are his handlers. There is no way his consistent pattern of verbal unintelligibility has gone unnoticed by those who are responsible for facilitating his election, and indeed The Hill reports that his “allies” have been floating the idea of scaling back his campaign appearances and scheduling them for earlier in the day when he’s not tired to help minimize his “verbal flubs”. These people are aware that Biden is losing his mind, but they are pushing him toward the White House anyway.

If Biden supporters were really intellectually honest with themselves about what’s going on, they’d see that they don’t actually want Joe Biden to be president, they want his unelected, unaccountable handlers to be president. From a position of intellectual honesty they’d be taking the position of arch neocon Bill Kristol, who once said he’d “prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

And of course that wouldn’t be a first among US presidents even in recent history. Ronald Reagan had early signs of Alzheimer’s disease during his presidency according to his own son, and George W Bush was infamously just a puppet of his handlers like Dick Cheney. Indeed it would be possible to have an actual, literal Jim Henson puppet as president of the United States without America’s unelected power establishment skipping a single beat.

But that’s exactly the point: having a real human being in there with even a semi-functional mind can put some inertia on the most sociopathic impulses of America’s unelected permanent government. Both Trump and Obama are of course horrible presidents who have continued and expanded the Bush administration’s most evil agendas, but Obama slowed down the push to arm Ukraine against Russia and slammed the brakes on a full-scale bombing campaign on Syria, while Trump was unable to get along with John Bolton and is losing interest in Venezuela while resisting the push to start new wars. Despite all their flaws, they’ve resisted the permanent government’s worst impulses in some key ways. If it’s just Biden’s handlers and the unelected power establishment, there’s no humanity anywhere near the brake pedal.

So this makes sense to talk about no matter how you look at it. But we’re not. In mainstream discourse we’re speaking as though this is just a charmingly gaffe-prone old man who makes a few controversial statements from time to time but would still make a fine president, when really he shouldn’t even be allowed a driver’s license.

And I just find that really creepy and uncomfortable. As someone who’s never been able to leave elephants in rooms alone, the fact that the leading presidential contender is neurologically incapable of speaking coherently for eighty seconds sticks out like dog’s balls and it’s absolutely freakish that this isn’t front and center of our political discourse right now. Biden’s dementia should be the very first thing we discuss whenever his name comes up, not the last.

*  *  *

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permissionto republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 09:10
Published:9/16/2019 8:34:38 AM
[Markets] President Macron's Amazing Admission President Macron's Amazing Admission

Authored by The Saker,

I don’t know whether the supposedly Chinese curse really comes from China, but whether it does or not, we most certainly are cursed with living in some truly interesting timesIran won the first phase of the “tanker battle” against the AngloZionistsPutin offered to sell Russian hypersonic missiles to Trump (Putin has been trolling western leaders a lot lately) while Alexander Lukashenko took the extreme measure of completely shutting down the border between the Ukraine and Belarus due to the huge influx of weapons and nationalist extremists from the Ukraine. As he put it himself “if weapons fall into the hands of ordinary people and especially nationalist-minded people, wait for terrorism“. He is quite right, of course. Still, there is a sweet irony here, or call it karma if you prefer, but for the Ukronazis who promised their people a visa-free entrance into the EU (for tourism only, and if you have money to spend, but still…), and yet 5 years into that obscene experiment of creating a rabidly russophobic Ukraine and 100 days (or so) into Zelenskii’s presidency, we have the Ukraine’s closest and most supportive neighbor forced to totally shut down its border due to the truly phenomenal toxicity of the Ukrainian society! But, then again, the Ukraine is such a basket-case that we can count on “most interesting” things (in the sense of the Chinese curse, of course) happening there too.

[Sidebar: interestingly, one of the people the Ukrainians gave up in this exchange was Vladimir Tsemakh, a native of the Donbass who was kidnapped by the Ukie SBU in Novorussia (our noble “Europeans” did not object to such methods!) and declared the “star witness” against Russia in the MH-17 (pseudo-)investigation. Even more pathetic is that the Dutch apparently fully endorsed this load of crapola. Finally, and just for a good laugh, check out how the infamous’ Bellincat presented Tsemakh. And then, suddenly, everybody seem to “forget” that “star witness” and now the Ukies have sent him to Russia. Amazing how fast stuff gets lost in the collective western memory hole…]

Right now there seems to be a tug of war taking place between the more mentally sane elements of the Zelenskii administration and the various nationalist extremists in the SBU, deathsquads and even regular armed forces. Thus we see these apparently contradictory developments taking place: on on hand, the Ukraine finally agreed to a prisoner swap with Russia (a painful one for Russia as Russia mostly traded real criminals, including a least two bona fide Ukie terrorist, against what are mostly civilian hostages, but Putin decided – correctly I think – that freeing Russian nationalists from Ukie jails was more important in this case) while on the other hand, the Ukronazi armed forces increased their shelling, even with 152mm howitzers which fire 50kg high explosive fragmentation shells, against the Donbass. Whatever may be the case, this prisoner swap, no matter how one-sided and unfair, is a positive development which might mark the beginning of a pragmatic and less ideological attitude in Kiev.

Urkoterrorists Sentsov and Kol’chenko

Some very cautious beginnings of a little hint of optimism might be in order following that exchange, but the big stuff seems to be scheduled for the meeting of the Normandy Group (NG), probably in France. So far, the Russians have made it very clear that they will not meet just for the hell of meeting, and that the only circumstance in which the Russians will agree to a NG meeting would be if it has good chances of yielding meaningful results which, translated from Russian diplomatic language simply means “if/when Kiev stops stonewalling and sabotaging everything”. Specifically, the Russians are demanding that Zelenskii commit in writing to the so-called “Steinmeier formula” and that the Ukrainian forces withdraw from the line of contact. Will that happen? Maybe. We shall soon find out.

But the single most amazing event of the past couple of weeks was the absolutely astonishing speech French President Emmanuel Macron made in front of an assembly of ambassadors. I could not find the full speech translated into English (I may have missed it somewhere), so I will post the crucial excerpts in French and translate them myself. If I find a full, official, translation I will post it under this column ASAP. For the time being, this is the link to the full speech transcript in French:

https://www.elysee.fr/emmanuel-macron/2019/08/27/discours-du-president-de-la-republique-a-la-conference-des-ambassadeurs-1

Let’s immediately begin with some of the most incredible excerpts, emphasis added by me: (sorry for the long quote but, truly, each word counts!)

L’ordre international est bousculé de manière inédite mais surtout avec, si je puis dire, un grand bouleversement qui se fait sans doute pour la première fois dans notre histoire à peu près dans tous les domaines, avec une magnitude profondément historique. C’est d’abord une transformation, une recomposition géopolitique et stratégique. Nous sommes sans doute en train de vivre la fin de l’hégémonie occidentale sur le monde. Nous nous étions habitués à un ordre international qui depuis le 18ème siècle reposait sur une hégémonie occidentale, vraisemblablement française au 18ème siècle, par l’inspiration des Lumières ; sans doute britannique au 19ème grâce à la révolution industrielle et raisonnablement américaine au 20ème grâce aux 2 grands conflits et à la domination économique et politique de cette puissance. Les choses changent. Et elles sont profondément bousculées par les erreurs des Occidentaux dans certaines crises, par les choix aussi américains depuis plusieurs années et qui n’ont pas commencé avec cette administration mais qui conduisent à revisiter certaines implications dans des conflits au Proche et Moyen-Orient et ailleurs, et à repenser une stratégie profonde, diplomatique et militaire, et parfois des éléments de solidarité dont nous pensions qu’ils étaient des intangibles pour l’éternité même si nous avions constitué ensemble dans des moments géopolitiques qui pourtant aujourd’hui ont changé. Et puis c’est aussi l’émergence de nouvelles puissances dont nous avons sans doute longtemps sous-estimé l’impact. La Chine au premier rang mais également la stratégie russe menée, il faut bien le dire, depuis quelques années avec plus de succès. J’y reviendrai. L’Inde qui émerge, ces nouvelles économies qui deviennent aussi des puissances pas seulement économiques mais politiques et qui se pensent comme certains ont pu l’écrire, comme de véritables États civilisations et qui viennent non seulement bousculer notre ordre international, qui viennent peser dans l’ordre économique mais qui viennent aussi repenser l’ordre politique et l’imaginaire politique qui va avec, avec beaucoup de force et beaucoup plus d’inspiration que nous n’en avons. Regardons l’Inde, la Russie et la Chine. Elles ont une inspiration politique beaucoup plus forte que les Européens aujourd’hui. Elles pensent le monde avec une vraie logique, une vraie philosophie, un imaginaire que nous avons un peu perdu

Here is my informal translation of these words:

The international order is being shaken in an unprecedented manner, above all with, if I may say so, by the great upheaval that is undoubtedly taking place for the first time in our history, in almost every field and with a profoundly historic magnitude. The first thing we observe is a major transformation, a geopolitical and strategic re-composition. We are undoubtedly experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world. We were accustomed to an international order which, since the 18th century, rested on a Western hegemony, mostly French in the 18th century, by the inspiration of the Enlightenment; then mostly British in the 19th century thanks to the Industrial Revolution and, finally, mostly American in the 20th century thanks to the 2 great conflicts and the economic and political domination of this power. Things change. And they are now deeply shaken by the mistakes of Westerners in certain crises, by the choices that have been made by Americans for several years which did not start with this administration, but which lead to revisiting certain implications in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, and to rethinking a deep, diplomatic and military strategy, and sometimes elements of solidarity that we thought were intangible for eternity, even if we had constituted together in geopolitical moments that have changed. And then there is the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for a long time. China is at the forefront, but also the Russian strategy, which has, it must be said, been pursued more successfully in recent years. I will come back to that. India that is emerging, these new economies that are also becoming powers not only economic but political and that think themselves, as some have written, as real “civilizational states” which now come not only to shake up our international order but who also come to weigh in on the economic order and to rethink the political order and the political imagination that goes with it, with much dynamism and much more inspiration than we have. Look at India, Russia and China. They have a much stronger political inspiration than Europeans today. They think about our planet with a true logic, a true philosophy, an imagination that we’ve lost a little bit.

Now let’s unpack these key statements one by one:

1) “ great upheaval that is undoubtedly taking place for the first time in our history in almost every field and with a profoundly historic magnitude”

Here Macron sets the stage for some truly momentous observations: what will be discussed next is not only a major event, but one without precedent in history (whether French or European). Furthermore, what will be discussed next, affects “almost every field” and with huge historical implications.

2) “We are undoubtedly experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world”

When I read that, my first and rather infantile reaction was to exclaim “really?! No kiddin’?! Who would have thought!?” After all, some of us have been saying that for a long, long while, but never-mind that. What is important is that even a Rothschild-puppet like Macron had to finally speak these words. Oh sure, he probably felt as happy as the Captain of the Titanic when he had to (finally!) order a general evacuation of this putatively unsinkable ship, but nonetheless – he did do it. From now on, the notion of the end of the western hegemony on the planet is no more relegated to what the leaders of the Empire and their propaganda machine like to call “fringe extremists” and has now fully entered the (supposedly) “respectable” and “mainstream” public discourse. This is a huge victory for all of us who have been saying the same things for years already.

3) “by the mistakes of Westerners in certain crises, by the choices that have been made by Americans for several years”

Here, again, I feel like engaging in some petty self-congratulation and want to say “I told you that too!”, but that would really be infantile, would it not? But yeah, while the internal contradictions of western materialism in general, and of AngloZionist Capitalism specifically, have been catching up with the Western World and while an eventual catastrophic crisis was inevitable, it also sure is true that western leaders mostly did it to themselves; at the very least, they dramatically accelerated these processes. In this context, I would single out the following politicians for a nomination to a medal for exceptional service in the destruction of the western hegemony over our long-suffering planet: Donald Trump and Barak Obama, of course, but also François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron (yes, he too even if he now changes his tune!), Angela Merkel, of course, and then last but not least, every single British Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher (maybe with special commendation for Teresa May). Who knows, maybe they were all KGB/GRU/SVR agents after all? (just kiddin’!)

4) “ the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for a long time. China is at the forefront, but also the Russian strategy, which has, it must be said, been pursued more successfully in recent years”

Next, it’s not only China. Russia too is a major competitor, and a very successful one at that, hence the admission that in spite of all the efforts of the AngloZionist elites not only did the Empire not succeed in breaking Russia, but Russia has been very successful in defeating the western efforts. To those interested, I highly recommend this article by Jon Hellevig on the true state of the Russian economy. Finally, in military terms, Russia has achieved more than parity. In fact, I would argue that at least in terms of quality the Russian armed forces are ahead in several crucial technologies (hypersonic missiles, air defenses, electronic warfare etc.) even while she still lags behind in other technologies (mostly truly obsolete things like aircraft carriers). But most crucial is the political victory of Russia: five years after the Euromaidan and the liberation of Crimea from the Nazi yoke, the USA is far more isolated than Russia. It’s comical, really!

5) “real “civilizational states” which now come not only to shake up our international order

I have been speaking about a unique, and very distinct, “Russian civilizational realm” in many of my writings and I am quite happy to see Macron using almost the same words. Of course, Macron did not only mean Russia here, but also India and China. Still, and although the Russian nation is much younger than the one of China or, even more so India, 1000 years of Russian civilization does deserve to be listed next to these two other giants of world history. And what is absolutely certain is that China and India could never build the new international order they want without Russia, at least for the foreseeable future. In spite of all the very real progress made recently by the Chinese armed forces (and, to a lesser degree, also the Indian ones), Russia still remains a much stronger military power than China. What Russia, China and India are, is that they are all former empires which have given up on imperialism and who know only aspire to be powerful, but nevertheless “normal” nations. Just by their size and geography, these are “un-invadable” countries who all present a distinct model of development and who want a multi-polar international order which would allow them to safely achieve their goals. In other words, Macron understands that the future international order will be dictated by China, Russia and India and not by any combination of western powers. Quite an admission indeed!

6) “ Look at India, Russia and China. They have a much stronger political inspiration than Europeans today. They think about our planet with a true logic, a true philosophy, an imagination that we’ve lost a little bit.”

This is the “core BRICS” challenge to the Empire: China and Russia have already established what the Chinese call a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era”. If they can now extend this kind of informal but extremely profound partnership (I think of it as “symbiotic”) to India next, then the BRICS will have a formidable future (especially after the Brazilian people give the boot to Bolsonaro and his US patrons). Should that fail and should India chose to remain outside this unique relationship, then the SCO will become the main game in town. And yes, Macron is spot on: China and, especially, Russia have a fundamentally different worldview and, unlike the western one, theirs does have “much stronger political” goals (Macron used the word “aspirations”), “a real philosophy and imagination” which the West has lost, and not just a “little bit” but, I would argue, completely. But one way or the other, and for the first time in 1000 years, the future of our planet will not be decided anywhere in the West, not in Europe (old or “new”), but in Asia, primarily by the Russian-Chinese alliance. As I explained here, the AngloZionist Empire is probably the last one in history, definitely the last western one.

Now we should not be naïve here, Macron did not suddenly find religion, grow a conscience or suddenly become an expert on international relations. There is, of course, a cynical reason why he is changing his tune. In fact, there are several such reasons.

First, it appears that the on and off bromance between Macron and Trump is over.

Second, all of Europe is in free fall socially, economically and, of course, politically. And with a total nutcase in power in London dealing with Brexit and with Angela Merkel’s apparently never-ending political agony, it is only logical for a French head of state to try to step in.

Furthermore, while I have always said that Russia is not part of Europe culturally and spiritually, Russia is very much part of Europe geographically, economically and politically and there is simply no way for any imaginable alliance of European states to save Europe from its current predicament without Russian help. Like it or not, that is a fact, irrespective of whether politician or commentator X, Y or Z realizes this or not. Macron probably figured out that the so-called “East Europeans” are nothing but cheap prostitutes doing whatever Uncle Shmuel wants them to do, Germany is collapsing under the weight of Merkel’s “brilliant” immigration policy while the UK under BoJo is busy trying to self-destruct at least as fast as the USA under Trump. Macron is right. If united, Russia and France could build a much safer Europe than the one we see slowly and painfully dying before our eyes today. But he is also wrong if he thinks that Russia can be “re-invited” back into the AngloZionist sphere of influence. In that context, Putin’s reply to the question of whether Russia was willing to return to the G8 is very telling: first he said that if the G7 wants to come back to Russia, Putin would welcome that, but then he also added that the G7/8 is useless without, yes, you guessed it, China and India.

It will be interesting to see if the current G7 will ever agree to mutate into a new G10 which would make Russia, China and India the most powerful block (or voting group) of this new forum. I personally doubt it very much, but then they are becoming desperate and Macron’s words seem to be indicating that this option is at least being discussed behind closed doors. Frankly, considering how quickly the G7 is becoming utterly irrelevant, I expect it to be gradually phased out and replaced by the (objectively much more relevant) G20.

Finally, there are Trump’s efforts into getting Russia back into the G8 which are very transparently linked to the current trade war and geostrategic competition between the US and China. The offer is useless to Russia, just like the return to PACE, but Russia does not want to needlessly offend anybody and that is why Putin did not publicly rebuff Trump or directly refuse to come to Miami: instead, he approved of the general concept, but offered a better way to go about it. Typical Putin.

Conclusion: Macron reads the writing on the wall

Whatever his political motives to say what he said, Macron is no idiot and neither are his advisors. Neither is this a “one off” thing. The French meant every word Macron spoke and they are putting everybody on notice (including the Ukrainians, the US, the EU and the Russians, of course). In fact, Macron has already invited Putin to participate in a Normandy Format meeting in Paris in the very near future. If that meeting eventually does take place, this will mean that the organizers gave Putin guarantees that this will not just be the usual kaffeeklatsch and that some serious results will finally be obtained. That, in turn, means that somebody – probably the French – will have the unpleasant task of telling the Ukrainians that the party is over and that they now need to get their act together and start implementing the Minsk Agreements, something which Zelenskii might or might not try to do, but which the real gun-toting Ukronazis will never accept. Thus, if the West is really serious about forcing Kiev to abide by the Mink Agreements, then the West has to finally give-up its self-defeating russophobic hysteria and substantially change their tone about the Ukraine. To invite Putin to Paris just to tell him again that Russia (which is not even a party to the Minsk Agreements) “must do more” makes zero sense. Therefore, all the other parties will have to come to terms with reality before inviting Putin. Apparently, this might be happening in Paris. As for Trump, he just offered to mediate (if asked to do so) between Russia and the Ukraine.

It shall be extremely interesting to see if this Normandy Format meeting does actually take place and what role, if any, Trump and the USA will play behind the scenes. We shall then know if Macron’s epiphany was just a one-time fluke or not.

*  *  *

PS: the latest rumor from the Ukraine: Zelenskii supporters are saying that Poroshenko is preparing a coup against Zelenskii and that he is preparing a special force of Ukronazi deathsquads to execute that coup. Dunno about a real coup, but they have already blocked the Rada. Never a dull moment indeed… :-)

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 03:30
Published:9/16/2019 2:33:23 AM
[c56575f8-5887-55d0-bea0-6d164f098ef6] Behnam Ben Taleblu: Attack on Saudi oil facility shows Trump was right to pull out of Iran nuke deal The devastating attack Saturday against a major oil facility in Saudi Arabia dramatically illustrates why the Iran nuclear deal that was accepted by the Obama administration and rejected by President Trump failed to end the Iranian threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. Published:9/15/2019 10:27:32 PM
[Markets] Insane And Ill-Advised: Trump's Future War With Iran, Part 1 Insane And Ill-Advised: Trump's Future War With Iran, Part 1

Authored by US Army Major (ret. Danny Sjursen via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

It’s an inconvenient truth: the president of the United States has no coherent foreign policy. Period. At times Donald Trump talks sensibly about pulling out of quagmires in Syria and Afghanistan, while simultaneously ratcheting up threats against America’s favorite (at least since 1979) punching bag — Iran.  He’s also loaded up his administration with the most hawkish of Iranophobes: National Security Adviser John Bolton (ZH: fired since this was written) and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Those two have never seen a problem they couldn’t blame on Iran or a solution that didn’t include regime change.

Furthermore, there’s nothing that Israel’s about-to-be-indicted, corrupt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would like more than to drum up a U.S. war with Iran. American blood (and money) for Israeli interests — now that’s “King Bibi’s” style.  Still, before jumping into this next absurd policy adventure, perhaps it’s appropriate to review the troubled history between the United States and Iran, deflate some myths about the supposedly monstrous Islamic Republic, and consider just how bloody and destabilizing such a war would be.

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s theocratic government is, obviously, not the preferred system of the United States, but it is their sovereign system. More important, Iran does not pose a strategic or existential threat to the Homeland. Furthermore, the United States would do well not to overestimate the military threat of Iran; alienate the growing, youthful, pro-Western populace within the country; or rush into an ill-advised, hasty, and potentially costly, attempt at forced regime change.

Nuance is the key to understanding Iran. In truth it is neither as autocratic nor Islamist Universalist as its detractors claim, nor as benevolent as its protectors insist.  Iran’s military is neither the aggressive behemoth that Washington alarmists fear, nor is it a weak pushover ripe for regime change. Iran’s geography, population, and inherent popular nationalism present an immediate challenge to regime-change fantasies. Moreover, the clerical establishment atop the Islamic Republic is far from stable or certain to last indefinitely.  Protests during the “Green Revolution,” and, more recently, in 2017, illustrate that quite clearly.

In his more lucid moments, Trump has shown real foreign-policy leadership as well as skepticism regarding increased military invention in both his recent outreach to nuclear North Korea and comments indicating a desire to militarily de-escalate in Syria. There is, therefore, still (just a little) reason for optimism that this administration will eschew ill-advised military action and instead focus on a twin policy of de-escalation, and, where possible, engagement with Iran.

The decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was absolute folly and probably undertaken by Trump only because of his insecure obsession with undoing everything associated with his predecessor, Barack Obama. Still, this withdrawal does not necessarily presage war. Other diplomatic options remain on the table to ensure that Iran — unlike North Korea —does not go nuclear.

Thus, I will argue that the realistic bottom line on Iran policy is as follows:

  • Iran has not posed and does not pose any sort of existential challenge to the United States. The Islamic State is far from the convenient bogeyman of neoconservative/neoliberal imaginations.

  • War or U.S.-imposed regime change in Iran is ill-advised, impractical, and risky — to be avoided at all costs.

  • Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA (the Obama nuclear deal) does not have to augur imminent war. Attempts should be made to negotiate a new, more comprehensive deal, and — short of that — to implement other levers of diplomacy to de-escalate tensions.

  • Russia and Iran are cooperating in Syria and have certain overlapping interests. However, they are not natural allies and have a long history of discord. The United States should avoid any overtly hostile activity that further binds those two adversaries in a long-term alliance.

  • Iran’s military has significant weaknesses and should not be overestimated. America’s partners in the region (Israel and the GCC countries) possess more than enough military capacity to deal with local threats. The U.S. military is unnecessary in the region and only raises tensions.

  • Nevertheless, Iran’s large population, difficult terrain, and significant asymmetric military capabilities, when combined with America’s many commitments around the world, make military action in Iran a risky endeavor best avoided. More bluntly: a regime-change ground invasion would be as foolish and militarily disastrous as Vietnam and Iraq.

  • Iran is neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic. Its youthful, disgruntled population is surprisingly amenable to the West. The United States should take no action to alienate this segment of the population — which has the potential to alter the political calculus of a future Iran.

A troubled history: A true look at U.S.-Iran relations

Iran, unlike many of its neighbors in the Gulf region, enjoys very secure geography. Mountain ranges hem its strategic core, and its borders have been stable for centuries. Its geographic security has meant that Iran has been conquered only a handful of times in its thousands of years of history. Those who have conquered it have been absorbed by another of its strengths: its distinct Persian culture, which once exerted a strong influence on elites from Turkey to India.

In the twentieth century, Iran experienced waves of nationalism and resistance to outside influence that were independent of any particular regime. Charges of subservience to foreign powers have provoked crisis after crisis in Iranian politics, going back to a movement against concessions to Britain on tobacco sales in 1890. That movement highlighted another important trend in modern Iranian politics: the power of the clergy as an independent political force. Its later aftershocks would also see the emergence of movements to constrain Iran’s monarchs with a constitution.

The discovery of oil in Iran at the beginning of the twentieth century increased Iran’s geopolitical importance, but also increased resentment of foreign power within Iran. Nationalists were appalled by the great wealth flowing from Iran to Britain by means of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company — the ancestor of today’s British Petroleum. That resentment led to Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh’s nationalization of the oil industry, which, coupled with growing political instability under Mossadegh and fears of Soviet influence, led to a U.S.-backed coup against him in 1953.The coup restored the faded power of Iran’s monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Older Iranians have never forgiven the United States for this overthrow of a democratically elected leader.

The shah’s rule saw massive changes in Iranian society, driven in part by rising oil prices and in part by his efforts to impose social and economic reforms. A number of those reforms targeted the clergy’s power and attempted to secularize the public sphere; protests against the reforms elevated a young cleric, Ruhollah Khomeini, to prominence — and forced him into exile. More than a decade later, in the mid 1970s, Iran’s rapid growth slowed, creating a period of chaos and political violence. The shah’s diverse opposition coalesced around Khomeini, who ultimately succeeded in toppling him. In the chaos after the shah’s fall, Khomeini’s followers marginalized secular and leftist forces. In addition, his supporters occupied the U.S. embassy and took its staff hostage, an action that led to the collapse of a more moderate Iranian government, helped cement Khomeini’s power, and set the foundation for decades of hostile relations with the United States.

Shortly after the revolution, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Iran, kicking off a devastating war that would last into 1988. The United States, fearful that Khomeini-style revolutionary Islamism would spread across the region, provided some support to Iraq, as did many Arab and European states. However, in a moment of strategic backsliding the Reagan administration also sold arms to Iran in exchange for hostages held in Lebanon in the infamous Iran-Contra affair.

Shortly before the war’s end, an American cruiser mistakenly shot down an Iranian airliner, killing 290.

The postwar period saw Iran struggling to recover economically, even as its foreign policy kept it from normalizing relations with the West. Between 1989 and 1992, the regime carried out a string of overseas assassinations of Iranian dissidents and terrorist actions. Those actions contributed to the U.S. decision to pursue a policy of “dual containment” — pressuring both Iraq and Iran at the same time — to block an Iranian oil deal with the American firm Conoco, and to impose new sanctions.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a brief window of opportunity for an opening. In Iran, reformist president Mohammad Khatami, who promised a “dialogue of civilizations” and began opening the political space, was elected. The September 11 terror attacks in the United States gave the two countries a common enemy (the Taliban, with whom Iran had nearly gone to war a few years before) and saw them work together at the Bonn Conference to build Afghanistan’s new government. Iran allowed the U.S. military to enter the country to deliver aid in the wake of a massive earthquake in 2003. Iran may have even offered a “grand bargain” aimed at reconciliation in the same year, although that incident remains disputed. Either way, the U.S. blew an opportunity for détente and engagement.

As a result, Khatami would ultimately be succeeded in 2005 by the hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Meanwhile, the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program was building, driven by the public exposure of an undeclared enrichment facility at Natanz in 2002 and the failure of an EU-led negotiation effort to freeze the Iranian nuclear program. Those two trend lines converged in 2006 and 2007, with the adoption of Security Council sanctions against Iran.

The Bush administration had a strong current of skepticism toward Iran. Iran’s inclusion in Bush’s 2002 “Axis of Evil” speech shocked many in Iran and undermined those who had pursued a reduction in tensions. The presence of U.S. forces on Iran’s eastern and western borders increased Iranian fear. U.S.-Iranian tensions grew rapidly in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, as Iran supplied Shia militias with advanced bombs designed to target the U.S.-led coalition’s armored vehicles, and U.S. forces raided the Iranian consulate in Erbil.

During the first term of the Obama administration, the United States and international community began applying growing pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. Intensified sanctions combined with the Ahmadinejad government’s severe economic malpractice to produce deep disruptions, culminating in 40 percent inflation. Mass unrest following the 2009 presidential election — labeled the “Green Revolution” — saw brutal repression and the house arrest (which continues to today) of major political figures. Talk of an American or Israeli airstrike on the Iranian nuclear program became common, and each side participated in a wave of bombings and cyber-attacks, including Iranian attacks on Israeli diplomats and apparently Israeli-backed assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.

The beginning of direct U.S.-Iranian talks in Oman in early 2013 paved the way for a new round of negotiations. Together with the subsequent election of Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, the war talk and violence died down. Following two years of negotiations with the United States, Europeans, Russia, and China, Iran inked the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under this arrangement, all Iranian pathways to sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon were blocked for approximately fifteen years, in addition to a major increase in inspections, some permanent restrictions, and some temporary measures to slow Iran’s nuclear research and acquisition of military hardware, including missile technology. However, in 2018, Donald Trump — as he’d earlier threatened — announced U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. However, all other parties to the deal remain in the agreement as written. The United States was now acting like an international pariah.

To better understand Iranian foreign policy, it is important to recognize that the history Iranians remember of their relations with America is very different from the history Americans remember. Americans’ memory centers on the hostage crisis; terrorist actions such as the bombings of the U.S. embassy in Beirut (April 1983, 63 dead), U.S. and French peacekeepers’ barracks in Beirut (October 1983, 305 dead), and Iranian overseas terror attacks in the 1980s and 1990s; and Iran’s supply of advanced weapons to Shia militias as they targeted American servicemen in Iraq during the war there.

Younger Iranians’ memory, on the other hand, centers less on the coup against Mossadegh and more on the Iran-Iraq War — on the international community’s failure to condemn Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, its support for Saddam even as he used chemical weapons against Iranian troops, Iraqi actions (including the gassing of Halabja and the missile attack on the frigate USS Stark) for which the U.S. blamed both sides, and the U.S. downing of the Iranian airliner.  Nearly all of Iran’s neighbors and most of the great powers supported Saddam in one way or another. That led to a strong Iranian sense of isolation, including distrust of the international community, of international institutions, and especially of the United States

The Iran-Iraq War was a formative experience for most of Iran’s current leaders, whether they participated in it directly, were engaged in overseeing it, or conducted Iran’s foreign relations during it. The different readings of history, in which each side sees itself as the victim, contribute to deep mistrust between the two sides, making major improvements in relations difficult and unlikely. Contemporary disagreements over Iran’s support for the Assad regime in Syria and America’s withdrawal from the JCPOA also divide in a binary manner between U.S. and Iranian perceptions of each event.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/15/2019 - 23:10
Tags
Published:9/15/2019 10:27:32 PM
[Markets] Former CIA Spook: "Clear To Me That Spying On Trump Was Ordered By Obama" Former CIA Spook: "Clear To Me That Spying On Trump Was Ordered By Obama"

Via Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com,

Former Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe looks like he is going to be charged for his role in the Trump Russia hoax to try to remove a duly elected President from office.

Former CIA Officer Kevin Shipp, who is an expert on counter-intelligence, says McCabe is going roll over on his co-conspirators and talk if the DOJ cuts him a deal. Shipp explains,

Yes, I do think he will talk, absolutely. It’s either that or be imprisoned with Billy Bob for the next 15 or 20 years. The motivation is great for him to talk...

This is one of their most outrageous things the Shadow Government and the Deep State has done.   They ran a counter-intelligence espionage operation, and that was their excuse to open an investigation...

It is clear to me that spying on Trump was ordered by Obama. It had to be, no doubt about it. He gets a Presidential brief on what the FBI, CIA, NSA are doing every single day. The FBI spied on the Trump campaign with an unprecedented domestic spy operation, and that is rocking this country.”

Shipp points out that what happened with President Trump is a first in U.S. history. Shipp says,

“This is huge that they had a domestic spying program involving CIA and FBI informants targeting a Presidential candidate and then the actual President himself. This has never happened before, and I am hoping it will never happen again.

This must come out. It has to come out if we are going to retain our democracy and our constitutional republic. These people have got to be exposed, they have got to be indicted, and they have to be charged.

If they are not, it’s pretty much over for our justice system.

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with former CIA Officer and whistleblower
Kevin Shipp, author of the top-selling book about the Deep State called “From the Company of Shadows.”

*  *  *

To Donate to USAWatchdog.com Click Here (You Tube has, once again, Demonetized this video before it even posted.  Enjoy!!)

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/15/2019 - 18:35
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Published:9/15/2019 5:56:53 PM
[Markets] Schiff: Negative Interest Rates Are "Boneheaded" Schiff: Negative Interest Rates Are "Boneheaded"

Via SchiffGold.com,

Donald Trump has been badgering Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for months, begging for lower interest rates. This week, he took things to another level, saying that the “boneheads” at the Fed need to push rates into negative territory.

In his podcast, Peter Schiff said negative interest rates are boneheaded.

Trump used a pair of tweets to push for negative interest rates.

The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term. We have the great currency, power, and balance sheet...

The USA should always be paying the the lowest rate. No Inflation! It is only the naïveté of Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve that doesn’t allow us to do what other countries are already doing. A once in a lifetime opportunity that we are missing because of ‘Boneheads.’

Peter said he can’t think a more boneheaded thing to do than to push interest rates negative.

Trump is basically saying negative rates would allow the federal government to refinance its debt. It could roll over short-term debt into longer termed bonds and lock up the low rates. But as Peter pointed out, interest rates are already near historic lows.

If President Trump actually cared about refinancing the national debt and lengthening the maturity of the debt – the duration – and locking in these low interest rates, lock them in! They’re already super low.”

Peter said if the Fed did cut rates to zero or lower, he thinks yields on long-term bonds would actually start to go up because the market would begin factoring in higher inflation.

What is stopping Trump from doing what he claims he wants to do but for the boneheads at the Fed? … Talk is cheap. Tweets are cheap, in particular. What about actions? Actions speak a lot louder than tweets. And Trump’s actions are the opposite. During the Trump presidency, the average maturity on the national debt has actually been shortened. So, instead of locking in these super low, historically low long-term interest rates, Trump has done the opposite. He has been borrowing more on the short-run and not borrowing on the long-run.

The bottom line is that Trump could do what he says he wants to do right now. The “boneheads” at the Fed aren’t stopping him. Peter said what’s really stopping him is political calculation. If the president actually did refinance the national debt with long-term bonds, long-term interest rates would go up. That would undermine the housing market and the economy.

So, what President Trump is doing is he’s making the same BS political tradeoff that Obama made and that Bush made and that Clinton made. He’s doing what’s good politically for himself. He’s kicking the can down the road. He’s postponing the day of reckoning by saying, ‘You know what? Even though this is a ticking time bomb, let’s keep interest rates as low as possible.’ And so we’re going to have a short maturity.”

Peter said Trump is a complete hypocrite trying to pretend it’s the boneheads at the Fed.

He’s kind of like rehearsing now for the election because he wants to blame everything that has gone wrong on the Federal Reserve rather than accepting responsibility himself.”

Peter also talked about the most recent surge in consumer debt and what that actually means for the economy and he offered some thoughts on the 18th anniversary of 9/11.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/15/2019 - 10:30
Published:9/15/2019 9:54:03 AM
[US News] ‘Even less credible now’: Obama bro Ben Rhodes will never let go of Iran

Ben Rhodes sure loves him some Iran.

The post ‘Even less credible now’: Obama bro Ben Rhodes will never let go of Iran appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/14/2019 6:22:47 PM
[2020 Presidential Election] Biden and Yang display ignorance about immigration (Paul Mirengoff) Immigration was always going to be a topic of discussion during Thursday’s Democratic debate. Thus, the candidates should have been prepared to speak about immigration, if not intelligently than at least without getting basic facts wrong. As Mark Krikorian documents, Joe Biden and Andrew Yang were unable to pass this modest test. Biden claimed that during the Obama administration, “we didn’t lock people up in cages; we didn’t separate families.” Published:9/14/2019 5:27:51 PM
[Markets] Matt Taibbi Blasts The Smolenkov Saga As "Latest Pile Of BS Dumped On Us By Intel Agencies" Matt Taibbi Blasts The Smolenkov Saga As "Latest Pile Of BS Dumped On Us By Intel Agencies"

Authored by Matt Taibbi via Untitledgate blog,

The latest Russian spy story looks like another elaborate media deception...

When I was 20, I studied at the Leningrad Polytechnical Institute, in the waning days of the Soviet empire. Most of the Russians I met were amusingly free of stress caused by following news. Why would they bother? Bull-factories like Rossiskaya Gazeta and Leningradsaya Pravda were basically collections of dreary government news releases rewritten to sound like news reports.

I saw newspapers in Leningrad shredded into slivers of toilet paper, used in place of curtains in dorm rooms, even stuffed into overcoat linings as insulation. But I can’t recall a Russian person actually reading a Soviet newspaper for the content. That’s how useless its “news” was.

We’re headed to a similar place. The cable networks, along with the New York Times and Washington Post increasingly act like house organs of the government, and in particular the intelligence agencies.

An episode this week involving a tale of a would-be American spy “exfiltrated” from Russia solidifies this impression. Seldom has a news story been more transparently fraudulent.

The story was broken by CNN Monday, September 9th, under the headline, “Exclusive: US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017”:

In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

CNN’s lede relayed multiple key pieces of information, not one of which was really emphasized in the main of its unconfirmable story:

  • America not only had a spy inside Russia’s government, it had multiple spies, with the subject of this particular piece being merely one of America’s “highest level” sources

  • The “extraction” was completed “successfully”

  • The sources are “multiple Trump administration officials”

The story told us our spy agencies successfully penetrated Russian government at the highest levels (although apparently not well enough to foresee or forestall the election interference campaign the same agencies spent the last three years howling about).

We were also told the agencies saved an invaluable human source back in 2017, and that the story came from inside the Trump administration. But the big sell came in the second and third paragraphs (emphasis mine):

The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.

The disclosure to the Russians by the President, though not about the Russian spy specifically, prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure…

So great was this spy of ours, we were told, that he had “access to Putin” and “could even provide images of documents on the Russian leader’s desk.” This was “according to CNN’s sources,” an interesting attribution given passages like this:

The source was considered the highest-level source for the US inside the Kremlin, high up in the national security infrastructure, according to the source familiar with the matter and a former senior intelligence official.

It’s a characteristic of third world countries to have the intelligence world and the media be intertwined enough that it’s not always clear whether the reporters and the reported-about are the same people. When you turn on the TV in Banana Republics, you’re never sure which group is talking to you.

We’re now in that same paradigm in America. CNN has hired nearly a dozen former intelligence or counterintelligence officials as analysts in the last few years. Their big get was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, but they also now have former deputy FBI chief Andrew McCabe, former FBI counsel James Baker, and multiple former CIA, NSA, and NSC officials.

Meanwhile, former CIA director John Brennan has an MSNBC/NBC gig, as does former CIA and DOD chief of staff Jeremy Bash, and several other ex-spooks. The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, who doubles as the CEO of one of America’s largest intelligence contractors.

This odious situation is similar to 2003-2004, when cable networks were tossing contributor deals to every ex-general and ex-spook they could find while they were reporting on the Iraq invasion. At one point, FAIR.org found that 52 percent of the sources in network newscasts were current or former government officials.

The numbers now aren’t quite that skewed, but CNN and MSNBC both employ former senior intelligence officials who comment upon stories in which they had direct involvement, especially the Russia investigation.

The CNN piece about the exfiltrated spy quotes a “former senior intelligence official,” a ubiquitous character that has become modern America’s version of the Guy Fawkes mask. I asked the network what their position was on whether or not they felt obligated to make a disclosure when (or if) a source was one of their own employees. They haven’t responded. 

Within hours after the CNN report broke, the New York Times had a triple-bylined piece out entitled, “C.I.A. Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades.” Written by three of their top national security writers, Adam Goldman, Julian Barnes and David Sanger, the story repeated the CNN information, but with a crucial difference:

C.I.A. officials worried about safety made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia. The situation grew more tense when the informant at first refused, citing family concerns…

CNN reported (and continues to report) that the “decision” to remove the spy came “soon after a May 2017 meeting.” The Times, based on interviews with its own batch of “current and former officials,” insisted the “arduous decision” came in “late 2016.” The Times noted the source “at first refused” to be extracted, explaining the delay in his removal.

How to understand all of this? Washington Post story by Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima released at 6:06 the next morning, “U.S. got key asset out of Russia following election hacking,” came up with the final formula. To see the complex, absurd rhetorical construction in full, one unfortunately has to quote at length:

In 2017, the United States extracted from Russia an important CIA source…

The exfiltration took place sometime after an Oval Office meeting in May 2017, when President Trump revealed highly classified counterterrorism information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador...

That disclosure alarmed U.S. national security officials, but it was not the reason for the decision to remove the CIA asset, who had provided information to the United States for more than a decade, according to the current and former officials.

The old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials used the tagline, “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter.” This Post story is, “You got your 2016 decision in my 2017 exfiltration!”

The paper brazenly fuses two unconnected narratives, telling us that a spy who had provided valuable information in 2016 was extracted in early 2017, after the Trump-Lavrov meeting. While that sequence may be chronologically correct, the story’s own authors say the Trump-Lavrov meeting was “not the reason” for the exfiltration. So why mention it? Moreover, who was this person, and what was the real reason his removal from Russia was necessary?

On Tuesday, September 10th, the Russian newspaper Kommersantdisclosed the name of the spy. They identified him as a mid-level Foreign Ministry official named Oleg Smolenkov.

Was Smolenkov a “very valuable agent”? Maybe, but Kommersant – amusingly, playing the same role as transparent mouthpiece for security organs – said no. They quoted a Russian foreign ministry official saying, “Let the CIA prove this.” As to Trump disclosing secrets to Lavrov in that meeting, the official told the Russian paper, “CNN never before thought up such nonsense,” adding that it was “pure paranoia.”

Kommersant further related that Russians instituted a murder case over the disappearance of Smolenkov and his family in 2017.

Disappear, however, Smolenkov did not. He went from Russia to Montenegro in 2017, then ended up in Virginia, where he and his family bought a house in Stafford, Virginia in January of 2019, in his own name! This is the same person about whom the Times this past Monday wrote:

The person’s life remains in danger, current and former officials said, pointing to Moscow’s attempts last year to assassinate Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official who moved to Britain as part of a high-profile spy exchange in 2010…

Smolenkov was so afraid for his safety, he put his family in a house the FSB could see by clicking on Realtor.com! That’s “tradecraft” for you.

To recap:

U.S. officials decided to exfiltrate a spy capable of transmitting pictures from Vladimir Putin’s desk (why are we telling audiences this, by the way?) because… why? Although all three of the initial major American news stories about this referenced Trump’s May 2017 meeting with Sergei Lavrov, the actual reason was buried in the text of all three pieces:

In the Times:

But former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction.

The Post:

In January 2017, the Obama administration published a detailed assessment that unambiguously laid the blame on the Kremlin…

“It’s quite likely,” the official continued, “that the U.S. intelligence community would already be taking a hard look at extracting any U.S. assets who would have been subject to increased levels of scrutiny” after the assessment’s publication.

CNN:

A US official said before the secret operation there was media speculation about the existence of such a covert source, and such coverage or public speculation poses risks to the safety of anyone a foreign government suspects may be involved. This official did not identify any public reporting to that effect at the time of this decision and CNN could not find any related reference in media reports.

That last passage by CNN, in which the network claimed it could not find “any related reference” to a secret source in media reports, is laughable.

Unnamed “senior intelligence officials” spent much of the early months of the Trump administration bragging their faces off about their supposed penetration of the Kremlin. Many of their leaks were designed to throw shade on the new pompadour-in-chief, casting him as a Putin puppet. A January 5, 2017 piece in the Washington Post is a classic example:

Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome.

We’re constantly told the intelligence agencies can’t reveal classified details out of fear of disclosing “sources and methods,” but this story revealed a very specific capability. If that “Russians celebrating Trump’s win” tale came from a person, it wouldn’t be long before the source’s head would be found in Park Sokolniki.

A more revealing Washington Post piece came in June, 2017. It was called “Obama’s Secret Struggle to Punish Russia for Putin’s Election Assault.” In that article, we’re told at length about how Brennan secured a “feat of espionage,” obtaining sourcing “deep within the Russian government” that provided him, Brennan, with insights into Russian’s electoral interference campaign.

Brennan, the Post said, considered the source’s intel so valuable that he reportedly hand-delivered its “eyes only” bombshell contents directly to Barack Obama in summer of 2016. This was before the story was told to the whole world less than a year later.

In that Post article, it was revealed that the October 2016 assessment of Russia’s role in an electoral interference campaign initially was directly tied to Putin, but Putin’s name was removed because it might “endanger intelligence sources and methods.”

Taken in sum, all of these facts suggest it wasn’t at all Donald Trump’s meeting with Sergei Lavrov that necessitated the “exfiltration.

(Side note: many of these spy stories are larded with Tom Clancy-style verbiage to make the reader feel sexier and more in the know. The CNN story, for instance, ludicrously told us that a covert source was also “known as an asset.” Derp – thanks!).

What is this all really about? We have an idea only because Brennan and Clapper aren’t the only ex-spooks pipelining info to friendlies in the media.

As noted by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and others, Attorney General William Barr earlier this year directed the Justice Department and former Connecticut Attorney General John Durham to investigate the intelligence agencies. In June, the New York Times wrote:

Mr. Barr has been interested in how the C.I.A. drew its conclusions about Russia’s election sabotage, particularly the judgment that Mr. Putin ordered that operatives help Mr. Trump by discrediting his opponent, Hillary Clinton, according to current and former American officials.

The Times quoted former CIA officials who expressed “anxiety” about this inquiry:

While the Justice Department review is not a criminal inquiry, it has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.’s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor’s scrutiny. 

We know, because it was bragged about at length in hagiographic portrayals in papers like the Washington Post, that John Brennan was the source of the conclusion that Putin directed the interference. We were even told that the determination of Putin’s involvement was too dangerous to publish in late 2016, because it would compromise Brennan’s magical Kremlin mole.

Now, suddenly, we’re treated to a series of stories that try to assert that the mole was removed either completely or in part because of Trump.

Maybe there’s an element of truth there. But it’s astonishing that none of the major news outlets bothered, even as an insincere gesture to convention, to address this story’s obvious counter-narrative.

If the mole was even that important, which I’m not convinced of – as McGovern told me this week, “They make stuff up all the time” – it seems more than possible we lost this “asset” because our intelligence chiefs felt it necessary to spend late 2016 and early 2017 spilling details about our capabilities in the news media.

This story wasn’t leaked to tell the public an important story about a lost source in the Kremlin, but more likely as damage control, to work the refs as investigators examine the origins of the election interference tale.

In 2017-2018, the likes of Brennan and Clapper were regularly feeding bombshell news stories to major papers and TV stations, usually as unnamed sources. The ostensible subject of these tales was usually Russian interference or collusion, but the subtext was a squalid power struggle between the enforcement bureaucracy and its loathed new executive, Trump.

After this “exfiltration story” broke, Esquire columnist Charlie Pierce, a colleague with whom I’ve sadly disagreed about this Russia business, wrote a poignant piece called “The Spies Are Acting as a Check on Our Elected Leaders. This Is Neither Healthy Nor Sustainable.”

In it, Charlie said something out loud that few have been willing to say out loud:

My guess is that the leak of this remarkable story came from somewhere in the bowels of the intelligence community…

The intelligence community is engaged in a cold war of information against the elected political leadership of the country, and a lot of us are finding ourselves on its side. This is neither healthy nor sustainable.

I personally don’t see myself as being on either side of this Cold War, but his point is true. He’s thinking about the country, but there’s the more immediate question of our business. A situation where the newspapers and airwaves are not for relaying facts but for firing sorties in an internecine power struggle really is unsustainable.

It won’t be long before audiences realize they’re not reading true news stories but what the Russians call versii, or “versions.” Whether it’s the pro-Trump wasteland of Fox or the Brennan-Clapper government-in-exile we see on MSNBC and CNN and in the Washington Post, the news has become two different nations, both intensely self-interested, neither honest. If this continues, it won’t be long before we’re filling overcoats and bird cages with things we used to read.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/14/2019 - 14:15
Published:9/14/2019 1:21:01 PM
[Markets] Over A Million Households Climbed To Middle Class Under Trump, Census Data Shows Over A Million Households Climbed To Middle Class Under Trump, Census Data Shows

Authored by Petr Svab via The Epoch Times,

More than 1.2 million American households moved to above $50,000 in annual income between 2016 and 2018, according to Census Bureau data released on Sept. 10, a sign of a growing middle class.

The data is a boon to President Donald Trump, whose platform is centered on a strong economy and promises of increased prosperity.

While in 2016, some 58.5 percent of households enjoyed more than $50,000 in total money income, the share rose to more than 60 percent in 2018. The median household income, meanwhile, rose by nearly 2.3 percent—with all figures adjusted for inflation.

The comparison isn’t quite apples-to-apples, since the bureau implemented a new methodology in its latest report that somewhat influenced the results for both 2018 and 2017.

Still, the data bears out a middle-class expansion unseen since the 1960s. Nearly 30 percent of households pulled in between $50,000 and $99,999 in 2018. That’s up from less than 29 percent the year before—the fastest increase since 1968.

Middle Class Woes

America has done a decent job of lifting up its poor, with the number of households earning less than $25,000 a year dropping by about 20 percent since 1968. The improvement is more significant when taking into account that the average household size has decreased from about 3.2 people to 2.5 people in the same period.

Furthermore, the country multiplied its rich (those with households earning over $200,000 year) more than eightfold, to 8.5 percent in 2018 from just 1 percent in 1968.

The middle class, however, had shrunk considerably. While in 1968, over 38 percent of households earned over $50,000 and under $100,000, the percentage dropped to 28.6 by 2014.

Signs of Change

In many respects, 2018 was a significant year for the middle class.

In the first months of 2018, the unemployment rate remained stuck at 4.1 percent, seemingly confirming forecasts of some economists that the 4 percent barrier signifies full employment. But the economy kept adding jobs. By the year’s end, unemployment fell to 3.7 percent, the lowest since 1969. Despite some ups and downs, the rate still stood at 3.7 percent in August 2019.

The progress has been even more apparent for black Americans, whose unemployment rate dropped below 7 percent for the first time in December 2017 and in May 2018 fell further to 5.9 percent. That record held for more than a year until it was also shattered in August as the rate hit 5.5 percent.

Money in Pockets

Another shift happened in wage growth.

In early 2018, it was high-wage industries that had the fastest growth (about 3 percent). But by the year’s end and into 2019, annual growth has been strongest in low-wage industries—about 4.7 percent—according to an Aug. 2 data analysis by Martha Gimbel, research director at job-seeking site Indeed.

It was also those with the lowest education enjoying the fastest wage growth, a July report from the Congressional Research Service showed (pdf).

Less Welfare

Meanwhile, Americans have been weaning themselves off dependency on government programs.

In the first 29 months under Trump, food-stamp enrollment dropped by nearly 6.7 million. That compares with the less than 3.8 million drop under the last 29 months of the Obama presidency, which included a sudden drop of more than 770,000 in April 2016, when work requirements for able-bodied adults came into effect. Prior to that, the requirements were waived by most states, due to the 2008 recession.

Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP, government-sponsored health insurance for children and the poor, also declined under Trump by more than 2.9 million between January 2017 and June 2019.

Push on China

Trump has benefited from entering office during a period of expansion, yet the economy has also been boosted by his cutting of taxes and regulations. By fostering a pro-business climate, he also sparked optimism for investment.

The economic strength and the resilience of the labor market, in particular, have given Trump room to mount unprecedented economic pressure on China, whose communist regime has long been hurting the United States with unfair trade practices such as forced technology transfer, theft of intellectual property, and currency manipulation.

While negotiations with the regime continue, Trump has been raising tariffs on an increasing share of imports from China and plans to add still more.

The United States has collected tens of billions on the tariffs, though they’ve also led to increased prices of some products for Americans.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/14/2019 - 13:25
Published:9/14/2019 12:49:01 PM
[Markets] Snowden Spills: Infamous Whistleblower Opines On Spycraft, AI, And Being Suicided Snowden Spills: Infamous Whistleblower Opines On Spycraft, AI, And Being Suicided

Edward Snowden has finally laid it all out - documenting his memoires in a new 432-page book, Permanent Record, which will be published worldwide on Tuesday, September 17. 

Meeting with both The Guardian and Spiegel Online in Moscow as part of its promotion, the infamous whistleblower spent nearly five hours with the two media outlets - offering a taste of what's in the book, details on his background, and his thoughts on artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and other intelligence gathering tools coming to a dystopia near you. 

While The Guardian interview is 'okay,' scroll down for the far more interesting Spiegel interview, where Snowden goes way deeper into his cloak-and-dagger life, including thoughts on getting suicided. 

First, The Guardian:

Snowden describes in detail for the first time his background, and what led him to leak details of the secret programmes being run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s secret communication headquarters, GCHQ.

He describes the 18 years since the September 11 attacks as “a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts and secret wars”.

Snowden also said: “The greatest danger still lies ahead, with the refinement of artificial intelligence capabilities, such as facial and pattern recognition.

An AI-equipped surveillance camera would be not a mere recording device, but could be made into something closer to an automated police officer.”  -The Guardian

Other notables from the Guardian interview: 

  • Snowden secretly married his partner, Lindsay Mills, two years ago in a Russian courthouse. They met when he was 22 (14 years ago) on the internet site "Hot or Not," where he rated her a 10 out of 10 and she rated him a (generous) eight. 
  • He freely moves around Moscow, riding the metro, visiting art galleries or the ballet, and meeting with friends in cafes and restaurants.
  • The 36-year-old lives in a two-bedroom flat on the outskirts of Moscow, and derives most of his income (until now) from speaking fees - mainly to students, civil rights activists and others abroad via video chat.
  • Snowden is an "indoor cat by choice," who is "happiest sitting at his computer late into the night, communicating with campaigners and supporters."
  • At a training school for spies, Snowden was nicknamed "the Count" after the Sesame Street character. 

The Der Spiegel interview, meanwhile, is way more interesting... For example: 

"If I Happen to Fall out of a Window, You Can Be Sure I Was Pushed."

Meeting Edward Snwoden is pretty much exactly how children imagine the grand game of espionage is played.

But then, on Monday, there he was, standing in our room on the first floor of the Hotel Metropol, as pale and boyish-looking as the was when the world first saw him in June 2013. For the last six years, he has been living in Russian exile. The U.S. has considered him to be an enemy of the state, right up there with Julian Assange, ever since he revealed, with the help of journalists, the full scope of the surveillance system operated by the National Security Agency (NSA). For quite some time, though, he remained silent about how he smuggled the secrets out of the country and what his personal motivations were. -Spiegel Online

Select excerpts via Der Spiegel (emphasis ours): 

***

DER SPIEGEL: Mr. Snowden, you always said: "I am not the story." But now you've written 432 pages about yourself. Why?

Edward Snowden: Because I think it's more important than ever to explain systems of mass surveillance and mass manipulation to the public. And I can't explain how these systems came to be without explaining my role in helping to build them.

DER SPIEGEL: Wasn't it just as important four or even six years ago?

Snowden: Four years ago, Barack Obama was president. Four years ago, Boris Johnson wasn't around and the AfD (Germany's right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany) was still kind of a joke. But now in 2019, no one is laughing. When you look around the world, when you look at the rising factionalization of society, when you see this new wave of authoritarianism sweeping over many countries: Everywhere political classes and commercial classes are realizing they can use technology to influence the world on a new scale that was not previously available. We are seeing our systems coming under attack.

DER SPIEGEL: What systems?

Snowden: The political system, the legal system, the social system. And we have the proclivity to think that if we get rid of the people we don't like, the problem is solved. We go: "Oh, it's Donald Trump. Oh, it's Boris Johnson. Oh, it's the Russians" But Donald Trump is not the problem. Donald Trump is the product of the problem.

***

DER SPIEGEL: While writing, did you discover any truths about yourself that you didn't like?

Snowden: The most unflattering thing is to realize just how naïve and credulous I was and how that could make me into a tool of systems that would use my skills for an act of global harm. The class of which I am a part of, the global technological community, was for the longest time apolitical. We have this history of thinking: "We're going to make the world better."

***

DER SPIEGEL: Was that your motivation when you entered the world of espionage?

Snowden: Entering the world of espionage sounds so grand. I just saw an enormous landscape of opportunities because the government in its post-9/11 spending blitz was desperate to hire anybody who had high-level technical skills and a clearance. And I happened to have both. It was weird to be just a kid and be brought into CIA headquarters, put in charge of the entire Washington metropolitan area's network.

DER SPIEGEL: Was it not also fascinating to be able to invade pretty much everybody's life via state-sponsored hacking?

Snowden: You have to remember, in the beginning I didn't even know mass surveillance was a thing because I worked for the CIA, which is a human intelligence organization. But when I was sent back to NSA headquarters and my very last position to directly work with a tool of mass surveillance, there was a guy who was supposed to be teaching me. And sometimes he would spin around in his chair, showing me nudes of whatever target's wife he's looking at. And he's like: "Bonus!"

***

DER SPIEGEL: You became seriously ill and fell into depression. Have you ever had suicidal thoughts?

Snowden: No! This is important for the record. I am not now, nor have I ever been suicidal. I have a philosophical objection to the idea of suicide, and if I happen to fall out of a window, you can be sure I was pushed.

***

DER SPIEGEL: You write that you sometimes smuggled SD memory cards inside a Rubik's cube.

Snowden: The most important part of the Rubik's cube was actually not as a concealment device, but a distraction device. I had to get things out of that building many times. I really gave Rubik's cubes to everyone in my office as gifts and guards saw me coming and going with this Rubik's cube all the time. So I was the Rubik's cube guy. And when I came out of the tunnel with my contraband and saw one of the bored guards, I sometimes tossed the cube to him. He's like, "Oh, man, I had one of these things when I was a kid, but you know, I could never solve it. So I just pulled the stickers off." That was exactly what I had done -- but for different reasons.

DER SPIEGEL: You even put the SD cards into your mouth.

Snowden: When you're doing this for the first time, you're just going down the hallway and trying not to shake. And then, as you do it more times, you realize that it works. You realize that a metal detector won't detect an SD card because it has less metal in it than the brackets on your jeans.

***

DER SPIEGEL: You describe your arrival in Moscow as a walk in the park. You say you refused to cooperate with the Russian intelligence agency FSB and they let you go. That sounds implausible to us.

Snowden: I think what explains the fact that the Russian government didn't hang me upside down my ankles and beat me with a shock prod until secrets came out was because everyone in the world was paying attention to it. And they didn't know what to do. They just didn't know how to handle it. I think their answer was: "Let's wait and see."

DER SPIEGEL: Do you have Russian friends?

Snowden: I try to keep a distance between myself and Russian society, and this is completely intentional. I live my life with basically the English-speaking community. I'm the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. And, you know, I'm an indoor cat. It doesn't matter where I am -- Moscow, Berlin, New York -- as long as I have a screen to look into.

***

Read the rest of Der Spiegel's interview with Edward Snowden here.

Meanwhile, The Guardian provides an interesting 'Snowden Timeline': 

Snowden's timeline

21 June 1983 Edward Joseph Snowden is born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, US.

2006-2013 Initially at the CIA, and then as a contractor for first Dell and then Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden spends years working in cybersecurity on projects for the US National Security Agency (NSA).

20 May 2013 Edward Snowden arrives in Hong Kong, where a few days later he meets with Guardian journalists, and shares with them a cache of top secret documents he has been downloading and storing for some time.

5 June 2013 The Guardian begins reporting the Snowden leaks, with revelations about the NSA storing the phone records of millions of Americans, and the agency’s claim its Prism programme had “direct access” to data held by Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants.

7 June 2013 The US president, Barack Obama, is forced to defend the programmes, insisting that they are adequately overseen by the courts and Congress.

9 June 2013 Snowden goes public as the source of the leaks in a video interview.

16 June 2013 The revelations expand to include the UK, with news that GCHQ intercepted foreign politicians’ communications during the 2009 G20 summit in London, and that the British spy agency has also tapped the fibre-optic cables carrying much of the internet’s traffic.

21 June 2013 The US files espionage charges against Snowden and requests Hong Kong detain him for extradition.

23 June 2013 Snowden leaves Hong Kong for Moscow. Hong Kong claims that the US got Snowden’s middle name wrong in documents submitted requesting his arrest meaning they were powerless to prevent his departure.

1 July 2013 Russia reveals that Snowden has applied for asylum. He also expresses an interest in claiming asylum in several South American nations. Eventually Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela offer permanent asylum.

3 July 2013 While en route from Moscow, Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, is forced to land in Vienna after European countries refuse his plane airspace, suspecting that Snowden was on board. It is held and searched for 12 hours.

1 August 2013 After living in an airport for a month, Snowden is granted asylum in Russia.

21 August 2013 The Guardian reveals that the UK government ordered it to destroy the computer equipment used for the Snowden documents.

December 2013 Snowden is a runner-up to Pope Francis as Time’s Person of the Year, and gives Channel 4’s “Alternative Christmas Message”.

May 2015 The NSA stops the bulk collection of US phone calling records that had been revealed by Snowden.

December 2016 Oliver Stone releases the movie Snowden featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Melissa Leo, Tom Wilkinson, Zachary Quinto and a cameo by former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

January 2017 Snowden’s leave to remain in Russia is extended for three more years.

June 2018 Snowden says he has no regrets about his revelations, saying: “The government and corporate sector preyed on our ignorance. But now we know. People are aware now. People are still powerless to stop it but we are trying.”

March 2019 Vanessa Rodel, who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong, is granted asylum in Canada.

September 2019 Snowden remains living in an undisclosed location in Moscow as he prepares to publish his memoirs.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/14/2019 - 13:00
Published:9/14/2019 12:18:53 PM
[Markets] Osama Bin Laden's Son Killed In US Operation: White House Osama Bin Laden's Son Killed In US Operation: White House

The Trump administration has claimed the death of Hamza bin Laden, a son of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. 

According to the White House statement, he was killed in an operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. 

"The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa’ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," the statement continues. 

"Hamza bin Ladin was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups." 

While no date was given for his death, rumors have been swirling since July 31, when the New York Times cited two anonymous officials who said that the US had played a role in the operation, "but it was not clear how." 

Details of the strike that killed him were scarce, including when and where. The United States government played a role in the operation, but it was not clear how, according to the officials, who discussed his death on the condition of anonymity because it involved sensitive operations and intelligence gathering.

Mr. bin Laden was killed sometime during the first two years of the Trump administration, officials said. He was killed before the State Department announced a $1 million reward for information about his whereabouts in February, but American military and intelligence agencies had not confirmed his death by then. -New York Times

As the Times noted in late July, the news of Hamza's death "represented more of a symbolic victory for the American government than the removal of a threat," as Al Qaeda has not carried out any recent attacks, and while Hamza was being groomed to take over the group - that was many years away from becoming a reality. 

Hamza's brother Khalid died attempting to defend his father against US Navy SEALs in May, 2011 - when the Obama administration carried out a CIA-led raid with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in which Seal Team Six killed the Al Qaeda leader and immediately dumped his body in the ocean, citing religious reasons. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/14/2019 - 10:30
Tags
Published:9/14/2019 9:49:06 AM
[Markets] Ukraine President Thanks Trump Admin For Releasing Hold On $250M In Military Aid Ukraine President Thanks Trump Admin For Releasing Hold On $250M In Military Aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the Trump administration for releasing $250 million in military aid which was delayed last month over concerns that the money was not being spent in the best interests of the United States

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

"The president has made no secret when it comes to foreign assistance that U.S. interests abroad should be prioritized and other foreign countries should also be paying their fair share," a senior administration official told reporters in August. 

The move came after US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pressured the White House - capped off by the threat of an amendement to the $695 billion Pentagon funding lodged by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), which would have prevented Trump from withholding such funds in the future, according to Fox News

Several Republican senators, including Trump ally Lindsey Graham, said they would have voted with the Democrats on the amendment.

"We support Ukraine. Period. End of discussion," said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.

Congress initially approved the aid last month, but Trump asked his national security team to review funding for the program, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, to ensure it would be used in the best interests of the United States. -Fox News

Speaking at the Yalta European Strategy annual meeting organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Zelensky also announced an additional $140 million which accompanied the release, telling the audience "I like this kind of relationship," calling it a "very good economic model." 

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said of the decision "It would have been a mistake to hold back our assistance to the brave people of Ukraine. Doing so would have undermined our partners in Ukraine and Eastern Europe and further emboldened the Kremlin," adding "I criticized President Obama for not responding more swiftly and forcefully to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. I joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in pushing that administration to provide assistance to Kyiv."

The aid represents a substantial boost for Ukraine, whose full 2017 military budget was $5.2 billion. Separately, the State Department is giving $141 million in aid for the country's military, according to Politico. The aid is seen by Ukraine as important to bolstering the military and keeping Russia at bay.

The administration's hold on the aid money prompted Trump's critics to say it was another way the president was going easy on Russian President Vladimir Putin. -Fox News

During his speech and a Q&A session with Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haas, Zelensky vowed to reclaim Crimea from Russia. 

"I've said it before and I'll say it again: We must bring our territories back," he said, adding that Ukrainian soldiers must be able to return home "as victors," according to Newsweek

That said, the former comedian stressed that diplomacy must be the path forward. "I have repeatedly said that diplomacy is the only way to achieve this, and its powerful and effective weapon is sanctions," adding that sanctions are "the most important weapon." 

The president said he had come under pressure from other nations to lift sanctions on people noting the economic benefits it could have. "You lose money, sorry, we lose people," he replied. "Unless we restore peace, the sanctions should stay," he continued.

Nonetheless, the president—whose new party swept a snap parliamentary election in July to solidify his power—acknowledged how difficult it would be to regain control of Crimea, the strategically valuable peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

Haass suggested that Ukraine was implementing a soft power strategy over the Crimea question, seeking to present residents there with a more attractive pro-European liberal Ukrainian society to undermine the Russian nationalism favored by the Kremlin.

But Zelensky refused to be drawn on the sensitive issue, wary that his words would be twisted. Instead, he simply said his team have several ideas of how to restore Ukraine's pre-war borders. "We will be fighting to bring the Crimea back," he said, "and not only in words." -Newsweek

Last week Russia and Ukraine conducted a long-expected prisoner swap, raising hopes of thawing relations between the two countries and ending the fighting which has killed some 13,000 people and wounded 30,000 more. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/14/2019 - 08:45
Tags
Published:9/14/2019 7:49:17 AM
[Markets] The Establishment Is Changing Its Tune On Russia The Establishment Is Changing Its Tune On Russia

Authored by Patrick Lawrence via ConsortiumNews.com,

Russophobic rhetoric persists in Washington, but a counter-argument is emerging.

Are Western democracies, the U.S. and France in the lead, rethinking the hostility toward Russia they conjured out of nothing since Moscow responded to the coup Washington cultivated in Ukraine five years ago? Will Trump eventually succeed in putting ties with Russia on a more productive path — triumphing over the hawks hovering around him? Have the Europeans at last grown weary of following the U.S. lead on Russia even as it is against their interests to do so?

In desultory fashion over the past month or so, we have had indications that the policy cliques in Washington are indeed reconsidering the Cold War II they set in motion during the Obama administration’s final years. And President Donald Trump, persistent in his effort to reconstruct relations with Russia, now finds an unlikely ally in Emmanuel Macron. This suggests a nascent momentum in a new direction.

“Pushing Russia away from Europe is a profound strategic mistake,” the French president asserted in a stunning series of remarks to European diplomats immediately after the Group of 7 summit in Biarritz late last month.

This alone is a bold if implicit attack on the hawkish Russophobes Trump now battles in Washington. Macron then outdid himself: “We are living the end of Western hegemony,” he told the assembled envoys.

It is difficult to recall when a Western leader last spoke so truthfully and insightfully of our 21stcentury realities, chief among them the inevitable rise of non–Western nations to positions of parity with the Atlantic world. You have nonetheless read no word of this occasion in our corporate media: Macron’s startling observations run entirely counter to the frayed triumphalism and nostalgia that grip Washington as its era of preeminence fades.

President Donald J. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron in joint press conference in Biarritz, France, site of the G7 Summit, Aug. 26, 2019. (White House/ Andrea Hanks)

There is much to indicate that the West’s aggressively hostile posture toward Russia remains unchanged. The Russophobic rhetoric emanating from Washington and featured daily in our corporate television broadcasts continues unabated. Last month Washington formally abandoned the bilateral treaty limiting deployment of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, signed with Moscow in 1987. As anyone could have predicted, NATO now suggests it will upgrade its missile defense systems in Poland and Romania. This amounts to an engraved invitation to the Russian Federation to begin a new arms race.

But a counter-argument favoring a constructive relationship with Russia is now evident. This is not unlike the abrupt volte-face in Washington’s thinking on North Korea: It is now broadly accepted that the Korean crisis can be resolved only at the negotiating table.

The Times Are Changing

The New York Times seems to be on board with this this sharp turn in foreign policy. It reported the new consensus on North Korea in a news analysis on July 11. Ten days later it published another arguing that it’s time to put down the spear and make amends with Moscow. Here is the astonishing pith of the piece: “China, not Russia, represents by far the greater challenge to American objectives over the long term. That means President Trump is correct to try to establish a sounder relationship with Russia and peel it away from China.”

It is encouraging that the Times has at last discovered the well-elaborated alliance between Moscow and Beijing. It took the one-time newspaper of record long enough. But there is another feature of this article that is important to note: It was published as a lead editorial. This is not insignificant.

It is essential, when reading the Times, to understand the close — not to say corrupt — relations it has maintained with political power in Washington over many generations. This is well-documented in histories of the paper and of institutions such as the CIA. An editorial advancing a policy shift of this magnitude almost certainly reflects the paper’s close consultations, at senior levels of management, with policy-setting officials at the National Security Council, the State Department, or at the Pentagon. The editorial is wholly in keeping with Washington’s pronounced new campaign to designate China as America’s most dangerous threat.

It is impossible to say whether Trump is emboldened by an inchoate shift of opinion on Russia, but he flew his banner high at the Biarritz G–7. Prior to his departure for the summit in southwest France he asserted that Russia should be readmitted to the group when it convenes in the U.S. next year. Russia was excluded in 2014, following its annexation of Crimea in response to the coup in Kiev.

Trump repeated the thought in Biarritz, claiming there was support among other members for the restoration of the G–8. “I think it’s a work in progress,” he said. “We have a number of people that would like to see Russia back.”

Macron is plainly one of those people. It was just after Trump sounded his theme amid Biarritz’s faded grandeur — and what an excellent choice for a convention of the Western powers — that the French president made his own plea for repairing ties with Russia and for Europe to escape its fate as “a theater for strategic struggle between the U.S. and Russia.”

Biarritz from the Pointe Saint-Martin, 1999. (Wikimedia Commons)

“The European continent will never be stable, will never be secure, if we don’t pacify and clarify our relations with Russia,” Macron said in his address to Western diplomats. Then came his flourish on the imminent end of the Atlantic world’s preeminence.

“The world order is being shaken like never before. It’s being shaken because of errors made by the West in certain crises, but also by the choices made by the United States in the past few years— and not just by the current administration.”

Macron is an opportunistic main-chancer in European politics, and it is not at all certain how far he can or will attempt to advance his new vision of either the West or Europe in the Continent’s councils of state. But as evidence of a new current in Western thinking about Russia, the non–West in general, and Europe’s long-nursed desire for greater independence from Washington, the importance of his comments is beyond dispute.

The question now is whether or how soon better ties with Moscow will translate into practical realities. At present, Trump and Macron share a good idea without much substance to it.

Better US-Russia Ties May Be in Pipeline

But Trump may have taken a step in the right direction. Within days of his return from Biarritz, he put a hold on the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a military aid program that was to provide Kiev with $250 million in assistance during the 2019 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1 and runs to Sept. 30, 2020. The funds are designated for weaponry, training and intelligence support.

Trump has asked his national security advisers to review the commitment. The delay, coming hard on his proposal to readmit Russia to a reconstituted G–8, cannot possibly be read as a coincidence.

There will be other things to watch for in months to come. High among these is Trump’s policy toward the Nord Stream 2 pipeline linking Russian gas fields to terminals in Western Europe, thereby cutting Ukraine out of the loop. Trump, his desire to improve ties with Moscow notwithstanding, has vigorously opposed this project. The Treasury Department has threatened sanctions against European contractors working on it. If Trump is serious about bringing Russia back into the fold, this policy will have to go. This may mean going up against the energy lobby in Washington and Ukraine’s many advocates on Capitol Hill.

To date, U.S. threats to retaliate against construction of Nord Stream 2 have done nothing but irritate Europeans, who have ignored them, while furthering the Continent’s desire to escape Washington’s suffocating embrace. This is precisely the kind of contradiction Macron addressed when he protested that Europeans need to begin acting in their own interests rather than acquiesce as Washington force-marches them on a never-ending anti–Russia crusade.

Macron may prove a pushover, or a would-be Gaullist who fails to make the grade. Or he may have just announced a long-awaited inflection point in trans–Atlantic ties. Either way, he has put highly significant questions on the table. It will be interesting to see what responses they may elicit, not least from the Trump White House.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/13/2019 - 21:25
Tags
Published:9/13/2019 8:45:49 PM
[2019 News] Air Force deal to refuel near Trump’s Scottish resort reportedly signed under Obama Air Force deal to refuel near Trump’s Scottish resort reportedly signed under Obama. Well, this should put an end to the squawking the Democrats are doing. Oh as an aside, Trump gave the Air Force as low as $130 a night room rates. Published:9/13/2019 7:45:33 PM
[Markets] Shocking: While Combating Opioids, Feds Weighed Using Fentanyl To Execute Inmates  Shocking: While Combating Opioids, Feds Weighed Using Fentanyl To Execute Inmates 

In a Reuters exclusive, the U.S. Department of Justice wanted to execute prisoners with fentanyl last year, at a time when the highly addictive opioid was fueling the worst overdose crisis this country has ever seen.

Documents revealed in court filings last month showed how the department contemplated using the drug. It was then decided against, as Attorney General William Barr in July decided to use pentobarbital instead.

Pentobarbital is a barbiturate that slows the activity of the brain and nervous system. It's expected to be used when federal executions resume later this year, ending a de facto moratorium on the punishment put in place by former President Obama.

The special consideration for fentanyl executions was at a time when federal agents have been seizing illegal imports of the synthetic opioid.

Pharmaceutical companies have attempted to halt their distribution channels into the federal government that would ultimately be used in executions.

This has led to many states, and the federal government to concoct their own deadly recipes. Some of these experimental drugs have led to “botched” executions in which a prisoner died a horrible death, viewed by some as a breach of the constitutional ban on “cruel and unusual” punishments.

In 2017, authorities in Nebraska used the powerful opioid in a lethal injection. It was the state’s first execution in 21 years, and the country’s first death sentence carried out with fentanyl.

According to the three-page internal memorandum from March 2018 by the director of the department’s Bureau of Prisons, the Justice Department was examining the “use of fentanyl as part of a lethal injection protocol."

"The full contents of the memo are not public. It is not known why the department decided to examine fentanyl, what supply channels were considered or why it ultimately rejected fentanyl as a protocol. The government’s court filing shows the only other named drug examined as the subject of a department memo was pentobarbital, the drug it now says it wants to use in December and January to kill five of the 61 prisoners awaiting execution on federal death row," Reuters said.

Reuters spoke with Mark Inch, who was the Bureau of Prisons’ director at the time, acknowledged that he wrote the memo, had to resign a couple of months after writing the memo, and he wouldn't comment further.

One Ohio lawmaker earlier this year proposed using illegal fentanyl seized from drug traffickers to execute inmates.

Robert Dunham, the director of the Washington-based non-profit group the Death Penalty Information Center, told Reuters "there is just something fundamentally wrong about using a drug [fentanyl] implicated in illegal activities as your method of executing prisoners.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/13/2019 - 20:25
Published:9/13/2019 7:45:33 PM
[Markets] Kunstler Exposes "Tectonic Rumblings" In America's Political Memory Hole Kunstler Exposes "Tectonic Rumblings" In America's Political Memory Hole

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

The memory hole that appeared in America’s zeitgeist around 2016 is expanding like some evil cosmic rot. Things happen and then things unhappen and after a while it’s like they never happened. For instance, little seems to have happened all summer long with the matter known as RussiaGate, the attempt by high US government officials to overthrow the result of the 2016 election by pretending that Russia was trying to interfere in the 2016 election.

Quite a confection of lies and subterfuge. It apparently grew out of an effort at the highest levels of the Obama administration well before 2016 to run so-called intel operations against the perceived enemies of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy. One target was General Michael Flynn, who until 2014 had headed the Defense Intelligence Agency, which is devoted to military intel analysis. General Flynn was known to be unfavorably disposed to Mr. Obama’s deal to pay billions to Iran for a halt in that country’s nuclear weapons program.

After retiring, General Flynn set up his own intel consulting company, which had two clients in Russia: a short-hop airline and a cyber-security firm owned by a holding company in Britain. In late 2015, General Flynn attended a Moscow dinner for Russia Today (RT) where he sat next to Vladimir Putin and gave a speech for which he was paid $45,000. Note: at that point, General Flynn was a private citizen and we were not at war with Russia. It was one of many European nations that Americans were allowed to do business in.

My own heuristic analysis is that rival Intel chief, John Brennan of the CIA, enlisted British Intel “asset” (i.e., agent) Joseph Mifsud to sandbag General Flynn in order to put him out of business and shove him offstage. The scheme failed, and soon the General was seen around rallies for candidate Donald Trump. In one notorious scene at the Republican convention, he castigated his former colleague Hillary Clinton and joined in the crowd’s chant to “lock her up.” I’m sure that went over well with Mrs. Clinton and all the Obama administration honchos then still running the CIA, the FBI, and the DOJ.

After Mr. Trump won the 2016 election, he moved to appoint General Flynn as his National Security Advisor. Within a few days, FBI director James Comey pulled off an entrapment gambit to incriminate General Flynn over a conversation he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — as if incoming high officials for foreign policy are not supposed to associate with foreign ambassadors. You understand now that the government had continued its surveillance of General Flynn for years, including tapping his phone when he moved into his White House office. That enabled Mr. Comey to set up a perjury trap. The General was successfully sandbagged this time, kicked offstage, and conned into a guilty plea. He’s been awaiting sentencing for more than a year.

A few months ago, General Flynn fired his old lawyers and hired Sidney Powell, an attorney who literally wrote the book on discovering prosecutorial misconduct in the case of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, whose prosecution over Mickey Mouse comped hotel bills was thrown out of court by the same Judge, Emmet Sullivan, who presides in the US versus Flynn. Ms. Powell has now declared that she intends to prove “egregious prosecutorial conduct” and suppression of exculpatory evidence against the DOJ lawyers who ran the case against General Flynn. The government never would have had a case if they revealed the FBI’s internal memos on General Flynn.

Attorney Powell is seeking to have the case thrown out of court. The FBI and the DOJ lawyers who conducted the prosecution have stonewalled the court on producing the documents at issue. Judge Sullivan may sense that he’s seen this movie before. The case took on a life of its own long before William Barr was confirmed as attorney general and one wonders if he has any role in ending this damaging farce. Legal protocol may require Judge Sullivan to complete the case one way or another. I wrote in this space a year ago that General Flynn had been subject to prosecutorial misconduct. Now, I’ll venture to assert that if Judge Sullivan does not throw the case out, Mr. Trump will step in and pardon General Flynn, and in doing so will make it clear exactly how and why he was run into court.

The case against General Flynn was an intersection between all the malign forces operating in RussiaGate: rogue high government officials, the vengeful Mrs. Clinton, her allies in the media, and  the ass-covering of figures in Barack Obama’s White House inner circle. The case needs to be resolved to plug the memory hole in American political life.

Meanwhile, all indications are that former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe is about to be frog-marched into an indictment for his part in the epic, many-tentacled RussiaGate intrigue. Perhaps today. Many of the other well-known players will follow. Until they do, the Justice branch of the US government may be considered an enemy of the people.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/13/2019 - 15:05
Published:9/13/2019 2:14:13 PM
[The Blog] Again: Biden lies, claims Obama administration didn’t lock immigrants in “cages”

Memories.

The post Again: Biden lies, claims Obama administration didn’t lock immigrants in “cages” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/13/2019 12:43:06 PM
[Markets] "We're In A Demographic & Fiscal Dead-End" - Stockman On The Coming Financial Panic & The 2020 Election "We're In A Demographic & Fiscal Dead-End" - Stockman On The Coming Financial Panic & The 2020 Election

Via InternationalMan.com,

Doug Casey’s Note: David Stockman is a former congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan.

Now, anyone with connections to the government should elevate your suspicion level. But as you’ll see, David is a genuine opponent of government stupidity. Although his heroic fight against the Deep State during the Reagan Administration was doomed, he remains a strong advocate for free markets and a vastly smaller government.

We get together occasionally in the summer, when we’re both in Aspen. He’s great company and one of the few people in this little People’s Republic that I agree with on just about everything. Absolutely including where the US economy is heading.

I read his letter the Contra Corner every day and suggest you do likewise.

International Man: We seem to be near the top of the “everything bubble.” Almost nothing is cheap… anywhere. What are your thoughts on where people should put their money for prudence and for profit?

David Stockman: I would recommend recognizing that the “everything bubble” is the most extreme, exaggerated, severe financial bubble in world history. It will inevitably collapse, and there will be massive losses, even greater than occurred in 2008 and 2001.

So, the first thing is to stay out of the casino. By that, I mean the financial-market stocks, bonds, and everything else.

These markets are so artificial. They’re just chasing what the central banks are doing. There’s no honest price discoveries or supply and demand; nobody’s discounting the future of economic growth, productivity, and investment. You’ve got the chart monkeys, 29-year-old day traders who are in charge of the market.

When the big correction comes, there are going to be massive losses, and the panic will be great. All correlations will go to 1—which means everything will fall: the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

There’s this old saying among traders that when the cops raid the house of ill repute, they carry out the good girls, the bad girls, and the piano player too. That’s essentially what’s going to happen.

You can’t be saved by picking high-yielding stocks or conservative blue chips or stocks that provide daily necessities like food—it doesn’t matter. Everything’s overpriced right now because of this huge financial distortion.

When the real correction comes and the central banks are revealed to be impotent and powerless, then everything is going to collapse. You’ll be in harm’s way no matter how clever you’ve been in trying to pick and choose. And stay away from the bubble stocks like Amazon or Beyond Meat or any of those.

The time for speculation is over. We’ve had 30 years of central bank subsidized speculation. We’re going to go into the time and era for capital preservation, and that means the highest priority is to not lose money. It’s to keep your capital safe.

I think the only way to do that is in very short-term, liquid instruments.

I don’t think the U.S. government is going to disappear. I don’t think we’re going to have a national bankruptcy or anything like that. There’s going to be a tremendous fiscal disaster coming. But 90-day Treasury bills will continue to pay you their meager interest, and they will be a safe place to put your money.

We have to recognize that the 30-year experiment in what I call “Keynesian Central Banking”—which is almost like central planning—is over.

Therefore, the central banks of the world are going to be in enormous disrepute. They’re not going to be your friends or your savior.

Remember the Time magazine cover from the late ’90s, “The Committee to Save the World”? It had Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, and Larry Summers on the cover. They’re now going to be the ogres who destroyed the world.

The one thing that Donald Trump is going to accomplish in his misbegotten tenure is that his ferocious attack against the Federal Reserve will tear away the veil that it’s a beyond-politics cabal of geniuses who are safeguarding your livelihood.

He’s going to tear it apart. He’s going to totally besmirch and destroy the credibility of the Fed, at least in the eyes of his base. It’s going to create an enormous political debate about central banking.

Now, he’s coming at it from left field. He’s totally wrong. But Trump is unlike other presidents who were totally choreographed and scripted and moved their lips in the way that their advisors told them to.

And he’s going to go after the Fed. We haven’t seen anything yet. And I relish the prospect. They need to be beat to smithereens with a strong, lethal political club, and that’s Trump. And after the fragments end up all over the cutting room floor, we can figure out what to do next. But you must take down this institution.

The Fed is the number one, the number two, and the number three enemy of prosperity, capitalism, free markets, individual liberty, and the wealth of people in the world today.

Central banks have to be totally discredited and taken down.

The one thing that Trump is going to accomplish—as he desperately struggles for re-election—is he’s going to finally rip off the Band-Aid. We’re going to have a real debate about this awful curse of Keynesian central banking.

International Man: I think that’s the silver lining. For the first time, we have a president who is regularly tweeting about the Fed and bringing it to the attention of average Americans, many of whom have no idea what the Fed is or does.

Will Trump be able to pin the blame for the next recession on the Fed? What do you think the implications are for that?

David Stockman: It’s very difficult to know. It is not inconceivable that the Fed and other central banks could pull a couple more rabbits out of their hats.

Also, Trump could take the trade war to the edge and then pull back like he constantly does. He flinches constantly. He could do so again if he sees the market moving lower too fast. But if you look at the charts, there are massive air pockets down below, let’s say, the 2700, 2800 level on the S&P 500.

If there’s an event—like some tankers blow up in the Persian Gulf or something really bad happens in the Taiwan Straits or the Chinese pull some real retaliatory stunt like dumping a couple billion bonds in one hour—it could tank the market.

And remember 80% of daily volume in the stock market is essentially either index-driven ETFs or various kinds of quantitative, machine-driven investment strategies. If that ever breaks loose, the market will go through an air pocket, and then it’s all over except for the shouting.

Because if the S&P 500 drops 400, 500, 600 points, you will trigger another go-round in the corporate C-suites. They’ll suddenly wake up like they did in October 2008 and say, “Oh my God, we’ve got too much inventory, we’ve horded too much labor, we’ve got a lot of assets that aren’t producing returns.” And then they go into these big restructuring programs where they lay off workers by the tens of thousands and take huge write-downs, close facilities, and so forth. The next thing you know, you have a C-suite–triggered recession. That’s how it happens these days.

Recessions don’t happen because the Fed is tightening credit costs for Main Street. That’s the old days. That’s your grandfather’s economy and your grandfather’s Fed. But we’re now in the era of bubble finance. The Fed basically inflates the financial system until it collapses, and then it spills over into the mainstream economy through corporate C-suite panics.

If the stock market cuts through these air pockets down below, the recession will happen instantly, and no one will see it coming—just like in 2008.

I remember in the spring of 2008 they were still talking about the Goldilocks economy. And in November 2008, they were talking about the end of the world.

This is exactly what I think will happen if the stock market breaks loose.

We don’t know when it will happen. It could happen before November 2020 or after it. No one can really predict.

I think the odds are that it will happen before then, and if it does, Trump is toast. Elizabeth Warren will be the next president of the United States, and as that prospect becomes even more probable, the panic in the stock market will be something to behold. It will be worse than anything we’ve seen since October 1987.

If you talk about volatility, you haven’t seen nothing yet. Wait until the election gets really in full heat next year.

I think Elizabeth Warren will come to the top. Joe Biden is quasi senile, and he’s going to fall by the wayside. Bernie just isn’t going to cut it with the mainstream Democrats. So, Warren is going to pull ahead.

And if the stock market is faltering or it has crashed and the economy’s in trouble, you’ll have a populist, redistributionist, big government statist president and Congress.

That’s a totally different world from this dance fantasy that we’ve been living for the last 10 or 15 years.

International Man: With Trump’s recent budget deal with the Democrats, the last semblance of financial responsibility in US politics—which was a charade anyway—is explicitly dead. The US is headed for record deficits under Trump. The Democrats would of course be orders of magnitude even worse.

There is no meaningful force in US politics that could reign in the out-of-control spending. What do you think the implications of these political trends are for the future of the country?

David Stockman: The short answer is that, objectively, we are already fiscally bankrupt. And by that, I mean the $22 trillion of debt we have today, that’s the rear-view mirror.

That’s what the first 44 presidents in American history have managed to accomplish—including the last two before Trump, who took it from about $4 trillion to $19 trillion.

But Donald Trump is the most reckless, irresponsible president we’ve had since Lyndon Johnson, in terms of fiscal policy.

This guns-and-butter deal for two years that he just signed with the Democrats and the Congress was an abomination. It added $1.7 trillion more to the debt over the next 10 years. It eliminated entirely these spending or sequester caps that we’ve had since 2011.

But the more important point is that all deficits are not created equal. Deficits of a large magnitude at the top of the longest business expansion in history are an absolute abomination.

Even the original Keynesians in the 1960s and ’70s said you’ve got to manage fiscal policy over the cycle. When you get to a very strong economy or at the top of a business cycle, you have to reduce the deficit and even run surpluses.

Well, Trump has taken policy the other way. At the time when you’re supposed to be reigning things in, he’s actually pushed the deficit over the trillion-dollar mark.

Trump has created a monster defense budget for no reason except that he’s stupid and has been totally bamboozled by the military and the defense contractors. After all, we’ve got defense contractors running the Department of Defense. First, it was Boeing, now you have another guy in there who spent his whole life in the defense contract business.

Let’s just consider what Trump has already done at the worst time in the cycle. In the four budgets that he’s now signed up for, including this last deal, he’s increased spending by $140 billion per year.

How does that compare to Bill Clinton?

In 2019-dollars purchasing-power terms, Clinton’s budgets went up $40 billion a year.

Obama—the big spender, the terrible Democrat Socialist that Trump is always ranting about—his nine budgets went up $75 billion per year. And that’s including the huge deficit spending breakout of 2009 during the recession.

So, at the very worst time in the business cycle, Trump is massively increasing the structural deficit.

When I say the very worst time, it is both in calendar time and in cycle time. Because in calendar time, we’re entering the 2020s when all 80 million baby boomers are going to retire.

We’re going to be having 10–11,000 retirements a day for most of the decade. And by the end of the decade, there will be 80 million more people on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The cost of the welfare state is going to soar even as the political environment will become totally nonfunctional, because no one wants to pay more taxes.

The military-industrial complex is running with a trillion-dollar budget. There’s just no give anywhere, not on taxes, not on defense spending, not on entitlements, not on the entire welfare state.

So, the fiscal situation is going to completely unravel in the decade ahead.

The real debt of the country today is not the $22 trillion that’s on the books. That’s backward looking. It’s really $42 trillion. That’s because we have $20 trillion more baked into the cake under almost any scenario you can look at over the next decade, based on these factors I’ve just enumerated.

Now, $42 trillion of debt on a GDP that might get to be, in nominal terms, $27, $28 trillion by then (but probably less), that’s a 150% debt-to-GDP ratio. I just don’t see how you get out of that box.

We’re in a demographic and fiscal dead end. It’s a very dangerous prospect and one with no obvious answer on how to escape.

*  *  *

It’s clear the Fed’s money printing is about to go into overdrive. The Fed has already pumped enormous distortions into the economy and inflated an “everything bubble.” The next round of money printing is likely to bring the situation to a breaking point. We’re on the cusp of a global economic crisis that could eclipse anything we’ve seen before. That’s precisely why bestselling author and legendary speculator Doug Casey just released this urgent video. Click here to watch it now.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/13/2019 - 13:36
Published:9/13/2019 12:43:06 PM
[Crime] Has Trump spoiled the Andrew McCabe prosecution? (Paul Mirengoff) Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, deserves to be prosecuted. His crimes, false statements to federal investigators, were documented by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, an Obama appointee. Andy McCarthy discusses the crimes here. McCabe is an enemy and fierce critic of President Trump. I always worry when enemies of the president face criminal prosecution. Sending political enemies to prison is a hallmark of authoritarian Published:9/13/2019 11:45:07 AM
[Politics] Consumer Spending Update: Consumer Confidence Remains Near Five-Year Highs

The Rasmussen Reports Economic Index held steady at 140.8 in September, virtually unchanged from last month and still among 2019's highs to date.

Enthusiasm about the economy started to grow immediately following Donald Trump's election as president in November 2016 and spiked to 145.9 in February 2018. By comparison, in President Obama’s final years in office, this index reached a high of 121.5 in January 2015 and was at 108.1 his last month in the White House.

(Want a free daily e-mail 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 1,500 American Adults was conducted on September 1-2, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 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:9/13/2019 11:14:08 AM
[Markets] After Bolton, Trump Goals Remain Unrealized After Bolton, Trump Goals Remain Unrealized

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

The sudden and bitter departure of John Bolton from the White House was baked in the cake from the day he arrived there.

For Bolton’s worldview, formed and fixed in a Cold War that ended in 1991, was irreconcilable with the policies Donald Trump promised in his 2016 campaign. Indeed, Trump was elected because he offered a foreign policy that represented a repudiation of what John Bolton had advocated since the end of the Cold War.

Trump wanted to call off Cold War II with Russia, to engage with Vladimir Putin, and to extricate us from the Middle East wars into which Bolton and the neocons did so much to plunge the United States.

Where Trump demanded that NATO nations and allies like South Korea and Japan start paying the cost of their own defense, Bolton is an empire man who relishes the global role and responsibilities of America as the last superpower and custodian of the New World Order.

Trump saw in the hermit kingdom of North Korea an opportunity to end its isolation and bring Kim Jong Un into talks to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons, in return for a full readmission and welcome into the world that Pyongyang turned its back on after World War II.

In Trump’s passive acceptance of Kim’s resumption of short-range missile tests last August, Bolton surely saw signs of appeasement.

To Bolton, Trump’s trashing of Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal was the first step toward a confrontation and clash to smash the Tehran regime. To Trump, it was a first step to a Trump-negotiated better bargain with Iran.

Bolton’s hawkish stance of confrontation, and conflict if necessary to impose our will, from the Eastern Baltic, to Ukraine and the Black Sea, to the Middle East, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, the Korean Peninsula, today finds almost no broad support among the American electorate.

It is only among foreign policy elites in Beltway think tanks, the generals who ran the national security state, liberal interventionists in the media and the hierarchy of the GOP that we find echoes of Bolton.

The rest of the country has moved on. They want an end to the endless wars and to put America first again.

In the Democratic debates, climate change — the melting ice caps of the Arctic and Greenland — represents the real “existential threat.”

Only Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has made foreign policy her focus. But she is the antithesis of Bolton, an anti-interventionist who wants to end the wars and bring the troops home.

Yet, after Bolton’s departure, Trump’s problem is this: What he promised in 2016 he has been unable to deliver.

Rather than summits with Putin, the U.S. and NATO under Trump have sent additional forces to the eastern Baltic. We have let the U.S.-Russian strategic arms agreements lapse. We have sent lethal military aid to Ukraine to fight pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass.

Bibi Netanyahu, not Trump, holds the meetings with the Russian president, is in Moscow again this week, and has plastered a huge poster of himself and Putin at his Likud Party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.

We blacklist Putin, while Bibi relies on Vlad to help bring home the Russian-Jewish vote in Israel’s election next week.

We still have troops in Syria and Iraq and are closer to war with Iran than the day Trump took office. Such a war would become the defining event of Trump’s presidency and leave this country tied down in virtual perpetuity in the Middle East.

Trump’s hopes for a negotiated withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of his first term has been dealt a crippling blow with the cancellation of his Camp David summit with the Taliban.

Indeed, ex-Defense Secretary James Mattis threw cold water this week on the very idea of bringing our troops home. We must keep “boots on the ground” in Afghanistan, said Mattis, we cannot leave the Afghan forces alone to fight the terrorists and hold the country together:

“We’re going to have to stick with those countries that are not yet ready to do it on their own and keep … enough boots on the ground not to … turn the ground back over to the very enemy that attacked us before.”

What Mattis is saying is that Trump’s goal of extracting us from the “forever war” entails too great a risk, and U.S. troops in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan will have to soldier on, indefinitely.

North Korea continues to test missiles that may not be able to hit the U.S. homeland, but they could hit U.S. troops and bases in South Korea and Japan.

If, by 2020, Kim Jong Un still refuses to give up his nuclear weapons, Iran is back to enriching uranium, the Taliban atrocities continue unabated, and U.S. troops remain in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in the same numbers they are today, what does Trump do? What does Trump say?

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/13/2019 - 10:55
Published:9/13/2019 10:13:32 AM
[Politics] Biden Falsely Claims Obama Administration ‘Didn’t Lock People Up In Cages’

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday night falsely claimed the Obama administration “didn't lock people up in cages.”

The post Biden Falsely Claims Obama Administration ‘Didn’t Lock People Up In Cages’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/13/2019 9:15:15 AM
[The Blog] Castro goes there with Biden: “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?”

"I'm fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama, and you're not."

The post Castro goes there with Biden: “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/13/2019 7:53:18 AM
[Markets] 3rd Democrat Debate Highlights: Trudeau's Hair, Small Dudes, & "We're Gonna Take Your AK-47" 3rd Democrat Debate Highlights: Trudeau's Hair, Small Dudes, & "We're Gonna Take Your AK-47"

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Okay, so let’s talk about Thursday’s debate.  Apparently, every month the Democrats are going to subject us to at least one of these debates, and I suppose that this time around we should be thankful that they did not stretch things out over two nights.  All of the big news networks are covering the debate as if it was some sort of political playoff game, but the truth is that Thursday’s debate probably won’t move the numbers much at all.  Nothing of substance was said that wasn’t said in previous debates, and there were no defining moments that will significantly change the course of the campaign. 

So that is really bad news for anyone not named Joe, Bernie or Elizabeth.  Real Clear Politics keeps a running average of all the recent major national polls, and according to them none of the other candidates is even close to double digits right now.  It looks like it is going to be a three way race between Biden, Sanders and Warren, and Warren appears to be the one with momentum.  Of course it is still possible that something huge could happen between now and the beginning of next year that could fundamentally shake up the race, but as it stands now the other seven candidates that were on the stage with them might as well pack up and go home.

So the truth is that the debate really wasn’t that important, but many Americans watch these debates for the sheer entertainment value.  With that in mind, here is the most memorable quote from each of the 10 candidates during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate…

Cory Booker: “I’m the only person on this stage that finds (Justin) Trudeau’s hair very menacing”

Joe Biden to Bernie Sanders: “For a socialist, you’ve got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.”

Bernie Sanders: “It goes without saying that we must — and will — defeat Trump, the most dangerous president in the history of this country.”

Kamala Harris: “But the bottom line is this, Donald Trump in office on trade policy, you know, he reminds me of that guy in “The Wizard of Oz,” you know, when you pull back the curtain, it’s a really small dude?”

Amy Klobuchar: “What [Trump] has done here, has assessed these tariffs on our allies, he’s put us in the middle of the trade war and treating our farmers and workers like poker chips in one of his bankrupt casinos.”

Pete Buttigieg: “Well, the president clearly has no strategy. You know, when I first got into this race, I remember president Trump scoffed and said he’d like to see me make a deal with Xi Jinping. I’d like to see him making a deal with XI Jinping. Is it just me or was that supposed to happen in like April?”

Julian Castro to Joe Biden: “Barack Obama’s vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that, your plan would not.”

Elizabeth Warren: “I was in the United States Senate when 54 Senators said, ‘let’s do background checks, let’s get rid of assault weapons’ and with 54 Senators, it failed because of the filibuster. Until we attack the systemic problems, we can’t get gun reform in this country.”

Beto O’Rourke: “We’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”

Andrew Yang: “My campaign will now give a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for an entire year to 10 American families”

Yes, we have literally gotten to the point where presidential candidates are trying to win votes by offering cash handouts.  If he wins the election, Yang is promising to give $1,000 a month to everyone in America.  Back during the founding of our nation, Benjamin Franklin warned that this would happen someday

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”

Apparently Andrew Yang decided that he can’t wait until he is president to start handing out free cash, and his unusual announcement is making headlines all over the country.

While doing research for this article, I discovered that the Yang campaign has already begun running ads for this cash giveaway, and I was curious so I clicked on one of the ads.

I learned that you don’t have to actually donate any money to his campaign to qualify for the contest, and you don’t even have to be a Democrat to participate.

So I signed up.

If Andrew Yang wants to financially support my work for an entire year, I will gladly take his money.

Of course what I believe is diametrically opposed to just about everything he believes, and so he probably won’t be too thrilled if I win.

Personally, I think that Yang is making a mistake with his proposal to offer every American $1,000 a month if he becomes president.  With the cost of living these days, $1,000 a month doesn’t really go that far.

If he really wanted to get votes, he should have set the bar higher.  $5,000 a month would really start to get a lot of people excited, and $10,000 a month would be even better.

Yes, if we could all get $10,000 a month from the federal government each month we could all retire and nobody would ever have to work again and we could all spend our days frolicking in our new socialist utopia.

Isn’t that how it is supposed to work?

Sadly, our politicians seem to get more disconnected from the real world with each passing day.  We are 22 trillion dollars in debt, our nation is falling apart all around us, and we are rapidly steamrolling toward oblivion.

But most Americans continue to fall for the con game that our political system has become, and so the endless parade of clowns will continue.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/13/2019 - 07:53
Tags
Published:9/13/2019 7:15:05 AM
[Markets] The Madness Of James Mattis The Madness Of James Mattis

Authored by Danny Sjursen via TruthDig.com,

Last week, in a well-received Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis delivered a critique of Donald Trump that was as hollow as it was self-righteous. Explaining his decision to resign from the administration, the retired Marine general known as “Mad Dog” eagerly declared himself “apolitical,” peppering his narrative with cheerful vignettes about his much beloved grunts.

“We all know that we’re better than our current politics,” he observed solemnly.

“Tribalism must not be allowed to destroy our experiment.”

Yet absent from this personal reflection, which has earned bipartisan adulation, was any kind of out-of-the-box thinking and, more disturbingly, anything resembling a mea culpa - either for his role in the Trump administration or his complicity in America’s failing forever wars in the greater Middle East. For a military man, much less a four-star general, this is a cardinal sin. What’s worse, no one in the mainstream media appears willing to challenge the worldview presented in his essay, concurrent interviews and forthcoming book.

This was disconcerting if unsurprising. In Trump’s America, reflexive hatred for the president has led many in the media to foolishly pin their political hopes on generals like Mattis, leaders of the only public institution the people still trust. Even purportedly liberal journalists like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who was once critical of U.S. militarism, have reversed course, defending engagements in Syria and Afghanistan seemingly because the president has expressed interest in winding them down. The fallacy that Mattis and other generals were the voice of reason in the Trump White House, the so-called “adults in the room,” has precluded any serious critique of their actual strategy and advice.

The wildly unpopular, if not forbidden-to-be-uttered, truth is that Mattis, while an admittedly decorated Marine and a military strategist, was an abject failure.

Despite being hailed as a “warrior monk,” he was and remains a conventional interventionist figure—prisoner to the tired old militarist ideas of the necessity for U.S. military forward deployment, counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, and the perpetual need to balance or “contain” Russia and China. His career-long defense of America’s post-9/11 engagements should be the first sentence of his obituary.

None of these egregious errors in judgment have derailed Mattis’ career, of course. Can-do attitudes and compulsive optimism form the bedrock of today’s military culture, if not American society at large. Indeed, it was the general’s all-too-familiar view of the “War on Terror” that likely endeared him to successive promotion boards. As he notes in his own op-ed, “Institutions get the behaviors they reward.”

But Mattis and his entire generation of military leadership ultimately did a great disservice to their subordinates and the American people once they reached four-star rank. When given an (often absurd) mission by administration officials—be they Bush neoconservatives or Obama liberals—these generals and admirals offered “how” rather than “if” responses. Cultishly eager to please, they failed to tell their frequently ill-informed superiors that perhaps a proposed conflict couldn’t be won, at least with the resources available or at an acceptable human cost. Instead, Mattis, David Petraeus and their ilk debated whether counter-terror, advise-and-assist, or counterinsurgency was the best method to achieve an ill-defined “victory.” They effectively substituted high-level tactics for strategy.

Thanks to Mattis and company, Trump’s purported desire to withdraw from fruitless Middle Eastern wars has been stifled, the result being business as usual for the military-industrial-complex and national security state. And why not? Since resigning his post, Mattis has burst through the “revolving door” of the arms industry, reclaiming his seat on the board of the fifth largest defense contractor, General Dynamics. Albert Einstein famously (and perhaps apocryphally) said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” He might just as easily have been describing the career of James Mattis, who has been proven wrong again and again and again, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria.

Perhaps the only thing more celebrated than Mattis’ ostensible intellectualism is his supposed integrity. Yet his record as defense secretary throws that into question as well. Lest we forget, the general only decided to resign when Trump dared suggest a modest troop withdrawal from an 18-year war in Afghanistan and a speedy end to a highly risky, and ill-defined, mission in Syria.

This man of principle apparently had no ethical or philosophical compunctions about his department’s support and complicity in the Saudi terror bombing and starvation campaign aimed at the people of Yemen. This ongoing war has killed tens of thousands of civilians, starved at least 85,000 children to death, unleashed the world’s worst cholera epidemic, and generated millions of refugees. Mattis offered not one word of public criticism as his boss sold Saudi Arabia bombs that were all too often dropped on the heads of Yemeni civilians.  

Even after revelations that Saudi intelligence agents had murdered and dismembered The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Mattis and Secretary of State Pompeo appeared before Congress to defend the Saudis and argue for continued U.S. support in its war on Yemen. That conflict alone should have prompted him to resign, but it did not. 

Mattis, a supposed “warrior monk,” and cerebral strategist above the passions and viciousness of battle, also holds a tarnished legacy from his time commanding the siege and assault of Fallujah, Iraq, in late 2004. According to a well-documented report from the Center for Investigative Reporting, his Marines played fast and loose with their firepower, killing enough civilians to fill a soccer stadium. A year later, he reportedly used his status as a two-star general to “wipe away criminal charges” for Marines accused of massacring 24 Iraqi civilians in the village of Haditha.  

His actions in Iraq earned Mattis the nickname “Mad Dog,” of which he is now reportedly embarrassed. The former defense secretary seems always to have been a disturbingly gleeful killer, and once famously said of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, that “Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.” These aren’t the words of a reluctant warrior, even if they do demonstrate surprising candor about the dark side of war rarely uttered in polite company. It sounds instead like the irresponsible comments of a senior general who was busy playing sergeant.

Mattis ends his op-ed with a brief tale about the proverbial boys in the trenches. During the (predictably failed) assault on Marjah, Afghanistan, in 2010, he recounts asking an exhausted, sweaty Marine how he was doing and receiving a gleeful reply of “Living the dream, sir!” In my experience as a soldier, this kind of quip is usually meant sarcastically, but no matter. The exchange energized Mattis, and no one in the corporate press dared examine the real essence of the story he imparted.

By refusing to question the Marjah operation, or Obama’s Afghan “surge” in general, Mattis betrayed the very ground-pounders by whom he was so inspired. A more honorable figure, a true adult in the room, would have asked what we were doing there in the first place.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/12/2019 - 23:05
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Published:9/12/2019 10:09:17 PM
[US News] ‘Is that a grenade launcher?’ People have questions about the ‘gun ban’ photo Beto O’Rourke tweeted

"He might replace Obama as the gun salesman of the century."

The post ‘Is that a grenade launcher?’ People have questions about the ‘gun ban’ photo Beto O’Rourke tweeted appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/12/2019 9:39:47 PM
[Politics] Castro Blasts Biden for Not Taking Obama's Bad With Good Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro drilled Joe Biden for embracing his alliance with President Barack Obama, but not answering any criticism of some of his policies, including immigration. Published:9/12/2019 9:08:43 PM
[Markets] Key Words: Castro uses Obama to attack Biden: I’m fulfilling his legacy ‘and you’re not’ Barack Obama won’t be on the ballot in 2020 but he was a star of the Democratic debate on Thursday night. He was so much so that Julian Castro, who’s polling in single digits, used the former president to attack Joe Biden on stage in Houston.
Published:9/12/2019 8:38:25 PM
[Markets] US Pressures Israel To Drop China 'Belt And Road' Investments US Pressures Israel To Drop China 'Belt And Road' Investments

As China executes on its "Belt and Road" global trade scheme, more than 130 countries who have either committed to or expressed interest in the $600 billion initiative have been hard at work expanding their infrastructure to accommodate Beijing's ambitious plan. 

Haifa’s port (Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

And while President Trump has been pounding the table in an ongoing US-China trade war, progress made on Belt and Road threatens to reduce US leverage over Beijing - putting US allies such as Israel, which extended a 25-year offer for the operation of the Haifa terminal to state-controlled Shanghai International Port Group - in a tricky position, according to Bloomberg's Ivan Levingston. 

With national elections approaching on Sept. 17, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can ill afford to alienate the Trump administration on its signature international issue. Trump has endeared himself to Netanyahu by transferring the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the disputed Golan Heights. Netanyahu reciprocated by naming a new Golan settlement after Trump and praising the American leader for, among other things, quitting the Iranian nuclear accord. “Over the years, Israel has been blessed to have many friends who sat in the Oval Office, but Israel has never had a better friend than you,” Netanyahu told the president during a March trip to the White House. An October Pew study found that 69% of Israelis had confidence in Trump’s performance as president, and many of Netanyahu’s campaign ads prominently feature the U.S. leader. -Bloomberg

Of note, China is currently Israel's second-largest trading partner with around $11.5 billion in annual transactions in 2018, according to the report. 

Meanwhile, the United States has pressed Israel to create a buffer with China in the interest of national security - which would look something like the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (the same one that rubber-stamped Russia's purchase of 20% of America's Uranium). 

"Israel and Israeli companies are quickly coming to the realization that it’s going to be difficult to sustain business as usual in work with China while keeping the United States as the primary partner," said Daniel Shapiro, Barack Obama's US ambassador to Israel. 

Economic ties between Israel and China date to 1979, before China had formally recognized the Israeli state. Israeli billionaire Shaul Eisenberg brokered a secret meeting between representatives that led to Israeli arms sales to China. Diplomatic relations were formalized in 1992. In the early 2000s, the U.S. successfully pressured Israel to cancel a sale to China of its Phalcon radar system, as well as parts for the armed Harpy drones it had already sold them. But the Sino-Israeli relationship recovered. In the past few years, Chinese investment in the country’s tech sector has increased sharply, reaching about a quarter of all funds raised by Israeli tech companies in the third quarter of last year, data from the Israeli high-tech tracker IVC Research Center show. -Bloomberg

Netanyahu as recently as October hailed Israel and China's relationship as a "natural partnership" while hosting Chinese VP Wang Qishan at a meeting of the Israel-China Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation in Jerusalem - which sparked tremendous backlash among US officials, including just-fired national security adviser John Bolton and his 'friend,' Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - who threatened to limit how much intelligence the US shares unless they establish boundaries with China

The Haifa seaport in particular has been a cause for concern because of its proximity to a harbor used occasionally by the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet. Although the two facilities are separated by a breakwater and an older commercial port, the U.S. Senate passed a defense spending bill that includes a provision expressing “serious security concerns” about the development. Zhan Yongxin, China’s ambassador to Israel, pushed back with an op-ed in Israeli daily Haaretz in August, arguing that “the win-win cooperation between China and Israel” ought to be “respected.” -Bloomberg

"Using Chinese contractors to build some of our infrastructure is very important for Israel because there are very few infrastructure builders in the world," said Netanyahu's top economic adviser, Avi Simhon. "If we have additional competition for these projects, that could save us many billions of dollars.

Because of course, saving billions in the near-term is more important than screwing over your closest ally in the long term!

Bloomberg's bottom line: Whether or not Netanyahu prevails in his bid for reelection, Israel’s economy will remain dependent on China’s continued investment, potentially alienating the U.S.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/12/2019 - 21:25
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Published:9/12/2019 8:38:25 PM
[Politics] Warren: Obama’s Bailout of Wall Street Was a Failure, Paved Way for Trump’s Election

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) said the Obama administration's Wall Street bailout was not a success in a new interview, saying banks thrived and it paved the way for a populist like Donald Trump to win in 2016.

The post Warren: Obama’s Bailout of Wall Street Was a Failure, Paved Way for Trump’s Election appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/12/2019 5:07:51 PM
[Politics] Desperate Biden sends a MESSAGE to Democrats before tonight’s debate… Biden, who still leads in most polls, is trying to send a message before the debate tonight, a message reminding Democrats that he was their favorite president’s VP: Barack Obama was a . . . Published:9/12/2019 3:37:37 PM
[Politics] Desperate Biden sends a MESSAGE to Democrats before tonight’s debate… Biden, who still leads in most polls, is trying to send a message before the debate tonight, a message reminding Democrats that he was their favorite president’s VP: Barack Obama was a . . . Published:9/12/2019 3:37:37 PM
[World] Why military build-up, or war, isn't a solution to economic woes

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste,” a political adage in its most recent iteration attributed to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, long predated the Obama administration and will continue as long as politics exists. Times of crisis, whether natural or man-made, will always make it ... Published:9/12/2019 1:38:33 PM

[Markets] Israel Accused Of Spying On White House: Trump Ignores While Bibi Denies Israel Accused Of Spying On White House: Trump Ignores While Bibi Denies

A shocking exposé in Politico reveals the Israelis have for years been planting spy devices near the White House. The report cites former senior US officials, who describe that forensic analysis of recovered cell phone surveillance devices point back to Israeli intelligence, which is believed to have conducted the operation for the past two years. 

“It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible,” one former senior intelligence official told Politico. The report spells out, citing officials, that the planted devices are believed by the FBI and US intelligence agencies "likely intended" to spy on President Trump and his top aides.

Via The Times of Israel

Though it's easy to imagine the outpouring of fury and wall to wall media coverage complete with urgent Congressional hearings — should such allegations center on any other foreign country caught spying on the White House (let's say Russia for example), the bombshell Politico report has barely made a dent in the mainstream media or big cable networks' coverage.

This is partly because the administration's own reaction has been muted, as the report notes that "the Trump administration took no action to punish or even privately scold the Israeli government" after being informed by US intelligence that Israel likely planted the devices. 

Politico's sources in most instances held top intelligence and national security posts, who describe the following of the recovered spy devices

The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cell phones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.

The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates  though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.

From the moment the report was unveiled early Thursday, Israel's stance has been to vehemently deny, and to even suggest the accusations are tinged with "anti-Semitism". 

StingRay surveillance devices have long been known and used by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, driving controversy and concerns over illegal domestic eavesdropping.

Amos Yadlin, the former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, drove headlines by posting a statement online saying Politico's reporting is "fake news spiced with anti-Semitism” — and further cited a longtime Israeli government directive that bans all Israeli espionage and spying in the United States. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a firm denial while on a trip to Russia to meet with President Putin, calling the report "a blatant lie". The statement from the prime minister's office added, "There is a longstanding commitment, and a directive from the Israeli government not to engage in any intelligence operations in the U.S. This directive is strictly enforced without exception."

While on the ground in Sochi, Netanyahu told reporters the allegations are a "complete fabrication," and that he'd previously issued a blanket ban on Israeli intelligence spying on the US.  

Israeli intelligence is likely most interested in getting a leg up on the Trump administration's intent regarding Iran as the White House mulls new nuclear talks with President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions.

By all recent indicators, Tel Aviv hopes to disrupt a bettering of relations between Washington and the Islamic Republic. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/12/2019 - 13:25
Tags
Published:9/12/2019 12:37:20 PM
[US News] ‘We know what you’re up to’: Apropos of nothing, Joe Biden wants to remind you how ‘Barack Obama was a great president’ [video]

"You remember his name now?"

The post ‘We know what you’re up to’: Apropos of nothing, Joe Biden wants to remind you how ‘Barack Obama was a great president’ [video] appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/12/2019 11:38:11 AM
[] Revealed: You Know How Rush Limbaugh Talks About "Seminar Callers"? Turns Out They're Real -- Employed by a Joint Clinton-DNC Effort Eventually we might learn that all the Concerned Christian Conservatives agitating for Barack Obama in 2008 were, as strongly, strongly suspected, hired by David Axelrod to interfere with the election. As Instapundit noted, if this were a right-wing effort to... Published:9/12/2019 11:38:11 AM
[Markets] Eurasian Politics On The Cusp Of Change Eurasian Politics On The Cusp Of Change

Authored by M.K. Bhadrakumar via IndianPunchline.com,

The meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of Russia and France in the 2+2 format in Moscow on September 9 signified not only a warming up of relations between the two countries but a reset in Russia’s ties with the West.

The last time a Franco-Russian event in the 2+2 format took place was in October 2012 in Paris. A year later, the conflict erupted in Ukraine and the European Union imposed sanctions against Russia. The trajectory since then appears to be reversing its course.

The first signs appeared during the G7 summit in Biarritz on 24-26 August where the schism between the West and Russia significantly narrowed. The US President Donald Trump announced that he intended to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to next year’s G7 at Miami.

In the run-up to the Biarritz summit and immediately thereafter, the host, French President Emmanuel Macron underscored that reversing the trend of distrust between the West and Russia is in the common interest. (See my blog Macron’s Carolingian Renaissance of the G7.)

Antagonism in Europe toward Russia has been steadily giving way to a new thinking that isolating Moscow is not a viable strategy on the global stage. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared in July that “without Russia, we will not find answers to the pressing issues in global politics.”

Italy, of course, pioneered the new thinking and has sought the removal of the EU’s sanctions against Russia. In July, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described EU restrictions as “sad,” and “not good for Russia, nor for the EU, nor for Italy.”

However, it is France’s role that becomes crucial today. Despite Moscow’s backing for Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate in France’s 2017 presidential election, Macron seemed a model of moderation no sooner than he assumed office to invite Putin to visit him. Putin gleefully accepted the invitation (although Macron was seen in Moscow as the least desirable presidential candidate for Russian interests.)

In a summit at the highly-symbolic and sumptuous setting of Château de Versailles in May 2017, Macron held a “frank exchange” with Putin where they discussed “disagreements”. At a joint news conference, both leaders said there were opportunities to work together more closely.

Clearly, within ten days of assuming office as president, Macron was on the ball to bring Putin back in from the cold. Macron kept the lines open with Putin and even invited the Russian leader for talks at his residence on August 19 just days ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with French President Emmanuel Macron (R) at Fort Bregancon near the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas, France, Aug 19, 2019.

Macron sees that it is upto him to grab a leadership role for France. He has attempted to play the role of a mediator in Libya’s civil war, the Syrian conflict, Ukraine and the situation around Iran. As Tatiana Kastoueva-Jean at the French Institute of International Relations recently told the AFP:

“The stars are aligning a bit for Emmanuel Macron. He has the presidency of the G7 and the Council of Europe; Germany is no longer playing an active role in these matters; and London is paralysed by Brexit. He’s the de facto leader of Europe, and can legitimately speak for the West.”

Macron senses that a breakthrough is possible over Ukraine where the new president Volodymyr Zelensky appears determined to improve relations with Russia, which is also what his massive electoral mandate expects from him.

On the other hand, Putin is eager to encourage Zelensky to push ahead to unlock the stalemate in Donbas by exploring the potentials of the Minsk agreements regarding some degree of autonomy for the breakaway regions.

To be sure, the growing rapprochement between Moscow and Kiev resulted in the swap of dozens of prisoners in each other’s custody on Saturday, which is a hugely emotive issue and clears the deck for a summit meeting of the Normandy format (France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine) to accelerate a peace process in Donbas.

Meanwhile, a trilateral meeting is also expected to take place within the year between Russia, European Union and Ukraine to discuss a new framework for Russian gas supplies to Ukraine.

Indeed, the ground beneath the feet is shifting. Trump struck the right cord by promptly welcoming Saturday’s prisoner swap: “Russia and Ukraine just swapped large numbers of prisoners. Very good news, perhaps a first giant step to peace. Congratulations to both countries!”

Relatives of Ukrainian prisoners arriving from Russia at Borispil Airport, outside Kiev, September 7, 2019

Unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump doesn’t see any vital US interests at stake in pitting Kiev against Moscow. Trump’s detached attitude is making a difference. He understands that only by easing tensions over Ukraine, a meaningful rapprochement with Russia becomes possible.

On his part, Putin too knows that in order for Russia to play the optimal role as an independent power centre on the global stage and as a balancer in big-power politics — as well as for sustaining Russia’s resurgence in the medium and long-term — the strengthening of the European vector of its “Eurasianism” becomes imperative.

Putin hopes to secure an easing of EU sanctions and a possible return to the G7. On the other hand, he is acutely conscious that the divergences among the Europeans and the discords within the transatlantic alliance strengthen Moscow’s hand in negotiations.

However, there is going to be robust opposition from the western camp to any dismantling of sanctions against Russia. Britain will oppose tooth and nail any moves to give ground against Russia. (See an acerbic piece by the British think tank Chatham House titled On Russia, Macron Is Mistaken.)

Again, how far Trump succeeds in forcing his will on the Russia policies remains to be seen. Fundamentally, the US establishment is nowhere near willing to accept the growing multipolarity in the world order. The US’ dual containment strategy against Russia and China is cast in stone, as the speech by the US Defence Secretary Mark T. Esper at London’s Royal United Services Institute last week reminds us.

But then, the Chinese have a saying — ‘Dripping water can pierce a stone.’ The Russian-Ukrainian swap of prisoners and the resumption of the Franco-Russian meeting in the 2+2 format signal a high degree of perseverance on the part of Macron and Putin — with tacit support from Trump. One can hear the sound of dripping water.

The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Moscow after the 2+2 talks, “The time has come, the time is right, to work toward reducing the distrust between Russia and Europe, who ought to be partners on a strategic and economic level. It’s not yet the time to lift sanctions. (But) we are seeing a new state of mind compared to that of the last few years, which we are pleased about.”

The point is, Russia will never give back Crimea and France’s European allies may have to consider that to be an acceptable price to end the Ukraine conflict. Such a strategic adjustment is entirely conceivable but it takes time to mature.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/12/2019 - 05:00
Tags
Published:9/12/2019 4:07:35 AM
[Comedy] Pussy ass bitch

Huge coward. Piece of shit that doesn’t accept any responsibility. Takes credit for for an economy that Obama revived. Openly racist. Liar

“The President of the United States is a pussy ass bitch. “

Published:9/12/2019 2:08:40 AM
[Markets] Afghanistan Is Both Stalemate And Quagmire Afghanistan Is Both Stalemate And Quagmire

Authored by Danny Sjursen via AntiWar.com,

When they saw Afghanistan, all they could think of was Iraq. Indeed, most military thinkers are perennially driven by the tunnel-vision of personal experience; rarely a good thing. Indeed, the generals and colonels managing the foolish, politically driven 2009-12 Obama "surge" into Afghanistan – what he’d absurdly labeled the "good war" – had few fresh ideas. Convinced, and feeling vindicated, by the myth that Baby Bush’s 2007-09 Iraq surge had "worked," most commanders knew just what to do and sought to replicate these tactics in the utterly dissimilar war in Afghanistan. That meant the temporary infusion of some 30,000 extra troops, walling off warring neighborhoods, and plopping small American units among the populace.

Some of us, mostly captains who’d cut our teeth in the worst days of the Iraq maelstrom, were skeptical from the start. I, for one, had long sensed that the "gains" of that surge were highly temporary, that the U.S. military had simply bought the fleeting loyalty of Sunni insurgents, and that the whole point of the surge – to allow a political settlement between warring sects and ethnicities – had never occurred. The later rise of ISIS, breakdown of centralized governance, and rout of the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army in 2013-14 would prove my point. But that was in the future. From my viewpoint, the legacy of surge 1.0 had really only been another 1,000 or so American troop deaths – including three of my own men – and who knows how many Iraqi casualties.

Then again, no one cared what one lowly, if dreamy yet cynical, officer thought anyway. I was a tool, a pawn, a middle-managing "company man" expected to carry out surge 2.0 with discipline and enthusiasm. And so I tried. My team of cavalry scouts raised a dubiously loyal local militia, partnered with the often drug-addicted, criminal Afghan Army and police, and parsed out my squads to live within the local villages semi-permanently. That’s when things got weird.

Impressed by the minor, momentary drop in violence – such deceptive stats were a way of life in the US Army – these early measures had allegedly produced, both my squadron commander, and his boss, the brigade commander, suddenly took interest in my troop. Now they wanted to expand on what we were doing and toss in their own misguided two cents. What was needed, my colonel informed me, was to wall off the nearest contested village – Charcusa – with tall concrete "T-walls." That way, so his twisted logic went, the Taliban couldn’t get in. See, for him, a complex war was that simple. In an oddly prescient foreshadowing of his future commander-in-chief, Donald Trump’s, border tactics, my squadron commander never saw a problem a section of wall couldn’t solve.

Now, once again, it was my turn to attempt to pour a dose of reason all over his best laid plans. This rarely ended well. Thus, I explained that surrounding the small agricultural village with concrete barriers would separate farmers from their fields, and thus their livelihood. Besides, even if we created a few guarded exits to the fields, the T-walls would seal off the many canals the villagers used for drinking and irrigation, essentially drying out the whole joint. Oh, and the Taliban could climb, I reminded him. The Taliban were probably already in the village, related to the villagers, and didn’t wear uniforms or big Ts on their foreheads. The aesthetic nightmare of walling off a village would alienate the people and cause psychologically deep reactions of insecurity combined with resentment of us Americans. I tried, well, every single argument I could muster.

Mister "lower-caters-to-higher” was far from pleased. See, the real brainchild of the Charcusa concrete bonanza was actually the brigade commander, and my lowly unit certainly couldn’t defy his wishes. Heck, my squadron commander’s own evaluation and career progression might be on the line. Weighed against that, what did tactical commonsense or the livelihood of meaningless Afghans matter? The brigade commander had himself been a battalion commander in Western Baghdad during surge 1.0, where he and others, gleefully walled off the area neighborhoods and divided conflicting Muslim sects. It "worked" in urban Baghdad, so why not rural, no electrical grid, religiously homogenous, Southern Afghanistan? There it was again: a colonel who saw an Afghan problem and reflexively sought to apply an uncreative Iraqi solution.

Well, after weeks of wrangling, and certainly another blight on my leadership reputation with the squadron commander, my irrigation ditch argument won out with the more practical elements on the brigade staff…sort of. There’d be no concrete barriers, the commander reluctantly conceded, but we just had to "throw a bone" to the brigade commander’s Baghdad-based vision. The solution: I was ordered to surround the village after all, only with thousands of strands of menacing, ugly, triple strand concertina (barbed) wire. I wasn’t going to stop this one, and hardly bothered.

For days on end my weary troopers turned the village of Charcusa into what discomfiting resembled a concentration camp. Not that it worked, or mattered. The results produced amounted to little more than the few hundred cuts on my soldiers’ hands. Within a couple years my unit was gone, and so were our successors. Today, most of Kandahar is again contested by the Taliban, the rusting barbed wire naught but a monument to American obtusity. Still, it pleased both of my bosses, one off which told me I’d done a "great" job with the concertina wire mission, a macabre gold star of sorts for my own impending evaluation.

So today, on that wars rolls in an ongoing combination of stalemate and quagmire. Just this week, another American soldier was killed by a suicide car bomb. His death, ultimately, changes nothing as the Afghan War now has a preposterous inertia all its own. As for my colonel, he got the next promotion and his own brigade. His boss, the king of concrete himself, well he’s a rising star and a prominent general officer today. Now that President Trump has foolishly called off seemingly promising peace talks with the Taliban, maybe my old brigade commander will lead the next phase of an Afghan War with no end in sight. If he does, expect more of the same. He’ll have his troops and their Afghan mentees needlessly walling off more tiny villages in no time…

*  *  *

Series note: It has taken me years to tell these stories. The emotional and moral wounds of the Afghan War have just felt too recent, too raw. After all, I could hardly write a thing down about my Iraq War experience for nearly ten years, when, by accident, I churned out a book on the subject. Now, as the American war in Afghanistan – hopefully – winds to something approaching a close, it’s finally time to impart some tales of the madness. In this new, recurring, semi-regular series, the reader won’t find many worn out sagas of heroism, brotherhood, and love of country. Not that this author doesn’t have such stories, of course. But one can find those sorts of tales in countless books and numerous trite, platitudinal Hollywood yarns.

With that in mind, I propose to tell a number of very different sorts of stories – profiles, so to speak, in absurdity. That’s what war is, at root, an exercise in absurdity, and America’s hopeless post-9/11 wars are stranger than most. My own 18-year long quest to find some meaning in all the combat, to protect my troops from danger, push back against the madness, and dissent from within the army proved Kafkaesque in the extreme. Consider what follows just a survey of that hopeless journey...

*  *  *

Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com. His work has appeared in the LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Truthdig, Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/11/2019 - 23:25
Published:9/11/2019 10:36:18 PM
[] What's Behind Fusion GPS' New Fiction That the Russian Spy Had to be Extracted Because of Worries About Trump? From the Federalist, here's Mollie Hemingway's thoughts. Note there is video of this at the Federalist link. Click on that if you'd prefer the video. "There are two likely scenarios. One is inside the government: You had Obama's intel chiefs... Published:9/11/2019 11:30:55 AM
[Media] David Frum calls out Donald Trump for doing the exact same thing Barack Obama did on 9/11

Shot. . . David Frum called out Donald Trump for tweeting this photo of himself and Melania Trump at the Flight 93 memorial in Pennsylvania: On the anniversary of 3,000 lost lives, a photo of himself https://t.co/wxGoiXLDUJ — David Frum (@davidfrum) September 11, 2019 Chaser. . . Did Frum sleep through the past 8 years? […]

The post David Frum calls out Donald Trump for doing the exact same thing Barack Obama did on 9/11 appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/11/2019 10:33:04 AM
[In The News] Defensive: Kremlin Downplays Role Of Former Official Rumored To Be CIA Mole

By Chuck Ross -

The Kremlin’s top spokesman confirmed Tuesday that a man rumored in the Russian press to be a longtime CIA asset worked in the Russian government, but in a low-level position. Dmitry Peskov fielded inquiries about Oleg Smolenkov, who Russian media outlets identified as the possible government official who spied for ...

Defensive: Kremlin Downplays Role Of Former Official Rumored To Be CIA Mole is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:9/10/2019 9:59:51 PM
[Markets] Escobar: The Inside Story Of The First Iran Nuclear Deal Escobar: The Inside Story Of The First Iran Nuclear Deal

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Saker blog,

This is the last of a three-part series from a world exclusive interview with Lula, the former Brazilian president, who remains in jail.

Lula on fights with Hillary, talks with Ahmadinejad, Obama "good but nervous and too young"...

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate the signing of a nuclear fuel swap deal in Tehran in May 2010. Photo: AFP / Wilson Pedrosa / Agenciia Estado

As we advanced past the first hour of a historic interview – see here and here – at a Federal Police building in Curitiba, southern Brazil, where Lula has been incarcerated for over 500 days as part of the lawfare endgame in a complex coup, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was on a roll.

“Let me tell you about Iran.”

He felt relaxed enough to start telling stories of political negotiation at the highest level. He had already set the context. Nuggets abounded – especially focusing on the sometimes rocky relationship between Brasilia and Washington. Here are only three examples:

1) On the overall relationship with the US:

“People think that I’m angry at the Americans. On the contrary, we had a very healthy political relationship with the US, and that should be the case for Brazil. But to be subservient, never.

2) On dealing with George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton:

“Bush accepted ideas with more fluidity than Obama. Obama was much tougher with Brazil. I’m certain that Hillary Clinton does not like Latin America, and she didn’t like Brazil. I had two big fights with her, one in a meeting in Trinidad-Tobago and another in Copenhagen [at the climate conference COP-15]. She arrived late, bossing everyone around. I said, ‘Lady, hang on. Wait for your turn. I’ve been here for three days.’ The petulance and arrogance of the Americans disturbs me, even if I think that the United States is always an important nation, and we should always maintain a good relationship.”

"Our main political gesture was Dilma [Rousseff, then the Brazilian president] traveling to the US, but Obama, it seems to me, had very little influence."

“It was fantastic, Obama’s capacity to deliver beautiful speeches, but the next day nothing happened, nothing, nothing. I think the United States was too big for Obama, he was too young, too inexperienced."

"And you know that the US State Department is very powerful…. I think Obama was a good man. When I went to visit him the first time … I left with a lingering doubt: there was no one remotely similar to him in the meeting. I said to myself, ‘This guy has no one matching him here.’ And in our conversation, I said, ‘Obama, you may be the President of the United States who has the greatest possibility to effect change in this country. Because you only need to have the audacity that black people had to vote for you. The people have already granted you the audacity. Make the best of it.

But then, nothing much happened.”

3) On hybrid war:

“We tried to organize intelligence in the Air Force, the Navy, along with Federal Police intel, but among them there were some pretty serious fights. Whoever has intel has power, so no one wants to relay information to the competitor….  I imagined that after it was clear [from Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency surveillance] that … the United States was investigating Brazil ... I imagined we would have a tougher position, maybe talking to the Russians and the Chinese, to create another system of protection. "

And that would set the scene for the inside story of the first Iran nuclear deal, clinched in Tehran in 2010 by Iran, Brazil and Turkey, and centered on a nuclear fuel swap, years before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached in Vienna in 2015 by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany.

History will register that as Donald Trump smashed the JCPOA, Hillary Clinton scotched the original deal less than 24 hours after it was clinched, calling instead for a new round of sanctions against Iran at the UN Security Council.

This is how I reported it for Asia Times. Lula, in early 2010, had already told Hillary in person it was not “prudent to push Iran against the wall.”

So what really happened in Tehran?

Meeting Khamenei, Ahmadinejad

“I was in New York. And [then Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad didn’t like me. He showed respect, but his preferential relationship here in the continent was with [Bolivian President] Evo Morales and my friend [Venezuela’s Hugo] Chavez… Then one day in New York, I decided to talk to Ahmadinejad, because he had said it was a lie that six million Jews had died. And then I said, ‘Look, Ahmadinejad, I came here because I wanted to know if it’s true that you said that the Jews want to be heroes because they died in the war. I wanna tell you something: The Jews did not die in the war. The Jews were victims of a genocide. They were not soldiers fighting. They were free men, women and children who were taken to concentration camps and killed, that’s different.’

“He said, ‘I know,’ and I said, ‘If you know, tell it to everyone, it’s not possible to deny that six million people were killed.’ … Well, during this conversation I said, ‘I’d like to go to Tehran to talk to you about the nuclear bomb. What do I want from you? I want you to have the same right that Brazil has. Brazil enriches uranium for scientific and peaceful purposes. I want you to do enrichment the same way as Brazil. But if there’s an atomic bomb, I’m against it.’

Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in Tehran on February 2019. Photo: AFP / Anadolu / Religious Leader’s Press Office

“Then I sent [Foreign Minister] Celso Amorim ahead, a few times. We cultivated a relationship with Turkey. It was something very funny. I met the great Ayatollah Khamenei, I had a meeting with him, I think he fell in love with me because I told him my life story. When I told him that I ate bread for the first time when I was seven years old, I thought, ‘I think I won this guy.’ He lavished extraordinary attention on us. We talked for over two hours. Then I left Khamenei and went to talk to the president of their congress; he looked like a czar. Then I went to dinner with Ahmadinejad, while Celso Amorim was negotiating with their prime minister.

“Ahmadinejad was not getting to the point, and I said, ‘Let me tell you something.’ And we had two interpreters: one who translated him into English, and Celso, who translated from English to me. I said, ‘You know that I’m here being bashed by the Americans. Hillary Clinton called the Emir of Qatar to tell me that I could not come, to tell me that I would be fooled. When I arrived in Moscow, [then-president Dmitri Medvedev said, ‘Hillary called, asking me to tell you not to go [because] the Iranians are liars.’ There was even a media joke: They were asking about the chance of a deal. Medvedev said ‘10%,’ and I said ‘99% – we are going there and we are going to do it.’

Obama nervous

“Then I arrived, I was sitting down with Ahmadinejad, and I said, ‘Hey, little guy [laughs], you know that I’m here, I’m losing my friends. Obama is nervous with me – Obama was the most nervous among them all, Angela Merkel does not want me to be here. The only one more or less favorable was [then-French president Nicholas] Sarkozy, and I came here because I think Iran is a very important country, not only from the point of view of your population but from the point of view of your culture. And I want Iran not to suffer the consequences of an embargo because an embargo is worse than war. In war, you kill soldiers. With an embargo you kill children, you kill people with serious illnesses.’

“It was already 10pm at night and I said, ‘I’m not leaving here without a deal.’ Up to this moment, there was no chance of a deal. Around midnight I was discussing things with my aides at the hotel. I was even imagining the headlines in Brazil, against my trip. Then Celso arrived at one in the morning and said, ‘There’ll be a deal.’

“Then we went there the next day, lots of talking, there was this guy who was an aide to Ahmadinejad and was always whispering in his ear, and Ahmadinejad demanded to change a word. So I told him, ‘Damn, get this guy outta here. Every time he comes here you change your mind.’ Then he said, ‘Lula, can we make a deal without signing it?’ And I said, ‘Nah…. Do you know what Sarkozy thinks about you? Do you know what Obama thinks about you? Do you know what Angela Merkel thinks about you? They all think Iranians are liars. So, in Brazil, we’ve got a thing called ‘black on white’. You gotta sign.’ So he agreed. We signed, Brazil, him [Iran] and Turkey.

Lula and US President Barack Obama, on left, meet with other leaders in Copenhagen in December 2009 at the COP15 Climate Conference. Photo: AFP

No talk, no deal

“I imagined I would be invited to the White House, or to Berlin by Angela Merkel…. So imagine my surprise when they were so nervous. You know that kid that goes to school, gets an ‘A,’ tells his mother and the mother thinks it’s a bad thing? I think they were pissed because Brazil could not possibly have achieved what they did not. They started to diss us, so what did I do? I took a letter that comrade Obama had sent, saying what would be good for the United States. And the Reuters news agency released Obama’s letter. And the letter was the same thing as the deal we clinched.

“It happened that Mrs. Hillary didn’t know about Obama’s letter…. Later, I was at a G-20 meeting, I approached Angela Merkel and said, ‘Have you talked to Ahmadinejad?’ I talked to Sarzoky, said, ‘Have you talked to Ahmadinejad?’ No. Approached Obama, said, ‘Have you talked to Ahmadinejad?’ ‘No.’ ‘Damn, how come you want a deal, but you don’t talk? You subcontract the negotiation? Then I understood that the world in the past had had leadership much, much more competent, left and right, people who knew how to discuss foreign policy.”

After hearing this story I asked Lula – the ultimate instinctive politician – if he felt Obama had stabbed him in the back: “No,” he replied. “I think, have you ever received a gift you didn’t know how to put it together?”

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 22:25
Tags
Published:9/10/2019 9:38:29 PM
[Markets] Michael Flynn Exonerated By Bombshell DoJ Memo Exposed During Hearing Michael Flynn Exonerated By Bombshell DoJ Memo Exposed During Hearing

Authored by Sara Carter via SaraACarter.com,

A bombshell revelation was barely noticed at National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s hearing Tuesday, when his counsel revealed in court the existence of a Justice Department memo from Jan. 30, 2017 exonerating Flynn of any collusion with Russia.

The memo, which has still not been made available to Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell, is part of a litany of Brady material she is demanding from prosecutors. The memo is currently under protective order and Powell is working with prosecutors to get it disclosed, SaraACarter.com has learned.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan presided over the hearing Tuesday  and set a tentative Dec. 18 sentencing date. He told the prosecution and defense that the sentencing date could be moved depending on the outcome of requests for Brady material requested by Powell and how the case will unfold in the upcoming months. Sullivan also noted during the hearing that the Brady order takes precedence over the plea agreement.

Powell will likely seek to have case dismissed for ‘egregious’ prosecutorial misconduct and withholding of exculpatory material.

“Judge Sullivan is obviously taking the Brady issues very seriously and clearly told the prosecutors that his Brady order stands regardless of the plea agreement or the plea,” Powell told SaraACarter.com.

“If the prosecutors here were seeking justice instead of a conviction, General Flynn would not have been prosecuted. They have been hiding evidence that he was exonerated in early 2017.”

Government Misconduct

Powell noted the extraordinary misconduct of the government during the hearing. She also said that Flynn would have never pleaded guilty if the government had disclosed the Brady materials before the original trial that she is now demanding. There would not have been a plea if the prosecutors had met their Brady obligations, Powell argued before the court.

Powell’s discovery of the memo shatters not only the narrative that was pushed by former Obama Administration officials regarding Flynn but also the ongoing narrative that President Donald Trump’s concern over Flynn’s prosecution amounted to alleged obstruction.

The January, 2017 timeline of the DOJ memo is extremely significant. Former FBI Director James Comey said in previous interviews that he leaked his memos through a friend to be published in the New York Times with the hope of getting a special counsel appointed to investigate Trump for obstruction. In late August, Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his much anticipated report on Comey. It was scathing and revealed that he violated FBI policy when he leaked his memos that described his private conversations with  Trump. However, the DOJ declined to prosecute Comey on Horowitz’s referral.

But the existence of such a memo calls into question Comey’s actions both when he met with Trump privately and when he wrote his personal memos recanting the meetings. If the Jan. 30, 2017 DOJ Flynn memo does exonerate Flynn, then it will call into question Comey’s actions when he had the private meetings with Trump. Why didn’t Comey reveal to Trump that DOJ found no evidence that Flynn was an ‘agent of Russia’ when he met Trump at the White House on Feb. 14 meeting?  Why were the stories about Flynn, along with classified information regarding his phone conversations with the former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, leaked to the Washington Post in January, with a followup in  early February? Remember, the information was leaked by senior government officials, according to the author and columnist David Ignatius. Ignatius said that senior officials accused Flynn of violating the Logan Act, even worse conspiring with Russia.

Further, new information that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe advised that there was no Logan Act violation, along with the DOJ internal memo of Jan. 30 that Flynn ‘was not an agent of Russia,’ was enough information for Comey to advise the President that Flynn had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Instead, Comey claimed obstruction of justice by the President.

Comey’s Memos Vs DOJ Jan. 2017 Flynn Memo 

Comey said in one of his most significant memos chronicling his Feb. 14, 2017 meeting at the Oval Office with Trump, which was the day after Trump had fired Flynn, that Trump asked everyone but Comey to leave the room, and told him he wanted to “talk about Mike Flynn.” Flynn was fired at the time over controversy that arose from a classified information leaked to the Washington Post regarding his conversations by phone in December, 2016 with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The story stated that Flynn had discussed the sanctions with Kislyak. However, Comey later admitted that the FBI agents he sent to interview Flynn didn’t believe he was lying about his conversation with the former ambassador.

According to Comey’s memo Trump said:

 “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Comey suggested that Trump’s request was inappropriate, accusing him of obstructing justice by asking him to drop Flynn’s case. He used this as a pretense to leak his memos and put the nation through more than two years of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel, which in the end found no evidence of a conspiracy with Russia. As for obstruction, Attorney General William Barr and then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that there was no obstruction based on the evidence gathered by Mueller’s team.

However, if Comey would have advised Trump of the Jan. 30 memo it would have cleared up any unfounded lies that Flynn had in any way colluded or conspired with Russia.

If and when this memo is made public, the ongoing narrative continuing to be pushed by those former Obama officials, as well as, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who continues to push for hearings on obstruction will be squashed.

It looks like Comey, who would have been fully aware of this memo, has a lot of explaining to do.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 21:05
Tags
Published:9/10/2019 8:30:21 PM
[] CNN's Story Claiming the CIA Had to Extract a Top-Level Russian Spy Because They Feared Trump Would Tell Putin About Him Debunked by the Historical Record and... The New York Times? CNN's Fusionphilic former Obama official Jim Sciutto published some more #FakeNews -- that the US had "extracted" a Russian spy in 2017 because the CIA feared that Trump would tell Putin about him. But Chuck Ross notes that lovebirds Strzok... Published:9/10/2019 6:01:58 PM
[Markets] Thanks To Tech Totalitarians, US Already Has A China-Style "Social Credit System" Thanks To Tech Totalitarians, US Already Has A China-Style "Social Credit System"

Authored by James Kirkpatrick via VDare.com,

While protesters in Hong Kong fly American flags and rip down security cameras, an even more insidious Chinese-style “social credit” system is solidifying in the United States [Hong Kong Protesters Wave U.S. Flags, Urge Trump to Take Actionby Owen Franks, Bloomberg, August 31, 2019]. The Trump Administration is considering an alliance with Big Tech to determine who is allowed to own guns [Power Up: White House ponders new proposal to identify links between mental health and violenceby Jacqueline Alemany, Washington Post, August 22, 2019]. The Main Stream Media wields more power than the state itself, blithely doxing private citizens it wants to destroy because of their political views. Finally, the mysterious purge (and equally mysterious re-establishment) of some Dissident Right YouTube accounts shows that political debate is being managed from the top-down. Every American can have his job, constitutional rights, and reputation destroyed by a power structure that is completely unaccountable–and it’s being imposed on us in the name of “freedom.”

Sadly, President Donald Trump seems oblivious to this attack. He’s failed to defend those who defended him. He instead filled his administration with enemies eager to smear him in tell-all books [John Kelly told Trump his memoir would wait unless attackedby Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, September 4, 2019].

He’s now taking this self-defeating principle outside his administration. Though Google and other Big Tech companies will do everything they can to prevent his re-election, President Trump is mulling partnering with them to gather data on “risk factors” in order to prevent mass shootings. This reportedly includes using data from “Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo, and Google Home” [White House considers new project seeking links between mental health and violent behaviorby Jacqueline Alemany, Washington Post, August 22, 2019].

Only the most naïve can believe that private data or recorded conversations won’t be weaponized against patriots. After all, an email, Facebook comment, or old tweet can already get you fired from your job–even a government job. Leif Olson’s rehiring may not have been a true victory against “cancel culture," but we shouldn’t lose sight of the casual cruelty that motivated the attack in the first place. Hurting people, rather than informing people, seems to be the only motivation of MSM journofa.

We’ll never know the story behind Jeffrey Epstein or what motivated the mass shooter in Las Vegas (remember that?). But journofa won’t rest until they’ve doxed every Gamestop employee and pizza deliveryman who went to Charlottesville!

Another example: “dozens” of Customs and Border Protection officers may lose employment or suffer lesser penalties after their comments in a private Facebook group were leaked [Customs and Border Protection moving to fire and discipline dozens of agents for Facebook postsby Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, September 5, 2019]. An unnamed “senior CBP official” proclaims that this isn’t enough because they need to “change the culture” of the service.

But meanwhile, a recent video shows dozens of illegals casually walking around an incomplete border fence—just the latest example of the total collapse of border security [Video shows dozens of families walk illegally around border fence and into the United Statesby Simon Veazy, Epoch Times, September 2, 2019].

There has also been yet another attack against an immigration law enforcement facility, this time with a woman allegedly throwing a lit Molotov cocktail [Molotov cocktail toss in Florida is latest attack against DHS facility: reportby Danielle Wallace, Fox News, August 31, 2019].

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect example of anarcho-tyranny than a government incapable of protecting its own border or facilities but eager to punish those expected to accomplish an impossible mission.

Of course, there’s a rationale why speech must now be policed—to stop “radicalization.” The YouTube purge did not come out of nowhere. The MSM has been relentlessly campaigning against YouTube supposedly “radicalizing” people [YouTube recommendation algorithm audit uncovers paths to radicalizationby Khari Johnson, VentureBeat, August 28, 2019].

But what journofa really mean by “radicalized” is “voting in a way we don’t like.” This explains the strange American focus on Brazil and President Jair Bolsonaro [How YouTube Contributed to Radicalization in Brazilby Nancy LeTourneau, Washington Monthly, August 14, 2019].

The implicit premise, gradually becoming more explicitly voiced by journofa and tech oligarchs, is that only certain people should be permitted to speak. This is also why so many journalists responded like someone had committed lèse-majesté when President Trump’s allies began scrutinizing their social media accounts. They truly believe they should be beyond criticism and should oversee what we say, write, and hear.

What’s particularly terrible about this situation is how arbitrary and random it is. “Radicalization” is in the eye of the beholder. To an Obama voter in 2004, something like “Drag Queen Story Hour” would be a ridiculous fever dream from the Christian Coalition. Today, opposing it will get you labeled a bigot [Crowds rally for Drag Queen Story Hour: ‘It just shows how far we’ve come,’ by Marcella Corona, Reno Gazette-Journal, July 20, 2019]. If you oppose it too energetically, it might spark a hit piece and that’s your job.

Words and symbols can also be labeled “hateful” retroactively. A month ago, “kritarchy” was an objective term that referred to “rule by judges.” Today, it’s an anti-Semitic slur because journalists simply declared it so.

In Utah, an interracial couple who brought a Betsy Ross flag to a soccer game was threatened with ejection. The stadium management said the flag was a symbol of “hatred, divisiveness and/or intolerance, whether intentional or otherwise” [Controversy erupts over Betsy Ross flag at RSL soccer gameby Lauren Steinbrecher, Fox 13, August 29, 2019]. Yet nobody thought this until Colin Kaepernick declared it so because of its “connection to an era of slavery”–which, of course, could be said about anything related to the Founding.

The System’s arbitrary nature makes it even more dangerous. Already, websites have been stripped of payment processors or access to PayPal (VDARE among them) after attacks by journalists and “nonprofits” like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. The loss of a YouTube account can mean the end of a creator’s career. Some individuals have been banned from Airbnb or Uber or have lost their personal PayPal accounts, not because of any violation of terms of service, but because of an unknown ideological test. This is the equivalent of the gas company cutting off any California residents who voted for Proposition 187.

Don’t laugh—it’s coming.

You just don’t know what will be decreed offensive–or for that matter, beyond criticism–a year from now. You don’t know if your YouTube account will be banned or not because the terms of service are meaningless. If you lose your PayPal, your bank account, your web domain, or some other necessity, there’s no appeal and there’s no objective standard.

The cuckservative cop-out “Build your own platform” has turned into “build your own web hosting,” “build your own servers,” and “build your own banking system.”

Will this end with “build your own country”?

The obvious implication: if dangerous individuals must be depersoned and “radicalizing” videos banned, ordinary people cannot be trusted with political power either. They shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they’re too easily manipulated. It would be more honest to simply let the corporate heads of Facebook, Google, and Twitter pick the next president (with the heads of the SPLC and the ADL given power to veto).

Yet that would make what’s happening too obvious. The ritual of voting gives the System the veneer of legitimacy–even though, as Ann Coulter points out, what we vote for bears no resemblance to the policies we actually get.

“Authoritarian” political systems have one key virtue compared the American system: They don’t disguise who has control. We know that Vladimir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China are, if not fully sovereign, at least operating at the nexus of political power.

In contrast, President Trump does not seem to run his own administration, let alone the country. Instead, the power to shape opinion, to make and end careers, and to command who is and isn’t accountable to the law lies in the hands of tech oligarchs, far-left journalists, and wealthy “nonprofits.” It is effective precisely because it eschews the symbols of power for the reality. Its tyranny is even more insidious for that reason.

I’m tired of hearing warnings about Silicon Valley’s upcoming Social Credit system. [Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system, by Mike Elgan, FastCompany, August 26, 2019] I’m already living under it.

It’s almost enough to make one wish for a Politburo. At least the people in Hong Kong know what to tear down.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 18:25
Published:9/10/2019 5:36:05 PM
[] UC Irvine Professor: We're Nearing the End of Democracy, Because The Rabble Won't Permit Their Thoughts to Be Controlled by a Smug and Non-Elite Elite Anymore Oh no that's terrible. John Sexton quotes from Politco to explain the thesis-- it's the standard Democrat/Socialist/Obama cant that the public can't understand how awesome and smart we are because they're too dumb. Rosenberg, who earned degrees at Yale, Oxford... Published:9/10/2019 3:55:59 PM
[Markets] Fed Chair Powell Insists There Won't Be A Recession When All The Evidence Suggests Otherwise Fed Chair Powell Insists There Won't Be A Recession When All The Evidence Suggests Otherwise

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

It’s happening again.  Just like last time around, the head of the Federal Reserve is telling us that there won’t be a recession even though all of the evidence suggests otherwise. 

Just before the recession of 2008, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke told the country that “the Federal Reserve is not currently forecasting a recession”, and shortly thereafter we plunged into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  This time, it is Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that is attempting to prop things up by making positive statements that are not backed up by reality.  Speaking to a group at the University of Zurich, Powell insisted that the Fed is “not at all” anticipating that there will be a recession…

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Friday that he doesn’t “at all” expect the U.S. to enter a recession, though he hinted the central bank will likely cut interest rates as expected this month.

“Our main expectation is not at all that there will be a recession,” Powell said in a panel discussion at the University of Zurich.

Meanwhile, things are literally falling apart all around us.  Just a few days ago, I put together a list of 28 data points that clearly indicate that a recession is imminent, and since then we have gotten even more bad news.

For instance, we just learned that Fred’s will be filing for bankruptcy and closing more than 500 stores

Discount merchandise retailer and pharmacy chain Fred’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday with plans to close all of its stores.

The company plans to liquidate its assets, punctuating a swift collapse of its operations that involved a cascading series of store closures in recent months.

At this point, U.S. retailers have announced the closing of more than 8,200 stores in 2019, and we are going to break the old record for store closings in a single year by so much that the term “retail apocalypse” just doesn’t seem sufficient to describe the scale of what we are witnessing any longer.

Many are blaming “the Internet” for this colossal wave of store closings, but is “the Internet” also responsible for the transportation recession that has already started?

According to Zero Hedge, on a year over year basis heavy-duty truck orders were down 69 percent in June and 80 percent in July…

According to ACT Research, heavy-duty truck orders from the four largest truck makers in North America (Daimler Trucks North America, Paccar, Volvo Trucks USA, and Navistar International) collapsed 80% in July YoY. Orders in June plunged 69% from a year earlier.

As heavy-duty truck orders collapse, suppliers, such as ones who produce transmissions have predicted that the outlook for sales this year will be horrible.

And as global trade continues to plummet, one of the biggest shipping companies in the entire world has “temporarily suspended” one of their main routes…

Growth in the world continues to collapse into late summer, so much so that Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) had to “temporarily suspend” their AE2/Swan Asia to North Europe loop until mid-November, removing 20,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) a week from trade, reported The Loadstar.

None of this would be happening if economic conditions were good.

So let’s stop with the nonsense.  Fed Chair Jerome Powell can deny reality all that he wants, but that isn’t going to change anything.

There are some people out there that are still finding solace in the fact that the official unemployment number in the U.S. is still so low.  At just “3.7 percent”, it is the lowest that it has supposedly been in decades, but most people don’t realize that it has also been highly manipulated.  It doesn’t include tens of millions of people that are working part-time for economic reasons, that are working temporary jobs or that are part of “the missing labor force”.

John Williams of shadowstats.com compares the official employment numbers to what they would look like if honest numbers were being used, and his figures tell an entirely different story.

According to Williams, the “real” rate of unemployment in the U.S. was hovering around 12 or 13 percent prior to the last recession, and then it shot up above 20 percent and has stayed there ever since.  In fact, the alternate unemployment rate on shadowstats.com is currently sitting at 21.2 percent.

So that would suggest that we have never even come close to recovering from the last recession.

But of course “3.7 percent” sounds so much better than “21.2 percent”, and millions of Americans have completely bought into the false narrative that unemployment has been steadily falling since the early days of the Obama administration.

Unfortunately, we live at a time when a lot of people don’t want to hear the truth, and “reality” is defined by whoever has the biggest spin machine.  Americans are more deeply divided than ever, and there is very little agreement on the direction that our country should go.  Meanwhile, economic conditions are deteriorating a little bit more with each passing day and it has become exceedingly clear that a new crisis is upon us.  And this new crisis has arrived at a time when our debt bubble is larger than it has ever been before.  In fact, one expert has calculated that our total debt burden is now “running close to 2,000% of GDP”

Total potential debt for the U.S. by one all-encompassing measure is running close to 2,000% of GDP, according to an analysis that suggests danger but also cautions against reading too much into the level.

AB Bernstein came up with the calculation — 1,832%, to be exact — by including not only traditional levels of public debt like bonds but also financial debt and all its complexities as well as future obligations for so-called entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and public pensions.

There is no way that this is going to end well.

The two major political parties will continue to relentlessly fight with one another, and it will mostly be about really silly stuff.  But as they fight, our nation is literally steamrolling into oblivion, and there appears to be very little hope of avoiding our fate at this point.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:25
Published:9/10/2019 3:31:42 PM
[The Blog] WaPo, NYT: Contra CNN, Trump was not the reason CIA exfiltrated asset from Russia; Update: Irresponsible media reporting continues

But was Obama?

The post WaPo, NYT: Contra CNN, Trump was not the reason CIA exfiltrated asset from Russia; Update: Irresponsible media reporting continues appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/10/2019 10:26:23 AM
[Markets] 22 Surveys Which Prove That Americans Never Want To Go Back To The Way America Used To Be 22 Surveys Which Prove That Americans Never Want To Go Back To The Way America Used To Be

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

For a long time a great battle has been fought to determine the future direction of this country, and at this point one thing has become exceedingly clear.  America is never going to be the country that it once was.  Of course for millions of Americans this is actually very welcome news, but for those of us that have been working so hard for so long to restore the values that this nation was founded upon, it is incredibly sad to finally come to this realization.  In order for America to return to her glory days, our nation would need to embrace the values that once made our nation so great, and the truth is that the American people have resoundingly rejected those values.  This is especially true for our young people, and it won’t be too long before they are running everything.  The other side has control of our education system, of our major media outlets, of our entertainment industry and of our legal system.  They are literally systematically training future generations what to think, and that has proven to be an insurmountable advantage.  The “culture war” has been over for a long time, and they won.  But that doesn’t mean that the broader conflict is over.

A lot of people reading this article will be tempted to think that this is a Republican/Democrat thing, but that is not true at all.  In fact, the truth is that many lawmakers that are considered to be “conservatives” today would be considered to be flaming liberals by our founders.  Ultimately, nearly all of our political leaders have fundamentally rejected the values that so many previous generations of Americans fought so hard to defend.  The United States has been overthrown, but it wasn’t by a foreign power.  We have been conquered from within, and it was a very slow process, but now their victory is almost entirely complete.

If you doubt this, I would like for you to take a few moments to consider the following numbers.  The following are 22 surveys which prove that Americans never want to go back to the way America used to be…

#1 According to an American Bar Association survey, only 38 percent of all Americans know that the U.S. Constitution is the highest law in the land.

#2 According to a new survey that was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 76 percent of Americans support “red flag” gun laws.

#3 A recent Rasmussen survey discovered that 28 percent of all Democrats actually believe that it should be “illegal” to be a member of the NRA.

#4 A survey that was just conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of Americans trust law enforcement authorities to use facial recognition technology “responsibly” even though it horribly violates our privacy rights.

#5 70 percent of Americans support “Medicare for all” – a national socialized single-payer healthcare system.

#6 46 percent of Americans have taken at least one pharmaceutical drug within the last 30 days.

#7 59 percent of Americans support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to raise the top tax rate to 70 percent.

#8 When asked to name the greatest president in their lifetimes, more Americans named “Barack Obama” than anyone else by a wide margin.

#9 58 percent of American adults under the age of 35 agree that some version of socialism “would be good for the country”.

#10 One survey discovered that one-third of all American teenagers haven’t read a single book in the past year.

#11 Almost one-third of all U.S. Millennials are still living with their parents.

#12 One very alarming survey found that the average American spends 86 hours a month on a cellphone.

#13 49 percent of Americans say that not having wifi would ruin their vacation.

#14 34 percent of pet-owning adults in the United States say that their pet is their “favorite child”.

#15 According to a Quinnipiac University poll from last year, 63 percent of all Americans want to keep Roe v. Wade in place.

#16 According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of Americans now support gay marriage and only 31 percent of Americans are against it.

#17 45 percent of U.S. college students believe that the phrase “In God We Trust” should be removed from our currency.

#18 Over the last three decades, the number of Americans with “no religion” has increased by 266 percent.

#19 During the 2016 election, more than 40 percent of Americans did not know who was running for vice-president from either of the major parties.

#20 Only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government.

#21 One very shocking survey found that 74 percent of Americans don’t even know how many amendments are in the Bill of Rights.

#22 According to a survey that was conducted last year, Americans from the age of 18 to the age of 29 favor Democrats over Republicans by a 66 percent to 32 percent margin.

Once again, this is not a Republican/Democrat thing.  Ultimately, both major political parties seem determined to take us down the tubes.  One may want to do it at a faster pace than the other, but the destination is still the same.

I know that some will dismiss me as an out of touch pessimist, but I did not come to these conclusions lightly.  In fact, not too long ago I spent an entire year talking to voters and trying to do what I could to point the country in the right direction, but I discovered that only a very small remnant actually wants to go in the right direction.

If George Washington, John Adams and the rest of the boys were around today, they would all be considered “dangerous extremists” and none of them would have a prayer of actually getting elected to public office.

I am certainly not giving up, and you shouldn’t either.  In fact, my wife and I believe that the most exciting chapters of our lives are right around the corner.

But for the nation as a whole, our choices are going to have very severe consequences.  The past few years represented yet another opportunity to amend our ways, but instead the American people have been running in the opposite direction as rapidly as they can.

Our country will be greatly rattled in the years ahead, and that process will wake many from their slumber.  Let us use that time to win one heart at a time, and let us be thankful that we were born into such a critical time in history.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 08:50
Published:9/10/2019 7:54:22 AM
[Markets]  Iran Will Be A Full Nuclear Power By End Of 2020: Report  Iran Will Be A Full Nuclear Power By End Of 2020: Report

Authored by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media

French President Emmanuel Macron failed to promote successfully his Iranian initiative with the US administration despite the initial blessing of his US counterpart. This failure led Iran to make a third gradual withdrawal from its JCPOA nuclear deal commitment, raising two main issues.

Iran has become a regional power to be reckoned with, so we can now scrap from reactions to its policies the words “submit,” or “bow to the international community”. Moreover, since Europe is apparently no longer in a position to fulfill its commitments, Iran will now be headed towards a total pull-out following further gradual withdrawal steps. Just before the US elections due in November 2020, Iran is expected to become a nuclear country with the full capability of producing uranium enriched to more than 20% uranium-235, weapons-usable and therefore in a position to manufacture dozens of nuclear bombs (for which uranium must be enriched to about 90%). However, this does not necessarily mean that this is Iran’s ultimate objective.

Screenshot of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inspecting and touring a facility. 

Industry data shows that half of the effort goes into enriching from 0.7% to 4%. If Iran reaches the level of 20%, the journey towards 90% is almost done. A few thousand centrifuges are needed to reach 20% enrichment while a few hundred are enough to cross from 20% to the 90% needed for a nuclear bomb.

When Iran announces it is reaching a level which is considered critical by the west, there is the possibility that Israel might act militarily against Iran’s capability as it did in Iraq in 1981, in Syria in 2009, and in assassinating nuclear scientists. If this happens, the Middle East will be exposed to a mega earthquake whose outcome is unpredictable. But if Israel and the US are not in a position to react against Iran’s total withdrawal from the JCPOA (nuclear deal), Iran will no longer accept a return to the 2015 deal. Its position will become much stronger and any deal would be difficult to reach.

Sources within the decision-making circle have said “Iran will become a state with full nuclear capability. It is also aiming for self-sufficiency and is planning to move away from counting solely on its oil exports for its annual budget. It is starting to generate and manufacture in many sectors and it will certainly increase its missile development and production. Missile technology has proved to be the most efficient and cheapest deterrent weapon for Iran and its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and the Yemen.”

Iran has been following a “strategy of patience” since US President Donald Trump unlawfully revoked the nuclear deal. Tehran allowed Europe, for an entire year, to think about a way to tempt Iran to stay within the nuclear deal on the basis of 4 (France, Russia, China, UK) + 1 (Germany), excluding the US. After that long waiting period, Iran has taken the initiative into its own hands and is gradually pulling out of the deal. It seems Trump did not learn from President Obama who signed the deal, convinced that US sanctions would be ineffective.

But Iran is not missing an opportunity worth trying to make its case. At the G7 in France, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif cut short his visit to Beijing to meet European leaders and ministers at the request of President Macron. It was hinted that there were chances for Iran to sell its oil and that Macron had managed to break through the US-Iran tension.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani thought there was a real opportunity to smooth over tensions and that Trump, according to the source in Tehran, was ready to ease the sanctions in exchange for a meeting and the beginning of discussion. This is why Rouhani overtly stated his readiness to meet any person if that helped. But Zarif was surprised to learn that Macron didn’t fulfil his promises - because Trump had changed his mind. The initiative was stillborn and all are back at square one.

Macron understood that the problem doesn’t lie with the US President but in his consigliere Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his neocon team of Pompeo-Bolton. The meeting between the French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly and the Pentagon Chief Mark Esper was an attempt to convince the US Secretary of Defence to distance himself from the Pompeo-Bolton team before the situation gets out of control and Iran became unstoppable. 

Trump rejected the French idea to offer Iran a line of credit of 15 billions of Euros (not Dollars). This credit is part of Iran’s acquired right since it has agreed with Europe to sell 700,000 barrels of oil daily as part of a signed deal. Following the US sanctions on any country or company buying Iranian oil, Europe refrained from honouring the agreement. Vice Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi calculated the amount at stake of 15 billion euros with European representatives. The agreement was that Iran would sell oil to Europe for this amount in the future, and that Iran could buy any product, not limited to food and medicine which were originally excluded from the US sanctions. Iran, according to the deal with European partners, would have had the right to take the money in cash and transfer it to any other country, including Iran”, said the source.

All this has been thrown to the winds. The result is simple: Iran will continue its nuclear program but will allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor development. It is relying on the nuclear deal articles 26 and 36 to partially withdraw, a deal that was not signed based on trust, but on respect for law. This is the reason why Iran announced its third withdrawal step, increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium and replacing its IR-1 and IR-2m with IR-6 centrifuges (supposed to happen in 2026, as stated in paragraph 39).

Europe has used all its resources to persuade Iran from taking withdrawal steps, but to no avail. Iran has moved from a “patience strategy” to an “aggressive strategy” and will no longer accept a soft approach. It has undergone sanctions since 1979 and though it has learned to live with them, its patience is exhausted.

The US has nothing to offer to Iran but further sanctions and additional pressure on Europe, so the old continent follows its withdrawal path. The US administration planned to form various coalitions, including an Arab NATO, but failed so far to pull off any such alliance. US officials believed the Iranian regime would fall in months and that the population would turn against their leaders. Nothing of the sort happened. On the contrary: Trump and his neocons brought Iranian pragmatists and hardliners together for the same cause. The US destroyed the possibility of any moderate argument with people like Rouhani and Zarif, and showed that it was too untrustworthy for any reliable deal or agreement.

Iran FM Javad Zarif with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the recent G7 summit, via mfa.ir

Iran is feeling stronger: it has downed a US drone, sabotaged several tankers and confiscated a British-flagged tanker despite the presence of the Royal Navy nearby. It has shown its readiness for war without pushing for it. Iran knows its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine will be united as one in the case of war. The Iranian officials did not use revolutionary or sectarian slogans to face down US sanctions but instead managed to create national solidarity behind its firm policy of confrontation with the US. Washington, largely responsible for the status quo in the Gulf, failed to weaken Iran’s resolve and has so far been unsuccessful in undermining the Iranian economy. It is putting about the idea that its “suffocation policy” has been successful, but Iran is not giving the submission signals the US administration wants and needs, to justify the tension it has created in the Middle East and the Gulf.

Iran is handling its policy towards the US and Europe in the same way Iranians weave carpets. It takes several years to finish an artisanal carpet and many more years to sell it. The nuclear deal needed several years of preparation but even more time for establishing acceptance and the bona fides of the signatories. Trump’s simple-minded decision destroyed all that work. The US and Europe have lost the initiative. Europe is not politically in any position to stand against the US sanctions, nor does it have sufficient tools or standing to offer Iran and thus force it to the negotiating table. 

Iran is becoming stronger and much more difficult to tame than in the past. It is imposing itself as a regional power and a challenge to the west. It has advanced nuclear technology and capabilities, a self-sufficient armament program and it is strengthening its allies in the Middle East.

It is difficult to foresee any negotiation between Iran and the West before November 2020, the date of the US elections. Iran is no longer willing to accept in 2019 what it signed in 2015; Trump is responsible for the new scenario. Destroying the nuclear deal now redounds to the benefit of Iran. There will be a time when the US administration, due to the realization of its ignorance in Iranian affairs, will feel regret, and will ask to return to the negotiating table - perhaps after Trump? But conditions will definitely no longer be the same and it may very well come too late to see Iran accepting what it signed for in 2015.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 08:11
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Published:9/10/2019 7:23:59 AM
[Markets] Sarah Palin's Husband Files For Divorce Sarah Palin's Husband Files For Divorce

After 31 years of marriage, Todd Palin - the husband of former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, has filed for divorce.

In the April 29th filing eight days after their most recent anniversary, Todd cited "incompatibility of temperament" and that the couple "find it impossible to live together as husband and wife" in his request to dissolve their marriage in Anchorage Superior Court. 

The filing, first reported by the Anchorage Daily News, only uses initials but details the couple’s marriage date and the birth date of their 11-year-old son, Trig, and asks for an equal separation of assets and debts.

The two have been married since 1988 and have five children: Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow and Piper. Todd Palin's filing asks for shared custody of Trig, who has Down Syndrome. -NBC News

The Palins, both 55-years-old, have been together through Sarah's rise to governor of Alaska in 2006, her resignation in 2009 (before the end of her four-year term), and her brief tenure as John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential election - losing to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. According to the New York Times, McCain regretted picking Palin vs. Joe Lieberman. 

McCain's daughter, current "The View" host Meghan McCain, wrote in her 2010 book, "Dirty Sexy Politics," that Palin brought "drama, stress, complications, panic and loads of uncertainty" to the campaign, but also lauded the enthusiasm she generated. -ABC News

While Todd Palin has avoided the spotlight, Sarah Palin has been a frequent political commentator on cable news, and wrote the book "Sweet Freedom: A Devotional."

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 07:05
Published:9/10/2019 6:29:02 AM
[Podcasts] How the Obama Administration Made the Military More Politically Correct

During the Obama administration, political appointees, not military members, drove the agenda. James Hasson, who served in the military during President Barack Obama’s presidency, talked... Read More

The post How the Obama Administration Made the Military More Politically Correct appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:9/10/2019 2:28:30 AM
[Markets] US Army Major (Ret.) Explains How The US Shattered The Middle East US Army Major (Ret.) Explains How The US Shattered The Middle East

Authored by Danny Sjursen via TruthDig.com,

Yemen is a nightmare, a catastrophe, a mess - and the United States is highly complicit in the whole disaster. Refueling Saudi aircraft in-flight, providing targeting intelligence to the kingdom and selling the requisite bombs that have been dropped for years now on Yemeni civilians places the 100,000-plus deaths, millions of refugees, and (still) starving children squarely on the American conscience. If, that is, Washington can still claim to have a conscience.

The back story in Yemen, already the Arab world’s poorest country, is relevant. Briefly, the cataclysm went something like this: Protests against the U.S.-backed dictator during the Arab Spring broke out in 2011. After a bit, an indecisive and hesitant President Obama called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. A Saudi-backed transitional government took over but governed (surprise, surprise) poorly. Then, from 2014 to 2015, a vaguely Shiite militia from Yemen’s north swarmed southward and seized the capital, along with half the country. At that point, rather than broker a peace, the U.S. quietly went along with, and militarily supported, a Saudi terror-bombing campaign, starvation blockade and mercenary invasion that mainly affected Yemeni civilians. At that point, Yemen had broken in two.

Now, as the Saudi campaign has clearly faltered—despite killing tens of thousands of civilians and starving at least 85,000 children to death along the way—stalemate reigns. Until this past week, that is, when southern separatists (there was once, before 1990, a South and North Yemen) seized the major port city of Yemen, backed by the Saudis’ ostensible partners in crime, the United Arab Emirates. So it was that there were then threeYemens, and ever more fracture. In the last few days, the Saudi-backed transitional government retook Aden, but southern separatism seems stronger than ever in the region.

Like Humpty-Dumpty in the nursery rhyme, it’s far from clear that Yemen can ever be put back together again. Add to that the fact that al-Qaida-linked militants have used the chaos of war to carve out some autonomy in the ungoverned southeast of the country and one might plausibly argue that the outcome of U.S.-backed Saudi intervention has been no less than fourYemens.

What makes the situation in the Arabian Peninsula’s south particularly disturbing is that supposed foreign policy “experts” in D.C. have long been hysterically asserting that the top risk to America’s safety are Islamist-occupied “safe havens” or ungoverned spaces. I’m far from convinced that the safe-haven myth carries much water; after all, the 9/11 attacks were planned in Germany and the U.S. as much as in, supposedly, the caves of Afghanistan. Still, for argument’s sake, let’s take the interventionist experts’ assumption at face value. In that case, isn’t it ironic that in Yemen—and (as I’ll demonstrate) countless other countries—U.S. military action has repeatedly created the very state fracture and ungoverned spaces the policymakers and pundits so fear?

Let us take an ever-so-brief tour of Washington’s two-decade history of utterly rupturing Greater Mideast nation-states and splintering an already fractious region.

Here goes, from West to East, in an admittedly noncomprehensive list.

U.S. airstrikes and regime change policy in Libya has unleashed an ongoing civil war, divided the country between at least two warlords, and enabled arms and militiamen to cross the southern border and destabilize West Africa.

Which means that Niger, Libya, Cameroon, Mali, Chad and Nigeria have seen their shared territory around Lake Chad become a disputed region, contested by a newly empowered array of Islamists. That, of course, led the U.S. military to plop a few thousand troops in these countries. That deployment is unlikely to end well.

In Israel/Palestine, decades of reflexive U.S. support for Israel and Donald Trump’s doubling down on that policy—by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and turning a blind eye to Israeli plans to annex much of the West Bank—have ensured, once and for all, that there can be no viable Palestinian state. Which means that the area is divided into at least three (for the Palestinians, at least) noncontiguous entities: Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.

In Syria, American meddling in the civil war, self-destructive support for various Islamists groups there and military intervention on behalf of the Kurds have broken Syria into a mostly jihadi, rebel-held northwest, Assad-regime center and U.S.-backed Kurdish east.

Just over the border in Iraq stands the gold standard of counterproductive U.S. fracture. There, an ill-fated, illegal U.S. invasion in 2003 seems to have forever broken into an autonomous Kurdish north, Shiite-held east and south and Sunni-controlled west. It is in that contested western region that Sunni jihadism has long flourished and where al-Qaida in Iraq, and its more extreme stepchild, Islamic State, metastasized and then unleashed massive bloodletting on both sides of the border.

Finally, in Afghanistan, the U.S. invasion and occupation—as well as any impending peace deal—ensured that this Central Asian basket case of a country will divide, for the foreseeable future, into Taliban-dominated Pashtun south and east and tenuous Tajik/Uzbek/Hazara minorities held north and west.

The point is that the U.S. has irreparably fractured a broad swath of the globe from West Africa to Central Asia. Interventionist pundits in both parties and countless think tanks insist that the U.S. military must remain in place across the region to police dangerous “ungoverned spaces,” yet recent history demonstrates irrefutably that it is the very intervention of Washington and presence of its troops that fragments once (relatively) stable nation-states and empowers separatists and Islamists.

The whole absurd mess boils down to a treacherous math problem of sorts.

By my simple accounting, a region from Nigeria to Afghanistan that once counted about 22 state entities has - since the onset of the U.S. “terror wars” - broken into some 37 autonomous, sometimes hardly governed, zones. According to the “experts,” that should mean total disaster and increased danger to the homeland. Yet it’s largely U.S. military policy and intervention itself that’s caused this fracture. So isn’t it high time to quit the American combat missions? Not according to the mainstream policymakers and pundits. For them, the war must (always) go on!

Counterproductivity seems the essence of U.S. military policy in Uncle Sam’s never-ending, post-9/11 wars. Call me crazy, or wildly conspiratorial, but after serving in two hopelessly absurd wars and studying the full scope of American military action, it seems that maybe that was the idea all along.

* * *

Maj. Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, "Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge." He lives in Lawrence, Kan. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast "Fortress on a Hill," co-hosted with fellow vet Chris "Henri" Henrikson.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 00:05
Published:9/9/2019 11:22:51 PM
[World] Joe Biden's biggest problem

Joe Biden’s string of nonsensical comments may point to mental impairment, but that is not the presidential contender’s biggest problem: His actual decisions and what they say about his judgment.

In May 2011, Mr. Biden was in the White House Situation Room with President Obama and a dozen of his ... Published:9/9/2019 12:24:59 PM

[Politics] Kroft on Interviewing Obama: ‘I Don’t Think It Was a Matter of Pushing Hard’

Retiring CBS News correspondent Steve Kroft in a 60 Minutes interview reflecting on his career praised Barack Obama and said his interviews with the former president were not a "matter of pushing hard" against him.

The post Kroft on Interviewing Obama: ‘I Don’t Think It Was a Matter of Pushing Hard’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/9/2019 12:24:59 PM
[Markets] Michael Flynn Tells House Intel Democrats To Pound Sand Over Testimony And Documents Michael Flynn Tells House Intel Democrats To Pound Sand Over Testimony And Documents

Former National Security adviser Michael Flynn is refusing to cooperate with the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee's demand for testimony and documents, according to Politico, citing a Monday letter by Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). 

Moreover, Flynn's new legal counsel, Sidney Powell, has been giving House Democrats the business. 

"Notwithstanding repeated efforts by committee staff to engage with your counsel and accommodate your adjournment requests, you have, to date, failed to comply with the committee’s subpoena or cooperate with the committee’s efforts to secure your compliance," Schiff wrote to Flynn - demanding an appearance for testimony on September 25. 

Of Powell, Schiff wrote that she "exhibit[ed] a troubling degree of unprofessionalism" during communications with committee staffers, which were outlined in the letter. 

According to Schiff, Powell “refused to accept service” of the subpoena issued by the panel in June. Schiff indicated that Powell repeatedly sought deadline extensions for Flynn’s cooperation before ultimately ignoring phone calls attempting to arrange Flynn’s testimony for late July, just ahead of Congress’ six-week summer recess.

Schiff also said Powell told the committee that Flynn would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and would not answer any questions other than confirming his name. -Politico

"The Fifth Amendment privilege must be invoked in response to specific questions or topics that might tend to incriminate you if answered truthfully," wrote Schiff. "Your counsel’s blanket invocation of the Fifth Amendment … is, therefore, inadequate."

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to laying about his interactions with Russia's ambassador prior to Trump taking office - denying a discussion of sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in retaliation for alleged election meddling in 2016. 

Interestingly, Powell urged Flynn to withdraw his guilty plea - writing in a Daily Caller Op-Ed; "Extraordinary manipulation by powerful people led to the creation of Robert Mueller’s continuing investigation and prosecution of General Michael Flynn," adding "Notably, the recent postponement of General Flynn’s sentencing provides an opportunity for more evidence to be revealed that will provide massive ammunition for a motion to withdraw Flynn’s guilty plea and dismiss the charges against him."

Powell also claimed that Flynn's Constitutional rights were violated by his former legal team, arguing in March 2018: "[General] Flynn should be fully exonerated," adding "All charges against him should be dismissed for [egregious government misconduct] that infected the setup and prosecution of him from the beginning."

"There are also serious 4th Amendment violations," said Powell. "Did his legal team pursue a vigorous defense?"

As Politico notes, Powell has also been "intensely critical of Schiff and Mueller," while filing a brief last week with the court that spelled out a "litany of allegations of prosecutorial misconduct — much of which aligned with Trump’s unsupported allegations against Mueller and his team — and suggested that the government had withheld evidence from Flynn."

Prosecutors are aiming to sentence Flynn this fall. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/09/2019 - 13:11
Published:9/9/2019 12:24:59 PM
[Politics] Tim Ryan Hits Biden Over Lack of Energy, Says He’s ‘Declining’

Sunday new shows saw a struggling presidential candidate take a shot at the current frontrunner, a former Obama administration official criticize another leading candidate, and current and former Trump administration officials discuss the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

The post Tim Ryan Hits Biden Over Lack of Energy, Says He’s ‘Declining’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/8/2019 7:47:04 PM
[Markets] What We Still Do Not Know About Russiagate What We Still Do Not Know About Russiagate

Authored by Stephen Cohen via TheNation.com,

Vital questions about perhaps the worst alleged presidential scandal in US history remain unanswered...

It must again be emphasized: It is hard, if not impossible, to think of a more toxic allegation in American presidential history than the one leveled against candidate, and then president, Donald Trump that he “colluded” with the Kremlin in order to win the 2016 presidential election—and, still more, that Vladimir Putin’s regime, “America’s No. 1 threat,” had compromising material on Trump that made him its “puppet.” Or a more fraudulent accusation.

Even leaving aside the misperception that Russia is the primary threat to America in world affairs, no aspect of this allegation has turned out to be true, as should have been evident from the outset. Major aspects of the now infamous Steele Dossier, on which much of the allegation was based, were themselves not merely “unverified” but plainly implausible.

Was it plausible, for example, that Trump, a longtime owner and operator of international hotels, would commit an indiscreet act in a Moscow hotel that he did not own or control? Or that, as Steele also claimed, high-level Kremlin sources had fed him damning anti-Trump information even though their vigilant boss, Putin, wanted Trump to win the election? Nonetheless, the American mainstream media and other important elements of the US political establishment relied on Steele’s allegations for nearly three years, even heroizing him—and some still do, explicitly or implicitly.

Not surprisingly, former special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. No credible evidence has been produced that Russia’s “interference” affected the result of the 2016 presidential election in any significant way. Nor was Russian “meddling” in the election anything akin to a “digital Pearl Harbor,” as widely asserted, and it was certainly far less and less intrusive than President Bill Clinton’s political and financial “interference” undertaken to assure the reelection of Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1996.

Nonetheless, Russiagate’s core allegation persists, like a legend, in American political life - in media commentary, in financial solicitations by some Democratic candidates for Congress, and, as is clear from my own discussions, in the minds of otherwise well-informed people. The only way to dispel, to excoriate, such a legend is to learn and expose how it began - by whom, when, and why.

Officially, at least in the FBI’s version, its operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign that began in mid-2016 was due to suspicious remarks made to visitors by a young and lowly Trump aide, George Papadopoulos. This too is not believable, as I pointed out previously. Most of those visitors themselves had ties to Western intelligence agencies. That is, the young Trump aide was being enticed, possibly entrapped, as part of a larger intelligence operation against Trump. (Papadopoulos wasn’t the only Trump associate targeted, Carter Page being another.)

But the question remains: Why did Western intelligence agencies, prompted, it seems clear, by US ones, seek to undermine Trump’s presidential campaign? A reflexive answer might be because candidate Trump promised to “cooperate with Russia,” to pursue a pro-détente foreign policy, but this was hardly a startling, still less subversive, advocacy by a would-be Republican president. All of the major pro-détente episodes in the 20th century had been initiated by Republican presidents: Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan.

So, again, what was it about Trump that so spooked the spooks so far off their rightful reservation and so intrusively into American presidential politics? Investigations being overseen by Attorney General William Barr may provide answers—or not. Barr has already leveled procedural charges against James Comey, head of the FBI under President Obama and briefly under President Trump, but the repeatedly hapless Comey seems incapable of having initiated such an audacious operation against a presidential candidate, still less a president-elect. As I have long suggested, John Brennan and James Clapper, head of the CIA and Office of National Intelligence under Obama respectively, are the more likely culprits. The FBI is no longer the fearsome organization it once was and thus not hard to investigate, as Barr has already shown. The others, particularly the CIA, are a different matter, and Barr has suggested they are resisting. To investigate them, particularly the CIA, it seems, he has brought in a veteran prosecutor-investigator, John Durham.

Which raises other questions. Are Barr and Durham, whose own careers include associations with US intelligence agencies, determined to uncover the truth about the origins of Russiagate? And can they really do so fully, given the resistance already apparent? Even if so, will Barr make public their findings, however damning of the intelligence agencies they may be, or will he classify them? And if the latter, will President Trump use his authority to declassify the findings as the 2020 presidential election approaches in order to discredit the role of Obama’s presidency and its would-be heirs?

Equally important perhaps, how will mainstream media treat the Barr-Durham investigation and its findings? Having driven the Russiagate narrative for so long and so misleadingly—and with liberals perhaps finding themselves in the incongruous position of defending rogue intelligence agencies—will they credit or seek to discredit the findings?

It is true, of course, that Barr and Durham, as Trump appointees, are not the ideal investigators of Intel misdeeds in the Russiagate saga. Much better would be a truly bipartisan, independent investigation based in the Senate, as was the Church Committee of the mid-1970s, which exposed and reformed (it thought at the time) serious abuses by US intelligence agencies. That would require, however, a sizable core of nonpartisan, honorable, and courageous senators of both parties, who thus far seem to be lacking.

There are also, however, the ongoing and upcoming Democratic presidential debates. First and foremost, Russiagate is about the present and future of the American political system, not about Russia. (Indeed, as I have repeatedly argued, there is very little, if any, Russia in Russiagate.) At every “debate” or comparable forum, all of the Democratic candidates should be asked about this grave threat to American democracy - what they think about what happened and would do about it if elected president. Consider it health care for our democracy.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/08/2019 - 20:30
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Published:9/8/2019 7:47:03 PM
[Markets] These Are The New Strategies That Tanker Tracking Firms Are Using To Monitor Iran's "Dark Fleet" These Are The New Strategies That Tanker Tracking Firms Are Using To Monitor Iran's "Dark Fleet"

Despite Washington's pleas that UK/Gibraltar authorities refrain from releasing the Iranian-flagged Adrian Darya-1 tanker over concerns that it would deliver its 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil to Syria, the ship was released last month. Shortly after, it "went dark" - turning off its transponder earlier this month to mask the fact that it was delivering a load of crude to Syria - or at least that's what National Security Advisor John Bolton suspects happened.

And not without good reason. The tanker, which was photographed off Syrian port of Tartus, is one more reason for the US and Europe to treat Iran's written assurances that it wouldn't engage in such "illegal" deliveries - assurances that the UK used as the basis for its decision to release the vessel from custody - with wariness and suspicion.

But the Adrian Darya-1 is merely one example of how Iran has managed to keep exporting oil, often in violation of US and EU sanctions, in spite of the international crackdown. As Bloomberg reports, Tehran is engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with tanker-tracking firms around the world that have developed new strategies for monitoring Iran's "Dark Fleet".

The quest has led to ever more inventive methods of tracking ships, and divergent views on the amounts of crude secretly slipping into world markets. That’s because the vessels have mostly "gone dark" since sanctions were tightened this year, switching off transponders that would reveal their location.

"Iran is a black box, but it’s also not a black box" as there are ways to uncover secretive activity, said Devin Geoghegan, global director of petroleum intelligence at Genscape Inc. in Denver, Colorado. "Iran is simply doing a better job of putting their oil into other people’s hands - or their own storage tin-cans - than anybody has expected."

The Trump Administration's goal of driving Iranian oil exports "to zero" hasn't been very successful, as Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh insists that he is working "day and night" to protect sales, using a number of clandestine options.

The various companies struggling to monitor the flow of oil out of Iran agree that Iranian oil exports are far from zero. But analysts' estimates on how much vary from a couple hundred thousand barrels a day to more than a million.

One Switzerland-based tracking firm believes Iran is shipping barely one-third of the amount it sold during the last round of heightened sanctions earlier in the decade, when Barack Obama was in office. According to Daniel Gerber, the firm's CEO, the Trump Administration has been largely successful at curtailing Iran's exports.

"Iran is as secretive now as any time over the past 40 years," said Daniel Gerber, chief executive officer of Geneva-based tanker-tracking firm Petro-Logistics SA. "There’s a wide array of diverging estimates of their exports in the industry, with a series of accounting problems causing erroneous higher numbers to come into some of these."

Iran is now barely shipping a third of the amount it sold during the previous round of sanctions imposed earlier this decade, Gerber said. Some other estimates have been inflated because they include all the oil that’s been loaded onto tankers, or put into domestic storage, rather than just what’s been shipped overseas, he said.

"The Trump administration has been successful at curtailing Iran’s exports on an unprecedented scale," according to Gerber, who said Petro-Logistics is able to obtain details on the volumes and crude-type of individual cargoes, as well as on the counter-parties buying them.

Paris-based tracking firm Kpler has developed a unique strategy for tracking Iranian crude. It uses commercial satellite images, then cross-references them with data from customs agencies and reports from various ports. Because of this, Kpler believes Iran has maintained "limited" flows of oil into China - Iran's most important customer - as well as Turkey and Syria.

Kpler analyst Samah Ahmed believes Iran is employing a range of techniques to try to avoid detection, including "several ship-to-ship transfers off-radar" - a technique that is also famously used by North Korea. Like Petro-Logistics, Kpler believes the Trump Administration has been largely successful at choking off Iran's oil exports. By its account, Kpler believes Iranian oil exports have slumped 90% to just 400,000 barrels a day since the Trump Administration abandoned the Iranian nuclear deal in May 2018.

"The goal of bringing Iran’s exports down to zero was never attained," said Homayoun Falakshahi, an analyst at the firm. Yet "the Trump administration has been obviously very successful in bringing maximum pressure."

Yet, the amount of oil that Iran sells for cash is likely even lower, since a large percentage of the oil that it exports is used to pay off its debts to China.

The actual volume that Iran is selling for cash is probably even lower, according to Sara Vakhshouri, head of consultants SVB Energy International in Washington, D.C.

Some cargoes are sold to repay debts to China, and others are moved into so-called bonded storage there without passing customs, meaning they’re still owned by Iran. As a result, total sales in July may have been as little as 100,000 barrels a day, she said.

Finally, Genscape's Geoghegan believes Iran's output of crude and condensate has fallen only 15% since the first quarter of 2018. Total production might be as much as 3.9 million barrels per day, with exports as high as 1 million bpd as Iran moves "full speed ahead", drilling at new fields in the West Karoun region.

Among the various commercial tracking firms, Genscape's methodology is truly unique. Instead of relying on satellite images of tanker traffic, Genscape uses satellite photos of gas flaring at oil fields to gauge their levels of activity.

But according to Geoghegan, the resilience of Iran's oil industry might not endure for much longer. As storage fills up, Iran may need to lower its output.

"We have seen every tin-can that they have get filled up, and we’ve seen oil fill up in areas that they haven’t historically used," Geoghegan said. "They’re going to hit a brick wall at some point, and their production is going to take another leg down."

Hence why Iran has been seizing ships in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz suspected of smuggling - ships like the "tugboat" suspected of smuggling nearly 284,000 liters of diesel. As Washington's campaign of "massive pressure" intensifies, Tehran's is continuing with its campaign of "counter-pressure" to try and protect its oil-dependent economy. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/08/2019 - 19:00
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Published:9/8/2019 6:15:53 PM
[US News] Prepare to LOL as former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes explains to us how the Iran Nuclear Deal has ‘solved the problem’

Yeah, no.

The post Prepare to LOL as former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes explains to us how the Iran Nuclear Deal has ‘solved the problem’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:9/8/2019 3:45:18 PM
[Pete Buttigieg] The breathtaking arrogance of Pete Buttigieg (Paul Mirengoff) My conservative cousin formerly from New York (now from California) has closely followed presidential politics since the days of Dwight Eisenhower. He finds in Pete Buttigieg an arrogance he hasn’t come across before, not even from Barack Obama. Pete Buttigieg may well be the most arrogant candidate ever to run for a major party’s nomination in American History. Start with his record as South Bend, Indiana Mayor. Buttigieg admits to Published:9/7/2019 11:09:51 PM
[Markets] 14 Strange Facts Exposed As General Flynn's Endgame Approaches 14 Strange Facts Exposed As General Flynn's Endgame Approaches

Authored by Brian Cates via The Epoch Times,

Having followed Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s perjury case from the beginning, it’s been apparent to me for some time that there are a lot of things in this case that just don’t add up. Strange occurrences abound.

Here are just some of the twists and turns in the case, which has gone on for more than three years.

  1. Flynn’s trip to Russia in 2015, where it was claimed Flynn went without the knowledge or approval of the DIA or anyone in Washington, was proven not to be true.

  2. Flynn was suspected of being compromised by a supposed Russian agent, Cambridge academic Svetlana Lokhova, based on allegations from Western intelligence asset Stefan Halper. This was also proven to be not true.

  3. Flynn’s phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were framed as being incredibly shady and a potential violation of the Logan ActThis allegation was always preposterous.

  4. Unnamed intelligence officials leaked the details of the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls to The Washington Post.

  5. FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joseph Pientka were dispatched by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe to interview Flynn at the White House, even though the FBI had already reviewed the transcripts of the calls and cleared Flynn of any crimes.

  6. Both FBI Director James Comey and McCabe testified to Congress that Flynn didn’t lie.

  7. Despite what McCabe and Comey both testified to under oath before Congress, the Mueller special counsel’s office decided to prosecute Flynn for perjury in November of 2017.

  8. The very strange post-dated FD-302 form on the FBI’s January 2017 interview of Flynn that wasn’t filled out until August 2017, almost seven months afterward, is revealed in a court filing by Flynn’s defense team.

  9. FBI agent Pientka became the  “DOJ’s Invisible Man,” despite the fact that Congress has repeatedly called for him to testify. Pientka has remained out of sight and out of mind more than a year and a half since his name first surfaced in connection with the Flynn case.

  10. Judge Rudolph Contreras was removed from the Flynn case immediately after accepting Flynn’s guilty plea and was replaced by Judge Emmit Sullivan.

  11. Sullivan issued what’s known as a Brady order to prosecutors–which ordered them to immediately turn over any exculpatory evidence to Flynn’s defense team. Flynn’s team then made a filing alleging the withholding of exculpatory evidence.

  12. Flynn was given a chance to withdraw his guilty plea by Judge Sullivan but refused, and insisted to go forward with sentencing.

  13. Flynn suddenly fired his lawyers for the past two years and hired Sidney Powell to lead his new legal team following special counsel Robert Mueller’s disastrous testimony to Congress. And now, the latest startling development:

  14. Flynn filed to have the Mueller prosecution team replaced for having withheld exculpatory evidence, despite Sullivan having directly ordered them to hand any such evidence over months ago.

Now, it’s not that far-fetched of an idea that the Mueller special counsel prosecutors would hide exculpatory evidence from the Flynn defense team, since they’ve just admitted to having done exactly that in another case their office has been prosecuting.

The defense team for Internet Research Agency/Concord, more popularly known as “the Russian troll farm case,” hasn’t been smooth going for the Mueller prosecutors.

First, the prosecution team got a real tongue-lashing from Judge Dabney L. Friedrich in early July, when it turned out they had no evidence whatsoever to prove their assertion that the Russian troll farms were being run by the Putin government.

Then, in a filing submitted to the court on Aug. 30, the IRA/Concord defense team alerted Judge Friedrich that the prosecutors just got around to handing them key evidence the prosecutors had for the past 18 months. The prosecution gave no explanation whatsoever as to why they hid this key evidence for more than a year.

It’s hard to see at this point how the entire IRA/Concord case isn’t tossed out.

What would it mean for Flynn’s prosecutors to have been caught hiding exculpatory evidence from him and his lawyers, even after the presiding judge explicitly ordered them in February to hand over everything they had?

It would mean that the Flynn case is tossed out, since the prosecution team was caught engaging in gross misconduct.

Now you can see why Flynn refused to withdraw his guilty plea when Judge Sullivan gave him the opportunity to do so in late December 2018.

A withdrawal of the guilty plea or a pardon would let the Mueller prosecution team off the hook.

And they’re not getting off the hook.

Flynn hired the best lawyer he possibly could have when it comes to exposing prosecutorial misconduct. Nobody knows the crafty, corrupt, and dishonest tricks federal prosecutors use better than Powell, who actually wrote a compelling book about such matters, entitled “License to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.”

Everything this Mueller prosecution team did in withholding exculpatory evidence from Flynn’s defense team—and continued to withhold even after Judge Sullivan specifically issued an order about it—is going to be fully exposed.

Defying a federal judge’s Brady order is a one-way ticket to not only getting fired, it’s a serious enough offense to warrant disbarment and prosecution.

If it turns out Mueller special counsel prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence— not only in the IRA/Concord case, but also in the cases against Flynn, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, and others—that will have a huge impact.

If they are willing to withhold exculpatory evidence in one case, why wouldn’t they do the same thing in other cases they were prosecuting? Haven’t they have already demonstrated they are willing to break the rules?

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/07/2019 - 13:50
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Published:9/7/2019 1:09:04 PM
[Markets] 9/11 & The Road To America's Orwellian Hell 9/11 & The Road To America's Orwellian Hell

Authored by James Bovard via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

Next week will be the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Politicians and bureaucrats wasted no time after that carnage to unleash the Surveillance State on average Americans, treating every person like a terrorist suspect. Since the government failed to protect the public, Americans somehow forfeited their constitutional right to privacy. Despite heroic efforts by former NSA staffer Edward Snowden and a host of activists and freedom fighters, the government continues ravaging American privacy.

Two of the largest leaps towards “1984” began in 2002. Though neither the Justice Department’s Operation TIPS nor the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program was brought to completion, parcels and precedents from each program have profoundly influenced subsequent federal policies.

In July 2002, the Justice Department unveiled plans for Operation TIPS — the Terrorism Information and Prevention System. According to the Justice Department website, TIPS would be “a nationwide program giving millions of American truckers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity.” TIPSters would be people who, “in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to serve as extra eyes and ears for law enforcement.” The feds aimed to recruit people in jobs that “make them uniquely well positioned to understand the ordinary course of business in the area they serve, and to identify things that are out of the ordinary.” Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said that observers in certain occupations “might pick up a break in the certain rhythm or pattern of a community.” The feds planned to enlist as many as 10 million people to watch other people’s “rhythms.”

The Justice Department provided no definition of “suspicious behavior” to guide vigilantes. As the public began to focus on the program’s sweep, opposition surfaced; even the U.S. Postal Service briefly balked at participating in the program. Director Ridge insisted that TIPS “is not a government intrusion.” He declared, “The last thing we want is Americans spying on Americans. That’s just not what the president is all about, and not what the TIPS program is all about.” Apparently, as long as the Bush administration did not announce plans to compel people to testify about the peccadilloes of their neighbors and customers, TIPS was a certified freedom-friendly program.

When Attorney General John Ashcroft was cross-examined by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on TIPS at a Judiciary Committee hearing on July 25, he insisted that “the TIPS program is something requested by industry to allow them to talk about anomalies that they encounter.” But, when George W. Bush first announced the program, he portrayed it as an administration initiative. Did thousands of Teamsters Union members petition 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over “anomalies”? Senator Leahy asked whether reports to the TIPS hotline would become part of a federal database with millions of unsubstantiated allegations against American citizens. Ashcroft told Leahy, “I have recommended that there would be none, and I’ve been given assurance that the TIPS program would not maintain a database.” But Ashcroft could not reveal which federal official had given him the assurance.

The ACLU’s Laura Murphy observed, “This is a program where people’s activities, statements, posters in their windows or on their walls, nationality, and religious practices will be reported by untrained individuals without any relationship to criminal activity.” San Diego law professor Marjorie Cohn observed, “Operation TIPS … will encourage neighbors to snitch on neighbors and won’t distinguish between real and fabricated tips. Anyone with a grudge or vendetta against another can provide false information to the government, which will then enter the national database.”

On August 9, the Justice Department announced it was fine-tuning TIPS, abandoning any “plan to ask thousands of mail carriers, utility workers, and others with access to private homes to report suspected terrorist activity,” the Washington Post reported. People who had enlisted to be TIPSters received an email notice from Uncle Sam that “only those who work in the trucking, maritime, shipping, and mass transit industries will be eligible to participate in this information referral service.” But the Justice Department continued refusing to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee who would have access to the TIPS reports.

After the proposal created a fierce backlash across the political board, Congress passed an amendment blocking its creation. House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Tex.) attached an amendment to homeland security legislation that declared, “Any and all activities of the federal government to implement the proposed component program of the Citizen Corps known as Operation TIPS are hereby prohibited.” But the Bush administration and later the Obama administration pursued the same information roundup with federally funded fusion centers that encouraged people to file “suspicious activity reports” for a wide array of innocuous behavior — reports that are dumped into secret federal databases that can vex innocent citizens in perpetuity.

Operation TIPS illustrated how the momentum of intrusion spurred government to propose programs that it never would have attempted before 9/11. If Bush had proposed in August 2001 to recruit 10 million Americans to report any of their neighbors they suspected of acting unusual or being potential troublemakers, the public might have concluded the president had gone berserk.

Total Information Awareness: 300 million dossiers

The USA PATRIOT Act created a new Information Office in the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In January 2002, the White House chose retired admiral John Poindexter to head the new office. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer explained, “Admiral Poindexter is somebody who this administration thinks is an outstanding American, an outstanding citizen, who has done a very good job in what he has done for our country, serving the military.” Cynics kvetched about Poindexter’s five felony convictions for false testimony to Congress and destruction of evidence during the investigation of the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages exchange. Poindexter’s convictions were overturned by a federal appeals court, which cited the immunity Congress granted his testimony.

Poindexter committed the new Pentagon office to achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA). TIA’s mission is “to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists — and decipher their plans — and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts,” according to DARPA. According to Undersecretary of Defense Pete Aldridge, TIA would seek to discover “connections between transactions — such as passports; visas; work permits; driver’s licenses; credit cards; airline tickets; rental cars; gun purchases; chemical purchases — and events — such as arrests or suspicious activities and so forth.” Aldridge agreed that every phone call a person made or received could be entered into the database. With “voice recognition” software, the actual text of the call could also go onto a permanent record.

TIA would also strive to achieve “Human Identification at a Distance” (HumanID), including “Face Recognition,” “Iris Recognition,” and “Gait Recognition.” The Pentagon issued a request for proposals to develop an “odor recognition” surveillance system that would help the feds identify people by their sweat or urine — potentially creating a wealth of new job opportunities for deviants.

TIA’s goal was to stockpile as much information as possible about everyone on Earth — thereby allowing government to protect everyone from everything. New York Times columnist William Safire captured the sweep of the new surveillance system: “Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book, and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database.’” Columnist Ted Rall noted that the feds would even scan “veterinary records. The TIA believes that knowing if and when Fluffy got spayed — and whether your son stopped torturing Fluffy after you put him on Ritalin — will help the military stop terrorists before they strike.”

Phil Kent, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, an Atlanta-based public-interest law firm, warned that TIA was “the most sweeping threat to civil liberties since the Japanese-American internment.” The ACLU’s Jay Stanley labeled TIA “the mother of all privacy invasions. It would amount to a picture of your life so complete, it’s equivalent to somebody following you around all day with a video camera.” A coalition of civil-liberties groups protested to Senate leaders, “There are no systems of oversight or accountability contemplated in the TIA project. DARPA itself has resisted lawful requests for information about the Program pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.”

Bush administration officials were outraged by such criticisms. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared, “The hype and alarm approach is a disservice to the public…. I would recommend people take a nice deep breath. Nothing terrible is going to happen.” Poindexter promised that TIA would be designed so as to “preserve rights and protect people’s privacy while helping to make us all safer.” (Poindexter was not under oath at the time of his statement.) The TIA was defended on the basis that “nobody has been searched” until the feds decide to have him arrested on the basis of data the feds snared. Undersecretary Aldridge declared, “It is absurd to think that DARPA is somehow trying to become another police agency. DARPA’s purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility of this technology. If it proves useful, TIA will then be turned over to the intelligence, counterintelligence, and law-enforcement communities as a tool to help them in their battle against domestic terrorism.” In January 2003, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) learned that the FBI was working on a memorandum of understanding with the Pentagon “for possible experimentation” with TIA. Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Security Paul McHale confirmed, in March 2003 testimony to Congress, that the Pentagon would turn TIA over to law-enforcement agencies once the system was ready to roll.

DARPA responded to the surge of criticism by removing the Information Awareness Office logo from the website. The logo showed a giant green eye atop a pyramid, covering half the globe with a peculiar yellow haze, accompanied by the motto “Scientia est Potentia” (Knowledge is Power).

Shortly after DARPA completed a key research benchmark for TIA, Lt. Col. Doug Dyer, a DARPA program manager, publicly announced in April 2003 that Americans are obliged to sacrifice some privacy in the name of security: “When you consider the potential effect of a terrorist attack against the privacy of an entire population, there has to be some trade-off.” But nothing in the U.S. Constitution entitles the Defense Department to decide how much privacy or liberty American citizens deserve.

In September 2003, Congress passed an amendment abolishing the Pentagon’s Information Office and ending TIA funding. But by that point, DARPA had already awarded 26 contracts for dozens of private research projects to develop components for TIA. Salon.com reported, “According to people with knowledge of the program, TIA has now advanced to the point where it’s much more than a mere ‘research project.’ There is a working prototype of the system, and federal agencies outside the Defense Department have expressed interest in it.” The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is already using facial recognition systems at 20 airports and the Transportation Security Administration is expected to quickly follow suit.

Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo sent a secret memo to the White House declaring that the Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches was null and void: “If the government’s heightened interest in self-defense justifies the use of deadly force, then it also certainly would justify warrantless searches.” That memo helped set federal policy until it was publicly revealed after Barack Obama took office in 2009. Unfortunately, that anti-Constitution, anti-privacy mindset unleashed many federal intrusions that continue to this day, from the TSA to the National Security Agency to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/06/2019 - 23:15
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Published:9/6/2019 10:40:28 PM
[Education] If California Relies on Obama School Discipline Policy, It Will Put Students at Risk

California legislators seek to expand a law that limits a teacher’s ability to keep order in the classroom. Surveys find opposition to such loosened policies,... Read More

The post If California Relies on Obama School Discipline Policy, It Will Put Students at Risk appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:9/6/2019 4:33:03 PM
[Customs, Border and Immigration News] Trump Says Obama ‘Never Had The Legal Right’ To Implement DACA

By Jason Hopkins -

President Donald Trump said Friday that former President Barack did not have the legal right to sign DACA, and lamented the fact that hasn’t been able to rescind it. “The Immigration Law Institute’s Christopher Hajec says, ‘The Supreme Court has to look [at] whether DACA is lawful. What they are ...

Trump Says Obama ‘Never Had The Legal Right’ To Implement DACA is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:9/6/2019 11:02:29 AM
[Markets] Buchanan Asks: Can Joe Biden Run This Marathon?

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

Thursday, Sept. 14, looks to be a fateful day in the half-century-long political career of Joe Biden.

That night, a three-hour debate will be held, a marathon in politics.

Biden will be on stage, taking incoming missiles for 180 minutes from nine rivals, each of whom is hungry for the Democratic nomination and has a huge investment in seeing him stumble and fall.

A solid showing by Biden that night, marked by wit and a mastery of the issues, would cause a storm surge of relief in the Democratic Party.

It would provide desperately needed reassurance to millions of Democrats who have a gnawing fear Biden’s time has come and gone, that he is losing it, that his memory is failing, and that, at any moment, from some egregious gaffe, his campaign could crater and crash.

If he stumbles that night, misremembers or misspeaks repeatedly in the three hours, the apprehension about his nomination, already widespread among the party elite, could turn into panic.

Why is the Democratic Party apprehensive about Joe Biden?

Though every poll has him running well ahead of his competitors, the Biden campaign has ranged from dull to embarrassing.

Biden began by speaking nostalgically of his days as a young senator and the warm friendships he formed with segregationist senators Herman Talmadge and Jim Eastland, the latter a Mississippi pillar of “massive resistance” to civil rights legislation.

In the first debate, Biden was skewered by Sen. Kamala Harris for having boasted of opposing the court-ordered busing that, Harris claims, enabled her to get an integrated education in California.

Asked, in Keene, New Hampshire, how it felt to be in the lovely town, Biden volunteered, “Look, what’s not to like about Vermont.”

Biden spoke of meeting in his vice president’s office with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the scene of a horrific school shooting. Only the Parkland massacre did not occur until after he left the vice presidency.

Speaking in the aftermath of shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Biden talked of the recent “tragic events in Houston and also in Michigan the day before.” After the shootings in Odessa, Texas, done with an assault rifle, an outraged Joe said it was “absolutely mindless” not to ban all firearm magazines that carry more than a single bullet.

“We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts,” Biden thundered in Des Moines.

Given months of campaigning in which the principal feature has been his gaffes, why is Joe still the front-runner?

Because he has been around so long as a senator and vice president, from 1973 to 2017, is well-known and well-liked, is the most acceptable of the candidates to moderates fearful of the rising radicalism in the party — and, above all, because every poll shows Biden has the best shot at beating Donald Trump.

Biden has undeniable assets. He was Barack Obama’s loyal subaltern. He is seen, even by opponents, as a nice guy, a politician without malice and a pragmatist unencumbered by principle who can slide leftward at the same speed as his party on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Biden is a believer in the maxim of Sen. Henry Ashurst of Arizona that the “clammy hand of consistency should never rest for long upon the shoulder of a statesman.”

Also, Biden’s rivals have proven unimpressive, with the exception of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has steadily plodded upward to challenge the socialist Bernie Sanders for the second position.

Biden’s crowds are anemic compared to Warren’s. His speeches range from the unexciting to the boring. He has no enticing policy agenda, no inspiring message, no captivating slogan. As a political athlete, he is not even in the same league as Obama or JFK.

He does not excite the Democratic youth. And if he won in 2020, he would be, at 78, our oldest president. Jill Biden, his wife, made the case for Joe well: “You may like another candidate better, but you have to look at who’s going to win… Joe is that person.”

Like Warren Harding a century ago, Biden holds out to the nation the promise of a “return to normalcy.”

In his days in the Senate, he was famous for his tough-on-crime stand and his vote to authorize the war in Iraq — a blunder of historic proportions.

If elected, at the end of his first term, Biden would be 82. If he sought and served the two terms every president seems to seek, he would, in 2028, be 86 years old on leaving office.

Does the Joe Biden of the summer of 2019 look like he could be, a decade from now, the dynamic leader America could rely on to face down the successors to China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin?

Prediction: At some point in this campaign, Joe Biden will declare that, if elected, he will only serve one term.

Published:9/6/2019 9:31:51 AM
[Politics] Former Obama Adviser: Biden ‘Serially’ Distorts Own Record

Former Obama White House adviser David Axelrod said in a tweet Thursday that Joe Biden was distorting his own record to a damaging degree.

The post Former Obama Adviser: Biden ‘Serially’ Distorts Own Record appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:9/6/2019 9:02:25 AM
[Barack Obama] Obama Swept Iran Terror Plot Under the Rug (John Hinderaker) Former Defense Secretary James Mattis has a book coming out in which he is harshly critical of President Obama. Among other things, he recalls his dissent from Obama’s decision to pull troops out of Iraq prematurely, which had nearly-disastrous consequences. But this less well-known story about Iran is also noteworthy: Mattis says Washington didn’t even inform him when Iran committed an “act of war” on American soil. Mattis was CENTCOM Published:9/5/2019 6:56:44 PM
[Opinion] What Will Future Generations of Americans Think of the Obama Era?

By Dave King -

Twenty-First century American Democrats are highly destructive people. It’s common for today’s current radical Democrats to want to tear down statues they don’t like or to destroy art that offends them. They are also fond of ridiculing Americans of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries by calling them all racists because ...

What Will Future Generations of Americans Think of the Obama Era? is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:9/5/2019 6:27:16 PM
[World] Woman Drops 'Forcible Kiss' Trump Lawsuit After Furious Judge Views Cellphone Footage

A former Trump campaign aide has dropped a lawsuit against the president after cellphone footage revealed her claim to be baseless. 

Alva Johnson made headlines when she claimed that then-candidate Donald Trump "forcibly kissed" her shortly before a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida in August 2016. 

After Trump's attorneys released a video of the encounter, however, things went sideways for Johnson - when US District Court Judge William Jung dismissed the complaint, saying it amounted to a "political lawuit," according to Politico

Jung offered to let Johnson's lawyers redraft the complaint, however in a Wednesday night filing they anounced the decision to drop the lawsuit.

"While we are disappointed in the result, we take some satisfaction in proving that Alva was telling the truth about what her employer did to her. Namely, we uncovered video evidence that shows Trump grabbing Alva by the shoulders, pulling her in to him, and kissing her in front of numerous co-workers and others," wrote lawyer Hassan Zavareei. "Unfortunately, that does not appear to be enough for our judge, who has expressed a very narrow view of what constitutes battery." 

Johnson, meanwhile, said in a statement "I have made the difficult decision not to pursue my claims at this time. I am facing a judge who openly questions whether the kiss is worthy of a federal lawsuit and has determined that Mr. Trump’s history of such behavior is not relevant, and I’ve endured ongoing threats to my safety. I’ve decided for the sake of my family that I will not continue with the case at this time." 

Johnson is also dropping a separate claim that the Trump campaign underpaid women and minority employees, with Zavareei once again slamming the Obama-nominated Jung. 

"We don’t think we will get a fair hearing from this judge," said Zavareei. 

Trump attorney Charles Harder said in response to the filing: "Ms. Johnson’s court filing last night, giving up the case, represents total victory for President Trump, and fully vindicates him of Johnson’s false accusation." 

"Ms. Johnson’s filing last night also fully vindicates the Trump Campaign, and verifies that the Trump Campaign fully complied with all applicable laws as to Ms. Johnson and all of its other employees." 

Harder had argued that Johnson repeatedly violated a nondisclosure agreement in connection with her work for the Trump campaign.

"The President and Campaign are weighing their legal options against Ms. Johnson at this time, and have demanded that she reimburse them for the attorneys’ fees and costs they incurred in her failed lawsuit," he said, adding "Just as the President defeated the Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit and obtained an order requiring her to pay his legal fees, so too should Alva Johnson reimburse the President’s legal fees and costs incurred here."

Interestingly, the MSM seemed to hold this "credible accusation" at arm's length - perhaps because Trump kissing a black woman would conflict with their 'super racist president' narrative, or maybe because it was obvious BS from the start?

Published:9/5/2019 1:55:53 PM
[Trump Administration] Trump Rolls Back Obama’s Light Bulb Regs

By Chris White -

The Trump administration announced new rules Wednesday rolling back requirements for energy-saving light bulbs, The New York Times reported. The Department of Energy move will prevent new efficiency standards on light bulbs from taking effect on Jan. 1 under a law passed in 2007 under former President George Bush’s final ...

Trump Rolls Back Obama’s Light Bulb Regs is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:9/5/2019 10:30:31 AM
[Markets] The Future Of The Spectacle... Or How The West Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Reality Police

Authored (satirically) by CJ Hopkins via Off-Guardian.org,

If you want a vision of the future, don’t imagine “a boot stamping on a human face — for ever,” as Orwell suggested in 1984. Instead, imagine that human face staring mesmerized into the screen of some kind of nifty futuristic device on which every word, sound, and image has been algorithmically approved for consumption by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”) and its “innovation ecosystem” of “academic, corporate, and governmental partners.”

The screen of this futuristic device will offer a virtually unlimited range of “non-divisive” and “hate-free” content, none of which will falsify or distort the “truth,” or in any way deviate from “reality.”

Western consumers will finally be free to enjoy an assortment of news, opinion, entertainment, and educational content (like this Guardian podcast about a man who gave birth, or MSNBC’s latest bombshell about Donald Trump’s secret Russian oligarch backers) without having their enjoyment totally ruined by discord-sowing alternative journalists like Aaron Maté or satirists like myself.

“Fake news” will not appear on this screen. All the news will be “authentic.” DARPA and its partners will see to that. You won’t have to worry about being “influenced” by Russians, Nazis, conspiracy theorists, socialists, populists, extremists, or whomever.

Persons of Malicious Intent will still be able to post their content (because of “freedom of speech” and all that stuff), but they will do so down in the sewers of the Internet where normal consumers won’t have to see it.

Anyone who ventures down there looking for it (i.e., such “divisive” and “polarizing” content) will be immediately placed on an official DARPA watchlist for “potential extremists,” or “potential white supremacists,” or “potential Russians.”

Once that happens, their lives will be over (ie, the lives of the potentially extremist fools who have logged onto whatever dark web platform will still be posting essays like this, not the lives of the Persons of Malicious Intent, who never had any lives to begin with, and who by that time will probably be operating out of some heavily armed, off-the-grid compound in Idaho).

Their schools, employers, and landlords will be notified. Their photos and addresses will be published online. Anyone who ever said two words to them (or, God help them, appears in a photograph with them) will have 24 hours to publicly denounce them, or be placed on DARPA’s watchlist themselves.

Meanwhile, up where the air is clean, Western consumers will sit in their cubicles, or stagger blindly down the sidewalk like zombies, or come barrel-assing at you on their pink corporate scooters, staring down at the screens of their devices, where normal reality will be unfolding.

They will stare at their screens at their dinner tables, in restaurants, in bed, and everywhere else. Every waking hour of their lives will be spent consuming the all-consuming, smiley, happy, global capitalist Spectacle, every empty moment of which will be monitored and pre-approved by DARPA.

What a relief that will finally be, not to have to question anything, or wonder what is real and what isn’t.

When the corporate media tell us the Russians hacked an election,...or the Vermont power grid, ...or are blackmailing the president with an FSB pee-tape,

...or that the non-corporate media are all “propaganda peddlers,”

...or that the Labour Party is a hive of anti-Semites,

...or that some boogeyman has WMDs, or is yanking little babies out of their incubators, or gratuitously gassing them, or attacking us with crickets,

...or that someone secretly met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy,

...or that we’re being attacked by Russian spy whales, and suddenly self-radicalized Nazi terrorists,

...or it’s time for the “International Community” to humanitarianly intervene because “our house is burning,” and our world is on fire, and there are “concentration camps,” and a “coup in Great Britain”…

...or whatever ass-puckering apocalyptic panic the global capitalist ruling classes determine they need to foment that day, we will know that this news has been algorithmically vetted and approved by DARPA and its corporate, academic, and government partners, and thus, is absolutely “real” and “true,” or we wouldn’t be seeing it on the screen of our devices.

If you think this vision is science fiction, or dystopian satire, think again. Or read this recent article in Bloomberg, “U.S. Unleashes Military to Fight Fake News, Disinformation.”

Here’s the lede to get you started …

Fake news and social media posts are such a threat to U.S. security that the Defense Department is launching a project to repel ‘large-scale, automated disinformation attacks’…the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants custom software that can unearth fakes hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, video and audio clips. If successful, the system after four years of trials may expand to detect malicious intent and prevent viral fake news from polarizing society…”

What could be more reassuring than the knowledge that DARPA and its corporate partners will be scanning the entire Internet for content created with “malicious intent,” or which has the potential to “polarize” society, and making sure we never see that stuff? If they can’t do it, I don’t know who can.

They developed the Internet, after all.

I’m not exactly sure how they did it, but Yasha Levine wrote a book about it, which I think we’re still technically allowed to read.

Anyway, according to the Bloomberg article, DARPA and its corporate partners won’t have the system up and running in time for the 2020 elections, so the Putin-Nazis will probably win again.

Which means we are looking at four more years of relentless Russia and fascism hysteria, and fake news and divisive content hysteria, and anti-Semitism and racism hysteria, and … well, basically, general apocalyptic panic over anything and everything you can possibly think of.

Believe me, I know, that prospect is exhausting … but the global capitalist ruling classes need to keep everyone whipped up into a shrieking apoplectic frenzy over anything other than global capitalism until they can win the War on Populism and globally implement the New Normality, after which the really serious reality policing can finally begin.

I don’t know, call me crazy, or a Person of Malicious Intent, but I think I’d prefer that boot in the face.

Published:9/4/2019 11:22:23 PM
[The Blog] Obama appointee orders WH reporter’s credentials restored

White House pushes back

The post Obama appointee orders WH reporter’s credentials restored appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/4/2019 7:22:29 PM
[Markets] Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig Acquitted Over Lying About Ukraine Work

Former Obama White House attorney Gregory Craig has been found not guilty of lying to federal officials about his work for the Ukrainian government on a project led by jailed lobbyist Paul Manafort, according to the Washington Post

The 74-year-old Craig, a former top legal adviser to both Bill Clinton and Obama, was facing one felony count of making false statements to investigators who were probing whether he and his law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires Americans being paid by foreign governments or politicians to influence US policy to register with the DOJ. 

The report was commissioned by the Ukrainian government in a project led by Paul Manafort, a political adviser to Yanukovych. A wealthy Ukrainian businessman, Viktor Pinchuk, secretly paid Skadden $4.15 million for work on the report, testimony showed. -WaPo

Of note, lobbyist Tony Podesta retroactively filed his FARA registration while working for the same Manafort-led effort, weeks before Manafort was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller. 

The 12 jurors took less than a day to conclude that Craig - who testified that he never lied to investigators - did not intentionally cover up details of his involvement in a media outreach for the Ukrainian report

Craig, President Barack Obama’s first White House counsel and impeachment counsel for former Yale Law School classmate President Bill Clinton, took the stand in his own defense, saying he did not lie, never believed he had a role in Ukraine’s media plan and played no role in formulating it.

Craig was the first prominent Democrat charged in an investigation spun off from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe.

The charge carried up to a five-year prison sentence, although federal guidelines could recommend probation for a first-time offender. -WaPo

Prosecutors had argued that Craig failed to register under FARA because disclosure of his Ukraine work would negatively reflect on his firm and hinder his colleagues' ability to quickly return to government service

Assistant US Attorney Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez told jurors that Craig's status as a very experienced Washington attorney meant that he should have known better than to lie. 

"It doesn’t get more experienced than Mr. Craig," said Campoamor-Sanchez. "He’s a man of position. He’s very careful about what he does and how he does it."

Still, Campoamor-Sanchez added, Craig chose to conceal information in order to prevent potentially damaging details about his firm’s work with Ukraine from surfacing. He said those details included payment arrangements for the report, which allowed the bulk of Skadden’s more than $4 million fee to be provided by a wealthy Ukrainian businessman sympathetic to Yanukovych’s government.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice stated publicly in 2012 that it had agreed to pay Skadden about $12,000 for its work. Although Craig and his law firm did tell the FARA unit about the third-party payer situation, it declined to reveal the particular individual because he didn’t want his identity disclosed. Much of the money Skadden received for the report was wired through a bank account in Cyprus controlled by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. -Bloomberg

The core of the US Government's case revolved around emails between Craig and a New York Times journalist, along with a hand-delivered copy of the Ukraine report to the journalist's Washington home prior to it being made public. Craig wrote that the Ukrainians "have determined" that the reporter should be allowed an exclusive first look at the report. Craig also offered to discuss the report. 

Jurors also heard testimony from former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, who cooperated under a plea deal. Gates, during his work for Manafort’s consulting firm, helped facilitate third-party payments to Skadden for its report.

At that time, both Manafort and Gates were advising Yanukovych, whom they helped get elected.

The government attempted to use Gates’s testimony to paint Craig as a willing participant in the public relations plan for the Skadden report. But Craig’s defense team cited Gates’s past crimes, conspiracy and lying to federal investigators, to discredit his testimony.

He is, in plain and simple terms, a con artist,” Murphy said during closing arguments. “This is a man who will do anything to get probation.” -Bloomberg

In January, Skadden turned over $4.6 million it made in Ukraine in a deal struck with the Justice Department. The firm admitted that it should have registered for its 2012 and 2013 work, and that Craig made "false and misleading oral and written statements." 

Published:9/4/2019 7:22:29 PM
[7127bb49-8af8-51a2-80e6-4c663d926cee] Obamas accused of ‘deplorable behavior’ amid trademark dispute: 'Not consistent with the values they preach' Barack and Michelle Obama have been accused of “deplorable behavior” by a Los Angeles entertainment attorney for filing a “meritless petition” amid a trademark dispute over the name of their company, Higher Ground Productions. Published:9/4/2019 12:19:11 PM
[Markets] Paul Craig Roberts: I Feel Sorry For President Trump

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

Yes, I know. I am lining up on the wrong side. You are supposed to hate him. The presstitutes hate Trump. So does the Democratic Party, part of the Republican Party, the military/security complex, the entirety of the liberal/progressive/left, the universities, feminists, and Washington’s vassal states. No one likes him but the “racist, white supremacist Trump deplorables.”

Nevertheless, I feel sorry for him. I started feeling sorry for him when he announced he would run for President of the United States. You see, I had inside information.

I had held a presidential appointment from a President of the United States. I ended up fighting battles for him against entrenched interests who opposed his policies to end stagflation and the cold war. I helped to win the battles for him, as his accolades to me testify, but my success ended any career for me in government.

I knew that, unlike Reagan who had prepared his run over the years and had a movement behind him, Trump had not. Moreover, also unlike Reagan, Trump had no idea of what he was walking into and no idea of who to appoint to important offices who might be inclined to help him. Generally speaking, the value of a presidential appointment, such as the one I had, lies NOT in helping the president, but in helping the ruling private establishment. Any Assistant Secretary can be very helpful to private interests and end up a multi-millionaire. Indeed, most of them do.

But I put the country’s interest ahead of mine and helped Reagan to cure stagflation and to end the cold war. Curing stagflation was perceived as a threat by the economics profession which had no cure and didn’t want to be shown up by dissident supply-side economists, and much of Wall Street misunderstood what the media called “Reaganomics” as more inflationary deficit spending that threatened their stock and bond portfolios. Ending the Cold War threatened the budget of the military/security complex, a dangerous undertaking.

A decade or two ago a person I had known when I was in Washington, who was a professor in Massachusetts, telephoned me. He said he had just returned from Washington where he had had lunch with some of my former colleagues. He had asked them about me, and according to his report, they said: “Poor Craig. If he had not turned critic, he would be worth tens of millions of dollars like us.” My former acquaintance said that he stood up and said that he didn’t realize that he was having lunch with a bunch of whores and left.

Obviously, my acquaintance did not intend to return to a Washington career.

What does this have to do with Trump? 

Trump’s life was going well. He is a billionaire married to the most beautiful woman in the world. The last thing he needed was the problems of the United States. To change the locked in, interest group controlled course of America requires a superhero. This is definitely not a job for an unprepared man in his 70s. The truckloads of mud dumped on him by porn stars and prostitutes are unlikely to have strengthened his relationship with his wife.

As I predicted would be the case, Trump had no idea who to appoint to help him.Consequently, he appointed everyone opposed to his renewal of American jobs and peaceful relationships with Russia, China, Iran, and the Middle East. So nothing has changed. Why in the world a successful person covets an office where failure is the norm is beyond me.

Trump’s first, and perhaps only, term has been consumed in the Russiagate orchestration. John Brennan, the CIA director, and James Comey, the FBI director, along with President Obama, the Obama Justice (sic) Department, the presstitute American media, and the Hillary Democratic National Committee concocted an absurd investigation of the elected President of the United States as a Russian agent, a tool of Vladimir Putin’s plan to rule America. 

How anyone could believe such a preposterous story is incredible. But Democrats and the presstitutes claimed it was true. But Mueller was unable to establish it. After his failure, Mueller’s testimony before Congress was immensely embarrassing to him, the Democrats, and the whore American media.

Trump, with the deck cleared, hoped to hold accountable those who tried to overthrow him in a coup. Comey was investigated. He was found indictable on a number of offenses. The Department of Justice (sic) Inspector General’s report concluded:

“The IG report confirms Mr. Comey improperly kept FBI files on President Trump at his home and that he illicitly leaked these FBI files to the New York Times in order to advance his personal agenda of getting a Special Counsel appointed to target the president. Comey also misled both the FBI and Congress about his handling of these documents. On top of all of that, in violation of law, he kept and disclosed classified information.”

Here is Howie Carr’s summary:

Let me summarize the 80-plus pages for you by pulling out some quotes:

“Violated Department and FBI policies. …

Comey Improperly Disclosed …

Comey’s Improper Disclosures…

Comey’s characterization finds no support in the law and is wholly incompatible with the plain language of the statutes, regulations and policies defining federal records, and the terms of Comey’s FBI Employment Agreement. …

Comey violated …

this assertion is without legal basis. …

Unauthorized disclosure …

Former Director Comey failed to live up to this responsibility … a dangerous example …..”

And so on.

The IG report generously forgot that Comey went before the FISA Court with a fraudulent request, which is a felony.

Comey’s offenses exceed those of Mike Milken, Leona Helmsley, and Martha Stewart, all of whom were put in prison on false charges in order to raise the name recognition of ambitious publicity-seeking prosecutors, one of whom was Comey himself. Comey framed Martha Stewart.

Rudy Giuliani framed Milken in order to become New York City Mayor. Helmsley was framed on the basis of a false statement by an accountant solicited by the Justice (sic) Department in exchange for dropping prosecution of the accountant for his own misdeeds.

Mueller presided over the FBI’s 9/11 investigation and deepsixed all the real evidence in order to protect the false official story.

So, what did the Justice (sic) Department IG suggest for Comey? The Justice Department refused to prosecute.

Justice is far less important to the department than protecting its own. The Justice Department is itself engaging in misconduct by refusing to prosecute a person that the Justice Department knows beyond all doubt committed crimes. Did the Justice Department decide that Comey’s crimes can be forgiven because they were committed for good cause—getting rid of President Trump?

Former US Attorneys and Assistant US Attorneys are on record predicting that there would be indictments of those who orchestrated Russiagate in a conspiracy of sedition to overthrow the elected President of the United States. I would have liked to have believed it, but I never did.The United States does not have a Justice system. In the place of justice the US has a weapon in the hands of the state. It is not a weapon that the state often uses against its own functionaries.

Don’t forget. The Justice Department and FBI covered up for Hillary. She had broken laws governing official State Department email and used a private server to hide her wheeling and dealing. Judicial Watch is attempting to open up the coverup. A federal court has given Judicial Watch power to depose Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills and to interrogate others. I suspect the judge will be overturned by a politically chosen Appeals Court, and that will be the end of the matter.

I am unable to recall examples of the US government or its officials being held accountable and do not remember a single incident other than President Reagan’s prosecution of the Iran-Contra neoconservatives, who were pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

Now that Comey has been protected, we have to expect that his co-conspirators in the plot to overthrow the President of the United States will also be protected from prosecution. It will be interesting to count all the crimes that will not be punished and add up all the prison years that won’t be served. When you think about the large percentage of innocent people in prison and on death row and about the mothers of young children who are imprisoned for drug possession, it makes you sick that Comey who tried to overthrow the elected President of the United States is permitted to walk.

All future presidents will have learned from Trump’s fate that their real job is to foment enough American enemies to keep the military/security complex’s budget expanding. The United States will continue on its course toward war with its homemade adversaries.

Published:9/3/2019 3:50:19 PM
[The Blog] Mattis: You won’t believe how Obama and Biden bungled Iraq and allowed the rise of ISIS

"Catastrophic decisions."

The post Mattis: You won’t believe how Obama and Biden bungled Iraq and allowed the rise of ISIS appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/3/2019 1:43:16 PM
[Media] Vox journalist Aaron Rupar deletes his dunk on Trump because Obama said the same thing

Never try to dunk on Trump before checking to see that Obama didn't do the exact same thing.

The post Vox journalist